The tab for resources contains a list of hyperlinks to a number of extremely valuable studies and databases for further study about Baha’i history and texts. It will be updated as the courses continues
These classes are not intended to be a substitute for the Ruhi Institute courses but will hopefully augment some of the same crucial subjects raised in that sequence. Due consideration is given for attendees who are not Bahá’ís, both in the sequence of presentations and in the discussions that follow. Some of the subjects discussed are treated more in depth in my BOOKSs.
Click on the titles to access the video on YouTube and a PDF of the slides.
This discussion focuses on how the Manifestations allow Themselves to be moved from place to place at the whims of the government, even though They have the power and the will to do otherwise. Do They have free will or is Their response to the changes and chances of life merely the will of God and, therefore, out of Their hands?
While many may be familiar with the basic facts about the Conference of Badasht, especially the climactic proclamation by Tahirih that the Trumpet had sounded and a new dispensation had begun, there are underlying facts that give additional elucidation about this momentous gathering. This talks explains how the Bab and Baha’u’llah were actually the planners and executors of this abrogation of Islamic law and the advent of the dispensation of the Bab.
Halfway through this class we switch from tracking the chronology of Bahá’í history – something readily available to everyone via books or online resources – and begin a series of discussions on some of the essential concepts presented in the Bahá’í teachings. Some of these will involve Bahá’í history, but we will begin with some major theological matters, the first being a couple of classes devoted to examining the concept of Satan, sin, and salvation, a subject that has confounded so much religious discourse about morality and human nature.
This informal discussion covers the basic Baha’i concepts of the symbolic nature of Satan, Hell, and Heaven, and, more importantly, presents an overview of the Baha’i concept of sin, guilt, and the process of salvation, whether in this life, or in the continuation of our lives in the metaphysical realm.
The question that arose among Christ’s disciples about the definition and proof of “faith” or “belief” is no less vital in religious discourse today. This informal presentation will discuss the Bahá’í concept of why the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh plays such a critical role in defining “faith” and “belief” from a Bahá’í perspective and what makes it more secure or enduring than the covenant of previous Manifestations.
This discussion focuses on the foundation of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, especially the crucial role played by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in devising crucial institutions, in designing the parameters of their authority, and in establishing the means by which these institutions would be established and perpetuated.
This discussion will continue where Class 33 left off by showing how each of the four institutions created or instituted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá played a critical role in completing the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh by establishing the Universal House of Justice, what could be called the “keystone” in the Arc that is the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. Yet at each point in this transition of authority, the links in the Covenant were tested and tempered in the fire of ordeal.
This session will focus on the framework or overview of Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work, what I hope will be a useful beginning, especially for those who are not Bahá’ís or who have not had a chance to study the history in depth. This is the beginning of the study for which all 34 previous classes have been but preparation (all ten months!!)
There occurs a point in the lives of the Manifestations of God where They receive some sign or have some experience described by Them as transformative, a turning point when They begin to speak as the Word of God among us. Does this experience represent some change in the nature of Their being, the point where They are changed from ordinary human beings into God’s Messengers? If not, then what is happening or what are They experiencing. This discussion will examine the Bahá’í texts that resolve this mystery, especially as it applies to Bahá’u’lláh’s experience in the Siyáh-Chál.
This class discusses how much we can understand about the process by which God speaks to us through the Manifestations. Are They simply repeating what They hear, or are They creators of Their utterances?
Bahá’u’lláh states that He has revealed His verses in “nine different modes.” This class will discuss what He might mean by this, and the variety of literary styles He employs in the multitude of works He revealed.
While Bahá’u’lláh wrote several works in the mode of a mystic treatise, he explicitly forbids some of the major practices and beliefs of mystic sects, such as Súfism. This is the first in a couple of classes where we will both try to define mysticism, outline the Bahá’í response to its teachings or orientations, and examine several of the works of Bahá’u’lláh that can be characterized as being mystically oriented in literary mode and in spiritual concepts.
This second class on mysticism in Bahá’u’lláh’s works that deal with some of the important themes of the mystic tradition so popular in Persian poetry, will focus on the basic concepts of The Seven Valleys as compared to the same themes of Farid ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds. We will also discuss some more about the influence of Plato on the concept of mystic ascent, and will touch on the notion of “Annihilation or “True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness.”
Before one can understand much beyond the foundational allegorical meaning of Bahá’u’lláh’s “The Seven Valleys” as seven stages in a process of spiritualization, certain tools can be helpful and, in some cases, essential if one is to discover the difficult and diverse figurative devices He has employed in this rich and abstruse work. This class will introduce the attendees to a basic understanding how to identify these devices and how to uncover their veiled meaning.
In the last class we discussed some of the figurative devices commonly associated with mysticism and mystic works. This class will apply these tools to some of what Bahá’u’lláh refers to as the “Húrís of Inner Meaning,” both in His mystical works and in His other modes of revelation.
After finishing a few observations about Bahá’u’lláh’s mystic poetry, we will begin the first in a series of weekly classes of relatively deep study of the most important doctrinal work in the Bahá’í Faith, the second most important work revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, and what may well be regarded as the possibly the most important work in the Bahá’í dispensation. This essential reading for all those who are Bahá’ís, as well as for anyone wishing to discover perhaps the most weighty proof of the validity of the Bahá’í claims about Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger from God for this age.
This is the first class in a series of weekly classes dedicated to examining the structure and major parts of Bahá’u’lláh’s most important doctrinal work, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude). Each class will be designed to provide the participants with a focused examination of how Bahá’u’lláh has structured this two-part essay on (1) why people of failed to recognize Manifestations of the past and on (2) the nature and proofs of the Manifestations. Attendees will be provided with an exacting outline of the entire work, which will serve as the structure for each class on this work, and slides derived from that outline.
This is the second in a series of weekly classes dedicated to examining the structure and major themes of Bahá’u’lláh’s most important doctrinal work, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude). Each class will be designed to provide the participants with a focused examination of how Bahá’u’lláh has structured this two-part essay on (1) why people of failed to recognize Manifestations of the past and (2) the nature and proofs of the Manifestations. Attendees will be provided with an exacting outline of the entire work, which will serve as the structure for each class, as well as slides for each class derived from that outline.