Sunday, March 29, 2009

Energizing Thoughts

Today, the start of the Persian New Year begins a two week period of celebration. In 1912, Abdu'l-Baha could not afford to take two weeks off from his efforts. He continued to share with residents of the United States information about the Baha'i Faith.

Here is a quote for Abdu'l-Baha. It shows how his thoughts provided him with the motivation to keep going.

".....Cleanse ye your eyes,
so that ye behold no man as different from yourselves.... See ye no strangers;
rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness...." Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahap. 23

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

When I Can't Read Thoughts

Last night I was watching a program on Persian satellite TV. It was a special about the Baha'i Faith. That program displayed a number of different pictures of Abdu'l-Baha. I could not, of course, know what thoughts Abdu'l-Baha was thinking while he was being photographed. I could, however, imagine that he might have had thoughts similar to those presented below:

"From the seed of reality,
religion has grown into a tree
which has put forth leaves and branches, blossoms and fruit. After a time this tree has fallen into a condition of decay.
The leaves and blossoms have withered and perished;
the tree has become stricken and fruitless.
It is not reasonable that man should hold to the old tree, claiming that its life forces are undiminished,
its fruit unequalled, its existence eternal.
The seed of reality must be sown again in human hearts
in order that a new tree may grow therefrom
and new divine fruits refresh the world."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith -
Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 226)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Thoughts on the Baha'i New Year

Yesterday I mentioned that the first day of spring was a special day for Abdu'l-Baha. March 21st, the day after the arrival of spring was also a special day for Abdu'l-Baha. March 21st is the date for the Baha'i New Year.

One hundred years ago, on March 21, 1909, Abdu'l-Baha fulfilled a promise that he had made to his father. Read what he did by going to this website:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thoughts on Spring

Today is the first day of spring. The arrival of spring held great significance for Abdu'l-Baha. Go to the following website to read his comments about this day:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thoughts on Peace

Before coming to the United States, Abdu'l-Baha spent some time visiting Europe. While he was in London, he followed his usaual practice of inviting questions at the conclusion of each talk. After a talk about peace, someone in the audience asked Abdu'l-Baha if he expected peace on earth to come all at once or gradually.

Abdu'l-Baha told that curious listener that peace on earth would probably come about gradually. Abdu'l-Baha then explained why he had made that prediction. He said "A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time." (quote taken from the book Abdu'l-Baha in London, page 106)

Apparently Abdu'l-Baha felt that the achievement of peace on earth would usher in a lasting peace.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thoughts on Greed

Tonight as I listened to the evening news I recalled a statement made by Abdu'l-Baha. Recent news reports have hightlighted the bonuses offered to executives at AIG, after that company received tax payer money. That act seems to underline a culture of greed.

Here is what Abdu'l-Baha said about greed:

"...greed, which is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it is used suitably. So if a man is greedy to acquire science and knowledge, or to become compassionate, generous and just, it is most praiseworthy. " (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)

Do you think that a greed for generosity, justice or compassion fueled the drive by AIG to provide its executives with larger bonuses? Do you think that AIG wanted to help its executives go after scientific, technological or financial knowledge? If I use Abdu'l-Baha's statement as a measure of AIG greed, I have to conclude that their greed was less than praiseworthy.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More thoughts on Women

In March of 1912, as the U.S. Cedric crossed the Atlantic Ocean, carrying Abdu'l-Baha and hundreds of other passengers, one of those passengers happened to speak with the traveler from Persia. That fellow traveler was Professor Brown, a man on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College.

Professor Brown told Abdu'l-Baha that he taught at an all female institution. Abdu'l-Baha was most impressed; Baha'is attach great importance to the education of women. Yet, that fact should not be interpretted as a condemnation of marriage. In fact, see below what Abdu'l-Baha as written about marriage:

"Wherefore, wed Thou in the heaven of Thy mercy these two birds of the nest of Thy love, and make them the means of attracting perpetual grace; that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life."Abdu'l-Baha, Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 105

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thoughts on Women's Day

Today, March 8,2009, is International Women's Day. I want to share with my readers a passage from my anthology story. It focuses in on Abdu'l-Baha's desire for the attainment of equal rights by women.

"Abdu’l-Baha had learned from other New Yorkers that the City had earlier played host to a suffrage advocacy group, a collection of women who were bold enough to parade their support for women’s rights out in public. Someone had even shown Abdu’l-Baha a picture of ten of these women, walking down one of New York’s streets, and carrying a sign emblazoned with the words:
Armed with such information, this true opportunist would surprise his audience with his knowledge, using his characteristic gesticulations to explain the Baha’i teachings on the equality of the sexes.

On another occasion Abdu’l-Baha met privately with Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society. During that meeting Abdu’l-Baha turned to Annie and said, 'Give me your reasons for believing that women should have the vote.'

Annie had replied, 'I believe that humanity is a divine humanity and that it must rise higher and higher, but it cannot soar with only one wing.'

Abdu’l-Baha was pleased with this answer, smiling as he came forth with another question: 'But what will you do if one wing is stronger that the other?'

Annie had an answer to this question as well. She stated firmly, 'Then we must strengthen the weaker wing, otherwise the flight will always be hampered.'

Abdu’l-Baha was so impressed by Annie’s answers that he later integrated her allegory into his own teachings. He declared that humanity could not fly unless it used both its wings, both men and women. "

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

When Are Thoughts "New"?

Last night on CNN's Larry King Program, the guest, Mr. Woodward, suggested that society needed to develop "new institutions." I contend that his suggestion points to a workable solution, but not a new solution.

In 1912, when Abdu'l-Baha walked off of the ship that had carried him to the United States, he told the reporters at the dock that he had come to usher in an era of "universal peace." Later he told those same reporters that he intended to lay the foundation for the "oneness of mankind."

Abdu'l-Baha knew that Baha'is could achieve those lofty goals by relying on the "out of the box," Baha'i institutions. Abdu'l-Baha made his statements well before creation of the United Nations.

The world now realizes that the mere creation of the U.N. did not insure the maintenance of peace in any part of the world. Today, the world is playing with new institutions, such as the appearance of small, community interfaith groups. I believe that our world leaders can learn more about the potential of new institutions by studying the activities of the non government organizations, many of which have representatives at the United Nations.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Loving Thoughts

A member of my online writers' group recently shared with us a quote from a book published in 1891. It was a collection of addresses made by Henry Drummond. That evangelist used talks and the print media to get his message to the public.

Here is a passage from the compilation that was published in 1891:

"Courtesy is Love in society, Love in relation to etiquette, "Love doth not behave itself unseemly." Politeness has been defined as love in trifles. Courtesy is said to be Love in little things. And the one secret of politeness is to love."

When Abdu'l-Baha came to the U.S. in 1912, he was most certainly courteous. Courtesy is an important part of the traditional Persian culture. I tried to depict in my anthology story a man who made a point of being courteous to strangers. He put a little bit of love into each comment and each action.