Thursday, December 8, 2011

Question Time

It's another beautiful day here in Victoria. The sky is uniformly overcast. The temperature is sitting just above 0. The wind is blowing at a gentle 20 k. And people are smiling on the street. Yeah. It's a beautiful day.

As there are no real pressing issues that come to mind, I think I'll take some questions from the audience today. I'm just in that kind of a mood.

Yes? You in the red sweater?

"You speak a lot about the importance of both praying and meditating. Can you say a bit more about why meditating is important? I'm not a big fan of it. I find that I just get bored trying to clear my mind."

Absolutely. Excellent question.

There are actually two different things within that question that I want to address. The first is what is meditation. You talk about trying to clear your mind, but that is only one school of meditation. There are many, and we often confuse the transcendental style, to name one, for all meditation. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we look at the concept of conversation with God, as described by 'Abdu'l-Baha, then we readily see that conversation must be two ways. This can be seen as prayer, the talking to God, and meditation, the listening. To be an effective listener, we have to be quiet, for one cannot talk and listen at the same time. So it may not be about trying to clear your mind as much as it is about trying to learn to listen more attentively.

The second question in there is why is that important. To best explain that, I'm going to use the five steps of prayer that are attributed to Shoghi Effendi in a pilgrim's note. He says the first step is to "pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of
contemplation for a few minutes." You will note that he does not list these as two separate steps, but as two parts of the same step. He goes on later in that same piece to say, "Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step."

If we spend time in prayer asking about something, or praying for something, then doesn't it just make sense to stick around for the answer?

Ok, next? You, in the back. Yes, you with the hat. Can you speak up?

"How would you defend the Baha'i Faith's stance towards homosexuality? You say that you are inclusive, and yet you are against homosexuals. How can you reconcile that?"

I'm so glad you asked that. First, though, I'm not in a position to defend anything. In order to defend, you have to perceive that you are under attack. Asking a cogent question is in no way an attack. At least, I don't see it that way. Besides, I think the defense of the Faith is best left up to the Institutions.

If you want to see the Baha'i "stance" on homosexuality, then there are a few different things you need to look at. I won't try to convince you that you have to agree, but I will say that the laws of the Baha'i Faith are only for Baha'is. We do not, and are not allowed to, impose them on those who do not accept Baha'u'llah as a Messenger of God.

That being said, people confuse the fact that homosexuality is not recognized as a legitimate action within the Baha'i community with the idea that we persecute homosexuals. Aside from a few Baha'is who have misunderstood what the Writings say, and are themselves, to say the least, homophobic, most of us have no problem with homosexuality. I mean, really. It's between two consenting adults who have come to their own decisions in their lives, right?

As Baha'is, we are actually encouraged to defend human rights whenever and wherever necessary. As I've said many times in the past, if someone is not a member of the Baha'i community, then I will defend their right to engage in a homosexual relationship, with full equality under the law. It is unjust that partners of many decades do not have the right to visit their invalid partner in hospital when they are dying. It is unjust that people who have remained faithful to each other for years are not allowed to do with their possessions as they please in their wills. I could go on with many other specifics, but it is enough to say that there are many basic rights that I believe we should all have access to, regardless of our sexual orientation, and I will defend these rights to the best of my ability, which isn't all that great, as this blog shows. But nevertheless, I will try.

And then there is the other side of that same coin. What if they are a Baha'i? Well then they have agreed to a covenant with Baha'u'llah. They have agreed to follow His laws and obey His institutions. At this point, it would be rather silly for them to say that they believe He is a Messenger of God, but that they know better in one area or another. They would be saying that they know better than God, which is, of course, absurd.

But please remember, if they don't believe that He is from God, than there isn't any issue. They are not bound by His laws. These laws are not a social contract by which all must live. They are agreed upon with conscious recognition on the part of the believer.

If someone has a set list of criteria by which they judge different Faiths, and the Baha'i Faith does not satisfy that list, then I would just tell them not to enroll as a member of the community. There's no problem. This is what free-will is all about.

If someone has this set list, and they go on to attack anyone who has a different list, or attack a Faith that doesn't agree with them, then I would contend that they have an issue. They are attempting to deny someone else their free-will.

Just the other day I had someone verbally attack me because I believed in God. They somehow thought that my belief in God was an affront to them, and went on to attack me for it. I really had no idea why, especially as I did not initiate the conversation. They went on to do me exactly what they were accusing other people of faith of doing to others. It was kind of sad and ironic at the same time.

So, once again (and I have to admit that I'm getting rather tired of repeating this), I will defend the social and human rights of homosexuals just as I will anyone else. Just because they are gay does not make them any less human.

Well, I thought I'd have time for one more question, but this post seems to be getting rather long. Maybe I'll do this again sometime soon, for there are a few other hands raised politely out there.


  1. I think what is sad and ironic is when one askes others for opinions, by having a blog for example, and then they feel "verbally attacked" when they feel challleged or disagree with what is said - or if you were in public and this occurred. You're going to be tested when you advocate a belief system. There is no confusion on what the Baha'i faith believes about homosexuality. Yes Mead, other religions are just as guilty in this regard, but we're talking about Baha'i'. Now, if you want to be a reformer of the faith than that's excellent. It must be hard after 25 years of being a member to realize there are shortcomings in your faith. You've put so much of yourself into this belief. Don't be like a gambler who just throws in all his chips because he's invested so much. You still can walk away with something...I messing with you. Believe what you wish of course. I think the Easter Bunny is real! The statistical data indicates more believe in him than in the Baha'i' faith. Go figure. Anyway, it was not my intention to mess with your curls and get you into a mood. In sorry if I offended you and best of luck. Goodbye!

  2. Oh, please accept my apologies, "Me". It was not you that "attacked" me, and I really hope that I did not convey that. If I did, that was wrong of me. Sorry.

    No, actually I was in public, at one of the craft shows selling my jewelry. For some reason during this time, a few different people were a bit out of line. I think it must have been the show, and the sort of people that were attracted to it. It was just generally weird.

    Actually, your comments in the previous post were most welcome. They made me smile (and wonder who you are).

    Anyways, I don't think of the Baha'i laws as a shortcoming. I accept that there are many things that I just don't know about. Just this evening Shoghi asked me how gluons work. I have to admit that I was a bit stumped with this, especially coming from a 6 year old.

    Nah. There are a few things within the Baha'i teachings that I will not profess to understand, but I have come to accept that Baha'u'llah's perspective is better than my own. That is the reason I'm a Baha'i. If someone doesn't think that Baha'u'llah's perspective is better, than I would encourage them not to become Baha'i. It's really that simple. I don't think I'm any better than anyone else for this perspective, just a Baha'i.

    If for a moment I didn't think this, than I would resign from the Faith and walk away with no hard feelings. The fact that I'm still in means that I still believe it.

    As for the Easter Bunny...


  3. Dear Mead, this was an excellent post! Your explanation about homosexuality was one of the most eloquent and well-expressed I have ever read. Myriads of thanks and keep up the great work!

  4. Are you trying to defeat me with kindness and humility? Well, I'm glad it wasn't my words that bothered you as my only intention was to slap you around a bit - figuratively of course. Now let me get this straight, you are a follower of Baha'i because its perspective is better than your own? You have got to be kidding me. You have a triple digit IQ and this is your reasoning? I almost get the impression that Baga'i is the "best of the bunch" that you can discern from so that's the reason for your choice. I think you're a sucker for sweet words, you write well yourself. Why not be a Sufi if you like poetry and love? Better yet have you read about Jiddu Krishnamurti? Anyway, it doesn't's your choice and I think your an exception in religion. You are different than I thought. Don't let it get to your head though. Take care Mead. Peace.

  5. Lol. Yeah, kindness and humility work all the time.

    Yes, you basically have it right. My IQ may be above 100, but I'm not so egotistical that I think I know best. In fact, that's why I went to university. I recognized that my teachers there knew more than I did. I went there to learn from them.

    As for "best of the bunch", well, sure. That's one way to put it. It seems to me that all the major faith groups, all the Messengers of God, are quite awesome in their own way. baha'i is the one that put them all into a coherent sense for me, and Baha'u'llah's explanations of the world are the ones that work best, at least for me. And so when He says He's a Manifestation of the Divine, and proves it to my satisfaction, then I go with it. To do otherwise would be silly to me.

    Thanks for the praise of my "sweet words", and yes, I love poetry. And as much as I love Rumi, among others, I don't believe they were divine. I just think they were inspired in their art. Same with Krishnamurti. A great philosopher, but not so revolutionary as to transform the planet.

    I may be an exception in the Baha'i community, but I sincerely hope not. I meet more and more Baha'is who think in this way every time I go to a new gathering. It's very refreshing.

    And if I ever let it go to my head, please call me on it. Then I need to be taken down a notch. Or, as my son would say, taken outside and tickled.

    Peace on ya, too.

  6. Oh! I almost forgot. I came to make a comment because I wanted to add this link. It's one of the best blog articles I've read in a very long time.