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Old 03-14-2015, 12:16 AM   #1
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A hammer?

In a discussion on a different forum found here, someone remarks that:
Quote:
"All religions are One" is the hammer for the Baha'is which they use to hammer differing religions into a Baha'i shape.
This statement is followed by a series of “well said” posts from others who apparently agree that the Bahá'í teaching is merely intended to cannibalize other religions into Bahá'í. What is the response to this?

There also exists more thoughtful discussion on this topic. For example, this Bahá'í Faith and Buddhism Dialogue addresses certain perceived misconceptions in "Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith" (a book that the poster “tiltbillings” criticizes elsewhere in his statement referenced above on the other forum). Yet the underlying message from tiltbillings and Bruce Burrill is similar: that Bahá'í misrepresents other religions for the purpose of inventing underlying unity where in fact no such unity exists. (It appears Burrill’s discussions on the topic later became more contentious.)

What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?
 
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Old 03-14-2015, 02:37 AM   #2
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Good morning moonshadow

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
...(It appears Burrill’s discussions on the topic later became more contentious.)

What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?
First, I notice that the last link goes to fglaysher.com. Glaysher is known to the Baha'is.

Yesterday the sun rose from a point in the east, and traversed the sky till it became night. We called this day Friday.

The sun rose again this morning from a point in the east, but a point or two further to the north or the south, depending on which hemisphere one lives in. It traversed the day and became night. We called this day Saturday.

Tomorrow, the sun will again rise from a point in the east, but it will be a point or two further to the north or the south, depending on which hemisphere one lives in. It will traverse the day and become night. We will call this day Sunday.

If we are to examine the sun by considering only its rising points, we will find differences.

If we are to consider the sun only by the name we call the day, we will find differences.

If we are to consider the sun by itself, we will see that it is the same sun. Its essence remains the same. Its light is the same. Its warmth is the same. What changes are its characteristics.

The sun itself is the essential. Its characteristics are the non-essential.

If we remain tied to its rising points, we will deny the oneness of that sun when it rises from another point.

If we remain tied to its naming, again we will deny the oneness of the sun when it arises under another name.

The denial of the sun stems from an adherance to the non-essentials. Because of this adherance to the non-essentials, the followers of the rising points and the followers of the names fail to perceive that it is the same sun which has arisen on each of these three days. For why should it, in their eyes, be the same sun? It has risen from a different point and carries a different name.

But when one see the essentials and recognised the relationship of the non-essentials to the essentials, then is truth found, and then is unity of understanding and knowledge achieved.

As with the material sun, the Sun of Religion arises at dawn from a point in the East, and traverses the Day till it becomes night - the night of unbelief and loss of spirituality. Then, with the new dawn, the Sun again arises from the East, but from a different point and with a different Name. Those who remain tied to the rising point of the previous Rising deny the rising of the Sun from its new Rising Point, and likewise with those who remain tied to the Name carried by the Sun at its previous Rising.

With most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 03-14-2015 at 02:39 AM.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 06:05 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?
Above all, I'm amused.

gnat
 
Old 03-14-2015, 10:11 AM   #4
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Ah.

Looks like those on the linked thread are only aware of Unity by Conformity. Not understanding Unity in Diversity, they think Unity is destructive to Diversity.

Which is understandable. A lot of people (even some Baha'is I've seen) who espouse Unity promote Unity by Conformity. People who promote Unity in Diversity are (unfortunately) much less common then those who promote Unity by Conformity. So a prevailing view of Unity being destructive to Diversity is understandable, if untrue.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 10:19 AM   #5
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Quote:
What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?
Dear Moonshadow, for me it all comes down to one simple point.

If you believe in a Messenger of God (in this case Baha'u'llah) then you believe and follow His teachings.

If you look at history, every Messenger of God has had their deniers.
So you either believe or you deny.
Coming from a Christian background myself, I have only had my faith confirmed day by day since. To me it is far more logical that God, if He is our creator who we are to look upon as our spiritual Father, would instruct His children all over the world, on how to live and what is important in life, this the Baha'i faith does.
Others who refuse to accept people of different faiths, do they bring peace to the world? No sadly they bring mostly hatred and killing, the news each day is full of it.
I consider a person should be able to see what is true, by their own reasoning, something Baha'u'llah teaches us, not to be influenced by others.

Loving regards to you
bill
 
Old 03-14-2015, 10:45 AM   #6
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Words of Abdu'l-Baha

"The prophets of God have been divine shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace. All these holy, divine Manifestations are one. They have served one God, promulgated the same truth, founded the same institutions and reflected the same light. Their appearances have been successive and correlated; each one has announced and extolled the one who was to follow and all laid the foundation of reality. They summoned and invited the people to love and made the human world a mirror of the Word of God."

"Therefore the divine religions they established have one foundation; their teachings, proofs and evidences are one; in name and form they differ, but in reality they agree and are the same. These holy Manifestations have been as the coming of springtime in the world. Although the springtime of this year is designated by another name according to the changing calendar, yet as regards its life and quickening it is the same as the springtime of last year. For each spring is the time of a new creation, the effects, bestowals, perfections and life-giving forces of which are the same as those of the former vernal seasons although the names are many and various. This is 1912, last year’s was 1911 and so on, but in fundamental reality no difference is apparent. The sun is one but the dawning-points of the sun are numerous and changing. The ocean is one body of water but different parts of it have particular designation, Atlantic, Pacific, Mediterranean, Antarctic, etc. If we consider the names, there is differentiation, but the water, the ocean itself is one reality."

"Likewise the divine religions of the holy Manifestations of God are in reality one though in name and nomenclature they differ. Man must be a lover of the light no matter from what day-spring it may appear. He must be a lover of the rose no matter in what soil it may be growing. He must be a seeker of the truth no matter from what source it come. Attachment to the lantern is not loving the light. Attachment to the earth is not befitting but enjoyment of the rose which develops from the soil is worthy. Devotion to the tree is profitless but partaking of the fruit is beneficial. Luscious fruits no matter upon what tree they grow or where they may be found must be enjoyed. The word of truth no matter which tongue utters it must be sanctioned. Absolute verities no matter in what book they be recorded must be accepted."

"If we harbor prejudice it will be the cause of deprivation and ignorance. The strife between religions, nations and races arises from misunderstanding. If we investigate the religions to discover the principles underlying their foundations we will find they agree, for the fundamental reality of them is one and not multiple."

"By this means the religionists of the world will reach their point of unity and reconciliation. They will ascertain the truth that the purpose of religion is the acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, betterment of morals, spiritual development of mankind, the real life and divine bestowals. All the prophets have been the promoters of these principles; none of them has been the promoter of
corruption, vice or evil. They have summoned mankind to all good. They have united people in the love of God, invited them to the religions of the unity of mankind and exhorted them to amity and agreement." -Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, pp 14-15
 
Old 03-14-2015, 11:31 AM   #7
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Viewed from the same moonshadow

that Bahá'í misrepresents other religions for the purpose of inventing underlying unity where in fact no such unity exists. (It appears Burrill’s discussions on the topic later became more contentious.)

What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?[/QUOTE]


This all sounds very much like a flat earth society. Until one lands on the moon, turns around, looks at the earth, seeing all the oceans as one, the atmosphere as one, a single sun shining upon all mankind, which is of course one, some people may deny this essential oneness.

You can tap many wells into the ground, use many windmills, but the source of all that water is one reservoir. Maybe one can be accused of drilling with a hammer, but however you sink that well, its the same water bubbling up.

And if people have tainted the water, bottled it in this glass or that container, if its got real water in it, it comes from the same source.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 12:27 PM   #8
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The hammer, the word, is as far from heaven as it is the stone.
Nobody would bring them together. Like noone would find out of etymology,
what men discuss is the hammer. so hammer
 
Old 03-14-2015, 12:34 PM   #9
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I appreciate the insightful and, at times, poetic responses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
The sun itself is the essential. Its characteristics are the non-essential.
This thought evokes a lot. If characteristics are non-essential, then can words ever describe this sun?
Is this sun found within or beyond? Or is the distinction meaningless?
In Baha'i, how do we come to truly know this sun?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh View Post
"The prophets of God ... have served one God, promulgated the same truth, founded the same institutions and reflected the same light. Their appearances have been successive and correlated; each one has announced and extolled the one who was to follow and all laid the foundation of reality. They summoned and invited the people to love and made the human world a mirror of the Word of God."
I think the Theravada Buddhists on the other forum would argue that God has no place within their understanding, and that therefore the Buddha cannot fit within this description of the prophets, and on that basis they would deny any underlying unity, even Unity in Diversity.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 03:28 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
I think the Theravada Buddhists on the other forum would argue that God has no place within their understanding, and that therefore the Buddha cannot fit within this description of the prophets, and on that basis they would deny any underlying unity, even Unity in Diversity.
My knowledge of Buddhism is very limited, but the fact remains that it is ancient and has over time split into many divisions with many interpretations -- all part of the natural evolution of religion. That the Bab and Baha'u'llah wrote in Their own hands is unique in religious history, and the Baha'i Covenant is unprecedented; it will prevent future divisions and discord.

Abdu'l-Baha explains what has happened to religions in the past:


"If a man would succeed in his search after truth, he must, in the first place, shut his eyes to all the traditional superstitions of the past."

"The Jews have traditional superstitions, the Buddhists and the Zoroastrians are not free from them, neither are the Christians! All religions have gradually become bound by tradition and dogma."

"All consider themselves, respectively, the only guardians of the truth, and that every other religion is composed of errors. They themselves are right, all others are wrong! The Jews believe that they are the only possessors of the truth and condemn all other religions. The Christians affirm that their religion is the only true one, that all others are false. Likewise the Buddhists and Muḥammadans; all limit themselves. If all condemn one another, where shall we search for truth? All contradicting one another, all cannot be true. If each believe his particular religion to be the only true one, he blinds his eyes to the truth in the others. If, for instance, a Jew is bound by the external practice of the religion of Israel, he does not permit himself to perceive that truth can exist in any other religion; it must be all contained in his own!"

"We should, therefore, detach ourselves from the external forms and practices of religion. We must realize that these forms and practices, however beautiful, are but garments clothing the warm heart and the living limbs of Divine truth. We must abandon the prejudices of tradition if we would succeed in finding the truth at the core of all religions. If a Zoroastrian believes that the Sun is God, how can he be united to other religions? While idolaters believe in their various idols, how can they understand the oneness of God?"

"It is, therefore, clear that in order to make any progress in the search after truth we must relinquish superstition. If all seekers would follow this principle they would obtain a clear vision of the truth."

"If five people meet together to seek for truth, they must begin by cutting themselves free from all their own special conditions and renouncing all preconceived ideas. In order to find truth we must give up our prejudices, our own small trivial notions; an open receptive mind is essential. If our chalice is full of self, there is no room in it for the water of life. The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one."

"Therefore it is imperative that we should renounce our own particular prejudices and superstitions if we earnestly desire to seek the truth. Unless we make a distinction in our minds between dogma, superstition and prejudice on the one hand, and truth on the other, we cannot succeed. When we are in earnest in our search for anything we look for it everywhere. This principle we must carry out in our search for truth."

"Science must be accepted. No one truth can contradict another truth. Light is good in whatsoever lamp it is burning! A rose is beautiful in whatsoever garden it may bloom! A star has the same radiance if it shines from the East or from the West. Be free from prejudice, so will you love the Sun of Truth from whatsoever point in the horizon it may arise! You will realize that if the Divine light of truth shone in Jesus Christ it also shone in Moses and in Buddha. The earnest seeker will arrive at this truth. This is what is meant by the ‘Search after Truth’."

"It means, also, that we must be willing to clear away all that we have previously learned, all that would clog our steps on the way to truth; we must not shrink if necessary from beginning our education all over again. We must not allow our love for any one religion or any one personality to so blind our eyes that we become fettered by superstition! When we are freed from all these bonds, seeking with liberated minds, then shall we be able to arrive at our goal.
‘Seek the truth, the truth shall make you free.’ So shall we see the truth in all religions, for truth is in all and truth is one!" -Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp, 135-137

"...I am not the first Buddha Who came upon this earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise in the world, a Holy One, a supremely enlightened One, endowed with wisdom in conduct, auspicious knowing the universe, an incomparable leader of men, a Master of angels and mortals. He will reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach to you His religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal, in spirit and in the letter. He will proclaim a religious life, wholly perfect and pure, such as I now proclaim. His disciples will number many thousands, while Mine number many hundreds." -Gospel of Buddha, by Carus, pp 217-218
 
Old 03-14-2015, 06:56 PM   #11
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Good morning Moonshadow

You demonstrate the excellent characteristic of insightful thought. Or is that thoughtful insight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
This thought evokes a lot. If characteristics are non-essential, then can words ever describe this sun?
Is this sun found within or beyond? Or is the distinction meaningless?
In Baha'i, how do we come to truly know this sun?
To answer these questions fully and thoroughly will require a volume with chapters and sections. The implications of the concept of God, of the soul, of enlightenment, of Ultimate Unity, of peaceful co-existence, of understanding of diversity, of the purpose of this life, of the value of the non-essential parts of Religion (i.e. those parts that change from Rising of the Sun to Rising of the Sun, the essential identicalness of the essential (i.e. the spiritual teachings) of the Sun... the list is long, dear friend. The best one can do in a space such as allowed here is but to implicate, and leave the connecting of the dots to yourself, to ongoing discussion and to your own reading of the Texts.

This may be some heavy going, but take your time. Focus on the quotes rather than my words - what I say is merely my perception and thus non-authoratative; what the quotes say is regarded by Baha'is as Sacred Text and thus authoratative. I do recommend obtaining a copy of Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah for perusal, whether in dead-tree copy or electronic (available from Miscellanie : Baha'i Sacred and Other Text). And the only reason that it may appear heavy going is because we are brought up to think in complex terms, while the Truth is ever simple. Draw mental pictures - thay will quite obviously not be accurate, and they will undergo continual revision over time, but they act as a means of comprehending a whole within the limits of being human, and of seeing the relationships.

Quote:
Truth can in no wise be confounded with aught else except itself; would that ye might ponder His proof. Nor can error be confused with Truth, if ye do but reflect upon the testimony of God, the True One.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 134)
Moonshadow: "...can words ever describe this sun?"

No. And yes. Think in terms of the contained and the container. That which is contained can never truly grasp the reality of the container. Or put another way, that observed cannot observe itself. Yet, we can know the attributes and qualities of the container. Is it curved? Is it straight? Is it hard? Is it soft? Is it at a distance or is it close?

Quote:
By Thy life, O Thou the Possessor of all names! The minds of the profoundest thinkers are sore perplexed as they contemplate the ocean of Thy knowledge, and the heaven of Thy wisdom, and the Luminary of Thy grace. How can he who is but a creation of Thy will claim to know what is with Thee, or to conceive Thy nature?

Praise, immeasurable praise be to Thee! I swear by Thy glory! My inner and outer tongue, openly and secretly, testify that Thou hast been exalted above the reach and ken of Thy creatures, above the utterance of Thy servants, above the testimonies of Thy dear ones and Thy chosen ones, and the apprehension of Thy Prophets and of Thy Messengers.
(Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah (Wilmette: US Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1987 edition), p. 55.)
Yet we find Baha'u'llah likewise stating:

Quote:
Far, far from Thy glory be what mortal man can affirm of Thee, or attribute unto Thee, or the praise with which he can glorify Thee! Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling to the utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them, that they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 4-5)
and

Quote:
Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him -- a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.... Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 65)
Moonshadow: "Is this sun found within or beyond? Or is the distinction meaningless?"

Again, the answers are yes and no. It depends on the perspective from which one is looking. If we use the example of a mirror - When we face the mirror toward the sun, the sun is seen both in the sky (beyond) and in the mirror (within). So, in speech, we can rightfully state that the sun is both in the sky and in the mirror and be correct in both statements. The difference is merely that one is the source, the other a reflection. And this example provides the definition of what is colloquially called "enlightenment". A few statements from the Bab will provide clarification:

Quote:
For instance, were ye to place unnumbered mirrors before the sun, they would all reflect the sun and produce impressions thereof, whereas the sun is in itself wholly independent of the existence of the mirrors and of the suns which they reproduce. Such are the bounds of the contingent beings in their relation to the manifestation of the Eternal Being.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 92)
Quote:
THE One true God may be compared unto the sun and the believer unto a mirror. No sooner is the mirror placed before the sun than it reflects its light. The unbeliever may be likened unto a stone. No matter how long it is exposed to the sunshine, it cannot reflect the sun. Thus the former layeth down his life as a sacrifice, while the latter doeth against God what he committeth. Indeed, if God willeth, He is potent to turn the stone into a mirror, but the person himself remaineth reconciled to his state. Had he wished to become a crystal, God would have made him to assume crystal form.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 103)
The question arises - is the believer reflecting the light of God directly, or indirectly? The answer is indirectly. The Manfestation of God reflects the Light of God, and the individuals then reflect the light of the Manifestation.

Quote:
Indeed that august Being resembleth the physical sun, His verses are like its rays, and all believers, should they truly believe in Him, are as mirrors wherein the sun is reflected.
(Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 92)
"that august Being" is, in this reference, Baha'u'llah specifically, and the Manifestations of God generically.

Moonshadow: "In Baha'i, how do we come to truly know this sun?"

The answer to this is contained in the above quotes. But let us consider which sun we are seeking to know.

We refer to the Sun with a capital letter to reference God (or Allah, or Jehovah or whatever Name you choose to refer to Him by, for He is the Possessor of all Names and all His Names are most beauteous, as is stated in the Qur'an) and sun with a lower case to represent our own soul.

The Sun does not revolve around the sun. Rather, the sun revolves around the Sun. So, in relation to the Sun, the sun is the earth. But in relation to our own existence, our material existence revolves around the sun.

It has already been established that we can never know the Sun. That which is Infinite will always be beyond our comprehension. God, in His Love and His Mercy, thus "sends" His Manifestations (Prophets), Who are perfect reflections of His Light, Knowledge, Wisdom and so on. These thus, for all practical purposes, become the Sun to our earth/sun

Quote:
In all the Divine Books the promise of the Divine Presence hath been explicitly recorded. By this Presence is meant the Presence of Him Who is the Dayspring of the signs, and the Dawning-Place of the clear tokens, and the Manifestation of the Excellent Names, and the Source of the attributes, of the true God, exalted be His glory. God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. By Presence, therefore, is meant the Presence of the One Who is His Vicegerent amongst men.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, page 118)
And yet, the Path to that knowledge is open, for we can get to know the sun - this repeats what is in one of the quotes above:

Quote:
... Nay, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that most great Light. Methinks, but for the potency of that revelation, no being could ever exist. How resplendent the luminaries of knowledge that shine in an atom, and how vast the oceans of wisdom that surge within a drop! To a supreme degree is this true of man, who, among all created things, hath been invested with the robe of such gifts, and hath been singled out for the glory of such distinction. For in him are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God to a degree that no other created being hath excelled or surpassed. All these names and attributes are applicable to him. Even as He hath said: "Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery." Manifold are the verses that have been repeatedly revealed in all the heavenly Books and the holy Scriptures, expressive of this most subtle and lofty theme. Even as He hath revealed: "We will surely show them Our signs in the world and within themselves."[1] Again He saith: "And also in your own selves: will ye not then behold the signs of God?"[2] And yet again He revealeth: "And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves."[3] In this connection, He Who is the eternal King -- may the souls of all that dwell within the mystic Tabernacle be a sacrifice unto Him -- hath spoken: "He hath known God who hath known himself."
[1 Qur'án 41:53.]
[2 Qur'án 51:21.]
[3 Qur'án 59:19.]
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 100)
"He hath known God who hath known himself". A most interesting "comment". One that, with contemplation, will anwer one of the reasons for our existence - to reflect the Attributes of God.

This is where I will draw a halt. So much more could be said. What appears lengthy in words, however, is, upon careful reflection, simple and easy of understanding; and even then this is but the briefest of overviews - there are numerous quotes which could still be placed before you - you will find them as you peruse the Texts. But I will sound a note - knowledge for the sake of knowledge is of no use - it is empty and will sound hollow as an empty drum when beaten with a stick. Knowledge, combined with understanding and practical application brings such matters into the realm of truth and fact and brings wisdom and experience. Then through this, our lives become a living example of that which we espouse, and the means of spiritual advancement in the ever-ongoing gaining of knowledge of our self, and thus God.

With most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 03-14-2015 at 07:08 PM.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 09:04 PM   #12
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Romane, I enjoyed reading your post with your own thoughts interwoven with the Writings. To those who might wonder what we will do to occupy ourselves with an infinite amount of 'time', the infinite depths of Baha'u'llah's Revelation will forever provide a point ahead.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 09:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
In a discussion on a different forum found here, someone remarks that: This statement is followed by a series of “well said” posts from others who apparently agree that the Bahá'í teaching is merely intended to cannibalize other religions into Bahá'í. What is the response to this?

There also exists more thoughtful discussion on this topic. For example, this Bahá'í Faith and Buddhism Dialogue addresses certain perceived misconceptions in "Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith" (a book that the poster “tiltbillings” criticizes elsewhere in his statement referenced above on the other forum). Yet the underlying message from tiltbillings and Bruce Burrill is similar: that Bahá'í misrepresents other religions for the purpose of inventing underlying unity where in fact no such unity exists. (It appears Burrill’s discussions on the topic later became more contentious.)

What is the response to this notion that by teaching the underlying unity of religion, Bahá'í is merely hammering other religions into a Bahá'í shape?
All I could say is God is the best of Hammers.

May mankind stop trying to avoid the blows!

God bless and regards Tony
 
Old 03-14-2015, 10:09 PM   #14
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I am grateful for the thoughtful and generous comments explaining the Baha’i perspective. Without discouraging your beautiful words, I would like to gently point out that these comments underscore the reason that our friends on the Theravada Buddhist forum might insist that there is no underlying unity, even unity in diversity, with their fundamentally atheist religion.

I believe their argument might include the following:
  • There is no small s “sun” or soul within the teachings of the Buddha. Rather, the concept of an eternal “soul” or self has no place in the Buddha’s teachings. Instead, Buddhism teaches that there is this bundle of aggregates, and there is cause and effect, so that actions have fruits. But the concept of “soul” or self is rooted in a fundamental sort of delusion, they would say.

  • There is no big s “Sun” or God within the teachings of the Buddha. Rather, the concept of a creator god who provides “salvation” as understood in Christianity would be inconsistent with the Buddhist teaching of kamma, the law of cause and effect. Moreover, the concept of a personal, eternal god is inconsistent with the teaching of the anatta (not-self) nature of reality, they would say.

  • Because of these fundamental differences, and because of Theravada Buddhism’s atheist orientation, the Baha’i attempt to conceive the Buddha as a “prophet of God” who “made the human world a mirror of the Word of God” has no validity, they would say. And the Baha’i attempt to fit Theravada Buddhism into a theistic framework represents, at best, a failure to appreciate and understand Theravada Buddhism and, at worst, an attempt to subvert and defeat that which Theravada Buddhism teaches in order to bring it into conformity with Baha’i.
Somehow I think it is not as simple as that. Even within the overtly atheist framework through which Theravada Buddhism often presents itself to the world, there seems to exist underlying concepts that resonate with the core elements of Christianity and (I suspect) other faiths. My own perspective is that it is extremely unfortunate to see our friends at the Theravada forum try so hard to build up the boundaries and distinctions, and to portray other non-Theravada faiths as inferior (e.g., as “superficial,” as the site administrator on the Theravada forum put it in the same discussion referenced in the OP).

Throughout the discussion referenced in the OP, and throughout discussions on other sites of religionists across the Internet, one sees these repeated efforts to disparage other faiths, to insist upon clear boundaries between faiths, and to ostracize those who articulate a view more sympathetic of the underlying unity that undoubtedly exists among all of these fundamentally beautiful religions.

I would so appreciate a thoughtful Baha’i response, respecting and recognizing the Theravada perspective, that credibly identifies where this fundamental unity exists.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 11:02 PM   #15
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Hmmmm. Theravada are a bit outside of my knowledge, in my past research Mahayana has interested me more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
There is no small s “sun” or soul within the teachings of the Buddha. Rather, the concept of an eternal “soul” or self has no place in the Buddha’s teachings. Instead, Buddhism teaches that there is this bundle of aggregates, and there is cause and effect, so that actions have fruits. the concept of “soul” or self is rooted in a fundamental sort of delusion, they would say.
-Do Theravada recognize Saṃsāra?? Or is it just the other Buddhist sects that do?? If so, one could pose similarities between a concept if an eternal existence of sorts, albeit a different type.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
There is no big s “Sun” or God within the teachings of the Buddha. Rather, the concept of a creator god who provides “salvation” as understood in Christianity would be inconsistent with the Buddhist teaching of kamma, the law of cause and effect. Moreover, the concept of a personal, eternal god is inconsistent with the teaching of the anatta (not-self) nature of reality, they would say.
-We don't have the sort of "salvation" as Christianity does.

-I'm not sure the idea of a creator god is inconsistent with Buddhism. A number of quotes I've seen attributed to Gautama Buddha seem to indicate he thought the question of how the world came into existence was inconsequential. Tibetan Buddhists, if I remember correctly, believe in creator gods.

-There are similarities between Theravada anatta and Baha'i detachment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
Because of these fundamental differences, and because of Theravada Buddhism’s atheist orientation, the Baha’i attempt to conceive the Buddha as a “prophet of God” who “made the human world a mirror of the Word of God” has no validity, they would say. And the Baha’i attempt to fit Theravada Buddhism into a theistic framework represents, at best, a failure to appreciate and understand Theravada Buddhism and, at worst, an attempt to subvert and defeat that which Theravada Buddhism teaches in order to bring it into conformity with Baha’i.
Well... Buddhism has a lot of sects. The Theravada are non-theistic, but others, say, the Tibetans have gods and even creators. These other Buddhists have different interpretations of Gautama Buddha. The Tibetans obviously don't think Gautama Buddha's teachings and beliefs was incompatible with their gods. Whereas the Theravada think gods incompatible with his beliefs.

Do the Theravada accuse the Tibetans of trying to work or subvert Buddha's teachings into a theistic framework?? Do the Theravada consider their beliefs incompatible with the Tibetan Buddhists?? Do they think any sort of "unity" between the Buddhist sects is impossible??

There are a lot of variations within Buddhism itself over who Gautama Buddha was and what he believed. We Baha'is don't necessarily agree with the Theravada's views on this, but with the large amounts of sects, we can't possibly agree with every single Buddhist sect on this issue. But that doesn't mean we all aren't united in the search for truth and enlightenment.

Our conception of Buddha lines up more with the Mahayana school. The concept of Dharmakāya is similar to some of our Faith's descriptions of Prophethood (I can go more into detail on this if you'd like, but for now I must sleep). Ultimately, we agree with the Mahayana on this matter more than the Theravada. But, again, I don't see this as an attempt to "subvert" any more than the Theravada's views are an attempt to "subvert" Mahayana Buddhism.

Last edited by Walrus; 03-14-2015 at 11:09 PM.
 
Old 03-14-2015, 11:21 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
Do Theravada recognize Saṃsāra?? Or is it just the other Buddhist sects that do?? If so, one could pose similarities between a concept if an eternal existence of sorts, albeit a different type.
Yes, Theravada recognizes samsara. But I do not believe it is viewed as an eternal existence.
Quote:
There are similarities between Theravada anatta and Baha'i detachment.
I would welcome an elaboration.
Quote:
Do the Theravada accuse the Tibetans of trying to work or subvert Buddha's teachings into a theistic framework?? Do the Theravada consider their beliefs incompatible with the Tibetan Buddhists?? Do they think any sort of "unity" between the Buddhist sects is impossible??
I suspect that many do, but it is not my place to say.

I imagine that the underlying unity among these faiths has more to do with how they help followers understand reality than how best to overlay that reality with concepts, labels, and interpretations.
 
Old 03-15-2015, 01:14 AM   #17
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There is O monks an Unborn, Uncreated...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
Yes, Theravada recognizes samsara. But I do not believe it is viewed as an eternal existence.I would welcome an elaboration.I suspect that many do, but it is not my place to say.

I imagine that the underlying unity among these faiths has more to do with how they help followers understand reality than how best to overlay that reality with concepts, labels, and interpretations.
Dear Moonshadow,
. Two distinct and profound things are to be considered. The first is the Words of the Blessed Buddha Himself, addressing His disciples:

""There is, O monks,
an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed.
Were there not, O monks,
this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed,
there would be no escape from the world
of the born, originated, created, formed.
"Since, O monks, there is an
unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,
therefore there is an escape
from the born, originated, created, formed."

The Gospel of Buddha
Sermon at the bamboo grove at Rajagaha

. Parallel to this teaching lies in Christianity: "No man cometh to the Father but by Me." and Jesus also says: "Before Abraham was, I am."

. Therefore speaking (not My words, but Him that sent Me), the way to escape the carnal world is through this same Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, and Unformed..."Eternal One" Whom even some Buddhists accept to be the ultimate God spoken of in the Monotheistic religions.

. "that which is flesh is flesh, that which is spirit is spirit" and this Spirit is before Abraham, and therefore before Jesus, and before Buddha, etc.


. Now the other point is most profound in its ultimate symbolism, according to a full comprehension and understanding of what exactly the Lord Buddha was referring to when He said that He meditated and fasted beneath the Bodhi Tree, finally gaining supreme enlightenment.

. The Bodhi Tree symbolizes the Sadrat ul Muntaha, which is Arabic for "The Tree behond which there is no passing." Baha'u'llah describes Himself as the Voice which spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush. He also proclaims Himslef to be the "Sender of the Messengers'

. As He Himself is the Sadrat ul Muntaha, He is Himself this Bodhi Tree, or that which it symbolized, a Tree beyond which there is no passing, beneath which the Prophets and Messengers end their earthly life in utter submission to His will, thus receiving their transcendental state of enlightenment.

. The Lakota Sioux, (think Dances with Woves) in an area where I grew up, expressed this concept as the "Cottonwood Tree", which is their Bodhi Tree, symbolizing the Tree beyond which there is no passing - The Sadrat ul Mundaha.

. In Judaism, Moses approached the Burning Bush, whose fire burnt away the veil of superstion and illumined the heart with the teachings of God. Baha'u'llah proclaims Himself to be the Voice which cried out from the midst of the Burning Bush, which is the Bodhi Tree, the Sadrat ul Muntaha, the sacred Cottonwood, the Mighty Sequoia.

. Alas, these Blessed Trees are the ultimate Truth for humanity, beyond which no more can be known, for they are the One Tree which gives forth spritual fruits, eternal truths, thus nourishing those who partake if true inner meaning enshrined within the heart of all religion.

. One may deny, deny, deny these fundamental verities, for all, however have been given the capacity to recognize this Ultimate, Unborh, Uncreated One, upon whose salvation from this world the Blessed One offered deliverace from suffering and death. Yet, "Many are called, and few are chosen." in every age, for "eyes they have, yet see not. and ears they have, but hear not."

. Thus they cling to interpretations of mere mortals, advance their claims, and perpetuate their names, hoping thereby to defeat the very foundation of Reality, drowing in the sea of Samsara, which again is Noah's flood, and Red sea of sacrifice parted to separate believers from non-believers, the oppressed from the oppressors.

. Thus, in every age: "I am not the frirst Buddha to come into the world. Nor shall I be the last. In time, a Supremely Enlightened One will come, renewing the same teachings I have brought. He is the Buddha of Universal Brotherhood."

. Welcome home, my brother. Welcome home...
. You have crossed the great ocean, my friend

Allah'u'Abha

. PS From the Holy Lord Krsna: ""Whenever there is decay of righteousness... and there is exaltation of unrighteousness,
then I Myself come forth... for the destruction of evil-doers, for the sake of firmly establishing
righteousness, I am born from age to age." --- KRISHNA- Bhagavad Gita- fourth discourse

. Important link regarding Lord Krsna?

http://bci.org/prophecy-fulfilled/hindusa.htm

Last edited by dale ramsdell; 03-15-2015 at 01:23 AM. Reason: Lord Krsha
 
Old 03-15-2015, 02:14 AM   #18
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Good morning Moonshadow

In Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, we see Baha'u'llah stating:

Quote:
Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and goodwill. If it be accepted, if it fulfill its purpose, your object is attained. If anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 15)
Whatever "their" "argument" may be, no Baha'i will attempt to convince them whether they are right or they are wrong - this is what the advice from Baha'u'llah given above boils down to. This is not the purpose of the exercise. To attempt to demonstrate them as being "wrong" immediately places the Baha'is in the same position you describe so well as "try so hard to build up the boundaries and distinctions, and to portray other non-Theravada faiths as inferior". This likewise applies to other Faiths, not just those you mention, while on the subject. The risk quickly becomes one like a puppy endlessly chasimg its tail. And in the end, who do you believe?

Is it important what "they" believe? Or is it important what you believe? On a personal note, it is the latter I am interested in - the other can continue to drift upon its own stream to its own destination as defined by the theology built up over the centuries by its followers. Each is responsible solely for their own beliefs, and if followers of other earlier Revelations wish to make the claim that the Revelation identified with Baha'u'llah attempts to "hammer" as you so elegantly put it in your opening post, they are free to do so. And if others wish to follow along with their perceptions, they they too are free to do so. Whatever is not supportive of unity, whatever suports barriers and division against our fellow human-kind I have no interest in either condemning or contradicting - that wastes my time, time that can be devoted to unity and peaceful co-operation.

Yes, it is easy for the followers of the Baha'i Faith to behave in a similar manner, and sadly there are some members of this community who do behave like that. We are every one of us at different degrees of maturity. But the Faith, whether that of the Buddhists, or the Christians or any of the others, is not the behaviour or beliefs of its followers which have accrued to it over the centuries - it is the Sacred Text on which the Faith is based. Thus, I have no interest in attempting to reconcile the beliefs of the Theravada Buddhist who for now take your interest, and leave that between yourself and God, and any in this forum who feel equiped to attempt your request.

As my focus thus clearly remains with the Revelation of Baha'u'llah rather than the accretion of beliefs which have permeated those earlier Revelations, my responses will likewise be from these same sources.

Shoghi Effendi, in a work which is a compilation of his letters to the United States, entitled The World Order of Baha'u'llah, makes some very interesting statements regards earlier Revelations of God. Some will be quoted here. As always, it is highly recommended to go to the source to see the context to ensure that I am not mis-quoting for my own purposes.

Quote:
... Therein lies the strength of the unity of the Faith, of the validity of a Revelation that claims not to destroy or belittle previous Revelations, but to connect, unify, and fulfill them. ...
(page 22)
On page 57 of this volume there is this most striking paragraph:

Quote:
Let no one, however, mistake my purpose. The Revelation, of which Bahá'u'lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man's allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose. It is neither eclectic in the presentation of its truths, nor arrogant in the affirmation of its claims. Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final. Unequivocally and without the least reservation it proclaims all established religions to be divine in origin, identical in their aims, complementary in their functions, continuous in their purpose, indispensable in their value to mankind.
This Faith of God has, at every renewal by another Manifestation of God, been misrepresented and had mistaken claims made regarding it. This renewal in the Revelation of Baha'u'llah is no different. Those you refer to make only mild mis-representations; In some places in this world Baha'is are still being martyred for their acceptance of Baha'u'llah, and suffer repression and condemnation. Were any of these, whether those whom seem to currently interest you, or those who persecute tha Baha'is, to examine with an open mind, they would rapidly find themselves changing their understanding. In this connection, Baha'u'llah defines the manner in which one should search for truth:

Quote:
He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 192)
Are these people you refer to as Theravada Buddhist right? Are they wrong? Are they somewhere in-between? That is a choice you, and only you can make, absolutely irrespective of any thoughts that you may obtain from this forum. And it is only you who can reconcile or not reconcile what "they" believe with what Baha'u'llah taught.

And what is the end result of such bickering and the prideful assertion of the rightness of ones' own belief over that of another? Will such an attitude bring this world away from the precipice which it now walks and is about to topple over? Aree their deeds in accord with the exhortations of the Founder of that Faith, or is it in accord with man-made conceptions and human pride? And can one state that in Truth this attitude is spiritual, is based on love and harmony and all the other qualities which every Prophet has espoused for Their followers, as long as their has been Prophets? And if not spiritual, what does that say about the followers of that Prophet? And if not spiritual in quality, then what value is there in following "their" ideas and concepts, or even just contemplating them? Does that lead you yourself to spirituality, to the fulfillment of the purpose of your own life?

Quote:
God has created us, one and all -- why do we act in opposition to His wishes, when we are all His children, and love the same Father? All these divisions we see on all sides, all these disputes and opposition, are caused because men cling to ritual and outward observances, and forget the simple, underlying truth. It is the outward practices of religion that are so different, and it is they that cause disputes and enmity -- while the reality is always the same, and one. The Reality is the Truth, and truth has no division. Truth is God's guidance, it is the light of the world, it is love, it is mercy. These attributes of truth are also human virtues inspired by the Holy Spirit.

So let us one and all hold fast to truth, and we shall be free indeed!
(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 120)
With most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 03-15-2015 at 02:17 AM.
 
Old 03-15-2015, 05:57 AM   #19
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By the way, I've run into Glaysher before. Now I did a quick check. Sad case.

gnat
 
Old 03-15-2015, 06:05 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
In a discussion on a different forum found here, someone remarks that: This statement is followed by a series of “well said” posts from others who apparently agree that the Bahá'í teaching is merely intended to cannibalize other religions into Bahá'í. What is the response to this?
Moonshadow, you may find this article of interest.

Relativism
 
Old 03-15-2015, 12:28 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh View Post
Moonshadow, you may find this article of interest.

Relativism
I did find the article of interest. I agree that there is one “goal” whatever label we choose to ascribe to it, whether it is nibbana or heaven or moksha or whatever. And my perspective is that all of these different mental constructions and interpretations that different people use in describing the path to this goal are just conventions, not truth in and of themselves. One person says “God,” and another says “the Unconditioned,” and then they argue about how they are not talking about the same thing because of this disagreement or that disagreement about the characteristics each attributes to that which they have labeled. But all of these differences are the mere overlay that each of us, from our own perspective, applies in attempting to make sense of or understand that which evades our attempts to capture it in this way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
And what is the end result of such bickering and the prideful assertion of the rightness of ones' own belief over that of another? Will such an attitude bring this world away from the precipice which it now walks and is about to topple over?
Certainly it will not. I find it so discouraging when people like tiltbillings/Bruce Burrill choose to misrepresent other faiths, choose to put down others who see an underlying unity, and choose to attempt to conform other faiths into an inferior position relative to their own faiths. Theravada certainly does this, unfortunately. If you look, you will find Theravada discussions about how Christians and those of other faiths may be able to attain to one of the heavens discussed in Theravada, but not to Nibbana. In this way, some within Theravada unfortunately are guilty of exactly the behavior that tiltbillings/Bruce Burrill accuse the Baha’i of engaging in: Re-interpreting other faiths to hammer them into the Theravada form.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dale ramsdell View Post
"There is, O monks,
an unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed.
Were there not, O monks,
this unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, unformed,
there would be no escape from the world
of the born, originated, created, formed.
"Since, O monks, there is an
unborn, unoriginated, uncreated, and unformed,
therefore there is an escape
from the born, originated, created, formed."
It is worth noting that in Bikkhu Bodhi’s “Comprehensive Manual of the Abhidhamma,” the Unconditioned is classified as a conditioning state. (See, e.g., Table 8.3 in that book, available here.) Some within Theravada do not like the possible implications, and some go so far as to discount or reject the Abdhidhamma because of this, or to sharply put down those who suggest that this may point to an underlying unity with other faith traditions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
The Revelation, of which Bahá'u'lláh is the source and center, abrogates none of the religions that have preceded it, nor does it attempt, in the slightest degree, to distort their features or to belittle their value. It disclaims any intention of dwarfing any of the Prophets of the past, or of whittling down the eternal verity of their teachings. It can, in no wise, conflict with the spirit that animates their claims, nor does it seek to undermine the basis of any man's allegiance to their cause. Its declared, its primary purpose is to enable every adherent of these Faiths to obtain a fuller understanding of the religion with which he stands identified, and to acquire a clearer apprehension of its purpose.
It is unfortunate that many adherents of other faiths do not follow this example of generosity, kindness, and tolerance.
 
Old 03-15-2015, 03:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
Yes, Theravada recognizes samsara. But I do not believe it is viewed as an eternal existence.
Ah, from the link provided it seems the Theravada view is quite different from the Mahayana. I cannot broker comparisons with Samsara in that form, so I'll not continue that thread of thought

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
I would welcome an elaboration.
Okay!! Wait... looking up my sources on Anatta it seems the majority of my understanding of the concept comes from Mahayana... do you have a helpful link to the Theravada view on the concept that I can look at before I go into details??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
I suspect that many do, but it is not my place to say.
Unfortunate, if that is the case. There are so many teachings attributed to the Buddha and many views on his person attributed to him with different sects. It seems odd to me that any one group(even the Baha'is) could claim perfect knowledge on who he was. It seems odd to me that anyone could claim another was thus misrepresenting his person.

Edit: Just out of curiosity, does anyone know if the schools of Buddhism have their own methods of validating scriptures, similar to the way the schools of Islam do??

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
I imagine that the underlying unity among these faiths has more to do with how they help followers understand reality than how best to overlay that reality with concepts, labels, and interpretations.
That's pretty much how we view unity of religions. (Well, one way we view it. I can think of two ways in total we view the concept.)
 
Old 03-15-2015, 03:33 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Walrus View Post
do you have a helpful link to the Theravada view on the concept that I can look at before I go into details??
Here is a link:
No-self or Not-self?

Thanks.
 
Old 03-15-2015, 03:47 PM   #24
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Good morning to all, and a welcome also to Monday, which early morning it now is in my location

@gnat - Glaysher has been around for quite some time. Despite appearances and despite any intention of his own, his efforts are used by God to bring people to an awareness of His Cause. When I consider at any time those who oppose the Revelation of Baha'u'llah in any way, am reminded of the love that Baha'u'llah had for those who professed to be His enemy. His efforts went into attempting to demonstrate to them the proper path that they may be saved from the consequences of their action. He had no recriminations, had no ill-will, and was content with His lot. His concern remained for the welfare of all, including those who perpetrated ill. A perusal of Summons of the Lord of Hosts highlights this continuously.

@Moonshadow

Those here and yourself are on the same playing field. If I may make some sort of a generalisation here (knowing full well that as in all such generalisations there are glaring inaccuracies), many who follow any of the Revelations do so for one (or on occaision both) of two reasons:

1. They were born into a family practicing that Faith, and have automatically, without any other consideration than family tie, blindly bonded themself to that Faith
2. They follow a Faith or following which accords with their own wishes and desires.

The Truth is always the Truth. It does not require our recognition or acceptance to still be the Truth. Truth thus does not aquiese to our views, but our views must aquiese to Truth.

But this can often take great courage. Sometimes, to aquiese to the Truth can mean ostracision from ones' family and/or circle of friends. It often means change - in ones views and outlook, in one's behaviour, and these alone are sufficient to make many afraid. It will, in some circumstances, result in others pointing their fingers at them in derision, and many quail at that thought. Aye, courage, and sometimes great courage.

And then we have our comfort zone, from which many are intensely reluctant to depart. That too, takes courage.

When we understand the many pressures which people place on themselves, and which others also place on a person, we find it impossible to regard them in any other but a light of love and kindness. For many (if not all), to try to change them at ones' own will and determination is akin to pushing them off the edge of a high cliff, and who in their right mind would wish to cause pain and hurt and injury to another. Rather, the Truth is shared without the intention to change their view, but to encourage them to understand that the Truth has many facets, and leave acceptance or rejection entirely in their hands. Truth is not lessened by rejection, nor is it enhanced by acceptance, and neither is the bearer of good news.

The true battle lies not with each other, but with our own self - the insistent self who is ruled by passions, desires and wants. Sadly, so many translate that into a battle with others - it is percieved as easier to change another, and thus the course of least resistance is followed and the effort that should be put into the generation of a new being is transferred into attempting to generate a being like our self.

My father once defined "conversion" as often occurs in the world of today as : "pushing ones' own words down another's throat till they start coming back out again." Insecurity in one's own belief causes one to find others to concur with that belief, and once those words begin coming out of another's throat there is the feeling of reinforcement of their own belief, a confirmation of one's own rightness, so to speak. And the group of like-believers feel also vindicated in their belief, for yet another speaks in words of the group's making.

Thus it is clearly seen that, if we look only at the externals of a situation, differences and conflicts can be easily seen, but when one delves below the surface an entirely different picture appears, one which aids in joyfull association with them, for we work then from a basis of understanding and love rather than the surface discrepancies which can form barriers.

With most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 03-15-2015 at 03:52 PM.
 
Old 03-15-2015, 05:20 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by gnat View Post
By the way, I've run into Glaysher before. Now I did a quick check. Sad case.

gnat
A pitiful soul who harbours great resentment and frustration. Very very needy of our prayers
 
Old 03-15-2015, 05:57 PM   #26
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When we understand the many pressures which people place on themselves, and which others also place on a person, we find it impossible to regard them in any other but a light of love and kindness. For many (if not all), to try to change them at ones' own will and determination is akin to pushing them off the edge of a high cliff, and who in their right mind would wish to cause pain and hurt and injury to another. Rather, the Truth is shared without the intention to change their view, but to encourage them to understand that the Truth has many facets, and leave acceptance or rejection entirely in their hands. Truth is not lessened by rejection, nor is it enhanced by acceptance, and neither is the bearer of good news.

The true battle lies not with each other, but with our own self - the insistent self who is ruled by passions, desires and wants. Sadly, so many translate that into a battle with others
Words of wisdom indeed.
 
Old 03-17-2015, 07:15 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
Here is a link:
No-self or Not-self?

Thanks.
Thanks. This is in agreement with Mahayana views on anatta.

I wouldn't say that anatta is similar to Baha'i "detachment", I'd actually say that they are the same concept, described and named differently among Buddhists, Baha'is, and Taoists. Buddhists call it "anatta" or "not-self". Baha'is call it "detachment". And Taoists call it "wei wu wei" or "action without action".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buddhist Anatta, emphasis added
Stress should be comprehended, its cause abandoned, its cessation realized, and the path to its cessation developed. These duties form the context in which the anatta doctrine is best understood. If you develop the path of virtue, concentration, and discernment to a state of calm well-being and use that calm state to look at experience in terms of the Noble Truths, the questions that occur to the mind are not "Is there a self? What is my self?" but rather "Am I suffering stress because I'm holding onto this particular phenomenon? Is it really me, myself, or mine? If it's stressful but not really me or mine, why hold on?" These last questions merit straightforward answers, as they then help you to comprehend stress and to chip away at the attachment and clinging — the residual sense of self-identification — that cause it, until ultimately all traces of self-identification are gone and all that's left is limitless freedom.
The link you nicely provided defines "the residual sense of self-identification" as attachment and clinging. Likewise the Baha'i goal of detachment is to chip away at attachment to the temporal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahai Detachment, various quotes from Abdul-Baha
"The earth life lasts but a short time, even its benefits are transitory; that which is temporary does not deserve our heart’s attachment…. Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one’s house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one’s fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one’s possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us."

"One who is imprisoned by desires is always unhappy; the children of the Kingdom have unchained themselves from their desires. Break all fetters and seek for spiritual joy and enlightenment; then, though you walk on this earth, you will perceive yourselves to be within the divine horizon. To man alone is this possible. When we look about us we see every other creature captive to his environment."
Goal and method are both the same: eliminate stress by eliminating attachment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taoist Wei Wu Wei, quote from the Chuang Tzu
"Having disregarded his own existence, he (Pu Liang I) was enlightened ... gained vision of the One ... was able to transcend the distinction of past and present... was able to enter the realm where life and death are no more. Then, to him, the destruction of life did not mean death, nor the prolongation of life an addition to the duration of his existence. He would follow anything; he would receive anything. To him, everything was in destruction, everything was in construction. This is called tranquillity-in-disturbance. Tranquillity in disturbance means perfection."
The Taoists have this concept too, though it is a bit harder to explain, since Taoism revels in seeming paradox, though the quote I provided should show wei wu wei's identity as anatta nicely, and shows its equivalence to detachment for anyone who has read Seven Valleys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Comparative Seven Valleys Quotes, Valley of Knowledge
"He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life."
"Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger. "
 
Old 03-17-2015, 11:21 PM   #28
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Thanks, Walrus. These are insightful comparisons.

There are many within Theravada who would reject any similarity out of hand as merely superficial, but it is more than that. You are right, detachment can be a true underlying unity, depending on how it is understood and practiced, and that, I think, is the key.

Those who reject the possibility of underlying unity often pin their arguments on the difference in the details and characteristics. For example, the concept of a "soul" seems to be very much at odds with the teaching of the not-self, anatta nature of reality. After all, a soul is thought to be eternal, individual, personal, and perhaps the only thing that is truly the "self." It is atta, the opposite of anatta.

But that is only one way of understanding what we might call "soul." Another core feature of some traditions that seem to adopt the concept of a "soul" is self abnegation. I mean this not in an abusive sense, but in the sense of some mystics, for example, who practice to defeat the self and all that selfishness entails. The "old Adam" that dies and is no more. Whatever we might call it.

In this sense, the soul is not the self. The soul, instead, represents that potentiality within that shines through only when self finally makes way. And this, in some respects, bears similarities to the Theravada notion that it is only through chipping away at the delusion of self that we might see things as they really are. In Mahayana, we might have Buddha nature. Theravada rejects this, too, yet Theravada accepts that extinction of the delusion of self is a necessary step toward utter bliss. Different words. Different details. Different labels and characteristics. But the same underlying path and goal.

You may be surprised to learn how big an obstacle words like "soul" and "God" are for some. It is a shame that these words cannot be understood for what they are: symbols or pointers that indicate the highest ideals to which we aspire from our common human condition. Dogmatically, some insist on "God" or "soul" according to their individual understanding, which might be the right path for them, while others, equally dogmatically, reject "God" or "soul" or any variation, failing to recognize the possibility that there is a different way of viewing things.

Within each beautiful religion there are these signposts and suggestions, and I believe it is possible for a person to find the path and goal in the context of ardent faith and practice in any one of these, depending on the disposition of the person, their capacity for wisdom, and other factors.

Many utterly reject the Christian notion of salvation by grace, arguing that it merely absolves people of any sense of responsibility for their actions. But this entirely misses the point. The notion of salvation by grace is an expression of the abnegation of self. It is at its core an anatta understanding, and what most critics fail to comprehend is that salvation by grace is intertwined with good works as well, as the fruit of faith and its natural companion.

There is nothing to fear in underlying unity. There is nothing to lose. Truth will not cease being truth if we should (correctly) recognize that our personal perspective is not the only valid perspective. Those who fight so hard against any recognition of this underlying unity are, in all likelihood, very much stuck in the delusion of self, very much opposed to the anatta point of view. They fail to understand anatta.
 
Old 03-18-2015, 08:03 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
You may be surprised to learn how big an obstacle words like "soul" and "God" are for some. It is a shame that these words cannot be understood for what they are: symbols or pointers that indicate the highest ideals to which we aspire from our common human condition. Dogmatically, some insist on "God" or "soul" according to their individual understanding, which might be the right path for them, while others, equally dogmatically, reject "God" or "soul" or any variation, failing to recognize the possibility that there is a different way of viewing things.
Aye. People are silly the way they'll agree on a concept existing, and will agree with all the attributes of that concept, yet they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different name for the same thing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
There is nothing to fear in underlying unity. There is nothing to lose. Truth will not cease being truth if we should (correctly) recognize that our personal perspective is not the only valid perspective. Those who fight so hard against any recognition of this underlying unity are, in all likelihood, very much stuck in the delusion of self, very much opposed to the anatta point of view. They fail to understand anatta.
Indeed. It seems to me that realizing things like not-self or detachment require the abolition of dichotomies (a Unity of "opposites"). I don't think one could attain such a state while holding on to the Us/Others Dichotomy.

One of our more mystic books, the Seven Valleys details abandoning this dichotomy (and the others) as an important step in spiritual development.
 
Old 03-18-2015, 08:16 PM   #30
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Being and Nothingness

[QUOTE=Walrus;63909]Aye. People are silly the way they'll agree on a concept existing, and will agree with all the attributes of that concept, yet they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different name for the same thing.



Aye... they'll bitterly disagree overall simply because each uses a different thing for the same name... ;-)

.
 
Old 03-19-2015, 08:18 AM   #31
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Has anyone ever had their mind changed by a belief debate on the internet?
 
Old 03-19-2015, 10:03 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noogan View Post
Has anyone ever had their mind changed by a belief debate on the internet?
Or any debate on any topic for that matter...
 
Old 03-19-2015, 10:47 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noogan View Post
Has anyone ever had their mind changed by a belief debate on the internet?
Oh, my favourite is "I'm more humble than you" :-)

gnat
 
Old 03-19-2015, 10:54 AM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnat View Post
Oh, my favourite is "I'm more humble than you" :-)

gnat
No it isn't! Wait.. sorry I am just contradicting. I was never good at debating.
 
Old 03-19-2015, 11:00 AM   #35
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Look up Monty Python's The Four Yorkshiremen. So much of that game in religious discussions.

gnat

Eric Idle: Who'd a thought thirty years ago we'd all be sittin' here drinking Chateau de Chassilier wine?

MP: Aye. In them days, we'd a' been glad to have the price of a cup o' tea.

GC: A cup ' COLD tea.

EI: Without milk or sugar.

TG: OR tea!

MP: In a filthy, cracked cup.

EI: We never used to have a cup. We used to have to drink out of a rolled up newspaper.

GC: The best WE could manage was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

TG: But you know, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

MP: Aye. BECAUSE we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, "Money doesn't buy you happiness."
 
Old 03-20-2015, 09:38 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noogan View Post
Has anyone ever had their mind changed by a belief debate on the internet?
On a serious note, I have never understood why some people seem to think these types of discussion forums are intended to "change" other people's minds and beliefs. Isn't the point to share differing views, and to learn from one another, and maybe see a different perspective? Okay, I realize that is not the point for many people, who instead look at discussion forums like this as a sort of game or competition.

While I do not know if I have ever "had my mind changed" by a belief debate on the internet, I certainly have had the following experiences as a result of internet discussions:
  • I have learned something new.
  • I have better understood a different perspective, even if I did not share that same perspective.
  • I have thought about things in a different way.
Why do we want or need or even expect to change others' beliefs? And why would we be concerned that our own beliefs might change or develop?

Last edited by Moonshadow; 03-20-2015 at 09:55 PM. Reason: Clarity
 
Old 03-21-2015, 09:23 AM   #37
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Well as Baha'is we are instructed to engage in interfaith discussions.

"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship." (Tablets of Bahá'u'llah Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas)


But that is to promote and reach unity. It is certainly not to try to get individuals to accept our point of view. That would be at the very least, approaching proselytizing, which for us is prohibited.

All too often, at least from my experience, many discussions begin with an adversarial tone, even if it is passive-aggressive. I am not laying the blame on any one person or group or persons. I think we are all capable of it And maybe even from a more adversarial conversation, things can be learned, but there is a better way.
 
Old 03-21-2015, 10:10 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noogan View Post
"Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship." (Tablets of Bahá'u'llah Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas)
There is a parallel here:
Quote:
Growth in essentials can be done in different ways, but all of them have as their root restraint in speech, that is, not praising one's own religion, or condemning the religion of others without good cause. And if there is cause for criticism, it should be done in a mild way. But it is better to honor other religions for this reason. By so doing, one's own religion benefits, and so do other religions, while doing otherwise harms one's own religion and the religions of others. Whoever praises his own religion, due to excessive devotion, and condemns others with the thought "Let me glorify my own religion," only harms his own religion.
(Words that the Buddhists at DhammaWheel.com should heed instead of criticizing Baha'i and other faiths.)

Let me ask you this: Would "followers of all religions" include those who have some idiosyncratic view that does not actually align with the religion he or she purports to follow, for example a person who claims to be Baha'i but who insists that belief in "God" is optional and personally professes a lack of belief in God? Is such a person actually a "follower" of Baha'i, or is such a person a follower of no religion?

If a person who holds and expresses idiosyncratic views is not truly a "follower" of the religion he or she professes to follow, then does the instruction to consort with that individual "in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship" not apply? (The question is rhetorical; of course it still applies.)

People come to discussions like this with their own bundles of beliefs, and my sense is that the concept of a "religion" is illusory. A pure religion might exist in some academic sense, with all core beliefs and dogmas defined with precision, but it seems to me that very few, and perhaps nobody, truly follows every nuance of dogma and doctrine of the religion they purport to "follow." Blessed be idiosyncrasy!
 
Old 03-21-2015, 04:00 PM   #39
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No one makes the same pot of coffee twice, but we still call it coffee. It's understood that no one follows a religion in the same way as another. And who follows any religion perfectly or has a perfect interpretation, personally? None, as far as I know. As far as who is and is not a Baha'i, that is not for me to say.

But for instance, it would be hard to accept someone as a proponent of Judaism who is constantly argueing for belief in Dagon and chewing on a bacon and cheese sandwich. I think we can get lost in the joys of relativism until we do not think that anything means much of anything beyond whatever our elastic desires permit at a given time.

However, I could not be a blue furry six legged methane breathing creature from a distant planet and make a valid argument that I was a penguin. I realize people sometimes enjoy splitting hairs and the freedom of having opinions etc etc, but in the end, there are commonalities. Nevertheless, we should try to find commonalities and unity.

Abdu'l Baha says “To be a Bahá'í simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it."
 
Old 03-22-2015, 11:33 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshadow View Post
On a serious note, I have never understood why some people seem to think these types of discussion forums are intended to "change" other people's minds and beliefs. Isn't the point to share differing views, and to learn from one another, and maybe see a different perspective? Okay, I realize that is not the point for many people, who instead look at discussion forums like this as a sort of game or competition.

While I do not know if I have ever "had my mind changed" by a belief debate on the internet, I certainly have had the following experiences as a result of internet discussions:
  • I have learned something new.
  • I have better understood a different perspective, even if I did not share that same perspective.
  • I have thought about things in a different way.
Why do we want or need or even expect to change others' beliefs? And why would we be concerned that our own beliefs might change or develop?
I don't know the cause, but the, for lack of a term "proselytizers" seem to take over many religious forums. I've ventured on a few for the purposes you state, to learn other perspectives, but a lot of the people drawn to the topic of religion seem unfortunately super-combative. On one notable one I joined a while back, it seemed like weekly someone posted an "Is Islam evil?" post just to provoke others. And, despite the frequency of such posts, the provocation attempt almost always worked.

I am still searching for an interfaith discussion forum where the people who show up to post aren't looking for a fight.
 
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