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Old 01-14-2016, 04:40 PM   #1
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Guidance for meditation

Hello
Acknowledging in the Bahai faith that all major religions are reflecting the same pure light of God, but in different ways and for different demographs at different times, I'm curious to know how often people turn to other spiritual teachings for support?

for example, when it comes to Meditation, this is a real cornerstone of the Buddhist teachings, and he was alive at a time when meditation was very common amongst the society he lived in.
The teachings that I come across through Buddhist lineages have very clear and precise instructions and methods for meditation and I feel like if this is a skill I want to refine and master to support me in my spiritual practice, perhaps there is more value in learning from the series of teachings that were framed around that by the Buddha as opposed to the teachings of Bahaullah?

Curious to hear other people's views on this.
 
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Old 01-14-2016, 05:06 PM   #2
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Generallly speaking, although Baha'I Scriptures confirms Buddha was a Manifestation of God, but also says the original writings of Buddha are not available today, and Religions tend to change by people over time, when they add their own constoms and practices to it. So, we are not really sure that the teachings that are attributed to Buddha today are indeed from Him.
On the other hand, Baha'is believe that Baha'u'llah has revealed all that is needed for this Age. There are many revealed prayers as well...
 
Old 01-14-2016, 06:24 PM   #3
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Thank you for that answer short, concise and answered the question well!

It raises another question for me.. You say that there is question around whether the teachings of the Buddha that are available today are actually directly from the Buddha himself... Does this same scepticism apply for Christianity too?
 
Old 01-14-2016, 08:04 PM   #4
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"You must know the Old and New Testaments as the Word of God"
-Abdu'l Baha
The Promulgation of Universal Peace



"We cannot be sure of the authenticity of any of the phrases in the Old and New Testament. What we can be sure of is when such references or words are cited or quoted in either the Qurán or the Bahá'í writings." (from a letter written to an individual on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 4 July 1947).


Shoghi Effendi, his role as the Guardian, explains statements regarding the scriptural nature of the Bible. The Bible is a sacred writing, but the authenticity is not 100% . The text of the Quran is very well known with copies of it existing that were made within a lifetime of the original text.

The problems with the writings of the Buddha are that, even as both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhists will agree, the tippitaka was written down quite some time after the death of the Buddha, and he is not known to have written anything himself or written during his lifetime that survives.


This is why the suttas always begin with the equivalent of "Thus I have heard" as it is a kind of caveat. This does not mean there isn't truth in the Buddhist texts, and nowhere have I heard it said in a Baha'i writing, otherwise. I am only musing, but perhaps very early Buddhism was more a practice and less an intellectual pursuit and therefore as the monastic community developed, it needed the information to be codified.

Personally I find Ajahn Sumedho's "The Four Noble Truths" dissertation to be extremely valuable, and I reread it on occasion. Likewise the Anapanasati Sutta is wonderful document on meditation.
 
Old 01-14-2016, 09:31 PM   #5
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And still there are techniques and approaches that have developed in previous religions that can be of use to Bahá'ís, in the same way that, in our daily life, use the material accomplishments of earlier dispensations. Our Faith in no way starts from naught.

gnat
 
Old 01-15-2016, 12:41 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noogan View Post

This is why the suttas always begin with the equivalent of "Thus I have heard" as it is a kind of caveat. This does not mean there isn't truth in the Buddhist texts, and nowhere have I heard it said in a Baha'i writing, otherwise. I am only musing, but perhaps very early Buddhism was more a practice and less an intellectual pursuit and therefore as the monastic community developed, it needed the information to be codified.
Firstly, thanks for your answer.
I found what you said here about Buddhism being more of a practice than an intellectual pursuit interesting because for me what I feel separates Buddhism from other religions (mainly thinking of the Abrahamic ones) is that it feels to me to be more of a practice rather than a teaching. I feel like Buddhism doesn't actually have a framework of beliefs as such, more a framework of practice. So it is interesting to hear that you see it the other way.
 
Old 01-15-2016, 05:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Curious wanderer View Post
Firstly, thanks for your answer.
I found what you said here about Buddhism being more of a practice than an intellectual pursuit interesting because for me what I feel separates Buddhism from other religions (mainly thinking of the Abrahamic ones) is that it feels to me to be more of a practice rather than a teaching. I feel like Buddhism doesn't actually have a framework of beliefs as such, more a framework of practice. So it is interesting to hear that you see it the other way.

Oh I would agree with you as far as practical application. We've probably had a similar experience. When I took refuge, it was precisely because it was a practice, and I keep the things I learned during that time with me. The monk who I took refuge with and gave my my Dharma name had, when I asked questions about the differences in how the Vietnamese ethnic lay community who visited the monestary practiced, would just say to "learn basic Buddhism." And what I have learned at his and other teacher's recommendations still remains very helpful. The main difference is that I do 95 "Allah u Abha" recitations now instead of 108 Namo Amitabha recitations, and accepted Baha'u'llah as Maitreya.

There is a very strong body of Buddhist philosophy though, as well as practices, and it is one of the largest with continual development right to this day. It's fascinating. I do think, from personal experience, Buddhism practiced by persons in the west, essentially first generation Buddhists, due to tend see it from the practical application and the cultural religious aspects, except perhaps Vajayana and Pure Land where the religious aspects are difficult to sidestep, are something of a frontier.
 
Old 01-15-2016, 09:35 AM   #8
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You may find this article interesting:

Buddhism and the Bahá'í Faith
 
Old 01-17-2016, 12:18 AM   #9
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Thanks Noogan, interesting to hear
And thanks for the link Neal
 
Old 01-19-2016, 08:13 AM   #10
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Hello Curious Wanderer. Some years after I became a Bahá'í, I developed an interest in meditation. It is amazing how you can read the Bahá'í writings for years and not see anything to do with meditation then you start thinking about meditation and there are references everywhere.

Although there are references, most are instructions to meditate on certain passages or ideas, for example:

"It is incumbent upon you to ponder in your hearts and meditate upon His words, and humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 241)

"Think not that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power. To this beareth witness that which the Pen of Revelation hath revealed. Meditate upon this, O men of insight!..."

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 332)

I started to teach myself to meditate and found mantra meditation suited me. I also realised that I could use this when reciting the Greatest Name 95 times a day and that mantra meditation seems entirely compatible with this.

I very much love this quotation about meditation

"Bahá'u'lláh says there is a sign from God in every phenomenon. The sign of the intellect is contemplation, and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at once -- he cannot both speak and meditate.

It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and reality is revealed.

You cannot apply the name "man" to any being devoid of this faculty of meditation; without it man is a mere animal, lower than the beasts.

Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit -- the bestowals of the Spirit are given during reflection and meditation.

The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives divine inspiration, and through it he partakes of heavenly food.

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself; in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective condition he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things in themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight: when the power of insight is being used the power of outward vision does not function.

This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.

This faculty brings forth the sciences and arts from the invisible plane. Through the meditate faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out. Through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.

Nevertheless some thoughts are useless to man: they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the Inner Light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed.

The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror: if you put it before earthly objects, it will reflect the earthly objects. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly objects he will become informed of these.

But if you turn the mirror of your spirit heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained.

Therefore let us keep this faculty rightly directed -- turning it to the divine Sun and not to earthly objects -- so that we may comprehend the allegories of the Bibles, the mysteries of the Spirit, and discover the hidden secrets of the Kingdom.

May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the divine realities and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven!

Friends' Meeting House St. Martin's Lane, London January 12, 1913."

(Abdu'l-Baha Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 323)

I cannot find the direct quotation, but I have also seen guidance that there is no prescribed form of meditation that is classified as Bahá'í meditation. It is my personal opinion that maybe, having covered this in previous dispensations and knowing that knowledge of meditation techniques is available in the world it was not necessary to include this in the writings. They say we should meditate and we can find out how best to do this for our own situation.
 
Old 01-19-2016, 08:18 AM   #11
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I would recommend a small book called "Meditation" by Bahá'í author Wendi Momen ISBN 0-85398-407-7. I found it a great starting point that gives a general overview of types of meditation arising from different religions and cultures. It also has a lot of lovely quotations.
 
Old 01-19-2016, 02:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollwr View Post
I cannot find the direct quotation, but I have also seen guidance that there is no prescribed form of meditation that is classified as Bahá'í meditation. It is my personal opinion that maybe, having covered this in previous dispensations and knowing that knowledge of meditation techniques is available in the world it was not necessary to include this in the writings. They say we should meditate and we can find out how best to do this for our own situation.
"As to meditation: This also is a field in which the individual is free.There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged--nay enjoined--to pray, and they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual." -- (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 25, 1943: Spiritual Foundations:Prayer, Meditation, and the Devotional Attitude)
 
Old 01-22-2016, 08:43 AM   #13
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Thank you, randalljazz. That was the quotation I had in mind.
 
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