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Featured Pioneering: Teaching or Proselytizing?

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

  1. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    And Yngwie Malmsteen says he doesn't sweep pick.
    (he does it extensively, frequently, and heavily for those unfamiliar with his music)
     
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  2. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    I'm familiar with his music, but I had to look up what sweep picking is. But that's only because I'm a bass player. :)
     
  3. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    I sweep on my bass.
     
  4. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    I never learned that technique, but that's probably because I'm self-taught before the advent of YouTube.
     
  5. Windwalker

    Windwalker Integralist
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    There so much good stuff in this. I feel I have personal thoughts and experiences to add to this from my own history.

    I know this mentality from personally experience being embedded in these sorts of "outreach" efforts to others. Showing love, was always with this eye towards one's own reward with their Jesus, or religion or what have you. It was never love for love's sake alone. It had the sense of personally, egoic reward attached to it. "I stopped to help you with your car because Jesus loves you." Ahhh!!!. It makes me want to tear my eyes out. No! No! No! :)

    Another part of me, the more adult side of me when it's allowed its reasoning voice to be heard, would try to understand this as a stage of immaturity. They are motivated by egoic concerns, and love and charity and spirituality can be extensions of the ego itself, and quite often are. "If I can get them to love Jesus, or believe in Bahaullah's religion, then I am a good person and I will be rewarded for being good."

    It's still egoic facing. A more mature faith is about actually caring, and there is no "Hi, I'm a Bahai, and I want to tell you about God's love found through Bahaullah". A mature faith doesn't need to wear a label. It just loves, with no expectation of recognition, or the promotion of one's religious faith. True faith, true love, just is by the fact of being. When I hear Jesus say, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see God in you," (that is the essence of it) has nothing to do with "so they will become a part of your religion". It knows no bounds, no religion, no group identifications at all. It's all about the individual being lit by God, not about sharing your sales and marketing to them as a "plus sell".

    There is no "selling God" necessary. If people see it in someone, they will recognize it, naturally. Of its own, it draws. And it has nothing to do with their prophets, or messiahs, or gurus, or traditions.

    And I think that is the biggest challenge. It's very difficult to understand the relationship between structures of faith, and faith itself and their roles in personal growth, or "inward conversions", as you nicely put that.

    The challenge is a developmental one, meaning that it is a necessity to have a structure that stands to support one's faith development, a religious belief system for instance. While it through externalized principles teaches about love, it is not through mimicry alone, or "obeying", which is a key operative word found in legalistic fundamentalist belief structures. Love is an internal awakening from within, which naturally flows out to the world, that "letting your light shine" that Jesus spoke of.

    But externalization of "God's will" as a set of beliefs and commandments, does not understand that "God's will be done" is through you, from the insides. Meaning, it requires a transformation to occur internally. That does not ultimate occur through externalizations of these "laws".

    Ultimately, religion cannot impart something like this. It has to awaken from the insides. And the danger of an externalized religion, such as ones that have a Messenger as the go between man and God, is that very nature creates this divide in and of itself. "I can never be fully Awakened, only God's chosen Messengers can have that." This places a door on the interior. And that door is completely artificial. It's for the sake of the belief structure itself.

    I think I'd phrase this as walking humbling through the world, sharing your faith and joy with those who seek, but without it being about selling your religion or your prophet. At that point, it's not about Love anymore. It's about sales and marketing, selling relgion and faith as a product for consumption.

    One tastes sweet. The other tastes "off".

    That's the whole insidious nature of peddling a religion in the name of God. Those who are the most vulnerable or typically the ones preyed upon by cults. "Are you afraid of the End Times? We have the answers for you!". or, "Are you confused by all these other religions all claiming to be true? Ours have a prophet direct from God, unlike them!".

    You see, this isn't about Love.
     
    #25 Windwalker, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  6. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Rival's Wife

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    I think it's more that many people tend to not realize the full ability of the bass guitar (James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett thought Cliff Burton was playing a guitar because he was playing bass like it was a lead guitar). My first teacher, he told me that chords on a bass aren't really a thing, even though my inspirations for playing bass all use them. Even among bassists, I believe most of them see the bass as simpye nothing more than an instrument for playing simple rhythms, always in the background, something that shouldn't and can't stand out and shine. I learned to sweep pick because they do it on guitar and I wanted a similar thing for my bass. After a couple instructors tried to tell that a bass is a very limited instrument, I just started teaching myself and cranking Tool, "real" Metallica, and "old school" Mudvayne. Dig, by Mudvayne, disproves so many ideas about what a bass is and can't be as Ryan Martini took center stage with that song, stole all the attention, brutally overplayed the guitar, and the song is awesome.
     
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  7. Samana Johann

    Samana Johann Restricted by request

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    Since watching flat thrown stones bring just short joy, yet for longer one needs certain wisdom, lesser relaying on limited on intuition:

    There is possible a more useful judging a judge, wraped if the stories of "how the rabbit became judge" and this story of his journey is also very related to the case here:

    Great Hermit Saves the Tiger
     
  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    As someone who is actively engaged in 'teaching' the Baha'i Faith to others I'm very clear where the line is. Here's a couple of threads where I 'taught' the Baha'i Faith.

    Questions from a non-Baha'i

    Something interesting I found on the Baha'i Faith

    In both cases a question was asked of the Baha'is.

    Out of interest can you think of any times when I have tried to teach you the Baha'i Faith or proselytized on RF?
     
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  9. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    It's really an honor to have a "staff member" such as Salixincendium to ask a question of Baha'is... The issue of teaching vrs. proselytizing. I think the definition of "proselytizing" was already supplied in the opening post:

    "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."

    Neither undue pressure or threats or material inducements are made by Baha'is. Some countries have anti-proselytizing laws of which Baha'is are aware. Abiding by a countries laws is something Baha'is are also cognizant of. A few countries do not recognize our Faith and we abide by the laws in those countries. I have a Baha'i friend in China who respected the limitations on Baha'is in that country and journeyed to Macao to have a Baha'i marriage there where Baha'i marriages are accepted.

    Baha'u'llah Himself in a book entitled Hidden Words revealed:

    "O Son of Dust! The wise are they that speak not unless they obtain a hearing, even as the cup-bearer, who proffereth not his cup till he findeth a seeker, and the lover who crieth not out from the depths of his heart until he gazeth upon the beauty of his beloved .... ",

    In another reference to teaching Baha'u'llah has advised as follows:

    They should teach with enthusiasm, conviction, wisdom and courtesy, but without pressing their hearer, bearing in mind the words of Bahá'u'lláh: "Beware lest ye contend with any one, nay, strive to make him aware of the truth with kindly manner and most convincing exhortation. If your hearer respond, he will have responded to his own behoof, and if not, turn ye away from him, and set your faces towards God's sacred Court, the seat of resplendent holiness."

    (Gleanings CXXVIII)

    Independent investigation of truth is also an essential Baha'i teaching:

    "The basic principle of the Cause is independent investigation of truth. This applies to us as much as to our children. They should be free to chose for themselves any religion they wish. To promise that they will belong to a certain Faith and not to another is therefore not only contrary to our precepts, but is also a futile promise to give. How can we make the future generation think as we do or follow our dictates. God has made them free. All that we can do is to open their eyes and tell them of what we think to be the truth."

    (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, March 3, 1931)
    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 156)
     
    #29 arthra, Aug 11, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2019
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  10. night912

    night912 Well-Known Member

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    For me it's the same thing. Let's not forget, both are teaching. The problem I see here is their attempt to camoflauge the Proselytizing in their pioneering. But here's the thing, the camouflage is for their pioneers and not the outsiders. They want the pioneers to do the proselytizing with the mindset of doing the "right" thing with no feelings of guilt. Performing an action without feeling guilty of doing something bad or wrong, majority of people will tend to do it automatically. And because we as humans have empathy, resulting in hesitation and reassessing the action before actually performing it. That's why you see a lot of people respond to a specific comment then adding in the same post, some "teachings" and/or something of their religion, immediately after their initial reply. Many times it's irrelevant to the thread. Of course when someone point that out, they deny it. Not necessarily lying, but because they never noticed it themselves.

    *Note, I'm not just only talking about Baha'i.
     
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  11. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg World Citizen
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    I was a Baha'i for about 1 year before I started as a pioneer for the Baha'i Faith in Australia. At the time I saw that the world will never change, unless a virtue based ideology is at the foundation of any proposed change. I still see that is the case.

    Thus I have participated in many teaching activities and all those activities were undertaken by an accepted invitation, that also includes many random conversations about the Faith. In a new town the question is always asked as to why one chose to live there. I always offer that it was my Faith and a desire to build strong loving communities that brought me to a specific area. That is no lie, as why else would a budding professional golfer change life so dramatically to take any work that was offered :)

    Thus to me that is the line, never go beyond a question asked, or clarification of interest shown to a comment made. Thus I would offer on a religious debate forum, any one that participates in a topic has already invited others to view and comment on what they have said. Thus the line as to when it becomes proselyting is determined and drawn as the replies are exchanged.

    I will mention the Faith at any opportunity, it would be dishonest for me not to, as I see it is the change the world needs. If there is no response or no question, then it is not mentioned again. If there are questions then they are answered. I have had many conversations in my community, but the line will not be crossed if no one wishes to ever talk about the subject again.

    Now the most important thing in that whole process, well as I see it anyway, is that it is not my ideas that are offered. It is an ideal I have embraced that is offered and as such it it is not me that can change a persons heart, what is offered is either worthy of consideration, or it is not.

    Now the wisdom when to offer at all, is in Arthra's post above, that wisdom not so easy to find in open debates...but we can learn from our mistakes.

    Regards Tony
     
    #31 Tony Bristow-Stagg, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
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  12. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    I cannot. But then again, this post wasn't directed at you specifically.

    Can you deny that other Baha'is here have attempted to teach others the Baha'i Faith without someone asking a question about it?
     
  13. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    This was how the one Baha'i defines proselytizing. That is not neither the dictionary definition nor is it the consensus of our members here: Proselytizing: What is it and is it a good or bad thing?

    While I appreciate the quotes, I'm more interested on your thoughts.

    With all of this apparent advice not to pioneer, they why pioneer? Why bother teaching one who has not asked?
     
  14. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    If you approached others with an invitation, they weren't soliciting your teachings. If you gather people with the intent of teaching something they were not intending to learn about, I consider that proselytizing. It's really no different than standing on a soapbox on a street corner preaching.

    Same with the random conversations. Unless you were asked specifically about your Faith, I think that you were proselytizing.

    Using the same logic as above. You should be invited to share, not share uninvited.

    As I see it, the line was crossed when you mention the Faith at any opportunity without being asked about it.[/QUOTE]
     
  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    Your OP was directed at the general audience of RF (not me) inviting them to consider an aspect of the Baha’i Faith, pioneering.You then went on to give your perspective on the matter.

    ‘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.’

    I can not deny that Baha’is (including myself) on RF have provided unwanted and unsolicited information about our faith. I have no doubt either that Baha’i pioneers have on occasion acted similarly. I would even go as far as stating proselytising has become the modus operandi for some Baha’is in both settings. It was for me once. However as the Baha’i writings themselves clearly highlight we need to develop an entirely different approach whether interacting with others in our communities or on social media. That approach is to ensure even our most inner thoughts and attitudes reflects the highest principles of the faith we believe in. It’s certainly a standard that continues to allude me.

    So our tendency to proselytise isn’t because we’re a proselytising Faith. It’s due to our failure to live up to our high standards.
     
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  16. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg World Citizen
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    There is also no way of knowing they did not want to hear about it either. No good happens without sharing and allowing others to make up their own minds.

    How else does any good idea find fruition, unless it is shared? Before it is shared, no one knew about it, nor could they act upon it.

    All make their own choice to listen or not to to listen, to look or not to look. The proselytizer to me is those that try to deny the ability for others to have that choice. It was not that long ago that the way to share a message was to stand in the city square and cry out for people to come and listen.

    I have two good examples of what I see as crossing the line.

    First is a meeting arranged in my community that was an invitation to find out about the Baha'i Faith. All those that came did so because they chose to. The two priests that invaded the meeting to disrupt the talk, they were proselytizing.

    A stall set up in a local market that has material on the table for people to look at and ask questions if they so choose. Again the people that come with an intent to disrupt the natural flow of people that choose to ask questions or take something to read are the proselytizers.

    If I am asked about my life and why I have chosen to do what I have, then I answer with the truth, would you have me lie? But of course you can see it that way :) and I will not change my obligation to mention the cause, because you see it that way. In fact my life has no meaning unless in some way, in every conversation, I can mention an aspect of faith in some way or another. It may be a couple of people are having some office gossip about another, I love changing the conversation and offer a good point to consider. Faith is a way of life, not a Sunday distraction.

    Thus the question is, what is the use of a debate on a religious forum, if it is not about the merit or pitfalls of religion and why people choose to believe what they do?

    Now if one comes on to a religious debate without any faith, why then choose to proselytize the idea of no faith, or that having no faith has any merit greater then faith?

    Regards Tony
     
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  17. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I like the word camouflage in this context. Starting a 'debate' about something with the full intent of using it to present your POV as part of the 'debate' is common. In actuality, the proselytizer has no intention whatsoever of a real debate. Another camouflage method is to ask a member of another faith a question ... again with the full and conscious view of presenting your own opinion to the question eventually, and again the 'question' isn't a question at all, but a set up. Often the answer to the question isn't even read.

    But it's all understandable when the entire focus of the person's life is to proselytise, so they hardly even know they're doing it, as it's in their subconscious mind, not their conscious mind. So it's a habit pattern unknown to themselves.

    I believe there are books titled 'How to proseltyse to _________' that contain all these camouflage strategies.
     
  18. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg World Citizen
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    That is where a different frame of reference becomes applicable.

    Every one here makes a comment as they may have a different view of what has been said, or it is to offer an agreement to what is posted. We can then ask what is the purpose for anybody in making that comment?

    Why single out any faith, as comments come from a wide diversity of thought?

    Regards Tony
     
  19. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Resident Hermit
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    I single out a faith whose members presume to speak for me, that shoehorn my worldview into their own to make mine appear congruent to their own when they're not, and who presume to tell me what I need to do to change the world to what they think it should be. I don't do this to others. Those who share a worldview similar to mine don't do this to others. In fact, I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of the members here don't do this to others.

    If you feel your faith is being singled out, that's a result of what your faith practices...or more accurately what it preaches.
     
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  20. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    I've seen some movement away from that from some members. The practices of tolerance, understanding, and actual listening have been slowly growing. Others have just gotten so angry about not being able to proselytize they've just left.
     
    #40 Vinayaka, Aug 12, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
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