Today I would like to gather some quotes concerning conflict and its alternatives. Let’s start with this:
Ye have been forbidden in the Book of God to engage in contention and conflict, to strike another, or to commit similar acts whereby hearts and souls may be saddened. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph #148
Bahá’u’lláh repeatedly emphasized non-conflict as the spiritual essence of our time, as one of the fundamental spiritual principles.
Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book. This is a decree of God in this Most Great Revelation. It is divinely preserved from annulment and is invested by Him with the splendour of His confirmation. Verily He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 222
“Strife and conflict befit the beasts of the wild,” Bahá’u’lláh admonishes us in His Tablets (p. 86). Instead of lowering to violence, human beings must rise to spiritual perfections and principled action, beginning with a focus on the heart.
O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Arabic Hidden Word #1.
Accompanying the enlightened heart, as the foundation of peace, is the principle of justice.
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, Arabic Hidden Word #2.
Bahá’u’lláh explains that justice, in this sense as an individual responsibility to independently determine the truth of any matter, is also the essence of religion (when it is practiced free of superstition and prejudice).
The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 157
Oppression prevents people from exerting their ability to learn, to investigate, and to develop independent conclusions about specific situations and about reality in general. People who are forced to remain in ignorance are unable to sort propaganda and prejudice from reality. This leads to conflict. If people are allowed to learn for themselves, however, harmony will emerge. Justice — the opportunity and duty to investigate and decide what is right — will lead to peace, harmony, and unity.
The light of men is Justice. Quench it not with the contrary winds of oppression and tyranny. The purpose of justice is the appearance of unity among men. The ocean of divine wisdom surgeth within this exalted word, while the books of the world cannot contain its inner significance. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 67
One of the practical implementations of justice is to deliberate information and perspectives with diverse people.
“Say: no man can attain his true station except through his justice. No power can exist except through unity. No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.” ~ Bahá’u’lláh, “Compilation on Consultation,” p. 3
We must go about our truth-seeking and problem-solving discussions with great care for the spirit of our effort, as well as for the quality of the deliberative process.
“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. …” “The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.” ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “Compilation on Consultation,” p. 5
‘Abdu’l-Bahá restates these principles in this passage:
“The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. … The second condition:—They must when coming together turn their faces to the Kingdom on High and ask aid from the Realm of Glory. They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one’s views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden. The honored members must with all freedom express their own thoughts, and it is in no wise permissible for one to belittle the thought of another, nay, he must with moderation set forth the truth…” “Compilation on Consultation,” pp. 5-6
Investigative discussions carried out with this level of devotion to both heart and justice can bring out substantial insights and facilitate considerable growth.
“Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.” ~ Bahá’u’lláh, “Compilation on Consultation,” p. 3
Now that humanity is approaching its maturity, we have alternatives to conflict. With enlightened hearts and devotion to justice, we can take counsel together, investigate reality, and find the truths that unite us.
This is the day when the gems of constancy that lie hid in the mine of men’s inner selves should be made manifest. O people of Justice! Be as brilliant as the light and as splendid as the fire that blazed in the Burning Bush. The brightness of the fire of your love will no doubt fuse and unify the contending peoples and kindreds of the earth, whilst the fierceness of the flame of enmity and hatred cannot but result in strife and ruin. ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 89