BAHAI COMMENT

001. One School, Many Teachers...reprinted

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 thereafter, at the nearby church, I was introduced to yet more teachers, this time specialising in the greater, yet 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 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

 


BAHAI COMMENT 002. 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 (yes, I do have that problem), 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 lonely symbolic African woman, now 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 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

 


BAHAI COMMENT 003. 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 great 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.

 


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. 

 


005. 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 hiscountry, but for him who loves the [whole world]."   - Abdu'l-Baha


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

 


BAHAI COMMENT 008. THREE SONS OF ABRAHAM

BAHAI COMMENT 008. 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. However 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.

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  


Bahai Comment 009. Prescription For Living


Post 36. First Grow, Then Become, Then Contribute.

I will love and respect you no matter what.

Racism has done so much damage to our world. Its pernicious effects are even to the extent that those who would be loving friends may be perceived as enemies. Baha’u’llah aptly describes the world’s present situation:

 

 

We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore-tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self-conceit haveinterposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.  -Baha'u'llah

 

Such is the pain of the victim of racism that, for many a well-meaning friend, the very act of reaching out makes the victim flinch away, as if their emotional skin is so badly burned that even the lightest touch must be avoided at all costs. An unfortunate consequence can be that unless that friend is extremely pure hearted and long-suffering, they may feel pushed away and rejected. It is even possible for a sense of alienation to develop. That is a situation we all must avoid. My heart must say: ‘I will love and respect you no matter what, and my friendship will continue in the hope that one day you may be able to respond’.

 

If we hope to connect with another soul, first we must ‘see’ that soul. We need to reassure them, by our listening ear and our true empathy, that we want to learn what it is to live their life with all its hurts, rejections and worse. This can take considerable time. First we must learn, only then can we teach. ‘Abdu’l-Baha chose to live amongst the poor and the sick and the lowly, just as Christ did before Him. By living side by side, They too experienced the same hardships. By living alongside with other communities, we will experience more of their reality than by reading an article or watching a documentary. The world is full of do-gooders who are unable to touch hearts because they are not seen to practice what they preach. Living the life is the first step. Winning trust is another thing altogether. It is a long process and can’t be short-circuited. And there is no nation on earth that is free of its own subgroup of people who are the victims of prejudice.

 

New Zealanders who wanted to fulfil the hope of the Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, by reaching the indigenous Maori, “a people much admired for their noble qualities..”, were advised to leave their own homes and move to communities where many Maori lived.

 

He said that we could achieve great things if our vision was clear, our purpose unshaken, our zeal undiminished and our hopes undimmed. He warned of the inevitability of obstacles and disappointments, and advised that whenever faced with trials, we should recall Baha’u’llah’s own, innumerable sufferings.

 

The word “Arohanui” is a Maori word and, as with many Polynesian words, there is no direct translation into English. The literal meaning is “big love”, or “much love” or “great love”. In naming his book, “Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand”, he used it in its more expressive meaning, “enfolding love”, or “that love which binds a community together”, or “that love which creates bonds of mutual trust and loyalty”, or “that love which builds and carries forward culture or civilization”.

 

It has always been the case with the growth of every religion that some pure soul sows seeds in the hearts of a few who are most pure and most receptive. In this way the purpose of Jesus Christ, the salvation of mankind, was established. And how small the group of His disciples was!

 

The development of present day humanity is a greater challenge; the evils of material civilization and the negligence of mankind call for greater effort. Divine light must make itself manifest in our daily life and deeds. The three mottoes of education hold true: first grow, then become and then contribute. We in the western world have developed; we have established ourselves, and now it is time to contribute to others. We have inexhaustible capital. The candles of our spiritual lives must constantly weep away their lives in shedding light to the world, and they must never become exhausted.

 

 


Post 35. Welcome To My World

  

I'm a Bahai and we believe in non-involvement in politics (it's the divisive party-political version we avoid; we're very caring and involved otherwise). So I won’t mention Donald Trump. But there’s not much else on the box here. I've found that when you're still relatively young (well, turning 70 in 2 short years, but time's all relative, isn't it. Isn’t it?), and when you can't drive or walk and you get tired doing pretty much anything after 20 minutes, it's a real challenge just to pass the time. Aah, I hear you sighing, having limitless time to oneself, time to lie in bed for as long at you like, meals brought to you and washing done, time to read all those books you always promised yourself; what bliss! Just like being at some fancy all-services-laid-on resort!

 

Yeah, it's just like that. Did I mention that my vision can't cope with too much reading? I tried every semi-literate ‘talking book’ in the city library (that’s Audio Book for you fancy millennials), but found it too frustrating trying to save where I'd got up to, and so I kept having to listen to the same sections again and again. Oh, I hear you thinking, doesn't she know that if she just presses this button and fast-forwards with that one that's connected to the other one, and then turns it all off for half an hour and remembers to back it up again... GO AWAY! I know all that sounds easy to you and it probably did for me too before my 2 mini-strokes, but now this ex-teacher and graphic designer even has to find out how to make the shapes of particular letters of the alphabet or numbers by looking for something, anything, with writing on it, that I can copy. Yep, that particular memory chip's been well and truly corrupted.

 

No, wait. Come back. I'm sorry for being so rude and complaining, and if I lose my patience, as well as some other lost faculties I won't mention, I'll really be in trouble. So I'm going to use my experience profitably by giving you a Guide to Rest Home life, since there's a good chance you'll end up here too.

 

I find that it's not all hard going if you can medicate at least some of the grinding pain away for a while, and keep your sense of humour and compassion. There are lots of curious and fascinating and rewarding things going on. The lady in the room next door thinks that she and I are the only ones in the facility who have whole apartments to ourselves (even though she's been in my room and must know it's pretty much the same size as the others). She believes that she and I both get 'dressed for dinner' unlike the others - what she calls the Hoi polloi - who clearly do not 'dress' for dinner, much less change their raggy old pyjama bottoms. This immaculately groomed, well-intentioned lady wanders the grounds complete with a stylish floral parasol, and is glad to have my company as the only one left who is not entirely insulted by her belief that only she and I have the right to sit in the adjoining lounge, since to her it is an 'extension' of our two private apartments.

 

I like to say hello and introduce myself to each new and more communicative resident, so they’ll remember and know there’s someone familiar there that they can go to if necessary. I’ve found a small few that I've been able to have a more elevated connection with. One unlikely man arrived at my door one afternoon and, after much grunting and gesticulating, I was able to establish that he'd found one of the Baha'i books I'd put in the small resident's library, complete with small prayer book to keep, and a note to say how to find me if the reader would like to know more. Although his speech impediment made our attempts at discussion almost incomprehensible, he gratefully accepted the few books I offered at his request, and now I keep returning to find he has read all the copies I've shared and has even completed the considerable tome that is "The Dawn-Breakers"; let's be honest; lots of devoted Baha'i's don't get to read the whole thing ever.

 

One of the most intelligent residents is an author like me. Yes, we are not all dribbling and incontinent. Well, not all the time anyway. I met him when a nurse, who knew of my counselling background, came to me with a problem. Her newest admission was a previously strong, but now desperately suicidal, man who was not able to be constantly monitored by the limited staff to stop him from harming himself. Could I, she wondered, meet with him and see if I could be of any help? I told her that I used spiritual principles in my counselling but if she was happy with that, I would be only too glad to be of use. He also had a degree of speech impediment but fortunately not as advanced as the previous man. For two weeks we had a daily hour-long meeting while he explained how he felt that the effects of the stroke had rendered his entire life meaningless, since he was now unable to walk, type or even speak without difficulty. (C’est moi! - that’s French for Ditto! - I thought to myself at this point, except my speech problem is the oppositemy GP won’t need to take my pulse to measure the point of my death; it will be that moment when I finally stop talking.) And so, this man believed, his whole career and life purpose as a contributing member of society was ended. In getting to know this witty cynic, I explained that I used Bahai spiritual principles but did not intend to discuss the Faith as a religion, unless it was something he wanted to learn about once our two-weeks of formal counselling was completed. Fortunately our exploration of these principles was able to lift his spirits and give him a wider sense of true life purpose.

 

It helped that like him, I too was unable to travel without a wheelchair, and had clearly experienced having my own sphere of usefulness in the world entirely up-ended by developing M.S. although I’d faced that life challenge from my 30’s; a very much younger age. Right from the outset he was interested to read the books I had written and to discuss their ideas although, coming from an atheist Semitic background, he was not immediately sympatico with it all. However, we seemed to share the same wry cynical humour and that was enough to make a special bond between us. He has since jointly published another book in company with some seriously brainy guys, so I think its fair to say that, after much admirable effort on his part, his life is taking off again.

 

Then there’s the elderly man who’s the dad of a friend of a friend who’s a daughter of a Baha’i. I like him as a good bloke, although recently I haven’t been well enough to visit as much as either of us would like. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic, with so many portraits of the Pope - the good old pope, he says to me, not the fancy replacement one – that you feel like you’re being watched and about to be ordered to drop and say 40 Hail Mary’s, but he’s also the kind that likes a nice tipple and a good yarn. I sometimes get the feeling that he likes the ladies, but he’s too much of a gentleman to do anything about it. At his age! He’s a typical kiwi-farmer-type, tells it like it is (well, like HE thinks it is) which clearly allows no room for Baha’i, and he still enjoys my company, despite acting like I’d told him I was an alien being when I mentioned I was one.

 

Finally, there’s the ‘threesome’; separate people when they first arrived. The ‘good-looking for his age’ man enjoyed the company of both women for an idyllic few weeks, at which point he developed a sudden territorial appreciation for the prettier of the two. This didn’t sit at all well with the first woman, who was obliged to observe in silent helplessness (along with all the other facinated residents) as romance grew, all watching as this real-life soap opera unfolded and the two slowly drew their dining room chairs ever closer together, to gradually become completely inseparable. Then the entire rest home was shocked (and delighted) when she silently moved into his room one night and from there didn’t budge. The torrid relationship was brought to a sudden end when she unexpectedly died. So the two remaining singles quickly rekindled the embers of early possibility, only for him to have a major stroke. Today I sometimes see her sitting silently at his side, his aged hand lying motionless in hers, quitely relishing that in the end it was she who was the victor.

 

There’s never a dull moment if you pick the right rest home! And there's so much more I could tell you, but I’m not the gossiping type. Actually, I’m really quite a recluse and seldom emerge from my room unless there’s a distressed resident who needs someone to just sit with them and listen with respect and compassion. I don’t join the others in the lounge who are singing those good ole wartime songs, or are batting around a balloon to keep up dexterity, or the other little (but purposeful) games they play. I lie on my bed in the soporific sunlight and cruise along to easy-listening music, or I silently meditate for long stretches of time, or keep up with a little easy yoga, or work on my present Memoir. But right now my hands are tired and I want to lie down. To watch Al Jazeera. In my private suite. With staff to serve my every need, whilst I wonder what the chef is preparing for my special vegetarian meal.

 

I’ll save a bed for you...

 

 

 

 

 

 


POST 34. FIXING A BROKEN FAMILY

The passage of time gives our present aging generation a precious opportunity, a sense of hindsight, in which we can look back and reflect on our recent past, to ask what was progressive and successful; to cringe at what proved to be mistakes.

With the passage of the last century, we can look back and ponder on what happened to all the ideals we had celebrated back then. To look back on 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. What happened after all those uplifting folk songs that called us to 'give peace a chance'?

And we cringe at yet more photographs of starving children; no longer Ethiopia, today it is war-torn Yemen. We recall 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.

What happened to all that peace, love, and unity? 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 with 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.

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

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...the Family of Man. 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 of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families. Therefore, as strife and dissension destroy a family and prevent its progress, so nations are destroyed and advancement hindered. --‘Abdu’l-Bahá / 58. Theosophical Lodge

And so an increasing number of us are arising with souls that cry 'One Planet, One People Please'.

"Glory not in love for your country, but in love for all mankind'. --Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, Lawh-i-Hikmat

 

POST 166 The Future has Never Looked so Bright

Many of us share the dream of our worldly family living together as one. We share a recognition that our birthplace is Earth, our race is Human, our politics are freedom and our religion: LOVE. We write about this oneness. Some of our most beautiful poems celebrate it. Many of our most moving songs sing about it. And some of our most stirring speeches (like Martin Luther King's famous 'I Have a Dream' speech) describe it. But not our national anthems. Most national anthems remain celebrations of uniqueness and - dare I say it - superiority. So the dreaming of unity and the singing and talking about it were the easy parts. Now we've moved beyond the pleasant stage of 'dreaming'. Now we're at the pointy edge; the 'doing' stage. How do we go about keeping our diversity whilst achieving unity, because it's the doing of it and living it - day by day- that brings the real challenges. Many of our differences are readily apparent; our skin colour, our language, our dress. Less apparent are our unique beliefs, our traditions and social behaviours; the practices of generations. Yet often we cling to practices that are not suited to today's world and actually constitute a barrier to development and unity. To what extent do we need to agree on these important subjects, or is there some way to live together that accepts differences without disharmony? Often it is those very differences that become reinforced in the political vying of the electoral process, which is of its nature divisive. Bahais avoid this division by remaining apart from politics. "Speak thou no word of politics; thy task concerneth the life of the soul, for this verily leadeth to man’s joy in the world of God. Except to speak well of them, make thou no mention of the earth’s kings, and the worldly governments thereof.'---'Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, 53 The Bahai Writings proclaim that "the most important condition that can bring about peace is unity—the unity of families, of nations, and of the great currents of thought and inquiry that we denote science and religion". ---Universal House of Justice, 19 Oct 93 to an indidual. For Bahai's '...the principle of the Oneness of Mankind, the cornerstone of Bahá’u’lláh’s world-embracing dominion, implies nothing more nor less than the enforcement of His scheme for the unification of the world—the scheme to which we have already referred. “In every Dispensation,” writes ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá, “the light of Divine Guidance has been focussed upon one central theme.… In this wondrous Revelation, this glorious century, the foundation of the Faith of God and the distinguishing feature of His Law is the consciousness of the Oneness of Mankind.”---Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh "How pathetic indeed are the efforts of those leaders of human institutions who, in utter disregard of the spirit of the age, are striving to adjust national processes, suited to the ancient days of self-contained nations, to an age which must either achieve the unity of the world, as adumbrated by Bahá’u’lláh, or perish. At so critical an hour in the history of civilization it behooves the leaders of all the nations of the world, great and small, whether in the East or in the West, whether victors or vanquished, to give heed to the clarion call of Bahá’u’lláh and, thoroughly imbued with a sense of world solidarity, the sine quâ non of loyalty to His Cause, arise manfully to carry out in its entirety the one remedial scheme He, the Divine Physician, has prescribed for an ailing humanity'. ------Shoghi Effendi, The Guiding Principles of World Order, The World Order of Baha'u'llah Yet in achieving this, we do not overlook those structures necessary to a politically united world, or lack a sustainable growth strategy. In 2001 as our world emerged from the strife and challenges of the 20th Century, The Universal House of Justice thrillingly declared that "the future has never looked so bright". "A long and arduous process of struggle, experimentation and construction has led to the victories that lift our hearts as a new century opens. Through the rapidly proliferating system of institutes and the energy being invested everywhere in area growth strategies, the Bahá’í community has moved swiftly to capitalize on what has been achieved. However deep may be the gloom enveloping the world, the future has never looked so bright for the prosecution of Bahá’u’lláh’s mission." ---UHJ 24 May 2001 To the Believers Gathered for the Events Marking the Completion of the Projects on Mount Carmel. "Every nation and every group—indeed, every individual—will, to a greater or lesser degree, contribute to the emergence of the world civilization towards which humanity is irresistibly moving. Unity will progressively be achieved, as foreshadowed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in different realms of social existence, for instance, “unity in the political realm”, “unity of thought in world undertakings”, “unity of races” and the “unity of nations”. As these come to be realized, the structures of a politically united world, which respects the full diversity of culture and provides channels for the expression of dignity and honour, will gradually take shape"---2 Mar 2013 UHJ to Bahais of Iran

 



CONTENTS

POST 167 The Christchurch Massacre; Religion for the Future? Part One

POST 166 The Future has Never Looked so Bright

POST 165 Apologising; The Use and Abuse of "Sorry"

POST 164 There is no Cause for Despair

POST 163 Erratic Movements Towards an age of Peace

POST 162 ONE FAMILY

POST 161 UN Report; Really A Spiritual and Moral Crisis

POST 160 Criticism; What Makes it Hurtful or Helpful?

POST 159. YOU are an Idea Whose Time has Come

POST 158 Dreaming About the World as One, Creating the World Anew.

POST 157 Our True Enemy is Ignorance

POST 156

POST 155 RESPONDING TO TERRORISM ---VIGILANCE, EDUCATION AND UNITY

POST 154 A Christchurch Massacre; WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

POST 153 Sifting Reality from Imagination

POST 152

POST 151 Disadvantaged Minorities & Indigenous People

POST 150 All Creation is Designed Around Gradualism

POST 149 This World is YOUR Personal School Room.

POST 146. HELP ON THE WAY FOR 'MEAN GIRLS' IN OUR KINDNESS DESERT.

POST 145. The Future of Humanity Depends on Science

POST 144 'Here we are, one month into the New Year.

POST 142 Were you on the planet during the '60's?

POST 141. 'FAITH' AND 'SPIRIT'; MYTH OR REALITY?

POST 140. Warning to Westerners; THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS THE 'D' WORD

POST 139; DEATH BY PUBLIC EXECUTION

POST 138 TACKLING THAT PESKY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

POST 137 A Christmas Song for Peace on Earth

POST 136; CHRISTMAS; A TIME OF PEACE AND GOOD WILL TO ALL MEN...

POST 135 THE BRIGHT DAY IS COMING!

POST 134. Final Tribute to a Bank Robber

POST 133 DESPAIR AND HOPELESSNESS - A GROWING GLOBAL PHENOMENON

POST 133. DESPAIR AND HOPELESSNESS - A GLOBAL PHENOMENON

POST 132. WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? (Part One)

POST 131. THE PURPOSE OF HUMAN LIFE

POST 130. On The Loss of a Child THE LAST

POST. 129

POST 128. THE #MeToo MOVEMENT- RIGHT INTENTION, WRONG METHOD

POST 127. WOMEN; The 50% MINORITY and how men can make their difference.

POST 126. WE ARE THE WORLD, WE ARE THE CHILDREN

POST 125. NATIONS ARE AN AGGREGATE OF FAMILIES

 

Contents

Posts

45: The Importance of Children's Kindness to Animals

44: Peace

43: A Series of Embarrassing Episodes

42: Our Friend Col And The Hooters  

41. A Kiwi Knight In Shining Armour

36. First Grow, Then Become and Then Contribute.

35. Welcome To My World

34. Fixing A Broken Family

33.

32.

31.

30. UNITY: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME.

29. The Power of Change

28. DIZZYING POLITICAL CHANGE

27.  WOMEN: THE ONLY 51% MINORITY

26. WE ARE THE WORLD, WE ARE THE CHILDREN

25. NATIONS ARE AN AGGREGATE OF FAMILIES

24. WOMEN AS MOTHERS?

23.'UN'RECLAIMING OUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

22. ONE COMMON FAITH

21. THE GOD IN ALL THINGS

20. KINDNESS TO EVERY LIVING THING

19. WOMEN IN POWER

18. The Dancing Grannies

17. THE POWER OF UNITY

16. The Ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha

15. The Day of The Covenant

14. Black Friday For The Baha'is In Iran

13. Unity In Diversity

12. Religion In Harmony With Science

11. One School, Many Teachers

10. My Journey From Atheism To Belief

9. Prescription For Living

8. Three Sons

7. Peace, More Than Just An End To War

6. Fixing A Broken Family

5. Some Family Secrets

4. Women Waging Peace

3. One Family

2. Melting Pot

1. One School, Many teachers