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Featured Pioneering: Teaching or Proselytizing?

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by SalixIncendium, Aug 11, 2019.

  1. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    Some material posted in another thread inspired me to do some additional reading outside of RF, which led to the creation of this thread. Allow me to preface this thread by saying this is in no way an attack on the Baha'i faith nor its followers, nor will I allow it to become one. It is, however, a critical analysis of the Baha'i practice of "pioneering."

    While I know we have an active thread on proselytizing, I did not want to derail it with an analysis of this practice. So what is pioneering you ask?

    "A pioneer is a volunteer Bahá'í who leaves his or her home to journey to another place (often another country) for the purpose of teaching the Bahá'í Faith. The act of so moving is termed pioneering."

    Pioneering (Bahá'í) - Wikipedia

    Baha'i that I've encountered are rather insistent that pioneering is not proselytizing. In fact, in their words, they are forbidden to proselytize.

    "It is true that Bahá'u'lláh lays on every Bahá'í the duty to teach His Faith. At the same time, however, we are forbidden to proselytize, so it is important for all the believers to understand the difference between teaching and proselytizing. It is a significant difference and, in some countries where teaching a religion is permitted, but proselytizing is forbidden, the distinction is made in the law of the land. Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. In some countries mission schools or hospitals, for all the good they do, are regarded with suspicion and even aversion by the local authorities because they are considered to be material inducements to conversion and hence instruments of proselytization."

    Pioneering (Bahá'í) - Wikipedia

    Which leads me to the reason I created this topic. Are teaching and proselytizing mutually exclusive?

    I don't think they are. As I see it, teaching can be proselytizing if the intent of the teacher is to affect change to the worldview of another, whether or not undue pressure, threats, or coercion are present in the message. If one were to come up to you and give you unsolicited information about their views in the absence of your initial intent to learn something from them, would you consider that teaching or proselytizing?

    In reading the article and in my interaction with Baha'i here on the forum, I'm led to the conclusion that pioneering is little more than proselytizing under the guise of teaching, or as has been the case in this forum, debate.

    What are your thoughts? Is pioneering simply teaching? Or is it proselyting?
     
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  2. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein Ov Fire and the Void
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    Proselytism is merely trying to convert someone to your religion. Whether force is involved is irrelevant. Pioneering is plainly proselytism to my mind. Their statements about it just seem like an attempt to distract and confuse by playing semantic games.
     
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  3. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    Classic situation of POV changing depending whether you're on the inside, or the outside of the situation.
     
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  4. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    Pioneering, teaching, train... proselytism... without such no religion would ever have developed nor be maintained. It's sheer nonsense to think it's for a good to block up such, especially when using the lable "religion".

    Both, those who use teachings in corrupt ways, for low and/or harmfull way, or those avoiding any encouragements for turning into better, will earn their giving.

    It's up to the individual to walk a blessed or foolish way and even such deep teachings as that to the Kalamas can be corruted by corrupt mind, of both, the giver or receiver.

    Mara (the Evil - in ones mind) is tricky. He uses also arguments to try to silent teachers, to get his sheeps not lost. Here God was caught by wrong views and Mara was involved (the Jains and other sects tried also similar as strategy):

    ..."Then Mara, the Evil One, taking possession of an attendant of the Brahma assembly, said to me, 'If, good sir, this is what you discern, if this is what you have awakened to, do not lead (lay) disciples or those gone forth. Do not teach the Dhamma to (lay) disciples or those gone forth. Do not yearn for (lay) disciples or those gone forth. There were, good sir, before your time, brahmans & contemplatives in the world who claimed to be worthy & rightly self-awakened. They led (lay) disciples & those gone forth. They taught the Dhamma to (lay) disciples & those gone forth. They yearned for (lay) disciples & those gone forth. Having led (lay) disciples & those gone forth, having taught the Dhamma to (lay) disciples & those gone forth, having yearned for (lay) disciples & those gone forth, they — on the break-up of the body, with the cutting off of life — were established in a coarse body.

    "'There were, good sir, before your time, brahmans & contemplatives in the world who claimed to be worthy & rightly self-awakened. They did not lead (lay) disciples or those gone forth. They did not teach the Dhamma to (lay) disciples or those gone forth. They did not yearn for (lay) disciples or those gone forth. Having not led (lay) disciples or those gone forth, having not taught the Dhamma to (lay) disciples or those gone forth, having not yearned for (lay) disciples or those gone forth, they — on the break-up of the body, with the cutting off of life — were established in a refined body.

    "'So, monk, I tell you this: Please, good sir, be effortless. Abide committed to a pleasant abiding in the here-&-now — for it is skillful, good sir, that this not be taught. Don't instruct others.'

    "When this was said, I told Mara the Evil One, 'I know you, Evil One. Don't assume, "He doesn't know me." You are Mara, Evil One. And it's not sympathetic to welfare that you speak thus to me. It's sympathetic to what is not welfare that you speak thus to me. You think this, Evil One: "Those to whom Gotama the contemplative will teach the Dhamma will defy my sovereignty. Without being rightly self-awakened, Evil One, your contemplatives & brahmans claimed to be rightly self-awakened. I, however, being rightly self-awakened claim to be rightly self-awakened. For when the Tathagata is teaching the Dhamma to his disciples, he is Such. When he is not teaching the Dhamma to his disciples, he is Such. When leading his disciples he is Such. When not leading his disciples he is Such. Why is that? The fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising. Just as a palmyra tree with its crown cut off is incapable of growing again; so, too, the fermentations that defile, that lead to further becoming, that disturb, that ripen in stress, that tend to future birth, aging, & death: Those the Tathagata has abandoned, their root destroyed, like an uprooted palmyra tree, deprived of the conditions of development, not destined for future arising.'"

    Brahma-nimantanika Sutta: The Brahma Invitation

    Once a generation is fallen into that way, then it's lost to Mara eternally...:

     
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  5. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    And if a little bit wise, abstain from the modern consumer (slaves) ideologies, one focus on ones duties at first place, to get the most out of ones possibilities:

    "In five ways, young householder, should a householder minister to ascetics and brahmans as the Zenith:

    (i) by lovable deeds,
    (ii) by lovable words,
    (iii) by lovable thoughts,
    (iv) by keeping open house to them,
    (v) by supplying their material needs.

    "The ascetics and brahmans thus ministered to as the Zenith by a householder show their compassion towards him in six ways:

    (i) they restrain him from evil,
    (ii) they persuade him to do good,
    (iii) they love him with a kind heart,
    (iv) they make him hear what he has not heard,
    (v) they clarify what he has already heard,
    (vi) they point out the path to a heavenly state.

    "In these six ways do ascetics and brahmans show their compassion towards a householder who ministers to them as the Zenith. Thus is the Zenithcovered by him and made safe and secure."
    Whether you may see your poor situation or not: your kitchen is full with consumer and of what is the area of religion is not only void of interested but also void of Brahmans and Ascetics.

    All up to your common tendency here... nobody could force one to better and choose of community is also an individual free choice.

    Even if preaching so, google will not make your work toward liberation but the opposite... even dual here
     
    #5 Samana Johann, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
  6. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    When I teach mathematics, I intend to affect a change in the world view of another. Sometimes math can really warp a world view, in fact. And, there are times when I *feel* like I am proselytizing mathematics to me students.

    That said, I do think the *unsolicited* aspect is an important one. But this doesn't include interaction with 'seekers' where the primary goal is to 'save another soul' for your religion.

    And makes the difference between teaching and proselytizing to be more whether your goal is to help the 'victim' understand and explore possibilities as opposed to simply 'winning one over' to your cause.
     
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  7. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    As a mathematics professor, your students come to you to learn, correct? I don’t imagine you approach someone on the street because you feel they need to know how to solve a certain equation. :)

    I think this is the primary difference between teaching and proselytizing. Whether or not it was the intent of the subject to learn.
     
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  8. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    Well, that's an assumption that may or may not be true, especially for 'required' classes.

    Depends on my mood that day......

    And I see it as being more the goal of the teacher: are they trying to help someone understand so they can make up their own minds, or are they wanting to get another notch on their belt by getting another convert?
     
  9. Road Less Traveled

    Road Less Traveled Active Member

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    Most pioneering work is done by mixing in good deeds such as service, spending time with, supplying food, other stuff to others in need with proselytizing the ‘religion.’ The aspect of getting others to think ‘wow these are good people only because of their ‘religion’ and ‘doctrines.’ ‘We can be good people too if we follow that ‘religion’ and ‘doctrines.’ The entire motive/intent is mostly to convert others to that particular ‘religion’ and ‘doctrines.’ To me, it’s just a recruitment effort to try and bring in more $ into sects. Kind of like a subtle ‘wine and dine.’ But most people doing it mean well and think they’re doing good.

    Where, just doing good deeds such as service, spending time with, supplying food, other stuff to others because it is in one’s nature to do such would be ideal without the other stuff. (And this would be only if welcomed.)

    It is a struggle for most to learn how to teach about inward conversions without the unnecessary ‘religious doctrine’ aspect of it. It’s not too difficult to discern one hurting inside and genuinely wanting to change, seeking advice from one who has no interest in changing, while also discerning those who don’t even ‘need’ any changing. Let others be and mind one’s own business when it comes to proselytizing ‘religious doctrines.’ If someone crosses one’s path asking for help or assistance, do one’s best to assist.

    A lot of this only effects the innocent, naive, ignorant, weak.... ones who are easy bait to be psychologically molded. Many others... the teachings of others and proselytizing will have zero effects and impacts.
     
    #9 Road Less Traveled, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  10. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    Yes, because they appreciate it to be served with food, fun and what else they desire... no one with an attitude of giving and serving at first place (in that alone not qualified to be called poor) could ever fall into the "google-trap/liberal-trap" like they... but one may try on and select your "slayers" in thought of secure ways (the win-desire).
     
  11. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    Even for a required class, your student intends to accomplish a goal for which taking the class is a requisite to achieve that goal. My point was that students come to you. You don’t actively seek them out.
     
  12. Road Less Traveled

    Road Less Traveled Active Member

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    Almost the entire game of buying and selling mental/spiritual food to and from others has become a subtle, clever joke.
     
  13. Polymath257

    Polymath257 Think & Care
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    And that isn't necessarily the case either: trying to get enough students for a class to run can be interesting.
     
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  14. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    That is a hopeless improper simile householder tries to make to an argument since one who chose a "sect" will clearly approach his teacher direct. Yet there is a huge industry and proselytizing behind to nourish people with ideas that maths could ever solve their real problems and open toward liberation.

    How many "professional" in regard of religion are actually on board here? Such would trouble my person more when proselytizing ones place to be a religious... It would be certain good if the leading team would look after such if serious in their undertaking and not just for commercial reasons to gain some google refonds.
     
  15. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    Yet it's not something voluntary but for ones belly at least. Which is fine, just a deal.
     
  16. Enoch07

    Enoch07 It's all a sick freaking joke.
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    If it is unsolicited then it is proselytizing.

    Imho pioneering is proselytizing.

    The only way it is not proselytizing is when a person not of the faith approaches the person of faith with questions first. Then that opens the door to discussion.

    But if the person of faith is initiating the discussion without being asked first (unsolicited) then that is proselytizing.

    Other than here on RF I don't talk about my faith very much. Not sunless someone else brings it up first just for this reason.
     
  17. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes, if I replay the video v-e-r-y slowly, I can actually see the flat stones he skims over the lake touch the water and I fancy myself clever.
     
  18. stvdv

    stvdv Veteran Member

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    Interesting thread.

    If Bahais really want to make sure to follow Bahaullah teaching "do not proselytize", they teach about all religions and let students choose themselves

    IF you only teach your own religion then naturally proselytizing (my way is better) creeps in I think
     
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  19. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    Oh really. Short joy is also some joy.
     
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  20. Terry Sampson

    Terry Sampson Well-Known Member

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    Many, many years ago, I was asked this question by a brother-in-law who had just passed the bar exam: "How do you know when a lawyer is lying?" I said that I didn't know, and he answered: "When his lips are moving." The answer was funny then and now.

    Reflecting on the OP, this ancient householder hears the question: "How do you know when a Baha'i is proselytizing?" and I can't help but wonder if someone is going to say: "When his lips are moving."
     
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