Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On the Hallowed Beauty of the Beloved: Open the other eye

On After the Holy Day: Pictures of Abdu'l-Baha

More photos of Abdu'l-Baha here. -gw
Lisa shared this with friends in the cluster, undoubtedly with the recent holy day in mind. -gw

 this was said at Abdu'l-Baha's funeral by the Muslim orator, Yúsuf al-Khatib. Wow.

"O concourse of Arabians and Persians! Whom are ye bewailing? Is it he who but yesterday was great in his life and is today in his death greater still? Shed no tears for the one that hath departed to the world of Eternity, but weep over the passing of Virtue and Wisdom, of Knowledge and Generosity. Lament for yourselves, for yours is the loss, whilst he, your lost one, is but a revered Wayfarer, stepping from your mortal world into the everlasting Home. Weep one hour for the sake of him who, for well nigh eighty years, hath wept for you! Look to your right, look to your left, look East and look West and behold, what glory and greatness have vanished! What a pillar of peace hath crumbled! What eloquent lips are hushed! Alas! In this tribulation there is no heart but aches with anguish, no eye but is filled with tears. Woe unto the poor, for lo! goodness hath departed from them, woe unto the orphans, for their loving father is no more with them! Could the life of Sir `Abdu'l-Bahá `Abbas have been redeemed by the sacrifices of many a precious soul, they of a certainty would gladly have offered up their lives for his life. But Fate hath otherwise ordained. Every destiny is predetermined and none can change the Divine Decree. What am I to set forth the achievements of this leader of mankind? They are too glorious to be praised, too many to recount. Suffice it to say, that he has left in every heart the most profound impression, on every tongue most wondrous praise. And he that leaveth a memory so lovely, so imperishable, he, indeed, is not dead. Be solaced then, O ye people of Baha! Endure and be patient; for no man, be he of the East or of the West, can ever comfort you, nay he himself is even in greater need of consolation."

   L I S A  

When the power of love overcomes
the love of power the world will
know peace. 

Jimi Hendrix 

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Monday, November 28, 2011

On Life Is a Beach: And dog is my copilot

Some will say, life is a beach. Don't believe them! It's not that bad. This is not just a dog eat dog -- or dog chase bird -- world. It's a much more spiritual place than that, that dogs are a part of, doing what dogs do.  -gw

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

On Channeling on Baha'i Views: Even warriors

We have warriors on this blog. Some of them spiritually old and mighty. Others pretty darn new.
Go deep into the content of Baha'i Views by visiting one of its many channels.
The Baha'i Views search function is a wonderful thing. Type in your keywords into the box on the sidebar. Hit enter. Wait a not interminable time. You got your channel. -gw

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Friday, November 25, 2011

On My Brother at Thanksgiving: A time for reflection, repair & rejuvenation

Getting to the heart and soul of Thanksgiving
My brother spent his first Thanksgiving without his wife Diane. Her sister Pat invited him over. Her home is lovely, a California oasis,  and Thanksgiving, the most Baha'i-like of the national holidays, a time for reflection, repair, and rejuvenation.

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On a World Increasingly Ungovernable: Like the weather, ominous in its extremes


  • An authoritarian prime minister of a country once dominant on the world stage is booed by the crowd at a national mixed martial arts fight. His country is shrinking, due to emigration by its most educated and mobile and a death rate significantly higher than its birth rate.
  • In another country the focus of a war for most of a decade, grievous crimes against women are rarely prosecuted.
  • In this country... well, there is a lot of disturbing news to be read about problems of governance, cut-backs, and you name it.
Our local newspaper is smaller, but I'm sure its website is bigger -- I just haven't gotten in the habit of going over to it. Despite fewer articles in the hard copy edition, the trend is clear. "the world is becoming increasingly ungovernable," and, like the weather, ominous in its extremes.
...progress is achieved through the development of three participants—the individual, the institutions, and the community. Throughout human history, interactions among these three have been fraught with difficulties at every turn, with the individual clamouring for freedom, the institution demanding submission, and the community claiming precedence. Every society has defined, in one way or another, the relationships that bind the three, giving rise to periods of stability, interwoven with turmoil. Today, in this age of transition, as humanity struggles to attain its collective maturity, such relationships—nay, the very conception of the individual, of social institutions, and of the community—continue to be assailed by crises too numerous to count. The worldwide crisis of authority provides proof enough. So grievous have been its abuses, and so deep the suspicion and resentment it now arouses, that the world is becoming increasingly ungovernable—a situation made all the more perilous by the weakening of community ties.
Universal House of Justice, 28 December 2010

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

On Brokenhearted People: Let it be

Lisa's music recommendations. -gw
And when the brokenhearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
I've heard the song so many times that I don't even hear the words, but there they are. Baha'u'llah came for the brokenhearted people. -gw
Indeed, let it be this generation that inaugurates this glorious stage in the evolution of social life on the planet
Let it be seen that you are filled with universal love.
And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality, social and political progress here or anywhere will not be possible….
Let your hearts be filled with the great love of God, let it be felt by all; for every man is a servant of God, and all are entitled to a share of the Divine Bounty.
As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized, that the reality of the mystery of the Immaculacy of the Virgin Mary is confessed, and the primacy of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, is upheld and defended. The Founder of the Christian Faith is designated by Bahá’u’lláh as the “Spirit of God,” is proclaimed as the One Who “appeared out of the breath of the Holy Ghost,” and is even extolled as the “Essence of the Spirit.”
Let it be known, however, that none of these doctors and divines to whom we have referred was invested with the rank and dignity of leadership. For well-known and influential leaders of religion, who occupy the seats of authority and exercise the functions of leadership, can in no wise bear allegiance to the Revealer of truth, except whomsoever thy Lord willeth.

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On Russ Garcia's Passing: KC Porter's remembrance

KC Porter's testimony on Facebook to Russ Garcia who recently died. -gw

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

On Traversing the Elfin Forest: Content like birds

The terrain is familiar, a tidal estuary, which lots of birdlife. It isn't Washington, but California's Morro Bay. The difference is, they have Elfin's there, we don't in our state. -gw
Content, like the birds, they give thanks for a handful of seeds, and the song of their wisdom dazzles the minds of the world’s most wise….

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On Flickr's Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie Passes the 1,000,000 Mark: Cup of tea photo as a source of wonder

Sometime during the night our account on Flickr, Baha'i Views / Flitzy Phoebie, passed the million mark in all time views. More than a million times people came to view our photos and videos, our photostream, our sets, and our collections. At this moment there are 36,323 items up. The photostream has been viewed 249,560 times, individual photos and videos 480,512 times, sets 268,675 times, and collections 1,842 times.  The most viewed photo of all time is still Basa Swai Fillets with Veggies. The top viewed photo today is of Dr Stanton walking back to his seat after getting tea at the Peninsulas Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation group meeting last week.
Why is that seemingly mundane human activities as getting a cup of tea are such a source of wonder that we choose to spend time lingering on the image? -gw

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On A Season Starts: My motivation

A new season started for me on Sunday. I had the opportunity to take my first photos and videos of what will become the Tacoma Invaders 2012 team. They had their first official practices Saturday and Sunday. A day late and dollar short, I made it to the Sunday practice, coming over with Coach Matt. I can't tell you how much fun it is to try to capture the energy and the joy of these guys playing the game that is so dear to them all. Taking photos is my service.
I just know that among these athletes are some who interested in "contributing to the betterment of society" and "commencing on a path of service to humanity,"  those who want "to take charge of [their] own spiritual, social and intellectual development." I invite my firends, both old and newly made, to engage in supporting the development of "meetings that strengthen the devotional character of the community; classes that nurture the tender hearts and minds of children; groups that channel the surging energies of junior youth; [and] circles of study, open to all that, that enable people of varied backgrounds to advance on equal footing" (quotes from the Ridvan 2010 message from the Universal House of Justice). -gw

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On Where Meat Comes From: All beings partake of Thy care and loving-kindness

If you had to kill and butcher the turkey, would you eat it? Before Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment group, Lisa described how she had earlier in the day prepared a Thanksgiving turkey on her kitchen table, one that had been free range-raised on a farm in the area, had been humanely killed there, and brought by Lisa for butchering at home. She had help. Two Cambodian-born ladies who live in the Salishan neighborhood were experts with a kitchen knife, helping Lisa prepare the meat for her Thanksgiving feast. -  gw 
Lord! Pitiful are we, grant us Thy favor; poor, bestow upon us a share from the ocean of Thy wealth; needy, do Thou satisfy us; abased, give us Thy glory. The fowls of the air and the beasts of the field receive their meat each day from Thee, and all beings partake of Thy care and loving-kindness.
Deprive not this feeble one of Thy wondrous grace and vouchsafe by Thy might unto this helpless soul Thy bounty.
Give us our daily bread, and grant Thine increase in the necessities of life, that we may be dependent on none other but Thee, may commune wholly with Thee, may walk in Thy ways and declare Thy mysteries. Thou art the Almighty and the Loving and the Provider of all mankind.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

On Prayers, Stories & Waffles: Pearl & Arlene beamed

Sunday the sun shone brightly in the south-facing windows at Tim and Deb's where the friends gathered for prayers, food and fellowship. It was great to meet Foad's wife Kimmie for the first time, who is participating in a fabulous Ruhi Book 1 study circle tutored by Tim & Deb's oldest, Isaac. It was great seeing Gary. I loved Sonya's poem. Foad's mother is a dear. Pearl and Arlene beamed. Tim could make even a fractured fairy tale sound spiritual, although the story we heard was no mere tale. Deb shared two new Ruhi songs. Cornelia radiated love. Bonita was  rapt in quiet conversations. Foad held his sweet baby. Get the picture? -gw

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

On We Go Behind the Curtain: From prayer and reflection

Jamie goes behind the curtain a lot. Experiencing all of the emotions, he finds beauty in abstractions. -gw
“The Báb was heart-broken,” His amanuensis, Siyyid Husayn-i-’Aziz, subsequently related, “at the receipt of this unexpected intelligence. He was crushed with grief, a grief that stilled His voice and silenced His pen. For nine days He refused to meet any of His friends. I myself, though His close and constant attendant, was refused admittance. Whatever meat or drink we offered Him, He was disinclined to touch. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and expressions of anguish dropped unceasingly from His lips. I could hear Him, from behind the curtain, give vent to His feelings of sadness as He communed, in the privacy of His cell, with His Beloved. I attempted to jot down the effusions of His sorrow as they poured forth from His wounded heart."

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On ADD 200 Years From Now: You would never be called someone with a disorder.

They do respond to context, and they do respond to medication, but the sad thing is they get labeled with a disorder instead of with a temperamental variation that doesn't match the absolutely sick environment we're having people grow [up] in. "You gotta go there, so you'll take this pill." That's what I tell people. Whenever I prescribe medication for ADD, I say, "Look, if you were 200 years from now, you would never be called someone with a disorder. You'd be mentored by somebody, and you'd be learning, you know, by example. And that would be all fine. You wouldn't be sitting in a classroom until you are 18 years of age, for God's sake, sitting on your butt. You just wouldn't. And no one would think you had a disorder."
I was only able to attend two hours of a webinar offered on campus at Kitsap Mental Health Service. Anita said I would enjoy every minute of it. She was right. Dan Siegel's presentation offered many insights as cutting to the quick as this one on Attention Deficit Disorder. He was in a section of the day-long training that addressed temperament, the biological differences -- the hard-wiring -- that we enter the world wtth. -gw

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

On Matt, Lisa & Joe Discuss a Theme of Spiritual Import: A program that develops the potentialities of junior youth

When Matt and his 13 year-old daughter Jessica came over for Tacoma's Birth of Baha'u'llah Holy Day commemoration, he sat down with Lisa and Joe and "entered into purposeful discussion on [a theme] of spiritual import," to quote from the Universal House of Justice Ridvan 2010 letter (19th paragraph), specifically, about "a program that instills in junior youth the sense of a two-fold moral purpose, to develop their inherent potentialities and to contribute to the transformation of society." -gw


Friday, November 18, 2011

On the Brand Baha'i: Through pure and goodly deeds

MANA Reflections on the Life of the Spirit
Holy words and pure and goodly deeds,
holy words and pure and goodly deeds
Beware, O people of Baha,
lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ
whose words differ
whose words differ from their deeds.
The betterment of the world can be accomplished
through pure and goodly deeds,
through commendable and seemly conduct  X2
Beware, O people of Baha,
lest ye walk in the ways of them
whose words differ from their deeds  X  2
Holy words and pure and goodly deeds
ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory  X  2
O Son of Being! Bring thyself to account each day
ere thou art summoned to a reckoning 
O Son of Being! …
There it is, on the first track of the first album by Mana, the famous quote from the Baha'i Writings about the importance of our words and deeds matching up.
Baha'is have a responsibility to maintain the standards of the Faith. The world is watching. We are instructed to take ourselves into account each day. Lisa and Joe reflect with candor and humility on the reality of being known as a Baha'i. -gw 

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Friday, November 11, 2011

On Volcanic Peaks in California, Washington and Iran: Sisters of one planet

I learned a new word when I was in California: morro, a volcanic plug.

The Nine Sisters or the Morros are a chain of nine volcanic peaks and hills between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo, California. They are popular with photographers and rock climbers. Their volcanic origin makes them of significant geological interest. They support a wide variety of plant, animal, and bird life. Two of the peaks are in Morro Bay State Park.

The peaks were created over 20,000,000 years ago as volcanic plugs of magma which welled up and solidified inside softer rock which has since been eroded.

Volcanic peaks are a big deal in Washington State, of course. My wife and I viewed two of them from the air coming back from California.
Question. Where is the highest volcanic peak in Asia and what is it's name? Answer: Iran, Mount Damavand in Mazindaran Province. -gw

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On Teaching Collectively As One Soul in One Body: Have we eyes to see that love is gathering?

Music guru Lisa's recommendation of the day: Collective Soul (nice name for a group, huh!), and "The World I Know." -gw

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On in Rotary As in Life: Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtures

My brother is a member of Rotary International. He hasn't missed a meeting in years. Rotary fosters good habits, among them truthfulness. Nabilinho has a memorable song about that virture. -gw

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

On the Expansion of Our Religious Universe: But it's still one

My brother has a telescope.
Up on the wall of my brother's garage is a National Geographic map,"The Heavens."
One section of the descriptive copy opens with this line.
Our galaxy was thought to be the entire unverse until the early 20th Century. Today we know it is only one of billions of galaxies.
How many other situations have there been were we thought there was only one of something, but we discovered there were many more? Over the past century and a half people have been discovered that there are more religious traditions than the one they grew up with. The world is much bigger, religiously speaking, if we think of all of the traditions that are available for us to explote now. Our Bible is bigger. It's a World Bible now. Some chapters are familiar to us, but others may not be. Our spiritual universe is much bigger now than it was for our forefathers. But it's still one universe. -gw

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

On Immigration Reformed: By laws that keep workers from working

Unemployment is high, yet there are jobs that go unfilled. Like how about all the pickers needed to harvest Washington apples right now? The governor has enlisted the aid of a little more than 100 prisoners to help pick before frost hits. A drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. The same situation is true on the Central California Coast where the pictures above were taken. Pickers are needed, but don't show up for fear of being deported. My wife said, we need a world with no borders. Is that too utopian? Baha'u'llah affirmed that such a world already exists. Humankind simply hasn't caught on yet.
My cousins have apple orchards in Michigan. I wonder how they're doing with the new laws and regulations? -gw

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Monday, November 07, 2011

On the Shuttle to the Airport: There is nothing like a child

It was early, cold, sun just beginning to peak through. The van was parked. We had gotten on the shuttle for the short ride over to the terminal, and then ... There is nothing like a child to brighten the day. –gw
Christ has addressed the world, saying, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”—that is, men must become pure in heart to know God. The teachings have had great effect. Spiritual souls! Tender souls! The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen.

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On the Influence of Birth Order: The youngest child

I was a youngest child. Was I spoiled? I think that’s the wrong question. Too pejorative. But as anyone who grew up with at least one sibling, there is a lot to contemplate when it comes to birth order. Why am I the way I am when my brother/sister is the say he/she is?
I was the planned baby, a true baby-boomer born after the war, three weeks before the family moved to the house on Main Street in Downers Grove where I spent the first 18 years of my life. Yes, I went to college, but it took me two decades before I found a fitting career. I’m a late bloomer, but better late than never.
I have five children, a stepdaughter, three sons and a daughter. Each child is so different from the next, birth order influenced, most definately. It’s probably not helpful to ask, who had it better? But I can certainly identify with the challenges of my youngest. I had them, too. -gw
Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children for they are all my children.
“The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912”, 2nd. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 52–54 [147]

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

On Dance Hybrids: No folly

Pat is Diane's older sister and at 80 dances up a storm at the Follies with a group of other octogenarians on California's Central Coast. They dance for charity and have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for fighting Parkinson's Disease, which Diane suffered from. Pat always wanted to dance, and now she finally gets to do it.
Speaking of dance, Taraz in Denver has been uploading lots of dance videos to his Youtube channel Tarazatfilms. This one is a synchronized belly dance-hybrid.  It's a new day, no folly. Juxtaposition/synchronization/hybridization is what this new world we live in is all about.  See: "Unity the Easy Way" by Kathleen Kettler Lehman.  -gw

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On Birds Are Beautiful: In formation

Birds area beautiful. In formation even more so. Even if they're starlings. -gw
This is the stage which the world is now approaching, the stage of world unity, which, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá assures us, will, in this century, be securely established. “The Tongue of Grandeur,” Bahá’u’lláh Himself affirms, “hath … in the Day of His Manifestation proclaimed: ‘It is not his to boast who loveth his country, but it is his who loveth the world.’” “Through the power,” He adds, “released by these exalted words He hath lent a fresh impulse, and set a new direction, to the birds of men’s hearts, and hath obliterated every trace of restriction and limitation from God’s Holy Book.”

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On Commemoration of a Life: Release for Diane

Friends and family, including Bonita and I, attended a commemoration of the life of my brother Dick's wife Diane who recently passed to the next world at the age of 75 after five especially difficult years of illness. -gw
At first it is very difficult to welcome death, but after attaining its new condition the soul is grateful, for it has been released from the bondage of the limited to enjoy the liberties of the unlimited.

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On No Better Mother on Earth: A remembrance

Brent's music was so apropos to the evening. -gw
The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development…

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On Even Light Drinking: Studies and the law

There are several places in the world where alcohol consumption is a part of the local culture yet people live a long time. There have been so many scientific studies done with seemingly conflicting results. Ultimately, Baha'is avoid drinking alcohol, not because it's unhealthy, but because that is one of the laws of Baha'u'llah.
Then Anna continues:
Anna's presentation, Ruhi Resources

Although this does not affect us much at our age, you should also know that Bahá’u’lláh prohibits the drinking of alcohol and, of course, substance abuse. Drinking alcohol is really one of the greatest social ills that exists today in the world. It is one of the most common causes of violence and the ruin of healthy family life. To tell you the truth, I have never understood why people would take something that interferes with their minds and makes them lose their  ability to think clearly. Drinking makes people capable of acting in shameful ways, when we have actually been created noble.

Anna's presentation in Book 6 of the Ruhi Institute

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