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.


Badi' said...

I just got out of prison and i came to know Baha'u'llah and His loved ones while incarcerated, and i have yet to meet a Baha'i who hasn't accepted me and welcomed me. Maybe you could clarify what you mean here. Your mystical commenteries are good, but i'm confused by your misplaced judgment of other peoples imperfections. Please clarify.

Alison Marshall said...

Dear Badi,

It is good news indeed that you have got out of prison, and even better news that you have found Baha'u'llah. That is the most important thing of all.

I'm not sure what you mean when you say I've made misplaced judgements. But not to worry, if you think anything I've said is misplaced, then run with that. It's fine by me.

My experience is that people see things from the point of view of their own experience and often this leads to differing views. This is inevitable. What people see or don't see is a very fluid and changing thing - myself included. I prefer therefore not to get into the tangle of clarification.

All the best


Badi' said...

Dear Alison,
Thanks for your reply, however I feel that you've danced around my request. But that's cool. What I meant was this: You said something to the effect that Baha'is are too busy denouncing people to spread the Faith, and I said they accepted me readily, an open and flagrant sinner, with open arms. Abdu'l-Baha said in SAQ that he does not approve of criticism, and I believe in my heart that Baha'u'llah, may the world embrace His Cause, would say something like, "We approve of criticism in some instances, and in others denounce it!" I personally believe in your particular case He would not approve, but that's my personal opinion. Perhaps these are human conditions and not necessarily Baha'i conditions. Maybe we should be more critical of ourselves at this particular stage in our collective development instead of the Institutions God has created for our benefit, just a thought. Anyway, I look forward to being continually enlightened through your wonderful mystical commentaries, and I invite you to do the same. Thanks Badi'

Elijah Green said...

#That this conversation is taking place
Thrills my soul! Thank you both! Allah`u`abha!
And Bless The Name of Jesus!

Ashtonian said...

In the the end it is God who decides who has fasted and who has not.