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The Ocean of Scriptures

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This essay assumes
that you have downloaded Ocean from our website.

If have not installed Ocean -
then you need to pause here and do so -
because that is what this essay discusses.

Ocean is an electronic library
that is completely FREE
and while over the last 15 years
I have used over a half dozen electronic libraries
costing many hundreds of dollars
this one GREATLY surpasses all the others in performance.

There are over 1,000 books on the Ocean bookshelf.
but it takes up surprisingly little space
on your hard disk (110 mb)
for something so Momentous and POWERFUL.

You will undoubtedly have much fun with Ocean in
searching all the different religious Scriptures and works.
However, I have written this essay
for the purpose
of introducing one to The Bahá'í Writings.

Using the System:

While one may search the entire library
for a reference
it takes a bit longer
and often gives one way too much to look through.

As you start using the system
as you may well already have -
it gives you a tutorial on how to use it.
VERY simple.
Just put search words in - in any order
or put in quotes
exact combinations and phrases that you want.

Usually it takes very few words to find what you want -
but sometimes you need to add additional words
to reduce the quantity of quotes it brings up.
This is particularly true as one becomes familiar
with Bahá'í quotes -
and wishes to locate the source of a particular quote.

Authoritative versus Commentary:

Note particularly -
that the Bahá'í Library
is divided into TWO categories -
Bahá'í Studies (or what I have called "commentary").

You may find it interesting to delve right into
and I will try to explain what is there -
but, if you are new to Bahá'í,
I am going to recommend that you first
gain some information from some sources
located in the Bahá'í Studies section of the library.

Let me, however, tell you -
as marvelous as all this is,
it is by no means the only source on Bahá'í
and in due time I hope you will find other sources -
some of which you may find equally astonishing.

There are published almost daily
from a variety of Bahá'í National Publishing Trusts
and numerous independent Bahá'í Publishers
new books about Bahá'í.
Years ago - I used to read every new book that came out -
but now I can't even keep up with the titles.

There are also many web pages -
web discussion groups,
sites by various Bahá'í Communities
and the Official momentous Bahá'í sites.
But, not to worry about any of that for the moment.

The Authoritative Works:

First, you need to get a structure
to comprehend what it is that you have downloaded.
To do that we need to briefly outline
the history of the Bahá'í Faith.
In doing this you will see that the Books
follow that outline.

You will quickly become acquainted -
with just who the AUTHORITATIVE Sources are -
but at the moment we will more or less just list them,
and hopefully later you will on your own
fill in the details.

The Authoritative CENTRAL FIGURES:

The Bahá'í Faith began in 1844
with the Declaration of

The Báb

the First Central Figure of the Bahá'í Faith.
The most authentic and extensive source for that history
is in "The Dawn Breakers"
a massive tome
which I do not recommend that you start with.

(A much simplified "readers digest version"
is in Bahá'í Studies under the title -
"Release the Sun".
Perhaps an early book - but not necessarily
the first book to read.

After the martyrdom of the Báb
the second CENTRAL Figure of the Bahá'í Faith was

Bahá'u'lláh is said to have written over 100 Books.
The Persian word for book is "Kitáb"
and 'i' is 'of',
so we get books like
Kitáb-i-Aqdas (His "Book of Laws") -
Kitáb-i-Igan (The "Book of Certitude") -
Many of His Writings are also called "Tablets" -
for example -
"The Tablet of Ahmad" (actually a prayer in this case).
His last and summary work is called -
"The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf",
and His most mystical Writing
is the "Seven Valleys"
"The Four Valleys".

I had been a Bahá'í about seven years before I read these latter -
and at that time I said -
"I have understood/liked/appreciated everything that I have read
until now -
but I get absolutely nothing out of these."
Years later I would come to say -
"If there was nothing else but these in the Bahá'í Faith -
it would be enough." :)
You might enjoy reading the first and second
of the Seven Valleys -
which are the Valley of Search
and the Valley of Love.
But not necessarily the first thing that you do.

There are a number of compendiums of Bahá'í Writings
such as the book called -
"Gleanings" -
and Bahá'u'lláh often quotes from Himself -
and all the subsequent writers quote from Him -
so you will often find the same quote in many, many places.

The Third (and last) Central Figure of the Bahá'í Faith is

the son of Bahá'u'lláh
who was called by Bahá'u'lláh
"The Mystery of God"
and named by Bahá'u'lláh as the Center of His Covenant -
The Perfect Exemplar of His Faith,
the ONLY Interpreter of His Word.
Abdul means "servant" -
so 'Abdu'l-Bahá means the Servant of Bahá'u'lláh.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, like the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh,
wrote many Tablets.
Early on -
one of the most interesting things to do -
is to read down through the Table of Contents
of "Some Answered Questions"
where He deals with many, many different issues.

'Abdu'l-Bahá appointed His grandson-

Shoghi Effendi
to succeed Him -
with the title of Guardian of the Faith.
Effendi means "sir" -
so in effect his title is "Sir Shoggi".
Shoghi Effendi was educated at Oxford -
and writes, in a very scholarly Oxfordian style,
momentous works explaining about the future of the Faith.

Additonal AUTHORITATIVE Sources:

After Shoghi Effendi (an AUTHORATIVE source although not a Central Figure)
there was the Trusteeship of the Custodians -
until the

Universal House of Justice
(also Authoritative sources)
was established in 1963.
Writings of some of the Hands
will be found in Bahá'í Studies
but these, while highly respected,
are not AUTHORITATIVE Sources.

The UHJ (Universal House of Justice), however,
as just stated, is an authoritative source -
and so its publications are under that category of search.
For example - they write an annual "Ridvan Message".
Ridvan is a particular time on the Bahá'í Calendar -
but not to worry about such details for the moment.

I will mention one particular book
under AUTHORITATIVE compilations
(there are many) -
but if you go to the Authoritative list -
look under compilations -
and then look under "Lights of Guidance"
and then read the Table of Contents of that Book
you will again find a long list of Information
on many Bahá'í subjects.
This is just a note for the future -
because of course -
you cannot do everything at once.

The Commentary Works:

Now turning to the Bahá'í Studies -
Numbers of the Hands are listed there
(along with other names)
- some of whom write VERY scholarly works -
but there are three Hands -
whose attention that I will direct you to first.

First there is Ruhiyyih Khanum -
or known as Amatu'l-Bahá
who was the wife of Shoghi Effendi.
She wrote a wonderful book
about the Guardian called
"The Priceless Pearl" -
and later re-wrote it
and called it "The Guardian".
But this book would be a ways down your reading list.

Hand of the Cause William (Bill) Sears -
was a great favorite among Bahá'ís
for his humour and writing style.
His "Thief in the Night" -
is an entertaining explanation
of what 'Abdu'l-Bahá called "The Most Conclusive Proof" -
but there are many much more scholarly works
on this subject
that are not on the electronic bookshelf.
Bill Sears also wrote "Release the Sun" -
the history of the Bábí era that I mentioned before.

And finally -
there is J.E. Esslemont -
who wrote
"The New Era"
and while this is an "old" book about the Faith
it is where I would suggest that you begin -
because it gives such a COMPLETE overview.
It is almost like a college text book
(and indeed has been used as such)
but it is not difficult to read.

Of course, you may just wish to search out
answers to questions
using Ocean.

If you wish to query me about what you are reading -
all you have to do is give me the search words
that you used -
and I can duplicate here
what it is that you are looking at.

It is very easy with Ocean
to mail a quote.
All you have to do
is highlight the text
copy it -
and paste it into your email.

So, now you should have a source
for any question that you may ask.
Please ask for any clarification,
or help that I can give you -
and let me know what you are finding in the Ocean.

It is a joy to me
to respond to you on anything you ask.

[email protected]

The Writings Currently in Ocean

Authoritative Bahá'í
Date Writer Station Sample Books
1844-1850 A.D. The Báb Prophet/Manifestation
Central Figure
(The Bayan)
in Selections from
Writings of the Báb
1852-1892 A.D. Bahá'u'lláh Prophet/Manifestation
Central Figure
Epistle to to the Son of the Wolf
1892-1921 'Abdu'l-Bahá Centre of Covenant
Central Figure
Some Answered Questions
1921-1957 Shoghi Effendi Guardian God Passes By
1957-1963 Custodians
1963-forward Universal House of Justice UHJ Messages

Bahá'í Studies (Commentary)
Writer Sample Title About this work
William Sears Thief in the Night An entertaining story that covers "The Most Great Proof" of why Bahá'u'lláh is the Return of Christ
Dr. J.E. Esslemont Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era A thorough explanation about the Bahá'í Faith, historically, it beliefs and customs and so forth.
William Sears Release the Sun An entertaining presentation of the early beginnings of the Bahá'í Faith
Ruhiyyih Khanum The Priceless Pearl The story of her life with the Guardian by the wife of the Guardian.
George Townsend The Heart of the Gospel A book about the Bahá'í Faith by a Christian Minister
George Townsend Christ and Bahá'u'lláh A book about Bahá'u'lláh by a Christian Minister
Howard Colby Ives Portals to Freedom A book about his Bahá'í experience
Lady Blomfield The Chosen Highway The experience of an early believer.

The above are just some of the books in the Ocean bookshelf that I would recommend to read first. Some of the other books in the bookshelf are perhaps more scholarly, if not more inspirational. There are also many, many other books that one might find to their particular interest through a Bahá'í Publishing House, or at a Bahá'í bookstore. For example, I have on my bookshelf a half dozen books dealing with Bahá'í economics because that is a particular subject that interests me. Someone else may have many books dealing with a subject like life after death or explanations of scripture.

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