Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tjoughts on Entering an Event

In my last blog entry, I indicated that I was going to write about how Abdu'l-Baha would be expected to respond, when entering a party. What would he notice?

Well, back in 1912, Abdu'l-Baha did get invited to a dinner in New York City. While walking to the place of that dinner, Abdu'l-Baha noticed that the hosts had obtained a special bowl. They had filled it with water, so that their guest could wash his hands in that bowl.

Being a humble man, Abdu'l-Baha did not like that idea. He ducked into a small bathroom and washed his hands there. Then when he got to the dinner, he explained that he had just cleaned his hands, and he invited the other guests to use the water in the beautiful bowl.

Sue Chehrenegar

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thoughts on New Ideas

What did Abdu'l-Baha think about new ideas? As a writer who has made Abdu'l-Baha the main character in one of my stories, I should have an answer to that question. Abdu'l-Baha invited the contribution of new ideas and new information. In fact, he liked to demonstate his awarness of such information. He would often include mention of newly discovered facts in his talks.

Abdu'l-Baha believed that God wanted man to "bring forward an ever advancing civilization." That is why he applauded announcement of previously unmentioned ideas and previously undiscovered information. By the same token, he encouraged all thinkers and inventors to come up with peaceful and humane ways to utilize any new invention.

The above two paragrahps focus on the second of nine questions that the editor of Writers Digest thinks each writer should ask about his or her main character. The third question is this: When you walk into a party, what do you notice first? In my next blog entry, I will use a story about Abdu'l-Baha to answer that question.

Sue Chehrenegar

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thoughts on My Cheracter

Abdu'l-Baha is the main character in my anthology story. A newsletter that I just received from Writer's Digest encourages writers to have their main character answer nine different questions. I am going to present those questions here in my blog, and then give an answer that would match with the lifestyle of Abdu'l=Baha.

This is the first question: "How do you learn best?"

As the character Adu'l-Baha I learn best by communing with God. I pray frequently throughout each day. While in prayer, I am focused on the messages that God has sent to us through his various manifestations. Those messages help me to discover a solution to any problem.

Now I do not overlook written information about new scientfic findings. I read that material as well. However, I try to match what I read in present day publications with what I read in the Scriptures and other Holy books.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thoughts on Adversity

I just wrote a short essay, in response to this question: "How do you overcome adversity." I drew heavily from the writings of Abdu'l-Baha. My essay should appear among the comments on this web site:

Sue Chehrenegar

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Thoughts on a Documentary

Yesterday I read about a new documentary that was created by two young filmmakers. They had been asked to use the movie camera as a way to look at Los Angeles through the eyes of scriptures. In response, they made the film called "Finding God in the City of the Angels."

What impressed me most about their film is what they had discovered while making it. One of the filmmakers, Jennifer Jessum said this to an reporter from the Los Angeles Times: "[Each of the faith groups] had different names to idenify things, but they were saying the same thing. Everbody had something about being good to other people."

In my work with various religious groups, I have found that each of the world's faiths has something similar to the golden rule. Jessum's observation confirmed my own realization.

I enjoyed the one comment made by Simon Joseph, the other member of the filmmaking pair. Joseph said, "It was a tightrope to walk between unity and diversity." Back in the summer of 1990, I taught a one week course on unity and diversity at a Bah'ai summer school in Los Angeles. I recall trying to explain the concept of unity and diversity to five and six year olds.

I remember taking them out on the parking lot and letting them play with bubbles. I talked about how every bubble was different, but every bubble came from the same soap and water solution. I wonder if any of those children, now 25 and 26 will view this new documentary.

Sue Chehrenegar

Monday, June 7, 2010

Thoutghts about a Video

Yesterday a friend of mine sent me this link:

After I viewed this I wanted to share it with all my readers. This clip was shot in 1906 from a cable car in San Francisco. Since Abdu'l-Baha visited San Francisco in 1912, I feel that this clip provides a sense of what he saw there.

We are fortunate to have this clip, which was taken just four days before the big earthquake of 1906. The film had been sent to New York for processing.

Sue Chehrenegar

Monday, May 31, 2010

Thoughts about a Controversy

Today a lot of questions are being raised about Israel's decision to attack a Turkish ship, a ship headed towards the Gaza Strip. This blogger does not plan to take sides in that controversy. She does, however, plan to write about another time when a Turkish ship visited the land that we now call Israel.

This took place in the early part of the 20th Century, when that land was called Palestine. Abdu'l-Baha and his family lived across the bay from Palestine. Turkish authorities heard that Abdu'l-Baha had purchased some land in northern Palestine, and was building some momuments to the Baha'i Faith on his land.

The Turkish government sent a ship to examine what changes had been made on Palestinian soil. After making their inspection, the ship headed back across the bay. Abdu'l-Baha's friends and family were afraid that the Turkish authorities would put Abdu'l-Baha under arrest.

Abdu'l-Baha went to his room and prayed. Eventually the ship changed course, and headed back to Turkey. An incident in Turkey demanded the attention of the men on board the ship. They abandoned their plan to confront Abdu'l-Baha. Today Baha'i buildings and monuments add to the beauty of Haifa, Israel.

Sue Chehrenegar

Monday, May 24, 2010

Thoughts on an International Order

On Saturday, May 22, 2010, when speaking to graduates at West Point, President Obama talked about creation of an "international order. " He envisioned that entity as something that could do more than fight battles. He saw it as a way to help the world to deal with economic and environmental problems.

The concept of an international order is not much different from the World Order that Abdu'l-Baha spoke and wrote about. In fact, the Baha'i administrative bodies are designed to foster cooperation, because each of those bodies consists of nine people. Those nine people are supposed to get together and tackle community problems.

On a local level, they are supposed to focus on local issues; on a national level, they should address national problems; and on an international level they are expected to study all of the challenges that face people everywhere in the world.

Sue Chehrenegar

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Thoughts on a Few Words

Today I was reading about some of the words that came into the English language during the first decade of the 20th Century, the decade preceding Abdu'l-Baha's trip to the United States.
One word on the list that stood out in my mind was the word "pussyfoot."

Did some people "pussyfoot" around the issue in the early part of the 20th Century? If so, Abdu'l-Baha certainly did not follow their example. When reporters asked him why he had come to the United States, he made it clear that he saw his trip as a way to encourage movement of society, and indeed the whole world towards a more united, a more peaceful civilization.

The word "muckracker" also come into use during the first decade of the 20th Century. While muckrackers focused on the horrible aspects of the situation that they wanted to change, Abdu'l-Baha would only touch on the "evil" associated with any given practice. He would then introduce his vision for the future, one in which the objectionable behavior or system had no place.

Abdu'l-Baha took no sides in the argument between those that opposed to a state religion and those who objected to such opposition. Instead he spoke about the unity of all religions. Reporters who covered Abdu'l-Baha never had to struggle with including the words disestablishmentarianism or antidisestablishmentarianism in any of their articles.

Sue Chehrenegar

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Follow-up to Friday's Thoughts

On Friday, May 14, I posted what I called "Thoughts for Friends." I directed my thoughts and prayers at the seven Baha'is who are in a prison cell, in Iran. Today I have had a chance to read about other thoughts on that same group. Some of those thoughts were aired publicly on May 14, when various Baha'i communities marked the passing of two years since the arrest of those seven innocent Baha'is.

A number of non-Baha'is joined with the Baha'i community, in marking that sad anniversary. I encourage the readers of this blog to read about the many related events that took place on May 14, 2010.

Readers who would like to read comments from well known figures should click onto this site:

Readers who wanted to become more familiar with the degree to which Baha'is have been persecuted by the government of Iran should click onto this site:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thoughts for Friends

Today, the Universal House of Justice has asked Baha'is around the world to pray for the "Yaran," the seven Baha'i Friends who are in a prison cell, in Iran. I have found two passages from the writings of Abdu'l-Baha that I feel represent a proper way to honor the sacrifice made by those 7 people. Here are those quotes:

"Ye are the anges, if your feet be firm, your spirits rejoiced, yur secret thoughts pure, your eyes consuled, your ears opened, your breasts dilated with joy, and your souls gladdened, and if you arise to assist the Covenant, to resist dissension and to be attracted to the Effulgence!" from Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha Abbas

"At all times do I speak of you and call you to mind. I pray unto the Lord, and with tears I implore Him to rain down all these blessings upon you, and gladden your hearts, and make blissful your souls, and grant you exceeding joy and heavenly delights..." from Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on How the World Is Changing

I just saw televised pictures of a parade in Moscow. Troops from the United States, Britain, Canada and Poland had been invited to march in that parade. They were helping the Russian people to honor the passing of 60 years since the defeat of the Axis powers, in World War II.

The unity illustrated by that event brought to my mind the efforts of Abdu'l-Baha. He was always working for the realization of world unity. In his book the Secret of Divine Civilization, Abdu'l-Baha rewrote the standard definition for a long running Islamic tradition. That tradition had called on each believer to "defend his faith, oppose his passions and obey the commandments of his Lord."

Abdu'l-Baba wrote that world leaders were now called to a newer and higher standard, one that placed an emphsis on honesty and trustworthiness. Such comments add support to the statments that I made in my earlier blog entries, partiuclarly those that talked about virtues that showed a respect for human dignity.

Sue Chehrenegar

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thoughts on Kindness

I have been writing about the five virtues that befit human dignity--the five virtues that world leaders must display, if the world is going to move closer to the realization of world wide peace.
Tonight I am writing about the fifth virtue, that of loving kindness.

First, I want to present a quote about kindness. It is taken from page 3 of the book with this title: Selections of the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha. Here is what Abdu'l-Baha had to say about kindness:

"Be ye sicncerely kind, not in appearance only. Let each one of God's loved ones center his attention on this: to be the Lord's mercy to man;to be the Lord's grace. Let him do some good to every person whose path he crosses, and be of some benefit to him."

In order to better define loving kindness, I have studied the definition of love. In the book titled
The Virtues Guide I have found these definitions for love:
"Love is caring for someone...wanting to share with them."
"Love is treating other people just like you would like them to treat you..."
"When you are being loving you help others to feel important."
"Being loving is showing compassion for other people and wishing for them what you wish for yourself."

An examination of all the above statements, those found in quotes, should point out the meaning of the phrase "loving kindness."

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Thougts on Compassion

So far, I have written about three of the five virtues that I had pointed to as virtues that "befit human dignity." I had asserted that those five virtues would be needed by any leader that hoped to further the move toward a more peaceful world.

Today I am going to write about compassion. A compassionate leader is understanding and caring. A compassionate leader helps people everywhere to understand that they are not alone. Compassion can help the world to come together. It moves the world closer to unity, a condition that must precede attainment of a truly peaceful world.

Sue Chehrenegar

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Thoughts on Mercy

So far I have written about two virtues, trustworthiness and forbearance. Those are two of five virtues that have been pointed to as "virtues that befit human dignity." Tonight I am going to write about the virtue known as "mercy."

Mercy goes beyond justice. A merciful person is willing to give a person, or an entire nation of people more than they would seem to deserve. In the presence of mercy, there would be little reason for any country to stir up a war or other confrontation, based on the religion or the cultural beliefs of another nation, or of those people who do not share the view of the majority.

Mercy calls on people to display a willingness to start anew, after an argument or battle has ended. Mercy means wiping one's mind of past grievances against one person, or against an entire nation. A wise leader uses mercy and diplomacy in dealing with other leaders. Only if some leader fails to learn from merciful actions do other leaders attempt to exercise some form of justice.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Thougts on Forbearance

Four days ago I shared some thoughts on trustworthiness. That is one of the five virtues that I mentioned in my blog entry for April 19, 2010. In that entry, I said that the five named virtues were the ones that world leaders would need to demonstrate, if they hoped to move our planet closer a certain ideal. the ideal of becoming a more peaceful world.

Tonight I am going to write about a second virtue--forbearance. A leader that demonstrates forbearance acts in a manner that allows him or her to become a shining example of patience and tolerance.

A patient person is someone who is willing to endure a troublesome situation. That does not mean a total acceptance of that situation. A patient person can attempt to bring about change, but he or she exercises patience, when promoting any idea that calls for a sweeping change.

A tolerant person manages to sort out things that need changing from things that are of little importance. A tolerant person learns to accept those things that are "not worth fighting about." A tolerant person exercises flexibility. He or she finds a way to live with a situation until a path for changing that situation has been made clear.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thoughts On Trustworthiness

Today, Earth Day, I am going to write about the first of the five virtues I mentioned in my earlier blog. I feel that a willingness to practice trustworthiness would not only help to push us closer towards a more peaceful world, it would also help us to create a more litter free world.

Trustworthiness means that you can be counted on. When you are trustworthy, then you keep your promises. You show determination, reliability and truthfulness, as you set about doing what you promised to do.

Without an display of trustworthiness agreements and promises have little meaning. President Obama expects the trustworthy leaders who attended his meeting to follow through with thei promises. The pleas her today regarding treatment of the environment seek trustworthiness from every member of society. Each person is expected to do what they claim they will do.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thoughts on a More Peaceful World

One week ago today, President Obama began a special summit meeting, one designed to reduce the amount of "loose" nuclear material in today's world. Right now a second group of leaders is holding a second meeting on nuclear proliferation. This second meeting is taking place in Iran.

I find it interesting that both of these meetings are being held in April. In April of 1912, one Persian gentleman stepped off of a boat in New York's harbor. He told news reporters that he had come to the United States in order to promote efforts for world peace.

Abdu'l-Baha's writings formed the basis for many of the opinions put forth in the book The Promis of World Peace. The final chapter in that book suggests five virtues that show a respect for human dignity. The authors of this book maintain that a willingness by leaders to adhere to those five virtues can help to push along the slow progress that the world is making, the progress towards world peace.

I plan to offer insights on those five virtues in my coming blogs.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thoughts on Teaching Children

Tonight I watched the Larry King Show on CNN. The host was interviewing Bill Cosby. He was answering questions about bullying.

Cosby pointed to the failure of teachers and administrators to identify bullies before they could do great harm to any student. His comments brought to mind a quote from Abdu'l-Baha. I had read that comment just this past Saturday, while at a Baha'i program on spiritual parenting.

Here is that quote:
"Childern are een as a branch that is freah and green; they will grow up in whatever way ye train them. Take the utmost care to give them high ideals and goals, so that once they come of age, they will cast their beams like brilliant candles on the world, and will not be defiled by lusts and pasions in the way of animals, heedless and unaware, but instead will set their hearts on achieving everlasting honour and acquiring all the excellences of mankind."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thoughts on Religious Grounding

Yesterday, I heard that President Obama had spoken at a prayer breakfast. He had pointed to the important role that his religion had played in his life. The religious teachings of his father, Baha'u'llah played an important role in the life of Abdu'l-Baha. Here is a quote from the writings of Abdu'l-Baha:

The blessings of Bahá'u'lláh are a shoreless sea,
and even life everlasting
is only a dewdrop therefrom.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts on the First Full Day of Spring

Today, March 21, 2010 is marks the start of the Baha'i New Year. In March of 1912, Abdu'l-Baha was about to leave for the United States on that day. Below you will find a few lines from a Naw Ruz prayer. Abdu'l-Baha certainly uttered these lines on Naw Ruz day of 1912.

"Make known this thy station O my God, unto thy servants, that they may be made aware that the excellence of all things is dependent upon Thy bidding and Thy word, and the virtue of every act is conditioned by Thy leave and the good pleasure of Thy will...All dominion is thine, O Thou the Begetter of the Spirit (Jesus), and Thy Friend (Muhammad) crieth out: 'Glory be to Thee, O Thou the Best Beloved, for that Thou hast uncovered Thy beauty and written down for Thy chosen ones what will cause them to attain unto the seat of the revelation of Thy Most Great Name...' "

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thoughts on the Character Traits

The character traits of Abdu'l-Baha reflected his effort to follow the Baha'i teachings, the teachings espoused by his father. I just received a quote taken from the teachings of Abdu'l-Baha's father. Here it is:

"There are four qualities which I love to see manifested in people:first, enthusiasm and courage;second, a face wreathed in smiles and a radiant countenance;third, that they see all things with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others;fourth, the ability to carry a task once begun, through to its end.'--Stories of Baha'u'llah, compiled by 'Ali'Akbar Furutan, page 51

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Thoughts on a State Department Announcement

I want to be sure that my readers are aware of a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of State. An article about that announcement appears today on the website Here are the first two paragraphs in that article:

The State Department condemned Iran's persecution of religious minorities on Friday following the Iranian authorities' detention of Baha'is and Christians in recent months.
Iranian authorities have detained more than 45 Baha'is in the last four months, and as many as 60 Baha'is are imprisoned in Iran on the basis of their religion beliefs, the State Department said.

To read the entire article, go to the website indicated above, click to the "World" section, and then look for the line of blue print that says "Iran criticized for persecution of religious minorities." Click on that line.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thoughts on Equality of Women

An article that was posted on Iran Press Watch highlights the fact that the women of the world are still not viewed as equal to men in all countries. I have posted that article below, along with a related quote from Abdu'l-Baha.

"One Million Signatures" Campaign: Demanding an End to Discriminatory Laws Against Women in IranIranian women - rights activists - are fighting gender apartheid through the “One Million Signatures” campaign, which aims to collect one million signatures to demand an end to discriminatory laws against women. At present, men have the sole right to divorce and except in special cases, the right to custody of children. One man’s testimony equals that of two women. And certain positions, such as that of a judge, are closed to women. The campaign is a continuation of Iranian women’s century-long struggle for gender equality.
Dorsa Sobhani was active in the One Million Signature Campaign for women's rights and an advocate of the right to higher education. She herself has been denied the right to enter university due to her belief in the Baha’i Faith.
March 4, 2010, Dorsa Sobhani’s father was physically and verbally assaulted by six security officials as he left his house. Handcuffed and blindfolded, he was interrogated and threatened for four hours.
Security officials warned that if he does not hand his daughter, Dorsa Sobhani, over to the Intelligence Ministry by Saturday, he and his wife and younger daughter will be placed under arrest and their home will be sequestered. - Committee of Human Rights Reporters

"I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 29)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Thoughts on a Blog

I just read a very interesting blog. I will post here a link to that blog, and I encourage readers of this blog to click on the following link:

Sue Chehrenegar

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thoughts on an Organization Head

In 1912, Abdu'l-Baha spoke at the fourth annual meeting of the NAACP. This past week that organization elected it first female chairperson--Roslyn Brock. That selection would certainly have pleased Abdu'l-Baha. He not only spoke out against prejudice towards other races, he advocated for the rights of women.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Link to Posted Thoughts

I have been wanting to comment on a TV series that my husband and I are watching. Instead, I am placing here a link to posted thoughts on that series.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thoughts on Love for America

What did Abdu'l-Baha love about America and Americans? Did he love captialism, with its focus on a drive for profits? No he loved the potential that he saw in each American citizen. Here is what he inspired his grandson to write in The Advent of Divine Justice.

"The glowing tributes, so repeatedly and deservedly paid to the capacity, the spirit, the conduct, and the high rank, of the American believers, both individually and as an organic community, must, under no circumstances, be confounded with the characteristics and nature of the people from which God has raised them up. A sharp distinction between that community and that people must be made, and resolutely and fearlessly upheld, if we wish to give due recognition to the transmuting power of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, in its impact on the lives and standards of those who have chosen to enlist under His banner. Otherwise, the supreme and distinguishing function of His Revelation, which is none other than the calling into being of a new race of men, will remain wholly unrecognized and completely obscured. " The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 16

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts on Prayer

I am listening to CNN, and I am hearing a number of comments about the statements made by President Obama at the annual Prayer Breakfast. In light of the questions presented about that statement, I would like to post the Prayer for America that was written by Abdu'l-Baha:

"O thou kind Lord! This gathering is turning to thee. These hearts are radiant with thy love. These minds and hearts are exhilirated by the message of thy glad tidings.O God! Let this American democracy become glorious in spiritual degrees, even as it hasaspired to materialdegrees, and render this just government victorious. Confirm this revered nation to upraise the standard of the oneness of humanity, to promulgate the Most Great Peace, to become thereby most glorious and praiseworthy among all the nations of the world. O God! This American nation is worthy of thy favors and is deserving of thy mercy. Make it precious and near to thee through thy bounty and bestowal.