COMPILATIONS FROM THE BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS
NATURE AND BIODIVERSITY
A compilation of references in the Bahá'í Writings and statements of the Bahá'í International Community on nature and biodiversity. Often the references to natural phenomena are used in the Writings as a metaphor for human experience.
Bahá'í Attitude Towards Nature
PLANTS AND TREES
Approach to animals
Place of animals in the creation
Distinction between animals and humans
Need for man to rise above the animal state
Bahá'í Scriptures describe nature as a reflection of the sacred. They teach that nature should be valued and respected, but not worshipped; rather, it should serve humanity's efforts to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. However, in light of the interdependence of all parts of nature, and the importance of evolution and diversity "to the beauty, efficiency and perfection of the whole," every effort should be made to preserve as much as possible the earth's bio-diversity and natural order.
As trustees, or stewards, of the planet's vast resources and biological
diversity, humanity must learn to make use of the earth's natural
resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures
sustainability and equity into the distant reaches of time. This attitude
of stewardship will require full consideration of the potential
environmental consequences of all development activities. It will compel
humanity to temper its actions with moderation and humility, realizing
that the true value of nature cannot be expressed in economic terms. It
will also require a deep understanding of the natural world and its role
in humanity's collective development - both material and spiritual.
Therefore, sustainable environmental management must come to be seen not
as a discretionary commitment mankind can weigh against other competing
interests, but rather as a fundamental responsibility that must be
shouldered - a pre-requisite for spiritual development as well as the
individual's physical survival.
(Bahá'í International Community, Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998)
Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the
Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this
diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God’s Will and
is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a
dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were
anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of
being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power
whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can
perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendor of Our Name, the
Creator. Say: This is an existence which knoweth no decay, and Nature
itself is lost in bewilderment before its revelations, its compelling
evidences and its effulgent glory which have encompassed the universe.
(Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 142)
By nature is meant those inherent properties and necessary relations
derived from the realities of things. And these realities of things,
though in the utmost diversity, are yet intimately connected one with the
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablet to Dr. Forel, in The Bahá'í Revelation, p. 223)
This nature is subject to a sound organization, to inviolable laws, to a
perfect order, and to a consummate design, from which it never departs. To
such an extent is this true that were you to gaze with the eye of insight
and discernment, you would observe all things - from the smallest
invisible atom to the largest globes in the world of existence, such as
the sun or the other great stars and luminous bodies - are most perfectly
organized, be it with regard to their order, their composition, their
outward form, or their motion, and that all are subject to one universal
law from which they never depart.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chpt. 1, p. 3)
...originally matter was one, and that one matter appeared in a different
form in each element. Thus various forms appeared, and as they appeared,
they each assumed an independent form and became a specific element....
Then these elements were composed, arranged and combined in infinite
forms.... From the composition of the elements; from their combination,
manner and proportion; and from their interaction with other beings
countless forms and realities and innumerable beings have come to exist.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Haifa, Baha'i World Centre, 2014. Chpt. 47, p. 208-209)
...this terrestrial globe came to exist, grow and develop in the matrix
of the universe and assumed different forms and conditions until it
gradually attained its present completeness, became adorned with countless
beings, and appeared in such a consummate form.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions. Haifa, Baha'i World Centre, 2014. Chpt. 47, p. 210)
If we look with a perceiving eye upon the world of creation, we find that
all existing things may be classified as follows: First - Mineral - that
is to say matter or substance appearing in various forms of composition.
Second - Vegetable - possessing the virtues of the mineral plus the power
of augmentation or growth, indicating a degree higher and more specialized
than the mineral. Third - Animal - possessing the attributes of the
mineral and vegetable plus the power of sense perception. Fourth - Human -
the highest specialized organism of visible creation, embodying the
qualities of the mineral, vegetable and animal plus an ideal endowment
absolutely minus and absent in the lower kingdoms - the power of
intellectual investigation into the mysteries of outer phenomena. The
outcome of this intellectual endowment is science which is especially
characteristic of man. This scientific power investigates and apprehends
created objects and the laws surrounding them. It is the discoverer of the
hidden and mysterious secrets of the material universe and is peculiar to
man alone. The most noble and praiseworthy accomplishment of man therefore
is scientific knowledge and attainment.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í World Faith, p. 242)
...the growth and development of all beings proceeds by gradual degrees.
This is the universal and divinely ordained law and the natural order.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chpt. 51, p. 229)
All beings, whether universal or particular, were created perfect and
complete from the beginning. The most one can say is that their
perfections only become apparent gradually. The law of God is one; the
evolution of existence is one; the divine order is one.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chpt. 51, p. 229)
The innumerable created things that are found in the world of existence -
be they man, animal, plant, or mineral - must each be composed of
elements. There is no doubt that the completeness seen in each and every
thing arises, by divine creation, from the component elements, their
appropriate combination, their proportionate measure, the manner of their
composition, and the influence of other created things. For all beings are
linked together like a chain; and mutual aid, assistance, and interaction
are among their intrinsic properties and are the cause of their formation,
development and growth.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, Chpt. 46, p. 205)
As preordained by the Fountain-head of Creation, the temple of the world hath been fashioned after the image and likeness of the human body. In fact each mirroreth forth the image of the other, wert thou but to observe with discerning eyes. By this is meant that even as the human body in this world, which is outwardly composed of different limbs and organs, is in reality a closely integrated, coherent entity, similarly the structure of the physical world is like unto a single being whose limbs and members are inseparably linked together.
Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the realities of all things, it would become clear that the greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being together lieth in the range of created things themselves, and that co-operation, mutual aid and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly or indirectly.
Consider for instance how one group of created things constituteth the vegetable kingdom, and another the animal kingdom. Each of these two maketh use of certain elements in the air on which its own life dependeth, while each increaseth the quantity of such elements as are essential for the life of the other. In other words, the growth and development of the vegetable world is impossible without the existence of the animal kingdom, and the maintenance of animal life is inconceivable without the co-operation of the vegetable kingdom. Of like kind are the relationships that exist among all created things. 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.
In surveying the vast range of creation thou shalt perceive that the
higher a kingdom of created things is on the arc of ascent, the more
conspicuous are the signs and evidences of the truth that co-operation and
reciprocity at the level of a higher order are greater than those that
exist at the level of a lower order. For example, the evident signs of
this fundamental reality are more discernible in the vegetable kingdom
than in the mineral, and still more manifest in the animal world than in
('Abdu'l-Bahá, in Huququ'llah, Compilation of Compilations, page 509)
THE BAHÁ'Í ATTITUDE TOWARDS NATURE
Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed
abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source
of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement
and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath
the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of
this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and
(Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, Wilmette, Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1988, p. 44)
Bahá'u'lláh loved the beauty and verdure of the country. One day He
passed the remark: 'I have not gazed on verdure for nine years. The
country is the world of the soul, the city is the world of bodies.'
('Abdu'l-Bahá, in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era. Chpt. 3, p. 35)
Bahá'u'lláh said of His two years in the mountains: "the birds of the air
were My companions and the beasts of the field My associates."
(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 120)
In 1875 – eight years after Baha'u'llah's incarceration within the walls
of the prison city of Acre – His son 'Abdul-Baha rented an island formed
by two water canals. On this island, 'Abdu'l-Baha created an exquisite
garden for His father Who, by then, had suffered more than two decades of
imprisonment and exile. Baha'u'llah called the garden "Ridvan" – meaning
"paradise". After 'Abdu'l-Baha's acquisition of the island, pilgrims from
Iran and neighboring countries brought shrubs, trees and flowering plants
to populate the flower beds. During their long overland journeys, some of
the travelers watered the plants at the expense of their own thirst. As
restrictions on His movements were gradually relaxed, Baha'u'llah made His
first visits to the garden. He went there often, sometimes staying
overnight in a modest house on the island. Baha'u'llah referred to it as
'Our Verdant Isle' and wrote some beautiful things in which he describes
Himself actually sitting in the garden. In one passage, Baha'u'llah says
that He was here in the garden enjoying 'its streams flowing, and its
trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst.'
(Based on https://news.bahai.org/story/797/)
When... 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.... Then wilt thou observe that the universe is a scroll that discloseth His hidden secrets, which are preserved in the well-guarded Tablet. And not an atom of all the atoms in existence, not a creature from amongst the creatures but speaketh His praise and telleth of His attributes and names, revealeth the glory of His might and guideth to His oneness and His mercy....
And whensoever thou dost gaze upon creation all entire, and dost observe
the very atoms thereof, thou wilt note that the rays of the Sun of Truth
are shed upon all things and shining within them, and telling of that
Day-Star's splendours, Its mysteries, and the spreading of Its lights.
Look thou upon the trees, upon the blossoms and fruits, even upon the
stones. Here too wilt thou behold the Sun's rays shed upon them, clearly
visible within them, and manifested by them.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 41-42)
Consider the world of created beings, how varied and diverse they are in
species, yet with one sole origin. All the differences that appear are
those of outward form and colour. This diversity of type is apparent
throughout the whole of nature.... Let us look... at the beauty in
diversity, the beauty of harmony, and learn a lesson from the vegetable
creation. If you behold a garden in which all the plants were the same as
to form, colour and perfume, it would not seem beautiful to you at all,
but, rather, monotonous and dull. The garden which is pleasing to the eye
and which makes the heart glad, is the garden in which are growing side by
side flowers of every hue, form and perfume, and the joyous contrast of
colour is what makes for charm and beauty. So is it with trees. An orchard
full of fruit trees is a delight; so is a plantation planted with many
species of shrubs. It is just the diversity and variety that constitutes
its charm; each flower, each tree, each fruit, beside being beautiful in
itself, brings out by contrast the qualities of the others, and shows to
advantage the special loveliness of each and all.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 51-53)
The elements and lower organisms are synchronized in the great plan of
life. Shall man, infinitely above them in degree, be antagonistic and a
destroyer of that perfection?
('Abdu'l-Bahá, talk at Leland Stanford Junior University, Palo Alto, California, 8 October 1912. Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982. p. 350)
[Man] should be free and emancipated from the captivity of the world of
nature; for as long as man is captive to nature he is a ferocious animal,
as the struggle for existence is one of the exigencies of the world of
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 302)
...to man God has given such wonderful power that he can guide, control
and overcome nature.... What ignorance and stupidity it is to worship and
adore nature, when God in His goodness has made us masters thereof.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 122-123)
We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and
say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is
organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is
itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every
abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.
(Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 17 February 1933, Compilation on Social and Economic Development, p. 4)
Bahá'ís believe that the crucial need facing humanity is to find a
unifying vision of the nature and purpose of human life. An understanding
of humanity's relationship to the natural environment is an integral part
of this vision.
(Bahá'í International Community's Seven Year Plan of Action on Climate Change, 2009)
When we ponder over the conditions of phenomena, we observe that all phenomena are composed of single elements. This singular cell-element travels and has its coursings through all the grades of existence. I wish you to ponder carefully over this. This cellular element has at some time been in the mineral kingdom. While staying in the mineral kingdom it has had its coursings and transformations through myriads of images and forms. Having perfected its journey in the mineral kingdom, it has ascended to the vegetable kingdom; and in the vegetable kingdom it has again had journeys and transformations through myriads of conditions. Having accomplished its functions in the vegetable kingdom, the cellular element ascends to the animal kingdom....
Thus this flower once upon a time was of the soil. The animal eats the
flower or its fruit, and it thereby ascends to the animal kingdom. Man
eats the meat of the animal, and there you have its ascent into the human
kingdom, because all phenomena are divided into that which eats and that
which is eaten. Therefore, every primordial atom of these atoms, singly
and indivisible, has had its coursings throughout all the sentient
creation, going constantly into the aggregation of the various elements.
Hence do you have the conservation of energy and the infinity of
phenomena, the indestructibility of phenomena, changeless and immutable,
because life cannot suffer annihilation but only change.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Foundations of World Unity, pages 51-52)
...the atoms of the material elements are transferable from one form of
existence to another, from one degree and kingdom to another, lower or
higher. For example, an atom of the soil or dust of earth may traverse the
kingdoms from mineral to man by successive incorporations into the bodies
of the organisms of those kingdoms. At one time it enters into the
formation of the mineral or rock; it is then absorbed by the vegetable
kingdom and becomes a constituent of the body and fibre of a tree; again
it is appropriated by the animal, and at a still later period is found in
the body of man.
(`Abdu'l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 87-88)
PLANTS AND TREES
Reflect upon the material springtime. When winter comes, the trees are leafless, the fields and meadows withered, the flowers die away into dust heaps; in prairie, mountain and garden no freshness lingers, no beauty is visible, no verdure can be seen. Everything is clad in the robe of death. Wherever you look around, you will find the expression of death and decay. But when the spring comes, the showers descend, the sun floods the meadows and plains with light; you will observe creation clad in a new robe of expression. The showers have made the meadows green and verdant. The warm breezes have caused the trees to put on their garments of leaves. They have blossomed and soon will produce new, fresh and delightful fruits. Everything appears endowed with a newness of life; a new animus and spirit is everywhere visible. The spring has resuscitated all phenomena and has adorned the earth with beauty as it willeth.
Even so is the spiritual springtime when it comes.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 277-278)
The seed of last year is sown, branches and leaves grow forth, blossoms
and fruits appear, and all has again returned to seed. When this second
seed is planted, a tree will grow from it, and once more those branches,
leaves, blossoms and fruits will return, and that tree will appear in
perfection. As the beginning was a seed and the end is a seed, we say that
the seed has returned. When we look at the substance of the tree, it is
another substance, but when we look at the blossoms, leaves and fruits,
the same fragrance, delicacy and taste are produced. Therefore, the
perfection of the tree has returned a second time.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pages 133-134)
If the earth is not cultivated, it becomes a jungle where useless weeds
grow; but if a cultivator comes and tills the ground, it produces crops
which nourish living creatures. It is evident, therefore, that the soil
needs the cultivation of the farmer. Consider the trees: if they remain
without a cultivator, they will be fruitless, and without fruit they are
useless; but if they receive the care of a gardener, these same barren
trees become fruitful, and through cultivation, fertilization and
engrafting the trees which had bitter fruits yield sweet fruits....
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 7)
Nature is the material world. When we look upon it, we see that it is
dark and imperfect. For instance, if we allow a piece of land to remain in
its natural condition, we will find it covered with thorns and thistles;
useless weeds and wild vegetation will flourish upon it, and it will
become like a jungle. The trees will be fruitless, lacking beauty and
symmetry; wild animals, noxious insects and reptiles will abound in its
dark recesses. This is the incompleteness and imperfection of the world of
nature. To change these conditions, we must clear the ground and cultivate
it so that flowers may grow instead of thorns and weeds - that is to say,
we must illumine the dark world of nature. In their primal natural state,
the forests are dim, gloomy, impenetrable. Man opens them to the light,
clears away the tangled underbrush and plants fruitful trees. Soon the
wild woodlands and jungle are changed into productive orchards and
beautiful gardens; order has replaced chaos; the dark realm of nature has
become illumined and brightened by cultivation.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 308-309)
Behold a beautiful garden full of flowers, shrubs, and trees. Each flower
has a different charm, a peculiar beauty, its own delicious perfume and
beautiful colour. The trees too, how varied are they in size, in growth,
in foliage - and what different fruits they bear! Yet all these flowers,
shrubs and trees spring from the self-same earth, the same sun shines upon
them and the same clouds give them rain.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, page 52)
... the forms and organisms of phenomenal being and existence in each of
the kingdoms of the universe are myriad and numberless. The vegetable
plane or kingdom, for instance, has its infinite variety of types and
material structures of plant life each distinct and different within
itself, no two exactly alike in composition and detail for there are no
repetitions in nature, and the augmentative virtue cannot be confined to
any given image or shape. Each leaf has its own particular identity so to
speak, its own individuality as a leaf....
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, page 285)
The excellency, the adornment and the perfection of the earth is to be verdant and fertile through the bounty of the clouds of springtime. Plants grow; flowers and fragrant herbs spring up; fruit-bearing trees become full of blossoms and bring forth fresh and new fruit. Gardens become beautiful, and meadows adorned; mountains and plains are clad in a green robe, and gardens, fields, villages and cities are decorated. This is the prosperity of the mineral world.
The height of exaltation and the perfection of the vegetable world is
that a tree should grow on the bank of a stream of fresh water, that a
gentle breeze should blow on it, that the warmth of the sun should shine
on it, that a gardener should attend to its cultivation, and that day by
day it should develop and yield fruit. But its real prosperity is to
progress into the animal and human world, and replace that which has been
exhausted in the bodies of animals and men.
(`Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 78)
Unless ye must,
Bruise not the serpent in the dust,
How much less wound a man.
And if ye can,
No ant should ye alarm,
Much less a brother harm.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 256)
Approach to Animals
Burden not an animal with more than it can bear. We, truly, have
prohibited such treatment through a most binding interdiction in the Book.
Be ye the embodiments of justice and fairness amidst all creation.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, paragraph 187 , page 87)
He should show kindness to animals, how much more unto his fellow-man, to
him who is endowed with the power of utterance.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, page 265, and The Kitab-i-Iqan, page 194)
Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.
And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man.
Train your children from their earliest days to be infinitely tender and loving to animals. If an animal be sick, let the children try to heal it, if it be hungry, let them feed it, if thirsty, let them quench its thirst, if weary, let them see that it rests.
Most human beings are sinners, but the beasts are innocent. Surely those
without sin should receive the most kindness and love - all except animals
which are harmful, such as bloodthirsty wolves, such as poisonous snakes,
and similar pernicious creatures, the reason being that kindness to these
is an injustice to human beings and to other animals as well. If, for
example, ye be tender-hearted toward a wolf, this is but tyranny to a
sheep, for a wolf will destroy a whole flock of sheep. A rabid dog, if
given the chance, can kill a thousand animals and men. Therefore,
compassion shown to wild and ravening beasts is cruelty to the peaceful
ones - and so the harmful must be dealt with. But to blessed animals the
utmost kindness must be shown, the more the better. Tenderness and
loving-kindness are basic principles of God's heavenly Kingdom. Ye should
most carefully bear this matter in mind.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 158-160)
If ye should hunt with beasts or birds of prey, invoke ye the Name of God
when ye send them to pursue their quarry; for then whatever they catch
shall be lawful unto you, even should ye find it to have died. He, verily,
is the Omniscient, the All-Informed. Take heed, however, that ye hunt not
to excess. Tread ye the path of justice and equity in all things.
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, paragraph 60, page 40)
I have read thy letter, wherein thou didst express astonishment at some of the laws of God, such as that concerning the hunting of innocent animals, creatures who are guilty of no wrong.
Be thou not surprised at this. Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever. In the physical realm of creation, all things are eaters and eaten: the plant drinketh in the mineral, the animal doth crop and swallow down the plant, man doth feed upon the animal, and the mineral devoureth the body of man. Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself - since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.
Whensoever thou dost examine, through a microscope, the water man drinketh, the air he doth breathe, thou wilt see that with every breath of air, man taketh in an abundance of animal life, and with every draught of water, he also swalloweth down a great variety of animals. How could it ever be possible to put a stop to this process? For all creatures are eaters and eaten, and the very fabric of life is reared upon this fact. Were it not so, the ties that interlace all created things within the universe would be unravelled.
And further, whensoever a thing is destroyed, and decayeth, and is cut
off from life, it is promoted into a world that is greater than the world
it knew before. It leaveth, for example, the life of the mineral and goeth
forward into the life of the plant; then it departeth out of the vegetable
life and ascendeth into that of the animal, following which it forsaketh
the life of the animal and riseth into the realm of human life, and this
is out of the grace of thy Lord, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 156-158)
The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal,
but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the
wilderness, the animal's physician is the power of taste and smell. The
sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those
that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, page 258)
The proof of this is that while other animals have never studied medical
science, nor carried on researches into diseases or medicines, treatments
or cures - even so, when one of them falleth a prey to sickness, nature
leadeth it, in fields or desert places, to the very plant which, once
eaten, will rid the animal of its disease. The explanation is that if, as
an example, the sugar component in the animal's body hath decreased,
according to a natural law the animal hankereth after a herb that is rich
in sugar. Then, by a natural urge, which is the appetite, among a thousand
different varieties of plants across the field, the animal will discover
and consume that herb which containeth a sugar component in large amounts.
Thus the essential balance of the substances composing its body is
re-established, and the animal is rid of its disease.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 154)
And likewise, when the constitution is in a state of equilibrium, there
is no doubt that whatever is relished will be beneficial to health.
Observe how an animal will graze in a field where there are a hundred
thousand kinds of herbs and grasses, and how, with its sense of smell, it
snuffeth up the odours of the plants, and tasteth them with its sense of
taste; then it consumeth whatever herb is pleasurable to these senses, and
benefiteth therefrom. Were it not for this power of selectivity, the
animals would all be dead in a single day; for there are a great many
poisonous plants, and animals know nothing of the pharmacopoeia.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 155)
Even over animals, music has an effect. For example: When they wish to
take a camel over a desert road, they attach to him some bells, or they
play upon a flute, and this sound prevents him from realizing the fatigue
of the journey; his nerves are affected, but he does not have an increase
of thought, he feels nothing but physical sensation.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, in Music, Compilation of Compilations, page 79)
Place of Animals in the Creation
Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man all have actual being, yet the mineral has no knowledge of the vegetable. It cannot apprehend it. It cannot imagine nor understand it.
It is the same with the vegetable. Any progress it may make, however highly it may become developed, it will never apprehend the animal, nor understand it. It is, so to speak, without news of it. It has no ears, no sight, no understanding.
It is the same with the animal. However much it may progress in its own kingdom, however refined its feelings may become, it will have no real notion of the world of man or of his special intellectual faculties.
The animal cannot understand the roundness of the earth, nor its motion in space, nor the central position of the sun, nor can it imagine such a thing as the all-pervading ether.
Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man himself are actual
beings, the difference between their kingdoms prevents members of the
lower degree from comprehending the essence and nature of those of the
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, pages 22-23)
In the world of existence the animal is a captive of nature. Its actions
are according to the exigencies and requirements of nature. It has no
consideration or consciousness of good and evil. It simply follows its
natural instinct and inclination.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 40)
The pathway of nature is the pathway of the animal realm. The animal acts
in accordance with the requirements of nature, follows its own instincts
and desires. Whatever its impulses and proclivities may be, it has the
liberty to gratify them; yet it is a captive of nature. It cannot deviate
in the least degree from the road nature has established. It is utterly
lacking spiritual susceptibilities, ignorant of divine religion and
without knowledge of the Kingdom of God. The animal possesses no power of
ideation or conscious intelligence; it is a captive of the senses and
deprived of that which lies beyond them. It is subject to what the eye
sees, the ear hears, the nostrils sense, the taste detects and touch
reveals. These sensations are acceptable and sufficient for the animal.
But that which is beyond the range of the senses, that realm of phenomena
through which the conscious pathway to the Kingdom of God leads, the world
of spiritual susceptibilities and divine religion - of these the animal is
completely unaware, for in its highest station it is a captive of nature.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 177)
Distinction Between Animals and Humans
Ferocity has characterized men even more than animals. The lion, tiger,
bear and wolf are ferocious because of their needs. Unless they are
fierce, cruel and unrelenting, they will die of starvation. The lion
cannot graze; its teeth are fitted only for food of flesh. This is also
true of other wild animals. Ferocity is natural to them as their means of
subsistence; but human ferocity proceeds from selfishness, greed and
oppression. It springs from no natural necessity.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 103)
If the animals are savage and ferocious, it is simply a means for their
subsistence and preservation. They are deprived of that degree of
intellect which can reason and discriminate between right and wrong,
justice and injustice; they are justified in their actions and not
responsible. When man is ferocious and cruel toward his fellowman, it is
not for subsistence or safety. His motive is selfish advantage and willful
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 352)
The world of nature is the kingdom of the animal. In its natural
condition and plane of limitation the animal is perfect. The ferocious
beasts of prey have been completely subject to the laws of nature in their
development. They are without education or training; they have no power of
abstract reasoning and intellectual ideals; they have no touch with the
spiritual world and are without conception of God or the Holy Spirit. The
animal can neither recognize nor apprehend the spiritual power of man and
makes no distinction between man and itself, for the reason that its
susceptibilities are limited to the plane of the senses. It lives under
the bondage of nature and nature's laws. All the animals are materialists.
They are deniers of God and without realization of a transcendent power in
the universe. They have no knowledge of the divine Prophets and Holy Books
- mere captives of nature and the sense world. In reality they are like
the great philosophers of this day who are not in touch with God and the
Holy Spirit - deniers of the Prophets, ignorant of spiritual
susceptibilities, deprived of the heavenly bounties and without belief in
the supernatural power. The animal lives this kind of life blissfully and
untroubled, whereas the material philosophers labor and study for ten or
twenty years in schools and colleges, denying God, the Holy Spirit and
divine inspirations. The animal is even a greater philosopher, for it
attains the ability to do this without labor and study. For instance, the
cow denies God and the Holy Spirit, knows nothing of divine inspirations,
heavenly bounties or spiritual emotions and is a stranger to the world of
hearts. Like the philosophers, the cow is a captive of nature and knows
nothing beyond the range of the senses. The philosophers, however, glory
in this, saying, "We are not captives of superstitions; we have implicit
faith in the impressions of the senses and know nothing beyond the realm
of nature, which contains and covers everything." But the cow, without
study or proficiency in the sciences, modestly and quietly views life from
the same standpoint, living in harmony with nature's laws in the utmost
dignity and nobility.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 311-312)
Without the teachings of God the world of humanity is like the animal
kingdom. What difference is there between the animal and man? The
difference is this: that the animal is not capable of apprehending the
divine teachings, whereas man is worthy of them and possesses the capacity
to understand. In the animal kingdom there is no such bestowal; therefore,
there is limited progression. At most, evolution in that kingdom is a
development of the organism. In the beginning it is small, undeveloped; it
develops, becomes larger; but its sphere of intellectual growth is
limited. Therefore, the teachings of God are the bestowals specialized for
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 61)
The physical happiness of material conditions was allotted to the animal.
Consider how the animal has attained the fullest degree of physical
felicity. A bird perches upon the loftiest branch and builds there its
nest with consummate beauty and skill. All the grains and seeds of the
meadows are its wealth and food; all the fresh water of mountain springs
and rivers of the plain are for its enjoyment. Truly, this is the acme of
material happiness, to which even a human creature cannot attain. This is
the honor of the animal kingdom. But the honor of the human kingdom is the
attainment of spiritual happiness in the human world, the acquisition of
the knowledge and love of God.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 166)
Look also at the animals, how helpless they are in their apparent strength! For the elephant, the largest of all animals, is troubled by the fly, and the lion cannot escape the irritation of the worm. Even man, the highest form of created beings, needs many things for his very life; first of all he needs air, and if he is deprived of it for a few minutes, he dies. He is also dependent on water, food, clothing, warmth, and many other things. On all sides he is surrounded by dangers and difficulties, against which his physical body alone cannot cope. If a man looks at the world around him, he will see how all created things are dependent and are captive to the laws of Nature.
Man alone, by his spiritual power, has been able to free himself, to soar
above the world of matter and to make it his servant.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 20)
Man also shares in this creation; but it is not possible for either of
the lower kingdoms to understand that which takes place in the mind of
man. The animal cannot realize the intelligence of a human being, he only
knows that which is perceived by his animal senses, he cannot imagine
anything in the abstract. An animal could not learn that the world is
round, that the earth revolves round the sun, or the construction of the
electric telegraph. These things are only possible to man. Man is the
highest work of creation, the nearest to God of all creatures.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, page 24)
Need for Man to Rise Above the Animal State
What are the animals' propensities? To eat, drink, wander about and
sleep. The thoughts, the minds of the animals are confined to these. They
are captives in the bonds of these desires. Man becomes a prisoner and
slave to them when his ultimate desire is no higher than his welfare in
this world of the senses. Consider how difficult for man is the attainment
of pleasures and happiness in this mortal world. How easy it is for the
animal. Look upon the fields and flowers, prairies, streams, forests and
mountains. The grazing animals, the birds of the air, the fishes neither
toil nor undergo hardships; they sow not, nor are they concerned about the
reaping; they have no anxiety about business or politics - no trouble or
worry whatsoever. All the fields and grasses, all the meadows of fruits
and grains, all the mountain slopes and streams of salubrious water belong
to them. They do not labor for their livelihood and happiness because
everything is provided and made possible for them. If the life of man be
confined to this physical, material outlook, the animal's life is a
hundred times better, easier and more productive of comfort and
contentment. The animal is nobler, more serene and confident because each
hour is free from anxiety and worriment; but man, restless and
dissatisfied, runs from morn till eve, sailing the seas, diving beneath
them in submarines, flying aloft in airplanes, delving into the lowest
strata of the earth to obtain his livelihood - all with the greatest
difficulty, anxiety and unrest. Therefore, in this respect the animal is
nobler, more serene, poised and confident. Consider the birds in the
forest and jungle: how they build their nests high in the swaying
treetops, build them with the utmost skill and beauty - swinging, rocking
in the morning breezes, drinking the pure, sweet water, enjoying the most
enchanting views as they fly here and there high overhead, singing
joyously - all without labor, free from worry, care and forebodings. If
man's life be confined to the elemental, physical world of enjoyment, one
lark is nobler, more admirable than all humanity because its livelihood is
prepared, its condition complete, its accomplishment perfect and natural.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 184-185)
If man were to care for himself only he would be nothing but an animal for only the animals are thus egoistic. If you bring a thousand sheep to a well to kill nine hundred and ninety-nine the one remaining sheep would go on grazing, not thinking of the others and worrying not at all about the lost, never bothering that its own kind had passed away, or had perished or been killed. To look after one's self only is therefore an animal propensity. It is the animal propensity to live solitary and alone. It is the animal proclivity to look after one's own comfort. But man was created to be a man - to be fair, to be just, to be merciful, to be kind to all his species, never to be willing that he himself be well off while others are in misery and distress - this is an attribute of the animal and not of man. Nay, rather, man should be willing to accept hardships for himself in order that others may enjoy wealth; he should enjoy trouble for himself that others may enjoy happiness and well-being. This is the attribute of man. This is becoming of man. Otherwise man is not man - he is less than the animal.
The man who thinks only of himself and is thoughtless of others is
undoubtedly inferior to the animal because the animal is not possessed of
the reasoning faculty. The animal is excused; but in man there is reason,
the faculty of justice, the faculty of mercifulness. Possessing all these
faculties he must not leave them unused. He who is so hard-hearted as to
think only of his own comfort, such an one will not be called man.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, page 42)
O ye beloved of God! Know ye, verily, that the happiness of mankind lieth in the unity and the harmony of the human race, and that spiritual and material developments are conditioned upon love and amity among all men. Consider ye the living creatures, namely those which move upon the earth and those which fly, those which graze and those which devour. Among the beasts of prey each kind liveth apart from other species of its genus, observing complete antagonism and hostility; and whenever they meet they immediately fight and draw blood, gnashing their teeth and baring their claws. This is the way in which ferocious beasts and bloodthirsty wolves behave, carnivorous animals that live by themselves and fight for their lives. But the docile, good-natured and gentle animals, whether they belong to the flying or grazing species, associate with one another in complete affinity, united in their flocks, and living their lives with enjoyment, happiness and contentment. Such are the birds that are satisfied with and grateful for a few grains; they live in complete gladness, and break into rich and melodious song while soaring over meadows, plains, hills and mountains. Similarly those animals which graze, like the sheep, the antelope and the gazelle, consort in the greatest amity, intimacy and unity while living in their plains and prairies in a condition of complete contentment. But dogs, wolves, tigers, hyenas and those other beasts of prey, are alienated from each other as they hunt and roam about alone. The creatures of the fields and birds of the air do not even shun or molest one another when they come upon their mutual grazing and resting grounds but accept each other with friendliness, unlike the devouring beasts who immediately tear each other apart when one intrudes upon the other's cave or lair; yea, even if one merely passeth by the abode of another the latter at once rusheth out to attack and if possible kill the former.
Therefore, it hath been made clear and manifest that in the animal
kingdom also love and affinity are the fruits of a gentle disposition, a
pure nature and praiseworthy character, while discord and isolation are
characteristic of the fierce beasts of the wild.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, pages 286-287)
The world of humanity, too, is like a garden, and humankind are like the many-colored flowers. Therefore, different colors constitute an adornment. In the same way, there are many colors in the realm of animals. Doves are of many colors; nevertheless, they live in utmost harmony. They never look at color; instead, they look at the species. How often white doves fly with black ones. In the same way, other birds and varicolored animals never look at color; they look at the species.
Now ponder this: Animals, despite the fact that they lack reason and
understanding, do not make colors the cause of conflict. Why should man,
who has reason, create conflict? This is wholly unworthy of him.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 45)
Among the animals racial prejudice does not exist. Consider the doves;
there is no distinction as to whether it is an oriental or an occidental
dove. The sheep are all of one race; there is no assumption of distinction
between an eastern and a western sheep. When they meet, they associate
with perfect fellowship. If a dove from the West should go to the Orient,
it will associate with the eastern doves unhesitatingly. There will be no
attitude of unwillingness as if saying, "You belong to the East; I am from
the West." Is it reasonable or allowable that a racial prejudice which is
not observed by the animal kingdom should be entertained by man?
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 299)
Likewise, we observe that animals which have undergone training in their
sphere of limitation will progress and advance unmistakably, become more
beautiful in appearance and increase in intelligence. For instance, how
intelligent and knowing the Arabian horse has become through training,
even how polite this horse has become through education. As to the human
world: It is more in need of guidance and education than the lower
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, page 77)
...a flock of sheep, once scattered, falleth prey to the wolf, and birds
that fly alone will be caught fast in the claws of the hawk.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, page 278)
As humanity progresses, meat will be used less and less, for the teeth of
man are not carnivorous. For example, the lion is endowed with carnivorous
teeth, which are intended for meat, and if meat be not found, the lion
starves. The lion cannot graze; its teeth are of different shape. The
digestive system of the lion is such that it cannot receive nourishment
save through meat. The eagle has a crooked beak, the lower part shorter
than the upper. It cannot pick up grain; it cannot graze; therefore, it is
compelled to partake of meat. The domestic animals have herbivorous teeth
formed to cut grass, which is their fodder. The human teeth, the molars,
are formed to grind grain. The front teeth, the incisors, are for fruits,
etc. It is, therefore, quite apparent according to the implements for
eating that man's food is intended to be grain and not meat. When mankind
is more fully developed, the eating of meat will gradually cease.
(`Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pages 170-171)
Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.
But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp
nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident
and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth
of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut
the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat
it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and
energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat
meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in
strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly,
the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary
to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals,
fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would
undoubtedly be better and more pleasing.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, 1028, page 462)
Thou hast written regarding the four canine teeth in man, saying that
these teeth, two in the upper jaw and two in the lower, are for the
purpose of eating meat. Know thou that these four teeth are not created
for meat-eating, although one can eat meat with them. All the teeth of man
are made for eating fruit, cereals, and vegetables. These four teeth,
however, are designed for breaking hard shells, such as those of almonds.
But eating meat is not forbidden or unlawful, nay, the point is this, that
it is possible for man to live without eating meat and still be strong.
Meat is nourishing and containeth the elements of herbs, seeds, and
fruits; therefore sometimes it is essential for the sick and for the
rehabilitation of health. There is no objection in the Law of God to the
eating of meat if it is required. So if thy constitution is rather weak
and thou findest meat useful, thou mayest eat it.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, 1029, page 463)
"What will be the food of the future?" "Fruit and grains. The time will
come when meat will no longer be eaten. Medical science is only in its
infancy, yet it has shown that our natural diet is that which grows out of
the ground. The people will gradually develop up to the condition of this
(Julia M. Grundy. "Ten Days in the Light of Akka", rev. ed. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1979, pp. 8-9) (`Abdu'l-Baha, in Health and Healing, Compilation of Compilations, 1052, page 475)
(see also compilation: Conservation of the Earth's Resources)
In addition to the problem of how to ensure peace, and all the
implications of such a step, it is clear that the economic and social
development of all countries is of vital importance and is a matter on
which the Teachings have much to say in principle if not in detail. In
this area, agriculture and the preservation of the ecological balance of
the world are of fundamental interest.
(Universal House of Justice, 31 March 1985 to an Association for Bahá'í Studies)
A challenge... faces economic thinking as a result of the environmental crisis. The fallacies in theories based on the belief that there is no limit to nature's capacity to fulfil any demand made on it by human beings have now been coldly exposed. A culture which attaches absolute value to expansion, to acquisition, and to the satisfaction of people's wants is being compelled to recognise that such goals are not, by themselves, realistic guides to policy. Inadequate, too, are approaches to economic issues whose decision-making tools cannot deal with the fact that most of the major challenges are global rather than particular in scope.
The earnest hope that this moral crisis can somehow be met by deifying
nature itself is an evidence of the spiritual and intellectual desperation
that the crisis has engendered. Recognition that creation is an organic
whole and that humanity has the responsibility to care for this whole,
welcome as it is, does not represent an influence which can by itself
establish in the consciousness of people a new system of values. Only a
breakthrough in understanding that is scientific and spiritual in the
fullest sense of the terms will empower the human race to assume the
trusteeship toward which history impels it.
(Bahá'í International Community, The Prosperity of Humankind, Office of Public Information, Haifa, 1995)
It has been widely acknowledged that economic prosperity has come at a
tremendous cost to our natural environment. In fact, no country has
emerged as a major industrial power without a legacy of significant
environmental damage, affecting the security and well-being of its own
populations and, equally significantly, those of developing nations. The
growth-driven economic paradigm rooted in national interests at the
expense of social and environmental variables and international well-being
is under increasing scrutiny. Challenging ethical questions of resource
distribution and responsibility for damages force governments to develop
institutional mechanisms and implement policies that consider the
prosperity and health of the global community and that of future
generations. On an institutional level, a global entity with a strong
scientific advisory capacity is needed to streamline reporting and
decision-making processes, including the voices of non-state actors. It
must coherently link environmental issues to social and economic
priorities, for none of these can advance in isolation. At the educational
level, curricula must seek to develop a sense of responsibility towards
the natural environment as well as foster a spirit of inquiry and
innovation so that the diversity of human experience can be brought to
bear on the challenge of creating an environmentally sustainable
(Bahá'í International Community, Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One, 2008)
Successful education will cultivate virtue as the foundation for personal
and collective well-being, and will nurture in individuals a deep sense of
service and an active commitment to the welfare of their families, their
communities, their countries, indeed, all mankind. It will encourage
self-reflection and thinking in terms of historical process, and it will
promote inspirational learning through such means as music, the arts,
poetry, meditation and interaction with the natural environment.
(Bahá'í International Community. Valuing Spirituality in Development: Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development. A concept paper written for the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, Lambeth Palace, London, 18-19 February 1998)
The fundamental basis of the community is agriculture, tillage of the
soil. All must be producers.
('Abdu'l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 37)
A core element of a strategy of sustainable development is the reform of agricultural policies and processes. Food production and agriculture is the world's single largest source of employment; nearly 70% of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Although farming has been devalued by manufacturing and a rapidly expanding urban population, agriculture still represents the fundamental basis of economic and community life: malnourishment and food insecurity suffocate all attempts at development and progress. Despite this pivotal role, poverty is often concentrated in rural areas. Damage to natural resources, poor information and infrastructure often result in food insecurity, premature deaths and mass migration to urban areas in search of a better life. The farmer must be accorded his or her rightful place in the processes of development and civilization building: as the villages are reconstructed, the cities will follow.
(Bahá'í International Community, Eradicating Poverty: Moving Forward As One, 2008)
Until such time as the nations of the world understand and follow the
admonitions of Bahá'u'lláh to whole-heartedly work together in looking
after the best interests of all humankind, and unite in the search for
ways and means to meet the many environmental problems besetting our
planet, ...little progress will be made towards their solution....
(Universal House of Justice, Department of the Secretariat, from a letter dated 18 October 1981 to an individual believer. Quoted In "Conservation of the Earth's Resources". Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice.)
While it is acknowledged that any effective climate change policy needs to be rooted in a global perspective, even this enlargement of the sphere of responsibility has not sufficiently moved governments to act. This perspective must now evolve to reflect the essential connectedness and common fate of humanity that for too long has struggled against a worldview that emphasized sovereignty, ascendancy and competition. Efforts to reconceptualize sovereignty, from an absolute right to a responsibility, signal that a shift in consciousness towards greater degrees of global solidarity is already underway. To be sure, the solution to climate change exceeds the capacities and resources of any one nation and requires the full cooperation of all nations, each according to their means.
Much has been said about the need for cooperation to solve a climate
challenge that no nation or community can solve alone. The principle of
the oneness of humankind... seeks to move beyond utilitarian notions of
cooperation to anchor the aspirations of individuals, communities and
nations to those of the progress of humanity. In practical terms, it
affirms that individual and national interests are best served in tandem
with the progress of the whole. As children, women, men, religious and
scientific communities as well as governments and international
institutions converge on this reality, we will do more than achieve a
collective response to the climate change crisis. We will usher in a new
paradigm by means of which we can understand our purpose and
responsibilities in an interconnected world; a new standard by which to
evaluate human progress; and a mode of governance faithful to the ties
that bind us as members of one human race.
(Bahá'í International Community, Seizing the Opportunity: Redefining the challenge of climate change, 2008)
Against the backdrop of climate change, environmental degradation, and
the crippling extremes of wealth and poverty, the transformation from a
culture of unfettered consumerism to a culture of sustainability has
gained momentum in large part through the efforts of civil society
organizations and governmental agencies worldwide. Beyond informed
policies and ‘greener technologies’ it is a transformation that will
require an earnest examination of our understanding of human nature and of
the cultural frameworks driving institutions of government, business,
education, and media around the world. Questions of what is natural and
just will need to be critically re-examined. The issue of sustainable
consumption and production... will need to be considered in the broader
context of an ailing social order—one characterized by competition,
violence, conflict and insecurity—of which it is a part.
(Bahá'í International Community, Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism, 2010)
[T]he principle of the oneness of humankind... asks not merely for
cooperation among people and nations. It calls for a complete
reconceptualization of the relationships that sustain society. The
deepening environmental crisis, driven by a system that condones the
pillage of natural resources to satisfy an insatiable thirst for more,
suggests how entirely inadequate is the present conception of humanity’s
relationship with nature.... The principle of the oneness of humankind
implies, then, an organic change in the very structure of society.
(Universal House of Justice, To the Baha'is of Iran, 2 March 2013, para. 6)
Ultimately, the transformation required to shift towards sustainable
consumption and production will entail no less than an organic change in
the structure of society itself so as to reflect fully the interdependence
of the entire social body—as well as the interconnectedness with the
natural world that sustains it.
(Bahá'í International Community, Rethinking Prosperity: Forging Alternatives to a Culture of Consumerism, 2010)
International Environment Forum - Updated 14 May 2019