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Old 04-16-2018, 10:53 PM   #1
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On Monks

Greetings, all! I hope you find yourselves well. Warning, this is very long, as I am in a bit of a panicked state and tried to get my thoughts out.

I have come to a very strange rut in my life.
Ever since I graduated high school I have been somewhat aimless. I read and learned of God every day, but did not know what I wanted to do with my life. My initial passion growing up was for programming but after learning how to program I quickly found it unenjoyable. So I simply drifted, living in the moment, for what must have been almost 2 years now.

This quickly changed about a month ago.
I was walking to work when I had a strange occurrence which can only be described as a sort of waking dream or vision. For a mere few seconds, I saw a field, and was standing near a tree. There was also a small pond or something nearby. Forward and to the left, close enough to make out the fine details of but far enough to not be able to touch it, was a building which looked like it was made of dark stone - it was very nice looking, and it radiated some sort of spiritual warmth. I didn't recognize what it actually was, but it sort of clicked that "Hey, I built that."

So I spent the whole day at work thinking of this building. I brought it up with the Menders (A small group of Baha'i which I guess you could call mystics (It's not particularly fitting though), people who deeply study and dissect scriptures to bring their meanings to light for the benefit of others) and they had said that, though also unsure of what it was, they would like to help build it one day.

Since then it has been deeply entrenched in my mind. I've thought, dreampt, and envisioned it many a time now. I had a second vision of sorts when I was meditating. I knew I was inside the building because it was the same dark stone. There was a wide but short window with no glass. It was completely open. I sat on the floor with what I think was the Hidden Words and meditated in front of it. I saw myself sitting there numerous times in this vision, sometimes it snowed, sometimes it was windy, sometimes even rainy, but each time, I was there at peace.

Much more recently I had a dream involving it. I saw a larger room (not sure what was in it, I saw chairs I think), with a wooden door in the corner, which was locked. On the other side there was a hallway, with stairs at the end leading to that window room. In the hallway there were 3 wooden doors which seemed to be individual bedrooms.

I have thought of this so much, it is like my life has been given a direction now: To build this building and serve. My life has an aim, a goal in mind now. We are almost certain it is a temple or monastery of some sort. We've discussed, if we were to build a temple, what rooms we would want and what function the building would have.

This is why I bring up monks. 2 of my friends in faith said that they would like to live in this temple, and I would as well. We had thought of the various ways we could benefit the community around us, and how we would go around town very often trying to find things we can do to improve the community. It would be a place where we have all the tools to live a spiritually fulfilling life, while using ourselves and our knowledge to benefit the people around us. In a very real sense, spirituality would be our drive, the life we live, and we would share the knowledge we learn with everyone who lends an ear. We would not be isolated or celibate, because both of these seem to create more problems than they solve. We would be out and about, a religious community serving the larger community we are part of. However, we would definitely be living a simple life, one not embellished by riches.

It could be said that we are thinking of reforming the idea of a monk to modern times. People who help their communities and are devoted to God, living a simple religious life dedicated to service, constantly practicing with each other and helping each other grow as well as the community.

It has been constantly on my mind, every single day, for a long time now. The thought brings me such peace, and I know this is a path I want to tread - But I fear that such a thing would be frowned upon by the Baha'i community. I do not want to isolate myself from my fellow Baha'i's, or unintentionally contradict the scriptures with these actions. I had read up on monks in the Baha'i writings as much as I could and so far think that the practice of living a simple life of service and spirituality as a Baha'i monk (granted, a very different kind of monk than traditions past) would be fine, so long as we aren't secluded and make sure that we are a benefit. The reason I am posting this all is because I am curious:

Are there things that would prohibit this plan, according to the faith? I am but one, and the people on the forum here certainly have a collective knowledge higher than any one person - Is there anything I missed? Thank you for reading my huge wall of text.
 
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Old 04-17-2018, 01:34 AM   #2
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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I have a few thoughts from the writings.

Firstly Baha'u'llah has abolished the priesthood and given leave for the monks to leave their cloisters. Thus there is no position in the Baha'i Faith in this capacity.

The future will see more temples and local houses of worship built, it may be you will be involved with any one of these.

I would put your experience into the hands of God and see what the future offers as far as the building is concerned. A vision can have too many meanings to put trust in any one interpretation, especially one we have put on it ourselves.

What is you background in building construction or building design?

Regards Tony
 
Old 04-17-2018, 06:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
This is why I bring up monks. 2 of my friends in faith said that they would like to live in this temple, and I would as well. We had thought of the various ways we could benefit the community around us, and how we would go around town very often trying to find things we can do to improve the community. It would be a place where we have all the tools to live a spiritually fulfilling life, while using ourselves and our knowledge to benefit the people around us. In a very real sense, spirituality would be our drive, the life we live, and we would share the knowledge we learn with everyone who lends an ear. We would not be isolated or celibate, because both of these seem to create more problems than they solve. We would be out and about, a religious community serving the larger community we are part of. However, we would definitely be living a simple life, one not embellished by riches.

It could be said that we are thinking of reforming the idea of a monk to modern times. People who help their communities and are devoted to God, living a simple religious life dedicated to service, constantly practicing with each other and helping each other grow as well as the community.

It has been constantly on my mind, every single day, for a long time now. The thought brings me such peace, and I know this is a path I want to tread - But I fear that such a thing would be frowned upon by the Baha'i community. I do not want to isolate myself from my fellow Baha'i's, or unintentionally contradict the scriptures with these actions. I had read up on monks in the Baha'i writings as much as I could and so far think that the practice of living a simple life of service and spirituality as a Baha'i monk (granted, a very different kind of monk than traditions past) would be fine, so long as we aren't secluded and make sure that we are a benefit. The reason I am posting this all is because I am curious:

Are there things that would prohibit this plan, according to the faith? I am but one, and the people on the forum here certainly have a collective knowledge higher than any one person - Is there anything I missed? Thank you for reading my huge wall of text.
Well, what you describe here is not a monk. The idea shares some similarities with a monk, namely living in a religious building and trying to live simply, but it lacks the primary defining trait of monasticism, which is a intentional separation of the self from "secular society".

This aspect of monasticism is why it is discouraged by Islam or the Baha'i Faith: because there shouldn't be a divide between "secular society" and "religious society". There should be but one society, united in both secular and spiritual pursuits.

So if one is not dividing oneself from society, one is not a monk. Monklike or monkish, perhaps, but not a monk, strictly speaking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
But I fear that such a thing would be frowned upon by the Baha'i community.
My biggest advice would simply be: don't use the word "monk" to describe this idea. That will likely give people the wrong idea and cause the fears you have to manifest, even if it is couched in terms of wanting to reform what the term "monk" means.

I imagine no real opposition to you stating you want to build a place of study, worship, and lodging for seekers, though I imagine you'll run up against a good deal of opposition if you use the term "monk" or "monastery" to describe this. Even though the reality behind your words would be the same, the popular connotations of those words I think may turn people against the idea before they realize what the idea even is.

Since what you are describing is not a "monk" or "monastery", but is instead something new, this may be an opportunity for you to create your own terms for these things.
 
Old 04-17-2018, 09:24 AM   #4
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My background in construction is rather limited haha.
I guess indeed lacking monasticism and asceticism it wouldn't be right to call it a monk. I suppose it is monasticism only so far as devoting ones life to spirituality, but that's the only aspect that really carries over.

We also have really just been calling it the Mendarium for the most part cause, well, we aren't quite sure what it is.

Edit::
It seemed pretty small, not much larger than a house really, which makes me think it's not a house of worship but something else. We initially thought it was a study hall of some sort.

Both your responses have certainly helped calm me

Last edited by Saveyist; 04-17-2018 at 09:28 AM.
 
Old 04-17-2018, 11:14 AM   #5
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
My background in construction is rather limited haha.
I guess indeed lacking monasticism and asceticism it wouldn't be right to call it a monk. I suppose it is monasticism only so far as devoting ones life to spirituality, but that's the only aspect that really carries over.

We also have really just been calling it the Mendarium for the most part cause, well, we aren't quite sure what it is.

Edit::
It seemed pretty small, not much larger than a house really, which makes me think it's not a house of worship but something else. We initially thought it was a study hall of some sort.

Both your responses have certainly helped calm me
I have found one must try to live the life and let God guide us upon our path. It is our decisions of what to do that pave the path we walk in Faith.

I started my Baha'i journey as a Professional Golfer and got the bug to homefront pioneer. Needless to say golf did not become my career.

Funny thing is that by the end of the first year I had started work building with a Baha'i Friend. Further pioneering led to a career in Local Government where I became a concrete supervisor and then a supervisor in road construction and on to town planning as an inspector of civil works.

Along the way I have built my own houses and renovated a few houses now.

So the experience I can offer is, put effort into serving this great cause and doors will open.

My dream was to build a timber pole home.....but that did not happen to date

Regards Tony

Last edited by tonyfish58; 04-17-2018 at 11:16 AM.
 
Old 04-17-2018, 12:15 PM   #6
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Maybe it will become a study hall one day. I've been working on reading all the writings of Baha'u'llah chronologically (using provisional translations for some since not all have an official translation. So far I'm on Ode of the Dove) and to have a place of resources to spread the amazingly abstract yet simple principles of Baha'u'llah would be awesome. One thing I know for sure is that I want to live a life of service and that is what I'll do.
Thank you so much for your input again!
 
Old 04-17-2018, 12:39 PM   #7
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
Maybe it will become a study hall one day. I've been working on reading all the writings of Baha'u'llah chronologically (using provisional translations for some since not all have an official translation. So far I'm on Ode of the Dove) and to have a place of resources to spread the amazingly abstract yet simple principles of Baha'u'llah would be awesome. One thing I know for sure is that I want to live a life of service and that is what I'll do.
Thank you so much for your input again!
You will have an amazing journey and I wish you always well and happy on that journey.

I am sure you will see your vision in your future life. When we look back we go wow, God guides us us no matter the choices we have made and we find we have created most of our difficult times.

From all that happens, we can learn from.

Gods Covenant and Laws are our protector.

Ya Baha'ul'abha.

Regards Tony

Last edited by tonyfish58; 04-17-2018 at 12:42 PM.
 
Old 04-17-2018, 12:46 PM   #8
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Indeed we are always guided - the strong in faith always are even if it does not seem like it. It was quite interesting to hear a bit of your life! It makes me wonder what else we have in store.

Heh, I remember when I first heard of Baha'i I actually initially thought it was strange and nonsensical. Now 2 and a half years later saying I want to put my everything into the faith, haha! We never truly know what the future holds for us.
 
Old 04-17-2018, 01:08 PM   #9
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
Indeed we are always guided - the strong in faith always are even if it does not seem like it. It was quite interesting to hear a bit of your life! It makes me wonder what else we have in store.

Heh, I remember when I first heard of Baha'i I actually initially thought it was strange and nonsensical. Now 2 and a half years later saying I want to put my everything into the faith, haha! We never truly know what the future holds for us.
It is a Ha Ha moment that is for sure. When I first heard I said very sternly to my wife who had just become a Baha'i, I asked who gets all the money

2 years later we sold up our new house, all we owned, I brought a Bus turned it into a mobile home and we took off to pioneer, somewhere? Destiny unknown.

Now the funny part. Four years before I became a Baha'i I was in the Australian Army and did an exercise with American troops in the far north west of queensland Australia. A hot and harsh place. We marched through a town after and we had to salute the official in the middle of town outside a infamous hotel. There were people drinking and offering loud yahoo's at our actions.

Right there and then I said 'I am never coming back to this hole!"

Bet you can guess where my first homefront pioneering post was Bet you can guess where I came back for a 2nd attempt!

Life is full of God loves laughter...Ha Ha. Gods will is not our will. Gods will is life.

I hope you get many of these wonderful confirmations.

Regards Tony
 
Old 04-19-2018, 11:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saveyist View Post
...
This quickly changed about a month ago.
...
Good morning Saveyist

After my brief visit this morning, I returned to see now your post. If I may be permitted, a few very minor thoughts, and as likely to be out of kilter as anything else.

I do not think this structure is a physical structure. Rather, my feeling is that it is a symbolic structure, a structure of spiritual proportions. In such a structure you, your friends and others could live very comfortably, co-cooperatively, peacefully and in living proof of the truth of deeds.

You mention benefiting the community around you. Does this sound like acts of service, or does this sound like acts of service?

(Quote): "Hey, I built that."

From your descriptions, this structure has no ending, but many rooms. A physical structure must have an ending, for as 'Abdu'l-Baha says, that which is composed must become de-composed. But every room has a purpose, a function. Consider your own being. Spiritually. You have responsibility for only you, and, with the help of God through the Revelation of His Manifestations, can consider growth as the building of yourself. But yet, we are not alone in the world - we share it with many others. Thus, the various "rooms" which end up being the structure (not a or the form) of your spiritual being can each cater to the needs of each person you associate with.

A locked door. This I would suggest represents mysteries which you will not grasp or understand until you have reached the stage where you have the key to unlock it. Be patient, my friend.

I would personally (but your mileage may differ) not associate your vision with monks - purely for reasons of connotations. Rather, this is the age of co-operative labour, and gender has utterly zero reference in it. Plus to say that human vision has not the capacity of Divine vision - I address this indirectly in the rest of this post.

(Quote): "2 of my friends in faith said that they would like to live in this temple, and I would as well."

A temple built by other hands has not the relevance as a temple built by your own hands. And who else could build both your own temple and a temple for more than yourself, but yourself and those who are more than yourself.

Do not doubt that what you have seen is not real. It is as real as your own being. But the understanding of your vision will not come upon you overnight - humility, devotion, prayer, servitude; all and more will become available to you as you progress upon the path to fruition. Learning to understand and embrace that the loss of your self will be the gaining of your self. And time will, with the Will and Bounty of God, clarify your sight and direct you with more correctness in the proper direction.

Say, God sufficeth all things above all things, and nothing in the heavens or the earth but God sufficeth. verily He is in Himself the Knower, the Sustainer, the Omnipotent.

From knowledge comes understanding. From understanding combined with knowledge comes wisdom. The trio is also a full circle. And Who but God is the giver of knowledge?

And most importantly, complete trust and resignation to the Will of God. He will guide you, He will direct you, He will aid you. Be utterly certain of this. Baha'u'llah states (first sentence of the Kitab-i-Ahad):

ALTHOUGH the Realm of Glory hath none of the vanities of the world, yet within the treasury of trust and resignation We have bequeathed to Our heirs an excellent and priceless heritage.

I understand the affect upon you. I myself am driven by a passion, a vision into which it appears that I have been led. Circumstances have evolved around me which have prepared "things" and granted me time and capacity for what I term my "project". Yet, twenty, or even ten years ago, I had no idea how to realise these goals. Trust and resignation, and it will all become clear to you in relevant steps.

Indeed, when you and your friends are eventually called, each, home, others will benefit from your work and likewise be able to live in it, and it will then be their temple, and not your own, built by their hands, not your own. In this way one leaves a lasting heritage.

(Quote): "... but each time, I was there at peace."

And lastly, what is peace? Real peace? True peace? Everlasting peace? Shareable peace? It is spiritual only. Whatever the weather conditions outside, this peace is a means of saying "you are protected from these elements."

I give to you my most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 04-19-2018 at 11:47 PM. Reason: Many
 
Old 04-19-2018, 11:55 PM   #11
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A very detailed breakdown of such a vision fills me with inspiration - thank you for your post! I definitely feel more passionate about this than ever now. I should note one thing however - The place did definitely have clearly defined walls, windows and an entrance.

You all have given me a lot to think about. Thank you
 
Old 04-20-2018, 09:29 PM   #12
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Hello Saveylist,

I do agree with a previous commentor that this may not be a physical building.

A few years ago a close Christian friend of mine was terminally ill. We had been close for many years and I knew I held a lot of influence with her. She frequently told me how happy she was that she had recently found Christianity and I felt conflicted. When I was away from her I really wanted to go to her and share the Bahá'í Faith more enthusiastically than ever as I knew her time was limited. She had investigated the Faith with me many years ago and even declared but then drifted away from it. However, when I was with her I could not mention the Faith and I could not understand why.

Shortly before she died I had a vivid dream where I walked through a building, sort of a house, sort of an institution, with many different rooms. I remembered strange details and it felt spiritual. I woke up with the biblical quotation in my head "In my Father's House, there are many mansions". I just knew this dream was about my friend and when I looked up the quotation I found it is often interpreted to mean that there are many ways to God and I knew that I could not do anything that would detract from the path that my friend had found and that was OK.

In my dreams I often walk through sometimes familiar, seeming remembered from other dreams, sometimes unfamiliar buildings that leave me with a feeling of joy and a feeling of being home.
 
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