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When “words differ from their deeds”

September 1, 2017

homogenitus“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)

In response to a question*.

…The people of Bahá are Bahá’ís, followers of Bahá’u’lláh.

In the simplest language the phrase “words differ from their deeds” refers to acting or behaving in such a way that contradicts what you say. We may not be aware or conscious of the fact that some of our deeds/actions/conduct do not align with what we utter/say/profess. But others may notice and this will erode trust in your words. It is easy to develop a disconnect between what we value as virtuous behaviour and what we actually do and it is very common.

Baha’u’llah tells us therefore to reflect everyday on our deeds, to make ourselves consciously aware of what we have done and to examine whether our deeds align with our values, that part of us that represents the authentic self.

“O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.”

What are our values? Bahá’u’lláh’s son, Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues. In their Writings they describe virtues such as knowledge, faithfulness, steadfastness, truthfulness, uprightness, fidelity, evanescence or humility, justice, courtesy, forbearance, compassion, courage, courtesy, detachment, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, honour, love, loyalty, mercy, obedience, patience, reliability, respect, responsibility, tolerance, and unity.

But we can improve the alignment of our behaviour to our beliefs by paying closer attention. As individuals, we can build character by making daily effort to consciously make changes in those deeds/behaviour/actions, particularly habitual behaviours or actions, that do not mirror or reflect our authentic values. It is part of lifelong process of character building, of becoming our authentic selves. We can slowly change habitual behaviours that conflict with our value system.

In the same tablet, which you can read here – http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-139.html – Baha’u’llah describes how “the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct.” In other words, most of us say one thing, but do another.

Although this Sacred Writing has a timeless quality, it was written at a very specific historical time and place and addressed to a specific person. Baha’is are encouraged to share the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh but to avoid proselytization or attempting to convert. Much of the “teaching” is done as the followers of the Baha’i Faith reflect the principles of the Faith in their actions – the unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of mankind. In the 21st century humanity is at a threshold in an ongoing process of connection and interdependence at at global scale with breakthroughs in science, spirituality, and morality. Because many of these principles such as equality of men and women, elimination of prejudice, importance of education, unity of religions were new historically in the 19th century, particularly in Persia, it was crucial that Baha’is align their individual and social behaviour closely to those virtues that Baha’u’llah described. This tablet underscores that message.

In 1863, Baha’u’llah revealed this tablet CXXXIX to Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (1831 – 1892), in the same year that Baha’u’llah announced the establishment of the Baha’i Faith, which regards the founders of major monotheistic world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, as Manifestations of one God. The Báb (1819-1850) and Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) are the most recent of these Manifestations of progressive Divine revelation. Baha’u’llah taught that these world religions are one and that mankind is one.

According to H.M. Balyuzi in “Eminent Bahá’ís in the time of Bahá’u’lláh”, after the martyrdom of the Bab in 1850, Nabil claimed the leadership of the the endangered Bábí community, who were actively persecuted at that time. In 1863, when Baha’u’llah revealed that He was “He whom God shall make manifest” as promised by the Báb, Nabil withdrew his own claim to leadership, became a follower of Baha’u’llah and spent his life serving Him.

Nabil – formerly Mullá Muḥammad-i-Zarandí (1831 – 1892) from Zarandi, Persia, was given the name Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (Nabíl the Greatest) by Baha’u’llah. Nabil traveled various places in Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. When Baha’ullah was imprisoned he visited Him in `Akká.

In 1888, Nabil, with the assistance of Mírzá Músá, Bahá’u’lláh’s brother, began writing “The Dawn-breakers”. Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reviewed and approved it. Nabil is honoured by Baha’is everywhere for this lengthy, detailed, heavily annotated authorized history of the Báb, describing the short life of the Precurser of Baha’u’llah. Nabil’s work is all the more impressive because he was a shepherd who overcame his lack of education by spending years studying and learning.

Baha’u’llah began the tablet by saying, “Let thine ear be attentive, O Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam, to the Voice of the Ancient of Days, crying to thee from the Kingdom of His all-glorious Name.” In it He honours Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam by describing him as “numbered with My favoured ones whose names the Finger of God hath inscribed.”

“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)
what does it trying to say:
Ideas and understanding.

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Prophecies made by Baha’u’llah (b. 1819 d.1892)

June 7, 2017

In his book entitled The Challenge of Baha’u’llah, which he has generously posted online, author Gary Matthews provides this useful list of prophecies (some by Baha’u’llah, others made by the Bab and Abdul-Baha). In his book Matthews elaborates on each one providing the full references.
1. The fall from power of the French Emperor Napoleon III and the consequent loss of his empire.
2. The defeat of Germany in two bloody wars, resulting in the ‘lamentations of Berlin.’
3. The success and stability of Queen Victoria‘s reign.
4. The dismissal of ‘Ali Pasha as prime minister of Turkey.
5. The overthrow of Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Aziz of Turkey.
6. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire, leading to the extinction of the ‘outward spendour’ of its capital, Constantinople.
7. The downfall of Nasiri’d-Din Shah, the Persian monarch.
8. The advent of constitutional government in Persia.
9. A massive (albeit temporary) decline in the fortunes of monarchy throughout the world.
10. A worldwide erosion of ecclesiastical authority.
11. The collapse of the Muslim Caliphate.
12. The spread of communism, the “Movement of the Left,’ and its rise to world power.
13. The catastrophic decline of that same movement, triggered by the collapse of its egalitarian economy.
14. The rise of Israel as a Jewish homeland.
15. The persecution of Jews on the European continent (the Nazi holocause).
16. America’s violent racial struggles.
17. Baha’u’llah’s release from the prison of ‘Akka and the pitching of His tent on Mount Carmel.
18. The seizure and desecration of Baha’u’llah’s House in Baghdad.
19. The failure of all attempts to create schism within the Baha’i Faith.
20. The explosive acceleration of scientific and technological progress.
21. The development of nuclear weapons.
22. The achievement of transmutation of elements, the age-old alchemist’s dream.
23. Dire peril for all humanity as a result of that achievement.
24. The discovery that complex elements evolve in nature from simpler ones.
25. The recognition of planets as a necessary by-product of star formation.
26. Space travel.
27. The realization that some forms of cancer are contagious or communicable.
28. The fruitless search for a ‘missing link’ between man and ape.
29. The non-existence of a mechanical ether (the supposed light-carrying substance posited by classical physics), and its redefinition as an abstract reality.
30. The breakdown of mechanical models (literal images) as a basis for understanding the physical world.

References

Matthews, Gary L. 1993. The Challenge of Baha’u’llah: Proofs of the Bahá’í Revelation Oxford: George Ronald.

Ocean as metaphor

November 13, 2016

Having lived near the shores the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with ancestors engaged in shipbuilding, the ocean is a powerful metaphor in my life. As I am working on one of the largest marine paintings I have ever done I am immersed in waves, wind and sails. I am collecting this selection of Sacred Writings from the Baha’i Faith on the theme of the Ocean.

Indeed, the laws of God are like unto the ocean and the children of men as fish, did they but know it. However, in observing them one must exercise tact and wisdom… Since most people are feeble and far-removed from the purpose of God, therefore one must observe tact and prudence under all conditions, so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamour among the heedless. Verily, His bounty hath surpassed the whole universe and His bestowals encompassed all that dwell on earth. One must guide mankind to the ocean of true understanding in a spirit of love and tolerance.”

“Quaff then, O My brother, from the living waters that We have caused to flow in the oceans of these words. Methinks the seas of grandeur are surging within them, and the gems of divine virtue are shining within and upon them. Divest then thyself of that which debarreth thee from this fathomless crimson sea, and to the cry of “In the name of God and by His grace!” immerse thyself therein. Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety.” Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javáhiru’l-Asrár)

“Having, in this journey, immersed himself in the ocean of immortality, rid his heart from attachment to aught save Him, and attained unto the loftiest heights of everlasting life, the seeker will see no annihilation either for himself or for any other soul. He will quaff from the cup of immortality, tread in its land, soar in its atmosphere, consort with them that are its embodiments, partake of the imperishable and incorruptible fruits of the tree of eternity, and be forever accounted, in the lofty heights of immortality, amongst the denizens of the everlasting realm.”Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javáhiru’l-Asrár)

“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” Bahá’u’lláh. Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh “The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the…” http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/PB/pb-63.html

“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.” Bahá’u’lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

“I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.” Bahá’u’lláh Tabernacle of Unity

“This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God’s mercy hath been manifested unto men, the Day in which the Day Star of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favor have overshadowed the whole of mankind. Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity.” Bahá’u’lláh

“Most of the people in Persia are steeped in deception and idle fancy. How great the difference between the condition of these people and the station of such valiant souls as have passed beyond the sea of names and pitched their tents upon the shores of the ocean of detachment. Indeed none but a few of the existing generation hath yet earned the merit of hearkening unto the warblings of the doves of the all-highest Paradise. ‘Few of My servants are truly thankful.’2 People for the most part delight in superstitions. They regard a single drop of the sea of delusion as preferable to an ocean of certitude. By holding fast unto names they deprive themselves of the inner reality and by clinging to vain imaginings they are kept back from the Dayspring of heavenly signs. God grant you may be graciously aided under all conditions to shatter the idols of superstition and to tear away the veils of the imaginations of men. Authority lieth in the grasp of God, the Fountainhead of revelation and inspiration and the Lord of the Day of Resurrection.” Bahá’u’lláh http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/TB/tb-7.html

Homefront pioneering

September 9, 2016

Marriage: list of resources

February 2, 2016

2016-03-14-invitationMarriage:

Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá

O YE two believers in God! The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favor in the Kingdom of heaven. But if they do other than this, they will live out their lives in great bitterness, longing at every moment for death, and will be shamefaced in the heavenly realm. Strive, then, to abide, heart and soul, with each other as two doves in the nest, for this is to be blessed in both worlds.” Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá Section 92

Glory be unto Thee, O my God! Verily, this Thy servant and this Thy maidservant have gathered under the shadow of Thy mercy and are united through Thy favour and generosity. O Lord! Confirm them in Thy servitude and assist them in Thy service. Suffer them to become the signs of Thy name in Thy world and protect them through Thy bestowals which are inexhaustible in this world and the world to come. O Lord! They are supplicating the kingdom of Thy mercifulness and invoking the realm of Thy singleness. Verily, they are married in obedience to Thy command. Cause them to become the signs of harmony and unity until the end of time. Verily, Thou art the Omnipotent and the Almighty! (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 45-6)

Baha’i Marriage Bahá’í World Faith—Selected Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Section Only)
Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1976 edition Pages: 449

Shoghi Effendi

“Bahá’u’lláh has urged marriage upon all people as the natural and rightful way of life. He has also, however, placed strong emphasis on its spiritual nature, which, while in no way precluding a normal physical life, is the most essential aspect of marriage. That two people should live their lives in love and harmony is of far greater importance than that theyshould be consumed with passion for each other. The one is a great rock of strength on which to lean in time of need; the other a purely temporary thing which may at any time die out.” Lights of Guidance, no. 1268, pp. 378-9.

Being friends

NB. The Marriage Tablet, beginning “The bond that unite hearts most perfectly is loyalty…” This is not a tablet at all, but is an unauthenticated record by Ahmad Sohrab of a talk by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The friends may use it, but it should be made clear that this is not Bahá’í scripture.

He is God! O peerless Lord! In Thine almighty wisdom Thou hast enjoined marriage upon the peoples, that the generations of men may succeed one another in this contingent world,  and that ever, so long as the world shall last, they may busy themselves at the Threshold of  Thy oneness with servitude and worship, with salutation, adoration and praise. “I have not created spirits and men, but that they should worship me.” 1 Wherefore, wed Thou in the heaven of Thy mercy these two birds of the nest of Thy love, and make them the means of attracting perpetual grace; that from the union of these two seas of love a wave of tenderness may surge and cast the pearls of pure and goodly issue on the shore of life. “He hath let loose the two seas, that they meet each other: Between them is a barrier which they overpass not. Which then of the bounties of your Lord will ye deny? From each He bringeth up greater and lesser pearls.” 2

O Thou kind Lord! Make Thou this marriage to bring forth coral and pearls. Thou art verily the All­ Powerful, the Most Great, the Ever­ Forgiving. —‘Abdu’l­Bahá

Qur’án 51:56.

Qur’án 55:19–22

 

And when He [God] desired to manifest grace and beneficence to men, and to set the world in order, He revealed observances and created laws; among them He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well­being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: “Enter into wedlock, O people, that ye may bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants. This is My bidding unto you; hold fast to it as an assistance to yourselves.” (Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’í Prayers (US 2002), p. 118)

 

 

“Bahá’í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity….The true marriage of Bahá’ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God.” (‘Abdu’l­Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l­ Bahá, p. 118)

 

 

 

Deepening topics

February 1, 2016

Shareable Baha’i Resources

The following are compilations in process…

Principles of the Baha’i Faith

  1. The oneness of religion
  2. A spiritual solution to economic problems
  3. Abandonment of all forms of prejudice

  4. Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men

  5. Education of children

  6. Independent investigation of truth

  7. International auxiliary language
  8. Recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth

  9. Religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge
  10. The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth
  11. The establishment of a global commonwealth of nations
  12. Work is worship

  13. Unity in diversity

Spiritual teachings

The Virtues Project by The Virtues Project by Linda Kavelin Popov and Dan Popov lists assertiveness, caring, cleanliness, compassion, confidence, consideration, courage, courtesy, creativity, detachment, determination, enthusiasm, excellence, faithfulness, flexibility, forgiveness, friendliness, generosity, gentleness, gratitude,  helpfulness, honesty, honor, humility, idealism, joyfulness, justice, kindness, love, loyalty, mercy, moderation, modesty, obedience, orderliness, patience, peacefulness, prayerfulness, purposefulness, reliability, respect, responsibility, reverence, self-discipline, service, steadfastness, tact, thankfulness, tolerance, trust, trustworthiness, truthfulness, unity,

Living the Life

Consultation

Sacred Writings on backbiting

 

History of the Baha’i Faith

Heroes and heroines

Amelia Collins

Baha’i Faith in Alberta

Alberta Baha’i History

1961 ‘Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyuh Khanum Visits Peigan Indians During Tour of Canada

 

Other

The relational Self

Prayers

Selected messages from the Universal House of Justice

From the Baha’i International Community

Environment and sustainable development: a Baha’i perspective

 

Grasp the paintbrush

March 29, 2015

“I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, 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? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paint brush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.” Abdu’l-Bahá

 

Prayer

Talk presented at:
97 Cadogan Gardens, London,
December 26th, 1912

‘Should Prayer take the form of action?’

‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “Yes: In the Bahá’í Cause arts, sciences and all crafts are (counted as) worship. The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his 177 heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá. [1912-12-26] 1972).”

Sacred writings by Bahá’u’lláh, Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi entitled “Arts and Crafts” by was compiled and published as part of the Compilation of Compilations, Volume 1, pages 1-8 in 1991.

Examples from “Arts and Crafts”

Blessed are those who have fixed their gaze on the realm of glory and have followed the commandments of the Lord of Names. Blessed is he who in the days of God will engage in handicrafts. This is a bounty from God, for in this Most Great Dispensation it is acceptable in the sight of God for man to occupy himself in a trade which relieveth him of depending upon charity. The craft of every craftsman is regarded as worship. (Bahá’u’lláh from a Tablet – translated from the Persian)

One of the names of God is the Fashioner. He loveth craftsmanship. Therefore any of His servants who manifesteth this attribute is acceptable in the sight of this Wronged One. Craftsmanship is a book among the books of divine sciences, and a treasure among the treasures of His heavenly wisdom. This is a knowledge with meaning, for some of the sciences are brought forth by words and come to an end with words. (Bahá’u’lláh from a Tablet – translated from the Persian)

God grant that thou wilt exert thine utmost to acquire perfections, as well as proficiency in a craft. (Bahá’u’lláh from a Tablet – translated from the Persian)

The one true God, exalted be He, loveth to witness handiworks of high craftsmanship produced by His loved ones. Blessed art thou, for what thy skill hath produced hath reached the presence of thy Lord, the Exiled, the Wronged. Please God every one of His friends may be enabled to acquire one of the crafts, and be confirmed in adhering to what hath been ordained in the Book of God, the All- Glorious, the All-Wise. (Bahá’u’lláh from a Tablet – translated from the Persian and Arabic)

More postings from this blog on creativity:

Creativity: the arts at grassroots level

Promoting the Arts at the Grassroots: Realizing One’s Full Potential in the Arts

Deep Creativity: the power of story telling in everyday life