Ruhi Book 1 question

Dec 2009
165
United States
My family and I hosted an intensive Ruhi Book 1 youth meeting (participants were from Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Puerto Rico), during which we started and completed the book in one and a half days.

We did encounter one notably puzzling question during that time. Consultation took place, but I don't think we really arrived at any definite answer.

In Section 10 of Unit 3, "Life and Death", exercise #2, we are asked to "[m]ark true or false in the light of the last two quotations". Here are said quotations:

"Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust. Wherefore, O My servants, defile not your wings with the clay of waywardness and vain desires, and suffer them not to be stained with the dust of envy and hate, that ye may not be hindered from soaring in the heavens of My divine knowledge."

- Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 323-329)
"Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him—a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation…. Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty."

- Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 64-69)
The part in #2 in particular is part f, whose statement is "Nothing can impede the Will of God". Two ideas were submitted to the group, one against the statement and the other for the statement. I don't think we really used the two quotes very much, but we incorporated them a little to supplement our more general understanding of what the Writings as a whole had to say on the matter. I will attempt to represent both sides as I understood them.

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Argument for the impediment of the Will of God
In The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, for example, Bahá'u'lláh exhorts several of the world's political and religious leaders to follow Him. Because most of those leaders reacted negatively to His letters, the length of time needed to unite the world --- the unification of the world being part of God's Will --- was prolonged. Therefore, His will was impeded (slowed down). Also, because each human being is endowed with free will, we can choose to follow the Will of God, or we can choose to go against it. God does not force us to conform to His Will. If a person makes a contribution to His Cause or to humanity, His Will (for an event, such as world peace/unification) must be nearer to completion. Without the chance to speed up a divine process, there is less incentive to make a contribution, if it could still be considered as such. Finally, later in Section 14, the first two sentences of the first quote state:

"Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise."

-Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 155-158)
The next quotation goes on to say what happens to the "souls of the infidels". This implies that such souls do not "liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator", that they do not follow the Will of God and thus hinder it.


Argument against the impediment of the Will of God
No matter what, the Will of God is always done, because God is omnipotent. When parts of His Will transpire (again, such as unification of humanity), the time that it takes for that is inherently part of the Will of God. Sure, we have free will, and can take part in the development of a divine event. However, it is only because it is God's Will that we have the opportunities in life to affect divine events in the first place. Moreover, according to the second quote above, the Will of God is "unconstrained", and a constraint is a limitation. It follows that God's Will can not be limited by anything, including the actions of people who seek to impede or stop It. If it is God's Will for something to happen at a certain time, then nothing can keep It from happening at the time. In addition, Bahá'u'lláh elsewhere that:

"Blessed is He Who, in a well-guarded Tablet, hath prescribed a fixed measure unto all things."

- Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, Pages 3-54)
It is evident that the time needed for one of God's goals, as part of His Will, is "fixed" and "prescribed" already. It can't change, despite the imperfect actions of God's creatures. Finally, regarding times in which it appears that the Will of God is impeded, such as when the leaders who Bahá'u'lláh wrote to did not listen to Him, it could easily be that it was God's Will for a leader to reject Bahá'u'lláh to provide a lesson to humanity. It's not that He forced a decision, but rather He willed for troubles in general to arise, so that humanity could better rely on God's aid, and learn from the consequences of such troubles.


Additional argument for the impediment of the Will of God
According to Bahá'u'lláh, fate can be set in stone, but it can also be changed through prayer.

"Know thou, O fruit of My Tree, that the decrees of the Sovereign Ordainer, as related to fate and predestination, are of two kinds. Both are to be obeyed and accepted. The one is irrevocable, the other is, as termed by men, impending. To the former all must unreservedly submit, inasmuch as it is fixed and settled. God, however, is able to alter or repeal it. As the harm that must result from such a change will be greater than if the decree had remained unaltered, all, therefore, should willingly acquiesce in what God hath willed and confidently abide by the same.

The decree that is impending, however, is such that prayer and entreaty can succeed in averting it."

- Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 132-134)
Because God can do anything, He can, of course, alter the course of any events He wants. Change can be for better or for worse. Sometimes, He does so at the humble request of His servants. So, if someone prays for the promotion of something like elimination of all forms of prejudice, then, assuming that prayer is acceptable to God, it will assist with that lofty goal, which is a piece of God's Will for humankind. On the other hand, if someone does not pray for that, the goal will not be assisted as much as if he/she had done otherwise, and the goal would be achieved a little later.


Additional argument against the impediment of the Will of God
God is perfect. `Abdu'l-Bahá attests to this:

"God is pure perfection, and creatures are but imperfections."

-`Abdu'l-Bahá (Bahá'í Reference Library - Some Answered Questions, Pages 113-115)
Since God is perfect, His Will must be perfect as well. Otherwise, He would have made a mistake, which is impossible. Hence, it is not necessary for the Will of God to be altered, due to its perfection. Additionally, God is all-knowing. He knows everything that will happen in the future. Hence, God's Will must, by nature, accommodate things like prayers before they happen, or else It would have to be changed, and It would not be perfect.

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For those of you who have gone through Ruhi Book 1, what did you answer for this question? More importantly, I would like to hear the reflections that anyone might have about this. I'm not asking for a debate. On the contrary, I'm requesting a discussion in the spirit of Bahá'í consultation, one in which we may all benefit from by learning. If you're leaning towards one side, please share your thoughts, but please don't hesitate to also share thoughts supporting thoughts for the opposite side, too.
 
Dec 2010
2,056
Australia
Gods will is never impeded. His will also accounts for people having free choice.
Its not his will that a terrorist blows up a shop, but it is his will that that person has the free choice to do so...
Am I wrong?
 
Mar 2010
1,349
Rockville, MD, USA
While various individuals can try to impede the Will of God temporarily, nothing can ULTIMATELY impede it!

Simple as that.

Peace, :)

Bruce
 
Jun 2009
473
earth
It is the Will of God that people have free choice. Sometimes they use this free will to act contrary to the Will of God. As God is the All Knowing then surely he has taken this into account in His divine plan. Maybe this is a bit like a parent giving a child the freedom to make a mistake and learn from it having advised them of the right path to take.

Maybe an important point is that God could, if he chose, enforce His Will. It is the most powerful force. Nothing could impede the Will of God when he choses to enforce it. When He chose to allow free will for people, He is chosing not to enforce His Will.
 
Sep 2010
1,758
Louisiana
Will of God

If I remember correctly Baha'u'llah would say if He were put to death another would rise up to do God's bidding that the Cause would go forth. IT may appear that God's Will is thwarted, but we are told over and over that It will prevail. It requires faith when things do not go smoothly to adhere to belief when overwhelming things are against it. One could be discouraged if one chooses to be over many things, but God's Will is being done in this Faith.
 
Dec 2009
165
United States
Thank you, everyone who has posted! This question had been gnawing at my brain a lot lately, and I just recently found a quote (as part of my own independent investigation of truth) in Gleanings, which, along with your contributions, has convinced me that the Will of God can not be impeded.

Here is the quote I found:

"O My servants! Let not your vain hopes and idle fancies sap the foundations of your belief in the All-Glorious God, inasmuch as such imaginings have been wholly unprofitable unto men, and failed to direct their steps unto the straight Path. Think ye, O My servants, that the Hand of My all-encompassing, My overshadowing, and transcendent sovereignty is chained up, that the flow of Mine ancient, My ceaseless, and all-pervasive mercy is checked, or that the clouds of My sublime and unsurpassed favors have ceased to rain their gifts upon men? Can ye imagine that the wondrous works that have proclaimed My divine and resistless power are withdrawn, or that the potency of My will and purpose hath been deterred from directing the destinies of mankind? If it be not so, wherefore, then, have ye striven to prevent the deathless Beauty of My sacred and gracious Countenance from being unveiled to men’s eyes? Why have ye struggled to hinder the Manifestation of the Almighty and All-Glorious Being from shedding the radiance of His Revelation upon the earth? Were ye to be fair in your judgment, ye would readily recognize how the realities of all created things are inebriated with the joy of this new and wondrous Revelation, how all the atoms of the earth have been illuminated through the brightness of its glory. Vain and wretched is that which ye have imagined and still imagine!"

- Bahá'u'lláh (Bahá'í Reference Library - Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 323-329)
 
Jun 2006
4,322
California
I've tutored Ruhi Book one a few times... and while the true - false issues are more to stimulate discussions never came across such an issue as presented by Clex.. but we don't as you know check to see that everyone has to agree on these points.

I mark "Nothing can impede the Will of God" as true....

You'll note in the "To the Collaborators" section it has on page 4:

" ... A few of the exercises contain questions that cannot be answered quickly or in a clear-cut way. These questions are designed to raise awareness about the subject; if partcipants merely think about such questions, the objective of learning will be fulfilled."