Divination

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hihellowhatsup
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Divination

Postby hihellowhatsup » Sun Oct 03, 2004 8:56 pm

Is divination, in any form, allowed in the Baha'i Faith? There are many such practises in many cultures, such as the Tarot of Egypt, the I Ching of China, astrology of Europe and India. One little known form is Isteqara, an Islamic form of divination, using both the Qur'an and the 99 names of Allah as a medium. Is divination allowed if you used a revealed book of God? Any opinions, thnx :D

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Sun Oct 03, 2004 11:37 pm

At the end of http://bahai-library.com/resources/tabl ... notes.html and in http://bahai-library.com/?file=marshall ... tters.html , there is a reference that this Tablet of Bahá'u'lláh deals with the issue of divination.

The Qur'án spoke out against divination by arrows, though divining through the Holy Book became a practice among some.

When Shoghi Effendi was asked whether one could use divination with a Bahá'í Holy Book, he stated an alternative instead:

"In your last question, concerning cases when those needed for consultation are not available and a person is uncertain on the course to be followed in an important matter, you ask whether it is permissible for him to resort to the practice of "istikhárih"+iv using the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The Guardian has stated that in such cases what is necessary and essential is for the person to turn his heart wholly to God and to beseech aid from the Source of Grace and inspiration and nothing else. If it is possible to postpone the decision it would be preferable and more proper to do so, until the means for consultation are made available."

note iv: "This is a process of divination, such as is done through bibliomancy, when a Holy Book is opened at random and guidance is sought for one's problem by reading passages of the Book on the opened page."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 23 April 1941 to an individual believer ö translated from the Persian, in Consultation compilation, no. 34)


So, on both accounts (i.e., even on a Holy Book), it seems to me that the answer is no, divination is not accepted.

Brett

Guest

Postby Guest » Mon Oct 04, 2004 8:24 pm

what about astrology? I've tested all forms of divination, and they have helped me avoid situations where I could have lost my life. That's a point for divination, I think.

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Tue Oct 05, 2004 4:24 pm

Astrology is discouraged, but Bahá'ís are not to make a big issue of this.

All occult practices are discouraged. Psychic practices, while recognized in our Writings as being possible (though often just either a sham or due to the imagination of the practicioner), are discouraged as well.

There was a compilation from the Universal House of Justice on this, but I do not believe it is online. You can find a good number of quotations within "Lights of Guidance".

Brett

janine

divination

Postby janine » Thu Oct 07, 2004 11:08 am

Many a times I have been guided to texts in the Bahai writings, but quite often also other texts, by doing what Shoghi Effendi advises: turning with whole my heart to God. The question though has to be urgent, a great deal of emotion/feeling has to be attached to it, otherwise I do not find the guidance I need.

I sometimes have used Tarot and the I Ching, and sometimes used a kind of self hypnosis to get to my subconscious. These means did sometimes shed light on issues, but I found myself afterwards always praying and going to the Bahai writings and quite often the right quote would come to me. Sometimes though it would take a couple of days.

I firmly think that everybody has their own path to go. Over the years I find that I rely more and more on prayer to get guidance and less and less on means like Tarot and astrology. I think to be too strict with any of the guidance given in the writings, too strict I mean in the sense that one is in danger of forcing ones spiritual progress without the proper balance, without taking into account where one is in one's own progress, can be as dangerous as being too loose.

much love,

janine

brettz9
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Postby brettz9 » Thu Oct 07, 2004 3:53 pm

Dear Janine,

Perhaps you may disagree on this, but I don't see how referring to the Writings on a question is "forcing ones spiritual progress without the proper balance", as you put it. If occult practices are discouraged, then they are discouraged.

Although there are many paths in the sense that some may find an answer to a problem more through meditation, prayer, exertion, reflection, walking, or whatever, this does not mean that we should be accepting of means which are not sanctioned and even disapproved.

"...to make division of the slain by consulting the arrows,7 is impiety in you. Woe this day on those who forsake your religion! And fear them not, but fear Me."

"O believers! surely wine and games of chance,34 and statues, and the divining arrows, are an abomination of Satan's work! Avoid them, that ye may prosper."

(Qur'an, Rodwell's translation, at http://www.bahai-library.com/quran/quranrodwell.html )

It is, of course, a different matter though to police it on those who do not hold our views or who are new to the Faith or who are insistent in their positions (unless the matter is severe enough to fall under an institution's jurisdiction).

I think the following quotation gives a good demonstration of both how we need to be flexible in not forcing the teachings on any one, but also on the need to assist others through reference to the Writings (note: He does not say that only 'Abdu'l-Bahá can do such a thing):

The laws of God regarding fasting and obligatory prayer are absolutely incumbent upon His servants. Therefore, they must turn their faces to the Point of Adoration of the celestial Concourse, hold fast to the most sublime Station, and pray and supplicate that they may be freed from the doubts of misinterpretation. This is the way of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This is the religion of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This is the path of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Whoever cherisheth the love of Bahá, let him choose this straight path. Whoever abandoneth this path, verily, he is of them who are shut out as by a veil from Him. Shouldst thou observe any soul who is in doubt about this commandment or who misinterpreteth it, but hath no secret motive or defiance in what he doeth, be friendly towards him, and with the utmost cordiality and through kind speech, endeavour to turn him from the path of such interpretation towards the plain meaning of the verses of God


Just because it is possible than one can occasionally err in applying the Writings to a given situation (such as without one having a full knowledge of the Writings on a particular subject, or without having a sense of timeliness, etc.), I don't think that this should mean that we should bind ourselves from bringing the Writings to each other's attention...

best wishes,
Brett

Jonah
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Postby Jonah » Thu Oct 07, 2004 4:43 pm

I do know of a number of Baha'is who use things like astrology and Tarot cards and don't see a conflict with the Writings. I think they understand that they're not messing with the occult, per se, as much as using these forms of popular divination as a means for reflection and meditation.

My guess is that the conflict would arise only if one were using divination as a means for accessing or influencing spiritual powers or non-Revelatory knowledge. (Of course, for me to even use the word "divination" here implies transgressing on Revelation, i.e. divining spiritual knowledge through a path that lies outside one of the Revelations, e.g. the Bible or the Baha'i Writings.) As long as Tarot or astrology or I Ching are just being used as meditation aids or ways of focussing one's intuition, I don't think they would be considered occult.

Shoghi Effendi did implicitly, though not categorically, reject bibliomancy: at http://bahai-library.com/?file=shoghief ... _khan.html he wrote:
   With regard to the last question, about a situation in which the means of consultation is absent and one has trouble making up one's mind about an important matter, you asked, "How should one consult the Most Holy Book for the purpose of soothsaying?"

   He said, "In such a situation it is necessary and requisite that one turn with complete attention, in the spirit of seeking help, to the source of grace and inspiration, and to no one else. If it is possible to delay a bit in making one's decision until such time as consultation can be undertaken, this is better and more appropriate."

And from http://bahai-library.com/compilations/consultation.html :
34. In your last question, concerning cases when those needed for consultation are not available and a person is uncertain on the course to be followed in an important matter, you ask whether it is permissible for him to resort to the practice of "istikhárih"* using the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The Guardian has stated that in such cases what is necessary and essential is for the person to turn his heart wholly to God and to beseech aid from the Source of Grace and inspiration and nothing else. If it is possible to postpone the decision it would be preferable and more proper to do so, until the means for consultation are made available.

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 23 April 1941 to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

* This is a process of divination, such as is done through bibliomancy, when a Holy Book is opened at random and guidance is sought for one's problem by reading passages of the Book on the opened page.

However, I think it would be a stretch to say that we can never open up a Holy Book at a random page and pick a random word, for the sake of curiousity or for selecting a random topic for study -- I don't think that would necessarily be considered "soothsaying".

janine

divination

Postby janine » Thu Oct 07, 2004 6:04 pm

Dear Brett,

It looks like you saw my post as a criticism of your post. I am sorry, I did not mean it that way.

I think it is important, very important to listen to the guidance. That is what I was trying to say, the guidance given by the Central Figures of the faith.

what I was trying to express is that we know where the goal is. We should focus on the goal. If however, we force ourselves beyond what is yet our capacity, we can get the spiritual equivalent of a strained musle. Abdu'l Baha said on many an occasion: step by step, day by day, and that is what I was trying to express as well.

For example: i have real difficulty fasting and real difficulty doing my obligatory prayer every day. I know why that is... ;o) and after having forced myself and almost turned away from the Bahai faith because I felt such pressure (which I put on myself) I have learned to understand that in this respect I am like a very small child and need to guide myself step by step. I do not give up on fasting, I try and try to focus, because I believe that putting in effort is the only thing we can give to God. Results are secondary.... I have no problem in reading the writings for example, but that does not require any effort on my part, that comes so naturally. Somehow I think that me striving to fast and failing mostly before the sun has set, has more value in God's eyes than me picking up a bahai book and reading. Because in the first instance I make an effort to overcome my lower self, even though I may fail, and in the last I do something which does not require any relinquishing of my lower self.

much love,

janine


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