All research or scholarship questions
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Postby Truth » Sun May 03, 2009 9:42 pm

Hey Guys,

Got a quote here i wanted to get a bit of clarification on. Thanks to BritishBahai for sending it through to me.

LXVIII. O thou who art the fruit of My Tree and the leaf thereof! On thee be My glory and My mercy. Let not thine heart grieve over what hath befallen thee. Wert thou to scan the pages of the Book of Life, thou wouldst, most certainly, discover that which would dissipate thy sorrows and dissolve thine anguish.

Know thou, O fruit of My Tree, that the decrees of the Sovereign Ordainer, as related to fate and predestination, are of two kinds. Both are to be obeyed and accepted. The one is irrevocable, the other is, as termed by men, impending. To the former all must unreservedly submit, inasmuch as it is fixed and settled. God, however, is able to alter or repeal it. As the harm that must result from such a change will be greater than if the decree had remained unaltered, all, therefore, should willingly acquiesce in what God hath willed and confidently abide by the same.

The decree that is impending, however, is such that prayer and entreaty can succeed in averting it.

God grant that thou who art the fruit of My Tree, and they that are associated with thee, may be shielded from its evil consequences.

Say: O God, my God! Thou hast committed into mine hands a trust from Thee, and hast now according to the good-pleasure of Thy Will called it back to Thyself. It is not for me, who am a handmaid of Thine, to say, whence is this to me or wherefore hath it happened, inasmuch as Thou art glorified in all Thine acts, and art to be obeyed in Thy decree. 134 Thine handmaid, O my Lord, hath set her hopes on Thy grace and bounty. Grant that she may obtain that which will draw her nigh unto Thee, and will profit her in every world of Thine. Thou art the Forgiving, the All-Bountiful. There is none other God but Thee, the Ordainer, the Ancient of Days.

Vouchsafe Thy blessings, O Lord, my God, unto them that have quaffed the wine of Thy love before the face of men, and, in spite of Thine enemies, have acknowledged Thy unity, testified to Thy oneness, and confessed their belief in that which hath made the limbs of the oppressors among Thy creatures to quake, and the flesh of the proud ones of the earth to tremble. I bear witness that Thy Sovereignty can never perish, nor Thy Will be altered. Ordain for them that have set their faces towards Thee, and for Thine handmaids that have held fast by Thy Cord, that which beseemeth the Ocean of Thy bounty and the Heaven of Thy grace.

Thou art He, O God, Who hath proclaimed Himself as the Lord of Wealth, and characterized all that serve Him as poor and needy. Even as Thou hast written: "O ye that believe! Ye are but paupers in need of God; but God is the All-Possessing, the All-Praised." Having acknowledged my poverty, and recognized Thy wealth, suffer me not to be deprived of the glory of Thy riches. Thou art, verily, the Supreme Protector, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. 135

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 132)

The part I'm stuck on is the part about "irrevocable" and "impending". I'm not sure i understand the literal meanings of each.

irrevocable = incapable of being retracted or revoked
impending = close in time

With irrevocable... Could this mean that if one makes a mistake in his past that eventually may catch up with him, he can pray that it doesn't, but the harm caused by this is greater than the harm that would have initially been caused?

With impending, would this mean we can pray that we are protected from making the mistakes in the first place?

If anyone could provide examples, it would assist with my understanding.

No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!

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Re: Fate

Postby onepence~2 » Mon May 04, 2009 6:31 am

i do not view fate as negative

although perhaps i should

i view fate more as

the sun will come up tomorrow

fate is also way of Understanding Order

"To conclude: the beings, whether great or small, are connected with one another by the perfect wisdom of God, and affect and influence one another. If it were not so, in the universal system and the general arrangement of existence, there would be disorder and imperfection. But as beings are connected one with another with the greatest strength, they are in order in their places and perfect."

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Re: Fate

Postby curt » Tue May 05, 2009 9:16 pm

Hi Truth

Irrevocable - God could change the rotation of the earth but the harm would exceed any benefit.

Impending - a meteor is heading to Earth, through prayer to God the course of the meteor changes and disaster is averted.

A very good question.


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Re: Fate

Postby brettz9 » Wed May 06, 2009 11:32 am

Hello Truth,

Don't think I welcomed you earlier, so welcome!

Nice to have questions from those trying to study the Writings more deeply...

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impending , "impending" has an archaic use of hanging suspended. I think such an idea along the lines of "pending" makes more sense here than does the modern meaning of "soon", but I could be wrong.

Irrevocable usually means it just cannot be stopped, no matter what, but in this conditional context, Baha'u'llah indicates it is still possible for God to change it.

While there is this passage on the death penalty saving a murderer from future punishment (I also remember reading or hearing that it may be better for them to face it in this world, though I don't know if this is just hearsay, etc.), and while the likes of the sin of pre-marital sex is mentioned as having a punishment in the next world (the word is actually "adultery", but reading the notes/interpretation indicates it is the former), I'm not sure that we can conclude that all punishments are absolutely inevitable, and that their avoidance would be more harmful. The Writings indicate that God can instantly wipe away all sins if it be His will, and that if He were to really treat us all with justice, none of us would be left on the earth. :) In any case, we can always pray for His mercy. As I heard one Catholic nun was to have admirably said, even if her soul was doomed, she was grateful to be able to try to spend the rest of her life loving God.

Indeed, we are to pray to mitigate the severity of God's chastisement (at least for humanity as a whole, though He is no doubt not at all averse to us praying for our own as well!--we are told by 'Abdu'l-Baha to beg everything we desire from Baha'u'llah):

The powerful operations of this titanic upheaval are comprehensible to none except such as have recognized the claims of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. Their followers know full well whence it comes, and what it will ultimately lead to. Though ignorant of how far it will reach, they clearly recognize its genesis, are aware of its direction, acknowledge its necessity, observe confidently its mysterious processes, ardently pray for the mitigation of its severity, intelligently labor to assuage its fury, and anticipate, with undimmed vision, the consummation of the fears and the hopes it must necessarily engender.

(Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day Is Come, par. 5)

The case of "irrevocable" fate being altered, brings to mind for me, the story in the Bible where the people insisted on God giving them a king (through Samuel, the prophet), and He allowed it, but in so doing they moved away from God's originally chosen system: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_of_Samuel#Saul (permanent link)--an episode which also interestingly calls to mind the reverse process going on in this Age of fulfillment whereby the majesty of kings will return for a time, but in the far future, the time of the maturation of humanity, no one will dare approach the throne (i.e., humanity will go back to God's system, the Baha'i World Order--not single charismatic rulers, but those charged with justice who are not focal points of adulation).

Likewise, does it make me think a little of 'Abdu'l-Baha referring to the effect of how the removal of an illness may cause other difficulties, or how not all prayers can be fulfilled (e.g., prayers to get rich, that there is a continuing need for workers, etc.).

Of course, praying to avoid mistakes, is certainly better than having to pray to be forgiven for them (though as we are all sinners, and are to bring ourselves to account each morning, obviously, the latter is necessary too), but as far as impending fate, to me, this is about giving a large consolation to those who might hesitate to pray for something out of the thought that it is not God's will, for Baha'u'llah is even allowing for some ordained decrees to be alterable. Perhaps an example might be someone who seems as though they are about to die, but through prayers (and the belief of the people that their prayers may be accepted), the person's life ends up being spared (e.g., as how Baha'u'llah was about to die when a physician prayed to have his own life be sacrificed instead).

Of course, since God knows that everything will happen ahead of time (see http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/35.html ), it's not like He is ever literally changing His mind or something; all such details are presented for our own processing.

If you're looking for more on fate/destiny, there are also these other chapters of Some Answered Questions: http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/68.html , http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/69.html , and http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/70.html

best wishes,

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