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How do I become Baha’i?
Religion

How Can I Learn More about the Baha’i Faith?

Christopher Buck | Oct 30, 2014

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

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Christopher Buck | Oct 30, 2014

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

When people first encounter the Baha’i Faith and begin to learn about it, they’re often overwhelmed. The Baha’i teachings have enormous depth and scope, covering just about every aspect of human life in this world and the next. Studying and learning about any great Faith can take a lifetime.

Did you know that there’s a Baha’i distance education course that’s open to the public? It’s called the Wilmette Institute.

BahaiTeachings.org, in collaboration with the Wilmette Institute, will now begin featuring articles on these courses—and encouraging interested readers to consider taking them.

So let me introduce a course that’s coming up soon (starting on November 1, 2014): It’s called Tabernacle of Unity:

The five tablets in The Tabernacle of Unity proclaim some of the central tenets of Baha’u’llah’s Faith and the universality of his prophetic claims. In the six-week course we will undertake a careful reading of the five tablets, exploring the Baha’i concepts of progressive revelation and the role of religion in advancing human civilization; the relevance of the tablets to interfaith dialogue; and what the tablets teach us about the process of revelation. Baha’u’llah addressed two tablets to a Zoroastrian who admired him and who asked questions about Zoroastrianism and Hinduism; and three tablets to Baha’is of Zoroastrian background. The first tablet to the Zoroastrian admirer discusses a variety of questions about the tenets of Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions, emphasizing what is right and true in the various doctrines and beliefs under examination. When the admirer indicated that he had hoped for more detailed answers, Baha’u’llah revealed a longer tablet (the second one in the book) elaborating on each of the questions. As a group, the tablets show Baha’u’llah’s love for the followers of a religion that arose in Iran, where his own revelation was born.

With the exception of The Hidden Words, Tabernacle of Unity may actually be the easiest of all of Baha’u’llah’s writings to study and understand. In fact, Tabernacle includes a number of pithy aphorisms, or wise sayings, you can easily commit to memory. Here are a few examples, followed by their paragraph numbers in the book:

• True peace and tranquillity will only be realized when every soul will have become the well-wisher of all mankind. – ¶ 1.9.

• The first bestowal of God is the Word, and its discoverer and recipient is the power of understanding. – ¶ 1.2.

• The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. – ¶ 1.4.

• Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. – ¶ 1.4.

• O children of dust! Turn your faces from the darkness of estrangement to the effulgent light of the daystar of unity. This is that which above all else will benefit the peoples of the earth. – ¶ 1.10.

• This, verily, is that Light which hath been foretold in the heavenly scriptures. – ¶ 1.12.

• O people! Words must be supported by deeds, for deeds are the true test of words. – ¶ 1.13.

• The heart is the treasury of My mystery; surrender it not into the hand of covetous desires. – ¶ 1.17.

Silent tears came to my eyes, on reading a couple of them. It might be more manly, I suppose, not to divulge this fact. But I’m being open in saying that, if you’re in the right frame of mind, and have the proper receptivity of soul and heart, these profound aphorisms are as powerful and as deeply moving as they are simple.

Let me assure you that, although I am independent scholar, with many publications to my credit, my approach is not solely academic. I have a deep appreciation for the subject matter, and encourage my students not to be embarrassed to express their emotions, as well as their thoughts, when reading any of these passages.

Baha'i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois

Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois

If you do take a Wilmette Institute course, you’ll certainly learn more about the subject. The faculty only asks that students have a heart open to learning; the courage to ask questions, no matter how simple or small; and an eagerness to discuss ideas from different perspectives. Don’t let prior challenges with schools, classes, or teachers hold you back—these courses encourage learning in a spirit of loving fellowship and camraderie.

Here’s the faculty profile of the lead instructor for this course, Susan Maneck, PhD. Here’s my faculty profile, for what it’s worth. The Wilmette Institute public website is here.

If you click on “courses” and “upcoming,” a list of courses comes up. Click on any individual course and you’ll get detailed information, with a “Register” button in the upper right corner. Each course has a nominal cost, but full scholarships are available, especially for seekers studying the Baha’i Faith.

I hope to meet you during one of our Wilmette Institute courses, and I’ll close with one of my favorite passages from The Tabernacle of Unity:

• The Tongue of Wisdom proclaimeth: He that hath Me not is bereft of all things. Turn ye away from all that is on earth and seek none else but Me. I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight. – ¶ 1.14.

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Comments

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  • Nov 22, 2015
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    Bahai is esoteric. Possibly for corporate business owners only. As a poor Christian, I once showed interest, but that turned out to be my worst mistake ever! I was prosecuted for years. And yes, it has been officially declared that I should never ever try to seek contact with any Bahai ever!
    So I keep wondering why you're still trying to encourage people to learn some more about the Bahai faith.
  • Oct 31, 2014
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    Here is the direct link to the course summary for Tabernacle of Unity: http://www.cvent.com/events/tabernacle-of-unity/event-summary-47211edf8ba64ed7a07d040d72f32214.aspx
  • Oct 30, 2014
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    Much appreciated, I've posted to my Facebook and also tweeted this. Unfortunately, I'm unavailable Nov. 1, so I must wait untilthe next session.
    • Oct 30, 2014
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      Thanks for posting your comment. The course might actually be delayed a week. It's flexible, too, so you could always "catch up" when you become available again. Some students rarely post, while others post a lot. No grades. No pressure. Just encouragement. There are other courses as well. (I teach a few of them.) I can already tell that your participation would enhance the learning dynamic!
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