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
The path to finding a mate for life is not easy. Through my personal life and my work as a marriage and relationship educator and coach, I have seen how perseverance, courage, discernment, and commitment are all essential. We and the world need strong, happy marriages that are fortresses of well-being.
We are not yet living in a world that has established a common pattern of courtship based on the Baha’i Teachings. As a result, individuals and couples are experimenting and trying to find their way – sometimes joyfully and sometimes with more difficulty.
As you know, courtship practices differ greatly from one culture to another, and it is not yet known what pattern of courtship will emerge in the future when society has been more influenced by Baha’i Teachings. However, there is no indication that it will resemble the practices extant in existing cultures…. In this interim period, the friends are encouraged to make great efforts to live in conformity with the Teachings and to gradually forge a new pattern of behavior, more in keeping with the spirit of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation.
The challenge we face is how to engage in patterns of courtship that strive to implement Baha’i principles in a world that is “a bewildering moral environment” and in “a society in which materialism, self-centeredness and failing marriages are all too common.”
So, when we look at what possibly aligns with Baha’i courtship, what is important? Continue reading
Baha’i Houses of Worship (or temples, as they often called) are places of prayer built by Baha’is, but open to people of all faiths, religions and beliefs. In the Baha’i Writings, they are also referred to as Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, which is Arabic for “The Dawning Place of the Mention of God”, and they are not simply buildings, but are considered sacred institutions. Baha’u’llah describes this sacred institution with these words:
O people of the world! Build ye houses of worship throughout the lands in the name of Him Who is the Lord of all religions. Make them as perfect as is possible in the world of being, and adorn them with that which befitteth them […]. Then, with radiance and joy, celebrate therein the praise of your Lord, the Most Compassionate. Verily, by His remembrance the eye is cheered and the heart is filled with light.
Baha’is all over the world are striving to systematize their efforts and to be methodical about their endeavours to “effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly”. We are given Plans by the Universal House of Justice and are encouraged to think in quarterly cycles of action, reflection, and planning. On the personal level, Baha’u’llah tells us to “bring [ourselves] to account each day”, to strive to “let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday”, and Abdu’l-Baha encourages us to “be constant in offering [daily] obligatory prayer”. The theme of systematic action has also been further explored here on Baha’i Blog.
Bullet journaling has helped me to be reliable, methodical and systematic both in my personal devotions, as well as in my service to the world at large; it has helped me create my personal plans and be organized in my efforts and participation in community building initiatives. Of course, bullet journaling isn’t the only way to be systematic on a personal level, but I’d like to share my personal experience here in the hope that others might find something useful in it. Continue reading
I was once explaining to someone about how my work as an image consultant supports people to find authenticity in themselves and in their clothes — and they were incredulous: “But, Glynis, humanity is sliding off a cliff and you want us to pay attention to what we wear?”
In considering the general state of the world around us, this is a perfectly understandable response. The very serious issues eroding and degrading the planet present an immediate responsibility to each of us to make conscious efforts to address them. For this reason, many concerned and deep-thinking people feel that there are more important areas to focus on than the seemingly superficial and materialistic subject of clothes.
In this article, I’d like to explore ideas of discovering and expressing our true selves through the clothes we choose to wear. 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
There are so many studies that link the power of gratitude to an emotive state of happiness, and many people are seeking to implement acts of gratitude in order to find a more fulfilling life. What is gratitude? An act of gratitude is the process or practice of giving thanks or showing appreciation for things that matter in your life; it can be your family, friends, job opportunities, living conditions, the list goes on. Through a daily act of gratitude, for example waking each morning and writing down five things you are thankful for, we seem to appreciate life more. But what if we are looking at gratitude too simplistically? What if gratitude is more than saying thanks for the material world and is, in fact, prayer – our most important spiritual practice? Continue reading
The Baha’i Faith teaches us that humanity is all one family. However, thankfully they don’t all come over for holiday dinners, call at all hours on the phone, or get annoyed when you forget their birthday! Yet Abdu’l-Baha tells us:
God has created the world as one–the boundaries are marked out by man. God has not divided the lands… That is why Baha’u’llah says: ‘Let not a man glory in that he loves his country, but that he loves his kind.’ All are of one family, one race; all are human beings.
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