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Old 04-02-2016, 07:23 AM   #1
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Mystical Philosophy and Experience

I have spent the last few years investigating the role that mysticism has in the Baha'i Faith. I consider growth in this area to be important in my spiritual development as a Baha'i. Although I have often had mystical feelings in the past, I wanted to explore a more direct approach to mystical reality. I have read "The Seven Valleys" and "The Four Valleys" as well as a compliation of Baha'u'llah's mystical teachings. I have also read some tomes written by Saiedi Nader: "Logos and Civilization" and "Gate of the Heart", and also by Julio Savi: "Towards the Summit of Reality." Although these books have gone a long way in decripting the language of Baha'u'llah's writings, still I would like to talk to someone out there, who has also read on this topic and is willing to share their insight.
I would also be interested in talking to anyone who meditates daily and would be interested in sharing their insights and experiences.
 
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:58 AM   #2
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I am also interested in mystic part of Baha'i religion and in mysticism in general but I have not read the two books you mentioned. and yes, I too meditate "almost" daily :P

you can start the discussion and I would be happy to take part
 
Old 04-02-2016, 11:41 AM   #3
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Welcome, David.

I'm unsure, due to lack of knowledge and lack of time, how much I'd be able to contribute to a discussion. But here are some other reading materials about mysticism you might find interesting. I haven't read them myself, but they're on my to-read list.

"Mysticism and the Bahá'í Community" by Moojan Momen

"The Mystic Cup: Essential Mystical Nature of the Bahá'í Faith" by LeRoy Jones

Mysticism and the Bahá'í Revelation: A Contrast (a book from 1934) by Ruhi Afnán
 
Old 04-03-2016, 06:51 PM   #4
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I alternate between obsessing over the history and the mysticism. Recently I've been on a mystical bend.

My greatest insight recently has come through deepening my awareness of the Primal Will/Point, aka the Word or the Pen. I was reading The Seven Valleys and some study notes to it, and had the following idea:

The Qiblih is a symbol for the Primal Will. God is everywhere. God is not divisible. But God first begat His Will, aka His Son, and that is the channel for creation. Thus all reality turns to a single point in reverence, even though God is everywhere we turn.
 
Old 04-04-2016, 02:22 PM   #5
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I have been thinking for a couple days about how to proceedhere. It occurred to me some time ago that there lies a significant difference in the approach to spirituality between the western mind and eastern mind, the eastern approach being much more inwardly and privately focused. Being brought up in the west as a Presbyterian Christian, my focus on religion had been primarily outwardly focused on "doing things" for my religion. Very little prayer. When I became a Baha'i, my approach did not change or at least change enough. My success (or lack thereof should I say) in the teaching realm, I think, serves as a testament to this fact. Good intentions just aren't good enough. They can be harmful in fact. So a few years ago I just stepped back and took stock of the situation. Also, being forced into semi-retirement early, has given me a chance to devote more time in trying to spiritualize my life. I decided to take an inward approach and try to get in touch with the more mystical aspects of being a Baha'i.
Now bearing in mind that all religions point to the creator and their fundamental spiritual tenets are the same, I decided to hook up with a Buddhist discussion group to understand what it is they are doing when they meditate, and learn how meditation can enhance my Baha'i life. It has also served as a teaching opportunity. At the same time I've been researching what the Sufi approach to God was, which is also inwardly directed, and what Baha'u'llah had to say about that approach. What a long strange trip it has been.
So what is it that I have learned? Well this the kind of stuff that books are made of. But really what I think I understand may or may not be valid for anyone else. For instance if anyone out there is familiar with the Buddhist concept of "emptiness"I would be interested what your take on that is. They tell me that "emptiness" is not "nothingness." If this is true then it must be "somethingness." My experience has suggested to me that this "emptiness" might be better expressed as "presence." That is the presence of one's self or in otherwords one's soul. This, I think, is where the Buddhist ends. The Baha'i will keep going, however, and will turn his presence to the presence of the Manifestation of the age in which he lives. This merging is one of the reasons for our existence.
 
Old 04-05-2016, 03:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Whitman View Post
Being brought up in the west as a Presbyterian Christian, my focus on religion had been primarily outwardly focused on "doing things" for my religion. Very little prayer. When I became a Baha'i, my approach did not change or at least change enough. My success (or lack thereof should I say) in the teaching realm, I think, serves as a testament to this fact. Good intentions just aren't good enough. They can be harmful in fact.
Your words speak to me, and ring very true with my own recent teaching experiences. Someone on these forums shared the following quote with me:

"The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones."

- 'Abdu'l-Baha, SAQ

I believe we teach best by becoming more perfect reflections of the Manifestation. Receiving the extent of God's grace given to us enables and guides us best in serving Him.

Regarding Buddhism and meditation: the only other spiritual person among my siblings now is my sister in Ireland. She has been meditating under the guidance of her therapist, who studies Buddhism. We have been able to share and connect greatly with each other because we share a common quest, to perfect ourselves and detach from earthly concerns. She'll come to me with insights in life, which in turn remind me of a Writing that I can then share.

I believe some schools of Buddhism serve as great gateways for the Westerner to embrace meditation and detachment. I sometimes read The Teaching of Buddha, published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. It has lots of wonderful spiritual teachings, presented in very brief form, and the explanations of the Buddha and Dharma align perfectly with Baha'i metaphysics IMO.

Quote:
Bahá’u’lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time—he cannot both speak and meditate.

It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.

You cannot apply the name ‘man’ to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts.

Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit—the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation.

The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food.

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see.

This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.

This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.

Nevertheless some thoughts are useless to man; they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the inner light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed.

The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these.

But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained.

Therefore let us keep this faculty rightly directed—turning it to the heavenly Sun and not to earthly objects—so that we may discover the secrets of the Kingdom, and comprehend the allegories of the Bible and the mysteries of the spirit.

May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the heavenly realities, and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven.


-Paris Talks
 
Old 04-06-2016, 02:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neal View Post
Your words speak to me, and ring very true with my own recent teaching experiences. Someone on these forums shared the following quote with me:

"The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones."

- 'Abdu'l-Baha, SAQ

I believe we teach best by becoming more perfect reflections of the Manifestation. Receiving the extent of God's grace given to us enables and guides us best in serving Him.

Regarding Buddhism and meditation: the only other spiritual person among my siblings now is my sister in Ireland. She has been meditating under the guidance of her therapist, who studies Buddhism. We have been able to share and connect greatly with each other because we share a common quest, to perfect ourselves and detach from earthly concerns. She'll come to me with insights in life, which in turn remind me of a Writing that I can then share.

I believe some schools of Buddhism serve as great gateways for the Westerner to embrace meditation and detachment. I sometimes read The Teaching of Buddha, published by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai. It has lots of wonderful spiritual teachings, presented in very brief form, and the explanations of the Buddha and Dharma align perfectly with Baha'i metaphysics IMO.
Are you Irish Neal?
 
Old 04-06-2016, 04:57 PM   #8
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Are you Irish Neal?
My mom's side is, but my sister moved back to be with her love. I've never left the USA
 
Old 04-06-2016, 06:27 PM   #9
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Are you Irish Neal?
My mom's side is, but my sister moved back to be with her love. I've never left the USA
 
Old 04-07-2016, 01:35 PM   #10
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My mom's side is, but my sister moved back to be with her love. I've never left the USA
Makes sense, us Irishmen are by far the best
 
Old 04-07-2016, 05:22 PM   #11
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Neal
Thank you for these quotes! Did they all come from the Paris Talks? I recognized a few of them, but some seem like I'm seeing them for the first time. I have to chuckle a little bit when he says "some thoughts are useless...they are like waves moving in the sea without result." Good grief! He is a master of understatement. The chatter going on in our heads is endless. The mind never shuts up. I think most of my Buddhist friends are right. This comes mostly from the ego - that part of you that wants to be separate and special - that gets easily offended - that wants to usurp your spiritual identity and convince you that you are nothing more than the sum total of your wants and needs.
I find that it takes practice to be able to quiet this faculty of the mind. I used to sit for periods of time just concentrating on trying to quiet my mind. I was only partially successful. I've found that what works better is to take a more postivie approach. Instead of just quieting the mind I focus on being in the present moment by being aware of my breathing, the sensation of inhabiting my body, becoming aware of the silence, listening to the silence and then becoming aware of my awareness. At this point I beieve I am in communion with my soul. Mind, spirit and body become one. It is in this state that I can feel my love for Baha'u'llah and His love for me. This mindfulness now carries over during the day during my regular state of consciousness.
Can you tell me of some of your experiences? I would be interested in hearing from anyone out there.
 
Old 04-07-2016, 06:23 PM   #12
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David - I have always found this difficult. My mind always running away in thoughts and vein imaginings!

To understand that all that is good is from the source and all that is not good is but the result of self placing the barriers is not an easy journey!

Little by little day by day one has to contemplate how to let it be the source of all good that dominates thoughts and actions. Like everything it needs a lot of practice.

Regards Tony
 
Old 04-07-2016, 10:19 PM   #13
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Those were all from one speech in Paris Talks, though I skipped the first part of the speech. A Google search will find the whole speech.

A friend recently pointed out how disempowering it truly is to encourage people to "just be themselves." For if we only act according to desire and impulse, then we are not truly conscious, and we have no free will. Contemplation, detachment, and deliberation are the only ways to free will.

What works for me: I memorized the first two Arabic Hidden Words when I first became serious about my faith. When I need to slow down and prepare myself, or make a hard decision, I stop and carefully recite either or both. I find clarity afterwards, every time.

I have also done meditation with my sister, though this took 20 minutes. We too would focus on our bodies, our breathing, our thoughts, and generally raise our awareness of our present state. I felt the effects for a longer span of time, but they were similar to the ones I receive after reciting the Hidden Words.
 
Old 04-08-2016, 07:50 AM   #14
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I have always loved reading the "Hidden Words." Bite sized pieces of reality one can chew on for hours. And, yes after reading and contemplating about what I read, has always left a residue of spiritual experience with me. But I guess the process of consciously focusing my mind inward has enhanced and deepened this experience. There is a Buddhist concept of "mindfulness", which is also very much a Baha'i concept, that I never used to understand very much. For instance, Baha'u'llah has said that you should consider your work as an act of worship. I used to try to realize this and be mindful of it while at work. But invariably, the pressure of getting things done on time and correctly would consume me and I would lose myself in the day. There is no joyfulness in this. Working part time now is really a gift. I can now devote time to conscious spiritual growth and to practice the mindfulness of work is worship much more effectively.
 
Old 04-08-2016, 10:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by David Whitman View Post
I have always loved reading the "Hidden Words." Bite sized pieces of reality one can chew on for hours. And, yes after reading and contemplating about what I read, has always left a residue of spiritual experience with me. But I guess the process of consciously focusing my mind inward has enhanced and deepened this experience. There is a Buddhist concept of "mindfulness", which is also very much a Baha'i concept, that I never used to understand very much. For instance, Baha'u'llah has said that you should consider your work as an act of worship. I used to try to realize this and be mindful of it while at work. But invariably, the pressure of getting things done on time and correctly would consume me and I would lose myself in the day. There is no joyfulness in this. Working part time now is really a gift. I can now devote time to conscious spiritual growth and to practice the mindfulness of work is worship much more effectively.
I've heard that AbdulBaha or the Guardian said that eventually the work week would be about 24 hours and not 40. I don't know if this is true, but it makes sense to me. Humanity needs to be able to enjoy family and community, meditate and study, and spend time serving, not just laboring. When we have a balance, our work is more focused and deliberate, and our health is assured in all three states: physical, mental, and spiritual
 
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