“Bahā’u’llāh’s first principle is the seeking of the truth. Man must seek the truth and set aside imitations.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 144.
“Man must seek the truth and set aside imitations. The nations of the world each have their own imitations and each are different. The imitations have caused war and conflict, and as long as these imitations remain, the unity of the human world is not possible. Thus, one must seek the truth so that with its light, these darknesses disappear. For truth is only one. It does not accept plurality or division . . . These imitations, have made the human world dark. These imitations have caused war and killings. These imitations have caused hatred and enmity. Thus, we must seek the truth so that we can be freed from all of the hardships and [our] insights can be awakened and we can find way to the Divine Kingdom.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, pp. 144–145.
Is Seeking the Truth and Setting Aside Imitations an Innovation of Baha’ism?
Are the Baha’i’s really the first people to have brought this principle forward to the ears of the world? `Abdu’l-Bahā claims:
“Another new principle revealed by Bahā’u’llāh is the injunction to investigate truth—that is to say, no man should blindly follow his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate the truth himself in order that he may follow the truth instead of blind acquiescence and imitation of ancestral beliefs.”
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 454.
That which is propagated in Baha’i teachings as seeking the truth—which the Baha’i’s pride themselves in having discovered—is in reality an innate principle that has come in the books of different religions and can clearly be seen in the works of different philosophers.
It is clearly evident that this principle is not a new discovery or novel innovation of Baha’ism. Rather, all schools of thought and all of the Divine Religions call upon people to seek what is right, say what is right, and accept what is right. There are examples in books of previous dispensations that show this concept. For example, in the Avesta, the Holy Book of the Zoroastrians, it has come that:
Hear with your ears the best things; look upon them with clear-seeing thought, for the decision between the two Beliefs, each man for himself before the Great consummation, bethinking you that it be accomplished to our pleasure.
Reference: Avesta, Translated by L. H. Mills, vol. 1, Ahunavaiti Gatha, Yasna, chap. 30, verse 2 (Sacred Books of the East [American Edition, 1898], http://avesta.org/yasna/yasna.htm#y30)
It is mentioned in the Bible:
Prove all things; Hold fast that which is good; Abstain from every form of evil.
Reference: The New Testament (American Standard Version), Thess. 5:21–22.
Give good tiding to My servants. [Those] Who listen to speech and follow the best of it. Those are the ones God has guided, and those are people of understanding.
Reference: Quran (Sahih International), 39:17-18.
In the Torah, the Holy Book of the Jews, we read:
Thus saith Jehovah, stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.
Reference: The Old Testament, The Book of Jeremiah, chap. 6, verse 16 (American Standard Version).
Even though `Abdu’l-Bahā had claimed this principle was new and revealed by his father, elsewhere he confesses that this principle is not new:
His Highness Moses spread the truth as did his Highness Jesus and his Highness Abraham and his Highness the Messenger (meaning the Prophet Muḥammad) and his Highness the Bāb and his Highness Bahā’u’llāh. They all established and spread the truth.
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 5.
From the teachings (principles) of his Highness Bahā’u’llāh, the first is seeking the truth, and the foundation of all the Prophets . . . is truth, and the truth is one. His Highness Abraham was the harbinger of truth. His Highness Moses was the servant of truth. His Highness Christ was the establisher of truth. His Highness Muḥammad was the propagator of truth. His Highness A`lā (meaning the Bāb) was the herald of truth, and his Highness Bahā’u’llāh, was the light of truth.
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Tehran), vol. 2, p. 55.
The foundation of the divine religions is one. It is one truth, it is one spirit, it is one light, and it does not have a multitude. Among the foundations of the Divine Religion is seeking the truth [so] that the whole of humanity seeks the truth.
Reference: `Abdu’l-Bahā, Khaṭābāt (Egypt), vol. 1, p. 66.
Courtesy: Twelve Principles – A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings