Recently I was reminded of the fascinating section in the 2015 message from the Universal House of Justice to the Counsellors regarding “releasing the potential of youth” and have read over its final paragraph several times. It really struck me: was my own period of youth going to be just a memorable chapter, or would this period of youth be remembered as the time in which service to others would become the fixed center of my earthly existence?
As my youth draws to an end and I am pulled further and further into the life of society as a contributing citizen, would these joyous memories of service and learning from my youth just become that, a “memorable chapter”, or had they really propelled me towards a vision of contributing towards universal good?
Linked with these thoughts and reflections, I also recently watched a TED talk by Meg Jay called Why 30 is Not the New 20 regarding how important this period of our 20s is and how it really can become the platform for our adult lives; it is actually such a critical decade.
So, how did I want to live my life? Was being a Baha’i something at the core of all that I did or was it just a warm and fuzzy feeling from the past?
All I knew is that I wanted to live a coherent life and being a Baha’i gives me the spiritual, moral and emotional tools to engage with life in the most profound way possible.
The challenge as always is that God gives us the choice. Baha’u’llah writes:
Release yourselves, O nightingales of God, from the thorns and brambles of wretchedness and misery, and wing your flight to the rose-garden of unfading splendor.1
Wasn’t then the effort to live a coherent life of service and worship linked with my daily efforts to be brave, to confront my ego and allow my spirit to soar by serving humanity in my contributions as a young professional?
I knew I had to become a torch bearer in my field. I had to continually question and call myself and my actions to account. How would my being a Baha’i contribute to my view of students, learning and knowledge as an educational leader? Was I seeking insights from the Baha’i Writings? Was this what it meant for the teachings of the Baha’i Faith to be the fixed center on which the rest of my life and work revolved? When I made contributions to the discourse on this subject, how was I allowing the Revelation to inspire my comments and future actions?
I have been keenly rereading The Secret of Divine Civilization, an outstanding essay from Abdul-Baha on the duty of education and public leadership and its links to governance and prosperity.
In one section, Abdu’l-Baha states:
…they consecrate their days and nights to the execution of important duties and the devising of methods to insure the progress of the people. Through the effectiveness of their wise counsel, the soundness of their judgment, they have ever caused their government to become an example to be followed by all the governments of the world.2
Despite the fact that Abdul-Baha was addressing these counsels to politicians, they can prove deeply critical to my efforts to excel in my field in such a way that others will also seek to learn from these examples. In doing this, our fixed center is further reinforced and engraved on our efforts, and I think we in turn can serve with even greater fidelity as our capabilities are developed.
Finally, as I continue to refine and reflect my practices, service as a fixed center of my life becomes much more than a moral compass — it becomes the goal and organizing principle upon which I can choose to live. If I continually seek to remove the inconsistencies that impede my true progress, I can truly become illumined and live life coherently as my center becomes more fixed by efforts to be of service to humanity.
As Abdu’l-Baha had clearly hoped:
May all hearts become illumined with the rays of the Sun of Reality; may all of them enter the university of God, acquire spiritual virtues and seek for themselves heavenly bounties.Then this material, phenomenal world will become the mirror of the world of God, and within this pure mirror the divine virtues of the realm of might will be reflected.3
Maybe after all, the fixed center might actually just be the beginning, or the fallen pebble that causes rippling waves.