Monday, July 28, 2008

p33 Our Real Need

Binding God's Influence through Universal Life Planners

 

By John Taylor; 2008 July 28, 16 Kalimat, 165 BE

 

The Master taught the early believers to pay attention to their dreams. So, here is this morning's dream. But first, what happened before the dream. The cat woke me early, tearing at the sliding door screen to get in. I got up and opened it for him. Then I fired up the computer and read some scattered news items, including a New York Times article about computer literacy. Then I got sleepy, plunked into bed and dropped off into a long, light nap.

 

I dreamed that my son Tomaso and I were going to visit an old school friend and fellow member of the chess team, D. In the dream D had separated from his wife and was living on his own (as far as I know, this is not true in real life). There was no answer when I knocked on the door, so I left 8 year old Tomaso at the door and climbed some narrow stairs around the outside of the apartment building into the attic, looking for him. There was a narrow staircase that crashed to the ground when I walked on it. Dusting myself off, I walked back to the front door, where Tomaso was waiting anxiously.

 

In the dream, D finally answered the door. He had no bookshelves or even more than a few scattered books in his possession, unlike his digs in real life. He was occupying all his time playing a role playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons. In came a group of players, one of whom was a gamine dressed in peasant costume. I thought she might be his paramour, but they only showed any interest in throwing dice for the game. Tomaso was delighted and began playing the game along with them while I looked on in puzzlement. End of dream.

 

This change of lifestyle seemed completely out of character for D, who, I hear, is of such a literary bent that he has had some of his plays produced. After I got back to the computer, I was drawn back to where I was before, reading that article about computer literacy. The issue of reading covers pretty much this entire summer for us, I must say. I and the kids have a running battle over computers and screen time. If I were not here they would spend every waking moment hunched over the computer, Tomaso playing online puzzles and other internet games, Silvie reading fan fiction about Kenneth Oppel's television series about bats. Both of them also love "Club Penguin," a sort of combination MUD, game and social networking site for kids. I have a constant struggle to limit them, especially now that Mom has been sucked into blogging. Since that started the laundry goes undone, dishes pile up, meals go by the board, and on and on... This means more of my time goes into taking up the slack. Since they will not touch what I cook, the only way to see that they get a square meal is to take them out to a pizza or submarine joint, and that is expensive. Next step: teach the kids the meaning of the word "chore."

 

Anyway, I was so distressed by the screen's successful coup d'etat over this household that at the beginning of the summer I laid down a rule for the kids. Before they get access to a computer they must do a certain amount of reading from a reasonably high-quality book (meaning not a comic book) before they have access to the computer. This has worked reasonably well for this first half of the summer vacation. Thomas for a long time preferred to give up computers completely, which was fine with me. Finally he caved and started going through the Treehouse books, a series designed for his reading level. Silvie, reluctantly, has read about a dozen books. What I learned from the Times article is that ours is not the only family in this situation (though I may be the only one actively fighting it). It says,

 

"As teenagers' scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading - diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books. Some traditionalists warn that digital reading is the intellectual equivalent of empty calories. Often, they argue, writers on the Internet employ a cryptic argot that vexes teachers and parents. Zigzagging through a cornucopia of words, pictures, video and sounds, they say, distracts more than strengthens readers. And many youths spend most of their time on the Internet playing games or sending instant messages, activities that involve minimal reading at best." ("Literacy Debate: Online, R U Really Reading? Is the Internet the enemy of reading, or has it created a new kind of reading, one that society should not discount? By Motoko Rich, July 27, 2008)

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/books/27reading.html?ex=1374897600&en=81a364206914f90a&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

 

The article includes a picture captioned, "The Simses of Old Greenwich, Conn., gather to read after dinner. Their means of text delivery is divided by generation." It shows Dad with a newspaper, Mom curled up with a novel, and the two point zero kids hunched over their own laptops. What a nightmare! I am sure that this was posed, since in my experience screens tend to separate even more than books; in real life, they would all be in different rooms, judging by our family -- which admittedly cannot afford notebooks.

 

I was writing the above when the kids came in, and I showed them a little test that is included in the supplemental links section to this article ("Web Extra: Further Reading on Reading, What does it mean to read in a digital age? Here are links to some studies, speeches, reading tests - old and new - and other resources." By Motoko Rich) at:

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/17/books/reading-extra.html?ex=1374811200&en=cc4385ec6a9655f2&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

 

The test consists of a fake site advocating for a fictional animal, the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. Nine out of ten teens were fooled, took it seriously, and failed to get the joke. To my surprise, Silvie came closer than Tomaso to being duped, though my introduction to the problem was hardly strictly controlled. I reiterated a good lesson my father gave me when I was young,

 

"Do not believe everything you read."

 

After that they were interested and I read parts of the article. Silvie was dismayed to see her favorite thing, fanfiction, put down. Both agreed that Beyblades were garbage -- missing, I thought, the whole point about fanfiction. Then Tomaso said, "Let's watch the video." Typical older person, I had just been reading the material and had not noticed the video included there. It turned out to be a good summary of the main points of the article and probably reached them both on their own level better than my reading aloud was doing.

 

==========

 

I wrote the above yesterday, before I was rudely interrupted by a migraine attack. Windy, rainy days spell misery. Anyway, now that I have recovered I have to admit that there are arguments for both sides. I agree with the kids that often you do get more out of the time you spend, minute for minute, researching on the Web rather than reading books. Books often go into too much detail. Once you commit to a treatise of a certain length, the temptation is to fill that space with whatever data is at hand, whether needed or not. Most of the books and novels you see on the bookshelves could be cut to a third of their length and be better off for the cutting. And reading a book is at least as solitary and isolating an activity as "computering."

 

What is more, books are far less interactive and participatory than Internet news sites and blogs, not to mention chat groups, MUDs and fanfiction sites. Because the media and education are dominated by old folks like me, and because reading is under threat, we tend to defend books and reading too uncritically. Most books, just as most television and Internet material, is useless pap that we would all be better off without.

 

In support of that, I just came across this, from my new hero Comenius's book on reform,

 

"By turning to comparatively worthless books we are simply throwing stones, sand, and other obstructions into this Alpheus of God's, and accumulating a pile of error and confusion in our minds, homes, schools, church, and politics. The tiny streamlets which trickle through our obstructions are all too feeble to remove our sordidness." (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 3, para 42, p. 81)

 

The Peneus and Alpheus, by the way, were rivers that Heracles diverted in order to clean out the Aegean stables, a metaphor that Comenius uses to great effect to describe the effectiveness of the kind of universal reform that the unification of divine, scientific and political means could effect in the world. (for more on Heracles's fifth of twelve labors, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Augeas) This meta-purification is a running theme throughout the writings of Comenius, especially the Panorthosia.

 

The greatness of Comenius's contribution to reform is that he bases everything upon universal, as opposed to piecemeal, changes. With the possible exceptions of Frances Bacon (whose ideas inspired Comenius) and Abdu'l-Baha, I have never seen anything like Comenius's vision of what can be done for reform. Comenius's biographer, Matthew Spinka, fit Comenius into the category of what he called a "cosmopolitan universalist," because he "worked out the first completely articulated irenic plan." Irenic means something "conducive to peace, moderation and conciliation." In his Panegersia (Universal Awakening, written over a century and a half before atheist Philosophes started arrogantly calling their age "The Enlightenment") Comenius asks the crucial question:

 

"Why cannot men form one, all-inclusive world society, by reason of common knowledge, common law and common religion?"

 

This question is as challenging, fresh and new now as when he formed it back 17th Century. Like the river that performed Hercules' labor of cleaning out the masses of crude in those huge stables for him without any more effort his part, a universal unification of the world would solve such personal problems as what to read, how to read it, where to read it.

 

How?

 

By instituting personal plans and life management programs that would be integral to and made up right along with the plans of a world government. I think Comenius grasps the secret of universal reform in the three divisions mentioned above, knowledge (science), law (politics) and religion. This tripartite structure runs throughout the Panorthosia, which I am studying right now with all the resources at my command.

 

The ongoing invention of interactive public-private plans would assure that the good aspects of the "new reading" done on computers and the Internet are instituted without disrupting the best of what information gathering methods are already there. A human individual by definition cannot see far enough to institute such universal plans. This was clear as long ago as the Pre-Socratics. Empedocles believed rightly that neither involvement nor detached reflection, in themselves, are enough to overcome our inherent limits:

 

"For narrow are the means spread throughout the limbs and many are the miseries that burst in and blunt the thoughts. And having seen only a small part of life during their lives, and doomed to early death, they are lifted up and carried off like smoke, and believing only that which each one meets with as he is driven every way, they boast of having found the whole. But things are not thus seen or heard by men or grasped by their minds. You, however, since you have withdrawn to here, shall not learn more than mortal wisdom can attain." (Empedocles, DK 2)

 

Only universal world reform, inspired originally by God's wisdom (Comenius calls this Panorthosia) can see far enough beyond one lifetime to institute the sort of wise change required to direct our lives in a time of fundamental change in how we relate with information.

 

A life planner written by open systems programmers, integrated into our lives and overseen by teachers and doctors, would unite the generations in controlling the crucial information feed that sustains our search for truth. This life planning program would be part of an overall goal of de-privatizing the human mind. It would turn culture over to whatever leads to what the word means: healthful, planned growth. Things that are essential would no longer be for sale, they would be integrated into the program and made into the common heritage of the human race. Everything from the fairy tales told to children to the news we read and watch would be publicized in the truest sense of the word, that is, made into a public thing, with public oversight, designed for the public good.

 

Comenius held that the key to this is wisdom, specifically what he called Pansophia, Universal Wisdom. This is what diverts the many tributaries of private data processing into a single, purifying flood of reform. Again, referring to the labor of Hercules in purifying the filth filled stables of the king, Comenius writes,

 

"I think that it is clear from my Universal Wisdom that it is possible for these fountains of God to combine into one torrent like the Alpheus, thus integrating everything that the world possesses and the mind of man dictates and the word of God expresses, in such a way that any seeker after knowledge may find it in full, anyone searching for forms and standards of self-government may find them ready-made, and anyone desiring God may see His presence everywhere, and hear, taste and touch Him and feel His binding influence." (Comenius, Panorthosia, Ch. 3, para 38, p. 80)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

p15 A Very Public Death

On the death of Randy Pausch and of childhood dreams


Blogger "Trixie," evidently a close friend of the Faith, offers the following comments on death, after the bucket-kicking by pancreatic cancer of the speaker who gave the famous inspirational speech "the last lecture." She makes ample use of the inspirational words of Baha'u'llah.

http://livefully.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/07/what-does-the-death-of-randy-pausch-teaches.html

As she points out, he made his death a public event. For those few who have not seen the "last lecture," it is available on YouTube at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo

Or, here:



Here is a recent bit where the last lecturer speaks to a graduating class:



And here I had thought that gadgets and material possessions were what mattered in life. That is what the thousands of advertisements a day I am unwillingly exposed to are telling me. Could it be that they are lying?

Like everybody else in the world, I found the lectures inspiring. Like almost everybody else in the world, I never even came close to fulfilling my childhood dreams, so by that standard, Pausch lived a fuller and better life. What kind of a whacked out child would aspire to what I have achieved in life? One migraine attack after the next...

Worse, believe it or not, my childhood dream was to become a lawyer. So even if I got what I wanted, I was doomed to disappointment. A lawyer? What was I thinking? Indeed, so many dreams go by the board in my life that I am like the proverbial bull in the china shop. After a while you start to enjoy the tinkling sound as your dreams, hopes and aspirations are smashed to smitherines. So spectacular is their destruction that you might as well enjoy the show.

On the other hand, Pausch is right in the second video, there are things more important than personal success, such as the happiness of those around you. What is more, I got something far beyond what I dreamed as a child.

I got Baha'u'llah.

I did not get to be a lawyer, but I got, between my bouts of migraine, a chance to advocate and defend Him in my writings, albeit read by only a few... Today's daily reading from the Writings of Baha'u'llah says it all:


"Praise be unto Thee, O my God, that we have wakened to the splendors of the light of Thy knowledge. Send down, then, upon us, O my Lord, what will enable us to dispense with anyone but Thee, and will rid us of all attachment to aught except Thyself. Write down, moreover, for me, and for such as are dear to me, and for my kindred, man and woman alike, the good of this world and the world to come. Keep us safe, then, through Thine unfailing protection, O Thou the Beloved of the entire creation and the Desire of the whole universe, from them whom Thou hast made to be the manifestations of the Evil Whisperer, who whisper in men’s breasts. Potent art Thou to do Thy pleasure. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting."


There is a certain plausibility to Pausch's naive faith in childhood dreams. Why else would the lecture strike such a chord in millions of lives? Why else do we follow the Roman belief that we have a guardian angel that is assigned to us at birth, as symbolized by the birthday cake and the candle blowing out ceremony? Of course, if the angel really cared for us, it would surely be commemorated by something more healthful than cake...

What was your childhood dream? Do you have any that were not smashed to bits by the bitter realities of life? Is there anything you would like to do before you die? Share it here in the comments section of this post.

Friday, July 25, 2008

P13 Abdu'l-Baha's Proof of Deity

Heraclitus and the Secret Doctrine

By John Taylor; 2008 July 24


I have been reworking a reading of a talk of the Master that I want to put onto YouTube. It is the proofs of deity laid out in Some Answered Questions, the second talk in the book. I started this back in January but gave up in frustration because this computer hanged incessantly. A RAM upgrade has solved most of these problems. I have been relearning the video-editing programs on this iMac, delaying what I thought would be a quick and easy project. Every time I think it is finished, a new problem crops up and I end up at square one. Writing is a thousand times easier than video editing, at least for me. At one point I even posted my YouTube Proofs of Deity video. However when I tested it the sound was screwy and I had to start again. I hope to have it available on Youtube and the Badi' Blog, soon.


Today, let us look at how this proof of deity presented in this table talk of the Master fits into the history of ideas. Unless indicated otherwise, the quotations from Heraclitus in this essay are drawn from the Wikipedia article "Heraclitus."


Though most of his writing is lost, Heraclitus clearly was the first to work out some of the concepts that `Abdu'l-Baha in this early talk in Some Answered Questions makes into a proof of deity. Heraclitus is a surprisingly important thinker; he should be better known than he is. He had several ideas that were later confirmed as of central importance to divine philosophy.


For example, the Gospel of John borrowed the Heraclitean idea that Logos, rather than earth, water, fire or air, is the real basis of reality. When Abdu'l-Baha defines religion as "the teachings of the Lord God," He is using an aspect of Heraclitus's "logo-centric" worldview. Logos in Greek has no fewer than six meanings, word, plan, formula, reckoning, formula and proportion. All six are strained to the limit, but they do describe fittingly how the Manifestation of God mediates reality and vivifies the sum of human capacity. As Heraclitus puts it,


"One man is ten thousand to me if he be the best." (DK 49)


As well, the Qu'ran uses the same "wealth curse" that Heraclitus is reported to have used on his townsfolk -- he desired wealth upon the Ephesians as a punishment for their wicked ways. The Qu'ran often describes wealth as a divine sanction because it so effectively distracts from what matters in life, the love of God. And of course Jesus also upheld this idea when He said that it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven.


Heraclitus was also the first known thinker to use the word "kosmos" for world order. It was not the elder
US President Bush, or Baha'u'llah, or even Copernicus and Galileo with their "new order of the heavens." It was Heraclitus who based his philosophy on a Kosmos or world order that ever was and ever will be, an axiomatic, pre-existent order.


The most salient contribution of Heraclitus was the realization that the universe is in such quick, vibrating interplay that it is impossible to touch the same object twice. No matter how solid it may seem, every thing is in a chaotic motion that he termed flux. Every split second objects fade out of existence, are renewed and dissolve again. Solidity is being tearing down and rebuilding again in equilibrium.


"We must know that war (polemos) is common to all and strife is justice, and that all things come into being through strife necessarily."


This opposition Heraclitus called eris, strife, and justice, dike, was its temporary stability. Logos is the only dependable ground of existence, and only when it is dynamic, living, moving.


Heraclitus got this insight when he saw a bard playing a melody on a stringed instrument known as a lyre. The lyre is a stringed bow, like the kind of military bow that pushes an arrow into flight. Indeed, the Sythian bow had its horns pointing forward until it was strung, in which case its horns then pointed backwards. The music of the lyre took advantage of the same sort of deforming tension, what we might now call potential energy, between the opposing ends of a flexed rod. Although its strings vibrate wildly and chaotically, its sound is sweet to the ear. Listening to its sound he must have thought, "That is just like a life crisis. One half of you wants to go one way and the other half strains to go the other." Indeed, Heraclitus is said to have educated himself by asking questions of himself in solitude. What he actually wrote was,


"There is a harmony in the bending back (palintropos) as in the case of the bow and the lyre."


"Dike eris," for Heraclitus meant that "strife is justice." This is identical to the Arabic word for justice, Adl, meaning a balance or fulcrum point. The fairest universe, Heraclitus said, is but a pile of rubbish piled up by chance. This foreshadows modern discoveries about randomness, quantum mechanics and chaos theory. Palintropos or bending back could be called "unity in adversity," which is close to the unity in diversity that is a major theme in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. Heraclitus saw that whatever actually happens in the world is an effect of Palintropos, the vibrating tension between being and non-being, the play of strife and harmony, the random and the planned, between contingency and Logos.


"All things come into being by conflict of opposites, and the sum of things (ta hola, "the whole") flows like a stream."


Fate, then, would be what happens when you get caught up in the opposing tension or Polemikos.
Providence would be when we learn to make harmonious music, mediating the tension between two extremes. History, like the fingers of a bard plucking at the lyre, works fate or providence into life. Great figures take events in the direction of harmony with Logos, while imitators, being ignorant, pull every which way. This is the story of every artist, prophet, Manifestation of God, innovator and inventor. Theirs is a struggle not against nature, but against nature reflected in the human mirror. "Human nature does not have judgment, but the divine has." (Heraclitus, DK 78) These reflect not nature but the Logos. The Logos works beyond abstract reflection and theoretical cogitation; it brings into play the full range of consciousness, will, feeling, desire and emotion. As a Greek playwright put it,


"Justice turns the scale, bringing to some learning through suffering." (Aeschylus)


The suffering of a Job, Jesus or the Bab opens new realms of human discovery by involving the Logos, the divine plan or law in human sensibilities in a more direct, intimate way. Baha'u'llah confirms this,


"Know verily that the essence of justice and the source thereof are both embodied in the ordinances prescribed by Him Who is the Manifestation of the Self of God amongst men, if ye be of them that recognize this truth. He doth verily incarnate the highest, the infallible standard of justice unto all creation. (Gleanings, #88, p. 175)


Heraclitus wrote that "all things come to pass in accordance with this word" and, "the word is common," and "(it is) the account which governs the universe (ta hola, the whole)." Justice is balance or harmony coming out of struggling opposition. Heraclitus understood justice as an imperative to "follow the common." Nor can there be harmony without wisdom, which he called an appreciation of how "all things" work,


"Wisdom is one thing. It is to understand the mind by which all things are steered through all things." (Heraclitus, DK 41)


In another translation, wisdom is "to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things." The wise, then, is one who enquires into all things, and takes what she learns into consideration. A wise person is the opposite, then, of a fanatic or fundamentalist.


"It is wise, listening not to me but to reason, to agree that all men who love wisdom must inquire into very many things." (Heraclitus, DK 35)


Of course it would be impossible to enquire in depth into all things; a certain economy and efficiency is required. As a result, we finite mortals cannot be wise in any absolute sense, since, "Only Zeus is wise." This concept of wisdom is woven into Baha'u'llah's Tablet, "Words of Wisdom," whose title can be literally translated as the "Principles of All-Things." Of course this is basic to the Judaic tradition too, as witnessed by this verse from the Book of Proverbs,


"And all such things as are hid, and not foreseen, I have learned: for wisdom, which is the worker of all things, taught me." (Prov 7:21, Douay-Rheims)


This includes another idea important for Heraclitus; nature is hidden, its essence is concealed and our job is to uncover the unseen. Since Heraclitus's hometown of Ephesis is in
Asia Minor, close by Judea, it is not inconceivable that he was exposed to Jewish thought.


Unfortunately, Heraclitus is an also-ran in the history of philosophy. Good ideas, but no idea how to sell them. In fact, as an elitist he did not even want to sell them. An early Rousseau, he held the crowd in contempt and tried to escape into nature. Nor did he consider royalty as part of the elite. When the Persian king Darius called Heraclitus to his court for a discussion he is reported as answering that he had a horror of splendor.


Later on, the agnostic Protagoras knew what to do with the same idea, hide it. It is a law of human psychology that anything labeled "secret" gains an irresistible cachet. Protagoras made the compresence of opposites the basis of his relativism. Plato in the Theaetetus called this Protagoras's "secret doctrine," or the doctrine of opposites; from this Plato built a theory of perception based upon contrasting opposition. For example, the fact that the wind seems cold proves the existence of warmth, of heat, and of the wind itself. The eye sees dark, and that lack proves that there is light.


As far as I know, this remained strictly a theory of perception until `Abdu'l-Baha made the "secret doctrine" into a proof of deity. Unfortunately, I have not enquired into "all things" yet, and it is possible I have overlooked another antecedent.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blog reader Ed writes:

"After I watched Al Gore's speech I also watched a linked video which refers to this and other prizes, so I thought maybe you could help spread this around. Maybe there's a little spirituality in it too. :)"

http://www.innovationprizecentral.com/virgin_earth_challenge.html

Al Gore's Energy Challenge

Here is an historic speech that everybody should watch.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCKoD0bXX94

"Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and clean carbon-free sources within 10 years. This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans -- in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen." For the full text, go to wecansolveit.org/

The popularity of real "bold energy solutions" is truly unbelievable, even in my humble experience.

My sister-in-law gave me her electric bike, which is in need of repairs. I briefly took it out for a few minutes and was actually bothered by the cheers and gratuitous positive comments of people on the street as soon as they saw that I was riding an electric vehicle. Yesterday I was in the more sophisticated surroundings of the big city, walking at a big university campus, and I saw the same thing happen; the school had bought electric utility vehicles and a car stopped and shouted at the worker driving it, "Nice vehicle!" "Thanks," he replied. Everybody wants an electric economy, and this video is the first sign that the will of the world's people might soon be put into action.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Baha'i's Comic Book to be made into film

"Throughout the series Nelson has linked many religions together with Grail Mythology, and “Rex Mundi” is indeed a statement about the writer’s own beliefs. “I grew up Episcopalian, actually,” Nelson said. “In college, I converted to a religion called Baha’i. ‘Rex Mundi’ is, at it deepest level, a meditation on the prophecies surrounding the advent of the Baha’i era.” One of the more auspicious developments in the world of “Rex Mundi is the announcement of a film adaptation produced by and starring Johnny Depp."

http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=17297

Friday, July 18, 2008

tpm, p27 Two Prayers for World Reform

2008 July 18, 06 Kalimat, 165 BE

The first of these two prayers was written by Jan Amos Comenius, the second revealed by Abdu'l-Baha in Montreal after laying out several of the Baha'i principles consecutively.

==========

 Prayer of Jan Amos Comenius, from Panorthosia, Ch. 3, para 45, pp. 81-82

  "O Lord, who hast made heaven and earth and sea and the fountains of waters (Rev 14:7), and who hast promised in the last days to pour out Thy spirit like waters (Isa 44:3) and the issuing of waters from under the threshold of Thy house (Ez 47:1,2) to be increased beyond measure (v. 5) for the purpose of healing all the waters of the earth (v. 8) and giving life to every soul that liveth (v. 9) and bringing forth trees, with fruit and leaves that shall be for meat and medicine (v. 12), fulfil now Thy holy promises, O holy God!

  "Open the floodgates of heaven, break up the fountains of the great deep, (Gen 7:11) that the flood of thy wisdom may pour forth to engulf the confusions of the world! For Thy Church, still wandering through a thirsty desert, open up rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys! Make the wilderness a pool of water and the dry land springs of water (Isa 41:18). Let the river of God be full of water! (Ps 65:3).

  "Be unto us Thyself, O Lord, as the river, and let Thine hand, Thy word, and Thy spirit within us be as broad streams (Isa 33:21), that our iniquities may be cleansed, and our ruined places rebuilded, and our land that is desolate may become like the Garden of Eden (Ez 36:33-35). May the zeal of the Lord of Hosts perform this (Isa 9:7). Amen"

 

 ==========

 Master Prayer, from Promulgation, 452-453

  I pray that the nations of the East and West shall become one flock under the care and guidance of the divine Shepherd. Verily, this is the bestowal of God and the greatest honor of man. This is the glory of humanity. This is the good pleasure of God. I ask God for this with a contrite heart.

  O my Lord! Thou Who art ever-forgiving! Verily, this assembly hath turned its face toward Thy Kingdom. Verily, they are all of Thy flock, and Thou art the one Shepherd of all. O Thou real Shepherd! Educate and train Thy sheep in Thy green and verdant pastures. Suffer these birds of Thine to build their nests in Thy rose garden. Adorn Thine orchard with these fresh plants and flowers. Refresh these human trees by Thy shower of beneficence and favor.

  O God! Verily, we are all Thy servants--all Thine--and Thou art the One Lord. We all adore Thee, and Thou art the beneficent Master. O Lord! Render the eyes perceptive that they may witness the lights of Thy Kingdom. Render the ears attentive that they may hear the heavenly summons. Resuscitate the spirits that they may be exhilarated through the breath of the Holy Spirit. O Lord! Verily, we are weak, but Thou art almighty. We are poor, but Thou art rich. Have mercy upon us. Apportion unto us a goodly share of Thy realities, and lead us into the arena of Thine attainments.

  Thou art the Powerful. Thou art the Able. Thou art the kind Lord.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Steven Leacock's Apparent Parody

Here is a summary of what one academic thinks is a parody of the Master, though it seems evident that the humorist did nothing more than glance at a headline and use the name to satirize a form of religious hucksterism that the Master Himself deplored and openly denounced, especially in Green Acre.

LEACOCK'S PARODY ON 'ABDU'L-BAHA

http://www.bahai-library.org/fiction/leacock.parody.html

here is the actual newspaper headline he glanced over, probably.

http://www.ca.bahai.org/images/history4.jpg

which you can read more about at:

History of the Bahá'í Community of Canada

http://www.ca.bahai.org/main.cfm?sid=41

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Camera-free music video

In Radiohead's new video for "House of Cards", no cameras or lights were used. Instead, 3D plotting technologies collected information about the shapes and relative distances of objects. -- note to eight year olds: this was made with lasers!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Badi Blog posting is ongoing

2008 July 11, 19 Rahmat, 165 BE

 

Over the past week I have been fooling around with broken-down computers, repairs, upgrades and generally catching up on a todo list as long as your arm.

The Youth Impact Centre has switched to a summer schedule and has a couple of youth workers helping its new pastor, Ray. My usual co-coordinator, Stu, is taking the summer off, so Gord and I have been handling the Friday night chess club alone. Silvie was involved in the pastor's Martial Arts classes for a few months, but then her interest flagged. She stays home on the night I volunteer, Fridays, while Thomas still comes along.

 

Our main computer failed after I upgraded its RAM, in preparation for putting MS Flight Simulator onto it. I also purchased a video card from the new local computer store, Computer Troubleshooters. They stood by what they sold me, and now the machine seems to be working. In the meantime I have been trying to make the switch from a windows machine to the Imac, which we have owned for six months but were using mostly as a television and DVD player, rather than a computer.

 

I have had no choice but to post directly to the badi blog. You can go to the blog to read the recent posts all together quite conveniently; they are short and to the point, usually with a link to something I found interesting. Here is a list of the posts in the order of the principle system I use, along with their location on the web:

 

==========

p07 (Education) Creativity Expert

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/creativity-expert.html

p14 (Virtues and Calendar) Round format of the Badi' Calendar

  2008 July 12, 19 Rahmat, 165 BE

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/round-format-of-badi-calendar.html

p15dea (Mind, Soul and Body; Death) Five things to do before you die

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/5-things-to-do-before-you-die.html

p17 (Love) Some Kind of Wonderful

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/some-kind-of-wonderful.html

p22cor (Politics, Corruption) Medical corruption?

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/medical-corruption.html

p33 (Travel, Transportation) Where's Mat?

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/wheres-mat.html

p33 (Travel) Worst Plane Crash

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/worst-plane-crash.html

tfam (Family and Sex) My Favorite Movie Kiss

  http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/my-favorite-movie-kiss.html

 ==========

 

2008 July 14,

 

Converting to a mac is a huge job for an old timer like me. Very set in my ways, I am. I have been up to my neck in networking protocols, a thumb modem that turned out to be defective, and on and on. This DOSBOX program for using DOS on a Mac works, but it is a pain to set up. It looks like I might have to buy a notebook computer if only to be able to use my ancient DOS writing program, Maxthink, in native mode, with all keystroke shortcuts intact. Meanwhile, I have been making short posts periodically, direct to the blog. One of them is:

 

http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/baha.html

 

 

Criticism in the Cause

The Covenant Study Website that I discussed yesterday has a new post on criticism at:

http://covenantstudy.org/questions/questioning-and-criticism/

I just went over the quotes from the Guardian and the House included here, and basically what a Baha'i has to do us be her own lawyer. We can offer criticisms, but only in such a way that they will not bring about disunity or negative views of the institutions. That means being very guarded, in view that some are more sensitive than others. The feast is the main forum for positive criticism, but the larger the group is, the more likely it is that more unprepared souls will be there who will take it the wrong way. I have observed that when there is a high level of love, trust and goodwill between friends, the friend can offer frank feedback that would be insulting from anybody else. That is why the Master advises us not "take offense" and Baha'u'llah admonishes us to see one another as family members. In a united family you can be very outspoken without danger of ill feeling. So there is a formula, the higher the love, the sharper the knives of criticism can be plunged into the heart of the situation without pain.

My favorite part from this selection is this, from the UHJ:

"The responsibility resting on the individual to conduct himself in such a way as to ensure the stability of society takes on elemental importance in this context. For vital as it is to the progress of society, criticism is a two-edged sword: it is all too often the harbinger of conflict and contention. The balanced processes of the Administrative Order are meant to prevent this essential activity from degenerating to any form of dissent that breeds opposition and its dreadful schismatic consequences. How incalculable have been the negative results of ill-directed criticism: in the catastrophic divergences it has created in religion, in the equally contentious factions it has spawned in political systems, which have dignified conflict by institutionalizing such concepts as the “loyal opposition” which attach to one or another of the various categories of political opinion — conservative, liberal, progressive, reactionary, and so forth.

"If Bahá’í individuals deliberately ignore the principles imbedded in the Order which Bahá’u’lláh Himself has established to remedy divisiveness in the human family, the Cause for which so much has been sacrificed will surely be set back in its mission to rescue world society from complete disintegration. May not the existence of the Covenant be invoked again and again, so that such repetition may preserve the needed perspective? For, in this age, the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh has been protected against the baneful effects of the misuse of the process of criticism; this has been done by the institution of the Covenant and by the provision of a universal administrative system which incorporates within itself the mechanisms for drawing out the constructive ideas of individuals and using them for the benefit of the entire system. Admonishing the people to uphold the unifying purpose of the Cause, Bahá’u’lláh, in the Book of His Covenant, addresses these poignant words to them: “Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord.” Such assertions emphasize a crucial point; it is this: In terms of the Covenant, dissidence is a moral and intellectual contradiction of the main objective animating the Bahá’í community, namely, the establishment of the unity of mankind." (Universal House of Justice, Individual Rights and Freedoms, paragraph 31-36)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

wind energy

Iranians for peace

Iranians for peace message.

http://www.voicesforpeace.net/

Now who would ever want to attack Iran?

Baha'i Covenant Website

Here is an interesting website on the Baha'i Covenant,

http://covenantstudy.org

I reviewed the website and had some concerns, so I wrote to the author the following comment,

John Taylor (badiblog.blogspot.com) wrote:
Here is a suggestion: Since there is so much material on the web written by covenant breakers, a loyal believer needs to be cautious about the source. Often something looks
legit and turns out on further reading to come from an enemy.

That is why it is surprising and -- no offense -- suspicious, that, although this site seems to be from an official source, you leave no hint as to who wrote it, no links to Baha'i institutions or anything. Part of firmness in the covenant is paying due attention to sources. For that reason I hesitate to
recommend what looks like a good resource on my blog until this is rectified.

The (still anonymous) author of the website replied promptly, saying:

==========

Thank you for expressing your concerns about the site. In an effort to clarify things a bit more I have added an "About" page

http://covenantstudy.org/about

I've also made sure that the links to the official Baha'i sites appear on all pages (not just the homepage).
BTW, I have done a number of other efforts on the web and prefer to do them anonymously -- but at the same time I certainly don't want to raise doubts about my intentions. So this "About" page tries to be the most clear and unambiguous statement on any blog or Web site out there :-)
I also share your discomfort with the sites on the web -- both by covenant-breakers and those who claim to be "Baha'is in good standing" -- that make attacks on the Institutions of the Faith. This site was created in response to their efforts and I hope it will provide a place where people can deepen their understanding on the aspects of the Covenant -- and enable us to see them for what they truly are.
Warmest thanks and regards!

==========

This is a good response, so yes I recommend the site, though if any readers finds anything of concern I hope they will let me know.

Just a note about anonymity. Before I "moved" my writing onto the Web, I edited and wrote for a newsletter for a fairly large Baha'i community. I too wanted to be anonymous with what I wrote, in view of the Teachings on humility, self-effacement, etc. But after a couple of years I found that it is just not practical. Humility is one thing, justice is another, and it trumps humility in many cases. Not saying who wrote something causes endless confusion about who who said what and why.

That is why, you will notice, on almost every blog entry, especially every essay, I start right off with "by John Taylor."

Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants, anyone?



Polyfluoroalkyl phosphate surfactants, anyone?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Round format of the Badi' Calendar

I have found a round, clock-like format of the Badi' Calendar very useful in orienting myself, and especially in familiarizing the kids with the English and Arabic names of the months. I glued a printout of this pretty layout of our calendar on a metal file cabinet, on which a magnet can be used to mark our place in the cycle of the years and seasons. I just noticed that this layout is available in color at the American NSA's site:

http://www.bahai.us/bahai-calendar

If you can get a hold of printable magnet sheets, you could maybe print this calendar on that material in order to make your markers stick better. Let me know what you find useful.

(I really mean it, give me your comments; my daughter is checking my blog and comparing the number of comments with her mother's blog, and Mom has been winning hands down she tells me.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Medical corruption?

Hey, check out this article on statins for kids:

Editorial:
Cholesterol Drugs for 8-Year-Olds
New York Times, July 10, 2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/10/opinion/10thu2.html?th&emc=th

Now check out the Lawh-i-Tibb, Baha'u'llah's advice to doctors,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawh-i-Tibb
and a provisional translation at:
http://bahai-library.com/index.php5?file=bahaullah_lawh_tibb.html

In the second paragraph Baha'u'llah says,

"Treat disease first of all through the diet and refrain from medicines. If you find what you need (for healing) in a single herb, do not use compound medicines. Leave off medicine when the health is good and use it in case of necessity."

As the Times editorial points out, there is no evidence that statins for kids will help with potential heart problems, and you can bet that taking a drug of any kind over decades will turn up any number of unexpected complications. Since the American Pediatric Association stands to profit from the massive profits drug companies stand to make on this advice, you can bet they are not too worried about lawsuits coming at them decades from now.

This is why we need the wisdom of a Manifestation of God. We have been eating foods for millions of years. Drugs are novelties, though how new medical corruption is is another question.

Check out this bit of satire on political corruption from Onion:


In The Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?

Onion should get onto this story and satirize statins for kids.

Monday, July 07, 2008

My Favorite Movie Kiss



For the whole film from which this scene was taken, see "Some Kind of Wonderful." Watched it lately with Silvie, my daughter, to prove her wrong when she says I am not romantic enough.

For the Baha'i position on kissing see:

http://bahai-library.com/guardian/easy.familiarity.html

In my opinion, the above scene demonstrates graphically the wisdom of treating extramarital kissing just the same as other kinds of extramarital intercourse. Studies found that a kiss sets off pheromones that inhabit the brain for at least two years afterwards. The body is never the same afterwards. For the love lorn, there are good physical reasons that it hurts. The body forms a bond that is meant to be permanent.

Does that make me a non-romantic? In my opinion, anybody who takes this law seriously is not only wise and non-masochistic, they are far more of a romantic than otherwise...

Some Kind of Wonderful



A favorite song. I like the comments of this love lorn fellow:

"My soundtrack for my broken heart.... because yeah, she is some kind of wonderful, even if she doesn`t love me, she`s still some kind of wonderful...."

And this guy, in response: "Yeah bro, i feel the same way these days :("

Worst Plane Crash



This is a documentary based on the worst plane crash in the history of Aviation at Tenerife. Mentioned earlier on the Badi' Blog.

Creativity Expert



Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

Where's Mat?



14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

5 things to do before you die

The badi blog is temporarily blocked, due to
the breakdown of our main computer.

Until it is repaired, just brief notes
posted direct to you.


Tonight's Baha'i class featured our usual Virtues
Guide lesson, a reading from Children's Stories
from Dawnbreakers, a prayer and reading, and at the
end, by Silvie's special request, a Christian book for
Sunday Schools called: "Goof Proof Skits for Youth
Minstry," by John Duckworth.


The kids really enjoy taking roles for the
little plays, many of which borrow from
popular movies and television shows (The
Simpletons) and make them funny, with a
message, reinforced by study questions at
the end. Tonight's play was The Waiting
Room, about the death of some frogs
in a biology lab, and the last question
was:

what five things would you like to do
before you die?

I was surprised at how political their answers were.

Here are 13 year old Silvie's wishes:

1. An environmentalist president.

2. Save the rainforest.

3. star in a movie

4. have at least five of my books published

5. become a millionaire


Here are 8 year old Thomas's choices, some of
which had me rolling on the floor laughing,


1. Become a billionaire.

2. Own a spaceship.

3. To take a sledgehammer and smash
Richard Nixon's gravestone.

4. Have a president of the world who is
an environmentalist and a scientist.

5. Have a real Omnitrix.


Note that an Omnitrix is a device that allows
the hero of Ben 10, his favorite show, to become
one of ten or more strange superheroes.

Also, Richard Nixon (or rather his preserved
head in a bottle) is the heavy in their favorite
series, Futurama.

He wanted a sixth wish, to beat up the worst president
in history.

Who is that?

Like another president named George, I could not
tell a lie. It is George W. Bush. Anyway, I disallowed
it, reminding him of the dictum,
"breath not a word of politics." I swear to you,
I have not instilled this in them.
I try my best not to talk one way or another about
politicians to my children.

I do not know where he gets it. Clearly, for the
next little while in this family we will have to
obey the dictum of the Ahd and pray for our leaders.


Here are my five wishes:


1. To sleep like Rip Van Winkle
for a couple of centuries so that I
do not have to see first hand what
is about to happen to the world.

2. To understand the Baha'i principles.

3. For my "system" (research collection
and organization of the principles) to
benefit the world as it is designed to.

4. To travel teach.

5. To see an end to people wishing to
take sledgehammers to graves, especially
those of Baha'is.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

thap bliss

Bliss

By John Taylor; 2008 July 05, 12 Rahmat, 165 BE

 

My 8-year-old son Tomaso has always been very inquisitive. I used to have a nickname for him, "The Randomizer," because of the state he left the garage in after his investigations were finished. Generally speaking, three minutes of cleanup for every minute he spent down there. Now his investigations are less physical. I am bombarded by questions all day long. Yesterday at the Youth Impact Center I was playing chess with Gord (one miserable loss, one glorious victory); at various points we were asked questions like: What is the hardest substance in the world? Which is more dangerous, an atom bomb or a hydrogen bomb? On the way out of the house, remembering a prayer he had read for our Baha'i class, he asked: What is bliss? Offhand, I said that it is happiness mixed with contentment, peace and ecstasy. This morning I read this and thought that it hints at what bliss is, total selflessness before God and His Manifestation.

 

"Glorified art Thou, O my God! Thou knowest that my sole aim in revealing Thy Cause hath been to reveal Thee and not my self, and to manifest Thy glory rather than my glory." (PM 103)

 

This says something about the selfless motivations of the Manifestation of God. Bliss is joy shining through pain. But from our point of view, we His followers, He surely speaks advisedly here. We too must stand before Him not for ourselves but for His glory and nothing else. The more sincere we are in this, the more content we will be, the richer our bliss. The Guardian wrote to a Baha'i who evidently was going through some kind of episode of guilt or depression,

 

"Regarding your own condition: he (the Guardian) strongly urges you not to dwell on yourself. Each one of us, if we look into our failures, is sure to feel unworthy and despondent, and this feeling only frustrates our constructive efforts and wastes time. The thing for us to focus on is the glory of the Cause and the Power of Baha'u'llah which can make of a mere drop a surging sea! You certainly have no right to feel negative; you have embraced this glorious Faith and arisen with devotion to serve it, and your labours are greatly appreciated by both the Guardian and your fellow-Baha'is. With something as positive as the Faith and all it teaches behind you, you should be a veritable lion of confidence, and he will pray that you may become so." (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, 13 October 1947, p. 446)

 

Not long ago I posted on the blog a couple of renditions of "Nearer my god to thee," one of which is in a female voice, like that of Lua, who, facing the shrine of Baha'u'llah, sang the song with such feeling that it brought tears to the eyes of the Master.

 

<http://badiblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/shoghi-effendi-during-his-six-month.html>

 

I looked up the song on Wikipedia, and it explains that this song was written with the image of Jacob's ladder in mind, a vision of the future life, with souls ascending and descending a celestial escalator.

 

"`Nearer, My God, to Thee' is a 19th century Christian hymn based loosely on Genesis 28:11-19, the story of Jacob's dream. Genesis 28:11-12 can be translated as follows: "So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it...."

 

For a Baha'i, what a clear description this is of the holiest spot on earth, the Shrine of Baha'u'llah! A reader wrote not long ago,

 

"Hello John, Point of information - did Abdu'l-Baha ever write directly to Lua? Or were there cultural norms in force that prevented him from corresponding with another man's wife?"

 

Yes, indeed, He did. Her biographer records this,

 

==========

 

The enraptured Lua received her first Tablet from the hand of Abdu'l-Baha dated January 18, 1899. She cherished the copy in the Master's own handwriting:

 

Forty-sixth year from the Year of Dawning.

He is God!

O thou shining and spiritual gem!

Glad-tidings to the from the Generosity of thy Lord. Be happy on account of the Gift of the GOD which shall soon surround thee. And thou art confirmed in the covenant.

(Signed) Abdu'l-Baha Abbas (Translated by Anton Haddad, from Lua Getsinger, Herald of the Covenant, by Velda Piff Metelmann, George Ronald, Oxford, 1997 p. 23)

 

==========

 

The message the Master gave to Lua (who suffered from periodic and terrible episodes of what she herself called "nervous prostration") is clear and applies to all: we experience bliss not because of what we were or are now but because of the gift of God that will surround us soon, in the future. Our joy is born of what is to come, not of what we did or do now. The font of all our bliss is in the future, so buck up, and live for that, and live up to that.

 

Friday, July 04, 2008

Workplace Constitution, V

More on Money

By John Taylor; 2008 July 04, 11 Rahmat, 165 BE

 

Money and language have always mystified me. When Silvie and Tomaso ask what money is I unhesitatingly answer that I do not have the slightest. Last night I re-watched with them on YouTube the animated feature "Money as Debt" that we have been discussing here the past several days. In my experience, if it is an animated film, these kids will watch it, no matter how abstruse. This thing is nothing more than a complex lecture illustrated by desultory moving clip art and rolling quotes, but it does not matter. They lapped it up.

 

I hoped that this might answer their questions about money. It did, in spades. By the time it was over eight-year-old Thomas had grasped enough of the financial system to have set up his own lending institution with an upside-down cardboard box. He offered promissory notes based on a down payment of a dime in return for a signed agreement to pay a dime a day for ten days. By the time he was asleep he had got his mother and sister in on the deal and had a float of thousands of credits based on an installment plan of three dollars. How he did it, I do not know. As I say, I do not understand money. Thomas proved that an eight-year-old can flummox me completely in less than an hour.

 

The most important thing to remember is that money is not printed by governments but under the current system is created by the closed lending of funds in and among banks and trusts. The more borrowing goes on, the more money is spawned.

 

As the movie points out, this is not well understood. And small wonder most people do not understand; we have twelve years of science and math training in primary and high school, but in most cases there is nary a mention of what money is or where it comes from. Yet, in spite of the fact that money and lack of it dominate our lives, we show very little curiosity and are willing to put forth very little mental effort to understand it.

 

Before retiring for the night, despairing of ever grasping this mystery, I posted on the Badi' Blog a song that keeps going through my head, "It's Money That Matters." I may not know what it is, but I know that it matters.

 For most of the suffering souls in the world right now, the money question is a question of despair. And the world is in an increasingly precarious situation, what with the petroleum delivery system strained to the limit. One shock, anywhere in the pipeline, will send oil prices soaring into the stratosphere. Then the money question will be one of brute survival, even in rich lands.

 

The Money as Debt movie expresses the opinion that governments should stop the fractional reserve system of raising money through private debt. There are other ways of raising funds that are better suited to a sustainable economy, including raising funds based upon infrastructure. They also suggest that a quick way to reform the entire international financial system would be to completely eliminate private lending to government. Most tax money goes into heavy debt and interest charges paid out to private lenders. Why? If we only knew what is in our own interest, our representatives would end this ongoing swindle and raise our own funds in different ways.

 

One consideration the filmmakers overlook is that this dependency of government on debt to private banks has the advantage of simplicity. If everybody uses the same fiat currency, it is easy to assess and calculate income taxes. Centralized funding to central governments depends upon this system. I was talking to a small businessperson lately about "barter bucks." He told me that this alternative dollar system was working well for some area entrepreneurs until the taxman came down on them. He ruled that barter bucks count the same as "fiat currency" as far as taxation is concerned. This ended the labor and services bartering scheme for all but a few private individuals. However, as the film points out, local bartering has advantages of security; it is inflation and recession proof, and would be our only resort in the event of a world financial meltdown.

 

The question that springs to mind is: would local bartering and so-called "green bucks" seem as inimical to the localized financial system of the Master's proposed rural storehouses? Or would the security advantages outweigh any perceived loss of revenue? I cannot answer that question off the top of my head but it seems to me that we could fairly easily if we set up games and simulations of storehouses. The Master's scheme is very simple. He described it in a few paragraphs. It should be quite easy to try it out in a computer simulation, or even a board game like "Monopoly."

 

The complication is that, locality-oriented as this scheme is, it is clearly intended to fit into a world system united by a single world currency. We can presume that unlike national currencies, a world currency would not be threatened by bartering and other experimentation at the local level. While most financial activity would take place locally, the world currency would allow for coordination across borders far beyond what presently is feasible. Shoghi Effendi wrote that in future,

 

"The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated... A world federal system, ruling the whole earth and exercising unchallengeable authority over its unimaginably vast resources, blending and embodying the ideals of both the East and the West, liberated from the curse of war and its miseries, and bent on the exploitation of all the available sources of energy on the surface of the planet, a system in which Force is made the servant of Justice, whose life is sustained by its universal recognition of one God and by its allegiance to one common Revelation -- such is the goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving." (World Order, 204)

 

In contrast with these grand schemes operating on a world level, local storehouses would focus on one thing: assuring common welfare. Their prime mandate is to assure that, in Shoghi Effendi's words,

 

"Destitution on the one hand, and gross accumulation of ownership on the other, will disappear..."

 

However, the "gross accumulation of ownership" would be only partly addressed by storehouses. The great Baha'i scholar Mirza Abu'l-Fadl saw the inheritance provisions of the Aqdas as a major part of the solution. Let us close with that, followed by a caution by the Guardian about how far we can go in putting the "Baha'i" into Baha'i economics. (I would appreciate if some math literate reader explained what Abu'l-Fadl means by the number 2520 being the "lowest number comprising the integral fractions of 9")

 

 ==========

 

Avoiding Gross Accumulation of Family Fortunes

From: Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, The Brilliant Proof

 

One of the abstruse problems of social philosophy is the prevention of monopoly and wealth control by certain individuals. This subject has been discussed by the philosophers of the world for many years. The wise men of Europe and America have given the subject exhaustive attention; nevertheless they have not yet agreed upon any opinion and have not reached a consensus of remedy for the solution of this seemingly insurmountable question.

 But if a soul should ponder and reflect upon the divine institution concerning the question of heritage and the modus of operandi of the distribution of legacies among heirs according to the laws of this Dispensation, he will see that this all-important problem has been solved in the simplest manner. The distribution of wealth among the nations has been established according to the best method.

 Inasmuch as the matter of death among mankind is an unavoidable event, if the distribution of the estate left by those who ascend to God should be effected according to this divine recommendation, it will be impossible for wealth to be accumulated by the few or for any particular family to exercise a monopoly, leaving others deprived and afflicted by poverty and want. For the Mighty Lawgiver has dealt with this important affair in this manner: He has divided the heirs of the deceased into seven classes, including teachers, who are the spiritual fathers of enlightened individuals in the world of humanity. The heritage is divided according to the number 2520, which is the lowest number comprising the integral fractions of nine. Under this division the seven classes eligible to legacies are as follows:

 First: Offspring

 Second: Wife

 Third: Father

 Fourth: Mother

 Fifth: Brother

 Sixth: Sister

 Seventh: Teachers

 The nearest relatives are arranged the closest. Each class receives its due according to the number sixty, which runs down through all. He has decreed that these seven classes mentioned will come equally into possession of their legitimate rights, each receiving his (allotted) share from this division. When the people of insight reflect upon that which has been recorded they will see that with this command in operation wealth will never be monopolized by a limited few and no individual through sheer forceful skill will come into possession of another's wealth. Wealth will always be in circulation among all. All mankind will inherit from one another and all will be benefited from this capital. Yea, when a person reflects upon the distribution effected in the Book of Bayan by the Bab, he will conclude that such a division mentioned therein may affect the interest of the offspring, but the manner in which it is provided for in the Book of Aqdas, through the Supreme Pen (of Baha'u'llah) wherein the heritage of the children is multiplied, dispels this fear. To all people of insight it is evident that in this Most Great Cause all the means of comfort for the nation have been provided and a plan of readjustment for the affairs of the people of the world from all standpoints has been established. That which has been stated here will suffice to answer in brief the objections of Mr. Easton and those like him.

 Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, The Brilliant Proof, pp. 34-36

 

==========

 

Regarding Problems of Ownership, Control and Distribution of Capital

 

“Regarding your questions concerning the Baha'i attitude on various economic problems, such as the problem of ownership, control and distribution of capital, and of other means of production, the problem of trusts and monopolies, and such economic experiments as social cooperatives; the Teachings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha do not provide specific and detailed solutions to all such economic questions which mostly pertain to the domain of technical economics, and as such do not concern directly the Cause.

True, there are certain guiding principles in Baha'i Sacred Writings on the subject of economics, but these do by no means cover the whole field of theoretical and applied economics, and are mostly intended to guide further Baha'i economic writers and technicians to evolve an economic system which would function in full conformity with the spirit and the exact provisions of the Cause on this and similar subjects.

The International House of Justice will have, in consultation with economic experts, to assist in the formulation and evolution of the Baha'i economic system of the future. One thing, however, is certain that the Cause neither accepts the theories of the Capitalistic economics in full, nor can it agree with the Marxists and Communists in their repudiation of the principle of private ownership and of the vital sacred rights of the individual."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 10, 1930, Lights of Guidance, #1862, p. 548-549)