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Unities of All Things

The Unicentric Paradigm
Introduction | God in the Singular & the Plural | Unifying Essences
Special Beings | Dimensionality | Perennial & Divine Philosophies
Additional Philosophies | Critical Realism | Sciences | Conclusion

I. Introduction
The Basics

O Glory of the All-Glorious!

I am, to be candid, an unusually fallible and imperfect being. My mind often changes like the weather. Even if you do not entirely agree with the Unicentric Paradigm™, should past experience be any indication, neither will I, a day or a year from now. I also try to write simply, but wordiness and awkward phrasing are communication challenges I face as an Autist. Humbly, therefore, I ask that you ponder over each of the items in the framework, not read through them too quickly. Although I usually appear, these days, to be neurotypical (neurologically typical), I am, like most Autists, actually quite eccentric. My oddities will be evident throughout the book.

Definition of unicentric
adj. having one center
adjective \¦yünə ¦sen·trik, -rēk\
Definition of UNICENTRIC
: having a single center (as of origin or dispersal) <a unicentric genus of plants>
Dictionary Definitions of Unicentric. Retrieved on September 25, 2012.

Needless to say, approaching the creative Word is infinitely better than reading the sentences of an unqualified soul like myself. This book is a work in progress, and it has become a mirror of my heart. In order to be of some service to readers, I have tried to write the material as well as I possibly could. However, my own inadequacies and my personal limitations will be constantly evident, and I apologize. I am being completely serious. Rely upon the Sacred Texts. Please, do not trust me as a source. Go directly to the Bahá’í Scriptures. They are widely available online, including on one of my sites, The Bahá’í Studies Web Server.

I feel that regarding such interpretations (of verses from the Scriptures) no one has the right to impose his view or opinion and require his listeners to believe in his particular interpretation of the sacred and prophetic writings. I have no objection to your interpretations and inferences so long as they are represented as your own personal observations and reflections. It would be unnecessary and confusing to state authoritatively and officially a dogmatic Bahá’í interpretation to be universally accepted and taught by believers. Such matters I feel should be left to the personal judgement and insight of individual teachers.
Shoghi Effendi, The Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community. April 6, 1928. Page 423.

Through prayer, meditation, service, and investigation, one’s understandings evolve. Anything I write in the book will, without a doubt, be flawed or defective. No human being can represent the official teachings of the Religion of God for today, the Bahá’í Faith. Inevitably, my views will also differ, to some extent, from those of others. However, by encouraging tolerance, pluralism, and unity within diversity, I pray that my model of the great chain of being (a concept developed by Aristotle), or something similar to it, will contribute to successful interfaith dialogues. The individual items and their unities will be explored in greater detail in this and in later chapters.

The Unicentric Paradigm, and all of my work on this site, is about unity, not about conspiratorial disunity. As an expression of unity, each of us is an interdimensional, a transdimensional, or an extradimensional being. Perhaps these dimensions are manifested, through lifeworlds or conditions of existence, in something like the Unicentric Paradigm. By living a life of inner communion, through prayer and meditation, and perhaps by studying the paradigm or similar perspectives, we might discover many of these worlds. Even more worlds of God will, I presume, be revealed in future Dispensations and Prophetic Cycles:

O handmaid of God! Although the reality of Divinity is sanctified and boundless, the aims and needs of the creatures are restricted. God’s grace is like the rain that cometh down from heaven: the water is not bounded by the limitations of form, yet on whatever place it poureth down, it taketh on limitations—dimensions, appearance, shape—according to the characteristics of that place. In a square pool, the water, previously unconfined, becometh a square; in a six-sided pool it becometh a hexagon, in an eight-sided pool an octagon, and so forth. The rain itself hath no geometry, no limits, no form, but it taketh on one form or another, according to the restrictions of its vessel. In the same way, the Holy Essence of the Lord God is boundless, immeasurable, but His graces and splendours become finite in the creatures, because of their limitations, wherefore the prayers of given persons will receive favourable answers in certain cases.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 161.
The Unicentric Paradigm™
Nineteen-Pointed Star

The Unicentric Paradigm is a nineteen-dimensional many-worlds model. It attempts to tentatively describe a portion of the multiverse. However, because spiritual realities cannot be adequately illustrated by size or by shape, the paradigm, shown below, is an outline, not a diagram:

... we should be very careful not to consider geometrical figures as expressing in an absolutely true form what is in reality spiritual relations and beyond our comprehension. The charts may be helpful to state some primary facts but surely the reality has elements far beyond what they can express.
From a letter, dated January 24, 1933, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.
    1. Any  unifying essence of beings and things is a Being, a unifying Structure, an inner Reality, and a Collective Center of divine attributes. The highest Essential Unity (the Deity, infinite Essence, divine Unity, True One, Godhead, Great Being, and Source), the rational and unknowable God (ﷲ, Allāh, the God), exists as the Essence of Essences. He is the “Unifying” or “Unification” (Arabic1, al-Tawḥīd), the Cosmic Envelope, and the unknowable Essence (al-Hāhūt, Haecceity, Quiddity, He-ness, or He Himself). God is the Unity of the SPIRITUAL KINGDOM and of Each of the unifying essences, innermost essences, essential unities, universal realities, collective realities, or universals along with their beings and things. Existence, in its diversity or individuality, can be seen as one. Moreover, because all attributes (including religious moral codes), beings, and things depend upon God, they can be created, changed, or destroyed relative to His Will.

  2. SPIRITUAL KINGDOM (unity in diversity of souls): This Kingdom of Names and Attributes (of the Unity and His unities), Angelhood (the Angelic Realm), Paradise, or Heaven is manifested by the Prophets to all creation. Sometimes the Kingdom is referred to by only one of the Names of God. Instead of a Trinity, there is an Infinity of Prophets manifested by One God. Within the STATION OF SERVITUDE (or creation), the Kingdom of God is emanated as Progressive Revelation, the Mystery of God, the Hereafter, the World of Dreams, and the Higher Nature.
    2. The Prophets of God are also called Messengers of God and Manifestations of God. The Greater or Independent Prophets are Lawgivers. They establish a new Dispensation. The Lesser or Dependent Prophets, such as St. Paul the Apostle and St. John of the Apocalypse, are Followers and Promoters. They are the Mirrors of the Greater Prophets. Nevertheless, the Dispensation of Bahá’u’lláh will not include any Lesser Prophets.
      1. Station of Essential Unity (Unity of the Prophets): This Station of Divinity (Lāhūt) is the Manifestation of THE UNITY OF GOD in the SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. As a result, the Prophets have a different Nature (Attributes) than human beings. The Prophetic Station of Essential Unity is a Universal (shared) Prophetic Nature. Since these Prophets, in Their Oneness (or First Will), manifest the Station of He is God (Hū Allāh), rejecting even One of Them stakes a claim at “sharing” (al-širk) in God’s Sovereignty and Dominion.
      2. Station of Distinction (Diversity of the Prophets): The divine Singular, or Station of Essential Unity, and the divine Plural, or Station of Distinction, have been unified. Each of the Prophets, manifesting Omnipotence (Ǧabarūt), is a unique Individual. PROPHETHOOD, or the Greater World, is observed by us as a Progressive Revelation of the Universal (shared) Prophetic Nature or divine Manifestation through individual Perfect Men. The Essence of God is manifested in relationship (ancient, eternal Covenant) with humanity. These uncommonly human Prophets (God manifested as Souls) share, and are made up of, the individualized Attributes or ontological Mechanisms (Holy Spirit, Primal Will, Word, or Cause/Command) of the Unity of God. Revelations of specific Attributes result in differences between Their teachings. We learn about the Unity through Its Reflection in diverse Individuals, or Prophets, with personal Names and Missions. To us, not  among Themselves, Bahá’u’lláh, peace be upon Him, has the highest Station. He is the Supreme Manifestation of God.
    4. The station of creation is servitude to the divine Unity. “... the conditions of existence are limited to the conditions of servitude, of prophethood and of Deity ...” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 230). The road to perfection is freedom through service. “The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, page 64).
      1. Progressive Revelation: In this condition, also called the divine philosophy (ʾal-ḥikmaẗ ʾal-ʾilāhiyyaẗ), the Prophets of God progressively manifest Themselves to creation. “The world of being shineth, in this Day, with the resplendency of this Divine Revelation. All created things extol its saving grace, and sing its praises. The universe is wrapt in an ecstasy of joy and gladness” (Bahá’u’lláh in Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, page 78).
      2. Mystery of God (ʾal-Sirra ʾAlla̍h): Servitude is spiritually perfected in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. As the Perfect Man or created Being, He is the Master, Exemplar, Archetype, or Ideal Type of servitude. Perhaps both the beloved Master and His brother, Muḥammad ʿAlī, were exceptionally created beings. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, peace be upon Him, lived up to it. Bahá’u’lláh, peace be upon Him, then blessed Him with perfection. Muḥammad ʿAlī, may God forgive him, broke his Father’s Covenant.
      3. Hereafter: Beings from the HUMAN KINGDOM continue in higher dimensions, or perhaps parallel universes, after death. The attributes, or qualities, of the SPIRITUAL KINGDOM in the world to come are rewards (blessings for good deeds in this world), pardons (for sins committed in this world), and bounties (in the next world). Heavenly attributes, eternal life, or spirit are the ingredients of each departed soul. The immediate heavenly and hellish state of the immortal soul is a result of its accomplishments in this world. A chalice of pure light, or psychic field, might replace some of the functions of the rational faculty, human spirit, or HUMAN KINGDOM. “On him [who makes mention of the name of his Lord] shall ... descend the Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, page 280).
      4. Great Workshop of this World
      5. World of Dreams: This state, wrapped up within each of us and hidden in the innermost reality of this world, is the portal to the Guardian Angels or Archangels (المَلَائِكَة عَلَّى, ʾal-MalāꞋikaẗ ʿAllaỳ) “between them” (بَيْنَهُمَا, bayna-humā, or بَيْنِهِمَا, bayni-himā), i.e., the “Jacobʼs ladder” between the heavens (السَمَوَات, ʾal-samawāt) or the next world and the earth (الأَرْض, ʾal-ꞌarḍ) or this world. These inner-dimensional, interdimensional, and transtemporal healing Beings, such as the Maiden (الحُورِيَّة, ʾal-Ḥūriyyaẗ), are sometimes misidentified as strictly extraterrestrial. Perhaps They live both on and spirituallly within various cosmic spheres. Their omnipresence becomes evident once our physical senses are dimmed. Individually, They constitute the Unifying Essences of the Great Workshop of this World. “It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world [experienced in dreams] is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures.” (Bahá’u’lláh, “Súriy-i-Vafá” or Tablet to Vafá, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 187-188.) Dreams are real. They not the unconscious mental constructs of depth psychology.
      6. Higher Nature (unity in diversity of religions): This human spiritual nature, the soul’s purpose or nobility, consists of the attributes of the unity of revealed religions (the Religion of God) within the SPIRITUAL KINGDOM. The essence of faith is that unity. Progressively deeper teachings or formulations of truth, relative to each Age, are revealed through God’s eternal Covenant. By accepting the unity of religions, we acquire its attributes in this world. “... he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity” (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, page 214). We are born again and live according to our universal or shared Higher Nature. Gradually, the HUMAN KINGDOM is spiritually perfected. These “faithful virtues,” like love and insight, are called the spirit of faith (or faith). In addition to the human spirit, the spirit of faith can become the ingredients of a human soul. “... the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 208). “… the Kingdom has no place, but is connected with man” (page 242). The Higher Nature includes the seven valleys, the four valleys, and other conditions of existence.
    5. HUMAN KINGDOM (unity in diversity of human beings): Humanity (Nāsūt), the universal attributes of the divinely willed unifying “essence of man,” is also termed the rational faculty, rational soul, human spirit, lesser world, universal mind, shared human nature, rationality, humanness, or common faculty2. Included are rational (free will, imagination, thought, understanding, and memory), sensory, growing, and cohesive attributes. They are the ingredients of each human being and of each Prophet’s human nature. Humanity and the human spirit are, like faith and the spirit of faith, identical. To elaborate, human unity or “copresence” is the unknowable unifying essence of man. Being an individual is not being independent. Relationships, throughout an endless multidimensional omniverse of human beings, are formed within a web of interdependence or essential unity. Spirit is the ocean. Souls are the drops. The attributes of the unity of humanity progress from stage to stage (family, tribe, city-state, and nation). Bahá’u’lláh, through the Bahá’í Faith, is now restructuring unity into His World Order, the Kingdom of God on earth, through the reality of the Universal House of Justice (the form of divine Justice in this world). Its conferred infallibility, like any infallibility, is known to God. Its authority, like any authority, is revealed to us.
      1. Human Religion: Revealed religion, from the Higher Nature, becomes accepted, institutionalized, established, or “routinized” as diverse religions or devotional systems, united around Prophets, in the HUMAN KINGDOM.
      2. Disunity: The negations or contradictions of human unity (in diversity), and its attributes, as dualism (division), “demireality,” illusion, disunity in diversity, the old world order, partnership (širk) with God, conflicting human religions, and imperfection may be found wherever the HUMAN KINGDOM does not operate in the Higher Nature. “... unity, mutual attraction, gathering together, engender life, but disunity and inharmony spell death. When thou dost consider all phenomena, thou wilt see that every created thing hath come into being through the mingling of many elements, and once this collectivity of elements is dissolved, and this harmony of components is dissevered, the life form is wiped out” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, page 31). As the SPIRITUAL KINGDOM is Paradise, Heaven, or unity, Disunity is Hell, hellishness, or a lack of unity. “They say: ‘Where is Paradise, and where is Hell?’ Say: ‘The one is reunion with Me; the other thine own self, O thou who dost associate a partner with God and doubtest’” (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 132).
      3. Nature: The physical kingdoms of spacetime, listed below, include the attributes of sensation, growth, and cohesion. Nature (physical attributes), in the HUMAN KINGDOM, is the universal or shared lower nature of human beings. The attributes which are appropriate to focus upon in the lower level are simply presumed in the higher. Focusing upon them is a waste of time.
    6. ANIMAL KINGDOM (unity in diversity of animals): This kingdom may include numerous unifying essences (“species”). The attributes of these divinely willed essential unities (unifying essences) are termed the animal spirit. The ingredients of each animal are sensory (bodily coordination, including fight and flight), cohesive, and growing attributes or traits. They are the animal’s bodily functions (shared by human beings).
    7. VEGETABLE KINGDOM (unity in diversity of vegetables): This kingdom may include numerous unifying essences “species”). The attributes of these divinely willed essential unities (unifying essences) of nature are termed the vegetable spirit. The ingredients of each vegetable are growing and cohesive attributes or traits.
    8. MINERAL KINGDOM (unity in diversity of atoms and subatomic particles): This kingdom may include numerous unifying essences (“species”). The attributes of these divinely willed essential unities (unifying essences) of nature are called the mineral spirit. The ingredients of each mineral are cohesive attributes. Among these attributes are electromagnetism and other forms of energy, gravity, possible antigravity, and the world of time (or formation) which connects entities in the past, present, and future. “... each time that the isolated elements combine conformably to the divine universal system, one being among beings comes into the world” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 292).

To summarize, the Unicentric Paradigm might be regarded as a conceptual framework, or a nominal (categorical) description, of unity or nonduality in diversity or duality. Relativity or duality (al-farq, diversity or difference) is, like unity or nonduality (ʾal-waḥidaẗ ʾal-wuǧūd, unity of existence or being), simply a given. It is not negative. The manifold individualizations of attributes are beautifully created beings and things. However, living exclusively in duality, as if difference is all that matters, can lead to demireality (al-šiqāq, disunity or division).

II. God in the Singular & the Plural
The Divine Singular

The Prophets are distinct from the unknowable Essence of God. Nevertheless, these Celestial Beings, I feel, occupy God’s Station of Essential Unity or the divine Singular. In relation to us, however, the Prophets appear in the Station of Distinction or Plurality. In other words, while They are all, without exception, made up of individualized divine Attributes, Each of Them reveals, in keeping with the Will of God, a particular set of those ancient and everlasting Perfections. Even though the Prophets are given God’s Own Station, the Nature of God and the Nature of Prophethood are not the same.

As a rough analogy, by becoming a follower and a promoter of the Revelation of His Sacred Presence Bahá’u’lláh, one may, God Willing, attain to the station of the Lesser Prophets. One does not, however, acquire a Prophetic Nature:

The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are not regarded as Manifestations “endowed with constancy.”
Bahá’u’lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 111.
The Prophets “regarded as One and the same person” include the Lesser Prophets as well, and not merely Those Who bring a “Book”. The station is different, but they are Prophets and Their nature thus different from that of ours.
From a letter, dated February 8, 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Page 498.

With Bahá’ís, as with Muslims, the most basic teaching is the Unity of God (Tawḥīd, Unifying One). However, the approaches taken by many Muslims to this subject might differ, to an extent, from the perspectives presented in certain Bahá’í texts. For instance, if the particular Souls of Prophets are not fashioned any differently from those of ordinary individuals, calling One of Them “God,” in any sense of that title, might be sacrilege or, in common Muslim and Bahá’í terms, “širk” (literally, sharing). That is to say, according to a popular Muslim argument, one would be assigning partners, or associates, to God.

The Divine Plural

Because the Unicentric Paradigm3 has both a plural and a singular definition of God, it unites, in a way, trinitarianism with unitarianism. Through the rational Unifying Essence of God, the Absolute Supreme Being of all existence, the infinite Persons of Prophethood are structured as One:

  1. God is the Unity of unities behind all things. The Prophets are not the unknowable Essence of God, but God’s Unity, in my opinion, is also the Unity (Tawḥīd, Unifying One) of the Prophets. God, the highest Essential Unity of all existence, manifests, I feel, an interpersonal Structure  of the Prophets. Structures are rules governing relationships, not sets of individuals. Similarly, the unknowable essence or unity of humanity was created by the Will of God. However, specific individuals, each of whom is made of the knowable  attributes of human unity, come and go within this world. Since unifying essences, or Archangels, are universal and collective realities, “unity” is not just a cliché.
  2. Like the Holy Trinity, the Unity is manifested plurally. God, the Individual, refers to the Prophets as Beings made of divine Attributes. They manifest, or reflect, the Unity of God. As Manifestations, Representatives, or Signs of the divine Unity or Essence, They obtain a Name of God (like the Báb and Bahá). Through an Eternal Covenant with humanity, the Prophets progressively manifest the Unity of God to humanity. Nevertheless, in relationship to us, not as a Unity, the God of this world, Jehovah (Hebrew, יהוה, YHWH, He is becoming), is the blessed and beautiful Bahá’u’lláh. His Station is ranked highest.

The Holy Trinity was an ingenious interpretation of the Divinity of the miraculous Jesus Christ (ʿĪsā al-Masīḥ or, in Hebrew, Yēšūăʿ hā-Māšîaḥ). This conception of the Godhead has not only survived. It has been accepted, throughout most of the history of Christianity, by the vast majority of churches both east and west. In the following extract, His Exemplary Presence (Ḥaḍrat) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá partially redefined trinitarianism. He appears to interpret the doctrine as Prophetic Manifestations of the divine Essence through the Holy Spirit or Attributes of God:

... the Reality of Christ was a clear and polished mirror of the greatest purity and fineness. The Sun of Reality, the Essence of Divinity, reflected itself in this mirror and manifested its light and heat in it ....
The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in the Reality of Christ....
This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 114.

The beautiful explanation of the Holy Trinity by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, peace be upon Him (ʿalayhi s-salām), appears to be similar to the twofold station of the Prophets (Manifestations) of God. His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh identifed the twin stations of Prophethood as Unity and Distinction:

These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth....
The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 50-52.
The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 123-124.

In the first quotation below, the Prophet Muḥammad demonstrated why Trinitarianism cannot be taken literally. Jesus was not the biological offspring of the Father. In the next passage, Muḥammad argued that Deity cannot be divided into parts. In the final selection, “Trinity” is not mentioned. From my reading, He was here denouncing, not Trinitarianism itself, but the doctrinal confusion of Christ, the Individual, with the Unity (Tawḥīd) of Prophets. Muḥammad may also have condemned an extreme  Marianism which venerates the Virgin Mary as the mother of “God” instead of the mother of “Jesus’ humanity”:

Jesus the son of Mary was no more than God’s messenger and the fulfillment of His word to Mary, and an inspiration from Him. So acknowledge God and His messengers, and do not say, “Trinity.” Cease, for it is better for you. God is only One God, be He glorified that He should have a son!
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 4:171, Qurʾân: A Reformist Translation  (translated and annotated by Edip Yuksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban, and Martha Schulte-Nafeh).
Ingrates indeed are those who have said, “God is the Messiah son of Mary!” Although the Messiah had said, “O Children of Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever sets up partners with God, then God will forbid paradise for him, and his destiny will be the fire; and the wicked will have nosupporters.” Ingrates indeed are those who have said, “God is the third of trinity!” There is no god but One God.
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 5:72-73, Qurʾân: A Reformist Translation  (translated and annotated by Edip Yuksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban, and Martha Schulte-Nafeh).
God will say, “O Jesus son of Mary, did you tell the people to take you and your mother as gods besides God?” He said, ... “I only said to them what You commanded me to say, that you shall serve God my Lord and your Lord ....”
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 5:116-117, Qurʾân: A Reformist Translation  (translated and annotated by Edip Yuksel, Layth Saleh al-Shaiban, and Martha Schulte-Nafeh).

Placed within a Bahá’í scriptural context, any revised version of trinitarianism must, it seems to me, be expanded into a “unitarianism” (or Singularity) of the Essence of God and an “infinitarianism” (or Plurality), so to speak, of His Prophets, peace be upon Them. That is to say, a reformed “Holy Trinity” would include all of the heavenly Messengers from the past as well as from the future. With little or no surprise, given the “otherness” of these celestial relationships, the Essence is often stated to be “unknowable,” while the Holy Trinity has frequently been explained as a “mystery.”

Therefore, in the Unicentric Paradigm, an Infinity of Prophetic Persons (the Station of Distinction) is, from a divine perspective, explained as One (the Station of Essential Unity). Any number of Bahá’í texts, while strongly monotheistic, appear to be only partially unitarian4. That is to say, God, the Highest Essence, is One (Tawḥīd, Unifying One), undivided, and without partners (širk, sharing), but, through His divine Manifestations, He may be the eternal Unity for infinite Prophetic Persons. Each of Them, in the Station of Distinction, is God manifested.

In addition to the Holy Trinity, the unknowability of the Unity of God, along with all of the attributes which we can feel, may resemble both the “Binity” (God in two Persons) and the beautiful expression, God family (an interpretation of the Hebrew, ʾĔlōhîm, Mighty Ones), which was coined by Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986). His intimate description of plurality through kinship is, I feel, an even more illuminating, heartful, and touching metaphor than the Trinity. As founder of the Worldwide Church of God, Armstrong had a wonderful appreciation for the spiritual foundation of the unity of existence. Clearly, he was a deeply courageous and special soul.

God, to Armstrong, is a combination of familial associations between different persons:

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). In this very first verse of the Bible, God reveals Himself by the Hebrew name ELOHIM. There is one God – but more than one member in the Godhead, or God family! This same word ELOHIM is used in Genesis 1:26: “And GOD [ELOHIM] said, Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.” Here it is clearly seen – in context with the passage itself – that more than one person shares the name of God – ELOHIM. In the New Testament, this is made clear by the revelation that God the Father created all things by and through Jesus Christ – who was with God and was God from the beginning (John 1:1-14; Eph. 3:9). In these passages, therefore, it is revealed that God is more than one person – God the Father and the “Word” or SPOKESMAN, who later became Jesus Christ when born in human flesh. This Father-Son relationship shows that God is a FAMILY. And the way the word ELOHIM is used in these early passages in Genesis and elsewhere certainly indicates that God is the creating kingdom or family! Interestingly, ELOHIM is plural in form but is used either in the singular or plural, depending on the context.
Herbert W. Armstrong, The Ten Commandments.

The existence of multiple ʾĔlōhîm (Hebrew for Mighty Ones) is discussed throughout the TaNaḤ (Old Testament), but, to Armstrong, the other mighty ones will be Christians. Nevertheless, the Worldwide Church of God has since abandoned most of his unorthodox viewpoints. As a mainstream evangelical Christian church, it has even become a member of the National Association of Evangelicals. (The current name for the denomination is Grace Communion International). However, there are numerous splinter groups which have continued, in their own ways, to accept many of Armstrong’s perspectives on ʾĔlōhîm and other subjects.

An appropriate term for a Prophet or Messenger might be “Theity.” This coined expression (technically speaking, a portmanteau, or combination, of the words, theism and Deity) is based upon the current distinction between theism (God Who is personally involved with His creation) and deism (God Who is not). Since Deity, or the underlying Unity of beings and things, is unknowable, “deism” might be suitable. Through a succession of Mediators, that divine Unity or Essence intercedes in human affairs. They are, in other words, His Theities.

Within several branches of Mahāyāna (Sanskrit, Great Vehicle) Buddhism can be found a rough approximation to the Unicentric Paradigm, especially its distinction between a deism of the Unity (Tawḥīd) and a theism of the Theities. Most Buddhists either reject or are agnostic (unknowing) about a single Deity or Creator. Many Buddhists do accept, however, various Divinities or Gods with such titles as Buddha (Pāḷi and Sanskrit, Awakened One) and Bodhisattva (Sanskrit, Awakened Being who works for the awakening of all other sentient beings). Certain of these Deities have, like the Prophets, lived, some believe even live currently, as humans.

... bodhisattvas ... [are] those beings who have a strong motivation to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all living beings. By doing these bodhisattva practices, we will become bodhisattvas, advance on the bodhisattva path, and eventually become fully enlightened Buddhas ....
Bodhisattva Togmay Zangpo, The Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. Ruth Sonam, translator. Commentary by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron. Singapore: Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery. March, 2009. Page 29.
Buddhists often respect and honour gods and deities but do not take refuge in them....
The Buddhist Pantheon has a vast number of Deities in the seemingly endless variation of forms so that it is quite impossible to portray them in any one illustration. Most of these Deities fall into the category of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arahants [Pāḷi, Arahant, a worthy one or, alternately, a destroyer of enemies] and other Heavenly Beings.
Kuan Ming, Popular Deities of Chinese Buddhism. Tullera, Australia: Buddha Dharma Education Association, Inc. 1985. Pages 19 and 27.
A New Monotheism

I have reflected upon a suitable “label” for The Unicentric Paradigm. Henotheists worship one God, but they believe that different Gods can be worshipped by others. If one prays to different Messengers, such as Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, Muḥammad, and the Apostle Paul, peace be upon Them, henotheism is not an appropriate category. Monolatrists, on the other hand, accept that, while many Gods exist, only one of Them should be worshipped universally, so the Unicentric Paradigm is not exactly monolatrist either. In a very weak sense, it could be called a polytheistic system, worshipping multiple Divinities, but, since God is One, polytheism is an imprecise description.

In view of the identification of the Unity of God with the Unity of the Prophets, širk (sharing) has been considerably redefined in the Unicentric Paradigm. Briefly, if the Oneness of God is the Oneness of the Prophets, that Oneness should, exclusively and without any partners (širk), be worshipped through the Prophet. In other words, when an individual rejects just One of the Prophets or Messengers, she is claiming, perhaps unintentionally, to share in the Sovereignty and Dominion of the most sacred Unity or Essence of God. As Bahá’u’lláh, the Blessed Beauty of God, wrote:

Be thou assured in thyself that verily, he who turns away from this Beauty hath also turned away from the Messengers of the past and showeth pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablet of Aḥmad.

To my understanding, in our new Age of Maturity, the universal embrace of the Best Beloved takes in monotheists along with everyone else, including polytheists. Therefore, the Unicentric Paradigm presents a redefined monotheism. During the Islāmic Dispensation or Prophetic Age, the Arabic, širk (sharing), was commonly interpreted as referring both to idolatry and polytheism. In this model, however, the usage of širk has been significantly broadened. For instance, the term, “idolatry,” can now be expanded to include dangerous and outmoded ideologies or belief systems:

God Himself has indeed been dethroned from the hearts of men, and an idolatrous world passionately and clamorously hails and worships the false gods which its own idle fancies have fatuously created, and its misguided hands so impiously exalted. The chief idols in the desecrated temple of mankind are none other than the triple gods of Nationalism, Racialism and Communism, at whose altars governments and peoples, whether democratic or totalitarian, at peace or at war, of the East or of the West, Christian or Islamic, are, in various forms and in different degrees, now worshiping.
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come. Page 113.
While sharing Fascism’s idolatry of the state, its sister ideology Naziism made itself the voice of a far more ancient and insidious perversion. At its dark heart was an obsession with what its proponents called “race purity”. The single-minded determination with which it pursued its murderous ends was in no way weakened by the demonstrably false postulates upon which it was based.
Prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice, Century of Light. Page 61.

Whereas polytheism assigns partners (širk, sharing) to God, the Unicentric Paradigm is monotheistic, not polytheistic. There is only One ultimate Source of all. He is manifested by the Prophets. However, in the Station of Distinction or Prophethood, the concept of plurality is accepted. An individual may even worship the everlasting Unity of God through more than one Prophet. For example, by commemorating the Holy Days of His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh and of the divine Forerunner, His Exalted Presence the Báb, by visiting Their Shrines, by praying to Them, and by reflecting upon Their Words, Bahá’ís are praising the Unity of both of Them.

If, on the other hand, one focuses primarily upon the Stations of Distinction among the various Prophets, the monotheism of the Unicentric Paradigm is progressively made known to us in a hierarchy or, perhaps, somewhat like a pantheon (Ancient Greek, pánϑeón) of divine Beings. That is to say, Bahá’u’lláh is the Blessed Beauty (al-Ǧamāl al-Mubarak) of God, but He is also the Ancient or Preexistent Beauty (al-Ǧamāl al-Qidām) of God. He occupies the highest Rank or Position:

We are in the cycle which began with Adam [Hebrew, ʾĀdām, ruddy, reddish earth, or ground], and its supreme Manifestation is Bahá’u’lláh.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 160.
This judgment of God, as viewed by those who have recognized Bahá’u’lláh as His Mouthpiece and His greatest Messenger on earth, is both a retributory calamity and an act of holy and supreme discipline. It is at once a visitation from God and a cleansing process for all mankind. Its fires punish the perversity of the human race, and weld its component parts into one organic, indivisible, world-embracing community.
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come. Page 4.

Return to the table of contents.

III. Unifying Essences
The Highest Unity
A series of quantum experiments shows that measurements performed in the future can influence the present. Does that mean the universe has a destiny-and the laws of physics pull us inexorably toward our prewritten fate?...
[Jeff] Tollaksen’s group is looking into the notion that time might flow backward, allowing the future to influence the past. By extension, the universe might have a destiny that reaches back and conspires with the past to bring the present into view. On a cosmic scale, this idea could help explain how life arose in the universe against tremendous odds. On a personal scale, it may make us question whether fate is pulling us forward and whether we have free will.
Zeeya Merali, “Back from the Future.” Discover Magazine. April 2010. Published online August 26, 2010. Retrieved on January 20, 2012.

I am not a physicist. However, in my uneducated opinion, these researchers may be asking the wrong question. Past, present, and future are limited names for attributes in this world. Time (or formation), as we experience it, does not exist in the spiritual Kingdom and may not even be universal in this one. Instead, unities or unifying essences are, perhaps, the missing pieces of the cosmic puzzle. Many of them might, for all we know, function entirely outside of chronology. In my opinion, understanding the properties, or attributes, of these unities is more important than determining whether one observable event occurs, in linear sequence, before another.

Seeing the Beginning of all things as Unity, and the beginnings of all things as unities, resolves the age-old question, “Who created God?” By definition, nothing can precede unity. Regarding the Attributes of the highest Unity, the first sentence of the paragraph below is, in my view, one of more revealing which is found within the Bahá’í literature. Although it is beautiful in its simplicity, it may add considerable depth to any Bahá’í “theology” or conversation on God. Through this sentence, we may be able to answer, at least to some degree, the question, “What are the connections between the unknowable Essence of God and the Prophets?”

Know thou of a certainty that the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men. He is, and hath ever been, immensely exalted beyond all that can either be recounted or perceived. From His retreat of glory His voice is ever proclaiming: “Verily, I am God; there is none other God besides Me, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. I have manifested Myself unto men, and have sent down Him Who is the Day Spring of the signs of My Revelation. Through Him I have caused all creation to testify that there is none other God except Him, the Incomparable, the All-Informed, the All-Wise.” He Who is everlastingly hidden from the eyes of men can never be known except through His Manifestation, and His Manifestation can adduce no greater proof of the truth of His Mission than the proof of His own Person.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 49.

In my humble opinion, “... the Unseen can in no wise incarnate His Essence and reveal it unto men,” is not an avenue for speculative philosophizing. Since the divine Essence is unknowable, any human conceptions of Him will be the product of our own imaginations. Instead, I feel the Best Beloved’s words as a practical statement on the relationships between the divine Essence and human beings. We know God, indirectly, through His individualized Attributes as Prophets, Messengers, or Revelators. Similarly, speculations on any unknowable essences may be a waste of time. Without revealed truth, we can only name or categorize their attributes.

... there is the world of God, the world of the Kingdom, and the world of Creation: three things. The first emanation from God is the bounty of the Kingdom, which emanates and is reflected in the reality of the creatures.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 295.

In the Unicentric Paradigm, God manifests His Kingdom of Names and Attributes. Prophets are individualized  divine Attributes with a Name of God (like Bahāʾ, Glory, the Ennead with an abjad value of 9). Once the everlasting soul is liberated from its physical limitations, after death, the spiritual (or Abhā, Most Glorious) Kingdom will become more evident. However, even while in this world, individuals can, by practicing faith in the Prophets, be reborn into the Kingdom of God. This divine Dominion, with the Names and Attributes of God, is also emanated, or reflected, in the human kingdom, the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the mineral kingdom.

To my understanding, the Great Being, the Truth or Reality (al-Ḥaqq), is the divine Essence. Whether any of His created essences are individual “beings,” as we can comprehend the term, is unknown. They might even belong to an undisclosed category. In any case, I would suggest that the highest Essence might also be a Unifying (Tawḥīd) Structure of Prophetic relationships. Essences are, perhaps, collective entities. Although they are unknowable, directly, they are still realities. As humans are composed of the attributes of humanity, Prophets may be made up of the Attributes of the divine Essence.

The word “unknowable” in unknowable Essence is, in my opinion, commonly misunderstood. The fact that the Essence is unknowable is not the same as saying, “We cannot talk about it.” Actually, Bahá’ís discuss the unknowable Essence all the time. Whenever a Bahá’í presents the Bahá’í Faith to an inquiring soul, and says, “All the Prophets are One” (or “God is One”), she is referring to that Essence. Nevertheless, the relationships between the Prophets, the Unity (Tawḥīd) between Them, is, like the Trinity, a sacred mystery. God, in His Essence, is Singleness or Oneness. God manifested is plural.

Covenant-Breaking and Partisanship

Unity, however, is not a Bahá’í catchword or a cleverly selected motto or slogan. Unity, as I sometimes feel it in my heart, is the nature and the essence of reality. To my understanding, Covenant-breaking or violation (al-naqḍ al-Mīṯāq), perhaps similar to the divisiveness of backbiting and lying, is an attack on the fundamental spiritual Unity and unities underlying all of existence. Through Covenant-breaking, any human tendencies toward self-centeredness, pride, and covetousness are taken to the worst extreme. Breaking the Covenant of God is also the Biblical blasphemy against the Holy Spirit:

Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.
Jesus Christ, Matthew 12:31, New Revised Standard Version.
The meaning [of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit] is this: to remain far from the light-holder does not entail everlasting banishment, for one may become awakened and vigilant; but enmity toward the light is the cause of everlasting banishment, and for this there is no remedy.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 128.

The New Testament term, heresy (Koiné Greek, aíresis), which may describe a concept that is similar to Covenant-breaking or the insistence upon širk (sharing God’s Station of Tawḥīd or Unity), originally referred to a self-willed opinion  or, literally, a choice, not to the inevitable differences in human viewpoints:

... keep back from foolish questionings and genealogies and arguments and quarrels of law, for they are unprofitable and vain.... avoid a man of heresy, knowing that such a one has been perverted and sins, being self-condemned.
Paul, Titus 3:9-11, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible  (Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).

Consultation, for example, is a commonly used word for the process of decision making in the Bahá’í Faith. While participating in this process, truth is discovered by recognizing the unity of diverse opinions. That is to say, since truth is an attribute of the unity or essence of humanity, the disunity of Covenant-breaking becomes untruthful and self-deceptive:

The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions. If after discussion, a decision be carried unanimously well and good; but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 87.
For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I promised on oath to their ancestors, and they have eaten their fill and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant.
Deuteronomy 31:20, New Revised Standard Version.

All souls, including Bahá’ís, who falsely claim to receive divine Revelations are lying to themselves:

Amongst the people is he who seateth himself amid the sandals by the door whilst coveting in his heart the seat of honour. Say: What manner of man art thou, O vain and heedless one, who wouldst appear as other than thou art? And among the people is he who layeth claim to inner knowledge, and still deeper knowledge concealed within this knowledge. Say: Thou speakest false! By God! What thou dost possess is naught but husks which We have left to thee as bones are left to dogs. By the righteousness of the one true God! Were anyone to wash the feet of all mankind, and were he to worship God in the forests, valleys, and mountains, upon high hills and lofty peaks, to leave no rock or tree, no clod of earth, but was a witness to his worship—yet, should the fragrance of My good pleasure not be inhaled from him, his works would never be acceptable unto God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Lord of all. How many a man hath secluded himself in the climes of India, denied himself the things that God hath decreed as lawful, imposed upon himself austerities and mortifications, and hath not been remembered by God, the Revealer of Verses. Make not your deeds as snares wherewith to entrap the object of your aspiration, and deprive not yourselves of this Ultimate Objective for which have ever yearned all such as have drawn nigh unto God. Say: The very life of all deeds is My good pleasure, and all things depend upon Mine acceptance. Read ye the Tablets that ye may know what hath been purposed in the Books of God, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Bounteous. He who attaineth to My love hath title to a throne of gold, to sit thereon in honour over all the world; he who is deprived thereof, though he sit upon the dust, that dust would seek refuge with God, the Lord of all Religions.
Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him. If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things. Fear God, and follow not your idle fancies. Nay, rather, follow the bidding of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Wise. Erelong shall clamorous voices be raised in most lands. Shun them, O My people, and follow not the iniquitous and evil-hearted.
Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Pages 31-32.
Should a man appear ere the lapse of a full thousand years—each year consisting of twelve months according to the Qurʿán, and of nineteen months of nineteen days each, according to the Bayán—and if such a man reveal to your eyes all the signs of God, unhesitatingly reject him!
Bahá’u’lláh quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 132.

To my understanding, although dear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the blessed Center of the Covenant, the Bahá’í Faith is not the ‘Abdu’l-Baháʾí Faith. On the other hand, the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice are, in a way, the expressions or signs of that Center and His continuing presence among us. The stations are different, but the Reality, the Unity (Tawḥīd), is one. From that perspective, the beloved Master never spiritually left this world. By reading the messages of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice, we are witnessing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and His love.

For example, Ruth White was one of the so-called ‘Abdu’l-Baháʾís. These early Western Bahá’ís deeply loved the dear Master. After the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi established (routinized) the spiritual power (charisma) of the three Central Figures within the Bahá’í administration (the routinization of charisma). A few of the ‘Abdu’l-Baháʾís simply drifted away from the Bahá’í Faith. White, however, went further. She rejected the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in which Shoghi Effendi was appointed as the Guardian of the Cause of God, and demanded that its handwriting be analyzed.

Sadly, Ruth White had it backwards. The Bahá’í Faith does not work that way. Individual believers do not get to dictate the actions of the Head of the Faith. White broke the Bahá’í Covenant and went on to become a disciple of the Zoroastrian gurū, Meher Baba (Persian, Mihr Bābā, lovingkindness father). Significantly, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was not an ‘Abdu’l-Baháʾí. In genuine, not false, humility, the beloved Master personally named Himself, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Servant of Bahá). As the Perfect Exemplar, He could also have been Ruth White’s own example. Bahá’ís are followers of Bahá’u’lláh, not of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (peace be upon Them).

... I cannot but feel amused at the preposterous and fantastic idea that Muḥammad-ʿAlí, the prime mover and the focal center of unyielding hostility to the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, should have freely associated himself with the members of the family of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the forging of a will which in the words of the writer herself, is but a “recital of the plottings” in which for thirty years Muḥammad-ʿAlí has been busily engaged. To such a hopeless victim of confused ideas [Ruth White], I feel I can best reply by a genuine expression of compassion and pity, mingled with my hopes for her deliverance from so profound a delusion.
Shoghi Effendi The World Order Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 8-9.
The attitude which a besotted woman [Ruth White] later on assumed, her ludicrous assertions, her boldness in flouting the Will of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and in challenging its authenticity and her attempts to subvert its principles were again powerless to produce the slightest breach in the ranks of its valiant upholders.
Shoghi Effendi The World Order Bahá’u’lláh. Page 90.
The Cause of God must be protected from the enemies of the Faith, and from those who sow seeds of doubt in the hearts of the believers, and the greatest of all protections is knowledge: there is no doubt that the silliest of all charges ever made is that the “Will and Testament” of the Master is a forgery! It is all in His own hand, sealed in more than one place with His own seal, and was opened after His death by some members of His own family, who took it from His own safe, in this house, and from that day it has been kept in the safe under lock and key. The charges of Mrs. White were the result of an unbalanced mind. No other enemy, even those who were shrewd and clever, made this foolish accusation!
From a letter, dated May 11, 1948, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, The Light of Divine Guidance. Volume 1. Page 134.

Presumably, Shoghi Effendi’s European attire, his fez (Turkish, fes), and his moustache, rather than a full beard, were too Westernized for White’s tastes. By focusing on outward appearances, she failed to see the spirit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá working through Shoghi Effendi. After being excommunicated from the Bahá’í Faith, White became a disciple (a “Baba lover”) of the Indian avatāric claimant, Meher Baba (Persian, Mihr Bābā, compassionate father). I suspect that the fellow reminded her, for some reason, of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Meher Baba gave White the nickname, my soldier:

All cheered when ninety-three year old Ruth White walked unaided up the aisle and embraced Baba. He gestured to her, “My soldier!”
Bhau Kalchuri, “Last, but Happy Farewell.” Lord Meher. Translated from the original Hindī by Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Trust. Twenty-volume biography of Meher Baba. Meherazad, India. 1971 (Hindī). Complete English-language translation published in 2001. Volume 18. Page 6,035. Retrieved on June 27, 2013.

As with any form of disunity or political partisanship, Covenant-breaking is destructive and disintegrative. However, politics, even when found in other social or cultural contexts, is disunifying. When my sociology students ask me about my political worldview, I tell them, candidly, that I have none. “That is strange,” one student responded. “How can you be a sociologist and not be political?” Politics, I explained, is anti-social. The more politicized an issue becomes, the less likely it will ever be addressed and resolved. In my opinion, politics is a problem, not a solution.

All in all, what sometimes saddens me is that I cannot give my classes the good news, the Gospel, for today:

Unification of the whole of mankind is the hall-mark of the stage which human society is now approaching. Unity of family, of tribe, of city-state, and nation have been successively attempted and fully established. World unity is the goal towards which a harassed humanity is striving.
Shoghi Effendi The World Order Bahá’u’lláh. Page 202.
... as the Essence of Unity (that is, the existence of God) is everlasting and eternal—that is to say, it has neither beginning nor end—it is certain that this world of existence, this endless universe, has neither beginning nor end.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 180.
The Oneness of Existence

Essences are unities or, in other words, essential unities:

Through them [the Prophets and Messengers of God] are manifested the signs of sanctity in the realities of all things and the tokens of oneness in the essences of all beings.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries. Page 33.

All essences or unities are, to my understanding, beings. Just as the Essence of Essences is God, the Essences, or innermost realities, of this world are the Archangels:

Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 151-153.
Indeed, O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed. Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.
Now there are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream, which none but the people of this Valley [of Wonderment] can comprehend in their true elements. First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past? Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.
God, the Exalted, hath placed these signs in men, to the end that philosophers may not deny the mysteries of the life beyond nor belittle that which hath been promised them.
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Pages 32-33.

The Bahá’í texts I have read on the subject of the Unifying Essence are not, in the strict sense of the word, pantheist. God, in other words, is not identical with the attributes of His creation. If, however, evidences, or tokens, of the divine Unity are deposited throughout God’s beautiful creation, all beings and things, within the five kingdoms of Manifestation and creation, are interconnected or unified. In their own individualities or diversities, everything is, in reality, one:

When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of all things, and the individuality of each, thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord’s mercy in every created thing, and see the spreading rays of His Names and Attributes throughout all the realm of being, with evidences which none will deny save the froward and the unaware.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 41.
... the question of the Real Existence by which all things exist—that is to say, the reality of the Essence of Unity through which all creatures have come into the world—is admitted by everyone.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 294.

The presence of unifying essences, while unknowable, should, in my opinion, be kept continuously in our hearts and minds. These essences or unities, as substructures of existence, can remind us of our humility or fallibility, that our knowledge is always indirect. Through them, we witness the fingerprint or sign of the divine Unity upon the essences of all things. Indeed, reality, ultimately, is unity. Although the unifying essences of creation are eternal, their manifested, and individualized, attributes may, according to the Will of God, in His Prophets, change or develop:

In this station the truth of the unity of God and of the signs of His sanctity is established....
Hast thou not heard: “No change is there in God’s creation” [Qurʾán 30:30]? Hast thou not read: “No change canst thou find in God’s mode of dealing” [Qurʾán 48:23]? Hast thou not borne witness to the truth: “No divergence wilt thou see in the creation of the God of Mercy” [Qurʾán 67:3]? Yea, by My Lord! They that dwell within this Ocean, they that ride upon this Ark, witness no change in the creation of God and behold no divergences upon His earth. And if God’s creation be not prone to change and alteration, how then could they who are the Manifestations of His own Being be subject to it? ...
... Through them are revealed the elements of glorification in the heavenly realities and the exponents of praise in the eternal essences.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries. Pages 31-33.
I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause.
Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations. Pages 295-296.

In my opinion, each of us is an individualized expression, or manifestation, of the unity of humanity. We can experience both our own individualized attributes, the specification of spirit as particular souls, and the unity which connects us.The interrelatedness between all the beings and things in existence has been revealed and manifested by the blessed Prophets:

Since the Sanctified Realities, the supreme Manifestations of God, surround the essence and qualities of the creatures, transcend and contain existing realities and understand all things, therefore, Their knowledge is divine knowledge, and not acquired—that is to say, it is a holy bounty; it is a divine revelation.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 157-158.

Consequently, the worlds of existence, as Aristotle originally developed the idea, form a great chain of being:

... all beings are connected together like a chain; and reciprocal help, assistance and interaction belonging to the properties of things are the causes of the existence, development and growth of created beings.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 178-179.
It is obvious that all created things are connected one to another by a linkage complete and perfect, even, for example, as are the members of the human body. Note how all the members and component parts of the human body are connected one to another. In the same way, all the members of this endless universe are linked one to another.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 48.
Hence it was stated that co-operation and reciprocity are essential properties which are inherent in the unified system of the world of existence, and without which the entire creation would be reduced to nothingness.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Ḥuqúquʾlláh: The Right of God. Page 7.

Dennis F. Polis, from the open philosophy movement, prefers the metaphor of a web of being:

Just as ecology has abandoned the idea of a food chain for that of a food web, so must we replace that of the Great Chain of Being with a web of being. Let that web tell us its structure as we examine it instead of demanding that it fit an a priori model.
Dennis F. Polis, Ph. D., Paradigms for an Open Philosophy. “Metaphilosophy.” Volume 24. Numbers 1-2. January-April, 1993. Pages 33-46.

According to a Theosophical writer:

Every mathematical point in every dimension of space, inner and outer, is an evolving consciousness, so that from the grandest to the most infinitesimal we see a great chain of being. But is the Great Chain of Being a great chain of beings? If we admit that only Oneness exists, separate beings can only be reflections of the One passing through conditioned existence, like the many colors visible when sunlight passes through a prism. What we call reality may actually be phenomena playing through and upon phenomenon.
Alan E. Donant, “Oneness and the Great Chain of Being.Sunrise: Theosophic Perspectives. Magazine. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press. April/May, 2004.

God’s spiritual Kingdom is, it appears to me, manifested to the world of servitude or creation by the Prophets. Although the essences are eternal, the beings and things manifested by them depend upon the divine Will, not upon human wills. Since these individualized attributes are relative to that which God might choose to ordain, their permanence could, in many cases, be unknown, be unrevealed, or perhaps even lie outside the scope of human comprehension. Names, on the other hand, can be individual references, like “Joe,” or overall categories, such as “men.”

Repudiating the claim of any religion to be the final revelation of God to man, disclaiming finality for His own Revelation, Bahá’u’lláh inculcates the basic principle of the relativity of religious truth, the continuity of Divine Revelation, the progressiveness of religious experience. His aim is to widen the basis of all revealed religions and to unravel the mysteries of their scriptures. He insists on the unqualified recognition of the unity of their purpose, restates the eternal verities they enshrine, coordinates their functions, distinguishes the essential and the authentic from the nonessential and spurious in their teachings, separates the God-given truths from the priest-prompted superstitions, and on this as a basis proclaims the possibility, and even prophecies the inevitability, of their unification, and the consummation of their highest hopes.
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come. Page 108.

The relationships between beings and things, on the one hand, and the five kingdoms of being, on the other, may not, in all cases, be fixed or hard and fast. A unity in diversity is not a unity in division. For instance, through the unity of revealed religions, individuals living in the human kingdom can obtain the attributes from the spiritual Kingdom. The hereafter, while it might be described as a condition within that Kingdom of spirit, is also a continuation, or a result, of the human kingdom. Whether in this world or in the one to follow it, human souls can receive the everlasting perfections of the spiritual Kingdom of God.

Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him....
The reason of the mission of the Prophets is to educate men, so that this piece of coal may become a diamond ....
Both before and after putting off this material form, there is progress in perfection but not in state. So beings are consummated in perfect man. There is no other being higher than a perfect man. But man when he has reached this state can still make progress in perfections but not in state because there is no state higher than that of a perfect man to which he can transfer himself. He only progresses in the state of humanity, for the human perfections are infinite. Thus, however learned a man may be, we can imagine one more learned.
Hence, as the perfections of humanity are endless, man can also make progress in perfections after leaving this world.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 236-237.
Entrance into the Kingdom is through the love of God, through detachment, through holiness and chastity, through truthfulness, purity, steadfastness, faithfulness and the sacrifice of life.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 242.
As we have power to pray for these souls here, so likewise we shall possess the same power in the other world, which is the Kingdom of God.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 233.

This world, in its relationship to the world to come, performs a spiritual function. On one level, the purpose of this world is to prepare human souls for the world to come. However, through miscarriage, and sudden infant death, some souls move into the world beyond almost immediately. Thankfully, they are, we have been assured, under the loving care of God. Therefore, aside from preparing us for the unimaginable realms beyond, this world appears to have, under God’s perfect system, yet another mission. Since most zygotes, or fertilized eggs, die naturally, an exaggerated concern over abortion may be unwarranted:

... most zygotes fail spontaneously ....
Blue Mass Group: Reality-based Commentary. Blog. December 4, 2009.
Abortion and surgical operations for the purpose of preventing the birth of unwanted children are forbidden in the Cause [of God] unless there are circumstances which justify such actions on medical grounds, in which case the decision, at present, is left to the consciences of those concerned who must carefully weigh the medical advice in the light of the general guidance given in the [Bahá’í] Teachings. Beyond this nothing has been found in the [Bahá’í] Writings concerning specific methods or procedures to be used in family planning. It should be pointed out, however, that the Teachings state that the soul appears at conception, and that therefore it would be improper to use such a method, the effect of which would be to produce an abortion after conception has taken place.
From a letter, dated May 23, 1975, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1155.

Departed souls, for instance, can continue to serve this world:

The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High. The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples. They are like unto leaven which leaveneth the world of being, and constitute the animating force through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Through them the clouds rain their bounty upon men, and the earth bringeth forth its fruits. All things must needs have a cause, a motive power, an animating principle. These souls and symbols of detachment have provided, and will continue to provide, the supreme moving impulse in the world of being.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 156-157.
Thou hast, moreover, asked Me concerning the state of the soul after its separation from the body. Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly, return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved. By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue describe. The soul that hath remained faithful to the Cause of God, and stood unwaveringly firm in His Path shall, after his ascension, be possessed of such power that all the worlds which the Almighty hath created can benefit through him. Such a soul provideth, at the bidding of the Ideal King and Divine Educator, the pure leaven that leaveneth the world of being, and furnisheth the power through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest. Consider how meal needeth leaven to be leavened with. Those souls that are the symbols of detachment are the leaven of the world. Meditate on this, and be of the thankful.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 161.

Furthermore, although the Pentateuch demands capital punishment for murder, only a fine is assessed for killing a fetus:

Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death.... When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine.
Exodus 221:12 and 22, New Revised Standard Version.

Indeed, the connections between this world and the one to follow it may be reciprocal:

The nature of the soul after death can never be described, nor is it meet and permissible to reveal its whole character to the eyes of men. The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High. The light which these souls radiate is responsible for the progress of the world and the advancement of its peoples.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 156-157.
The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 240.
These infants [“who die before attaining the age of discretion or before the appointed time of birth”] are under the shadow of the favor of God; and as they have not committed any sin and are not soiled with the impurities of the world of nature, they are the centers of the manifestation of bounty, and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 240.

Particular souls in this world can choose to be governed by their higher nature or by nature (the lower nature). However, progress can occur through free will, as “an inherent endowment of the soul,” in both this world and the world to come:

Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death, sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.
For example, if he wishes, he can pass his time in praising God, or he can be occupied with other thoughts. He can be an enkindled light through the fire of the love of God, and a philanthropist loving the world, or he can be a hater of mankind, and engrossed with material things. He can be just or cruel. These actions and these deeds are subject to the control of the will of man himself; consequently, he is responsible for them....
... in all the action or inaction of man, he receives power from the help of God; but the choice of good or evil belongs to the man himself....
That is to say, though the choice of good and evil belongs to man, under all circumstances he is dependent upon the sustaining help of life, which comes from the Omnipotent. The Kingdom of God is very great, and all are captives in the grasp of His Power. The servant cannot do anything by his own will; God is powerful, omnipotent, and the Helper of all beings.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 248-250.
Because free will is an inherent endowment of the soul, each person who is drawn to explore Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings will need to find his own place in the never-ending continuum of spiritual search.
Bahá’í International Community, One Common Faith. September 2006. Page 52.
These souls [Covenant-breakers] are not lost forever. In the Aqdas, Bahá’u’lláh says that God will forgive Mírzá Yahyá if he repents. It follows, therefore, that God will forgive any soul if he repents. Most of them don’t want to repent, unfortunately. If the leaders can be forgiven it goes without saying that their followers can also be forgiven.
From a letter, dated November 30, 1944, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 604.

In addition to the faculty of free will, souls can progress by other means, including in the next world:

The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 240.
The Unity of Religions

To my understanding, within this world of existence, spiritual virtues are the attributes of the unity, or unifying essence, of revealed religions. These virtues, or essential teachings, are found in particular revealed religions:

But the essential basis of all the Divine Religions which pertains to the virtues of the world of mankind and is the foundation of the welfare of the world of man, is found in the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh in the most perfect presentation.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 305.
[Gurū Nanāk was] was inspired to reconcile the religions of Hinduism and Islam, the followers of which religions had been in violent conflict.
From a letter dated, October 27, 1985, written by the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of India.

The Sabæans  (Sābiʾūn5, converts), or Sabians, are an excellent example of the manner in which the Best Beloved not only revealed this unity of religions, but He demonstrated and established it. To begin with, in the sacred Qurʾân, the great Seal of the Prophets, Muḥammad, praised the Sabæans along with Jews and Christians:

Lo! Those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muḥammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabæans – whoever believeth in Allāh and the Last Day and doeth right – surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 2:62, The Meaning of the Glorious Qurʾân  (Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, translator).

Over the centuries, opinions have differed regarding the identity of these Sabæans. To some, they were the ancient Ḥarrānities. Their founder is uncertain. To others, they were the Mandæans (Aramaic, mandaya, knowers or gnostics from mandā, knowledge). As the only surviving Gnōstic sect, residing mostly in Īrān (especially) and in ʿIrāq, the Mandæans have traditionally associated themselves with John the Baptist. They have also sometimes been called the Christians of St. John. Since, however, the Mandæans do not accept the divinity of Jesus Christ, that misleading designation has now largely been abandoned.

The term, Sabæanism, or Sabianism, appears to be used both in a particular and in a universal sense in the Bahá’í texts. Particularly, the Sabæans were defined, from the standpoint of Shoghi Effendi’s authoritative interpretation, as the Ḥarrānities:

The country where Sabaeanism became widespread and flourished was Chaldea, and Abraham is considered as having been a follower of that Faith.
From a letter, dated, November 10, 1939, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.
The teachings throw no light on the Prophet of the Sabaeans. The followers of this religion lived in Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham appeared.
From a letter, dated July 30, 1941, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.

On the other hand, the Best Beloved of the Worlds (al-Maḥbūb al-ʾĀlamīn), following His common practice, applied the universal principle of unity to this delicate subject. Indeed, the divine Source, the Unifying Essence, of each of the revealed religions was the focus of His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, the Father. He transcended the historical controversies, concerning the Ḥarrānites and the Mandæans, which resulted in disunity, contention, and exclusion. Both the Ḥarrānites, possibily from Seth (Hebrew, Šēt) and Idrīs (or Hermés), and the Mandæans of John the Baptist appear to be included within the following quotation:

As to the Sabæans, they do worship the names of the stars and claim that they got their religion from Seth and Idrís; they trace their origin to Sábí, son of Idrís and also believe in Yahyá, son of Zachariah [John the Baptist]. They do expect the Manifestation of Jesus, Son of Mary. In the Presence of the Throne they are mentioned as the Sabæans.
Bahá’u’lláh, the Kitáb-i-Badí (brief excerpt), quoted in Ruhuʾllah Mihrabkhani, áʾín-i Sábiʾín, Institute for Bahá’í Studies in Persian, Dundas (Hamilton), Ontario, 1994.
O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you.... There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you....
Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in Bahá’í International Community, Statement on Bahá’u’lláh. Page 17.

Indeed, His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh is, perhaps in every way, the Prophet of unity. Bahá’í scholarship, too, is inclusive:

Thus, there should be room within the scope of Bahá’í scholarship to accommodate not only those who are interested in theological issues and in the historical origins of the Faith, but also those who are interested in relating the Bahá'í Teachings to their field of academic or professional interest, as well as those believers who may lack formal academic qualifications but who have, through their perceptive study of the Teachings, acquired insights which are of interest to others.
Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Issues Related to the Study of the Bahá’í Faith. October 19, 1993.

For example, although God has made wonderful prophecies for the children of Israel, according to the principle of religious unity, justice for one religion or ethnic population can not be founded on injustice toward others:

... Israel, scattered all over the world, was not reassembled in the Holy Land in the Christian cycle; but in the beginning of the cycle of Bahá’u’lláh this divine promise, as is clearly 66 stated in all the Books of the Prophets, has begun to be manifest. You can see that from all the parts of the world tribes of Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in villages and lands which they make their own, and day by day they are increasing to such an extent that all Palestine will become their home.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 65-66.
... Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, whither they are gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations
Ezekiel 37:21-22, American Standard Version (1901).
Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
Genesis 12:1-3, American Standard Version (1901).

Therefore, the United Nations established the State of Israel. Now, they have, more or less, reaffirmed their previous recognition of the State of Palestine. The rights of all peoples must be supported:

The former British mandate of Palestine originally extended across the current State of Israel and into part of modern Syria. This mandate ended in 1947, and the United Nations passed a resolution creating the separate Jewish state of Israel and Arab state of Palestine. The resolution was rejected by the Arab world, leading to more than 50 years of conflict and Palestinian marginalization.
Heather K. Michon, “Palestine.” Encyclopedia of Global Health. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2008. Page 1325.
A year after the failure of the Palestinian bid for full membership in the UN, [President Mahmoud] Abbas announced that he would seek the UN General Assembly’s implicit recognition of Palestinian statehood by submitting a draft resolution requesting that the status of the Palestinian mission to the UN (officially called Palestine within the UN) be upgraded from “permanent observer” to “nonmember observer state.” The designation, though falling short of full UN membership, would allow Palestinians to seek membership in international bodies such as the International Criminal Court. The resolution passed on November 29, 2012, with 138 countries in favour, 9 opposed, and 41 abstentions. The resolution also urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume stalled negotiations toward a two-state solution. Israeli officials opposed Abbas’s bid for recognition, saying that such unilateral actions by the Palestinians would hold up negotiations with Israel.
“Palestine.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. 2012.
The Father and the Maiden

The new divine Revelation was, possibly reminiscent of the Ṣūfī ʿUwaysī transmissions of spiritual authority through inspired dreams (manāmāt) and visions (ruʾan), born out of a divine romance between the spiritually enraptured Soul of Bahá’u’lláh, peace be upon Him, and the blessed Holy Spirit in the form of a heavenly Maiden. Through the Promised One of all ages, the Ancient or Preexistent Beauty, the masculine and feminine aspects of the Kingdom of God, as the Father and the Maiden, have, it seems to me, been uniquely consolidated.

While engulfed in tribulations I heard a most wondrous, a most sweet voice, calling above My head. Turning My face, I beheld a Maiden—the embodiment of the remembrance of the name of My Lord—suspended in the air before Me. So rejoiced was she in her very soul that her countenance shone with the ornament of the good-pleasure of God, and her cheeks glowed with the brightness of the All-Merciful. Betwixt earth and heaven she was raising a call which captivated the hearts and minds of men. She was imparting to both My inward and outer being tidings which rejoiced My soul, and the souls of God’s honored servants. Pointing with her finger unto My head, she addressed all who are in heaven and all who are on earth, saying: “By God! This is the Best-Beloved of the worlds, and yet ye comprehend not. This is the Beauty of God amongst you, and the power of His sovereignty within you, could ye but understand. This is the Mystery of God and His Treasure, the Cause of God and His glory unto all who are in the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation, if ye be of them that perceive.”
Bahá’u’lláh, “Súratuʾl-Haykal,” quoted by Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 75.
Cry out before the gaze of the dwellers of heaven and of earth: I am the Maid of Heaven, the Offspring begotten by the Spirit of Bahá. My habitation is the Mansion of His Name, the All-Glorious. Before the Concourse on high I was adorned with the ornament of His names. I was wrapt within the veil of an inviolable security, and lay hidden from the eyes of men. Methinks that I heard a Voice of divine and incomparable sweetness, proceeding from the right hand of the God of Mercy, and lo, the whole Paradise stirred and trembled before Me, in its longing to hear its accents, and gaze on the beauty of Him that uttered them.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 284.
... the “Most Great Spirit,” as designated by Bahá’u’lláh Himself, revealed itself to Him, in the form of a “Maiden,” and bade Him “lift up” His “voice between earth and heaven”—that same Spirit which, in the Zoroastrian, the Mosaic, the Christian, and Muḥammadan Dispensations, had been respectively symbolized by the “Sacred Fire,” the “Burning Bush,” the “Dove,” and the “Angel Gabriel.”
Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America: 1932-1946. Page 100.

I conducted a rather peculiar thought experiment or reflection related to His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh’s words on al-Ḥūrīya, the Maid of Heaven. Obviously, as with anything I have written in the book, take it or leave it. Since I have frequently changed my mind on numerous subjects over the years, I would never rely upon any of my reflections. However, it occurred to me that the Maiden, the spiritual Darling of Bahá’u’lláh (peace be upon Him), might provide a clue as to why both the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice were limited, by the Master and the Guardian, to men. Perhaps, in a sense, women, symbolized by the Maiden, are more exalted than men:

As regards your question concerning the membership of the Universal House of Justice; there is a Tablet from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in which he definitely states that the membership of the Universal House of Justice is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be fully revealed and appreciated in the future. In the local, as well as the National Houses of Justice, however, women have the full right of membership.
The Universal House of Justice, Women on the Universal House of Justice. May 31, 1988. Retrieved on March 25, 2013.

The answer to the question, “Why are the members of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice all men?,” is found in the question, “What are the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice?” The members of these twin institutions are, I would speculate, manservants (al-ẖuddām) to the Maiden. The Spirit or divine Attributes of the Revelation of the Blessed Beauty, as the Maiden, is, it subjectively appears to me, the divine Feminine:

Divine Feminine spirituality refers broadly to a socio-spiritual movement centered on re-imagining the sacred as female or as a male-female dyad and on the veneration of the Divine Feminine....
The concept of the Divine Feminine has provided a common language by which to challenge dominant ideologies and systems of oppression and to discuss potential solutions to pressing social problems. The Divine Feminine also functions as symbol and metaphor for peaceful and harmonious relationships and a vision for a better world.... Many see the Divine Feminine movement as a feminist project, and from its beginnings, pioneering spiritual feminists have been at the forefront. Misconceptions about feminism have led many to resist a feminist label on their spirituality. However, the aims of gender equality and social justice are based on feminist principles, so many see Divine Feminine spirituality as feminist spirituality.
... In general, Divine Feminine spirituality involves re-envisioning God as both male and female or emphasizes divinity as principally female.
Denise R. Letendre, “Divine Feminine Spirituality.” Encyclopedia of Gender and Society. Jodi O’Brien, editor. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. 2008. Pages 207-208.

Bahá’u’lláh, as the Perfect Man, might have interacted with the universal Prophetic Nature (Holy Spirit or Word) as al-Ḥūrīya, the divine Feminine Who descended upon Carmel. However, Bahá’u’lláh and His Herald, the Exalted Báb, were masculine. Likewise, the Perfect Exemplar, Center of the Covenant, and God-breathed Interpreter of that feminine Revelation, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, was masculine. al-Ḥūrīya now beckons all Her lovers, which can include anyone of us, to a magnificent reunion through an intimate communion of spirit. In the Apocalypse of St. John, the unveiling of the divine Feminine was prophecied as the holy City or new Jerusalem:

Verily, verily, the new heaven and the new earth are come. The holy City, new Jerusalem, hath come down from on high in the form of a maid of heaven, veiled, beauteous, and unique, and prepared for reunion with her lovers on earth. The angelic company of the Celestial Concourse hath joined in a call that hath run throughout the universe, all loudly and mightily acclaiming: “This is the City of God and His abode, wherein shall dwell the pure and holy among His servants. He shall live with them, for they are His people and He is their Lord.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 12.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
John, Revelation 21:1-2, New Revised Standard Version.

Soon after I began praying to the Universal House of Justice, the thought occurred to me that I was communing with the Maiden, the Angelic Vehicle of the Most Great or Holy Spirit manifested in His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh. Somehow, these twin divine Institutions also feel feminine. If, and I am only speculating, the new Jerusalem has descended from Heaven in the form of a Maiden, and is a feminine Entity, Her subsequent beloved consorts or companions might, as with Bahá’u’lláh, be men. Initially, after the Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh, the Maiden inspired ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His perfect Servitude. After His passing, the Maiden, as the mantle of the Covenant, inspired Shoghi Effendi in the Guardianship.

Now, Her dearest Eminence the Maiden is inspiring, or consorting with, the Supreme Body of Carmel, the Universal House of Justice:

As regards the membership of the International House of Justice, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states in a Tablet that it is confined to men, and that the wisdom of it will be revealed as manifest as the sun in the future. In any case the believers should know that, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself has explicitly stated that sexes are equal except in some cases, the exclusion of women from the International House of Justice, should not be surprising. From the fact that there is no equality of functions between the sexes one should not, however, infer that either sex is inherently superior or inferior to the other, or that they are unequal in their rights.
Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day. Page 86.

al-Ḥūrīya (plural, al-ḥūrīyāt) or, in Persian, Ḥūrī (plural, ḥūr), usually anglicized as Houri, is the Maiden or, strictly speaking, the white-eyed, black-in-white-eyed, or gazelle-eyed damsel. The word al-Ḥūrīya is derived from a feminine form of the Semitic root, ḥwr (literally, be black and white). al-Ḥūrīya is called by that name because she possesses ḥawar or a contrast between the extreme whiteness of her sclera (the white of the eye) and the deep blackness of her iris. The “whiteness,” which may signify the Maiden’s purity or chastity, has led some Arabists to translate textual references to al-ḥūrīyāt as “the virgins.”

Radically, perhaps, I regard these relationships between al-Ḥūrīya and men, including His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, as, collectively, a reversal of the polygyny (male polygamy) of old into an entirely new heavenly polyandry (female polygamy) of a sort. These men are the husbands of the Maiden. From one perspective, women have now, dispensationally, been elevated over men:

Call out to Zion, O Carmel, and announce the joyful tidings: He that was hidden from mortal eyes is come! His all-conquering sovereignty is manifest; His all-encompassing splendour is revealed. Beware lest thou hesitate or halt. Hasten forth and circumambulate the City of God that hath descended from heaven, the celestial Kaaba round which have circled in adoration the favoured of God, the pure in heart, and the company of the most exalted angels.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 89
Operations of Unity

An illustration of unity or essence comes from my own field. Sociologists will commonly distinguish between social structures and groups. Structures are sets of rules which govern human relationships. These rules include social norms, or sets of behavioral expectations, and statuses, or rules of who does what. Groups, on the other hand, consist of two or more individuals who are governed by shared social structures. Unity, which may be expressed in the decision-making processes of consultation, is a structure, not a group. A particular Bahá’í community or spiritual assembly is a group.

... the friends [Bahá’ís] should faithfully and courageously uphold this Bahá’í principle of the essential unity of all human races ....
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian. Page 61.

Groups, in sociology, are not simply categories or aggregates (collections) of people. Categories consist of individuals with similar attributes, like eye color or anyone using the same brand of soap. These categories include little, frequently no, shared identity. They are names, not groups. Aggregates are different. They refer to collections of people without a clearly defined social structure. Strangers riding on a bus or standing on a street corner would be an aggregate, not a group. Groups, however, on a spiritual level, express various degrees of the divinely willed unity or essence of humanity.

To my understanding, therefore, essences or unities are not  groups, or categories, or aggregates of beings and things. Instead, unifying essences are  the realities or foundational structures within existence. However, they cannot  be directly known by us. Relatively speaking, unities are independent, while their attributes, beings, and things are dependent. As with any unity or essence, we indirectly observe or inwardly experience the unity of humanity, according to our own capacities, through its attributes, appearances, or representations, such as the events at a particular Bahá’í community gathering.

It is no accident that recognition of the importance of structure has come, not by way of speculative philosophy or logical reasoning, but by the pressure of practical needs. We apprehend structures far more by the power of understanding than by knowledge. Knowledge is confined to Fact.
The Domain of Fact does not include transformation, which belongs to the Domain of Harmony. In this sense, knowing and understanding are powers that belong to quite different regions of experience and this suggests the surprising, but correct, conclusion that structures are not objects of knowledge, and that their true place is in the Domain of Harmony. We do not know structures, but we know because of structures.
John G. Bennett, Dramatic Universe: Man and Nature. Volume III. Charles Town, WV: Claymont Communications. 1985. Page 7.

These unifying essences can only be known indirectly, through divine Revelation, and observed through their individualized (or particularized) representations, attributes, enfoldments, manifestations, or appearances:

... knowledge of the attributes is ... proportioned to the capacity and power of man; it is not absolute.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 221.
One day, as the Báb, in the company of Mullá Ḥusayn, was looking out over the landscape of the surrounding country from the roof of the castle, He gazed towards the west and, as He saw the Araxes winding its course far away below Him, turned to Mullá Ḥusayn and said: “That is the river, and this is the bank thereof, of which the poet Háfiz has thus written: ‘O zephyr, shouldst thou pass by the banks of the Araxes, implant a kiss on the earth of that valley and make fragrant thy breath. Hail, a thousand times hail, to thee, O abode of Salma! How dear is the voice of thy camel-drivers, how sweet the jingling of thy bells!’ ... It is the immediate influence of the Holy Spirit that causes words such as these to stream from the tongue of poets, the significance of which they themselves are oftentimes unable to apprehend. The following verse is also divinely inspired: ‘Shíráz will be thrown into a tumult; a Youth of sugar-tongue will appear. I fear lest the breath of His mouth should agitate and upset Baghdád.’ The mystery enshrined within this verse is now concealed; it will be revealed in the year after Ḥín.” [Footnote: According to the Abjad notation, the numerical value of the word “Ḥín” is 68. It was in the year 1268 A.H. that Bahá’u’lláh, while confined in the Síyáh-Chál of Ṭihrán received the first intimations of His Divine Mission.] Of this He hinted in the odes which He revealed in that year. The Báb subsequently quoted this well-known tradition: “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.”
The Dawn-Breakers: Nabíl’s Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá’í Revelation. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Pages 258-259.
To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoted in J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era (in one of the chapters approved by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá). Page 71.

The Unicentric Paradigm, as I have developed it, might be described as unknowable essences, such as the divine Essence and the human essence, with individualized or particularized attributes, including divine Attributes and the rational faculty, rational soul, human spirit, mental faculties, or universal mind. The brain and nervous system function as a “stepped down” transformer. The duration of each unity may be relative to the First Will (Prophethood). To explain it a bit differently, the Source of all things, the highest Unifying Essence, is, similar to the rational faculty, stepped down throughout each of these kingdoms of existence:

... the mind proveth the existence of an unseen Reality that embraceth all beings, and that existeth and revealeth itself in all stages, the essence whereof is beyond the grasp of the mind. Thus the mineral world understandeth neither the nature nor the perfections of the vegetable world; the vegetable world understandeth not the nature of the animal world, neither the animal world the nature of the reality of man that discovereth and embraceth all things.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Pages 9-10.
... the denizens of this earth are completely unaware of the world of the Kingdom and deny the existence thereof. They ask, for example: “Where is the Kingdom? Where is the Lord of the Kingdom?” These people are even as the mineral and the vegetable, who know nothing whatever of the animal and the human realm; they see it not; they find it not. Yet the mineral and vegetable, the animal and man, are all living here together in this world of existence.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 194.

Since essential unities or natures are divinely revealed, not individually discovered, they are, from a human perspective, incalculable. The existence of the divine Essence, the Prophetic nature (in the Station of Distinction), the unity of religions, human nature, and some others have, in my opinion, been specifically mentioned. Others may, God willing, be revealed in future Dispensations, but perhaps the human mind is too puny even to refer to certain of these unifying essences by name. Indeed, any human attempt to describe the unities beyond the attributes whatsoever would be, in my opinion, arrogant and pretentious.

Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man. Examine thine own self, and behold how thy motion and stillness, thy will and purpose, thy sight and hearing, thy sense of smell and power of speech, and whatever else is related to, or transcendeth, thy physical senses or spiritual perceptions, all proceed from, and owe their existence to, this same faculty. So closely are they related unto it, that if in less than the twinkling of an eye its relationship to the human body be severed, each and every one of these senses will cease immediately to exercise its function, and will be deprived of the power to manifest the evidences of its activity. It is indubitably clear and evident that each of these afore-mentioned instruments has depended, and will ever continue to depend, for its proper functioning on this rational faculty, which should be regarded as a sign of the revelation of Him Who is the sovereign Lord of all. Through its manifestation all these names and attributes have been revealed, and by the suspension of its action they are all destroyed and perish.
It would be wholly untrue to maintain that this faculty is the same as the power of vision, inasmuch as the power of vision is derived from it and acteth in dependence upon it. It would, likewise, be idle to contend that this faculty can be identified with the sense of hearing, as the sense of hearing receiveth from the rational faculty the requisite energy for performing its functions.
This same relationship bindeth this faculty with whatsoever hath been the recipient of these names and attributes within the human temple. These diverse names and revealed attributes have been generated through the agency of this sign of God. Immeasurably exalted is this sign, in its essence and reality, above all such names and attributes. Nay, all else besides it will, when compared with its glory, fade into utter nothingness and become a thing forgotten.
Wert thou to ponder in thine heart, from now until the end that hath no end, and with all the concentrated intelligence and understanding which the greatest minds have attained in the past or will attain in the future, this divinely ordained and subtle Reality, this sign of the revelation of the All-Abiding, All-Glorious God, thou wilt fail to comprehend its mystery or to appraise its virtue. Having recognized thy powerlessness to attain to an adequate understanding of that Reality which abideth within thee, thou wilt readily admit the futility of such efforts as may be attempted by thee, or by any of the created things, to fathom the mystery of the Living God, the Day Star of unfading glory, the Ancient of everlasting days. This confession of helplessness which mature contemplation must eventually impel every mind to make is in itself the acme of human understanding, and marketh the culmination of man’s development.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 164-166.
Say: Spirit, mind, soul, and the powers of sight and hearing are but one single reality which hath manifold expressions owing to the diversity of its instruments. As thou dost observe, man’s power to comprehend, move, speak, hear, and see all derive from this sign of his Lord within him. It is single in its essence, yet manifold through the diversity of its instruments. This, verily, is a certain truth. For example, if it directeth its attention to the means of hearing, then hearing and its attributes become manifest. Likewise, if it directeth itself to the means of vision, a different effect and attribute appear. Reflect upon this subject that thou mayest comprehend the true meaning of what hath been intended, find thyself independent of the sayings of the people, and be of them that are well assured. In like manner, when this sign of God turneth towards the brain, the head, and such means, the powers of the mind and the soul are manifested. Thy Lord, verily, is potent to do whatsoever He pleaseth.
Bahá’u’lláh, “Súriy-i-Raʾís.” Summons of the Lord of Hosts. Pages 154-155.
The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 208.

On the other hand, since the inner realities defined by the Prophet may express the divine Unity as unifying essences themselves, nonduality also has legitimacy. These lower unifying essences, and their attributes, are the demonstrations of the Unity of God, and His Sovereignty, throughout creation. Existence, as I define it, would include these essences and, as their outward expressions, all of the beings and things, or individualized attributes, in the five kingdoms of being. In addition to the unities or essences, any particular being or thing may itself, to my understanding, be referred to as a “reality” (ḥaqīqa).

In this station [the Valley of Unity] he [the wayfarer] pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth into the heaven of singleness. With the ear of God he heareth, with the eye of God he beholdeth the mysteries of divine creation. He steppeth into the sanctuary of the Friend, and shareth as an intimate the pavilion of the Loved One. He stretcheth out the hand of truth from the sleeve of the Absolute; he revealeth the secrets of power. He seeth in himself neither name nor fame nor rank, but findeth his own praise in praising God. He beholdeth in his own name the name of God; to him, “all songs are from the King,” and every melody from Him. He sitteth on the throne of “Say, all is from God,” and taketh his rest on the carpet of “There is no power or might but in God.” He looketh on all things with the eye of oneness, and seeth the brilliant rays of the divine sun shining from the dawning-point of Essence alike on all created things, and the lights of singleness reflected over all creation.
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Pages 17-18.
If thou be of the inmates of this city within the ocean of divine unity, thou wilt view all the Prophets and Messengers of God as one soul and one body .... Through them are manifested the signs of sanctity in the realities of all things and the tokens of oneness in the essences of all beings. Through them are revealed the elements of glorification in the heavenly realities and the exponents of praise in the eternal essences.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries. Page 33.
O ye roses in the garden of God’s love! ... ye are the abundant grace of God’s oneness that is shed upon the essences of all created things.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 266.

Each of the essences of existence is based upon the Will of God. Tomorrow, if He wished, He could destroy any of them and, should it please Him, replace them with entirely new ones. For instance, the essence of nature is an intellectual, not a sensible, reality which is regulated by the divine Will:

It is said that Nature in its own essence is in the grasp of the power of God, Who is the Eternal Almighty One: He holds Nature within accurate regulations and laws, and rules over it.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 2.
... nature ... in its essence is an intellectual reality and is not sensible ....
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 84.

Since unifying essences are unknowable, they can, in my opinion, only be understood through their individualized attributes or distinction. The Unity of God is observed within His Prophets, but Their Stations of Distinction are relative to us. Jesus is the Son. His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, the Supreme Manifestation of God, is the Father. His eternal Gateway is His Exalted Presence the Báb. Similarly, the human essence, or unity of humanity, is not directly knowable. There can be no direct realism. We understand that unity only through its individualized rational faculty, rational soul, human spirit, attributes, or events in human beings.

The rational soul, or the attributes of human unity, are, to my understanding, individualized as human beings. However, it may be significant that, in the quotation directly below, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá apparently used the term, “rational soul,” to refer to a single divine creation rather than to particular individuals. The attributes which make up the rational soul, such as arts and sciences, belong to our shared humanity. In other words, the rational soul may describe both who  we are and what  we do. Unlike God, we cannot create realities, but we can form existing ones into hybrids, compounds, and discoveries.

The first condition of perception in the world of nature is the perception of the rational soul. In this perception and in this power all men are sharers, whether they be neglectful or vigilant, believers or deniers. This human rational soul is God’s creation; it encompasses and excels other creatures; as it is more noble and distinguished, it encompasses things. The power of the rational soul can discover the realities of things, comprehend the peculiarities of beings, and penetrate the mysteries of existence. All sciences, knowledge, arts, wonders, institutions, discoveries and enterprises come from the exercised intelligence of the rational soul. There was a time when they were unknown, preserved mysteries and hidden secrets; the rational soul gradually discovered them and brought them out from the plane of the invisible and the hidden into the realm of the visible. This is the greatest power of perception in the world of nature, which in its highest flight and soaring comprehends the realities, the properties and the effects of the contingent beings.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 217-218.
The mind force—whether we call it pre-existent or contingent—doth direct and co-ordinate all the members of the human body, seeing to it that each part or member duly performeth its own special function. If, however, there be some interruption in the power of the mind, all the members will fail to carry out their essential functions, deficiencies will appear in the body and the functioning of its members, and the power will prove ineffective.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 48.

Each of us, in my opinion, comes from the rational faculty. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was reported to have answered the following question:

Question: In what condition is the soul before entering the body?
Answer: In a state of potentiality, possessing no consciousness as we understand it.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, from a talk given by in Paris, France, October 18, 1911. “Condition of Soul Before Becoming Associated with Body.” Star of the West. Volume II. Number 6.

Finally, I will offer a concrete suggestion. True unity, in my view, is a unity in diversity or multiplicity, not an imaginary pseudo-unity in sameness or absolute conformity. The United States, as a nation which claims no official language, has, nevertheless, always been both Anglo-American and, through the Southwestern states and Puerto Rico, Latin American. By making English and Spanish the two official languages, much as French and English are the two recognized languages of Canada, the United States can also embrace its long heritage as a Latin American country.

Return to the table of contents.

IV. Special Beings
The Prophets

The angelic Voice, the Word of God revealed by His Prophets, speaks to us from the highest realm in the heavenly Kingdom of Angels:

O Thou kind and loving Providence! The east is astir and the west surgeth even as the eternal billows of the sea. The gentle breezes of holiness are diffused and, from the Unseen Kingdom, the rays of the Orb of Truth shine forth resplendent. The anthems of divine unity are being chanted and the ensigns of celestial might are waving. The angelic Voice is raised and, even as the roaring of the leviathan, soundeth the call to selflessness and evanescence. The triumphal cry Yá Baháʾuʾl-Abhá [O Glory of the Most Glorious, Bahá’u’lláh] resoundeth on every side, and the call Yá ʿAlíyyuʾl-Aʿlá [O Exalted of the Most Exalted, the Báb] ringeth throughout all regions. No stir is there in the world save that of the Glory of the One Ravisher of Hearts, and no tumult is there save the surging of the love of Him, the Incomparable, the Well-Beloved.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Page 312.
Look Up
an illustration from Voltaire’s Micromégas

Yet, there are Messengers (or Prophets), and there are Messengers (or Archangels). The context is important:

He [God] hath sent forth His Messengers, His Prophets and chosen ones that they might acquaint the people with the divine purpose underlying the revelation of Books and the raising up of Messengers, and that everyone may become aware of the trust of God which is latent in the reality of every soul.
Bahá’u’lláh, Lawḥ-i-Maqṣúd (Tablet of Maqṣúd), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 161.
It is for the future historian to appraise the value of the mission of each of the four chosen messengers of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who, in rapid succession, were dispatched by Him to pacify and reinvigorate that troubled community. His will be the task of tracing, in the work which these deputies of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were commissioned to undertake, the beginnings of that vast Administration, the corner-stone of which these messengers were instructed to lay—an Administration whose symbolic Edifice He, at a later time, was to found in person and whose basis and scope the provisions of His Will were destined to widen.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 83.

Likewise, there are Prophets of God, and there are prophetic seers (“prophets”):

The gardeners of the world of humanity are the Prophets of God.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 194.
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.
St. Paul, I Corinthians 12:28, American Standard Version (1901).

All Prophets, I would suggest, are Angels (as divine Messengers). However, not all angels are Prophets. Some of the celestial, angelic populations, possibly from other star systems, may have always been with us. These transterrestrial friends are gathered, I believe, within the hierarchy of celestial angels. They monitor and protect us:

... [There was] a UFO sighting in the year 776, during the siege on Sigiburg castle, France. The Saxons besieged and surrounded the French people. They both were fighting when suddenly a group of discs (flaming shields) appeared hovering over the top of the church. It appeared to the Saxons that the French were protected by these objects and the Saxons fled.
Clear Evidence of UFO Sighting in 10th- and 12th-Century Manuscripts. May 25, 2007. Retrieved on May 25, 2012.
If the powers-that-be on earth continue to ... disregard the continued efforts of the Space Brothers, then they may expect to receive even more startling and dramatic visitations in the near future.
The Space Brothers – and Earth’s Electronic Equipment. Archived material retrieved from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website on August 22, 2012.

Within the following two distinctions between Prophets of God, independent and dependent, is a marvelous Unity in diversity:

These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth....
The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 50-52.
Universally, the Prophets are of two kinds. One are the independent Prophets Who are followed; the other kind are not independent and are themselves followers.
The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new cycle. Through Their appearance the world puts on a new garment, the foundations of religion are established, and a new book is revealed. Without an intermediary They receive bounty from the Reality of the Divinity, and Their illumination is an essential illumination. They are like the sun which is luminous in itself: the light is its essential necessity; it does not receive light from any other star. These Dawning-places of the morn of Unity are the sources of bounty and the mirrors of the Essence of Reality.
The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and not independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They are like the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but receives its light from the sun.
The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muḥammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. But the others who are followers and promoters are like Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. For the independent Prophets are founders; They establish a new religion and make new creatures of men; They change the general morals, promote new customs and rules, renew the cycle and the Law. Their appearance is like the season of spring, which arrays all earthly beings in a new garment, and gives them a new life.
With regard to the second sort of Prophets who are followers, these also promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His word. Of themselves they have no power and might, except what they receive from the independent Prophets.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 164-165.
QuetzalcoatlSpeculatively, Mesoamerican Lesser Prophets or Angels could have included Quetzalcoatl (Aztec or “Nahuātl,” Quetzalcohuātl, plumed or feathered serpent), peace be upon Him, at or around the time of Jesus Christ. Although the Major, or Independent, Prophets have come from the East, perhaps certain Dependent Prophets, transterrestrial angels, divinely inspired seers, and other special beings have represented God, from time to time, throughout the Western hemisphere:
“From the beginning of time until the present day,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Himself affirms, “the light of Divine Revelation hath risen in the East and shed its radiance upon the West. The illumination thus shed hath, however, acquired in the West an extraordinary brilliancy. Consider the Faith proclaimed by Jesus. Though it first appeared in the East, yet not until its light had been shed upon the West did the full measure of its potentialities become manifest.” “The day is approaching,” He, in another passage, assures us, “when ye shall witness how, through the splendor of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, the West will have replaced the East, radiating the light of Divine Guidance.” “In the books of the Prophets,” He again asserts, “certain glad-tidings are recorded which are absolutely true and free from doubt. The East hath ever been the dawning-place of the Sun of Truth. In the East all the Prophets of God have appeared ...The West hath acquired illumination from the East but in some respects the reflection of the light hath been greater in the Occident. This is specially true of Christianity. Jesus Christ appeared in Palestine and His teachings were founded in that country. Although the doors of the Kingdom were first opened in that land and the bestowals of God were spread broadcast from its center, the people of the West have embraced and promulgated Christianity more fully than the people of the East.”
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 74-75.
From the point of view of religious history, the successive banishments of Bahá’u’lláh to Constantinople and Adrianople have a striking symbolism. For the first time, a Manifestation of God, Founder of an independent religious system which was soon to spread throughout the planet, had crossed the narrow neck of water separating Asia from Europe, and had set foot in “the West.” All of the other great religions had arisen in Asia and the ministries of their Founders had been confined to that continent. Referring to the fact that the dispensations of the past, and particularly those of Abraham, Christ, and Muḥammad, had produced their most important effects on the development of civilization during the course of their westward expansion, Bahá’u’lláh predicted that the same thing would occur in this new age, but on a vastly larger scale: “In the East the Light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West the signs of His dominion have appeared. Ponder this in your hearts, O people....”
Bahá’u’lláh, quoted in Bahá’í International Community, Statement on Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 18-19.

We may commune with the divine Essence directly or through His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh and other Prophets.

We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá’u’lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God.
From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska. Page 63.
You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá’u’lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá’u’lláh.
From a letter, dated October 14, 1937, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Page 63.

Although the permission (al-iǧāza) for communion granted below may have been intended for Bahá’ís living during the lifetime of the Blessed Beauty, I sometimes, in prayer and meditation, ask Him questions, while I try, as best I can, to feel or see His answers. My guess is that the statement could also apply, covenantally, to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to Shoghi Effendi, and to the beloved reality, which I personally pray, and prayerfully write, to as Your dearest Eminence, the Universal House of Justice. That Body’s divine authority to bring Justice to this world is, I feel, His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh’s gift, His love offering, to us.

In the Bayán it had been forbidden you to ask Us questions. The Lord hath now relieved you of this prohibition, that ye may be free to ask what you need to ask, but not such idle questions as those on which the men of former times were wont to dwell. Fear God, and be ye of the righteous! Ask ye that which shall be of profit to you in the Cause of God and His dominion, for the portals of His tender compassion have been opened before all who dwell in heaven and on earth.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 64.
Know thou moreover that thy letter reached Our presence and We perceived and perused its contents. We noted the questions thou hast asked and will readily answer thee. It behoveth everyone in this Day to ask God that which he desireth, and thy Lord will heed his petition with wondrous and undeniable verses.
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 183.

Among All Things (Kulla Šayʾ), justice is the best beloved from Bahá’u’lláh’s God’s-eye viewpoint:

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh. Arabic. Number 2.

The beloved Universal House of Justice may not know the precise course of events, or the global situation, in the future. Nevertheless, as human affairs are progressively unfolded by the Blessed Beauty, the Supreme Body will, we have been assured, continue to be inspired. It will apply or elucidate the Bahá’í Sacred Texts, and their interpretations, to a gradually evolving, maturing World Order:

If I call upon Thee by Thy Name, the All-Possessing, I am compelled to recognize that He Who holdeth in His hand the immediate destinies of all created things is but a vassal dependent upon Thee, and is the creation of but a word proceeding from Thy mouth.
Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations. Page 123.

In my opinion, agreeing with versus disagreeing with a statement made by the three Central Figures, Shoghi Effendi, or the Universal House of Justice is a less than satisfactory approach. These individuals and institutions provide various forms of divine guidance. They are not occult oracles. As I see it, human beings do not have the ability to determine the infallibility of any individual or institution. Even a clear consensus on the definition of infallibility is lacking. More relevant, I think, is authority. Although infallibility is known to God, authority is revealed to us.

Apart from the question of infallibility, there is the matter of authority. A letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi states: “It is not for individual believers to limit the sphere of the Guardian’s authority, or to judge when they have to obey the Guardian and when they are free to reject his judgment. Such an attitude would evidently lead to confusion and to schism.” In regard to the Universal House of Justice, the same understanding applies.
Infallibility is a profound spiritual concept inherent in the Bahá’í Writings. In meditating upon the relevant passages, the believers will naturally reach their own understanding of the subject. Individual opinions, however, should not be imposed on others, nor so promoted as to crystallize into doctrines not found in the explicit Text. Individual opinions, however, should not be imposed on others, nor so promoted as to crystallize into doctrines not found in the explicit Text. When exchanging views about the Universal House of Justice – the body to which all things must be referred – the friends should exercise care lest they go to extremes, by either diminishing its station or assigning to it exaggerated attributes.
From a letter, dated April 7, 2008, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, by the Department of the Secretariat, to the Bahá’ís in Īrān from the Department of the Secretariat.
In considering the whole field of divinely conferred “infallibility” one must be careful to avoid the literal understanding and petty-mindedness that has so often characterised discussions of this matter in the Christian world. The Manifestation of God (and, to a lesser degree, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi,) has to convey tremendous concepts covering the whole field of human life and activity to people whose present knowledge and degree of understanding are far below His. He must use the limited medium of human language against the limited and often erroneous background of His audience’s traditional knowledge and current understanding to raise them to a wholly new level of awareness and behaviour. It is a human tendency, against which the Manifestation warns us, to measure His statements against the inaccurate standard of the acquired knowledge of mankind. We tend to take them and place them within one or other of the existing categories of human philosophy or science while, in reality, they transcend these and will, if properly understood, open new and vast horizons to our understanding.
From a letter, dated June 3, 1982, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í.

For a Bahá’í, meditating upon or studying the Bahá’í Revelation can be inspired by a prayerful devotion to Bahá’u’lláh, the Best Beloved. Indeed, knowledge, of whatever type, begins with love or a focus on the inner heart. The “Essence”, as the Unity of God or the Unity of the Prophets, is unknowable to me. Among the greatest mysteries of the ages, in my view, is that the Station of Essential Unity includes the Oneness of God and the Oneness of His Prophets. Aside from the Unity of the Prophets and Each of the individual Prophets, such as Bahá’u’lláh, there can be, in my thoughts, literally no other God.

To Him Muḥammad, the Apostle of God, had alluded in His Book [the Qurʾân] as the “Great Announcement,” and declared His [Bahá’u’lláh’s] Day to be the Day whereon “God” will “come down” “overshadowed with clouds,” the Day whereon “thy Lord shall come and the angels rank on rank,” and “The Spirit shall arise and the angels shall be ranged in order.”
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 96.

On the other hand, according to a widely accepted view in India, the Avatār (Sanskrit, Avatāra, descent or incarnation of God ) is a single God or being:

The Avatar is always one and the same, because God is always One and the Same, the Eternal, Indivisible, Infinite One, who manifests Himself in the form of man as the Avatar, as the Messiah, as the Prophet, as the Ancient One—the Highest of the High.
Meher Baba (Persian, Mihr Bābā, compassionate father), The Highest of the High.
Yes, [there are currently] many [incarnations of the Divine Mother on earth]. Some will be known, others wish to remain secret. The work of each is different. Each expresses a different aspect of the Divine Mother. My scope is very broad and more integral. I help people at all stages of life.
Mother Meera (Sanskrit, Mīra, sea or ocean), Mother Meera Answers Part 1.
The Avatar takes the human form and behaves in a human way so that humanity can feel kinship with the divinity. At the same time he rises to godly heights so that mankind also can aspire to reach God.
Sātya Sāi Bābā, Sathya Sai Baba – Kalki Avatar of Vishnu During Kali Yuga Age.

The identical God or Goddess is believed to incarnate, usually multiple times, in a mortal form. When explained in this fashion, an Avatār differs from my definition of Prophethood. His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh instead, like all the Prophets, is an uncommon and distinctive Being. He is  God. At the same time, He has His Own Individuality or Character and, while human, He even had a personality. I love my divine Friend, Bahá’u’lláh, as a particular Soul, not as an abstraction. Years ago, I considered the point of having a Prophet, if He incarnates only once into this world, but a similar question could be posed to you or to me.

Based upon the Vedic daśāvatārāḥ (Sanskrit for ten Avatārs or Descended Ones) system, Bahá’u’lláh is regarded by Bahá’ís as the tenth Avatār, Kalki (from the Devanāgarī script in Sanskrit, Destroyer of impurity or Immaculate One):

To Him [Bahá’u’lláh] the Bhagavad-Gita of the Hindus had referred as the “Most Great Spirit,” the “Tenth Avatar,” the “Immaculate Manifestation of Krishna.”
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 95.

Now, with new light, many of the passages we read within various religious and devotional texts may be explained differently from before. Here are a few examples:

And Jehovah [Hebrew, YHWH] said to Moses [Hebrew, Mōše or, alternately, Mōšêh], See, I have made you a god to Pharaoh [Egyptian, pr-ʾo, great house or palace]; and your brother Aaron [Hebrew, Ahărōn] shall be your prophet.
Exodus 7:1, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible  (Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).
In the beginning was the Word [Greek, Logós], and the Word was with God [Koiné Greek, ϑeós or “theos”], and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.... And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.... And looking at Jesus [Hebrew, Yēšūăʿ] walking, he [John the Baptist] said, Behold, the Lamb of God!
John 1:1, 2, 3, 14, and 36, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible  (Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).
... glorious Hermés longed for the sacrificial meat, for the sweet savour wearied him, god though he was; nevertheless his proud heart was not prevailed upon to devour the flesh, although he greatly desired ....
Hóméric Hymn 4 to Hermés. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, translator.

The so-called “Śāṭanic verses” (al-āyāt al-Šayṭān, the signs of Śāṭan) in the Qurʾân have long been a thorny issue within the global Islāmic community. As these verses have frequently been interpreted, Muḥammad was baited, through His persecution, to adopt polytheism, but He later recanted it. However, I would suggest that Muḥammad was simply making a sarcastic comment about these three commonly worshipped Arabian Goddesses:

Have ye thought upon Allāt and al-ʿUzzā and Manāt, the third, the other? These are the exalted ġarānīq [from the Ancient Greek, géranos, crane], whose intercession is hoped for. Are yours the males and His the females? That indeed were an unfair division! They are but names which ye have named, ye and your fathers, for which Allāh hath revealed no warrant. They follow but a guess and that which (they) themselves desire. And now the guidance from their Lord hath come unto them.
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 53:19-23, The Meaning of the Glorious Qurʾân  (Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, translator).

The customary Islāmic assumption is that all of the Prophets (anbiyā, plural of nabī) and Messengers (rusul, plural of rasūl) before Muḥammad were Muslims. Unfortunately, translations can be confusing, even misleading, to many average readers. In the translations of the Qurʾân I have seen, the word “Muslim,” unlike the surrounding text, is left untranslated. Keeping the Arabic for Muslim, rather than translating it (one who surrenders to God), may leave one with the impression that Muḥammad believed Each of these Prophets followed and taught the specific religious laws and ordinances of Islām.

The understandings of “Prophethood,” among many Muslims, resemble the ones which are commonly held by Jews and Christians. Prophets are regarded as ordinary people who, at some point in their lives, receive certain divine instructions. From this point of view, they do not differ significantly from the rest of us. God selects them as Prophets because of their high moral character or for reasons all His Own. In the Bahá’í Faith, however, although Prophets, like us, are human beings in this world, They were always Prophets. At some point in Their lives, They recognize Their divine Positions or Stations:

... I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Page 39.
... the Reality of Christ, Who is the Word of God, with regard to essence, attributes and glory, certainly precedes the creatures. Before appearing in the human form, the Word of God was in the utmost sanctity and glory, existing in perfect beauty and splendor in the height of its magnificence.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 116-117.
The soul or spirit of the individual comes into being with the conception of his physical body.
The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being.
From a letter, dated October 9, 1947, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1699.

The objective of the Prophet Muḥammad was to establish al-ʾumma (community or nation). Some of the tribes of Arabia who opposed that effort were conquered and then treated fairly. God’s Will and human standards are not always identical:

The spirit that animateth the human heart is the knowledge of God, and its truest adorning is the recognition of the truth that “He doeth whatsoever He willeth, and ordaineth that which He pleaseth.” Its raiment is the fear of God, and its perfection steadfastness in His Faith. Thus God instructeth whosoever seeketh Him. He, verily, loveth the one that turneth towards Him. There is none other God but Him, the Forgiving, the Most Bountiful. All praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 291.

His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh is, in the Station of Distinction, the Father and the Spirit of Truth, or the Comforter, of the Gospels. He is, in addition, the Great Announcement, when God Himself comes down, which was a prophecy revealed by the Seal of the Prophets (al-Hātim an-Nabiyīn), the lofty Muḥammad. In spite of this eminent Station, the dear Best Beloved is not literally God the Essence:

Bahá’u’lláh is not the intermediary between other Manifestations and God. Each has His own relation to the Primal Source. But in the sense that Bahá’u’lláh is the greatest Manifestation to yet appear, the One who consummates the Revelation of Moses, He was the One Moses conversed with in the Burning Bush. In other words, Bahá’u’lláh identifies the glory of the God-Head on that occasion with Himself. No distinction can be made amongst the Prophets in the sense that They all proceed from one Source, and are of one essence. But Their stations and functions in this world are different.
Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community. Page 448.

The greatness of this Age is demonstrated by the Appearance of the Most Exalted Báb, a Major Prophet and a Lawgiver in His Own right, as the Herald of His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, the Promised One of all religions. His Exalted Presence the Báb, being the Primal or Most Exalted Point (al-Nuqtat al-Alā), is the Collective Center of the Prophetic Cycle and the Cycle of Fulfillment. Previously, the Prophetic Cycle had been sealed by Muḥammad. With the Báb, through a figurative burning of all non-Bábí books, that old cycle may, in preparation for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh, the Blessed and Ancient Beauty, have been thoroughly abolished.

It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained, and may, in a sense, be characterized as God’s appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation “Seal of the Prophets” fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 60.

Bahá’u’lláh, the Ancient One, has come to each one of us in the clouds of heaven:

... now, with reference to His [Jesus’] words: “And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” These words signify that in those days men will lament the loss of the Sun of the divine beauty, of the Moon of knowledge, and of the Stars of divine wisdom. Thereupon, they will behold the countenance of the promised One, the adored Beauty, descending from heaven and riding upon the clouds. By this is meant that the divine Beauty will be made manifest from the heaven of the will of God, and will appear in the form of the human temple. The term “heaven” denoteth loftiness and exaltation, inasmuch as it is the seat of the revelation of those Manifestations of Holiness, the Day-springs of ancient glory. These ancient Beings, though delivered from the womb of their mother, have in reality descended from the heaven of the will of God. Though they be dwelling on this earth, yet their true habitations are the retreats of glory in the realms above. Whilst walking amongst mortals, they soar in the heaven of the divine presence. Without feet they tread the path of the spirit, and without wings they rise unto the exalted heights of divine unity. With every fleeting breath they cover the immensity of space, and at every moment traverse the kingdoms of the visible and the invisible. Upon their thrones is written: “Nothing whatsoever keepeth Him from being occupied with any other thing;” and on their seats is inscribed: “Verily, His ways differ every day.” They are sent forth through the transcendent power of the Ancient of Days, and are raised up by the exalted will of God, the most mighty King. This is what is meant by the words: “coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Pages 66-67.
As I [Daniel] watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.... As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.
Daniel 7:9-10 and 13-14, New Revised Standard Version.
... the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven” with power and great glory.
Matthew 24:30, New Revised Standard Version.

From one perspective, the Most Exalted Báb could, in my opinion, be compared with the Hindu Deity, Śivā (or “Shiva,” Sanskrit for “Auspicious One”). In some Hindū contexts, Śivā is presented as the Destroyer of evil. Although His Exalted Presence the Báb’s Dispensation was brief (1844-1850), it was revolutionary:

... the Bábí Dispensation was essentially in the nature of a religious and indeed social revolution, and its duration had therefore to be short, but full of tragic events, of sweeping and drastic reforms. These drastic measures enforced by the Báb and His followers were taken with the view of undermining the very foundations of Shíʿah orthodoxy, and thus paving the way for the coming of Bahá’u’lláh. To assert the independence of the new Dispensation, and to prepare also the ground for the approaching Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh the Báb had therefore to reveal very severe laws, even though most of them, were never enforced.
Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day. Page 56.
He is Shiva [Śivā], the ultimate manifestation of energy, of strength, of vigour, of art and of expression. At the same time, he is also the supreme manifestation of destruction, war, destroyer of evil ....
Bharat Bhushan, Rudra: The Dancing Destroyer. Page 15.

The Prophets are not God, the highest Essence. Since we cannot read God’s Mind, They are also not His symbols or meanings or thoughts. Instead the Prophets, as Messengers or Manifestations of God’s Names and Attributes, are, in my view, the Signs (al-Āyāt) or Reflections or Representations of God. I have attempted to compile a complete list of those Individuals Who are regarded as central to contemporary organizations and practices. During this process, I consulted various Bahá’í texts, the Qurʾân, the New Testament, and the TaNaḤ (the Hebrew acronym for the Jewish Bible).

Although I have done my best to organize these Prophets chronologically, there is really no way of knowing the precise order, one way or the other, in many cases. The records which we have for most of Them come from traditional accounts, not from records which can be historically verified. Many of the reports of Their conduct or activities, sometimes even Their human existence, cannot be confirmed by reliable sources from within Their Own time periods. Current estimates for the lifetimes of, for example, Zoroaster, Kṛṣṇā (Sanskrit, black one), and Melchizedek differ by hundreds, even thousands, of years.

As a result of these difficulties with obtaining accurate dates, the proper sequence of these Exalted Individuals may not be entirely accurate. Additionally, the functions in which Hermés (the Qurʾânic Prophet, Īdrīs), St. Paul, Nōăḥ, Melchizedek, and ʾAbrāhām play the major role are in new religious movements  (NRMs). During Shoghi Effendi’s lifetime, a few of the movements inspired by these particular Prophets had followers. However, perhaps due to the freshness, even novelty, of these activities, he did not include them among the existing revealed religions:

The number nine, which in itself is the number of perfection, is considered by the Bahá’ís as sacred because it is symbolic of the perfection of the Bahá’í Revelation, which constitutes the ninth in the line of existing religions, the latest and fullest Revelation which mankind has ever known. The eighth is the Religion of the Báb, and the remaining seven are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islám and the religion of the Sabaeans. These religions are not the only true religions that have appeared in the world, but are the only ones which are still existing.
From a letter, dated July 28, 1936, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.
The first person who devoted himself to philosophy was Ídrís. Thus was he named. Some called him also Hermes. In every tongue he hath a special name. He it is who hath set forth in every branch of philosophy thorough and convincing statements. After him Bálinus derived his knowledge and sciences from the Hermetic Tablets and most of the philosophers who followed him made their philosophical and scientific discoveries from his words and statements....
Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 152.
O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe; nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will tell of thy piety. And in that day men will be weary of life, and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent wonder and of worship. And so religion, the greatest of all blessings, for there is nothing, nor has been, nor ever shall be, that can be deemed a greater boon, will be threatened with destruction; men will think it a burden, and will come to scorn it. They will no longer love this world around us, this incomparable work of God, this glorious structure which he has built, this sum of good made up of things of many diverse forms, this instrument whereby the will of God operates in that which be has made, ungrudgingly favouring man’s welfare, this combination and accumulation of all the manifold things that can call forth the veneration, praise, and love of the beholder.
Hermé Trismegistus, The Prophecy of Hermes Trismegistus. Retrieved on November 22, 2012.

My own list of Prophets with present-day followers is below. Many of the dates provided are either speculative or contested. Of course, the Prophets are not the only special beings who have come into this world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, the Imāms of Twelver Šīʿah Islām, the Exalted Báb’s Letters of the Living, the Greatest Holy Leaf (and other women of her rank), Gurū Nānak, Peter the Apostle, Confucius, and numerous others, while perhaps not all Prophets, might be added to the list. Therefore, I later expanded it to contain a few other special beings mentioned in official Bahá’í and in Biblical sources.

  1. Nōăḥ (Hebrew), approximately 5500 B.C.
  2. Krishna (Sanskrit, Kṛṣṇā), approximately 3228-3102 B.C.
  3. Melchizedek (Hebrew, Malk-î Ṣādeq), approximately 2400 B.C.
  4. Zoroaster (Avestan, Zaraϑuštra or “Zarathushtra”), approximately 2000 B.C.
  5. ʾAbrāhām (Hebrew), approximately 1997 B.C.
  6. Moses (Hebrew, Mōše), approximately 1391-1271 B.C.
  7. Hermés (Ancient Greek), approximately 1300 B.C.
  8. the Buddha6 (Pāḷi and Sanskrit), approximately 400 B.C.
  9. John the Baptist (Hebrew, Yôḥānān hā-Matbil7), approximately the late first-century B.C.
  10. Jesus Christ, (Hebrew, Yēšūăʿ hā-Māšîaḥ), approximately 7 B.C.-36 A.D.
  11. St. Paul (Latin, Paulus), approximately 5-67 A.D.
  12. Muḥammad (Arabic), approximately 570-632 A.D.
  13. the Báb (Arabic, al-Bāb), 1819-1850 A.D.
  14. Bahá’u’lláh (Arabic, Bahāʾ Allāh), 1817-1892 A.D., God’s Greatest Name

The Unity or the Essence, as He is described in certain Bahá’í sources, may, for the most part, be a new idea. Multiple “Gods” are discussed within the Sacred Texts of numerous religions. Yet, to my knowledge, none of these God-men, such as Hermés, could ever have been visualized as a Prophet around the Unity. The “Unifying” networks between these Divinities were only vague or, possibly, entirely unrevealed. This lack of scriptural clarity has frequently resulted either in a polytheism of Gods without the all-important Unity or in a monism of Gods without much significant Individuality.

... the reality of prophethood, which is the Word of God and the perfect state of manifestation, did not have any beginning and will not have any end; its rising is different from all others and is like that of the sun. For example, its dawning in the sign of Christ was with the utmost splendor and radiance, and this is eternal and everlasting.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 152.
The individual realities of the Divine Manifestations [Prophets] have no separation from the Bounty of God and the Lordly Splendor.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 155.
Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: “I am God,” He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Page 179.

Although the progressive Revelations of the Prophets have sometimes been defined as providing more information, that interpretation is not, in my opinion, most ideal. Each of the Prophets is a precious individual Soul or a God Being. He is Sovereign over His Dispensation. As a divine Manifestation, His Will is identical to the Will of God. Because Revelation, has, over the Ages, been formed in many ways, not just one, our knowledge is relative. To my understanding, through a progressive Revelation, the Prophets have provided to humanity successively deeper formulations of revealed truths.

We regular individuals must, through considerable effort and devotion, struggle to acquire various attributes, stations, or planes. The Prophets, however, are different. Their awareness is universal, timeless, and innate, not specific, limited, and acquired. As Members of a “species” of God-Men, these Prophets come into this world with the divine Attributes of a heavenly Station. Living and acting among us, and appearing as outwardly ordinary Humans, They then reveal God’s Attributes (sometimes called the Word, the Holy Spirit, or the Primal Will) within the beings and things of this world:

The first thing which emanated from God is that universal reality, which the ancient philosophers termed the “First Mind,” and which the people of Bahá call the “First Will.” This emanation, in that which concerns its action in the world of God, is not limited by time or place; it is without beginning or end-beginning and end in relation to God are one....
Though the “First Mind” is without beginning, it does not become a sharer in the preexistence of God, for the existence of the universal reality in relation to the existence of God is nothingness, and it has not the power to become an associate of God and like unto Him in preexistence.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 203.
There is, therefore, only one way to God and that is through the realization of his Manifestation or Prophet in that age. Christ called the world of the prophets “the word” in the verse of “the word became flesh” while ‘Abdu’l-Bahá calls it the Will. Anyhow it is only through these that we can know God. These manifest the divine attributes and therefore by knowing them we can know God. The mystic path that the traveller should follow is therefore to the Prophet. By coming in contact with Him will he obtain peace.
From a letter, dated November 29, 1929, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í (Lights of Guidance, number 1725).

On the other hand, the Prophets Themselves, in Their humanities or human stations, are apparently unable to comprehend, to surround in other words, Their divine Unity (Tawḥīd Allāh) or Essence:

Ten thousand Prophets, each a Moses, are thunderstruck upon the Sinai of their search at His forbidding voice, “Thou shalt never behold Me!”; whilst a myriad Messengers, each as great as Jesus, stand dismayed upon their heavenly thrones by the interdiction, “Mine Essence thou shalt never apprehend!” From time immemorial He hath been veiled in the ineffable sanctity of His exalted Self, and will everlastingly continue to be wrapt in the impenetrable mystery of His unknowable Essence. Every attempt to attain to an understanding of His inaccessible Reality hath ended in complete bewilderment, and every effort to approach His exalted Self and envisage His Essence hath resulted in hopelessness and failure.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 62-63.
As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? For the inner essence of anything is not comprehended, but only its qualities. For example, the inner essence of the sun is unknown, but is understood by its qualities, which are heat and light. The inner essence of man is unknown and not evident, but by its qualities it is characterized and known. Thus everything is known by its qualities and not by its essence. Although the mind encompasses all things, and the outward beings are comprehended by it, nevertheless these beings with regard to their essence are unknown; they are only known with regard to their qualities....
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 220.

The Unicentric Paradigm is, in my view, demonstrated by the relationship between the Unifying Essence of God and the Prophets. Because the Most Exalted Essence cannot be incarnated, God’s Prophets must be distinguished from the Ultimate Source of all. Time and time again, He manifests Himself, through His Prophets, within the lifeworlds of servitude or creation. Although the divine Essence is a rational Being, we cannot read the rational, but unknowable, Mind of God. However, the Sign or Manifestation of that Mind’s Primal, or First, Will (al-Mašīʾa al-Awwal) is an Ancient and Eternal Covenant (the Cause or Command of God), or a progressive Revelation, of the Prophets.

The human temple that has been made the vehicle of so overpowering a Revelation must, if we be faithful to the tenets of our [Bahá’í] Faith, ever remain entirely distinguished from that “innermost Spirit of Spirits” and “eternal Essence of Essences”—that invisible yet rational God Who, however much we extol the divinity of His Manifestations [Prophets] on earth, can in no wise incarnate His infinite, His unknowable, His incorruptible and all—embracing Reality in the concrete and limited frame of a mortal being. Indeed, the God Who could so incarnate His own reality would, in the light of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh, cease immediately to be God. So crude and fantastic a theory of Divine incarnation is as removed from, and incompatible with, the essentials of Bahá’í belief as are the no less inadmissible pantheistic and anthropomorphic conceptions of God—both of which the utterances of Bahá’u’lláh emphatically repudiate and the fallacy of which they expose.
Shoghi Effendi The World Order Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 112-113.

In my view, any “unknowable essence” is a unity, or an interdependency, of beings and things made up of attributes. These lower essences are stepped-down expressions of the absolute Source, the Unity of God. Once that Unity is manifested by a Prophet, each of the essences of creation depends solely upon His Will, which is the Will of the divine Unity. As ordinary humans, including social scientists and other researchers, we can only name, categorize, or identify the attributes of unifying essences or essential unities. We may then form relationships with the attributes which have been named. Speculating on essences not revealed by a Prophet goes nowhere.

In like manner the mind proveth the existence of an unseen Reality that embraceth all beings, and that existeth and revealeth itself in all stages, the essence whereof is beyond the grasp of the mind. Thus the mineral world understandeth neither the nature nor the perfections of the vegetable world; the vegetable world understandeth not the nature of the animal world, neither the animal world the nature of the reality of man that discovereth and embraceth all things.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Pages 9-10.
St. Paul the Apostle and St. John the Beloved

Continuing this discussion, I was moved to write specifically about the Apostle Paul. For years, I regarded Him as a usurper. I concluded that the beloved Paul stole the rightful authority of the original Apostles, perhaps of Peter in particular, after the Crucifixion of Jesus. Since that time, I have expressed, through my prayers, my deep sadness and regret to St. Paul. Many times, I have pleaded for His forgiveness. I now love and treasure the Apostle Paul’s Soul very deeply. For what little it is worth, I often feel comforted by His gentle and compassionate Presence in my meditations.

St. Paul’s epistles are, in my view, commonly misused. As the Church fathers searched for a theological foundation, Paul’s letters became its basic raw materials. This decision was clearly not the fault of Paul, the dear One. In adapting His understandings of the Gospel to diverse congregations, He was a brilliant Pastor and Evangelist. He should be praised and honored as such. However, Paul never claimed, in His letters, to be a theologian. Rather, He addressed specific churches at a particular moment in time. There is no indication that He intended his counsels to be applied within outside contexts:

For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Paul, I Corinthians 9:19-23, New Revised Standard Version.

For instance, St. Paul gave the following stipulation to the relatively unseasoned Church at Corinth, not to the more mature Church at Ephesus:

... let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, American Standard Version (1901).

In other words, Paul was a relativist. His counsels were not, as He himself explained, consistent. Instead, they frequently differed from church to church. This brilliantly pragmatic, or practical, approach becomes obvious when comparing His letters to the Church at Corinth with His letter to the apparently more mature Church at Ephesus. Perhaps, therefore, the major value in St. Paul’s letters, to later generations, was not in His compassionate instructions to specific congregations, but in the importance of applying the Gospel to a context. Paul became the Expression, and Exemplar, of Christ’s love.

Decades ago, through my doctoral research on Pentecostalism, I watched a well-known American Pentecostal television evangelist deliver one of his usually fiery sermons. He preached that any form of music, except for Gospel, and any kind of dancing, except for “dancing in the spirit” (ecstatic dancing), were sinful. Sadly, some conservative Christians consider any accommodations to the world as being in league with the devil. By these uncompromsing standards, St. Paul might very well have been (God forbid) a horrible sinner. Many people do not, of course, carefully examine all of their assumptions.

That blessed Messiah of the Jews was, through the intercession of the divine Messenger St. Paul, also the Messiah to the Gentiles (other nations). Once, however, Paul is misread as an official Church theologian, the differences between his letters or epistles result in doctrinal confusion. Nevertheless, as long as the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and other churches maintained their positions of dominance, the issue of disagreement could be skillfully resolved: Dissenters were branded as heretics. In many cases, they were executed.

Then, as the power of one or more of those centuries-old Churches became weakened, during the Protestant Reformation (approximately 1517-1750 A.D.) and even more so in modern times, Pauline-based theologies multiplied:

None, I feel, will question the fact that the fundamental reason why the unity of the Church of Christ was irretrievably shattered, and its influence was in the course of time undermined, was that the Edifice which the Fathers of the Church reared after the passing of His First Apostle was an Edifice that rested in nowise upon the explicit directions of Christ Himself. The authority and features of their administration were wholly inferred, and indirectly derived, with more or less justification, from certain vague and fragmentary references which they found scattered amongst His utterances as recorded in the Gospel. Not one of the sacraments of the Church; not one of the rites and ceremonies which the Christian Fathers have elaborately devised and ostentatiously observed; not one of the elements of the severe discipline they rigorously imposed upon the primitive Christians; none of these reposed on the direct authority of Christ, or emanated from His specific utterances. Not one of these did Christ conceive, none did He specifically invest with sufficient authority to either interpret His Word, or to add to what He had not specifically enjoined.
For this reason, in later generations, voices were raised in protest against the self-appointed Authority which arrogated to itself privileges and powers which did not emanate from the clear text of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and which constituted a grave departure from the spirit which that Gospel did inculcate. They argued with force and justification that the canons promulgated by the Councils of the Church were not divinely-appointed laws, but were merely human devices which did not even rest upon the actual utterances of Jesus. Their contention centered around the fact that the vague and inconclusive words, addressed by Christ to Peter, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” could never justify the extreme measures, the elaborate ceremonials, the fettering creeds and dogmas, with which His successors have gradually burdened and obscured His Faith. Had it been possible for the Church Fathers, whose unwarranted authority was thus fiercely assailed from every side, to refute the denunciations heaped upon them by quoting specific utterances of Christ regarding the future administration of His Church, or the nature of the authority of His Successors, they would surely have been capable of quenching the flame of controversy, and preserving the unity of Christendom. The Gospel, however, the only repository of the utterances of Christ, afforded no such shelter to these harassed leaders of the Church, who found themselves helpless in the face of the pitiless onslaught of their enemy, and who eventually had to submit to the forces of schism which invaded their ranks.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 20-21.

I will, at this point, make an unusual argument concerning the exalted Station of St. Paul. First, in defining the two categories of God’s Prophets, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

[Some] Prophets are followers and promoters, ... and they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets.
... [They] are like Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel....
... [They] promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His word.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 164-165.

Then, as Shoghi Effendi wrote through his secretary:

We cannot possibly add names of people we (or anyone else) think might be Lesser Prophets to those found in the Qurʾán, the Bible and our own Scriptures. For only these can we consider authentic Books.
From a letter, dated March 13, 1950, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.

For now, I must once again qualify that anything I write is only my own opinion. I could not even trust myself. However, applying these two statements to various New Testament texts, I would suggest that the beloved St. Paul may have been clearly described, perhaps along with St. John of the Apocalpyse, as a Lesser or Dependent Prophet. Beginning in 2011, for reasons not entirely clear to me, I found myself becoming strongly attracted, almost overnight, to the Attributes in Paul, the blessed One. This sense of comradery and intimacy with dear St. Paul’s beautiful Soul intensifies when I pray to Him.

Numerous Lesser Prophets are reported to have followed Moses. Yet, no One of that Station seems to have appeared after the lifetime of Christ. Although Paul was not one of the Twelve Apostles appointed by Jesus, He clearly referred to Himself as an Apostle (Koiné Greek, Apóstolos, Messenger). His claim also seems to have been accepted by at least some of the original Apostles. St. Paul’s position as an Apostle or a Messenger might better be appreciated by examining His Own life together with certain statements He made about Himself. For instance, He wrote about His Authority to command:

If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
Paul, I Corinthians 14:37-38, New Revised Standard Version.
... I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.
Paul, Galatians 1:11-14, New Revised Standard Version.

The moment when a Messenger of God awakens to His mission has, according to Shoghi Effendi (God Passes By, page 94), often included a vision. His Exalted Presence the Báb viewed the martyred body of the Imām Ḥusayn, peace and blessings be upon Him, while His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh had a visitation from the Maiden (al-Ḥūrīya or, in Persian, Ḥūrī):

The circumstances in which the Vehicle of this newborn Revelation, following with such swiftness that of the Báb, received the first intimations of His sublime mission recall, and indeed surpass in poignancy the soul-shaking experience of Moses when confronted by the Burning Bush in the wilderness of Sinai; of Zoroaster when awakened to His mission by a succession of seven visions; of Jesus when coming out of the waters of the Jordan He saw the heavens opened and the Holy Ghost descend like a dove and light upon Him; of Muḥammad when in the Cave of Hira, outside of the holy city of Mecca, the voice of Gabriel bade Him “cry in the name of Thy Lord”; and of the Báb when in a dream He approached the bleeding head of the Imám Ḥusayn, and, quaffing the blood that dripped from his lacerated throat, awoke to find Himself the chosen recipient of the outpouring grace of the Almighty....
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 93.
... the “Most Great Spirit,” as designated by Himself [Bahá’u’lláh], and symbolized in the Zoroastrian, the Mosaic, the Christian, and Muḥammadan Dispensations by the Sacred Fire, the Burning Bush, the Dove and the Angel Gabriel respectively, descended upon, and revealed itself, personated by a “Maiden,” to the agonized soul of Bahá’u’lláh.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 101.

Similarly perhaps, following the Ascension of the Lord of the Heart, Jesus Christ, Paul became a deeply mystical Man after this astonishing and radiant inner vision:

... he [Paul] approached Damascus [Koiné Greek, Damaskós], and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “... why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”
Acts 9:3-6, New Revised Standard Version.

The sudden rush of Revelation can, for many Prophets, be almost overwhelming. Some may go on a retreat to process Their experiences. We do not know, of course, when, in life, a certain Prophet becomes aware that He is a special Being. Before that redefining moment, many of Them led ordinary, often unimpressive, lives. Moses was a murderer. St. Paul had persecuted Christians. In a moment, “O, My God,” and They refer to Themselves by a Name of God. Mīrzā Ḥusayn ʿAlī Nūrī was Baháʾ (Bahāʾ, Glory or Splendor). Saul (Hebrew, Šāʾûl, Ask or Pray) became Paul (Latin, Paulus, Small or Humble).

As Peter is the stable rock of Jesus (Matthew 16:18), Paul might be Christ’s pure and stainless Mirror. Unfortunately, St. Paul’s message has all but entirely been misinterpreted. Instead of appreciating the New Testament texts, in context, using a patient and relativist reasoning, the Church fathers misapplied Paul’s letters to a body of rigid creeds. However, Paul, as the elegant divine Messenger of relativism, can be cherished as the living  heart of the Gospel. By reading the teachings of Jesus through the clear lens of Paul’s flexibility, much of the bloodshed of so many centuries could have been avoided.

I realize that this next statement will probably sound quite odd. Nevertheless, one of the first things I would like to do, after arriving in the next world, is, if I am afforded the opportunity, to enter into a conversation with the beloved Messenger (Apostle) Paul and ask for His perspective on the manner in which His epistles were turned into systematic theologies. It would be such a blessing, for me, to have give and take with a saintly Man Whom I consider to be the Heart and Soul of the Gospel and of Christianity. He is, in my humble opinion, the Sacred Mirror of His Holy Presence Jesus of Nazareth.

Finally, the identity of John (Hebrew, Yôḥanan), the Author of the Apocalypse (the Book of Revelation), is disputed. Although He was equated by the Church fathers with John the Beloved, one of the original disciples of Jesus Christ, some scholars consider Him to have been a distinct Individual, John of Patmos. Nevertheless, not only did John write about His angelic visions, He also received the revealed Word from Jesus Christ. Much like His Compassionate Presence Muḥammad encountered the Angel Gabriel (Ǧibraʾil al-Malāk), John’s visions, as they are recorded in the Book of Revelation, came to Him through an angel sent by His Holy Presence Jesus.

Here is how John described His Own experiences:

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it; for the time is near. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen....
“It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you [John] with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book; if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away that person's share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.
John, Revelation 1:1-6 and 22-21, New Revised Standard Version.

John’s Prophetic status appears, to me, to have been clearly established by His serving Presence ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. One of John’s titles is John the Chaste:

Observe that if, according to the suppositions of the People of the Book, the meaning were taken in its exoteric sense, it would be absolute injustice and complete predestination. If Adam sinned by going near the forbidden tree, what was the sin of the glorious Abraham, and what was the error of Moses the Interlocutor? What was the crime of Noah the Prophet? What was the transgression of Joseph the Truthful? What was the iniquity of the Prophets of God, and what was the trespass of John the Chaste? Would the justice of God have allowed these enlightened Manifestations, on account of the sin of Adam, to find torment in hell until Christ came and by the sacrifice of Himself saved them from excruciating tortures?
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 125.
His [Jesus’] person was somewhat mysterious and etherial, so that it was only by degrees they [seven of Christ’s apostles] would come to recognize him. He would converse with them, then depart as suddenly as He had come. And who is the first on this occasion to recognize his Lord and Master? John, the chaste and pure disciple. How truly had our Lord once said: “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”
Lucas Caspar Businger and John Edward Mullett, The Life of Christ. New York: Bensiger Brothers. 1913. Pages 419-420.
Other Special Beings

The Prophets and certain other exceptional beings are not like us regular people in most respects. They are, each and every one of them, uncommon souls of a variety of sorts. Extraordinary women have sometimes served as the greatest exemplars of what could, in my opinion, be called the divine feminine  for their Day and time. These might include the “immortal heroines” mentioned in the following two passages:

Little wonder that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá should have joined her [Táhirih’s] name to those of Sarah, of Ásíyih, of the Virgin Mary and of Fátimih [Fāṭimah], who, in the course of successive Dispensations, have towered, by reason of their intrinsic merits and unique position, above the rank and file of their sex.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 75.
... the Greatest Holy Leaf, the “well-beloved” sister of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the “Leaf that hath sprung” from the “Pre-existent Root,” the “fragrance” of Bahá’u’lláh’s “shining robe,” [was] elevated by Him [Bahá’u’lláh] to a “station such as none other woman hath surpassed,” and comparable in rank to those immortal heroines such as Sarah, Ásíyih, the Virgin Mary, Fátimih and Táhirih, each of whom has outshone every member of her sex in previous Dispensations.
Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By. Page 347.

Perhaps, and I am only reflecting, each member of His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh’s Holy Family, the Aġṣān (Branches), was an uncommonly created soul. The Greatest Holy Leaf and her Brother, the beloved Master, made the right choices. Bahá’u’lláh blessed the Greatest Holy Leaf as the highest ranked woman of the Bahá’í Dispensation. He sanctified His Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, as the perfect Man (al-Insān al-kāmil) of creation or servitude. Others, including the Master’s Own brother, violated the Covenant of the Promised One of all ages. Maybe they would have been better off not to have had those special capacities at all.

In contemplating the Master’s [‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] divine example we may well reflect that His life and deeds were not acted to a pattern of expediency, but were the inevitable and spontaneous expression of His inner self. We, likewise, shall act according to His example only as our inward spirits, growing and maturing through the disciplines of prayer and practice of the Teachings, become the wellsprings of all our attitudes and actions.
The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván Message, 1969 (126 Bahá’í Era).
Let them call to mind, fearlessly and determinedly, the example and conduct of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá while in their midst. Let them remember His courage, His genuine love, His informal and indiscriminating fellowship, His contempt for and impatience of criticism, tempered by His tact and wisdom. Let them revive and perpetuate the memory of those unforgettable and historic episodes and occasions on which He so strikingly demonstrated His keen sense of justice, His spontaneous sympathy for the downtrodden, His ever-abiding sense of the oneness of the human race, His overflowing love for its members, and His displeasure with those who dared to flout His wishes, to deride His methods, to challenge His principles, or to nullify His acts.
Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice. Pages 34-35.
If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master [‘Abdu’l-Bahá]. Through Him you can address Bahá’u’lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation [the Prophet], and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element.
From a letter, dated January 31, 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í (Lights of Guidance, number 1493).

Return to the table of contents.

V. Dimensionality
The Multidimensionality and Interdimensionality of Nature.
Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday—the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight—the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her—the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet—and the black shadows of the forest behind—all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a green, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half dream, to the melancholy music of the song.
Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking-Glass: And what Alice Found There.” 1871. Page 110.

In my opinion, human souls and other creatures inhabit all the worlds, lifeworlds, universes, or dimensions of creation. However, the transterrestrial beings who are now regularly interacting with the inhabitants of the planet Earth are, I suspect, primarily interdimensional and extradimensional, not extraterrestrial. None of these dear souls are demonic. Needless to say, we are probably not sufficiently developed, spiritually, to adequately understand many, or even most, of them:

Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise.
Bahá’u’lláh, “Súriy-i-Vafá” (Tablet to Vafá), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 187-188.
One of the Bahá’í pilgrims from the West who asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá about the power exercised by evil souls who had passed to the next world, recorded His answer as “There is no power exercised over the people by those evil souls that have passed away. Good is stronger than evil and even when alive they had very little power. How much less have they after they are dead....”
Also, in a letter to an individual believer, written on behalf of the Guardian on 18th January 1951, it is stated: “You should not be afraid any one can affect your mind. Even when we want to catch the thoughts of those we love most we cannot do so, how much less can other people succeed in penetrating your minds.”
From a letter, dated August 30, 1984, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1735.

On the other hand, perhaps these interdimensional angels are, in some fashion, also assisted by, and working alongside, extraterrestrials:

... the parts of this infinite universe have their members and elements connected with one another, and influence one another spiritually and materially.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 245-246.

Similarly, according to retired U.S. Major Ed Dames:

I perceive them [the extradimensional beings] as nothing but good.... [They have an] outreach program .... They are actually interventions, not just observations.... “Good” is not an objective term [for them].... I support them.... I would support anything they’re doing. They’ve been around for a long time. Hyperintelligent. One of my philosophies is, “Go with the winning team.” ... They [the extradimensionals] work in consort with these very human types [of aliens], too.... They [the extradimensionals] are perfect shapeshifters. They can play you like a marionette, electronically or otherwise. All the abduction phenomena we’re aware of, and has been reported .... These guys are all responsible for that. They have an agenda.... There are no greys .... These entities I am talking about are barely visible to the camera. They can present themselves however they want to; and in this particular era, they present themselves as greys and reptilians.... They don’t kill. They are not like us.
U.S. Army Major Ed Dames (retired), “Remote Viewing Mars.” Coast to Coast AM. George Noory, host. October 16, 2012. Retrieved (transcribed) on October 17, 2012.
... they [the extradimensionals] know every single nuclear warhead – hidden, surreptitious, whatever – on this planet. They know where every single one is, and they can neutralize it in a heartbeat. There will never be on this planet – because it is not allowed by something out there – a nuclear slugfest.... For instance, they took the finger off the nuclear trigger. There would have been a nuclear war twice since 1955 alone.... These guys stopped it. These entities stopped it.
U.S. Army Major Ed Dames (retired), “Remote Viewing Mars.” Coast to Coast AM. George Noory, host. October 16, 2012. Retrieved (transcribed) on October 17, 2012.

The chalices of pure light, or psychic fields, of departed souls in the Supreme Concourse can also intecede for us:

O wayfarer in the path of God! Take thou thy portion of the ocean of His grace, and deprive not thyself of the things that lie hidden in its depths. Be thou of them that have partaken of its treasures. A dewdrop out of this ocean would, if shed upon all that are in the heavens and on the earth, suffice to enrich them with the bounty of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. With the hands of renunciation draw forth from its life-giving waters, and sprinkle therewith all created things, that they may be cleansed from all man-made limitations and may approach the mighty seat of God, this hallowed and resplendent Spot.
Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone. Let God be all-sufficient for thee. Commune intimately with His Spirit, and be thou of the thankful. Proclaim the Cause of thy Lord unto all who are in the heavens and on the earth. Should any man respond to thy call, lay bare before him the pearls of the wisdom of the Lord, thy God, which His Spirit hath sent down unto thee, and be thou of them that truly believe. And should any one reject thine offer, turn thou away from him, and put thy trust and confidence in the Lord, thy God, the Lord of all worlds.
By the righteousness of God! Whoso openeth his lips in this Day and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse on high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been foreordained in the realm of God’s Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.
There lay concealed within the Holy Veil, and prepared for the service of God, a company of His chosen ones who shall be manifested unto men, who shall aid His Cause, who shall be afraid of no one, though the entire human race rise up and war against them. These are the ones who, before the gaze of the dwellers on earth and the denizens of heaven, shall arise and, shouting aloud, acclaim the name of the Almighty, and summon the children of men to the path of God, the All-Glorious, the All-Praised. Walk thou in their way, and let no one dismay thee. Be of them whom the tumult of the world, however much it may agitate them in the path of their Creator, can never sadden, whose purpose the blame of the blamer will never defeat.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Pages 279-281.
On every daring adventurer in the service of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh the Concourse on high shall descend, “each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light.“
Shoghi Effendi quoting Bahá’u’lláh, Messages to America. Page 18.

In the Unicentric Paradigm, the world of nature, as a part of the cosmic envelope, consists of multidimensionality (ʾal-taʿaddud ʾal-Ꞌabaʿād) and extradimensionality (ʾal-Ꞌabaʿād ʾal-ḍāfiyyah). There are dimensions within and beyond other dimensions. Furthermore, some physicists, using many-worlds theory or one of the string theories (string theory, superstring theory, or m-theory), have theorized that there may be numerous physical dimensions:

Near approaches of UFOs can be hazardous to human beings. Do not stand under a UFO that is hovering at low altitude. Do not touch or attempt to touch a UFO that has landed. In either case, the best thing to do is to get away from there very quickly and let the military take over. There is a possibility of radiation danger and there are known cases where persons have been burned by rays emanating from UFOs. Don't take chances with UFOs!...
Andrew [Collins] will appear at this year’s TAG conference in August talking about the LightQuest concept – the idea that UFOs are interdimensional energy forms that use the medium of plasma, the fourth state of matter, to interact with this world....
Different sources, Interdimensionality, Spacecraft, and Injury.

In certain places, I would speculate, these dimensions can meet or converge. Intermediate angels, with the ability to shapeshift into various forms, may, along with other extradimensional entities, inhabit or even move between dimensions. They are not demonic or evil, but we may not be ready to understand them. Portals between dimensions may form, as with the well-known phenomena associated with the Bermuda triangle. The result may be an unusual form of contact emancipation with angelic beings from outside of our own plane:

Bermuda Triangle

The following account from David Paulides, if it is accurate, might illustrate a use of hypnosis, interdimensionality and, along with them, neurological probing in the area of Mt. Shasta, CA. (Paulides speculated, instead, that it was a DNA sample.) It is described in this PDF file. Allegations that spacecraft have been sighted in the vacinity of Mt. Shasta could indicate that intermediate angels are protecting the area. The three-year-old boy, in this reported case, was allegedly missing for five hours. Please note that Paulides is a very careful field researcher, and he has not openly speculated on any of the cases he has studied:

Perhaps interdimensional portals are created through dreams, hypnosis, and fugue states:

He [“John Doe”] was ... with his family. It happened on October 1st, 2010. About 6:30 P.M, he disappeared.... This area of disappearance [Mt. Shasta, CA] has a very long history of strange things. I mean, people have said that there are people called Lemurians that live beneath Mt. Shasta. There’s been a history of Bigfoot sightings in this area. There’s been tons of UFOs flying around Shasta.... Well, this boy’s three-years old. He disappears from his parents. They immediately call the sheriff. A big search starts.... At about 11:30 at night, they find this boy sitting in the middle of a bush in the thicket.... So, finally, the next day, they get talking to him. And they say, well, “Explain what happened.” And he goes, “I really don’t know.... I just kind of disappeared.“
“Well, where were you [they asked]?” And he [John Doe] tells this story that he is taken into a cave, and he things it’s underground.... And he says that he’s with a woman that looks exactly like his grandma. And, originally, he thought it was his grandma. But then he said that, in the cave, there are a lot of other things that look like people, but they’re all robots, and they’re not moving. And he says that, after a while, he figures out that this woman isn’t really his grandma – even though she’s really nice to him and very polite. But he believes that she’s a robot, as well.... There was some light, or sparks, or unusual light coming from her head.... She was real nice until she started to get pushy, and she took out some sticky paper and layed it on the ground and told him that he had to poop on it. And he told her that he didn’t have to go. And she got mad.... He [John Doe] saw a lot of small guns [captured from others?] and things around the outside perimeter of the cave. And they all had a lot of dust on them....
He [John Doe] tells the story to the [real] grandmother. Well, the grandmother then told us that, three weeks before the boy disappeared, the grandmother and her husband were at that exact creek [or] river spending the night. And they actually woke up in the middle of the night, because the grandmother felt a pain on the base of the neck. And she had her husband look, and there was a small bloody spot at the base of the neck. And she said, “You know, I don’t know if it’s related, but I just wanted to tell you I thought that was strange. I happened to be there at the point where he disappears, and he sees the [fake] grandmother, and I have a bloody spot on the neck. I don’t know what to think of it.“... That’s what we thought [namely, that the real grandmother had a DNA sample taken from her].
David Paulides, “Mysterious Disappearances.” Coast to Coast AM. George Knapp, interviewer. March 17, 2013. Retrieved (transcribed) on March 18, 2013.

As I see it, the natural world is much more complex and elaborate than any of us can now imagine. Some people may disappear into one or more of these other dimensions. Others may return dead or alive. Dimensional shifts, not fowl play, may be the cause. As the equilibrium of the world has become upset, disappearances may be increasing. (Listen to this short MP3 audio file from David Paulides.) For instance, what I found interesting about an MP4 video, which featured alleged killings by aliens, was toward the end. A small being reportedly hugged a man’s leg and said that no harm was intended. In effect, he apologized. If the story is true, it sounds like a horrible mistake.

Alan Lamers, a First Nations Canadian man who had been living in Indonesia, could be describing a similar instance of hypnotic illusion, including possible scenic images evoked from an individual’s memory. Notably, these angelic beings apparently protected the individual from the possibly “transdimensional” phenomena he may have encountered:

I started running across this story about 3 years ago when I went to a small village in the district of Sandu Batu in South Sulawesi [Indonesia]. I was told not to bring any clothing with yellow in it or any other bright colors to wear in the jungle. Only Black or White. Black was the most preferred. I had to ask why. They said that people who wear these bright colors will disappear....
One of my friends, who is a Bugis-Makassar, didn’t listen or understand the warning and wore yellow socks. We did our tour and returned. He was strangely quiet. That night he became extremely ill. I had never seen a person [with a] projectile [of] vomit that hard. He had an extreme fever also. We nursed him, and about a day later he returned to his healthy self. Then he told us what happened.
He said something had bitten him on his right leg’s calf and then his thigh. He showed us the marks. They were huge scratches. He said he could not see what was attacking him. He said he did not want to tell us what happened because he was embarrassed. The villagers stood around us with these knowing looks while we looked at the marks.
I asked them what it was. They did not want to say, but they said he was very lucky. Usually people disappear. I was stunned. It was not a taboo. It was a serious threat.
He [a person who actually disappeared in the same area] was severely emaciated but was still alive. He was also traumatized. He was also alone. The families of the missing men forced her and her family to continue searching for the four missing people. They have never been found. Not a trace. Not even a body. They just disappeared.
I found out he kept seeing what the Bugis call Jin [Ǧinn, hidden ones] Kurcaci. It means little demon people. These things do what is called “penculikan” or abduction. No one knows why they do this. But sometimes the people come back after a bit. The people or creatures who do this have a small nose and their eyes are small and black, but their mouths are very broad and when they smile it is very large compared to the rest of their face. He could not remember the color of their skin. I asked for a picture to be drawn. He managed a crude happy face with a nose consisting of a single line and a huge grimace [which he compared to the fictitious Cheshire Cat]. The boy was the only one who could see them out of the five. He kept seeing a lot of them, but when he would try to show the others, one of the four who disappeared could see them.
He also saw a strange animal he could not recognize. These animals are the size of a horse with huge antlers. He said he saw herds of them. He could not understand where they came from or why there were so many. They are not an animal indigenous to the area. There is no such known animal that big in Sulawesi.
Alan Lamers, Abduction Wave in Indonesia. May 28, 2010. Retrieved on March 20, 2013.

The possibly scattered remnants of one or more pre-homo sapien hominin beings may be interdimensional beings. They may be known by such names as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, and Almas:

Dr. Myra Shackley, a professor of archaeology at Leiscester University, is convinced that Bigfoot is a pre-hominid Neanderthal man, a predecessor of modern man, who supposedly was exterminated by Cro-Magnon man.
Bigfoot. Retrieved on March 27, 2012.
Intervention Theory suggests that Neanderthals are almas-kaptar type hominoids [bipedal primates], the man-sized ones that dominate in eastern Europe. This does not mean they never migrated to other places in the world. Man-sized hominoids can be found living on every continent except Antarctica....
The bottom line is this: If it can be shown that Neanderthals were hominoids, that means they were—and remain—descendants of creatures that lived and have endured since the Miocene [a geological epoch about 23- to 5-million years ago].
Lloyd Pye, Intervention Theory Essentials: A Basic Guide to the Intervention Theory of Origins—of the Universe, of Life, of Hominoids, and of Humans. Version 10.20. Panama City Beach, FL: Privately published. 2011.
1938 – The Yeti emerges as creatures of kindness and sympathy according to the story of Captain d’Auvergne, the curator of the Victoria Memorial near Chowringhee in Calcuta. The Captain claims that, injured while traveling on his own in the Himalayas and threatened with snow-blindness and exposure, he was saved from death by a 9-foot-tall creature resembling a pre-historic human which, after carrying him several miles to a cave, fed and nursed him until he was able to make his way back home.
Bigfoot – Yeti. Retrieved on May 31, 2012.

Why are Sasquatch and other unusual beings sometimes reported near human disappearances? I suspect that they are not abducting anyone. Rather, they simply inhabit the realms beyond the dimensional portals. Given the possibly interdimensional nature of these phenomena, angelic entities, including orb-like entities and spacecraft, have sometimes been reported around Sasquatch:

Sali [Sheppard-Wolford] writes about her years living in a remote place in Washington, with her young children, including Autumn, who was the youngest, staying at home with her mother during the day. Sali (and eventually the entire family) encounter Bigfoot, along with many other high strangeness events, including UFOs and orbs of light....
Impossible to know if these were the same kind of lights, or if the orbs in Sali Sheppard-Wolford’s book have anything to do with Bigfoot. It’s possible they do, it’s possible the area is full of energy that caused these things to occur....
... there are many members of the community that have dedicated their lives to studying the elusive creatures known as bigfoot. Through their day to day observations, many of them believe the creature to have almost mystical or magical powers. The seeming ability to disappear into thin air among the most prominent traits they observe, sometimes even disappearing in a flash of light.
Different sources, Bigfoot, Orbs, and Spacecraft. Retrieved on February 27, 2013.
... a young farmer, called Stephen Pulaski in the report given in FLYING SAUCER REVIEW, and at least fifteen other witnesses saw a bright red ball hovering over a field near them. Stephen grabbed a 30.06 rifle, and he and two ten-year old neighbor boys went to investigate it. Stephen’s auto headlights dimmed as he neared the object, and as the object descended towards the field, Stephen’s German Shepherd, back at the house, became very disturbed. The object was now bright white, and appeared to be about 100 feet in diameter. It was buzzing much like a lawnmower would.
They stood watching the object on the ground, and then the neighbor boys saw something walking along by the fence. Stephen thought it looked like two bears, and he fired a tracer bullet over the “bears” heads. The creatures were very tall, one 7 feet, the other over 8 feet tall. These measurements were easier than usual to get because the entities were silhouetted against the fence and so could be accurately judged. They were hairy and long-armed, with greenish-yellow eyes. They made a noise like a baby whining. A smell like “burning rubber” was present. Stephen, realizing that these creatures were not bears and that they were coming nearer to him, fired over the entities’ heads once more and, when they kept on coming, fired directly at the larger creature.
When the creature was hit, the glowing 150 ft. diameter object disappeared from the field, instantaneously, and the motor noise stopped. The two creatures turned around and walked back towards the woods. In the field where the object had been was a glowing area about 150 feet in diameter, which was gone by the next morning. While it was still there, a State Trooper who came to investigate the story went up to within 200 yards of it, then stopped, went back to call in the UFO researcher Stan Gordon. The Trooper felt that Stephen was so disturbed that it was better that he be watched—and Stephen wouldn’t go near the glowing area.
It was 2 a.m. when Stan Gordon’s Study Group team and Stephen and his father went back to the landing site. The animals were acting scared, and Stephen’s dog was tracking something which no one could see at the edge of the woods. Suddenly Stephen began rubbing his head and face and looking as though he were about to faint. Several people approached him, but he threw them off, growling like an animal and flailing his arms. His own dog ran towards him and Stephen attacked the dog. Two of the investigators also experienced some feelings of lightheartedness and difficulty in breathing at this point.
Stephen continued running around, growling and swinging his arms, and then collapsed in a manured area, face-down. He lay there for a time, then began to come to himself, and said, “Get away from me. It’s here. Get back.” Sulfur-like odor was noticed. Stephen and the group got away from the area, but Stephen kept mumbling that he would protect the group. He said he saw a man in a black hat and cloak, who told Stephen, “If Man doesn’t straighten up, the end is near.” The man also told Stephen, “There is a man here now, who can save the world.” Needless to say, the investigators present felt quite concerned about Stephen’s health, and it was here that Dr. Schwarz was called in. Dr. Schwarz’s subsequent psychiatric study of Stephen yielded results that he feels point clearly to the incident having occurred just as reported, for indeed it would be terrifying for a man such as Stephen, used to a very practical and realistic type of life, to shoot and hit an 8-foot antagonist which then was not harmed in any way. The numerous other witnesses to the various phases of the incident also bear out its having happened. Who was the man in black, and what do the predictions about Mankind really mean? That is a matter for interpretation. But that Stephen had the experience has been thoroughly documented.
Don Elkins With Carla Rueckert, Secrets Of The UFO. Louisville, KY: L/L Research. 1977. Pages 18-19.

David Paulides has researched both Sasquatch and mysterious disappearances. As with many phenomena involving the intermediate angels, Paulides has had several of his freedom-of-information requests refused.

Missing 411 is the first comprehensive book about people who have disappeared in the wilds of North America. It’s understood that people routinely get lost, some want to disappear but this story is about the unusual. Nobody has ever studied the archives for similarities, traits and geographical clusters of missing people, until now.
A tip from a national park ranger led to 3+ years and a 7000 hour investigative effort into understanding the stories behind people who have vanished. The book chronicles children, adults and the elderly who disappeared, sometimes in the presence of friends and relatives. As Search and Rescue personnel exhaust leads and places to search, relatives start to believe kidnappings and abductions have occurred. The belief by the relatives is not an isolated occurrence; it replicates itself time after time, case after case across North America.
The research depicts 28 clusters of missing people across the continent, something that has never been exposed and was a shocking find to researchers. Topography does play a part into the age of the victims and certain clusters have specific age and sex consistency that is baffling. This is not a phenomenon that has been occurring in just the last few decades, clusters of missing people have been identified as far back as the 1800’s.
The manuscript for the research was extremely large so the story was split between two books, Missing 411 Western United States and Canada and Missing 411 Eastern United States. The Eastern version will be released in late March and will include a list of all missing people in each edition and a concluding chapter that draws both books together for conclusions.
David Paulides, “Missing 411. North America Bigfoot Search.” Book description. 2011. Retrieved on March 20, 2013.
There, on a bed of grass, on the far side of the den is this big wolf; and laying between the opening and the other wolf was his [missing] daughter – alive. And the big wolf, at the back – he described it, ... made no attempt to get out. He [the father] grabbed his daughter. She was’t injured. And he said, To me, she looked like she was well nursed. He grabbed her, got her out, and they left..... It was a pretty well-covered story in the 1900s. And I’m not sure what to make of it....
There’s a similar story to this involving a bear in Montana. And a similar time frame. I think it was in the [19]20s or the [19]30s.... A girl disappears from a lumber camp where he dad was working. And the families were invited up for a weekend. The girl disappears. Big search. They end up finding her in this den across this big creek. And she tells this story that the bear came into camp, grabbed her, took her back to the den, kept her warm, and took care of her for one night, then heard people coming, and the bear took off. And the family said that one of the other kids inside the tent at the time saw this bear come into the tent, grab the girl, take off, and leave.... That was the story, and the girl stuck to it. Witnesses in the tent stuck to it....
Water in many instances is associated [with disappearances]. A person disappeared with a canine. Bloodhounds that are brought to the scene won’t track.... And then, as you look at the cases from a broader view, there are no tracks.... We have never worked cases like we’re seeing now.... Even the coroners, who have physical evidence in front of them, can’t determine the physical cause of death.... We have identified a strange set of circumstances where to people disappear – almost simultaneously sometimes. More times than not, they disappear from the same geographic location within a certain spread of time. There’s two boys in South Carolina that disappeared from the same town in about a twenty-one-year span under almost identical circumstances.... There’s also a set of two brothers that disappeared in Alaska years apart, under different circumstances altogether, in different cities, but both brothers disappeared and have never been found. One of the cases on one of those brothers, the fire chief was asked, What do you think happened to him?, because he was part of the search and rescue. He goes [responded], Best I can tell is that the UFO flew over and took him, and he’s gone. And the fire chief was 100% serious. He goes [said], I have no idea. He just vanished.
David Paulides, “Strange Disappearances in National Parks.” Mel Fabrigas, interviewer. Veritas Radio December 19, 2013. Retrieved on December 20, 2013.

In my opinion, we are all interdimensional beings. Certain advanced transterrestrial beings have, through the progressive Revelation of the Cosmic Envelope of Unity, learned how to maximize their interdimensionality. For instance, the shapeshifting contacters allegedly display certain apparently advanced cognitive abilities. Through hypnosis, sometimes experienced like a kind of telepathic communication, they might be masters of hypnotic illusion, misdirection, or perhaps even interdimensional transport:

The sheriff was getting a posse together to go out and hunt them [Bigfoot]. Well, these three different tribes [of Native Americans] got together and held a press conference and said, “Don’t go do this. These are people. These are people just like you and me. They may look different, but they think, they’re smart; we even trade with them at times; and they have certain abilities that you and I don’t have.... [T]hey have the ability to mimic sounds. They have the ability of certain types of hypnosis....” What every Native American group says is that these are people. They have their own tribe, their own group; they have their own trading scenarios, etc., etc.... [T]he Native Americans, of certain tribes, have said that they [Bigfoot] can sometimes speak to you in your mind.... I’ve also heard that they have the ability to sometimes scramble themselves invisible in some way.
Many of the Bigfoot sightings are happening in areas with high humidity. And, using an elephant for a second, they communicate by way of infrasound. And that is the vibration of sound at a certain level. Well, we talked to an acoustic expert and a physicist, and we asked them, “If you could scramble molecules of water to a point where they were moving so fast, could you blur an area in front of you – to the point where someone couldn’t tell what was behind that rapid movement of water molecules at small, small levels?” And the physicist hesitated, and he said, “Wow, I’ve never heard that before, but I guess it would be possible.“... My guess is that this is something we had, on a finer level, thousands of years ago, and, without us using it all the time, we tend to lose it. But it’s almost a sense that we don’t understand right now.
David Paulides, “Secrets of the Missing, Secrets of Bigfoot.” Unknown Country. Whitley Strieber, interviewer. April 12, 2012. Retrieved (transcribed) on March 20, 2013.

The presence of boulder fields, perhaps for hiding or misdirection, and water, possibly as either a method of hypnotic induction or an energy conductor, might play a part in the illusion or interdimensionality. As an Autist myself, I was also fascinated by the statement that many of the people who disappear are Autistic:

Many of the people that disappear – and I believe it’s an unusual amount per the amount of the missing – have a disability. And many of those people with the disability have a speech disability that’s in conjunction with that. So they can’t really explain what happened. And, many times, it appears to be an Autistic disability; but other times, it’s just age. A lot of the kids that disappear are so young that they can’t tell what happened. And, in the instances where they should be able to tell what happened, many times they say, “I can’t remember.“... Many of the times, it reminds me of the thought process that goes with someone who has been abducted. Initially, they don’t remember, but, under hypnosis, their recollection comes back to them....
... one [story] that comes to mind is a boy named Keith Parkins. He disappeared in 1952 from an area in Eastern Oregon .... Keith was two years old.... Keith disappeared, and people started looking for him. To make a long story short, nineteen hours after Keith disappeared – and twelve miles north, over three sets of mountains, countless fences – they found Keith laying in a dry creek bed unconscious. And he had a severe case of exposure. His clothes were ripped to shreds.... Why were these searchers out for twelve miles, when this kid has been missing for less than twenty-four hours? That makes no sense. It’s almost as though someone, somewhere knew something unusual to be out that far. There’s no way you should be more than two or three miles away in twenty-four hours – at the very maximum – with the kid under ten-years old in that kind of terrain....
There’s a case out of the northern Cascades [Western North America] where a mom and her son were picking berries in the middle of the woods.... As they’re picking the berries, the mom is, maybe, fifty or seventy-five feet [away] – it’s not in the line of sight of the son – but she hears a scream. The woman starts to run towards the direction of the scream, and the scream gets further away. And it’s a more muffled scream the second time. She runs faster, and barely a third scream, but the kid is never found....
Now, you fast-forward thirty years. There’s a boy that was in a camper ... in this same area – probably no more than 20 miles away from where the berry-picker disappeared. This boy was in the back of their camper with their cat and his younger sister. This boy, again, was sleeping, and the parents were just walking through the woods.... So, they kept the camper in view at all times. They wanted to make sure that they didn’t get too far away. And, this is October, 1973. His name was Jimmy Duffy. He was two-years old. And they walked behind this set of trees – just momentarily – and they hear a scream. And they run from behind the trees, and they see the camper door open. They run as fast as they can, and they get up to the back of the door, and they look inside. The daughter is still asleep, and the cat is still asleep. And Jimmy is gone.... [H]e’s never been found.... The parents took polygraphs, and they were completely exonerated. And, what’s unnerving about it is not only they lost a lot of time on the case, but, law enforecment, there’s no way they understand that this has been going on, right in that Wenatchee [in Washington State], Northern Cascades, area for sixty, seventy years under the exact scenario I just gave you....
You know, the one thing that we hit on a lot is that the places where these people disappear in the north, there’s many bodies of water nearby – for whatever that relationship meant.... In other areas of disappearances, and this is going to sound strange, but in high-elevation disappearances, ... boulder fields seem to play a predominant role when people disappear and are never found. And I can’t quite explain the boulder-field phenomenon – other than it exists....
David Paulides, “Too Many People are Missing: the Story BEHIND the Story!Dreamland on Unknown Country. Whitley Strieber, interviewer. April 12, 2012. Retrieved (transcribed) on March 20, 2013.
Using imagery techniques of something you find comforting or soothing, such as water (feel the water rushing over your feet and ankles, cleansing them of tension), can be [hypnotically] effective ....
Jack Herrick et al., How to Perform Self Hypnosis. Retrieved on March 21, 2013.
Water might well be the richest, most versatile, and most pragmatic of metaphors, images, symbols and actual mundane substances available to the hypnotherapist and this is prodigiously reflected in our language....
Hypnotists can integrate water into their practice in many different ways. Water offers a profusion of imagery and metaphors from which to make scripts which are as beautiful as they are effective. Washing one’s face and hands, showering, doing the dishes, and doing the laundry are some of the routine activities that lend themselves well to association with Post Hypnotic Suggestions. Sometimes water, in the form of tears, signals the hypnotist that the client has experienced whatever insight was needed to set herself free. And water, quite literally, is often the key to weight loss and increased energy.
Deborah Yaffee, “Just Add Water: The Importance of Water to Hypnosis.” Hypnosis.ORG. January, 2007. Retrieved on March 21, 2013.

In any event, the alleged ability of these beings to camouflage themselves, whether through hypnosis or natural environmental objects such as boulder fields, or to travel between dimensions might be combined with the ability to shapeshift:

On the fringes of bigfoot research, paranormal theories abound. Some witnesses believe they have documented trackways that simply stop, leading some to wonder if bigfoot may be “interdimensional” – whatever that means – or have the ability to “shapeshift” into another form. Some witnesses have indicated that bigfoot can “turn into” a rock or a stump or become invisible. It is unclear whether these reports are simply misidentifications of the creature’s ability to camouflage themselves in their surroundings and hold very still. Native American stories of “skinwalkers,” which were shape-shifters, have been attributed to Sasquatch.
What is Bigfoot – Shapeshifter?Oregon Bigfoot. 2012. Retrieved on March 21, 2013.

Other possible interdimensional entities, have also, allegedly, been sighted throughout the world. According to accounts, “black-eyed” children, teenagers, and adults repeatedly request permission to enter a person’s home. Without consent, they will eventually go away. Supposedly, some individuals who have admitted them in their homes have fallen ill – perhaps due to radiation exposure. If at least some of the reports are not hoaxed, black-eyed people might, I would speculate, be plasmatic poltergeists:

Black-Eyed People (sometimes called Black Eyed Children) are young people, often children, with eyes that are solid black and no differentiation between sclera, pupil, or iris. Those who report encounters with them often feel that the children were somehow supernatural and very dangerous. The first step to becoming a Black-Eyed Person is having brown eyes.
Often, the reports talk of a meeting with one or two unusually confident and eloquent children who attempt to talk the victim into letting them into their house to use a telephone, to be safe from something, or often try to talk someone into giving them a ride home. Often, people begin to agree to their requests, even though they will be vaguely unsettling, until it is realized that their eyes are completely black. As soon as they can tell, the children become very angry and insistent. Some people who have encountered black-eyed people feel that the children may have been using some form of low-level mind control to get them to comply.
Experiences involving the black-eyed people generally do not explain thecause of the children’s eye color or the origins of the children themselves. Some imply they could be ghosts or demons, specifically vampires: the encounters frequently emphasize that the children must be voluntarily admitted or invited into the house or car in question, and in this way are reminiscent of some vampire legends.
Black-Eyed People. Creepypasta Wiki. Retrieved on November 28, 2012.
At some point during the encounter, the children will raise their heads, or the homeowner will move forward to get a better look, and it's suddenly clear that the kids have solid black eyes. This is often the impetus to get quickly away from the children, retreating into the house and locking the door. The children vanish as quickly as they arrive and the victim is left trying to comprehend what they have encountered and feeling traumatized....
... There have been a number of people who have experienced strange electronic phenomena while reading The Black Eyed Children (David Weatherly’s book), or otherwise researching the subject....
Accounts of people who have invited the children inside are few and far between. One lengthy account is covered in detail in the book. It involves a woman whose own ten year old son invited a black eyed child in. The result was not pleasant for the family and led to an accident and a long illness. Fortunately, all parties recovered in this case and they are healthy to this day.
David Weatherly quoted in Jeffrey Pritchett, “Interview with David Weatherly on His Haunting Book The Black Eyed Children.” Denver, CO: The Anschutz Corporation. July 10, 2012. Retrieved on November 28, 2012.

According to Carlos X, black-eyed children are a test of human compassion:

Well, it is my belief, that those who are evil - do evil and make up excuses.   For example, they see a starving kid knocking on their front door, but refused to help them and then have the audacity to claim that the BEKs are evil, but there you go. Certainly, we can wonder who truly is evil in this vast universe of ours.
What is the difference between good and evil? I will give you this Biblical passage....
I believe they are a test for us. Like how will we respond to those in need when they cry out to us?
1) Slamming the door in their face.
2) Helping them by giving them {food, clothes, etc}
Truly the choice is ours.
Carlos X, BEK – Black Eyed Kids. Carlos X (publisher). 2013. Kindle edition.

In relation to the above, Carlos X quoted the following Biblical text from the Bible in Worldwide English:

The Son of Man will be great and will come with all his holy angels. Then he will sit on his throne like a king. All the nations will be gathered in front of him. He will put them in two groups like a man who takes care of sheep. He puts the sheep on one side of him and he puts the goats on the other side of him. The Son of Man will put people who are like the sheep at his right side. He will put people who are like the goats at his left side. Then the King will say to those who are at his right side, “Come! My Father has blessed you. The kingdom was made ready for you when the world was first made. Come into it now. I was hungry. You gave me food. I was thirsty. You gave me a drink. I was a stranger. You took me in. I needed clothes. You gave me clothes. I was sick. You came to visit me. I was in prison. You came to see me.”Then the good people will ask him, “Lord when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you a drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in? When did we see you needing clothes and give you clothes? When did we see you sick or in prison and come to see you?” The King will answer them, “I tell you the truth. What you did for even the smallest of these people you did for me. They are my brothers.” Then he will say to those at the left side “Go away from me. You are cursed. Go into the fire that burns for ever. That fire has been made ready for the devil and his angels. I was hungry. You did not give me food. I was thirsty. You did not give me a drink. I was a stranger. You did not take me in. I needed clothes. You did not give me any clothes. I was sick and in prison. You did not come to see me.” Then they will also ask, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or needing clothes, or sick, or in prison, and did not help you?” Then the King will answer them, “I tell you the truth. What you did not do for even the smallest of these, you did not do for me.” And they will go away to be punished for ever. But the good people will go away to live for ever.
Matthew 25:31-46. Bible in Worldwide English. Annie Cressman, editor, simplifier, or rewriter. Bangalore, India, and Willington, Derby, UK: SOON Educational Publications. 1969.

Another category of possible interdimensional or extradimensional beings is called “men in black.” Aside from fictionalization of these alleged entities, some people believe that they actually exist:

... the MIB phenomena dates back much further than most would think; it was not just a movie in the 90’s but was a widespread phenomena throughout the 60’ss and 70’ss. This was not, however, what I was referring to when I said that the idea dates back even further; I believe that the MIB have been visiting Earth for over 2000 years.
Chris Henry, The Men In Black Connection. Chris Henry (publisher). 2012. Kindle edition.
... that some of the Men in Black may originate from a point far in our very own future-such startling revelations provoke, and even demand major revisions to our scientific beliefs and teachings. That the past, present, and future may not be cast in stone, that all three might be in constant, dizzying states of flux, and that the MIB could be intimately involved in secretly protecting and manipulating countless time lines on a nearly infinite basis, is almost as weird as the black-suited visitors themselves!
Nick Redfern, The Real Men In Black: Evidence, Famous Cases, and True Stories of These Mysterious Men and their Connection to UFO Phenomen. Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books (The Career Press). 2011. Kindle edition.

However, Timothy Green Beckley has associated the men in black with poltergeists:

Kenneth Arnold himself seems to have been visited by these invisible entities: “At my home I have been visited by unseen entities whom I believe to be pilots of these weird disks. They were invisible to me and made no attempt to communicate. I was aware of their presence because I could see my rugs and furniture sink down under their weight as they walked about the room or sat on various objects.”
In many cases, these poltergeists are the forerunners of the Men in Black who frequently turn up anywhere from 24 to 48 hours after these invisible pranksters first show themselves. In some cases the silencers seem to bring about these occurrences which follow shortly after their visits.
Since the beginning in 1967 the activities of these MIB have been on the rise. Important investigators across the country have reported a weird series of events which include strange phone calls, visits by invisible beings and harassment by various persons claiming to be from the government. They have continually photographed the homes of persons having close encounters with UFOs and have disguised themselves as government officials, salesmen, poll takers and termite exterminators, in order to gain access to saucer information.
Timothy Green Beckley, Mystery of the Men in Black: The UFO Silencers. New Brunswick, NJ: Inner Light (Global Communications). 2012. Kindle edition.

This next account discusses an alleged female being, Zana, who unintentionally killed her first-born children. My understanding is that she was an African homo sapien woman (MP3 file), not a member of another species (or subspecies). The infants of her own hominin subspecies were, apparently, rugged enough to withstand her relatively harsh physical treatment. Subsequently, her newborn babies, according to the story, were taken away from her and survived. Although, as adults, they, reportedly, looked slightly different from most people, they were, in all other respects, ordinary people. Here are two summaries:

[Stan] Gooch cites ... the research of anthropologist Myra Shackley, who tantalisingly suggests that the legendary Almas (”wildmen“) of the Caucasus and Outer Mongolia may in fact represent relict Neanderthals. In one famous account a female Almas was captured in the nineteenth century. She was described as having skin of “a grayish-black colour, covered with reddish hair, longer on her head than elsewhere.... She had a large face with big cheek bones, muzzle-like prognathous jaw and large eyebrows, big white teeth and a ‘fierce expression’.” She sounds very much like a Neanderthal! First kept for some years in a stone enclosure, she later was kept in a cage, and finally in a house. She learned to obey simple orders and used branches and stones as tools. She became pregnant by her captors and while her first several infants died, she subsequently gave birth to two sons and two daughters who in turn produced children of their own via mating with other humans. This is all in line with Gooch’s hypotheses concerning Neanderthals. Note that the “primitive” state of the Almas may be because they are relict [remnant] populations who have degenerated from the Neanderthal prime of 50,000 or so years ago.
Oana R. Ghiocel, Stan Gooch & the Neanderthal Legacy.
We shall now consider reports about the Almas from the Caucasus region. According to testimony from villagers of Tkhina, on the Mokvi River, a female Almas was captured there during the nineteenth century, in the forests of Mt. Zaadan. For three years, she was kept imprisoned, but then became domesticated and was allowed to live in a house. She was called Zana. [Dr. Myra] Shackley ... stated: “Her skin was a greyish-black colour, covered with reddish hair, longer on her head than elsewhere. She was capable of inarticulate cries but never developed a language. She had a large face with big cheek bones, muzzle-like prognathous jaw and large eyebrows, big white teeth and a ‘fierce expression.’” Eventually Zana, through sexual relations with a villager, had children. Some of Zana’s grandchildren were seen by Boris Porshnev in 1964. In her account of Porshnev’s investigations, Shackley ... noted: “The grandchildren, Chalikoua and Taia, had darkish skin of rather negroid appearance, with very prominent chewing muscles and extra strong jaws.” Porshnev also interviewed villagers who as children had been present at Zana’s funeral in the 1880s.
Michael A. Cremo and Richard L. Thompson, Forbidden Archaeology. Badger, CA: Torchlight Publishing. 2010. Kindle edition.

Obviously, I am only speculating on transterrestrial servitude. However, later empirical research (MP4 video) by forensics researcher Melba S. Ketchum, D.V.M. (doctor of veterinary medicine), and her team, which was controversially self-published in a peer-reviewed journal acquired by Ketchum, has found that Sasquatch are a relatively new subspecies (from about 15,000 years ago), not surviving Neanderthals. The maternal DNA is homo sapien sapien, but the paternal DNA is novel. Ketchum’s findings, if corroborated, might allow for the possibility of genetic engineering by intermediate angels.

One hundred eleven samples of blood, tissue, hair, and other types of specimens were studied, characterized and hypothesized to be obtained from elusive hominins in North America commonly referred to as Sasquatch....
... The totality of the DNA evidence suggests the Sasquatch nuclear DNA is a mosaic comprising human DNA interspersed with sequence that is novel but primate in origin....
... All known ape and relic hominin species such as Neanderthal and Denisovan were excluded as being contributors to both the nuclear and mitochondrial sequences.
... Though preliminary analysis supports the hybridization hypothesis, alternatively, it could also be hypothesized that the Sasquatch are human in origin, having been isolated in closed breeding populations for thousands of years. Nevertheless, the data conclusively proves that the Sasquatch exist as an extant hominin and are a direct maternal descendent of modern humans.
M.S. Ketchum, P.W. Wojtkiewicz, A.B. Watts, D.W. Spence, A.K. Holzenburg, D.G. Toler, T.M. Prychitko, F. Zhang, S. Bollinger, R. Shoulders, and R. Smith, “Novel North American Hominins: Next Generation Sequencing of Three Whole Genomes and Associated Studies.” Self-published article. DeNovo Scientific Journal. Special Issue. 2013. Dr. Rayford Wallace, editor. DeNovo Scientific Publishing.
A team of scientists can verify that their 5-year long DNA study, currently under peer-review [subsequently rejected], confirms the existence of a novel hominin hybrid species, commonly called “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” living in North America. Researchers’ extensive DNA sequencing suggests that the legendary Sasquatch is a human relative that arose approximately 15,000 years ago as a hybrid cross of modern Homo sapiens with an unknown primate species.
The study was conducted by a team of experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology, led by Dr. Melba S. Ketchum of Nacogdoches, TX. In response to recent interest in the study, Dr. Ketchum can confirm that her team has sequenced 3 complete Sasquatch nuclear genomes and determined the species is a human hybrid:
“... Our data indicate that the North American Sasquatch is a hybrid species, the result of males of an unknown hominin species crossing with female Homo sapiens.
“... Genetic testing has already ruled out Homo neanderthalis [Neanderthals] ....
‥Genetically, the Sasquatch are a human hybrid with unambiguously modern human maternal ancestry. Government at all levels must recognize them as an indigenous people and immediately protect their human and Constitutional rights against those who would see in their physical and cultural differences a ‘license’ to hunt, trap, or kill them.”
‘Bigfoot’ DNA Sequenced In Upcoming Genetics Study Five-Year Genome Study At DNA Diagnostics Yields Evidence of Homo sapiens/Unknown Hominin Hybrid Species in North America.” Herndon, VA: PRWeb. November 24, 2012. Retrieved on November 26, 2012.
Alleged Bigfoot Alleged Bigfoot Alleged Bigfoot
alleged Sasquatch or yeti photographs

This photograph, from March 2, 2013, in Sarasota County, FL, is an alleged image of a Skunk Ape also known as Myakka Ape and Myakka Skunk Ape (a reported “cousin” of Bigfoot):

Skunk Ape
Sacred Geometry and Multidimensionality

The Kingdom of Names and Attributes (al-Malākūt al-Asmāʾ waʾl Ṣifāt) is, I feel, manifested by God through Prophethood. According to the divine Will, the Kingdom (Arabized Hebrew, al-Malākūt, the Angels) is expressed or, metaphorically, “stepped down” – like an electrical transformer which is used to reduce voltage – both within itself and within the four lower kingdoms (al-mawālid). A kingdom might incorporate various realities (al-ḥaqāʾiq), including one or more essences (al-dawāt), or unities  (al-waḥadāt), and particular beings and things. The unifying essences can then be known, relative to our own capacities, by their attributes (al-ṣifāt).

... Socrates the wise believed in the unity of God and the existence of the soul after death; as his opinion was contrary to that of the narrow-minded people of his time, that divine sage was poisoned by them. All divine philosophers and men of wisdom and understanding, when observing these endless beings, have considered that in this great and infinite universe all things end in the mineral kingdom, that the outcome of the mineral kingdom is the vegetable kingdom, the outcome of the vegetable kingdom is the animal kingdom and the outcome of the animal kingdom the world of man.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Pages 13-14.
... the states of beings are different. That which is in the lowest state of existence, like the mineral, has no right to complain, saying, “O God, why have You not given me the vegetable perfections?” In the same way, the plant has no right to complain that it has been deprived of the perfections of the animal world. Also it is not befitting for the animal to complain of the want of the human perfections. No, all these things are perfect in their own degree, and they must strive after the perfections of their own degree. The inferior beings, as we have said, have neither the right to, nor the fitness for, the states of the superior perfections. No, their progress must be in their own state.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 249.
... when certain elements combine, a vegetable existence is produced; when others combine, it is an animal; again others combine, and they produce different creatures. In this case, the existence of things is the consequence of their reality ....
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 292-293.

Each of the kingdoms may have one or more unknowable unifying essences with individualized attributes (appearances). The Unifying Essence of God, the divine Singular, and His diverse Attributes as Prophets, the divine Plural, may set the pattern of unity in diversity (unity manifested as diversity). When God manifests His Kingdom, the pattern is duplicated. Here are a couple of clear examples: The attributes, manifestations, emergences, or involutions (involvements) of the human unifying essence (the unity of humanity) are, as the rational faculty, individualized as human beings. Spiritual virtues, which are the attributes of the unity of revealed religions, can be observed in particular religions.

That human consciousness necessarily operates through an infinite diversity of individual minds and motivations detracts in no way from its essential unity. Indeed, it is precisely an inhering diversity that distinguishes unity from homogeneity or uniformity. What the peoples of the world are today experiencing, Bahá’u’lláh said, is their collective coming-of-age, and it is through this emerging maturity of the race that the principle of unity in diversity will find full expression.
Universal House of Justice, The Prosperity of Humankind. January 23, 1995. Page 4.

Morality asks, “What is good?,” not, “What is true?” Questions of goodness cannot be resolved empirically:

The courage, the resolution, the pure motive, the selfless love of one people for another—all the spiritual and moral qualities required for effecting this momentous step towards peace are focused on the will to act. And it is towards arousing the necessary volition that earnest consideration must be given to the reality of man, namely, his thought. To understand the relevance of this potent reality is also to appreciate the social necessity of actualizing its unique value through candid, dispassionate and cordial consultation, and of acting upon the results of this process.
The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace. October, 1985. Page 12.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, God bless His soul, compared evolution to fetal development. He did so, in my view, in order to discuss the acquisition of attributes, not to argue that the two processes are identical:

... let us suppose that there was a time when some animals, or even man, possessed some members which have now disappeared; this is not a sufficient proof of the change and evolution of the species. For man, from the beginning of the embryonic period till he reaches the degree of maturity, goes through different forms and appearances. His aspect, his form, his appearance and color change; he passes from one form to another, and from one appearance to another. Nevertheless, from the beginning of the embryonic period he is of the species of man—that is to say, an embryo of a man and not of an animal; but this is not at first apparent, but later it becomes visible and evident. For example, let us suppose that man once resembled the animal, and that now he has progressed and changed. Supposing this to be true, it is still not a proof of the change of species. No, as before mentioned, it is merely like the change and alteration of the embryo of man until it reaches the degree of reason and perfection.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 193.

Therefore, God, it appears to me, creates in symmetry and unity. Although I developed the Unicentric Paradigm after consulting various Bahá’í texts, if I were asked for supporting evidence, I would need to cross-reference several sources. However, late in the evening on December 19, 2011, a possible relationship between The Unicentric Paradigm and the sacred geometry of the Bahá’í or Badīʿ (new, unique, or wonderful) Calendar occurred to me during my daily meditations. First, to illustrate this unified patterning, here is a summary of the basic units in this divinely structured calendar:

  1. The largest unit of time, a Kulla Šayʾ (All Things), includes 361 years divided into 19 periods of 19 years.
  2. Each period is termed a wāḥid (unity or, in Persianized Arabic, vāḥid).
  3. Each of the 19 cycles of Kulla Šayʾ and each wāḥid in a particular Kulla Šayʾ is named after an Attribute of God or a Letter.
  4. The ʾabǧad or abjad (order), or numerical, value of the word, wāḥid, is 19.
  5. A year consists of 19 months of 19 days with the addition of 4 or 5 intercalary days (Ayyām-i Hā, Persianized Arabic for Days of H).
  6. The days of the month and the months themselves have the same Names of divine Attributes.
  7. Another list of Attributes is used for the (seven) days of the week.
And the One sitting on the throne said, Behold! I make all things new. And He says to me, Write, because these Words are faithful and true.
John, Revelation 21:5, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible (Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).

The following quotation contains a lot of conjecture, but its discussion of the neo-Pythagorean influences upon sacred geometry is interesting:

It was the secret knowledge of cosmic number and form that Pythagorus learned in the years he spent in Egypt....
During the years when Pythagorus lived (570-500 BC), Confucius, Lao Tzu, and the Buddha were also teaching esoteric knowledge, and their words were being written down .... So it was with Pythagorus and sacred geometry....
Pythagorus is reported to have said that “All things are numbers.” Taken in its full import, this means that the creation—all that may be perceived and understood—is number. That idea is usually understood in symbolic terms. Pythagorus, however, went beyond symbolism to absolute law.... Thus, number is the same as law.
Richard G. Geldard, The Traveler’s Key to Ancient Greece: A Guide to Sacred Places. Wheaton, IL. Quest Books. 2000. Page 68.

The Pythagorean musical harmony of the spheres has, it seems, gone back to the future. Although the harp-like vibrating strings of M-theory (an eleven-dimensional string theory) are believed by many physicists to produce the particles and fundamental forces (events) of nature, neither the strings nor the dimensions have been, or likely ever will be, observed in a laboratory. These two authors briefly summarize the string theories:

In the 1990’s the subject formerly known as “string theory” evolved into something else, which has now become known as “M-theory.” M-theory is a circle of ideas connecting strings, quantum gravity, unification of forces, duality, Kaluza-Klein theory, Yang-Mills theory, and supersymmetry. While the fundamental principles of M-theory are still unclear, our picture of the subject has evolved rapidly in recent years. M-theory has the distinction of being the only approach to quantum gravity which has succeeded both in tying itself firmly to our classical understanding of gravity (albeit in 10 or 11 dimensions) and in addressing non-perturbative quantum issues such as the entropy of black holes.... To some researchers M-theory is a candidate for a “theory of everything” which would underlie all of the structures in our universe.
Stephen Hawking, Strings and M-Theory.
Particle physics theories ... [include] string theory and M-theory .... While it has been suggested that ... the extra dimensions are “curled up” on the subatomic scale (possibly at the quark/string level of scale or below), not a single physical experiment has confirmed the existence of spatial dimensions beyond 3.
Michael Taylor, How many dimensions is your world?

This writer discusses the strings as a matrix of ether:

The ether is a lattice or matrix of ether strings which moves in bulk, and it has definite internal geometric structure comprised of criss-crossing strings that form the edges of repeating and nested tetrahedrons and octahedrons. The strings are in tension like piano strings ....
Glen W. Deen, Ether.” Astro-Revelation. Yahoo! Group. Aug 22, 1999. Retrieved on May 11, 2012.

String theory might also, by extension, be adapted within the social sciences:

In essence, is string theory a logical outcome of a globalized, networked society?
I, for one, believe it is only a matter of time before we start speaking in terms of “social string theory” (aka “the connections between us” aka “the ties that bind”).
Just extend the work of [Albert-László] Barabási [Center for Complex Network Research at Northeastern University] ....
Raphie Frank, “Updating Voltaire For The 21st Century, If string theory didn’t exist....” PsyForum Science: Physics and Technology Discussion Forums. February 1, 2008. Retrieved on January 18, 2012.

Speculatively, understanding the specific vibrational frequency rates (dimensions, resonances, waves, oscillations, harmonics, patterns, or music of the spheres) of the strings might, at some point, be practical in physics and engineering. For instance, gravitationally, any object, large or small, will fall at a constant rate of 32.2 feet (9.8 meters) per second2 in a vacuum. Should researchers be able to determine the rate of gravitational vibration, then antigravity, as a form of jet propulsion or heavy lifting, may be a matter of synchronizing, or unifying, with the dynamic frequency, or the attributes, of gravity and then redirecting or reversing it.

Formulating quantum field theories of each of the four fundamental forces was an obvious goal, and remains so to this day. Three of the forces – the strong, the weak and the electromagnetic – have been treated with great success; and have been combined to form a so-called standard model of fundamental forces. However, gravity has resisted all attempts to fit it into the same kind of theoretical strait-jacket and seems to require very special treatment if it is to be treated as a quantum field theory at all. If it were not for the problem of gravity we would be able to say that the physicist’s current world-view is that the Universe consists of a set of mutually interacting quantum fields that fill the space-time described by special relativity. But it seems that this will not do.
A way forward may be indicated by the standard model itself. The standard model is actually something more than a description of three of the four fundamental forces: it is also to some extent a prototype for their union. Within the standard model, the electromagnetic and weak forces appear as a unified electroweak force. The exact meaning of unification in this context is too technical to go into here, but suffice it to say that, under unification, the quantum fields responsible for the weak and electromagnetic forces combine in a way that is slightly reminiscent of Einstein’s fusion of space and time to form space-time.
The success of electroweak unification has been one of the motivations for suggesting that all three of the forces that appear in the standard model might be unified within a grand unified theory, and that a further step of unification might also incorporate gravity, thus bringing all four fundamental forces within a single superunified theory. The form that such a superunified theory might take is far from clear. Would it involve quantum fields in a curved space-time, or would something altogether more radical be required?
Learning Space: Richard Feynman.” The Open University. Retrieved on April 24, 2012.

Transcending other properties or attributes – such as light, time, magnetism, and sound or words – could involve similar procedures to antigravity:

... Christ was like a clear mirror which was facing the Sun of Reality; and the perfections of the Sun of Reality—that is to say, its light and heat—were visible and apparent in this mirror. If we look into the mirror, we see the sun, and we say, “It is the sun.” Therefore, the Word and the Holy Spirit, which signify the perfections of God, are the divine appearance. This is the meaning of the verse in the Gospel which says: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God”; for the divine perfections are not different from the Essence of Oneness. The perfections of Christ are called the Word because all the beings are in the condition of letters, and one letter has not a complete meaning, while the perfections of Christ have the power of the word because a complete meaning can be inferred from a word. As the Reality of Christ was the manifestation of the divine perfections, therefore, it was like the word. Why? Because He is the sum of perfect meanings. This is why He is called the Word.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 206-207.
Hallowed be the Lord in Whose hand is the source of dominion. He createth whatsoever He willeth by His Word of command “Be,” and it is.
The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb. Page 133.
In the beginning was the Word [Greek, Logós], and the Word was with God [Koiné Greek, ϑeós or “theos”], and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
John 1:1-3, New Revised Standard Version.

Imaginatively, I would add that The Unicentric Paradigm might be meditatively visualized as a unified field, or field of unity, with nineteen-dimensional unities or essences. If this playful idea, or thought experiment, has any merit, one could then make a further speculation. The unities within unities within unities within unities in the Badīʿ Calendar, when mathematically expressed as 194, result in 130,321 or, as reduced ordinals (the digital root or repeated digital sum), 1+3+0+3+2+1=10 and 1+0=1. Perhaps, therefore, Kulla Šayʾ consists of 130,321 nineteen-dimensional enfolded unities and the individualizations, as beings and things, of their attributes or universes (collectively, the multiverse).

According to my personal interpretation of the calendar, as an ontology (or spiritual cosmology), all things are made from multilayered enfoldments or complexities of unknowable unifying essences with their knowable attributes. Reality can be explained, multidimensionally, as unities within unities within unities within unities. Beings and things, the individualized attributes (manifestations, involutions, or events) of unities, are wrapped up in each other. Furthermore, immediately before my alarm went off, on the morning of November 14, 2012, I had a dream in which, to my surprise, these unities were, one by one, shaped like tori, toroids, or doughnuts:

Toroid (Torus) with 19 Cells
Torus (Toroid) with 19-Dimensional Cells

Similarly, the flower of life features a grid of 19 interconnected or interlocking circles surrounded by a maṇḍala (Sanskrit and Pāḷi for circular, round, or circle):

The Flower of Life

God is 1. Symbolically, through reduced ordinals, 361 becomes 3+6+1=10, and 19 becomes 1+9=10. Then, 1+0=1 (unity). Both the letter (in Ayyām-i Hā) and Báb (Bāb, Gate) have ʾabǧad values of 5. Accordingly, the Most Exalted Báb is the Gate to all things, the Gate to the unities, and the Gate to God’s Names and Attributes:

The Báb made use of the numerical value of words to symbolize spiritual concepts. The Persian for “The Letters of the Living” is “urúf-i- ay”; there were 18 of these first disciples of the Báb and the numerical value of the word “Ḥáy” is 18. These 18 letters, together with the Báb Himself, constitute the first “Váḥid” of the Revelation. The word “Váḥid” has a numerical value of 19, and means “Unity.” It symbolizes the unity of God, and thus the number 19 itself symbolizes the unity of God, and it was used by the Báb as the basis for His Calendar. One may also note the reference on “The Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” to 19 or 95 [19 times 5] mithqáls of gold or silver in connection with the laws of marriage and of Ḥuqúquʾlláh.
From a letter, dated November 13, 1980, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1376.
In this station the truth of the unity of God and of the signs of His sanctity is established....
If thou be of the inmates of this city within the ocean of divine unity, thou wilt view all the Prophets and Messengers of God as one soul and one body, as one light and one spirit .... Through them are manifested ... the tokens of oneness in the essences of all beings.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries. Pages 31 and 33.
Finally, when the Trumpet is sounded. That will be—that Day—a Day of Distress—Far from easy for those without Faith.... Soon will I visit him with a mount of calamities!... Soon will I cast him into Hellfire!... Over it are Nineteen. And we have set none but angels or guardians of the Fire; and we have fixed their number only as a trial for Unbelievers,—in order that the People of the Book may arrive at certainty, and the Believers may increase in Faith,—and that no doubts may be left for the People of the Book and the Believers, and that those in whose hearts is a disease and the Unbelievers may say, “What does Allāh intend by this?” Thus doth leave to stray whom He pleaseth, and guide whom He pleaseth: and none can know the forces of thy Lord, except He, and this is no other than a Reminder to Mankind.
Muḥammad, Qurʾân 74:8-10, 17, 26, 30-31. A. Yusuf Ali’s Translation.

In my humble opinion, the Twin Manifestations of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb are symbolized by the incorporation of “hā” (há), for the Báb, into the Greatest Name of God (al-Ism al-Aʿẓam Allāh), Bahá:

Shoghi Effendi reminds us that this historic mission, described by him as “the birthright of the North American Bahá’í Community,” is rooted in the words of the Twin Manifestations of God to humanity’s age of maturity. It appeared first in the words of the Báb, who called on the “peoples of the West” to “issue forth from your cities,” to “aid God ere the Day when the Lord of mercy shall come down unto you in the shadow of the clouds ...,” and to become “as true brethren in the one and indivisible religion of God, free from distinction, ... so that ye find yourselves reflected in them, and they in you”. In His summons to the “Rulers of America and the Presidents of the Republics therein”, Bahá’u’lláh Himself delivered a mandate that has no parallel in any of His other addresses to world leaders: “Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the All-Wise.” It was Bahá’u’lláh, too, who enunciated one of the most profound truths about the process by which civilization has evolved: “In the East the light of His Revelation hath broken; in the West have appeared the signs of His dominion. Ponder this in your hearts, O people....”
Prepared under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice, Century of Light. Pages 36-37.

The embedded and stratified dimensions, frequency rates, or patterns might, I suggest, be conceptualized as the attributes of unities (unifying essences) or, metaphorically, as the attributes of existential strings:

  1. Attributes of the Kulla Šayʾ Cycle:
    • A, B, Father, D, Gate, V, Eternity, Generosity, Splendor, Love, Delightful, Answer, Single, Bountiful, Affection, Beginning, Luminous, Most Luminous, Unity
  2. Attributes of the Wāḥid Cycle (same as above):
    • A, B, Father, D, Gate, V, Eternity, Generosity, Splendor, Love, Delightful, Answer, Single, Bountiful, Affection, Beginning, Luminous, Most Luminous, Unity
  3. Attributes of the Monthly Cycle:
    • Splendor, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light, Mercy, Words, Perfection, Names, Will, Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions, Honor, Sovereignty, Dominion, Loftiness
  4. Attributes of the Nineteen-Day Cycle (same as above):
    • Splendor, Glory, Beauty, Grandeur, Light, Mercy, Words, Perfection, Names, Will, Knowledge, Power, Speech, Questions, Honor, Sovereignty, Dominion, Loftiness

The attributes of existence are provided in the TaNaḤ or Old Testament. Symbolically, the first six days of the week may be the six Days of creation or the Prophetic Cycle. The seventh Day on which God rests (Hebrew, Šabbāṯ or Sabbath, rest) might represent the Dispensation of His Sacred Presence Bahá’u’lláh and the 500,000-year Cycle of Fulfilment. The Blessed Báb could, in addition to His other designations, be the Gate to the Day of God (the seventh Day of Ǧalāl or Jalál, Glory) or the promised Millennium. God’s process of creation, relative to the great cycle which began with ʾĀdām, was completed.

Humanity had been prepared for the arrival of the Father (al-Ab):

“He it is,” referring to Himself [Bahá’u’lláh] ..., “Who in the Old Testament hath been named Jehovah, Who in the Gospel hath been designated as the Spirit of Truth ....”
“... The Father hath come.... Verily the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth.” “The Comforter Whose advent all the scriptures have promised is now come ....”
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 104.

I have drawn upon numerous sources in formulating The Unicentric Paradigm. Throughout the Bahá’í Sacred Texts, a divinely revealed ontology (beingness or existence) is, in my opinion, relatively presented. It can be detected, in diverse contexts, from a variety of angles, perspectives, or, using an academic term, standpoint epistemologies (ways of knowing). These include, among others, the five kingdoms (divine, human, animal, vegetable, and mineral), the three conditions of existence (God, the Prophets, and creation), and the four worlds:

  1. al-Lahūt is Divinity.
  2. al-Ǧabarūt (al-Jabarút) is Omnipotence.
  3. al-Malākūt is the Kingdom, the Angels or Messengers (literally), or Angelhood (more loosely).
  4. al-Nāsūt is Humanity.
Secrets are many, but strangers are myriad. Volumes will not suffice to hold the mystery of the Beloved One, nor can it be exhausted in these pages, although it be no more than a word, no more than a sign. “Knowledge is a single point [unity?], but the ignorant have multiplied it.” [Muḥammad, Qurʾán 83:28.]
On this same basis, ponder likewise the differences among the worlds. Although the divine worlds be never ending, yet some refer to them as four: The world of time (zamán), which is the one that hath both a beginning and an end; the world of duration (dahr), which hath a beginning, but whose end is not revealed; the world of perpetuity (sarmad), whose beginning is not to be seen but which is known to have an end; and the world of eternity (azal), neither a beginning nor an end of which is visible. Although there are many differing statements as to these points, to recount them in detail would result in weariness. Thus, some have said that the world of perpetuity hath neither beginning nor end, and have named the world of eternity as the invisible, impregnable Empyrean. Others have called these the worlds of the Heavenly Court (Lahút), of the Empyrean Heaven (Jabarút), of the Kingdom of the Angels (al-Malākút), and of the mortal world (Násút).
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys,” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Pages 10-11.
In his [the seeker’s] journey he seeth all differences return to a single word and all allusions culminate in a single point.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries. Page 39.
... Standpoint Epistemology is about situated knowledge systems that are intimately related to the person’s experience in question. The person’s context – their race, class, gender, etc. – provides a base that guides some of their worldview.
Standpoint Epistemologies (Lyles).” conceptsinSTS. 2013. Retrieved on March 31, 2013.

Following another pattern, dimension, or frequency, certain affinites between beings and things may be divinely ordained. To my understanding, these relationships conform to an order not unlike the progressive Revelation of God’s Prophets. For instance, the Prophets, while particular Entities, universally manifest the Holy Spirit or divine Attributes. They occupy the Stations of both Unity and Distinction. Similarly, rational attributes return to this world, time and time again, as different human beings. Perhaps their spiritual connections with one another, sometimes as guardian angels, appear in the thoughts of certain individuals as reincarnation.

There is, it seems to me, a reincarnation or return of spirit or attributes and mission, which may sometimes be remembered through a chain of lifetimes, not of individualized spirit or soul. In my opinion, the spirit is repeatedly reincarnated. The personal soul, however, moves on:

... the outward is the expression of the inward; the earth is the mirror of the Kingdom; the material world corresponds to the spiritual world. Now observe that in the sensible world appearances are not repeated, for no being in any respect is identical with, nor the same as, another being. The sign of singleness is visible and apparent in all things. If all the granaries of the world were full of grain, you would not find two grains absolutely alike, the same and identical without any distinction. It is certain that there will be differences and distinctions between them.... As the repetition of the same appearance is impossible and interdicted for each of the material beings, so for spiritual beings also, a return to the same condition, whether in the arc of descent or in the arc of ascent, is interdicted and impossible, for the material corresponds to the spiritual.
Nevertheless, the return of material beings with regard to species is evident; so the trees which during former years brought forth leaves, blossoms and fruits in the coming years will bring forth exactly the same leaves, blossoms and fruits. This is called the repetition of species....
In the Divine Scriptures and Holy Books “return” is spoken of, but the ignorant have not understood the meaning, and those who believed in reincarnation have made conjectures on the subject. For what the divine Prophets meant by “return” is not the return of the essence, but that of the qualities; it is not the return of the Manifestation, but that of the perfections. In the Gospel it says that John, the son of Zacharias, is Elias. These words do not mean the return of the rational soul and personality of Elias in the body of John, but rather that the perfections and qualities of Elias were manifested and appeared in John.
... The “return” which is mentioned in the Divine Scriptures is this: it is fully explained by the Supreme Pen [Bahá’u’lláh] in the Kitáb-i-Íqán. Refer to it, so that you may be informed of the truth of the divine mysteries.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 123-124 and 126.
Strive ... to comprehend the meaning of “return” which hath been so explicitly revealed in the Qurʾán itself, and which none hath as yet understood. What sayest thou? If thou sayest that Muḥammad was the “return” of the Prophets of old, as is witnessed by this verse, His Companions must likewise be the “return” of the bygone Companions, even as the “return” of the former people is clearly attested by the text of the above-mentioned verses.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Page 47.

The microcosm, whether the drop or the atom, might contain the macrocosm as, respectively, the ocean or the sun (solar system):

In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.
Split the atom’s heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun. [Persian mystic poem]
Persian mystic poem quoted by Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 12.

Some people might argue that this sort of material is too confusing for the web. These discussions should instead take place in an interpersonal setting, which would allow considerable time for questions. Although I can understand these concerns, my own heart tells me otherwise. Honestly, if I can understand the concepts in the book, even to a limited degree, almost anyone can. They are certainly not, in many cases, original. Under the loving care of my spiritual mother, Elizabeth Thomas, I deepened or reflected on similar materials. Through that process, in my early teens, I became attracted to God’s Attributes shining within the Best Beloved.

Still, certain feelings and reflections expressed in this book initially took me by surprise. For me, that is a bit unusual. My long-time friends know that I have, fairly regularly, overhauled my worldviews. Since I was a child, I felt the need to have, and give names to, perspectives on the issues important to me, but I rarely cared about which ones. Because parts of the book will be unconventional, I have included numerous quotations from official Bahá’í as well as from other sources. Then, for clarity, I have sometimes repeated myself in several ways. Hopefully, this style will not become terribly annoying.

Return to the table of contents.

IX. Perennial & Divine Philosophies
Perennial Philosophies

During my personal reflections on the Unicentric Paradigm, I have tried to better understand the spirit of universalism. As I see it, universality has nothing to do with this popular illustration of a lack of focused and critical thinking: All paths lead to God. In my opinion, universalism is, fundamentally, another word for love. Perhaps after viewing universality in this manner, expectations of a literal sameness in the statements of, say, Jesus, Muḥammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh, peace be upon Them All, will, for the most part, vanish. Their love for us is expressed in an Ancient, an Eternal, Covenant. Their universality is that love.

To my own understanding, not only is Each of the Prophets God manifested, but the eternal Structure, or the spiritual Reality, which unifies Them together is the rational, yet unknowable, Essence of God. Gratefully, we can accept, and trust in, the limitless Authority, or legitimate Power, and the divine Grace of Each of these wonderful divine Beings throughout His Own Prophetic Age or Dispensation. As a result, we turn our hearts and our minds away from the imaginary idea that God, the essential Unity of existence, could ever be handcuffed to humanly contrived perennial philosophies.

This term, perennial philosophy (Latin, philosophia perennis, eternal or everlasting philosophy), refers to various perspectives – Christian (especially Roman Catholic), Hindū, New Age, and so forth – on an alleged universal truth, or a system of eternal and timeless verities, which has, some believe, reappeared throughout the ages. Agostino Steuco (1497-1548), or Steuchus  in Latin, coined the term in his most important work, De Perenni Philosophia  (1540). Ultimately, The Perennial Philosophy  (1945), a book written by Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), popularized the designation:

Philosophia Perennis [Perennial Philosophy] ... [is] the metaphysic that recognizes a divine reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man’s final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being—the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the perennial philosophy may be found among the traditionay lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions.
Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. 2009. Page vii.

There are numerous perennial philosophies, not just one. Many, but not all, of the perennial philosophies which I have personally studied are triumphalistic. That is to say, views which are similar to one’s own are regarded as superior over those of others. A triumphalist may refuse, perhaps even in principle, to respectfully consider another religion through the eyes of its members. Even if it means fitting square pegs into round holes, one may insist upon subjectively judging “the other” by one’s own spiritual or moral standards. A triumphalistic philosophy, as defined here, can only be superficially  universal.

While conveying enthusiasm about their beliefs, the friends [Bahá’ís] should guard against projecting an air of triumphalism, hardly appropriate among themselves, much less in other circumstances.
The Universal House of Justice, Riḍván 2010 letter.

For instance, one of the usual positions taken by perennial philosophers is that all the Teachers or Guides sent by God have taught the identical message. If you took the earliest disciples of Christ, Buddha, and similar Souls, and gathered them into a room, they would supposedly understand each other. The major issue I have had with perennialism, as it has sometimes been expressed, is a recurrent sameness. God willing, however, Prophets might reveal progressive and unique sets of divine Attributes. Therefore, attributes which appear, through faith, in believers might differ from one Dispensation to the next.

René Guénon (1886-1951), the founder of the esoteric (occult) Traditionalist School, and his followers have taken a rather novel approach to the concept of a perennial philosophy. They will frequently distinguish between authentic traditions, including Ṣūfism in Islām and the Ādvaita (Sanskrit, nondual) school of Vedānta (Sanskrit, culmination or, literally, end of knowledge) in Hindūism, and those which some of them consider to be spiritually inauthentic, such as the Theosophy (Greek, ϑéosophiā) of Helena “H.P.” Blavatsky (1831-1891) and the Fourth Way of George Gurdjieff (around 1877-1949).

A more personally engaged perennial philosophy was practiced by a dear, sweet soul named Lex Hixon (1941-1995). I sometimes listened to his radio interview program, “In the Spirit,” on listener-supported WBAI-FM in New York City. Shortly before his death, I also had the pleasure of briefly meeting him at a New York City Ṣūfī gathering. Lex, while continuing to explore various spiritual paths, co-founded the Nur Ashki Jerrahi (Nūr Aškī Ǧarrāhī) Ṣūfī Order, as Shaykh Nur (Šayh Nūr). However, he remained active in four other spiritual traditions, including Eastern Orthodoxy and Buddhism. My heart is strongly attracted to him.

Divine Philosophy

The perennial philosophies may be contrasted with the term, divine philosophy (al-ḥikmat al-ilāhīyah, literally, divine wisdom). It was, to my understanding, adopted and adapted by the dear Best Beloved, Bahá’u’lláh, as the recognition or awareness of the Unity. The Blessed Beauty, in the Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), appears to establish below that the Heart, the divine Source, or the Unity of the Greek philosophical tradition (or attributes), as He viewed it, was valid. According to the Lord, Bahá’u’lláh, all of the divine philosophers, despite their philosophical differences, were special souls who acknowledged the wisdom of the divine Unity:

... [Pythagorus] claimed to have heard the whispering sound of the heavens and to have attained the station of the angels....
... [Hippocrates] was one of the eminent philosophers who believed in God and acknowledged His sovereignty. After him came Socrates who was indeed wise, accomplished and righteous. He practised self-denial, repressed his appetites for selfish desires and turned away from material pleasures. He withdrew to the mountains where he dwelt in a cave. He dissuaded men from worshipping idols and taught them the way of God ....
... [Plato] acknowledged his belief in God and in His signs which pervade all that hath been and shall be. Then came Aristotle, the well-known man of knowledge.... These men who stand out as leaders of the people and are pre-eminent among them, one and all acknowledged their belief in the immortal Being Who holdeth in His grasp the reins of all sciences.
Bahá’u’lláh, Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Pages 145-147.

His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh was not, in my view, restating ancient philosophies as His Own Teachings. He was affirming the Sovereignty and Unity of the Prophets. He also celebrated the essential attributes of God’s unities or unifying essences which were acquired and displayed by certain philosophers. Using traditional stories from His Own Īrānian culture, as perfect parables, He paid tribute to their virtues or perfections. The beautiful eulogies which were delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and published in Memorials of the Faithful, feel similar to me. In the contemporary world, where souls commonly attack souls, this style of heartful testimonial might be a model for us.

Know verily that the purpose underlying all these symbolic terms and abstruse allusions, which emanate from the Revealers of God’s holy Cause, hath been to test and prove the peoples of the world; that thereby the earth of the pure and illuminated hearts may be known from the perishable and barren soil. From time immemorial such hath been the way of God amidst His creatures, and to this testify the records of the sacred books.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Page 49.
It is evident unto thee that the Birds of Heaven and Doves of Eternity speak a twofold language. One language, the outward language, is devoid of allusions, is unconcealed and unveiled; that it may be a guiding lamp and a beaconing light whereby wayfarers may attain the heights of holiness, and seekers may advance into the realm of eternal reunion.... The other language is veiled and concealed, so that whatever lieth hidden in the heart of the malevolent may be made manifest and their innermost being be disclosed.... In such utterances, the literal meaning, as generally understood by the people, is not what hath been intended.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Pages 254-255.

Similar ideas may have been expressed in these two Biblical texts:

The secret things belong  to Jehovah our God; and the things  revealed belong  to us and to our sons forever, that we may do all the Words of this Law.
Deuteronomy 29:29, Literal Translation of the Holy Bible  (Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).
I have spoken these things to you in parables, but the time is coming when I shall no more speak to you in parables, but I will show you plainly of the Father.
John 16:25, The Modern King James Version of the Holy Bible  (also Jay P. Green, Sr., translator).

Socrates (Ancient Greek, Sōkrátēs) – or his dialectical conceptualism, Plato (Ancient Greek, Plátōn)—or his idealist realism, Aristotle (Ancient Greek, Aristotélēs)—or his non-idealist realism, Pythagorus (Ancient Greek, Pyϑagóras)—or Pythagoreanism, Empedocles (Ancient Greek, Empedoklēs) – or his theory of cosmogenesis, and so forth may, in some unknown way, have been inspired by the Prophets. However, the Best Beloved was not, to my understanding, glossing over the “... the divergence of their views and minds” in order to further develop a perennial – or a universal and a syncretic – philosophy.

Instead, one of the main points here, in my opinion, is that divine  philosophy, according to His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, comes from the Prophets, not from Ancient Greek philosophers. Divine philosophers are defined as individuals who have recognized, or acquired the wisdom of, the Unity. In my humble opinion, this divine philosophy is the essential and moral, or virtuous, teaching of the Prophets. That is to say, it is the attributes of the unity of religions or the eternal Religion of God.

The sages aforetime acquired their knowledge from the Prophets, inasmuch as the latter were the Exponents of divine philosophy and the Revealers of heavenly mysteries....
Empedocles, who distinguished himself in philosophy, was a contemporary of David, while Pythagoras lived in the days of Solomon, son of David, and acquired Wisdom from the treasury of prophethood....
The essence and the fundamentals of philosophy have emanated from the Prophets. That the people differ concerning the inner meanings and mysteries thereof is to be attributed to the divergence of their views and minds.
Bahá’u’lláh, Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Pages 144-145.
It is ... a matter of record in numerous historical works that the philosophers of Greece such as Pythagoras, acquired the major part of their philosophy, both divine and material, from the disciples of Solomon. And Socrates after having eagerly journeyed to meet with some of Israel’s most illustrious scholars and divines, on his return to Greece established the concept of the oneness of God and the continuing life of the human soul after it has put off its elemental dust.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization. Page 77.

There is, at face value, a remarkable similarity between many of the explanations given by His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh and the dearest Master, on the one hand, and Aristotelian philosophy, on the other. This resemblance is not surprising when one considers the influence of Aristotle and Plato upon Islāmic philosophy and theology. The Renaissance, which revived Greek philosophy in Europe, is significantly indebted to the Arabs. Externally, any divine Revelation is presented within a particular cultural setting. As Jesus Christ taught in a Jewish vocabulary, the Bahá’í Sacred Texts are presented through a Muslim lexicon.

Although these Ancient Greek philosophies, which were later developed by various Muslim writers, became the language for much of the Bahá’í Revelation, taking then the leap of faith that, therefore, His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh’s and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s statements indicate an acceptance  of an Aristotelian perennial philosophy, appears, from my own reflections, to be an unjustifiable stretch. Perhaps the best argument against it would be obvious to almost anyone who has read the Biblical texts or the Qurʾân. In order to interpret most of those scriptures perennially, one must remove them from their historical contexts.

Back in the 1970s, I recall reading a booklet called, “Building Thought-Bridges.” The premise was quite common: When offering the Bahá’í Faith to an interested individual, one should try to relate the presentation to her interests. The method one uses should, ideally, be relevant to that person’s life experiences. In my opinion, the Aristotelian context which is found throughout the Bahá’í Teachings is a divinely formed thought-bridge. As with humanly designed thought-bridges, the objective is to teach others using well-known examples. The unfamiliar is carefully explained by analogy with the familiar.

Similar concepts of thought-bridges have been claimed for the Gospels. This quotation, while not from an academic source, provides a good summary:

When the Romans adopted Christianity, they blended the story with Mediterranean pagan elements like virgin birth, resurrection and solar symbolism this much is true. Pagan epithets of Isis were ascribed to the “Blessed Virgin Mary” (i.e. Star of the Sea, Patroness of Seafarers, Dome of Gold, Throne etc.) and Mediterranean god epithets transferred to Jesus (i.e. The Good Shepherd, Light of the World... both epithets of Mithras). The Romanization of Christianity is reflected in the movement of the Sabbath from the original Saturday to Sunday, the day of the Sun.
The Greatest Story Ever Copied. March 7, 2009.

With Plato, an essence (or a universal) is an unchanging form (Ancient Greek, eide) or an archetype. All humans are expressions of a single universal pattern. The essence of humanity would, therefore, eternally exist apart from each person. As a realist, Plato argued that essences were real. As an idealist, he believed that essences were spiritual, ideal, nonmaterial, or abstract forms. On the other hand, using the realism of Aristotle, humanity, like any other essence or universal, is literally contained within the substance (Ancient Greek, ousía) of each person. Unlike Plato, Aristotle did not separate an essence from particular beings or things. He rejected Plato’s idealism.

Perhaps one of the more significant aspects of the Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat is that it appears to justify a consistent application of Aristotelian, and sometimes Platonic (or Neoplatonic), terms, as interpreted by Muslim writers, within many of the Tablets of His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh and within the Tablets and talks of the beloved Master. Still, Each of these Beings was an Innovator, not a mere imitator of the past. They did not simply elaborate or expand upon previously held ideas. Revelations (al-Wuḥiyy), by definition, are new. The Light of divine knowledge is freshly cast upon that which was previously darkened or clouded.

Of course I might be wrong, I personally feel and see the Unicentric Paradigm in many of the Bahá’í Sacred Texts. I do not find that model, as discussed in this book, in the writings of any philosopher or theorist I have come across, including Plato and Aristotle. Of course, the four lower kingdoms, essences, forms, and other terms were used by Aristotle. Sometimes their definitions in certain Bahá’í scriptures are similar, too. However, the explanations provided by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, peace and blessings be upon Them, are, I think, original, not borrowed. Aristotelianism was a supernaturally devised frame of reference.

Plato, as a realist about ideal forms, believed that they actually existed. As an idealist about forms, he described them as spiritual or ideal. In Platonism, forms, as spiritual abstractions, are apart from their manifestations as particular entities. Rather than viewing God through the Primal Will, the emphasis, in Platonism, is placed upon the collective sources of outward appearances. However, Aristotle treated forms as the properties of an object. In a similar fashion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá may have regarded forms as degrees of perfection or as types of essential  attributes:

The Prophets ... believe that there is the world of God, the world of the Kingdom, and the world of Creation: three things. The first emanation from God is the bounty of the Kingdom, which emanates and is reflected in the reality of the creatures, like the light which emanates from the sun and is resplendent in creatures; and this bounty, which is the light, is reflected in infinite forms in the reality of all things, and specifies and individualizes itself according to the capacity, the worthiness and the intrinsic value of things....
Briefly, the superior reality does not descend nor abase itself to inferior states; then how could it be that the Universal Reality of God, which is freed from all descriptions and qualifications, notwithstanding Its absolute sanctity and purity, should resolve Itself into the forms of the realities of the creatures, which are the source of imperfections? This is a pure imagination which one cannot conceive.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 295-296.
... the embryo of man in the womb of the mother gradually grows and develops, and appears in different forms and conditions, until in the degree of perfect beauty it reaches maturity and appears in a perfect form with the utmost grace. And in the same way, the seed of this flower which you see was in the beginning an insignificant thing, and very small; and it grew and developed in the womb of the earth and, after appearing in various forms, came forth in this condition with perfect freshness and grace. In the same manner, it is evident that this terrestrial globe, having once found existence, grew and developed in the matrix of the universe, and came forth in different forms and conditions, until gradually it attained this present perfection, and became adorned with innumerable beings, and appeared as a finished organization.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 182-183.
Know that the order and the perfection of the whole universe require that existence should appear in numberless forms. For existing beings could not be embodied in only one degree, one station, one kind, one species and one class; undoubtedly, the difference of degrees and distinction of forms, and the variety of genus and species, are necessary—that is to say, the degree of mineral, vegetable, animal substances, and of man, are inevitable; for the world could not be arranged, adorned, organized and perfected with man alone. In the same way, with only animals, only plants or only minerals, this world could not show forth beautiful scenery, exact organization and exquisite adornment. Without doubt it is because of the varieties of degrees, stations, species and classes that existence becomes resplendent with utmost perfection.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 129.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, adapting or refitting the Ancient Greek concepts to a Bahá’í context, appears to present forms as types and degrees of perfection. He also distinguished emanation from manifestation. Emanation, it would seem, refers to a process of creation. Manifestation, on the other hand, is the appearance of individual beings and things from essences or unities. Therefore, as individual Prophets are Manifestations of the Essence or Unity of God, individual human beings are manifestations of the essence or unity of humanity.

All created entities are composed of the attributes of essences. These perfections then develop, according to the physical attribute of time or formation, through numerous forms or stages:

... the seed, which is a single thing possessing the vegetative perfections, which it manifests in infinite forms, resolving itself into branches, leaves, flowers and fruits: this is called appearance in manifestation; whereas in the appearance through emanation this Real Unity remains and continues in the exaltation of Its sanctity, but the existence of creatures emanates from It and is not manifested by It. It can be compared to the sun from which emanates the light which pours forth on all the creatures; but the sun remains in the exaltation of its sanctity. It does not descend, and it does not resolve itself into luminous forms; it does not appear in the substance of things through the specification and the individualization of things; the Preexistent does not become the phenomenal; independent wealth does not become enchained poverty; pure perfection does not become absolute imperfection.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 294-295.

To my understanding, as in Plato’s idealism, essences, in their many forms, are manifested, not incarnated, within beings and things. The Prophets provide the most obvious example. They are Manifestations, not incarnations, of God. Since essences are unknowable, an idealist metaphysics, which regards all of them as ideas or spirits, is unjustifiably speculative. Our methodologies or epistemologies (methods of knowing) for comprehending through feeling attributes (such as the physical attributes in spacetime) are relative to capacities and expectations.

Much of the Greek philosophical tradition, perhaps inspired by the divine philosophy or wisdom (ḥikmat) of the Prophets, acknowledged the existence of species (essences) and manifestations (forms). Through meditation or deepening, we discover the attributes of species, or unifying essences, by loving particular beings and things in their various forms, manifestations, or stages. Each one of these special entities has been divinely, and particularly, crafted out of attributes:

But the appearance through manifestation is the manifestation of the branches, leaves, blossoms and fruit from the seed; for the seed in its own essence becomes branches and fruits, and its reality enters into the branches, the leaves and fruits.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 203.

Prophets can, from one perspective, also be called Essences, since They are, in Their divine Nature, formed out of the Attributes of the highest Essence of Unity, God:

... these Essences of being are immensely exalted above such fanciful images, and are immeasurably glorified beyond all these vain sayings and above the comprehension of every understanding heart.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán. Page 183.
... the Manifestations [Prophets] have three planes. First, the physical reality, which depends upon the body; second, the individual reality, that is to say, the rational soul; third, the divine appearance, which is the divine perfections, the cause of the life of existence, of the education of souls, of the guidance of people, and of the enlightenment of the contingent world.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 154.

According to most modern historians, Empedocles lived around 450 B.C. On the other hand, the lifetime of King David (Hebrew, Dāwîd) is generally placed at around 1000 B.C. Without an authoritative interpretation, the statement below may be a mystery. Nevertheless, the Prophets are divine Beings, not classical historians. They are made up of the Attributes of the Unity or Essence of God. When They appear in this world, They reveal Their Attributes to all created beings and things. My own intuition is that the Best Beloved was referring to the shared attributes of these two men, not to the issue of chronology:

Empedocles, who distinguished himself in philosophy, was a contemporary of David, while Pythagoras lived in the days of Solomon, son of David, and acquired Wisdom from the treasury of prophethood....
Bahá’u’lláh, Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 145.
In the Divine Scriptures and Holy Books “return” is spoken of, but the ignorant have not understood the meaning, and those who believed in reincarnation have made conjectures on the subject. For what the divine Prophets meant by “return” is not the return of the essence, but that of the qualities ....
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 126.

Return to the table of contents.

X. Additional Philosophies
Nominalism and Agnosticism

I am a sociologist of religion and a social theorist, not a philosopher. My grasp of classical philosophy is very limited. Still, I am, as Bahá’í, interested in the ways in which His Sanctified Presence Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá adjusted and adapted Platonic and Aristotelian concepts, along with the interpretations made by certain Muslim writers, into a new divine Revelation. Although many issues which have caused confusion over the centuries have now been resolved, the correct interpretations of the texts of Aristotle and Plato, and even their basic viewpoints on certain issues, continue to be debated by philosophers.

As I have already suggested, many of the texts of the dear Best Beloved, Bahá’u’lláh, and of His Son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Master of servitude, make extensive use of Platonic and, perhaps more so, Aristotelian language. For example, these technical vocabularies run through nearly all of the “table talks” in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Some Answered Questions. If universals or essences are dependent upon God, and are not fixed substances, nominalism might be a pretty fair characterization or vision of our human experiences. In my opinion, however, that is not exactly what is generally being said.

The medieval philosophy of nominalism was an ingenious approach to resolving the problem of universals or essences. They are, for nominalists, reinterpreted as commonplace names or categories. A being or thing, like a human individual, is classified, designated, or named based upon its attributes or what is observed about it. There are no real or underlying essences of beings and things. The shared names which are used for them are simply linguistic conveniences.

Nominalism has been only partially successful, I believe, as an explanation for universals. For one thing, nominalism is counterintuitive. Bahá’ís and many others, will, in certain situations, experience  a unity which is apart from themselves as individuals. While attending worship services, feelings of interconnectedness may be stronger than when gathering with those same individuals at a ordinary social activity. Redefining essences as names might be a couple of steps above or below Platonism or Aristotelianism. Either way, nominalism, while an interesting guess, may be an inadequate description.

In my own view, the major problem with nominalism is the confusion of names and categories with essences. Each being or thing, which consists of attributes, can be named by Prophets or, after observing its attributes, by regular individuals. These names may be specific references (McDonald’s) or general categories (restaurants). Essences could, I suppose, also be categories of a sort, but they are not just  categories. The Unity of the Prophets, the unity of religions, and the unity of humanity are divinely willed  loving relationships. Human wills cannot, of course, create unities or essences.

To illustrate the point, if I make the claim that the divine Essence and other essences are nothing more than “names” or convenient categories, I am a nominalist. Should, however, I state that essences are unknowable to us, other than by their attributes, I am an agnostic, not  a nominalist. In a sense, because essences have been veiled from us, we must all be, when we are truly humble about it, agnostics. Thus, we avoid speculating on essences, not because they are only names, because they are unknowable. Indeed, the inevitable result of living in the human kingdom is an essentialistic agnosticism.

Thomas Henry Huxley was a passionate defender and popularizer of Darwinian evolution. He nicknamed himself, “Darwin’s bulldog,” and coined the term agnosticism :

Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle.... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.
Thomas Henry Huxley, Agnosticism. Page 18.

Generally speaking, by disposing of the idea of an innate interconnectednesss between the beings and things around us, nominalism makes the entire subject of essences appear to be irrelevant. However, essences, while they are unknowable, are not, in my opinion, speculative. If, as in this brief quotation, the divine Essence is described as a Reality, concluding that other essences are merely names violates, I think, the common nominalist principle of Ockham’s razor (parsimony or economy). That is to say, the simpler explanation would be abandoned for the one which is more complex.

... as things can only be known by their qualities and not by their essence, it is certain that the Divine Reality is unknown with regard to its essence and is known with regard to its attributes.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 220-221.

On the other hand, if, as nominalists contend, essences are only speculative, then we should treat them as nothing more than names. From this perspective, nominalism has sometimes been defined as anti-metaphysical. Because particular beings and things have no essential unity, nominalism also becomes particularism. Nevertheless, I would suggest that nominalists may have this subject backwards. When I feel or apprehend the unity of humanity and the unity of religions, I might be imagining things, but I am not intellectually speculating. Telling me that I do not have these experiences is, however, speculation.

Furthermore, to my understanding, the cautions regarding metaphysics, or speculative philosophy, have little to do with nominalism. In a Bahá’í context, metaphysics may, if practiced immoderately, become disunifying “hair-splittings” which “encumber the human mind.” Indeed, nominalists, by arguing that essences are only names, are, in effect, speculating upon the soundness of another person’s experiences. Making these extremely fine or judgmental distinctions between abstract concepts, especially when one’s words result in dissension, is wasteful and counterproductive:

This Day ... hath never been, nor is it now, the Day whereon man-made arts and sciences can be regarded as a true standard for men, since it hath been recognized that He Who was wholly unversed in any of them hath ascended the throne of purest gold, and occupied the seat of honor in the council of knowledge, whilst the acknowledged exponent and repository of these arts and sciences remained utterly deprived. By “arts and sciences” is meant those which begin with words and end with words. Such arts and sciences, however, as are productive of good results, and bring forth their fruit, and are conducive to the well-being and tranquility of men have been, and will remain, acceptable before God.
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Page 19.
Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one of the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into metaphysical hair-splittings is meant, not a sound branch of learning like philosophy.
From a letter, dated February 14, 1947, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.
What Bahá’u’lláh meant primarily with “sciences that begin and end in words” are those theological treatises and commentaries that encumber the human mind rather than help it to attain the truth. The students would devote their life to their study but still attain no where.
From a letter, dated November 30, 1932, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í.

Although nominalists have often argued that individuals cannot form mental images of essences, this statement, alone, has not usually been considered as sufficient to define nominalism. To a nominalist, essences are not only unimaginable. They are also only names. So, here is the problem: Western nominalism developed within Roman Catholicism, but God is not referred to as an unknowable Essence in the Roman Catholic Biblical texts. On the other hand, a common Bahá’í and Islāmic title for God is al-Ḥaqq  (the True or Real One). Defining God as an Essence, I feel, makes nominalism impossible.

From another standpoint, however, nominalism, by affirming the absolute freedom of God’s Will and the relativity of truth to it, fills an important gap in our understandings. Since, to nominalists, essences are just names, not realities, we accept only the unconditioned and unlimited Will of God. Indeed, the unknowability, and unobservability, of unifying essences makes nominalism an understandable, even an extremely reasonable, conclusion. Nevertheless, nominalism, like any other mortal explanation, including my own, is subject to the inevitable miscalculations and misinterpretations made by human beings.

In place of essences, some nominalists, beginning with William of Ockham, have emphasized the dependence of particular beings and things upon the Will of God. However, if essence is a metaphysical subject, why then is Will not a speculative affair? Just as I cannot use my five senses to observe the Will of God, I can also not see, hear, taste, smell, or touch unifying essences. To many atheists, any “God” is speculative by definition, as well. That is to say, what is speculative to one person may, through faith, appear to be little more than common sense to another. Referring to one belief or the other as speculative commits a logical fallacy of the double standard.


Distinct from nominalism, in objective metaphysical (or ontological) idealism, God’s Will is considered to be a constant. It is the product of a fixed and eternal system of ideal forms. Idealism is tautological or circular. It begs the question, “Conscious of what?” Inspired by the idealist approach, divine invocation, to some people, becomes “mental magic” or, in New Thought, “scientific prayer,” not crying out for the assistance of an actual Being:

Scientific prayer is the appropriation of the beneficial conditions of the spiritual realm and the willingness to work intelligently with a Father whose eternal will is for man’s perfection through knowledge and truth....
... Prayer is the purposeful, direct action of the mind, and the result is in proportion to the faith we put into it....
... Prayer is an exact and demonstrable science. We learn to pray as we learn to be electricians, aviators, or musicians.
Albert C. Grier and Agnes M. Lawson, Truth and Life. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company. 1921. Pages 95-97.
The chief doctrinal difference between Christian Science and New Thought is about the status of matter. New Thought embraces traditional Western idealism, which maintains that although matter is not real in the sense of having existence apart from mind, it is real in the sense of being an appearance of mind or spirit. Christian Science maintains that matter is a mere illusion.
Alan Anderson, “History of New Thought.” The Association for Global New Thought. Santa Barbara, CA. September 3, 1993. Retrieved on March 30, 2012.
I might add that he [Shoghi Effendi] does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, is going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Bahá’u’lláh’s system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!...
From a letter, dated June 6, 1948, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1416.

The terms, realism and idealism, have had numerous, sometimes even contradictory, definitions over the centuries. A person might be a realist on one issue and an idealist on another. However, as pointed out by my friend, Ian Kluge, on his Bahá’í Philosophy Studies website:

... Aristotle and the Bahá’í Writings differ on the issue of where and how the original essences or forms reside, an issue on which the Writings take a decidedly Platonic turn. However, it must be noted that Aristotle’s view is not entirely excluded, since the Writings tell us that the Names of God are reflected in every created thing, and so, in that sense, formally or virtually present in every particular.
Ian Kluge, “The Aristotelian Substratum of the Bahá’í Writings.” Presented at the ʿIrfán Colloquium. London: July, 2001. Bahá’í Philosophy Studies. Retrieved on May 8, 2012.

Modern integralism  refers to several versions, or revisions, of the idealist perennial philosophies which were discussed earlier. Like believers in New Thought metaphysics, integralists are objective idealists. That is to say, there is  an objective world, but it results from an awareness, sometimes a divine awareness, or a universal mind and a cosmic consciousness. Integralism emphasizes holism or synthesis over reductionism or analysis. One of the first writers to develop integralism, Śrī Aurobindo (Bengali, Ōrobindo, lotus), described his approach as an integral yoga:

A radical and total change of consciousness is not only the whole meaning but, in an increasing force and by progressive stages, the whole method of the integral Yoga.
Śrī Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga. Page 187.

The integralism of Pitirim A. Sorokin, who founded Harvard University’s sociology department, was more explicit:

My ontology [view of being or existence] represents a mere variation of the ancient, powerful and perennial stream of philosophical thought represented by Taoism, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita, brilliantly analyzed by the Hindu and Mahayana Buddhist logicians ... shared by all branches of Buddhism ... and reiterated by the great Muslim thinkers and poets.... In the Greco-Roman world this philosophy was developed by Heraclitus and Plato ... [and] it was partly supported by Aristotle, and with variations it was reiterated by Plotinus, Porphyry, and the thinkers of the Neo-Platonic, the Hermetic, the Orphic, and other currents of thought. In Christianity it was expressed by many Church Fathers, like Clement of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Origen, St. Augustine, Pseudo-Dyonysius, Maximus Confessor, John Scotus Erigena, St. John of Damascus, and later on by Hugh of St. Victor, St. Thomas Aquinas.... Nicolas of Cusa, and by many Christian mystics.
Pitirim A. Sorokin, “A Reply to My Critics.” Pitirim A. Sorokin in Review. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 1963. Pages 373-374.
... I precisely formulate conclusions: the connection between the main types of cultural mentality and the character of overt actions of the participants of such a culture is loose, but tangible. In the predominantly Ideational [reality as spiritual] culture the frequency of the ideational type of men and ideational actions and forms of conduct is greater, and their ideational intensity is manifested more conspicuously than in a Sensate [reality as material] dominant culture. And the converse likewise holds true for the Sensate culture.
Pitirim A. Sorokin, “Histrionics,” The Southern Review. Winter, 1938. Page 523.

Although Sorokin was able to popularize integralism, to a degree, he may have been a couple of decades ahead of his time. Ken Wilber, a contemporary American philosopher, has been considerably more successful. Originally, Wilber was associated with the “transpersonal movement.” He broke away to found his own “Integral Theory.” Currently, he is the most influential figure in the integralist movement:

What if we took literally everything that all the various cultures have to tell us about human potential—about spiritual growth, psychological growth, social growth—and put it all on the table? What if we attempted to find the critically essential keys to human growth, based on the sum total of human knowledge now open to us? What if we attempted, based on extensive cross-cultural study, to use all of the world’s great traditions to create a composite map, a comprehensive map, an all-inclusive or integral map that included the best elements from all of them?
Sound complicated, complex, daunting? In a sense, it is. But in another sense, the results turn out to be surprisingly simple and elegant....
Welcome to the Integral Approach.
Ken Wilber, Integral Spirituality: A Startling New Role for Religion in the Modern and Postmodern World. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. 2006. Pages 6-7.
When critics identity me with the perennial philosophy, they fail to notice that the only item of the perennial philosophy that I have actually defended is the notion of realms of being and knowing, and then I only staunchly defend three of them: matter, mind, and spirit (or gross, subtle, and causal)....
Although I have been a harsh critic of the perennial philosophy, I still believe that, especially in its most sophisticated forms, it is a fountain of unsurpassed wisdom, even if we have to dust it off a bit.
Ken Wilber, A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science and Spirituality  Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. 2000. Page 158.
... [The] fundamental shift in the sense or form of the perennial philosophy—as represented in, say, Aurobindo, Hegel, Adi Da, Schelling, Teilhard de Chardin, RadhaKrishnan, to name a few—I should like to call the “neoperennial philosophy.” And it is the neoperennial philosophy—not “old wisdom”—that our present culture so desperately needs....
... In short, the form of Ancient Wisdom can no longer be ancient. The neoperennial philosophy, with its adaptability to modern needs and desires, is and must be God’s witness to the new and rising wisdom culture.
Ken Wilber, The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications. 2001. Pages 57-58.

The Chicago school of symbolic interactionism  combined an objective idealism with European process philosophy and American pragmatism. According to the symbolic interactionists, meanings or definitions of objects are acquired through our relationships with others. Charles Horton Cooley, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, significantly influenced the development of this sociological perspective. In Cooley’s objective idealism, society exists in the minds of all its members. His sociology became a true social psychology by expanding human consciousness to include collective experiences:

Mind is an organic whole made up of coöperating individuals, in somewhat the same way that the music of an orchestra is made up of divergent or related sounds.... When we study the social mind we merely fix our attention on larger and larger aspects of relations rather than on the narrower ones of ordinary psychology.
Charles Horton Cooley, Social Organization: A Study of the Larger Mind. Page 3.

Symbolic interactionism is, in many respects, an excellent idealist social theory. Indeed, languages and other symbols (definitions, meanings, or interpretations) explain some dimensions of behavior quite well. Nevertheless, when considering the acquisition of signs, attributes, representations, or manifestations by an individual, symbolic, or idealistic, explanations are less useful. The extent to which mental symbols become embedded, or integrated, within the signs or, perhaps, are of a different nature might be a valuable topic to explore in certain cases, but it has little to do with the Unicentric Paradigm.

In addition, some forms of metaphysical idealism elevate gnōsis (Ancient Greek, knowledge) over love. One is then easy prey for the dangers of gnōstic self-delusion. Clearly, mesmerism is not limited to stage performances. As advertising executives know, human beings are highly suggestible and easily manipulated. In seconds, an individual’s self-hypnotized imagination can persuade her of the truth of practically any idea. These days, many people claim to trance “channel” an assortment of entities. These range from the ascended masters of Atlantis to the extraterrestrial captains of starships to Śāṭan, the devil.

The current worldview has it that everything is made of matter, and everything can be reduced to the elementary particles of matter, the basic constituents – building blocks – of matter. And cause arises from the interactions of these basic building blocks or elementary particles; elementary particles make atoms, atoms make molecules, molecules make cells, and cells make brain. But all the way, the ultimate cause is always the interactions between the elementary particles. This is the belief – all cause moves from the elementary particles. This is what we call “upward causation.” So in this view, what human beings – you and I think of as our free will does not really exist. It is only an epiphenomenon or secondary phenomenon, secondary to the causal power of matter. And any causal power that we seem to be able to exert on matter is just an illusion. This is the current paradigm.
Now, the opposite view is that everything starts with consciousness. That is, consciousness is the ground of all being. In this view, consciousness imposes “downward causation.” In other words, our free will is real. When we act in the world we really are acting with causal power. This view does not deny that matter also has causal potency – it does not deny that there is causal power from elementary particles upward, so there is upward causation – but in addition it insists that there is also downward causation. It shows up in our creativity and acts of free will, or when we make moral decisions. In those occasions we are actually witnessing downward causation by consciousness.
Craig Hamilton (interviewer), “Scientific Proof of the Existence of God: An interview with Amit Goswami.” What is Enlightenment? (magazine). Spring-Summer 1977.

Among metaphysical idealists, mind or spirit, not real essence, is regarded as the basis of existence. However, if the attribute of love does not precede that of knowledge, any information obtained will, I feel, be mostly superficial. Since an object truly known is one deeply and passionately adored, consciousness, as a sign of unity, is the effect, not the cause. By progressing on the path of search to the death or annhilation (al-fanāʾ) of the willful or insistent self (al-nafs al-ammāra), we may, God willing, acquire many of the attributes (virtues) within the higher nature of nobility or the spiritual Kingdom.

It seems to me that love, or connectedness with unities, precedes all other attributes. Unfortunately, many people strive to obtain extensive spiritual knowledge without having first passed through the Valley of Love. From personal experience, and based upon my understanding of the following quotation, I humbly, yet strongly, recommend against it:

And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter The Valley of Knowledge and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings.
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys,” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Pages 5-6.

Among the supporters of subjective idealism, however, there is no real objective existence. We are, as human social agents, continuously creating and recreating the world around us through our mental impressions. One of the more commonly discussed themes of modern Western popular culture, “We each create our own realities,” can be regarded as subjectively idealist. Additionally, the perspectives developed by Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753) are frequently cited as examples of this philosophy:

It is evident to any one who takes a survey of the objects of human knowledge, that they are either IDEAS actually imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by help of memory and imagination—either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid ways. By sight I have the ideas of light and colours, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance, and of all these more and less either as to quantity or degree. Smelling furnishes me with odours; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds to the mind in all their variety of tone and composition. And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example a certain colour, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name APPLE. Other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things—which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the passions of love, hatred, joy, grief, and so forth.
George Berkeley, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge.

Existentialism, which is a form of subjective idealism, claims that each individual has complete freedom to create her own meaning in a world without inherent meaning and without independent essences. Instead, to many existentialists, the essences of meaning are dependent  upon human will and voluntary action. These individual formations of meaning occur through  through existence or, for theistic existentialists, they are humanly chosen relationships with God. The following quotation illustrates the individual disconnectedness which has characterized a great deal of modern existential thought:

What do we mean by saying that existence precedes essence? We mean that man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world—and defines himself afterwards.
Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean-Paul Sartre: Basic Writings. Edited by Stephen Priest. New York: Routledge. 2001. Page 29.
Process Thought

On the other hand, process philosophy is a perspective which was developed, early in the twentieth century, through the writings of Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Hartshorne, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (arguably), and others. To process philosophers, Platonism is, in a sense, turned upside down on its head. In place of fixed, static, or eternal forms, reality is reconceived as fluid or dynamic events. Creativity is considered to be inherent within all beings and things. Because creative development is envisioned as the rule or structure of existence, reality must forever be in flux.

In process philosophy, therefore, essences of being are reimagined as essences of becoming. Although the substances or objects around us appear, from our perspectives, to be tangible or concrete, they are, to process philosophers, the products of human experience. Only God is permanent and eternal. Process thought, an umbrella term, adds all or part of: process theology, constructive postmodernism, theopoetics, Anisa, relational realism, symbolic interactionism (a sociological theory), process New Thought, elisionism, the holomovement, and so forth.

Process philosophy is, from one point of view, the polar opposite of nominalism. The reality of essences has generally been denied by nominalists. To them, essences are no more than names, conventional categories, or classification systems. Although the medieval founders of Western nominalism were devout Roman Catholics, secularism is partially rooted in nominalist disconnectedness. Process thought, however, lies on the other end of the philosophical spectrum. Essences not only exist. They are in constant motion.

I have known several individuals who have adopted process philosophy. For instance, my major professor (advisor) in graduate school was a symbolic interactionist. Anisa, which was influenced by process philosophy, is an educational philosophy developed, in the 1970s, by a team of Bahá’ís at the University of Massachusetts. Yet, I remain skeptical. Essences are unknowable. In my personal Bahá’í view, claiming that essences are continuously and creatively developing is as speculative as the nominalist idea that they are only names or categories.

Return to the table of contents.

XI. Critical Realism
The Basics

Since essences are unknowable and depend upon the Will of God, only their attributes are revealed. Although the divine Essence is, of course, a Being, whether any other essences are beings is a mystery. Speculations on these subjects, while interesting, are of little use. In my opinion, since we are agnostic about essences, the Best Beloved discussed them with a beautiful critical, or representational, realism, not nominalism. Essences are not, as in nominalism, just names. They are inner realities which are experienced, indirectly, by feeling, or inwardly touching, their attributes.

Many forms of idealism and realism might increase our understandings of reality. However, to a social scientist, since any essences of social relationships cannot be directly observed, their nature, or location, would, in any case, be irrelevant. As a sociologist of religion, a clinical sociologist, and a social theorist, I am building a new critical realist perspective. It includes The Unicentric Paradigm as an ontology, a spiritual cosmology, or a system of metaphysics. The name which I have given to the overall approach is Dialectical metaRealism.

Critical Realism, which is frequently capitalized in order to distinguish it from other critical realisms, was originated by British philosopher Ram Roy Bhaskar (first MP4 video, second MP4 video, and MP3 audio) has evolved through three major turns or waves. Aspects of each of them will be discussed in this book. According to Bhaskar:

... Critical Realism [moved] philosophically through several distinct phases or levels of development, the main ones of which are original or basic Critical Realism, dialectical Critical Realism and the philosophy of meta-Reality.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page vii.

Hegelianism is speculative idealism, while Critical Realism is speculative realism. Like other systems of metaphysical or speculative realism, Critical Realism assumes some kind of ontology. This subject was established by Aristotle as one of the branches of metaphysics. Ontology considers issues of being, including the classification of existence into forms and rankings. However, essences, in my view, can only be accepted indirectly, as attributes, and through faith in divine Revelation. Since essences are unknowable, any Bahá’í ontology would, it appears, focus instead on naming or categorizing their attributes.

However, In Critical Realism, as I have developed it, essential attributes or events are both felt and understood.

... one small methodological example of my admiration [for Ram Roy Bhaskar] is how he separated Marx and Hegel, again most of the older style Marxists idolize and study both, whereas I’ve always found him [Hegel] to be extremely unpleasant an even bizarre (cunning of reason) in his thinking, Roy was the first person outside of my head who dared to separate the two at last ....
Lucas Sutton, “Marginalia on Radical Thinking: Interview with Lucas Sutton.” The Loyal Opposition to Modernity: Skeptically and Analytically Looking at Politics, Philosophy, Religion, Science, and Aesthetics. Blog. Retrieved on January 23, 2012.

One of Bhaskar’s more important contributions to theory or knowledge, in my view, concerns the mediation of the Actual (events) between the Real (underlying structures which are known through careful speculation, based upon the Actual, not through wild speculation) and the Empirical (direct observation of the Actual and speculation on the Real). Perhaps the most significant implication of this indirect or representative realism is a pragmatically fallibilist, relativist, or standpoint epistemology (theory of knowledge and perception). The Actual relativizes, not necessarily falsifies, empiricism. Because the Real is not directly observable, legitimate conjectures can vary.

Critical realism furnishes the world ... with intransitive objects that exist independently of our knowledge of them. This does not mean that they are immutable, that they all exist outside of culture, or that knowledge of them cannot be used to effect changes in them. Our understanding of these objects is however transitive, relative and fallible. It is at this point that critical realism is open to engagement with aspects of postmodernism, and with feminism after the cultural turn, including feminist standpoint epistemology....
Critical realism accepts “epistemic relativism,” that is the view that the world can only be known in terms of available descriptions or discourses, but it rejects “judgemental relativism” – the view that one cannot judge between different discourses and decide that some accounts are better than others.
Terry Lovell, “Introduction.” (Mis)recognition, Social Inequality and Social Justice: Nancy Fraser and Pierre Bourdieu. Terry Lovell, editor. Series on Critical Realism: Interventions. New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2007. Pages 3-4.
Critical Realism Chart

As illustrated by the well-known parable from the East, the blind men and the elephant, such a relative, fallibilist, or standpoint epistemology is similar to the Jain doctrine of perspectivism (Sanskrit, anekantavada, manifold thought) and to the inadequacy of human thought or reason (ʿaql) in Islāmic Ṣūfism (Taṣawwuf):

... as the wise Sanáʾí hath written:
How can feeble reason encompass the Qurʾán,
Or the spider snare a phoenix in his web?
Wouldst thou that the mind should not entrap thee?
Teach it the science of the love of God!
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 52.
A group of blind men are taken to an elephant. They are told to reach and touch what is standing in front of them.
“What is it that is standing before you?”
The men, who’ve never encountered an elephant, are positioned so that each is standing in front of a different part of the beast.
Each man strokes what’s in front of him, and speaks to what it is he believes this hands are touching.
One claims the elephant is a pot (he has his hands brushing over the elephant’s head), another a plough (tusk), for another a pillar (leg), yet another a tree stump (foot) and another a fan (ear)....
For each telling of the story the outcome varies. But all versions of the story have a common element.
The Buddhist version has the men coming to blows over who's right and who's wrong, with a moral of how people cling to their ideas of right and wrong instead of opening their hearts to other ideas and possibilities.
The Jain tradition has the opposite result, with the men living in harmony through accepting the many valid beliefs that people can hold.
The Ṣūfī tradition points out how one version of the truth can make us blind to other truths.
Other traditions offer similar interpretations of the story....
The legend was ... used by the Persian poet Sanāʾī (died probably 545 a.h./1150 c.e.), also as an illustration of the inadequacy of human reason. The great Ṣūfī master Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī (1207-1273 c.e.) is another who uses the story; in his Maṯnawī. He likens those who cannot agree about the eternally immutable God, those in whom the spiritual eye has not yet awakened, to a group of people who seek an elephant in a dark room, and try to determine its appearance by touch alone. Naturally, each one comes to a different conclusion, according to the part of the animal’s body that they feel.
Various sources, The Blind Men and the Elephant. Retrieved on March 15, 2013.

Below are my modifications, in brief, to this three-tiered ontology, or stratified reality, of the Real (Essences), the Actual (Attributes), and the Empirical (Names) along with emancipatory agency (structurization):

The epistemological approaches found in the perspectival realism of University of Minnesota Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Ronald N. Giere, and in the subtle realism of The Open University Professor of Educational and Social Research, Martyn Hammersley, are similar, but not identical, to Critical Realism:

Not only are all instruments limited to recording only a few aspects of the world, they do so with only limited accuracy. There is no such thing as a perfectly transparent instrument. This means that there will always be a many-one relationship between inputs and the recorded outputs, which relationship is determined not by the inputs but by the nature of the instrument. So we may say that part of the perspective of any instrument is its built in margin of error....
In the case of human color and black and white vision, we concluded that the different perspectives are consistent and even complementary. The perspectives of the various instruments used to measure radiation from parts of the universe are likewise both consistent and complementary. A source of infrared light, for example, may often be identified with an object observed optically. Thus, the plurality of perspectives found in scientific observation does not generate an undesirable relativism. Indeed, observational plurality is compatible both with a restricted (perspectival) realism about the objects of observation and also with ordinary standards of evidence for claims about those objects. As with color vision, the compatibility of different observational perspectives is easily understood as a consequence of all observations being observations of one world.
Ronald N. Giere, Perspectival Pluralism. June 5, 2003 (revised). Pages 8-9. Retrieved on February 19, 2012.
... representation [of reality] must always be from some point of view which makes some features of the phenomena represented relevant and others irrelevant....
... subtle realism retains from naïve realism the idea that research investigates independent, knowable phenomena. But it breaks with it in denying that we have direct access to those phenomena, in accepting that we must always rely on, and in denying that our aim is to reproduce social phenomena in some way that is uniquely appropriate to them. Obversely, subtle realism shares with scepticism and relativism a recognition that all knowledge is based on assumptions and purposes and is a human construction, but it rejects these positions’ abandonment of the regulative idea of independent and knowable phenomena. Perhaps most important of all, subtle realism is distinct from both naïve realism and relativism in its rejection of the notion that knowledge must be defined as beliefs whose validity is known with certainty.
... subtle realism requires us to be rather more vigilant regarding the dangers of error than naïve realism would lead us to be. We must accept that we necessarily rely upon cultural assumptions, and that theses can lead us astray, just as easily leading us in the right direction.
Martyn Hammersley, What’s Wrong with Ethnography?: Methodological Explorations. London: Routledge. 1992. Pages 51-52.

On the level of epistemology or knowledge, Critical Realism can be contrasted with the philosophy of empiricism. To an empiricist, human experiences of objects are identical with their higher realities. Therefore, the Real, to an empiricist, is not distinguished from the Actual world of events. To a Critical Realist, however, empiricists are committing an epistemic fallacy. They are confusing their own fallible, indirect observations of events with ontology or existence. In other words, for critical realists, epistemological realism (the transitive dimension) is not the same as ontological realism (the intransitive dimension).

Within Dialectical metaRealism, the fundamental units of analysis are the attributes, virtues, or events of unity. They are examined and evaluated in terms of their practicality or usefulness in reliably producing particular types of social organization, process, or result. However, relational theories (relational sociology) consider the basic unit of examination to be “relationships.” Other sociological theories take the individual or the group (for instance, dyads and triads in Georg Simmel’s formal sociology) as the most elementary level for sociological inquiry.

The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehendeth, whereas the soul is free from all agencies.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Page 8.

In 2003, I left Sorokin’s integralist idealism  for Critical Realism. Later that same year, I rejected Critical Realism in favor of nominalism. However, in my own life as an Autist, nominalism, I began to recognize over time, had become a poison. It was seductive, even addictive, but it reinforced my social indifference. In 2011, following an extended period of self-discovery, I finally recognized that I had made an awful blunder. I discarded nominalism and returned to Critical Realism. Thank God, I now have a somewhat better appreciation for the subject. These days, I could never imagine becoming a nominalist again.

When I first encountered Bhaskar’s Critical Realism, and decided to modify it for my own use, I was, and of course continue to be, a Bahá’í, but I was also a neo-Marxist sociologist. Bhaskar was, as he explained, influenced by Marxism, structuralism, Nietzschean perspectivism, the sociology of knowledge, language, natural philosophy, and by other sources as well (The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective). However, Bhaskar comes from an esoteric family background. Both his English mother and Indian father were involved with Madame H.P. Blavatsky’s Theosophy:

The couple came to the view that they were adherents of Theosophy (of a somewhat unorthodox kind)—basically, a form of westernised Hinduism—and subscribed to it for the rest of their lives.
Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science. New York: Routledge. 2008. Page xii.
Whenever my parents took me to the Theosophical Society I used to really enjoy that, not so much for the content of the lectures and so on – I didn’t attend many of them – but for the time I would spend in the library (if I didn’t have to look after the younger children), where I got lost in a world outside my life and existence.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 6.
Comparisons with Other Views

To Bhaskar, a change in consciousness (or epistemology), similar perhaps to Paulo Freire’s conscientization or critical consciousness, would accompany the emancipation of nonduality and the experience of self-realization (Sanskrit, sākśātkāra or siddhi-ātmā):

The term “ground state” is a term ... [which includes] not only the more religious concept of “soul” but also the secular concept of our best or “higher selves”; all ground states are connected in ... the “cosmic envelope.”
Cheryl Frank, “Global Warming and Cultural/Media Articulations of Emerging and Contending Social Imaginaries: A Critical Realist Perspective Interdisciplinarity and Climate Change: Transforming Knowledge and Practice for Our Global Future. Roy Bhaskar, Cheryl Frank, Petter Naess, and Jenneth Parker, editors. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 114.
Raising capacity among these protagonists [the individual, the institutions of society, and the community] will require a thorough reexamination of assumptions about human nature. Notions of “us” and “them” deserve particular attention. Discourse in development circles, for example, is often rooted in notions of the “empowered” members of society assisting the “disadvantaged” or “marginalized.” The impulse to rectify social inequalities is unquestionably noble, but us/them dichotomies only perpetuate and reinforce existing divisions. Careful thought needs to be given to ways in which empowerment can be approached as a universal and shared enterprise and not something the “haves” bestow on the “have nots.”
Baháí International Community (United Nations Office), Empowerment as a Mechanism for Social Transformation. November 15, 2012. Retrieved on March 17, 2013.

A concept similar to the cosmic envelope (al-gilāf al-dunyawī) is, it seems to me, discussed in the following passage:

Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.... Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Page 65.

Bhaskar’s approach has often been contrasted with the practice theories of Pierre Bourdieu, Anthony Giddens (structuration theory), and others. In certain practice theories, an epistemology of rationalism replaces Critical Realism’s indirect (or representational) realism. Harold Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology, which focuses upon rule-based behavior, has also sometimes been regarded as a practice theory.

Social reality, the unobservable structures, are, according to Bhaskar, the source of potential. Human agency is willful action. We, as human beings, also have free will. In an academic setting, it is sometimes called, agency. As an illustration, although the human kingdom may be a created essence, we socially form its attributes by establishing values and norms (obligations). However, in some practice theories, social action is explained through rational structures, not through real or ontological structures. Agency, instead, becomes potential. These quotations should clarify some important distinctions between the perspectives:

This article works out the main characteristics of “practice theory,” a type of social theory which has been sketched by such authors as [Pierre] Bourdieu, [Anthony] Giddens, [Charles] Taylor, late [Michel] Foucault and others. Practice theory is presented as a conceptual alternative to other forms of social and cultural theory, above all to culturalist mentalism, textualism and intersubjectivism.
Andreas Reckwitz, ‘Toward a Theory of Social Practices : A Development in Culturalist Theorizing,” European Journal of Social Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Vol. 5. No. 243. (2002). Page 243.
Notwithstanding his [Bourdieu’s] nominal attacks on realist (empiricist) and substantialist (nonrelational) philosophies of science, which do not accomplish the epistemological rupture with the spontaneous conceptions of reality, I would like to show that his sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Critical Realism....
... I would like Bourdieu to abandon his scepticism about the existence of a theory-independent world and accept the idea that the world, which can indeed only be known under different (re)descriptions, actually exists independently of those (re)descriptions, or even better, that those alternative (re)descriptions of the world actually offer alternative accounts of the same  world....
... With Critical Realism, we can thus conclude that it is only if we possess the concept of an ontological realm, distinct from our current claims to knowledge, that we can think out the possibility of a rational criticism of our claims.
... In order to avoid the “epistemic fallacy,” which reduces ontological questions to epistemological ones, he should avoid all equivocations between rationalist and realist interpretations of his work, abandon the conventionalist stratagem of the “as if,” and put his theory on the solid ontological foundations that Critical Realism is only too happy to provide.
Frederic Vandenberghe, “‘The Real is Relational’: An Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu’s Generative Structuralism,” Sociological Theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Vol. 17, No. 1 (March, 1999). Pages 32-67.
... theorists such as Michael Oakeshott, Michael Polanyi, or Alasdair MacIntyre have also made central use of the practice idiom, or been retroactively cited as practice theorists.... Ethnomethodological work in sociology, too, is now often presented as attending to everyday practices and agents’ understanding of the practices they engage in ....
Joseph Rouse, “Practice Theory,” in Stephen P. Turner and Mark W, Risjord (editors), Handbook of the Philosophy of Science. Volume 15: Philosophy of Anthropology and Sociology. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Elsevier (2006). Page 500.

Critical Realism does a better job, I believe, at explaining essences and the limitations of human knowledge than practice theory, nominalism, metaphysical idealism, and other perspectives. Still, I do not recommend simply taking the ideas of a critical realist or Critical Realism, or of anyone else, and applying them, across the board, to the Bahá’í Sacred Texts. I accept Critical Realism as I have personally  been developing it. For me, the term is useful because it describes, reasonably well, how I see things right now. Obviously, other critical realists would differ with me on certain subjects, especially my use of the great chain of being.

MetaRealism and the Cosmic Envelope

While I was a nominalist, Critical Realism took a spiritual turn at the turn of the century. His philosophy of metaReality (or metaRealism, beyond relative reality), the third major phase of Critical Realism (after original Critical Realism and dialectical Critical Realism), refers to emancipation or realization through the nondual ground-state (or cosmic envelope) of stratified reality, including the Real, the Actual, and the Empirical domains. In my view, this expression, the cosmic envelope, could also be applied, with some modifications, to the ontological paradigm which is, I believe, presented in the Bahá’í calendar.

... he [Roy Bhaskar] he wishes to underline, not that PMR [Philosophy of meta-Reality] is not a system of philosophy, which it most certainly is, but that it “engages as much a polemic against thought, and the ego, and the products of thought and the ego, as it does against subject-object duality as such” and that it is a philosophy of truth rather than of reality, a metaRealism rather than a realism ....
Mervyn Hartwig, meta-Reality. Privately published paper. Page 20.
“MetaReality” and cognate terms were originally spelt with a hyphen: “Meta-Reality” (at the beginning of a sentence); otherwise “metaReality”, including within titles and chapter headings (with the exception of Reflections on MetaReality). In future publications Roy Bhaskar has decided to dispense with the hyphen and to capitalize the first letter of “metaReality” in titles and chapter headings. I have accordingly followed suit here.
Mervyn Hartwig in Roy Bhaskar, From Science to Emancipation: Alienation and the Actuality of Enlightenment. New York, Routledge. 2012. Kindle edition.
The fundamental procedure of this new philosophy [of metaReality] is the same as that which produced hitherto existing critical realism: transcendental critique, in which transcendental argumentation for (meta)-realist positions from geo-historically relative premises goes hand-in-hand with a twofold process of immanent critique: (1) of the philosophical discourse of modernity (PDM) in the context of a totalising critique of Western philosophy as such; and (2) of critical realism’s own prior phases.
... The chief characteristics of PDM, together with the elements of its critical realist and metaRealist critique, are set out in Table 2. These two tables make it clear that the fundamental motor of ... [this] philosophy has been the identification of key absences in PDM ....
Roy Bhaskar, Reflections on metaReality: Transcendence, Emancipation and Everyday Life. London: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2012. Kindle edition.

Therefore, metaReality, as the most recent “level of development of critical realist ontology,” is a practical and an applied philosophy. It argues that “the Real” consists of, first, metaReality, copresence, ādvaita (Sanskrit for nonduality), absolute reality, ground state, the cosmic envelope (unity), emancipation, and socialism; second, relative reality, dvaita (Sanskrit for relativity or duality), duality, identity, or difference (diversity); and, finally, demireality, mayā (Sanskrit for illusion), dualism, division, disunity, oppression, domination, and capitalism. Ultimately, the choice, which each of us must make from moment to moment, is between unity in diversity and disunity in diversity:

In general there is an axiological asymmetry between properties of the spiritual or metaReal infrastructure and the levels it sustains in that you cannot have those levels without it, but you can have it without them or the present form they take. I arrived at this sense of spirituality by reflecting on unity and identity. Unity and identity are very closely related ... to the idea of transcendence as overcoming dualism (e.g. contradiction) and to love as the chief transcending, or unifying, binding force in society. The three big realms then are the realm of identity or non-duality (absolute reality), the realm of difference or duality (relative reality) and the realm of dualism, split, antagonism and contradiction (demi-reality), which is duality grounded on falsity, on illusions. What we have to do is recognize and empower the realm of non-duality so as to get rid of the demi-real level. When we have done that we will still be living in a world of duality but not of dualism and split.
The unity or identity of metaReality, which may be seen as the seventh level of development of critical realist ontology, is essential for social life in three ways. First as a basis for it, and here the key concept is that of the ground-state. Second, as its mode of constitution or more particularly reproduction or transformation .... For instance, there has to be a level at which you just act without thinking, without doing anything dualistic. In the same way, when I am listening to you or perceiving anything, there has to be a level that involves, or just consists in, a transcendental identification in consciousness. Third, as its deep interior or fine structure. This is very interesting; there is a sense in which, if you go into anything deeply enough, you will find a deep interior that you can become one with and, in so doing, experience bliss ....
... the relative reality of duality ... [is] the battleground of dualism and unity.
Roy Bhaskar with Marvyn Hartwig, Theism, Atheism, and Meta-Reality. Mervyn Harwig and Jamie Morgan, editors. New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2012. Pages 205-206 and 226.
... characteristically the world of demi-reality, of dualism and split dominates the world of duality, of relative reality generally; or you could also say it is the dominant form, and also a mystifying form, in which relative reality is experienced, lived, reproduced and transformed. This demi-real form of relative reality in turn dominates and occludes its non-dual basis or ground, its non-dual mode of constitution, which depends everywhere on the spontaneous creative ingenuity, loving compassion and capacity for right-action of human agents, and its deep fine structure which reflects characteristics of the ground-state....
Relative reality is the world of becoming, and as such encompasses change and process, evolution and development, structured by difference, constituting difference, grounded in non-identity, differences which can be attractive or repulsive. Within relative reality is of course the world of dualism, of demi-reality, characterised and indeed dominated by hate, split, fear, divisiveness and above all alienation which the dominant, irrealist philosophies merely reflect. Critical realism, insofar as it isolates the deeper structures of relative reality, can indeed be an emancipatory philosophy. It is truer to the world of relative reality than the philosophies of demi-reality, because it situates the deep structures of that world, and shows how it may be transformed. But such a description is still grounded in duality ....
... [meta-Reality] is not really even a system of thought, but an intervention in the discursive [rational] process which is designed to enable agents [individuals] to reflexively [referring to oneself] situate [place] their struggles in ... not only the relative world of duality but the absolute non-dual world on which it entirely reposes [rests] ....
... We could also say that meta-Reality designates the constellational [pattern of relationships] unity of non-duality and duality ....
Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2012. Kindle edition
In his new book, Reflections on Meta-Reality (RMR), Roy Bhaskar claims to articulate a new philosophy that transcends Critical Realism, while preserving its insights. And indeed it proceeds by immanent critique of Critical Realism, thereby extending Critical Realism’s systematic attempt to think being. With the demise of historical socialism and the rise of bourgeois triumphalism in the late eighties and the nineties, the deficiency, absence or lack Bhaskar has pinpointed in the discourse and practice of Critical Realism and the Left in general is that insufficient attention is being paid to the spiritual dimension of human life, with the consequence that the Right is hegemonic in that area. So he self-consciously set out to remedy this lack, embarking on “the spiritual exposition of being.” ...
Its basic line of argument is that a non-dual world or ultimate zone of being underpins and is co-present in an occluded way in the dual world of alienation and contradiction in which we live, as a condition of its possibility, and that this requires a new philosophy of identity for its exposition. Realism about this world, about transcendence, thus entails the self-transcendence of Critical Realism itself, which is a philosophy of non-identity or duality. Bhaskar calls this non-dual world the cosmic envelope (in which the deepest natures or ground-states of all beings sit and are connected), describing it also as Bohm’s implicate order of pure enfolded being, of pure potentiality, of “Platonic anamnesis,” involving “a level of consciousness beyond thought itself.” Other key figures ... are generalised co-presence or synchronicity and the inwardness of being (everything is implicated or enfolded within everything else); and transcendental identification in consciousness between entities and beings within the explicated or become dual world we inhabit.
Roy Bhaskar, “The Philosophy of Meta-Reality, Part I: Identity, Spirituality, System. Interview by Mervyn Hartwig.” Abstract (excerpt). Journal of Critical Realism. Alethia 5.1 2002. Retrieved on November 24, 2011.

Any human soul currently on this planet is an imperfect being. Yet, each and all must be lovingly and joyously accepted. There is, in this new Era, only “us,” not the outmoded “us versus them.” One of the preconditions for angelhood is, to my understanding, an unceasing heartfulness and mindfulness of metaReality in one’s life. The end objective of this challenging process is an emancipation from the demireality, or real [Sanskrit, sat] illusion [Sanskrit, mayā], of disunity and duality, including oppression, into the nondual cosmic envelope of unity in diversity. These glorious states of spiritual liberation might, God willing, even become commonplace.

[Demi-reality] generates dualism, alienation, [and] fragmentation ....
Roy Bhaskar, From East to West: Odyssey of a Soul. New York: Routledge. 2000. Page 57.
And the claim of the philosophy of meta-Reality is that all other beings are enfolded within myself, or at least the alethic truth of all other beings, and I accordingly am enfolded within all other beings too. So the distinctiveness of beings remains, you are different from me, you are spatio-temporally, karmically and constitutively different from me, but you are nevertheless enfolded within me. The fact that all beings are enfolded within me enables me in principle to discover the alethic truth of those beings, such as the molecular structure of a crystal or the nature of gravity or what it is like to be a dragon.
Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2002. Page xviii.
“Symviability” is a new term which we use to refer to the ability of human cultures to adjust harmoniously to each other and to nature, that is to live symbiotically with each other and with as great a diversity of biological systems as possible.... Each culture arises and is maintained by the evolved-in humanimal imperative to develop preserve and propagate its own cultural identity. Each culture has a survival and propagative imperative. For a culture to survive the people who carry it and the animals and plants which carry them, must all survive together. From this, you may gather that our ontology is a methodologically pragmatically chosen one .... The critical realist ontology at first seemed a good candidate but now Bhaskar’s ... critical realist ontology commends itself to us by transcending possessive individualism.
Gary Boyd and Vladimir Zeman, “Designing cybersystemically for symviability,” Kybernetes. Volume 36. Issue 9/10. Pages 1255-1265.

Since Critical Realism has developed through three stages, the philosophy of metaReality is, in a sense, Critical Realism 3.0:

[Roy Bhaskar:] ... Transcendental dialectical critical realism is, if you like, a half-way house [between original dialectical Critical Realism and meta-Reality] at which there is a conception of the absolute and a conception of the interconnectivity involved, but it is not yet adequately theorised because it is not comprehensive....
[Roy Bhaskar:] ... the conceptions of transcendental dialectical critical realism ... were to become sharpened into those of meta-Reality.
[Mervyn Hartwig:] ... the development of your [Roy Bhaskar’s] system falls into three main stages: (basic or first-level or -wave) critical realism (transcendental realism, critical naturalism, explanatory critique); dialectical critical realism (including transcendental dialectical critical realism); and the philosophy of meta-Reality....
[Roy Bhaskar:] ... When I coined it [meta-Reality] I wanted a way of describing the new development other than as a form of critical realism; my concern, at any rate initially, was to avoid embarrassing and causing consternation among other critical realists. I thought, well, let’s call the whole preexisting system critical realism and see that as a jumping off point for what I   am saying now. I actually see it as continuous with what I have said in the past, but I cannot assume that other people will, and that is why I wanted a different name for it....
[Roy Bhaskar:] ... meta-Reality underpins reality as its ground or base. You could not do anything at all without possessing the qualities of the ground state.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Pages 155, 168, 171, and 174-175.
Minimally stated, the philosophy of meta-Reality holds that the dualistic world we inhabit, as best described by (dialectical) critical realism, is ultimately sustained and powered by non-duality as the ground or ground-state of being, as the mode of constitution (reproduction/transformation) of everyday life via transcendence, and as the fine structure or deep interior of beings.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 175.

Although I mostly developed my own version of critical realism, as Dialectical metaRealism and the Unicentric Paradigm, independently from the work of Ram Roy Bhaskar (1944-present), his term, the cosmic envelope, has provided an elegant image for the Unities of All Things (al-Wāḥidāt Kulla Šayʾ, لواحدات كُلَّ شيء). Aspects of my approach resemble Bhaskar’s Critical Realism and its later development as the philosophy of metaReality. Bhaskar is a blessed individual who has recognized the unity of existence. Still, the viewpoint which I have taken here, as a Bahá’í, departs from Bhaskar’s system in certain areas.

Based on a literature review, these were the two earliest usages I found for the term, cosmic envelope:

... in addition to those elements which can be rendered into our own tongue, there is also a kind of intangible cosmic envelope, which gives its undertone to these unaccustomed things, a hidden but perceptible background, which we miss at home.
Julius Meier-Graefe, Modern Art: Being a Contribution to a New System of Aethetics. London: William Heinemann. 1908.
... this canopy embroidered with the signs of the moon and of the stars is simply the mantle of Heaven, the tent of the sky, the great cosmic envelope of the universe, the significance of which throughout the whole history of religion and ritual has been brought forward of late in a book as learned as it is inspiring. The idea of the cosmic mantle is familiar to all of us from the wonderful simile in Isaiah (xl. 22), that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in. Even more vivid is the simile in the Psalms (civ. 2), Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment ; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain. The conception so beautifully expressed by Isaiah and the Psalmist is common to all ancient Eastern religions, and early penetrated into Greece and thence to Italy.
Mrs. Arthur Strong, Apotheosis and After Life: Three Lectures on Certain Phases of Art and Religion in the Roman Empire. London: Constable and Company. 1915. Page 176.

More recent references to a cosmic envelope are found in connection with Vastu Śāstā (Sanskrit for substance ruler). Proponents of this Hindū system, which is somewhat similar in function to the Chinese practice of Fëng Shuǐ (Chinese for wind water), claim to be establishing physical, especially architectural, harmony:

One who lives in the properly attained cosmic envelope of a Vastu [Sanskrit for substance] enters an energy field where there is no friction, impedance, or loss of energy. He also breaks the previous frames of reference and each of the cells and particles of his organic being experiences enriched, blissful environment.
N.H. Sahasrabudhe and R.D. Mahatme, Mystic Science of Vastu. Elgin, IL: New Dawn Press Group. 2000. Page 49.
Vasstushastra is the art of living with natural forces in harmony and peace....
The theory is very simple: “Sky, i.e., ether, is full of events.” Events flow along the natural streams of energy. If these streams are blockage-free, impedence free and frictionless, one meets a positive network of events in life, which makes one fortunate. Hence Vasstu Science creates a cosmic envelope around you by using the art of orientation with some crystals, some plants, colours, prisms, pyramids, metals, water, stones and levels.
Vastu Shastra Course. 2012.
The origins of Feng Shui, which literally means “wind and water,” go back at least 4,000 years in Chinese history. Its foundation was and still is, the understanding that the arrangement of our surroundings exerts a powerful influence upon the well-being of our lives. The fundamental purpose of Feng Shui practice was to locate suitable sites protected from harmful energies, on which to construct dwellings where the inhabitants would thrive, enjoying good health, family harmony, happiness, prosperity and abundant harvests.
Nitish Gupta, What is Feng Shui?

According to Bhaskar, in both Critical Realism and the philosophy of metaReality, the structures which underly observable behaviors or outward appearances are directly unknown and hidden. We observe these structures or realities through the outward events or phenomena they produce. In my humble opinion, since Bhaskar has recognized that the nondual structure is the universal Oneness of existence, he may be regarded as a contemporary divine philosopher.

One of the more significant, and perhaps most sociological, implications of Bhaskar’s cosmic envelope is the “Principle of Copresence.” We should, collectively, act upon the realization that, regardless of our perceptions, all of us are, on the deepest and nondual levels of our beings, present with, or wrapped up in, each other and everything else. Practically speaking, we might then be less inclined to intentionally hurt another sentient being or to pollute our physical environment. Indeed, the Unities of All Things must, in my view, become as taken for granted as the air we breathe and the blood which flows within our veins.

[The emancipatory leap] ... relies on principles Bhaskar calls “co-presencing” or “transcendental identification.”
Bonnitta Roy, “Report from the Critical Realism and Integral Theory Symposium.” Integral Postmetaphysical Spirituality. October 27, 2011.
... just as consciousness was implicitly enfolded in all being, all beings are implicitly enfolded within my consciousness and therefore within my being ....
... The theory of co-presence allows us to also see the necessity for a commitment to a eudaimonistic [flourishing or emancipated] society and more generally to the project and state of universal self-realisation.
Roy Bhaskar, meta-Reality: The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2002. Page 71-72.

MetaReality is, because of its emphasis on the cosmic envelope and copresence, the opposite of libertarianism, the sovereign citizen movement, Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, and other philosophies which emphasize classical liberalism or individualism:

... a unity-in-difference ... [is] co-presence ....
Roy Bhaskar, “Unity of Theory and Practice, Interdisciplinarity, and Non-duality.” Abstract (excerpt). Retrieved on January 7, 2012.
Emancipation from the Demireality of Intersectionality

Conservatism is conserving the old. Emancipation from it is the left. The philosophy of Critical Realism, with its emphasis on emancipation, is a leftist philosophy:

... critical realism is a philosophy of the left in so far as it favours more inclusive totalities and what it is doing is isolating absences that include social inequities and imbalances that exist in social life, and it is this that powers the system.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 205.

Although metaReality and, more broadly, Critical Realism belong to the intellectual left, the left is not necessarily a political orientation. As a philosophical and theoretical movement, metaReality and Critical Realism take no particular position on partisan issues. One could, I presume, find self-identified critical realists with a variety of political and economic views. Instead, intellectual left is used here for the social emancipation and spiritual self-realization (conscious-raising, critical consciousness, or conscientization) of oppressed peoples. By providing theories or explanatory accounts of behavior, sociology and other human sciences can help point the way toward that emancipation.

Religious conservatism, particularly in England, constitutes indeed a serious obstacle which the friends have to meet when spreading the [Bahá’í] Message, and not until such an obstacle has been completely removed can the Cause effectively spread and establish itself in the West. This religious conservatism is in many respects far more dangerous and more difficult to wipe out than the religious apathy which is so rapidly invading all classes of society.
Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community. February 8, 1935. Pages 433-434.

As I sometimes tell my students, there is no they. Contrary to metaRealism, the problem, in my view, with the Occupy Movement is its underlying theme. Instead of focusing on unity, or the cosmic envelope, the 99% are encouraged to join together against the 1%:

Where we can not rely on our elected officials to work in the interest of the 99%, we will join together and offer each other mutual aid. We build community centers, free markets, workshops, and alternative structures. We will be the change we are seeking in the world....
... the occupy movement has called attention to important issues of unchecked corporate influence in politics and social and economic inequality. “We are the 99%” has become a rallying cry by many, familiar by virtually all, and acknowledged but mocked by the wealthy, showing their disregard for the majority of American people.
Learn About Occupy.” Occupy Together. Retrieved on July 29, 2012.

There is no monolithic elite – no reified 1% versus 99%. Instead, in the capitalist world order and its demireality, the relations of power are highly complex and multifaceted. An individual occupying an oppressive status in one situation might occupy the status of an oppressor in yet another. Patricia Hill Collins (born, 1948) is a contemporary feminist sociologist. In 2009, she became the first African American female president of the American Sociological Association. Similar, perhaps, to demireality or disunity, Hill Collins describes power relations using the social constructionist theory of intersectionality and a related conceptual model, the matrix of domination.

I have used the thesis of intersectionality and the idea of the matrix of domination as interrelated constructs to describe social structures of domination. Intersectional thinking suggests that race, class, gender, nation, sexuality, ethnicity, age, and other forms of social hierarchy structure one another. My goal has been to conceptualize intersectionality and study its manifestations in a matrix of domination from one social setting to the next.
Patricia Hill Collins, On Intellectual Activism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 2013. Kindle edition.
... I introduced the term matrix of domination as a heuristic device for describing structural power relations that house individuals and groups.
Patricia Hill Collins, Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnessota Press. 1998. Page 259.
Another way of approaching power views it as not something that groups possess but as an intangible entity that circulates within a particular matrix of domination and to which individuals stand in varying relationships. These approaches emphasize how individual subjectivity frames human actions within a matrix of domination.
Patricia Hill Collins, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and Politics of Empowerment. New York: Routledge. 2000. Page 274.

Feminist standpoint epistemology or standpoint theory examines the socially situated nature of human knowledge or a critical sociology of knowledge. Through intersectionality, the complexity of standpoint epistemologies is demonstrated:

[Donna] Haraway’s plea for an epistemology of situated knowledges and partial objectivity can be interpreted as part of a larger revision of standpoint feminism, which should be seen as engendered by the urge to move into and beyond postmodern and poststructuralist thought, which I have discussed under the umbrella of postconstructionism. However, in addition to this, it should also be understood against the background of the difficulties that classic standpoint feminism displays when confronted with the task of relating to multiple and intersecting standpoints.
Nina Lykke, (2010-08-27). Feminist Studies: A Guide to Intersectional Theory, Methodology and Writing. New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2010. Page 136.

Intersectionality emerged out of the postmodern third-wave or revisionality feminism, as some writers attempted to grapple with the interlocking dominations of gender, race, class, and so forth. I have taken intersectionality out of social constructionism and developed it, as a descriptive framework of demireality, within Critical Realism. In other words, most intersectional theorists have generally treated reality as entirely socially constructed, dialogic, or conversational. However, to critical realists, influenced by Roy Bhaskar, reality exists somewhat independently of our social constructions.

In my view, America requires a serious public conversation on intersectionality, including race and gender inequality, not the ridiculous us-versus-them sideshows created by the capitalist media around certain high-profile criminal cases. According to Jennifer, an English professor at a research university:

So my student, after class, asked what I thought about Jewish people being considered a separate race in the U.S. And I said that certainly not that long ago, Jewish people were, indeed, considered a separate race in the U.S. and certainly around the world. And that anti-semitism is still with us--there are people who continue to discriminate against Jewish people based simply, sadly, and solely on their Jewishness. But I also said that with respect to how we think about race currently in the U.S. it was complicated because similar to either mixed race individuals whose multiraciality may include whiteness or with Latino/Hispanics, Jewish people whose phenotype trends white have white skin privilege because their Jewishness, at least at first sight, is not going to be apparent. And I said that like with all types of identities, there are elements of intersectionally that informs times when we exercise more or less privilege and find ourselves in oppressed or minoritized positions versus in majority positions. As an Asian American woman, I am seemingly in a minoritized position by my race and gender, yet as a straight identified, able bodied person who holds a PhD and a position at a research university, I exercise privilege in very tangible ways.
Jennifer, “Are Jewish People a Race?Mixed Race America. Blog. September 6, 2011. Retrieved on July 1, 2013.

Race and class need to be considered together. However, in the United States, race was created by class privilege. Through the invention of “whiteness,” economically privileged Americans formed a fictional alliance with poor Americans of European ancestry. Although these so-called rednecks had much more in common with Blacks, the rednecks identified, instead, with other so-called whites. People of my own background, European Jews, also mistakenly bought into the white label after World War II. Privilege can be quite appealing. According to CNN writer John Blake:

I was a 17-year-old African-American from an impoverished, inner-city community and had no idea what I was getting into. Next to me in a college freshman orientation class were students who came from private schools and grew up in homes with swimming pools and maids.
But here was the catch: I wasn’t an affirmative action enrollee at an elite white university. I was a black student thrust onto the campus of a predominately black university. My hang-up wasn’t race; it was class. I was suffering from “class shock.” I was on a path to self-destruction because I didn't know how to cross the bridge from poverty into this strange, new world.
John Blake, “I was an Affirmative Action ‘Imposter’.” CNN. Atlanta, GA. July 2, 2013. Retrieved on July 3, 2013.

Intersectionality, placed into Critical Realism, becomes an emancipatory, a nondual, perspective. That it to say, an emancipation from demireality is, by my definition, an emancipation from intersectionality and the matrix of domination. Similarly, kyrarchy, which is intersectional scholar Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza’s choice to replace the term patriarchy, can, like the matrix of domination, be ontologically transcended in the ground state of unity. Like the matrix of domination, kyrarchy is a descriptive model developed out of intersectional theory:

... I have proposed early on to replace the category of “patriarchy” with the neologism kyriarchy, which is derived from the Greek words kyrios (lord/ slavemaster/ father/ husband/ elite/ propertied/ educated man) and archein (to rule, dominate)....
Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of interlocking multiplicative social and religious structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.... Such kyriarchal relations are still today at work in the multiplicative intersectionality of class, race, gender, ethnicity, empire, and other structures of discrimination. In short, kyriarchy is constituted as a sociocultural and religious system of dominations by intersecting multiplicative structures of oppression. The different sets of relations of domination shift historically and produce a different constellation of oppression in different times and cultures. The structural positions of subordination that have been fashioned by kyriarchal relations stand in tension with those required by radical democracy.
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Changing Horizons: Explorations in Feminist Interpretation. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 2013. Kindle edition.

Additionally, other writers have also utilized intersectionality. To Sharon Doetsch-Kidder, intersectionality is an emancipatory spiritual activism:

The inner voice, or “still small voice,” connected with experience is foundational to the epistemology of intersectionality and to why spirit is so central to its development. Intersectionality or multiracial feminism—feminism—what antiracist feminist scholar Chela Sandoval calls “differential consciousness”—grows from an internal sense of the intrinsic value of human beings— of oneself and one’s communities. That is why Sandoval calls differential consciousness the “methodology of love.” “Differential consciousness” describes an ability to read power relations and respond in a way that helps oppressed peoples survive. It is a technology for reading a situation and choosing tactics that enable one to act effectively to equalize power relations. Sandoval uses “technology” to refer to the “practical arts” of activism. Technologies combine pragmatism and creativity, highlighting activism as an artful practice, one that is always changing along with the practitioner and the situations she encounters. Sandoval writes, “The differential technologies of oppositional consciousness, as utilized and theorized by a racially diverse US coalition of women of color, demonstrate the procedures for achieving affinity and alliance across difference; they represent the modes that love takes in the postmodern world.” Working across differences is not only about strategic activism. It is a way of loving others and working from a place of love in the contemporary United States....
I hypothesized that I would draw from activists’ life stories a “queer feminist” theory-in-praxis that prioritizes struggles against racism, poverty, and violence, based on a view of these struggles as central to the projects of women’s and queer liberation.
Sharon Doetsch-Kidder, Social Change and Intersectional Activism: The Spirit of Social Movement. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (St. Martin’s Press). 2012. Pages 3-4 and 159.

Disability, such as my Autism, can, in my view, be understood partially as a medical issue and partially as an intersectional one:

In the Autistic community, and in the Autistic rights movement in particular, we use a lot of borrowed language. Is this wrong and appropriative in itself?...
... These terms may be borrowed, but they are accurate in their descriptions of the experiences we’ve had. They are as analogous as they can be—recognizing the similarities in the experiences while respecting the different circumstances and intersections of privilege and power.
Some Autistics will not come out because they have legitimate fears of losing their jobs or credibility at their schools ....
Lydia Brown, “The Politics of Coming Out.” Autistic Hoya. October 11, 2012. Retrieved on May 20, 2013.

Beginning in the fall semester of 1993, I have used intersectional theory, as developed by Collins, in my Social Problems (SOC 125) classes at Johnson County Community College. One of the textbooks I used, and have continued to select, for my sections (classes) of that course is Race, Class, & Gender: An Anthology (edited by Margaret L. Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins). However, only in early 2013 did I begin to recognize the theoretical complimentarity of intersectionality, particularly the matrix of domination model, and Critical Realism. Since that time, I have approached Bhaskar’s demireality as a matrix of domination.

In my opinion, intersectionality provides a superior description of demireality and power, in the capitalist world order, to simplistic constructs of “the haves” and “the have-nots.” Yet, the matrix of domination, by itself, is misleading. Groups and societies cannot, like Play-Doh, be simply twisted and remodeled according to linguistic structures of social justice. Instead, intersectionality needs to be lifted from the context of social constructionism and placed into metaReality. Although we do not create the Real, we regularly interact with it. Throughout this process of interaction, we can choose whether to develop social systems in the matrix of demireality or in the cosmic envelope.


To begin, ontologically, the philosophy of metaReality can also be contrasted with Amitai Etzioni’s responsive communitarianism:

Communitarianism is a social philosophy that builds on the assumption that the good should be defined socially. This core assumption is in sharp contrast with liberalism, which assumes that each person ought to determine the good individually. Communitarianism stresses that individuals are socially “embedded” rather than free agents, that people have social responsibilities to each other, to their communities, and to the common good....
... social institutions and public policies should reflect shared values and the common good in addition to aggregation of individual preferences, which themselves are culturally penetrated. Beyond universal principles, [responsive] communitarianism emphasizes particularism, the special moral obligations people have to their families, kin, communities, national societies, and the nascent global community.
Responsive communitarians showed that society is best understood not as composed of millions of individuals, but as pluralism within unity. That is, subcultures and loyalties to various ethnic and regional communities do not undermine the integrity of society as long as a core of shared values and institutions—such as the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, the democratic way of life, and mutual tolerance—are respected.
Amitai Etzioni, “Communitarianism.” International Encyclopedia of Political Science. Bertrand Badie, Dirk Berg-Schlosser, and Leonardo Morlino, editors. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2011. Pages 327-332.

While metaReality is grounded in Critical Realism, responsive communitarianism is a social constructionist philosophy. That is to say, community, as a construction, is produced through language and social interaction:

They [communitarian thinkers] emphasise the primacy of language and social interaction in the generation of meaning.... This aligns the communitarian ontological position with social constructionists ... who argue that the primary human reality is face-to-face conversation.
Helen Haste, Ph.D. (University of Bath, England), Communitarianism and the Social Construction of Morality. Privately published paper. 1998.

On the other hand, although in the Bahá’í Faith, the will of the majority is followed, communitarians regard majority rule as an imposition:

With reference to the absolute pacifists, or conscientious objectors to war; their attitude, judged from the Bahá’í standpoint, is quite anti-social and due to its exaltation of the individual conscience leads inevitably to disorder and chaos in society. Extreme pacifists are thus very close to the anarchists, in the sense that both of these groups lay an undue emphasis on the rights and merits of the individual. The Bahá’í conception of social life is essentially based on the subordination of the individual will to that of society. It neither suppresses the individual nor does it exalt him to the point of making him an anti-social creature, a menace to society. As in everything, it follows the “golden mean.” The only way that society can function is for the minority to follow the will of the majority.
The other main objection to the conscientious objectors is that their method of establishing peace is too negative. Non-cooperation is too passive a philosophy to become an effective way for social reconstruction. Their refusal to bear arms can never establish peace. There should first be a spiritual revitalization which nothing, except the Cause of God, can effectively bring to every man’s heart.
From a letter, dated November 21, 1935, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1354.
Communitarians are not majoritarians. The success of the democratic experiment in ordered liberty (rather than unlimited license) depends, not on fiat or force, but on building shared values, habits and practices that assure respect for one another’s rights and regular fulfillment of personal, civic, and collective responsibilities. Successful policies are accepted because they are recognized to be legitimate, rather than imposed.
Responsive Communitarian Platform.” (Alternate location.) The Communitarian Network. 2012. Retrieved on September 16, 2012.

Although I abhor violence and threats of violence, I find Etzioni’s views on social justice, in this case anyway, to be rather distasteful. Presumably, he has in his mind one “breed,” to use his othering or marginalizing term, of terrorists, but not others. At least his dehumanizing social construction of a terrorist, based on a form of Western exceptionalism, is apparently crystal clear to him:

Clearly terrorists are human beings, and as such they are entitled to some basic rights, for instance not to be tortured and not to be held indefinitely without being charged. However it does not follow that they are entitled to the same rights as an American citizen who never lifted his hand against his country. They are best treated as a category in and of themselves.
One major reason they cannot be treated as criminals is that suicide bombers, as a rule, cannot be hauled into a court, brought to justice, or deterred by the threat of life in prison. What gives pause to criminals has little effect on terrorists. They are gone once they have carried out their mission....
Terrorists are surely entitled to basic human rights, as are all human beings. However, we cannot allow them full access to all the evidence against them, which criminals are entitled to, without creating unacceptable security risks.
Amitai Etzioni, “Terrorists Are a Unique Breed.” The Huffington Post. June 20, 2008. Retrieved on August 18, 2012.
For more than a century and a half, we inheritors of the Anglo frontier-conquering spirit have wanted desperately to believe that the West was a place apart. We nurture the myth because it makes us special. But Western exceptionalism has always come with an insidious and largely unacknowledged corollary: The belief that we are immune from the problems of the rest of the world.
Matt Jenkins, “Undoing the Myth of Western Exceptionalism.” High Country News. Paonia, CO. September 18, 2006. Retrieved on August 19, 2012.

Another contrast with metaReality can be found in Aleister Crowley’s Thelema. Not everyone agrees that Crowley was a libertarian. However, he was certainly an individualist:

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Aleister Crowley, The Book of the Law: Liber Al Vel Legis. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser LLC. 2004. Page 159.
Renowned as one of the greatest Occultists of all time, he [Crowley] was personally responsible for the foundation of Thelema – a magical system combining a radical form of philosophical libertarianism with an initiatory system derived from The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a magical system which was to influence many 20th-century belief systems including modern Wicca.
Jason Karl, An Illustrated History of the Haunted World. London, UK: New Holland Publishers. 2007. Page 110.
... Crowley’s very message invited misunderstanding. By naming the philosophy after the Greek word for will, thelema, Crowley ... guaranteed the term would be received with confusion. This could be clarified by referencing the primary principle of Thelema: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.” This same confused person could understandably conclude Thelema to be a libertarian creed, and would become only more confused to be told “‘Do what thou wilt’ doesn’t mean ‘Do what you like.’”
Richard Kaczynski, Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley. Revised and Expanded Edition. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books. 2010.

Perhaps one of the clearest contrasts to Bhaskar’s metaReality can be found in Ayn Rand’s (1905-1982) Objectivism:

My philosophy [Objectivism], in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute....
... Objectivism rejects the supernatural—and any claim that individuals or groups create their own reality.
... Man’s reason is fully competent to know the facts of reality.... Reason is man’s only means of acquiring knowledge....
... Objectivism rejects any form of altruism ....
... The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that no man has the right to seek values from others by means of physical force .... The only social system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-faire capitalism.
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged. New York: New American Library (Penguin Group). 2005.
Four Hindū Systems Closest to MetaRealism

Bhaskar’s MetaRealism, the latest phase of his philosophy of Critical Realism, is neither an independent religion nor a branch of Hindūism. Nevertheless, metaRealism developed, and is historically rooted, within Hindūism. In my opinion, MetaRealism particularly resembles aspects of three traditional schools of Vedānta (Sanskrit, culmination of knowledge or, only etymologically, wit’s end) and at least one school of the Bhakti (Sanskrit for engagement or, more loosely, devotion) or, more broadly, Bhakti-Ṣūfī movement:

Properly interpretted, Vedānta is a systematic search for the ultimate Reality. Vedānta maintains that man’s nature is divine, that it is the aim of man’s life to unfold this divine nature....
According to Vedānta, Truth is universal and all mankind and all existence are one. The philosophy of Vedānta preaches the unity of God as Ultimate Reality and accepts every faith as a valid means for its own followers to realize the Truth....
It [Vedānta] is the universal religion which underlies all the religions of the world—various religions being so many expressions of this universal religion....
In order to realize the Self, one has to listen about the Truth of Ultimate Reality from the lips of an illumined soul. Then, after contemplating upon the Self, resolve that he is determined to follow the path leading to Self-realization.
A.J. Motilal, “Self-Realization through Vedānta and Yoga.” Ancient Science of Life (open-access journal). Volume III. Number I. July, 1983. Retrieved on May 27, 2013.
... the different religions are different paths to essentially the same goal, which is knowledge of, or identification with, or bringing about, the absolute. To put it in theological critical realist terms, the different main teachings of these world religions are different conceptions of the absolute....
... This split between refined and tolerant religion, on the one hand, and a religion that asserts a monopoly of truth, on the other, was very clear to me in my teens. The idea that there are different paths to the absolute is a very important feature, particularly for anyone who is going to profess a religion....
... I am not saying that desire has to be abolished, but that it has to be constellationally contained within emergent practices informed by and oriented to unconditional love and universal self-realisation.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Pages 7-8 and 161.
The rise of the Indian Bhakhti [Bhakti] movements in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries took place in the background and under the direct influence of khānaqāh-based [Persian, ẖānaqāh, lodge] Sufism of the Suhrawardī and Chishtī Orders ....
Leonard Lewisohn, “Sufism.” Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Donald M. Borchert, editor. Volume 9. Second edition. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. 2006. Pages 300-314.

Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit, eternal support), commonly called Hindūism (Persian, Hindū, from Hind, the Indus River), began to influence Bhaskar, and to spiritualize his philosophy of Critical Realism, at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Despite many resemblances to Sanātana Dharma, his new philosophy of metaReality is a distinct form of dharma (Sanskrit for support, upholding, or foundational principle). Nevertheless, comparisons can be made, in my opinion, with both Vedānta and Bhakti within Sanātana Dharma. In this section of the chapter, I will offer my own thoughts on this subject.

As I understand and use it, the concept of dharma refers to what could be called the unique genius of every person. If you look for synonyms you might think of “vocation” or “calling.” ... It is basically what a person is good at, what comes easily to them.... And everyone has a dharma, everyone has a set of things that they are best at doing. Of course, what your dharma is you might not know, it might take a long quest to actually discover what it is.... And since a  person’s dharma is socially nurtured and developed, it will also be changing in the course of their life....
... For me everyone had a right to pursue their dharma. So I came to see my own struggle to be in my dharma as part of a wider struggle for everyone to be in their dharma. I supported and identified with the civil rights movement in America, nations such as Egypt which were being bullied by the West, and so on.... ... In a way, you see, coming into your dharma is an ongoing process. To be fully in your dharma you would need to live in a society that accepted the principle of everyone being in their dharma everywhere....
... If you are not in your dharma you will be split, and in the case of the great majority of people the world itself splits them because it removes them from the possibility of their dharma.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Pages 1-2, 15, 20, and 164.

According to Śrī Acāryājī, the founder and president of the International Sanatana Dharma Society:

What we are going to see is something we can scarcely even imagine. What we are going to see is, indeed, dharma [Sanskrit for support, maintenance, or upholding] – dharma itself as the natural way. Again, not as some sectarian thing, not as some denominational phenomena. But dharma, meaning truth and spirituality, is going to become the center of our future civilization.... [W]e are, indeed, going to become a global civilization. But what is going to be the center – politically, ideologically – of that global civilization? What we’re going to experience is truly, as Kṛṣṇā says, a golden age.... What this means is that dharma is going to become the center of politics; it’s going to become the center of economics; its going to become the center of culture. It means that the judicial system is going to be reordered in accordance with dharma. Everything. And this may come as a shock to some people, but, if we understand dharma, it shouldn’t at all – actually.... Dharma is going to become the center of all human culture. And what’s amazing is that it’s going to do this without war. It’s going to do this without needing to convert anyone. It’s going to do this, in fact, not even through the traditional vehicle of religion. It’s going to do so spiritually. It’s going to do so because all ... human beings want to know God. All human beings want to know themselves. All human beings want to have meaning in their lives.... All people want to have happiness in their life. And it’s for this reason that people are going to embrace dharma. And, again, what I say, “embrace dharma,” I’m not talking about conversion. On the contrary, I’m talking about embracing nature – embracing who and what they truly are within – embracing truth.... So, this is what the future holds for all of us – it’s this global transformation that’s about to take place.
Śrī Dharma Pravartaka Acāryā (Sanskrit, his magesty the maintainer, authority, teacher a.k.a. Frank Morales, Ph.D.), “The Coming Golden Age.” Retrieved (transcribed) from YouTube on April 21, 2013.

Nonduality and monism should not be mistaken for one another. Unfortunately, some sources, such as the commonly (mis)used Wikipedia®, confuse these terms:

Monism is any philosophical view which holds that there is unity in a given field of inquiry. Accordingly, some philosophers may hold that the universe is one rather than dualistic or pluralistic. Monisms may be theologically syncretic by proposing that there is one God who has many manifestations in the diverse religious traditions.
Monism,” Wikipedia. San Francisco: Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved on January 22, 2012.

That is not entirely accurate. Monism and nonduality address different metaphysical questions. Although proponents of nonduality contend that reality is an undivided whole, monists argue that the separate beings and things of existence emanate from a single source or share the same substance. As ādvaita is a monistic nonduality, dvaita becomes a monistic duality. Meanwhile, in Christian Trinitarianism, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are separate Persons (an expansion of duality to threefold pluralism), but They are composed of a single divine substance (monism). Plotinus was a monist, but Ken Wilber is nondual thinker:

... Plotinus taught that the One is the highest reality. The One is the source of everything in existence and remains separate from all that has emanated from it ....
The general scholarly consensus ... is that monism best describes Plotinus’s conception of reality: the cosmos is a unified whole that emanates from a single source, the One....
Wilber doesn’t believe that the cosmos consists of wholes and parts. Instead, there are only holons, wholes that are parts of other wholes. So each whole is simultaneously a part, a whole/part, a holon. This contention supports Wilber’s theory that reality is nondual ....
Wilber ... says that there are no individual entities anywhere in the cosmos.
Brian Hines, What Wilber gets wrong about Plotinus. Retrieved on January 22, 2012.

In Bhaskar’s metaReality, the ultimate objective of any emancipatory project is the nondual cosmic envelope. Effectively, Bhaskar has retooled his emphasis upon emancipation into a type of moksha (Sanskrit, mokṣa, release or liberation) within many branches of Hindūism:

... moksha ... [is] equivalent to what I have been calling self- (and at the further stage, god-) realisation....
... it should come as no surprise that we would be able to show that the goal of self-realisation and universal self-realisation are implicit in the structures of emancipatory discourses and projects, that they are implicit in the logic of the emancipatory project itself....
Having argued that secular utopias presuppose individual and universal self-realisation, it will probably come as no surprise to the reader that I am going to argue that religious emancipatory discourses presuppose the same.
Roy Bhaskar, The Philosophy of MetaReality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. New York: Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group). 2012. Kindle edition
Building on a radically new analysis of the self, human agency and society, Roy Bhaskar shows how the world of alienation and crisis we currently inhabit is sustained by the ground-state qualities of intelligence, creativity, love, a capacity for right-action and a potential for human self-realisation or fulfilment. He then demonstrates how transcendence and non-duality are necessary and ubiquitous features of all social interaction and human agency; and how these and connected features of human being and activity sustain the totality of the structures of the world of duality and oppression in which we live. Moreover, meta-Reality argues that any objective an agent chooses in life will ultimately set him or her on a process or dialectic to self-realisation, entailing a commitment to universal self-realisation; and it shows how these goals or ideals are explicit or implicit in all emancipatory projects, of whatever political, social or religious declension. Furthermore they all imply the same principles of clarity and commitment to social transformation (on all the planes of social being), which Roy Bhaskar articulates here. In a very real sense he demonstrates how these principles, for the first time clearly elaborated here in meta-Reality, are indeed the culmination of all traditions of thought and practice oriented to human well-being, emancipation or flourishing.
Publisher’s Description of the book, Reality: The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom.

Moksha was one of the major tenets within the Ādvaita (Sanskrit, nondual) Vedānta of classical Indian philosopher, Adi Shankara (Sanskrit, Ādi Śaṅkara also known as Ādi Śaṅkarācāri, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya, and Śaṅkara Bhagavatpādācārya, 788 A.D.-820 A.D.):

... it seems that Shankara’s moksha  is not a purely negative condition—that it is not the actual annihilation of the individual, but its freedom from ... the ignorant assumption of its independent existence.
Sita Nath Datta (translator), Sankaracharya: His Life and Teachings. A Translation of Atma-Bodhi. Second Edition. Calcutta. Society for the Resuscitation of Indian Literature. 1898. Page 40.

Although Bhaskar has no particular religious loyalty, he agrees with Shankara’s vision of higher truth:

I do not have any specific religious convictions. Or rather, I would say that I subscribe to something like Shankara’s higher truth. All religions are paths to the absolute, but none are strictly necessary; nor is it necessary to have a religion as such, if one has, for instance, the secular spirituality situated by the philosophy of meta-Reality....
I firmly believed that the distinction Shankara introduced between the higher truth and the ordinary truth, which I sketched in our first interview, is very relevant here. The higher truth, known to the esoteric, sees all religions as so many different paths to the absolute; the ordinary truth, which is what the masses believe, proclaims a monopoly of truth. The higher truth is actually present as a lived reality in most of the major religious traditions and practices: in Judaism you have Kaballah; in Christianity you had the mystics and latterly you have the varieties of liberation and some liberal, postmodern and (recently) critical realist theology, and so on; in Islam you have Sufism, which tries to incorporate the best insights from, for example, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity; and in India you have the paths sketched out by the Vedantic mystics, and by Buddha and Krishna, all of which were differentiated from popular religion. So Shankara’s distinction is there in actuality, but of course it has to be acknowledged that we can no longer afford to accept that it is permanent. The time for the higher truth to become the ordinary truth has arrived; and so we have to understand that, although on the “holy trinity” of critical realism I must give rational grounds for the beliefs I have, and I might be able to say that my path is the best path for me, it does not necessarily follow that it is the best path for you, or him, or her. For other people have their own rhythmics, and might have very good reasons for preferring another path to the absolute. These considerations ground religious diversity in a way that contradicts the formal teachings of most religions and yet is implicitly practised by their higher saints and teachers.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 148 and 151.

On the other hand, unlike Shankara, Bhaskar does not deny the existence of duality (relative reality or difference) and dualism (demireality or disunity):

... when Shankara talked about what I call demi-reality as an illusion, he did not clarify that illusion is real, as real as steel; it is not just the absolute that is real.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 204.
... in meta-Reality ... there are layers of duality within the cosmic envelope or within non-duality and then layers of demi-reality within duality. But they are all distinct concepts.
Roy Bhaskar (with Mervyn Hartwig), The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 99.
The world of demi-reality is a world of illusion, a world of falsities, which are nevertheless causally efficacious.
Roy Bhaskar, meta-Reality: The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2002. Page xxii.

Therefore, perhaps Visishtadvaita (Sanskrit, Viśiṣṭādvaita, qualified nonduality) Vedanta is a bit closer to Bhaskar’s philosophy of meta-Reality. Rāmānujar (possibly 1017 A.D.-1137 A.D.) was the school’s most important proponent. Like Advaita Vedanta, but unlike Achintya-Bheda-Abheda, Visishtadvaita Vedanta emphasizes the goal of moksha. However, when contrasted with the absolute nonduality of Advaita Vedanta, the nonduality of Visishtadvaita Vedanta is qualified. God is one, but He has multiple attributes:

If the Lord has no attributes, no qualities, how can He protect the world? How can He give Salvation or Moksha to the Jivatma [Sanskrit, jīvātma, individual self]?
FAQ: Advaita, Vishistadvaita and Dvaita.
Visishtadvaita is also an Advaita, since only God the Absolute, omnipresent Self exists. However, our concept of God refers to that Supreme Entity which contains all within itself; the entire universe, including all living beings, are fundamentally real and internally distinguishable from one another.
However, there is only one total reality, as God includes all existence within Its very being. The individual selves and the universe exist as God’s attributes, since God pervades absolutely everything and gifts these substances with their reality. In other words, God is the indwelling Self of all, and this “all” is real as they are included in His body. Therefore, Visishtadvaita literally means non-duality of the qualified, since God is qualified by innumerable glorious attributes, including individual selves and matter.
Liberation is eternal communion and service of God, the supreme, infinite, blissful Absolute. Ramanuja writes that such liberation is achieved by constant meditation on God’s supreme perfections .... His nature as the First Cause of All. Such meditation, when practiced with a pure heart and mind and filled with extreme love, will yield a better and better conception of God in the mind of devotee over time ....
Dvaita vs. Advaita.

However, the philosophy of Achintya-Bheda-Abheda (Sanskrit, Acintyabhedābheda, inconceivable oneness and difference) may be a fairer approximation to Bhaskar’s stated position. This system of Hindūism belongs to the Gauḍīyā (Sanskrit for the Gauḍa territory now in Bengal, India, and in Bangladesh) Vaiṣṇava (Sanskrit for Viṣṇu or Vishnu worship) tradition. The Hindū reformer and founder of the school, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Sanskrit, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, 1486–1534 A.D.), advocated a form of Bhakti worship, technically distinct from Vedānta, through chanting the Names of Krishna (Sanskrit, Kṛṣṇā).

Glory to the Śrī–Kṛṣṇā–saṅkīrtana [Sanskrit, श्री–कृष्ण–संकीर्तन, “Śrī Kṛṣṇā chanting”], which cleanses the heart of all the dust accumulated for years and extinguishes the fire of conditional life, of repeated birth and death. This saṅkīrtana [Sanskrit, संकीर्तन, “chanting”] movement is the prime benediction for humanity at large because it spreads the rays of the benediction moon. It is the life of all transcendental knowledge. It increases the ocean of transcendental bliss, and it enables us to fully taste the nectar for which we are always anxious.
O my Lord, Your holy name alone can render all benediction to living beings, and thus You have hundreds and millions of names, like Kṛṣṇā [Sanskrit, कृष्ण, “dark one”] and Goviṃdā [Sanskrit, गोविंदा, “protector of cows”]. In these transcendental names You have invested all Your transcendental energies. There are not even hard and fast rules for chanting these names. O my Lord, out of kindness You enable us to easily approach You by Your holy names, but I am so unfortunate that I have no attraction for them.
One should chant the holy name of the Lord in a humble state of mind, thinking oneself lower than the straw in the street; one should be more tolerant than a tree, devoid of all sense of false prestige, and should be ready to offer all respect to others. In such a state of mind one can chant the holy name of the Lord constantly.
O almighty Lord, I have no desire to accumulate wealth, nor do I desire beautiful women, nor do I want any number of followers. I only want Your causeless devotional service, birth after birth.
O son of Mahārāja Naṃdā [Sanskrit, महाराज नंदा, Great or Exalted King of Joy, i.e., Kṛṣṇā’s custodial or “foster” father], I am Your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at Your lotus feet.
O my Lord, when will my eyes be decorated with tears of love flowing constantly when I chant Your holy name? When will my voice choke up, and when will the hairs of my body stand on end at the recitation of Your name?
O Goviṃdā! Feeling Your separation, I am considering a moment to be like twelve years or more. Tears are flowing from my eyes like torrents of rain, and I am feeling all vacant in the world in Your absence.
I know no one but Kṛṣṇā as my Lord, and He shall remain so even if He handles me roughly by His embrace or makes me brokenhearted by not being present before me. He is completely free to do anything and everything, for He is always my worshipful Lord, unconditionally.
Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Śrī Śikṣāṣṭakam (Sanskrit, श्री शिक्षाष्टकम्) A complete translation of the only known text by Caitanya.

Bhaskar also places considerable emphasis on love:

... the domain of caring and unconditional love, reciprocity and solidarity, and creativity, in which we actually embody some of the teachings of Christ and other great religious teachers, but which is occluded and thwarted by the smog of the demi-real.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 163.

According to Kundali Dasa, Caitanya’s teachings were realistic:

Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu taught that the solution to the manifold sufferings of humanity isn’t the “boil-blowing,” patchwork schemes of various social, economic, and political ideologies. The solution is to extricate ourselves from the material world altogether and return back home to Godhead. This is the realistic teaching of Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, and it was to teach this practical message that He took the vow of renunciation.
Kundali Dasa, “The Glories of Lord Caitanya, Part 8.” Back To Godhead. Online periodical from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). September 1st, 1985. Volume 20. Number 09. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.

The most well-known contemporary spiritual movement which identifies with Chaitanya’s philosophy includes the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), founded by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabupada (Sanskrit, Abhaya Caraṇāravinda Bhaktīvedānta Svāmī Prabhupāda, 1896 A.D.-1977 A.D.), and various factions of the Kṛṣṇā Consciousness (or Hārē Kṛṣṇā) Movement that developed after Prabupada’s death. Still, there are many branches of Gauḍīyā Vaiṣṇava with no historical relationship to ISKCON. Unlike Shankara, Chaitanya embraced the reality of both ādvaita and dvaita:

“Achintya Bheda Abheda” is a school of Vedanta, representing the philosophy of inconceivable oneness and difference, in relation to the power creation and creator (Krishna), Svayam Bahagavan and also between God and His energies within the Gaudiya Vaishanava religious tradition.
In Sanskirt, “achintya” menas “inconceivable.” “bheda” translates as “difference,” and “abheda” translates as “one-ness.” It is believed that this philosophy was taught by the movement’s theological founder Sree Caitanya Mahapravu (1486 A.D.-1534 A.D.) and differentiates Gaudiya tradition from the other Vaishnava sampradayas [traditions of Vishnu worship]. It can be best understood as integral monism, as a position between polar opposites of absolute monism of Advaita and the dualist monism of Dvaita.
Sri Chaitanya Transcendental Society. Retrieved on December 26, 2011.

According to Lord Chaitanya, the object of one’s life should not be be a release from the cycle reincarnation (moksha or mukti) but a higher emancipation through devotion. Although some of Chaitanya’s followers have emphasized moksha or mukti, Chaitanya himself considered the desire for moksha, in the strict sense of the term, to be an obstacle on the spiritual path:

Moksha is a selfish desire to have, one should never desire Moksha. That is the wrong goal according to Sri Chaitanya. The goal of the Human Entities is to simply love Krishna. Love of Godhead is the Goal. One should not wish to be in Goloka [Kṛṣṇā’s eternal abode], or anywhere. Wherever one is, one should simply love, serve, and think about Krishna and His glorious pastimes. That is the goal, to love Krishna. Community. Retrieved on December 26, 2011.
The Caitanya school also has some original contribution to the understanding of the final freedom of man. Caitanya himself avoids the term mokṣa and uses bhakti for the ultimate goal. But some of his followers use the word mukti [Sanskrit, liberation, from the same root as mokṣa] without hesitation, and they even speak of jīvan mukti [Sanskrit, living liberation], liberation while still living in a body on earth, besides ... [other] forms of mukti after death. The jīva [Sanskrit, living being] never loses his identity; but in sāyūjya mukti, the highest form of perfection, he is completely immersed in divine bliss and experiences the hldinī Śakti [Sanskrit, power or accomplishment of pleasure potency] of Kṛṣṇā as his own.
Klaus K. Klostermaier, Mythologies and Philosophies of Salvation in the Theistic Traditions of India. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press. 1984. Page 263.
Krishna consciousness means an awareness of and affection for the Supreme Person, Krishna. It is the culmination of all forms of yoga, knowledge, meditation, and religion....
The practices of Krishna consciousness, or bhakti-yoga, are meant to free us from the root cause of all anxiety by reawakening our normal, spiritual awareness. The process is simple-meditation on the name, form, activities, and qualities of Krishna, whom the Vedas name as the ultimate, Absolute Truth, the Supreme Person. Of course, the Supreme Person may be known by different names in different religious cultures, but all genuine spiritual traditions agree that there's only one Supreme God. The goal of bhakti-yoga is to regain our natural sense of connectedness (yoga) with that one supreme God by practicing serving Him with love (bhakti).
Krishna Consciousness (Bhakti-yoga). March 28, 2013. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.

According to this writer, chanting Hārē Kṛṣṇā is, Caitanya said, the highest means of emancipation:

Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu appeared in Mayupur, India, in the town of Nadia, on Febuary 18 1486. There is no difference between the teachings of Lord Chaitanya and the teachings of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita. Lord Chaitanya, also known as The Golden Avatar, re-established the doctrine of Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion) as the topmost means for attaining love of God. The teachings of Lord Chaitanya are non-sectarian, accessible to all casts and creeds, regardless of religious affiliation, and are available to men, women, and children alike. Lord Chaitanya propounded personalism and our eternal relationship with Lord Krishna, culminating in loving devotion, enacted in the spiritual kingdom since time immemorial. Due to the illusory nature of this material realm we have forgotten our eternal existence. Although He is considered non-different to Krishna, Lord Chaitanya advented Himself as a devotee of Lord Krishna, in order to propagate the Hare Krishna maha mantra [Sanskrit, mahā mantrā, great mantrā, i.e., Hārē Kṛṣṇā, Hārē Kṛṣṇā, Kṛṣṇā Kṛṣṇā, Hārē Hārē, Hārē Rāma, Hārē Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hārē Hārē] as the sublime means of emancipation in this present age of quarrel and hypocracy. Retrieved on June 16, 2013.

For instance, A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabupada did refer to liberation (Sanskrit, mukti). The key to attaining liberation is, according to him, Kṛṣṇā consciousness and devotional service:

Mukti, liberation... The impersonalists think that simply by cultivating knowledge that “I am not matter; I am spirit,” or “I am one with the Supreme Spirit; I am now... Out of ignorance, I am thinking different, but when I am fully elevated to the platform of knowledge, then I become liberated.”...
So Lord Caitanya says that “Simply by thinking that ‘I am not this matter; I am spirit soul, ahaṁ brahmāsmi. I am Brahman [in Sanskrit],’ that will not help you to get liberation.” The real fact is that the individual living entities, they are part and parcel of the Supreme, but somehow or other, they wanted separation from the Supreme and wanted to lord it over the material nature. Therefore they are entangled. That is the real fact. And as such, we find from the Bhagavad-gītā, the Lord asked ... “Just surrender.” So therefore, unless there is surrender of the individual soul to the Supreme, there is no question of liberation. There is no question of liberation. You can cultivate knowledge that “I am not this body; I am spirit soul,” but that will not help for your liberation. Because real thing is that you have or we have rebelled against the supremacy of the Supreme Lord....
... Now, so far, in confirmation of this statement that knowledge, cultivation of knowledge, is not sufficient to give one liberation—one must take to devotional service....
... Those who are actually, seriously in devotional service, in Kṛṣṇā consciousness, they will not lack in knowledge .... So a sincere soul in Kṛṣṇā consciousness will not lack in knowledge.... So those who are actually serious in engaging themselves in Kṛṣṇā consciousness, devotional service, for them knowledge is secondary. Knowledge automatically revealed to them. And those who do not take to the Kṛṣṇā consciousness, devotional service, simply indulge in dry speculation, for them liberation is not possible. Not possible....
... So a sincere soul in Kṛṣṇā consciousness will not lack in knowledge....
Therefore Lord Caitanya says that suppose an intelligent brāhmaṇa [Sanskrit, praised one, namely, a member of the highest Indian caste] he’s very learned scholar and great philosopher, big thinker.... Everything is all right. But he has no relationship in the matter of rendering service to the Supreme Lord. That is minus. That means learned scholar minus Kṛṣṇā consciousness.... Anyone, if he is minus Kṛṣṇā consciousness, then the result is that ... : “By doing, by executing his specific duty, he's going to hell.” Hell. It is fact. He’s thinking that “I am doing my duty,” but he’s going to hell.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabupada, Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Madhya-līlā 22.21-28. January 11, 1967. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.
Servant is declaring to become master; therefore suffering. And as soon as we accept that “I am not master; I am servant,” then there is no suffering. Very simple philosophy. That is mukti. Mukti means just come to the right platform. That is mukti.... Mukti means to give up this nonsense business, anyathā [Sanskrit for other or opposite]. He is servant, but he’s thinking master. That is ankathā, just the opposite. So when he gives up this opposite conception of life that he is master, then he is mukti; he’s liberated immediately. Mukti does not take so much time that you have to undergo so much severe austerities and go to the jungle and go to the Himalaya and meditate and press your nose and so many things. It doesn't require so many things. Simply you understand plain thing, that “I am servant of Kṛṣṇā”—you are mukta immediately.
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabupada, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta Lectures. Retrieved on May 6, 2013.

Like Achintya-Bheda-Abheda, Dvaitādvaita (Sanskrit for nonduality/duality) Vedānta integrates nonduality with duality. Because, however, the importance of moksha or release from reincarnation was minimized by Caitanya even if, admittedly, not by all his followers, Bhaskar’s metaReality could also be compared, to a degree, with Dvaitādvaita. According to this school, which is associated with Nimbarka (Sanskrit, Śrī Nimbārkācārya, thirteenth century A.D.?), an individual is emancipated, through moksha, by surrendering to God. Ontologically, both duality and nonduality are real, from a Dvaitādvaita perspective, but duality is encompassed by nonduality.

Nimbarka’s philosophy is known as Dvaitadvaita , meaning existence of duality and non duality at the same time....
This aspect can be better understood by the example of Waves on the ocean . They exist because of the ocean , yet are distinct entities. The water in the wave is the same as that in the ocean , that is to say a part of the ocean is in the wave. The wave has no separate existence other than in the ocean. Similarly , Chit [Sanskrit, cit, spirit] and Achit [Sanskrit, acit, matter] have the essence of Brahman [Sanskrit, Brāhmana, Absolute? or God] in them , yet are distinct and dependent on Brahman. Thus is explained the philosophy of ... Duality and Nonduality existing simultaneously.
“Difference” or “duality” refers to the separate but dependent existence of soul and matter ..., while “non-difference” or “non-duality” means that it is impossible for soul and matter to exist independently of God ....
God as Radha Krishna, is the Supreme reality, free from all defects personifies goodness, Radha being the ... latent power of Shri Krishna. God is both the efficient and material cause of the universe.
Akhil Bharatiya Nimbarkacharya Peeth. Retrieved on December 27, 2011.
The philosophy of Nimbārka (fl. mid-fourteenth century?) is generally known as Svābhāvika Bhedābheda [Sanskrit for natural difference-nondifference] or Dvaitādvaita.... Presumably influenced by Rāmānuja, Nimbārka assumes the ultimate reality of the three entities, namely, Paramātman [Sanskrit for highest self or spirit] or Puruṣottama [Sanskrit for highest person] (God), Jīva [Sanskrit for living entity], and Jagat [Sanskrit for universe or materiality].... [A]ccording to him, God actually transforms himself into the world of material objects and individual souls, but does not lose himself in these. He is simultaneously one with (abheda) and distinct from (bheda) the world of jīvas [Sanskrit, jīvaḥ, living entities] and matter. This is so, not because of any imposition or supposition (upādhi), but because of the specific peculiarity of God’s spiritual nature (svabhāva). God alone has independent existence, while individual souls and matter, which are but derivative parts of God, are entirely dependent on and controlled by him. Liberation in Nimbārka’s theory implies realization of and participation in the true nature of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa (who is the ultimate brahman) and is possible only through Kṛṣṇa’s grace.
R. N. Dandekar, “Vedānta.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Lindsay Jones, editor. Second edition. Volume 14. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA (Gale, Cengage Learning), 2005. Pages 9543-9549.
Nimbarka holds that the relation of God to the soul and the world is one of identity in difference. The soul and the world are different from God, because they are endowed with qualities different from those of God. At the same time, they are not different from God, because God is omnipresent and they depend entirely on Him....
... Nimbarka says that both difference and non-difference are real. The soul and the world are different from Brahman, as they are endowed with natures and qualities different from those of Brahman. They are not different, as they cannot exist by themselves and as they depend absolutely on Brahman. Such a relation exists between the sun and its rays. the fire and its sparks. The souls and matter are distinct from God, but they are closely connected with Him-as waves with water, or coils of a rope with the rope itself. They are both distinct and non-distinct from Brahman....
Prapatti [Sanskrit for surrender, reliance, or seeking refuge] or complete surrender to God is the way to release. God showers His grace on His devotees who make complete self-surrender. The Lord generates devotion in them which results in God-realisation.
All About Hinduism. Divine Life Society. 1997.
MetaReality and the Unicentric Paradigm

Previous turns of Critical Realism were, to Bhaskar, representational realist philosophies of relativity and duality. However, the philosophy of metaReality is not a conceptual framework. It is a model, a manual, and a methodology for a nondual, transcendental emancipation from the limits of pure duality. Ultimately, unity, not dualistic individual freedom, is the avenue to self-realization and emancipation. Free speech is speech which frees the dominated. In addition to Bhaskar’s cosmic envelope and my Unities of All Things, my unific and emancipatory Autism project may, I hope, result in metaReality.

Fighting Neurelitism™  (neurological elitism) is the heart of this clinical sociology actvity. Neurelitism, a term coined here for a type of sanism, results in disability or oppression. As a social-and-economic development project for Autists and the similarly dissimilar  (other developmentally disabled persons), we value United Nations human rights....
Spiritually, we fight Neurelitism by our unity with humanity. We fight by praying for the inner healing, and targeted scientific cures, of Autism’s empathy problems and other negative traits. When applying The Echoing Practice (a heart meditation) and Echoes of Cosmic Unity, we become emancipated Autists. In Dialectical metaRealism, emancipation occurs through the interconnectedness between all things (a cosmic envelope).
Mark A. Foster, United Against Neurelitism. Retrieved on May 14, 2012.

Unless God wills otherwise, I expect to always be, neurologically, on the Autism spectrum. Its oppression has haunted me throughout my life. As a child, I was bullied, beaten up by peers, and given mind-numbing drugs and electric shock treatments. The bullying has continued, off and on, as an adult. When my diagnosis was clarified on the Autism spectrum, I became an Autistic activist. A few years later, through a sudden Autistic “special interest” in Ṣūfism, I developed Heartfulness Inquiry™. While practicing it, I unexpectedly discovered the cosmic envelope. Spiritually, in my struggles against Autism, I was finally emancipated by Unity and His unities or an all-embracing inclusiveness.

... what I was doing in meta-Reality was uncovering the most basic ground for the emancipatory projects I had been talking about since my earliest writings.
Roy Bhaskar with Mervyn Hartwig, The Formation of Critical Realism: A Personal Perspective. New York: Routledge. 2010. Page 173.
... the spiritual turn – it is in my latest round of work, which I call the philosophy of meta-reality – ... has brought me a lot of unpopularity but which I see as a logical development of Critical Realism. There is no commitment to any theological position. In these works it is given a completely secular vindication. Actually I think this is a very important model for peace research and for social campaigns in general. It’s also very important for projects of democratization and indeed all the social project which involve collective action – for these all involve the idea of agents coming together at a level (the level which I call their ground-states) which will transcend and/or reconcile their competing and contingently conflicting partisan or sectarian human interests.
Roy Bhaskar quoted in Reconstructing Global Connectedness: The Complementary Roles of Philosophy and Social Sciences – A conversation with Roy Bhaskar and Heikki Patomäki. Edited by Matti Jutila. 2005. Retrieved on December 31, 2011.

As I was bullied as an Autistic child, Bhaskar was persecuted for his ethnic ancestry. Since expanding his philosophy to embrace his paternal Indian background, he began using his first name, Ram (Sanskrit, Rāma, black one):

At primary school Bhaskar dropped “Ram” from his name as part of a strategy to avoid intense racist bullying.
Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science. New York: Routledge. 2008. Page xii.
[Ram Roy Bhaskar] is the name Bhaskar was given at birth and by which he now prefers to be known. He dropped “Ram” while at primary school ... and only started to use it again at the turn of the century, when his philosophy explicitly came to encompass aspects of his Indian heritage.
Roy Bhaskar, A Realist Theory of Science. New York: Routledge. 2008. Page xxi.

In certain respects, the Unicentric Paradigm resembles Neoplatonism. However, the Unicentric Paradigm, following my personal understandings of many Bahá’í texts, reconfigures and transforms a Neoplatonic approach to essences or unities into a critical realist perspective. Plotinus (205 A.D.-270 A.D.), who is sometimes regarded as the originator of Neoplatonism, has usually been interpreted as an objective idealist:

... Plotinus sets out a system according to which all reality issues spontaneously, coordinately, and timelessly from a single transcendent and inexpressible source called the One or the Good. This process of emanation produces a hierarchical world order in which each successive form of reality (hypostasis [Late Latin from Ancient Greek, upóstasis]) images its superior at a lower level of unity.... From this point of view, the structure of Plotinus’s cosmos corresponds to the route that consciousness takes in contemplative activity as it moves from dispersion to integration. The highest normal level of consciousness is the unified awareness that belongs to Intellect [Ancient Greek, Noūs], but in moments of mystical ecstasy the soul—as Plotinus records from his own experience—achieves a loss of particular selfhood in union with the One [Late Latin, Monad, from Ancient Greek, Monás].
Claudio Moreschini, “Platonism.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Edited by Lindsay Jones. Vol. 11. 2nd edition. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. 2005. Pages 7187-7193.
To a large extent, the plausibility of Plotinus’ version of an objective idealism ... rests on the plausibility of his conception of matter.
Riccardo Chiaradonna and Franco Trabattoni (editors), Physics and Philosophy of Nature in Greek Neoplatonism: Proceedings of the European Science Foundation. Leiden, the Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. 2009. Page 135.
The father of objective idealism was Plato ....
Evert van der Zweerde, Soviet Historiography of Philosophy. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 1997. Page 117.

The fabric of existence, as described by the Unicentric Paradigm, is a divinely patterned, multilayered enfoldment or involution (involvement) of unities and their attributes (including beings and things). This perspective on universal oneness is comparable to the cosmic envelope. As Bhaskar related this cosmic envelope to a Vedic context, I applied it as Bahá’í. Although the Unicentric Paradigm is a panentheism (from the Greek, everything in God) of the Unity through unities, the framework is also, to coin a term, a type of panenontology (from the Greek, everything in existence).

In Greek pan means “all,” theos means “god,” and en means “in.” Pantheism means that all is God; panentheism, that all is in God.
Charles Hartshorne, “Pantheism and Panentheism.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Volume 10. Lindsay Jones, editor. Detroit: Macmillan Reference. 2005. Pages 6960-6965.

That is to say, unifying essences, along with their names and attributes (as beings and things), are enfolded within other unifying esssences. The Sovereignty, Might, and Dominion of God encompass all five kingdoms of being:

Split the atom’s heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun. [Persian mystic poem]
Persian mystic poem quoted by Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 12.
... matter [is] ... the product of a logically prior moment of involution, prior to its being enfolded, and far prior to its being unfolded in the natural process of evolution as we are all familiar with.
Roy Bhaskar, Reality: The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2002. Page 21.
An involution of of the Divine Existence, the spiritual Reality, in the apparent inconscience of Matter is the starting-point of the evolution. But that Reality is in its nature an eternal Existence, Consciousness, Delight of Existence: the evolution must then be an emergence of this Existence, Consciousness, Delight of Existence, not at first in its essence or totality but in evolutionary forms that express or disguise it.... That integral emergence is the goal of evolving Nature.
Śrī Aurobindo, The Life Divine. Pondicherry, India: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press. 2005. Pages 710-711.

To my understanding, in the cosmic envelope, consciousness is based upon enfoldments of nonduality or unity. Nonduality or unity is not the product of mental conceptions, ideal forms, or states of consciousness. Therefore, the philosophy of metaReality is not, contrary to what some have argued, an idealist system. Instead, God is described as a real unifying and loving power. He is “the cement of the universe” or, as Bhaskar refers to the levels of duality or dialectic, or mechanisms of change, the pluriverse:

Love expands, binds, unites and heals (making whole), and thus is crucial to yoga and de-alienation or re-union. God is inter alia  but essentially love. As such, God is truly the cement of the universe, binding it together with the unifying power of love, in holistic and heterocosmic causality. The dialectics of de-alienation (of retotalisation) are all essentially dialectics of love: of love of self (→Self), of each and all (→Totality), and, in both inner and outer movements, both as essentially love of God. The essence of liberated man is therefore love of God, and God, we could say, is not only essentially love but essentially to be loved.
This, then is God as unconditional  love, as the unifying, totalizing, liberating  power of the universe. Conversely attachment and aversion, and the conditionalities which characterize them, are at once tendentially, auto-subversive and karmically binding.
Roy Bhaskar, From East to West: Odyssey of a Soul. New York: Routledge. 2000. Page 44.
... we are inhabitants of a dialectical pluriverse, characterized by complex, plural, contradictory, differentiated, disjoint but also coalescing and condensing development and antagonistic struggles over discursively moralized power relations ....
Mervyn Hartwig (introduction) to Roy Bhaskar, Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom. New York: Routledge. 2008. Page 261.

Unity (Sanskrit, ādvaita, nonduality) may be contrasted with diversity or plurality. Diversity, however, is the duality (Sanskrit, dvaita) between selves and others or subjects and objects. Since unifying essences are unknowable, subject-object dualities are, I feel, unavoidable in all the universes (or omniverse) and other lifeworlds of God. Bhaskar also regards metaReality as emancipatory agency through nonduality, not as a “system of thought.” Similarly, with the Unicentric Paradigm, structurization is emancipatory agency through unity.

The philosophy of metaReality was the flowering of Bhaskar’s transcendental dialectical Critical Realism. However, the distinction between duality and nonduality is of central importance to his philosophy. Critical Realism, as he later explained it, was, in its previous stages, a philosophy about duality. MetaReality, while incorporating aspects of those earlier phases, focuses upon nonduality, not duality. Because realism  presumes, in his view, a duality of subject and object, metaReality is, it appears, emancipation or self-realization through the universal, nondual ground-state (cosmic envelope) of realism.

... dialectical critical realism must develop into a philosophy of (universal) self-realisation, which can be characterised as a transcendental dialectical Critical Realism ....
Roy Bhaskar, From East to West: Odyssey of a Soul. New York: Routledge. 2000. Page x.
Perhaps it is best not to call the philosophy of meta-Reality a realism, as realism connotes the idea of a split or opposition between a world and its description, that is insofar as the very concept of realism is dualistic.
Roy Bhaskar, Reality: The Philosophy of meta-Reality, Volume 1, Creativity, Love and Freedom. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2002. Page xxiii.

Through the realism of unfettering agency, not through speculative idealism, we demonstrate our universal interdependence and inclusion. If, as Bhaskar asserts, we are all interconnected, then the Marxian dialectic (contradiction) of capitalist economic oppression and social alienation, and other dialectics and dualisms, are resolved through an existential nonduality. The emancipatory aspirations of the intellectual left are resolved, not abandoned, in the ground-state of unity. Ultimately, according to Bhaskar, the real relations of the dialectic can be fulfilled as God realization and self-realization:

Within the new outlook [the philosophy of meta-Reality], it [the dialectic] retains all its purchase on the world of duality and oppressive dualism, at the heart of which is its demonstration of the irrepressible conatus [persistence] to freedom immanent in human praxis as such.
Mervyn Hartwig (introduction) in Roy Bhaskar, Dialectic: The Pulse of Freedom. New York: Routledge. 2008. Page xxvi.
In a capitalist world and a bourgeois society, socialism will never be simple sense. But what we can hope to aspire to is the dawning of a new enlightenment, a socialist enlightenment which will stand to some future order of things, as the eighteenth-century bourgeois enlightenment stood to the American Declaration of Independence, the French revolution and the overthrow of colonial slavery for which it helped to prepare the cultural ground....
... Individualism is a pretty pure ideology of the market, at least as we have it now.
Roy Bhaskar, Reclaiming Reality: A Critical Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy (Classical Texts in Critical Realism). New York: Routledge. 2011. Kindle edition.
Other Illustrations

Another example of metaReality, which appears in the writings of Scottish evangelist Henry Drummond (1851-1897), appears to combine the Aristotelian model of four kingdoms (mineral, vegetable, animal, and human) with the New Testament concept of the Kingdom of Heaven. In that respect, his approach resembles the one sometimes taken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Ultimately, Drummond arrived at a similar emancipatory position to the Unicentric Paradigm:

The perfection of unity is attained where there is infinite variety of phenomena, infinite complexity of relation, but great simplicity of Law. Science will be complete when all known phenomena can be arranged in one vast circle in which a few well known Laws shall form the radii—these radii at once separating and uniting, separating into particular groups, yet uniting all to a common centre. To show that the radii for some of the most characteristic phenomena of the Spiritual World are already drawn within that circle by science is the main object of the papers which follow....
First, we find at the bottom of everything the Mineral or Inorganic Kingdom.... It is thus absolutely essential to the Kingdom above it. And the more minutely the detailed structure and ordering of the whole fabric are investigated it becomes increasingly apparent that the Inorganic Kingdom is the preparation for, and the prophecy of, the Organic.
Second, we come to the world next in order, the world containing plant, and animal, and man, the Organic Kingdom. Its characteristics are, first, that so far as the sphere above it is concerned it is dead; and, second, although dead it supplies in turn the basis of life to the Kingdom next in order. And the more minutely the detailed structure and ordering of the whole fabric are investigated, it is obvious, in turn, that the Organic Kingdom is the preparation for, and the prophecy of, the Spiritual.
Third, and highest, we reach the Spiritual Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Heaven....
... The Third [Kingdom] is ushered in by the appearance, among these onceborn organisms, of forms of life which have been born again—twiceborn organisms.
Henry Drummond, Natural Law in the Spiritual World. London: Hodder and Stroughton. Twenty-ninth edition. 1890.

Carl Jung (1875-1961), the originator of analytical psychology, was emancipated from the “exclusively personal” Freudian unconscious through his idealistic collective unconscious of archetypes:

Whereas the personal unconscious consists for the most part of complexes, the content of the collective unconscious is made up essentially of archetypes.
The concept of the archetype, which is an indispensable correlate of the idea of the collective unconscious, indicates the existence of definite forms in the psyche which seem to be present always and everywhere. Mythological research calls them “motifs”; in the psychology of primitives they correspond to [Lucien] Levy-Bruhl’s concept of “representations collectives,” and in the field of comparative religion they have been defined by [Henri] Hubert and [Marcel] Mauss as “categories of the imagination.” Adolf Bastian long ago called them “elementary” or “primordial thoughts.” From these references it should be clear enough that my idea of the archetype—literally a pre-existent form—does not stand alone but is something that is recognized and named in other fields of knowledge.
My thesis, then, is as follows: In addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
Carl Gustav Jung, The Concept of the Collective Unconscious.
By far the greatest number of spontaneous synchronistic phenomena that I have had occasion to observe and analyze can easily be shown to have a direct connection with an archetype.
Carl Gustav Jung, Synchronicity. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1960. Page 65.
For Freud ... the unconscious is of an exclusively personal nature ....
A more or less superficial layer of the unconscious is undoubtedly personal. I call it the personal unconscious. But this personal unconscious rests upon a deeper layer, which does not derive from personal experience and is not a personal acquisition but is inborn. This deeper level I call the collective unconscious. I have chosen the term “collective” because this part of the unconscious is not individual but universal ....
Carl Gustav Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. R.F.C. Hull, translator. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 1969. Page 3.

According to Jung, the collective unconscious is related to gnōsis (Ancient Greek, inner knowledge):

For we have in medieval alchemy the long-sought connecting-link between Gnosis and the processes of the collective unconscious, observable to us to-day in modern man.
Carl Gustav Jung (forward) to Richard Wilhelm (translator), The Secret of the Golden Flower. Page xiv.

The Integralism of sociologist Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968), which was previously considered, and his applied science of amitology appear to have been aspects of his own emancipatory project:

... to guide myself through the chaos of the Sensate Gotterdammerung  [German, Götterdämmerung, twilight of the Gods or complete destruction], I completed my building of the Integral Weltanschauung [German, worldview]—an integral system of science, religion, philosophy, sociology, psychology, economics and the fine arts. In my mentality and conduct this Weltanschauung  replaced the tattered remnants of the obsolescent Sensate philosophy.
Unifying into one harmonious whole the universal and perennial values inherent in Sensate as well as Ideational Weltanschauungen [German, worldviews], and being free from the false values of each, the Integral Standpoint has served me more adequately than any other viewpoint.... Integralism has wisely guided my conduct amidst the bloody debris of the crumbling Sensate civilization.
Pitirim A. Sorokin, Long Journey: An Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 1963. Page 325.
The historical moment has struck for building a new applied science or a new art of amitology—the science and art of cultivation of amity, unselfish love, and mutual help in interindividual and intergroup relationships. A mature amitology is now the paramount need of humanity. Its development tangibly determines the creative future of homo sapiens.
Such a science is the antidote to the Machiavellian Prince....
... Machiavellian “guidebooks” for subjugation, extermination, and domination need to be replaced by “guidebooks” of mutual service and free cooperation....
As one of the first steps in this direction, a recent establishment, in 1949, of the Harvard Research Center of Creative Altruism can be mentioned.
Pitirim A. Sorokin, On the Practice of Sociology. Edited and with an introduction by Barry V. Johnston. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1998. Pages 302-304.

In the 1980s, I had an extensive one-on-one discussion with journalist, author, and Bahá’í, Guy Murchie (1907-1997), at the Green Acre Bahá’í School. Unfortunately, as an Autistic, I have sometimes been unaware when I have overstayed my welcome. (To be frank, by following him around for a couple of hours, I assumed that I was keeping him company. In retrospect, he was simply being polite.) Although I remember his strong face and towering height, the topics of conversation have escaped me. Eventually, he wandered off and chatted with others. Murchie was a brilliant writer, and he comprehended the unity of all things:

There is no end to interrelations anywhere....
Thus do abstract threads weave the living tapestry of Earth, our familiar world in which lupines love volcanoes, where a rock may give a brook its song, a world where surgeons have recently learned to transplant organs (containing genes) from one body to another, thus literally binding closer the brotherhood of man and, in some cases, the cousinhood of animal and man. Even when they implant artificial organs that have no genes, surgeons are reducing the disparity between man and machine, between animal and mineral, possibly even between life and nonlife ....
Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science and Philosophy. The Interrelatedness of All Creatures (chapter). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1978. Page 380.

I pray for beloved Muchie. My assumption is that, from the Supreme Concourse, he continuing his service to souls in this world. All things, according to Murchie, peace and blessings be upon him, are progressing towards an interwoven transcendence:

... [Here is] what I mean by transcendence and its multiple aspects: individual transcendence in which each of us develops larger and larger awareness of space, time, and self, social transcendence in which individual consciousnesses are absorbed into superconsciousness or a group mind, and world transcendence in which the consciousnesses and superconsciousnesses of nations and empires on a planet evolve into a world organism that ultimately conveys them beyond the finitude of space, time and self toward the Infinitude of Mystery in the Universe, which may be called God. All of these transcendences are more or less interwoven as far as I can tell ....
Guy Murchie, The Seven Mysteries of Life: An Exploration in Science and Philosophy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1978. Page 517.

Similarly, Rabbi Michael Lerner (born 1943), the founder of Tikkun magazine, presents his vision for an emancipatory spirituality:

Emancipatory Spirituality means a celebration of the wonder of the universe – and the cultivation of our capacities for awe and radical amazement at all that is. It involves a deep recognition of the Unity of All Being and a humble recognition of ourselves as one small but valuable part of the totality, and an ability to see our endeavors from the perspective of the totality.
Michael Lerner, Spirit Matters. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Publishing Company. 2000. Page 167.

Through his own realizational project, physicist David Bohm (1817-1892) concluded that the universe could be understood in terms of explicate and implicate orders. These two cosmological concepts resemble Bhaskar’s distinction between duality and nonduality. Inner and outer self-improvement is, to Bohm, implicate in the structure of human thought:

The hologram seems, on cursory inspection, to have no significant order in it, and yet there must somehow be in it an order that determines the order of points that will appear in the image when it is illuminated. We may call this order implicit, but the basic root of the word implicit means “enfolded.” So in some sense, the whole object is enfolded in each part of the hologram rather than being in point-to-point correspondence. We may therefore say that each part of the hologram contains an enfolded order essentially similar to that of the object and yet obviously different in form.
As we develop this idea, we shall see that this notion of enfoldment is not merely a metaphor, but that it has to be taken fairly literally. To emphasise this point, we shall therefore say that the order in the hologram is implicate. The order in the object, as well as in the image, will then be unfolded and we shall call it explicate. The process, in this case wave movement, in which this order is conveyed from the object to the hologram will be called enfoldment or implication. The process in which the order in the hologram becomes manifest to the viewer in an image will be called unfoldment or explication.
David Bohm and Basil J. Hiley, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory. New York: Routledge. 1995. Pages 353-354.
I should think it is natural in thought to project this goal of becoming better. That is, it is intrinsic in the structure of thought....
If it is good to become better outwardly, then why shouldn’t I become better inwardly?
David Bohm in David Bohm and Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Ending of Time (Dialogue). New York: Harper & Row. 1985. Pages 5-6.

Inspired by Bohm and by physicist Niels Bohr, Karen Michelle Barad (1956-present) is the primary co-investigator of the Ethics and Justice in Science and Engineering Training Program, a physicist, and an interdisciplinary feminist studies scholar. She has examined the (quantum) entanglement of existence:

The notion of intra-action is a key element of my agential realist framework. The neologism “intra-action” signifies the mutual constitution of entangled agencies. That is, in contrast to the usual “interaction,” which assumes that there are separate individual agencies that precede their interaction, the notion of intra-action recognizes that distinct agencies do not precede, but rather emerge through, their intra-action. It is important to note that the “distinct” agencies are only distinct in a relational, not an absolute, sense, that is, agencies are only distinct in relation to their mutual entanglement; they don’t exist as individual elements.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 33.
To be entangled is not simply to be intertwined with another, as in the joining of separate entities, but to lack an independent, self-contained existence. Existence is not an individual affair. Individuals do not preexist their interactions; rather, individuals emerge through and as part of their entangled intra-relating. Which is not to say that emergence happens once and for all, as an event or as a process that takes place according to some external measure of space and of time, but rather that time and space, like matter and meaning, come into existence, are iteratively reconfigured through each intra-action, thereby making it impossible to differentiate in any absolute sense between creation and renewal, beginning and returning, continuity and discontinuity, here and there, past and future.
... Memory does not reside in the folds of individual brains; rather, memory is the enfoldings of space-time-matter written into the universe, or better, the enfolded articulations of the universe in its mattering.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page ix.
... realism is reformulated in terms of the goal of providing accurate descriptions of agential reality—that reality within which we intra-act and have our being—rather than some imagined and idealized human-independent reality. I use the label agential realism for both the new form of realism and the larger epistemological and ontological framework that I propose.
Karen Barad, “Getting Real: Technoscientific Practices and the Materialization of Reality.” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Volume 10. Issue 2. Summer 1998. Pages 87-128.

Barad refers to her approach as ontoepistemological (ontological/epistemological):

I call my proposed ontoepistemological framework “agential realism.” ... Importantly, agential realism rejects the notion of a correspondence relation between words and things and offers in its stead a causal explanation of how discursive practices are related to material phenomena. It does so by shifting the focus from the nature of representations (scientific and other) to the nature of discursive practices (including technoscientific ones), leaving in its wake the entire irrelevant debate between traditional forms of realism and social constructivism. Crucial to this theoretical framework is a strong commitment to accounting for the material nature of practices and how they come to matter.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Pages 44-45.
The agential realist understanding that I propose is a nonrepresentationalist form of realism that is based on an ontology that does not take for granted the existence of “words” and “things” and an epistemology that does not subscribe to a notion of truth based on their correct correspondence.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 56.
Crucially, ... we should understand phenomena not as objects-in-themselves, or as perceived objects (in the Kantian or phenomenological sense), but as specific intra-actions. Because the basis of this ontology is a fundamental inseparability, it cuts across any Kantian noumena-phenomena [nonsensory-sensory] distinction: there are no determinately bounded or propertied entities existing “behind” or as the causes of phenomena.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 128.

In Barad’s agential realism, the basic unit of existence is a phenomenon or an ontological entanglement. Individuals and other objects are the products of entangled phenomena. They do not exist independently. Because of the entangled nature of material being throughout spacetime, Barad has called for a fundamental rethinking of ethics:

Importantly, I suggest that Bohm’s notion of a phenomenon be understood ontologically. In particular, I take the primary ontological unit to be phenomena, rather than independent objects with inherent boundaries and properties. In my agential realist elaboration, phenomena do not merely mark the epistemological inseparability of “observer” and “observed”; rather, phenomena are the ontological inseparability of intra-acting “agencies.” That is, phenomena are ontological entanglements. Significantly, in my account, phenomena are not mere laboratory contrivances. Phenomena are the basis for a new ontology.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 333.
... time, like space and matter, is phenomenonal (i.e., time is not an external parameter but rather is an integral aspect of phenomena). As a result of the iterative nature of intra-active practices that constitute phenomena, the “past” and the “future” are iteratively reconfigured and enfolded through one another: phenomena cannot be located in space and time; rather, phenomena are material entanglements that “extend” across different spaces and times.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 383.
Ethics needs to be rethought. Science needs to be rethought. Indeed, taking Bohm’s interpretation seriously calls for a reworking of the very terms of the question about the relationship between science and ethics. Even beyond that, it undermines the metaphysics of individualism and calls for a rethinking of the very nature of knowledge and being.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 23.

Therefore, according to Barad, wholeness is a solidarity between all the elements of a particular phenomenon:

Wholeness ... does not signify the dissolution of boundaries. Wholeness is not about prioritizing the whole over the sum of the parts; wholeness signifies the inseparability of “component” parts of phenomena (i.e., the ontological primacy of relations over relata). Wholeness requires that delineations, differentiations, and distinctions be drawn; differentness is required of wholeness. Utopian dreams of dissolving boundaries are pure illusion, since reality is (iteratively) (re)constituted through the (re)making of boundaries.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 441.
The iterative enfolding of specific materializing phenomena into practices of materialization matters to the specifics of the materialization it produces. In short, the iterative enfolding of matter comes to matter.
Karen Barad, Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham, NC: Duke University Press Books. 2007. Page 180.

The Spanish Roman Catholic priest, Raimon Panikkar, was expelled from the theologically conservative organization, Opus Dei. He discovered cosmotheandrism (Ancient Greek: kósmos for order or world, ϑeós for God, and ánϑropos for man) a nondual trinitarian form of realism, through his spiritual pilgrimage to India:

I “left” as a Christian, I “found” myself a Hindu, and I “return” a Buddhist, without having ceased to be a Christian.
Raimon Panikkar, The Intrareligious Dialogue. New York: Paulist Press. Revised edition. 1999. Page 42.
... “He who knows himself knows the Lord” goes a traditional saying of islām that is constantly repeated by sufis. “He who knows himself knows all things”; so Meister Eckhart completed the famous injunction of the [Pythia] at Delphi: “Know yourself.” The three are here brought together: God, the World, Man. I call this the cosmotheandric experience, but for such an experience we need a pure heart, a heart devoid of all selfishness—an empty qualb [Arabic, al-qalb, the heart], the sufi tradition will say, echoed by St. John of the Cross in the company of buddhist and other masters....
... The christian Trinity is considered to be an “inspired” disclosure of the triadic myths interpreted within a particular context. My conviction is that the “radical Trinity” of the cosmotheandric intuition belongs to a mature understanding of the christian insight and of most human traditions....
... the cosmotheandric “structure” of reality is neither a monarchic constitution laid down by a supreme theos nor an anarchic disorder of the three disconnected dimensions of the real. The three are connected by an ontonomic connection that is neither causal nor logical but constitutive of the very order of the real—of Being. This is the very Rhythm of Being, as we are trying to describe all along.
The inter-in-dependence of the three dimensions of reality is essential to the cosmotheandric experience. Otherwise we have only a mental construct....
... the cosmotheandric experience “re-links” Man with the Divine as well as with the Cosmos and with his Humanity in a thematically stronger way than up to now.
Raimon Panikkar, Rhythm of Being: The Gifford Lectures. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books. 2010. Kindle edition
The experience of God, which is beneath every experience and makes us human, also gives us a consciousness of our contingency, making us humble and capable of understanding. Through this experience, we come to recognize that we are in the interior of something that includes everything. We become conscious of a double dimension of absence and presence, and we become aware of participating in a more in which, in one way or another, we can have confidence. Some will call this the experience of Being, which is actualized in the disinterested love of beings. On other occasions, I have called it “cosmotheandric confidence,” which links the cosmos, God, and humans....
The non-dualist vision (advaita), in which divinity is neither individually separate from the rest of reality nor totally identical with it. The Upanishads, for example, present a religious attitude that is based neither on dialogue nor monologue, but on the super-rational experience of a “reality” that in a certain sense “inhales” to the interior of itself.
In the simplest terms, a great part of the wisdom the Fast offers to the West is the non-dualist vision of reality. Yet this vision also suggests a more complete image of the Trinity.
God is neither the Same (monism) nor the Other (dualism). God is one pole of reality, a constitutive pole. Although silent and hence ineffable in itself, it nevertheless speaks to us.
Raimon Panikkar, The Experience of God: Icons of the Mystery. Joseph Cunneen, translator. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 2006. Kindle edition.

Panikkar applied cosmotheandrism to the Hindū Vedas:

... [There is] a highly characteristic and important feature of the Vedas which we term “cosmotheandric,” with reference to a particular union that takes place between the human and the divine, or, as here, between the spiritual and the material, or, in yet another context, between the natural and the supernatural. This life-affirming attitude is far from being a shallow naturalism or a bucolic approach to life; it is a deeply religious and consciously theological attitude....
... From the perspective of the Vedic Revelation one would not hesitate to say that the Word is the embodiment of Man as well as of God. In the Word, whose function is both to conceal and to reveal, God and Man meet. It is the cosmotheandric reality par excellence....
Vedic optimism is not anthropological but, on the whole, cosmological, or rather it is based on the cosmotheandric view of reality. It does not say that Man is good or bad, nor does it consider the world as good or bad, as provisional or definitive. It starts from a more holistic perspective which views Man and cosmos as a dynamic unity in which both are engaged in maintaining the very existence of the universe....
... oneness [in the Vedas] is not the oneness of a discarnate quintessence, which for the sake of passing beyond everything leaves reality behind, but a total cosmotheandric or Advaitic intuition, as we may now proceed to call it. This third feature combines the first two and sets them in a proper perspective. Without it the other two insights are incompatible and even doctrinally contradictory....
The cosmotheandric reality is neither a product of the mind (it would then be pure monism and would deny the reality of the “outer” world) nor a raw material independent of the mind (it would then be sheer atomistic plurality with no possible connecting links whatsoever), but the only one reality. This oneness is of a nondualistic nature; it is an Advaitic oneness, which here amounts to saying that it is real oneness and not imagined or merely “thought.” The Advaitic [nondual] character of reality does not permit ultimate dichotomies between matter and spirit, thinker and thought, creator and created, and the like. Nor does it blur distinctions. On the contrary, it underlines them: the three worlds of the divine, the cosmic, and the human are differentiated, but not separated; they are three real dimensions of the one and the same reality, and it is precisely this three-dimensionality, as it were, which makes reality one....
... many cosmotheandric relations ... serve to foster an understanding of the whole of reality, in which the underlying unity does not disturb the manifold diversity....
... This is the meaning of prayer: it is that human or rather total cosmotheandric act by which Man transcends both time and space and discovers that within his own human heart at least a part of the destiny of the whole universe is being played out and reenacted. No wonder that calmness, attention, and silence are needed.
Raimon Panikkar, The Vedic Experience: Mantramañjarī – An Anthology of the Vedas for Modern Man and Contemporary Celebration. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass. 2001.

Jyri Komulainen commented on Panikkar’s cosmotheandrism:

Cosmotheandrism is the culmination of [Raimon] Panikkar’s thinking with which he endeavors to offer a new myth that could provide a basis for dialogue and make religions mutually comprehensible.
Jyri Komulainen, An Emerging Cosmotheandric Religion?: Raimon Panikkar’s Pluralistic Theology of Religions. Leiden, The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill NV. 2005. Page 197.

Originally from Việtnam (Việtnamese, Việt Nam), Zen (Japanese, zen, and Việtnamese, thiễn, from Mandarin Chinese, chán, and, ultimately, from Sanskrit, dhyāna, and Pāḷi, jhāna, meditation) Buddhist Thích Nhất Hạn (born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo in 1926) was among the pioneers of the emancipatory and socially activist movement, “Engaged Buddhism.” He coined the term, as well:

From a very young age, I had a strong desire to put the Buddha’s teachings into practice in order to improve the lives of the people around me, especially those of the poor peasants. For us, taking action according to the principles of what I called Engaged Buddhism—Right action based in compassion—was the answer.
I started reflecting and writing on the possibility and practice of Engaged Buddhism in the 1950s, and in 1964 I wrote the book Engaged Buddhism.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World. New York: Free Press. 2003. Page 94.
Thich Nhat Hanh is the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and poet who was the most important ideological leader of the Vietnamese “Struggle Movement,” which strove to bring an end to the war in Vietnam. Trained in Theravada as well as Zen, Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term “Engaged Buddhism,” using it to refer to the kind of Buddhism that he wanted to see develop: one that would translate the wisdom and compassion that Buddhists strive to develop into concrete action on behalf of all sentient beings (that is, all beings with awareness, principally humans and animals). He cofounded the School of Youth for Social Service to train young Buddhists to serve the needs of the Vietnamese people, particularly in the countryside.
Sallie B. King, Socially Engaged Buddhism. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaiʿi Press. 2009. Page 4.
Engaged Buddhism, or “socially engaged Buddhism,” denotes the rise of political activism and social service by Buddhist communities and organizations in Asia and the West since the 1950s. Paralleling a global increase of political involvement by religious groups within the Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu traditions, engaged Buddhists have supported campaigns for conflict resolution, human rights, economic development, national self-determination, and environmental protection. They have undertaken medical and pastoral care, educational programs, and community building among economically marginalized and low-caste communities, women and children, persons with HIV/AIDS, and prison inmates. They have insisted that Buddhist mindfulness, morality, and social action be integrated into all facets of daily life in both ordained and lay communities. Engaged Buddhists share the belief that mindful social action is consistent with traditional notions of Buddhist practice and its goal, the universal relief of suffering, and the awakening of human potential.
“Engaged Buddhism.” Encyclopedia of Religion. Lindsay Jones, editor. Volume 4. Second edition. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference. 2005. Pages 2785-2791.

Engaged spirituality, inspired by Thích Nhất Hạn’s Engaged Buddhism, is now found in many faith traditions and in projects, such as Unities of All Things™:

... engaged spirituality ... [is] a connection between spiritual practice and a commitment to social justice....
To understand this active spirituality – this engaged spirituality – we must look at the ways that individuals act upon their spiritual lives or, in other words, the way that they engage in the act of constructing meaningful practices and actions. We must also understand that these experiences and actions are always engaged within the social constraints and opportunities of the world we live in and the interpretations that we carry around with us. Finally, we must acknowledge that individuals feel engaged by spiritual experiences in transformative ways that can change the way that they see their world and creatively change the way they act back upon it....
Engaged spirituality ... [is] action in society that is motivated by transcendent moral values and is supported by regular practices that seek some connection with God or the sacred....
Connection occurs at the boundaries, blurring the lines between what is public action and private belief. In this in-between position, engaged spirituality allows for creative innovation between private experience and public action or between religious faith and social activism.
Engaged spiritually – the opposite of navel-gazing, narcissistic self-actualization – results from people being motivated by a transcendent force or power that awakens their social conscience and motivates them to live for others rather than simply for themselves. Engaged spirituality empowers individuals to act upon the palpable tension between the current state of the world and the way they believe it should be.
Gregory C. Stanczak and Donald E. Miller, Engaged Spirituality: Spirituality and Social Transformation in Mainstream American Religious Traditions. Los Angeles, CA: Center for Religion and Civic Culture of the University of Southern California. 2004. Pages 3, 6, 7, 15, and 43.
Engaged Spirituality refers to religious or spiritual people who actively engage in the world in order to transform it in positive ways while finding nurturance, inspiration and guidance in their spiritual beliefs and practices. The term was inspired by Engaged Buddhism a concept and set of values developed by the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh....
The Buddha’s teachings are very much socially engaged, but slowly, over the course of time, camps dividing the monastic orders and society developed. With the monks living in monasteries far away from society, lay people didn’t have much contact with them except when going to the temple to seek some blessings, or occasionally when hearing sermons.
Different sources, Engaged Spirituality. Retrieved on January 8, 2013.

Under the broad category of cosmopolitanism, and with an emphasis upon becoming a Bodhisattva (Sanskrit, Awakened Being who works for the awakening of all other sentient beings), Thích Nhất Hạn developed the concept of interbeing (Việtnamese, tiếp hiện, literally, to receive realization):

During the 20th century many seeds of wisdom have also sprouted. Science, especially physics and biology, has discovered the nature of interconnectedness, interbeing, and nonself. The fields of psychology and sociology have discovered much of these same truths. We know that this is, because that is, and this is like this, because that is like that. We know that we will live together or die together, and that without understanding, love is impossible.
From these insights, many positive efforts have recently been made. Many of us have worked to take care of the environment, to care for animals in a compassionate way, to reduce the consumption of meat, to abandon smoking and drinking alcohol, to do social relief work in underdeveloped countries, to campaign for peace and human rights, to promote simple living and consumption of health food, and to learn the practice of Buddhism as an art of living, aimed at transformation and healing. If we are able to recognize these positive developments of wisdom and action, they will become a bright torch of enlightenment, capable of showing mankind the right path to follow in the 21st century. Science and technology can then be reoriented to help build a new way of life moving in the direction of a living insight, as expressed in terms of interconnectedness, interbeing, and non-self.
If the 20th century was the century of humans conquering Nature, the 21st century should be one in which we conquer the root causes of the suffering in human beings-our fears, ego, hatred, greed, etc. If the 20th century was characterized by individualism and consumption, the 21st century can be characterized by the insights of interbeing. In the 21st century, humans can live together in true harmony with each other and with nature, as bees live together in their bee hive or as cells live together in the same body, all in a real spirit of democracy and equality. Freedom will no longer be just a kind of liberty for self-destruction, or destruction of the environment, but the kind of freedom that protects us from being overwhelmed and carried away by craving, hatred, and pain....
Every time I drive from the Upper Hamlet to the Lower Hamlet, looking at the straw, I see milk in it inside, because a mother cow will eat it and it will become milk. So when I look at the milk I see the straw and when I look at the straw I see milk, I see the water, I see the sky, I see the sunshine, and I practice like that all day. I can see the nature of interbeing in everything, everyone.
This is very wonderful because it reveals to me a wonderful world of interconnection. Trying to look at things like that will reduce all my fear, and discrimination and anger. It is very important, because in Buddhism we speak about liberation from suffering by understanding....
Every word, every sentence of the sutras reveal the same kind of truth, interbeing, the here and the now, the nature of connectedness of everything, everything is inside of everything else, the one contains the all, the all contains the one....
Those of us who have not been trained, we continue to stay and suffer in the lokadhatu [Sanskrit, lokadhātu, nature, matter, or physical universe] suffer because our view of separateness, or our lack of insight of interbeing. That is why the training is for us to break through, to know how to look at things in their interbeing nature, to touch the nature of no birth and no death.
... And when you are changed, when you are transformed you become an instrument for change and transformation for many living beings. If you have that kind of desire, if you are motivated by that desire to help, to change you are already a Bodhisattva [Sanskrit, Awakened Being], the energy of the Buddha [Sanskrit, Awakened One]. You are so alive because you are inhabited by the kind of motivation, that kind of desire....
... you organize a retreat for your friends ... [or] suppose you want to organize a retreat for business people. That is an opportunity for you to come together and learn the way to operate like a community of bees, a community of termites, a community of cells, a community of neurons, because in truth, reality functions like that, on the base of non self, on the base of interbeing.
In our century [written in the twentieth century], the century which is ending, is characterized by individualism. We no longer believe in the family. The family structure has been shut down because we follow the cult of the individual. We want only to do things that make us feel good, only to satisfy our private desire. We don’t care about the family, we don’t care about the church, we don’t care about society, we follow just the order of the self....
... We want to live in harmony, in the spirit of non self, in the spirit of interbeing. We don’t want to follow the cult of self any more....
... The insight of interbeing, the insight of interconnectedness is so important for us. We have to learn that happiness cannot be possible as an individual matter.
Thích Nhất Hạnh, Dharma Talk. Retrieved on January 7, 2012. Pages 26, 51-52, 117, 220, 226-228, and 230.
I believe Cosmopolitanism is a way of what Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh calls, Interbeing; an inter-connected-ness of all things.
Mel Alyn Michaels (Vashon, WA), The Dark Unfathomed Retrospect! Privately published paper. December 12, 2009. Page 9.

Here are a few definitions, including an odd one from a libertarian writer, of cosmopolitanism:

Since the end of the cold war and the advent of globalization, interest in cosmopolitanism, with its ideas of global justice and citizenship and the like, has been on the rise. Although cosmopolitanism is not new, it is easy to see why it has gripped the post-cold-war imagination. Cosmopolitan is a term often used to describe a citizen of the world: an enlightened individual who believes he or she belongs to a common humanity or world order rather than to a set of particular customs or traditions. Cosmopolitans consequently believe that peace among nation-states is possible only if they transcend their parochial identities and interests in the name of a global state or consciousness. To this extent cosmopolitanism appears democratic in spirit.
Lee Trepanier and Khalil M. Habib, “Introduction.” Cosmopolitanism in the Age of Globalization: Citizens without States. Lee Trepanier and Khalil M. Habib, editors. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. 2011. Kindle edition.
The term cosmopolitanism means focusing on the world as a whole rather than on a particular locality or group within it. It also means being at home with diversity. While its main meanings refer in this sense to an orientation or capacity of individuals, the noun cosmopolitan is also used to describe the actual diversity of specific countries or cities and the growing interconnection of the whole world across national and other boundaries.
Precisely because the world is so intensively interconnected today, cosmopolitanism has become an important theme in philosophy and social science—and, indeed, in practical affairs.
Craig Calhoun, “Craig Calhoun.” Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity, and Society. Richard T. Schaefer, editor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2008. Pages 334-337.
The central libertarian claim that all human beings—indeed, all rational agents—have equal fundamental rights is rooted in the ancient tradition of cosmopolitan thought....
Cosmopolitanism, understood as recognition of a universal set of moral and political obligations and rights, has long been a core commitment of libertarian political thought. It remains, through the contemporary debates over globalization, a central source of controversy in political and social thought.
Tom G. Palmer, “Cosmopolitanism.” The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Ronald Hamowy, editor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2008. Pages 108-110.

Heraclitus developed his own form of realism. In it, through the intelligent will, comes a unity of opposites:

There is one wisdom, to understand the intelligent will by which all things are governed through all....
If there were no sun, it would be night....
God is day and night, winter and summer, war and peace, plenty and want. But he is changed, just as when incense is mingled with incense, but named according to the pleasure of each....
Cold becomes warm, and warm, cold; wet becomes dry, and dry, wet....
They do not understand: how that which separates unites with itself. It is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and of the lyre....
... The unlike is joined together, and from differences results the most beautiful harmony, and all things take place by strife....
The hidden harmony is better than the visible....
The harmony of the world is a harmony of oppositions, as in the case of the bow and of the lyre....
Good and evil are the same....
Unite whole and part, agreement and disagreement, accordant and discordant; from all comes one, and from one all....
There is only one supreme Wisdom. It wills and wills not to be called by the name of Zeus....
The way upward and downward are one and the same....
The beginning and end are common....
Man, as a light at night, is lighted and extinguished....
Into the same river we both step and do not step. We both are and are not....
In change is rest....
A mixture separates when not kept in motion....
... all human laws are dependent upon one divine Law, for this rules as far as it wills, and suffices for all, and overabounds....
It is law, also, to obey the will of one....
One day is like all....
Heraclitus, The Fragments of the Work of Heraclitus of Ephesus on Nature. G.T.W. Patrick, translator. 1889.

M. Erik Durgun formulated his own version of Heraclitean realism. The following quotation briefly describes Geometric Generalization:

Geometric Generalization is a physics theory of everything, which develops the Special and General Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics, and as a result, it suggests a formulation to a major philosophical movement.
At first, probably Heraclitus suggested this philosophical standpoint, and many thinkers from different cultures all over the world have shared it independently in history.
This realist philosophy recognizes physical reality as a complete continuum and unity. According to this philosophy, physical reality is not static, but it is a state of constant movement and change (process philosophy). This ongoing process of change is a consequence of balancing opposites (formed by deviations from nothingness-flatness state).
M. Erik Durgun, Geometric Generalization of the Structure of Nature: A Theory of Everything and a Mathematical Formulation of a Philosophy. [Chapter] 2. Philosophy and Methodology. 2007. Retrieved on April 25, 2013.

Next to be considered, poet and art critic Eli Siegel developed his own philosophy on the unity of opposites. He called it Aesthetic Realism. In some respects, it resembles Heraclitean realism. Yet, in still other ways, Siegel’s own discovery of emancipation through unity or nondualism has some common features with Bhaskar’s cosmic envelope. For example:

I have presented a definition of Aesthetic Realism in three parts....
Each part can, succinctly, be put in a sentence. One, Man’s greatest, deepest desire is to like the world honestly. Two, The one way to like the world honestly, not as a conquest of one’s own, is to see the world as the aesthetic oneness of opposites. Three, The greatest danger or temptation of man is to get a false importance or glory from the lessening of things not himself; which lessening is Contempt. Even more briefly, these three divisions can be described as: One, Liking the world; Two, The opposites; Three, The meaning of contempt....
Aesthetic Realism sees everyone in an interior contest between liking the world and liking self. Aesthetic Realism believes that liking the world honestly is the only authentic means of liking oneself. However, the attraction of liking oneself without caring too much for the outside world has been with people through the years ....
... Aesthetic Realism says that no matter what is going on in our lives, our deepest, greatest desire is to find the world friendly or likable; and this desire needs, for its accomplishment, the perception of the world as the aesthetic oneness of opposites....
There can be no more valuable present to the people of America and the world than their being told to study contempt in themselves. The seeing of contempt and the making of it less is the greatest gift one could receive at this time, either from oneself or another. And it should be remembered that having contempt is the same as disliking the world....
Therefore, Aesthetic Realism, trying to be of use, says, First, liking the world should be studied. Second, the true meaning of the opposites and of the aesthetic oneness of opposites should be studied. Third, the meaning of contempt should be studied.
Eli Siegel, “Aesthetic Realism: A Tripartite Study.” The Right of Aesthetic Realism to be Known: A Periodical of Hope and Inspiration. New York: Aesthetic Realism Foundation. No. 247. December 21, 1977.

Yet another interesting example of realization or emancipation through nonduality is the adaptation by Ken Wilber (1949-present), who was discussed earler, of the holarchy (a system of holons) from journalist and author, Arthur Koestler (1905-1983). Unlike the real connectedness of Bhaskar’s cosmic envelope, Wilber’s “kosmological” framework, which he now calls the AQAL map, continues to be a modern form of objective idealism:

My own sense is that, since holons are “bottomless,” how much “consciousness” each of them possesses is an entirely relative affair. I don't think we need to draw a bold line in the existential sand and say, on this side of the line, consciousness; on that side, utter darkness. Indeed, the whole point of the hierarchy of evolutionary emergents of apprehension is that consciousness is almost infinitely graded, with each emergent holon possessing a little more depth and thus a bit more apprehension.
Ken Wilber, “An Integral Theory of Consciousness.” Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4 (1), February 1997, pages 71-92.
... I think what we want to do is Kosmology, not cosmology....
Precisely because the Kosmos is composed of holons, and holons exist holarchically, you can’t escape these nested orders. Rather, we want to tease apart natural holarchies from pathological or dominator holarchies....
... the basic principle of holism is holarchy: the higher or deeper dimension provides a principle, or a “glue,” or a pattern, that unites and links otherwise separate and conflicting and isolated parts into a coherent unity ....
Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything. Second edition. Boston, MA:. Shambhala Publications. 2011. Page 17 and 42.
AQAL     Pronounced “ah-qwul.” Short for “all-quadrants, all-levels,” which itself is short for “all-quadrants, all-levels, all-lines, all-states, and all-types.” Developed by philosopher and author, Ken Wilber, AQAL appears to be the most comprehensive approach to reality to date. It is a supertheory or metatheory that attempts to explain how the most time-tested methodologies, and the experiences those methodologies bring forth, fit together in a coherent fashion. AQAL theory’s pragmatic correlate is a series of social practices called Integral Methodological Pluralism (IMP). The personal application of AQAL is called Integral Life Practice (ILP). “AQAL” is often used interchangeably with Integral Theory, the Integral approach, the Integral map, the Integral model, and Integral Operating System (IOS).
Matt Rentschler, “AQAL Glossary.” Journal of Integral Theory and Practice. Albany, NY: SUNY Press. Fall 2006. Volume 1. Number 3. Pages 1-38.

Wilber’s emancipatory system, which uses the AQAL map, is, as mentioned above, Integral Life Practice:

The “Integral” part of ILP [Integral Life Practice] is that it is radically inclusive. To be this, it draws on a conceptual map called AQAL .... AQAL is a theory of everything, a way of comprehending life and reality in very broad yet precise terms. AQAL is a map of consciousness, the Kosmos, and human development, at every level and in every dimension that presents itself.
Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli, Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening. Boston: Integral Books. 2008. Pages 9-10.
ILP [Integral Life Practice] is post-metaphysical.... What “post-metaphysical” means here is that no perspective on reality is merely given to consciousness. Every perspective is enacted....
At its core, Integral Life Practice is not limited to the performance of specific practices. It’s a sincere, inherent commitment to bring awareness, care, and presence to every moment of life—and thereby to increase one’s awareness, care, and presence. An ILP practitioner naturally strives for a healthy body, a clear mind, an open heart, and a commitment to a higher purpose.
Ken Wilber, Terry Patten, Adam Leonard, and Marco Morelli, Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening. Boston: Integral Books. 2008. Pages 24-25.

Wilber, while respecting Bhaskar, differs with him on several issues. From a Critical Realist perspective, the nondual cosmic envelope is not produced by of a shift in consciousness. This distinction between Wilber and Bhaskar is, in my opinion, crucial to understanding their respective positions. Wilber, as an idealist, is practically forced into metaphysical speculation, while Bhaskar remains firmly rooted in realism, not in idealism:

(More recently, Bhaskar has introduced spiritual realities and consciousness into his scheme. But dumping consciousness on top of an ontological scheme that was developed without it is, well, cheating. The whole scheme has to be done over, using consciousness as an intrinsic part of the scheme from the very beginning, and not simply importing it after the scheme has been developed without it. The chances that the scheme will have anything real to do with actual consciousness is slim indeed, as consciousness becomes a dues ex machina to the main frame.) ...
I do want to repeat that there is much in CR [Critical Realism] that I appreciate. I particularly appreciate having an ally against the relativism of extreme postmodernism (even if, alas, I still find problems in how CR goes about doing this, by ripping consciousness out of the Kosmos and leaving “the real” to be merely a denuded “ontology”). But its heart is in the right place, one might say, and Bhaskar himself is a truly extraordinary human being, and everything a philosopher should be, in my humble opinion (it reminds me, somewhat grandiosely, I guess, of what Habermas said about Foucault after their famous meeting—“He’s a real philosopher”—praise indeed from Habermas).
Ken Wilber, “Response to Critical Realism in Defense of Integral Theory.” Integral Life. January 17, 2013. Retrieved on March 30, 2013.

Wilber’s original spiritual teacher was Ādi Dā Love-Ānanda Samrāj (born Franklin Jones, 1939-2008):

... many people ... misinterpret my overall stance towards Master Adi Da. I have not, and have never, renounced Da as Realizer, nor have I in any way abandoned my love and devotion for Him....
I affirm my own love and devotion to the living Sat-Guru [Sanskrit, Sat-Gurū, ideal enlightener], and I hope my work will continue to bring students to the Way of the Heart.
Ken Wilber, “‘Private’ letter to the Adidam community.” Fall, 1997. Adi Da and The Case of Ken Wilber. Retrieved on May 29, 2012.

Ādi Dā Love-Ānanda Samrāj developed a Cosmic Mandala (Sanskrit and Pāḷi, maṇḍala, circular, round, or circle). Similarly, Wilber referred to his own model as a mandala:

Each of the levels of the Cosmic Mandala represents a quality of energy (or light). In each of the rings (or portions) of the Cosmic Mandala that move out from the Central “Bright” Whiteness, there are infinite numbers of possible worlds and kinds of embodiment. In this gross plane in which you now exist, you are at the outskirts of the Cosmic Mandala.
Adi Da Samraj, Easy Death: Spiritual Wisdom on the Ultimate Transcending of Death and Everything Else. Middletown, CA: The Dawn Horse Press. 2005. Page 154.
Integral philosophy ... coordinates the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, weaving a mandala of the many faces of Spirit, and then invites us to take up spiritual practice itself, and thus finally meet Spirit face to face.
Ken Wilber, The Eye of the Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World gone Slightly Mad. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc. 2001 (revised edition). Page 85.
This is an introduction to one of Ken Wilber’s most versatile ideas: his model of what he calls the Four Quadrants. As a formal structure, the four quadrants [of the AQAL map] display a striking resemblance to a mandala. Wilber also speaks of his philosophy as “weaving a mandala of the many faces of Spirit.” My approach, therefore, will use the mandala as a way to approach Wilber’s model, and I will then explore its significance and some of the many insights it can help you discern as well as some of the oversights it can help you avoid.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning “circle,” and it denotes the circular, concentric pattern of images used in spiritual practices, such as meditation, as an object of concentration. Most mandalas express a fourfold pattern. Simply place a cross within a circle, dividing it into four equal facets, and you have the basic formal structure of a mandala.
Hyatt Carter, A Mandalic Framework of Reality. Retrieved on March 5, 2012.

However, Rolf Sattler (1936-present) believes that his Dynamic Mandala is even more inclusive that Wilber’s AQAL map. As an emancipatory practice, Sattler contends that this mandala has, through its center, an extraordinary capacity to consolidate various religions, cultures, and wisdom traditions:

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning circle and completion. Thus, most mandalas are plans, charts, geometric patterns, or all sorts of artistic designs that are circular, although squares and other figures may be incorporated. As far as its meaning is concerned, a mandala is often a symbolic representation of the Kosmos including our self. It has a center that is often meant to be the source of all being, and from this source radiates manifest reality in all its manifoldness.
Rolf Sattler, Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond. Kingston, Ontario. Privately published. 2008. Page 49. Retrieved on January 21, 2012.
This alternative map [to Wilber’s AQAL map] is a dynamic mandala, or, more precisely, a self-referential dynamic mandala. Self-referential means that the mandala does not only refer to the Kosmos, but also to itself. Therefore, the dynamic concept of the mandala does not only refer to the dynamic of the Kosmos, but also to the mandala itself, which means that the mandala is also dynamic. In other words, transformation is built into the mandala: the mandala entails countless transformations of itself, each of which is a different mandala or map of the Kosmos. Thus, the mandala actually is a mandala of mandalas, a plurality of maps. It turns out that Wilber’s map is one of the transformations that the mandala can undergo. This means that Wilber’s map is a special case of the mandala. The mandala, however, is not a special case of Wilber’s map since it cannot be generated from Wilber’s map. Therefore, the mandala is more comprehensive than Wilber’s map.
Rolf Sattler, Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond. Kingston, Ontario. Privately published. 2008. Page 8. Retrieved on January 21, 2012.
Since mandalas have been created in practically all cultures, religions, and wisdom traditions, a mandala of mandalas that relates all mandalas also relates the cultures, religions, and wisdom traditions in which they originated. Therefore, the mandala of mandalas has an enormous potential to unify and connect diverse cultures, religions, and wisdom traditions. The unification occurs through the center that all mandalas share; the connection through the different peripheries of the mandalas that can be seen in a dynamic relationship.
Rolf Sattler, Wilber’s AQAL Map and Beyond. Kingston, Ontario. Privately published. 2008. Page 80. Retrieved on January 21, 2012.

Additional metaphysical mandalas may be found in the integralist Mathematical Mandala of Thomas J. McFarlane and in The Mandala Project of Lori Bailey Cunningham:

This article presents a dynamic mathematical mandala which can be seen as an integral model of reality. In contrast with conventional two-dimensional mandalas, the mandala described here is a sphere in three (or more) dimensions. Moreover, through a process of breaking the perfect symmetry of the three-dimensional sphere and then projecting the sphere onto a plane, the sphere is related to conventional linear, planar mandalas and unfolds their implicit archetypal structures. For example, a mandala with many similarities to Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrant model of the Kosmos is unfolded as a special case of the spherical mandala. A four-dimensional integral sphere also contains Wilber’s nested spheres as a special case. Higher dimensional spheres can be used to represent additional aspects of existence. The paper also shows how the present model provides a tool for facilitating complex thinking with fundamental categories, revealing how they interpenetrate and transform into each other.
Thomas J. McFarlane, “The Integral Sphere: A Mathematical Mandala of Reality.” The Center for Integral Science. 2004. Retrieved on February 16, 2012.
The Mandala Project provides a creative visual and experiential demonstration of unity with diversity. Through art, the project brings people together to create something larger than themselves while honoring the uniqueness of the individual and celebrating the benefits and gifts of a collective experience.
Lori Bailey Cunningham, “About the Project.” The Mandala Project. Retrieved on February 16, 2012.

Another Integral writer, Jennifer Gidley, discusses several emancipatory methods for developing inclusive and multilayered spiritual cosmologies:

By awakening our thinking with the ideas found in the perennial philosophies or spiritual epistemologies, by contemplative practices, by artistic work to stimulate the imagination, and sometimes by “grace,” we can all develop our consciousness and ultimately our cultures to move beyond fragmented, materialistic thinking to multilayered, pluralistic, and inclusive integral cosmological models. Crucially, it involves a shift from solely “brain centered” thinking to “heart and brain centered” thinking.
Jennifer Gidley, “Spiritual Epistemologies and Integral Cosmologies: Transforming Thinking and Culture.” Susan M. Awbrey, Diane Dana, Vachel W. Miller, Phyllis Robinson, Merle M. Ryan, and David K. Scott (editors), Integrative Learning and Action. Studies in Education and Spirituality. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang Publishing. 2006. Pages 29-55.

In addition, the beautiful French philosopher and Jesuit Roman Catholic priest, Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), developed a self-defined realist approach to the noosphere, or collective human thought world, centered upon an Omega point, or center, of unity. The universe itself, in Teilhard’s view, is progressively fulfilled in alignment with the laws regulating union:

One thing at any rate is sure—from the moment we adopt a thoroughly realistic view of the noosphere and of the hyperorganic nature of social bonds, the present situation of the world becomes dearer; for we find a very simple meaning for the profound troubles which disturb the layer of mankind at this moment....
All our difficulties and repulsions as regards the opposition between the All and the Person would be dissipated if only we understood that, by structure, the noosphere (and more generally the world) represent a whole that is not only closed but also centred. Because it contains and engenders consciousness, spacetime is necessarily of a convergent nature. Accordingly its enormous layers, followed in the right direction, must somewhere ahead become involuted to a point which we might call Omega, which fuses and consumes them integrally in itself....
... it would be mistaken to represent Omega to ourselves simply as a centre born of the fusion of elements which it collects, or annihilating them in itself. By its structure Omega, in its ultimate principle, can only be a distinct Centre radiating at the core of a system of centres; a grouping in which personalisation of the All and personalisations of the elements reach their maximum simultaneously and without merging, under the influence of a supremely autonomous focus of union....
The end of the world: the overthrow of equilibrium, detaching the mind, fumed at last, from its material matrix, so that it will henceforth rest with all its weight on God-Omega....
...that mysterious centre of our centres ... I have called Omega....
... By its very structure the noosphere could not close itself either individually or socially in any way save under the influence of the centre we have called Omega....
The universe fulfilling itself in a synthesis of centres in perfect conformity with the laws of union. God, the Centre of centres. In that final vision the Christian dogma culminates. And so exactly, so perfectly does this coincide with the Omega Point that doubtless I should never have ventured to envisage the latter or formulate the hypothesis rationally if, in my consciousness as a believer, I had not found not only its speculative model but also its living reality.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 2008. Pages 252, 262-263, 267, 288, 291, and 294.
In the superficial course of our existences, there is a difference between seeing and thinking, between understanding and loving, between giving and receiving, between growing and shrinking, between living and dying. But what will happen to all those contradictions once their diversity has revealed itself in Omega as an infinite variety of forms of a single universal contact? Without any sort of radical disappearance they will tend to combine into a common sum, in which their still recognizable plurality will burst forth in ineffable riches. Not any sort of interference, but a resonance....
Under Omega’s influence, we said, each separate soul becomes capable of breathing itself out in a single act into which the incalculable plurality of its perceptions and activities, its sufferings and desires, passes without confusion.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, On Love & Happiness. New York: Harper & Row. 1984. Pages 30-31.

According to Teilhard, the transcendent aspect of the Omega point is God or Christ:

God ... [is] the transcendent aspect of Omega ....
This takes us ..., by a final ascent to the less known, to a last and supreme definition of Omega point: the centre, at least one and complex, in which, bound together by the person of Christ, may be seen enclosed one within the other (one might say) three progressively deeper centres: on the outside, the immanent (“natural”) apex of the humano-cosmic cone; further, in at the middle, the imminent (“supernatural”) apex of the ecclesial or Christie cone; and, finally, at the innermost heart, the transcendent, triune and divine centre: The complete Pleroma [Greek pléroma, fullness of divine powers] coming together under the mediating action of Christ-Omega.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Activation of Energy. San Diego. Harcourt. 1978. Pages 144 and 155.
The true God must ... possess all the attributes ascribed to Omega Point, and must in particular satisfy these two conditions: he must be:
a. A God of cosmic synthesis in whom we can be conscious of advancing and of joining together by spiritual transformation of all powers of matter.
b. A supremely personal God, from whom we are the more distinguishable the more we lose ourselves in Him.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Let Me Explain. New York: Harper & Row. 1972. Page 88.

Perhaps one’s priorities are paramount. Survival and physical existence refer to our shared animalistic attributes or lower nature. Transcendence, unity, and servitude are attributes of our universal higher nature. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was one of the pioneers of both humanistic psychology and transpersonal psychology. A year before this self-defined positive psychologist died, he hinted at a higher level, in his hierarchy of needs, than basic self-actualization. According to Maslow’s “Theory Z,” transcenders value “world government,” “synergic social institutions,” and “education for human goodness.”

I have recently found it more and more useful to differentiate between two kinds (or better, degrees) of self-actualizing people, those who were clearly healthy, but with little or no experiences of transcendence, and those in whom transcendent experiencing was important and even central. As examples of the former kind of health, I may cite Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, and, probably, Truman and Eisenhower. As examples of the latter, I can use Aldous Huxley, and probably Schweitzer, Buber, and Einstein....
I have a vague impression that the transcenders are less “happy” than the healthy ones. They can be more ecstatic, more rapturous, and experience greater heights of “happiness” (a too weak word) than the happy and healthy ones. But I sometimes get the impression that they are as prone and maybe more prone to a kind of cosmic-sadness or B-sadness over the stupidity of people, their self-defeat, their blindness, their cruelty to each other, their shortsightedness. Perhaps this comes from the contrast between what actually is and the ideal world that the transcenders can see so easily and so vividly, and which is in principle so easily attainable. Perhaps this is a price these people have to pay for their direct seeing of the beauty of the world, of the saintly possibilities in human nature, of the non-necessity of so much of human evil, of the seemingly obvious necessities for a good world; e.g., a world government, synergic social institutions, education for human goodness rather than for higher IQs or greater expertness at some atomistic job, etc. Any transcender could sit down and in five minutes write a recipe for peace, brotherhood, and happiness, a recipe absolutely within the bounds of practicality, absolutely attainable. And yet he sees all this not being done; or where it is being done, then so slowly that the holocausts may come first. No wonder he is sad or angry or impatient at the same time that he is also “optimistic” in the long run.
Abraham H. Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. (This portion of the book was reprinted from his 1969 article, “Theory Z.”) New York: Penguin Group. 1993. Pages 280 and 289.
Revised Hierarchy of Needs
Revised Maslovian Hierarchy of Needs

Andrew Whalen’s Unity Theory is also quite beautiful:

Unity Theory is based on a single important premise: We are all ONE. This means that there is no real separation between everything in our universe, and beyond. Whether it is your mother, your friend, your house, your neighbour, the grass under your feet, or the sky above you, all of it is part of you, and you are a part of all of it.
Andrew Whalen, Unity Theory. May 20, 2009. Retrieved on April 25, 2013.

Belgian philosopher, Raoul Vaneigem (born, 1934), was previously identified with the Situationist International. He came to the conclusion that, in revolutionary and class struggles, love is subversive:

People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints – such people have a corpse in their mouth.
Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life. Donald Nicholson-Smith, translator. Wellington, New Zealand: Rebel Press. 2001. Page 26.
Situationist International      A radical political and cultural movement, centred in France but international in scope, that flourished from 1957 to 1972. It shared with Dada and Surrealism a desire to disrupt conventional bourgeois life, and the Situationist International had its moment of glory in 1968 when its ideas were for a short time put into practice, playing a part in the student revolts in Paris and France’s general strike. The Situationists differed from other revolutionary movements in not seeking to take control of the state and the economy, but in demanding “a revolution in everyday life” which would transform attitudes to culture and the family.
Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith, A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. 1998.

Of course, the forefathers of many modern emancipatory movements were the revolutionary communist writers, Karl Marx (1818-1893) and his collaborator, Friedrich Engels (1820-1895). They also emphasized the importance of unity:

They [the working class] know that in order to work out their own emancipation, and along with it that higher form to which present society is irresistibly tending, by its own economic agencies, they will have to pass through long struggles, through a series of historic processes, transforming circumstances and men. They have no ideals to recognize, but to set free the elements of the new society with which the old collapsing bourgeois society is pregnant.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Paris Commune. 1870-1871. English-language translation, 1902. Page 80.
Does it require deep intuition to comprehend that man’s ideas, views, and conception, in one word, man’s consciousness, changes with every change in the conditions of his material existence, in his social relations and in his social life?...
But whatever form they may have taken, one fact is common to all past ages, viz., the exploitation of one part of society by the other. No wonder, then, that the social consciousness of past ages, despite all the multiplicity and variety it displays, moves within certain common forms, or general ideas, which cannot completely vanish except with the total disappearance of class antagonisms....
Proletarians [workers] of all countries, unite!
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party. 1848. English-language translation, 1888.

Engels, for his part, was raised a Methodist. By 1840, he defined himself as a Hegelian pantheist (namely, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, 1770-1831):

The Hegelian idea of God has already become mine, and thus I am joining the ranks of the “modern pantheists,” as [Heinrich] Leo and [Ernst Wilhelm] Hengstenberg say, knowing well that even the word pantheism arouses such colossal revulsion on the part of pastors who don’t think.
Friedrich Engels, Letters of Frederick Engels to Friedrich Graeber in Berlin. 1840.

The beginning of the process leading to dialectical completion, within Marxism, is first evident in some of Engel’s later work. Toward the end of his career, he described a version of the cosmic envelope:

Motion in the most general sense, conceived as the mode of existence, the inherent attribute of matter, comprehends all changes and processes occurring in the universe, from mere change of place right to thinking....
The whole of nature accessible to us forms a system, an interconnected totality of bodies, and by bodies we understand here all material existence extending from stars to atoms, indeed right to ether particles, in so far as one grants the existence of the last named. In the fact that these bodies are interconnected is already included that they react on one another, and it is precisely this mutual reaction that constitutes motion. It already becomes evident here that matter is unthinkable without motion. And if, in addition, matter confronts us as something given, equally uncreatable as indestructible, it follows that motion also is as uncreatable as indestructible. It became impossible to reject this conclusion as soon as it was recognised that the universe is a system, an interconnection of bodies.
Friedrich Engels, Dialectics of Nature. 1883. English-language translation, 1939.

He was even open to the possibility of a unity of existence “beyond the boundary line of our horizon”:

If we speak of existence and merely of existence, the unity can only consist in this that all objects with which it is concerned are—exist. They are comprised under the unity of this common existence, and no other, and the general dictum that they all exist cannot give them any further qualities, common or not common, but excludes all such from consideration in advance. For as soon as we take a step beyond the simple fact that existence is common to all things, the distinctions between these separate things engage our attention, and if these differences consist in this that some are black, some white, some alive, others not alive, some hither and some beyond, we cannot conclude therefrom that mere existence can be imputed to all of them alike.
The unity of the universe does not consist in its existence, although its existence is a presumption of its unity, since it must first exist before it can be a unit. Existence beyond the boundary line of our horizon is an open question. The real unity of the universe consists in its materiality, and this is established, not by a pair of juggling phrases but by means of a long and difficult development of philosophy and natural science.
Friedrich Engels, Landmarks of Scientific Socialism. 1877. English-language translation, 1907.

To round up this chapter, Marxism and Critical Realism are types of realism. In a sense, metaReality is a trans-Marxism, a completed Marxism, a meta-Marxism, and a completed Critical Realism. Perhaps by extension, metaReality also becomes, in the emancipatory cosmic envelope of nonduality or unity, a realism fulfilled, a sectarianism fulfilled, a sociology fulfilled, a nationalism fulfilled, a politics fulfilled, and so forth:

Ultimately the dialectic of self-realisation ushers in a dialectic of God-realisation, conveying (in one sense or inflection of “God-realisation”) the conatus to the embodiment of heaven on earth. In such a state, concretely singularised Self-centred subjects flourish in selfless solidarity with each and all in “unity existence” (being and doing).
Roy Bhaskar, From East to West: Odyssey of a Soul. New York: Routledge. 2000. Page 4.

Return to the table of contents.

XII. Sciences

In Bhakar’s realist epistemology, knowledge is relativist or fallibilist. Human categories of attributes are conditioned by one’s understanding and capacity. A discussion of the Arabic term, ʾilm (plural, ʾūlum), which can be translated both as science and knowledge, may help to clarify my perspective on this principle. Bahá’í epistemology, as the unfettered or independent search after truth, has, according to His beloved Presence ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, multiple sources, not just one. That is to say, science, when it is redefined as human knowledge through acquiring, embracing, and loving the attributes of essences, can utilize various types of data.

For instance, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in the quotation below, begins His discussion of epistemology, as He does with many subjects, by grounding His statements within the context of Aristotelian philosophy. He then concludes His reiteration of the classical Aristotelian model by apparently dismissing Aristotle’s direct realism and, in its place, presenting a relativist position. The typology, or model, of the beloved Master seems, at least on the surface, to be remarkably similar to epistemic (knowing) relativism (pragmatic fallibilism). From His point of view, any human  methods of discovery and understanding are ultimately imperfect:

There are only four accepted methods of comprehension—that is to say, the realities of things are understood by these four methods.
The first method is by the senses—that is to say, all that the eye, the ear, the taste, the smell, the touch perceive is understood by this method. Today this method is considered the most perfect by all the European philosophers ....
The second is the method of reason, which was that of the ancient philosophers, the pillars of wisdom; this is the method of the understanding....
The third method of understanding is by tradition—that is, through the text of the Holy Scriptures .... This method equally is not perfect, because the traditions are understood by the reason. As the reason itself is liable to err, how can it be said that in interpreting the meaning of the traditions it will not err, for it is possible for it to make mistakes, and certainty cannot be attained....
Know then: that which is in the hands of people, that which they believe, is liable to error. For, in proving or disproving a thing, if a proof is brought forward which is taken from the evidence of our senses, this method, as has become evident, is not perfect; if the proofs are intellectual, the same is true; or if they are traditional, such proofs also are not perfect. Therefore, there is no standard in the hands of people upon which we can rely.
But the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension which is infallible and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty can alone be attained.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Pages 297-299.
The steed of this Valley [Search] is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. Nor should he ever be downhearted; if he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. For those who seek the Kaʾbih of “for Us” rejoice in the tidings: “In Our ways will We guide them.” In their search, they have stoutly girded up the loins of service, and seek at every moment to journey from the plane of heedlessness into the realm of being. No bond shall hold them back, and no counsel shall deter them.
Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys,” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 5.
[The Bahá’í Faith] enjoins upon its followers the primary duty of an unfettered search after truth ....
Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come. Page vi.

To my understanding, human names or categories of essential attributes are relative to our finite understandings. On the other hand, the divinely created essences themselves, such as humanity and religion, are unknowable. We learn about them, indirectly, only if they are specifically mentioned in an authoritative text. Therefore, knowledge or science is limited to an exploration of the individualized attributes of unifying essences:

Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is known through its qualities; otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 220.
The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehendeth, whereas the soul is free from all agencies.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Page 8.
Science and Religion

The Bahá’í Faith is, according to Shoghi Effendi, compatible with the scientific method. Yet, religion and science are not the same:

The Revelation proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh, His followers believe, is divine in origin, all-embracing in scope, broad in its outlook, scientific in its method ....
The Bahá’í Faith ... teaches that ... it [religion] must go hand-in-hand with science ....
From The Bahá’í Faith: A Summary of Its Aims, Teachings and History

The harmony of science and religion  is not, in my opinion, merely speculation. Even as the unity, or the essence, of religions is unknowable, the essence of human knowledge or science, should there be such a thing, would be unknowable, as well. Because essences are, by definition, unknowable, this principle is not metaphysical. Although we might limit our speculatons on the mystical reality of the harmony of science and religion, we acquire attributes along both roads to human understanding. These attributes, including the prescribed functions of religion and science, have been defined for us:

With regard to the harmony of science and religion, the Writings of the Central Figures and the commentaries of the Guardian make abundantly clear that the task of humanity, including the Bahá’í community that serves as the “leaven” within it, is to create a global civilization which embodies both the spiritual and material dimensions of existence. The nature and scope of such a civilization are still beyond anything the present generation can conceive. The prosecution of this vast enterprise will depend on a progressive interaction between the truths and principles of religion and the discoveries and insights of scientific inquiry. This entails living with ambiguities as a natural and inescapable feature of the process of exploring reality. It also requires us not to limit science to any particular school of thought or methodological approach postulated in the course of its development. The challenge facing Bahá’í thinkers is to provide responsible leadership in this endeavour, since it is they who have both the priceless insights of the Revelation and the advantages conferred by scientific investigation.
From a letter, dated May 17, 1995, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to this writer.

Although divine religion and the sciences should and, from a Bahá’í perspective, must work together in harmony, the sciences cannot be collapsed into, or eclipsed by, the divine religions. Neither would the Religion of God ever become, in common usage, “scientific.” Nevertheless, religious conviction and academic scholarship, including the social sciences and the humanities, should not, as I see it, be expected to function in total isolation from one another. Indeed, all branches of study or practice, whether in academia or in other occupations, should, I feel, have a spiritual and a moral dimension.

To express this idea in another way, much as revealed religion cannot be reduced to the sciences, the sciences cannot be reduced to divine religion. So-called scientific religions, approaches to religion which also claim to be objectively “scientific,” indicate, in my opinion, a misguided pseudoscience – in which nonscience masquerades as science. My heart’s current inclination is to define sociology, the exploration of human relationships, as a human scientific exploration of empirical and spiritual relationships, not to obscure the differences between any human investigations or experiences and the eternal Religion of God.

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Sir Issac Newton quoted in Sir David Brewster, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. Volume 2. Edinburgh: Thomas Constable and Co. 1855. Page 407.
The Human Sciences
The historical mission of a Reflexive Sociology is to transcend sociology as it now exists. In deepening our understanding of our own sociological selves and of our position in the world, we can, I believe, simultaneously help to produce a new breed of sociologists who can also better understand other men and their social worlds.
Alvin Ward Gouldner (1920-1980), The Coming Crisis in Western Sociology. New York: Basic Books. 1970. Page 489.

Another view, often found in anglophone, francophone, and other countries, is that a scientific method can, with merely a few adjustments, be made to work in some fields, including biology and sociology, but not in others, such as literature and philosophy. This universal scientific method, which was an ideal of the Enlightenment (about 1650-1800), is sometimes called positivism, scientism, or scientific idolatry. It has since been challenged by the less holistic, and more particularistic, perspective that, even though all disciplines have their particular methodologies, none of them are necessarily more or less scientific than the others.

Strong empiricism ... [is] the epistemological doctrine that experience not only is a ground for knowledge but also is the best or only ground. There are not, and cannot be, meaningful assertions other than those verified, or verifiable, by positive empirical evidence. This is a revolutionary doctrine because its demand that all alleged truths be put to the test of experience undermines metaphysical beliefs grounded in intuition, pure reason, faith, tradition, and authority. Doctrinal empiricism sometimes is content to invalidate the epistemological claims of these alternative routes to knowledge and pronounce itself agnostic with respect to the objects these methods allegedly apprehend (e.g., God, value, beauty, freedom, the soul). Frequently, however, strong empiricism affirms the ontological doctrine that extraempirical, nonobservable things do not exist. Advocates call this ontological doctrine naturalism, whereas dissenters call it scientism or positivism.
Jonathan Smith, “Empiricism.” Encyclopedia of Human Geography. Barney Warf, editor. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 2006. Pages 130-131.

Although the Enlightenment model continues to haunt many academic departments to the present day, there is, and never has been, much consistency in the application of the term, science. Within the Bahá’í Sacred Texts, ʾilm (knowledge or science) is sometimes used in the broad sense, common in the Islāmic world, which even includes theology (aqīdah). Ideally, in my opinion, we might simply stop referring to science altogether or, my own preference, generalize it to refer to the diverse methodologies for pursuing knowledge in different fields of research. Thus, while there are sciences, there is no single scientific method.

Humanism, in opposition to a strict positivism, recognizes the distinctiveness and subjectivity of human beings. Unfortunately, humanism has several only minimally related definitions. The term does not, from a sociological perspective, refer, as a rule, to the nontheistic secular humanism. Rather, human nature, from a humanistic viewpoint, cannot be effectively or comprehensively studied using any of the positivist methods which fail to treat humans as humans. Strong social constructionism, which also opposes humanism, is a nominalist or conceptualist perspective. It rejects human nature as unsupportable speculative metaphysics.

Humanism, in the usual sociological sense, is related to the German, human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften, literally, sciences of the human spirit or mind). It is an interdisciplinary subject area with the social sciences, some of the humanities, and theology. Even in the English language, expressions, such as fire science and police science, describe occupations which defy the more usual physical sciences, biological sciences, and social sciences. Ultimately, the manner in which science is defined has often been a function of traditional divisional and departmental structures in the higher educational systems of specific countries.

However, human science, as that term is currently used in the United States and elsewhere, is an approach to the social sciences and the humanities which emphasizes the distinctiveness of human beings. Because we are willful and emotional creatures, applying the methods of the physical and biological sciences to human life would be informative but insufficient. Excluding subjective observations denies the humanity of humans. With some qualitative human science methods, such as Heartfulness Inquiry™, even a researcher’s personal spiritual experiences can be taken as data to explore and examine.

Since human science is, by definition, a human activity, it is distinct from the Religion of God which has been divinely and progressively revealed. Only a Prophet can manifest the creative Word. However, human science perspectives might be among the methodological pathways to follow toward realizing the harmony of science, or the unfettered search after truth, and religion. As the divinely willed interrelationships between religion and the sciences are better grasped and heartfully appreciated, new or revised research methodologies, ones more attuned to divine Revelation, will be formulated over time:

Some of the protagonists in the discussions on the Internet have implied that the only way to attain a true understanding of historical events and of the purport of the sacred and historical records of the Cause of God is through the rigid application of methods narrowly defined in a materialistic framework....
The Universal House of Justice does not see itself obliged to prescribe a new scientific methodology for Bahá’í academics who make study of the Faith, its teachings and history the subject of their professional activities. Rather has it concentrated on drawing the attention of these friends to the inadequacy of certain approaches from a Bahá’í point of view, urging them to apply to their work the concept which they accept as Bahá’ís: that the Manifestation of God is of a higher realm and has a perception far above that of any human being. He has the task of raising humankind to a new level of knowledge and behaviour. In this, His understanding transcends the traditions and concepts of the society in which He appears....
Although, in conveying His Revelation, the Manifestation uses the language and culture of the country into which He is born, He is not confined to using terminology with the same connotations as those given to it by His predecessors or contemporaries; He delivers His message in a form which His audience, both immediate and in centuries to come, is capable of grasping. It is for Bahá’í scholars to elaborate, over a period of time, methodologies which will enable them to perform their work with this understanding. This is a challenging task, but not one which should be beyond the scope of Bahá’ís who are learned in the Teachings as well as competent in their scientific disciplines.
From a letter, dated February 8, 1998, written by the Universal House of Justice to an individual Bahá’í.

When Bahá’í youth requested Shoghi Effendi’s guidance, the courses of study he frequently recommended were history, economics, and sociology. Reading this advice to others influenced my decision to get a Ph.D. in sociology and history. I have also pondered over his possible reasons for suggesting, in particular, sociology. Perhaps the answer lies in the Unity of God and the other unifying essences of existence. Since, as social beings, we can experience our interrelationships with entities in each of the five kingdoms of being, not only with our own species, sociological research becomes an expression of love.

The Guardian has always advised young people to study deeply such subjects as History, Economics and Sociology as they are all related to the teachings and aid in understanding the Faith.
From a letter, dated May 12, 1944, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Page 629.

Sociology is one of the academic disciplines which studies human social relationships. Inspired by this new era of unity and interconnectedness, sociology might be broadened to explore our connections with other beings and things. As social creatures, we can bond with Prophets, with departed souls, and, ecologically, with animals, vegetables, and minerals, not only with our own species. The perfections in these three lower kingdoms of nature are our physical ingredients. Indeed, human ecology is subfield of sociology which examines linkages of human populations with the physical environment.

My heart’s desire, which I completely dismissed as a nominalist, was for a sociology renewed. That flame reignited while preparing this book. Therefore, I have developed Unities of All Things™, including Heartfulness Inquiry™, as a form of clinical sociology. The concept of social relationships, in sociology, might be extended beyond the human kingdom to include the other four kingdoms of beings and things. The following quotation is from an article published decades ago in the official journal of the Association for the Sociology of Religion  (then called the American Catholic Sociological Society):

A discussion of the function of the spiritual in sociology has to go back to the essence  of the spiritual of which the institutionalized forms are derivatives. In order to show the connections between sociology and the spiritual, we propose the concept of reality as a fundamental frame of reference. The realm of sociology is  social reality. This is a universe of objects, within which there is man, individuals and groups, interpersonal and intergroup relations, stratified society, cultures, their differences and their unities, and finally, all the objects and objective data which in any way enter into the life of people....
So far reference to value and value commitment has shown us that the proper realm of sociology, i.e., social reality, points to spiritual reality; this is the aspect of transcendence in sociology. But this gives us only a limited view of spiritual reality, its impact on social reality and on sociology, the science which tries to understand social reality....
... Social reality demands reference to spiritual reality, to the mystery of being....
Sociology depends on a meta-sociology in order to develop a model of man that is adequate to human existence in face of the spiritual which we defined as the mystery of being.
Rudolph Morris, “The Concept of the Spiritual and the Dilemma of Sociology,” Sociological Analysis. Vol. 25, No. 3 (Autumn, 1964).

While Morris might have been an Aristotelian or a Thomist (Thomas Aquinas) realist, which is certainly not uncommon in Roman Catholicism, sociologist Robert Bellah’s symbolic realism appears to be objective idealism or cultural sociology:

It seems to me that in the fruitful interchange between social science and religion we may be seeing the beginnings of the reintegration of our culture, a new possibility of the unity of consciousness. If so, it will not be on the basis of any new orthodoxy, either religious or scientific. Such a new integration will be based on the rejection of all univocal understandings of reality, of all identifications of one conception of reality with reality itself. It will recognize the multiplicity of the human spirit, and the necessity to translate constantly between different scientific and imaginative vocabularies. It will recognize the human proclivity to fall comfortably into some single literal interpretation of the world and therefore the necessity to be continuously open to rebirth in a new heaven and a new earth. It will recognize that in both scientific and religious culture all we have finally are symbols, but that there is an enormous difference between the dead letter and the living word.
Robert Neelly Bellah, Beyond Belief: Essays on Religion in a Post-Traditionalist World. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1970. Page 246.
... symbols ... express reality and are not reducible to empirical propositions. This is the position of symbolic realism.
... I don’t mean that all religions are saying the same thing in doctrinal or ethical terms—obviously they are not. But religion is one for the same reason that science is one—though in different ways—because man is one. No expression of man’s attempt to grasp the meaning and unity of his existence, not even a myth of a primitive Australian, is without meaning and value to me.
Robert Neelly Bellah, “Christianity and Symbolic Realism.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing. Volume 9. Number 2. Summer, 1970. Pages 89-96.

Return to the table of contents.

XIII. Conclusion
My Journey

For better or worse, I have remained, epistemologically, a fallibilist or relativist since my youth. Although my approach to ontology has changed several times, I found some way, at each turn, to maintain that relativism. Since my open-mindedness to other viewpoints has remained fairly consistent throughout my life, I was always willing and eager, perhaps by temperament, to closely examine them. On the other hand, I would sometimes rationalize to myself that I was just practicing my sociology of religion or studying social theory. To be honest, however, I was, theoretically and philosophically, a socially disconnected Autistic seeker.

At around 12 years old, in 1968, I first became a Neoplatonist, an objective metaphysical idealist, with my “scientific religion” of Soulology. I accepted the Bahá’í Faith two years later. From 1978 until 2003, a period which included all my years of graduate school and much of my academic career, I added integralism to my Neoplatonism. During that time, my sociological thinking revolved around the perennial philosophy of Renaissance man, Pitirim A. Sorokin. I discussed his relationship to the developing integralist movement earlier in the book.

Then, in 2003, I drifted, with little difficulty, from accepting universal essences, as a Neoplatonist, to briefly re-imagining them as a critical realist, and to ultimately forsaking them as a strong social constructionist and nominalist. Each of these perspectives was approached in previous chapters. I now understand why Roscelin of Compiègne and William of Ockham, both nominalists in their own ways, have frequently been considered as dangerous souls within Roman Catholicism. By rejecting unifying essences, nominalism can become socially and spiritually corrosive or, perhaps, even toxic.

Still, I have learned from nominalism that the Will of God, through His Prophets, is supreme over His creation. For years, I despised nominalism. My willingness to adopt it, along with a strong social constructionism, was, I feel, related to my Autism, as a lack of awareness of essential human interrelationships, and my unfortunate, self-destructive anger at a certain individual. In a sense, nominalism is Autistic, and my Autism became my nominalism.

When I returned to Critical Realism, after an eight-year detour as a nominalist and a social constructionist, I came almost full circle. Now, however, I can frequently feel, during periods of meditation or deepening, that the essences of attributes are considerably more than nominal. Perhaps, I have often reflected, I was guided by certain beloved friends and companions in the next world to deconstruct my life so that His Blessed Presence Bahá’u’lláh, my Lord, could unite it, or repackage it, together for me.

Over the years, my wonderful feelings, thoughts, and memories have deepened into the approach I now call the Unicentric Paradigm. Hopefully, despite my numerous limitations, I have communicated some of them. Ultimately, in my view, human souls are inner hearts. When we leave this temporary existence, or spiritual workshop, any possessions we have accumulated remain behind. We take with us our love, including the loving relationships we have developed with other souls. If we are not, in the spiritual Kingdom, forming these eternal connections now, life, as I see it, is hardly worth living.

The consummation of this limitless universe with all its grandeur and glory hath been man himself, who in this world of being toileth and suffereth for a time, with divers ills and pains, and ultimately disintegrates, leaving no trace and no fruit after him. Were it so, there is no doubt that this infinite universe with all its perfections has ended in sham and delusion with no result, no fruit, no permanence and no effect. It would be utterly without meaning. They were thus convinced that such is not the case, that this Great Workshop with all its power, its bewildering magnificence and endless perfections, cannot eventually come to naught. That still another life should exist is thus certain, and, just as the vegetable kingdom is unaware of the world of man, so we, too, know not of the Great Life hereafter that followeth the life of man here below.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel. Page 14.

Paradise, I feel, is virtuousness and servitude. As my late spiritual mother, Elizabeth Thomas, suggested to me, Hell, in the next world, is the realization that one could have done more while living in the mortal world. Consider the Hell of an oppressive individual, someone who had tremendous power in this world, arriving in the next world. That person would have all the memories and imperfections of her or his earthly life with none of the power. Perhaps that person should have tried to be a better servant of God and humanity. In this world, Paradise and Hell might also involve, respectively, virtuousness and a similar sense of regret. Indeed, when the “evil” did, they are sent to everlasting hellfire. All things being equal, that is where they will remain. However, through their own prayers or the intercessions of others, they can be rescued from their hellish state.

The immortality of the spirit is mentioned in the Holy Books; it is the fundamental basis of the divine religions. Now punishments and rewards are said to be of two kinds: first, the rewards and punishments of this life; second, those of the other world. But the paradise and hell of existence are found in all the worlds of God, whether in this world or in the spiritual heavenly worlds. Gaining these rewards is the gaining of eternal life. That is why Christ said, “Act in such a way that you may find eternal life, and that you may be born of water and the spirit, so that you may enter into the Kingdom.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 223.

Degrees of Heaven or Paradise and degrees of Hell, in all the lifeworlds of God, are relative to one’s level of spiritual development:

They say: “Where is Paradise, and where is Hell?” Say: “The one is reunion with Me; the other thine own self, O thou who dost associate a partner with God and doubtest.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Page 132.
The immortality of the spirit is mentioned in the Holy Books; it is the fundamental basis of the divine religions. Now punishments and rewards are said to be of two kinds: first, the rewards and punishments of this life; second, those of the other world. But the paradise and hell of existence are found in all the worlds of God, whether in this world or in the spiritual heavenly worlds. Gaining these rewards is the gaining of eternal life. That is why Christ said, “Act in such a way that you may find eternal life, and that you may be born of water and the spirit, so that you may enter into the Kingdom.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 223.
As the usefulness and powers of the life (of a child) were not seen in that dark and narrow world (of the womb), but when it is brought into this vast world, all the use of its growth and development becometh manifest and obvious in it, so likewise, reward and punishment, paradise and hell, and the requital of deeds and actions done by it in the present life become manifest and evident when it is transferred to the world to come—which is far from this world! Had the life and growth of the child in the womb been confined to that condition, then the existence of the child in the womb would have proved utterly abortive and unintelligible; as would the life of this world, were its deeds, actions and their results not to appear in the world to come.
Therefore, know thou that the True One possesseth invisible worlds which human meditation is unable to comprehend and the intellect of man hath no power to imagine. When thou wilt purify and clarify thy spiritual; nostrils from every worldly moisture, then thou wilt inhale the holy fragrances diffusing from the merciful gardens of these worlds.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ʿAbbás. Pages 644-645.
Personal Mentors

The late Marian Crist Lippitt began her spiritual journey as a student of the late Henrietta “Emogene” Martin Hoagg (1869-1945), peace be upon them. When I was in my early teens, Marian was training me, through our brief mail correspondence (pre-email days), to participate in her massive Master Index of English-language Bahá’í texts. We only met twice face to face. The first time was in the home of my beloved spiritual mother, the late Elizabeth Thomas, peace and blessings be upon her. Marian looked deeply and lovingly into my eyes and said something like, “You have something else to do.” However, I think she was just being polite. I was not a very good indexing student.

Marian’s approach to the Bahá’í Faith has always been a major inspiration for my own. When I saw her for the second time, at the Green Acre Bahá’í School, she told me, as I recall, that she wished she could then go back and simplify her work. Rightly or wrongly, on September 30, 2011, it occurred to me that her statement might have been a personal request. Although her mind was as sharp as usual, she was elderly. The Unicentric Paradigm started in 1971, as Alethionomy, when, through patient Elizabeth, I began studying Marian’s compilation, The Worlds of God, along with booklets written by Henry A. Weil, peace be upon him.

Marian is, in my eyes, a spiritually advanced soul. She is much closer to God’s Presence, or Will, than I will likely ever be. As an example, the following quotation is so beautiful:

But once a soul moves up into 5th Dimensional consciousness [loving and knowing purpose and power  or spirit], the whole scene changes. There is no more evil or hell, because our Source is Glorious; and so is what the Source manifests and creates, because it is all fulfilling God’s purpose. WE begin to FEEL the divine Purpose and Power, the Spirit that animates us, the Will that over-rules the ego-will, the Word that reveals and manifests REALITY, etc.
Marian Crist Lippitt, Professionals and the Relationship to 5th Dimensional Realities.

The Unicentric Paradigm is similar to Marian’s Worlds of God 8. Although there are some very minor  differences, even major  ones might, from their own perspectives, be correct. No human individuals, in this world, will express themselves in exactly the same way:

The essence and the fundamentals of philosophy have emanated from the Prophets. That the people differ concerning the inner meanings and mysteries thereof is to be attributed to the divergence of their views and minds.
Bahá’u’lláh, Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Page 145.
The differences among the religions of the world are due to the varying types of minds. So long as the powers of the mind are various, it is certain that men’s judgements and opinions will differ one from another. If, however, one single, universal perceptive power be introduced—a power encompassing all the rest—those differing opinions will merge, and a spiritual harmony and oneness will become apparent. For example, when the Christ was made manifest, the minds of the various contemporary peoples, their views, their emotional attitudes, whether they were Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Israelites, or others, were at variance with one another. But once His universal power was brought to bear, it gradually succeeded, after the lapse of three hundred years, in gathering together all those divergent minds under the protection, and within the governance, of one central Point, all sharing the same spiritual emotions in their hearts.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Pages 63-64.

For example, my term for Materiality is Nature or, in other words, the human lower nature. In addition, I equate Rationality (the rational faculty or rational soul) with Mankind. Both, in my view, are the Human Kingdom, including the attributes of the unity of humanity. Furthermore, whereas Marian applied the term Humanness to the biological human entity, as a physical instrument of the human soul, I use Humanness as a synonym for the Human Kingdom. Humanness, as I believe Marian used it, is, in my opinion, a distinction without a difference from the Animal Kingdom. Therefore, man, in the sense of the homo sapien sapien subspecies, I classify under the Animal Kingdom.

MANKIND ... [is the] condition of Human Beings or SO’Ls as currently developed; personalities, each with its own human consciousness and spiritual powers .... HUMANNESS ... [is the] condition of the Human organism that serves, as a mental and emotional agent, the SO’L of which it is a part. RATIONALITY ... [is] the Human Thought World and ... the Human organism thru which the RATIONAL faculties of man function. [The] MATERIAL WORLD ... [is the] MATERIALITY of the physical universe composed of mineral, vegetable, and animal organisms perceptible to the body senses. Note: SO’L is used to denote the Soul on this plane because the real U is not fully present here.
Marian Crist Lippitt, Map of the Worlds of God.

In addition, much as my Heartfulness Inquiry is an emancipatory implementation of my The Unicentric Paradigm and my sociological Dialectical metaRealism, Marian’s Successful Self Direction® is an emancipatory application of her Worlds of God and her Science of Reality. From Marian’s idealist standpoint, which she developed in the Science of Reality, any reality can be viewed on three levels. She creatively designed a Reality Chart to describe each of them. This is my own illustration of the chart:

The Reality Chart

When Marian would occasionally say that the Master Index was the objective basis for this Science of Reality, she was, it seemed to me, expressing her modesty, awe, and love. Marian could not conceive, in her humility before dear Bahá’u’lláh, how all of the work which she accomplished over her lifetime could possibly have come from her. While expressing her personal understandings, she was not being definitive, absolute, or prideful. Unfortunately, some people took Marian’s comments literally and authoritatively. In their admiration for her and her research, they inadvertantly accused her of širk (claiming to share in God’s Sovereignty).

Similarly, I recognize that anything in the human science of Dialectical metaRealism, including the Unicentric Paradigm and Heartfulness Inquiry, is either the bounty of my Best Beloved Lord of Hosts (Hebrew, YHWH hā-Ṣəbāʾôt) or the product of my imagination:

I feel that regarding such interpretations (of verses from the Scriptures) no one has the right to impose his view or opinion and require his listeners to believe in his particular interpretation of the sacred and prophetic writings. I have no objection to your interpretations and inferences so long as they are represented as your own personal observations and reflections. It would be unnecessary and confusing to state authoritatively and officially a dogmatic Bahá’í interpretation to be universally accepted and taught by believers. Such matters I feel should be left to the personal judgement and insight of individual teachers.
Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community. April 6, 1928. Page 423.

Obviously, the Bahá’í Faith is bigger than any of us. As with many subjects, the conditions of existence, or worlds of God, can be viewed from several angles, not just one. Through Dialectical metaRealism, I combined the critical realist ontology of The Unicentric Paradigm with the critical realist epistemology of Heartfulness Inquiry™. However, Marian’s Science of Reality reflects a consistent and thoroughgoing idealism. To my understanding, she blended an objective idealism, based upon the love and knowledge (as purpose and power  or spirit) of God, with a subjective idealism  of personal awareness or perception:

There are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of the essence of a thing, and knowledge of its qualities. The first is beyond the reach of human Knowing powers; knowledge of the qualities of a thing is acquired by experience, discovery and revelation....
We are out of touch with the reality of what we are dealing with unless or until we are aware of its fifth dimension which is its Purpose-and-Power....
Knowing-power which is intelligence, and Love or Linking-power which is the ability to Link hearts and minds together, constitute the Source-Power called Spirit that is manifested in progressive degrees. They bring to Creation all the Power needed to fulfill its Purpose, and are activated as directed by personal volition.
Marian Crist Lippitt, 50 Postulates of the Science of Reality.
[The] Material World, Human Thought World, Humanness, Mankind, [and] Spirituality ... are formed by our levels of awareness or vision.
Marian Crist Lippitt, Map of the Worlds of God.

Using Marian’s splendid subjective  idealism, each of our words and conceptions is considered to be a reality. However, with her objective  idealism, an individual develops a God’s-eye viewpoint on reality by concentrating on the spirit. Marian commonly referred to the degrees of spirit, such as the Holy Spirit and the human spirit, as the purpose (to know and to love) and the power (knowing and loving) of existence. She also sometimes combined these two words as purposeful power  and powerful purpose. The following quotation describes aspects of both forms of idealism:

Any sign or evidence of existence that has been perceived by the human consciousness to the extent of being named, must be considered a reality.
The human mind deals in mental concepts expressed in words or other representations. Those representations, words and mental concepts designate what registers in the human consciousness, and are merely symbols of what actually exists. And what appears  in the human consciousness is simply signs of the existence of a more comprehensive reality. We know that reality exists, because a non-existent thing can give no sign of existence. Actually, anything that has been designated by a word and envisioned as a mental concept must be accepted as a reality, and that includes the entire human dictionary. Reality, then, encompasses the totality of existence.
From the Over-All  viewpoint, the science of reality sees that what appears in the human consciousness actually exists, but is very different from what underlies those appearances  or what we are reacting to....
In reality, life is glorious. What underlies appearances  is an unfailingly benevolent Purpose  backed by invincible Power.
Marian Crist Lippitt, What Reality does this Science Cover?

Like Marian, the late Henry Weil is a beautiful soul. I often feel his presence. His book, Closer Than Your Life Vein: An Insight Into the Wonders of Spiritual Fulfillment, is an epistle to the human heart. Its concept of “powers of the soul” might be understood through the Arabic term for soul (or self), nafs9. This Arabic word, which is much more flexible than its English translations, can refer to various forms of the self, including the physical body and the rational faculty. Each of these souls (nufūs) might be regarded as an individualization of innate and acquired attributes (characteristics or spirit).

The below listing contains the powers of the soul, as they were named by Henry, followed by my own definitions for each of these terms as attributes:

As an aside, another attribute of the soul, or aspect of the human spirit, might be an energy for personal struggle:

... The energy of personal struggle has been misunderstood and misapplied. The real purpose of that endowment is to equip the individual human being with capacity, not to overcome his fellow, but to transcend himself.
Horace Holley, Religion for Mankind. Wilmette IL: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. 1966. Page 193.

I believe that Henry was, like myself, a realist of some sort, not an idealist. As I was born and raised within two secular Jewish neighborhoods in New York City, Henry was a practical Midwestern man from St. Louis, Missouri. He never, during our telephone conversations or letters, seemed interested in an idealist metaphysics of the ideal forms (Ancient Greek, eídē, plural of eídos) of divine and human consciousness. In the quotation below, Henry emphasized the finitude of human understanding. God, the supreme unknowable Essence, can only be understood through His personal Attributes or Qualities:

All things begin with God as does our first premise that God is infinite and unknowable; that man’s conception of Him can only be a product of our imagination and that man’s description of Him can only be an enumeration of God’s qualities and powers as man comprehends these qualities or sees the results of these powers in action and in creation....
Man is limited to human finite understanding. In his attempts to understand the mysteries of creation, his answers, at a certain point, become mere conjecture.
Henry A. Weil, Closer Than Your Life Vein: An Insight Into the Wonders of Spiritual Fulfillment  (1978). Page 36.

Certainly, one can be proud of one’s background or history without personalizing it:

Unfortunately, owing to this obnoxious and vicious race prejudice of every sort which afflicts the world today, the term Jew has come more to mean a race than a religion. You certainly, as your father feels, should never wish to disassociate yourself from a group of people who have contributed as much to the world as the Jews have. On the other hand your actual religion today is Bahá’í, and he feels that Jews should, when they become Bahá’ís, always give this as their Faith, but as their racial descent [in today’s terms, ethnic background?] they should give “Jewish.”
From a letter, dated March 15, 1948, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1819.
The word Israel, used throughout the Bible, simply refers to the Jewish people, and not to the chosen ones of this day.
From a letter, dated April 21, 1939, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1674.

Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, Henry lovingly told me, over the phone, that he respected my views. The two of us became fast friends. Henry is a blessed spirit-filled being. Whenever my thoughts turn towards him, I feel his deep and abiding spiritual kinship and affinity. He is one of the dear souls whom I anxiously look forward to seeing again in the world to come. When I chaired the District Teaching Committee for the State of Mississippi, in the early 1980s, I arranged for him to speak at our summer school. Unfortunately, I sensed that his physical health was beginning to decline.

I just had an intuition, unless it was only my imagination, that each of the souls I have been discussing is among those I now have within my eternal spiritual family, community, or network. All of them were mavericks, original feelers and thinkers, in their days. Encouraged by Elizabeth’s independent spirit, I also believe that one should always investigate truth or reality for oneself. She constantly cautioned me against, as she put it, “absolute” thinking and “insisting” upon one’s own ideas. Differences of approach and opinion were, to use her term, “angles.” They were not necessarily right or wrong.

Elizabeth is my heart. From my own interpretation of her brilliant example, we should not become merely the imitators of others and their views or, worse, develop cults of personality. In her mindful, moderate, and practical approach to life, and to meeting my persistent daily spiritual needs for several years, she was, in my opinion, an excellent example of this beautiful verse by dearest Bahá’u’lláh:

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.
Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh. Arabic, number 2.

As a nominalist and a social constructionist, I tore apart, for eight years, the Bahá’í perspectives of these three precious friends. My comments were not personal, but I still regret making them. In spiritual communion, I have apologized to each of them, one by one. As I type, their loving comfort, is, I feel, around me. I pray for joyful reunions, according to God’s Will, in the vastness of the lifeworlds to come. While disagreements are inevitable, I try now to simply offer my own views, as clearly as I can, not to criticize, or even to critique, the ideas of others. Keeping a golden silence is often the best course.

On September 28, 2011, it suddenly occurred to me, with my renewed heart, what had happened. My Autism has made many common social situations intolerable. Due to someone with no connection to the Bahá’í Faith, I became estranged, or alienated, from the study of reality and the worlds of God, at least as these subjects had been taught to me by Marian and Elizabeth. As an extension, I also put aside Henry’s work, and I love him so much. Although I knew this individual in my real life, not  on the Internet, in order to avoid even a hint of gossip and backbiting, I have carefully disguised her identity.

The personality of the mother of my spirit of faith, the beloved Elizabeth Thomas, was almost completely the opposite from this woman. She was the most rigid individual I have ever known. Differences in understanding, on any topic, were, to her, simply intolerable. Because of my embarrassment and anger over this individual’s manipulative and verbally abusive behavior, I ended up rejecting most of the approaches to deepening which I had cherished over my lifetime as a Bahá’í. They defined me. Gratefully, however, I was able to put it all behind me. She has also, I have been told, passed away.

Unities between Hearts

To wrap up my comments, reality, overall, is, as I feel it, unity. The Singleness of God is the Source of other unities. That is to say, existence itself, in its structures or sets of rules, is based upon the Unity of God and His countless unities. All of the lower unifying essences, such as humanity and the divine religions, originate from and express that All-Highest Unity. Each of them is a collective, or unifying, center of beings and things with the attributes, or spirit, of unity. Although we are, individually, made of these attributes, by practicing faith in God, we can acquire even more of them throughout our lives.

Know that there are two natures in man: the physical nature and the spiritual nature. The physical nature is inherited from Adam, and the spiritual nature is inherited from the Reality of the Word of God, which is the spirituality of Christ. The physical nature is born of Adam, but the spiritual nature is born from the bounty of the Holy Spirit. The first is the source of all imperfection; the second is the source of all perfection.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 118.
What the Bahá’ís ... believe ... is that we have three aspects of our humanness, so to speak, a body, a mind and an immortal identity—soul or spirit. We believe the mind forms a link between the soul and the body, and the two interact on each other.
From a letter, dated June 7, 1946, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand. Page 89.
... when, as a result of human perversity, the light of religion is quenched in men’s hearts, and the divinely appointed Robe, designed to adorn the human temple, is deliberately discarded, a deplorable decline in the fortunes of humanity immediately sets in, bringing in its wake all the evils which a wayward soul is capable of revealing. The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves, under such circumstances, in their worst and most revolting aspects. Human character is debased, confidence is shaken, the nerves of discipline are relaxed, the voice of human conscience is stilled, the sense of decency and shame is obscured, conceptions of duty, of solidarity, of reciprocity and loyalty are distorted, and the very feeling of peacefulness, of joy and of hope is gradually extinguished.
Shoghi Effendi, The World Order Bahá’u’lláh. Page 187.

By the same token, these natures are human conditions, not, as in Zoroastrianism, fixed quantities:

... First concerning the human soul and its true nature. According to the Bahá'í conception, the soul of man, or in other words his inner spiritual self or reality, is not dualistic. There is no such thing, as the Zoroastrians believe, as a double reality in man, a definite higher self and a lower self. These two tendencies for good or evil are but manifestations of a single reality or self. The latter is capable of development in either way. All depends fundamentally on the training or education which man receives. Human nature is made up of possibilities both for good and evil. True religion can enable it to soar in the highest realm of the spirit, while its absence can, as we already witness around us, cause it to fall to the lowest depths of degradation and misery.
From a letter, dated May 25, 1936, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to Alfred Lunt, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 698.

I also feel a need, for some reason, to express my love for anyone reading this work. We have entered, I believe, into an eternal relationship with one another. Even if we never meet physically, the bonds which have been established between us may become evident in this world or in the world to come. Originally, I accepted created unifying essences with an intellectual misunderstanding. Then, for nearly a decade, I rejected them. Experiencing the attributes of the essence of humanity, as a reality, has made my heart acutely aware of that web of unity around us and its current state of distress.

With reference to your question as to the meaning of the term “Abhá Kingdom,” it is another term for the spiritual world beyond the grave.
From a letter, dated April 21, 1939, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Bahá’í, Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File. Number 1595.

I never had a clue before, but my understandings are still inadequate. Thank God that, through meditation and prayer, my heartfulness of the everlasting connections between hearts has, even as an Autistic man, increased almost daily. Together, I now sense, we share the attributes of the human essence or unity of humanity. From the empirical standpoint of a critical realist sociology, we are literally  the family of man. Indeed, the association, or the fellowship, of souls, within the heavenly kingdom, is neither vague nor entirely allegorical. Our oneness is both the spirit of the age and the promise of our species.

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1 I am not fluent in Arabic, but I can work with it. Unless otherwise stated, all English translations are from the Arabic or Persian languages (or, in some cases, a “Persianized” Arabic). There are differences, which will be evident, between the system of transliteration, or romanization, of Arabic and Persian words contained in official Bahá’í texts and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) system (or the Tiberian system for some Hebrew words) adopted in other parts of this work. (See this page on verb conjugation.) Diacritics (the signs used in transliteration) for various languages have sometimes been modified in quotations. Focusing on both translation and transliteration has, from my perspective, been a way to draw close, in my heart, to the individuals and ideas being discussed. Perhaps your experiences will be similar. Learning any “tongue” comes through love:
Speak in the Persian tongue, though the Arab please thee more;
A lover hath many a tongue at his command.
From Mawlānā (Our Master) Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī’s Maṯnawī (Persian, Maṯnavī), quoted by Bahá’u’lláh, “The Seven Valleys.” The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Page 58.

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1 al-Ḥiss al-muštarik (Ancient Greek, aísthēsis) is the common faculty. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appears to have adopted the concept from Aristotle.
The intermediary between the five outward powers and the inward powers is the sense which they possess in common-that is to say, the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty ....
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Page 210.

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3 In religious studies and in theology, unitarianism is the monotheistic view that God is a single Being, rather than a Unity of two or more Beings. The word, unitarianism, generally describes certain non-trinitarian Christian viewpoints, such as Sabellianism (also called modalism and modalistic monarchianism), adoptionism (also called dynamic monarchianism), and various types of Arianism (from Arius, not  to be confused with the white-supremacist “Aryanism”). However, it also occasionally refers to common doctrinal positions found under other religious categories, such as Judaism and Islām. When “unitarianism” is uncapitalized, it is distinguished from the more specific Unitarian  movement, which is basically Arian.
Bishop Alexander taught that Jesus was equal with God; Arius did not. So at a synod held at Alexandria in 321, Arius was deposed and excommunicated. Arius, although now in institutional disfavor, still had much support outside of Egypt. Many of the important bishops such as the learned historian Eusebius of Palestinian Caesarea and his powerful namesake, Eusebius, Bishop of Nicomedia, theologically agreed with Arius: Jesus Christ is not God.
Victor Paul Wierwille, Jesus Christ is not God. New Knoxville, OH: American Christian Press. Page 23.
The Islamic evangel was a revival of Jewish unitarianism ....
The Muslim unitarianism might be considered a Jewish heresy or a Christian one, and this was done by mediæval writers.
George Sarton, A Guide to the History of Science: A First Guide for the Study of the History of Science with Introductory Essays on Science and Tradition.

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4 The Unicentric Paradigm™, which expresses a new form of monotheism, is both unitarian (the divine Singular) and non-unitarian (the divine Plural). In non-unitarianism, one worships a Single Godhead which includes more than one Being or Person. Examples of non-unitarianism include: the Holy Trinity in most Christian churches, the God family in the Herbert W. Armstrong movement, the binitarianism (God in two Persons) in the two Churches of God (Seventh Day) and others, and the plurality of Gods in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For individuals unfamiliar with the Bahá’í Faith, the Unicentric Paradigm has been simplified as Echoes of Cosmic Unity in the book, The Echoing Practice.

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5 The Sābiʾūn (Sabæans or Sabians), whether referring to the Ḥarrānities or the Mandæans, should not be confused with the Old Testament Ṣabaʾiyūn of Sheba (Hebrew, Šəvā, or Arabic, Ṣābāʾ). The term, Ṣabaʾiyūn, does not appear in the Qurʾân, but the story of Solomon (Sulaymān) and the Queen of Sheba (or Bilqīs) is contained in chapter (sūrah, defense or apologia) 27 (an-Naml, the Ants). In order to emphasize the spelling differences in the original languages, my suggestion is to represent Ṣabaʾiyūn as “Shebans”. Unfortunately, the similarity in spelling between Sabæans and Sabians has added to the confusion. For instance, although some writers call the Ḥarrānities “Sabæans” and the Mandæans “Sabians,” the original word is, in both cases, Sābiʾūn. Further perplexing to some readers, other sources, including many Biblical translations, use “Sabæans” for the Shebans.

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6 By “the Buddha” is meant here the traditional Founder of Buddhism. His given name was Gotama (Pāḷi) or Gautama (Sanskrit). His family name was Siddhatta (Pāḷi) or Siddhārta (Sanskrit). He is also known as Sākyamuni (Pāḷi) or Śakyamuni (Sanskrit), the Sage of the Sākya (Śakya) kingdom of South Asia.

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7 Yôḥānān hā-Matbil literally  translates from the Hebrew as “John the Baptizer.” In Islām, He is called, Yaḥyā Ibn Zakarīyā or John, Son of Zechariah (Hebrew, Zəkaryā).

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8 The following diagram presents one version of dearly beloved Marian Crist Lippitt’s Map of the Worlds of God. Its resemblance to the Unicentric Paradigm will be obvious:
GOD, the Source of all Existence; (Unknowable Essence) DEITY, condition of Infinitude, Eternality, Divinity ===================================================== GREATER WORLD that God manifests—Condition of Prophethood World of Manifestation - In His Kingdom:—His Manifestation who manifests— Causing of God – Holy Spirit – Will of God – Word of God (God’s Cause) ====================================================== CREATION LESSER WORLD that God creates—Condition of Servitude World of Human Souls—Manifestation in the form of a Human Creature, reflecting Reality and capable of reflecting ALL the Attributes of God KINGDOM OF DEPARTED SOULS KINGDOM REVEALED Revealed Condition progressively to SO’Ls of Spirituality thru REVELATION and translated into RELIGION This is where each SOUL begins its prenatal life as a SO’L, grows, receives Enlightenment, and develops its maturity. WORLD ORDER OF BAHÁʾUʾLLÁH Below are Worlds proceeding from Human vision or spirit: MANKIND, condition of Human Beings or SO’Ls as currently developed; personalities, each with its own human consciousness and spiritual powers; man as a part of Humanity. HUMANNESS, condition of the Human organism that serves, as a mental and emotional agent, the SO’L of which it is a part. RATIONALITY, the Human Thought World and of the Human organism thru which the RATIONAL faculties of man function. MATERIAL WORLD, condition of MATERIALITY of the physical universe composed of mineral, vegetable, and animal organisms perceptible to the body senses. Note: SO’L is used to denote the Soul on this plane because the real U is not fully present here. Consciousness: Material World, Human Thought World, Humanness, Mankind, Spirituality, are formed by our levels of awareness or vision

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9 Nafs (plural, nufūs) is related to, or a cognate of, the Biblical Hebrew word for soul or creature, nefeš (plural, nefešîm).

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