Inspired
by the
Baha’i Faith
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith. The official website of the Baha'i Faith is: Bahai.org. The official website of the Baha'is of the United States can be found here: Bahai.us.
GOT IT
The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
How do I become Baha’i?
Culture

The Bassoon King—Growing Up Baha’i in the ‘70s

Rainn Wilson | Nov 10, 2015

PART 1 IN SERIES Rainn Wilson’s Life in Art Faith and Idiocy

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Interested in Other Topics?

We’ve got something for everyone.
Rainn Wilson | Nov 10, 2015

PART 1 IN SERIES Rainn Wilson’s Life in Art Faith and Idiocy

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

[In his new memoir, The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson, actor and author Rainn Wilson writes in great detail about his spiritual journey. We at BahaiTeachings wanted to share a series of four excerpts from the book, highlighting some aspects of the Baha’i Faith and Rainn’s unique, comedic take on the religion of his youth—and his adulthood.]

The Bassoon King by Rainn WilsonAs a Baha’i, I was raised to believe that all the races were one human race and that the color of our skin made us beautiful and distinct like the flowers of one human garden. We were taught as children that men and women were equal and that fighting for justice in the world was the “best beloved” of all things in God’s eyes.

Young Baha’is are taught that the best of human virtues are the qualities of God Himself and that as we radiate kindness, humility, compassion, and honesty we are shining with the light of the Creator that is inside every single one of us. We learned, as fledgling Baha’is, the idea that “work in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship:”

Education holds an important place in the new order of things. The education of each child is compulsory… In addition to this widespread education each child must be taught a profession, art, or trade, so that every member of the community will be enabled to earn his own livelihood. Work done in the spirit of service is the highest form of worship. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 83.

This is great stuff for a kid. None of that guilt crap to bog one down. We weren’t born sinful in this worldview, you see. We’re noble beings who are dual natured, both divine and animalistic in our essence.

God loves us, no matter what we do. There’s no hell either, just in case you were wondering. (Can you imagine the despicable absurdity of a loving God creating us only to torture us FOREVER— which is a super-duper long time, by the way— in a fiery pit because we didn’t recognize the divinity of Jesus or Muhammad? What a cruel, horrible God that would be! I mean, how vindictive can you get?) In the Baha’i view, after we’re done in this physical world and have shed our meat suits, our souls (whatever they are) move on to another plane of existence and our good deeds and qualities are all that we take with us.

People were far more open to ideas of and conversations about spirituality and religion in the early seventies. Spirituality had seeped into the cultural groundwater. Religion no longer necessarily meant “Catholic, Protestant, Jew,” but was a legitimate, alternative pathway that aided in ordering and experiencing the world in a more feeling, intuitive, connective way. Every Tom, Dick, and Dirty Harry was on a mystical journey of some sort or other. People of all stripes became “spiritual seekers” and were having some kind of transcendent, mystical experience everywhere you turned. Everyone was all like “Be here now” and “I’m okay, you’re okay.” Yoga, communes, meditation, and health food were culturally accepted spiritual paths. The Beatles went to India to meditate with the maharishi. Cat Stevens became a Muslim. Shirley MacLaine explored past lives. Steve Jobs did Buddhist retreats long before he did corporate ones. Both “new age” spirituality and environmentalism came into being in that incense-soaked “age of Aquarius.”

Our personal heroes were Seals and Crofts, the folky, long- haired, mandolin-rockin’ duo that sang “Summer Breeze” and “Hummingbird” and were quite vocal about their Baha’i Faith.

HiResLater on, as I would found the website and media company SoulPancake, which was inspired by many Baha’i ideas, I realized looking back that our home frequently had long, intense discussions of “Life’s Big Questions,” which SoulPancake was built around. Investigating other folks’ belief systems, faith, and philosophy was a big part of being alive in the seventies. Our bookshelves at home were filled with books on Sikhism, Sufism, Buddhism, Egyptian mythology, and Native American spirituality. We had art books filled with paintings and sculptures from every corner of the world. An informal talk about the Faith was called a “fireside,” and there were always long- haired artists and intellectuals and curious housewives in macramé vests and clogs sitting around our living room, digging into these topics with great abandon.

My dad once told me that people were so open to having these kinds of discussions in those days that you could just go up to somebody on the street and say, “Hey, we’re going to have a spiritual gathering with some music at our house tonight, wanna come by?” And the random person would say nine times out of ten, “Sure, man, sounds totally groovy,” or “I’m in, brother,” or “Whoa! Heavy!” or something like that, and before you knew it there’d be a full house of people that resembled background actors from That ’70s Show. Can you imagine doing that today? Going up to a group of twentysomethings in a Starbucks and saying, “Hey, you guys want to come to a spiritual gathering at my house tonight?” You’d clear out the Starbucks faster than you can say “anthrax chai latte.”

To buy a copy of Rainn’s book visit: http://ow.ly/TLtJS

(This excerpt comes from The Bassoon King, the new memoir by Rainn Wilson, published this week by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015. Reprinted by permission.)

You May Also Like

Culture

Using Art to Find Your Spiritual Identity

Culture

Legalizing Marijuana - How About the Soul?

Culture

Only a World Government Can Truly Tackle Climate Change


Comments

characters remaining
  • Robert Green
    Dec 24, 2017
    -
    Can you imagine doing that today? Going up to a group of twentysomethings in a Starbucks and saying, “Hey, you guys want to come to a spiritual gathering at my house tonight?” You’d clear out the Starbucks faster than you can say “anthrax chai latte.”
    then don't go to starbucks lol it's closed now but I went to "kharma café" and the name hahahaha easy pickins :)
  • Mary Hubbart
    Nov 25, 2015
    -
    Did you go to the 1st Baha'i Youth Conference in 1967 in Wilmette?
  • Nov 12, 2015
    -
    Dear Rainn, your interview with Oprah Winfrey was one of the most awesome-st i have seen to date. I saw her jaws literally drop with awe when you mentioned that work done in the spirit of service is worship. Something in the way you said it had a lot of impact even for a Bahai like me of over 20 some years. Well done in your spiritual education to mankind
  • J.Mila McClarren
    Nov 11, 2015
    -
    Groovy brother. I became a Baha'i in '69. Looking forward to reading your book. :o)
x
x
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Welcome!
What's your name?
Thanks my friend ! We want to connect you with a Baha’i in your area, where would that be?
Thank you so much! How can they best reach you?
To put you in touch with a Baha’i in your area who can answer your questions, we would like to kindly ask for a few details about yourself.
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Connect with Baha’is in your area
Get in touch with the Baha’is in your community.