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Old 05-14-2017, 07:00 PM   #1
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Do we overvalue the writings of Abdu'l-Baha an Shoghi Effendi?

Hi everyone this is my first ever post. I hope to create constructive dialogue on this forum. Healthy dialogue is a great way to transform humanity.

I really feel like people quote Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi like they are directly saying the word of God which is wrong and not true. Baha'u'llah is the actual word of God. His words are completely raw and not edited by any human. They are masterfully crafted words that are intended to transcend over hundreds of years and to every culture to come. I know Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi are very spiritual people but whatever they say or write is not the word of God. People often use what they say is cold hard evidence of God's word but it's not. Everything they say is a secondary source. Every thing they say is watered down. It is very watered down in my opinion compared to an actual diety who is totally more powerful and all-knowing. Comparing the knowledge of the All-Glorious, All-Powerful, All-knowing God to some human who lived a measily human life span is no competition. I think it's an insult to God himself for us to look at Abdu'l Baha and Shoghi Effendi's writings as equal to His yet people do it a ridiculous amount. People seem to do it more often than not. A lot of people seem to prefer their writings over God's. Neither Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi are God. They are both humans and should start being treated as humans. Why is Abdu'l-Baha's and Shoghi Effendi's writings considered sacred writings? They aren't sacred writings. They are writings by humans. They are writings by devout believers, but by listening to devout believers instead of God himself is how the teachings get skewed and watered down. I don't understand why people water down the teachings already. The religion is so new, yet it's already being watered down right off the bat.

I don't want to come across as somebody who thinks Shoghi Effendi and Abdu'l-Baha are not honorable people. They are very honorable people. They are some of the most honorable people to every walk the Earth no doubt. But they are people. Every person is an ant to God. If you agree or disagree please comment. I know there is definitely different perspectives I haven't looked through and facts I don't know about. I really want to understand their place in the Baha'i faith because it doesn't really make a lot of sense to me right now.
 
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Old 05-14-2017, 07:50 PM   #2
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Hello,

These are what Bahaullah said about Abdulbaha:

"Verily, I have appointed One Who is the Center of My Covenant. All must obey Him; all must turn to Him; He is the Expounder of My Book, and He is informed of My purpose. All must turn to Him. Whatsoever He says is correct, for, verily, He knoweth the texts of My Book. Other than He, no one doth know My Book."


It is incumbent upon the Aghsán, the Afnán and My kindred to turn, one and all, their faces towards the Most Mighty Branch. Consider that which We have revealed in Our Most Holy Book: "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hath branched from this Ancient Root." The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch ('Abdu'l-Bahá). Thus have We graciously revealed unto you our potent Will, and I am verily the Gracious, the All-Powerful.
(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh - Selected Letters, p. 134)


Verily, this most sacred temple of Abha ---the Branch of Holiness--- hath branched forth from the Sadratu'l-Muntaha. Blessed is whosoever sought shelter beneath it and is of those who rest therein.
Say: Verily, the branch of command hath sprung forth from this root which God hath firmly planted in the ground of the will, the limb of which has been elevated to a station which encompasses all existence. Therefore, exalted be He for this creation, the lofty, the blessed, the inaccessible, the mighty!

Tablet of the Branch
 
Old 05-14-2017, 08:04 PM   #3
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Continued,

“O Thou Who art the apple of Mine eye!” Bahá’u’lláh, in His own handwriting, thus addresses ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “My glory, the ocean of My loving-kindness, the sun of My bounty, the heaven of My mercy rest upon Thee. We pray God to illumine the world through Thy knowledge and wisdom, to ordain for Thee that which will gladden Thine heart and impart consolation to Thine eyes.” “The glory of God rest upon Thee,” He writes in another Tablet, “and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee; the fire of hell torment him who is Thine enemy.” “We have made Thee a shelter for all mankind,” He, in yet another Tablet, affirms, “a shield unto all who are in heaven and on earth, a stronghold for whosoever hath believed in God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. God grant that through Thee He may protect them, may enrich and sustain them, that He may inspire Thee with that which shall be a wellspring of wealth unto all created things, an ocean of bounty unto all men, and the dayspring of mercy unto all peoples.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the words of Bahá’u’lláh
 
Old 05-15-2017, 01:05 AM   #4
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Then Abdul'baha to Shoghi Effendi - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

"...O my loving friends! After the passing away of this wronged one, it is incumbent upon the Aghsán (Branches), the Afnán (Twigs) of the Sacred Lote-Tree, the Hands (pillars) of the Cause of God and the loved ones of the Abhá Beauty to turn unto Shoghi Effendi—the youthful branch branched from the two hallowed and sacred Lote-Trees and the fruit grown from the union of the two offshoots of the Tree of Holiness,—as he is the sign of God, the chosen branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, he unto whom all the Aghsán, the Afnán, the Hands of the Cause of God and His loved ones must turn. He is the Interpreter of the Word of God and after him will succeed the first-born of his lineal descendents....."

Shoghi Effendi has such inspiring writing as well, His vision of the structure of this Faith into the Future was astounding. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/

The 'World Order of Baha'u'llah' and 'God passes by' both beautiful works.


Regards Tony

Last edited by tonyfish58; 05-15-2017 at 01:09 AM.
 
Old 05-15-2017, 01:24 AM   #5
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Good morning Dhk413

Pleasure first. Welcome !! Welcome !! Welcome !!

When Romane first saw your post, he discovered in himself a stream of thoughts, emotions, attitudes. Most of these one could rightfully say were knee-jerk. For aiding me to identify at least a few of these reactions Romane must thank you, though it is certain there will be more to find over time.

Having had the day to carefully mull, contemplate, perhaps one is ready to speak forth his thoughts. Others have and will continue to provide quotes. This post should be considered more as another airing his thoughts as he thinks.

Romane's first question became evident early on: What is the importance of this consideration? Which led to: Doubt can be good, when it leads one to the truth and confirmation. Too much doubt, however, will destroy the soul and the spirit, leaving an empty shell with only the appearance of life.

Very quickly followed another question. Are those quoting the Master and the Guardian providing quotes apt to the circumstance and time and context? If not, then your doubts could be said perhaps to be vindicated, and they could easily be seen as moving the facts around to suit an opinion. If they are relevant, however, then the understanding these bring to the consultation indicates the quotes are important, regardless they come from the Words of Baha'u'llah and/or the Bab or not. In this, one draws a distinct distinction between Sacred Text and Authoritative Text. The Word of the Manifestation is always both Sacred and Authoritative, while, through the agency of the appointments made by Baha'u'llah and then after Him 'Abdu'l-Baha, makes the words of 'Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Authoritative, though not Sacred.

Romane will now use two words now which you will have heard on other occasions and to which you are very welcome to use two other positive words to make a negative: yeah. right.

Trust me.

Tomorrow (next week, next year, next decade, whenever) this puzzlement will fade into obscurity, and another will take its place. Welcome these. But do not stop there. Take that puzzlement, that doubt, that question, and utilise it as a diving board into available information to find for yourself the answers. In reality, when all points are considered, including the appropriateness of the quotes brought forward, you are likely to find that the answer lies somewhere between a yay and a nay. And likewise, that it is not "the community" but some individuals with whom the issue lays.

With warmest greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-15-2017, 05:01 AM   #6
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I've actually been thinking that we undervalue the writings of especially Abdu'l-Baha.

As far as the degree and station of the two Interpreters of the Baha'i Faith, while Shoghi Effendi may be essentially human (he himself says so), Abdu'l-Baha certainly has a station higher than human, being the Divine Mystery of God.

Of course Baha'u'llah's Writings remain the Scared Scripture of the Baha'i Faith, higher in rank than Abdu'l-Baha's... however at times the writings of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi are more specific and easier to comprehend.

What is more, Baha'u'llah often spoke in a way which His audience could understand. As we know, Abdu'l-Baha travelled to different parts of the world and was able to communicate these ideas to audiences with different levels of understanding. Thus it is very helpful to read what Abdu'l-Baha had to say to a University in the United States, which elaborate further at times than what Baha'u'llah revealed to a Shiite cleric. Of course, the converse may be true, in that perhaps the deeply religious audiences of the East could understand deeper mystical notions than the secular West.

Personally, Shoghi Effendi's detailed breakdown of the sequential events and milestones that must occur in humanity's collective journey to the Most Great Peace was very impactful to me, whereas while Baha'u'llah's ideas are highly seminal and formed the basis of all Baha'i understanding, they are not as specific on some topics.

In the end, yes, Baha'u'llah's Writings may stretch on for dispensations and of course I do believe that His Writings have more impact on the soul, being as you said the raw Word of God, but perhaps for us right now, on some topics, Adbu'l-Baha's and Shoghi Effendi's writings are more specific and have a lot of relevancy.

And as far as Abdu'l-Baha's place in the Faith I suggest this passage from Shoghi Effendi which is really a collection of references by Baha'u'llah about Him:
Bahá'í Reference Library - The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 131-140

But yeah, I guess in other cases we may undervalue Baha'u'llah's Writings.. there is nothing quite like reading Baha'u'llah's Writings for oneself, and certainly reading quotes from His Writings referenced in other works is not the same as reading the whole passage for oneself.

Last edited by divan9; 05-15-2017 at 05:06 AM. Reason: caveat
 
Old 05-15-2017, 08:13 AM   #7
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I now see what you mean about how he addressed all countries and all types of people and we can't find teachings like that in any other way. However, your comment about how specific his writings are is what I think is a problem. The way Baha'u'llah's writings are abstract and not specific and plain is why the teachings are able to mean different things to different people in different time periods. One concept I love about the Baha'i faith is religious truth is not absolute, it is relative. The absolute truth of past religions is why people become atheists and a big reason it is on the rise. People were unable to be themselves without being undervalued as a human being by strict believers. Abdu'l-Baha'i very black and white and specific writings are oversimplifying the teachings of the faith. This made people with slightly different interpretations and people in different cultures and circumstances seem straight up wrong and totally invalid even though their interpretation should be listened to and respected. People grow up in different cultures, time periods, and circumstances. Baha'u'llah's teachings are able to encompass all of those people. Abdu'l-Baha's teachings are exponentially less all encompassing because although very spiritual and intelligent only encompass certain situations during his lifetime are black and white statements.

I encourage somebody to give me some ideas and examples of situations where Baha'u'llah's writings are less helpful than Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendis and why. I want to see your perspective so I can understand and learn from it.
 
Old 05-15-2017, 11:20 AM   #8
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhk413 View Post
I now see what you mean about how he addressed all countries and all types of people and we can't find teachings like that in any other way. However, your comment about how specific his writings are is what I think is a problem. The way Baha'u'llah's writings are abstract and not specific and plain is why the teachings are able to mean different things to different people in different time periods. One concept I love about the Baha'i faith is religious truth is not absolute, it is relative. The absolute truth of past religions is why people become atheists and a big reason it is on the rise. People were unable to be themselves without being undervalued as a human being by strict believers. Abdu'l-Baha'i very black and white and specific writings are oversimplifying the teachings of the faith. This made people with slightly different interpretations and people in different cultures and circumstances seem straight up wrong and totally invalid even though their interpretation should be listened to and respected. People grow up in different cultures, time periods, and circumstances. Baha'u'llah's teachings are able to encompass all of those people. Abdu'l-Baha's teachings are exponentially less all encompassing because although very spiritual and intelligent only encompass certain situations during his lifetime are black and white statements.

I encourage somebody to give me some ideas and examples of situations where Baha'u'llah's writings are less helpful than Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendis and why. I want to see your perspective so I can understand and learn from it.
First of all Welcome Dhk413, great to see you here. Hi I am Tony from North Queensland Australia.

Please consider that it is not easy talking to a screen name that presents questions about one of the most important topics within the Baha'i Faith, when the forum members have no idea of who they are and of the intent. The reason is that on this Forum in the past, many screen names come in sheep's clothing, but were in reality wolves.

I come from a position that the Holy Writings from the Baha'i Faith that we hold to be Infallible Guidance come from the Bab and Baha'u'llah. This in turn was passed to Abdul'baha and then to Shoghi Effendi and on to the Universal House of Justice.

This assurance is because Baha'u'llah, besides His Will and Testament, delegated to Abdul'baha on many occasions the task of writing replies to questions asked of Him, that in itself is ample reason to hold in ones heart that Abdul'baha's Writings are of Baha'u'llah. Abdul'baha passed this confidence on to Shoghi Effendi. It is Shoghi Effendi that has told us what to hold as infallible from Him and that is Interpretation of the Writings of the Bab. Baha'u'llah and Abdul'baha. Interpretation ended with Shoghi Effendi, but the Universal House of Justice is empowered to use all these resources to offer to us the intent of al these writings, 100% assured of the Guidance of Baha'u'llah

You have Said

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhk413 View Post
I encourage somebody to give me some ideas and examples of situations where Baha'u'llah's writings are less helpful than Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendis and why. I want to see your perspective so I can understand and learn from it.
This is an unusual statement. All the Baha'i writings are the elixir for all Humanity in this age, how can any of those writings be less helpful than any other?

Each have the Will of God behind them and each of them reach into hearts that are as varied as there are Souls on this planet and Souls in the unseen worlds.

A story about Abdul'baha has a great reflection for you;


When He was here in America in 1912 He spoke in many places and, as we read these talks in the Promulgation of Universal Peace, it is very often noticeable how much He repeats Himself, approaching the point He wishes to make from many angles. One evening a woman, after telling Him how much she had enjoyed His Talk, complained of this. He smiled at her gently.

"And what is it I repeat?" He asked. Of course she couldn't tell Him.

(Taken from -STORIES OF ABDU'L-BAHA as told by Muriel Ives Barrow Newhall)

We all have a Lot to learn and the more we learn, I feel, that we find the Less we know. By that I mean, the knowledge we hold is not from us.

Regards Tony
 
Old 05-15-2017, 12:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhk413 View Post


I encourage somebody to give me some ideas and examples of situations where Baha'u'llah's writings are less helpful than Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendis and why. I want to see your perspective so I can understand and learn from it.
Bahais do not believe there would be any case that Bahaullah's Writings are less helpful than Abdulbaha.
The Bahais believe that, Abdulbaha was the infallible interpreter of the Words of Bahaullah.

For instance see, Some Answered Question, where Abdulbaha explains what Bahaullah means, when He wrote, 'I was but a man like others asleep upon My couch....'.
 
Old 05-15-2017, 07:54 PM   #10
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Good morning Dhk413

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhk413 View Post
I now see what you mean about how he addressed...
In the post of which the above is the opening snippet, one can see and easily understand your logic and reasoning. There are a couple of points, however, which though appearing valid on the surface provide ramifications which, to these eyes, have unspoken ramifications.

Quote:
... The way Baha'u'llah's writings are abstract and not specific and plain is why the teachings are able to mean different things to different people in different time periods. ...
This is both a great bounty, and at the same time a great danger.

The Words of the Prophets, if one looks historically, are typically in the less-specific mode. The end result has been fissure and the generation of the multitude of different sects. Not because of the Words of the Manifestation, but the application by individuals of absolutism and similar upon these words. The unity of each Faith became fragmented because one individual said something means "this" while another said "no, it means that".

This unbending attitude would likewise have overtaken the Baha'i Faith had it not been for the ongoing infallible guidance from 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. One need only look at the history of the Faith to prove this. (This could bring us into a discussion on the differences in infallibility between that which is that of the Manifestation, and that which is conferred on His appointee, and His appointee after Him. That for another time.)

Through the act of appointing 'Abdu'l-Baha as the Exemplar, the Authorised Interpreter, the Master and other of His titles, Baha'u'llah provided for the ongoing guidance of the Faith which bears His name. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas He specifically states that whatever is not understood in His Writings was to bereferred to 'Abdu'l-Baha. Through this ap[pointment of the Centre of the Covenant, the Baha'i Faith has been preserved from breaking up into varied views. Indeed, through that appointment Baha'u'llah the adherents learned to be able to share thier views, understanding that non was authoritative, understanding that the variant views were but aspects of the one Truth. Thus, the unity of the Fath was absolutely assured.

This role passed then to Shoghi Effendi as Guardian of the Faith. Once more after the passing of the Master an authoritative institution remained in place, one that again, absolutely assured the integrity and unity of the faith of God. Each successive step added to the body of clarification and understanding that allowed every individual the freedom to their own views while at the same time preserving the Faith from splintering.

Consider very carefully the attempts to divide this Faith during its entire history. Some few, a minute few, succumbed and thus we have groups who call themselves Baha'is but who, through breaking the Covenant are Baha'i in name only. A person can call themselves anything they wish, but Jesus said it clearly : "By their deeds ye shall know them." This same advice is replete through the Words of all the Manifestations, and all the Authoritative Figures

This same role, among other, is now performed through the Institution of the Universal House of Justice.

One last "thing":

Quote:
... The absolute truth of past religions is why people become atheists and a big reason it is on the rise. ...
Not one religion claims absolute truth. Not one. Their adherents? Now, that is another story. And why did these adherents find it so easy to break each of these Faiths into the many? Because there were some who agreed with their absolutism, and some who rejected it and accepted another. How many absolutes are their? Well, there are innumerable absolutes, but only One Absolute. People chose to follow absolutes and thus lost sight of the Absolute. But this, then, becomes yet another story best left for another day, another thread.

With my warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-15-2017, 10:28 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dhk413 View Post
The religion is so new, yet it's already being watered down right off the bat.
I think this is the central thought of your entry. And, indeed, I understand you.

Well, I'd say that Bahá'u'lláh revealed our Faith, 'Abdu'l-Bahá expounded it, Shoghi Effendi edited it, and the Universal House of Justice maintains it.

When I was new to the Faith, I felt that I understood Bahá'u'lláh's texts. Nowadays, after having translated some ten of our books, I feel that I understand nothing. But I am struck by the continuity of the texts written by each of these sources. Sometimes, I'm amazed by the wisdom of the messages from the UHJ. At other times, I find words by Shoghi Effendi that confirm thoughts that I've had from the very beginning. Then, there are times when I feel that 'Abdu'l-Bahá is just fantastic. Previously, I thought that He was a kind of kind, bearded Santa Claus. After having studied His texts in depth, I'm awestruck by His sharp mind. But I don't understand Bahá'u'lláh any longer.

Best

from

gnat
 
Old 05-16-2017, 07:24 AM   #12
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One reflection about the "value" we give to the scriptures.
Value is not intrinsic to things. It is rather relational. I mean, it has to do in part with what the Scripture says and in part with what you need to hear at a given moment and place. A glass of water has more "value" than a diamond for a man left alone in a desert.

An advice received from a friend in this Forum can have more "value" to me than a given quote from Baha'u'llah, if that advice is addressing a very specific spiritual need of mine, that the quote from His Blessed Beauty is not. In such case my friend's advice would not be "overvalued". It would be just valued in its fair dimension. My friend is also a Manifestation of God inasmuch as she connects with God.

This may be another implication of the "relativity of the truth" in revelation. It is relative to the needs of the person it is directed to. It is contextual.

Last edited by camachoe; 05-16-2017 at 07:27 AM.
 
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