Being unaffiliated

Going to Sky Creek

{josquote}All I know is that by time it was over, my dance with the Divine Beloved was done{/josquote}

Exactly how I made the journey from unenrolled Baha'i to Buddhist is kind of hard to describe. It's something that I never thought would happen, and was not at all my intent when I began looking for local places where I might find a group to meditate with. These groups don't get hung up on what you believe, specifically. The only question I have been asked is whether or not I'm a beginner at meditation – because the practice is the center of what you're doing there, not teaching or reaffirming yourself in a particular set of propositions. Even textual study is done with a critical eye – it's not at all uncommon for me to hear someone say that they just flat disagree with a passage in the Tao Te Ching. But it would be wrong to call it irreverent – it's a very respectful atmosphere. Nobody bows as much as Buddhists do. Sometimes I'm not all that sure what we're bowing to – the room, the statues of the Buddhas, the current teacher, each other, or just to the East. In any case, I could have retained Baha'i belief and meditated with these folks, and no one would have had a problem with it because beliefs of any kind are rarely discussed.

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No longer Baha'i


A Fork in the Path

{josquote}I should make it clear that I have not been on a “search for Truth”.{/josquote}

As was apparent from my last entry here, I’ve been going through some major changes in my spiritual life. It really started with the addition of meditation to my spiritual practice. Naturally, I would meditate on Baha’i words and themes, but I found that thoughts about the online conflicts and problems in the Baha’i community always intruded. Now, extraneous thoughts always intrude when one is beginning to meditate, but in my case, they were negative and anxiety-producing. I got to a place where I just felt very confused, so one night, I recited a tablet of Baha’u’llah’s that is supposed to give one answers in dreams -- and the answer I got, through some fairly obvious symbols, was that as long as I stayed within a Baha’i framework, I would be stuck in a place of hurt and grief and that there were other things waiting for me.

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95 Theses

I have not been blogging recently because there's been a lot of pressing life to tend to.

But I have just been reminded of why I started this blog in the first place, and even of my very first post.

Today I have received disturbing communications from a Bahá’í once-friend who ended our generations of friendship today in rarified double-speak, because I am not a Bahá’í, and because of what I say about that fact on this blog.

And even though that is a private thing, I thought I would just make public what that experience is like for an ex-Bahá’í, for the benefit of my still-Bahá’í friends, so you will not act so cruelly. Or so mistakenly. And because I know you are not talking openly about it where it counts. Because the tide of our shared upbringing encourages you to cast leave-takers aside. And it also encourages leave-takers to shut their mouths in silence. And in shame. That's the anatomy of ostracism. It unfolds in small acts, not just in the published announcements in The American Baha'i that so-and-so has been administratively sanctioned in some way.

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The spirit

In late March, I had an interesting exchange on Twitter with Barney Leith. No big deal - he probably hasn't thought twice about it, but it got me thinking. Barney was responding to a media report about research that concluded that, based on census figures, religion was set to die out in nine countries. The report said:

"A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation. ...

The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland."

Jason Palmer: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

To this, Barney asked: "How much weight can we place on the findings of this study that claims religion may become extinct in 9 countries?". I replied "People may say they don't affiliate with any religion, but plenty still talk about spirituality. Just look at Twitter!". And Barney answered: "Spirituality: ambiguous concept used to refer to a wide range of beliefs & practices. Lots of interest, yes, but in what?"

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