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Switch to Forum Live View Ecumenical Councils in the Church and the Baha'i Faith
2 years ago  ::  Jun 15, 2012 - 6:45PM #1
truthseeker630
Posts: 67
Allah'u'abha everyone,

Long time no chat -- how has everyone been doing?  I met a sweet young woman around my age the other day who asked me if I was still a Baha'i,  I told her no and it was solely due to my own reasons -- nothing happened.   I hadn't thought about it awhile, but it made me think.  Wow, I miss all of the community I used to have -- I haven't kept in touch with most of them, I hope they don't think anything bad of it though.  However, I have to say they were the most beautiful and kind individuals I have ever known.  

More questions that I'm trying to figure out, gathering advice.  What do the Baha'i's say about the Councils of the Church?  The First Council of Nicea ruled in affirmation of the divinity of Jesus, that he was not an ordinary created man as Arius of Alexandria had suggested.  The First Council of Constantinople ruled in the Divinity and personhood of the Holy Spirit, teaching that He is Divine and proceeds from the Father as rays proceed from the Sun.  

The Council of Ephesus ruled that Jesus is not two persons, but One Person and ruled Mary as the God-bearer (Theotokos).  The Council of Chalcedon ruled that he had both a Human nature, and a Divine nature instead of being completely one or the other.  The Second Council of Constantinople simply reaffirmed all of these decisions, with a special decree against a lot of Platonism, denying pre-existence of the soul, and reincarnation, and others of Origen of Alexandria's teachings.  

By this time, we reach the Advent of Muhammad.  The Third Council of Constantinople is held in 680,  affirming that Christ had both a human will and a divine will.  Finally, in 787 at the Second Council of Nicea the use of images or icons are restored making it acceptable for all Christians to kiss images, to bow to statues, etc..  

Where does the Baha'i Faith differ with any of these?  I know that the Baha'i Faith acknowledges the Divinity of Jesus, that acknowledges there is only One Christ,  and recognizes both a human and a divine station to each Manifestation of God -- yet still realizing it is the same Christ, who appears from age to age.    

God's been leading me on a journey, I don't know where he's taking me.  But I've been trying to figure things out, and I hope that you guys can help in the process.   
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 16, 2012 - 1:55AM #2
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,834

Allah'u'Abhá dear Truthseeker,


You're always welcome on the Bahá'í board and to present any views or questions that you find pertinent. Thank you for your interesting question.


Jun 15, 2012 -- 6:45PM, truthseeker630 wrote:

Allah'u'abha everyone,

Where does the Baha'i Faith differ with any of these?  I know that the Baha'i Faith acknowledges the Divinity of Jesus, that acknowledges there is only One Christ,  and recognizes both a human and a divine station to each Manifestation of God -- yet still realizing it is the same Christ, who appears from age to age.



I believe 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Writings offer a two-pronged answer to your question on ecumenical councils:


(1) Unity is better than disunity even if the dissenters are more right (in Promulgation of Universal Peace -- his collected talks in America -- 'Abdu'l-Bahá criticized Arianism for inciting a heresy, rather than criticizing them for their unitarian views).


(2) God's nature and that of His Manifestation is not decided by a political vote by fallible men. It is progressively unveiled in the authenticated Word of God which is only revealed by God's Manifestation. The nature of the Manifestation of God can never be fully understood, even as our own nature can never be fully understood. How much less God's.


As I explained in the trinity thread, the Bahá'í view is of course one of strict monotheism. Having said that, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that the Holy Spirit is an emanation (rather than a person) from God which can be likened to the rays of the sun. The reflection of the sun can be seen in the perfect mirror that Christ (and the essence of every other Manifestation of God) is and hence, in a sense, the sun is "in the Son" while in reality remaining in its own distant heaven. The sun never literally enters the mirror, but reflects in it through its rays (Holy Spirit).


As 'Abdu'l-Bahá puts it, Manifestations of God manifest God's attributes in a form which man can understand. The very purpose of their existence is to make God knowable to man since His Essence is inaccessible. These attributes such as All-Loving, All-Knowing and Almighty, constitute the Word of God, the Holy Spirit emanating from God, the Rays of the Sun of Reality, and not God Himself (the Orb of the Sun) Who is beyond all names and attributes. The Manifestations of God are not God incarnates (i.e. manifestations of God's Essence). God's true nature is beyond all attributes, whether corporeal or spiritual, according to the explicit teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The earth, or even the perfect mirror, could never withstand the Orb of the Sun Itself "descending" into it. Only its rays and even those from a carefully measured distance.


Man can only know God by knowing the Manifestation of God. After their physical death, the greatest testimony and spiritual heritage is their authenticated word. The Word of God has the mystical capacity of elevating a pure-hearted and meditative reader into direct contact with the very rays of the Sun of Reality which are reflected through these Perfect Mirrors. Not only does the Word of God (which for Bahá'ís is enshrined in the revealed word of Bahá'u'lláh) enlighten and edify a detached reader, but they also give us strength and inspiration to translate them into pious acts and to share them with others. The kindness and love that one may feel when associating with a sincere and devoted Bahá'ís is born from this Source, no matter how uneducated in theology or academia he or she may be.


Finally, Bahá'u'lláh clarifies in the Kitáb-i-Iqán that whilst the essence of all the Manifestations of God is one and the same Being embodying the attributes of God, each Manifestation of God also has a human nature, with its attendant individuality/human soul and body. Bahá'u'lláh calls this the 'station of separation' or the 'human station' of the Manifestations of God. This is the station of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh as distinct individuals with distinct Messages crafted for distinct ages. Just like the human soul, the human soul of the Manifestations has a beginning but no end (the Divine Essence of the Manifestation has no beginning and no end). And just like any other physical body, the body of the Manifestation of God has both a beginning and an end. Similarly, human beings possess their own unique nature (rational soul) as well as the animal nature (sensory apparatus), the plant nature (the power of growth) and the mineral nature (the power of physical existence).

God's been leading me on a journey, I don't know where he's taking me. But I've been trying to figure things out, and I hope that you guys can help in the process.



Always a pleasure to be of help. We are all seekers! Even as a lifelong Bahá'í, the deeper I delve into the Word, the more I feel I'm just in the beginning of my own search! It always reminds me of a prayer from Bahá'u'lláh (Prayers and Meditations, LVIII) which I hope will spur you on in your noble journey, wherever it may lead!


Glorified, immeasurably glorified art Thou, my Best-Beloved! Inasmuch as Thou hast ordained that the utmost limit to which they who lift their hearts to Thee can rise is the confession of their powerlessness to enter the realms of Thy holy and transcendent unity, and that the highest station which they who aspire to know Thee can reach is the acknowledgment of their impotence to attain the retreats of Thy sublime knowledge.


I, therefore, beseech Thee, by this very powerlessness which is beloved of Thee, and which Thou hast decreed as the goal of them that have reached and attained Thy court, and by the splendors of Thy countenance that have encompassed all things, and by the energies of Thy Will whereby the entire creation hath been generated, not to deprive them that have set their hopes in Thee of the wonders of Thy mercy, nor to withhold from such as have sought Thee the treasures of Thy grace. Ignite, then, within their hearts the torch of Thy love, that its flame may consume all else except their wondrous remembrance of Thee, and that no trace may be left in those hearts except the gem-like evidences of Thy most holy sovereignty, so that from the land wherein they dwell no voice may be heard except the voice that extolleth Thy mercifulness and might, that on the earth on which they walk no light may shine except the light of Thy beauty, and that within every soul naught may be discovered except the revelation of Thy countenance and the tokens of Thy glory, that haply Thy servants may show forth only that which shall please Thee and shall conform wholly unto Thy most potent will.


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 16, 2012 - 5:33PM #3
truthseeker630
Posts: 67

Jun 16, 2012 -- 1:55AM, Lilwabbit wrote:


Allah'u'Abhá dear Truthseeker,


You're always welcome on the Bahá'í board and to present any views or questions that you find pertinent. Thank you for your interesting question.


Jun 15, 2012 -- 6:45PM, truthseeker630 wrote:

Allah'u'abha everyone,

Where does the Baha'i Faith differ with any of these?  I know that the Baha'i Faith acknowledges the Divinity of Jesus, that acknowledges there is only One Christ,  and recognizes both a human and a divine station to each Manifestation of God -- yet still realizing it is the same Christ, who appears from age to age.



I believe 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Writings offer a two-pronged answer to your question on ecumenical councils:


(1) Unity is better than disunity even if the dissenters are more right (in Promulgation of Universal Peace -- his collected talks in America -- 'Abdu'l-Bahá criticized Arianism for inciting a heresy, rather than criticizing them for their unitarian views).


(2) God's nature and that of His Manifestation is not decided by a political vote by fallible men. It is progressively unveiled in the authenticated Word of God which is only revealed by God's Manifestation. The nature of the Manifestation of God can never be fully understood, even as our own nature can never be fully understood. How much less God's.


As I explained in the trinity thread, the Bahá'í view is of course one of strict monotheism. Having said that, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that the Holy Spirit is an emanation (rather than a person) from God which can be likened to the rays of the sun. The reflection of the sun can be seen in the perfect mirror that Christ (and the essence of every other Manifestation of God) is and hence, in a sense, the sun is "in the Son" while in reality remaining in its own distant heaven. The sun never literally enters the mirror, but reflects in it through its rays (Holy Spirit).


As 'Abdu'l-Bahá puts it, Manifestations of God manifest God's attributes in a form which man can understand. The very purpose of their existence is to make God knowable to man since His Essence is inaccessible. These attributes such as All-Loving, All-Knowing and Almighty, constitute the Word of God, the Holy Spirit emanating from God, the Rays of the Sun of Reality, and not God Himself (the Orb of the Sun) Who is beyond all names and attributes. The Manifestations of God are not God incarnates (i.e. manifestations of God's Essence). God's true nature is beyond all attributes, whether corporeal or spiritual, according to the explicit teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. The earth, or even the perfect mirror, could never withstand the Orb of the Sun Itself "descending" into it. Only its rays and even those from a carefully measured distance.


Man can only know God by knowing the Manifestation of God. After their physical death, the greatest testimony and spiritual heritage is their authenticated word. The Word of God has the mystical capacity of elevating a pure-hearted and meditative reader into direct contact with the very rays of the Sun of Reality which are reflected through these Perfect Mirrors. Not only does the Word of God (which for Bahá'ís is enshrined in the revealed word of Bahá'u'lláh) enlighten and edify a detached reader, but they also give us strength and inspiration to translate them into pious acts and to share them with others. The kindness and love that one may feel when associating with a sincere and devoted Bahá'ís is born from this Source, no matter how uneducated in theology or academia he or she may be.


Finally, Bahá'u'lláh clarifies in the Kitáb-i-Iqán that whilst the essence of all the Manifestations of God is one and the same Being embodying the attributes of God, each Manifestation of God also has a human nature, with its attendant individuality/human soul and body. Bahá'u'lláh calls this the 'station of separation' or the 'human station' of the Manifestations of God. This is the station of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh as distinct individuals with distinct Messages crafted for distinct ages. Just like the human soul, the human soul of the Manifestations has a beginning but no end (the Divine Essence of the Manifestation has no beginning and no end). And just like any other physical body, the body of the Manifestation of God has both a beginning and an end. Similarly, human beings possess their own unique nature (rational soul) as well as the animal nature (sensory apparatus), the plant nature (the power of growth) and the mineral nature (the power of physical existence).

God's been leading me on a journey, I don't know where he's taking me. But I've been trying to figure things out, and I hope that you guys can help in the process.



Always a pleasure to be of help. We are all seekers! Even as a lifelong Bahá'í, the deeper I delve into the Word, the more I feel I'm just in the beginning of my own search! It always reminds me of a prayer from Bahá'u'lláh (Prayers and Meditations, LVIII) which I hope will spur you on in your noble journey, wherever it may lead!


Glorified, immeasurably glorified art Thou, my Best-Beloved! Inasmuch as Thou hast ordained that the utmost limit to which they who lift their hearts to Thee can rise is the confession of their powerlessness to enter the realms of Thy holy and transcendent unity, and that the highest station which they who aspire to know Thee can reach is the acknowledgment of their impotence to attain the retreats of Thy sublime knowledge.


I, therefore, beseech Thee, by this very powerlessness which is beloved of Thee, and which Thou hast decreed as the goal of them that have reached and attained Thy court, and by the splendors of Thy countenance that have encompassed all things, and by the energies of Thy Will whereby the entire creation hath been generated, not to deprive them that have set their hopes in Thee of the wonders of Thy mercy, nor to withhold from such as have sought Thee the treasures of Thy grace. Ignite, then, within their hearts the torch of Thy love, that its flame may consume all else except their wondrous remembrance of Thee, and that no trace may be left in those hearts except the gem-like evidences of Thy most holy sovereignty, so that from the land wherein they dwell no voice may be heard except the voice that extolleth Thy mercifulness and might, that on the earth on which they walk no light may shine except the light of Thy beauty, and that within every soul naught may be discovered except the revelation of Thy countenance and the tokens of Thy glory, that haply Thy servants may show forth only that which shall please Thee and shall conform wholly unto Thy most potent will.


Kind regards,


LilWabbit





Hello LilWabbit,

I agree with you that kindness, and goodness can only come from the Logos.  Goodness is an Idea according to Plato, and therefore it's eternal because you can conceive it and it is not bound by hands.  Such ideas or forms are certainly not of this material gross physical plane. 

But, yes I was just wondering to what extent the Baha'i Faith may agree or disagree. I don't think that anyone can really say that the Son of God, or the Holy Spirit is the entirety of the Godhead by themselves.  For they are one hypostasis " ὑπόστᾰσις",  and this was later incorrectly translated as substantia which caused great confusion.  The more accurate Latin term would be persona, as this has a broader implication than just the English form of "person".   

You are right though the Sun cannot incarnate itself upon the Earth, and still be the same Sun.  Chalcedon decreed, after rejecting Dioscorous of Alexandria's proposition that the Logos can be from two natures (physis) and abide only in One.      They said:  "...while Christ is a single, undivided person, He is not only from two natures but in two natures. The bishops acclaimed the Tome of St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome (died 461), in which the distinction between the two natures is clearly stated, although the unity of Christ's person is also emphasized. In their proclamation of faith they stated their belief in 'one and the same son, perfect in Godhead and perfect in humanity, truly God and truly human... acknowledged in two natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference between the natures is in no way removed because of the union, but rather the peculiar property of each nature is preserved, and both combine in one person and in one hypostasis."   (Source: orthodoxwiki.org/Fourth_Ecumenical_Council) 

I agree however that we cannot know the manifestation of God, or ourselves by one's essence (ousia) "ουσία" but only through our energies (energia) " ενέργειαι".  I believe that's what you're referring to when you said the Manifestation of God is known by his Attributes, even as we are known by our attributes -- but people cannot truly see the essence, or core of our beings.  

By the way, a little off topic -- but, what do you do to create devotion in your heart to God and Baha'u'llah, etc.?  I never found the community gathering every 19 days to inspire my mind and heart to a more spiritual state..  but prayer, and reciting Allah'u'Abha 95 times were the closest ways I came to surrendering things to God, and feeling that I had some form of spirituality I was abiding by. 


 

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 1:42AM #4
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,834

Howdy Truthseeker!


Thanks for your views. There are indeed many things on which we see eye to eye theologically.


Jun 16, 2012 -- 5:33PM, truthseeker630 wrote:


But, yes I was just wondering to what extent the Baha'i Faith may agree or disagree. I don't think that anyone can really say that the Son of God, or the Holy Spirit is the entirety of the Godhead by themselves.  For they are one hypostasis " ὑπόστᾰσις",  and this was later incorrectly translated as substantia which caused great confusion.  The more accurate Latin term would be persona, as this has a broader implication than just the English form of "person".



The idea of God being describable by even the predicate/attribute of "persona" is of course foreign to Bahá'í Faith. God is nothing less than a "persona" (definitely not a "non-persona") but something beyond even the greatest qualities we attribute to personahood. Neither is God "they" in any shape or form for the Bahá'ís. There's no "they" that constitutes "one hypostasis" in the Bahá'í Faith. As 'Abdu'l-Bahá clarifies in his response to the trinity question (which I linked), God is even beyond the notion of "singleness" how much more that of "multiplicity". Mixing the two notions of 'multiplicity' and 'singleness' ("three in one") into an allegedly coherent Godhead is still only dabbling with different names and attributes, which according to Bahá'u'lláh is ever confined to created things. God is unequivocally beyond attributes. He created the very Kingdom of Names which is the Bahá'í equivalent of Platonic 'pure forms' (eidos).


Jun 16, 2012 -- 5:33PM, truthseeker630 wrote:


By the way, a little off topic -- but, what do you do to create devotion in your heart to God and Baha'u'llah, etc.?  I never found the community gathering every 19 days to inspire my mind and heart to a more spiritual state..  but prayer, and reciting Allah'u'Abha 95 times were the closest ways I came to surrendering things to God, and feeling that I had some form of spirituality I was abiding by. 




Thank you for your relevant and personal question.


In brief, the only way for a Bahá'í to create true devotion in one's heart to God is by pure-hearted, deep and regular meditation on the Word of God, as well as by means of prayer. No "administrative function" or Bahá'í "communal event" can ever do it for you. The latter, rather, should be inspired by the former. Trying to connect to the Word of God by theological analysis or external activities is like bureaucrats explaining poetry. Its doomed to failure. This would be my main humble criticism of all ecumenical councils and other intellectual or external efforts of "unravelling" the truth. Also, true devotion is a life-long practice and becomes gradually stronger and stronger. One shouldn't expect sudden transformations although such have also been known to happen to many Bahá'ís through powerful dreams and visions.


I find myself conversing with my Maker every day, and being personally inspired and informed about His Will for my life. The power of personal inspiration by the Holy Spirit is very much an essential component of the Bahá'í Faith. Perhaps we don't talk about it so much because it is so private and precious (talking about it somehow "cheapens" it), and because talking about one's personal relationship with God sometimes carries an air of boastfulness and hypocrisy (quite common in evangelical Christian circles) which we are so clearly advised against. This personal conversation with God and His personal guidance in our daily lives, is primarily derived from the Word of God -- either spontaneously in the midst of our daily routines, or systematically through the study of the Holy Writings. But Bahá'u'lláh is also clear that the human frame, no matter how noble and spiritual, is far too limited to withstand direct contact with the Sun of Reality (God), inasmuch as even the earth cannot withstand direct contact with the physical sun without being pulverized in an instant. But the earth can indeed feel directly the heat of the sun and receive its light from the brilliantly measured distance of its orbit. The rays of the sun is what we understand as the Holy Spirit and which are primarily relayed through the Word of God. Bahá'u'lláh gives a clearly-worded warning:


"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)


So in addition to the theological problem of claiming direct connection with God which is practiced in some Christian denominations, there's also a serious practical dilemma which often causes anxiety for a sincere and God-loving Christian who believes that some of the voices within represent some direct divine revelation. Namely, such faith usually suffers from an underlying confusion and uncertainty about the true Will of God for oneself. One can never be absolutely sure whether the Inner Voice is one’s own whim, imagination, wishful thinking, selfish desire or God Himself speaking. The Inner Voice may tell you rather confusing and silly things on different occasions.


The Bahá'ís believe that the Bible is, by and large, the Word of God, even if not fully authentic in its historical preservation of the exact original words of God. However, we also believe that the guidance it offers, just like the Qur'án, is not sufficient for mankind in our present day and age. Progressive revelation is a central Bahá'í tenet. It is, therefore, understandable to us how people who rely solely on ancient books of God's revelation (albeit containing many eternal truths) wish and indeed hanker after further guidance from God to their daily lives. Since the acceptance of a full new prophetic revelation from God is not an option, such believers often resort to mysticism and belief in personal divine guidance by listening to the "still voice" within. While the still voice often speaks truth derived from our deepest insights gleaned from the Word of God, it still leaves us confused.


Compared to these evangelical types, most deepened Bahá'ís aren't similarly privately "worried" and "confused" about the Will of God to each one of us personally, nor do they have a compelling need to either tell themselves or, worse yet, to show off to others "how very personally God loves me and guides me." Why? Since we feel that the Word of God revealed through the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh is itself so perfectly all-encompassing, extensive and comperehensive, that it really provides us very personal answers as to what we should do today, tomorrow and every day of our lives under any given life circumstance. The daily reading of the words of Bahá'u'lláh, the daily reminders of the various duties to serve mankind He so clearly inculcated, and the wise counsels of the Bahá'í institutions He Himself reared, each and all help us to find very specific guidance as to what we should do today, tomorrow and all the days of our lives. There's simply no need to start listening to inner voices for the purpose of further guidance. The purpose of reflection and spiritual meditation lies elsewhere for the Bahá'ís, namely in the need to ever deepen our understanding of His already revealed Will and His already revealed truths.


Many sincere people who have come to accept the existence of God wish to feel a connection to that God. This is only natural. However, we must be careful where we look for that connection, and why. Are we reducing God into a personally convenient image which is reinforced by an outward symbol, object or a person? Or are we looking for a sensation of connection (that we imagine to be true) rather than the truth itself which oftentimes is beyond all sensation? Feelings and truth are not identical albeit they may often coincide. The Western world is caught up with feelings and sensations. Hence the whole dilemma, even within the Bahá'í community.


As to "feeling" connections and achieving "inspired" spiritual states, I personally make a clear distinction between "emotional" and "spiritual" connection. I can only offer the example of how I feel connected to God and inspired to devote my energies to advance the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. I hope others will share theirs.


Having grown up in a Bahá'í pioneer family, I was exposed since childhood to stories about the great martyrs and heroes of the faith and the suffering and adamance of Bahá'u'lláh. I was also taught to recite and to reflect on His Writings (obviously mere recitation is not enough). Even the accounts of my own family-members who had met with Bahá'u'lláh had passed on and were collected by Bahá'í historians. My great-grand-uncle Ustad Ali-Akbar was hacked to death with a pick-axe and thrown into a public well for not recanting, and my great-grandfather Aqa Reza-i-Sa'adati has written down some rather remarkable first-hand observations from his meeting with Bahá'u'lláh and his complete transformation as a person. Since a kid, me and my sister used to peep through a keyhole while my grandmother was praying. We would hear the chanting from the outside. The fervour, the purity and the devotion of her prayer left a great imprint and bequeathed a great model of prayer which easily withstands comparison to the other great religious traditions.


In short, a certain fire was awakened early on that simply hasn't died out. It has rather grown fiercer. Every time I read the words of Bahá'u'lláh I realize how the same fire is fuelled further. My personal connection to Bahá'u'lláh is through His word. It is a silent fire. A silent conviction of the truth, power, wisdom and love of God conveyed in Bahá'u'lláh's Writings. I find myself humbly admiring the superhuman wisdom, purity, majesty and beauty of His Word, and becoming inspired by these qualities in His Word. Another sensation, which I can only describe as "cleansing effect", occurs while praying certain Bahá'u'lláh's prayers with attention and without distraction. But there are also times when I know I have the fire but it doesn't "feel" like anything. It's always there. Haunting, lingering, teasing, reminding, disciplining, inspiring. I just don't believe God is a feeling. Bahá'u'lláh was very clear on God being beyond all feeling and all direct connection. Even Bahá'u'lláh's Person is "other-worldly" in a rather similar way and takes effort to become "feelable". Yet He does, but primarily through His word. For a more easily accessible tangible personal connection, Bahá'u'lláh gave us His son 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The sort of person-to-person "love affair", if you will, that most long-standing Bahá'ís have as an element of their Faith, is usually with the person of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This connection is somewhat similar to the connection many Christians feel with the person of Jesus. A personal connection with 'Abdu'l-Bahá is a great, consoling and soothing addition to the faith of God, but I do not believe it is *necessary* for true conviction, or for the fire of faith to burn in our hearts.


Feelings come and go. So do feelings of emotional connection with another Person. True love doesn't. Emotional faith, due to its erratic nature, needs regular boost by inspirational sermons, affirming music, holy ambience, symbolic objects and solemn atmosphere. For me, these things certainly help, but also I can't help but regard them as rather superficial and vulnerable criteria of faith.


Contrary to feelings, true faith requires no emotional pay-offs. Sometimes one can see God in pleasure, but other times we learn to see God in the very essence of pain.


"But for the tribulations which are sustained in Thy path, how could Thy true lovers be recognized." (Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, XCII, p. 155)


"The companions of all who adore Thee are the tears they shed, and the comforters of such as seek Thee are the groans they utter, and the food of them who haste to meet Thee is the fragments of their broken hearts." (Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, XCII, p. 155)


Spiritual conviction is deeper, quieter, calmer, more persistent, more reliable, than an emotion. It is ultimately spiritual awareness and knowledge. But it is not "intellectual" knowledge. Having said that, 'Abdu'l-Bahá is quite clear on the fact that even "the heart cannot find rest" in a belief that "does not conform to reason." Something that's irrational always lacks the power to inspire us, while for a notion to be rational offers no inspirational guarantee either. An idea or a truth is always more than merely rational for it to be inspiring, but irrational notions will also inevitably trouble our heart. Not just our mind. Spirituality and rationality go hand in hand. In Bahá'í Faith, they shouldn't be pitted against one another.


But since we're on the topic of personal testimonies, I find it is this silent fire that gives me the strength to go on and better myself everyday. It is this silent fire that makes me sometimes declare to God, in the quiet confines of my own thoughts, that if it is Your wish that I die in Your path, then I will accept it with a smile.


I believe this fire that I feel is the same fire that burnt with far greater heat and brightness in the hearts of the early Christian, Muslim and Bahá'í martyrs. For myself I've noticed that this fire is only fuelled by the recitation and reflection of the words of Bahá'u'lláh. And even then, only when I do it without any expectation of emotional pay-off and personal reward.


"So enravish me with the wonders of Thine utterances that the noise and distraction of this world may be powerless to deter me from turning unto Thee, and may fail to shake my constancy in Thy Cause, or to distract my gaze from the horizon of Thy grace." (Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, LXIX, p. 114)


"Be of them whom the tumult of the world, however much it may agitate them in the path of their Creator, can never sadden, whose purpose the blame of the blamer will never defeat." (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, CXXIX, p. 280)


"Say: O people of God! Beware lest the powers of the earth alarm you, or the might of the nations weaken you, or the tumult of the people of discord deter you, or the exponents of earthly glory sadden you. Be ye as a mountain in the Cause of your Lord, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained." (Bahá'u'lláh, cited by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 82)


"When victory arriveth, every man shall profess himself as believer and shall hasten to the shelter of God's Faith. Happy are they who in the days of world-encompassing trials have stood fast in the Cause and refused to swerve from its truth." (Gleanings, CL, p. 318)


With kind regards,


LilWabbit


P.S. By the way, the following Bahá'í music video by Devon Gundry has a powerful emotional effect for someone in distress (and obviously also an important spiritual content):


www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cod5qIiq1w




"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 1:58AM #5
truthseeker630
Posts: 67

Thank you LilWabbit,


That was beautiful and I did not realize that you had a personal connection that went back to the very early days of the Baha'i Faith.  I wish I had your words of wisdom a year and a half ago, they would have helped me greatly.  But, I have to remember that belief is always of a private nature.  If a person decides to declare themselves again, I know everyone will understand that I had a journey or a "detour" of some sort that I had to go on.   I will weigh carefully everything you have said, and pray about it. 

In Christ,


Andrew

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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 2:34AM #6
Aka_me
Posts: 11,932

one thing I wish there were more hours in a day to study...


is the notion of Jesus or Baha'u'llah speaking from the authority of the Holy Spirit as opposed to speaking from their own "I" perspective.


when Jesus was a child, He did not speak from the authority of being a Prophet of God. it was only after the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (as if the Holy Spirit were the animating light of a light house) that He began speaking with the authority of God.


same goes for Moses at the burning bush, Muhammad in the cave, and Baha'u'llah in the Síyáh-Chál.


events that completely changed the nature of the Prophet by illuminating their mission to them.


the mystery that we may never be capable of fully appreciating is when Jesus says "I am God"


how much of it is the authority of the Holy Spirit, and how much of it is the fact that Jesus exists in the realm of Lahut:


internet troll... anyone who won't stop posting about bad spelling.
the government KILLS and EXPERIMENTS and TORTURES people, without ever apologizing, being held accountable or punished. and you expect me to believe they've automagically grown a conscience to not continue? like bloody hades they have.
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 4:10AM #7
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,834

Jun 17, 2012 -- 2:34AM, Aka_me wrote:


the mystery that we may never be capable of fully appreciating is when Jesus says "I am God"




Dear Aka,


There's no place in the Bible where Jesus explicitly states that he is God. There are ambiguous statements that have been interpreted that way (being "one" with God, "before Abraham was, I am", "Father is in the Son", etc.) by the trinitarians, inasmuch as there are explicit statements in which he deems the Father is greater than the Son and possesses qualities (goodness, knowledge) of which the Son is deprived. He doesn't even explicitly state that he is the Messiah, albeit one implicit reference to that effect seems clear enough.


Trinitarians, throughout the ages, have tried to explain these statements away by unconvincing attempts to blur their evident meaning.


Kind regards,


LilWabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 4:17AM #8
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,834

Jun 17, 2012 -- 1:58AM, truthseeker630 wrote:


Thank you LilWabbit,


That was beautiful and I did not realize that you had a personal connection that went back to the very early days of the Baha'i Faith.  I wish I had your words of wisdom a year and a half ago, they would have helped me greatly.  But, I have to remember that belief is always of a private nature.  If a person decides to declare themselves again, I know everyone will understand that I had a journey or a "detour" of some sort that I had to go on.   I will weigh carefully everything you have said, and pray about it. 

In Christ,


Andrew




Dear Andrew,


You're a precious soul. Whatever your prayerful heart finds in your path of search, detours or not, if it speaks to your heart thoroughly, I'm in full support of your decision.


Oh and by the way, many of us so-called lifelong believers have had our own little detours and comebacks whilst perhaps never changing the name "Bahá'í". It's part of everyone's spiritual search. You would certainly be no exception.


Loving regards from rainy Helsinki,


Sam

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 12:24PM #9
Seefan
Posts: 3,884

Lilwabbit thanks so much for sharing your deeper thoughts and feelings about the faith.  Very inspirational and inspiring.  You have such a great gift of expression!  Well worth a re-read!  I wish you well always ...


later


 


PS: Andrew, good luck in your search!  And as said, most, including self, have had their own detours.  All part of the journey ....


 

Today the one overriding need is unity and harmony among the beloved of the Lord, for they should have among them but one heart and soul and should, so far as in them lieth, unitedly withstand the hostility of all the peoples of the world ... (Baha'i Writings)
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2 years ago  ::  Jun 17, 2012 - 1:42PM #10
world citizen
Posts: 5,401

My personal "detour" during the '80s was more like a trek!  Wink 

Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love. ~Baha'u'llah
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