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Old 08-03-2017, 12:53 PM   #1
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Cleanliness of garments

My friends

I have a question on the meaning of this passage and I apologize in advance if it is too trivial:

“Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him.”
(Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 47)

I interpret this passage as making sure our soul is clean before praying (e.g. asking forgiveness to the person we have hurted and repairing the damage when possible). The rationale being that if we kept an unconfessed sin in our conciousness, the uttered words would not be consistent with our actions, and our prayer would be useless.

I derive this from some texts in the Bible where garments "without a spot or wrinkle" are a symbol of a pure heart. (Ephesius 5:27, Apocalypsis 3:4)

I am asking this question because a ritual of changing clothes for a prayer would not be practical for many people and circumstances and because our friend Earth has made me aware that there are spiritual layers of meaning behind the apparent laws in the Aqdas.

Is there any interpretation known from the Master, Guardian or UHJ?
Any personal interpretation from any of you?

Last edited by camachoe; 08-03-2017 at 12:57 PM.
 
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Old 08-03-2017, 01:09 PM   #2
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I very much agree with your spiritual interpretation. I do not know of any explanations regarding this matter from The master or the UHJ, but recently I read a related poem in Masnavi (the Mystic book Written by Rumi). The story goes like this:

Once Aisha (Mohammad's wife) tells Him:
"Mohammad, why do you say your prayers in just any place? why do you say your prayers in dirty places? in some places you say prayers children have been playing and they have made the place so dirty (as children usually forget to go to wc!). But you do not care and say your prayers in any dirty or clean places. why is it so? are we not commanded to say our prayers only in a clean place?"
Mohammad answers:
"yes, of course we must only say our prayers in a clean place. but the real place of the prayers is one's heart. I say my prayers all the times in my heart. even at times when my physical body is performing the ritual in a physical place, my heart is in prayer. I have cleaned my heart from all dirt, and now it is not more important where I physically say my prayers."

Now, this story, to me, is very much similar to cleanliness of the garments. God does not care if our cloths is not perfectly clean, and it does not make any difference in the cleanliness of our hearts. there can be people who wear stainless, extremely clean cloths and yet in their hearts there is nothing but dirt and blackness. the real garment is the soul and the heart.
 
Old 08-03-2017, 01:20 PM   #3
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Haha!! A profound observation on a seemingly minor passage!! I always enjoy your posts, Camachoe.
 
Old 08-03-2017, 01:40 PM   #4
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I interpret this as "Keep your clothes tidy"



from

gnat

Last edited by gnat; 08-03-2017 at 02:31 PM.
 
Old 08-05-2017, 01:44 AM   #5
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Greetings Camachoe,

Thank you for your kind words, but I am just a simple minded Bahá'í with no more authority than anyone else on this forum.

In a state of prayer we commune with God. In the same way we dress according to the occasion, the inference in the quote that you have shared with us is that we dress to commune with God too. In an attempt to be of assistance to you in this matter, I can only take you on a journey to allow you to see how I have come to personally relate to this law. To keep it manageable I have limited it to three issues.


Issue 1. The persecution of Manifestations of God

In the Síyáh-Chál, the dungeon where Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned with a small group of other Bábís, the conditions have been described. In Shoghi Effendi's translation of The Dawn Breakers. He writes:

"We were all huddled together in one cell, our feet in stocks, and around our necks fastened the most galling of chains. The air we breathed was laden with the foulest impurities, while the floor on which we sat was covered with filth and infested with vermin. No ray of light was allowed to penetrate that pestilential dungeon or to warm its icy-coldness. We were placed in two rows, each facing the other. We had taught them to repeat certain verses which, every night, they chanted with extreme fervour. ‘God is sufficient unto me; He verily is the All-sufficing!’ one row would intone, while the other would reply: ‘In Him let the trusting trust.’ The chorus of these gladsome voices would continue to peal out until the early hours of the morning. Their reverberation would fill the dungeon, and, piercing its massive walls, would reach the ears of Násiri‘d-Dín Sháh, whose palace was not far distant from the place where we were imprisoned. ‘What means this sound?’ he was reported to have exclaimed. ‘It is the anthem the Bábís are intoning in their prison,’ they replied. The Shah made no further remarks, nor did he attempt to restrain the enthusiasm his prisoners, despite the horrors of their confinement, continued to display."

To help you appreciate what "God is sufficient unto me" sounds like when chanted, here is a rendition from the 1992 Bahá'í World Congress. You are going to hear this collectively chanted within some Bahá'í meetings. Therefore, it might be helpful to become more familiar with it. Try to imagine yourself in the Síyáh-Chál in those deplorable conditions as you chant in accompaniment: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=l5VkfjLInVM (There are clearer copies of this rendition available, but the phonetics used within this clip might be better to help get you started. Note them down and then locate a better audio copy. After a few hours of doing this you wil, begin to understand how why the soul is not governed by our personal state).

Bahá'u'lláh first received an indication of His Revelation while imprisoned in the Síyáh-Chál. As a child, 'Abdu'l-Bahá was taken to see His Father while He was granted some reprieve in the open air. On seeing His Father in such a condition, He fainted. It greatly displeased Bahá'u'lláh that 'Abdul-Bahá had been permitted to witness Him in such a state of dress. In this respect you can imagine for yourself the extent to the condition of His garbs as He was weighted down in chains. Because of this, I have personally come to accept this law as being rather like a transubstantiation. By presenting ourselves in a state of cleanliness we are honouring the way that Bahá'u'lláh endured being persecuted for us.


Issue 2. The persecution of the believers in Iran

Within Iran, Bábís and Bahá'ís have been subjected to persecution, torture and execution. The Bábís bore the brunt of these. However, even today, Bahá'ís continue to face persecution, torture and execution. There have been photographs released that show the condition of the victims after they were murdered. The term martyr can only be applied by the Supreme Institution because it is a specific religious station. This is why I prefer the terms like executed or murdered because because one does not need to be a member of the Bahá'í Faith to fully understand the significance of the term. In these photographs it is evident that the victims were denied a number of human rights as their clothing is often soiled in blood.

A few decades ago I was very much moved by gifts of flowers sent to Bahá'í National Communities around the world from the Bahá'í prisoners in Iran a few years after the Islamic Revolution had instigated the closing of all Bahá'í Institutions within Iran, an act in itself that had lead to arousing hostilities against the Bahá'ís. They had raised the money for these flowers by the making and selling of soap within their prisons. Since this time I have found it impossible to attend Bahá'í events without being clean and well presented in their honour too. Indeed I cannot even glimpse a bar of soap without thinking of the Bahá'ís in Iran and the way they have been forced to endure persecution in the name of Bahá'u'lláh.


Issue 3. The deprivation of clean water for the impoverished of humanity

Finally, and in a wider context, this law also serves to remind us of the people that do not have convenient access to clean water. So we need to be mindful that some people are deprived of the most basic resource necessary for human life. Without clean water how can one maintain the same degree of hygiene and cleanliness as the minority that have regular access to clean water and laundry facilities? To more fully appreciate this subject, the United Nations has only recently started to address this concern. This of course indicates how ignorant human society has remained about this issue since the time Bahá'u'lláh promoted His Teachings as being for the betterment of mankind. Their website on water can be found here Water | United Nations

When I wash to pray and adorn new clothes I also do so in honour of those that do not have the same opportunities as myself. To allow oneself to become unclean and dress in soiled clothing when one has access to clean water and modern laundry facilities is not only negligent, it demonstrates that one does not value the importance of clean water. People that do not value clean water need to spend time travelling in countries where it is not available. Only then can they better appreciate the special value we should all hold towards water. Without this spiritual association with fellow human beings, how can any Bahá'í pray with a heart that has truly encompassed the idea of the Oneness of Mankind?


Conclusion

With these three simple examples it is already evident that this law cannot be applied in a literal sense by all people at this time. Only by those that need to readjust their consciences towards the promotion of the Oneness of Mankind.

For instance:

1. How come God communed with Bahá'u'lláh in the Síyáh-Chál when He was forced to endure such harsh treatment, His Son fainted on seeing Him?

2. How come God communes with the Bahá'í prisoners within Iran when their state of dress is dictated by their captives?

3. How come God communes with the poorest people to live on our planet who are deprived of the right to clean water?

How do these views contrast with the wider amount of material available within the Bahá'í Writings on the subject of prayer?

The Bahá'í Writings offered within The Kitáb-i-Aqdas are much more than laws. They can infuse us with unique religious and social insights pertaining to all of humanity. This is what happens when we strive to unconditionally embrace His Cause.

Ultimately, it was the Bahá'í prisoners of Iran that allowed me to open my heart to better value the spiritual importance of soap and water. It was from their loving kindness, deep wisdom and sacrifice, that people like myself were afforded the opportunity to understand that these great souls were now placing their hopes and aspirations in people like us to take the Bahá'í Faith forward. This is why it should be considered both a privilege and duty for any person that has the luxury of fresh water and soap to maintain a satisfactory standard of personal hygiene and cleanliness, both in body and in clothing. If a person has these things and chooses not to use them, then what message are they sending to the people of the world that do not have these things? Ponder on this and you will have your answer.

Earth

Last edited by Earth; 08-05-2017 at 05:58 AM.
 
Old 08-05-2017, 04:57 AM   #6
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While a detailed historical perspective is interesting and relevant (thank you Earth), my simple take on cleanliness of garments is that we should try avoid going out in public or saying prayers in very dirty clothes. If we get them very dirty during work or play, change clothes whenever practical when we are done with that activity. Also if we stop and say a prayer during that activity, we would certainly not worry about having dirty clothes.

I think it would be contrary to other teachings of Baha'u'llah to take that teaching to an extreme, and insist on changing into freshly washed clothes immediately before prayer, or to make others feel bad if they are not wearing new or clean clothes. In general, Baha'is tend to dress very casually at Baha'i gatherings at least in the West, more casually than at most churches. The point is not to show off in front of others with fancy clothes, on the other hand, if we can show reverence to God by dressing in clean clothes then we should do so.
 
Old 08-05-2017, 04:29 PM   #7
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While a detailed historical perspective is interesting and relevant (thank you Earth), my simple take on cleanliness of garments is that we should try avoid going out in public or saying prayers in very dirty clothes. If we get them very dirty during work or play, change clothes whenever practical when we are done with that activity. Also if we stop and say a prayer during that activity, we would certainly not worry about having dirty clothes.

I think it would be contrary to other teachings of Baha'u'llah to take that teaching to an extreme, and insist on changing into freshly washed clothes immediately before prayer, or to make others feel bad if they are not wearing new or clean clothes. In general, Baha'is tend to dress very casually at Baha'i gatherings at least in the West, more casually than at most churches. The point is not to show off in front of others with fancy clothes, on the other hand, if we can show reverence to God by dressing in clean clothes then we should do so.
I simply do not understand why it would matter to God how we dress or what we look like. Does God also care if we are fat or thin, what kind of hairdo we have, whether we wear makeup and jewelry?

How does our physical appearance show reverence to God? I can understand personal hygiene and cleanliness of clothes for our own sake but I do not understand why it would matter to God what we look like. Moreover, what is more important if we have to make a choice, doing laundry or teaching the Cause?

I have a problem with certain people who are vain about their appearance. What does it say about someone if they spend all their time on themselves, having to look perfect? All that time, money, and energy expended is that much less time money and energy left for anything to do with God and other people.

Maybe I am seeing this completely wrong, so someone please offer a different perspective if you have one.

Also, does it ever even occur to these people how others might feel who do not want to spend all their time on their appearance or cannot look as good as they look even if they tried, or do they only think about themselves? I guess it is their right to look good if they want to and they are not responsible for how others feel as a result, but somehow this seems like a selfish attitude.

I feel the same way about people who are flamboyant in other ways, going around talking about how happy they are, how great life is... Does it even occur to them that other people are not so happy, and how they might make others feel? I guess not, since they are always happy.
 
Old 08-07-2017, 08:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post

How does our physical appearance show reverence to God? I can understand personal hygiene and cleanliness of clothes for our own sake but I do not understand why it would matter to God what we look like. Moreover, what is more important if we have to make a choice, doing laundry or teaching the Cause?

I have a problem with certain people who are vain about their appearance. What does it say about someone if they spend all their time on themselves, having to look perfect? All that time, money, and energy expended is that much less time money and energy left for anything to do with God and other people.

Maybe I am seeing this completely wrong, so someone please offer a different perspective if you have one.
Hi Trailerbrazer

I see it this way: beauty on the outside is a result of beauty in the inside. Not the other way around.

The vain people you are referring to try to disguise their solitude and unhappiness by spending a lot of time on their look. They are thirsty of the approval of others, but they do not love themselves in the first place.

People who are truly happy, though, spend some time on their look because they are happy, not in order to be happy.

To your question: Does our physical appearance show reverence to God? I would answer "YES".

Look at the Houses of Worship around the world and their sober yet exquisite ornament...
Think how much money, time and interest the Friends have given to building these structures. They have done it not to obtain approval from God... not to please Him... but to express something that is already inside our souls.

Well, if this is the level of attention we pay in an inanimate building of concrete, glass and wood, how much interest will we pay in our body, a living temple of the Glory of God?

Last edited by camachoe; 08-07-2017 at 08:15 AM.
 
Old 08-07-2017, 12:54 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Hi Trailerbrazer

I see it this way: beauty on the outside is a result of beauty in the inside. Not the other way around.

The vain people you are referring to try to disguise their solitude and unhappiness by spending a lot of time on their look. They are thirsty of the approval of others, but they do not love themselves in the first place.

People who are truly happy, though, spend some time on their look because they are happy, not in order to be happy.

To your question: Does our physical appearance show reverence to God? I would answer "YES".

Look at the Houses of Worship around the world and their sober yet exquisite ornament...
Think how much money, time and interest the Friends have given to building these structures. They have done it not to obtain approval from God... not to please Him... but to express something that is already inside our souls.

Well, if this is the level of attention we pay in an inanimate building of concrete, glass and wood, how much interest will we pay in our body, a living temple of the Glory of God?
Love the advice given. Love your heart

So many good thoughts presented. The Tablet of Purity is a good thing to consider as well.

Bahá'à Reference Library - Bahá’à World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Section Only), Pages 333-336

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-07-2017, 04:13 PM   #10
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Hi camachoe,

I see it this way: beauty on the outside is a result of beauty in the inside. Not the other way around.

I fully agree with that.

The vain people you are referring to try to disguise their solitude and unhappiness by spending a lot of time on their look. They are thirsty of the approval of others, but they do not love themselves in the first place.

I think that is true if people are overly concerned with how they look to other people. It is some kind of insecurity they have about themselves. That is it from a psychological standpoint, but it might also be a spiritual problem if they are overly selfish.

People who are truly happy, though, spend some time on their look because they are happy, not in order to be happy.

I agree with that as well. But does it mean that someone is not truly happy just because they do not spend time on their appearance? Maybe they just do not consider it that important, over and above being presentable and clean.

I guess it is just a matter of personal preference and what people value. I do not take issue with people who obviously spend a lot of time on their appearance and look very nice. However, when they talk about God and how important God is to them, I consider it hypocritical to spend that much time on self, when there are so many other pressing problems in the world, so many people in need. I know it is not my place to judge anyone, but I cannot help having an opinion.

The “context” here is a Christian who believes that Jesus is coming to fix everything that is wrong in the world and that we have no responsibility to do anything at all, because Jesus is coming. Maybe I should feel sorry for people who believe that but I find it very difficult, especially when someone is so haughty about their beliefs and believes that everyone who does not believe in Jesus the same way they do is going to hell... Meanwhile, they can eat, drink and be merry because they are saved and forgiven and have a guarantee of heaven... This of course fits nicely together with excessive attention to their physical appearance, since they have plenty of time for this.

Sorry but this is my Achilles’ heel. I feel much more of an affinity to nonbelievers than to adherents to this particular Christian belief because many nonbelievers actually “care” about the condition of the world and other people. A belief in God is not necessary to be a good person.

To your question: Does our physical appearance show reverence to God? I would answer "YES".

I do respect your opinion because I consider you a lot more spiritual than I am. Maybe you can further elaborate upon that and why you think that shows reverence to God. I cannot see how it would matter to God what we look like if our bodies are just a temporary vehicle that houses our souls, which is who we truly are and the only thing that will go with us when we die and wing our flight to the spiritual world.

Look at the Houses of Worship around the world and their sober yet exquisite ornament...
Think how much money, time and interest the Friends have given to building these structures. They have done it not to obtain approval from God... not to please Him... but to express something that is already inside our souls.


Yes, think of it, and think of other ways the money could have been spent, such as for teaching the Faith and helping the Cause to move forward before more people in this world suffer needlessly. Granted, the Houses of Worship are supposed to be “vehicles” to help attract people to the Faith and they also have another purpose. In the future they will include philanthropic institutions like schools, hospitals, hospices and other dependencies dedicated to the social, humanitarian, educational and scientific advancement of humanity. In that sense I can understand the need for them, but more than one nonbeliever has questioned why we spend this much money on a building when poor people are suffering all over the world.

Well, if this is the level of attention we pay in an inanimate building of concrete, glass and wood, how much interest will we pay in our body, a living temple of the Glory of God?

I do always appreciate your exuberance abut all I can say is to each his or her own. I think we all have biases what come from past experiences in life but that should not be a cause for division or strife. Personally, I do not think that what our bodies look like is that important although our health is important. However, consider what Abdu’l-Baha said about that:

“If the health and well-being of the body be expended in the path of the Kingdom, this is very acceptable and praiseworthy; and if it is expended to the benefit of the human world in general—even though it be to their material benefit and be a means of doing good—that is also acceptable. But if the health and welfare of man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal plane, and in devilish pursuits—then disease is better than such health; nay, death itself is preferable to such a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for serving the Kingdom. I hope thou mayest attain a perfect insight, an inflexible resolution, a complete health and spiritual and physical strength in order that thou mayest drink from the fountain of eternal life and be assisted by the spirit of divine confirmation.” Bahá’í World Faith, p. 376

Last edited by Trailblazer; 08-07-2017 at 04:16 PM.
 
Old 08-09-2017, 02:08 AM   #11
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I simply do not understand why it would matter to God how we dress or what we look like.

Maybe I am seeing this completely wrong, so someone please offer a different perspective if you have one.
.
As to cleanliness, the Bab says: "Nothing is more dearly loved in the Bayan than purity..."

Of course, accepting the Manifestation means: He knows what He's talking about whether I understand it or not...

How does a man court his beloved, or go to his bride on their wedding night?
God is our Best-Beloved.

If we knew... how God sees us, and for our own sake, wants to see cleanliness... anyway, thats what comes to mind. In body and clothing.

In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, it does say that if water is not available for ablutions, to repeat five times: "In the name of God, the Most Pure, the Most Pure."
 
Old 08-09-2017, 02:53 PM   #12
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Maybe you can further elaborate upon that and why you think that shows reverence to God.

To me, it shows reverence because it honors that God has given to me to make me human. He created me to yearn for beauty and any perfection, just as He created me to yearn for knowledge.

The drive for beauty is an exclusive human trait, not seen in other species on earth. Art (either the art of a hairdresser or the art of Michelangelo) comes from the rational soul, not from the animal flesh.

Challenged by a harsh winter, we could find our way to a cave to stay there and keep warm. That would do the trick... but still it would not be a distinctive behaviour of a being with a soul: a bear or a coyote could figure out how to do it too.
It is when we fill the walls of that cave with paintings that harmonize in colors and meanings, and place a table and a vase with flowers on it, that we pass from animality to humanhood.

Perhaps it is no coincidence than "Blessed Beauty" is such a frequent divine Attribute and Name, perhaps only second to "Glory/Light" (Bahá) and "Love".

In the same way that Love and Light from God comes from inside, and reflects unavoidably on the outside, Beauty from God originates in our heart, but its effects can't be stopped from showing in how we talk, walk, dress, eat, act... and certainly in how we look.

Hope this helps.
Thank you for this candid exchange, Trailblazer!!
I guess that many of your Achiles heels are also mine!

Last edited by camachoe; 08-09-2017 at 02:57 PM.
 
Old 08-09-2017, 09:28 PM   #13
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Hi Dale, Thanks for your response.

As to cleanliness, the Bab says: "Nothing is more dearly loved in the Bayan than purity..."

Do you know the actual context of that statement? Purity can have more than one meaning.

Purity definition
1 Freedom from adulteration or contamination
2 Freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/purity

Of course, accepting the Manifestation means: He knows what He's talking about whether I understand it or not...

However, if we do not understand it, how can we know what He is talking about?

Besides that, it is my understanding that we are not to be following the teachings or the laws of the Bab, but rather what Baha’u’llah has set forth. I looked up purity in Gleanings and this is the most salient quote I found:

“The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High.” Gleanings, pp. 156-157

It might then behoove us to try to understand what purity means in that context. From the other quotes I read, I think that purity of heart is more important than purity of body. However, the two are related because if we are attached to things of the flesh that affects our heart.

“Say: He is not to be numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or fixeth his heart on things of the earth. He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity…. And if he met the fairest and most comely of women, he would not feel his heart seduced by the least shadow of desire for her beauty. Such an one, indeed, is the creation of spotless chastity. Thus instructeth you the Pen of the Ancient of Days, as bidden by your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.”
Gleanings, p. 118


How does a man court his beloved, or go to his bride on their wedding night?
God is our Best-Beloved.

If we knew... how God sees us, and for our own sake, wants to see cleanliness... anyway, thats what comes to mind. In body and clothing.


The way I interpret this whole thing about cleanliness is that God wants us to be clean for our own benefit, not for His benefit, because God needs nothing from us for Himself.

“Their belief or disbelief in My Cause can neither profit nor harm Me. We summon them wholly for the sake of God. He, verily, can afford to dispense with all creatures.” Gleanings, p. 85

“Consider the mercy of God and His gifts. He enjoineth upon you that which shall profit you, though He Himself can well dispense with all creatures.” Gleanings, p. 140

“Your Lord, the God of mercy, can well dispense with all creatures. Nothing whatever can either increase or diminish the things He doth possess.” Gleanings, p. 148
 
Old 08-09-2017, 09:51 PM   #14
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Greetings camachoe,

To me, it shows reverence because it honors that God has given to me to make me human. He created me to yearn for beauty and any perfection, just as He created me to yearn for knowledge.

The drive for beauty is an exclusive human trait, not seen in other species on earth. Art (either the art of a hairdresser or the art of Michelangelo) comes from the rational soul, not from the animal flesh.


I agree with this in principle, but when it comes to the physical body, I think people can focus so much on the outside that they miss what is on the inside. I have what one would call “history” with personal issues related to this so obviously that affects how I view this.

That said, the beauty in my surroundings, where I live, the beauty of nature, trees, flowers, plants and animals, has more of a positive effect upon me than beauty of the physical body. My house and yard is a virtual train wreck and it really affects my spirit, but I do not have any time to do anything about it right now, so I have to live with it! ~~ I just look forward to going to work to my nice clean office.

In the same way that Love and Light from God comes from inside, and reflects unavoidably on the outside, Beauty from God originates in our heart, but its effects can't be stopped from showing in how we talk, walk, dress, eat, act... and certainly in how we look.

I try to talk and act in a Godly manner, but as with the house and yard, I do not have time to tend to my physical appearance. I am presentable and clean and that is the best I can hope for... Other things matter more... I have work and a three hour bike commute daily, nine cats and other outdoor animals to care for, and I have posting on four forums that takes all the rest of my time. In short, I always put other people and animals before myself, so what I look like, or any other activities I might actually enjoy for myself goes to the bottom of the list. I hoped that would change some, but now I got myself involved in a new forum where I can talk Baha’i, so I consider that a responsibility to Baha’u’llah.

Hope this helps.
Thank you for this candid exchange, Trailblazer!!
I guess that many of your Achiles heels are also mine!


Yes, your posts always help even though they make me feel less spiritual by comparison... me and God are just not on that good of terms.

I am not sure which Achiles heel we share.
 
Old 08-10-2017, 06:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
In short, I always put other people and animals before myself, so what I look like, or any other activities I might actually enjoy for myself goes to the bottom of the list. I hoped that would change some...
Please get yourself on top of the list!

I read from Abdul Bahá (but can't find the quotation now, perhaps some friend can help out) that there are two different ways to understand the "self".

One "self" refers to your identity: you as a unique manifestation of God in a particular set of talents and experiencies. This is your real self, the one you are responsible for cultivating, enriching, and adorning with all perfections. God will make you accountable for this (remember the parable of the talents) and reward you in the most personal level, as your identity will live forever.

The other "self" refers to an illusion, the "self" that isolates you from your connection to others. The one that deceives you into thinking you can achieve happiness by ignoring or exploiting your fellowmen, animals and the resources of the planet... This is your personal Satan, the source of all misery. This is the self you must die to, if you want genuine life.

So everywhere in the Teachings we read about the death of the self, or preferring other's well-being over ourselves, the Teachings refer to this second self. When Jesus says: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" he is saying "For whoever desires life for her true self must die to her illusory self".

Now, is the body illusory or real? You can take it both ways as well.
  • As a real thing, it is part of your here and now, it is the vehicle for all the experiences that are shaping your soul and the vehicle through which your soul is shaping the world around you. As a real thing you take good care of it and make it an ambassador of the beauty of your soul.
  • As an illusory thing, nevertheless, the body betrays our expectations: physical pleasures, that we hoped to be always there to pamper us, fade away. Our bodies, that we hoped to sustain our self-esteem, get old, sick, and finally decay and disappear.

If we cling to our bodies and their pleasures, we are bound to suffer and miss what is crucial... and if we treat them with disdain, we are bound to suffer and miss what is crucial as well!

The challenge for all of us is to place our true self on top of our laundry list, and leave the illusory self at the bottom.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-10-2017 at 07:31 AM.
 
Old 08-10-2017, 10:48 PM   #16
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
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Greetings again camachoe,

Please get yourself on top of the list!

My lower material nature would like to but my higher spiritual nature says no.

On another forum, I was once asked how I would define these two different natures, according to the Baha’i Faith, and I wrote this up:

What I consider our spiritual nature: Positive character attributes and virtues, wisdom, honesty, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries, justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, courage and fortitude, the respect for rights of others, the sacrifice of one’s life for the good of all people, and kindness and esteem for all people.... Obviously those are realized in the context of relationships and experiences.

What I would consider our material nature would be absence or opposite of these qualities: Negative character attributes, ignorance, lack of intellectual perception, lack of interest in science, injustice, discrimination, dishonesty, malevolence, cowardice, lack of fortitude, no respect for rights of others, self-centeredness, selfishness, and cruelty and lack of esteem for other people.... Those could be realized in the context of relationships and experiences and I would not consider that person spiritual.

As such, I consider self-centeredness and selfishness part of my lower material nature.

“Thine eye is My trust, suffer not the dust of vain desires to becloud its luster. Thine ear is a sign of My bounty, let not the tumult of unseemly motives turn it away from My Word that encompasseth all creation. Thine heart is My treasury, allow not the treacherous hand of self to rob thee of the pearls which I have treasured therein. Thine hand is a symbol of My loving-kindness, hinder it not from holding fast unto My guarded and hidden Tablets….” Gleanings, p. 322

“O Shaykh, O thou who hast surrendered thy will to God! By self-surrender and perpetual union with God is meant that men should merge their will wholly in the Will of God, and regard their desires as utter nothingness beside His Purpose. Whatsoever the Creator commandeth His creatures to observe, the same must they diligently, and with the utmost joy and eagerness, arise and fulfil. They should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal.” Gleanings, p. 337

“It behoveth thee to consecrate thyself to the Will of God. Whatsoever hath been revealed in His Tablets is but a reflection of His Will. So complete must be thy consecration, that every trace of worldly desire will be washed from thine heart. This is the meaning of true unity.” Gleanings, p. 338

“Say: Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self, and purify them from all attachment to anything besides Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it. Say: Were all created things to be entirely divested of the veil of worldly vanity and desire, the Hand of God would in this Day clothe them, one and all, with the robe “He doeth whatsoever He willeth in the kingdom of creation,” that thereby the sign of His sovereignty might be manifested in all things. Exalted then be He, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Almighty, the Supreme Protector, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.” Gleanings, pp. 294-295

“How high the reward of him that hath not deprived himself of so great a bounty, nor failed to recognize the beauty of his Best-Beloved in this, His new attire.Watch over yourselves, for the Evil One is lying in wait, ready to entrap you. Gird yourselves against his wicked devices, and, led by the light of the name of the All-Seeing God, make your escape from the darkness that surroundeth you. Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self. The Evil One is he that hindereth the rise and obstructeth the spiritual progress of the children of men.” Gleanings, p. 94

Note that Baha’u’llah says that The Evil One is lying in wait... that is what Baha’u’llah refers to as our “satanic self” or our lower selfish nature that is attached to worldly desires.... that is how I interpret it anyhow.

One "self" refers to your identity: you as a unique manifestation of God in a particular set of talents and experiencies. This is your real self, the one you are responsible for cultivating, enriching, and adorning with all perfections. God will make you accountable for this (remember the parable of the talents) and reward you in the most personal level, as your identity will live forever.

The other "self" refers to an illusion, the "self" that isolates you from your connection to others. The one that deceives you into thinking you can achieve happiness by ignoring or exploiting your fellowmen, animals and the resources of the planet... This is your personal Satan, the source of all misery. This is the self you must die to, if you want genuine life.
The way you parse it out is indeed valid, false self (your illusory self) vs. true self (your real identity).


So everywhere in the Teachings we read about the death of the self, or preferring other's well-being over ourselves, the Teachings refer to this second self.

However, I do not parse it out this way... To me self is self, so to spend too much time thinking about myself, even my true self, is selfish, Imo. In other words, to spend time cultivating, enriching, and adorning myself with perfections or to think in terms of getting a personal reward in this life or the afterlife is selfish to my way of thinking.

When Jesus says: "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it" he is saying "For whoever desires life for her true self must die to her illusory self".

Matthew 16:24-26 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

What is on this website is how I interpret those verses, except that I would substitute Baha’u’llah.

Let him deny himself...... We must deny ourselves absolutely, we must not admire our own shadow, nor gratify our own humour; we must not lean to our own understanding, nor seek our own things, nor be our own end. We must deny ourselves comparatively; we must deny ourselves for Christ, and his will and glory, and the service of his interest in the world; we must deny ourselves for our brethren, and for their good; and we must deny ourselves for ourselves, deny the appetites of the body for the benefit of the soul.
https://www.biblegateway.com/resourc....24-Matt.16.28

The challenge for all of us is to place our true self on top of our laundry list, and leave the illusory self at the bottom.

I would say it this way: The challenge for all of us is to place God on top of our laundry list, and leave our self at the bottom.
 
Old 08-11-2017, 08:47 AM   #17
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From: Mexico
Posts: 181
I'm drinking a cup of coffee right now, as I type on the computer. It's 10:46 AM, time of Mexico City.
A soft, delicious blend of toasted grains from South America is giving forth waves of aromatic bliss around my nose and waves of warmth across my whole body.

Is this pleasure coming from God or from my lower nature?

If it is coming from God, I must thank Him for the coffe beans, for the people who invented the coffe maker, and use this sharpened, cheered up mindset stimulated by the molecules of caffeine, to work hard and produce good for me and for my fellowmen in the world.

If it is coming from my lower nature, though, I must stop and put the cup aside, forget the sensation, and concentrate in whatever can be of direct service to my fellowmen, and give up any further attempt to pamper myself with the pleasures of caffeine.

What am I supposed to do, then?
 
Old 08-11-2017, 11:23 AM   #18
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Joined: Jul 2017
From: Kettering, Ohio USA
Posts: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
I'm drinking a cup of coffee right now, as I type on the computer. It's 10:46 AM, time of Mexico City.
A soft, delicious blend of toasted grains from South America is giving forth waves of aromatic bliss around my nose and waves of warmth across my whole body.

Is this pleasure coming from God or from my lower nature?

If it is coming from God, I must thank Him for the coffe beans, for the people who invented the coffe maker, and use this sharpened, cheered up mindset stimulated by the molecules of caffeine, to work hard and produce good for me and for my fellowmen in the world.

If it is coming from my lower nature, though, I must stop and put the cup aside, forget the sensation, and concentrate in whatever can be of direct service to my fellowmen, and give up any further attempt to pamper myself with the pleasures of caffeine.

What am I supposed to do, then?
If the pleasure causes you to forget God, then set it aside. But there's no reason why it should.
 
Old 08-11-2017, 11:27 PM   #19
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Joined: Oct 2014
From: Stockholm
Posts: 1,600
Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
I'm drinking a cup of coffee right now, as I type on the computer. It's 10:46 AM, time of Mexico City.
A soft, delicious blend of toasted grains from South America is giving forth waves of aromatic bliss around my nose and waves of warmth across my whole body.

Is this pleasure coming from God or from my lower nature?

If it is coming from God, I must thank Him for the coffe beans, for the people who invented the coffe maker, and use this sharpened, cheered up mindset stimulated by the molecules of caffeine, to work hard and produce good for me and for my fellowmen in the world.

If it is coming from my lower nature, though, I must stop and put the cup aside, forget the sensation, and concentrate in whatever can be of direct service to my fellowmen, and give up any further attempt to pamper myself with the pleasures of caffeine.

What am I supposed to do, then?
I believe that a great number of people would be scared stiff if we Bahá'ís were to impose a regime of asceticism and austerity on ourselves, asking themselves "These people talk about life after death, but do they believe in life before death?"


gnat
 
Old 08-12-2017, 03:08 AM   #20
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From: Earth
Posts: 160
Greetings Trailblazer,

Quotes can be difficult to reason with. However, we are all intuitively capable of coming to appreciate the value of the human condition. We should never undermine our intuition because it is the foundation of our common sense.

The opening quote used by Camachoe comes from verse 76. He has chosen to use the Authorised translations of 1953-1992. There are of course other translations he might have chosen to use. The text of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas will continue to stimulate new and fresh insights; even in Arabic. So while verse 76 contains: "Should the garb of anyone be visibly sullied, his prayers shall not ascend to God, and the celestial Concourse will turn away from him." In verse 74, with regards to "Cleave ye unto the cord of refinement with such tenacity as to allow no trace of dirt to be seen upon your garments." Bahá'u'lláh then goes on to write: "Whoso falleth short of this standard with good reason shall incur no blame. God, verily, is the Forgiving, the Merciful." The reader can then be left confused as to why the exemption granted in verse 74 is not offered in verse 76.

To help put this into deeper context, in the Bayán the Báb prohibited the eating of onions because He explained that Him Whom God shall make Manifest was already living among them. Therefore the Bábís were warned to avoid the prospect of breathing fowl air upon His countenance (face). Now this obscure law is often lost on Bahá'ís and because of this they are often left wondering why the few Bábí souls that discovered and accepted Bahá'u'lláh prior to His formal declaration were reported by historians with Bábí roots as having spent the rest of their lives happily eating onions. The point of course is that they were no longer bound to that law because they had already recognised the Station of Bahá'u'lláh, so only needed to act accordingly when they were in His presence. As verse 76, unlike verse 74, is bound to the Concourse on High, which is of course the assemblage of the Manifestations of God, it is possible that this law could be about preparing the generation of Bahá'ís that are going to obtain the presence of the next Manifestation of God. This might be why verse 76 reads so differently from verse 74. The correct term for such phrases are known as concealed prophesies. Namely they can only make sense with the coming of the next Manifestation of God.

So, on a somewhat humorous note, it is possible that the future Bahá'ís that recognise the next Manifestation of God before His/Her formal Declaration, might be described as living out the rest of their lives happy refusing to wash their clothes. Whether the guidance be over abstaining from onions or wearing clean clothes they are both ultimately symbolic because such matters are actually down to our common sense.

Whenever I come across something in the Writings that makes no sense to me, I simply think of onions. When you think of onions sometimes the hardest thing to fathom out can suddenly become so much clearer.

Warmest hugs,
Earth
 
Old 08-12-2017, 09:15 PM   #21
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Joined: Jul 2017
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Posts: 101
Greetings Earth,

I sure hope intuition can be trusted because I am very intuitive and I trust and use my intuition all the time. I just hope I do not go wrong in doing that but usually I have been right.

Thanks for the verses and the explanations of those verses. I still have “issues” with this whole cleanliness of garments law because I do not understand why. It just seems so trivial in the overall scheme of things we have to deal with in this world. Yet who am I to question Baha’u’llah, or God?

It is the same with the onions. I understand the cleanliness and the onions are both related to respect, but I still do not see the big importance of either one.

Again, I guess it is a matter of reverence and I do not think we can fully understand the station of a Manifestation of God or what it might be like to be in One’s presence. I still have a hard time even thinking that they actually got messages from God, but that is probably because I talk to nonbelievers more than to believers so my wires get crossed.

If I question what is in the Writings I just have to realize it is no doubt my ego and call it a day... Some things I will probably never understand but these laws are rather trivial compared to the other things I do not understand that God does and does not do.

Given what I often think and feel, I am already in so much trouble with God I just have to hope God is Forgiving and Merciful.

Hugs, Trailblazer
 
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