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Old 06-16-2016, 01:07 AM   #1
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Absolute Unity

In The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys a saying of Imam Ali is mentioned in The Valley of Knowledge: “Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”

What does this mean? If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?

We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?

Last edited by arcane; 06-16-2016 at 01:49 AM.
 
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Old 06-16-2016, 02:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
In The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys a saying of Imam Ali is mentioned in The Valley of Knowledge: “Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”

What does this mean? If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?

We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?
IMHO, unity of man would exclude attributes such as race,colour,creed, rich or poor etc
 
Old 06-16-2016, 08:44 PM   #3
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
In The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys a saying of Imam Ali is mentioned in The Valley of Knowledge: “Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”

What does this mean? If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?

We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?
arcane - There has been much discussion on this in other posts, can not quite recall the discussions to do a search, but you have asked the question and I have just reading a provisional Translation of Tablet to Ashraf - Original title: Lawh-i Ashraf - Link - Tablet to Ashraf

This concept you are looking for may very well be in this opening paragraph;

"O Ashraf,[1] listen carefully to what the Tongue of the Eternal has to say. Any one of the melodies of your Lord would be sufficient to attract the hearts of all people, if they were to perceive it with a new and purified ear. And if the names were to release themselves from the limitations of the world of creation, they would surely all become the most great Name, could you but apprehend, for the Ancient Beauty has manifested himself to all things in the splendor of all the names during these blessed, mighty, and sublime days..."

It is a powerful thought even for us to consider - Regards Tony

Regards Tony
 
Old 06-16-2016, 11:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post
arcane - There has been much discussion on this in other posts, can not quite recall the discussions to do a search, but you have asked the question and I have just reading a provisional Translation of Tablet to Ashraf - Original title: Lawh-i Ashraf - Link - Tablet to Ashraf

This concept you are looking for may very well be in this opening paragraph;

"O Ashraf,[1] listen carefully to what the Tongue of the Eternal has to say. Any one of the melodies of your Lord would be sufficient to attract the hearts of all people, if they were to perceive it with a new and purified ear. And if the names were to release themselves from the limitations of the world of creation, they would surely all become the most great Name, could you but apprehend, for the Ancient Beauty has manifested himself to all things in the splendor of all the names during these blessed, mighty, and sublime days..."

It is a powerful thought even for us to consider - Regards Tony

Regards Tony

I would love it if someone could link me to the previous discussions. Thank you so much for directing me to the Tablet to Ashraf. God Bless you.

Regards
 
Old 06-16-2016, 11:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
In The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys a saying of Imam Ali is mentioned in The Valley of Knowledge: “Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”

What does this mean? If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?

We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?
An attribute is something that differentiates one thing from an other by virtue of its different properties. If something is unified to an absolute degree then no differentiation is possible as no difference in attributes are discernible.

Cheers
 
Old 06-17-2016, 10:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arcane View Post
In The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys a saying of Imam Ali is mentioned in The Valley of Knowledge: “Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes.”

What does this mean? If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?

We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?
Taoist thinkers wrote a LOT in similar thoughts to "Absolute Unity excludeth all attributes". In fact, the yin-and-yang symbol (often incorrectly viewed as a symbol of "balance") is a symbol meant to explain this idea. The yin-and-yang is, as one Taoist sage described to me, a single, unified symbol. It is one, singular thing, IE, it is unified. Though, because one part appears one color and another part appears another color, people THINK of the yin-and-yang as two things, yin and yang. Because we think in terms of attributes, because we think "black" and "white" are separate concepts, we falsely see the yin-and-yang as two things, when in reality the two are unified and are one.

In this way, thinking of the world in terms of attributes divide things by mere definition. If you make up an attribute, like "hot", to describe certain objects you are implicitly dividing those objects in your mind from the things that are "not-hot". Every single attribute a human imagines implies and creates its opposite, and causes separation in our minds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching Chapter 2
When everyone in the world sees beauty,
Then ugly exists.
When everyone sees good,
Then bad exists.

Therefore:
What is and what is not create each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Tall and short shape each other.
High and low rest on each other.
Voice and tone blend with each other.
First and last follow each other.
In this way, such attributes are the root cause of division.

To exit the thread of Taoist thought and make it more understandable to those with a more Baha'i background, consider the parable of the Garden of Eden. In the parable, Eden is thought of as a paradise, and God's one commandment at the beginning is: "you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17).

The Serpent points out God's motives: "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)

Obviously, this should not be taken literally, and as Abdul-Baha states "this story of Adam and Eve who ate from the tree, and their expulsion from Paradise, must be thought of simply as a symbol" (Some Answered Questions pg. 123). So, symbolically, the thing God is forbidding in this story is not a literal piece of fruit, but rather he is forbidding "the knowledge of good and evil". For many people this seems confusing, as most people tend to regard something like "the knowledge of good and evil" as a good thing. Among Christians, the Mormons and the Gnostics both reinterpreted this story in various and creative ways simply to make attaining the "knowledge of good and evil" a thing sanctioned by God (the Mormons merely claim the Book of Genesis inaccurate or incomplete, while the Gnostics actually assert that the "God" in Genesis wasn't actually God, but the Devil).

But, rather, I believe the "knowledge of good and evil" was forbidden because it is not a true knowledge, but is rather a thing describing the mindset of division. When Adam and Eve decided to view the world in terms of "good" things and "bad" things, they were no longer in Paradise, no longer in Eden, because they had divided the world and now saw fault in the world where no fault had been before.

The story of Adam and Eve is the story of the First Division.

Abdul-Baha says much of the same.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abdul-Baha, Some Answered Questions pg. 123-124
The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity and absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.
The knowledge of good and evil was what led mankind out of a state of Unity.

Now you ask "If all attributes are excluded then what would remain of the concept of Unity in Diversity?" I think much the opposite, that "Unity in Diversity" cannot exist with the "knowledge" of attributes.

Attributes are things by which we categorize and collectivize, which is concept that is a denial of diversity and individuality. Let's take a group of people, then introduce the relatively innocuous attribute of "Tall/Short". Now, instead of a group of individuals, we have two categorized groups, one of Tall People, one of Short People. The introduction of even "tall and short" divides a unified group into two categories. No longer individuals, but part of two different arbitrary collectives.

Now, if we take this group that we have thus divided, and then stop thinking of them in terms of "short people" and "tall people", if we eliminate our seeing the world in that sort of dichotomy, then we are viewing each person as a diverse individual and not as merely "short" or "tall". This "exclusion of attributes" does NOT mean that everyone suddenly is the same height, however, but it DOES mean that we have stopped dividing one another on the basis of the attributes tall/short.

To "exclude attributes" is thus not to "enforce conformity" but to merely exclude attributes from the way you see the world. It is a tough thing to do, surely, I mean, this is aiming for the goal of "Absolute Unity" after all. We are so used to viewing people in terms of attributes that it will take a lot of effort to break free of that mentality. It's hard enough to stop viewing people in terms of "German", "Mongolian", "Black", "White", "Rich", and "Poor". It's hard enough to stop viewing others in terms of nationalism, race, and economic class. It's an even harder and more momentous achievement to stop looking at people in terms of "tall", "short", "thin", "fat", "good", "bad", "man", "woman", "ugly", "beautiful", "smart", "dumb", "bearded", "shaven", and every other divisive, dichotomy-causing attribute that we have been trained our whole lives to see others in terms of. It's a call to see people as people and not their attributes. Stopping yourself from seeing someone in the terms of "tall" doesn't mean they stop being six feet seven inches tall, but it does mean that you're view of that person isn't bound to that collective group of "tall people" you've constructed in your brain.

It's a difficult task, for sure, "Absolute Unity". But that's likely the reason Unity is the Fourth "Valley" in the stages of spiritual development and not the First.

As an extension to Unity and its overall place in the Seven Valleys, I believe there is a good reason that the Valley of Unity leads into the Valley of Contentment. After all, if one can successfully gain "Absolute Unity" and undo the First Division of Adam and Eve, one will stop viewing the things in terms of "Good" and "Bad". And if you no longer see "Bad" in the world, I imagine Contentment comes easy.

Then finally, on to your last part of the question. "We know God through His attributes. Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?"

This last part I have no solid answers for, everything becomes increasingly mystical, and I cannot claim to be sure of any of the following conjecture.

"Does Absolute Unity also signify the exclusion of the attributes of God?" The first thing I'd say is "Yes". This answer delves into the little known subject of Baha'i Cosmology, yay even more mysticism!! Baha'i Cosmology describes reality in five parts, but for the purposes of this question we need only concern ourself with two parts: Hahut and Lahut. Hahut is the place in Baha'i Cosmology that God resides in, in an infinite, unmanifested state. Lahut is where God manifests himself, and is where the names and attributes of God exist. Hahut is also called the Primal Oneness, and as God, is definitely something one could call "Absolute Unity". Though the realm of Hahut, where God Himself is, is a realm that excludes God's attributes, those existing on the manifested level of Lahut.

So, based on Baha'i Cosmology, and without delving into that complicated subject too much (and spending like a solid hour typing about it), yes, the Absolute Unity of God Himself excludes his own attributes.

I don't know much about how this applies to our own spiritual development. Maybe the attributes of God are different altogether?? I do note that the final, Seventh Valley of Seven Valleys that Baha'u'llah writes something that implies the rejection of earthly attributes, but not necessarily God's...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baha'u'llah, Seven Valleys, pg. 36
When the qualities of the Ancient of Days stood revealed,
Then the qualities of earthly things did Moses burn away.

Last edited by Walrus; 06-17-2016 at 10:21 AM.
 
Old 06-17-2016, 12:12 PM   #7
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Great post, Walrus! I enjoyed reading your comparison with Taoist thought. Definitely worth more research.

Also, see the Bab's interpretation of Joseph's descent into the well. Everything goes black. This color is a symbol of Absolute Unity in the Bab's writings.
 
Old 06-17-2016, 12:51 PM   #8
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I am deeply grateful to you, Dear Walrus, for your time that you have invested to provide me with such a thorough response to my questions. Your response has nurtured my interest and has supplied me with very valuable knowledge.

The guidance that I receive from the friends on this forum is highly valued. God bless you all!

Allah'u'Abha!

Last edited by arcane; 06-17-2016 at 01:03 PM.
 
Old 06-17-2016, 03:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by arcane View Post
I am deeply grateful to you, Dear Walrus, for your time that you have invested to provide me with such a thorough response to my questions. Your response has nurtured my interest and has supplied me with very valuable knowledge.

The guidance that I receive from the friends on this forum is highly valued. God bless you all!

Allah'u'Abha!
Yes it is good to get all these other inputs, if I had those thoughts 25 years ago this thought may have altered a little, but then maybe not

Heartache, Happiness,
Agony, Ecstasy,
Sorrow, Joy.
Loneliness, Reunion.
Darkness, Light.
Concealed, Revealed.
Opposites attract,
negatives highlight positives.
Pain brings happiness,
tribulation brings Joy.
Oh God may this life be full of negatives,
so we can learn to appreciate the positives.

Thoughts Written in B.E. 148

Regards Tony
 
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