Thursday, October 09, 2008

Principle, the Magnet of Polity

Magnet of Polity

By John Taylor; 2008 Oct 09, 12 Mashiyyat 165 BE

This blog lately featured powerful words of Baha'u'llah discussing "entities of a new Creation." These entities result from a profound revolutionary transformation going on simultaneously in this world and the realm of Spirit. Like a pure, illumined mirror, the spiritual world reflects light into this dark material realm, and with the arrival of the Word both spiritual and material at once are upset, reconnect and come together utterly changed. Front and center to this, Baha'u'llah lays heavy emphasis on several simple aphorisms, such as, "this earth is but one country" and "ye are all the leaves of one tree and the fruit of one branch." By such slogans Baha'u'llah taught that the bond between humans is primarily a condition of a greater Oneness radiating out from One God to an invisible world, one of spirit and absolute truth. All that we see in the material world is an outcome of this underlying Oneness. Baha'u'llah warned:

"Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth." (Gleanings, 24)

The world is in such crisis now because lesser unities, like iron filings placed in proximity to a magnet, must be torn apart and re-orient themselves around the highest unity, the unity of God. This means simultaneous destruction and reconnection, as expressed in Heraclitus's aphorism,

"The way up and the way down are one and the same." (Fragment. 60)

From a purely socio-political point of view these unity statements lay the groundwork for a new and, for the first time, universal basis of unity, the oneness of all humankind. This new kind of unity is creating a form of governance that Aristotle termed "polity." A polity comes into being when individuals and groups, the one, the few and the many learn to subordinate their own limited interests, eschew partisan loyalties and place first and foremost the interests of the whole, the entire political entity.

Abdu'l-Baha helped us understand this by asking that we imagine "circles of unity" or "circles of love" radiating out from the self to the family, the neighbourhood, the city, the nation, and finally the whole world, and then back again. These circles of love are all imperfect and inadequate on their own. For example, love of self can fail when a person despairs and commits suicide; unity of race is flawed because one often sees members of the same race hate one another; love of family is not enough because relatives are known to kill one another, and so forth. However when the circles of love and unity connect with the hidden but powerful magnetic fields of the great invisible magnet of reality, the Word or Logos, a single pattern emerges that is harmonious and beautiful, each circle complementing and aiding the circles beside it. This is what the Guardian called the Polity of Baha'u'llah, in other words, the Baha'i principles.

The two poles orienting this polity magnet, its north and south, are the two pivotal principles, the investigation of reality and the oneness of humanity. When everything aligns with these unseen lines of force radiating between these two principles, chaos, weakness and conflict disappear and "entities of a new creation" fall into place naturally. The individual seeker is sincere, as Aeschylus put it, "His resolve is not to seem the bravest, but to be." My resolve is not to display truth for particular ends, but to be true to the reality I discover. At the same time the interest of all humankind is not seen as a mindless machine but rather the direct outcome and expression of the Will of a divine, loving Creator.

Without the spiritual foundation of the Oneness of God, polity would be inconceivable. None but the Divine Mind can understand what we, limited in time and space, view only in narrow, flawed and finite terms. Ours is but to orient ourselves in our own search to the needs of God and all humanity, and remain steadfast and confident that such alignment is orienting more and more individuals around the planet in the same way.

I want to end with what I think is an apposite description in his own words of how one of the founders of modern science, Rene Descartes, set about his own program of reform.


from: Descartes, Discourse on Method, p. 37

(No reformer demolishes a whole town's streets and buildings) rebuilding them in a different way to make the streets more beautiful; but one does see many people knock down their own in order to rebuild them, and that even in some cases they have to do this because the houses are in danger of falling down and the foundations are insecure.

With this example in mind, I felt convinced that it would be unreasonable for an individual to conceive the plan of reforming a State by changing everything from the foundations up and by overthrowing it in order to set it up again, or even to reform the body of the sciences or the order established in our schools for teaching it, but that, on the other hand, as far as all the opinions I had accepted hitherto were concerned, I could not do better than undertake once and for all to be rid of them in order to replace them afterwards either by better ones, or even by the same, once I had adjusted them by the plumb-line of reason.

And I firmly believed that, by this means, I would succeed in ordering my life much better than if I built only on old foundations and leaned on principles inculcated in me in youth without having ever examined them to see if they were true."

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