Category Archives Opinion

Opinions, thoughts and ideas

Reflections on the Month of Sovereignty

The month of Sovereignty (Sultan) is the 17th month in the Baha’i calendar. As an attribute of God, sovereignty implies unquestioned authority. I see this month as an invitation to reflect upon the power, wisdom and infallibility of God, and on what it means to be subjects of a Creator so merciful and just that we want to confidently serve Him with unquestioned and humble devotion. Continue reading

How Visiting Battambang’s Baha’i Temple Strengthened My Faith

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

I was born into a Baha’i family in the Philippines, but grew up in the middle of the hot and humid country of Cambodia. I live in Siem Reap where there is little Baha’i activity and only a few Baha’i families and individuals. And if there is a Baha’i activity, it takes place in my house, whether it be a Nineteen Day Feast, Baha’i Holy Days like Ayyam-i-Ha, core activities or Local Spiritual Assembly meetings.

Growing up, I experienced many memorable celebrations and meaningful discussions around the Baha’i Faith; yet it wasn’t the same outside my house. Outside was a mostly Buddhist world, where it seemed as if there wasn’t any trace of the Baha’i Faith to be seen. I knew there were other Baha’is around the world, but I didn’t have access to the internet to know there were around seven million of us, at that time. I’ve seen big communities in my countries of origin (Malaysia and Philippines), but since there weren’t any other Baha’is around my age in Cambodia, I felt isolated.  Continue reading

The Challenges and Blessings of Forgiveness

It’s very uncomfortable to acknowledge that I—and everyone else—have moments where I am far from being perfect. In short, I make mistakes and I sin. My understanding of what it means to sin, according to the principles of the Baha’i Faith, is when I fall short of the virtuous behavior God calls me to strive for as an inherently noble human being (you can read more about the concept of sin here).

I’ve worked to dismantle perfectionism in my life, where I beat myself up for not being perfect. Some days my inner critic seems to be in charge and labels me as a sinner. Some days my noble self is in the lead, and I can see and feel that I’m full of valuable gems and only have small improvements to work on. The word “sin” seems to carry a heavy weight with it for all of us—who wants to be thought of as a “sinner”? The section in my Baha’i prayerbook of forgiveness prayers is one that, truthfully, I often uncomfortably skip over. It’s very difficult to read prayers that say: “I am a sinner, O my Lord….” even though we all are, to some extent. Continue reading

Approaching Daily Life with Spiritually-Seeing Eyes

I purposely went “off script” during a recent presentation on career development. Though I had spent hours preparing slides and detailed information I wanted to cover, while chatting with guests beforehand it became clear that a new direction was warranted and necessary. I made this conscious decision upon remembrance of sage advice from Abdu’l-Baha about tailoring messages to the unique audience before you, and being ever-mindful of the specific requirements of each individual.  Continue reading

A Personal Reflection on Service as the Fixed Center of My Life

Recently I was reminded of the fascinating section in the 2015 message from the Universal House of Justice to the Counsellors regarding “releasing the potential of youth” and have read over its final paragraph several times. It really struck me: was my own period of youth going to be just a memorable chapter, or would this period of youth be remembered as the time in which service to others would become the fixed center of my earthly existence?

As my youth draws to an end and I am pulled further and further into the life of society as a contributing citizen, would these joyous memories of service and learning from my youth just become that, a “memorable chapter”, or had they really propelled me towards a vision of contributing towards universal good? Continue reading

Writing as Worship: Reaching Beyond Ego

I have always wanted to be a writer. But despite writing through childhood and high school, and completing a bachelor’s degree in creative writing with a focus in poetry, until recently I had never wholeheartedly committed myself to my art. The reason was that I was, and sometimes still am, scared. I was scared because I didn’t know what I would do if I fully devoted myself to the reason I think I was put on this planet, and then found out that my writing did not make a meaningful contribution to society. Sound like a cop-out? I’m pretty sure it was. I lacked the courage to pursue writing because I was afraid of failing. Instead, I pursued many other things—some of which I really loved, and a few of which I was actually very good at—but the whole time I was doing those other things I was carrying a silent awareness that if whatever I was doing didn’t work out it didn’t really matter because what I really wanted to do was write. The result, of course, was that I was always second-guessing myself and never entirely fulfilled by what I was doing: always wondering what it would be like to be truly committed to my chosen line of work, but afraid to give up on the certainty of reliable and even enjoyable work for the possibility of embracing my true calling. Continue reading

Journalism: A Vehicle for Change

While I was serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, one of the youth asked a member of the Universal House of Justice his views on the best career choice. I remember he used the example of someone who decides to make a living as a street-sweeper, doing so in order to maintain a clean and pleasant environment for the community. He continued on to say that it wasn’t important what career path we chose to pursue, as long as we used our work to serve humanity. Abdu’l-Baha sheds light in this regard:

In the Baha’i Cause, arts, sciences and all crafts are counted as worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise.

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My Thoughts on the Meaning of Obedience

In this age of liberalism, obedience can seem like a backward notion. It is true that blind obedience can cause havoc to the world, especially if you submit yourself to a misguided cause, or if you follow others blindly without investigating the truth for yourself. But when you recognize a person or a cause that is truly noble, devoting your time, your energy and your will to it can contribute meaningfully to a better world.

According to my limited understanding of the Baha’i perspective, true obedience is when a person devotes themselves wholeheartedly to the Manifestations of God because the Manifestations are the voice of God and the Divine Physicians who know the remedy for the ailments of the day in which they live: Continue reading