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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 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

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 7:32 am on August 6, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bad religion, , Christopher Hitchens, , Good Religion, , Materialism, Reason Faith and Revolution, , Richard Dawkins, , The Case for God,   

    Is spirituality an intrinsic part of being human? 

    450px-Terry_Eagleton_in_Manchester_2008_WikiPediaIs spirituality an intrinsic part of being human?

    Two recent authors have challenged the fundamentalist-materialist position of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens that is so entirely unsympathetic to the religious, or more accurately the non-rationalist.  They are Reason, Faith and Revolution, by Terry Eagleton and The Case for God, by Karen Armstrong.  (They are reviewed HERE by Paul Vallely in the Independent.)

    Here I want to appreciatively critique a passage from Chapter 2 of Eagleton’s book (p 83).  The passage says;

    Transcendence, however, did not simply go away. In one sense, this is precisely what Ditchkins (Dawkins + Hitchens) is complaining about; but the matter is more complex than that.  The less plausibly religion seemed to answer to the human desire for a realm beyond science, material welfare, democratic politics and economic utility, the more robustly literature, the arts, culture, the humanities, psychoanalysis, and (the most recent candidate) ecology have sought to install themselves in that vacant spot.  If the arts have accrued an extraordinary significance in a modern era for which they are, practically speaking, just another kind of commodity, it is because they provide an ersatz sort of transcendence in a world from which spiritual values have been largely banished.

    The issues I have are;

    1 Transcendence is a, more or less, normal part of being human like the mystical, of which transcendence is an essential part, like philosophizing, like sexuality, like breathing.  It couldn’t go away unless every new human was subjected to a radical lobotomy.  The ‘more or less’ depends on how crass or sensitive the individual’s education has been.

    2 Instead of ‘desire for a realm’ I would prefer something like ‘intrinsic state of being’.  That which Dawkins and Hitchens would expunge is not a faulty behaviour but an essential part of being human – possible hard-wired, associated with the structure and functioning of the right hemisphere of the brain.

    3 Eagleton, like Armstrong is a successful critic of those he calls Ditchkins and a successful champion of this other ‘thing’ that isn’t the rational mind.  But the ‘thing’ is not an aberration, a sop, a weakness, a behavioural defect, a culturally-induced pattern – it is a universal part of being human.  Eagleton needs a better term for this ‘thing’, this part of being human that provides certain states being and engaging and knowing.  He might do well to study Armstrong’s use of, and explanations of, ‘mythos’.  However with her use I would plead that it start intra-personally otherwise it gets easily pushed out to being a thing in the social and cultural inter-personal world.

    4 Failing to place mythos as art of being human leads Eagleton a set of judgments that are Ditchkins-esque in their severity.  His list of literature, the arts, culture, the humanities, psychoanalysis, and (the most recent candidate) ecology are not vehicles for ersatz transcendence but vehicles for the real thing – because the transcendent or mystical experience is part of being human – from nature mysticism to sexuality.

    5 To bring in, in this context, the horror of arts commodity-fication clouds the most important argument.

    At the community level 60-80% of our friends are artists.  They aren’t all crippled by commodity-fication.  One or two perhaps but the possession of spiritual values is not synonymous with being religious, nor is the absence of conventional religiosity any bar to possessing spiritual values – as the Marxist Eagleton fully demonstrates.

    Even at the Tate level of the arts commodity-fication is not primarily the issue.  ‘Art now doing the job that philosophy used to do’ is as much the case as ‘art is now doing the job that religion used to do’.  Then there is the issue of what gets in and what doesn’t get in.  This is the prerogative of individual gate-keepers called curators, who along with particular critics, determine the particular kinds of discourse that will be presented.  They only indirectly serve ‘the market’.

    Transcendence, mystical experience and the possession or non-possession of spiritual values exist because we are human, and in the world with others.  Good religion feeds these aspects of being human – and rationality for that matter.  Bad religion blocks or distorts them.

    Eagleton fails to establish that -”beyond-the-reasoning-mind part of being human which I feel is essential for the full success of his arguments. This is for want of a term such as mythos and secondly because he doesn’t start with the psycho-spiritual reality of what it is to be human.

    Armstrong does so much better in this via her ‘we-need-a-balance-of-mythos-and-logos’ arguments in her ‘Case for God’, something I will celebrate in future posts.

    I deal further with these and allied issues in my Spiritualizing Pedagogy: education as the art of working with the human spirit

    As to the question, ‘Is spirituality an intrinsic part of being human?’ my answer is yes – good religion feeds these deeper aspects of being human – including rationality.  Bad religion blocks or distorts them.  As to the differences between the two that also is the subject for further pieces.

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