As I write this rain is pattering against the window above my desk. Outside, a tree that has been covered in brilliant yellow leaves for the past couple of weeks is in transition—the topmost branches are already bare. A slow but steady release is happening lower down, and the bottom is still blazing colour against the slate grey sky. Around me the world is in a season of radical transformation. We’ve come to a point where none of us can avoid the truth that individual wellbeing is inseparably connected to the wellbeing of all. Personally, the physical separation from those I love, coupled with a heightened awareness of the brevity of this earthly life is making me ask myself bigger questions than I had been previously. Three that come up for me a lot are: What is God’s Will for humanity? How do I align my life’s purpose with the Will of God? And what specific capacities can I strengthen in myself right now that will help me to better serve the needs of humanity at this pivotal time? Continue reading
Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community
Prayer is an integral component of Baha’i life. It is the very foundation upon which our lives as spiritual beings are built. In my opinion, without prayer, we weaken the vessel which acts as our connection to the divine realm and revert to being physical beings living a solely physical life.
There are many different settings in which we can pray as Baha’is. But before we delve into some of these, it is important to explore what prayer is. Continue reading
Every year in our village, our Baha’i community participates in the annual autumn festival. We set up a beautiful booth with Baha’i literature and information, and photographs of the Shrine of the Bab and the Baha’i Houses of Worship. We also have a fun game for the children to play, where the prizes are candies and small gifts, but more importantly, they are also given the opportunity to write their name on a can of soup or vegetables that will be donated on their behalf to a local charity.
This year, because of the pandemic, our annual autumn festival was cancelled. In order to be of service to the poor in our community, my husband Robert and I organized a delivery of canned goods to our local charity.
This is one small action, inspired by the many beautiful examples from the lives of Baha’u’llah, Navvab, and Abdu’l-Baha. Here are a three of my favourites. Continue reading
Some college student friends and I have been reflecting on a quotation from Baha’u’llah about individual and social transformation:
Is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions? For if the character of mankind be not changed, the futility of God’s universal Manifestation would be apparent.
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I recently finished studying Reflections on the Life of the Spirit, the first book in a series of materials that have been developed to “assist individuals to deepen their understanding of the Baha’i teachings, and to gain the spiritual insights and practical skills they need to carry out the work of the community.” I have participated in many Ruhi study circles, but this one has been particularly life-changing for me. Our tutor, Fanya, lost her grandmother earlier this year to COVID-19, and in searching for creative ways to process her own grief, decided to invite a few other people who have lost close family members to study Ruhi Book 1 with her.
The first book in the Ruhi sequence explores what it means to be spiritual beings; the purpose of prayer; and how living a life of service can help us strengthen our spiritual capacity and grow closer to God. In retrospect, the usefulness of this book as a tool to create a supportive environment in which a group of people can move through grief in community seems obvious, but I had never heard of it being used in this way before. Our weekly study circle has been so helpful to me in my own journey through grief that it got me thinking that sharing my experience might inspire tutors in other places to consider using Ruhi Book 1 to support those who are grieving. In the spirit of finding new ways that we can utilize the Ruhi materials to build stronger communities, here are six ways that using Ruhi Book 1 to process grief has helped me:
I have found that the joy of being a Baha’i is that, irrespective of your age or depth of understanding in the Baha’i Writings, you are constantly challenged with new ideas. The concept of “moral beauty” threw itself at me when attending a devotional meeting centred around the theme of our attraction to beauty. Continue reading
In my work as an image coach, I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on what modesty might mean. It seems to me that societal standards are degrading, almost on a daily basis. I have witnessed how things that would have been distressing or offensive even a few years ago are now acceptable in the society in which I live – I have seen changes in the way we speak, the way we interact with others, the way we dress, and so on. Pushing limits and boundaries is understood by some to be a sign of liberation from outdated and restrictive habits and it seems that the more daring and outrageous one can be in challenging traditional conventions, the better.
While there are many traditional and cultural concepts and practices that are outworn and obsolete, there are also some that I believe need to be respected and maintained, or even elevated and appreciated in a whole new way. One of these is the concept of modesty. Continue reading
Baha’u’llah’s The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys are often found translated together in English, however, they are two distinct mystical texts, or tablets. I wrote about the significance of The Seven Valleys in this Baha’i Blog article and while both texts “basically convey the same truth”, I’d like to share a brief introduction to The Four Valleys in this piece and explore what makes it distinct. Continue reading
Baha’u’llah has charged us with creating unity everywhere in our lives. Sometimes, though, our inner wounds get in the way.
A very young me internalized “I don’t belong” from relatively simple experiences like being excluded from friend’s birthday parties and being sent to my room as a punishment. More deeply I internalized it was better to not belong as closely to my family after my mother almost died and her attention was focused on my younger baby brother. It seems to be a common human experience to have an inner child voice born from reacting to early challenges, especially those that involve rejection, severe criticism, or disconnection.
Our inner-child voice operates, often unconsciously, and interferes with connection with others when we are adults, especially if we seem to be experiencing rejection or disrespect from someone. I see it in my work as a relationship educator and coach based in the United States, in friends, and in myself. For some, the inner operating phrase is different: “I’m not good enough”, “I’m invisible”, or “I don’t matter”. But the outcome is the same: disconnection and disunity with people that we really want to be close to. There is hope:
The bright rays of union will obliterate the darkness of limitations, and the splendors of heaven will make the human heart to be even as a mine veined richly with the love of God.
Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.
So many people in the world, especially young people, are looking for their calling and something to cling to, something that gives life context and a purpose, something that bathes everything else in meaning, magically making sense of life. For me, this yearning for a deeper meaning to life is a sign that humans have souls, and it is a reminder that we are not content with simply getting on with life. We seek connections and a path to channel our energies. This search for deeper meaning can lead to wonderful things: some examples that come to my mind are when people become very devoted to their field of work, which leads to much-needed discoveries and advancement, or when people dedicate their lives to the spiritual education of children and empowering junior youth.
But what is finding oneself really? And how does one find oneself? Continue reading