Friday, January 11, 2008

On Utterance: An enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk

I remember when Jess changed the name of her blog from Rambles, Reviews and Rants to Tangential Thoughts. I really admired that. Jess is not a Baha'i, but has taken a Ruhi Book 1. For some reason she decided she didn't like Rambles, Reviews and Rants, so she changed the name. I always thought it was because she didn't like the "Rants" part. To a great extent our culture extols ranting as acceptable behavior, yet consider the following. -gw

Web definitions for rant
harangue: a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion - Definition in context

rant: Definition, Synonyms and Much More from
rant v. , ranted , ranting , rants . v.intr. To speak or write in an angry or violent manner; - 62k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this

rant - definition from
rant n 1: a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion [syn: harangue, ranting] 2: pompous or pretentious talk or writing [ - 6k -
Cached - Similar pages - Note this
In the Tablet to Mánikchí Sáhib by Bahá'u'lláh we find the following content, according to a synopsis. gw

ix Admonition to combine speech with action.
Impact of speech is conditioned upon the speaker being in step with the needs and expectations of the hearer. Bahá'u'lláh encourages the exercise of moderation in speech and links soft speech to the nurturing efficacy of milk, whereas coarse speech is equated to a sharp dagger. In the Lawh-i-Maqsud and elsewhere Bahá'u'lláh expounds on this topic. [19]

No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. This showeth the significance of the Word as is affirmed in all the Scriptures, whether of former times or more recently. For it is through its potency and animating spirit that the people of the world have attained so eminent a position. Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people.

The Great Being saith: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.

Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station.

Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988) pp. 172-173
It is my hope that I have avoided anything resembling a rant, either of my own or other's, on Baha'i Views. I think of Sholeh and Dan's comments here on the recent post "On Negative Attention-Seeking in the Blogosphere: Have you ever noticed?":

Sholeh: I find that the filters that most people would have in the physical world vanish like smoke when faced with ... perceived hurts. It is so easy to push that "post" button...

Dan: it's even worse on the internet than in real life - the perception of anonymity and detachment from social and physical reality can really bring out the worst in people.

and what Sholeh is describing is sort of like email rage... our thoughts flow much faster through a keyboard than when we are talking to a real live person - no visual cues or tone of voice to respond to.

The Baha'i Internet Agency has provided wonderful guidance for Baha'is who are communicating on the Internet, as I have posted on previously. -gw

Translating Bahá’í principles for personal conduct into the virtual world of the Internet can be challenging. Below are selected quotations from the Bahá’í Writings that pertain to our quest for a standard of communication that goes well beyond the prevailing Internet ethos of avoiding provocation or giving offense to an individual or group.

"Rants" and "Baha'i" just don't go together. Bloggers looking to represent what the Faith truly stands for choose soft speech that is like milk rather than coarse speech that is like a dagger. It is the Baha'i way. -gw

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