Meditations

Talisman messages of August to December 2001

Date: Thu Aug 2, 2001 8:34 am
Subject: Re: Gibran and the houri

Dear Cal,

Yes, I do understand what you mean about being fed one version of the Faith - basically, a repressed Christian one - just to be encouraged to can all that for an esoteric, erotic Islamic one. That can sure be a cause for confusion!

I guess, for me, I was so unhappy with the original version fed to us that I was ready for a new version. When I discovered the psychic, spiritual and erotic energy behind the tradition that Baha'u'llah himself used and participated in, I embraced it and drowned in it willingly. I was so delighted to find that Baha'u'llah wasn't like the way he'd been represented to me. Oh how they had misrepresented him!

It's interesting that you should mention the Majnun and Layli story because my take on that story is that we should engage our passion no matter what society thinks of us. Baha'u'llah describes Majnun's behaviour as good in that he searched even in the dust for his beloved. Majnun was so in love, he was "crazy". People thought he was nuts, but Baha'u'llah says that's the way to be!

>So I'm not so repressed as I am confused. Why haven't we been given the
>Houri Tablets if they're so great? Most Baha'is haven't even heard of
>them. We still have people saying the Maid of Heaven is the New
>Jerusalem and the City of Denial of Self Wherein Lies Certitude.

You have said it before on another occasion that the repression of the sex instinct is the way to control people. If you make people feel guilty about their "drives" (whatever they are driven to do), then they are easily controlled as citizens.

Alison


Date: Fri Aug 3, 2001 8:30 am
Subject: Re: some of the old inner-outer

Dear Gary,

The inner and outer distinction is not one I made up. It is a distinction that is fundamental to mysticism. It is assumed in this oft-quoted hadith, which Baha'u'llah quotes in the Seven Valleys: "We shall show them our signs in the regions and in themselves". I found another reference to that in Tablet of the Son, yesterday: "Again, for how long and until what age and era can the traces remain visible, of the divine verses revealed by the Manifestations of both the inner soul and of the farthest regions?" And again, Baha'u'llah says in the Seven Valleys that the universe is outside of us and it is also folded up within us. This is just like saying that there is a planet Earth and a solar system. One is our near homeland and the other is our parent galaxy. That's all it means. Nothing to do with ego.

The inner and outer distinction is also based on the names of God, which are the primary building blocks of reality. The names behind the inner and outer distinction are The Hidden and The Manifest. The Hidden of the human is the inner self, and The Manifest of the human is the person's body, actions and character. Everything in existence has a hidden and a manifest aspect. That is a law.

As for people falling into the delusion that they are separated existentially from the Other, well, yes I agree with you there. We are all one. The separation from the Other that the ego perpetrates is certainly an illusion. And I agree with you that that gulf the ego generates is bridged by compassion. Actually, that is why I argue so strenuously for passion, because without passion, compassion is impossible. To my mind, the "emotional cut-off" people are so good at is an excellent example of the ego at work in the way that you describe.

Alison


Date: Thu Aug 9, 2001 12:36 pm
Subject: Re: Babi jihad

> Finally, if what you say is true that what was written by Nabil (a close
> friend to Baha'u'llah throughout his life) was 80% fiction, it does not
> say much for Shoghi Effendi and George Townsend's values of truthfulness
> regarding factual history. Or for that matter does not say much for all
> other historical literature written and published by Baha'i publishing
> trusts about the Baha'i faith in the last 50 years.

Dear George,

I am no historian, but I can recommend to you Abbas Amanat's book on the Bab: "Resurrection and Renewal". It is an academic work. You can see that he uses many sources, and occasionally refers to the Dawn Breakers. Just looking at the way he does it, you can see where the Dawn Breakers fits in from an academic point of view.

The book gave me a new insight into the Bab and his followers. I was particularly taken by the way the Bab almost passively allowed his followers to run the revelation themselves. It is like he is a participant in it on an equal footing with them. Very egalitarian.

There is also an interesting insight into the impact Tahirih had on her contemporaries. She was outrageous even for her co-religionists. At one point, they complained to the Bab about her and he backed her right to be outrageous. I have taken a lot of strength from that. If the House was able to complain to Baha'u'llah about me, I don't believe Baha'u'llah would back them. He would tell them to get a life.

Alison


Date: Mon Aug 13, 2001 4:33 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Accepting the Bab

Cal,

I was responding to Larry's statements about the manifestations having limitations. In one sense, they do have limitations, in another, they do not. They have both a God and a limited aspect to them. The God aspect does not descend into the limited, social one. You can't look at the limited aspect and say "God himself is that". He is not. God himself is not like anything in creation. As the Hidden Word tells us, what God reveals is in accordance with the capacity and understanding of humanity and has nothing to do with God in himself.

The fact that Baha'u'llah had slaves tells me that God lived in a society where slavery was acceptable behaviour and God was on the cutting edge of change there. That is the situation humanity put God into when he lived on earth with us.

Alison


Date: Tue Aug 14, 2001 9:59 am
Subject: contradictions

Someone was asking privately why there are contradictions in the *doctrinal* teachings of the revelations. My response to that is to go back to Baha'u'llah's explanation in the Iqan about the two stations of the Manifestations. The first station is the divine station and in that station all the Manifestations are one. In that realm, there are no differences because there is no multiplicity, just oneness. But in their second station, the manifestations are different. They manifest the names and attributes of God differently and they live in different social contexts. This results in differences of doctrine. The Guardian says that religious truth is relative, so what was taught by one manifestation isn't going to be appropriate for another age. It's not that what was taught previously was wrong, just that it was right for then but not now.

In the Tablet of the Son, Baha'u'llah makes an interesting statement. He says: "One must look at the basic principle of the cause of God". This principle changes with each revelation. From what I understand Baha'u'llah to say, the principle of the cause in the Baha'i revelation is "virtues". In relation to the Islamic and Babi revelations, he says that in them "the divine will perferred pure transcendence and absolute sanctification". But we also know that the purpose of the Babi revelation was to herald the coming of Baha'u'llah and prepare the world for it. See quote below.

Alison

----------------

All souls who are nourished by a sprinkling from the heavenly stream of utterance will perceive that in the dispensation of the Point of the Bayan (the Bab), there appeared that which had remained concealed. This revelation and the revelation before it bear an exact resemblance to the dispensations of (John) the son of Zechariah and (Jesus) the Spirit. In some of the revealed tablets this has been mentioned. Note well: This is the revelation that appeared in order to prepare the people of the world. It arrived at a time when the world and its inhabitants had perished. That person came, who had remained alive, in order to bestow eternal life and to ensure that it persisted, and to favor others with the water of life.

What was revealed in the Bayan has been established. This is that prophesied beauty who, he said, "will come after me even though he is before me." He is the call that was raised between the earth and heaven, so that you might make straight and build up the stations of God, that is, the hearts. That was the same call that the son of Zechariah [John] raised before the Spirit [Jesus] came. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight." [Mt 3:3].

Baha'u'llah: Tablet of the Son


Date: Wed Aug 15, 2001 10:17 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] contradictions

George,

>Agreed, this is fine when relating to all previous manifestations with the
>exception of the Bab and Baha'u'llah. The space of time between their
>declarations was only 19 years from 1844 to 1863. Neither of these
>manifestations lived in different social contexts. Their former religion
>language and culture was common.

That's true, but the social aspects are only one factor, and not the most important one. The manifestations create reality. Baha'u'llah explains this in the Iqan. In a nutshell, they are like mirrors that reflect the light of God to creation. In doing so, they create our reality. But each manifestation does that reflecting in a different way. Baha'u'llah says that although each manifestation has the capacity to reflect all the names and attributes of God, each does so differently. That is the principal reason the revelations are different. And then those differences play out as even more differences in the social conditions of humanity. The fact of 19 years is irrelevant. God could reveal a new revelation every instant and it would always be different and perfect for its time.

>Again, this was fine in previous dispensations but Mirza Yahya Nuri Subh-I
>Azal (1830-1912) and his Babi followers were loyal to the Bab they were
>castigated as (Breakers of the Covenant of the Bab) by refusing to follow
>Bah'u'llah. Would you not agree that 19 years is a very short time for all
>these Bab'is who suffered tremendous persecution to read learn and study the
>Bayan which was probably not available to most of them in the first case.

Baha'u'llah argues that recognition of the manifestation is not dependent on human learning. It is about the spiritual condition of the soul; ie, sincerity of heart. Otherwise, as you say, God would be unjust.

>Many were probably semi-literate and taken by the Bab's oral message that
>there would be no last Judgement, no afterlife. Paradise would be found in
>this world . Instead of waiting for redemtion, the Bab had told the Shiis of
>Iran, they must work for a better society on earth and seek salvation in
>their own lives. This message is contradictory in doctrine to Islam,
>Christianity, Judaism and Baha'i Faith.

Although the contradictions are interesting and instructive in themselves, I think it is a futile exercise trying to resolve them. Baha'u'llah is the first to admit to their existence. Contradictions are a fact of creation and religion. The whole point of contradictions is to force us to finally fall on the sword of their meaninglessness and look beyond them to a world of oneness. They force us to detach from the world and seek a spiritual reality. But that can't be done with the intellect. It is a spiritual insight.

>Instead we Baha'is living in the "Informative Age" its more like a "Hidden
>Age". Are we any further on knowing anymore than those egalitarian Bab'is
>who lived and died for a just cause 150 years ago? Just like the Catholic
>Church of the 15th Century refusing to publish a copy of the Holy Bible
>because they said the people were too illiterate to understand, so the
>Baha'i institutions refuse to publish the *Bayan*. Its obvious the AO have
>something to hide even today. Are the *doctrinal* teachings of the Bab'i and
>Baha'i revelations so contradictory they do not want us to see them?

Yes, the contradictions are probably the reason the AO keeps the Babi stuff hidden. But, the contradictions were brought about by God. He deliberately makes things confusing to weed out the sincere. The AO might be trying to prevent that, but no good comes to those who play God.

Alison

--------------------------------------------------------------
Know this, O youth! His House resides in hearts
and was not raised upon mere stone and clay

Baha'u'llah: Mathnavi
--------------------------------------------------------------


Date: Fri Aug 17, 2001 8:12 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] contradictions (Revised)

>" I want
>to ask your honor that followings are from the Devine station or
>described as a human knowledge the messengers have at their time :-
>Such as "creation of universe", "creation of Adam from
>dust", "situation of Angles & Satan," "Life after death"," Theory of
>special creation of past religions"," values of skies", "rules of
>management & arrangements of universe"

Dear Munir,

I post below a passage from Baha'u'llah that answers your question. In it, he says that every Prophet has considered his revelation to be fundamentally the same as the others. However, each revelation is different from the others, in the same way that the moon, for example, shines afresh each night but takes on different forms. God wills that each Prophet have a different revelation, and this is because humanity changes.

To answer your question then: the teachings that you listed are the product of both the divine and the human station of the messenger. All revelation comes from the one Light of God, but God wills each messenger to reflect that light differently. Therefore all religious teachings come from God, but are different for each messenger.

Alison

------------

"In thine esteemed letter thou hadst inquired which of the Prophets of God should be regarded as superior to others. Know thou assuredly that the essence of all the Prophets of God is one and the same. Their unity is absolute. God, the Creator, saith: There is no distinction whatsoever among the Bearers of My Message. They all have but one purpose; their secret is the same secret. To prefer one in honor to another, to exalt certain ones above the rest, is in no wise to be permitted. Every true Prophet hath regarded His Message as fundamentally the same as the Revelation of every other Prophet gone before Him. If any man, therefore, should fail to comprehend this truth, and should consequently indulge in vain and unseemly language, no one whose sight is keen and whose understanding is enlightened would ever allow such idle talk to cause him to waver in his belief. The measure of the revelation of the Prophets of God in this world, however, must differ. Each and every one of them hath been the Bearer of a distinct Message, and hath been commissioned to reveal Himself through specific acts. It is for this reason that they appear to vary in their greatness. Their Revelation may be likened unto the light of the moon that sheddeth its radiance upon the earth. Though every time it appeareth, it revealeth a fresh measure of its brightness, yet its inherent splendor can never diminish, nor can its light suffer extinction.

It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world. Every Prophet Whom the Almighty and Peerless Creator hath purposed to send to the peoples of the earth hath been entrusted with a Message, and charged to act in a manner that would best meet the requirements of the age in which He appeared."(Baha'u'llah: Gleanings, Pages: 78-79)


Date: Fri Aug 17, 2001 9:43 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Lote tree

At 02:54 16/08/01 -0000, you wrote:
>In the Greater Plan you can go past the Tree of the Manifestation
>because it is the Spririt of the Age that presides.

Frank,

I disagree. I think the idea of the Sadrat'ul-Muntaha is that it is the place you can't go beyond and that place is the Manifestation. Therefore you can't go past the manifestation. The manifestation *is* the Spirit of the Age.

Baha'u'llah explains that the manifestation reflects the light of God to creation. The Manifestation receives his light direct from God and then we receive our light from the manifestation. In this process, the manifestation creates us. If it weren't for Baha'u'llah's divine light to us right now, we would not exist. So you see, you can't go past the manifestation. He is behind everything you or anyone will ever know or experience in all the worlds of God.

Alison


Date: Sat Aug 25, 2001 12:36 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Digest Number 699

Dear Warren,

>Knowing your status with the AO I am puzzeled as to why you were placed in
>the situation you are in.
>
>You seem to respond to questions the same way most Baha'is loyal to the AO
>respond.

I am a Baha'i, I believe in Baha'u'llah. I teach Baha'u'llah's teachings, as he asks all believers to do. I am simply not a member of the Baha'i community because the Baha'i administration has determined that I am not a believer. But what the AO thinks of me is of no consequence as far as I'm concerned. It has no direct knowledge of me or of God. It has its own agenda for asserting various falsehoods about me. People are able to determine for themselves what accords with reality. If you want to know more about me, you can visit my web site. It explains why I was expelled from the Baha'i community and it also contains my declaration of faith. The URL is below.

>I do understand what Munir is trying to get at.
>
>I can understand that social conditions change, though I do not believe human
>capacity for understanding is any different now than it was thousands of
>years ago.

I think human capacity does change.

(If anything we are less gullible and have even less capacity for
>spiritual teachings from anyone who claims to speak for God) The cosmology of
>the universe is still the same as it was and has been explained to us by
>former prophets and founders of past religions.
>
>If the creation, existence and future of the universe was explained to us
>before accurately, the underlying reality of that understanding does not
>change even if we evolve socially.

But the point I am making is that it makes no sense to speak of "accuracy" when it comes to theories about the origin of creation. You have to let go of any notion that what the prophets teach has any basis in direct knowledge of God. Certainly it is a reflection of God's attributes, but in the end what is said is determined by the conditions pertaining to humans.

Think about it: Baha'u'llah explains that there is *no* relationship between creation and God - none whatsoever. So how did a limited creation emerge from a transcendent Being, and at the same time end up with no relationship with that Being? It is a mystery that only God can comprehend. No theory can be said to be "accurate". The Prophets simply use the discourse current amongst the people to point to it.

>The roots of Christianity, Islam and Judaism may be found to be consistent
>with the teachings of Zoroaster relative to the creation, resurrection and
>the last judgment. Also the existence of angels (which may include Satan)
>
>The teachings of Baha'u'llah do not seem to follow this pattern.

What Baha'u'llah is saying is that he doesn't care how people think creation came into being. If one person thinks it came about because God sneezed, then fine, and if another thinks that creation is God's dream, then that's fine too. Abdu'l-Baha says in his commentary on the Hidden Treasure that the differences in human understandings are a product of the particular name of God that dominates them - they are inherent in the person's creation.

The important thing to realise is that all our understandings are a product of our own selves. They have nothing to do with God.

Alison


Date: Mon Aug 27, 2001 8:41 pm
Subject: Re: theories of creation

Dear Warren,

Yes, it is a matter of faith whether a person believes that Baha'u'llah is a manifestation of God. Baha'is can point to all sorts of evidence but evidence in itself is not sufficient. Baha'u'llah says that his greatest proof is his Person. After that, he says, comes his revelation and then what he wrote. For me, being a believer means having a personal relationship with the Person of Baha'u'llah. When I read what Baha'u'llah says, especially his poetry, it makes my heart do somersaults. I can relate to him as a person. I love the way he looks at things, his sense of humour, his passion, his love for me. The mystic Ibn al-`Arabi says the best that reason can tell us about God is that he is incomparable, transcendent and so forth. Totally beyond us. Therefore, if we rely on reason to teach us about God, we find ourselves cut off from him. That's why love is fundamentally important. Through love we feel that God is close and God feels like us. We can relate to the divine because of love. What you end up with is an important tension between the incomparable qualities of God and the ones that make the divine seem similar to us.

You mention looking beyond the manifestations to the Holy Spirit that unites us all. I agree. But I have to repeat my comment about the two stations of the manifestations. In their divine station, they all *are* the Holy Spirit that unites us. They are all one; there is no difference between them. In this station, Baha'u'llah says "I am Muhammad", "I am Christ" and so on. It is only if we look at the manifestations from the point of view of their human station - the man on the ground, so to speak - that the differences are manifest. Baha'u'llah likens them to the moon, which shines differently each day, but which nevertheless is always the same moon with the potential to shine full any time. People simply fail to grasp this. Over and over, they argue about the man on the ground, but fail to see the Spirit of his Holy Heart.

Alison


Date: Wed Aug 29, 2001 8:44 am
Subject: martyrdom

Here is a passage from "From Babism to Baha'ism: Problems of Militancy, Quietism, and Conflation in the Construction of a Religion" by Denis MacEoin. It shows how Baha'u'llah's attitudes towards matrydom changed over time. The whole article can be found at the bahai-library.org.

Alison

----------------

Husayn `Ali's insistence on quietism was underpinned by a renewed emphasis on the sacred qualities of martyrdom (shahada). For the Shi`a, shahada had long been elevated to the rank of a primary religious ideal, and the figure of the martyr loomed large in Shi`i hagiography as the supreme embodiment of faith. The early Babis, especially those at Shaykh Tabarsi, had

[Page 226]
drawn extensively on martyrdom motifs, identifying their sufferings with those of the Shi`i Imams and their companions. But the Babi leaders had not been committed to an exclusive policy of passive self-sacrifice: Bushru'i, for example, had expressed a readiness to spread the truth by means of debate, the sword, or martyrdom, and had promised his followers 'either victory or martyrdom'. Baha' Allah, on the other hand, extolled martyrdom as a positive alternative to militant action. In a passage quoted from an earlier work in his letter to Nasir al-Din Shah, he writes: 'Fasad has never been nor is it now loved by God; what was committed before this by a number of ignorant men (probably a reference to the attempt on the Shah's life in 1852) was never approved of. In this day, it is better for you if you are killed in His good-pleasure than that you should kill'. It is, he says, better to die a martyr than to expire of illness on one's bed, and, in numerous passages, he extols the sacrifices of those who have given their lives in the path of God. Several sections of his Arabic Kalimat maknuna, written in Baghdad about 1858, elaborate on this theme: 'O Son of Being! Seek a martyr's death in My path, content with My pleasure and thankful for that which I ordain, that thou mayest repose with Me beneath the canopy of majesty behind the tabernacle of glory; 'O Son of Man! By My beauty! To tinge thy hair with thy blood is greater in My sight than the creation of the universe and the light of both worlds. Strive then to attain this, O servant!'

As time passed, however, he became concerned to replace the extreme Shi`i obsession with shahada for its own sake with a more constructive attitude. Martyrdom, he says, 'is a great matter, but it is as precious as red sulphur (kibrit-i ahmar) and more rare: it has not been, nor is it, the lot of everyone'. Following the martyrdom of his emissary to Nasir al-Din Shah, Mirza Badi` Khurasani, in 1869, Husayn `Ali cautioned the use of wisdom (hikma) in the propagation of the Baha'i message. An element of reservation creeps into his writings on the subject: 'Although they (certain unnamed believers) have been martyred in the path of God, and although their martyrdom is acceptable, nevertheless, they exceeded the bounds of wisdom somewhat'. In Baha' Allah's writings, hikma seems to operate as a codeword for taqiyya, the concealment of faith in times of danger permitted by Shi`i law. He writes, for example, that 'it is not permitted for anyone to confess to this cause before the faces of the unbelievers and opponents. He must conceal the beauty of the cause, lest the eyes of the untrustworthy fall on him'. He commands his followers not to seek martyrdom, and in one place even writes that it has actually been forbidden to give up one's life in this way. Instead, he says, individuals are to dedicate their lives to faith in God and the task of spreading His word. 'Martyrdom,' he says, 'is not limited to self-sacrifice and the shedding of one's blood, for a man may be accounted in the book of the King of Names as a martyr, though he be still alive;' or, again, 'whoso dies believing

[Page 227]
confidently in God, his Lord, and knowing his own self, and turning towards Him, he has indeed died a martyr'. If a choice has to be made between dying as a martyr and mentioning the truth 'with wisdom and utterance', the second is to be preferred.


Date: Wed Aug 29, 2001 11:34 am
Subject: Person of Baha'u'llah

>Frank, Mark,
>Frank, that may really count for you, the Glory of God through the Maid
>of Heaven, but it does almost nothing for me. I'm a visual person.

Cal,

I was struck by your assertion that you are a visual person. If you are a visual person, then I wonder what is your image of Baha'u'llah? I am not asking you to tell me, I am just asking the question because I think it is an important one. Muhammad said: "Love God as if you saw him". When I talk about having a relationship with the person of Baha'u'llah, I'm not referring to the person who lived in the Muslim world, but the image of Baha'u'llah in me. True, that image is influenced by the historical person, but in the end I mean a spiritual image of Baha'u'llah in my soul. If you are a visual person, then you will know what I mean. I mean the inner image of him that you might, for example, draw on to write poetry about him.

Alison


Date: Thu Aug 30, 2001 9:47 am
Subject: Re: Suicide-Martyrdom

Dear Larry,

> It may be that our beliefs are most difficult things to surrender , to
>sacrifice . Even more difficult than the surrendering of our very lives .

I think you have captured the essence of the matter here. I think a martyr is a person who is killed as a result of holding to views that are hated by society. The key aspect is going through an inner process that enables you to hold to the conclusions of your conscience and not allowing yourself to be influenced by others. Baha'u'llah says we should be so firm in our convictions that we should hold to them even if no one else on the planet confirms them.

People tend to hold to views because the majority hold them and they are safe views to have. As you say, surrendering those views through listening to oneself and taking a moral stand is the hard part. That's how change happens, through people acting independently like that. I think that is God acting in the world. Baha'u'llah role-modelled that behaviour.

Alison


Date: Mon Sep 17, 2001 9:34 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Re: fundamentalism shows its evil face

The parallel for me between Baha'i and Muslim fundamentalism is in the ignorant demonising and fear that it generates in its adherents. The more time passes since my expulsion from the Baha'i community in March 2000, the more I am astounded by the fear ordinary Baha'is have of me and my ideas. It amazes me to think that there are Baha'i communities up and down the country over loading on covenant deepenings just because I have a bunch of ideas they are so convinced are evil. They've been told this by somebody else. Not *one* of them could come close to explaining what my views are, but by golly, they know they are bad. I am lost in amazement when I think about it. This isn't education, the light of reality, the widening of minds and ideas. This is narrow fanatacism. I hold in my mind the image of the 2000 or so Baha'is in New Zealand standing with their backs to me: "We're not looking at you, Alison, in case we are taken in by the devil!" It's the same willful blindness you see in the mobs demonstrating in Pakistan against America and in favour of Bin Ladin. It's not real understanding and reasoned weighing of the issues and evidence. It is self and passion, idle fancies and vain imaginings.

Alison


Date: Wed Sep 19, 2001 9:43 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Fight vs Evil

Dear Bill,

I'm not so sure that the two perspectives are mutually exclusive. I think that both, in their own way, try to get people to take responsibility within themselves for what happens in the world. I think that's the key thing, walking down that path, and not putting it all onto God or onto an evil other. Anything that makes people take responsibility and self-reflect is beneficial, in my view.

I think issues such as the problem of evil and free will do not have rational solutions. They are mysteries and it is futile to seek a once-and-for-all rational solution. They are at the heart of the unfathomable link between God and humanity, which lies beyond rationality. They necessarily involve a transcendent dimension. Therefore, the minute we claim to understand them or have arrived at a solution to them, we have not because such a claim immediately rules out the transcendent aspect of the issue. That process only produces dogma, claims to Truth. Any "solution" must therefore lie in the interplay between God and humanity, which always allows for the transcendent dimension. "Solutions" are therefore a mystical thing, hidden in the meaning we make of our experience and what we learn about our relationship with God from it. Of course, rational discussion is useful, but in the end a person finds resolution by transcending the difficulties as they crop up and refusing to cling to a dogmatic answer.

Alison


Date: Mon Oct 8, 2001 8:41 pm
Subject: manifestations in the universe

Dear all,

Last week, a new TV programme appeared here and it is called "Universe". I love it. The first episode was all about the big bang, the fact that the universe is expanding (in fact, at ever increasing speeds, something like a million miles per second), and whether the universe will expand so much that it will, ultimately, sort of fly apart. Computer graphics took us on a journey out to the edge of the known universe, past the many, many galaxies right out to the edge, where we were able to see all the galaxies in the known universe swirling around, kind of like in a messy DNA pattern showing through a cloud of star dust. I was blown away. The programme speculated that when our known universe does, as predicted, fly apart and get so cold from its expansion that it dies, humans may be able then to travel through a worm hole to get to another universe. Is there another physical universe in this created world that we could travel to, I wonder?

Other amazing things about the programme were the computer graphics of the big bang, when *everything* in the universe explodes out of something smaller than an atom! There was this massive fire ball flying out on the screen. Everything in the universe was created at that moment, it said, in just a split second. And it said that in the first few seconds, there was an equal amount of matter and anti-matter, which began cancelling each other out. But matter won because there was a slight imperfection! I couldn't believe it; was I listening to science or Ibn al-`Arabi? I can't believe that anyone would argue that the big bang theory is non-religious. To me, it is so much more a proof of the existence of God than the Adam and Eve story. But, perhaps that is my cultural bias.

The big bang makes me think about the issue of the beginning of creation. Baha'u'llah says that creation has no beginning; so there was creation before the big bang. The programme said that the big bang was when time and space began. That made me think: the time before the big bang could be thought of as pre-eternity. Pre-eternity is the time that Baha'u'llah asks us to remember in the Hidden Words. He says that if we sit and remember, our souls will recall a time in pre-eternity when we sat beneath the tree and he gave us three precious pieces of advice. That is the time when the covenant was made. Just as the matter that makes us up was created in the big bang, so also the memory of God placed deep within our souls lives on in us from pre-eternity. Our goal is to wake up and return to it.

Another issue I often think about is that of other manifestations of God in our known universe. We think that there are other life forms in the universe. Do they have manifestations too? Baha'u'llah says that manifestations appear in each world according to the form of its creatures. Does that mean the manifestation appears on other planets in the forms of the creatures on them? Or is it that Baha'u'llah, who is often referred to as a "universal manifestation", THE manifestation for the whole of our known universe, or for the whole of our physical world? Perhaps we are the only planet in our world that gets to host a manifestation.

"In every world, He appears according to the capacity of that world. For example, in the world of spirits He manifests Himself to them and appears unto them with the signs of the Spirit. So, likewise, in bodies in the world of names and attributes; and in the worlds which are not know to any save God. All of these worlds have their position from this Manifestation. He appears unto them in His form, so that He, their Lord, may direct them, and draw them nearer to the seat of His command, and cause them to attain to that which was ordained for them." (Baha'u'llah: Tablet of the Manifestation)

I saw a movie a few months back where humanity was faced with the prospect of communicating with creatures from other planets. One issue that came up was: what would we say to them? My immediate thought was to ask them who their manifestation was. But, like humanity, maybe they don't recognise the latest form of the manifestation in their midst. So maybe it's not the best question.

Alison


Date: Tue Oct 9, 2001 12:25 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Redefining other faiths

>That might be good Hinduism, but it "merging" is with "whatever" is not
>what the Buddhist enterprise is about. Buddhists posit an "ontology" of
>becoming where knowledge is the fundamental goal as opposed to an ontology
>of being where one being's relationship with another bigger being is the goal.

But is knowledge other than relationship? What, for example, is the difference between knowledge and love? Ibn al-`Arabi argues that all qualities or virtues (ie, all names of God, in Baha'i terminology), such as knowledge, are "relationships". If you know something, then you have knowledge of some *thing*, with which you have a relationship. It is impossible to have a quality that is not in relationship.

What you argue is a privileging of knowledge above other qualities, such as beauty or love. But the point is, rather, that they are all one. If you have knowledge of something, then you have a relationship with it that takes in every other quality.

Anyway, in Baha'i theology, ontology is the same as epistemology. Knowledge *is* being is reality. This fits with the fact that all qualities are one. The reason Baha'u'llah says that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues is because the virtues are what is; they are also knowledge. You cannot separate the two.

Alison


Date: Thu Oct 11, 2001 9:13 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Redefining other faiths

At 21:00 9/10/01 -0500, you wrote:
>The problem here is that your "knowledge" is your are putting yourself in
>relationship with another supposed being -- a self existent thingie. For
>the Buddhist from the Buddha onwards, knowledge is of the process of
>becoming itself as it manifests as it only can in the rise and fall of the
>mind-body process behind and beyond which there is no being, no thing.

Then, logically, there is no knowledge, unless it is of the self perhaps. Even to argue that you have knowledge of "no thing", then that is knowledge of something. It is a connection of some kind. You refer to "becoming" as an "it"; you say that it manifests itself. Something is always manifest, otherwise all there is is non-existence. You seem to be saying that 'no being' and 'no thing' are non-existence. But I don't think you want to say that.

I maintain that it is impossible to be in a position that is without relationship. As long as you "are" then you have a relationship with everything else that is. I'd say the process of enlightenment (or knowledge) is learning that fact. Atomism, or thinking that you are separate from what is, is the illusion. It's when we deny relationship that we do damage.

Alison


Date: Thu Oct 11, 2001 9:13 am
Subject: virtues

>What exactly do you mean by the terms used in this theme-virtue?
>courage, honesty, zeal, enthusiasm, integrity.....? Do you have an
>insight into them in relation to the reality of love? What do you
>understand by the relation between love and knowledge? What do you
>understand by love? What do you mean by knowledge-spiritual insight,
>esoteric wisdom, intellectual understanding?

Alexander,

By the word "virtue", I was meaning the names and attributes of God - you know, the Merciful, the Loving, the Compassionate, the Forbearing and so on. I am arguing that they are all one, which is what Baha'u'llah says. He says that God is one in his attributes.

When we think of God, we have to think of him in two ways at the same time. In the first, God is wholly transcendent. As you say, God has no relationship whatsoever with creation. However, this cannot be the whole story, otherwise there would be no creation. God would be alone and that would be that. Therefore, we have to think of God in a second way as well, and that is the God who has a relationship with creation. From this second perspective, we refer to God by his names and attributes. For example, we say that God is the Creator. Immediately we use the word "Creator", we presuppose a creation. This is the case with all the names and attributes, they presuppose a relationship. Therefore, from the second perspective, God is in relationship with creation.

The attributes are one because they all describe the one God. They are God's many faces or qualities. The one God becomes many attributes in creation, even though they are all reflections of the one God. For example, you write an e-mail message. You use many words, but they have all come from you, your mind and heart. In that sense, you have many words, but one author. All the words you use tell us something about you.

In Baha'i theology, the manifestation of God is the embodiment of all the names and attributes of God. In effect, he is "God" in creation; the embodiment of the second perspective of God.

>In other traditions, human chakras relate to characteristics one
>could call virtues. Has the Bahai Faith the idea that the body of man
>is microcosm within macrocosm, that each organ is related to a planet
>for example, and each chakra is connected to a multidimensional
>matrix of energies where energy and divinity are indistinguishable,
>and emanating from the ethers. Do you have the notion of etheric and
>astral bodies and other subtle bodies of man in relation to the so
>called virtues or aspects of the divine?

No. I don't know anything about those other traditions and so couldn't comment.

>Forgive me, but when you talk about a subject using words, when
>experience is really the only guide, it is difficult. However there
>is a point which stands out: the Bahai Faith holds man is separate
>from God, that there is no contact between man and God except through
>his manifestations, that it is anathema to so called join
>partnerships with God which is what Buddhism could be said to do in a
>way-being in relation to a larger being. Man in the Bahai Faith is
>the humble servant. Let me ascertain whether this is correct. The
>door to the ancient of days hath ever been closed in the face of men
>except during times of Manifestations etc. When a Bahai prays does he
>not pray to an outside reality?

When a person prays, they pray to the image of God that is created in their imagination. Because God is wholly transcendent, and the reality of the manifestation is beyond our understanding as well, it is impossible for any person to accurately conceive of God. All our understandings, all our images, fall infinitely short of the mark.

Baha'u'llah explains that each person's image and understanding of God is always a product of their own self. No matter how far a person flies into the realms of spiritual insight, their image and knowledge of God is always determined by the qualities of their own soul. No person ever gets beyond the self and reaches out to The Truth. This is why no person has the right to impose their views of God on another, because no one can claim to have access to The Truth.

>Man is created in the image and likeness of God, not so? In the
>beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was
>God. God is light. This we can accept where light and love merge. Man
>is a being of light then and light and love come close to being the
>same thing. What I have a problem with is the fact that orthodox
>religions demand that man love his neighbour before himself. It is a
>fact-examine it-we cannot love others or God until and unless we love
>ourselves-as higher self, created in the likeness of God, including
>the possibility of being creative like God, first. Unless a person
>has recognised his divine or higher self, he has not understood. Then
>he understands this higher self as consciousness. So your knowledge
>translates as consciousness in my experience. The more conscious, the
>closer to universal consciousness or mind which is also God which is
>also love and light. How do experience virtue in relation to
>consciousness. I am not a Bahai and I would appreciate your
>experiences.

Yes, I agree that one must know oneself above all else. And I think that knowing oneself is loving one's neighbour. The fact that we are made in the image of God means that we can reflect the names and attributes of God. This is the divine self that you refer to. But it is hidden in us like the flame in the candle. We have to act to light the candle and make those attributes shine out. This is the process of knowing oneself. We have to be lit up before we can love another.

I'm not sure that I have addressed all your points. It's a little difficult for me to cover so much ground all in one message.

Alison


Date: Fri Oct 12, 2001 10:05 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] virtues

> You wrote :Baha'u'llah explains that each person's image and understanding
>of God is always a product of their own self .
> Would this apply to the Manifestations as well ?

Larry,

Well, here goes on this one... I think the answer is yes and no. (you can't fail with a yes and no answer in mysticism) :-)

We know that the essence of God is unknowable, transcendent and so on and beyond the knowledge of the manifestation. So in that sense, the manifestation's image can't be of the essence of God.

We know that the manifestation manifests the names and attributes of God, and in doing so, is to all intents and purposes "God" in creation. The manifestation is the "self" of God. So, in that second sense, the manifestation's image of God is a product of his self, but that self is God.

Alison


Date: Fri Oct 12, 2001 10:05 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Question

>A question for the list: Will the recent terrorist attacks in the US and the
>resultant "war on terrorism" help or hinder Baha'i proselytization efforts in
>the west?

I think that it is potentially a help for teaching the Faith. To state the obvious, a great deal needs to be done to bring people together; for example, in helping the West understand Islam and issues like the extremes of wealth and poverty and how these contribute to world-wide resentment; the nature of real consultation and collective security; the development of democracy world-wide.

But, the Baha'i community as it is now has nothing to offer humanity in this crisis. The community suffers from the same problems as the parties responsible for the current world-wide crisis. The House of Justice is fundamentalist, rich, authoritarian, believes consultation is telling others what to do, and refuses to examine itself in the face of rational and legitimate criticism.

When or if the Baha'is break free of their moribound state, maybe then Baha'u'llah's message will have a chance to free the souls of humanity. My feeling is that this is the crucial need now - to free the Faith from the administration that is crushing its spirit.

Alison


Date: Mon Oct 15, 2001 9:40 pm
Subject: definition of fundamentalism

Apologies to those who have already seen this.

I post below a classic message on fundamentalism that bears reposting every now and then and is on the current discussion. It gives a definition of fundamentalism and briefly uses this definition to examine Baha'u'llah's teachings and those of the current House of Justice.

Alison

-----------

From: Juan Cole
Subject: definition of fundamentalism
Date: Mon, Apr 10, 2000, 3:48 AM
To: H-BAHAI@H...

XX asked for a definition of fundamentalism. There is a massive 5-volume publication by Martin Marty and Scott Appleby from the University of Chicago Press that examines fundamentalisms across the world religions, and the final volume contains several attempts at a definition.

They suggest that fundamentalism in all the major religions has 9 major features (I am doing this from memory and may have the numbering wrong, but the elements are right):

1) It mounts a protest against the marginalization of religion in secularizing societies

2) It selectively reshapes the religious tradition (i.e. it may represent itself as a restatement of the essence of the religion, but in fact it picks and chooses from the tradition) and it accepts some aspects of modernity while rejecting others

3) It sees the moral world as divided sharply into good and evil

4) it emphasizes the absolutism and inerrancy of its scriptures (and thus rejects academic scholarship on that corpus)

5) It has a millennialist emphasis

6) it has an elect, chosen membership

7) it draws sharp boundaries between the saved and the sinful

8) it maintains an authoritarian, charismatic leadership structure

9) it has strict behavioral requirements for its people.

I have argued strongly, if implicitly, in *Modernity and the Millennium*, that Baha'u'llah was not a fundamentalist. Of course, any religious movement has some of these characteristics (which church *wants* to see itself undermined by secularization?) But the balance in Baha'u'llah's own writings tells against the majority of these themes.

1) Baha'u'llah reversed the old Shi`ite insistence that civil government is illegitimate in the absence of the Imam, and rather said that if civil rulers are just, then they are of God. His renunciation of theocracy is not 'secularizing,' but it does not fit the usual fundamentalist vision of rule by the church.

2) Baha'u'llah simply *abolished* the more conservative aspects of Shi`ism and Babism (e.g. jihad, preference for schooling of boys, etc.), which is not a 'fundamentalist' move at all. Fundamentalists, rather, insist on full implementation of the tradition, even while they are actually selective about what the tradition consists of.

3) Baha'u'llah was entirely capable of seeing moral shades of grey. He spoke well of some of his enemies (such as Iranian ambassador to Istanbul Mirza Husayn Khan Sipahsalar). He said he understood Nasir al-Din Shah's bitterness against the Babis in light of the assassination attempt. He actually advised against fatiguing oneself with too much scripture study!

4) Baha'u'llah's abrogation of most of the Bayan and his editing of the small part he kept in place is itself an argument against seeing him as a scriptural inerrantist. He also changed his own rulings over time (he forbade interest on loans in the Tablet to the Kings; in the later Firdawsiyyih he allowed it). He left many things to the Reason of the believers, including choosing a universal language or making laws beyond his own.

5) Baha'u'llah forbade the Babis from continuing with millenarian speculation, declaring that there would be no further Manifestation for a full thousand years.

6) Baha'u'llah envisioned the believers freely choosing their leaders, who would be bound by the rule of law and by the need for democratic consultation (shawr, shura, mashvirat); he never called any of these leaders or institutions 'infallible'.

7) Baha'u'llah was quite forgiving of peccadilloes.

8) The leadership structures he put in place were based on consultation, not authoritarianism

9) Baha'u'llah set ethical standards for his community, but in many instances he specified no punishment for departing from them (thus, there is no punishment mentioned in the Aqdas for sodomy). If anything he was overly accepting of people who transgressed his high ethical standards. Muhammad `Ali Salmani helped murder the Azali Sayyid Muhammad Isfahani in Akka, and Baha'u'llah cut him and the seven or so other assassins off for a decade or so, but after that they appear to have been accepted back into Akka society. If murder does not create a permanent pariah, few things would.

On the other hand, the contemporary Baha'i faith has become a field of contention between more liberal and more fundamentalist visions of the religion, and the fundamentalist Baha'is fit with the Marty/Appleby definition perfectly.

1) Fundamentalist Baha'is are theocrats who wish to see Baha'i institutions supplant secular governments, and who wish to see secular academic scholarship abolished as 'materialist.'

2) Baha'i fundamentalists have selectively shaped Baha'i tradition. They create non-persons in Baha'i history. They suppress major texts (e.g. `Abdu'l-Baha's anti-theocratic Treatise on Leadership). They assiduously ignore most of *Promulgation of Universal Peace* in favor of a literalist reading of `Abdu'l-Baha's *Will and Testament*. Etc., etc.

3) Fundamentalist Baha'is see the world as divided into those who abide by the Covenant and those who are breaking the Covenant (by not accepting it, or by saying they accept it but then being disobedient to Baha'i institutions).

4) Fundamentalist Baha'is are scriptural inerrantists. They reject academic scholarship on the Baha'i scriptures, which they see as completely devoid of development or contradiction, as completely of a piece.

5) Fundamentalist Baha'is believe in a jumble of millennialist events, including an imminent Calamity, the advent of the Lesser Peace, etc.

6) They consider their NSAs and the Universal House of Justice to be an elect leadership.

7) They draw sharp boundaries between those Baha'is who are 'firm' in the 'Covenant,' and follow a puritan lifestyle, and those who are not; they see mainstream Western societies as dens of unalloyed iniquity.

8) They consider the Universal House of Justice to be infallible in the sense of inerrant in all its doings, and National Spiritual Assemblies as "divinely guided" under the right "circumstances."

9) As we saw last week with Alison Marshall's expulsion, fundamentalist Baha'is have strict behavioral requirements for members.

The main positions of Baha'i fundamentalists are not very different from those of fundamentalists in other traditions (in fact sometimes Baha'i fundamentalists are recruited from fundamentalists in other traditions, and then impose their fundamentalist mindset on the Baha'i faith).

I would welcome a thorough discussion of this matter, since it seems to me that I simply have to write this up as a journal article sometime soon.

cheers Juan Cole


Date: Tue Oct 16, 2001 8:18 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Infallibility

Dear Karen,

The passage you quoted gives the standard Baha'i theology on the issue of infallibility. You will find Baha'u'llah's explanation of infallibility in Tablets of Baha'u'llah p 108.

In a nutshell, there are two levels of infallibility: one applies to the manifestation alone; and one applies to the rest of us - that is, humans who are not manifestations. The one that applies to the manifestation is called "The Most Great Infallibility", "Essential infallibility", "Supreme infallibility" and the like. The infallibility that applies to the rest of humanity is called "conferred infallibility", "acquired infallibility" and the like.

The Most Great Infallibility applies to the manifestation alone because it is intrinsic to his manifestation-ness. To say that he is the Most Great Infallibility is another way of saying that he is a manifestation. The manifestation is the only human that has direct knowledge of God. The rest of us get our knowledge of God from the manifestation - who, for us is effectively "God". This direct knowledge of God gives the manifestation his Most Great Infallibility. It means he knows God perfectly. The manifestation, by definition, reflects all the names and attributes of God perfectly. The manifestation has knowledge of reality and the essence of things, and using this knowledge, he ministers to the needs of humanity. This means that he does whatsoever he wills and will always be right about it. Because with his direct knowledge of God, he has his finger on the pulse and will prescribe and say whatever he thinks fit. This is his Most Great Infallibility.

Infallibility is an attribute of God, just like loving-kindness and mercy. And just as love and mercy are reflected to humans from the manifestation, so too is the attribute of infallibility. So, for example, just as we are all capable of being kind and loving according to our capacity, we are all capable of being infallible too. This is conferred infallibility or acquired infallibility. All humans share in this attribute, which is reflected to the world of humanity by the manifestation.

The important thing to note about conferred or acquired infallibility is that it does *not* give any human the right to say of himself: I doeth whatsoever I willeth. For example, it does not give this right to the House of Justice. All humans are subject to the laws and principles set down by the manifestation. The manifestation reflects reality to us, from which we draw our existence. We are limited to his boundaries. No human has direct knowledge of God; the knowledge of each human is limited to his or her own self. A person can never transcend his own self and claim independent knowledge of God.

The limitless infallibility that the House of Justice currently makes claim to equates with a claim that they doeth whatsoever they willeth - that they are the embodiments of the knowledge and justice of God. This is effectively a claim to manifestationhood and is a violation of the covenant.

Alison


Date: Sat Oct 27, 2001 8:47 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] End Game?

Thanks to Dermod for asking some important questions. It gives me an opportunity to explain how I see things, which is quite different. I guess for me I reject the whole notion of a "game". I know that on a worldly level there is one going on. But my understanding of Baha'u'llah's instructions to me is to detach from it; that is, not to participate in it on its worldly terms. That doesn't mean that what I do will not influence it, but that is not my main motive for acting in the world. I am not interested in Baha'i politics; my interest is in spirituality and the Baha'i revelation.

As I understand Baha'u'llah, he says the purpose of my life is to know and worship him. The Houri instructs Baha'u'llah in the Surah of the Body to forget the world and to spend his life worshipping God so that when he died, he could leave the fruits of his worship at the door as he left. I understand this to be my instructions too. I am here to worship God and to leave the fruits of my spirituality at the door as I leave. So all that I do is an expression of my devotional life. If the results of what I produce from that spiritual process are useful to humanity, then that is Baha'u'llah's grace to me. He has given permission for that.

This may all seem like a big unrealistic cop out, but, again, my understanding of Baha'u'llah is this: that if one wants to have a leavening effect on the world, then detaching from the game and expressing one's spirituality is the only way to do it. Fighting the game on its own terms may seem to have an impact, but to my mind if it has any impact at all it is only in the short term and only illusory. This is based on theology: the only thing in the world that is real is God's perfections. If we want to have a lasting and real impact on the world, then what we produce must be an expression of the perfections.

The short obligatory prayer tells us that we must daily testify to our own powerlessness and to God's power. It is folly to think that we can have any influence on the world without God's permission. And the way to attract his permission is to detach from the game and focus on what we are asked to do: acquire the perfections.

Alison


Date: Sun Nov 11, 2001 8:41 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Mashriq quote

> If thou cleanseth thy soul from this world and from those in whom thou
> perceivest the odor of
> unbelief, thou wilt find that thou hast attained that station whereunto the
> hearts of the Near Ones shall never soar. > Baha'u'llah

Yes, you're right, the passage is meaningless if it is taken literally.

I think of it in terms of Baha'u'llah's concept of "the world". As I understand him, he exhorts us to live a spiritual life - as he puts it in the Hidden Words:

"The first call of the Beloved is this: O mystic nightingale! Abide not but in the rose garden of the spirit."

And as I understand it, "the world" is anything that takes a person away from the spiritual place inside them. So the idea is to avoid things that crash you out of your spiritual focus. For me, it is particularly important to keep away from people for whom it is normal to seek an advantage over others. Baha'u'llah says we mustn't do this. I know that's the ethic many people live by, but for me it just makes my heart recoil.

> And there again, the one
>doing the perceiving would have to have a negative and unholy
>attitude toward other human beings. How is it possible to LOVE and
>act like this, with such prejudice and judgement.

I try to stay in my spiritual focus because it is only from that place that I can love. It is not so much a question of me judging others - they do what they like - but a question of me protecting a very sensitive soul.

Alison


Date: Sun Nov 11, 2001 8:41 am
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Just God

Bill G said:
"The problem I see, Alison, with the idea that in a theistic system souls can essentially damage each other is that God's justice is undermined by the fact that God has created a system whereby the *innocent* can be irrevocably harmed."

I don't know, this is all in the realm of guesswork, but I don't think such damage is irrevocable. If you used the word "essentially" damaged earlier, then I missed it. I think souls can damage each other, but not essentially. I mean, 'essential' anything doesn't belong to humans.

When I talk about a just God, I don't mean to imply that perfect justice is realised in the physical world. Justice is an attribute of the manifestation's divine reality, it is a transcendent thing. Like beauty, I would also maintain that God is beautiful. But you look everywhere and won't find absolute beauty, it is a reflection in things. All the beauty in the world is a sign of the reality of God's beauty.

Alison


Date: Thu Dec 20, 2001 11:15 pm
Subject: Re: [talisman9] Re: Religiosity

John Morley asks:
>I think that you probably speak for many of us on Talisman, including
>those of us who no longer carry membership cards. But this begs the
>question: what does being a Baha'i mean?

Baha'u'llah defines it in his Kitab-i-'Ahd (Book of the Covenant):

"Every receptive soul who hath in this Day inhaled the fragrance of His garment and hath, with a pure heart, set his face towards the all-glorious Horizon is reckoned among the people of Baha' in the Crimson Book. Grasp ye, in My Name, the chalice of My loving-kindness, drink then your fill in My glorious and wondrous remembrance." (Tablets p220)

It's interesting that the community spends so much time focused on Abu'l-Baha's will and testament - every word of it is studied. And yet, here we have Baha'u'llah's and in it he defines Baha'i, but does the community study this? Instead, this definition is considered subordinate to that of the Guardian's!

The House of Justice in its letter to my NSA about why it expelled me says:

"It follows that determination by the Institutions of the Faith about a person's qualifications for membership cannot be made solely on the basis of the individual's statement of belief in Baha'u'llah."

I argue that this statement contradicts the above definition of a Baha'i given by Baha'u'llah in his will and testament. If a person has inhaled the fragrance of Baha'u'llah's garment and turned his or her head towards the all-glorious horizon, then that person believes in Baha'u'llah. If a person states with all the sincerity she can muster in her heart that she lives and breathes and remembers and thinks about and loves and cries for and cherishes and prays to and trusts Baha'u'llah every second of every day, then that person is a Baha'i.

Alison


Date: Fri Dec 28, 2001 5:33 am
Subject: Reality

>It seems to me that reality is independent of belief. Also that reality
>is, and has been, best discovered by the sciences, stripped of all
>theistic pretense. When Baha'u'llah says that science and religion must
>be in accord, I believe he is yielding to science the nature of reality.

Claude,

Baha'u'llah claims to *be* Reality. When he claims to be a manifestation of God, what he is saying is that he is the Source of Reality. He says things like this in his Tablet of the Ultimately Real: "[1] O concourse of the Truly Real (mala ' al-haqq)! [2] The Truly Real One (al-haqq) hath in very Truth been made manifest from the horizon of Ultimately Real (`an ufq al-haqq fi'l-haqq) for he hath dawned forth from the Dawning-Place of the Ultimately Real (mala` al-haqq)." This claim to be the Source of Reality underlies all his writings. Because God cannot have any relationship with creation due to the fact that he is wholly transcendent, God creates a being that we call a "manifestation". God manifests in this being his Reality (all God's names and attributes) and so the manifestation becomes the Source of Reality for creation.

When science studies the reality of the physical world, it is studying Baha'u'llah. All science and investigation and scholarship is the study of Baha'u'llah. Actually, that's the reason why the Baha'is don't have to control any scholarship whatsoever, because whatever anyone studies is a reflection of Baha'u'llah. Baha'u'llah is not limited to Baha'i community and study of the writings. It is impossible to get outside of Baha'u'llah's reality. We are all at play in the reality of Baha'u'llah no matter what world or what time we exist in. The mystics say that everything is the "Face of God", and Baha'u'llah uses the Face of God idea in places too.

As to your comments about "If you are not God, you are guessing", you are spot on there. The 'I'm right, you're wrong because I know Truth' scenario is evil. None of us are God and therefore we all exist within a limited reality determined by our souls. I understand Ulla's comment to be saying exactly that.

Alison