The independent investigation of truth is one of the fundamental teachings of the Baha’i Faith. On the surface the idea that each of us should investigate the truth for ourselves instead of blindly adopting a belief simply because it is held by those around us sounds logical and fairly self-explanatory. It is hard to make one’s faith one’s own without researching the truths upon which it is founded and assessing whether these resonate with who we are and the values that are most important to us. Instead of attempting to explain my elementary understanding of this topic, which I am coming to realize is constantly evolving, I thought perhaps the best approach might be to share my personal process of investigation, and what I have gleaned from my effort to find answers in the Baha’i Writings.
I began with the following six questions:
- What is truth and where do we find it?
- What tools and methods can we use to investigate truth?
- How do we know when we’ve reached the truth?
- What if there are contradictions in what we know to be true?
- Is independent investigation of truth a single event or a life-long process?
- Where can we look to find out more about this teaching?
When it comes to religion, one of the first things that may spring to many people’s minds is the concept of sin; as when hearing about anything resembling rules, the mind can very naturally turn to the logistics of breaking them. However, while the concept of divine law is relatively ubiquitous among religions the specifics vary to different degrees and I’d like to begin this article by offering a Baha’i perspective of divine law and morality.
Then I’d like to briefly explore the concept of sin, not through a meticulous survey of what is described as a sin in the Baha’i Writings, but through a broader consideration of the concept itself. It should be noted that except for the direct quotations of Abdu’l-Baha and Baha’u’llah, the text of this article is only my own interpretations and the reader should insert an “in my opinion” after any statement made. Continue reading
(Photo courtesy of 9starjewelry.com)
Everything you know is put to the test when you have children. Recently, after singing the prayer that begins “O God! Educate these children…” for what must have been the 1,000th time, my five year old asked me: “What is the Sun of Reality?” She stopped me in my tracks. I really had to think about it, and think about how to explain my thoughts. She also frequently asks about what is referred to as “the ringstone symbol”, a work of calligraphy often found on Baha’i-inspired jewelry, and used by many of our family members. My answers to all these questions need some work, so this prompted me to read up on this significant symbol and, in preparation for the next time she asks about it, I’ve written up seven questions and answers about the ringstone symbol: Continue reading
The harmony of science and religion is a fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith. Abdu’l-Baha declares, “if religious beliefs and opinions are found contrary to the standards of science they are mere superstitions and imaginations; for the antithesis of knowledge is ignorance, and the child of ignorance is superstition.”
While conflict between religious doctrine and scientific theory is a recurring theme throughout the history of humanity, a contemporary example of this tension is found in discussions regarding evolution and the origin of our species. Given the centrality of the theory of evolution to the scientific enterprise and the importance of reconciling the teachings of the Faith and the established precepts of science, we thought it beneficial to briefly review some of the Baha’i principles on the subject. Shoghi Effendi cautions us, when studying Abdu’l-Baha’s teachings on the subject, that “these various statements must be taken in conjunction with all the Baha’i teachings; we cannot get a correct picture by concentrating on just one phrase.”
There are points of unequivocal agreement between Abdu’l-Baha and the science of evolution, such as the principle that humans, like all other species, have evolved over time: Continue reading
Outwardly, the Baha’i notion of the oneness of religion is the furthest thing from the present babel of creeds competing to win the hearts and minds of mankind. It would be folly to deny that the belief systems and religious observances today represent a discordant cornucopia of theologies and rites.
Outward observance and formal theology is one thing. The actual living faith of billions from different religious backgrounds is an entirely different thing. The latter is usually far less defined and often has a lot in common across cultures and faith traditions. In my travels I’ve become completely sold to the notion that ordinary believers the world over, irrespective of faith tradition, have much more in common than theologians and so-called scholars. Intuitively these sincere ordinary folks possess a pure idea of the Divine. Continue reading
In celebration of the centenary of the Tablets of the Divine Plan the Universal House of Justice released two joyous and love laden messages: one to the Baha’is of the World, and one to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada, the original recipients of Abdu’l-Baha’s Tablets of the Divine Plan.
These sweet letters are very fortifying and invigorating; they bolster my resolve to add my own personal herculean effort to teach the Cause in the coming Five Year Plan. One way in which these messages inspire me is by linking our current endeavours with the Tablets of the Divine Plan. This centenary is not a typical acknowledgement of something that occurred 100 years ago — it is a celebration of how much we have accomplished with them as a guide and inspiration, and an act of thanksgiving and praise for how much they will continue to impact and inform our work. In its letter to the Baha’is of the world, “acting under the mandate of Abdu’l-Baha”, the House of Justice opens with these words: Continue reading
The question, “Is God real?” was posed to me by my four-year-old daughter. A simple “yes” would not suffice and she further asked; “But I can’t see Him, so how do I know He’s real?”
I admittedly struggled with her question. How do you explain the unseen force of God to anyone, let alone a four-year-old?
I was on a quest to answer my pre-schoolers seemingly simple question, but my journey took me into the world of metaphysics and beyond. Continue reading
Religion has produced some of the greatest achievements of humanity but this fact is often obscured today as people and the media focus on the horrors resulting from its power.
By now we should all know that if people want to use religion as a method to get their own way, they have an ominous weapon.
Religion taps the very source of motivation because it has to do with the absolute and the eternal, so if somebody or a group successfully manipulates it for negative ends they can achieve their aims with the help of followers whose morale is sky high.
Down the centuries there have been many wars and atrocities because of this manipulation of religious feeling and allegiance. When that happens, religion becomes a counterfeit version of the real thing. Continue reading
Photo: Baha'i World Centre
In the Baha’i Faith, the concept of “service” plays an important role, and we believe that service to others gives meaning and purpose to life.
Service to humanity is service to God.
In the Baha’i Writings, there are many aspects to service, and there are just as many ways to serve as there are ‘servants of God’, so let’s break it down and reflect on the idea of service as it relates to the Faith: Continue reading
Miracles are important events in the Christian Bible, but do Baha’is believe in miracles?
Of course we do! God’s power is beyond any limitation – He is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will:
The operation of miracles is not necessarily irrational or illogical. It does by no means constitute a limitation of the Omnipotence of God. The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God’s power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom.
The belief in the possibility of miracles has never been rejected in the Baha’i teachings. Their importance, however, has been minimized: Continue reading