Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 43: Rhett Diessner

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode, I’m at my home in Los Angeles with my uncle, Rhett Diessner, a Professor of Psychology who has a special interest in aesthetics and beauty. We talk about moral reasoning, materialism, and how he became a Baha’i. We discuss the psychology of beauty, how there’s no love without beauty, and that love holds the whole universe together. Rhett tells me how humans are all intimately linked, and how beauty will literally help save the world. I hope you enjoy the conversation!

To find out more about some of the things we covered in this episode, check out the following links:

  • I mention my podcast with Reza Aslan called ‘Metaphysical Milkshake‘.
  • Rhett mentions the Baha’i principle of the importance of the independent investigation of truth.
  • Rhett mentions Baha’i Firesides: What is a Baha’i Fireside?
  • Rhett and I talk about the book ‘Some Answered Questions‘ by Abdu’l-Baha.
  • Rhett mentions the ‘peace message’ from the Universal House of Justice called ‘The Promise of World Peace‘.
  • Rhett mentions The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan).
  • Rhett shares the following quote from ‘The Most Holy Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas)’ by Baha’u’llah: “Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty.”
  • Rhett and I talk about Shoghi Effendi spending time in Switzerland. Find out more about Shoghi Effendi here: Shoghi Effendi: A Bridge to the World.

    Also, below is the photograph Rhett took of the bench as mentioned in the podcast:

  • Rhett mentions Dr. Hossein Danesh, and you can listen to some of his talks here:
    – “Making Peace Our New Year’s Resolution
    – “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions: The Challenge of Making Right Decisions
  • Rhett mentions working with the renowned American psychologist, Lawrence Kohlberg, best known for his theory of stages of moral development.
  • Rhett mentions the works of Carol Gilligan and her book ‘In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development‘.
  • Rhett and I mention Dr. Steven Phelps who was a guest on the Baha’i Blogcast twice:
    – Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 7: Steven Phelps
    – [VIDEO] Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 37: Physics and Mysticism with Steven Phelps
  • Rhett mentions the Baha’i World Centre in Israel, and you may find this Baha’i Blog article interesting: Why is the Baha’i World Centre in Israel?
  • Rhett mentions a prayer by Baha’u’llah called ‘The Tablet of Ahmad’ which you can read here, and also read about here: The Tablet of Ahmad: Who Was Ahmad?
  • Rhett mentions the ‘Long Obligatory Prayer’ by Baha’u’llah, which you can read here, and also read about here: A Prayer to Power Up Your Day: The Long Obligatory Prayer
  • Rhett quotes from the book ‘The Seven Valleys’ by Baha’u’llah: “…see every face with the beauty of a friend…”. You can read ‘The Seven Valleys’ here, and learn more about it here: An Introduction to The Seven Valleys
  • You can find all of our episodes here on the Baha’i Blogcast page, and be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Baha’i Blogcast for more upcoming episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud.

    Thanks for listening!

    -Rainn Wilson

    About the Author

    Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

    Visit Author's Website

    Discussion 1 Comment

    1. Here’s an elegant definition that has recently come my way: “Beauty is anything the perception of which makes the observer feel more alive.” (source unremembered, though I know I got it from an episode of Jeff Salzman’s Daily Evolver podcast series). This works for me on a personal level as any one of the myriad examples of beauty that I can think of has this effect on me, while examples of ugliness, conversely, have the opposite effect. And I’d say that the feeling most clearly associated with beauty is that of joy, which, according to emotional intelligence expert Vivian Dittmar in her book The Power of Feelings, is the feeling we have when there is no gap between what we want and what is (i.e. when we are fully accepting of life as it is, and grateful for it). I also think this definition ties in nicely with Diessner’s reference to beauty as the supreme motivator and as well as with the phrase “the Blessed Beauty” to refer to the Manifestation of God–God being the source of all life. Does this resonate with anyone?

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