Sacrifice. It sounds like such a harsh word. But that might just be a sign of the times. These days, sacrifice can be seen as unnecessary self-denial. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and it actually seems to me that anyone who wants to accomplish anything difficult cannot do so without sacrifice, especially when it comes to spirituality.
When we think about sacrifice, the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac to God often comes to mind. Now, there are a multitude of meanings and interpretations to this story which I won’t go into here. But what seems most basic is that Abraham was called to sacrifice his son out of his devotion to God. And to me, that’s what stands at the heart of true sacrifice. We don’t sacrifice things haphazardly or without a purpose: we renounce things as an act of devotion to something higher. But why do we do this? Because those things stand in our way; they are preventing us from attaining the object of our devotion. Continue reading
Prayer and meditation are often jointly mentioned as one of the primary requisites for spiritual growth. For example, the Universal House of Justice tells us:
In His Writings, Baha’u’llah states clearly the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are reiterated and amplified by Abdu’l-Baha in His talks and Tablets. They can be summarized briefly as prayer and meditation, the endeavor to conform one’s behavior to the exalted standard set forth in the Baha’i Teachings, participation in the life of the Baha’i community, teaching the Faith and contributing to the Baha’i Fund. Different individuals, according to their natures, will follow these paths in varying ways, but all are essential to spiritual growth.
I personally have had many conversations about prayer, but very little about meditation and so I wanted to explore what the Baha’i Writings say about meditation. Continue reading
The official website of the bicentenary celebrations of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, has just added a broadcast schedule of events occurring at many Baha’i Houses of Worship around the world.
The schedule, which can be seen in full here, includes a useful indicator of how many hours remain until the broadcast from a specific House of Worship. These celebrations, occurring at Houses of Worship, or Temples, in India, Australia, Samoa, Panama, Cambodia, the United States, Germany, Uganda, Colombia and Chile will be live streamed directly from the bicentenary website: bicentenary.bahai.org Continue reading
Photo courtesy of Elliott Vreeland
Over 20 years ago, my family left metropolitan life and moved to the Australian regional centre of Ballarat. Located an easy 90-minute drive west of Melbourne, the city is renowned in Australia and abroad for its goldrush history. However, I like to think of its claim-to-fame as being the fact that Australia’s first ever Baha’i woman Effie Baker was raised there, and it was in Ballarat where she received the knowledge and training that would ultimately lead to her serving the Faith as one of its most notable photographers.
With a population of about 100,000, Ballarat is certainly rich in culture, history and heritage. But the reason I love my hometown most of all is because of the strong sense of love, unity and devotion which underpins the Baha’i community. While relatively small (we have less than 30 adult believers and about 15 children and junior youth), we have always managed to work within our means to serve the Faith in a spirit of utmost humility, forging a pattern of collective life that is warm, inclusive and ever-advancing. Continue reading
Using consultation skills in family meetings is excellent for facilitating understanding and making effective family decisions. It’s also a great way to build life skills in children, no matter what their age. They can learn to contribute toward family unity and to the world around them. Meetings can be casual or formal and in any setting; it’s up to each family to explore what works for them. We facilitated an online course called “Communication Skills for Spiritually Minded Parents” at the Wilmette Institute that explored how consultation can be used in family life. In this article, we offer a few words about the importance of consultation and then explore four benefits to consulting as a family unit. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community
I love reading quotations from Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. I usually have one book from each of them or compilations that include all of them in my reading pile along with my prayer book. But it wasn’t always that way. Continue reading
A young woman whom I’d recently befriended fell pregnant outside of marriage. When she called me, she was in complete shock and beside herself. In her agitation she spoke of her fear of what others would think of her, she was terrified of the name calling she and her unborn child would face. She felt she had besmirched her family name and was petrified of the judgment of her close and extended family, her community and friends.
She comes from a very traditional family, and spoke of how her parents would expect her to have an abortion to “save face.”
This is not a blog post about the rights and wrongs of having a child outside of marriage. It is not a post about abortion. Rather it’s about my horrifying realization that backbiting not only “quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul,” but in actuality, it can end a life. Continue reading
I was speaking recently with a cute five-year old, and our conversation turned from the TV show Paw Patrol to the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab. I asked him his thoughts on how we could celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, and he said: “We should make a nice card for His birthday and tell Him that He is the best Bab we have ever had!”
Aside from being amusing, from the perspective of the theology of the Islamic Dispensation, I thought he was kind of right; from what I’ve learned there actually have been several “babs”, or “gates” (in Shiite Islam it is believed that several historical figures called “gates” acted as intermediaries to the Promised One). So, in this special year, how can we draw closer to the Bab who was the “King of the Messengers”, “the Primal Point round Whom the realities of all the Prophets circle in adoration”, the “Founder of the Dispensation marking the culmination of the six thousand year old Adamic Cycle, Inaugurator of the five thousand century Baha’i Cycle”, “The Primal Point from which have been generated all created things”? Continue reading
Motherhood is described in the Baha’i Writings as a vital and elevated role. Being a mother is a noble aspiration and undertaking. Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God’s sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.
In honor of Mother’s Day in North America, and based on an online course called “Embracing a Spiritual Identity of Motherhood” we recently gave through the Wilmette Institute, we’ve been reflecting on the role of motherhood and its links to service and true happiness. Continue reading
Englisi Farsi is a wonderful resource for parents who wish to teach their children Persian (Farsi), the language of Iran, even if they can’t read or write the language themselves. Using the familiar phonetics of the English alphabet, the learning aid includes a series of lively e-books with an interactive audio and pronunciation guide, giving anyone who reads and speaks English a entryway to the rich and lyrical language that is Farsi. Created by Mona Kiani, Englisi Farsi includes colorful books for young children about animals, virtues, fruits and vegetables. They also have a Baha’i prayer book as well! Mona shared with us how she created these books and about the process of putting together the prayer book. Here’s our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Mona! Could you please tell us a little about yourself and Englisi Farsi?
I am an English-speaking Australian of Iranian descent with a Singaporean spouse of mixed ethnicity. We are currently speaking Persian and Mandarin to our son. While I could converse fluently in Farsi, I was not fully acquainted with the Persian written word. That is, untiI I started this journey!
I knew in my heart that I wanted my son to know Farsi. My language defines who I am and, in turn, who he is or will be. I wanted my son to have a good start. But I couldn’t find any resource that didn’t require me to master the Persian alphabet. After a period of futile searching, I decided to develop my own teaching tools in Pinglish/Finglish (Farsi in English) for my son — and my husband as well as the English-speaking wives of my Persian brothers.