A Baha’i shares the message of Baha’u'llah with her neighbour in Norte del Cauca, Colombia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)
For many of us, determining our role in the current Five Year Plan can be a major struggle. The Baha’i community is progressing and learning at such a rapid rate that it can seem difficult to keep up. There may also be certain community initiatives that are new to us and make us feel uncomfortable, so we watch others conduct the teaching work as we try and find our place.
In its most recent Ridvan message, the Universal House of Justice praised and encouraged our global teaching efforts and indicated that there is no formula to how we serve the current plan. During each cycle of activity, several methods of teaching can be employed depending on the characteristics of each population. The Supreme Body states: Continue reading
“I Love You”. It’s a phrase that is often thrown around very loosely, and come February each year on Valentine’s Day, these three words give people around the world an excuse to pamper one another with gifts, flowers, jewels and dinner promises. Of course there is nothing wrong with showing your loved ones a token (or two) of your appreciation, but I think it is equally important for us to use this time of year (or any time of year for that matter) to re-evaluate the word ‘love’. Is it really only about airy-fairy, lovey-dovey sentiments, or is there a deeper meaning to this four-letter word?
Abdu’l-Baha in fact spoke about there being four kinds of love in Paris Talks, and so I thought I would explore each of these in a little more detail in a bid to reflect on the true meaning of love. Continue reading
There’s a well-documented scientific study that’s been all the rage in the past few years about something that happened in the Israeli Defence Force. Before entering the Defence Force, all the cadets had to sit pre-entry exams testing intellectual capacities like cognition and problem-solving, to physical capacities like fitness, endurance and the like. The cadets were then assigned to their training officers accordingly.
In this particular year, a couple of the training officers were told that they had tested and found the best of the best, ‘the mother-shawarma’ of all cadet groups, showing great promise for future leadership roles in the Defence Force. Other training officers were then assigned ‘regular’ cadets, and everybody started training.
Fast-forward a year and lo and behold the group that showed remarkable signs of promise did indeed deliver, and significantly out-performed all other groups of cadets in both intellectually and physically-based exams.
There was just one catch: Continue reading
I recently lost someone in my life. Someone very close to me. Someone I love very much.
You can fall in love with, and become attached to anything. A person, an object, an idea, a place, a feeling, a belief.
No matter what it is that you’re attached to and in love with – once it’s gone – letting go can be hard.
Grief is an interesting thing. Many of my friends console me by saying that things happen for a reason, and we have to count our blessings. My mother always says that things could be worse, and she tells me the parable of a man who, while walking down a muddy street, complained to God that he didn’t have shoes. His complaints turned into prayers of gratitude when he noticed a man passing him on that muddy street who didn’t have any legs… She’s right. It could always be worse. Continue reading
The Baha’i House of Worship in Panama City, Panama (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)
My mother often comments that she feels as though the annual Ridvan letters of the beloved Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world are written specifically to her – there is always one sentence or one paragraph that strikes her to her very core and that makes the whole letter very personal and relevant. I don’t always feel the lightning bolt that she does but over time, I find myself mulling over morsels and sentences like a squirrel with acorns in its cheeks.
I am still delighting in the Ridvan message of 2012. It stirringly portrays the current state of affairs, framed by a historical account of the Master’s travels to the West and a vision of the work to be done in the coming years. It joyously announces the seven new Houses of Worship to be built: two new national temples, one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the other in Papua New Guinea, and five local temples in Battambang, Cambodia; Bihar Sharif, India; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu. The House of Justice writes: Continue reading
When my husband and I married eight years ago we were given a print of an illumined prayer of Abdu’l-Baha’s. The prayer, found in Star of the West, reads:
My home is the home of peace. My home is the home of joy and delight. My home is the home of laughter and exultation. Whomsoever enters through the portals of this home, must go out with gladsome heart. 
How to create a home of peace is a subject of a lifetime’s study and meditation but these are my meager thoughts to date.
It goes without saying that a tranquil dwelling depends upon spiritual qualities: unity, consultation on all matters, kindness and consideration, a lack of backbiting, loyalty and chastity between marriage partners, respect, gratitude and obedience on the part of children, and patience, humility and generosity on the part of the parents. And the list goes on. However, I think there are also tangible elements to creating a home of peace: beauty, a space for prayer and hospitality. 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
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