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COLLECTIONPublished articles
TITLEThe Beginning That Hath No Beginning: Bahá'í Cosmogony
AUTHOR 1Vahid Brown
TITLE_PARENTLights of Irfan
PUB_THISIrfan Colloquia
ABSTRACTThe dimensions of myth in the Bahá'í Faith focussing on the religion's narratives of creation, religious history, and Administrative Order.
NOTES Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #38, Louhelen Bahá'í School (October, 2001).

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TAGS- Administrative Order; - Interfaith dialogue; - Islam; - Philosophy; Active force and its recipient; Be and it is; Cosmology; Creation; Elements; God; Hidden Treasure (Hadith); Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom); Manifestations of God; Mythology; Pen (metaphor); Philosophy, Islamic; Quran; Relativism; Shaykhism; Will of God; Word of God; Words and phrases
Abstract: One of the most significant developments in the 20th century study of religion has been the increasing attention given to the importance of myth, a term used here in its sense of "sacred narrative". As an instrument in the structuring of a coherent and foundational worldview, myth has been shown to be essential to the perception of continuity between the core message of religious traditions and the practices and communities that spring from them, and the study of myth has illuminated the congruence of the experience of spirituality as a sense of meaning and the expression of that sense in religious behavior.

This paper will explore the dimensions of myth in the Bahá'í Faith. Drawing on a broad range of contemporary sources in the study of myth and myth theory, the elements and dynamics of myth will be outlined. This brief survey will suggest our method for what follows. The Bahá'í creation narrative will be described in some depth, followed by an analysis of Bahá'í narratives of religious history. The final section discusses the dimension of myth in contemporary Bahá'í life, particularly in relation to the Bahá'í Administrative Order. It will be maintained that an awareness of the mythic elements in the Bahá'í Faith sheds considerable light on the significance for Bahá'ís of the Administrative Order as a sacred phenomenon.

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