Judging the spiritual condition of others

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Judging the spiritual condition of others

Postby Dorumerosaer » Fri Aug 18, 2006 12:29 am

I posted that before taking to heart the views of someone about the Cause, I look at the relationship of that person to the Cause:

"If someone says something about the institutions of the Faith, or the progress or conduct of the Cause, I first look at where that person is, in relation to the Cause. Is the person an ardent supporter of the House of Justice? Is that person close to the spirit of the Cause? Is he on good terms with the Universal House of Justice? I will weigh his or her views carefully. Or is that person expelled from the Cause, distant from its spirit, and at odds with its administration? Then I don't care how many degrees he has in how many fields, I don't care how many languages he can speak, I don't care how clever his arguments. I hold his opinion as naught, because where he leads, I don't want to go."

In response one of the friends posting wrote:

"Based upon the above, I must concede to your obviously greater spiritual perceptiveness. I myself do not possess the ability to judge the spiritual orientation of others. Whenever I can, I try to see myself as less than everyone else, which means that I must try to consider their opinions at least as valid as my own. "I seek her everywhere, haply I shall find her."

I would like to address this interesting subject -- the relationship between humility, or seeing oneself as less than others, and perception, judgment about the validity of the opinions of others, based on their spiritual state.

Let me begin by saying that I disagree that humility means that I believe that everyone else's opinion is superior to mine. If that's the case, then I haven't learned anything from my experience. True, at the beginning the seeker doesn't know deadly poison from healing medicine; but I think we are expected to learn this, to learn to reject the poison, and to seek out wholesome medicine.

Baha'u'llah says this several times in the Persian Hidden Words:

56. O MY SON!
The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart. He that seeketh to commune with God, let him betake himself to the companionship of His loved ones; and he that desireth to hearken unto the word of God, let him give ear to the words of His chosen ones.

Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.

Wouldst thou seek the grace of the Holy Spirit, enter into fellowship with the righteous, for he hath drunk the cup of eternal life at the hands of the immortal Cup-bearer and even as the true morn doth quicken and illumine the hearts of the dead.

"With all his heart he should avoid fellowship with evil-doers....He should treasure the companionship of them that have renounced the world, and regard avoidance of boastful and worldly people a precious benefit." (The Book of Certitude, p. 194).

Following each of these divine admonitions implies that Baha'u'llah is telling us that we have to determine who the "ungodly" and "evil-doers" and "boastful" and "worldly people are, and who the "righteous" and "those who have renounced the world" are. Not that I seek to divide all humanity all day. But rather, that when deciding who to "seek fellowship" with, I make this determination. When I want to know where to drink the draft of the Holy Spirit -- I must make this determination. If I want to become a true seeker, I must make this determination. I don't know how else I could carry out this spiritual guidance, without making such judgments about who I will spend time with, whose counsel I will seek.

Yet, elsewhere Baha'u'llah says to be meek and lowly, to not despise the sinful, for no man knows his own end. So my purpose is not to walk around with a measuring stick and see who I'm better than. Rather, it is to exercise care, for my own spiritual safety and security. I am not invulnerable.

I think that as a people, we Baha'is do a lousy job of protecting ourselves. We spend far too little time educating our Baha'i children and youth, how to protect themselves, how to choose our friends (as Baha'u'llah here tells us), and how to determine whose spirit is an aid to our quest for communion with the Holy Spirit. Rather, I feel that we misapply the principle of association with all people, and we do not equip our young people to exercise spiritual discretion in selecting their friends. They become polluted, and many, many of our most precious youth become worldly and fall away from the Cause.

Because we have not taught them how to spiritually protect themselves; and a big part of that is care in choosing one's companions. They go willy-nilly through life, making no judgments about the spiritual state of their companions, and before they know it, they've (or we've) been corrupted.

There are several places where the Master says that we need to make spiritual determinations about the inner state of people -- good or bad:

"Those who speak falsehoods, who covet worldly things and seek to accumulate the riches of this earth are not of me. But when you find a person living up to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, following the precepts of the Hidden Words, know that he belongs to Bahá'u'lláh; and, verily, I proclaim that he is of me. If, on the other hand, you see anyone whose deeds and conduct are contrary to and not in conformity with the good pleasure of the Blessed Perfection and against the spirit of the Hidden Words, let that be your standard and criterion of judgment against him, for know that I am altogether severed from him no matter who he may be. This is the truth."
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 457)

"O ye beloved ones, guard the Cause of God! Let no sweetness of tongue beguile you -- nay, rather consider the motive of every soul, and ponder the thought he cherisheth. Be ye straightway mindful and on your guard. Avoid him, yet be not aggressive!"
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 315)

"O army of God! Whensoever ye behold a person whose entire attention is directed toward the Cause of God; whose only aim is this, to make the Word of God to take effect; who, day and night, with pure intent, is rendering service to the Cause; from whose behaviour not the slightest trace of egotism or private motives is discerned -- who, rather, wandereth distracted in the wilderness of the love of God, and drinketh only from the cup of the knowledge of God, and is utterly engrossed in spreading the sweet savours of God, and is enamoured of the holy verses of the Kingdom of God -- know ye for a certainty that this individual will be supported and reinforced by heaven; that like unto the morning star, he will forever gleam brightly out of the skies of eternal grace. But if he show the slightest taint of selfish desires and self love, his efforts will lead to nothing and he will be destroyed and left hopeless at the last."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 71)

"Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind -- except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul."
(Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 158)

I feel that the Writings present a balance we need to meet. While we seek to be humble before all, I don't think that means that we can afford to be careless with our spirituality; Baha'u'llah repeatedly says to protect ourselves.

Ye are My treasury, for in you I have treasured the pearls of My mysteries and the gems of My knowledge. Guard them from the strangers amidst My servants and from the ungodly amongst My people.

"Unloose the tongue with excellent utterance, then admonish the people if ye find them advancing unto the sanctuary of God; otherwise abandon them unto themselves and forsake them in the abyss of hell. Beware lest ye scatter the pearls of inner significance before every barren, dumb one." (Baha'u'llah, The Tablet of the Branch, Baha'i World Faith, p. 207)

"Expect not that they who violate the ordinances of God will be trustworthy or sincere in the faith they profess. Avoid them, and preserve strict guard over thyself, lest their devices and mischief hurt thee." (Gleanings p. 233)

"Therefore, O brother! kindle with the oil of wisdom the lamp of the spirit within the innermost chamber of thy heart, and guard it with the globe of understanding, that the breath of the infidel may extinguish not its flame nor dim its brightness." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 61)

The evidence of those who have not heeded this is, alas, abundant in our community.

In particular, I feel that humility has absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the viewpoint of another person. I can love, respect, and be humble before others, but to give away my integrity, to give away the precious fruit of my own life's experience, and to substitute the views, great or worthless, of other people, and deem them as superior to the inner guidance God gave me, is to me to cast away the divine gift of understanding that God has given me.

Surely, each soul has something I can learn from; but that does not mean that they know more than I do about life, and I think I need to exercise some spiritual common sense.

Just my view.


Sean H.
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"community practice"

Postby Sean H. » Sat Aug 19, 2006 10:59 am


Thanks for another extraordinarily informative post.

An additional element is that the nature of "community" itself is an object of considerable study. (more generally, "organizational culture" is known to have universal characteristics, whether religious groups, businesses, and most other groups. In other words, the old saying that "people are social animals".)

Systems theory, neuroscience, new theories in linguistics, consciousness studies and other similar recently emerged "holistic" fields have cast considerable light on "social organization".

People's behavior is partly a result of "socialization patterns", they learn (both "good" and "bad") from those around them. Such complex learning is obviously one of the most important evoutionary adaptions of human beings.

Memetics ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme ) proposes that ideas and values replicate in a somewhat "evolutionary" manner between individuals in society. Some of the people that have been working on integrating spirituality and rationalism/modernism/postmodernism picked up the idea of memetics in the process of studying the developmental nature of human spirituality.

Organizational/political change theorists of course have addressed what happens when a given organization's internal culture becomes "dysfunctional". There is a huge amount of literature on related business topics (e.g., Senge's "Learning Organization").

The theologican/psychiatrist M. Scott Peck studied "intentional community", and helped organize an "intentional community" (Foundation for Community Encouragement) whose goal was to provide service to others doing the same. (The group obviously had a lot of "communal", "counterculture elements", and influences from the "new age" and "human potential" movement, but Peck himself became almost conventional in his Christian beliefs as he got older, or at least he focused his devotional life away from eastern religions which he was involved in when he was younger).

FCE developed a method of intense self-evaluation in which the health of a group is constantly monitored or "honesty", "openness", "transparency", "clarity of mission", etc. (most of these are "spiritual attributes" in "Baha'i-speak").

Some of FCE's training materials, previously only available at considerable cost tp those attending seminars, are being made available for f-r-e-e, presumably in the spirit of public service that inspired FCE's founding:


Here is a basic explanation of the method:



What is Community Building?

Community Building, as practiced in the context of FCE, is a group process where participants experience and practice communication skills that create the possibility for deep human connection.

The process was first described by best-selling author, Dr. M. Scott Peck, in his book, The Different Drum. He presented further information in a later book, A World Waiting To Be Born.

Participants sit in a circle. Brief instruction is offered regarding the guidelines (see download page) for interaction. Supported by two facilitators, the group begins to interact with persons speaking as they are moved to do so. The work of Community Building belongs to the group as a whole. The facilitators do not teach or provide answers. Their role is to pay attention to the group process and give helpful feedback to the group as it does its work.

Generally, a group will cycle through four distinct stages. In the stage of Pseudo-Community, the group is characterized by polite interaction as individuals "test the waters" of relationship, operating on the assumption that group members have few differences that divide them.

As the group continues to talk, the previously unspoken differences begin to emerge. Typically, participants deal with the discomfort caused by the discovery of difference by seeking to "fix" others or to "convert" people to their point of view. In this stage, there is often limited listening, high emotional energy, and a significant level of frustration. This stage has been labeled chaos.

Groups regularly deal with the confusion of chaos by retreating to the stage of pseudo-community or by attempting to organize in some way. Neither of these avenues leads to a deep level of connection with others. A difficult, but effective way to transcend the barriers to relationship lies through emptiness.

[*] Emptying happens when individuals begin
[*] to notice what they are carrying within
[*] themselves that prevents them from being
[*] authentically present with the group and
[*] fully accepting others.

As people begin to share what is real for them—personal experience of the present moment in the group, prejudices, stories of past pain or joy, unfulfilled expectations—group members begin to come together in a new way. In this stage, a group will often feel like it is dying but,

[*] in the painful struggle to let go of the
[*] barriers to relationship, there is
[*] opportunity for something new to emerge.

The process of emptying provides room for a group to receive the gift of Community. In this stage

[*] people experience a deep acceptance of others

and find themselves accepted as well. Individuals come to know themselves and others in new ways.

[*] Differences still exist but they are transcended
[*] and celebrated rather than suppressed.

The group is characterized by a sense of profound respect, appreciation and joy.

Each of these stages is part of healthy community. A group will not rest undisturbed in the fourth stage but continue to cycle through all the stages. A gift of this process is that people acquire skills to enable continued movement through the stages instead of being stuck in places of division. Community Building provides an opportunity for people to learn how to come together authentically and truthfully in ways that encourage wholeness in relationship.

---end excerpt---

My guess is that one of the major reasons that people (including youth) loose interest in being involved in the Bahai community is because of the prevalance of "Pseudo-Community" and other (frequently deeply ingrained) group dysfunctionalities, not "just" because there has been some failure to properly train them in methods of spiritual protection.

In other words, the dysfunctional tendencies within the Baha'i community are themselves a source of "pollution". Imagine the despair and hopelessness that can potentially result people have to confront the harsh reality that the very group that is supposed to provide a spiritual refuge is itself a source of toxicity.

A paper is available on this web site that deals with some similar themes from a Baha'i perspective:

http://bahai-library.com/conferences/co ... reads.html

Contributed by author, Lin Deahl-Coy

Common Threads:
A Theory and Practice of Community Development
Lin Deahl-Coy, M.A.
John W. Suggs, Jr. M.B.A.

Presented at the 23rd Annual Association of Baha'i Studies Conference,
"Sacred Justice: Uniting the Human Family," in Tempe, Arizona on June 19, 1999


In 1992, in response to the call for the development of human resources, we designed a program to teach practical skills of love, support and belonging. We were inspired by the following statement by the Guardian on the integration of science and religion.

"It is hoped that all Baha'i students will.. Be led to investigate and analyze the principles of the Faith and to correlate them with the modern aspects of philosophy and science. Every intelligent and thoughtful young Baha'i should always approach the Cause in this way, for there in lies the very essence of the principle of independent investigation of the Truth."
Aug. 6, 1933 Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer.

We were further encouraged by the May 19, 1994-letter from the Universal House of Justice and its encouragement to pursue individual initiatives. We, therefore, continued to develop both a theory and a practice of community growth and development.

Utilizing the principle of the harmony of science and religion, this program employs the empirically validated findings from the behavioral and social sciences and correlates them with the spiritual principles of the Baha'i Faith. We found supplementing spiritual principles with scientific findings generates practical interventions crucial to uniting the hearts of a humanity gripped by the developmental crisis of adolescence: Intimacy vs. Isolation.

The results of our collaboration are a two-day workshop, a book, a presenter's manual, a video tape for trainers, which is under construction, and a research study which gives us an inside view of what Baha'is need most from their communities.


The Baha'i Community has been given the call to massively increase its numbers while transforming souls. The primary focus of the 4 YEAR PLAN is "the significant advancement of the process of entry by troops" and the assimilation of thousands of new believers. Yet, as we will show in our research people have a predominant need for support, friendship and "family feeling" which is best achieved in small, close-knit circles of people/families.
. . .


The Common Threads program is designed to empower Baha'i Communities to embrace the spiritually starving masses of new believers and to retain them throughout their lives as active servants and promoters of the Cause of God. We offer solutions to the consolidation problems of rapid growth and the maintenance issues of long term communities; insight into mastering the art of transforming a small community into a larger community; tools for meeting the needs of present and future members; retention practices which will help stop attrition and ideas for intervening with believers on the Dropout-Track.

Our purpose is to introduce skills and practical tools which empower believers to effectively produce vibrant, cohesive communities which are animated by a climate of love and support, and infused with the power of spiritual dynamism. Utilizing tools for the systematic needs-assessment, expansion and consolidation are both accomplished by planning and implementing systems which insure that there are opportunities for the most important needs to be met. Our most ardent hope is that communities will expand their capacities to better meet the collective needs of a suffering humanity and begin to recreate "the very foundation of individual and collective life."

. . .


The primary hypothesis was that the need to belong would be the primary need of Baha'i members. It therefore follows that consolidation, retention, and consecration of adherents hinges upon the community's ability to meet the need to belong. If we are recognized as a statistically valid sample of the greater community in which we reside then the secondary hypothesis is that the need for belonging is the primary attractor which draws people into a spiritual organization. Therefore, the success of programs aimed at the growth and expansion of the Baha'i Faith likewise, depended upon the community's ability to meet the belonging or love needs.


In order to organize the need assessment data gathered, we must have a theoretical framework. If we simply ask the question, "What do you need from your Baha'i Community?" without using some form of scientifically valid means of sorting those needs into meaningful information, we merely have a flatland of responses to which no physical, social or spiritual priorities can be assigned. Therefore, we created an Enhanced Needs Hierarchy which is grounded in the work of Abraham Maslow plus 40 years of research on human needs conducted since his death. This is augmented by the seminal Work of Ken Wilbur who outlines a spectrum of consciousness which includes within the domain of science transpersonal states of consciousness previously relegated to the domain of spirituality and perennial wisdom traditions. These scientific findings are correlated with spiritual principles. Converging the physical/mental needs hierarchy of Maslow with the mystical needs hierarchy gives us an entirely new way to view the full spectrum of human needs.

The tenants of this expanded needs theory and the complete operational definition of needs are detailed in the Enhanced Needs Hierarchy theory in the Common Threads book. (Deahl-Coy, 1995, & 1998 pp.9- 62)

. . .

The needs hierarchy includes the following levels: basic, safety, knowledge, belonging, meaning, self esteem, self actualization, surrender and servitude. Needs are met from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top.

Needs are universal - the means to meet needs is cultural and individual. There is no one formula to meet a universal need; that is the challenge of application.
. . .

Having emptied themselves of preconceived ideas and dogmas, they are open and receptive to the new experiences of life; they focus on unity, sacred vision, virtues, and spiritual teachings. (Maslow, Further Reaches, p. 272). For these people the transcendent, sacred experience is the most important and defining experience in their lives. They can see the sacredness in all things at the same time they see the practical Deficit levels of needs and can address both the physical and spiritual needs. (Maslow, Further Reaches, p 273). As Abdu'l Baha says, they can walk the spiritual path with practical feet.

Abdu'l Baha says that the station of servitude to God is the highest station that mankind can hope to attain. In the Baha'i writings this state of conscience is best described by Baha'u'llah in Seven Valleys and Four Valleys.
. . .

[emphasis present in the original material]
. . .


As well as cohesive unity meets needs and produces results, it is rarely maintained for long. The warmth tends encouraging sharing the experience with others which attracts new members who bring with them a life time of experiences, new views and needs must be heard and respected. The challenge and chaos of individual differences is back with it's full potential to destroy the group. That is the cycle of crisis and victory.

The means of maintaining the community are:

[] the recognition of what phase of group process they are in and then using appropriate skills to move the process forward toward consultation and true unity;

[] periodically assessing the needs of the members and adjusting the activities of the group to match the needs and resources;

[] propagate new groups when enrollment grows and
prayer, patience and persistence.

The whole life model also recognizes that small groups, which are not a part of the Baha'i administrative structure, have a life span which may include death. When a group has served the purpose for which is was convened, rather than let slow dropouts drag out a painful demise, the group members may wish to celebrate the closure of the group and thus signal the greater community the members are ready to move on to another endeavors. Maintenance is the struggle to constantly reassess and adjust to changing needs


[*] Generally, people who form needs centered
[*] groups have little formal understanding of
[*] group process,

except for what they have learned in life. They have few group maintenance skills and, under stress, may let their virtues lapse. What conditions give groups a greater chance of success?

There are three key variables which contribute to the success of the small need centered groups.

The FIRST is that the more thoroughly all the participants have incorporated Spiritual Virtues into their behaviors, the more competently the group can navigate through the process. This is of vital importance, but we must never lose sight of the fact that communities that stumble accidentally into a unified state, can't repeat the process on demand because their understanding of what they did is unclear.

The SECOND variable is the training of as many members as possible in the dynamics of group process and the skills needed to facilitate it. Empowering members with practical skills and intervention techniques will equip our growing community with the tools needed to deepen the bonds of unity.

If you can't train everyone in the community, then the THIRD variable is to develop a cadre of trained group facilitators who can facilitate the training of new small groups of seekers and new Baha'is to use the process of consultation and to improve communication by practicing spiritual virtues.

In the face of Entry By Troops we cannot afford to rely on serendipity to meet the need for love, support and belonging. Therefore, we should educate as many members of the community as possible. Remember, the role of Local Spiritual Assemblies is to provide for the training of the members of the community. Once trained, it is the responsibility of the individual believer to make the needs centered groups in the community succeed.
. . .

Abdu'l-Baha. The Secret of Divine Civilization. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Abdu'l-Baha. Abdu'l-Baha. Some Answered Questions. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Abdu'l-Baha. Selections form the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Baha'u'llah. Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1952.

Baha'u'llah. The Hidden Words of Baha'u'llah. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Baha'u'llah. The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Baha'u'llah. Tablets of Baha'u'llah. Wilmette: Baha'i Publishing Trust.

Corey, Gerald, Corey, M. S., Callanan, Patrick, and Russell, J. Michael. Group Techniques. Moterey: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, 1982.

Deahl-Coy, Lin. Common Threads: Weaving the Fabric of Community. Unpublished manuscript, 1995.

Erikson, Erick. Childhood and Society. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1963.

Frankl, Viktor. Man's Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1959.

Glasser, William. Reality Therapy. New York: Harper and Row, 1965.

Hidas, Andrew. Psychotherapy and Surrender: A Psychospiritual Perspective, Journal of Transpersonal Psychology.

Jacobi, Jolande. The Psychology of C. G. Jung. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973 Ed.

Jordan, Daniel. Becoming Your True Self. London: The Bahai Publishing Trust. 1993.

Jung, Carl. The Undiscovered Self. New York: Signet, 1958.

Keen, Sam. Hymns to an Unknown God.

Lample, Paul, compiler. A Wider Horizon Selected Messages of the Universal House of Justice 1982- 1982. Riveriea Beach, FL: Palabra, 1992.

Maslow, Abraham. Toward a Psychology of Being. 2nd ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968.

Maslow, Abraham. The Farther Reaches of Human Nature. New York: Penquin, 1971.

Peck, M. Scott, M.D. A Difference Drum - Community Making and Peace. New York: Bantam

Peck, M Scott,M.D. A World Waiting to Be Born - Civility Rediscovered. New York: Bantam, 1993.

Savage, John. Calling and Caring workshop

Universal House of Justice, Letter. May 19,1994.

Wilber, Ken. No Boundary. Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc, 1979.

Wilber, Ken. Sex, Ecology, Spirituality. Boston: Shambala Publications, Inc, 1995.

Wilber, Ken. Spectrum of Conscouisness. Boston: Shambala Publications, 1977.

Articles delivered to Conferences

---end excerpt---

One of the dysfunctionalities that I've seen in Baha'i communities is that there is such frustration over the process of meeting the need for "belonging" (love) that people start to conflate categories of meaning. Specifically people make the mistake of equating conformance around rigidly defined doctrinal positions with "real" group cohesion. Then anyone that dares to question the validity of attempting to enforce conformance with the rigid doctrines is accused of being "spiritually unworthy" (or in more extreme cases, lacking "firmness in the Covenant", etc.)

In other cases, the need for group belonging ends up being an exercise in group intellectual masturbation, with all categories of meaning collapsed into empty platitudes, "nicey-nicey" talk and self-congratulatory rhetoric about how "wonderful" everything Baha'i must always be.

Apparently out of ignorance, laziness and/or fright, people in the Baha'i community seem to have a very difficult time recognising the need to break out of patterns of dysfunctionality.

What ends of being substituted for "healthy community" is conformism and bureaucratic "social engineering" solutions to problems that at root, can only be solved with honesty, openness, trust and transparency (which means that people have to transcend the tendency to be guarded, hold in pain and despair (etc.), in order to express their vulnerabilities).

What I've seen happen over and over is that people that do open up and share their vulnerabilities are exploited in a variety of ways (the terms "teaching" and "Covenant" are almost always present when such exploitation is happening, although in some cases, ultr-liberal/progressive/post-modern exploitation also occurs). What happens then is that if the group can't hold the "exploiters" responsible, "toxicity" begins to spread further and further, and the group becomes stasist.


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Postby Dorumerosaer » Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:32 pm

In listening to the CD from the most recent US National Convention, it sounds like the delegates felt that they were moving from pseudo-community forward. There were several heartfelt comments from Baha'is feeling they were really heard, particularly from African-American friends.

As far as "the dysfunctional tendencies within the Baha'i community" I personally see more malfunctional or nonfunctional than dysfunctional. You are familiar with terminology, but others frequently misuse the word "dysfunctional" which was very clearly explained to me by the late, beloved, Professor Jalil Mahmoudi, who said:

If you drink a glass of water and it quenches your thirst, it is functional.

If you drink a glass of water and it quenches your thirst, but not very well, it is malfunctional.

If you drink a glass of water and it has no effect one way or the other on your thirst, it is nonfunctional.

If you drink a glass of water and it makes you thirsty, it is dysfunctional.

Again, you may mean dysfunctional, but I just wanted to see if we could agree on this terminology.

By the way, the materials from FCE were very good.

I also wanted to mention that I think that some of the finest expressions of what Baha'i community life can be come from the Greatest Holy Leaf. Her writings are extremely profound and moving. They start on page 93 here:

Most of these letters were written when she was acting as the head of the Faith, during the lengthy absence of Shoghi Effendi. Her letters had a remarkable effect on the bonding force operating in the Baha'i communities worldwide. I don't know of any Baha'i literature addressing her impact on the communities during this time; but surely this will one day be addressed.


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Postby onepence » Sat Aug 19, 2006 3:47 pm


I am glad that you brought up the subject of the Greatest Holy Leaf because I was thinking of her when we were discussing our Gaurdian and his education at Oxford.

If you get a chance would you be so kind as to write a little {or a lot! *smile*} about some of the interactions between the two of them.

I mean ... you stop and think about it ... our Guardian had like alot alot alot of major tests that he had to succesfully pass before he would consider himself as being the Guardian and I think it was the Greatest Holy Leaf whom, towards the end of these tests, helped him the most to understand His Selfless Being.

On a side note ... my wife and I often laugh at ourselves as we go about our daily lives ... and sometimes we will repeat the comment ...

"Be a man Kyle!"

to each other
said at different times with different emotional inflictions
that we heard on the TV sitcom Living Single.


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Postby Dorumerosaer » Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:01 am

Your comment about being willing to talk with others, reminds me of this reported statement from `Abdu'l-Baha:

"Now associate with good people. You must try to associate with those who will do you good and who will be the cause of your being more awakened, and not with those who will make you negligent of God. For example, if one goes into a garden and associates with flowers, one will surely inhale the beautiful fragrance, but if one goes to a place where there are bad-scented plants, it is sure he will inhale an unpleasant odour. In short, I mean that you will try to be with those who are purified and sanctified souls. Man must always associate with those from whom he can get light, or be with those to whom he can give light. He must either receive or give instructions. Otherwise, being with people without these two intentions, he is spending his time for nothing, and, by so doing, he is neither gaining nor causing others to gain." From the Diary of Juliet Thompson 5 July 1909


Sean H.
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"dysfunctionality" and "tikkun"

Postby Sean H. » Sun Aug 20, 2006 12:54 pm

pilgrimbrent wrote:In listening to the CD from the most recent US National Convention, it sounds like the delegates felt that they were moving from pseudo-community forward. There were several heartfelt comments from Baha'is feeling they were really heard, particularly from African-American friends.

I've seen slow forward progress, but in my opinion it is currently so glacial that it is hard to see how it will result in any deep change on a significant basis for decades.

My impression (I've been mostly out of the loop for about 5 years) is that there are entrenched paradigms in the communnity that will be very resistant to anything other than superficial or minor displays of movement beyond pseudo-community.

One example: it took a friend of mine TWO YEARS to just get basic recognition across about the essence of the "institute process" to the group that, at the time, was doing the initial development of the institute stuff here. To be clear, this was a devout person that is very dedicated to ensuring that the reform proposals of the Universal House of Justice were being properly understood. It took TWO YEARS for the majority of the institute group to understand ONE BASIC REFORM idea.

I've heard many horror stories about how Ruhi classes are basically breeding grounds for literalist/fundamentalist mentalities.

I call Ruhi "the latest attempt at 'reinventing bureaucracy'". In my opinion, the institute "reform" process was meant to profoundly alter the nature of "leadership" paradigms in the Baha'i community (amongst other things), but that element of the institute process has been hijacked/marginalized.

The point being that the current dominant paradigm(s) in the community not based on innovation, at least no innovation that theatens to change the influence of those paradigms in any significant way.

Of course saying any of that within the Baha'i communiy would invite a huge storm of denunciations, charges by reactionary Baha'i fanatics that the critic is a near-Covenant-Breaker, etc.

pilgrimbrent wrote:As far as "the dysfunctional tendencies within the Baha'i community" I personally see more malfunctional or nonfunctional than dysfunctional. You are familiar with terminology, but others frequently misuse the word "dysfunctional" which was very clearly explained to me by the late, beloved, Professor Jalil Mahmoudi, who said:

If you drink a glass of water and it quenches your thirst, it is functional.

If you drink a glass of water and it quenches your thirst, but not very well, it is malfunctional.

If you drink a glass of water and it has no effect one way or the other on your thirst, it is nonfunctional.

If you drink a glass of water and it makes you thirsty, it is dysfunctional.

Again, you may mean dysfunctional, but I just wanted to see if we could agree on this terminology.

I think those may be useful distinctions, but I've never heard them before.

Peck's definition: Functional = "healthy" forms of community, dysfunctional = "unhealthy" forms of community.

The term "healthy" is of course somewhat overused, but I think it is useful becase it implies that "something can be done to get better".

My basic definition of the term "dysfunctional" is based on the "twin pillars of reward and punishment".

"Functional" is when people are rewarded for doing the right thing (in business-speak "when people are incentivised for doing the right thing).

"Dysfunctional" is when are punished for doing the wrong thing (disincentivized" from doing the wrong thing).

One example of dysfunctional/malfunctional community is when some element of Baha'i leadership/administration attempts to blame the members of the community foreverything that is going wrong. Those same leaders also tend to "take credit" for all of the hard work of people like LSA secretaries, who do the tedious, boring, "dirty" (unrewarding) organizational work, without recognising it properly.

I rea a report of one Baha'i leader actually telling an audience that they "needed to get off their lazy b*tts" and "do more teaching". The audience was composed mainly of people that had been laboring for decades doing the very (apparently) futile tasks assigned to them by the clueless leaders.

The damage to the community from such silly antics is huge, and requires deep, hard work to overcome (the people doing the damage are of course rarely are capable of doing the hard work of healing on themselves, much providing the "real" leadership needed to get it going in the community at large).

Without some form of "accountability" by which bad leadership can be aired out, vented, and corrected, a downward cycle of "nonfunctionality tends to set in, people become despairing and hopeless that the great ideas that attracted them to the community in the first place aren't any more meaningful than any of the other socially corrosive deceits that politicians use to manipulate people all the time in order to stay in power.

In other words, the cycle of "despair, hopelessness and cynicism" that Rabbi Michael Lerner describes in his work (e.g., Tikkun.org) on spiritually inspired societal transformation sets in.

People turn back to self-serving, reactionary politics/paradigms, fundmentalism, etc., and the "give up" on the possibility of making meaningful contribution to the "common good".

fwiw, a common complaint of ex-Baha'is is that after years of frustration, they simply could not tolerate any longer the obstacles that were being constantly placed in the way of them doing "service" projects (the reason given was that "service" was going to "take away" from "teaching" or "administration").

Again, Habermas' statement about "arts and morals being colonized by systems" come to mind.

pilgrimbrent wrote:By the way, the materials from FCE were very good.

I also wanted to mention that I think that some of the finest expressions of what Baha'i community life can be come from the Greatest Holy Leaf. Her writings are extremely profound and moving. They start on page 93 here:

Most of these letters were written when she was acting as the head of the Faith, during the lengthy absence of Shoghi Effendi. Her letters had a remarkable effect on the bonding force operating in the Baha'i communities worldwide. I don't know of any Baha'i literature addressing her impact on the communities during this time; but surely this will one day be addressed.


I skimmed through the first 25 pages or so (started on p. 93), and frankly was confused by most of it (the chronology and personages referenced were not clearly footnoted, the flowerly language gets in the way of an average reader's attempt to get the jist, etc.).

I think I saw one paragraph that seemed directly relevant to the relationships of people in average Baha'i communities.

The material is of course highly poignant as far as the relationship of the Holy Family goes, their long trials, suffering and so forth.

If someone more familiar with the material could provide relevant excerpts, I would highly appreciate it, otherwise I'll try to plow through more of the material later.


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Postby Dorumerosaer » Sun Aug 20, 2006 10:11 pm

The point -- at least my point, I don't know about Eric's -- is that different people use different terminology to describe the stages of growth of a community. In the Faith, we might speak of immature communities. Some secular people speak of "pseudo-community" to describe the earliest stages of community development.

In another arena, Shoghi Effendi spoke to "every would-be warrior" about the spiritual battles to be won, before he would truly be of service to Baha'u'llah. That doesn't mean that the entire community has been criticized, it is a recognition that when we become Baha'i's, we haven't arrived -- we've only agreed to go. Similarly, if we assume that our Baha'i communities have reached anywhere near their potential, we unwittingly delay their growth.

Keep in mind, too, that Eric has described himself as a self-withdrawn Baha'i. So he has no obligation to pretty up his language, he can speak his mind frankly and say what he sees. We may well disagree with it, but I don't think that the fact that this forum is lightly moderated means that people can be silenced, or forced to use encouraging language rather than critical language.

If you look at the descriptions of the pseudo-community and of real community, you will find counterparts to the virtues the Writings use, to describe a true community. And we aren't there yet. If we were, the people would be bashing the doors down to get into the Cause.

I do not feel that the problem with the US Baha'i community is with the leadership, either locally or nationally. I think it is that the rank and file needs to take stock, and we have a lot of growing to do.

Ask the members of racial minorities if they believe we have attained to true community. Ask women if we have attained to true equality of the sexes in the Baha'i community. We have far to go, and it is not disloyal to say so.

Just my view.

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Postby onepence » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:28 pm

hmmm .... according to the Bahá'í International Community ...

"Spiritual and materialistic conceptions of the nature of reality are irreconcilable with one another and lead in opposite directions."

and while I can appreciate that this forum being lightly moderated I see no reason to allow any self proclaimed ex-Baha'i materialistic views to creep in and take root.

I mean where would we be if we allow ourselves to unconditional accept the terms of the materilst ... why we would be right there with them labeling those who do not agree with ourselves as being part of the "pseudo community" ... lol ... not me ... God Willing I will always deny the materilst any advantages they may seek over the community of the Greatest Name.

Our community will change ... and there is nothing "pseudo" about that ... in fact "every would-be warrior" easliy recognizes "There is nothing in Bahá'u'lláh's writings to encourage the illusion that the changes envisioned will come about easily. Far otherwise. As the events of the twentieth century have already demonstrated, patterns of habit and attitude which have taken root over thousands of years are not abandoned either spontaneously or in response simply to education or legislative action. Whether in the life of the individual or that of society, profound change occurs more often than not in response to intense suffering and to unendurable difficulties that can be overcome in no other way. Just so great a testing experience, Bahá'u'lláh warned, is needed to weld the earth's diverse peoples into a single people."

I pray that our tests will allow ourselves the ablity to conquer our materialstic views of each other.

the apostle dean

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Postby Dorumerosaer » Sun Aug 20, 2006 11:54 pm

"i still have the problem of being impatient with those who are impatient, and angry with those who are angry. I have trouble being tactful with tactless and difficult persons"

Well, join the human race. We all face exactly the same struggles.

And, the truth be told, *we are ourselves* the test to some others.

The very best remedy I have found for dealing with difficult people and difficulties in community life, is taking to heart the Guardian's guidance in the compilation "On the Baha'i Life," a collection of letters by and on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. It's here:
http://bahai-library.com/?file=compilat ... g_the_life

I have found it absolutely priceless.

The thing is that nobody was more aware of the inadequacies of the Baha'is, than was Shoghi Effendi. He had to whip into shape and spiritually conquer, using as his tools the most diverse group of people in history. But because he was convinced of the guiding hand of Baha'u'llah, he never doubted the eventual outcome, and he never faltered in his love for the friends, whatever their weaknesses.

"The friends must be nursed and assisted, for they are still most immature spiritually, and their 'sins' are those of immaturity! Their hearts are loyal to the Cause, and this is the most important thing." (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 51)

"What the believers need is not only, as you state, to really study the teachings, but also to have more peace-makers circulating among them. Unfortunately, not only average people, but average Bahá'ís, are very immature; gossip, trouble-making, criticism, seem easier than the putting into practice of love, constructive words and cooperation. It is one of the functions of the older and the more mature Bahá'ís, to help the weaker ones to iron out their difficulties and learn to really function and live like true believers!" (From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 90)

"We must be patient with each other's shortcomings, and always strive to create love and unity among the believers, who, after all, are still immature in many ways and far from perfect. The Faith itself is the great thing, and the Bahá'ís must strive to become ever more perfect instruments for Bahá'u'lláh to use and to accomplish His purpose through."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 383)

"We must realize our imperfection and not permit ourselves to get too upset over the unfortunate things which occur, sometimes in Conventions, sometimes in Assemblies or on Committees, etc. Such things are essentially superficial and in time will be outgrown."
(From a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 9)

Here is one statement from the compilation on the Baha'i life that has been a guiding light for me:

"You have complained of the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in the ... Bahá'í Community; the Guardian is well aware of the situation of the Cause there, but is confident that whatever the nature of the obstacles that confront the Faith they will be eventually overcome. You should, under no circumstances, feel discouraged, and allow such difficulties, even though they may have resulted from the misconduct, or the lack of capacity and vision of certain members of the Community, to make you waver in your faith and basic loyalty to the Cause. Surely, the believers, no matter how qualified they may be, whether as teachers or administrators, and however high their intellectual and spiritual merits, should never be looked upon as a standard whereby to evaluate and measure the divine authority and mission of the Faith. It is to the Teachings themselves, and to the lives of the Founders of the Cause that the believers should look for their guidance and inspiration, and only by keeping strictly to such [a] true attitude can they hope to establish their loyalty to Bahá'u'lláh upon an enduring and unassailable basis. You should take heart, therefore, and with unrelaxing vigilance and unremitting effort endeavour to play your full share in the gradual unfoldment of this Divine World Order."


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Postby Dorumerosaer » Mon Aug 21, 2006 12:28 am

Although spiritual and materal views of reality are not reconcilable, science and the Baha'i teachings are.

Even more so, the views of people on other spiritual paths are reconcilable with our own, if we look past the difference in language.

"Warn, O Salman, the beloved of the one true God, not to view with too critical an eye the sayings and writings of men. Let them rather approach such sayings and writings in a spirit of open-mindedness and loving sympathy." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p. 329)

"As the Bahá'í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous fields -- both by Bahá'ís becoming experts and by experts becoming Bahá'ís. As these experts bring their knowledge and skill to the service of the community and, even more, as they transform their various disciplines by bringing to bear upon them the light of the Divine Teachings, problem after problem now disrupting society will be answered.... Paralleling this process, Bahá'í institutional life will also be developing, and as it does so the Assemblies will draw increasingly upon scientific and expert knowledge -- whether of Bahá'ís or of non-Bahá'ís -- to assist in solving the problems of their communities." The Universal House of Justice, Compilation on Scholarship, p. 12)

If we approach people with the attitude, "we know it all," we will get absolutely nowhere. If we instead approach people with humility, with a sense that we are in contact with the Truth, but we are still novices at living it; and we wish to share our own limited experiences in applying the Truth as we see it; and we welcome the fruit of the experience of our brothers and sisters; then we will, I feel, build true bridges of collaboration with other spiritual communities, and with scientific communities.

Look how open the Master was, when He came to America, with other religious groups; not only established churches, but little splinter groups, and some pretty far out people. He focused on their virtues. He viewed them as collaborators in the spiritual redemption of humanity.

This is a pilgrim's recollection of Baha'u'llah's words about the teaching style of the Master:

"A pleasing, kindly disposition and a display of tolerance
towards the people are requisites of teaching the Cause.
Whatever a person says, hollow and product of vain
imaginings and a parrot-like repetition of somebody
else's views though it be, one ought to let it pass. One
should not engage in disputation leading to and ending
with obstinate refusal and hostility, because the other
person would consider himself worsted and defeated.
Consequently further veils intervene between him and the
Cause, and he becomes more negligent of it. One ought
to say: right, admitted, but look at the matter in this
other way, and judge for yourself whether it is true or
false; of course it should be said with courtesy, with
kindliness, with consideration. Then the other person will
listen, will not seek to answer back and to marshal proofs
in repudiation. He will agree, because he comes to realize
that the purpose has not been to engage in verbal battle
and to gain mastery over him. He sees that the purpose
has been to impart the word of truth, to show humanity
to bring forth heavenly qualities. His eyes and his ears
are opened, his heart responds, his true nature unfolds
and by the grace of God, he becomes a new creation
The Most Great Branch gives a willing ear to any manner
of senseless talk, to such an extent that the other person
says to himself: He is trying to learn from me. Then,
gradually, by such means as the other person cannot
perceive, He gives him insight and understanding."
(H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 27)

...I most urgently request the friends of God to make every effort, as much as lieth within their competence, along these lines. The harder they strive to widen the scope of their knowledge, the better and more gratifying will be the result. Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts.
(From a Tablet, of Abdu'l-Baha translated from the Arabic; from the Compilation on Scholarship, p. 1)

"In connection with the question as to whether Bahá'ís should be familiar with the different sciences and branches of study, Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that both Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá have given a very high position to men of culture and knowledge and Bahá'u'lláh says in one of His Tablets that respect shown to such people is incumbent upon all Bahá'ís. Furthermore there is no doubt that familiarity with different branches of study widens one's point of view and we can then understand and realize the significance of the Bahá'í Movement and its principles much more."
(14 December 1924 to an individual believer)

"We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will, the three of them, become able and devoted speakers on the Cause and subjects akin to it. To do this properly they will need a firm foundation of scientific and literary training which fortunately they are obtaining. It is just as important for the Bahá'í young boys and girls to become properly educated in colleges of high standing as it is to be spiritually developed. The mental as well as the spiritual side of the youth has to be developed before he can serve the Cause efficiently.
(28 November 1926 to an individual believer; Compilation on Scholarship, p. 11)

"He quite agrees with you that the Bahá'ís need deepening in the teachings -- a course of adult education would be excellent if it could be carried out and the friends would participate. The principles, administration and fundamentals of the Faith are well known, but the friends need greatly to study the more profound works, which would give them spiritual maturity to a greater degree, unify their Community life, and enable them to better exemplify the Bahá'í way of living; in other words to "lead the life". (The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 227)

"What he wants the Bahá'ís to do is to study more, not to study less. The more general knowledge, scientific and otherwise, they possess, the better." (The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 228)

I'm quite tired, and I hope this came across in the right spirit, and clearly.


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Postby Dorumerosaer » Mon Aug 21, 2006 11:39 am

I suggested that the letters of the Greatest Holy Leaf written to the Baha'i world are very good on establishing community unity. Eric scanned some of the book of Khanum's letters and wrote:

"I think I saw one paragraph that seemed directly relevant to the relationships of people in average Baha'i communities. The material is of course highly poignant as far as the relationship of the Holy Family goes, their long trials, suffering and so forth. If someone more familiar with the material could provide relevant excerpts, I would highly appreciate it, otherwise I'll try to plow through more of the material later."

I think the context is important.

For thirty years, the Master had been at the Head of the community. He was famous, elegant, sovereign, and in command. Suddenly, he was gone, leaving the Holy Family bereft. The bulk of the descendants of Baha'u'llah were rejoicing; this was their chance to seize the leadership of the Cause.

On the day of the Master's funeral, as attested by Mr. Aziz Yazdi, they attempted to seize the Master's House -- the visible symbol of the Head of the Faith; a kind of an attempted palace coup. The Greatest Holy Leaf had singlehandledly prevented it.

A few weeks later they seized the keys to the inmost Shrine of Baha'u'llah; again, in a vain effort to seize the leadership of the Cause, by seizing its assets.

Shoghi Effendi was 24 years old; devastated by the death of `Abdu'l-Baha; and flattened yet again when he learned that the Master had left him as the Head of the Cause. When the keys to the Most Holy Shrine were seized, that was the last straw. Shoghi Effendi realized that he did not have the inner resources to deal effectively with this -- to lead the Cause as it needed to be led. He therefore left for the mountains of Switzerland, for about one year, to regain his spiritual center, his confidence, and his ability to take the reins of the Cause.

The Holy Land was at that time in the beginnings of the British governance of the Holy Land; it was still observing many of the social practices from the Ottoman days, including the very limited role of women; and yet, Shoghi Effendi placed Khanum at the head of the Faith.

In Shoghi Effendi's absence, she wrote these scores of letters to the believers worldwide, in preparation for the return of Shoghi Effendi. In his absence, she bonded the believers to him, the Center of the Cause -- the Center of Baha'i community life. To follow his guidance would be the most important aspect of Baha'i community life; one of the elements missing in other communities. She elaborated the Covenant of the Master, and deepened the friends in its spirit. In addition, she focused the eyes of the friends on the requirements of being true Baha'is; true in faith, and true in deed and spirit.

In this letter she is quoting Shoghi Effendi's last comments to her prior to his departure; and I feel that this conveys the whole picture regarding "community". This letter, and the others like it, had a profound galvanizing and unifying effect on the worldwide Baha'i community and the communities that comprised it.

In this letter, the Guardian calls more than once for the believers to get past being believers in name; and to become believers and communities in truth; all the while upholding the centrality of obeying the Spiritual Assemblies and the Head of the Cause.


"Alas, however, once again in some communities, he noted from certain letters an absence of spirituality and good-fellowship among some of the friends, and a lack of respect among some for their Assemblies. Once more, as a result of this, his heart was filled with sorrow and once again he decided on departure. This lowly maidservant and the other members of the Household and all the Holy Leaves did all we could to blot away this grief from his radiant spirit. When in his presence, we would bring up all the good news that by the grace of God continued to pour in, and to speak of the staunchness, the loyalty, the love, the sacrifices of the believers both of East and West. We begged him to reconsider his decision -- but to no avail.

"He told us: 'My heart is sensitive. Just as I feel the ill-feeling that exists between individuals, and am injured by it, so too do I treasure the excellent qualities of the believers; indeed, I hold these dearer than words can tell. After that most dread ordeal, the one and only solace of my heart was the loyalty, the staunchness, the love of the friends for the Blessed Beauty and for 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Nothing can ever detract from the value of such excellent qualities, and I am deeply grateful to all the friends, men and women alike, for this. And yet, this love of theirs, with all its fervour, can never, by itself, bring the Ark of the Faith to the longed-for shore. It can never prove the claims of the people of Baha to the people of the world. To safeguard the religion of God and reinforce its power, the friends must make use of effective means: their love must be so great that they worship one another, and shut any mutual ill-feeling out of their hearts.

"'If, for example, the non-Bahá'ís should ask the friends, "What differentiates you from all the rest?", and if, to this, the friends answer, "In the pathway of our love for the Centre of our Faith, we would sacrifice our lives and possessions," those of the civilized world would never be content with such a reply. They would merely say: "Your love, your sacrifice for a single individual cannot possibly serve as a remedy for the chronic ills which plague society today." If the friends then answer: "Our religion provides principles and moral teachings whose value the wisest of the day cannot deny," this will be the response: "Noble principles and teachings will produce an effect on human character, and heal the mortal sicknesses which afflict society, only at such time when those who claim to believe in and support them are themselves the first to act upon them, and to demonstrate and incorporate the value and the benefits of them in their own everyday transactions and lives." Unless this comes about, there is nothing to distinguish the Bahá'ís from the rest.'

"He also told us: 'The people of the world are carefully watching the Bahá'ís today, and minutely observing them. The believers must make every effort, and take the utmost care to ward off and remove any feelings of estrangement, and consider themselves duty-bound to comply with the decisions of their Spiritual Assemblies. To the same degree that ill-feeling among some of the believers has cast its shadow on my heart, to that same degree will my heart reflect their mutual agreement, understanding and loving affection, and their deference to the authority of their Spiritual Assemblies. And whenever I shall feel such lights reflected, I will at once return to the Holy Land and engage in the fulfilment of my sacred obligations. Convey this message of mine to all the friends.'

"It is now two weeks since he made this touching statement and left the Holy Land." (Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 207)

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Postby Dorumerosaer » Tue Aug 22, 2006 2:52 am

"The believers ought to give the Message even to those who do not seem to be ready for it, because they can never judge the real extent to which the Word of God can influence the hearts and minds of the people, even those who appear to lack any power of receptivity to the Teachings."
(From a letter dated 14 January 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; Compilation on The Individual and Teaching - Raising the Divine Call, p. 24)

I am posting this quote, just because of the title I early on selected for this thread. The title could give the impression that in general, judging the spiritual condition of others is either easy to do, or desirable to do. As I hope I explained well at the outset, this decision is generally counseled in those circumstances when one must protect oneself spiritually, or protect the Faith; not in the context of seeking to be superior, or developing a character oriented towards being judgmental, instead of a character oriented towards having a sin-covering eye, and being compassionate. This quote, though on the subject of teaching, points out the difficulty of accurately assessing another person's spiritual condition.

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Postby Jonah » Tue Aug 22, 2006 3:26 am

<b>Note from moderator:</b> the sub-topic of this discussion, on allowing ex-Baha'is post in the forum, has been moved to http://bahai-library.com/forum2/viewtopic.php?p=4946 . -Jonah

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