Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!
Every Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a message to Baha’is around the world looking at where we – as an international community – are in our attempts to execute the latest Plan. This Ridvan, the international Baha’i community entered the second of four consecutive Five Year Plans. Having watched the first Five Year Plan unfold from 2006 to 2011, we stand at an important point in history as we enter the next phase of this exciting journey towards a New World Order, in which we see Baha’u’llah’s vision for the unification of mankind realised.
The Five Year Plan highlights one of the most crucial principles underlying the life of a Baha’i – that of a twofold moral purpose. As a Baha’i, it is crucial to focus on spiritual growth and the acquisition of virtues. However, we are also cautioned not to focus solely on our own spiritual development in a manner that is removed from a consideration of the context in which we live. That is to say that our efforts to acquire spiritual perfections must go hand in hand with our efforts to serve humanity and contribute to the advancement of civilization.
As spiritual beings, we all have this twofold moral purpose. To focus on one aspect while neglecting the other leads to imbalance and prevents us from realising our true life’s purpose. Efforts to acquire spiritual perfection in a vacuum, without engaging in the affairs of society around us, leave us prone to acts of ego. Conversely, efforts to transform society without any regard to our individual spiritual growth will always be misguided and ineffective. The Five Year Plan encapsulates the principle of the twofold moral purpose perfectly by representing a united effort by individuals who recognise the importance of constantly developing their own spiritual qualities by combining their efforts to serve humanity together.
We asked some of our readers to share their reflections on being a part of the next Five Year Plan. One of our readers has shared the following reflections in response to reading the 28 December 2010 message from the House, highlighting the momentous historical significance of this period in time. Continue reading →
n. 1. The art or science of government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs. 2. Intrigue or manoeuvring within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power
The fact that the word “politics” – once used simply to refer to the act of governing – has come to acquire the additional meaning listed above says a lot about the world we live in. This definition reflects the assumption that the act of governance in a country or organisation is inseparable from divisiveness, conflict and the struggle for power and status.
It’s a wonderful, wild, world-wide web out there and nowhere is this more the case than with the social video site YouTube. It was here that – to my delight – I stumbled upon the work of two talented Canadian youth hidden amongst talking cats, dramatic hamsters and a baby monkey riding on a pig. Using YouTube, rap and a music video, these two youth from Ontario, Blair Cameron and Nadim Merrikh, have managed to come up with a quirky and wonderfully catchy way of telling the world about John Esslemont, one of the Baha’i Faith’s most respected scholars.
They decided to put the video together for a Ruhi study circle, but after posting it on YouTube the video has already racked up over six hundred views and counting. I caught up with Nadim to find out more about this bizarrely awesome project that he and Blair have put together. But before we get to the Q&A, here’s their YouTube video. Hit play and find out a little more about Baha’i Hand of the Cause, John Esslemont.
As Baha’is, we believe that the foundation of all the divine religions is one. Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Changeless Faith Series’, in which we look closer at some of the similarities between the divine religions, in an attempt to more fully understand what Baha’u’llah meant when he said “This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future”.
This year, the Christian celebration of Easter coincides with Ridvan. What does Easter have to do with Ridvan, you might ask. Well, not very much, it would seem, and at first glance the two seem fairly unrelated. But over the past few days, I’ve found myself reading up about the Baha’i understanding of the events which Christians celebrate at Easter and I realised that once you remove the customs and traditions which have come to become synonymous with Easter, the real significance of Easter is very closely linked to the significance of Ridvan. Continue reading →
Ridvan is a twelve-day festival, spanning the 13th day of Jalal to the 5th of Jamal of the Baha’i calendar, signifying the 12 days Baha’u’llah spent in the Garden of Ridvan meeting with visitors before His exile to Constantinople. Ridvan (which means “paradise” in Arabic) commemorates Baha’u’llah’s declaration in 1863 as the Promised One of all religions.
To Israel He was neither more nor less than the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father,’ the ‘Lord of Hosts’ come down ‘with ten thousands of saints’; to Christendom Christ returned ‘in the glory of the Father,’ to Shi’ih Islam the return of the Imam Husayn; to Sunni Islam the descent of the ‘Spirit of God’; to the Zoroastrians the promised Shah-Bahram; to the Hindus the reincarnation of Krishna; to the Buddhists the fifth Buddha. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By
It’s always inspiring seeing what Baha’is around the world are doing in their local communities. This video from Bahai.us, documents the story of one of the rougher neighbourhoods in Savannah, Georgia near a Baha’i Unity Center. Local Baha’is set out to involve the community in activities, to serve the community and to create a real bond with the surrounding neighbours through their center.
For me the most inspiring part is the men’s study circle that some of the local residents form, calling themselves One of Us, and doing a huge variety of service projects including taking local kids to baseball games, visiting nursing homes and serving at a soup kitchen. Eventually One of Us starts a really awesome community event called Movies on the Wall where they screen movies on a giant wall in a nearby vacant lot. Continue reading →
Have you ever thought about all the different spheres of your life? Like most people you probably have work, family, friends, and if you are a Baha’i, your Baha’i life. How do these different parts fit together?
Last year while reading the Baha’i World News service, I came across the idea of “a coherent life”. The idea that these different parts of your life – work, family, friends, your beliefs and your ideals – should all make sense together.
Like most good ideas, a coherent life makes sense intuitively. In fact once you start to think about it, not living your life in this manner seems hypocritical. How can you be one person in one part of your life, and another somewhere else? Yet doing just this is surprisingly easy to do.
This post, as the title might suggest, is going to be about blogging. And why I think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.
But you already know all about that. You know what blogs do. You know what they look like. You might even have a few favourites that you check regularly.You’re an internet-savvy citizen of the world wide web with sophisticated tastes. (Clearly the case if you’re reading Baha’i Blog!) You’ve mastered the art of using Google to become a mini-expert in just about any field and you can make a sentence using “facebook” as a verb.
So, you know what blogs are about. Age of technology, yadda yadda. Online communication, blah blah blah. Really, what else possibly needs to be said about blogging? Probably not all that much. Except for this:
You need to be part of this.
Yes, you – sitting there, reading this. Why? Good question.
I don’t like the word “stress”. It’s a Madison Avenue word. It’s something that can be cured with flavoured coffee and bath bubbles.
These words, spoken by the fictional President Josiah Bartlett, are – in my not-so-objective, The-West-Wing-obsessed opinion – one of the best encapsulations of how our society deals with stress.
We all know what it’s like to constantly have too much to do and too little time to do it. We’re constantly overworked, sleep-deprived, trying to catch our breath and fatigued. We live in a society that is overwhelmingly anxious and unhappy.
But perhaps what is more dangerous than all of that is our acceptance of these levels of stress as normal. Getting by on four hours of sleep and bucketfuls of coffee is something of a badge of honour in many circles. In a world where there are so many things to do, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re probably just not doing enough. Or that’s what we’re encouraged to believe anyway.
If you’ve never visited one of the seven Baha’i Houses of Worship, it’s really worth doing. Not only are they a serene place to pray and meditate, but are also simply stunningly beautiful to look at. The temples are spread out across the world, with an eighth currently under construction in Chile and sites chosen in forty five more countries.
Abdu’l-Baha has said that:
…the original purpose of temples and houses of worship is simply that of unity–places of meeting where various peoples, different races and souls of every capacity may come together in order that love and agreement should be manifest between them . . . that all religions, races and sects may come together within its universal shelter …Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 65