The universe is made up of stories, not of atoms.
Five Kingdoms
Elaborations of Some Points Lighthouse
Elaborations of Some Points
Mark A. Foster, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology, Johnson County Community College
This paper has been replaced by:
The Five Kingdoms Model.
Moving Rule

Introduction

The narrative spirituality of Five Kingdoms2, a conversation, will be explored in this paper. Yet, it should be noted at the outset that the term, mythic3, is here used, in its common academic sense, as a wholly neutral designation for sacred stories, and not as a deprecative reference to fiction or fairytales. In mythopoeia, the process of myth-making, we read the homiletic stories contained in sacred scriptures, localize them into their relevant contexts, relate them to our own personal stories, and, finally, retell them to others through both conversation and performance.

To be clear, Five Kingdoms™ operates outside al-dīn (the religion) and al-sharʿīʾa (the prescription) of both Islām and Ṣūfism. It is an informal interest group. Furthermore, within the Baháʾí Faith (ad-Dīn Bahāʾī or “al-Bahāʾīyah”), two of the prevalent foundations for Ṣūfī authority – al-salāsil (plural of al-silsilah), for chains of sacerdotal governance, and al-ʿUwaysīān (plural of al-ʿUwaysī), for the ʿirfānī (gnōstic) transmission of ḥikmat (theosophia) through an intercession of the saints – have been superseded by an ʿahd ilāhī (divine covenant) which, established by Baháʾuʾlláh, is centered upon ʿAbduʾl-Bahá and canalized into the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice.

Absent, whether pertaining to Five Kingdoms, a private and unofficial Baháʾí-oriented activity, or operating inside the substructure of the worldwide administrative and teaching agencies of the larger Baháʾí community, are a hierocracy (clerical polity) and its instrumentalities, whether al-iʿtirāf (the confession of sins), al-zuhd (asceticism), al-faqr (mendicancy or beggary, i.e., the practices of al-darāwīsh or the dervishes), al-ijāzat (the permission to teach), al-karāmāt (charismatic thaumaturgy), and the giving of one’s bayʿah (hand of allegiance) or ʿahd (covenant) to a shayh (elder), pīr (also elder), murshid (guide), or sarkār (chief agent). In the Baháʾí Faith, al-ʿulamā (plural of al-ʿālim for the learned, scholars, or divines) have been thoroughly divested of any legislative or interpretive magisterium.

Once again, Five Kingdoms is not  Ṣūfī, but it has been influenced by Ṣūfism. It is rooted in a broadly defined Islāmicate, namely, an Islāmic sociocultural, and particularly linguistic, context. Additionally, while Ṣūfī ṭurqut (paths) have remained controversial within many sectors of the Islāmic world, and are even illegal in such countries as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, some elements of the charisma of Taṣawwuf ("Ṣūfism") appear to hve been routinized (institutionalized, normatized, and legitimated) in the Baháʾí Faith. Indeed, one common Ṣūfī practice, dhikr (remembrance through the māntric repetition of sacred words), has been made an obligatory component of the Baháʾí sharʿīʾa. Moreover, Baháʾu'lláh Himself lived for a time as the Ṣūfī, Darwīsh Muḥammad, at a zāwiyah (Persian/Fārsī, hānqāh, and Turkish, takka) – a lodge or hospice (possibly run by a branch of the Naqshbandīyah order) – in the mountains of Sulaimānīyah.

Baháʾuʾlláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Baháʾí Faith, wrote (Prayers and Meditations. Page 80.), "Open Thou, O my Lord, mine eyes and the eyes of all them that have sought Thee, that we may recognize Thee with Thine own eyes." Given the eclipse of a priestly class in the Baháʾí Sacred Texts, al-tafsīr (exegesis) and al-ta'wīl (analogue or esoteric interpretation) exercised by an individual carries no religious authority. Rather, each soul can, through an immersion in al-waḥyu ilāhī al-kalima (the divine Revelation of the Word), independently uncover the standpoint epistemologies and narratives of the Prophets.

Five Kingdoms, in its aqidah (theology), can be related to emerging movement4 (or emergent movement). However, to be more precise, the path (arīqah or, Persian, Hindī, Uruū and Turkish arīqat) reflects a reframing, a recontextualization, of the theologically progressive arm of that movement. The term emergence, found within academic and other contexts, refers here to an intentional cultivation of new social structures, or sets of social norms (rules of behavioral conduct), which are simultaneously centered on an emancipatory teleology (purposefulness), actively constructed by moral agents, and historically and culturally grounded in a postmodern, poststructural, and critical pragmatist context.

The roots of the emerging movement, anchored in the emerging culture of postmodernity, lie in Emergent Village and, more broadly, in the emerging church, a postmodern Christian ecclesiastical style and mode of religious discourse and praxis. The diverse manifestations of this movement and similar perspectives span the liberal-to-conservative Christian theological spectrum and have even extended to other religious traditions. Structurally, the theological and hierological characteristics of Five Kingdoms are common to many of thee movement’s progressive manifestations: postmodernism, poststructuralism, contemplative and other alternative forms of spirituality, postliberal or Yale school (narrative) theologies, postcritical theologies, and theologies of liberation.

Normatively, the considerably diverse Christian congregations which identify with the emerging movement run the doctrinal gamut from liberal to conservative and encompass Protestant (in the broad sense), Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox confessions. Nevertheless, since Five Kingdoms has its strongest, and its principal, affinity for that movement’s seminal Emergent Village – a network of local Christian groups which lies substantially on the progressive end of the hermeneutic, or interpretive, and ecclesiological spectra – the term emergent, rather than emerging, has been utilized by the arīqah.

Even as the majority of the emerging movement, including Emergent Village, presents one or another variety of Christianity, similar postmodern approaches, whether intentionally derivative or only ostensibly so, can be witnessed within Judaism, Islām, ascension (a category of new-age thought), and the world peace movement. Indeed, the mere appropriation by Five Kingdoms of the emergent model and, by extension, a narrative (postliberal) approach to scripture is not, in itself, especially noteworthy.

Additionally, Five Kingdoms is a Baháʾí deepening process, a study circle5 proposal, and a deconstructive and constructive narrative spirituality6. It advocates a radically inclusive conversation on texts, contexts, and subtexts, while avoiding the supposed propositional pretexts for immutable verities, and it centers on the absolute sovereignty of God. According to divine command theory, God’s decree is good only because He wills it. Since there is, in the eyes of God, no virtue apart from His omnipotent Will or Teleology, good and evil function, not as fixed eternal essences or ideal forms, but as names for the commands, the Cause of God, resulting from His Will.

Furthermore, Five Kingdoms constitutes a strictly personal Baháʾí-focused publication. The views expressed here, reflecting the inevitably flawed perspectives and understandings of an individual Baháʾí, should not, under any circumstances, be regarded as definitive or unchallengeable accounts of Baháʾí doctrine. For official information on the Baháʾí Faith and on the worldwide Baháʾí community, of which this writer is a part, you are strongly encouraged to visit the website of the Baháʾí International Community.

Hosted on The Baháʾí Studies Web Server™, Five Kingdoms™ is an activity of The MarkFoster.NETwork™. The model consolidates my decades of reflections on the views of four departed Baháʾís and my revisionings of their philosophies from a non-Platonic, perspective. It was initially designated Alethionomy, then The Reality Sciences, followed by Structurization Tech, and later, Structurizing.

Of these four individuals, two of them, Marian Crist Lippitt of York, Maine, and Henry A. Weil of suburban St. Louis, Missouri, were, through a third, Elizabeth Thomas of Manhasset, New York (and later, Bermuda, St. Vincent, and Hawaii), known personally to me. The fourth, H. Emogene Hoagg (Henrietta Emogene Martin Hoagg from California), was deceased in December, 1945, eleven years and two months in advance of my birth.

Five Kingdoms was expanded out of a continuation of the original version I maintained of the official website for The Foundation for the Investigation of Reality™ (FIR). Administered by an annually elected board of trustees, on which I once served, FIR is a registered not-for-profit and tax-exempt membership organization. It was formerly The Foundation for the Science of Reality (FSR). Information furnished by FIR, first, was integrated into much of the historical data presented on this page pertaining to H. Emogene Hoagg and Marian C. Lippitt and, second, contained the communication cited from the American National Spiritual Assembly.

One of the principal objectives of FIR, now disbanded, was to preserve and enhance a Master Index of the English-language Writings of the Baháʾí Faith and other texts. That Index was conceived by Lippitt and developed by her, until her 1984 passing, along with with a staff of trained volunteers. After participating in the the indexing process, the majority of them, it is reported, experienced a spiritual transformation.

In a letter dated January 27, 1992, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʾís of the United States addressed FIR:

The National Assembly feels that the information compiled in the Worlds of God Undex is valuable and agrees that the data should be stored permanently in computer files. In addition, the cards themselves are important archival materials that need to be preserved properly.... We commend your desire to continue working on the index, thereby rendering a distinctive service to the Cause of God.

I begin, however, with Thomas, my dear and beloved spiritual mother (i.e., the first Baháʾí I met), who formulated a novel approach to delivering workshops (earning her, by her own account, the nickname, the chart woman). Selectively combining her understandings with those of Lippitt and Weil, she examined "reality," the worlds of God, the powers of the soul, and Bible prophecy.

Regrettably, Thomas died in 1991, to my recollection, having never published her researches, and I have been unable to locate any of the few letters she sent me. Our exhaustive tête-à-têtes, often daily or several times a day over many years, were conducted almost entirely over the telephone. She would, in these conversations, patiently encourage me to cultivate original Baháʾí deepening activities without necessarily mirroring her own, Lippitt’s, or Weil’s conclusions. Needless to say, I remain, decades later, profoundly grateful to my dear friend, Elizabeth.

Furthermore, Thomas was, it appeared to me, an almost tirelessly generous person. Aside from putting up with my daily, sometimes hourly, phone calls, she paid for Marian Lippitt’s graduate studies from California Pacific University (approved by the State of California but regionally unaccredited), and, during her lifetime, she never, in her humility, wanted this fact to be disclosed. Although Lippitt received the M.A., she unfortunately died shortly before she would have received her Ph.D. degree, and, consistent with university policies, it was never awarded posthumously.

I turn briefly to Hoagg (1869-1945), an erudite woman who served in the household of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Son of the Prophet-Founder of the Baháʾí Faith, Baháʾu'lláh. In 1938, she published an outline of Baháʾí sources, revised from the previous year, entitled Conditions of Existence: Servitude, Prophethood, Deity. Then, in 1943, just two years prior to her death, she taught the outline to Lippitt.

Marian Lippitt subsequently developed her Science of Reality into an applied experiential program, still in operation, called Successful Self Direction® (SSD) and, with the assistance of a criminologist, tested it on juvenile offenders. She also served as "general consultant" for The Comprehensive Deepening Program and provided much of its original material.

Anecdotally, I met and chatted with Lippitt in Thomas' home and during a visit, with Thomas, to the Green Acre Baháʾí School. Lippitt and I also corresponded through the mail. I later began her indexing course, but I was probably too young for it. Instead, I spent my time building my own Worlds of God compilationr.

Weil, for his part, wrote Closer Than Your Life Vein (studies in souls, spirits, and minds), Drops from the Ocean (practical explanations of various Baháʾí texts), and Wealth Without Gold (elaborations of Closer than Your Life Vein in a series of privately distributed booklets). In 1971, after having recently embraced the Baháʾí Faith (December 31, 1970), I attended a study class, facilitated by Thomas, on Wealth Without Gold.

On one or two occasions, I had encouraged Weil to consider a literary collaboration with Lippitt. While he agreed with me that such a partnership could be fruitful, they did not, to my knowledge, ever make contact.

Finally, as chairman of the Mississippi District Teaching Committee (early-to-mid 1980s), a body devoted to the propagation of the Baháʾí Faith, I successfully negotiated for Weil to be among the featured speakers at the statewide summer school. Since having met twice in Thomas' home, it was our first face-to-face encounter in about a decade and the final one before his death in 1984.

Language

As God has a free Will, so each person has, absent whatever limitations God may elect to impose and accounting for any circumscription by preexisting sociocultural constraints, a free will agency, as well. The individual’s prerogative is whether to conform to one’s the human will posited by Max Stirner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, and Aleister Crowley, or to the divine Will. In the latter case, although one continues to acknowledge one’s own will, without attempting to suppress it, one deliberately chooses a path of surrender to the Will of God. Five Kingdoms is, in brief, the orthopraxy of virtuous living.

If it were God’s Will, the entire recorded Revelation of Baháʾuʾlláh, or any portions thereof, could be discarded, much as He Himself was reported to have destroyed certain of His Writings. It is God and His Will, not His relative constructions of reality or revelational language games, which should command our loyalty. Revelation, the Logos, is dependent on the Will of God; and His Will, or Covenant, takes precedence over His Word, or Revelation, and His Cause, or Commission.

It is evident that the changes brought about in every Dispensation constitute the dark clouds that intervene between the eye of man’s understanding and the divine Luminary which shineth forth from the dayspring of the divine Essence. Consider how men for generations have been blindly imitating their fathers, and have been trained according to such ways and manners as have been laid down by the dictates of their Faith. Were these men, therefore, to discover suddenly that a Man, Who hath been living in their midst, Who, with respect to every human limitation, hath been their equal, had risen to abolish every established principle imposed by their Faith - principles by which for centuries they have been disciplined, and every opposer and denier of which they have come to regard as infidel, profligate and wicked, - they would of a certainty be veiled and hindered from acknowledging His truth.
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Kitāb-i-īqān, pages 73-74

There is no direct correspondence between words and realities. Even the divine Word, the Logos, constitutes an epistemically contingent transmission of God’s Will to His servants. Consequently, all descriptions of worlds or kingdoms, and of the content and ordering of spiritual conditions and substances, are axiological. They are predesigned to convey to us, through sequences of literary symbol pictures, a series of pedagogical morality plays. That is to say, Baháʾuʾlláh is the divine Educator, not the divine theologian, and His utterances are principally pragmatic and remedial, not metaphysical.

Numerous approaches to scriptural hermeneutics have been devised. The revealed Word, the transmission of the knowledge of God, might be compared with a driver; historicism, the Prophetic ecology of the dialectical God-Man and His Revelation situated in their original cultural, historical, bodily, and linguistic environments, to the vehicle; and religous ecology (or cultural syncretism), the recontextualizations of the revealed Word into multiple normative environments, to the destination.

A distinction can, therefore, be drawn between religion as divine construction (Revelation) and religion as social construction. The first, Prophetic ecology, is the proclamation of the Word of God, the Logos, or the Teachings of an embodied Messenger to a peculiarized cultural, historical, and physical audience. The second, designated as religious ecology, is a fundamentally human phenomenon.

From the standpoint of religious ecology, revealed religions do not operate in a vacuum. Rather, as the extraordinary charisma of the Prophet is routinized, or institutionalized, in diverse cultural settings, a dynamic interplay occurs between the original Revelation and the social structures of the individuals and groups which receive it. One may then speak of multiple Judaisms, Buddhisms, Christianities, Islams, Baháʾí faiths, etc.

Ergo, the Baháʾí faith in Iran is not precisely the Baháʾí faith in the United States. In the latter, the Baháʾí Faith has been commingled, among diverse persons and groups, with elements of Protestantism, the New Age Movement, New Thought, the Enlightenment project, and other systems of thought. While this religious ecology is inevitable, as Baháʾís refashion their understandings of their literature and as their social situations change, their Baháʾí faiths will also presumably undergo modification.

Acknowledging that narratives are inexact and perspectival (as with the Jain doctrine of anakanta, illustrated by the parable of the blind men and the elephant), allowing for diverse, even contradictory, divine and human reality constructions, one should simultaneously recognize, even advocate and celebrate, a radical multidoxy or polydoxy of variegated Baháʾí faiths. These groups, some which even function presently, would consist of Baháʾís who, while accepting the authority of the Baháʾí primary sources, may differ in their relative understandings of, or approaches to, certain substantive issues. By the same token, one should also have reason to expect a similarly radical orthopraxy of covenantal obedience.

Indeed, heresy (Greek, hairesis) is presented throughout the Christian New Testament, not as the benign presence of alternative beliefs, but as the self-willed promotion of malignant division. It may even be said that common views of heresy as heterodoxy, serving as they do to divide believers on the basis of doctrinal distinctives, are themselves isomorphic with New Testament usages of hairesis!

Moreover, since language, à la différance (from Jacques Derrida, discoursive "meaning" as simultaneously present and in continual process), expresses only an accidental or intentional relationship with particulars and their categories or connections, a linguistic contradiction is indeed a contradiction. Likewise, the frameworks and taxonomies narrated in each omnibus Revelation ought to be approached as contextual and constructed realities, historically relative treatments of relationships between the attributes of particulars, and language games, not as concrete metaphysical systems. Thus, the inevitable contradictions between, often within, certain faith-based scriptures can only be resolved, if ever, in the linguistic texts of religiously authorized interpreters.

For instance, in Baháʾuʾlláh’s revisioning of the Persian poet `Aṭṭār’s Conference of the Birds, The Seven Valleys, we are presented with one such language game. While engaging in its contemplation, we might begin at the end, namely, in the condition of fanā (self-annihilation or kenosis), a term translated, quite colorfully, by Marzieh Gail as The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness. Moreover, the evanescence of self-will, al-fanā al-nafs al-ammāra (the extinction of the commanding self), might well be regarded as the culmination of other spiritual attributes, such as, search, love, knowledge, and contentment. That is to say, the first valley, the Valley of Search, and the six others discussed subsequently in the Tablet, could together be actualized by a surrender of the human heart to the Will of God. Through the Valley of Search, we discover the heart: the Valley of Love. That heart continues to unfold through the other valleys.

However, neither The Seven Valleys nor The Four Valleys are linear stages of progression, in my view. Rather, they express relationships between virtues. Thus, the common Baháʾí discourse which places people “in” valleys is, in my view, misleading.

Divine discourse or textual meaning (the Word), whether bāṭinī (inner or esoteric) or ẓāhirī (outward or exoteric), is produced, relative to a particular Dispensation, by a Prophet.

Now, formation is of three kinds and of three kinds only: accidental, necessary and voluntary. The coming together of the various constituent elements of beings cannot be accidental, for unto every effect there must be a cause. It cannot be compulsory, for then the formation must be an inherent property of the constituent parts and the inherent property of a thing can in no wise be dissociated from it, such as light that is the revealer of things, heat that causeth the expansion of elements and the solar rays which are the essential property of the sun. Thus under such circumstances the decomposition of any formation is impossible, for the inherent properties of a thing cannot be separated from it. The third formation remaineth and that is the voluntary one, that is, an unseen force described as the Ancient Power, causeth these elements to come together, every formation giving rise to a distinct being.
--ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, pages 16-17

The Five Kingdoms Model™: A Categorical Framework

In the Five Kingdoms Model, “God” is a name for the divine Essence (YHWH) and for any Being (Prophet) Who reflects His Names and Attributes. Covenantally, a Baháʾí worships the divine Essence in, primarily, His Greatest Name, Baháʾuʾlláh (as God). However, worshipping the divine Essence in, for instance, His Name, the Son (Jesus, as God), or His Name, the Interlocutor (Moses, as God), is also right and proper. A Prophet is nominally (in divine Names), not essentially, God.

The logic of considering this monotheism to be “monotheist,” and not a “polytheist” (in which one God is worshipped among many legitimate gods), is that the Names refer to the one divine Essence. They not descriptive of the humanity of a particular Prophet. That is to say, a Prophet, in manifesting God, reflects the Names of God. Naming the personal qualities or characteristics of a Prophet, while an interesting consideration, constitutes an altogether different issue.

ʾĔlōhîm  (Hebrew for mighty ones) is a singular plural word adopted from Baʾal’s Levantine pantheon. The new ʾĔlōhîm of the TaNaḤ, referred to as the Kingdom  in both the New Testament and the Baháʾí texts, can, it appears to me, be understood as YHWH and His spiritual hosts. These armies, and their troops, may be found both in the heavenly worlds, as the Supreme Concourse (Malāʾ al-Aʿlā), and in this world. Some writers have termed this arrangement a divine council.

The ʾĔlōhîm or Kingdom of God includes the divine Essence, His Prophets, Their “angelic” confirmations,” and “angels” or malaḥīm (other sons of God) confirmed by the Prophets. Each of the Prophets may be designated as “God,” or, in the New Testament, as a “theos” (plural, “theoi”) or “god,” a term used for the Son of God (Jesus) in John 1:1. The Trinity, while constructed poorly, is not so much “wrong” as “incomplete” or “limited.”

By “God,” in the above three paragraphs, is meant “True God.” The “Unity” of God, without partners, is the “Unity” of God”s Name. One Name refers the divine Essence and each of His Manifestations. There are, in addition, numerous false gods. They are, like the True “God’ (the divine Essence and His Manifestations), names. In my view, the Satan is a designation for the world, or condition, of human imperfection. His “demons” are specific imperfections, such as materialism, capitalism, and racism.

H. Emogene Hoagg was an erudite Baháʾí who had studied under Mirza Abuʾl-Fadl Gulpaygani and other prominent Persian Baháʾí scholars both in the Middle East and in the United States. During 1900, 1913, 1914, and 1920, Hoagg lived and served, sometimes for months at a time, in the household of ʿAbduʾl-Baháʾ. Following ʿAbduʾl-Bahá’s passing in 1921, she returned to Haifa to assist the new Guardian of the Baháʾí Faith, Shoghi Effendi.

In the later years of her life, Hoagg produced an outline, containing but a modicum of personal commentary, in which she organized citations of the Baháʾí literature within three existential categories:

Know that the conditions of existence are limited to the conditions of servitude, of prophethood and of Deity, but the divine and the contingent perfections are unlimited.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 230

Hoagg published her outline in 1937 as Three Worlds, revised it the following year as Conditions of Existence: Servitude, Prophethood, Deity, and, over those same two years, conducted classes on it in various venues, including the Green Acre Baháʾí School in Eliot, Maine, and the Louhelen Baháʾí School in Davison, Michigan. Then, in 1943, spanning an approximately five-month period, she personally instructed Marian C. Lippitt on her conditions of existence outline.

Lippitt subsequently, in the course of her decades long indexing project of Baháʾí sources, and her other work, further developed Hoagg’s model.

Additionally, some of Lippitt’s ideas were incorporated by her close friend, the late Professor Daniel C. Jordan of the University of Massachusetts, and his colleagues into the Anisa educational project. Lying squarely within the human potential movement of the 1960s and 1970s and formulated, primarily, around Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy and, secondarily, around Carl Rogers' and Abraham H. Maslow’s humanistic psychologies and Charles Sanders Peirce’s realist pragmatism9, Anisa integrated Lippitt’s idea that purpose or potentiality is a universal essence.

Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him -- a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Baháʾuʾlláh, p.65

In the great workshop of spiritual development and preparation, or this world, God has fashioned and empowered all things for His primary, His most important, purpose of facilitating this dual human capacity.

"Although the divine worlds be never ending, yet some refer to them as four: The world of time (zamān), which is the one that hath both a beginning and an end; the world of duration (dahr), which hath a beginning, but whose end is not revealed; the world of perpetuity (sarmad), whose beginning is not to be seen but which is known to have an end; and the world of eternity (azal), neither a beginning nor an end of which is visible. Although there are many differing statements as to these points, to recount them in detail would result in weariness. Thus, some have said that the world of perpetuity hath neither beginning nor end, and have named the world of eternity as the invisible, impregnable Empyrean. Others have called these the worlds of the Heavenly Court (Lahūt), of the Empyrean Heaven (Jabarūt), of the Kingdom of the Angels (Malakūt), and of the mortal world (Nasūt).
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, page 25

Here is the Five Kingdoms Model [note: mostly outdated now]:

  1. Unifying (al-Tawḥīd): Many essences are referred to in official Baháʾí texts. All of them are divinely willed (not fixed) unities or relationships between particular beings or things. Any being or thing consists of attributes. Five Kingdoms or essences are only knowable by their attributes. As Deity or Godhead, this infinite Pantheon or Collective or Construction of Prophets is the Unity of “God” or, in other words, the unknowable “Essence” for “Unifying” the Prophets or Divinities. In this “interpersonal Structure,” Baháʾuʾlláh’s Station is ranked highest. However, to reject even One of the Prophets stakes a claim at “sharing” (širk) in Their Sovereignty and Dominion. – Cause/Command, Most Great Spirit, ʾālam-i-haqq/world of the True One, Lāhūt/divinity, Aseity/Self-Subsistence, hahūt/He-ness/divine Haecceity/divine Quiddity, and the Exnihilator or Creator out of nothing; the Unity of Prophets in The divine Will (Maˇsīya) and the Ancient and Eternal Covenant (ʿAhd) “The first thing which emanated from God is ... ‘
  2. The Holy Spirit (al-Rūḥ al-Qudūs): These Attributes of Beings in the Pantheon are also called the Word, the Primal Will, and the “Kingdom.” Uncommonly human Prophets (“individual Gods”), with unique Names, are composed of these Attributes. We only learn about the Pantheon through Its Individuals, the Prophets. They manifest or reflect the Unity of the Prophets. Each of Their progressively deeper constructions of relative truth are revealed through an Eternal Covenant or Cause or Command (relationship). – (Jabarūt, Omnipotence or Sovereignty): A Prophet, with divine Perfections (Holy Spirit, Rūḥ al-qudus, and Word, Kalima). Here, God’s Names and Attributes of God – the Prophets, as Perfect Men, manifest the Names and Attributes of God. The Prophet is, in a manner of speaking, the “Theity” (from theism), the God Who intervenes in human affairs outof love/muhabbat.They come into this world (Greater World, Eternal Covenant, God manifested, or ). There is a progressive Revelation of His Attributes. The Prophets, in this world, like us temporarily humans of “homo sapiens.” That is to say, Their “human sides” are their physical bodies. Beliefs in inerrancy, in effect, “deprive” them of Their humanity. Prior to beginning His Ministry, Baháʾuʾlláh wrote, “... I was but a man like others [emphasis added], asleep upon My couch, when lo, the breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One Who is Almighty and All-Knowing.” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf). This category refers to the specific knowledge or guidance through which God expresses His love or compassion (the Covenant) in various time periods. Among the ways in which He manifests or reveals through His Prophets are:
    1. A note on the Word of God (kalimātʾuʾlláh): It is also called Revelation/wahī and the Holy Spirit. The Primal Will, the divine Essence, is revealed through the Word. These terms refer to the Attributes of God. We recognize a Prophet, similar to how we would recognize a close friend, by that Individual’s Attributes. ʿAbduʾl-Bahá redefined the Trinity. However, specifically, the Father is Baháʾuʾlláh. The Son is Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit refers to Their Attributes.
    2. A note on the Cause of God (amrʾuʾllāh): Each Prophet’s Revelation is through a Cause/Command/Commission of God/amrʾuʾllāh/Spirit/Rūḥ, and it refers to the authority or Power of a Prophet, based on the divine Will, to perform His Mission. Other terms are Alpha and Omega, Seal/hātam) of Revelation (wahy) in a particular Dispensation and "the [Lote] Tree beyond which there is no passing" (sadratu'l-muntahā).
  3. Servitude (al-ʿUbūdīya): ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, the Perfect Man or created Being, is the Master or Exemplar or Archetype or Ideal Type (perhaps Incarnation) of servitude. In a sense, He is the Son of God (the Son of Baháʾuʾlláh). – Creation (al-Halq) or world of creation (ʾālam-i-halq) includes the attributes of particular beings and things (Servitude or ʿUbūdīya): attributes (qualities) of particular created beings and things, or created beings and things with lower stations than the Prophets. There are includes numerous categories and subcategories. Servitude is true freedom, and it was exemplified by the Mystery of God, ʿAbduʾl-Bahá. He is the uncommonly created (particular Being) Perfect Exemplar, Master, or Moral Ideal Type of Servitude, true freedom through Servitude and “Mastery” over Servitude or creation, i.e., dominion. He demonstrated mastery over servitude. Although He was, like the Prophets, a perfect Man, He was not  a Prophet. (I address this paradox in a brief compilation.)
    1. Rewards, Pardons, and Bounties: Heavenly attributes or eternal life or spirit are the ingredients of each departed soul. Their unity or essence is subject to God’s Will. – (“ It is even possible that the condition of those who have died in sin and unbelief may become changed--that is to say, they may become the object of pardon through the bounty of God, not through His justice--for bounty is giving without desert, and justice is giving what is deserved. As we have power to pray for these souls here, so likewise we shall possess the same power in the other world, which is the Kingdom of God. Are not all the people in that world the creatures of God? Therefore, in that world also they can make progress. As here they can receive light by their supplications, there also they can plead for forgiveness and receive light through entreaties and supplications. Thus as souls in this world, through the help of the supplications, the entreaties and the prayers of the holy ones, can acquire development, so is it the same after death. Through their own prayers and supplications they can also progress, more especially when they are the object of the intercession of the Holy Manifestations.” – ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.232)
    2. Spirit of Faith (or “Faith”): Faithful (faithed) attributes (qualities or “virtues” or spirit), such as love and insight, are the ingredients of human souls. The divinely willed unity or essence of human souls is called the spiritual kingdom. Constructions of human souls, such as the World Order of Baháʾuʾlláh and a local spiritual assembly, are unities or, perhaps, essences. Faith is the doorway to the heart: the next world with human limitations; ʾālam al-mithal/imaginal realm/mundus imaginalis; spirituality; ideal forms as symbolic terms/names; virtuousness/virtues of the heart; fanā/kenosis; human acceptance of divine Revelation/religions/teachings of the Prophets, i.e., faith/faiths/religions as the conscious knowledge of God’s Will; including The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys; and containing the revealed Word from the Word as Revelator; animated by spirits of faith; human souls, living in this world, entering into an intimate, prayerful relationship with the Supreme Concourse/malā al-aʿlā, namely, the Prophets in the realm of Prophethood and the spiritually advanced souls in the next world; imperfection or naqīṣa/fault as its relative absence
    3. Human Spirit (the rational faculty also observed in Prophets): Rational (free will or heart, imagination, thought, understanding, and memory), sensory, growing, and cohesive attributes (or spirit) are the ingredients of each human being. The divinely willed unity or essence of humans is called the human kingdom. These attributes are acquired while progressing through the lower kingdoms (sets of attributes) of creation. The human spirit is also called the rational faculty (al-nafs al-nāṭiqa), human attributes, rational soul, human kingdom, and the common faculty/hiss-i-mushtarak). The human spirit is the rational soul. These attributes may include imagination, thought, understanding, memory, free will (the heart), and bodily coordination. Related terms are: humanity/nasūt; human kingdom, rational world, lesser world/" should be regarded as" greater world, this world/before physical death, reflections of next world; culture/ṭaqāfa or ways of life; social constructions of reality or human affairs; includes Prophets on earth. As Prophets have Holy Spirit (divine attributes), each of us has human spirit (human attributes) and, hopefully, spirit of faith (spiritual attributes). We focus on rules or structures, including logic, rationality, time, change, accomplishment, and reflections on concrete physicality and on physical metaphors. We, as humans, institutionalize the Revelationsor religions or teaches of God, which results in multiple Christianities, Islāms, Baháʾí faiths, etc.
    4. Animal Spirit: Sensory, growing, and cohesive attributes (traits or spirit) are the ingredients of each animal. The divinely willed unity or essence of animals is called the animal kingdom: The animal spirit, or sensing, is the highest type of perfection in nature. It includes the names or categories of observable attributes, such as: physicality, which includes materiality, energy, magnetism, gravity, the carnal, etc. (“the concrete,” the kingdom of names/al-malakūt al-asmā'’, i.e., analogically designating, or naming, particulars, by their attributes, and placing them into nominal categories)
    5. Vegetable Spirit: Growing and cohesive attributes (traits or spirit) are the ingredients of each vegetable. The divinely willed unity or essence of vegetables is called the vegetable kingdom.
    6. Mineral Spirit: Cohesive attributes (or spirit) are the ingredients of each mineral. The divinely willed unity or essence of minerals is called the mineral kingdom.

The essence of Baháʾuʾlláh’s Teaching is all-embracing love, for love includeth every excellence of humankind. It causeth every soul to go forward. It bestoweth on each one, for a heritage, immortal life. Erelong shalt thou bear witness that His celestial Teachings, the very glory of reality itself, shall light up the skies of the world.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 66

Among these teachings was the independent investigation of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth; may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown garment of a thousand years ago and may put on the robe woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of reality. As reality is one and cannot admit of multiplicity, therefore different opinions must ultimately become fused into one.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 298

... men of faith behold the reality of religion manifestly revealed in these heavenly teachings, and clearly and conclusively prove them to be the real and true remedy for the ills and infirmities of all mankind.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, page 26

The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know verily his death is better than his life.
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, Tablets of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 155

In other contexts, ideal forms, essences, or realities are, reminiscent of Locke’s real essences, the unknowable quiddities of spiritual and material particulars:

The rain itself hath no geometry, no limits, no form, but it taketh on one form or another, according to the restrictions of its vessel. In the same way, the Holy Essence of the Lord God is boundless, immeasurable, but His graces and splendours become finite in the creatures, because of their limitations, wherefore the prayers of given persons will receive favourable answers in certain cases.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 161

When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of all things, and the individuality of each, thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord’s mercy in every created thing, and see the spreading rays of His Names and Attributes throughout all the realm of being, with evidences which none will deny save the froward and the unaware. Then wilt thou observe that the universe is a scroll that discloseth His hidden secrets, which are preserved in the well-guarded Tablet.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 41

Physical bodies are transferred past one barrier after another, from one life to another, and all things are subject to transformation and change, save only the essence of existence itself -- since it is constant and immutable, and upon it is founded the life of every species and kind, of every contingent reality throughout the whole of creation.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 156

It may be said, for instance, that this lamplight is last night’s come back again, or that last year’s rose hath returned to the garden this year. Here the reference is not to the individual reality, the fixed identity, the specialized being of that other rose, rather doth it mean that the qualities, the distinctive characteristics of that other light, that other flower, are present now, in these.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 183

Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man. Examine thine own self, and behold how thy motion and stillness, thy will and purpose, thy sight and hearing, thy sense of smell and power of speech, and whatever else is related to, or transcendeth, thy physical senses or spiritual perceptions, all proceed from, and owe their existence to, this same faculty. So closely are they related unto it, that if in less than the twinkling of an eye its relationship to the human body be severed, each and every one of these senses will cease immediately to exercise its function, and will be deprived of the power to manifest the evidences of its activity. It is indubitably clear and evident that each of these afore-mentioned instruments has depended, and will ever continue to depend, for its proper functioning on this rational faculty, which should be regarded as a sign of the revelation of Him Who is the sovereign Lord of all. Through its manifestation all these names and attributes have been revealed, and by the suspension of its action they are all destroyed and perish.

It would be wholly untrue to maintain that this faculty is the same as the power of vision, inasmuch as the power of vision is derived from It and acteth in dependence upon it. It would, likewise, be idle to contend that this faculty can be identified with the sense of hearing, as the sense of hearing receiveth from the rational faculty the requisite energy for performing its functions.
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Baháʾuʾlláh, pages 164-165

"... the various organs and members, the parts and elements, that constitute the body of man, though at variance, are yet all connected one with the other by that all-unifying agency known as the human soul, that causeth them to function in perfect harmony and with absolute regularity, thus making the continuation of life possible. The human body, however, is utterly unconscious of that all-unifying agency, and yet acteth with regularity and dischargeth its functions according to its will."
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, page 13

In man five outer powers exist, which are the agents of perception ; that is to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odours; taste, which perceives foods; and feeling, which is in all parts of the body, and perceives tangible things. These five powers perceive outward existences.

Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things ; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities ; memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks, and comprehends. The intermediary between the five outward powers and the inward powers, is the sense which they possess in common; that is to say, the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers, and thus is common to the outward and inward powers.

For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power the common faculty which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power of thought; the power of thought reflects, and having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository.

The outward powers are five : the power of sight, of hearing, of taste, of smell, and of feeling.

The inner powers are also five : the common faculty, and the powers of imagination, thought, comprehension, and memory.
-- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 245-246

  1. Mental Faculties: the intellect (aql) or intellectual capacities of the human spirit, including imagination, thought, understanding, and memory

      "Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities; memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks and comprehends."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 245

      "Now concerning mental faculties, they are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul, even as the radiation of light is the essential property of the sun. The rays of the sun are renewed but the sun itself is ever the same and unchanged. Consider how the human intellect develops and weakens, and may at times come to naught, whereas the soul changeth not. For the mind to manifest itself, the human body must be whole; and a sound mind cannot be but in a sound body, whereas the soul dependeth not upon the body. It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free. The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehendeth, whereas the soul is free from all agencies."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, page 8

      "Now regarding the question whether the faculties of the mind and the human soul are one and the same. These faculties are but the inherent properties of the soul, such as the power of imagination, of thought, of understanding; powers that are the essential requisites of the reality of man, even as the solar ray is the inherent property of the sun. The temple of man is like unto a mirror, his soul is as the sun, and his mental faculties even as the rays that emanate from that source of light. The ray may cease to fall upon the mirror, but it can in no wise be dissociated from the sun."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, pages 24-25
  2. Faith: This power of faith is also called spirit of faith/al-ruḥ al-amīn): the magnet of faith and service or power and capacity of faith in the Prophet to transform the human conscience or free will; results in the acquisition of virtues, such as love (biologically experienced as spiritual joy or happiness), kindness, mercy, truthfulness, service, etc. Faith is a spirit or a higher expression of the human spirit.

      "Faith is the magnet which draws the confirmation of the Merciful One. Service is the magnet which attracts the heavenly strength. I hope thou wilt attain both."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablets of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá Abbás, volume 1, page 62

      "Happiness consists of two kinds; physical and spiritual. The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year. It hath no result. Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable. This kind of happiness appeareth in one’s soul with the love of God and suffereth one to attain to the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Therefore, endeavor as much as thou art able in order to illuminate the lamp of thy heart by the light of love."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablets of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá Abbás, volume 3, page 673

      "From the exalted source, and out of the essence of His favor and bounty He hath entrusted every created thing with a sign of His knowledge, so that none of His creatures may be deprived of its share in expressing, each according to its capacity and rank, this knowledge. This sign is the mirror of His beauty in the world of creation. The greater the effort exerted for the refinement of this sublime and noble mirror, the more faithfully will it be made to reflect the glory of the names and attributes of God, and reveal the wonders of His signs and knowledge. Every created thing will be enabled (so great is this reflecting power) to reveal the potentialities of its pre-ordained station, will recognize its capacity and limitations, and will testify to the truth that 'He, verily, is God; there is none other God besides Him.'...
      "There can be no doubt whatever that, in consequence of the efforts which every man may consciously exert and as a result of the exertion of his own spiritual faculties, this mirror can be so cleansed from the dross of earthly defilements and purged from satanic fancies as to be able to draw nigh unto the meads of eternal holiness and attain the courts of everlasting fellowship."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh:, Gleanings from the Writings of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 262

      "Then know, O thou virtuous soul, that as soon as thou becomest separated from aught else save God and dost cut thyself from the worldly things, thy heart will shine with lights of divinity and with the effulgence of the Sun of Truth from the horizon of the Realm of Might, and then thou wilt be filed by the spirit of power from God and become capable of doing that which thou desirest. This is the confirmed truth."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablets of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá Abbás, volume 3, page 709

      "The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names - the human spirit and the rational soul - designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pages 208-209

      "Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays."
    -- From a letter dated July 12, 1952, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual Baháʾí and cited: Living the Life, page 18

      "In serving a Cause for which your mother sacrificed so much you will no doubt come to find the very purpose of your life, and the true secret of happiness in this, as well as in the next world."
    -- From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in Arohanui: Letters to New Zealand, page 42

      "But the Spirit of Faith which is of the Kingdom (of God) consists of the all-comprehending Grace and the perfect attainment (or salvation, fruition, achievement) and the power of sanctity and the divine effulgence from the Sun of Truth on luminous light-seeking essences from the presence of the divine Unity. And by this Spirit is the life of the spirit of man, when it is fortified thereby, as Christ saith: 'That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.' And this Spirit hath both restitution and return, inasmuch as it consists of the Light of God and the unconditioned Grace."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablets of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá Abbás, volume 1, page 115

      "The maid-servants of the Merciful should love each other with heart and soul; for though there be many bodies, the spirit of faith is one13 and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is universal. There is one Light but many lamps; there is one Wine but the glasses differ."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablets of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá Abbás, volume 3, page 505

      "Do thou ponder these momentous happenings in thy heart, so that thou mayest apprehend the greatness of this Revelation, and perceive its stupendous glory. Then shall the spirit of faith, through the grace of the Merciful, be breathed into thy being, and thou shalt be established and abide upon the seat of certitude."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Kitāb-i-īqān, page 236

      "The fourth degree of spirit is the heavenly spirit; it is the spirit of faith and the bounty of God; it comes from the breath of the Holy Spirit, and by the divine power it becomes the cause of eternal life. It is the power which makes the earthly man heavenly, and the imperfect man perfect. It makes the impure to be pure, the silent eloquent; it purifies and sanctifies those made captive by carnal desires; it makes the ignorant wise."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 144


  3. Insight (or inner vision), 'ayn al-bāṭin (the inner eye), or kashf īmānī: (visions through faith) capacity for insight/baṣīra/ihsān; experienced as spiritual knowledge or gnōsis (Arabic, ma'rifa/'irfān )

      "God grant that, with a penetrating vision and radiant heart, thou mayest observe the things that have come to pass and are now happening, and, pondering them in thine heart, mayest recognize that which most men have, in this Day, failed to perceive."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 58

      "In the mirror of their minds the forms of transcendent realities are reflected, and the lamp of their inner vision derives its light from the sun of universal knowledge."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, page 21

      "If, then, the spirit were the same as the body, it would be necessary that the power of the inner sight should also be in the same proportion. Therefore, it is evident that this spirit is different from the body, and that the bird is different from the cage, and that the power and penetration of the spirit is stronger without the intermediary of the body."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 228


  4. Free Will (Arabic, irāda-i-juz'iyya): the conscience, will power, mirror of moral choices, or power of volitional accomplishment

      "Man’s physical existence on this earth is a period during which the moral exercise of his free will is tried and tested in order to prepare his soul for the other worlds of God, and we must welcome affliction and tribulations as opportunities for improvement in our eternal selves."
    -- From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual Baháʾí, July 16, 1980, and cited: Lights of Guidance, page 368

      "Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man. Examine thine own self, and behold how ... thy will and purpose ... proceed from, and owe their existence to, this same faculty."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 164

      "... though the choice of good and evil belongs to man, under all circumstances he is dependent upon the sustaining help of life, which comes from the Omnipotent. The Kingdom of God is very great, and all are captives in the grasp of His Power. The servant cannot do anything by his own will; God is powerful, omnipotent, and the Helper of all beings."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 250

      "... conscience is never to be coerced, whether by other individuals or institutions.
      "Conscience, however, is not an unchangeable absolute. One dictionary definition, although not covering all the usages of the term, presents the common understanding of the word 'conscience' as 'the sense of right and wrong as regards things for which one is responsible; the faculty or principle which pronounces upon the moral quality of one’s actions or motives, approving the right and condemning the wrong'.
      "The functioning of one’s conscience, then, depends upon one’s understanding of right and wrong; the conscience of one person may be established upon a disinterested striving after truth and justice, while that of another may rest on an unthinking predisposition to act in accordance with that pattern of standards, principles and prohibitions which is a product of his social environment. Conscience, therefore, can serve either as a bulwark of an upright character or can represent an accumulation of prejudices learned from one’s forebears or absorbed from a limited social code.
      "A Baháʾí recognizes that one aspect of his spiritual and intellectual growth is to foster the development of his conscience in the light of divine Revelation ...."
    -- From a letter dated February 8, 1998, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to Dr. Susan Maneck.
  5. In

  6. Heart (Arabic, qalb): While the free will is rational, the heart is the emotional or attractive expression of the human spirit.

      "... the counsels of heaven are likened to water, even as the Qur'án saith: 'And pure water send We down from Heaven,' and the Gospel: 'Except a man be baptized of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.' Thus is it clear that the Teachings which come from God are heavenly outpourings of grace; they are rain-showers of divine mercy, and they cleanse the human heart."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, page 146

    "O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Hidden Words of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 3

    "O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation."
    -- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Hidden Words of Baháʾuʾlláh, page 17


  7. Bodily Functions: the agency for the coordination of bodily activities

      "As the body is sustained by the spirit, it is in relation to the spirit an essential phenomenon. The spirit is independent of the body, and in relation to it the spirit is an essential preexistence. Though the rays are always inseparable from the sun, nevertheless, the sun is preexistent and the rays are phenomenal, for the existence of the rays depends upon that of the sun."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 280

      "... the various organs and members, the parts and elements, that constitute the body of man, though at variance, are yet all connected one with the other by that all-unifying agency known as the human soul, that causeth them to function in perfect harmony and with absolute regularity, thus making the continuation of life possible. The human body, however, is utterly unconscious of that all-unifying agency, and yet acteth with regularity and dischargeth its functions according to its will."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Tablet to August Forel, page 13

      "The mind which is in man, the existence of which is recognized - where is it in him? If you examine the body with the eye, the ear or the other senses, you will not find it; nevertheless, it exists. Therefore, the mind has no place, but it is connected with the brain."
    -- ʿAbduʾl-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, page 242

As expressed in some of the Judaisms, the translation of the Hebrew, and Lurianic Qabbālistic, term, tikkun olam, is repairing the world. Through its reinterpretation by the Jewish Renewal Movement, it has become a clarion call for environmental custodianship, peace, and social justice for the poor.

The word jihād is Arabic for struggle, not for holy war. Many Islāmic moderates have situated its significance in the wrestling with one’s nafs (Arabic cognate of the Hebrew nefesh), the multiple planes of the lower nature or ego, and in an exertion for human equity, peace, and the the rights of the poor. From their standpoint, only jihāds which are purposefully defensive, of one’s own or another religious jamā'a (assemblage), should be sanctioned on the battlefield.

With respect to Christianity, a myriad of liberals and postliberals, including those identifying with Every Church a Peace Church or Sojourners, promote inclusiveness, peace, and social justice among both Christians and those of other faiths. In the United States, the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ are two of the more open and progressive denominations.

All who believed were together and held everything in common, and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.
-- Acts 2:44-47 (from NET Bible)

Jesus also appears to have believed, that the worthiness of individuals to inherit the Kingdom of God will be judged on evidence of their benevolence toward the poor. This text provides the locus classicus for his position:

    When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
    All the nations will be assembled before him, and he will separate people one from another like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    Then the king will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."
    Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? "
    And the king will answer them, "I tell you the truth, just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it for me."
    "Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.
    I was a stranger and you did not receive me as a guest, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me."
    Then they too will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not give you whatever you needed?"
    Then he will answer them, "I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me. And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
-- Matthew 25:31-46 (from NET Bible)

Christ clearly expected His followers to serve the poor, and He assessed their qualification for eternal life, in the Kingdom of His Father, on the basis of their philanthropy. "And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me," (Matthew 10:38, NET Bible), He is quoted as saying.

In a similar vein, the Apostle James asserted that "... faith without works is dead" (James 2:26, NET Bible). While not necessarily inconsistent with Paul’s condemnation of faithless works as indicative of self-righteousness, James would seem to have considered a workless faith to be a contradiction in terms.

Finally, from a Baháʾí standpoint, faith and works, or conforming oneself to God’s Will, are inseparable and, for all intents and purposes, identical. Faith implies works, and, according to Shoghi Effendi:

Is not faith but another word for implicit obedience, whole-hearted allegiance, uncompromising adherence to that which we believe is the revealed and express will of God, however perplexing it might first appear, however at variance with the shadowy views, the impotent doctrines, the crude theories, the idle imaginings, the fashionable conceptions of a transient and troublous age?
-- Shoghi Effendi, Baháʾí Administration, page 62

Regarding the poor, Baháʾuʾlláh wrote:

O YE RICH ONES ON EARTH!
The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.
-- Baháʾuʾlláh, The Persian Hidden Words, number 54

And the Universal House of Justice sharply criticized the ideology supporting corporate capitalism for tending:

... to callously abandon starving millions to the operations of a market system that all too clearly is aggravating the plight of the majority of mankind, while enabling small sections to live in a condition of affluence scarcely dreamed of by our forebears.
-- The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace

The Baháʾí Faith appears to advocate a prima scriptura (the written text first), more than a sola scriptura (only the written text), scriptural hermeneutic. Thus, Martin Luther’s view of sola scriptura would establish the sovereignty of individual exegesis over the authority of Rome. He objected, not to tradition per se or to using interpretive tools external to the Bible, but to the sola ecclesia (only the church) approach to texts in the Roman Catholic Church. However, the truth of any scripture is measured only by the extent to which it contains the words or teachings of the Prophet.

Baháʾís are not sola scriptura, in the manner of Luther or the Protestant Reformation, in that we accept the authority of the Guardian to interpret and the authority of the Universal House of Justice to legislatively elucidate. We have a living canon. On the other hand, given the right to personal interpretations or understanding of Sacred Texts in the Baháʾí community, we have nothing quite like the traditional sola ecclesia approach of Roman Catholicism either.

Instead, it appears that Baháʾís utilize a prima scriptura method, one which affirms the preeminent place of the Baháʾí scriptures (including the writings of the Bab, Baháʾuʾllah, and ʿAbduʾl-Bahá) but which also accepts the authority, under the Baháʾí Covenant, of the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice and, what is more, allows for individual interpretation, whether according to the views of academics or others.

More substantively, spiritual transformation, the higher alchemy (al-kīmiyā), might be contextualized within the divine philosophy (ḥikmat-i-ilāhī), theosophia, or wisdom teachings of the Baháʾí Revelation. To wit, that which is hakīm, or wise, is relative to the divine Will (insh'allāh) revealed by a particular Prophet. Aside from God and His Manifestations, or Prophets, there is no eternal essence or ideal form of wisdom.

This higher alchemy is constructed, in mystical relationship with God through His Prophet, as a process beginning with the exercise of free will -- prayer (duʿwah for invocation), meditation, deepening, and service (order varies in the Baháʾí primary sources) -- attracting the assistance of the spirit of faith (the magnet of faith and service), which, in turn, enhances one’s insight (or inner vision) and illumines one’s mental faculties, thereby allowing one’s body to be coordinated in service to God’s Will. The end result is the development of virtues (spiritual attributes).

The object is, over one’s life course, to painstakingly replace one’s human imperfections, the absence of virtuousness, with an attainment of spiritual qualities. Gradually, as the spirit of faith and faculty of insight, both capacities of the human spirit, are developed, one’s conscience, or will, is uplifted, virtue by virtue, from the world of human imperfection to the world of human spirituality. Then, through an increased comprehension of the language games, or divine constructions (constructions), included in the Baháʾí Revelation, and an application of one’s understandings, one may progressively submit to the Will of God.

The methodology involves the radical deconstruction of the old mind, including its socially scripted patterns of reactions. Given that many individuals habitually react to situations from their human imperfections, if a person desires to escape these socialized, reactive constructions of the mind, she must, each time, fall into the habit of pausing, reflecting, and making a spiritually informed, salutary decision. Through this means, and by associating with a jamā'a of like-minded souls, her reactive constructions can, reaction by reaction, be progressivelly conquered and replaced with the spiritually proactive constructions of a new mind.

Clearly, not all scripts can, must, or should be avoided. The continuity, and effective functioning, of jamā'at, societies, and organizations demands a degree of conformity to certain socialized roles.

Nonetheless, scripted behaviors must be countenanced and deliberate, and the individual, not the script, needs to exercise the final veto. It is she who is required not to forfeit her perquisite to redact, where indicated by her wisdom, any socially constructed scripts, whereas the scripts themselves should never be privileged to dominate her decision-making processes.

Suggestions for scripting Five Kingdoms include:

  1. engaging in prayer, meditation (such as the Baháʾí dhikr of 'allāhʾuʾAbhā ninety-five-times per day), study of the Baháʾí scriptures, and service to the Cause of God (amrʾuʾlláh)
  2. voluntarily surrendering one’s personal will to the Will of God (insh'allāh), the Covenant ('ahd), including conforming one’s behavior to the directives of the Head of the Faith (the Universal House of Justice)
  3. respecting, without condemnation or judgement, divese constructions of reality and knowledge, whether by Baháʾís or others, and recognizing that all truth constructions are subject to a tiered relativism™ of divine and human wills
  4. willfully and positively constructing one’s life and experiences (renaming or socially reconstructing reality), focusing on (thinking about and loving) solution-based constructions rather than problematic ones, and proceeding to modify one’s actions accordingly

Endnotes

1Five Kingdoms is lovingly dedicated to my spiritual mother and mentor, the late Elizabeth Thomas of Manhasset, Long Island. Elizabeth, having introduced me to Marian Lippitt and Henry Weil and to their respective work, always encouraged me to conduct original Baháʾí deepening projects, to make personal compilations of the Baháʾí literature, to devise innovative terminologies, and to arrive at my own understandings.

3Visit The History of Mythology page for more information.

4Emerging theology has originated within the post-evangelical emerging church. Although a bit simplistic, while neoliberal theology came out of liberal theology, emergent, or emerging, theology developed out of evangelicalism. Both narrative theologies appear to be meeting in a postmodern, poststructural center. It is from the emerging church movement, that I developed the concept of an emerging jamā'a.

5Five Kingdoms has no relation to Ruhi, nor is it being suggested that Five Kingdoms should be assimilated into, or become a branch course of, the Ruhi curriculum. Unlike Ruhi, Five Kingdoms is not currently associated with the Baháʾí study circle process. Although this writer is not involved with the Ruhi program (having only attended one or two sesssions in the past), neither is he opposed to it. From his perspective, Ruhi is more about the cultivation of love than the attainment of knowledge.

6My term, narrative spirituality, is adapted from narrative theology.

7 Here is a selection from some of Lippitt’s written materials:

8 I have great love for both Lippitt and Weil.

9In order to avoid confusion with William James' nominalist pragmatism, Peirce subsequently renamed his approach pragmaticism.


10The following diagram is one version of Lippitt’s "Map of the Worlds of God."

GOD, the Source of all Existence;  (Unknowable Essence)
        DEITY, condition of Infinitude, Eternality, Divinity

=====================================================
GREATER WORLD that God manifests- Condition of Prophethood
     World of Manifestation -
         In His Kingdom:-His Manifestation who manifests-
Causing of God - Holy Spirit - Will of God - Word of God
 (God’s Cause)
======================================================
                                           CREATION
LESSER WORLD that God creates  ---Condition of Servitude
     World of Human Souls - Manifestation in the form of a
                            Human Creature, reflecting Reality
                              and capable of reflecting ALL the
                                      Attributes of God
      KINGDOM OF DEPARTED SOULS
      KINGDOM REVEALED                            -Revealed Condition
           progressively  to SO'Ls  -                  of Spirituality
                 thru REVELATION and
                     translated into RELIGION
        This is where each SOUL begins its prenatal life
              as a SO'L, grows, receives Enlightenment,
               and develops its maturity.

         WORLD ORDER OF BAHAʾUʾLLAH
Below are Worlds proceeding from Human vision or spirit:
   MANKIND , condition of Human Beings or SO'Ls as currently
                     developed; personalities, each with its own
                      human consciousness and spiritual powers;
                      man as a part of Humanity.
   HUMANNESS, condition of the Human organism that serves, as
                       a mental and emotional agent, the SO'L of which
                        it is a part.
   RATIONALITY, the Human Thought World and of the Human
                         organism thru which the RATIONAL faculties
                          of man function.
   MATERIAL WORLD, condition of MATERIALITY of the physical
                                 universe composed of mineral, 
                                 vegetable, and animal organisms 
                                 perceptible to the body senses.
Note: SO'L is used to denote the Soul on this plane because the real 
U is not fully present here.
Consciousness:
   Material World, Human Thought World, Humanness,
        Mankind, Spirituality, are formed by our levels of
           awareness or vision
Echoes of the Kingdoms. is targeted at individuals unfamiliar with the Teachings of the Baháʾí Faith.
12Here is Henry Weil’s list of the powers of the soul:
  1. The Coordinator of Bodily Functions
  2. The Mental Faculties of the Soul
  3. The Faculty of Inner Vision
  4. Individuality
  5. The Mirrored Reflection of Your Moral Choices
  6. Spiritual Happiness
  7. Immortality
  • Weil, Henry A. Closer Than Your Life Vein: An Insight Into the Wonders of Spiritual Fulfillment. Anchorage: National Spiritual Assembly of the Baháʾís of Alaska. 1978.
  • Weil, Henry A. Closer Than Your Life Vein: An Insight Into the Wonders of Spiritual Fulfillment. New Delhi: Baháʾí Publishing Trust. 1991.
13The oneness of the spirit of faith may refer to unity in diversity, one soul in many bodies, etc.

14 The seminars and workshops will cover various subjects, such as listening prayer.


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