I Am the Way: the Revelatory Experiences of the Manifestations

In this entry, I will attempt to provide a glimpse into the recorded revelatory experiences of the Manifestations of God. For each Manifestation, I will attempt a brief summary of the moments leading up to that most powerful instance where the Manifestation encounters God, and is made aware of His purpose. Then, I will refer to some quotations from the Holy Texts of the respective Manifestation wherein He declares His station, and claims to be the true path of salvation.

I believe that it is important for us to consider the historical context within which these events occur. Keep in mind that the similarity of these events transcend our conceptions of foresight, opportunism, coincidence, or venality. The Manifestations were separated by huge gaps in time and large geographical distances, yet their influence was equally pervasive and their message intimately connected.

What I hope this entry will inspire is an appreciation for the unity of the Manifestations of God. Of course, many of these stories cannot be verified with evidence since they are mostly the result of oral traditions; however, what is important is the obvious oneness of our world’s great religions, and the spiritual truths they reveal. ‘Abdu’l-Bahà describes the unity of the Manifestations in the following quotations:

“In the Word of God there is still another unity, the oneness of the Manifestations of God, His Holiness Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. This is a unity divine, heavenly, radiant, merciful; the one reality appearing in its successive manifestations. For instance, the sun is one and the same but its points of dawning are various. During the summer season it rises from the northern point of the ecliptic; in winter it appears from the southern point of rising. Each month between it appears from a certain zodiacal position. Although these dawning-points are different, the sun is the same sun which has appeared from them all. The significance is the reality of prophethood which is symbolized by the sun, and the holy Manifestations are the dawning-places or zodiacal points.”

“Each religion teaches that a mediator is necessary between man and the Creator — one who receives the full light of the divine splendor and radiates it over the human world, as the earth’s atmosphere receives and diffuses the warmth of the sun’s rays. This mediator between God and humanity has different designations though he always brings the same spiritual command.

In one era he is called Abraham, at another time Moses, again he is called Buddha, another time Jesus, and yet another time Mohammad. All turned to the divine reality for their strength. Those who followed Moses accepted him as their mediator; those who followed Zoroaster accepted him as their mediator; but all the Israelites deny Zoroaster, and the Zoroastrians deny Moses. They fail to see in both the one light. Had the Zoroastrians comprehended the reality of Zoroaster, they would have understood Moses and Jesus. Alas! The majority of men attach themselves to the name of the mediator and lose sight of the real purport.

Therefore did Bahá’u’llàh cry, ‘O God, deliver us from the sea of names!’

 

Man must turn to the light and not think that the form of the lamp is essential, for the lamp may be changed; but he who longs for light welcomes it from whatever source it comes.”

Krishna – Dated sometime around 3000 BCE

hinduism

Revelatory experience

There are numerous accounts of Krishna’s life and the experiences that would eventually form the basis of the Hindu religion. However, to avoid debate and contention around accuracy and validity I will focus on the most influential text of this Faith, the Bhagavad-Gita.

Although there is no exact reference to a revelatory experience, this book depicts an encounter between God’s physical creation (Arjuna), and the Supreme Manifestation, Krishna. As Krishna takes the reigns of humanity’s destiny—symbolically represented as the chariot driver—he reveals God’s laws and principles to Arjuna. This discourse leads Arjuna to eventually realize the sovereign station of Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Throughout this battle, many references are made to Krishna’s role as a great teacher and defender of justice amongst His peoples.

Claim as path to salvation

“Whoso worship me, Them I exalt; but all men everywhere shall fall into my path”

Zoroaster – Dates diverge between the 18th and 6th centuries BCE

Faravahar

Revelatory experience

As with Krishna, there is no explicit text to describe, with any level of accuracy, the life of Zoroaster. However, among His followers He was known as a great educator. Zoroaster revealed many laws and principles upon which the largest empire known to humanity (the Persian Empire) would be constructed. Zoroaster attributes His revelation as being inspired by the One true God: Ahura Mazda. The Zend-Avesta (the Holy book of the Zoroastrians) contains a dialogue between Zoroaster and Ahura-Mazda wherein Ahura-Mazda instructs Zoroaster as to the nature of His religion.

Claim as path to salvation

“So let all the deeds he doeth be henceforth good, O Zarathushtra! A full atonement for his sin is effected by means of the Religion of Mazda.”

“With these words the holy, Ahura Mazda rejoiced the holy Zarathushtra: Purity is for man, next to life, the greatest good, that purity, O Zarathushtra, that is in the Religion of Mazda for him who cleanses his own self with good thoughts, words, and deeds.”

The Buddha – Dated between 563 and 420 BCE

z121641351

Pre-revelatory experience

After taking a life of asceticism, and entering a state of meditation, Siddhartha is said to have discovered what Buddhists call the Middle Way—a path of moderation away from the extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification. Then, sitting under a pipal tree, now known as the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, he vowed never to arise until he had found the Truth.

Revelatory experience

After 49 days meditating, at the age of 35, he attained Enlightenment. At this point, he realized complete awakening and insight into the nature and cause of human suffering, ignorance. He also discovered the steps necessary to eliminate it this suffering. These truths were then categorized into the Four Noble Truths; the state of supreme liberation—possible for any being—was called Nirvana. He then came to possess the Nine Characteristics*, which are said to belong to every Buddha. The Buddha was wondering whether or not he should teach the Dharma to human beings. He was concerned that, as human beings were overpowered by greed, hatred and delusion, they would not be able to see the true dharma, which was subtle, deep, and hard to understand. However, a divine spirit, Brahmā Sahampati, interceded and asked that the Buddha teach the dharma to the world as “there will be those who will understand the Dharma.” With his great compassion to all beings in the universe, the Buddha agreed to become a teacher.

Claim as path to salvation

“He who takes refuge in The Buddha, the Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) and the Saõgha, Sees with wisdom the Four Noble Truths; Suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the cessation of suffering.”

*Nine Characteristics of a Buddha:

– A worthy one

– Perfectly self-enlightened

– Perfected in knowledge and conduct

– Well gone

– Unsurpassed knower of the world

– Unsurpassed leader of persons to be tamed

– Teacher of the gods and humans

– The Enlightened One

– The Blessed One or fortunate one

(A Buddha is synonymous to a Manifestation of the Ultimate Reality)

 

Moses – Dated between 1500 and 1200 BCE

Star of David

Pre-revelatory experience

After Moses witnesses an Egyptian guard beating a Hebrew slave, he kills the Egyptian and buries the body in the sand supposing that no one who knew about the incident would be disposed to talk about it. Moses soon discovers that the affair was known, and that Pharaoh was likely to put him to death for it. Consequently, he makes his escape over the Sinai Peninsula.

Revelatory experience

One day, Moses leads his flock to Mount Horeb, usually identified with Mount Sinai. At Mount Horeb, he witnesses a burning bush that would not be consumed.When he turns to look more closely at the marvel, God begins to speak to him from the bush, revealing Himself to Moses.

Claim as path to salvation

And God said unto Moses: ‘I AM THAT I AM’; and He said: ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: I AM hath sent me unto you.’ And God said moreover unto Moses: ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you; this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.”

Jesus Christ – 4BCE-30AD

Cross

Pre-revelatory experience

Following his baptism, Jesus was led into the desert by God where he fasted for forty days and forty nights

Revelatory experience

During this time, the devil appeared to him and tempted Jesus three times. Each time, Jesus refused temptation with a quotation of scripture from the Book of Deuteronomy. The devil departed and angels came and brought nourishment to Jesus.

Claim as path to salvation

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Muhammad – 570 to 632 AD

Islam

Pre-revelatory experience

Muhammad often retreated to Mount Hira near Mecca to meditate and escape from the vanities of the world. It was on one such occasion that He experienced His first revelatory experience.

Revelatory experience

Islamic tradition holds that the angel Gabriel began communicating with him on Mount Hira in the year 610, and commanded Muhammad to recite the following verses: Proclaim! (Or read!) In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created- Created man, out of a (mere) clot of congealed blood: Proclaim! And thy Lord is Most Bountiful, – He Who taught (the use of) the pen, – Taught man that which he knew not. Upon receiving his first revelations he was deeply distressed. This was followed by a pause of three years during which Muhammad gave himself up further to prayers and spiritual practices. When the revelations resumed he was reassured and commanded to begin preaching.

Claim as path to salvation

“This is the Book; in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah. Who believe in the Unseen, are steadfast in prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee, and sent before thy time, and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance, from their Lord, and it is these who will prosper.” “Those who reject Allah and hinder (men) from the Path of Allah, their deeds will Allah render astray (From their mark). But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in the (Revelation) sent down to Muhammad-for it is the Truth from their Lord, He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition.”

Bahá’u’llàh  – 1817 to 1892 AD

Baha'i

Pre-revelatory experience

In 1852, two years after the execution of the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh met briefly with some radical Bábi leaders and learned of an assassination plan against Nasser-al-Din Shah. Bahá’u’lláh condemned the plan, but on August 15, 1852 Bábís attempted the assassination on the life of the Shah and failed. Notwithstanding the assassins’ claim that they were working alone, the entire Bábí community was blamed, and a slaughter of several thousand Bábís followed. Many of the Bábís who were not killed, including Bahá’u’lláh, were imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál—an underground dungeon of Tehran.

Revelatory experience

“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 honoured servants.”

Claim as path to salvation

“O concourse of the earth! By God! I am the true Faith of God amongst you. Beware that ye deny Me not. God hath manifested Me with a light that hath encompassed all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth. Judge ye equitably, O people, My manifestation, and the revelation of My glory, and the radiance of My light, and be not of them that act unjustly.”

Conclusion

Throughout the ages God—the divine essence, the supreme architect, the unknowable essence, Allah, Vishnu, Ahura Mazda, the Creator—has revealed Himself to us through His Manifestations, Messengers, Prophets, Divine Educators. With each He has provided spiritual and social laws to guide an ever-advancing civilization towards its highest state: Unity. At one time this unity was of the individual, at another of the tribe, at yet another time it was the unity of a peoples, a civilization, a nation and now we are prepared for the next stage in our collective destiny: the unity of mankind. The message has always existed, it exists in nature, and it exists in all the natural laws of creation. It is an ancient religion that has gone by many names but still maintains the same truth.

“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause — a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it — verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.” – Bahá’u’lláh

 

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3 thoughts on “I Am the Way: the Revelatory Experiences of the Manifestations

  1. Hey I really appreciate this information. I’ve been looking for a resource that showed the equivalent of Christ’s “I am the Way….’ Go figure, I click on the 9th page of Google’s results and immediately find it.

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