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Old 03-12-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
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The stealthy seduction of all the alternatives to love

Sometimes this whole "free will" thing is a real drag. . .

The problem with it is . . . we make the wrong choice so often.

Tonight I was driving with my son. He's a self-avowed, strident atheist. He thinks religion is a pile of bunk and his faith is science and rationality. About a week ago, he asked me to write him a 2,000 work summary of my views on the nature of the world, the mind, consciousness, and the reason it exists.

And so he is asking me for an update on how it's going, and the wheels start whirring in my head, thinking about how I have to come up with a really smart, convincing answer, yadda yadda yadda. And then, suddenly, STOP. I see, this is just the hamster spinning in a wheel. . .

It. Doesn't. Matter.

We want to "win". The best argument. The keenest insight. We want to ride our chargers across the battlefield of intellectual discourse and sweep the opposing viewpoint off its feet with a resounding crash and. . . victory!

What's wrong with that? Well, nothing, if we want to dwell in the planes of limitation for the rest of our days. . . "The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones." But that's not going to get the job done in this day.

If we walk into Wal-Mart, and we see a woman who makes $14,000 per year shopping for her dinner, and she is 50 pounds overweight, and we see her as a fat trailer-park slob who needs to go on a diet. . .

If we log onto the Baha'i Forums and see our brother post something here, and it annoys us, and we let fly a zinger. . .

If we think of our father, that he is spiritually not very evolved, and isn't nice enough to us, and needs to learn patience. . .


The truth is, if we are doing this, then we have fallen utterly short of where we need to be to serve God effectively, and to bring humanity to Baha'u'llah's revelation. Time to fall down on our knees and beg Baha'u'llah to help us with words like these:

"O God, my God! My back is bowed by the burden of my sins, and my heedlessness hath destroyed me. Whenever I ponder my evil doings and Thy benevolence, my heart melteth within me, and my blood boileth in my veins."

And then, we turn back to that Baha'i who annoyed us, and we see who that person is in reality:

"his face is My Face, be then abashed before me". This isn't poetry. This isn't fancy sounding pie in the sky rhetoric. This is the Truth, right here, right now. Just abre los ojos. . .

"Ages have passed and your precious lives are well-nigh ended, yet not a single breath of purity hath reached Our court of holiness from you. " That fat woman you're disdaining. That's Baha'u'llah's daughter. SERIOUSLY. You can see the light on her face if you open your eyes. I'm not bull****ing you. You're just not looking the right way. It's there. I promise you. And when you consistently walk down the street and see the sons and daughters of Baha'u'llah everywhere you go, it's GAME OVER. Victory assured.

But we don't want to love that much. What will happen to me if I look at that seventy year old man holding his cane and getting into his car, and I see Jesus standing there? I won't be able to keep a job and people will think I'm weird and that's just taking religion WAY beyond moderation anyway. And so we pull back our hearts from the leap they long to make. Yes, this world's a dust heap, but it's MY dust heap and nobody can really love like Abdu'l-Baha anyway so let's admire Him from afar instead of being like him. And then we don't grow in Faith and our community doesn't grow in numbers but at least we aren't strange like those glassy-eyed "born again" Christians. And I'm 42 and not 24 after all and so it's time to put away childish things and realize we got a good religion going and let's not rock the boat quite so much. . .

But our hearts cry out. Still. They cry out to see His face in every face, as it was written. Who will take charge, our hearts who want only to love, love, love, love, love our fellow man, or our heads who want to win, win, win, win, win the argument? We know which has taken most every round so far, but Baha'u'llah promises the final victory will go to the lovers.

You think he might actually be right?!

Last edited by light upon light; 10-15-2013 at 10:57 AM.
 
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Old 03-12-2013, 09:23 PM   #2
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light on light,

Do you have any ideas about what you and I can do about this?

Part of what I'm trying to do is trying to learn to love and trust God more. I'll post more about that, and some other ideas, later.
 
Old 03-13-2013, 06:37 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhabegger View Post
light on light,

Do you have any ideas about what you and I can do about this?
Yes. It is the easiest and hardest thing of all.

We DO have the free will to choose love instead of chasing whatever shopworn rubbish we're grasping onto with our hands. That choice is ALWAYS there, as soon as we turn to it.

"O SON OF LOVE! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the pen of glory."

Baha'u'llah MEANS this stuff. It's REAL.

But we have to DROP these baubles we are holding onto. We have to look at them as the valueless things they are. Only then can God fill our hands with the genuine treasures He possesses.

"Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth. Ye turn your eyes towards the thorn, and name it a flower. "

Until we recognize that THESE WORDS DESCRIBE US, and we repent that, and beg for healing and guidance in our lives to serve Him, we will not pass beyond the "planes of limitation" nor will we "cometh to the valley of unity and drinketh from the cup of the Absolute, and gazeth on the Manifestations of Oneness." Baha'u'llah calls us to "pierceth the veils of plurality, fleeth from the worlds of the flesh, and ascendeth into the heaven of singleness."

We have to realize that these commands from Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha to love every human soul are not "pie in the sky, by and by". That is how we are to live, how we are to be. And if we aren't there yet, we don't need to come up with excuses as to why it is too hard, why it's only for "special" people -- say Hands of the Cause and Universal House of Justice members. THAT IS THE STANDARD FOR ALL BAHA'IS. "Let him that seeketh, attain it. . ."

So if we see ourselves falling short, we must in all humility ask God to help us to learn to "Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved. "






"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8

“Whoso seeketh out a thing with zeal shall find it.” - Baha'u'llah
 
Old 03-13-2013, 06:40 AM   #4
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light upon light, this burning in your heart, has it been burning very long, or is it a new flame?
 
Old 03-13-2013, 06:46 AM   #5
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The other thing that helps, a lot, is to continuously think about how short our time here is, and that every moment of our life is written in permanent ink upon the Book of Life. What are we going to write in that book with our choices? Choose wisely.
 
Old 03-13-2013, 06:49 AM   #6
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light on light, the reason I'm asking is because my heart has been burning with a similar flame for many months now, and I want to shout it from the house tops. I'm not satisfied with the conventional wisdom of practicing it myself, and leaving it to God to do the rest. I feel God calling me to spread this message, among Baha'is, as much as to spread the news of Baha'u'llah to others. In fact, to me this *is* the news of Baha'u'llah, that has not reached very far into the hearts of Baha'is.

What you're saying looks different from what I'm saying, and may indeed be different, but even so it may be the same fire -- indeed, what other fire is there, such as this?

Maybe we can work together on this, each in his own way, but in fellowship and collaboration?

Last edited by jimhabegger; 03-13-2013 at 06:50 AM. Reason: to change a word
 
Old 03-13-2013, 06:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimhabegger View Post
light upon light, this burning in your heart, has it been burning very long, or is it a new flame?
Jim,

I left the faith in 1994 so MY will would be done, not HIS will.

Out of the bounty and grace of God I gradually came to realize how important religion is to the stability and uplifting of the world. And in a flash of a moment in June of last year, I realized that I could not serve God without Baha'u'llah.

I wasted so much of my life. I don't want to waste what's left of it.

"Soon will your swiftly-passing days be over, and the fame and riches, the comforts, the joys provided by this rubbish-heap, the world, will be gone without a trace. Summon ye, then, the people to God, and invite humanity to follow the example of the Company on high. " - Abdu'l-Baha
 
Old 03-13-2013, 07:04 AM   #8
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light upon light, I might be chasing butterflies here, but that's what I do.

"Across my dreams, with nets of wonder, I chase the bright elusive butterfly of love."
- Bob Lind, Elusive butterfly

I'd like to learn more about this flame in you, and explore with you what you and I might do to help it grow and spread. Consultation, action, reflection.

Posting this in the forum might mean that you feel called to spread this message burning in your heart. If this is what it looks like to me, I want to help fan this flame and help it spread to others. I'll be pondering what to do about that. Meanwhile I will look some more at this flame from all sides, trying to get to know it better.

If you have any more to say about this, please, keep pouring it out to me, here or in a PM, or it can be email if you'd like. Also, any relevant holy verses that come to mind.

Last edited by jimhabegger; 03-13-2013 at 07:27 AM. Reason: to correct a typo
 
Old 03-13-2013, 07:46 AM   #9
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I understand your quaundry.

None of my family -- my parents, siblings, spouse or children -- are Baha'i. None are overtly hostile to the faith either. My wife, who is very spiritual, is showing a growing interest in it, but I don't feel a need to push too hard, or be over-zealous about it. She's one of those people -- like so many -- who had some bad previous experiences with "organized" religion. And I don't blame her at all for being cynical, even though in her heart, I think she already is Baha'i.

As far as atheism goes. Well, I've had the perhaps not-so unique experience of, at different points in my life, being both a religious fundamentalist and an atheist. (I didn't even hear of the Baha'i Faith until I was well into adulthood, so I had many years to "wander," so to speak.)

Anyway, I now see the core irrationality shared by both strident atheism and fundamentalism. In terms of thought process, they practically mirror one another.

Hitchens and Dawkins, for example. Both seem like sincere, intelligent men. But when I read or watch videos of their supposedly most brilliant arguments for atheism, I practically have to choke back the laughter. Not at the men, but at the utter silliness of what's being argued.

But, I also get the point -- what's the use of trying to convince a person who is very set in their views, be it atheist, fundamentalist or something else -- through argument? It's highly doubtful they will change their mind.

I work as a writer. And I'm seriously considering writing a book someday, laying out the rational case for thinking God exists. (I don't like the term "believing in God," because I see belief as essentially irrational. I always say, "I think God exists.")

But, the purpose of such a work would not be to try arguing it by force, but rather to put the idea out there, for whomever might be interested.

The way to "witness" for our Faith is, through our own character, and how we treat others. And that does, indeed, start with how we ourselves view others. Everybody is a child of God. No less important to God, and no less loved by God, than we are.

The late Bill Hatcher, a great Baha'i and a source of much inspiration to me, once gave a talk, a recording of which I watched on YouTube.

In that talk, he made the point that ideas must never be more important to people. He related that while in Russia, he told students of his to go to the heart of the city, and find the most destitute, ragged and miserable homeless person they could. Look at that person, he said, and realize, no idea you have is more important than that human being.

Last edited by mytmouse57; 03-13-2013 at 07:48 AM.
 
Old 03-13-2013, 08:22 AM   #10
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light upon light, I like very much what you have written, and the response of the others.

Truly living a Baha'i life is no walk in the park, so to speak.
We all struggle and if one has doubts of if God exists or of our faith it is even more difficult.

I thank God that I do not have doubts about God existing, but as to my faith I often wish I could do more, or that I was more perfected etc but never thankfully do I for one minute doubt Baha'u'llah, his followers are something else :-) and I know we all struggle with each other at times.

As for perfection I smile when I read of Abdul-Baha and Martha Root and her demanding of the Master to perfect her NOW! What an example she is of Faith in action, but even she was impatient and demanding :-)

I strive at all times to keep in mind the impossibly of perfection but our responsibility to be STRIVING at all times to achieve it, as The Master said little by little and day by day. Truly this is not beyond any of us, just to strive little by little day by day, something to keep in the back of our minds each day. Of course we will fail at times, but again we are told not to think of our weaknesses to concentrate on the goal.

Love to all
 
Old 03-14-2013, 06:40 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mytmouse57 View Post
The late Bill Hatcher, a great Baha'i and a source of much inspiration to me, once gave a talk, a recording of which I watched on YouTube.

In that talk, he made the point that ideas must never be more important to people. He related that while in Russia, he told students of his to go to the heart of the city, and find the most destitute, ragged and miserable homeless person they could. Look at that person, he said, and realize, no idea you have is more important than that human being.
I agree very much, that is how Abdu'l-Baha lived, and that is a beautiful way to state it. Thx!
 
Old 03-14-2013, 07:49 AM   #12
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I agree very much, that is how Abdu'l-Baha lived, and that is a beautiful way to state it. Thx!
The Hatcher brothers and the late William Sears have been my greatest Baha'i mentors. Even though I never met any of them in person.

Since we're both writers/journalists, I still ask Mr. Sears for guidance and assistance from time to time.
 
Old 03-14-2013, 08:18 AM   #13
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The Hatcher brothers and the late William Sears have been my greatest Baha'i mentors. Even though I never met any of them in person.

Since we're both writers/journalists, I still ask Mr. Sears for guidance and assistance from time to time.
I remember as a child, growing up listening to his warm and loving voice reading "stories from the Dawn Breakers".

Bless you William Sears for your service to the Cause, your love, and your faithfulness when the Guardian passed.
 
Old 05-26-2015, 05:50 AM   #14
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Wow... After reading this thread, I really felt it needed to be brought up again. Our thoughts can be so wayward...And I often wonder if I will ever reach a point where I don't have to slap myself for some stupid or unkind thought. Of course not speaking your thoughts is a step in the right direction, but to not have them....now that is my goal!
 
Old 05-26-2015, 06:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by light upon light View Post
I wasted so much of my life. I don't want to waste what's left of it.
For many years, I've felt that the best thing I can do is to talk less and do more. Instead of complaining about the pigsty that my home constantly is turned into, at least I try now and then to preserve the notion of cleanliness in the kitchen - hoping that at least one spotless surface will remind the children of what cleanliness is.

I hate preaching. Instead, for years, I've tried to gather people in my home - when the mother of my children is away, of course - in order to have a devotional, the idea being to leave one's own thoughts and words behind and giving access to the words of the Central Figures of our Faith.

For the same reason, I've made a number of translations of our scriptures, in order to make the texts available in the local language in this country.

At present, I'm really pondering how I could clean out both the physical dirt and the spiritual dirt from my children's lives.

gnat
 
Old 05-26-2015, 03:34 PM   #16
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Isn't regret such a totally negative emotion, and one so easy to succumb to?
 
Old 05-27-2015, 12:17 AM   #17
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Isn't regret such a totally negative emotion, and one so easy to succumb to?
Regret as in drowning one's self in a never ending pool of negative thoughts is indeed quite harmful and escaping from it rather difficult. Shame, however, as the motive or the cause behind regret, is desirable and sought after.

"Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed and do not possess it." Baha'u'llah

@Gnat

As I see it you can't clean others from spiritual dirt even if they be your children. What can be done is providing them with the tools and the faculty that is essential in their approach to judgment, their decision making process. That is one of the greatest gifts any parent can give their child.
 
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