I hope you are all happy and well. I am not happy, but very sad. The news of the Battle of Benghazi grieves my heart. I wonder at the human savagery that still exists in the world! How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth! (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)
When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain! Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)
This morning, I was reflecting on the state of the world with a friend whose parents and in-laws were holocaust survivors. She shares my terror and powerlessness around the current state of the world. We’re both in full-blown PTSD responses. We’re both trying to help each other rise above them and learn to trust in God. This is really hard when I’m in the grips of terror.
Yesterday I found myself feeling like Chicken Little, running around saying “the sky is falling. The sky is falling” and finding no one as seemingly concerned as I was (which was my clue that this terror was more from a frightened child inside of me, afraid of the monster under the bed than from any immediate threat to me in Canada).
I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy trying to bring those terrorized child parts into the present, saying things like: “This is 2022. We’re 65 years old. Our parents died a long time ago. Nothing is going to hurt us. There’s a lock on the door. No one can come in. You’re safe. I can’t say this anymore.
A friend of mine sent me this quote, exactly in the moment I needed it – with the solution embedded with the problem: “When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands!” That’s what the House of Justice is telling us in the current series of letters. Our focus is on building a society where mothers will no longer allow their sons to go to war. We aren’t there yet, but we know that day is coming, and we have the tools to get there.
Remembering that the solutions to the world’s current problems give me concrete steps I can take, I can relax, and I am grateful!
What jumped out for you when you read this passage? Please share your thoughts below.
When the light of faith is kindled in the lamp of the heart and soul, its spreading rays illumine every limb of the body. When this resplendent light shineth forth through the medium of the tongue, it is made manifest in the powers of speech and utterance. When its beams fall upon the eyes, insight and true vision are revealed, and when it stirreth the ear, it bestoweth attentive hearing. When this light sheddeth its radiance upon the mind, it leadeth to the recognition of the All-Merciful, and when it setteth aglow the limbs, it findeth expression in purity and the worship of God. Otherwise, all physical powers, all limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, )
This is a newly translated tablet and on first blush, it seems to be a wonderful reminder of the importance of faith, and the gifts we get when faith is kindled in our hearts and souls. It begs the question, though, what happens to those who don’t have faith? `Abdu’l-Bahá says all their “limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert.” I wonder at the analogy seeming to fall short.
Is He saying that with faith, our speech and utterance have power; we are given insight, true vision and attentive hearing; we recognize God and worship Him with purity of heart but without faith, speech and utterance have no power, we don’t get insights or recognize God?
Knowing I have faith and being reminded of the gifts it bestows, I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
The purpose of the appearance of the holy Manifestations hath ever been the establishment of fellowship and love in the world of humanity. The friends should therefore lay down their lives in this arena that they may exhilarate the people of the world with the wine of love for one another and may gladden the hearts of the whole human race. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, )
Bahá’ís easily accept that Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world. I don’t know about you, but I often get lost in the Ocean of details in the Writings, forgetting that every aspect leads back to this one principle. Even when I can wrap my head around it, I frequently forget that to get to unity, I need to manifest fellowship and love, not only among my friends and family, but even more importantly, to those who hurt me and reject the Faith.
It’s easy to get so lost in my own problems and the day-to-day minutia of my “to do” list and need to be productive, that I forget all about the importance of building relationships. I get scared at the thought of laying down my life in learning how to have fellowship and love for others. It’s easier when I think about laying down my “to do” list for a minute, and reach out to someone who might need help. I can be the change I want to see, one kind action at a time. If each of us does it, surely the whole human race will become gladdened and exhilarated and want what we have.
Remembering that teaching is easier when I take time to build relationships, I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute may arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 56)
I love this quote and find it interesting that it’s embedded within the Tablets of the Divine Plan, our marching orders for spreading the Faith to every corner of the planet. This incontrovertible law and irrefutable command of God is important to be embedded into the hearts of all travel-teachers and pioneers, because it means we don’t have to be right. We don’t have to prove a point. We don’t have to engage in any controversial discussion. We can just listen and approach every interaction with a humble posture of learning. For someone addicted to adrenaline and drama, this is such a relief! It’s hard on my adrenals and my liver to keep fighting for my position. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in a marriage or a job or a community, where this was taken seriously?
It can be a challenge to learn to speak with infinite amity and love, remaining silent and looking to the Baha’i Writings for some insights. First we need to have the discipline of turning to the Writings so we can develop the habit of “asking the reality of the question from the Interpreter”. Then we need to learn how to share them with “words as mild as milk”, and then leave the results to God, humbly asking Him to plant the truth in the hearts of those we teach.
Knowing I don’t have to dispute with anyone, and can remain silent and avoid controversy, I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
1. He had left orders that none were to be turned away, but one who had twice vainly sought his presence, and was, through some oversight, prevented from seeing him, wrote a heartbreaking letter showing that he thought himself rebuffed. It was translated by the Persian interpreter. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at once put on his coat, and, turning towards the door, said, with an expression of unspeakable sadness, “A friend of mine has been martyred, and I am very grieved. I go out alone.” and he swept down the steps. One could then see how well the title of “Master” became him. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 109)
The demands on ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s time were constant. The English Bahá’ís tried to organize the flow of those seeking interviews and instituted a system of official appointments. One day, a woman appeared at the door and asked if she could see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. When asked if she had an appointment, she admitted that she had not and was promptly told, “I am sorry but He is occupied now with most important people, and cannot be disturbed.” Sadly, the woman slowly turned away, but before she could reach the bottom of the steps, a messenger from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rushed out and breathlessly said, “He wishes to see you, come back!” From the house came the powerful voice of the Master: “A heart has been hurt, hasten, hasten, bring her to Me.” (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p.36)
Two days earlier, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had granted a final interview to Harriet Cline and Henrietta Wagner, who were to leave for California, the following day. They waited for their interview with many others until someone announced, “there will be no more interviews this morning.” The two women were crushed and sat there in shock at the thought of going home without seeing the Master one last time. But then came the Master’s melodious voice calling, “Mrs. Klein then Mrs. Wagner.” When Mrs. Klein entered ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence, He put an arm around her and said, “You are my daughter, you are my daughter. I have prayed for you many, many times.” Her tears poured out uncontrollably until she looked up into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s eyes. His smile and happiness suddenly filled her and, she said, “a sense of great inner calmness took possession of my soul.” (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 118)
Prayers for God’s Mercy
Thou seest Thy handmaiden, O my God, standing before the habitation of Thy mercy, and calling upon Thee by Thy name which Thou hast chosen above all other names and set up over all that are in heaven and on earth. Send down upon her the breaths of Thy mercy, that she may be carried away wholly from herself, and be drawn entirely towards the seat which, resplendent with the glory of Thy face, sheddeth afar the radiance of Thy sovereignty, and is established as Thy throne. Potent art Thou to do what Thou willest. No God is there beside Thee, the All-Glorious, the Most Bountiful. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 148)
I beseech Thee, by Thy mercy that hath surpassed all created things, and Thy grace that hath embraced the entire creation, to accept from Thy servants what they are capable of showing forth in Thy path. Aid them, then, by Thy strengthening grace, to exalt Thy word and to blazon Thy praise. Powerful art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee. Thou, truly, art the All-Glorious, the All-Wise. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 149-150)
I beg of Thee to assist them! Do refresh these faded souls with the drops of the cloud of Thy gifts, and do illumine these lowly beings through the effulgences of the sun of Thy Singleness! I pray Thee to cast these thirsty fishes into the sea of Thy mercy; guide their lost caravan unto the asylum of Thy unity; direct these bewildered souls unto the fountain of Thy guidance, and cause these wanderers to abide in the shelter of Thy might. Suffer the thirst ones to drink from the Sweet Water of Thy gifts, and quicken the dead by eternal life. Endow the blind with light, the deaf with hearing, the dumb with speech, the lukewarm with energy, the heedless with mindfulness, the sleepers with wakefulness, and the proud with humility. Verily, Thou art the Powerful, Thou art the Forgiver! Thou art the Loving! Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Most High!
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 369-370)
This month’s featured video shows two of Bahá’u’ll’áh’s Hidden Words beautifully sung in Acappella style.
O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 1)
O SON OF BEING! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 59)
For those who are struggling with self-worth, Nabil Moghaddam talks about how we can use this hidden word to help:
O SON OF SPIRIT!
My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed. My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 20)
The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah
The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah consists of about 153 short paragraphs in two parts – Persian and Arabic. It’s a collection of lyrical, gem-like verses of scripture that convey timeless spiritual wisdom clothed in the garment of brevity. The Hidden Words is one of the most important and cherished scriptural works of the Baha’i Faith. The verses are a perfect guidebook to walking a spiritual path and drawing closer to God. They address themes such as turning to God, humility, detachment and love, to name but a few. These verses are among Baha’u’llah’s earliest and best known works. They have been translated into more than seventy languages and read by millions worldwide. You’ll want to get your copy, if you don’t own it already!
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This month I’d like to feature the work of Dr. O’Mead Rahmanian, a chiropractor in Alaska, a reader of this newsletter; and a member of the NSA of Alaska. When he read that 5 months after breaking my ankle, I was still in a lot of pain, couldn’t walk or drive and was at my whit’s end, he gave me a call, quickly diagnosed the problem, and immediately gave me LOTS of easily do-able exercises and nutritional supplements to break down the scar tissue. Best of all, he gave me the “attitude adjustment” I needed to overcome my challenges. Because it was grounded in the Writings, it was easy to swallow! In less than a week, I was able to walk without pain! His follow up calls really kept me motivated, propelled my recovery forward and enabled me to increase the range of motion so I could walk again!
Omid is well-known for his ability to locate the source of pain in his patients, which has won him county-wide recognition from his peers, as well as from traditional and holistic health practitioners alike. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that prior to pioneering to Alaska, he was voted Doctor of Choice for North County San Diego and was featured on Channel 6 Health Living in San Diego.
Omid sincerely wants to help people live a pain-free and healthy lifestyle; a life without limits. With you, he designs a personalized wellness plan that combines nutritional, rehabilitation and ergonomic suggestions along with non-invasive and highly-effective chiropractic services. He also throws in a smattering of absolutely timely and well-presented quotes from the Writings that I appreciated very much. It was like having my very own Baha’i-Inspired Life Coach!
Thanks to all who write in! Your encouragement really keeps me going!
By the way, I accept donations! If you like the materials in these newsletters and on my website, please consider making a donation. Your help and feedback is GREATLY appreciated, to defray the costs of making these available to you!!! There’s a PayPal “Donate” Button at the bottom of every page on my website. Thank you!!!
See you next month! Hope it’s a month filled with mercy!
I believe that life is a series of instances, occasions, encounters that shape our personalities and form our path. And some encounters leave such profound mark in the soul, that it can change the whole perception of one’s existence.
I had such an encounter on 26th of November 2003 on the Day of the Covenant. It happened during a 9 day Baha’i Pilgrimage in Haifa and it became the most memorable and distinctive moment of my pilgrimage, a spiritual lesson and a lodestar, which enlightened the rest of my life.
That day our group went to Akka. There we saw the Greatest Prison, where Baha’u’llah and members of His family were kept, the house , in which Baha’u’llah revealed the Most Holy Book Kitab-i-Aqdas and many other Baha’i Holy Places. I was overwhelmed and full of impressions. But that wasn’t all for that day, as in the evening at the Pilgrims Reception Center we were supposed to meet with an outstanding person, the Hand of the Cause of God – Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan.
The meeting was supposed to start at 6 p.m. It wasn’t our first meeting with him. First time I saw him on the first day of pilgrimage – 24th of November. He gave a marvelous speech and promised us to come every other day. He said that before he used to come every day to meet with pilgrims, as Shoghi Effendi mentioned, that pilgrims were the guests of Baha’u’llah. But now doctors recommended him to come once in two days because of the age. No wonder! Mr Furutan was 98 years old.
I have to say that I heard about this unique person long before my pilgrimage. Once I heard one Baha’i sharing a conversation Mr. Furutan had with a group of pilgrims. When one of them asked him what he was afraid of most of all in life, he asnwered that he was afraid of dying comfortably in his bed and not being steadfast in the Cause of God till the last minute of His life. It was an amazing thing to hear, knowing how much Mr. Furutan has suffered and how faithfully he was serving the Baha’i Faith throughout his entire life.
Now you can imagine our disappointment, when we were told, that Mr. Furutan wouldn’t come. Then I remembered that when he first came to meet with pilgrims, he looked very weak and frail. It seemed that life giving energy was slowly leaving that fragile body. Of course, the first thing I thought was that he was not able to come because of the state of health.
Many pilgrims decided to go to their hotels, but some of us, quite few indeed, decided to stay, hoping that the meeting would still take place. How happy we were when ten minutes to six we were told that Mr. Furutan would come. As soon as this unique person entered the room, it became evident what efforts it took him to come here. He looked very pale and even transparent. It seemed that he no longer belonged to this earthly realm. However, notwithstanding the weakness, he went up the stage by himself andbuckled the microphone to his suit.
Mr. Furutan’s speech was dedicated to the Duty of teaching the Faith. First he read the quotation of Baha’u’llah from the “Gleanings”:
“Say: Teach ye the Cause of God, O people of Baha, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. Such a deed is acceptable only when he that teacheth the Cause is already a firm believer in God, the Supreme Protector, the Gracious, the Almighty. He hath, moreover, ordained that His Cause be taught through the power of men’s utterance, and not through resort to violence. Thus hath His ordinance been sent down from the Kingdom of Him Who is the Most Exalted, the All-Wise.”
Then the Hand of the Cause shared with us his understanding of the word duty. As an example, he told us a story. “It happened in Russia, when Nikolai the II was the tsar. One day Nikolai the II was walking in the courtyard of his palace. He noticed the guard, who looked very ill, his face was red and swollen. He approached him and asked from what illness he suffered. The guard answered that he had malaria. Then the tsar told him that he needed special care and that he could go home. But the guard replied that he was not able to leave his post without the senior officer’s permission and that it was his duty to guard the palace till the last breath. Then Nikolai the II took his rifle and told him, that in such case, he would replace him at his post till the senior officer came and he would inform him that he personally let the guard go and that he fulfilled his duty. “This is what duty means” – Mr.Furutan said. “The reason I came here today is because it was my duty to come. And if it is a duty – you have to fulfill it.”
Many people know that Mr. Furutan lived and studied in Russia and that he lovedspeaking Russian whenever he had chance. Fortunately, all the Russian-speaking pilgrimswere present at the gathering. And when he was telling the story, he often translated some words into Russian, and especially, the words “duty” and “responsibility”. When the Hand of the Cause finished his speech, he immediately approached the Russian-speaking pilgrims and asked in Russian: “Friends, did you understand what I said? Did you understand what is duty?”
These words were almost the last words in his life, as in few minutes he passed away. He died before our eyes, peacefully and with dignity, on the pilgrims’ hands, whom he appreciated so much. His life and his passing became for me an example of true servitude, steadfastness in the Covenant, and faithfulness to the Cause of God. By his own life he showed us what duty was and how we had to fulfill it till the last breath!