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The Baha'i Faith on Buddhism & Taoism?

Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 4:46 pm
by Ian Mayes
Hey all,

I was curious if anybody here can tell me some more about what is the official Baha'i Faith stance on Buddhism and Gautama Buddha, as well as on Taoism and Laozi.

I know that Gautama Buddha is considered to be a Manifestation of God, but I do not know anything more than that. A lot of different sayings, beliefs and practices have been ascribed to him, and I wonder what the Baha'i take is on all of that.

Similarly, what about Laozi? Is he considered to be a "lesser prophet"? Or is he considered more of just an advanced human, roughly on the same spiritual level as a Hand of the Cause of God?

Thanks!

- Ian

Re: The Baha'i Faith on Buddhism & Taoism?

Posted: Sun Feb 15, 2009 8:59 pm
by brettz9
Hi Ian,

Here's a good resource for a lot of topics... http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guidance . And a lot of other timely topics are addressed here: http://bahai-library.com/?collection=UHJ_unpublished

This is the only quote about LaoZi.

"Regarding Lao-Tse: The Bahá'ís do not consider him a prophet, or even a secondary prophet or messenger, unlike Buddha or Zoroaster, both of whom were divinely-appointed and fully independent Manifestations of God.

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 10, 1939, in Lights of Guidance, 1694)


Of course, that wouldn't mean that he wasn't some kind of inspired person, perhaps along the lines of this quotation:

"...The teachings of such spiritually enlightened souls as Swedenborg, Emerson, and others should be considered as the advanced stirrings in the minds of great souls foreshadowing that Revelation which was to break upon the world through the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh. Anything they say which is not substantiated by the Teachings, however, we cannot regard as absolute truth, but merely as the reflection of their own thoughts."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, May 6, 1943)


On a personal note, I find the writings of LaoZi (at least assuming we can credit them to him/a single person/etc.) very interesting. Depending on how you interpret the DaoDeJing, it could either be taken to fully support the Faith or go fully against it. For example, does non/effortless-action mean being peacefully contented with the will of God as expressed in our lives and nature as we go about our lives making plans, working, and being scientific, or does it mean fatalism, becoming a hermit, etc.? Do statements about the learned being fools and the fools being learned mean that the so-called learned are actually fools, such as those proud of their attainments or who oppose God and promote false morality and that many unlettered people are actually quite wise--or does it imply an anti-authoritarian, anti-discipline, anti-knowledge, laissez-faire view of life? When I read the DaoDeJing previously, assuming a Baha'i understanding, and that was largely easy to do, I found it quite peaceful and in harmony. The impact on China of such thinking--whether it originated with him or not--has clearly contributed in a very positive way to the beauty, mystical serenity and naturalness of Chinese people's dispositions in traditional China. One might also argue, however, that it could be a contributor to some apathy and fatalism for those who subscribe to it in a certain way, and historically, it also became associated with various rituals and polytheism.

As far as Buddha, there is a compilation on Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster and Related Subjects at http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... _zoroaster

You might also be interested in this page which attempts to compile and succinctly tie together quotations on the subject: http://bahai9.com/Writings_Buddhist_authenticity

best wishes,
Brett

Re: The Baha'i Faith on Buddhism & Taoism?

Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:29 pm
by Jonah
Here's part of my take on it: http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file= ... n_buddhism (I did my first thesis on Buddhism).

Sorry for the annoyingly-academic tone of it. I was in grad school at the time and everyone wrote like that. Working as a professional editor cured me of that style, now I just write simply and clearly. :-)

Re: The Baha'i Faith on Buddhism & Taoism?

Posted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:32 pm
by Jonah
Oh, and this on Taoism: http://bahai-library.com/?file=cheung_c ... hings.html

Phyllis Chew wrote a book on this, "The Chinese Religion and the Baha'i Faith". Out of print, but available online. Which reminds me, I have a copy and I'm selling my entire library of Baha'i books, about a thousand items. More details soon, I've gotta draw up a list of what I have.