I became a Baha’i in 1974, spent six years overseas pioneering in the Falkland Islands and Africa before returning to the U.S. From 1983 I was essentially an isolated believer in Northern Nevada, and it took a long time for fundamentalism, IPG and the “New Culture” in the Baha’i Faith to catch up with me. During all the years since 1974 a number of questions and problems with the Faith and my experience in it and life began to come up but I dealt with them in a way that allowed me to remain a Baha’i. But when I was finally pushed into a corner by fundamentalism in the Faith, all these questions came up demanding to be answered and I realized that there was nowhere in the Baha’i Faith that I could exist any more. In 2007 I began moving out of it and seeking another spiritual path that I could be in harmony with. I found, once I was outside the Faith, that God was a lot bigger, kinder and more accepting than I had ever thought as a Baha’i and that it was the intent of the heart that mattered.
I don’t believe this Divine Springtime that is so obviously taking place in the world can be contained in any one Faith, set of beliefs or organization. That includes the Baha’i Faith, even if it does reform itself and become more liberal. In my opinion, a multitude of spiritual paths exist because each of them has something unique to say about the Divine, and provides some insight that the others don’t, or don’t do as well. People are a diverse bunch; there is no way that everyone will find the Baha’i Faith an attractive avenue to God at any time in the future. To me Unity in Diversity means that we realize that all efforts to reach God will work and contribute something to the spiritual life of the planet.
I agree that the Faith has painted itself into a corner. But it seems to me that in large part this has been a natural consequence of trying to implement what Abdu’l Baha considered important. Teaching was one of these – Tablets of the Divine Plan, “If the teaching work is not carried out, all support will be cut off.” Another is the central idea that the Baha’i Faith is the revelation for this Day, and that all other spiritual paths are darkened horizons. This has led to many bad fruits, such as separating the world into Baha’i and non Baha’i, an attitude of arrogance toward non believers, and a parochial, restricted outlook on the world. Because teaching was given such emphasis, it has steadily grown and swallowed up the Faith to where it is not a spiritual path any more, but mainly a machine whose sole aim is to gain new converts.
There are so many things I could say, but I won’t here, at least not in this letter. I don’t know if the Faith will reform itself or not, but I wouldn’t count it out just yet. Christianity has a dismal 2000 year history of making all the mistakes that the Faith is trying out now, and has nevertheless been very successful and shows no sign of going away any time soon.
regards to all,
First appeared on Iranian.com