Monday, March 31, 2008

Pure Money

A Huqquq Seminar

By John Taylor; 2008 March 31, 11 Baha, 165 BE

"The rich man's wealth is his strong city, like an unscalable wall in his own imagination." (Prov 18:11, WEB)

Last night we attended in St. Catherines a deepening on the law of the Huqququ'llah, run by our regional trustee, David Wiggins, a certified accountant. He used question and answer, followed by the "study circle" institute method. The many technical provisions of Huqquq prompted from the get-go a flurry of queries about how to calculate payment of Huqquq. David gave his own answers, and they were soon supplemented by later reading and discussion of his selection of quotes from Baha'u'llah.

Our Smithville/Dunnville contingent had to leave early, but David is kindly offering to bring this seminar to Dunnville, as well as anywhere in Southwestern Ontario in the land area between Lakes Ontario, Erie and the Bay formerly known as Georgian. He can be contacted at: dwiggins at; I hope our community will invite him and we will soon get to hear his entire presentation. What I took away and record on the Badi' Blog today are my own thoughts and an amalgam of David's and several other believers' insights, all inspired by dialectic with Holy Writ.

The sacredness of the Right of God teaches what rights are. If we ignore God's right, how will humanity respect human rights, much less the non-obvious right of nature not to be polluted and degraded?

Everything boils down to purity.

The products of industry are mixed with impurities, like our water supply. We dump massive quantities of drugs, illegal, prescription and non-prescription, as well as thousands of toxic chemicals, into a primitive sewage system that eventually puts it all into the water table. Trace elements of everything from heroine to Viagra are turning up in tap water, doing unknown harm to plants, animals and humans all of which have no choice but drink increasingly dirty water.

Today money is just as adulterated, grungy, false, contaminated, dirty to the touch. We can purify our own fortune by paying Huqquq. The law acts as a water purification plant not only to our wealth, but ultimately to the entire money supply. Yes, the right of God has a spiritual effect, but also it sets in motion a literal purification process, since part of the money is spent righting structural wrongs against the poor, the part of humanity that comes first in the estimation of God. Blessed are the poor.

One participant was especially conscious of the impurity that exploitation, drug money, arms manufacture and slave labor introduce into our money supply. As an example, she told how she had traveled in the American Deep South and visited a beautiful garden built on an island. Walking through these tranquil surroundings she suddenly felt bitterly conscious that this entire panorama was been built by slaves. Slave labor from the ground up. It was still beautiful, but that knowledge changed everything. Life can be a pleasure, objects can be lovely, but still tainted. A few years ago, another legal attempt in the U.S. to gain compensation for former slaves failed. Not one penny has been paid out to the Black slaves or their descendants who built the wealthiest country in the world. The German government has made payments, however inadequate; to compensate victims of Nazi concentration camps, but there has been no atonement for slavery. Not long after that class action case was quashed, freedom fundamentalists began borrowing billions and pouring it into politically connected private corporations, bringing the American dollar into its present plunge. Impure money indeed.

Tainted is how Naomi Klein in "No Logo" predicted people would feel looking at logos and brand names like Nike. Organizations that openly exploit cheap labor in the third world are the modern slavers. Their products are good, cheap and trendy, but still tainted. Abdu'l-Baha called the modern taint of exploitation "industrial slavery," and considered it morally no better than the chattel slavery that built the massive fortunes of the American south. All wealth is polluted by power mongering and exploitation.

The law of God says it: the more people who pay God His due, the Huqquq, the more wrongs like slavery will be expiated and put into the past. Like Jesus’ sacrifice of His life, this is blood money that contributes to the salvation of all humanity. When the law of Huqquq is universal, economic life will cease being sullied by satanic exploitation. Baha'u'llah points out the source of "heart pollution," the fact that we too easily fall in love with worldly desires. He says,

"Even as the swiftness of lightning ye have passed by the Beloved One, and have set your hearts on satanic fancies. Ye bow the knee before your vain imagining, and call it truth." (PHW 45)

One person frankly shared what can only be called "sticker shock" when looking at a small bank savings account and realizing that 19 percent of it had to be paid to Huqquq. Several suggestions were made. For one thing, it is in the spirit of the Huqquq to make regular payments. One participant came into an inheritance, and having paid regularly through the years, although usually not "qualified" to do so because of its exemptions, found that Huqquq on the entire windfall was already paid. Thus there was no testing of that person's detachment.

Instead of writing during this migraine weather I have been listening over and over to a song called "La mer." I think it should be made the anthem for any future world government, since all life comes from the sea. A pure ocean, the Ocean of Baha'u'llah's words, is what makes us pure Baha'is. This is a reflection of the fundamental importance of oceans to all life: even the oxygen in the air we breathe is pumped out by plankton living under those waves. The sea is the ultimate destination of all the pollutants we produce. Even the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were, until recently, being absorbed by the sea. Our climate is now in crisis because the sea has reaching its saturation point. The song "La Mer" ends saying that the sea has "berce mon coeur pour la vie," rocked my heart's cradle throughout my life.

And so would God, if we let Him, if we gave Him His due in Huqquq and expiated the wrongs we have done the poor through the ages. We must call a spade a spade, and call vain imaginations about wealth and freedom what they are, filth, and with this holy law set in motion divinely constructed mechanisms to purify it.

"The name of Yahweh is a strong tower: The righteous run to him, and are safe." (Prov 18:10, WEB)


For two more essays from this blog on the law of Huqquq see:

Huqquq; Canadian Sovereignty, I, God's Right, 2007 September 1,

Standing Up for God's Right -- Sweet Spot of Happiness Series, 2005, August 4,


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Economics Notes

By John Taylor; 2008 March 29, 09 Baha, 165 BE

Yesterday I drove Thomas to J.L. Mitchener School in Cayuga; he had been chosen along with another classmate to participate in an inter-school enrichment event called Mindsparklers. (His comment: it was like jail -- get it, J.L., Jail Mitchener?) Then I got distracted from writing my usual daily essay by a session comparing songs on YouTube, subject of interest being a French song called "La Mer," which was the finale of the latest Mr. Bean movie, along with its more romantic English version, Beyond the Sea, featured in Searching for Nemo.

My lover stands on golden sands,
And watches the ships that go sailing.
Somewhere beyond the sea,
She's there watching for me,
If I could fly like birds on high,
Then straight to her arms I'd go sailing.

It is a consummate male vocalist song, but a female group called Celtic Woman does a wonderful version too. Taken all in all, I like the French version better, what with its nostalgia for a childhood lived next to the ocean. It reminds one of the "ocean" of God's Word, in which Baha'is immerse ourselves morn and eve.

In the afternoon I watched Michael Moore's latest, Sicko. I had put off watching this feature documentary until it was moved out of the new movie section of the video store. I just cannot stand hearing about any more American sellouts, especially their hopelessly racist, corrupt and cruel health care system. It was not as funny as I expected, based on his earlier films. The most interesting parts were in the DVD extras, (, especially the interviews with Che Guevara's daughter and of a retired English labor party politician, both of whom gave excellent little socialism 101 seminars for the benefit of Americans, most of whom seem never to have heard anything left of what in other developed nations is an extreme right-wing lunatic fringe.

The best added DVD feature of all was "This Country Beats France," which is about Norway, the number one rated country in the world for most of the things dealt with in Sicko, as well as in a bonus, penal reform. It features an unbelievably enlightened prison, one that might have been designed by Abdu'l-Baha Himself, where guards and prisoners work in the fields together, and where independence and responsibility are daily bread. The kicker, after featuring a murderer who is hopelessly mollycoddled, is to hear that Norway not only has the highest number of female elected representatives in parliament and the world's best health care provisions, it also has the lowest murder rate in the world, bar none. This short film should be required watching for everyone, everywhere. The moral is simple: not only are greed and cruelty immoral, they are also counterproductive. As Jesus said, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.

I have been reading an excellent article by Farhad Rassekh in the Journal of Baha'i Studies, December, 2001, "The Baha'i Faith and the Market Economy." It sheds light on Sicko and other reading. Rasseckh cites the Guardian in a quote I have not been able to find in Ocean, the Web, or anywhere else. According to him, Shoghi Effendi wrote:

"In the Baha'i economic system of the future, private ownership will be retained, but will be controlled, regulated, and even be restricted. Complete socialization is not only impossible but most unjust, and in this the Cause is in fundamental disagreement with the extreme socialists and communists. It cannot also agree with the other extreme tendency, represented by "Laissez faire" or individualistic school of economics which became very popular in the late eighteenth century, by the so-called democratic countries. For absolute freedom, even in the economic sphere, leads to confusion and corruption, and acts not only to the detriment of the state, or the collectivity, but inevitably results in the end in jeopardizing the very interests of the individual himself." (Rassekh, Journal, 48)

The source given is page 106 of Hooshmand Badii, The True Foundation of All Economics: A Compilation, Alprint-Ainsworth Association, Kitchener, Ontario, 1993. Has anybody seen this publication? If authentic, it is significant that the Guardian used the qualifier, "so-called" democratic countries. While I failed to uncover where this quote came from, while searching, others jumped into my face. Here are some of the more incisive comments I found from the Guardian on the future economic system.

"'Abdu'l-Baha has developed in various of His talks, which the Baha'i economic system would be based ... (a) system that prevents among others the gradual control of wealth in the hands of a few and the resulting state of both extremes, wealth and poverty." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Lights of Guidance, p. 548)

"...the Cause neither accepts the theories of ... Capitalistic economics in full, nor can it agree with the Marxists and Communists in their repudiation of the principle of private ownership and of the vital sacred rights of the individual." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, June 10, 1930, in Lights of Guidance, p. 549)

"As to your fourth question, Shoghi Effendi believes that it is preferable not to confuse the methods explained by the Master with present systems. They may have many resemblances but also many points of difference. Moreover these general statements we have in the teachings have to be explained and applied by the House of Justice before we can really appreciate their significance." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 21, 1932, Lights of Guidance, p. 548)

In view of what the Guardian says here, that the UHJ will flesh out the economic teachings further, here is some guidance which has already come from them.

"The amelioration of the conditions of the world requires the reconstruction of human society and efforts to improve the material well-being of humanity. The Baha'i approach to this task is evolutionary and multifaceted, involving not only the spiritual transformation of individuals but the establishment of an administrative system based on the application of justice, a system which is at once the "nucleus" and the "pattern" of the future World Order, together with the implementation of programmes of social and economic development that derive their impetus from the grass roots of the community. (WOB, 144) Such an integrated approach will inevitably create a new world, a world where human dignity is restored and the burden of inequity is lifted from the shoulders of humanity. Then will the generations look back with heartfelt appreciation, for the sacrifices made by Baha'is and non-Baha'is alike, during this most turbulent period in human history." (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 663)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Reading a Drunk's Mind

By John Taylor; 2008 March 27, 07 Baha, 165 BE

As I was on my marathon of watching the TV series, House, M.D. on DVD over the last fast, it often occurred to me how annoyingly low-tech the whiteboard is. Surely it would help them if they just took a snapshot of the patient, naked of course, and tacked it up alongside their differential diagnosis. Then they could compare the physiognomy and outer features of the bodies of similar patients. Other graphics could highlight other relevant data on their whiteboard.

By the time somebody gets to medical school, you would think that interactive whiteboard displays would be part of their thinking, but no. Here is a link to an article about how a public elementary school in British Columbia is adapting the latest display technology to make teaching more effective, especially to kids with learning disabilities.

"At this school, chalkboards are ancient history; Even the five-year-olds are wired at David Livingstone Elementary, where there's an interactive whiteboard in every class" Fiona Morrow, Globe and Mail, March 25, 2008,

This so-called SMART board should have been implemented in every classroom a decade ago, everywhere in the world. It should be a UN goal, for gosh sakes. The article explains,

"The SMART board replaces the chalk- or whiteboard and can be written on in the same way as a traditional teaching aid. But at the flick of a switch it is connected to a computer and becomes interactive, with the teacher able to pull up graphics and charts from a database, search the Internet and make use of video streaming to bring a subject to life. Called up to answer a question, students can drag information around the screen, their hand effectively acting as a mouse. They can also work on a project at home, bring in their memory stick, plug it in and give a Power Point presentation to the rest of the class."

And the hoops this school had to go through to get this system! We think nothing of high tech devices in airplanes and cars, but the idea of an interactive chalkboard in the place where it will do the most good, primary classrooms, just is not a priority. Truly sickening.

Housing is another supremely important area that high technology has hardly touched. Buckminster Fuller pointed this out decades ago, and it is no less true today. Here is an interesting collection of designs based on 10 by 10 house design for the poorest of the poor, featured at a conference in South Africa.


The soundproof sandbag house looks like it would be an improvement on many houses in Canada -- my own, for example. Take last Saturday. Our neighbor, separated by about five meters from us, decided to hold a party. He started early enough to disturb my morning writing session with the thump, thump, thump of a high powered stereo system. Then he came and knocked on our door, preemptively asking me to come and tell him if it was getting too loud. Nobody has ever done that before, and it worked. I did not call the cops, and went to sleep tolerating the thump, thump, thump. Then Grampa went out on his walk, leaving the door unlocked (not losing keys, and figuring out how to put them into locks is getting too challenging for him). Then late at night he returned to find that a drunk had wandered into our basement bathroom and had passed out on the floor. He woke us up, the cops were called, at last, and they extracted the person (I still do not know if it was a man or woman) from the bathroom. I tried to get back to sleep, but failed. I read all night, and missed a day's writing the next day.

Reading a Drunk's Mind

Talking about drunks, here is an interesting story of an alcoholic who became a Baha'i in the time of Baha'u'llah, as retold by the late, lamented Hand of the Cause, Mr. Furutan.

from: Stories of Baha'u'llah, Compiled by Ali-Akbar Furutan, George Ronald, Oxford, 1986, pp. 74-75

This description by Aqa Siyyid Mihdi Gulpaygani has been heard by the compiler on several occasions in 'Ishqabad:

An influential resident of the city of Isfahan embraced the Cause of God, but as soon as he began associating with the believers it became apparent that he had long been addicted to alcohol. Using wisdom, the friends would urge him to abandon this habit, but he would reply that he had suffered this addiction for years, and to give it up would be extremely difficult. Whenever his fellow believers explained that if others were to learn about it, they would think that Baha'is were unconcerned about obeying Baha'i laws, he would say that no one except the believers could possibly know about it. And when reminded that the Blessed Beauty was aware of the situation, he would answer that Baha'u'llah was not concerned with his private life.

Little by little the friends gave up discussing this matter with him. Eventually, he had the opportunity of travelling to the Holy Land and attaining the presence of Baha'u'llah. He made his pilgrimage and, on his return, some of the friends went to visit him. He addressed them in these words:

'Friends, I am now certain that the Blessed Beauty is aware of hidden mysteries, and whether a matter is concealed or not makes no difference whatsoever. For this reason I no longer touch alcohol, for I always perceive Him as omnipresent and watchful.

'During the pilgrims' very first visit,' he continued, 'we stood while the Ancient Beauty paced to and fro as He addressed us. I was entranced by His graceful bearing, and thought to myself: 'It is readily acknowledged that He is the Manifestation of God and the Promised One of all nations, but what does it mean when He describes His station in some of His Tablets as "The Sender of the Messengers and the Revealer of the Books"? [Mursil-i-Rusul va Munzil-i-Kutub]

'No sooner had this thought occurred to me than the Blessed Beauty, in the midst of His pacing, came towards me, placed His blessed hands on my shoulders and majestically stated: "It is so! The Sender of the Messengers and the Revealer of the Books is Our station."

'My state of mind at this point I was unable to comprehend, and afterwards I became convinced that the Sacred Being Who could read my inner thoughts could also see my outer deeds and actions.'

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

tenv Avoiding Slack Destruction

Responding to the NSA

By John Taylor; 2008 March 26, 06 Baha, 165 BE

"One who is slack in his work is brother to him who is a master of destruction." (Prov 18:9, WEB)

In a recent communication the Canadian Baha'i National Spiritual Assembly asked Baha'is to reflect upon the environment, and consult on what to do in our communities to contribute to the call of the hour, reversing global warming and climate change. In their letter they emphasize that our goals of teaching and expansion need not be divorced from such initiatives. They point out that if we ourselves contribute to the solution, it would be a strong argument for others to join us. The question is, though, how to do it, small in number and scanty in resources as we are?

The first thing that springs to mind is to take advantage of our unique position as facilitators of consultation, what with the Ruhi study circles going on. Some believers from Quebec recently attended our feast and told how this program has revitalized their ageing Baha'i community while offering a chance for local people to talk about more than the usual superficialities that dominate the media and other public fora. Book One is especially useful for raising our sights and expectations about the loftiness of what we can aspire to and share with others.

One of the main causes of climate destruction is disunity; the fact that wealthy elites are successful at dividing and conquering is a testament not to their cleverness -- it is the oldest ploy in the book -- but to the failure of the majority to stand up for the rights of the whole human race. Baha'is can contribute, for we have a special mission to root out the sources of contention that are hindering our response to climate change. Baha'u'llah wrote,

"O Contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. ... Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you." (Proclamation, 115)

In our Ruhi study circles we can bear this in mind, for surely the reason that we as a society are not responding to the climate crisis as we should is that we are too wrapped up in contention and disputes instead of focusing our minds on what Baha'u'llah suggests, that which "draweth you together."

Baha'is, although our scope is global, are one of the most locally oriented groups around. It was therefore inspiring for me to read in the last pages of Naomi Klien's Shock Doctrine about the aftermath of the SE Asian tsunami a few years ago. She tells how certain native peoples of Thailand avoided the fate of less determined beach dwellers, for example in Sri Lanka. The poor in Sri Lanka were forced into concentration camps "for their own safety" while the land on which their homes had been on for generations was auctioned off to wealthy beach front hotel owners. The Thai natives were not so passive, they staged "re-invasions" of their beach front areas, protected by the publicity and media attention. They cleverly negotiated shared, egalitarian property arrangements that served as a model of local, consultative response to the shock of a disaster. So exemplary were they that they got tourist dollars from large delegations of Katrina victims, who came through regularly to learn how to avoid having their public resources privatized out of existence.

Clearly, local consultation and resolve is a powerful protection to the poor and disadvantaged.

I have also found it useful to take advantage of the Socrates Cafe movement, another locally oriented movement. It is one of the few interactive, face-to-face public fora where people can discuss non-superficialities, local problems and local solutions.

One area that was drawn to my attention at our last Wainfleet Philosopher's Cafe meeting was the problem of sewage disposal. Homeowners on the beach front there are being asked to chip in twenty thousand dollars each toward new sewers, which they are told will increase property values and allow more growth. One local from nearby Port Colbourne pointed out that these sewers would only add more of a burden to their overtaxed sewage disposal plant. Their beaches have been closed for years due to high bacterial counts, and dumping sewage, raw or not, into Lake Erie is not an answer.

I pointed out the obvious technological solution I read about in New Scientist a couple of years ago, the discovery in England that two-holed toilets (one for solids and one for liquids) would allow for quicker and better disposal of effluent. The idea of a two holed toilet is shocking, but there is no way around it. I realized from wider reading later on (see the discussions on this blog of the problem of "biosolids" ending up on food crops) that this same discussion of a disgusting but necessary sewage disposal problem is being faced by localities everywhere.

Who can blame farmers for broadening out and becoming toxic waste disposal experts by fertilizing their crops with biosolids? Who can blame anybody? We all have get beyond blaming and act for real solutions. Surely the most important answer is a marriage of world government with strong local consultation. The world government needs to set up standards to solve pollution and climate change problems definitively, and we locals need to act on that.

One major answer Baha'is can help with is to consciously reduce the visceral distrust we have for government solutions, a distrust that plays into the hands of the divide and conquer strategy of the elites. It is axiomatic: the smaller the earth gets, the more rules we will have to invent, promulgate and obey. We cannot fight pollution and climate change without strong regulation.

The Baha'i principles of obedience to government and non-involvement in political disputation shed a lot of light on this problem of needing increased regulation while the masses are less inclined to trust, cooperate and obey their governments.

Naomi Klein makes a similar point in one of her newspaper columns,

"The idea that capitalism can save us from climate catastrophe has powerful appeal. It gives politicians an excuse to subsidize corporations rather than regulate them, and it neatly avoids a discussion about how the core market logic of endless growth landed us here in the first place." ("Guns Beat Green: The Market Has Spoken," by Naomi Klein, November 29th, 2007 <>)

This paragraph should be tacked onto the back of Al Gore's film and book, "An Inconvenient Truth," for it is a flaw of Gore's proposed solution of making climate change into an investment opportunity. It may be a growth opportunity, but only if we change the ground rules about ground rules, and especially the ground rules of the heart.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Klein and Forel

Shock Doctrine and World Vision

By John Taylor; 2008 March 25, 05 Baha, 165 BE

Sometimes you do not even need to read the text of an article, its summary says it all. For example, from a headline in last week's digital edition of the New York Times: "Pakistan to Talk With Militants, New Leaders Say," by Jane Perlez; "American officials fear a softening stance just as President Pervez Musharraf has given the U.S. a freer hand to strike at militants." Poor babies! Crushed by fear. What a scary thought, that -- what? Peace will break out? That things will get "softer" and there will be discussion? That lives will be saved? No, the fear is deeper than that. The real fright is that influential arms manufacturers might make a little less money, and therefore that their generous contributions to the coffers of political parties might be curtailed. What is frightening for me is the ambiguous term "American officials," which conflates corporate with government officials.

I just finished Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine, which explains why I am so conscious of how frightening "softness" is to the present order. We are talking an investment of billions of dollars in the technology of removing fear. A possible reduction in the threat of violence has become the most frightening thing imaginable. What was it that an American president said back in the 1930's? "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." That was before our poor leaders had to deal with fear of the cessation of fear.

Israel, for example, in the early 1990's had a large influx of Jews from the new pogroms in Russia, which ended its economic dependence on Palestinian Arabs for cheap labor. Israel now uses the apparently negative publicity about violence in the occupied territories as free publicity for its arms, surveillance and protective services industries, that now constitute a substantial percentage of its GNP. Now that widening income disparity is turning the rest of the world into an armed camp, suddenly Israel is the most experienced party from whom to buy your walls, razor wire and surveillance cameras.

Clearly, Klein's book is one of the most important to come out in years; in fact, it often called to mind Marx's Capital, not in content or "leftiness," but in importance and influence. It is never going to be as easy to shock and awe the public out of its money and property again. Go onto her website, <> and watch the interview she had with Charlie Rose on PBS. It is amusing to see how one of Uncle Milty's oldest buddies tries to trip her up with a ploy that was old a century ago, the false dichotomy that democratic socialism does not exist, the crock that you are either a libertarian or an anti-capitalist communist. My estimate of Charlie Rose's IQ just took a nosedive.

August Forel

The reason I am so fascinated with August Forel right now is his ideas about greed and the social re-organization of society, which were evidently inspired by his monumental study of ants. He says, "... the worst hates, individual and national, are caused by money -- by the universal money -- greed, which is corrupting today all humanity. There is only one remedy for this: the true co-operative state of the future..." I would not have accepted this emphasis on greed so vehemently before I read Klein’s discussion of Disaster Capitalism, but now I do. Unfortunately, Forel's study of ants is long out of print, and only available in French. I found a complete copy of the set on the website of an antiquarian bookstore in England, but the price was 800 dollars. Too rich for my blood. So I will have to content myself with some other, more modern study of social insects.

Here is an article by August Forel from the third volume of the Baha'i World, evidently written not long after he became a Baha'i. You can see that he is still struggling with aspects of Baha'i belief. As a co-discoverer of the neuron, it is understandable that he devotes the first several paragraphs of this "world vision" statement to talking about how brain processes not only influence but constitute our thought and will. Forel was a monist rather than a mind-body dualist, and believed that there is no difference between the firing of neurons and what we call mind, soul or will.

It is also evident from this article that he had not entirely given up his earlier racism, though to be fair he was only repeating the received scientific understanding of his age. The principle of harmony of science with religion demands that faith not contradict science "to its face," as it were, no matter how sacred we may hold the oneness of humanity. Of course, now science does not put much store by the weight of the brain as an indicator of intelligence or "superiority"; for example, Neanderthals and at least one other species of primitive man had much larger brains than we do, though they are not generally thought to have been more intelligent than homo sapiens.

As for his admonition to Baha'is at the end of the article to keep our hands off superstitious crap like astrology, I agree with Forel completely. You cannot believe in the scientific method and tolerate mysticism and New Age garbage without contradicting yourself. The more Baha'i scientists we have reminding us of that the better. But that does not mean we accept the monist's Force, however attractive George Lucas's Star Wars fantasy series may make it seem.


The World Vision of a Savant

By Dr. Auguste Henri Forel, Baha'i World, Vol. III, 1928-1930, p. 284


Original Editor's Introduction

Dr. Forel is one of the greatest scientists in the world and the greatest living author on ants. His life has been devoted to humanitarian aims and purposes; he is a thinker, a scholar, a doer. He has been very active in temperance work in Europe at a time when public opinion was wholly on the opposite side. He is a man who believes in deeds rather than words, and when he took up temperance reform, he had his vineyards destroyed.


True science should occupy itself only with what man can know. Now, we can know things only through the channel of our senses-sight, hearing, touch, and so forth. These take the impressions of the exterior world to our brain by the aid of the nerves. The human brain, of which I have made a profound study from 1872 to 1907, comparing it as well as its functions to that of animals -- this human brain is an organ weighing on the average twelve hundred and eighty grams, the cerebrum alone weighing about one thousand grams. It is composed of very tiny, interrelated nerve cells or neurones, of which it contains millions which are connected one with another by their fibers and their minute filaments. At a distance, these ramifications become covered with a white sheath which we call nerves, whether in the brain itself or serving to enter it or leave it.

 The nerves of our senses enter the brain to carry to it their sensations; the nerves called motors leave the brain in order to direct our muscular movements which we call our will. But between the two, in the interior of the cerebrum, the living force which calls our attention travels from one neurone to another, combining there our sensations and our feelings in order to make of them immediate perceptions, then concepts, and finally abstract ideas with the aid of words, whether spoken or written. All these combinations demand their continual recall to our self-consciousness which is the synthesizing power over them.

 Before the motor nerves leave the cerebrum, the attention is carried to the combinations mentioned above and concentrate a group of neurones called motors, which are situated on each side of the center the brain. With the aid of the motor nerves, the attention causes the transportation of the said combinations mentioned above to the spinal column, to the outer nerve systems of our muscles as soon as it becomes necessary to execute a movement of the will. The spinal column itself suffices only for the movements called reflexive. Now, with this necessary premise, let us come to our main subject.

 Through ignorance human beings dispute and even make, alas, wars based upon misunderstandings; and these misunderstandings rest, for the most part, on words, which excite the passions of hate. It is just the opposite of science. Let us cite some examples.

 Peoples often make wars because of not understanding each other's language -- as, for example, the Germans against the French and vice versa. But then, why does a German born in France take the part of the French in the case of war, and a Frenchman born in Germany do the opposite? This is nevertheless, what I have always observed. It is for this reason that Dr. Zamenhof, living in Poland and distressed by such hatreds, without common sense, constructed his splendid international language, Esperanto, which is spreading more and more. But it will be necessary, later on, to perfect this language by having a single word for a single meaning and several words for several meanings.

 Moreover, one makes a pretext that there are differences in races; but if one excepts those races, altogether inferior, with a lighter cerebrum (according to Wedda about eight hundred or eight hundred and fifty grams instead of one thousand) it is a fundamental error. All Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, Hindus, Semites, Americans, and so forth, are equal as races. It is necessary, therefore, to seek for other real causes for the hatreds and the wars than the differences of languages and of race. Here are five such causes:

1. Creeds. It is necessary to distinguish clearly between religion and creed or belief. The term creed ought to be reserved for the beliefs, rites, formalities and so forth which are man-made and crystallized into dogmas; different in the different faiths, and taught by the clergy over the entire world. Diversity of creed separates peoples and foments wars, improperly called religious wars. True religion, on the contrary, unites them.

2. Domination. Egoism gives to human emotions a tendency toward domination. The man wishes to rule over the woman, sometimes the woman over the man. Man wishes to rule animals, to rule the earth, to rule and control objects; but above all else, to rule other human beings. He wishes to be their superior, whether by brute force, by cunning, by manual skill and work, by speech, by writing, and so forth. The father or the mother, or both of them, wish in general to dominate their children in different ways. The spirit of domination, personal or collective, is, alas, hereditary. It is a very great obstacle to that social co-operation -- peaceful, fraternal, and impartial -- of which we have an urgent need.

3. Greed. But the worst hates, individual and national, are caused by money -- by the universal money -- greed which is corrupting today all humanity. There is only one remedy for this: the true co-operative state of the future, which I have treated elsewhere. It is impossible to adequately treat here of this great social question.

4. Alcoholic drinks. By complete prohibition the United States, Finland and Iceland give us a courageous example. All countries ought to follow their example; for alcoholic traffic is the most nefarious of things; it poisons life, above all, our brain and our soul. It causes deterioration, moreover, in the germ cells by what I have called "blasphematoire."

5. Tariff. Customs and duties tend to create national hatreds by their barriers created to bring revenue to national governments. The simplest remedy for this is international exchange or what is called free trade.

 It is necessary, therefore, little by little to suppress wars by a true Society of Nations which shall be a Society fundamentally cooperative. In this super-national society, it will be necessary to take from each state its army, making it little by little a super-national army; and to replace everywhere gradually but surely, military service by civil service.

Our Baha'i religion, with its twelve principles, is therefore. a true religion without creed, super-national and spiritual, without dogmas or clergy. In December, 1917, before I knew about the Baha'i Movement I had published, myself as well as the Reverend Tschirn, the "Religion of the Social Good." In March, 1919, I completed it, adding to it the term, "Scientific Religion. It was not until January, 1921, that, at the home of my son-in-law I came to know of the Baha'i Movement. I wrote directly, to 'Abdu'l-Baha, Who was still living. Then I withdrew my "Scientific Religion of Social Good" as unnecessary in the light of this Movement and I became a Baha'i, like my son-in-law, Dr. A. Brauns.

Certain aspects of spiritual philosophy are strongly my belief. First as regards the term, "God." The term "God" can be interpreted very differently. All monotheistic creeds believe in a single, "All-powerful God." But while some declare Him personal, we Monists look upon Him as representing the Force (metaphysical) of the universe, unknowable to human beings.

There needs to be a harmonizing of these two concepts of God. The teachings of Baha'u'llah are perfectly clear on this subject, and in due time the conceptions of God, so different in different parts of the world and with different temperaments, will adjust themselves to the one true concept.

There are several conditions of utmost importance which Baha'is ought to meet, if they wish to remain scientific. They ought above all to remain super-national and strictly super-ritualistic. They ought, inasmuch as they are Baha'is, not to mix with their Baha'i truths any inherited creeds and beliefs or any other ideas in which error is mixed with truth. They should refrain from metaphysics, from seeking to know the Unknowable; and should occupy themselves wholly with the social good of humanity here on earth.

Confucius said about five hundred years before Christ, "Men of the four seas are all brothers. Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you." And the Roman poet, Terence, about one hundred and seventy years before Christ said, "I am a man and nothing that is human can be foreign to me, I think."

Our duty as Baha'is is not only to speak and think of God, but to be active for the social good.




Forel tells Baha'is not to mix error, "inherited creeds and beliefs" with the truth. Later, Shoghi Effendi translated a letter of Baha'u'llah that contains the same warning, and I cannot resist including here as an addendum.

"As to thy question regarding the sayings of the leaders of past religions. Every wise and praiseworthy man will no doubt eschew such vain and profitless talk. The incomparable Creator hath created all men from one same substance, and hath exalted their reality above the rest of His creatures. Success or failure, gain or loss, must, therefore, depend upon man's own exertions. The more he striveth, the greater will be his progress. We fain would hope that the vernal showers of the bounty of God may cause the flowers of true understanding to spring from the soil of men's hearts, and may wash them from all earthly defilements." (Gleanings, 81-82)

Monday, March 24, 2008


Three Unrelated Topics

By John Taylor; 2008 March 24, 05 Baha, 165 BE


Research Request

A Discovery about the Baha'i Position on Darwinism

Pupil of the eye




Research Request

I am passing on the following research request from Antony Samy. If you can help, contact him directly at: <>

"Happy Naw Ruz. From the history of the Faith, we gather that the Blessed Body of the Bab was hidden for 10 years in the House of Abdullah Pasha, in the room occupied by the Greatest Holy Leaf. I would like to know the exact location where it was hidden, on the wall? under her bed? corner of her room?  I also would like to know (about) any article/paper written regarding the arrival of the Body into the House of Abdullah Pasha. I appreciate your help."


Discovery about the Baha'i Position on Darwinism


My recent interest in the proofs of deity led to a study of the Master's tablet to Dr. Forel, one of His last and most important messages. I mentioned some of my discoveries about Forel in a recent essay called “Targeting the theist worldview," <> Around then, I was prompted to read a short monograph on Forel, and now the following, longer, book-length discussion of Forel's relation to the Faith, which I ordered from the publisher:

John Paul Vader, "For the Good of Mankind, August Forel and the Baha'i Faith," George Ronald, Oxford, 1984

This book corrects several errors and misconceptions about Forel's understanding of the Faith. The earlier monograph states that Forel had been an atheist, based on a mistranslation of the German word for skeptic. Forel started off as an agnostic or deist, and apparently kept up a correspondence with the Guardian for years, which was unfortunately destroyed by his heirs after he died. So it is difficult to be certain what his final beliefs were. After his death in the early 1930's, Shoghi Effendi called him a monist in the following letter,

"At any rate there is no doubt whatever that the well-known Tablet revealed by 'Abdu'l-Baha for him (Forel) had brought a tremendous change in his monistic theories and induced him to accept the Message openly.

"However great the contradictions in Dr. Forel's testament in regard to his attitude towards the Cause we cannot fail but to recognize him as a Baha'i who had but a partial glimpse of the Baha'i Revelation. No one can claim that his knowledge of this Revelation is adequate, especially at this time when the Baha'i Faith is still in the embryonic stage of its development. Dr. Forel was sincere in his convictions but like every human being his comprehension was limited and this was not in his power to change." (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v II, pp. 16-17)

The penultimate paragraph here by the Guardian is especially important, as it applies to us all. It is easy for those of us who have the leisure to read the Writings to imagine that we understand the Faith adequately. We do not, and nobody will for centuries; even the Guardian does not make such a claim, as this sentence implies.

Forel's daughter, Martha Brauns-Forel, was a Baha'i too, a stalwart of the German Baha'i community, who lived through the Nazi scourge. Her father first studied the faith when he was staying with her and her husband.

I still have not finished my little research project on Forel -- I would like to get a hold of some of his non-Baha'i writing, much of which appears fascinating even were he not a Baha'i. His socialistic, Esperantist beliefs will become more important now that the poverty of Friedmanism is becoming obvious even to the fanatic free marketer.

However, I cannot resist sharing now a little discovery made in this book, a short quote from the Master about Darwinism that does not turn up in an Ocean search. It comes from a conversation the Master had with some German fellow that was published in an obscure German-language periodical. I think it is important, concise and covers ground untouched elsewhere. We of course are familiar with Abdu'l-Baha's brief discussions of evolution in Some Answered Questions, including question 49, Growth and Development of the Human Race (SAQ, 191), and question 50, Spiritual Proofs of the Origin of Man (SAQ, 195). But these treat the philosophy of Baha'i belief on its own merits; the following implies that Darwin's theory was intended (as I had begun to suspect from other reading about him, and about the theory's co-discoverer, Wallace) not so much as a scientific theory as an attack by atheists on religion. Anyway, here is what the Master told the German,

"Moses taught that the world was brought into existence in the six days of creation. This is an allegory, a symbolic form of the ancient truth that the world evolved gradually. Darwin can refer to Moses for his theory of evolution. God did not allow the world to come into existence all at once, rather the divine breath of life manifested itself in the commanding Word of God, Logos, which engendered and begot the world. We thus have a progressive process of creation, and not a one-time happening. Moses' days of creation represent time spans of millions of years. From Pythagoras to ibn-i-Sina (known as Avicenna) to the `faithful brother from Basra', through Darwin and to the blessed Manifestations of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, both scholars and Prophets have testified to the progressive creative action of the Logos (divine breath of life). The Darwinian and monistic theories of evolution and the origin of species are not materialistic, atheistic ideas; they are religious truths which the godless and the deluded have unjustifiably used in their campaign against religion and the Bible." (For the Good of Mankind, p. 17)


Pupil of the eye


Here is the latest music video made up by London, Ontario Utube videographer Penny Filias, done in honor of the contributions to American culture by Blacks, called "pupils of the eye."

 The Youtube blurb says, "This video was created to recognize, highlight, and honor the spirit, excellence and achievements of but a few of the many contributions to society made by black people. 'Hats off' to those represented here and those regretfully omitted due to time and space limitations!"

 My only comment is that recent discoveries based on ever deeper investigation of our genome indicate that the human race went through a "bottleneck," that is, the genetic diversity of non-Africans was severely and permanently reduced by at least two natural disasters.

 That means, in my opinion, that in future people of African heritage will be in high demand as breeding stock, since hybrid vigor dictates that the more diversity in one's genetic heritage the more robust the offspring. Every father and mother will be pushing their daughters and sons to marry into an African family in order to bolster their grandchildren's genes against the shock of the pollution and poisons that are assaulting our bodies from every direction. Other studies have reinforced the evidence that we all originally came from Africa. What could be firmer ground for pride of place than the fact that the original of all humans is the black African?



Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Mashriq

Neighborhood Utopia

By John Taylor; 2008 March 22, 03 Baha, 165 BE

All praise be to the Mashriq! The Lotus Temple long ago surpassed the Taj Mahal in number of visitors, and is beginning to rival the Eiffel Tower and other world class tourist magnets. Every day, I pray for a Mashriq, that the day soon will come when one will be built in a neighborhood near me, so I can visit it every morning for dawn prayers. There is a blank space, yearning for this to take its place. Here is the Master's explanation of their effect, spiritually, upon the world:

 "For just as the external world is a place where the people of all races and colors, varying faiths, denominations and conditions come together -- just as they are submerged in the same sea of divine favors -- so, likewise, all may meet under the dome of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and adore the one God in the same spirit of truth; for the ages of darkness have passed away, and the century of light has come. Ignorant prejudices are being dispelled, and the light of unity is shining." (Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation, p. 65-66)

The Mashriq is a dream, life is a dream, and the reality lies beyond; the Mashriq will be a kind of fulcrum that will take us to the utopia hoped for by thinkers throughout the ages. In the following proto-essay, written during the fast, I continued the dream of a neighborhood that would be synchronized to the spirit of the Mashriq.

Neighborhood Spectra

My generation was raised under the shadow of thermonuclear war. We knew we could at any minute be exterminated by the clash of two economic ideologies, communism and capitalism. As a child, my naive questions were: why the death struggle? Why not have the best of both worlds? What would be wrong with a full spectrum economy, with one economy in one location being communistic, another more capitalistic, another socialist, another mixed, and maybe even another based on an aboriginal lifestyle and a hunter-gatherer's diet?

 It seemed silly to argue constantly over freedom versus equality, as if they were mutually exclusive, as if balancing them like two sides of an equation were not inevitable. Another false dichotomy was conformity versus rebellion. Why not take your choice, use a buffet model? Surely that would be more scientific. If you give people a choice among many degrees of freedom or equality, we could evaluate the results and see what works for each kind of personality. Testing might find that one side of the spectrum suits human nature best, but my bet is that the chart would be very scattered, that a variety of different preferences would make for a more productive economy overall, as well as a more satisfying one for the individual.

In fact, the existence of a Mashriq at the center might change the dynamic; why not put the broad spectrum of varied lifestyle and economic choices in the same neighborhood? One apartment building might be communal, with everybody sharing space and facilities, sharing all goods and services in common, while the building next might be designed with the individualist in mind, with separate living areas, independent kitchens, bedrooms, and so forth.

That would give a real choice.

We might find that at one point in our lives it suits us to live a solitary life, free of distractions, and at another we may need to be sociable and cooperative, free of loneliness. Or it may be that one personality type always leans to the communal apartment, while another thrives only in an individualistic arrangement. At least we would know.

Judging by the leanings of my parents, my mother constantly chatting up neighbors and befriending strangers, my father preferring to be alone and friendless, a mixed neighborhood with such choices could become sexually segregated in time. It would be mostly women in the communal condos and mostly men in the discrete, independent domiciles. However, judging by the extremely high mortality rates due to suicide and addiction among senior men living alone, it would seem to be wise to discourage this leaning to isolation in men while they are still young, flexible and habits are being formed. At the same time, it might be beneficial to encourage social butterflies at certain times to buckle down and focus by living alone with their thoughts for a while.

Surely offering a variety of householding styles, starting on the level of families and neighborhoods, would be a good start on a Mashriq inspired utopia. Right now we are living in a private, oligarchic dystopia.

 A recent study found that people are increasingly lonely in the U.S., the place where capitalism, materialism and individualism have the most sway, and where the economy, transport and housing reflect this most directly. One quarter of the population cannot name a trusted confidante, for instance, and this isolation is having a measurable adverse effect on their health. ("Aging and Loneliness: Downhill Quickly?," summarized in Popular Science, April, 2008, p. 78) Another study found that a poor self-image is related to materialism in youths aged 12 to 13 years old, who use "material possessions as a coping strategy for feelings of low self-worth." If their self-esteem was boosted by kind words from an acquaintance, an experiment found, their materialist obsessions could be lifted, albeit briefly, for a day or so. ("Growing up in a material world," in Ibid.) The self-loathing of these children is clearly the result of exposure to advertising, the propaganda machine of unfettered capitalism, long before they were ready for it -- if one is ever ready for systematic mind control by parties who profit from creating false desires, who cut down our self image in order to encourage us to compensate by blind consumption.

The first fruit of every worldview is how it either bolsters or undercuts the identity of those who subscribe to it. Materialism, commercialism, and unfettered capitalism by nature undermine our sense of self-worth. This is perhaps the most persuasive reason why materialism is untenable, psychically as well as environmentally. It undercuts human identity and undermines the freewill, in both individuals and groups.

I have encountered nobody, no thinker or leader of thought more directly concerned with bolstering our high identity and destiny as human beings than Abdu'l-Baha. His genius was to elevate our self-worth, to make us proud of ourselves as creatures of God beloved of God, but not so complacent that we did not desire to act for change. He portrayed the forces of materialism as spent, as products of a former age of heteronomy, what He called "epochs of oppression." He beckons to a new, more intimate relationship with one another, as varied but unified members of one human family.

"We will become as fathers and sons, as brothers and sisters living together in complete unity, love and happiness; for this century is the century of light. It is not like former centuries. Former centuries were epochs of oppression. Now human intellects have developed, and human intelligence has increased. Each soul is investigating reality. This is not a time when we shall wage war and be hostile toward each other. We are living at a time when we should enjoy real friendship." (Promulgation, 222-223)

Abdu'l-Baha is the new Odysseus. His odyssey started not in war but on release from bondage, when He traveled across Europe and America, the breeding grounds of materialism, and gave forth a new vision of who the human is, and what is possible. We are not blind consumers, not citizens of one land but of all lands; we are followers of the light. He did not see America as the soul of materialism; He saw it as the emerging progenitor of a new assurance of how high we can soar. May we live up to the glories He saw in us.

"O ye friends of God! Through the Appearance of the Blessed Perfection the theories are abrogated and the facts established. The time of superficiality is gone by and the cycle of reality hath appeared. One must become the incarnation of Servitude, the personification of Love, the embodiment of Spirituality and the mirror of Mercy." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v2, pp. 430-431)