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  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:17 am on January 12, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , interfaith, , testimonies of Baha'u'llah   

    Baha’u’llah’s ‘three testimonies establishing His truth’ 

    The shrine of Baha’u’llah – Haifa


    I am intrigued by the statement in Gleanings;

    Say: The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self.

    Next to this testimony is His Revelation.

    For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the

    words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth. – Gleanings LII / pp 104/107

    1) HIS ‘Self’: It seems to me that this is a rank order – not simply three alternative ways of realizing.

    If a person wishes to establish the truth of Baha’u’llah and his Revelation the first (ideal?, most distinguished?) way is ‘His own Self’.

    Now this can mean you found Baha’u’llah during His lifetime. Secondly if you are deeply spiritual you may find Baha’u’llah in the world of spirit.

    The capitalized ‘Self’ would not be Baha’u’llah referring to his earthly person but as the Manifestation of God r- the Holy Spirit reflected in the perfect mirror of his self having, been ‘chosen’ by God.

    “When I contemplate, O my God, the relationship that bindeth me to Thee, I am moved to proclaim to all created things ‘verily I am God!’; and when I consider my own self, lo, I find it coarser than clay!” 5 – http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/bic/SB/sb-14.html

    Once when I was on pilgrimage in Haifa Hand of the Cause Faizi spoke with sorrow that the Promised One should have been treated so badly by the authorities of His time. He spoke almost in terms of God having ‘bred’ Baha’u’llah. This of course is another way of referring to the fact that Baha’u’llah was descended from the ‘aryan’ prophets as well as the ‘semitic’ ones and brought together the two lines. – http://bahai-library.com/pdf/z/zinky_genealogy.pdf

    2) HIS REVELATION: Next in Baha’u’llah’s statement is ‘His Revelation’ – but what is the Revelation and where is it?

    It can’t be the Writings per se because they are there for those who fail to recognize both ‘His own Self’ and ‘His Revelation’.

    I suggest that The Revelation is the infusion of potential into humanity. With the coming of a Manifestation new life is infused into human perception and creativity. In fact Baha’u’llah says creation ceases to exist and a new creation comes into being.

    This great uplift in human potential and the early stages of its manifestation is responded to by society as a whole. It is manifested in many fields other than the religious, spiritual development and personal morality. These include the fields of technology and the creation of new human institutions.

    In 1970 Alvin Toffler, and his uncredited wife Heidi, published a book called Future Shock. It sold 6 million copies and has been widely translated. People now, 43 years later, are interested in how many of the prophecies’ the book made have become true. However having read the book soon after it came out I recall that the most stunning fact for me was that 98% of everything that has been invented has been invented since the middle of the 19thC, and the coming of Baha’u’llah,- the radio valve, penicillin, the internet and thousands of such life-changing inventions. The Red Cross was founded in 1863, The Cooperative Wholesale Society was founded in 1844 and the Retail Society in 1863 – see HERE – etc. A Google search on ‘list of inventions 1850-2000’ – HERE – seems to suggest that people gave up trying to add to the list after 1920!

    PERHAPS THIS IS ALSO RELEVANT – In this book The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah Shoghi Effendi quotes a prophecy about the 27 letters of knowledge, 2 of which had been revealed to mankind by previous messengers, and the Qa’im (here, the Bab) will reveal the other 25.

    You will also find this in The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p 125 in the section on the Bab. The 27 letters refer to the Arabic alphabet (which has 27 letters, excluding the vowel Alif) which here symbolizes all knowledge. – http://bahai-library.com/resources/tablets-notes/bayan/letters.html

    3) THE WORDS: The sacred Writings of course as the Word of God hold within them the potential for the long period of development. The question arises however. ‘How should we apply knowledge of the first two testimonies or proofs to how we view those Writings?

    If we think, as I believe many Baha’is think, that the Writings are the Revelation we might be in danger of developing wrong or unhelpful views and decision-making.

    Testimonies one and two relate much more to the subjective mystical core of spiritual life. They are based on the experiential.

    The final issue with words is that they can entrap us, and lead to logic chopping and endless disunity and self-confusion. Most religions warn against this – none more delightfully that Abraham Joshua Heschel where he says;

    “Concepts are delicious snacks with which we try to alleviate our amazement.”

    Heschel is of course asserting that the state of amazement, awe or at-one-ment is the true spiritual condition cf the world of words, concepts and ideas – the Kingdom of Names in Baha’i Writings see HERE  Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle and many spiritual teachers teach the same but I always want to say, “Duality as well as nonduality is part of God’s plan in this world – and if you stay too much in a nondual state you’ll burn the dinner or miss your appointment.” The two the nondual and the world of things and concepts are complementary – they are the two wigs through which we make spiritual progress.

    CONCLUSION – The spiritually pure find Baha’u’llah in any age – perhaps via Abdu’l-Baha, perhaps in a dream.

    The Revelation becomes manifest in human consciousness and creativity in proportion to the extent that we get ‘in tune’ with the spirit of this age as brought by Baha’u’llah.  We each, and humankind as a whole, are infused with potentiality as well as our manifest qualities and a dark side.  The Revelation of Baha’u’llah is the spirit of the age which becomes manifest the more that women and men reflect the qualities of that spirit.  Some of them are Baha’is.

    The Writings help us where and when we don’t have the consciousness to manifest the qualities of our true Self – and they of course help us deepen that consciousness.  We can say that the three are a triad – a triad in which at any one time we are closer to one of the three ‘points’ of the triangle – or of course we are overcome with forgetfulness.

    But to me they still read as a rank order!

    What do you think?


  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 7:30 am on August 27, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Baha'i in Process blog, , Dia-logos, Dialogic method, Dialogue, Human needs, , The keys to development   

    Baha’i human rights – or developmental human needs – are these the keys to progress? 

    I once asked on a course I was teaching this question, “What is the origin of human rights?”  Very quickly a woman from Sweden said, “Human needs.”  This struck a deep chord in me and I began to wonder how that might be the case and what were the implications for those of us that are interested in Baha’i-inspired development and education.

    EleanorRooseveltHumanRightsRecently I found this quotation included with Wendi Momen’s long list of human rights established within Baha’i writings.  The most significant aspect of the quotation for me is the assertion that in governments, and in religions, autocratic governance actually prevents (presumably true and desirable ) development;

    `Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail — that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs — development and growth are inevitable.’ Abdu’l-Bahá 1912

    Thanks Wendi – your list and this quotation really go to the heart of the matter don’t they?

    The free expression of opinions is not a ‘human right’ so much as a human and social necessity without which (true and desirable) progress is not possible. To achieve inevitable development and growth three conditions are necessary freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech. Pow!

    As someone interested in education I can see the importance of these three, not least because elsewhere Abdu’l-Baha establishes discursive method, or dialogue (dia-logos) as desirable method over book-learning.  Very simply Baha’i-inspired development and learning require the dialogic, and the dialogic requires freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech.

    Why are these needs?  To release effictively human potential both in relation to the individual, your son or daughter or pupils, but also for mankind collectively.  The Revelation of Baha’u’llah is not His Writings it is I suggest human consciousness – slightly manifest, mainly still in the potential state.  I dont say this just because of this;

    There are certain pillars which have been established as the unshakable supports of the Faith of God. The mightiest of these is learning and the use of the mind, the expansion of consciousness, and insight into the realities of the universe and the hidden mysteries of Almighty God. To promote knowledge is thus an inescapable duty imposed on every one of the friends of God. SAB p. 126-7

    But more because of this;

    Say: The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth. Gl105

    So the task is to release potential, from our selves and from others – that I suggest is ‘the Revelation’  It = +/- x right actions.  By Revelation + – I mean the Revelation is human consciousness in two states 1) manifest and 2) potential.  If not then, “Where is the Revelation of Baha’u’llah – in the ink on sheets of paper?”   Right actions = those processes that we need to strengthern the transfer from the potential state to the manifest state.  That = the new civilization.  It seems continuous and multi-level dialogue supported by freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech are the keys.

    Thank goodness we can demonstrate this as a way of ‘teaching’ the world.  Nothing would undermine efforts more than rank hypocrisy.

    In the presence of God there is no room for hypocrisy………
    (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 116)
  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 6:55 am on August 8, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Awareness, , Connection, , Contemplation, , Spiritual practice   

    The Tree of Contemplative Practices – which ones work for you? 

    This wonderful ‘tree of contemplative practices’ has been updated since I last looked at the relevant site;

    Tree of Contemplative practices new version

    My personal grateful thanks to all those who contributed to this wonderful ‘tree’. To go to the site to see much, much more click HERE

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