God wants what is good and right for us,
and forbids what degrades us.

With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together, and dedicate the precious days of your lives to the betterment of the world and the promotion of the Cause of Him Who is the Ancient and Sovereign Lord of all. He, verily, enjoineth upon all men what is right, and forbiddeth whatsoever degradeth their station.


Anonymous said...

'forbiddeth': therefore all things in the Kitabi'Aqdas...thats is forbidden will degrade ones station ? am just wondering as I don't always know what 'right' is.

thanks for these G.

Gaijin21 said...

I think one standard to keep in mind is "nobility.” As we try to get back to our noble reality -- the way God is said to have created us, it entails a lot of work on our end. Some are simple some are hard. Perhaps some rules in the Aqdas seems strange to some, making them wonder “why are these rules or laws in the Most Holy Book?” For example, to paraphrase, "wash your feet" or "keep your hair short, but don't shave it." This, in my opinion has to do with “what is good for us vs what leads to what is degrading to us.” I am sure there are also some historical factors involved in some of these laws. In either case, I feel those rules are symbols of refinement, cleanliness, and moderation -- qualities that a noble being would undoubtedly possess. On the other hand, not keeping clean, going to extremes, and lack of care for beauty and refinement are indeed what degrades us. Sometimes, such inner qualities are to be expressed through our physical reality. Sometimes, we take physical action first and make it a habit in order to train our inner reality.

In the larger social picture, “good” is anything that promotes unity in diversity, reduction of conflict, creates harmony, carries forward an ever advancing civilization, and for the individual, anything that brings him or her back to a noble state. Just think how many qualities a truly noble person would have: honor, justice, fairness, honesty, truthfulness, trustworthiness, love, kindness, compassion, dignity, moderation, humbleness, steadfastness, courage, knowledge, refinement, detachment, selflessness, excellence, etc. etc... These are the qualities we are called to attain. What we understand as “not good” or “good” would change as we acquire more virtues and balance it with other virtues. (That is where wisdom kicks in.) Even with one virtue, our understanding of that application would change as we mature further. As it is said, “The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones.” (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 126) So, in one respect “good” is a hard thing to define, as it is somewhat subjective. All we can tell is, what we are told to do by the Messengers of God leads to what is good, and what we are told that are not good, will lead us to what degrades us.

Gandhi had his version of what is “good.” He would have equated “truth” with “good.” So the question would be “what is truth?” Truth would be anything that is life affirming and life harboring; any destructive thing to life is not. Justice and equality would be life affirming, while tyranny and injustice would not. Environmental conservation and protection would be life affirming and good, while selfish use of resources would not. His vision would support harmony of science and religion as well. If the science is nurturing, and life affirming, it is good. If religion is destructive, then it is not, and it cannot be the “truth.”

There are lots of ways to look at this very good question of yours. It sure makes a great discussion. However, we should also be careful about

There is a good book out there called "Logos and Civilization." I think this book helps us understand the Aqdas in a much deeper way than most of us have understood the Book. The concept of refinement and appreciation for aesthetics in its relation is also discussed. Another good book that gets into this subject is “Asking Questions.” A non-Baha’i book that I found quite interesting and in many ways relates to the subject of acquiring noble virtues is “The Japanese Samurai Code: Classic Strategies For Success.” It may not answer your question about what is good, but it does deal with how a culture was – and still is influenced by the Samurai’s pursuit for nobility and refinement.