Category Archives Art & Creative Works

Bahai-ideas.site – Free Online Resources by Corbin Doak

Corbin Doak has created a plethora of resources for anyone to use. They include fliers and invitations, posters and much more. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Corbin has graciously agreed to tell us about his website, Bahai-ideas.site, what it offers and how it came to be. Here’s our conversation:

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

My name is Corbin Doak. I am a husband, father, graphic and website designer, and a Baha’i. I was born in the state of Maine and pioneered with my family to the Island of Kauai when I was 13 years old. I pioneered in Asia for 11 years. While there I met my wife and started a family. About 5 years ago we decided to move to Hawaii. We now live on the beautiful Hawaii Island.

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Unravelling Beauty

Night view of lit windows on the octagon of the Shrine of the Bab. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

It is the time of year when physical beauty is in abundance. Along the waterfront across from my house the lilacs, honeysuckle and wild roses are all in full bloom. Every evening I walk over and sit among the flowers, the air redolent with sweetness, and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have such ready access to beauty that I can immerse myself in. When I walk through the flowers and along the harbour watching sail boats fly gracefully past on the deep blue water of the bay the sense of calm and peace that descends on me is similar to sensations I experience when in a state of prayer.

The Baha’i Writings describe music as a ladder for the soul—I have always assumed this is because of its beauty. Years ago I attended a talk given by the architect Fariborz Sahba in which he described the beautiful details that William Sutherland Maxwell included in the design of the cupola at the top of the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel. This tiny space is only actually ever seen by the individuals who go up into the dome to clean and do maintenance on the structure, so I was surprised by the attention and energy given to creating beauty that would never be seen.

His talk raised a number of questions for me: When we create with beauty in mind, who are we creating it for, and what purpose is it intended to serve? Clearly beauty is supremely important to our spiritual growth—an entire month in our calendar is named Jamal, which is “beauty” in Arabic. But what is beauty, really? Are there different kinds of beauty, or is all beauty simply an expression of one essential truth? And what is it about beauty that draws us to it? Continue reading

Nurturing Human Beans – Free Activity Books for Kids to Intentionally Practice Spiritual Principles

I was excited to learn about an awesome new initiative called ‘Nurturing Human Beans’, a series of free activity booklets aimed at helping children put spiritual principles into practice.

These activity books were created by a couple of my friends named Anisa and Dina, both mothers, who were trying to figure out what activities they could do with their children, especially during this time of isolation as a result of the current pandemic. Their first activity booklet is titled ‘LOVE – A Practical Guide for Kids (During Social Distancing)’, and like all their booklets, they aim to connect children and their actions with spiritual principles that bring meaning to the circumstances they find themselves in.

I wanted to learn more about this wonderful free activity booklet and the ‘Nurturing Human Beans’ initiative as a whole, so I got in touch with Anisa and Dina to find out more. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

Radiant Heart – An Album by Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace

A blending of cultures and a meeting point of generations is what makes Radiant Heart a special album, even before you begin listening to it. Mother-daughter duo Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace, have created an album with songs in English, Persian (Farsi) and Arabic. Their respective voices, languages and the cultural heritage they draw upon complements each other magnificently.

It’s been a while since we heard from Shidan or Shadi. You may remember Shidan from our interview with her about her album Phoenix of Love, which you can read here. And we last heard from Shadi when she was a guest on our podcast, which you can check out here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 27: Shadi Toloui-Wallace

So with the release of this new and unique album, we thought it was time to hear from both of them again, and here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading

Integrating Arts into Community Life: The Experience of the Baha’is of Ballarat

I’m really excited to share a special arts initiative by the Ballarat Baha’i Community. In honour of the centenary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, we have invited renowned Ballarat musicians Geoffrey and George Williams to create a virtual choir using a choral piece based on the Writings of Baha’u’llah. It is a song that they composed for the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah in 2017 and now, as a virtual collaboration, my Baha’i community is really hoping the song can foster connection, bind hearts, and induce joy and happiness during a time when feelings of isolation and sadness are rife around the world.

The choral piece is taken from Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah:

Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face…Be an ornament to the countenance of truth…a breath of life to the body of mankind.

The end result is bound to be spine-tingling, and my community and my friends are so excited to see the final production. Submissions are encouraged from everyone. Whether you believe in God or not is irrelevant. Whether you have a lot of experience singing or not is irrelevant. Whether you are Baha’i or not is not the point. One thing is for certain – knowing that people will be coming together to sing words centred around generosity, gratitude, compassion and joy is sure to bring about some much-needed relief amidst a global crisis, not to mention the inspiration we are all bound to gain. For as Baha’u’llah says:

We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may he lifted up unto the realm on high.

I’ve included some details on how to participate in the virtual choir below but before I get to that, I wanted to share how this project came about and what I’ve been reflecting on in the process. Continue reading

The Power of the Spoken Word

When I first started writing poetry, I really wasn’t aware of what I was doing, or why I was doing it; other than the fact that I was bored out of my wits in the middle of an engineering lecture. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the “spoken word scene, I’d never picked up a book of poetry to read, and I had no idea there was such a thing as the national poetry slam. I was just passing time in lectures.

It’s fair to say I wasn’t very passionate about being an engineer, and I certainly had no ambitions of performing poetry or publishing a book. But as it turns out, and without even realising how it came to be, that’s exactly what happened. Little did I know a pathway of service was beginning to show itself to me. Continue reading

Spiritual Conversation: A Podcast by Jacqueline Claire

It’s exciting to see more and more Baha’i-inspired podcasts being produced by writers, musicians, thinkers and artists. I’m particularly delighted that Jacqueline Claire (you may know her from her art or her interactive art talks) has created a podcast series called Spiritual Conversation. She’s an engaging story teller who tackles elevated topics thoughtfully, honestly and joyfully — you can even hear her mega-watt smile streaming through your headphones!

Jacqueline reached out to tell us about her podcast and about the work, the ideas, the hopes and the dreams that go on behind-the-scenes. Here’s what she shared with us:

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In This Day – A Short Film About Prayer and Overcoming Tests and Difficulties

In This Day is a poignant and visually stunning short film put together by a team of young adults in New York City (USA). It was made in honour of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab but its subject and its themes of serving others, the importance of prayer, and of facing tests and difficulties are applicable anytime.

Nava Kavelin is one of the film’s team members and she shared a little with us about the film and what she learned in the process of making it: Continue reading