Can somebody help me make sense of this

Jul 2017
287
Olympia, WA, USA
#11
So will a good education improve the chances of a soul to recognise Bahá’u’lláh ? And do all souls have the capability to recognise Bahá’u’lláh regardless of education?
God gave everyone a brain and free will so all souls have the capacity to recognize Baha’u’llah.

“Suffer not yourselves to be wrapt in the dense veils of your selfish desires, inasmuch as I have perfected in every one of you My creation, so that the excellence of My handiwork may be fully revealed unto men. It follows, therefore, that every man hath been, and will continue to be, able of himself to appreciate the Beauty of God, the Glorified. Had he not been endowed with such a capacity, how could he be called to account for his failure?”

Knowledge can be a veil preventing recognition of Baha’u’llah because people who think they know everything are often haughty and vainglorious. That does not mean education is not highly commendable but it is not necessary to recognize Baha’u’llah, and some of the most pure souls were uneducated.

“Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: “Fear ye God; God will teach you;” 29 the other is but a confirmation of the truth: “Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.” The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit.”
 
Mar 2013
519
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#12
So will a good education improve the chances of a soul to recognise Bahá’u’lláh ? And do all souls have the capability to recognise Bahá’u’lláh regardless of education?
Yes, this is true, but specifically, a spiritual education is needed, not just material education. Abdu'l-Baha was clear about this, it is the responsibility of the parents to provide first a spiritual education, which means training in the love of God and virtues.

The passage you quote seems very extreme, which is why you may be surprised by it. He doesn't say the exact situation that would be worse for the child than dying early. In many cases parents may be a bit lax, and fail in some part of their responsibilities but the kid still grows up OK. If you want to think of an extreme case, think about Hitler. Maybe he was talking about the enemies of the Faith who raised their children to oppose and hate. At the same time, I think emphasizing this point encourages everyone to a higher standard, so we try to do better always.
 
Sep 2017
303
Earth
#13
Yes, this is true, but specifically, a spiritual education is needed, not just material education. Abdu'l-Baha was clear about this, it is the responsibility of the parents to provide first a spiritual education, which means training in the love of God and virtues.

The passage you quote seems very extreme, which is why you may be surprised by it. He doesn't say the exact situation that would be worse for the child than dying early. In many cases parents may be a bit lax, and fail in some part of their responsibilities but the kid still grows up OK. If you want to think of an extreme case, think about Hitler. Maybe he was talking about the enemies of the Faith who raised their children to oppose and hate. At the same time, I think emphasizing this point encourages everyone to a higher standard, so we try to do better always.
If education has such an effect which I am sure it does and Abdul Baha says it does then how is life a fair test ‘We created life and test to see which of you excels in deeds’ also Abdul Baha says if somebody has good character but remains veiled from good he merits the forgiveness of God in next world .. so a good education can give you good character Abdul Baha says this to ... how is that fair for those who do not receive this education and find it more tough to accept Bahá’u’lláh, and are More likely to be ‘sinners’. It does not seem fair.
 
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Sep 2017
303
Earth
#14
Dear Yousefy
Even if you look at that matter from the point of view of psychology and science, it makes sense. it is proven that the basic character of a baby is formed during the first 3 years of his life. From then on, specially at the age of maturity, it is very difficult to change what he has learnt during the first three years. that is why education is so important, and that is why a babe who is not well educated during the first years of his life has more chances to do wrong later on.
Of course we all have free will to try to be better people. but there are two matters. first of all, if you receive wring education as a child, then chances are you may not know what are the good things later on in your life to act according to them. OR even if you do, it will be very difficult to use free will to change the old bad habits.
I keep reading that good spiritual education for children will raise a good character. Abdul Baha says Education has a profound effect on children and produces good character then he also elsewhere states that those who are veiled by God but have good character merit the forgiveness of God. The Quran says ‘life is a test to see which of us excels in deeds’ ... if someone receives a good education and has good character, why does this merit the forgiveness of God vs a sinner who has received a poor education ?
 
Jul 2017
230
Kettering, Ohio USA
#15
If education has such an effect which I am sure it does and Abdul Baha says it does then how is life a fair test ‘We created life and test to see which of you excels in deeds’ also Abdul Baha says if somebody has good character but remains veiled from good he merits the forgiveness of God in next world .. so a good education can give you good character Abdul Baha says this to ... how is that fair for those who do not receive this education and find it more tough to accept Bahá’u’lláh, and are More likely to be ‘sinners’. It does not seem fair.
Justice is not the only principle operating in the world, there is also mercy. Some have a better start on life, this is due to the mercy of God. Also, I'm sure in the next life, God takes into account our circumstances in life.
 
Jun 2014
1,008
Wisconsin
#16
I have a few questions about this passage from Abdul Baha about the education of children ..

This is a sin unpardonable, for they have made that poor babe a wanderer in the Sahara of ignorance, unfortunate and tormented; to remain during a lifetime a captive of ignorance and pride, negligent and without discernment. Verily, if that babe depart from this world at the age of infancy, it is sweeter and better. In this sense, death is better than life; deprivation than salvation; non-existence lovelier than existence; the grave better than the palace; and the narrow, dingy tomb better than the spacious, regal home; for in the sight of mankind that child is abased and degraded and in the sight of God weak and defective. In gatherings it is ashamed and humiliated and in the arena of examination subdued and defeated by young and old. What a mistake is this! What an everlasting humiliation!

Therefore, the beloved of God and the maid-servants of the Merciful must train their children with life and heart and teach them in the school of virtue and perfection. They must not be lax in this matter; they must not be inefficient. Truly, if a babe did not live at all it were better than to let it grow ignorant, for that innocent babe, in later life, would become afflicted with innumerable defects, responsible to and questioned by God, reproached and rejected by the people. What a sin this would be and what an omission!

1. Why would an 'innocent babe' be responsible to God?

2. Why does free will have no role in the passages of education (this is one of many), Abdul Baha says that education can make you virtuous and a lack of education make you ignorant, what about the passages talking about free will? this passage seems to ignore free will, and is saying a lack of education will make you lead a life of sin.
So in pondering these questions (and others raised both by this thread and my own pondering) here are my thoughts:

The education and parenting of a child is important.

This is something we don't even need the Scriptures to see, countless studies exist of the importance of parenthood on a child's life, and comparatively children without both parents involved and attentive in their education suffer disadvantages, statistically, when compared with the children who had both parents involved in their raising.

But lack of good parenting is not a guarantee of the child growing into an un-virtuous (for lack of a better working term) person, as I know of plenty of people, among my own friends, acquaintances, philosophers I've studied, who have had a bad family life growing up but still grew up to be great people.

Nevertheless, despite the exceptions, on average people without good parenting, statistically, have it much harder in life.

Ergo because of the statistics that exist on the topic of parenting, and because of the exceptions to the statistical norm, I conclude that the condition of a person's moral character is in part something that is determined by the individual, and in part determined by parents. Proper parenting and involvement of both parents greatly helps the child, but individuality is still always the ultimate deciding factor. This initial conclusion drawn without touching on the above Writing.

I see in the writing two questions to ultimately seek to answer myself:

Why is a person culpable when parents play such a role in helping them??

And why is it said to be "better" for a child to die in infancy than it is for them to be raised by bad parents??

The first question I think can be answered thusly:

The un-virtuousness person who had insufficient parenting (I need a way to write that shorter...) is held responsible for their state because, as the many virtuous people who had insufficient parenting show by their very existence, a person individually can still overcome the obstacle of having bad parents. So a person, even with bad parents, should be held accountable for their lack of virtue.

But while at first that might seem unfair, I am reminded of the following Quranic verse: "God does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned." (Quran 2:286)

With the Quranic verse in mind, I would state that while the person with bad parents is responsible for their "evil", they are held to less account than they would have been had they done the same acts but had had proper parents, this conclusion based on the Quranic principle of "God does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity."

Also, we can clearly see from 'Abdu'l-Baha's quote initially cited, that the parents who failed are also responsible for the failings of the child, as the entire point of that Writing is to drive home hard the importance of the role of a parent. If the parents share culpability in the crimes of the child, it stands to reason that the child will be held to a lesser account than would be held the a single person committing the same crime. A share of responsibility split among three people is lesser on each individual than a full share of responsibility claimed by a single person.

This answer to the first question I posed, however, notably complicates the second question I posed further. Because if a person with bad parents can still grow up to be a good person despite that handicap, why would 'Abdu'l-Baha state that the child is better off dying??

Here my answer strays a bit into theoretical territory.

First, I think that some small amount of consideration should be taken that maybe this is simple hyperbole, to drive home the point of just how important parenting is, and to send a strong message to all parents or prospective parents reading the above to consider carefully their actions in that role. At the moment, I cannot think of any other instance of 'Abdu'l-Baha employing hyperbole, however, so I'm not putting much consideration into that idea. I merely think it deserves some consideration that it could be as simple as hyperbole.

The more likely answer, I think, comes with the truth that death is not the end.

Let's consider two scenarios:

In the first scenarios is the child lives, and is raised by two parents who fail in their parenting. One absent, the other abusive. That child has a massive hurtle in his life and even his development socially, economically, psychologically, and spiritually. He can overcome this, of course. Many have done much the same, but it's still something he has to live with.

In the second scenario the child dies and... then what??

We don't know is the answer, of course, and that's where this part of my thoughts become partially speculative. But we do know from the Writings that spiritual progress does not end in death!! So the child who dies in infancy will still progress onwards spiritually in the afterlife.

And the dead child would be progressing spiritually without the negative influence that bad parents would otherwise have on his spiritual development and growth.

Perhaps there even exists some sort of afterlife adoption system do deal with those who die at extremely young ages, but this is extremely speculative of course. :p

Ultimately, even setting aside all speculation, this is why I think 'Abdu'l-Baha says it is better for the child to be dead.

Because the living child must endure a large hurtle to their spiritual development, disgustingly inflicted upon them by their parents. They can overcome it, but it's still a challenge thrust upon them by their parents.

The dead child, comparatively, does not have this same burden, since he is free of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual wounds that his parents would have inflicted upon him should he have lived. Even without knowing what exactly lies in the Abha Kingdom, surely it is better for the child to be without these wounds?? It would be easy to think that the additional hurdles one faces as someone who died young (assuming their are any) are of much less concern than the hurdles one faces as an abused or neglected child (which by all accounts I've seen or heard are very massive hurtles indeed).

And thus I think 'Abdu'l-Baha can be understood. I think it ultimately comes down to be this:

Is it better for a child to have abusive parents or not??

Obviously not.

And a dead child does not have abusive parents.

I think that covers all questions that I get from my reading and pondering. Sorry if this comes late, I was without internet for about a week, and then spent the next few days trying to ponder this carefully before getting a response out. Let me know if I need to clarify or elaborate on any point.
 
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