|'Abdu'l-Baha at the Kinney Home|
I would love to have been at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward B. Kinney at 780 West End Avenue, New York, on December 2nd, 1912, when 'Abdu'l-Baha spoke these words through a translator:
"You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind.
Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God.
Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities.
Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction.
Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another.
Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good.
You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable.
You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly.
Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred.
Let not your heart be offended with anyone.
If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.
Do not complain of others.
Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer.
Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts.
Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart.
Assist the world of humanity as much as possible.
Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity.
Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity.
Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Bahá’í."
Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman, co-authors of the book "'Abdu'l-Baha in New York," write:
"By the 1900’s American Bahá’ís generally approached the Faith in two different ways. One group understood sacred scripture to be the absolute and only standard for knowing and understanding truth. The other group—especially prominent in the case of New York City—were people who tended to have highly developed personal ideas regarding society, spiritual truth, and politics, and who emphasized their own personal experience as a guide to belief rather than scripture or church. The New York Bahá’ís were made up of successful businessmen, artists, and writers, who tended to have confidence in their own views. These Bahá’ís held numerous beliefs that were ‘alternatives’ to church teaching, Biblical teaching, and the Bahá’í Writings, with which many were not yet familiar since few Writings were actually available to them."I cannot help but feel that there was a true sense of excitement in those days in hearing the teachings of Baha'u'llah. They were dramatically different than what was being taught by the Christian churches of that day. Many of the early Baha'is were members of more "unorthodox" Christian communities and spiritualist societies of the day. Many were Unitarian Universalists or Theosophists. Some came from a spiritualist background - leaving their seances to hear the "Master."
In the early years of the 1900's there was a spiritual hunger amongst the wealthier classes of New York - although conservative in appearance, many of these early believers and seekers were very liberal. Looking for ways to break down the walls of prejudice, to revolutionize the political and social climate that segregated the races and denied women the right to vote. The Master came from the Middle East with a revolutionary message of harmony and unity.
Since those days the Baha'i Faith has taken on a rather right-wing evangelical persona. Now in the 21st Century the teachings are still as profound as they always were - but, unfortunately, to my way of thinking - they have become secondary to the clearly proclaimed agenda of the "so called" ruling body of the Baha'i Faith, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ); to increase membership and to work collectively toward a new world order; a world government.
Baha'u'llah and to a greater extent, his son 'Abdu-l-Baha did not speak in such heavy political tones. Their idea of world transformation was to be at the individual level, in the heart and mind of each believer. The government was to be "of the people, by the people," not a kind of super power that sits on a mountain top (Haifa, Israel) making rules for the masses!!!
The Baha'i Faith is in danger of imploding on itself. It's behavior from the top down has been increasingly dogmatic and restrictive. The letters and correspondence from the UHJ, albeit written in flowery language and gross hyperboles "The Most Great this.....and the Most Prestigious that...." serve to give believers the impression that their "proclamations" are in reality infallible "revelations." They would not come out and say this - but it is not hard to infer from their general tone.
So, like many other Baha'is that have either left the Faith altogether, or who identify themselves as "Unenrolled" - I feel that it is time for the first restoration or re-formation of the Baha'i Faith. In the spirit of the first councils of the ancient Christian Church - that re-affirmed the "Orthodox" teachings and sought to eradicate or suppress the heresies and false doctrines that were emerging - it is time to do the same with the pure teachings of the Baha'i Faith.
It seems that the beliefs of the current Baha'i Faith are not the truths of the original teachings of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha, and I feel that they do not match their original intention, they are being diluted by the institutions that were originally designed to protect them. In my opinion, much of what is being taught by the Baha'i Institutions is an attempt to undermine the "individual investigation of truth," which is one of the foundational principles of the Baha'i Faith.
O SON OF SPIRIT!
"The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes." - "The Hidden Words," Arabic #2
Baha'u'llah taught that all religions are one. 'Abdu'l-Baha affirmed that to be a Baha'i was "to love the whole world." But what is being very subtly taught through the Baha'i Institutions is that all religions need to be replaced by the Baha'i Faith. The teachings that have come directly from Baha'u'llah and written down as he revealed them; the teachings that have been expounded upon in great wisdom by the appointed exemplar, 'Abdu'l-Baha, are now being transformed into rigid dogmas and doctrines. The truth of experience is being substituted by beliefs.
If the New York Baha'is of 1912 were to attend a Baha'i meeting today, I cannot help but think that they would be very disappointed at the somber and serious political tone of a "19 day feast."
What a shame that truth so beautiful has become blind belief.