Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ten Years Ahead

Maybe it's just me, but it seems to me that the Universal House of Justice tends to release compilations and documents and all sorts of wonderful things about ten years before we actually need them.

No. Seriously. Hear me out.

I mean, I realize that my learning curve tends towards the horizontal, but look at it. The compilation on Entry By Troops came out 1994, and when I read it a few weeks later, it was incredible. It was educative, inspiring, visionary, and a whole whack of other awesome adjectives.

Very brief aside: A whole whack? Yeah. Like it whacked me upside the head with all that it pointed out.

Anyways, I read it, studied it, consulted with others about it, and really tried my best to get my head wrapped around a lot of the ideas that were in it. But it wasn't until about 10 years later that it began to be relevant in anything other than a theoretical way.

Tabernacle of Unity? That was released in 2006, and look what happened in 2016. The disparate elements in society became even more schismed, if that's a possible phraseology, than they had been in a very long time. The very desperate need for unity became even more evident than ever.

Over and over again, as I look through recent Baha'i history, this trend of giving us what we need ten years ahead of time just seems to be a real thing and not just my imagination. Whether it's the compilation on the Counsellors, or Women, or Trustworthiness, they all seemed to be there about a decade before it became obvious that we desperately needed to know this stuff. It's like they give us a decade to study before we have to pass the exam.

And so, with each new release, I begin to consult with others, and seriously study what comes out, with an eye to that ten year mark.

So why am I mentioning this? Well, we just received the compilation on the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar back in September of 2017. And while some people call it the compilation on the Temple, I'm not sure that's quite accurate. It's really a lot more than that. It seems to be more about the intimate connection between the Temple and the Baha'i community's service to humanity, this link that joins the concept of both worship and service. And while we all know that it's important, I am wondering what's coming down the line in, oh, about 8 years to which this concept will be pivotal in our communal life. I don't know. I'm really wondering.

And now, just a very short time ago we were given a new compilation of Baha'u'llah's Writings: The Call of the Divine Beloved, a selection of the mystical works of Baha'u'llah.


While we had the eleven valleys, both the Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, in previous translation, it seems that those translations weren't good enough for our upcoming needs. And the emphasis on the mystical? Well, that just fascinates me.

When I look back at a lot of the teaching materials from, say, the 1950s, there was a great emphasis on the social principals, and not a lot on the mystical side of it. In fact, there seemed to be a bit of a prejudice in much of the literature of the time from the generic Baha'i population that sort of pooh poohed anything that wasn't scientific, sort of saying it smacked of superstition. Oh, and this was not a universal. There were definitely some pretty radical things out there in the Baha'i publication world, but this is more of a general overall feeling. And this whole phase of really pushing away anything that might be superstition lasted for quite some time, prayer being a very notable exception to this rule.

But today, with the extreme rise in those who are not interested in religion at all, over 25% of the population here in Canada, according to recent surveys, and the greater divide between those who support science versus those who are seemingly against science, I am wondering why this recent book. I mean, it seems fairly obvious, in a sort of theoretical way, that we need to embrace the overlap between the scientific and the mystical, but I suspect there is far more than that.

I have to wonder what it is.

So this year, from now to the end of the Fast, I will be reading, studying, consulting with friends, and otherwise exploring this new volume, trying to wrap both my head and my heart around these incredibly beautiful teachings.

Already this morning, while reading it through for the first time over coffee, I found myself drifting off in meditative contemplation, thoroughly enchanted by the beauty of the poetry and the sublimity of the ideas. Even a few people around me asked about what I was reading, which doesn't happen all that often.

So, dear Reader, I would really appreciate any thoughts you have on specific sections, passages you feel particularly attracted to, any aspect of this slender volume that you care to share. I feel that we are all at the very beginning of a thrilling new direction for this wonderful Faith of ours, carefully directed by the Universal House of Justice.

And I, for one, am very curious just why it is that they are giving us, at this particular time, so much more stuff about both the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar and the mystical side of the teachings.

Oh, and if you can show how Gems of Divine Mysteries fits into this concept, I'd love to hear it. I mean, that brilliant work was first published in English in 2002, and as you know, it is kind of the Missing Link between the Book of Certitude and the Seven Valleys, so it seems as if they were easing us into this mystical stuff, but I'm sure there's more.

Maybe if I actually finished my coffee this morning, it would make more sense to me.

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