A couple of months ago I had the pleasure of meeting up with actor Rainn Wilson. We have a bunch of mutual friends and they always spoke so highly of him – not just because he’s such a great actor and played the role of Dwight Schrute so brilliantly in the hit TV show The Office – but more importantly because he was just a really nice down-to-earth guy who was sincere in his desire to serve humanity.
Well, my friends were right! I was finally able to meet him at the Texas Baha’i School a couple of months back, and let’s just say I wanted to hug him straight away. His spirit of humility and his attitude of service to others made my heart smile. He was one of the main speakers at the school and his humble posture of learning and dedication and focus on working with others, and especially teenagers was awesome.
I wasn’t going to ask him, but it’s not everyday you get to hang out with a Baha’i actor with celebrity status, and I know a lot of my friends and other Baha’is around the world are curious about him and would love to get to know him more, so Rainn happily agreed to be interviewed on Baha’i Blog. Continue reading
For the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of re-reading what I think is one of the best works of history ever: Baha’u’llah: The King of Glory by Hand of the Cause of God Hasan M. Balyuzi.
There are many outstanding qualities of Baha’u’llah that shine through in this monumental narrative, and one that particularly struck me from His youth was the way in which He would resolve complicated questions with simple and elegant solutions. At the age of 15, Baha’u’llah would be in discussions with learned divines who were tying themselves into knots with complicated theological discussions, and He would stun them with answers that were straightforward yet profound. Continue reading
What is a Baha’i? An obvious question for a person who has just come across the Baha’i Faith, but likewise a question that people who have already professed their belief in Baha’u’llah should perhaps regularly ask themselves. And for others who may not profess acceptance of Baha’u’llah and His claims, but who chose to behave in an upright manner, the question obtains equal importance. In the Arabic Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah states:
O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.
An examination of the Baha’i Sacred Texts amply provides us with detailed information on what it means to be a Baha’i, and regular contemplation and application of this guidance will provide a light and a guide in which a person can place their deeds. Likewise, it provides a means of aiding one to set goals for improvement in behaviour and attitude. It must be made clear at the start, however, that the question asks not “who”, but “what” is a Baha’i. And in the light of the guidance in the Baha’i Sacred Texts, even the question of “who” cannot be assumed to be one who has recognised Baha’u’llah as the Manifestation of God for this day. An instance in point are these statements from Abdu’l-Baha: Continue reading
One of the things I’ve personally struggled with, and I’m sure others have as well, is being content with one’s life. Not only do I frequently find myself wanting material things, like a new car, but I also frequently feel that something is missing from my life – something I can’t quite wrap my mind around.
Some might argue that the lack of contentment is just the nature of a human being, and that it’s a good thing because it pushes one to excel and be prosperous, but I don’t necessarily agree with that notion. After all there are plenty of very rich and successful people in the world that are dissatisfied with their lives, and plenty of poor people that are perfectly content.
Contentment is encouraged in the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith, for instance in one of The Persian Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, He says:
O QUINTESSENCE OF PASSION! Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised.
I feel that I should be content, after all I live in a great country, I have a career I love, and I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family. So what is it that I’m yearning for, and what can I do to find my own inner peace and contentment?
I’ve listed six simple things which have helped me personally, and maybe they can help you too: Continue reading
Last week, I learned you could trap those pesky, ever-multiplying fruit-flies with a bowl of vinegar and plastic wrap. It worked. But this is not your typical how-to guide, as matters of the spirit can sometimes seem much more complicated – but they don’t have to be.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we can work on becoming a better person in a very real and practical sense, and I keep thinking about the analogy of us being like a mirror, and how we need to constantly work on polishing it.
Dean Frasier said,
[we] see the world, not as it is, but exactly as we are. The whole world is our mirror, to the many renounced and rejected aspects of ourselves.
The German writer Goethe was a little more subtle when he wrote,
[a] man sees what he carries in his heart.
Yeah, psychologists call this ‘projection’, and its embarrassing when someone points out that we may be doing just that. I don’t know about you, but what’s in my heart, on its less-than-pure days, is not always pretty. Luckily, Abdu’l-Baha tells us we can change this:
The most important thing is to polish the mirrors of the hearts in order that they may become illumined and receptive of the divine light…
Now this all sounds awesome, but how do we actually do this?
So here are a six things that work for me and help me polish my mirror: Continue reading
Nothing is more capable of transforming and enlarging our understanding of what happens to us than standing back and reflecting on what we do, preferably while we are doing it.
Baha’u’llah says that…
One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship.
Consider. If we define humanity as “life being aware of itself”, then “a life not examined is a life only half lived”… and unless we are aware that each and every moment is taking us on a journey, – not only towards death but towards the spiritual growth and understanding that is essential if we are to continue our travels beyond death – then we can never fully appreciate the significance of what we are doing here, right now. Nor can we stand back and evaluate what our whole existence means.
This is what a spiritual approach to life demands of us.
That is why Baha’u’llah asks us to… Continue reading
Ever since I started preparing for my own marriage about 15 years ago I’ve been interested in the topic of marriage preparation and have specialized in this field as a psychologist and couples therapist. One of the things that I get asked all the time is to give advice in helping others choose a partner for marriage, so when Baha’i Blog asked me to write about this topic, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share a couple of my ideas on this subject.
Unfortunately, numerous national studies show that divorce rates around the world continue to be on the rise (often ranging from 35% – 50%), and dysfunctional relationships have proven to have a direct effect on physical and/or mental health problems. Of course Baha’is are not immune to any of this, and so I’d like to share two important things individuals should focus on in order to improve their chances of making a well-informed and good choice when thinking of a suitable life partner. Continue reading
Even though, as Abdu’l-Baha says, “Every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at birth”, as soon as we are born we enter the realm of opposing forces and a lifelong spiritual journey becomes necessary to draw out the virtues and spiritual qualities within us so we can develop more fully our inner nature and potential.
This vital spiritual quest might be thought of as a process of “soul-making,” or what the English poet John Keats says we, as “sparks of the divinity”, undergo in this “World of Pains and troubles” in order “to school an Intelligence and make it a soul.” It is what English teacher and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman says happens “when time meets the timeless” as we constantly confront “the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body.” Soul-making is all about communicating deeply with the inner realm, being fully awake and aware as the numinous bursts forth from the unconscious; it is about experiencing the universals of life. Continue reading
How do we know when transformation is about to happen to us?
The Writings of Baha’u’llah state that,
Adversity is the oil that feedeth the flame of this Lamp! Such is God’s transforming power.
Psychologist C.G Jung also wrote that,
There is no balance, no system of self-regulation, without opposition.
It would seem, from the above, that it is when we consciously experience the adversity that comes from opposites clashing in our lives. But being aware of these life-changing moments is one of our greatest challenges. We do, however, have some very useful tools to help us recognize and welcome such changes. Continue reading
I once asked someone what their biggest fear was and they answered that they were most afraid of going to Hell. Basically, they were afraid of missing the mark, not trying hard enough in their life, getting to judgment day and then being told they had a one way ticket to the Netherworld. And the sad thing is, I don’t think that is a rare fear. I think it is an extremely common one.
As Baha’is, we don’t believe in a literal hell, but we definitely believe that we should try our best to live our lives in accordance with Baha’u’llah’s teachings. In the Hidden Words, we are commanded to take stock daily on how we’re doing… Continue reading