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Yone Noguchi was an influential writer of poetry, fiction, essays and literary criticism in both English and Japanese.
“I have heard so much about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whom people call an idealist, but I should like to call Him a realist, because no idealism, when it is strong and true, exists without the endorsement of realism. There is nothing more real than His words on truth. His words are as simple as the sunlight; again like the sunlight, they are universal…. No Teacher, I think, is more important today than ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.”
“It would be unwise…to attempt to picture even in broad outlines what might be the kind of social system that would be most likely to emerge after a profound reorganization of mankind on a global scale. For a relatively long time the process of re-structuring a society of such a scope and obvious complexity would almost inevitably know ups and downs, and perhaps crucial conflicts; unless a very large section of the coming generations spontaneously would experience such a change of consciousness that, perhaps under some quasi-divine guidance, they can readily accept as valid and necessary some basic principles of social organization, such as, for instance, is envisioned by adherents to the Bahá’í Faith.”
From Directives for New Life
“…Thus the “massacre of the Innocents”, among whom Herod hoped to have the newborn Jesus destroyed, is really to be interpreted as the cyclic destruction of those Initiates who pave the way for the Great One, and whose sacrificial deaths leaven the soil in whom His mission is to become rooted. These Initiates represent the John-the-Baptist phase of the avataric descent. They are heralds as well as martyrs. They close a cycle, and make the opening of another possible.
We find the same series of happenings in the Bahá’í traditions. The Báb and the thousands of his followers who underwent martyrdom leavened the soil trod by Bahá’u’lláh, the “Glory of God”.”
From New Mansions for New Men
Mark Tobey was one of the leading American painters of his generation. His unique abstract paintings strongly influenced many artists as did his championing of the Bahá’í Faith and other Eastern philosophies.
“The root of all religions, from the Bahá’í point of view, is based on the theory that man will gradually come to understand the unity of the world and the oneness of mankind. It teaches that all the prophets are one – that science and religion are the two great powers which must be balanced if man is to become mature. I feel my work has been influenced by these beliefs. I’ve tried to decentralize and interpenetrate so that all parts of a painting are of related value… Mine are the Orient, the Occident, science, religion, cities, space, and writing a picture.”
“What rivers of inspiration pour from the greatness of Bahá’u’lláh’s Being as He attempts to acquaint us with this vision of Oneness, this sublimity of the One Great Power! It is, as though from every leaf and doorway, from every cloud and flower, from the mystery of sun and shadow, rain and heat – multiple mystic voices poured into His Heart the Glories of God. It is as though His eye beheld and knew the mystery hidden by the ardour of Its own manifestation!”
“When you grow up with a spiritual foundation that asks you to be conscious of the fact that all races are created equal, that men and women are equal and that all religions worship the same God, it helps you see the world as one family and not get lost in the traps of political, social and economic belief systems that can lead you astray. I always think of myself as a world citizen. It’s a powerful thing…
I was in New York City, going to acting school, and I was going through a rebellious phase. I didn’t want anyone telling me what to do. I was disenchanted with things that were organized. It was a spiritual journey I was on. And this is reflected in and supported by one of the central tenets of the Bahá’í Faith, which obliges every spiritual seeker to undertake an individual investigation of truth.
I started at ground zero. I decided I didn’t know if there was even a God. I read religious books of the world. I asked myself, “If there is a God, how do we know what He wants us to do and what He wants for us? Do we read books? Do we buy crystals? Do we follow certain gurus? Do we sit under a tree? Because surely this omniscient creator has some kind of plan in store for mankind…”
It brought me back to the Bahá’í way of viewing things. I came to realize I did believe in God. I couldn’t conceive of a universe without someone overseeing it in a compassionate way. It just made the most sense to me that God gradually is unfolding a plan for humankind. That there is progressive revelation — the Bahá’í belief that God sends Messengers for each day and age. I re-read books about the Bahá’í Faith. And I came back to believing that Bahá’u’lláh was the Promised One and Messenger for this day and age…
My feeling about the Faith is that it provides a practical guideline for living one’s life. So much about religion has to do with rigid, sacrosanct preciousness. I don’t live my life that way, and I don’t feel that’s what Bahá’u’lláh teaches. He wants us to live rich, full, loving lives in service to God’s will and the human family.
I love how democratic the (Bahá’í) Faith is, that it has no clergy, no people telling us how to interpret the word of God. In this day and age we see how corrupt clergy can lead mankind down so many bad roads.”
As a performer and mentor, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie” was one of the most influential jazz trumpeters and bandleaders of the 20th century. He was instrumental in the founding of the be-bop style and Afro-Cuban jazz.
“I believe that there is one God and He manifests Himself to mankind through great teachers for specific periods of time in our spiritual development, that He sends them periodically. It’s like a relay runner who has a baton in his hand. You could look at the Word of God like a baton, the Holy Spirit. The runner grabs the baton and he runs and runs and runs; and while he runs that is the revelation of what’s happening. When he gets to the end, he passes it on to the next guy, and he starts running with it, and that’s the next religion. It’s the same religion; it’s just that a different prophet’s running with it. He passes it to the next and the next and so on until there is peace and unity of mankind on earth as it is in Heaven.”
“Becoming a Bahá’í changed my life in every way and gave me a new concept of the relationship between God and man – between man and his fellow man – man and his family. It’s just all consuming. I became more spiritually aware, and when you’re spiritually aware, that will be reflected in what you do. They teach you in the Bahá’í faith, without the idea of stopping you from doing things, to fill your life with doing something that’s for real, and those other things you do, that are not for real, will fall off by themselves. I never needed to say, ‘I’m gonna stop doing this.’ I just found out that there was no time for it anymore. I started praying and reading a lot too. The (Bahá’í) writings gave me new insight on what the plan is – God’s plan – for this time, the truth of the oneness of God, the truth of the oneness of the prophets, the truth of the oneness of mankind. That’s it; that’s what I learned.”
“In the Bahá’í religion we don’t believe in cutting loose anything good. Cut loose your heritage? Bahá’ís believe that you bring it in and work with others. Bring it into the whole just like a master painting. Because I’m purple and there’s another cat who’s orange doesn’t mean that we can’t come into one big compatible complementary arrangement. Just contribute from your own uniqueness, but don’t get over in their groove. Stay outta theirs!”
From Dizzy – To Be Or Not To Bop, 1979
“At the front and head of all saints, poets, artists and philosophers, stand great figures – Moses, Krishna, Zoroaster, Guatama, Christ. Mohammed, and, I believe, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh – shedding light and love upon mankind – the milestones of human evolution. No power of kings and conquerors, nor even of genius, can compare with the sway which their authority has exercised throughout recorded history, until day has turned to night and men have twisted Their Teachings to suit their own purposes…
Bahá’u’lláh’s light shone in Persia and Palestine a century ago. He recognized and united the Teachings of all the Founders of religions providing thereby a true basis for World Peace and Unity… He has left a great body of writing and a complete Plan of World Order based upon man’s relationship with God, man’s relationship with himself, and man’s relationship with man.”
From My Religious Faith, 1953
“A man was born at the close of one era and the beginning of another, whose concept of inclusive unity gave so powerful a voice as to eventually force me out of my persistent doubt. His name was Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God). Born in Persia in 1817, he died in Palestine in 1892 after forty years of exile and prison, from whence His fuller revelation emanated. For the first time a divine Genius could speak to mankind during the greatest crisis in history. This is the ‘time of the end’ (of an epoch), when men may comprehend that which Jesus said they could not comprehend in his day. Instead of a diminution of the concept of God to nullity is its expansion to man’s united wholeness. How else can we understand each other or hope for peace?…
To those readers who feel surprised that I give such loyalty to three Persian Teachers whose spiritual and practical lives were selfless as was Christ’s, my reply is that the absence of the separating self implies the Presence of God. Those pure mirrors reflecting the Essence of Being described in the Bible as ‘I am that I am’ I have called spiritual or divine Geniuses of the human race.”
From Drawings, Verse and Belief, 1973