Sunday, 20 October 2013

Modes of revelation


I have compiled a summary of the passage in the book "Gate of the Heart" by Nader Saiedi, in which he outlines the five modes of revelation, as explained by the Bab.

Click on this link: Modes of revelation

Monday, 10 June 2013

Depression is a hell

Last night I had a dream about hell. Never mind the details - they aren't nice. The point is that it got me thinking about hell again and about the fact that I spent a good part of my life depressed - right up until my late 40s.

I want to say here, in case it helps others, how I managed to get out of my recurring depressed states. Finally, I actually managed to talk myself out of depression. For me, depression was all about the fight between the darkness and the light. I don't know about others, but that's what it boiled down to for me. I was depressed because I kept believing, on the basis of, admittedly, very good evidence, that darkness had the upper hand. All around me I saw unhappiness and I could see no reason not to be unhappy too.

But one day, when I was sitting, thinking, in my depressed state, by the grace of God two ideas came into my mind. Firstly, I realised that depression was a bottomless pit. That, in fact, it was like a hole you were falling in and that it didn't have a bottom level. You just keep falling and falling and falling. I realise now that I used to assume that I'd reach the bottom and then start coming up. But I was wrong about that. I saw that I would just keep falling if I stayed depressed and would never, ever come up. Just keep going down.

This idea caused me to see my depression in a new light. I realised that feeling depressed was useless, because the state of depression was never going to lead to my feeling better. I needed some other response that would help me.

It was at that point that I realised I had a choice - I could choose to be depressed and go into free-fall, or I could choose to be happy. Given that depression was a no-win, I convinced myself that being happy was the most rational option, even if it was based on fantasy.

Since then, I have discovered that Baha'u'llah says repeatedly that the Light is the thing that is all-powerful. So I can see that Baha'u'llah backs up the conclusion that being happy is the most rational way to be.

So, in my view, depression is a hell because it is eternal darkness. And I believe we have a choice whether to dwell in eternal darkness or eternal light. But there is no point in being in eternal darkness, so why not choose the light?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The difference between holiness and conformity

I am reading the Iqan again and have just finished reading the part where Baha'u'llah discusses how Moses was a murderer and how Jesus was a fatherless child, whose mother appeared for all the world as unchaste. But God deliberately set these situations up this way, so that his manifestations would appear morally questionable. As a result, most people denounced these manifestations for being immoral, much less messengers of God. However, the hidden truth was that these 'immoral' manifestations were in fact the holy ones, and the people who denounced them were the unholy ones.

It got me thinking about how practised the Baha'is are at denouncing people for not being acceptable - ie, not firm in the covenant, unfit for community membership, not chaste, not this and not that. What will happen when the next manifestation comes and violates these very moral standards the Baha'is hold so dearly to? If these social standards are the measure the Baha'is cling to, how will they recognise the holy fragrance of the manifestation when s/he brings it down from heaven?

I think Baha'u'llah is pointing out that there is a difference between holiness, and conformity to socially accepted standards. Holiness is to do with the heart, not perfection of outer actions. We may not be perfect in character and we may be sinners, but what matters is that we are sincere and try to attach ourselves to Baha'u'llah and try to improve ourselves each day. I think this is the measure. It is love and all the other spiritual susceptibilities.

I think the Baha'is have made the Baha'i faith too hard for people. They have generated enormous complexity out of something that is very simple. They leave people feeling like they will never meet with Baha'u'llah's good pleasure. In my view, the pressing concern of our age now is to give people the good news that Baha'u'llah has come for everyone, and wiped their past clean and forgiven their sins. That he invites us all to everlasting life. We can all arise with joy at this momentous act of grace, which is brought to all people without exception. The Baha'is have turned the faith into a quagmire. I think the pressing need of this age is to free Baha'u'llah's message from that bog and set it free so that the message of supreme felicity can get out and renew people's lives.

Flying with Baha'u'llah

When I do briefly look at what the Bahai's get up to, I always think that they miss the point of why Baha'u'llah came. I know that the Baha'is like to emphasise the uniting of humanity - and that is certainly one goal - but it is a social goal and it misses the very personal nature of the revelation, which is addressed to each one of us in a very intimate fashion.

As I read the writings, Baha'u'llah had another purpose - one that is central to his revelation - and that is to offer each one of us the opportunity to make the spiritual journey to join him in his spiritual realm of eternal glory. In other words, he came to invite each one of us to come home with him, to be eternally reunited with him in his celestial sanctuary. In a sense, if we choose to, we can climb in our celestial rocket (or, to use Baha'u'llah's image, take the cup of wine offered by the hand of the cupbearer) and just blast on up to our everlasting nest. Baha'u'llah seeks to be with us, individually. Being a manifestation, he can multitask and give a private audience to an infinite number of people at any one time. So each one of us is invited and is important.

Here is a quote from the Hidden Words in which he tries to inspire us to make the journey to be with him: "O son of spirit! Burst thy cage asunder, and even as the phoenix of love soar into the firmament of holiness. Renounce thyself and, filled with the spirit of mercy, abide in the realm of celestial sanctity." The Hidden Words are filled with invitations for us to fly away to be with him - the same message worded differently over and over again.

It seems to me that, if the Baha'is want to be effective at promulgating the message, they need to 'renounce themselves', as the quote above says - in other words, get over themselves and see beyond the worldly reality of the community and its activities and administration, and even its development - and look to the celestial realm of Baha'u'llah. What's important is for people to know that Baha'u'llah is asking them to fly up on spiritual wings, through the experience of wonderment, delight and the joy of reunion, to live forever in their heavenly home, with the One who created them for that very purpose.

Each of us, right now, can climb into our rocket and just leave all the nightmares behind. Baha'u'llah tells us that this is the most important thing we can ever do. Never mind all the stuff about us being unworthy. Who is worthy? The very act of lifting ourselves off the earth to fly into the realm of sanctity is the very act of freeing ourselves from sin and the past. God is all-forgiving. We can take Baha'u'llah at his word on this.

Happy flying
Alison

Sunday, 12 August 2012

More on the journey to eternity

In this audio, I look at the two stages on our journey to God, which Baha'u'llah calls "The City (or Valley) of Search" and "The City (or Valley) of Divine Unity". These stages are described in two books: The Seven Valleys and Gems of Divine Mysteries. Using passages from Gems, I discuss how, in the City of Search, we see contradictions in the world and that, if we want to journey on to the City of Divine Unity, we must detach from these things - and, in fact, all in heaven and earth. In the City of Divine Unity, we stop seeing contradictions and begin to see God in everything. Hence our unease about the world around us is transformed into an understanding of God's purpose, and we find contentment in his all-encompassing oneness.

To listen to the audio, click the play button or listen to "More on the journey to eternity" as a downloaded MP3.


Here's the link to The Seven Valleys.

Here is the first passage from Gems of Divine Mysteries:

"It behoveth him who is a wayfarer in the path of God and a wanderer in His way to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on the earth. He must renounce all save God, that perchance the portals of mercy may be unlocked before his face and the breezes of providence may waft over him. And when he hath inscribed upon his soul that which We have vouchsafed unto him of the quintessence of inner meaning and explanation, he will fathom all the secrets of these allusions, and God shall bestow upon his heart a divine tranquillity and cause him to be of them that are at peace with themselves." Gems of Divine Mysteries, paragraph 33

Here is the second passage from Gems of Divine Mysteries:

"In this station [the City of Divine Unity] the truth of the unity of God and of the signs of His sanctity is established. Thou shalt indeed see them all rising above the bosom of God’s might and embraced in the arms of His mercy; nor can any distinction be made between His bosom and His arms. To speak of change or transformation in this plane would be sheer blasphemy and utter impiety, for this is the station wherein the light of divine unity shineth forth, and the truth of His oneness is expressed, and the splendours of the everlasting Morn are reflected in lofty and faithful mirrors." Gems of Divine Mysteries, paragraph 41

Here is the saying Baha'u'llah often quotes: "Knowledge is a light which God casteth into the heart of whomsoever He willeth." (Baha'u'llah: Kitab-i-Iqan, p46)


Sunday, 5 August 2012

Knowledge and virtue

In this audio, I explain what I see as the "state of being" that stands behind the virtues that Baha'u'llah emphasises, which include forbearance, resignation to what God wills, contentment with God's will, patience, and thankfulness in the face of tribulation. I suggest that these virtues are all linked by one "state of being" in which we sort of 'stand back' within ourselves and become detached from what's happening to us. I liken it to seeing our body and soul as a kind of theatre, in which we sit in the audience watching the drama of our life unfold on the stage.

This inner state of being reminds me of what Baha'u'llah says about knowledge. He divides it into two kinds: divine and satanic. He says that the principle that governs divine knowledge is "Fear God; God will teach you". Again, I think this means 'standing back' within ourselves and allowing ourselves to be guided by God about what's going on in the drama. In this way, we become a 'director' of the drama, along with God. Although I don't spell it out in the audio, I'm suggesting that the shared direction gives us the knowledge and understanding to achieve the forbearance, resignation, contentment and patience Baha'u'llah is asking of us.

To listen to the audio, click the play button or listen to "Knowledge and virtue" as a downloaded MP3.


Here is the passage from Gleanings:

"The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them..." Gleanings, section CXXXIV

Here are passage from the Kitab-i Iqan (Book of Certitude):

"Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: 'Fear ye God; God will teach you;' the other is but a confirmation of the truth: 'Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.' The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit." Kitab-i Iqan, paragraph 76

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The reciprocal nature of contentment

In this audio, I discuss how the state of contentment is an immediate, reciprocal connection with God through our heart. This state is explained in this sentence from Baha'u'llah: "Then know that your love for God is God's good-pleasure with you and your good-pleasure with him."

To listen to the audio, click the play button or listen to "The reciprocal nature of contentment" as a downloaded MP3.


Here is the passage from Gems of Divine Mysteries:

"It behoveth him who is a wayfarer in the path of God and a wanderer in His way to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on the earth. He must renounce all save God, that perchance the portals of mercy may be unlocked before his face and the breezes of providence may waft over him. And when he hath inscribed upon his soul that which We have vouchsafed unto him of the quintessence of inner meaning and explanation, he will fathom all the secrets of these allusions, and God shall bestow upon his heart a divine tranquillity and cause him to be of them that are at peace with themselves." Baha'u'llah: Gems of Mysteries, para 33


Here are the hidden words I read:

"O SON OF LIGHT! Forget all save Me and commune with My spirit. This is of the essence of My command, therefore turn unto it." Arabic no 16


"O SON OF MAN! Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us." Arabic no 35


Here is the passage from City of Radiant Acquiescence:

"Then know that your love for God is God's good-pleasure with you and your good-pleasure with him. This is the religious path that was ordained by the right hand of God's wisdom, and it shall not change with a change of prophets, nor is it renewed by the advent of a new messenger. Rather, all enjoin this upon the people, and it is a trust of God deposited in the hearts of the sincere." City of Radiant Acquiescence, para 8