The Bahá'í House of Worship
When I was in Chicago recently, I learned about a different faith group: the Bahá'í people. They have one temple in North America and it is in Chicago; it is a gorgeous building with elaborate decorations and glorious grounds.
Bahá’í people follow three main spiritual truths: the oneness of God, the oneness of humanity, and the oneness of religion. The emphasis on unity was established by the son of the founder of the faith (Bahá’u’lláh), ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Overwhelmed by the grief and sadness of people torn by religious conflict, he led a life of tolerance and acceptance. The incessant fighting in The Holy Land led him to despise violence, especially when it involved religion. He believed that all religions have their place and all are equally correct. Essentially, the faith tradition he established works to peacefully unite all religions under the umbrella themes of virtue, wisdom, knowledge, and generosity. According to tradition, the people of the earth are invincible when united by love and acceptance for each other; when they grace each other with knowledge and refrain from prejudice, they are truly good.
Currently, there are six Bahá’í houses of worship worldwide, and the seventh is being constructed. The one I visited in Wilmette is the house for all of North America. The other continental houses are located in Santiago (Chile), New Delhi (India), Apia (Samoa), Panama City (Panama), Frankfurt (Germany), Kampala (Uganda), and Sydney (Australia); one in Ashkabad (Turkestan) was destroyed by an earthquake in 1962. Each house represents unity with a circular ground layout surrounded by gardens and the temples have nine sides for each of the nine major religions: Bahá'í, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, and Sikhism (all of which are represented in the Bahá’í symbol, the nine-pointed star).
The fascinating thing was to see how accepting the faith is (theoretically). They do not preach much, but what they do preach is based on the common idea of respect. All they want is a more respectful world, and they believe this can be achieved through unity. If we set aside our differences and stop trying to change what other people think, we can come together and be at peace. Truly insightful!