Freedom for Art is Unity in Diversity

Last Friday, I went to listen to Salman Rushdie present the “Leiden Freedom Lecture.”

Salman Rushdie delivers the "Leiden Freedom Lecture" in the St. Pieters church, Leiden, The Netherlands 18 June 2010

Salman Rushdie delivers the Leiden Freedom Lecture in the St. Pieters church, Leiden, The Netherlands 18 June 2010

Freedom, he argued is the essence of life and the essence of creativity. So many Baha’is have told me that to be a Bahai and an artist means that you need to be ‘moderate’. Some, artists themselves, have presented all sorts of theories about art being at the service of something else, ranging from the idea of self-censorship in order not to offend to art as a framework for the lowest common denominator: the ubiquitous portrait paintings of ‘Abdul-Baha.

Screenshot of the Art Directory of Baha'i Inspired Artists Facebook Group - 18 June 2010

Not all pages include as many portraits as this page happens to, but this is a good representation of much of what is labeled as art in a Baha’i context. I am not criticizing any of this art nor this forum. Mark Granfar, has created an open forum for artworks to be placed and artists could place other forms of art if they wished. My point is that this forum reflects what you see in the Baha’i community in general.

I’m not knocking portrait painting nor those who choose to paint these types of images of ‘Abdul-Baha, but am asking where is the diversity, a tell-tale sign of freedom. Celebrations of ‘oneness’ wear a little thin, when that’s the only story on offer by a community.

When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail — that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs — development and growth are inevitable.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197)

(E)ach elemental atom of the universe has the opportunity of expressing an infinite variety of those individual virtues. No atom is bereft or deprived of this opportunity or right of expression.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 285)

When I was fresh out of art school, I happily made artworks on themes of peace, diversity, portrait-like pieces, and so on, and felt completely free to do so. It was encouraging that various Baha’is in my community appreciated what I was doing and some even bought my work.

Myriam Bargetze performing in Atras de um arbusto um papa - formigas esverdeia de vergonha (An ant eater hiding behind a bush -turns green out of embarrassment), in the Lisbon Botanical gardens, Portugal, 1990

Myriam Bargetze performing in Atras de um arbusto um papa - formigas esverdeia de vergonha (An ant eater hiding behind a bush - turns green out of embarrassment), in the Lisbon Botanical gardens, Portugal, 1990

I was aware of work such as Joseph Beuys’ social sculpture projects and liked it, but it wasn’t my world. If a Baha’i had been making such work, I wouldn’t have thought this was ‘immoderate’, but because of the way I was living or perhaps because my Baha’i community was so open, whether art was ‘moderate’ or not, wasn’t a question I had.

That was a few decades ago and in the years I’ve been making art, I’ve never felt I needed to censor what I make. In fact I don’t think I could, and because I don’t show my art in Baha’i contexts I don’t have to think about this either. All good and fine.

However the ‘stale air’ is what I often encounter as art made, shown or discussed in Baha’i contexts. Perhaps this is the only possibility, that religious contexts cannot allow for too much artistic diversity? I’ve been told this and it sounds reasonable, however, how can art function if is not free? Other Baha’is have stated that the time for Baha’i art has not started yet, and I think to myself, ‘oh so we sit around and wait, and like magic, something called Baha’i art will appear out of nothing?’

My view is that it started the second the Baha’i Revelation started and art was free.

In this new century the attainment of science, arts and belles lettres, whether divine or worldly, material or spiritual, is a matter which is acceptable before God and a duty which is incumbent upon us all to accomplish…
(my own emphasis added – Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 448)

When I look at what is written about the arts and creativity, it seems to me that Baha’i art is not about having the same material form, but about diversity, about difference and freedom of expression. Many artists do as I do, operate outside of Baha’i contexts, partly because there is space outside of the Baha’i community to develop, and there’s nothing wrong with this, and partly because there’s no space for art in the Baha’i community. It is not censored (at least in my case), but it is not made welcome. How can art touch a religious context if it is never shown in one. As much as I love classical music, my heart sinks when I hear it as ‘the music’ at a feast, because there’s no diversity.

In 2006, I called a workshop I gave at an Irish Baha’i summer school, “shocking art” where individuals could bring up the art that shocks them as a starting point for discussion. As it turned out, the individuals were all touched by contemporary art in some way and because of this had already developed their own dialogue. There was no need for me to show that ‘shocking art’ has a place in the world, and so in that context of freedom, I moved the workshop to exercises in expressing the new instead. We had clean air and so didn’t need to protest.

Rushdie’s metaphor got me thinking about how often Baha’is tell me off (usually online) for expressing what in their view is whining, when in my view it is critique. From their perspective I’m polluting their clean air (of no dissent) while for me the air is stuffy because my critique is seen as not being acceptable for a Baha’i to make. I promise, I really would complain less if there was more dialogue. :-) Seriously though, when individuals have differences of opinion and it is assumed that each party is sincere, then the differing opinions can be worked on. If one or another writes something like “well you can leave”, what that person is really saying is, your viewpoint does not belong here and mine does.

The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 87)

I also think that if we don’t have the freedom to express things that bother us, we can’t process them, learn from them, learn from the differing ideas. I think the fact that one of the Baha’i months is called ‘questions’ indicates that this is part of human nature, part of the development of the spirit and something that is an ongoing aspect of Baha’i community life.

For me making a work of art is more about asking questions, wrestling with some experience, than presenting answers – although art is wonderfully slippery and so is about both and neither.

I do think any artist should have complete freedom of expression. As Rushdie stated, you have to make the effort to open a book to read it, have to walk into a bookshop or a library. No one is forced to encounter art. Likewise with art in a gallery. There’s a lot of art I dislike, but some of it has inspired me to make art in response, and some of it I forget about. I’d be a poorer person if I hadn’t experienced it and yet this is not the same as someone who willingly places themselves or another into a life-threatening situation.

In 2004, at a talk I gave for the Baha’is, I was asked how I would treat Mapplethorpe’s photography in the context of Baha’i art. My answer was that it shouldn’t be censored and that it was focused on the material, and art focused on materiality can be as effective as art focused on spirituality. From another perspective, a detailed realistic painting is as much about materiality as a work by Mapplethorpe.

On the topic of censorship, Salman Rushdie told the story of a Pakistani film (“International Gorillay” (International Guerillas) in which Rushdie, depicted as a Rambo-like figure, is portrayed as plotting to cause the downfall of Pakistan by opening a chain of casinos and discos, tortures with audio recordings of his book, and was finally killed by a bolt of lighting sent from God!

The British Board of Film Classification refused to give it a certificate, meaning it would be banned in the U.K., because they feared they might be sued for the 25 or more instances of libel in the film. Rushdie said he didn’t want to be part to something being censored and so wrote a statement to the board saying he would not sue for libel if the film was released. And so they then released it. A large theater was hired for its first showing in Muslim-dominated Bradford — and no one turned up. However if the movie had been banned, the fact of censorship would have made it popular. As it was, the work was judged according to its quality: a badly made movie not worth the cost of entry.

I’d argue that even if the unbanned film had become popular in the U.K., it would have served as a form of discourse. Having the freedom to express also means having the freedom to judge the work, and learn from it or its mistakes or misrepresentations. If a community doesn’t have freedom, it doesn’t have the mechanisms for diversity.

How do we know if a community has freedom: we look at the diversity of its artforms. There are two responses to this in relation to the Baha’i community. Lots of Baha’is are doing diverse highly creative work and Baha’is are part of the world. Second: if Baha’i communities wish to take advantage of this air of liberty, they have to create a opportunities for it.

A starting point would be to remove ‘review’, so there’s no idea of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways of expression. Of course I’m grateful to Baquia for allowing a freedom of expression on this blog. If Baquia hadn’t, I wouldn’t have made the effort to write this to start with.

This is what I mean by creating opportunities. If artists know that their art is welcome -however materialistic or issue-based- then they will start making an artwork in relation to the Baha’i community and when they do, we’ll have the diversity needed for discourse to develop. As it stands at the moment, artists who are Baha’is such as myself, certainly make art inspired by the Baha’i writings and teachings, but what is missing is art and art discourse in relation to the Baha’i community. Perhaps this is a freedom only possible as a form of diaspora -from the point of view of an outsider. At least at the moment with the dominance of the Ruhi culture, this seems to be the case.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Thank you, Sonja, for this very interesting commentary. Most likely everyone here is well aware of Shoghi Effendi's comments regarding “Baha'i Music,” but I was happy to be reminded of his thoughts (through the words of a Secretary, I think) by reading your words here, and would like to share them with the rest of you, as a reminder:

    “Music, as one of the arts, is a natural cultural development, and the Guardian does not feel that there should be any cultivation of 'Baha'i Music' any more than we are trying to develop a Baha'i school of painting or writing. The believers are free to paint, write, and compose as their talents guide them….As long as they have music for its own sake it is all right, but they should not consider it 'Baha'i' music.” (Shoghi Effendi – from Principles of Baha'i Administration).

    I think that, in a sense, the time for “Baha'i art” will never arrive – or, if it does, it means we are on the wrong track. Art is art and cannot be contained within any religious, political, or philosophical boundary, though the artist may be touched or influenced by all of those things. Art's dependence upon freedom necessarily puts it outside of all such boundaries and restraints. Sonja is absolutely right – the artist, in whatever field of endeavor, must have absolute freedom, and absolute freedom is always an absolute threat to the conservative and fundamentalist. Freedom consists of trust, in my view, trust in the process, in one's self, and in the spiritual underpinnings of the universe. Fear of freedom is a lack of trust, and sometimes it is lust for power and control.

    Barb

  • Concourse on Low

    Baha'i aesthetic theory is as anemic as Baha'i thought on most other subjects. For Baha'is, art = means to spread Baha'i message, i.e. propaganda.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    From your comment “Concourse on Low” I am assuming that you don't have any idea of what the words “Bahai aesthetic theory” mean because you make the leap (without any logic or argumentation) to stating that this means this is about spreading the Bahai Faith.

    Let me start: first we have the Bahai Writings and it seems to me there are two radical perspectives presented that will have (and already do have an effect as I am a practising artist like many others in the world and am a Bahai who is touched by art in my life).

    Baha'u'llah refers to art and craft in very inclusive terms, so there's no hierachy of high or low artform as being better or closer to the spirit, etc, and his and 'Abdul-Baha's emphasis on art being important for each of us. So one aspect of Bahai aesthetic theory would be to see how this positive and open approach to the arts will have an affect (on the world, on the creation of artworks, etc)
    “Concourse on Low” please show how your comment above wasn't just some random put down as it appears to be.

  • Concourse on Low

    You, Baquia and your buddy all suffer from major cognitive dissonance. You bitch and whine about the Baha'i view on homosexuality, art and whatever else, but then you adopt the same dimwitted form of Baha'i discourse in your replies.

    Art is about exploring the fundamental questions of human existence. Of course Baha'is have no interest in real art. Why bother when you think you have all the answers.

  • Amanda

    Sonja,
    Weren't you criticizing the stifling censorship in Baha'i arts discourse and production and arguing for a bigger tent and more artistic freedom? Freedom that doesn't currently exist?

    So what's the problem with acknowledging that Baha'i artists are pressured to produce proclamation-style propaganda work? I know I was when I was a believer.

    Why do you take offense at the fact of proclamation being asserted? Why do you see it as a random put-down? Are you offering Baha'u'llah & 'Abdu'l-Baha's praise of arts & crafts as an actual aesthetic theory? If so, I have to agree that it's pretty anemic. And internally conflicted. *Sing, but not like that.* *Write/Act/Speak, but not like that.* Etc…

    There are some pro-arts passages in the writings, but also a lot of pro-censorship passages, and on the whole it doesn't leave a lot of room for independent freedom of expression if you are a faithful and obedient follower of Baha'i rules & regs.

  • Baquia

    Can you point out the “pro-censorship” passages? I think I missed those.

  • Baquia

    For the most part, the real artists that I've seen in the Baha'i community are artists who also happen to be Baha'i, not necessarily Baha'i artists.

  • Amanda

    Yes, apparently you did. You can be a little dismissive when I make obvious assertions here, so I'm glad you asked.

    “We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. *********Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish.*********”

    It's from an obscure book called the “Kitab-i-Aqdas.” (par. 51)

    “…Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people.”

    (Bah??'u'll??h: Extracts from the Bah??'?­ Writings on the Subject of Writers and Writing, A Compilation, p. 3, July 1980)

    I know many folks here don't recognize SE or uhj related sources, but I also consider the prohibition on depictions of the central figures as censorship. Not even *lighting* can be used to portray “Messengers of God.” Maybe Baha'u'llah in a bear costume would pass review? No instrumentation for music in houses of worship. No dance- even sacred dance- in houses of worship. No human speech of any form that isn't “Scripture” spoken in houses of worship.

    have you been to Wilmette, Baquia?

    No “prostitution of the arts.”

    “Dancers may appear, but great care should be used that they are not indecently clad or the dances vulgar in any way. Naturally, there should be no dancers at regular Bah??'?­ meetings. Vocal soloists, of course, may appear.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, August 19, 1951)

    [Insert Sonja's reply that anything written on behalf of anybody is always inaccurate and doesn't reflect their opinion.-On behalf of Sonja, 6/2010, by an unauthorized observer.]

    “Lighting, sound, floral decorations, etc.; the House of Worship, too, may all be used, but the point to remember is that real beauty and dignity must be achieved, and all impression of our being in any remote sense a cult, or a group of 'artistes' be avoided.

    “It is always good to remember that this more artistic presentation of the Cause will attract only a certain type–and, fortunately, a type hitherto ignored in our approach to the public–of person; other methods must also be used to attract other types, such as the intellectual and more reserved type.”

    (Ibid.)

    “With regard to your question relative to the advisability of having Bah??'?­s join film companies. Although on principle there is no objection if any believer wishes to become a cinema actor, yet in view of the excessive corruption that now prevails along such a line of occupation, the Guardian would not advise any believer to choose this kind of profession, unless he finds this to be the only means of earning his livelihood.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, September 4, 1935)

    “From a Bah??’?­ point of view, the exercise of freedom of speech must necessarily be disciplined by a profound appreciation of both the positive and negative dimensions of freedom, on the one hand, and of speech, on the other.

    Bah??’u’ll??h warns us that �the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison.’ �Material fire consumeth the body,’ He says in elaborating the point, �whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. � In tracing the framework of free speech, He again advises �moderation.’ �Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation.’…

    Speech is a powerful phenomenon. Its freedom is both to be extolled and feared. It calls for an acute exercise of judgment, since both the limitation of speech and the excess of it can lead to dire consequences.” (Universal House of Justice, 29 Dec 1988 letter To the Followers of Bah??’u’ll??h in America, Rights & Responsibilities, pg 13)

    Ever had anything shot down in review? Do you think NSA's are acting wildly and not in accordance with Baha'i teachings?

    “It is recommended that Reviewing Committees be small, composed of two or three believers with adequate education and knowledge of the Cause. It is essential that works submitted be dealt with promptly. The standards to be upheld by reviewers are the following: (a) conformity with the Teachings, (b) accuracy, (c) dignity in presentation. The Spiritual Assembly, on the basis of its Reviewing Committee's report, gives or withholds approval of the work.

    “…In general the function of a reviewing committee is to say whether the work submitted gives an acceptable presentation of the Cause or not. Reviewers may win the gratitude and good will of authors by calling attention to such things as occasional grammatical or spelling errors, but approval should not be refused on such grounds; all such details are editorial matters for agreement between author and publisher.”

    (The Universal House of Justice: Memorandum on Bah??'?­ Publishing, Ridvan 1971, March 28, 1971 to the National Spiritual Assemblies of the Bah??'?­ world, pp. 1-2)

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Amanda wrote:
    “Weren't you criticizing the stifling censorship in Baha'i arts discourse and production and arguing for a bigger tent and more artistic freedom? Freedom that doesn't currently exist?”

    I'd agree Bahai communities do not seem to treat the arts as a serious displicine and so they tend to want to tame art as a form of propaganda. But in the Bahai Writings the arts are treated seriously as a valid and valuable part of humanity.
    My point was not that artists are inhibited but that the Bahai community in general is not very welcoming towards the arts, apart from the propanganda style stuff. My point is that this is missing, but not that artists such as myself can't express freely. We can and do. I would agree with you that because young Bahais who are at art school etc, don't see this happening in Bahai contexts, might think this doesn't exist.

    Amanda: “So what's the problem with acknowledging that Baha'i artists are pressured to produce proclamation-style propaganda work? I know I was when I was a believer.”

    That's not how I read “Concorse on Low's post”. It seemed that he was saying that a Bahai aesthetic was about proclamation. What you are writing about is the way Bahais in your experience have pressured artists to produced proclamation-style art.
    Fortunately I became a Bahai in a community where this would have been unheard of. We had a few artists in our community and they all worked in diverse ways. I never saw a single painted 'Abdul-Baha portrait or poster-type artwork made by a Bahai as an artist expression, until I moved to Europe and started doing work for BAFA (Bahai Association for the Arts). It is from my decades of contact with Bahais in the U.S. in particular that I got the idea that in the U.S. there seems to be a dominant trend to see art as a form of proganda.

    Anyway to return to your comments.

    Amanda: “Why do you take offense at the fact of proclamation being asserted? Why do you see it as a random put-down? Are you offering Baha'u'llah & 'Abdu'l-Baha's praise of arts & crafts as an actual aesthetic theory? If so, I have to agree that it's pretty anemic. And internally conflicted. *Sing, but not like that.* *Write/Act/Speak, but not like that.* Etc…”

    Please show me some passages that actually state something in art is forbidden apart from that Bahais should not depict Baha'u'llah or any of the manifestations of God. I am not aware of anything else from the Bahai Scripture that is a prohibition in regards to the arts. But I am aware that Bahais think there is, so let's have a discussion about this. Quoting Letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi too if you wish as these do have some status.

    Amanda: “There are some pro-arts passages in the writings, but also a lot of pro-censorship passages, and on the whole it doesn't leave a lot of room for independent freedom of expression if you are a faithful and obedient > follower of Baha'i rules & regs.”

    Quotations please. I seriously don't know of anything that inhibits my freedom of expression apart from review, which is my country is not applied to the arts. I am only aware of two countries in the world ever applying review to the arts and that is the U.S. and the U.K. I am not sure if this is stil the case.

  • Baquia

    Thanks Amanda. To be clear, I thought you were referring to what Sonja had written, now I realize you were talking about the Baha'i Writings. With the exception of the rules that apply to Baha'i Houses of Worship, the rest are guidance or suggestions, not laws. I don't think these restrictions (for Wilmetter and other Houses of Worship) to be excessive. As well, there are other places where the community can partake any of those things, feast, holy day celebrations, fund raisers, Baha'i centers, etc.

    The injunction to not represent a messenger of God is to avoid idolatry – something that I imagine you agree with as a Muslim. Of course, non-Baha'is can portray, draw or act as Baha'u'llah, the Bab, etc. and no Baha'i will be issuing fatwas against them or killing them. The rules apply to Baha'is and Baha'i properties. Do you think that is excessive?

    Oh and I do think that review is now an anachronism. But that hardly even needs to be said now, does it? It is rather obvious.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Amanda, thanks for posting these quotations and I'd forgotten about the prohibitions in a House of Worship.

    I'm going to be away for a week so I'll see what I can respond to now and leave the rest till then.

    I can understand the wisdom in moderating one's expression (artistic or not) in places or situations that need to be totally inclusive such as in a House of Worship intended as a culture neutral environment. Although culture neutral forms of worship are impossible. I see the goal here as not just in order not to offend but because art is culture specific it would miss its point for some of its intended audience.
    It has nothing to do with proclamation, but with expression in a particular context for a particular purpose related to worship. This is not the same as worship in another context or expression in another context. A House of Worship is not the same as a feast or a Holy Day or the culture of any said Bahai community.

    The following quotation indicates the existence of various types of Houses of Worship:

    “Inform the maid-servant of God, who prepared her home as a [temporary] Mashrak-el-Azcar, that this service was accepted in the Kingdom of ABHA.”

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v1, p. 149)

    So my question would be: “is the prohibition on the use of instrumental music in a House of Worship, intended also for ones in family homes or local communities?” I don't know.

    There is this quotation which I don't understand:

    “You also ask: “To whom shall we turn?” Turn to the Ancient Beauty. If it be the will of God, the blessed likeness (of the Manifestation) will be sent in its proper time, so that, in the world of the heart, thou mayest direct thyself to that holy likeness and thus be saved from imagination and phantasy. However, in the Temple (Mashrak-el-Azcar) the blessed picture must never be placed (or hung) on the wall. This you should know.”

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v2, p. 337)

    So what is prohibited in a House of Worship is not as black and white as it seems. Sen has some material on this topic here.
    http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/email-archive/m
    http://bahai-library.com/articles/mashriq.html

    However to continue with the practice today in the large House of Worship buildings around the world. I do think these prohibitions are strict, but that is not the same thing as a general prohibition on what Bahais may express.

    To me it seems that one way of looking at a Bahai aesthetic is that Baha'u'llah has a high regard of the arts in general, and for situations such as a House of Worship, the prohibtions only aware for an austere experience. Perhaps this is a cultural neutral ground. I don't know. It is a given at the moment anyway and what we have to work with.

    We can focus on a discussion of these restrictions in the context of a House of Worship but this is not the same thing as saying that therefore the Baha'u'llah's intent for all art is this restricted.

    The restrictions you mention re: feasts, do not relate to my experiences of Bahai feasts in various countries over the past 20 years. In one community we lived in we couldn't even use scripture from outside of the Bahai writings. In another community I was in there was belly dance and so on. It seems to me that what happens in Bahai feasts and at Bahai Holy Days are very diverse. I'm also aware that some Bahais think there are restrictions in these contexts. I organized a jazz concert for a Holy Day a number of years ago and some Bahais complained about this not being dignified. That doesn't mean it wasn't.

    But first I'll respond to the first of your quotations.

    “We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity. Let your joy be the joy born of My Most Great Name, a Name that bringeth rapture to the heart, and filleth with ecstasy the minds of all who have drawn nigh unto God. We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion. Truly, We are loath to see you numbered with the foolish.”

    (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, par. 51, p. 38, 1992 edition)

    I do not read this as a probibtion on freedom of expression, in fact I read this as a praise of the vitality and importance of music. I interprete “propriety” and “dignity” as meaning think about the context and why you do this, and I see the phrase “not… as wings to self and passion” as supporting this way of reading this.
    Do you or anyone else reading this know of any interpretations by Shoghi Effendi or of any elaborations by Abdul-Baha where it states that this phrase means that there is a prohibition on some types of music or singing?

    I realise that the way I am reading this passage is culture specific, but I do not see how one could read this in any other way. So I can imagine that another reader might read it as meaning, no singing that that person considers undignified. Who is the judge of what is dignified? Each of us. And most of us do change over time, so what we might consider undignified once might no longer be the case. If a Bahai says something is undignified, rather than accepting their view as a rule, I'd suggest asking them for their reasoning.

    So Amanda I don't read this passage as a prohibition. Please show me how it is if I've missed something or if you have some experience where this quotation was used as justification to prohibit a type of music or singing or other artform.

    I read the second quotation in a similiar way, that it is not a prohibition on anything but a reminder to question one's motive. How else could one interpret the phrase “should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom” – again who decides what is tact or wisdom?

    Admittedly the phrase: “…in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith,” could be read as meaning only use simple words, but it can just as easily be read as meaning, make sure your words are clear and nurture. I read 'nurture' as inspiration, but I guess, people could read this as meaning, indoctrination, if they think nurturing means making rules.
    Satire inspires. So does comedy, in my view. There's no prohibition on either of these artforms as I read this passage.

    There is a similiar passage which has the word “primarily” modifying the phrase “milk”. The passage begins with stating that all utterances need to be moderated – I read this as meaning we should think and use our words with care. In my view this is not a prohibition on self-expression especially since Baha'u'llah states that the goal is “true understanding and nobility”. I don't see anything about teaching or proclamation as being a goal here. I also do not see how one could claim that “nobility” is a static set of rules in the context of the human individuality.
    It seems to me that Baha'u'llah is going to great effort to get us to realise that words have all sorts of effects and to be aware of this.

    “The Great Being saith: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.
    Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.”

    (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 172)

    I also found the context for the passage which you quoted interesting. Bah??'u'll??h was responding to a Bahai who had written a treatise.

    “2212. Thou hast written that one of the friends hath composed a treatise. This was mentioned in the Holy Presence, and this is what was revealed in response: Great care should be exercised that whatever is written in these days doth not cause dissension, and invite the objection of the people. Whatever the friends of the one true God say in these days is listened to by the people of the world.
    It hath been revealed in the Lawh-i-Hikmat: “The unbelievers have inclined their ears towards us in order to hear that which might enable them to cavil against God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.” [1]

    Whatever is written should not transgress the bounds of tact and wisdom, and in the words used there should lie hid the property of milk, so that the children of the world may be nurtured therewith, and attain maturity. We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people.

    [1 "Tablets of Bah??'u'll??h Revealed after the Kit??b-i-Aqdas
    (Wilmette: Bah??'?­ Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 141] (From a Tablet of Bah??'u'll??h to an individual believer- translated from Persian and Arabic)

    I still do not read any prohibitions on expression in the above, only warnings that we need to use “tact” and “wisdom”. You quote this from a 1980 compilation on Writers and Writing. Does this compilation state that there are prohibitions for writers?

    Amanda wrote: “I know many folks here don't recognize SE or uhj related sources, …”

    Please do not count me as one of these folks. I make a distinction between Bahai Scripture and laws the U.H.J. makes. And while the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi have some status, they are clearly not intended to be treated as Bahai Scripture otherwise like the Catholics, Bahais would not be using birth control because one of these letters states Bahais shouldn't use it.

    Amanda: “…I also consider the prohibition on depictions of the central figures as censorship. Not even *lighting* can be used to portray “Messengers of God.” “

    Yes there is a prohibition on depictions of the manifestations of God. I don't have time to hunt around more. If someone could find a quotation from Bahai Scripture that would be great. What I found was this:

    “The prohibition on representing the Manifestation of God in paintings and drawings or in dramatic presentations applies to all the Manifestations of God.
    …the impossibility of representing, in any human form, whether pictorially, in sculpture or in dramatic representation, the Person of God's Manifestations.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 9, 1977)

    I see no prohibition on the use of lighting (and I've experienced a moving piece of theatre where The presence of the Bab was indicated in this manner), and there are lots of examples of poems referencing the manifestations or God written by Bahais.

    I read this letter, if this is the only evidence for this restriction, as having the staus of Bahai law made by the U.H.J. meaning that they have the power to change or modify this at a later stage. I hope this explains the distinction between the unchangeable nature of Bahai Scripture.

  • rhapsodist

    Woo! Got some spirited debate going on here. From the standpoint of a reader, thanks everybody for the comments so far.

    As a professional vocalist, I want to make a comment on what it means to be moderate. No matter what form of arts I've studied, and I've studied many, the conversation is the same… “what is moderation” and this is a conversation that happens whether you, as Baquia so aptly put it, “happen to be” a Baha'i or not.

    To me, I think moderation is merely a necessity of the artist. If you have no discipline, you have nothing. For instance, if I am going to sing Opera, I am not sacrificing creativity– there are many opportunities within a song that has been sung a thousand times to sing it anew each time– but in order to utilize my creativity and create an environment that allows an “operatic” sound– a pure, free, unrestrained sound– I need to have moderation. If I use too much air, it's like blowing too hard on a piece of paper, the paper will not hum a tune. The same is true of the voice. There needs to be a moderate expenditure of air.

    So to me, I think moderation is just an issue of discipline, and in reality moderation allows us to reach new levels of creativity and freedom within our art.

    To me, creativity doesn't mean closing your eyes and waiting to see the results. Example: my sister is a visual artist and VERY intuitive. She doesn't plan her artwork and she doesn't always know what it means, but sometimes they are very autobiographical and they are always very reflective of her personal spirit. But she doesn't go and say “oh well that's not flashy enough” after she finishes or “oh that's shocking too shocking” — no, it's always a reflection of her personality. Being Baha'i or not has nothing to do with it and she's never once expressed to me a desire to infuse Baha'i into her work. Her art is art and that's just it.

    And she is SUPER disciplined. So I don't see how moderation or discipline really prevent creativity. I see them as tools of creativity.

  • rhapsodist

    “how can art function if is not free?” I really like that question. I firmly believe artists are communicators. Art is, among other things, a form of communication. So I think that if someone tries to stifle it, great! Nobody has found a better way to get something done than to tell someone not to do it!!

    “creating opportunities” — YES, please!

    “what is missing is art and art discourse in relation to the Baha’i community” – well then I guess that gives me something to do…

    “the dominance of the Ruhi culture” – I don't even know what that means, but thanks for bringing it up! I think Ruhi is about experimentation, communication, communiTY! and discipline. it encourages people to use personal strengths. if your personal strength is art, then BAM, it's built into the system!!

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hi Sonja -

    I must say that I think Amanda has a point – there exists within the Baha'i teachings a number of areas which are potentially troublesome, the position on “moderation and dignity” (necessitating review and regulation) in regard to artistic endeavors being one. Others are women's reproductive rights (opposition to abortion and any birth control methods which might possibly involve destruction of a fertilized egg, even if only hours or days old), the fact that women are relegated to administrative positions in politics – never legislative or executive, the position that a combination of religion and politics (state religion) is a desirable thing, and an outdated, inaccurate position on homosexuality and gay rights being a few areas of concern. These positions could develop in various ways, I believe, if Baha'is ever gain some semblance of power in the world – they could become more restrictive and conservative, or they could develop into a more liberal and educated position. This depends on Baha'i leadership, and also on the Baha'i community. I think it is dangerous not to recognize the pitfalls that exist in Baha'i teachings, and the potential that exists for an eventual regime that would be inconsistent with an educated, democratic and egalitarian view of human society. The misunderstanding of “infallibility” is particularly troublesome.

    Baha'is need to have their thinking caps on, and not just be “sheeple” (a delightful term used here by Fubar? Peyam? – I forget who said it, but it's a great term), waiting passively to be herded to the next pasture. I believe that Baha'u'llah clearly saw the pitfalls in religion and wished to guide us away from those, but we are capable of falling into the same old traps and developing a rigid, irrational society capable of great injustice. We should never assume that we need do nothing, that the Baha'i community will develop toward justice without vigilance and effort on our part.

    I understand Amanda to say that there is potential for abuse, and that we need to be wary of that – and I concur with her on that point.

    Barb

  • Concourse on Low

    Barb, beautifully said!

  • http://bahaisonline.net Steve

    I agree, Amanda. There's a long history in the Baha'i Faith of the arts being restricted, with occasional periods when it has flowered (early twentieth century United States, for example). But those flowerings have generally been viewed with suspicion by Baha'i administrators. So far, so normal – probably part of the standard trajectory of religion movements.

    The point is that the put-downs experienced by artists are not simply individual and random and that the Baha'i writings and commentaries are replete with restrictions on the expression of art. That's how we got to the polarised position Sonja describes, where there's a large gap between the conformist art that the community and administration supports, and the diverse expressions of artists who are Baha'is.

    The quotes Sonja has chosen are great. Taken in isolation, they appear to give artists freedom to explore their ideas. However, there are plenty of more specifically art-related passages, some of which are quite authoritative, that appear to be quite restrictive and pro-censorship. We can't just wish those away or ignore them.

  • Craig Parke

    Yes. Very well said.

  • Craig Parke

    Oh, and by the way. I see no comment on here of what “art” is supposed to be? I thought the definition of art was encountering something in any medium of expression that is so stunning and well done that the encounter with it changes you. The encounter changes something in your core. Something in your soul. It shows you something that expands your consciousness and your awareness of what it means to be a human being. It could be a song, a dance, a stage play, a short story, a photograph, a motion picture, a stand up comedy routine. Many things you can encounter where something is being expressed.

    As far as I know all the blather and drivel in the Baha'i Faith about “art” is dry, pedantic, and devoid of all human feeling. Everything is reduced to the words of retired high school principals in an old folks home waiting to die. Always about as inspiring as accountants discussing double entry bookkeeping in a scheme to implement the paint-by-numbers Ruhiization of the entire world. Get born. Fill in the blanks as you are told to do. Die. But REAL “art” is something else by several orders of magnitude.

    The first mark of REAL art is to invoke cosmic power on some fractal level. And to invoke cosmic power in this unfolding World Age you have to be ACTUALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING. That is the first stage. Then you have to be REALLY GOOD AT SOMETHING as the second stage. Geting good at something is REALLY HARD and REQUIRES HARD WORK and STUDY. That eliminates a lot of people. And that especially eliminates a lot of people in the Baha'i Faith both as artists and anything else. You have to be studied, gifted, and know your craft. You have to do that from within your own God given self. Not in parroted, mindless, blind imitation, group think. All great art is TOTALLY ORIGINAL and UNIQUE. But it is built on study of the work and craft of others in that filed of expression.

    Let's take film. Here is a film that was shot at the esoteric level all about the Baha'i Faith and it went completely over the heads of the Baha'is because they just did not have the consciousness to understand what they were seeing. One of the most purely Biblical films of all time. But there was ZERO COMPREHENSION. (sigh)

    This was all said at 24 frames a second 32 years ago in 1978 in the Great Prophetic Dream of the Judgment of the United States that came out of the 1960's and the spiritual revelations of the catastrophe of the Vietnam War.

    “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people…”
    -Daniel 12:1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vw-Tyr6Rb6I

    “And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”
    - Isaiah 25:7

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4onhv63jom8

    But excellent artistic craft will find it's audience some time over the next 500,000 years.

    There will be many Stanly's now in the Archetypal traps without their boots ready everywhere on Earth. De Niro delivered the cosmic lines superbly! He is really, really good at what he does. He is an artist.

    Anybody know who “Michael” is despite all the Baha'i “scriptures” and letters from Shoghi Effendi's secretary's secretary's secretary's secretary while he was off hiking in the Alps?

    It's called art.

    Everyone have a nice weekend!

    Here is some more very good art!

    Peggy Lee makes it seem so effortless!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VscVP_Gt_s

    I'm all for “self” and “passion”! ESPECIALLY with those back-up singers! Screw dignity. The Church of Rock and Roll is the only actually functioning Word Religion at this time on Earth.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvSgUH0Wn-M

    Sure. Ronnie Wood is having a hard time lately. But he is really, really good at what he does. He is an artist.

    The people that really have the greatest actual power to change the world every day minute by minute are the stand up comedians. They are really the closest art form in life to being a “Manifestation of God” in direct contact with the vast levels of consciousness in the Universe. They deal in truth better than anyone else on Earth in their art. When they go on stage they are always being helped from direct contact with the other world. Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

    http://comedians.jokes.com/vanessa-hollingshead

    http://comedians.jokes.com/vanessa-hollingshead

  • Craig Parke

    Good morning everyone! Another day on the planet!

    Some more thoughts on “art”.

    My observation has been that to be really good at effecting fellow humans in their encounter with your consciousness as portrayed in your artistic craft you have to be playing three dimensional chess when the people who encounter you are just playing checkers. Sometimes you may be way ahead of your time in your consciousness, your craft, and your approach as is often the case. This is certainly true in the movie business. You must always have two levels in a feature film. Advanced and very skilled people of the craft try for at least three.

    As i posted, one of the best multi-level films I have ever studied is Michael Cimino's “The Deer Hunter”. An absolute tour de force completely over the heads of the entire world for the last 32 years. I don't think he himself ever realized the level he hit but I have a definite theory about how he did it. It involves how he scouted locations and formulated the “DREAM” of the script in the process. That and the four other screenwriters involved.

    I feel one of them had to certainly be a Seventh Day Adventist of some sort or a student of it. There is no other way to explain the famous Bingo Scene in the VA hospital. I wrote to him back in 1983 but never got a reply. I also learned from the movie studio back then that they never owned the shooting script themselves which was highly unusual back then. It was just a remarkable and unusual artistic effort in every way possible.

    But in 1983 I had not fully realized what he had gone through on the “Heaven's Gate” disaster. Anyone who knew EXACTLY what level they had reached on “The Deer Hunter” could have CERTAINLY named their next film “Heaven's Gate” as a very good choice! But NOT about the “Johnson Country” range wars!

    So I think his creative traveling technique as he in a sense “scouted” the script in both his mind and the physical region where it was set, led to blazing achievement in film making. A truly great and quite remarkable Allegorical film. Certainly one of the best Allegorical films ever made.

    I spent three years studying it traveling around to the various locations where it was shot just sitting and looking at the terrain of the shooting locations. I learned a lot about this creative mystical layering technique he somehow stumbled into by how the muse communicated with him in his travels. I took many notes back in the 80's on that very unusual potentially cosmic technique in creating a screenplay that he somehow discovered. All these years later I recently found this on YouTube that seems to corroborate my theory. Have any of you professional artists on here ever stumbled into an unusual technique in communicating with the muse that opened up pure insight to you on a level you had never before experienced in you work? It is a fascinating question. Every person I have ever met who has gotten a very good film made said they were definitely being a medium. I would love to hear how other's here may have experienced the muse in their work?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Fy2ukXfVVY

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1ovPVUa5HA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HMZsR6gBmo

    It is a fascinating topic of how we as human beings communicate with the Universe in the muse.

    It is getting out into the world under your own bottom up power to change the flow of the world yourself just like the Prophets who were INDIVIDUALS. It is cosmic union. It is never top down. It comes from the individual human consciousness. Not the group. It is to renew and edify our souls.

    It is called art.

  • Oscar Wilde

    As an ex-baha'i and an artist, I can say the actual culture in the baha'i community is completely unartistic. As Oscar Wilde put it, an idea that is not controversial is not an idea – therefore, in a baha'i context, only art that goes against the establishment me and Oscar would find to be actual art, whether you agree or not. As such, it would go through censorship. There are just too many limitations given by the administration especially, rather than the Prophet himself, who didn't seem so anti-art.

    This being said, despite Wilde's bold statement, there can be some perfectly unrebellious or even pro-establishment art. Good or bad that is, it is simply the atmosphere in the small baha'i community especially since Ruhi, that promotes MASS MEDIOCRE CREATIVITY pretty much like the web 2.0 does, which cannot be confused with real art, which is done by an elite of enlightened artists with talent superior to that of the commoner – that is why we call them artists or geniuses and they talk about them in encyclopedias and history books as socially relevant people while they don't talk about my bank employee uncle. People are divided in categories, noone is better or worse, we simply have different tasks – that of artists is to do something a non-artist can NEVER do, and it seems like the commoner, arrogant as he is (not that artists can't be arrogant…), has some problem with the fact that he cannot do everything other categories of people can, or doesn't understand the relevance of what others do and he doesn't and will never do or create. He constantly snobs and undervalues the importance of the work of true original artists, who are way more precious than my uncle in the context of a society. My uncle is replacable while original artists are unique. That's why they are MORE precious according to social reason. I'm not saying my uncle is useless, I'm saying that artists are GODDAMN IMPORTANT to a society even though most people today don't get it – because they're ignorant. It's not that all that people say or think is right. Truth has always been pertinent to an elite and never to the masses. Words of Goethe. No, it cannot be that Goethe was wrong while you, the average reader, are not. It can't be. It can only be that you're arrogant. This can very well be. It is impossible that you are NOT arrogant. Noone is not arrogant in present society. It's just the way it is in the social and historical context. You are arrogant and Goethe was right, period. Suck it.

    Since the baha'i community is very apparently democratic while being pretty much fascist (depriving artists the right to be considered more competent in the arts, for example), it is an environment unfertile to true art.

    But prepare for the most shocking, controversial, therefore probably correct, news. True art taking place inside the community would mean the baha'i faith would actually get known (the efforts of Ruhi and institutions are null compared to what a single good artist who gets popular can do as for promoting the faith, are they jealous? yes), and I don't think this is what the baha'i community IN TRUTH, let alone what is SAID, wants…almost as ashamed of their own religion, believers prefer to stay in their small island while others don't even know about them. It is just so beautiful and comfortable to be in that little island: baha'is do not really want to let others know of their faith, otherwise, they would act differently. No action in the baha'i community seems to indicate a mass will to expand. There are few enthusiasts while the others sleep. They became baha'i for themselves, definitely not for others.

    But yeah, the baha'i community is not inspiring for true artists. It is a fertile environment for cheap expressions of creativity that are not harmful, but neither a showcase of immense divine inspiration and talent (that is what artists do) let alone the aesthetic mission a real artist usually has. Artists suffer for their art, usually. Ruhi gifts made with scissors and glue are nice, but not Art in my book, neither Oscar Wilde's book, or Goethe's book. Maybe they were wrong and you, the great genious (the average arrogant reader who thinks Goethe is NOT smarter than himself), are right. Maybe NOT.

    I am used to the idiocy of people who deep down, without saying it, think Goethe is not smarter than them. The more I listen to them (which rarely happens), the more I praise Goethe and lose faith in the rest of humanity.

    Considering what is done at Ruhi “art” is offensive to art, culture, and intelligence. All I experienced in my baha'i communities (more than one) was exactly what happens in any other community right now: mediocrity triumphing over excellence. The same happens over Flickr and youtube, and high school classes. All mediocre people fear talented ones like hell. They underline their mediocrity, lack of inventivity and interest.

    The baha'i faith is NOT about “excellence in all things” right now, and it's not fault of the baha'i faith itself, rather of the members of the community, who can also not drink alcohool, which is good, but like all clueless masses, do harm to culture and therefore society without knowing.

  • Craig Parke

    Excellent post! Very much appreciated! I think you covered it all! The irony of it all is that a person who claims to “Prophethood” is the ultimate elitist individual and I have always thought THAT it is indeed right and proper! In the Kingdom of Ideas it is the individual who is the Sun. The individual is the Source. The group is most definitely NOT. But somehow this is lost on all “organized religions” when they hit the organizational group think top down tyranny stage. It is very sad because so many people expected something so much better this time out. Instead, it was the same old, same old. Top down neutered and sanitized Politburo spiritual communism.

    At various times in the history of the Baha'i Faith there have certainly been truly gifted unique artists in it. Seals and Crofts certainly come to mind. But that could never happen now in the top down micro managed paint-by-numbers deodorized Ruhiized Faith. Someone at the top might become upset that they used too many ninth and seventh chords. I for one just loved their chops! Truly world class! But fiddle music might upset the top down lifetime incumbent AO now.

    There is too much fear and self censorship in the Baha'i Faith now for it ever to attract any true world class talent. It is a pity. If they wold have just let the Faith breath and let Baha'u'llah be the Manifestation instead of Shoghi Effendi as the Supreme Manifestation of God for this World Age it could have really gone places in steady slow boat mode on pure ideas only. Not the completely over organized needless system of top down manipulated psychological frenzy that it became.

    But the powers of the unfolding World Age WILL most definitely go on and the planetary civilization will be born. The Internet now changes everything! The planetary electron is forming and the valence shells are the thoughts of human souls carried by fiber optic broadband around the planet SEVEN times a second in the digital time base encoded square wave! better things are coming in sheer artistry!

    I really enjoyed the World Cup game today broadcast globally and in the U.S. Sports have done far more to integrate the races than all the meetings the Baha'i have held for a hundred years!

    This is REAL progress. Congratulation to the team from Ghana in overtime! Both teams played the game very well today! The artistry of the game is to get the ball moving faster than any individual player moving to create the geometric space for a pack break on the goal in which an individual “artist” emerges for success! All the legs running cannot all kick the ball at the same time! There is wisdom in the artistry involved in success in the game!

    I wonder if any of the lifetime incumbent leadership in the Baha'i Faith these days has ever played a sport or a game of any kind to make any observations about the geometry of life and how things work that achieve success in anything? I wonder?

    So it goes.

    Pleased to meet you, Sir! I enjoyed your post immensely! Spot on!

    And this below link IS indeed Pure Artistry! There are many esoteric fractals for movie scripts of cosmic insight in this footage!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/26/world-

  • Craig Parke

    Here is what happens when REAL ARTISTRY with great accomplished skill is applied to actually doing something in the world! I always love to listen in Spanish! Much more energy for the game as a language than in English! This was Donovan's late game winning goal against Algeria!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/06/24/usa-wo

    Meanwhile, the Baha'is are holding another meeting somewhere in the world on the exact same Feast Letter subject as seventy-five years ago or smoking another Ruhi book on the crack pipe for the 102nd time with the exact same people who cannot actually get up off their fat bottoms and go out into the REAL WORLD and DO SOMETHING UNDER THEIR OWN (Tm) INDIVIDUAL GOD GIVEN POWER.

  • Oscar Wilde

    Not a fan of football but I must admit there can be serious artistry in there too.

    Group and individual – these two must be balanced. As you say God relies within the INDIVIDUAL, and reflects in a group from within the individuals…we could say the same about Satan, or various other demons! Therefore evil will always try to get his hold on a group and if the single sane individual in there isn't listened, it's all going to hell.

    Like many other groups of people, the baha'i community appears to be possessed. The youth seem to be fanatically brainwashed, and I could be talking about my immediate family too. I have tried to remain objective and neutral all the time. I do not agree with them and I do not consider them fully human. My criteria of human wants a human to be fully in control of his own mind. Most people I know are closer to my criteria of artificial controlled intelligence.

    There are so many funny experiences I had in the baha'i community I could write a book about it. Still I have no intention of hurting the entire community…it would be good to make individuals think though. By my understanding Baha'u'llah himself claimed to be the return of Krishna, the outstanding Hinduist prophet…well I have just been to a baha'i reunion (sometimes I do, so I can eat some of that good food, and see if things are improving – which they're not) and I have actually been mocked for mentioning Krishna and some of his unbeliavably good and valid teachings for the individual. I was absolutely not proselitizing, just in a normal conversation, I mentioned the “three modalities of action”, aka the three gunas, as Krishna did. I don't see how this can be bad: the Bhagavad Gita is still considered one of the wisest books on earth. In my understanding the baha'i faith isn't AGAINST such a book as it states Baha'u'llah and Krishna are the same PERSON. This is what Baha'u'llah says in his writings and whoever says otherwise seems to me to be sort of full of…

    Anyhow, not only me but also Krishna has therefore been mocked and laughed at by a so-called KNIGHT OF BAHA'U'LLAH. That's right. This authoritarian and tyrannical key figure in the baha'i community I visited in my opinion only caught the surface of the baha'i faith – all he talks about is the administrative order, and everything that is not the message of Baha'u'llah. He's definitely more a believer in the House of Justice and the National Spiritual Assemblies than Baha'u'llah himself. Like most baha'is I know.

    To be perfectly honest, he does talk about Baha'u'llah too, sometimes. But his permanent attitude is of snobbery towards whoever is not a baha'i and only a baha'i. That is such a contradiction since the baha'i faith says Krishna and Buddha are manifestations of God too. Am I saying something strange here?

    I understand the baha'i faith states Baha'u'llah is somewhat superior to Krishna and Buddha, still, according to baha'i criteria, mocking them or thinking they're not relevant and laughing at me out of jealousy for the fact everyone there was listening to me and not to him (that's the juice of it all) talking about the three gunas of Krishna, doesn't seem to me to be the “baha'i thing to do” and I suppose Shoghi Effendi even would agree with me.

    But what can you say. People are people.
    It is my convinction that spirituality is more an individual's task than a group's. There is a lot of ignorance in the baha'i community, as in any community…then what? I observe them, I don't mock them because it would do no good…I simply don't believe this is going anywhere and when I read the new messages of Ridvan, I slightly shake my head…this is crazy.

    I happened to be on this site which only says what is reasonable about the whole Ruhi method that is truly an obsession. I am glad to see I am not the only one thinking that method is stupid.

    Growing up in the baha'i faith made me extremely fearful towards having my own opinions. Actually it did both. It made me both a free thinker and someone who fears speaking out his opinions. Strange fact.

    All I can do is remain silent and observe. Right now I am very concerned about the future of Israel (as I think a war is approaching) and therefore the baha'i world centre…

    And art? Art is for intellectuals…
    Most baha'is are not so…This doesn't mean they deserve to die…this simply means that being intellectual is not a bad thing and that they're not…but today, it seems a lot of people seems to associate the intellect, the individual will, the moral strength of doing according to your own will and not follow the sheeple, with EVIL.

    By being possessed by some sort of monstrous abstract entity, they confuse good with evil, and evil with good contributing to what is generally referred to as social apocalypse, that is, impossibility of the best people around to be fully accepted and considered in their true value (that is why they'd deserve to die ;) )

    What kind of brainwashing can make one so confused? The same brainwashing I received since childhood beginning with my own family. It is only a metter of coincidence and divine grace that I am now a free-thinking individual with chances of developing true art…I earned this through great sweat and tons of experiences my family had little role in. Buy I live in a country where people stay home with their families till forty years of age…how can you expect them to not be brainwashed and to be better than their parents in intellect and reason. They'll always and forever believe their parents are pretty much the rightest and wisest thing around. Never getting a chance to realize they could have been WRONG all around (essential stage of personal progress if you ask me). People mindlessly act like it is absolutely indisputable that the purpose of EXISTENCE is to ADAPT and make society happy, never ever daring going against it (that would be losing)…all great minds and rebels are nothing to them…the comfortable sofa person is to them, irrationally of course, a superior human being to follow. They don't question that even when invited, therefore, they will never think Socrates was a cool guy, actually they would mock him as a loser, one who did not succeed in adapting to society…freed from reasonable evaluation criteria…not realizing whoeever DOESN'T adapt has to be called a hero, and the others in comparison have no social relevance and don't deserve to be praised as much as Socrates does. Still they arrogantly rumble and judge everything and everyone, like they were some sort of kings…having failed their purpose in life, having broken the tiniest connection with their soul…they onyl live to ANNOY and disturb the true human beings in their quest for self-realization, which has nothing to do with SOCIETY. They fail to realize than when we die in ten, twenty, or thirty years time, there won't be any society, there won't be France, China, or Brasil…that identifying with non eternal things was the worst mistake they have ever done. Let alone the immense damage they have done to people around them, and to things eternal such like freedom, art, compassion, understanding. If justice exists, they'll have to face the fury of these eternal things.

    Selling the soul first to society, then to money, then to ignorance…hating anything that is not ignorance and mindless adaptation to society, to the extent that if everyone goes crazy and kills himself, they follow because what others do is their lord…exactly the same thing I used to do when I was eight years old, and not even then…so they keep going until the end of their days.

    The very first thing an individual/child is terrified of is solitude…until one has such a fear, one never becomes a well rounded individual with a mind of his own. He will stay a child, therefore not possessing any relevant personality or opinions that should be considered in our quest for Truth. I live in a country so shaped. But never, never tell them they might not be PERFECT, divine beings of absolute authority despite their lack of basic experiences. That is crazytalk, to them.

    Culturally, most baha'is I have known all around the planet seemed to be part of the same social and economic chaste. They all had pretty much the same income (or their parents did…) and a tendency to not like getting their hands dirty. They like being clean like old borguese women. They never paint. They never philosophize. They don't talk art like the elite does. The problem here is that THEY CONSIDER THEMSELVES AN ELITE. They care a lot about appearance and status. Never met a poor baha'i, except in Albania. They were nice. But not because they were baha'is. They were nice because they were nice humble people.

    It is the baha'i community brainwashing that makes you think Baha'i = special, and the result is that a lot of baha'i youth are mama boys. I used to think that too. I used to think I was special, not because I was me, but only and exclusively because I was a baha'i. My baha'i friends believed that if I'm not a baha'i anymore, then I have zero value. That is not very tolerant. That is also plain wrong. They think the same about themselves, too. If you take their faith off, they're nothing.

    This is not spiritual maturity. This is spiritual childhood.
    Mature individuals obviously abandon such a community and get on their own spiritual path. If one wants to remain a baha'i while not accepting everything the community does, like the author of this blog seems to do, I respect that. Personally I think one has to move on beyond definitions. Baha'i is fine, until it's not fanatical – and most religious communities tend to be fanatical.

    I can see many former baha'is comment on this site and still have some sort of attachment or attempt to figure out what happened with their baha'i experience. And I'm one of those. I still cannot believe what happened. In year 1998 I was around fifteen years old and it was all about the “arts” (ahem) and youth dance workshops. Now, that is not culturally extraordinary. It was actually a spit over the very concepts of culture and true art. Even at my young age I could realize there was something culturally and socially wrong in what we were doing despite we were claiming it was all good – no, it was not. I was one of the few in the group with an actual artistic talent that was continuously and obsessively restrained and forgotten and uncared of or even mocked. My impressive ability to draw for a kid that age was almost HATED by the leaders of the workshop that thought my talent only meant TROUBLE for their established tried and true MEDIOCRITY IN ALL THINGS, which they seemed to fight for with great energy making me wonder if they actually realized the difference between something that was well done and something badly done – how is that so difficult, I would ask myself. Also, how can you talk about “excellence in all things” with such sad, unartistic, unstylish show we were doing? It was utterly kitch. All they were repeating is that the spirit mattered over technique, yeah, right, until my reason says no. I am a non-technical artist rather an instinctive one, still…

    It was everything but excellent. Hilarious, yes. Fun to watch, yes. Entertaining to star in, yes. Adorable, yes. But not excellent and not an expression if HIGH spirit in any way.

    Silent and humble, I did my job: living the experience, observing the people, questioning the dynamics of the event, and having plain fun, while being aware that my drawing was far superior, artistically, and also spiritually if we liked, to that ****, and that since there was no way they would tell me that, I'd have to be patient and await appreciation not, while grateful for my talent was a fact, and the envy of the “leaders” obvious.

    The “lack of appreciation” did not anger me at all compared to what would happen to the baha'i community RIGHT AFTER: the advent of the Ruhi methodology, which I was nominated to be facilitator of.
    Once again almost noone appreciated my efforts to try to fit which were made every day more difficult. Again I was silent and unassuming: I never thought Ruhi was actually good, but I was ready to give it a chance.

    What am I saying here? This: despite its shortcomings, the baha'i youth workshop era in the 90s was the flag of an atmosphere of excitement, unity, somehow still present respect for each other, love even though in basic form, and ENERGY in the community. The young people were loving the baha'i community for offering such experience of LIFE, baha'i or not that it was. This is exactly the same thing that happens in other communities! Christian, school communities…I do not think it is exclusive of the baha'i faith.

    That experience was formative and relevant to me and the other participants. I have met baha'is of around my age all around the world agreeing with that. We all have good memories.

    The same people are often disappointed of how the community has become. Ruhi is CRAZYTALK. Everything about it has already been said.

    The energy and good things of the 90s era is GONE.
    What prevails now in the community is prejudice, bigotry, brainwashing and closed mindedness and other things that will PREVENT the community from getting a hold on the rest of the world. Ruhi was the main tool for spreading this culture of closed mindedness through the entire community worldwide. Hearing my former baha'i friends speaking gives me the chills.

    If the baha'i faith finds success, it will be by my great surprise and I do not think it will be thanks to Ruhi, rather for political reasons. Right now I can only think Ruhi is part of an intentional plan to NOT let the community expand, MASKED as a plan to do otherwise. Sounds basic to me! Why would the baha'i community want to AVOID expansion? Because it's dangerous to the estabilished power within it. The more people the more it would be difficult to make them shut up and swallow Ruhi, especially in the west. And we know Ruhi is the essential mind-numbing, brainwashing tool that nothing has to do with spiritual growth. Also, selfish people don't give a damn if the faith expands. It's more than enough for them to be leaders of five million people who follow them blindly. It's all a farse. In facts all the await for is political power. Why else it would be prohibited for believers to be involved in politics? Only the UHJ has to have some political influence. It is obvious it is all about control, and it is easy to figure out as the baha'i faith is so small. These dynamics might be more difficult to grasp in the christian or muslim community, if ever, but in this numerically little religion, it is clear like water. It was AWFUL for me to realize how corrupted even my safe island/home religion is, yet, it is too evident for me to deny it. I saved myself from being TOTALLY brainwashed – for some of my friends, it is way too late, and maybe they'll never shake themselves off – they confuse brainwashing with FAITH, selfishness with sacrifice.

    I'll make a bold statement. They say the baha'i faith is member of the New World Order POLITICAL FASCISM plan. I say: probably. All data seems to lead to that. Therefore, Craig, when you talk about the “New Age”, I am actually concerned about what that means.

    If new age means doing the interests of a few selfish individuals, this is no good for all the others. And it is very possible that the best artists, individuals and geniuses are in the OTHERS and will therefore be suffucated for the sake of power.

    It seems clear to me that the house of justice members are NOT humble individuals rather corrupt selfish ones. As easy as that. There is corruption in the local assemblies, and minor consultation groups, how can we think the UHJ is intact. I do not trust its “infallibility”, no, I have a brain. If this is worthy of punishment to God, fine! I am doing my best to guess what is right opposite to wrong. If it wrong I will learn. Saying the UHJ is INFALLIBLE is obviously a control and fear technique. I really think Baha'u'llahs writings have been ALTERED but some selfish people. Even when the faith basically didn't exist yet, Baha'u'llah was ALREADY disappointed by the selfishness of those who proclaimed to be his followers! Therefore it is unrealistic to think that the current baha'i administration, especially the higher ones, are free from corruption and the selfish motives of its members, and to think that ALL genuinely serve Baha'u'llah the way he would have liked. They can do whatever they want, they should just do it in their homes and not with an entire community.

    Art, freedom, beauty, truth, love, unity in diversity, fighting evil, the current baha'i community seems to me to be NOT friends of. Exactly the same thing we can say about most governements and ALL human communities in these times beginning with FAMILIES.

    It is therefore evident that we're going through a time of artistic and intellectual obscurantism just as predicted by Orwell. We have the means, such as technology, but we don't know how to use it. “Art” today seems to be limited to:

    - contemporary art, which basically is toilets sold for millions of dollars just like that italian artist proved
    - advertising, which is not art
    - consumer movies and videogames, that usually aren't art since they're made mainly for money
    - struggling unknown artists appreciated by an elite, since the mass is way less capable to understand something better than Lady Gaga as it used to in the 19th century

    Art has always been a mean for REVOLUTION. Artists are keen to be considered “crazy” by inferior people exactly because they do not like the current establishment. This is crazy according to a mediocre's point of view who believes contemporary regular life is GOOD.

    If a person believes our world pretty much WORKS, that there isn't much to CHANGE, that people are all beautiful and do no harm to others, then that is one person I cannot reason with. We simply disagree on the basics of life in the universe. We cannot agree on anything else.

    My view is pretty simple and is this: we're going through the darkest of ages and we haven't seen the worst yet. The worst is soon to come. I really hope computers and electricity will stay as I use them to do my work. The baha'i faith is NOT unaffacted by the “demons” of this time. It is corrupt top to bottom like any other commercial, governamental, non governamental, financial, or volunteer organization. This does not prove the faith is WRONG, though. It could be totally or partially true still. Without a destructive process there is no way man can regain his reason, appreciation of good, including arts, culture, mass intellect, etcetera. We need to start blank.

    Organized religions could be a tool but they seem to create more problems than they solve.

    Many scientists seem to believe man is doomed by this century. I prefer not to think so. I want to believe man will stay but probably we'll lose a lot of them in the process. After such drama, life in society will be worth living again.

    For now, I'll stay quiet and on my own, watching these barbarians destroying all that I believe to be right and true, with heart broken but hope never lost – and in the impossibility to be one of them even if I tried. Grateful to God for that since I do not believe they're nice to look at.

    Sooner or later, they'll lose.

  • Craig Parke

    OW,

    My kudos to you, brother! This is probably one of the best posts up on here in the last few years. It is broad, wide, and deep. You have hit the nail on the head across the board on the entire cosmic catastrophe that has happened to the once great hope of the Baha'i Faith. The entire system is now corrupt to the core and is attracting massively psychologically dysfunctional people in droves. I, myself, believe the jury is still out. I believe the good in the Sufi insights of the Kitab-I-Iqan could yet find life in about 500 years as various generations encounter the Writings of Baha'u'llah and then observe the organizational catastrophe of the Administrative Order that made Shoghi Effendi into Almighty God in one of the worst cases of naked psychological idolatry anyone could ever discover. The destruction of human organizations are now all well know as Fubar posted today.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupthink

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scapegoat

    To these I would also add these mechanisms of insight and analysis:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_proj

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_anal

    All the psychological transactions in the Administrative order of the Baha'i Faith now are shockingly predatory. It is really shockingly brutal and completely immoral. After almost 40 years in the Faith in 32 years of dedicated service I could never be part of something so shameful. I will go out of this world back in my Sufi-Buddhist roots. Yes. I loved the Bhagavad Gita too.

    It appears the people in the Baha'i Faith now are very materialistic and Earth bound. It all seems ideologically driven in a brain chemistry addiction of some sort. These are the same kind of indoctrinated brainwashed people that once followed Stalin, Hitler, or Chairman Mao. The kind of psychological profile in people that use to join the Soviet Communist Party as the solution for all of the problems of life. It is all very, very strange. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this could have ever been possible to happen! In all the undergr9und discussion on the Internet the inter-dimensional bleed over demonic entity theory seems to be very popular! Some Satanic entity has taken over the Faith due to the great personal psychological weakness of the souls that have attained lifetime incumbency in their gamed elections little lifetime ITC-UHJ country club. People who seek psychological self definition through their “identity” in an organization are very unstable people. very, very strange and, yes, dangerous people as was witnessed from 1933-1945. Any freshman psychology student could see what is wrong with the current version of the Haifan Baha'i Faith after one semester of study. So things could eventually change as the electorate becomes more aware in the Internet age. I will never live to see a change but you may in your lifetime. The Internet is now going to be a huge factor as to the course of future events.

    You are a first rate thinker and you are right. there is no place for a person like you in the Baha'i Faith of today. They want what Hitler wanted. Blind automatons for the new armies to be sent wherever they say and used in any way they say! Like you, I am not buying ANY of it. These people at the top of the Baha'i Faith and their entire families can go to hell for what they have done and I believe they will. Their heads will end up on poles in world history. The Baha'is of the future will see it as a profound Archetypal warning. The last saga of “clergy” in the bullet to the head in the saga of the dark side psychological “shadow” Abrahamic religions. We have to go through this before the rank and file people of the world can start to let the scene breathe as they say in the film business and get on with the development of a true democratic planetary civilization which will indeed come despite what the hapless Baha'is do.

    As to anything I mean regarding the term “New World Age” – do not fear – you will have to read these books in your lifetime to understand what I mean. We are going through a time of Archetypal Judgment. This is EXACTLY what Baha'u'llah was saying loud and clear in the Kitab-I-Iqan. I thought THAT UNDERSTANDING was what the Baha'i Faith was all about. But apparently Shoghi Effendi didn't get the highest level of the truly cosmic message? He was apparently not at that level of insight. It is very strange. If he had seen it that way I think his life would have been a lot easier. He micromanaged and over managed everything. It did not have to be nearly that hard. Let the scene breathe…

    Hamlet's Mill
    http://phoenixandturtle.net/excerptmill/santill

    Cosmos and Psyche
    http://www.cosmosandpsyche.com/

    Prometheus the Awakener
    http://www.amazon.com/Prometheus-Awakener-Arche

    The Temple of Man
    http://circulartimes.org/The%20Temple%20of%20Ma

    I saw where Peter Khan essentially said in one of his “Wehrmacht” 1933 speeches that all esoteric thinking in the Baha'i Faith is now forbidden! I guess any such level of thinking is now completely against the Covenant and such thinkers will surely end up on the trains to the re-education camps when he drives up to the White House in a tank! So any of the cosmic knowledge in these books will never be permitted in the Baha'i communities now and that is a true advantage for everyone else to prevail. People that understand esoteric levels of knowledge will get their movies made, their books published, and their projects to help the world on the material and spiritual plane funded.

    In your lifetime the fate of the world will hinge on insight into planetary economics and nuclear weapons in the hands of embittered arrogant Islamic terrorists. The current version of the Baha'i Faith is doing nothing in the realm of economic thought because it has no thinkers. Thinkers are no longer permitted in it. People will go elsewhere. The mindset of Islamic terrorists is just not going to help any other “messages” of anything from the Middle East. It is a PR nightmare as bad as what BP is facing. The only insightful choice is to promote the Sufi ways of understanding. I think the BAO will begin to understand that in about 500 years. But definitely not any time soon with people like this at the helm.

    Meanwhile, let there be esoteric ART everywhere!

    Daniel 12:1-3 (New International Version)
    The End Times
    1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise [a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

    Isaiah 25:6-7 (New International Version)

    6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
    a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.

    7 On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
    the sheet that covers all nations;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdlqob1QtM

    Matthew 25: 1-13

    The Parable of the Ten Virgins

    1″At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

    6″At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'

    7″Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'

    9″ 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'

    10″But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

    11″Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'

    12″But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

    13″Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lb7wd3Jfw1A

    (Film insight alert regarding THE DREAM of this film in the above and below ending scenes. There are FIVE FINGERS on a HAND…)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Gqit3zVmyc

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiery_furnace

    PS
    If you are Italian and writing outside of your native language you are very accomplished in your level of insight and communication. If I ever get $135 million dollars behind one of my movie scripts, I am going to say they find you to give you a job working on it! Absolutely spot on! Never waver in being true to your own mind! Every blessing upon you! Stay original and keep on thinking! Your post was very much appreciated. There may yet be hope on this planet that somebody, somewhere is indeed thinking for themselves! This is dangerous, dangerous stuff!

  • Amanda

    Baquia,

    I'm sorry to hear you don't find that censorship is “excessive.” So, you find *a little* censorship okay? Or, do you just not find banning certain types of expression to be censorship? Which ones should we do without?

    Why is it you find the passage from The Book of Laws to be “not a law?” Just curious.

    I am not a Muslim, you must be confusing me with someone else. I am, in fact, an atheist who was raised Baha'i from a Baha'i family. And of course I do not agree with you that the idea of avoiding representation of Muhammad or Baha'u'llah or any other person because it is “idolatrous” isn't censorship. It's obviously censorship. And what's more, it seems idolatrous to me to view these figures in such a way that simply representing them is considered an offense.

    If you believe review is anachronistic and have confidence it's irrelevance is, in part, due to online publishing, does that mean you will no longer feel the need to publish this blog under a pen-name? I think you probably are aware you would likely lose your voting rights if your real name was known. Censorship.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    Sonja, here's the reference you asked for:

    “The use of light, either of great intensity or in different colours, needs your careful consideration. If the use of light in any way at all suggests a personification of the Manifestation of God it should not be used, but if it can be done without in any way giving the impression that the Prophet is being represented or personified then there is no objection to its use.”

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 12, 1975)

    There's no such thing as a “culture neutral environment.” “Moderating” ones “artistic expression” so as “not to offend”…….is called censorship. I just find is disingenuous to try and call it anything else. Again, freedom of expression was the necessary component of creation of art, right? Let's not do cognitively dissonant back-flips here.

    I think you need to consider the passage from the Aqdas (and subsequent musical remarks by 'Abdu'l-Baha) in light of Islamic discourses on music at the time. And even since. Think about the fact that the IRI has used similar rhetoric in banning certain types of music and certain vocalists for the very reasons Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha suggest, while promoting other “benign” forms of music. Context counts here.

    Thanks Concourse on Low, Barb, Steve, & Craig.

  • edwardlewis97

    Bahaism is not a religion but it is an espionage organization working for Israeli Government

  • http://bahaisonline.net/tcb/?p=543 Steve Marshall

    Hi Sonja,

    You wrote

    “I am only aware of two countries in the world ever applying review to the arts and that is the U.S. and the U.K.”

    You'll need to add NZ to the list:

    “Bring thyself to account each performance”
    http://bahaisonline.net/tcb/?p=543

  • Amanda

    One thing I forgot to say yesterday, in regards to rhapsodist…

    I don't think the restrictions on speech and which forms of expression are acceptable or not in Baha'i literature and practice (censorship) have anything to do with artistic discipline as you have suggested. Of course artists require discipline and craft. That is what *art* means.

    This “moderation” isn't training, virtuosity, and selection done by an artist, it is censorship by authority about what the *content* of the art can be.

  • Oscar Wilde

    Cheers man, thanks for your comment and the videos, which I have most appreciated – I've never seen that movie, but looks very interesting.

    You know what, if you like, I'd like to continue the conversation via email…I'm not sure how we can proceed.
    Maybe someone can tell someone to call that one and ask someone I know to give me your email? That is the problem with comments on the web without a personal profile…better privacy, less emailing.

    If you think of something let me know. Maybe you have a supplementary email or something.

    I am not giving people mine here. Please understand.

    It would be a pleasure, also because you have a baha'i background and there are still baha'i things I need to sort out and still haven't for I haven't got a chance.

    You came close to guess my country but not exactly.
    Let me know!

  • Oscar Wilde

    As I inserted my email address to comment, you could ask the site's owner to extract it and send it to you – I give you permission, Baquia, to send my email address to this single person, Craig. So you'd get my email by her. Jeez, it's complicated.

  • fubar

    re: Rhap said ” So I don't see how moderation or discipline really prevent creativity”

    From the inner viewpoint, which is usually defined as some form of “self responsibility” by conservatives/traditionalists, you are correct.

    However, from a liberal/progressive (or bohemian) perspective, which is defined as an “exterior” viewpoint in integral theory, where evil (and the need to overcome it) is usually located in social structures/systems, IMPOSED moderation is not going to be interpreted as any form of “freedom”. On the contrary. Social (religious) rules that restrict the individual artist are almost invariably going to be seen as contrary to freedom of expression.

    As was well stated in this thread by Barb, CoL, and Amanda, the real problem is that haifan bahai culture is obsessive/compulsive about propaganda (“teaching”) and missionary conversion. As a side effect, a perfectionist model is in place that creates “false unity” (M. Scott Peck) and then other dysfunctional forms of organizational culture. Haifan bahaism has the usual constellation of absolutisms that go along with authoritaian religious culture.

    The problem from an “outside”, or “big picture” perspective, is that haifan bahaism is hostile to the kinds of open dissident, nonconformance and critical analysis that is assumed by “bohemian” art.

    haifan bahai bureaucracy is traditionalist, conservative and “bourgeois”, and thus will tend to see “freedom of expression” as usually understood by bohemian/liberal/progressive (and/or libertarian, anarchist, etc.) artists as being “dangerous” to the maintenance of the kinds of rules/roles that traditionally define collective identity and ethics/morals in a religious community.

    I do not think there is any question that there is in inherent tendency for most “bahai” artists to self-censor in order to negotiate the tensions and conflicts between the values of bohemian art culture and those of haifan bahai administrative culture.

    those tensions/conflicts are rooted in events that are now generally very old (100+ years), and part of the reactions set in motion by romanticism (anti-bourgeois ideas and movements).

    in postmodern culture, the boundries between bohemian and bourgeois perspectives has become very blurred. specifically, many bourgeoisie (new rich capitalists) want to imitate the “cool” factor in bohemian culture. or falsely appropriate it into advertising and other “commercial” forms of art (sneered at by purist bohemians).

    an integral ethos would of course attempt to “honor the truths” of both perspectives, while also recognising each's limitations. this is usually referred to as the principle of “transcend and include” in integral (holistic) theory.

    bahai scripture obviously incorporates a form of “transcend” (including detachment from ego, etc.), but has a large problem matching up with integralism in the “inclusion” and “tolerance” aspects.

    liberal and progressive bahais tend assume a high degree of “inclusion” (postmodern pluralism) in their religious values, but in reality, bahai scripture is contradictory. on one hand, tolerance and inclusion are promoted as part of conversion and missionary propaganda. on the other, conformism is valued for its ability to create a strong internal ethical/moral incentive structure.

    unfortunately the haifan bahai “strict daddy” mentality (discipline, order, authority, moral structure) has become highly authoritarian, and dysfunctional, leaving out, or marginalizing, the more bohemian, “free expression” perspective. (note that reformers that promote the aspects of bahai scripture that embrace the “divine feminine”, and Mashriq, have been persecuted by “rogue” elements of the authoritarian administration).

    I would be very surprised if any bahai artist that energetically embraces postmodern pluralism AND relativism in their work, expecially if that work was, *GASP*, actually critical of the “authoritarian” status quo in the haifan bahai community, would be tolerated for very long.

    in an ideal world, a religious culture would somehow be able to see these two perspectives (meme systems) as part of a larger whole, and in a state of *complementarity*, not tension or conflict.

    in other words, conservative emphasis on “self responsibility” and the “liberal” need for “structural reforms” (social/economic/political justice) would be compatible within the culture.

    there would be real “tolerance”, inclusion, and “complementarity”.

    ironically, the haifan UHJ (or somebody that writes their “infallible” letters in the secretariat) already told bahai scholars to “contribute” to integrative paradigms that have emerged in (“outside”) non-bahai culture. (scholarship letter to Dr. Susan Maneck, historian)

    However, there has been no significant movement toward integral (integrative) paradigms within the haifan bahai community as far as I can tell.

    The reality is that outmoded bahai metaphysics is a huge boat-anchor that prevents movement toward the kind of holistic or integral perspectives needed to bring together the “interior” (moral) perspectives of conservatives with the “tolerance”, “inclusion” and “pluralism” typical of “exterior” liberal-progressive values.

    So, the defenders of authoritarianism find themselves in the counterproductive position of fighting off inclusion and tolerance (postmodernism) when they it as threatening the “moral structure”.

    Critics of authoritarianism, including artists, are in a position of significant disadvantage as far as power is concerned.

    Kalimat Press was used to set an example of how anyone that gets exposure to large numbers of people in the haifan bahai community while supporting dissent, criticism or nonconformance will be severly marginalized, if not kicked out.

    have a nice day!

    Standard disclosure: I'm almost an atheist (I do not believe in the conventional definition of “prophets”), and an ex-bahai. I'm currently probably closer to being a buddhist than anything.

  • fubar

    haifan bahaism has a general problem with “integrity” and “authenticity”.

    put another way, it tends to be dishonest, and there is a lack of trust.

    dishonest, distrustful art is usually seen by people as being “fake”, or “shallow”.

    of course there is a lot of fake, shallow “art” that panders to certain sentiments very successfully.

    “bahai art” that goes in that direction however is going to create huge contradictions.

  • fubar

    OW,

    I agree with a lot of what what you say. I'm also an ex-bahai, but a populist. I grew up in an artistic family, so I am a nonconformist by nature.

    However, I disagree with some of your elitism. It seems overly narrow.

    Bankers used to be important (see Wendell Berry). They had an important political role in small communities, and enshrined compassion and altruism in their support of collective values. The classic example is providing seed money to family farmers.

    Capitalism has certainly descended to new lows, but so has socialism.

    Neither have much authenticity anymore.

    Habermas' statement that (paraphrased) “systems colonize lifeworld” seems to get more at the heart of what is actually “wrong” with the world.

    As an integralist, I see the benefits of mass production and capitalism: workers are initially liberated by technology, but then as things go on over time, there is a huge loss of valuing and appreciation for things made by traditional methods, by hand, and so forth.

    The problem that romanticism has is that it ends up in paradigm regression (absolutism, purity myths, deformed versions of protest, Jungian “shadows”).

  • fubar

    OW,

    haifan bahaism = cultural imperialism

    you have started to liberate yourself, so you will become an enemy of haifan bahai conformists. many people have taken the path you are on, and can support your journey. you are not alone.

    many enlightened people have moved far, far beyond the cultural limitations built into bahaism.

    example: world network of 1,000,000 non-profit organizations (ecology, social justice, etc.)

    http://www.wiserearth.org/

    Here is one such organization. Note that the myth of “one underlying religion” is debunked in favor of a more open consideration of different approaches to spirituality: see “Four Paths Four Destinations “

    http://www.vastsky.org/Audio_Video.html

    In addition to the excellent stuff said by Barb, Baquia, Sonja, Craig, CoL, Amanda, and Steve (and any others I've forgotten to mention) have said about dissent:

    haifan bahaism has deeply descended into fundamentalism and authoritarianism. it is “paradigm regressive”. it is conformist and encourages absolutism. dissidents and critics are marginalized and attacked. there is a pattern of attacks on non-orthodox ideas that goes back to attacks on Mazandarani and Louis Gregory (before WWII).

    the termination of ismael velasco's online bahai scholarship journal is the most recent case of egregious conforism and blatant censorship I'm aware of. see http://oj.bahaistudies.net/

    shoghi effendi and abdul-baha were wrong about lots of stuff. abdul-baha was clueless about hinduism and buddhism.

    the very idea of “progressive revelation” is problematic in many ways, especially when compared to advances from evolutionary theory and consciousness studies.

    the real problem in the world (at the leading edge) is not the “usual evils” cited in bahaism: materialism/rationalism, but rather BOOMERITIS, or the “mean green meme”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomeritis

    excerpt:

    The concept of Boomeritis

    According to Wilber, “Boomeritis” describes a pathological belief system that afflicts Baby Boomers in particular [and their children!!!]. Boomeritis, in his view, is characterized by relativism, narcissism, and aversion to hierarchy. He believes that this attitude carried over to the so-called Generation X.

    Wilber intended the novel to exhibit the traits of extreme post-modernism — irony, self-reference, noetic flatness — and thus to function as a literary reductio ad absurdum, assisting people, especially Baby Boomers, in overcoming the post-modern mentality.

    The actual book “Boomeritis”:
    http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/boomerit

    http://www.clarewgraves.com/articles_content/19

    Clare Graves:
    “Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as an individual's existential problems change. Each successive stage, wave, or level of existence is a state through which people pass on their way to other states of being. When the human is centralized in one state of existence, he or she has a psychology which is particular to that state. His or her feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning system, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, conceptions of and preferences for management, education, economics, and political theory and practice are all appropriate to that state.” C. Graves, “Summary Statement: The Emergent, Cyclical, Double-Helix Model of the Adult Human Biopsychosocial Systems,” Boston, May 20, 1981.

    Artistic renderings of the above:

    http://www.formlessmountain.com/collage.html
    -
    http://www.formlessmountain.com/aqal.htm

    http://www.esalenctr.org/display/confpage.cfm?c

    excerpt:

    Transformative Practices
    An Esalen Invitational Conference
    November 28 – December 2, 1999
    Human Change Processes

    Constructivism has roots in both Eastern and Western philosophies. It is related to evolutionary epistemology (Popper, Don Campbell) as well as complexity studies (chaos, self-organizing, autopoeisis, dissipative structures of Prigogine). A lot of the recent intellectual climate has tended to deconstruction, which can be destructive. Michael loves Wilber's comment that the deconstructive post-modernists are driven by the

    [***] Tag Team from Hell: Nihilism and Narcissism.

    Hence, he is trying to work from a more constructive post-modern platform.

    The five main themes of constructivism as he sees it:

    Human beings are active, anticipatory agents in their own experience and development. They are not just reactive like a Newtonian object.
    The majority of our efforts go into organizing experience — seeking and constructing order. This is predominantly tacit, automatic, and emotionally motivated.
    Self-relational — Construction of the self is a process, much like a scaffolding. Limited ideas of identity are impediments to transformation; people will become stuck with an idea, a diagnosis, a disorder, or a developmental history and no longer see it as possible to live in any other way.
    Social-symbolic — Development takes place embedded in human relationships and includes charged emotional bonds, language, culture. The power of language has both positive and negative attributes. It allows us to fix things in certain categories, but life doesn't exist in packets.
    Dynamic dialectical development — We are always growing, if only to maintain our sense of coherence as a system. Development can be thought of as the non-linear emergence of new forms through the active interaction of contrasts.
    Humans are thus embodied theories of self & world, seeking a Sisyphian balance — a “dynamilbria” — between old and new activity patterns. Dynamilibria refers to a moving balance, which is different than the static balance typical of equilibria. Michael uses Sisyphus as a metaphor because we never quite get there; we are always leaning into the next moment. A major contention of constructivists is that novelty is necessary for development. We need new perspectives and experiences to keep exploring that edge. Too little novelty –> no change. Too much –> systemic contraction or a lack of functioning. All living systems have a natural and healthy resistance to change. We can only take so much change at one time. The long term view resembles respiration, with cycles of breathing in and out.

    The main question for Michael is how we can help structure individually paced challenges that honor the current coherence needs of an individual while also presenting opportunities for experimentation and new ways of being. This is much easier said than done. It happens moment to moment in therapy. It happens in phases in relationship — opening and closing.

    Evolutionary processes are usually described as external to us, but internal psychological patterns reflect those same evolutionary processes. The essence of Darwinian evolution involves three things: variation, selection, and retention. The psychospiritual analogues are creative exploration or flexibility (variation), virtue (selection), and practice (retention). Development is a process of continuous edging. One fact emerging from recent studies in neurosciences is that variability precedes the next step in development. Chaos is thus a good thing at times. Some scientists even suggest that the brain creates chaos as a means of identifying patterns.

    This approach excites him because it depathologizes disorder and disorganization. So much of our culture has been orderly and fearful of disorder. From a complex systems perspective, episodes of disorder are a necessary and healthy expression of an open system. In fact, he thinks it is odd how we label some psychological patterns “disorders” when they are, in fact, marked by excessive order.

  • fubar

    Amanda,

    Very well said!

    Thanks

  • Amanda

    Fubar,

    Thanks!

    Amanda

  • Rhapsodistnine

    Thanks for

  • rhapsodist

    When moderation becomes censorship rather than a tool that allows the creative forces to operate freely and with increased power, regardless of where this so-called “moderation” comes from, it is the deathnell of the artist.

    To clarify, I agree with you on all counts.

    As a currently active “Baha'i” – whatever that means – and an actively practicing artist, I view any form of restriction as counter to the very idea of being a society aspiring to be all-inclusive and all-embracing.

    What I haven't experienced is censorship within the context of my life and the Baha'i community. In my endeavors as a musician, actor, and writer, nobody in any of the communities I've lived in, much less any LSA, has attempted to restrict or repremand me for the work I've done.

    (Edit: While I haven't experienced direct censorship, I can attest to experiencing the dangerous and annoying issue of people teaching moderation to mean all the things we here in this forum disagree with. I think most if not all of us here agree what we think moderation should NOT be. And I think that gets taught as moderation in many communities, both 'Baha'i' and 'non-Baha'i'. So I see that aspect of censorship more as a global problem rather than a Baha'i problem.

    As this is new territory for me, I can only comment on my own experiences, which are limited to how to apply moderation as a tool of artistic freedom.

    And Amanda, thanks for sharing this particular concern of yours with everybody here. It's an issue very close to me and my life, so it's nice to see other people talking about it in an open forum where we can bounce ideas around.

  • rhapsodist

    Thanks for your thoughts, fubar.

    Thinking over what you've said… what I feel moderation “is” vs. what people often practice in their lives in the guise of “moderation” are probably two very different things.

    So it's true that while that I don't feel that moderation and discipline prevent creativity, I do see how people can engage in certain activities, calling them moderation and discipline, and thus stifle creativity.

  • Craig Parke

    OW,

    Sorry i could not reply until now. I have been on a huge project at work (I am a software engineer) that goes live in July. I had to get out of the woods which I did. But it has been hell. 12 hour days. 15 hour weekends. Whew! i was working some long hours of late. But better times are coming. This kind of major project comes up about every two years. Millions of dollars at stake! So I have had to hunker down. But the storm has passed and I am testing things now at a much saner pace for another week. Plus the roll out is at a slower pace than first intended.

    Here is my email: craig at CraigParke dot com. Send your email address there and I will give you my real personal restricted e-mail address for communication. I am posting this one here publicly because it is already compromised with public spam anyway. Anyone else here can also get in touch with me off-line via that email address if anyone wants to go private also at times. All of these issues have gone underground across the world! Not even the UHJ using CARNIVOR can stop actual thought among Baha'
    is worldwide. The Promised Day has indeed come! Anyone with a totalitarian bent who tries to control and censor thought can go to hell.

    Now back to the topic at hand!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdlqob1QtM

    Anyone trying to understand this famous film must understand that it is a DREAM. It is a message to the world from the catastrophe of the Vietnam War for the United States, the Vietnamese, and every soul who was destroyed. It has been completely over everyone on Earth's heads for 32 years. Just amazing chops in film. Just absolutely brilliant.

    In the above link to this famous scene note the famous subtle discontinuity at 5:16 when Stan throws the boots. Watch what happens in the background with Axle and his garment one second later in the cut. Many people will now live or die based upon the meaning of that cut. The entire film is a DREAM of great significance. A complete tour de force. The sequence comes from the mysterious previous scene at the Bowl-O-Drome in how it ends with the TEN PIN pin spotting machine coming down on Axle. Now Stan throws the boots at Michael that will contain TEN TOES. The film is astonishing in how good these guys were! The Archetypes are Michael, The Mountain , the Roe, and the Nurturing Banquet. It is the greatest Zoroastrian film ever made.

    http://phoenixandturtle.net/excerptmill/santill

  • Craig Parke

    Here is the matching scene at the Bowl-O-Drome.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNnuddpGQnE

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    R wrote: “I think Ruhi is about experimentation, communication, communiTY! and discipline. it encourages people to use personal strengths. if your personal strength is art, then BAM, it's built into the system!!”

    where? some concrete examples or quotations please. Bahais have told me but all I find in book 7 are references to using the arts as a form of propaganda. In my view this is insulting. Art is much more than a means and must be otherwise it can never affect one's spirit.
    So please post some quotations to support your comments.

  • http://www.datadoctor.biz File Recovery

    Is there any sort of video of this lecture available on the internet?

  • http://www.datadoctor.biz Data Recovery Services

    Is there any sort of video of this lecture available on the internet?

  • Oscar Wilde

    I am a romantic. I also think more intelligent people are superior to less intellugent people. I think people in this line of thought purify a world in which the less intelligent prevaricate the more intelligent and it is taken for granted. THIS is the problem of the world. That the intelligent have doubts and the idiots are overly confident. THIS is the problem. And elitism, arrogance of the best people, IS a temporary solution. It is impossible for an intelligent people to live with dignity without knowing he is smarter than most. He'd commit suicide. Much better for him to be arrogant and overcome the idiots. Elitism is absolutely necessary.

    And by the way, you're contradicting Goethe. I'd rather believe in Goethe.

    Be a populist as much as you want, I be Goethe, call me elistist or that or that…the term “elitist” and romantic are just confusing you, you seem to be needing to put in a box what cannot be put in a box. I am going to contradict myself now and say that I am NO elitist and NO romantic, I am whatever I am, I said I am those things because you decided I am that or that.

    I am one who thinks intelligent people are BETTER, SUPERIOR, never WORSE, and NOT EQUAL, to stupid people. Period. No elitism and no romanticism. Forget that bs or you'll never understand the depth of justice I'm conveying that are so broad that you call the NARROW. Pathetic.

    I am broad, my thinking is broad, never narrow. You're wrong.

  • Oscar Wilde

    In a world full of these pathologies and cognitive bias, one has got to be OVERLY rational without a compromise. Otherwise, he feeds on the pathologies. One must leave taking for granted the obvious. NOBODY does that. Everyone takes for granted the idiocy that this society is, acting like it were RIGHT, whil knowing deep down it is all wrong. I preach lack of compromize, no matter the expense for oneself. The purpose of life is to me to bee RIGHT, I don't give a damn about my personal happiness. It is important only that I am RIGHT. By going against my own happiness, paradoxally, I am happy. All efforts to be “happy” are useless. By losing this obsession to be happy at all costs, people would begin to act according to REASON. Because reaosn doesn't give a damn that I or YOU are happy. The world and the universe is what counts, I am an effin ant. Whoever tries hard to be individually happy is narcissistic. Almost everyone today is.

  • Oscar Wilde

    *one must LIVE taking for granted the obvious.

    Not “leave”.

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Hello OW – People of superior intelligence are superior only in intelligence – not necessarily in anything else, morality for instance. Intelligence is not worth much if it is not coupled with compassion – in other words, intelligence is one thing, wisdom another. And the question of right/wrong (being right) is a tricky one – not so simple as one might assume. Baha'u'llah has taught us the importance of humility – we must speak our “truth” – that is our duty as human beings, but always in speaking we must know within ourselves that we may be “wrong” when one considers the larger picture. It is a fine line to walk, to speak frankly the view from our window as a necessary part of consultation, while remembering that the view from another's window may be different, and we need all our views put together to begin to see the truth.

    Barb

  • Amanda

    “People of superior intelligence are superior only in intelligence – not necessarily in anything else”

    Well said, Barb. Thanks for using rationality to speak out against elitism.

  • Oscar Wilde

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
    “Reason can never be popular. Passions and feelings may become popular, but reason will always remain the sole property of a few eminent individuals.”

    Whatever speaks out against elitism is not rational, because reason is the sole property of emiment individuals. Whatever people say is never reasonable. People are wrong, always. Only individuals can be right.

    Anti-elitist are not in the elite, therefore not eminent individuals, therefore conditioned barbaric people who seldom speak the truth. Their purpose is, in fact, to hide the truth – whether they're aware of that or not. Speak as much as you want. I will never listen to you. It is impossible for you to be rational. For a variety of social political and neurological reasons I am not here to expand. It is insane to expect a person on the streets to be rational, and Goether knew that. What do you know. Goethe was a genius, are you a genius? Why should I listen to you and not him.

    Just enough for you to know that what you say, I won't listen unless I want to. You can keep living in delusion for all I care.

    It is obvious that ignorant people don't like elitism. Who wants to know that somebody is above us? You're arrogant and you don'0t want anyone to be better than you. So what. It still is, there are categories of people, that are superior to you in various areas: economically, culturally, intellectually, etcetera. I say what I know is truth, knowing that only few can get it – I am not here to become a popular politician or anything, and captivate the ears of the average barbarian: by being against me you only do me a favour.

    Whatever is popular is of inferior quality of many things that are not. For various social and political reasons I'm not going to expand. This is taken for granted among what I call “intelligent people”…also gangstas and idiotic teenagers think popular fashion is beautiful. Intelligent people consider popular things as barbaric, of lesser quality than less commercial stuff. The purpose of life is to be right, not to be popular. Whoever is right wins. Doesn't matter if most would oppose me. Most will lose.

    So don't be surprised if I don't give a damn about being “popular” or “populistic”. I only try to be right in all honesty. I only care about truth, I don't give a damn what idiocy barbarians have in their minds. The fact you're many doesn't mean you're good. And the truth, and reason…that you don't have access to. That is property of few people.

    The idiocy of democratic society – thanks God it is collapsing.

  • fubar

    OW,

    (please feel free to correct the following, or agree to disagree, etc., I'm greatly enjoying hearing your refreshingly different perspective.)

    Short version
    ———-
    Most elites “fake” their intellectual superiority and refinement. Rigidly orthdox, hierarchical cultures do not elevate all highly intelligent or talented people, on the contrary. The basic purpose of democracy is to end the injuctice of such fakery, and thus to allow the truly talented people to contribute to the advance of civilization and the increase of compassion.

    Democracy has been overturned by plutocracy. Please continue to feel alienated by the fakery of the plutocrats, corporate predators and befuddled social engineers and bureaucrats who have failed to “replace the snake pits of human nature with sterile wards of presessional service” (Ivan Illich).

    Long version
    ———-

    The world has experienced the horrow of various absolutisms, and the inevitable corruption that follows such absolutisms, including the horrors of an absolutism of reason (atom bombs, nihilism and many other “horrors' that have been well described by many theorists and philosophers for 100+ years, e.g. “Voltaire's Bastards”).

    Romanticism rejects modernism (which represents the triumph of reason) because modernism, technology and industrialization (mass production) “ruin” authentic forms of culture (hand craft). Romanticists believe in a world of refined, ethereal elites and their slaves (or serfs, peasants) – whose earthy purity is revered by the romanticist elites.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Ar

    excerpts:

    AROUND 1830, a group of French artists and intellectuals looked around and noticed that people who were their spiritual inferiors were running the world. Suddenly a large crowd of merchants, managers, and traders were making lots of money, living in the big houses, and holding the key posts. They had none of the high style of the aristocracy, or even the earthy integrity of the peasants. Instead, they were gross. They were vulgar materialists, shallow conformists, and self-absorbed philistines, who half the time failed even to acknowledge their moral and spiritual inferiority to the artists and intellectuals. What's more, it was their very mediocrity that accounted for their success. Through some screw-up in the great scheme of the universe, their narrow-minded greed had brought them vast wealth, unstoppable power, and growing social prestige.

    Naturally, the artists and intellectuals were outraged. Hatred of the bourgeoisie became the official emotion of the French intelligentsia. Stendhal said traders and merchants made him want to “weep and vomit at the same time.” Flaubert thought they were “plodding and avaricious.” Hatred of the bourgeoisie, he wrote, “is the beginning of all virtue.” He signed his letters “Bourgeoisophobus” to show how much he despised “stupid grocers and their ilk.”

    Of all the great creeds of the 19th century, pretty much the only one still thriving is this one, bourgeoisophobia. Marxism is dead. Freudianism is dead. Social Darwinism is dead, along with all those theories about racial purity that grew up around it. But the emotions and reactions that Flaubert, Stendhal, and all the others articulated in the 1830s are still with us, bigger than ever. In fact, bourgeoisophobia, which has flowered variously and spread to places as diverse as Baghdad, Ramallah, and Beijing, is the major reactionary creed of our age.

    And so just as the French intellectuals of the 1830s rose up to despise the traders and bankers, certain people today rise up to shock, humiliate, and dream of destroying America and Israel. Today's bourgeoisophobes burn with the same sense of unjust inferiority. They experience the same humiliation because there is nothing they can do to thwart the growing might of their enemies. They rage and rage. Only today's bourgeoisophobes are not just artists and intellectuals.

    BOURGEOISOPHOBIA is really a hatred of success. It is a hatred held by people who feel they are spiritually superior but who find themselves economically, politically, and socially outranked. They conclude that the world is diseased, that it rewards the wrong values, the wrong people, and the wrong abilities. They become cynical if they are soft inside, violent if they are hard. In the bourgeoisophobe's mind, the people and nations that do succeed are not just slightly vulgar, not just over-compensated, not just undeservedly lucky. They are monsters, non-human beasts who, in extreme cases, can be blamelessly killed. This Manichaean divide between the successful, who are hideous, and the bourgeoisophobes, who are spiritually pristine, was established early in the emergence of the creed. The early 19th-century German poet Holderlin couldn't just ignore the merchant bourgeoisie; he had to declare the middle classes “deeply incapable of every divine emotion.” In other words, scarcely human.

    —end excerpts—

    For instance Antonio Gaudi, the great spanish (catalan) architect, was a pure anti-modernist. His “organic” forms were devoted to the awe and glory of ancient nature motifs as they resonate in the human “soul”.

    Please note that the slaves got no “vote” about their condition in such an arrangement, so the “logic” of romanticism is somewhat open to the vagaries of slave rebellion (as 3,000 years of western civilization demonstrate).

    Bourgeois society, in its pure modernist/capitalist form, “liberated” the serfs, peasants and slaves from the oppression of *traditional* elites (aristocracy, ecclesiastics: “high church”), whose mythic metaphysics where decidedly un-rational.

    (This is the core problem with bahaism, it is an attempt to adjust mythic, “universal” religion, which is premised on empire, to a modernist world that is rationalist, and which thus rejects mythic spirituality, which is the foundation of aristocracy/ecclesiastic elitism.)

    integralists do not believe in absolutisms, rather in a holistic model of consciousness that incorporates all aspects of human consciousness by honoring all truths (within their limited contexts).

    All preceeding systems that are centered on a particular quadrant of consciousness need to dominate the other quadrants . Even postmodernism's hatred of absolutes and “oppression” is expressed as an “oppressive” absolute!

    in Ken Wilber's integral AQAL model, there are four basic quadrants of consciousness:

    1. “I” interior/individual (spirit/aesthetics)
    2. “We” interior/collective (morals/ethics)

    3. “It” exterior/individual (science/reason)
    4. “Its” exterior/collective (systems/ecology)

    If any particular “quadrant” becomes dominant, and begins to marginalize, or “colonize” the other quadrants, then absolutism is present, and “horrors” result.

    The stunning development of modernity was that rationalism was finally “liberated” from the oppression of premodern and medieval myth and magic (the Weberian “differentiation of values spheres”).

    The liberation of reason from magic and myth led to stunning developments of all kinds (science and technology, from the printing press on, leading to capitalism and participatory democracy), but created a hostility to all forms of spirit (not just the “bad” forms of corrupt, non-rational spirituality and transcendence).

    However, modernism's problem is that it creates a “flatland” in which the forms of meaning that human brains are wired by evolution to “construct”, such as emotions needed for social bonding (compassion, altruism – spirit), are tossed out the window along with “bad” religion. The baby (transcendance) is thrown out with the bath water.

    Please note that in pre-modern and medieval societies, the “elites” were not at all the most intelligent people. On the contrary, most of the “elites” faked their “intelligence” and “refinement” constantly, and their system of spirituality was typically “stuck” at a mythic/conformist level that created such “horrors” as the spanish inquisition and imperial systems with a need for conquest, rigid orthodoxy and strict heirarchy.

    Not a lot of room for peace and justice in such systems, except for a very small group of privileged people that became obsessed with “faking” their “superiority” and “refinements”. Yes, such culture did produce geniuses, and it created a collective system that valued high levels of insight into human nature. Unfortunately the system was premised on imperialism, colonialism and slavery. It was conformist, and ethnocentric. Its depth and authenticity were narrow, not broad. It was birthed in emperial hostility and its cultural DNA invited conflct.

    http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Vernac

    …Each time the West put a new mask on the alien, the old one was discarded because it was now recognized as a caricature of an abandoned self-image. The pagan with his naturally Christian soul had to give way to the stubborn infidel to allow Christendom to launch the Crusades. The wild man became necessary to justify the need for secular humanist education, The native was the crucial concept to promote self-righteous colonial rule. But by the time of the Marshall Plan, when multinational conglomerates were expanding and the ambitions of transnational pedagogues, therapists and planners knew no bounds, the natives' limited needs for goods and services thwarted growth and progress. They had to metamorphose into underdeveloped people, the sixth and present stage of the West's view of the outsider.

    Thus decolonization was also a process of conversion: the worldwide acceptance of the Western self-image of homo economicus in his most extreme form as homo industrialis, with all needs commodity-defined. Scarcely twenty years were enough to make two billion people define themselves as underdeveloped. …

    Development based on high per capita energy quanta and intense professional care is the most pernicious of the West's missionary efforts – a project guided by an ecologically unfeasible conception of human control over nature, and by an anthropologically vicious attempt to replace the nests and snakepits of culture by sterile wards for professional service. The hospitals that spew out the newborn and reabsorb the dying, the schools run to busy the unemployed before, between and after jobs, the apartment towers where people are stored between trips to the supermarkets, the highways connecting garages form a pattern tatooed into the landscape during the short development spree. These institutions, designed for lifelong bottle babies wheeled from medical centre to school to office to stadium begin now to look as anomalous as cathedrals, albeit unredeemed by any esthetic charm.

    Ecological and anthropological realism are now necessary – but with caution.

    —end excerpt—

    So, we now arrive at a point in history where modernism and postmodernism have made a real mess of things.

    Jean Gebser's pioneering work in integral theory that started in the 1930s culminated in “Ursprung und Gegenwart” (_The Ever Present Origin_). In that work, Gebser indentified a large number of artifacts of culture that pointed toward “something beyond” the problems and absolutisms that previously and currently plague humanity. Rudolph Steiner did similar work a bit earlier, and Sri Aurobindo did similar work around the same time, but in India, not Europe.

    One of Gebser's great contributions was the concept of “paradigm regression”.

    A paradigm that was useful for the emergence of tribal consciousness from earlier, more “primitive” forms of culture, later becomes regressive when it can't satisfy the “coherence needs” of a new age.

    A paradigm that was useful for building vast empires, and creating higher, more refined levels of civilization (in relative terms) becomes regressive when it can't satisfy the “coherence needs” of an age of modernism.

    And so forth. Democracy and capitalism have gone bad, and culture is regressing. The USA is really almost completely trandformed into a plutocracy, and there appears to be little hope that “real” democracy can be revived. Soft fascism is likely before long (evidence of fascism's antecedents – thought policing and political correctness – abound in postmodern culture where pluralism has regressed to non-rationalism).

    Clare Graves (who argued with Maslow and eventually won most of the arguments) did some stunning, related,work in futurism in the 60s and 70s.

    The Never Ending Quest

    “At each stage of human existence the adult man is off on his quest of his holy grail, the way of life he seeks by which to live. At his first level he is on a quest for automatic physiological satisfaction. At the second level he seeks a safe mode of living, and this is followed in turn, by a search for heroic status, for power and glory, by a search for ultimate peace; a search for material pleasure, a search for affectionate relations, a search for respect of self, and a search for peace in an incomprehensible world. And, when he finds he will not find that peace, he will be off on his ninth level quest. As he sets off on each quest, he believes he will find the answer to his existence. Yet, much to his surprise and much to his dismay, he finds at every stage that the solution to existence is not the solution he has come to find. Every stage he reaches leaves him disconcerted and perplexed. It is simply that as he solves one set of human problems he finds a new set in their place. The quest he finds is never ending.”
    – Dr. Clare W. Graves

    Levels of Existence, Forms of Being

    “I am not saying in this conception of adult behavior that one style of being, one form of human existence is inevitably and in all circumstances superior to or better than another form of human existence, another style of being. What I am saying is that when one form of being is more congruent with the realities of existence, then it is the better form of living for those realities. And what I am saying is that when one form of existence ceases to be functional for the realities of existence then some other form, either higher or lower in the hierarchy, is the better form of living. I do suggest, however, and this I deeply believe is so, that for the overall welfare of total man's existence in this world, over the long run of time, higher levels are better than lower levels and that the prime good of any society's governing figures should be to promote human movement up the levels of human existence.”
    – Dr. Clare W. Graves

    Integralists basically combine the insights of previous stages of culture (which were, in their origins were ALWAYS pioneered by elite groups of paradigm “revolutionaries”), with evolution.

    The addition of evolutionary theory, which is purely rational, completely alters the landscape, and throws all previous paradigms into a “crisis of legitimization”. (Habermas?)

    If spiritual traditions and religions can not find a way to “fit” evolution and systems theory into their framework, then they will become de-legitimized.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=co

    Shambhala Sun | July 1999
    Liberalism and Religion – We Should Talk
    By: Ken Wilber

    Liberalism's objections to mythic forms do not apply to formless awareness. Thus liberalism and authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand.There are two major dialogues in the modern world that I believe must take place, one between science and religion, and then one between religion and liberalism.

    The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are deeply anti-spiritual. And it must occur in that order, because liberalism won’t even listen to spirituality unless it has first passed the scientific test. (Showing how that might happen was a major theme of my book, Sense and Soul.)

    In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective). And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative politics that hung on to that religion).

    But neither science nor liberalism is aware that in addition to prerational myth, there is transrational awareness. There are not two camps here: liberalism versus mythic religion. There are three: mythic religion, rational liberalism, and transrational spirituality.
    The main strength of liberalism is its emphasis on individual human rights. The major weakness is its rabid fear of Spirit. Modern liberalism came into being, during the Enlightenment, largely as a counterforce to mythic religion, which was fine. But liberalism committed a classic pre/trans fallacy: it thought that all spirituality was nothing but prerational myth, and thus it tossed any and all transrational spirituality as well, which was absolutely catastrophic. (As Ronald Reagan would say, it tossed the baby with the dishes.) Liberalism attempted to kill God and replace transpersonal Spirit with egoic humanism, and as much as I am a liberal in many of my social values, that is its sorry downside, this horror of all things Divine. Liberalism can be rightfully distrustful of prerational myth, and yet still open itself to transrational awareness. Its objections to mythic forms do not apply to formless awareness, and thus liberalism and authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand into a greater tomorrow. If this can be demonstrated to them using terms they find acceptable, then we would have, I believe for the first time, the possibility of a postliberal spirituality, which combines the strengths of conservatism and liberalism but moves beyond both in a transrational, transpersonal integration. The trick is to take the best of both, individual rights plus a spiritual orientation, and to do so by finding liberal humanistic values plugged into a transrational, not prerational, Spirit. This spirituality is transliberal, evolutionary and progressive, not preliberal, reactionary and regressive. It is also political, in the very broadest sense, in that its single major motivation, compassion, is pressed into social action. However, a postconservative, postliberal spirituality is not pressed into service as public policy, transrational spirituality preserves the rational separation of church and state, as well as the liberal demand that the state will neither protect nor promote a favorite version of the good life. Those who would transform the world by having all of us embrace their new paradigm, or particular God or Goddess, or their version of Gaia, or their favorite mythology, these are all, by definition, reactionary and regressive in the worst of ways: preliberal, not transliberal, and thus their particular versions of the witch hunt are never far removed from their global agenda. A truly transliberal spirituality exists instead as a cultural encouragement, a background context that neither prevents nor coerces, but rather allows genuine spirituality to arise.

    But one thing is absolutely certain: all the talk of a new spirituality in America is largely a waste of time unless those two central dialogues are engaged and answered. Unless spirituality can pass through the gate of science, then of liberalism, it will never be a significant force in the modern world, but will remain merely as the organizing power for the prerational levels of development around the world.

    [end]

    adeu amics!

  • fubar

    OW said “In a world full of these pathologies and cognitive bias, one has got to be OVERLY rational without a compromise. “

    There is no factual basis for this assertion. On the contrary, large numbers of artifacts have been compiled over the last 50+ years proving that rationalism can not dominate human consciousness without causing dehumanization, war, injustices, and so forth.

    For example, Alan Greenspan and other fanatics believed in Ayn Rand's rationalism, and they managed to almost completely wreck the global economy.

    When rational people behave irrationally, which they ALWAYS will, things go very wrong, very quickly.

    Human consciousness is the product of evolution, and evolution wired emotions into the human brain. It is only by way of tremendous psychological violence to the non-rational states of conciousness that rationalism can be dominant.

    Contemplation and spiritual insight can be complementary to rationalism. Indeed, cutting edge cognitive-linguistic theory (Lakoff, Turner) has made clear the limitations of conventional rationalist models to explain brain wiring and psychosocial phenomena. Indeed, the assertion of rationalism as a “one truth above all” anti-pattern is a “pathology”.

    Think synergy, not exclusion.

    Think compassion and altruism, not domination and hostility.

    Rational science itself exposes the basic flaw in mechanistic models of reality:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave%E2%80%93parti
    -
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complementarity_(p…)

    Here is another interesting perspective:

    http://www.livingneighborhoods.org/library/empi

    EMPIRICAL FINDINGS FROM THE NATURE OF ORDER

    1. A previously unknown phenomenon has been observed in artifacts. It may be called �life� or �wholeness.� This quality has been noticed in certain works of art, artifacts, buildings, public space, rooms, parts of buildings, and in a wide range of other human artifacts.

    2. The idea of how much life is in things is objective in the sense of observation, and is thus common to people of different inclinations and different and cultures. This is a surprise, since it seems to contradict the accepted wisdom of cultural relativity (demonstrated).

    3. This quality of life seems to be correlated with the repeated appearance of fifteen geometric properties—or geometrical invariants—that appear throughout the object’s configuration (demonstrated).

    4. We began to refer to this quality, when viewed in its geometrical aspect, as �living structure.�

    5. The appearance of living structure in things—large or small—is also correlated with the fact that these things induce deep feeling, and a feeling of connectedness in those who are in the presence of these things (demonstrated).

    6. Degree of life is an objective quality that may be measured by reliable empirical methods. The empirical test that most trenchantly predicts �life� in things, in comparing two things, is a test that asks which of the two induces the greater wholeness in the observer, and/or which of the two most nearly resembles the observer’s inner self (demonstrated).

    7. Astonishingly, in spite of the vast variety of human beings, human culture, and human character, there is substantial agreement about these judgments—thus suggesting a massive pool of agreement about the deep nature of a �human self,� and possibly suggesting that we may legitimately speak of �the� human self (at least strongly indicated).

    8. The fifteen properties are the ways in which living centers can support other living centers (demonstrated). A center is a field-like centrality that occurs in space.

    9. In phenomena ranging in scale from 10-15 to 10-8 meters, on the surface of the Earth again ranging from 10-5 to 105 meters, and then again at cosmological scales ranging from 109 to 1026 meters, the same fifteen properties also occur repeatedly in natural systems.

    10. There is substantial empirical evidence that the judged quality of buildings and works of art—judged by knowledgeable people who have the experience to judge their quality with some objectivity—are predicted by the presence and density of the fifteen properties (demonstrated).

    11. It is possible that the properties, as they occur in artifacts, may originate with cognition, and work because of cognition, and that is why we respond to them.

    12. But that cannot explain why they also occur and recur, and play such a significant role in natural phenomena.

    13. Centers appear in both living and non-living structures. But in the living structures, there is a higher density and degree of cooperation between the centers, especially among the larger ones—and this feature comes directly from the presence of the fifteen properties, and the density with which they occur (demonstrated).

    [end]

  • fubar

    EMPIRICAL FINDINGS FROM THE NATURE OF ORDER


    25. The core quality of an environment which is unfolded through wholeness-extending transformations will be that it is deeply related to human beings—in a way that may be called �belonging.� (demonstrated)

    26. This belonging must be and will be something related to people’s everyday inner feelings. The relatedness to inner feelings will not be trivial but leads, rather, to a far deeper substance than the artificial constructions currently hailed as �art.� (demonstrated)

    27. Structures created by a process of unfolding are likely, in addition, to have a wider range of physical and human characteristics—far wider, than the range of those visible in the homogeneous commercial projects of our time. They will, by their nature and by the nature of the wholeness-extending transformations of land and people, nourish the land and people, and give rise to a great depth and substance that provides genuine support for human beings (demonstrated).

    28. The additional quality that will arise is that the environment made in this way, will be �sustainable� as a whole, and in a deeper and more comprehensive sense than the kind of technological sustainability that has become fashionable in recent years.

    29. Book 3 provides dozens of examples of buildings and building complexes where wholeness-extending transformations have been at work in different environmental and human settings. One sees, from the examples how much richer and more various both the processes and the resulting products are (widely demonstrated).

    55. An apparent link between environment, self, God, and matter has shown itself. It has been uncovered, by carefully raking through the ashes of our mechanical civilization, and in the attempt to build a phoenix of living structure that may arise again, if we choose to pay sufficient attention to it.

    56. In any case, the world can become beautiful, as a result of efforts based on this new understanding (demonstrated).

    57. As a result of these investigations it may turn out to be best if we redefine the concept of God in a way that is more directly linked to the concept of �the whole,� This would then permit the reconciliation of our daily efforts with the well-being of the whole—something that is anyway necessary from a scientific point of view. But in so doing, we may be able to unite the mental and emotional territory of what was traditionally called God, in a way that provides the connectedness that people crave, and in a way that allows people to feel humility and responsibility for the whole, as part of the sum total of mentality that once existed in other cultures and that must exist in our own highly modern civilization in a way that is true to the facts.

    58. We would then have, as a goal, the making of a world which is literally made, as far as possible, from �self.� This, means, of course, the eternal self that lies in each one of us and manifests itself in living structure, and that the world is to be made of this substance.

    59. But, even more shocking and exciting, there may lie ahead new ways of understanding physics and biology in these terms also: so that space and matter would be linked and entangled, literally, with the source of all consciousness, by reference to the whole and its hitherto misunderstood properties.

  • fubar

    http://www.natureoforder.com/library-of-article

    http://www.natureoforder.com/library/scientific

    The positivistic, value-free idea of art, which came from science, and the desire that sci-ence had to create a value-free science, pervaded most 20th century thought, and finally infected architecture itself – one of the silliest intellectual transfusions of all time – since of course archi-tecture – by it very nature — cannot manage without a common sense shared criterion of good quality.

    Yet for the last hundred years or so, there has been a taboo in the scientific community which virtually forbids a scientist (when talking as a
    scientist) from talking about value or quality as though they really exist. Instead, it has been an article of faith that good science comes only
    when we make abstract machine-like pictures that do not let our feelings or judgments of goodness get in the way.

    This has been a useful article of faith, and has served science well for four hundred years.

    But it cannot serve us well now. Why? Because, although it is a feature of non-complex systems that they can be studied without focusing on value, it is also a feature of complex systems that they can not be studied successfully in this way.

    Where after all, did the idea come from that aesthetic judgments are subjective? The ancient Greeks did not think of them as subjective. Nor
    did the Romans. Nor did the ancient Chinese. Nor did the great artists of Islam. Indeed the idea that aesthetic judgment is subjective is a relatively recent arrival on the scene of human thought, and one which was recently fueled by the positivist and mechanistic way of thinking

    There is no need for such arbitrary pronouncements. Indeed, such pronouncements will kill genuine scientific investigation in complexity theory, not help it.

    [end]

  • fubar

    http://www.natureoforder.com/library/commentary

    …This all becomes visible, and hard to escape. It really works, too. It is not just clever guff, which doesn't lead very far. It works, hook, line and sinker. It really works.

    And that, as I say, is where it got me into plenty of trouble, especially at the University of California, Berkeley. When I began writing and teaching about the kinds of processes which would lift architecture and architecture processes out of the mud that they are in today, students began paying attention. Students found that the subject of architecture is more interesting when it is looked at like that. It gets better results. People get excited.

    But – and here comes the slammer – as they learned these things, it also made these same students very suspicious of the “normal” ways of doing architecture that they were learning day in, day out, in the classes they went to. So, of course, students started taking more and more of my classes, more and more of the classes my close colleagues offered, and less and less of the classes my more conservative and professional colleagues offered. The students also started asking very awkward questions about WHY, why architecture was done and taught in the fashion of the 1980s, and why they were forced to learn it when it was so obviously wrong. These questions alarmed, angered, and sometimes terrified the professors in the school. Otherwise-respectable professors began forcing students to take the classes which did NOT make as much sense, in order to prevent them from having access to the dangerous new material. The more devious and political professors started making arrangements, clever, barely seen arrangements, which made it administratively more and more difficult for students to give their concentrated study to these new ways of seeing process.

    If you are reading this, you may believe that the ills of our architecture can be solved by good design. Sustainable design thinking is the latest design fad, and some people believe that ugliness, commercialism, strip malls, tract houses and so on will go away if we use sustainable design ideas. But it isn't so.

    A genuinely new way of thinking about the world cannot arise from sustainable design thinking or from any other design idea. Sustainable architecture , like all the other innovative design movements, has merely made a small side step which allows the far deeper non-living processes of contemporary development to continue. All that happens when these world-changing ideas are attempted within the existing paradigm, is that nothing really changes. That is because it is not the designs, but the processes, which must first change, and until that happens no significant change will occur.

    That is what Book 2 is about: The nature of the life-giving processes which are needed to heal the built world, and first steps in an accurate, carefully thought out way of defining and implementing these life giving processes. Even then it is not simple to move the world in this direction. The idea that there are such a things as definable and palpable life-giving processes, was real to my students at Berkeley. Students are smart, they are fairly free in their heads, and they can see when something like this is true. So they flocked to the classes in which this was happening, and began not attending the classes that the “other” professors wanted them to attend.

    This HAD TO BE STOPPED by the authorities. Of course, because Western civilization would fail if it was not stopped, and the architectural establishment would collapse, and God knows whatever other dangerous things would happen, too. So the Department did their best to stop this material from being taught. We had quite a donnybrook at Berkeley, from about 1985 to about 1992, a first -amendment legal case between me and the Department of Architecture, which finally concluded after seven years, in the University agreeing that the new material must be permitted and must be taught. But it was so frightening to the faculty, that three years later, the University Administration turned tail, and found yet another way to make it impossible for me to teach these classes.

    So this is what you have in Book 2: The Forbidden Classes of Christopher Alexander at Berkeley, 1985 to 1992… all the knowledge that was too dangerous to allow the students to take, or to absorb, is presented in this book.

    Yes, it is dangerous. Because if you start to understand how everyday processes in our normal lives are linked (or not) to the creation of life, in us, in our neighborhoods, in our surroundings, …then everything will change.

    This material comes from new ways of thinking about the way the world unfolds. It suggests a new vocabulary of thought about living process, defines some of the main ideas, shows hundreds of examples, and discusses, patiently, carefully, all along, why and how one process destroys life, and why another process enhances life.

    At the end of the book there is a sixty-page section on building a single house, showing what happens when the life creating processes are in charge, and what kind of house you get: a living structure.

    The idea of process thinking has been a large part of the last few decades. But the idea of living process is new. The suggestion that the harmony of the earth, which occurred naturally at one time, almost by itself, is dependent on a class of processes which we have not previously recognized: that is entirely new.

    That is something you can think about. The book sets forth a new way of looking at the world scientifically, not only politically, which shows how living structure can be encouraged, and how all the sciences, as well as large scale social and artistic processes, are likely to be modified by this kind of thinking.

    [end]

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Amanda posted this quotation:

    The use of light, either of great intensity or in different colours, needs your careful consideration. If the use of light in any way at all suggests a personification of the Manifestation of God it should not be used, but if it can be done without in any way giving the impression that the Prophet is being represented or personified then there is no objection to its use.

    (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, August 12, 1975)

    I've never come across this before and I'm surprised because it is in a compilation on the arts published by the U.H.J. under the section: “Extracts from communications written by the Universal House of Justice”
    http://bahai-library.com/compilation_arts_bwc

    It is also in the compilation “Lights of Guidence” (http://en.bahaitext.org/Lights_of_Guidance/Bah%…) but there are so many faults in this compilation that I gave up trusting that as a source long ago.

    My first response to reading the quotation above is one of shock. Ok, admittedly it is legistration by the Universal House of Justice and so can be changed and may even have been changed, (there is a later letter

    “…no personal representation of the Holy Ones should be made on stage or in pictorial form, there is no objection to Their words and utterances being reported.”

    (15 March 1983, Universal House of Justice, to a National Spiritual Assembly))

    but the issue is that this exists in a document used in the Bahai community as guidance for artists.
    If light is not allowed, then by the same token, music wouldn't be, however abstract. If music is allowed as a metaphor, then why is light not allowed?

    In the film “Secret of the Century”, sky and birds are shown while a male voice reads texts by Baha'u'llah in the first person. If you aren't allowed light, how is the metaphor of sky and birds then OK?
    As you can see, banning the use of light as a metaphor means banning everything. Fortunately the Universal of House doesn't seem to have applied this throughout Bahai communities and there are quite a few Bahais like myself who are or were unaware of this restriction.

    What this censorship does, is to restrict artists who are Bahais from making art that refers in any way to a Manifestation of God or it allows Bahai communities to use this as an excuse to condemn an artwork they don't like.
    There are Bahais out there who do make art that references manifestations of God in some manner, most likely unaware of this quotation. Now I know about this, in my case, if it suited the work I was making, I would go ahead. I do not consider the Universal House of Justice as having the right to judge whether my art is suitable or not, so I would not ask permission and if I lost my voting rights because I used a metaphor, so be it, but then I'm not afraid of what Bahais think of me :)
    However it is more likely – speaking hypothetically – because my work focusses on issues, that I'd make an artwork about “when light is denied, the message is kept in the dark.”

    A week ago the BBC Persian service produced a documentary containing a photograph of Baha'u'llah which the World Centre has encouraged Baha'is to spread the word. So my advice to a Bahai who was worried about this restriction, would be to ask the Universal House of Justice if this was still a current policy and perhaps the Universal House of Justice of today might have another ruling to the one 35 years ago.

    However looking at this restriction as it currently stands, it means that artists will go elsewhere for their subject matter and a result of this, in terms of Bahai aesthetic theory would be that, this subject matter either goes underground (not likely) or that is an aspect of Bahai history and storytelling that doesn't exist and never is developed. I find this ironic, given the various Bahai quotations which stress ideas such as:

    Our actions will help on the world, will spread civilization, will help the progress of science, and cause the arts to develop. Without action nothing in the material world can be accomplished, neither can words unaided advance a man in the spiritual Kingdom

    Paris Talks: Addressed Given by 'Abdu'l-Bah?? in Paris in 1911-1912, (London: Bah??'?­ Publishing Trust, 1979) pp. 80-81

    So without any stories, songs, theatre, paintings, that refer to a manifestation of God… there's nothing.
    For me, this is quite a different thing to the instruction of not making literal representations of the manifestations of God. Art is about metaphor, at least art that is not used as a form of propaganda.

    Amanda wrote: “There's no such thing as a “culture neutral environment.” “Moderating” ones “artistic expression” so as “not to offend”…….is called censorship.”

    I'm assuming this is not a response to my comments in particular because I agree and had stated similiar sentiments, but, I was also pointing out the special case of the House of Worship, not as an excuse, but to show that the restrictions/censorship on artforms were only for this particular context ONLY.

    There's nothing to stop Bahai centres having dance, although, in my case, dance evenings I'd organized were stopped when a Persian family came to our community and told us, no, this was a Haziratu'-Quds (The Office of the Assembly and administration) and no dancing was allowed. They were correct, however they forgot that a lot of other things that did continue were also not allowed in a Haziratu'-Quds.
    So what happened to our popular Friday night drop-in informal talks with music evenings? They died. Those individuals stopped coming to the Bahai Centre, and I went elsewhere for my social stimulation. I knew it was a cultural prejudice because the talks and more formal events continued to be allowed. So even though it was a painful experience for me at the time, I knew that the problem was not because dancing wasn't allowed.

    Amanda wrote: I think you need to consider the passage from the Aqdas (and subsequent musical remarks by 'Abdu'l-Baha) in light of Islamic discourses on music at the time. And even since. Think about the fact that the IRI has used similar rhetoric in banning certain types of music and certain vocalists for the very reasons Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha suggest, while promoting other “benign” forms of music. Context counts here.

    I am not sure what you mean:

    The people of Bah??'?­ should not deny any soul the reward due to him, should treat craftsmen with deference, and unlike the people aforetime, should not defile their tongues with abuse.

    Tablets of Bah??'u'll??h Revealed after the Kit??b-i-Aqdas (Haifa: Bah??'?­ World Centre, 1988) pp. 38-39.

    if you mean something like this:

    We have made it lawful for you to listen to music and singing. Take heed, however, lest listening thereto should cause you to overstep the bounds of propriety and dignity.

    Kit??b-i-Aqdas, K 51
    http://www.bahai-library.com/writings/bahaullah

    If Bahais choose to promote particular artforms, calling this 'dignified' while rejecting other artforms by calling that undignified, that's the problem of the Bahai community. It doesn't mean that as a Bahai I can't go ahead and express freely as I wish. I realise of course, that if the Bahai community only promotes whatever is considered 'safe' art, then the community can never be quickened by the amazing stuff Bahais are making who go elsewhere for their audience/s. And the fact that this seems to be largely the situation we have in the Bahai community today is why I wrote this blog and why I do what I can with the Bahai Association for the Arts.

    Here are links to three of theatre pieces made by Baha'is that have inspired me.
    A Strange Bit of History, written by Annabelle Knight (performed by Omid Djalili) http://bahai-library.org/bafa/k/knight.htm

    The Kingfisher's Wing, written and performed by Bill George
    http://bahai-library.org/bafa/g/georgeb.htm

    Je t'attends: facing east, written and performed by Erika Batdorf http://bahai-library.org/bafa/b/batdorf.htm

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    oops

  • Craig Parke

    “…no personal representation of the Holy Ones should be made on stage or in pictorial form, there is no objection to Their words and utterances being reported.”

    (15 March 1983, Universal House of Justice, to a National Spiritual Assembly))

    Looks like our guys were a little late to the party. This film was shot starting in 1975 and released in 1978. I thought Robert Di Nero did a great job of representing the “spiritual state of being” of “Michael” the MOG for today!

    What better line then “Got to learn … every time you come up here you got your God damn head up your ass.”

    Every time a New World Age comes for the Creation of a New Heart (Hart) of Man from the Divine Cosmic Forces… NO ONE IS PREPARED. Especially the drunk jack ass Clergy (see the scene with Linda's Father) …

    That is pretty much the entire Divine Message every 2100 years. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    Visit the battlefields of WWI or Normandy to get the full dramatic effect. Visit Arlington where many of the 68,000 dead of Vietnam lie whose blood birthed this film. 500 a week at the height of the war. Mostly 19 years of age. Dead in battle forever…for absolutely nothing whatsoever. And still this profound film was completely over everyone's heads. 32 years and counting. While the artless Baha'is are worried about micromanaging stage lighting! Absolutely pathetic.

    No one was prepared.

    Daniel 12:1-3 (New International Version)

    The End Times

    1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. 2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise [a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

    Isaiah 25:6-7 (New International Version)

    6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
    a feast of rich food for all peoples,
    a banquet of aged wine—
    the best of meats and the finest of wines.

    7 On this mountain he will destroy
    the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
    the sheet that covers all nations;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncdlqob1QtM

    For the people here who never served in the Armed Forces of any nation in the 20th and now 21st Centuries and experienced first hand the incredible weapons the human race now possesses either in observing them in silence or in their violent use, THIS is what this scene is about in vast Cosmic Time.

    THIS IS THIS.

    http://www.gensuikin.org/english/photo.html

    For further insight on ancient artistic concealed knowledge of Cosmic Time Cycles in human history, read the 1969 classic book “Hamlet's Mill”.

    It's called art…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Ov0cDPZy8

    Everyone have a nice weekend…

  • Craig Parke

    Now that you understand the meaning of the THIS IS THIS scene in the 1978 film “The Deer Hunter”…

    …since the current entrenched lifetime incumbent idiots leading the Baha'i Faith have run it completely into the ground in every land and TOTALLY FAILED ALL MANKIND hapless decade after hapless decade in monumental lost opportunity after lost opportunity, let every independent creative artist here remember these men and their sacrifice and try to do the best each of you can do to try to change the world in the life you have remaining. Take the wraps off and do your art and your craft and to hell with anything else.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPU4p7UQOtU

    Especially if you ever get a $135 million dollar budget in anything you do. If that ever happens to you get your chops together in the big camera sets to take up the slack from the morons who took us to total mind bending ruin in their endless, endless meetings.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfh3ne88fPY

  • juneji

    I am an artist and the images posted of all those portraits symbolizes so accurately why a person would not be drawn to the faith. Sorry to sound so critical, but Bahais as a group are so BORING. This faith does not attract Savvy, Stylish people who want to make a positive impact on the world. Individuals who have a keen understand of their culture and how to apply their gifts within the context of that culture will find that there are other spiritual avenues to will help them achieve their highest potential more effectively.

    I am not a Bahai, but did associate with a number of them for years. As I am writing this I can faintly hear their criticism of me; that I am “too lazy” to try to understand the “spiritual truths of their faith”, that I am “just another materialist person in the developed world who has no need for a spiritual life ( this is not true- we all have spiritual needs)”; that I am selfish and concerned only with my own convenience… etc.. etc..

    Listen Bahais, I want to know more about GOD, but your attitudes to me have been very UNGODLY.

  • fubar

    juneji,

    as I said in another thread on this blog, you are correct, haifan bahaism is deeply rooted in cultural imperialism.

    generally, it is an exploitive religion, as currently practiced.

    our ancient human ancestors had “spiritual” experiences long before there was any kind of “religion”, and long before the delusion that spirital transcendence had to be acquired from following a “daddy figure” (prophet) and acting like a slave acted toward the aristocracy or “high church”.

    spirituality and transcendence are wired into human consciousness by evolution, the ultimate form of democracy and freedom.

    not silly “prophets”, or their imperialistic religions, are needed for people to directly access transcendence.

    religions go bad when they become “infected” by psychological “control” pathologies instead of simply passing on the vast, accumated wisdom of human history's exploration of spirit.

    the fact is that evolutionary theory and science are far more valuable than religion. the good things about religion (meditation techniques, maps of higher consciousness, group bonding, construction of meaning, social reciprocity and support, love, caring about people, compassion, altruism, etc.) can easily be taken out of religion so that they stand on their own.

    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/7.11/persing

    Issue 7.11 | Nov 1999
    This Is Your Brain on God

    Michael Persinger has a vision – the Almighty isn't dead, he's an
    energy field. And your mind is an electromagnetic map to your soul.

    By Jack Hitt

    http://www.itp-international.org/

    http://www.enlightennext.org/magazine/j18/wilbe

    excerpt:

    Integral Transformative Practice

    The idea behind ITP is simple: in an attempt to become more “accident prone,” the more dimensions of the human bodymind that are exercised, then the more transparent to the Divine they become, and thus the more accident prone the individual is. ITP therefore attempts to simultaneously exercise many of the major aspects of the gross, subtle, and causal dimensions. Put differently, ITP attempts to exercise the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions of the self, and to do so in relationships with others and with the larger world (including community and nature).

    You can think of this as a modular type of setup. Think of, say, six columns. These columns represent the physical, the emotional-sexual (prana or chi), the mental or psychological, the contemplative or meditative, the community, and nature. Each column has the many practices that have proven beneficial for that dimension. For example, column one—the physical—might have things like aerobic exercise, weight lifting, healthy diet, swimming, and so on. Column two—prana or chi—might have hatha yoga, qi gong, tai chi chuan, etc. Column three—psychological—might have things like visualization, affirmations, and various types of psychotherapy. Column four—the contemplativ—have zazen, vipassana, self-inquiry, centering prayer, etc. Column five—community—might have various types of community service, hospice, helping the homeless, or any sort of relational, compassionate care and engagement with others. And column six—nature—might have recycling, nature hikes and nature celebration, and so on. The idea of ITP is simple: pick at least one practice from each column and practice them concurrently. The more dimensions you practice, the more effective they all become, the more you become one big accident-prone soul.

    But remember, those are still practices in the relative realms, and they yield only relative truths. Andrew's second major concern is that these practices will again simply become a new playground for the ego. And there is no doubt that such indeed can happen. But then, what else is new? The ego will take anything, including satsang with a perfect master, and screw it up royally, just in order to extend its own power and its own reach. Welcome to samsara. But Andrew is quite right to blow the whistle on this, and I support him wholeheartedly in that. Andrew has always been a strong voice reminding us of absolute Freedom and Emptiness, not just relative safety and release, and I stand firmly with him on that crucial issue.

    Andrew had just finished reading a book manuscript of mine called Boomeritis. It is a chronicle of the ways that the ego will take virtually anything—from physics to systems theory to the great wisdom traditions to meditation—and turn it into a game of one-upmanship: “I've got the new paradigm that will be the greatest transformation in the history of the world; I've got the greatest spiritual path that has ever been devised; I'm part of a new integral culture that is so much better than anything that has come before; I've got . . .” Well, you know how it goes. Andrew points out that the “new” approaches to spirituality—including transpersonal psychology and ITP—are often nothing much more than new forms of boomeritis. And again, I could not agree more. (You can see a brief description of “boomeritis” in Chapter 2 of the modestly entitled A Theory of Everything, just out from Shambala.)

    The emotional attitude of boomeritis tends to be, “Nobody tells me what to do!” And there is no question that the “pick and choose” nature of ITP can play directly into the hands of boomeritis. Spirituality then degenerates into the cafeteria model so prevalent in our culture: “Let's see, I'll take a little of this, a little of that, a little of the new physics, a little breathwork, some indigenous tribal goodies, toss in a little systems theory, some Goddess rituals, and, ooooh, let's see, gimme some shamanism for good measure and two cups of ayahuasca. Great! I am soooo f—ing enlightened I can't stand it.”

    Needless to say, Andrew is not impressed. Me neither. Neither are you, I am guessing.

    But remember that all those egoic games are simply a misuse of the relative paths in general and of ITP in particular. One of the things that ITP is truly good at is simply making the relative bodymind more healthy in its own terms. We already have considerable scientific evidence that practices such as ITP can turn back the physiological aging process by over a decade and significantly reduce the incidence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and most degenerative diseases. Again, this will not cause enlightenment! But it will do two things: it will help your relative bodymind become much healthier in its own terms, and it will help to make you a little more accident prone. And then, in the presence of a true Master, you might be just a little more likely to confess and admit your enlightenment, and simply but directly recognize that my Master is my Self.

    [end excerpts]

  • Craig Parke

    Very well said! Thank you for your post. Every soul now will have a much more effective life by bringing their own God given art to the energies of the new unfolding World Age in their own Cosmic way. It is ALL bottom us. Not top down. The HBF is not a player. It is a great tragedy. But it is what happened.

    I preach the New Cosmic World Age! Bring yourself and your craft to the real party! All bets are off!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FqA2WINPF4

  • Oscar Wilde

    I don't understand. Are you the author of Boomeritis? The book that I am finding on Amazon?

  • Baquia

    Amanda, I seem to have mistaken you for another person so I apologize. Regarding censorship as being excessive or not I suppose I would explain my position as the necessity for boundaries. For example, most liberal democracies have a strictly enforced law regarding the separation of Church and State. One way to look at this is to say there is censorship occurring that curtails the expression of religion in certain spheres of society. Another way is to say, this is an appropriate boundary that serves a function. After all, religion is not oulawed, nor are people prevented from worshiping, just one particular aspect of it which has been deemed harmful has been put in check. I see the points here in the same light.

    Regarding review, the decision to write anonymously has nothing to do with its existence or its now anachronistic nature. I've attempted to explain why I write anonymously here. Perhaps I've failed miserably. But the reasons are varied and many but they include wanting the content to be the focus rather than any particular person as well as removing any attempts to hoist ambitions of grandeur on me, as have already been attempted towards others like Sen.

  • fubar

    No, The author is Zen philosopher Ken Wilber.

    Here is Wilber's overview of Wilber's work:

    http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/books/kosmos/e

  • Barb Ruth-Wright

    Baquia,

    Thank you so much for what you do here. I might have given up on Baha'i long ago, were it not for this forum. What you provide here is unique and invaluable. For me this is an assistance to faith, not a hindrance – open discussion is a requirement for real faith, for me at least.

    So thanks, a lot.

    Barb

  • Concourse on Low

    Baquia, was your reply to Amanda written in haste? I ask because you haven't addressed any of her detailed points. Your reply is evasive and begs the question. No one's disputing the truism that most things require some sort of limit or boundary. The issue is what sorts of boundaries does the Baha'i Faith set on creative expression, and are they justified.

  • Amanda

    Baquia,

    (For some reason, even though I am subscribed to follow up comments, I haven't been getting notice of them for about a week. Something wrong with Disqus?)

    Baquia, I agree with Concourse on Low's assessment above. And the specific comparison you make between separation of church and state to censorship is, respectfully, nonsensical. Separation of church and state disallows governance by religion, not religious freedom of expression. You simply didn't answer my question. So, you believe in censorship, or “boundaries,” as you call it. I ask again, what content and forms of expression would you support blocking? And why?

  • Amanda

    I apologize I didn't see this earlier, Sonja.

    You make a good point about about non-light metaphors for prophets being theoretically in the same category.

    Regarding my comments about music, I was specifically talking about music, and the history of the IRI implementing interpretations of Islam that revere some music while banning others on similar conditions that Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha list. I am not arguing that the Baha'i writings are 100% anti-crafts and trades, just full of recommended censorship and limitations.

    Thanks for your reply. Again, sorry for my delay.

  • Baquia

    Amanda, the goal of separation of Church and State is to prevent a theocracy however its practical day to day implementation requires that certain religious expressions be curtailed.

    For example, the display of any religious symbols or paraphernalia within government buildings. A few years ago, in the US a granite monument engraved with the “10 commandments” were removed from the property of a courthouse (citation). There are many examples we could bring up (here's another more recent one)

    Many people didn't like that and I'm sure they would be able to use your reasoning to say that it is censorship. However, as a society, the US has established these boundaries and they are followed. I'm suggesting that in the same way, there are boundaries within religious communities. And that these boundaries are there for a reason and that they serve a purpose.

    Having said that, I have no qualms about a vigorous debate taking place not only pushing the boundaries but asking if they should exist in the first place.

    re disqus difficulties, I'm not sure but would suggest that you “claim” your profile by registering. Perhaps that would make a difference.

  • fubar

    Fusing religion and state back together would be a complete and unncessary disaster, and would simply create a huge mess that is out of whack with the direction that evolution is taking global society.

    http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=co

    excerpt:

    Shambhala Sun | July 1999
    Liberalism and Religion – We Should Talk
    By: Ken Wilber


    The way it is now, the modern world really is divided into two major and warring camps, science and liberalism on the one hand, and religion and conservatism on the other. And the key to getting these two camps together is first, to get religion past science, and then second, to get religion past liberalism, because both science and liberalism are deeply anti-spiritual. And it must occur in that order, because liberalism won’t even listen to spirituality unless it has first passed the scientific test. (Showing how that might happen was a major theme of my book, Sense and Soul.)

    In one sense, of course, science and liberalism are right to be anti-spiritual, because most of what has historically served as spirituality is now prerational, magic or mythic, implicitly ethnocentric, fundamentalist dogma. Liberalism traditionally came into existence to fight the tyranny of prerational myth and that is one of its enduring and noble strengths (the freedom, liberty, and equality of individuals in the face of the often hostile or coercive collective). And this is why liberalism was always allied with science against fundamentalist, mythic, prerational religion (and the conservative politics that hung on to that religion).

    But neither science nor liberalism is aware that in addition to prerational myth, there is transrational awareness. There are not two camps here: liberalism versus mythic religion. There are three: mythic religion, rational liberalism, and transrational spirituality.
    The main strength of liberalism is its emphasis on individual human rights. The major weakness is its rabid fear of Spirit. Modern liberalism came into being, during the Enlightenment, largely as a counterforce to mythic religion, which was fine. But liberalism committed a classic pre/trans fallacy: it thought that all spirituality was nothing but prerational myth, and thus it tossed any and all transrational spirituality as well, which was absolutely catastrophic. (As Ronald Reagan would say, it tossed the baby with the dishes.) Liberalism attempted to kill God and replace transpersonal Spirit with egoic humanism, and as much as I am a liberal in many of my social values, that is its sorry downside, this horror of all things Divine. Liberalism can be rightfully distrustful of prerational myth, and yet still open itself to transrational awareness. Its objections to mythic forms do not apply to formless awareness, and thus liberalism and authentic spirituality can walk hand in hand into a greater tomorrow. If this can be demonstrated to them using terms they find acceptable, then we would have, I believe for the first time, the possibility of a postliberal spirituality, which combines the strengths of conservatism and liberalism but moves beyond both in a transrational, transpersonal integration. The trick is to take the best of both, individual rights plus a spiritual orientation, and to do so by finding liberal humanistic values plugged into a transrational, not prerational, Spirit. This spirituality is transliberal, evolutionary and progressive, not preliberal, reactionary and regressive. It is also political, in the very broadest sense, in that its single major motivation, compassion, is pressed into social action. However, a postconservative, postliberal spirituality is not pressed into service as public policy, transrational spirituality preserves the rational separation of church and state, as well as the liberal demand that the state will neither protect nor promote a favorite version of the good life. Those who would transform the world by having all of us embrace their new paradigm, or particular God or Goddess, or their version of Gaia, or their favorite mythology, these are all, by definition, reactionary and regressive in the worst of ways: preliberal, not transliberal, and thus their particular versions of the witch hunt are never far removed from their global agenda. A truly transliberal spirituality exists instead as a cultural encouragement, a background context that neither prevents nor coerces, but rather allows genuine spirituality to arise.

    But one thing is absolutely certain: all the talk of a new spirituality in America is largely a waste of time unless those two central dialogues are engaged and answered. Unless spirituality can pass through the gate of science, then of liberalism, it will never be a significant force in the modern world, but will remain merely as the organizing power for the prerational levels of development around the world.

  • fubar

    Short version:

    FIRST: “official” religious censorship (e.g. Kalimat Press) never leads to authentic, profound art, it always produces watered down conformist cr*p, which bahai is replete with. Authenticity almost always requires the rejection of conformism.

    The point in democracy of separating church and state is to prevent religion from oppressing people by imposing ABSOLUTES (magic/myth), or inspiring the coercion of individual conscience by use of abusive state power (such as an theocracy, aristocracy or plutocracy).

    In other words, democratic practices enact a higher paradigm than that which went before (under traditional religion), by validating the need for LIBERATION.

    Clearly the purpose of bahai censorship is not to liberate people, or to stop the imposition of absolutes, or to halt the use of abusive state power to coerce people's beliefs.

    The purpose of bahai censorship is regressive, not progressive. It represents backwardness, not a healthy ethos premised on creating an “ever advancing civilization”.

    In a “free” society that is psychologically healthy, informal social pressures should be sufficient to discourage art that is done in bad taste, has unhealthy spiritual aspects, and so forth.

    If not, such bad taste is the burden that FREE people must be willing to take on to remain free.

    There is an inherent discomfort in a postmodern society in limiting the power of traditional religion. Postmodern society replaces the “primitive” absolutisms of religion with more “advanced” absolutes, but they are still absolutes.

    Having lost my interest in medieval images (which bahaism seeks to preserve), I personally will take the more advanced absolutes over the less advanced ones.

    The integral ideal of “transcend and include” seeks to reduce the problem to a minimum.

  • fubar

    OW,

    Sorry I was in a hurry earlier, and failed to say that I greatly appreciate your return to the discussion, and look forward to your feedback, criticisms, observations, etc.

    Thanks!

  • fubar

    Funny – sublime meets ridiculous:

    http://theworsthorse.com/2010/06/dharma-burger-

  • peyamb

    I agree with this. Every organization has some rules about expression within its meetings and building. Take the Unitarians for example. They are pretty open-minded people, but you'll never hear a racist speaker for example in their halls. Why? Because it goes against their creed. Is that censorship? Maybe. So I have no problem with an organization deciding what it will and will not allow within its own buildings and meetings. But that organization has no right to didcate outside of that sphere, in the personal lives of its followers. In our personal lives, they should only be suggestions. So for example if the Bahai administration removes voting rights because a Bahai who is an artist decides to depict Bahaullah in a painting, then that is purely wrong. But if the Bahai adminstration decides not to put up such a painting inside a House of Worship, then no big deal. Make sense?

  • Concourse on Low

    Yes, truisms are easy to agree with.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    no worries, busy myself.

    Craig I think made a similar comment about how come mention of the arts, etc focuses on censoring and limits rather than on what is possible/ is free / is inspirational and in 1994 that was my response to being asked to review an article on the arts intended for the Bahai Encyclopedia. I responded that in my view a Bahai definition of the arts, should begin with the inclusive way it is used in the Bahai writings. I was then asked to write a new article and did, and the rest is history…. the encyclopedia was repeatedly squashed and I have no idea whatever happened to the article on the arts and I saw a version of it some years ago which was not at all what I wrote. So… oneday, when I get it together I'll put what I wrote online and we can discuss this. That is, argue for a vision of the arts that is focussed on inspriation, openness, etc, which I do think reflects the Bahai writings and then discuss the censorships as exceptions for particular cases. The problem at the moment, as I see it, is that Bahai's seem to focus so much on rules in connection with the arts.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Sonja,

    Yes. I think you were replying to me and not Amanda. I agree. There is really nothing to even be concerned about now. The Baha'is are not players. It is all now a wasteland. A cultural Hiroshima after the sunrise. Everyone just do what you want to do in your art and your craft to advance the powers of the World Age. The Baha'is to a man and to a woman worldwide are cowards as artists. The birthing powers of the unfolding World Age will now all go to the free born. Not to people who have turned their souls over to lifetime incumbent third rate electioneering high school teachers in Haifa. It is time for everyone to just move on with your God give kit that can reach to the starts! I work for the consciousness of the Cosmos not for any human form.

    Everyone have a nice weekend!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iseeYx8yf4E

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    No I was responding to Amanda.

    I just mentioned your name in passing in reference to something you wrote a few weeks ago. I was going to respond but didn't have time.

    I do not agree with your statement “The Baha'is to a man and to a woman worldwide are cowards as artists.”
    It is such a sweeping dismissal of myself -I am an artist and I am a Bahai- that I am guessing you are not really interested in a dialogue.
    No worries there either.

  • Craig Parke

    Oops! My mistake for reading the post wrong. Please accept my apology. The post was not to me.

    I think you as a person are just great. And i am sure you are a very accomplished artist. Your cast of mind is spot on to openness. But I do not feel the words “artist” and “Baha'i” belong any longer in the same sentence. Too much has been lost to both top down censorship and self censorship. Amid terrible human suffering the Baha'is largely sat it all out holding their powder dry for a day that is never going to come. That day will be brought by artists who are completely free to pursue their art without regard to committees and judges of their consciousness. It was all pointless.

  • rhapsodist

    Sonja, you wrote, “Art is much more than a means and must be otherwise it can never affect one's spirit.”

    “The body without spirit is not capable of real accomplishment. Although it may be in the utmost condition of beauty and excellence, it is, nevertheless, in need of the spirit. The chimney of the lamp, no matter how polished and perfect it be, is in need of the light. Without the light, the lamp or candle is not illuminating.” page 115, Promoting the Arts, Book 7

    With specific reference to the art of music, “Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God.”

    When we consider these quotations in concert with the teachings of purity, selflessness, humility, devotion, compassion, love, and other core observances necessary to rely on God to bestow upon every one of us our full capacity to share our art, teachings central not only to success in Book 7, but central to all the Books of Ruhi, it is clear that the core of Ruhi is to help infuse the participants with spirit and discipline.

    Without spirit, there is no Ruhi institute. I need not quote these examples. They are everywhere in all the Ruhi books. The purpose of Ruhi is to infuse in the participants a strong spirit and firm love of Baha'u'llah. And with spirit and love, art has its power.

    I can quote all day, but it's still just my opinion.

  • rhapsodist

    What is your favorite Sutra?

  • rhapsodist
  • fubar
  • fubar

    sounds like a weird, conformist vision of what “spirit” is. very culturally imperialistic, unenlightened and unsophisticated.

  • Anonymous

    I only ask because you said you feel most closely related toward Buddhism.
    may you please describe the relationship between your feelings on art and spirituality, particularly your artistic beliefs and Buddhistic beliefs?

  • fubar

    (warning – some potentially offensive language)

    Authentic spiritual comedy:
    http://castroller.com/podcasts/TheMothPodcast/1266150-Mike%20Destefano%20The%20Junkie%20and%20The%20Monk

  • Oscar Wilde

    Hah Fubar, you’re such a debunker ;)

    I used to be very much like you. Problem is it never allowed me to get my message across.

    Rhapsodist has his virtus and faults like any human being. I wouldn’t criticize him but rather the mentality he is afflicted by.

    There are actually some truths or almost truths in his comment. This of course related to what I believe is the truth (I, like you, refuse relativism).

    When Rhapsodist says:
    “…teachings of purity, selflessness, humility, devotion, compassion, love, and other core observances necessary to rely on God…”

    he’s saying an obvious truth, somehow, but what disturbs me is the WAY he says it. It’s like he’s just repeating a text book.

    It is the most common “mistake” our best teachers in school would recommend us NOT to do. DON’T repeat the text book, but form your own ideas, develop critical thinking. Heck, we can’t say education in the west is perfect. But this point has never been a problem. My good teachers encouraged me to THINK.

    Even though Thi king too much can be a problem, thinking too little is an evident problem too. We can’t argue that many stupid acts occur as a result of not having thought enough and clearly.

    And thinking can mean many things. I can mean: thinking. Or it can mean: meditating, seeking the truth within.

    I do not think the Ruhi Institute encourage ANY thinking. It tricks the participants into being manipulated. By being any critical thinkng suspended, also the light within is suspended. The truths searchable within the individual are sacrificed, and too bad God is in that. Therefore I don’t think there’s anything divine and spiritual in the Ruhi Institute.

    And I’m sure Fubar knows all of that.

    Rhapsodist does not need to be attacked. He’s doing his job. He is step aheads those who aren’t even interested in anything spiritual. Yes, he might commit mistakes just like you and I can, but he won’t do much damage ON HIS OWN and I’m sure he is trying to do his best with good intentions.

    Good intentions aren’t enough to make an actual contribution to the world. Maybe Rhapsodist could do much more, and probably one day he will.

    What should be stressed here is that his language indicates that the Ruhi Institute had been successful into brainwashing him a little.

    His sentences come straight from the Ruhi books. He doesn’t need to quote the Ruhi books, because he has BECOME a Ruhi book. Bad or good that the Ruhi book is, his perosnality would be capable of much more than what a Ruhi book is. He is giving Ruhi too much credit but that’s because the Baha’i society is doing so! What is Rhapsodist to do?

    It can be a big moral problem for him. Baha’u’llah said that the UHJ speaks with his tongue, basically this is what is written. My argument is that the writings have been modified for the sake of the powers to be – I cannot explain this in any other way. Otherwise Baha’u’llah could have simply have made a mistake, even with good intentions. But in no way I want to impose this view, which I am not fully sure about, to any baha’i.

    But I do think I shouldn’t feel guilty for thinking with my own mind and spirit, which is unfortunately what happens due to the fact that I grew up thinking that whoever does that is a covenant breaker and a snake. Even though I refuse this rationally, it is not easy to get rid of thoughts that have manipulated you so much in the past. It is not easy to be free.

    Now, since the UHJ speaks with the tongue of Baha’u’llah, there begins the mess. Baha’u’llah said it somewhere…and the baha’i is to follow the UHJ. When you create such an “infallible” system…all weaknesses of the system become evident.

    And maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the baha’i faith will become number one all over the world and I’ll have to confess I was wrong. That Ruhi was a good thing.

    No matter the benefit Ruhi does ME, as a social individual I am concerned about the impact it has on the society. The baha’i community post-Ruhi is from what my eyes see less spiritual than ever, more bigoted, more stiff, and really doesn’t have the scent of a spiritual and united whole. There was some of this years ago. In the post-Ruhi age, all bahais I met who practise Ruhi gave me a very bad spiritual impression. It is like they are still kids and they sound manipulated and God they have this fixation with quotations (if they have them at hand) that are just repeated words lacking any spirit, which is very bad if you think about it: destroying the spirit a quotation might have by repeating it soulessly.

    The Baha’is who do that appear to me to be simply desperate religious fanatics who desperately need to be baha’is to get a sense out of their lives. But this is in everything…we could say the same of those who hold into their profession or any hobby or religion…without it they’re devastated. Freedom means being addicted to NOTHING including religion…spirituality indicate being addicted to spirituality itself only, in a way that is not easy to express in words. How does one APPEAR spiritual? Just APPEARING is nothing spiritual…spirituality is within, period. There are a lot of spiritual people who might not appear so…

    But in this age the trippy goa trance visitors from all over the planet think wearing indian clothes and swallowing lsd gives them a spiritual vision and aura. I don’t know…do you, Fubar, think these people are spiritual?

    They obviously have nothing remotely spiritual within them, and, woops, the spirit is right in there. You can be spiritual in your hands and hair and clothing and the way you walk…if you still have no spirit…you’re nothing! You’re a piece of void.

    Therefore, I think reasoning with people today is useless.
    Fubar definitely has an evolved intellect. I know nothing of his “spirit”. I can never know how spiritual he is.

    A bad vice of baha’is is thinking they can understand who is more spiritual and who’s not.

    Only a highly spiritual PERSON can identify the spiritual level of another person especially if it is below his own. If it’s higher, he probably won’t.

    Going back to Rhapsodist…like many baha’is he simply repeats what Ruhi tells him. But this used to happen even before to baha’is who were just repeating quotations and doing nothing else all day. I know many of them. These baha’is APPEAR so devoted that they often end up covering functions in the baha’i bureucracy.

    Is there is ego in such people? Yes, also a huge one. Religions often make the ego go wild. By it being so supposedly suppressed, it claims its right by revolting against spirit.

    It is the human conditions. Since the beginning of time.

    Religions make it way too simple.
    But this, you can understand Fubar.

    But what’s the point of telling these things to whoever is not ready to accept them. We’re not better. We’re different.

    Oh, sure, we aren’t worse either.

    Last thing: the baha’i faith has had its cultural merits on me. I think it is one of the main reason why I don’t discriminate between races and cultures and I have become culture-less. Thanks to it I have travelled extensively while very young and met people of all cultures and destroyed any prejudice I might have had were I not to do so.

    And then, when I realized not only cultures, but also religions can be a SOCIAL problem, no matter how they made ME feel – I went beyond it and said goodbye to it. It hasn’t been easy…

    If this didn’t happen by chance…I would still be doing Ruhi and I would be another plastic baha’i soldier. A very good one…maybe with a role in the administrative order that would mae my ego feel very good.

    Each person is different. Some have rightly stayed in the baha’i faith. If it wasn’t for me or for us, good. But we must learn to tolerate these people and respect them. Forgive me Fubar when I say that you might want to develop a superior compassion towards people who I agree might not be at your intellectual level. I have done the same mistake in the past and I still do it. I’m not teaching you anything. Just pointing out.

    There is no need to destroy the people’s spirits even though they are in a wrong or primitive path. Refer to what the Bhagavad Gita says on that. Use this at your and their advantage. You cannot make them function at your own level right away. You’ve had the luck to have certain experiences that have enlightened you.

    I agree it is sometimes awful to be “lonely” in enlightenment, but this is another pair of shoes.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GFBKMOWA2CY7XUIVHQUIHFOGZU Thomas A

    I just found your site today. Nice title for your blog. I remember there is a quote from Ghandi when asked for a description of great art, and he said that it is art which describes the upward flight of the soul. (I Googled to check this, and couldn’t find it. :-()
    Next I read your Ruhi rant. Nice title for your blog. As I am a community of 1 here in the wilds of suburban Saitama, I don’t have to worry about cultivating the clash of differing opinions. :-)
    So, I think you mentioned that you are not worried about the sustenance of appreciative support for your work outside the Bahai community, but it seems you want more :-) We all do, IMHO. We all want attention, recognition even if it is only from our dog when we come back home, and , speaking only for myself and my condition, there is no limit. So, for some reason I am comforted by the idea that we are all hastening strangers, this includes the brain-washed Ruhi yes-men, the freedom fighters, the ranters, and so on. we are all hastening…over the whole course of our lives. and where do we think we are going? How many really know? I don’t, and yet I am like those proverbial Japanese or Russians, I see a line and I get in it. I don’t know what it is for….Well, I first check out the people in the line, do they look intersting :-) So, it is with a que of Bahais from the last community I was a member of, for example. Many times I swore to my wife on the way back home that the Bahai community is the greatest test….I love people, its the individuals I have trouble dealing with. yet we are all hastening strangers. I really like the sound of that “hastening strangers”. And who are we strange to? As a “contemporary childish American” my wife’s favorite comment, not intended to offend mature global-minded Americans :-) I am not united within. There are strangers inside of me. And after more years than I want to count, I still have trouble getting some of these strangers to speak to me and tell me just what they want from me. Yes, hastening stranger, am I.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GFBKMOWA2CY7XUIVHQUIHFOGZU Thomas A

    “when that’s the only story on offer by a community.” Please forgive me, I don’t mean to offend you. But this quote I have taken from the development of this thesis, appears to me to be a kind of “strawman arguement”. In other words, I have not experienced such a community where that is the only story on offer. I have experienced several Bahai communities, but I never had one on of the artists make the criticism you have expressed so strongly. This is why in my previous post I suggested you should feel satisfied and handsomely rewarded by patrons outside the community. If, for the sake of argument, the Bahai community is to be blamed in some way, do you feel it is your burden to enlighten them? I would think that would be too big a task for one individual. I have lived in communities where your example is not so egregious.

  • Roza_95

    I completely agree with what you have argued here. As a writer I often wonder to myself whether what I am writing is the wrong form of art because it is not pretty, its not about peace or love or virtues of any kind. Its about the ugly side of life that we as a society in general like to shut out and not think about. I feel that in the Bahai faith we need to be more open and accept that art is valuable as long as it makes you feel, think or laugh. If it does anything to you, it is valuable and should be cherished.

  • Marena

    Just some texts on art …..

    Tolstoy

    The same questioner said: “I have read much of Tolstoy and I see a parallel between his teachings and yours. In one of his books he speaks of the Enigma of Life, and describes how life is wasted in our endeavour to find the Key. But Tolstoy goes on to say: ‘There is a man in Persia who holds the secret.’”

    “Yes,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bah??, “I received a letter from Tolstoy, and in it he said that he wished to write a book upon Bah??’u’ll??h.”

    ________________________________________________

    The Guardian said art must inspire, that the artist’s personal satisfaction is not enough. Of music he has written that there will be world music, no Bah??’?­ music per se. ‘He has freed the artist’, was Mark Tobey’s comment on this. Shoghi Effendi wished the nine-sided Bah??’?­ Houses of Worship worldwide to be different, not imitative of Wilmette’s.

    (Marzieh Gail, Arches of the Years, p. 304)

    _______________________________________________________

    It is perfectly acceptable for a prayer to be interpreted in the form of movement or dance. As you know, in many parts of the world there are certain tribal and traditional dances which are performed in glorification of God. Just as a composer can create a piece of music as a result of inspiration by some passage in the Writings, so can a person perform a reverential dance, which is another form of art, to interpret a passage from a prayer or from the Writings. However, to avoid that such expressions of prayer become gradually ritualized, it is preferable that they not be accompanied by reading the words of the prayers.

    (The Universal House of Justice, 1994 Mar, Dancing at Feas
    ______________________________________________

    “As to your art: It is one of the Teachings of Bah??’u’ll??h that art
    is identical with an act of worship. And you must go on with your
    art and improve in it. And through this very Cause you will be able
    to make great progress in your art, for you shall be helped from
    Above.

    (Misc Baha’i, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GFBKMOWA2CY7XUIVHQUIHFOGZU Thomas A

    I can appreciate that artists value the concept of “freedom of expression”, or the possibility of expression as much or perhaps more than anyone (except a political activist, perhaps). But I wonder if the cherishing of this concept is particularly susceptible to the culture and era we are in right now. I have had a while, since my first posting, to think about the various points in this rather extensive rant. And secondly I do not live in Los Angeles any more. I live in Japan where there is also a very strong artistic culture of appreciation of certain “classic forms of expression” in the arts. Of course no one can completely copy the “classic forms”. IN the same vein there is of obvious merit and demerit the fact that an artist cannot completely copy the image or the image of an image of Abdu’l Baha. The experts can tell the difference if we can’t. so if there is found some appreciation for one rough copy compared to another, who is to say that there was self-censorship of some kind and that the heart of that copier really wanted to draw a naked Abdu’l Baha but felt constrained because of “moderation”?

    Some would be offended by my even mentioning this kind of hypothesis. But it appears the author of this rant, may have been defending the right to actually execute or appreciate that kind of image. Would anyone else strike such an artist with a thunderbolt of their own design? Should we defend the right of that artist to represent Abdu’l Baha in that way? Of course we, here at Bahai Rants know the answer to this question.

    The more important issue, in my opinion is why this hypothesis would be raised. I think the essential state of the person’s soul who would worry about such a matter is the more important issue. And that issue is really the provence of God and the individual artist. IMHO the rant here is that this is a community issue, so I disagree. I don’t think the case by case Bahai resident community’s members where the individual artist resides is the platform for judgement of the expression of a person’s/artist’s relationship with God. If the ranter wants to make it so, that of course is your right, just as you are permitted to draw/paint whatever. It is a reflection of your relationship with God, not mine or anyone elses.

  • fubar

    Thomas A,

    The deification of abdul-bahai is an enormous spiritual obscenity in my opinion, and thus it would be appropriate for an artist to express such via an obscene theme (of juxtaposition/inversion).

    The problem with bahai culture in general is that it lacks authenticity and depth – fear of new ideas, fear of truth, fear of reality.

    Which is why the false god is an old favorite, the image of an exotic, eastern guru figure, a middle eastern santa claus, is necessary.

    What abdul-bahai started, and shoghi effendi finished, was the project of turning bahaism into an imperialistic religion that would regress to old models and mirror the backwardness of premodern culture. since the only “war” that the bahai empire has actually waged is a paradigmatic one on rationalism and modernism, that is where the major failures of bahaism appear.

    what could be more obscene than all that? certainly not some nonconforming art work.

  • fubar

    re: reassertion of “lifeworld” in defiance of “systems”

    You are correct. There is a huge controversy in therapeutic circles, and there is a lot of research evidence that “false unity”, and “denial of negatives” is VERY bad.

    Ironically, ACT has resonance with “eastern mysticism” and its emphasis on acceptance and mindfullness.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptance_and_commitment_therapy

    This yet another example of where bahaism simply misunderstands how mysticism/contemplation is seeping back into postmodern culture.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GFBKMOWA2CY7XUIVHQUIHFOGZU Thomas A

    Probably we need to think about what we say in the daily prayers. As you know the eagle does not prey on the dead mouse. I interpret this reference to Rumi to mean that if our hearts are dead when we say the dail prayers we get no benefit. If your soul is grieved over this issue, and it must be otherwise you wouldn’t have ranted about it, I think the Long Obligatory prayer directly addresses the issue.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    Thomas wrote: “But it appears the author of this rant, may have been defending the right to actually execute or appreciate that kind of image. ”

    no you missed my point. My point was that without freedom you don’t have newness. In my view the example you gave is a silly one no serious artist would be interested in because it is such a cliched approach. “oh let’s shock someone throw in a naked body” – serious artists are more interested in nuance / in using the arts in multifaceted ways. Your example is as flat as the examples of the copied portraits illustrated in the blog above. There’s no magic, no room for the aesthetic. My point: without freedom of expression there’s no room for this – for art.
    You continue to suggest that it doesn’t matter if a local (and in my post I was referring to a global, not just a particular locality) Bahai community rejects art. Artists can make art and be answerable to God about this. Agreed and artists do make art. I do and many others do (http://www.bahai-library.com/bafa) but my point was that Bahai communities, in only promoting art as a type of copying of the lowest domination one might call art (the trend of ‘musical firesides’ is another example. In the old days Bahais would choose their own songs to sing instead of following a formula), it means artists such as myself, do not have any dialogue with the Bahai community. Rather odd for a religion whose writings seem to have such a praise and value for the arts, don’t you think?

    Of course, I’m not sitting around waiting for anything to happen. That would be silly. All I am saying is that there are many Bahais such as myself who engage with the world as artists and our work certainly is Bahai in spirit and approach and engagement, but that the Bahai community (in general) misses this because there’s no space and no appreciation for the arts (as something original, expressive or free) in Bahai communities and that facebook book Bahai art group is a typical example of what you get instead.

  • Marena

    First of all … sorry for my faulty english.
    And thanks to all for this dialogue on Bahai art.

    I think that the holy writings of the prophets of our world religions have words for every unique soul, it is like an ocean of wise words for all mankind.
    And I think that it is import to see it that way.
    Many people make �folk art’ when they are creative, also when they make their painted / embroidered / sculpted / etc portraits or symbols of something or somebody they admire.
    A lot of people get strength from these portraits as a kind of symbol to lead them, and there is also a group of people ( where to belong many professional artists I think) who don’t like or need to imitate symbols or prefer to create new ones
    I think that there is nothing wrong with that.
    Let it be .. let be unity in diversity, our only way to world peace.
    There are so many kinds of expressions on art, every soul its own expression
    As well children as old people, as well intellectuals as more practical skilfull people, as well peace and quietness loving people as sceptical or assertive people, as well mentally handicapped as … etcetera etc
    It’s just freedom of expression that I find in the Bahai scripts.
    It’s all about being original, working together and not about sticking on our own self as the only example.
    I’m not a facebook member so I don’t know about this Bahai art group.
    I think … when you think that the label is not right you could give a comment on their page?
    I wonder if there is also professional art on this site?
    In my opinion there is nothing wrong when professional art and outsider art mixes.
    I think that it’s all about the process of learning, discovering, expressing and exchange of those actions between the family of man to become a more loving family

    I want to end with a phrase of Maria Yeliseyeva:

    When we use our creative talents, we are one with our Creator, one with ourselves, and one with the world.

    http://mariaschildren.ru/content/view/141/96/

  • fubar

    any psychic/spiritual/psychological healing that occurs within a religious community that is based on premodern, pre-rational mythic belief is probably little more than coincidence.

    in other words, if you took that same group of people and convinced them that sitting in a field worshiping sunflowers was “godly”, you would see about the same rate of “healing” from the practice of sunflower worship as you do from worship of so called “prophets”.

    the experience of spirituality is a product of evolution (brain wiring), no prophets or revelation is required beyond the “natural” revelation of spiritual talent that exists across the members of any human population at any point in human history.

    there is a clear item in bahai scripture that states that religion is dead when it becomes too bureaucratic.

    that point came and went a long time ago for bahai.

  • fubar

    There are a lot of people that have questions that traditional religion can’t answer, or has bad answers for.

  • Namayn

    If there is any song that breathes the oneness of humankind and reflects more the true spirit of the teachings of Bahaullah it is Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Listen at the start to how he sings the word: Lullaby. Truly an inspired Buddha moment.

    Yes the teachings of Bahaullah are a Lullaby to the investigative child in all human hearts. They are love, forgiveness, kindness, justice, fairness. He awaits us at that sandy beach singing his songs of peace and unity to all the star nations. And yes at the very end of the song IZ musically reminds us that not only we but also our beautiful Manifestations are all fallible no matter how close to the Great Mysterious One they may dwell and that we love and respect them all the more for it. Like the loose thread that Huichol artists leave on all their yarn paintings to remind us all that only God is infallible.

    Where troubles, pain and hurt from the fallible misunderstandings, shunning and excommunication of Masters, Guardians, Universal Houses of Justice melt like lemon drops high above the chimney tops that’s where you will find the true face of Bahaullah – a place where all the voices of love gather each moment in peace, calling us to follow their lead and let this planet breathe.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I

  • yoorana

    these realities will always be, also in non religious movements.
    as well deification as fear are everywhere and their faces are uncountable.
    you blind yourself by focussing on those fenomens
    read the holy books … but try to do it with an open mind
    it is not easy at all

  • Chriscbauman

    i think that the ‘them and us’ is an outdated concept, including liberal vs. conservative, creative vs. fundamentalist.

  • Baquia

    Chriscbauman, I can’t help but think that you’re just being too precious with that remark. There will always be differing value systems and differing view points on how life is best lived and how best to organize and administer a society. For those differing view points and values we need to use different labels in order to be able to communicate about them.

  • fubar

    “Life” is healing, growth, energy, dynamism, unpredictability, evolution, unfoldment, emergence, transformation, openness. As is the best art.

    Religion is encrustation/anti-pattern, but spirit transcends limits.

    yoorana said:
    “these realities will always be, also in non religious movements.”

    Religious movements make claims based on purity myths, clinging to illusions that cause suffering and that enslaved people for thousands of years. Purity myths are part of autocratic paradigms, excess hierarchy, dysfunctional/controlling memes.

    When a religion can not make sense of the modern world, it regresses into backward ideas. abdul-baha was wrong about evolution and buddhism, there was no “infallibility”, and bahais should not deify things that are wrong because doing so supports suffering and cliging to illusion.

    (yoo) “as well deification as fear are everywhere and their faces are uncountable.”

    Fear of what? Anxiety is the result of clinging, suffering. The human brain evolved to produce serenity because humans can imagine their own death in ways other animals can’t. Serenity evolved so that the pain of seeing a future death could be transcended. All “religion” comes from such evolution.

    (yoo) “you blind yourself by focussing on those fenomens”

    Truth, Goodness and Beauty are above the limits of any religion, including bahaism, its purity myths, and its backward conformism.

    (yoo) “read the holy books … but try to do it with an open mind”

    It is simple, if something causes suffering, becomes dysfunctional, and can not heal itself by coming to terms with reality, the world is better without it. People will always dream of the good they remember, and hope for healing.

    “it is not easy at all”

    bahais take the easy way out – starting with clinging to purity myths, childishness and autocracy.

    Why cling to things that are wrong and cause pain?

    Can good come from such lies? Why oppress people with such evil?