All Things Are of God

That rabblerouser, Brian Taraz, is at it again!

Now he’s come up with a brilliant plan. I’ll let him describe it in his own words:

Who’s up for a “deed”-a-thon?

“Say: O servants! Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord. We fain would hope that the people of Baha may be guided by the blessed words: ‘SAY: ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD.’ This exalted utterance is like unto water for quenching the fire of hate and enmity which smouldereth within the hearts and breasts of men. BY THIS SINGLE UTTERANCE contending peoples and kindreds will attain the light of true unity. Verily He speaketh the truth and leadeth the way. He is the All-Powerful, the Exalted, the Gracious.
(Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 222)

This passage is from the Kitab-i-Ahd. Baha’u’llah’s “Book of My Covenant”.

Here’s the thing-

The phrase is “Say: All things are of God“. The claim is that this SINGLE UTTERANCE can quench enmity and that “by it” peoples and kindreds WILL attain the light of true unity.

There are no caveats. No preconditions that the “UTTERERS” of this phrase need to be Baha’i.

So . . . I’d like to suggest a challenge to ourselves.

From now until May 23rd, the Declaraton of the Bab, that we utter this phrase daily and “see” what happens.

I’m a romantic so I’d imagine doing it with the same frequency of Muslim prayer. But it could be a morning or evening thing.

ANYWAY – I believe it should be uttered/intoned/chanted/sung whatever way provides internal resonance for the person.
And it has no phrasing that requires any particular Faith confession. So it can be a prayer/meditation/affirmation/mantra etc.

So? Let’s try it.

In spite of the way some people think – the act of verbalized articulation is not simply “words” but is simultaneously a deed.

Let’s do it.
Who’s game?

😉
Peace
Brian

(I’m in. Are you?)

Baha’i Administrative Bureaucracy

It is fun to look at the Baha’i administration through the prism lens of organizational studies. It is rather difficult for a Baha’i to have such knowledge and not indulge. So allow me the indulgence.

Recently Steve featured an article which tried to depict the Baha’i administration as inhabiting the ‘sweet spot’ inside a theoretical framework of organizational behavior. The theory, in this case, is that organizations are either “spiders” or “starfish”. Which is just a cute twist on the old top-down and bottom-up notation most people use. The analogy being that a starfish would survive if you cut a limb off (decentralized) whereas a spider is centralized. Obviously the analogy is a false one since cutting off a spider’s leg won’t kill it.

bahai-spider.pngIn case, if you’re not familiar with these concepts, very simply put, a top-down organization is one in which decisions, policy, culture and pretty much everything that matters is decided at the top and then forced down the line to the last subordinate. The article argues, rather weakly, that the Baha’i organizational structure, has both these elements. While I can empathize with the author as he tries so hard to show the Baha’i administration to be “decentralized” I can’t help but notice that he fails rather dramatically. Simply asserting a thing, is not proving it.

This sort of mistake is a conceptual fallacy. Where we start out with the premise that we want to arrive at and then mercilessly torture the data and facts until they fit, mangled and distorted, into the right cubby hole. The scientific approach, is instead, to start with a neutral stance, without any conclusions, and then to look at all the facts and infer from them. Allowing them to lead us to whatever conclusion they may.

bahai-starfish.pngIf we do look at the facts, we see an almost exclusive top down bureacracy. One that hands down X-year plans, forces the community to take mind-numbing regurgitation classes (Ruhi), appoints and directs all aspects of Baha’i administration, and one which micromanages to a neurotic degree.

A great example of this happened just recently. You remember the surprisingly frank admission of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, right? Well, it would seem that that did not sit right with the House of Justice. So they sent a representative, Ms. Penelope Walker, from the (you guessed it) International Teaching Center to the National Convention to set them right.

She kindly informed the delegates that rather than being interested in something as “old world” and impractical as listening to the grass roots and finding out what is really going on (things like facts), the ITC and the House were more interested in them understanding that nothing is wrong with the plans or guidance given. That they must keep on keeping on. Do Ruhi. And if in doubt, do more Ruhi.

If that doesn’t result in anything positive for the community, then it is your fault. You must have done something wrong, or maybe you didn’t take Ruhi enough times. Did you do all books? how about in a second language? did you try doing them standing on your head? Aha! You lazy, no good bum!! You’re the reason why the enrollments have been shrinking for the past 5 years!

Heaven forbid that the delegates at the National Convention have a discussion of what is truly going on in their communities and gasp! tell it like it is. I mean, whoever suggests that the National Convention is a place for that? Or that the National Assembly would want to listen to their own members rather than a guest flying in from another continent. Obviously the guest has a more intimate knowledge of how the United States Baha’i community is doing than the very Baha’is in that community. Right?

How tenderly and carefully the grassroots are attended to. It is simply breathtaking!

*****************

It must be noted that the Baha’i administration as we see it today, would not be recognized by its architect, Abdu’l-Baha. In His Will & Testament, the administration is laid out to function with two parallel but separate pillars: the elected institution (Universal House of Justice) and the appointed institution (Guardianship). But that is not what we have today:

bahai-administration-structure-two-pillars.png

The arrows going to and from the House of Justice and the International Teaching Center are meant to illustrate the fact that since the early 1980’s all new House of Justice members have just happened to be current members of the ITC. This revolving door has lead to group think and a drastic narrowing of leadership perspective.

Which reminds me that it’s been a good while that I promised part II of the look at Baha’i elections and how we can improve them. I’ll be writing about that very soon. Probably tomorrow. Rather apropos as it coincides with the ongoing National Conventions.

Life After Death

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cartoon credit: Sinfest.net

Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.

Thou hast, moreover, asked Me concerning the state of the soul after its separation from the body. Know thou, of a truth, that if the soul of man hath walked in the ways of God, it will, assuredly, return and be gathered to the glory of the Beloved. By the righteousness of God! It shall attain a station such as no pen can depict, or tongue describe.

Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. It is, in itself, a testimony that beareth witness to the existence of a world that is contingent, as well as to the reality of a world that hath neither beginning nor end. Behold how the dream thou hast dreamed is, after the lapse of many years, re-enacted before thine eyes. Consider how strange is the mystery of the world that appeareth to thee in thy dream. Ponder in thine heart upon the unsearchable wisdom of God, and meditate on its manifold revelations….

Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah

Baha’u’llah’s Prison Cell in Akka, Israel

This is dedicated to White Hanky.

The video is by an amateur videographer so it is a bit shaky and the production values aren’t that great but who cares? You can actually see the exterior and interior of the prison. And in the next segment of the video some other sites in Akka.

And here you can see the layout of the interior:

bahaullah-prison-cell-map.jpg

Notice the skylight towards the center right. This is where Baha’u’llah’s youngest son, Mirza Mihdi, was fatally injured at the age of 22. In the video you can see the small area cordoned off and the floor in the small area, is left in its original condition (as opposed to the new floor that was recently put in as part of the large renovation project).

Happy Ridvan ! The King of Festivals is here !!

They have the 12 days of Christmas… we have the 12 days of Ridvan!

Get out there and enjoy them. Especially day 1, 9 and 12 (pssst! they’re holy days so you don’t have to work)

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The entrance to the Ridvan garden.

On the first day of Ridvan my true love gave to me… Ruhi book #8 made from the pulp of a pear treeeee

On the ninth day of Ridvan my true love gave to me… 9 UHJ members legislating (infallibly – of course!), 8 book publishing boycotts, 7 LSA members a leapin’, 6 Assistants to the ABM a prayin’, 5 letters of unenrollment, 4 triumphant Ridvan messages, 3 plates of ta-deeg, 2 counselling Counsellors, and a Ruhi book #8 made from the pulp of a pear treeeee

On the twelfth day of Ridvan my true love gave to me… 12 “friendly” visits by the ABM for protection, 11 new temple construction announcements, 10 requests for “further sacrificial donations to the Fund”, 9 UHJ members legislating (infallibly – of course!), 8 book publishing boycotts, 7 LSA members a leapin’, 6 Assistants to the ABM a prayin’, 5 letters of unenrollment, 4 triumphant Ridvan messages, 3 plates of ta-deeg, 2 counselling Counsellors, and a Ruhi book #8 made from the pulp of a pear treeeee

On a more serious note, check this out if you want to know about the history of the original Garden of Ridvan.