New and confused

Jan 2017
9
Lancaster
#1
Hello, I met some local Baha'is, a very small group, it is mainly one family who live close to me, plus a floating 3 or 4 who drift in and out. For about the past 8 months I've been going to their weekly devotionals. I love talking with them, finding out about the faith and discussing all kinds of things. I have no particular religious background, but am a constant seeker. What attracts me to Baha'i is the idea of unity, the tolerance, the gentleness, the love. I love reading the texts and prayers. However, there are problems. We started working through the Ruhi books, completed Book 1, which was kind of fun. But now we've started on Book 2, and I'm starting to feel uneasy. I feel as if it's too much too soon, as if this book is really for people who have already made a full commitment and want to teach and proselytise. Also, I started looking on line at all I could find on the Baha'i faith, and I'm very concerned about certain things - mainly the attitude to gays and the whole idea of shunning covenant-breakers. This goes completely against a spirit of tolerance. I don't feel I can continue with the Ruhi books, although I still really like these lovely people and would like to keep finding out about the faith and sharing feelings and thoughts with them. I suppose I feel bad about letting them down, and wish I could get out of the Ruhi thing without losing touch with them altogether. But the whole thing now seems to have turned into a Ruhi books course. I'm not sure what to do, and would welcome any advice. Many thanks.
 
Mar 2013
570
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#2
Esmeryld,

You could just tell the local Baha'is exactly what you said in the post, I don't think they will react badly to being called wonderful loving people.

As far as Covenant breakers, it is really a question of letting them go their own way if they want to, but not be influenced by them or try to influence them. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs, but to Baha'is anyone who says they believe in Baha'u'llah, whose main teaching is Unity, but tries to break off and create their own sect is really misguided. It's only a very small number of people compared with the number of Baha'is in the world who do that.
 
Jan 2017
9
Lancaster
#3
Thanks Edward, I will certainly talk to them. They are such nice people, and I want to be open and truthful with them. And I will certainly continue to learn about the faith.
 
Oct 2014
1,797
Stockholm
#4
Oh, the Ruhi 2 unease: that's a familiar phenomenon. You go through Book 1, and enjoy it, because it concerns important aspects of our lives as human beings, but then you start studying Book 2, only to realize that Book 2 presupposes that you already have accepted the Faith and have become a fully-fledged Bahá'í.

We have a sore need for Book 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, etc - books that are written for people who are interested in spiritual matters and are sympathetic to the Faith, but in no way have decided to take the full step forward and become Bahá'ís. And, indeed, it is not our main goal to proselytize and make everyone sign a membership card. Teaching the Faith is so much more: it entails sharing the treasures of our Faith with everyone, to the extent that each person is ready to accept. That is how we can make this world a better place - by spreading the message and inspiring everyone.

That's how 'Abdu'l-Bahá did it. How come that we have started to think that we can do better than He did?

Best

from

gnat
 
Likes: timeflies
Jun 2014
1,081
Wisconsin
#5
Yeah the numbering of Ruhi books is really strange. :p

And I've been told that after the first the order you do them doesn't really matter.

Book 1: Basic overview on the Faith.
Book 2: About teaching tenets of the Faith.
Book 3: About teaching children.
Book 4: History of the Faith
Book 5: About teaching youth
Book 6: More about Teaching
Book 7: About the Ruhi Books

Yeah, I'd personally order it something like 1>4>2>6>3>5>7, or something like that.

And I wish there were more study materials focusing on tenets and scriptures and stuff like that, rather than an emphasis on teaching (which is rather strange if you're someone who still feels like you are learning) :p
 
Likes: timeflies
Jan 2017
9
Lancaster
#6
Exactly, Walrus. I am still learning. I am deeply moved by the writings, but struggling with the strict rules, which is why I would like to hear more about the reasons behind, for example the ban on alcohol, the necessity to shun covenant-breakers, and the ban on homosexuality. My Baha'i friends have stressed that this religion welcomes debate and questions, and that one is always encouraged to reason for oneself rather than just accepting dogma. I need someone to explain to me the reasoning behind these things. I really want to understand.
 
Mar 2013
570
Edwardsville, Illinois, USA
#7
Exactly, Walrus. I am still learning. I am deeply moved by the writings, but struggling with the strict rules, which is why I would like to hear more about the reasons behind, for example the ban on alcohol, the necessity to shun covenant-breakers, and the ban on homosexuality. My Baha'i friends have stressed that this religion welcomes debate and questions, and that one is always encouraged to reason for oneself rather than just accepting dogma. I need someone to explain to me the reasoning behind these things. I really want to understand.
In my own personal view, the ban on alcohol is easy to understand, in that this, as well as certain other Baha'i teachings are meant as a benefit or protection to society as a whole, not just the individual. Many people are able to use alcohol in moderation, but a significant percentage of people, particularly many native or aboriginal groups, have a strong tendency towards alcoholism, and alcohol will harm or totally destroy their life. By not having it as part of Baha'i culture it is a mercy to those people whose lives would be destroyed by it. Besides, even for many who are able to use it in moderation, they will still get drunk sometimes, which is demeaning to human dignity and is contrary to development of a strong mind.

The ban on homosexual activity is harder in my opinion, as for those people who do have homosexual orientation, it means they have to remain single to follow Baha'i law. Of course, there are many people who remain single by choice or simply because they never meet the right person, and they can have a very full life even if they never are married. In my personal view, the ultimate implication of the law is that the purpose of marriage and sexuality is to have children and people place too much emphasis on the pleasure aspect of it.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that our true self and real identity is not defined by gender, sexual orientation, race or any other factor that is tied to the physical body or material existence, it is our eternal soul that defines us. We only live on this earth for a short while but have eternity as a spirit, which has no material limitations.
 
Sep 2010
4,522
Earth
#9
Exactly, Walrus. I am still learning. I am deeply moved by the writings, but struggling with the strict rules, which is why I would like to hear more about the reasons behind, for example the ban on alcohol, the necessity to shun covenant-breakers, and the ban on homosexuality. My Baha'i friends have stressed that this religion welcomes debate and questions, and that one is always encouraged to reason for oneself rather than just accepting dogma. I need someone to explain to me the reasoning behind these things. I really want to understand.
Greetings Esmeryld, great to have you here for a chat. Most welcome ;)

Personally I have not been a fan of the Rhui as a course in teaching. To me it is what it was developed for, that is as a deepening tool for those that have accepted Baha'u'llah. To me it worked well in some areas using it as a teaching tool, but in other places it raises the feelings and reactions as you have felt. To be honest, I would feel that I was indeed proselytizing to you if I did this book with you and you had not yet accepted Baha'u'llah.

Your questions are very important and I would like to offer a reply.

"Shunning Covenant Breakers".

The first thing to consider with this subject that many very Loving attempts would have been made with an individual that was walking the path of Covenant Breaking, to show them that the path that they were on was but a cancer to the Faith of Baha'u'llah.

Think of all the religions past and what has happened when they have split into many different branches, all not agreeing with each other.

Baha'u'llah has Given a great elixir to this problem and that is His Covenant with us. Baha'u'llah has assured us that this Faith will not split if we follow the Covenant He has given us.

Thus when one starts to walk this path, the cancer of this thought of division spreads rapidly, as man turns to his own wants and needs and does not let go of his own ambitions or desires for the good of all.

After many attempts to cure this cancer and those attempts fail, the best for the whole body of man is to cut the cancer off. The great thing here is, that even then, Baha'u'llah still gives the person a chance to change, they are not cut off forever if they see the error in the division they were after. They can return to a unity of thought and action and ask to become a Baha'i again.

Baha'is are not perfect (though that is the aim :eek:) and can have a conflict of opinion, but that conflict can never be manifested in a division of Faith.

"Ban on homosexuality"

This is a difficult subject in this day and age when Sex has dominated the thoughts of many in life. The way I see it is that Baha'u'llah has not banned Homosexuality, Baha'u'llah has given us a law that sexual relations are only permissibly between a Man and Woman that are legally married.

Thus if we are not fortunate to find a partner, do not choose in this life or it does not happen in this life that we get married to a person of the opposite sex, then we will have a life that is without a sexual bond. To me God has made this Law and as such, there is an answer for all, only if we submit to and obey the wisdom for the Love of God.

"Ban on alcohol"

The ban covers all Mind Altering drugs not covered by a medical Prescription.

Also I will say strong things on this subject, please do not see them as personal! :eek:

Firstly with this I have lived a lot of my Bahai life in places where alcohol is the prime destroyer of the communities I live in. This is so heart breaking to see children born with Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) and if they survive this, then the abuse both Mental and Physical they face is much much worse. Also the spouses stand little chance of not being Beaten or physically abused on a regular basis.

A great percentage of these communities have never had a job, the whole life is directed as getting another drink or finding more drugs, thus Crime and Violence a way of life.

Given this I see nothing but Wisdom in Baha'u'llah's Law's on this. Oh that it was never made for man to forget His God.

I think One night in a home in one of the communities I live in would really touch anyones heart with this subject.

Hope that was not too strongly worded. Be well, be happy and Regards Tony
 
Last edited:
Jan 2017
9
Lancaster
#10
Thanks for all comments. I am grateful, but still confused. About alcohol, for example. I have worked for a long time with alcoholics in rehab and have seen firsthand the damage, so point taken there. However, current scientific research maintains that, for example, red wine in moderation is actually of benefit. I know that Baha'is accept scientific research. I'm not sure why alcohol is subject to this total ban while tobacco, while discouraged, is not, when it is scientifically proven that tobacco is extremely dangerous and has no benefits at all. I am all in favour of education on alcohol, and on a change in licensing laws to protect the vulnerable. I just don't understand the total ban. Similarly science points distinctly to proofs that homosexuality is biological and natural. As a Baha'i, what should the attitude be when science actually contradicts a particular element of the Baha'i laws?
 
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