Prayer and meditation are often jointly mentioned as one of the primary requisites for spiritual growth. For example, the Universal House of Justice tells us:
In His Writings, Baha’u’llah states clearly the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are reiterated and amplified by Abdu’l-Baha in His talks and Tablets. They can be summarized briefly as prayer and meditation, the endeavor to conform one’s behavior to the exalted standard set forth in the Baha’i Teachings, participation in the life of the Baha’i community, teaching the Faith and contributing to the Baha’i Fund. Different individuals, according to their natures, will follow these paths in varying ways, but all are essential to spiritual growth.
I personally have had many conversations about prayer, but very little about meditation and so I wanted to explore what the Baha’i Writings say about meditation. Continue reading
The Baha’i World Centre has recently released a new compilation on prayer and devotional life which can be read online at the Baha’i Reference Library here. Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, this compilation features extracts from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, the Bab, and Abdu’l-Baha and the letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice. Continue reading
The body is great at telling us when something isn’t functioning. Aches, pains, rashes, lumps… all of these tell us that something is wrong with the body and we need to find out what it is. The symptoms are signs leading to a deeper underlying problem. But we don’t just have a body; we also have a soul. In fact, we are souls living with a body. So, if there are signs in the body of good and bad health, are there similar signs in the soul?
The perplexing thing about the soul is that it is so elusive and mysterious. We cannot see or touch it. Baha’u’llah says of the soul:
Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. ((Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.161))
It’s funny, as children we have such great visions of the world. Our imagination takes precedence over the realities in which we live and we can see everything with such beauty and splendor. The world is filled with infinite possibilities. Somehow though, as we grow older, we seem to lose this light as we learn more about the difficulties of the world, and the realities of hardship that others face, with no apparent solution. We forget as adults we ever had this idealistic vision “once upon a time” and we begin to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Thankfully for us, we have been offered Messengers with a more significant vision than our own — one where mankind comes together for peace, justice and, most importantly, unity. It is a vision of a world that is fair, equal and progressive. This potent and powerful vision is for people from every race and nationality and it asks us to be inspired with what is possible. This vision is truly remarkable; it is a vision from God, as offered by Baha’u’llah, the most recent Messenger. Abdu’l-Baha explains how this vision is eternal: Continue reading
In today’s world and in my culture, it is often the talkative who are popular and at the centre of attention. Those who don’t speak a lot are considered shy and even boring. It is normal that when people are together, they talk the whole time. Any silence is awkward and has to be filled with chatter.
Of course, speech is a marvellous skill. In another article on Baha’i Blog, I explained the high station that language has in the Baha’i Faith.
But here I would like to discuss the place of silence in the life I am striving to live. Words are useful for certain purposes and if used in the right way (as the before-mentioned article highlights), but beyond that, I think they can be destructive. Continue reading
I want to describe a way of worship that I am familiar with. Perhaps you will recognize it. Continue reading
One analogy that has developed in my head and heart recently is the notion that reading the Baha’i Writings can be analogous to watering the garden of our soul. This article was inspired by Haylee Navidi’s insightful post on farming as an analogy for community building, based on the 29 December 2015 message from the Universal House of Justice and other excerpts from the Writings, as well as recently being charged with the duty of watering a new garden where I live. Like I mean, the green stuff that grows outside. I actually had to water it. Continue reading
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
37 seconds. I have been sitting still for 37 seconds now. I am not kidding. And with my eyes closed all this time. Well, nearly all this time. I had to open them to see how many hours minutes seconds (sigh) had passed. I close them again. Focus, I tell myself. Concentrate. I am aware that my foot is itching. Now I am aware that I am focusing on my foot instead of…? What am I supposed to be focusing on? Now I am just feeling irritated. I open my eyes again. 52 seconds.
Clearly this is not working.
Meditation: something that I have been struggling to learn for years. I call to mind the simple and direct plea from TS Eliot’s ‘Ash Wednesday’: “Teach us to sit still.”
The words resonated deeply with me those many years ago in my high school poetry class, just as they do today. How do we learn to ‘sit still’, to truly be still, particularly in the midst of the mayhem and madness of life?
What does it mean to meditate? Continue reading
There’s a well-documented scientific study that’s been all the rage in the past few years about something that happened in the Israeli Defence Force. Before entering the Defence Force, all the cadets had to sit pre-entry exams testing intellectual capacities like cognition and problem-solving, to physical capacities like fitness, endurance and the like. The cadets were then assigned to their training officers accordingly.
In this particular year, a couple of the training officers were told that they had tested and found the best of the best, ‘the mother-shawarma’ of all cadet groups, showing great promise for future leadership roles in the Defence Force. Other training officers were then assigned ‘regular’ cadets, and everybody started training.
Fast-forward a year and lo and behold the group that showed remarkable signs of promise did indeed deliver, and significantly out-performed all other groups of cadets in both intellectually and physically-based exams.
There was just one catch: Continue reading