St. Augustine

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by Postmaster, Jul 6, 2007.

  1. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    This Christian saint that lived about 354 - 430 was a convert from Manichaeism. Although Manichaeism may have nothing to do with the Baha'i there are similarities.

    The Prophet founders wrote vast amount of religious works themselves. (Unique to both)
    The Prophet founders were both Persian.
    They both believed that culture clouded religion.
    They both believed all religions and humanity were equal.
    They are and were both a universal religion.

    I'm trying to read up about St. Augustine’s life, trying and get into his mind, see why he left Manichaeism in favour of Christianity. What strikes me straight away about St. Augustine is that he does seem to be like one of those men in history that was way beyond his time, a very smart man, considering the time he was alive. Apart from other dodgy views of Manichaeism, it seems to me the social equality in Christianity is what attracted him firmly to it and what’s obvious is that he was an ultra pacifist.

    "I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden.''
    Saint Augustine

    I read somewhere that it was through St. Augustine that Christianity has Manichaeism concepts in it and played a role in Christianity’s late development.

    Here we have a quote from St. Augustine which appears to be quite Gnostic in thought.

    “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
    Saint Augustine

    To me this quote doesn’t belong in Christianity, as salvation in Christianity is open to everyone, not just those who have a learned elite knowledge. Contradictory, mysticism in Christianity is only acquired by an elite knowledge much the same way.

    It also seems St. Augustine was an observer of nature too.

    “We are certainly in a common class with the beasts; every action of animal life is concerned with seeking bodily pleasure and avoiding pain.”
    Saint Augustine
     
  2. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    "Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible".
    Saint Augustine

    "Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature".
    Saint Augustine

    "To seek the highest good is to live well".
    Saint Augustine

    I have afew links which I will read up.
     
  3. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Hi!

    I wouldn't say Baha'u'llah taught that culture "clouded religion," but rather that culture in its proper place is fine!

    Certainly culture or any other desire or attraction can interfere with religion IF IMPROPERLY USED, but I don't think there's any ipso facto problem with anything not obviously negative in its nature.

    Regards, :)

    Bruce
     
  4. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    thanks for clearing that, thats a better way of putting it and what I really ment.
     
  5. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    I'm quite amazed at some of his quotes, because he seems like a keen observer of the laws of nature and attraction. Something Leonardo Di Vinci was well known for.

    I gather St. Augustine practised abstinence.

    "He that is jealous is not in love".
    Saint Augustine

    Yet he makes quite a good philosophy observation towards relationships here. It took me till the age of 19 and a broken down partnership with a girl to realise this.
     
  6. KarimK

    KarimK New Member

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    I agree 100% on the social equality thing. There's this beautiful part in the Confessions about stealing and divine justice. I'll have to look it up and post it, but he basically says that if a poor man, dying of hunger, steals to feed himself, his family, then he has, true, wronged human laws, but as regards the laws of God he is completely innocent. (One of the arguments I really like - although it's totally debatable is : God obviously didn't put us on Earth so that we'd die of hunger)



    I don't think this has anything to do with salvation. I think he's talking specifically of knowledge and how to attain it. Descartes used this image also : the World is as a huge book.


    Oooh, don't forget THAT quote :
    "What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know."

    Augustine formulated, better than anyone else, the problem of the nature of time and our understanding of it. That's funny, about Christian philosophers, they ask all the right questions and don't usually give the good answers :D

    I think part of what made him convert to Catholicism is his disgust (eventually) of his life, and I think a close friend of his died and this really played a part in making him convert. Usually, when people convert, it's not on a rational basis. The rational stuff comes after. They convert at first because of something deeper and more instinctive tells them to. I honestly don't know a lot about Augustine's life, but I think that it applies to him. It's not exactly that he thought Christianity was more adapted to his thoughts, it must have been something less rational and had more to do with a gut-feeling.

    On that last thing, I might be totally wrong. Hm, I should ask one of my teachers who did a thesis of Augustine, maybe she has interesting info.

    Oh, and how is this relevant to the Baha'i faith? :confused:
     
  7. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    Any religious scripture is likely welcome in this forum as they are all accepted as divinly inspired.
     
  8. KarimK

    KarimK New Member

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    I meant : how is Augustine himself relevant to the Baha'i faith? :)
     
  9. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    I explained at the start of my post. :) There was a point when St. Augustine thought all religions were equally divinly inspired too.
     
  10. Mick

    Mick World Citizen

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    Independent investigation for the Truths of God is a cornerstone of the Baha'i Faith. Pondering St. Augustine or others is probably one of the exercises that one may go through. Personally I find this sort of historical pondering interesting.

    Mick
     
  11. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Re: St. Augustine/Mani

    Hi Postmaster,


    Here is the story as given by Francis Grant in his "Oriental Philosophy":
    The Enc. Britannica says his dates are 215/6-274. This is interesting
    because some give 215 as the start of the astrological age of Pisces-
    Robert Powell in his "Hermetic Astrology" gives 215 to 2375 as the dates
    for the Piscean age.

    The name of his father is Patek who had joined a religious community
    practising abstinence and baptism. Through his mother he was related to the Parthian royal family (overthrown in 224).
    The name of the Angel is "Twin" here.

    I could continue with more of the stories later.

    -Br. Bruce
     
  12. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Probably the discussion about Saint Augustine belongs in the Christian Forum...

    I note that my friend Postmaster seems to be drawn to the idea that Manichaeism and Baha'i Faith are somehow connected... There are no historical connections however.

    Saint Augustine eventually renounced Manichaeism and became a major thinker in the Christian church so that discussion is probably better served elsewhere.

    - Art
     
  13. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    There might not be a direct historical connections but there is an indirect through sufism and Islam.

    Just to correct my above post St. Augustine had a son.
     
  14. Thomas

    Thomas Super Moderator Staff Member

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    It might be of some use to note that St Augustine abandoned Manichaeism in favour of Neoplatonism — he studied Plotinus under St Ambrose of Milan — and was instrumental in utilising the Greek philosophical tradition as a means of reasoning the data of Revelation of the Christian tradition.

    Anyone interested in trivia: St Augustine is quoted more than any other (after Scripture itself) in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, followed by St Thomas Aquinas.

    St Thomas references St Augustine, and notably Dionysius the pseudoAreopagite, extensively, both Neoplatonists, which rather dents the argument that St Thomas was a strict Aristotelian.

    Among St Thomas' philosphical sources were the great Moslem philosophers Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Ibn Sina (Avicenna), whose commentaries on Aristotle the Angelic Doctor studied in detail and mentions with profound respect in his great philosophical treatises.

    It's a small world ...

    Thomas
     

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