Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Four Directions

I have written a little bit about a lot of different passages from the Baha'i writings, but I realize that I have never written about The Four Valleys.

Why not?

Well, dear Reader, I think it was because I never had anything to say about it. But just the other day, I was reading it again, and decided to talk about it with my son. This is always a good thing, as he is only twelve right now. By talking with him, he gets me to think about it in very simple terms. For those you who have been reading my blog for years, you have seen many of the conversations I have had with the little guy and know that one of the most challenging things in the world is to try and explain the writings to a child. Even at twelve, it's still no different. Of course, it's no different when talking with an adult, too. Now I have an even greater admiration for Baha'u'llah and how He must have felt trying to explain things to us.

Anyways, the Four Valleys.

Aside - As if I didn't take one already. Heck, I haven't even begun the main point of this article yet! But I'll do an aside anyways. I've noticed over the years that, as a general rule, which means that there are exceptions, of course, so don't write me telling me that you're the exception, just pat yourself on the back and move on, that women tend to prefer the Four Valleys while it seems most men prefer the Seven. And I don't think it's a size issue. I think it's because the Seven Valleys is very linear. You go from one to two to three and so on. The Four Valleys is not. And it is this linearity that most men seem to like, while women tend to prefer the more holistic approach in the Four. And maybe, just maybe, that might be the reason I haven't written about it before now.

Aside from the aside - Wow, was I wrong. It seems that I have written about this little book before now. In fact, I have written two whole articles about it. The first time was when my wife was sitting with me and explained her thoughts on it. I thought they were wonderful enough thoughts to write down, and so I did. Re-reading them just now, I find that I have to agree with myself. They are wonderful  thoughts The second time was a little more of a look at the fourth valley. And now that I have re-read these two articles, I find that what I want to say is even more appropriate, for I have some more ideas on this little text.

Ok, so where was I? Right. The Four Valleys.

This time, looking at it afresh, there are some other things that I noticed. Plus there is the way I talked with my son about it.

In our conversation, I pointed out that the four valleys are not sequential, but rather identify four different approaches that we can take to try and approach our Creator. Of course, it's not really our Creator that we are approaching, but rather the Manifestation of God, which is about as close as we can get.

Anyways, the first is through understanding your self, your true self. By looking within, you can find the traces of God. This is found in many different faith traditions and beliefs. The very concept of being created in the image of God is based on this idea, and there are many quotes from all sorts of sacred teachings, including Baha'i, that support this.

The second method is through the rational. You can find God through your study of the sciences, or any other rational methodology. This is a great way to understand the world around you, and approach God.

The third is by your intuition. This method defies rationalization. You can actually find God through your feelings, trusting in your intuition. There are many people who have come close to their Creator through this method.

The fourth, which is regarded as the best of the four, is through a combination of the previous three.

Why would this be the considered the best? And if it is the best, then that  seems to imply that there are some issues with the previous three. And if there are, then why hasn't He mentioned those concerns? Perhaps it is because He doesn't want to condemn any method of getting nearer to God or risk dissuading anyone from their preferred method. Maybe He is more concerned with ensuring that everyone begins on this path than insisting on this fourth path. After all, it is always easier to steer a car that is moving, as opposed to one that is standing still. And therefore maybe, just maybe, His primary concern here is to just get us moving on one of these paths.

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