Category Archives Interviews

Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet – A Book by Peter Gyulay

Peter Gyulay’s Baha’i Blog articles offer much food for thought, and I find myself thinking about them long after I’ve closed my laptop. If you’re interested, you’ll find all his work here but one of his pieces that I think is really relevant to this post is called My Thoughts on the Mystical Dimensions of the Baha’i Faith. In it, he shares an introduction to what mysticism is and how it is aligned with Baha’i teachings and principles. In fact, Peter wrote a whole book on the topic and it’s called Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet: The Baha’i Approach to Spiritual Transformation.

Here’s what Peter shared with me about his book and what he learned in the process of putting it together:

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

 I was born in Newcastle, Australia. I’ve been a Baha’i since 2003. I earn my living as an English language teacher but my passions are writing, music, being in nature and living an eco-friendly life on a plant-based diet and a bicycle.

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to put this book together?

I have been interested in mysticism for a long time, even before I became a Baha’i, and for my whole Baha’i life, I have been trying to understand the mystical dimension of the Baha’i Faith. Although my understanding will continue to deepen, I felt the need to crystallise my thoughts and share them with others as I think the topic is an important one.

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Noble Beings: Jacqueline Claire’s Illustrated Book of Baha’i Quotations

Playful, joyful, energetic, soulful: these are words that come to mind when describing Jacqueline Claire’s illustrations. (If you’d like see some examples of her artwork you can find it here, or you can learn about her podcast here on Baha’i Blog.)

Jacqueline has most recently created a book that illustrates passages and quotations from the Baha’i Writings and it’s called Noble Beings. Although aimed at a younger audience, I think readers of all ages will delight in her book and find it thoughtful and enriching. Noble Beings is only available for purchase between November 9th and December 8th (you can find copies here) and in the following interview, Jacqueline tells us all about her latest project:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired this project?

Love! On so many levels. Love for the Baha’i Writings. Love for teaching and sharing the Baha’i Faith in a way that connects with people’s hearts. Love for children. Love for the vision of a just, ethical and peaceful world.

I first had the idea in 2017 while shopping for an Ayyam-i-Ha gift for a spiritual and precocious six-year-old. I wanted to give something joyful and relatable that would help nurture a Baha’i identity. I really struggled to find anything that hit the perfect note as far as the aesthetics and spirit of buoyancy and joy I was looking for, so I vowed to eventually make it myself! (In the short run, I illustrated “Blessed is the Spot” for the Ayyam-i-Ha gift). Fast forward to 2020, after working on the book piecemeal over the years,  I finally realized that not only was quarantine the ideal time to hunker down and complete my book! But I think we all became aware this year that our lives can change in an instant, and anything really important to us we have to commit to and DO. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

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The 7 Cities – An Upbeat Musical Collaboration Inspired by the Seven Valleys

Years ago I was involved with an exciting musical initiative called ‘The Dawnbreaker Collective‘, and I’m excited to share a new album born out of that same spirit of collaboration, called The 7 Cities.

The 7 Cities is an upbeat musical collaboration inspired by the mystical works of Baha’u’llah known as The Seven Valleys, where Baha’u’llah writes:

“The stages that mark the wayfarer’s journey from the abode of dust to the heavenly homeland are said to be seven. Some have called these Seven Valleys, and others, Seven Cities. And they say that until the wayfarer taketh leave of self, and traverseth these stages, he shall never reach to the ocean of nearness and union, nor drink of the peerless wine.”

A long time in the making, The 7 Cities album is awesome, and it’s the result of the coming together of colossal talents including Benn Good (AKA Benny Cassette), Ciele Beau, Gregory Stutzer, Emiliano “Diversoul” Morondos, Daniel Mansions, Naima Te Maile, Tara Ellis, Rey Loo and Meredith LeMarche.

I caught up with my dear friend Benny Cassette and a few of the others involved, to hear more about the album, and here’s what they shared: Continue reading

The Wise Men of the West – New Novels by Jay Tyson

It’s been exciting to showcase Baha’i-inspired novels on Baha’i Blog such as The Woman Who Read Too Much by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, The Consulting Detective by Alan Manifold, or Persian Passion: Of Gods and Gargoyles by Tom Lysaght.

The Wise Men of the West (volumes one and two!) are new novels to hit the shelves by Jay Tyson. They’re about the prophesies and expectations of the return of Christ or the Messiah. We’re excited to hear from Jay about his novels, how they came together, and what he hopes readers will take away with them, long after they’ve finished reading the last page. Here’s what he shared with us:

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

I grew up as a Presbyterian, but always wondered why God had not spoken to us in almost 2000 years. So, in my youth, I was attracted to the Baha’i teachings and became a Baha’i before entering college. I studied civil engineering at Princeton and used my education to enable myself and my wife to serve as Baha’i pioneers to Liberia in the late 1970s. It also provided a foundation for work at the Baha’i World Centre, where we served from 1982 to 1989. Since then, we’ve raised two daughters in my wife’s home state of New Jersey and are now proud grandparents.

As a first-generation Baha’i, I’ve felt a special obligation to share something of my experience with other Christians who may be willing to tread a similar path. But I felt that a novel might be more interesting and more frequently read than a simple memoir.

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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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The Bab and Baha’u’llah: The Twin Manifestations of God – A Children’s Book

Melissa Charepoo has created several children’s books that make the significance of Baha’i holy days accessible to a young audience. You may remember her books about Ayyam-i-Ha, the Fast and Naw-Ruz. She also wrote The Life of Baha’u’llah and most recently she’s released The Life of the Bab. In this post we wanted to focus on her new book titled The Bab and Baha’u’llah: The Twin Manifestations of God. Continue reading

I Love My Name: A Children’s Book about the Life of Tahirih

Author Linda Ahdieh Grant and illustrator Anna Myers have teamed up to create a moving children’s story about courage and the life of Tahirih. Titled I Love My Name and published by Bellwood Press, this book is aimed at elementary school aged children. I was able to hear from both Linda and Anna about their work, this book, and how they hope it will inspire its readers. Here’s a look at our conversation:

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

I Love My Name is the story of an 8 year old girl who one day at school discovers a previously unknown source of courage. This girl’s name is Tahirih and she loves her name very much. One day, she overhears her friends making fun of her name. This saddens her and she turns to her teacher. The teacher, instead of using his own words to cheer her up, shares the story of the heroine after whom she was named.
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The Badi Collection: New Baha’i-inspired Planners based on the Badi Calendar

A couple of months ago, two young Baha’is based in Melbourne, Australia named Tanisha and Tina, set out to design a planner like no other. They wanted Baha’is to have access to a planner based on the Baha’i calendar (known as the Badi calendar) on a daily basis, so this month, they’ve launched their own brand called ‘Fire & Gold‘, with the 2021 Badi Collection of planners being their very first product.

I got in touch with Tanisha and Tina to find out more about Fire and Gold, and particularly about their Badi planners: Continue reading

Breaking the Chains: New Animation About Historical Role Baha’is Played in Bringing Education to Girls in 1900s Iran

We’re excited to share a new animation called ‘Breaking the Chains: The Story of the Girls School in Iran‘, an animated short film which tells the historical role Baha’is played in bringing education to girls in Iran in the early 1900s. The animation explains how in the early 1900s, only 5% of the population of Iran had access to basic writing skills, and knowledge of the sciences were kept exclusively to men. Breaking this cycle of oppression was no small feat, and that’s when Tahirih and Abdu’l-Baha come into the story.

The animation is in both English and Persian/Farsi, and it was made by my dear Brazilian-Persian friend, Director and Producer Flavio Azm Rassekh, in collaboration with PersianBMS.

I caught up with Flavio to find out more about it, and here’s what he shared: Continue reading