Ridvan is the King of Festivals in the Baha’i calendar. The twelve days of the Festival of Ridvan mark the momentous occasion when Baha’u’llah told His supporters that He was the Promised One they had been awaiting. At that time, Baha’u’llah was in a beautiful garden on the Tigris River in Baghdad. The garden was named Ridvan, or Paradise in English, by Baha’u’llah’s followers. Roses in full bloom lined its paths. Nightingales sang throughout the night. Baha’u’llah said:
The Divine Springtime is come, O Most Exalted Pen, for the Festival of the All-Merciful is fast approaching. Bestir thyself, and magnify, before the entire creation, the name of God, and celebrate His praise, in such wise that all created things may be regenerated and made new.
Baha’is around the world reflect on the story of Ridvan each year. One year I realised that the Festival of Ridvan is the perfect time of year for big gardening projects. We live in Sydney, Australia so while the Northern Hemisphere is enjoying spring, we are in the midst of autumn. Each Ridvan I do things such as the mass planting of seeds, building new garden beds, pruning, etc. While I work in my garden, I reflect on the time Baha’u’llah spent in the Ridvan garden. Continue reading
The Baha’i Writings often exhort us to live in a state of prayer and meditation. In one passage, Abdu’l-Baha explains that prayer and fasting are “the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests.” In another, Shoghi Effendi talks about a “mystic feeling” that unites us with the Creator, and says that this state “can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer.” As Baha’is, we can explore the truth of these claims through formal scientific inquiry, as well as through a process of action, reflection, and consultation.
I think the best way to begin on any path of inquiry is to transform claims into questions. For instance, how do prayer and fasting result in “awakening and mindfulness,” and how are these practices conducive to protection and preservation from tests? Continue reading
Since the Fast is an ocean of opportunities to raise our awareness and develop our capacities, what about thinking of our eating habits and choices?
I was shocked when I read that Cuba, back in 1990 when the Soviet Union collapsed, experienced a massive food shortage and surprisingly the health of Cubans drastically got better. This was basically because they were eating just enough and there were barely any processed foods. Additionally, I stumbled upon research that shows how since Chinese people started consuming processed foods, roughly 92 million Chinese today suffer from Type II diabetes, which was a disease that was not known to their country until recently.
In 2005, worldwide processed food sales were $3.2 trillion, accounting for 75 percent of total food sales. In comparison, $400 billion was spent on fresh fruits and vegetables.
When I read this, I started thinking… Is it possible that a big part of human health issues is related to a misconception of the amount and kind of food we eat? Have we maybe taken for granted the huge role food plays on our health?
John Esslemont said: Continue reading
For a number of years I experienced fear and anxiety prior to and during the Fast. This year, I reflected on it and asked myself, “why do I fear the Fast, and why do I associate it with negative emotions?” If I don’t do something about it then the fear will stay with me for my whole life till I turn 70. The Fast is one of the two important pillars of a spiritual life: the other being Obligatory prayers. I always fasted for the love and fear of God, but I have also endured fear and anxiety during the Fast. We are assured that every hour of the Fast is endowed with a special virtue – if all I am feeling is fear and anxiety then how can I make myself receptive to these special gifts? Continue reading
As a person of faith, I have always believed that all of us are – as French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin so succinctly put it – not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather, spiritual beings having a human experience. It is this duality of existence that has given rise to some of the questions that countless individuals have grappled with over the course of civilizations.
What is my purpose in this world? How do I survive the harsh realities of life and attain comfort and security for myself and those who depend on me? How do I do all this while also abiding by lofty ideals and higher principles of justice and compassion? What does it mean to live a life that is grounded in reality and pragmatism while also honouring the nobility of the human spirit?
If you are reading this blog, it is likely that these are questions that you too struggle with from time to time. That’s why this time of the year – the days spanning the Baha’i observances of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Fast and Naw-Ruz – are some of my favourite in the year. Continue reading
I love being in a happy marriage. I love the quotations from the Baha’i Writings that talk about the wonderfulness of marriage. Sometimes though the guidance is challenging to understand and follow. I’m currently striving to grasp this particular quotation below, especially the second sentence:
Baha’is should be profoundly aware of the sanctity of marriage and should strive to make their marriages an eternal bond of unity and harmony. This requires effort and sacrifice and wisdom and self-abnegation.
These are my thoughts on that sentence, based on my personal experience and my work as a marriage and relationship educator and coach based in the United States and working with couples in many countries. Continue reading
Many people have strong opinions about the word “feminist” and the whole concept of feminism. These opinions might be based on good or bad experiences that people have had, on things they have heard or read, or on fundamental understandings of the realities of women and men. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and to the reasons behind those opinions.
For this article, we (the authors) are going to focus on only two things: a dictionary definition of “feminism” and some of the statements found in the Baha’i Writings that we feel address aspects of that definition. We hope that you will read with this in mind, gleaning anything you find useful from the post as a jumping off point for continued conversation. Continue reading
Photo: courtesy of the Baha'i International Community
At the latitudes where I’ve lived the longest (between 40 and 43 degrees north of the Equator, to be exact), November through March are dark and frozen. The Baha’i (Badi) calendar has no celebratory Holy Days during most of this wintry season; the Day of the Covenant falls around US Thanksgiving, and Ayyam-i-Ha comes about a month before the Spring Equinox. In between, for most of the Gregorian months December, January, and February, there are no celebrations on our calendar, in contrast to other religions’ calendars, many of which feature holidays around winter solstice, casting light on the darkest time of year. Continue reading
About seven years ago, I co-founded a community work, event, and educational space in downtown Seattle, Washington (USA) and began running the business with a team of amazing people. I became a Baha’i about two years into running this business, and one of the features that first attracted my contemplation and gratitude towards the Baha’i Faith was the practical nature of its principles, and how I could actively apply them to all dimensions of my daily life, and furthermore, how they evolve with meaning through experience. Continue reading
Perhaps you are like me. Perhaps there have been times when you have been asked what the Baha’i Faith is and the minute the word “religion” leaves your lips, your listener becomes apprehensive. Perhaps they reply that religion is an opiate for the masses, that it is an outdated fiction that does not meet the needs of today, that it is the cause of unnecessary bloodshed and war, that religion breeds intolerance for people of other religions, or that faith in something greater than ourselves shouldn’t be organized and administered. In honour of World Religion Day, I thought I’d explore what “religion” means in the context of the Baha’i Writings. Continue reading