Tehran, Iran, the Birthplace of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith. (Photo taken by Effie Baker in 1930. Courtesy: Baha’i Media Bank)
194 years ago, on 12 November 1817 in Tehran, Baha’u’llah was born.
As followers of Baha’u’llah’s faith, we are familiar with the profound wisdom of His writings and the dramatic events of His life. But there is a mystery that remains around His early years.
This is true of all other Manifestations of God too. I often marvel at the images of “baby Jesus” that we see in the ubiquitous nativity scenes every Christmas. It’s difficult to imagine that the Manifestations of God, who revealed teachings that revitalised entire human civilizations and who suffered the greatest tribulations while demonstrating the qualities of God, were once children!
In times of difficulty, it is only natural that we turn to our closet friends and loved ones for support.
They lovingly listen as you talk endlessly about the same thing. They remain patient and kind with you as you struggle to work through your thoughts and emotions, regardless of how ridiculous some of the things you are saying might be. They let you cry on their shoulder without commenting on the tear splotches and mascara stains you leave on their shirt. They give you amazing advice – with a wisdom that comes from knowing you inside-out, and an honesty that comes from wanting to see you overcome the test. And most importantly, they pray with you – and, for you.
This process is how we gain the insight and encouragement we need to resolve our situations.
But more fundamental than all of that, I think, is the ability to change the way we look at all of life’s tests that come our way. One of my closest friends – one of the wisest and strongest people I know – has, in the relatively short time that we’ve been friends, not only been a rock in times of adversity, but has always encouraged me to embrace life’s tests and to find beauty in them. This is perhaps the most valuable skill I could ever hope to learn and an ability that I feel that every person needs to continually nurture in themselves and others!
Be not troubled because of hardships and ordeals; turn unto God, bowing in humbleness and praying to Him, while bearing every ordeal, contented under all conditions and thankful in every difficulty.
Changing our perspective doesn’t make the test, in itself, go away, but it allows us to stay grounded even when the strong waves of emotion and doubt hit us, and allows us to remain hopeful even in the darkness and dreariness of our pain and anxiety!
Nobody likes a liar. As kids, we were taught by our parents not to lie. In the school playground, getting caught telling a tall tale would see us subjected to poetic taunts about our pants catching fire. And as adults, we live in societies in which telling a lie under oath can have legal consequences.
The value placed on honesty isn’t specific to any culture, religion or ideology. Truthfulness is a universal virtue.
Also universal, however, is the harmless white lie – the cherished caveat, the exception to the rule. It’s where we find ourselves bending the truth, just slightly, to get out of an uncomfortable or difficult situation. It’s where we say what we think needs to be said, rather than what we know to be accurate, because we’re trying to avoid hurting a person’s feelings or offending them.
It’s not dishonesty, per se. White lies are justified under the circumstances and necessary, even! We’ve all been in those situations where telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth would be disastrous. Those situations where we need to tell a little white lie.
It’s Sunday morning in the city of Melbourne, Australia, and a crowd of about 100 people gathers at the State Library of Victoria. Everyone’s eager to enter the auditorium, and they start lining up next to a sign labelled “Soul Food”. Everyone’s here because they’re hungry – but not for physical food, they’ve come to receive food for the soul.
Rated as one of the Top Ten things to do in Melbourne, Soul Food is a monthly event which has been running consistently for six years now. The program runs for about 40 minutes, and it features live readings from various faiths and philosophers woven together with beautiful imagery and live music.
I’ve been living in Melbourne for about three years now and Soul Food is definitely an event I’ve had locked in my calendar, so I decided to sit down with one of the organisers of the event, Nima Ferdowsi, and ask him about the initiative and its success. Continue reading →
Education Under Fire is a new documentary, co-presented by Amnesty International, that profiles the persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, and looks at the struggles and resilience of the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education. The Education Under Fire campaign led to the creation of a powerful letter co-authored by Nobel Peace Prize laureates José Manuel Ramos-Horta and Desmond Tutu, which calls for the Iranian government to respect education opportunities and the human rights of Iran’s estimated 300,000 Baha’is, the nations largest religious minority.
For our readers in the United States, the documentary debuts tomorrow (October 28) at Columbia University, and will then be screened at campuses and Amnesty International events around the US.
There’s a small army of creative Baha’is who labour hard to communicate the message of the Faith on screen and paper. The Designing the Faith series showcases some of their ingenious work in film, fashion, the internet, architecture and more.
When you’re inviting your neighbour’s kid to a children’s class, Comic Sans on coloured paper won’t instill a sense of trust in their mum. Your charming smile may, but a well-designed invitation will give you an extra edge to communicate confidence, experience, and maybe even joy and creativity.
In the fourth part of our Designing the Faith series, we look at outstanding examples of color on paper.
It is very difficult to render tribute to a person so precious and outstanding as Violette Nakhjavani, who passed away last month.
She lived a life of service to the beloved Cause, blessed by the years of early pioneering in the continent of Africa and by the unique opportunity to be the tireless companion and devoted friend of the Hand of the Cause, Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, whom she loved and served so dearly.
Words cannot sufficiently describe the manner in which Mrs Nakhjavani and Ruhiyyih Khanum courageously and steadfastly spread the Message of Baha’u’llah. They travelled thousands of kilometers – across villages, cities, countries and oceans – and lovingly encouraged individuals of all origins, race and creed, as well as strengthening their love for the Faith.
(The winner for this competition was picked using the Random Number Generator on www.random.org)
Janet is the winner of some awesome albums from Andy Grammer, Luke Slott, Tahereh Etehad and MANA. (Janet, we’ll be in touch shortly with more information on how to collect your prize!)
Thanks to everyone else for all the comments, “Like”s and for sharing the link with your friends. We’ve really appreciated all the kind words of support and encouragement, as well as the useful feedback, which we’ve been getting from so many readers over the past week!
We wish we could give prizes to everyone who commented and responded, but stay tuned for more exciting developments and giveaways over the next few months.
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Once again, a HUGE thanks for the fantastic response and constant support. Stay tuned for more!
A view from Avenue de Camoens where Abdu'l-Baha delivered many talks. (photo: Michael Day)
One hundred years ago this month, Abdu’l-Baha was speaking up on behalf of the victims of conflict in Libya and offering solutions to the scourge of war.
We who are witnessing a civil war in the same country exactly a century later can read what he said at that time. His words are published in one of the most beloved of Baha’i books, Paris Talks, which contains transcripts of talks delivered between October and December 1911, as well as some later addresses in London.
Many readers are likely tohave an uncanny experience of the “history repeats itself” variety.
“The news of the Battle of the Benghazi grieves my heart,” Abdu’l-Baha said in a talk he gave to an audience in Paris on October 21, 1911.
That battle was part of the 1911-12 Italo-Turkish war which claimed 25,000 lives in what is now modern day Libya.
Abdu’l-Baha spoke about the pointlessness of the fighting, a feeling many of us no doubt share today concerning the present conflict.
“The highest of created being fighting to obtain the lowest form of matter, earth?” he said. Continue reading →