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
Most Baha’is can probably relate to the frustrating fact that so much of the music we hear on the radio and on the charts right now have awesome beats and catchy tunes, but the lyrics are… well, let’s just say that they’re not very good for the soul.
Enter Karim, who’s one half of the popular Baha’i R&B/Hip-Hop duo Nabil & Karim, and he’s trying to change that!
Karim has embarked on a lyrical remix mission. His aim is to create a 10 song remix album aimed at shining new light on some of our favourite songs by recreating and rewriting the lyrics in order to make them more meaningful and ‘elevated’.
By using GoFundMe.com to raise enough money, Karim aims to have the album completed by October this year, and as he works on the tracks, he’s posting some of them on Youtube.
I decided to catch up with Karim once again, to find out more about this initiative. Continue reading
Last week in Los Angeles, I had the opportunity to attend the final screening of The Gardener, a film by multi award-winning Iranian film maker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.
Makhmalbaf has a long list of movies and awards under his belt including films such as Kandahar and The Day I Became A Woman, and his latest film/documentary The Gardener, has been getting a lot of attention as well, especially as it was predominantly filmed in the Baha’i gardens in Haifa and Akko, Israel.
Using the beautiful Baha’i gardens in Israel as a backdrop, from the very beginning of the film Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam set out to learn more about the Baha’i Faith and ask why the Baha’is have been persecuted in the the birthplace of their faith, Iran since the Faith’s inception. Primarily however, the film is not so much about the Baha’i Faith, but more about the power of religion in general, and its role in the world both historically and in the present, and its transformative effect on humanity, and whether we need religion at all.
Using very simple cameras in order to convey a very grassroots and simple effect, Makhmalbaf also uses a lot of symbolism throughout his personal journey of discovery. As with all artistic endeavors, the effects of an artists work on the receiver is inevitably varied, but for me personally, the film struck a certain chord. Perhaps because the main character was a Baha’i volunteer working in the Baha’i gardens from Papua New Guinea (the country where I was raised), but also because it was mainly filmed in the gardens surrounding the Baha’i Holy Places in the Holy Land, (where I’ve had the fortune of spending a number of years and which I miss immensely), but most importantly for me was the fact that I really felt that Makhmalbaf was sincere in his quest to question the purpose of religion, and that he had a sincere concern for the plight of the Baha’is of Iran and the persecution they continue to face, even though he is not a Baha’i himself. Continue reading
Photo: Morris S
Over the last 15 years I’ve had the opportunity to participate, tutor, and be involved to varying degrees in numerous Baha’i study circles in different parts of the world. I’ve experienced very good ones, and ones that could use a little work. Ones that completed the Ruhi book we were working on, and ones that fizzled out before completion. Ones that were run at an extremely intensive and accelerated pace, and ones that took over a year to complete. Ones that brought people into the Faith, and ones that weren’t very well received by some of the participants.
The fact is that no matter what you think about study circles or what your involvement has been with them over the years, study circles have and continue to revolutionize many Baha’i communities worldwide, helping to change the overall culture of the Baha’i community – and I think for the better.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and we’re all learning through action and reflection while continuously developing and working on improving our ‘posture of learning’, but I thought it would be interesting to look at just six of the ways study circles have helped the Baha’i community, so let’s take a look: Continue reading
A couple of months ago I wrote a post here on Baha’i Blog called 10 Great Introductory Books on the Baha’i Faith and my aim was to showcase some of the books available for those who want to learn more about the Baha’i Faith. The reality though, is that different people learn in different ways and maybe some of those books are not for everyone, or you’re simply looking for new materials to share with your friends, so that’s why I’m happy to introduce an awesome new initiative called WhyUnite?.
WhyUnite? is series of compelling introductory materials about the Baha’i Faith and the aim is to provide individuals with a variety of options to help them in their exploration of the Faith. Based on the idea that each person learns differently, and that every individual has a unique path they must follow in order to find the truth, meaning, and purpose that will help them reach their fullest potential in the world, WhyUnite? offers a choice of books, compilations, video talks, interviews, events, and more to help introduce the Faith.
This initiative has been a labor of love for husband and wife team Nathan and Sarah Thomas, and I managed to catch up with Nathan to find out more about these wonderful new resources. 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
Shoghi Effendi encouraged many of the Baha’is to use the art of storytelling to convey the history and teachings of the Baha’i Faith, and storytelling is also encouraged in the Ruhi sequence of courses as well, so I’m excited to share with everyone a brand new album full of inspiring stories entitled Illumined Youth.
Illumined Youth is a collection of stories and accompanying music about inspiring Baha’is who faced great difficulties in their youth, and how the Faith helped them to grow spiritually. The album includes stories of Shoghi Effendi, Hands of the Cause May Maxwell and Enoch Olinga as well as Ali-Kuli Khan, Zaynab from the Dawn Breakers, and Fred Mortensen.
The stories on this album were written and told by Sarah Perceval, and the accompanying music was written by Rosanna Lea and Caeli Lohr. In light of the 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world, the timing of this album couldn’t be better!
I managed to catch up with storyteller Sarah Perceval to find out more about this wonderful new album. 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
As the number of people getting online to learn more about the Baha’i Faith continues to grow, local Baha’i communities around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the importance and the advantages of having an online presence.
Here at Baha’i Blog we often get asked by our readers if there’s some way we can help them build a website for their local Baha’i community or their Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA), or if we know someone who can help them. Unfortunately we just don’t have the time ourselves, and we’re not always sure who to pass them on to, so we end up pointing them to this Baha’i Blog post about building a fast and free website… but happily now that’s about to change…
(Drum roll please!)
Introducing the Baha’i Web Five Year Plan Project!
I’m super happy to announce the release of MANA’s latest album Teaching the Cause, which is based on the passages found in the sixth book of the Ruhi sequence of books.
MANA is a Baha’i inspired music and cultural performance group made up of young Pacific Islanders (mainly based in Australia), and over the last 10 years they’ve been putting the passages found in the Ruhi sequence of books to music.
Teaching the Cause is MANA’s fifth album, and their catchy tunes make the memorization of the passages easy and fun. As with all of MANA’s albums, the songs are predominantly in English, but they’re infused with various Pacific Island languages, rhythms and chants, something MANA has become well known for.
Over the last 10 years I’ve had the privilege of being heavily involved with the group, and sadly, this will be MANA’s last album, as the members of MANA are busy with other Baha’i initiatives and the group has spread out even more geographically, making it logistically more and more difficult to work on an album. Continue reading