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Switch to Forum Live View Curious about the Baha'i faith...
6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 10:53AM #1
JCOverseas
Posts: 165
Hi,
         I've been reading about some of the world's more compassionate faiths recently, and had a few questions about some things I've come across. Please note that I am not interested in disparaging the Baha'i faith, which I greatly respect; also, I do not intend to offend anyone and apoolgize up front if my first question, below, is inadvertently so. So here's what I wanted to ask about, and would greatly appreciate any insight that the people on this board can provide.

(1) This a faith focused on the unity of religions, among other principles; do the Baha'i identify at all as Shi'a Muslims of any kind, since this is (allegedly) where they originally evolved from?
(2) I have read, in a few anecdotal sources, that Kahlil Gibran claimed to have been inspired to write "the Prophet" after meeting Baha'u'llah. Is this generally accepted as fact, and if so, is there anywhere I can read more about this?
(3) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Catholic priest and paleontologist (interesting combination...). Yet even my superficial understanding of his works suggests that much of his philosphy would be very appealing to the Baha'i. Is this the case?
(4) Finally, if I were able to read a single book on your faith, which one would you recommend? I realize that there's probably no one-stop-shop-style single book to read, but what constitutes good introductory reading for someone who is interested but not looking to convert?

                          Thank you very much!
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 11:43AM #2
compx2
Posts: 426
Thanks for your questions!  Baha'i just love to answer questions about us.

(1) This a faith focused on the unity of religions, among other principles; do the Baha'i identify at all as Shi'a Muslims of any kind, since this is (allegedly) where they originally evolved from?

No more than Christians identify with Jews, I suppose.  We accept their succession, the Imams as the legitimate order of succession of religious authority after the ascention of Muhammad (PBUH), but we do not believe all the doctrines of all those in Shi'a Islam because it has been superceded by the Baha'i Faith.

(2) I have read, in a few anecdotal sources, that Kahlil Gibran claimed to have been inspired to write "the Prophet" after meeting Baha'u'llah. Is this generally accepted as fact, and if so, is there anywhere I can read more about this?

He met Abdu'l-Baha in New York, is my understanding.  Kahil Gibran did not meet Baha'u'llah.  There are several accounts of these meetings.  I will get back to you.

(3) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a Catholic priest and paleontologist (interesting combination...). Yet even my superficial understanding of his works suggests that much of his philosphy would be very appealing to the Baha'i. Is this the case?

I don't know, I have not read much about deChardin.  I will have to get back to you about that one as well.

(4) Finally, if I were able to read a single book on your faith, which one would you recommend? I realize that there's probably no one-stop-shop-style single book to read, but what constitutes good introductory reading for someone who is interested but not looking to convert?

Many, many people started with Baha'u'llah and the New Era by Esselmont, but there are many good introductions.  Do an Amazon search for an introduction, or go to a Baha'i bookstore...

Or perhaps you could just read more here, and ask question here.

Hope to hear more from you.  --Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2008 - 9:26AM #3
JCOverseas
Posts: 165
World Citizen and Kent,
       Thank you both for your very helpful replies. No inconvenience at all moving things to this board, I wasn't 100% where to post my questions and this is certainly fine.
        I appreciate the reference library link; I was able to get "Baha'ullah and the New Era" downloaded and unzipped, and it will be an interesting read. Oddly enough, going through the list of chapters, I notice that I've been able to visit many of the places mentioned (Akka/Acre, Constantinople/Istanbul, and Haifa). 
        I did get the name wrong on the person who met with Kahlil Gibran (sorry, rookie mistake!), but I can start with Juliet Thompson. It just seemed like a very interesting, and apprently not well-known, statement for Gibran to make...
        Thanks again, take care, and I look forward to continuing this discussion!
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2008 - 7:42AM #4
compx2
Posts: 426
I read a bit about Teilhard (he did not use "DeChardin") in anticipation of futher discussion.  I do not believe he had any contacts with Baha'is, but he embraced the Baha'i principle of the harmony of science and religion.  --Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 10, 2008 - 7:30AM #5
compx2
Posts: 426
I was only familiar with Teilhard from his work on the Law of Complexity/Consciousness, but I did not know it by his name.  When I looked him up after JCO's mention I saw his work, well known in philosophical circles.  Anyway, he was a Priest who came under fire from the Pope for work which the Church believed was counter to faith, but of course as Baha'is we know of the harmony of science and religion.  --Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2008 - 3:07PM #6
compx2
Posts: 426
I had not heard of "Logos and Civilization"  I just read a very interesting review.  Trying to find a copy to buy.  --Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 11, 2008 - 5:58PM #7
compx2
Posts: 426
" I'd be curious to know if the two works are comparable."

Teilhard proposed that complexity was proof of consciousness at a higher level than humanity can fathom, and that is a proof of God.  Of course I have oversimplified, but that is how I remember it.  Never interested me too much.  I didn't see the logic of it, I only really read it because it was controversial to the Catholic Pope, but it did not sound like a plausible explantion of our rational world to me.

I am curious what Saiedi has to say.  According to the academic review I read he stepped out of the academic box in his first book, which means to me he believes he is really onto something.

--Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 12, 2008 - 7:16AM #8
compx2
Posts: 426
That is funny, the first place I went.  Then I found it on Amazon, all over the place, special, only $40.  But I went back to the Baha'i Publishing Trust and found some other things I wanted to order, did a search by name (not isbn) and found it , in stock, half Amazon's price.  Already got a discussion going on another list about it.  Can't wait to get the book, and of course, the other things I ordered as well.

Thanks for pointing out this promising book to me.  --Kent
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2008 - 7:23AM #9
JCOverseas
Posts: 165
Hello again,
    I apologize for not replying earlier---it's been a busy week. I am an expert on neither Pierre Teilhard de Chardin nor on the Baha'i faith, but one of the themes in Teilhard's writings that struck me was the idea that mankind's purpose was to evolve toward a form of unity. Here's a commonly-repeated quote of his which might help to illustrate:
"The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, and the tides...we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
    This statement can be taken in alot of different ways of course, but it seemed to me to have a lot to do with what the Baha'i faith teaches.
     Thanks again for the book recommendation; I am making frustratingly slow going between my family and professional and other commitments, but this has nothing to do with the writings themselves; they are fascinating reading.
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 18, 2008 - 8:19AM #10
compx2
Posts: 426
For your own information, Farsi the the Persian word for "Persian".  The English word is "Persian".  Calling it "Farsi" is like calling Spanish "Espanol" or calling French "Francais".  Nothing wrong with doing it, but I believe there is a letter telling Baha'is about that, either from National or the World Centre.

I got the book Friday, haven't gotten into it yet, but it is very different from what I expected.  Haven't found anything startling yet, except the author doesn't like Sufism very much.  It seems like he is making Sufism into a straw religion, but I will have to see about that.

--Kent
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