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6 years ago  ::  Jan 26, 2008 - 11:02PM #1
Weeping_Willow
Posts: 4
I'm interested in learning about the Baha'i belief in an 'ever-advancing civilization.'
How do you define that?   It seems that the more we 'progress' in this world the more damage we cause to the environment and to a sense of community.   People seem to get more greedy, selfish, and materialistic as they 'develop'.    How do Bahai's reconcile material progress and advancement with spiritual progess?  Do you believe in a future technological utopia or do you think humanity needs to rediscover the virtues of simple living in accordance with the rhythms of nature?  Which vision is more 'advanced'?   Or do you have another vision altogether?
Thanks for your thoughts.
WW
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6 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2008 - 8:45PM #2
maxmar
Posts: 104
[QUOTE=Weeping_Willow;243802]I'm interested in learning about the Baha'i belief in an 'ever-advancing civilization.'
How do you define that?   It seems that the more we 'progress' in this world the more damage we cause to the environment and to a sense of community.   People seem to get more greedy, selfish, and materialistic as they 'develop'.    How do Bahai's reconcile material progress and advancement with spiritual progess?  Do you believe in a future technological utopia or do you think humanity needs to rediscover the virtues of simple living in accordance with the rhythms of nature?  Which vision is more 'advanced'?   Or do you have another vision altogether?
Thanks for your thoughts.
WW[/QUOTE]


I think the Baha'i Faith has very balanced view of an "ever-advancing civilization", really one of moderate sustained development, study & application of sciences & technology, along with the deveopment of spiritual values, both individually & collectively, as revealed by Baha'u'llah & explained by Abdu'l-Baha.

yes, i think it embodies 'simple living.   here's a quote on foods & doctors:

"At whatever time highly-skilled physicians shall have developed the healing of illnesses by means of foods, and shall make provision for simple foods, and shall prohibit humankind from living as slaves to their lustful appetites, it is certain that the incidence of chronic and diversified illnesses will abate, and the general health of all mankind will be much improved. This is destined to come about. In the same way, in the character, the conduct and the manners of men, universal modifications will be made.

135. According to the explicit decree of Bahá'u'lláh one must not turn aside from the advice of a competent doctor. It is imperative to consult one even if the patient himself be a well-known and eminent physician. In short, the point is that you should maintain your health by consulting a highly-skilled physician.

136. It is incumbent upon everyone to seek medical treatment and to follow the doctor's instructions, for this is in compliance with the divine ordinance, but, in reality, He Who giveth healing is God.

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 154)

The Baha'i Faith is a PRACTICAL FAITH where Baha'u'llah has encouraged us "to study arts and sciences as benefit mankind."

"The individual should, prior to engaging in the study of any subject, ask himself what its uses are and what fruit and result will derive from it.   If it is a useful branch of knowledge, that is, if society will gain important benefits from it, then he should certainly pursue it with all his heart.    If not, if it consists in empty, profitless debates and in a vain concatenation of imaginings that lead to no result except acrimony, why devote one's life to such useless hairsplittings and disputes."

    (Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 106)

MODERATION in all things is the key.

"Whoso cleaveth to justice, can, under no circumstances, transgress the limits of moderation.   He discerneth the truth in all things, through the guidance of Him Who is the All-Seeing. The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men. Thus warneth  you He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation. Meditate on this, O people, and be not of them that wander distraught in the wilderness of error. The day is approaching when its flame will devour the cities, when the Tongue of Grandeur will proclaim: "The Kingdom is God's, the Almighty, the All-Praised!"

All other things are subject to this same principle of moderation. Render thanks unto thy Lord Who hath remembered thee in this wondrous Tablet. All-Praise be to God, the Lord of the glorious throne."

    (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 341)


At a talk to a children's class in Chicago in 1913:
"You are the children of whom Christ has said, "Of such is the kingdom of God"; and according to the words of Bahá'u'lláh you are the very lamps or candles of the world of humanity, for your  hearts are exceedingly pure and your spirits most sensitive.   You are near the source; you have not yet become contaminated.   You are the lambs of the heavenly Shepherd.   You are as polished mirrors reflecting pure light.   My hope is that your parents may educate you spiritually and give you thorough moral training.   May you develop so that each one of you shall become imbued with all the virtues of the human world.   May you advance in all material and spiritual degrees. May you become learned in sciences, acquire the arts and crafts, prove to be useful members of human society and assist the progress of human civilization.   May you be a cause of the manifestation of divine bestowals -- each one of you a shining star radiating the light of the oneness of humanity toward the horizons of the East and West.   May you be devoted to the love and unity of mankind, and through your efforts may the reality deposited in the human heart find its divine expression. I pray for you, asking the assistance and confirmation of God in your behalf."
    (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 91)

I hope this has given you a glimpse of what Bahais are striving to do.
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2008 - 10:35PM #3
maxmar
Posts: 104
Baha'u'llah assures that the "Most Great Peace" will come to our planet, but we must do our part by working and striving to assist the process.      If we strive to be obedient to the laws of God, especially those of His most recent Manifestation, Baha'u'llah, this Golden Age of peace will come about, though it will be gradual because of man's stubborness and "perversity".   

".... that the purpose of the divine messengers and the revelation of the heavenly books and the establishment of the religion of God has been none other than to create amity and justice between the children of the races. True religion is the foundation of spiritual union, the union of thought, the union of susceptibilities, the unity of customs and the ideal chain binding together all the children of men. Through its practical realization, the minds and souls will receive development by divine instruction;  they will become assisted to investigate reality, attain to a lofty station of wisdom and establish the basis of a divine civilization.

There are two kinds of civilization, - material civilization which serves the physical world and divine civilization which renders service to the world of morality. The founders of the material, practical civilization are the scientists and investigators and the establishers of divine civilization are the celestial universal teachers.

True religion is the basis of divine civilization. Material civilization is like unto the body; divine civilization is like unto the spirit. A body without the spirit is dead, although it may be clothed in the utmost beauty and comeliness.

In short, by religion we mean those necessary bonds which have power to unify. This has ever been the essence of the religion of God. This is the eternal bestowal of God! This is the object of divine teachings and laws! This is the light of the everlasting life! Alas! A thousand times alas! that this solid foundation is abandoned and forgotten and the leaders of religions have fabricated a set of superstitions and rituals which are at complete variance with the underlying thought. As these man-made ideas differ from each other they cause dissension which breeds strife and ends in war and bloodshed; the blood of innocent people is spilled, their possessions are pillaged and their children become captives and orphans.

Thus religion which was destined to become  the cause of friendship has become the cause of enmity. Religion, which was meant to be sweet honey, is changed into bitter poison. Religion, the function of which was to illumine humanity, has become the factor of obscuration and gloom. Religion, which was to confer the consciousness of everlasting life, has become the fiendish instrument of death. As long as these superstitions are in the hands and these nets of dissimulation and hypocrisy in the fingers, religion will be the most harmful agency on this planet. These superannuated traditions, which are inherited unto the present day, must be abandoned, and thus free from past superstitions we must investigate the original intention. The basis on which they have fabricated the superstructures will be seen to be one, and that one, absolute reality; and as reality is indivisible, complete unity and amity will be instituted and the true religion of God will become unveiled in all its beauty and sublimity in the assemblage of the world.

... I say, "Tear asunder the veils and curtains of these dogmas, remove these accumulated, suffocating increments, dispel these dark impenetrable clouds, that the sun of reality may shine from the horizon of eternity."

Praise be to God that this century is the century of sciences! This cycle is the cycle of reality! The minds have developed; the thoughts have taken a wider range of vision; the intellects have become keener; the emotions have become more sensitized; the inventions have transformed the face of the earth, and this age has acquired a glorious capacity for the majestic revelation of the oneness of the world of humanity.

If the members of this honorable congress engage their deliberations upon the elucidation of the world of reality and disperse the darkness of doctrines which overshadow the devotees of the various shrines and which are contrary to the divine plan, undoubtedly this world will become another world; the earthly sphere will become the sphere of the kingdom; the world of humanity an arena for the display of truth; the rays of the sun of the realm on high will shine upon it; the east and west will become enlightened; all the various cults and sects become truth-seekers and speakers of reality; eternal institutions will be established in the human world, and day unto day the superstructure of the palace of the solidarity and the oneness of mankind will be raised to the loftiest pinnacle of heaven!

This is the hope of this exiled one! From the throne of the Almighty I beg for your assistance and confirmation, so that you may become strengthened to accomplish such a work, the feasibility of which has been considered impossible and utopian since the dawn of creation. May this work be accomplished through you, in this radiant century, with the utmost brilliancy and grandeur."

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 160)

"LXI. The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody."

    (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 118)
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6 years ago  ::  Sep 19, 2008 - 10:35PM #4
maxmar
Posts: 104
Baha'u'llah assures that the "Most Great Peace" will come to our planet, but we must do our part by working and striving to assist the process.      If we strive to be obedient to the laws of God, especially those of His most recent Manifestation, Baha'u'llah, this Golden Age of peace will come about, though it will be gradual because of man's stubborness and "perversity".   

".... that the purpose of the divine messengers and the revelation of the heavenly books and the establishment of the religion of God has been none other than to create amity and justice between the children of the races. True religion is the foundation of spiritual union, the union of thought, the union of susceptibilities, the unity of customs and the ideal chain binding together all the children of men. Through its practical realization, the minds and souls will receive development by divine instruction;  they will become assisted to investigate reality, attain to a lofty station of wisdom and establish the basis of a divine civilization.

There are two kinds of civilization, - material civilization which serves the physical world and divine civilization which renders service to the world of morality. The founders of the material, practical civilization are the scientists and investigators and the establishers of divine civilization are the celestial universal teachers.

True religion is the basis of divine civilization. Material civilization is like unto the body; divine civilization is like unto the spirit. A body without the spirit is dead, although it may be clothed in the utmost beauty and comeliness.

In short, by religion we mean those necessary bonds which have power to unify. This has ever been the essence of the religion of God. This is the eternal bestowal of God! This is the object of divine teachings and laws! This is the light of the everlasting life! Alas! A thousand times alas! that this solid foundation is abandoned and forgotten and the leaders of religions have fabricated a set of superstitions and rituals which are at complete variance with the underlying thought. As these man-made ideas differ from each other they cause dissension which breeds strife and ends in war and bloodshed; the blood of innocent people is spilled, their possessions are pillaged and their children become captives and orphans.

Thus religion which was destined to become  the cause of friendship has become the cause of enmity. Religion, which was meant to be sweet honey, is changed into bitter poison. Religion, the function of which was to illumine humanity, has become the factor of obscuration and gloom. Religion, which was to confer the consciousness of everlasting life, has become the fiendish instrument of death. As long as these superstitions are in the hands and these nets of dissimulation and hypocrisy in the fingers, religion will be the most harmful agency on this planet. These superannuated traditions, which are inherited unto the present day, must be abandoned, and thus free from past superstitions we must investigate the original intention. The basis on which they have fabricated the superstructures will be seen to be one, and that one, absolute reality; and as reality is indivisible, complete unity and amity will be instituted and the true religion of God will become unveiled in all its beauty and sublimity in the assemblage of the world.

... I say, "Tear asunder the veils and curtains of these dogmas, remove these accumulated, suffocating increments, dispel these dark impenetrable clouds, that the sun of reality may shine from the horizon of eternity."

Praise be to God that this century is the century of sciences! This cycle is the cycle of reality! The minds have developed; the thoughts have taken a wider range of vision; the intellects have become keener; the emotions have become more sensitized; the inventions have transformed the face of the earth, and this age has acquired a glorious capacity for the majestic revelation of the oneness of the world of humanity.

If the members of this honorable congress engage their deliberations upon the elucidation of the world of reality and disperse the darkness of doctrines which overshadow the devotees of the various shrines and which are contrary to the divine plan, undoubtedly this world will become another world; the earthly sphere will become the sphere of the kingdom; the world of humanity an arena for the display of truth; the rays of the sun of the realm on high will shine upon it; the east and west will become enlightened; all the various cults and sects become truth-seekers and speakers of reality; eternal institutions will be established in the human world, and day unto day the superstructure of the palace of the solidarity and the oneness of mankind will be raised to the loftiest pinnacle of heaven!

This is the hope of this exiled one! From the throne of the Almighty I beg for your assistance and confirmation, so that you may become strengthened to accomplish such a work, the feasibility of which has been considered impossible and utopian since the dawn of creation. May this work be accomplished through you, in this radiant century, with the utmost brilliancy and grandeur."

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 160)

"LXI. The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody."

    (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 118)
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5 years ago  ::  Apr 08, 2009 - 4:23PM #5
Sen_McGlinn
Posts: 101

I've put up a posting on this on my blog at


http://tinyurl.com/bahaicivilization


 


The short of it is : the 'civilization' that should be ever-advancing is 'the betterment of the world', and 'the world' includes the natural world;


the civilization that should be in moderation is a different word in the original, is has the connotation of city life. "If carried to excess" this kind of civilization will "exercise a pernicious influence upon men…"


 


 

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6 months ago  ::  Feb 01, 2014 - 7:51AM #6
in_my_opinion
Posts: 2,522

Jan 26, 2008 -- 11:02PM, Weeping_Willow wrote:

I'm interested in learning about the Baha'i belief in an 'ever-advancing civilization.' How do you define that? It seems that the more we 'progress' in this world the more damage we cause to the environment and to a sense of community. People seem to get more greedy, selfish, and materialistic as they 'develop'. How do Bahai's reconcile material progress and advancement with spiritual progess?


Material and spiritual progress are not contradictory. Both are necessary and complement each other. Spiritual advancement provides the goals and material advances provide the means with which to achieve them.


They also have a mutual healthy effects between them. For a pair of examples: science uproots superstition and religion encourages the pursuit of learning.

Do you believe in a future technological utopia or do you think humanity needs to rediscover the virtues of simple living in accordance with the rhythms of nature? Which vision is more 'advanced'? Or do you have another vision altogether?


Why should we be limited to any particular set of advances; the answer should be "all of the above and more"!

Thanks for your thoughts. WW


You're kind and most welcome; thanks for the insightful questions!

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