"La tero nur estas unu lando, kaj ĉiuj homoj ĝiaj civitanoj."
- Baha'u'llah

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Statement of my beliefs

For nearly 11 years, I believed that the only way I could possibly be a Bahai was to join the Haifan denomination. I, like so many others, believed what the administration proclaimed -- that it was the only valid form of the faith. I never felt comfortable with the "official" organization, and so I never joined... Which left me feeling extremely frustrated because I still felt so drawn to the faith.

Since I've only recently realised that the Bahai faith isn't really an organization, I'm still learning and establishing my newfound understanding of Bahaism. So I thought it might be helpful for me to write out my current observations and positions on the faith, as well as my personal spiritual beliefs in general. Of course, my thoughts are always subject to change, so who knows what revisions I'll make to this in the future. But hopefully it will be a useful exercise, and be interesting food for thought when I look at this a year or two from now.

* First of all, I am a Gnostic Christian, as well as a (Unitarian) Bahai. Some might see this as a contradiction, but I've always been very interfaith in my spiritual beliefs and practices, so it works just fine for me. If, as Bahais, we acknowledge the unity of the world's religions, and the oneness of God, then it makes perfect sense that one could practice more than one religion simultaneously. I've always felt that studying the world's faiths only serves to increase my knowledge and understanding of an unknowable God, rather than diminish it.

* I believe in reincarnation, and the continued existence of the soul upon death in this world.

* I believe the world we live in, while wonderful and beautiful, is not perfect. It's an imperfect reflection of a perfect reality. As such, nothing that is part of this world can be perfect and infallible -- including religious scripture, prophets, and their successors. A prophet might be as close to perfection as it's possible to get in this world, but I can't help but think that his own personal thoughts and opinions might still creep into his teachings. I also recognize, that even if a prophet's original teachings were 100% perfect, the various translations of them that get passed down through the ages are not! And the more time that passes, the more likely the translations that are available will differ from the original -- It's just like the telephone game we all played when we were little!

* I believe that Baha'u'llah was a prophet of God; one in a long line of prophets sent throughout history, including: Adam, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mani, Muhammad, and Baha'u'llah.

* I believe that Baha'u'llah may have been the expected return of Christ to the earth. Something I've always found interesting was that the Adventists expected Christ to return in 1844, and when he didn't it was called the Great Disappointment. However, 1844 was the year of the declaration of the Bab, Baha'u'llah's forerunner. So, perhaps the Adventists were right after all, and just simply missed Christ because he didn't return in the way they expected. After all, Christ did say he would "come like a thief in the night!" Thieves don't make big productions out of their arrival, do they?

* I believe in the unity of mankind, the equality of the sexes, the equality and unity of the races, and the need for a universal auxiliary language. I believe that national borders are basically imaginary constructions -- I consider myself a citizen of the world, not a citizen of the United States.

* I don't believe that the administrative order of the Haifan Baha'i Faith has any valid authority. I don't believe that Shoghi Effendi's authority was valid, and he was certainly not infallible. I believe that the Universal House of Justice does not fit the description of the House of Justice that Baha'u'llah gave in the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

* I believe that Baha'u'llah gave his son, Abdul-Baha, the right to interpret scripture -- not to claim absolute authority over the faith.

* I don't believe that Abdul-Baha's brother, Ghusn-i-Akbar, was a Covenant-Breaker. Abdul-Baha and his brother had an argument because Ghusn-i-Akbar didn't believe Abdul-Baha had as much authority over the faith as he claimed. Consequently, Abdul-Baha excommunicated him, and any of his family that agreed with him. That grudge has been held against Ghusn-i-Akbar's descendents to this very day, who, despite what the administration says, still validly consider themselves Bahais, faithful to Baha'u'llah's Covenant.

* Even if Shoghi Effendi's authority were to be considered valid, it's still a fact that he died without designating a successor. There is no Guardian of the Bahai faith any longer, and the UHJ does not take its place. Being without a Guardian, Bahais are now free to interpret the scriptures according to their own conscience.

* Baha'u'llah said nothing to suggest that homosexuality is a sin, or that gay couples could not marry each other. He condemned pedophilia/pederasty, and specific sex acts. We can't presume to put words in his mouth.

* I don't think Bahais are specifically prohibited from participating in any form of politics -- Although I just simply don't have much interest. I'm a Libertarian Socialist, and don't really believe in government. I'll work in matters that concern my fellow man, justice, human rights, etc., but prefer not to get involved in politics. I don't vote for any public office, but I will write to the appropriate political leaders to voice my opinion on various acts of legislation, if necessary.

* I have no right to press my religious beliefs upon others. I love hearing about other people's beliefs, and enjoy religious discussions, but won't participate in debates. I believe all paths lead to the same God, and no single path is going to be right for everyone.

I think that about sums it up! I'm sure I'll be adding to this list though, as I think of things. ;)

3 comments:

  1. Well said! I have my own statements of belief on my Wordpress blog:

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/an-honorable-skeptic/

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/i-am-not-an-orthodox-bahai/

    I hope you would consider joining a Unitarian Universalist church, if you have not done so already.

    Dale Husband

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  2. I just randomly stumbled upon your blog and started reading. I tend to have an eclectic interest in religion and always enjoy reading what others write. I just wanted to commend your passion and idealism.

    Blessings,
    This Good Life

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  3. Brother, I highly commend you on being an INDIVIDUAL!! In addition to being very eclectic spiritually, I am also a Unitarian Bahai (but I am a Unitarian Universalist), as well as a Buddhist and Panentheist.
    P.S. I as well am of the Radical Political Left.....Anarcho-pacifist!!! :-)
    KUDOS

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