Search results

194 results found.

It has been a while

The last “Books” post was in July…and I have read a few books since then. 🙂 I am pretty sure that I’ve forgotten a few.

Freakonomics by Steven Levitt, Stephen J Dubner

Tablets of the Divine Plan: revealed by Abdu’l-Baha to the North American Bahais

One People One Planet: The Adventures of a World Citizen by Andre Brugiroux
Amazing story of the journey of one man who hitchhiked around the world.

Summon up Remembrance and Arches of the Years Marzieh Gail
These two books have become some of my favorites…it is about the first Persian-American Baha’i family, and gives a glimpse into the life of the early believers, as well as a fascinating perspective on Persian culture.

Still reading:
What Is the What by Dave Eggers
Shoutout to Bill O. for sending me this book…It is about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Incredible book, although sometimes painful to read.

The Great Adventure by Florence Mayberry
heartwarming, sweet, and amusing.

Shoghi Effendi: The Range and Power of His Pen by Ali Nakhjavani

Continue Reading

What a wonderful wedding…

Baha’i weddings are so unique…each couple’s style comes through in the ceremony. Two of my very dear friends got married this weekend, and I have to say it was one of the best weddings I’ve been to. There was the perfect mix of humor, reverence, joy, friendship, and love. Plus really good food and lots of dancing. 🙂

I discovered blisters on my feet the next day…no surprise there! Now that the wedding is over, I’m looking forward to the next time we all get dressed up and snazzy looking.

On a completely different note, I’ve been having bad luck with dogs recently. I was walking home the other night with some friends and a dog snapped at me for no reason! It snagged my coat with its teeth but didn’t manage to get me. Last night I was walking home, and as I reached the bottom of a set of stairs, two dogs were at the end of the sidewalk barking. They started coming toward me, so I ran all the way back up the stairs and walked around the long way. I am not normally afraid of dogs, but this is just getting ridiculous.

Continue Reading


I miss watching Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes with my dad.

My mother used to encourage us to set traps and build fortresses in the basement on cold Chicago days…or any other day.

1/3 of the times I climbed trees I would get stuck and ladder would have to be brought. I still climb trees at the age of 24. It’s just that there are few trees in Israel.

The backseat of the minivan was my territory on family road trips. I could lay there for hours daydreaming while the colors of whatever state we were driving through ran past the windows.

I used to fall asleep in the grass underneath the maple trees.

It is hard to remember how many toads and lizards we captured with our bare hands. We must have buried at least 3 or 4. My mother provided boxes from jewelry as coffins.

Daddy and Granddaddy put up a swingset in our backyard…the concept of concrete was fascinating.

Every time Mamanjoon would visit she would bring a container of baklava just for me, and sneak it to me and say “This is for you, no one else.”

Continue Reading

Last night

there were little pieces of the remnants of my heart on the sidewalk
last night
mixed in with the fallen leaves and snails
and we walked over unknowingly
with laughter and slight sighs
the closer to feeling, the more we talk to ourselves to fill silence…
I wonder what you would do if you knew.the sun is always in our eyes when we smile.

Continue Reading

One Year

As of December 8th (tomorrow), I will have been in Haifa, Israel for one year. I keep writing little pieces of some kind of summary, but my words have been failing for a while now.

I know I’ve changed, and am still exactly myself.

There is something to be said for solitude. I haven’t quite figured out the words yet…when I am alone I think in pictures and concepts and it reminds me of the pieces of the notes we wrote, the words we wrote and never kept. I wish I’d saved more than one or two, I don’t remember how I used to think anymore…and the tradgedy is that I forgot about my silence.

Enough of the self-analysis!

Life is wonderful, how could it not be? The Shrines…oh, how can words even be enough? I love the work that I am doing, my friends are solid and make me laugh.

Chicago was left behind in a whirlwhind of snow and goodbyes, Chicago comes to me through pilgrims, pictures, and stories. Haifa has always been home and will always be home, and the rain now makes me smile as I sleep in my balcony, the sharp taps on glass and streetlights flash.

Staring across the foggy sea from the balcony, the glowing clouds hover just inches above, the Terraces up to the left, the Shrine of the Bab just hovering through trees, an entire city sparkling and living…these will probably be my enduring memories. Who knows? There are so many things that change and stay the same.

Continue Reading

Science and Religion

My last post regarding science and religion was touched on very lightly, so I thought I’d explain a bit of where I am coming from.  The following excerpts explain much better than I ever could.

“Among the ancient philosophers the infallible way to knowledge was through logic. The different schools of logic weighed everything in the scales of cold scholasticism. As to religious people their criterion has ever been the sacred text which must be accepted as final. One is not allowed the slightest reflection. “The word of God,” they say, “is truth.” Inspiration is the fourth criterion. Occultists say, “I have had a revelation. This truth has been revealed to me.”   For them everything outside direct revelation is viewed with doubt. So we have indicated the four criterions: the senses, reason, the sacred text, inspirations. There is no fifth.

Let us speak of the first criterion — that of the senses. Contemporary philosophers say, “We have spent our time in universities and laboratories analyzing composition. We have not encountered the spirituality of God, or any sign of the soul’s existence. We are people of truth, intelligent, learned men, but we can find no proof of the existence of a divine being.”

The senses mistake a mirage for water; the eyes see the sun move; your train or boat seems immobile and the landscape seems to pass by, planets look like fixed points of light; but they have measurable dimensions. A lighted point set in rotation appears like a circle. These examples show the senses subject to error. How can we put our trust in them?

The test of logic is just as imperfect, for were this criterion perfect there would never have been the continual clash of opinion as to the sacred texts. How can they be interpreted by logic if the means be at fault?

Inspiration, what is it? Whence comes it? Is that which reaches our heart divine or satanic? How can we judge?

It is no proof of intelligence to reject everything which does not strike the senses. Nay, rather, such a one is brother to the animal. The cow has no idea of God; she does not know the soul. So the only difference between her highness the cow and a materialistic philosopher is that the latter takes a great deal of trouble! It is not a special or exclusive privilege to be the prisoner of one’s senses; the cow is the example of this theory.”

 (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 94)

“Until now it has been said that all religions were composed of tenets that had to be accepted, even if they seems contrary to science. Thanks be to God, that in this new cycle the admonition of [Baha’u’llah] is that in the search for truth man must weigh religious questions in the balance of science and reason. God has given us rational minds for this purpose, to penetrate all things, to find truth. If one renounce reason, what remains? The sacred texts? How can we understand God’s commands and to what use can we put them without the balance of reason?

The priests are attached to ancient superstitions and when these are not in keeping with science, the priests denounce science. When religion is upheld by science and reason we can believe with assurance and act with conviction, for this rational faculty is the greatest power in the world. Through it industries are established, the past and present are laid bare and the underlying realities are brought to light. Let us make nature our captive, break through all laws of limitation and with deep penetration bring to light that which is hidden. The power to do this  is the greatest of divine benefits. Why treat with indifference such a divine spark? Why ignore a faculty so beneficial, a sun so powerful?”

 (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 100)

Continue Reading

Lost my voice somewhere over the Atlantic

I am frustrated.

There used to be Baha’i songs, prayers, I was learning a new song every week in Chicago and there were people with rhythm around me. With no effort a voice would be raised in praise.

Today someone asked me to chant, and I could not think of a single prayer to chant, and fell back on one that I love but am so tired of singing.

I need new songs. There is no music in me, no instruments to pick up and raise to the sky to say “Look! I created something.” I create words that don’t rhyme (most of the time). But the one piece I own is my voice, and it is suffering, it is stifled.

I can’t create a harmony. I can lead people in song, I can sing solo decently, I am a high soprano with a wide range…but none of this matters because I can’t remember any songs or prayers any more.

The only way I memorize prayers is through song. And I can’t remember.

Continue Reading


I came back to Israel from Spain nearly 2 weeks ago, and I simply haven’t had a moment to sit down and write about it. Suddenly a few moments came together (something about a tear in the space-time continuum), and this post magically happened. Don’t ask me how, I have no clue.  Anyway, you can find pictures here.

  • I have never traveled in Europe before, and don’t know Spanish. But it was all extremely easy, thanks to my friend Lorenia. She offered her home for me to stay and was constantly translating for me. We had a wonderful time…I am so glad I decided to go.
  • It was a lot colder in Gijón than in Haifa, which I was not prepared for at all.
  • I went to the 19 Day Feast, a Ruhi Book 1 study circle, the Celebration of the Birth of the Báb (which lasted for 8 hours, and I ate a ridiculous amount of good food), and the Unit Convention (which is where the members of the community elect delegates to the National Convention). It was wonderful to be in a Bahá’í community again. I mean, I’m surrounded by Bahá’ís here in Haifa, but to be in a community where people are teaching the Faith, where things feel like home…it is hard to explain. The Bahá’ís in Gijón were lovely, caring, and opened their homes to us unreservedly.
  • The mosquitos liked me a lot there. We became best friends, for reals. I got several large welts on my arms and face, I felt like one of the crew members in Alien.
  • I discovered that I am perfectly content drinking several cups of coffee each day, as long as it is at a picturesque cafe in a lovely European city. It is very easy to get used to. 😉
  • Shopping. Oh my my my. Now, before I go and sound all materialistic on you, please note the above paragraphs, and keep in mind that I have been in ISRAEL for the last year, where dresses like this are considered acceptable:
  • The older people in Gijón (and probably in the rest of Europe) dress up in suits, hats, and smart shoes to walk around the city.  They stroll up and down the boardwalk, down the streets, and sit at cafés. I love it.

  • Continue Reading

    Over halfway

    September 8th marked the halfway point in my service in Haifa.  9 months left.

    I know that I’ve changed, that I’ve stayed the same.   There are so many beautiful moments, and I wish I could gather every beautiful soul into my hands and carry them with me anywhere I go in the world.  I wish I could explain everything here, or write it down, but recently words have been failing me.  Perhaps pictures would suffice.

    I am so, so happy here.  Autumn is slowly creeping around the corner, the pilgrim season starts in a few weeks, the magic of the smell of cold evenings still exists in the world.  

    The passing of the last Hand of the Cause of God is still too recent to even understand.  As far as I can remember, I had the bounty of meeting four of them (at least the ones I remember meeting).   `Alí-Muhammad Varqá, `Alí-Akbar Furútan, Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, and William Sears…and now they’re all gone.

    “The greatest attainment in the world of humanity is nearness to God. Every lasting glory, honor, grace and beauty which comes to man comes through nearness to God.”

     (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 147)

    Continue Reading


    Sunset last night was the start of Yom Kippur, which means that for 24 hours everything is shut down. I do mean everything. No one drives, so my flatmate and I went for a long walk….in the middle of the street. It was rather surreal.

    I haven’t heard Haifa this quiet…ever. I cleaned, baked, and read last night after soccer, it was extremely relaxing. Today I am having a day in the flat with a couple of girlfriends (food, movies, the usual), then going to see a play that a bunch of my friends are performing in/directing/helping with. Rather excited about that.

    Continue Reading

    10 Things I like about myself (to be thankful for!)

    Abi tagged me nearly a month ago to do this meme, and in between the chaos of birthdays (I think I’ve counted about 6 that I’ve celebrated in the last few weeks!) and other things (like, you know, life), I have not had a chance to do it.

    I am not going to tag people, because most of my friends have done this one already, or…they may not want to do it. At first when I was writing this list, I felt rather self-centered and narcissistic. But then I started thinking about it as a way to count my blessings and remind myself of how lucky I am.

    1. I am a Baha’i. This is the reason I am who I am.

    2. My genetic material. It is pretty darn good (thanks Mom & Dad!).

    3. I surprise people, especially when they make assumptions about my character/intellectual abilities based on superficial qualities such as my physical appearance.

    4. I am generally an optimist, but have a nice dose of cynicism to keep my feet on the ground.

    5. I used to be a shy person, and sometimes that is still there, but I made a conscious effort to overcome it over the last 8 years.

    6. I read a lot of books.

    7. I don’t hold grudges and it is very difficult for me to lie.

    8. I take care of people.

    9. I laugh easily.

    10. I know how to cook, and I love doing it.

    Continue Reading


    Mother, I am you today.
    I stretched my hands out in the sun,
    there were greetings in silent smiles, and I found a new song.
    Remember that there 3 dozen ways to read words,
    and I dropped the pieces of our hearts.I am a mirror image today, mother.
    There are the same curls in my hair, in the same places, I swear!
    The veins in my hands stand out the same way as I wash dishes,
    and maybe even my eyes smile like yours.
    Although mine are more veiled
    (oh the hazards of now…)

    Time does kind things to us,
    to recreate in exactly the same and different ways.

    Mother, I wish I could sing the way you do,
    there is a certainty in it.
    Maybe my children will hear in the words I whisper to them
    The echoes of you.

    Continue Reading


    I am strangled by time zone differences and my inability to communicate. I spent the day doing nothing except watching documentaries and baking gluten-free cookies. I didn’t even clean, respond to emails, make phone calls…not one useful thing.

    Oh, well I did paint my nails.

    Meals have been haphazard today. I am finding myself in strange places in my head. I slept only as much as the sun allowed me, woke up with my arm so asleep that it was no longer my own.

    I drank too much weak coffee last night, I talked too much and now everything is fuzzy because I no longer remember what stories I tell. There is no need to talk this much. I want to start over, start my stories over. I don’t want to be the same person any more. I want to be me again.

    Yesterday was a morning in the Hadar, entering stores, the feeling of fabric between my fingers and street vendors. I love the crowded vegetable stands with mangoes twice the size as usual, the butcher that says “Welcome to Israel!” (that beef was amazing in the stew, by the way). Roya, maybe I should have bought that magnet. 🙂

    I wish I could find one thing that consumes me…too much ambivalence is making me a very boring person. I wish I could gather stories to re-tell that make people hold their breath. I wish I could walk in the streets with nothing but time and photographs of the future and restless feet…

    and you.

    Continue Reading


    My feet had lost the feeling of ground underneath them, the constant digging in of sharp rocks and hidden stones
    I forget what people are like, their little frailties and habits, the beautiful and ugly things they do.

    I am hidden here, there is a plate glass window and my breath is fogging it beyond repair.

    Final steps have no place here, and I find myself wondering why final moments keep coming in front of my eyes…the unwished-for images that are some kind of violation to admit.

    I wonder when my capacity for chocolate chip cookies turned into sunlit afternoons, fire-warmed snowed-in evenings, and serving Persian tea on a Persian carpet in a home in any continent in the world (you pick). When did home become such a lost word?

    Today I finally remembered a piece of home (did you know that I’d forgotten?). It is freshly cut grass with trees overhead and the faint hum of suburban life.

    Or the sounds of ambulances for 4 hospitals mingled with music from everywhere, and the possibility of eating food from 15 different countries any time I want.

    Or limestone buildings with grandmothers on balconies, young men in jeans and American t-shirts and the sea behind it all.

    I can’t decide anymore.

    Continue Reading

    Chores, Family, and Pilgrimage

    It has been a busy week. Friends & family in town on pilgrimage, a consultant in the office, and social engagements. Whew! Today started another work week (remember, we work Sunday-Friday noon here), and I must say it was one of the busiest days I can remember in our office.

    Now I am home, looking longingly at a little art project I’d been wanting to finish, and a Harry Potter movie I bought for $4. Also, bed is looking really great (it is only 6:45 pm!). But the flat needs to be deep-cleaned, I need to cook food…

    My mom and little sister get to Haifa tonight, they’ve already landed in Israel. It has been 6 months since I’ve seen them, so I am pretty excited. Dad gets here Thursday, and we are all on pilgrimage starting June 25th, through July 4th. It has been 10 years since our last pilgrimage, and I’m not sure I’m even ready for it. But is anyone ever really ready?

    So now I start this week with a new focus on work, family, friends, and my relationship with the Baha’i Faith. I couldn’t be happier.

    Continue Reading

    Experiments in the kitchen!

    Recently I’ve been trying to expand my repertoire of dishes. Last night I made Sholeh zard for the first time (literal translation: yellow flame), which is basically saffron rice pudding. It is usually made in remembrance of the dead, but honestly it is one of my favorite Persian dishes. I had a bunch of friends try it and I got pretty decent reviews…and it is pretty easy to make.

    For dinner I was at a friend’s house after work, so I had a limited number of ingredients. I scrounged around (having brought slices of turkey lunchmeat and a red pepper), and this is what I came up with! Adjust amount according to how many people you are serving.

    olive oil
    red pepper (also known as Capsicum), sliced into thin strips
    mushrooms, sliced
    onion, diced
    garlic, diced
    pinch of basil
    cheese (I used Laughing Cow wedges)
    turkey slices (or bread)

    Prep time: 5 minutes
    Cook time: 10 minutes

    Fry the olive oil, garlic, onion, and red pepper in a pan until the onion starts to turn clear. Add the mushrooms, basil, salt, pepper. At the very end, add the cheese on top and let it melt slightly (not too much).

    I wrapped the finished mixture in turkey slices to eat since I can’t eat bread, but you can experiment and see what you like to do.

    Continue Reading

    Is this still happening?

    I saw this article on CNN the other day, and wondered if I had gone back in time to the time of the Civil Rights movement.

    “Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday. In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.”‘” ‘There was not anybody that I can remember that was black,” she said. “The white people have theirs, and the black people have theirs. It’s nothing racial at all.’ “

    The first thing I thought was, “Aren’t there any students who come from mixed ethnicities? Do they have to ‘identify’ as a particular race to attend the white or black dances?” I was happy to see that the initiative was finally taken to have one prom, but the fact that it has taken so long (and that there is still resistance to it) is so sad.

    There is no reason that I can possibly fathom to separate based on skin color. I was lucky enough to be raised in a Baha’i family, and the Baha’i Writings are very clear on the subject of racial harmony:

    “It is racial, patriotic, religious and class prejudice, that has been the cause of the destruction of Humanity.”“One of the great reasons of separation is colour. Look how this prejudice has power in America, for instance. See how they hate one another! Animals do not quarrel because of their colour! Surely man who is so much higher in creation, should not be lower than the animals. Think over this. What ignorance exists! White doves do not quarrel with blue doves because of their colour, but white men fight with dark-coloured men. This racial prejudice is the worst of all.”

    -Abdu’l-Baha, 1911

    Our children deserve better than to be taught to hate each other, for any reason.

    Continue Reading

    Around a corner

    there are patterns in hallucination

    there are a dozen ways to look down upon a place you once knew

    I know those summer afternoons in a city,

    watch as the flowered sun dresses of the elite clatter by

    the shiny shoes of the well to do reflect sunlight

    more painfully than metal.

    I love the patterns of leaves in golden sunlight

    as cars rush by, not understanding my pace.

    there are things I remember, just around the corner.

    Continue Reading


    Last night I walked down the long gravel path arm in arm with my flatmate. We looked at the sky with scattered stars over an empty field, and the lights shining behind and in front of us. Saturday evenings at Bahji are priceless. I will look back on these short days with longing, and I am so glad that I know this now.

    In the winter it smells like roses in the Shrines, and in the summer I remember the smell of jasmine. At sunset the trees are aflame and the shadows grow slowly when I circle the gardens. At night there are the shimmering globes that give off a cool illumination, isolated spots of focus in the darkness.

    I gazed at the ceiling, my knees pressed against the thick carpets and my hands folded in my lap. The vines, stones, flowers, and metal intertwine, the softness of the silence contrasts with the brightly lit room.

    “Let thy soul glow with the flame of this undying Fire that burneth in the midmost heart of the world, in such wise that the waters of the universe shall be powerless to cool down its ardor.”

    (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings, p. 38)

    Continue Reading

    Things I am discovering

    – Red, yellow, & green peppers aren’t quite as bad as I thought. For as long as I can remember I have picked them out of dishes and avoided them. The other night I made chicken fajitas for a party and realized that I actually DO like them.

    Labneh is my new addiction…since I can’t eat pita bread, I usually eat it with corn chips. YUM.

    – I know how to make Maki-zushi now. Funny that I had to come to Israel to finally learn. I miss Cafe J.K. Sweet (the rather odd restaurant we used to frequent back home), but now that I can make my own california rolls I’ll just be sure to stock my fridge with ice cream for that wonderful J.K. Sweet experience.

    -Speaking of ice cream, unless you manage to get ahold of some Ben & Jerry’s or gelato, the major brand here just isn’t very satisfying…it melts rather quickly and has an odd consistency. Ah well.

    – I love my flatmates.

    In conclusion, I realize that this entry is mostly about food (during the Fast!). I am ok with that.

    Continue Reading

    Secret Door

    there are secrets in the way
    eyelashes touch skin
    in the way we sidestep battlefields
    burying our smiles in murmurs
    we are perfect strangers.

    This weekend, the first two days of the Fast (our weekend is Friday & Saturday, remember!)…was exactly what I needed. A delightful breakfast with my flatmates the first morning, shopping in the sunlight (I’ve invested in a DVD player & perused an art store), movies, breakfast on the Saturday morning with most of the people in my apartment building, Saturday afternoon at Bahji, and finally dinner at my apartment to break the Fast with friends.

    It makes up for an Ayyam-i-Ha that was a bit less than stellar. 🙂

    I finished reading Muhammad and the Course of Islam, am almost done with The World Order of Baha’u’llah, and read Tuesdays with Morrie, which I highly recommend. This weekend I started Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, but I am also looking for some lighter reading to supplement.

    Continue Reading


    I’ve been feeling rather like this animal recently:
    (On the Terraces, Thursday night)

    At this moment, I am working my way through a container of hummus (with tortilla chips instead of pita bread, of course). Last night I read about 450 pages of a fantasy book I borrowed because of extreme boredom. And my flatmates and I rearranged the flat in a heroic effort of furniture shifting and dust bunny battles. So perhaps I am not as slow-moving as I think in my own head.

    It is starting to be spring here in Haifa, with the accompanying crazy weather patterns. Yesterday there was hamsin, today torrential downpours.

    I think people think that I’m a rather busy person. Perhaps I am…my Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are usually quite booked with classes. I guess I just don’t see things as busy here…maybe that will change.

    Continue Reading

    Some definitions for you.


    1. the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
    2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
    3. freedom from deceit or fraud.

    1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

    Beautify your tongues, O people, with truthfulness, and adorn your souls with the ornament of honesty. Beware, O people, that ye deal not treacherously with any one. Be ye the trustees of God amongst His creatures, and the emblems of His generosity amidst His people. They that follow their lusts and corrupt inclinations, have erred and dissipated their efforts. They, indeed, are of the lost. Strive, O people, that your eyes may be directed towards the mercy of God, that your hearts may be attuned to His wondrous remembrance, that your souls may rest confidently upon His grace and bounty, that your feet may tread the path of His good-pleasure. Such are the counsels which I bequeath unto you. Would that ye might follow My counsels!-Gleanings From the Writings of Bahᒵ?llᨼ/i>

    Honesty with tact, trust without being naive.Self-honesty, then honesty with others, finally resulting in being a person whom others can be honest with. How hard do we make it for those around us to be honest with us? Do we have natural inclinations to protect our hearts/egos/etc by not allowing honesty, even from those closest to us?

    All of those walls that make it so hard to trust, and yet we reach out for the company of other human beings, share with them our hearts and hopes, our fears.

    Do we encourage each other to strive toward these things? I guess we’re all striving.

    Continue Reading

    Do I exist?

    I questioned my own existence for a moment last week. It only lasted for a second, but it was quite terrifying. While in conversation on MSN with one of my friends back home, she asked “Sholeh, is that you talking to me, or someone pretending to be you?”

    I sat back and thought about it for a second. Was I really carrying on a conversation, or had my body been taken over by aliens or evil spirits or a person with a talent for such things? A million questions ran through my head as I sat there, stunned.

    It was extremely disconcerting. It turns out that I had been giving one-syllable answers to her conversation, and this worried her since most of my friends know that I rarely stop talking.

    Hello to all of you BWC folks discovering my blog. 🙂 Don’t be shy to make comments or come up randomly to me in the lunchroom. I’m only a little scary, I promise. We can have awkward conversations and smile across our trays of food.

    Continue Reading

    Little did I know…

    I thought I was prepared. I had the box of cereal ready, and I remembered that I had strawberries in the fridge. I casually open the fridge to get the milk…

    horrors! NO MILK!

    So instead I feasted on some hummus and cheese with chips. For breakfast. haha.

    Interesting topic at lunch today: What motivates people in the workplace? Some would say money, but of course we know that it is so much more than that. And then you take a unique place like the Baha’i World Centre (where I am serving), where people come to serve, not to climb the corporate ladder or start a company.How do we motivate the people around us in the workplace? People usually think of motivation in a “top-down” approach: that is, the upper levels of an organization use incentives of some kind to coax employees to work at a certain level. But what happens when employees take an active role in managing the people they report to? When they explain to their managers how they work best? When working on a team, do we take the time to figure out each other’s styles of project management or personal interaction?
    I am now halfway through The Tipping Point, started Reading Lolita in Tehran, and about 1/3 of the way through Muhammad and the Course of Islam. I am having so much fun reading these books. I think I will want to read the last one a second time, since I feel like I’m getting the story, but not enough to explain to people.

    Continue Reading

    On the nature of the soul.

    I was reading the latest issue of Discover magazine tonight, which had an article called “The God Experiments”. (Sorry, you have to be a subscriber to read the whole article.) They highlight different attempts at researching religion and religious experiences through science (mostly attempts by scientists to debunk religion, which seems like a waste of time to me, but whatever). Suffice to say that some of the ways they have of doing this are kind of wacky (like electromagnetic stimulation of the brain and other experiments/research).

    Tonight I couldn’t sleep, and as I browsed Ocean I found the following references to the nature of the soul, which reminded me of this article. I’m continually fascinated by science and religion (having been raised in a simultaneously religious/scientific household). And I am always surprised to see how much religion bothers scientists, and vice versa. 🙂

    Be it known that to know the reality or essence of the soul of man is impossible, for in order to know a thing, one must comprehend it, and since a thing cannot comprehend itself, to know one’s self in substance or essence is impossible. As the comprehender cannot be comprehended, man cannot know himself in reality or essence. In order to obtain knowledge of any reality, or soul of man, the student must study the manifestations, qualities, names and characteristics of man. This much can be stated, that the reality of man is a pure and unknown essence constituting a depository, emanating from the light of the Ancient Entity — God.

    (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 405)

    Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.

    (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 158)

    Continue Reading

    When will we learn?

    “O Son of Man! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.”

    (Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words)

    Are we so careless with our words and love for each other as human beings that we find it acceptable to so easily toss our assumptions and accusations out to the world at large? Why is it so easy to say hurtful and damaging things about each other without a second thought? We have so much work to do to heal this world, and instead we concern ourselves with the faults of others.

    In ‘Star of the West’…there is a record of a reply given by ‘Abdu’l-Bah in a private interview in Paris in 1913. He was asked ‘How shall I overcome seeing the faults of others – recognizing the wrong in others?’, and He replied: ‘I will tell you. Whenever you recognize the fault of another, think of yourself! What are my imperfections? – and try to remove them. Do this whenever you are tried through the words or deeds of others. Thus you will grow, become more perfect. You will overcome self, you will not even have time to think of the faults of others…’

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 89)

    Continue Reading

    The worth of words

    This article by Michael Rogers was brought to my attention a few days ago. It puts forth the idea that in the future the need to analyze and extrapolate a complex book will not be a skill that most people need.

    Its time to acknowledge that in a truly multimedia environment of 2025, most Americans dont need to understand more than a hundred or so words at a time, and certainly will never read anything approaching the length of an old-fashioned book.

    It is hard to tell whether the author is kidding…for example:

    The nations leaders must be able to read; for those who follow, the ability should be strictly optional.

    In any case, this is a subject that I am passionate about. I remember arguing with my high school English teachers over the choice of reading material, whether it was Grendel or Catcher in the Rye (not that my teachers had any control, it was set up by the school district).

    (used book store back home)

    I was raised to love books, to dive into a 600 page book with no thought to the fact that it was bigger than my head. I tend toward fantasy & sci-fi, but love everything else nearly as much. I would not have the ability to write as I do, the ability to edit documents and read as fast as I do if I had not been encouraged from a very early age to read anything I could get my hands on.

    It isn’t necessarily that someone must be a “book-worm” to learn to enjoy reading. Kids are often given books that are boring in school, forced to read things in class that they can’t connect to, and thus the process of reading is turned into a chore.


    Continue Reading

    So quiet here.

    The sky and the slate roofs of the warehouses are almost the same shade of grey, blending into each other today. A good weekend of family, friends, the Baha’i House of Worship (always home to me, no matter what and how much time passes).

    Phone call from friend currently traveling across the United States by car: “Sholeh, can my friend stay with you? She is stranded in Chicago for a night and needs somewhere to sleep. We were hanging out in Ohio, but she is from Portland.” Ok! It is always fun to have random people around.

    I am no longer surprised that the vastness of our world is continually reduced. Everyone is connected somehow, you just have to unravel the threads.

    Do any fellow Chicagoans remember the Great Flood of 1992? I remember watching footage of people in scuba gear and hard hats looking very grim. I went on a boat tour of the river & lake in the Loop on Saturday…the history of places is interesting and necessary to understand. I look forward to travels to places where the layers of cities and villages seem endless, buried under dirt and time.

    Continue Reading

    I learned something?!

    My accounting and finance professors will be happy to know that I remember some of the things they taught me.

    I had a moment of shock during corporate training yesterday. I was able to answer a question about depreciation off the top of my head. I didn’t even have to think about it. This happened a few other times, as well.

    Training was the epitomy of all corporate stuff I ever imagined. The swanky meeting room, glass pitchers of water tastefully scattered, notepads with the hotel logo stamped on them, and good food. I really can’t complain. I imagine if I did it every day I’d go crazy (every hotel looks the same after a while).

    We played games and I sat with some “higher-ups”. I was definitely the youngest person there.

    Continue Reading