Category Archives Discussion

Is God Real? The Unseen Ancient Power

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The question, “Is God real?” was posed to me by my four-year-old daughter. A simple “yes” would not suffice and she further asked; “But I can’t see Him, so how do I know He’s real?”

I admittedly struggled with her question. How do you explain the unseen force of God to anyone, let alone a four-year-old?

I was on a quest to answer my pre-schoolers seemingly simple question, but my journey took me into the world of metaphysics and beyond. Continue reading

Raising the Quality of Our Systematic Action: Reflection and Planning

Participants of a Study Circle in Preah Vihear, Cambodia (Photo credit: Baha'i World Centre)

Participants of a Study Circle in Preah Vihear, Cambodia (Photo credit: Baha'i World Centre)

All of us feel the sadness and pain that the peoples of the world are experiencing in this day and age. Yet as Baha’i’s, we know we must not lose sight of humanities’ bright future, focussing our energies on contributing our part to building a flourishing spiritual and material civilization. In it’s 2015 Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice wrote: Continue reading

Religion: A Cause of Prejudice?

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For many people, the heading of this article will seem absurd. “Religion: A cause of prejudice?” well of course it’s a cause of prejudice, they will state, why bother with a question mark. You only have to pick up the paper, or read any history book to see the horrific injustices caused in the name of religion.

But does any label, including “Baha’i”, foster religious prejudice? Continue reading

The Power of Our Thoughts

The Power of Our Thoughts

It is often said that our thoughts shape our reality, and that what we think, we become. But is there really a link between our thoughts and our reality?

Does meditating on visions of future success, for example, really do anything to address the very real obstacles that you face in your daily life?

Some people are firm believers that positive thinking works wonders, while others are more skeptical. Continue reading

Different Religions, Same Golden Rule

Different Religions Same Golden Rule

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

Religion. What is it Good For?

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Religion has produced some of the greatest achievements of humanity but this fact is often obscured today as people and the media focus on the horrors resulting from its power.

By now we should all know that if people want to use religion as a method to get their own way, they have an ominous weapon.

Religion taps the very source of motivation because it has to do with the absolute and the eternal, so if somebody or a group successfully manipulates it for negative ends they can achieve their aims with the help of followers whose morale is sky high.

Down the centuries there have been many wars and atrocities because of this manipulation of religious feeling and allegiance. When that happens, religion becomes a counterfeit version of the real thing. Continue reading

The Almost Hip Religion – Western Ideals Meet Baha’i Teachings

Children in a Haitian slum showing off their Western-taught ‘gangsta’ moves. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

Children in a Haitian slum showing off their Western-taught ‘gangsta’ moves. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

I’ve been a Baha’i all my life and yet it never ceases to amaze me how intuitive the Baha’i Faith seems. Most Baha’i ideals quite simply feel true. They resonate and appeal to what some call “our modern sensibilities”.

And yet for many of us there remains that fraction of the totality of Baha’i ideas which is difficult, even daunting, to truly accept in one’s heart of hearts.

Many teachings stand in stark contrast to the majority view in any given culture. Some teachings challenge what is hip and trendy. Some defy what is passed down as a proud tradition. Almost all Baha’i teachings defy strong selfish impulse or entrenched habit. A new Baha’i or someone looking into the Baha’i Faith, may become so enamoured by the beautiful and instantly palatable core teachings that they unwittingly ignore a host of other fundamental principles which may later come as an unpleasant surprise — usually in the inconvenient personal challenge they present. Time should be given, and loving sympathy and utmost patience shown for every individual to process the most personally challenging Baha’i ideas whatever they may be. Continue reading

5 Thoughts About Oneness

5 Thoughts about Oneness

I find that sometimes having a question in the forefront of my mind can make certain answers more apparent — like when you close your eyes, think of the colour blue, and then open them again. Everything blue pops out in sharper contrast than before. What was muted becomes vibrant, and impossible to ignore.

These days I am wondering about oneness and am trying to keep the question in the fore of my personal deepening. What does “oneness” truly mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary tells us that it is “the state of being completely united with or a part of someone or something” but what does that mean in practical terms? What effect does it have on our spiritual lives?

I have often explained the Baha’i Faith in terms of believing in the three onenesses: the oneness of humanity (that we are all equal despite differences in culture, ethnicity, gender, and our physical bodies), the oneness of the Manifestations (that They are all divine in origin), and the oneness of God (regardless of whether we call Him Dieu, Allah or Jehovah, He is one in essence). These words have rolled off my tongue without deeper, significant thought but recently I have been contemplating these five points: Continue reading

Failure…You’re Doing It Wrong

Failure...You're Doing It Wrong

A young Baha’i couple has an imaginative eight-year-old daughter who spends her birthday each year painting a picture of her family on a large canvas, which they proudly display above the dining room table. Throughout the years, the couple has helped her to experiment with different artistic mediums and taken her to community workshops and classes.

For the last six months, this same couple has been hosting a junior youth group. They start with seven youth, but eventually only four come regularly, and the couple is disheartened that they must go around the neighborhood each week to invite them to attend. Alas, they report at an annual reflection meeting that they are failing to find receptive youth and are not sure that the group should continue.

In situations such as this, what motivates the couple to support their daughter’s artwork year after year, yet become disheartened by the group after six months? Surely they have come across challenges in encouraging their daughter’s developing interest.

The answer, in one word, is “perspective”. Continue reading

When Religion Becomes the Cause of Terror

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If religion becomes the cause of enmity and bloodshed, then irreligion is to be preferred. For religion is the remedy for every ailment, and if a remedy should become the cause of ailment and difficulty, it is better to abandon it. – Abdu’l-Baha

As a non-Muslim living in the West I am expected to bash Islam whenever another paradise-bound youngster shouts “Allah-u-Akbar” whilst unleashing his Kalashnikov in a crazed fit against innocent bystanders. In solidarity to the victims I should at least quip sarcastically about “the religion of peace” once again carrying out “business as usual”. Continue reading