Hello, folks.

Dec 2018
2
Eastern US
#1
Hello,

I am curious about Baha'i, so I figured I'd stop in and see what you guys are about. I suppose I'd describe myself as an atheist who is interested in religious pluralism from a philosophical angle (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William James, John Hick). I interested to see how much pluralism plays a part in your practice and/or religious thinking.

See you in the forums!
 
Sep 2018
25
usa
#2
Hi, and welcome.
These are my understanding of bahai faith, and i could be wrong.
The bahai faith is comfortable and tolerant of an religious pluralistic world. we are encouraged to celebrate our diversity.
However, we are pursuing an one word religion in which mankind can live united under one banner. For every religion originates from one source.
At every age the body of humanity eventually becomes inflicted with an ailment, therefore our caretaker (god) sends a doctor (prophet) to help us.
This divine healer for today's ailment, has prescribed unity through love and compassion.
it is not to say we force everyone to be bahais, nor say we are better than all other religions. That is fanaticism, which is strictly forbidden.
 
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Dec 2012
168
Earth
#3
Greetings Vulcanlogician,

Welcome to the forum.

Unity within diversity is a key phrase employed within the Bahá’í Faith. In addition to this diversity of views and the clash of opinions is welcomed because from this truth can be realised. In this respect there is enormous pluralism within the Bahá’í Faith, but it is, or rather should be, executed with consideration to others. This is because once a view has been offered it is no longer the possession of the person that offered it. Therefore it can be challenged by anyone, including the person that raised it. It takes quite a while to learn this process because people have been largely conditioned to think in opposite ways with the exception of some native groups that have maintained their original culture. So hard discussions are, or at least should be, part of Bahá’í life.

The difficulty we face, as members of the Bahá’í Faith, is that we are rather like children trying to learn new spiritual values, or if you prefer emotional intelligent values. These human values, like love, courage, perseverance and such, cannot be measured, but we do have the ability to harness them within our character. This is spiritualisation for a Bahá’í. We therefore fundamentally rejoice in each other growth, no matter how difficult this process might be at times. Indeed Bahá’ís should pray for tests because in learning how to overcome them we grow. We cannot grow without tests because they grant us the motive to overcome the flaws in our own character. It is from sincere rather than pretentious intent genuine transformation can transpire. Indeed Bahá’ís are encouraged to condition their children to hardship. This does not mean violating their rights, but rather allowing them to understand that hardship moulds character. A good example here is with the way the Son of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, trained His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, to become punctual. This was an important lesson because Persian culture generally has a low regard for this quality. He was late for dinner and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá smacked him hard across the back of his legs, an acceptable way to condition children at that time. He was never late for anything else in his life. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá also conditioned Bahá’í adults for punctuality too. On one occasion a western believer was late for dinner and they were informed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had gone without dinner and was now engaged in other events. The lady concerned felt so guilty she too was never late for anything else in her life. These two simple stories shows us an important point. If anyone wrongs us, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt our feelings we are responsible for letting them know in such a way that it can assist them with their own spiritual development. Their spiritual development is actually more important than the way that we feel. This is why teaching the Bahá’í Faith is so often poorly misunderstood. Anyone can take to a podium to talk and offer an image of sweet honey, but it takes integrity and insight to positively change the lives of other people. This is why all Bahá’ís can only truly teach through their own character. As we grow those around us grow too.

I hope this might help to simplify matters for you and allow you to see that we do not subject ourselves to man made philosophies, but rather encourage people to develop their own unique understandings and outlooks. This does not mean it is wrong to study philosophical issues, indeed it is prudent to do so because it allows understanding and dialogue. Indeed it might interest you to know that elements of key political theories can be found within the Bahá’í Faith, including Nihilism. This was demonstrated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during the food riots in Palestine after the 1st World War. As the cost of bread escalated to the point were people could no longer afford to eat He not only instructed people to break into the bakeries to take the bread for themselves, but also told them to tell the bakers that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told them to do it. All philosophical values are based on the needs of the times. In this respect there are elements of truth within all thinkers because it encapsulates part of their own experience in life.

The mind is a beautiful place and you can make it into whatever you choose to value. Indeed within the Bahá’í Faith the mind and the heart are collectively viewed as the soul. Between them we can obtain a sense of balance in both the material world and the spiritual world. It helps to create a vibrant and ageless outlook to life. You do not need to become a Bahá’í to experience this, but if you have an interest in pluralism it is certainly worth investing some time to become more familiar with it. Indeed based on the four thinkers you have listed you might find it helpful to start with the Hidden Words. Just take a passage a day and think about it. Do not tax your mind. After a time you will come to see its values expressed by other thinkers too. Once you can learn to see that the Bahá’í Faith is all about universal human values it will begin to become less alien and more familiar. Indeed in time you will come to see its values being promoted by all people of integrity regardless of their beliefs.

Given your handle name, I will leave you with the late Leonard Nimoy to share with you the meaning of “Live long and prosper”.


Live long and prosper,

Earth
 
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Jun 2014
1,008
Wisconsin
#4
Indeed it might interest you to know that elements of key political theories can be found within the Bahá’í Faith, including Nihilism. This was demonstrated by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during the food riots in Palestine after the 1st World War. As the cost of bread escalated to the point were people could no longer afford to eat He not only instructed people to break into the bakeries to take the bread for themselves, but also told them to tell the bakers that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told them to do it.
I don't see how that's nihilism, though the term is often misused.
 
Sep 2012
305
Panama
#5
...describe myself as an atheist who is interested in religious pluralism...
Neat! Most dictionaries describe "religion" as a system of beliefs in God, and before anyone say's you're contradicting yourself let's note that Buddhism is usually referred to as a 'religion' (and fwiw, Baha'is understand the Buddha is a major Divine Messenger) while Buddhists themselves do not concern themselves w/ a relationship or closeness w/ God but rather an approach to Truth.

So we won't say you're contradicting yourself anymore than we say dictionaries or the Baha'is contradict themselves. Let's face it --when the Christ was put on trial he didn't say he came to bear witness to God (or Jehovah), he said he came to bear witness to the Truth.
 
Apr 2011
1,056
Hyrule
#6
The difficulty we face, as members of the Bahá’í Faith, is that we are rather like children trying to learn new spiritual values, or if you prefer emotional intelligent values. These human values, like love, courage, perseverance and such, cannot be measured, but we do have the ability to harness them within our character.
I prefer the good ol' fashioned word virtue. This raises an important question: is it even possible to teach virtue? I think that it is possible, but I question the validity of teaching it in any traditional classroom setting. I mean, it is not like we possess Spock's Vulcan mind meld, in which we can share our consciousness or level of awareness with another individual. We still have rudimentary means of knowledge transfer (e.g., books). And what is virtue but practical knowledge directed towards the good? You yourself admitted these virtues "cannot be measured," and, in traditional schooling methods, what is not measurable or testable might as well not exist, so the only teachable method may just be the blunt tool of the school of life. Hence the long process of "getting it."

I am curious about Baha'i, so I figured I'd stop in and see what you guys are about. I suppose I'd describe myself as an atheist who is interested in religious pluralism from a philosophical angle (Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, William James, John Hick). I interested to see how much pluralism plays a part in your practice and/or religious thinking.
Perhaps the closest thing to a Baha'i-like pluralism I have read in the books of the philosophers is Ken Wilber.
 
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daniel

Forum Staff
Mar 2006
167
Seattle, WA
#7
Sep 2012
305
Panama
#8
...is it even possible to teach virtue? I think that it is possible, but I question the validity of teaching it in any traditional classroom setting...
In my Phylosophy 1A class the prof told us that we wouldn't find any books in the univ. library on ethics because they've all been stolen by ethics students.

Never the less, my wife & I did not hesitate to teach our kids the virtues while they grew up. My take is that people can learn if they want to.
 
Dec 2018
2
Eastern US
#9
Thanks for the welcome and the information, guys!

So we won't say you're contradicting yourself anymore than we say dictionaries or the Baha'is contradict themselves. Let's face it --when the Christ was put on trial he didn't say he came to bear witness to God (or Jehovah), he said he came to bear witness to the Truth.
A search for Truth is what draws me to explore philosophical questions. I more came to listen (hopefully learning an insight or two along the way) than to argue or advance ideas, as philosophers sometimes do. Although I don't come with an empty head either. I am highly interested in the ideas of John Hick, whom I mentioned before. To Hick, behind all reality sits the "Divine Logos" or "Cosmic Christ." It is a great being of manifold forms. To some it is the Tao. To others it is Yahweh, Allah, Brahman etc.. Hick postulates that sincere reflection and meditation can bring anyone into contact with this Divine Logos. And so, throughout history, many prophets and saints have come into contact with this entity. The thing is, they each interpret this being through their own particular cultural lens. Further, there are varying levels of depth from one mystic to another. This leads to many different world religions and seemingly contradictory doctrines.

Anyway, not to ramble, but I was wondering if this idea had any expression in the Baha'i tradition. Some things lead me to think "yes" and other things lead me to think "no." So one of my goals in dropping by here was to clarify this.
 
Mar 2013
519
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#10
Thanks for the welcome and the information, guys!



A search for Truth is what draws me to explore philosophical questions. I more came to listen (hopefully learning an insight or two along the way) than to argue or advance ideas, as philosophers sometimes do. Although I don't come with an empty head either. I am highly interested in the ideas of John Hick, whom I mentioned before. To Hick, behind all reality sits the "Divine Logos" or "Cosmic Christ." It is a great being of manifold forms. To some it is the Tao. To others it is Yahweh, Allah, Brahman etc.. Hick postulates that sincere reflection and meditation can bring anyone into contact with this Divine Logos. And so, throughout history, many prophets and saints have come into contact with this entity. The thing is, they each interpret this being through their own particular cultural lens. Further, there are varying levels of depth from one mystic to another. This leads to many different world religions and seemingly contradictory doctrines.

Anyway, not to ramble, but I was wondering if this idea had any expression in the Baha'i tradition. Some things lead me to think "yes" and other things lead me to think "no." So one of my goals in dropping by here was to clarify this.
I would say yes, very much so. The Logos (Word) is the generating impulse for the Universe, in both its material and spiritual aspects. There is a Divine Essence, the ultimate reality of God, which we can never comprehend, but the Logos is an emination from the Divine Essence, which is brought to us via the Prophets and Messengers over the ages. This has paralleled the evolution of man on Earth over millions of years, and is the cause of our development as humans.

We have no record of Prophets prior to recorded history, but the ones we know about include Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Krisna, Rama, Zoroaster, and the most recent ones, Muhammad, the Bab and Baha'u'llah. There were also Prophets outside of Asia, such as Handsome Lake and others among Native American tribes. According to Islam and Baha'i teachings, Adam was the earliest Prophet that we know about, although in Jewish and Christian teachings he is tied up in the Creation story, which of course was not literal.

According to Baha'u'llah, "this is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future."
 
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