Hallowing of the critical and the blessedness of creativity:
via `spiritualization as dialectical process' as the mystical heart of education

By Roger Prentice

First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #36
London School of Economics: London, England
July 13–15, 2001
(see list of papers from #36)

    "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of mystery." Huston Smith

    1 If the purpose of the Revelation of Bahá'u'llah is to bring about the spiritualization of humankind then the processes of education and learning must themselves be spiritualizing - (as well as taking place in classrooms ( and a society) that is open, catholic, inclusive, dialogic, consultative, democratic and which celebrates diversity).

    2 If `the core of religious faith is that mystical feeling which unites man with God.'(L o G p. 507) then the core of education must also be mystical feeling - assuming that education is `in life' as opposed to `about' life.

    3 If spiritualization is a journey not a destination, then education, and its processes, must be a journey not a destination, and must have openness as well as closedness, mythos as well as logos, heart as well as head.

    4 If it is through `visits' to the `Most Mighty Ocean', K-i-A p. 504 that the `island of knowledge' grows then we must incorporate these dualities dynamically - here I suggest the process I call Dialectical Spiritualization.

    5 Spiritualization as dialectical process is seen as a) problematization, including in the Freirean sense, and b) dialogue. The dialectical here is Socratic, (but does not exclude the Hegelian thesis, antithesis and synthesis). Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried [}] in an outlandish slough, is by her gentle aid lifted upwards; and she uses as handmaids and helpers in the work of conversion, the sciences which we have been discussing. Custom terms them sciences, but they ought to have some other name, implying greater clearness than opinion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous sketch, was called understanding. The Republic

    6 Dialectical Spiritualization. It is suggested is the means for understanding the process at the heart of Bahá'i education. In contradistinction to dialectical materialism, Dialectical Spiritualization uses all the dualities - e.g. awe, wonder and reverence as well as reason, metaphorical-subjective knowing as well as rationality.

    7 Dialectical Spiritualization is derived from a range of the most important principles of education as found in the Bahá'i Writings. However they are stated, or implied, in a single passage from the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá - Bahá'i Ed. p. 79 (in fact, it is suggested that this passage constitutes a complete model of education).

    8 Dialogue itself as concept and processes is extended to include more than just interpersonal conversation, to be in fact multi-level and holistic, and to include the subjective-creative as well as the objective- philosophic.

    9 When we go to God, when we seek to de-egotize ourselves in meditation through at-one-ment, we `return' with what - with feeling, before it is clothed in thought. This spirit-feeling then becomes thought - a process never better described than by the poet Seamus Heaney. The poetic-mystic heals the heart head split because it allows us to live in, as well as with Mystery, with unknowing, and eventually with subjective knowing and then, sometimes some degree of objective knowing (knowing is justified true belief - after Plato).

    10 If the critical is thus hallowed, then so also is the creative blessed, since it is that which calls upon the `Most Mighty Ocean' as the `I' calls upon the Spirit. The spoil gathered from these `raids upon the inarticulate' precede, in metaphorical imagistic form, to create subjective knowing - later comes reason.

    11 Assuming a Bahá'i values milieu, we have in `spiritualization as multi-level dialectical process' the dynamics of Bahá'i educational process, and the dynamics of Bahá'i community process and development.

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