Unlike 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?
- Which Baha’i practices do you still do?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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
- Do you believe that Baha’u’llah is no longer guiding the Baha’is in an organized fashion?
- 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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.