Praying to God?

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SpiritualSeeker
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Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sun Apr 26, 2009 3:41 pm

In the Bahai faith you can directly pray to God without an intercessor correct? I understand that bahais allow one to pray to abdul baha or bahaullah or even the bab as long as they dont confused their station with the station of godhood. However, can we just supplicate God directly in all our prayers?
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

coatofmanycolours
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby coatofmanycolours » Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:20 pm

"However, can we just supplicate God directly in all our prayers?"

Seeker; What is God? To what are you directing your prayers?

-Peter

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sun Apr 26, 2009 4:50 pm

Bahais believe in a Creator whom they consider to be an unknowable essence.
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

SpiritualSeeker
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:07 pm

I dont really pray to a God anymore, but I am curious to the answer to me question.
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

onepence~2
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby onepence~2 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:30 pm

The Importance of Prayer, Meditation,
and the Devotional Attitude

http://bahai-library.com/compilations/p ... ation.html

Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:

You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Baha'u'llah: it all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Baha'u'llah.

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby coatofmanycolours » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:45 pm

Ok. I will try. How can I turn to God? A perplexing question.

I can send a letter to my mom because I have gradually come to know her.
I can know her because she is human, like me.

God is not human. God is not created. God is independent of all types of causes.
In all these respects, God is very different from me.
How can I know the Uncreated?

Short answer:
I cannot. Certainly I cannot know God directly.

So, what if I conjure up an image in my mind, perhaps from things I have read or been taught?
Shall I then worship this image? I don't think so. Simply put: I am the maker of this image.
It is my humble creation. What I create is smaller than I am. If I presume to call it 'God', then
I must know that such a God is smaller and less powerful than I am, because I am the creator of this image.

What does this leave me?

Briefly, I can turn to the Manifestation of the names and attributes of God. I can recognize these
names and attributes to a finite degree. I can acknowledge that the actions and words of the
Manifestation are abundant proof of His supreme qualities. I understand that I can reflect these
qualities but only by turning to the light of the Manifestation. He is the dawning-place of that light.
I turn towards that dawning Sun and am warmed by His powerful rays. There is no one and nothing
higher than this that I can recognize.

No longer do I turn to the product of my own imagination. I now turn to the Manifestation -the Mirror
in which the light of God is plainly manifested. This is my Qiblih. It is the place I turn in order to remember God.

-Peter

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:52 pm

Thank you both for the responses.

I am a bit saddened though. It is odd that since we say that God is the unknowable essence then we should just pray to Baha'ullah since he is a manifestation/messenger of God. This is odd. Its almost as if we have no personal relationship with God. Instead we have to turn to Muhammad, christ, buddha, or Baha'ullah in order to pray. I find this quite contrary to what I thought the Bahai faith was calling to. This places some set backs in my mode of thinking.

best regards
-juan
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

BruceDLimber
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby BruceDLimber » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:15 pm

Greetings!

SpiritualSeeker wrote:It's almost as if we have no personal relationship with God. Instead we have to turn to Muhammad, christ, buddha, or Baha'ullah in order to pray.


Sorry: this is simply wrong!

We do NOT "have to" pray to or via any Divine Messenger.

We're perfectly free to pray to God directly, and anyone who tells you otherwise doesn't understand the Baha'i teachings.

Peace, :-)

Bruce

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby Highmountain » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:32 pm

When I pray, it's almost always to God. I may pray to Baha'u'llah if I'm thinking about him and the trials he suffered or what not. There's nothing in the writings of any sort that says we MUST pray THROUGH Baha'u'llah to get to God. Hope this helps.

HM

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Sun Apr 26, 2009 8:08 pm

Bruce and High,

Thank you that is comforting. What I dont understand is it seems like a lot of times some bahais are unclear. Like iw as getting confused reading a part in Baha'ullah and the new era and it talked about using manifestation perhaps i misunderstand this is the passage

Necessity for a Mediator.

According to 'Abdul Baha:

"A mediator is necessary between man and the Creator-one who receives the full light of the divine Splendor and radiates it over the human world, as the earth's atmosphere receives and diffuses the warmth of the sun's rays.-Divine Philosophy

If we wish to pray, we must have some object on which to concentrate. If we turn to God, we must direct our hearts to a certain center. If man worships God otherwise than through His manifestation, he must first form a conception of God, and that conception is created by his own mind. As the finite cannot comprehend in this fashion. That which man comprehends is not God. That conception of God which a man forms for himself is but a phantasm an image , an imagination, an illusion. There is no connection between such a conception inthe Supreme being.

If a man wishes to Know God, he must find him in the perfect mirror, christ or baha'ullah. In either of these mirrors he will see reflected the Sun of divinity.

As we know the physical sun by its spledor, by its light and heart, so we know God, the spiritual sun, when he shines forth from the temple of manifestation, by his attributes of perfection, by the beauty of His qualities and by the splendor of his Ligh (from a talk to Mr. Percy Woodcock, at 'Akka, 1909)

Again He says:

Unless the holy spirit becomes intermediary, one cannot attain directly to the bounties of God. do not overlook the obvious truth, for it is self-evident that a child cannot be instructed without a teacher, and knowledge is one of the bounties of God. The soil is not covered with grass and vegetation without the rain of the cloud; therefore the cloud is the intermediary between the divine bounties and the soil...The light hath a center and if one desire to seek it otherwise than from the center, one can never attain to it... Turn thine attention to the days of Christ; some people imagined that without the Messianic outpourings it was possible to attain to truth, but this very imagination became the cause of their deprivation.-Tablets of 'Abdul-Baha, vol. iii, pp. 591,592.

A man who tries to worship God without turning to His Manifestation is like a man in a dungeon trying through his imagination to revel in the glories of the sunshine.


The words that I made bold are the ones I have most problems accepting. This passage when i read it and reread it seems to indicate we turn through these intermediaries. What i originally thought was maybe it means to see God through their teachings. But reading again and again it seems to indicate we turn to the intermediary in prayers. Otherwise its the "fear" of worshipping our imaginations or some comprehension that is unbefitting of God. I still dont find this justifiable to use the intermediary instead of praying to god. Shia Muslims believe God is the Unknowable essence yet they call upon him. Yes they may use intermediaries but they do in their daily prayers turn directly and only to God in their worship. They dont form an image of him (in Shia creed God is above time, space, and form) yet they still pray directly to him. They dont need to conjure up some image.

am I misunderstanding these passageS?
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby brettz9 » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:18 pm

Hello Juan and all,

The training institutes which are now going on in the Baha'i world were to cover the "fundamental verities" of the Faith. While we are told there is no absolute list of these, in one place our Writings indicate that these could be summarized as the Unity of God, the Unity of His Prophets, and the Unity of mankind. As to the Unity of God, there are, among others, the following implications, http://bahai9.com/wiki/Implications_of_ ... ess_of_God .

I mention this because I think beyond giving a quick overview of some of the implications of this fundamental (though inadequately understood or appreciated) concept, there are a few quotes on how we may perceive the signs of God within all created things, including nature, other people and ourselves. It is simply that we cannot find absolute perfection say by merely meditating, serving, etc., or even adequately appreciate these signs of God, without being educated, the imperfect beings that we are, in the teachings of the latest Manifestation of God. For example, while I might be tempted to render a material service for the poor, and that would be praiseworthy, if I hadn't been educated in the latest teachings of Baha'u'llah, about the need for a world government, profit-sharing, a world language, moral conduct, etc., I might not appreciate how the poor are often left in their condition because of failure to address these deeper signs of a lack of complete world unity, and failing to take action in that area as well, might limit my effectiveness in the service I've attempted. If I were tempted to worship a stone for its remarkable qualities (even while contemplation of God's wonders is well worth doing), I would be needlessly lowering myself and failing to appreciate my own station relative to it.

So, we're not saying that God does not express His attributes through all things--quite the opposite. We might also remember that the Manifestation is not being prayed through as a physical intermediary, but as a great Spirit reflecting God's qualities and in recognition of Their role in our development today. However, the fact that Baha'u'llah has stated, for example, that He does not wish us to be deprived of the majesty of kingship, might perhaps also indicate that God does not wish us to be deprived of the touching and personal stories of the Manifestation of God as an individual either.

The fact that God gives us a Messenger should indicate that He is a personal God, concerned and well aware of His creation, even while we are told not to anthropomorphize Him.

"What is meant by a personal God is a God Who is conscious of His creation, Who has a Mind, a Will, a Purpose, and not, as many scientists and materialists believe, an unconscious and determined force operating in the universe. Such conception of the Diving Being, as the Supreme and ever present Reality in the world, is not anthropomorphic, for it transcends all human limitations and forms, and does by no means attempt to define the essence of Divinity which is obviously beyond any human comprehension. To say that God is a personal Reality does not mean that He has a physical form, or does in any way resemble a human being. To entertain such belief would be sheer blasphemy."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, April 21, 1939 at 1574)


In response to your latest comments I see were made just now, I think the point about having an intermediary is more in the context of recognizing the importance of His station in recognizing God

"If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 31, 1949)


We have an Intermediary in the sense of recognizing God's latest Messenger for us, but it does not mean we are just thinking of Them as a mere personality. Far from it...

best wishes,
Brett

coatofmanycolours
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby coatofmanycolours » Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:46 pm

Consider that none of us comprehends his own soul, which is as the sun dawning
on the earth of our thoughts. How is it then that a human being, who is but dimly
aware of his own soul, can yet claim to know the Cause and Creator of an infinite
universe? What shape, or lack of shape, does this knowledge have that people
should be so attached to it, even to the point of preferring it above the Manifestations
of the will, wisdom and love of God?

-Peter

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby Highmountain » Mon Apr 27, 2009 2:05 am

I'll give this a shot, my opinion only.

SpiritualSeeker wrote:A mediator is necessary between man and the Creator-


How can our minds quantify the infinite? I don't think God is some wizened old man in space who wears sandals and a robe. God truly is the Unknowable Essence. As man is the "Supreme Talisman", what better form or vehicle for God to send to us as a messenger than another human? Something we can relate to. A perfect Soul reflecting the Holy Spirit. That's what I get from it.

SpiritualSeeker wrote:If we wish to pray, we must have some object on which to concentrate. If we turn to God, we must direct our hearts to a certain center. If man worships God otherwise than through His manifestation...


See my earlier post in this thread. When I do pray directly to Baha'u'llah (rarely), my mind flashes over many things regarding him. I think of His suffering, His words, His actions and sacrifices and it always comes back to God in a roundabout way. Perhaps I'm way off on this, perhaps I should do this more often, who can say?

SpiritualSeeker wrote:If a man wishes to Know God, he must find him in the perfect mirror, christ or baha'ullah. In either of these mirrors he will see reflected the Sun of divinity.


The Son of God and The Seal of the Prophets (who is also the return of Jesus). Could it have something to do with the potency of each dispensation? The other manifestations are considered perfect mirrors too. Maybe it was more context oriented (ie: Perhaps Mr. Woodcock was posing questions from Christian seekers in the west to 'Abdul Baha?). I'm just not sure.

SpiritualSeeker wrote:Unless the holy spirit becomes intermediary, one cannot attain directly to the bounties of God.


Seeing as how the manifestations are the sole means of reflecting the Holy Spirit, that to me would be the means of accessing the bounties of God. Take the writings for example, talk about a bounty of God.

SpiritualSeeker wrote:A man who tries to worship God without turning to His Manifestation is like a man in a dungeon trying through his imagination to revel in the glories of the sunshine.


My own summary of this quote: The Bahai' dispensation came from God through Baha'u'llah. The laws, prayers, other writings, His own descendants who continued the progression of the Faith, all came from Him which ultimately came from God. I think the analogy in the passage is asking for an awareness of the Manifestation and the God given works that poured from him. Not necessarily giving a message to Baha'u'llah to pass on to God when he has a moment to spare.

So that's it, hope it helped. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Faith that I love is the promotion of an independent investigation of the truth.
Good luck in your search.

Peace,
HM

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:16 am

Thank you for the responses.

But can we please be clear. It still seems so vaguely explained. So if i became Bahai and when I do my obligatory prayers I can pray directly to the Unknowable essence?

Let me ask do you all pray directly to God in your obligatory prayers? Howoften do you all turn to the manifestations?
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh

brettz9
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Re: Praying to God?

Postby brettz9 » Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:57 am

Hello,

Yes, you can pray directly to the Unknowable Essence:

"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: It all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh.

"Under no circumstances, however, can we, while repeating the prayers, insert the name Bahá'u'lláh where the word 'God' is used. This would be tantamount to a blasphemy."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, October 14, 1937)


"...we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian--we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance, you can ask Bahá'u'lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 24, 1946)



"We pray to God, or to Bahá'u'lláh, as we please. But if in our thoughts we desire to turn to the Guardian first and then address our prayer, there is no objection, as long as we always bear in mind he is only the Guardian, and do not confuse his station with that of the Prophet or even of the Master."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 22, 1947)


best wishes,
Brett

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Re: Praying to God?

Postby SpiritualSeeker » Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:12 am

brettz9 You are the man!

Thank you for that. It clears up my misconception
Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.Thich Nhat Hanh


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