Post Reply
Switch to Forum Live View Two Categories of Faith
3 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2012 - 5:50AM #1
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

The way I see it, the world currently offers roughly two mutually contradictory modes of belief in the Divine. Within those two modes there are countless of mutually contradictory theologies and religious observances. The two modes of faith are as follows:


(1) Faith focused on direct divine revelation to oneself. A direct personal enlightenment resulting from purity of heart, disciplined meditation and virtuous life. The emphasis is on self-reliance, effort to become a better person, independent use of our intelligence, covert or overt assertion of one's own Divinity and non-communal religious practice. (This type of faith is more prominent in Far-Eastern "dharmic" religious traditions as well as monastic traditions the world over)


(2) Faith focused on an indirect divine revelation through an earthly mouthpiece of the Divine (Prophet, Messenger or a God-Incarnate). The emphasis is on other-reliance, obedience, downplaying of human reason, humble assertion of one's imperfection and emphasis on communal worship and fellowship. (This type of faith is more prominent in Middle Eastern "Abrahamic" religious traditions)


A category 1 faithful may also hold the words of selected prophets in high regard, but he/she will never commit himself/herself to a particular Book. A category 2 faithful may also believe in direct personal revelation, but he/she will always regard it secondary to a Book. In the event of a discrepancy, the Book prevails.


The downside of category 1 faith is an underlying confusion and uncertainty about the true will of God for oneself. One can never be quite sure whether the Inner Voice is one’s own whim, imagination, wishful thinking, selfish desire or the Divine speaking. The Inner Voice may tell you rather confusing and silly things on different occasions. Such faith also misses out on the benefits of belonging to a genuine fellowship of like-minded faithfuls.


The downside of category 2 faith is the considerable under-use of human reason and intuition as the greatest gifts of the Divine. It is also more conformist and doesn’t give much room for personal, individual and eccentric expression of one’s faith. Community-life may involve abuses of religious authority, gossip, competition and moral judgement. The Book itself may tell you rather confusing and silly things and to follow it without question seems unreasonable.


Personally I have recently become ever more confident that the Bahá'í Faith is presently the only religion which combines the best of both worlds and avoids, to a comparatively significant extent, the worst features in both. The Book is the authority. Unquestionably. But the Book shouldn't even be accepted in the first place if you find it counter to reason (reason) and if it doesn't speak to your heart (intuition). The Book itself encourages the maximum use of human reason and insists that religious truth, in its purest form, never runs counter to reason. If it does, it is not of God. The Book itself sees both independent effort and the humble acceptance of one's limitations as key to enlightenment and spiritual progress. The Book itself recognizes the validity of unity in diversity in religious expression, and the significance of personal spiritual inspiration arising out of pure-hearted meditation and the disciplining of one's carnal desires. But it is also well-grounded in solid principles and cautions against superstition, fanaticism and the over-emphasis on one's inner voices and whisperings. The Book ultimately prevails.

"They should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal."

(Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, CLX, p. 336)


"The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice. By its aid thou shalt see with thy own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor."

(The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, Part I Arabic, vse 2)

What are your thoughts? Is one of the two categories of faith more valid than the other, are they equally valid or do both contain some validity as well as error? Or is my reasoning all messed up anyways?

Kind regards,

LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2012 - 2:53PM #2
mytmouse57
Posts: 9,782

I think this is a good, an accurate summary of that many people frame as the "religion vs. spirituality" quandary.


I think it's quite like the "religion vs. science" quandary, insofar as it's essentially a false delimma couched in the presumtion that the things in question are mutally exclusive, or at odds.


When, in fact, they are complimentary and actually, dependant upon one another.


As I put it, religion without the spark of spirituality can lead to blind faith and empty dogma.


Spirituality without the disipline and focus of religion can lead to pointless self-absorbtion.


And I agree, just as the Baha'i Faith reconciles "religion and science," it also reconciles "religion and spirituality."

Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Feb 23, 2012 - 2:41AM #3
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

Feb 15, 2012 -- 2:53PM, mytmouse57 wrote:


As I put it, religion without the spark of spirituality can lead to blind faith and empty dogma.


Spirituality without the discipline and focus of religion can lead to pointless self-absorbtion.



Well put. Bahá'u'lláh made numerous rather strongly-worded comments about both types.


Outward observance of religious commandment (in this case "humility" and "preference of others before oneself") without an ounce of spirituality:


Amongst the people is he who seateth himself amid the sandals by the door whilst coveting in his heart the seat of honour. Say: What manner of man art thou, O vain and heedless one, who wouldst appear as other than thou art? (The Kitáb-i-Aqdás, par. 36)


Pointless "spiritual" self-absorption by self-styled spiritual masters:


And among the people is he who layeth claim to inner knowledge, and still deeper knowledge concealed within this knowledge. Say: Thou speakest false! By God! What thou dost possess is naught but husks which We have left to thee as bones are left to dogs. (The Kitáb-i-Aqdás, par. 36)


Bahá'u'lláh goes on in the same verse  (one of my all-time fave "power" verses of Bahá'u'lláh):


By the righteousness of the one true God!


Were anyone to wash the feet of all mankind, and were he to worship God in the forests, valleys, and mountains, upon high hills and lofty peaks, to leave no rock or tree, no clod of earth, but was a witness to his worship—yet, should the fragrance of My good pleasure not be inhaled from him, his works would never be acceptable unto God. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Lord of all.


How many a man hath secluded himself in the climes of India, denied himself the things that God hath decreed as lawful, imposed upon himself austerities and mortifications, and hath not been remembered by God, the Revealer of Verses.


Make not your deeds as snares wherewith to entrap the object of your aspiration, and deprive not yourselves of this Ultimate Objective for which have ever yearned all such as have drawn nigh unto God.


Say: The very life of all deeds is My good pleasure, and all things depend upon Mine acceptance. Read ye the Tablets that ye may know what hath been purposed in the Books of God, the All-Glorious, the Ever-Bounteous. He who attaineth to My love hath title to a throne of gold, to sit thereon in honour over all the world; he who is deprived thereof, though he sit upon the dust, that dust would seek refuge with God, the Lord of all Religions. (The Kitáb-i-Aqdás, par. 36)


Kind regards,


LilWabbit


 

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Feb 23, 2012 - 12:05PM #4
Kalzera
Posts: 260

If by "faith in the Divine" you exclusively mean those religions that have a concept of "revelation" from a "God," I think Emerson's view might be a third option.


It wasn't a direct, individual revelation, but an indirect "gleaning" of God's will through experience and nature.


And it might seem a bit arcane, but in practice, I think many people disengranchised with organized religion favor a "God's will can't be known, but we can try to find it out" approach. 

However men try to reach me, I return their love with my love; whatever path they may travel, it leads to me in the end - Bhagavad Gita 4:11

"Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth" - The Four Valleys; Hadith
Quick Reply
Cancel
3 years ago  ::  Feb 23, 2012 - 12:50PM #5
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

Feb 23, 2012 -- 12:05PM, Kalzera wrote:


If by "faith in the Divine" you exclusively mean those religions that have a concept of "revelation" from a "God," I think Emerson's view might be a third option.


It wasn't a direct, individual revelation, but an indirect "gleaning" of God's will through experience and nature.


And it might seem a bit arcane, but in practice, I think many people disengranchised with organized religion favor a "God's will can't be known, but we can try to find it out" approach. 




I would classify the Emersonian belief mode under the first mode of faith in the OP. Emerson was a monist/nondualist (enamoured by Hinduism in fact) and for him nature was not only an expression of God's Will but effectively God (a manifestation of Him). In monistic Hindu theology all separation and plurality is an illusion and the enlightened man (who has attained moksha) realizes that all that exists is in fact God and perfect Oneness.

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
Quick Reply
Cancel
 
    Viewing this thread :: 0 registered and 1 guest
    No registered users viewing
    Advertisement

    Beliefnet On Facebook