Are baha'is against individuality and freedom of thought?

All research or scholarship questions
Zazaban
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Are baha'is against individuality and freedom of thought?

Postby Zazaban » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:23 pm

I'm starting to get that idea.. could someone clairify on this?

onepence
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Postby onepence » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:47 pm

Individual Rights and Freedoms:
A Statement of the Universal House of Justice

http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/irf.html

" ... an act constituting the highest expression of the free will ... "

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

oneness
dh

onepence
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Postby onepence » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:51 pm

http://www.bahai.org/article-1-7-3-1.html

"No aspect of contemporary civilization is more directly challenged by Bahá'u'lláh's conception of the future than is the prevailing cult of individualism, which has spread to most parts of the world. Nurtured by such cultural forces as political ideology, academic elitism, and a consumer economy, the "pursuit of happiness" has given rise to an aggressive and almost boundless sense of personal entitlement. The moral consequences have been corrosive for the individual and society alike--and devastating in terms of disease, drug addiction and other all-too-familiar blights of century's end. The task of freeing humanity from an error so fundamental and pervasive will call into question some of the twentieth century's most deeply entrenched assumptions about right and wrong."

Zazaban
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Postby Zazaban » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:53 pm

What I mean, does baha'i belive mankind should be without free will and just become drones with no mind of thier own?

onepence
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Postby onepence » Tue Jun 20, 2006 2:07 pm

Zazaban wrote:What I mean, does baha'i belive mankind should be without free will and just become drones with no mind of thier own?


speaking for myself, and myself only,
i love and adore my soul body mind
in its' infinite capacities to chose, freely,
at every moment in every situation
to worship God

that is the ultimate freedom
to worship God

other's can pretend that not worshipping God is freedom
lol as they become addicted to and/or by their own "free will"
to such an extent that no human intervention will ever allow them to
"see God with their own eyes or hear God with their own ears"
such is their fate

personally i "freely"chose to worship God
and i "freely" admit i am a pretty pitiyful worshiper of God
lol but at least

i am free

oneness
the apostle dean

Tahirih99
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Damaging excuses

Postby Tahirih99 » Fri Jun 30, 2006 9:49 pm

God has given mankind free-will and advised one to search for the truth independently. He told mankind to subdue to his Manifestation(s), listen to His Guidance and abide to His Laws. He told us to recite prayers and holy writings morning and evening, (and to pray before making any decision.) He told us to love, respect and obey His Devine Institutions.

These Spiritual Assemblies are aided by the Spirit of God. Their defender is 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Over them He spreadeth His Wings. What bounty is there greater than this? ('Abdu'l-Bahá, cited in Shoghi Effendi, "God Passes By"; rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 332)

Thus, when one challenges His Devine institutions, he challenges God.

The most burning fire is to question the signs of God, to dispute idly that which He hath revealed, to deny Him and carry one's self proudly before Him. (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 155)


Free-will, (in one's earthly own definition) is not an excuse to carry one's self proudly before God. This burning fire, firstly, will cause damage to your own soul, before it hurts other's. May God forgive you.

jdesson
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Postby jdesson » Tue Jul 04, 2006 11:17 pm

Zazaban wrote:What I mean, does baha'i belive mankind should be without free will and just become drones with no mind of thier own?

Your initial question, regarding individuality and freedom of thought, touches on an important spiritual principle that only a soul, that has freely chosen with a pure heart God’s path for humanity, will grow spiritually in love of God- its ultimate purpose- and attain true happiness.. This also suggests that a person’s free will is to choose which self will dominate its growth- the lower physical nature or the spiritual nature; this not to suggest that our physical self is not good or important. Our bodies, our physical selves, are designed to demand that its needs are catered to as it should be; nevertheless, our purpose in life is to develop spiritual qualities and this will never happen if we do not train our physical self to adhere to the discipline of our spiritual self while meetings the needs and enjoyment of our physical self.

The other curious difference compared to contemporary views, that onepence referred to earlier, is that an individual’s purpose in life is not to serve one’s own self interests but to serve the common good, in other words, to try to improve the lot of society and humanity collectively. The curious part is that both the individual and society (and collective humanity) are both best served when the individual, in serving the common good, has the “absolute right” of self expression and self initiative. Thus there is an interdependence between the needs of the common good and the freedom of individual self expression and self initiative. Perhaps these two rights of the individual are related, this is the right to chose one’s path to God or not and the rights of self initiative and self expression.

Jim Desson
Jim Desson

Sean H.
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role of individualism in social evolution, modernism

Postby Sean H. » Mon Aug 14, 2006 4:17 pm

Pre-modern religious traditions are usually conformist, depend on a set of "universal archetypes" (metaphysics), and so forth. Much of Baha'i scripture uses the traditional context of "sufi" metaphysics and other similar forms of Islamic "esotericism".

One of the characteristics of the "conditions of modernity" is the evolutionary emergence of "individualism" in human consciousness and culture.

The emergence of individualism is definitely part of a complex of "memes" that make up the "modernist" paradigm. Modernism seeks to destroy pre-modern "spiritual" archetypes and where ever possible, replace them with "science" and "rationalism".

Without "individualism", the "modern world" would not exist. The tradition of open intellectual inquiry that western culture is based on would not exist, there would be no democracy, religious elites and aristocracies would control economic development, there probably would not be any kind of women's rights, slavery would not have been abolished, the major advances in science, technology, medicine would not have occurred, there would be no internet, mankind would not have gone to the moon, etc.

In other words, we would still be living in a medieval world, or at least one of post-medieval colonial empires.

So, pre-modern religion is seen by "modernism" as being "contrary to social progress", as is aristocracy, feudal economics and social organization, and all other forms/elements of "traditional authority".

As the Baha'i writings state quite well (paraphrasing), modernism tends to throw the baby (spirituality) out with the bathwater (traditional authority and religion).

So, in modernist paradigms, "individualism" is equated with "social progress" (in contrast with traditional beliefs, which are "backward" and "conformist").

The question is, how to restore spirituality without bringing back the harmful forms of conformist (anti-individualistic) religious culture that are characteristic of pre-modern culture?

In other words, how to make spirituality NOT look like it is part of a paradigm that is "opposed" to good forms of individualism and "social progress"?

Regards,
Eric

- - -

http://www.satori-5.co.uk/downloads/dlf_159.doc

Ken Wilber Summary of Spiral Dynamics model

KW: In Integral Psychology I present charts that summarize over 100 developmental psychologists, East and West, ancient and modern and postmodern. Spiral Dynamics is only one of the 100, but I have recently been using it quite a bit because it is simple and fairly easy to learn, even for beginners. Based on extensive research begun by Clare Graves, Spiral Dynamics (developed by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan) sees human beings evolving or developing through eight major waves of consciousness. For convenience, I will reprint my brief summary of these from A Theory of Everything.

SPIRAL DYNAMICS AND THE WAVES OF EXISTENCE

The first six levels are "subsistence levels" marked by "first-tier thinking." Then there occurs a revolutionary shift in consciousness: the emergence of "being levels" and "second-tier thinking," of which there are two major waves. Here is a brief description of all eight waves, the percentage of the world population at each wave, and the percentage of social power held by each.

1. Beige: Archaic-Instinctual . The level of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. Uses habits and instincts just to survive. Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life.

Where seen: First human societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, late-stage Alzheimer's victims, mentally ill street people, starving masses, shell shock. Approximately 0.1% of the adult population, 0% power.

2. Purple: Magical-Animistic . Thinking is animistic; magical spirits, good and bad, swarm the earth leaving blessings, curses, and spells which determine events. Forms into ethnic tribes . The spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Kinship and lineage establish political links. Sounds "holistic" but is actually atomistic: "there is a name for each bend in the river but no name for the river."

Where seen: Belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, ancient grudges, good luck charms, family rituals, magical ethnic beliefs and superstitions; strong in Third-World settings, gangs, athletic teams, and corporate "tribes." 10% of the population, 1% of the power.

3. Red: Power Gods . First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe; powerful, impulsive, egocentric, heroic. Magical-mythic spirits, dragons, beasts, and powerful people. Archetypal gods and goddesses, powerful beings, forces to be reckoned with, both good and bad. Feudal lords protect underlings in exchange for obedience and labor. The basis of feudal empires --power and glory. The world is a jungle full of threats and predators. Conquers, out-foxes, and dominates; enjoys self to the fullest without regret or remorse; be here now.

Where seen: The "terrible twos," rebellious youth, frontier mentalities, feudal kingdoms, epic heroes, James Bond villains, gang leaders, soldiers of fortune, New-Age narcissism, wild rock stars, Atilla the Hun, Lord of the Flies . 20% of the population, 5% of the power.

4. Blue: Mythic Order . Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of "right" and "wrong." Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Basis of ancient nations . Rigid social hierarchies; paternalistic; one right way and only one right way to think about everything. Law and order; impulsivity controlled through guilt; concrete-literal and fundamentalist belief; obedience to the rule of Order; strongly conventional and conformist. Often "religious" or "mythic" [in the mythic-membership sense; Graves and Beck refer to it as the "saintly/absolutistic" level], but can be secular or atheistic Order or Mission.

Where seen: Puritan America, Confucian China, Dickensian England, Singapore discipline, totalitarianism, codes of chivalry and honor, charitable good deeds, religious fundamentalism (e.g., Christian and Islamic), Boy and Girl Scouts, "moral majority," patriotism. 40% of the population, 30% of the power.

5. Orange: Scientific Achievement .

[***] At this wave, the self "escapes" from the
[***] "herd mentality" of blue, and seeks truth
[***] and meaning in individualistic terms--

hypothetico-deductive, experimental, objective, mechanistic, operational--"scientific" in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one's own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events.

[***] The world is a chess-board on which games
[***] are played as winners gain pre-eminence
[***] and perks over losers.

Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth's resources for one's strategic gains. Basis of corporate states .

Where seen: The Enlightenment, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged , Wall Street, emerging middle classes around the world, cosmetics industry, trophy hunting, colonialism, the Cold War, fashion industry, materialism, secular humanism, liberal self-interest. 30% of the population, 50% of the power.

6. Green: The Sensitive Self . Communitarian, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, networking. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, Gaia, life. Against hierarchy; establishes lateral bonding and linking. Permeable self, relational self, group intermeshing. Emphasis on dialogue, relationships. Basis of value communities (i.e., freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments). Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus (downside: interminable "processing" and incapacity to reach decisions). Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, relativistic value systems; this worldview is often called pluralistic relativism . Subjective, nonlinear thinking; shows a greater degree of affective warmth, sensitivity, and caring, for earth and all its inhabitants.

Where seen: Deep ecology, postmodernism, Netherlands idealism, Rogerian counseling, Canadian health care, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, cooperative inquiry, World Council of Churches, Greenpeace, animal rights, ecofeminism, post-colonialism, Foucault/Derrida, politically correct, diversity movements, human rights issues, ecopsychology. 10% of the population, 15% of the power. [Note: this is 10% of the world population. Don Beck estimates that around 20-25% of the American population is green.]

[- - -]

With the completion of the green meme, human consciousness is poised for a quantum jump into "second-tier thinking." Clare Graves referred to this as a "momentous leap," where "a chasm of unbelievable depth of meaning is crossed." In essence, with second-tier consciousness, one can think both vertically and horizontally, using both hierarchies and heterarchies (both ranking and linking). One can therefore, for the first time, vividly grasp the entire spectrum of interior development , and thus see that each level, each meme, each wave is crucially important for the health of the overall Spiral.

As I would word it, each wave is "transcend and include." That is, each wave goes beyond (or transcends) its predecessor, and yet it includes or embraces it in its own makeup. For example, a cell transcends but includes molecules, which transcend but include atoms. To say that a molecule goes beyond an atom is not to say that molecules hate atoms, but that they love them: they embrace them in their own makeup; they include them, they don't marginalize them. Just so, each wave of existence is a fundamental ingredient of all subsequent waves, and thus each is to be cherished and embraced.

Moreover, each wave can itself be activated or reactivated as life circumstances warrant. In emergency situations, we can activate red power drives; in response to chaos, we might need to activate blue order; in looking for a new job, we might need orange achievement drives; in marriage and with friends, close green bonding. All of these memes have something important to contribute.

[***] But what none of the first-tier memes can
[***] do, on their own, is fully appreciate the
[***] existence of the other memes.

Each of the first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened. Blue order is very uncomfortable with both red impulsiveness and orange individualism.

[***] Orange individualism thinks blue order
[***] is for suckers and green egalitarianism
[***] is weak and woo-woo.

Green egalitarianism cannot easily abide excellence and value rankings, big pictures, hierarchies, or anything that appears authoritarian, and thus green reacts strongly to blue, orange, and anything post-green.

[- - -]

All of that begins to change with second-tier thinking. Because second-tier consciousness is fully aware of the interior stages of development--even if it cannot articulate them in a technical fashion--it steps back and grasps the big picture, and thus second-tier thinking appreciates the necessary role that all of the various memes play . Second-tier awareness thinks in terms of the overall spiral of existence, and not merely in the terms of any one level.

Where the green meme begins to grasp the numerous different systems and pluralistic contexts that exist in different cultures (which is why it is indeed the sensitive self, i.e., sensitive to the marginalization of others), second-tier thinking goes one step further. It looks for the rich contexts that link and join these pluralistic systems, and thus it takes these separate systems and begins to embrace, include, and integrate them into holistic spirals and integral meshworks. Second-tier thinking, in other words, is instrumental in moving from relativism to holism, or from pluralism to integralism .

[- - -]

The extensive research of Graves, Beck, and Cowan indicates that there are at least two major waves to this second-tier integral consciousness:

7. Yellow: Integrative . Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies [holarchies], systems, and forms. Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. Differences and pluralities can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows. Egalitarianism is complemented with natural degrees of ranking and excellence. Knowledge and competency should supersede power, status, or group sensitivity. The prevailing world order is the result of the existence of different levels of reality (memes) and the inevitable patterns of movement up and down the dynamic spiral. Good governance facilitates the emergence of entities through the levels of increasing complexity (nested hierarchy). 1% of the population, 5% of the power.

8. Turquoise: Holistic . Universal holistic system, holons/waves of integrative energies; unites feeling with knowledge; multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Universal order, but in a living, conscious fashion, not based on external rules (blue) or group bonds (green). A "grand unification" [a "theory of everything" or T.O.E.] is possible, in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power.

With less than 2 percent of the population at second-tier thinking (and only 0.1 percent at turquoise), second-tier consciousness is relatively rare because it is now the "leading-edge" of collective human evolution. As examples, Beck and Cowan mention items that include Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere, chaos and complexity theories, universal systems thinking, integral-holistic theories, Gandhi's and Mandela's pluralistic integration, with increases in frequency definitely on the way, and even higher memes still in the offing....

---end excerpt---

Dorumerosaer
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Postby Dorumerosaer » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:14 am

Every organization -- and religious organizations are no exception -- has its people who do not like authority. When the authority exercises itself, these people raise a hue and cry, claiming that the authority has overstepped its bounds. Mirza Muhammad-`Ali accused even `Abdu'l-Baha of this. As the Master wrote:

"Now he would cry out that God's edifice had been subverted and His divine commands annulled, and that accordingly, the Covenant and Testament was abolished. Again he would set himself to sighing and groaning that he was being held a prisoner and was kept hungry and thirsty day and night. Another day he would raise an uproar, saying that the oneness of God had been denied, since another Manifestation had been proclaimed, prior to the expiration of a thousand years." (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 217)

These accusations are groundless. My observation is that likewise, when people confront the power of the Covenant, and the House of Justice exercises its authority for the safekeeping of the friends, the people who want to be an authority unto themselves react. They pull out all of their weapons, accusing the Baha'i institutions of being thought police. This is an image designed to have maximum impact on people raised in the West, where the individual is the ultimate safeguard of the democracy.

I think the answer to your question, does the Baha'i Faith lead to a community of drones, is to look to the persons of Baha'u'llah, the Master, the Guardian, the Greatest Holy Leaf, Ruhiyyih Khanum and the other Hands of the Cause. Look at them in Baha'i literature; perhaps you were fortunate enough to have met some of the Hands when they still were alive. These were well-developed people; intuitive, extremely open, alert, with a sense of spontaneity; people of true spirituality and heart; people through whom grace flowed. My experience is that meeting members of the House of Justice and of the International Teaching Center is that they are extremely keen-minded people of real spirituality.

The accusation that the nature of the Cause is that it deprives people of their individuality is bogus. Truly following the Baha'i teachings results in just the opposite.

"The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye." (Baha'u'llah, Words of Wisdom, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 156)

Brent

Sean H.
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Postby Sean H. » Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:47 am

pilgrimbrent wrote:Every organization -- and religious organizations are no exception -- has its people who do not like authority.


Correct, and frequently for good reason.

On the other hand, some forms of anti-authoritarianism are highly dysfunctional, if not pathological.

What is required is a context in which to see which is which.


pilgrimbrent wrote:When the authority exercises itself, these people raise a hue and cry, claiming that the authority has overstepped its bounds.


In some cases, there are valid complaints about abuses of power. for instance, John Cornell (blessings on his illumined soul which resides in the next world), one of the original supporters of this web site, told many of the younger people that he talked to about a long history of abuses that he and his family suffered in the Baha'i community going back many many decades.

In other cases, disillusionment with some dysfunctional aspect of Baha'i culture or community life leads people to be hoodwinked by anti-authoritarians (so called "dissidents") that are operating a bait-n-switch operation, offering "support" and then attempting to indoctrinate the disaffected with ideologically motivated "dissident" rhetoric.

I refer to the latter as the "Baha'i left" (a takeoff on the term "pc/left").


pilgrimbrent wrote:Mirza Muhammad-`Ali accused even `Abdu'l-Baha of this. As the Master wrote:

"Now he would cry out that God's edifice had been subverted and His divine commands annulled, and that accordingly, the Covenant and Testament was abolished. Again he would set himself to sighing and groaning that he was being held a prisoner and was kept hungry and thirsty day and night. Another day he would raise an uproar, saying that the oneness of God had been denied, since another Manifestation had been proclaimed, prior to the expiration of a thousand years." (Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Baha, p. 217)


Social scientists have studied the extent of psycopathic/sociopathic personality types, and have discovered that as much as 5% of a country's population is subject to such dysfunctional personalities (from mild to severe forms).

These people can sometimes be disciplined and shrewd (at least in a manipulative way), but are either completely or largely lacking in compassion, and are extremely self-absorbed.

Some of them have, and will come to power within the Baha'i community, and others will attack it.

Both will cuase tremendous damage to people's lives and contribute to a dehumization of Baha'i culture.


pilgrimbrent wrote:These accusations are groundless.


As far as the given evidence indicates. On a certain level, this is part of Baha'i folklore, so the details as passsed down from the original sources are probably seen through a particular "lens". I doubt that anyone ever has gathered a complete body of "objective" evidence as to everything that happened in their lives that would explain why they exhibited the alleged dysfunctional behavior.


pilgrimbrent wrote: My observation is that likewise, when people confront the power of the Covenant, and the House of Justice exercises its authority for the safekeeping of the friends, the people who want to be an authority unto themselves react. They pull out all of their weapons, accusing the Baha'i institutions of being thought police. This is an image designed to have maximum impact on people raised in the West, where the individual is the ultimate safeguard of the democracy.


I've seen that happen.

I've also seen people that have legitimate reasons for complaining about abuses of authority and "dysfunctional organizational culture" (The Baha'i community is just like any other group of people in that sense).

Most of the really harsh "anti-AO" polemics put on the web (e,g, by the "(ex/)Baha'i left" are a mix of legitimate and bogus complaints (IMO).

Separating the bogus complaints from real complaints (or teasing out the legitimate elements of a complaint from the bogus elements) requires considerable nuance.


pilgrimbrent wrote:I think the answer to your question, does the Baha'i Faith lead to a community of drones


ummm . . . that wasn't precisely the question. the question was

"Are baha'is against individuality and freedom of thought?"

The answer is: partly yes.

Some Baha'is are highly conformist, as would be expected of a religion that contains elements (validations of) the pre-modern cultural expressions (e.g., metaphysics) of religion and spirituality.

As you state below however, a mature, balanced expression of Baha'i identity balances legitimate expressions of individualism with conformism to group norms, goals, and objectives.

The real question is "is Baha'i culture predominantly conformist in general?"

I would say that it is, but it is possible for an individual's Baha'i beliefs to be considerably more non-conformist than would be characteristic for the group in general. However, many non-conformists will have difficulty if they are overly vocal (incautious) in their non-conformism.

For instance, an innovative Baha'i theologian I know was viciously attacked by organized elements of the community, but was eventually "rescued" from the persecutors through the direct intervention of the BWC.


pilgrimbrent wrote:
, is to look to the persons of Baha'u'llah, the Master, the Guardian, the Greatest Holy Leaf, Ruhiyyih Khanum and the other Hands of the Cause. Look at them in Baha'i literature; perhaps you were fortunate enough to have met some of the Hands when they still were alive. These were well-developed people; intuitive, extremely open, alert, with a sense of spontaneity; people of true spirituality and heart; people through whom grace flowed. My experience is that meeting members of the House of Justice and of the International Teaching Center is that they are extremely keen-minded people of real spirituality.

The accusation that the nature of the Cause is that it deprives people of their individuality is bogus.


Again, that "accusation" was not actually made, but I think you are correct that the Cause itself doesn't deprive people of individuality, more or less.

What *can* "deprive" people of healthy forms of individualism in some cases are conformist tendencies in Baha'i culture, where pre-modern cultural artifacts (and/or fundamentalism) are out of balance with modernist elements.


pilgrimbrent wrote:
Truly following the Baha'i teachings results in just the opposite.


Yes, well, the problem obviously occurs when people (on both "sides" of the debate) don't "truly follow" the Baha'i teachings.

Considering that the Baha'i teachings have to drag along a huge burden of pre-modern metaphysics that are going to be interpreted by "modernists" as being "backward" and "anti-individualistic", the problem isn't going to away easily, or soon.


pilgrimbrent wrote:"The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye." (Baha'u'llah, Words of Wisdom, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 156)

Brent



Of course in the real world, the overwhelming force for "social progress" has been the adoption of the "conditions of modernity" (rationalism, democracy, industrialization, capitalism, etc.).

Modernism (and post-modernism) however have also created a lot of problems (but not to the extent that the near "demonization" of modernism in Bahai' scripture/apologetics would apparently indicate).

The question is, how to develop "integrtive paradigms", as the Universal House of Justice has told Baha'i scholars, that bring spirituality and rationalism into some higher level, balanced form of cultural expression.

Regards,
Eric


additional background:

http://www.clas.ufl.edu/users/gthursby/pub/devol.htm
(broken URL)

Esoteric Anthropology: "Devolutionary" and "Evolutionary"
Orientations in Perennial Philosophy

Sheldon R. Isenberg and Gene R. Thursby

Introduction

Humanity as a whole has never been in so precarious a position. We live under daily threat from pollution, polarization, and potential global destruction. Ours is a time of extraordinary crisis. But few notice one of the deepest roots of this crisis. It is not just that "we" do not understand "them," it is also that we do not understand ourselves. There is a crisis of understanding underlying the very points of view which
we designate as "modern," for inherent to late modern thought is a radical skepticism about the possibility of understanding anything or anyone.

The modern world is a stage in a process in which humanity has, at least on the surface, eliminated the myths and metaphysics of traditional culture, and since the eighteenth century the release from the past has been made palpable in a devotion to autonomous reason and technical progress. But the unprecedented brutality of war and the unforeseen consequences of an unbridled technology have called into question the human hope to create a heaven on earth. So we find in recent patterns of thought a questioning of the optimism and the simplistic anthropologies which were characteristic of the early modern period. In the current stage of modernity we find a despair accompanying the belief that we cannot really understand what it is we might find worth saving from
this crisis --

[*] for thoroughgoing moderns there can be no
[*] clear notion about what it would mean to
[*] "save" humanity.

One consequence of this modern spiritual dead-end is a reaction which has taken the form of a flourishing anti-intellectualism manifested in superstitious techniques to ward off fears, in naive fundamentalism, and in authoritarian cults. Another consequence is increased interest in non-Western spiritual movements which, whatever their own effectiveness, typically have not yet come to terms with modernity. So

[*] neither the advocates of reactionary nativism
[*] nor those who endorse imported
[*] traditionalism have been able to offer the
[*] means of integration necessary
[*] to take us beyond the contradictions that
[*] threaten to destroy us.

However, there is a different standpoint, calling itself a "perennial philosophy," which claims to transcend the paradigm of modernity by comprehension rather than merely to oppose it. This claim must seem paradoxical or nonsensical, of course, in the context of the modern commitment to dialectic and

[*] the modern denial of transcendence.

It inevitably provokes puzzlement in moderns -- a consequence of an image of human nature and possibility which is characteristic of modernity, and which perennial philosophy sees as constricted and incomplete.

The purpose of this paper is to delineate over and against some modern images the main features of a perennial anthropology -- the human image which is an aspect of the comprehensive paradigm entailed by "perennial philosophy" -- in order to provide a basis from which

[*] to begin an intelligent consideration of the
[*] claim that the transcendent perspective
[*] of perennial philosophy offers a significant
[*] critique of modernity and vital guidance for
[*] moving beyond it.

We believe that this "perennial" perspective offers a valuable critical
tool for assessing our current situation --

[*] one that comprehends and transcends the despair of relativism, on the one hand, while

[*] preserving respect for exoteric orthodoxies and

[***] promising a freedom beyond their psychic bonds,

on the other.

The perspective we will consider has been presented in Europe most notably in the writings of Rene Guenon, Frithjof Schuon, and their associates; and in the United States by Huston Smith and more recently by Seyyed Hossein Nasr. In addition to these writers, and others who consider Guenon or Schuon their teachers, there are others who claim connection to the perennial philosophy, and who represent what we might term different recensions.

[*] Yet all of them seek to articulate a
[*] standpoint which finds its basis in
[*] unitive mysticism,

and so they affirm a convergence of perspectives among those who follow any authentic path of mystical ascent to a certain level of experience. These contemporary perennial philosophers seek to draw from a common core of knowledge which is the foundation of all of the great religious traditions. Their writing, therefore, is not so much characterized by a devotion to novelty as by repeated references to a large but nevertheless delimited set of traditional teachers, including Neo-Platonists, Hermetics, Advaita Hindus, Mahayana Buddhists, Sufi Muslims, and Christian and Jewish mystics.

Our procedure will be to begin the treatment of our topic by making some general observations about modernity as a distinctive perspective or paradigm. We will indicate some of its general features and focus on the human image integral to it. We shall then shift to the human image associated with the perennial anthropology, which is shared by two "recensions" of perennial philosophy -- the first of which is identified with those who acknowledge the influence of Guenon and Schuon. Finally, we shall distinguish between the recensions by noting the differences
in their approaches to modernity, and will conclude with a brief discussion of what differences those differences make.
. . .

---end excerpt---

(full text available upon request)

Baha'i Warrior
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Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 16, 2006 4:18 pm

Qtd. in letter from House of Justice to individual believer (09/21/97):

'Abdu'l-Baha:

    There are three types of freedom...

    ...The third freedom is that which is born of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Almighty. This is the freedom of the human world, where man severs his affections from all things. When he does so, he becomes immune to all hardship and sorrow. Wealth or material power will not deflect him from moderation and fairness, neither will poverty or need inhibit him from showing forth happiness and tranquillity. The more the conscience of man develops, the more will his heart be free and his soul attain unto happiness. In the religion of God, there is freedom of thought because God, alone, controls the human conscience, but this freedom should not go beyond courtesy. In the religion of God, there is no freedom of action outside the law of God. Man may not transgress this law, even though no harm is inflicted on one's neighbour. This is because the purpose of Divine law is the education of all -- others as well as oneself -- and, in the sight of God, the harm done to one individual or to his neighbour is the same and is reprehensible in both cases. Hearts must possess the fear of God. Man should endeavour to avoid that which is abhorrent unto God. Therefore, the freedom that the laws of Europe offer to the individual does not exist in the law of God. Freedom of thought should not transgress the bounds of courtesy, and actions, likewise, should be governed by the fear of God and the desire to seek His good pleasure.



...

Side note:

The UHJ continues later on:

"It is important for all those Bahá'ís who are engaged in the academic study of the Bahá'í Faith to address the theoretical problems which undoubtedly exist, while refusing to be distracted by insidious and unscholarly attacks and calumnies which may periodically be injected into their discussions by the ill-intentioned. Discussion with those who sincerely raise problematic issues, whether they be Bahá'ís or not, and whether—if the latter—they disagree with Bahá'í teachings, can be beneficial and enlightening. However, to continue dialogue with those who have shown a fixed antagonism to the Faith, and have demonstrated their imperviousness to any ideas other than their own, is usually fruitless and, for the Bahá'ís who take part, can be burdensome and even spiritually corrosive."

Hope that help a bit :)

Dorumerosaer
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Contact:

Postby Dorumerosaer » Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:36 pm

Eric wrote:

>>The real question is "is Baha'i culture predominantly conformist in general?" I would say that it is. . . >>

If you are talking about behavior, I agree that this needs to be guarded against. Here are a few quotes I've culled from the writings that may be of interest.
Brent


There would be no objection, however, for the friends to  come together on such happy occasions, provided they do not hold an official public ceremony, and provided also they strictly avoid uniformity and rigidity in all such practices. No rule whatsoever that would tend to be rigid and uniform should be allowed in such secondary matters, particularly as there are no specific instructions in the Teachings regarding them.
(Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui - Letters to New Zealand, p. 47)

The Guardian was very pleased to learn of the progress done by the Indian N.S.A. in its efforts to consolidate, widen and maintain the scope of its national activities. The difficulties in your way are tremendous. The differences of language and of social and intellectual background do, undoubtedly, render the work somewhat difficult to carry out and may temporarily check the efficient and smooth working of the national administrative machinery of the Faith. They, nevertheless, impart to the deliberations of the National Assembly a universality which they would be otherwise lacking, and give to its members a breadth of view which is their duty to cultivate and foster. It is not uniformity which we should seek in the formation of any national or local assembly. For the bedrock of the Bahá'í administrative order is the principle of unity in diversity, which has been so strongly and so repeatedly emphasized in the writings of the Cause. Differences which are not fundamental and contrary to the basic teachings of the Cause should be maintained, while the underlying unity of the administrative order should be at any cost preserved and insured. Unity, both of purpose and of means is, indeed, indispensable to the safe and speedy working of every Assembly, whether local or national.
(Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 48)

"We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations," He proclaims, "...that all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled."
(Baha'u'llah, quoted in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 37)

It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other.
(Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 41)

"As regards the chanting of Tablets in the Temple, Shoghi Effendi wishes in this connection to urge the friends to avoid all forms of rigidity and uniformity in matter of worship. There is no objection to the reciting or chanting of prayers in oriental languages but there is also no objection whatever of adopting such a form of prayer at any devotional service in the auditorium of the Temple. It should neither be required nor prohibited. The important thing that should always be borne in mind is that with the exception of certain specific obligatory prayers Bahá'u'lláh has given us no strict or special ruling in matters of worship whether  609  in the Temple or elsewhere. Prayer is essentially a communion between man and God and as such transcends all ritualistic forms and formulae."
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 15, 1935; Lights of Guidance, p. 608)

Uniformity in fundamentals is essential, but not in every detail. On the contrary, diversity, the solving of the local situation in the right way, is important. (From a letter dated 4 November 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
(The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 127)

Both the Bahá'í marriage service and the Bahá'í funeral service are extremely simple in character, and you must have certainly read in the "Bahá'í News" the explanation given by the Guardian on these two points. As already stated all forms of rigidity and uniformity in such matters should be avoided by the believers. What is of vital importance is to strictly observe the laws and directions specifically revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. These will be gradually brought to the attention of the friends and explained to them by the Guardian. In the mean time great care should be taken to prevent the introduction of unnecessary details and additions of a man-made nature to the body of the Teachings.
(19 May 1936 to an individual believer)
(The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 10)

Its world-unifying principles these impotent enemies of a steadily-rising Faith have time and again denounced as fundamentally defective, have pronounced its all-embracing program as utterly fantastic, and regarded its vision of the future as chimerical and positively deceitful. The fundamental verities that constitute its doctrine its foolish ill-wishers have represented as a cloak of idle dogma, its administrative machinery they have refused to differentiate from the soul of the Faith itself, and the mysteries it reveres and upholds they have identified with sheer superstition. The principle of unification which it advocates and with which it stands identified they have misconceived as a shallow attempt at uniformity . . . (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 73)

It is our hope and belief that this compilation will guide and assist you in better appreciating the manner of the presentation of the teachings of the Faith; the attitude that must govern those responsible for enrolling new believers; the need to educate the newly enrolled Bahá'ís, to deepen them in the teachings and to wean them gradually away from their old allegiances; the necessity of keeping a proper balance between expansion and consolidation; the significance of the participation of the native believers of each country in the teaching work and in the administration of the affairs of the community; the formulation of budgets within the financial capabilities of the community; the importance of fostering the spirit of self-sacrifice in the hearts of the friends; the worthy goal for each national community to become self-supporting; the preferability of individuality of expression to absolute uniformity, within the framework of the Administrative Order; and the lasting value of dedication and devotion when engaged in the teaching work.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 109)


The Guardian is very anxious that no new rules and regulations should be introduced. As far as possible each N.S.A. should decide secondary matters for itself, and not try to lay down a rule general in application.  
(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to Canada, p. 15)


While, as he himself has repeatedly stressed, a uniform procedure should be adopted and followed whereby every applicant should be required to express his whole-hearted and unconditional acceptance of the essential verities of the Cause, great care should also be taken not to insist on matters of a secondary importance which the newcomer cannot, for obvious reasons, fully grasp and apprehend at the beginning. Once the applicant has been admitted in the Community with a clear understanding of the duties and responsibilities, and essential implications which such membership entails, there would be no difficulty for him in gradually adjusting his whole ideas according to the requirements set forth in the Teachings.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 8)

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

proposed intelligent debate questions

Postby Sean H. » Wed Aug 16, 2006 6:57 pm

Baha'i Warrior wrote:Qtd. in letter from House of Justice to individual believer (09/21/97):

'Abdu'l-Baha:

    There are three types of freedom...

    ...The third freedom is that which is born of obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Almighty. This is the freedom of the human world, where man severs his affections from all things. When he does so, he becomes immune to all hardship and sorrow. Wealth or material power will not deflect him from moderation and fairness, neither will poverty or need inhibit him from showing forth happiness and tranquillity. The more the conscience of man develops, the more will his heart be free and his soul attain unto happiness. In the religion of God, there is freedom of thought because God, alone, controls the human conscience, but this freedom should not go beyond courtesy. In the religion of God, there is no freedom of action outside the law of God. Man may not transgress this law, even though no harm is inflicted on one's neighbour. This is because the purpose of Divine law is the education of all -- others as well as oneself -- and, in the sight of God, the harm done to one individual or to his neighbour is the same and is reprehensible in both cases. Hearts must possess the fear of God. Man should endeavour to avoid that which is abhorrent unto God. Therefore, the freedom that the laws of Europe offer to the individual does not exist in the law of God. Freedom of thought should not transgress the bounds of courtesy, and actions, likewise, should be governed by the fear of God and the desire to seek His good pleasure.


...

Side note:

The UHJ continues later on:

"It is important for all those Bahá'ís who are engaged in the academic study of the Bahá'í Faith to address the theoretical problems which undoubtedly exist, while refusing to be distracted by insidious and unscholarly attacks and calumnies which may periodically be injected into their discussions by the ill-intentioned. Discussion with those who sincerely raise problematic issues, whether they be Bahá'ís or not, and whether—if the latter—they disagree with Bahá'í teachings, can be beneficial and enlightening. However, to continue dialogue with those who have shown a fixed antagonism to the Faith, and have demonstrated their imperviousness to any ideas other than their own, is usually fruitless and, for the Bahá'ís who take part, can be burdensome and even spiritually corrosive."

Hope that help a bit :)


Not really.

Using out-of-context quotes isn't going to impress anyone that actually understands religious studies or human nature at a mature, experienced level.

There are, unfortunately and tragically, far more people within Baha'i culture that have an "imperviousness to any ideas other than their own" than there are critics who have such. That is the basic problem that I think the original question was probably inspired by.

My experience, and the experience of a lot of people I've known in 30+ years of involvement with the Baha'i community, indicates that continued dialogue with anyone, Baha'i or not, that is extremely narrow-minded is tedious, fruitless, burdensome, and just plain pointless and futile in general.

My experience is that there are a lot of reactionaries in the Baha'i community, usually people with authoritarian tendencies, and/or fundamentalist tendencies. Their first line of defense is to threaten and intimidate any non-conformist or critic.

Anyways, questions about individualism and conformism are legitimate questions for non-Baha'i scholars, and they have come under the study by such. You probably whould "get used to it", and develop a more sophisticated response that actually reflects some mininmal level of sensitivity to the actual concerns of non-conformists and critics.

What you have failed to do (again) is to address specific points.

You have also conflated the Baha'i Faith with Baha'i Administration with Baha'i culture, and may not even understand how to make the necessary distinctions to follow the discussion.

Those letters were written about specific attacks by "dissident" intellectuals (what I call the "(ex/)Baha'i left), they were not, as far as I know, meant to be used as a rhetorical weapon to impugn any critic of the dysfunctional aspects of Baha'i culture/behavior, or to batter anyone into submission that dares to say that Baha'i institutions are "not always perfect" or who says that that those institutions sometimes go out of control and cause/allow abuses of authority.

Anyways.... here are the points:

Is Baha'i culture conformist (anti-individualist)?

If so, to what extent? Also, if so, to what extent is such conformism a cultural artifact vs. to what extent is it a function of core beliefs?

Have specific individuals that are theological/intellectual innovators and non-conformists been persecuted in the Baha'i community (by either individuals or organized elements)? If so, what was the role of those that abused power and authority within the Baha'i community?

What role does individualism play in the paradigm of modernity (along with rationalism, democracy, industrialization, capitalism, and other main characteristics of modernist "western" culture)?

How does the Baha'i Faith address the historical imbalances ("hostility to spirituality") that exist in the paradigm of modernity?

Compare/contrast the attitude toward "individualism" that is characteristic of "integrative paradigms" (an evolutionary/development perspective) with the attitude in the Baha'i Faith.

Specifically, is there anything positive in an socio-evolutionary context about the form of individualism that has come about as a result of the paradigm of modernity? If so, how can those positive aspects of "modernist" individualism be reconciled with anti-individualistic tendencies either in Baha'i culture, or in the Baha'i teachings themselves (if at all)?

Do the Baha'i teachings "demonize" other elements of the paradigm of modernity (e.g., "materialism")? If so, what elements of modernity are demonized? Why are those elements of modernity considered "evil" in the Baha'i teachings? Also, if so, are there other belief systems or ideologies or paradigms that are critical of, or "demonize" individualism in a similar way? If so, what are the similarities and differences (if any) between those belief systems/ideologies/paradigms and the Baha'i Faith?

Setting aside the criticism of "individualism" that exists in the Baha'i Faith and other "eastern" (pre-modern) cultures/belief systems/paradigms, is there any kind of consensus in "western" (modernist) culture about what is either good, or bad, about "individualism" (and related memes)?

What do people that have adopted "integrative paradigms" have to say about the rise of individualism in modernist cultures, and its role in "social progress"?

Regards,
Eric

Baha'i Warrior
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Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:07 am
Location: U.S.A.

Postby Baha'i Warrior » Wed Aug 16, 2006 7:48 pm

Eric:

You say:

Using out-of-context quotes isn't going to impress anyone that actually understands religious studies or human nature at a mature, experienced level.


My experience, and the experience of a lot of people I've known in 30+ years of involvement with the Baha'i community, indicates that continued dialogue with anyone, Baha'i or not, that is extremely narrow-minded is tedious, fruitless, burdensome, and just plain pointless and futile in general.


I think this might be my last post for this topic. I hope you realize that we are not calling you "narrow-minded" because we do not necessarily agree with your points. Also, you haven't really defined what exactly is narrow-minded in this context. Obviously, being a self-proclaimed ex-Baha'i, you have rejected Baha'u'llah (and by extension God) so any "Baha'i answer" that is given will not satisfy you.

What you have failed to do (again) is to address specific points. You have also conflated the Baha'i Faith with Baha'i Administration with Baha'i culture, and may not even understand how to make the necessary distinctions to follow the discussion.


Also I should point out that I was trying to provide a more general answer, mostly directed to Zazaban, the individual who started this discussion.

The questions that you pose will be of no benefit to you, seeing that have had "30+ years of involvement with the Baha'i community." Anyway, such questions could be partly explained by this letter by the UHJ: "Individual Rights and Freedoms: A Statement of the Universal House of Justice."

The first paragraph begins:

    We have noticed with concern evidences of a confusion of attitudes among some of the friends when they encounter difficulties in applying Baha'i principles to questions of the day. On the one hand, they acknowledge their belief in Baha'u'llah and His teachings; on the other, they invoke Western liberal democratic practices when actions of Baha'i institutions or of some of their fellow Baha'is do not accord with their expectations. At the heart of this confusion are misconceptions of such fundamental issues as individual rights and freedom of expression in the Baha'i community. The source of the potential difficulties of the situation appears to us to be an inadequacy of Baha'i perspective on the part of both individual believers and their institutions.


**bolded/italicized quotes relevant to discussion

Source: http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/irf.html

(This wouldn't be a bad letter for Baha'is to read :))

So part of the problem/confusion arises out of differences between the Baha'i teachings and societal beliefs of the day. For example it isn't politically correct to say something like you should devote your whole life to God, humble yourself before Him and His commandments. It is, however, P.C. to follow the "American Dream" and even encourage materialism and satisfaction of perverted impulses. It's a problem when our social science textbooks/other literature are ridden with these unfounded, biased P.C. views, when the media encourages these views, and finally when Westerns internalize such things. Then the Baha'i Faith and its teachings become harder to accept. The "moral code" society has produced contrasts sharply with that of the Faith's. Our views have to be shaped by something, they just can't spring out of nothingness.

This is the challenge. Will you overcome?

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

Baha'i mantra about the evils of "western individualism

Postby Sean H. » Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:02 pm

BW,

Who is the "we" that you mention?

Under what auspices are you speaking for anyone other than yourself?

If none, then please refrain from using rhetorical devices that imply that you represent some group of people.

You have made some extremely foul accusations, misrepresentations and incorrect assumptions about my personal beliefs in your statement (appended below).

The reason that I submitted a resignation letter was due to a specific incident of bureaucratic incompetence and abuse of authority (which was representative of a long pattern that I've observed). It had nothing to do with "beliefs". The question of "beliefs" probably isn't even "technicially" relevant in my case beause I was coerced into signing a declaration card.

In other words, I was retroactively "annuling" my coerced declaration as a form of political protest. To be frank, I have no interest in the "AO" being able to claim me as one of their "statistics" for membership.

As I stated previously, a typical pattern that is used to enforce conformism in Baha'i culture is for non-conformists and critics to be accused of being "spiritually unworthy". That then allows the accusers to assign all sorts of additional evil characteristics to a critic or non-conformist.

In other words, it is a form of inquisitorialism.

If you examine Baha'i scripture, your will see that such inquisitorial processes are strictly prohibited (at least by individuals acting outside of any institutional auspices).

fwiw, your rhetoric/logic/whatever is almost exactly the same as the rhetoric used by a number of fundamentalists, authoritarians and abusers of power (or their supporters) that I've encountered and observed for decades in the Baha'i community. Such rhetoric perfectly demonstrates the more extreme/dysfunctional forms of conformism that are present in Baha'i culture (and unfortunately, is frequently is dominant in various localities and regions).

I would highly suggest that you seriously think about the damage and embarassment that such rhetoric causes to the community.

As far as the "Individual Rights/Freedoms/Responsibilities" letter, and similar/related letters, goes, I know many of the people (on what I call the "Baha'i left", "so called 'dissidents'", etc.) that those letters were specifically written to/about.

If you don't mind me asking, do you have any specific knowedge of the events or persons that those letters were written to/about?

Your attempt to apply the (quotes) to a wider context isn't particularly coherent, so you might want to try again.

Specifically, your understanding of social phenomena, memetics and ideology apears to be rather superficial, which presumably explains why you continue to refuse to answer my specific questions.

I would be extremely happy to be surprised to be proven wrong about your knowledge of the relevant social phenomena and theories.

Anyways, as you may know (?), there were continued discussions and letters to/from the BWC for a number of years about the whole issue of how much, and what kind of, "dissent" (if any) was permissable in the Baha'i community, specifically by academics, "scholars", intellectuals, and so forth.

At the end (as far as I know) of most of that discussion, the Universal House of Justice suggested that Baha'i scholars work on "integrative paradigms" (presumably as developed by non-Baha'is) rather than be limited by either fundamentalist or liberal/left/progressive paradigms. (see letters to Susan Maneck, probably on this web site)

So, there you go. You have now been informed that the Universal House of Justice has provided guidance that intellectual inquiry should NOT be bound to overly narrow-minded conceptions of Baha'i belief (as limited by either "fundamentalist" OR "progressive/liberal/left" ideologies, rhetoric, paradigms, polemics, etc.).

Please note that (as far as I can tell), the World's leading non-Baha'i integralists, while attempting to reintegrate spirituality into modernist and post-modernist paradigms ("western civilization"), would NEVER make the kind of facile and ill-conceived statements about the evolutionary role of "individualism" that are typically made by Baha'is.

Doing so is unsophisticated, very bad, scholarship.

Back to "Individual Rights/Freedoms" letter(s):

In my opinion, the so called "dissidents" correctly identified some major problems with conformism and abuses of authority in the Baha'i community (but they did so largely to advance their own ideological "agenda"), and the Universal House of Justice correctly attempted to "protect" the community from the damage that would have been caused if those "dissidents" had been successful in importing too much "progressive/liberal/left" ideology into the operations of administration and Baha'i culture.

You said: "This is the challenge. Will you overcome?

Actually it isn't the challenge at all. The challenge is putting up with people whose arrogance far exceeds their knowledge, wisdom, or life experience.

In short: the whole (frequently hysterical) Baha'i mantra about the evils of "western individualism" is SEVERELY lacking in balance. It is a characteristic form of self-serving Baha'i apologetics more than it is "real" scholarship. It is disturbingly reminiscent of the kind of extremist ideology that currently is in use to fuel conflict in the middle east.

It makes Baah'is look insularized, medieval, and unable to see a positive future in which all the people of the planet have the possibility of contributing to common ideals of "social progress" (an "ever advancing civilization") that are informed by all of the forms of "unitive mysticism" and spirituality (per their cultural framework).

Regards,
Eric

Baha'i Warrior wrote:Eric:

You say:

Using out-of-context quotes isn't going to impress anyone that actually understands religious studies or human nature at a mature, experienced level.


My experience, and the experience of a lot of people I've known in 30+ years of involvement with the Baha'i community, indicates that continued dialogue with anyone, Baha'i or not, that is extremely narrow-minded is tedious, fruitless, burdensome, and just plain pointless and futile in general.


I think this might be my last post for this topic. I hope you realize that we are not calling you "narrow-minded" because we do not necessarily agree with your points. Also, you haven't really defined what exactly is narrow-minded in this context. Obviously, being a self-proclaimed ex-Baha'i, you have rejected Baha'u'llah (and by extension God) so any "Baha'i answer" that is given will not satisfy you.

What you have failed to do (again) is to address specific points. You have also conflated the Baha'i Faith with Baha'i Administration with Baha'i culture, and may not even understand how to make the necessary distinctions to follow the discussion.


Also I should point out that I was trying to provide a more general answer, mostly directed to Zazaban, the individual who started this discussion.

The questions that you pose will be of no benefit to you, seeing that have had "30+ years of involvement with the Baha'i community." Anyway, such questions could be partly explained by this letter by the UHJ: "Individual Rights and Freedoms: A Statement of the Universal House of Justice."

The first paragraph begins:

    We have noticed with concern evidences of a confusion of attitudes among some of the friends when they encounter difficulties in applying Baha'i principles to questions of the day. On the one hand, they acknowledge their belief in Baha'u'llah and His teachings; on the other, they invoke Western liberal democratic practices when actions of Baha'i institutions or of some of their fellow Baha'is do not accord with their expectations. At the heart of this confusion are misconceptions of such fundamental issues as individual rights and freedom of expression in the Baha'i community. The source of the potential difficulties of the situation appears to us to be an inadequacy of Baha'i perspective on the part of both individual believers and their institutions.

**bolded/italicized quotes relevant to discussion

Source: http://bahai-library.com/published.uhj/irf.html

(This wouldn't be a bad letter for Baha'is to read :))

So part of the problem/confusion arises out of differences between the Baha'i teachings and societal beliefs of the day. For example it isn't politically correct to say something like you should devote your whole life to God, humble yourself before Him and His commandments. It is, however, P.C. to follow the "American Dream" and even encourage materialism and satisfaction of perverted impulses. It's a problem when our social science textbooks/other literature are ridden with these unfounded, biased P.C. views, when the media encourages these views, and finally when Westerns internalize such things. Then the Baha'i Faith and its teachings become harder to accept. The "moral code" society has produced contrasts sharply with that of the Faith's. Our views have to be shaped by something, they just can't spring out of nothingness.

This is the challenge. Will you overcome?

Sean H.
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Oct 16, 2008 9:25 pm

BW: do you have SPECIFIC answers to unanswered questions?

Postby Sean H. » Sun Nov 26, 2006 1:42 am

BW: do you have any SPECIFIC answers to the questions I asked you in this thread that you haven't responded to?

Jonah
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Location: St Catharines, Ontario (near Niagara Falls)
Contact:

Postby Jonah » Sun Nov 26, 2006 5:02 am

Partly because I do not believe that "Baha'is [are] against individuality and freedom of thought", but mostly because I've locked enough threads today, I'm leaving this one open for now.

Be nice, please. Feel free to stick to the question asked, re freedom of thought in the Baha'i teachings. No response to new tangents is necessary.

-Jonah


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