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3 years ago  ::  Mar 23, 2012 - 10:21PM #21
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

Mar 23, 2012 -- 12:10PM, world citizen wrote:


"Fragmenting our relationship to deity into various personally designated separate entities".


It would appear that this echoes what became of Hinduism.  Vishnu seems to get entirely lost among the glut of now idolized "separate entities" that have convoluted the teachings of Sri Krishna.





Yes, a comparative few drops of the most learned and wise Hindu see the truth mentioned as aspects of the Brahman; while a relative sea of simple folk are clinging to all sorts of godlets, idols, etc.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2012 - 3:07PM #22
Kalzera
Posts: 260

Cascade -


the idea that given the indications that there shall never come a final Manifestation of God, and given a long enough timeline, any (sincere) personal system that attempts to understand the God and the believer's relationship thereto could, in potentia, become a legitimate, revealed note of the Godsong


I don't think this requires an endless stream of Manifestations to be a legitimate point. Bahá'ís are all about personalizing one's faith so long as we don't evangelize our customizations onto others as community-wide belief. Former Mormons are free to find divine wisdom in Joseph Smith as long as they don't preach that need to do that on other Bahá'ís. I myself am a sucker for religious art, especially Orthodox Christian and Shi'ite Muslim iconography, and think that it "enhances" my faith just to stare at them even though I don't ritually honor icons like Orthodox Christians do.


I should hope, would cherish and defend whatever growth and closeness to the God has come about as a result of it.


I fully agree. My Secretary's sister returned from India a while back, and I told her that my uncle is a Baptist Evangelist to India. She admired his faith and praised what he was doing. In fact, it sort of shocked me, because I never heard of a Bahá'í admiring a Christian that devout in their faith. I've sense learned to adopt much the same attitude as you.


 



WC --


It would appear that this echoes what became of Hinduism.  Vishnu seems to get entirely lost among the glut of now idolized "separate entities" that have convoluted the teachings of Sri Krishna.


IMO --


Yes, a comparative few drops of the most learned and wise Hindu see the truth mentioned as aspects of the Brahman; while a relative sea of simple folk are clinging to all sorts of godlets, idols, etc.


 


While the rural regions of India and the less educated in the cities most defintly practice a "popularized" form of their religion - much like Fundamentalists in the US do of Christianity or in Arabia of Islam - Hinduism itself is far from a dead, lifeless religion of rituals that Western thought makes it out to be. It has a diversity of sects - most of which are Mono-Pantheistic - and there are even large divisions within it that, because of Western bais, remain unstudied, but share a great many similarities with the Western religious mindset. Even in popular format in some areas do Hindus acknowledge one God, read their texts as if they were revelations, and practice their religion in such a way that it almost seems like a Western religion in an Indian context.


If it weren't so "foriegn" and "exotic" to us, Hinduism would probably be appreciated as much as Western thought.


A problem, especially for Americans, is that Southeast Asians arriving in the US must adapt to the region, and this often leads to a converging of different Hindu faiths into one temple out of necessity for Indian communities. There's a temple not far from my university with eight or nine different Shrines in it. This isn't because the local Indian community worships all of those gods seperately, but because some Indians thought Rama was the purest conceptualization of divinity, others Krishna, and others Shiva; and some of these further see use in honoring Ganesh or Lakshmi in much the same way Christians and Muslims do the angel Gabriel, Christ's Mother, and other semi-divine figures. It's when all of this gets thrown together do we mistake Hinduism for some highly developed but overitualized polytheistic remnant of ancient Aryan culture.


Ultimately, Bahá'ís believing in the intercession of Bahíyyíh or the Gaurdian isn't much different from Hindus believing in One divine essence but praying through Shiva and asking for Ganesh's intercession. In fact, the only major differences are timing and historical grounding in real personages.




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
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2012 - 3:31PM #23
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

Kalzera,


What you say is accurate. The proportions of believers in each variety, varies; and even though violence and other forms of aggression are common in most of these aggregations, they shouldn't be lumped together as they are all different in more ways and quantities than they are alike in some qualities.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2012 - 4:29PM #24
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

I am moved by Orthodox Christian choral music, Gregorian chant, Sufi flute motifs, some renditions of the Moola Mantra, Kletzmer music, Sibelius and I get a kick out of Enter Sandman by Metallica.


But I would personally never display crucifixes, statuettes of Catholic saints, Virgin Mary, Eastern Orthodox icons, Buddha statues, Hindu deities, Norse gods or even Islamic calligraphy in my house or on my body. I won't judge those Bahá'ís who would.


I just can't bring my soul to agree with the man-made theologies and doctrines that these objects either directly exhibit or implicitly represent. The very notion of representing the Divine in a physical object is, for me, as irreverent as it is inaccurate. Neither will I ever choose to show any visual representation of any of the Manifestations of God. Their true beauty is simply unmatched by anything in the physical universe.


Kind regards,


Wabbit

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 24, 2012 - 9:17PM #25
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

A note on beliefnet history. There was once a picture of a pretty celebrity which a believer had posted as a personal view of the Maid of Heaven, not knowing that it was another name of the Holy Spirit.


The history of religion notes Sufi notables contemplating beauty, which devolved into contemplating the good looks of young men and went on to more than the chaste observations previous, ending sordidly.


Be careful how you look for and at God; Even though Majnun managed it by being forgiven, for looking for his Beloved in the dust, because it betokened ardor.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2012 - 1:21AM #26
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,896

Mar 24, 2012 -- 9:17PM, in_my_opinion wrote:


A note on beliefnet history. There was once a picture of a pretty celebrity which a believer had posted as a personal view of the Maid of Heaven, not knowing that it was another name of the Holy Spirit.


The history of religion notes Sufi notables contemplating beauty, which devolved into contemplating the good looks of young men and went on to more than the chaste observations previous, ending sordidly.


Be careful how you look for and at God; Even though Majnun managed it by being forgiven, for looking for his Beloved in the dust, because it betokened ardor.





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, like you said, we must be careful where we look for that connection, and why. Are we reducing God into a personally convenient imagining which is reinforced by an outward symbol and object? And 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 sometimes 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, I personally make a clear distinction between "emotional" and "spiritual" connection.


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 Muhammad Sa'adati has written down some rather remarkable first-hand observations from his meeting with Bahá'u'lláh. 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. The same sensation occurs while praying Bahá'u'lláh's prayers with attention and without distraction. Oftentimes this fire doesn't "feel" like anything. Yet 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. To be directly "feelable", Bahá'u'lláh Himself would have to be something less than what He claims. For a concrete 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. 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. All in all, the Bahá'í notion of God goes far beyond the Sufi and the Eastern Orthodox theosis and gnosis.


"They [people] should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal." (Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, CLX, p. 336)


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.


True faith requires no maintenance. True faith requires no emotional pay-offs. Sometimes one can see God in pleasure, but other times we learn to see God in pain, and yet still another time He is present in a complete lack of feeling.


"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." 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 expactation 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

"All things have I willed for you, and you too, for your own sake."
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 25, 2012 - 1:37AM #27
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

Wow, what a beautiful posting!

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 17, 2012 - 7:43PM #28
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

Mar 22, 2012 -- 1:15AM, Cascade wrote:


Oh imo, you wascally wabbit. (No disrespect meant to LilWabbit, who in my experience has not shown a particular propensity for wascalism, but may enjoy it in his nonline life. Also yes, I just coined the term 'nonline'. Use it as you will.) I salute your effort.



"Fragmenting our relationship to deity into various personally designated separate entities".



If quoting myself will not result in the implosion of the world, I said in my example regarding the Faith of the Seven that the Faces are "each a manifestation of God with different functions and purviews, but not separate gods." When I go to my troupe's weekly workshop, when I give a friend advice, when I just want to whine to my girlfriend about friggin' life, man, I am not become a separate person. I am, and shall remain, myself, but show a different side of who I am that is germane to the situation. I, like all men, am made in the Image, and if I can do it the God can do it. 



Neo-Paganism (which in reality encompasses a bafflingly diverse array of beliefs and practices regarding the very fundaments of religion, with very little unity or agreement thereon) usually sees its deities as literally separate entities.



Communion with the God on an individual level is not a thing to which objective qualification can be applied. Good for Shoghi, though. He found something that worked for him in his relationship with the God.




Dear Cascade, sorry about being snarky with the remark about being on a first name basis. Perhaps was overly sensitive about being accused of "wascalism" and name-called a "wascally wabbit". Have noted that such direct ad hominems survived deletion but a comparatively mild rebuke was ruthlessly stifled! There ain't no justice! Cry  Wink


"He was invariably addressed by his grandfather as "Shoghi Effendi"; indeed, He gave instructions that he should at all times have the "Effendi" added and even told Shoghi Effendi's own father he must address him thus and not merely as "Shoghi". The word "Effendi" signifies "sir" or "mister" and is added as a term of respect; for the same reason "Khanum", which means "lady" or "madame", is added to a woman's name."


 (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 3)


Basically the Master told His son-in-law (Shoghi Effendi's dad) to refer to his own son that way. Precedent also already existed, in that the Friends were only to name the Master and the Greatest Holy Leaf with honorifics, at the Blessed Beauty's instructions.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 18, 2012 - 2:07PM #29
Cascade
Posts: 11

Aw, think nothin' of it, mate. Honestly, I'm here for two things: seeing how other folks roll, religionwise, and the fun of theological debate, and in my zest for the latter I may not have realized that other folks were being more serious about the former, and if I've come across as disrespectful to anyone, I apologize.


(For the record, the wascalism comment was meant in a goodonya sort of way, because you made me think around corners to continue my argument. Even when I'm mad, namecalling ain't how I roll.)



Okay, now, earlier Kalzera mentioned Mormon folk who, I'm sure we can all agree, are by and large lovely human beings. However, and everyone please correct me if I'm wrong about this, Joseph Smith is not recognized by the Bahai Faith as a Manifestation of God.



My question here is this: Is it necessary for one to follow a path set by a Manifestation in order to reach a level of intimacy with the God comparable to that of one who has followed such a path? Can a sincere, devout Mormon, despite having no Manifestation to call his own, reach a state of communion comparable to that of a Bahai, Moslem or whatever, simply on the strength of his own spirit and desire for God? I realize that there's actually no comparing any two relationships with the God. I guess what I'm saying is, do you guys think that a lack of a Manifested Path presents an impassable barrier to growth and closeness to the Heart of All Worlds?



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2 years ago  ::  Apr 18, 2012 - 7:30PM #30
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,875

Apr 18, 2012 -- 2:07PM, Cascade wrote:

Aw, think nothin' of it, mate. Honestly, I'm here for two things: seeing how other folks roll, religionwise, and the fun of theological debate, and in my zest for the latter I may not have realized that other folks were being more serious about the former, and if I've come across as disrespectful to anyone, I apologize.


(For the record, the wascalism comment was meant in a goodonya sort of way, because you made me think around corners to continue my argument. Even when I'm mad, namecalling ain't how I roll.)



Okay, now, earlier Kalzera mentioned Mormon folk who, I'm sure we can all agree, are by and large lovely human beings. However, and everyone please correct me if I'm wrong about this, Joseph Smith is not recognized by the Bahai Faith as a Manifestation of God.



My question here is this: Is it necessary for one to follow a path set by a Manifestation in order to reach a level of intimacy with the God comparable to that of one who has followed such a path? Can a sincere, devout Mormon, despite having no Manifestation to call his own, reach a state of communion comparable to that of a Bahai, Moslem or whatever, simply on the strength of his own spirit and desire for God? I realize that there's actually no comparing any two relationships with the God. I guess what I'm saying is, do you guys think that a lack of a Manifested Path presents an impassable barrier to growth and closeness to the Heart of All Worlds?




Wow, now who's being serious! Cool


As to your question. Yes, that's pretty much it. The Manifestation is the only Face of God we get to see. And this is not a new teaching. The Christ was saying that when He said that He was the Alpha and the Omega and that we could only know God through Him. The Ancient Beauty was saying that in the Most Holy Book when He defined knowing God as recognizing His Manifestation and loving Him as obeying His Prophet for those times. All the Manifestaions of God are One and so disobeying the latest One is showing "... pride towards God from all eternity to all eternity." as it says in the Tablet of Ahmad.

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