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Putting The Tool Of Consultation To Practical Use

By Lynn Starr

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel you have made several bad decisions and “have egg all over your face?”  I suppose that builds humility! To rectify the consequences of these bad decisions, I engaged in a process of sorting things out. In deciding to engage in this process, I guess that God had a way of doing things for me by planting ideas in my head. That was pretty amazing. I paid attention to these ideas (our conscience, our inner wise person, our intuition or whatever you call it) Following is an account of how this occurred:

When, talking with Larry last night, I decided to learn first-hand why he needed me close by him most of the time.  So first, I crawled down and up the stairs.  To simulate a leg that was amputated below the knee, I could not use any part of one lower leg.  The floor in the hall leading to a second flight of stairs down to where he spends about 90% of his time, felt very hard and hurt my knees. I wasn’t very tired, but it was certainly much slower than walking downstairs.  Then I tried crawling up the stairs; that was a different story.  It just about exhausted me!

After that, I sat in Larry’s wheelchair and raised one of my legs off the ground to simulate a below-the-knee amputation, where only his foot and part of his ankle was removed.  It was extremely difficult to wheel from his office to his bedroom.  It took several attempts to turn the chair so that it would make it through a narrow doorway, into the hall.  Then I had to navigate another doorway and turn the chair which, if you don’t know a few “tricks of the trade” can be a challenge (to say the least).

I had now experienced how tiring and time-consuming it was for him to move from one place to another.  Thus, I now realized that I had not fully considered his needs when I was working half-time outside the home, Then, on top of that he got the flu!  I now understood why he was upset with me for working so many hours and was away from home so much.  He was not afraid to let me know how annoyed he was because I had committed to being away from home for so long a period of time.  However, with Larry not liking to complain about his difficulties, I wasn’t aware of how much he was suffering.  When I asked about his difficulties in “getting around,” among other things, he delayed eating meals in a timely fashion which made him uncomfortable and was not a good way to manage his diabetes.  I now realized that I needed to make some changes in how I did things.

I contacted my employer and told her that I had to work at home.  When she talked to me about not taking enough time for myself, and the importance, as a woman, to have my own life, separate from his,  I informed her that I was taking care of myself.  I described how I was immersed in my artwork, involvement in Facebook social action projects, and writing important blogs regarding life choices and practices. I then cancelled my trip to the bay area to see my old high school friends.  When I told Larry about these decisions, he said “I love you.” What a sweet thing  to say, especially when I was just helping him meet his needs.  It also indicated how important these changes were for him to improve the quality of his life and the ability to work.  I told him that I plan to put a towel on the hard floor between stair cases to make his stair climbing experience more comfortable.  I asked him what he thought of the idea, and he liked it.  It is something that had never occurred to him!

Reflections:

Upon reflecting about dealing with this issue, I realized that certain Baha’i concepts had been employed in the process.  First, I listened to Larry when he told me he was ill.

Because I needed to more fully ascertain the nature of his problem, (one of the first tools of consultation),   I asked Larry to describe what life was like for him when I wasn’t home.  I learned once again, that it was much harder and more uncomfortable for him to engage in activities that those of us who are not handicapped take for granted.  I can only imagine how frustrated he had been when I had not fully understood his needs despite having talked about them several times. 

I then stated what the problem was, which is one of the first tools to employ in true consultation. Subsequent to that, the fact finding part of consultation was employed without my thinking twice!   This is because it also occurred to me that I could learn a lot more about his situation and needs.

I started by letting him know I was crawling up and down the stairs to simulate his experience. When crawling, I reported my findings to Larry and he said the same things happened to him all the time!  After we reflected on what the crawling experience was like, I asked him if I could borrow his wheelchair to see what it was like to wheel from his office to his bedroom.  He agreed to my taking the chair.  When I had difficulties navigating through the door to his office to get into the hall, I reported my experiences to him.  Again, he informed me that this had been his experience. I had similar difficulties turning the chair, and it took me longer to perform this activity than it did when I used two legs to accomplish the same task.

Searching for a solution was accomplished when I explored the possibility of stating more emphatically to my employer, the need for me to work at home due to Larry’s special needs.

Taking Action as a result of Consultation was the final step in our process.  I called my employer and told her that I had short-changed Larry by under-estimating the depth of his disability.  I also stated  that under no terms would I work at her house, and that if she wanted me to complete the job, she would have to let me take the work home.

Calling wkj and changing our plans was the next action I took. By informing Larry about these measures to accommodate his needs, I was  Reporting About Actions and whether or not they succeeded.

Furthermore, I had unknowingly prepared for dealing with this experience by praying for and with him.  This enabled me to engage in consultation and come up with ideas to resolve the problems he and I were having.

Consequently, after the tools of consultation had been employed and some action taken, Larry was relieved and grateful.  I can only imagine the grinding worry and dread regarding his ability to accomplish things when I wasn’t around to help him.  To have successfully employed the tool of consultation to deal with an important issue is a profoundly wonderful experience.  I can only thank God and Baha’u’llah (the Teachings of the Faith He founded), for a tool to utilize when faced with difficult problems that seem impossible to solve.   I wonder what the world will be like when everybody utilizes consultation to resolve issues in the life of an individual, community, state or nation!

 

A Gathering of the Poems of Tahirih

 

Táhirih (1814 or 1817 – August 16–27, 1852), a famous Baha’i  poet, was probably best remembered for unveiling herself in an assemblage of men during the Conference of Badasht.  The unveiling caused a great deal of controversy and the Báb named her Táhirih (meaning “the Pure One”) to show his support for her. She was soon arrested and placed under house arrest in Tehran. A few years later in mid-1852 she was executed in secret on account of her Bábí Faith. As a prominent Bábí (she was the seventeenth disciple or “Letter of the Living” of the Báb) she is highly regarded by Baha’is, and often mentioned in Baha’i literatureas an example of courage in the struggle for women’s rights. Her date of birth is uncertain, as birth records were destroyed at her execution.

Her poems were translated by the various authors found in this volume[1]

 

1.  The Song of Tahira[2]Translated by: Arthur J. Arberry

If ever confronting face to face my glance should alight on you

I will describe to you my sorrow for you in minutest detail.

That I may behold your cheek, like the zephyr I have visited

house by house, door by door, lane by lane, street by street.

Through separation from you my heart’s blood is flowing from my eyes

river by river, sea by sea, fountain by fountain, stream by stream.

My sorrowful heart wove your love into the fabric of my soul

thread by thread, thrum by thrum, warp by warp, woof by woof

Tahira repaired to her own heart, and saw none but you

page by page, fold by fold, veil by veil, curtain by curtain.

 

2.  Translated by: Masudu’l Hasan

O Beloved, if I am admitted to your presence

I will tell Thee in detail of the grief that I suffer because of Thy separation,

In order to get a glimpse of your face, I am moving like zephyr

From door to door, and street to street

Because of Thy separation the blood of my heart flows as tears

­From my eyes, like fountains, streams and rivers

Your love is woven into the fabric of my soul;

Thread by thread, warp by warp, and woof by woof,

In the book of my heart, there is nought but you

In every word, every sentence, and every page.

 

3.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

I would explain all my grief

Dot by dot, point by point

If heart to heart we talk

And face to face we meet.

To catch a glimpse of thee

I am wandering like a breeze

From house to house, door to door

Place to place, street to street.

In separation from thee

The blood of my heart gushes out of my eyes

In torrent after torrent, river after river

Wave after wave, stream after stream.

This afflicted heart of mine

Has woven your love

To the stuff of life

Strand by strand, thread to thread.

 

4.  Translated by Mohammad Ishaque:

If I happen to see thee before me face to face, I shall tell you of my pangs in minute details;

To see thy face, like unto Zephyr I passed from house to house, door to door, street to street, lane to lane;

The circuit of thy tiny mouth and thy cheeks with down of ambergris (are luxuriant) with buds, roses, tulips and fragrance,

On account of thy separation, my heart’s blood flows forth from my eyes (like) many a Tigris, many a sea, many a brooklet, many a stream,

The dejected heart hath knit thy love on the web of life thread by thread, ­fibre by fibre, warp by warp, woof by woof;

Tahirah entered her heart and found nothing save thee (searching) page by page, fold by fold, screen by screen, layer by layer.

 

5.  The Effulgence of Thy Face … Translated by Edward Granville Browne:[3]

The effulgence of thy face flashed forth and the rays of thy visage arose on high;

Then speak the word, “Am I not your Lord? “and “Thou art, Thou art!” we will all reply.[4]

The trumpet call “Am I not?” to greet how loud the drums of affliction[5] beat.

All the gates of my heart there tramp the feet and camp the hosts of calamity.

That fair moon’s love is enough, I trow, for me, for he laughed at the hail[6] of woe,

And triumphant cried, as he sunk below, “The Martyr of Karbala am I[7]

When he heard my death-dirge drear, for me he prepared, and arranged my gear for me;

He advanced to mourn at my bier for me, and o’er me wept right bitterly.

What harm if thou wilt the fire of amaze should’st set my Sinai-heart ablaze,

Which thou first mad’st fast in a hundred ways but to shake and shatter so ruthlessly?

To convene the guests to his feast of love all night from the angel host above

Peals forth this summons ineffable, “Hail, sorrow-stricken fraternity!”

Can a scale of the fish of amaze like thee aspire to enquire of Beings Sea?

Sit mute like Tahira, hearkening to the whale of “No” and its ceaseless sigh.[8]

 

6.  The Morn of Guidance — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai

Truly the morn of Guidance commands the breeze to begin

All the world has been illuminated; every horizon; every people ,

No more sits the Shaykh in the seat of hypocrisy

No more becomes the mosque a shop dispensing holiness

The tie of the turban will be cut at its source

No Shaykh will remain, neither glitter nor secrecy

The world will be free from superstition and vain imaginings

The people free from deception and temptation

Tyranny is destined for the arm of justice

Ignorance will be defeated by perception

The carpet of justice will be outspread to everywhere

And the seeds of friendship and unity will be spread throughout

The false commands eradicated from the earth

The principle of opposition changed to that of unity.

 

7.  Awaiting Your Blessing — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

In the path of your love, 0 Idol, I am enamored with torment

How long will you ignore me, I am grief-stricken

My face veiled, my hair torn out

I have separated myself from all creation

You are the light, you are the veil, you are the moon, you are the horizon . . .

 

8.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

In pursuit of your love, 0 darling,

Enamored of afflictions, I am

Why do you shun me so?

Weary of your separation, I am.

You’ve veiled your face

You’ve disheveled your hair

You’ve abandoned people

Just as secluded, I am.

You’re the milk and you’re the honey

You’re the tree and you’re the fruit

You are the sun and you are the moon

A speck, an iota, I am.

You’re the palm and you’re the date

You are the nectar-lipped beloved

A distinguished master, you, dear love,

An insolent slave, I am.

You are the Mecca and you are the One

You’re the temple and you’re the shrine

You’re the beloved, the honored one

The miserable lover, I am.

“Come to me!”

Love said alluringly

“Free of pride and pretense,

Manifestation of the One, I am.”

Tahereh is but floating dust at your feet

Drunk by the wine of your face.

Awaiting your blessing

A confessing sinner, I am.

 

9.  In the Land of Your Love — Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

In the land of your love I remain, finding no favor from anyone

See what a stranger I am, Thou who art King of the land?

Is it a sin, 0 Idol, that my every breath breathes the mystery of your love?

Separate me, kill me, take me unjustly

The time of patience has ended, how long should I stand separation?

When every piece of my being, like a hollow reed, tells a sad tale

Reason cannot apprehend you, souls die of your thought

All the door of existence are nothing, you are ultimate

When the zephyr passes by bringing news of their destruction

Making pale the faces and the eyes weep, what would be your loss?

You step to my bed in the morning out of compassion, I fly with both wings and hands

When you rescue one from this place, you will take her to the placeless place

Then I will let go of the soul of the world, for you are the creator of all souls.

 

10.  Yearning Love — Translated by Edward Granville Browne:[9]

The thralls of yearning love constrain the bonds of pain and calamity.

These broken-hearted lovers of thine to yield their lives in their zeal for thee.[10]

Though with sword in hand my Darling stand with intent to slay though I sinless be,

If it pleases him, this tyrant’s whim, I am well content with his tyranny.

As in sleep I lay at the break of day that cruel charmer came to me,

And in the grace of his form and face the dawn of the morn I seem to see.

The musk of Cathay might perfume gain from the scent of those fragrant tresses rain.

While his eyes demolish a faith in vain attacked by the pagans of Tartary.[11]

With you, who condemn both love and wine[12] for the hermit’s cell and the zealot’s shrine,

What can I do, for our Faith divine you hold as a thing of infamy?

The tangled curls of thy darling’s hair, and thy saddle and steed are thy only care;

In thy heart the Absolute hath no share, nor thought of the poor man’s poverty.

Sikandars[13] pomp and display be thine, the Qalandars[14] habit and way be mine;

That, if it please thee, I resign, while this, though bad, is enough for me

Pass from the station of “I” and “We” and choose for thy home nonentity,

For when thou has done the like of this, thou shall reach the supreme  Felicity.

 

11.  Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

Kingdom, wealth, and power for thee

Beggary, exile, and loss for me

If the former be good, it’s thine

If the latter is hard, it’s mine.

 

12.  Translated by Masudu’l Hasan:

You are fond of power and empire;

I am fond of faith and poverty;

If power and empire are to be preferred

Be blessed with them.

And if the way of the Dervish is to be deprecated

I don’t mind the punishment.

 

13.  A Beauty Mark … Translated by Susan Stiles Maneck and Farzad Nakhai:

At the corner of the lip, a single beauty mark and two black tresses,

Alas, for the bird of the heart, a single grain and two snares

A constable, a shaykh and I;  the talk is of love.

How can I reply to them; one boiled and two raw?

From the face and the locks of the Idol my days are as nights.

Alas, for my days; day is one, night two …

 

14.  Should I Unveil?  — Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

Should I unveil my scented hair

I’ll captivate every gazelle

Should I line my narcissus eyes

I’ll destroy the whole world with desire

To see my face, every dawn

Heaven lifts its golden mirror

Should I chance to pass the church one day

I’ll convert all Christian girls

 

15.  Arise — Translated by Farzaneh Milani:

O slumbering one, the beloved has arrived, arise!

Brush off the dust of sleep and self, arise!

Behold the good will has arrived,

Come not before him with tears, arise!

The mender of concerns has come to you,

O heavy-hearted one, arise!

O one afflicted by separation,

Behold the good tidings of the beloved’s union, arise!

O you withered by autumn,

Now spring has come, arise!

Behold the New Year brings a fresh life,

O withered corps of yesteryear, up from your tomb, arise!

 

18.  If Anyone Walks In My Path — Translated by Edward Grandville Browne:[15]

If anyone walks in my path I will cry to him that he may be warned

That whoever becomes my lover shall not escape from sorrow and affliction

If anyone obeys me not and does not grasp the cord of my protection[16]

I will drive him far from my sanctuary, I will cast him in wrath to the winds of “NO”[17]

I am Eternal from the Everlasting World; I am the One from the Realms of the Limitless;

I am come [to seek for] the people of the Spirit, and towards me do they advance.[18]

 

 


[1] Tahirih in History, Edited by Sabir Afaqi, published by Kalimat Press, 2004, p. 257-264.

[2] Tahireh did not give titles to her poems. For easier identification, each poem here has been given an arbitrary title taken from the text of a translation.

[3] Browne’s footnotes are taken from his publication of this poem in E.G. Browne’s comp., Materials for the Study of the Bábí Religion, (Cambridge University Press, 1918), p. 249

[4] See Qur’an vii, 171. The meaning is, “If you claim to be God, we will all accept your claim.”-E.G.B.

[5] There is a play on the word bala, which means “yea” and also “affliction” – E.G.B.

[6] Salá, which I have translated “hail,” means a general invitation or summons. –E.G.B.

[7] ie. the Imám Husayn, of whom several of the Bábí leaders claimed to be the “Return”. – E.G.B.

[8] ie. Thou art a mere tiny scale on the smallest fish on the Ocean of Being, and even the Leviathans of that Ocean can but proclaim their own insignificance and non-existence. –E.G.B.

[9] Browne’s footnotes are taken from his publication of this poem in E.G. Browne’s comp., Materials for the Study of the Bábí Religion, (Cambridge University Press, 1918), p. 249

[10] This poem is presumably addressed to the Báb.-E.G.B.

[11] i. e. the religion of Islam, which, having survived the terrible Tartar invasion of the thirteenth century, fell before the Báb.-E.G.B.

[12] “Love and wine” are to be understood here in a mystical sense. – E. G. B

[13] Alexander the Great.-KG.B.

[14] A Qalandar is a kind of darwish or religious mendicant.-E.G.B.

[15] Though not included among the poems quoted in this volume, the following fragment was translated by Browne and is worth including here.  He attributed the poem only doubtfully to Tahirih, however.

[16] Or Saintship, for Wilayat has both meanings. Amongst the Arabs, he who would seek the protection of some great Shaykh or Amir catches hold of one of the cords of his tent, crying Ana dakhiluk! “I place myself under thy protection!”—E.G.B.

[17] Not-Being, or Negation, or Annihilation.-E.G.B.

[18] The Arabic words with which this line concludes are, as is too often with the Bábís, hopelessly ungrammatical.-E.G.B.

 

For more information on this poet, please see:  http://tahirihstarr.wordpress.com/category/tahirih-advices/

 

 

Discovering Your Creative Energy

There are times when we all want to be more creative. We wish that there were something we could do to express ourselves and create something beautiful at the same time.  The Bahai Writings tell us:

It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments — in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit

`Abdu’l-Bahá, A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca, pp. 11-14

If you’re looking for ways to discover your creative side and release the artist within, here are a few simple activities that you can do to get the creative energy flowing.

Express Yourself

What type of personality do you have? Are you able to express that personality freely at work or with friends? If not, tackle one of these projects and let your personality shine!

·Decorate your house, or at least one room, the way you like it. It doesn’t matter what anyone else tells you, just decorate your room, your way. This will help you unleash your own self-expression.

·Dress the way you want. If tackling the house is too big of a job, then take a look at your wardrobe. Dress how you want to dress. Trust yourself and trust your instincts. You are dressing for you, not the world. Don’t worry; you can express yourself while still being professional at work.

You have to find ways in everything you do to allow creativity to flow through you. This can be as simple as the way you sign a letter, mail an envelope, the way you dress or the house that you live in.

. . . for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord?

‘Abdul-Bahá, translated from the Persian

Change Your Routine

If you’re stuck in a rut, do things that take you out of your normal routine. It doesn’t really matter how stimulating your work or home life is, when you take a moment to step out of your normal routine for some “me time,” you’ll be open to new ideas and new thoughts.

How can you step out of your normal routine?

1.Read a book that you wouldn’t usually pick up

2.Watch a movie that you wouldn’t typically choose

3.Talk to a total stranger that you think looks interesting

4.Go shopping at a store that you have never been to. You don’t necessarily have to buy anything, just go in and look around.

5.Meet a friend you haven’t seen for a long time

6.Try dressing in a different order (if you usually put your socks on last, try putting them on first etc).

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

Another simple activity to increase your creativity is to pay attention to your surroundings. You may laugh and think that is absolutely ridiculous – after all, you see the same things and people everyday, and you probably even drive the same route to and from work, too. But try to take a few moments and actually pay attention to your surroundings. See things the way they are and not the way you think they are.

·Take a different route home from work. Discover shortcuts or new neighborhoods.

·Sit on a park bench and people watch. Think of stories for each person or couple that you see.

·Have you ever really paid attention to the people in your office? What about the person that sits right across from you? Take five or ten minutes and take notice. Don’t stare, but pay attention. You just may find that other people can be quite the source of inspiration for creativity.

Use Your Imagination

If you have a favorite poem or story that you loved as a kid, sit down and start writing that story, but make the changes that you always thought should be there. What were Jack and Jill really doing on their way up the hill? If they were fetching a pail of water, what was the water for? You don’t have to re-invent the wheel, simply make the everyday your own.

Increasing your creativity starts in small, simple ways. Your life is filled with opportunities for you to test your creative energies but it’s up to you to take action!

How do you express your creativity?Post your comments here.