A Peek Inside A Walled Garden

garden bahai unenrolled.pngUnlike this blog, a lot of Baha’i discussions take place behind electronic ‘walls’. So I thought, why not offer everyone a peek inside one of these little groups?

Unenrolled Baha’i is a Yahoo! Group created by Karen Bacquet. The list is “for unenrolled, inactive, and disillusioned believers in Baha’u’llah to gather in a warm and supportive atmosphere to share experiences and explore the implications of the Baha’i Writings for the individual’s spiritual path.” An unenrolled Baha’i – in case you don’t know – is a person who is a Baha’i but either hasn’t, or doesn’t want to formally enroll. There are also those who have been disenrolled by the UHJ who still consider themselves Baha’is.

Unlike, say Talisman, this list isn’t for hard and heavy academic discussions but rather more like the social portion of feast where friends gather and mingle. A good example of that is a recent conversation that was started by some good questions. The questions are in black text while the various answers are in colored text (my apologies to those who are color blind)

  • In what ways do you continue to cultivate your spirituality?
  • I feel far more of a Baha’i now than I did as an active Baha’i. Cultivating spirituality means becoming closer to your inner core and I am becoming more so every day.

    My wife prays, meditates, and reads the writings. She’s learning Arabic so she can read Baha’u’llah in the original. After 7 years, she’s just starting to read at the Hidden Words level. I tend towards work-as-worship and get involved in social action. It was the same sort of scenario when she and I were mainstream Baha’is.

    Reading the Writings. Thinking and meditating about them and discussing them with others online and offline.

  • Which Baha’i practices do you still do?
  • Prayer and meditation, observance of Ayyamiha and somewhat of Holy Days, reading the Writings, learning and continuous exploration in my independent search for truth.

    As above. Fasting, holy days, not much observing silence, some seeing the end of things and an increasing amount of renouncing the world. No feasts, but we do have regular monthly mashriq meetings.

    Pretty much everything. I’m an enrolled Baha’i. To be totally honest though, sometimes I’m rushed and forget to wash my feet in the shower.

  • In what ways do you try to put the Baha’i Writings to work in your life, in your attitudes towards others, in your treatment of others?
  • Developing a good character is not confined to Baha’is or exclusively available out of Baha’i Writings. I could not possibly point to only Baha’i Writings in my personal character development over the years – it is a combination of many sources of knowledge and insight, both from the written word and life experience.

    Yes, I have more time to help others now that I’m not diluting that with AO-type manipulation of others and committee-type in-fighting. Perhaps now the dilution comes from the re-hashing of the faults of the AO. :-)

    I try to understand the inner essence of Baha’i teachings rather than imitating their outerform. I do this by studying and thinking about them rather than accepting superficially what others tell me.

  • On this group or in others, do you ever celebrate the Baha’i Writings and Baha’u’llah, rather than focusing on what you don’t like about the enrolled Baha’i organization?
  • I am a member of a Baha’i Women’s group that is wonderful for all kinds of sharing – good and bad. We call ourselves a rebel group because we allow anything at all – negativity, positivity, sharing of personal lives, attitudes about what’s goiing on in the world – anything. and yes, we celebrate being Bahai’s as well.

    The writings get incorporated lightly into the discussion, but I take your point – there’s very little vigorous devotional discussion anywhere in online Baha’i BeliefSpace.

    Yes, in fact there are quite a few of them. But they happen to not get a lot of attention. I think that most people are in agreement with the values prescribed in the Baha’i writings. Scandals sell newspapers and disagreements and criticism tends to attract a crowd as well.

  • Do you think that if a person unenrolls, but then cannot work through their frustration/anger or negativity (get stuck there), that it sort of goes against the spirit of the Writings about detachment and contentment and forgiveness and “abide not but in the rose garden of love” and all that jazz :-)
  • I don’t think it matters what the timeline is. If someone stays angry for years, that is obviously their process working through it. Perhaps they have something worth staying angry about. Perhaps they are just whining brats. It isn’t my place to judge. And, as for whether or not its against the spirit of the Writings – that would not be something I could judge either.

    That’s a leading question. I’m sure it happens. We’re talking about a grief process and you can get a bit stuck at any stage, even the denial stage.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to get at here since this is quite a loaded question. I think everyone is at a certain stage. Some spend more time at a stage than others. What is important is that we realize that when we get frustrated, angry or clamour against some perceived injustice, it is because we deeply care! If it wasn’t important then we would not spend so much energy on it. It helps to understand the criticism that one may run into through this lense.

  • Do you believe that Baha’u’llah is no longer guiding the Baha’is in an organized fashion?
  • Organized fashion – I suspect that refers to the UHJ, and possibly to NSAs, LSAs, the Board of Counsellors perhaps? I’ve seen a lot of corruption and power-seeking. Haven’t seen much actual guidance going on.

    But – as for guidance – I feel guided. I just ask and wait for an answer and it works.

    I don’t think Baha’u’llah ever guided us in an “organised fashion” and that he made no promises to continue guiding us in an “organised fashion” after his death. I prefer your notion that “everyone can be fulfilling God’s work” and I prefer the early Farzam Arbab concept of gradually moving whole populations toward Baha’u’llah. And I think that’s best achieved by working within the type of organic unity Sen describes in his Church and State book. Organic fashion – yes. Organised fashion – no, unless I misunderstand your use of the phrase.

    Again, I’m not sure what you mean by this question. I would argue that ‘organized fashion’ and the Baha’i faith do not go together ;) I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. What is detrimental is the belief that things must work mechanistically and be organized into neat little categories and plans and people forced to take mind numbing regurgitation classes so that an artificial level (ABC, etc.) can be reached and statistics complied. If this is the sort of ‘organized fashion’ you mean, then no I don’t think that Baha’u’llah had this in mind when He brought the Faith to humanity.

  • Do you think it would be good for unenrolled Baha’is and enrolled Baha’is to maintain close ties or at least some form of connection in our appreciation for the Baha’i Writings and spiritual and social teachings? (I’m talking in an ideal world, where the two groups aren’t prejudiced against each other – would this be a good thing?)
  • In an ideal world, I know longer believe that there would be a separate religion called the Baha’i Faith. Baha’u’llah didn’t bring His teachings to Baha’is. He brought them to the people of the world. He didn’t bring an administrative order intended to organize the community of the believers. He brought a government for the world. The government of the world should be available to all the people of the world and not confined to the social structure of an organized religion. In THIS way, we could consider that the future government of the world would be a theocracy – in that the system and pattern for that government would be based on the Writings of the Manifestation of God. But, even so, it would be a secular government.

    So, should the enrolled and unenrolled Baha’is commune with one another? How about in an ideal world, the Writings of Baha’u’llah are available to all the peoples of the world and no one separates themselves out by saying, “I am a Baha’i, and you are not.” How about in an ideal world, we actually PRACTICE oneness instead of just preaching it?

    Yes. I’ve always found it valuable to cultivate friendships across the divide. I’m active on the two Baha’i Discuss lists, and I have private correspondence with a range of fairly mainstream enrolled Baha’is.

    Nice questions.

    Of course. I have found unenrolled Baha’is to be splendid individuals. I have yet to see one piece of evidence that an unenrolled Baha’i has a negative prejudice against Baha’is. If any ‘shunning’ is taking place, whether online or in real life, it is those who are still card carrying Baha’is prejudiced against unenrolled Baha’is.

Everyone is welcome to join the Unenrolled Baha’is Group, by the way. So if you are curious, go ahead. You’ll find a diverse bunch of folks and thanks to Karen a very warm and caring atmosphere.

UPDATE: Sometimes things are so obvious to us that we neglect to consider that others may not share the same information. Let me therefore say that unenrolled Baha’is are not “covenant-breakers”, they are simply people who either by their own choice or the choice of the administration are not officially enrolled (have a Baha’i card) but are nevertheless drawn to the Faith. I hope that that can help to lay some of the misinformation and suspicions to rest.

  • Concourse on Low

    Baquia,

    Do you know of any groups dedicated to facilitating discussion between former Bahais who struggle with the religion on philosophical grounds? I find that many disenrolled Bahais wrestle more with the problems of the AO than the status of Baha’u’llah’s claims.

    I find this livejournal site as a close approximation to what I envision http://mavaddat.livejournal.com/

    I think Bahais disillusioned with the AO and those disillusioned with the religion’s theology, ethics etc. form seperate niches, but can nevertheless interface profitably.

    I tried to start a blog dedicated to the philosophical study of the religion, but work and life conspired against getting it off the ground. (www.concourseonlow.blogspot.com – for those interested in moribund blogs floating in the ether)

  • Concourse on Low

    Baquia,

    Do you know of any groups dedicated to facilitating discussion between former Bahais who struggle with the religion on philosophical grounds? I find that many disenrolled Bahais wrestle more with the problems of the AO than the status of Baha’u’llah’s claims.

    I find this livejournal site as a close approximation to what I envision http://mavaddat.livejournal.com/

    I think Bahais disillusioned with the AO and those disillusioned with the religion’s theology, ethics etc. form seperate niches, but can nevertheless interface profitably.

    I tried to start a blog dedicated to the philosophical study of the religion, but work and life conspired against getting it off the ground. (www.concourseonlow.blogspot.com – for those interested in moribund blogs floating in the ether)

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Yes, and that group would be Unenrolled Baha’is :)
    Thanks for the links to the other blogs. It is always good to hear other’s opinions.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Yes, and that group would be Unenrolled Baha’is :)
    Thanks for the links to the other blogs. It is always good to hear other’s opinions.

  • Sercxu

    Concourse on Low,

    I’m just the sort of person you’re talking about–a former Baha’i (though technically still currently enrolled) who has rejected the theology. Unenrolled Baha’i is a great group if that’s your niche. One does, however, need to be mindful that not everyone in the group is in that particular niche, and I try not to offend anyone too much (well, except when I get really steamed :-) )

    Sercxu

  • Sercxu

    Concourse on Low,

    I’m just the sort of person you’re talking about–a former Baha’i (though technically still currently enrolled) who has rejected the theology. Unenrolled Baha’i is a great group if that’s your niche. One does, however, need to be mindful that not everyone in the group is in that particular niche, and I try not to offend anyone too much (well, except when I get really steamed :-) )

    Sercxu

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Dear Baquia: thank YOU so much for your blog! I found it today and as I shared it with my husband (especially the Ruhi rants and Baha’i Angst podcast) we kept saying yes yes…this is how I have FELT for YEARS! I honestly thought I was going crazy! For my story, please feel free to peruse the whitehanky.blogspot.com and see if you can relate. (I bet you can)
    I have enrolled in the ‘unrollables’..is that sort of like the untouchables?…(g) and we shall see if there is a warm spot by the fire for me to sit and spin.
    Blessing on your endeavour – may your Honour Never Sleep!
    White Hanky

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Dear Baquia: thank YOU so much for your blog! I found it today and as I shared it with my husband (especially the Ruhi rants and Baha’i Angst podcast) we kept saying yes yes…this is how I have FELT for YEARS! I honestly thought I was going crazy! For my story, please feel free to peruse the whitehanky.blogspot.com and see if you can relate. (I bet you can)
    I have enrolled in the ‘unrollables’..is that sort of like the untouchables?…(g) and we shall see if there is a warm spot by the fire for me to sit and spin.
    Blessing on your endeavour – may your Honour Never Sleep!
    White Hanky

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    White Hanky,
    you’re very welcome. And thank you for sharing your story. Look forward to talking to you more in UeB.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    White Hanky,
    you’re very welcome. And thank you for sharing your story. Look forward to talking to you more in UeB.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi White Hanky,

    I just read your blog (whitehanky.blogspot.com).

    What you have experienced is typical in your long years in the Baha’i Faith regarding this specific “inciting” incident. The irony(s) are everywhere these days on many other topics too!

    For me I thought the Baha’i Faith was anti-war all these years only now to find out the current members of the Universal House of Justice are pro-war in the use of U.S. military power as they state everywhere in their closed audience speeches. That is, I guess, as long as none of them themselves or members of THEIR families have to man any check points or run any patrols themselves or end up PTSD alcoholics with no help from anybody since Baha’is are currently exempt from military service in the armed forces of the United States as CO’s if there ever is a draft.

    But beyond even any particular issue, my personal theory is that it is all a left brain/right brain thing. It has ALWAYS been with the human race and it has ALWAYS showed up in “organized religion”. The ascent of “organizational controllers” in any group dynamic.

    To counter the mindset of fearful obsessive-compulsive controllers in any “organizational” setting requires massive spirituality and massive maturity in the rank and file to keep such people from taking over and running everything they touch completely into the ground. History shows in all lands and periods of history that the means to an end will ALWAYS become the end itself for such people. This is what has happened in the current version of the Baha’i Faith. Shoghi Effendi actually warned people about this long ago. Alas, it has all come to pass.

    Welcome to the underground! Welcome to the spiritual camps of the “Mariner Baha’is” out in the desert wastes beyond the walled cities. No organization. No leaders. No nothing. Nothing that anyone can get disenrolled or executed for on trumped up charges. Just a state of mind and soul. Just people of Spirit who know the “Tablet of the Holy Mariner” is now in effect and the other shoe is at some point going to drop on the lifetime incumbent class currently running the Baha’i Faith completely into the ground.

    The only question now is the total cosmic weight of that shoe? A pound? A hundred pounds? A thousand pounds? Ten thousand pounds? A railroad locomotive? One World Trade Center? Then thousand World trade Centers? The weight of an entire planet? Who knows?

    There are long time Baha’is everywhere who see this coming. There is a whole network out there who are not dumb. People who paid attention in world literature class. People who know what goes around eventually comes around. People who have been to at least one Shakespeare play in their lifetime and have written at least one original term paper some time in their life without copying from Cliff Notes.

    Divine Judgment is coming upon the current version of the Baha’i Faith and it is not going to be pretty.

    Meanshile, get something warm to drink and sit up at the campfire. There are many here.

    Welcome!

  • Craig Parke

    Hi White Hanky,

    I just read your blog (whitehanky.blogspot.com).

    What you have experienced is typical in your long years in the Baha’i Faith regarding this specific “inciting” incident. The irony(s) are everywhere these days on many other topics too!

    For me I thought the Baha’i Faith was anti-war all these years only now to find out the current members of the Universal House of Justice are pro-war in the use of U.S. military power as they state everywhere in their closed audience speeches. That is, I guess, as long as none of them themselves or members of THEIR families have to man any check points or run any patrols themselves or end up PTSD alcoholics with no help from anybody since Baha’is are currently exempt from military service in the armed forces of the United States as CO’s if there ever is a draft.

    But beyond even any particular issue, my personal theory is that it is all a left brain/right brain thing. It has ALWAYS been with the human race and it has ALWAYS showed up in “organized religion”. The ascent of “organizational controllers” in any group dynamic.

    To counter the mindset of fearful obsessive-compulsive controllers in any “organizational” setting requires massive spirituality and massive maturity in the rank and file to keep such people from taking over and running everything they touch completely into the ground. History shows in all lands and periods of history that the means to an end will ALWAYS become the end itself for such people. This is what has happened in the current version of the Baha’i Faith. Shoghi Effendi actually warned people about this long ago. Alas, it has all come to pass.

    Welcome to the underground! Welcome to the spiritual camps of the “Mariner Baha’is” out in the desert wastes beyond the walled cities. No organization. No leaders. No nothing. Nothing that anyone can get disenrolled or executed for on trumped up charges. Just a state of mind and soul. Just people of Spirit who know the “Tablet of the Holy Mariner” is now in effect and the other shoe is at some point going to drop on the lifetime incumbent class currently running the Baha’i Faith completely into the ground.

    The only question now is the total cosmic weight of that shoe? A pound? A hundred pounds? A thousand pounds? Ten thousand pounds? A railroad locomotive? One World Trade Center? Then thousand World trade Centers? The weight of an entire planet? Who knows?

    There are long time Baha’is everywhere who see this coming. There is a whole network out there who are not dumb. People who paid attention in world literature class. People who know what goes around eventually comes around. People who have been to at least one Shakespeare play in their lifetime and have written at least one original term paper some time in their life without copying from Cliff Notes.

    Divine Judgment is coming upon the current version of the Baha’i Faith and it is not going to be pretty.

    Meanshile, get something warm to drink and sit up at the campfire. There are many here.

    Welcome!

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Baquia and Craig: the welcomes from both you gentle souls is noted with a feeling of ‘coming home.’ I will now sit back and absorb and comment when I can. I have also left a note on the unrollables as well Baquia thanking those folks there as well. Merci and a thousand blessings! WH

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Baquia and Craig: the welcomes from both you gentle souls is noted with a feeling of ‘coming home.’ I will now sit back and absorb and comment when I can. I have also left a note on the unrollables as well Baquia thanking those folks there as well. Merci and a thousand blessings! WH

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Dear posters of past posts and ponderers: I am now in a ‘catch up mode’ after reading through as much as I could until my eyes burned out (230 am) and have not seen anywhere the explanation for the Landegg closure.
    What happened? and I guess now that I know I did not go on official Pilgrimage but only to Haifa and be a visitor, hmm…does counting the waves at Akka still count? (g) changing my blogspot from the P word to the V word.
    Btw..I did consider labeling my blogspot as ‘B for Bendetta’ but I think the point would escape most folks. hugs and blessings …WH aka Bendetta

  • http://www.whitehanky.blogspot.com White Hanky

    Dear posters of past posts and ponderers: I am now in a ‘catch up mode’ after reading through as much as I could until my eyes burned out (230 am) and have not seen anywhere the explanation for the Landegg closure.
    What happened? and I guess now that I know I did not go on official Pilgrimage but only to Haifa and be a visitor, hmm…does counting the waves at Akka still count? (g) changing my blogspot from the P word to the V word.
    Btw..I did consider labeling my blogspot as ‘B for Bendetta’ but I think the point would escape most folks. hugs and blessings …WH aka Bendetta

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    WH,
    It simply failed to become self-sustaining as a for-profit enterprise. Sabet, who had patronized it, withdrew his financial support.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    WH,
    It simply failed to become self-sustaining as a for-profit enterprise. Sabet, who had patronized it, withdrew his financial support.