Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hidden teachings

"Lo those many years ago..."  I just love that phrase.  Whenever I think about the time before I embarked upon this wonderful journey of trying to better understand Baha'u'llah's Revelation, it seems like such a distant past.

Ideas seemed more remote.  In retrospect, my vision seems like it was murkier, more clouded.  It was harder to focus, more difficult to decide which actions were appropriate or worthy.  It just seemed so much more difficult to make sense of things around me.

Now, it seems so clear.  I look at things happening around the world, and immediately ask what the spiritual foundation of the issues are.  Then the solutions seem so straighforward, the steps so simple.  Simple, but not easy.  Each step takes a tremendous amount of effort and energy, but the steps are not complex.  In some ways, it is like running a marathon.  Each step on its own is quite simple: one foot in front of the other.  But to run a marathon is not easy.

So there I was, a youth of mid-teen years looking at all the different religions I could.  And a dear friend, every week, would ask me what I had discovered.  Time and again I would share something that had caught my attention and she would praise this new discovery.  Then, with marvelous wisdom, she would show me how that discovery was also found in the other Faiths I was studying.

It was great.

Slowly, over a number of years (did I ever mention that I have a horizontal learning curve?), these seperate religions began to form in my mind's eye as part of a coherent whole.

Of course, every now and then I would be thrown a curve ball, so to speak.

Like the time I was at a fireside in the local Baha'i Centre.  Over the past few months, I had shared with my friend all about these esoteric paths I was looking at.  I won't name them, but I'm sure you can guess at a few.  They all spoke of hidden teachings, and how you had to "rise through the ranks" to be able to understand them.  The promises were great, but the investment, often of time and sometimes of money, was steep.

And then I also noticed that the ego of those who had these "hidden teachings" was also steep.  But I didn't question that at the time.

So there I was, at the local Baha'i Centre (or Center, as it was in the States), and someone had just finished a 20 minute presentation on a subject that held no interest to me.

Traditional aside - Have you ever wondered how this particular format for a fireside developed?  I have.  The Guardian says that the fireside should be a place where the Seeker's "intimate personal questions can be answered".  How does a 20 minute lecture provide for this?  If the talk is not about something that is a question for them, then their "intimate personal questions" seem out of place.  Perhaps if you are aware of their questions ahead of time, you can prepare a talk on that subject, but otherwise isn't it just guesswork?  Or a talk for the joy of the presenter?  Ok.  Traditional aside finished for now.

So there I was, still, at the end of a talk, and my friend brought up a concern that had been concerning for some time.  She lovingly, and concernedly, explained to me that God does not have "hidden teachings".  Everything is out there in the open.  Sometimes we may have to dig for it, like trying to fathom the myriad meanings in the parables of Jesus, but it is all there for us, if only we work at it.

It was a very nice talk.  I hadn't realized that it had been bothering me, but, with great wisdom, she had noticed it and was concerned, in case I hadn't mentioned that yet.  Her explanation was straightforward and clear.  I was convinced.

That out of the way, our conversation became casual again and we spoke of something totally unrelated.  Probably the latest episode of some television show, or a movie that had just come out.

Then, just before we were to call it an evening, I was thrown that proverbial curve ball.  She gave me a copy of a book she thought I would appreciate, one that held within its few pages great wisdom: "The Hidden Words".

I know what you're thinking: Aww, that was so nice of her.

But wait!  I thought God had no hidden teachings!  What's going on here?

Stop laughing.

This was a serious question to me.

I didn't say anything at the time, but it became quite the stumbling block for me for a few months.  So you see, you can never know what will be that stumbling block for someone else.  I mean, sure, it's clear to me now that Baha'u'llah's Words were never hidden from people, but at the time...

I'm just glad that's it's all a bit clearer now.

And yes, you can laugh now, if you really want to.

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