Bahaism -- now discussing this religion

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by WormieSaber, Apr 7, 2010.

  1. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Still seems imperfect to me, since there are some families that are just too broken, abusive or drug-addicted or just willfully-ignorant parents, or they never were a family to begin with and there is no dynamic to corrode because it was never there.

    I'll need to look into this, but apparently there are situations where the relevant Local Spiritual Assembly is empowered to "validate" the marriage. Also, point of clarification on an earlier post: My answer implied that a marriage between a Baha'i and an atheist would not be recognized as valid. It's only cases where parental consent is lacking that the Baha'i Faith does not consider to be valid.

    So it's all very individual, not a universal church stance on how certain inconsistencies between faiths should be reconciled?

    For the most part, yes. Or at least that's my understanding. Although there are cases where individuals or groups are considered to be "Covenant Breakers." The closest analog I can think of is in Catholicism with the concept of excommunication.

    (continued...)

  2. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Yeah, I have a problem with God making some perfect Manifestations, and others as warped reflections.

    But if you're right, and the Manifestations are simply the ones that made it all the way through life without making error (which I find hard to believe for any human anyways, but just going with that) then what exactly did we do wrong? Are we scratched off the list from the first selfish thought we have when we're a kid? Why do evil/sin/imperfection/not-loving-God come about? I'm just not sure I understand that.


    Another head-scratcher, to be sure. One of the things I love about my wife is that we often have what I call "philosophical geek-outs," where we have lengthy conversations about spiritual matters. She recently read the Disappearance of the Universe, a derivative work of A Course in Miracles. She's currently reading ACIM; I've not yet taken the time to read it myself. Now granted, this is not from the Baha'i Writings, but my wife's summary thus far is that in many ways, DotU and ACIM agree with Baha'u'llah's Revelation. What I'm about to do is speculation based on someone else's summary, so take it how you will ;)

    Something discussed in both books is that God had a stray thought, or a thought experiment, if you will. The stray thought was the question "is it possible to be separate from God?" In the the fraction of a moment of that thought, the physical universe was crerated. The answer, of course, is that separation from God is impossible. However, we mortals with our Egos (or sense of Self) that stem from that thought bear a residual guilt/sense of shame for having conceived of such a notion.

    (continued...)
  3. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    It's my theory that if we understood -truly understood- that we're not seperate from God, then our individuality would cease to be, something that our Ego (or sense of Self) cannot abide. So we (collectively) delude ourselves with illusions of imperfections, and thus unworthiness, as a means of Self-preservation. God, in His infinite compassion, allows us to labor under this illusion, because to do otherwise would deprive us of the free will He has granted us. God sends us Manifestations to guide us "back" to Him, but He also allows Manifestations the choice of not fulfilling the tasks with which He has charged Them.

    Although...[face_thinking]

    An idea occurred to me as I was typing this: If a Manifestation actually chooses not to fulfill Their task, it would be out of selfishness. In that case, they would cease to be Manifestations, because the mirror would no longer be flawless. So maybe God did make us all Manifestations, but the vaaaaaaaaast majority of us choose not to be 8-}

    Again, this is all just my conjecture [face_peace]
  4. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Ahh ok, so do local temples (is that what they're called?) have more power or at least leeway than those at the top of the organization for the Baha'i faith? So it's not like the top-down organization of the Catholic Church, except for the most extreme cases? What constitutes a Covenant-Breaker? Also, a random question, do you just call a follower of the Baha'i Faith a "Baha'i", like you call a follower of Christianity a "Christian"?

  5. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Well, the Universal House of Justice (and only the UHJ) is considered to be protected under the mantle of infallibility so long as all nine members come together in prayer; the individuals are not considered infallible. From there are the National Spiritual Assemblies, various regional support, down to the Local Spiritual Assemblies. So it is top-down in that respect, but a lot of communications from National and the UHJ is prefaced by ?in consultation with regional support and Local Spiritual Assemblies, we?ve found that??

    So yeah, it?s top-down, but they do listen to what we have to say :cool:

    ?What constitutes a Covenant-Breaker??

    As I understand it, someone who acts in blatant defiance of the Baha?i Revelation. How that?s determined, I don?t know.

    ?Also, a random question, do you just call a follower of the Baha'i Faith a ?Baha'i?, like you call a follower of Christianity a ?Christian???

    Got it in one! :cool: Although sometimes we refer to each other as ?the Friends.?

    ?Do you believe in predestination??

    From what I recall of the Writings, God has a greater and lesser destiny for each of us. Which is greater and which is lesser is part of the mystery. The lesser destiny hinges on our choices, but regarding the greater destiny, as the Quran says ?Allah is the greatest of plotters,? or a Baha?i prayer that says ?all are His servants and all abide by His bidding.?

    More later?
  6. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Back for a bit [face_coffee]

    On the topic of suffering and death, I'll need to do more research. However, on the topic of God's forgiveness, allow me to quote a passage that shakes me to the core of my being pretty much every time I read it:
    [A true seeker of God] should forgive the sinful, and never despise his low estate, for none knoweth what his own end shall be. How often hath a sinner, at the hour of death, attained to the essence of faith, and, quaffing the immortal draught, hath taken his flight unto the celestial Concourse. And how often hath a devout believer, at the hour of his soul's ascension, been so changed as to fall into the nethermost fire.

    (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 194)

    To use your example, who knows what was going on in Hitler's soul at the moment of death, or how long he had to ponder the course of his life and possibly "quaff the draught." To give you an example of relative time, a minor spoiler for Inception (I highly recommend the movie, BTW) is that the entire climax took place in the time it took for a van to fall off a bridge. So the time it took for a bullet to go through his brain and for the association between his body and soul to come to an end could well have been an eternity for Hitler to repent and seek God's forgiveness.

  7. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
  8. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    This is a cool topic [face_coffee] Although I didn't read all the posts, I am starting to get a bit of better idea about the Baha'i faith. Here's my question though:

    In Islam (and Christianity) we believe in the second coming of Jesus that includes a war against the Anti-Christ, after which will be a total unity of humanity in utter goodness for 40 years until Jesus' death. Personally, I see a major need for a prophet to guide humanity NOW. What does the Baha'i faith say on this subject? Are you also waiting for the coming of Jesus, has he come already, or does he walk among us now??
  9. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Hey aPP [face_coffee] I?ll have to double-check on the Scriptural basis, and how that relates to the Quaranic Revelation, but the Baha?i Faith asserts that Christ did indeed return ?like a thief in the night? as the Bible says in the personage of Baha?u?llah.

    Darth-Ghost, regarding God?s love, it?s both simple and complex :p The Baha?i Writings have this to say on the topic:
    O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.

    Baha?u?llah, the Hidden Words.

    Regarding successive Manifestations, the Writings say
    Whoso layeth claim to a Revelation direct from God, ere the expiration of a full thousand years, such a man is assuredly a lying impostor. We pray God that He may graciously assist him to retract and repudiate such claim. Should he repent, God will, no doubt, forgive him. If, however, he persisteth in his error, God will, assuredly, send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! Whosoever interpreteth this verse otherwise than its obvious meaning is deprived of the Spirit of God and of His mercy which encompasseth all created things.

    Baha?u?llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha?u?llah

    This leads me to your question about essential Scripture. One of Baha?u?llah?s titles was The Most Sacred Pen. He Wrote a lot. A lot. It?s my understanding that some 160 years later, less than ¼ of His Writings have been translated from the original Farsi and/or Arabic. As far as ?essential? Writings, I?d recommend the Hidden Words, a compilation called Gleanings from the Writings of Baha?u?llah, or the Kitab-i-Aqdas (the Most Holy Book), and the Kitab-i-Iqan (the Book of Certitude). There?s also Some Answered Questions by Abdu?l-Baha.

    More to come, and as always, thanks for your questions [face_peace]
  10. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    Well the way I see it, the only way you would be able to sell the idea of Baha'ism to a Muslim who believes that Mohammed (pbuh) was the last in the line of prophets is by introducing the idea of Jesus's return. I'm quite intrigued. Can you post some scriptural evidence of Baha'ullah saying he is Jesus reincarnated?

    And what does he teach about Jesus' part in the holy trinity as opposed to prophethood?

    Lastly, I believe in the Bible it says that Jesus will decent as he ascended, and in Islam I believe it gives the same description. In other words, he will not be "born".

    Here's what I found on this Wikipedia page (which could definitely use a Baha'i point of view as well *hint hint*)

  11. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    I'm not sure that "reincarnated" is the right word, but here's a passage from Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah:

    These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth. Even as He hath revealed: ?No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers.? For they, one and all, summon the people of the earth to acknowledge the unity of God, and herald unto them the Kawthar of an infinite grace and bounty. They are all invested with the robe of prophethood, and are honored with the mantle of glory. Thus hath Mu?ammad, the Point of the Qur?án, revealed: ?I am all the Prophets.? Likewise, He saith: ?I am the first Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus.?
    (snip)
    The other station is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation, and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even as He saith: ?Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath raised and exalted. And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave manifest signs, and We strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit.?

    It is because of this difference in their station and mission that the words and utterances flowing from these Well Springs of Divine knowledge appear to diverge and differ. Otherwise, in the eyes of them that are initiated into the mysteries of Divine wisdom, all their utterances are, in reality, but the expressions of one Truth. As most of the people have failed to appreciate those stations to which We have referred, they, therefore, feel perplexed and dismayed at the varying utterances pronounced by Manifestations that are essentially one and the same.


  12. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    "And what does he teach about Jesus' part in the holy trinity as opposed to prophethood?"

    Rather than hit you with another cut and paste "wall of text," :p here's a direct link to Chapter 27 of Some Answered Questions by Abdu'l-Baha, which in part addresses this very topic: Linky [face_peace]
  13. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    It's been long overdue for me to respond here, every time I start it seems something else comes up.

    Reading that reminded me of a religious/spiritual question I have in general, not particularly directed at the Baha'i faith, but I think I'll share it here anyways. It's hard to articulate, I think this is where I got stuck in my other attempts to finally respond in this thread. :p

    If a person has a good, saintly moral life... not only on the outside, but also on the inside... and they succumb to fear and doubt about God and the afterlife (which is a very natural instinct when about to enter new and unknown territory, whether it's a new location or a crowd of strangers or death itself, it's probably built into our survival instinct)... then is it fair for a person to be condemned because they've basically stumbled at the finish line and happened to run out of time before they can pick themselves back up? Do you know what I mean?

    Or even, a more extreme and less sympathetic example, what if someone was truly a good person for a period of their lives, but then (for whatever reason) becomes very cynical and eventually selfish and remains that way for the rest of their life?

    Is that goodness really lost forever? Is it only the present, or the last moment, that really counts?

    I have an idea, I'm not sure if I believe in it (or if I can clearly explain it), just that I've wondered if it's possible... that maybe our "eternal soul" transcends time. Whenever you have moments of true selflessness and love, those "moments" of our consciousness are able to escape the mortal confines of time and the body, and in doing so become immortal and timeless. I hope I'm explaining this clearly. It's like, only the good parts of you, only the good moments of you, survive death... whether they were only your last moments, or maybe years before, or sadly perhaps it was only your innocent early childhood. All the negative parts, the negative moments, are just left behind to die along with the mortal body, like a butterfly shedding its cocoon. It was once part of you, but now you're free of it, only your best is remembered and lives on, and your sins and guilts are shed and forgotten. Only when you're truly loving, when your thoughts escape your self, is when your soul escapes its fate being tied to its body and becomes immortal.

    Does any of that make sense to you?


    Ok, going back to my questions, here's a list of the ones I still have:


    Suffering/Death:
    Is being an imperfect reflection related to why we suffer and die? Is there any reason why we suffer and die? And will both suffering and death end when we build that "divine civilization," or will th
  14. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    As always, lots of heady stuff to discuss [face_coffee] :cool: I'll have to respond in chunks.

    Regarding the course of a person's physical life in relation to God's grace & forgiveness in the afterlife, I'm reminded of this passage from the Hidden Words:
    As difficult as it is to wrap my mind around applying the concept of "can't" in relation to the Almighty, let me try this metaphor: Consider the sun. The sun's light is powerful enough to warm the whole world, powerful enough to energize every piece of electrical equipment on the planet. But for all that power, the light of the sun can't illuminate a room if the windows and doors are closed.

    Again I'm reminded of a late 80's/early 90's movie called the Rapture. Spoiler Alert: At end of the movie, the Trumpets sound, the Four Horsemen come, the world ends, yada yada yada, and the main character is standing outside the gates of Heaven, while her daughter -whom she killed earlier in the movie- is pleading with her, saying that all she needs to do to get into Heaven is say that she loves God, and let God forgive her. The woman refuses, and as the movie fades to black, she acknowledges that she has effectively condemned herself to an eternity of standing outside the gates of Heaven.
    Mind = blown =D=

  15. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    I still haven't found something definitive in the Writings about suffering and death. But regarding forgiveness and ignorance of sin, I'd say that on a soul level, we always know right from wrong. There are times when we attempt to "rationalize" sinful behavior, but on a soul level, we still know.

    How does a Baha'i love God, and accept God's love? I don't know that a concept such as love can be quantified on a message board forum :p However, some Writings that touch on the topic:
    As far as "meaning of life" for a Baha'i, I'm not sure if I can answer that; it's "above my pay grade." But here are a couple more quotes from Abdu'l-Baha that speak to me:
  16. Violent Violet Menace Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 11, 2004
    star 4
    that every thought, word and deed devoted to the Glory of God and the good of one?s fellows is prayer, in the truest sense of the word.

    When he puts it like that, I'm reminded of the three basic tenets of Good thoughts, Good words and Good deeds of Zoroastrianism.
  17. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    You see, I understand that perfectly, I just don't understand how (in the Baha'i Faith) one loves God and accepts the love of God, or if that's somehow blocked if you commit a sin without knowing/believing it to be a sin.


    I'm glad it made sense to you too! What do you think of it, do you think there's some truth in it?


  18. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Ghost, you may actually be spot-on about the concept that the good parts of you are what transcends death:
  19. aPPmaSTer Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Dec 23, 2004
    star 3
    I'm just gonna pop into this discussion real quick with my own theory...

    I believe that both good and bad deeds transcend time, and we will be held accountable for both, however our STATE upon death greatly influences the significance of our deeds. For example, being a bad person all your life and then just before death you "see the light" and beg God for forgiveness with every fiber of your being, I believe that God will multiply your good deeds and minimize your bad ones, while in retrospect if you're a good person all your life and at the end forsake God while being of sound mind and judgement, your good deeds will not be multiplied nor reduced, and neither will your bad, because God is Compassionate and Merciful, however you will find that your bad deeds outweigh your good deeds because this is the nature of man, and your sentence will be Hell, and since you had forsaken God, you will not find Him as your helping hand out of your predicament.

    That's why we're always reminded to treat this world like we are going to live in it forever, but treat the afterlife as if we are going to die before the day is out.

    Disclaimer - my little theory is based on my own mixture of my interpretations of Qur'anic ayas, Hadiths, and some aPP-logic, it's not necessarily the view held by other Muslims, nor does it in any way mean that this is the Truth. Only God knows best and we mere mortals can only speculate about His wisdom, justice, fairness, and compassion.
  20. DarthDogbert Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 2, 2004
    star 2
  21. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Uniqueness is definitely NOT a bad thing in the Baha'i Faith. May of the prayers refer to us reconciling -not abolishing- our differences. Similarly, a lot of the Writings, especially those by Abdu'l-Baha, compare humanity to a floral arrangement. That is to say that our differences provide contrasts which enhance the beauty of the whole. Unity is considered a worthy goal, while uniformity would be rather...bland.

    Selfishness, that to say, exhaltation of the self above others (let alone above God) is frowned upon, though.
  22. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Ok, that's what I thought, good to know.
  23. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Thanks for upping this thread [face_coffee]
    In a word, yes. There are numerous references to this in the Writings. To illustrate, I'll share a couple of things. First off, Baha'is are called upon to recite an obligatory prayer once every day; there's a long version, a short version, and a middle-sized version. Here is the Short Obligatory Prayer:
    There's also this from Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah: (emphasis mine)
  24. Obi-Zahn Kenobi Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 1999
    star 7
    This prayer is excellent and can be used by any Christian. It correctly identifies who God is and his relation to us. Obviously, I have major disagreements with the Baha'i faith, but I can't knock saying this prayer everyday.

    This is the first item of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For your consideration.
  25. Jedi Merkurian Episode VII Thread-Reaper and Rumor Naysayer

    Manager
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2000
    star 6
    Outstanding! I can agree with this catechism as well [face_coffee]

    Such as?