Thursday, June 29, 2006

On the LAWH-I-AQDAS (The Most Holy Tablet): Baha'u'llah's Tablet to the Christians

The entire tablet by Baha'u'llah which he directed to Christians, entitled LAWH-I-AQDAS (The Most Holy Tablet), is exceedingly beautiful and a favorite for many Baha'is. This text is available online via the Baha'i Reference Library. It is also available through the Prophecy Fulfilled website. Here is how the tablet concludes:

Give My remembrance to the one named Murád and say: `Blessed art thou, O Murád, inasmuch as thou didst cast away the promptings of thine own desire and hast followed Him Who is the Desire of all mankind.'

Say: Blessed the slumberer who is awakened by My Breeze.

Blessed the lifeless one who is quickened through My reviving breaths.

Blessed the eye that is solaced by gazing at My beauty.

Blessed the wayfarer who directeth his steps towards the Tabernacle of My glory and majesty.

Blessed the distressed one who seeketh refuge beneath the shadow of My canopy.

Blessed the sore athirst who hasteneth to the soft-flowing waters of My loving-kindness.

Blessed the insatiate soul who casteth away his selfish desires for love of Me and taketh his place at the banquet table which I have sent down from the heaven of divine bounty for My chosen ones.

Blessed the abased one who layeth fast hold on the cord of My glory; and the needy one who entereth beneath the shadow of the Tabernacle of My wealth.

Blessed the ignorant one who seeketh the fountain of My knowledge; and the heedless one who cleaveth to the cord of My remembrance.

Blessed the soul that hath been raised to life through My quickening breath and hath gained admittance into My heavenly Kingdom.

Blessed the man whom the sweet savours of reunion with Me have stirred and caused to draw nigh unto the Dayspring of My Revelation.

Blessed the ear that hath heard and the tongue that hath borne witness and the eye that hath seen and recognized the Lord Himself, in His great glory and majesty, invested with grandeur and dominion.

Blessed are they that have attained His presence.

Blessed the man who hath sought enlightenment from the Day-Star of My Word.

Blessed he who hath attired his head with the diadem of My love.

Blessed is he who hath heard of My grief and hath arisen to aid Me among My people.

Blessed is he who hath laid down his life in My path and hath borne manifold hardships for the sake of My Name.

Blessed the man who, assured of My Word, hath arisen from among the dead to celebrate My praise.

Blessed is he that hath been enraptured by My wondrous melodies and hath rent the veils asunder through the potency of My might.

Blessed is he who hath remained faithful to My Covenant, and whom the things of the world have not kept back from attaining My Court of holiness.

Blessed is the man who hath detached himself from all else but Me, hath soared in the atmosphere of My love, hath gained admittance into My Kingdom, gazed upon My realms of glory, quaffed the living waters of My bounty, hath drunk his fill from the heavenly river of My loving providence, acquainted himself with My Cause, apprehended that which I concealed within the treasury of My Words, and hath shone forth from the horizon of divine knowledge engaged in My praise and glorification. Verily, he is of Me. Upon him rest My mercy, My loving-kindness, My bounty and My glory.

Baha'u'llah, "Tablet to the Christians"
The Prophecy Fulfilled website carries "Apocalypse: An Exegesis of the Book of Revelation" by Robert Riggs" that includes discussion of the final chapters of the Biblical text, inluding Revelation 17:12-14, Revelation 19:11-16, and Revelation 19:19-21. Here is the discussion associated with Revelation 19:13.

And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God.

His 'vesture dipped in blood' alludes to the cloak of Joseph. In the Genesis story, the brothers of Joseph become jealous over a beautiful multicolored cloak given to him by their father Jacob. They hatch a plot to get rid of Joseph and throw him into a pit in the wilderness. In order to explain the disappearance of Joseph to their father, they soak the cloak in blood as evidence that he had been devoured by a wild beast. The Genesis story goes on to recount the eventual triumph of Joseph over his family in Egypt through the power bestowed upon him by pharaoh.

The story of Joseph is a prophecy of the sufferings of Baha'u'llah and his eventual triumph. As a result of the confiscation of his property, Baha'u'llah was left without even a cloak to wear. His loved ones pieced together a multicolored cloak made of remnants of other garments. The resulting garment was then, literally, dyed red.

Indeed, the sufferings sustained by Baha'u'llah are historic. Though born into a wealthy and powerful family (as was Lord Buddha), his property was confiscated, he was imprisoned in dungeons and jails, bound by massive chains, banished from place to place over a period of 40 years, was the target of numerous conspiracies and attempts on his life, was poisoned twice, and underwent the torture of the bastinado. "By the righteousness of God! The tribulations we have sustained are such that any pen that recounteth them cannot but be overwhelmed with anguish. No one of them that truly believe and uphold the unity of God can bear the burden of their recital. So great have been our sufferings that even the eyes of Our enemies have wept over Us, and beyond them those of every discerning person."

Robert Riggs, "Apocalypse: An Exegesis of the Book of Revelation," Prophecy Fulfilled

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

On Baha'i Expansion in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia: "News From the Front"

From jostua comes this humorous recollection of a planning meeting for intensive growth of the Baha'i communities in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia.

27 June 2006 @ 06:46 pm
News from the Front jostua
"Goodeventing, and welcome to another edition of 'News from the Front'. Tonight, we'd like to share with you a most exciting event which took place mere days ago!"

"That's right Frank, and just before we get started, I'd like to apologize on behalf of Frank and all of us here at 'News from the Front'. We seemed to have been experiencing an 1d10t error between the computer chair and the keyboard for the past few months. The problem is fixed now, however, and we're rearing to go!"

"Well said, Tom. Our story begins in the quiet little town of Velika Gorica, just south of Zagreb. A hurricane of spiritual activity descended upon the city, and at its eye was the humble home of ABm Josip."

"Not only spiritual, but international as well, Frank. Being a good central location, Velika Gorica housed a contingent of 15 souls from Slovenia, 8 from Bosnia, and 21 from Croatia. Of these 44 souls, 2 have yet to be born, 5 are from Canada, 3 from the US, and 2 from the UK. Along the way, several other friends dropped by to show their shining faces throughout the weekend."

"Why did this eclectic bunch of people join together, you might ask? Well Tom, the answer is simple...sorta. Under the expert hands of our beloved Dr. Sezgin, Councilor to Croatia and Bosnia, this international bunch organized the next 3 to 4 months of intensive teaching to be happening in their countries."

"This is exciting news, Frank, because each of these three countries is trying to form their own National Spiritual Assemble. While doing this, they're hoping to increase and strengthen the 3 Core Activities in their communities. This way, they will have strong, active NSA's with strong, active communities to guide the Faith through the last years of the Formative Age."

"No small task, Tom."

"You said it Frank. But these intrepid souls aren't alone. They have guidance from the Universal House of Justice. And, in fact, they spent a good portion of the weekend studying the message from the House relating to this next 5 year plan. They have a lot of information in their heads now, and are just bursting at the seams to let it all out. That's why this next phase of the MiniIPGs are so important. If these people didn't go out and teach, I fear their heads would explode from sheer exuberance."

"Rightly said, Tom. You are a man of insight. These homevisits are a wonderful way to delve deeper into the Writings with friends and family. We wish all three countries the best during these next few months. Put your faith in Baha'u'llah, and the doors to victory will stand open. Well, they'll at least get unlocked."

"This is Tom and Frank, from the news rooms of 'News from the Front', signing out."

jostua, a.k.a. ambiguwaste, "News from the Front," LiveJournal

On the New World Order: God's Plan or a Conspiracy Against God?

Baha'is see two basic processes in operation in the world, all part of God's Great Plan, a falling apart of an old world order and the emergence of the new, of disintegration and integration. Out-moded institutions and ideologies are being cast off as unworkable. Human collaboration on an international scale is occuring at rapidly increasing pace. Out of the ashes of the old emerges the new. Baha'is see this phenomenon as evidence that this is the Day of God, the time of fulfillment of religious prophecies of the past. The operation of God's Plan is mysterious but it's not a magic show. We are all actor's on God's stage, whether we acknowledge it or not. God's hand is seen in world events and in the creation of new international organizations and institutions to address various problems of the world. Not everyone shares the Baha'i view, however. Here is an expression of one perspective that is in direct contrast to the positive view inherent in the Baha'i Writings.

The New Age New World Order is a political, economic, religious global conquest that has happened through conspiracy, often hidden subversion, in every area of society, in every country, including Australia. The N.W.O. is a merger of all political ideologies, religions and philosophies across the planet in ways that are impossible to have been planned by any group or individual alone. The N.W.O. is living proof of the Bible prophecies and teachings, because the N.W.O. is not only the prophetic Word coming true before our eyes, it is obviously an evil spiritual conquest. Many unbelievers have come to Christ because of the New Age New World Order, because it proves the existence of a supernatural world of wickedness, and fearful, godless people have run to the Saviour because of their eyes being opened by the amazing events happening through the N.W.O.

Some of the main organizations which are front-groups for the N.W.O. are:
The United Nations;
The World Federalists;
World Goodwill;
The Club of Rome;
The World Council of Churches;
World Bank;
Trilateral Commission;
World Peace Groups;
World Environment Groups;
Lucis Trust;
The Quakers;
Parliament of World Religions;
National Government Leaders;
Liberal Protestant Denominations
The Vatican.
& Many, many more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On Baha'i Youth Projects: "I am proud to be his ibu anghat"

TERRACES OF YOUTH is a youth network/movement formed under the Sabah Baha'i Community. So far, it has over 25 members. The members of the Terraces of Youth meet on Friday evenings. - So reads the explanatory text on the Terraces of Youth website. Among the current activities of these Malaysian Baha'i youth who reside on the island of Borneo is making hospital visits. The following post describes the experience in the words of one of the youth.

I have been part of Ipoh Hospital’s In-Reach Programme for nearly six months, and it has been an enriching, fulfilling experience.

As a Baha’i, I live by the motto, “Work is worship, service is prayer” which also aptly sums up what volunteerism is about.

During that time, I have been working with Adam (not his real name), a 22-month-old abandoned child with Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy five days a week, feeding, bathing, stimulating through exercise and carrying him to provide human warmth.

The doctors, nurses (they call me Adam’s ibu angkat, meaning foster mother), and attendants have been helpful, supportive, and friendly.

The hours are often gruelling, and tempers can sometimes run short, what with the stiflingly hot weather, but the rewards are manifold.

Spastic Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy affects all four limbs and the trunk, often along with the muscles controlling the mouth and tongue.

Children with spastic quadriplegia often have mental retardation and other problems.
My Adam does not “know” me, but the rare smile and the occasional brief recognition are like precious gems to me.

He cannot sit up, roll over or even hold his head for long without support, so you can see what a smile means to me. I may smell of regurgitated milk and mashed bananas but I wear it like perfume because it means he is eating well.

Many people might scorn at the “low-class” work of a volunteer and I have often been at the receiving end of mothers who assume I am Adam’s useless mother who leaves her son alone at night. But the rewards are there.

For one thing, I am privileged to be able to work with the Neonatal Ward and Paediatric Rehabilitation Unit. There is really nothing like holding a newborn baby in your arms, or seeing a Cerebral Palsy child lift his head after weeks of stimulation.

And to be able to witness the parents’ acceptance, love and devotion they have for their special children – that’s priceless.

Where Adam is concerned, he wasn’t born at Ipoh Hospital. He was transferred from Muar Hospital a while back.

After seven months, he was placed in a home for the handicapped but after three months, he developed severe pneumonia.

He was readmitted to Ipoh Hospital on Dec 30, 2005. I have been helping to care for him since Jan 10 this year. Adam is a bit of a celebrity as everyone in the hospital knows him.

At 22 months, he weighs 5.445kg, just 1.5kg more, despite six months of patient feeding. But he is healthy now and that itself is a blessing.

Those of us who have been caring for this little boy have grown to love him and admire his fighting spirit. We dread the day when he will have to leave the hospital and return to the home for the handicapped. Until then, I am proud to be his ibu angkat.

Daphne Ling, "A Malaysian Baha'i youth and the baby she cares for," Terraces of Youth

The hospital visit is a collaborative effort of the Terraces of Youth and the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kota Kinabalu, the city indicated with a small red square on the map immediately above.

Friday, June 23, 2006

On Summer Nights in Kampala: The Sound of Drumming and Chanting

PriscaTanz. About Me: After finishing my first year of law school, I am spending the summer working for a human rights NGO in Uganda.

There are six of us living here together—a girl from Belgium who works at an NGO, a Dutch student who is taking a year off before university and teaching in a juvenile prison, a guy from India who works for a corporation, two American doctors—one is working for a year with children with HIV and the other is here for a month doing something similar—and me. I managed to get to sleep around 8:00, but at 11:00, I awoke to the sound of drumming and chanting outside my window. It was very beautiful, but it also made it impossible to get back to sleep. Plus, I thought I might be missing out on some fun. I finally decided to just get dressed and go out since I wasn’t sleeping. The power here runs in shifts with 24 hours on followed by 24 hours off, so about 12 folks were sitting out on the porch drumming and singing with tiki torches and candles for light.

Most of the visitors were Bahai students who are here for three months volunteering with the local temple. I know almost nothing about the Bahai faith and ended up having a pretty interesting conversation with two of the students—one from Greenland and one from Canada.

Caz, Monday, June 19, 2006, PriscaTanz's Xanga Site

On Mary Magdalene: References to Her in the Baha'i Writings

Caz of Carmelita online includes the following quotes from the Baha'i Writings that mention the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene in her post entitled "The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene and Europeans..."

After the martyrdom of Christ, to Whom be glory, the disciples were greatly disturbed and disheartened. Even Peter had denied Christ and tried to shun Him. It was a woman, Mary Magdalene, who confirmed the wavering disciples in their faith, saying, 'Was it the body of Christ or the reality of Christ that ye have seen crucified? Surely it was His body. His reality is everlasting and eternal; it hath neither beginning nor ending. Therefore, why are ye perplexed and discouraged? Christ always spoke of His being crucified.' Mary Magdalene was a mere villager, a peasant woman; yet she became the means of consolation and confirmation to the disciples of Christ. ('Abdu'l-Baha', The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 282)

Mary Magdalen was a peasant woman. She was without any name and fame or consequence. But her candle is, in the assemblage of the world, lighted till eternity. (Abdu'l-Baha,Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 385)

My hope is that each one of you may become as Mary Magdalen - for this woman was superior to all the men of her time and her reality is ever shining from the horizon of Christ. ('Abdu'l-Baha', Divine Philosophy, p. 50)

The humble peasant girl, Mary Magdalene, - to what splendor she attained! ('Abdu'l-Baha', Divine Philosophy, p. 57)

Caz, "The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene and Europeans..." Carmelita online

Thursday, June 22, 2006

On Truth: Absolutely Indefinable and Relatively Conceivable

Richard Schaut had an interesting way to illustrate the Baha'i concept of the relativity of truth using geometry, as covered in a previous Baha'i Views post. In the same vein Dr Misagh from Down Under uses physics to illustrate the same general principle on his blog Movingform.

Einstein is credited at being pretty clever, I’m sure you’d agree. What he proposed, in a phenomenal insight and moment of clarity, was the theory of relativity. E=mc2. Gotta give big Al props for that one. Not only does so much of our understanding of the physical universe centre on this law, it’s a pretty catchy little thing too. So short, so concise, so simple. So much do we respect big Al’s finding that we equate fuzzy unkempt grey hair with genius. Why do you think I got this do?

Okay you’re going to quiz night and you can invite anyone from history for your team. I bet rivalling Albert in popularity would be Isaac Newton. Where would we be without calculus (not the type on your teeth) and the laws of motion. Again, after all those years of mathematical analysis all it took was an apple falling to the ground for the universe to unravel itself before his eyes (or so legend will have you believe). Again, very simple, very concise and catchy. Here's a refresher:

  • Law 1: Something will stay still unless you shove it. Galileo said a similar thing.
  • Law 2: F=ma. Something will change its velocity when you shove it, and it will stay at that velocity unless something else gets in its way. This was a development of Aristotle’s F=mv.
  • Law 3: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

All true. Funny thing is, as physics looks out further to the endless caverns of space and deeper into the infinitely small sub-atomic, one thing becomes apparent: that not all observations can be explained by the same physical laws. In fact, the reason Einstein and Newton’s laws are so great is not that they are ultimately true in the absolute sense of the word, but that either one or the other can help explain most things we can observe most of the time. Sometimes they give different answers. But they are so useful and close so much of the time that we can use them as laws, rather than just hypotheses.

Some have tried to find alternative laws that hold universally true. In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur and his human-form alien friend search the universe in search of its answer. And in the end, in a delightful anti-climax, they find that the answer to life, existence and the universe is, in fact, “42.” Who knows, it could be true.

Is the fact that Einstein and Newton’s theories are not absolute make them untrue? I suggest not. They are some of the greatest truths humanity has found access to. This is where absolute and relative truth come in.

Bahá'u'lláh, Prophet-Founder of the Baha'i Faith, explains the concept of relativity in the Book of Certitude, a commentary on religious truth and progression: “Consider the sun. Were it to say now, "I am the sun of yesterday," it would speak the truth. And should it, bearing the sequence of time in mind, claim to be other than that sun, it still would speak the truth. In like manner, if it be said that all the days are but one and the same, it is correct and true. And if it be said, with respect to their particular names and designations, that they differ, that again is true. For though they are the same, yet one doth recognize in each a separate designation, a specific attribute, a particular character”.

We should try to leave the habit of dismissing one thing as false to authorise another as real. Truth is one and our ways of understanding it, science and religion included, should open our minds to the infinite. The Baha'i Faith teaches us to see them both as progressive and relative, and a balance to each other. If we look at an object from one perspective, we fail to see its full form.

Truth is, absolutely indefinable and relatively conceivable.

Misagh Habibi, "The Relativity of Truth," Movingfrom, A blog of musings and newsings

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On God: "You are loved and so are they"

Already familiar to regular readers of this blog, given the meaty excerpts from her posts that have been reposted here, Jess continues in her pursuit of personal truth, as she reports on Rambles, Reviews and Rants:

...for me, this whole process of trying to figure out religion, what I actually have faith in and why I believe what I believe became clear to me last night while watching... two dramatic movies. Religion gives humans comfort that they are important enough to still exist once they die. I do believe in God and I do believe that I am a spiritual being. Religion allows humans to process and have the ability to articulate what they think their purpose on Earth is and what they believe is going to happen to them once they die. It is all on such a grand scale that I cannot really process those big ideas without a tangible God and a tangible afterlife.

I wouldn't dare to presume to suggest that I know what God is, how He exists and what His precise role in humanity is. I do believe that He knows humanity's weaknesses and strengths and our intelligence and spiritual capabilities because He created us. He knows us and He provided guideposts for humanity along the way in the form of prophets. Because of these prophets religions formed. And in my opinion that is where things got off track. Every human being wants to be important in God's eyes and have assurance of a place in the afterlife (whatever that is). Because death is a huge unknown and we are taught that the end of this life will lead to a spiritual life with God, practitioners of each religion have become over zealous in their belief systems. They need the assurance that they are right and they will know and be with God when they die. It is easier to feel assured of your place in the grand scheme of things if you believe there is only one path and you are on it. It takes a lot of the hard questions away and allows peace of mind.

At this time I believe that all the prophets of God had divine messages. Choosing to only hear the message of one prophet gives you only a few pieces of a giant, unsolvable jigsaw puzzle. The more messages you hear the more pieces you gain and the more understanding you will possess. I will never fully comprehend God though I would like to try and hear the messages that He has sent to humanity. As I have read and studied various religions over the past few months I have found valuable nuggets of truth in everything that I have read.

I believe that Moses, Abraham, Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha and Baha'u'llah were all divine prophets from God. I'm sure there are many others who I just haven't discovered yet. If I am lucky enough I will be able to study what each prophet came to teach humanity. Instead of focusing on who is right and who is wrong the focus should be on how little time we have to learn all the things God has given to us to be able to have a better understanding of Him. I have no idea what the afterlife holds for me. I believe that I will continue to exist and that I will be closer to God in whatever incarnation I become next if I am able to learn enough while I am here. My job on Earth isn't to try and save anyone else or to lead them in the right direction towards God- I am busy enough trying to get my own self ready to be worthy of Him. It is my job to be kind, considerate, loving, loyal, selfless, responsible, generous, careful and reliable to all those who are a part of my life. And it is my job to try and help someone who is less fortunate than me have a more prosperous life so they too can find their own way to God.

In one of my very favorite children's books by Douglas Wood, "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth", a beautiful truth falls from the sky. When it lands on Earth it breaks. Some people find part of the broken truth and it reads, "You are Loved". They are so enamored with their beautiful truth that they are satisfied with the piece that they have and don't bother looking for the other half. After many, many years of reverance of the broken truth a little girl strikes out on her own and searches out a wise old turtle to find the missing part of humanity's beautiful broken truth. Old turtle gives her the missing piece and when she puts the two pieces of the truth together it reads, "You are Loved and So are They."

Jess, "Tangential Thoughts," Rambles, Reviews and Rants

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On Open Mic Night At the Baha'i Center: "so friendly and rowdy, but in a good way"

I don't know how many Baha'i Centers in the world have an open mic night to which a performer can come and do his stuff, but probably more than one. Here is Justin's experience:

whelp, I'm back from another open mic! Two in two days, I'm proud of myself. The first one was at a Baha'i center, and man! What an open mic that was. The people there were so friendly and rowdy, but in a good way. The room itself was so warm and inviting. It had that real bohemian feel, what with the carpets lining the walls, candles everywhere, and artsy looking couches. Long story short, one of the best open mics I've played at, plus the other people there were real talented too. What was funny was that when I was playing, (I played Plain Jane that night), people were whooping and hollering and having a good time, but then when I went into the bridge, where I sing the 'take the trees and take the sky...', someone shouted out, 'yea! Break it down!'...and I couldn't stop smiling.

Jenton, "The big two oh," Jenton's Ramblings, MySpace

On the Covenant of Baha'u'llah: Ensuring the Unity of the Baha'i Community

"Bahá’ís believe that the distinctive unity of the Bahá’í Faith stems from a promise from God to humanity that assures His continuing guidance after the passing of Bahá’u’lláh. This promise is referred to as the Covenant." So begins the section on "The Covenant of Baha'u'llah" on baha', the Baha'i website. Baha'is remain unified precisely because of their obediance to this Convenant. Here is an excerpt from another article on the same site:

The Bahá'í Faith is thus the first religion in history that has survived its critical first century with its unity firmly established. "Were it not for the protecting power of the Covenant to guard the impregnable fort of the Cause of God," said `Abdu'l-Bahá, "there would arise among the Bahá'ís, in one day, a thousand different sects as was the case in former ages."
5 But in this Revelation, Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant is the magnet that draws the hearts of its followers together.

The Centre for the Study of the Texts, Haifa
While issues of succession and leadership within the Bahá'í Faith are addressed by Bahá'u'lláh in His Covenant, its significance is far more encompassing. As He wrote, "The aim of this Wronged One in sustaining woes and tribulations, in revealing the Holy Verses and in demonstrating proofs hath been naught but to quench the flame of hate and enmity, that the horizon of the hearts of men may be illumined with the light of concord and attain real peace and tranquillity."

Elaborating this theme, Bahá'u'lláh exhorted the people of the world to behave in a manner that will elevate their station; to "hold fast to the fear of God and firmly adhere to what is right"; to refrain from engaging in "slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness"; to "hold fast to righteousness and truth"; to recognize that the "religion of God is for love and unity" and not to be made the "cause of enmity or dissension"; to respect those who have been invested with the power to rule or govern, and to "aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice"; "to serve all nations and to strive for the betterment of the world."

"Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book," Bahá'u'lláh asserted, emphasizing the the importance of harmony in human relationships. And again He addressed these words to His followers: "O Servants! Let not the means of order be made the cause of confusion and the instrument of union an occasion for discord."

"The Covenant of Baha'u'llah," The Baha'is: The International Website of the Baha'i Faith

The International Teaching Centre, Haifa

Other links regarding the Covenant of Baha'u'llah:

The Protection of Diversity in the Bahá'í Community
The keynote of the Bahá'í approach to social organization is not uniformity, but unity in diversity. Central to the Bahá'í Faith is a system of teachings and institutions that assure freedom of individual opinion, that protect individual rights irrespective of race, color, religion, nationality, class, or attitude toward the Faith, and that encourage the full participation of minorities in the life of the Bahá'í community.
More >
From the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Selections from the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.
More >
Covenant and the Foundations of Civil Society
An exploration of the religious origins of the organizing principles of civil society, their secularization in the modern era, and the prospect of an inclusive global moral order based on the enduring concept of covenant.
More >
Message of the Universal House of Justice
Description of the Message of the UHJ to the NY Congress in 1992.
More >
Hands of the Cause of God
An emphasis on group leadership, as opposed to individual power, runs throughout the Bahá'í administrative system. Individuals do not set policy or make rules in Bahá'í institutions—Spiritual Assemblies make the decisions, although they may delegate specific executive responsibilities.
More >
The Book of the Covenant
Description of the Book of the Covenant
More >

Monday, June 19, 2006

On Taking a Stand Against Substance Abuse and Depression: The Baha'i Faith Gets Her Through the Day

Here is an excerpt from another moving post by a Baha'i who has taken a stand against substance abuse and depression:

When I found the Baha'i faith, that saved my life.... You can read the article I wrote for a Baha'i youth publication called Fertile Field. Baha'i is the ONLY thing that keeps me sober.

I've been doing better than I ever had in my life right now. I'm still picking up all those pieces. I am in therapy. I just got put on medication.

This blog only shows you the very tip of the iceberg of all I have been through. I have no idea how I have held up throughout the years. Nowadays the Baha'i Faith is what gets me through the day. It is the most important thing in my life.

Renee, "Sometimes I am amazed that I am still here," MySpace

From Renee's "About Me": I try to treat people how I want to be treated. I also keep in mind that behind every text that is written on, there is a real person with real feelings that can be hurt. I try not to be a source of that hurt.

On Catholic to Baha'i: "sumbody 'spain that to me, please"

OK, I thought this posting was too irreverent and a little nuts at first, but now I think I understand. The blogger is in the midst of an unusual (for most of us) internship, she works at the elderly, and her husband has just become a Baha'i.

Granted, between working with the dead and going to Chicken Hell and waiting on Senior citizens knowing that they may be on the table in the morning, then having my husband spring his religious conversion on me, (Catholic to Baha'i, sumbody 'splain that to me, please) I'm nuts right now. If anyone has any insight on Baha'i that I don't know, please inform, because it's got my head spinning. Of course, thanks to my current work, I think drugs are involved. Aren't they always? I know it was originally derived from Islam, but beyond that, I don't know the actual practice. It's like saying Catholicism is derived from Paganism, it was, but they are completely different in actual practice.

Frankfort, Kentucky, United States
I am currently doing a summer internship at the state medical examiners' office where I will be learning about techniques used in analyzing blood and urine samples. This is my journal about my job, to be used in a future paper for my senior seminar project at KSU in the fall.
9: autopsies, biology education, chemistry education, crossing jordan, gas chromatography, mass spec, microbiology, organic chemistry, thin-layer chromatography.

Friday, June 16, 2006

On Baha'i Marriage: In Honor of Megan and Taraz

Well, here's my son Taraz and his fiance Megan. I don't put much that is "about-me" personal in this blog, but these two souls who are so dear to me have gotten consent to marry. Read my wife's blog for the wonderful details. In honor of the occasion of their engagement, here's text of a blessed "leaflet" on the subject of marriage.

Bahá'ís take marriage very seriously, as they believe it is intended to be a spiritual relationship which will last for eternity.

"The true marriage of Bahá'ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God."

It is also a physical relationship and a friendship. A successful marriage should go a long way towards ensuring the health and happiness of husband and wife.

In order to achieve a happy and permanent union, first of all great care needs to be taken in approaching marriage in the right way.

Choosing a Partner
Bahá'u'lláh encouraged everyone to marry. He described marriage as a "fortress for well-being", the normal and healthy state for adults, where sexual feelings can be safely expressed in a spirit of love. Bahá'ís are expected to be completely chaste before marriage and totally faithful within marriage.

According to Bahá'í belief, the couple must be free to choose one another, and the parents have no right to interfere or to "arrange" a marriage.

The couple: "must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity..."

When the couple have made their choice they must then obtain their parents' approval before they can marry. This ensures that they will have the support of both of their families, particularly helpful in time of trouble. It preserves the unity of the family, for unity and harmony are the keynotes of Bahá'í life and Bahá'í teachings. It also helps to ensure that their choice is the right one. The parents must do all they can to get to know the proposed partner well enough to see if the couple are suited and the marriage is likely to be a success. They should realise that they must never refuse permission simply because of differences of, for instance, race, religion or background. When the parents give their wholehearted support to a marriage, it has a much greater chance of success.

The Marriage Ceremony
Ideally, once approval has been given, the marriage should take place within 3 months. The Bahá'í marriage ceremony itself is very simple. All that is required is that the bride and groom each say, in front of witnesses, "We will all, verily, abide by the will of God". Everything else is left to the couple's choice and can reflect the culture of the area or of the participants. Usually the couple will choose prayers and readings and will have their friends and relatives sharing the ceremony. In some countries it is necessary to have a civil ceremony first, in others the Bahá'í wedding is accepted as a legal ceremony. If a Bahá'í marries someone of another religion, then usually ceremonies will be performed in both religions.

Making A Marriage Work
"Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart."

The couple must learn to live together in harmony, and to work together as a team. They should share their concerns and the events of their lives and always show affection to one another:

"Nourish continually the tree of your union."
Neither has the right to impose their wishes on the other:

"There are, therefore, times when a wife should defer to her husband, and times when a husband should defer to his wife, but neither should ever unjustly dominate the other."
The Bahá'í teachings on the equality of men and women must be put into practice in the home.

They must be absolutely faithful and loyal to each other, spiritually as well as physically.
Most importantly, husband and wife should pray together, especially when they face problems or difficulties.

"The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul!"

Apart from the spiritual companionship already described, the main purpose of marriage is the rearing of children. This is a very important and difficult task and a great responsibility. It can place a great strain on the marital relationship if the couple have not prepared themselves for this. Husband and wife should study the guidance in the Bahá'í writings on the raising of children. They should discuss their aims and objectives and ensure that they both treat the children in the same way.

Solving Problems
"Lay the foundations of your affections in the very centre of your spiritual being."

Differences of race, religion and culture should not be allowed to become a problem. Bahá'ís revere the Founders of each of the world's religions and cherish the different cultures of the world. Unity in diversity is a keynote theme in the Bahá'í Faith and gives beauty to a marriage and enriches the couple.

When problems arise or decisions need to be made, the couple should pray and then consult together as to the solutions. Consultation is one of the most important laws of the Bahá'í Faith. When practised in a spirit of prayer, solutions will be found much more easily.
DivorceMarriage is considered such an important bond that, although divorce is allowed between Bahá'ís, it is to be avoided if at all possible. It should only be contemplated if the couple develop a real dislike for one another.

"The foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife."
If the couple have differences which they cannot solve between themselves, their parents and families will try to help. They should also turn to their Local Bahá'í Assembly for advice and guidance. They may also wish to seek professional advice. However, if the couple reach the point where they feel that they can no longer live together, they must announce their intention to divorce and then live apart for one year. During this year all efforts will be made to help the couple to be reconciled. But, if all attempts fail, at the end of the year the marriage will be ended.

A Happy Marriage
"The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven."

Published by the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Warwick.
Approved by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom,27 Rutland Gate, LONDON SW7 1PD.
All quotations are from the Bahá'í writings.

On the Baha'i Media Bank: A Breath-taking Selection

"I'm sitting on top of the world..."
Spectacular views greeted a group of participants  ...
Spectacular views greeted a group of participants in this month's Norwegian Bahá’í summer school who took part in a 10-hour hike across the Besseggen mountain range. Another kind of Norwegian experience was also available at the summer school -- an interactive production of the play "Peer Gynt" by Henrik Ibsen. More than 430 Bahá’ís from 12 countries attended the summer school. The program involved workshops, lectures, prayer, meditation, music, and even a wedding. Some of the themes of the sessions were "a just world order," " the path of divine love," "social and economic development projects," "consultation," and “health and healing." The keynote speakers were former member of the Universal House of Justice Mr. Ali Nakhjavani and his wife, author Violette Nakhjavani.
ID #: 7384
Photo Date: 2005-07-27
Location: Norway
View media in its original context:
the Bahá’í Media Bank, a free interactive online service operated and owned by the Bahá’í International Community.