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Preethi

In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Classroom.

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Breaking the Choice Sealed Wine

Image by jamzi (Flickr)

“Immerse yourselves”, Baha’u’llah tells us, “in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths”.

I’m not sure if you feel the same way but when I think about the numerous volumes that Baha’u’llah has revealed, I often find myself vacillating wildly between two states: firstly, awe and curiosity, having been moved by the beauty and wisdom of the Writings; and secondly, complete paralysis from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer immensity and profundity of the Writings. There’s so much to gain from studying the Writings but it’s not always easy!

The Kitáb-i-Íqán is just one of the works by Baha’u’llah that I have attempted – on numerous occasions – to read from start to finish but simply haven’t been able to. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover, just a few months ago, that there is now an online course on the Kitáb-i-Íqán!

Fazel Naghdy, the creator of this online course, has kindly prepared a selection of writings by Shoghi Effendi about the Kitáb-i-Íqán and has also provided some additional information on the course.

I’ve already signed up to do the course and am really excited! If you, like me, have been meaning to get around to really studying the Kitáb-i-Íqán, then this post, which compiles what Shoghi Effendi has to say about the importance of the Kitáb-i-Íqán – is  for you. (A big thanks to Fazel for preparing this for us!)

Read on!

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Waiting for the World to End

Image by krypty (Flickr)

As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

It’s certainly been an exciting weekend!

Around the world, on May 22, Baha’is celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of the Bab. The Bab was a Messenger of God whose mission was to prepare humanity for the message of Baha’u’llah. The story of the Bab’s life and mission is dramatic and emotion-stirring – filled with persecution, difficulty and, ultimately, triumph. The Bab foretold the coming of a Divine Teacher with a message even greater than His own. Although the Bab’s faith was a religion in itself, the Declaration of the Bab reminds Baha’is of the exciting and remarkable historical events that provided the context for the mission of Baha’u’llah.

The other remarkable historical event that happened this 22 May – or was meant to happen but didn’t – is one that has captured the imagination of many since time immemorial: the end of the world.

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Contemplating Death

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On one occasion the Buddha asked several of the monks, “How often do you contemplate death?”One of them replied, “Lord, I contemplate death every day.””Not good enough,” the Buddha said, and asked another monk, who replied,”Lord, I contemplate death with each mouthful that I eat during the meal.””Better, but not good enough,” said the Buddha, “What about you?”The third monk said, “Lord, I contemplate death with each inhalation and each exhalation.” Mahaparinibbana Sutta

Last Saturday night, I was out for dinner with an old friend who was visiting from out of town. It was a typical Saturday night at the end of an even more typical week. I’d gone from one weekend to the next without even realising that a whole week had gone by – going from one thing to the next; trying to cross as many tasks off a to-do list as possible; scheduling in new appointments while waiting for Melbourne’s notoriously unreliable trains. Even dinner at a new restaurant seemed old and familiar – I’ve come to know this city like the back of my hand.

But then, I received a call from home that violently pulled me out of my comfortably predictable, routine-filled world in a second – a family member had passed away. In the hours and days that followed, I found myself in unfamiliar territory.

Death isn’t generally something we – as humans – tend to think very much about until life forces us to by confronting us with the reality and inevitability of death. Following that phone call, I rushed to cancel all my appointments and to catch the earliest flight back home. Much of the next 84 hours was spent shuttling to and from airports, waiting to board flights and trying (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep in between the turbulence and captain’s announcements. These long, empty hours and my need to make sense of a very emotional situation forced me to do something that I’ve realised we – as a society – simply don’t do enough: contemplate death.

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What is a Five Year Plan?

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Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!

Every Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a message to Baha’is around the world looking at where we – as an international community – are in our attempts to execute the latest Plan. This Ridvan, the international Baha’i community entered the second of four consecutive Five Year Plans. Having watched the first Five Year Plan unfold from 2006 to 2011, we stand at an important point in history as we enter the next phase of this exciting journey towards a New World Order, in which we see Baha’u’llah’s vision for the unification of mankind realised.

The Five Year Plan highlights one of the most crucial principles underlying the life of a Baha’i – that of a twofold moral purpose. As a Baha’i, it is crucial to focus on spiritual growth and the acquisition of virtues. However, we are also cautioned not to focus solely on our own spiritual development in a manner that is removed from a consideration of the context in which we live. That is to say that our efforts to acquire spiritual perfections must go hand in hand with our efforts to serve humanity and contribute to the advancement of civilization.

As spiritual beings, we all have this twofold moral purpose. To focus on one aspect while neglecting the other leads to imbalance and prevents us from realising our true life’s purpose. Efforts to acquire spiritual perfection in a vacuum, without engaging in the affairs of society around us, leave us prone to acts of ego. Conversely, efforts to transform society without any regard to our individual spiritual growth will always be misguided and ineffective. The Five Year Plan encapsulates the principle of the twofold moral purpose perfectly by representing a united effort by individuals who recognise the importance of constantly developing their own spiritual qualities by combining their efforts to serve humanity together.

We asked some of our readers to share their reflections on being a part of the next Five Year Plan. One of our readers has shared the following reflections in response to reading the 28 December 2010 message from the House, highlighting the momentous historical significance of this period in time. Continue reading

Taking the Politics Out of Politics

(Photo courtesy: planolight via Flickr)

pol·i·tics

n.
1. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.
2. Intrigue or manoeuvring within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power

The fact that the word “politics” – once used simply to refer to the act of governing – has come to acquire the additional meaning listed above says a lot about the world we live in. This definition reflects the assumption that the act of governance in a country or organisation is inseparable from divisiveness, conflict and the struggle for power and status.

But is that necessarily the case?

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Changeless Faith: Ridvan and Easter

Image by Molly Stevens (Flickr)

As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.

This year, the Christian celebration of Easter coincides with Ridvan. What does Easter have to do with Ridvan, you might ask. Well, not very much, it would seem, and at first glance the two seem fairly unrelated. But over the past few days, I’ve found myself reading up about the Baha’i understanding of the events which Christians celebrate at Easter and I realised that once you remove the customs and traditions which have come to become synonymous with Easter, the real significance of Easter is very closely linked to the significance of Ridvan. Continue reading

What is Ridvan and Why Does it Have 12 Days?

Ridvan is a twelve-day festival, spanning the 13th day of Jalal to the 5th of Jamal of the Baha’i calendar, signifying the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan meeting with visitors before His exile to Constantinople. Ridvan (which means “paradise” in Arabic) commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of all religions.

To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father,’ the ‘Lord of Hosts’ come down ‘with ten thousands of saints’; to Christendom Christ returned ‘in the glory of the Father,’ to Shi’ih Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the ‘Spirit of God’; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

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Social Discourse: Blogging while Baha’i

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This post, as the title might suggest, is going to be about blogging. And why I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

But you already know all about that. You know what blogs do. You know what they look like. You might even have a few favourites that you check regularly.You’re an internet-savvy citizen of the world wide web with sophisticated tastes. (Clearly the case if you’re reading Baha’i Blog!) You’ve mastered the art of using Google to become a mini-expert in just about any field and you can make a sentence using “facebook” as a verb.

So, you know what blogs are about. Age of technology, yadda yadda. Online communication, blah blah blah. Really, what else possibly needs to be said about blogging? Probably not all that much. Except for this:

You need to be part of this.

Yes, you – sitting there, reading this. Why? Good question.

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The Virtue of Joyfulness

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I don’t like the word “stress”. It’s a Madison Avenue word. It’s something that can be cured with flavoured coffee and bath bubbles.

These words, spoken by the fictional President Josiah Bartlett, are – in my not-so-objective, The-West-Wing-obsessed opinion – one of the best encapsulations of how our society deals with stress.

We don’t!

We all know what it’s like to constantly have too much to do and too little time to do it. We’re constantly overworked, sleep-deprived, trying to catch our breath and fatigued. We live in a society that is overwhelmingly anxious and unhappy.

But perhaps what is more dangerous than all of that is our acceptance of these levels of stress as normal. Getting by on four hours of sleep and bucketfuls of coffee is something of a badge of honour in many circles. In a world where there are so many things to do, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re probably just not doing enough. Or that’s what we’re encouraged to believe anyway.

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Junior Youth: The UN Chimes In

UNICEF's State of the World's Children 2011 Report

Every year, UNICEF publishes it’s flagship report “State of the World’s Children”. This report – read by thousands of people in governments, the United Nations, the media and the general public – typically examines a key issue affecting the welfare of children and strongly influences policy-makers and practitioners working in the field of children’s rights around the world.

So, it is exciting to see how policy-making at both the national and international levels will respond to the bold statement underlying the entire report: Young people, truly, can change the world.

The report , titled “Adolescence – An age of opportunity”, begins to question many of the assumptions that have been made about adolescents by society  and implores policy-makers to recognise both the incredibly vulnerability of adolescents, where investments into their well-being and development have not been made, as well as the tremendous capacity of these very same individuals, where those investments have been made. (Download the State of the World’s Children 2011 report or watch the UNICEF video summaring the report.)

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