Everyday all around the world students in Baha’i children’s classes learn about unity by standing side by side with another person, tying their inside ankles together and walking around as if they shared three legs between the two of them. At first they walk together only awkwardly. The two feet that make up the middle foot brush past each other in opposite directions. One kid tries to go too fast and falls down. The other is jerked forward by the momentum of the fall. After some giggling they figure out that they need to coordinate their movements if they are going to walk together. Once on the same page they advance in one forward motion. The rag that binds their ankles together no longer jerks and pulls. It rests comfortably on the children’s ankles. For they have become as one body, harmoniously directed by two distinct minds. One way that Baha’u’llah explains spiritual knowledge follows the same pattern.
With regard to the saying, He hath known God who hath known himself, Baha’u’llah has written,
I swear by God, O esteemed and honoured friend! Shouldst thou ponder these words in thine heart, thou wilt of a certainty find the doors of divine wisdom and infinite knowledge flung open before thy face. (KI 108 pp.93-94)
Hmmmm……sounds like a dare.
Perhaps the saying could be rephrased: If one has self-knowledge then he has attained as well to the knowledge of God. Knowledge of oneself is a condition that once met results in knowledge of God. Couple that then with the Qur’anic verse Baha’u’llah quotes immediately before the above saying. And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves. (59.19) In this verse forgetfulness of God results in forgetfulness of self. Or to rephrase it in the positive: remembrance of God makes possible the remembrance (knowledge) of one’s own self. In both of these, a person’s knowledge of oneself and of God are bound together. Though Baha’u’llah is always quick to point out the transcendence of God above His creatures, he is not deterred from conveying that in some way the knowledge of both are united. As one rises, so does the other. As one falls, the other quickly follows. God and humanity retain their distinctive conditions. But knowledge of each depends on the other. Knowledge of self and of God are not mutually exclusive realities. They are not opposing ends of a spectrum. Instead, spiritual knowledge is a heterogeneous condition embracing both Creator and creation, uniting the two, but retaining the distinctiveness inherent to each. This too is a lesson in unity.
Every prophecy of the end-times shares in common the arrival of a sovereign lord who establishes God’s order by shattering to some extent the world’s order. For it is God’s re-appropriation of what is properly His. So no explanation of end-times prophecy as comprehensive as Baha'u'llah's could be complete without giving a proper account of God’s sovereignty, how it is established at the time of the end, and by implication, how it in some way had been lost. There is good sense then that Baha’u’llah begins the second part of the Kitab-i-Iqan with an explanation of the sovereignty that God exercises in each of his Manifestations, among whom is the Qa’im. He is quick to point out to the reader that each of these figures becomes manifest by means of a human form. That the human condition is essential to understanding God’s sovereignty is born out by the effort Baha’u’llah makes to convey it's nobility while still in the process of explaining His doctrine of the Manifestation of God. These two ideas are tied together very closely....perhaps at the ankles.