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Old 08-10-2017, 11:23 AM   #1
djg
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What is Meant by Fanaticism?

We are enjoined to avoid fanaticism in our faith.

Dictionary definitions of fanatical:
  • filled with excessive and single-minded zeal
  • obsessively concerned with something
We are also enjoined to promote the Cause.

How is one to balance these things?

Would it be fanatical to post videos to one's Facebook feed explaining the faith in the same terms Baha'u'llah explained it in the Kitab-i-Iqan?

He described the ecclesiastic establishment as one corrupted by their selfish desires, who had perverted the Cause of God and loved the power of their position more than God's continuing revelations.

How can this be explained to believers and devout followers without being fanatical?

If it seems fanatical to them, and they call it fanatical, does that really mean it is fanatical -- or is that simply evidence of their own blindness?

Is to call them blind divisive and fanatical? So should one not do it to their face? (Of course, backbiting is prohibited, so if so, it would become something one simply keeps to oneself.) Is to exhort them not to be blind, without directly calling them blind, any better?
 
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Old 08-10-2017, 01:33 PM   #2
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I find the Seven Valleys has much to say on the subject. The Second, the Valley of Love specifically, seems to describe love as both a necessary step for spiritual development, and a dangerous, risky thing that can lead to fanaticism. Moving from the Second Valley to the Third is even described in such language as "escaping" from the claws of love.

So, from this, I take it to be that fanaticism is the same thing as love... simply taken to a blinding, destructive degree.

But I find it interesting that love, bordering on and courting fanaticism, is necessary to human spiritual development. It is something we need, at a certain point, but then need to overcome.

The Valley of Love

And if, by the help of God, he findeth on this journey a trace of the traceless Friend, and inhaleth the fragrance of the long-lost Joseph from the heavenly messenger, he shall straightway step into and be dissolved in the fire of love. In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to ashes the harvest of reason.

Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth not the morn of guidance from the night of error. He fleeth both from unbelief and faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore Aṭṭár saith:

For the infidel, error—for the faithful, faith;
For Aṭṭár’s heart, an atom of Thy pain.

The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offereth a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.

O My Brother! Until thou enter the Egypt of love, thou shalt never come to the Joseph of the Beauty of the Friend; and until, like Jacob, thou forsake thine outward eyes, thou shalt never open the eye of thine inward being; and until thou burn with the fire of love, thou shalt never commune with the Lover of Longing.

A lover feareth nothing and no harm can come nigh him: Thou seest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea.

A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea.

Love accepteth no existence and wisheth no life: He seeth life in death, and in shame seeketh glory. To merit the madness of love, man must abound in sanity; to merit the bonds of the Friend, he must be full of spirit. Blessed the neck that is caught in His noose, happy the head that falleth on the dust in the pathway of His love. Wherefore, O friend, give up thy self that thou mayest find the Peerless One, pass by this mortal earth that thou mayest seek a home in the nest of heaven. Be as naught, if thou wouldst kindle the fire of being and be fit for the pathway of love.

Love seizeth not upon a living soul,
The falcon preyeth not on a dead mouse.

Love setteth a world aflame at every turn, and he wasteth every land where he carrieth his banner. Being hath no existence in his kingdom; the wise wield no command within his realm. The leviathan of love swalloweth the master of reason and destroyeth the lord of knowledge. He drinketh the seven seas, but his heart’s thirst is still unquenched, and he saith, “Is there yet any more?” He shunneth himself and draweth away from all on earth.

Love’s a stranger to earth and heaven too;
In him are lunacies seventy-and-two.

He hath bound a myriad victims in his fetters, wounded a myriad wise men with his arrow. Know that every redness in the world is from his anger, and every paleness in men’s cheeks is from his poison. He yieldeth no remedy but death, he walketh not save in the valley of the shadow; yet sweeter than honey is his venom on the lover’s lips, and fairer his destruction in the seeker’s eyes than a hundred thousand lives.

Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds.

Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things,
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers.

And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter the Valley of Knowledge
 
Old 08-10-2017, 02:56 PM   #3
Jcc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djg View Post
We are enjoined to avoid fanaticism in our faith.

Dictionary definitions of fanatical:
  • filled with excessive and single-minded zeal
  • obsessively concerned with something
We are also enjoined to promote the Cause.

How is one to balance these things?

Would it be fanatical to post videos to one's Facebook feed explaining the faith in the same terms Baha'u'llah explained it in the Kitab-i-Iqan?

He described the ecclesiastic establishment as one corrupted by their selfish desires, who had perverted the Cause of God and loved the power of their position more than God's continuing revelations.

How can this be explained to believers and devout followers without being fanatical?

If it seems fanatical to them, and they call it fanatical, does that really mean it is fanatical -- or is that simply evidence of their own blindness?

Is to call them blind divisive and fanatical? So should one not do it to their face? (Of course, backbiting is prohibited, so if so, it would become something one simply keeps to oneself.) Is to exhort them not to be blind, without directly calling them blind, any better?
I don't think it's appropriate to call the majority of people blind, even those who are attached to their religion or no religion. They may see many spiritual truths, but just haven't connected them to Baha'u'llah yet. Some may be more spiritual than many Baha'is. That may be a very good reason why we must always be humble, especially when teaching the Faith. Baha'u'llah said we should use words that are "mild as milk" when appropriate, so posting very challenging passages from the Writings in forums where most people would misunderstand them would not be wise either.

I think we have to be careful with social media in that it seems impersonal because we may be separated by great distances, but people take it personally yet we can't see their faces or know the effect our words have on them.
 
Old 08-10-2017, 04:58 PM   #4
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Nice to hear from a Bahá'í from Utah. I find it appropriate to raise the topic about spreading the Faith in that very state. Some years ago, I came across the home page of the Bahá'ís of Utah:

Baha'i Faith of Utah

It puzzles me, to say the least. Therefore, it's most interesting that you ask those questions. Somehow, I feel that there is a connection between your question and that page. Could it be that, in Utah, you perceive the Faith in a particular way?

Best

from

gnat
 
Old 08-11-2017, 08:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djg View Post
Is to exhort them not to be blind, without directly calling them blind, any better?
You may consider to use positive terms like "Open your eyes/ your heart /your door to...."

Regarding your question on fanatism, I have been a fanatic myself and it is a sad condition to be in.... I sometimes wonder if I will become a Bahai fanatic and shake in shame by the thought.... (Help me out, my friends!)

I guess the key is to keep firm in using reason to evaluate all things, all possible consequences of what we do and say, all possible points of view, all potential flaws and errors we are exposed to.

Love includes, relates, connects, integrates... it does that because it is nurtured by both emotion and reason.
Fanatism excludes, splits, divides, isolates... it does that because it is nurtured only by emotion but evades reason.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-11-2017 at 10:18 AM.
 
Old 08-11-2017, 10:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djg View Post
We are also enjoined to promote the Cause.

How is one to balance these things?
I do not know... Let me know when you figure that out.

I am obsessed with proclaiming and teaching the Faith, to the exclusion of everything else in life, except going to work, and I eat and sleep when I have to... Sometimes I worry about my health, but it seems to be holding out, and given the beating my body takes on so few hours of sleep I keep thinking that God wants me to be doing this... So what have I got to lose except some of the fun I see others having?

“CONSIDER how at the time of the appearance of every Revelation, those who open their hearts to the Author of that Revelation recognize the Truth, while the hearts of those who fail to apprehend the Truth are straitened by reason of their shutting themselves out from Him. However, openness of heart is bestowed by God upon both parties alike. God desireth not to straiten the heart of anyone, be it even an ant, how much less the heart of a superior creature, except when he suffereth himself to be wrapt in veils, for God is the Creator of all things.

Wert thou to open the heart of a single soul by helping him to embrace the Cause of Him Whom God shall make manifest, thine inmost being would be filled with the inspirations of that august Name. It devolveth upon you, therefore, to perform this task in the Days of Resurrection, inasmuch as most people are helpless, and wert thou to open their hearts and dispel their doubts, they would gain admittance into the Faith of God. Therefore, manifest thou this attribute to the utmost of thine ability in the days of Him Whom God shall make manifest. For indeed if thou dost open the heart of a person for His sake, better will it be for thee than every virtuous deed; since deeds are secondary to faith in Him and certitude in His Reality. XVII, 15.”

Selections From the Writings of the Báb, p. 133

“What “oppression” is greater than that which hath been recounted? What “oppression” is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it? For opinions have sorely differed, and the ways unto the attainment of God have multiplied. This “oppression” is the essential feature of every Revelation. Unless it cometh to pass, the Sun of Truth will not be made manifest. For the break of the morn of divine guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error. For this reason, in all chronicles and traditions reference hath been made unto these things, namely that iniquity shall cover the surface of the earth and darkness shall envelop mankind. As the traditions referred to are well known, and as the purpose of this servant is to be brief, He will refrain from quoting the text of these traditions.” The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 31-32
 
Old 08-11-2017, 10:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
Regarding your question on fanatism, I have been a fanatic myself and it is a sad condition to be in.... I sometimes wonder if I will become a Bahai fanatic and shake in shame by the thought.... (Help me out, my friends!)
I am sure I am the last person you want to hear from, as I am no help, the blind leading the blind... but here I am anyway.

I really do not like the word fanatic... what does it mean? It is just a negative label and it can mean the same thing as zealous... I am by most peoples’ definition a fanatic and frankly, I don’t care... That is why I am called Trailblazer.

We need more Baha’is who are fanatical... How the heck do you think this Cause got off the ground and spread all over the world as fast as it did? I mean in about 100 years it had spread to almost as many locations worldwide as Christianity... Now what are we supposed to do, rest on our laurels, sit in meetings, eat cake and sing songs? Not me, not as long as I am a Baha’i... I will drop out before I stop talking... well, mostly it is writing that I do because I do not like talking to people in person.

“O ye beloved of God! Repose not yourselves on your couches, nay bestir yourselves as soon as ye recognize your Lord, the Creator, and hear of the things which have befallen Him, and hasten to His assistance. Unloose your tongues, and proclaim unceasingly His Cause. This shall be better for you than all the treasures of the past and of the future, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth.” Gleanings, p. 330
 
Old 08-14-2017, 09:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
IHow the heck do you think this Cause got off the ground and spread all over the world as fast as it did?
I think the success of the Cause has rested on the zeal of people like you, Trailblazer.
The magnificent resources I find in Internet, already translated, organized and available for free, were possible by the zeal of people like you.
Enjoying a devotional gathering in Mexico City, thousands of kilometers away from Akka, and held in my native tongue, has been possible by the zeal of people like you.

It is by people of you that Baha'u'lláh's New World Order will be implemented.

You said once or twice in this Forum that you regarded me as more "spiritual" person. That is simply not true.

Spirit is movement. The term "spirit" comes from the Greek word for "wind". Wind is not apparent to the eye: its effects are perceived by the way it moves things. You, my dear friend, are perceived not by how you look but by how you move, and make the Cause move.
I thank God for the existence of beautiful spiritual persons like you.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-14-2017 at 09:47 AM.
 
Old 08-14-2017, 03:48 PM   #9
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My dear camachoe,

I think the success of the Cause has rested on the zeal of people like you, Trailblazer.

The magnificent resources I find in Internet, already translated, organized and available for free, were possible by the zeal of people like you.


Well thanks, but I do not deserve your kind words... I am very zealous on the internet but that is about it... How much good that does anyone only God, and perhaps those people who have to listen to me, know!

Enjoying a devotional gathering in Mexico City, thousands of kilometers away from Akka, and held in my native tongue, has been possible by the zeal of people like you.

Like I said, I do not do much in person, with other Baha’is or other people, and I am no planner... I just blaze my own trail through the internet.

It is by people of you that Baha'u'lláh's New World Order will be implemented.

Not unless I get out of my computer chair and join the other Baha’is.

You said once or twice in this Forum that you regarded me as more "spiritual" person. That is simply not true.

It is what is in your heart that makes you spiritual... I see what I see and it is obvious to me you are very spiritual, but I think your humility prevents you from seeing it, which is not necessarily bad.

Abdu’l-Baha said that self-dissatisfaction is a sign of progress but I cannot locate that quote right now... However, here is a similar one:

Restlessness is discontent and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure. Thomas A. Edison.

Spirit is movement. The term "spirit" comes from the Greek word for "wind". Wind is not apparent to the eye: its effects are perceived by the way it moves things. You, my dear friend, are perceived not by how you look but by how you move, and make the Cause move.

I do not know if the Cause is going anywhere by my efforts but I do what I can. That is not much but it is all I can do.

I thank God for the existence of beautiful spiritual persons like you.

Well thanks again but I do not see it that way... If you only knew how I sometimes feel and what I sometimes say. That is what I can relate to that song called O God Forgive Us!

The thing is I try to override my feelings and do what I think is right, even though sometimes I question what is right and my own motives.
 
Old 08-15-2017, 03:45 AM   #10
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Can't say I have really thought this through, but my first idea is to see it in context of unity:

Fanaticism is a behavior or attitude that creates division. When people take an aspect of their identity, like race, nationality, political conviction or ideology, or religion, and take it so far that they devalue people who don't belong to the same group, that's certainly "fanaticism".

Thinking about it, I found it very sobering that Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha make no difference between these different sources of identity. Using religion to look down on "unbelievers" is no different than using race to single out different races. And even a political ideology that claims to uphold values of "tolerance" may well derive into a fanaticism that justifies hostility towards those who don't share it.

It's sobering to learn that the first step towards reducing prejudice is realizing that we all have prejudices, and it's very easy to become "fanatic", which underlines how harmful pride can be.

Or maybe what I'm writing, where I currently am with my mind has nothing to do with the topic... not sure.
 
Old 08-16-2017, 04:00 PM   #11
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You should not find it difficult to present the Teachings of Baha'u'llah as identical in spirit to those of Christ, explaining that just as Christ complained of the blindness of people, so does Baha'u'llah today. Your earnestness in this should be enough for them to start their own investigation. In "The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith", p.84 Ruhiyyih Khanum tells of Shoghi Effendi making a distinction to pilgrims that we are "orthodox but not fanatical". Just what he meant by "orthodox" may be gleaned from this pilgrim note:

Quote:
The believers should not be afraid to teach about the Bahá'í hierarchy. The Bahá'í hierarchy should be compared with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church — the Pope, the Cardinals, the Archbishops, the Bishops, etc. In the Catholic Church individuals do the administering and groups do the teaching. It is the opposite in the Faith. Individuals are responsible for the teaching work — the Hands of the Cause; and the groups are responsible for the administration — the Assemblies.

Last edited by ernobe; 08-16-2017 at 04:45 PM.
 
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