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Old 02-20-2016, 04:07 AM   #1
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Praying to Baha'u'llah

During my search for interesting websites about Baha'i, I've noticed an interesting trend among certain believers. Several people in dire situations have prayed to Baha'u'llah for strength and/or deliverance. Some seemed to have their prayers for deliverance answered, while other were merely blessed with endurance.

Since I grew up Christian, the idea of praying to a manifestation (Jesus) is not foreign to me in the least. But that's mainly because Christians believe Jesus was God incarnate on earth. According to the teachings of the trinity, praying to Jesus was essentially the same thing as praying to God himself.

Baha'u'llah, however, never seemed to declare that he himself was a divine being like Jesus' followers claim Jesus was. Baha'u'llah was merely the recipient of the ways of God in this new era. I don't remember any specific passages in his writings, but I seem to get the impression that he didn't want to be idolized to the point of worshiping him. Instead, we are to worship God directly.

Given the idea that Baha'u'llah was merely a man (despite his divinely ordained status), are we allowed to pray directly to Baha'u'llah? Again, I was under the impression that we have no need of intermediaries between us and God. How common is this method of prayer? Is it something that just happens now and then or is it specifically encouraged, despite the impressions that I get? It certainly seemed legitimate enough for some Baha'is, and it seems to have carried them through hard times. I feel such faith can be a positive thing, but I still don't see why they just didn't pray to God directly.

tl;dr -- Why do some Baha'is pray to Baha'u'llah and not to God?

Any thoughts?
 
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Old 02-20-2016, 04:58 AM   #2
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"Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: “I am God,” He, verily, speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His names and His attributes, are made manifest in the world...And were they to say, “We are the Servants of God,” this also is a manifest and indisputable fact. For they have been made manifest in the uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which no man can possibly attain. Thus in moments in which these Essences of Being were deep immersed beneath the oceans of ancient and everlasting holiness, or when they soared to the loftiest summits of Divine mysteries, they claimed their utterances to be the Voice of Divinity, the Call of God Himself." ~ Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán
 
Old 02-20-2016, 05:25 AM   #3
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Scribe:

Below, please find for your consideration some direction of the Guardian of the Cause provided through letters written on his behalf:


"…we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian—we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance, you can ask Bahá’u’lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1946)


"While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, April 27, 1937: Dawn of a New Day, p. 67)


"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá’u’lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá’u’lláh.

"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá’u’lláh where the word 'God' is used. This would be tantamount to a blasphemy."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1937)


"We cannot know God directly, but only through His Prophets. We can pray to Him realizing that through His Prophets we know Him, or we can address our prayer in thought to Bahá’u’lláh, not as God, but as the Door to our knowing God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer: High Endeavors: Messages to Alaska, p. 71)


"We pray to God, or to Bahá’u’lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even of the Master."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)


"In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 15, 1935)


"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá’u’lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949)


LR
 
Old 02-20-2016, 05:38 AM   #4
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Scribe:

As to the divine station of the Manifestations of God, I will offer these words of the Bab:


"Verily the Point possesseth two stations. One is the station that speaketh from God. The other is the station that speaketh from that which is other than God, a station whereby He expresseth His servitude for the former station. By virtue of the former, the latter worshipeth God in the daytime and the night season, and glorifieth Him at morn and at eventide.

The substance of this gate is that God hath fashioned two stations for the Sun of Truth. One is the station of His unknown and unknowable Essence, the Manifestation of His Divinity. Thus, all His revealed divine verses stream forth on behalf of God…. All else beyond this supreme Sign present within Him is His creation…..

And within the inmost reality of all things there hath been, and will forever continue to be, a sign from God through which the unity of the Lord is celebrated. This sign, however, is a reflection of His Will present within it, through which naught is seen but God. However, within the Will, that supreme Sign is the Will Itself, the Supreme Mirror of God, which hath never referred, nor will it ever refer, to aught but God…. He is the possessor of two signs, that of God and that of creation, and through the latter He worshipeth God and boweth in adoration before Him. In like manner, all things adore their Beloved through the sign of Creation, though it hath never reached, nor will it ever reach, beyond its own sign from God, which is present within it and pointeth unto Him."

- The Báb, The Persian Bayán 4:1, cited in Gate of the Heart – Understanding the Writings of the Báb, by Nader Saiedi (The Research Department of the Bahá’í World Centre assisted with the provisional translations included in Mr. Saiedi’s book)

LR
 
Old 02-20-2016, 05:51 AM   #5
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Thanks for the quotes randalljazz and Larry! This will definitely give me something to ponder. Now that I think of it, I have seen Randalljazz's quote before, the one from Baha'u'llah. It never occurred to me that it might indirectly encourage prayer to the Manifestations.

I've read a good deal of material from Baha'u'llah and some of Abdul-Baha's writings, but comparatively little of the messages from Shoghi Effendi. I've never seen any of the quotes that Larry provided. As a result, it seems that I have misunderstood what the actual teachings of the Baha'i faith are... Live and learn, I guess.

Thanks again!

Edit: Thanks, Larry, for the quotes from the Bab. You posted your last message while I was still drafting mine, so I didn't see it right away.
 
Old 02-20-2016, 08:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I've read a good deal of material from Baha'u'llah and some of Abdul-Baha's writings, but comparatively little of the messages from Shoghi Effendi.
If you want to begin studying the Guardian's contributions, I would recommend starting with Lights of Guidance. It is a reference file for Baha'i doctrine, consisting only of quotes from the Writings. I think about half of the contents come from letters written by or on behalf of the Guardian, and every quote pertains to a specific belief, sorted by topic. It is a quick way to learn about our beliefs.

Reading his other works is encouraged, but can be intimidating for investigators early on. He was a very prolific writer, and his use of English was masterful, so reading a whole book of just his works can be challenging. Lights of Guidance is both highly informative and a good warm up to God Passes By, Advent of Divine Justice, and others.

EDIT: Lights of Guidance can be read online through this link: http://bahai-library.com/hornby_lights_guidance
 
Old 02-20-2016, 09:42 AM   #7
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This symbol says it all.

The Manifestations are channels that convey the spiritual energy from the world of humans to the divine world, and from the divine world to the world of humans.
Considering a Manifestation is God, and praying to him as if he was God is like confusing the centre of this symbol with the upper intersection. The Manifestations are the "Bab" (gates) that provide access to the divine realm. If you worship the Gate, it's over.

Prayer through a Manifestation is intercession. It is allowed in Christianity (praying the Saints), in Islam, in Hinduism, etc.
Worship of a Manifestation is, however, condemned explicitely by the Torah and the Quran.

The Symbol is the key. I think.
 
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