College Student Curious About Baha'i Life

Mar 2014
2
Pembroke Pines, Fl
#1
Hello to all of you! New person here!

Thank you, first of all, for clicking on my thread! My name is Anai, and I am an anthropology undergraduate student at Florida International University. I am working on a group project for one of my courses this semester called “Myth, Rituals, and Mysticism”, which is my department’s fancy way of calling a course “Anthropology of Religion”. The project everyone in my class was given was to learn about a spiritual system of belief outside of those familiar to you, and to submit a paper at the end of the term with all that we learned. In my personal life, coincidentally, I committed myself to honestly and openly seeking the truth about spirituality and God (I come from a Protestant Christian background) at the end of last year. I already knew someone in my life who had recently become a Baha'i, and my conversations with them had already stoked my curiosity as to what it was all about. So I proposed examining the Baha’i faith as the subject of this class project, and my group mates- never having hear of, but very interested in the Baha’is- were all for it! And thus, my personal and academic journeys converged into one.

‘So that’s all well and good, but what am I doing here?’ you may ask. Well, part of the project involves interviewing members in the belief system of study. I found this forum looking for background information on Baha’i, and thought I’d ask some of the questions I’m trying to find the answers to here! Below are a number of questions I have for those of you who believe in and practice in the Faith. Please feel free to answer as many or as little of the questions as you’d like! Any size response will do, and please forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted or offended anything or anyone with my questions! By all means, please correct me!

**A note about confidentiality: Anthropology emphasizes respect for the people we study. Because of this we strive to be clear and upfront about the intent of our studies, gain consent from those who participate in our research, and keep their identities confidential when harm of any kind, even emotional distress, might result. I guarantee you that although what you share with me may be included in my project, YOUR PERSONAL IDENTITIES WILL NOT BE DISCLOSED! I WILL CHANGE THE NAMES/USERNAMES OF ALL WHO CHOOSE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS SURVEY! **

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How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?

What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?

What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?

What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?

How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?

Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?

How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith?

How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?

How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?

LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?

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Thank you so much in advance to all of those who even bothered to read this! Again, please feel free to answer as many of these questions as you feel up to. Even if you just respond to one of these questions it would help me immensely! I SO APPRECIATE YOUR HELP!
 
Jun 2009
473
earth
#2
Welcome to the forum, Anushka. I will do my best...

How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)
Initially I attended Bahá'í Childrens classes at the invitation of a child from a Bahá'í family

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?
It is what makes the life and the world we live in make some sort of sense. It is the standard I can measure all other things against.

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?
I was brought up to view some people (sometimes whole countries) as different, malevolent or backward. I learned that we are all made from the same dust and are equal in the eyes of God so have no right to judge others as unequal. I suppose that it the main thing. From a practical point of view the Faith has given me historical heroines who were living proof of the equality of the sexes. I was taught equality of the sexes in mainstream school but given historical heroes only. I strive to defy my tendency to bear grudges and It has given me an attitude that I hope I will strive to let the Faith change me until I breath my last breath.

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?
I strive to be mindful.

What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?
Progressive revelation, Unity of God and Unity of Mankind

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you? All religions are from the same source.

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?
This may depend on your background and relationship with the written word. My recommendations are:
"The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'llah", for the poetry and because it is concise and packs a real punch
My prayer book because I like to pray and the prayers are amazing
"Selections from the writings of Abdul-Baha" because I find it accessible and the love just shines out from his writing
"The seven valleys" by Bahá'u'llah because of the poetry, the mysticism, and the way it is easy to identify with parts of it.


What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?
One of my favourites is usually the one I am reading at the time but there are some I come back to again and again. I love the" Tablet of Ahmad" which I have found in most prayer books. I also always come back to the Hidden Word that starts "O Friend! In the garden of thine heart plant naught but the rose of love." That is never far from my mind. I love all the books I recommended above as well.


What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?
Mankind are spiritual beings but also part of nature. Our responsibility to care for nature is very much outlined in the writings. We can also use nature (which is pretty inevitable) but we must use it responsibly.


How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?
Technology is just a tool. I like this forum. I have "Ocean" on my computer (a searchable database of the writings), I have used technology to print copies of writings for meetings. I frequently use it to keep in touch with friends. It can be a distraction at times too! I am more informed about communities around the world as a result of the internet.

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?
Bahá'ís have set holy days. My LSA tends to organise meetings and events for holy days. I also celebrate a lot of the Christian holy days because I am married to a Christian and living in a predominantly Christian society. We don't really have rituals although I suppose most communities may develop habits as a result of the same people meeting together repeatedly. We always have readings from the Bahá'í writings on holy days and we have refreshments.

Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?
I think it is inevitable that we are influenced by the society and home we come from. I suppose our only ritual is to avoid rituals!

How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?
Usually at least every 19 days. I live quite close to other Bahá'ís. Sometimes it is more frequent, sometimes less.

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?Not often. I have done. I am the sort of person who does not like to but I do know that they are there and if I needed individual or LSA advice I would pick up the phone straight away or drop in to one of their homes.

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith? In a small way. I could do better.

How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?To some extent my beliefs do influence my political views. I am definitely less involved than I would be otherwise.

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?The way I see blasphemy is that I know it is wrong and I hope I have taught my children that it is wrong. However, whilst I may argue against someone who I thought was blaspheming, I do not see it as my duty to punish them or gain control of them in some way. God is All-Powerful and the All-Seeing. He will deal with that how He wishes. They are responsible for their own actions.

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?
We are not permitted to drink alcohol. Moderation is praiseworthy. Gluttony is not. We are not allowed to eat meat from an animal that has been found dead in a trap.

How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?
I believe that God created all of the above. How, exactly I am not sure. The unity of science and religion is an important aspect of the Faith and so scientists will probably uncover more detail on the mechanics of creation.

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?
Yes, the atmosphere to start with. Both can be very short and very simple but people are free to make a lot of additions to suit themselves. At a Bahá'í marriage, the couple must both repeat the sentence "We will all, verily, abide by the will of God" Most like some music, readings and prayers and may need certain other things because of the law of the country they are in. At a funeral there is one prayer that must be read. It is quite long and repetitive but very moving. Most people include readings, music and talks about the deceased.

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?
Yes, it does exist but we do not have the concept of original sin. Sin is going against the laws of the Faith. This is a question we all have to deal with on a personal level. We are urged to bring ourselves to account at the end of each day. We pray and reflect. There are prayers that we have specifically asking for forgiveness of sins. We try to make amends and we should learn from our mistakes and not repeat them. We are human. We are instructed to read the writings each day and night and there are daily obligatory prayers. All this should touch our hearts and educate us. We are also taught that deeds are more important than words. A great importance is attached to service to mankind and teaching the Faith and this will aid our spiritual growth.

LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?
Loves us, definitely Here is a quotation from the Hidden Words "O SON OF MAN!
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life."

(Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

 
May 2013
1,786
forest falls california
#3
On becoming a Baha'i

Anai,
. I commend you on an unbiased study of the Baha'i Faith and will share as accurately as I can my story and understanding.

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How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)
. Having been born (1953) on a Sioux Indian Reservation as a descendent of homesteaders where inequity, racism, and cultural domination was a way of life, something just did not seem right with the world as I recall viewing it through my childhood eyes.
. Add to this the Viet Nam war, the Civil Rights struggle, preoccupation with materialism, the apparent hypocrisy found within society (including within the church), the clash of science and religion, women's rights, environmental pollution, etc, etc, many of my generation were consciously searching for answers.
. Exploring parts of the rest of America and portions of Europe and North Africa, mostly by means of hitch-hiking (early 70s), becoming disillusioned with politics (McGovern campaign of '72), broad contact with people of diverse racial, economic, national, and religious backgrounds took me far from the cornfields I grew up in.
. Also disillusioned with western philosophy, I found myself drawn to study Buddhism, Hindu, and Native American spirituality, even spending most of a summer with the Moonies in Berkeley! I was most definitely "seeking" God, although I considered myself an atheist for a few years. If only I could find "It", whatever It was that was drawing me, then the world would make sense.
. So I hung out with Zen Buddhists and Hare Krsnas and Lakota (and other) Indians, and periodically bumped into a Baha'i or some of the Writings a few times over a ten year period, but did not seem to be ready. Only when I was broken backed (literally) and bankrupt did I find myself calling out to God for help, invoking the names of "Buddha, Krsna, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad... What!? What do I have to do?" for I was desperate by that time ('79).
. I was running a gas station in S. Dakota, being robbed by employees, wrecked a motorcycle, everything possible going wrong, right? ;-) when one evening, a couple of weeks before having to close the shop, I reflected upon what had gone right in the past year. I knew what had gone wrong, but what did I gain from it all?
. The people! I liked the contact with the people. I never ripped anyone off as a mechanic and enjoyed interacting with folks. So I thought, OK... the next person who walks in here, I'm not gonna let them go until I learn what makes them tick. So the next person who walked in was a Baha'i.
. By that time I was living on popcorn, sleeping on the floor of a cold trailor in the middle of winter, and this fellow invited me over for supper. Mmmm... real food and real company. I was just hoping they'd invite me back, and they did... ;-)
. About the fourth time I visited with them and was about to exit their house, I noticed a photo of Abdul Baha in the corner and was just riveted to the spot. Couldn't move, and I said, "Who is that?!?" For I had seen him in a vision 5 years earlier while fasting and praying.
. My host saw that something was going on with me and explained a little about Who He was, being the son of Baha'u'llah, etc. Then he shared a dream he had of Abdul Baha, which was significant. He then showed me a basic outline of the Baha'i Faith and the primary teachings and principals, all of which I had already come to believe at that point in my life.
. Then he said, "If you already believe these principals, then you are a Baha'i, and if you wish to become a part of the community, there is a simple registration process.", and he handed me whats called a declaration card to sign. Honestly, I wasn't sure, but thought to myself, 'The only way I'm gonna know is "from the inside.' " (what with my experience with the Moonies, Scientology, the Hare Krsnas and so on... ;-)
. And I thought, If I sign that card, it will make this guy happy, and he deserves to be happy, because he is one of the most genuine souls I ever met. So with that in my heart, I signed the card, and this huge wave of "happy" flowed through me like an ocean, what I had intended for him to feel, engulfed me, while his expression did not change a bit.
. Then he says, "You will soon be experiencing the confirmations of Baha'u'llah..." and I'm thinking, Now what in the hell does he mean by that?!?
. Over the course of the next few days things began to happen. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when it turned to color. Things happened that just don't happen by themselves. Things were falling into place like a 52 card pick-up jigsaw puzzle which was finally coming together. I got a job, met a fellow (out of the blue) who escaped the communists in Czechoslovakia by crossing a mine field after praying to God for the first time in his life (He also became a Baha'i shortly thereafter), met Sioux Indians who had had visions of the Bab and Baha'u'llah connected to the eruption of Mt St Helens from a medicine man's prophecy, etc, etc...

. Well, I'll leave the other questions to be answered by others. I'm sure you'll get plenty. Peace!
 
Sep 2010
4,521
Earth
#4
Anushka - Welcome ;)

I will give the questions a go! I had a look at the questions first and will tell you that Some answers will seem a bit blunt most likely :cool:


How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)

Was told about the Faith by people living across the road

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?

True Life - Without the Faith there is no life

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?

Dramatically! to where we only look for Good in all aspects of life, optimism is the outlook for the world.

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?

Faith is the Life! Thus every other aspect of life is undertaken in consideration of its positive implications to Faith, negative aspects are not pursued.


What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?

One God, All the Major Religions are from God, One Human Race, Equality of Men and Women, Elimination of Prejudice.

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?

Prayer - Remembrance, praise and thanks of/for God - Working together for world unity

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?

Kit ab-i-iquan - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Kitáb-i-Íqán & Hidden Words - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?

As stated above - The entire meaning of religion and why mankind gets it wrong is explained in these two books. Kit ab-i-iquan - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Kitáb-i-Íqán & Hidden Words - Bahá'í Reference Library - The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?

All Nature and creation is a reflection of Gods Word - we are to treat it and use it with full respect and in the knowledge that there is a balance of nature that mankind can not go beyond without suffering consequences.

How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?

The pursuit of Knowledge is a gift from God. All is good if it is used to help the unity of mankind and is developed with good intent.

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?

As we are in the middle of the Baha'i 19 day Fast I would suggest this is quite notable at this time ;) But in reality all the Holy Days are notable as they mark specific Notable events in the progress of the Faith - Baha'i Calendar - Baha'i Holy Days


Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?

Only Baha'is can donate funds to the cause.


How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?

At least weekly, but mostly very other day :cool:

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?

Daily if possible

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith?

The Faith is about fixing the ills of the whole Body. Thus by supporting the Faith we are supporting the total perfect cure. The Faith at the same time does treat some of the individual symptoms, but the goal is the cure the cure are the Laws of Baha'u'llah.


How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?

Baha'is do not follow Party Politics, we vote and decide based on the merit of the person.

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?

Baha'u'llah has a covenant with the Baha'is, breaking that Covenant when a Baha'i is for bidden and will end in expulsion from the Faith.

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?

Not at this early stage, but there will be - We are told Fruit nuts and grains are best - Meat will not be eaten in the future. Foods will be used to cure illnesses


How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

Created by God - By the joining of the Letters B & E - This provisional translation is interesting - Tablet of the Universe - Tablet of the Universe - This is a provisional Translation and as such may change in the future.

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?

Yes but both very simple - At a Baha'i Funeral there is a Prayer for the dead to be said, it is the only Obligatory Prayer to be said in congregation - Prayer for the Dead

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?

Sin is to forget God and be concerned with ones own self - We manage it, ward against it and cleanse our self of it through prayer and remembrance of God and through practice of His Laws

LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?

God is Love - This Love knows no limit - Everything in our life helps us find that Love - It is not an easy journey to undertake. Love and Pain are true friends ;) :yes:

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God Bless - Best of Luck - Regards Tony
 
Oct 2013
697
Glenwood, Queensland, Australia
#5
Good morning Anai

Welcome ! and again Welcome !!

Normally, I like to copiously quote. Doing that here would make the matter overly extensive, so, for me, there are very few quotes. Thus, rather than taking my words as gospel truth, my suggestion is to do alittle research in the Texts to see what they say. If your Internet connection is acceptable (mine is not, it is paltry), then Interfaith Explorer (Interfaith Explorer: Software for iPhone, iPad, Android, Web and Windows PC) is a most useful tool to make queries and do in-depth research.

I did all this as a simple text file offline, so we will see how it goes pasting into here.

To da nitty gritty.

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How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)

Long story or short story? Um, looking at space available, perhaps the short story. Back in 1971. Late at night. I wanted a free cup of coffee, and I knew that there was a van in Kings Cross (sydney, Australia) on that particular night who had a sign "Free Coffee". Asked for my free cup of coffee, and not only was I given a coffee, was given the best birthday gift (was also my birthday that day) one could ever get. While drinking, one of them explained about the prophecies concerning the return of Christ. I remain convinced to this day. For personal reading on this matter, I suggest to you the book "Thief in the Night".

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What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?

Well, a short question, but you are asking for a looooooong answer. Will keep it brief as I can. But there are a number of points. These are just those that spring immediately into the fore of my mind.

1. The "return" of all the previous Manifestations (you may prefer the term Prophet, that is fine) of God. Not in a physical sense as being the same physical body, but in the sense of the return of the self-same spiritual attributes, qualities, purpose and teachings. Think of it like a your teachers in school - each year, a different teacher in a physical sense, but in a "spiritual" sense, the same teacher if one looks at the purpose, intent and qualities amd so on.
2. The pivot-point of the evolution of the human race. The process to date has been that of reaching the stage of maturity - again, think of the proces of growing up, and the process of being educated. With the coming of Baha'u'llah, He declared that humanity had reached the age of maturity. The focus of human evolution changes from an individualistic to a societal evolution, from a material to a spiritual evolution.
3. The opening up and the start of the expansion of knowledge never before concieved as possible. Look with honesty at the degrees of advancement prior to the mid-1800's, and the degrees of advancement since.
4. The inception of a new age in human history that will see the entire human race become one united body, bound together by the Teachings of the Prophets. For the essence of every Faith is the same, only the outer forms change.
5. The development of the understanding that the betterment of the individual, both materially and spiritually, lies in the betterment of society.
6. The abolition of inequality, whether that be religious, national, gender, individual and so on.

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How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?

The Teachings of Baha'u'llah place much emphasis on learning humility and the other spiritual attributes, and of being of service to others. This impacts on the selfish nature of a being. Likewise, seeing this world as merely a stage in our evolution, with the purpose of life being to develop the needed qualities of the next world, in a similar manner as a child in the womb needs to develop the necessary physical attributes before it dies to that world and is born into this one. And those qualities of the next world are those things we call "spiritual" attributes. And our death in this world is our birth in the next. You could try to tell a child in the womb all you like about this world, but it will have almost nil understanding of it till it is born here. It is the same with our transition through the process we call death into the next realm of being.

This helps in dealing with others. In accepting both the good things and the bad things that people do. It provides a long-term view, which aids in overcoming angst and helps in encouraging positivity in others.

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How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?

Except for when I fall flat on my face (which I do often), it gives me greater patience with others, a better understanding of others, a better understanding of my self, an ongoing desire to be of service to others, a deeper sense of peace and calmness. Now, this proces should not be restricted to "just" the Baha'i Faith - followers of all Faiths should find similar; remember, the essence of each is the same, only the forms change - if I have a square cup and a round cup, each indentical in capacity, and one filled with water, then pour that water into the other vessel, only the form has changed, not the water. And so, learning to see in each person the spiritual being, not merely the material one.

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What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?

Now, I do not like the word 'theology' in terms of the Baha'i Faith, but that is only because it is more a Christian concept, and even the dictionary in brackets says (esp. Christian). However, in terms of the rest of that dictionary meaning - study or system of religion (Oxford dictionary) - I make answer. Important you grasp the angle am approaching your question from.

Ask your Baha'i friend about the Ruhi Programme. See if there is a course running near you in which you can participate. That will better answer this question that any other means. In my own paltry manner, I will state the following, not in any order except as they come to mind. Baha'is here will recognise in them some of the basic principles of the Baha'i Faith:

1. There is only one God. Thus, there is only one Faith of God. People have taken to worshiping the forms, and have thus lost view of the fact that the inner essence is the same.
2. The purpose of our lives is spiritual. To put it in one way, we are not a body with a mind, we are a mind with a body.
3. The abolition of all prejudices. Prejudice is a virulent poison to the harmony and unity of the human race.
4. The independent investigation of truth. It is the individual's responsibility to determine the truth for themself, and to do otherwise is an abdication of personal sovereignty and independence.
5. The equality of the genders. As a bird requires two wings to fly, so too does the human race need both genders functioning with equal strength and capacity to advance.
6. Equal education for all. Now, two things. First, by education is meant both material and spiritual. Second, if the circumstance arises that a choice must be made between two children as to who gets the better education, and one of them is female, it must be given to the female. The female is the first educator of the child, and thus this becomes the best means to spread knowledge, material and spiritual, through society. Again, a choice based on socialogical reasons, not on individualistic reasons.
7. The development and adoption of a world auxiliary language and script, whether newly invented or already existing, that all learn to write and speak. Human evolution and development will mean that over time, that will become the primary language of all people. By the means of one common language and script, the human race will be brought closer to unity, and lack of understanding through barriers of language or writing will vanish.
8. The adoption by all peoples and countries of a single financial system. Again, this will have the benfit of bringing the world closer to unity, as well as eliminating the inequalities that occur between disparate currencies.
9. The abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty. That some may be rich should not likewise mean that there are those who have not even the barest of necessities, who live in need and want.
Just a few that spring immediately to mind :)

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What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?

Being of a mystical bent, the Writings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah. It is said that a Baha'i walks the mystical path with practical feet. That can be a challenge. And so, what one finds in his or her mystical considerations of the Teachings, finding useful and practical application in living one's life, and in understanding the processes at work in the world today, and how one best relates to and approaches them.

And:

The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 215)

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I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?

Loooove open-ended questions (chuckling). Of course, that ould depend on your own inclinations and needs. You are studying at University.. That means that your mind is beung trained to be analytical and observant, among many things. Thus, I would recommend immediately 'Abdu'l-Baha's "Tablet to Doctor Forel", knowing that it is quite deep in what it conveys. If you are interested in the fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy, "Thief in the Night". For a general but extensive overview, "Baha'u'llah and the New Era". For beauty and for meditation, "The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah". One of my favourites is "The Kitab'i'Iqan (The Book of Certitude)" by Baha'u'llah. Perhaps "Some Anwered Questions" by 'Abdu'l-Baha. Or, for a selection covering a wide range of subjects from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, "Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah". I could continue adding more, but this will do for the nonce.

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What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?

No competition here. My avourite from the Writings is the first sentence of the Kitab-i-Ahd (The Book of the Covenant)

"ALTHOUGH the Realm of Glory hath none of the vanities of the world, yet within the treasury of trust and resignation We have bequeathed to Our heirs an excellent and priceless heritage."

In this one sentence I personally find the entire Revelatin of Baha'u'llah encapsulated, but it requires the entire Revelation to understand it. How far have I got? Maybe a scratch, barely noticeable, in the outermost surface. A truly amazing statement by Baha'u'llah.

Favourite Prayer? The shortest, quickest and simplest. By the Bab:

"O God, my God, my Beloved, my heart's Desire"

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What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?

Both. From nature, we can observe many analogies that help us to understand the Truth. At the same time, we are superior to nature, and must overcome that part of our "nature". Mind with a body concept.

There is a differenc between using a thing, or abusing it. Using it implies likewise caring for it. Otherwise, it is abuse. Through rapacity we can destroy the very means for our existence on this planet, or through cultivation instead, we can both harvest from this earth, and contribute to its preservation and well-being.

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How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?

Like breathing, eating and sleeping. Baha'u'llah states; "All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 214). This includes not only our spiritual evolution, but also our material evolution. We stand at this time at the mere threshold of our understanding of both the outer world and the inner world. Material technology is a wonderful tool, to be used for the benefit and betterment and progress of the human race. Through technology, we have been relieved of much that would impinge on our learning about the spiritual nature of ourselves. Through technology, you are able to pursue with relative ease your studies, including the capacity for near-instant communication over vast distances (for example, this current exercise). Through technology, the healing arts is able to deal with illnesses and diseases that were once extremely difficult to deal with. Through technology, information and knowledge is able to be disseminated to a far larger audience than known before. Through technology, our understanding of the processes of the material world is increased, which leads to those inventions that give us the capacity for our growth as human beings.

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What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?

One. No rituals. Period.

Holiday is really an extension of the term 'Holy Day'. We have our own Holy Days, which are celebrated in just that manner. A Holy Day, usually also involving some community event in celebration of that Day.

Feast of Naw-Ruz : New Year (March 21. The Day of Baha in the month of Baha. Its significance is thus more than simply the turning of a calendar, for Baha is the Greatest Name of God.
Feast of Ridvan : 3 days. This celebrates the Declaration of Baha'u'llah in the Garden of Ridvan outide Baghdad. The 1st Day (April 21), the 9th Day (April 29) and the 12th Day (May 2) are celebrated as Holy Days in this 12 day period.
Declaration of the Bab : May 23.
Ascension of Baha'u'llah : May 29
Martyrdom of the Bab : July 9
Birth of the Bab : October 20
Birth of Baha'u'llah : November 12

On all these days, work is to be suspended. On the Day of the Covenant (November 26) and the Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha (November 28), work is not suspended.

We likewise celebrate the beginning of every month with what is termed a Feast. This consists of three portions - a Devotional portion, an Administrative portion, and a social portion.

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Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?

In the same way as we have our own Sacred Texts, so too do we celebrate our own Holy Days. This is no different to the way of all previous Revelations from God. Likewise, we have our own Calendar, and the Baha'i day begins and ends at sunset. We have our own Administrative order, and our own Holy Places for Pilgrimage. We have our own Houses of Worship - not many yet; the eighth is currently under construction in Chile, and there are another couple on the drawing board.

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How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?

My life-circumstances are such that physically, usually only at Feasts and at Holy Day celebrations, plus the odd other meeting. Thanks to technology, I can connect with Baha'is from around the world, through this forum, through email and so on, usually every few days, depending on mental state.

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How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?

I know this is very much encouraged in the Baha'i Writins, but no, not yet. Part of that is cultural and upbringing, part of that is that most of my consultations need to be with medical persons.

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How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?

No involvement in politics. The reason is simple. Politics as it is practiced in the world today is a divisie force, and the Baha'is are about uniting. Yes, what happens in politics affects our lives, but becoming involved in politics is not the way to make things better. And suppose I support one side, and another Baha'i supports an opposing side, how united does that make the two of us? So thus, I avoid politics.

This does not mean that I do not get involved in my community, whether local or otherwise. But my involvement is neutral politically, focussed on the socialogical aspects.

But then, I am more of a doing person now anyway (grinning here). Have been in leadership roles in my working life, and now I just say to people; 'give me a shovel and crowbar, point and say "I want a hole dug this wide and this deep" and then leave me alone and to it'.

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Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?

Yes. Two aspects, with different degrees of action.

The first is where a person's behaviour puts the Faith in a bad public position, such as becoming involved in politics, severe misbehaviour and so on. The process is not instant, it is just that, a process that occurs over time. It begins with the Baha'i Institutions counselling, advising and helping and supporting a person to behave as a Baha'i (e.g. withdrawing from political involvement). Only after a period of time, of onging attempts to help that person not to present the Faith publically in a bad light where the person insists on contnuing the action detrimental to the Faith will a sanction be imposed, which is the removal of Administrative rights. It does not happen often. And while it does not sound like much, it is quite a severe sanction on a person. At this time, only the National levelof the Administrative Order deals with this, though the local level has some involvement in reporting, counselling and so forth. More detail can be gone into if needed at a later time.

The second is far more serious. It is termed Covenant-Breaking. As the term states, it is where a person breaks the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. This is a spiritual disease, and involves the rejection of either one or more of the Central Figures, and/or of the Administrative Order, and incudes actively involved in promotng that point of view. Again, it is a process, it takes time and involves counselling and similar, but where the peron insists on breaking the Covent, they are finally expelled from the Faith. Such an expulsion has spiritual comsequences. And it is a decision that is only made at the World Centre, not at a national or local level.

Whereas Baha'is can still associate with a person who has lost their Administrative rights, Baha'is are forbidden to associate with Covenant-Breakers. The reason is simple - it is a contagious spiritual disease, and through association one can catch the disease.

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Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?

Um, yes, but I don't think it is special,or special to the Baha's. We eat it.

There are no dietry restrictions, except fr the consumption of substances which derange the mind and/or steal away the intelligence etc. For this reason, we do not touch alchohol or the "recreatonal" drugs, except where prescribed as part of a treatment by a properly qualified medical practitioner for the treatment of some illness or disease.

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How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

Good question. The simple answer is through the creative energies of God. The longer answer is creation through evolution. So thus, both the creationists and the evolutionists are right (chuckling again)

All things in the realm of existence abide by rules. So, the earth came into existence through what science regards as natural processes, according to certain rules. Science has a number of theories about the creation of the universe, the most popular being the Big Bang. They can tell us how a planet is formed. But science cannot tell us (yet) how life itself came to be, though they can describe the process by which the various forms of life evolved. Again, this is a matter on which the Baha'i Texts have quite some information, but there is insufficient space here to go into very much.

In the same way as I spoke earlier about men and women being the two wings of a bird, so too are Science and Religion the two wings of the human race - its progress, evolution and betterment rely on both.

As regards creation, I leave you with this from Baha'u'llah;

As regards thine assertions about the beginning of creation, this is a matter on which conceptions vary by reason of the divergences in men's thoughts and opinions. Wert thou to assert that it hath ever existed and shall continue to exist, it would be true; or wert thou to affirm the same concept as is mentioned in the sacred Scriptures, no doubt would there be about it, for it hath been revealed by God, the Lord of the worlds. Indeed He was a hidden treasure. This is a station that can never be described nor even alluded to. And in the station of 'I did wish to make Myself known', God was, and His creation had ever existed beneath His shelter from the beginning that hath no beginning, apart from its being preceded by a Firstness which cannot be regarded as firstness and originated by a Cause inscrutable even unto all men of learning.

That which hath been in existence had existed before, but not in the form thou seest today. The world of existence came into being through the heat generated from the interaction between the active force and that which is its recipient. These two are the same, yet they are different. Thus doth the Great Announcement inform thee about this glorious structure. Such as communicate the generating influence and such as receive its impact are indeed created through the irresistible Word of God which is the Cause of the entire creation, while all else besides His Word are but the creatures and the effects thereof. Verily thy Lord is the Expounder, the All-Wise. (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 139)

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Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?

Yes. And both are simple. The former consists of the saying of the marrige verses before two witnesses approved by the Local Spiritual Assembly - "We will all, verily, abide by the will of God." Anytghing else is an addition by the couple. The latter consists of the saying of the Prayer for the Dead prior to interment by one person, while everyone else stands. This prayer is both the only Prayer which is a congrgational Prayer in the Baha'i Faith, and also the only one where the gender is permitted to be altered according the the gender of the deceased.

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Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?

Yes, sin exists. 'Abdu'l-Baha gave the best definition and description, so I will quote him:

What is evil?'

'Abdu'l-Bahá. -- 'Evil is imperfection. Sin is the state of man in the world of the baser nature, for in nature exist defects such as injustice, tyranny, hatred, hostility, strife: these are characteristics of the lower plane of nature. These are the sins of the world, the fruits of the tree from which Adam did eat. Through education we must free ourselves from these imperfections. 178 The Prophets of God have been sent, the Holy Books have been written, so that man may be made free. Just as he is born into this world of imperfection from the womb of his earthly mother, so is he born into the world of spirit through divine education. When a man is born into the world of phenomena he finds the universe; when he is born from this world to the world of the spirit, he finds the Kingdom.' (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 177)

This physical world of man is subject to the power of the lusts, and sin is the consequence of this power of the lusts, for it is not subject to the laws of justice and holiness. The body of man is a captive of nature; it will act in accordance with whatever nature orders. It is, therefore, certain that sins such as anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny exist in the physical world. All these brutal qualities exist in the nature of man. A man who has not had a spiritual education is a brute. Like the savages of Africa, whose actions, habits and morals are purely sensual, they act according to the demands of nature to such a degree that they rend and eat one another. Thus it is evident that the physical world of man is a world of sin. In this physical world man is not distinguished from the animal.

All sin comes from the demands of nature, and these demands, which arise from the physical qualities, are not sins with respect to the animals, while for man they are sin. The animal is the source of imperfections, such as anger, sensuality, jealousy, avarice, cruelty, pride: all these defects are found in animals but do not constitute sins. But in man they are sins. (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

If you peruse again much of what is written above, you will see that one of the themes, briefly touched on, is that our purpose in life is essentially spiritual. So, to overcome "sin", we develop spiritual attributes and qualities to replace the animal tendancies of our earth-born animal body. Strangely, like any wild animal, the body likes it once it is tamed by the spirit, and can become quite a loyal servant.

Actualy, I strongly recommend "Paris Talks" by 'Abdu'l-Baha, as it covers this subject well.

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LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?

Let's toss a bit of Christianity in here. Remember, the essence remains the same, only the form changes.

John 3:16. There, you know the quote already (hehehehe)

"For God so loved the world..."

This question has some interesting ramifications. Let me give an example:

For every one of you his paramount duty is to choose for himself that on which no other may infringe and none usurp from him. Such a thing -- and to this the Almighty is My witness -- is the love of God, could ye but perceive it. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 261)

In this one sentence, we see that God loves us, and at the same time we find the exhortation for us to love God. It depends on your mind-set as you read it as to which you see, but both are correct. In this respect, Baha'u'llah, in the Kitab-i-Iqan, says:

Even as He hath revealed: "We will surely show them Our signs in the world and within themselves."[1] Again He saith: "And also in your own selves: will ye not then behold the signs of God?"[2] And yet again He revealeth: "And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves."[3] In this connection, He Who is the eternal King -- may the souls of all that dwell within the mystic Tabernacle be a sacrifice unto Him -- hath spoken: "He hath known God who hath known himself." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 101)
[1 Qur'án 41:53.]
[2 Qur'án 51:21.]
[3 Qur'án 59:19.]

And from the Hidden Words:

3. O SON OF MAN!
Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.

4. O SON OF MAN!
I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

5. O SON OF BEING!
Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.
(Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

Recall a quote earlier in this essay:

The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 215)

I have perhaps confuddled you sufficiently, so enough. With hope that have not overburdened you

With warm greetings

Romane
 
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Mar 2010
1,349
Rockville, MD, USA
#6
Anuska, one additional note for you:

Others have already recommended several books and included some of the ones I generally point out. But one hasn't been noted yet to my knowledge:

I heartily also recommend 'Abdu'l-Baha's Some Answered Questions.
It discusses many important Baha'i topics and--unlike the works of Baha'u'llah--is in modern English.

Best regards, and I wish you good hunting! :)

Bruce
 
Nov 2013
27
Toronto
#7
This is a fantastic project - bravo!

Here are the answers.

How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)
“Random” Baha’i friend I met in China.

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?The meaning, the nutrition and the goals of my life.

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?Completely, starting from recognizing death is not the end of life.

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?From prayer and fasting to who I hang out with, how I prioritize my time every day, week, month, year, etc. It helps me to ground my life with faith in the center and my profession, travel, hobbies, etc. around.

What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?Oneness of humanity. True nature of human being.

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?
Covenant. Human’s Covenant with God and the lesser Covenant with Bahaullah which includes steadfast in Baha’i administration.

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?
Anna’s presentation. Some Answered Questions.

What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?Tablet of Ahmad, Obligatory Prayers. China Tablet. Remover of the Difficulties

What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it? Of course. Nature is created by God. And to protec nature is not to be seen separate from other good deeds. Please refer to "Eradicating Poverty: Progress as One" by Baha'i International Community, United Nation Office

How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?To be moderate in technology, striking the balance to use it for good and not to prevent me from using my time, health and connections with friends for unity.

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Please refer to Baha’i Calender on Wikipedia.

Which ones do most often get involved in personally?
All Baha’i holy days.

Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?
There are very distinctive Baha’i practices but I don’t see them as rituals. It is like one don’t take having meals every day as rituals. I don’t think there is unnecessary rituals in the Faith just for the purpose of doing it, or some individuals or groups like doing it.

How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?At least three times per week.

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?weekly to monthly

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith?Yes. Heavily focus on Baha’i fund because I believe it is the most effective way to make the world better while very small number of people can contribute to it.

How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?It helps me to focus on unity for all when looking at political views. It helps me to understand politics in the world in a much more insightful way while stay away from practicing partisan politics.

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?There is a concept of Covenant-breaker. I think it more like a spiritual disease rather than condemnatory. It doesn’t mean we cannot love them, show compassionate or pray for them. But it is necessary to avoid and ignore them. There is an official process to make one Covenant breaker.

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?No alcohol. And it is more praiseworthy if one is satisfied with simple food especially veges, but not as law.

How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

Refer to "The Most Great Peace"

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?I think so – distinctly spiritual and simple.

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?No sin. Darkness is lack of light. Bad is lack of good. Please see Some Answered Questions.
LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?
Love. All bountiful. All merciful. Forgiving.
 
Jan 2014
8
Arizona, USA
#8
Good luck on your project! Hopefully, my answer isn't too late for inclusion! :)

How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)

My first exposure to the faith was through a college project (in an intercultural communications class) back in March, 2013. The project was to immerse oneself in another culture's experience, and then write a report and give a presentation on it. I was going to visit some other place, but feeling uninspired by other options, my parents suggested the Scottsdale Bahá'í Faith Community Center. I went there, talked to some people, wrote my paper, got an A, and though I was done with it. Months later, due to a bunch of other unrelated religious experiences that made me question my own faith as a Protestant Christian, I recalled the Bahá'í Faith. So much of me wished that it could be true, but I had a hard time believing that it was. So I began my research. I began plowing through religious scriptures, from the prophetic books of the Bible to the Qur'án. I had come to realize that, most importantly, that Jesus really seemed to indicate that He would not be the last messenger sent to mankind, even giving guidelines for what to expect of the next coming. It also really struck me how much unity could be found from one religion's scriptures to the next; something I did not expect. Eventually, I decided that I couldn't in honesty deny what I had discovered any longer, and I began identifying as a Bahá'í from then on.

So, in short, self-discovery.

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?

It means living life in such a way that I reflect God's perfect attributes to my fellow human beings.

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?

It allows me to accept numerous other worldviews, without compromising my own. I had always respected (or "tolerated") other races, religions, and cultures. But now, I admire and celebrate them!

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?

I now spend a few minutes each day praying and reading scriptures. Something I did quite inconsistently as a Christian.

What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?

There is one God. Many of the world's largest religions were divinely revealed to us through "Manifestations of God", who were sent by God to guide humanity.

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?

"Consort with all religions with amity and concord".

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?

"Hidden Words". Bahá'u'lláh takes the basic essence of certain spiritual truths and writes them in brief form.

What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?

I honestly have not read very many Bahá'í writings yet, as I am still plowing through other religious texts. :p

What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?

We have a great responsibility to preserve nature. As it was written in the Bible, mankind should be stewards of God's earth. The Qur'án also backs this up, in several passages such as Surah 33:72; "Indeed, we offered the Trust to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they declined to bear it and feared it; but man [undertook to] bear it. Indeed, he was unjust and ignorant.".

How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?

Scripture apps? :p Seriously, I can access just about any religion's scripture so easily today!

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?

We have our own holidays. Nine of them are significant enough to be considered "Holy Days", where we suspend work in observance. We also may celebrate World Religions Day in January. Depending on where one lives, they are free to celebrate together with other cultures' holidays as well. So in India, a Bahá'í may celebrate Diwali, while a Bahá'í in the United States may celebrate Christmas.

Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?

We have our own rituals, which Bahá'ís perform out of a love for God, and as a frequent reminder of Him. There are three different prayers, from which we are free to choose one to recite each day.There is also a 19-day fast, similar to the Islamic "Ramadan". It is simply abstaining from food or drink during sunup hours of the day (for obvious reasons, those living in extreme north or south hemispheres may use clocks instead of the sun!).

How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?

I am pretty new to the faith, so not many connections yet. I visit my local center usually once or twice a week, and connect with fellow Bahá'ís there.

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?

No more often than I turn to my own family.

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith?

Not currently, as I am not "officially" a Bahá'í yet. Once I join, I plan to get involved in local community-building projects.

How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?

I tend to avoid arguing with others about politics because it is so divisive, mostly theoretical, and very rarely can one be persuaded from their opinion. Personally, I would advocate for minarchism (minimal government involvement in personal lives). Yes, I am less involved in political discussion because of my faith, which warns against the potential harm of politics. Of course, I still do vote regularly.

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?

There are some who become known as "covenant breakers" when they attempt to divide the faith into sects. Personally, I think this is way too much of a taboo topic for most Bahá'ís, and it really shouldn't be. But it's there... You asked.

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?

No. We're free to eat meat and any other kinds of food. However, many writings of Bahá'u'lláh's son (and trustee of the faith) seem to recommend a vegetarian diet.

How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

This is unknown currently, but we are free to accept whatever scientific theories may explain this. It is assumed that God has had a guiding hand in the universe from its inception.

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?

This has been answered sufficiently. :)

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?

I'm not aware of the word "sin" being used in the writings anywhere, but it is certainly in other religions' texts. I would define sin as anything we think, say, do, or don't do, that does not please God.

LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?


God loves us. But, in loving us, He has given us free will, so we are free in this world to do what we want. If we love God, this will be top the betterment of the world, but if we love ourselves and live selfishly, we're not really getting the most out of life and we aren't necessarily benefiting others either. "For how does it benefit a man, if he gains the whole world, and yet causes harm to his soul?" -Mark 8:36 (New Testament of the Bible).
 
Aug 2013
471
Michigan
#9
How did you come to the Baha’i faith? (Parents? Friends? Co-Workers? Significant Other?)

During a private conversation, a professor in collage mentioned the Baha'i Faith in passing while discussing the movie Gandhi (the year it came out - if you want to figure out when). He knew very little about the Faith and, when pressed, mentioned some of the basic tenants: equality of men and women, harmony of science and religion, all religions come from the same source, etc.

I was intrigued, and determined to investigate. It took me a year to find some Baha'is and a couple more years to embrace the faith.

What does the Baha’i faith mean to you?

While my personal (day to day) approach to the Faith is never as focused as this answer may suggest, this is the honest answer: Everything. There is nothing else. It is truth, reality, etc.

How has your faith changed how you view the world, or other people in it?

The Faith is the lens through which I try to view the world, myself and the people in it. It has been that way for over 30 years, so it would be hard to tell you how things changed, since I don't honestly remember in full detail how things used to be.

How does your faith influence your life on a day-to-day basis?

I am an isolated Baha'i (which means I do not live very near other Baha'is) so most of the "influence" of the Faith is "personal." As stated above, I try to use the teachings of the Faith as the lens through which I view the world, and, hence, the foundation for my actions. I am more or less successful - with the understanding that 100% success is not possible. Striving is my goal, to continue striving is a measure of success.

I speak to God - formally (prayer) and informally - every day. I strive to be spiritual, patient, loving, generous, grateful, etc.

What are some fundamental aspects of Baha'i theology?

You have seen many already, but I haven't seen "progressive revelation" mentioned yet, so I'll add that one, and I'll add "independent investigation of truth," because I don't remember having seeing it mentioned yet either.

What are the aspects of the faith that are most appealing and/or important to you?

The extensive Writings, the administrative structure (the Covenant), the focus on unity, the elegance of how the answers found in the Faith jibe with history, and other faiths, the spiritual continuity with all faiths and within the Faith itself...

I’m finding that there are tons of Baha'i writings out there, which are some writing that a ‘newbie’ like me would find most helpful/informative/comprehensive?

People have given you some good suggestions. "Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llha" found online if you like, or on paper, is a fantastic collection of "selections" from Baha'u'llah's Writings. From a position of prophecy - if you are into that - "Thief in the Night" by William Sears is good, "I Shall Come Again" by Hushidar Motlagh is less of a narrative and more "scholarly" on the same subject.


What Baha’i writings and prayers are your favorites? Which ones draw you the most?

The Tablet of Ahmad, The Kitab-i-Iqan, The "Tablet to the Christians" (Lawh-i-Aqdas - The Most Holy Tablet)

What do you view as mankind’s relationship to nature, in light of Baha'i teachings? Do we have a responsibility to preserve it or use it?

Much as others have answered...all is God's creation, humans and nature, and all is to be treated with respect and care.

How do you feel technology fits into your Baha’i life?

The harmony of science and religion is a tenant of the Faith. Therefore the results of science are not, simply because they have been discovered and created by humanity, to be held in any special light (holy or profane). However, there are injunctions in the Faith (in the Writings) that point out that science without the balance of religion (spiritual insight) can quickly lead to unbridled materialism and misuse of knowledge - just as religion without the balance of science (logic, investigation) can quickly become superstition. Neither pure materialism nor empty superstition are good for the world, or the people in it.

What are the most notable holidays and rituals in the Baha’i faith (if your holiday schedule is just a combination of all other religious, you guys must be partying all the time! *joke*)? Which ones do most often get involved in personally?

Many answers have been given, I will simply add that it is important to understand that the Baha'i Faith is not simply a conglomeration of other Faiths/Beliefs - it is not eclectic universalism. The Baha'i Faith is a new Revelation, an independent religion in the same sense as Christianity came out of Judaism. While there is an embrace and understanding of the legitimacy of what has come before, the Faith is at once inclusive and something new.

Are there rituals/aspects specific only to the Bahai’s, or is it all just a synergy of other faiths?

See answer above.

How often do you connect with other Baha’is in your life?

Not as often as I would like.

How often do you turn to fellow Baha’is for consultation about life matters (big and small)?

Again, not as often as I would like.

Are you involved in any philanthropic work or giving specifically because of the Baha’i faith?

Because of the Faith...I don't know. Because of who I am which is because of the Faith, yes. Can't say that I would not be without the Faith.

How do Baha’i beliefs influence your political views? Are you more or less involved in the politics of your community/region/nation, because of it?

As many have mentioned, we are to be apolitical. I speak my mind about important issues like racial, gender, and economic prejudice. Sometimes these issues are taken up by one party or the other, but my stand on them is based on what is "right" and just and fair and inclusive, not on what one or the other party may feel is expedient and will get them votes. I do vote, I do not belong to or actively support one party over any other.

Is there such a thing as blasphemy or heresy in the Bahai religion? It seems so inclusive and conforming, are there any condemnatory aspects to it?

Blasphemy/heresy, technically, no. A friend and I recently had an intense discussion of a matter of interpretation. We did not necessarily agree in our final conclusions - this does not matter. As was pointed out and understood during the discussion - by both he and I - within the Faith, no individual's interpretation of the Writings is, or should be, considered as "TRUTH." And one should not suggest that, or insist that others embrace their understanding in order to be "correct" or pass some test of piety. We all come at God, life, the Faith from different perspectives and each perspective is valid - UNTIL we insist that ours is the ONLY valid perspective.

Others have mentioned "Covenant Breakers." Briefly (not exhaustively), a Covenant Breaker is one who DOES insist that their truth is the only truth, that they hold authority to interpret the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and to govern the Faith outside of the democratic structure that was established by Baha'u'llah (the Covenant).

Are there any special food practices/guidelines Bahai adhere to?

I think you have many good answers to this one.

How do the Baha’is believe the universe, Earth, and mankind came to be?

They were created by The Creator. Just how He did it is a matter of ongoing discovery.

Are marriage and funeral ceremonies distinctly different?

You have many good answers.

Does ‘sin’ exist in the Baha'i conception of spirituality? If so, what is it exactly? How would one manage it? How do you ward against it (if possible)? How do you cleanse yourself of it?

Sin exists. Now, my understanding: sin exists in that sin is "missing the target" not achieving the goals set for us by God or by ourselves. Sin is unavoidable for us humans (my take). Sin has also been forgiven. Through the Grace of God, we are forgiven for our sins and through this Grace alone can we approach the Holy and Sanctified Presence of God. We have been created good, out of Love and in the image of Love (God). When we do not recognize, embrace or act upon that, we sin. God, however, has promised us his Grace (through many, most strongly and directly through Jesus) - a promise we can count on. Therefore, as Paul suggests, we are no longer "under" sin, but under Grace. This, to me is quite clear in the teachings of Baha'u'llah. Now that we are under Grace, it is our mission in this cycle to apply that Grace to our actions and interactions - to live that Grace and change the world with it.

LASTLY!

What, in the Baha'i view, is God’s relationship to humans? Does he love us? Hate us? Indifferent?


See answer above.
 
Mar 2014
2
Pembroke Pines, Fl
#10
I Can't Believe I Never Posted This Back!

I'm so sorry I never officially posted a reply back to this thread, I could have sworn I did (but thinking about it now, I may have gotten distracted before I hit send ^_^"). I just wanted to say:

THANK YOU SO, SO, SO, MUCH TO EVERYONE WHO RESPONDED TO MY QUESTIONS! Really everyone, your answers helped me so much- both for my school project and for my own spiritual journey of discovery. Currently reading through The Hidden Words now. =]

Again, THANK YOU!!!!!!
 

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