Saturday, January 31, 2009

On Getting Raised up

On Getting Raised Up in the Month of Sultan

"And when Thou didst purpose to unveil Thy sovereignty, and to glorify Thy word, and to reveal Thy bounteousness and mercy, Thou didst raise up one of Thy servants, and didst choose Him above all Thy creatures, and didst single Him out for Thy purpose, and didst clothe Him with the robe of Thy guidance, and didst immerse Him beneath the seas of Thy majesty and grandeur, and didst sanctify Him from all that beseemeth not the greatness of Thy glory and the power of Thy might, and didst bid Him to cry out before all that are in heaven and on earth, and summon the multitudes to the Manifestation of Thy Self and the Revealer of Thy signs." (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, 96-97)

The world's oldest scripture:

"Erect, preserve us from sore trouble; with thy flame burn thou each ravening demon dead. Raise thou us up that we may walk and live. So thou shalt find our worship mid the Gods." Vedas, Rig Veda, Book 1, Verse 14)

You Raised Me Up (Song, Act of God)

"Moses came during a time of darkness, when ignorance and childishness prevailed amongst the people, and they were waverers. ... He raised up the people from their degradation and caused them to be highly honoured. He taught them Sciences and Arts, trained them in civilization and increased their human virtues." (Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 44)

"This is indeed the eternal Truth which God, the Ancient of Days, hath revealed unto His omnipotent Word -- He Who hath been raised up from the midst of the Burning Bush." (The Bab, Selections, 41)

Lyrics: You raise me up

When I am down and so oh my soul so weary
When troubles come and my heart burdened be
Then I am still and wait here in the silence
Until you come and sit awhile with me

You raise me up so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up to walk on stormy seas
I am strong when I am on your shoulders
You raise me more than I can be

"And they swear by Allah with the most energetic of their oaths: Allah will not raise up him who dies. Yea! it is a promise binding on Him, quite true, but most people do not know." (Qur'an 16:38, Shakir tr.)

You Raise Me Up, Celtic Women

Holographic Unity

Towards a Technology of Holographic Unity

By John Taylor; 2009 Jan 31, 11 Sultan, 165 BE

Theodor Holm Nelson is a pioneer of the internet; he coined the word "hypertext," which later became the basis of the links we use constantly for surfing on the World Wide Web. One of the fellows who sat in on his master classes at Berkley wrote the "Idea Processor" program that I use all day in my writing, Maxthink. In a recent interview Nelson said,

"I have long been alarmed by people's sheeplike acceptance of the term computer technology -- it sounds so objective and inexorable -- when most computer technology is really a bunch of ideas turned into conventions and packages." (quoted in "In Venting, a Computer Visionary Educates," By John Markoff, New York Times January 10, 2009, <>)

Nelson believes that the computer should transform the printed page first, and that the received design of the programs we use is "the arbitrary result of business practices and not the inevitable result of technology evolution." Certainly, the history of communications bears him out on that. For example, the major religious traditions of the past developed their own language and script to express that selection of the truth they found most useful. It is reasonable to expect that as the world fuses many cultures into a universal one, that computers and software will change radically. They will stop following old ways of doing things and start new paradigms entirely.

I am thrilled by the prospect of in the near future of everyone having an internet-connected robot as a work partner. The real hyperlink should be built between us and our robot buddies, not between us and our computers.

Most literature on robots was devised before there was an internet. As a result, it was assumed that robot intelligence would come out of some kind of souped-up positronic brain backed up by a magnetic memory, all packed into the head of the machine. Unfortunately, that has not been as quick and easy as we had hoped. Computers, even supercomputers, in spite of geometric growth in some aspects of processing capability, have not progressed much further than that of the brain of the average insect. It is entirely possible that computer intelligence will hit insurmountable barriers and never will be of much use on their own. But if we can only bring them to a level of intelligence where they can connect our brains to the already impressively advanced "world brain," the shared intelligence of all human beings mediated by the Internet, our efficiency in every endeavour will be amplified tremendously by having such a work partner. It would unite personal experience with the experience of many minds.

A human-robot-world-brain partnership would change the professions into something entirely different. An old school accountant or farmer would be as different from the new kind as they were from the hunter-gatherers of pre-history. Even more broadly, eventually the present chasm between the individual and the collectivity of all human beings would start to break down. We know this intuitively. It must happen because it is of the nature of the universe. Consider what the Master said, "Unity is the expression of the loving power of God and reflects the reality of Divinity." (Promulgation, 13) He envisioned everything following the model of the divine gardener and a beautiful garden. The following, which He said at the building later named Carnegie Hall, I think of as His "holographic unity" passage, since the smallest part of a hologram can be cut out and it will still reflect the entire picture.

"The favors of God are unending, limitless. Infinite bounties have encompassed the world. We must emulate the bounties of God, and just as each one of them -- the bounty of life, for instance -- surrounds and encompasses all, so likewise must we be connected and blended together until each part shall become the expression of the whole.

"Consider: We plant a seed. A complete and perfect tree appears from it, and from each seed of this tree another tree can be produced. Therefore, the part is expressive of the whole, for this seed was a part of the tree, but therein potentially was the whole tree. So each one of us may become expressive or representative of all the bounties of life to mankind. This is the unity of the world of humanity. This is the bestowal of God. This is the felicity of the human world, and this is the manifestation of the divine favor." (Promulgation, 13)

John Taylor


Friday, January 30, 2009

What is New?

What is New About the Baha'i Faith?
Essay One

By John Taylor; 2009 Jan 29, 11 Sultan, 165 BE

In our daily study session with the kids we just finished the Book of Proverbs and have gone on to the Book of Ecclesiastes. These two, along with the Book of Job, are my favorites in the Old Testament and I could not imagine leaving them out of our children's education.

However, I am finding that Ecclesiastes grates rather painfully on young ears. `Tis a bitter pill to swallow, all that talk of working all your life, greedily scrubbing for more and lusting after yet more, and then in the end you gotta pass it all over to other hands. You do your all to be remembered and after a few years all there is left is dust. They object especially fervently to the endless repetitions of "All is vanity and chasing the wind," and "There is nothing new under the sun." It goes against the bred-in-the-bone optimism of youth, I suppose. I have to fight to get every sentence out, so frequent are their objections. But bitter medicine is still medicine, so I persist regardless. We all know that if there were no death, if we lived forever, there would be no need for religion. So these thoughts are necessary for all, be they young or old.

All that talk of there being nothing new under the sun is probably what moved me to return this morning to a project that preoccupied me especially during the 1990's, the question: "What is new about the Baha'i Faith?" I collected so much material on newness that I became overwhelmed. Sometimes it seemed that everything Baha'i was new, then I would go back and read ancient sources and dig up so many precedents that then it would seem that nothing is new. Finally the question "what is new?" started bothering me the same way "all is vanity, there is nothing new under the sun" do the kids. Only now that a decade is passed can I summon up the detachment to return to this question.

Although Ecclesiastes probably came long before, most classical writers were aware of the impossibility of saying anything totally new. For example,

"Nihil dictum quod non dictum prius," ("There is nothing said which has not been said before," Terence: Eunuchus, Prol. 10)

Of course being aware of that does not mean there is no point opening your mouth. We can hope that what we say, though already said, might be an improvement on what was done in the past. A sprinter may not be the first to run a hundred yards but he or she may do it faster than
anybody has ever done. World records continue to be broken, in spite of the fact that races have been run as long as recorded history. That seems to be the substance of this,

"We can say nothing but what hath been said. Our poets steal from Homer ... Our story-dressers do as much; he that comes last is commonly best." (Robert Burton, 1576-1640)

He that comes last is commonly best in speech too, if only because his words are current and can inspire the will and be changed into deeds right now. Old sayings, however wise and eloquent, do not have that immediacy. In that sense, the unique thing about the Baha'i Faith is that it can, will, must be carried out with great effect in the world. 

That, essentially, was the answer Abdu'l-Baha gave someone who evidently asked what the difference is between a Baha'i and other workers for peace and love. I will finish today's post with His letter answering that question,

"O thou lover of humanity!

"Thy letter was received and its contents imparted spiritual significances. Thank thou God that from thy early childhood thou hast been always a seeker after salvation and hast been spending thy energy and effort in charitable affairs and the excellences of the world of humanity.

"However, every great Cause in this world of existence findeth a visible expression through three means; first, intention; second, confirmation; third, action.

"Today on this earth there are many souls who are the spreaders of peace and reconciliation and are longing for the realization of the oneness and unity of the world of man; but this intention needs a dynamic power, so that it may become manifest in the world of being.

"Today the divine instructions and lordly exhortations of Baha'o'lah promulgate this most great aim and the confirmations of the Kingdom are the supports and defenders of this eminent intention.

"For the power of the Word of God is penetrative and the existence of the divine Kingdom is uninterrupted. Therefore, ere long it will become evident and clear that the ensign of the Most Great Peace is the teachings of Baha'o'llah.

"For the intention, the power and the action, all the three essential elements are brought together and the realization of everything in the contingent world dependeth upon these three principles. Therefore, O thou lover of the oneness of the world of humanity! spread thou as much as thou canst the instructions and teachings of His Highness Baha'o'llah, so that the desired Beloved become unveiled in the assembly of humankind and cast her light upon all the people.

"Likewise, some of the ancient philosophers have spoken regarding the oneness of the world of humanity, but confirmation and assistance became not their supports and helpers. Consequently their endeavors ended in being without result and the tree of their hope without fruit." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets, 690-692)


John Taylor



Thursday, January 29, 2009

Incident described in God Loves Laughter

Bill Sears' little sister insists that 
the boys play "Joan of Arc" with 
her, but they are distracted after 
the fire is lit by a fellow driving up 
on a cool motorcycle. The pastor
discovers her just in time.

Followership and World Governance

By-words for World Order

By John Taylor; 2009 Jan 28, 10 Sultan, 165 BE

Part IV
"But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted." (Matt 23:8-12, KJV)
I hate to think how often I have read this without ever giving it a second thought, except maybe wondering how it can be that certain Christian sects in spite of this persist in calling their leaders by titles like "father" or "patriarch." That is, I thought of it as a purely religious order rather than a practical one. The idea that a "no master" rule could be built into a political system just did not occur to me. Nor have I read any political author outside the Baha'i Faith who took it as seriously as it clearly deserves. Until, that is, I came across Jan Amos Comenius. In the following Comenius is considering the role of the individual in the three-pronged world government that he envisions,
"Indeed we ought to make several appointments to the office of guardian of human salvation, as Christ in his everlasting Wisdom has taught us in the famous passage in Matthew XXIII, 8-10, forbidding the establishment of one sole form of rule, worship, or wisdom amongst men." (Panorthosia, Ch. 15, para 9, p. 218)
That is, Comenius interprets this saying of Christ as forbidding all but poliarchy, rule of more than one in any of the political, religious and scientific institutions that would constitute a world government. No individual can take it over or even take on any direct power to the extent of meriting the title "master." Does that remind you of anything? Baha'i Houses of Justice, for instance? Comenius continues,
"For he (Christ) forbids the use on earth of the title master, father or leader in reference to the position of scholars, churchmen and politicians. Surely we must learn the lesson that the only form of world organisation should be for all men to unite in brotherhood, and all to depend on one Heavenly Father and the one Master and Leader whom He gave unto us, namely, Christ."
Of course avoiding the use of titles and other honorific forms of address for our leaders does not mean that we should not have any leaders at all. This is not doctrinaire egalitarianism, it says only that the "greatest among you shall be your servant." There will still be great ones among us but they are to be servants of the people, held to account for their words and actions. The goal is thus to create an "Aristos" (meaning "the best" in Greek) without an inherited, uppity aristocracy.
Reading over the context of the above saying of Jesus, I just noticed that He brackets it with very strong condemnations of hypocritical leaders who revel in titles, trappings and pageantry, and glory in high sounding words while their deeds belie their beautiful ideals.
The leader who humbles himself and, for that reason, is exalted to the station of service is put in stark contrast with the pompous hypocrites who persecute the Manifestations. Here is the source of the dictum, attributed to Lord Acton, that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Honors and titles, corrupt us no matter who we are, and like a poison gas the only way to avoid getting ill from it is to stop breathing it. Furthermore, as long as we followers give these honors and farm out our power without conditions to individuals, so long will leaders be sickened and continue to pervert the public thing.
Consider the very similar condemnation that Abdu'l-Baha gave in the "Noam Chomsky" passage that I cited more at length here lately,
"Glory be to God! What an extraordinary situation now obtains, when no one, hearing a claim advanced, asks himself what the speaker's real motive might be, and what selfish purpose he might not have hidden behind the mask of words." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, 103)
Who is Abdu'l-Baha condemning here? Certainly He goes on to talk about the hypocritical Muslim leader who puts his narrow, petty interest before that of all, and who bellows loudly about niggling points of ritual. Abdu'l-Baha does not praise the hypocrite any more than Christ did. But the real object of His criticism here is poor "followership," uncritical followers who abdicate their sacred responsibility to treat their leaders as their servants, that is, to make certain they do their job for the common good. Instead, most followers are totally uncritical; they blithely abdicate that responsibility and accept whatever their leaders tell them at face value.
I think both Comenius and Abdu'l-Baha realized that we will never have a world government until the people become better at "followership." Until we as a collectivity gain the skills of holding our leaders into account like a boss holds his employees into account, until we get into the habit of keeping pomp and titles from public service, so long will the old fear of a world dictatorship continue to block real power from being passed over to a world institution, however well designed and representative it may be.
In order to encourage such a critical attitude on the part of large numbers of people, Comenius suggests an interesting technique. As we noticed last fall in our series about Comenius's reform program for the family, Comenius suggests the repetition and display of specially chosen mottos. He does this throughout Panorthosia, suggesting a short motto for every important area of life.
He wrote of course centuries before advertisers arrogated this technique for their narrow, corrupt commercial purposes. Nonetheless the growth of an entire profession and the billions companies spend on publicity campaigns prove that dunning the mind of the masses with endless slogans, jingles and brand names is at least an effective technique.
Comenius was an educator, not a propagandist or advertiser. But he saw how a brief saying can remind us at the right time of the right thing to do. He suggested that the following mottos be posted everywhere to promote awareness of the role and value of the three world institutions:
Educational and Scientific Institution: "Light in Things"
Political Parliament: "Peace on Earth"
Parliament of Religions: "Peace of Conscience"
These three three-word mottos for three international bodies require further illumination. Here is the explanation that Comenius gives,
"Perfect Philosophy will take the form of universal agreement and harmony between Art and Nature, and its end will be LIGHT IN THINGS, and an abundance of them. The test of perfect Politics will be the restoration of human prudence to the certainty of the mechanical arts, and its end will be PEACE ON EARTH, and a quiet life. The seal of perfect Religion will be full agreement between the human will and the Will of God, and its end will be PEACE OF CONSCIENCE, that passeth all understanding, which would be heaven on earth." (Comenius, Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 38, pp. 167-168)
Having these three slogans in mind, the average citizen, no matter who they are, will be able to ask pointed questions of their leader-servants, no matter who it may be, be they in the family, the city, the nation or the world. If the person of prominence is a scientist or teacher, we can call to mind the slogan "light in things" and ask: "Is this a perfect philosophy? Does it promote enlightenment? Is it going to do the world any good?" If the head is in an institution dealing with practical or political affairs, the motto "Peace on Earth" reminds us always to ask, "Will this lead to peace or just stir up more conflict?" If the mugwump is in a religious inspired group, the slogan "Peace of Conscience" reminds us to ask: "Is your choice moral? Is it inspiring? Is this a harmonious application of God's teaching?"
There is no doubt that poor followership causes wrongheaded thinking, extremism, zealotry, fanaticism and fundamentalism in science, politics and religion. This blocks peace everywhere. Comenius's idea of mottos designed to uphold the true fundamentals of peace, love, and enlightenment, would be a powerful universal weapon against corruption, prejudice and misused power.
John Taylor

More on the Twin Guardians

More on Equity and Justice
2009 Jan 28, 10 Sultan, 165 BE
A reader kindly pointed out the following passage from a BIC document that responds to the same words of Baha’u’llah on equity and justice that I did in yesterday’s essay, “Justice and Equity, Guardian Twins.” It merits an entire posting, so here is the entire section, “Equity and Justice,” from the paper “Valuing Spirituality in Development,”

(Baha’u’llah wrote that…) "Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations."
Equity is fairness, the standard by which each person and group is able to maximize the development of their latent capacities. Equity differs from absolute equality in that it does not dictate that all be treated in exactly the same way. While everyone is endowed with talents and abilities, the full development of these capacities may require different approaches. It is equity that ensures that access and opportunity are fairly distributed so that this development might take place.
Equity and justice are the twin guardians of society. Equity is the standard by which policy and resource commitment decisions should be made. Justice is the vehicle through which equity is applied, its practical expression in the life of the individual and society. It is only through the exercise of true justice that trust will be established among the diverse peoples, cultures and institutions of an increasingly interdependent world.
The Baha’i Teachings state that the pillars of justice are reward and punishment. Those who act justly deserve reward, whether tangible or intangible, for such behavior. Those who act unjustly are in need of appropriate sanction both to arrest the injustice and to safeguard their own spiritual well-being.
Source: "Valuing Spirituality in Development, Initial Considerations Regarding the Creation of Spiritually Based Indicators for Development," A concept paper presented by the Baha'i International Community to the World Faiths and Development Dialogue, hosted by the President of the World Bank and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace. London, England 8-19 February 1998, at:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Thomas with his school skating today, or if you prefer it in Czech, "leden 2009 brusleni na zimnim stadionu"

Snowy in Dunnville (Marie's photo taken today)

My Name Is

My name is Darth Vader,

The Twin Guardians

Justice and Equity, Guardian Twins

"Justice and equity are twin Guardians that watch over men. From them are revealed such blessed and perspicuous words as are the cause of the well-being of the world and the protection of the nations." (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 12)

I stumbled across this saying of Baha'u'llah a few weeks ago and it has been goading me ever since. I can well imagine that justice is a guardian watching over mankind, but what is this about its twin, equity? How does equity guard the world? Do I even know what equity is? And if so, how do you distinguish between equity and justice? Or, as "twins," are they all but identical? And what is this linguistic angle about the two of them "revealing" words which promote well-being and protect the nations?

One difference would seem to be that equity is more about balance inside, whereas justice is concerned with outer action. Justice, Baha'u'llah implies here, is "blessed" and equity is "perspicuous," or clear. Equity's limpid quality comes from an inner inclination to perceive and internalize truth, whereas the holy quality of justice is carrying right out in relation to others.

Both guardians keep us from making mistakes. The guardian that Baha'u'llah calls justice rights wrongs in the world and erases gross violations of law. Equity, on the other hand, seems more concerned with prevention, with countering systemic imbalances and curing chronic illnesses.

Be that as it may, somebody referred me to a humorous essay called "The Laziest Man on Earth's Guide to Green Living," which is to be found at:

This is the kind of joking that evokes nervous laughter and disquieting second thoughts. The author writes,

"Anyone who thinks it's tough to be an environmentalist has got it all wrong. That's why I've gone to the considerable trouble of assembling a guide that even the laziest man on earth, who may or may not be yours truly, can follow to live according to ecologically friendly principles."

The lazy author then concocts rules like "borrow stuff," "never throw anything away," "do not wash your hair" and "do not flush your toilet." These reduce energy costs to manufacture new things and conserve fresh water. In other words, instead of showing forth what we normally think of as virtues, like neatness and cleanliness, the way things are right now we can take on vices like laziness and slovenliness and call it environmental friendliness.

The disturbing thing is that he is perfectly correct.

Upon long reflection I came to the conclusion that this is a systemic failing. If housing and the infrastructure that supports it were intelligently designed we would not harm the environment, for example, when we flush the toilet or wash our hair. That, I think, is failure mostly of our guardian of equity. This is not a gross wrong that would concern the guardian of justice, it is a long term imbalance whose subtle effects are impossible to detect in the short term. The inner balance of equity makes us concerned with such things before it is too late. With it we will see to it that doing the right and natural thing always has right and natural effects. If there is no concern with harmonious balance of daily living then the result, eventually, is an inefficient setup where order and cleanliness do more harm to the environment than vices.

An example is the mountain of trash we create whenever we purchase anything new. It started with the decision to stop reusing pop bottles and it worsened until suddenly there became an unspoken rule that everything in the store has to be covered in a thick layer (or two or three) of packaging, or it is somehow unsafe, unclean, not genuine. Nobody would plan such a situation intentionally, but that is what happens when we put the guardian of equity into the unemployment lines.

It is significant that Baha'u'llah in that quote personifies justice and equity; they are not abstractions but people. This, Plato did too. He envisioned an entire class of guardians protecting the general interest. I always imagined that as meaning the protective professions like police and the legal profession, but now that I am reading Comenius I am not so sure. Comenius envisioned specially trained guardians in all three estates of society, science, religion and politics, who would protect us against all sorts of disintegration and decay.

"To dispose of the danger confronting us (that Universal Affairs, which affect the order and security of mankind, may perchance fall apart and disintegrate) I say that the most effective remedy available is the appointment of regular guardians as soon as our sacred constitution is established, who shall have permanent responsibility for certifying that schools enlighten men's minds, churches inspire their hearts, and parliaments maintain national peace and for preventing errors from creeping in or developing." (Panorthosia, Ch. 15, para 7, p. 217)

That is, as soon as the three wings of a world government are formed and a constitution devised for them, there would not only be teachers sent out to "grow" their goals, but also there would be guardians to protect these provisions and to prevent situations like the one we are in, where vice is has a smaller footprint than virtue. This Comenius calls "keeping within the bounds of salvation."

"Every school, every church, and every state will have its guardians of law and order (I mean Scholarchs, Elders' and Senators). But as continuous progression is needed in each case towards the highest office of its kind, we must not leave any gaps especially here and now, when everlasting foundations for general salvation must be laid.

For example, just as people living together make up the family, families the state, states the province, provinces the kingdom, and, in fact, the entire community of kingdoms makes up one common state of mankind, so every home, state, province, and kingdom, and finally the whole world, should have its own Tribunal. Similarly there must be respective grades supervising the order and proficiency of schools and churches up to the highest level, and these must be vested with power to gather all men and all things together and to keep them within the bounds of salvation." (Panorthosia, Ch. 15, para 8, p. 218)


John Taylor


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Philosopher's Cafe for February

Chinese video on Baha'i

This video in Chinese is about the Baha'i Faith, with views of the world centre. More than that I cannot make out...

Hamilton Devotional


Prayers are healing and empowering
Virtues (Qualities of Character) are healing and empowering.
Healing and Transformation
With Prayers and Compassionate Communication

The common denominator of all spiritual teachings
is prayer and development of virtues.

Come join us for prayers, chanting and meditations followed by open dialogue of Compassionate Communication and its uses.

Intended to be healing, empowering and supportive for self
development and expanding the quality of all our relationships.
every 1st and 3rd

Sunday 1:30 – 4:00PM

Introduction Session/Workshop:
Sunday Feb.15...2009

Registration 1:00 Start @ 1:30 – 4:00PM

153 King Street West, Dundas
Drive to back for parking and auditorium entrance

Monthly Devotional & Virtues Support Group:
1st & 3rd Sundays of the month

Refreshments @ 1:30 start 2:00 – 4:00PM
Location:: 168 Park Street South,– Unit 3,

For Information & Please Confirm / RSVP
Tracey Farrell Munro
Mathew Bowman


The Dominion of Mulk

By John Taylor; 2009 Jan 27, 09 Sultan, 165 BE

Thoughts about Next Month's Feast Virtue

Several years ago I wrote a series of essays on the 19 virtues in the Badi' Calendar -- probably the main reason I called this the "Badi' Blog." Since then, a book on the calendar has been published by George Ronald, and a study of the Writings of the Bab has come out as well. The mistakes I made back then are clearer. Still, some still stands, and I want to go over it and re-post the best of them over the next year or two. So let us start with the virtue for the next feast: Mulk, or Dominion.


The Dominion of Mulk

In the early 1860's the safety and sovereignty of Canadians were gravely threatened by the great power to the south, which had split into a bloody Civil War among its states. Young men walking the streets of Canadian cities, including my home town of Hamilton, were regularly shanghaied by army recruiters with urgent quotas to fill. Some were persuaded, others seduced by prostitutes, plied with free alcohol only to wake up the next day as canon fodder. One day a boy or young man might walk free and two weeks later die a foot-soldier, overtaken by a violent, obscure death in the front lines of a foreign war. Nobody knows precisely how many disappeared there were. Most fought for the Northern Union but others, willingly or not, somehow turned up in the dead lists of the Confederate Army.

After hostilities stopped there came threats and saber rattling by hawkish elements pressuring a victorious American government to invade Canada. This persuaded a reluctant Canadian government, in spite of reservations about how ready we were for independence, that there was no choice but to join in confederation. In 1867, the provinces merged into a single country they called the "Dominion of Canada." The Fathers of Confederation chose the word "Dominion" carefully. They wished to have the rights due an independent nation, but not to follow the rebellious ways of their neighbor to the south and arrogate to themselves absolute sovereignty. Canadian leaders, backed by large numbers of "United Empire Loyalists" who had immigrated from America, held fiercely to the British Empire. They wished to leave all final decisions to the English parliament in London. Canada persisted in its reluctance to take the reigns completely for many decades afterward.

Only in 1983 was the Constitution repatriated and Canada ceased technically to be a dominion and became a fully federated nation. Still, that did not mean that we had to get rid of the name. Partly out of a misguided fear of offending anti-royalist sensibilities in Quebec, we got away from using this wonderfully distinctive appellation. Dominion Day has been changed to Canada Day, and the Dominion Government is now called the Federal Government. As the Faith becomes better known, I hope that Canadians will return to using this wonderful attribute of God in our name.

It was therefore with a thrill of nostalgia that I read the recent letter of the Universal House of Justice addressing us thus,

"With exultant hearts we hail the followers of Baha'u'llah assembled at the conferences convened in the Dominion of Canada." (Letter, 10 Jan, 2009)

What is past is prophesy. May the day come soon when Canada is a dominion again, only this time not of an empire but a world government whose dominion extends wherever humans abide.

Anyway, the delegates gathered at Canada's Confederation convention in 1867 considered for a while calling the new nation the "Kingdom of Canada." However our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald, thought the name would "wound the sensibilities of the Yankees." The Canadian Fathers of Confederation were not ignorant of the Bible. As a result, Sir Samuel Tilley suggested the name, "Dominion of Canada;" his inspiration was from the Psalm,

"He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." (72:8)

Because of this, the Coat of Arms for Canada has the Latin inscription "Ad mari usque ad mare," from sea to sea. Baha'is believe that this is a prophesy of the banishment of Baha'u'llah from the Caspian to the Mediterranean seas. As we shall see later on, 'Abdu'l-Baha made much of the fact that we are (or were) the only nation in the world to call itself a dominion.

The word "Dominion" is a Biblical term with a long history and far reaching millennial implications. The Psalm speaks of the power of God reaching out everywhere, without limit, as a dominion from sea to sea,

"He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth. Those who dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him. His enemies shall lick the dust." (Ps 72:8-9, WEB)

This reminded Canadians of our borders, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans. In fact, now that the Arctic Ocean is melting, soon we may be a land extending from sea to sea to sea. The river going to the "ends of the earth" was in their view our largest river, the St. Lawrence. The mention of "wilderness" struck a chord, since we were a nation of pioneers, many subsistence farmers lost in the endless forests of the north. Canadians living a hardscrabble life looked with longing eyes at the permanence and compassion, the absolute over-lordship of God's kingdom.

"Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Your dominion endures throughout all generations." (Ps 145:13, WEB)

Having been tossed in the wake of the terrible Civil War so close to home, the word dominion in the 19th Century also offered a promise of peace.

"...the battle bow will be cut off; And he will speak peace to the nations: And his dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth." (Zech 9:10, WEB)

At the same time, as a scriptural term dominion implies moral rule, placing the Word and teachings of God first, and putting them into action in our lives.

"Establish my footsteps in your word. Do not let any iniquity have dominion over me." (Ps 119:133, WEB)

This moral nuance shows up in the prophesies of Amos, who predicted the desolation of materialism that now grips the world, from sea to sea.

"Behold, the days come," says the Lord Yahweh, "That I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Yahweh. They will wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will run back and forth to seek the word of Yahweh, and will not find it." (Amos 8:11-12, WEB)

During this month of Mulk we living here might well reflect: How can we escape the ravages of materialism? Might it not be our destiny, handed to us by Sir Samuel Tilley, to be the first nation to submit to the material dominion of a world government, or even to the spiritual dominion of the Lord of Hosts? Could it be that the many blessings showered upon our nation, both material and spiritual, are meant as steps to that high calling?

Next time we will look in detail at the link Abdu'l-Baha made to Canadian Dominion in the Tablets of the Divine Plan.
Revised from 1995, and Apr 05, 2006

John Taylor



Monday, January 26, 2009

An Early Peace Plan

Comenius's peace plan, Part II

2009 Jan 26

I have been reading Daniel Murphy's "Comenius, A Critical Reassessment of His Life and Work," which devotes an entire chapter to the precedents and influences on the great educator's thinking. I learned, for example, that the principle of universal education, although advanced significantly by Comenius, was very much a part of the Zeitgeist of the reformation, especially after the invention of the printing press. The idea had been put forward by several previous thinkers, including Erasmus, Montaigne, Luther and Calvin, as well as several others I was not familiar with, such as the German educational innovator and pioneer Wolfgang Ratke, John Henry Alsted and the Spanish philosopher of education, J. L. Vives, an early advocate of universal education for girls as well as boys. Clearly, a great number of giants have to stand on one another's' shoulders to see something as great and panoramic as a divine principle like universal education, equality of the sexes, or peace.

Plus, it is one thing to advocate a beautiful sounding desideratum and quite another to implement it universally, to see that it applies wherever human beings live. In that sense we are as far from principle as ever we were. Even in the wealthiest country, America, poor students who should be considering higher education are refraining for fear of the massive debts that it entails.

In order for an idea like universal education to be applied, there has to be set up, as Comenius taught, though not in as many words, a dynamic equilibrium or feedback loop among knowledge, volition and action. Without such direct experience a thinker remains just that, a mere theorizer or utopian. For example, although Frances Bacon advanced the idea of "nursery gardens of the mind," it was Comenius who took that idea, molded it in his broader hands-on experience running educational institutions, and presented it in a form that became the inspiration for the England's Royal Society, the "think tank" that became the model and impetus for modern science.


I left off two weeks ago broaching Comenius's peace proposal in the Panorthosia. Let us continue broaching today. Comenius wrote that,

"The goal of human society is general peace and safety. And the good of the people must be the greatest concern of any republic or kingdom. Thus everything must be prevented which could in any way disturb society, confuse or complicate or sever social ties and personal safety. And the first among these things is war." (Comenius, Consultatio, in Wikiquotes)

Since the danger of war and disputation is not going to go away, an indefinite peace must be protected by permanent institutions designed to work what Comenius calls "Universal Politics,"

"Universal Politics is the light of the human mind so directed to all human affairs that over the entire field of human activities fighting, confusion, and revolution are forbidden, but all things are restored to harmony and contribute their share to the common good of all human society." (Panorthosia, Ch. 13, para 12, p. 205)

Just as universal reform is a completely different animal from mere reform, universal politics has completely different goals and rules from mere politics. The present-day United Nations came from mere politics and mere reform, and in fact is designed to prevent their universal forms from coming about. It has at its center a security counsel dealing with politics in its narrowest sense. Upon that other institutions such as UNESCO, UNICEF, and NGO's were tacked on later as afterthoughts.

Indeed, in the 1950's when UNESCO was founded, the three chapters of the Panorthosia dealing with this subject, chapters 15-18, were translated into English from Latin for the first time. Only some three decades later was the project of translating the entire Consultatio (that is, the General Treatise on the Remedy of Human Affairs -- De Emendatione Rerum Humanarum Consultatio Catholica -- which includes the Panorthosia) begun. As far as I know, Daniel Murphy is the only academic to try to assess this later body of work of Comenius, and he is primarily concerned with education rather than peace.

Comenius's vision of a world government in Panorthosia is the most universal and integrated that I have seen outside the Baha'i Writings. It avoids tokenism and takes in philosophy, science, language and religion on an equal basis from the get-go. Comenius is unlike other thinkers about peace who split off into mutually exclusive religious and secular schools, expunging one essential or overvaluing another. Each and all are required for full universality to come into effect.

The governmental pillar, which Comenius termed the "Dicastery of Peace," was just one of three foundational institutions, the other two being a parliament of religions and a ministry of science and philosophy. This is similar to the Baha'i "three onenesses," Mankind, science and religion each aspects of one reality. Each of the three institutions has its own ideal or virtue, and can never be in opposition with any other.

"But please notice that although Universality, Simplicity, and Agreement (the three banners of Christ in his triumph over Babylon) seem to apply to all three estates of Wisdom, Religion, and Politics, yet there is good reason for close relationship between the first and the first, the second and the second, or the third with the third. For example, our new Universal Wisdom or Philosophy ought to be just as universally available to all human minds as is the light of day to all men's eyes, our new Religion just as pure and simple as God, who is its object, and the new Government of man by man just as peaceful as that of the body by the soul." (Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 49, pp. 171-172)

Each of the three institutions is charged with a clear sphere of influence and a specific goal of purifying and vivifying one of the three stages of all real, conscious progress: knowing, willing and acting. Each is charged with formulating a common language based on a unitary educational agenda -- thus excluding any need for compulsion, manipulation or propaganda -- and takes in all three phases, knowing, willing and acting. Each institution has its own particular questions, science has "What do I know? What can we know?", politics, "What can we do?" and religion, "Why am I here? What will become of us?"

"This will come to pass if philosophy submits all things to the human intellect, and politics commits human power itself to human prudence, and religion truly refers all men and all things to God. To achieve this, Philosophy must be a true mirror of God's wisdom, which contemplates all things; Politics must be a living example of the power of God, which manages all things rightly; and Religion must sweetly dispense the goodness of God, which spreads through all things." (Panorthosia II, Ch. 10, para 38, pp. 167-168)

Keeping to an overall plan for the entire human race would give to each individual a clear role in carrying it out. That is, it would be based on what Baha'is call the principle of independent search for truth,

"Universal Politics will strive to keep the common faculties of all men in order so that we do not disagree in our policies and endeavours, but every individual plays his private part peacefully and thereby fosters and promotes public peace." (Panorthosia II, Ch. 13, para 12, pp. 203)

As mentioned, Comenius was not at all pie-in-the-sky; he held that every ideal requires a means for carrying it into action. As Benjamin Jowett put it, "We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice or kindness in general. Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique." Each of the three institutions, therefore, has its own means as well as its own questions and purposes,

"The means or instruments of Philosophy are all books of divine and human authorship according to necessity and choice. Nothing is excluded except what is evil, useless, or harmful. Those of Religion are all manner of ceremonies appropriate to the needs of the occasion, as for example in prayer, sitting, standing, kneeling, or bowing the head, etc. Those of Politics are any measures, popular or unpopular, which make for the introduction and maintenance of peace and tranquillity." (Panorthosia, Ch. 13, para 12, pp. 205-206)

When he speaks of philosophy (science) as being concerned with "books," he meant the "book of nature" as well as what we now would call the media and information technology. Thus the press and public opinion would not be left to the devices of private ownership as they are now, but would the direct instrument of the science wing of a world system of governance.

Next time we will look at who will make up these three institutions of world order.

John Taylor


Sunday, January 25, 2009

More on William Sears

Bill Sears childhood bedroom floor plan

Here is Silvie's depiction of the funniest passage we have ever read in any book, the story in God Loves Laughter of how Bill Sears secretly read the Bible under the bedcovers, late at night in his darkened room. The kids were screaming, literally ROFL, rolling on the floor laughing.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Badi' Report

Progress Report on the Badi' Essays Blog

By John Taylor; 2009 Jan 24, 06 Sultan, 165 BE

We have begun the huge job of moving my entire office, complete with desk and filing cabinets, from the back 1/2 bedroom to the living room and garage in order that the kids can have separate bedrooms. As a result I missed a couple of weeks of the promised essay each day, though if you look on the Badi' blog you will find that I have been posting directly there on a regular basis, though little is original material. I have also been hindered by frequent migraines, partly due to a lack of the rush of pleasure I get from completing an essay, no matter how inadequate. That daily boost helps stave migraines off.

But these attacks were chained to one another, the aftermath of the first attack contributing to the next, just like in the horrid days of my youth. Then last night I found what I think is the cause. I had noticed a strange smell of oil or tar on the area around my pillow. I even bought a new pillow in hopes that this repulsive odor would go away. Then last night I craned my head way over into the back and found that Thomas had lodged a tennis ball, reeking of neoprene or whatever it is, into the lower space behind the headboard. I squeezed it out and the smell was soon gone.

And, so far, no more migraines.

And the really good news is that at last, after the purchase of two computers, one used and one new, I have a set up in the living room where I can use my ancient (1988) writing program, Maxthink, which runs under DOS only. I am a slightly more modern version of the greying old writer with his beat up typewriter. I have used Maxthink, an "idea processor," for so long that I cannot imagine making a change. I had to leap through many hoops to be able to write this to you. At one point I had Maxthink running filtered at two removes, an emulator and a virtualizor. That did not prove adequate either, though I did learn a great deal about VmWare, a type of virtualization software, and the flavor of Ubuntu Linux that it ran for me. Finally I broke an old rule I had for myself -- never buy used computer hardware -- and forked out a hundred and thirty dollars for a refurbished small footprint desktop Compaq running XP Pro, which runs Maxthink almost natively. That is what I am writing on now.

But more problems cropped up.

With so many computers to deal with, things got impossibly complicated. What about weekends and holidays, when the living room is far too noisy and busy (we have five people living here under one roof) and I need to concentrate alone in tranquility? A writer, it has been said, must have "a room of one's own." I could put this Compaq in the garage or my bedroom for those hectic times, but then I would have to switch quickly among computers. The solution I came up with is to put my whole research database and writing system, including Maxthink, onto a flash drive. Then all I would have to do is take it out, put it into a pocket and walk over to another machine. The old "sneakernet" form of connectivity. All I would have to do is reassign the drive letter of the flash drive to "d" drive, which DOS and Maxthink imperiously demand. Unfortunately, that was way beyond my expertise, even way back when I could remember DOS commands like "assign." Fortunately, a few seconds pumping keywords into Google Search and I found a little step-by-step tutorial. After a few minutes I was reassigning drive letters like a madman. Two machines have flash drives as their "d" drive, and, with more fiddling, I hope to be able even to run it on the iMac again.

John Taylor



Replaying peace

Planet embracing music, and words about world peace

"A friend sent me this you tube video about 2 guys who went around the world getting street singers to sing and dubbed them together into one song." I had this on the Badi' Blog before but this is a better version.

At my daughter's request, another reprise.

The Coming of Peace "By what process" continued the questioner, "will this peace on earth be established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the Truth?" "No, it will come about gradually," said 'Abdu'l-Bahá. "A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time. You are my family" and he looked about with a smile, "my new children! if a family lives in unison, great results are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land."  (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 106)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Calling All Singers

JET: from what I hear, there is an especial need for male voices.

Voices of Unity is recruiting new members. 

The choir attracts members from around the Niagara, Hamilton, Burlington area.  VOU practises two Sundays per month at the Grimsby Pump House.  The choir sings a variety of musical styles and performs in retirement homes, for Holy Day celebrations and at community events. 

It is not necessary to be able to read music to participate.   If choral singing interests you as an avenue of service, please contact Colleen at for more details.

Colleen Smith

Voices of Unity.

Silvie, who is 14 years old, just saw this video about junior youth and says: "I liked the whole thing." She is an occasional member of the Hamilton Junior Youth group, run by Pat Cameron and Lucy Pearson.

This film was put out by the NSA of the US. I was reminded how the plans in the past decade started out with three main focuses, study circles, devotional meetings and children's classes, but that a fourth was tacked on, junior youth. This is the first good explanation of how the fourth prong of the fork is getting on.

Stork Catcher

Stork Catcher

Here is Silvie's illustration for an incident involving a stork trap, a bear trap set on the roof that a very young Bill Sears set in order to catch the stork. While doing so, the future Hand of the Cause of God fell and broke his ankle. This is told in the second chapter of God Loves Laughter.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the Park with Bill Sears

My thanks to the anonymous reader who pointed this gem out to me, broadcast in 1956, the year of my birth.

And here is something from his later career, a presentation called "arise."

Regional Baha'i Conference (Toronto)

This conference was held for eastern Canada and Bermuda. We learned that Bermuda was honored by the first use of the word "cluster," by none other than the Master Himself.

I had the pleasure of meeting old friend and Badi blog reader Ed, after almost thirty years. He is taking visual notes here.

More Badi' blog readers, Tim and Jim, and Tim's new bride, Tala.

Peter declaring his availability, presumably for fulfilling the goals of the Plan.

This woman from New Brunswick explained her success in reaching out to new immigrants.

Toronto's South York Baha's have been reaching Iranian immigrants with great success. This believer explained what does not work, long lectures, and what does, professionally recorded prayers followed by informal fellowship.

Below is a photo of a remarkable new Baha'i. She is a university student, though she looks and sounds like a junior youth herself. She had been heavily involved in charity work in Toronto before she came across the Baha'i junior youth program. This put her in a unique position where she could compare how the Baha'i program works to how non-Baha'i youth groups operate. Unlike them, the Baha'i junior youth were left completely to themselves, other than being brought into contact with the Creative Word. What they did with that so amazed her that she recently declared her faith in Baha'u'llah.

The Toronto Baha'i bookstore was full in the morning and all but empty at night. I made the mistake of setting aside some books to buy later when the huge crowds were lighter later on. But they were all gone when I got back. Now I have to wait.

Brian Graham at the Sunday breakout session where we consulted on how to get an accelerated program of growth in Niagara region. As you see on the people's faces, there was some headscratching going on.

The ever dapper Carson Knox regaled me with stories of his travels to China, Singapore and Malasia. I later told them to the kids, and they were amazed at the contrast between the laws of the latter two countries.

Contrast Carson's immaculate garb with my slovenly appearance. This is me in the hotel room just before checking out. Note the bottle of water, my almost-free migraine medication.

For another blogger's impressions of this meet, go to: