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  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:53 am on January 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , spiritual development,   

    What establishes the truth of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation? 

    SOURCE with thanks

    I’m wondering how other people read this passage from 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

    It certainly leaves one wondering what then is His Revelation and where it is.

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 9:07 pm on July 28, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , self-knowledge, St Francis of Assisi, true Self   

    I love the meaning-making possibilities generated by the juxtapositioning of quotations;

    “What we are looking for is what is looking.” – St Francis of Assisi

    Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. Baha’u’llah – from AHW 13

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:58 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: awakening, AWAKENING DETACHMENT SERVICE, bliss, detachment, ethnocentricity, humility, perennial wisdom, service to others, The mystical life, the Whole, the Whole and the parts, TWO WINGS   


    The mystical life is a matter of learning to live with the certainty that the Whole is unknowable. When we learn to bow before that consummate fact we can live in bliss.

    Bliss comes via two means, from the harmonious beating of two wings. The first is developing a sense of permanent connectedness to the Whole. The second is gradually realizing that all particulars – a rose, a bird a cloud – are pointers to, and proof of, the Whole to which they, and we, belong.

    The rest is focusing this spirit into service of others.

    The two wings enable what all versions of the life spiritual are about – AWAKENING: DETACHMENT: SERVICE

    Celebrating this from the lives and teaching of great teachers is what the One Garden is about (RP)

    TAGS: TWO WINGS, The mystical life, the Whole, humility, awakening, detachment, service to others, ethnocentricity, bliss, the Whole and the parts, perennial wisdom, AWAKENING DETACHMENT SERVICE,

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:27 am on July 24, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Baha'i Revelation, , proofs, self and Self, testimonies, the Word of God   

    It’s interesting that Baha’u’llah says 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.
    Gleanings 105-107

    In brief my reading, including questions, is that;

    1 The foremost testimony is His own Self. What is that Self other than Baha’u’llah as a man of a particular time and place? The Holy Spirit I suggest.

    Is the ‘Self’ that is the foremost testimony perceivable by all or some today? Yes in all times there are a few.

    2 The Revelation isn’t the words.

    3 Words are for the ‘doubting Thomases or Thomas-inas who can’t ‘geddit’ via one or both of the first two testimonies.

    4 Realizing the Revelation is not a matter of reading the words.

    5 Proof of His reality and truth can be gained via all three means but perhaps the first is to be preferred?

    6 Regardless of how you, or I, came to ‘geddit’ dedication to a combination of all three testimonies is likely to be a good idea!

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:18 pm on January 23, 2013 Permalink | Reply  


    Ours is the task to reflect as far as we can the attributes, the possession of which unites us with our Maker;

               Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him – a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation…. Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes.  Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self.    GL p.65

    Looking around our agonized planet we can see how great is the gap between what might be and what is.



  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:03 pm on August 30, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Human development as authenticity & autonomy – via intra-personal justice 

    A few thoughts inspired by AHW2;




  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 3:14 pm on September 3, 2009 Permalink | Reply  

    ‘Should the Baha’i model of leadership be the best that is in the wider community + the ‘X’ factor ? 

    I have updated something I wrote some years ago in the belief that it might be useful to some people;

    364px-Valkyrie_(The_Roaches)Serving each other’s success in team-work

    The ‘Ethics of Leadership’ – through serving Universal Participation

    a ‘1-page’ Development Programme for LSAs & other Baha’i Institutions – to release the power for success

    There are two Baha’i sources for guiding principles in this ‘one-page’ programme:-

    i) The principles of Universal Participation, transformation & effective planning – called for by The Universal House of Justice

    ii) The principle enshrined in this statement by the Guardian on leadership;

    The first quality of leadership both among individuals & assemblies is the capacity to use the energy & competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the group will go at a tangent & try to find elsewhere a field of work & where they could use their energy.”

    Groups and individuals help each other in striving toward maturity. We might therefore also add this interesting statement by Carl Rogers in his book On Becoming a Person:

    The degree to which I can create relationships which facilitate the growth of others is a measure of the growth I have achieved myself.”

    Surely this = THE central ethic for relationships between individuals & within groups.

    ‘Do everything possible to create an environment in which those with whom you have relationship – from friends to humanity as a whole – have the best possible environment in which to become their best and fullest selves’.

    Conversely do as little as possible that impedes the progress of others.

    Leadership here then, for Baha’is and their institutions, is seen as stimulating, gathering & directing (gently) everyone’s energy and abilities – via creating & authorizing ways to participate.

    This starts with listening, then asking, then encouraging then enabling.

    This is closer to the loving parent image than the thou shalt/shall not’ aspect of a court of law.

    The elements of this programme are, it is suggested, some of the characteristics of successful LSAs, NSAs etc.

    The programme in outline contains 9 elements – each leads to the next & connects with others.

    1 Be happy, confident & relaxed in working the divine system – and its Administration.

    2 Lovingly consult with every woman, man, Youth & child in the community to see how s/he would like to serve. Most have dreams of ways to serve – help the dreams to become realities.

    3 Realize the benefit of uniting around simple, broad policies early in each year’s work.

    4 Use the broad policies to provide everyone with a simple job description – let them write first draft.

    5 Trust & nurture the delegation of work, & diversity in ways of working. Avoid unnecessary interference in detail.

    6 Maintain in consultation the distinction between policy matters and execution of policy. Consciously avoid having ‘an eye for the inessential’. Identify, empower & encourage ‘critical success factors’. (Keep your own ‘stuff’ off the table!)

    7 See the work of the LSA as everyone’s successful action between meetings. Celebrate & further encourage small successes. Carry the news of successes to the Feast & the wider community. En-courage, en-courage, en-courage.

    8 Use meetings to serve each soul so as to enable her/him to further achieve her/his goals of service.

    9 Having used the first one or two meetings to create (or review) broad polices, terms of reference &/or job descriptions spend time on a) hearing & celebrating accounts of progress, b) giving encouragement & constructive evaluation & c) negotiating further support and empowerment for/with individuals.

    Why ‘broad policies? Because individual initiative and creativity are vital to the achievement of tasks. Top down prescription kills the energy of individual initiative and creativity.

    Serving the growth of others in friendships, in families, in businesses, in teaching , inorganizations and institutions = I suggest then is THE core ethic  to achieve the success of desirable growth and development.

    Roger Prentice Burnlaw Version 29 as at 29.08.09


    What are the messages between the lines?

    All communications from institutions should explicitly and implicitly carry messages such as these;

    1 We are working together because of the mystical bond that unites us, and because of the gloriously high status Baha’u’llah gives to His believers – as in “Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll. ” (Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings Pages 196-197)

    2 “We love you, we are encouraging you – we stand ready to serve your needs.”

    3 “We have taken the trouble to understand how you are already serving Bahá’u’lláh and how you further want to serve Him – and dedicate ourselves to supporting you.”

    4 “I am not able to participate in much teaching work but I dedicate myself to not undermining, negating and rubbishing the work of those who are able to teach.”

    5 “Even though the ways you have chosen to serve Bahá’u’lláh may not be the ways that members of the LSA choose, or are able, to serve we value equally the work you are doing and will do all in our power to support it.”

    6 “We who are not able to do very much will strive to eliminate negativity and get behind those who are able to be active.”

    7 “We care about you as a person and as a servant of Bahá’u’lláh.”


    Below is a typical diagram of a model showing styles of leadership.

    Given our commitment to Science and Religion, as discovered truth and revealed truth respectively, the question arises,

    ‘Should the Baha’i model of leadership be the best that is in the wider community + the ‘X’ factor that is brought by Baha’u’llah’s Revelation (whatever that is determined to be)?’ ‘If this is not the case then what is?’


    Photo & Diagram sources WikiPedia on ‘Climbing & on ‘Leadership’

    • Susan Gammage 3:17 am on September 13, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      How wonderful to see a discussion about Baha’i principles of leadership, Roger! You might enjoy a posting on Baha’i-inspired businsses at: http://bahailifecoach.com/the-new-business-model-bahai-style

    • Sen 8:04 pm on September 19, 2009 Permalink | Reply

      “The first quality for leadership both among individuals and Assemblies is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the rank and file of its followers. Otherwise the more competent members of the groups will go at a tangent and try to find elsewhere a field of work and where they could use their energy.
      Shoghi Effendi hopes that the Assemblies will do their utmost in planning such teaching activities that every single soul will be kept busy.”

      (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, dated August 30, 1930).

      A comment about Shoghi Effendi on my blog
      led me to thinking about Shoghi Effendi’s leadership style this morning: how his natural style was to find co-workers and join them into networks, finding a use for everyone’s talents. I think this comes out most clearly in Ugo Giachery’s ‘Recollections.’ Giachery had his talents, Remey had others, Maxwell his own, and each found a place. It’s a very person-oriented approach, just the opposite of the approach that starts with some new plan or programme that is supposed to yield benefits, and has no use for those who do not fit it.
      ~~ Sen

  • 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 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.

  • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 8:34 am on July 21, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Charles Dunning, Knight of Baha'u'llah, Shoghi Effendi, Spiritual insight, The Guardian, True nobility   

    Nobility comes in rough packages – Shoghi Effendi, Charles Dunning and the cigarettes. 


    Marion Hofman told this story about the Knight of Baha’u’llah to the Orkney Islands, Charles Dunning.

    Charlie was small, slightly strange-looking.  The children in Kirkwall used to run after him and throw stones and sticks and call him names. He was simple and uneducated.

    Charlie went on pilgrimage during the time of the Guardian.  At dinner the other guests were shocked because Charles spoke very forcefully to the Guardian telling his views – and wagging his finger at the Guardian to emphasize his points.  The Guardian laughed and took it all in good spirit.

    Worse was to come.  After the meal Charlie took out his packet of cigarettes, lit one and puffed away.  Shock – horror!

    The Guardian who loved Charlie (and I like to think was trying to deepen the other guests) instructed that a packet of 20 Players Navy Cut cigarettes be at Charlie’s dinner-table place for the remainder of the pilgrimage.

    Roger’s comment:

    At that meeting Marion Hofman had driven to the rest home where Charlie had retired to and brought him to the meeting to present him to us whilst she gave her eulogy.  He was a rough diamond, done-up but still scruffy, a bit clown-like. This taught me powerfully that nobility comes in modest packages AND that the Guardian really knew the wheat from the chaff. Only God knows how many simpering idiots Shoghi Effendi had to put up with – Charles was very little but 100% the real thing – and I suspect refreshed the Guardian’s spirit.

    The Guardian’s humanity cut through what we would now call political correctness.  He understood the man’s sincerity was far more important than manners that were beyond Charlie’s experience.

    • Susan Talwar 8:39 pm on February 22, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Dear Roger,
      I met Charlie at a Teaching Conf. when I was a Baha’i youth. I was somewhat worried about the teaching work where I lived. Charlie came up to me and talked and talked and never left me until the end. I just listened in awe! Here was this funny little gnome of a man with only one tooth showing and I could hardly open my mouth. I just basked in his love and knew I was in the presence of a spiritual giant! Yet no one had introduced him; I didn’t know he was a Knight of Baha’u’llah or anything else about him. To this day I treasure that meeting and the gift he gave me!
      Thanks for the entry!

      • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 5:52 am on February 23, 2012 Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for adding that sweet, personal touch to my little piece!


      • Rosemary McLaughlin 1:20 pm on September 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Susan, how lovely to hear your remarks, I would love to be able to tell your story at our 60 th anniversary celebrations of Charlie’s first arriving in Orkney. Please have a look at the Orkney Baha’is Facebook page to see some pictures of Charlie.

        • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 4:10 am on September 16, 2013 Permalink

          Hi Rosemary

          I’m afraid my recollection of Marion’s talk at a conference at Kensington Library (?) many years ago is all I have.

          I wonder if the NSA can give you any more leads.

          Good luck with the anniversary celebrations!


    • Rosemary McLaughlin 1:17 pm on September 15, 2013 Permalink | Reply

      Roger, do you mind if we quote you in our 60th anniversary celebrations of Charlie’s first arriving in Orkney.

      • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 4:18 am on September 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        Such as it is please feel free. I also remember hearing that this ‘funny little man’ used to have local ‘urchins’ throw stones at him. He was stalwart and steadfast and it was these qualities that the Guardian liked, as I understand it, and the reason that the Guardian not only overlooked his less than ‘courtly’ manners but took some amused pleasure not just in Charlie but in the shock that his smoking and finger-wagging had on some of the more proper other diners!


      • Roger - Dr Roger Prentice 2:30 pm on September 16, 2013 Permalink | Reply

        I did reply – perhaps it didn’t go. Yes do!

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