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Switch to Forum Live View Religious Synthesis With Awareness And Right Intent
3 years ago  ::  Mar 11, 2012 - 2:05PM #1
Cascade
Posts: 11
Hi, everybody!

Okay, basic premise: The God is infinite and ultimate, and therefore cannot be contained or completely explained by one religion, which is one of the reasons for the differing interpretations of the messages brought by the Manifestations down the years, and why there will never be a final Messenger. By our own admission as Bahais, we believe in the inherent validity of the vast majority of the world's religious thought and systems, so here comes the question:

Does anybody out there find it useful to incorporate the ideas or rituals of other religions into their understanding of the universal nature of the Bahai Faith?

For example, in the old Westerosi faith, God is conceptualized as one divine being in seven persons: The Father, The Mother, The Maiden, The Smith, The Crone, The Warrior and The Stranger, each a manifestation of God with different functions and purviews, but not separate gods. Now, I like this, and before I head to say, a job interview, I might light a candle to the Smith and the Father, to help me find a righteous profession and to be a just, proper man, respectively. It's not that I think this system is literally true, but it's a handy construct and when I use it I do so with full awareness of that fact. The God being infinite, I don't think anyone could definitively state that it's an invalid interpretation of the Divine, nor is any sincere attempt to understand the God in whatever way we can.

But that's just an example. Open up, folks. How have you brought the amazing diversity of the world's religions into your lives and hearts?
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3 years ago  ::  Mar 15, 2012 - 9:13PM #2
Kalzera
Posts: 260

More or less, it sounds like you're observing God in one of his roles. Muslims do that same thing with the "99 Names," and we have a similar concept with the titles of the months. That, an every time Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá open a prayer, they usually invoke God with one of his attributes ("The Most Merciful," "The Most Glorious," "Lord of Mercy," etc.).With all the Bahá'í emphasis on pursuing a job and contributing to society, I'm sure you could find a Bahá'í prayer to go along with that candle.


I haven't "decorated" my Faith with the customs of others, though, because I'm not really much for customs to begin with.


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 15, 2012 - 11:16PM #3
Cascade
Posts: 11

Fair enough! I'm a great one for ritual and symbolism, and I suppose this mightn't be a topic of terrible interest to one who isn't.



'Decorating'! I like that, though I might prefer 'perspective realignment' or something a bit less likely to imply superficiality. I don't adopt these things in a hollow manner; we all agree that each facet of the Endless Faith, each note of the Godsong is a legitimate expression of and link to the God, and so I feel that there is value in experiencing the systems that came before ours and possibly imagining those that might come after us. If, as has been suggested, there will never be a final Manifestation, it is conceivable that any ritual or method of worship might one day be part of a divine Message. I feel that sincerity in an attempt to connect with the Heart of the World trumps (for lack of a better term) the canonicity of the method used. 

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2012 - 6:05PM #4
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,996

"Look around and see how the world of today is drowned in superstition and outward forms!


Some worship the product of their own imagination: they make for themselves an imaginary God and adore this, when the creation of their finite minds cannot be the Infinite Mighty Maker of all things visible and invisible! Others worship the sun or trees, also stones! In past ages there were those who adored the sea, the clouds, and even clay!


Today, men have grown into such adoring attachment to outward forms and ceremonies that they dispute over this point of ritual or that particular practice, until one hears on all sides of wearisome arguments and unrest. There are individuals who have weak intellects and their powers of reasoning have not developed, but the strength and power of religion must not be doubted because of the incapacity of these persons to understand."


 (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143)


 

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 16, 2012 - 6:33PM #5
Cascade
Posts: 11

Wow. As glad as I am that everyone here feels free to tell me how wrong my system is, I actually started this thread to see how other people had personalized their faiths and relationships with the God, not defend the ways in which I have.


This was meant to be a positive thread about sharing and the exchange of ideas. Everyone is welcome to start another thread about how great sticking to one paradigm is, but I'll thank future posters to try and stick to the stated topic.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2012 - 1:52AM #6
Lilwabbit
Posts: 2,926

Cascade, I personally think it is beautiful how your heart is open to learn from various time-honoured religious traditions. It would however not be fair to state that other Bahá'ís are not open. Perhaps some of us felt a little prickle by your call to "open up", as if the rest of the Bahá'ís are some bigoted lot simply because they're not big on other religions rituals -- or any rituals for that matter.


Mar 15, 2012 -- 11:16PM, Cascade wrote:


Fair enough! I'm a great one for ritual and symbolism, and I suppose this mightn't be a topic of terrible interest to one who isn't.



The only thing with this is that the Bahá'í Faith, as attested by a number of Writings, is not big on rituals while remaining very big on symbolism. We shouldn't adopt ritualistic ways of religious observance aside from a few explicit commandments (symbolic rituals) that we know for sure come from God. Why? Because outward forms more often than not distract us from the pure transcendence beyond form that God is. And because they are mostly man-made and thereby flawed in their symbolism. Their symbolism is often palpably anthropomorphic while God is something far beyond.


Having said that, no Bahá'í will ever clobber you or interfere with your private life for lighting candles for the Smith as a symbolic gesture. Instead of feeling offended by sincere responses that are definitely not meant to hurt but to help, try to see where we're coming from. Maybe we can all learn from one another. I, for one, have learned from you that it is possible to see beauty in the symbolism of religious rituals from all religions albeit I won't be adopting them. For sure I will look at them with greater curiosity now.


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 17, 2012 - 5:01AM #7
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,996

Mar 16, 2012 -- 6:33PM, Cascade wrote:


Wow. As glad as I am that everyone here feels free to tell me how wrong my system is, I actually started this thread to see how other people had personalized their faiths and relationships with the God, not defend the ways in which I have.


This was meant to be a positive thread about sharing and the exchange of ideas. Everyone is welcome to start another thread about how great sticking to one paradigm is, but I'll thank future posters to try and stick to the stated topic.





Easy there, just quoted the Master, see?. Ya got a beef; you might take it up with Him, right?


On the other hand, since you asked about various models of practice ...


Paradigm shifts are cool, but dragging up old stuff can be a downer; where do we stop?


Shall we go back to the ancient polytheisms so thoroughly condemned by various Manifestations?


 Should we join in with racially supremacist neopagan ethnic notions?


Shall we drag up discredited ideologies that embraced Atheism in the last couple of centuries?


How about the inquisitions, enserfments and misogyny? hierarchy? asceticism? monasticism?


Which pantheon would we choose? the Greek? the Norse? How would we decide among them all?


Why not the new world ones like the the Olmec? the Maya? the Aztec?


A little violent and cruel, but not much more so than the Mesopotamians, eh?


Just asking, you know? Discussion implies hearing other views, doesn't it?


 

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2012 - 5:35AM #8
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,996

Time-honored denotes being respected due to antiquity.


However, many practices are clearly condemned and some expressly forbidden to us.


We cannot, for instance, submit ourselves to demands or promises that we bring up our children in another Faith just because the spouse-to-be is of another religion.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2012 - 2:31PM #9
Cascade
Posts: 11

Mar 17, 2012 -- 5:01AM, in_my_opinion wrote:


 Should we join in with racially supremacist neopagan ethnic notions?


Shall we drag up discredited ideologies that embraced Atheism in the last couple of centuries?


How about the inquisitions, enserfments and misogyny? hierarchy? asceticism? monasticism?


Which pantheon would we choose? the Greek? the Norse? How would we decide among them all?


Why not the new world ones like the the Olmec? the Maya? the Aztec?


A little violent and cruel, but not much more so than the Mesopotamians, eh?


Just asking, you know? Discussion implies hearing other views, doesn't it?




Discussion not only implies but requires hearing other views, elsewise it's just listening to the sound of one's own voice. In response to your specific concerns;


Racially-focused Neopaganism: Clashes with our One World, One People doctrine, so nope.


Atheism: Clashes with our stated belief in the God, so nope. Although I do think there's a lot we can learn from Humanism, which is not expressly atheistic but focuses on caring for the human family.


The Inquisitions, Enserfment and Misogyny: Clashes with nonviolence, equality of all peoples and equality of women, respectively, so nope. 


Hierarchy is forbidden if I recall correctly, as are asceticism and monasticism .


I would personally suggest trying to connect with a particular pantheon only if one really calls out to you. And in this vein, I think it's important to note that a number of superficially polytheistic systems, such as Hinduism, are ultimately monotheistic in that the gods they worship are emanations from and aspects of the single, ultimate God.


As for the religions that call for human sacrifice, well. If I thought for one instant you were genuinely suggesting such a thing I might be tempted to craft a rebuttal, but you're not, so I'm not. You're flipping my idea to show its flaws, which is good form and I salute you for it.  


To all and sundry, I apologize if I got a little spiky, but I did feel a bit under attack. There's nothing wrong with being devoutly, adamantly Bahai, as I feel I am myself, but a relationship with the God must be personalized in order to have meaning to the individual. 


That said: Friendly and polite conversation ahoy! Let's do this, gang.

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3 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2012 - 2:38PM #10
Cascade
Posts: 11

LilWabbit, I certainly never meant to imply that I thought Bahais as a whole were not open to ritual or symbolism, I just meant that if they weren't Kalzera's bag, well fair play to him.


I'm a man who digs systems, constructs and arrays. I like my religion and my thoughts organized, so having things like this in place helps me gather and clear my thoughts. And I think that acknowledging the artificial nature of these things can free up the heart to pump sincerity in without worrying about the validity of the ritual.


But you make an excellent point about our tendency to anthropomorphize the God. It's a hard thing to get past.


Thank you for your thoughts and kind words!



Cascade

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