Home and heart
Northwest Reno devotional meeting of the Bahá’í faith
Sunday morning, M.J. Adams picked me up at my home to take me to a charming house in Reno’s northwest for a devotional meeting for members of the Bahá'í faith. Devotional meetings are held in members’ homes—four to five gatherings per week on different days and times—because there is no formal “church” in Reno, although various localities have buildings, and there are immense, nine-sided, nine-gardened, domed temples scattered around the world. The United States’ temple is in Wilmette, Ill. There also are more formal meetings.
I knew less than nothing about this religious system when I arrived. I say less than nothing because what I thought I knew was wrong.
Just to put us on the same page (and since the design of the building was less important than in your average “Filet of Soul"), here are some of the principles: Oneness of God; oneness of humanity; common foundation of all religions; independent investigation of truth; essential harmony of science and religion; equality of women and men; elimination of prejudice of all kinds; elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty; universal compulsory education; a universal auxiliary language; universal peace upheld by a world commonwealth of nations; and a spiritual solution to economic problems.
The meeting at Monica’s house began with a prayer, a recorded lilting and peaceful song by a man and a woman—sounded Indian to me, but I’m no expert.
There were a dozen or so of us sitting in a circle on various couches, wooden chairs and folding chairs around a mission-style coffee table and ranging up into a connected room. There were few signs around the room to indicate the Bahá'í faith—a photograph of a leader and a symbol near the kitchen door. After the song, we each (if we chose to; it wasn’t mandatory) read a short prayer from various books. One lady read a prayer in Spanish, and then on the next go-round, read the same prayer in English.
At 11 o’clock, we took a break to refresh our coffee and doughnuts. Then we began more readings. The group reads from the written works of the great religions and its own scriptures. Last week, they finished sections of the Koran. This gets to one of the fundamental principles of the Bahá'í faith. In laymen’s terms, they believe that each religion builds on the religions that came before it. As humanity has evolved and its understanding of itself has evolved, God has sent messengers (manifestations) to build on the teachings of the ones who came before: Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, with Bahá’u’lláh being the latest manifestation and founder of the Bahá'í faith 1844. Bahá’u’lláh was born in 1817 in Tihrán, Persia (Iran). The Báb was analogous to John the Baptist, proclaiming that the real deal was on his way.
At any rate, we took turns—again going in the circle and only as people chose—reading from a book called “Selections from the Writings of the Báb.” For just about every paragraph read, the group would discuss what was written, with questions and dialogue but no specific answers. It’s a primary Bahá'í tenet that individuals must come to an understanding of God through his or her own study. The Bahá'í have no local clergy, although there are elected leaders at the national and international levels. The group’s world headquarters is in Haifa, Israel.
The meeting broke up a bit before noon, as several members had more secular things to do on this beautiful Sunday. I think this group will probably intrigue people who don’t understand why religions always appear to be in opposition to each other.
Want to take Brian to your place of worship? Call 324-4440 ext. 3525.