Category Archives Opinion

Opinions, thoughts and ideas

Recognising the Veils and Signs in Our Lives

Baha’u’llah revealed a path to humanity, a path to God for all who wish to walk it. I have been trying to tread this path for over 15 years and have realised that there are things that aid me in this endeavour and also things that thwart my efforts: signs of God and metaphorical veils that keep me from God. Of course, there are many other tools needed on a spiritual journey (prayer, fasting, service to others, and so on) but in this article, I’d like to explore what the signs of God might be, and the veils that hold me back. Continue reading

A New Perspective on Transitions: What Birth Teaches Us About Dying

When I was a child my parents taught me that Baha’is believe that there are innumerable worlds of God; that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience, and that spiritual existence extends beyond the womb, this world and the next, so our souls will continue to develop long after our bodies have returned to dust. Death, within this conception of reality, is seen as a messenger of joy because once released from the physical afflictions of the body, the soul just enters a new chapter in its’ journey towards its’ Beloved, God. Continue reading

My Thoughts on Moderation and My Use of Social Media

Not long ago, I took the plunge and went on a social media detox. (Please note: this was well before the release of The Social Dilemma documentary when people were uninstalling their apps in hordes).

The reason I decided to clear my phone of some select apps was that I found they were having a negative effect on my mental and social well-being. I was spending far too much time scrolling fanatically through my news feeds, changing swiftly from one app to another and then back again, and subconsciously becoming burdened by the nonsensical task of checking all my notifications. My days were fettered by comparison, vain imaginings and an attachment to the world, and I knew it wasn’t healthy.

However, after some much-needed reflection, I realised it was a classic case of “It’s not you. It’s me”, with the “you” in question being social media. I came to the conclusion that while Instagram and Facebook weren’t necessarily mitigating my social media addiction, I did need to strengthen my ability to use these platforms sensibly and in moderation. Abdu’l-Baha says: Continue reading

Why Do Baha’is Say “Allah’u’Abha” 95 Times? Some Personal Thoughts

Meditation and all things meditative are really close to my heart so I wanted to learn more about the invocation “Allah’u’Abha” which Baha’is say 95 times a day. In this article, I’d like to share some of my thoughts based on what I’ve read in the Baha’i Writings on what “Allah’u’Abha” means, why this meditative practice is carried out every day, why it involves repetition, when it’s said, and why it’s repeated 95 times as opposed to any other number. Continue reading

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

5 Things to Consider Before Asking for Consent to Marry

You and your sweetie are talking about marriage. Being in a happy marriage builds love, promotes well-being, and creates an ever-expanding unity. In comparison, being in a conflicted marriage is misery. The good news is you have a lot of control over the outcome; “Careful preparation for marriage is an essential first step in the preservation of Baha’i marriage.”

Asking for and receiving consent from all living parents is a requirement of Baha’i marriage. It’s a new concept to have couples independently arrive at the decision to marry and then to have parents respond. I’m always striving to understand the guidance from the Baha’i Writings on the subject. I’ve considered and given consent, and I’ve also asked for it from my own parents. I am exploring the topics of consent and marriage with couples and parents globally as a marriage and relationship educator and coach. However, everyone involved in consent is in a learning mode and simply trying to do their best. One way I am learning is by asking couples in difficulty what they could have done differently before they asked for consent and got married. Here is my checklist of 5 things to consider as potentially helpful for you before asking for consent:  Continue reading

The Individual, Institutions & the Community: Personal Reflections on the Three Protagonists & Raising Children

The Universal House of Justice, in its 26 November 1999 letter to the Baha’is of the world, defines the principal actors needed to build vibrant and open communities that will advance humanity towards realizing its oneness. These three protagonists are: the individual, the institutions, and the local community (and you can read an introduction to this concept here). Through their collaborations, advancement is possible in all our endeavors.

As a mother with love for the world and concern for the wellbeing of all children, I continually find the need to pause and reflect on what’s happening around us. It is hard to ignore the implications of raising children in this period of history. I wanted to explore this subject as it relates to the three protagonists and how they advance civilization. Continue reading