BAHA'I COMMENT

My personal views on topics of interest to the world     ...by Patricia Wilcox

01. One School, Many Teachers.    Part One

DIFFERENT WORDS TO ONE GREAT DIVINE SONG.

Like most of you, my first and most important teacher was my mother to whom I will be forever grateful, although she never managed to teach me to like eating peas or tidying my room.

Five years after my birth I met the next person to be my teacher - at our local school. Shortly, at the nearby church, I was introduced to yet more teachers, this time specialising in the complementary field of spiritual education.

It was at our local primary school that I met Mr. Tibbits who taught me the excitement of drama. A year or two later I met Mr. Elliot who introduced me to times tables, a knowledge which I found to have a very short shelf life. Then Mr. Whitmore taught me to love gymnastics, and later Miss Smith revealed the charms of Shakespeare.

Despite my varying capacity in each of these areas, I knew to treat these teachers with equal respect and courtesy and to value what they taught as stepping stones to my further education. All had my education at heart, although each approached it in different ways that reflected my growing needs and capacity.

Religion shares many features in common with schooling. Since reality is one, it follows that spiritual education should be compatible with material education.

There was no competition between my various childhood teachers, just as there should be no competition between our spiritual teachers. They do not come to the earth as competing 'brands' to foster the many wars that have been fought on their names but as a series of great educators. What we learn in religious education should harmonize with scientific education. If these two are not harmonious, this must be challenged, for science and religion are expressions of the one reality and therefore must be in unity.

Effective schools require knowledgeable teachers. Each teacher is uniquely qualified to teach their specific level. However, he or she is also required to be thoroughly familiar with the previous grades which their children formerly experienced and also of what will be studied in the future classes for which their pupils are now being prepared.

This is the function of a Divine school, to offer a series of progressive classes, each of which builds upon the knowledge received in previous grades. So it is with divine teachers. Each one is teaching the same Divine Curriculum at different levels reflecting the spiritual needs of the people of that time and place.

So, for example, the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path teach themes that are complementary with all the other religions, although they differ in relationship to the time and place of their teaching.

Similarly, Baha'is believe that just as the Torah tells the story of the early Hebrew prophets and teachers, so the Bible and Quran continue these stories and reinforce them with yet more advanced concepts.

So, too, do the teachings of the Bab and Baha'u'llah build upon the earlier teachings of Moses, Christ, and Mohammed; one Divine Curriculum taught to humanity at different stages of our collective development.

It is this continuing revelation of knowledge, both material and divine, which has enabled humanity to develop an ever-advancing civilisation.

Throughout human history we find that although the very apex of human virtues has been reached at various times, yet they were limited, whereas divine attainments have ever been unbounded and infinite. The limited is ever in need of the unlimited. The material must be correlated with the spiritual. The material may be likened to the body, but divine virtues are the breathings of the Holy Spirit itself. The body without spirit is not capable of real accomplishment. Although it may be in the utmost condition of beauty and excellence, it is, nevertheless, in need of the spirit. The chimney of the lamp, no matter how polished and perfect it be, is in need of the light. Without the light, the lamp or candle is not illuminating. Without the spirit, the body is not productive. The teacher of material principles is limited. The philosophers who claimed to be the educators of mankind were at most only able to train themselves. If they educated others, it was within a restricted circle; they failed to bestow general education and development. This has been conferred upon humanity by the power of the Holy Spirit. -- Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, 73 –18 June 1912 Talk at 309 West Seventy-eighth Street, New York Notes by Emma C. Melick

 

What is the Baha'i Faith? An animated Introduction by Rainn Wilson explaining religion and the Bahai Faith. Please watch and share;

https://www.facebook.com/BahaiTeachings.org/videos/694464557732209/UzpfSTEwMDAwNTc5Njc5MjQ5NjpWSzoxMDE1NjI0MTI0NzY2MTE1Mg/?


02. MELTING POT.  

I like to think that I will learn something new every day. Recently, as I enjoyed my usual morning breakfast of tea, prunes, and kiwifruit, I learned of such a thing as a mini-nuclear warhead.

This sounds more loveable than the large economy-sized one but, by burrowing through the earth below to knock out underground military facilities, it apparently still has the tendency to kill large numbers of people. Yet it also has the advantage of helping people to believe that we can now have nice clean international warfare whilst allowing our fellow world citizens to go quietly on with their daily lives.

They're faceless strangers after all, aren't they? And there are no shattered villages and broken bridges to tell the tale, no battered crops or destroyed vegetation to see.

And so the dream goes on... Well, it must have seemed downright disillusioned to believe in a time of future peace in days gone by, whilst engaged in those countless wars our forefathers fought.

Today, thanks to the knowledge that we are all genetically descended from the same symbolic African woman, we know that we are originally one single family, subsequently dispersed over the face of the planet, where we went on to acquire different colourings, different beliefs, learned different languages, dances, foods, arts and crafts; all those things that make this such a fascinating planet to learn about, to communicate amongst, travel over. Yes, we can do all that today.

Remember that '80's song that sings of a 'great big melting pot, big enough to take the world and all its got'? Well, that pot is here and it's happening, and we, the brothers and cousins and aunts descended from that African lady, had better learn the new recipe.

It's a combination of ingredients both new and very old that I think about a lot and that I enjoy sharing with other friends who, like me, have found other parts of that recipe. I'd like to share them with you.

‘Ye are all the fruit of one tree and the leaves of one branch.’ Pride is not for him who loves his country, but for him who loves the [whole] world.” - -Abdu'l- Baha. A Traveler’s Narrative

 


03. ONE FAMILY.

Isn't it lovely that genetic science has proved that we all belong to the same family? That's really worth celebrating.

But what do we know about that solitary symbolic woman from whom we are all descended? The Bible calls her Eve. Maori call her Papa which, for English-speakers, sounds like it should be her partner's name but no. Her full name is Papatuanuku, mother of the earth and all things.

Both stories show what an influential role this woman had. But how did that work out for her?

Somewhere along the way, Eve's female descendants got relegated mostly to the home and child rearing whilst men went out with their bows, arrows, and tiaha to kill the enemy which, thanks to our new genetic understanding, very often happened to be their own cousins.

Progress in DNA science shows that we are no more than 50th cousins of one another.

Now, after conquering threats to our existence, shaping the lives of the next generation has got to be the most important thing we could be doing.

It would be nice to think that there was lots of support for shaping, and a diminishing need for conquering these days. But no. Our screens show a never-ending procession of soldiers in Yemen, Syria, Korea, Somalia... and the list goes on.

Men never suffer from a want of employment when there's a good war to carry on, and it does big things for many economies who do a great trade in weapons of war.

The real-life picture captured on camera is truly appalling as during the past few years we were gripped by footage of exhausted Rohingya trudging ankle deep through mud and driving rain, carrying frail elderly relatives strapped to their own emaciated bodies as they abandon a country established in the spirit of Buddha. Restricted from freedom of movement, state education, and civil service jobs, the legal conditions faced by the majority Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar have been compared with apartheid.

Most recently Amnesty International reported on the dreadful situation confronting the Baha'is of Yemen , saying that "Once again, we are seeing trumped up charges and flagrantly unfair proceedings used to persecute these Baha’is for their faith. And it is particularly abhorrent that some of these men and women could face the death penalty for their conscientiously held beliefs and peaceful activities."

We need the true spirit of Buddha now more than ever, He of the golden head, whose visage is so well loved of exclusive interior designers, who appears in countless glamorous interiors and designer courtyards, exuding peace and tranquillity, but also a comforting unattainability.

We need to find our way back to the true spirit of the Eightfold Path and its eight practices of right view, right resolve, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right "samadhi" or meditative absorption.

And when we do, we will find that the spiritual reality of the Teachings of the Buddha are at one with the Teachings of all the Divine Messengers. At that time we,  and all our  50th cousins, will recognise that we share a common spiritual reality and can learn to be at one with each other.

 


04. Women Waging Peace.

This is my first exercise in writing a blog although I've written a few books. Prior to this, I had never even read a blog.

It was my daughter who first suggested one to me and for some reason now forgotten, I ended up with the name bahaigirl9.

It was only after having chosen that name out of a narrow list of possibilities that a friend pointed out that names ending in ...girl are common on rather distasteful sites.

Reflecting on this new piece of information (while idly wondering to myself how he knows so much about them), I decided that even people with unsavoury interests need to care about this world we're all part of, and whether we truly like the way things are going with it. That's pretty much what motivates me.

Not only am I a blog newbie and not the 'girl' that my website name might have you believe (although I like to think that I still have much of the sense of wonder and amazement of that time) but now my own girls have had girls, and the world has moved on.

However, in many ways we're still struggling with the same old things, so it gave me great joy to listen to one news item in particular that caught my attention.

I was having an appointment with a delightful cardiologist who told me a little of her grandparents' experience of the holocaust. I mentioned that I had been to Israel twice, and so it was with echoes of that conversation and the age old struggles of the Jewish people still fresh in my mind that I listened to a news item on radio about a movement called Women Wage Peace.

This essentially simple grass-roots movement began with the purpose of raising awareness, and engaging the public in consultations about the possibilities of a political resolution to the Israeli Palestine situation.

During formal and informal meetings of individuals and groups, national events such as demonstrations and protests became organised. These all help to pressure decision makers to work toward reaching a viable peace agreement.

I found this grassroots effort to be an inspiring example of what can be achieved when both women and men of different races, languages and religions come together in a spirit of good will and commitment, echoing 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words in a previous entry.

Dressed in white, the women came together to demand a political solution to the conflict which has divided the two communities for decades.

They also demanded that women have an equal say in peace negotiations.

“We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we stop the next war," they stated.

The gathering lasted for two weeks and culminated in a meeting in a “tent of reconciliation”, where women and children crafted signs reading “peace be upon you” in Arabic and Hebrew.

The tent was named for Hagar and Sarah, scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of Muslims and Jews. 

 


05. Some Family Secrets.

 I've been working on this blog for a while  now and supposedly it has had over 25,O00 unique visitors, which is great if people are actually reading it. But unless  people leave comments, how do I know if it is being read, or just glanced at and immediately flicked away to some item more appealing to public interest like hair restoration or an article on Angelina Jolie?

So now it's time to set the cat among the pigeons as they say, and make some comments that are bound to get you thinking.    

An earlier reference was made to the ability of genetic science to prove that we are all  genetically related.  

This means that we all share common ancestors, by extrapolation can imagine one ancient African grandmother. Some call her Eve. Ethiopians claim as family a woman known as Dinquines, aka 'Lucy', whose complete fossilised bones, dating back 4 million years, helped to clarify the lines of our human evolution.

Maori call her Papatuanuku. Although Maori had no written language, they did have prodigious memories, and so even today many can recite their forebears back many many generations.  

Knowledge of the past is even more the case with ancient tribes like the Jews, Arabs, and those of the early Persian dynasties.

An example of how this awareness lives in the present can be seen in a previous entry about the movement Women Wage Peace, where on their March for Peace a tent was named for Hagar and Sarah, wives of Abraham and scriptural mothers of Ishmael and Isaac, the half-brother patriarchs of both Muslims and Jews (Genesis 25:1).  

But wait, there's more! This commonality was really foretold way back when our earliest books like the Bible and the Quran began, with a story of how one of these ancient ancestors, Abraham, was promised by God that he would become the Father of Nations.

Not only did his three sons go on to establish the great communities of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Bahais that would eventually become established across the planet, but these are very active and influential even to the present day.   

The impetus behind Women Waging Peace was not only an Israeli/Palestinian creation; rather, it was inspired by earlier  women's movements in Northern Ireland and Liberia, where women of different faiths had also united to help resolve violent conflicts.   

However, true to our ancient family roots, all has not been well within the family, and certain members have disowned others.

To be frank - and since you and I are family, I can trust this will go no further - some terrible things have been, and are being, done. Poor old Abraham must be turning in his grave. More about our 'family shame' to follow...  

"Pride is not for him who loves his country, but for him who loves the [whole world]."   - Abdu'l-Baha


06. Fixing A Broken Family.

What a contentious subject my previous article proved to be! When it was first posted (this is a reprint) my site received the first of many hacks.

Why are some in our global family so aggravated by the idea that we are one human family with mutual forbears? What happened to the Summer of Love, to the 'peace, love and mung beans' days of the 60's and 70's with flowers in our hair and suspicious-smelling smoke in the air, to all those uplifting folk songs calling us to 'give peace a chance'? To the inspiring influence of Bob Geldof, singer-songwriter and political activist, and Michael Jackson's 'Man In The Mirror', challenging each of us to demonstrate personal commitment?

It was all supposed to be about peace, love, and harmony, but then it seemed that the script gradually changed.

Instead of Nirvana, what followed the Summer Of Love was the Vietnam War and Helter Skelter, a cult of Charles Manson responsible for committing a series of gruesome murders, followed by the 1993 siege and consequent burning of 76 members of the Branch Davidian family at their Waco compound, all accompanied by an escalation of other social disorders which proved that love needed to be much more than the feel-good consequences of chemically induced highs.

Into the social and moral vacuum that followed the rejection of organised religion and its accompanying cynicism, I first heard the words of the Baha'i Faith, a new faith once again calling us to love, but this time with clear guidance on how that could be achieved.

It was not just a feel-good love. This was a love that called for deeds, not words, for the practical application of true unity and equality of opportunity - for all religions, for women and men, blacks and whites, for equal access to education and economic advantage.

I realised that what was necessary was a vastly different concept of what constitutes a family; not a Charles Manson family, not a Branch Davidian family but one that saw itself as a part of a greater whole...

Compare the nations of the world to the members of a family. A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations, and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surrounds the nation. The happenings in thefamily are the happenings in the life of thenation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family ofnations, for nations are but an aggregate offamilies. Therefore, as strife and dissension destroy a family and prevent its progress, sonations are destroyed and advancement hindered. -‘Abdu’l-Bahá / 58. Theosophical Lodge

Rather than sitting back idly and letting our brave new world be overrun by haters, our present day requires women and men of all faiths, like those who supported Women Wage Peace, to join countless others in the global family to Wage Peace.

And so an increasing number of us are arising with spiritual banners in our souls that cry 'One Planet, One People Please'. Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind' - Baha'u'llah

 


07. Peace, More Than Just An End To War.

Every December, my fellow Kiwis prepare for another Christmas in N.Z. Our media carry jolly scenes of snowmen, and of reindeer pulling sleighs bearing a chubby white Father Christmas; all this while while my air conditioner struggles with the heat of a December day. And we exchange greeting cards bearing these same images, conveying hearty wishes for 'peace on Earth and good will to all men'.

What is this peace? Is peace a formal political agreement between nations committed to a state of truce - or is it a state of mind, of good will and harmony? Where have we gone wrong?

"The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it." - Baha'u'llah, Gleanings – XCIX

"Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy. This spiritual longing and perception belongs to all men alike..." - Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks

Peace is more that just an end to war. It is an attitude, a spiritual state, a commitment to treating others with justice and good will.

And yet, despite millennia of mankind's professed longing to achieve this, my fellow world citizens watch on helplessly as "...the process of the disintegration of a lamentably defective world order gathers momentum in all parts of the planet, engendering hopelessness, confusion, hostility, and insecurity..." - Universal House of Justice, 9.11.2018

What is needed? It requires not a mere treaty but a new way of living that combines both spirit and means, "...a spirit reflecting hopefulness for a brighter future; such 'means as lead to the elevation, the advancement, the education, the protection and the regeneration of the peoples of the earth" - UHJ 9.11.2018

What is the first step? “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” - Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas

This earth belongs not to one people but to all people. “We should continually be establishing new bases for human happiness and creating and promoting new instrumentalities toward this end. How excellent, how honorable is man if he arises to fulfill his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests and personal advantages. Supreme happiness is man’s, and he beholds the signs of God in the world and in the human soul, if he urges on the steed of high endeavor in the arena of civilization and justice.” --- UHJ 9.11.2018


08. THREE SONS OF ABRAHAM.

Oh dear; I had only been writing this blog for a short while and within days one of our unidentified 'cousins' was angry with me. So angry that he/she hacked my writing and left in its place some obscene material.

You see how hard it is to keep unity in the family? That's pretty much been our history ever since Abraham thought he could keep several wives happy at the same time.

Depending on which one of our family you're talking to, the story goes something like this;

In brief, Sarah was Abraham's wife. Hagar was a concubine or 'secondary wife' given to Abraham by Sarah, since she was too old and seemingly unable to produce a child of her own.

Just to complicate the story, in her old age Sarah did unexpectedly produce a healthy son. After Sarah's death, Abraham took another "wife", Keturah, according to Genesis 25:1. (In a later record she is called a concubine).

To the sons of his 'secondary' wives Abraham gave gifts and sent them away from his son eldest Isaac.

Now, you don't have to be a Marriage Counsellor to see that right there, in the opening chapters of the Bible, we have a recipe for a soap opera of magnificent proportion. And so it proved to be, because least we take all this too lightly, the descendants of these three wives became founders of four great world religions; Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá'í Faith.

In this way it can really be claimed that Abraham fulfilled the prophecy of becoming the Father of Nations.

As a consequence of this convoluted past, the various family stories that were recounted in the Torah, Bible, Quran and Kitab-i-Iqan have been creating confusion and disagreement ever since.

According to Biblical account, Christ is descended from Abraham through Sarah's son Isaac. Muhammad, prophet of Islam, is descended through Ishmael, born to Abraham's and Sarah's handmaiden Hagar, and He is viewed as the final prophet of God in all the main branches of Islam, though some modern denominations diverge from this belief.

Finally, Baha'u'llah's ancestry is traced through Abraham's wife Keturah , but He is also of the family of Zoroaster and of Jesse of the Tribe of Judah.

You can probably guess from the story so far that we did not live happily ever after. Well, not so far anyway, but more and more of us are coming together to  work on it.

Polygamy is a very ancient practice among the majority of humanity. The introduction of monogamy has been only gradually accomplished by the Manifestations of God. Jesus, for example, did not prohibit polygamy, but abolished divorce except in the case of fornication; Muḥammad limited the number of wives to four, but making plurality of wives contingent on justice, and reintroducing permission for divorce; Bahá’u’lláh, Who was revealing His Teachings in the milieu of a Muslim society, introduced the question of monogamy gradually in accordance with the principles of wisdom and the progressive unfoldment of His purpose. ---Bahá’u’lláh, 89 The Kitáb-i-Aqdas  


09. A Prescription For Living.

 

’God is dead’ exclaimed German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as far back as 1882.

Today as I write in 2019, God has often become little more than an exclamation of irritation, or a personal lifestyle choice like one’s brand of soap or political party. Either that or it is a source of interpersonal conflict amongst total strangers.

I have previously described the differences that make up the various religions as constituting diverse ‘ingredients’ that work together to make a delicious recipe. Many cultures use food, applied according to the correct methods and necessary amounts, as a prescription for illness.

By practising the teachings of the prophets within the various communities in which they arose, inherent social weaknesses were overcome and the establishment of new and powerful civilisations enabled. These are examples of religion acting as a 'prescription for living'.

I believe that this is the true function of religion; to offer an ideal pattern or 'prescription' for human lives and communities. The various ingredients of each was designed specifically to heal the unique and differing problems of the age in which they appeared. However, the teachings of these religions and prophets have all too often become highly contentious, and today can only be summarised in a most superficial way;

Hinduism, (approximately 500 BC) prescribed eternal principles such as honesty, refraining from injuring living beings, patience, forbearance, self-restraint, and compassion, among others. The wisdom of the sacred cow, often scorned by ignorant westerners, has actually ensured the preservation of its countless adherents over millennia, ensuring a sustainable source of needs as diverse as ‘vegetarian’ drinks and food, transport, and building materials, with dung being used in many ways including as an energy source and a ‘plaster’ for walls and floor.

The teachings of Buddha (2500 years ago) include not to harm others and to live peacefully and gently, working towards the ultimate goal of pure and lasting happiness for all living beings.

Judaism was founded in the Middle East over 3500 years ago and teaches that the unspoken divinity appointed Jews as a chosen people in order to set an example of holiness and ethical behaviour to the world. It teaches that divinity is one, unique and eternal, with prayer being directed to that divinity. The words of the Torah given by Moses, greatest of the Hebrew prophets, are accepted as truth. This divinity knows the thoughts and deeds of men, and will reward the good and punish the wicked. (However even these very basic and general principles are disputed by the liberal movements of Judaism).

Christianity (2,000years ago) teaches that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. His teachings can be summarised briefly as the love of God and love of one's neighbour. Today there are countless denominations of Christianity, each with unique beliefs and practices.

Islam is another Abrahamic monotheistic religion, teaching that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is his Messenger. The teachings of Muhammad united the warring tribes of Arabia and succeeded in establishing a great civilisation, extending at its peak from Spain in the west to Indonesia in the east, going on to exert a powerful influence on many branches of science.

Bahá'ís see the Báb as the forerunner of Bahá'ullah. His writings introduced the concept of a Messianic figure whose coming was announced in the scriptures of all of the world's great religions.

The Baha'i Faith, established by Baha'u'llah, upholds the oneness of God, the unity of religion, and the oneness of humankind. It promotes the agreement of science and religion, the equality of the sexes and the elimination of all prejudice and racism.

In this extremely basic exploration of the world religions a pattern emerges. We can see humanity over the ages as pupils in one vast graded school.

The earliest of the religions offered a syllabus for grade 1 children, teaching the very basics of elementary school, including ideas around sharing, safe foods, and basic hygiene. Subsequent religions built upon and reinforced what was learned in earlier grades.

They taught principles upon which advanced societies could become developed.

The most recent of these religions, the Bahá'í Faith, teaches principles at ‘college’ and ‘university’ level, whose application can result in a harmonious global world community.

This is where we stand today. We, the collective descendants of that single African woman, and  working together with our newly discovered global family, are collectively charged with the  peaceful unification of our home, the Planet.

"The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established" -Baha'u'llah


10. My Journey From Atheism To Belief.

Thanks so much to all my readers; after first beginning this blog, in only a few weeks it received over 1,600 hits, and from places as far away as Iraq. What a powerful reminder of the great new world we live in!

It took countless years for the story of Adam and Eve and the teachings of Abraham and Krishna to reach today’s world, and like the old game of Chinese Whispers, it changed over the years in many ways, but the underlying message remains the same.  

My  first ever teacher, Mrs Melrose, was the beginning of a lifetime of learning. She would be supplanted in the years to come by Mr Park, Mr Elliot, Mr Whitmore and others, culminating finally with dear Miss Smith.

Each built upon the knowledge acquired from previous teachers.

Over these same years, on Sundays I was learning about other teachers like Moses and Christ.

In the 'hippy' years to come I learned about Krishna and Buddha, and in the atheist years that followed, of C.S. Lewis and Bertrand Russell, about all whom my father and I would exchange passionate, contrary yet respectful views over Sunday lunch.

These lengthy and pleasurable conversations were made even more so because, my being otherwise occupied with a subject both parents approved of, the brothers would be roped in to wash dishes in my place as the only girl in the family.  

After all those year’s study of both religion and science I became despairing of anything better to follow atheism, and threw myself into feminism with a vengeance. However, whilst continuing with a lifelong belief in the equality of the genders, beneath it all my heart remained dissatisfied.

Eventually I found myself by choice living in a lowly council flat, rubbing shoulders with a diverse group of people I’d never had an opportunity to meet previously.

I was teaching a small group of 4 ‘special class’ or developmentally delayed children from Samoa, Tonga, Nuie and Maori backgrounds.

Whilst it was every teacher’s dream to have only 4 pupils, this was a group unlike any previously experienced, who dispensed hugs, kisses and bruises in equal measures, and whom I will never forget for the very best of reasons.

On the floor of the dusty cupboard lay a small book left by the previous teacher entitled 'Guidance for Today and Tomorrow' by an author unknown to me; Shoghi Effendi. And, just as its title promised, that long-searched-for guidance was just what I found. 

This experience marked the beginning of a whole new life for me.     

'The All-Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present-day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.”  - Baha'u'llah