I’m very happy to bring to you the first interview on Baha’i Rants and it is with none other than Brian Taraz.
Brian is an actor, musician, singer, father, husband, Baha’i and much more (though not necessarily in that order everyday). You can listen to some of his music at purevolume. My favourite is ‘the prayer for the dead’. Brian has also launched an impressive personal initiative project online which he calls Kitab-i-Kuchik. For those who don’t know Persian, it means The Little Book.
So without further ado, let’s get to part I of the interview:
Hi Brian, how are you? Ready for the interview?
Hi Baquia, Thanks for the questions. Kind of weird for me to think about â€?myselfâ€? so to speak.
Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you learn of the Baha’i Faith? when did you declare and why?
Born in NYC, 1962. Parents were both Bahaâ€™is. In fact they were both on the LSA up until my 15th birthday. Thatâ€™s when I declared. The why is because I believed in Bahaâ€™uâ€™llah and the Faith and declaring at 15 was just the thing to do.
Had the blessings of seeing and meeting folks like Mr. Furutan and Mr. Khadem, Rhuyiyiih Khanum, members of the House of Justice, Seals and Crofts, etc.
I donâ€™t remember how old I was when we bought the current Bahaâ€™i Center, but I was part of the first crew to clean it out. It had been a porn movie theatre. I remember we found a 35 mm copy of â€?The Devil in Miss Jonesâ€?.
Not to be confused with the 1941 classic: “The Devil and Miss Jones” (laugh)
Right. Went to Green Acre all the time and a Bahaâ€™i school up in Poughkeepsie, New York. Had the blessing of visiting Iran as a kid and going to the house of the Bab. Went with my parents to Haifa when I was 9 on their pilgrimage.
So â€“ Bahaâ€™i, Bahaâ€™i, Bahaâ€™i.
Wow, that is such a blessing.
Luckily though, I grew up in a Jewish neighborhood and went to A YMHA camp. I went to two different Catholic High Schools (one Jesuit and one Franciscan). Before I was â€?old enough to know betterâ€?, because New York is what New York is, I experienced â€?sexâ€? stuff and drugs and â€“ on account of being a kid and not knowing that I should have felt differently â€“ I really, really liked that stuff.
Simultaneously, and probably the thing which provoked the â€?wormâ€? within my being, was the traditional Bahaâ€™i divorce thing. That cognitive dissonance that many people born â€?intoâ€? the Faith have to deal with. Iâ€™m also half-Iranian and half-Argentinian. So New York was the perfect place for me to grow up.
Went to many conferences. Saw the shiny happy people during the plenary sessions, like in St. Louis and Champaign-Urbana, but I was restless and prone to trouble making and enjoying seeing the Bahaâ€™i neâ€™er do wells who were hanging out at the pinball machines in the bottom of the conference hall.
Iâ€™m just throwing out a pastiche because I think each of us as individuals is such a universe unto ourselves which, if we meditate on it, could never be exhausted if we tried to understand ourselves in that way.
After the parents split up I moved to Southern California and went to UCSD and thatâ€™s when my brain â€?explodedâ€? so to speak. Also my libido and my social desires. It was a blast and I was on the verge of being kicked out but they gave me a second chance at the school. (I had discovered radio and acting and decided that Physics and Chemistry wasnâ€™t for me).
I attribute most of my explosion to Fredriech Nietzsche which was mandatory reading in the Humanities section of things. He was, on the surface, the complete antithesis of all things Bahaâ€™i. But everything I read was as if it was a divinely ordained mirror image dealing with the philosophical development of Western Man.
Thing is, Iâ€™m kind of smart, but not overly. Iâ€™m lazy I think. But I like reading and I love thinking and Iâ€™m addicted to pursuing the mystical experience through prayer, and by the same token Iâ€™m very much a captive of my ID (though with age and abuse it seems to be tempering itself â€“ kind of â€“ I guess). But no matter what wrong paths I walked, etc. I could never let go of Bahaâ€™uâ€™llah.
But donâ€™t get me wrong. I did much much mucking around in all kinds of wrong places. And, as I began to understand that even all the â€?bad crapâ€? was part of me, and that God is actually the â€?Ever-Forgivingâ€?, I began to frame my life of sin and reckless abandon more as a form of amusement for the â€?inmates of the all highest paradiseâ€? and company.
Anyway. Dad died about 10 years ago. Momâ€™s still alive. I feel very blessed to have the parents I have. Even their own relationship dysfunction was a gift that allowed me, like a decadent Buddha, to visit all the worlds of God â€“ even the so-called yucky ones.
Iâ€™m currently married. My wife is Bahaâ€™i. Iâ€™ve got two beautiful kids . . . and this brings me to â€?The Little Bookâ€?.
Yes, let’s talk about your individual initiative project Kitab-i-Kuchik. What motivated you to write it and share it with the world on the web? what is your number one goal or intention?
To be continued in part II of the Interview With Brian Taraz…
(don’t worry, it is coming very soon)