Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Great Granddaughter's Thoughts

In 1912, Abdu'l-Baha spent some time in Denver. He stayed in the home of a local Baha'i. Now I have received an email from the great granddaughter of Abdu'l-Baha's hostess, while he was in Denver.

Here is the statement that I found in my email:

"My most prized possession is an autographed photo of Abdu'l-Baha which was given me by my Grandmother, who received it from my Great Grandmother. I cannot give it up."

In that same email, the great granddaughter relates the story of a time when she wanted to display a picture of Abdu'l-Baha, but she did not have a picture to display. She drew her own picture, using the image that she had developed after hearing stories from her relatives. Friends told her that it was an excellent likeness.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Thoughts on Simple Chores

Today, on they have posted a poem by Emily Dickinson. In that poem Dickinson talks about the way in which simple labors can "hold our senses." This poem underscores the tie between Emily Dickinson and Abdu'l-Baha.

One day when Abdu'l-Baha was sweeping the entrance to one of the buildings in Haifa, someone asked him "What are you doing?"

Abdu'l-Baha said, "I am practising patience."

Now, those two statements do not represent the only connection betweeen Abdu'l-Baha and Emily Dickenson. Emily Dickenson spent a part of her life as a student at Mount Holyoke College. When Abdu'l-Baha was on a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, he met a professor from Mount Holyoke College.

That Professore told Abdu'l-Baha that he taught at an all female institution. Because Abdu'l-Baha prayed for equality of the sexes, he was pleased to hear about the education of young women at Mount Holyoke. Abdu'l-Baha promised to say prayers for that institution.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Thoughts that Look to the Future

Since the United States has watched the inauguration of its first African American President, a number of people have asked, "Where do we stand now on the issue of race relations?" They wonder of America has achieved the dream of Martin Luther King Jr.

Abdu'l-Baha had an answer for people with that question. Here is what he said:

"Therefore strive earnestly and put forth your greatest endeavor toward the accomplishment of this fellowship and the cementing of this bond of brotherhood between you. Such an attainment is not possible without will and effort on the part of each; from one, expressions of gratitude and appreciation; from the other kindliness and recognition of equality. Each one should endeavor to develop and assist the other toward mutual advancement. This is possible only by conjoining of effort and inclination. Love and unity will be fostered between you, thereby bringing about the oneness of mankind. For the accomplishment of unity between the colored and whites will be an assurance of the world's peace. Then racial prejudice, national prejudice, limited patriotism and religious bias will pass away and remain no longer. I am pleased to see you at this gathering, white and dark, and I praise God that I have had this opportunity of seeing you loving each other, for this is the means of the glory of humanity. This is the means of the good-pleasure of God and of eternal bliss in His kingdom. Therefore I pray in your behalf that you may attain to the fullest degree of love and that the day may come when all differences between you may disappear."

The above quote was taken from the book Baha'i World Faith page 267. The statement in last night's blog was also taken from that book.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Thoughts on the Past Week

This weekend, a good deal has been said about the momentous event that took place on Tuesday, January 20th. I have discovered a quote that reveals just how Abdu'l-Baha might have viewed the events tnat took filled this past week. Here is that quote:

"I am exceedingly glad that both white and colored people have gathered here and I hope the time will come when they shall live together in the utmost peace, unity and friendship. I wish to say one thing of importance to both in order that the white race may be just and kind to the colored and that the colored race may in turn be grateful and appreciative toward the white. The great proclamation of liberty and emancipation from slavery was made upon this continent. A long bloody war was fought by white men for the sake of colored people. These white men forfeited their possessions and sacrificed their lives by thousands in order that colored men might be freed from bondage. The colored population of the United States of America are possibly not fully informed of the wide-reaching effect of this freedom and emancipation upon their colored brethren in Asia and Africa where even more terrible conditions of slavery existed. Influenced and impelled by the example of the United States, the European powers proclaimed universal liberty to the colored race and slavery ceased to exist. This effort and accomplishment by the white nations should never be lost sight of. Both races should rejoice in gratitude, for the institution of liberty and equality here became the cause of liberating your fellow-beings elsewhere. The colored people of this country are especially fortunate, for, praise be to God! conditions here are so much higher than in the East and comparatively few differences exist in the possibility of equal attainments with the white race. May both develop toward the highest degree of equality and altruism. May you be drawn together in friendship and may extraordinary development make brotherhood a reality and truth. I pray in your behalf that there shall be no name other than that of humanity among you. For instance we say "a flock of doves," without mention or distinction as to white or black; we apply the name "horse," "deer," "gazelle" to other creatures, referring to species and not to their variance in color. It is my hope that through love and fellowship we may advance to such a degree of mutual recognition and estimate, that the oneness of the human world may be realized in each and all present in this meeting."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thoughts on Peace

Tonight, the local news in Los Angeles announced that a peace pole had been placed on the UCLA campus, More than 10 years ago, a peace pole was placed in the courtyard of the L.A. Baha'i Center.

Abdu'l-Baha spoke about peace the moment that he walked out of the ship, the ship that had carried him to America. He told the reporters that flocked around him that he had come in order to usher in an era of "universal peace," Then he said that he intended to lay the foundation for the "oneness of mankind."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prayerful Thoughts

This morning there was a National Prayer Service at the Cathedral in Washington D.C. After listening to the prayers said at that service, I have chosen to post the Prayer for America, a prayer written by Abdu'l-Baha. Here is that prayer:

O kind Lord! This gathering is turning to Thee. These hearts are radiant with Thy love. These minds and spirits are exhiliarated by the message of Thy glad tidings. O God, let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees, even as it has aspired to material degrees, and render this just goverment victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become theregby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the Worlds of God. This American nation is worthy of Thy favors and deserving of Thy mercy. Make it precious and near to Thee through Thy bounty and bestowal.---Abdu'l-Baha

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Thought to Guide Performance of Service

Yesterday, hundreds of thousands of people listened to a concert at the Lincoln Memorial. The theme for that concert was "We Are One." Today many of those who enjoyed that concert took part in a day of service.

Abdu'l-Baha has some advice for those who want to perform a service, while also following the call of "We are one." Abdu'l-Baha gave his advice to those who had chosen to follow the work of God. Abdu'l-Baha has said that those who arise to God's calling, and who decide to perform a service, can choose to act in one of two ways.

They can, he says act like a flower in a garden, a garden filled with many lovely flowers. Alternatively, they can behave like a ray of the sun. Abdu'l-Baha has said, "I hope that your relationship [to God]will be of the second kind." (To be like a ray of the sun)

Now if you are performing an act of service, then you want to provide some help, some guidance. You need to give, rather than take. A ray of the sun gives light. A lovely flower in a garden takes water and nutrients from the soil. Moreover, a ray of sun works in tandem with all the other rays of sun. A loveley flower might be seen as competing for the attention of others.

Although Abdu'l-Baha delivered his short message almost 100 years ago, his words have relevance to what is taking place in America in 2009.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another Thought about Service

Yesterday I posted a statement made by Adul'-Baha, a statement about service. Today I am posting another statement by Abdu'l-Baha. This second statement shares more of Abdu'l-Baha's thoughts on service.

If thou seekest eternal glory; let thyself be humble and meek in thepresence of the beloved of God; make thyself the servant of all, andserve all alike. The service of the friends belong to God, not to them.Strive to become a source of harmony, spirituality and joyfulness tothe hearts of the friends and the maid-servants of the Merciful. Thisis a Cause of great satisfaction. - Abdu'l - Baha

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Short Thought Relating to Service

Monday, January 19, 2009 has been designated a "day of service." In that spirit, I want to share with my readers a few quotes by Abdu'l-Baha, quotes that share Abdu'l-Baha's commitment to service. I will post one short quote today, and a couple short quotes tomorrow. On Monday I will post a long story that touches on the idea of service.

Here is the quote for today:

"Desire and self come in the door And blot out virtue, bright before, And a hundred veils will rise From the heart, to blind the eyes." Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilizationp. 63

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts that Rekate to Tolerance

I just sent the address for this blog to someone who is writing about virtues, and teaching such virtues to children. At the present time, that writer is focusing on the virtue of tolerance.

I have selected a statement by Abdu'l-Baha that reflects his own views on tolerance. Here is that statement:

"Let us put aside all thoughts of self. Let us close our eyes to all on earth. Let us neither make known our sufferings nor complain of our wrongs. Rather let us become oblivious of our own selves, and drinking down the wine of heavenly grace, let us cry out our joy, and lose ourselves in the beauty of the All-Glorious."

The above passage was taken from the book Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha

Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Awareness of Thoughts

Today, January 11, 2009, is National Human Trafficking Awarness Day. Those who prey upon the weak can cause great suffering. Abdu'l-Baha wrote a prayer that speaks about such suffering. Here is that prayer:

"Love One another. Look at me. I am feeble, yet I have had the strength given me to come amongst you; a poor servant of God, who has been enabled to give you this message! I shall not be with you long! One must never consider one's own feebleness; (it is the strienth of the Holy Spirit of Love, which gives the power to teach). The thought of our own weakness could only bring despair. We must look higher than all earthly thoughts; detach ourselves from every materail idea, crave for the things of the spirit, fix our eye on the everlasting bountiful Mercy of the Almighty, who will fill our souls with the gradness of joyful service to His command."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Site Where Thoughts Formed

Today, I found online a piture of the home where Abdu'l-Baha stayed when he was visiting Green Acre. Here is the link to that picture:

I was in the room where Abdu'l-Baha stayed. After I left that room and that house, I wandered down to the nearby river. I tried to imagine what thoughts Abdu'l-Baha might have had as he strode along beside that river.

Sue Chehrenegar

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thoughts on Winter

During this the first full week of January, as the days begin to have a bit more daylight, I want to talk about how the Persians celebrate the first day of Winter (The Longest Night). They spend the night enjoying music, fruit and nuts. This is a tradition that has been going on for centuries.

Here is a quote of Abdu'l-Baha that was taken from "The Baha'i World Faith," page 255.

"...and so the season of winter fell upon mankind. But in the generosity of God a new springtime dawned, the lights of God shone forth, the effulgent Sun of Reality returned and became manifest, the realm of thoughts and kingdom of hearts became exhilarated, a new spirit of life breathed into the body of the world and continuous advancement became apparent."

As can be seen from this quote, Abdu'l-Baha had come to attach some significance to the start of Winter. I want my readers to be aware of that fact, because the Associated Press has distributed some misleading information about The Longest Night.

According to an article that was distributed by the Associated Press, members of the Jewish Faith, the Christian Faith, the Muslim Faith and praciticing Zorastrians all celebrate the Longest Night. The AP did not mention the Baha'is. Yet Abdu'l-Baha, a respected member of the Baha'i community most certainly gave a nod of recognition to the Longest Night.

I hope that any readers of this blog who happen to read about the Longest Night will fill in the "blank" that has been left by any writer who has failed to mention the fact that Baha'is, as well as Christians, Jews, Muslims and Zorastrians, all celebrate the arrival of Winter.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Thoughts for the Maker of Resoultions

As I think about what New Year's resolutions I would like to make, I want to keep in mind some statements made by Abdu'l-Baha. Hers are those statements:

O ye friends of God!
Be kind to all peoples and nations,
have love for all of them,
exert yourselves to purify the hearts as much as you can,
........and bestow abundant effort in rejoicing the souls.

Be ye a sprinkling of rain to every meadow
.......and a water of life to every tree.
Be ye as fragrant musk to every nostril and a soul-refreshing breeze to every invalid.
Be ye salutary water to every thirsty one,
a wise guide to every one led astray,
an affectionate father or mother to every orphan,
.........and, in the utmost joy and fragrance,..............
a son or daughter to every one bent with age.