Sunday, November 26, 2006

Laws of An Algorithmic Constitution

The Three Laws of Humanotics; An Algorithmic Constitution

By John Taylor; 2006 November 26

"The starry heavens above me and the moral law within me, the two things that fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on." (Immanuel Kant, from the conclusion of the second Critique, inscribed on his tomb)

Weeks ago, a question slipped into my cranium and refused to leave. It never stops bothering me, buzzing like a trapped fly that never pauses to rest. The question came in a reverie late one night after reading my fill of Rousseau's Social Contract. I had begun wondering, what will happen as computers become super-intelligent? How will interconnected, super-fast thinking machines affect the way we humans govern ourselves? What will happen as robots begin walking among us, robots that are continually connected wirelessly to this intelligence? How will that affect what we are, what we aspire to do? This, Socrates taught, is the noblest of all questions,

"Of all inquiries, Callicles, the noblest is that which concerns ... what a man should be, and what he should practice, and to what extent, both when old and when young." (Plato, Gorgias, 488a)

The imminent birth of the super-intelligence -- I can only call it super-intelligence because it is neither artificial nor human, but each magnifying the other -- has to change the equation of what we should do, and what we should practice, whether young or old, as individuals and as groups. Surely there will emerge a common language, not a human language or a computer language, not mathematics, the language of nature, but some combination of all three, that will guide and direct the plans of this networked super-intelligence. What will it be? And this (the other questions are just leading up to this question, the fly in my cranium) is the big question that has been bugging me:

"Will there ever be a cosmopolitan constitution written not in words but as an algorithm?"

As noted here not long ago, mathematics describes static relations, and algorithms are better at dealing with dynamic relations. An algorithm is like a recipe, it is a set of procedures done one by one, each action following the one before.

By algorithmic I am not talking about a single program, but a program of programs, a language of languages, an interconnected, autonomous internet of thought, of no fixed size or dimension, a morphing entity operating in many minds and computers, one in use wherever people meet and consult, working all kinds of intelligence in concert to find and remember the best solution to every problem of governance.

Then this article from the New York Times shot through the pipes: "Entrepreneurs See a Web Guided by Common Sense," by John Markoff, November 12, 2006. As always, it was written for and from the point of view of the business sector, but the implications are much broader. The following passage from the article in particular jumped out at me:

"Underscoring the potential of mining human knowledge is an extraordinarily profitable example: the basic technology that made Google possible, known as Page Rank, systematically exploits human knowledge and decisions about what is significant to order search results. (It interprets a link from one page to another as a vote, but votes cast by pages considered popular are weighted more heavily.) One example that hints at the potential of such systems is KnowItAll, a project by a group of University of Washington faculty members and students that has been financed by Google. One sample system created using the technology is Opine, which is designed to extract and aggregate user-posted information from product and review sites."

This direction of research offers the prospect of a tremendous leap in human intelligence. In the near future every move we make, every choice, every glance, every micro-expression on our face, will be a vote duly noted and used by somebody, whether we know it or not. Scientists for over two decades have been studying chaos theory to understand how swarming behavior works, and how it can be exploited for benefit. Swarming takes place throughout nature; chaos exists even in simple systems, and swarming emerges from it. It is the old myth of Uranus emerging from chaos, played over and over again, wherever we look in nature and in human affairs. Swarming affects our buying choices in a store, our voting in an election, and even the clotting of our blood when wounded.

One day every question we ask, be it a whim, a passing query or a gadfly in the brain question like my computerized constitution question, will be registered and subtly change the interface between man and machine, and man and man. One project, dubbed Cyc, was designed two decades ago to amass commonsense in a huge encyclopedia of artificial intelligence. It too, although the focus of Cyc is now very different, is mentioned as cutting edge in the New York Times article.

"There is debate over whether systems like Cyc will be the driving force behind Web 3.0 or whether intelligence will emerge in a more organic fashion, from technologies that systematically extract meaning from the existing Web. Those in the latter camp say they see early examples in services like and Flickr, the bookmarking and photo-sharing systems acquired by Yahoo, and Digg, a news service that relies on aggregating the opinions of readers to find stories of interest."

The article describes how Google researchers have begun to figure out ways to tap the enormous unused work potential in adults' casual play. It seems that the time and mental resources that people lavish on the internet every day playing puzzles and other trivial pastimes is enough staff hours to rebuild the twin WTC towers from foundation to top, every single day.

So the question is, can making politics into a game or puzzle played by millions of people in their spare time, using feedback and forth to the internet super-intelligence, be the way to an algorithmic world constitution? Is this the primrose path to cosmopolitanism? If so, we must agree upon a prime directive, we must determine first things and put them first.

The reason that science fiction writers so often conjure up the nightmare of machines becoming smarter than us and then threatening to usurp human self-rule is that we feel, deep down, that we have no idea what is essential, what our prime directive should be. This is because, as a race, humanity has not addressed Socrates’ Most Noble Question, "What should we be, and what should we practice, and to what extent?" Failure to answer this question cogently and concisely means that we can never safely program an autonomous robot. It will always be subject, under some concatenation of circumstances, to inflicting harm on human beings. Isaac Asimov tried to answer this problem with his three laws of robotics, and the Will Smith movie "I Robot" offered an effective refutation of Asimov's formulation. The question remains, how can we enter into dialog with intelligent machines when we ourselves have no commonly agreed upon "three laws" of human moral agency?

Actually, maybe we do. We have the Golden Rule, a moral dictum that is truly cosmopolitan in the fourth of my dictionary's four definitions of the word: "found in most parts of the world and under varied ecological conditions, as, a cosmopolitan herb." The rule to do unto others as we would have them do unto us is found in every major religious tradition, and therefore it can be taken as the first cosmopolitan law of moral behavior, be it instantiated by human or artificial intelligence. It is unlikely to be refuted by a clever screenwriter, as Asimov's laws of robotics were.

The Golden Rule has stood on its own throughout the ages without need of revision. However it was "prepared" for use by the super-intelligence as two more laws of cosmopolitan algorithmic law by Immanuel Kant. His formulation has stood for over two centuries. This is how my Encyclopedia Brittannica sums up Kant's ethical philosophy:

"The essence of morals is the commandment not to perform any act that one would not want to become a precedent for all human action and always to consider an individual as an end in himself, not as the instrument of another's purpose."

These then would be the first three laws of humanity and robotics: one, the Golden Rule, to do unto others; two, to do nothing that will set a bad precedent if universalized; three, to avoid instrumentalizing, to treat each human always as an end in herself.

If the goal is unity in diversity, then all must be firm on clear essentials, something like these three laws, and at the same time very broadminded about non-essentials, what falls outside their purview. But most important, each and all must be very clear on and skilled at distinguishing between the two. Each human, computer and robot can work the three laws out in each particular situation, but the results, that is, the amount of unity in diversity in the broad picture, would be fed back into the super-intelligence for assessment and refinement of the algorithmic constitution.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Mathematics of Governance

Rousseau and the Mathematics of Governance

By John Taylor; 2006 November 24

I have boundless admiration for the genius, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his masterpiece, "The Social Contract." Here he seems to be grasping towards an automatic, almost a mathematical kind of governance. He actually proposes that the power of a prince be divided by the number of subjects in a strict ratio according to the latest census. The Prime Minister of Canada, for instance, would be one over thirty three million Canadians. In other words, his power is extremely diffuse compared with the number of subjects under him. At the same time, there is established what might be thought of as a spiritual force, or a magnetic field connecting them. This sounds ridiculous, but at the same time it has a spark of genius. As James Surowiecki's "Wisdom of Crowds" points out, there are ways of tapping into the extraordinary insight of many minds working together by simply averaging out their opinions, even if they are ostensibly blind guesses. Once we start learning how to do that, political science will become an applied science. Government and consultation will change completely.

Rousseau's insights, in my opinion, have not even begun to be followed up on. For one thing, he recognized a certain relativity among the various types of government, and among the organs of a single government.

"Throughout the ages men have debated the question, `What is the best form of government?', and yet they have failed to see that each of the possible forms is the best in some cases and the worst in others." (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, The Social Contract, Penguin Books, London, 1968, p. 111)

This requires some background. Traditionally only three possible kinds of human government are allowed, rule by one, rule by a few, or rule by many. This was established by Aristotle, and picked up for modern political thought by Montesquieu and Rousseau. Rule of one is called monarchy, rule of the few is aristocracy, and of many, democracy. Rousseau, following Montesquieu, is saying that each of these has advantages at certain times, in certain circumstances, according to the stage of development of a given people.

Reading this, I wondered about where the Commonwealth of Baha'u'llah fits in. Strictly speaking, the Baha'i administrative order itself is a kind of aristocracy, since the House of Justice is made up not of one or of all Baha'is, but of a few. They are a non-hereditary Aristos (meaning, "the best"), and their power is restricted to In Camera sessions; they are elected, and their term is limited to a five year term. This Aristos, like all real-world governments, combines the other two elements too. The broader mould of a Baha'i world order would fit monarchic and democratic elements in as well. We have faith that no good would be excluded from the commonwealth of Baha'u'llah. But still, according to the classical formulation, it is at core an aristocracy.

The problem facing human government is how to deal with transformation and progress. Peoples and communities change over time, often unpredictably; and the change, even in Rousseau's time, was accelerating. As he points out, a community learns virtue, or slips into vice, and nobody is served notice as to which direction they are heading. The best government for a people afflicted by one vice, or endowed with a certain virtue, will vary according to the degree of vice or the stage of virtue that they happen to be in. This followed the standard medical model of the time, where health was believed to be the result of a balance of certain "humours" within the body.

"... often the government that is best in itself will become the most pernicious, if the relations in which it stands have altered according to the defects of the body politic to which it belongs." (Ibid., p. 107)

According to Rousseau, in every nation there are three balancing elements, also based on the triune of the one, the few, and the many; first there is the executive (sometimes termed the prince), then the legislators, and last, the people. These connect by a strict "geometric progression," a mathematical relationship that adapts dynamically.

"... as there is only one mean proportional between each relation, there is also only one good government possible for a State. But, as countless events may change the relations of a people, not only may different governments be good for different peoples, but also for the same people at different times." (103)

Rousseau's model resembles a magnet that suddenly connects when its invisible field contacts visible iron filings. The three elements, the prince or sovereign who rules, the magistrates who give laws, and the people who obey, all balance. The sovereign does not rule himself, he as it were "channels" the collective power of the people. Similarly the parliament does not make laws for itself but for justice. Their balancing unity connects the power and will of the nation. The health of the state depends upon each conforming to its respective role.

"Furthermore, none of these three terms can be altered without the equality being instantly destroyed. If the Sovereign desires to govern, or the magistrate to give laws, or if the subjects refuse to obey, disorder takes the place of regularity, force and will no longer act together, and the State is dissolved and falls into despotism or anarchy." (103)

This is what Rousseau describes, anarchy and tyranny, the effects of failing to connect at a deep enough level. In spite of stronger, more sophisticated nationalistic, sovereign governments, despotism and anarchy have become the marks of our age.

Think of the monumental dithering and procrastination of governments in the face of the climate crisis. Never in history has there been anything like the daunting challenge facing political science today. It is a frightening prospect, millions of refugees flooding the high ground, increased hurricanes, massive starvation, all the while leaders of thought are choking people's minds with predudices, stirring up ancient ethnic and religious hatreds.

Kant had a great insight, inspired by Rousseau, when he used the word "cosmopolitan" to describe the level at which the ideal government for a given situation connects and brings all under it to life.

Cosmos comes from the Greek word "Kosmos," referring to the primeval state of things that predominated before there was order. According to Greek and Hittite legend, Gaea (earth) and Uranus (heaven) emerged from chaos and the ordered, understandable world as we know it began. Nothing could exist in chaos; it was confusion, death, the opposite of order. The cosmos is just the reverse, a universe that is orderly, harmonious and systematic. In English, a cosmos can refer to any complex, orderly, self-inclusive system. The latest cosmos to come into being is the World Wide Web. Every day the Web grows and becomes more complex, but its order and accessibility are not compromised. In fact, most have come to expect the latter to improve as well, and thanks to the power of supercomputers running search engines, so it has.

Combine cosmos with Polis, meaning "city," "government" or community," in Greek, and you get cosmopolitan. To say "cosmopolitan" is to say "world order" in one word. If there is to be unity in the world, one must begin in the belief that our universe is ordered. Both science and religion are based on this basic cosmopolitan perception. Science begins in strong faith that our world is ordered by law, that it is comprehensible and therefore subject to our influence. Religion holds that these laws were made intentionally by a good and loving God for our use and benefit.

But today both religion and science are failing to galvanize the magnetism we need to address our challenges. They are not cosmopolitan. A burdensome legacy of narrow loves and loyalties is threatening any active survival response that anybody, even the most starry-eyed dreamer, can imagine happening. Old faiths and patriotisms become a disease and prejudice blocks the magnetism we could get from a world embracing belief system, a universal body politic. They say that radical crises require radical solutions; here is how `Abdu'l-Baha put that saying:

"It requires a universal active force to overcome these differences. A small disease needs a small remedy, but a disease which pervades the whole body needs a very strong remedy. A small lamp may light a room, a larger would light a house, a larger still might shine through the city, but the sun is needed to light the whole world." (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 59)

The world is in darkness. It lacks the powerful light of one sun, and of wills turned to it. In the gloom we attempt to solve one problem and knock into others solving other problems. Sovereign nationalistic governments founder, and the ecosystem reflects that in global warming. A cosmopolitan form of governance, based upon a firm constitution, would reverse the trend. Our next essay, "An Algorithmic Constitution" will look into possible ways and means.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The True Melting Pot

The True Melting Pot

By John Taylor; 2006 November 23

Friends, here are some more selections from material I have collected on
the Master in America, especially around the time of the Mohonk Peace
Conference. I include two fairly well known personal recollections of
the conference, as well as the Master's talk not long afterwards at the
church of Howard Colby Ives, who soon after became a Baha'i. The talk
itself is in the collection of His talks, Promulgation of Universal
Peace, and is hardly obscure. But what you do not find very often is the
talk placed alongside the introduction to His talk given by Ives
himself. What a finish! Ives all but calls on his congregation to become
Baha'is! Later on, Zia Baghdadi casually remarked that that declaration
must have taken a lot of courage. No, Ives said, it is the truth, you do
not need courage to affirm what is right before you. Baghdadi went over
and whispered in the ear of the Master, who was talking to somebody
else. `Abdu'l-Baha turned and said, "Yes, it takes great courage."

Anecdote of the Master at the Mohonk Peace Conference, from Portals to
Freedom, 196-197

When He was at Lake Mohonk, where He spoke to the members of the
Inter-National Peace Conference, 'Abdu'l-Baha was walking with a group
of the friends one morning when they came upon a party of young people.
After a few words of greeting He said: that He would tell them an
oriental story: Once the rats and mice held an important conference the
subject of which was how to make peace with the cat. After a long and
heated discussion it was decided that the best thing to do would be to
tie a bell around the neck of the cat so that the rats and mice would be
warned of his movements and have time to get out of his way.

This seemed an excellent plan until the question arose as to who should
undertake the dangerous job of belling the cat. None of the rats liked
the idea and the mice thought they were altogether too weak. So the
conference broke up in confusion. Everyone laughed, 'Abdu'l-Baha with
them. After a short pause He added that that is much like these Peace
Conferences. Many words, but no one is likely to approach the question
of who will bell the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, the
President of France and the Emperor of Japan.

Faces were now more grave. 'Abdu'l-Baha laughed again: There is a Divine
Club, He said, which shall break their power in pieces. In the light of
world events during the twenty-five years since 'Abdu'l-Baha told that
story to a youthful, happy group fresh from listening to the eloquent
appeals for world peace voiced by well-meaning but impotent ones; the
distractedly weak discussing how to bell the war-cat. His keen
penetration into the very heart of the difficulty, and His laughing
summing up of the situation in a little ancient fable, the
characteristic of which I spoke is demonstrated but only to a slight
degree. Two years later the world war broke. Some of those very
youngsters who laughed with Him so lightheartedly doubtless left their
bodies in Flanders; the German war-lord fled his empire, his dreams
become a nightmare; the torrent flooding the world carried thrones to
ruin like disintegrating dwellings in a spring freshet. The Divine Club,

Zia Baghdadi's recollections of the Mohonk Peace Conference

From: Star of the West, Vol. 19, pp. 180-182

On May 14, 1912, the International Peace Society held its Conference at
Lake Mohonk, N. Y. and was invited to address the members. Here He
remained three days.

After delivering His address, He said to the interpreters, "Once I wrote
to the friends in Persia in regard to peace congresses and conferences,
that if the members of the conferences for peace do not succeed in
practicing what they say, they may be compared to those who hold a
meeting to discuss and form firm resolutions about the sinfulness and
harmfulness of liquors. But after leaving the meeting, they occupy
themselves in selling liquors, and just as before they become engaged in
their business. Now we must not only think and talk peace but we must
develop the power to practice peace, so that like unto the spirit in the
body of the world, peace may permeate the whole world."

The members and speakers who attended this conference were from all
parts of the world, most of them did well in presenting their papers.
But one of the speakers was very much excited, he kept pounding and
hammering the table with his fists, kicking the chair with his feet,
shouting and screaming at the top of his voice.

Later, 'Abdu'l-Baha remarked, "There are times when a speaker should
raise his voice in order to emphasize his point. There are times when he
should speak low, and at times he should smile. Gestures must harmonize
with the character of words."

On the following day, May 15, 1912 'Abdu'l-Baha went out to take a walk
and a crowd of young men and girls followed Him. On reaching a large
tree, the blossoms of which were in full bloom, he stopped and faced the
crowd with His wonderful smile. It was a real spring afternoon. The sky
was clear and the sun flooding the green hills with its warm rays.
Everything was quiet except for the melodies of song birds and the
gentle breeze that whispered to the leaves.

Then suddenly the silence was broken by 'Abdu'l-Baha Who undoubtedly
knew the youthful crowd was anxious to hear Him tell an amusing story.
He did tell them a peculiarly significant story, which fixed clearly in
their minds the importance of deeds.

And then He said, "It is very easy to come here, camp near this
beautiful lake, on these charming hills, far away from everybody and
deliver speeches on Universal Peace. These ideals should be spread and
put in action over there, (Europe) not here in the world's most peaceful

On the following evening, May 16, 1912, about nine o'clock, 'Abdu'l-Baha
said, "We have to leave this place tomorrow and I wish that I might have
one of my Persian rugs here, that I might give it as a present to our
host, Mr. Smiley, President of the International Peace Society." Those
who were in His company told Him that it would be impossible for anyone
to go to New York and return in one night, as all have to leave about
ten o'clock in the morning. Then He looked at this servant and asked,
"Well, what do you say?" I said, "I am not afraid to try anything for
you, my Lord." He handed me His key and said, "Take this and go to my
room and bring a rug. May God bless you."

From Lake Mohonk I hired a carriage to take me to the railroad station.

To my disappointment, I learned on arriving there that there was no
passenger train at that hour for New York, but a freight train was just
leaving. I jumped the tracks and made a wild dash as fast as I could
run. Finally I caught the rear end of that speeding train and succeeded
in climbing up without mishap. Then while I was trying to catch my
breath, the conductor came and protested my action and ordered me to get
off at the next station. I showed him my professional card and told him
that I was going on a very urgent mission. "0 you are a doctor! That is
all right." Fortunately, the kind conductor did not ask what the nature
of the urgent call was.

About two o'clock in the morning I reached 'Abdu'l-Baha's apartment and
had to awaken Mrs. Grace Ober and her sister, Miss Ella Roberts, to let
me in. They were very kind and asked me to have something to eat and to
rest a while, but I thanked them and told them that I was in a great
hurry. Then I selected one of the most precious rugs from 'Abdul-Baha's
room and hastened to the railroad station. I took the first early
morning train. It was about nine o'clock when I landed at Lake Mohonk
station. From the station it would take one hour to reach Lake Mohonk by
carriage, and I had to be there at ten o'clock. I looked around and
there was no vehicle of any kind in sight. But finally, the mail carrier
appeared with his little wagon and got off at once to receive the mail.
I got on the little wagon and awaited his return.

When he came and saw me, well! was I nervous? It was certainly one of
the embarrassing moments of my life. However, I explained my position to
him, namely, that I was in the service of 'Abdu'l-Baha, whom we regarded
as our spiritual king, and I showed him the rug that had to be delivered
right away to Mr. Smiley, President of the International Peace Society.

Then as a last resort, I suggested that in case it was against the law
to let me go with him, he could at least let me relieve him that morning
because I knew how to drive a horse, and if it was necessary, he might
consult with the post office or the police.

O what a relief came when he said, "It's alright I guess, I am going up
there anyway."

We arrived at our destiny just at the time when 'Abdu'l-Baha was shaking
hands with Mr. Smiley and preparing to leave. He took the rug with a
smile and presented it to Mr. Smiley to keep as a souvenir.

"Why this is just what I have been seeking for many years Mr. Smiley
exclaimed. "You see we had a Persian rug just like this one, but it was
burned in a fire and ever since my wife has been broken hearted over it.
This will surely make her very happy."

Afterward the Secretary of the International Peace Society, who was the
last one to leave, came and said to Abdu'l-Baha, "We all appreciate your
blessed visit and we believe what you said is the truth. But we are
sorry we cannot include religion in our organization. Our members are
composed of all kinds of religions and sects the Protestant, Catholic,
Jew, etc; naturally everyone prefers his own belief and will protest if
any religion besides his own is favored."

To this Abdu'l-Baha said, "Your members may be compared to beams of
different metals and you are trying to unite them as you would tie these
fingers together with a string." Here 'Abdu'l-Baha brought His own five
fingers close together to illustrate His point. "See, no matter how you
tie them, still they shall remain separate. But the only way to make
these metals into one alloy, is to put them into a crucible and apply
intense heat to melt them all. For our melting pot, we use the fire of
the love of God."

Address by `Abdu'l-Baha at Brotherhood Church (REV. HOWARD COLBY IVES,


Stenographic Notes by Miss Esther Foster.

Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 9, p. 5


Reading from Hidden Words.

MY FRIENDS, this is a most wonderful age -- the most wonderful age in
human history. This is the age of which poets have dreamed and prophets
have spoken since the dawn of time. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Do
you realize how short a time ago it is that such a scene as this would
be absolutely impossible? Do you realize that now, this is the first
decade, I might say, certainly the first quarter of a century when not
only free speech is heard from the pulpit, but in every pulpit in the
land it is possible to welcome people of other sects, nay of other
creeds, nay of other nations? The Scotch Covenanter, Richard Cameron,
not so many years ago, on the last Sunday before his death, preached
from his pulpit that he hoped that blood and fire could be used against
the Church of Rome; that he would be in favor of war against all
Catholicism, and he hoped it would break out in Scotland first.

Now we have with us tonight a representative of the Orient, a part of
the country almost within gunshot of Nazareth, a man who comes to us
with a great and wonderful message. He hardly set foot within this
country before he was asked by Percy Stickney Grant Pastor of the Church
of the Ascension, to occupy his pulpit on the next Sunday morning. Percy
Stickney Grant, one of God's heroes, exposed himself to criticism and no
slight annoyance to express publicly his belief in true religion. And
since then, where has this brother of ours been? I would almost say
everywhere. He has been asked to speak to the most diverse people. He
has gone from Columbia University to the Bowery Mission. He has gone
from the African Church to speak at a meeting of the New Thought
Society. Wherever he has gone he has brought the great leveler of the
Spirit of God. He has in truth come here to teach us the lesson of
humanity, and I pray God with all my heart that this night may be to us
-- this Brotherhood Church -- a wonderful blessing; that we may get his
Spirit, the Spirit of Self-sacrifice.

You know something of his life probably, but let me tell you as I may
briefly, that he has spent over forty years in prison for this Truth.
His Father died in prison, a Great Teacher of the human race. He comes
out of this prison and steps into the great societies of Paris, London
and America. He finds the world open to receive him. He comes with
nothing to back him. He has no great letters of credit he has no great
introductions; he does not even speak our language. Ah, but he speaks
the language of the heart and the heart understands!

I hope I may be allowed to make one personal allusion, which may be
pardoned if it is not exactly what our brother here would wish: There
have come to this country vast numbers of so-called prophets, -- people
who came with a newism -- something a little different with the twang of
the Orient about it, and flocks of people go to them and pour out their
money and enthusiasm. These Orientals line their pockets with our money
and go away. This is an insult to humanity.

Lest you may think it is possible to believe such a thing of
Abdu'l-Baha, let me tell you that his friends here provided a beautiful
apartment for him in the Ansonia. They wanted to express their love and
veneration in the only way they could by providing a comfortable place
in which he could meet the many friends and be comfortable. He accepted
it with thanks, but paid for it all himself. Never since he has been in
this country has he accepted one cent from anybody. On the contrary, the
generosity of this noble soul is beyond any comparison. The first Sunday
he spoke in Grant's church, the contribution was passed, and he made his
offering. When he was asked to speak to the Bowery Mission, he went
there with a big bag of one thousand francs changed into twenty-five
cent pieces of our money, and stood at the door giving them to those
poor ragged brothers of ours.

My friends, the Kingdom of God is at hand, and I call upon you to
recognize it! I call upon you to spread the news on every side! No
longer is there room in God's world for sect or creed. He knows no sect.
There is no creed or sect in God's sight.

AB's Talk at Brotherhood Church

19 May 1912 6

Bergen and Fairview Avenues, Jersey City, New Jersey

Notes by Esther Foster

from Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 129

Because this is called the Church of Brotherhood, I wish to speak upon
the brotherhood of mankind. There is perfect brotherhood underlying
humanity, for all are servants of one God and belong to one family under
the protection of divine providence. The bond of fraternity exists in
humanity because all are intelligent beings created in the realm of
evolutionary growth. There is brotherhood potential in humanity because
all inhabit this earthly globe under the one canopy of heaven. There is
brotherhood natal in mankind because all are elements of one human
society subject to the necessity of agreement and cooperation. There is
brotherhood intended in humanity because all are waves of one sea,
leaves and fruit of one tree. This is physical fellowship which ensures
material happiness in the human world. The stronger it becomes, the more
will mankind advance and the circle of materiality be enlarged.

The real brotherhood is spiritual, for physical brotherhood is subject
to separation. The wars of the outer world of existence separate
humankind, but in the eternal world of spiritual brotherhood separation
is unknown. Material or physical association is based upon earthly
interests, but divine fellowship owes its existence to the breaths of
the Holy Spirit. Spiritual brotherhood may be likened to the light,
while the souls of humankind are as lanterns. The incandescent lamps
here are many, yet the light is one.

At a time in the Orient when even physical brotherhood was not in
existence Baha'u'llah appeared. At first He set forth the principles of
physical brotherhood and afterward founded the spiritual brotherhood. He
breathed such a spirit into the countries of the Orient that various
peoples and warring tribes were blended in unity. Their bestowals and
susceptibilities became one, their purposes one purpose, their desires
one desire to such a degree that they sacrificed themselves for each
other, forfeiting name, possessions and comfort. Their fellowship became
indissoluble. This is eternal, spiritual fellowship, heavenly and divine
brotherhood, which defies dissolution. Material civilization advances
through the physical association of mankind. The progress you observe in
the outer world is founded mainly upon the fraternity of material
interests. Were it not for this physical and mental association,
civilization would not have progressed. Now -- praise be to God! -- the
indissoluble spiritual association is evident; therefore, it is certain
that divine civilization has been founded, and the world will progress
and advance spiritually. In this radiant century divine knowledge,
merciful attributes and spiritual virtues will attain the highest degree
of advancement. The traces have become manifest in Persia. Souls have
advanced to such a degree as to forfeit life and possessions for each
other. Their spiritual perceptions have developed; their intelligence
has quickened; their souls are awakened. The utmost love has been
manifested. Therefore, it is my hope that spiritual fraternity shall
unite the East and the West and bring about the complete abolition of
warfare among mankind. May it bind together individuals and members of
the human family and be the cause of advancing minds, illuminating
hearts and allowing divine bestowals to encompass us from all
directions. May spiritual susceptibilities set hearts aglow with the
message of glad tidings. May spiritual brotherhood cause rebirth and
regeneration, for its creative quickening emanates from the breaths of
the Holy Spirit and is founded by the power of God. Surely that which is
founded through the divine power of the Holy Spirit is permanent in its
potency and lasting in its effect.

Material brotherhood does not prevent nor remove warfare; it does not
dispel differences among mankind. But spiritual alliance destroys the
very foundation of war, effaces differences entirely, promulgates the
oneness of humanity, revivifies mankind, causes hearts to turn to the
Kingdom of God and baptizes souls with the Holy Spirit. Through this
divine brotherhood the material world will become resplendent with the
lights of Divinity, the mirror of materiality will acquire its lights
from heaven, and justice will be established in the world so that no
trace of darkness, hatred and enmity shall be visible. Humanity shall
come within the bounds of security, the Prophethood of all the
Messengers of God shall be established, Zion shall leap and dance,
Jerusalem shall rejoice, the Mosaic flame shall ignite, the Messianic
light shall shine, the world will become another world, and humanity
shall put on another power. This is the greatest divine bestowal; this
is the effulgence of the Kingdom of God; this is the day of
illumination; this is the merciful century. We must appreciate these
things and strive in order that the utmost desire of the Prophets may
now be realized and all the glad tidings be fulfilled. Trust in the
favor of God. Look not at your own capacities, for the divine bestowal
can transform a drop into an ocean; it can make a tiny seed a lofty
tree. Verily, divine bestowals are like the sea, and we are the fishes
of that sea. The fishes must not look at themselves; they must behold
the ocean, which is vast and wonderful. Provision for the sustenance of
all is in this ocean; therefore, the divine bounties encompass all, and
love eternal shines upon all.

The question has been asked: Will the spiritual progress of the world
equal and keep pace with material progress in the future? In a living
organism the full measure of its development is not known or realized at
the time of its inception or birth. Development and progression imply
gradual stages or degrees. For example, spiritual advancement may be
likened to the light of the early dawn. Although this dawn light is dim
and pale, a wise man who views the march of the sunrise at its very
beginning can foretell the ascendancy of the sun in its full glory and
effulgence. He knows for a certainty that it is the beginning of its
manifestation and that later it will assume great power and potency.
Again, for example, if he takes a seed and observes that it is
sprouting, he will know assuredly that it will ultimately become a tree.
Now is the beginning of the manifestation of the spiritual power, and
inevitably the potency of its life forces will assume greater and
greater proportions. Therefore, this twentieth century is the dawn, or
beginning, of spiritual illumination, and it is evident that day by day
it will advance. It will reach such a degree that spiritual effulgences
will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will
overpower material intelligence and the heavenly light dispel and banish
earthly darkness. Divine healing shall purify all ills, and the cloud of
mercy will pour down its rain. The Sun of Reality will shine, and all
the earth shall put on its beautiful green carpet.

Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that
the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of
God will become manifest throughout human affairs, and human equality
will be universally established. The poor will receive a great bestowal,
and the rich attain eternal happiness. For although at the present time
the rich enjoy the greatest luxury and comfort, they are nevertheless
deprived of eternal happiness; for eternal happiness is contingent upon
giving, and the poor are everywhere in the state of abject need. Through
the manifestation of God's great equity the poor of the world will be
rewarded and assisted fully, and there will be a readjustment in the
economic conditions of mankind so that in the future there will not be
the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the
privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing
to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to
accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor
will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy
his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.

The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in
human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and
enjoyment in life. It is not meant that all will be equal, for
inequality in degree and capacity is a property of nature. Necessarily
there will be rich people and also those who will be in want of their
livelihood, but in the aggregate community there will be equalization
and readjustment of values and interests. In the future there will be no
very rich nor extremely poor. There will be an equilibrium of interests,
and a condition will be established which will make both rich and poor
comfortable and content. This will be an eternal and blessed outcome of
the glorious twentieth century which will be realized universally. The
significance of it is that the glad tidings of great joy revealed in the
promises of the Holy Books will be fulfilled. Await ye this consummation.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

First Cosmopolitan

The First Cosmopolitan Thesis (Part Two of a Series)

By John Taylor; 2006 November 22

Kant begins his outline of a proposed new, holistic history of the
entire human race, what he calls the "Cosmopolitan Idea," with a
discussion of our common purpose in nature. This he terms the
"teleological theory of nature." Here is his keynote presupposition for
the first thesis:

"All natural capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely
to their natural end." (pp. 250-251)

He then says that if you look at any animal, this will be immediately
evident. A beast's muzzle and nose have their uses, which include
allowing it to smell and breathe. If the nose had no use, it would be
strange. What is our role and purpose as humans? This is the big
question. We have to believe that we have some coherent goal. As Kant
says, if we did not it would contradict the entire purposeful or
teleological theory of nature. If we give this up, there would be dire

"If we give up this fundamental principle, we no longer have a lawful
but an aimless course of nature, and blind chance takes the place of the
guiding thread of reason."

Since Kant wrote this our knowledge about the intermingling of multiple
purposes of organs within organisms has exploded. We now know that every
cell in the body unfolds according to the plans and purposes of a
unitary genetic code designed to ensure the adaptation and survival of
the species. We have cracked the human genome, and now brain researchers
have progressed to the point where they are talking about cracking the
"neuron code," the intricate machineries of hardware and software that
interact among the billions of neurons and synapses in our brain.

Nature is highly advanced in this teleology. Structure follows purpose
and purpose follows structure in a dance of unity in diversity, all
contributing to survival for both organisms and ecosystems.
Unfortunately, as humans our conscious grasp of our purpose, our
teleology in nature and the universe, has so far shown itself
inadequate, tenuous and sporadic. The result in the political sphere is
the phenomenon of revolutionary conflict. Change leaps forward and
immediately falls back to worse than it was before. In modern scientific
terminology, this is called a non-linear system. A reasoned order is
linear, rational, and comprehensible. If we ever did grasp our purpose
fully we would construct our world according to linear reason. The
consequences of teleology would be peace and world order.

The present revolutionary order (we are still in it) would be supplanted
by what Kant later in this Cosmopolitan History calls a "league of
nations." Earlier thinkers in the realm now called peace studies, he
notes, have scoffed at the idea of a league of nations, but he sees it
as an unavoidable result of the full use of purpose and reason.

"Nature forces them to make at first inadequate and tentative attempts;
finally, after devastations, revolutions, and even complete exhaustion,
she brings them to that which reason could have told them at the
beginning and with far less sad experience, to wit, to step from the
lawless condition of savages into a league of nations. In a league of
nations, even the smallest state could expect security and justice, not
from its own power and by its own decrees, but only from this great
league of nations (Foedus Amphictyonum), from a united power acting
according to decisions reached under the laws of their united will.
However fantastical this idea may seem -- and it was laughed at as
fantastical by the Abbi de St. Pierre and by Rousseau, perhaps because
they believed it was too near to realization -- the necessary outcome of
the destitution to which each man is brought by his fellows is to force
the states to the same decision (hard though it be for them) that savage
man also was reluctantly forced to take, namely, to give up their
brutish freedom and to seek quiet and security under a lawful
constitution." (256)

As Kant has said in the headpiece to this first thesis, all of this is
the natural outcome of our design. Our design follows our purpose and
role in the natural order. Hence it is our destiny. "All natural
capacities of a creature are destined to evolve completely to their
natural end." (pp. 250-251) This statement of faith is at the heart of
what every world citizen stands for. It has tremendous consequences.

It should jump out at us that Kant is beginning to sketch here in this
first idea of cosmopolitanism our first Baha'i principle, the
independent investigation of reality. At the heart of this principle is
a profound conviction that search is our reason for being. It is why we
were created. It informed our structure. It is why God gave us this body
its oversized brain.

God surely could have created us without reason, or with partial reason,
and let us work things out according to the laws of biology and ecology.
Our psychology, morality and politics all would be subject to the checks
and balances of nature, where blind growth is lopped off sporadically by
predation, disease and territorial struggle. This would be what Kant
calls the "revolutionary order." We would have no choice, no freedom in
reason, only what he calls in the next thesis "brute freedom." War would
be the way of the world, forever, until our reason enabled us to destroy
one another. Instead, God gave us holistic reason for a purpose. His
gifts of will and reason have a teleological purpose, to grasp His
unity. Baha'u'llah says,

"Religious principles have various degrees and stations. The root of all
principles and the cornerstone of all foundations hath ever been, and
shall remain, the recognition of God." (Tabernacle, 2.15)

This is the principle of purpose phrased in religious language, but
Baha'u'llah insists that the principle of purpose is not complete
without an action phase. This is the principle phrased in scientific
language, and is basically the same thing. The "first utterance" of the
All-Merciful is, "Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye
live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and
requirements." (Tabernacle, 2.7)

Once we attain this divine and scientific appreciation our reason for
being raises our station. Our very nature changes. We reflect what
appertains unto Oneness, qualities like love, kindness and knowledge.
Our order becomes reasoned and linear; human affairs cease to be
explosively non-linear, revolutionary. We are then ready to form a
league of nations, and eventually found a world civilization.

The nature of reason is to follow theory with action, in other words, to
plan. Anything but a plan is non-linear, explosive, counterproductive.
Let us envision a plan starting in 2010 with a year devoted to carrying
out Kant's principle of human destiny.

Year One, 2010, The Year of Enlightenment, or Release from Tutelage

This year would be devoted to investigating reality. It would be devoted
to devising a common language of purpose and search. To rephrase the
first thesis of the Cosmopolitan History:

"Our natural capacities as human beings are destined to evolve
completely to our natural end."

Our natural end, as we have seen, is to recognize God and to address the
urgent needs of the human race. These two must be done at the same time,
each bolstering the other, without one ever interfering with the other.
It is a unitary process. A Greek philosopher said: "To do more than one
thing is to do nothing." To investigate God without investigating the
urgent survival needs of the human race and the planet at the same time
would be to nullify both. To do this one thing will fulfill our destiny.

This year would initiate what I am calling Web 4.0, the broadening,
formalizing, and universalization of the Socrates Cafe movement as the
tool for rooting the teleological theory of our nature in the minds of
all. Meetings would be held everywhere, on the net and in person, among
the most diverse groups possible, in order to investigate our purpose
for being and acting. The patron saint for this year is Socrates,
founder of the cosmopolitan world order.

Tomorrow we will go on to the second thesis, and the second year of the

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Neighborhood Anti-Depressant

Neighborhood Design as Anti-Depressant

By John Taylor; 2006 November 19

A reader responds to the recent "Consultative Self-Defense" essay:

"This is one of your better essays - practical, full of guidance backed by the Writings. This should be shared by a far larger readership. Perhaps Baha'i Canada?"

Thank you kindly. Please do not speak too loud when you imply that some essays are better than others. They are all my mind children and I love each of them equally, dearly, truly. Some, like the essay you mention, give a warm glow that lasts through the rest of the day. Some, like my little eulogy for Barbara, make me cry as I write them and when I hear them (at least I did when it was read out at end of the funeral yesterday). Others, problem children, also give a lasting, day-long feeling, though then it is closer to a horrid frisson reminiscent of the screechy violins that you hear in the Hitchcock film, "Psycho." But these more regrettable efforts, these indiscretions that will surely come back and bite me on the nose someday, even these give me a feeling that this, horrid as it may be, was the best I could do with what was given me that day. In that sense they are all little prayers. Stunted, ugly round little bupki left behind by Twitchy that they may be, but in their own way they are each acts of devotion, little non-drug anti-depressants that keep me sane and on an even keel.

Whether the audience is big or small has nothing to do with it. In fact I like it small; as long as it is at least one person who reads it, I am happy. Unfortunately, Blogspot, the host of the Badi' blog, is owned by Google, which means that my old essays are turning up with increasing frequency on that search engine when people use certain keywords. Yesterday I got a response from a Muslim who begged to differ with an interpretation of the Qu'ran that I offered in the middle of some essay I wrote two or three years ago. His ideas were offered politely and in fact were quite interesting, but how long will it be before some less than nice elements of the Muslim world pick up on some of my less than favorable comments about the persecutors of Baha'is in Iran? It is bound to happen. Look at what happened when Sinclair Lewis ran for office ... his opponents went over his books with a fine toothed comb and picked out several juicy passages to use against him. He lost the election. Now you do not even have to be a famous, published writer for such unpleasantness to happen, nor do the opponents have to make the effort of reading your whole opus, thanks to the magic of search engines. And as I say, I may have written some good stuff from time to time, but it will no doubt be the indiscretions, the bupki, by which I will be judged. In the eyes of God I have faith that the good will outweigh the bad as on some invisible scales, but here, in this world, it takes one wrong word to nail me to the wall, or, worse and more likely, to nail our helpless brethren in Iran. May God protect us all.

One reason I risk the bad things that can be picked out of my research is because I can see great good potentially coming out of it too. The ideas I have dredged up from many places about travel and housing could one day have a tremendous effect on daily life. Consider this quote I cited yesterday from the book on psychiatry that I just read,

"The heavy reliance on "taking pills" to solve psychiatric problems needs to be continuously questioned. Both the medical profession and the general public must realize that drugs alone are not answers and that changes in life-styles -- combined with personal responsibilities -- are the keys to mental health." (Introducing Psychiatry, Nigel Benson and Piero, Icon Books, Cambridge, 2004, p. 169)

For me, I do not need to pop a pill, I just write an essay. Sure, it takes a few hours longer, but the effect is more certain and lasting. One thing here I would dispute, though. The solution is not just personal responsibility; it is collective, group responsibility too. The only way for everybody to be sane as individuals is to have a sane, healthy body politic.

What is more, the most recent scientific discoveries coming in over past weeks back what Benson says about the urgent need to avoid drugs. We must stop popping pills, now. For one thing, it is disastrous from an ecological point of view. The latest findings are truly hair-raising. It seems that Prozac, the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant, is getting into the streams and rivers of North America and is wiping out fresh water mussels, oysters and other crustaceans. Several species are already extinct. These creatures are what is known as a keystone species, for they in turn clean these waters of impurities. Without them, other life cannot be supported. Soon our water systems will be nothing better than an open sewer.

I know, you read that depressing news and the first thing you will do is reach into your medicine cabinet and take out the Prozac. Please, think again. Let us all think hard about how we can find joy elsewhere, without introducing unknown, untested chemicals into God's beautiful, sensitive ecosystem. The means of happiness are known, we just have to collect them together and implement them. That is just what my Instauration Manifesto is designed to implement.

One recent discovery has made me redesign my Instauration mound housing developments from the ground up. Since fortunately these structures exist only in my mind, this total renovation has been cheap and easy to do. The finding is that our immune system is supercharged by the vitamin D that our bodies make by the direct exposure of skin to sunlight. For example, one shrink happened to be running a ward in a mental hospital where, for other reasons, he was treating them with a course of Vitamin D. A flu epidemic hit and his patients were the only ward in the whole institution that did not get sick. Previous research has proven that exercise and maximal sunlight exposure also help against depression.

Before he retired from golf my father was a living demonstration of this. In the summer he was healthy and happy but as soon as it got too cold for golf, he got fat, forgetful, became weak, sickly, depressed and everything that was Sid Taylor set into decline. He especially missed the competition of the weekly golf tournament. Without it, he started to think only about his body and its every ache and pain. This was an annual pattern until, when he stopped golfing completely two years ago, the decline in general health and especially the depression accelerated. Now he is having frequent panic attacks and, yes, the doctors have put him onto anti-depressants. I am convinced that his body and the ecosystem would have been saved exposure to these foreign chemicals if there were some way for people like him to expose their skin daily to direct sunlight year round.

Bad as it gets for white people like us, the need for sunlight of people of color in northern climes is even more urgent. So this is a race and diversity issue, too. As well, it will surely become a gender and religious hot button. Think of the covered-over Muslim women of the world. It is now known that their bodies need exposure to the light, not for minutes but for hours each day. Statistical studies will probably find that they are paying a high price for modesty. Changes will have to be made, therefore, in our very definition of the virtue of modesty. Modesty is an attitude, a stance to God, it is not necessarily blocking out every inch of skin from exposure to light. In fact, as the parable of the talents teaches, it is sinful to cover over a gift of God. Sin sinks in and poisons the body, and word we have for the corruptive symptoms is "depression." I know I will regret saying this someday, but it is true.

Most improvements, I am convinced, must be done to the design of our built environment. How do we make an environment that enables full exposure to direct sunlight for so long? How can those who are too bashful to expose skin in public, do so in private? This problem has been bugging me over the past few weeks.

My proposed mound developments, you will recall, have a long southerly, sunward face that is glassed over and devoted to greenhouses, parks and gardens. The exposed street is on the north face, with living areas looking over the street. As it is, this does not give enough direct sunlight to the dwellers to maintain their mental health. Perhaps moveable reflectors could be built at the top to reflect light down and into the open balconies of the north facing apartments, especially in the morning during breakfast and in the evening during meal preparation and suppertime. In the middle of the day, when most people are in offices and places of business, the mirrors would shift there. On weekends and holidays, people could frequent the parks and gardens of the sunward face, at which time the mirrors would shine the light on solar collector panels.

Failing such comprehensive design change, we can in the meantime try to remember to open the curtains, take off the long sleeved shirts, and go on walks as often as we can in skimpy clothing. Of course when it gets too cold, we should bear in mind that pneumonia kills quicker than depression. Do it to save the mussels, if not for yourself.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Consultative Psychiatry

Consultative Psychiatry

By John Taylor; 2006 November 18

I just finished reading "Introducing Psychiatry," (Nigel Benson and Piero, Cambridge, 2004) which fills in and modernizes what I already knew about headshrinking. Not only do the mentally ill suffer from horrible stigma, the mental health profession itself suffered tremendous criticism in the latter half of the 20th Century. To my surprise, psychiatrists have actually taken much of it to heart. There is talk of "open psychiatry," where the information in medical records will not be kept secret, where the arbitrary judgment of one examiner will not hang over peoples' lives, unread and unchallenged. Plus, there are second thoughts about head shrinks as pill pushers. Benson writes,

"The heavy reliance on "taking pills" to solve psychiatric problems needs to be continuously questioned. Both the medical profession and the general public must realize that drugs alone are not answers and that changes in life-styles -- combined with personal responsibilities -- are the keys to mental health." (p. 169)

The working model of the shrink has been too authoritarian and, like the rest of medicine, too passive. The tendency is to wait for disease to worsen, then treat it. Instead, now there is talk of "proactive psychiatry,"

"Perhaps psychiatry as a profession could ... do more preventative work, rather than just being there after personal crises have occurred. Educational programmes could be developed to help the general public become more aware of psychological dangers, for instance, by recognizing symptoms of excessive stress in themselves and others. Employers could be far more involved in work-place stress reduction and stress-management -- which would actually be of benefit to their organization as well as to individual employees."

This is followed, as in every page of an "Introducing" book, by an illustration:

Boss, standing over worker at sewing machine: "I understand that your child is ill, so you cannot concentrate on your work today. I suggest you go home early..."

Worker, perplexed: "Boss, are you feeling OK?" (p. 172)

The author says that in relative terms psychiatry is a shrinking profession and that it is in danger of dying out in a few decades. Many, he recognizes, would say that this is a good thing. But the author is probably right that people in crisis will always need a trained mind-examiner to help them out. Myself, I would like to see new professions arise to take over most of what is now done by shrinks. There should be more consulting philosophers available to confer with, since rarely are stresses exclusively mental, at least not in the early stages. They are as often as not existential and spiritual. There should be more helping professions, like the Chinese-inspired "neighborhood helper" that I have suggested for every locale in past essays. Plus, perhaps most important, there needs to be more prayer and reflection going on, intermixed into our daily lives. A Mashriq at the center of town will no doubt act as a giant, "silent psychiatrist" as people seek its shelter to pray and worship and get their heads straight every morning before going to work.

Another help will be cradle-to-grave training in good consultation skills. I am sure that our constant misuse and abuse of consultation not only leads to more violence, it also is a forgotten cause of many, if not most, mental illnesses. As the saying goes, a stitch in time saves nine, and no doubt we could all be better friends and do one another great good if we knew how, using consultation, to lovingly discover problems and cure them at exactly the right moment, before they can grow into mental health crises.

At the end of this essay, I am including the complete text of one section of a memorandum from Haifa, dated 7 February 1993, called "Issues Concerning Community Functioning." It addresses the very interesting distinction between normal Baha'i consultation, whose goal is to search for truth, and its use as therapy, where the object is to cure. When we are consulting for cure, truth takes second place to the needs of that person at that particular time in their lives. It takes skill to steer such conversations away from confession and gossip while still addressing the problem that person has -- and in my experience people are almost always troubled by people, not theoretical problems or intellectual quandaries.

This week I came across a memorandum taped on a table in our local St. Vincent de Paul store (the place is open but empty of workers there for half the day; buyers are left on the honor system to pay for items there at a neighboring store). It admonished volunteers not to engage in backbiting, especially in front of customers. It declared that such talk sets back the good name of the Christian message their institution is designed to uphold. This made me wonder how many of our mental problems come from backbiting; certainly Baha'u'llah's image of a fire that lasts a century, and His harsh threat in the Hidden Words that the backbiter is "accursed" of God, all imply that this is a very dangerous, volatile quantity. Yet in the people I have known, the more sociable they are the more prone they are to gossip, and their gossip all too often slips into backbiting. The same is true of myself; the more time I spend talking to people the more likely it is that I will be singed and cursed by my own tongue.

This is probably where we should apply the consultative self-defense skills, pro-active conciliation and fear of contention, that we discussed here the other day. Just as a wise person breaks off a contact that threatens to become violent, they should be just as willing to break off a contact, no matter how friendly, if it threatens to break somebody's back. It is a matter of self-defense; we defend other creatures of God from condemnation in order to protect ourselves from the fiery curse of backbiting. The soul is a mirror of God and any attack on another soul insults God and does as much spiritual damage as insult to self. This is a problem that Plato deals with in the Georgias: Is it worse to do an injustice oneself or to have one done to us? The answer, difficult as it is, is the former. It is better to be beaten up and killed than to utter a word of condemnation about our brother or sister. Our brother or sister may not hear it or know it, but God knows, and the mirror of our soul knows, and it sickens us, deep down. God protect us from betraying this fundamental aspect of God's best-beloved issue, justice.

Issues Concerning Community Functioning

The Universal House of Justice


From: Research Department

7 February 1993

2. Consultation and Expression of Feelings

The view has been put forth that the open expression of feelings and honest expression of ideas are fundamental to productive Baha'i consultation, and, further, that the Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) 12-Step programme can make an important contribution to honest and open communication. In this regard, guidance was sought concerning the expression of feelings in the course of consultation.

While there may well be similarities between elements of the process of consultation and the 12-Step programme, they differ in their overall goals. The intent of the open expression by the individual as practiced by A.A. is, by and large, to effect a healing and a release from the habit of drinking. Consultation, on the other hand, has as its object "the investigation of truth".

The distinction between the purpose of consultation and therapeutic endeavours is made explicit in the following extracts from letters written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice:

"It should be borne in mind that all consultation is aimed at arriving at a solution to a problem and is quite different from the sort of group baring of the soul that is popular in some circles these days and which borders on the kind of confession that is forbidden in the Faith." (Consultation: A Compilation, p. 22)

In regard to your question about the fifth step in the "A.A. 12-Step Programme", we have been asked to share with you the following extract from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice on 26 August 1986 to an individual believer: ...there is no objection to Baha'is being members of Alcoholics Anonymous, which is an association that does a great deal of good in assisting alcoholics to overcome their lamentable condition. The sharing of experience which the members undertake does not conflict with the Baha'i prohibition on the confession of sins; it is more in the nature of the therapeutic relationship between a patient and a psychiatrist. (On behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 5 November 1987)

The honest expression of feelings in general communication requires wisdom and moderation. In Gleanings, Baha'u'llah counsels the believers thus:

"They who are the people of God have no ambition except to revive the world, to ennoble its life, and regenerate its peoples. Truthfulness and goodwill have, at all times, marked their relations with all men..." (pp. 270-71)

"Beware lest ye contend with any one, and strive to make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortations...." (p. 279)

"Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence...." (p. 216)

And Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated 5 July 1947 written on his behalf, makes the following statement about the importance of "balance in all things":

"One might liken Baha'u'llah's teachings to a sphere; there are points poles apart, and in between the thoughts and doctrines that unite them. We believe in balance in all things; we believe in moderation in all things -- we must not be too emotional, nor cut and dried and lacking in feeling, we must not be so liberal as to cease to preserve the character and unity of our Baha'i system, nor fanatical and dogmatic."

Concerning the open expression of feelings during consultation, clearly the expression of feelings and the emotional tone of the interaction make an important contribution to the consultative process. In one of His talks 'Abdu'l-Baha describes "love and fellowship" as the "foundation" of "true consultation". He states:

"...true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation." (Promulgation of Universal Peace, 1982 edition, pp. 72-73)

The Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha that are cited in Baha'i Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1923, 1980 edition, pp. 20-23, provide helpful guidance concerning the expression of feelings during consultation. For example:

'Abdu'l-Baha calls upon the members of a Spiritual Assembly to unite such that their "thoughts", "views", and "feelings may become as one reality, manifesting the spirit of union throughout the world...." (pp. 20- 21) The Master advises the members to "take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise". He affirms that:

"This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should any one oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions..." (p.21)

It is important to note that truth emerges after the "clash" of carefully articulated views (which may well be expressed with enthusiasm and vigour), not from the clash of feelings. A clash of feelings is likely to obscure the truth, while a difference of opinion facilitates the discovery of truth. 'Abdu'l-Baha provides the following advice concerning the manner in which views should be expressed in the course of consultation. It is suggested that this guidance could also pertain to the expression of feelings:

They must then proceed with the utmost devotion, courtesy, dignity, care and moderation to express their views. They must in every matter search out the truth and not insist upon their own opinion, for stubbornness and persistence in one's views will lead ultimately to discord and wrangling and the truth will remain hidden... (p. 22)

For additional statements from the Writings which could be pertinent to the subject of the expression of feelings in the consultative process, reference could be made to "Consultation: A Compilation."

(The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Feb 7, Issues concerning community functioning)

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ronald Glossop

Communication from Ronald Glossop

By John Taylor; 2006 November 17

Professor Ronald J. Glossop is probably the most prominent figure ever to enter the purview of this Badi Blog. Aside from writing the standard text book for Peace Studies courses, Confronting War, he also is on the board of the American internationalist lobby group "Citizens for Global Solutions" <>, among other distinctions. No doubt if the Master were around today, it would be Dr. Glossop who would be getting tablets addressed, "O Thou Perfect Man!" saying how service to the cause of peace is a transcendently "universal service." (I will include, at the end of this mailout, two Tablets that the Master wrote to the organizers of the Lake Mohonk annual peace conferences.) Dr. Glossop replied briefly to the excerpt from this blog that I sent him. He wrote in part (it is in Esperanto, so this is my translation),

"I had hoped to have the chance to go over the material more carefully but too many urgent affairs have intervened, including the national elections with their happy results. (I am active politically and in other public efforts. I am well aware that one will have to do more than just talk about how one should have a world federation.) I read the letter and selection from the blog that you sent. I am not opposed to your ideas about new rules for home building and other construction. In fact, I support such a notion. However, I think that the role of governments is much more important than you realize. In the last line of your letter you wrote:

"We can only imagine what it would be like if roads and buildings were similarly globalized. A universal, integrated power grid, transport and transit system could rapidly, efficiently and cheaply connect every point on the planet to every other. . . . Each locale could be regulated by a single, open building code to assure that . . . food is grown and prepared locally, and so forth."

"You seem to think that this can come about without the oversight of governments, be they national or a world government. Maybe some work can be done without government decisions, but on the whole such changes would require governmental resolve, and not just on the local level. ... I hope we will meet again at the North American Congress of Esperantists in Montreal in 2008.

Dr. Glossop makes a good point. As a Baha'i I am as far as you can get from a libertarian, the type who discounts the importance of the role of government. Baha'u'llah wrote the leaders of the world, and never doubted for a moment that any solution to the problem of war was in their hands. What I am proposing is that activists who realize the value of world federation, rather than wasting energy in futile, divisive protest, actively go out and prepare the regulations that would come of out of any future world governance. A huge regime change is imminent, and the better prepared we are the better.

A world federation, even before it forms, can draw up plans, standards and regulations for a world infrastructure. This prospect is one of the most attractive features of a world government, after the elimination of war, that is. Huge funds would be freed up for constructive purposes after arms races are ended. Even now we can use computer simulations to calculate and assess what might happen if, for example, a certain gauge of railroad were used everywhere, or a given type of solar panel were affixed on the roof of mound developments around the world. The historical precedent for this is the Internet, which was used and tweaked for decades by business, academia and the military before, in the mid-1990's, it became the Web, a universal tool for just about everything. Baha'u'llah called for a universal gathering of humanity, a gathering of linguists to agree upon a world language, of religious leaders to eliminate the pernicious rivalries among faiths, and so forth. All I am trying to do is to jump start the design, building and engineering sector of this universal gathering. It would take a permanent regulatory body to assure that transport and housing were standardized and made efficient enough to have a sustainable world economy.

Two Tablets from Abdu'l-Baha, (poorly and ungrammatically) translated by Ahmad Sohrab

Through Mirza Ahmad Sohrab to his honor, Mr. Albert Smiley, the founder of the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration. May God assist him!

(Star of the West, Vol. 2, No. 14, p. 3)


Thou great and respected personage!

The details of the Conference of Peace and Arbitration which is organized under your presidency has (sic) been read in the papers of the East and the West and the utmost joy and fragrance was produced; that, praise be to God, in the continent of America, under the presidency of a glorious personage, the Conference of International Peace is convened. Today in the world of existence there is no more important and greater cause than this -- for it is conducive to the promotion of happiness in the commonwealth of humanity and is the cause of tranquility of all the nations and countries and the prosperity of the individuals of the human world. What cause is greater than this! It is evident that it has the utmost importance nay, rather, it will be the cause of the illumination of the East and the West and the reason for the manifestation of the Countenance and the Face of God in the world of humanity and the appearance of infinite affections. Therefore, although this longing one has no acquaintance with your honor, but this great cause and this eminent effort of yours became the cause of my having infinite love for you while absent. Consequently I am engaged in writing you this epistle.

The matter of international peace was instituted by His Highness Baha'u'llah, sixty years ago in Persia in the year of 1851, A. D. From That time innumerable epistles and tablets were spread first in Persia and then in other parts of the world, until about fifty years ago He clearly stated this matter of universal peace in the Book of Akdas and has commanded all the Baha'is to serve faithfully with heart and soul in this great cause, give up their possessions and wealth for it and sacrifice their lives in ease of necessity. He has taught them to spread the unity of nations and religions and proclaim in all the regions of the world the oneness of the kingdom of humanity.

There are different religions in Persia, such as Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and different sects. Through the power of Baha'u'llah such affection and love is produced among these various religions that now they are associating with each other with the utmost unity and concord like unto fathers, sons, brothers, mothers and daughters. Whenever they gather in a meeting if a stranger enters in that gathering he is astonished by the love and affection that they manifest. There is not the slightest sign of difference and separation. Some of the tablets of Baha'u'llah concerning this matter are translated in America. Seek, perchance you may find them, then you shall realize what a permanent structure Baha'u'llah has raised in this world of existence, the result of which will be the oneness of all humanity. Likewise, innumerable tablets have been written with the pen of this longing one. Ask for them, too; perhaps you may find their translations in America.

To be brief, as His Highness Baha'u'llah in this period of man has planted a fruitful tree in the garden of the oneness of the human race, and as your honor is engaged in reality to irrigate this garden, therefore I found it necessary to express my gratitude and happiness to you, so that your good name may be spread not only in Persia but throughout all Oriental countries and the people of the East may remember your name with great respect.

I hope that the principles of international peace and universal reconciliation may be established firmly among the individual members of humanity and its fragrance may be spread throughout all the regions.

I beg of you to accept the expressions of my highest consideration.


Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, August 9, 1911.

Through Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, to his honor Mr. C. C. Philips, the Secretary of the Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration.

Star of the West, Vol. 2, No. 14, p. 4


O thou perfect man!

The Conference on International Arbitration and Peace is the greatest results (sic) of this great age. This brilliant century has no likeness and similitude in the history of man. From every standpoint it is distinguished above all other centuries. It is specialized with such excellencies that the shining star of the heavenly confirmations shall gleam from the horizon of this century upon all the future cycles and periods. One of the most extraordinary events of this time, which indeed is a miracle, is the founding of the oneness of this realm of humanity and its essential branches, such as Universal Peace and the unity of the different nations, in this arena of existence.

Persia was at one time the center of religious difference, antagonism and oppression, to such an extent that pen is unable to describe. The adherents of different nations and religions considered it their religious duty to shed the blood of their opponents; they pillaged and ransacked each others property and did not fall short of oppressing their own flesh and blood. The hatred between the various religions attained to such a height that they considered each other unclean. Should a Jew enter a Mohammedan home, he would be made to sit upon the ground; if he drank water from a cup, that cup was destroyed or washed again and again; for the Jew was considered unclean. Such was the hatred and rancor among the different religions and nations in Persia.

About sixty years ago His Highness Baha'u'llah through the Heavenly Power proclaimed the oneness of the Kingdom of man in that country and addressing the concourse of humanity said: "0 ye people! Ye are all the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch!"

About fifty years ago in the Book of Akdas, He commanded the people to establish the Universal Peace and summoned all the nations to the Divine Banquet of International Arbitration so that the questions of boundaries, of national honor and property, and of vital interests between nations might be decided by an arbitral court of justice; and that no nation would dare to refuse to abide by their decisions. If any quarrel arise between two nations it must be adjudicated by this international court and be arbitrated and decided upon like the judgment rendered by the judge between individuals. If at any time any nation dares to break such a treaty all the other nations must arise to put down this rebellion.

Baha'u'llah has clearly stated that this Universal Peace is the cause of the tranquillity of the realm of creation. Now as the International Conference on Arbitration is organized in America and as this problem is a branch which will ultimately bring about the unity of the world, therefore we remember you with the utmost respect, that praise be to God you have arisen to perform such a universal service. God willing, that Conference will progress day by day and will bring about all-embracing results and will establish reconciliation and universal love between the different nations, races and peoples of this world.

I beg of you to accept the expressions of my highest consideration.

(SIGNED) Abdul Baha Abbas.

Translated by Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, Aug. 22, 1911.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Consultative Self-Defense

Consultative Self-Defense

By John Taylor; 2006 November

Last night Thomas and I sat in on Silvie's Pathfinder's class on women's self-defense, which took place in a gym at Premier Martial Arts Academy in an old warehouse in Dunnville's industrial district. The instructor had impressive qualifications, being a former soldier and military policeman. He is constantly traveling around North America teaching police officers how to handle violent situations. Although as a teenager I had several intense years training in Judo as a sport, I had never taken a self-defense class and it was almost all new to me.

Much of the time I had trouble concentrating because Thomas, bored with the intellectual niceties of self-defense, was a positive whirlwind. At times he was literally running circles around the class, crashing into me periodically, practicing the moves, putting on their boxing gloves and hitting me and everything around him, smashing head first into the punching bags, and on and on. I had to be content keeping him quiet but not still. A couple of months ago I would have been more annoyed, but he has been so sick lately that I felt more relieved than anything else that he is back to normal. Meanwhile, there was a noisy Tae Kwon Do class going on in the next gym, so Thomas was not much more distraction than was already going on.

As for the self-defense message the instructor gave, I was surprised at how much of it involves good consultation skills. He gave one example of how to be actively conciliatory. You have parked your car and are walking into the mall. An angry fellow comes up swearing at you for beating him to "his" parking spot. Most people, myself included, would say, "Sorry, better luck next time." He would say, "Hey, my family are healthy and able to walk, you can have the spot. We will park somewhere else and walk a bit further." This is why women, generally speaking, fare better in potentially violent situations. Unlike macho men, they are willing to conciliate, they think on their feet, they do not have "something to prove."

Most of the time (this is one thing they did teach us in Judo, I still remember it) the best thing you can do is run away. Do not be afraid to lay down your cards and beat it. In every situation, be observant, keep your eyes open and know the signs that say it is time to get out of a situation. The reddening face, increased swearing, higher pitched voice, all are saying, get out of there now. He taught three simple moves to make when you cannot leave. As for the legal problems that often result from the use of force in defending yourself, self-defense instructors have a nice little saying, "Better to be standing before twelve than carried by six." That is, better to be charged and standing before a jury than be killed and carried in a coffin by your pallbearers. One is reminded of Baha'u'llah's reported words: "Before Justice, tell the Truth and fear nothing." (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, 158)

The principle of running away and avoidance is, I think, a basic religious principle. Approach to the world of God is the same as withdrawal from the world of transience. People talk about censorship as a measure of tyrants, but it is really part of wisdom. There are many areas of endeavor that do more harm than good and we, as a society, should suppress and extinguish them as much as possible. We should learn to talk in ways that avoid what provokes violence or arousal, for the same reason that we avoid fires by not letting kids play with matches. That means simple discretion, avoiding inflammatory language, holding off on topics that may be invidious or upsetting. The Bible teaches,

"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do engender strifes; and the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient; In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves..." (II Tim 2:23-25)

The Master, in His Will and Testament, says that we should be positively terrified of contentiousness. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Specifically, He says, "Guard ye the Cause of God, protect His law and have the utmost fear of discord." (Will and Testament, 19) Even ill-feeling is anathema. For example, the only stated reason for requiring consent of parents is, "lest enmity and rancour should arise amongst them." (Aqdas, p. 42) Yet to say that we flee from confrontation is not the same as saying that we are defeated by it. Quite the contrary. Generally speaking, we fill in the darkness of alienation with powerful floodlights of love. We just need to be sure there is electricity to power the floodlights, I suppose. In a single, poetic thought, the Master portrays how we should act in the face of negativity:

"Therefore they must with one accord arise to that which is the requirement and the merit of this day, become overflowing with joy and beatitude, perfume the nostrils with fragrances, sweeten the tastes with the honey and delicacy of love, become the signs of guidance, be the glad-tidings of the Supreme Concourse and the army of the Kingdom of ABHA; so that they may destroy the edifice of war and bloodshed, efface the traces of battle and strife from the face of the earth, uproot the tree of foreignness and plant the tree of unity in the rose-garden of the regions, extinguish the fire of hatred and animosity and set in motion the sea of love and affinity, erase the traces of discord from the Tablet of the earth and register thereon the verses of concord, clear the field of existence from the thorns and brambles of hostilities and ill-feeling and adorn it with the hyacinths and anemones of harmony, train and educate the souls and loosen the tongue in the delivery of the instructions and teachings of the Blessed Perfection!" (Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 573)

I found the self-defense instructor's advice about deportment interesting. He said it is a mistake in a dangerous situation to hold your head down and look at your feet as you walk. Your feet know what they are doing. Rather, you should be as observant as possible, noting everything you can about the situation. Think clearly about what is happening. If there is a confrontation, never back up, go from side to side or forward. Going backwards increases the chances that you will fall. There are no rules on the street, so the more you can observe about your subject the better prepared you will be. Notice whether the person you are confronting has friends around, perhaps standing in the shadows. This too has parallels in consultation.

A philosophical self-defense instructor might give similar advice: We should always be observant of the presuppositions on which those we talk with are operating. If they clash, it is best to move the conversation on to more productive areas. This is Francis Bacon's advice as to what to say,

"...since we neither agree in our principles nor our demonstrations, all argument is out of the question." (Bacon, Instauration, Aphorisms)

Similarly, just as our physical environment is often a dark and dangerous place where we must tread carefully, so often the locale of consultation is treacherous. The 20th Century's most prominent philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, wrote famously that, "Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of the intelligence by means of language." If professional philosophers are caught up in the magic spells of language, we amateurs too should beware. As soon as a discussion breaks down into hair-splitting and walking among tenuous distinctions, we should break it off and seek greener pastures.

As Baha'is, we should be setting an example like that self-defense instructor. He is as well prepared as anybody in the world for a confrontation, yet he has no chip on his shoulder and always acts in an actively conciliatory manner, because he knows that violence is a lose-lose situation. As Baha'is we know that consultation is a win-win thing, but we also know that contention is lose-lose, every much as physical violence is. The Master spoke of several pre-conditions for productive win-win consultation, the first, of course, being love and harmony. But the second, which we might call rule of law or consultative self-defense, involves setting ground rules and appointing a ground rule enforcer. This step we too often pass over.

"The second condition is that the members of the assembly should unitedly elect a chairman and lay down guide-lines and by-laws for their meetings and discussions. The chairman should have charge of such rules and regulations and protect and enforce them; the other members should be submissive, and refrain from conversing on superfluous and extraneous matters." (Selections, 87)

But even under the guidance of a wise chair, it is still much too easy to slip out of consultation into confrontation. Just as language is bewitching, the use of language to cross swords and fight it out is all too compelling. The Master, in the following oft-cited quote, recognizes that this can be made into a good thing, that a dramatic clash may illuminate an otherwise monochromatic, dull and insipid view of truth.

"The members thereof must take counsel together in such wise that no occasion for ill-feeling or discord may arise. This can be attained when every member expresseth with absolute freedom his own opinion and setteth forth his argument. Should anyone oppose, he must on no account feel hurt for not until matters are fully discussed can the right way be revealed. The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions." (Selections, 87)

This demands tremendous maturity from the participants and virtuosic skill on the part of the chairperson. Normally it is rare to get over the drama of the clash and contention long enough to see the new view of truth that the spark revealed. A spark is by definition fleeting, and everybody must be ready beforehand, be very alert to see what it reveals. In fact, very often a chairperson may decide to use his or her authority to postpone discussion until another, later meeting. Only then, long after the high feelings of confrontation are forgotten, are feelings settled down enough for the memory of the spark to shine out. It is interesting that the House of Justice elucidates this passage. They say that the Master did not mean clash of feelings but clash of ideas.

"It is important to note that truth emerges after the "clash" of carefully articulated views (which may well be expressed with enthusiasm and vigour), not from the clash of feelings. A clash of feelings is likely to obscure the truth, while a difference of opinion facilitates the discovery of truth." (letter Feb 7, 1993, Issues Concerning Community Functioning)

In fact, the Master seems to expect that the clash of opinions will be of the sort that dispels the opposing points of view soon afterwards, even by those who expressed them, not the kind of bashing that entrenches positions. This is evidenced by his saying right after that when it comes down to making a decision all, ideally, should share one opinion, "... but if, the Lord forbid, differences of opinion should arise, a majority of voices must prevail." (Selections, 86)

This is why I think that the essence of consultative self-defense is to change our tastes. We really should regard opposition as ugly and distasteful. We should not look at a fight as welcome relief to the boredom of everyday life. Philosophically, we should be aware of the snares of language and seek only the truth. We must love the enlightenment, hate the impact of any but pure ideas. Pascal made an insightful observation about how ephemeral our attraction to the clash of ideas usually is.

"The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory. We love to see animals fighting, not the victor infuriated over the vanquished. We would only see the victorious end; and, as soon as it comes, we are satiated. It is the same in play, and the same in the search for truth. In disputes we like to see the clash of opinions, but not at all to contemplate truth when found. To observe it with pleasure, we have to see it emerge out of strife. So in the passions, there is pleasure in seeing the collision of two contraries; but when one acquires the mastery, it becomes only brutality. We never seek things for themselves, but for the search. Likewise in plays, scenes which do not rouse the emotion of fear are worthless, so are extreme and hopeless misery, brutal lust, and extreme cruelty." (Pascal, Pensees, 135)

Consultative self-defense is a change in the esthetic of the heart, reforming our appreciation as spectators. The instructor told one anecdote from his own life to illustrate this point. One day he came upon a very large man beating up his wife. Gathered around were a couple of dozen spectators doing nothing to stop it, just watching. As a person trained for these situations, he subdued the bully with minimum force and performed a citizen's arrest. The man was charged with assault but since the instructor had separated his shoulder, he was sued and had to pay the man's lost wages. Again, violence is always lose-lose, and even when you win and do everything right, you still lose. But better standing before twelve than carried by six. Violence is just a question of who and how much suffering will expiate the spiritual deficit. Ultimately, this is why the Manifestation must suffer, to expiate hearts and ready them to love and consult. It is up to us to feel that sacrificial pain, and learn from it.