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Featured What exactly do Baha'is mean by "Independent Investigation of the Truth"?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by spirit_of_dawn, Dec 6, 2018 at 9:51 AM.

  1. spirit_of_dawn

    spirit_of_dawn Active Member

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    Baha'is claim that their leader has put forward a new principle that no one had thought of before them:

    "Another new principle revealed by Baha’u’llah is the injunction to investigate truth—that is to say, no man should blindly follow his ancestors and forefathers. Nay, each must see with his own eyes, hear with his own ears and investigate the truth himself in order that he may follow the truth instead of blind acquiescence and imitation of ancestral beliefs." (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 454)
    Ok, we get the point. We shouldn't blindly imitate the beliefs of other people and their claims instead we should independently find the truth ourselves. So far so good, but I'm pretty sure this isn't a new principle.

    Now I'll put forward an example to show how independent investigation of truth should work when one wants to investigate Baha'i beliefs. Baha'i scripture comes in 2 languages: Persian and Arabic. A small portion is also available in English. To Independently Investigate Baha'ism I have to learn all three languages and read the scripture in those languages or else I would be simply relying on someone else's translations that I can not verify and this cannot be called Independent Investigation. Fortunately I understand all three languages So I read portions of the scripture in all three languages and find far too many inconsistencies and contradictions. Ok, I practiced independent investigation of truth and decided Baha'ism isn't for me.

    Now let's see how most Baha'is debating on this forum have accepted Baha'ism. Out of Persian, Arabic, and English, they only understand English. They are presented with English translations of Baha'i scripture by Baha'i missionaries that have been produced by the Baha'i Universal House of Justice. They have no way of independently verifying these translations. Yet they accept them as fact. They then proceed to convert to Baha'ism based on what they have no method of verifying.

    The aforementioned manner by which most Baha'is have chosen to become Baha'is can in no way be considered Independent Investigation of Truth. In fact it is the complete opposite and is more or less blind imitation.

    Ironically, when I, as an independent investigator present them with quotes that completely go against the authorized English translations, I am labelled as distorting scripture and what not. While those making accusations against me have no way whatsoever of judging the quotes that I provide because they lack the necessary linguistic means.

    So this the Question, what exactly do you mean by the "Independent Investigation of the Truth" when you don't practice it yourselves and accuse those that practice it of distorting Baha'i scripture?

    regards
    Spirit of Dawn
     
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  2. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    It would seem Adu'l-Baha was ignorant of the Buddha having said almost precisely the same thing as Baha'u'llah's "new principle", and having said it over 2000 years before he did.

    “Now, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness’ — then you should enter & remain in them.” -- Kalama Sutta
     
    #2 Sunstone, Dec 6, 2018 at 10:07 AM
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  3. Axe Elf

    Axe Elf Prophet

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    It would seem Adu'l-Baha was ignorant of the writings of Paul, who said almost precisely the same thing as Baha'u'llah's "new principle," and said it close to 2000 years before he did.

    "But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things]" --1 Corinthians 2:15a (Amplified Bible)
     
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  4. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist My sister LuLu

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    I'd propose another corkscrew. Independent investigators are not bias. So, when they find what is true or not, they don't do it in a way that supports their beliefs. Confirmed bias. Experiences shouldn't confirm the facts of their beliefs nor their individual interpretations. Facts for investigation should stand on its own.

    Not everyone can know the translation without the Cultural context that makes meaning of the language not the other way around. Since I assume not many people were raised in Persia speaking Arabic on this site (Of Course I Could be Wrong), so having the English translations are all.

    Can you compare and contrast your best translation of a passage from the native language and the different with the English translation?
     
  5. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist My sister LuLu

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    The idea is the Abdul Baha is a new prophet in this time reinstating the correct interpretation of that sutta by getting the source of it from god and not from Guatama himself (not a manifestation of god).

    Editing history
     
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  6. George-ananda

    George-ananda Advaita Vedanta and Spiritualist and Pantheist
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    < I am coming from the perspective of an ex-Baha'i (but not anti-Baha'i)>

    Yes, the Bahai's accept authorized (by Baha'i administration) English translations. If you then claim the translations are not accurate, most western people would have no way to verify that independently. But in the Baha'i principle of 'Independent Investigation of Truth' they would have a right to do that investigation (in practice, if they had the language skills). So I don't see the particular problem you are trying to describe.

    Now if you claim to have independently investigated the translations and found them inaccurate, then the average westerner would have no way of independently investigating what you are telling them either. So there the situation must sit unresolved. But even there I don't see the violation of the 'Independent Investigation of Truth' claim you are making.
     
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  7. Vinayaka

    Vinayaka devotee
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    To answer the title question, independent investigation simply means reading anything as long as it's approved by the UHJ as Baha'i'. Anyone who writes or interprets or translates on their own has to submit their translation to the UHJ for approval. Interestingly, most of Baha'u'llah's works aren't translated into Persian.
     
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  8. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    In response to the OP question, it is very clear from a study of the Baha'i writings themselves what independent investigation of truth means.

    … weigh carefully in the balance of reason and science everything that is presented to you as religion. If it passes this test, then accept it, for it is truth! If, however, it does not so conform, then reject it, for it is ignorance!

    Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 143.

    When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance.

    Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 79.

    God has created in man the power of reason whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to blindly imitate his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind or the faculty of reasoning by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth; and that which he finds real and true, he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality.
    Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 291.

    Independent Investigation of Truth

    There are numerous references in the Baha'i writings that refer to this theme.

    I agree the principle of investigation of truth is not new, for example Jesus taught;

    The truth shall set you free (John 8:32)

    Seek and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7-8)

    What is new is the extent to which this principle is explicity part of the Baha'i writings in comparison to the sacred writings of Islam and Christianity. Of course the principle of independant investigation is implicitly part of all these texts, but it is not always explicitly clear as it is in the Baha'i writings. Both Islam and Christianity have a history of supressing independent investigation of reality and using their sacred writings to deny science and the truth of other religions.

    The Baha'i writings are vast. Baha'u'llah revealed thousands of tablets with a volume of more than 70 times the Quran and 15 times the size of the Bible. As the Baha'i Faith has become so widespread it is the responsibility and duty of the Baha'i community to ensure high quality translations into scores of languages. This is obviously an enormous undertaking.

    Bahá'í literature - Wikipedia

    It is well known the Baha'is are persecuted in some Muslim countries, particularly Iran. English speaking Baha'is who don't speak Persian or Arabic are understandably weary when some who are hostile to our Faith make claims based on untranslated works, or worse, works that no Baha'i has ever heard of.
     
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  9. DavidMcCann

    DavidMcCann Well-Known Member

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    In any religion with a scripture, you can't investigate. How can I know if the Jewish prophets were inspired? How can I know if Muhammad got a message from God? How can I know whether I can trust the Baha'i scriptures? I certainly couldn't trust all these scriptures because they have incompatible messages!
     
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  10. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg A World Citizen
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    I think Adrians quotes and the following answer that question.

    All good is from God, all evil is from our own selves.

    "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving" (1 Timothy 4:4).

    "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17).

    Regards Tony
     
    #10 Tony Bristow-Stagg, Dec 6, 2018 at 12:54 PM
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 1:03 PM
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  11. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg A World Citizen
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    The first question I would ask you is;

    What is the purpose of the message given by Baha'u'llah?

    The answer to that question is enormous and a deep knowledge as to the answers to it, are crucial when one begins to translate what Baha'u'llah is offering.

    Regards Tony
     
  12. spirit_of_dawn

    spirit_of_dawn Active Member

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    Thank you for the response. You have mostly explained what independent investigation should theoretically be, which was fairly well defined in my first post. However, you still fail to explain how you can call your beliefs the result of Independent Investigation while you have never Independently Investigated Baha'ism. You claim Baha'ullah has thousands of Tablets more than 70 times the size of the Quran, yet you have based your believes in a small fraction of those that have been translated to English while ignoring the vast majority.


    You are weary when someone quotes original Baha'i scripture and instead of finding a way to investigate those claims independently you simply resort to shooting the messenger and denial.

    Ok, fair enough. Can you please for the sake of God name a few of those works?
     
  13. spirit_of_dawn

    spirit_of_dawn Active Member

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    After reading many of his Tablets in Arabic and Persian and English I would say the purpose of his message is one word: deception.
     
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  14. Tony Bristow-Stagg

    Tony Bristow-Stagg A World Citizen
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    Therin would be what you would look for in translation.

    Now if we look at what people said about Baha'u'llah, that were not his enemies and were not Baha'i, one would get a better frame of reference to begin a just search.

    One such example;

    The distinguished orientalist, the late Professor Edward G. Browne, of the University of Cambridge, visited Bahá’u’lláh at Bahjí in the year 1890, and recorded his impressions as follows:—

    … my conductor paused for a moment while I removed my shoes. Then, with a quick movement of the hand, he withdrew, and, as I passed, replaced the curtain; and I found myself in a large apartment, along the upper end of which ran a low divan, while on the side opposite to the door were placed two or three chairs. Though I dimly suspected whither I was going and whom I was to behold (for no distinct intimation had been given to me), a second or two elapsed ere, with a throb of wonder and awe, I became definitely conscious that the room was not untenanted. In the corner where the divan met the wall sat a wondrous and venerable figure, crowned with a felt head-dress of the kind called ‘taj’ by dervishes (but of unusual height and make), round the base of which was wound a small white turban. The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow; while the deep lines on the forehead and face implied an age which the jet-black hair and beard flowing down in indistinguishable luxuriance almost to the waist seemed to belie. No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!
    A mild dignified voice bade me be seated, and then continued:—“Praise be to God that thou has attained! … Thou has come to see a prisoner and an exile. … We desire but the good of the world and the happiness of the nations; yet they deem us a stirrer up of strife and sedition worthy of bondage and banishment. … That all nations should become one in faith and all men as brothers; that the bonds of affection and unity between the sons of men should be strengthened; that diversity of religion should cease, and differences of race be annulled—what harm is there in this? … Yet so it shall be; these fruitless strifes, these ruinous wars shall pass away, and the ‘Most Great Peace’ shall come. … Do not you in Europe need this also? Is not this that which Christ foretold? … Yet do we see your kings and rulers lavishing their treasures more freely on means for the destruction of the human race than on that which would conduce to the happiness of mankind. … These strifes and this bloodshed and discord must cease, and all men be as one kindred and one family. … Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind. …”

    Such, so far as I can recall them, were the words which, besides many others, I heard from Behá. Let those who read them consider well with themselves whether such doctrines merit death and bonds, and whether the world is more likely gain or lose by their diffusion."

    Yes let those that read choose. Regards Tony
     
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  15. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    The journey for each of us to discover what is true is a personal one.

    You are a Shi'a Muslim and presumably your parents were too. I notice you have removed this detail from public view. What's that about? Are you ashamed to be identified as a Shi'a Muslim or do you think you will have more success on this forum if you are anonymous about your religion? I am open about being a Baha'i and having nothing to hide or fear.

    I grew up Christian but became a Baha'i after 5 years of investigating the truth in regards the nature of reality. The Baha'i writings themselves are one important aspect of that investigation but there were other equally important considerations.

    Many of Baha'u'llah's works, including some of His most important writings have been translated into English. While it would be ideal to have available all of the writings of the Central figures of the Baha'i Faith available in English, I appreciate the practical difficulties.

    We have had numerous interactions of this forum and we first meet on RF about 3 months ago here....

    A warning and a call to Baha’is from Baha’u’llah’s Universal House of Justice

    Baha'is are peaceful people and abhor violence. We are asked to associate with peoples of all Faiths in a spirit of love and fellowship. That does not mean we should be niave about the motives of others.
     
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  16. spirit_of_dawn

    spirit_of_dawn Active Member

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    Well, he describes Baha'u'llah's Arch Enemy -Subhi Azal -using similar statements when he met him, so if a description is relevant in any manner it goes both ways:

    "we ascended to an upper room, where a venerable and benevolent-looking old man of about sixty years of age, somewhat below the middle height, with ample forehead on which the traces of care and anxiety were apparent, clear searching blue eyes, and long grey beard, rose and advanced to meet us. Before that mild and dignified countenance I involuntarily bowed myself with unfeigned respect; for at length my long-cherished desire was fulfilled, and I stood face to face with Mírzá YahSubh-i-Ezel ("the Morning of Eternity"), the appointed successor of the Báb, the fourth "Letter" of the "First Unity."
     
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  17. spirit_of_dawn

    spirit_of_dawn Active Member

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    Yes, deviate away from the main topic being discussed. You so much love to bring up the Muslim issue. I'm still waiting for the name of those works that you claim no Baha'i has ever heard of.
     
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  18. siti

    siti Well-Known Member

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    Err!! Umm!! Would it be to steal ancient religious ideas mix up a bit more modern stuff he had been reading about and then pass it all off as a "new revelation"? Even the idea of doing that was not new - its a process that is as old as humanity I suspect. There is - and I have discussed this at enormous length in other threads - absolutely nothing in the Baha'i principles that was not already written down by the sages of other traditions centuries and even millennia before they were supposedly divinely revealed to Baha'u'llah...which makes one wonder how it is even a "revelation" let alone a "new" one.

    - yep - that's another way of putting it.

    Yeah, Tony, we know Browne was impressed by Baha'u'llah - any other "independent" witnesses? Or has your independent investigation uncovered only "one such example" after all these years?
     
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  19. Truthseeker9

    Truthseeker9 Active Member

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    A lot of translations are by Shoghi Effendi and we believe He is the interpreter of the Word of God after Abdu'l-Baha. Because he is the Interpreter he knows what the scripture means and thus can translate it correctly as far as it can be translated correctly. The Universal House of Justice's translators consult Shoghi Effendi's translations for their translations. We have confidence in the translations. In addition, all of the major themes of Baha'u'llah have been translated.
     
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  20. adrian009

    adrian009 Well-Known Member
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    I thought the topic was 'What Baha'is mean by independent investigation of truth'. You ask me how I could investigate Baha'u'llah's claims without having access to all His works in English. I explained, so no deviation. If you don't want to answer my questions that's fine but don't project your avoidance on to me.

    I had never heard to the Bab's letter of repentence on page 9 of the book 'Twelve Principles' you linked in the other thread. I'm sure if I had time to read all 602 pages of this Iranian anti-Baha'i exposition I would find a few more.

    https://ia802504.us.archive.org/29/items/TwelvePrinciples/Twelve Principles - A Comprehensive Investigation on the Bahai Teachings.pdf
     
    #20 adrian009, Dec 6, 2018 at 2:58 PM
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 3:15 PM
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