Like all animals, we are naturally pleasure-seeking creatures. The desire for pleasure drives, and has driven, many of our endeavours. And we might even say that in the technological age we live in, it drives us even more. But what if we realised that our task in life is not to pursue our own pleasure, but instead to pursue God’s? Baha’u’llah counsels us:
O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.
O SON OF HIM THAT STOOD BY HIS OWN ENTITY IN THE KINGDOM OF HIS SELF! Know thou, that I have wafted unto thee all the fragrances of holiness, have fully revealed to thee My word, have perfected through thee My bounty and have desired for thee that which I have desired for My Self. Be then content with My pleasure and thankful unto Me.
These are beautiful words. But they can be hard to follow. In today’s world, for many people, desires can be quickly met. We want a coffee; we buy one on the go. We want to be entertained; we find something interesting to watch on YouTube. I think that we have become accustomed to having our desires instantly satiated, so the notion of pleasing God, instead of ourselves, can be a completely foreign concept. Continue reading
Prayer is an essential component of a spiritual life according to the Baha’i teachings, and indeed the teachings of most religions. It provides spiritual sustenance for our souls, which are in fact our true selves. It also shows our devotion to God. That is why it is a daily part of life.
There are three Obligatory Prayers that Baha’u’llah revealed that are known by their length – short, medium and long – and people are free to chose one of these to say each day. All of these prayers express similar thoughts and sentiments to God. The short Obligatory Prayer, although brief, is imbued with immense meaning and power. Continue reading
As I join my fellow Baha’is around the world in preparing for the upcoming 19 day Baha’i Fast, I managed to get my hands on a copy of a brand new book by Deborah Walters called The Supreme Remedy – Reflections on applying natural healing arts to the Baha’i Fast.
Deborah Walters is a Doctor of Naturopathy and Homeopathy and she runs a private practice specializing in spiritual, mental and physical healing. In this wonderful book, she draws on both the Baha’i teachings and her own professional experience to examine the human condition of the soul, mind and body. She focuses on how they interrelate and can be harmonized, transformed and energized through the spiritual discipline of the Baha’i Fast and explores the “illimitable” benefits hidden within the Fast and why Baha’u’llah calls it “the supreme remedy” for self and passion.
The Supreme Remedy is also very practical as well, and Deborah answers questions about the Baha’i Fast like: How does the Fast relate to our health, our minds, and our spiritual growth? How can we make it easier and what foods should we eat?
The book is the first of its kind, and Deborah is currently touring to promote her book. I managed to get in touch with Deborah and asked her a few questions about The Supreme Remedy: Continue reading
Over the past few decades, The Universal House of Justice (the elected international body which guides the work of the global Bahá’í community) has outlined a vision of action for Bahá’ís that includes a number of separate but interrelated “core” activities: the gathering together of friends for the purpose of sharing prayers and reading writings of various religious traditions, the intentional study of the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith, programs for the spiritual education of children, and groups designed to allow pre-youth to explore themes of spiritual import and engage in service activities together.
Given the importance of these core activities to the overall efforts of the Bahá’í community, it seems prudent to discuss a concept that The Universal House of Justice describes as one of the primary impetuses behind all of these activities: engaging in “meaningful and distinctive conversations” with our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and co-workers.
So what exactly does it mean to engage in “meaningful and distinctive conversations”? Why is it so important to do so? And what are some ways we can become more mindful of our everyday speech? Continue reading
The fasting period is a special time for Baha’i’s, but Baha’i’s of course are not the only ones who fast. Fasting is also observed in various ways by other religions and belief systems aswell, so I thought it would be interesting to take a brief look at how some of these religions and belief systems practice fasting.
Please keep in mind that this is only a mere glimpse of some of the belief systems of the world, and I am aware that there are many, many more not included here. Each one could definitely have its own dedicated article (which we may do in future), however, for the time being, and for the purposes of this article, I’m just going to give you all a quick overview of a handful of fasting practices. Continue reading
Image by shioshvili (Flickr)
When I first became a Baha’i, the concept of obligatory prayer was new to me. I went from only saying prayers when I needed divine intervention to rescue me from impending academic doom (i.e. every semester, during exam period) to trying to fulfil the various spiritual obligations for a Baha’i life. Obligatory prayer, 95 Allah’u’Abhas, reading from the scriptures at morning and night, remembering to bring myself to account each day – talk about a spiritual regime! For an undisciplined soul like mine, it felt like spiritual boot camp!
Nearly two years later, I still find myself struggling – particularly with obligatory prayer.
Photo by Sean M Scully
It might feel a little morbid thinking about your will but it turns out that writing one is something every Baha’i must do in their lifetime. I discovered this recently when the birth of my first son inspired me to think about the future a little more than I normally do. I discovered that writing a will is in fact a law from the Kitab-i-Aqdas.
It’s a good thing too, because apparently here in Australia if you have no will in certain circumstances everything you own will go back to the state! Yikes!
Because a will is a legal document, it’s important to remember to seek some proper legal advice before drawing one up. You can buy templated will kits, but for me it was nice to have someone qualified doing the work rather than bungling it up myself accidentally – not that I’d ever know!