Paige - indeed the www.bahai.org
web site Dirk sited covers all the basic information about the faith and is the same one I was going to cite.
It is interesting that so many of you are Catholic.. my husband is a man of Catholic upbringing (he is non-practicing right now, but has a positive association with the Church) and intends to start the next Aikido class begining in September. I will be interested if it at all raises some spiritual awareness in him.. part of the non-practicing part stems from his disassociation from spiritual matters. I think Aikido will be quite good for him both physically and spiritually.
Very thoughtful post, Erick. I can tell you are a lawyer.
Of course, everything is a cause for conflict - not just religious doctrine. Marriage, work, parenting - and even the "solitary" acts of faith can be a source of conflict, as any introspective religious person knows. It's like the pigeonholed conflicts of storytelling - Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, Man vs. Nature (or Supernature/God), etc. Conflict is not an unhealthy thing - on the contrary it is quite healthy and often necessary. It is a matter of handling conflict harmonsiously in a way that fosters growth. Conflict does not contradict peace - it is often the path to peace - the trick is to follow a path to peace that going to involve some conflict without devolving into chaos (mental, spiritual, or physical.) That is what seems to me to be the philosophy of Aikido.
I guess really it *is* the internal religious conflict that makes me find Aikido resonate with me spiritually. Most of the time I feel like I am a flailing and failing believer of religious teachings I'm not entirely equipped to live up to. Without getting too much into my personal diologue with God, somehow the physical act of Aikido seems to give that diologue, that conflict - a less chaotic tone.