While it is often easy to focus on the differences between the various religions of the world, there are definitely many similarities which unfortunately often get overlooked. Beyond the many similarities relating to customs and rituals, such as fasting and prayer, many of these similarities are based on what could be classified as the “core values”, or the “essence” of these religions, rather than the “details”.
These similarities are very evident in the teachings of these different religions when it comes to the subject of how we should treat others, so I thought it would be interesting to list the “Golden Rule” of what each religion says about how we should treat others. Here’s just one quote from a short selection of major world religions in alphabetical order: Continue reading
A professor once confessed to my class that he was glad he wasn’t young and that he was grateful to be in his sunset years because the world has become such a terrible place. And it is only going to get worse. As Baha’is, we know there is truth to this. Shoghi Effendi masterfully wrote: Continue reading
(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
Abdu’l-Baha suggests we should thank God a hundred-thousand times for being enabled to serve His Cause:
In short, thou shouldst thank God a hundred-thousand times for having been confirmed and strengthened in obtaining such a great gift [servitude]! Know thou the value thereof and consider that its price is highly appraised.
But what’s the best way to do it?
Here’s a list of seven things I think we can do to practice being grateful: Continue reading
(Photo courtesy: Baha'i World Centre)
Consultation is a distinctive and unifying method of decision-making that is used by Baha’is whether at home, among friends, or while serving on committees or institutions at any level.
No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.
Shoghi Effendi also said that:
…consultation, frank and unfettered, is the bedrock of this unique Order.
Photo: Baha'i World Centre
In the Baha’i Faith, the concept of “service” plays an important role, and we believe that service to others gives meaning and purpose to life.
Service to humanity is service to God.
In the Baha’i Writings, there are many aspects to service, and there are just as many ways to serve as there are ‘servants of God’, so let’s break it down and reflect on the idea of service as it relates to the Faith: Continue reading
For Baha’is, the purpose of marriage is to create a divine institution that gives birth to the next generation of teachers who will arise to further proclaim the Cause of God. As Baha’u’llah says:
Enter ye into wedlock, that after you another may arise in your stead.
There are, of course, many factors that influence whether and when to have children, including education, financial stability, career or physical ability. A letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice states:
They should realise, moreover, that the primary purpose of marriage is the procreation of children. A couple who are physically incapable of having children may, of course, marry, since the procreation of children is not the only purpose of marriage. However, it would be contrary to the spirit of the Teachings for a couple to decide voluntarily never to have any children.
Photo: Freedom House via Flickr
The recent news and accompanying images of those who drowned while attempting to flee war-torn Syria has brought the entire world to tears. No matter what their age, background, or religious affiliation, people have been deeply affected by the tragedy and almost everyone has been left feeling helpless and searching for a means to ‘fix’ the current global refugee crisis.
In light of this news, I was particularly moved by the following excerpt taken from The Promise of World Peace by the Universal House of Justice: Continue reading
Participants of a Study Circle in Battambang, Cambodia (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)
The word “accompaniment” has become a quintessential part of Baha’i “jargon”. As the Universal House of Justice wrote in their 2010 Ridvan Message, “the growing frequency with which the word ‘accompany’ appears in conversations among the friends” is in fact a sign of the evolution of a collective consciousness emerging among the Friends. Accompaniment is, as the House writes, “a word that is being endowed with new meaning as it is integrated into the common vocabulary of the Baha’i community” and signifies no less than the strengthening of a culture that fosters the participation of more and more people in a united effort to apply Baha’u’llah’s teachings to the construction of a divine civilization.
Accompaniment, like everything in the Baha’i Faith, is a concept that needs to be translated into action if it is to have any effect in achieving the vision described by Baha’u’llah and laid out by the Universal House of Justice.
What then can accompaniment look like as we advance from merely talking about it to carrying it out? Continue reading
Often when we’ve been hurt, our first response is to get angry; to want to punish someone as much as we feel we’ve been hurt, but Baha’u’llah teaches:
Anger doth burn the liver: avoid [it] as you would a lion.
I used to think this meant I shouldn’t feel anger at all, but I don’t think that’s what it means. If we just ignore the lion (our anger), it will attack! If I’m in a jungle and I see a lion, I would be foolish to deny its existence. No – first I say: “There’s a lion, what should I do now?”
The idea of comparing anger to a lion is a really good analogy and one can draw a lot of parallels, so I Googled “How to Prevent a Lion Attack” and this is what I found: Continue reading
Listening isn’t easy. There is so much more to it than allowing sound waves to tickle their way into your ears. How can we become better listeners? In reflecting on this question, I have the following three suggestions:
1. A Gentle Silence is Golden
Baha’u’llah says that “the tongue is a smoldering fire and excess of speech a deadly poison.” I have grappled with these striking and powerful words for a long time but I know it to be true from all those times I found myself in conversation just itching to put forward my ideas and ignoring what others were saying. My excess of speech consumed me and deafened me and I am slowly learning that the way to be a better listener is to simply. Stop. Talking. Howard Colby Ives, an early Baha’i, describes this feeling perfectly and he explains how Abdu’l-Baha was the perfect listener. Ives writes: Continue reading