Light & Mercy – A New Compilation on Mental Health and Tests & Difficulties

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia has just released a new publication called Light & Mercy.

Light & Mercy is a compilation of extracts about mental health and tests and difficulties from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.

In its 25 November 2020 message to the Baha’is of the world, the Universal House of Justice wrote that:

…the friends everywhere have sought with characteristic creativity and determination to minister to the needs of an ailing world.

The physical and mental impact of the continuing pandemic is evident around us, and the members of the Baha’i community are not immune. The National Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia wrote that it hopes this publication will be of assistance and support to the friends both individually and collectively, and trusts it will be a source of wisdom and comfort for Baha’is and those whom we come into contact with. Continue reading

The Beauty of Abdu’l-Baha

Portrait of Abdu’l-Baha in Paris, France, October 1911. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

Ever since I was little I have been interested in historical clothes and I have often wondered what Abdu’l-Baha looked like. What did He wear? And how were His clothes and His physical appearance a manifestation of qualities such as cleanliness, purity, grace and a deep abiding love for everyone?

In this article, I’ve gathered a small collection of historical accounts on the beauty of Abdu’l-Baha and stories that describe what He looked like. I am so grateful for these historical recollections, even though they only offer us a glimpse of Him.

The first story relates to cleanliness and it’s found in Vignettes from the Life of Abdu’l-Baha:

The Master considered cleanliness of vital importance. He was indeed ‘the essence of cleanliness’ even as Baha’u’llah had taught His followers. Florence Khanum bore witness to this, for she found Him ‘dazzlingly, spotlessly shining, from snowy turban-cloth, to white, snowy hair falling upon his shoulders, to white snowy beard and long snowy garment. Although it was high noon, in summer His attire was crisp and fresh-looking, as though He had not been visiting the sick, and in prison, and toiling for mankind since early morning. Often a deliciously fresh rose was tucked in His belt.’

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Make Me to Grow – An Album by Victoria Jane Leith

Victoria Jane Leith’s album, Make Me to Grow, is subtitled “an immersive experience of melodies, nature and prayers” and that’s exactly what it is. Listening to it transported me to a devotional gathering in a tranquil garden.

You may recognize Victoria from our Studio Sessions “Lion Roar”“Tiny Seed” and “I Loved Thy Creation”, renditions of which are also included on her sweet album.

I am glad Victoria wanted to share with us about her album. Here’s what she said:

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The Alchemy of Peace: 6 Essential Shifts in Mindsets and Habits to Achieve World Peace

Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing’s latest book called The Alchemy of Peace: 6 Essential Shifts in Mindsets and Habits to Achieve World Peace, offers its readers the gift of hope for the critical crossroads which humanity finds itself. It details ways in which we can change our mindsets and our habits in order to actualize our individual and collective potential: world peace.

Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing writes and lectures in the area of global governance, peace, and international security, and she is the founding director of the Center for Peace and Global Governance, an organization aimed at raising awareness and activating political will and action to tackle global challenges. Her experience and expertise on these subjects have led her to write her fourth book, The Alchemy of Peace, and she graciously agreed to tell us about her book. Here’s what she shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about the book?

Think of a garden that has become a wasteland overrun by weeds. Although we are excited about reviving the garden and creating a luxurious paradise of varied flowers, our efforts are being thwarted at every turn. No matter how many creative plans we make and how many seeds we plant, our efforts come to naught, because the weeds strangle all new growth. So, too, it is with our world today. Despite our best endeavors to come up with programs and action plans to create a just and peaceful world, the results always fall short or fail entirely. What’s going on is that even our most inspiring programs and plans struggle against certain unconscious filters through which we view and understand the world. These filters, or mindsets, are like the operating system of a computer: they drive us and constrain us and yet are in the background hidden from view. These mindsets in turn spawn certain dysfunctional habits. If we are to successfully build the sort of world we want, marked by peace and justice, we need to identify these mindsets and habits — the weeds overrunning our global garden — and replace them with constructive and empowering ones that will propel us in the direction of our vision. The core idea of this book is showing how to do this at the global level to propel us towards peace. I call this the “Alchemy of Peace Method.” After laying out the method in general, the book uses the method to identify six prevalent and insidious mindsets and habits that need to be rooted out and replaced by new mindsets and habits to meet the needs of humanity, as we approach maturity in our collective development.

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A Personal Reflection on Service as the Fixed Center of My Life

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? Continue reading

Through Their Eyes – A New Animation about Meeting Abdu’l-Baha

Baha’i Blog is excited to have recently shared Through Their Eyes, a short animation that brings to life how Abdu’l-Baha touched the lives of certain notable individuals. Viewers get a glimpse of what the Lebanese poet, writer, and artist Khalil Gibran said about Abdu’l-Baha after they met in New York, how the Japanese poet Yone Nogushi described Abdu’l-Baha’s teachings, and also how Abdu’l-Baha’s unbounded love influenced Lady Blomfield, a humanitarian and child rights activist from Great Britain.

As this year marks the 100th anniversary of the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, this film is part of an animated collection created by Flavio Azm Rassekh and PersianBMS which started with Breaking the Chains, a short film about the very first girls schools of Iran that were built by the Baha’i community under the guidance of Abdu’l-Baha.

I got in touch with the film’s creator, my dear friend from Brazil, Flavio Azm Rassekh, to find out more about this new animation and the inspiration behind it: Continue reading

The Spirit of Success – A Baha’i-Inspired Podcast by Yara Ayache

Yara Ayache is an articulate and energetic youth who, in my opinion, is very successful! What is success, and how we can live coherent lives that balance work with service are some of the main topics she tackles in her aptly named video interview and podcast program called The Spirit of Success.

Yara graciously agreed to tell us about herself and her series and we’re delighted to share what she told us:

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Writing as Worship: Reaching Beyond Ego

I have always wanted to be a writer. But despite writing through childhood and high school, and completing a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a focus in poetry, until recently I had never wholeheartedly committed myself to my art. The reason was that I was, and sometimes still am, scared. I was scared because I didn’t know what I would do if I fully devoted myself to the reason I think I was put on this planet, and then found out that my writing did not make a meaningful contribution to society. Sound like a cop-out? I’m pretty sure it was. I lacked the courage to pursue writing because I was afraid of failing. Instead, I pursued many other things—some of which I really loved, and a few of which I was actually very good at—but the whole time I was doing those other things I was carrying a silent awareness that if whatever I was doing didn’t work out it didn’t really matter because what I really wanted to do was write. The result, of course, was that I was always second-guessing myself and never entirely fulfilled by what I was doing: always wondering what it would be like to be truly committed to my chosen line of work, but afraid to give up on the certainty of reliable and even enjoyable work for the possibility of embracing my true calling. Continue reading

Music from the 5 Year Plan Festival, Brisbane Australia

Baha’i Blog is excited to share songs in both videos and audio, from the ‘5 Year Plan Festival’ held in Brisbane, Australia!

In May 2021, Baha’is and like-minded friends from across the Brisbane Bayside area in Australia, gathered together to take part in a festival to celebrate the Five Year Plan. It was an opportunity to wholeheartedly celebrate the achievements of the cluster over the past five years, and to also help shape a unified vision of the One Year Plan ahead. A year that is described by the Universal House of Justice as one “for profound reflection on the life of Abdu’l-Baha and the strength of the Covenant of which He was the Centre.” Songs and stories about Abdu’l-Baha were performed throughout to inspire us to walk in His footsteps, and we are excited to now share this collection of songs for us all to be able to revisit this year and beyond. Continue reading