Saturday, September 13, 2014

If You Obey Me



A piece of prose/poetry from the days I first became a Baha'i (1978).
I cam from a Christian background and the hymn Trust and Obey was running through my head while I wrote this.

"If  you obey Me you will see that which we have promised you, and I will make you the friends of My Soul in the realm of My Greatness and the Companions of My Beauty in the heaven of My Might forever. "    

Baha’u’llah  (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 103)

If You Obey Me

We the people, arose
To sing Him praise
The words we sang
Had a sobering effect,
That made up pause
And deeply reflect
On what we’ve wrought
In God’s days.

The words,
Oh the words to that song.
Trust and Obey
For there’s no other way
To be happy today
Than to trust and obey,
Words that haunt you
All life long.

We remembered sitting
And listening in tears
To Moses as He revealed
God’s Tablets of Laws
Realizing the depth
Of all our flaws
Sensing the darkness
Of our prior years

And the words
The words that He said
Trust and Obey
Or you will never see
That Promised Day
Of entering Caanan
Through heavens gateway
Trust and Obey

We remembered them all
God’s Prophets, their days
How they taught us

More of God’s ways.
How we treated them
The blood on our hands
Actions of ours that
We don’t understand

And Their Words,
Their Words were the same.
Trust and Obey
For there is no other way
To be happy in any day
Than to Trust and Obey.
The Kingdom is God’s
He alone will reign.

We thought of today,
When God in all His Glory
Revealed Baha’u’llah, the object
Of the Prophetic story,
And how the Promised Day
Is right now, right here
And how we still long to see
Caanan, God’s Kingdom so dear.

Oh Lord, the spirit is willing
But the flesh is weak.
May our flesh be consumed
that we may speak
the praise of You
Who are eternally One.
May we be the channels through which
Thy will, will be done.

And our song,
Our song must be the same
Trust and Obey
For this is the King of Days
And there is no other way
To be happy today
Than to Trust and Obey
Trust and Obey.

Economics - some quotes from the Writings of Baha'u'llah


O Children of Dust! 

Tell the rich of the midnight sighing of the poor, lest heedlessness lead them into the path of destruction, and deprive them of the Tree of Wealth. To give and to be generous are attributes of Mine; well is it with him that adorneth himself with My virtues. 

(Hidden Words 49 Persian)
___________
O Oppressors on Earth! 

Withdraw your hands from tyranny, for I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man's injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal. 

(Hidden Words 64 Persian)
___________


O Ye That Pride Yourselves on Mortal Riches! 

Know ye in truth that wealth is a mighty barrier between the seeker and his desire, the lover and his beloved. The rich, but for a few, shall in no wise attain the court of His presence nor enter the city of content and resignation. Well is it then with him, who, being rich, is not hindered by his riches from the eternal kingdom, nor deprived by them of imperishable dominion. By the Most Great Name! The splendor of such a wealthy man shall illuminate the dwellers of heaven even as the sun enlightens the people of the earth! 

(Hidden Words 53 Persian)

___________

The twelfth glad tidings: It is made incumbent on every one of you to engage in some one occupation, such as arts, trades, and the like. We have made this -- your occupation -- identical with the worship of God, the True One. Reflect, O people, upon the mercy of God and upon His favors, then thank Him at dawn and at dusk.


Waste not your time in idleness and indolence, and occupy yourselves with that which will profit yourselves and others beside yourselves. Thus hath the matter been decreed in this Tablet from the horizon of which the sun of wisdom and divine utterance is gleaming. The most despised of men before God is he who sits and begs. Cling unto the rope of means, relying upon God, the Causer of Causes. Every soul who occupies himself in an art or trace -- this will be accounted an act of worship before God….  Verily, this is from naught else than His great and abundant favor! 

(Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 98-9)

What is the solution of the economic problem?

What is the solution of the economic problem?

The essence of the Bahá'í spirit is that, in order to establish a better social order and economic condition, there must be allegiance to the laws and principles of government. Under the laws which are to govern the world, the socialists may justly demand human rights but without resort to force and violence. The governments will enact these laws, establishing just legislation and economics in order that all humanity may enjoy a full measure of welfare and privilege; but this will always be according to legal protection and procedure. Without legislative administration, rights and demands fail, and the welfare of the commonwealth cannot be realized…
.
The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit. This is fully explained in the Bahá'í teaching, and without knowledge of its principles no improvement in the economic state can be realized. 

(The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 233-4)

The arrangements of the circumstances of the people must be such that poverty shall disappear, that everyone, as far as possible, according to his rank and position, shall share in comfort and well-being….It cannot be done by bringing to pass absolute equality between men….The law of order must always obtain in the world of humanity. Heaven has so decreed in the creation of Man….

It is important to limit riches, as it is also of importance to limit poverty….A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find tyranny….The rich must give of their abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate intelligence….


There must be special laws made, dealing with these extremes of riches and of want. The members of the Government should consider the laws of God when they are framing plans for the ruling of the people. The general rights of mankind must be guarded and preserved

(The Wisdom of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 140-3)

Economics - Directives from the Guardian

"As you say, the Writings are not so rich on this subject and many issues at present baffling the minds of the world are not even mentioned. The primary consideration is the spirit that has to permeate our economic life, and this will gradually crystallize itself into definite institutions and principles that will help to bring about the ideal condition foretold by Bahá'u'lláh."

"No, Bahá'u'lláh did not bring a complete system of economics to the world. Profit sharing is recommended as a solution to one form of economic problems. There is nothing in the teachings against some kind of capitalism; its present form, though, would require adjustments to be made."

"There are practically no technical teachings on economics in the Cause, such as banking, the price system, and others. The Cause is not an economic system, nor its Founders be considered as having been technical economists. The contribution of the Faith to this subject is essentially indirect, as it consists of the application of spiritual principles to our present-day economic system. Bahá'u'lláh has given us a few basic principles which should guide future Bahá'í economists in establishing such institutions which will adjust the economic relationships of the world.
..
"Social inequality is the inevitable outcome of the natural inequality of man. Human beings are different in ability and should, therefore, be different in their social and economic standing. Extremes of wealth and poverty should, however, be abolished...

"The Master has definitely stated that wages should be unequal, simply because that men are unequal in their ability and hence should receive wages that would correspond to their varying capacities and resources."


Directives From the Guardian
pages 20-21

Economics - a short talk by Abdul-Baha

Talk given 23 July 1912

Talk at Hotel Victoria
Boston, Massachusetts

Notes by Edna McKinney
The Bahá'ís must not engage in political movements which lead to sedition. They must interest themselves in movements which conduce to law and order. In Persia at the present time the Bahá'ís have no part in the revolutionary upheavals which have terminated in lawlessness and rebellion. Nevertheless, a Bahá'í may hold a political office and be interested in politics of the right type. Ministers, state officials and governor-generals in Persia are Bahá'ís, and there are many other Bahá'ís holding governmental positions; but nowhere throughout the world should the followers of Bahá'u'lláh be engaged in seditious movements. For example, if there should be an uprising here in America having for its purpose the establishment of a despotic government, the Bahá'ís should not be connected with it.

The Bahá'í Cause covers all economic and social questions under the heading and ruling of its laws. The essence of the Bahá'í spirit is that, in order to establish a better social order and economic condition, there must be allegiance to the laws and principles of government. Under the laws which are to govern the world, the socialists may justly demand human rights but without resort to force and violence. The governments will enact these laws, establishing just legislation and economics in order that all humanity may enjoy a full measure of welfare and privilege; but this will always be according to legal protection and procedure. Without legislative administration, rights and demands fail, and the welfare of the commonwealth cannot be realized. Today the method of demand is the strike and resort to force, which is manifestly wrong and destructive of human foundations. Rightful privilege and demand must be set forth in laws and regulations.

While thousands are considering these questions, we have more essential purposes. The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit. This is fully explained in the Bahá'í teaching, and without knowledge of its principles no improvement in the economic state can be realized. The Bahá'ís will bring about this improvement and betterment but not through sedition and appeal to physical force--not through warfare, but welfare. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, "It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community," and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it. Endeavor to become the cause of the attraction of souls rather than to enforce minds. Manifest true economics to the people. Show what love is, what kindness is, what true severance is and generosity. This is the important thing for you to do. Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. All His Books will be translated. Now is the time for you to live in accordance with His words. Let your deeds be the real translation of their meaning. Economic questions will not attract hearts. The love of God alone will attract them. Economic questions are most interesting; but the power which moves, controls and attracts the hearts of men is the love of God.


The Promulgation of Universal Peace
pages 238-239

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Baha'i Teachings on Economics

This is the text of a pamphlet from a long time back published by the Baha'i's of England.

I have added footnotes to the quotes in the text and published the quotes and their references at the bottom of the document.

I found this very thought provoking.

Baha'i Economics

Re-adjustment of the social economy is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it ensures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible." (1)

The Bahá'í analysis of the present condition of the world is that it is in the throes of evolution towards a new set of conditions and a new age. The economic problems reflect to a large degree the political and spiritual state of the world. Bahá'í economic principles should be seen in the light of general Bahá'í beliefs. The most fundamental beliefs are, firstly, that we should treat all people, of whatever country, race, gender or class, as of equal worth. Secondly that we should have a form of world government with a peace-keeping role. The establishment of world peace would not only free vast resources at present devoted to warfare and defence, but would also allow all areas of the world to develop unhindered by war.

At the same time, rampant materialism must give way to a more balanced view of the world, in which everyone has the right to a reasonable standard of living and in which resources can be conserved. At present, a cycle of slump and boom characterises western economies, while industrialised former communist countries strive to adapt to market forces, and much of the developing world struggles against poverty and a world economic system loaded against them.

Ultimately, Bahá'ís believe that all the world's population will become a united community, diverse in their national and individual characteristics, but co-operating in one shared world civilisation. This civilisation will be based on justice. All trade barriers will be removed, a common system of weights and measures adopted, a world currency established and interest rates set at a fair level. These measures would foster trade between countries and remove many of the difficulties faced by less developed nations.

"The essence of the matter is that Divine Justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life." (2)

Work and the Individual

"It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organisation of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilising such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood." (3)

"It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the true One..... Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others." (4)

Profit-sharing is advocated as a general principle, allowing workers to have a greater role and interest in their employment:

"According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work." (5)

Implicit in this is a partnership between capital and labour. Employee/employer relations should be based on spiritual principles, backed up by laws which are just to both sides:

"The mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws." (6)

Redistribution of Wealth

"Absolute equality in fortunes, honours, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in chaos, in disorganisation of the means of existence, and in universal disappointment; the order of the community would be quite destroyed." (7)

Although absolute equality is not possible, extremes of poverty and wealth must certainly be eliminated. Each person has the right to the basic necessities of life but no-one has the right to more wealth than he or she can use. Taxation laws should be designed to ensure that everyone exists within comfortable limits.

The Role of the Local Community

Economic progress depends on a balance between the needs of the different members of the community. In the Bahá'í view, this will work better as mankind evolves a proper community spirit, and local communities are allowed freedom of initiative. Although many Bahá'í teachings are clearly global in application, complete transformation will be from the grass roots:

"The solution begins with the village, and when the village is reconstructed, then the cities will be also." (8)

Bahá'u'lláh, the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith, reminds us that agriculture is essentially the most important industry. Bahá'u'lláh's son, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, gave an example of how the system of local finance should work, based on an agricultural community. The principle is the same for towns and cities, but operating on a more directly financial basis.

As weather conditions vary from year to year, it is recommended that each village has a local storehouse, where a certain percentage of the harvest is kept. This would be under the control of the local authority, which would also receive income from a graduated income tax. It would also receive a proportion of the income from any mining operations in the area.

Great importance is put upon a detailed system of financial support, administered by the local authority. A family whose income exceeds its needs is taxed, but a family which does not earn enough to support itself is supported by the local community.

Each local community would contribute to the national funds, if it could afford to do so, but could also be supported by national funds if necessary. The same principle would apply at international level.

The details of how this system will operate will clearly vary from one community to another, and from one time to another.

Voluntary Contributions

In the Bahá'í Writings, great importance is given to voluntary sharing of wealth. Voluntary contributions form part of the income of the local authority. Concern for one's fellow beings is essential to the Bahá'í approach.

A form of voluntary capital gains tax is also advocated and is already in operation in the Bahá'í community. Bahá'ís pay into the international fund 19% of any increase in wealth which may have been accumulated over a period of time. The amount to be taxed is total income minus necessary living expenses. Although there are general guidelines, what constitutes a necessary expense is up to the conscience of the individual.

When people become citizens of the world, voluntary giving will be on a larger scale than at present:

"The time will come in the near future when humanity will become so much more sensitive than at present that the man of great wealth will not enjoy his luxury, in comparison with the deplorable poverty about him. He will be forced, for his own happiness, to expend his wealth to procure better conditions for the community in which he lives."  (9)

The many specific recommendations relating to economic questions to be found in the Bahá'í Writings cannot each successfully operate alone. For example, the system of financial support can only work properly when people are generally honest, and profit-sharing schemes depend upon mutual trust and goodwill.

Although the implementation of certain economic principles could improve the lot of humanity, it is only when the need for justice and social equality is universally recognised that the full impact can be achieved, for in reality:

"The secrets of the whole economic question are Divine in nature, and are concerned with the world of the heart and spirit."  (10)

Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,
27, Rutland Gate, London, SW7 1PD.


1)      “This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”   (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 240)
2)      “The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and enjoyment in life.”
(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 132)
3)      “It is the duty of those who are in charge of the organization of society to give every individual the opportunity of acquiring the necessary talent in some kind of profession, and also the means of utilizing such a talent, both for its own sake and for the sake of earning the means of his livelihood.” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 192)
4)      “It is enjoined upon every one of you to engage in some form of occupation, such as crafts, trades and the like. We have graciously exalted your engagement in such work to the rank of worship unto God, the True One. Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. Waste not your time in idleness and sloth. Occupy yourselves with that which profiteth yourselves and others.”  (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 26)
5)      “According to the divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work.” Abdul-Baha (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 145)
6)      “But the mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and impartial laws.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 276)
7)      “However, absolute equality is just as impossible, for absolute equality in fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in disorderliness, in chaos, in disorganization of the means of existence, and in universal disappointment: the order of the community would be quite destroyed.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 274)
8)      Cannot confirm this quote.
9)      Found similar quote: “For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, "It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community," and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.” (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 239)

10)  “The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit.”(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238)