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'Abdu'l-Baha's charter for sustainable development - Secret of Divine Civilization

Discussion in 'Baha'i Faith DIR' started by Truthseeker9, Jul 24, 2021.

  1. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2018
    These are detailed notes from an ABS presentation. Some passages are not from Secret of Divine Civilization, but this is the presenter's way of presenting the essence of the book.

    We should continually be establishing new bases for human happiness and creating and promoting new instrumentalities toward this end.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 6

    The primary purpose, the basic objective, in laying down powerful laws and setting up great principles and institutions dealing with every aspect of civilization, is human happiness; and human happiness consists only in drawing closer to the Threshold of Almighty God, and in securing the peace and well-being of every individual member, high and low alike, of the human race; and the supreme agencies for accomplishing these two objectives are the excellent qualities with which humanity has been endowed.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 109

    Through association and meeting we find happiness and development, individual and collective.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", 14.2

    Personal development and the development of human society are inextricably linked through service to each other. The more we do one, the more we do the other.

    1. A healthy society must have a spiritual, as well as a material dimension.
    We are spiritual beings.

    The purpose of society is not insatiable consumption.

    How can a society be healthy and sustainable if it ignores the most important aspect of human identity?

    Material and divine civilization must be united.

    Material civilization is like unto the lamp, while spiritual civilization is the light in that lamp. If the material and spiritual civilization become united, then we will have the light and the lamp together, and the outcome will be perfect. For material civilization is like unto a beautiful body, and spiritual civilization is like unto the spirit of life. If that wondrous spirit of life enters this beautiful body, the body will become a channel for the distribution and development of the perfections of humanity.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", 5.2

    if material civilization shall become organized in conjunction with divine civilization...war, which has raged for thousands of years, will pass away.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Promulgation of Universal Peace", 42.4

    He's redefining modernity. Modernity is not just making tremendous advances materially, modernity requires both material development and spiritual development.

    2. A healthy civilization must be centered on serving others.

    Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and... vie with his fellows in service to the good of all;
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 208

    Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 5

    3. A healthy civilization must be dynamic and progressive

    Move forward like a river.

    Evolve over time like a human being

    A healthy civilization embraces both science and religion , and both must be dynamic and progressive.

    We should be open to learn from other nations and adopt what has worked.

    Tradition is one of the greatest enemies of progress.

    Among these teachings was the independent investigation of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth; may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown garment of a thousand years ago and may put on the robe woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of reality.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "Tablets to the Hague", 1.7
    1. (to be continued)
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  2. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2018
    4. Religion is indispensable to a healthy civilization

    True religion promotes civilization, prosperity and learning.

    True religion is the firm foundation “assuring both the spiritual and the material perfections of mankind, and protecting the happiness and the civilization of society”
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 130

    A healthy civilization requires

    commitment to justice and fairness
    fellowship and unity

    Religion is the best instrument to achieve these by

    Producing human virtues
    Engendering self-sacrifice and a willingness to serve others.

    the perfect means for engendering fellowship and union is true religion.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 135

    'Abdu'l-Baha redefines religion

    Religion is not the worship of tradition

    Religion is the spirit of religion which is dynamic progressive and liberating

    Its teachings revolve around the fundamental principle that religious truth is not absolute but relative, that Divine Revelation is progressive, not final.
    Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh", 4.19

    Each specific religion is a dynamic and progressive force for it's time.

    True religion cannot be in conflict with true science because they both seek to understand the truth.

    But the religion which does not walk hand in hand with science is itself in the darkness of superstition and ignorance. Much of the discord and disunion of the world is created by these man-made oppositions and contradictions. If religion were in harmony with science and they walked together, much of the hatred and bitterness now bringing misery to the human race would be at an end.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "Paris Talks", 44.16

    We need just not scientific and technical freedom, but also spiritual freedom. The greatest prison is the prison of self.

    Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.
    Bahá’u’lláh, "Tabernacle of Unity", 1.4

    Religion should not be judged by religious hypocrites

    the principles of the divine religions can hardly be evaluated by the acts of those who only claim to follow them. For every excellent thing, peerless though it may be, can still be diverted to the wrong ends.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 131

    true religion promotes the civilization and honor, the prosperity and prestige, the learning and advancement of a people once abject, enslaved and ignorant, and when it falls into the hands of religious leaders who are foolish and fanatical, it is diverted to the wrong ends, until this greatest of splendors turns into blackest night.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 143

    a thousand selfish purposes are concealed behind the supposedly religious eloquence of certain individuals.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 102

    You can see the same thing with pseudo science that shows one class is above another class, one race is above another race, one gender is above another gender. One nation, above another nation. We don't condemn science for this, we condemn the authors of these theories. The same should be true for religion. Any one who uses religion to divide people is not true religion.

    5. Civilization should be world embracing

    Justice requires seeing humanity as one.

    An attribute of perfection is justice and impartiality..It means to consider the welfare of the community as one’s own. It means, in brief, to regard humanity as a single individual, and one’s own self as a member of that corporeal form, and to know of a certainty that if pain or injury afflicts any member of that body, it must inevitably result in suffering for all the rest.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 71

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects everyone indirectly”
    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Covid 19 has taught us this truth. Global warming does, too.

    Being human requires serving humanity

    That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race... Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth... It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.
    Bahá’u’lláh, "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh", 117

    It's as if Baha'u'llah is saying you don't have the right to call yourself a human being, you don't have a right to this exalted station of being a human being, unless you are engaged in service.

    Oneness of humanity is also a structural imperative.

    The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.
    Bahá’u’lláh, "Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh", 131.2

    True civilization requires universal peace.

    Universal peace requires a Union of the peoples of the world and a biding treaty and covenant that
    Clearly establishes the limits and frontiers of each and every nation
    Lays down the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another
    Ascertains all international agreements and obligations
    Strictly limits the armaments of each nation.

    This Most Great Covenant must obtain the sanction of all the human race.

    Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 120

    6. True civilization should seek unity in diversity, not uniformity.

    The purpose is neither to stifle the flame of a sane and intelligent patriotism in men’s hearts, nor to abolish the system of national autonomy so essential if the evils of excessive centralization are to be avoided. It does not ignore, nor does it attempt to suppress, the diversity of ethnical origins, of climate, of history, of language and tradition, of thought and habit, that differentiate the peoples and nations of the world. It calls for a wider loyalty, for a larger aspiration than any that has animated the human race. It insists upon the subordination of national impulses and interests to the imperative claims of a unified world. It repudiates excessive centralization on one hand, and disclaims all attempts at uniformity on the other. Its watchword is unity in diversity
    Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh", 3.30

    It's a global vision, yet decentralized.

    Diversity is beautiful!

    The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "Paris Talks", 15.7

    The diversity of the garden enhances the uniqueness of each flower.

    7. Education is key to releasing dynamic power required for progress.

    Education should be universal, and if necessary compulsory.

    Until the nerves and arteries of the nation stir into life, every measure that is attempted will prove vain; for the people are as the human body, and determination and the will to struggle are as the soul, and a soulless body does not move... the spread of education will release it. [dynamic power]
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 199

    No nation can achieve prosperity without education.

    The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It is inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, "The Secret of Divine Civilization", 193

    Towards an unimaginably glorious world civilization.

    Who can doubt that such a consummation — the coming of age of the human race — must signalize, in its turn, the inauguration of a world civilization such as no mortal eye hath ever beheld or human mind conceived? Who is it that can imagine the lofty standard which such a civilization, as it unfolds itself, is destined to attain? Who can measure the heights to which human intelligence, liberated from its shackles, will soar? Who can visualize the realms which the human spirit, vitalized by the outpouring light of Bahá’u’lláh, shining in the plenitude of its glory, will discover?
    Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh", 7.115
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