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 BOOKS.
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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.
This class finishes the discussion of Part One (the first half) of The Book of Certitude, the focus of which is Baha’u’llah’s explication of the symbols and figures of speech in three verses from Matthew that foretell of the advent of Muhammad.
This fourth discussion of The Book of Certitude begins the examination of Part Two, the second half of this most important doctrinal work of Bahá’u’lláh. Focusing on the ontology, powers, and proofs of the Manifestations, this second half explains and elucidates some of the most important passages from the Qur’án regarding the Prophets of God. It serves not only as a proof of the Báb as the Qá’im, but as a paradigm for proving the claims of every Manifestation.
This fifth discussion of The Book of Certitude will examine such concept as the “Return,” “Entering the Presence of God,” and the station of “Essential Unity” and the station of “Distinction.”
This sixth – and the next-to-last class on The Book of Certitude –discusses Baha’u’llah’s lengthy examination of how to study the revealed word, which He describes as the process of entering the “City of Certitude,” and which He says is “none other than the Word of God.” The Final discussion will cover the three other proofs of the Báb as Qá’im, and Bahá’u’lláh’s forewarning to the Bábís of the tests that await them.
This is last class discussing The Book of Certitude will focus on the last four proofs of the Manifestation, and, in particular, of the Báb as Qá’im. It concludes with the forewarning by Bahá’u’lláh that the Bábís will be tested to recognize “Him Whom God will make manifest” (Bahá’u’lláh), even as the Moslems are being tested to recognize the Báb.
This is the first of two classes on The Tablet of the Holy Mariner,” an allegorical work whose intent the believers at the time understood, but which the contemporary reader needs some background information to appreciate and interpret. This class will help establish the groundwork for a more meaningful understanding of this important work.
This is an important allegorical work, the intent of which the believers at the time immediately understood, but which the contemporary reader needs some background information to appreciate and interpret. This class will help establish the groundwork for a more meaningful understanding and subsequent study of this important work.
While the Guardian notes that we know only a few of the details surrounding the momentous twelve days of the Festival of Ridvan during which time Baha’u’llah declared openly His station as the Manifestation foretold by the Bab (“Him Whom God will make manifest”), what we do know is well worth recounting and sharing, especially inasmuch as three of the nine Baha’i holy days on which work is to be suspended commemorate the first, ninth, and twelfth days of this occasion.
This Class discusses the arduous journey of 110 days of Baha”u’llah and His retinue from Baghdad to Samsun, and the two works associated with that journey, the Surih of Patience (also called the Surih of Job) and the Surih of the Howdah, which Baha’u’llah wrote as they came into view of the Black Sea.
After arriving in Constantinople, Bahá’u’lláh unveils His stature and comportment as a Manifestation of God and a prisoner to no one – neither to potentates nor any worldly force. By the end of this brief stay, Bahá’u’lláh’s life is never the same again. especially after His remarkable letter to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, ‘Abdu’l-Azíz.
After only four months in Constantinople, and partially the result of His refusal to kowtow to the authority and station of Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Azíz, Bahá’u’lláh and family were exiled in the dead of winter to travel the 150 miles to Adrianople. But during the four years in Adrianople that followed, some of the most dramatic and defining events of Bahá’í history take place, all in addition to weighty public declaration of His station and guidance to the leaders of the world.
The outpouring of works emanating from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh during the Adrianople period is immense, and we can hardly survey them all. We will, however, study the salient points in some of the better known works from that period, and we will begin with what is perhaps the most familiar to followers of the Bahá’í Faith, the highly regarded Tablet of Ahmad.
Among the most important works emanating from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh during the Adrianople period is The Súrih of the Temple. After being further exiled to `Akká, Bahá’u’lláh had this work configured into the calligraphic form of five-pointed star, and included within it five of the letters He had written to various political and religious leaders proclaiming His station and mission. This class will discuss the essential themes and structure of this important work, which appears in the collection Summons of the Lord of Hosts.
In addition to discussing some of the highlights regarding the letters Bahá’u’lláh sent to the Pope, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Náṣirid-Dín Sháh, we will discuss how the abiding themes of delegation of authority and the path to the Lesser Peace are presented by Bahá’u’lláh in this important work.
The class will examine briefly three of the four tablets included in Summons of the Lord of Hosts: the Súriy-i-Ra’ís, the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís, and the Lawḥ-i-Fu’ád. We will attempt to examine the historical context, note some of the major themes of these works, and examine a few of the prophecies they contain, as well as how these were realized shortly after the tablets were revealed.
The class examines briefly two of the major tablets revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Adrianople, together with a salient anecdote about Mírzá Muḥammad ‘Álí. This will end our examination of the Adrianople period, after which we will begin with the journey to `Akká, followed by classes on the tablets and events that constitute the highlights leading up to the climax of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh in 1873 with the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.
The class examines the highlights of the journey from Adrianople to `Akká, including the initial experiences that began two years of confinement in the barracks prison. This class will consist of pictures of the barracks, descriptions of the conditions the prisoners endured, the attempts of believers to visit Bahá’u’lláh, and the unfortunate death of Mírzá Mihdí.
The class examines the dramatic events that characterize the early years for Bahá’u’lláh and the other Bahá’ís in Akka. These include the death of Mirza Mihdi, the murder of Siyyid Muḥammad Iṣfáhání, and the delivery of the letter to the Sháh by Badí`.
This first discussion of the singular importance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book or The Mother Book) of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, will cover the structure, methodology, and theme of this work, in addition to the prerequisites that were necessary for translating to the work authoritatively into English.
Since the Manifestations reveal laws and social ordinances only as humankind is ready to understand and implement them, we may safely presume that Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation and explicit directives regarding the equality of women and men imply that humanity currently has both the experience and capacity to comprehend this verity and implement it in contemporary society. This session discusses what seem to be distinction in the functions of women and men in Bahá’í teachings.
The Laws of Bahá’u’lláh not only establish the pattern for achieving nearness to God through individual and collective behavior; they also establish the boundaries for what constitutes negative behavior and, by designated the punishment for a few offenses, present a model of how society should design other offenses. This class will examine the distinction between those offenses that are entirely personal (between man and God) and those that come under the purview of social institutions. It will further discuss some distinctions between the Bahá’í model and contemporary systems of jurisprudence as regards criminal behavior.
In examining some of the most influential philosophers and how they influenced religious thought in the evolution of Western thought, Bahá’u’lláh in the Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat explores the divine wisdom that these individuals comprehended, but ultimately focuses on His assertion that “A true philosopher would never deny God nor His evidences, rather would he acknowledge His glory and overpowering majesty which overshadow all created things. Verily We love those men of knowledge who have brought to light such tings as to promote the best interests of humanity….” We will explore the highlights of this important work.
There are several tablets by Bahá’u’lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) that contain lists of some of the laws, exhortations, and ordinances. In these works, Bahá’u’lláh may comment on these, elucidate others, or explain their relationship and relevance to His vision of the reformation of society He has introduced in His blueprint for a world commonwealth. The abiding effect of reviewing these works, especially when read together, is to expand our vision about how a global community will function and what are some of the essential components in constructing this next stage in our collective social and moral evolution.
This survey of some of the major works revealed by Bahá’u’lláh after the Aqdas will require two classes to review the themes of “The Most Holy Tablet,” “Tablet of the World,” “Tablet of Maqsud,” “Tablet to Vafa,” Tablet to Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji,” Tablet of the Proof,” and Tablet of the Land of Bá” While these will not be detailed examinations, we will try to assess the purpose and highlights of each work.