|10-26-2012, 11:20 AM||#41|
Open Minded Seeker
Joined: Oct 2012
: that definitely sounds twisted. Sounds like these Baha'is were old-school / traditional. Being a Persian I will tell you there can be differences with the Iranian Baha'i emigrants coming from a more reserved culture.
But there are no authorities as such within the local Baha'i communities. People may sometimes infer more respect upon more established community members, but if you ask me, all members should treat all others like manifestations of God themselves to be a True Servant.
: I have taken Ruhi before. The purpose of Ruhi is more to teach values and virtues of the Baha'i Faith in developing nations.
That for like a decade (around when I started becoming less active to the point of not considering myself as a "member" in the stricter sense) everybody was urging you to do Ruhi does , IMO , was a hindrance to those members of the community who had no desire to go spend in developing nations to teach others and want to advance their own knowledge and learning.
Such mechanisms are not so institutionalized in the Faith, and it is dependent upon individuals to undertake these pursuits for their benefit and the benefit of others.
The very last Baha'i conference I attended (2008/2009, I believe) they were encouraging people to go door-to-door, visit neighbors, approach strangers, etc...to arrange personal firesides.
That turned me off and left me to my own devices. Now I am getting into religious history and not relying on other people for my information and spiritual insights/advancement.
My 2 cents. Hope it helps.
|10-26-2012, 12:18 PM||#42|
Joined: Sep 2012
What, may I ask, are you reading now? I'm reading some Christian/Islamic history right now by F.E. Peters. I highly recommend him.
Last edited by GenuineSeeker; 10-26-2012 at 12:21 PM.
|10-29-2012, 02:57 PM||#43|
Joined: Dec 2011
From: BayTown TX
Thank you for not going door-to-door. Somehow Baha'i authorities didn't get the memo about Americans hating door-to-door religious sales people.
|10-30-2012, 08:47 AM||#44|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: dehradun, india
Dear Geniune Seeker, Fadl, Noexalt, BruceDLimber, Sen McGlinn, Arthra, Napkin, tonyfish 58, Itena, Emilia and all those who have read but not yet participated in this discussion:-
When a person examines a tree which has grown to massive proportions from close quarters, it is easy to get confused as one cannot see the whole from a distance, the branches all appear different leading to different assessments of the size of fruit and its ripeness and colour, the flowers and leaves of varied size and shape, some green and healthy portions and other diseased portions and so on. When we call out to our friends and tell them about what we can observe in our part of the tree, the result can be very much like the discussion that we have had here.
The best way to get to the truth is to have some idea of the roots and some idea about that way that the tree has grown from the seed to the shoot and to what it is today. Few people know the story as well as I do and the causes which have led to the present situation today. Hence, I wish to share with you some of the facts which will, I am confident, help in clearing and ventilating the air. Although I have only recently joined the Baha'i Forum, my family has had four generations in the Faith and I myself have served the Faith for over 50 years during which I have seen amazing, unprecedented and unbelievable changes, not only in the Baha'i community but very much so in the attitudes, quality, nature, behaviour and mindset of the individual Bahá’is. I have seen persons who are physically in this world but their heart and soul exists only in the world of Spirit; at the other end of the spectrum were what have been called in this discussion ‘creepy persons’, yes we get all sorts of people accepting the Faith and none knows who has seen what and for which purpose they have come in – Bahá’u’lláh has written “O SON OF SPIRIT! Know thou of a truth: He that biddeth men be just and himself committeth iniquity is not of Me, even though he bear My name.”
However, in the half century and more that I have seen with my own eyes, never mind the experiences of hindsight and insight I have gained from my forefathers, the general quality of the great majority of Bahá’is has improved tremendously and it will continue to do so. Thereafter the decline will set in and the time will come for some proper servicing and a new examination in the form of a new Manifestation. But I shall leave this topic for another day and return to the present one. Bahá’u’lláh has given us 1000 years to make the world a better place.
My Friends: To give you the background first, let me take you back to the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the days when we first began Mass Teaching in India and the early 1970’s when we started University Teaching campaigns. India has over 70000 villages, not to speak of the cities, a country with a sixth of the world’s population. Those were the days when an old country which had newly become a young and independent nation was filled with a desire to surge forward and break the shackles of the past. There was an atmosphere of great receptivity and eagerness of new ideas. At every place the Bahá’is were welcomed, the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh were appreciated and people joined the Faith in scores. The most popular were the 19 day feasts with the devotionals, the social mingling and the sense of belonging to an international community – those who are in the west cannot appreciate this without living among and understanding the mindset of Indians – money collection was one of the minor parts of the Feast.
The problem was Knowledge and Deepening; how do a few people consolidate so many? Books were in short supply, summer and winter schools were haphazard, there was no proper organized study or curriculum, and as for few persons who were capable of doing the deepening - everybody was “doing their own thing.” By the early 1990’s we had 2.2 million believers on the rolls and an Administrative system struggling to educate them.
Into this scenario came Dr. Farzam Arbab, member of the Universal House of Justice. At a conference in New Delhi in February 1997, where my wife and I were invited to participate. Dr. Arbab made the following points:
1. The Universal House of Justice was greatly concerned about the lack of knowledge among the believers in India and wished that they should be deepened immediately.
2. That Dr. Arbab had developed a series of study-books in Colombia, named after his Father Ruhi Arbab, and that they had been very successful in improving the quality of Baha'i life among the believers there.
3. That the UHJ had decided to introduce the same books in India and they were meant exclusively for the Bahá’is.
4. On being asked a question about non-Bahá’is attending the same Dr. Arbab stated that there was no objection to non-Bahá’is doing the same books provided they were interested and maintained dignity and respect for the contents of the books. However, the prime purpose was to educate the Baha'i friends in the teachings of the Faith.
5. That these books were being introduced in addition to whatever studies were going on and not as a substitute for them.
6. That due to lack of a single official curriculum these books were to be used to fill that void for the present so that all Bahá’is were to have at least the same basic knowledge and speak the same basic language everywhere.
7. That the Bahá’is were free and, in fact, encouraged to study more books and writings as much as possible and as much as they could absorb.
8. The Ruhi books are a kind of beginners’ knowledge and not a comprehensive course of the Faith.
9. That it was the hope that in future an official or similar curriculum more suited to the needs of the common persons would be developed. For the present the Ruhi books being the only curriculum available they were being used.
10. That if this experiment was successful in India, then it could be, in the future introduced in the rest of the world as well.
11. That there was no such thing as a teacher and student relationship, the person who had done the books before would act as a facilitator of knowledge and those studying would be the collaborators. During discussion each one learns themselves – even the facilitators learn more insights with each session.
12. The intention was to change the character of the Baha'i Community from being only a “meeting” community into a “Meeting and Studying” community.
There were many many more discussions, points and counterpoints, to go into them would make this post into a book. So to cut the long story short this is how the experiment began and was successful enough to make the system be introduced in the rest of the world. But having said that, many other things also happened along the way, which must needs be mentioned here.
Now, in the last 15 years plus since February 1997, many things have happened. First of all new entrants into this process do not know the whole background and must rely upon those who are guiding them as their facilitators. Many of these persons are themselves quite new and in the hurry to get ahead with increasing human resources, many over-zealous persons have started applying their own understanding of the Baha'i Faith to those who come to study and rushing and hedging them into uncomfortable situations where they have to eat more than they can digest at a time.
Moreover, The UHJ has asked us to work with people. The idea is to spread the Word of Bahá’u’lláh. People are free to take their choice of one of the following three ways:
1. Reject outright. They can go their own way and no hard feelings.
2. Accept the beautiful teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and apply them in their own lives. It will help them to improve their own lives and make the world a better place.
3. Work at spreading the teachings like we Bahá’is do by word of mouth and leave them to take their choice of one of these three. If they also wish to be with us, welcome, and we help them to follow the straight and true path. But the choice is their and theirs alone we can only show them the path. As the old adage says, “You can lead the horse to water but you cannot make him drink.”
Again, the practice of learning by themselves through discussion is often not followed by some confused persons who fall to the human tendency of becoming knowledgeable ones who are now explaining to the ignorant – the attitude which the UHJ had never wanted. None of us has the right to interpret for the others, only ‘Abdu’l Baha and the Guardian had this right and the UHJ to elucidate thereupon. Yet we cannot help ourselves. I pray to Bahá’u’lláh to forgive me if I have made any such inadvertent error in writing this post.
I refer here to the book “Lights of Guidance” in relation to the above: Article 1052. The Distinction Between Authoritative Interpretation and Individual Understanding
"A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of its teachings. While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in comprehension of the teachings. In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi it is stated, 'To deepen in the Cause means to read the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form. They, therefore, present it together with all sorts of ideas that are their own. As the Cause is still in its early days we must be most careful lest we fall into this error and injure the Movement we so much adore. There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we
read the Writings, the more truths we can find in Them, the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous.' So, although individual insights can be enlightening and helpful, they can also be misleading. The friends must therefore learn to listen to the views of others without being over-awed or allowing their faith to be shaken, and to express their own views without pressing them on their fellow Bahá’is. "The Cause of God is organic, growing and developing like a living being. Time and again it has faced crisis which have perplexed the believers, but each time the Cause, impelled by the immutable purpose of God, overcame the crisis and went on to greater heights."
(From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an
individual believer, May 27, 1966)
In conclusion: The Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is Greater than all. It is genuine and it is perfect. Turn your faces to Him – to the bright “Sun of His Manifestation” and all the forces of darkness will disappear behind you. I pray that we may all be showered with Divine Confirmations! I pray that we may all remain Steadfast in His Cause!
|10-30-2012, 09:42 PM||#45|
Joined: Sep 2010
From: Tropical North Queensland Australia
We had the same situation here in Australia in the late 70's right through to the late 80's - So much teaching and a lot of people came into the Faith - problem was there was no one to deepen them as the teachers moved on to other places.
You also said "Again, the practice of learning by themselves through discussion is often not followed by some confused persons who fall to the human tendency of becoming knowledgeable ones who are now explaining to the ignorant – the attitude which the UHJ had never wanted. None of us has the right to interpret for the others, only ‘Abdu’l Baha and the Guardian had this right and the UHJ to elucidate thereupon. Yet we cannot help ourselves. I pray to Bahá’u’lláh to forgive me if I have made any such inadvertent error in writing this post".
Rest assured you have posted, in my opinion, a very apt reply :-)
I will share your insight & thoughts with fellow believers here in Far North Queensland Australia.
I will finish with your last paragrath as it is great "The Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is Greater than all. It is genuine and it is perfect. Turn your faces to Him – to the bright “Sun of His Manifestation” and all the forces of darkness will disappear behind you. I pray that we may all be showered with Divine Confirmations! I pray that we may all remain Steadfast in His Cause"!
I will be on pilgrimage in early December, I will say a special prayer for you, your community & country - Regards Tony
Last edited by tonyfish58; 10-30-2012 at 09:58 PM. Reason: Added passage
|10-31-2012, 01:52 AM||#46|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: dehradun, india
Thank you Tony for your kindness, appreciation and prayers. I too will pray ardently for you to have a wonderful pilgrimage and that all your prayers at the Holy Threshold are answered. Best wishes - Masroor.
|10-31-2012, 09:49 PM||#48|
Joined: Sep 2010
From: Tropical North Queensland Australia
I read and enjoyed it. It would have been a net glitch that caused it to be posted twice. I think Masroor may be able to delete one of them.
|11-02-2012, 11:13 PM||#49|
Joined: Sep 2012
From: dehradun, india
The offending second post (repetition) which had managed to get it inadvertently has been removed, so I do hope Napkin is partially happy now. As for the length of the original, Napkin, you are most welcome not to read it. There is an old chinese Proverb which says:
"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song."
Have a good day, Regards,