The Numbers Make Me Thankful

numbers 

Numbers make me thankful?

 Yep!

 See, tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States and, since I spend almost every waking hour either writing or preparing to write this blog, all aspects of the blogging process are important to me; especially, how many people are reading the posts and  where on the earth they are when they access the blog…

I may have been born and still live in the U.S. but I consider myself a world citizen. I try to write the blog from that perspective and I’m grateful when I see that people in other lands are reading it!

So, I decided to share the numbers I’ll be thankful for tomorrow during the Thanksgiving celebration.

First, the statistics for what countries you readers are in when you visit. There are a total of 53 countries represented and that makes me exceedingly thankful!!  All I’ll show you here are the top ten {The numbers in my stats counter are only the last 500 visitors}:

country_stats

Even though 55.8% of you are from the United States, I’m thankful that 44.2% are not  from here! Also, even though it’s only 2% from Israel, that country is where the spiritual and administrative center of my Faith are located—gives me a warm thankfulness…

Next are the states and regions (again, only the top ten):

region_stats

Sure, most of the top ten are states in the U.S. but number 5 is, thankfully,  Jakarta Raya!

Last are the top ten cities:

city_stats

First thing I noticed is that spot 4 is a city and state in the U.S. that has no name… That may have been where I was back in the late 60s…

Number ten makes me have that warm thankfulness again since it’s the actual city that has the World Center of my Faith!!

According to WikiAnswers, Mexico, Japan, China, Australia, and Canada also celebrate Thanksgiving. And, according to enotes: “Many groups of people around the world give thanks, usually at a celebration following a major crop harvest.”

So, tomorrow, as I celebrate the holiday with friends from my favorite café, I’ll be thankful I live in a country that still has some  of the freedoms it intended to have and I’ll savor, along with the food and friendship, the fact that my efforts in this blog are visited by members of our human family from many diverse countries…

Spiritual Quote :

“Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 110

One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Five

devil

The Story Continues…

{the beginning is here}

My Dark Night of the Soul

I put an image of the devil over there because, even though I no longer believe in an incarnate evil power that acts against and opposes God, I do still believe that our ego consciousness, if not guided by our higher selves, can act like and is in fact a devil—leading us into all manner of immoral, unspiritual, and irreligious activity.

Our ancestors had to face many devils—forces outside themselves that they personified, made into separate psychological entities—nature forces with minds and plans of their own. I feel they also faced the same devil we all have, potentially, within us: the ego consciousness.

Some psychological scientists feel that the ego has not always been part of a human’s character, that it grew in response to the need to specialize our talents to meet increasingly complex social tasks. It still remains a mystery to sincere experts of the mind. It still is the major antagonist on any person’s spiritual path.

As past posts in this series indicated, I began life in the cradle of a serious religious family and, at an early age, began to question the theology I was expected to believe. The initial painful struggle for me was clearing up the mystery about my minister parents’ spiritual authority and how it fit into the Will of God. Aspects of this mystery were cleared up rapidly as my reasoning mind developed but there were emotional issues about spiritual authority that lingered well into my 50s.

There was another spiritual mystery that concerned the apparent exclusivity of the various religions’ Prophet-Founders—the Christians claiming Christ was the only Way, the Muslims claiming the same exclusivity for Muhammad, and, even though less vocal about their beliefs, the Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and others seemed to have similar theological attitudes.

My response to this impossible situation was to cling fervently to my belief in one God and proceed down the road of secular scholarship to attempt to resolve the issue. I studied all manner of Self-Help approaches, dove into psychology and psychiatry, bore down into the vaults of scientific knowledge, and explored what are considered Occult arts. Along the way, in spite of my belief in God, I wove a path that entangled me in all the pitfalls of merely human learning—pride, intolerance, lack of real justice, rationalizations for purely selfish actions, and many other extremely devilish occupations.

Our ancestors traveled similar roads, repeatedly. The major difference between my personal development and the development of our human family is that I’ve never killed anyone for their religious beliefs…

I eventually, at 42, found my Faith, my solution to the perplexing and devil-like antipathies that have grown up between the various flavors of religion. More on this next time when,

Spiritual Quotes :

“Remember how Adam and the others once dwelt together in Eden. No sooner, however, did a quarrel break out between Adam and Satan than they were, one and all, banished from the Garden, and this was meant as a warning to the human race, a means of telling humankind that dissension — even with the Devil — is the way to bitter loss. This is why, in our illumined age, God teacheth that conflicts and disputes are not allowable, not even with Satan himself.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 275

“Now a procession passes. The Pageant of the World. Grand nobles and kings, high priests and dignitaries of the Churches, jewelled and gorgeously dressed. They look with scorn on those who believe, saying: ‘Why should we leave our ancient religions?’ They look like devils of malice and oppression. Yet each is miserable. One falls, the others pass on. One is dying, the others take no heed. Another breathes his last. They do not stop by the way.

“The poor who have believed look on sadly.”
H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 499

For an in-depth and rigorous discussion of the principles explored in this story, reference One Common Faith and Changeless Faith.

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Two

youth_praying
Our last post began a story about my life and religion. It also set up a comparison between an individual life and the development of our human family. If you’re visiting for the first time, scroll down to the last post to read the first part or jump to it with this link.

The Story, Continued…

When I’d reached my early youth, I had a better grip on the difference between God and my parents; but, that’s not saying I really understood either of them.

Our ancestors entered a similar phase of development when they’d worked out a knowledge of the cycles of nature’s manifestations—lightning, rain, flood, fire, cold, and other regular displays of earth’s powers.

I continued to attend the church where my parents were the ministers, knowing there was an independent Source of ultimate power but still cringing under the manifestations of power my earthly keepers displayed. Mom was a sympathetic soul, though still full of power and command, and dad was a tyrant. Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew each loved me—in ways I wouldn’t clearly realize for many years. The hard part was understanding why they seemed to not understand me

Our ancestors had similar challenges. Even though they could predict when rains or cold would approach, they weren’t clear, in a conscious way, of why these powers were manifesting. The way they coped was to personalize the powers as gods and develop meaningful rituals to appease those gods. Usually, there was a major god who ruled the lesser gods and elaborate rituals to cajole the favor of that supreme power.

I was still mostly behaving and being a good boy at this stage but I’d certainly developed a strong desire for personal time, not just the time spent with friends but time with myself, time to ponder…

Early humanity made a potent space available for a tribal member’s personal time. They ritualized it and created ways to harness the individual’s creativity for the greater good of the tribe—go on the Vision Quest and bring the insights back to us so we may grow with you…

I didn’t realize, even though my parents were ministers, that my personal pondering was my conscious mind talking to my soul. It would be many years before my growing ego consciousness would surrender to my soul and clear the way for a deep and pure religious experience.

The tribe lives for the tribe’s sake. The individual lives within the tribe. Individual urges are shaped to the tribe’s necessities or are eliminated…

To be continued…

As in previous posts in this series, I urge you to reference an important document and a web site that explores that document:

Document: One Common Faith

Exploratory Web Site: Changeless Faith

Spiritual Quote:

“We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic… There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part One

children_praying
In the last post I said, “I want to tell a story”.  I also said certain people wouldn’t like it…

I’m not sure right now how many posts it will take to tell the story. It starts in the dim past and soars into the unseeable future.

The story won’t have a lot of detail but it will have a lot of emotion. The beginning is my early time on our earth as well as the early time of our human family. It’s very easy to see the stages of an individual’s life mirroring the infancy, youth, adolescence, and maturity of humanity.

Before I launch into the beginnings, I want to give the links to a document and a site that explores the document—they’re the immediate stimulus to my needing to tell this story.

The document is One Common Faith—a deep and scholarly exploration of religion (that’s the reason some folks won’t like this story…).

The web site is Changeless Faith—dedicated to a multimedia learning process that dives into One Common Faith  and helps you connect with it in a personal way. {if you’re not the type of person who regularly reads deep scholarly documents, I’d recommend starting with the “Companion” part of the site rather than the “Document” part—you’ll get a simpler introduction to the concepts and appreciate the full document much more}

The Story

I was born in 1946 to two Christian ministers—mom and dad. I feel lucky to have had such an early introduction to serious religious life. I’ve felt conflicted about the deep problems I’ve had to struggle with to unravel the mystery of Who God really Is—mom and dad or the Ineffable, Unknowable Creator.

I think our earliest ancestors had a somewhat similar problem. The members of our human family who lived during our infancy had to struggle to co-exist with the powers they encountered and they developed various theories about a Power that ruled over those powers. Lightning or earthquakes are powers (so are mom and dad); why do they happen and what causes them? Later in the story, we’ll look at the scientific understanding of this issue but it won’t be easy to leave behind the ultimate Mystery about the Origin of our life and struggles in this earthly home…

I went to church four or five times a week. Our early ancestors worshiped in the constant cathedral of nature.

I trembled and uttered inner prayers that my soul wouldn’t be damned by my parents. Our earliest ancestors shouted and danced to appease the gods—inner and outer.

I asked my Sunday School teacher questions she couldn’t answer. They went to the medicine woman and were instructed to perform rites they weren’t expected to understand.

I mostly behaved but grew up to be quite impulsive and rebellious. They did what they had to do to survive and sometimes killed the members of other tribes.

To be continued…

Spiritual Quote :

“It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of [many] present-day churches.”
From letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá’í para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951

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Exploitation Is Rape

People, traditionally suppressed in their complaint about exploitation, are rising up !

From CommonDreams.Org: Chevron Lobbyist: ‘We Can’t Let Little Countries Screw Around With Big Companies’ “Chevron Hires Lobbyists To Squeeze Ecuador in Toxic-Dumping Case”

From OneWorld.Net: Activists Applaud India Coke Plant Closure “Coca-Cola has shut down its bottling plant in Sinhachawar, India following a vigorous community-led campaign that protested the factory’s illegal occupation of land and exposed its “shocking” levels of pollution, reports a local corporate abuse watchdog.”

First men, then corporations run by men. First women, then mother earth

What supports us as a human family has been and is being raped. People with no discernable heart are walking on our hearts with filthy, greedy boots.

The little “boy”, who used to dote on his “mother” and was her pride and joy, has reached “adolescence” and is threatening to sever relations with his best support.

Thank God all this is relatively temporary: people are rising up and saying no, mother earth is showing us some tough love, corporations that used to be free of opposition are facing tough times.

I feel today’s quote will add perspective to the issue:

“A candid acknowledgement that prejudice, war and exploitation have been the expression of immature stages in a vast historical process and that the human race is today experiencing the unavoidable tumult which marks its collective coming of age is not a reason for despair but a prerequisite to undertaking the stupendous enterprise of building a peaceful world. That such an enterprise is possible, that the necessary constructive forces do exist, that unifying social structures can be erected, is the theme we urge you to examine.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 1

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“Bring thyself to account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning…”

Time for an accounting. I’ve been writing nearly everyday on this blog since March—since I was nearing the end of eleven months of taking five highly abusive medical drugs to rid my liver of a deadly virus—jury’s still out on whether it worked . . .

From the New York Times: Uncertainties About the Role of Doubt in Religion “Religious faith was once the air everyone, even the doubter, breathed. Today, religious faith, in its many forms, stands as but one possibility alongside a range of nonreligious outlooks that the honest believer cannot simply dismiss as deluded or depraved.
“Religious thinkers, of course, have long argued that uncertainty and faith are not the polar opposites often supposed; that indifference, and not doubt, for example, is the greater adversary of faith; that absolute certitude about God often reflects a dangerous arrogance.”

I’ve been trying to live up to my Faith for almost twenty years now—struggling against my grasping ego—contending with the oh, so easy rationalizations to just be “human”; imperfections flowering into weeds of uncertainty.

This blog is part of my personal covenant with God—hopeful action to stave off the demons of doubt.

I value the feedback I receive from my visitors, especially the indicators of which posts are the most viewed (see the far right sidebar). I struggle to interpret what’s going on in the world in terms of my Faith and post my thoughts and feelings here. What people choose to read is a “message” to me—a wake-up call—about how my private efforts are connected to other members of our human family . . .

So…

Thought I’d take the current most-viewed-posts and put them together (for my meditation and, hopefully, your edification) in these files:

Word File ——— PDF File
For an undetermined reason the Word file didn’t hold the images.
If you’re able, download the PDF…

~~~~~~~~~

“Examine the wondrous behaviour of the Prophets, and recall the defamations and denials uttered by the children of negation and falsehood, perchance you may cause the bird of the human heart to wing its flight away from the abodes of heedlessness and doubt unto the nest of faith and certainty, and drink deep from the pure waters of ancient wisdom, and partake of the fruit of the tree of divine knowledge. Such is the share of the pure in heart of the bread that hath descended from the realms of eternity and holiness.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 5

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How Hungry Are *You* ?

Cartoons can be brutal in their portrayals yet nowhere near as brutal as the facts.

Who’s starving?
Who’s well-fed and determined to stay that way, whatever the price?
Who deserves to starve?
Who’s working to stop the inequities?

From Reuters: Biofuels major driver of food price rise: World Bank “Large increases in biofuels production in the United States and Europe are the main reason behind the steep rise in global food prices, a top World Bank economist said in research published on Monday.”

From OneWorld.Net: Trade Negotiations Cannot Solve Food Crisis Created by WTO and World Bank “Trade negotiators are using the current food crisis as a Trojan Horse at the WTO negotiations to push an agribusiness agenda on farmers and rural communities around the world,” stated Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Agriculture should be removed from WTO negotiations until international leaders fully examine the impact on developing countries’ ability to feed themselves.”

Hmmm…
The World Bank states one of the major problems then persists in striving toward a non-solution.

Why are people so subjugated they can’t raise their own food? Why do the multinationals work so hard to deny human rights?

Let’s see . . . Couldn’t be massive greed, could it?

It took me most of 40 years to get the idea that we are One from my head to my heart. During that time, I committed actions that benefited me and ignored my brothers and sisters in our global family.

My head said I deserved what I could grab. I’d suffered and needed those material things to comfort me . . .

Now my heart aches with bleeding feelings that stun my sensibilities. The world’s in the clutches of the temporally powerful. Temporal because the Spirit of humanity will survive and the materialistic “rulers” will turn to dust and be forgotten.

This post and its implications are so grief-ridden I’m reduced to a state of utter hope—hope that my grandchild’s children will see better days.

What’s your estimate of when things will turn from greed to compassion?

~~~~~~~~~

“Good God! Is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest misery, can he enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the Religion of God, it is prescribed and established that wealthy men each year give over a certain part of their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. That is the foundation of the Religion of God and is binding upon all.
“And as man in this way is not forced nor obliged by the government, but is by the natural tendency of his good heart voluntarily and radiantly showing benevolence toward the poor, such a deed is much praised, approved and pleasing.
“Such is the meaning of the good works in the Divine Books and Tablets.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 276

“Unfortunately, the arbiters of human affairs have, instead of embracing the concept of the oneness of mankind and promoting the increase of concord among different peoples, tended to deify the State, to subordinate the rest of mankind to one nation, race or class, to attempt to suppress all discussion and interchange of ideas, or callously to abandon starving millions to the operations of a market system that all too clearly is aggravating the plight of the majority of mankind, while enabling small sections to live in an unprecedented condition of affluence.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1989 Feb 09, Right to Development

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