The Game of Life – Introduction

game of life intro

Is life a game?

From Wikipedia: “A game is a structured activity, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes also used as an educational tool. Games are generally distinct from work…and from art…However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art….”

I’ll be posting three more articles in this series:

Part One—the Rules of the Game of Life

Part Two—the Playing of the Game of Life

Part Three—the Rewards of the Game of Life

Should take me about two days per article since I’ll be playing doing research with a simulation game called Civilization IV as I write the series.

The connections among Life, Games, and Spirituality will unfold as we go along………

Spiritual Quotes:

“You are the game that death stalketh; stand and he seizeth you, fly and he followeth.”

“The stalwart is he who overcometh himself.”
Marzieh Gail, From the Sayings of ‘Ali, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 14

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Are You Hungry ?

gluttonFrom OneWorld.net: “The $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street recently passed by the U.S. government to mitigate the financial crisis ‘could have wiped out the last traces of poverty, hunger, malnutrition and squalor from the face of the Earth,’ said food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

So, the financiers who caused the crisis (and made the gap between affluent and squalid wider) are to be preferred over millions of other members of our Human Family?

Where is the justice in this situation?

How long will this assault on virtue and morality continue?

How the hell do the perpetrators of such vile imbalances sleep at night?

It’s become fairly obvious that purely economic or political solutions to global crises don’t work.

From Inter Press Service: Poverty, fuel and other crises all interconnected

From AFP: World finance chiefs grasp for solutions in firestorm

From MarketWatch: Despite Market Rebound, Food Crisis to Follow, Experts Say

From The Financial Times: Global bailouts “second-worst solution” to global crisis

It’s time to realize why these “experts” in global business can’t end our world’s problems.

Spiritual Quotes:

“As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 240

“The fundamentals of the whole economic condition are divine in nature and are associated with the world of the heart and spirit…. Hearts must be so cemented together, love must become so dominant that the rich shall most willingly extend assistance to the poor and take steps to establish these economic adjustments permanently. If it is accomplished in this way, it will be most praiseworthy because then it will be for the sake of God and in the pathway of His service. For example, it will be as if the rich inhabitants of a city should say, ‘It is neither just nor lawful that we should possess great wealth while there is abject poverty in this community,’ and then willingly give their wealth to the poor, retaining only as much as will enable them to live comfortably.

“Strive, therefore, to create love in the hearts in order that they may become glowing and radiant. When that love is shining, it will permeate other hearts even as this electric light illumines its surroundings. When the love of God is established, everything else will be realized. This is the true foundation of all economics. Reflect upon it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 238

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What’s The Use of Sacrificing ?

sacrifice
Ever wanted to sacrifice yourself?

I can hear someone saying, Why in hell would anyone want to do that?

Our current world culture permits some to have the feeling they never have to give up anything while forcing millions into a state of perpetual sacrifice.

What’s the solution?

From Y Net News: Arab driver who ignited Akko riots ‘ready to sacrifice himself’

From Fair Investment Company: Scots sacrifice savings accounts to pay off debts, finds Lloyds TSB

From Daily News Central: Don’t Sacrifice Health to Stay Afloat in Tough Times

What’s really gained by never sacrificing?

What if mothers and fathers don’t sacrifice for their children?

What if politicians don’t sacrifice for their constituents?

What if the rich don’t sacrifice for the poor?

Time for a definition. “Sacrifice” has a root meaning derived from “sacred”—to make holy. It’s highest meaning is to give up something lesser for something greater.

Current culture seems to short-change most everything, even word meanings. Sacrifice has come to mean merely loss—giving up and not getting in return.

Naturally, if one is too egotistical, it’s very difficult to see what can be gained by sacrificing; but, one thing definitely acquired is growth.

The best example I can think of is the growth each of us has experienced in our journey through life on the Earth.

The first thing sacrificed is the womb. Next is mother’s milk. Then comes the loss of security in the shelter of home through introduction to the wider world. Each grade of school sees the sacrifice of limited understanding for an ever-growing fund of knowledge. Each love lost has the power to enlarge the heart. Every opportunity closed off opens new paths…

Even Life itself is lost with the rebirth of death—believed by some as new life in the ineffable Worlds of God.

Spiritual Quotes:

“Our greatest longing is that truth may be established in the world, and in this hope we draw near to one another in love and affection. Each and all are whole-hearted and selfless, willing to sacrifice all personal ambition to the grand ideal towards which they strive: Brotherly love and peace and union among men!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 100

“He bore hardships, he lived through misfortunes, he suffered afflictions. From the lips of the Manifestation he heard marvelous things. He was shown the lights of Paradise; he won his dearest wish. And at the end, when the Daystar of the world had set, he could endure no more, and flung himself into the sea. The waters of sacrifice closed over him; he was drowned, and he came, at last, to the Most High.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 35

“Know thou that when the Son of Man [Jesus] yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee. The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and resplendent Spirit.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 85

“Ponder that which befell Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, may the life of all else be a sacrifice unto Him. How severe the afflictions which the leaders of the Jewish people and of the idol-worshipers caused to rain upon Him, Who is the sovereign Lord of all, in consequence of His proclamation of the unity of God and of the truth of His Message! By the righteousness of My Cause! My Pen groaneth, and all created things weep with a great weeping, as a result of the woes He suffered at the hands of them that have broken the Covenant of God, violated His Testament, rejected His proofs, and disputed His signs. Thus recount We unto thee the tale of that which happened in days past, haply thou mayest comprehend.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 57

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GoodBadGoodBadGood

good and bad

What is  good or bad?

Can anyone say with surety that any given act is one or the other?

Aren’t there cases where what’s thought bad ends up furthering good?

How the heck should we decide?

Some would say, “Should  we decide?”.

From Country Music Television: Good Songs for Bad Times

From the Times Online – UK: Why you can bet that a good read will be truly bad

From MarketWatch: The bad economy is good for the environment

I’m not about to tell you what’s good for you or what you do that’s bad. It wouldn’t be good for me to do that ’cause it’s bad form—won’t make me or you any better.

There are a ton of sources that will tell you what’s good or bad, from scholarly essays to rap songs. There are even people shouting on street corners, shouting right in your face, that you’re going to Hell.

And, with penetrating effect and long-lasting influence, our mothers and fathers (and, sometimes, sisters and brothers and uncles and aunts and grandparents) have told us we should do This and never do That…

I’m a member of a Faith that my parents never practiced. They were Christian ministers and I’m a Bahá’í. They worked to put their Faith into practice and I struggle, daily, to be true to mine.

So, is it reasonable to cling to the moral standards of a religion? Is it more reasonable to cling to a humanistic, scientific view of human behavior? Can the two perspectives be blended?

Are we intelligent enough to decide what’s good or bad on our own with no input from others, whether human or divine?

Just to keep the discussion lively, consider this: Within every horribly bad happening is the seed of a gloriously good outcome.

Here’s a video that should stir up even more discussion. It starts out with a bit of a shock, quickly becomes fascinating, and ends as pure delight!

Spiritual Quotes:

“Question. — Is man a free agent in all his actions, or is he compelled and constrained?

“Answer. — This question is one of the most important and abstruse of divine problems. If God wills, another day, at the beginning of dinner, we will undertake the explanation of this subject in detail; now we will explain it briefly, in a few words, as follows. Some things are subject to the free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death, sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is free, and he commits them according to his own will.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 248

“The sundering of science and religion is but one example of the tendency of the human mind (which is necessarily limited in its capacity) to concentrate on one virtue, one aspect of truth, one goal, to the exclusion of others. This leads, in extreme cases, to fanaticism and the utter distortion of truth, and in all cases to some degree of imbalance and inaccuracy. A scholar who is imbued with an understanding of the broad teachings of the Faith will always remember that being a scholar does not exempt him from the primal duties and purposes for which all human beings are created. All men, not scholars alone, are exhorted to seek out and uphold the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.”
The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 390

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Path Toward Peace – Step Eleven

morality

The Power of a Moral Character


This is the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written.

It’s the last in a series of eleven posts concerned with the Path Toward Peace.

It’s a summation of all the other posts and a clear call toward embracing the single factor that will assure the other steps in the process are capable of being activated and practiced productively.

From the Financial Times: Paul Newman And A Lesson In Morality

From the Morris County, New Jersey, Daily Record: Morality, honesty will help the nation

From The American Enterprise Institute: Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character?

From the Irish Times: Sarkozy calls for capitalism with dose of morality

We’ve covered a lot of ground in this series:
Racism, Economic Disparity, Altruism, Nationalism, Religious Strife, Equality of Women and Men, Universal Education, a Global Language, and the Twin Powers of Civilization: Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections.

Now, we face the one quality that makes us able to bring all the other issues to a harmonious resolution: A Moral  Response to the Crises Stalking Our Human Family.

So, why did I say this is the most difficult blog post I’ve ever written?

* Bringing up the word “Morality” in our ultimately materialized culture can make people fade away very quickly; and, I want people to attend to the issues raised in this blog.

* “Morality” is a word that can induce feelings of stricture–loss of “freedom” and a sense that one has to abide by someone else’s idea of what’s right and wrong.

* There’s a common attitude floating around that we humans are the top of the evolutionary tree (more than likely true) and we have the “right” to do whatever we “think” is best.

* The whole issue of Religion and where our best Guide for appropriate behavior comes from.

* And, most importantly, I’m certainly not the best person to be telling other people what they “should” do…

Still, there are attitudes and actions that work better than others  when we attempt to further the impending realization of Global Peace. And, they are Moral Attitudes and Actions.

Here’s a list of virtues from the Virtues Project that are powerful medicine for enabling us to take the kind of action necessary to advance the process of attaining Global Peace:

assertiveness forgiveness orderliness
caring friendliness patience
cleanliness generosity peacefulness
commitment gentleness perseverance
compassion helpfulness purposefulness
confidence honesty reliability
consideration honor respect
cooperation humility responsibility
courage idealism self-discipline
courtesy integrity service
creativity joyfulness tact
detachment justice thankfulness
determination kindness tolerance
diligence love trust
enthusiasm loyalty trustworthiness
excellence moderation truthfulness
flexibility modesty understanding
unity

I encourage each of you to check yourselves against this list—take an inventory of your moral capability—find out if you have the weapons, at the ready , that will empower you to aid our beleaguered Human Family in its Quest toward Peace and Tranquility…

Spiritual Quotes:

“O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behavior.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 93

“Within the very breath of such souls as are pure and sanctified far-reaching potentialities are hidden. So great are these potentialities that they exercise their influence upon all created things.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, quoting Bahá’u’lláh, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 23

“…the happiness and greatness, the rank and station, the pleasure and peace, of an individual have never consisted in his personal wealth, but rather in his excellent character, his high resolve, the breadth of his learning, and his ability to solve difficult problems. How well has it been said: ‘On my back is a garment which, were it sold for a penny, that penny would be worth far more; yet within the garment is a soul which, if you weighed it against all the souls in the world, would prove greater and nobler’.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 23

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Path Toward Peace – Step Ten

 

Two Wings of Progress: Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections


Ever wondered why, if we’re such brainy and advanced creatures, we have so many critical crises going on?

Ever pondered how spiritual solutions to those crises could resolve even the material factors?

What’s wrong with the quote in the following news item?

From The Moultrie Observer: An Energy Overview: “A U.S. declaration of energy independence to be achieved in the next decade can develop the ‘know how’ to reconstitute the basis for our material civilization. This would replace the now skeletal wealth-generating engines of the smoke-staked industrial age with means of many magnitudes greater productive and wealth-building potential.”

The first thing wrong with that quote is the idea of U.S. energy independence.

When will the leaders get it right? We live in an interdependent world. Anything based on nationalistic independence will fail and, in the process, harm others in the Human Family.

The other thing wrong with the quote is the article it’s in: a careful analysis of the “solution” to a failed factor in the equation of material civilization. There is no mention of spiritual values. The only word even coming close is “ideal” and it indicates a material use of brain-power directed toward a material solution for a material world…

There is no doubt that we live in a material world.

There is also no doubt that the proponents of strict material solutions for the crises of our world have completely failed to resolve those crises and daily add to the confusion and suffering of our Family.

Material civilization has contributed many wonderful and positively helpful products and processes to our struggle as spiritual entities with material bodies  living on the Earth.

The issue is the continuing and disturbing failure to recognize the spiritual side of the equation…

Spiritual Quotes:

“Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. Even as it hath been said: ‘He who is a true believer liveth both in this world and in the world to come.’ If by ‘life’ be meant this earthly life, it is evident that death must needs overtake it.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 120

“A superficial culture, unsupported by a cultivated morality, is as ‘a confused medley of dreams’,[1] and external lustre without inner perfection is ‘like a vapor in the desert which the thirsty dreameth to be water’.[2] For results which would win the good pleasure of God and secure the peace and well-being of man, could never be fully achieved in a merely external civilization….

“Be just: can this nominal civilization, unsupported by a genuine civilization of character, bring about the peace and well-being of the people or win the good pleasure of God? Does it not, rather, connote the destruction of man’s estate and pull down the pillars of happiness and peace?”
[1 Qur’án 12:44; 21:5.]
[2 Qur’án 24:39.]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 60-62

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Path Toward Peace – Step Nine

Resolving the impediments induced by the multiplicity of languages


Ever been in a foreign country, not knowing their language?

Ever fallen in love with someone and couldn’t use words to express that love in their native tongue?

Ever wondered if translations really get the meaning across?

From MarketWatch: Across Systems to Demonstrate New Language Portal Solution

From the Korea Times: Book Reviews Loss of Native Languages

From the Kansas City Star: Learning a new language: It’s a small world after all

From WikiAnswers: “Scientists have counted approx. 6500 languages, half of which are, however, threatened to die off soon, as they are no longer passed on. Not counted in above figure are pure sign-languages or computer-languages.”

Also not counted are the multitude of business, political, religious, and neighborhood jargons and slangs.

Is a global language necessary?

Would having to learn your native language and a global language be too hard for people?

Again, is translation a guarantee that understanding has occurred?

What are some of the difficulties you’ve  experienced because of different languages?

Have a look at a slide presentation about the difficulties of learning another language.

Bottom line: Understanding each other is a major contributor to being at peace with each other…

Spiritual Quotes:

“The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 249

“The races of mankind are not isolated as in former days. Now, in order to be in close relationship with all countries it is necessary to be able to speak their tongues.

“A universal language would make intercourse possible with every nation. Thus it would be needful to know two languages only, the mother tongue and the universal speech. The latter would enable a man to communicate with any and every man in the world!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 155

“A fundamental lack of communication between peoples seriously undermines efforts towards world peace. Adopting an international auxiliary language would go far to resolving this problem and necessitates the most urgent attention.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3

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