Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thoughts on a Memorial Service

Today, a group of Baha'is from southern California gathered at the gravesite of Thorton Chase, one of the first American Baha'is. That gravesite is located at a cemetery in Inglewood, CA. Abdu'l-Baha was well on his way to California on September 27, 1912. Below you will find part of a talk that he gave on Sept. 25, 1912, when he set aside time to give a talk to an audience in Denver:

The purpose of all the divine religions is the establishment of the bonds of love and fellowship among men, and the heavenly phenomena of the revealed Word of God are intended to be a source of knowledge and illumination to humanity. So long as man persists in his adherence to ancestral forms and imitation of obsolete ceremonials, denying higher revelations of the divine light in the world, strife and contention will destroy the purpose of religion and make love and fellowship impossible. Each of the holy Manifestations announced the glad tidings of His successor, and each One confirmed the message of His predecessor. Therefore, inasmuch as They were agreed and united in purpose and teaching, it is incumbent upon Their followers to be likewise unified in love and spiritual fellowship. In no other way will discord and alienation disappear and the oneness of the world of humanity be established.

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

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thoughts on Peace and Unity

On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, the TV news was full of reports about speeches at the UN. At the same time, a number of people offered on the air opinions about how well the UN has contributed to the advancement of peace and unity.

In 1912, long before there was a UN in New York City, Abdu'l-Baha arrived in New York, and he brought with him a message of peace and unity. In fact, when asked by reporters why he had come to the United States, Abdu'l-Baha told them that he had journeyed to the U.S. in order to open the door to a "universal peace." He then followed that bold statement by saying that he intended to lay the foundation of the "oneness of mankind."

During the 8 plus months that Abdu'l-Baha spent in the United States, he continued to focus on this same message--a message about the world's need for unity and peace. Since Abdu'l-Baha could not present a talk at the UN, he traveled all over the U.S. giving talks before those groups that showed an interest in promoting peace and unity.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thoughts on Cross Cultural Competence

Yesterday I received an email from another Baha'i writer. That Baha'i used the term "cultural competence." When I read that term, I go thinking about the cultural competence of Abdu'l-Baha.

Before coming to the United States, Abdu'l-Baha had developed an acute cultural awareness and a sound cultural knowledge. With those capabilities as a foundation, Abdu'l-Baha had managed to form a noteworthy cultural sensitivity. During his visit to Europe and the United States, Abdu'l-Baha displayed the degree to which he had progressed beyond cultural sensitivity.

During his visit to the United States, Abdu'l-Baha took in huge amounts of information. He allowed that information to transform his cultural sensitivity. He directed his efforts towards transforming his cultural sensitivity into a sort of "cultural synergy," a quality of the spirit, one that can be found in all those who have developed cultural competence.

Abdu'l-Baha made use of his cultural competence, allowing it to become an energizing force in his life.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Thought Provoking Timeline

Here is a link to a website with a thought provoking timeline: This timeline for events within the Baha'i Faith reveals how advances in the Faith took place in time with important world events.

Note the two events that happened on May 23 of 1844. The justaposition of those two events should certain give rise to some deep thinking.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Thoughts on Cooperation and Teamwork

I just received an email from a member of the online Baha'i writers group to which I belong. That email contained some thought provoking words from Abdu'l-Baha. Here is the quote from that email-- a quote that really got me thinking:

"Through solidarity. In some animals mutual co-operation is frequently seen;when in time of danger, each will try to surpass the others in help. One dayas I was standing near the border of a little stream on Mt. Carmel, Inoticed a number of locusts that had not yet developed full wings."These insects wishing to pass from my side of the stream to the other inorder to procure some food, threw themselves forward, each one trying toemulate the other in flinging itself into the water, so that a bridge wasformed in order that the others might pass over and this was accomplished; yet those who gave themselves as a bridge finally perished.Consider how much solidarity makes for life as compared to the fighting forself interest which destroys it." (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 187)

I am not suggesting that each of us has to sacrifice some of our time on this earth in order to contribute to the betterment of society. Still, the above quote implies that each person should be willing to offer up at least a small sacrifice.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thoughts About an Archived Item

Last night, when I went to a special anniversary celebration at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center, I had a chance to view a collection of archived items. One item on display was the hand woven gown worn by Abdu'l-Baha. One could see, by looking at that gown just how short in stature Abdu'l-Baha was. Still, many people referred to him as "the Master."

Abdu'l-Baha displayed well the virtue that I repeatedly struggle to develop, the virtue of assertiveness. He knew how to project his voice without assuming an agressive stance. He understood how to go about making his point to others. He could get others to listen to him, even when he did not share speak their language.

Thorton Chase, one of the first American Baha'is, and a resident of Los Angeles had looked forward to seeing Abdu'l-Baha during the Master's visit to the United States. Unfortunately, he died just days before Abdu'l-Baha arrived on the west coast. After hearing about the passing of Thorton Chase, Abdu'l-Baha traveled down to Inglewood, so that he could attend the funeral.

Abdu'l-Baha encouraged the Baha'is of Los Angeles to hold a memoraial service every year at the gravesite of Thorton Chase. I plan to attend such a service this year on Sunday, Sept. 27th.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thoughts on Coming Celebration

A couple days ago, I wrote that I would be attending an anniversary celebration on Sept. 9, 2009. I also wrote that the first Los Angeles Assembly had been formed on Sept. 9, 1909. I must correct my mistake.

On that date, there was a Baha'i activity taking place in Los Angeles. Baha'is in Los Angeles began hosting activities in their homes during the year of 1909. In 1910 the Baha'is in Los Angeles formed their first Local Spiritual Assembly, the administrative body for the local Baha'i community.

Today I got a picture taken in 1916. It showed about 25 Baha'is outside, at some sort of picnic. The women wore long dresses and hats.

While the attire of Baha'is have changed during the past century, their beliefs and ideals have not.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thoughts on Future Plans

Last night I received notice of a special celebration on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009. At the Los Angeles Baha'i Center they will celebrate the 100th year anniversary for the founding of the Los Angeles Spiritual Assembly. That notice indicates that nine or more Baha'is were living in Los Angeles in 1909, three years before Abdu'l-Baha came to the United States.

Abdu'l-Baha got down to southern California during his visit. He stopped at the graveside of Thorton Chase, the first American Baha'i. That graveside is in an Inglewood cemetary. There is a special service at that graveside every September.

I plan to attend both the anniversary celebration at the L.A. Baha'i Center and the graveside service in Inglewood. I will reflect on both later, here on my blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thoughts on Communicating a Spirit

Recently, I have been watching a number of movies with my husband. The actors in those movies speak Farsi, and many of the movies have no English subtitles. Although I have only a rudimentary understanding of Farsi, there are certain scenes that I understand, without any translation. The spirit of the scene makes the words clear.

Aparently Abdu'l-Baha had the ability to communicate with others by conveying the spirit of whatever he intended to say. A Baha'i writer with whom I correspond by email has told me about a time when Abdu'l-Baha was speaking here in the United States. He was of course speaking in Farsi, and he had to pause periodically, so that his words could be translted into English.

Apparenty, one American in the audience was quite annoyed by the constant interuptions. He could understand what Abdu'l-Baha had said, even before it had been translated into English. Abdu'l-Baha had managed to convey the spirit and emotion of whatever topic he had planned to address.

I am trying to learn the source of this story. I have been told that it was probably shared by a speaker at a conference in San Francisco. I will seek to confirm that fact.