Some definitions for you.

(from Dictionary.com)

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

trust:
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>

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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.

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Arrival

I am in Haifa. It is wonderful. It has been so warm (compared to Chicago, I guess), nights are a little chillier.

Barely jetlagged (yay!), and I haven’t had time to really catch up on everything. My roommates are wonderful and have been really helpful.

Prayers, all the time. Surrounded by prayers. Everything is started with a prayer. It makes me so calm. I needed this.

These short, barely-sentences have been the way my mind has been working since I got here. I love this place, but I will need some time to get used to it all.

And now I leave you with this view, which I see every day. Do you see the Shrine of the Bab? 🙂

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The traveling dress

Mom and I got to hang out tonight and catch up on things while I made necklaces (one of my hobbies). Surrounded by my suitcases, she told me that one of the dresses that is in the “undecided” pile of clothing has seen a lot of the world. It went from Germany to Iran, back to Germany, then to Wyoming, USA (all in 1978). That put it in the suitcase, just because I want to wear something that has traveled the world as much as I have, and that is older than me. I always vaguely knew it was a well-traveled dress, but the specific story did it for me. 🙂

‘What is the purpose of our lives?’‘Abdu’l-Baha– ‘To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom — from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms, that we may possess the best qualities of the mineral, that we may acquire the power of growing as in the plant, that we may be adorned with the instincts of the animal and possess the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, until from the animal kingdom we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.’(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 176)

Wert thou to consider this world, and realize how fleeting are the things that pertain unto it, thou wouldst choose to tread no path except the path of service to the Cause of thy Lord. None would have the power to deter thee from celebrating His praise, though all men should arise to oppose thee.

(Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 314)

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2 weeks.

I leave in exactly 2 weeks. To go here. To work in this building:

wow.

It has been an interesting process, the last few weeks of packing and saying goodbyes. I am trying to not become a hermit (which is very easy for me to do, actually, and surprises my friends quite a bit when I do it, since I am naturally a social human being). I am trying to spend time with my family.

I’ve seen some pretty good movies in the last week…Stranger Than Fiction (loved it), Flushed Away (cute), Casino Royale (liked it muchly), and The Departed (liked it, but was tired at the end).

A highly recommended book to read: 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles C. Mann. Absolutely fascinating, and definitely worth your time.

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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)

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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)

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How do we reach God?

Adam L pointed out this article to me about an art piece called a “Prayer Antenna” by Paul Davies. This started me thinking about why people of all faiths (or of no faith in particular) pray.

Wikipedia has a good article on definitions of prayer, and how people practice in different religions. One of the questions asked is: “If God is all-knowing, then doesn’t God already know what we are going to ask for before we pray?” Another is: “Do human beings actually have the ability to praise an omniscient and omnipotent God?”

Abdu’l-Baha, the Son of Baha’u’llah, who Baha’is believe is the most recent Manifestation of God, says this about why we need to pray:

“O thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked the wisdom of prayer. Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory, and man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from performing the prayer unless he be mentally unsound, or an insurmountable obstacle prevent him. The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state ( i.e., prayer) man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing; that is why with every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for His mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity. Beside all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests.”


(Baha’i prayer beads)
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On a completely silly note, when I was enlisting Paul’s help to provide the picture for this entry, he made this statement:“Prayer beads are for Baha’is what light sabers are for Jedi Knights. Each must construct his own.”

I nearly fell out of my chair, I was laughing so hard. (Paul is this site’s webmaster and a dear spiritual brother.)

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Searching

Last night at the Junior Youth Animator training we read the following quotation from the Baha’i Writings:

“The more we search for ourselves, the less likely we are to find ourselves; and the more we search for God, and to serve our fellow-men, the more profoundly will we become acquainted with ourselves, and the more inwardly assured. This is one of the great spiritual laws of life.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 18, 1954)

It made me think a lot about how we go about the process of searching for ourselves. When we say we are “lost” or need to go find ourselves, and often “disappear” from the world in order to facilitate that process. But the Guardian (Shoghi Effendi) is clear as to how the process of spiritual growth and transformation is to occur: through worship of God and service to others!

I’m still figuring out how I want to present myself to the world, of course. Last night, out of several conversations, I started thinking about why I do certain things in different situations. This is not to over-analyze myself, but rather to understand my own motives and actions in order to learn and grow. How we choose to act outwardly reflects our inner selves.

“Man’s evolution is both individual and collective, because of his twofold relationship to himself and to the society in which he lives. Individual evolution starts with the early stages of one’s existence. Consciousness too grows with this evolution.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 14, 1938)

We can’t separate ourselves from society. Monasticism and similar activities are discouraged. We are to grow spiritually by being a part of the community around us. Sometimes our communities can test us, our fellow Baha’is can be a trial. The state of the world is crumbling and it is easy to feel hopeless. The link below has a wonderful quote.

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Baha’i Youth Arrested in Iran

54 Baha’is were arrested on Friday because they were doing humanitarian service. They were tutoring poor children (with a permit from the local government), and were ARRESTED. Some of them are 16, 17, 18 year olds. Think about 54 of your local high school students and members of your community being arrested because they were tutoring children.

Think about the fact that these Baha’i youth are not allowed to go to college because they are Baha’is. Baha’i marriage is not seen as valid in Iran. The Iranian government has been very clear about the fact that they wish to wipe out the Baha’i community in Iran. They disseminate hateful and false propaganda against a peaceful minority.

“The arrests come against a backdrop of increasing concern by international human rights monitors that the Iranian Government is escalating its 25-year-long campaign of persecution against the 300,000-member Baha’i community of Iran, the largest religious minority in that country…”

Don’t allow yourself to be ignorant. Please say prayers for the Baha’is in Iran, and for all of the people around the world who suffer human rights abuses every day.

I adjure Thee by Thy might, O my God! Let no harm beset me in times of tests, and in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration. Thou art God, potent art Thou to do what Thou desirest. No one can withstand Thy Will or thwart Thy Purpose.
-The Bab

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A prayer

O my God! O Thou forgiver of sins, bestower of gifts, dispeller of afflictions!

Verily, I beseech Thee to forgive the sins of such as have abandoned the physical garment and have ascended to the spiritual world.

O my Lord! Purify them from trespasses, dispel their sorrows, and change their darkness into light. Cause them to enter the garden of happiness, cleanse them with the most pure water, and grant them to behold Thy splendors on the loftiest mount.

-Abdu’l-Baha

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In no particular order!

1. If any of you reading this know CSS and can help me fix the banner at the top of my blog, PLEASE email me. Please. I have done as much as I can on my own and am currently at a loss. Thank you so much, Ezra!!

2. I have been invited to be a Youth Guest at the Baha’i National Convention this weekend. I attend Convention every year, but this is different. (National Convention is where the Baha’is of the United States elect their National Spiritual Assembly.) I am very excited…not only to I get to spend time with friends, but I get to watch this beautiful process happen. Such a blessing.

3. I got to see three of my closest friends last night, at different times, and it made me happy. My friend Sarah is here from Conneticut… I don’t think Chicago will be able to handle both of us. Mwahaha.

4. Wedding invite #4 for this year so far. Oh yes, I’ve got the dancing shoes ready. 🙂

5. Brought out my bike on Monday! It is so much more efficient to pedal around the city sometimes. I get my errands and my workout done at once.

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Tabula Rasa

On one of the Baha’i web forums I am on, someone posted about Tabula Rasa, a new Baha’i arts magazine. I just read through the entire premiere issue, and it is professional, well-written, and informative.

From the site:
Tabula Rasa, where art and spirit converge … gently, intelligently, meaningfully…

…Tabula Rasa has been created to celebrate the Creator in all of us, to express our pure wonderment and joy at Gods revelation of the word Fashioner and to explore its myriad meanings….

I am very, very impressed. They’re calling for submissions. I keep saying that I am surrounded by incredibly talented individuals…and I feel like there are some of you that don’t share that talent with the world nearly as much as you should. It is not meant to be kept hidden, or only shared with a few friends.

The purpose of art, in my mind, is to rejuevenate, uplift, raise questions, and inspire awe.

I’ve also updated the links on the right. I’ll probably be adding more as time goes on, so feel free to send me an email if you know of a link that I should have up.

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UN RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OFFICIAL EXPRESSES FEARS FOR BAHA’IS IN IRAN

UNITED NATIONS, 20 March 2006 (BWNS) — Representatives of the Baha’i International Community reacted with alarm today to a United Nations official’s statement about actions of the Iranian government against the Baha’is in Iran.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Asma Jahangir, stated that she was highly concerned and expressed her apprehensions in a press release posted today about “a confidential letter sent on 29 October 2005 by the Chairman of the Command Headquarters of the Armed Forces in Iran to a number of governmental agencies.”

“The letter,” she said, “which is addressed to the Ministry of Information, the Revolutionary Guard and the Police Force, states that the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, had instructed the Command Headquarters to identify persons who adhere to the Baha’i faith and monitor their activities. The letter goes on to request the recipients to, in a highly confidential manner, collect any and all information about members of the Baha’i faith.”

“We are grateful that Ms. Jahangir has brought this activity to light,” said Bani Dugal, the Baha’i International Community’s principal representative to the UN. “We share her concern for the welfare of the Baha’is and shudder to think what this might mean. Because of the unprecedented character of the government’s action, we are addressing a request to the Ambassador of Iran for an explanation.”

Ms. Jahangir also “considers that such monitoring constitutes an impermissible and unacceptable interference with the rights of members of religious minorities.”

“The Special Rapporteur’s concern that such information could be ‘used as a basis for the increased persecution of, and discrimination against, members of the Baha’i faith’ is clearly well-founded,” said Ms. Dugal.

Such actions come in the wake of mounting media attacks on the Baha’is, the nature of which in the past have preceded government-led assaults on the Baha’is in Iran. “Kayhan,” the official Tehran daily newspaper has carried more than 30 articles about the Baha’is and their religion in recent weeks, all defamatory in ways that are meant to create provocation. Radio and television programs have joined in as well with broadcasts condemning the Baha’is and their beliefs. In addition, the rise in influence in Iranian governmental circles of the Anti-Baha’i Society, Hojjatieh, an organization committed to the destruction of the Baha’i Faith, can only heighten the fears for that beleaguered community.

“We well know what hateful propaganda can lead to; recent history offers too many examples of its horrific consequences. We make an urgent appeal to all nations and peoples on behalf of our Iranian coreligionists that they not allow a peace-loving, law-abiding people to face the extremes to which blind hate can lead,” said Ms. Dugal. “The ghastly deeds that grew out of similar circumstances in the past should not now be allowed to happen. Not again.”

Full story here: http://www.bahaiworldnews.org/story/432

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The Fast

“Well is it with you, as you have followed the Law of God and arisen to observe the Fast during these blessed days, for this physical fast is a symbol of the spiritual fast. This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love.”

-‘Abdu’l-Baha

Yesterday Baha’is all over the world began the time of the Fast. This year was the first time since leaving home that I’ve had people to eat breakfast with. We (roommates/friends/friends of friends) have decided to combine our superhero strength at 5:30 am to cook breakfast, eat, and pray together. I must say that it is a singularly wonderful experience so far. We’ve laughed, caused messes in the kitchen (have you ever seen 5 people trying to cook at the same time?). We have two vegetarians and a gluten-intolerant person…we end up analyzing food to make sure everyone has something to eat.

I’ve not had horrible hunger pangs so far, strangely enough. If you spend any time with me you know that I eat all the time. But it is rather nice not to have such a huge focus on food. The Fast is wonderful. And this year has been the best yet.

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Inspiration

“O maidservant of God! Thy letter dated 9 December 1918 was received. Its contents were noted. Never lose thy trust in God. Be thou ever hopeful, for the bounties of God never cease to flow upon man. If viewed from one perspective they seem to decrease, but from another they are full and complete. Man is under all conditions immersed in a sea of God’s blessings. Therefore, be thou not hopeless under any circumstances, but rather be firm in thy hope.”

-Abdul-Bah

Chicago from Lake Shore Drive at night…

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Denial of Education to Baha’i youth

http://denial.bahai.org

Read this. Whether you’re a Baha’i or not…if you’ve ever had access to higher education, even if you didn’t take advantage of it…you’re luckier than the Baha’i youth in Iran.

The government has used a very simple mechanism to exclude Bahs from higher education: it has simply required that everyone who takes the national university entrance examination declare their religion. And applicants who indicate other than one of the four officially recognized religions in Iran Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism are excluded.
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Like young people everywhere, Bah youth in Iran desperately desire the opportunities and insights that come with higher education. This is especially so because the teachings of their faith stress the importance of knowledge and learning and because those same teachings also emphasizes the importance of contributing to society at large.

Over the last 25 years, the only source of protection and encouragement for the Iranian Bah community has been international concern, as expressed through the United Nations, by governments, and in the news media.

One can only hope that the worlds academic leaders will now follow suit in protesting the blatantly unjust oppression that continues to confront the young people of Irans Bah community.

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Uplifted

Im a question mark
Walking talking question mark
But what is the question again…
Life may sometimes be sad
But its always beautiful

– “Whats the Use”, Jamie Lidell

I watched a shadow of the Milky Way
twist beyond the flames of a bonfire
let my feet drag in cold green water
and the sun soak into skin
I heard words, took them in
rewrote the song of my soul
just a little bit.

I fell in love again
all things go, all things go
I drove to Chicago
all things know, all things know…

– “Chicago”, Sufjan Stevens

My birthday is in 5 days, and I feel like maybe I am just starting to appreciate the age that I am.

Don’t underestimate the power of a bike ride at the end of August around the city of Chicago. Or a weekend trip to the middle of nowhere.

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Teaching

I’m still working on reading Child of the Covenant, which is definitely one of my favorite books now. There is a chapter on the subject of teaching the Faith which I really enjoyed, and wanted to share some of the Writings and paragraphs from it.

The Cause of Bah’u’llh is founded on the truth of God’s Revelation and truth cannot be clothed in false standards. It cannot employ the techniques of salesmanship, propaganda, expediency and compromise. The methods used in the commercial world to attract people to new ideas, such as extravagant and sensational publicity based on slogans, extreme statements and similar gimmicks, are all alien to the Cause of God.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 249)

This paragraph really hit home for me. I study management and marketing. In the business world, the goal is to make your product stand out, have something different to offer (or seem to have something different). Whatever ploy the marketer can use is fair game. However, in the Baha’i Faith, we have no need of such things. The Faith stands out on its own.

Throughout His ministry Bah’u’llh exhorted His followers to teach the Cause of God with great wisdom. He did not approve of teaching the public indiscriminately.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 250)

In his teaching work a Bah’ presents the message of Bah’u’llh as one would offer a gift to a king. Since his primary object in teaching is not to increase numbers but rather to bring a soul to its God, a Bah’ ought to approach his fellow men with feelings of love and humility and, above all, take to them the transforming power of Bah’u’llh and nothing of himself. Indeed, if he tries to project himself by impressing upon the listener his knowledge and accomplishments and if he aims to establish the ascendancy of his arguments while teaching the Faith, then the power of Bah’u’llh cannot reach him.
(Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 249)
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“God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of teaching His Cause. Whoever ariseth to discharge this duty, must needs, ere he proclaimeth His Message, adorn himself with the ornament of an upright and praiseworthy character, so that his words may attract the hearts of such as are receptive to his call. Without it, he can never hope to influence his hearers.”
(Bah’u’llh, Gleanings, p. 335)

“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.”
(Bah’u’llh, Gleanings, p. 278)

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July 3rd

The questions are leaping ahead of answers, right now.
I keep writing to stay in the game,
or maybe just to stay sane.
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I have two days of the year that are my favorites. The first is Naw-Ruz (the Baha’i New Year), and the second is the picnic at the Hazirih for staff of the Baha’i National Center and volunteers of the House of Worship. I think this year I might belong in both categories. hah. Anyways, I go every year and it is almost like a giant “family” reunion. It is all capped off by fireworks, watched from a beach on Lake Michigan. *sigh* whee!

Anyways, last year was a disappointment, but the weather today is gorgeous, and I’m very excited.

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Fountain

This is the first time
that I truly understood this.
I sit back in wonder, my face lit
by the computer screen
and I’m aware of everything,
sensing the truth innately.
When I pray, it is beyond form
reaching out now, to seek home.
This is a gift, a dream…

(Fountain at night at the House of Worship, click to enlarge)

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Service

We did service at the Chicago Baha’i Center today.

It was a small group (remarkably smaller than the group that shows up at say….beach volleyball). But we ended up having a good time, ate food, and took care of the Center. I love being able to make sure that the Center is clean and people can come there for any event, and that the children have a place to have children’s classes.

A lot of people don’t realize the work that needs to be done there. It is an old building, and needs a lot of care. Painting, weeding, sanding, light bulb replacement, plumbing, electrical work…the list never ends.

Someday we’ll have a new Center, but for now…this is what we’ve got.

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Technology–>unlikely places

This article is about Internet connections being set up in rural areas to help connect remote villages to the rest of the world.

I think that this is amazing. I know that the India is trying to get more technological access to the poorer population. This article talks about how businesses are discovering the value of catering to this large population, while at the same time doing a great service to the people who would normally not have access to this kind of thing.

Why is an internet connection so important? Especially when so many basic needs are not being met? If you read the articles, there is an interesting phenomenon happening. In the Brazil case, the computer literate people in the community teach those who are illiterate how to use the computer. The villagers download lesson plans, and are able to trade products more easily. This one computer that they all share allows them to educate themselves.

In India, the majority of users are women! Imagine the effect that this has on these villages.

I’ve put some quotations from the Baha’i Writings about education below. Comments on this subject, anyone? Concerns, thoughts? I’d like to hear what people think.

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Naw-Ruz

It is the Baha’i New Year, Naw-Ruz. It is also the Persian New Year. When I went home last night I was greeted with a haft-sin table, which included a lot of very cute goldfish swimming merrily in a bowl. I also got to eat a great deal of my mother’s ghormeh-sabzi and tea. I couldn’t move for a little while after that.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day, and that this new year is full of joy for you. I’m going to party tonight! wheee!

IM000597.JPG
(A chocolate Naw-Ruz greeting I made. haha)

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True friendship

Sometimes, my friends, it is easy to get caught up in things. Inspiration and guidance is always found in the Writings. We are here on this planet for a reason. 😉
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The advent of the prophets and the revelation of the Holy Books is intended to create love between souls and friendship between the inhabitants of the earth. Real love is impossible unless one turn his face towards God and be attracted to His Beauty.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 505)

The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits. This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 180)

Strive ye by day and night to cultivate your unity to the fullest degree. Let your thoughts dwell on your own spiritual development, and close your eyes to the deficiencies of other souls. Act ye in such wise, showing forth pure and goodly deeds, and modesty and humility, that ye will cause others to be awakened.

Never is it the wish of ‘Abdu’l-Bah to see any being hurt, nor will He make anyone to grieve; for man can receive no greater gift than this, that he rejoice another’s heart. I beg of God that ye will be bringers of joy, even as are the angels in Heaven.

(Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 203)

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On Women, Motherhood, and Education

The first duty of the beloved of God and the maid-servants of the Merciful is this: They must strive by all possible means to educate both sexes, male and female; girls like boys; there is no difference whatsoever between them. The ignorance of both is blameworthy, and negligence in both cases is reprovable. “Are they who know and they who do not know equal?”

The command is decisive concerning both. If it be considered through the eye of reality, the training and culture of daughters is more necessary than that of sons, for these girls will come to the station of motherhood and will mold the lives of the children. The first trainer of the child is the mother. The babe, like unto a green and tender branch, will grow according to the way it is trained. If the training be right, it will grow right, and if crooked, the growth likewise, and unto the end of life it will conduct itself accordingly.

Hence, it is firmly established that an untrained and uneducated daughter, on becoming a mother, will be the prime factor in the deprivation, ignorance, negligence and the lack of training of many children.

O ye beloved of God and the maid-servants of the Merciful! Teaching and learning, according to the decisive texts of the Blessed Beauty, is a duty. Whosoever is indifferent therein depriveth himself of the great bounty.

Beware! Beware! that ye fail not in this matter. Endeavor with heart, with life, to train your children, especially the daughters. No excuse is acceptable in this matter.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 398)

In some respects woman is superior to man. She is more tender-hearted, more receptive, her intuition is more intense.

It is not to be denied that in various directions woman at present is more backward than man, also that this temporary inferiority is due to the lack of educational opportunity. In the necessity of life, woman is more instinct with power than man, for to her he owes his very existence.

If the mother is educated then her children will be well taught. When the mother is wise, then will the children be led into the path of wisdom. If the mother be religious she will show her children how they should love God. If the mother is moral she guides her little ones into the ways of uprightness.

It is clear therefore that the future generation depends on the mothers of today. Is not this a vital responsibility for the woman? Does she not require every possible advantage to equip her for such a task?

Therefore, surely, God is not pleased that so important an instrument as woman should suffer from want of training in order to attain the perfections desirable and necessary for her great life’s work! Divine Justice demands that the rights of both sexes should be equally respected since neither is superior to the other in the eyes of Heaven. Dignity before God depends, not on sex, but on purity and luminosity of heart. Human virtues belong equally to all!

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 161)

That is to say, there must be no difference in the education of male and female in order that womankind may develop equal capacity and importance with man in the social and economic equation. Then the world will attain unity and harmony. In past ages humanity has been defective and inefficient because it has been incomplete. War and its ravages have blighted the world; the education of woman will be a mighty step toward its abolition and ending, for she will use her whole influence against war. Woman rears the child and educates the youth to maturity. She will refuse to give her sons for sacrifice upon the field of battle. In truth, she will be the greatest factor in establishing universal peace and international arbitration. Assuredly, woman will abolish warfare among mankind. Inasmuch as human society consists of two parts, the male and female, each the complement of the other, the happiness and stability of humanity cannot be assured unless both are perfected. Therefore, the standard and status of man and woman must become equalized.

(Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 108)

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Books!

Finished in the last 48 hours:
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress : A Novel, by Dai Sejie

Funny in Farsi : A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh Dumas

Currently Reading:
Memories of Nine Years in Akka, by Youness Afroukhteh
I highly recommend this book. Here is an excerpt that I enjoyed…

“White tea, fragrant and delicious, was made ready and within minutes other friends began to gather until the renowned Zaynu’l-Muquarrabin and Mishkin Qalam arrived.
Each introduced himself and Mishkin Qalam, as part of his introduction, gave me a few strands of his own hair, both white ones and yellowed ones. He said: ‘It’s my thin beard and crooked body that are my passport to fame!’ To which I responded in jest: ‘I too have helped, for I have always said that Mishkin Qalam does not need to tell jokes to get laughs – his face and body serve the purpose all by themselves!’ Everyone broke out in hearty laughter and this opened the door to more light-hearted comments and merry-making.” -P. 19

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A Prayer

O Lord, my God and my Haven in my distress! My Shield and my Shelter in my woes! My Asylum and Refuge in time of need and in my loneliness my Companion! In my anguish my Solace, and in my solitude a loving Friend! The Remover of the pangs of my sorrows and the Pardoner of my sins!

Wholly unto Thee do I turn, fervently imploring Thee with all my heart, my mind and my tongue, to shield me from all that runs counter to Thy will in this, the cycle of Thy divine unity, and to cleanse me of all defilement that will hinder me from seeking, stainless and unsullied, the shade of the tree of Thy grace.

Have mercy, O Lord, on the feeble, make whole the sick, and quench the burning thirst.

Gladden the bosom wherein the fire of Thy love doth smolder, and set it aglow with the flame of Thy celestial love and spirit.

Robe the tabernacles of divine unity with the vesture of holiness, and set upon my head the crown of Thy favor.

Illumine my face with the radiance of the orb of Thy bounty, and graciously aid me in ministering at Thy holy threshold.

Make my heart overflow with love for Thy creatures and grant that I may become the sign of Thy mercy, the token of Thy grace, the promoter of concord amongst Thy loved ones, devoted unto Thee, uttering Thy commemoration and forgetful of self but ever mindful of what is Thine.

O God, my God! Stay not from me the gentle gales of Thy pardon and grace, and deprive me not of the wellsprings of Thine aid and favor.

‘Neath the shade of Thy protecting wings let me nestle, and cast upon me the glance of Thine all-protecting eye.

Loose my tongue to laud Thy name amidst Thy people, that my voice may be raised in great assemblies and from my lips may stream the flood of Thy praise.

Thou art, in all truth, the Gracious, the Glorified, the Mighty, the Omnipotent.

– ‘Abdu’l-Bah

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Baha’i Association: Bulletin Board

The Baha’i Association at my University won the bulletin board decorating contest. We got a monetary prize for catering for events, but more importantly, it inspired us to make a better board than we would have without incentive, and now people are reading the information and taking pamphlets. It is next to our office. woot!

(click to make it bigger!)

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Power Outage

Classes are canceled!

*does a happy dance*

Some kind of flood that messed with the electricity. I have the whole day to catch up on classes, nap, clean the house, and just relax. YAY!

Yesterday was overwhelming, today is bright, sunny, and happy.
—————
There are general life-moods, and there are everyday emotions that vary according to circumstance. That is my definition, anyways.
Current life-mood: joyful
Current day-mood: peaceful

The Valley of Contentment

In this Valley he feeleth the winds of divine contentment blowing from the plane of the spirit. He burneth away the veils of want, and with inward and outward eye, perceiveth within and without all things the day of: God will compensate each one out of His abundance. From sorrow he turneth to bliss, from anguish to joy. His grief and mourning yield to delight and rapture.

…The tongue faileth in describing these three Valleys, and speech falleth short. The pen steppeth not into this region, the ink leaveth only a blot. In these planes, the nightingale of the heart hath other songs and secrets, which make the heart to stir and the soul to clamor, but this mystery of inner meaning may be whispered only from heart to heart, confided only from breast to breast.

-Bahullh, The Seven Valleys and Four Valleys

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