Fighting With Myself

fightingFor twenty years I’ve been a member of a Faith that I deeply love. For twenty years I’ve had to fight with myself to live up to the precepts and principles of that Faith…

Why would a person who feels their Faith is powerful enough to help them with the bad side of life have to struggle so hard? Could it be that the 42 years I’d lived before I found my Faith have such a backlog of ingrained habits that it will take a supreme effort to live up to my Faith?

I’ve thought, for many years, that I needed to make a supreme effort and sometimes felt I was making that effort. I’m still  needing a Supreme Effort…

At least I’m a better man than when I began this Faithful Journey. Still, my conscience doesn’t stop stalking me…

Some may say I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Some may say that feeling bad about trying to be good is insane. Some may think I should just stop trying to live up to a Code that interferes with living in this world.

That last idea hits at the core of why I keep battling with myself—is this world the end of existence for human beings? My mind says, if it is the end, I’ve got no business worrying about my behavior—in the long run it doesn’t matter at all.

If it isn’t the end of my existence and if there is another world after this, then I need to make a Supreme Effort to get this life Right so I can Soar in the next life!

I don’t believe there are a heaven and hell after this life—places of infinite joy and infinite punishment—those states exist right here on this earth. To me, the next life is a continuation of this one, both being an infinite Journey back to our Creator…

And, as far as reincarnation goes, seems to me the ultimate excuse to do whatever the hell I want since I can make it up “next time”…

So, as I continue working to live up to my principles, I’ll leave you with some quotes to think about. My Faith says we all have the responsibility to investigate Truth for ourselves—see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears…

The first three quotes are not from the free Ocean software I usually use; I found them on the ‘Net.

Spiritual Quotes :

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.”
— Helen Keller (both blind and deaf from infancy)

“The primary question about life after death is not whether it is a fact, but even if it is, what problems that really solves.”
— Ludwig Wittgenstein (Austrian philosopher who worked primarily in logic)

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
— Mark Twain (American Writer/Humorist)

“As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.”
— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66

“What death is more wretched than to flee from the Source of everlasting life?”
— Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 38

“You are now like a withered leaf;
the messengers of death have come near you.
You stand at the threshold of your departure.
Have you made provision for your journey?”
— Buddhist, Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha 2 (translator, J. Richards)

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
King James Bible, John 5:24

“In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”
King James Bible, Proverbs 12:28

“But whereso any doeth all his deeds
Renouncing self for Me, full of Me, fixed
To serve only the Highest, night and day
Musing on Me- him will I swiftly lift
Forth from life’s ocean of distress and death,
Whose soul clings fast to Me.”
— Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold, translator)

“Giver of vital breath, of power and vigour, he whose commandments all the Gods acknowledge -.
The Lord of death, whose shade is life immortal. What God shall we adore with our oblation?”
— Vedas, Rig Veda – Book 10, 2

“One said, ‘The world would be a pleasant place
If death never set foot within it’.
Another answered, ‘If there were no death,
The complicated world would be worth not a jot.
It would be a crop raised in a desert,
Left neglected and never threshed out.
Thou fanciest that to be death, which is life,
Thou sowest thy seed in salt ground.
Carnal reason deceives us; do thou contradict it,
For that fool takes what is really death to be life.
O God, show us all things in this house of deception,
Show them all as they really are’!”
— Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield translator), The Masnavi, Vol 5

“Then contemplate (O man!) the memorials of Allah’s Mercy! — how He gives life to the earth after its death: verily the Same will give life to the men who are dead: for He has power over all things.”
The Qur’an (Yusuf Ali, translator), Surah 30 verse 50

“‘Life and Death are indeed changes of great moment’, answered Confucius, ‘but they cannot affect his mind. Heaven and earth may collapse, but his mind will remain. Being indeed without flaw, it will not share the fate of all things. It can control the transformation of things, while preserving its source intact’.”
Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang, translator)

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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

The World-Wide Gender Gap

gender_gapIn a previous post, Path Toward Peace – Step Seven, the concept of eliminating the denial of the equality of women and men  was explored. I thought it was time to take another look at the critical need for complete equality between women and men, world-wide. It’s fulfillment is crucial to global peace…

I consulted a document entitled, Global Gender Gap Report. It was published by The World Economic Forum with the aid of Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley.

It goes into extreme detail about many interactive factors measured for 130 countries to assess their accomplishments toward closing the gender gap.

Here are the top ten countries, those doing the best job of facilitating gender equality:

Norway
Finland
Sweden
Iceland
New Zealand
Philippines
Denmark
Ireland
Netherlands
Latvia

Here are the bottom ten countries, those doing the least to close the gap:

Bahrain
Ethiopia
Turkey
Egypt
Morocco
Benin
Pakistan
Saudi Arabia
Chad
Yemen

And, here’s part of the conclusion from the Report:

“The third edition of The Global Gender Gap Report calls attention to four essential facts. First, the Index provides a valuable snapshot of the current performance of 130 countries, representing over 90% of the world’s population. On average, over 97% of the gap on health outcomes, 95% of the gap on educational attainment, 62% of the gap on economic participation and 16% of the gap on political empowerment has been closed. No country in the world has achieved gender equality. The four highest ranking countries—Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland—have closed a little over 80% of their gender gaps, while the lowest ranking country—Yemen—has closed only around 47% of its gender gap.”

Much work to be done, eh?

Spiritual Quote :

“So it will come to pass that when women participate fully and equally in the affairs of the world, when they enter confidently and capably the great arena of laws and politics, war will cease.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoted in a document from the Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Aug 26, Creating Legal Institutional Structures for Gender Equality

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Poll Results

pollsWell, the One Common Faith Polls have been up for three days now and I want to report on the results, so far

I’ve learned in my time with this blog that any given post can be visited for months because of the web of connections I have on the Internet. The post that’s remained the most popular, Strong In The Broken Places, was written back on May 9th…

Even though I’m going to give the results of the polls in this post, I’m sure they’ll be visited over the next few months. I’ll be giving updates as time goes on. You didn’t take part in the polls? Oh, my!  Here they are…

So…

*The poll about, How would you characterize yourself?, has 32 responses so far. The top three responses are:

#1: Spiritual

#2: is a tie between, Religious and Moral

#3: is a tie between, Agnostic and Atheistic

*The poll with the question, How do you feel about humanity’s future?, has 25 responses and the top three are:

#1: The Kingdom of God will be established on earth

#2: Improvement’s possible with God’s help

#3: is a tie between, Science will save us and We will save ourselves

*The poll about, Where do you feel you’re at, right now?, has 29 responses and the top three are:

#1: Working to establish God’s Kingdom

#2: Climbing a spiritual mountain

#3: Roaming in a spiritual valley

The results are in (for now) and I’m pondering them deeply to open myself up to what the readers of this blog are feeling…

Spiritual Quote:

“You will see how the world is upset with internal conflict, and many lands are dyed in human blood—nay the earth is kneaded with gore. The flame of war is so ablaze that such terrible struggle finds no parallel in the war records of any of the middle or recent ages. Heads have become like grains and the war like mill stones—nay even worse. Flourishing lands are ruined, cities completely wrecked and thriving towns annihilated. Fathers have lost their sons, sons are made fatherless, and mothers have shed tears of blood over the death of their youthful sons. Children are made orphan, women are helpless, and the world of humanity is forced backward in all respects. The wailing cry of fatherless children is raised abroad, and mothers’ pathetic lamentation reaches the high heaven.

“The source of all these catastrophes is racial fanaticism, patriotic fanaticism, religious fanaticism and political fanaticism. The source of these fanaticisms is ancient imitations, religious imitations, racial imitations, patriotic imitations, and political imitations. As long as following such imitations persists, the very foundation of humanity is wrecked and the world of man is in great jeopardy.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root

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One Common Faith ~ The Polls

poll
You can take these polls without reading the series, One Common Faith ~ The Story, but if you’d rather read it first, here’s the beginning…

You can select multiple answers


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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Seven

peace

The End {?} of the Story…

Here’s the beginning…


The last two posts, about my Dark Night of the Soul, didn’t have much detail. I tried to convey the essence of my journey through the halls of worldly learning and my lack of well-being during the trek. What I didn’t relate was the gritty, dirty, degrading, disheartening details. I’m sure some of you can fill in those details…

Our human family’s trek through the ages has much more depravity and wrenching sorrow than I ever  could have lived. There have also, thank God, been eras of soaring success and glorious progress. We—all humans—have been on a Trek of Cosmic proportion!

And, most important, for the story of humanity, all the sacred Scriptures talk about a Promised Time when the Kingdom of God will be established on this earth. Most people are unaware of this historic record and, even if educated about its existence, would not believe it possible.

In the depths of my own disbelief, I still caught glimpses of a Light—an ineffable, indescribable Hope—a Way Out of the nauseating cycle of strive-fail-strive-fail-Wail …

I found my Answer, my Faith, when I was 42. Yes, it was a religion. But… If you’ve been following this story from the beginning, you realize that, when I use the word “religion”, I don’t mean the deplorable examples that are scattered over the earth—the shams and shells of religion that are so perverted with human failings and fantasies that God, in His Love and Wisdom, is buried under impenetrable mountains of falsehood.

Yet, God is said to be All-Powerful…

So, where is a religion that permits God to enter our lives without the impossible barriers of conventional religions?

1844

That year is very  important. That year was the latest rebirth of religion—a rebirth that has happened many times in human history.

Just like Spring overcomes the death and decay of Winter, there have been Springtimes of religious rebirth—every Prophet-Founder of the world’s major religions bringing a Fresh Spirit of Pure Spiritual Knowledge—Each, insanely rejected by the followers of the incumbent form of religion—Each, made to suffer incredibly from the spiritual blindness of humanity.

But, God is Love, right? So, God has continued to send His Messengers, no matter how many times we’ve rejected Them…

I accepted my Faith when I was 42 and I’m now 62. I certainly didn’t turn into an angel just because I saw the Light. These last 20 years have been an incredible uphill struggle for me but, of course, I had 42 years to practice being an egotistic, materialistic human…

I have more hope than I ever did but my journey now has an importance that requires more deep soul-effort than I’d ever expended—more listening to my heart, more discipline, more prayer…

The way I see it, I have one basic choice, go with the worldly flow and continue to be miserably disappointed or oppose the flow and learn to soar in the heavens of pure spiritual life.

Our human family has the same choice and also has the capability and power to make the right decision—person by person—to turn this hellacious mess into the Promised Heavenly Earth. If you don’t believe me, you haven’t been hanging out in the right spaces, you haven’t been exposed to the Truth, you’ve been stuck for too long, just like me, in the rut of what’s been,  unable to see what can be …

I’m not trying to convert you to my religion, I’m just trying to let you know there is  hope, there is  a way to make our earth a respectable Palace that caters to the well-being and tranquillity of All Peoples …

Here’s a video about the world-wide Bahá’í Community:

Here is the Statement, The Promise of World Peace

Spiritual Quote :

“Your efforts must be lofty. Exert yourselves with heart and soul so that, perchance, through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine and this darkness of estrangement and enmity may be dispelled from amongst men, that all men may become as one family and consort together in love and kindness, that the East may assist the West and the West give help to the East, for all are the inhabitants of one planet, the people of one original native land and the flocks of one Shepherd.

“Consider how the Prophets Who have been sent, the great souls who have appeared and the sages who have arisen in the world have exhorted mankind to unity and love. This has been the essence of their mission and teaching. This has been the goal of their guidance and message. The Prophets, saints, seers and philosophers have sacrificed their lives in order to establish these principles and teachings amongst men. Consider the heedlessness of the world, for notwithstanding the efforts and sufferings of the Prophets of God, the nations and peoples are still engaged in hostility and fighting. Notwithstanding the heavenly commandments to love one another, they are still shedding each other’s blood. How heedless and ignorant are the people of the world! How gross the darkness which envelops them! Although they are the children of a compassionate God, they continue to live and act in opposition to His will and good pleasure. God is loving and kind to all men, and yet they show the utmost enmity and hatred toward each other. God is the Giver of life to them, and yet they constantly seek to destroy life. God blesses and protects their homes; they rage, sack and destroy each other’s homes. Consider their ignorance and heedlessness!

“Your duty is of another kind, for you are informed of the mysteries of God. Your eyes are illumined; your ears are quickened with hearing. You must, therefore, look toward each other and then toward mankind with the utmost love and kindness.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 470

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 Six

devilnegative

The Story Continues…

{the beginning is here}

More About My
Dark Night of the Soul

Last post, I’d said my search for spiritual answers in secular haunts led me to a lot of devilish activity. I’m not knocking all secular (non-religious) knowledge—we’d still be in the Stone Age without it.

What I’m getting at is acquiring only  secular knowledge—keeping your knowledge grounded in materialistic concerns, not hitching it to a spiritual star…

“If the material details blind us to the spiritual meaning, then we should be better without them…”
Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 204

Our ancestors struggled with the material world one hell of a lot more than people now living in affluent countries. Of course, there are still millions forced, through a lack of spiritual will and conviction on the part of affluent governments, to live at a level of struggle much like our distant ancestors. Humanity has gained much material knowledge but the sharing of that knowledge leaves much to be desired…

Our ancestors also struggled with the religious knowledge they acquired. Most of it was so perverted by overly materialistic priests and clergy that it was only of benefit to the money bags of the spiritual leaders. It appears that, apart from the material advancements made over the centuries, the spiritual advancement of civilization was aided by a mere handful of devoted, truly “religious” individuals.

For most of my life I was a greedy gatherer of materialistic knowledge—eager for whatever would put me ahead of the pack, secure my earthly position, and bring me the adulation of others. Having come from a serious religious background, I plunged into what the world had to offer and continually failed to attain happiness. Oh, sure, I’ve had my moments of joy but they were always followed by depression and dejection.

Our human family’s been through the same thing—pulling themselves up to new heights of achievement only to plunge into hellacious backwaters of degraded existence. Certain countries have attained super heights of glorious prestige then sunk into forgotten holes of history.

The best way I can relate the continuing, overpowering feeling that haunted me in my misguided, ego-controlled secular exploits is to share a poem I wrote in the midst of one of the darkest times:

Again?

Creeping up a
Hill of life from a
Valley too well-known;
This time, this
Time reach some
Height not leading
Back to have-to;
This time, this
Time free enough to
See beyond these
Patterns locked in
Self so locked in
Dust.

Next post, I’ll share what I discovered that definitely has the potential power to keep me facing the Light so the swirling greys of earthly existence don’t pull me back down into the Dark as

the story continues…

Spiritual Quote :

“Man is not a pre-existent being, but a newly produced and created being, consisting of two aspects or portions, the spiritual and material, which may be likened to hell and paradise; and he does not know whether he will be in hell or paradise. For instance, man is composed of evil as well as good, of darkness as well as light, of guidance as well as misleading; the most evil character is to be found in man, while the greatest and most excellent character is also found in him. We must see that the good qualities gain victory over the bad. If so, the man will become an ‘angel’, but if the bad qualities conquer the good ones, then he will become a ‘devil’. If the light conquers the darkness in man, of course he will be true light, and if the darkness conquers the light, he will be of the material.”
Compilations, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 499

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