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Striving to Belong, Be Seen, and Be Heard

Baha’u’llah has charged us with creating unity everywhere in our lives. Sometimes, though, our inner wounds get in the way.

A very young me internalized “I don’t belong” from relatively simple experiences like being excluded from friend’s birthday parties and being sent to my room as a punishment. More deeply I internalized it was better to not belong as closely to my family after my mother almost died and her attention was focused on my younger baby brother. It seems to be a common human experience to have an inner child voice born from reacting to early challenges, especially those that involve rejection, severe criticism, or disconnection.

Our inner-child voice operates, often unconsciously, and interferes with connection with others when we are adults, especially if we seem to be experiencing rejection or disrespect from someone. I see it in my work as a relationship educator and coach based in the United States, in friends, and in myself. For some, the inner operating phrase is different: “I’m not good enough”, “I’m invisible”, or “I don’t matter”. But the outcome is the same: disconnection and disunity with people that we really want to be close to. There is hope:

The bright rays of union will obliterate the darkness of limitations, and the splendors of heaven will make the human heart to be even as a mine veined richly with the love of God.

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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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My Reflections on True Friendship

I have been thinking about the concept of friendship lately and the positive impact it can have. Friendship is a powerful force and its influence can extend beyond homes, workplaces, and schools to every setting and scenario imaginable from a visit to the doctor’s office to being on vacation. Imagine living in a world where everyone was welcoming, kindness reigned, individuals of all backgrounds came together and people were frank in their views. Is that only a thought reserved for imaginary utopian societies? I don’t think so.

I feel like this quote from Abdu’l-Baha can be a source of inspiration as we strive to create genuine friendships with everyone:

Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.

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My Reflections on Gratitude During Times of Crisis

A few weeks ago, I received a phone call from one of my local city council representatives. The council had recently launched a podcast in order to cast the spotlight on how people were adapting to the coronavirus pandemic, and they were wondering if I would speak on the topic of gratitude from the perspective of a person of faith.

It was the perfect chance for me to explore and (strive to) articulate exactly why I was grateful to be a Baha’i, particularly during a time of crisis. The most obvious source of gratitude is that the Baha’i Faith provides me with the guidance, strength and perspective I need to carry forward amidst times of intense difficulty – guidance to seek happiness in the happiness of others, to serve others, and to care for others. It is this outward focus that I truly believe gets us through trying times. It gives us purpose and brings us real joy. As Shoghi Effendi says: Continue reading

Extra Features to ‘A Widening Embrace’: 3 New Short Films

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

The Baha’i World Centre has announced the release of three new short films, companion pieces to A Widening Embrace, an innovative documentary film commissioned by the Universal House of Justice about the community-building efforts of the Baha’i world, as seen through the eyes of local populations. The three films are titled Nurturing Younger Generation, Exploring the Empowerment of Junior Youth, and Communities Learning to Advance Together. Their total running time is approximately 32 minutes.  Continue reading

Advancing Civilization: A Personal Reflection

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

I know we have all been there. That moment (which happens way too often, unfortunately) when you watch or read the news or hear stories about the most terrible violence, injustice and corruption happening right before our eyes, all over the world. You might feel almost powerless, or that no effort you make could save the world from so much pain and suffering.  Continue reading

The Discovery Series: Books for Junior Youth

The period of junior youth is one of transition and discovery. No longer children and not yet youth, those in this age group are searching for their identity and yearning for a sense of purpose. The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program material plays a vital role in assisting these adolescents as they develop a concept of service and discover their place in society. According to the Universal House of Justice, these books “…assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and to become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization.”

The Discovery series of books, written by Scottish author Jacqueline Mehrabi, acts as the perfect complement to the Junior Youth material. The trilogy has been developed to prepare junior youth for the spiritual obligations that come with reaffirming their Faith in Baha’u’llah – using storytelling to familiarise the readers with certain laws and ordinances including fasting and obligatory prayer. We spoke to Jackie about her latest works and what she hopes the books achieve. Continue reading

Raising the Quality of Our Systematic Action: Reflection and Planning

Participants of a Study Circle in Preah Vihear, Cambodia (Photo credit: Baha'i World Centre)

All of us feel the sadness and pain that the peoples of the world are experiencing in this day and age. Yet as Baha’i’s, we know we must not lose sight of humanities’ bright future, focussing our energies on contributing our part to building a flourishing spiritual and material civilization. In it’s 2015 Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice wrote: Continue reading

You Don’t Need to be an “Artist” to Integrate the Arts into your Study Circle

Shadow puppet show in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

This article is for those of you who either feel “terrified”, or maybe just simply “at a loss” when it comes to integrating the arts into your study circles. You know that we are urged by the Ruhi Institute to “include artistic endeavours in the activity of every study circle”, and that we should not think of these endeavours as “entertainment or as an extracurricular activity…but as an essential element enhancing the spiritual development of the participants”.

But how do we do this when we don’t feel necessarily musical, artistic, or dramatic? Continue reading

5 Tips for Starting a Devotional on Meetup.com

Meetup.com is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in over 196 countries. It’s typically used by people wanting to practise a new language, meet people in a new city, or dress up as wizards and play dungeons and dragons. So my friends and I thought, why don’t we start a devotional on Meetup.com for people who are interested in having soulful reflections?

We live in Melbourne, Australia, and one year on and we’ve had 105 people express their interest by joining the group. We’ve held 19 Meetups with an average of 11 people attending each time. The diversity of backgrounds and views has made it a fascinating way to meet people from our local area who are looking to have meaningful conversations.

Based on our experience and our learnings, here are five tips for starting a devotional of your own using Meetup.com: Continue reading