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Old 05-19-2018, 02:16 PM   #41
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Joined: Sep 2010
From: Normanton Far North Queensland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
But if we welcomed it and embraced it, would it still be suffering?

Maybe what you are saying is that we should not resent God for our suffering? Here is where I am at with that. God created a world wherein He knew people would suffer, and some people would suffer much more than others through no fault of their own. The unequal distribution of suffering alone does not seem just.

I cannot logically accommodate a benevolent God that allows excessive undeserved suffering. This idea that all suffering is preventable if we only have the right spiritual attitude does not cut it. Ideals are rarely attainable for most people. To say that we will be rewarded and no longer suffer after we die does not cut it either, because there is really no proof of any afterlife, let alone a glorious one. So we are being asked to take everything on faith. That works for some people but not all people. Even if/when it works for me I care about other people it does not work for.

The whole idea of an omnipotent God that is supposed to love humans but just sits back and lets them suffer is problematic to me because it just makes no logical sense. To say that we will be better off in the next life because of our suffering in this life does not help in this life. Besides that, not all suffering makes people more spiritual. Some people cave under the pain. Sorry, I guess I just don't buy into the Baha'i paradigm. I do not see any evidence that God is compassionate and the Writings are just not enough evidence for me to believe that.
Yes Suffering is just that, in its many forms. I am saying we thank God for all we face, as God gives us only what will benefit us in our growth as a spiritual being.

It is good you care for all people and you have many good questions, to which you, in your heart and mind, have to find the answer for with God, just as well all do.

We are told if we have problems finding the answers, then look hard at and meditate dčply on the world we live in, the wisdom unfolds within this creation and can answer all questions.

So ask your questions considering the process we know as love, that produces another Human being in this world. All the joy and pain that come from this entire process from prior to conception to the new human becoming an adult is a mirror of the spiritual birth process we go through.

Does knowing that there will be pain in the process stop a mother wanting to have a child? Does not Love overcome all the suffering and embrace the joy that comes from having a child!

So in life, Joy, Pain, Suffering and contentment will always be part of it. Baha'u'llah has given us what we need to do as a united Humanity, to bring back a balance.

The balance can only be found within our own selves, thus each is tested to that capacity and each of us is to put our difficulties in prayer to God and asking forgiveness from God.

How is Religious Forums going?

Regards Tony
 
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Old 05-19-2018, 03:08 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
I do not understand how God loves us, how we can ever know that. I guess we are just supposed to believe that because it says that in Writings, but that is just not enough for me.
Wasn't it you, just a few posts ago, who insisted that the proof of suffering is that people SAY they are suffering? You seem to be totally blind to the double-standard you are applying to God. Millions of people SAY they have experienced the love of God. By your own standards, those which you apply to suffering, God's love must therefore exist.

I have read your posts with interest. It seems to me you cling to suffering as if it the deepest part of your identity, and if you let go of it I think you would be lost. You would not know what to do with yourself. And I think that at some level that must terrify you.

I think you have no concept of faith, and that you are so terrified of any affection you might show to God not being reciprocated that you won't even extend the slightest affection.

You insist that suffering should not exist, despite the fact that the most glorious examples of human strength and dignity would not, could not have happened without suffering to overcome. Still, that is not "good enough" for you. You are strongly implying these examples should never have occurred, and that in fact they are morally wrong for existing.

Do you even look for the good things in your life? Suffering will saturate your being if all you look for is the negative. I repeat, suffering will saturate your being if all you look for is the negative. Do you ever have a good day? Do you even realize that you have a tremendous amount of choice about what you focus on?

Frankly, I wonder why you are so insistent on teaching Baha'i principles when you cannot even apply the basics of the faith to your own life. If you insist that life is nothing but suffering, perhaps Baha'i is not even right for you. (I say this as someone who is not officially Baha'i.) I strongly, strongly recommend that you study Buddhism, or at least the Dhammapada. It was the Buddha who insisted that all of life is suffering, and he is the one who taught a path to escape it. He doesn't demand faith, he insists on each person experiencing the path him or herself. If you followed the path of Buddhism, you wouldn't need to worry about faith. You could try it out and see if it works.

Lately, almost every day, I wonder why I have not declared as a Baha'i. I am, for all practical purposes, a believer. If I died today and had to face God, I could say with confidence I am a Baha'i at heart. Baha'u'llah's message is proof to me that God believes in the potential of the human race, and that He wants good things for us. Every day I look at the incredibly high standard of living that I experience and am grateful--even though I live below the poverty level in the U.S. I take time to see the good things in life, and each day I write down three things I am grateful for in a gratitude journal. I have survived homelessness and severe psychological problems. I am thankful for the adversities in my life, for without them I never would have been able to become the person that I am.

If I relied on you, Trailblazer, as an example of Baha'i faith, I think I would have become extremely distraught and despondent. I see very little substance in your life behind the teachings you profess. Some doubt is natural, but for you it is chronic and raises your teaching to the level of hypocrisy.

I will not gain favor from anyone for saying this, but I think you should stop teaching and work on your own life. If you feel you can't escape suffering, try Buddhism. If you insist on remaining Baha'i, try to find ways to actually connect with the teachings so that your teaching isn't so blatantly hollow. Make a serious attempt to become an example of the kind of Baha'i you want to see in the world. That is the most effective way to teach.

You cannot control anyone else. All you can try to change is yourself. I value the Baha'i faith, and I don't want to see anyone leave it. But really, Trailblazer, you need to take a huge step back and work on yourself before you try to bring others to the Faith. I don't see how you can possibly convince nonbelievers to become Baha'i when you openly, flagrantly cling so tightly to bitterness and misery. If that's what being Baha'i means, who would want to be Baha'i?

I don't expect others to agree with what I am saying, or agree that how I'm saying it is the best way to handle it. But I think it needed to be said.
 
Old 05-19-2018, 07:41 PM   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Wasn't it you, just a few posts ago, who insisted that the proof of suffering is that people SAY they are suffering? You seem to be totally blind to the double-standard you are applying to God. Millions of people SAY they have experienced the love of God. By your own standards, those which you apply to suffering, God's love must therefore exist.
No, that is not the same. People know they are suffering because they are suffering. They feel depressed or anxious or sad. Nobody can ever know they have experienced the love of God because there is no way to prove that God even exists. It is a belief. They believe they feel God’s love. That does not prove that God’s love exists. You cannot prove that because you cannot even prove God exists, let alone that God loves us.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I have read your posts with interest. It seems to me you cling to suffering as if it the deepest part of your identity, and if you let go of it I think you would be lost. You would not know what to do with yourself. And I think that at some level that must terrify you.
Thanks, but I do need psychoanalysis. I was in counseling for over 15 years and I am a counselor.

I am not obligated to buy into the religious apologetics. I understand that most religious people cannot take the challenges that come from those who do not believe like they do, but I do not have that issue. I have an open mind and I am not threatened by nonbelievers who make some very good points. I do not need God’s Love and I do not seek it. That is a carryover from Christianity and it is based upon false doctrines of the Church. Thank God I was never a Christian. I consider it selfish to want God’s Love when the world is in peril. That is why I am a Baha’i and not a Christian.

My suffering is not my identity. I am not even suffering but I know that other people are suffering and that bothers me. An omnipotent God that allows so many people to suffer cannot be All-Loving, logically speaking.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I think you have no concept of faith, and that you are so terrified of any affection you might show to God not being reciprocated that you won't even extend the slightest affection.
According to Baha’u’llah, God is above everything that can ever be recounted or perceived. Therefore God cannot show affection. People might imagine God is showing them affection but that is all it is.

If I did not have faith, I would not spend all my time on forums posting about God and Baha’u’llah. I believe that Baha’u’llah was who he claimed to be and I try to do what He has enjoined me to do.

God does not need our affection. God does not need anything at all from us. People who want affection from God want it for themselves. God does not need us at all.

God wants us to love Him for our own sake because it is good for us to love God. God does not need our love because God does not have needs.

“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 From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 85

“He who shall accept and believe, shall receive his reward; and he who shall turn away, shall receive none other than his own punishment.” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 339

“This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it—verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 136

“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 From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, 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. If ye believe, to your own behoof will ye believe; and if ye believe not, ye yourselves will suffer.” Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 148
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
You insist that suffering should not exist, despite the fact that the most glorious examples of human strength and dignity would not, could not have happened without suffering to overcome. Still, that is not "good enough" for you. You are strongly implying these examples should never have occurred, and that in fact they are morally wrong for existing.
That is a straw man. I do not insist that suffering must not exist. Regarding the elimination of suffering, I said to Walrus:

“That might be the goal of most people and it might be what the older religions taught is a goal, but it is not attainable by all people. Many people slip through the cracks. God knew that would happen, so there are only three logical possibilities:

(1) God does not care how much we suffer because God is malevolent; or
(2) God expects us to overcome our suffering by being more spiritual; or
(3) God is benevolent and wants us to suffer for our own benefit.

Is it really the goal, to overcome suffering? Certainly not according to Abdu’l-Baha:

“Those who suffer most, attain to the greatest perfection....

While a man is happy he may forget his God; but when grief comes and sorrows overwhelm him, then will he remember his Father who is in Heaven, and who is able to deliver him from his humiliations.
Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that one which, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit.”
Paris Talks, pp. 50-51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Do you even look for the good things in your life? Suffering will saturate your being if all you look for is the negative. I repeat, suffering will saturate your being if all you look for is the negative. Do you ever have a good day? Do you even realize that you have a tremendous amount of choice about what you focus on?
I have no idea where you are getting these ideas. I have suffered but I do not focus on suffering. I spend every waking hour or every day while I am not at work, in transit, getting groceries, eating or sleeping on forums posting to people about God and/or Baha’u’llah in spite of the fact that I do not even like God. My feelings about God do not stand in my way of doing what Baha’u’llah enjoined me to do. Honestly, sometimes I feel like a fool but I attribute that to ego and keep trudging on.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Frankly, I wonder why you are so insistent on teaching Baha'i principles when you cannot even apply the basics of the faith to your own life. If you insist that life is nothing but suffering, perhaps Baha'i is not even right for you. (I say this as someone who is not officially Baha'i.)
How do you know I do not apply the principles in my own life? My relationship with God or lack thereof, is personal. That is something I need to work out and I work on it constantly.

I teach Baha’i principles because I believe that Baha’u’llah was a Manifestation of God. That is the only reason.

That is a straw man. I never said life is nothing but suffering, but Abdu’l-Baha said that is mostly what it is. That fact is that some people suffer a lot more than others and I know many people suffer more than I do. However, those I am surrounded by daily hardly suffer at all.

“O thou seeker of the Kingdom! Thy letter was received. Thou hast written of the severe calamity that hath befallen thee—the death of thy respected husband. That honourable man hath been so subjected to the stress and strain of this world that his greatest wish was for deliverance from it. Such is this mortal abode: a storehouse of afflictions and suffering. It is ignorance that binds man to it, for no comfort can be secured by any soul in this world, from monarch down to the most humble commoner. If once this life should offer a man a sweet cup, a hundred bitter ones will follow; such is the condition of this world. The wise man, therefore, doth not attach himself to this mortal life and doth not depend upon it; at some moments, even, he eagerly wisheth for death that he may thereby be freed from these sorrows and afflictions. Thus it is seen that some, under extreme pressure of anguish, have committed suicide.” Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 200
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I strongly, strongly recommend that you study Buddhism, or at least the Dhammapada. It was the Buddha who insisted that all of life is suffering, and he is the one who taught a path to escape it. He doesn't demand faith, he insists on each person experiencing the path him or herself. If you followed the path of Buddhism, you wouldn't need to worry about faith. You could try it out and see if it works.
I cannot just try out another religion like trying out a pair of new shoes. Sometimes I wish I were an atheist but I cannot just deny that God exists now that I believe in God.

I am a Baha’i. I became a Baha’i at age 17 two weeks after I heard of it. I have never had any other religion because I was not raised in a religious home. My parents were both fallen away Christians and my dad was an atheist. I think my mother retained he belief in God and she became a Baha’i at age 60. I think there are a lot of spiritual truths in the older religions but they have been changed so much that they are barely recognizable. Still those truths shine through. I cannot believe in religious teachings that contradict the Baha’i Faith, like Buddha saying we should try to escape suffering.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Lately, almost every day, I wonder why I have not declared as a Baha'i. I am, for all practical purposes, a believer. If I died today and had to face God, I could say with confidence I am a Baha'i at heart. Baha'u'llah's message is proof to me that God believes in the potential of the human race, and that He wants good things for us. Every day I look at the incredibly high standard of living that I experience and am grateful--even though I live below the poverty level in the U.S. I take time to see the good things in life, and each day I write down three things I am grateful for in a gratitude journal. I have survived homelessness and severe psychological problems. I am thankful for the adversities in my life, for without them I never would have been able to become the person that I am.
I am glad to hear you have overcome all of that and you have not lost your faith in God or Baha'u'llah. I am sure that God considers you a Baha’i. Signing a card does not make anyone a Baha’i; Abdu'l-Baha said that.

You are preaching to the choir. I have also survived many adversities and I am grateful for them because I would not be who I am had I had never suffered. I am through the psychological problems for the most part but I will always have a predilection towards depression and anxiety because it is endogenous; all my nuclear family was depressed and anxious. So I just work around what I cannot cure. It will all be ended after I die.

Most of my distress is from the material world and my feelings of guilt that I cannot do everything I need to do and also teach the Faith. So I have neglected my material world responsibilities having faith that it will all work out in the end, that God will help me. We have much more than we need by way of homes and assets but both my husband and I are Baha’is and we plan to leave it all to the Faith so that is why we are keeping it. But the three homes are a huge responsibility and a drain on my time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
If I relied on you, Trailblazer, as an example of Baha'i faith, I think I would have become extremely distraught and despondent. I see very little substance in your life behind the teachings you profess. Some doubt is natural, but for you it is chronic and raises your teaching to the level of hypocrisy.
How can you possibly know what the substance of my life is? The only thing I doubt is that God is All-Loving and there are good logical reasons to doubt that.

I do not take responsibility for other peoples’ beliefs. Baha’u’llah wrote that the faith of mo man can be conditioned by anyone except himself. The fact that I do not feel all loving towards God is my own business, but maybe if you had spent five years posting to nonbelievers day and night for five years you might understand where that is coming from.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I will not gain favor from anyone for saying this, but I think you should stop teaching and work on your own life. If you feel you can't escape suffering, try Buddhism. If you insist on remaining Baha'i, try to find ways to actually connect with the teachings so that your teaching isn't so blatantly hollow. Make a serious attempt to become an example of the kind of Baha'i you want to see in the world. That is the most effective way to teach.
How do you know what my teaching work is like? How do you know what kind of example I set on other forums? Should I set an example by lying and saying I believe God is All-Loving when I do not believe that? Have you been to any of the forums I am on? All you see is what you see here and I maybe mistakenly let my hair down and trusted that other Baha’is would understand and have some compassion and not criticize. To be honest, I usually avoid this forum because I know I cannot be all perfect like the other Baha’is and reading what they write makes me feel less than. But mostly I avoid this forum because I am too busy on other forums posting to non-Baha’is.

Nothing you say can hurt me anymore than I have been hurt by Christians and atheists within the last five years. But many of those atheists are now my friends and maybe someday they will believe in God. At the very least when they dies they will know who Baha’u’llah was. As a Baha’i, my job is done after I have proclaimed that Baha’u’llah has come, unless people ask me questions, in which case it is my responsibility to answer them.

I worked on my own life for the first 42 years I was a Baha’i and I finally realized that I am not that important. I also did all the work I needed to do on my psychological problems so there was nothing more to gain by working on them further. Even the counselors told me that.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
You cannot control anyone else. All you can try to change is yourself. I value the Baha'i faith, and I don't want to see anyone leave it. But really, Trailblazer, you need to take a huge step back and work on yourself before you try to bring others to the Faith. I don't see how you can possibly convince nonbelievers to become Baha'i when you openly, flagrantly cling so tightly to bitterness and misery. If that's what being Baha'i means, who would want to be Baha'i?
That is a straw man. I do not openly or flagrantly cling tightly to bitterness and misery. All I ever said is that I question a God that allows people to suffer, and I was not referring to myself. I also said is that I am not sure that God is All-Loving, but this has nothing to do with me because I do not need God’s Love. I am not a Christian.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
I don't expect others to agree with what I am saying, or agree that how I'm saying it is the best way to handle it. But I think it needed to be said.
According to Baha’u’llah, that is not the best way for any Baha’i to handle it, which is no doubt why no Baha’i here has ever handled it that way. If I was a seeker and I read what you said to me, I would never want to become a Baha’i:

26: O SON OF BEING! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.
The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 10

5: O SON OF DUST! Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.
The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 23-24

44: O COMPANION OF MY THRONE! Hear no evil, and see no evil, abase not thyself, neither sigh and weep. Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great; and wish not the abasement of anyone, that thine own abasement be not exposed. Live then the days of thy life, that are less than a fleeting moment, with thy mind stainless, thy heart unsullied, thy thoughts pure, and thy nature sanctified, so that, free and content, thou mayest put away this mortal frame, and repair unto the mystic paradise and abide in the eternal kingdom for evermore.
The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 37

66: O EMIGRANTS! The tongue I have designed for the mention of Me, defile it not with detraction. If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others.
The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 45
 
Old 05-19-2018, 07:52 PM   #44
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From: Glenwood, Queensland, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
How do we hide from God's Love? Where is this Love? How can we hide from something that we cannot see? Is this something people feel? How can they know it is really God they feel and not their own imagination?
Good morning Trailblazer

Very interesting and pointed questions. It pleases me (for whatever that is worth) to see them, for they show that you are in a process of learning and growth.

If you will permit "a" thought on these, perhaps irrelevant to you actual query.

Think, as an example, of your partner. You go them them to show them that you love them, but they are busy with their own personal "things", and thus, your showing of love is not "seen" - they do not realise how close you are in love, and how far away from you they are because of their personal distraction. If they were not distracted, they would be able to show you their love; i.e. they would be close, not distant.

Can you "see" love? No, such is utterly impossible. So how do you know that love is being shown? By its effects. God's love for you is seen in so many of its effects in your life, yet because you are not, perhaps, seeing those effects, you are veiled from them, and thus can be regarded as being "far away".

Love is not something that one "feels". That is an emotion, and love is most definitely not an emotion. It is a quality, an attribute, an activity. One does not fall in love, for what one falls into one can climb out of - one simply loves.

Your last "question". You don't. But, once again, I refer to "effects". One can see the effects, and through these effects, know that they are from God, not your imagination. God can also use our incorrect perception to show us the correct perception. But always, it is a perception, and one which, over time, with experience and growth, will continually change into more accurate forms.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-19-2018, 10:36 PM   #45
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
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Good evening Romane. I live in Washington State, USA so I am in a different time zone.

Thanks for your input and kind consideration.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Can you "see" love? No, such is utterly impossible. So how do you know that love is being shown? By its effects. God's love for you is seen in so many of its effects in your life, yet because you are not, perhaps, seeing those effects, you are veiled from them, and thus can be regarded as being "far away".
I do not think we can ever know that God’s love is being shown by what happens in our lives. How can we possibly know God’s effects in our lives? I hate to say this, but I believe that is just wishful thinking, UNLESS you have Writings to back it up.

If God is responsible for everything in our lives, who is to say that God is not responsible for bad effects? Why do believers only attribute good effects to God and bad effects are overlooked? This does not seem logical to me so I cannot believe it, not unless I have Writings to back it up.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Love is not something that one "feels". That is an emotion, and love is most definitely not an emotion. It is a quality, an attribute, an activity. One does not fall in love, for what one falls into one can climb out of - one simply loves.
Are you saying that love is only demonstrable in deeds? If so, I do not understand how we can say that God loves us because we cannot ever know what God is doing. This is where I get stuck, when believers assume that a God that is beyond human comprehension is doing things.

Shoghi Effendi writes:
What is meant by personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Divine Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy.[17][18]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God in the Baha'i Faith

I know of nowhere in the Baha’i Writings where it says that God is “doing” anything in our lives (having effects), other than the fact that God sends Messengers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Your last "question". You don't. But, once again, I refer to "effects". One can see the effects, and through these effects, know that they are from God, not your imagination.
But HOW do you known that these effects are from God? That is the hundred-dollar question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
God can also use our incorrect perception to show us the correct perception. But always, it is a perception, and one which, over time, with experience and growth, will continually change into more accurate forms.
And how do you know that God is using our incorrect perception to show us the correct perception? Where does it say this in the Writings? Rather, could it not be that we are learning the correct perception from making our own mistakes?

I listen to Christian radio a lot, about four hours a day on my work days, and some songs say that God is making a new creation out of us. If this is true, it would mean we do not have free will because we are under the auspices of God's will.

I do not know where Christians get this idea, I assume from the Bible, but that has been terribly misconstrued by Christians. Where in the Baha’i Writings does it say anything like this? From what I know from the Writings we have free will and we alone are responsible for becoming who we become. There is no indication that God is doing anything for us.

I am sincerely trying to get at the truth because I post to a lot of nonbelievers and Christians and I do not want to be giving them incorrect information. But I need Baha’i Writings to back up anything I am going to say and believe.

Sincerely, Trailblazer
 
Old 05-20-2018, 12:00 AM   #46
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From: Glenwood, Queensland, Australia
Posts: 697
Good morning Trailblazer

Timezones. Yeah. But then, I don't believe that time, per se, exists. Subject for another day

Ahhh. That is the million-dollar question. How?

I think you are quite correct in requiring proof from the Writings. Whatever any one (or more) of us may say, it is still only our own perception, and even if it may be true, it has an equal possibility of being not-true. Only the Writings are authoritative.

That being said, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha'u'llah says (Paragraph 182, page 85) to:

Quote:
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.
One learns by association. The only association we materially have with the Manifestation is His Writings. Indeed, in the Qur'an, and likewise brought forward by the Bab (page 82) the Word is His Proof. (https://www.miscellanie.com/allthete...tions/s82.html) I quote the relevant bit here:

Quote:
If ye contend that these verses cannot, of themselves, be regarded as a proof, scan the pages of the Qur’án. If God hath established therein any evidence other than the revealed verses to demonstrate the validity of the prophethood of His Apostle—may the blessings of God rest upon Him—ye may then have your scruples about Him...

Concerning the sufficiency of the Book as a proof, God hath revealed: ‘Is it not enough for them that We have sent down unto Thee the Book to be recited to them? In this verily is a mercy and a warning to those who believe.’1 When God hath testified that the Book is a sufficient testimony, as is affirmed in the text, how can one dispute this truth by saying that the Book in itself is not a conclusive proof?...

1 Qur’án 29:51
You query and puzzlement intrigues me, and I will have a bit of a hunt through the Texts I have at Miscellanie (https://www.miscellanie.com/allthetexts/index.html). As so much of my time is devoted only to this place, to the Works of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, I am unlikely to find much from the work of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice. These I leave to yourself and others better able.

I will ask your permission to be very blunt. Hopefully it is not rude or offensive (both of these are in the eye of the listener, not in the eyes of the speaker). If rude or offensive, I beg of you your forgiveness.

You mention that you spend a lot of time listening to Christian radio, about four hours on a work day. Could I suggest that this may be too much (by more than a little bit), and that you need to spend more time in the Baha'i Texts? Ok, so there may or may not be as much available in terms of Baha'i radio, but after all...

And, should you prefer audio (reading can be "difficult" while working), very slowly (this audio project is only about three months old now) a collection of all the English Texts of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha is being recorded (again via the above address) - all are in mp3, and can be burned to a CD or USB stick. Explore, you will find it. Listening can be one way of "immersing" as Baha'u'llah commands - in fact, this project began at the request of a beloved Baha'i friend who has "issues" in reading.

A hint. Reading is act of listening. If one cannot listen, then one cannot read. When one reads, one should actually be verbalising the way, means, form etc of that which one has "heard".

"Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words,..." Here is the secret. Here is the key.

I am certain that, as you immerse yourself more in the Baha'i Sacred Texts, in whatever manner, you will, of yourself, find the answers you seek. When you do, i eagerly await what you find, for my own learning, But, intrigued as I am, I will still see what I can see.

I believe in you and have confidence in you, and offer you my implicit and, when suitable, explicit support.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-20-2018, 12:28 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Good morning Trailblazer

Timezones. Yeah. But then, I don't believe that time, per se, exists. Subject for another day

Ahhh. That is the million-dollar question. How?

I think you are quite correct in requiring proof from the Writings. Whatever any one (or more) of us may say, it is still only our own perception, and even if it may be true, it has an equal possibility of being not-true. Only the Writings are authoritative.

That being said, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha'u'llah says (Paragraph 182, page 85) to:

One learns by association. The only association we materially have with the Manifestation is His Writings. Indeed, in the Qur'an, and likewise brought forward by the Bab (page 82) the Word is His Proof. (https://www.miscellanie.com/allthete...tions/s82.html) I quote the relevant bit here:

You query and puzzlement intrigues me, and I will have a bit of a hunt through the Texts I have at Miscellanie (https://www.miscellanie.com/allthetexts/index.html). As so much of my time is devoted only to this place, to the Works of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, I am unlikely to find much from the work of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice. These I leave to yourself and others better able.

I will ask your permission to be very blunt. Hopefully it is not rude or offensive (both of these are in the eye of the listener, not in the eyes of the speaker). If rude or offensive, I beg of you your forgiveness.

You mention that you spend a lot of time listening to Christian radio, about four hours on a work day. Could I suggest that this may be too much (by more than a little bit), and that you need to spend more time in the Baha'i Texts? Ok, so there may or may not be as much available in terms of Baha'i radio, but after all...

And, should you prefer audio (reading can be "difficult" while working), very slowly (this audio project is only about three months old now) a collection of all the English Texts of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha is being recorded (again via the above address) - all are in mp3, and can be burned to a CD or USB stick. Explore, you will find it. Listening can be one way of "immersing" as Baha'u'llah commands - in fact, this project began at the request of a beloved Baha'i friend who has "issues" in reading.

A hint. Reading is act of listening. If one cannot listen, then one cannot read. When one reads, one should actually be verbalising the way, means, form etc of that which one has "heard".

"Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words,..." Here is the secret. Here is the key.

I am certain that, as you immerse yourself more in the Baha'i Sacred Texts, in whatever manner, you will, of yourself, find the answers you seek. When you do, i eagerly await what you find, for my own learning, But, intrigued as I am, I will still see what I can see.

I believe in you and have confidence in you, and offer you my implicit and, when suitable, explicit support.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
Thanks. It is past 1 am here now and I have to eat dinner which is the only meal I ever at on the three days when I am at home, so I will make this short and get back to you more tomorrow...

No offense taken... The reason I listen to so much Christian radio is because I ride my bike to work and back for 3 hours a day and walk during my work day for over an hour and all I have is a little pocket radio. But I find the music inspiring and I feel I can weed out what is not relevant. However, I think that it probably takes its toll over time. But the atheists also take their toll over time. I hardly ever talk to Baha'is anymore since I stopped posting on Planet Baha'i.

I have read Gleanings and the Kitab-i-Iqan many times and I have read Some Answered Questions and Paris Talks and I have read excerpts from other books, Baha'i World Faith many years ago. But there are a lot of books I have not read. The reason is because I am always too busy posting on forums and I consider other people, mainly the nonbelievers, more important than me. The texts I cited are the ones I normally refer to and quote because they have most of what I need to answer peoples' questions.

Well, I meant to get back to that other post you posted to me a few days ago regarding my compulsive behavior but I have not had time yet. I am trying to cut back on posts though so that is an improvement. I will never abandon an atheist who posts to me though... I now have a lot of atheist friends on forums but they come and go in spurts. It is good they are gone for a while because I have a nightmare to tend to at one of my rental houses, just found out about more problems tonight.

Talk Later, Trailblazer
 
Old 05-20-2018, 12:43 PM   #48
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Good morning Trailblazer

there is actually little I could say in reply at this point. A number of responses occured to me, but I rejected each one as inappropriate.

You mentioned replying to a post where I mentioned your "compulsive behavior". I have no memory of that, but that means only that I do not remember - nothing more, nothing less.

If it was a few days ago, that may be the post that I deleted the next day or so. In retrospect, the post was unworthy of this thread. With it deleted, the thread is much improved, as the thread was degraded before by its presence.

Rental properties - sworn off them forever. Been there, done that, and my beautiful wife and self decided it was not worth the angst or the effort. Long story, closed book.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-20-2018, 01:52 PM   #49
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Good morning (again (grins)) Trailblazer

Expect these quotes to pop up at strange intervals, due to the nature of the way I work.

The first of the quotes which, at least in my own eyes, have relevance to your dilemma, albeit not outwardly, directly, but through implication. That said....

The link to the source of the quote is given as this chapter and the next of Some Answered Questions both relate to the same subject:

https://www.miscellanie.com/allthete.../saq/s202.html

I suggest reading (listening) to this and the following chapter for completeness.

Quote:
The connection between God and the creatures is that of the creator to the creation; it is like the connection between the sun and the dark bodies of contingent beings, and is the connection between the maker and the things that he has made. The sun in its own essence is independent of the bodies which it lights, for its light is in itself and is free and independent of the terrestrial globe; so the earth is under the influence of the sun and receives its light, whereas the sun and its rays are entirely independent of the earth. But if there were no sun, the earth and all earthly beings could not exist.

The dependence of the creatures upon God is a dependence of emanation—that is to say, creatures emanate from God; they do not manifest Him. The relation is that of emanation and not that of manifestation. The light of the sun emanates from the sun; it does not manifest it. The appearance through emanation is like the appearance of the rays from the luminary of the horizons of the world—that is to say, the holy essence of the Sun of Truth is not divided and does not descend to the condition of the creatures. In the same way, the globe of the sun does not become divided and does not descend to the earth. No, the rays of the sun, which are its bounty, emanate from it and illumine the dark bodies.

But the appearance through manifestation is the manifestation of the branches, leaves, blossoms and fruit from the seed; for the seed in its own essence becomes branches and fruits, and its reality enters into the branches, the leaves and fruits. This appearance through manifestation would be for God, the Most High, simple imperfection; and this is quite impossible, for the implication would be that the Absolute Preexistent is qualified with phenomenal attributes. But if this were so, pure independence would become mere poverty, and true existence would become nonexistence, and this is impossible.
With my most warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-20-2018, 02:12 PM   #50
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Why, you may wonder, do the quotes today all come from the Master? Today is the day in my routine when I work on the Compilations, and at this moment, that is Chapter 7 of Baha'i World Faith - from there I am locating the relevant quote in the Authorised (i.e. not provisional) Texts.

Still in Some Answered Questions, beginning on page 220. Again, in my own perception, less in a direct manner than in an indirect manner.

https://www.miscellanie.com/allthete.../saq/s220.html

Quote:
Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is known through its qualities; otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.

As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? For the inner essence of anything is not comprehended, but only its qualities. For example, the inner essence of the sun is unknown, but is understood by its qualities, which are heat and light. The inner essence of man is unknown and not evident, but by its qualities it is characterized and known. Thus everything is known by its qualities and not by its essence. Although the mind encompasses all things, and the outward beings are comprehended by it, nevertheless these beings with regard to their essence are unknown; they are only known with regard to their qualities.

Then how can the eternal everlasting Lord, Who is held sanctified from comprehension and conception, be known by His essence? That is to say, as things can only be known by their qualities and not by their essence, it is certain that the Divine Reality is unknown with regard to its essence and is known with regard to its attributes. Besides, how can the phenomenal reality embrace the Preexistent Reality? For comprehension is the result of encompassing—embracing must be, so that comprehension may be—and the Essence of Unity surrounds all and is not surrounded.
With my most warm greetings

Romane
 
Old 05-20-2018, 04:29 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Traveller View Post
...easy for me to look at the stories of Jesus' life and see him as divine, without sin, a reflection of God.. But it is harder with Baha'u'llah.... he had three wives
It's always easy to just laze along w/ what we're familiar with. A Jew might say "...easy for me to look at the stories of Moses' life and see him as divine, without sin, a reflection of God.. But it is harder with Jesus.... he never married and never had children..." We all know that our Creator's earliest commandment was to "be fruitful and multiply" and a healthy normal person is one who feeds himself, can breath, and can reproduce. Jesus was in his late 20's, never dated and still lived at home with his parents.

If you say this is disgusting blasphemy then I agree. Somehow it also seems to me that if we see our Creator's presence on earth we don't want to make disparaging critiques about his sex life.

Am I missing something?
 
Old 05-20-2018, 05:27 PM   #52
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Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Good morning Trailblazer

there is actually little I could say in reply at this point. A number of responses occured to me, but I rejected each one as inappropriate.

You mentioned replying to a post where I mentioned your "compulsive behavior". I have no memory of that, but that means only that I do not remember - nothing more, nothing less.

If it was a few days ago, that may be the post that I deleted the next day or so. In retrospect, the post was unworthy of this thread. With it deleted, the thread is much improved, as the thread was degraded before by its presence.

Rental properties - sworn off them forever. Been there, done that, and my beautiful wife and self decided it was not worth the angst or the effort. Long story, closed book.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
No, to correct that, you did not mention MY compulsive behavior, I was just reflecting upon my own compulsive behavior. You did share some things about yourself that I identified with in that post, related to being "driven." It appears as if you deleted that post so I cannot respond to it here. If I want to discuss that I will send you a Private Message.

I wish I could get rid of the two rental properties but I would lose too much money because I would have to pay capital gains taxes and I would lose the rental income. One thing about me is that I am overly practical and I worry about money too much, given I have nothing to worry about since I have more than I will ever need. I could retire today and be just fine but I worry too much. Probably this is more suitable for a Private Message

However, I see this issue with the rentals as a test and difficulty I have to endure rather than run away from. I do not like the time it takes away from my forum work and the stress it causes having to deal with certain tenants but I think there is something I have to learn from it.

We were talking about whether God actually "does anything" and sometimes I think God is telling me what I need to do; call it Guidance or whatever. However, I question that it is really God because -- how can I know? AGAIN, I am very practical and I have not been doing this "God stuff" for very long at all. Also, most of my exposure has been to Christians and atheists who are polar opposites so I get all confused.

Talk Later, Trailblazer
 
Old 05-20-2018, 05:45 PM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Why, you may wonder, do the quotes today all come from the Master? Today is the day in my routine when I work on the Compilations, and at this moment, that is Chapter 7 of Baha'i World Faith - from there I am locating the relevant quote in the Authorised (i.e. not provisional) Texts.

Still in Some Answered Questions, beginning on page 220. Again, in my own perception, less in a direct manner than in an indirect manner.

https://www.miscellanie.com/allthete.../saq/s220.html

With my most warm greetings

Romane
Thanks for the quote...

Let me just say one thing that just came to mind... This happens often, someone says something that triggers a thought in me.

I was not raised in a religious home and i was never interested in religion, even after I became a Baha'i in 1970. I am not sure if I will ever be able to warm up to religion, and on top of that I have had my issues with God... So it is a double whammy.

Because of my feelings about religion, I distrust the whole process of religion. I do not distrust what Baha'ullah wrote but I often distrust what Abdu'l-Baha wrote since he was not infallible. Yet I find myself tearful sometimes when I read what the Guardian wrote.

The irony is that I probably became a Baha'i because of what I read that Abdu'l-Baha wrote and what I read about him in Portals to Freedom. I did not read much of what Baha'u'llah wrote back then and what I did read was way over my head. I did not read much of the Guardian either because I did not care about the social aspects of the Faith, the New World Order, etc.

I often wish I could be an atheist because it would be easier than this religious life. That is ironic because all my atheist friends wish they could believe in God... I know I should be grateful for having recognized the Revelation of Baha'u'llah, and I am, I just do not like religion. So to me it is kind of like trying to put on a pair of shoes that does not fit.

Nevertheless, I know the value of religion and I am always telling nonbelievers what that is, so intellectually I am okay; it is my emotions that get the best of me.

Talk Later, Trailblazer
 
Old 05-20-2018, 05:48 PM   #54
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Hi Trailblazer,

I came across these enlightening Words from Baha’u’llah a while ago that seem to address this topic of how do we know of God’s working in our lives. Is it God or us?

‘No tie of direct intercourse can possibly bind Him to His creatures. He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.’ Baha’u’llah

What struck me most was ‘No sign can indicate His presence or His absence’, so we can’t say with any certainty whatsoever that the voice we hear within is God or not.

All we can do is compare our thoughts, words and deeds with those of God’s, in our case the Word of God as revealed by Baha’u’llah to see how close our thoughts, words and deeds comply with the Divine Will.

So if for instance God tells us in His Holy books to love one another and we kill and injure each other then we can be sure these sentiments do not come from God but our own egos.

The only way we can really know if we are acting out God’s will is by following His laws and commandments as laid out in His Holy Books.

God’s guidance can only ever be called that if it is in complete harmony with His teachings as revealed in His Holy Books.

“Read ye the Tablets that ye may know what hath been purposed in the Books of God...

Baha’u’llah


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Old 05-20-2018, 06:21 PM   #55
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Originally Posted by worldcitizen View Post
‘No tie of direct intercourse can possibly bind Him to His creatures. He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.’ Baha’u’llah

What struck me most was ‘No sign can indicate His presence or His absence’, so we can’t say with any certainty whatsoever that the voice we hear within is God or not.
Hi worldcitizen,

Thanks. I know that passage well and there are at least three like it. That is the main reason I do not think people get direct communication from God. They might get some kind of inspiration, the voice within, but even then there is no way to prove it came from God...

So when people insist that they are getting communication from God it kind of annoys me...
I know it is wrong for me to be annoyed at people but that is my own spiritual problem.

But we can pretty much know it is not the Voice of God if it is contrary to the Writings.

Sincerely, Trailblazer
 
Old 05-20-2018, 06:37 PM   #56
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You’re awesome Trailblazer!

I really enjoy reading your posts.

Even when we do sincerely try and follow the teachings there’s no guarantee we’ll have the wisdom to know how to put them into practise.

For instance we may show mercy whereas justice is required and so forth. My struggle is with wisdom - severe shortage of it. Often trying to force a round peg in a square hole. Lol



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Old 05-20-2018, 07:33 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by worldcitizen View Post
You’re awesome Trailblazer!

I really enjoy reading your posts.
Thanks. It is good to hear someone likes them because not all do.
I have laid low on Baha'i forums for that very reason and others. The other reason is that I always feel diminished compared to all the other Baha'is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by worldcitizen View Post
Even when we do sincerely try and follow the teachings there’s no guarantee we’ll have the wisdom to know how to put them into practise.

For instance we may show mercy whereas justice is required and so forth. My struggle is with wisdom - severe shortage of it. Often trying to force a round peg in a square hole. Lol
I do that with the mercy and the justice too... That is why one tenant owes me $6750 and another owes me almost that much. The one tenant lied to me and said she was going to pay all the rent owing after she moved out and then she disappeared... It is undeserved mercy that I give her one more chance to pay on a payment plan after I locate her, but if she ignores me it is justice that I take it to the court and get a judgment...

I have decided that the other tenant deserves mercy because he paid about half of his debt a few months ago and he is now paying monthly... I thus feel he is at least sincere and I think he will pay the rest as soon as he has the money from his business.

So I am learning, but it seems to be taking a long time.
 
Old 05-21-2018, 12:22 AM   #58
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Good morning Trailblazer

I am enjoying listening to your thoughts. With each interchange, whether with this self or with another, I am learning something valuable to me - about what I think I know and why I think so. I do not necessarily agree with everything you say, but that is not important - what is important is that I accept you as you are and for who you are with no desire to change anything; I ask only the same from other members of the human race.

There are enough people whoopin' and hollerin' in the world that I find no need to contribute to it. The post I deleted, whatever others may think or feel, was to me no more than a case of me whoopin' and hollerin', thus quite unworthy of this thread and this forum, thus deleted. For no other reason than this was it deleted.

If it helps, a quick summary of some pertinent points from that deleted post, and maybe a little that was not there. First, a little "recent" history, though preceded with the note that I declared my recognition of Baha'u'llah on 28 August, 1971, and thus became a part of the Baha'i community.

in 2010 Gregorian, I had my fourth and by far my worst breakdown. As a result, not only was I extremely suicidal, but also intently homicidal - my wife feared every time she had to go out, not knowing what she would find when she returned home. It has been a hard ride since to get to where I am now, including regular ongoing psychiatric treatment, and large doses of a mix of tablets to help me try and control my illness. Where for so long I was not fit for human company, today I can mix with people again. Not 100%, maybe not even 90%, but ...

In 2011 I was finally diagnosed with the cause of my erratic, sometimes violent existence in the decades prior to then - my beloved wife did not have an easy time of it, and rightfully, I should have been diagnosed and treated decades ago. She stayed by me, however, and for that I am grateful beyond any words.

My last three years have been spent in general isolation from both Baha'is and the general run of society, except when necessary for shopping and medical appointments; a time of concentrated healing and refocusing. However, due to a series of concurrent events over only a week or two, I am being brought back into the Baha'i community - one of those concurrent events saw my return to this forum - other involvements are likewise coming to the fore. These are not in place of my work with Miscellanie, but in addition to.

I do not believe in nor accept "co-incidence". That series of concurrent events are such that I can only perceive them as a direction (as in instruction) given by God (and that subject alone of "given by God" itself is an opening for a long and, perhaps, partially mystical discussion), and which I have no desire to disobey.

In my life, my experiences have taught me as a reality what is for some merely some easy-on-the-lips facts. As you will find in the Writings of Baha'u'llah, and likewise in the Qur'an - we suffer with nothing that is outside of our capacity. Also, from the experiences since my last collapse, and experiences going back many, many decades, again, as Baha'u'llah states in the Hidden Words - that which may appear to be a calamity can prove to be a truly wondrous blessing. I know for myself, the history of my last decade has conclusively proved and established these two truths.

It is these two things learned, and the slow revealing by yourself of your strong constitution over the past x number of weeks, that brought me to state in an earlier post that I both believe in you and have confidence in you. As confronting as the dilemma may appear at this time, I have that certainty that you will, whether slowly or quickly is completely unknown, find the answers that you are trying to find.

Some things which you have said interest me, from the perspective of gaining better understanding. You may recall in one of my earlier post in this thread I touched upon knowledge, understanding and wisdom. For convenience, I will state it again here:

Knowledge leads to understanding. Knowledge and understanding together leads to wisdom. Knowledge is always first - how can you understand something that you don't know? Wisdom is always last achieved, for wisdom relies on both knowledge and understanding to be wise. (Romane laughing - and not after the fact either).

One thing I would particularly like to know then understand right now - what do you understand by the term "religion"?

Sufficient for now - this post is getting too long.

With my most warm greetings

Romane

Last edited by Romane; 05-21-2018 at 12:29 AM.
 
Old 05-21-2018, 12:15 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by Romane View Post
Good morning Trailblazer

I am enjoying listening to your thoughts. With each interchange, whether with this self or with another, I am learning something valuable to me - about what I think I know and why I think so. I do not necessarily agree with everything you say, but that is not important - what is important is that I accept you as you are and for who you are with no desire to change anything; I ask only the same from other members of the human race.

There are enough people whoopin' and hollerin' in the world that I find no need to contribute to it. The post I deleted, whatever others may think or feel, was to me no more than a case of me whoopin' and hollerin', thus quite unworthy of this thread and this forum, thus deleted. For no other reason than this was it deleted.

If it helps, a quick summary of some pertinent points from that deleted post, and maybe a little that was not there. First, a little "recent" history, though preceded with the note that I declared my recognition of Baha'u'llah on 28 August, 1971, and thus became a part of the Baha'i community.

in 2010 Gregorian, I had my fourth and by far my worst breakdown. As a result, not only was I extremely suicidal, but also intently homicidal - my wife feared every time she had to go out, not knowing what she would find when she returned home. It has been a hard ride since to get to where I am now, including regular ongoing psychiatric treatment, and large doses of a mix of tablets to help me try and control my illness. Where for so long I was not fit for human company, today I can mix with people again. Not 100%, maybe not even 90%, but ...

In 2011 I was finally diagnosed with the cause of my erratic, sometimes violent existence in the decades prior to then - my beloved wife did not have an easy time of it, and rightfully, I should have been diagnosed and treated decades ago. She stayed by me, however, and for that I am grateful beyond any words.

My last three years have been spent in general isolation from both Baha'is and the general run of society, except when necessary for shopping and medical appointments; a time of concentrated healing and refocusing. However, due to a series of concurrent events over only a week or two, I am being brought back into the Baha'i community - one of those concurrent events saw my return to this forum - other involvements are likewise coming to the fore. These are not in place of my work with Miscellanie, but in addition to.

I do not believe in nor accept "co-incidence". That series of concurrent events are such that I can only perceive them as a direction (as in instruction) given by God (and that subject alone of "given by God" itself is an opening for a long and, perhaps, partially mystical discussion), and which I have no desire to disobey.

In my life, my experiences have taught me as a reality what is for some merely some easy-on-the-lips facts. As you will find in the Writings of Baha'u'llah, and likewise in the Qur'an - we suffer with nothing that is outside of our capacity. Also, from the experiences since my last collapse, and experiences going back many, many decades, again, as Baha'u'llah states in the Hidden Words - that which may appear to be a calamity can prove to be a truly wondrous blessing. I know for myself, the history of my last decade has conclusively proved and established these two truths.

It is these two things learned, and the slow revealing by yourself of your strong constitution over the past x number of weeks, that brought me to state in an earlier post that I both believe in you and have confidence in you. As confronting as the dilemma may appear at this time, I have that certainty that you will, whether slowly or quickly is completely unknown, find the answers that you are trying to find.

Some things which you have said interest me, from the perspective of gaining better understanding. You may recall in one of my earlier post in this thread I touched upon knowledge, understanding and wisdom. For convenience, I will state it again here:

Knowledge leads to understanding. Knowledge and understanding together leads to wisdom. Knowledge is always first - how can you understand something that you don't know? Wisdom is always last achieved, for wisdom relies on both knowledge and understanding to be wise. (Romane laughing - and not after the fact either).

One thing I would particularly like to know then understand right now - what do you understand by the term "religion"?

Sufficient for now - this post is getting too long.

With my most warm greetings

Romane
First, let me say that it is good to have a new Baha’i friend, and one with who I share a lot in common, namely the psychological issues. I have one other good Baha’i friend online, Duane. He understands and knows me well and has had some of the same issues. Then there is my husband; he has been a Baha’i for about 53 years and he understands me although we are so different in how we approach God, the Faith, and the afterlife that it is sometimes near impossible to communicate without fighting. However, our emotional problems are somewhat similar (anxiety) and it makes life pretty difficult, the blind leading the blind.

Most people do not understand depression and anxiety unless they have lived them and even then duration and intensity vary, and all life circumstances are very different. So even if people have experienced these conditions, I have found that some people often project their own feelings onto others unless they are able to separate adequately from others’ issues. What I have found is that some people think that just because THEY have been overcome certain things others should be able to do likewise; that is very self-centered because we are all different and our present life situations are all different. I like this chapter of Baha’i World Faith on INNATE, INHERITED AND ACQUIRED CHARACTER (Baha'i World Faith, Pages 318-321).

“To understand a man, you must first walk a mile in his moccasin.”

We can explain what it is like to walk in our moccasins and if people listen and try to understand (knowledge first, then understanding) they can relate and hopefully show compassion rather than judge. As Abdu’l-Baha said:

“O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind—except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.” Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 158

There are two reasons I have extricated myself from the Baha’i community in real life. The first reason is because I know I would only feel worse being around other Baha’is and I do not think that would be good for me or the Baha’is. I tend to compare myself to other people; even though I know it is not good to do, it is a throwback from childhood and something I have not been able to fully overcome. When I do that comparison and come up short, I get angry at the people even though I know it is not their fault they are happy and had an easier life than I have had. Then when I realize that, I get angry at God because the buck stops there... So that is probably the main reason why I avoid people, not just Baha’is, but everyone, except online, at work and at the grocery store. I know this too shall pass; this is just where I am at right now.

Secondly, as you have seen of me, I am not that good at putting on airs, and I know I would have to put on airs if I participated. I have worked for the government for 40 years so I have been forced to be in a social setting and for 40 hours a week, and given I am still working that is what I still have to do. I do not mind most of the time, but I keep to myself except for a couple of people I can talk to.
The last thing I need is to have to pretend to be happy at Baha’i functions. I am not saying I am unhappy, but rather I know I am not in a situation like the other Baha’is, so I do not fit in. I am sure the Baha’is would accept me as I am, they always have, I just do not need the added stress of being around people, nor do I want to offend anyone. I am forced to either pretend or offend so it is easier to be alone:

“O ye Cohorts of God! Beware lest ye offend the feelings of anyone, or sadden the heart of any person, or move the tongue in reproach of and finding fault with anybody, whether he is friend or stranger, believer or enemy.” Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, p. 45

I am an introvert so I like being alone and I do not like driving a car or being in one any more than is necessary, a long story.

Most of my psychological issues were addressed during the 1980s-1990s, which consisted of 12 step programs, intensive counseling and constitutional homeopathic treatment for about 15 years. During that time I was also in school for an MA in Counseling Psychology and in a School of Homeopathy, which I planned to make a career. That career goal did not work out for several reasons, which was a cause of grief for many years.

Unfortunately, my PTSD (which was probably caused by my father’s sudden death when I was 12) was hiding in the closet and that only reared its ugly head long after I did my other healing work. It was triggered by many cats and kittens that we had that died on a regular basis, some quite suddenly. That and losing a job I had held for 14 years caused major grief and anger at God for about 15 years. It was not really depression, but grief can be crippling.

So that is what led to feelings of wanting to die, my suicidal ideation, until finally in June 2014 I picked up Gleanings and turned to God. We have lost a lot of cats since then but I never got suicidal again after that, nor did I need to seek counseling, which never really helped me anyway. Part of the reason I have been able to cope better is that I have God; the rest is probably the friends I have made on forums who I can talk to. I also started my own forum in October 2014 and it was quite active for a while, before I started posting on other forums and was too busy to keep it going.

I am not complaining about my suffering and I wish people would not misconstrue that as many people do. I am just explaining it. Right now the main cause of my suffering is the material world of dust, namely the rental houses and tenants as well as the house I live in. I just do not like dealing with the material world since it takes so much precious time. But I have made the decision to keep the houses so I do not blame anyone for that. The 11 Persian cats also take a lot of time but they are a source of joy for both me and my husband, so we cannot see ourselves without them. As long as I can still do work online for the Faith I do not feel guilty that I am not serving in another capacity. My husband who is retired does most cat care, so I can spend my time on the computer.

Now back to your question about religion. When I said I do not like religion I meant organized religion and all the activities associated with that, and that is one reason I explained what I did above, how I feel about participating in Baha’i activities.

I do not have to define religion because Baha’u’llah did a really good job of that. I have all these passages saved in Word documents by subject, hundreds of them, because I use them on forums.

In brief, religion is the Revelation that comes from God to Messengers of God. Religions are renewed by God in every subsequent age to keep up with man’s spiritual evolution.

“And now concerning thy question regarding the nature of religion. Know thou that they who are truly wise have likened the world unto the human temple. As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom. Its robe is the Revelation vouchsafed unto it by God. Whenever this robe hath fulfilled its purpose, the Almighty will assuredly renew it. For every age requireth a fresh measure of the light of God. Every Divine Revelation hath been sent down in a manner that befitted the circumstances of the age in which it hath appeared.”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 81

“The Great Being saith: O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation. Whatsoever is raised on this foundation, the changes and chances of the world can never impair its strength, nor will the revolution of countless centuries undermine its structure. Our hope is that the world’s religious leaders and the rulers thereof will unitedly arise for the reformation of this age and the rehabilitation of its fortunes. Let them, after meditating on its needs, take counsel together and, through anxious and full deliberation, administer to a diseased and sorely-afflicted world the remedy it requireth…”
Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 215-216

On a more personal level, the following letter sums up the value of religion for individuals. I have really found this to be true; I have been constantly growing since I reconnected with the Baha’i Faith in January 2013.

"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future. The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we find we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!"
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 3, 1943)
Lights of Guidance (second part)
 
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