Baha'i culture and health..

Jun 2006
I was going to recommend a book that is still avaible from the publishing trust called Divine Therapy.

- Art
Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia
I am going to recommend a book.....

I am going to recommend a book that is available from Baha'i Library Online(BLO), the Baha'i Academics Resource Library. The book is entitled: The New Paradigm of Learning and Growth in the Baha'i Community. I posted an introduction to the paradigmatic shift in the Baha'i community, the new culture of learning and growth that is at the heart of this paradigm, some five years ago. I did this posting at several internet sites and have updated/revised that post many times in these last five years. It seemed like a good idea to give readers some specific steps on how to access this now revised article, what is now a book of 230,000 words and over 650 pages(in font 14) at Baha’i Library Online(BLO). The Association for Bahá’í Studies New Zealand in 2007 launched its open access, internationally oriented, peer reviewed electronic periodical OJBS: Online Journal of Bahá’í Studies, but in January 2009 that initiative was discontinued. One of its first issues would have been devoted to an exploration of this new paradigm.

In this six year period(9/07-7/13) there have been many thousand views of this analysis, this statement on the new paradigm at the few sites where it has been posted, ten thousand at BLO alone. In addition to googling "Baha'i Culture of Learning and Growth" and accessing this article in the process at several internet sites, readers can find this article/.book at BLO by clicking on the following:
Readers can also access the latest edition of this article at BLO by taking the following steps: (i) type Baha’i Library Online or Baha’i Academics Resource Library into your search engine; (ii) click on the small box “By author” at the top of the access page at BLO; (iii) type “Price” into the small box that then appears and click on the word “Go;” and then (iv) scroll down to article/document item #47 and (v) click on that item and read to your heart’s content. When your eyes and your mind start to glaze over, stop reading. The article can be downloaded free and you will then have access to a revised article, a 650 page, 200,000 word context for all this new paradigmatic terminology that has come into the Baha’i community in the 20 years: 1996 to 2016.

The statement is a personal one, does not assume an adversarial attitude, attempts to give birth of as fine an etiquette of expression as I can muster and, I like to think, possesses both candour and critical thought on the one hand and praise and delight at the process on the other. I invite readers to what I also like to think is “a context on which relevant fundamental questions” regarding this new paradigm may be discussed within the Baha’i community. It is also my intention to update this article in the months and years ahead. One of the advantages of the BLO site is the freedom it gives to a writer to update the article right on the site in an ongoing process as new insights from major thinkers in the Baha'i community and information from the elected and appointed institutions of the Cause comes to hand.

If time and the inclination permit, check it out. No worries, no obligation, just if it interests you. You may find the piece of writing too long as I'm sure many readers do. You may also find it too personal due to the fact that I attempt to answer the question: “where do I fit into this new paradigm?” After a few paragraphs of reading, you will get the flavour of the exercise. Just keep reading if your mind and spirit are enjoying the process.
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Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia
The wall and the window

Since no one has responded in the last year, I will add some of that part of my book which I could not fit into the space available at Baha'i Library Online. BLO has the largest collection of Baha'i resources in cyberspace. I have had some 200,000 clicks on my writing since I registered at this site as the 21st century turned its corner in 2001. The post below is a long one and readers are advised to simply stop reading when their eyes start to glaze over.-Ron in Tasmania
This is the first half of the remaining part, Part 2, of my book on the new Baha’i paradigm, the new culture of learning and growth in the Baha’i community which, by 2016, will have been in place---and evolving---for two decades. There was not enough room at BLO to place this Part 2 of my book on the new Baha’i paradigm where Part 1 was/is located at BLO. I have, therefore, kept it on file in my computer. My last entry to this document was on 9 January 2013. There is not enough room here to place the rest of my book in this post and so i will divide it into two parts of which this is the first.-Ron

I think the best line from the TV program(1) I watched last night was: “it is important for each of us to have the courage to fail.” Fear and superstition in the general public slowed the progress on open-heart surgery, heart transplants and the use of artificial hearts in the field of cardiovascular surgery and medical pioneers like the ones shown this evening simply ignored the opposition in the public domain to their work.

In the years 1944 to 1953 pioneers like Dwight Harken, John Gibbon and Walton Lilleher were three of the major founding fathers of the field of cardiovascular surgery, a field that is arguably just as old as I am: 69 years. Lillehei, with five university degrees in his pocket, completed the first successful surgical repair of the heart. He was 35 and the date was September 2, 1952. He was the first person to look inside a beating heart, which beats 100 thousand times a day and four litres of blood per minute. On May 6, 1953, John Gibbon performed the world's first open-heart procedure under extra-corporeal circulation.-Ron Price with thanks to (1) Dwight Harken in “Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery,” SBS TV, 8:30-9:30 p.m. 13 January 2009.

During this same year, from October 1952 to October 1953, the Baha’i community celebrated a Holy Year marking the Centenary, the hundredth anniversary, of the Birth of the Revelation, the first intimations of the glorious Mission, of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith in the Siyah-Chal in Teheran. This event in the international Baha’i community was the anniversary of an epoch-making period from 12 October 1852 to 12 December 1852, unsurpassed from a Baha’i perspective, by any episode in the world’s spiritual history outside Baha’i history.

This Holy Year also saw the dedication of the Mother Temple of the West, the holiest in all the Baha’i world in Chicago on 2 May 1953, an event which marked the inception, again from a Baha’i perspective, of the Kingdom of God on earth and the appearance in the world of existence of “a most wonderful and thrilling motion.”(2) In 1953 gilded golden tiles were placed on the dome of the Shrine of the Báb. This was the last unit of that shrine and symbolized the consummation of the greatest enterprize undertaken at the World Centre of this Faith. The year 1953 also saw the inauguration on 21 April 1953, of a ten year world spiritual crusade, the third stage of the first epoch of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’is Divine Plan during which my parents and I became members of the Baha’i Faith in Canada. -Ron Price with thanks to ‘Abdu’l-Baha in God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi, Wilmette, 1957, p.351.

I was only in grade four back then and
just beginning my baseball-years-career,
a fleeting period and my ice-hockey life;
my adolescence and life in a little town
in a little house in a little world with its
birthday-parties, TV programs, endless
indulgences, straight lines at school and
pretty little girls marked: don’t touch!!!

My mother accepted an invitation to a
home of one of those conspirators who
drank from one of those same wells the
ones that could be found, by then----all
around the planet. Not dismayed were
these co-conspirators by headlines they
called to their witness; they carried the
answers like neat balls of coloured yarn,
familiarly handled, spun of truth and in
their ready-made dresses, sensible shoes.

How did my mother get caught in their
web back then when Kruschev was on
his way to the top and a Holy Year was
giving a wonderful and thrilling motion
its kick-start, a kick-start to the Kingdom
of God on earth—and no one really knew?

How did she get caught in their web when
cardiac-surgery was getting its kick-start?
This brutal, bloody and dangerous history
of surgery developed so rapidly because
men were not afraid to fail and so, too, we
refined inheritors, spiritual descendants, of
the dawnbreakers must not be afraid to fail
as we go about teaching the seekers among
our contemporaries year after year with only
discouragingly meagre results dealing as we
do with the fear and superstition of masses
who have no idea of the healing message we
bring as they sink deeper into a slough of
despond and as they do battle with phantoms
of a wrongly informed imagination, ill-equipped
to interpret the social commotion everywhere.

Ron Price
9/1/'09 to 9/1/'13
-------------------------------------MORE BELOW----------------------------

And so I write, not so much to tell the story of Baha’i history, of the Baha’i community, for that has been told many times. I write as a means of seeking my own understanding, of finding my own voice and, in the process, it is my hope that others will benefit not so much by my example, my insights and views, although I like to think there are some insights in this book that have contemporary relevance, but more from the tone and manner of this book and the sense of encouragement I hope it provides and which I trust results from an honesty about my battles and struggles. If I let others know of my struggles, perhaps others will find the courage to fight their battles when the chips are down. If they know of my trials and despairs, perhaps they will approach their own with a sense of practical realism and not unrealistic hopes and impractical aspirations that so often lead, in the end, to embittered spirits and discouragement which eats at men’s souls.

Turning to the teachings, they may be able to overlook the peculiarities and attitudes of others, inevitably to be found in community, and also come to slowly acquire the skills and the personal meanings, the capacity, that will enrich their own lives and help them cope with the failures and loss they experience as part of their own lives. Beginning with the writings of the Central figures and the battles They had to deal with and continuing over more than a century and a half with a genre of writing that has dealt with the struggles of individual Bahais, this encouragement of the type I refer to here can now be found in many sources both in Bahai literature as well as the religious and philosophical literature on other paths. Such literary sources can be inspirational. And, of course, there are many stories of the experience of others in other communities around the globe available in the mass media which are often even more inspirational and often speak more directly to people's experience.
-------------------------------------AND YET MORE BELOW------------------------

There has been, for more than a century and a half, a great silence on the part of most of my fellow believers when it comes to autobiography, memoirs, life-writing, accounts of their experience and that of their community. There has been an equal silence, a gap, an abyss, which I find fascinating, between the outer self, in some ways a fictitious but certainly a social, on-stage, person whom I and others carry partly like a mask about the world and a secret, inner, self. This is not due to any lack of self-reflection. I have intended to write of both these worlds in several genres: poetry, narrative and, of course, diaries. In some ways the interface between these two worlds is immensely complicated, always much more than can be recovered, revealed and understood and much that can never be remembered or written down.

Not taking offence and not giving it also creates and requires many silences in life and depends on a diplomacy that one gets lots of practice at implementing if one is to avoid argument and dissent, an intellectual contradiction to those who would be unifiers of the children of men. If one is not to give offence it is often better that one keep one's real opinions to oneself. If one is not to take offence the avoidance of verbal lance and parry and punitive rebuttals is useful but difficult. Autobiography and its epic nature as expressed in my poetic prose helps me overcome these silences--at least partly. There are many difficult lines to walk in life if those lines are to be useful to others. In writing memoirs the writing of useful lines is also difficult if one is to publish words that are more than dry bones. Not taking and not giving offence, is just one of the more demanding challenges the traveller is faced with obstacles at every turn.

I want to release pent up emotion and give expression to my deepest thoughts but also avoid the dangers in excessive but genuine self-revelation, sometimes called confession. At the same time I want to free myself from my present cotton-wool reality and the potential remoteness of this autobiographical record of mine. This can be done in the context of this new culture of learning, but it is not easy. War-babies and baby-boomers, as well as generations X,Y and Z, all face the challenge of, the encounter with, the spiritual malaise and the disasters of the age. How was one to transmute one’s transitory experience, with its dross of egotism and animus; how was one to refine away through, what Toynbee called some ‘tragic catharsis’(V.3, p.296); how as one to deal with the public catastrophes which overtook society in the 20th and 21st centuries;
--------------------------------------------GOODNESS NOT MORE!!!-----------------------------------------

Part 1:

Suffering ceases to be suffering when it has found a meaning wrote Victor Frankl in his now famous book Man’s Search For Meaning. These words of Frankl were quoted by Elizabeth Rochester in her long, fascinating and intellectually stimulating letter to Canadian international pioneers over twenty-five years ago. I think Frankl is partly right; sadly, many never find a meaning to their suffering. Since all of us struggle with suffering, our own and the world’s, in one way or another all our lives, the meaning of the suffering eludes millions. It is important for the generations who are experiencing this new paradigm in its earliest stages to be highly cognizant of the multitude of spiritual verities that previous generations of Bahais, perhaps as many as six if one defines a generation as a twenty-five year period, have come to experience and understand and which stand available in primary and secondary literature as well as on cassette tapes, CDs and videos to help illuminate their paths.

As the philosopher Nietzsche once wrote: lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after they are done, to be seen and heard. Many of the deeds, much of the history of this Cause over more than a century and a half is coming to light in the years of this new paradigm. It is coming to light in a quite new and relevant context. Finding the relevancy of Bahai history, the Bahai narrative and its metaphorical nature is one of the aims of the millions of interpreters, one of the many goals in the multitude of individual searches and journeys. As this new culture of learning continues in the years ahead knowledge and understanding will multiply many fold. As students of the Cause ponder Bahai texts in their study circles, as they read them in their devotional meetings; as youth, junior youth and children commit some of them to memory; as the institute process translates the understandings gained into action and as Bahai institutions and its agencies take the lead in the many relationships with the wider society, this new paradigm will advance and develop in the decades ahead.

The generations being exposed to this new paradigmatic experience are building on six generations who have been exposed to the lightning and thunder of this new Revelation. Udo Schaefer, quoting from The Dispensation of Bahaullah, writes: "Whatever is latent in the inmost of this holy cycle shall gradually appear and be made manifest, for now is but the beginning of its growth and the dayspring of the evidences of its signs." This new paradigm provides yet another opportunity for the further evidences of this growth. A relevant aphorism here might be: opportunity without capacity produces stress or, if you prefer, capacity without opportunity produces stress. This new paradigm provides everyone with opportunity and each person can channel their capacity, be it a thimble-full or a gallon-measure, into some serving to the Cause, somewhere in this all-encompassing paradigm. Such is my take, my particular way of looking at it, as the 15th year of its operation and gradual implementation is about to open in April 2010.

I remember reading how both Arnold Toynbee and Edward Gibbon, two of my favourite historians, acquired their initial inspiration for what became their life’s magnum opus, their epic: A Study of History in the case of Toynbee and The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the case of Gibbon. Epic histories, epic literature and epic journeys had been part of my reading for over forty years by the late 1990s. Epic histories, epic literature and epic journeys are part of the literary culture, the culture of learning of all Baha’is who can read and who take the Baha’i history and its teachings seriously. The Baha’i story, the religious narrative and the vision of this Cause is nothing, if not epic. Much of my writing is and was a hybrid incorporating the social, the physical and biological sciences as well as literature and poetry. My writing gradually developed what I came to see as an epic quality.

Part 2:

My writing and this book has also developed what the historian Polybius emphasized in his Oecumenical History(Book 1 chapter 4): a unity of events. This unity seems to have been imposed upon me by my attempt at a similar unity of composition. There is a single direction and a single goal Polybius wrote in relation to his age and, for me, this is also the case in this modern age, in this paradigm. There is also a divine irony in human affairs, in the daily life of the Bahai community which I cannot ignore. In addition, the Bahai writings have given me an intimation of the divine presence informing my fragment of this mysterious universe. By strenuous intellectual communion and intimate personal intercourse the Bahai writings can communicate a love of beauty and of knowledge like a light caught from a leaping flame(Plato's Letters, No.7). Finally, in listing some of the relevant factors in the production of this work, one can not ignore the role played by the changes and chances of the world and human limitation as well as what might be called those mysterious dispensations of Providence.

In 1997-1998, in the first half of the Four Year Plan(1996-2000), I began to think of writing a personal epic poem and so fashioned some ten pages as a beginning; this particular poem with its ten page beginning is still a work in progress and has not got beyond those ten pages. But by September 2000 I began to envisage my total prose-poetic output in terms of an epic since, by then, I had written several million words of prose-poetry and prose across a number of literary genres. As the efflorescence on Mt Carmel and its tapestry of beauty began to unfold, I felt my writing pregnant with meaning, at least for me if not for others. The sheer size of my epic work in its several genres, it seemed, made the concept of my total oeuvre as epic a natural one. I imposed, then, by sensible and insensible degrees over a period of years, the epithet--epic--on this great swath of my writing as it sat in my computer directory.

In the year 2000, after I had crossed the bridge from that 20th century, I began saying Alla'u'Abha 95 times a day. The enactment of the ritual provisions of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas referring to the obligatory prayers, fasting and dhikr by the House of Justice's announcement to the Bahá'í world on 28 December 1999. This has been, as far as I know, the only enactment made by the Universal House of Justice which I can discern as constituting an act of legislation during the first 15 years of this paradigm. All my days in the 20th century had come and gone and now I was on the internet at thousands of sites and in published books. I was able at last to attract receptive souls to the Cause more than ever before or so it seemed to me as clear as the sun shining in the sky. As the unfolding magnificence of the Terraces began to capture public attention and as a sense of dynamic transformation and a coherence of vision and activity began to give to my mind and heart and their expectations a certain chronology for the future of my own activity---I began to see how I could make my own mark and make it quite specifically in the teaching work and in this new paradigm.

The idea of a paradigmatic shift, a new culture of learning and of growth, had come to take on a whole new meaning for me as the 1990s unfolded, as I crossed that bridge into the new millennium. My writing began to become a medium for teaching in a way it had never done before. The early years of the new millennium and the first two of many decades in the context of this new culture of learning and of systematic action had opened-up new avenues of teaching for this Bahai now in his late adulthood. My writing required the avoidance of distractions and a sense of mission, as the House emphasized in that same 2007 Ridván message; about this there was little doubt in my mind. Deepening had always been synonymous to me, among other things, “with a process of having spiritual meaning infused” into my life. And now that infusion found expression in the written word par excellence, my own written word and its focus was on teaching and consolidation, on the expansion of the Cause and the consolidation of the community I had been involved with in one way or another since the earliest years of my life, my late childhood, the years 9 to 12 years old.

Part 3:

“One of the best medicines,” Daniel Jordan one of the Causes great teachers in the last half century once wrote, “for reducing anxiety is having perceptions which make sense out of all the events going on about us.” I found this circling round, this mental circumambulation process and these comparisons with the works of others did just that; not all anxiety was eliminated, of course; but the work, my work, could go on, in gusto, by leaps and bounds. My learning and writing-time was in seclusion, solitary; it required a deepened aloneness and it found a new clarity. But, given the fact that I was interacting with more people than ever before in a direct teaching capacity in cyberspace and not in real space, as one could put it, I felt that my work was not escapist. My work did take place in a condition of solitariness and solitude, but it also found a social and intellectual intimacy that provided a real source of human happiness. My work also found a source of what might be called internal processes of integration for what had been many disintegrating factors and experiences in my life. Readers who want to follow-up on these disintegrating experiences can read my bipolar story, my chaos narrative as I call it, at this site.

I have often felt in recent years that the burden of value, as that fine writer Anthony Storr puts it in his book Solitude, with which we are at present loading interpersonal relationships is too heavy for those fragile craft to carry. But this is a separate subject too extensive to deal with here. I would recommend readers follow my comment here on Storr's book, on his many analyses of modern society and the nature of the human beings who come across our path in the expanding universe of the Bahai culture of learning and growth.

I began to make comparisons and contrasts with a number of other writers and poets, both ancient and modern, and the epic works that flowed from their pens. I found such exercises useful in order to throw light on the nature, the context and purpose of my own work. As Bahiyyih Nakhjavani emphasized in her writing our “greatness rests not in ourselves, but in our capacity and desire to circle around the great.” In addition to circling round the great souls in our Faith, through prayer and entreaty, through contemplation and reading, I found comparisons and contrasts between my own work and the works of other writers and poets, already acknowledged in the literary world, the social sciences and the humanities, for their significant contributions, provided a fertile base of insight into my own literary endeavours.

I will include here some comparisons and contrasts between my opus and that of some historians and the poetic opus of Ezra Pound and Walt Whitman, although I found William Wordsworth and Shakespeare(or whoever wrote those plays and sonnets) among many others whom I refer to in many of my prose-poems were also helpful by processes of analogical thinking, processes which are valuable tools in life's journey of the intellect. This may sound somewhat pretentious to some readers. Perhaps it is. The value of these comparisons in illuminating my own literary efforts to serve the Cause during these years of a paradigm shift or, perhaps more accurately, a gradualist or even a multi-paradigmatic shift in the life of the Baha’i community and my own life, were extensive, enriching and serendipitous.

Part 4:

The intensity and extent of this new form of action, of teaching the Cause, on a new plane--the internet--has been made possible by the employment of the written word, by an immense variety of methods of expression and varying types of response to the written expressions of others. I no longer had to focus on direct, personal, face-to-face, interaction, although I did not give this up in my many home visits. Necessity or perhaps circumstances, or Providence, had taught me an alternative method of creating works of literary art on the one hand and simple written exchange on the other. This method was more etherial, a criterion of growth in civilizations Toynbee argues, and it seemed to me much more effective: wider in range and deeper in penetration. The influence of soul on soul that I had experience in the years 1959 to 1999 always seemed narrow, superficial and bounded by the confines of the personal and institutional relations through which I was operating. I found, in writing, that my human action was transmuted into perception, thought, feeling and imagination, transcending at the same time the limits of time and space and winning its way into a field that extended to infinity.

I felt compelled, by the turn of the new millennium, in the first decade of the implementation of this new paradigm, to limit my field of action, to change my role, in what might be called practical community affairs due to the infirmities of my bipolar disorder(google: RonPrice BPD) and due also in order that I could focus on a field of action in which, as Lucretius put it, I was able to pass "far beyond the flaming walls of the world and traverse throughout in mind and spirit the immeasurable universe."(Toynbee,V.2, p.289) I participated in these first years of the new paradigm in both an etherial communion with posterity as well as in my short and narrow-verged life of the flesh with its inevitably transitory experience, its dross of egotism and animus. I do not feel I am finding my life by losing it, as some of the more enthusiastic of my coreligionists might put their story. With the poet Shelley I feel no need to "boast of my mighty deeds" if, indeed, any of my deeds are and were mighty.

It is difficult to see my writing as a mighty deed written as it is from the comfort of my home and study and in the leisure of these years of my retirement. I was able to transmute, find relief from, indeed, heal the wounds from what seemed like a lifetime of different kinds of tests and difficulties, different experiences of private and spiritual malaise into works of art, into what might become an ageless and deathless human experience as some of the written words of artists can be. The periodic experiences of malaise in my life-narrative were not characterized by stings of conscience as I looked back from these years of my retirement. Any long range benefits from this writing would be a bonus on top of the present teaching value that my writing has for the Cause.

As I say and I must emphasize, I am not trying to assuage the stings of my conscience due to sins of omission and commission, although perhaps I should, perhaps I do so unconsciously. I find my identity, indeed, I sink my identity day after day into a world of study, writing and thought as I try to transmute into creative thought my energies which had for so many long years been engaged in the practicalities of life. The writings of my religion and of the many thinkers ancient, medieval and modern are like an ambrosia which, in the evening of my life, I feel born to eat, as I try to apply my literary output to the overwhelming experiences, the titanic forces and upheavals, of my age and the panorama of my times.

Part 5:

Time, of course, would tell whether these latter-day literary contributions of my late middle age and these early years of late adulthood would be not just an ephemeral tour de force but, rather, a permanent contribution to knowledge, an everlasting possession, a triumph of spiritual ambition, as was the case of the historian Thucydides' great history of the Peloponnesian War. In the meantime as time decides such an eventuality, I can enjoy the climate of northern Tasmania which, unlike the climate of California, is not too uniformly stimulating and, as the historian Ellsworth Huntington argues in his Civilization and Climate, is sufficiently diverse but not too violently hot or cold as in some of the other places I have lived over the decades.(see pp.225-6)

For many a long year I have come to identify intimately and seriously with the Plans and programs of the Bahai community. Since the close of the Ten Year Crusade this Faith has occupied the centre-piece-stage of my life's trajectory and aspirations. The struggles of this Cause were my struggles although, in recent years, I have come to take a more detached view of the processes. The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the challenge of teaching this Cause for several decades without any significant, indeed only a meagre, response in those areas where I lived, have contributed to my taking up the pen in these hours of mental retreat. This, I have little doubt is an appropriate response to the external vicissitudes of my life, my bipolar disorder. It is the best alternative to endless talking and listening which I am unable to take part in any way for more than very short periods of time--less than perhaps two or three hours--without some ensuing exhaustion. Those wanting to know the medical cause of this exhaustion can google, as I say elsewhere in this book: Ron Price, BPD.

In my lifetime the titanic forces unleashed by the revelation of Bahaullah were shaking the world to its depths as they had done in the generation of my parents and grandparents before me. The movement toward a lesser peace was proceeding with a speed that was as fast as it was obscure. When I came to write in these latter years I was able to obtain a marvellous tranquillity and serenity of mind after a peripatetic life filled to overflowing with people, problems and the demands of employment, family and community from wall to psychological wall--and inspite of some of the rigours of my life which I discuss in that detailed googling exercise to which I refer above.

My day to day life has come to possess a regularity and studiousness not unlike Immanuel Kant's(1724-1804). His daily walks and academic routines took him nowhere outside his Prussian town but his thought radiated to the four corners of the earth. In the last ten years my writing has radiated to the many corners of a cyberspace world but my fame is measured in nanoseconds among the 156 million internet sites. This inconspicuous manifestation of my literary work has resulted in more teaching activity than in the previous four decades, 1959 to 1999, of my Bahai life--as I have indicated elsewhere in this book. I feel that I am now serving this Cause more effectively than I have in all the other more active parts of my life and, due to the infirmities of my body, it is unlikely that I will be sucked into the turmoil of practical affairs from which I have been extricated now for more than a decade.

Part 6:

Like the poet Dante(1265-1321) who was driven to withdraw from his native city, who experienced many problems in love and life and who wrote his lifework--the Divina Commedia--in the last seven years of his life, I too have withdrawn but in a different way than Dante did. My hopes for the world and my society have not been extinguished as Dante's were, but both he and I were freed to engage in our literary work, freed from the trammels of time and space. In his case that freedom resulted in his ageless and timeless masterpiece and, in my case, my new found freedom brought more literary work in the teaching field than I ever could have imagined at the outset of this new paradigm when the growth of websites on the planet was just beginning. It brought a spiritual voyage into my innermost thoughts in order to return to my community with a series of writings which were seeds for a teaching and consolidation activity, a new form of community service and social activism, beyond my highest hopes at earlier stages in my life.

Unlike the poet Ezra Pound’s epic poem Cantos which had its embryo as a prospective work as early as 1904, but did not find any concrete and published form until 1917, my poetry by 2000 had come to be defined as epic, firstly in retrospect as I gradually came to see my individual prose-poetic pieces as parts of one immense epic opus; and secondly in prospect by the inclusion, as the years went by, of all future prose-poetic and prose efforts. Such was the way I came increasingly to see my literary anchorage in epic form, sometimes in subtle and sometimes in quite specific and overt degrees of understanding and clarity from 1997 to 2000 just as this paradigmatic shift was beginning to take off in the Baha’i community as the last years of the twentieth century came to a close and the new millennium was on the horizon.
---------------------------BELOW READERS WILL FIND THE LAST ITEMS---------------------------

Part A:

This concept of my work as epic, with the gift of good and industrious hours, began, then, in 1997, after seventeen years(1980-1997) of writing and recording my poetic output and after five years(1992-1997) of an intense poetic production of over 500 pieces per annum coming out of my poem factory. The beginning of this quite intense period of poetic production synchronized with that “auspicious juncture in the history” of the Cause, the Holy Year of 1992/3, when that “rampant force,” that “quickening wind,” that “ventilation of modes of thought” and that encouragement to take time for inner reflection and for a rendezvous of our soul with the Source of our light and life” was on our radar screens, so to speak, due to the Ridván message that year. We were all informed on 21 April 1992 that the Universal House of Justice would “not forget to supplicate at the Holy Threshold” in order that the Blessed Beauty “from His retreat of deathless splendour” might fill our souls with His “revivifying breath.” I liked this idea; of course one can never be sure that what is filling our souls is His reifying breath or the many idle fancies and vain imaginations that abound in our society and fill our minds to overflowing with trivia, the allurements of immense insignificance and what the Bahai literary critic Geoffrey Nash once called the candy-floss entertainment world suited for ten year olds.

In 1997 after five years and some 2500 prose-poems sitting in my computer directory and in plastic booklets with crenelated tubes for bindings, this epic work began to take on form. What I had written between 1992 and 1997 dealt with a pioneering life of thirty-five years, a Baha’i life of thirty-eight years and an additional six years when my association with the Baha’i Faith was due to my mother’s interest, when I was still a child and junior youth. In those early years in the 1950s, this new Faith was seen more as a Movement in the public eye than a world religion in spite of the Guardian’s efforts to dispel this anachronistic, inaccurate, view. That earlier emerging paradigm was, in 1953, at about the same stage as this current paradigm shift was in 1996.

Part B:

In December 1999, just after retiring from full-time employment, I forwarded my 38th booklet of poetry to the Baha’i World Centre Library(BWCL). The BWCL had 38 booklets of poetry for each year of my pioneering venture, 1962-1999. I entitled that 38th booklet Epic. I continued to send my poetry to the BWCL until 30 December 2000. By the time of the official opening of the Terraces of the Shrine of the Bab on 21 May 2001 I had sent over 5000 poems to the BWCL. Perhaps this exercise of sending out my poetry to the BWCL, among other libraries in the Baha’i world, was part of a desire for some connective tissue to be threaded into the warp & welf of the literary work of this international pioneer. Perhaps I felt my poetry, which had had a transforming affect on the animate and inanimate features of my homefront, international and changing pioneer life, needed to have other homes, other kindred spaces, beside my own head. The affective kernel or centre of my life was Mt. Carmel, the Hill of God, the Terraces and the Arc which were just being completed. This Place had been the cynosure of my life for my entire adulthood. Was it unreasonable that I wanted my poetry to be in the library in Haifa? Perhaps. Perhaps it was sheer presumption.

Did my writings deserve a place beside whose of the Central Figures of my Faith? Recognition of this Revelation is not and has not been an easy matter for the majority who here of it for the first time, at least this is the case in Western countries and in Canada and Australia where I have lived for over sixty years. If most of those to whom I have tried to teach this Faith since the 1950s probably regarded the Bahai writings(if they were ever to get so far as to actually read them)as strange, queer, flowery, typically oriental, far too poetic and unsuitable for the West; if the language of our time, the language that fills magazines, newspapers and most novels is impoverished and emotively undernourished, in some ways it is not surprising that most of my contemporaries in Canada and Australia had difficulty coming near to this Cause. And there were many other reasons. The recognition of truth is often associated with a series of requirements which demand quite a bit from everyday man. Would my writing make it any easier? All of this, of course, is essentially tangential, to the focus of this book and I shall leave these complex questions and these subjective statements about the Bahai writings, which I hope do not offend some of my coreligionists, unanswered for now.

Part C:

This lengthening work of my poetry and prose, which I now refer to as epic, evinces a pride, indeed, a veneration for the historical and cultural past of this new Faith. This history provides me with a metaphorical, mythological, base of meaning in my life. A significant part of my confidence and hope, my vision for the future of humanity, derives from the history and the teachings of a religion which I believe has an immensely important role to play in the unfolding application of the principle of the political and religious unification of the globe to human welfare in what is, has been and will be, a long and tortuous planetization process.


There is also a practical use of my writing to local, quite personal and private associations that I give expression to in this work of poetry and prose. This work may turn out to be yet one more of the many means that currently exist, I sometimes mused as I wrote, of putting youth and adults in this new Cause in touch with the great citizens, the models and the noble deeds of the past, inspiring them with more personal, more succinct, blends of the historical, psychological and sociological aspects of their religious heritage as Baha’is. However local my efforts were, though, the core of my inspiration, both in my writing and in the derivation of my religious enthusiasms, found their origins in a spiritual, an international, perspective. I did not measure the viability and significance of my writing, my literary work, by its local reception. Nor did I measure it entirely by its teaching and consolidation function. As Paul Lample point out in his talk on 'Learning and the Unfoldment of the Bahá'í Community' in 2008 one's "scholarly work does not have to justify itself on the basis of whether it contributes to the current goals of the Five Year Plan. It is valid in its own right; it is an area of endeavour in which we have to engage."

The local strength of the Cause wherever I had lived in some 35 houses and 22 towns in my life was, for the most part, not a visible one in either the public eye or the eye of many of my fellow believers. I did not measure the religion I belonged to, what was still considered by many to be but a new religious movement, by its local strength and reception. “The bona vide context of this Cause,” as Will van den Hoonaard put it in the last sentence of his survey of the first fifty years of Baha’i history in Canada, is provided by “the advent of instant travel and international communication.” The fundamental context of the Bahai Faith is international; it is the axis of the oneness of humanity. As I have been writing in the last twenty years, I often felt as if I was there in Haifa at the Bahai World Centre. This was especially true thanks to cinema, video, DVD, cassette-tape, CD, photography, hi-fidelity sound systems, a print and electronic media which had been sensibly and insensibly transforming the world into a neighbourhood before my very eyes in the last half of the 20th century and in this new millennium. Indeed, much of history and life in contemporary society, its content and context, were being restored, recreated, illumined and revitalized before my intellectual eyes. The Tablet of Carmel itself is full of allusions, symbols and metaphors which enrich and enhance the meaning systems of the individuals in the Bahai community everywhere. I had been trying to memorize this Tablet for over twenty-five years and many of its sentences and passages had become a part of my inner life. But again, these comments are somewhat tangential to the thrust of this book.

While millions upon millions were “ill-equipped to interpret the social commotion at play throughout the planet, “ as they listened to “the pundits of error” and sank “deeper into a slough of despond,” I felt inspired by a vision, a culture of learning and a sense of authentic guidance all of which propelled what I felt was a constructive literary endeavour. Not having to do battle with the phantoms of a wrongly informed imagination and their troubled forecasts of doom, I was able to proceed with unabated action to make my mark at this crucial turning point in history. This is not to say, of course, that I see the solutions to the world's problems as simple and that I have an angle on the world's complexities which puts me in an all-knowing position. I am more than a little aware that we all only understand in part and prophesy in even lesser part. Human consciousness is simply inadequate to fathom the world's complexity.

Part D:

The disproportion between the complexity and our inadequate consciousness is becoming more and more flagrant. Human experience and reason, without an orienting aid for human behaviour and existential questions, is no longer a sure guide to social relations. These relations are simply so complex, so differentiated and human experience so specialized, complicated or incomprehensible that it is very difficult to find common symbols to relate one experience to another. Part of the function of this new paradigm is to provide another stage in the orienting structure that is the Bahai community. Udo Schaefer explores this theme and the spiritual bankruptcy of democracy very effectively in his book the Imperishable Dominion. It is crucial, but quite a complex exercise, to keep these ideas in mind as we go about our experience of this new paradigm of growth in the Bahai community. Little by little and day by day is an aphorism we all need to keep squarely in front of our intellectual perspectives, in front of our eyes and in our minds to counter the immense complexity of it all and to help us keep our noes to the proverbial grindstone with the joy that is essential and that we need if we are to keep us going day after day and year after year.


My writing journey in this last dozen years has coincided with a process, a paradigm shift, that was taking place in the religion I had belonged to for decades. This writing journey of mine has been, and I anticipate it continuing to be, an activity that I trust is helping to create memorials and monuments with an international ethos. Perhaps, I sometimes muse, these prose-poems possess a resolution, a perspective, a vision that might be indispensable to others in performing the duties of a type of global citizen of the future. Perhaps this literary work will also serve, so my musings continue, as a dedication, as a form of natural piety, not so much my own, but a dedication and a piety by which the present would become spiritually linked with the past in the minds of others who read what I wrote.

I liked to see my work as an extension into the sphere of nationhood and even internationalism. Wordsworth saw his autobiographical poetry this way. His poetry was part and parcel of his desire for continuity in his own life and in the lives of others— "The Child is father of the Man; / And I could wish my days to be / Bound each to each by natural piety." In writing it is useful to have some overriding ethos, some structure of purpose and meaning, some explicit intention and definition of ultimate concern. Rollo May calls the totality of a person's orientation to the world--intentionality. We mould and remould our world in the process and this is done, he argues, in the context of meaning and commitment. This new paradigm is nothing if not yet another form of Bahai commitment, the structure within which willing and wishing take place. Intention is a turning of one's intention toward something. And language is my way of conceiving it--hence this book which gives expression to my potentialities and indeed my very consciousness.

The man who governs his life by consciousness, by the use of the rational faculty and the cultural attainments of the mind has a completeness, writes Leach, and he can powerfully assist others. This has certainly been the case for me in the years of this new paradigm. But not everywhere and with everyone. One must accept one's limitations and in my case they are many and various. But I am the private artist with a public function. All is not seriousness; there is also frivolity and play on the internet; indeed, it is just about compulsory in many places. There is also a need for accuracy and being methodical, persistence and continuity in so many discussions which seem to never end. The internet is a flowing fibre of teaching opportunities.


As this new Cause has grown and matured in the more than a century and a half since 1844, there has been an integrated, organic, a humanistic outreach as it went about affirming in many ways, in its social and spiritual teachings, the continuity, the progression of past, present and future. In the many countries and the multitude of groups where Baha’is have played their parts as individuals and as communities, they eschewed militarism, imperialism and aggressiveness in the world around them. They went about celebrating and commemorating the cultural, national, international and individual achievements of members of their Faith and of the groups and individuals of whatever background and description they were a part.

As Baha’u’llah emphasized on the first page of his Book of Certitude, though, one must not, indeed cannot, measure this Cause by the behaviour of its adherents. Again, I have made this point before in this book, but I make it again due to its cruciality in this whole process. Baha’is aim and try but do not always achieve; inharmony and misunderstandings are part and parcel of any group of people, any paradigm.

In order to maintain and foster their identity and independence as well as their international spirit of solidarity, Baha’is have tried to sink deep into the recesses of the hearts and minds of others—for this aspect of their daily life, this intention in their interpersonal relationships, is and has been part of their ethic and ethos. This process has taken many forms. But, one cannot have deep and meaningful relationships with everyone; a certain degree of anonymity is essential in a modern mass society or our spirits would burn up in a short time. For me, one of these forms of both intimacy and anonymity has been this literary work and since 1997 I have defined this literary form, my work, as epic. The whole notion of community building and what it means to have community has just begun within the period of this new paradigmatic shift, this new culture of learning and, coincidentally, with the origin an growth of my epic literary opus. I am only commenting on this concept of community in this part of my book as a tangential part of the overall theme.

Part E:


I had begun then, as I say above, to see all of my poetry and prose somewhat like Pound’s Cantos which drew on a massive body of print or analects, a word which means literary gleanings: a sequence of chapters, poems, pieces of prose-poetry, essays, interviews and books often completely at random but not always so, with themes of adjacent items completely unrelated to each other, again, but not always so. Some central themes recur repeatedly in different parts of my total work, sometimes in exactly the same wording and sometimes with small variations, as they do in Pound’s work. Just as many central themes that had been part of my life for decades as a Bahá’í, recurred repeatedly in the new culture of learning of the Bahá’í community, sometimes with exactly the same words and sometimes with only small variations, so was this true in my writing, my memoir, my autobiography. And it always remains unfinished. And so is this true of the expression in the world of concrete reality of this new paradigm---it is always a work in progress. Indeed, it is a cumulative progress in both its outward and inward aspect. This is its growth, its expansion.

In the main the challenges within this new paradigm do not impinge from the outside but they arise from within and the victorious responses to these challenges do not take the form so much of surmounting external obstacles or adversaries, but they are to be found, they manifest themselves, in actions related to an inward self-articulation, self-determination. It is here where the criterion for growth is found. This is also true of the individuals. Their creative acts are an expression of their inward development from inchoate activity, from various forms of frenetic passivity, psychic anarchy and unorganized centrifugal tendencies to effective, psychic order and central control.

As it says in John xii, 32, in the process of this creativity they “draw men unto them” and “this is why they have come into the world.”(John xvi, 28) Living lives for remote and mighty ends is part of the life of people in this new Baha’i paradigm as it was in the old. There is always the inert uncreative and unresponsive mass of one’s kin and one’s kind even if one enjoys the companionship of a few kindred spirits. The majority of the members of society at this stage are inevitably left behind.

The Cantos, the longest poem in modern history, over eight hundred pages and, in its current and published form, written between 1922 to 1962, is, as I say, a great mass of literary gleanings. So is this true of the great mass of my poetry, prose and prose-poetry. The initial concept of my poetry as epic, though, came long after I was first influenced by poetry, long after I began writing poetry as far back as the winter of 1980 when
See the next post for the remaining part of my book.
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Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia
The Final Part of My Book On: The New Baha'i Paradigm

The initial concept of my poetry as epic, though, came long after I was first influenced by poetry, long after I began writing poetry as far back as the winter of 1980 when I kept my first poem in a file, possibly as far back as 1962 at the very start of my pioneering life when I first remember writing poetry and possibly all the way back to the 1950s when I joined the Baha’i Faith and when in 1953 my mother, also a poet, became a Baha’i. The view, the concept of my work as epic began, as I have indicated, as a partly retrospective exercise and partly a prospective one.-Ron Price, Pioneering Over five Epochs, Updated on 8/1/'13.

Part 1:

The epic journey that was and is at the base of my poetic opus, then, is not only a personal one of fifty-eight years going back to 1953, the time when my first steps in the realms of this new faith-belief took place; and the time when my firmer belief, commitment and reflection came along in my lifespan by the early 1960s. My epic literary road was and is also the journey of this new System, the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, which had its origins as far back as the 1840s and, if one includes the two precursors to this System, as far back as the middle of the eighteenth century when many of the revolutions and forces that are at the beginning of modern history find their origin: the American and French revolutions, the industrial and agricultural revolutions and the revolution in the arts and sciences.

Generally, the goal or aim of my work and the way my narrative imagination is engaged in this epic is to attempt to connect this long and complex history to my own life and the lives of my contemporaries, as far as possible. I have sought and found a narrative voice that contains uncertainty, ambiguity and incompleteness among shifting fields of reference mixed with certainties of heart and spirit. Since this poetry is inspired by so much that is, and has been, part of the human condition, this epic seems to me centred in Life Itself and the most natural and universal of human activities, the act of creating narratives as well as, as the great historian of the Renaissance Jacob Burkhardt put it: “man suffering, striving, doing, as he is and was and ever shall be.”


My prose and poetry, my epic, my religion and my society, are all engaged in an epic adventure, a crisis, a process, of epic magnitude that has to do with heroism and deeds in battle of contemporary and historical significance and manifestation. If we each want to be in contact with, in touch with, our reality, any reality we need to understand its purpose. This is what will infuse our own, our personal, epic narrative, with meaning and help us in this time of crisis, this climacteric in society. As Mr H.G. Wells divined by intuition at the turn of the 20th century Western Civilization was rushing down a steep place into the sea. At the turn of the 21st it appears to be nearly in the sea. We are indeed, in one of those ‘Times of Troubles’ as the historian Toynbee called them. They often last for centuries and they precede a Universal State.(A Study of History, V.4, p.4)

My work and my life, the belief System I have been associated with for over half a century, involves a great journey, not only my own across two continents, but that of this Cause I have been identified with as it has expanded across the planet in my lifetime, in the second century of its history. Sometimes that journey is lived in solidarity and sometimes in a solitary, alone, state, keeping one's distance from events, maintaining the peace of mind necessary for listening to one's deeper self. Though opposites, solidarity and solitude are part of this new paradigm as they always have been part of the Bahai life since the first paradigm shift on 23 May 1844.

Part 2:

This journey also involves my society and its new historical and social context in my time, my four epochs over the post-war years and into this new millennium as well as the emergence in recent decades, if not centuries, of a very complex set of moral ideas some conceived against custom and vested interests with no commonality, just by individuals with their own mythogenic private zone. Some of these ideas reinforce a sub-group of traditional religious and moral interests; some of them are part of the new definers of social reality in the electronic media; and some have a strong base among a very wide range of interest groups, idea systems, meanings and individual behaviours.

This journey of mine and its commitment must accept that along the way I may often be wrong; I may often do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing. There is a crucial dialectic between certitude and its sense of absolute conviction and perplexity and doubt. There is also a profound joy in the realization that one is helping to form the very structure of a new world. As I have gone about writing this book in recent years, and writing my autobiography in the last quarter century, I sense some inexplicable divine spark which has been kindled into flame. The stars in their courses cannot defeat the achievement of the vision of this Faith I have been associated with for nearly 60 years. I trust my efforts will contribute their small part to the attainment of the goal of the human endeavours of my coreligionists.(The Bible, Judges, v, 20)

The epic convention of the active intervention of God and holy souls from another world; and the convention of an epic tale, told in verse, a verse that is not a frill or an ornament, but is essential to the story, is found here in my rendition of this Baha’i epic. I think there is an amplitude in this poetry that simple information lacks; there is also an engine of action that is found in my inner life as much, if not more, than in my external story. In some ways, this is the most significant aspect of my work, at least from my point of view. Indeed, if I am to make my mark at this crucial point of history, it will be largely in the form of this epic literary work which tells of nearly 50 years of pioneering: 1962-2011 and a pre-pioneering decade that constituted most of the Ten Year Crusade: 1953-1963. The mark each of us makes finds its origins in our inner life and private character and the extent to which they mirror the teachings of this new Faith. This is the only mirror and mark worth making. In some ways we are only too well aware of the quality of our inner life and in other ways we are often blind to its reality.

Part 3:


More importantly, though, the part I play, the mark I leave, is as an individual thread in the fabric and texture of the Baha’i community in its role as a society-building power. This is true for all Baha’is as they attempt to find their place, to weave their thread, to define their role in the overall texture and substance that is this emerging world Order. The larger epic, the meta-epic, around which the epic of my life, indeed all our lives, is centred, finds its strength in the authenticity of the interpretation and exemplification of a religious canon. And each of us has his or her own epic, our own marathon journey, for many decades of living. For this life, this living, is indeed a marathon, at this climacteric of history, the last stage, the tenth stage as Shoghi Effendi called it in 1953-—and it is all within the context of the legitimate interpretation of the Baha’i canon and its authenticity. It is also part of the context, now, of a new culture of learning, a new paradigm shift in Baha’i community life.

The Bahá’í Administrative Order is something all Baha’is play a part in on a multitude of fronts “whether in serving it or receiving from it.” In their efforts to practice the teachings and be living examples all Baha’is are part of this new Order and this “moral aspect cannot be over-emphasized.” This Order should not be characterized by a membership which resembles a passive congregational community nor should it be one with only a lip-service to lofty principles. Decision-making is by a group, a consultative based system and is not the prerogative of learned or ambitious individuals; and this process requires for its success the skills and principles outlined by Abdu’l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. They are skills and principles not easy to acquire and apply. They often require a brilliant inventiveness, keen perception and discrimination and a high order of intelligence. They require encounter and absorption. In many ways the Baha’i method is the antithesis of how current political and religious communities are organized and run with their hierarchical, patriarchal and authoritarian practices. Encounter and absorption, engagement and intensity can be found in various degrees, manners and styles of commitment. The process requires all we have and, in this work, not only do we encounter our world, but we prepare our souls for the world of light beyond this nether sphere.

As the Universal House of Justice announced, as far back as 1975, the process of building the Arc on Mount Carmel “will synchronize with two no less significant developments-the establishment of the Lesser Peace and the evolution of Bahá'í national and local institutions.'' These institutions, these places of group-decision making and increasingly refined consultative skills are one of the critical places in which this culture of learning will manifest itself in the decades and centuries ahead—and this community building process has just begun, has just taken off in our time. These processes are often slow and obscure in their manifestations. The processes involved in the Lesser Peace also have their critical domains where equally slow and often equally obscure processes of development are taking place.

Part 4:

My own life, my own epic, within this larger Baha’i epic, had its embryonic phase in the first stage of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Divine Plan, 1937-1944, the first of three phases leading to the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 as the last year of my teen age life was about to begin and as, most importantly, the fulfilment of the prophecy of Daniel regarding “that blissful consummation” when Divine Light shall flood the world from the East to the West. Little did I know, of course, at the time. That is often the case that we simply have no idea just where we are in the great process that is history. We come to understand ourselves and our world retrospectively.

In 1963 “a unique victory” was won and that victory has been consolidated in the years since then. A process of consolidation has also gone on during what is now nearly half a century(1963 to 2013) and this consolidation has been especially apparent during these paradigmatic years of this new culture of learning. It is a consolidation of what the German sociologist Max Weber called an institutionalization of charisma, a term he used as part of his sociology of religion that he developed in the years before the Great War to end all wars. This unique victory is part of this new epic journey: for me, for the Baha’i community and for humankind.

It is hardly surprising that the Administrative Order is described as a theocracy. It is after all the internal order governing a religious community. If theocracy is defined as rule by the institutions of the religious order, any self-governing religious order is by definition theocratic. The Methodists and Quakers are internally theocratic in this sense, since they hope and have faith that the church, as part of the body of Christ, will be guided (through its elected system) by God. This is not the same as ‘theocracy’ in the political sense, which is the kind of government that was attempted in Iran after 1979, a government in which the persons and institutions of the religious order either control or replace the organs of the civil government. In this, which is the usual sense of ‘theocracy,’ the Bahai teachings are decidedly anti-theocratic, since they forbid and condemn this usurpation of the power that God has granted to the Kings and Rulers. Still, it is not the purpose of this book to deal with the complexities of the form of governance in the centuries ahead from a Bahai perspective. As Shoghi Effendi so eloquently put it on the last page of his The Promised Day Is Come: "Not ours, puny mortals that we are, to attempt to arrive at a precise and satisfactory understanding of the steps which must lead a bleeding humanity.....from its calvary to its ultimate resurrection.

Part 5:


A tempest seems to have been blowing across the world's several continents and its billions of inhabitants with an incredible force for decades, for over a century and since the emergence of this latest paradigmatic variant on one long Bahai paradigm, the tempest has been blowing with increasing force yet again, a force much more complex than the one that brought two world wars. It is a force that is now raging in every corner of the world even where people seemingly live in peace and comfort. I would hope that this literary construction and analysis of what I see as an epic community design that has been put in place over the last 15 years, will be of use to others as this tempest continues to blow.

Indeed this tempest is showing no signs of cessation. I would like to think that what I write here will help others translate their potentiality into actuality--a process that Alfred North Whitehead called concrescence. Whitehead also said that each of us is engaged in a process of shaping the welter and often chaotic experience of our thought and emotion into "a consistent pattern of feelings." But I have no idea whether what I write will be of help to others or not. In this exercise of mine I am quite aware that there are no guarantees for myself or for others. One writes in faith and hope. One provides the energy and one follows the guidance available in this Cause, as far as one is able within the limits of ones incapacity as Abdul-Baha once expressed the concept of one’s failings to act and to do. And consistency of feeling is a lifelong battle and consistency is achieved only in the context of inconsistency. My capacity, our capacity, to experience our world is what Whitehead calls "feeling" and it is these feelings--and thoughts--which I must shape into a pattern that increases my awareness and the effectiveness of my participation in this new paradigm which will be with me--and us--for the rest of our lives.

I want to express beauty in addition to wholeness, a different kind of beauty than the painter or musician, to achieve a symmetry by means of infinite literary chords and discords, showing all the traces of the mind’s passage through the world; and to achieve in the end some kind of whole made of shivering and many coloured fragments. The wholeness comes from putting events into words. This is for me a natural enough process but, however natural, this type of literary flight of the mind is not so easily achieved. It is a worthy and difficult objective to attain, not unlike a literary aim of one of the 20th century’s greatest writers Virginia Woolf who held the view that “in much of our conscious life we are separated from reality because we are surrounded by a protective covering of appearances, of cotton wool.” Her aim was not so much to tell a coherent story but to convey moments of being, an aim that developed right from the memoir that was her first piece of writing in 1908. Her greatest pleasure, she said, was to put the severed parts of her life together on paper, in words. To Virginia Woolf, and to me, we are these words, this work of literary art. These words are the result of our living and acting in community. And so is this true of all of us not just those like Virginia Woolf and I, both of whom have a bipolar disorder. Each in our own way, as we all go through this culture of learning: we try to put our life together in this complex world, this age of transition, these darkest hours before the dawn.

Part 6:

I trust, too, that my epic work is not only a sanctimonious, openly pious, exploration of literary, practical and life-narrative themes, but also and simultaneously a self-questioning of these themes and forms, actions and motivations. What I write should not be seen as fixed and final, but what has been a lifelong attempt to polish and not pontificate, a work in progress that tries to guard against blind and idle imitation as well as against narrowness, rigidity and intolerance--tendencies toward fundamentalist habits of mind--in my own spiritual path and in the paths of others. What I write reveals some of the decisive moments in my life, moments in my inner world, moments which were, and usually remain, private. Some of the decisive moments in my society and my religion are also surveyed but not in any detail since: (a) they can be found described elsewhere in books that now fill many a space in libraries and great quantities of cyberspace and (b) the focus of this book is not, in the main, my autobiography, although some of it is found here.


From time to time in this book I make a special reference, a special drawing, on the thoughts and writings of others. The first here is Hugh Kenner.


In 1997 Hugh Kenner(1923-2003), a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor. gave the annual Massey Lecture in Canada. Kenner pointed out that the greatest paradigm shift in Western Civilization in the last thousand years has been from a Eurocentric, Christocentric, tradition centred, civilization to a gradually evolving global civilization with no special political and moral centre in a universe of infinite space and time. It is this phenomenon, this shift, that the following poem tries to speak to, of, about. For in some ways the shift the Baha’i community is going through could be said to be yet another part of this greater shift, one of the many paradigm shifts in what has been the dynamic, complex and changing nature of the Baha’i community and its history.

I have my own Grand Tour now,(1)
my elsewhere community,(2)
my journey through what I know
to what I have yet to learn;
and when the war is over
I will go home.
There are no more Colosseums
or Roman Forums & education
takes me down different paths
past other Alps, another Paris,
some other Channel en route to
my salvation & the praise of my
Lord---& finding out who I am,
Some absorption to make me…
someone else, discover impulses
of deeper birth which come to me
in solitude. The harvest of a quiet
eye, random truths around me lie.
In these verses I impart what broods
and sleeps what in my own heart and
mind still keeps.

In the meadows of His nearness
I try to roam to get some clearness.
For the Grand Tour is my own creation
and can’t be found on any tourist guide,
only in my own world where I now abide.

(1) In the eighteenth century the Grand Tour was the trip from some place in western civilization through Europe to Rome. This is no longer the Grand Tour. We all make our own now.
(2) We all have what Hugh Kenner calls ‘elsewhere communities’, places we travel to and things we do and think to find out who we are. The traveller absorbs this ‘elsewhere community’ into himself to become what defines him throughout life. Part of this new paradigm in the Baha’i community is this elsewhere community, a community the Baha’i defines himself in by being immersed, as far as he is able, in the community of the Greatest Name.

Part 7:


I discuss in the following paragraphs some of the poet Ezra Pound(1885-1972) an American expatriate poet and critic, and a major figure in the early modernist movement. This controversial figure and author of the longest epic poem of the twentieth century was intent on developing an ideal polity for the mind of man. This polity flooded his consciousness and suggested the menacing fluidity, the indiscriminate massiveness, of the crowd, the mass of humankind. The polity that is imbeded in my own epic does not suggest the crowd, probably because the polity I have been working with over my lifetime, over some four epochs of the Baha’i Faith’s Formative Age, has been one that has grown so slowly at the local level where my efforts have taken place and where the groups I have worked in and with have been small.

At the same time, and over these four epochs(1944 to 2012) I have become more and more impressed with what is for me this “ideal polity." It is a global polity that is slowly spreading to every section of the world. As my experience of the Bahai polity and the Baha’i polity itself became more seasoned, more mature, more developed, it has come to "flood my consciousness" as the decades have seen my lifespan head into late adulthood. I could expatiate on this System and how it deals with the essential weaknesses of politics, weaknesses pointed out so long ago by Plato and Aristotle and which continue in their myriad forms to this day. That is not the purpose of this book, although I have expatiated on the subject matter of this polity: (i) occasionally as a crucial part of the content of this culture of learning, and (ii) a great deal in my poetry.

As the “series of soul-stirring events” that celebrated the completion of the Terraces on Mount Carmel were coming to their climax in the 1990s, that ideal polity of mind that I referred to above experienced a new, a fresh impetus, what might be called a type of spiritual springtime of auspicious beginnings. They were beginnings that went back as far as the early 1980s when the permanent seat of the Universal House of Justice on what Bahais call the Mountain of the Lord was completed and the occupation of the International Teaching Centre and the Centre for the Study of the Texts took place. A creative drive, a revolutionary vision, a systematic effort were all part of a culture of learning which was emerging in the 1980s and it implied the slow emergence of that paradigmatic shift that was foreshadowed by the House of Justice, as I say above, as early as 1988. This shift became a more visible reality as the 1990s turned the corner into the new millennium.

My style, my prose-poetic design, is like Pound’s in so far as I use juxtaposition, history and much in the western intellectual tradition as a way to locate and enhance meanings. Like Pound, I stress continuity in history, the cultural and the personal. At the heart of epic poetry for Pound was “the historical.” It was part of the reclaiming job that Modernist poets saw as their task, to regain ground from the novelists; my reclaiming job is to tell of the history of the epochs I have lived through from a personal perspective, from the perspective of the multitude of traces both I and my coreligionists have left behind. This reclaiming process, I must emphasize, is a personal one. In many ways the events of my time don’t need reclaiming for the major and minor events of these epochs both within and without the Baha’i community are massively documented in more detail than ever before in history. The reclaiming process is one of seeing the meaning in the evening of my life of what happened in my personal life, my society and my religion in the earlier decades of my lifespan.

Part 8:

Perhaps, though, in the same way that Pound’s work was, as the poet Alan Ginsberg once expressed and defined Pound’s work, “the first articulate record and graph of a man’s mind and emotions over a continuous fifty year period,” my epic may provide a similar record and graph. Unlike Pound, though, I see new and revolutionary change in both the historical process, in my own world and in the future with a distant vision of the oneness of humanity growing in the womb of this travailing age. I see humankind on a spiritual journey, the stages of which are marked by the advent of two Manifestations of God in the 19th century, at one of history’s many climacterics. The nature of the universe, it seems to me, points to something deeper and beyond itself. The universe has, as the philosopher and statesman J. C. Smuts once wrote, “a trend, a list. It was an immanent Telos. It is making for some greater whole.”(Holism and Evolution, 1927, p.185)

My “articulate record” is so different than Pound’s both in process and content. The contrast with Pound is worth stating for it throws light on what I am attempting to do. Pound’s world, like Woolf’s, was “all in scraps and fragments” and he attempted in his Cantos, that longest poem to which I referred to above, what some see as quintessentially an autobiography, to document the uncongeniality, the conflict, of the modern world. All that is and was solid, as Marx said, had melted into air by the decades that both Woolf and Pound were writing and all that was holy had been profaned. It was then, in these decades, that the new Baha’i paradigm of non-partisan politics, of its Bahai Administration, the nucleus and pattern of a new Order found its embryonic form.

That melting, that dissolving, process of the old order continued into my time. Individuals tied too closely to that old order were and are being rolled up as a new order is being spread out in a process of parturition and rupture that is often subliminal and with an imminence of a new bloom as history goes on in its “disastrous quest for meaning.” The centre had, indeed, not held or, as Frederick Glaysher states for “it had never really existed; it was only a fallacious structuring principle.” But a new centre of the holy had clearly emerged in my time even if it had just stuck its head above the ground and even if it was recognized by only one thousandth of the human population of this planet. It is this authentic structuring principle, this new centre and a sense of the holy associated with it that informs this autobiographical work and informs the work and activity of Baha’is at this new stage of this paradigmatic process.

The fifty year period, 1963 to 2013, in which my life and my Faith has been guided by the first full institutionalization of the charismatic Force that had come into the world a century before in the person of Bahá’u’lláh, has been one of the most enriching periods in the history of this Cause. This Cause had always been, for me, a culture of learning. I had for many a long year taken “deep satisfaction from the advances of society” and “had seen in them the very purpose of God.” These things, too, had been part of the culture of learning that had been in my life since the 1950s with the Guardian always providing the exegesis, the light of interpretation, that was a recipe for action, for understanding and meaning in my life—and then, after 1963, with the House of Justice providing a continuance of this divine and infallible exegesis.

Part 9:


To turn to another poet, Walt Whitman(1819-1892), an American poet, essayist and journalist, let me make some more comparisons and contrasts that hopefully will illumine my epic work and the epic work we are all involved with in this new global religion. Those who are familiar with Whitman’s poem Leaves of Grass may recall that his poetic work attempts to merge both the writer and his poetry with the reader. In the same way that Pound’s work provides a useful comparison and contrast point for me in describing and analysing my epic, so is this true of Walt Whitman’s poem. His poem expresses the theory and practice of democracy; mine expresses quite a different polity: the theory and practice of a new Order, a new System, what some call a democratic theocracy. I try to merge myself with the reader but, I am more inclined to the view that, like Pound, I do not achieve this desirable goal. In my case it is for different reasons than Pound, reasons which would require too extensive an explanation to go into here.

Whitman’s poem is, among other things, an embodiment of the idea that a single unique protagonist can represent a whole epoch. This protagonist can be looked at in two ways. There is his civic, public, side and his private, intimate side. While I feel it would be presumptuous of me to claim, or even attempt, to represent an entire epoch or age, this concept of a private/public dichotomy is a useful one, a handy underlying feature or idea at the base of this epic poem. Learning as a mode of operation requires, as the House of Justice emphasizes again and again, "that all assume a posture of humility, a condition in which one becomes forgetful of self, placing complete trust in God, reliant on His all-sustaining power and confident in His unfailing assistance, knowing that He, and He alone, can change the gnat into an eagle, the drop into a boundless sea."

I also like to think that, as I have indicated above, this experience, this poetry, this epic work, is in some ways part and parcel of the experience of many of my coreligionists around the world as their experience is part of mine, even though my work has an obvious focus on my own experience; and their lives and activities have an obvious focus on them. Paradoxically, it is the personal which is the common in so far as it recognizes the existence of the many in the one. In my own joy or despair and in and through this epic work entitled Pioneering Over Four Epochs I express a shared experience; I write of that which others have also experienced. Such is my aim, my hope, at least one of my many ultimate desires in composing both this book and my 5 volume autobiography, some of which is found in this book on the new Baha’i paradigm.

Part 10:

In my poetic opus, my epic, Pioneering Over Four Epochs, I like to think that, with Whitman, the reader can sense a merging of reader and writer. But I like to think, too, that readers can also sense in my epic a political philosophy, a sociology, a psychology, a global citizen--something we have all become. There is in my poetry a public and a private man reacting to the burgeoning planetization of humankind, the knowledge explosion and the tempest that has been history’s experience, at least as far back as the 1840s, if not as far back as the days of Shaykh Ahmad after he left his homeland in N.E. Arabia in the decade before those halcyon days of the French Revolution and its bloody aftermath in the Jacobin Terror.

There is much more than verse-making here in my autobiographical opus. My work is not the Leaves of Grass or the Cantos. My epic is not one long poem. I use these works of these now famous poets for comparative purposes, as I say, to throw light on my own writing. I have no hesitation in making what Donald Kuspit calls identitarian claims for my poetry and my prose. My writing in all its forms expresses my identity; Kuspit emphazes what he calls the idiosyncratic artist and it is the very idiosyncrasies of the artist that make him convincing and give him credibility in our postmodern era. Yes, Mr. Kuspit, but I might add, only to a few.

As idiosyncratic artist and author, poet and publisher, I create my own cosmology, my own identity, an identity which is a mosaic of true and false, real and unreal. I pursue a sense of artistic and human identity in a situation where both I and my literary guidelines are idiosyncratic. My epic is a radically personal one as, indeed, all individual epics are. Epics aim to establish both conscious and unconscious communication between individuals. The identities of those who write the epics often confuse their egotistic pride with self-respect and honour. Their emotions are often expressions of their attempts to locate the source of their irritations outside themselves in external reality and who, like this writer, are caught up with “the allurements and the trivialities of the world without, and of the pitfalls of the self within.” I have found the writing of this epic journey, in this epic literary form, a mystery.

As yet there has been no commentary on my total oeuvre by any observer or critic. I would be happy to wait until after my passing; indeed I would be happy to wait even unto eternity. I leave the response in the hand of God, so to speak, with those mysterious dispensations of that watchful Providence.

Part 11:


The magnitude of the ruin that the human race had brought upon itself and its catalogue of horrors, a ruin the Guardian had described in a passage I had read as far back as the late 1950s, has been at the centre of my life, my civilization and the religion I have been part and parcel of for decades. The culture of learning that was put into special focus in the mid-to-late 1990s made me conscious of this reality more than ever and I knew, again as the House pointed out, that humanity appeared “desperate to believe that through some fortuitous conjunction of circumstances it could bend the conditions of human life into conformity with its desires.” The vision that had been at the centre of my Faith, a revolutionary vision, helped me create a reality which again helped me create the world in which I lived. For, as that long-time secretary of the NSA of the USA Horace Holley once said, and as I repeat for the second time in this book for emphasis, “vision creates reality.” This vision has been an important part of the more reflexive, introspective nature of my experience in the two epochs during which this paradigm has been institutionalized. Vision, values, beliefs and attitudes are all indispensable means of acquiring any historical knowledge at all. But, of course, there are no guarantees.

This paradigm provides what might be called an ideal framework, a pure form, a social construction, an ideal-typical construct, an action-oriented overview which the Bahais aim to achieve in the practical, real world but often, if not always or for the most part, never achieve. The framework is put into practice, is realized, is achieved in practice, in the conceptual imaginations, in the visionary frameworks, in the many-sided models of community. This framework is an important and useful tool for analysis for the body of the believers. It comprises as a total paradigm what might be called a conceptual utopia within which meaningful action is placed in a context of practical material and community life.

The focus, for the believer, is on the interplay of meaning and the conditions of action and an important part of this interplay is the creative aspect of human action. Meaning for the individuals concerned is an outcome of the creative activities in the changing historical circumstances. Meaning emerges from the relations between the actors and it emerges in the context of a new normative order from a charismatic Source. In some ways this context is much the same as it has always been. As the French say: "the more things change the more they stay the same." As one critic put it: the new paradigm seems to me just a movement of the deckchairs with most of community activity remaining the same. I’m sure this is the case for many Baha’is. In other ways, the changes are significant and equivalent to a new paradigmatic community construct.

Part 12:

Functioning as a medium of self-identification, the Bahai epic-narrative can provide individuals with an expression, an example, a source for an increase in energy and an increase in courage. This increase generates intentionality, a willingness and a desire to act. For all of us the desire to act in ways that are part of this new paradigm is essential. This action is in turn an experience of mastery that comes from dealing with life and it can contribute to a sense of identity, of authentic selfhood and intimacy in a postmodern society where authenticity and intimacy are important survival tools. For many, though, it must be recognized that there is no desire for such intimacy. Such individuals often prefer withdrawal from commitment and community involvement. Not everyone is blessed with what one writer called a socio-hormone. Many want to withdraw from what they, and T.S. Eliot, see as “the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is modern history.” Indeed, the sound of this withdrawal, if it could be measured, is deafening and it has complex roots which this book cannot examine in any depth. The failure to achieve a sense of community intimacy is a major source of people's alienation and their rootlessness in society. And this alienation cannot always, not frequently, be overcome. For still others withdrawal leads to return. Withdrawal and return become a rhythm. This topic has been dealt with in Bahai literature and I leave it to readers to follow the literary journey down its labyrinthine paths.

Part 13:


My writing, my poetry, contains within it, in page after page, an expression of, an identity with what has been and is now the ruling passion of my life: the Baha’i Faith, its history and teachings. This Faith seems to have wrapped itself over the landscape of my life and filled my being over these nearly fifty years of a pioneering life. Indeed, I have come to see myself with an increasing consciousness, as a part of, one of the multitude of lights in what ‘Abdu’l-Baha called a “heavenly illumination” which would flow to all the peoples of the world from the North American Baha’i community and which would, as Shoghi Effendi expressed it “adorn the pages of history.” Of course, this vision must be perpetually remade and adjusted like a hat. It must be placed in a perspective that is not a pretentious covering for the self and not a self-consciousness that is some sense of self-glorification and aggrandizement. But it is a vision of self that attempts to place within the context of my daily life an action-oriented mentality that dramatizes my intentions. These actions become, or such is my aim, the visible concomitant of an invisible process within me.

My story is part of that larger story, the first stirrings of a spiritual revolution, which at the local level has often, has usually, indeed, just about always, seemed unobtrusive and uneventful as far as the wider world of public significance is concerned, at least where I have lived and pioneered, growing not unlike Christianity as it did against a background of the Augustan system “half hidden, along the foundations of society.” But my inner journey is also, in basic ways, an expression of this larger journey. As John Hatcher writes in closing his helpful article on this process:

“In this inner dimension, spirituality becomes a sort of dialogue between the human soul and the Divine Spirit as channelled through the Manifestation. It is within this subjective, but nevertheless real, dimension of inner spirituality that one finds all the passion, the exaltation of spirit, as well as the terrible but somehow precious moments of despair, of utter helplessness and defeat, of shame and repentance. It is here that one learns with the deeply certain knowledge only personal experience can bestow, that the ultimate category of existence, the absolute and transcendent God who guides and oversees our destiny, is an infinitely loving and merciful Being.”

The narrative imagination, then, that is at the base of the Bahai epic and my own epic poetry needs to be seen by readers in the context that Hatcher describes above. As far as possible I have tried to make my own narrative: honest, true, accurate, realistic, informed, intelligible, knowledgeable, part of a new collective story, a new shared reality, part of the axis of the oneness of humanity that is part of the central ethos of the Baha’i community. As I develop my story through the grid of narrative and poetry, of letters and essays, of notebooks and photographs, I tell my story the way I see it, through my own eyes and my own knowledge, as Baha’u’llah exhorted me to do in Hidden Words, but with the help of many others.

My aim is not to rise in a Bahai community hierarchy or to become part of a necessary and inevitable bureaucracy of Bahai institutions on the appointive and elective sides of this Faith or in the everyday life of a local, cluster, regional, national and international community. But I do want to be part of this new society until my dying days. It is a new society already in the making, a society in which there is already concerted action toward a single goal, a map for the journey and not just vague sentiments of good will, however genuine. It is a society with explicit agreement on principles which require coordinated action. But it is not easy and it is not simple. My task is as a part of this new religion, this new community, this organization that is not competing with other religions but is a social force with a very special, perhaps even unique contribution to make to the aims of global peace and unity of our planet.

Part 14:

My aim as a poet and publisher, a writer and editor, a journalist and independent scholar, a husband, a father and a grandfather as well as a retired teacher and lecturer, tutor and adult educator, taxi-driver and ice-cream salesman--is to be a source of social good and serve my society within the limits of my incapacity, as Abdu'l-Bahá once put it. The liberal spirit, the sense of freedom, in the Bahai community is not a liberalism which, in many ways, is but a vast argument about the extent, the limits, of bureaucracy. It is a liberalism, a structure of freedom which has as its context, its framework, a Bahai administration, a framework of a new Order of action for our age. It has more similarities with the liberalism of John Stuart Mill, but it would be utterly misleading to attempt to compare this Order with any of the diverse systems of thought conceived by the many minds of men throughout history, ancient or modern. And this question of freedom and authority is far too complex to deal with here in any proper and comprehensive fashion in the middle of this book.

In the process of living, I leave behind me traces, things in your present, dear reader, which stand for now absent things, things from the past, from a turning point in history, one of history’s great climacterics. The phenomenon of the trace is clearly akin to the inscription of lived time, my time and that of my generation, upon astronomical time from which calendar time comes. History is “knowledge by traces”, as F. Simiand puts it. And so, I bequeath traces: mine and those of many others I have known, those of a particular time in history. Sometimes I think that these traces amount to a voluminous anatomy of self about which there is a very questionable value; at other times I think these traces are so intimately linked with the emergence of a new religion, a new Order with the very future in its bones, that there is an inner thrill and excitement that is difficult to keep in the form of a moderate expression.

But however I see these traces, Hatcher’s words that I have quoted above ring true and they offer a perspective on what is part of my aim, my goal, my process and what is the content of this work. These traces must be seen within a “subjective but nevertheless real dimension of inner spirituality” where I find “all the passion, the exaltation of spirit, as well as the terrible but somehow precious moments of despair, of utter helplessness and defeat, of shame and repentance.” This is true for all of us as we cultivate this culture of learning. I raise my voice here as one person but what I write applies, it seems to me anyway, to millions of my fellow believers.

In the years since the sense of my total oeuvre as epic was first formulated, that is more than a decade ago in the period 1997 to 2000, I have been working on the 2nd to 6th editions of my prose narrative Pioneering Over Four Epochs. In these last ten years, September 2001 to September 2011, this narrative has come to assume its own epic proportions. It is now 2600 pages in length and occupies five volumes. It is one of the many extensions, one of the many facets, parts and parcels, of the larger epic of my total oeuvre that I have described above and which had its initial formulation form from September 1997 to September 2000 at the outset of this new Bahai culture.

After more than a dozen years then, from 1997 to 2011, nearly all the years of this new paradigm, I have extended my epic, my world of prose memoir, of narrative autobiography. I also completed in that same period a 300 page study of the poetry of Roger White which was placed on the Juxta Publications website in October 2003. It was entitled: The Emergence of a Baha’i Consciousness in World Literature: The Poetry of Roger White. The first edition of my website in 1997, also entitled Pioneering Over Four Epochs, became a second edition on May 21st 2001 two days before the official opening of The Terraces on Mt. Carmel on 23 May 2001. My website is now 14 years old and is in its fourth edition. My old website(2001 to 2011) contained some 3000 pages and 450,000 words and was, for me, an integral part of this epic. The 4th edition of my website is the central matrix for several million words spread over cyberspace.

Part 15:

There are so many passions, thoughts, indeed so much of one’s inner life that cannot find expression in normal everyday existence. Much of my poetry and prose, perhaps my entire epic-opus is a result of this reality, at least in part; my literary output is also a search for words to describe the experience, my experience, of our age, my age and the religion I have now been associated with since DNA was discovered and Kinsey’s Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female was published both in 1953. In 1953 another one of those Bahai paradigms I have already mentioned was beginning as were new paradigms in the secular and scientific worlds. My total oeuvre of words in several genres could be said to be part of my very psycho-biological-philosophical self. My poetry and prose allows me to release surplus, excess, energy and an abundance of thought and desire which I am unable to assimilate and give expression to in my everydayness and its quotidian realities. This entire work is an expression of thoughts, desires, passions, beliefs and attitudes which I am unable to find a place for amidst the ordinarily ordinary and the humanly human aspects of everyday life. This literary epic adorns the ordinary; it enriches my everyday experience, as if from a distance.

Part 16:


Suffering ceases to be suffering when it has found a meaning wrote Victor Frankl in his now famous book Man’s Search For Meaning. These words of Frankl were quoted by Elizabeth Rochester in her long, fascinating and intellectually stimulating letter to Canadian international pioneers over twenty-five years ago. I think Frankl is partly right; sadly, many never find a meaning to their suffering. Since all of us struggle with suffering, our own and the world’s, in one way or another all our lives, the meaning of the suffering eludes millions. It is important for the generations who are experiencing this new paradigm in its earliest stages to be highly cognizant of the multitude of spiritual verities that previous generations of Bahais, perhaps as many as six if one defines a generation as a twenty-five year period, have come to experience and understand and which stand available in primary and secondary literature as well as on cassette tapes, CDs and videos to help illuminate their paths.

In 1997-1998, in the first half of the Four Year Plan(1996-2000), I began to think of writing a personal epic poem and so fashioned some ten pages as a beginning; this particular poem with its ten page beginning is still a work in progress and has not got beyond those ten pages. But by September 2000 I began to envisage my total prose-poetic output in terms of an epic since, by then, I had written several million words of prose-poetry and prose across a number of literary genres. As the efflorescence on Mt Carmel and its tapestry of beauty began to unfold, I felt my writing pregnant with meaning, at least for me if not for others. The sheer size of my epic work in its several genres, it seemed, made the concept of my total oeuvre as epic a natural one. I imposed, then, by sensible and insensible degrees over a period of years, the epithet--epic--on this great swath of my writing as it sat in my computer directory.

The advent of instant travel and international communication has made the fundamental context of the Bahai Faith international; it is the axis of the oneness of humanity. As I have been writing in the last twenty years, I often felt as if I was there in Haifa at the Bahai World Centre. This was especially true thanks to cinema, video, DVD, cassette-tape, CD, photography, hi-fidelity sound systems, a print and electronic media which had been sensibly and insensibly transforming the world into a neighbourhood before my very eyes in the last half of the 20th century and in this new millennium. Indeed, much of history and life in contemporary society, its content and context, were being restored, recreated, illumined and revitalized before my intellectual eyes. The Tablet of Carmel itself is full of allusions, symbols and metaphors which enrich and enhance the meaning systems of the individuals in the Bahai community everywhere. I had been trying to memorize this Tablet for over twenty-five years and many of its sentences and passages had become a part of my inner life. But again, these comments are somewhat tangential to the thrust of this book.<br />


A. I often mention Arnold Toynbee in this book
No more room in this space.
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Aug 2009
George Town Tasmania Australia

Apologies for the far-too-long post. I trust my future posts will not exhaust my readers.-Ron
Jun 2011
Somewhere "in this immensity"
Apologies for the far-too-long post. I trust my future posts will not exhaust my readers.-Ron

I see that you are actively trying to promote your writing! :)This is good, however, if I may suggest, it might be a better idea if you came to the forum as an actual participant. Perhaps you could employ some of your ideas in discussions since this a more of a place of discussion than a place of posting book chapters and self-promotion. If you were to contribute to engaging discussions here, that seems a more viable way of cultivating interest in your work than simply driving by and dropping it in, hoping it will be well-received.

Oct 2014
Ezra Pound...oh dear. Yes, he met 'Abdu'l-Bahá. What did he understand? Judge for yourselves:

Said Abdul Baha: “I said ’let us speak of religion.’
“Camel driver said: I must milk my camel.
“So when he had milked his camel I said ’let us speak of religion.’
And the camel driver said: It is time to drink milk.
Will you have some?’ For politeness I tried to join him.
Have you ever tasted milk from a camel?
I was unable to drink camel’s milk. I have never been able.
So he drank all of the milk, and I said: let us speak of religion.
’I have drunk my milk. I must dance.’ said the driver.
We did not speak of religion.” Thus Abdul Baha
Third vice-gerent of the First Abdul or Whatever Baha,
the Sage, the Uniter, the founder of a religion,
in a garden at Uberton, Gubberton, or mebbe it was some
other damned suburb, but at any rate a suburban suburb
(Canto XLVI)

May 2013
forest falls california

Ezra Pound...oh dear. Yes, he met 'Abdu'l-Bahá. What did he understand? Judge for yourselves:

Said Abdul Baha: “I said ’let us speak of religion.’
“Camel driver said: I must milk my camel.
“So when he had milked his camel I said ’let us speak of religion.’
And the camel driver said: It is time to drink milk.
Will you have some?’ For politeness I tried to join him.
Have you ever tasted milk from a camel?
I was unable to drink camel’s milk. I have never been able.
So he drank all of the milk, and I said: let us speak of religion.
’I have drunk my milk. I must dance.’ said the driver.
We did not speak of religion.” Thus Abdul Baha
Third vice-gerent of the First Abdul or Whatever Baha,
the Sage, the Uniter, the founder of a religion,
in a garden at Uberton, Gubberton, or mebbe it was some
other damned suburb, but at any rate a suburban suburb
(Canto XLVI)

There is a Hindu(?) proverb:

"When a pick-pocket meets a saint, he sees only his pockets..."
Oct 2011
Like that one Dale.

Is that why most drawings etc of Saints show them wearing a flowing robe without pockets.

Good luck with your books Ron.