Like all animals, we are naturally pleasure-seeking creatures. The desire for pleasure drives, and has driven, many of our endeavours. And we might even say that in the technological age we live in, it drives us even more. But what if we realised that our task in life is not to pursue our own pleasure, but instead to pursue God’s? Baha’u’llah counsels us:
O SON OF MAN! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.
O SON OF HIM THAT STOOD BY HIS OWN ENTITY IN THE KINGDOM OF HIS SELF! Know thou, that I have wafted unto thee all the fragrances of holiness, have fully revealed to thee My word, have perfected through thee My bounty and have desired for thee that which I have desired for My Self. Be then content with My pleasure and thankful unto Me.
These are beautiful words. But they can be hard to follow. In today’s world, for many people, desires can be quickly met. We want a coffee; we buy one on the go. We want to be entertained; we find something interesting to watch on YouTube. I think that we have become accustomed to having our desires instantly satiated, so the notion of pleasing God, instead of ourselves, can be a completely foreign concept. Continue reading
We are all human and that means we are in the same predicament: we are like a bird that is stuck in the clay of the world, its wings sullied and heavy; we have two selves, one lower, the other higher. So, our task in life is to elevate our souls and escape the grip of the ego. But how?
This is no easy endeavour. But according to the Baha’i Writings, there are a number of ways through which we can grow spiritually. Here are six ways that I’m striving to better myself: Continue reading
Over a year ago I had a job interview that I had to rush to from my workplace. I’m not the most technologically savvy person but I will still blame the GPS on my phone for what happened. I looked up how to get from work to the interview, jumped on the light rail (or tram), then the train, then tapped the function on my phone to show me how to walk the rest of the way. After walking some time, I arrived back at the train station where I got on the train! With only 10 minutes until the job interview, I started to panic. But then I said to myself: “Well, what will happen if I miss the interview? I have a job anyway. It’s not the best job in the world but it helps me pay the rent and bills and feed my family. I really have nothing to lose!”
So I decided to try to get there on time but not get stressed about it. I was spurred on by a sense of detached determination. I made a second try at navigating my way and I finally arrived at the place half an hour late, my shirt soaked with sweat, and had the interview. Continue reading
(Photo courtesy: Baha'i International Community)
“It’s the thought that counts” is a common English expression. Perhaps we give someone a present that we think they will love, and either they already have it, or they just don’t like it. The person is (hopefully) pleased anyway because they know that we meant well.
Abdu’l-Baha says that purity of motive is extremely important:
Your hearts must be pure and your intentions sincere in order that you may become recipients of the divine bestowals… This is the day when pure hearts have a portion of the everlasting bounties and sanctified souls are being illumined by the eternal manifestations.
So, in regards to the “failed” present, it doesn’t matter so much that the present was not loved or needed by the recipient. It is that we gave it out of the goodness of our heart. Continue reading
As the activities of the Baha’i community have grown and developed in complexity, a pattern of action has emerged. Baha’is all around the world are engaged in cycles of activity that are guided by reflection, planning and action. This creates a collective rhythm and unifies a diversity of activities, such as devotional meetings, children’s classes and study circles.
I learned from the fifth book in Ruhi Institute sequence of courses, Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth, that living an integrated life means placing service at the centre and integrating other facets around it. To me, this means that we can benefit from using these three capacities and can add the rhythm of reflection-planning-action to our personal lives. In addition to service, we can also focus on other things we wish to include and develop in our daily lives. 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
We all look both ways before crossing the road. We try to save, instead of wasting our money. When someone we love dies, we mourn. Life is very real. We don’t treat it like a game at all. One false move and it’s all over. But should we take life this seriously?
According to Abdu’l-Baha,
this present life is even as a swelling wave, or a mirage, or drifting shadows.
Prayer is an essential component of a spiritual life according to the Baha’i teachings, and indeed the teachings of most religions. It provides spiritual sustenance for our souls, which are in fact our true selves. It also shows our devotion to God. That is why it is a daily part of life.
There are three Obligatory Prayers that Baha’u’llah revealed that are known by their length – short, medium and long – and people are free to chose one of these to say each day. All of these prayers express similar thoughts and sentiments to God. The short Obligatory Prayer, although brief, is imbued with immense meaning and power. Continue reading
Language is one of the most striking features that distinguishes humans as the beings that we are. It is the tool that has allowed us to achieve so much, both in the world of thought and material development. It is clear that language has immense power. As Baha’u’llah says, “it is through its potency and animating spirit that the people of the world have attained so eminent a position.” But what are the best ways to use, and not abuse, language? Here are a few of my thoughts on Baha’u’llah’s guidance: Continue reading
The individual stands between the world and God, surrounded by other fellow beings in the same scenario. So should our attention be put on God, ourselves or other people? A Sufi quote says something interesting on the matter:
Act as if there were no one on earth but you and no one in Heaven but God. – al-Antaki
This sounds a bit selfish and even solipsistic but there seems to be some sense in it. It takes us back to the mystery that we all inhabit our own private universes. We can only think, feel, and understand from within our own view-point and can only infer what is happening in other people’s private worlds. The most fundamental relationship is between the individual and God. He is our creator, sustainer and salvation, so naturally our attention should be focused on Him.
This does not mean that other individuals are not important but that they are no substitute for God and should not stand between us and Him. For this reason, in the end, the only relationship that we can fully depend on is our own personal relationship with God. All other relationships stem from this one. And if we lose our connection with our Creator, our relationship with others also suffers – for we do not have the spiritual insight and strength to gain the qualities of love, forgiveness, or generosity on our own. Continue reading