Sunday, May 31, 2009

thoughts about unity and peace

One week ago, on the eve of Memorial Day, a commentator on one national TV network expressed a desire for a "program" for world peace. He suggested that a new religion might furnish the world with such a program.

On May 31, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha suggested a route by which the world could find peace. Here is part of the talk that he gave that day:

"Is it impossible for us to receive the infinite bounties of God? Is it impossible to attain the virtues of the spiritual world because we are not living in the time of Moses, the period of the prophets or the era of Christ? Those were spiritual cycles. Can we not develop spiritually because we are far from them and are living in a materialistic age? The God of Moses and Jesus is able to bestow the same favors, nay, greater favors upon His people in this day. For example, in past ages He bestowed reason, intelligence and understanding upon His servants. Can we say He is not able to confer His bounties in this century? Would it be just if He sent Moses for the guidance of past nations and entirely neglected those living now? Could it be possible that this present period has been deprived of divine bounties while past ages of tyranny and barbarism received an inexhaustible portion of them? The same merciful God Who bestowed His favors in the past has opened the doors of His Kingdom to us. The rays of His sun are shining; the breath of the Holy Spirit is quickening. That omniscient God still assists and confirms us, illumines our hearts, gladdens our souls and perfumes our nostrils with the fragrances of holiness. Divine wisdom and providence have encircled all and spread the heavenly table before us. We must take a bountiful share of this generous favor.
The work of the shepherd is to bring together the scattered sheep. If he disperses the united flock, he is not the shepherd. As the Prophets fulfilled Their mission in this respect, They are the true Shepherds. When Moses appeared, the Israelitish people were disorganized. Enmity and discord increased their disunion. With divine power He assembled and united this scattered flock, placed within their hearts the pearl of love, freed them from captivity and led them out of Egypt into the Holy Land. They made wonderful progress in sciences and arts. Bonds of social and national strength cemented them. Their progress in human virtues was so rapid and wonderful that they rose to the zenith of the Solomonic sovereignty. Could it be said that Moses was not a real Shepherd and that He did not gather these scattered people together?
Christ was a real Shepherd. At the time of His manifestation, the Greeks, Romans, Assyrians and Egyptians were like so many scattered flocks. Christ breathed upon them the spirit of unity and harmonized them.
Therefore, it is evident that the Prophets of God have come to unite the children of men and not to disperse them, to establish the 163 law of love and not enmity. Consequently, we must lay aside all prejudice—whether it be religious, racial, political or patriotic; we must become the cause of the unification of the human race. Strive for universal peace, seek the means of love, and destroy the basis of disagreement so that this material world may become divine, the world of matter become the realm of the Kingdom and humanity attain to the world of perfection."

The above material comes from the book "The Promulgation of Universal Peace. "

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thoughts Stirred by a Memory

On the night of May 28, 1912 and in the early morning hours of May 29, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha could not overlook the fact that his own father had departed from this world at 3 am on May 29, 1992.

Here is a passage that Abdu'l-Baha is sure to have read during the course of that night:

Be not dismayed, O peoples of the world, when the day-star of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are with you at all times, and shall strengthen you through the power of truth.
—Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p.137

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Are These Trvial Thoughts?

Today I want to pose a trivia question. It is a question that relates to the material in my anthology story. Here is my question: What do LifeSaver Candies and Superman have in common?

They both come from the City of Cleveland, OH. LifeSaver Candies were invented in Cleveland,and Superman was created in Cleveland. Cleveland's baseball stadium was the location in which Babe Ruth hit his history making, 500th home run.

All of those facts would be of interest to a young boy. The fictional characters in my anthology story would have loved discussing similar facts. I am introducing those facts in order to demonstrate my ability to identify with the characters in my anthology story.

Are These

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thoughts on a Muted Birthday

On May 19, 2009, I put this question on my blog: "My friend has a birthday coming up. How can I demonstrate consideration to my friend on that special day?" I was suggesting a possible question for submission to

Why did I think that someone might submit such a question to the writers at factoidz? I had that thought because I have answered other questions about the developement of virtues. I wrote one article about encouraging a child to overcome night fears. I wrote other articles that were intended to help someone who needed to develop a more enthusiastic approach to llife.

Today I want to talk about the idea of giving a friend an added amount of considertion on his or her birthday. I am writing about that today, because this is the date of Abdu'l-Baha's birthday. Now, I want to make it clear that Abdu'l-Baha did NOT want friends to throw him a big party on his birthday.

Today is also a Baha'i Holy Day. For that reason, Abdu'l-Baha wanted his friends and family to take part in the planned celebrations for this day. He was pleased to find that his birthday had been given little consideration.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts on a friend's birthday

I wonder if anyone has sent this question to "My friend has a birthday coming up. How can I demonstrate consideration to my friend on that special day?"

If they ever got that question, or if they ever receive that question in the future, I want to make it clear that my blog will post one answer to that question on May 23, 2009. My answer will take the form of a story, a story in which the actions of Abdu'l-Baha provide the answer.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thoughts on Peace

On May 14, 1912, some of the residents of New York City were pondering the meaning of a talk that had been given at the Hotel Astor on May 13, 1912. Abdu'l-Baha had presented that talk. Here is one paragraph from his presentation:

"Today there is no greater glory for man than that of service in the cause of the Most Great Peace. Peace is light, whereas war is darkness. Peace is life; war is death. Peace is guidance; war is error. Peace is the foundation of God; war is a satanic institution. Peace is the illumination of the world of humanity; war is the destroyer of human foundations. When we consider outcomes in the world of existence, we find that peace and fellowship are factors of upbuilding and betterment, whereas war and strife are the causes of destruction and disintegration. All created things are expressions of the affinity and cohesion of elementary substances, and nonexistence is the absence of their attraction and agreement. Various elements unite harmoniously in composition, but when these elements become discordant, repelling each other, decomposition and nonexistence result. Everything partakes of this nature and is subject to this principle, for the creative foundation in all its degrees and kingdoms is an expression or outcome of love. Consider the restlessness and agitation of the human world today because of war. Peace is health and construction; war is disease and dissolution. When the banner of truth is raised, peace becomes the cause of the welfare and advancement of the human world. In all cycles and ages war has been a factor of derangement and discomfort, whereas peace and brotherhood have brought security and consideration of human interests. This distinction is especially pronounced in the present world conditions, for warfare in former centuries had not attained the degree of savagery and destructiveness which now characterizes it. If two nations were at war in olden times, ten or twenty thousand would be sacrificed, but in this century 124 the destruction of one hundred thousand lives in a day is quite possible. So perfected has the science of killing become and so efficient the means and instruments of its accomplishment that a whole nation can be obliterated in a short time. Therefore, comparison with the methods and results of ancient warfare is out of the question. "

The above paragraph can be found in the book "The Promulgation of Universal Peace."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts for Mother's Day

Today, I am going to post a few lines from a prayer, a prayer written by Abu'l-Baha:

"... confer upon me thoughts which may change this world into a rose garden through the outpourings of heavenly grace." 'Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i Prayers (U.S., 1982 edition, p. 72).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spiritually Minded Thoughts

On May 6, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha was in Cleveland. His talk that night reveals the enthusiasm that remained with Abdu'l-Baha during his entire journey across the U.S. Here are two paragraphs from the talk that he gave that night;

"This is a very joyous evening, an evidence in itself of the possibility of uniting the East and the West—an eastern man appearing before an assemblage of reverent western people. The East and West, the Orient and Occident, shall be united. If we search history, we shall not find the record of such an occasion where one has traveled from the far East to the far West to address a meeting of this universal character. This is a miracle of the twentieth century which proves that the seemingly impossible may become real and possible in the kingdom of man. Praise be to God! The dark ages have disappeared, and the age of light has at last arrived. The Sun of Reality has dawned with supreme effulgence, the realities of things have become manifest and renewed, the mysteries of the unknown have been revealed, and great inventions and discoveries mark this period as a most wonderful age.
Through the ingenuity and inventions of man it is possible to cross the wide oceans, fly through the air and travel in submarine depths. At any moment the Orient and Occident can communicate with each other. Trains speed across the continents. The human voice has been arrested and reproduced, and now man can speak at long distances from any point. These are some of the signs of this glorious century. The great progress mentioned has taken place in the material world. Remarkable signs and evidences have become manifest. Hidden realities and mysteries have been disclosed. This is the time for man to strive and put forth his greatest efforts in spiritual directions. Material civilization has reached an advanced plane, but now there is need of spiritual civilization. Material civilization alone will not satisfy; it cannot meet the conditions and requirements of the present age; its benefits are limited to the world of matter. There is no limitation to the spirit of man, for spirit in itself is progressive, and if the divine civilization be established, the spirit of man will advance. Every developed susceptibility will increase the effectiveness of man. Discoveries of the real will become more and more possible, and the influence of divine guidance will be increasingly recognized. All this is conducive to the divine form of civilization."

The above passage can be found in the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Thoughts

May 3, 1912 did not fall on a Sunday. Nevertheless, Abdu'l-Baha wanted to include in the talk that he gave that day some information that could cause the ears of Christians in the audience to "tune in." Here are two paragraphs from a talk that Abdu'l-Baha gave on that day:

"Jesus Christ was an Educator of humanity. His teachings were altruistic; His bestowal, universal. He taught mankind by the power of the Holy Spirit and not through human agency, for the human power is limited, whereas the divine power is illimitable and infinite. The influence and accomplishment of Christ will attest this. Galen, the Greek physician and philosopher who lived in the second century A.D., wrote a treatise upon the civilization of nations. He was not a Christian, but he bore testimony that religious beliefs exercise an extraordinary effect upon the problems of civilization. In substance he said, “There are certain people among us, followers of Jesus, the Nazarene, who was killed in Jerusalem. These people are truly imbued with moral principles which are the envy of philosophers. They believe in God and fear Him. They have hopes in His favors; therefore, they shun all unworthy deeds and actions and incline to praiseworthy ethics and morals. Day and night they strive that their deeds may be commendable and that they may contribute to the welfare of humanity; therefore, each one of them is virtually a philosopher, for these people have attained unto that which is the essence and purport of philosophy. These people have praiseworthy morals, even though they may be illiterate.”
The purpose of this is to show that the holy Manifestations of God, the divine Prophets, are the first Teachers of the human race. They are universal Educators, and the fundamental principles they have laid down are the causes and factors of the advancement of nations. Forms and imitations which creep in afterward are not conducive to that progress. On the contrary, these are destroyers of human foundations established by the heavenly Educators. These are clouds which obscure the Sun of Reality. If you reflect upon the essential teachings of Jesus, you will realize that they are the light of the world. Nobody can question their truth. They are the very source of life and the cause of happiness to the human race. The forms and superstitions which appeared and obscured the light did not affect the reality of Christ. For example, Jesus Christ said, “Put up thy sword into the sheath.” The meaning is that warfare is forbidden and abrogated; but consider the Christian wars which took place afterward. Christian hostility and inquisition spared not even the learned; he who proclaimed the revolution of the earth was imprisoned; he who announced the new astronomical system was persecuted as a heretic; scholars and scientists became objects of fanatical hatred, and many were killed and tortured. How do these actions conform with the teachings of Jesus Christ, and what relation do they bear to His own example? For Christ declared, “Love your enemies, … and pray for them which … persecute you; that you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” How can hatred, hostility and persecution be reconciled with Christ and His teachings? "

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Thoughts on the Potential of Mankind

On May 2, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha spoke to a Federation of Women, a group gathered together in Chicago, Illinois. Here are the first two paragraphls from his talk:

"One of the functions of the sun is to quicken and reveal the hidden realities of the kingdoms of existence. Through the light and heat of the great central luminary, all that is potential in the earth is awakened and comes forth into the realm of the visible. The fruit hidden in the tree appears upon its branches in response to the power of the sun; man and all other organisms live, move and have their being under its developing rays; nature is resplendent with countless evolutionary forms through its pervading impulse—so that we can say a function of the sun is the revelation of the mysteries and creative purposes hidden within the phenomenal world.
The outer sun is a sign or symbol of the inner and ideal Sun of Truth, the Word of God. Inasmuch as this is the century of light, it is evident that the Sun of Reality, the Word, has revealed itself to all humankind. One of the potentialities hidden in the realm of humanity was the capability or capacity of womanhood. Through the effulgent rays of divine illumination the capacity of woman has become so awakened and manifest in this age that equality of man and woman is an established fact. In past ages woman was wronged and oppressed. This was especially the case in Asia and Africa. In certain parts of Asia women were not considered as members of humankind. They were looked upon as inferior, unworthy creatures, subordinate and subject to man. A certain people known as the Nusayris held to the belief for a long period that woman was the incarnation of the evil spirit, or Satan, and that man alone was the manifestation of God, the Merciful. At last this century of light dawned, the realities shone forth, and the mysteries long hidden from human vision were revealed. Among these revealed realities was the great principle of the equality of man and woman, which is now finding recognition throughout the whole world—America, Europe and the Orient. "

Friday, May 1, 2009

Thoughts on a Dedication

On May 1, 1912, a group of Baha'is gathered for dedication of the land on which a new Baha'i Temple would be constructed. Below you will find the brief talk that Abdu'l-Baha gave at that dedication ceremony. Please note that when referring to the planned Baha'i Temple, he uses the Persian term for that structure.

"The power which has gathered you here today notwithstanding the cold and windy weather is, indeed, mighty and wonderful. It is the power of God, the divine favor of Bahá’u’lláh which has drawn you together. We praise God that through His constraining love human souls are assembled and associated in this way.
Thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, dawning points of praise and mention of God for all religionists will be built in the East and in the West, but this, being the first one erected in the Occident, has great importance. In the future there will be many here and elsewhere—in Asia, Europe, even in Africa, New Zealand and Australia—but this edifice in Chicago is of especial significance. It has the same importance as the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Ishqábád, Caucasus, Russia, the first one built there. In Persia there are many; some are houses which have been utilized for the purpose, others are homes entirely devoted to the divine Cause, and in some places temporary structures have been erected. In all the cities of Persia there are Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs, but the great dawning point was founded in Ishqábád. It possesses superlative importance because it was the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár built. All the Bahá’í friends agreed and contributed their utmost assistance and effort. The Afnán devoted his wealth, gave all he had to it. From such a mighty and combined effort a beautiful edifice arose. Notwithstanding their contributions to that building, they have assisted the fund here in Chicago as well. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Ishqábád is almost completed. It is centrally located, nine avenues leading into it, nine gardens, nine fountains; all the arrangement and construction is according to the principle and proportion of the number nine. It is like a beautiful bouquet. Imagine a very lofty, imposing edifice surrounded completely by gardens of variegated flowers, with nine avenues leading through them, nine fountains and pools of water. Such is its matchless, beautiful design. Now they are building a hospital, a school for orphans, a home for cripples, a hospice and a large dispensary. God willing, when it is fully completed, it will be a paradise.
I hope the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár in Chicago will be like this. Endeavor to have the grounds circular in shape. If possible, adjust and exchange the plots in order to make the dimensions and boundaries circular. The Mashriqu’l-Adhkár cannot be triangular in shape. It must be in the form of a circle. "