Posted by Jonah on November 21, 2000 at 17:08:00:
In Reply to: Prophecies about the Calamity posted by Jonah Winters on November 21, 2000 at 00:47:53:
>Date: Tue, 21 Nov 2000 17:47:21 EST
Subject: Re: Calamities
It is good to get such a hearty response. I have long waited to research this
and other even less reasonable "facts" that have floated in my learning for
decades. For example, I was told a story obout a believer who asked
>Baha'u'llah about the after-life. After much insisting, Baha'u'llah told him
of the beauty that was awaiting us all, with the strict instruction that he
>must still wait out his mortal life. However, as you might suspect, the tale
goes on to say that the picture painted was so wonderful that the believer
>took his life despite his vow. Again, this is the sort of tale that sounds
very farfetched. I am convinced that it is.
I'm inclined to believe this one. I've heard at least two separate stories about believers taking their lives, and one of them -- Nabil, the author of Dawnbreakers who drowned himself after Baha'u'llah's passing -- is well documented.
There are a couple other things that lend credence to stories such as this one. One, the whole phenomenon of martyrdom in religion can be seen as a form of ritualized suicide which elevates the believer's life to one of transcendent meaning, which of course is probably a desire everyone shares. And we know that there were many joyous martyrs in the early history of the Babi and Baha'i faiths.
As well, sociologist Max Weber spoke of religious charisma, which my dictionary defines as "A rare personal quality attributed to leaders who arouse fervent popular devotion and enthusiasm." It seems that the founders of all major religions had such charisma that their believers sometimes lost their own senses, to a certain extent. (The mystics, of course, are most famous for this.) Or, to put it a gentler way, the times of the Manifestations -- esp. while in their near presence -- were so powerful and tumultuous that our normal rational notions of sensible vs. irrational have to be suspended.
Regarding hearsay and legend in general, one Baha'i did his doctoral dissertation on "Kitab-i-Hearsay." I'll see if he can share a copy for posting online.
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