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Old 08-21-2017, 04:12 PM   #1
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Smile Convert. Lost and would love some guidance.

Hello!

So in a few months I will be 18 and free (with my parents blessing) to explore the Baha'i faith in the depth i have wished since I was 16. Next year, I will be moving cities in order to further my education and, then, I wish to meet the local community and really commit to the religion that God has placed in my heart.

I know that everything I must do will be much too much to explain in one post what being a Baha'i will require me to do. But I am afraid to approach a community knowing little of what the Baha'i faith means. I understand it's core principles, the striving for unity, the education for all, the equality of men and women and such. I understand the need to pray (is it 5 times a day?) and I have followed Baha'i prayers before. I have read Baha'i writings. I been in contact with my local Baha'i community and they helped me in many ways.

Due to my parents wishes, I have been exploring my relationship with God entirely independently over the last few years.

I guess I am just searching for encouragement as I was raised in an atheist home. Any advice, Guidance Or information would be appreciated with my whole heart.

As a quick recap, I am COMPLETELY new to the Baha'i faith and have absolutely no adult rolemodels to guide me - any help would be so appreciated.

Thank you so much. God bless you.
 
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Old 08-21-2017, 05:02 PM   #2
Minor Bloodsucker
 
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Oh, so many things I'd like to tell you. Above all you seem to approach the Faith in the right spirit. So many books for you to read - Abdu'l-Bahá's writings, the Guardian's, biographies. The best thing I can tell you is that you should try to rise above your local horizon, and try to connect to Bahá'ís at some large gatherings. And remember to be true to what your own heart tells you.

No adult role models: well, it might be better that way.

Best

from

gnat
 
Old 08-21-2017, 06:01 PM   #3
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Thank you, you really did bring a smile to my face. I try to approach my learning in an attitude of service for God and humanity. I don't always get it right, but I do try.

I know I should trust that I will be in the right place at the right time. The more I read, the more I'll learn certainly and I think I look up for some further reading. I've never thought about the large gatherings - I think I would be very afraid! But I guess we should overcome these things. Since I first read about it, the religion has really become ingrained in my mind and heart.

At least I know that I can discover the religion without fearing anothers agenda.

Thank you, greatly.

-Lauren
 
Old 08-21-2017, 06:55 PM   #4
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
Posts: 88
Hi Lauren,

I was raised in a home with no religion at all. I cannot recall thinking about God as a child, but I discovered the Baha’i Faith and became a Baha’i two weeks later when I was 17, during my first year of college. I fell away from the Faith after that but that was because of some emotional problems I had as a result of my childhood.

I never had any adult role models either but my older brother was a Baha’i, which is how I discovered it. My sister, who was a year older than me, became a Baha’i at the same time I did and several years later my mother became a Baha’i. My dad had died years earlier so he never heard of it.

I have never felt close to God and I became a Baha’i because of the teachings. I am curious how someone who was raised an atheist would get interested in religion or God. I ask that because most of the people I talk to online are atheists and very antagonistic to religion. They also say they cannot believe in God because there is no evidence that God exists.

I fell away from Baha’i for decades but five years ago I decided to come back. Since then, my whole life aside from my work has been about learning about and sharing the Faith with others. As a result of posting to many people on forums I know a lot about the Baha’i Faith so if there is anything you wonder about, or if you just need emotional support on your path, I am here. I have always been very interested in psychology and I have a degree in Counseling Psychology but I am not presently working in that field.

Regards, Trailblazer
 
Old 08-21-2017, 07:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
Hi Lauren,

I was raised in a home with no religion at all. I cannot recall thinking about God as a child, but I discovered the Baha’i Faith and became a Baha’i two weeks later when I was 17, during my first year of college. I fell away from the Faith after that but that was because of some emotional problems I had as a result of my childhood.

I never had any adult role models either but my older brother was a Baha’i, which is how I discovered it. My sister, who was a year older than me, became a Baha’i at the same time I did and several years later my mother became a Baha’i. My dad had died years earlier so he never heard of it.

I have never felt close to God and I became a Baha’i because of the teachings. I am curious how someone who was raised an atheist would get interested in religion or God. I ask that because most of the people I talk to online are atheists and very antagonistic to religion. They also say they cannot believe in God because there is no evidence that God exists.

I fell away from Baha’i for decades but five years ago I decided to come back. Since then, my whole life aside from my work has been about learning about and sharing the Faith with others. As a result of posting to many people on forums I know a lot about the Baha’i Faith so if there is anything you wonder about, or if you just need emotional support on your path, I am here. I have always been very interested in psychology and I have a degree in Counseling Psychology but I am not presently working in that field.

Regards, Trailblazer
Hey, Trailblazer.

I think we are similar in many way. Firstly, I have loved psychology for as long as I can remember and hope to further my studies in clinical psychology next year. Secondly, I have struggled with my belief in God since (literally) everyone around me is atheist. I can comfortably say "there is no scientific evidence of God's existence". I am okay with that.

One of my favourite Baha'i quotes goes “Religion and science are the two wings upon which man’s intelligence can soar into the heights, with which the human soul can progress. It is not possible to fly with one wing alone!” (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pg. 143).

In the same way that science cannot prove religion, religion cannot prove science. It makes me think about a psychology case study I saw (watch: ) were the brain was spilt in half and acted separately. It seems that humans -by their very nature- can be spilt into rational (scientific) and emotional (spiritual) parts.

My person journey started with a bible I found laying on the street and my believes progressed from there. I found the Baha'i faith and all began to feel right.

One of the main "evidence" (I use the term lightly) that helps me concrete my belief in God is the nature of humans to gravitate towards a deity. (1) Almost all societies, however remote, have some form of God or Gods. (2) Sometimes even the most devote atheists pray in times of crisis. (3) People like us, who know "rationally" that God does not exist- but somewhere inside we feel something and we still believe anyway. I ask you sincerely, why do you share the faith?

I find that atheists have rarely read religious texts or studied spiritual matters. In the same way that many just accept the religion of their parents, atheists accept the atheism of theirs.

Often I have cursed God, asked why he is no not there. But then, when I pray selflessly, I feel so at peace and I am just no longer afraid. I still remember the first time I prayed without another agenda and I cried and I had no idea why!

I know I am so young, and so many people discount me in my day to day life. I have a very toxic family life but I always find peace in churches or while praying.

I guess that sums up my initial thoughts and I am so sorry it is so long!

Thank you for the other! I think I will certainly take you up on that.
 
Old 08-21-2017, 08:03 PM   #6
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I just want to add that these are my completey personal beliefs and I am sharing my thinking process biased on my own limited experience, not anything i claim is "fact"

- Thanks
Lauren
 
Old 08-21-2017, 09:53 PM   #7
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
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Hi Lauren,

I have always been a loner and I make my own way in life... That is why I am called Trailblazer! That is probably owing to the fact that as a child I was on my own, since neither parent was emotionally available. I had my older sister and she kind of watched out for me but she was mean at times so that was not a lot of help... I was not close to my brother, seven years my senior, but he is the one who told me about the Faith so I owe him a lot.

I am also an introvert so I do not like socializing at all, which keeps me away from the Baha’i community events.

I am not much influenced by those around me since I always think for myself. I say that with glib tongue in cheek because I am surrounded by atheists more than believers on forums and I think some of their attitudes towards God have taken a toll on my faith. The only other people I am close to are Baha’is on forums and my husband who has been a Baha’i for decades and is a very strong believer in God. Duane on this forum is my bff and he is also very supportive of me because he is a strong believer and a longtime Baha’i.

I would have gone on to get my PhD in psychology after I got my MA but I got interested in homeopathic medicine and went to school for that, the School of Homeopathy in Devon, UK. During those years I had lost interest in religion and in God. I am still interested in psychology but only have so much time, so at my age I have to make choices. I feel I have a lot of work to do to get close to God.

After I became a Baha’i, I never doubted that God exists. I am not one to need proof, I just know it intuitively. Also, I think Baha’u’llah is enough evidence of God’s existence. My problem has been my “attitude” towards God, wondering if God is good. The reason I wonder is because I see so much suffering in the world, my own included.

I guess you could say I came into the Baha’i Faith for intellectual reasons, because I considered progressive revelation and everything else about the Faith logical. I was touched by the stories about Abdu’l-Baha, but I never thought much about God until the last five years. When I did think I was just angry but I have worked my way through that for the most part. Now I just do not feel much of anything! I often wonder if that is because I was not brought up as a Christian, as are most people in the United States.

Most of the atheists I know from forums know more about the Bible than many Christians but of course they do not believe it was inspired by any God. They think it is storybook fiction.

In answer to your question about why I share my Faith, that is because Baha’u’llah wrote that is the most important thing that a Baha’i can do in their life. However, first one must be firm in their faith and knowledgeable enough about the Baha’i Faith. There are some other opinions about teaching on the thread I posted here called “Teaching.” Of course we have to take care of ourselves and work on our own relationship to God, but I have found the best way to grow spiritually is to put myself aside and think more about others who have no belief in God.

Well, that is all for now.

Trailblazer
 
Old 08-21-2017, 11:37 PM   #8
Kam
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Joined: Jun 2015
From: Perth, Australia
Posts: 159
Hi Lauren,

What an exciting journey you have ahead of you! I often wish I was young again (although I'm not that old lol) and discovering the Faith and the depths of pearls it has within its Ocean.

The Baha'i Faith never ceases to amaze me.

You may be interested to know that I have recently discovered from study of the Baha'i Writings that Baha'is should comfortably believe that "there is no scientific evidence of God's existence". The only scientific evidence for anything resembling God is the existence of Baha'u'llah and the dynamic transformative power of His Revelation. His Person is my God. I cannot cling to anything but Him. I don't know if anything but Him exists. I can comfortably say that now as a long time Baha'i.

The second thing I can now comfortably say is that science and religion according to the Writings (from my humble understanding) are one and the same thing.

True science IS true religion. They are both looking at the same realities from different angles.

Happy to discuss more if you wish

Kam
 
Old 08-22-2017, 03:04 AM   #9
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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From: Normanton Far North Queensland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kam View Post
Hi Lauren,

What an exciting journey you have ahead of you! I often wish I was young again (although I'm not that old lol) and discovering the Faith and the depths of pearls it has within its Ocean.

The Baha'i Faith never ceases to amaze me.

You may be interested to know that I have recently discovered from study of the Baha'i Writings that Baha'is should comfortably believe that "there is no scientific evidence of God's existence". The only scientific evidence for anything resembling God is the existence of Baha'u'llah and the dynamic transformative power of His Revelation. His Person is my God. I cannot cling to anything but Him. I don't know if anything but Him exists. I can comfortably say that now as a long time Baha'i.

The second thing I can now comfortably say is that science and religion according to the Writings (from my humble understanding) are one and the same thing.

True science IS true religion. They are both looking at the same realities from different angles.

Happy to discuss more if you wish

Kam

Well done Kam, these are important matters to consider.

Both ideas on the Manifestation and science have firm foundations in the writings.

There have been some lively discussions in the past on these issues.

In the end we are told that the views are only wrong if they become the cause of dissagrement, if disagreement is found, then both are wrong.

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-22-2017, 03:07 AM   #10
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Hello Lauren, welcome and I wish you all the best on your journey.

We are always here to share our experiences and ideas with you. I look forward to learning more from you as each poster brings a fresh new look at life and Faith.

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-22-2017, 03:20 AM   #11
Kam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post

In the end we are told that the views are only wrong if they become the cause of dissagrement, if disagreement is found, then both are wrong.

Regards Tony
This indeed is very true dear brother.

Love to you all and always praying for you and your loved ones in your services to the Cause

Kam
 
Old 08-22-2017, 06:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post
In the end we are told that the views are only wrong if they become the cause of dissagrement, if disagreement is found, then both are wrong.
Is there a quote from scripture for this, or at least a ruling from the UHJ? Forgive me if I sound incredulous, but Baha'u'llah himself spent most of his time disagreeing with others. I can hardly believe a difference of opinion somehow invalidates truth...
 
Old 08-22-2017, 08:16 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren View Post
Thank you, you really did bring a smile to my face. I try to approach my learning in an attitude of service for God and humanity. I don't always get it right, but I do try.

I know I should trust that I will be in the right place at the right time. The more I read, the more I'll learn certainly and I think I look up for some further reading. I've never thought about the large gatherings - I think I would be very afraid! But I guess we should overcome these things. Since I first read about it, the religion has really become ingrained in my mind and heart.

At least I know that I can discover the religion without fearing anothers agenda.

Thank you, greatly.

-Lauren
Welcome, Laurel! I wish you the best in this journey. I am a new convert and I have found only warmth and help from everyone here at the Forum and also at the local assembly where I live.

Regarding the size of the gatherings, I think the advice of attending larger gatherings is the best as it will offer you more opportunities to find young people like you and choose among more activities that you may like.

However, if you are more into smaller groups, that is also great.
I personally love smaller groups: I feel more comfortable and think I can develop deeper relationships with the friends.

So you may try to experiment with groups of different sizes and compositions, if they are available in your city. As my friends say above, this is really a journey... an adventure!
 
Old 08-22-2017, 08:25 AM   #14
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From: UK
Posts: 7
Talking

Hi. Trailblazer.

I find it interesting that you lost your faith momentarily in the UK (which is where I am btw). I think the difference between English and American culture generally is that in England you are assumed to be atheist unless stating otherwise whereas in America you are asumed to be a Christian. I think that may explain the difference in our general experience of atheists and Christians.

When I introduced my friend to the Faith, they call themselves "Baha'i in principle, but not in faith" whenever asked because the principles of the Faith are very easy to accept as good and moral.

And thank you for your thoughts on selflessness. I hope that I learn to be able to be truly selfless throughout the journey of my life. (I will read your thread).

Kam,

Thank you for your words of encouragement and I am truly grateful that I have the freedom to explore this wonderful Faith.

The ideas of science often held me back from religion in the path, so to find a Faith that, not only accepts, but embraces science is refreshing and encouraging.

I find it strange that often what I already *felt* as true is confirmed by the Writings.
I have been told before that the acceptance of a text as evidence of itself is "circular logic". But, it is evidence enough of me and, perhaps, that is what is important. I definitely need to start studying the Baha'i Writings in more depth as I know there is so much they can offer.

Tony,

Thank you for the greetings and I grateful for the opportunity to learn about the Faith alongside all of you.

Camachoe,

Thank you for the guidance and encouragement 😁. I will definitely try to experience and experiment with different group sizes and different experiences alongside independently studying the Faith.
This post has certainly made me feel excited to embark on this adventure!


(I know I have said it many times but) Thank you everyone.

Best wishes, Lauren
 
Old 08-22-2017, 12:54 PM   #15
Tony Bristow-Stagg
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Is there a quote from scripture for this, or at least a ruling from the UHJ? Forgive me if I sound incredulous, but Baha'u'llah himself spent most of his time disagreeing with others. I can hardly believe a difference of opinion somehow invalidates truth...
Thank you, it is not about disagreement, it is about arguing over it.

I am short of time to find the quote from Baha'u'llah, it was of the schools of though about the Station of the Mesenger. One side seeing the Mesenger as the Mediator and the other side as God. Both sides are True and both are wrong if it becomes the cause of dispute. Most likely on the Kitab-i-quan.

This from Abdul'baha

If two individuals dispute … both are wrong. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 84)

Regards Tony
 
Old 08-22-2017, 01:39 PM   #16
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From: Kettering, Ohio USA
Posts: 73
Lauren,

As Trailblazer (Susan) says we are best friends. As to your question about prayer, it is obligatory to say only 1 prayer a day. You have a choice between the short obligatory prayer, the medium obligatory prayer, or the long obligatory prayer. The short obligatory prayer is said between noon and sunset, the long obligatory prayer can be said anytime during the day, and if you choose the medium prayer, it is said three times a day.

The rest have covered enough so I don't need to say anything else.
 
Old 08-22-2017, 01:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duane View Post
Lauren,

As Trailblazer (Susan) says we are best friends. As to your question about prayer, it is obligatory to say only 1 prayer a day. You have a choice between the short obligatory prayer, the medium obligatory prayer, or the long obligatory prayer. The short obligatory prayer is said between noon and sunset, the long obligatory prayer can be said anytime during the day, and if you choose the medium prayer, it is said three times a day.

The rest have covered enough so I don't need to say anything else.
Oh! Thanks a lot for that I guess I just assumed they all needed to be said!

- Lauren
 
Old 08-22-2017, 02:15 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by tonyfish58 View Post
In the end we are told that the views are only wrong if they become the cause of dissagrement, if disagreement is found, then both are wrong.
Are you referring to disagreements between science and religion or disagreements in general?? I can't seem to gleam the meaning from the context...

But if it is the latter, forgive me, for I quite literally cannot help myself...

"I disagree with that statement. Views that cause disagreement don't cause both sides to be wrong." So if we are now both wrong because of that, then disagreement causes both sides to be wrong and disagreement does not cause both sides to be wrong. Huzzah!! I made a paradox!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lauren
I guess I am just searching for encouragement as I was raised in an atheist home. Any advice, Guidance Or information would be appreciated with my whole heart.
Welcome!! Have fun on your glorious search!!
 
Old 08-22-2017, 08:44 PM   #19
Kam
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Joined: Jun 2015
From: Perth, Australia
Posts: 159
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scribe View Post
Is there a quote from scripture for this, or at least a ruling from the UHJ? Forgive me if I sound incredulous, but Baha'u'llah himself spent most of his time disagreeing with others. I can hardly believe a difference of opinion somehow invalidates truth...
https://books.google.com.au/books?id...ist%22&f=false

The quote is actually at the bottom of page 175

This is different to the "clashing of differing opinions" which is, of course the cornerstone of Baha'i Administration. What Tony and I were referring to was the endless arguments which result in animosity and disputes.

Kam

Last edited by Kam; 08-22-2017 at 08:47 PM.
 
Old 08-23-2017, 06:03 AM   #20
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Greetings Lauren,

This is good news. You have just taken your first step into a larger world.

There is a role model within the United Kingdom. He has passed away now but due to Bahá'í law stipulating that a believer should be buried within an hours travel from the point where they departed from this world, he in now resting within New Southgate Cemetery in London as opposed to the Bahá'í World Centre in Israel. This is why Bahá'ís from all over the world regularly travel to London pay their respects to him. If you are keen to visit you will find directions here Guardian?s Resting Place | ukBahá?í

Do appreciate that there is a small reception that is run by the Custodians of the Resting Place of Shoghi Effendi. They welcome visitors from all around the world. This is why it is such an excellent venue to meet genuine Bahá'ís. The Custodians have a home close by and they sometimes hold personal firesides there. These are well worth attending. So if you are from the United Kingdom and live close to London, I would certainly recommend that you pay this sacred place for Bahá'ís a personal visit.

Be happy, be joyful and always understand that only you can control your own destiny in life.

Earth
 
Old 08-23-2017, 07:39 AM   #21
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Joined: Aug 2017
From: UK
Posts: 7
Walrus,

Thank you!

Earth,

I am close to London and I will definitely have to look at the link. Thank you so much for that information. I really appreciate it.

- Lauren
 
Old 08-23-2017, 09:02 PM   #22
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Joined: Aug 2017
From: United States
Posts: 1
>> Independent investigation of truth -- a core principle. Looks like you already have taken that up. Carry on.
>> Unity in diversity -- The adult role model comes in here. you will find Baha'is that are of every kind of personality with all the attendant virtues and faults. Every earnest practitioner is praying and striving to develop the first and overcome the second. It is a lifelong endeavor. Just find the person or persons that seem to be a good fit for you, that seem to know the Faith in some depth and nurture a friendship. Baha'is are truly like anyone else.
>> Serving mankind -- What Baha'is have is access to the latest revelation. Those that have truly studied and practiced their spiritual life are able to point out in an informed way how we endeavor to take Baha'u'llah's lessons and 'Abdu'l-Baha's teachings and example and apply it meaningfully in the current world. There's a lot of specifics here, much of it from the Universal House of Justice which is our guiding influence in the world, today. This is the time of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God on earth. What Baha'u'llah did was give us the instructions. It is our act of service to get it done, and each generation of Baha'is builds on the achievements of the previous generation and produces the gains and successes that are handed off to the next generation. Once you have opportunity to read some Baha'i history you will see that in everywhere Baha'is have been and worked.
>> With that, let me suggest, just for your consideration, you ask about and examine what Baha'is are doing to build community; locally, nationally and world wide. Find something you would like to do and get engaged. Eventually you will know if and when you would want to formally become a member. Don't rush it. That's some more of the "independent" part. The friends and the role models will appear probably at the start and you will be pleased with how naturally it all happened.
>> Baha'is can get pretty excited about it all. After all, it's God's work and, in its best moments can be inspiring and exhilarating. But, find your own pace. This is way too important. If you find that time when it seems Baha'u'llah's teachings are talking to you, you will want to take it up for a lifetime and you don't either want to neglect it or to burn out on it.

The Spirit be with you.
 
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