Baha’i Houses of Worship: A Personal Reflection on the Work Ahead

The Baha'i House of Worship in Panama City, Panama (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

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

How Habits Can Help You Become the Baha’i You’ve Always Wanted to Be

Steps

When Abdu’l-Baha was asked how we could acquire perfections in the face of life’s obstacles, he gave what is my all time favourite Baha’i quote: “Little by little, day by day”. The standards that we strive towards as Baha’is are high. Mightily so. It’s all too easy to feel like a spiritual dwarf in the face of such a high bar. But as always Abdu’l-Baha has given us a most practical answer to the most staggering of questions. And in that answer is a powerful tool for sculpting oneself to become the Baha’i you want to be: Habit. Continue reading

Talks by Mr. Grossmann from the New Zealand North Island Baha’i Summer School 2013

Mr Grossmann 620x413
Mr. Hartmut and Mrs. Ursula Grossmann were the keynote speakers at the recent North Island Baha’i Summer School in New Zealand at the end of December 2013, and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of New Zealand have given Baha’i Blog four of Mr. Grossmann’s audio talks for you to listen to.

Currently residing in Finland, the Grossmann’s are originally from Germany and Mr. Grossmann is a former member of both the International Teaching Centre and the Universal House of Justice, until he retired in 2008.

We’ve been asked to remind everyone that Mr. Grossmann gave these talks as an individual Baha’i, and not as a representative of the Universal House of Justice.

You can listen to these talks by either streaming them live from our site or by downloading them.
If you’d prefer to download the talks to your computer, just click on the link to the talk below and the word “Download” will appear at the bottom right of the audio player. Now just click on the word “Download” to begin downloading the file.

Also, if anyone is interested in the DVD of these talks (which will also include Mrs. Grossmann’s presentations), you can order it by contacting: nationaloffice@bahai.org.nz

We hope you enjoy these talks as much as we do, and we’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Grossmann and the organizers of the summer school and the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand for making these talks available to us all!

Happy listening! Continue reading

Living a Coherent Life, A Life Fueled by Service

Participants at the 2013 Sydney Youth Conference worked together on creative presentations about the themes being studied. (Photo: Baha'i World Center)

Participants at the 2013 Sydney Youth Conference worked together on creative presentations about the themes being studied. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

Prior to attending one of the 114 worldwide youth conferences in Sydney, Australia, I was grappling with the concept of coherence and what it looked like in reality to live a life that was not fragmented. I would look at all the different components in my life and wonder how it was possible for each of them to tie seamlessly together while still devoting my time to the progress of the Five Year Plan. I saw myself as a mother, a wife, a journalist, a Baha’i – with each aspect having its own distinct purpose.

The paragraph below, taken from the youth conference participant materials, expands on this idea of coherence: Continue reading

The Life of Effie Baker

Life of Effie Baker

Euphemia (Effie) Eleanor Baker, 25 March, 1880 – January 1, 1968.

As most of the world celebrates the new year, January 1st also commemorates the passing of someone special: Effie Baker. In fact, if you visit bahaullah.org (a wonderful photographic narrative of the life of Baha’u’llah) you’ll notice that many of the photographs of 1930’s Iran are credited to Effie Baker. A western Baha’i woman photographer in Iran in those days? I was a fish on a hook and needed to know more.

Effie (a nickname for Euphemia) Eleanor Baker was born 25 March, 1880 in Goldsborough, Australia. She was petite but energetic and had brown hair and blue eyes. Her childhood was spent with her grandparents in Ballarat. Her grandfather founded the Ballarat Observatory and if you visit it today, you can still see a specimen of his award-winning astronomical work: a 26 inch telescope called “The Baker”. Effie inherited an enthusiasm for science, a facility with technical instruments, and a keen observing eye from her grandfather. For a turn-of-the-century country girl, Effie was very well educated and when she wasn’t at school, she could be found exploring the countryside on a white pony named Nugget.

Effie studied and then worked as a visual artist. Armed with a formal understanding of colour, light and composition, Effie became enamored with photography. She also excelled at toy-making at a time when imported toys were scarce in Australia. In 1914 she published Australian Wild Flowers, a small volume of hand-painted photographs of local flora.

The turning point in her life was when she heard Hyde Dunn speak publicly about the Baha’i Faith in 1922. He and his wife Clara responded to the Master’s Tablets of the Divine Plan by moving to Australia two years prior. Effie noticed something radiant about Hyde’s face and during his talk, she wholeheartedly accepted the Faith. Continue reading

The Station of Jesus Christ in the Baha’i Faith

Station of Jesus Christ in Baha'i FaithAs the birth of Jesus Christ approaches, I reflect on Christ’s wonderful revelation and the profound impact His message of love and fellowship has had on the world.

While busy preparing for their Christmas festivities with their friends and family, many of my friends ask me whether Baha’is believe in Christ.

Indeed we do. Baha’u’llah refers to Christ as the…

Lord of the visible and invisible.

And in a letter to a Christian, Abdu’l-Baha explained that…

to be a Christian is to embody every excellence there is.

Although throughout history, individuals have often used religion for their own gain and used it as an instrument for segregation and war, one cannot downplay the beauty and profound impact the revelation of Christ has had on earth. Christ’s message of love continues to vibrate throughout the world, and one could argue that one of the proofs of His divine message is the fact that His revelation, although written down and compiled some 50 years after His passing, continues to transform the hearts of millions around the globe – even today – some 2,000 years later. Continue reading

The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States recently released a wonderful new video entitled Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering 1987–2011.

The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering started over 20 years ago when a group of 12 American men of African descent gathered in a hotel lobby in Greensboro, North Carolina. They came from different parts of the United States, and they came after being invited by Billy Roberts, an Auxiliary Board Member at the time who had noticed that there were very few black males serving on institutions in the Baha’i community of the US. Billy Roberts was also concerned about the state of the black man in North America, as there was a tremendous discourse going on at the time in the US especially, about how black men were an endangered species. Continue reading

3 Ingredients for a Home of Peace

Peace at HomeWhen 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. [1]

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

Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences

114 Youth Baha'i ConferencesAlthough the 114 World-wide Baha’i Youth Conferences drew to a close towards the end of October, the energy generated from these conferences continues to be felt throughout the Baha’i world. I was recently at a reflection gathering in Los Angeles and the energy which the youth brought to the gathering after having attended the youth conference was absolutely inspiring and contagious!

For those of you who haven’t had a chance to see any of the videos from the 114 conferences yet, I highly recommend them! The Baha’i World Centre has posted all of the videos from the individual conferences online, and they’ve also produced a series of five videos called Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences based on some of the main conference themes, and they’re AWESOME! You can watch these wonderful videos by clicking on the corresponding titles below:

Videos from the 114 Youth Conferences

Reflections from the 114 Youth Conferences

Furthermore, in their recent letter to the Baha’i world last week, the Universal House of Justice wrote: Continue reading

The Style is to be Changed: An Interview with BASS Adjustment

BASS AdjustmentIt’s always great to hear about new musical initiatives from around the Baha’i world, and The Style is to be Changed is the debut album from BASS Adjustment, a musical initiative put together by Austrian musician, songwriter, composer and producer Raha Poostchi.

Raha first began the project back in 2006, and now seven years later, after collaborating with artists from all over the world including Hawaii, Nigeria, Australia, Italy, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland, the album was finally released this year.

The diversity of musicians working on the album has helped shape the diverse musical styles found on the album, which range from House to Pop, RnB and Smooth Jazz with influences from Oriental, Latin and African based music.

I decided to catch-up with Raha to find out more about BASS Adjustment and the debut album The Style is to be Changed.

Baha’i Blog: Hi Raha! First of all can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background?

Well, I kind of grew up with my parents being part of the Austrian Dawn Breakers and I was touring with them when I was only a baby. So I guess you could say that I got the love for music through my mothers milk. As far as I can remember I started composing my own music at the age of 8 and have been doing so since then.

Continue reading