When the next prophet comes?

Discussion in 'Baha'i' started by iBrian, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. kkawohl

    kkawohl Well-Known Member

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    Hi Brian,
    Often the spirit of God works “behind the scenes” and we do not realize its presence or even that it was there. Are you puzzled why you had your spiritual experience at age 18? I was mystified why you, an aspiring author who claims not to be Theist or Pantheist but somewhere undefined would be involved in a comparative religion interfaith forum. Everyone’s life has a purpose, yet many waste their lives without realizing what their purpose was.

    The purpose is not to dismiss anyone religious viewpoint, but to have logic and rationality be the main basis therein. Today everyone would benefit if radical Muslims realized that their efforts would not be rewarded by God/Allah. What are the benefits of abiding by the antiquated concept of a human-like man God who promotes slavery and desires servitude from man? Mankind would be better off with a God who is not a ruler or a dictator but one who guides the universe; a spiritual unity of pure logic & rationality without any needs. God is self-sufficient and needs nothing from man.

    Many radical Muslim clerics and Muslim fundamentalists still abide by verses in the Koran where Allah commands them to expand Islam by any means possible. This is causing problems in areas of Chechnya, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and other regions.

    One can of course find a million reasons why religious rationality wouldn’t work, but consider this: If religious radicals would eventually (in 100 years?) be considered mentally deficient, would they eventually disappear? I know, the present system has existed for several thousand years & will not change easily, but every new development began with the first step.

    A little over two years ago, at age 60, I was subjected to 2 spiritual experiences that dumped a task unto me for which I was not academically prepared for. I wrote a very mediocre book called “Transcendentalism - A New Revelation”. I would love to have someone rewrite it in their name using the rationality concept. I would even consider paying for the publishing costs.

    Namaste,
    Kurt Kawohl
     
  2. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    Hi, Brian! :)

    I'm afraid you're overstating here.

    Distortions of many books can indeed be used to manufacture false "justifications," but some--and the Baha'i scriptures in particular!--are extremely hard, if not impossible, to misuse in this manner!

    Indeed, I think you would be hard pressed to find any way of "interpreting" them to endorse--let alone to advocate or justify!--hatred, aggression, or even harsh language.

    And here once again, the very nature of the Baha'i Faith operates entirely contrary to this because partian politics is not only frowned on but outright fobidden to Baha'is! The system we have is world-wide and fully democratic, but quite eliminates any hint of divisiveness or even ego from its operation. Again, there is no way I can see that it can be twisted to endorse such things--or even allow them!

    (You may or may not already be famliar with how the Baha' adminstrative system works in order to achieve its unific goals. If not, please let me know, and I'll be most happy to describe how it works. . . .)

    Best! :)

    Bruce
     
  3. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    spiritual experiences

    Most spiritual experience stretch us. But none of them take place despite our state of growth or independent of our understanding. You don't hear of near death experience so Hindus seeing Jesus or Christians seeing Buddha. I would contend that the primary reason is that one must filter reality through perception and the presense of holiness is perceived through whatever channels meaningfully leveraged those experiences in your life whether in a cat, a blue sky, some friends, a book, abstract concepts, whatever. A simple excercise is to take one thing and get as many views of it by different people as possible. Some see this, others that, some don't care, others see God....

    Now all that being true one can indeed be guided even as we miss the true sources.
     
  4. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    Baha'i Faith and SciFi/Fa

    Hey Brian, I perceive some interest in scifi/fa....

    You might find some interest in a couple things. One is a couple short stories by Tom Ligon published in Analog magazine - You can read some online details. Tom isn't a Baha'i.

    But there is a Baha'i author of Scifi/fa (both actually.) Her name is Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. She's written many (I'ld guess over a dozen) published short stories in Analog and Interzone and has four novels of her own(_The Meri_ series and another seperate work _The Spirit Gate_) and a semi-collabarative work _Magic Time_. Some of her stuff has tons of Baha'i reference explicitly and other times its just not distringuishable. The earlier books can be bought used pretty cheap. She and her husband are also musicians (specializing in "filk" paradies.)
     
  5. kkawohl

    kkawohl Well-Known Member

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    How do you touch and feel without emotion or sense; which is spirit; without having it recorded by your subconscious where the spirit resides? The spirit is spirit and not a religious force and is neither heaven sent, nor heaven inspired, though some people via deep meditation can have their spirit interact with God’s spirit. Sentience is the ability to sense, capability of feeling, consciousness. The spirit is in the subconscious and often controls what one writes and thinks. The soul and spirit are often considered identical, though the soul has also been referred to as the vessel for the spirit.

    The only physical effect that we can derive from the Spirit of God is by way of us receiving inspirations and blessings. In order to accomplish this, lines of communication through righteous living, need to be established between our spirit and the Spirit of God during our lifetime in order for our soul to survive after our physical demise. Any soul or spirit, upon a person's physical death, that does not bond or is not transmitted by us and received by the Supreme Spirit ceases to exist.

    Spiritual transcendence of a person's spirit into a Dimensional Beyondness was achieved by most well known religious leaders. Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus, Muhammad, Krishna, Bahá'u'lláh, Ahmad, Nanak and many others of various faiths had achieved spiritual enlightenment by mastering the art of spiritual transcendence. Many have changed the course of mankind. Social norms during the time period of their lives dictated their and their society's acceptance of a spiritual existence or a Supreme Spirit of Purity, (a God) of either, might, royalty, peace, or government.

    Kurt
     
  6. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    I would suppose that of all those who strive for "purity of heart, freedom of spirit, and chastity of soul" none match the Great Prophets, however much the world oppresses them and kills them, they succeed and *are* pure, free and chaste.
     
  7. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    To be completely honest, Bruce, I think it is merely a question of time. Baha'i has not yet had to face any potentially divisive issues. But if Baha'i is anything like any other world religion in its history (and there is nothing to recommend that it won't develop apart from that) then eventually Baha'i will face it's own paradigm shifts and schisms.

    Baha'is may try their best to create a political Utopia, but human experience dictates that at some point it will come crashing down on itself. That is presuming that it ever reaches a significant enough size and influence to be forced with facing the decisive issues that crack it.

    I realise that Baha'i members may not at all agree with this statement - and it's not my intention to start dictating how people think - I merely express an opinion. But if Baha'is really do look at the wider development of humanity as they say they do, and as I do, then you'll see your still in a honeymoon period of faith.

    And at some later point - when Baha'i touches on the right (or wrong) sort of global issues, or else undergoes some form of theological evolution, then Baha'i as a movement can only splinter from the original dictates. Perhaps Bah'u'llah could recognise this, which is precisely why Baha'is need to watch for a new prophet in around 1000 years time - to correct and guide the faith from its own schisms. But, again, if history is anything to go by, anyone claiming to be the new prophet for an old religion simply creates yet new schism.

    Not criticism, merely opinion.

    Oh - and thanks for the recommendation, smkolins. :)
     
  9. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    On the contrary, Brian: our scriptures promise us that by remaining faithful to the Baha'i Covenant (which is quite explicit in its unific laws and commands), the Bahai' Faith will be protected from schism!

    And while our scriptures are fixed and will remain unvarying until the appearance of another Divine Messenger centuries from now, our administrative system itself includes a body authorized to tule on any new questions and issues not covered in our scriptures. (It can later abrogate its own decisions if conditions warrant.)

    So the Baha'i Faith combines both unity and flexibility in a God-sent system which we are confident will indeed avoid these past pitfalls! :)

    Indeed, ever since its inceptiion, there have been numerous attempts to topple and split the Baha'i Faith! But it's worth noting that NONE of these has ever succeeded--and in fact, NO such attempted split has ever endured beyond a single lifetime! Those attempting to cause the splits both become obvious in their ulterior motives and contradiction of clear statements in the Baha'i scriptures, and often undergo further splintering themselves before their final disappearance. . . .

    So I put it to you that what you're witnessing in the unity of the Baha'i Faith is far more than a mere "honeymoon perioc," and does indeed show every evidence of persisting and remaining whole and unsullied!

    When unity, love, harmony, and concord are (and remain) one's primary goal, this makes a HUGE difference! :)

    Peace,

    Bruce
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Ah, but so much of Baha'i at the moment reminds me of early Christianity before the 4th century. True, there are important differences, but I can't help but see certain similarities - not least the reverence of the written word, and the enthusiasm and sense of change. Perhaps it is only a matter of time.
     
  11. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    reminds me of early Christianity

    "Reflect upon the past events of the time of Christ, and the present events shall become clear and manifest." -Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá, selection 147.
     
  12. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    early schisms

    This has been thought about some - for example the book The Brilliant Proof examines several ways the Baha'i Faith may face these challenges with different strengths -
    " Thus one of the explicit commands of this great Manifestation is the ordinance abrogating differences which separate men. It is because one of the occasions of dissension is difference of scholars with regard to the station of the Manifestation of the Cause. In former religions, even as testified by history, it has become evident that when in a question of this kind a difference has arisen between two doctors of religion, both parties were firm in their standpoints and held tenaciously to their sides, while the laity, according to their usage, would adhere some to one and some to the other, thus closing the doors to agreement and unity to such an extent that religious fraternity was changed into deep and bitter enmity, scientific dissension terminating in bloody strife and warfare. This is illustrated by differences which arose between Arius the priest and Alexander the Bishop of Constantinople, regarding the Trinity, in the fourth century, a.d.; also the Nestorian differences which took place in the fifth century between Nestorius the Bishop of Constantinople and the other bishops, which caused terrible wars and the shedding of precious blood. The effect of these sad dissensions has lasted until the present day. These are clear proofs and evidences for the point at issue."



    Good luck with the reading!
     
  13. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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  14. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    a Prophet can be a woman

    "Know thou moreover that in the Day of Revelation were He to pronounce one of the leaves to be the manifestation of all His excellent titles, unto no one is given the right to utter why or wherefore, and should one do so he would be regarded as a disbeliever in God and be numbered with such as have repudiated His Truth."SÚRIY-I-VAFÁ (Tablet to Vafá) ((par. 66))

    "leaves" is a term applied to women believers in the Baha'i Writings - as exemplified by "`Abdu'l-Bahá's supreme joy is in observing that a number of leaves from among the handmaidens of the Blessed Beauty have been educated...."here.

    And "most excellent titles" is not a random phrase - as in "...He Who, among the Concourse on high, beareth the most excellent titles, and Who, in the kingdom of creation, is called by the name of God, the Effulgent, the All-Glorious." Tablet to the Czar and "...Him Whom Thou hast set over Thy most excellent Titles, and through Whom Thou hast divided between the godly and the wicked..."posted here and "The Person of the Manifestation hath ever been the representative and mouthpiece of God. He, in truth, is the Day Spring of God's most excellent Titles, and the Dawning-Place of His exalted Attributes." posted here
     
  15. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Baha'is never had a "honey moon"!

    I, Brian wrote:

    Baha'is may try their best to create a political Utopia, but human experience dictates that at some point it will come crashing down on itself. That is presuming that it ever reaches a significant enough size and influence to be forced with facing the decisive issues that crack it.

    Reply:

    Actually Bruce, Baha'is are not trying to create a "political utopia". We're not even involved in partisan politics and there are no Baha'i parties nor do we support any political parties... All we've been told is that such things as a world governmnet will eventually come about NOT from our efforts but from political entities. In our literature this is called the "lesser or political peace" which will be followed by later stages.

    Bruce:

    I realise that Baha'i members may not at all agree with this statement - and it's not my intention to start dictating how people think - I merely express an opinion. But if Baha'is really do look at the wider development of humanity as they say they do, and as I do, then you'll see your still in a honeymoon period of faith.

    Reply:

    Well Bruce it's nice to read you feel we're in the "hone moon period of faith"...Truth is we've never had a "honey moon"! It's been a life and death struggle from the very beginning and against the greatest of odds the Faith has survived and emerged stronger than ever... We believe that opposition will only continue as the Faith becomes better established and in our Writings we're told that such opposition as in the past will provide us with even greater opportunities for growth and advancement.

    Bruce:

    And at some later point - when Baha'i touches on the right (or wrong) sort of global issues, or else undergoes some form of theological evolution, then Baha'i as a movement can only splinter from the original dictates. Perhaps Bah'u'llah could recognise this, which is precisely why Baha'is need to watch for a new prophet in around 1000 years time - to correct and guide the faith from its own schisms. But, again, if history is anything to go by, anyone claiming to be the new prophet for an old religion simply creates yet new schism.

    Reply:

    Baha'u'llah only claimed to be the Manifestation of God for this day... and was the fulfillment we believe of past prophesies. Your note that "anyone claiming to be the new prophet for an old religion simply creates yet new schism" is interesting though, since the Baha'i Faith is not an "old religion" but the newest one. Something I recall from the Gospel is reminiscent of this principle:

    "No one pours new wine into old bottles or "skins"..."

    Matthew 9:17

    - Art
     
  16. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Just a quick note - athra, I think you've confused Bruce with myself there - it is indeed my own comments you were responding to, rather than Bruce's. Just to clear things up. :)

    No, but the political system practised within Baha'i is highly praised here as an example of politics working. My suggestion is that it's an idealism that has not been sufficiently tested. After all, a commune can work very well with 6 peaople - but not when 60 million are to be involved. Point being the Baha'i system has possibly yet to be properly tested under real political conditions.

    The point about the "honeymoon" comment is precisely that - a period of strong and unified faith. Again, though, there seems to have been little to really test the degree of this unity.

    Exactly, it is neither Christianity, nor Islam - it creates a new doctrine in competition with them. Yet both Christians and Muslimas expect their faith to be fulfilled and completed somewhat with the return of their awaited prophets - this is something that Baha'i as a faith has not given them.

    Although no doubt you have converts from both, overall Baha'i is not accepted as the fulfillment of those religions by those religions themselves. That is a very important part of my point.
     
  17. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Baha'i

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    "Little?!"

    Over 20,000 martyrdoms for the Faith (200 in the past two decades) constitute "little" to test us?!

    You will forgive me, I trust, if I find this comment silly at best. . . .

    The problem being, of course, insistence on literal fulfillment when spiritual fulfillment is in fact the rule!

    This is why the Jews never accepted Jesus: because He didn't literally fulfill the prophecies in question. Please beware lest you reject Baha'u'llah for exactly the same reason!

    Which isn't the least surprising, tragic though it may be! There is regrettably a consistent pattern of the various religions having rejected the next one to appear, so it's hardly surprising that this pattern has continued. . . .

    Peace,

    Bruce
     
  18. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    I mean that Baha'i as a faith has not been forced into a position of conflict regarding it's own principles. This is something that has eventually happened to other big faiths as their influence has increased.
     
  19. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    Tests and fulfillments:

    I, Brianwrote:

    Just a quick note - athra, I think you've confused Bruce with myself there - it is indeed my own comments you were responding to, rather than Bruce's. Just to clear things up. :)

    Reply:

    And you can call me "Art".

    Actually I was aware they were your comments Brian as Administrator here and had not confused you with Bruce.... Apologies though to both of you Bruce and Brian! Must have been a "senior moment"!

    Brian wrote:

    No, but the political system practised within Baha'i is highly praised here as an example of politics working. My suggestion is that it's an idealism that has not been sufficiently tested. After all, a commune can work very well with 6 peaople - but not when 60 million are to be involved. Point being the Baha'i system has possibly yet to be properly tested under real political conditions.

    My reply:

    Actually Brian we don't praise our administrative system as a political system at all... The administrative order is our internal system of government within our Faith.

    It has been tested though since it's establishment by the Guardian of the Baha'i Faith in the late twenties which is about seventy or so years and is tested in thousands of communities all over the world and is working quite well. The administrative has been challenged since it's inception but as I pointed out earlier the challenges only strengthened it. You might read some about the history of our Faith.

    Brian wrote:

    The point about the "honeymoon" comment is precisely that - a period of strong and unified faith. Again, though, there seems to have been little to really test the degree of this unity.

    My reply:

    The tests to our unity has indeed occurred historically as above and i invite you to explore that... In each case the faith has maintained it's unity. Such tests have come to our Faith through past defections and attacks that have occurred since its inception.

    Brian:

    Exactly, it is neither Christianity, nor Islam - it creates a new doctrine in competition with them.

    Reply:

    We really see ourselves Brian as a fulfillment of previous dispensations and not in competition with them ...more as a continuation of same religion of God. So the Baha'i Faith is spiritually at one with Christianity and Islam but with updated institutions and principles that meet the challenges of the modern world.

    Brian:

    Yet both Christians and Muslimas expect their faith to be fulfilled and completed somewhat with the return of their awaited prophets - this is something that Baha'i as a faith has not given them.

    Reply:

    But this is precisely what we Baha'is would maintain that the Bab and Baha'u'llah was the fulfillment of the prophecies of Christainity and Islam. From our view has been fulfillment of scriptures and prophecies. Perhaps you could elucidate on your feelings on this?

    Brian:

    Although no doubt you have converts from both, overall Baha'i is not accepted as the fulfillment of those religions by those religions themselves. That is a very important part of my point.

    Reply:

    Yes you're correct Moslems, Jews and Christians and Zoroastrians are becoming Baha'is and obviously they probably do recognize the Baha'i Faith as the fulfillment of the past dispensations... So far as I know there will always be Moslems and Christians in this world who will feel we are not a fulfillment but who says there has to be a certain number or percentage to accept as a criteria for this. Does Christianity have to have a certain percentage of Jewish converts to claim it is a fulfillment of Judaism? And does Islam have to have a certain percentage of Christian converts to claim it is the fulfilllment of Christianity? By the way, Baha'is do believe Christianity was a fulfillment of Judaism and that Islam was a fulfillment of what went before...

    - Art
     
  20. smkolins

    smkolins Bahá'í

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    troubles in history

    It is true that the Baha'i Faith has not had the challenge of dealing with a majority of a population or populations. However one can glean some references on how the Baha'i Faith may do in such circumstances by looking at the challenges it has already gone through.

    At every major change in the leadership of the Baha'i Faith there has been challenge. From the passing of Baha'u'llah to the passing of 'Abdu'l-Baha to the passing of Shoghi Effendi to the establishment of the Universal House of Justice specific challenges were met and passed by the vast (98% plus) majority of the Baha'is in a unified body. Across this period the vast majority of the scripture has been secure - against active attempts to steal or forge documents. Not all the documents are in our hands, so to speak, but we have verified copies of the vast majority. Verbal traditions aside from authenticated documents have been clasified and clearly have no significant authority in the Faith (though they can be interesting.)

    Compare that 150 years with early Christianity and Islam. What were the challenges Christianity and Islam suffered and how well did they pass?

    Islam's major devision happened but 40 some years after it was founded with the assassintation of Ali (and then the murder of Husayn, his younger son.) Islam has never recovered though the names of the sides have changed. Islam was sundered. It still managed to do tremendous good in the world but there have also been significant problems. However it's scripture was secure - none questioned the content (though they did question the order of the surihs.) An adjunt to the scripture is the hadith or authenticated traditions - these began in the first century and some have lead to problems or appeared to be contradictory.

    Christianity's problems that first century plus - there were challenges to the leadership but those were largely overcome until 1054AD. Some challenges in the 3-600AD period were significant but they were all overcome, not without implications but nevertheless there aren't any Arians today (in any direct sense.) In addition the veracity of the New Testament has been the object of endless speculation and research. Some parts seem highly authenticated while others are highly desputed, not to mention the apocrypha which itself falls into perhaps mildly reputable down to the laughable. Indeed the body of the New Testament formed well into or late this first century and wasnt adopted by the host of Christianity for another couple centuries. Verbal traditions were mixed with the documents (in fact may have generated the documents themselves.) And while as in Islam it is certain attempts were made to authenticate these verbal traditions they were never the less a source of difference - letters from one or another Apostle speaking of problems from followers of other Apostles and such.

    One can also look at the adminstrative structures and principles of the Faiths and compare them for clues as to how history may play out.

    Islam had little or no authorized scheme accepted for the leadership of the community to succeed from person to person - it may have had one but the general body of beleivers didn't or weren't lead to believe it. Having none ones were made up and competed and through time the splintering of the leadership has continued.

    Christianity had a vague statement affirming Peter and electing Apostles perhaps. While the primacy of Peter may have allowed for a heritage of his Apostlic position it is this very issue which ultimately broke Christianity in half, albeit many many years later. Having broken it can really only continue to break - no side of the multitudes of denominations really has the authority to disolve or change doctrine in order to resolve differences.

    The Baha'i Faith has had specific authorized documents outlining specific individuals picked or rules by which a person can be picked. All the rules have been followed down to today and the remaining institution, the Universal House of Justice, is elected in precise form per the authorized instructions laid out since 1963. Were the membership of the House to be disabled or killed, rules exist for their replacement as they do at National and local levels.

    In point of fact the Baha'i Faith has all the advantages either Islam or Christianity had in years past, but has a better scheme by which to hold it all together. In a prophetic sense, it is the "day which shall not be followed by night" (cf Rev 21:25.) This doesn't mean there wont be problems. Humans have always been ornery. But not all problems end with division and strife. Even in marriages in these difficult times 50% last!
     

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