Principles of the Baha'i Faith:

arthra

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I wanted to start a series on some of the principles of the Baha'i Faith and one that is particularly importnat to Baha'is I think is the Oneness of God:

Comments are welcome from anyone!

Here is a quote from Abdul-Baha:

"The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The prophets of God have been divine shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace."
     
(Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 14)


;)
 
There are many forms of the issue - so many meanings.

Among them - not polytheism, nor of multiple Gods, of the indivisible quality even of transcending number, of the transcendent relationship between the Prophets and God and with eachother....

"He, in truth, hath, throughout eternity, been one in His Essence, one in His attributes, one in His works. Any and every comparison is applicable only to His creatures, and all conceptions of association are conceptions that belong solely to those that serve Him. Immeasurably exalted is His Essence above the descriptions of His creatures. He, alone, occupieth the Seat of transcendent majesty, of supreme and inaccessible glory. The birds of men’s hearts, however high they soar, can never hope to attain the heights of His unknowable Essence. It is He Who hath called into being the whole of creation, Who hath caused every created thing to spring forth at His behest. Shall, then, the thing that was born by virtue of the word which His Pen hath revealed, and which the finger of His Will hath directed, be regarded as partner with Him, or an embodiment of His Self? Far be it from His glory that human pen or tongue should hint at His mystery, or that human heart conceive His Essence. All else besides Him stand poor and desolate at His door, all are powerless before the greatness of His might, all are but slaves in His Kingdom. He is rich enough to dispense with all creatures.

The tie of servitude established between the worshiper and the adored One, between the creature and the Creator, should in itself be regarded as a token of His gracious favor unto men, and not as an indication of any merit they may possess. To this testifieth every true and discerning believer."

"The essence of belief in Divine unity consisteth in regarding Him Who is the Manifestation of God and Him Who is the invisible, the inaccessible, the unknowable Essence as one and the same. By this is meant that whatever pertaineth to the former, all His acts and doings, whatever He ordaineth or forbiddeth, should be considered, in all their aspects, and under all circumstances, and without any reservation, as identical with the Will of God Himself. This is the loftiest station to which a true believer in the unity of God can ever hope to attain. Blessed is the man that reacheth this station, and is of them that are steadfast in their belief."
 
arthra said:
Here is a quote from Abdul-Baha:

"The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The prophets of God have been divine shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace."

;)

I don't think that anything could be further from the truth.

Is it not true that the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah caused a great rift in the peoples of Iran who were, up until that time, a fairly unified Shi'ite muslim community, all worshipping God. Even today, Bahai's are still persecuted in Iran because of the coming of these prophets.

The coming of Jesus initially caused the persecution of his followers, the Christians, who were until that time all Jews, followers of God. Later, Jesus' existence caused the crusades and the spanish inquisition. Hardly a call to universal peace.

Mohamed's coming brought war almost immediately, and after his death his followers began to convert huge sections of the world by the sword.

While it could sertainly be said that Abraham and Moses shepherded their people, every religious figure since who has claimed to speak for the Hebrew God has brought division and suffering to the world. All have claimed to bring Peace, but none have yet delivered.
 
Summoning to Universal Peace:

Hello my good friend "Awaiting"..and you are most welcome here!

In response to the passage I posted from Abdul-Baha:

"The function and purpose of a shepherd is to gather and not disperse his flock. The prophets of God have been divine shepherds of humanity. They have established a bond of love and unity among mankind, made scattered peoples one nation and wandering tribes a mighty kingdom. They have laid the foundation of the oneness of God and summoned all to universal peace."

Awaiting wrote:

I don't think that anything could be further from the truth.

Is it not true that the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah caused a great rift in the peoples of Iran who were, up until that time, a fairly unified Shi'ite muslim community, all worshipping God. Even today, Bahai's are still persecuted in Iran because of the coming of these prophets.

My comment to you dear friend:

In our view the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah unified the people of Iran and awakening their spiritual capacities uniting Zoroastrian, Jew, Christian and Moslem in a way they had not been unified before... Also the country of Iran which was then known as the Persian Empire had still not emerged from a dark age of medieval superstition, corruption and prejudices. Women were not then regarded as anything close to equal status with men... this much more on this topic that we could explore but I think the maoin topic hear was the oneness of God.

Awaiting:

The coming of Jesus initially caused the persecution of his followers, the Christians, who were until that time all Jews, followers of God. Later, Jesus' existence caused the crusades and the spanish inquisition. Hardly a call to universal peace.

Comment:

It's true there are parallels to the martyrdom of some twenty thousand Babis and the persecution of the early Christains... again space limits me here to respond fully.

I don't think my friend that many historians would agree with your statement:

"Jesus' existence caused the crusades and the spanish inquisition."

Muslims accept Jesus as well.

Awaiting:

Mohamed's coming brought war almost immediately, and after his death his followers began to convert huge sections of the world by the sword.

Comment:

The early Muslims were permitted by the Qur'anis Revealtion to use self defence when persecuted... as the Meccan pagans were trying to exterminate them. Most of the early battles were defensive in nature against the more powerful pagans.

It is true later than some misused and misinterpreted "Jihad".

Baha'u'llah abrogated Jihad and His followers are not permitted to use any force whatsoever to defend their Faith.

Awaiting...

While it could sertainly be said that Abraham and Moses shepherded their people, every religious figure since who has claimed to speak for the Hebrew God has brought division and suffering to the world. All have claimed to bring Peace, but none have yet delivered.

My comment:

I think you are entitled Awaiting to your belief but I detect something that we would have to part company on... There is no "Hebrew God" in our belief...only God...One God for Jews, Moslems, Christians, Zoroastrians. The Baha'is are working toward building the foundations of world peace and believe a world government with an international court of arbitration will held bring this about not through the Baha'is particualrly as we are still sucha minority but through the principles announced by Baha'u'llah well over a hundred years ago when He invited the then rulers to form a representative world parliament. For the most part they denied Him and thought it foolish... but a terrible price has been pain for their rejection... So it is not Baha'u'llah in our view Who brought about these wars that came later but the rulers and people responsible for the armaments and that they denied the call for peace and international arbitration.

Good points you've raised Awaiting.. hope you can share more soon!

- Art


:)
 
Meaning no offense, I'm afraid you couldn't be more wrong in your dismissal, which appears to be due to your taking too narrow a view of this.

The Baha'i scriptures explain the truth this way:

"My calamity is my providence: outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy."

What SEEMS like a tragedy is in fact quite the opposite! Such events ALWAYS have world-shaking consequences and thus can easily be misunderstood by those who don't understand the context.

Peace,

Bruce
 
Awaiting_the_fifth said:
I don't think that anything could be further from the truth.

Is it not true that the coming of the Bab and Baha'u'llah caused a great rift in the peoples of Iran who were, up until that time, a fairly unified Shi'ite muslim community, all worshipping God. Even today, Bahai's are still persecuted in Iran because of the coming of these prophets.

The coming of Jesus initially caused the persecution of his followers, the Christians, who were until that time all Jews, followers of God. Later, Jesus' existence caused the crusades and the spanish inquisition. Hardly a call to universal peace.

Mohamed's coming brought war almost immediately, and after his death his followers began to convert huge sections of the world by the sword.

While it could sertainly be said that Abraham and Moses shepherded their people, every religious figure since who has claimed to speak for the Hebrew God has brought division and suffering to the world. All have claimed to bring Peace, but none have yet delivered.

Yet to note history, Moses was a murderer, and according to the text a good number of Jews were killed for worshipping a golden calf, and Abraham sacrificed his wife to a mob, and then his daughter in law to God's punishment. I do not say these things to cast aspersions - but to note that every Founder of a Religion has had difficulties to overcome.

I had a similar discussion one time with an aetheist - that religions all speak of love and unity but if you check history there is much more violence associated with the Founders. It's true. But there are a few issues.

First, the Founders tend to poke at the corruption of the system of the day. Having a population relatively used to it become disrupted over the situation looks like it's the Founder's fault - but the standards raised were to raise the bar on what was ok and what was not.

In reflection on this issue another dynamic comes about - where is the problem? Consider the parallel with racism - who has the problem? The minority or the majority? If Jesus suffered it was the cause of the forces around Him in His day, not of His own fault. His choice was to not turn a blind eye.

Another point is of the violence done in Their Name.... Here we have many issues rolled around as if they were one. First, the difference between calling something to be and the actions of individuals - even individuals with authority - and also social norms of one area affecting another area as a scale of issue beyond the norms of difficulties most wrestled with in their day on top of dealing with any such issues in a period of war. Another issue has to do with the effectiveness of the spiritual guidance available when there is no central authority about what was and was not actually taught by the Founder. By the time of the Crucades there were two authorities in Christianity - and far from effectively pursuing raising the implimentation of the spiritual ideals, differing forms of reaching those goals were now in competition and estrangement. In Islam, at another period, the specifics differ but the result was essentially the same - at first there was but one Islam but then there were two, and then even more. And overall the effectiveness of the Moslem institutions to promote the spiritual ideals were hampered by eachother.

And whether individually, collectively, institutionally, whenever the emphasis isn't on the raising up of spiritual guidance, we have it's decay... and in the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha:

"It is true that there are foolish individuals who have never properly examined the fundamentals of the Divine religions, who have taken as their criterion the behavior of a few religious hypocrites and measured all religious persons by that yardstick, and have on this account concluded that religions are an obstacle to progress, a divisive factor and a cause of malevolence and enmity among peoples. They have not even observed this much, that the principles of the Divine religions can hardly be evaluated by the acts of those who only claim to follow them. For every excellent thing, peerless though it may be, can still be diverted to the wrong ends. A lighted lamp in the hands of an ignorant child or of the blind will not dispel the surrounding darkness nor light up the house—it will set both the bearer and the house on fire. Can we, in such an instance, blame the lamp? No, by the Lord God! To the seeing, a lamp is a guide and will show him his path; but it is a disaster to the blind."
 
Oneness of Humanity:

After the Oneness of God is the Baha'i principle of the Oneness of Humanity. Here again is a quote from a speech by Abdul-baha when He was visited the United States in 1912:

A fundamental teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind, He says, "Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch."

By this it is meant that the world of humanity is like a tree, the nations or peoples are the different limbs or branches of that tree, and the individual human creatures are as the fruits and blossoms thereof.

In this way Bahá'u'lláh expressed the oneness of humankind, whereas in all religious teachings of the past the human world has been represented as divided into two parts: one known as the people of the Book of God, or the pure tree, and the other the people of infidelity and error, or the evil tree.

The former were considered as belonging to the faithful, and the others to the hosts of the irreligious and infidel--one part of humanity the recipients of divine mercy, and the other the object of the wrath of their Creator.

Bahá'u'lláh removed this by proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity, and this principle is specialized in His teachings, for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.

______________________________

The Oneness of Humanity can also be applied to elimination of racial, class and religious prejudices that attempt to divide humanity in various ways.

- Art
:)
 
BruceDLimber said:
Meaning no offense, I'm afraid you couldn't be more wrong in your dismissal, which appears to be due to your taking too narrow a view of this.

The Baha'i scriptures explain the truth this way:

My view is taken from a (possibly mistaken) appraisal of historical events, yours is taken from your own religious texts. Who's view is narrow?

On the other hand, smkolins,

First, the Founders tend to poke at the corruption of the system of the day. Having a population relatively used to it become disrupted over the situation looks like it's the Founder's fault - but the standards raised were to raise the bar on what was ok and what was not.

good point, I must admit Id never looked at it that way.

But...

A lighted lamp in the hands of an ignorant child or of the blind will not dispel the surrounding darkness nor light up the house—it will set both the bearer and the house on fire.

A wise man would not leave the lamp in the hands of an ignorant child in the first place, and a blind man would have no use for it anyway.


As for the Oneness of humanity, I agree entirely, and I think that religions which do not share this view have been the cause of much of the world's pain.
 
Awaiting_the_fifth said:
A wise man would not leave the lamp in the hands of an ignorant child in the first place, and a blind man would have no use for it anyway.


As for the Oneness of humanity, I agree entirely, and I think that religions which do not share this view have been the cause of much of the world's pain.

And raising the structures/institutions which protect religion from the use of the foolish is something each religion has done - and been undone pretty much universally eventually. I don't think there are religions which do not share this view - I think they drift from their founding principles and practical efforts to obey such guidance become impossible. But the situation is not one of endless decay. Rather it is one of finite advancement and decay - punctuated by the establishment of further religions, minding that the Founders often were not specifically seaking to form a new religion but to continue the work of the old - "eternal" faith. But among the people, names are held by one group and relenquished by others.
 
Re: Oneness of Humanity:

arthra said:
After the Oneness of God is the Baha'i principle of the Oneness of Humanity. ...

...proclaiming the oneness of the world of humanity, and this principle is specialized in His teachings, for He has submerged all mankind in the sea of divine generosity. Some are asleep; they need to be awakened. Some are ailing; they need to be healed. Some are immature as children; they need to be trained. But all are recipients of the bounty and bestowals of God.

And indeed this has implications in a host of areas - this idea/reality reins in nationalism, endorses equality of the sexes, and vicerates any biological basis of the idea of race for example, and raises the spiritual values of humility and fellowship among others, and calls us to work to remove common practices which while untrue in reality, are never the less still finding ways to derange the character of individuals and society by promulgating evils like sexism and racism, etc.
 
Additional Onenesses:

It is common to hear among Baha'is the term the three onenesses... first the oneness of God; second the oneness of humanity and third the oneness of religion. Here are excerpts from an article on the concept of the unity of religions:

It should be clear from the passages quoted above that the Bahá'í principle of religious unity affirms the existence of a common transcendent source from which the world's religious traditions originate and receive their inspiration. As such, the Bahá'í view is remarkably similar to the thought of Frithjof Schuon, a Swiss scholar of religion who persuasively argues for what he terms the "transcendent unity of religions" which he claims is the foundation of and lies at the very heart of every religious tradition.

[ The Transcendent Unity of Religions (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1984). Even Schuon's phrase "transcendent unity" appears frequently throughout the writings of Bahá'u'lláh. See for instance Prayers and Meditations by Bahá'u'lláh (Wilmette, IL: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974), pp. 89, 192-193, 307, and 334.]

Like the Bahá'í Faith, Schuon holds that the religions of the world originate from the same ultimate source. "The Divine Will," writes Schuon, "has distributed the one Truth under different forms or, to express it in another way, between different humanities" or cultures.

[The Transcendent Unity of Religions, p. 17.]

Writing on the same subject and with similar language, Bahá'u'lláh insists that

"There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed."

For more information see

http://bahai-library.com/theses/religious.unity/religious.unity.02.html#fn12
 
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