“The Great Spirit Speaks: Voices of the Wise Ones”

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Baha’i scriptures offer a treasure trove of wisdom. The sheer wealth of these texts staggers the imagination; For Baha’u’llah, nearly 20,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over six million words. For the Bab, over 2,000 unique works have been identified, comprising almost five million words. For Abdu’l-Baha, over 30,000 unique works have been identified, comprising over five million words. That’s one big “Bible”!

In ancient times the people of America were, through their northern regions, close to Asia, that is, separated from Asia by a strait. For this reason, it hath been said that crossing had occurred. There are other signs which indicate communication. As to places whose people were not informed of the appearance of Prophets, such people are excused. In the Qur’án it hath been revealed: “We will not chastise them if they had not been sent a Messenger.”1

Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablet to Amir Khan is remarkable, and unique in the history of religions because it authenticates the appearance of Messengers of God — i.e. “culture heroes,” “wisdom bearers,” “Prophets of God” — to ancient North America. This is one good example of Baha’i universalism.

The “Tablet to Amir Khan” offers no names of any of these Native American Messengers of God. But we don’t have to look far to find them. Let me give one example: Deganawida, “the Peacemaker.” There is a Baha’i prophecy regarding the future of Native Americans. In what has been characterized as the sole “specific racial prophecy in all of the Baha’i scriptures,” ‘Abdu’l-Baha gives us this glimpse into the future: attach great importance to the indigenous population of America. For … there can be no doubt that they will become so illumined as to enlighten the whole world. Perhaps this prophecy will become realized when both the ancient wisdom of the Native Americans is brought into harmony with Baha’i wisdom.

Here’s a similar prophecy from an authentic text of Deganawida’s teachings; Thereupon Tekanawita [Deganawida] stood up in the center of the gathering place, and then he said; first I will answer what it means to say, “Now it is arriving, the Good Message.” This, indeed, is what it means: When it stops, the slaughter of your own people who live here on earth, then everywhere peace will come about, by day and also by night, and it will come about that as one travels around, everyone will be related… Now again, secondly, I say, “Now it is arriving, the Power,” and this means that the different nations, all of the nations, will become just a single one, and the Great Law will come into being, so that all now will be related to each other, and there will come to be just a single family, and in the future, in days to come, this family will continue on. Now, in turn, the other, my third saying, “Now it is arriving, the Peace,” this means that everyone will become related, men and also women, and also the young people and the children, and when all are relatives, every nation, then there will be peace… Then there will be truthfulness, and they will uphold hope and charity so that it is a peace that will unite all of the people, indeed, it will be as though they have but one mind, and they are a single person with only one body and one head and one life, which means that there will be unity … When they are functioning, the Good Message and also the Power and the Peace, these will be the principal things everybody will live by; these will be the great values among the people.

Unquestionably, Quetzalcoatl is Mesoamerica’s most celebrated sage–sovereign. Born in 1123 CE, Quetzalcoatl ruled over Tula, the Toltec capital, between 1153 and 1175 CE. This enlightened emperor inaugurated the “turquoise age” in ancient Tollan, the archaeological site of Tula in the Central Highlands in the heart of ancient Mexico. Quetzalcoatl challenged the “sacrificial logic” and militarism of ancient Mexican culture, by abolishing the entrenched practice of human sacrifice. Founding a functionally new religion, Quetzalcoatl taught prayer and penance. Upon this social and moral foundation, Quetzalcoatl established a new, flourishing civilization. Quite naturally, this incurred the wrath of powerful shaman–sorcerers, guardians of the old religion. His arch-nemesis, Tezcatlipoca, tricked and shamed Quetzalcoatl, and forced him into exile from Tollan, never to return. Or would he? Yes. According to long-held prophetic tradition, Quetzalcoatl would one day return to reclaim his throne and reinstate Tula as the state capital. In the “Europeanization” of the Quetzalcoatl prophecy, Motecuhzoma , the last Aztec emperor of Mexico, tragically mistook the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, for the return of Quetzalcoatl

The Conquest, a collision of two worlds, would one day be reversed, according to the prophecy of Quetzalcoatl’s return. Mesoamerica was clearly an area where a combined religious-secular leadership pattern had evolved to an unusually high degree. It provided an exceptionally favorable cultural climate for a gifted individual of high station to make his historical mark on society. Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl may well have been such a person. I am not suggesting that we might be confronted here with a Mesoamerican Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, or Muhammad, for no comparable systematized body of religious doctrine seems to have stemmed from his life or teachings, but his impact on cult activities in Mesoamerica may have been considerable.

This is a fair estimate of the cultural and religious importance of Quetzalcoatl. Like Deganawida, who came centuries later and who did leave behind laws and teachings, Quetzalcoatl stopped the unnecessary shedding of human blood and promoted a fresh and vibrant civilization. Popularly, although unofficially, Baha’is widely believe that Quetzalcoatl may well be comparable to Buddha, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, or Muhammad.

This central teaching of the Baha’i Faith – that all of God’s messengers evince essentially one and the same spirit – applies not only to the familiar founders of Faith like Abraham, Moses, Christ, and Muhammad but to every prophet who appeared to every people in every place. In a speech he gave in Paris, Abdu’l-Baha said as much, referring to the messengers of God…

The greatest power of the Holy Spirit exists in the Divine Manifestations of the Truth. Through the power of the Spirit the Heavenly Teaching has been brought into the World of Humanity. Through the power of the Spirit life everlasting has come to the children of men. Through the power of the Spirit the Divine Glory has shone from East to West, and through the power of the same Spirit will the divine virtues of humanity become manifest.(Paris Talks)2

Please find see the PDF resource for this Sunday’s Presentation – Indigenous Messengers of God.