A COMPILATION OF
COMMENTARIES ON THE BAHA'I
THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HEREIN, EXCEPT AS NOTED, ARE THOSE OF THE EDITOR.
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SECTIONS AND SUBJECTS DISCUSSED
>ECONOMIC INJUSTICE GROWS WORSE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
>BAHA'I TEACHINGS ON ECONOMICS DO NOT GO TO EITHER EXTREME OF
EXCESSIVE SOCIALISM OR MODERN DAY CAPITALISM.
>BAHA'IS WHO LEAD THE "SHEEP" ASTRAY
>TABLET OF THE HOLY MARINER INTERPRETED DIFFERENTLY IN EACH OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITIES
>BELIEFS IN REINCARNATION
>SOUL AND BODY--THE END OF NIGHT AND THE BEGINNING OF DAY
>PURITY OF OUR SOULS AT BIRTH-THE BEGINNING OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
>LOVE IS THE REASON FOR CREATION
>LESSER PEACE, MOST GREAT PEACE, 1963, 2001, ETC.
>RISING TIDE OF SLANDER AND BACKBITING IN OUR SOCIETY
..>ANTHROPOMORPHISM, MAKING GOD IN OUR IMAGE
>DISTINCT ADVANTAGE OF HUMILITY VS EGOCENTRICITY
>MILLIONS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OR THE LATEST MANIFESTATION.
>NOISES AND SYMBOLS
>OLD PARADIGMS AND THE FUTURE
>PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION
.>MORPHOGENESIS - OBSERVATIONS
.>THE COURAGE AND HUMILITY REQUIRED IN THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
>HIGH IQ AND HIGHER LEARNING CAN BE A BOUNTY OR A CURSE
.>SHOGHI EFFENDI SPEAKS OF THE COMING MANIFESTATION IN HAIFA NOTES
>FUNDAMENTALIST THINKING IN SCIENCE AND RELIGION
>STRIVING FOR FAME - HAVING OUR NAMES REMEMBERED ON EARTH
>THE PLASMA THEORY OF HANNES ALFVEN AND THE BIG BANG
.>IDEAS ABOUT TEACHING THE FAITH
.>THE LAWS OF LIFE AND THE LAWS OF GOD
.>THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH, REASON AND FAITH
>IN A BAHAI FORUM RON HOUSE WROTE----
>CONCERNING THE MANY CONNOTATIONS OF THE WORD LOVE
>SEPARATION FROM THE GUARDIANSHIP FORETOLD
>WISHING DOES NOT MAKE IT SO, NOR DOES WHAT WE HAPPEN TO BELIEVE NECESSARILY COINCIDE WITH REALITY.
>SACRIFICE AND TESTS ESSENTIAL TO SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
>IF TESTS WERE NOT DIFFICULT THEY MIGHT NOT REALLY BE TESTS
>PERSONAL INTERPRETATION, INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH AND THINKING
>MORE ON TESTS AND TRIBULATIONS
>THE CALAMITY HAS ALREADY ARRIVED FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. THE FAILURE OF COMPASSION AND JUSTICE IN THE WORLD
>RELIGION AND SPIRIT, CONNOTATIONS
>FAITH, BELIEF, STEADFASTNESS
>SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT SUBTLE ENERGIES
>COMMUNICATION WITH THOSE ON THE NEXT LEVEL OF EXISTENCE
.>BIODIVERSITY SHRINKS AS FARM BREEDS DIE OUT
>ECONOMY AND ECOLOGY ARE OUT OF SYNC (ENVIRONMENTALIST)
>NON EXISTENCE AND THE DEGREES OF EXISTENCE
>FOLLOWERS OF "ANCIENT WISDOM" FROM THE EAST
.>PRAY FOR A PEACE BASED ON JUSTICE AND COMPASSION
>THE WORD OF GOD, THE PRIMAL WILL AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
.>SUPERSTITIONS, BELIEF AND FAITH
>THE EVOLUTION OF SOCIETY AND THE RELATIONSHIPS OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE NEW AGE
>METAPHORS, SLANG AND FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
.>VARIATIONS IN CREATION, DIFFERENCES OF CAPACITY IN INDIVIDUALS AND THE AUTHORITY OF GOD OVER HIS CREATION.
>ABOUT THE NEGLECTED VIRTUES OF HONESTY AND INTEGRITY.
.>BELIEF AND TRUST IN GOD, AND THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF LOVE OF GOD
>THE USE AND ABUSE OF WORDS AND HOW THEY AFFECT US
>TRUSTWORTHINESS AND HONESTY WITH OURSELVES AND WITH OTHERS
.>SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT IMAGES
>THE MIRACLE OF CREATION
.>NEW KNOWLEDGE AND QUESTIONS ABOUT THE UNIVERSE
>EVERY CHILD IS OUR CHILD AND HUMANITY IS ONE FAMILY.
>FAMILY TREES INTERTWINED GENETICALLY
>FORGIVENESS, FORBEARANCE, KINDNESS, COURTESY AND LOVE
>REMINDERS OF FUTURE EVENTS.
>WAR AND PEACE
>CHILDREN AS VICTIMS OF WAR
>THE TRUE LESSON OF WAR HAS NOT YET BEEN LEARNED BY ALL PEOPLE
>JUDGING FROM WORLD TENSIONS AND ANTAGONISM IT APPEARS THAT WE ARE NOW EXPERIENCING THE START OF THE FINAL CONVULSION ENDING THIS AGE
.>NOTES ABOUT NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
>BAHA'I TEACHINGS ABOUT THE NEXT LEVEL OF EXISTENCE -
ECONOMIC INJUSTICE GROWS WORSE
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THE UNITED STATES
United for a Fair Economy is the source of these statistics (www.ufenet.org/)
About a year ago I read that the gap between the wealthy and the poor throughout the world has been constantly increasing, even in the under developed nations. In America it has become a serious cause for concern, and a threat to future stability.
1. "If average pay for production workers had grown at the same rate as it has for CEOs during this boom, instead of barely outpacing inflation, their 1999 annual earnings would have been $114.035 instead of $23,753. If the minimum wage had risen as fast as CEO pay, it would now be $24.13 an hour, instead of $5.13."
"The government helped sink workers by leaving the minimum wage unchanged or changed inadequately as inflation eroded its value. The minimum wage used to bring a family of three with one full-time worker above the poverty line. Now it doesn't bring a full-time worker with one child above the poverty line. 'The real value of the minimum wage went up in the 1990s, but it's still down 27.0 percent since 1968."
"The pay gap between CEOs and workers is five times wider than it was at the start of the decade, and ten times wider than it was two decades ago. In 1990 , according to Business Week, CEOs at large companies made 85 times the pay of average factory workers, up from 42 times as much in 1980. In 1998 CEOs made 419 times the pay of workers ($10.6 million compared with $25,300), up from 326 times as much in 1997. If the CEO-worker wage gap increased this year at the same rate of growth as it did between 1997 and 1998 (28.5 percent), CEOs would make 538 times as much for 1999. In the year 2000 they would make 691 times as much."
2. "In 1989, the United States had 66 billionaires and 31.5 million people living below the official poverty line. A decade later, the United States has 268 billionaires and 34.5 million people living below the poverty line- about $13,000 for a three-person family." (Consider that house rents here in the country, far from cities, run from $400 to $700 a month for a two bedroom house. Difficult to get by with a family on only about $1000/month.) "At the dawn of the 21st century, the distribution of wealth has regressed to the perilous inequality of the 1920s. The top 1 percent of households has more wealth than the entire bottom 95 percent combined."
3. "Looking at after-tax income puts the growing disparities in even sharper focus. Between 1977 and 1999, the top fifth of households increased their annual income after federal taxes by 43 percent while the middle fifth gained 8 percent and the bottom fifth lost 9 percent. The top 1 percent of households gained 115 percent."
4. "Since 1977, the top 1 percent of households has doubled its share of the nation's wealth. The top 1 percent holds 40 percent of the nations's wealth, the top 5 percent has more than 60 percent. Financial wealth-net worth minus equity in owner-occupied housing - is even more concentrated. The top 1 percent holds nearly half of all financial wealth."
"Together, the 400 richest Americans are worth more than $1 trillion - about one-ninth of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States, the world's richest economy. The people in the Forbes 400 -they could all stay at New York's Plaza Hotel at the same time - have about as much wealth as the 50 million households in the bottom half of the population."
5. " The Dow has broken 11,000 but a lot of Americans are just plain broke. They have nothing to tide them over in case of a health crisis or unemployment, much less save for college or retirement. Nearly one out of five households has zero or negative net worth (greater debts than assets) Only one out of ten households had zero net worth in 1962."
"The nation's prosperity is cruising precariously in a sea of red ink. Total revolving consumer credit - most of it credit card debt - has more than tripled from $185.9 billion in January 1990 to $584.3 billion in October 1999."
"The personal savings rate dropped sharply over the decade. After hovering between 7 and 11 percent for 34 years, the personal savings rate dropped from 7 percent in 1993 to 2 percent in the third quarter of 1999."
"Total bankruptcies have more than doubled between 1989 and 1999. Business bankruptcies on the other hand are down 36 percent in the same period."
I have not included all the statistics, since these may be sufficient to illustrate the fact that American workers are spending themselves into debt, earning the same, or not much more, than they did 30 years ago. This, of course, makes the economy seem to be "booming and roaring" as the news people seem to believe because sales are high. The source of the sales is drying up, and anyone with foresight should be concerned.
It also illustrates the serious maldistribution of wealth in America, a problem that is universal, although not to the extent it is in America. When the U.S. economy collapses it will be felt around the world.
THE BAHA'I TEACHINGS ON ECONOMICS DO NOT GO TO EITHER EXTREME OF EXCESSIVE SOCIALISM OR MODERN DAY CAPITALISM.
In Some Answered Questions there are some of the teachings of Abdu'l-Baha concerning the economics of a future society, as well as in His talks given in Europe and America. Redistribution of wealth is one of the important teachings, to prevent the extremes we see today, where one person can be wealthier than one or more entire nations., while millions starve. This redistribution would not allow either extreme, excessive wealth or anyone being deprived of an adequate income for a decent living, not just in the West, but throughout the entire world. There would be free universal education through university level, which already exists, or did exist, in Belgium. Although President Clinton struggled to establish universal health care in America in his first term, the forces of capitalism crushed his efforts, and so we remain one of the few backward industrial nations in the world. Workers incomes in America used to be at the top of the list among industrialized nations, but today we are about 15th down the list.
In a manuscript I wrote about 12 years ago I discussed the necessity for public ownership of all land, with the right of everyone to lease the land they need at rates they can afford. This would prevent the misuse and destruction of resources and the ecology we see today, because land use could then be supervised. What- ever a person grew or built on the land would be his/her property, which they could sell if they moved, but no one would be permitted to own more than one home. The subject is rather complex, but it would prevent a few individuals from owning most of the useable real estate, a problem that now exists. I wrote:"In the Bible, Leviticus 25:23 it states:'The land shall not be sold forever, for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.' We must reconsider the entire question of private ownership of land, since it has been such a cause of injustice and suffering throughout the centuries...."
BAHA'IS WHO LEAD THE "SHEEP" ASTRAY
"O YE THAT ARE FOOLISH, YET HAVE A NAME TO BE WISE !
Wherefore do ye wear the guise of shepherds, when inwardly ye have become wolves, intent upon My flock? Ye are even as the star, which riseth ere the dawn, and which, though it seem radiant and luminous, leadeth the wayfarers of My city astray into the paths of perdition." Baha'u'llah in Hidden Words. Persian 24
Both Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi spoke of enemies of the Faith within the Baha'i community. I believe that they referred to those who have never fully understood the spiritual nature of the Faith, and who sought (and still seek) positions of power and prestige within the Baha'i community, which includes the UHJ community and the others with those who claim to be guardians, regents, or who make false claims to spiritual titles. The Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha is inoperable without the Guardian or a properly appointed successor, but the leaders of each of the above mentioned groups have used distortions of the Will and Testament to support their claims, claiming all the powers of a real Guardian. They do not see themselves as "wolves" but in fact they are, because they lead the "sheep" astray, those who do not seek out the truth in the Teachings, but who blindly follow their chosen leaders . And so we have organizations which have wandered away from the Spirit of the Faith, as was forewarned in the Tablet of the Holy Mariner.
"Those people suffer hardships before others for the purpose of maintaining their names hereafter; but nothing will be kept for them save that whereby they will be cursed by whomsoever is in the heaven and earth. And suppose your names will be kept, as ye conjecture, would it be of any good to you? No by the Lord of the Worlds."Surat'ul'Hykal, Trans. A Hadad
TABLET OF THE HOLY MARINER INTERPRETED DIFFERENTLY IN EACH OF THE BAHA'I COMMUNITIES
It seems that the followers of each Baha'i community change the interpretations of the Tablet of the Holy Mariner to favor their personal convictions. In that Tablet it speaks of a burning meteor removing people from high positions to which they have no right, and Leland Jensen said this meant that an actual meteor. would come from the sky and smash all Baha'i leaders who opposed him.
I see that at least one of the main stream Baha'is, referring to the last part of that Tablet, claims that the lifeless body of the Maiden fallen on the dust refers to the death of Shoghi Effendi, because, he reasoned, somewhere in the Teachings it is implied that spiritual people are referred to as "maidens", or something to that effect. The main stream Baha'is have even had a seminar to discuss that Tablet, and one of those who attended offers to send her notes from that gathering.
My belief is that the "burning meteor" refers to the power of truth, exposing the emptiness of the claims of those who, without any real authority, assume titles and positions of command in all of the Baha'i communities, In time this will happen, and even now it is beginning as these false leaders overreach themselves in asserting their authority, or by making wildly exaggerated claims about themselves.
Regarding the dead bodies, see Chapter 11 in Some Answered Questions where it speaks of the two dead bodies lying in the streets of the great city. "'And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.' 'Their bodies' means the Religion of God, and 'the street' means in public view." Abdu'l-Baha goes on to say that this implies that the Faith of Islam has become an organization without spirit, even referred to as the "beast". In the last part of the Tablet of the Holy Mariner it reads, "They all gathered around her, and lo! They found her body fallen upon the dust..." The Maiden of Heaven refers to the Holy Cause of God, and today the Baha'is have become so preoccupied with organization and externalities of the Faith that they have lost the Spirit of the Faith, The dead body being the organization without spirit. This applies to all of the Baha'i communities, though not necessarily to all of the members of those communities, for there are always a few exceptions, thank God.
SO MANY PEOPLE OF THE VARIOUS FAITHS BELIEVE IN REINCARNATION, EVEN THOUGH THEY GIVE IT OTHER NAMES, AND THEN CRITICIZE THOSE WHO OPENLY PROCLAIM THEIR BELIEF IN REINCARNATION..
The belief of most of those people see a future of endless repetition, rather than one of progression to higher and higher levels of spiritual understanding and existence. They are like the ants on the Moebius strip.These poor creatures go round and round, never reaching the end, never stepping off the edge into a new world. Of course, many believe that they will be born into a "paradise on earth" in new bodies which will then last forever on this ball of mud. They fail to take into consideration the laws of composition and decomposition which are part of this physical creation. And of course, many of them think that in the entire, endless universe, only this little speck we call earth has been graced with sentient beings. The other extreme are the science fiction Darwinists who think all things come into being by accident, and so they portray the most grotesque creatures living on other planets. They seem to think, in their simple materialistic way, that evil, amoral civilizations can exist with extremely high levels of technology, not realizing, that as we advance technologically, we either change to higher levels of spirituality or commit suicide. As T.s. Eliot wrote, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." The whimper is when such civilizations kill themselves off with pollution and dehumanization of everyone. The bang is preferable when it causes people to think and to change their inner lives to become more spiritual and obedient to the laws of God.
SOUL AND BODY,,, THE END OF NIGHT AND THE BEGINNING OF DAY.
The terms "spirit" and "soul" as used in the writings of Abdu'l-Baha refer to one entity. "Man is in the highest degree of
materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality--that is to say that he is at the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is at the end of night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that the angelic aspect may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic power, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among the creatures, but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures.. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is there such a difference,, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man...." Abdu'l-Baha cited in Life, Death and Immortality, p. 52
PURITY OF OUR SOULS AT BIRTH, THE BEGINNING OF SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
"Every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at his birth. Afterwards, however, the individuals will vary according to what they acquire of virtues or vices in this world. Although all existent beings are in their very nature created in ranks or degrees, for capacities are various, nevertheless every individual is born holy and pure. " (Ibid. P. 69)
It is incredible when you realize that we have both the animal nature of our physical beings, but our real existence should be spiritual, since that is the force that should dominate our physical appetites. The only real existence is that of the soul, not that of the body, and the soul is a wondrous creation of God.
"Man -- the true man -- is soul, not body, though physically man belongs to the animal kingdom, yet his soul lifts him above the rest of creation. Behold how the light of the sun illuminates the world of matter, even so doth the Divine Light shed its rays in the kingdom of the soul. The soul it is which makes the human creatures a celestial entity. By the power of the Holy Spirit, working through his soul, man is able to perceive the Divine reality of things. All great works of art and science are witnesses to this power of the Spirit. The same Spirit gives Eternal Life." (Ibid, p. 57)
"The other and inner reality is called the heavenly body, the ethereal form which corresponds to this body. This is the conscious reality which discovers the inner meaning of things, for the outer body of man does not discover anything. The inner ethereal reality grasps the mysteries of existence, discovers scientific truths and indicates their technical application...." (Ibid, p. 56)
"Life is a load which must be carried on while we are on earth, but the cares of the lower things of life should not be allowed to monopolize all the thoughts and aspirations of a human being. The heart's ambitions ascend to a more glorious goal, mental activity should rise to higher levels ! Men should hold in their souls the vision of celestial perfection and there prepare a dwelling-place for the inexhaustible bounty of the Divine Spirit." (Ibid, p.68)
"Our body is like the cage, and our spirit is like the bird. We see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of sleep, therefore, if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased.. In truth, from hell it reaches a paradise of delights because for the thankful birds there is no paradise greater than freedom from the cage,. That is why with utmost joy and happiness the martyrs hasten to the plain of sacrifice." (Ibid, p 62)
To gain this freedom while still here on earth, requires constant attention, prayer and effort.
SIOUX INDIAN PRAYER from the Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD
"O Great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And Whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me!
I am small and weak, I need Your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in Beauty, and let my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things You have made, and my ears sharp to hear Your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things You have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons You have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy, myself.
Make me always ready to come to You with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to You without shame."
LOVE IS THE REASON FOR CREATION
"O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life."
OF SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant." Hidden Words 4 and 5.
"As to spiritual happiness, this is the true basis of the life of man, for life is created for happiness, not for sorrow; for pleasure, not for grief. Happiness is life; sorrow is death. Spiritual happiness is life eternal. This is a light which is not followed by darkness. This is an honor which is not followed by shame. This is a life that is not followed by death. This is an existence which is not followed by annihilation. This great blessing and precious gift is obtained by man only through the guidance of God...This happiness is the fundamental basis from which man is created, worlds are originated, the contingent beings have existence and the world of God appears like unto the appearance of the sun at mid-day.This happiness is but the love of God...Were it not for this happiness the world of existence would not have been created." Abdu'l-Baha in Star of the West magazine. (Issue not known to me)
"Have full assurance that love is the mystery of the appearance of God, that love is the divine aspect of God, that love is spiritual grace, that love is the light of the Kingdom, that love is as the breath of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of man. Love is the cause of the manifestation of truth in the material world. Love is the essential bond of union which exists between God and all things in their ultimate reality. Love is the source of the greatest happiness of the material and spiritual worlds. Love is the light by which man is guided in the midst of darkness. Love is the communication between truth and man in the realm of consciousness. Love is the means of growth for all who are enlightened." Abdu'l-Baha in Baha'i Scriptures, p. 435
PSYCHIC POWERS-INTUITION-CLAIRVOYANCE-MIND READING, ETC
A few people possess unusual psychic powers while still on this earth. I used to know a lady who, unknowingly, would answer your questions before you had the chance to ask them, and she was unaware that she was doing so, ----eerie. My grandmother, at the beginning of last century, was the president of what I believe was called The American Psychic Association, and for a time she had the ability to tell people where they had lost things, solve perplexing mathematical problems, etc. but later in life she lost this ability..There are those who claim to be able to hold mental communications with the deceased, and probably because they have a certain ability to read minds, they convince people that they are talking to their loved ones, when in reality they are probably reading their clients' own thoughts, or body language...
Comments on this subject by Abdu'l-Baha: "Can a departed soul converse with someone still on earth?" Abdu'l-Baha:"A conversation can be held, but not as our conversation. There is no doubt that the forces of the higher worlds interplay with the forces of this plane. The heart of man is open to inspiration; this is spiritual communion. As in a dream one talks with a friend while the mouth is silent, so is it in conversation of the spirit. A man may converse with the ego within him saying:'May I do this ? Would it be advisable for me to do this work ? Such as this is conversation with the higher self."--------"To tamper with psychic forces while in this world interferes with the condition of the soul in the world to come. The child in the womb has its eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc but they are not in activity. The whole purpose of life in the material world is the coming birth into the world of reality, where those forces will become active. They belong to that world." These remarks of Abdu'l-Baha cited in "Life, Death and Immortality"
LESSER PEACE, MOST GREAT PEACE, 1963, 2001, ETC.
Right after WWII many Baha'is shouted glad hosannas, thinking that this was the beginning of the Lesser Peace. They also thought that Abdu'l-Baha had promised that the Most Great Peace would begin at the end of the last century, at the year 2000. They paid little attention to the words of Shoghi Effendi, because he made it clear in his messages that these were mistranslations of the words and intent of Abdu'l-Baha. The Lesser Peace had not arrived, and there was increasing danger that the "real" final war was not far off, the Battle of Armageddon mentioned in Biblical allegory. He said that Abdu'l-Baha HAD NOT said that the Most Great Peace would come at the end of the century, but Baha'is did not read his words or else paid little attention, because of their wishful fantasies. Some thought that in 1963 world peace would be established, but Abdu'l-Baha actually said that would mark the end of the 100 years mankind was allowed to accept Baha'u'llah, and if they failed it would mark the beginning of all kinds of miseries for humanity, which we have witnessed. The Bab gave great importance to the number 2001, but those are very veiled prophecies. The most precise prophecy is that of Baha'u'llah wherein He speaks of the coming of the Manifestation only AFTER the cataclysm that will cause the limbs of mankind to quake, and Shoghi Effendi said that this cataclysm would follow or accompany the final war, and this is in his messages to America. No precise date is given for these events, though the emphasis of the Bab on 2001 some thought might be the key to the date, obviously an incorrect assumption.. Every Manifestation has known of His Mission prior to His public announcement. The Bab knew months in advance, and Baha'u'llah knew 11 years in advance of His public announcement to His immediate followers. The coming Manifestation undoubtedly knows of His Mission at this time, but the chosen time for public awareness has not arrived, and will not arrive until Baha'u'llah's prophecy is fulfilled.
As for the Lesser Peace, I believe it will take about 100 years to be firmly established after that final war and cataclysm. Only after that will the Most Great Peace become feasible, for there is much work ahead. The time of people turning to God in "troops" as foretold by Abdu'l-Baha is probably at least 25 years or more away, after the appearance of the next Manifestation, and it is certainly NOT going to be accomplished now by Baha'is
RISING TIDE OF SLANDER AND BACK BITING IN OUR SOCIETY
They say that the Bush_Gore presidential campaign was one of the "dirtiest" because of the slander and distortions of those running for office in their attacks against their opponents. One sees physical manifestations of this on the highways as "road rage', with drivers becoming more and more impatient and stressed. In business courtesy is disappearing, and throughout all levels of society bad manners and rudeness are on the increase. On the chat rooms I see so called Baha'is resorting to gutter language and the utmost vulgarity in their attacks against those they dislike or with whom they disagree. I spent some years in the Merchant Marine where coarse language and vulgarity are quite common, but if any sailor insulted another sailor using the language those Baha'is use, he would be in danger. I suppose being on internet the person committing the slander and vulgarity against others, feels safe because his/her location is probably unknown. Our civilization, all over the world, is suffering from internal rot, and disintegration. I repeat a quote from the last Commentary-----------------
"O army of God! Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven. Beware, beware, lest any of you seek vengeance, even against one who is thirsting for your blood. Beware, beware, lest ye offend the feelings of another, even though he be an evil-doer, and he wish you ill. Look ye not upon the creatures, turn ye to their Creator. See ye not the never-yielding people, see but the Lord of Hosts. Gaze ye not down upon the dust, gaze upward at the shining sun, which hath caused every patch of darksome earth to glow with light."
Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 69-75
Since none of us are perfect, we undoubtedly make remarks about other peoples' failings in our private conversations. Factual accounts of deeds is not quite the same as character assassination, which is called backbiting, and at times "whistle blowing" is necessary to prevent harm to others. Public slander and cursing others using obscene and vulgar language is deplorable and we destroy ourselves when we do so.
"He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth....That seeker should regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul...."Kitab-i-Iqan p.p. 192-3
ANTHROPOMORPHISM -- MAKING GOD IN OUR IMAGE
Because of our human limitations we cannot conceive of eternity, infinity, infallibility, the essence of life, the real meaning of time, the omniscience and omnipotence of God, preexistence, the universe, etc. Some who are materialists believe that "some day" we will have total knowledge, but that is a fantasy, a denial of our limitations. Some who claim to be spiritually beyond their fellow believers, make exaggerated claims of their relationship with God.
"O Salman! All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man's finite mind hath been strictly subjected. To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts. The meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints, the highest expressions of praise from either human pen or tongue, are but a reflection of that which hath been created within themselves, through the revelation of the Lord, their God. Whoever pondereth this truth in his heart will readily admit that there are certain limits which no human being can possibly transgress ..." Gleanings, pp 317, 318
Although the Holy Books tell us that we are made in the image of God, this must be considered in relationship to all the Teachings, not as an isolated statement. We know that not all of us are equal, some are more intelligent than others, some are far more spiritual than their fellow men, some are agnostics, some are materialists, and some are atheists. Also, a study of the Writings makes it clear that we are not equal to the Manifestations of God, and we can never approach the Reality of God. When we gaze into a mirror we see our image reflected, but that image is in no way equal to the being whose image is reflected. We cannot isolate statements from the Holy Books, but must study as much as possible of the entire body of the Teachings, and then we will understand, I believe, that what is intended is that we can, if we make constant efforts, reflect certain spiritual attributes manifested by God through His Holy Spirit and His Manifestations.
"Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me." Hidden Words, Arabic No. 66
Despite all that is written about God in the Holy Books, people still tend to limit God by their own limitations. This is an obstacle to human progress in religion, society, governments, and in science. We try to reduce what we observe to fit our scale of observation and thought. We try to make God fit our image, and to encompass His creation by limits that are within our ability to comprehend. I have thought of humanity as living today within a sea of commonly accepted paradigms, feeling safer by following their leaders who parrot those beliefs. That sea borders a land of beauty and promise, of hope and progress. A few courageous and creative individuals, who dare to venture into new realms of understanding, leaving behind outworn paradigms, are those who venture out of that sea of imitations onto the new land of beauty and progress. They are often subjected to the ridicule and scorn of the imitators who live in the sea of apathy, but they have the strength of character and integrity to continue the search for the Holy Grail of Truth.
They represent the next stage in human evolution, and although up till now only a few have appeared, soon all of humanity will leave the sea of limitations and imitations to enter a new age.
"There lay concealed within the holy Veil, and prepared for the service of God, a company of His chosen ones who shall be manifested unto men, who shall aid His Cause, who shall be afraid of no one, though the entire human race rise up and war against them" "The day is approaching when God will have, by an act of His Will, raised up a race of men the nature of which is inscrutable to all save God, the All-Powerful, the Self-Subsisting" Cited in the Advent of Divine Justice pp. 21 and 85
DISTINCT ADVANTAGES OF HUMILITY VS EGOCENTRICITY
The first Hidden Words in the Arabic section reads:
"O SON OF SPIRIT ! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting."
When we adopt this belief, working hard to develop this attribute, life becomes much easier and more pleasant. If we are too self-centered we carry grudges, cannot admit our own mistakes, have difficulty in laughing at ourselves, expect others to give in to our opinions (which leads to hurt feelings and internal conflict lasting sometimes for days or even years)
Carried to the extreme, this excess of self-importance causes some people to strive for titles and positions for which they are not qualified leading to all sorts of problems for others. With humility, and love of others, we forgive more readily, admit our own errors, and even if we are right in family disputes, we can compromise, bringing peace and harmony, and we do not stay awake justifying ourselves and blaming the other person or persons. It makes for far greater internal health and happiness, as well as to harmonious and happy family relationships. And as this applies within families, so does it apply in society. Showing courtesy, being willing to listen to other peoples' ideas, not always correcting other peoples' errors (unless some sort of serious harm would result by silence), and in general being peaceful, kind, and loving with an outgoing personality are qualities that spring from humility, and a kind and radiant heart.
MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD HAVE NEVER HEARD OF THE LATEST MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD, NOR OF THE PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OF GOD'S WORD
Throughout the world there are countless millions who have never heard of the latest Manifestation of God, or who know very little about progressive Revelation. God, in His justice, and love for all of His creatures, takes all things into consideration, and we too should reflect these qualities of God, and open our hearts to all these dear souls with fairness and love. In one of the Internet forums on My Deja, Ron House expresses this principle very well......
"There are many threads in the spiritual life of the world, and it is easy to get some of them a bit tangled, but nevertheless those who seek with love and work in sincerity will be welcomed at the throne of God. That which is done with the purest of motives within one's capacity is all that God desires from us."
People in different lands have other names for the one God, and other ways of expressing their beliefs. We should never consider ourselves superior to others, but offer what we have learned by the grace of God with love and humility. The arrogance often displayed by those with an education somewhat superior to that of others, is unworthy of true believers in God. Our language and our attitudes towards everyone, regardless of race, nationality, culture and education should be courteous and respectful, for everyone is a creature of God, and God loves all of His people. And if we think we are superior to such souls because we have been fortunate enough to learn of God's latest Manifestation, then we have never learned the meaning of the Word of God, and we are far worse than those we look down upon as inferior spiritual beings.
NOISES AND SYMBOLS
"...Myriads of mystic tongues find utterance in one speech, and myriads of hidden mysteries are revealed in a single melody; yet, alas, there is no ear to hear, nor heart to understand." (Hidden Words, Persian 16)
Everything changes as humanity evolves socially, intellectually and spiritually. Our cultures change slowly, and as they intermix entirely new interrelationships develop. Languages may appear to remain unchanged over centuries because the spelling remains almost identical, but meanings of words can change radically, and connotations of words change constantly, often varying within one nation, or between generations. I have noticed that in some languages, the use of accents may vary between nations, and those who are unaware of this fact insist that their version of a word is the only correct version. A simple word like "good" has changed in meaning, and when you ask someone how they are, they say "good", although 40 years ago you would expect them to say "fine". I guess the point of all this is that we should make allowances for how people of different nations and cultures express themselves, and try to find out what connotation a particular word may have for others, which may differ from our understanding. We communicate through words, especially today on internet, and too often controversy arises over misunderstanding of words. Dictionaries aren't always accurate because language evolves constantly, and definitions of words do not always convey the connotation a particular word may have for someone of a different culture or nation.
OLD PARADIGMS AND THE FUTURE ?
"Despite the illusion we enjoy that the pace of discovery is accelerating, it is important that, in some fields of science, many goals appear to be attainable only slowly and by huge collective effort. To be sure, the spacecrafts now exploring the solar system are usually designed a decade or so before their launch. After a century of seismology, only now are measurement and analytical techniques sensitive enough to promise that we shall soon have a picture of the interior of the planet on which we live, one that shows the rising convection plumes of mantle rock that drive the tectonic plates across the surface of Earth. Since the 1960s, molecular biologists have had the goal of understanding the way in which the genes of living organisms are regulated, but not even the simplest bacterium has yet been comprehensively accounted for. And we shall be lucky if the neural correlates of thinking are identified in the half-century ahead. The application of what we know already will enliven the decades immediately ahead, but there are many important questions that will be answered only with great difficulty. ....there will be more subtle surprises, which, of necessity, cannot be anticipated. They are the means by which the record of the past 500 years of science has been repeatedly enlivened. They are also the means by which the half-century ahead will enthrall the practitioners and change the lives of the rest of us. }The Author SIR JOHN MADDOX (From Scientific American magazine)
Most of us are living in the cave of self, unable to see past the barriers of our senses, our intellects and materialistic limitations. As in Plato's cave, we see only the shadows of reality on the cave walls because of such limitations. Only when we make great effort can we gradually escape from our caves, gaining spiritual insight and vision. Then, slowly we enter the world of reality, through constant effort, expanding our vision and understanding. Then we see more clearly the Sun of the Word of God arising on the right hand of truth, and for those who ignore, deny or attack the Spirit of Truth the Sun sets on the left hand. Only then do we begin to adequately appreciate God's creation, and to gain a greater degree of intuitive knowledge.
PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION. (SCATTERED THOUGHTS )
Energy, defined as the power of doing work possessed at any instant by a body or system.----A description of what energy does, but what is energy? They claim that everything is composed of energy, and that space is filled with energy (Casimir effect?), but if it is a non material force, what is it? And then we are constrained to consider that what we call material objects are composed of a non material, invisible force.
Baha'u'llah wrote: "Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal." (Tab. Of Baha'u'llah, p.69) Abdu'l-Baha explained that Baha'u'llah was referring to the destruction of the atom, which would release tremendous energy. Since then, of course, the atomic bomb was created. One cannot possibly imagine the incredible power of the all pervasive energy in the universe.
They say that light is composed of photons, radiant energy quanta, which manifest themselves as either waves or particles. The "Red Shift" is supposed to indicate that the "universe is expanding, and that light waves become longer from receding stars, due to the "Doppler effect". Longer waves or longer particles? And if space is filled with "dark matter" as is theorized, perhaps this causes the "Red Shift" and the universe is not expanding, even though groups of galaxies seem to flow like ocean currents, due to "Great Attractors" etc. in the visible universe.
"In most of their speculations about quasars, astronomers have been guided by an underlying assumption that the red shift of quasars are cosmological or caused by the general expansion of the universe. But the red shift could also be produced by other means that do not necessarily involve the expansion of the universe, or even very high speeds. If so, quasars might be relatively nearby, perhaps even within the Milky Way. More important it would mean that quasars are not as bright as they seem, and astronomers would not have to rack their brains figuring out how they give off such prodigious outbursts of energy." Quasars, Pulsars and Black Holes by F. Golden, pp 107-109
The Steady State theory of the universe was first proposed by astrophysicist Fred Hoyle, but for a few years he switched to the "Big Bang" theory, only to return to his first belief in the steady state universe. Now his Steady State theory has the support of other astrophysicists
"In Aug. 30, 1990 astrophysicists Javant Narliker, Burgridge, Walton C. Arp, Fred Hoyle and N.C. Wickramasinghe issued a manifesto in support of the Steady State" universe theory which says there never was a single "big bang" which created all things, but rather many little "bangs" going on coitinuously in an eternal steady state universe, always in the process of becoming." Science News, Apr. 13, 1991
Of course the Baha'i Teachings indicate that the universe is one, eternal, infinite and always involved in the creative process, although the individual parts, being composed, are subject to composition and decomposition as part of that process. All of the parts of this infinite universe are, as noted, composed of energy.
In the following pages I will explore some of the current thinking of some scientists about the evolution of the mind, and of bodies. In the early part of the last century Abdu'l=Baha gave an explanation of this process which is remarkably similar to the current scientific proposals, although He did not use all the terms they have invented to describe their understanding and beliefs about that process. I will suggest that the force we call energy, is the carrier of the life force, which is present in different degrees in every part of the universe. Wherever the proper conditions come into existence, with a stable star and suitable planets, the life force, in what we might call a natural process, gradually appears over the ages as evolving life forms leading to the fruit of creation, sentient beings capable of knowing and loving their Creator.
B. ONENESS OF CREATION AND INTERDEPENDENCE
(WOL= Web of Life by Frijof Capra. SAQ= Some Answered Questions by Abdu'l-Baha)
God's creation is a wondrous and beautiful eternal outpouring of love. In the last Commentary I suggested that the entire universe is alive, expressing that life force in varying degrees. Frijof Capra, who earned his PhD in Theoretical Physics in Vienna, and worked in high energy physics in the U.S. and Europe, expressed it this way:"For many people, including myself, it is philosophically and spiritually more satisfying to assume that the cosmos as a whole is alive, rather than thinking of life on Earth existing within a lifeless universe. Within the framework of science, however, we cannot -or at least, not yet - make such statements. If we apply our scientific criteria for life in the entire universe, we encounter serious conceptual difficulties." WOL p. 217
Of course the search for ever greater understanding of the universe, of creation and of God will never end. The science of today is only one phase in an eternal journey of ever increasing awareness of the wisdom and power of God, and this is also true of the spiritual evolution of humanity. The oneness of the two aspects of human insight and knowledge is being recognized to a greater degree with every true advance in both aspects of human consciousness.
S.F. Chew, of the University of California, remarked:"Our current struggle (with current aspects of advanced physics) may thus be only a foretaste of a completely new form of human intellectual endeavor, one that will not only lie outside physics, but will not even be described as 'scientific'"
Albert Einstein said:"One thing I have learned in a long life; that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike," and "...as far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."
The physicist Sir Arthur Eddington wrote:"My conclusion is that, although for the most part our inquiry into the problem of experience ends in a veil of symbols there is an immediate knowledge in the minds of conscious beings which lifts the veil in places; what we discern through these openings is of mental and spiritual nature. Elsewhere we see no more than the veil."
The physicist Heisenberg wrote: "Ideas are more fundamental than the objects, and since the smallest parts of matter have to be the objects whereby the simplicity of the world becomes visible, whereby we can approximate to the 'one' and the 'unity' of the world, the ideas can be described mathematically -they are simply mathematical forms ___"
Concerning the oneness of creation, F. Capra (WOL p 6) wrote: "Shallow ecology is anthropocentric, or human centered. It views humans as above or outside of nature, as the source of all value, and ascribes only instrumental or 'use' value to nature. Deep ecology does not separate humans -or anything else- from the natural environment. It sees the world not as a collection of isolated objects, but as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. Deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic value of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life." And I would add to this statement that humans represent the highest expression in this level of creation in the continuous upward flow of evolution, but that reality does not permit us to ever forget the interrelatedness of all parts of creation, nor to fail in our obligation to protect and enhance the ecology at all levels.
At the beginning of the last century Abdu'l-Baha said (SAQ):' ...This limitless universe is like the human body. All members of which are connected and linked with one another with the greatest strength. How much the organs, the members and parts of the body of man are intermingled and connected for mutual aid and help, and how much they influence one another! In the same way the parts of this infinite universe have their members and elements connected with one another and influence one another spiritually and materially."
Science can never have complete knowledge of creation, since it is based on observation of creation in action, but observation and measurements can only go so far, and the mystery of the essence of life remains veiled. Heisenberg wrote: "What we observe is not nature itself, but a nature exposed to our method of questioning." The new name for the present approach to understanding is called "system thinking." As F. Capra writes: "...system thinking involves a shift from objective to 'epistemic' sciences, to a framework in which epistemology-'the method of questioning'- becomes an integral part of scientific theories." (WOL p 40) Capra continues: "What makes it possible to turn the systems approach into a science is the discovery that there is approximate knowledge. This insight is crucial to all of modern science. The old paradigm is based on the Cartesian belief in the certainty of scientific knowledge. In the new paradigm it is recognized that all scientific conceptions and theories are limited and approximate. Science can never provide any complete and definitive understanding." (WOL p. 41)
I suggest that energy is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit, also called the Primal Will or the Word of God, to bring into existence the eternal universe at all times, to control and sustain life, and which manifests itself in all aspects of this level of creation in which we presently live (before death) The unified field theory posits that there is a connection between the various forces such as gravity, magnetism, energy, weak atomic forces, etc. and Einstein even attempted to demonstrate this concept with a mathematical equation of such complexity that it could not be tested experimentally. I suggest that this "material" existence is only the primal expression of evolution, reaching its highest point in the "perfect" human, and that after death, we enter a new level of existence, a higher expression of the energy (and this is a term used for convenience only, since we consider that this force has far greater powers than we can comprehend) on the path of continuing spiritual evolution.
The soul of man might be compared to neutrinos, which are supposed to have no "gross physical characteristics", and the astronomer V.A. Firsoff suggested that such an elementary "particle" for the soul might exist, which he called the "mindon". In his book The Roots of Coincidence, A. Koestler wrote: "To the unprejudiced mind neutrinos have indeed a certain affinity with ghosts -which does not prevent them from existing. This is not just a whimsical metaphor. The absence of 'gross' physical properties in the neutrino, and its quasi-ethereal character, encouraged speculations about the possible existence of other particles which would provide the missing link between matter and mind..." J. Updike wrote a poem about neutrinos:
Neutrinos they are very small.
They have no charge and have no mass
And do not interact at all
The Earth is just a silly ball
To them, through which they simply pass,
Like dustmaids down a drafty hall
Or photons through a sheet of glass.
They snub the most exquisite gas,
Ignore the most substantial wall,
Cold-shoulder steel and sounding brass,
Insult the stallion in his stall,
And, scorning barriers of class.,
Infiltrate you and me ! Like tall
And painless guillotines, they fall
Down through our heads into the grass.
Humans often deny the existence of things they do not understand. This, of course, has a limited value in the search for truth, but we must admit that the knowledge and wisdom of God far exceeds our understanding, and we cannot go beyond our inherent limitations. However, through the ages human knowledge slowly increases and expands within those limitations, which actually permit us to acquire an incredible amount of new knowledge, forever.
C.. EVOLUTION OF SPIRIT AND MIND
(WOL = Web of Life by Frijof Capra/SAQ = Some Answered Questions by Abdu'l-Baha)
I have suggested that what we call 'energy' is the carrier (in electronics a carrier wave transmits messages by modulations) of the life force which its varied manifestations, an expression of God's love, which appears in all aspects of creation. There are, of course, other forces acting on creation about which we are still ignorant, and which we refer to as immaterial or even metaphysical forces. The Holy Spirit (also referred to as the Primal Will or the Word of God) controls these forces, and is the intermediary between God and his creation.
"Know thou, moreover, that the Word of God - exalted be His glory - is higher and far superior to that which the senses can perceive, for it is sanctified from any property or substance. It transcendeth the limitations of known elements and is exalted above all the essential and recognized substances. It became manifest without any syllable or sound and is none but the Command of God which pervadeth all created things. It hath never been withheld from the world of being. It is God's all-pervasive grace, from which all grace doth emanate. It is an entity far removed above all that hath been and shall be." Baha'u'llah in Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 140-1 Tablet of Hikmat
As discussed above, the new sciences recognize that all creation is interrelated, as described by Abdu'l-Baha (SAQ pp 207/210) This process of creation involves the evolution of the physical forms as well as the "mind force" which reaches its highest expression on this plane of existence, in man.
P 207 "...There is no doubt that this perfection which is in all beings is caused by the creation of God from the composing elements, by their appropriate mingling and proportionate quantities, the mode of their composition and the influence of other beings. For all beings are connected together like a chain, and reciprocal help, assistance and influence belonging to the properties of things, are the causes of the existence, development and growth of created bings. It is confirmed through evidences and proofs that every being universally acts upon other beings, either absolutely or through association. Finally the perfection of each individual being, that is to say the perfection which you now see in man or apart from him, with regard to their atoms, members or powers, is due to the composition of the elements, to their measure, to their balance, to the mode of their combination and to the material influences. When all these are gathered together, then man exists.
P. 210 "This composition and arrangement (of the elements) through the wisdom of God and His pre-existent might, were produced from one material organization which was composed and combined with the greatest strength, conformable wisdom, and according to a universal law. From this it is evident that it is a creation of God, and it is not a fortuitous composition and arrangement. This is why from every natural composition a being can come into existence, but from an accidental (i.e. as in a laboratory) composition no being can come into existence.........we have said that from the composition and combination of elements, from their decomposition, from their measure, and from the effect of other beings upon them, resulted forms, endless realities and innumerable beings. But it is clear that this terrestrial globe in its present form did not come into existence all at once, but that this universal existence gradually passed through different phases until it became adorned with its present perfection."
Among many scientists of today there is growing realization that "mind", to some degree, has always existed in all levels of creation, if mind is considered to be the power of cognition in its most basic expression, which evolves into the level of awareness and thought or consciousness, as we know it.. This is a new awareness in science of the real evolutionary process which operates at all levels of existence.
(WOL p. 172) "According to theory of living systems, mind is not a thing but a process - the very process of life. In other words, the organizing activity of living systems, at all levels of life, is mental activity (i.e. and I would suggest that it is an expression of the "life force" regardless of the words used to describe it) The interactions of a living organism - plant, animal, or human - with its environment are cognitive, or mental interactions. Thus life and cognition become inseparably connected. Mind - or more accurately, mental process - is immanent in matter at all levels of life." (WOL p. 174) "The central insight of the Santiago theory is the same as Bateson's - the identification of cognition, the process of knowing, with the process of life. This represents a radical expansion of the traditional concept of mind. According to the Santiago theory, the brain is not necessary for mind to exist. A bacterium, or a plant, has no brain but has a mind. The simplest organisms are capable of perception and thus of cognition. They do not see, but they nevertheless perceive changes in their environment - differences between light and shadow, hot and cold, higher and lower concentrations of some chemical, and the like." "The new concept of cognition, the process of knowing, is thus much broader than that of thinking. It involves perception, emotion, and action - the entire process of life. In the human realm cognition also includes language, conceptual thinking, and all the other attributes of human consciousness. The general concept, however, is much broader and does not necessarily involve thinking."
Abdu'l-Baha spoke of the attribute of "mind" being present in the beginning,, evolving slowly, until it reaches the level of perfection in man. (SAQ, pp. 230 to 232) "The formation of man in the matrix of the world was in the beginning like the embryo, then gradually he made progress in perfections, and grew and developed until he reached the state of maturity when the mind and spirit became visible in the greatest power. In the beginning of his formation the mind and spirit also existed, but they were hidden, later they became manifest. In the womb of the world mind and spirit also existed in the embryo, but they were concealed; afterwards they appeared. So it is that in the seed the tree exists, but it is hidden and concealed; when it develops and grows..., the complete tree appears. In the same way the growth and development of all beings is gradual; this is the universal divine organization, the natural system." "All beings, whether large or small, were created perfect and complete from the first, but their perfections appear in them by degrees. The organization of God is one; evolution of existence is one; the divine system is one. Whether they be small or great beings, all are subject to one law and system. For example, in the seed all the vegetable perfections exist from the beginning, but not visibly; afterwards little by little, they appear."....."....the terrestrial globe from the beginning was created with all its elements, substances, minerals, atoms and organisms, but these only appeared by degrees; first the mineral, then the plant, afterwards the animal, and finally man."
Various aspects, or manifestations of this evolutionary process have been observed by scientists in recent decades. In the 1920s the philosopher C.D. Broad referred to new properties that appear in organic systems as "emergent properties" since these properties did not appear in the component parts of the system. Of course this is an observation of a result, not an explanation of "why". In the future - and the process has started now, more secrets of the evolution of mind and organisms, will be discovered. At present it is largely at the level of observing some few manifestations of the creative process, as mentioned below.
(WOL pp 226/298) "...Prigogene's theory of dissipative structures shows how complex biochemical systems, operating far from equilibrium (i.e. living organisms are 'far from equilibrium'), generate catalytic loops that lead to instabilities and can produce new structures of higher order. Manfred Eigen has suggested that similar catalytic cycles may have formed before the emergence of life on Earth."..."Humberto Maturana and Francisco Verela have described the process of evolution in terms of their theory of autopoiesis, seeing the evolutionary history of a species as the history of its structural coupling. And James Lovelock and Lynn Margulis in the Gaia theory have explored the planetary dimensions of the unfolding of life..." "The first of those principles is interdependence. All members of an ecological community are interconnected in a vast and intricate network of relationships, the web of life. They derive their essential properties and, in fact, their very existence from their relationships to other things. Interdependence, the mutual dependence of all life processes on one another , is the nature of all ecological relationships. The behavior of every living member of the ecosystem depends on the behavior of many others. The success of the whole community depends on the success of the individual members, while the success of each member depends on the success of the community as a whole."
The development, or evolution, of "mind" or "spirit" is, according to Abdu'l-Baha, present at all levels of creation, slowly developing to the level of the conscious intellect, and the soul of man, which can "reflect" some of the spiritual attributes of God. There is an order and design in creation which we are only beginning to explore, and to understand to some degree. Since the basic form of each species remains relatively constant now, the "far from equilibrium" theory proposed by Prigogene probably operates to enable organisms to adapt to environmental changes. For example, when you move to higher altitudes to live, your children will develop larger lungs and probably have a greater concentration of red blood cells. The evolutionary process of the life force has a definite goal which is the formation of the consciousness of man, and evolution now is on the spiritual plane, leading to ever higher levels of spiritual insight and perfection.
I am ending this three part article with a quotation by Frijof Capra concerning the interconnections in all parts of this physical creation, which indicates the unifying power of the life force, and the interdependence of all parts of creation.
(WOL p. 30) "The realization that systems are integrated wholes that cannot be understood by analysis was even more shocking in physics than in biology. Ever since Newton, physicists had believed that all physical phenomena could be reduced to the properties of hard and solid particles. In the 1920s, however, quantum theory forced them to accept the fact that the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve at the subatomic level into wavelike patterns of probabilities. These patterns, moreover, do not represent probabilities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. The subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can be understood only as interconnections, or correlations, among various processes of observation and measurement. In other words, subatomic particles are not "things", but interconnections among things, and these, in turn, are interconnections among other things, and so on. In quantum physics we never end up with any "things', we always end up with interconnections." "The first, and most general criterion is the shift from parts to the whole. Living systems are integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller parts. Their essential, or 'systemic' properties are properties of the whole, which none of the parts have. They arise from the 'organizing relations' of the parts - that is, from a configuration of ordered relationships that is characteristic of that particular class of organisms or systems. Systemic properties are destroyed when a system is dissected into isolated elements."
The so called "emergent properties" which appear in a system, such as the human body, but which are not present in the separate parts of the body, are, I believe, an expression of the "life force" which is manifest in all levels of creation , and for which "energy" is the carrier. This, I believe, is the "tool" used by the Holy Spirit to express the love and the will of God. New discoveries will be made in the coming centuries which will bring ever greater understanding of the process of creation, and of the love of God. The spirit reaches its highest point of development for this plane of existence, in man. Abdu'l-Baha wrote (SAQ p.233)
"The wisdom of the appearance of the spirit in the body is this: the human spirit is a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions; for its passage and movement through the conditions of existence will be the means of its acquiring perfections....when the human spirit passes through the conditions of existence, it will become the possessor of each degree and station. Even in the condition of the body, it will surely acquire perfections." ..."...if the perfections of the spirit did not appear in this world, this world would be unenlightened and absolutely brutal.....Moreover, these members, these elements, this composition, which are found in the organism of man, are an attraction and magnet for the spirit; it is certain that the spirit will appear in it. So, a mirror which is clear will certainly attract the rays of the sun. It will become luminous and wonderful images will appear in it. That is to say, when these existing elements are gathered together according to the natural order, and with perfect strength, they become a magnet for the spirit, and the spirit will become manifest in them with all its perfections."
************************************************************************************************* My old car (which we gave away) was a dissipative organism, far from equilibrium, but certainly not evolving into a higher form. Quite the opposite. Somewhere in the inner workings was a strange attractor, influencing the inherent chaos of the thing. The emergent properties were fumes and noise, and one might say that the wheels were representative of feedback loops. Just kidding.
"When you meet with those whose opinions differ from your own, do not turn your face from them...Do not allow differences of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts." Baha'u'llah in World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 47
"...Blessed is he who is illumined with the light of courtesy..." Abdu'l-Baha in Baha'i World Faith, p. 175
(From "The Brain", compilation by Scientific American, W.H. Freeman and Co., )
P 10 "The optic nerve....contains about one million fibers each originating in a tiny part of the retina. Each fibre in turn connects in an orderly way to the plate-like lateral geniculate. How, during development, do the fibers grow out of the retina, reach the plate and distribute themselves with absolute topographical precision ? Similar specifically wired sets of cable like connections between topographically mapped areas are common throughout the nervous system and how this precise wiring is laid down remains one of the great unsolved problems..." D.J. Hubel "Blueprint for Immortality" by H.S. Burr , Spearman Publ.
P. 29 "To understand that the field determines the behavior of any local process or constituent, it is necessary fundamentally to modify modern science by revising our theory of first principles in order to justify the unity of Nature as a causal factor. Without this revision of our most elemental concept of Nature, as conceived by science, all field theories, whether in physiology or physics, are mere verbiage.
We can see the significance of this for biology if we reconsider the most fundamental and perplexing problem, the problem of organization. It is a commonplace that living creatures, not withstanding the modification of types in evolution, maintain a certain constancy in structure through continuous changes of material. The traditional modern doctrine that the chemical elements determine the structure and organization of the organism , fails to explain why a certain structural constancy persists despite continuous metabolism and chemical flux. This obvious inadequacy led to the introduction of non-physical factors, such as Driesch's entelechy, Spehman's organizer, Child's physiological gradients, Weiss's biological fields, all of which have certain validity as descriptive terms."
P. 43 "It was a basic requirement of this field theory that it be assumed to be a primary characteristic of Nature in general, and of living systems, in particular. It possesses many, if not all, of the properties necessary to control movement and position of all charged particles within the system. It has those necessary vector or directional properties which are of vital necessity for any understanding of how growth and development can occur under careful field control.
The electrical phenomena [Burr of Harvard Univ. used a very sensitive galvanometer to measure fields, but they are not necessarily 'electrical" in nature] associated with the field must be considered to be a primary attribute of Nature, a cause of the arrangement of all the component parts in Nature, not only living but also non-living systems. In other words, the working hypothesis of the studies to be reported here is that the field is basic with the necessary power and directional properties to determine the process inherent in the growth and development of any living system."
"Forget all save God, be in communion with Him, supplicate and pray to Him to make thee conqueror over the material things, impressed by the bounties of the Kingdom, commemorating the name of thy Lord, pure from all save Him., and imbued with the spiritual attributes of those who are holy.....then shall thy breaths have effect upon the hearts...." Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 247
THE COURAGE AND HUMILITY REQUIRED IN THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
Every Baha'i or anyone else seeking truth must have courage and integrity of character because such souls are often subjected to the ridicule and opposition of those who base their thinking on peer pressure, what their chosen leaders tell them, or on paradigms they consider to be absolute truth.
You also need:
1. The humility to admit that you could be wrong, that what you currently believe may be only partially, or even wholly wrong, without becoming angry with those whose opinions or beliefs are not the same as yours.
2. The honesty to openly acknowledge your mistake when you find that your current beliefs are partially or wholly wrong - to admit it to yourself and to anyone else who might be affected by your beliefs.
3. The wisdom to move to higher truth at any time. We are never absolutely correct about any of our beliefs, no matter how correct we consider them to be. Only God is completely infallible in all things. So life is a process of being ready to give up outmoded concepts and to move to higher truths.
4. The integrity of character to stand up for important concepts you sincerely believe to be true even if everyone opposes you.
5. The steadfastness to continually seek out greater truth, wisdom and spiritual insight in service to God and humanity.
6. The insight to understand that in any field, whether it be in science, religion, economics, etc., human knowledge is never perfect or infallible, and to accept the reality that we, as humans, are constantly evolving to higher truth, however slowly and painfully. We ought to acknowledge that none of us are perfect, and we should forgive the mistakes of others as we desire such forgiveness and understanding for ourselves.
When you learn of the Word of God in His latest Manifestation that doesn't mean that you have found all truth, but that you have only found the Door to All Truth. Then you must enter that Door and begin the search for All Truth, and for understanding by study of the Word of God and surrendering all superstitions that limit your progress. Baha'u'llah wrote: The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, to discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye." (Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 157)
Abdu'l-Baha, in Paris Talks, pp. 135-137, said:
"We should .... detach ourselves from the external forms and practices of religion. We must realize that those forms and practices, however beautiful, are but garments clothing the warm heart and the living limbs of Divine truth. We must abandon the prejudices of tradition if we would succeed in finding the truth at the core of all religions. If a Zoroastrian believes that the Sun is God, how can he be united to other religions? While idolaters believe in their various idols, how can they understand the oneness of God?
"It is, therefore, clear that in order to make any progress in the search after truth we must relinquish superstition. If all seekers would follow this principle they would obtain a clear vision of the truth....In order to find truth we must give up our prejudices, our own small trivial notions; an open receptive mind is essential. ...The fact that we imagine ourselves to be right and everybody else wrong is the greatest of all obstacles in the path towards unity, and unity is necessary if we would reach truth, for truth is one.....When we are in earnest in our search for anything we look for it everywhere. This principle we must carry out in
our search for truth....It means, also, that we must be willing to clear away all that we have previously learned, all that would clog our steps on the way to truth; we must not shrink if necessary from beginning our education all over again. We must not allow our love for any one religion or any one personality to so blind our eyes that we become fettered by superstition! When we are freed from all these bonds, seeking with liberated minds, then shall we be able to arrive at our goal.... So shall we see the truth in all religions, for truth is in all and truth is one!"
"....Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said:'He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come.'" P. 120 in Kitab-i-Iqan
"....The heart must needs ...therefore be cleansed from the idle sayings of men, and sanctified from every earthly affection, so that it may discover the hidden meaning of divine inspiration, and become the treasury of the mysteries of divine knowledge...." Ibid, p,. 70
"...'Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth.' It is this kind of knowledge which is and hath ever been praiseworthy, and not the limited knowledge that hath sprung forth from veiled and obscured minds. This limited knowledge they even stealthily borrow one from the other, and vainly pride themselves therein!" ... "Would that the hearts of men would be cleansed from these man made limitations and obscure thoughts imposed upon them! Haply they may be illumined by the light of the sun of true knowledge and comprehend the mysteries of divine wisdom..." Ibid, pp. 45-7
I.Q. AND HIGHER LEARNING CAN BE A BOUNTY OR A CURSE
Those who have a high I.Q. according to the current methods of measuring intelligence, should not consider themselves superior to others. It is like having a superior tool kit, which can be used to harm others, or to benefit humanity, it can be used creatively with humility, or to cause destruction when pride rules the spirit. It is similar with those having an advanced education, leading them to consider themselves to be a source of wisdom and infallible knowledge. In either case, those who have such advantages will only become wise by acquiring spiritual attributes and humility, controlling their gifts for the service of God and humanity, and to attain ever greater spiritual insight for themselves..
It is tragic when such gifted people consider their knowledge or intelligence to be superior to that of the Manifestations of God, which leads them toward spiritual death and deprivation. Unfortunately, this is what has happened in all past ages when such dark souls denigrate the Word of God, and turn against the Manifestations of God when They appear from the invisible Realm.
SHOGHI EFFENDI SPEAKS OF THE COMING MANIFESTATION IN SOME HAIFA NOTES
WILLIAM ALLISON 1957
"Near the end of the formative period the nations will unite of their own volition and with the non-commitant expansion of the Cause become merged into the fabric of the World Order of Baha'u'llah. There will be another Manifestation before this will happen."
In Pilgrims Notes Shoghi Effendi remarks that the teaching plans (Five Year Plan, Seven Year Plan) and the Ten Year Crusade were designed to spread knowledge of the Teachings of Baha'u'llah around the world. Thanks to the untiring efforts of the Guardian, this has been accomplished. Baha'is in general seem to believe that they will establish the World Order with their administrative order, which already shows signs of disintegration. There are at least five organized groups, each claiming to be the "center" of the Cause, and a vociferous and disorganized conglomeration calling themselves the "loyal opposition" or "liberal Baha'is".
In the Pilgrim Notes we see that the World Order will not be established until the appearance of the next Manifestation, which we refer to as the appearance of the third Letter of the Revelation of the Greatest Name, which is discussed in the Alif of the Greatest Name article. If one follows the ideas of the Baha'is in general, the next Manifestation will not appear for 1000 years, which would mean that there will be no World Order or federal government for 1000 years, an unrealistic belief if one considers the current developments in world affairs, and if one believes the Appointed Interpreters. If Baha'is paid greater heed to the statements and interpretations of the Appointed Interpreters they could better understand the significance of the present situation within the Baha'i communities as well as implications of current events in the world. It will take a world wide calamity to awaken humanity, including Baha'is.
FUNDAMENTALIST THINKING IN RELIGION AND SCIENCE
Present day science and religion are like the blind people asked to describe an elephant using their sense of touch and deduction, with the predictable contradictory assumptions. One feels the trunk and thinks the elephant is a hose; another feels a leg and thinks it is a pillar, and yet another feels the sides and assumes it is a wall. I don't recall the exact story, but this gives a good idea of how fundamentalist thinkers in religion and materialistic/reductionist thinkers in science diverge in their descriptions and understanding of God's creation and life in general.
There is only one creation, and one Creator, and because people in both science and religion are studying one Reality, they should be in harmony, striving to develop their spiritual insight and intuitive powers, overcoming materialism and ancient, outworn paradigms in both religion and in science. Reductionist, materialistic science and technology in a society lacking real spiritual values and insight is a prescription for disaster, a disaster that will come suddenly and unexpectedly to all mankind. The end of an age, and the dawn of a new age of spiritually and intellectually integrated beings; the beginning of maturity and of a new race of man.
STRIVING FOR FAME AND HAVING OUR NAME REMEMBER HERE ON EARTH
"And suppose your names will be kept, as ye conjecture, would it be of any good to you? No! By the Lord of the Worlds. Doth My power glory in keeping His Name continually among those who worship the Names? No, by the life of God, the Powerful, the Mighty. Should no one mention you on the earth and at the same time God was pleased with you, then ye would be in the treasures of His Hidden Name." Surat'ul Hykal, A. Hadad translation.
THE PLASMA THEORY OF HANNES ALFVEN, AND THE BIG BANG.
In a recent e mail, Ernesto Torres mentioned a book by Eric Lerner called The Big Bang Never Happened, which is based on the plasma theory of Hannes Alfven, a Nobel Prize winner in Sweden. In physics the term plasma refers to a "highly ionized gas, consisting of almost equal numbers of free electrons and positive ions. Phillip Kopper states:'Plasma, which is believed to make up 99% of the universe, is a form of matter distinct from solid liquids, or normal gasses. It is a gaseous state that is electronically neutral in the aggregate but which contains ions, free electrons and neutral particles, and is electrically conductive.'" Dictionary of Science, by R,K. Barnhart
"The plasma universe is a vision created not by cosmologists or astrophysicists but by plasma physicists. Its intellectual progenitor is Hannes Alfven, an 80 year old Swedish Nobel Laureate....He proposed that gravity alone was not responsible for the clumpiness of the cosmos. Instead, vast magnetic vortices, operating through the pinch effect, drew plasma together in space - forming plnets, stars, galaxies, and galaxy clusters - just as small vortices do in the lab."
"The problem with the Big Bang theorists, Alfven argues, is that they try to extrapolate the origin of the universe from mathematical theories rather than from laboratory phenomena - especially from plasma phenomena. In any plasma, he points ou, tiny vortex filaments form spontaneously, and over time they grow larger and larger. Given enough time, Alfven says, there's no reason why cosmic filaments couldn't have grown to a length of billions of light-years. Gathering matter around them, the filaments could have organized the universe into a complex web of magnetic fields, electric currents, and plasma - a kind of cosmic power grid."
"...If Hannes Alfven turns out to be right, Hutton's capsule summary of Earth's history, 'No vestige of a beginning - no prospect of an end,' will be an apt description of the universe itself." Discover, 6/88
IDEAS ABOUT TEACHING THE FAITH
In the Writings of Baha'u'llah we are told that teaching the Faith of God is one of our most important duties as believers, but every individual is different, and we have to find out the most effective way to use our abilities. "This is the day in which to speak. It is incumbent upon the people of Baha to strive, with the utmost patience and forbearance, to guide the peoples of the world to the Most Great Horizon. Every body calleth aloud for a soul. Heavenly souls must needs quicken, with the breath of the Word of God, the dead bodies with a fresh spirit. Within every word a new spirit is hidden. Happy is the man that attaineth thereunto, and hath arisen to teach the Cause of Him Who is the King of Eternity.." "Say: O servants! The triumph of this Cause hath depended, and will continue to depend upon the appearance of holy souls, upon the showing forth of goodly deeds, and the revelation of words of consummate wisdom." (Baha'u'llah in Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 82-3)
Moderation is very important in all we do, but not carried to the extreme of apathy and inaction in our efforts to spread the Spirit of the Faith. Abdu'l-Baha wrote: "Now we must not consider our ability and capacity, nay rather we must fix our gaze upon the bounties of God, Who hath made of the drop a sea, and of the atom a sun." (Abdu'l-Baha, Ibid, p. 57) And we must recognize that the effects of our efforts will not be the same with everyone, and in these times of materialism it is very difficult to awaken souls, and this is true even among card bearing Baha'is. Affirmations of belief and signing membership cards is not a proof of any great degree of spirituality, any more than being "washed in the blood of Christ" makes one a real Christian. On the other hand, many of these people are truly seeking answers, yearning for the companionship of spiritual people, with whom they can communicate with understanding. Abdu'l-Baha spoke of this reality: "Those souls who have the capacity and ability to receive the outpourings of the Kingdom and the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, they become attracted through one word. But people who have not the capacity, no matter how much one explain the divine behests and advice...it will not make an effect, nay, rather they add to their hardness and heedlessness....No sooner is the oil touched by fire than it is ignited, but the heat of the fire will not make any effect upon the black stone.." (Abdu'l-Baha in Baha'i World Faith, p. 365).
This is not to imply that such unresponsive souls cannot change, but often it requires that they experience tests and trials that awaken them to the fact that there is much more to life than material existence. And that is why humanity as a whole must pass through a time of suffering and purification before we are ready to build the new age under the guidance of God. When I pioneered in Europe immediately after World War II, there was an encouraging response to our efforts to teach the Faith, but as Europe once again became prosperous, and materialism became a veil for them, it became more difficult to interest many people in spiritual subjects. I realized this when my wife and I returned to pioneer in France ten years later. Unfortunately humanity has not yet matured enough, and must be awakened to the purpose of life, which is to know and to love God.
So each one of us must teach in the way best suited to our abilities and capacity, for however we teach, it is important that we make some effort. Just how we live and treat other people, with honesty, compassion, forbearance, courtesy, love and generosity is the most important force in teaching the Faith of God, and is the foundation of all other efforts to teach. Some people are timid and bashful, and perhaps they can best teach through community service, and attracting others by their love. Some are more outgoing, and through their ability to communicate clearly, they attract people to the Faith. Some can write well, and today the internet might, despite its excesses, prove a valuable media for spreading the Faith through courtesy, wisdom, and insight into the meanings of the Teachings. The more we do for God, the greater becomes our understanding of the Faith and our spiritual insight, it is the law of Life.
THE LAWS OF LIFE AND THE LAWS OF GOD
The temporal laws given by God with the coming of each new Revelation are intended to promote the unity and well being of humanity. Often people disagree with such laws, which reflect the Law of Life, because they are not in accord with contemporary moral and social codes of the nation or country wherein they reside. In such instances they often do this without really considering the consequences of their acts, or their relationship with God., or they might consider that they know better than God about how they should conduct their lives, which is a serious error. We do not always understand the reasons for such laws until later, or until we suffer the results of disobedience, if we are perceptive enough to see the cause and effect relationships between the law and our flouting of the law. Of course, I am speaking of those believers who know the temporal laws of God, not of those who are unaware of such laws, or who, because of genuine inability to obey such laws, when they are aware of them.
One instance where many are unable to obey the burial law of God given by Baha'u'llah, is during a natural catastrophe, or war, or because of lack of financial means. The Aqdas says that we should bury the dead in coffins of crystal, stone or hard, resistant wood. Many people cannot afford such expensive coffins, and in such instances God is forgiving.
In the West the laws of marriage and divorce are too often ignored by Baha'is. Those planning marriage should obtain the permission of parents of both parties. In some nations this is customary. In some nations it is already the law, as in Belgium where you must notarize the consent of parents, at least until you are 25 years old.. God has a reason for this law, as stated in the Aqdas, para. 65:"We have conditioned it, once the couple's wish is known, upon the permission of their parents, lest enmity and rancor should arise amongst them. And in this We have yet other purposes. Thus hath Our commandment been ordained." We may not know all the reasons or purposes, but if we understand our relationship to our Creator, and His wisdom, we obey. It is interesting to note that in Mesa county, the one adjoining this county in Colorado there were more divorces than marriages last year.
Other laws in the Aqdas we normally follow in the Western nations, but in some other nations and cultures, they might find them new and unusual. The laws concerning cleanliness, avoidance of alcoholic drinks, drugs, reading or reciting some of the Writings from the Manifestation every day before retiring, washing our faces prior to obligatory prayer, etc. are probably considered normal in some countries, and unusual in other societies. I have lived in many nations and traveled through many other nations, and this has given me an awareness of the varied social practices which are a part of the lives of the people in different cultures. It is just as difficult for them to change as it is for Westerners who often consider their freedom of choice to do whatever they wish as being paramount in deciding their course of conduct and lifestyles. In every instance, we must strive to understand our relationship to God, and the purpose of life. When we do this we will begin to appreciate the value of obedience to the Laws of Life and the temporal Laws of God. And remember, as we progress spiritually, reaching higher levels of understanding of creation, new Revelations from God are provided, and new temporal laws will be revealed. Just as Baha'u'llah modified the laws revealed in the Bayan, so will the next Manifestation, the third Letter of the Revelation of the Greatest Name, modify or repeal the laws of the Aqdas.
"Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness." Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, pp 355-6/
This is when we go to extremes with our freedom of choice because of ignorance of the purpose and the Law of Life, People want freedom of choice, but want God to protect them from their own folly, and you cannot have both unless your freedom of choice leads you to obedience to God.
"The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven." Ibid
THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH, REASON AND FAITH
There is logic and then there is faith. Logic is too often based solely on intellectual reasoning using a limited set of what appears to be facts. It is essential in this life, but in spiritual matters logic based on apparent material facts cannot always coincide with spiritual reality, because we cannot possibly know all the facts involved in God's decisions and plans for humanity. There is also a problem of "faith" because often people misunderstand God's intent in His Teachings and prophecies, but stand firmly behind their misinterpretations in spite of events contradicting their "belief". Therefore, each must do his/her best to look at the Teachings as a whole, trying to understand the relationships that exist therein, and using as much rational thinking as is possible in trying to understand the "whole". We must also be pragmatic, to a certain extent, seeking reasonable answers to what to us seems to be God's Plan.
For example, it isn't reasonable to expect the existing Baha'i institutions and organizations to ever achieve world unity, and even today they struggle with internal dissension and are falling victim to the materialism and intellectualism that infect most of society today. And yet, we have the repeated promises that world unity, world government, the unity of religion, the oneness of mankind, the equality of men and women, universal education, redistribution of wealth, etc. etc. will come about before long "Long" is not a precise indicator of the time involved, and I personally believe that it will be another 100 years before a real Lesser Peace is achieved, and the Cause of God will be an important factor in that process, with the fulfillment of Baha'u'llah's prophecy of a "new race of man" promulgating and supporting the Word of God. This is partly the reason I began my research into the prophecies about a coming Manifestation, concerning the completion of the three part Revelation, and the coming of the third Letter of the Greatest Name. There are other reasons as well, and my early thinking about this matter began in 1958, leading to efforts to inform others of this belief (based on what I feel are reasonable arguments of course) beginning about 1977.
Recently a professor of theology has argued repeatedly on one of the Baha'i forums that Baha'u'llah never meant that we are to have a world government based on the Teachings of God with a legislative body headed by an Appointed Interpreter, which Shoghi Effendi calls a new form of theocracy. He quotes various extracts from the Writings of Baha'u'llah wherein it is stated that God does not want the lands, nations and possessions of man, but the hearts of His servants. A world federal government such as described in the Teachings would not imply that the world government would own either nations or the property of the world. It is intended to be democratic and a federation, not a unitary world government, and each nation will send representatives for their people, and have their own internal laws. (See p.152 of The World Order of Baha'u'llah by Shoghi Effendi) In a personal letter to me this professor said that the future UHJ would be like the Catholic Vatican, only involved with religious matters. He said that he thought that the social ills of society would be solved and economic justice would be achieved by free trade throughout the world, a very unrealistic belief. These ideas contradict the statements of Shoghi Effendi according to general understanding, but the professor implies that most Baha'is do not understand the Teachings as well as he does on this subject. He quotes Baha'u'llah in his effort to impress his readers, apparently so that they will heed his words and beliefs.
"They who disregard and neglect the divines and learned that live amongst them - these have truly changed the favor with which God hath favored them." - Baha'u'llah (Reference was not provided)
Perhaps he has overlooked other statements by Baha'u'llah such as: "Notwithstanding the divinely-inspired admonitions of all the Prophets, the saints and the Chosen Ones of God, enjoining the people to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears, they have disdainfully rejected their counsels and have blindly followed and will continue to follow the leaders of their Faith." Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 164. In addition one finds this in the Iqan, p. 182 : "...the divines and doctors of this age, who occupy the seats of knowledge and learning,...have named ignorance knowledge, and called oppression justice. Were these to ask the Light of Truth concerning those images which their idle fancy hath carved, and were they to find His answer inconsistent with their own conceptions and their own understanding of the Book, they would assuredly denounce Him....." (See the Iqan for the entire paragraph.)
Perhaps the point is that not only should we respect and honor people of learning, but everyone else who is upright and honest, whether or not they are "learned." Also, many people are "learned" even though they do not have university degrees. Above all, I believe we should honor those souls who are humble, who strive and struggle to acquire spiritual virtues, and who live a life of service to God and to His people, whether or not they are "learned", Baha'u'llah speaks often of the fact that it is usually such souls who first recognize the Manifestation at the time of declaration, so too much pride in "learning" is often a veil preventing us from seeing Truth and from real spiritual progress. We should make our own decisions, investigate the Faith and try to understand God's creation, and when we find GOOD advice and truth from any source we should heed it.
IN A RECENT BAHA'I FORUM RON HOUSE REMARKED (This is out of context) ----
"I can't think of anything more abominable than to suggest that the loving Creator of all expects intellectual qualifications for receiving His love and His community. ...the faith will never be the universal religion of mankind unless believers can learn to get along with those of differing viewpoints and attitudes. "
Understanding the Word of God is not an intellectual exercise but the bounty of spiritual insight. Intellect is important for greater understanding of God's creation, but it is through spiritual purity and insight that we attain to understanding of God's Faith and His Purpose or Plan. The simplest souls are often the very first to recognize God's Chosen Ones, and such souls are the most precious souls,-- for the very purpose of life is to know and to love God. And because we are all different, we see things in slightly different ways, although some go to extremes which makes it difficult to communicate with them, and we must even treat extremists with understanding, for God's love is all inclusive, which we should try to emulate in our limited way.
CONCERNING THE MANY CONNOTATIONS OF THE WORD "LOVE"
Love is a word often misused in these times, with many connotations, some of which have no relationship with spiritual love. In an age of materialism many peoples' understanding of love is based on physical relationships., and one result of this is increasing infidelity in marriages and a soaring divorce rate.. Because of these more materialistic connotations given the word love, many are afraid to use the word in their relationships and correspondence with others. And yet the very foundation of our existence is based on love. We should know and love God, and as a result we begin to manifest a more universal love in our relationships with other humans, and with all of creation. The ever worsening relationships between nations and people of different beliefs, as well as the pending environmental disaster is a result of the lack of love for God and His creation.
"The first sign of faith is love. The message of the holy, divine Manifestations is love; the phenomena of creation are based upon love; the radiance of the world is due to love; the well-being and happiness of the world depend upon it. Therefore, I admonish you that you must strive throughout the human world to diffuse the light of love. The people of this world are thinking of warfare; you must be peacemakers. The nations are self-centered; you must be thoughtful of others rather than yourselves. They are neglectful; you must be mindful. They are asleep; you should be awake and alert. May each one of you be as a shining star in the horizon of eternal glory. This is my wish for you and my highest hope." Abdu'l-Baha in Promulgation of Universal Peace, p 336-
"Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God's holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven's kindly light... Love is the cause of God's revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation... Strive to become the manifestations of the love of God, the lamps of divine guidance shining amongst the kindreds of the earth with the light of love and concord. All hail to the revealers of this glorious light! "
Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 27-28 and 206
SEPARATION FROM GUARDIANSHIP FORETOLD
"However severe the trials with which they who are to redeem humanity's fortune will be confronted, however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom providence will through the mysterious dispensations raise up from within or from without, may rain upon them, however grievous the ordeal of temporary separation from the heart and nerve-center of their faith which unforeseeable disturbances may impose upon them....'
Message from Shoghi Effendi, called Summons of the Lord of Hosts, June 30, 1952
" Thus may ye remain unshaken by the painful occurrences in the Holy Land, and remain firm throughout the disastrous events. If all the friends oppose (the Cause) with sword and one remain (firm), he will be the proclaimer of God, a divine herald, and will stand before all upon the earth." Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 379
"O ye spiritual friends! Firmness must reach a degree that if all the souls (Baha'is) be destroyed by the evil wishers and there remain but one, that one singly and alone should be capable of withstanding all who live on earth, and of spreading the fragrances of holiness."
Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 25
"There are before you so many temptations, trials, afflictions, calamities and difficulties because you have to be purified through fire and sifted through the sieve in order to separate the wheat from the tares. Verily, I say unto you; none will be saved but the believers, and from the believers only the sincere, and even those are in great danger, especially in such a time."
Abdu'l-Baha in Baha'i Scriptures, p. 443
It is useful to be reminded of these warnings because they describe what is happening today in the "Baha'i" communities. People may be "enemies" of the Cause unintentionally simply by altering the Teachings and the interpretations of the Appointed Interpreters to suit their desires and claims for leadership without understanding their personal motives or the consequences of their acts, In these times of materialism the desire for titles and positions of power is often an overwhelming desire for some souls, blinding them to truth.
WISHING DOES NOT MAKE IT SO, NOR DOES WHAT WE HAPPEN TO BELIEVE NECESSARILY COINCIDE WITH REALITY.
Wishing will not make it so, but if it is followed by positive action and effort, it might be possible to make it so, but the wish alone is day dreaming. Our beliefs too often amount to wishes, without adequate foundation in reality, and not the result of investigation, careful thought, and honest appraisal of the results of such efforts. If, for example, you say that you don't believe in God, and you sincerely believe that everything is accidental, that doesn't mean much, and the existence of God is unaffected by such a belief. If you believe in God, that doesn't mean much either unless you strive to base your belief on as much knowledge as possible of creation, and of the Manifestations. That means constant striving to increase your understanding and knowledge of this life, this creation and of the purpose and lives of the Manifestations. A very few people have what the psychologist Maslow called "peak experiences", an inner spiritual experience that provides those few with a certainty of the existence of God, but the rest of us must strive and struggle. There are those who live through what is known as near death experiences, which are also intensely spiritual and provide those few with unshakeable assurance of the existence of God and the after life.
There is the tendency among many to anthropomorphize God, to limit Him with our limitations, and this is a belief resulting from too little thought, investigation and knowledge of creation. These people say that if we cannot imagine an attribute, then God cannot have such an attribute. In the Gleanings there are many references to this subject. "He is indeed a true believer in the unity of God, who, in this Day, will regard Him as One immeasurably exalted above all the comparisons and likenesses with which men have compared Him. He hath erred grievously who hath mistaken these comparisons and likenesses for God Himself. Consider the relations between the craftsman and his handiwork, between the painter and his painting. Can it ever be maintained that the work their hands have produced is the same as themselves? By Him Who is the Lord of the Throne above and the earth below! They can be regarded in no other light except as evidences that proclaim the excellence and perfection of their author." (P.336) If we claim to believe in God's Manifestations and contradict their Words proclaiming the excellence of the Creator, because we cannot comprehend His knowledge and omnipotence, then, of course our professions of belief are not well grounded. I believe that in the New Testament it speaks of such belief as having an unstable foundation of sand, but of course such people might say that nature is god, and that it is "just that way" so they can say whatever they wish about nature which they believe they control, an assumption that is today being put to the test.
It serves no purpose to be annoyed and angry with those who do not share our beliefs. We all have a great deal to learn in this life, and people are in all degrees of development. If we are wise we keep an open mind, whether in the search for temporal knowledge or spiritual insight ,always trying to improve our understanding of life and creation, accepting the fact that whatever we believe ,it is always subject to improvement and of providing a door to a higher degree of belief and of comprehension of God and existence. . If we share our understanding with others who are interested, and we can be of help to them, it does not mean we are superior beings, because we are all together in this life and school of existence. It is a bounty if we can help others and have the humility to be able to accept beneficial help and guidance from others. So, it is wise to be able to listen to the beliefs of others even if you find them of no help, or if you consider them to be in error. There is a saying; "The good deeds of the saints are the sins of the near ones", which means , I believe, that we will always need to improve no matter how far we have progressed spiritually.
This is, of course, what I believe, or at least one aspect of my beliefs.
SACRIFICE AND TESTS ESSENTIAL TO SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT
The path to God is one of sacrifices and tests, requiring great courage and love on the part of the seeker, and a steadfastness that overcomes all obstacles. Nothing worthwhile in life is attained without great effort. Nearness to God and severance of the ties to this material existence requires a dedication and constancy that gives the servant the strength to face every disappointment and to arise anew in the inner struggle to achieve the ultimate victory over self. All of the conditioned thinking we have acquired in our daily lives because of the particular social environment wherein we dwell, must be surrendered. All of the physical and intellectual habits that draw us back to the world of the mundane must be sacrificed. These earthly thoughts and possessions, habits and pleasures, are like the cocoon the caterpillar weaves around itself and which it must ultimately leave as the radiant butterfly. But first it must cut away, with courage and steadfast endurance, the covering and limitations of the cocoon of slavery to materialism in act or thought, and assume an entirely new level of existence, totally different from what we consider to be the normal life of man, rising to the true station of spiritual man, the sanctified and liberated soul, reflecting in this life, and with great fidelity, the will of God. (From Tariqat)
IF TESTS WERE NOT DIFFICULT, THEY MIGHT NOT REALLY BE TESTS.
Often we are tested, and pray for God to remove our problems, but do not receive the answer we desire, and the test continues. Actually, our prayers are answered and the experience we wish to avoid is vital to our spiritual progress. In one instance Baha'u'llah wrote that we must have "patience, nay thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance upon God under all circumstances." Not easy to do all the time. On the other hand, there are tests of temptation, which, when we give in to them, demonstrate to us weaknesses in our characters which must be overcome. It is always difficult for our finite minds to understand God and His ways, as it is written in Hidden Words 66 Arabic: "Ye shall be hindered from loving Me, and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me."
I mention this because someone in Iran sent me an e mail about the tests and difficulties she faces in that nation which are probably difficult for us to imagine in the Western nations. I pioneered in Spain while Francisco Franco was still dictator there, and since Baha'is were not openly welcomed in a nation controlled by the Catholic Church, we had to be very careful in how and where we taught, as did the Spanish believers. In theory other religions were permitted, but the followers were closely watched by government agents. Protestants had a tiny church, and those attending were observed by government agents. As long as such governments or religious fundamentalists are in control of a nation, life can be very unpleasant for Baha'is.
PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS, INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH AND THINKING Here is something the Guardian wrote, but which the existing UHJ has forgotten. "The unity of the human race as envisaged by Baha'u'llah implies the establishment of a world commonwealth...in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded." Baha'i World 1954-63, page 179. And in another place he wrote:"It would be unnecessary and confusing to state authoritatively and officially a dogmatic Baha'i interpretation to be universally accepted and taught by the believers. Such matters I feel should be left to the personal judgement and insight of individual teachers...." Unfolding Destiny ,Messages to UK members, p 423 But he also said that the believers should not force their interpretations on other believers. Believers should be permitted to think for themselves and to search for truth by themselves without having other believers tell them how to think. The existing UHJ has exceeded its authority and failed to use good judgement in its condemnation of Alison Marshall and many others And so, the Baha'i A.O. is in serious trouble spiritually.. As the Guardian remarked to one of the Pilgrims, we need more spiritual Baha'is and fewer administrators, but instead the administrators have proliferated and the Spirit of the Faith has suffered as a consequence.
According to the interpretations of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi in the future world federal system, whatever it might be called, the Appointed Interpreters are to have only ONE vote, and they will be there to ask the legislative body to reconsider any laws which are contrary to the laws and Word of God. They are not to make decisions, they are to have only one vote and the entire legislative body decides together by majority vote. This is for the future, of course, because people are not spiritually ready for this interrelationship with the Holy Spirit in our lives, we are still too immature to realize that all creation is interrelated, and the Word of God is actually the creative and governing force. But humans are given this freedom even in the future, to voluntarily recognize their spiritual relationship to God and to act accordingly. In that time there will be no need for any form of clergy, and spiritual leaders will be only known by their spiritual qualities, but without any authority over anyone except by the example of their spiritual wisdom and attributes. HOWEVER, when the next Manifestation appears, the exact nature of the future World Order will be made known. The above is my personal interpretation and understanding.
I entered this information on one of the Baha'i forums which is rather strictly controlled by the UHJ followers and it caused some excitement because I quoted the words of the Guardian about independent thinking, and the fact that the UHJ has worked to limit freedom of interpretation and expression, even to the point of taking away the community rights of many believers, and causing many others to leave their particular version of the Baha'i Faith and administrative order. They also did not appreciate my belief that another Manifestation would re-establish the Guardianship, because, one of them inferred, the Hands had said that the Guardianship was bada, that God had changed His Mind about the Guardianship. Perhaps such people do not realize that we do not know what God knows, and everything that has happened and will happen is known to God and is in accord with His Plan for humanity.
I made a subsequent entry using the words of Shoghi Effendi where (In Dispensation) he says that without a Guardian the UHJ cannot function properly, and that an Appointed Interpreter is essential to its existence. This bought angry replies that they do not need a Guardian because the UHJ without a Guardian is infallible, and anyhow, they have the writings of the Guardian to replace the Guardian himself. This means that those people are contradicting Shoghi Effendi's interpretations in Dispensation which state that the Guardian must tell the members of the UHJ when their proposed legislation is contrary to the intent of the Word of God. What all this indicates is that they are ignoring the actual interpretations of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi when such interpretations indicate that their UHJ is not set up according to the Teachings, and instead they go to the Writings of Baha'u'llah and make their own interpretations with passages taken out of context.
Another interesting issue is that on some of the other Baha'i forums there is much ado about the idea that somehow the Guardian would control the legislation of a real UHJ, but those people should also read things a bit more carefully, since it is said that the Guardian insists that they RECONSIDER proposed legislation that goes against the intent of the Word of God, but in the end the Guardian has only ONE vote in the final decisions about legislation decided upon by a real UHJ. Mankind is still free to go astray on this earth if we ignores the Word of God, the Creator of humans and all existence, or as the Bab would say, the Creator of Heaven and Earth and everything between.
MORE ON TESTS AND TRIBULATION
Heisenberg the physicist observed that it is extremely difficult for scientists raised under one paradigm relating to the science of their day, to accept new theories because they feel as if the ground is pulled from beneath their feet. It seems as if everyone has this problem in varying degrees, and it is especially noticeable among Baha'is who have accepted the claims of the various groups without careful thought and independent investigation. If inquirers come into the Faith accepting certain ideas about the meaning and organization of the Faith, presented by those who teach them the Faith, then that is the basis upon which their concept and understanding of the Faith is founded. That to them IS THE BAHA'I FAITH, even though it is not in accord with the actual Teachings. As a result, they will not read or at least accept even the statements of the Appointed Interpreters, Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, that contradict their accepted paradigm about the Faith. What usually awakens such souls is some sort of severe test within their Baha'i community, some disappointment in their expectations of what Baha'i conduct in their community should be. I know from my own experiences in the 1960s how such disappointments tend to awaken one to the necessity for careful study and a new understanding of the Teachings. AND THIS IS TRUE OF SOCIETY IN GENERAL, because people have accepted the social dogmas, mental conditioning related to a materialistic society, and the prevailing spiritual inertia. That is why we are heading toward a cataclysmic upheaval that will awaken people and mark the turning point in human _spiritual evolution_
THE CALAMITY HAS ALREADY ARRIVED FOR MILLIONS OF PEOPLE. THE FAILURE OF COMPASSION AND JUSTICE IN THE WORLD (www.bread.org)
1. Hunger fact: In developing countries, one child in 10 dies before his fifth birthday. By comparison, in the United States one child in 165 will die before turning five years old.
2. In developing countries, 6 million children die each year, mostly from hunger-related causes.
In the United States, 12 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger.
3. In the last 50 years, almost 400 million people worldwide have died from hunger and poor sanitation, according to the report. That's three times the number of people killed in all wars fought in the entire 20th century. (BFWI)
4. The wealthiest fifth of the world's people consume an astonishing 86 percent of all goods and services, while the poorest fifth consumes one-percent.
5.America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest network of food banks, reports that 21 million people turned to the agencies they serve in 1997, a 17 percent increase. Forty percent were from working families.
RELIGION AND SPIRIT-CONNOTATIONS
The original meaning of the word religion has been lost for most people, and today it too often has negative connotations. When speaking of the Faith of God in its pure form it would seem preferable to avoid using the name religion. The word "religion" has come to indicate religious organizations with leaders who seek to dominate the thinking of others for their own glorification, and clergy that keep their "flocks" in line with the interpretations of the organization leaders. It calls to mind religious oppression and wars over distorted beliefs. It reminds one of the nations that are at war, every one of them claiming that "God is with us.". It is of no use to say that this is not in line with the definition of "religion" ----the word has taken on a different meaning than dictionary definitions. Better to say that what today constitutes "religion" is not the same as God's Faith, but it is a creation of man using distorted versions of the Words of God to promote individual power.
Abdu'l-Baha states that the Beast of the Apocalypse refers to religious organizations that have lost the Spirit of Faith. This is what has happened to a large degree with almost every "religion" not long after the passing of the Manifestation of each Faith. In the Book of Revelation it speaks of the two dead bodies in the streets of Sodom and Egypt, and Abdu'l-Baha says this is symbolic of the bodies of Muhammad and Ali, or the Spirit of Faith in Islam which has been lost in the organizations that were created by Muslims. Now, events move at a much more rapid pace than in past ages, and already we see a similar development in the Baha'i Administration and in the splinter groups. In the Tablet of the Holy Mariner it describes this development, even though the members of the Baha'i organizations point at one another as being the subject of the prophecy, not them. It applies to every one of them.
Concerning the prophecy of the Tablet of the Holy Mariner (See Baha'i Prayers, 1982 edition, p. 221) Abdu'l-Baha wrote: "Study the Tablet of the Holy Mariner that ye may know the truth, and consider that the Blessed Beauty hat fully foretold future events. Let those who perceive take warning." .In that Tablet Baha'u'llah speaks thusly of future 'Baha'is:"By the Lord, I found not from these idle claimants the breeze of faithfulness!"And, concerning the condition of the Faith in these days, He wrote: "They all gathered around her, and lo! They found her body fallen upon the dust. Glorified be our Lord, the Most High!" I understand this to symbolically refer to the body is the Spirit of the Faith. Compare this to the two bodies found in Sodom and Egypt mentioned in Revelation 11:8, and explained by Abdu'l-Baha in Some Answered Questions, Chap XI, pp. 60-61. This is indicative of Baha'is who consider their religious organization first in their priorities, rather than the spiritual values, and commandments of God.
We refer to the Teachings of Baha'u'llah as the Baha'i Faith. The Administrative Order as it is today, in all the Baha'i groups, could qualify as being religious organizations, becoming more and more similar to past religious organizations. Those organizations I would refer to as the Baha'i religion, not as the Baha'i Faith. I have suggested in a previous commentary that I believe that the Baha'i administrative organizations will be the final religious organizations in our spiritual evolution. In the future, when most of humanity accepts the truth that there is one God and one Faith the need for any religious organization will have passed, even if a few such organizations remain here and there until they fade away. This, at least, is what I believe. I think a good indication of how people of the future must search for truth is in these words of Baha'u'llah, telling people that they should not permit religious leaders to think for them. "Notwithstanding the divinely-inspired admonitions of all the Prophets, the saints and the Chosen Ones of God, enjoining the people to see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears, they have disdainfully rejected their counsels and have blindly followed, and will continue to follow the leaders of their Faith." Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 164 This is one goal of our spiritual evolution, to mature enough to search independently within our souls, without need of priests, counselors, or any of their assistants to tell us how to think. To take whatever valuable knowledge comes our way, and make our own evaluation of its merits, and to always search for higher truth.
ENTERING THE CAUSE OF GOD IN TROOPS
I believe that when Abdu'l-Baha spoke about people entering the Cause in troops He was not referring to these times, but to a future awakening of mankind, which will only come after a time of cataclysm, a time of testing and purification which is mentioned so often in the Writings. This logic is borne out by this statement by Abdu'l-Baha which is more relevant to current happenings in the Baha'i communities. "There are before you so many temptations, trials, afflictions, calamities and difficulties because you have to be purified through fire and sifted through the sieve in order to separate the wheat from the tares. Verily, I say unto you; none will be saved but the believers, and from the believers only the sincere, and even those are in great danger, especially in such a time." Abdu'l-Baha in Baha'i Scriptures, p. 445 "O ye spiritual friends ! Firmness must reach a degree that if all the souls (Baha'is) be destroyed by the evil wishers and there remain but one, that one singly and alone should be capable of withstanding all who live on earth, and of spreading the fragrances of holiness."..... If all the_ friends_ oppose (the Cause of God) with sword and one remain (firm), he will be the proclaimer of God, a divine herald, and will stand before all upon the earth." Abdu'l-Baha in Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, pp. 25, 379__After WWII Shoghi Effendi gave this warning concerning our need to remain steadfast in the face of coming trials: "However severe the trials with which they who are to redeem humanity's fortune will be confronted, however afflictive the darts which their present enemies, as well as those whom providence will through His mysterious dispensations raise up from within or without, may rain upon them....". (Excerpt from message Summons of the Lord of Hosts, 6/30/52) Note that he speaks of enemies within the community as well as those who are not members.
Baha'u'llah also spoke about a time of "separation" which would affect everyone on earth, including those who claim to be His followers, and which would come before the time of cataclysmic events. The point is that current happenings within the Baha'i communities should not be unexpected, and they are a part of a spiritual process essential to the awakening of mankind. As Muhammad said: "Do you think you can say `I believe' and not be tested?" After this process of purification and awakening of humanity to the important values of life, which are the spiritual values, then the time when people enter God's Cause, whatever it might be called at that time, in large numbers. The present is gloomy, but the future is very bright. It is a time to prove our faith and sincerity when times are tough.
FAITH, BELIEF, STEADFASTNESS
The proof of faith is when we remain steadfast in our love and service of God, trusting in His promises and the efficacy of His Word, in the midst of the most severe trials. Now, when the current Baha'i community is in the process of turmoil and division, we must have confidence and absolute faith that the promises of God will be fulfilled, even though we do not always understand how or when. "Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears." Baha'u'llah, Tablet of Ahmad
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT SUBTLE ENERGIES
"Miracles do not happen in contradiction to nature, but only in contradiction to that which is known to us in nature." St. Augustine
One of the researchers into subtle energies is Dr. Wm A. Tiller who joined the Stanford University faculty of physics in 1964 after working nine years at the Westinghouse Research Lab. He became Professor Emeritus in 1992 to devote himself to research in solid state physics and materials science as well as in his avocational field, psychoenergetics. He wrote: "There is now a large body of experimental data in the general area of psychoenergetics associated with the directed focus of human intention. Remote influence experiments with healers, remote viewing experiments, investigation of psychokinetics, clairvoyance, homeopathy, and other phenomena confound the established picture of natural laws but attest to the existence of processes which require the involvement of emotional, mental, spiritual and other inadequately understood domains of science." (From Science and Medicine, May/June 1999,Vol. 6, No. 3)
There is very little known about formative fields in the development of the human embryo from a few stem cells. If all stem cells in the embryo can become any part of the body, then there must be a directive, formative field guiding those cells to form the appropriate organs, bones, muscles, etc. at the proper locations in the developing embryo. Today there is considerable discussion of stem cells, but not much is known about them except that they apparently can become any sort of cell in the human body, activating other cells as well. Such formative fields controlling morpho- genesis are classified as "subtle energies", which has become sort of a blanket term for valid research as well as for nonsense.
If you look up this subject on internet search engines you will find some valuable articles such as the one by Dr. Tiller, as well as some ridiculous sites, and even one or two pornographic sites, all using the blanket term of "subtle energies.".. However, there is serious research being done to understand and utilize the power of prayer and psychic healing by healers in the cure and prevention of some diseases. There are limitations of course, but the importance of these forces is being recognized more in Western civilization, although people have been aware of them for ages. "There are two ways of healing sickness, material means and spiritual means. The first is the use of remedies, of medicines; the second consists in praying to God, and in turning to Him. Both means should be used and practiced." (Abdu'l-Baha) Today more physicians and surgeons are praying with their patients, or alone for their patients, which is a great advance in understanding the power of prayer (also called a "subtle force" by some)..Through prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit can heal in ways we call miraculous
It is interesting to note that "healers" can help certain maladies in patients who have complete faith in the healers regardless of the distance between healer and patient, indicating that such spiritual forces are not limited by time and space. Such healing usually involves nervous disorders or psychological disorders, or other physical ailments resulting from such disorders. For a more detailed discussion by Abdu'l-Baha of healing, see Some Answered Questions..
COMMUNICATIONS WITH THOSE ON THE NEXT PLANE OF EXISTENCE
"Question: Can a departed converse with someone still on earth?"
"Answer: A conversation can be held, but not as our conversation. There is no doubt that the forces of the higher worlds interplay with the forces of this plane. The heart of man is open to inspiration, this is spiritual communication. As in a dream one talks with a friend while the mouth is silent." Abdu'l-Baha, in Paris Talks, p. 179
(See also Love Beyond Life by Joel Martin and Patricia Reomanouwski)
While we will be able to obtain some sort of indication on our technological instruments of some of the subtle energies that have direct and discernable results in this level of creation (as in morphogenesis) others on the higher, spiritual level can only be experienced through our personal spiritual contacts with the deceased, in one form or another. A few are especially gifted with psychic abilities such as clairvoyance, mental telepathy, and in rare instances with psychokinetic powers.
Everyone has some degree of psychic ability, and Abdu'l-Baha compared it to the child in the womb having eyes which can not be properly utilized or to function as intended until after birth . So to use psychic powers to earn money, for example, is a misuse of that undeveloped power. But those who are especially gifted should live as others, not necessarily suppressing that ability. My grandmother Carre was president of a New York psychic society with considerable psychic ability, which led her to find Abdu'l-Baha when He came to New York. After meeting and conversing with Abdu'l-Baha she gave up her membership in the psychic society, but her ability remained, however. I would believe that intuition is one of the manifestations of this ability of the soul, a very beneficial attribute in many fields of human endeavor.
The communication we have with the deceased usually involves an expression of love and reassurance by the departed soul, and many have had such dreams when a loved one died. Near death experiences have given a few the experience of being, for a brief time, in what one might call the doors of the next level of existence. There they are brought into the presence of a "Being of Light", which apparently is the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and each person sees this Being differently, as Christ or Muhammad, etc. according to their current beliefs. It is an experience which profoundly changes their lives.
One should be aware, however, that there are many frauds in society, who pray on the public with promises of communicating with family members who have died. But we can have communication through dreams, and prayers, which enable us to help our loved ones who have died and they can help us in this life.
"Blessed is the soul, which at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds. If any man be told that which hath been ordained for such a soul in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne on high and of the earth below, his whole being will instantly blaze out in his great longing to attain that most exalted, that sanctified and resplendent station....: Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, p. 156
Biodiversity Shrinks as Farm Breeds Die Out
By David Brough
ROME (Reuters) - Breeds of farm animal are dying out and types of plant disappearing at an alarming rate, threatening long-term food security and depriving the world of their ability to resist disease and harsh climates. The United Nations world food body says two breeds of farm animals disappear each week, and 1,350 breeds face extinction. Over the past 15 years, 300 out of 6,000 breeds of farm animal identified by the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have become extinct.
Latest information suggests that 30 percent of the world's farm animal breeds are at risk of disappearing, and their valuable traits, such as their ability to adapt to harsh conditions, disease, drought and poor quality feed, could be lost too. ``Once you lose a genetic resource, it's gone forever,'' said Ricardo Cardellino, the FAO's senior officer for animal genetic resources. ``We don't know what we will need in future in terms of genetic resources.''
Plant varieties are also disappearing fast. The FAO estimates that over time 10,000 plant species were used for human food and agriculture. Now no more than 120 cultivated species provide 90 percent of human food supplied by plants. More than 90 percent of the agricultural diversity that existed at the start of the 20th century has been lost. Given the expected doubling of food needs in the next three decades as the world's population grows, biodiversity will be essential to food security, the FAO says.
The risk of depending on just a few varieties of plants and animals is great because they could fall victim to disease or drought. ``Farmers depend upon this diversity to raise animals able to respond to unpredictable changes in the environment, threats of disease, or changing market conditions,'' an FAO document said. ``Further erosion of animal diversity invites disaster as options for long-term productivity and sustainability are lost.'' Hartwig de Haen, an FAO assistant director-general, said: ''Insofar as biodiversity makes ecosystems more resistant to the vagaries of climate..., it contributes to alleviating hunger.''
Over the past decade, the FAO has helped collect data from some 170 countries on domesticated mammals and birds: cattle, goats, sheep, buffalo, yaks, pigs, horses, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, even ostriches. The greatest threat to domestic animal diversity is the export of animals from developed to developing countries, which leads to cross-breeding or even replacement of local breeds. Many indigenous breeds are being replaced in both developed and developing countries by a few high production breeds which, to be successful, require costly feed and maintenance, skilled management and benign environments. High-production Holstein cows now provide much of the milk drunk in northern Europe and North America.
As for plants, industrial farming and globalization have contributed to dwindling diversity. ``If you want tomatoes that can be taken to the market and remain hard, are the same size and don't mature rapidly, then you could end up with just a few varieties,'' Cardellino said.
Shrinking biodiversity is bad news for mankind because it puts too much reliance on too few crops and farm animal species. ``If biodiversity continues to shrink, we are increasing the risks of producing a large percentage of our food based on few varieties or breeds,'' Cardellino said. ``If anything goes wrong -- say, a variety is susceptible to a disease -- then we could lose a lot.'' FAO believes that using agricultural diversity is the best way to conserve it. ``We cannot have a zoo where we have all the breeds in the world,'' Cardellino said. ``They have to be used.'' FAO has introduced a global strategy to manage farm animal resources, which aims to document existing breeds, develop and improve their use in agriculture, and maintain those not currently of interest to breeders.
WITHOUT GOD'S INTERVENTION IN HUMAN EVOLUTION, IF WE FOLLOW OUR
PRESENT PATH THEN T.S. ELIOT'S POEM /PROPHECY WILL BE FULFILLED.
"Between the idea ....And the reality....Between the motion....And the act....Falls the shadow--------
This is the way the world ends...........Not with a bang but a whimper." T.S. Eliot
EARTH STRESSED, STRETCHED BY POPULATION BOOM
Economy, ecology out of sync: environmentalist
By GARY TEGLER (Japan Times newspaper)
SEIKA, Kyoto Pref. -- Collapsing fisheries, shrinking farmland and rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are symptoms of severe stress put on the environment by a world whose population is spinning out of control, according to Lester Brown, chairman and founder of the prestigious Worldwatch Institute in Washington. Speaking here earlier this week at "World Environment Forum 2001" at Keihanna Plaza, Brown took up the issue of a coming paradigm shift in the relation between the world economy and world ecology.
Before a crowd of more than 200 businesspeople, students, scholars and environmentalists, he sounded a note of dire warning, but also emphasized that even with the present technology we can begin solving environmental problems. He began with the startling revelation that the world's population has grown more in the last 50 years than it grew during the preceding 4 million years. "We have designed an economy that has been highly successful in growth terms up to now, but one that is increasingly out of sync with the Earth's ecosystem," Brown said. "I don't think we have grasped what it means, nor the consequences."
Brown chose two examples to illustrate the seriousness of the current situation -- the melting of the world's ice and the decline of water tables around the globe. Last August, an American icebreaker reached the North Pole only to find there was no ice. Studies have shown that the Arctic Sea has lost more than 40 percent of its ice in the last 35 years alone, he said.
A 1-meter rise in the ocean's levels, well within the range of possibility according to a World Bank study published last year, would result in Bangladesh losing half its rice fields. Similar trends in the Himalayas, the source of Asia's major rivers, will eventually change the hydrology of Asia, Brown said. His second observation dealt with the decline of water tables and aquifers around the world due to overpumping and inefficient management. Despite a tendency for many people to view water scarcity as a regional problem, what is happening in China should concern us all, he said. Aquifers in China have been falling dramatically wherever the land is flat. The water table under Beijing fell last year by nearly 3 meters, while in the North China Plain, which produces 40 percent of China's grain harvest, the water table has been falling almost 1 ½ meters a year. As demand for water by cities and industries increases, China has continually diverted water from agriculture. "Grain is then imported to offset the loss of productive capacity," Brown said. "We are feeding ourselves, in part, by borrowing water from our children. That's not a winning proposition," he said. Water scarcity is also moving across national borders via the international grain trade.
Regarding Japan, Brown acknowledged that the country leads the world in the design and manufacture of rooftop solar panels, but feels the country can do far more in exploring alternative sources of energy. "It seems to me that Japan is falling behind," he noted. "In a country as rich in geothermal energy resources, we should be seeing a lot more progress than we are. Solar energy is good and will certainly play an important role in Third World villages that are still not on a grid. But Japan is doing very little on wind and almost nothing on geothermal," Brown said. "These are two of the major energy sources for the new energy economy."
Indeed, one of the world's main sources of energy in the future may, literally, be blowing in the wind. Brown cited studies by the U.S. Department of Energy that looked at wind resources throughout the country. North Dakota, Kansas and Texas have sufficient wind energy that can be harnessed to satisfy the nation's electricity needs, according to the report. In Europe, countries including Denmark, Scotland, Germany and the Netherlands are beginning to locate wind farms offshore using technology learned from the oil industry.
Brown noted, however, that the severity of the Earth's environmental problems is obscured by the marketplace. "The market is giving us the wrong signal," he said. "For example, if you burn a liter of gasoline, the price of that gasoline reflects the cost of pumping the oil out of the ground, refining and delivering the gasoline to the service station. You buy the gasoline. What you do not pay for is the cost of damages to crops and forests from acid rain, the costs of climate disruption or air pollution. The challenge is how to get the market to tell the truth. The way to do that is to restructure the tax system so that when we buy a liter of gasoline, we pay the full cost of using it," he said.
He also decried government subsidization of scarce resources. "One of the biggest items in the budgets of the U.S. and
India is subsidies to farmers to buy electricity," he explained. "They get electricity at a small fraction of what it costs to run
their irrigation pumps. This is subsidizing the depletion of aquifers. Since it costs nothing to pump, farmers use it
************************************************************************* GLOBAL WARMING (Synergy Africa (Lusaka))
Global warming is likely to boost the world's food production but 40 of the world's poorest nations will show sharp drops, a study conducted by the Austria-based International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis has revealed. Whilst developing countries have contributed relatively little to the causes of global warming, these countries will bear the brunt of climate change through loss of food production. The report has shown a widening gap between rich and poor nations in food production.
The report notes that in general countries near the equator, in which most of the world's poor live, will suffer most as the temperature rises, while cold lands nearer the poles grow more fertile.
DENVER (AP) About 1,000 elk in three private Colorado herds were found to be infected with a brain ailment called chronic wasting disease and will be destroyed. One herd is in south-central Colorado, raising concerns the disease could spread into the state's renowned Western Slope elk and deer herds. ``We simply can't let it get away,'' said Russell George, director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The other two herds are in the northern part of the state, where the disease has been present for decades.
(Added note: One of the effects of global warming is now being felt throughout the world with heat waves and massive forest fires, all of which increases the carbon dioxide and global warming=8/7/03)
NON-EXISTENCE AND THE DEGREES OF CREATION
The terms "non-existent" and "illusion" are quite abstract unless we define what we mean. Compared to the human soul, a stone is non- existent, yet at its own level it exists. If we realize our non- existence in comparison to God it simply means that we recognize that God is far beyond our comprehension, in a realm of existence which makes a comparison with our existence impossible, and so we say that in comparison to God we are non-existent. Yet it is obvious that for us to recognize this reality of God's unknowable Essence, we exist on our own level..Our only knowledge of God is through His attributes, or at least those within our capability to comprehend and emulate. Even the meanings of eternal and infinite are beyond our comprehension, and cannot be applied to humans except to the extent that once created our existence is eternal, according to the promises given in the Holy Books.
Our knowledge of God is through His attributes reflected in His creation, and especially in His Manifestations. Again, in comparison to the Manifestations of God we can say that we are non-existent. Clearly then, the term can only be used in a figurative sense, not a literal sense. We remain in our station as humans, and we cannot attain the station or level of a Manifestation. "...the reality of the spirit of Peter, however far it may progress, will not reach to the condition of the Reality of Christ; It progresses only in its own environment." SAQ Chap LXIII And we can only understand that which is within our level of creation, our human station, our reality. "As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible to comprehend in its essence,the Divine Reality, which is unlimited?" SAQ, Chap. LIX
Those who state that this material creation is only an illusion, must surely mean that this is true only according to our level of existence and our level of observation. As long as we are living on this earth, the material creation is real for us, even if we know that it is a composed creation, of interrelations and interdependence. As Abdu'l-Baha said, the infinite universe is interconnected physically and spiritually. Fritjof Capra, who earned his PhD in Theoretical Physics in Vienna, and worked in high energy physics in the U.S. and Europe, expressed it this way:"For many people, including myself, it is philosophically and spiritually more satisfying to assume that the cosmos as a whole is alive, rather than thinking of life on Earth existing within a lifeless universe. Within the framework of science, however, we cannot --or at least, not yet -- make such statements....." Web Of Life p. 217 "The realization that systems are integrated wholes that cannot be understood by analysis was even more shocking in physics than in biology. Ever since Newton, physicists had believed that all physical phenomena could be reduced to the properties of hard and solid particles. In the 1920s, however, quantum theory forced them to accept the fact that the solid material objects of classical physics dissolve at the subatomic level into wavelike patterns of probabilities. These patterns, moreover, do not represent probabilities of things, but rather probabilities of interconnections. The subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can be understood only as interconnections, or correlations, among various processes of observation and measurement. In other words, subatomic particles are not "things", but interconnections among things, and these, in turn, are interconnections among other things, and so on. In quantum physics we never end up with any 'things', we always end up with interconnections." Ibid p. 30
So from the level of intellectual understanding we recognize that this creation we presently inhabit is far more complex than what we feel and see, and yet it exists on this level for us, and when we die we pass on to a higher level, which makes this level of existence seem to be an illusion in comparison to the after life, yet both are real. And it is all an expression of God's power, wisdom, love, mercy, compassion, and all the other spiritual attributes that are within our human capacity to emulate through spiritual effort and courage. There is more to creation than meets the eye, and to consider ourselves as non-existent in comparison to God is spiritual recognition of our station. For in Hidden Words 8 it is written:"There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me, for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own; to put thy trust in Me, and not in thyself, since I desire to be loved alone and above all that is."
FOLLOWERS OF "ANCIENT WISDOM" FROM THE EAST
During my many years as a Baha'i I have met many people who say they are Baha'is, and yet they adulterate the Teachings of Baha'u'llah with what they call ancient wisdom which they acquire from the writings of priests of past philosophies and religions. They find in those teachings certain concepts which support their personal aspirations and their dreams of spiritual glory and power, but which are contrary to the Teachings revealed through Baha'u'llah. They sometimes refer to this as diversity in the Faith, but in truth what they end up with is a contradiction to some of the basic teachings of the Faith. Of course everyone is free to follow what they wish to believe, but they ought not try to alter the Teachings of Baha'u'llah while claiming to be Baha'is.
If you seek "ancient wisdom" you should consider:
1. That God is the Creator of the universe, and He has existed eternally. He created those who are supposedly dispensers of ancient wisdom. His wisdom is the most ancient.
2. If you believe that Baha'u'llah manifests the wisdom and Word of God, then it follows that this Revelation from God precedes all other sources of "ancient wisdom", and is the MOST ancient wisdom. In any event, the ancient books from the East which provide the source of the so-called "ancient wisdom" these people cling to, are most likely distorted versions of teachings from earlier Manifestations.
3. Consider. If you have a room with ten people in a row, and the first one whispers something into the ear of the second person, and that person tries to repeat exactly what he/she heard to the next person, and so on, until you reach the tenth person and ask what he/she heard, it is usually quite different from the original message. This is only an example to indicate what happens over hundreds and thousands of years when teachings are passed down, first by word of mouth and later in written form which is often slightly altered each time it is translated or copied by priests who are the "spiritual leaders" of the masses, then you begin to realize how likely it is that the original "wisdom" has changed.
The suggestion is that if you believe in Baha'u'llah as the Manifestation of God, then you recognize that the Source of His wisdom is God, the true Source of the most ancient, eternal, wisdom. You then accept that the attributes revealed through Baha'u'llah, such as infallibility, omniscience, etc. do not originate in Baha'u'llah, but are manifestations from God through Baha'u'llah.
PRAY FOR A PEACE BASED ON JUSTICE AND COMPASSION
Peace that is not based on justice and compassion is only a pause between wars. All the basic requirements for a mature civilization must be observed so that the extremes of wealth and poverty are eliminated in all nations, where education is available to all, and the principles of democracy are firmly established. Following are translations of statements of Abdu'l-Baha explaining why humanity is going through these terrible wars and calamities.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Provisional translations of two reported talks by `Abdu'l-Baha. Both appear to have been delivered in 1914 in Haifa; (Khatirat-i Habib, 1:404-408). Trans. Ahang Rabbani. Posted to H-Baha'i 17.3.99
"These are God-sent calamities for man so that people will grow repentant and contrite. However, these people are like children in the cradle, the more you rock them, the sleepier they get. The affairs of men have been thrown in confusion in both the East and the West. We must wait and see what God has decreed. Our
hope is that they be delivered from the clutches of their carnal desires and emancipated from the bondage of self and passion. Our desire is for them to grow focused on God, for hearts to shine with radiance, for thoughts to be expanded, for them to become informed of heavenly realms, for greed and avidity to be erased, for reliance on God to be universal, and for people to be satisfied with their status and not invade other people's possessions........
God willing, whatever has caused these maladies will be completely eradicated. Presently, people are deserving of these trials that have appeared and these tribulations that have surrounded them. Comfort and happiness must be removed, and tumult and gloom must take its place. People must grow in perturbation. That is what people deserve. No benefit is seen when God bestows His infinite bounty and grace upon them, and indeed they become more heedless. That is the time when calamities surround them, that perchance they may become repentant. That is the last remedy. They say that the last cure is to burn the malady, as there is no other remedy. This is because the greater the profusion of divine compassion, the deeper are people's neglects; the more protective the grace of God, the more determined is people's rebellion and denial. Pray for these people, perchance they become repentant, spiritual, turn to God and be rescued from the passion of self and desire.......
So many wars have been fought, so much blood has been shed, so many homes have been ruined, so many cities have been destroyed, and yet, they are not tired of war. Hearts are still hard like stone. People have not grown repentant. They have not awakened. This enmity and rancor is the obliterator of the human foundation, and love and fellowship, the cause of people's ease and happiness................
How people are agitated! How many fathers will spend this very night in lament and sorrow! How many mothers will spend it in sobbing and wailing, to a point that is indescribable! What has promoted the governments to behave thusly? The instigators of war are in their homes enjoying great comfort while these wretched men are fighting one another, forced to tear into each other on the battlefield. How utterly unfair! The authors of this ordeal are unwilling to suffer the least loss, but they are ready to sacrifice thousand of others on the field of battle. Of what use is this?........
Since the time when history was first recorded until the present, truly no instance is known where love, fellowship, affection and peace have caused injury. Indeed, they have brought widespread joy and comfort. On the other hand, war has brought great harms. Despite this, humanity is steeped in the ways of war and battle and constantly pursues in this path. It is a wonder that these people think the foundation of divine Faith is based on waging war."
"Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings the source of life on earth." [Abdu'l-Baha]
THE WORD OF GOD, THE PRIMAL WILL, THE HOLY SPIRIT
I believe that the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Word of God because it is through the mediation of the Holy Spirit that we receive spiritual guidance from God. It is by means of this Primal Will that all creation comes into being and is continually sustained. Through the Holy Spirit God can, if it is necessary for human spiritual evolution, release knowledge that is not given verbally, but is on the spiritual level, influencing human thought, "discoveries" in science, and social change. However, because we have been given free will we can either progress rapidly in our spiritual insight and development, or slowly, when we fail to turn to God and open our hearts and souls to the guidance and influence of His Holy Spirit, manifested through the Manifestations of God.
"Know thou, moreover, that the Word of God -exalted be His glory - is higher and far superior to that which the senses can perceive, for it is sanctified from any property or substance. It transcendeth the limitations of known elements and is exalted above all the essential and recognized substances. It became manifest without any syllable or sound and is none but the Command of God which pervadeth all created things. It hath never been withheld from the world of being. It is God's all-pervasive grace, from which all grace doth emanate. It is an entity far removed above all that hath been and shall be." Baha'u'llah, p. 140-1 in Tablets of Baha'u'llah.
"Consider, for instance, the revelation of the light of the Name of God, the Educator. Behold, how in all things the evidences of such a revelation are manifest, how the betterment of all beings dependent upon it. This education is of two kinds. The one is universal. Its influence pervadeth all things and sustaineth them. It is for this reason that God hath assumed the title, 'Lord of all worlds.' The other is confined to them that have come under the shadow of this Name, and sought the shelter of this most mighty Revelation." Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, pp. 189-90
"Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame, if ye be of them that comprehend this truth. All the wondrous works ye behold in this world have been manifested through the operation of His supreme and most exalted Will, His wondrous and inflexible Purpose. Through the mere revelation of the word 'Fashioner', issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attributes to mankind, such power is released as can generate through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce. This, verily, is a certain truth. No sooner is this resplendent word uttered than its animating energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected. All the wondrous achievements ye now witness are the direct consequences of the Revelation of this Name. In the days to come ye will, verily, behold things of which ye have never heard before. Thus hath it been decreed in the Tablets of God, and none can comprehend it except them whose sight is sharp. In like manner, the moment the word expressing My attribute 'The Omniscient' issueth forth from My mouth, every created thing will, according to its capacity and limitations, be invested with the power to unfold the knowledge of the most marvelous sciences, and will be empowered to manifest them in the course of time at the bidding of Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Knowing. Know thou of a certainty that the Revelation of every other Name is accompanied by a similar manifestation of Divine power. Every single letter proceeding out of the mouth of God is indeed a mother letter, and every word uttered by Him Who is the Well Spring of Divine Revelation is a mother word, and His Tablet a Mother Tablet. Well is it with them that apprehend this truth." Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, Chap LXXIV
SUPERSTITIONS, BELIEFS AND FAITH
From a dictionary we see this definition of superstition:
1 a : a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation b : an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition
2 : a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary-----------------------
We can often see the superstitions of other people, and remain unaware that we may have certain beliefs that are contrary to the laws of creation. Among many Christians is a belief in the "rapture" when they will be suddenly transported into a higher level of existence while those remaining on earth will suffer, until everything is made perfect here and those who have been transported will return. At least that is how some of them explain their version of that superstition. It is contrary to the laws of creation.
Many Baha'is believe that the prophecy which ends " Then and only then will the Divine Standard be unfurled and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody" means that suddenly the vast majority of humanity will accept the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and sweetness and light will envelope the earth. Some Christian sects teach something similar, saying that the Spirit will suddenly cause the natures of people to change and become more spiritual. However, that is not the way creation is, we have been given free will, love is not forced, and people must voluntarily change their thinking and their lives. The change will not happen overnight by any means, there will be many years of effort and sacrifice ahead.
No doubt you can think of other unrealistic beliefs entertained by Baha'is, which ignore the realities of this existence, and the fact that anything worthwhile in this life requires HARD work to attain, it is one of the laws of creation. Progress results from sacrifice, love and steadfast effort.
One dictionary gives this explanation of knowledge:
(1) : The fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique b (1) : the fact or condition of being aware of something (2) : the range of one's information or understanding c : the circumstance or condition of apprehending truth or fact through reasoning :--------Obviously human understanding is always progressing and as a consequence we can say that it is always limited relative to the Source of Knowledge. What we understand through spiritual insight OR material education is always open to progress and clarification. One cannot honestly claim that the present attainments in the fields of "science" represent the ultimate or final truth about creation. In religion we are taught, if we pay attention, that religion is progressive, and that as individuals we should ALWAYS search for truth, which implies making efforts to improve our spiritual understanding and qualities. Religion and science are expressions of one Reality, it is a pity when there is arrogance by the proponents of either group, because in either instance we are still in our infancy. I see that the greatest scientists are usually very spiritual people, and the greatest spiritually oriented people base their spiritual understanding on as much knowledge about creation as possible. It means, I believe, that we should learn as much as possible about ALL fields of temporal and spiritual truth as possible.
It means also, that we should not cling to religious superstitions, or old "scientific" paradigms that no longer are acceptable, or close our minds and hearts to new truth. Search for truth in every direction, and be willing to admit mistakes. Each one of us is responsible for our spiritual growth, and we ought not permit anyone to stand in the way of that development.
Belief is defined in one dictionary as follows:
1 : a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing
2 : something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group
3 : conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence----------------------------Belief in anything should be founded on as sound a basis as possible, which means careful thought, investigation and attempting to consider all factors involved. In religion, acceptance of a Manifestation means considering all prophecies involved, observing the social conditions that are mentioned as preceding the appearance of any Manifestation (for example: the condition of "oppression" which Baha'u'llah describes in the Iqan), and of course the greatest proof is the Manifestation Him/Herself , the Word revealed. Belief in the prophecies of a coming Manifestation ,besides the above requirements, requires an attempt to learn as much as possible of the Writings of the previous Revelation, observing the conditions in the religious communities and society, and looking with care at the prophecies provided. It also means not basing a belief on superstitious ideas of the 'Chosen One' descending from the sky, a sudden miraculous change in peoples spiritual condition, etc. or any other idea contrary to the laws of creation and spiritual development. And of course it implies developing as much spiritual insight as we can, and seeking to penetrate the inner significance in the Holy Books. In this effort we have been given special guidance in this Revelation through the Bayans of the Bab and the Kitab-i-Iqan as well as in the extensive writings and notes of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. The ability to recognize the Manifestation at the time of His/Her appearance depends on the degree of spiritual insight and purity we have attained, which doesn't imply perfection because none of us are perfect, but it does imply sincerity and detachment from material things, and purity of motive..And above all, honesty.
THE EVOLUTION OF SOCIETY AND THE RELATIONSHIPS OF MEN AND WOMEN IN THE NEW AGE
The functions of men and women and their stations in the progress of human society has been quite erratic. . It appears that in the majority of tribes in past centuries the concept of patriarchy was customary. During the ages of human development it was often necessary for the men to control the tribes because of the need for protection of families during migrations and frequent conflicts. In many primitive tribes the men were hunters of live game, and the women with the children were the first to gather berries, roots, etc. for their diet. This, of course, is only a generalization.
The women were often considered intellectually and spiritually inferior to the men, although many of the great leaders of ancient nations were women. On the other hand, some of the tribes of Arabia classed their women with their livestock. "The woman in the East has progressed .Formerly in, India, Persia and throughout the Orient, she was not considered a human being. Certain Arab tribes counted their women in with their livestock In their language the noun for woman also meant donkey; that is, the same name applied to both and a man's wealth was accounted by the number of these beasts of burden he possessed..." (Abdu'l-Baha in Divine Philosophy, pp.81-3)
When I was in Kabul, Afghanistan (1973 or so) one could see that the women there were making progress, assuming positions in education and in the medical professions. The Taliban reversed all that, and tried to bring Afghanistan back to the times before the appearance of Muhammad. A few fundamentalists in Islam and in the Christian nations have tried to do the same. In Colorado there was a movement of men called the "Promise Keepers" who were striving to return to the relationships between men and women practiced in the Old Testament days, with men in charge of all family affairs, little dictators.
The "Word" of God is a creative force. The term refers to the Primal Will or the Holy Spirit, the Entity that carries out the Will of God in His creation. Mankind has reached the point in spiritual evolution when the full spiritual and intellectual equality of men and women can be recognized throughout the world, and this reality will come into existence despite the efforts of a few fundamentalists to prevent progress. This "Word" has been expressed in the Teachings given through Baha'u'llah. It is not the time to complain about the relationships between men and women in centuries gone by, but to move forward to the next level in human relationships, to a more mature society and world civilization. Recrimination because of past conditions actually slows progress toward the future. We saw that when the interim government was formed for Afghanistan they insisted that a woman be included. In Pakistan women, to a limited extent , take part in all levels of society although they have problems getting higher education in that nation and often have to go abroad to universities. . Change is coming, but not overnight.
Because mothers are usually the primary educators of their children during formative years, it is vital, for the progress of society that women have a good spiritual and intellectual education, equal to that of men. Fathers also play a vital role in the raising of children, so the education of both men and women is essential. Women, when the children are raised, can share in all levels of government, science, the arts and other creative roles in civilization. In some instances the father plays the vital nurturing role during the formative years of a child's development in which case the same standards apply. One should always remember what women experience in bearing children, during pregnancy and birth. -A wise, firm and loving mother sheds her light on her progeny and on all humanity, and is worthy of the greatest honor.--
The unity of men and women is essential to the new age, and recognition of their spiritual and intellectual equality. "The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm....Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest for this is to be blessed in both worlds." (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 122)
METAPHORS, SLANG, FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE
In every country and in every language, the people have developed their own means of expressing ideas in what we refer to as metaphors, slang, or figurative language, and this is a constant process. When taken literally many of these terms or expressions make no sense, so one has to try to understand the implied or hidden meaning. When one travels to different nations where English is spoken it is important to be aware of this use of metaphors and slang, to avoid making a faux pas and creating embarrassment of some sort.
Here are some American slang words. Bad=good. Chill=really cool, dank. Cat=someone who is cool or devious. Chillax=chill out and relax. Dauncy=plain, not cute. Bagel logic=circular logic with a hole in the middle. Copacetic= everything is okay. Circling the drain= ready to die. Then you have acronyms, which are very popular on internet. NIMBY=not in my back yard. LOL=laughing out loud. IMHO= in my humble opinion. WYSIWYG= what you see is what you get. BIGS=Baha'i in good standing.
So when you read something written by people of another country or culture that seems odd, consider that it may be a metaphor, expressing an idea in descriptive terms that do not make sense when taken literally. For example, an Iranian spoke of an inexperienced person as having a green seat, whereas in the U.S. one might say wet behind the ears, or simply green. . This understanding of metaphors is especially important in reading the Holy Books where some metaphors have more than one significance. We have to consider the context of the sentence or paragraph where they appear and the possible spiritual messages implied. This may not be easy and one must avoid assuming the impossible when it relates to creation, which is established under specific laws. Baha'is are fortunate to have the Kitab-i-Iqan wherein so many metaphors are explained, helping us to understand how they are used in the Holy Books.
VARIATIONS IN CREATION, DIFFERENCES OF CAPACITY IN INDIVIDUALS AND THE AUTHORITY OF GOD OVER HIS CREATION
Excerpts from Some Answered Questions Chap. LVII: "Question: How many kinds of character has man and what is the cause of differences and variety in men? Answer: He has the innate character, the inherited character and the acquired character which is gained by education....all mankind possess intelligence and capacities, and the worthiness of men differ. This is evident. .... For example, take a number of children of one family [all raised under the same conditions] .... it is certain that among these children some will be clever in the sciences, some will be of average ability, and some dull. Hence it is clear that in the original nature there exists a difference of degree and varieties of worthiness and capacity..... you see that children from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves ....
For children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents. .... Besides this, an especial blessing is conferred on some families and some generations. Thus it is an especial blessing that from the descendants of Abraham should have come all the Prophets of the children of Israel. This is a blessing that God has granted to this descent .... "
Having descended from the Prophets does not guarantee that you will live up to your inheritance, because everyone has the free will to choose whether or not to turn to God with humility and obedience, or to follow selfish desires, vanity and materialism.. To continue: "But the differences of qualities with regard to culture is very great, for education has great influence. .... Education has a universal influence, and the differences caused by it are very great. .... Perhaps someone will say, since capacity and worthiness of men differ, therefore the differences of capacity certainly causes the differences of characters. But this is not so: for capacity is of two kinds, natural capacity and acquired capacity. " (End) Which is to say, that even though we are born with a superior intellectual capacity and have distinguished ancestors, this is no guarantee that we will have a good spiritual character, because we are all individually responsible for the acquisition of the spiritual attributes, and we all have the freedom to obey or disobey the Word of God, to turn to His love, or to turn away. So a simple shepherd with beautiful spiritual qualities is superior in the eyes of God to an executive of a huge international corporation who lies and cheats his workers and commits fraud. As it is written in the Tablet of the Temple (Surat'ul'Hykal);"And suppose your names will be kept, as ye conjecture, would it be of any good to you?.....No, by the life of God, the Powerful, the Mighty. Should no one mention you on the earth and at the same time God was pleased with you then ye would be in the treasures of His Hidden Name..." (p. 54, A Hadad trans)
So, all humans are as varied as the stars of the universe, and all are in different degrees of existence. None of us can comprehend God, our Creator, Who has created this infinite variety. To deny that there are degrees of spiritual and intellectual development among sentient beings, whether of this earth or throughout the universe, is to ignore reality and perhaps to try to limit God by our individual limitations. In Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 54):"...that Essence of Essences, that Invisible of Invisibles, is sanctified above all human speculation, and never to be overtaken by the mind of man.....The utmost one can say is that Its existence can be proved, but the conditions of Its existence are unknown." Observing the power and infinite knowledge evident in God's creation, it is "passing strange" that some believers try to limit God's power to do what is necessary for His Faith because of their individual lack of understanding and their personal limitations.
Whatever is essential for the spiritual evolution of humanity, is provided by God. We make the process painful and slow by misuse of our free will, which leads us to make the wrong choices without paying attention to the guidance offered by God. And as pointed out above, we judge God's power to do whatsoever He wills, and His wisdom, by our own limitations. I see this problem on the internet Baha'i forums where so many question the Guardian's unerring guidance in interpretation of the Teachings, and his guidance in matters of the Faith, which indicates that they do not believe God can endow any chosen individual with such powers, powers which exceed our personal limitations. They say, "I don't believe that any human being can be infallible in any matter," which is one way of saying, God cannot endow any individual with such qualities.
Some even suggest that God "wouldn't give any chosen individual such powers", indicating that they know how God thinks and controls His creation. So we have many, many Baha'is second guessing the Guardian's guidance in matters of the Faith and his interpretations of the Writings. They say, he should have done this or that for the Faith, or he should have given these instructions, etc., based on their own personal ideas and limitations. This is a subject that merits consideration, with the realization that capacities and abilities not only differ in all humans, but that God is our Creator, and He is not limited by our limits nor by our ideas of what is wise and timely. Outside of that specific realm of guidance, the Guardian has made it abundantly clear that he does not have unerring guidance in matters outside of guidance of the Faith and interpretation of the Teachings, as for example in economics, politics, science, etc.
To summarize , everyone has the ability to turn to the spiritual teachings, to progress endlessly in spiritual attributes, and to increase his/her love of God and humanity. Not all have the same capacities, but each one of us can find great happiness in our relationship with God, and in this respect the variations in degree do not matter. This requires that we realize that God does whatsoever He wills in His creation, and He is not restrained or limited by our individual limitations and understanding.
In the book Baha'i World Faith, p. 429 Abdu'l-Baha tells us that when two believers have a serious quarrel about an interpretation of the Teachings they should bring the question to the Interpreter for the correct interpretation and an end to the dispute. But everyone, because of the differences in capacity, background, etc., understands the Writings a little differently, which is usually of no great importance, as the Guardian wrote to an English believer cited in Unfolding Destiny, p.423 "I feel that regarding such interpretations (of verses from the Scriptures) no one has the right to impose his view or opinion and require his listeners to believe in his particular interpretation of the sacred and prophetic writings. I have no objection to your interpretations and inferences so long as they are represented as your own personal observations and reflections. It would be unnecessary and confusing to state authoritatively and officially a dogmatic Baha'i interpretation to be universally accepted and taught by the believers. Such matters I feel should be left to the personal judgement and insight of individual teachers..." Of course if someone deliberately distorts and misrepresents the Faith, as in the case of Leland Jensen and his followers, it can be very misleading and detrimental for the understanding of those seeking to learn about the Cause. Of course, we do not now have a Guardian to prevent such distortions and misrepresentations of the Teachings, so there is not much that can be done at the moment, and we witness the current chaos and divisions in the Baha'i community
ABOUT THE NEGLECTED VIRTUES OF HONESTY AND INTEGRITY.
One dictionary defines integrity: The quality or state of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty and sincerity. Honesty and integrity are two spiritual attributes that have become rather scarce in these times. When certain people claim unmerited high spiritual positions and titles for themselves, or any other title in business, government, etc., they have a very difficult time admitting they are wrong, of losing face. You may attain the highest spiritual station, but if pride remains unconquered you may fall to the lowest station. Pride is one of the greatest enemies of man, a mighty destroyer. Today we have people calling themselves World Counselors, administrative guides or leaders, Guardians, Regents, Prophets and even Manifestations, titles to which they have no right, and positions for which they are unworthy. And so far I have not seen one of them, even when it is very obvious that they are wrong, admit publicly that they have erred. They sell their souls for empty titles and lose the attributes of honesty and integrity.
Honesty and integrity are of far greater value in the eyes of God than any names or titles, which often provide temporary temporal power with faithful followers. Of course given sufficient time such people "paint themselves into a corner" and their pride, after awhile, prevents them from facing their followers and saying, "God forgive me, I have been mistaken, and I seek your pardon for misleading you." James Kirsch, in his book The Reluctant Prophet, wrote, "Psychological inflation is a great threat to sanity. It is a result of an identification of the ego complex with an archetype, and is 'blown up' by its superhuman contents. The individual loses his human qualities. If the identification with the archetype is very great-almost complete- consciousness can be extinguished to such a degree that contact with reality is lost." Ego and vanity are terrible enemies once they gain control, and they are prevalent in all levels of society, not just in religion.
As it is written in the Tablet of the Temple, so what if your name is remembered on Earth, but forgotten by God? Of course the followers have the same problem to a lesser degree, if they continue to blindly follow such leaders. They rationalize their allegiance, and hide from reality. If we are to progress in this life we have to admit our mistakes and move to higher levels of truth and understanding. It is human to make mistakes because none of us are perfect, but it is destructive to refuse to acknowledge our mistakes, and to fail to seek higher degrees of spiritual understanding.
This problem is found throughout society today, people surrendering their integrity in order to conform to conventions of the majority. If you have high moral principles, and social, environmental and/or spiritual beliefs you sincerely believe to be right, it is far better to stand firm and to live according to those beliefs and principles, even if you stand alone, and if you find that you have made a mistake, your honesty and integrity demands that you admit your error and move to a higher truth. Remember that the first to announce and to follow the Manifestations of God were alone in a rather hostile society, and in the past often sacrificed their lives to preserve their integrity and honesty, to demonstrate their sincerity , courage and love of God.. Scientists that break from old paradigms that are no longer valid, for a new and higher understanding of reality, are often ridiculed and scorned by their fellows
BELIEF AND TRUST IN GOD, AND THE TRANSFORMING POWER OF LOVE OF GOD
When we look into the sky at night in silent wonder about this endless universe with its infinite variety of stars, planets, galaxies, and living creatures of all sorts, constantly undergoing change, we begin to catch a tiny glimpse of the wisdom, power and omniscience of the Creator. We hear sound only because our brains have been created to interpret certain vibrations as sound, and what we see as the universe, again it is the brain and the intelligence God has given us that makes visible this wondrous sight. We experience this universe on the visual and the intellectual levels and even with the little we understand of this vast creation, we are astonished by its majesty and wisdom. In whatever way we consider God's creation it is filled with beauty, an expression of boundless love. Alas, much of mankind has lost sight of the beauty and incredible wisdom of God's creation, and is enraptured by the material aspect of creation, and the technology we have created with the very intelligence God has granted us.
Although many create an anthropomorphic God in their minds, we can never imagine what our Creator is like, for God lives alone in a realm beyond our comprehension. Our relationship with our Creator is through the attribute of love, and the knowledge gained through His Manifestations. From love spring the spiritual qualities of humanity. Like a diamond of incredible value and beauty the attribute of love manifests justice, compassion, and generosity In love we discover all the other spiritual qualities, like the facets of the diamond, to be cut and polished to reflect all the beauty of which the human soul is capable. "O Children of the Divine and Invisible Essence! Ye shall be hindered from loving Me and souls shall be perturbed as they make mention of Me. For minds cannot grasp Me nor hearts contain Me." (Hidden Words, Persian, 66) The knowledge of the wisdom, glory and spiritual qualities of God and His Holy Spirit is attained through the Manifestations of God, at least to the degree we are capable of comprehending.
When we meditate on the miracle of the human brain, which springs from the tiny energy particles which make up this vast and endless universe, it seems to me incredible that so many lack humility before their Creator. The appearance of the soul also springs forth from this universal creative process of God's interrelated universe, an expression of God's infinite love and wisdom. That every human is different, and probably sees reality in slightly different ways adds to the endless beauty of creation. To give sentient beings free will in their existence, so they may freely turn to God with love and humility, is an essential feature of love, for it cannot be forced to be true love. If we do not turn to God with love in our hearts, then we shut out the benefits of His love, as is also true in love between humans. "O Son of Being! Love Me that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant." (Hidden Words, Persian, 8)
The greater our love of God, the greater becomes our understanding of the Word of God , of God's purpose for humanity, and of the beauty and wonder of the universe. The greater our love the greater our trust, knowing that God answers our prayers according to His wisdom, even though it is not in accord with our desire. As our love of God grows so will our love for all humanity. "Trust in God and be unmoved by either praise or false accusations....depend entirely on God." (Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha , p. 158) "In all thine affairs put thy reliance in God, and commit them unto Him.:"(Baha'u'llah in Epistle to Son of the Wolf, p. 76)
With our growing love and understanding of our Creator we learn humility before God, and realization that God is in absolute control of His creation, even though He has permitted us limited free will in His love for His servants.. The inner turmoil and anxiety caused by doubt in our Faith, slowly but surely fade away and is replaced by certainty and steadfast faith. "Blessed is the man that hath acknowledged his belief in God and in His signs, and recognized that 'He shall not be asked of His doings.' Such a recognition hath been made by God the ornament of every belief, and its very foundation. Upon it must depend the acceptance of every goodly deed. Fasten your eyes upon it, that haply the whisperings of the rebellious may not cause you to slip." (Baha'u'llah, Baha'i World Faith, p.129) "If we dare to limit and circumscribe God's purpose within any bounds, then of necessity we have dared to set limitations to the omnipotence of God. The created has dared to define his Creator." (Abdu'l-Baha, cited in Baha'i Scriptures, p. 402)
When we realize our true relationship with our Creator we can escape the bondage of materialism, and with continuous effort gradually gain the freedom of spiritual existence. We soar on the wings of trust in God, with love and gratitude for all He has provided for His creatures."Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven." (Baha'u'llah in Baha'i World Faith, p 137)
Free will has its limitations, and throughout creation we see the law of Cause and Effect coming into play, because our thinking and acting too often violates the laws of nature and creation which produces a punishing reaction. This is the time when the misdeeds of men will be brought to light, and the results of ignoring the laws of God and of His creation will mean that we punish ourselves through the negative results of our destructive materialistic thinking and acts.
Those who sincerely strive to obey the Word of God, and to increase their understanding and love of God will find inner peace, security and the spiritual strength necessary to survive the strenuous tests, despite the hardships the current disintegration of this world civilization will impose on everyone. "O My servants! Deprive not yourselves of the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory. Let the flame of the love of God burn brightly within your radiant hearts. Feed it with the oil of Divine guidance, and protect it within the shelter of your constancy. Guard it within the globe of trust and detachment from all else but God ,so that the evil whisperings of the ungodly may not extinguish its light." (Baha'u'llah, Baha'i World Faith, p. 66
"Number me, O my God, with those who are privileged to fix their gaze upon Thy Beauty and who take such delight therein that they would not exchange a single moment thereof with the sovereignty of the kingdom of heavens and earth or with the entire realm of creation. Have mercy on me , O Lord, in these days when the peoples of Thine earth have erred grievously; supply me then, O my God, with that which is good and seemly in Thine estimation, Thou art, verily, the All-Powerful, the Gracious, the Bountiful, the Ever-Forgiving." (Bab in Baha'i Prayers, p. 165)
THE USE AND ABUSE OF WORDS, AND HOW THEY AFFECT US
"If we can get deeply into our consciousness the principle that no word ever has the same meaning twice, we will develop the habit of automatically examining contexts , and this enables us to understand better what others are saying. As it is, however, we are all too likely, when a word sounds familiar to assume that we understand it even when we don't. In this way we read into people's statements meanings that were never intended." Hayakawa , p. 63, Language in Thought and Action.
This problem of ignoring contexts or assuming contexts that are distorted by our assumptions about people and metaphors, affects our understanding of the spoken and written words in daily life and in our understanding of Baha'u'llah's Writings and the Tablets and statements of Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi. To attain a better understanding of the Writings of Baha'u'llah we have to learn as much as possible of His entire body of Writings, for that is the context for any part of His Teachings.
To extract single sentences or paragraphs ignoring the context of His Teachings frequently leads to incorrect interpretations and acts based on that failure, and even when we study as much as possible of His Writings, our understanding is influenced by the personal connotations we have for words. It seems clear then that we should accept the fact that everyone will see things differently, even when the differences are of minor importance and may be completely internal. On the other hand such differences resulting from ignoring context and connotations can lead to serious differences., so we must be aware of this problem in our relationships with others. "In translations a further problem is presented by the fact that a well understood metaphor in one culture may have entirely different meanings in another part of the world" (Ibid, p. 109) "Improvement in our ability to understand language as well as our ability to use it, depends therefore not only upon sharpening our sense of the informative connotations of words, but also upon the sharpening our insight into the affective elements in language through social experience, through contact with many kinds of people in many kinds of situations and through literary study." (Ibid, p.71)
Incorrect assumptions occur when we accept one cause as the explanation of a complex matter. "An inference, as we shall use the term, is a statement about the unknown made on the basis of the known. We may infer from the handsomeness of a woman's clothes her wealth or social position; we may infer from the character of the ruins the origin of the fire that destroyed the building....Inferences may be carelessly or carefully made. They may be made on the basis of a great background of previous experience with the subject-matter, or no experience at all....the common characteristic of inferences is that they are statements about matters which are not directly known, made on the basis of what has been observed." (Hayakawa, p. 41, Language in Thought and Action) We make "inferences" about the meaning of certain passages on the basis of our general knowledge of the body of Teachings. The less we learn of that body of Teachings the greater the possibility that our interpretations will be " off the mark " Our understanding will also be influenced by our degree of materialism or of spirituality, which influences our personal biases. So it is taught that if you desire to develop your comprehension (insight) of spiritual teachings you have to strive to become "detached" from your attractions and addictions to material objects, pleasures and the drives of your ego.
"In the expression 'We must listen to both sides of every question', there is an assumption, frequently unexamined, that every question has two sides, and only two sides. We tend to think in opposites, to feel that what is not good must be bad, and that what is not bad must be good." (Hayakawa, p. 221, Language in Thought and Action) In a recent letter the UHJ spoke of the forces of light in a final contest ("dire contest which is destined to range the Army of Light against the forces of darkness"." -- The Universal House of Justice) which indicates a tendency to think in terms of black and white by the UHJ members, an example of taking a general statement out of context. The question is , if the Baha'is are not much different than non-Baha'is in their thoughts and acts, who will be able to distinguish between the forces of light and dark? No doubt the original quotation they use actually refers to the spiritual forces and the material forces, a situation where names and affiliations have little import. In truth we can only refer to God as pure Light, and all else can then be viewed as being in various shades of gray, dark to light grey, ultimately approaching Light to some degree in endless time and spiritual progress.
If we wish to better understand others we have to realize that they may use metaphors, similes or allegories with which we are unfamiliar, especially if they come from another country, culture, or social milieu, even though they speak the same language we use. One good check of this is to see if a statement made conforms to reality as we know it, and if not we should seek to unravel the metaphor, simile or allegory to grasp the real meaning. Then there is the context in which a statement is made, which can alter its entire meaning. If we take such statements literally, without knowing or attempting to understand the context in which it was made we can mislead ourselves and others. We ought not jump to conclusions, but when possible try to get as much information as possible about context.----
(Re the idea that each word has only one meaning) "Such an impasse is avoided when we start with a new premise altogether- one of the premises upon which modern linguistic thought is based; namely, that no word ever has exactly the same meaning twice. The extent to which this premise fits the facts can be demonstrated in a number of ways. First, if we accept the proposition that the context of an utterance determines its meaning, it becomes apparent that since no two contexts are ever exactly the same, no two meanings can ever be exactly the same..." (Ibid, p. 54) "Interpretations must be based, therefore, on the totality of contexts. If it were otherwise, we should not be able to account for the fact that even if we fail to use the right (customary) word in some situations, people can very frequently understand us...." (Ibid, p. 55) "To insist dogmatically that we know what a word means in advance of its utterance is nonsense. All we can know in advance is approximately what it will mean. After the utterance, we interpret what has been said in the light of both verbal and physical contexts and act according to our interpretation." (Ibid, p. 55) "It is clear, then, that the ignoring of contexts in any act of interpretation is at best a stupid practice. At its worst, it can be a vicious practice. A common example is the sensationalist newspaper story in which a few words by a public personage are torn out of their context and made the basis of a completely misleading account." (Ibid, p. 56)
In the book Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, translated by Marzieh Gail, there are some Tablets which are very brief, and without knowing the context involved, it is not possible to give a precise interpretation. That is, one should know the cultural background of the writer, his/her education, the social environment of the writer, the particular circumstances involved in the matter presented to Abdu'l-Baha to answer, etc. before one can fully understand the Tablet. Of course in the longer Tablets it is possible to make a more precise interpretation of the meaning of the Tablet. This is something to consider when reading these Tablets written for individual believers involving personal problems and questions..
In the Persian Hidden Words, number 2,, Baha'u'llah wrote: "O Son of Spirit! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily, justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes." Often we make snap judgments on the basis of what others tell us, without trying to verify the reliability of such reports. All of what we have written in the previous paragraphs, if applied, can help us to learn to search out facts based, whenever possible, on direct evidence , rather than relying on hearsay. I recall the game we played when younger, where a group would form a circle, and the first in the circle would whisper something to the second person, that person would try to repeat it into the ear of the third person, etc. until the circle was completed. Usually the word or sentence uttered by the first person would end up completely distorted, usually totally unrelated to the first word or sentence.
The use of generalities and abstract words should be avoided, unless we can offer some concrete proof or support of what we say. Writers should learn to come down the ladder of abstraction to more concrete terms during their writing, so that readers will know what they are talking about. Of course in the Holy Books abstractions are more common because spiritual subjects often cannot be described in terms relating to this existence. However, the Kitab-i-Iqan opens the door to understanding many of the metaphors, allegories and similes used in the Holy Books. And of course such abstract terms are often used to test the sincerity of the seeker, who must make efforts to gain insight and understanding of spiritual values. Here is an example of the ladder of abstraction offered by Hayakawa: "What is meant by the word red?-It's a color-what is a color?-Why, it's a quality things have....What's a quality? "
I conclude with these words by Hayakawa in his book Language in Thought and Action (p.25) "We live in an environment shaped and largely created by hitherto unparalleled semantic influences, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines which are given to reflecting in many cases the prejudices and obsessions of their publishers and owners; radio and television programs, both local and network, almost completely dominated by commercial motives, public-relations counsels who are simply highly paid craftsmen in the art of manipulating and reshaping our semantic environment in ways favorable to their clients. It is an exciting environment, but fraught with danger."
"Citizens of a modern society need, therefore, more than that ordinary common sense which was defined by Stuart Chase as that which tells you that the world is flat. They need to be systematically aware of the process and limitations of symbols, especially words, if they are to guard against being driven into complete bewilderment by the complexity of their semantic environment. The first of the principles governing symbols is this: The symbol is not the thing symbolized; the word is not the thing; the map is not the territory it stands for."
Language in Thought and Action by Hayakawa
Tyranny of Words by Stuart Chase
TRUSTWORTHINESS AND HONESTY WITH OURSELVES AND WITH OTHERS
"Truthfulness is the foundation of all the virtues of mankind. Without truthfulness, progress and success in all the worlds are impossible for a soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the other divine qualities will also become realized." (Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha, , Vol II, p. 459)
It is of great importance that we be trustworthy and honest with others in all we say or do in this life, but that we also must first be honest within ourselves. Although we should recognize our spiritual shortcomings and always strive to improve throughout life, we must also avoid going to the other extreme, and become preoccupied with the belief that we are unworthy souls, overcome with self pity . Nor should we dwell on past mistakes and shortcomings, but consider them a part of the learning process, striving to avoid repeating such mistakes, developing positive attributes in our characters that prevent repetition of past mistakes. We should not walk backwards into the future, but always look forward and work positively to improve. None of us are perfect, only God is perfect, all are in different degrees of development, so we must face the reality of what we are and understand that it is the way life is, and wise souls make constant efforts to move to higher levels of spiritual development.
"Verily, honesty is the door to tranquility to all in the world, and the sign of glory from the presence of the Merciful One. Whosoever attains thereto has attained to treasures of wealth and affluence. Honesty is the greatest door to the security and tranquility of mankind. The stability of every affair always depends on it, and the worlds of honor, glory and affluence are illumined by its light.....O people of Baha! Honesty is the best garment for your temples and the most splendid crowns for your heads. Adhere thereto by the command of the Omnipotent Commander." Baha'u'llah in Tablet of Tarazat.
Often people who have a negative feeling about themselves, rather than finding and overcoming the cause for such feelings, launch verbal attacks against others. Such tactics will never improve their characters, but instead will cause them great harm, psychologically and physically. A news item on internet described a recent study of reasons for failures in marriages, and this problem, where one spouse suffering from feelings of inadequacy attacks the character of the other without just cause is, they say, one of the major problems leading to divorce. This problem of blaming others for our failures afflicts religious sects, nations and ethnic groups, leading to war, terrorism and genocide. Honesty requires that we avoid the extremes of self pity or vanity, but strive for complete honesty in our thoughts and acts, overcoming our shortcomings without blaming others. As the TV psychologist Phil McGraw urges his clients, "Stop kidding yourself. Get real!"
"Let the light of truth and honesty shine from your faces so that all may know that your word, in business or pleasure, is a word to trust and be sure of. Forget self and work for the whole.." (Abdu'l-Baha in a Message to the London Baha'is)
"An humble man without learning, but filled with the Holy Spirit, is more powerful than the most profound scholar, without that inspiration. He who is educated by the Divine Spirit can, in his time, lead others to receive the same Spirit." (Wisdom of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 153)
I believe that as we turn to God and service to humanity, to the best of our ability, we grow in our love of God and His creation, leaving no room for self pity. In The Seven Valleys this is referred to as the self that is the beloved of God.
"The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom. His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds." (Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, p. 299)
"It behoveth, likewise, the loved ones of God to be forbearing towards their fellow-men, and to be so sanctified and detached from all things, and to evince such sincerity and fairness, that all the peoples of the earth may recognize them as the trustees of God amongst men. Consider to what lofty heights the injunctions of the Almighty have soared, and how abject is the habitation wherein these feeble souls are now abiding. Blessed are they who, on the wings of certitude, have flown in the heavens which the Pen of thy Lord, the All-Merciful, hath spread." (Baha'u'llah in Gleanings, p. 242)
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT IMAGES
Throughout the ages man has made images of him/herself in drawings, paintings, sculpture, and today in holograms and motion pictures. Although motion pictures show images that move and speak, they only represent the material aspects, and outward expressions of thoughts of people, Such images, no matter how appealing, can never equal the creator of the images, nor even approach the station of the human soul.
In Genesis 1-27 in the Old Testament of the Bible it is written:"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him, male and female, created He them." Even though, with continual striving, we can, to a limited degree, emulate some of the spiritual attributes of God, The image can never equal the Creator of the image. To mention a few of the unattainable attributes of God, we can never become omnipotent, omniscient, without beginning, etc. We can never attain the station of the Manifestations Who manifest the Will and Word of God. So..............we do the best we can to reflect certain of the spiritual attributes of our Creator.
. THE MIRACLE OF CREATION
I have been thinking about the miracle of the human body, and creation in general. I was watching someone play the piano and observed how their fingers obey without an apparent thought by the artist, with accuracy and incredible rapidity. I used to type at about 80 words per minute, and my fingers went to the right keys as if they had minds of their own, all cooperating with the other fingers to spell out the essential words. Of course that is not a scientific description, but it will do for the moment. Computer keyboards fooled my fingers for awhile because they are almost flat, and the typewriter keyboards are on more of a slope, so forgive my fingers if they make mistakes now. I ran across an article I wrote on the subject of creation a few years ago, and below are a few excerpts from that article.
"If life were simply a property of matter, why is it not as pervasive as the physical laws of gravity, and why are the unique characteristics of life only present when the organism is alive, and why does the organism die? " (Perhaps these questions are not as simplistic as they sound). Robert Augros wrote in his book -The New Biology-: "What cause is responsible for the origin of the genetic code that directs it to produce animal and plant species? It cannot be matter because of itself matter has no inclination to these forms, any more than it has to the form of Poseidon or to the form of a microchip or any other artefact. Nature is God's handiwork, -Divine art,- that is nature - it is more profound and more powerful than any human art because it constitutes the very essence of things."
We cannot understand the essence of life, we can only observe its effects. The miracle of life on the smallest scale surpasses the complexity and ingenuity of the greatest creations of humanity. The biologist Jacob marveled at the operations within a bacterial cell which "....carries out some two thousand distinct reactions with incomparable skill in the smallest space imaginable. These two thousand reactions diverge and converge at top speed, without ever becoming entangled, and produce exactly the quantity and quality of molecular species required for growth and reproduction, with a yield close to one hundred percent." (Sorry, I can't find the reference book any more in my records. J.C.)
In -Evolution, a Theory in Crisis- M Denton expresses his wonder at the miracle of creation. "It is the sheer universality of perfection, the fact that everywhere we look to whatever depth we look we find an elegance and ingenuity of an absolutely transcending quality, which so mitigates against the law of chance. Alongside the level of ingenuity and complexity exhibited by the molecular machinery of life, even our most advanced artefacts appear clumsy." Our bodies are composed of tens of billions of cells, all coordinated and working together in perfect harmony when we are in good health.
Abdu'l-Baha sums it up in this statement:"...We maintain that these infinite beings, these necessary relations, this perfect arrangement must of necessity have proceeded from a Source that is not bereft of will and understanding, and this infinite composition cast into infinite forms must have been caused by an all-embracing Wisdom. ...."
There has been more talk of a coming shift in the location of the poles of the Earth of late. There are different hypotheses about how this will come about. If you go to the search engines on internet and search for "tenth planet and pole shift" or just "tenth planet" you will come up with a few hundred web sites where the pros and cons of this hypothesis are discussed. Although the existence of a tenth planet is not accepted by all astronomers, a few go as far as theorizing an orbit for such a planet, and posit that its orbit will come between the earth and the sun causing the Earth's axis to shift, relocating the north and south poles. Of course this passage of a tenth planet would have to occur when the earth is on the same side of the sun as the planet when it passes. Some of them say this will occur next spring, in April or May, causing worldwide catastrophes with violent weather, tidal waves, earthquakes and causing many parts of existing continents to be submerged, and new land to appear.
Another theory is based on the centrifugal forces of the Earth's rotation, creating sufficient force to cause the Earth to seek a new axis of rotation when the masses of the Earth make a move sufficiently great to unbalance the centrifugal forces of the Earth's current axis of rotation. This is discussed at http://www.huttoncommentaries.com/PSResearch/PS_Precursor/possible_precursor.htm This theory and research seems to support the idea proposed by Dr. Barber long ago that the centrifugal forces of the Earth become unbalanced periodically at intervals of about 12,000 years because of the Earth/Moon relationship. The center of gravity of these two bodies is not at the center of the Earth, but somewhere in the crust of the Earth. The Moon not only causes the tides in the oceans to change, but it also causes minute tides in the earth itself , which over sufficient time might cause sufficiently large shifts in the crust's mass to unbalance the centrifugal forces of the Earth's rotation, resulting in a shift in the poles to a new point of rotation where the centrifugal forces are in balance again. The people at the above web site think this will occur next year, but as I recall they don't specify any particular month in the year. In either scenario there will be dramatic and violent changes on this earth, and our only safety is in our faith in God. (See also the book "A Revolution in the Earth sciences" by A Hallam, p. 40 where there is reference to the fact that the equatorial bulge can be offset by shifting masses elsewhere on Earth)
Although Shoghi Effendi in his interpretations and messages referred to this as the cataclysm to follow the final war, there are many prophecies by psychics about this change in the location of the axis of rotation. Abdu'l-Baha was more specific when He spoke to my grandmother saying that New York would be submerged at that time, and the climate in North America would become more sub topical. Edgar Cayce said more or less the same thing in later years. I see on internet at one of the search engines that the Theosophists under Mme. Blavatsky, also prophesied this shift in the location of the poles of the earth. Apparently the last shift in the axis ended the so-called "ice age" in North America and caused the deluge mentioned in the Bible at the time of Noah and the Ark.
Biblical scholars who take a more literal interpretation of the Bible, as do many Jewish religious people, think the time of Adam and then the deluge occurred only 6,000 years ago. In the Persian Bayan the Bab gives that time of Revelation and change as happening 12,210 years ago. He wrote: "Now from the Manifestation of Adam until the Manifestation of the Nuqta-Bayan ( i.e. Point of the Bayan, or the Bab) there have elapsed from the life of this world 12,210 years, and there is no doubt that before this there have been for God worlds and men innumerable,whereof none (knoweth) but God only." (Persian Bayan, Vahid III, Chap. 13) This coincides then with the end of the ice age of North America, and with a shift in the axis there would have been immense tidal waves which would account for the flood legends all over the world. (Note: In Iran they use the solar year)
From the reactions on one of the Baha'i forums when I briefly mentioned this subject I think most Baha'is do not want to believe it will happen. Yet, with every major change in evolution there has been vast changes in the earth, not just in physical evolution but also in spiritual evolution. I believe that as humanity becomes more spiritual and learns the meaning of love, such events will not be as violent and dramatic, but will be of a different nature. Humanity is still too materialistic and attached to this physical earth, and so there is a reaction on the physical plane because that is the plane of existence we now react to most effectively. Now that we have world-wide communication, this universal suffering will help awaken humanity to its oneness, and the absolute imperative for working together and caring for one another. Not an overnight development, for sure, but the years of rebuilding, of re-establishing commerce, communications, etc. will imprint this new awareness on the minds of the people of all the earth to varying degrees.
NEW KNOWLEDGE AND NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT THE UNIVERSE
When I use the word "new" in relation to our current knowledge about the universe, I mean what we have learned in the last 50 or 60 years, and how this knowledge leads to new questions. In Some Answered Questions, pp. 285-6 these words of Abdu'l-Baha:"......the parts of this infinite universe have their members and elements connected with one another, and influence one another spiritually and materially....Although by existing rules and actual science these connections cannot be discovered, nevertheless their existence between all beings is certain and absolute..." The spiritual connections must presently be taken on faith, but since the time when Abdu'l-Baha said this, new theories and discoveries begin to reveal the interconnections of the parts of the universe. After World War II Bell's theorem pointed to the concept that "at a deep and fundamental level the 'separate parts' of the universe are connected in an intimate and immediate way.....In short Bell's theorem and the enlightened experience of unity are very compatible." (Zukav in Dancing Wu Li Masters) Zukav is a science writer, but David Bohm, a physicist, wrote:"Parts are seen to be in immediate connection , in which their dynamical relationships depend, in an irreducible way, on the state of the whole system (and, indeed, on that of broader systems in which they are contained, extending ultimately and in principle to the entire universe). Thus, one is led to a new notion of unbroken wholeness which denies the classical idea of analyzability of the world into separately and independently existent parts..." (From On the Intuitive Understanding of Non-locality as Implied by the Quantum Theory.) Of course these concepts are not yet universally accepted.
Then we have the theories of Hannes Alfven concerning his work with plasma (in physics plasma is defined as a highly ionized gas, consisting of almost equal numbers of free electrons and positive ions. As P. Koppers states, "Plasma, which is believed to make up 99% of the universe is a form of matter distinct from solids, liquids or normal gases. . It is a gaseous state that is electronically neutral in the aggregate but which contains ions, free electrons and neutral particles, and is electrically conductive.")
In Science Dictionary by American Heritage Publ.
On a CD by Discover this:"Currents and filaments are now known to exist throughout the solar system. Electromagnetic filaments may also influence galactic structures. A galaxy spinning in the magnetic fields of space may act as a huge generator. As it creates electric currents in the interactive plasma, they flow in great spirals toward the center of the galaxy......Since 1979, Tony Peratt, a plasma physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, has been creating a computer model of Alfven's theory. By modeling the effects of electromagnetic vortices on plasma clouds, Peratt could simulate the formation of every known type of galaxy."
I also became interested in gravity waves when one of my wife's in-laws began working for a Franco Italian research team near Pisa, Italy to study gravity waves. This subject is being studied in universities throughout the world, as I discovered on search engines on internet. Knowledge of gravity waves is very important in meteorology and in astronomy, leading to a new approach to that study, called MOND, or Modification of Newtonian Gravitational Dynamics. Too complex to discuss here, but interesting to learn about. Ultimately all these studies lead to the realization that the universe is unending and eternal, or as one scientist suggests (I think his name is Arp) "It depicts a smaller, stable cosmos as part of an infinite, eternal universe. ..."
Our knowledge of the universe and creation should always be advancing, and we should never become so attached to old paradigms that we are unable to progress to new and greater knowledge. Unfortunately those few individuals who make new discoveries in any field of human endeavor, are often ridiculed by the many who are attached to the concepts they were taught, even when it becomes obvious that those concepts are wrong, or at most only partially correct.
EVERY CHILD IS OUR CHILD, AND HUMANITY IS ONE FAMILY, A TRUTH NOT YET ACCEPTED BY MOST PEOPLE
Nancy, who is teaching at a high school on the Navajo Indian Reservation, gave permission to print this excerpt from one of her letters about a talk given by a wise Navajo grandmother recently.------------------
"A Navajo grandmother in traditional clothing came to speak to the teachers today. It was great. I fell in love with her and decided to adopt a Navajo grandmother. And get this. She started out in Navajo, looking very traditional, and then slipped into perfect English. Turns out she was an assistant principal at a local school for years, and a teacher before that. She said she started wearing traditional clothing because she wanted the children who live in traditional environments to feel as though they too are okay at school, not just the ones who have converted to being modern. She talked at length about caring for the children, making them feel as though they can do it, that they are valuable important beings. She talked about how she was raised, and how her grandmother was a huge influence in her life. And she said all children are her grandchildren, and all teachers her children, and she wants every one she works with to feel important and valued. How we are responsible for all the children in the world, not just our own. I had tears in my eyes and felt like jumping up and yelling 'You tell them!'"
FAMILY TREES INTERTWINED GENETICALLY
From the book"Exons, Introns and Talking Genes" by C. Wills, Basic Books Publ. Pp281-282
"....It turns out that all of us have a great deal of inbreeding in our ancestries, though very little of it was close enough to upset the theological establishment at the time it took place. The cumulative effect of this inbreeding is to reduce the number of our ancestors, since the same person may turn up in many places in a family tree. This is particularly the case when the tree is traced back to a time when our ancestors lived in small genetically isolated villages. ...All this inbreeding does not reduce the diversity of our ancestry, however. Were we patient enough, most of us could trace our ancestries back through multiple lines, not to one village but to dozens or hundreds, scattered across entire countries or even continents. Because of this, each of us represents a small sampling of the genetic heritage of a huge fraction of the human species."
FORGIVENESS, FORBEARANCE, KINDNESS, COURTESY AND LOVE
It isn't worthwhile to bear grudges toward anyone, and the best way to make the world a better place for everyone is through expression of the qualities of love for all humanity. Even if members of your community shun you, or have shunned you, it is far preferable to continue to express courtesy and friend- ship for such souls when you encounter them. Abdu'l-Baha wrote:"wherefore must the loved ones of God associate in affectionate fellowship with stranger and friend alike, showing forth to all the utmost loving-kindness, disregarding the degree of their capacity, never asking whether they deserve to be loved. In every instance let the friends be considerate and infinitely kind. Let them never be defeated by the malice of the people, by their aggression and their hate, no matter how intense...." Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 24 "O ye loved ones of the Lord! This is the hour when ye must associate with all the earth's peoples in extreme kindliness and love, and be to them the signs and tokens of God's great Mercy." Ibid, p. 21 However, we must at the same time defend the innocent from the aggressors ...
Baha'u'llah wrote:"They that are endowed with sincerity and faithfulness should associate with all the peoples and kindreds of the earth with joy and radiance, inasmuch as consorting with people hath promoted and will continue to promote unity and concord, which in turn are conducive to the maintenance of order in the world and to the regeneration of nations. Blessed are such as hold fast to the cord of kindliness and tender mercy and are free from animosity and hatred." Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p 36 "The Great Being saith: O ye children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interest and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity...." Ibid, p. 168
And Abdu'l-Baha wrote: "Trust in God, and be unmoved by either praise or false accusations,.....depend entirely on God." Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha p. 158 Praise or false accusations do not change what you actually are, and the ancient wisdom of "know thyself" and the more modern "get real" apply. So show friendship and kindness to those who either praise you or speak unkindly about you. It is their problem. If the accusations are true, then take heed and correct the shortcoming, and remain friends with the accuser, but you don't have to seek them out ! We should always strive to defend the weak and the innocent from the aggressors in a reasonable way, and as long as we are certain we are doing our utmost to follow the path of truth and justice, we should not be deterred by false accusations. Make sure they are false.
REMINDERS OF FUTURE EVENTS
"After this date (1963) great commotion and upheaval will embrace the whole earth. To make a long story short, terrible wars, and disastrous earthquakes will take place and all kinds of miseries will encompass mankind to such an extent that in certain parts of the world historical monuments will be completely destroyed. Briefly, the population of the earth will be diminished to one-third." Abdu'l-Baha in Tablet to a Persian believer.
"From the Holy Scriptures, it is clear that a series of great events will appear in the world, either concurrently or serially between the initial appearance of the Manifestation of God and the final ushering in of the Kingdom of God on earth. These are a cataclysmic upheaval, a worldwide economic collapse and a fiery holocaust or Armageddon. These events will be fulfilled in both senses, that is literally and figuratively so that no man shall have grounds for excuse." Abdu'l-Baha in Tablet to a Persian believer.
WAR AND PEACE
Peace without justice is a pause between hostilities. Until the inequities in this world civilization are corrected wars will continue. The extremes of wealth and poverty that exist throughout the world, the starving children in every part of the globe, the inadequate health care, the increasing inaccessibility to higher education, etc. are all problems that must be corrected to insure a durable world peace. Those who believe that it will take 1000 years to establish a world government and world peace are apparently totally unaware of the disastrous effects our current civilization is having on the environment, causing havoc in the world climates. The pesticides and the genetically modified crops are very detrimental to the health of humanity, and are contributing to the gradual destruction of both flora and fauna . So pray for peace based on justice, love and compassion, not just for a cessation of a war. This mutuality of creation, and interdependence of all humanity, is described by Abdu'l-Baha.......
"....This mutual helpfulness is realized either dire4ctly or through mediation, and if, for the twinkling of an eye, this confirmation and assistance does not descend upon the living being, it will become non-existent, for all the existing things are linked together and draw help from each other. Therefore the greatest foundation of the world of existence is this cooperation and mutuality." [Humans, in this age, are gradually interfering with this interdependence, which could, in time, destroy human life on earth] "Liken the world of existence to the temple of man. All the limbs and organs of the human body assist one another; therefore life continues. When, in this wonderful organism, there is a disconnection, life is changed to death and the parts of the body disintegrate. Likewise, among the parts of existence there is a wonderful connection and interchange of forces, which is the cause of the life of the world and the continuation of these countless phenomena.......The more the world aspires to civilization, the more this most important matter of cooperation becomes manifest. Therefore in the world of humanity one sees this matter of helpfulness attain to a high degree of efficiency/ so much so that the continuation of humanity entirely depends upon this interrelation." Baha'i World, Vol. 2, p. 50
CHILDREN AS VICTIMS OF WAR
Not only are children too often innocent victims of war, they have sometimes been forced to serve in actual warfare. Near the end of World War II when I was in the Pacific area, some of the U.S. soldiers told me of Japanese boys, just old enough to carry and fire a weapon, serving in the Japanese army. Sometimes they would find one of these children hiding in a tree, and crying in fear. Georgine tells me that the Germans also inducted boys of 16 or so and old men, into their army near the end of the war. In Africa, some of the armies had little boys kill one of their relatives to toughen them up for battle. This is the shame of humanity, and even though God gives special compensation for such children, that cannot serve as an excuse the cruelty of adults toward children. Abdu'l-Baha wrote: "As to the subject of babes and infants and weak ones who are afflicted by the hands of oppressors; this contains great wisdom and this subject is of paramount importance. In brief, for those souls there is a recompense in another world and many details are connected with this matter. For those souls that suffering is the greatest mercy of God. Verily that mercy of the Lord is far better and preferable to all the comfort of this world and the growth and development of this place of mortality." Baha'i World Faith, p. 372
THE TRUE LESSON OF WAR HAS NOT YET BEEN LEARNED BY ALL PEOPLE
"....the fire of war is world-consuming, whereas the rays of peace are world-enlightening. One is death, the other is life; this is extinction, that is immortality; one is the most great calamity, the other is the most great bounty; this is darkness, that is light; this is eternal humiliation and that is everlasting glory; one is the destroyer of the foundation of man, the other is the founder of the prosperity of the human race...." Baha'i World Faith, p. 428
Except for the people actually involved in the horror of war and conflict, the rest of humanity has not yet suffered enough to arise in unity to outlaw war. The root causes of war must be recognized and acknowledged, so that positive action can be taken to eradicate the causes of war and antagonism. That is the reason why peace without justice will not mean the end of war and we must act and pray for a peace based on the spiritual values given to us by God. Unfortunately humanity in general has chosen the hard way to world unity and peace, and the lessons will be learned through severe and long lasting hardships. As individuals we can make a positive contribution to the future unity of humanity by our relationships with others, through courtesy, compassion, generosity, fairness, kindness and forbearance. It may not seem like much for individuals to do, but it does have an effect over time, more than you may realize.
JUDGING FROM WORLD TENSIONS AND ANTAGONISMS IT APPEARS THAT WE ARE NOW EXPERIENCING THE START OF THE FINAL CONVULSION ENDING THIS AGE
"God's purpose is none other than to usher in, in ways He alone can bring about, and the full significance of which He alone can fathom, the Great, the Golden Age of a long-divided, a long-afflicted humanity. Its present state, indeed even its immediate future, is dark, distressingly dark. Its distant future, however, is radiant, gloriously radiant -- so radiant that no eye can visualize it..."...... "The convulsions of this transitional and most turbulent period in the annals of humanity are the essential prerequisites and herald the inevitable approach of that Age of Ages, 'the time of the end,' in which the folly and tumult of strife that has, since the dawn of history, blackened the annals of mankind, will have been finally transmuted into the wisdom and tranquility of an undisturbed, a universal and lasting peace, in which the discord and separation of the children of men will have given way to the world-wide reconciliation, and the complete unification of the divers elements that constitute human society...It is this stage which humanity, willingly or unwillingly, is resistlessly approaching." . Shoghi Effendi in Baha'i World, 1954-1963, p. 110
NOTES ABOUT NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
Near death experiences are generally similar except for the details, which I believe vary slightly according to the spiritual, emotional and intellectual development of the individual. With children the accounts will vary according to who questions them and the questions asked, but there are some features that are common to all. One of the first experiences is that of floating above your body and observing the people trying to revive you. If you go beyond this phase most people tell of passing through what seems to be a long tunnel, moving toward a light at the end. At that point most people see their relatives and family that have passed on earlier, coming to welcome the new arrival. Most important is the being of Light who, with utmost love and kindness, reviews all the important events in the life of the new arrival. People see this being of Light as Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Buddha, etc. according to their religious background. In these near death experiences, this being of Light tells the new arrival that he/she must return to earth. In almost every instance when the person is revived, his/her attitude toward life is completely changed, and a new spiritual awareness of our relationship to all of humanity and to God is born.
Many of the children tell of being given instructions on how they must behave during this experience. The details of this experience vary considerably depending on the child, and the person who interviews the child. When the children tell of their meeting with the being of Light, they often describe that being of Light as a kind, and loving grandfather figure, or something similar.. Some children, usually those living in countries where they are closer to nature, speak of being guided by talking animals on how they must conduct themselves.
There is considerable material on near death experiences available on internet. Not all accounts are reliable, of course, but the general features are similar in most of them. Many report seeing a radiant city of light and of incredible beauty, in the distance.. Interesting.
BAHA'I TEACHINGS ABOUT THE NEXT LEVEL OF EXISTENCE
"And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries , nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty....," Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, 156 The expression "attaineth the presence of God" is explained in the Writings elsewhere as attaining the presence of His Holy Spirit, manifested in the Manifestation of God.
Blessed is the soul which, at the hour of its separation from the body, is sanctified from the vain imaginings of the peoples of the world. Such a soul liveth and moveth in accordance with the Will of its Creator, and entereth the all-highest Paradise. The Maids of Heaven, inmates of the loftiest mansions, will circle around it, and the Prophets of God and His chosen ones will seek its companionship. With them that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds...." Ibid.
"Thou hast, moreover, asked Me concerning the state of the soul after its separation from the body. Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will , assuredly, return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved. By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue describe. The soul that hath remained faithful to the Cause of God, and stood unwaveringly firm in His Path shall, after his ascension, be possessed of such power that all the worlds which the Almighty hath created can benefit through him. Such a soul provideth, at the bidding of the Ideal King and Divine Educator, the pure leaven that leaveneth the world of being, and furnisheth the power through which the arts and wonders of the world are made manifest...." Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p. 161
"And now, concerning thy question whether human souls continue to be conscious one of another after their separation from the body. Know thou that the souls of the people of Baha, who have entered and been established within the Crimson Ark, shall associate and commune intimately one with another"......"The people of Baha, who are the inmates of the Ark of God, are, one and all, well aware of one another's state and condition, and are united in the bonds of intimacy and fellowship. Such a state, however, must depend upon their faith and their conduct. They that are of the same grade and station are fully aware of one another's capacity, character, accomplishments and merits. They that are of a lower grade, however, are incapable of comprehending adequately the station, or of estimating the merits of those that rank above them"..... Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p. 170
I believe that whatever level of spiritual development one has attained, if one has the love of God and His creatures in his or her heart, this brings happiness at all times and leads to greater spiritual insight and development, whether here or in the next level of existence.
"O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain." Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p,.329
LINKS TO ARTICLES
This link set up by Robert Standley has all but one of the current sites: www.metavergence.com/john
Here is a site for for the article on economics, ethics and ecology, or spiritual civilization www.angelfire.com/amiga/humanity/ethics_ecology_economics.html
Here is the site for Tariqat, or quotations from the Writings concerning spiritual development http://ca.geocities.com/johncarre/tariqat.html
Here are sites for the Alif of the Greatest Name, the coming Manifestation ofGod www.angelfire.com/amiga/humanity/Manifestation_coming_soon.html
(This last site set up courtesy of Thomas Spellman)
Here 1s a site for Island of Hope, or spiritual meditations http://ca.geocities.com/johncarre/island_of_hope.html