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Do Animals Have Souls?

Do Animals Have Souls

My daughter was saddened when our pet hermit crab, Betsy, died and she asked if she’d see her again in the next world. The simple Baha’i answer to her question was no, she wouldn’t. However, I found a blanket “no” with no other exploration of the topic was not only insensitive but potentially incomplete.

Baha’is are encouraged, from their earliest years, to show love and compassion towards animals. Continue reading

The Spirit of the Olympics: A Personal Reflection

The Spirit of the Olympics

Two years ago the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, wrote to the Universal House of Justice inviting it to provide a statement on the occasion of the 20th World Cup. President Rousseff saw the World Cup as an opportunity to further the cause of peace and the elimination of prejudice.

The response from the Universal House of Justice, and its tribute to the people of Brazil, is very moving (it can be read in full here). I took the opportunity to read the letter again, as it gave me a lens through which to watch the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games. It highlights three positive aspects of the World Cup and these ideals were also demonstrated in the Olympics which just closed. They will undoubtably also be found in the Paralympic Games about to commence.

1. A Celebration of Diversity

The opening paragraph of the letter includes these words:

Few occasions can claim to embrace so wide a cross-section of humanity, comprising peoples of varied ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds. It is clear to every observer that the sport that has brought these nations to Brazil is only strengthened by the marvellous diversity of the participants. To rejoice in this fact is to reject prejudice in all its forms.

Continue reading

Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 9: Tom Price

Tom 864x468

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode I interview Tom Price, a Baha’i music composer, director and well-known public speaker currently living in Adelaide, Australia. We talk about his background, his travels, his experience doing music projects for global Baha’i events, and the fascinating story of how he became a Baha’i. We look at topics like the harmony between science and religion, walking and its meditative benefits, spiritual principles and how they apply to the physical world. We also talk about his experience as a public speaker whose talks have become widely shared and listened to around the world, his creative process with music, his daughter’s band Lake Street Dive, upcoming projects, some of the research he’s doing, and some of his current spiritual goals. Continue reading

Laura & Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney: Esteemed Collaborators

Laura Dreyfus-Barney (30 November, 1879 - 18 August, 1974) and Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney (12 April, 1863 - 20 December, 1928). These portraits of Laura and Hippolyte were done by Laura's mother, Alice, and the images are courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Laura Dreyfus-Barney (30 November, 1879 - 18 August, 1974) and Hippolyte Dreyfus-Barney (12 April, 1863 - 20 December, 1928). These portraits of Laura and Hippolyte were done by Laura's mother, Alice, and the images are courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In the year 1900, Laura Clifford Barney and Hippolyte Dreyfus met on the threshold of the Paris home of May Ellis Bolles. Laura was on her way to the visit the Canadian Baha’i in order to find out more about the Faith – which she accepted immediately, an unquenchable fire having been sparked in her heart. Hippolyte was departing May’s company. In the months that followed, Hippolyte became the first French Baha’i and in the years that followed he and Laura would both render priceless and invaluable services to the Cause. In honour of Laura’s passing which occurred 42 years ago on August 18th, I’d like to share some facts I’ve learned about them.

Laura was born on November 30th, 1879 in Cincinnati, Ohio to a wealthy family of artists and industrialists. She and her sister Natalie lived in luxury and privilege but owing to their parents’ strained marriage, they spent their childhood in both Paris and the United States. She studied the dramatic arts and sculpture, loved the theater and wrote 25 short stories and at least two plays. Laura was keenly intelligent, serious, inquisitive and insightful – qualities for which we are all grateful.

Between 1904 and 1906, Laura travelled to Akka multiple times. She was unmarried and in her twenties and the Master was still a prisoner of the Turkish government. Dr. Youness Afroukteh (whose wonderful recollections Memories of Nine Years in Akka is a delight to read) recorded these words:  Continue reading

9 Things I Didn’t Know About Obligatory Prayers

9 Interesting Things Obligatory Prayer 864x549

As Baha’is, most of us are familiar with the main aspects of the Obligatory Prayers: that there are three to choose from, and that one is to be recited, individually, each day. The three prayers, generally referred to as the short, medium, and long Obligatory Prayers, each have specific directions which accompany them, but all should be preceded by ablutions (washing of the hands and face) and are recited facing the Qiblih (Point of Adoration, i.e. Bahji, Akka). The significance of the Obligatory Prayers has been discussed in another Baha’i Blog post here.

As a junior youth, I knew that when I reached the age of 15, I would start to say my Obligatory Prayer every day. But it wasn’t until my late teens, when I read the Kitab-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) for the first time, that I found out about the following exemptions and clarifications, and they added to my understanding of the importance and centrality of the Obligatory Prayers to our lives. Continue reading

Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 8: Leyla and Ryan Haidarian

Leyla-Ryan-864x486

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode, I interview my friends Leyla and Ryan Haidarian who live in Johannesburg, South Africa with their son. We talk about the unexpected way in which they moved to South Africa from Los Angeles, their media company which produces, distributes and develops financing for movies, television shows and creative projects. We talk about the special story of how they met on pilgrimage, about their professional path, their experience in the film industry, and their passion for doing work that has an impact and affects lives. We also look at topics like surrendering to the will of God, the struggle of fame and status, the concept of self, tests and accepting them with radiant acquiescence, and their experience with marriage as a fortress of wellbeing. Continue reading

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