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Independent Search for Truth
Bahá'u'lláh emphasizes the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their "own eyes and not through the eyes of others."1 One of the main sources of conflict in the world today is the fact that many people blindly and uncritically follow various traditions, movements, and opinions. God has given each human being a mind and the capacity to differentiate truth from falsehood. If individuals fail to use their reasoning capacities and choose instead to accept certain opinions and ideas without question, either out of admiration for or fear of those who hold them, then they are neglecting their basic moral responsibility as human beings. Moreover, when people act in this way, they often become attached to some particular opinion or tradition and thus become intolerant of those who do not share it. Such attachments can, in turn, lead to conflict. History has witnessed conflict and even bloodshed over slight alterations in religious practice and minor changes in the interpretation of doctrine. The independent search for truth enables the individual to know why he or she adheres to a given ideology or doctrine.
Bahá'ís believe that, as there is only one reality, all people will gradually discover its different facets and ultimately come to a common understanding and unity, provided they are sincere in their search for truth. In this connection, 'Abdu'l-Bahá says:
Being one, truth cannot be divided, and the differences that appear to exist among the nations only result from their attachment to prejudice. If only men would search out truth, they would find themselves united.2
The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one.3
* Adapted from Bahá'í Topics, an information resource produced by the Bahá'í International Community.