Eras and Cycles

The vast stream of Apocalypse time sets shorter spiritual Eras into longer spiritual Cycles—a concept neatly captured by the literal Revelation phrase into the eras of the eras.1] Each spiritual Era for which a Manifestation of God hath lived is characterized as God's appointed Day. Once in about a thousand years shall this City be renewed and re-adorned as none other than the Word of God revealed in every age and dispensation.[2]
Cycles last far longer than Eras—even as long as pulling a piece of silk once every hundred years takes to rub away a one-mile cube of rock!3] For human history, the only relevant Cycles are the six-thousand-year long Cycle of Prophecy ending in 1844, and the five-hundred-thousand-year long Cycle of Fulfillment starting in 1844.
The Muslim Era closed the Cycle of Prophecy, so that Muhammad’s designation ‘Seal of the Prophets’ did signify that the Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended.Then the Cycle of Fulfillment began with its Baha’i Era as a
Day that is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. It will extend over a period of no less than one thousand years as the first stage in a series of Dispensations to be established by future Manifestations, all deriving their inspiration from the Author of the Baha’i Revelation.[Eras]
These Dispensations will form the whole Cycle of Fulfillment The first Baha’i Era may last even two thousand years, given that it is fixed for a period of one whole month, which is the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the Zodiac—in other words the full Age of Aquarius.[4]
The year 1844 was
the confluence of two universal prophetic cycles, the Adamic Cycle stretching back as far as the first dawnings of the world’s recorded religious history and the Baha’i Cycle destined to propel itself across the unborn reaches of time,[5] serving as the consummation of all the Dispensations within the Adamic Cycle, inaugurating an era of at least a thousand years’ duration, and a cycle destined to last no less than five thousand centuries, signalizing the end of the Prophetic [Cycle] and the beginning of the [Cycle] of Fulfillment.
(In Baha’i Writings the terms Age, Era, Epoch, Eon, and Cycle vary, usually due to translation, but in each case context makes its meaning clear.)


 

[1] In contrast, prehistory sets shorter Ages into longer Eras
[2] Which a Manifestation, Baha'u'llah,GWB25.60; Once in about a thousand years, Baha’u’llah, KI 199
[3] http://khandro.net/about_numbers.htm
[4] Designation, Baha’u’llah: Gleanings 25.60
  Day that is unique, Baha'u'llah,GWB25.60
  Extend over, Shoghi Effendi Compilation of Compilations 2.1897.291 and The Significance of the Formative Age of Our Faith 95.23.195. bahai-library.org/published.uhj/messages.1963–86.html (last accessed 20070125)
  Fixed for a period, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Compilation of Compilations 1.47.16–17, and Shoghi Effendi, WOB101–102
[5] Consummation of, Shoghi Effendi, GPB100, also WOB101–102 & ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Compilation of Compilations 1.47.16–17; the confluence of, Shoghi Effendi, GPB 54–55