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      Today is the 190th Anniversary of the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh, the promised one of all religions. As my post in commemoration of this august occasion, I want to express an idea that He expounds in the “Book of the River”, and which seems to keep appearing in my life.
      The Book of the River was written in Baghdad, on the Tigris river. (Nader Saiedi translates the title as “Book of the River”, while Juan R.I. Cole chooses “Book of the Tigris”. I prefer and agree with Juan’s title, but Saiedi’s translation is superior in regards to the actual book.) The Book is not actually a book, but a letter to a man named Javád. (Saiedi theorizes that this is Javád-i-Káshání, who later became a Bahá’í) This was before Baha’u’llah had declared His Station, but He was already among the most influential of the Bábís (Followers of the Báb). I have learned, from studying a few Bahá’í scholars’ writings on this piece, that at this time Bahá’u’lláh would mix explicit denials of any divine station with implicit declarations of one. He explains in this tablet that He desperately wished to proclaim His Station as Sahibu’z-Zaman (Lord of the Age) but He was prevented from doing so by the blackness of the hearts of many of the prominent Bábís. Bahá’u’lláh likens the pressure of the two urges -both to reveal and conceal – to the tribes of Gog and Magog, and pleads for an Alexander the Great to save Him (Although, He would soon answer His own plea).

      Were it not for fear of the malice hidden in the hearts, I would have assuredly unveiled all the inmost divine analogies and all the subtleties of the heavenly principles with regard to the course of this outward river. Yet, alas, I am disinclined to approach any matter. On account of the intensity of My anguish and sorrow, in these days I am sore tried between the Gog of silence and the Magog of utterance. I beseech God to send down an Alexander who will raise an insurmountable barrier.

      Now, in addition to many other points, Bahá’u’lláh explains in this epistle that truth is relative, and human intellect cannot be used as the sole qualifier. While Saiedi himself explains in another work that Bahá’u’lláh is not simply a Neo-Platonist, these are Platonic ideas. I do not mean by this that Bahá’u’lláh learned these ideas from Plato, or even was influenced by later Muslim Neo-Platonism. The fact of Bahá’u’lláh’s education denies this.
      In this epistle Bahá’u’lláh uses the analogy of a flooding river to express the power of divine revelation. This analogy becomes very complex, and for the most part I will not go into it here. Realize however, that the analogy is already very established at the point where human intellect and absolute truth are challenged.

      For example, with reference to the same analogy of the flooding river, observe that it floweth forward in one manner and its relationship to all buildings and structures is the same, yet any valley that hath more capacity is able to take in more of it, and any dam whose foundation is weaker is less able to resist it. These differences, therefore, have arisen from the diversity of recipients. In like manner, consider the rays of the Eternal Sun, which shine with the same illumination in the heaven of human hearts but, when reflected in the forms of mirrors, differ by reason of differences among the mirrors themselves. Thus it is that some abide exalted in their essences and high in their endeavors, while others sink into the depths of lethargy and degradation. All things have their rank before God, and all return unto Him.

      Now, the fact that the Blessed Beauty is speaking specifically of divine revelation, not of Universals and Forms is not lost on me. I do think however that the application of these verses to a Platonic theory of existence is logical and obvious. Now, simplified Plato’s theory is this, that objects and qualities in this universe are not real, but existent manifestations or shadows of transcendent ideas. This is equally true with ideas, they transcend reality, and are only called into worldly existence due to the interaction of other ideas in the world. Thus, any idea we have is not our idea, but one we have accessed. A chair is not actually a chair but a conglomeration of transcendent ideas. Even our human archetype of chair is only a shadow of the higher transcendent reality of chair. These transcendent ideas are the rays of the sun Bahá’u’lláh mentions, and the mirrors are the manifest forms called into existent being by the interaction of other manifest forms. (Note that there is a distinction between transcendence and existence. God transcends, but does not exist, as existence is phenomenal, and the phenomenal is effulgent of God.)
      This is very similar to how `Abdu’l-Bahá explained that every thing in the world of creation is a manifestation of an attribute of God. While Plato may have placed the transcendent forms as independent entities, I would place them as synonyms for God, or attributes thereof, as I think the Writings explain. What must be emphasized is that these ideas and truths manifest in existence are relative, as Bahá’u’lláh here explains.

      Hidden allusions are concealed within these verses and holy letters are treasured up within these words. Blessed is the one who hath seized these pearls, recognized their value, and attained the presence of their Supreme Meaning. It is clear and evident that the root of differences, from the farthest worlds of meaning to the nearest degrees of expression, is caused by the diversity of the forms of the mirrors. Each person speaketh and expresseth himself according to that which is reflected within him. For example, with reference to the same analogy of the flooding river, observe that it floweth forward in one manner and its relationship to all buildings and structures is the same, yet any valley that hath more capacity is able to take in more of it, and any dam whose foundation is weaker is less able to resist it. These differences, therefore, have arisen from the diversity of recipients.

      As I read it, Bahá’u’lláh puts forth here that all truth is relative, even that revealed by the Manifestation. Because we earthly beings are relative, we cannot comprehend or access truth in its absolute form. In its absolute form, truth and God are synonymous. As relative beings, anything we come in contact with is relative; in coming in contact with something we are actually calling into being a shadow of an absolute. Just as a painting cannot surpass a painter, any idea we comprehend is relative to our minds. Our minds themselves are relative to creation, which is relative to God.
      As Bahá’ís we say that religious truth is relative, as it changes from age to age. In the time of Krishna untouchables were a social necessity and were morally justifiable, today the system cannot coexist with a just society, as it has surpassed its purpose (To quarantine those who handle the dead). However, I would take this a step further and say that all truth is necessarily relative. As relative beings we progress towards absolute existence, but cannot reach it (As a painting can never become a painter). As we progress we outgrow certain truths, and they cease to be true. For this reason, the dual relativity between humans and truth, we need the Manifestations of God to nudge us along now and then. Consider the Old Testament, God to us seems dark, bitter and vengeful, nothing like the God of Christ. In the time of the Old Testament, they knew that character, He was the familiar tribal leader, who maintained social order. In their time the God of Christ was inconceivable – though they felt love from the God they knew – and according to human reason and relative existence, Christ’s God did not exist. Yet in His transcendence, the Gods that are contradictory in the world of existence are mutually inclusive. Thus human reason cannot be our only guide, it is incapable of independent progression, as it denies that which it cannot comprehend. All things are miracles, as without God existence could not comprehend their transcendent reality.

      When viewed with the eye of insight, no phenomenon on earth could be comprehended by any human, whether high or low, without prior observation and experience. Observe the sun in the heavens. To the extent that it is manifest, it giveth splendor and illumination to the entirety of the inhabitants of the earth in the east, the west, and all other directions. Certainly, human reason would not be inclined to accept the possibility of the existence of such a thing by means of any rational definition or description without actual observation and experience. It is the same with all other things in God’s creation. Reflect, so that the secret of this question may become disclosed to thee. All things are miracles of the Prophets; “Repeat the gaze: seest thou a single flaw?”In the Qur’án there are many verses which touch upon this theme. Although We do not have in mind an exact text, the purport of the verses is as follows. For example: “He it is Who created you and then provided for your sustenance. Will ye not see?” “He it is Who produced you from the earth most excellently. Will ye not believe?” “He hath sent down the rain from heaven. Will ye not give thanks?” “He hath created the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them, and made the mountains a shelter as a token of His grace, yet few among you understand.” Thus it becometh evident that all phenomena, as things endowed with power, are also miracles of God. Is there any Creator besides God? Say: Praise be unto God. No maker is there but Him, in whose name the faithful believe.

—–
Please note that I used Nader Saiedi’s translation of Bahá’u’lláh’s Ṣaḥífiy-i-ShaṭṭíyyihorBook of the River. I also consulted Juan Cole’s translation entitled The Book of the Tigris. I find Saiedi’s and Cole’s style equally pleasing, however Saiedi demonstrates the superiority of his translation. Both are provisional, and not official Bahá’í translations. Translation choices may reflect their own personal views, and may contain errors of translation and interpretation. Neither should be taken alone to reflect Bahá’í views, rather more important and studied texts should. Cole’s translation is available online here, and Saiedi’s translation and commentary is available online here.

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They say that Jesus of Nazareth was humble and meek.

They say that though He was a just man and righteous, He was a weakling, and was often confounded by the strong and the powerful; and that when He stood before men of authority He was but a lamb among lions.

But I say Jesus had authority over men, and that He knew His power and proclaimed it among the hills of Galilee, and in the cities of Judea and Phoenicia. [ . . . ] Was He seeking shelter in words when He repeated again and yet again, “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days” ?

Was it a coward who shook His hand in the face of the authorities and pronounced them “liars, low, filthy, and degenerate” ?

Shall a man bold enough to say these things to those who ruled Judea be deemed meek and humble?

Nay. The eagle builds not his nest in the weeping willow. And the lion seeks not his den among the ferns.

I am sickened and the bowels within me stir and rise when I hear the faint-hearted call Jesus humble and meek, that they may justify their own faint-heartedness; and when the downtrodden, for comfort and companionship, speak of Jesus as a worm shining by their side.

Yea, my heart is sickened by such men. It is the mighty hunter I would preach, and the mountainous spirit unconquerable.

My Best Beloved was born 190 years ago tommorow by the Gregorian Calendar, and for me that is the closest date I have to the birth of Jesus. As Bahá’u’lláh is the Christ come again, I will do a little bit of thought on Christ’s visit to our realm 2000 years ago.

I have always struggled to accept the spiritual interpretation of Jesus’s Ressurection that Abdu’l-Bahá propounds, as in many ways it does not appear this way in the Bible, or at least the appearance of the Ressurection is the same as that of the Virgin Birth, and it is hard to accept the Virgin Birth literally and deny the literal physical Ressurection. However, this quote byKahlil Gibran that I shared above shed some light on the issue for me.

Gibran says, and rightly so, that Christ was far from meek. Christ was warlike and not afraid of creating dissension. He said that he came to bring the sword, not peace. He came to kick us out of our wayward ruts of life and into a cleansing tumult, from which we might emerge purer beings. This of course does not refer literally to physical violence or even emotional cruelty, but to spiritual turbulence. He came to shake things up, as they weren’t working in their peaceful state.

Now recently I was speaking with an Adventist friend on the Bahá’í interpretation of the Third Temple in Israel, and due to a misunderstanding he thought I believed this refered literally to a third temple, which I do not. He explained that the Third Temple means the Kingdom of God on Earth. I take it a step further and say that this Kingdom refers to the Order of things created by the Manifestations; the dharma of the Manifestation.

When I read what Gibran says about the Temple, a bell went “ding!” in my head. “Destroy this temple and I will rebuild it in three days” Christ’s ressurection is both a spiritual and prophetic statement. The temple is the body of Christ, synonymous as it often is with the body of His teachings, or His Word. (He is afterall the Word incarnate) Christ was stating that His body could be destroyed, but not the Body of His Word, or his dharma.

When Christ speaks to Thomas explaing that His reborn body is real, not a ghost or spirit, this is a further statement about His dharma. It is not hocus pocus, but Christ is very really alive and working in the world when he speaks to Thomas. His body can affect the world in real physical ways through the actions of His followers in accordance with His teachings. Thomas, touching the body, shows that the followers represent the physical limbs and hands of the new body of Christ.

Then there is a thought I had a while back about the three days. I think that may be closely aligned with the dispensations since Christ. He has as we know been reborn in the Glory of the Father, as Bahá’u’lláh. Since the time of Christ three dispensations have passed, the Sun of Truth has risen and set three times since Christ passed from this world physically. His own dispensation passed away, that of Muhammad, the Apostle of God, and that of the Báb, the Gate of God. Bahá’u’lláh rose early in the Bábs day.

I am in an American High School, and I do not say the Pledge of Allegiance. Is it because I do not love my country? Far from it, I am an ardent patriot in so many ways; no matter where I move, I will always have a love affair with America going on. However, I personally view nationalism and the very swearing of oaths as wrong. Instead I stand, with my hand over my heart and recite a prayer in my head for our country, it goes something like this each time. “O Lord, you are my only God. Please guide this nation nearer to your ways, and guide other nations nearer to its ways that the world may be unified in Your Name. Please protect this nation from corruption and wayward influences. You are the only God and we are all Your servants.”

Religiously I draw a few inspirations for my decision not to say the Pledge. First there is Christ Jesus. In the Holy Bible it says, at Mathew 5:34:

“Ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

This to me says, “Do not swear oaths, do not claim a power greater than nothingness, and do not use the Seat of Heaven for your fallible endeavors. If you are an honest man Yes and No will suffice.”

As well there is as statement by Bahá’u’lláh that says: “Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”
I cannot say that I love America to the exclusion of other nations. I love mankind, and becuase I believe America represents the pinnacle of our creation, I love America. I think our nation, in showing what man can acheive, is a prayer in itself. How can I take that and say that I love America and only America deserves my allegiance? Mankind deserves my Allegiance.

So this is what I do in a boring period in AP English and AP Economics and Credit Recovery, write extremely rambling explanations of my theories on philosophy.

I think that defining one’s philosophy ought to be somewhat systematic. While my system may not work for everyone, this is what I consider the simplest and most efficient way to get at your true beliefs. First must come observation and speculation. You must observe the way reality works and the truths inherent in it, and speculate on what is non-observable. If the two are separate they are useless, they must complement each other as one process. Next comes contemplation, piecing observations and speculations together, and finding what truths you believe to be evident in the world of creation and the superb, or whether you even find those to be evident. Next comes finding labels, which are used to explain your beliefs, labels cannot define your beliefs, but can allow you to consider them in a more systematic way. I think the three categories of your personal philosophy that need labeling are your philosophic method, your cosmology, and your ethic. With these you have a largely complete world view that you can compare to others. This can be called a MCE, and I will use that acronym for the rest of the post.

For me, my MCE is that of a Rationalistic <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism”>Panentheistic Humanist. As with everyone, there may be multiple names for each category that your philosophy falls under, or none. For me mine falls well into pre-established labels.

Rationalism means that I believe that the created world works under certain logical laws and that conclusions about it must follow from observation and logical laws. This is largely true for the superb as well. I do not however believe that our logic is the highest form; I do not think this means that rational struggles are useless, just hard.

Panentheism means I believe God is transcendent over creation, yet is also the summary of creation. Some people may use this to meant that God exists in creation and outside of it. I personally do not believe that God exists as such, but that he transcends. Panpsychism, Monism, Holism and Idealism also apply, but in lesser ways. Panentheism is not the same as Pantheismwhich holds that creation and God are synonymous. I am a big fan of Platonic Universals and Forms.

My ethic is Humanism. I view the indomitable spirit of man as largely synonymous with God, though God transcends it. I believe that that which creates the highest human equilibrium is the most moral, and that the most moral actions are those that allow the largest amount of men to realize the largest amount of their human potential.

From this MCE you can draw greater conclusions. I personally, upon examination of science and world philosophical traditions am drawn to accept the claims of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith. For this reason I identify as a Bahá’í. As a Bahá’í I view the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh as in agreement with my MCE in every way, and adding to it. For each person these conclusions can be different, perhaps political, perhaps religious, perhaps personal.

This is the rationalization I use to define my Panentheism and Humanism. The rationalism may need a further definition, but I am glad to let its use be its own justification for use. These are statements I view to be self-evident, but mutually justifying.

  1. YOU MAY NEED TO USE THE ARROW KEYS TO VIEW THE WHOLE SENTENCES.  
  2. THERE IS NO WORDWRAP.  
  3. THERE IS A SCROLLBAR AT THE BOTTOM.  
  4.   
  5. God is an ultimate concept.  
  6.     Ultimate concepts cannot have the dichotomy of cause/effect applied to them. They deny causality.  
  7.     Existence is an effect necessarily preceded by a cause.  
  8.         Anything which exists has a cause.  
  9. God does not exist.  
  10.   
  11. (Creation = Nature. Noun, not verb.)  
  12. Creation is a relative concept.  
  13.     Existence is a relative concept.  
  14.         Relative concepts are those proceeded necessarily by a cause.  
  15.             This implies that the relative, or existent, did at one time not exist.  
  16.                 Time is existent.  
  17.     Creation at one time did not exist.  
  18.         Creation has a cause.  
  19.             Creation is a relative concept.  
  20. Creation exists.  
  21.   
  22. God does not exist.  
  23. Creation exists.  
  24.   
  25. Transcendence and existence are mutually exclusive.  
  26.   
  27. God transcends.  
  28. Creation exists.  
  29.   
  30. (God = ultimate cause. Nonentity)  
  31.   
  32. Transcendence is independent of cause.  
  33.     Transcendence necessarily proceeds existence.  
  34.     A cause encompasses all attributes of the effect.  
  35.   
  36. God is transcendent and causeless.  
  37.     Transcendence must be ultimate/unified.  
  38.     God is ultimately transcendent and causeless.  
  39.     Creation is relative and caused.  
  40. God causes nature.  
  41.   
  42. relative concept cannot produce another equally relative concept.  
  43.     Each production is more relative.  
  44.     New productions must become increasingly relative.  
  45. Entropy.  
  46.   
  47. A transcendent can cause any relative.  
  48.   
  49. God is capable, and must constantly create the incapable, or dependent. (Nature)  
  50.   
  51. Causing/Capable  
  52.     Increasing. Capable of continuity.  
  53.   
  54. Entropic/Incapable  
  55.     Decreasing. Dependent.  
  56.   
  57. God  
  58. -Ultimate  
  59. -Transcendent  
  60. -Causeless  
  61. -Causing/Capable  
  62. -Precedent  
  63. -Encompassing/Sufficing  
  64.   
  65. Creation  
  66. -Relative  
  67. -Existent  
  68. -Caused  
  69. -Entropic  
  70. -Following  
  71. -Reflective  
  72.   
  73. //===============  
  74. ===============//  
  75.   
  76. Man’s nature is good.  
  77.     Good is that which seeks the highest possible equilibrium.  
  78.         Disruption must proceed a heightening of equilibrium.  
  79.     Evil is nonexistent.  
  80.         Evil, the concept, is latent good.  
  81.     What is evil in higher equilibriums may be good in lesser equilibriums.  
  82.         Latent good is realized by actively seeking an ever heightening equilibrium.  
  83.             Ultimate equilibrium is impossible by entropic beings.  
  84.                 Potential for good must be infinite.  
  85.                     Latent good is infinite.  
  86.                     Evil is infinite.  
  87.     Latency and stagnation is contrary to the purpose of man.  
  88.   
  89. Good is the existent expression of transcendent divine attributes, or platonic universals.  
  90.     Man realizes greater good through the seeking of an ever heightening equilibrium  
  91.         Greater good lies latent as evil.  
  92.             Man contains infinite potential good.  
  93.                 Man cannot be perfected.  
  94.             Man can be improved.  
  95.     God is the source of existence.  
  96.         Evil is a comprehension of a nonexistence, an intellectual construct.  
  97.             God is the source of comprehension, an attribute of God.  
  98.             The nonexistent requires and cannot have a source.  
  99.                 God is not the source of evil.  
  100.     God intends man to express His attributes.  
  101.         Man expresses His attributes via realization of latent good.  
  102.         Serving humanity allows higher equilibrium to follow.  
  103.             Serving man is synonymous to serving God.  

YOU MAY NEED TO USE THE ARROW KEYS TO VIEW THE WHOLE SENTENCES.
THERE IS NO WORDWRAP.
THERE IS A SCROLLBAR AT THE BOTTOM.

God is an ultimate concept.
	Ultimate concepts cannot have the dichotomy of cause/effect applied to them. They deny causality.
	Existence is an effect necessarily preceded by a cause.
		Anything which exists has a cause.
God does not exist.

(Creation = Nature. Noun, not verb.)
Creation is a relative concept.
	Existence is a relative concept.
		Relative concepts are those proceeded necessarily by a cause.
			This implies that the relative, or existent, did at one time not exist.
				Time is existent.
	Creation at one time did not exist.
		Creation has a cause.
			Creation is a relative concept.
Creation exists.

God does not exist.
Creation exists.

Transcendence and existence are mutually exclusive.

God transcends.
Creation exists.

(God = ultimate cause. Nonentity)

Transcendence is independent of cause.
	Transcendence necessarily proceeds existence.
	A cause encompasses all attributes of the effect.

God is transcendent and causeless.
	Transcendence must be ultimate/unified.
	God is ultimately transcendent and causeless.
	Creation is relative and caused.
God causes nature.

A relative concept cannot produce another equally relative concept.
	Each production is more relative.
	New productions must become increasingly relative.
Entropy.

A transcendent can cause any relative.

God is capable, and must constantly create the incapable, or dependent. (Nature)

Causing/Capable
	Increasing. Capable of continuity.

Entropic/Incapable
	Decreasing. Dependent.

God
-Ultimate
-Transcendent
-Causeless
-Causing/Capable
-Precedent
-Encompassing/Sufficing

Creation
-Relative
-Existent
-Caused
-Entropic
-Following
-Reflective

//===============
===============//

Man's nature is good.
	Good is that which seeks the highest possible equilibrium.
		Disruption must proceed a heightening of equilibrium.
	Evil is nonexistent.
		Evil, the concept, is latent good.
	What is evil in higher equilibriums may be good in lesser equilibriums.
		Latent good is realized by actively seeking an ever heightening equilibrium.
			Ultimate equilibrium is impossible by entropic beings.
				Potential for good must be infinite.
					Latent good is infinite.
					Evil is infinite.
	Latency and stagnation is contrary to the purpose of man.

Good is the existent expression of transcendent divine attributes, or platonic universals.
	Man realizes greater good through the seeking of an ever heightening equilibrium
		Greater good lies latent as evil.
			Man contains infinite potential good.
				Man cannot be perfected.
			Man can be improved.
	God is the source of existence.
		Evil is a comprehension of a nonexistence, an intellectual construct.
			God is the source of comprehension, an attribute of God.
			The nonexistent requires and cannot have a source.
				God is not the source of evil.
	God intends man to express His attributes.
		Man expresses His attributes via realization of latent good.
		Serving humanity allows higher equilibrium to follow.
			Serving man is synonymous to serving God.

One of my personal theories aligns with the Bahá’í principle of progressive revelation. I think that the evolution of man is very gradual but also dependent upon a few large leaps; this is also the way that modern science is finding that biological evolution works. (God is the unified field theory people, figure it out!) Man reaches stagnancy when seeking equilibrium. Stagnancy is contrary to the purpose of man. In a stagnant state the great latent good in man is not becoming realized, though what already has been realized remains. However, while before the stagnancy began this was enough good for man to function, at some point man needs to advance or the build up of evil over time has negative effect. At this point society has become so wrapped up in stagnancy that it is impossible to advance any further, or break free of the hold. Monolithic figures, aberrations must occur, single men who can raise society just enough to reach equilibrium again, so that again an ever advancing society can continue. The greatest of these are divinely guided, as their aberrations are beyond what can naturally occur.

This is another partial interview I conducted for my now non-existent project. It is very incomplete, but I have chosen also to include our emails before the interview, as Dev is full of warm words.

As with all the people who were to be included in that project, Gurudev is a blogger. He writes very interesting posts on the modern world, modern India, and what India is to him. http://hitxp.wordpress.com

Email 1 – Me to Gurudev
Hello, I run a brand new blog where I am trying to interview bloggers from various religions about how their religion affects their life, about their life, and about how blogging ties into their world view. Would you be interested? I woudl really like to interview you, currently I am trying to interview you, and a Buddhist, and a Baha’i. Please contact me [ . . . ]

Email 2 – Gurudev to Me
Hi Ruhi

Thanks for visiting my blog and contacting me. It is nice to hear about your effort to understand the effects of religions on people’s lives. It would be my pleasure to be a part of this, but I would like to clarify a bit about myself.

Even though I come from a Hindu Brahmin family, I dont call myself a devout religious Hindu, but instead consider myself to be a cultural Indian. Culture is a way of life for the person, where as religion requires time to be dedicated out of a person’s life 🙂

I dont believe in things based on blind faith, but instead rely only on pure scientific facts. Culture is tested and trusted by practicing it, where as a religion is practiced by trusting it (called faith). Which is why I like the ancient Indian vedic culture, because it allows me to question and criticize the very same vedic texts! In fact Hinduism is not a religion at all, but a scientific culture based on the ancient Vedas. There is no religious authority, prophet, founder, missionaries, blasphemy etc in Hinduism.

In fact the ancient Indian culture can be found across all the religions that have their origins in the Indian subcontinent like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism etc and also in those Indianised versions of western religions.

So if you interview me, I would be answering from the perspective of an ancient Indian culture, rather than in the limited sense of a religion 🙂

Cheers
Gurudev

Email 3 – Me to Gurudev
Gurudev,

I actually find that even more interesting, and I am not sure I wholly understand, which makes for a good interview, I am very intrigued.

I am really intrigued, because my exposure to Hinduism is from a more religious than cultural direction. Being a Baha’i I venerate Krishna as a Manifestation of God, and I read the Bhagavad Gita alongside Al-Qur’an and The Bible.

You talk about the ancient Indian culture being found in all the Indic belief systems and Indianised versions of western religions. I find that last bit so interesting, it will end up in the interview.

Well, they way I will conduct this is I will ask 1-2 questions at a time, and you will answer. On the blog I will post a few paragraph summary of the interview and what I learned from you, and link to the full interview. Also, you blog will be added to my sidebar. (I am interviewing bloggers only.)

If you are ready I can begin. I expect it could last a while depending on our schedules.

Sincerly,
Gerald

Email 4 – Gurudev to Me
Gerald

Its really nice to hear that you are a Bahai! The world needs more people who follow religions/faiths that treat all humans equal…. not as individual races or differentiate between believers and infidels thereby causing violence and hatred.

A true religion which treats all humans as equal does not need any missionaries or evangelists or any religious conversions. Which is why I like Hinduism/Vedic Culture and for that matter even Bahai is on similar lines. The most beautiful concept of vedic culture or hinduism that I like is the ancient vedic saying ‘Ekam Sath Vipra Bahuda Vadanthi’ which means ‘There is only one God, learned scholars call him with different names’, so I can call that God Vishnu, Allah, Jesus or by whatever name I want and Hinduism has no objection!

Vedas also say ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ and ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu’. These are Sanskrit phrases thousands of years old, where the former means ‘The whole earth is a single family’ and the latter means ‘May all the humans live happily’.

Even Bahaulla preached on similar lines saying ‘The earth is one single country where the entire humanity are its citizens’. This makes real practical sense, where no humans fight unnecessarily over artificial divisions. When all humans believe in this, the world will be a Ramarajya, a kingdom defined in the ancient Indian texts where all people lived happily and prosperously without any violence or hatred, where all loved and respected every other human, a kingdom where all were treated equally.

And yes, you can start asking the questions.
Thanks again for considering me for the interview 🙂

Cheers
Guru

Can you describe the religious environment in which you were raised?
I was not brought up in a strictly religious environment. Instead it was a cultural environment, whose origins can be traced back to the ancient vedic culture. Hinduism is more of a culture than a religion. There is no specific founder or a prophet in Hinduism, nor is there any single religions authority. Nor is there any concept of believers and non-believers in Hinduism. Because the vedic scriptures say Ekam Sat, Vipraa Bahuda Vadanthi, which in Sanskrit means “there is only one God, and learned scholars call this God with different names”. So in Hinduism it doesnt matter by which name one calls a God with.

Also only Hinduism allows a normal human being to be promoted to the status of a God and worshiped. No religion has this concept of revealing the God present within a person!

Right from my childhood I was always encouraged to ask questions instead of following things blindly. Once when I was a kid, I went to attend a birthday party of a friend, and saw that he blew off the candles before cutting the birthday cake. I remembered that for my birthday I was made to light two lamps. When I questioned about this, I got the following answer.

Light represents knowledge because it gives us information. Only when there is light one can see things, read books, etc. Darkness on the other hand is absence of light, which indicates absence of knowledge. Which is why Sun is also considered to be a symbol of knowledge.
So in Hinduism we light a lamp which symbolizes arrival of knowledge. For this reason, it is considered inauspicious in Hinduism to put off a source of light like lamp.

The very nature of allowing questions to be asked keeps our minds open for debate and understanding of what we are doing. This ensures a scientific presence of mind instead of a blind faith.

We were also encouraged to go to places of worship of other religions and pray. God was taught to us to be an all pervading supreme being in this universe. Our parents, teachers, babies, food, trees and plants, animals, mountains, sun, moon, planets, river, water, air, anything and everything that makes up this universe were said to be different manifestations of the same God. God as taught to us is not somebody who resides outside this universe, but instead is the eternal universe itself called Vishnu, and this universe extends well beyond our temporary physical universe called Brahma.

The true enemies of a person as taught to us were anger, lust, greed, ego, jealousy and illusion. A person will find true peace in his life if he can conquer these enemies. These enemies lie within us and the battle to overcome them is fought within oneself. Which is why Hindus give such an importance to yoga and meditation spending time with oneself.

Hinduism is the only religion where the most powerful forms of God is a female. We were taught a ancient sanskrit hymn which says ‘Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devataha’, which means Gods roam in those places where women are worshiped.

I remember a beautiful story that was told to us about the purpose of our life. Every time God wanted to do something good to the society, God did not do it by himself. Instead God created a child. So the real purpose of our life is to identify the reason why God created us and to serve that purpose.

These were some examples of the kind of cultural education that we received as we grew up.
To summarize it was, always think positive, ask questions, respect everybody and everything, protect nature, be away from negative influences, serve the society.

This interview was conducted for another blog project of mine that I have since dropped for the time being. However, it was an extremely interesting interview, so here it is. Bear in mind that I did not finish conducting the interview, it might have been twice this length by the end.

Alison Marshal is an unenrolled Bahá’í. What this means is that like me she has a deep love for Bahá’u’lláh, but unlike me she is not a registered member of the community led by the elected body known as the “Universal House of Justice”. Many Bahá’ís consider membership in that community to be synonymous with belief in Bahá’u’lláh. Alison was removed, in the year 2000, from the membership of the Bahá’í community. While I respect and stand by the decision to remove her, as I view the “Universal House of Justice” as infallible, that does not stop me from respecting her greatly. Despite our differences in belief, I greatly enjoyed interviewing her, and I hope it is an interesting read.

As with all those I intended to interview, Alison is a blogger, you can read her thoughts on life as a follower of Bahá’u’lláh on her blog Meditations on Baha’u’llah.

For any Bahá’ís reading this, bear in mind that Alison is not a Covenant Breaker, the Universal House of Justice did not label her as such, merely as a person whose personal beliefs did not coincide with those of the Bahá’í Community.

Most Bahá’ís convert into the Bahá’í Faith, and you are no exception – what sort of religious background were you raised in?

Yes, that’s right. I am a convert. I declared in 1980, around the time of my 21st birthday.

I was born in 1959. I wasn’t raised in any religious background as such. I made my own way through. My father was a staunch atheist and my mother was nominally Anglican. My father’s strong feelings against religion, I think, influenced her not to attend church or maintain any other religious practice. I remember when I was very young, a local minister would periodically brave an audience with my father in order to discuss religious matters. My father quite literally hated, in particular, Roman Catholics. He saw only hypocrisy in the church and, above all, he hated hypocrisy. It’s easy to see his influence on me there! He believed in science as the salvation of humanity. This became a crisis of faith for him when he was dying of cancer and he realised that science couldn’t cure him.

Sometime between the ages of 5 and 10, I asked Mum if I could attend the local Anglican church. I think I was influenced to do so by my friends, who went and sang in the choir. I clearly remember her response: ‘Ask your father’. And so I did. He was under the car or something. He looked at me a little bewildered that I should ask such a thing. Then he said he didn’t mind what I did; it was all a load of nonsense as far as he was concerned. And so I enjoyed several years of attending church and singing in the choir. Mum then began attending church to hear me sing and we’d sing hymns at home together while doing the housework. Her favourite hymn was “What a friend we have in Jesus”. The vision of her singing it while flinging sheets over the beds is one of my most cherished memories of her.

In my mid-teens, I meet up with some visiting devotees from the Hare Krishna Movement and converted and became a vegetarian. By this time, my father had long since left my mother and I was free to do as I pleased. When I look back on it, I find it hard to believe. The girls at school gave me a very hard time for belonging to such a strange religion. I remember debating at length the issues with them in the locker rooms. I wore some wooden beads tight around my neck, as followers of that faith are wont to do. These were never removed. The school had a rule that girls were not to wear jewellery and I was asked to remove my beads. I refused, arguing that they were not jewellery but an important expression of my faith. Eventually, I was hauled before the head matron and told in no uncertain terms that I was to remove the beads. She also gave me a lecture about Christianity and told me to learn the Lord’s Prayer off by heart. I removed the beads and learned the prayer.

After I left school, I lapsed into a hippie lifestyle and was in the middle of that when I meet up with the Baha’is who were eventually to convert me. At that time, I was a follower of Carlos Castaneda and the religion of Don Juan. Wiki describes it as “traditional Mesoamerican shamanism”.

Can you describe your experience with Bahá’ís leading up to your acceptance of Bahá’u’lláh?

As I said, I was living a hippie lifestyle. It was unusual to say the least. My partner of the time, Barry, and I lived in a paddock about a mile’s walk from a road. The farmer allowed us to live in an old shed in a valley by a stream and we lived in that idyllic setting and grew lettuces. We hadn’t lived there for long; only a few months, for it was clearly a summer-only lifestyle. Occasionally, we’d hitch hike into a local town to take a look at civilisation. On 1 January 1980, we decided to celebrate the beginning of the new year and decade by treating ourselves to a meal at the local restaurant. I remember we ate crayfish. Afterwards, we decided to go hitch hiking and debated which side of the road to stand on. As it turned out, we headed south and were quickly picked up by Ashley and Kahu Davidson, who were to teach us the faith. I remember sitting in the back of their vehicle and them saying they were Baha’is and had we heard of Baha’u’llah. Barry, who was about 20 years older than me, replied that he had. I was bewildered and asked Barry who Baha’u’llah was. He said that Baha’u’llah was the return of Christ.

Ash and Kahu quickly established that Barry and I were of no fixed abode and adopted us. They were Maori and lived in a house on ancestral land. I am Pakeha (a New Zealander of European descent) and had never lived among the Maori people before. I discovered that Barry and I were just two of many that Ash and Kahu considered as their extended family. Ash and Kahu ran a business putting on a disco at weekends in the local towns around the region. Barry and I helped out. During my time living with Ash and Kahu, I learned much about the faith. They talked about it constantly. But for all the talk, the things that stuck in my mind and moved my heart were their actions. I was struck by how Ash prayed outside in the car park before attending to a difficult issue. Kahu was a fabulous singer (she is known throughout the New Zealand Baha’i community for this) and I would listen to her singing in the evening. She had put some of Abdu’l-Baha’s words to music and, one evening, the words stood up and shook me to attention:

“The mystic Nightingale is warbling for them all; will they not listen? The Bird of Paradise is singing; will they not heed? The Angel of Abha is calling to them; will they not hearken? The Herald of the Covenant is pleading; will they not obey?” Quoted in the pamphlet “The Passing of Abdu’-Baha” p 28

After about four months, Ash and Kahu put pressure on us to declare. Again, I remember Barry’s fateful words: ‘Let’s sign the card for them; we don’t have to change’. I agreed. We wanted to make Ash and Kahu happy because they’d been very good to us. However, upon signing the card, I was immediately changed. It was instantaneous. I suddenly knew that I’d joined a vast community and I had this sense that I had come home and now ‘belonged’.

Ash and Kahu taught to faith to many people. After declaring, I witnessed them teaching many others. They were full of the spirit and very effective. However, they had a problematic relationship with the administration. (I’ll omit the details.) But, as is often the case, despite this, they were the best example of Baha’i in the region.

How did your life change as a Bahá’í? Can you describe the feeling your declaration gave you, was it merely a feeling of acceptance, or something more?

Now that you come to mention it, it was more than a feeling of acceptance. Your question has reminded me that I experienced a state of euphoria for about 6 to 9 months.

But the reality of my new life ate into that and, inevitably, I came down hard. I had been leading an irresponsible life as a hippie and the consequences of that now came home to roost. My life changed completely after I declared. The first indication of this was when Ash told Barry and me that, now we were Baha’is, we would have to marry! Baha’is weren’t allowed to simply live together, he explained. That threw the cat amongst the pigeons. I had to begin to think about why I was with Barry at all. It was one thing to cruise through life and it was another to marry!

The next 2 to 3 years, while the situation was ironed out, were the most difficult years of my life (apart from those associated with my disenrollment). I was young, only 21, and Barry was so much older. I had never made a conscious decision to choose him as a partner. He had manipulated his way into my life and I had allowed it because I had a ‘father’ issue. My father had victimised my mother all of their married life and I had learned this behaviour from them. And so, I was victimised by Barry. Initially, it wasn’t like that – as I said we enjoyed living in the paddock together. But then Barry sensed that he might lose me due to the pressure to marry and the requirement to obtain permission from parents, and he began to abuse and control me. Added to the complexity of the situation was that, in those turbulent years, I gave birth to our daughter.

Interviewer’s Note: Bahá’ís who intend to marry are enjoined by the Prophet Founder of that Faith to obtain permission from the biological parents of both spouses. This applies whether or not both partners are Bahá’ís.

My mother refused her permission for us to marry. In fact, I asked her too. I wasn’t strong enough to stand up to him and I ended up putting that burden on her. Now that I look back, I can see that she would never have consented anyway. Mum was furious at my father, who had given consent with a wave of his hand, writing me off to my ill-chosen fate. Barry and I continued to live together, which I heard was a worry for the local assembly because it didn’t know whether to intervene. But the relationship eventually descended into such a nightmare that I fled one day with my daughter and went home. It took about 9 months, after which time my life settled down and I began a new life as a mother and university student. However, the disputes over custody and access continued for some years.

You mention on your website that you served on a Local Spiritual Assembly (The lowest, but foundational body of the Bahá’í administrative order.)?

Yes, that’s right. Within a couple of years of returning home, I received a visit from a couple of local Baha’is, as part of an initiative of the local assembly. They encouraged me to attend Baha’i events. You see, it never occurred to me that the local community would want me. The community had been dragged into the unpleasantness between Barry and me. I felt my reputation was in ruins and that I had been nothing but a burden to them. Also, I had a young child and she was noisy in meetings. I had once been asked to remove her from a meeting (ironically, by Mark Choveaux!). I was so fragile that I was traumatised by this. With my baby in my arms, I flew out of the conference door and down the stairs and out into the street, chased by one of the matronly figures of the community, who was calling out for me to stop. I determined never to return. But this friendly visit from the two assembly members caused me to take heart and I began attending events. I’d say it was another year later – much to my surprise – I was voted onto the assembly! Gee, I’ll never forget my first meeting. I was terrified to speak. I ended up serving on the assembly for about seven years. By the end of the 1980s, I was the secretary and at the centre of community life.

What was it that attracted you to the Bahá’í Faith in the first place, and did whatever attractive element you found live up to your expectations as a member of the Community?

The thing that attracted me to the faith wasn’t intellectual. Back then, when I was 21, my intellectual faculties were dormant. I operated entirely on my heart. My reaction to the faith was therefore quite different to most people’s. For example, I didn’t think to myself: ‘Gee, the oneness of God – yeah, I believe in that.’ I didn’t think in terms of ideas and whether I believed in them. A few years before I declared, I was out hitch hiking by myself and was picked up by a Baha’i. He told me he was a Baha’i and I, of course, asked him what that meant. He produced a pamphlet with the principles. He asked me if I disagreed with any of them. I read them through and said that I didn’t. But what this guy didn’t realise was that this approach to teaching was never going to work for me.

As I said earlier, what attracted me to the faith were the actions of Ash and Kahu – watching Ash pray, hearing Kahu sing and seeing how the faith was at the centre of their lives and how they looked after other people. That taught me how one can *be* a Baha’i. Another important thing was reading Balyuzi’s biography of Abdu’l-Baha and, in particular, the bit where Abdu’l-Baha sends a doctor to the Christian guy who’d been shunning him for decades. I remember crying when I read that. Here was someone who’d overcome hatred and who had shown such tremendous love – even to someone who hated him. That meant Abdu’l-Baha could, and maybe even did, love me too. This was home, from what I could make out.

Subsequently, I met individual Baha’is who fell well short of the standard. But that didn’t shake my faith because I knew they weren’t the Faith itself. Those people had their shortcomings, as I knew I did. As time went on, what began to upset me and challenge my faith was when the actions of Baha’is got in the way of the Faith growing.

Baha’u’llah talks about freeing ourselves of self and ego; were these actions that interfered with the growth of the faith motivated by self and ego? Can you explain?

Of course, it would always be self and ego that motivated such actions. But I guess you’re asking about the nature of those actions. My feelings of real despair about the ways things were going in the community came when I was involved in community activities and on the local assembly. I was trying to bring about change and, to my mind, others resisted change. For example, the community, for the most part, voted for men as delegates and assembly members – married men with children. Year after year this happened. After a while, it becomes monotonous and you begin to lose interest in the voting process. But that’s just one example of a general thing. I was secretary of the assembly for many years and wanted to put in place a system for streamlining the work of the assembly. I was particularly motivated to do this because the assembly left everything to the secretary. Other members (not all) did not volunteer for things or were not reliable. There was no unified action. (To be fair, this happened in the late 1980s; the early 1980s were really good.) But there was no way that any systems could be put in place. I suffered from burnout and eventually resigned as secretary and as a member of the assembly. I got to a point where I just hated it. I was suffering badly from stress and was resentful that I had given all that time to the assembly at the expense of my daughter. I now regret not making my daughter my priority and leaving the assembly/community to look after itself.

Around that time, I attended a summer school and was at a discussion about how our communities could move forward. The talk went on and on, all around me. All these ideas were being voiced – good ones too, I had no problems with them. The problem was that they were just ideas. They started to beat down on my mind like a drum. I had a sort of inner explosion and I burst into tears and said something like: ‘I’ve tried and tried. I tried my absolute hardest but it’s just impossible. Nothing changes. No one really wants to change. We’re not going anywhere. I’m totally confused and lost. Here we are with Baha’u’llah and, yet, we are hamstrung by our own weaknesses. It’s all hopeless. No amount of effort will make any difference.’ It was a turning point for me. I stopped being at the centre of community life and began life on the periphery. That happened around 1989.

But that didn’t stop me being concerned about where the community was going. The key thing for me was communication. As secretary, I believed my most important job was to keep the community informed about everything that was happening. I had a policy that, if it wasn’t confidential, then the community should be told about it and was free to discuss it at feast. (We had over 100 people in the community.) I made detailed reports about what was being discussed in assembly meetings, and anything else that was happening, and put these out in regular newsletters. After I moved to the periphery, the assembly culture began to change. It dictated its decisions and, if community members dared to express disagreement, this was interpreted as disobedience. Inevitably, I came to be seen as a troublemaker. This got worse and worse throughout the 1990s. I married Steve in late 1991, and so there wasn’t just one troublemaker, but two!

I mentioned earlier that you are an unenrolled Bahá’í, what does that mean? From the perspective of a non-Baha’i what is the difference between the average Bahá’í and you?

An unenrolled Baha’i is a person who believes in Baha’u’llah and considers themselves Baha’i by religion but who is not a member of the Baha’i community. I think the House of Justice unintentionally created the category of ‘unenrolled Baha’i’ by following a policy of forcing believers it disagreed with out of the community. When I was forcibly disenrolled in March 2000, then I had no choice but to be an ‘unenrolled’ Baha’i. I couldn’t stop being a Baha’i – you can’t turn belief in Baha’u’llah off like a tap just because an institution has made an arbitrary decision about your community membership. Before the House of Justice instituted this new policy, the Baha’i community had no concept of an unenrolled Baha’i – and most would still say that such a thing is not possible because you have to be a member of the community to be a Baha’i. But events have moved on and people are freely choosing to be unenrolled Baha’is now because they believe in Baha’u’llah but do not want to be enrolled in the community. It’s a new thing and it’s spreading, irrespective of whether the Baha’i community thinks it’s a legitimate category or not.

You ask about the difference between the “average Baha’i” and me. Do you mean the difference between an enrolled Baha’i and me? I don’t think that non-Baha’is would see a difference. They would have to be clued up on the categories that Baha’is use and would have to be close enough to me to know about my disenrollment and what it meant. To them, I’m obviously a believer – they know that I pray and fast and that I work part time so that I can write my websites and study Arabic and the writings. A key difference between me and an enrolled believer is that I don’t feel obliged to take the party line. I don’t have to defend the institutions and their policies, if I disagree with them. I have found that people are much more open with me about my religion now that I’m not an official member. They know I’m going to speak the truth and not try to sell them something. Teaching the faith has become a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience. I just do my thing as I see fit and have a ball.

Can you briefly explain what led to your removal from the community lead by the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel?

I should have no trouble being brief about that! On 28 March 2000, the New Zealand National Spiritual Assembly sent an email to Steve (my husband) for me. (The National Assembly didn’t know my email address.) In the email, the National Spiritual Assembly informed me that: “The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion that, on the basis of an established pattern of statements by you and behaviour and attitude on your part over the past two or three years, you cannot properly be considered as meeting the requirements of membership in the Baha’i community. Accordingly, we have removed your name from our membership rolls and have informed the Baha’i institutions concerned.” I wasn’t given any further information from the Baha’i institutions. I asked the National Assembly for more information, but they said they couldn’t provide it because they hadn’t made the decision. I had no communication about the matter from the Baha’i institutions before receiving the email. It came entirely out of the blue.

So, in answer to your question about what led to my removal from community membership, the answer is that it was an established pattern of statements by me and my behaviour and attitudes over the past two or three years, which would have been between 1997-8 and 2000. In response to this, I put up on my website all the email messages I wrote over that time (http://www.whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/talisman.html). I’ve also put up a chronology of events that occurred prior to my disenrollment (http://www.whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/chron.html). But those events do not shed any light on what my offensive statements, behaviour and attitudes were. The only reason I was able to put the chronology of events together was because, under New Zealand privacy law, I was able to obtain the National Assembly minutes about me. From those, I was able to find out what happened behind closed doors at National Assembly meetings. But the decision to disenroll me was made by the House, without the National Assembly’s knowledge, and so those minutes don’t help with finding the reason for the decision.

The amazing people at the Muslim Network for Bahá’í Rights have posted a translation of a poster being distributed in Iran for the purpose of deriding the Bahá’í Faith. I have borrowed the translation from there, and I will respond to it.

“True Face of Baha’is”

Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi has stated: “These people are considered religious heretics and they must be avoided. No business transaction or marriage is permitted with them.”
This just sends chills down my back, as Shirazi indicates that this man is a native of Shiraz, the city in which the Bahá’í faith began.

Since the foundational belief of Baha’is centers on misleading Muslims from the straight path and creating division among them, and Baha’is greatly insist in presenting whatever is accepted in Islam as unworthy and according to Baha’u’llah’s teachings all the sayings of God and the Prophet are completely reversed. In truth, in his books Baha’u’llah has brought a series of teachings all void, devoid of meaning, frivolous, bereft of literary value, and filled with errors – and he has presented these as the principles of the Baha’i faith. So that the reader will be better informed some of them will be discussed below:
One of the foundational beliefs of the Bahá’í faith is the Prophethood of Muḥammad, and the validity of everything he taught. Bahá’ís are also taught to “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.”

1. No one should criticize monarchs or governments of their time and a Baha’i is not permitted to interfere in political matters, otherwise he will be expelled from the Baha’i community. (This holds true even if a tyrannical monarch is the seat of authority. It is interesting that the Universal House of Justice constantly encourages Iranian to interfere in political matters and to uproot the Islamic Republic, and the very foundational teachings of Baha’is is political in nature and they have no thoughts other than elimination of Islam.)
This is for the most part true, Bahá’ís should obey in all matters the government of the country they live in, and criticism is generally seen as divisive and wrong. This does hold true even if a tyrannical monarch is the seat of authority, and in fact Iranian Bahá’ís are enjoined to obey their government. The Universal House of Justice has never encouraged rebellion or interference in political matters, they have requested from other governments assistance for the Bahá’ís in Iran, and sent inspirational messages to those believers in order to keep their spirits alive under oppression. Obedience has always been enjoined.

2. Baha’u’llah presented himself as effulgent of God and claimed that God has entrusted him with creation and the order of universe.
Bahá’u’lláh is the Manifestation of God, or the Word of God. He has existed from before time, and was the Word with which the Universe came into being.

3. With appearance of the Bab and Baha’u’llah, the Islamic shari‘ih [jurisprudence] was annulled and the period of Muhammad’s prophethood came to an end.
True and not true, Islamic law was annulled, and the dispensation of Muḥammad did end, however His Prophethood is eternal.

4. Each year has 19 months, and each month consists of 19 days. The period of Fasting is 19 days and occurs in the month before Naw-Ruz.
True.

5. Pilgrimage is to the house of Ali-Muhammad Bab in Shiraz or the house of Mirza Husayn-Ali Baha in Iraq, and a specific time has not been designated for it.
While this is mostly true, I am unsure as to whether a specific time has been designated. The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Israel is also a place of pilgrimage.

6. One may marry one’s daughter, sister or other family members. The sole exception is marrying one’s step-mother. This act takes place under the supervision of the Universal House of Justice. (The enormous building of the House of Justice was constructed at the cost of $250 million dollars and direct support of Yitzhak Rabin, the former prime minister of the Zionist regime, and under the care of two Iranian Baha’i escapees named engineer Hossein Amanat and Dr. Fariborz Sahba.)
One may certainly not marry a daughter, sister, mother of step-mother, nor may a woman marry a son, brother, father, or step-father. As for cousins and other family members, this is not allowed in most cultures, and the Universal House of Justice has not yet seen fit to rule on the status of this practice by Bahá’ís in cultures which allow it. The Universal House of Justice sits in an expensive building, yes. Does not the body of the Holy Imam Husayn, or the Holy Prophet Muḥammad? (And both of those Holy Personages should be buried in beautiful buildings I might add.)

7. All things are clean and nothing is unclean, not even urine, refuse, dog, pig or semen.
As far as I know, ritualistic hygiene does not exist in our Faith. However, we are enjoined to be cleaner than the average population, and this would include any substance on our body other than clothing, perfume or makeup.

8. Consent of parents of the bride and groom is unnecessary for marriage.
This is totally false. When I became a Bahá’í, it felt so odd to me that the written consent of all living parents of both spouses was necessary for a marriage, but it most certainly is. (I have since come to terms with this, and now I am glad for it.)

9. Obligatory prayers should not be offered in congregation, except the Prayer for the Dead. Baha’is have three obligatory prayers. First one is the long obligatory prayer which is to be offered once in every 24 hours and has completely invented genuflections and verses. The second obligatory prayer is the medium one, offered in the morning, noon and night. The third is the short obligatory prayer and offered at the time of sunset. Of course reciting one of these three prayers will suffice. And if one were to chose the short obligatory prayer it is almost like not praying at all. The Qiblih [the Point of Adoration] is the burial spot of Mirza Husayn-Ali Baha in Akka, Israel.
Most of this is true. However, the Short Obligatory Prayer, while very short, is very deep and is much like the Muslim Shahada. Also, the Qiblih is in Bahji, not Akka.

10. If one does not have water for ablution, then he may repeat five times, “In the Name of God, the Most Pure, the Most Pure.”
True. Prophet Muḥammad also provided for the possibility of a lack of water by allowing ablutions to be done with sand. However, most Bahá’ís do not live in places where sand is any more readily available than water, unlike mos Muslims.

11. The age of maturity of girls and boys is 15.
True.

I was once told a story about a Hand of the Cause of God who was accompanying the Master. A Baha’i man came up to the Hand of the Cause and began enthusiastically praising him, and thanking him for everything he had done. In response to this, and to the shock of the man giving out the lavish praise, the Hand began to cry. When the Baha’i asked `Abdu’l-Bahá why the Hand had started to sob `Abdu’l-Bahá explained that ego was a huge challenge for the Hand, and that every day he had to take all the praise he received and try very hard to ignore it and maintain humility.

While it was a different, earlier Hand, this story makes me think of Charles Mason Remey. For me Remey is the ultimate tragedy, and I think he is a figure we should remember in our prayers. Remey was the best of Baha’is, he designed the Australian and Ugandan Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs. The Master approved his design for the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Haifa, and he designed a temple for Tehrán, and the future Shrine of `Abdu’l-Bahá.

`Abdu’l-Bahá
made it very clear how greatly He trusted Remey, and how much He loved him. In fact He called him his son repeatedly, and the Sign of God on Earth, Shoghi Effendi, called him his brother. Remey traveled around the world, and was in constant communication with the Head of the Faith. In Shoghi Effendi’s time Remey lived in Haifa, as President of the International Bahá’í Council and later as a Hand of The Cause of God. His loyalty to Shoghi Effendi Was unceasing, as expressed in his diary after reading the Will and Testament of `Abdu’l-Bahá appointing Shoghi Effendi Guardian

“Never have I read anything which gave me the joy and inspiration that this Holy document produced in my heart. It filled my heart with assurance that the Cause was safely guarded and gave me a fixed direction toward which to turn and a continuous center about which we are all to revolve so long as we are in this world. I rejoice at the Bahá’í standard of excellence which it established…”

Shoghi Effendi gave him a package labeled“Coagulated drops of Bahá’u’lláh‘s All-Sacred Blood and Ringlets of His Most Blessed Locks presented as my most precious possession to `Abdu’l-Bahá‘s “dear son” Mr. Charles Mason Remey as a token of my Bahá’í affection and brotherly love. Shoghi”. Inside the package was a note: “Of all the remnants of Bahá’u’lláh‘s all-Sacred Person, the most hallowed, the most precious, confidently delivered into the hands of my brother and co-worker in the Cause of God, Mr. Remey. Shoghi March 1922″. Covenant-Breakers argue that this proves `Abdu’l-Bahá saw Remey as his son, and I do not disagree, `Abdu’l-Bahá may even have adopted him legally as they argue. Having the blood of Bahá’u’lláhin your possession seems so great an honor as to prevent you from even considering the smallest sin. I have an envelope of roses from The Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, and even those have an unbearable power.

When Shoghi Effendi passed away Remey acted as a Hand of the Cause in agreement with the rest, declaring that Shoghi Effendi had not appointed a successor, and the decision on how to handle the situation lied with the currently non-yet constituted Universal House of Justice. As a Hand, Remey was entrusted with protecting the Faith, and had been given the complete trust of `Abdu’l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi. As the President of the International Bahá’í Council he would lead the Bahá’í Faith until the Universal House of Justice was elected, and he probably would have been the first in the minds of everyone at that election.

Bahá’u’lláh enjoins us to call ourselves to account each night, to consider our actions and ponder their effects and our motives in performing them. The Hand of the Cause who broke into tears in response to lavish praise tried excruciatingly to follow that admonition. Remey must have struggled with this on an everyday basis, he was among the most powerful Bahá’ís, he had achieved so much, and the faith eternally owes an incredible debt of gratitude to this amazing and wonderful man. In the end however, he failed to call himself to account. While I cannot get inside his head, I assume that pride was the largest part of his downfall.

Soon after Shoghi Effendi’s death, and signing documents declaring that only the Universal House of Justice could decide on the course of action as Shoghi Effendi had not left a will, Charles Mason Remey declared himself to be the second Gaurdian of the Bahá’í Faith. The reasons were preposterous and ridiculous, which add all the more to the tragedy of such an intelligent and dedicated man. I won’t get into the reasons here, and I expect at least one comment defending Remey. I don’t hate Remey, or dislike him, I admire him. I want to remember to pray for him, and to learn from his example, the good and the bad.

I don’t know what called for this post, but maybe it is a good one.

O God our Lord! Protect us through Thy grace from whatsoever may be repugnant unto Thee, and vouchsafe unto us that which well beseemeth Thee. Give us more out of Thy bounty, and bless us. Pardon us for the things we have done, and wash away our sins, and forgive us with Thy gracious forgiveness. Verily, Thou art the Most Exalted, the Self-Subsisting.

Thy loving providence hath encompassed all created things in the heavens and on the earth, and Thy forgiveness hath surpassed the whole creation. Thine is sovereignty; in Thy hand are the Kingdoms of Creation and Revelation; in Thy right hand Thou holdest all created things, and within Thy grasp are the assigned measures of forgiveness. Thou forgivest whomsoever among Thy servants Thou pleasest. Verily, Thou art the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Loving. Nothing whatsoever escapeth Thy knowledge, and naught is there which is hidden from Thee.

O God our Lord! Protect us through the potency of Thy might, enable us to enter Thy wondrous surging ocean, and grant us that which well befitteth Thee.

Thou art the Sovereign Ruler, the Mighty Doer, the Exalted, the All-Loving.The Báb

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Cluster Idaho 01 had a meeting yesterday that I was lucky enough to attend. While it had decidedly poor turnout, and I was the only youth there, it was productive and incredible.

As the only youth I was in charge of spearheading the youth side of things. I explained what we have already done, and what we are planning on doing in future, and our Auxiliary Board member emphasized that this is not a time for the youth to have fun, but to work. Now we have a fireside-like meeting with friends, a highway cleanup, a Holy Day, volunteer work, and study circles to plan. Ferris Paisano, our Auxiliary Board member will be coming back down to talk to the youth soon, and explain to us all the importance of our role, and the importance of the institute process.

In addition to youth projects, our B cluster ATC had a secret plan they unveiled. They want us to embark on a practice IPG, or Intensive Program of Growth. This is a systematic approach to spreading the Word of Bahá’u’lláh. Normally IPGs are only performed once a cluster has reached A status, but we want to grow, and we want to practice. We created teaching teams and each of our teams will be teaching in a different way – in constant consultation with the Area Teaching Committee. When us youth have our next meeting I will be explaining the whole thing to the others and trying to get them to participate.

I have decided I want to get through books 2, 4, 5, and 7 this year at the very least. I want to be able to start my own study circle soon. Hopefully I can get into 2 study circles, and do 4 and 5 at once. I am most looking forward to book 4, which teaches about the lives of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh; book 5 however takes precedence, as it allows me to teach Jr. Youth Classes, which are meant to be taught by youth.

I find these meeting so invigorating, seeing the enthusiasm of our ATC and Auxiliary Board member, and the enthusiasm we all have by the end. Our Auxiliary Board member shared a bit of advice that Mr. ‘Alí Nakhjavani shared at a meeting I was blessed with attending earlier this year. Ali explained that each of us must rely solely on ourselves to serve the Faith. This is a social Faith, but we cannot be reliant upon the states or conditions of others for our spiritual progress. He said that when serving the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, we must each imagine ourselves to be Mullá Ḥusayn-i-Bushru’í . Mullá Ḥusayn, after first meeting with the Báb, stepped out onto the streets of Shiraz as the only believer on earth. Alone he held the responsibility of spreading God’s new word to every man and woman on earth, and he did a damn good job.

‘Alí Nakhjavani shared another piece of guidance at that meeting which inspired me deeply. He said that `Abdu’l-Bahá once said to following. (Paraphrased) “If you are asleep, wake up. If you are awake sit up. If you are sitting, stand. If you are standing, walk. If you are walking, march, and if you are marching, run!” (‘Alí yelled that last bit at the meeting.) He explained that this is not a faith to be made by those who sleep, sit, stand, or walk, but by those who march and run. ‘Alí had so much to say that affected me, and much of it ended up being shared at this cluster meeting. I am sure I will share more of it in the future on his blog.

There was one woman who was in attendance at the meeting that I was overjoyed to see. I have barely had a chance to speak to Shari since I have known her, but we both felt a very strong filial connection at first meeting. She had not been doing well, and I was told she was not leaving her house, but she was at the Cluster Meeting. She said she had not planned to go, but in the morning as she was struggling to stand in the shower; something told her to attend this meeting.

After the meeting she asked me to come out to her car and receive a present from her. I expressed how glad I was to see her, and how much I hoped her condition improved. When we reached the car she took our a white envelope stamped “The Mansion Bahji – Acre, Isreal -” and numbered 9. The envelope has a clear segment so you can see its content. Inside are rose petals from the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh in Acre, Isreal. She told me she has had them for years and carries them with her in times of stress, and felt like she should bring them to the meeting for some reason. They are now sitting on top of my photograph of the Master, and I will treasure them forever.

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I can’t take credit for a single one of these. My fellow Baha’i Bloggers BHP, Baquia, Ryan and a few other people I cannot remember deserve all the credit. Just some of my favorites.

You might be a Baha’i if…

…if you see “Some Assembly Required” written on a box and you think it came from a place that needs homefront pioneering.

..if a movie star offers you a night of passion and your response is “Um … can I investigate your character?”

Q: How many Bahá’ís does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Bahá’ís don’t do that. They teach the light bulb and if it wants to transform, it’ll change itself!

Q: Why do Baha’is like cellars?
A: They are not afraid of abasement.

on a similar note

Q: Why is Baha’u’llah the best interior decorator?
A: He can trun abasement into glory!

Q: Why doesn’t Dracula become a Bahá’í?
A: He can’t stop backbiting!

Q: What is the best fruit to serve at a Baha’i engagement party?
A: Cantalope.

You might be the worst Baha’i if…
…You take marshmallows to firesides.
…You’ve taken warning and built a shelter in order to protect yourself from entry by those dreaded troops.

A Baha’i, shipwrecked on a deserted island with two compatriots, finds a magic lamp and runs to share it with his new friends. The Baha’i, a kindly and simple young man, rubs the old oil lamp. Poof, a genie appears! The Baha’i asks the smiling genie if he can have three wishes.

The genie replies “I’m sorry, but the rules say I can only grant one wish to each of you.”

“OK,” says the first friend, I wish for three full treasure chests in my new castle in Aruba!” and poof!, he is gone.

The second friend, a farmer, wishes to return to his family estate, enlarged three times with the richest, most fertile soil in the world, and poof! He is gone.

The Baha’i thinks for a bit, then says, “I’m not sure… I’m really not motivated by material things, so I’d just like to have my two friends back.”

In heaven a long line of souls is waiting before Saint Peter. As each one comes to him he asks them who the Lord of the Age is. A succession of answers come in reply, and a long line of Buddhist and Hindus and Muslims and Christians and Jews walk away. The Baha’i at the end of the line is thinking “Well, I know this one. I’ll be the only one to get it right!”. When the Baha’i gets to Saint Peter, the Saint says ‘Oh, a Baha’i. Ok, here is your question; how do you spell Huququ’llah?” The long line of Buddhists and Hindus and Muslims, etc now has a Baha’i at the end.

A Bahá’í pioneer was trespassing through the jungle of some tropical country, when suddenly he found himself surrounded by naked men with bones through their noses, waving spears.

They tied him up and threw him in a stew-pot, then started piling firewood underneath. Drums sounded.

In desperation, the pioneer began reciting the “remover of difficulties” prayer. Suddenly the drumming stopped. One cannibal looked at another and said “Hey guys! I think we’ve just found the ninth member of our LSA!”

True Story: The Master owned two donkeys. No other person wanted these two donkeys, but the Master loved them like his own children. The first donkey he named Lightning, and he had been rejected by everyone else because no one could get him to move – except the Master. The second donkey he named Thunder, he had stomach problems.

Q: How did Ábdu’l-Bahá pay for his trip to America?

A: With MasterCard

Q: Why aren’t Bahá’ís allowed to be dry cleaners?

A: Because blessed is the spot.

Remember, laughter is not sac religious, the Blessed Beauty wrote a tablet in which he referred to God as the Humorist. I have only literally laughed out loud a few times on the internet, half of those times came from these jokes.

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