Changes…

Fire_zone

“How many are My servants whose deeds have become veils between them and their own selves, and who have been kept back thereby from drawing nigh unto God, He Who causeth the winds to blow.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts

This blog has 322 posts…

I mention that because this blog will live as long as the Internet exists; and, the way things are looking, that will be for a very long time…

I also mention the number of posts because I’ve worked very hard to make each of those posts worth reading for as long as the Internet exists—each, even if about a particular topical event, has spiritual principles expressed which never die…

I won’t be writing any more posts on this blog (I’m working on my memoirs…) but the blog’s usefulness won’t cease…

There’s a search box in the right panel…

Put some words of interest to you in the box and read the posts that come up…

I guarantee you’ll find wisdom—wisdom I don’t have—wisdom in the words I chose to include from others…

Go ahead…

I dare ya…

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This Blog Is Now A Book !

our_evolutionYep, all 314 posts from March 6, 2008 to August 30, 2009 and the book ended up being 789 pages!

I produced the book for absolutely no cost…

I started with BlogBooker which downloaded the blog into a PDF file…

Then, I used Lulu to upload the PDF and convert it into a print-ready file, with color cover and all…

Lulu lets you add whatever royalty you want to their basic costs to print the book when someone orders it—Print-On-Demand…

Well…

Since the book was 789 pages, Lulu could only produce it as a hardback; and, since the blog (and now the book) has a picture for each post, it had to be a full-color book…

So, I only added $4.00 as a royalty…

You can download it at Lulu for $5.00 or order the full-color hardback for $177.80… Ridiculous, right?

Plus, the download is much better because you can click on all the links and they pop-up in your browser…

Just for the fun of it, and so you can see what one of Lulu’s sales pages looks like, here’s the link

I suppose $177.80 for a 789-page full-color hardback is “reasonable” but I think the most important part of the whole process is that I took a blog and turned it into a book available for sale for not one penny!!

Also, I’d previously published a 305-page, black-and-white book in paperback (8.5×11) and their base cost to print was only $13.00…

Bottom-line:

Since, no matter how good this blog has been, no one should pay that much for it, you can download the book for free  right here… Since it’s a large book, give the file a few minutes to prepare itself for download…

Spiritual Quote:

“We have said in the past that one word hath the influence of spring and causeth hearts to become fresh and verdant, while another is like unto blight which causeth the blossoms and flowers to wither. God grant that authors among the friends will write in such a way as would be acceptable to fair-minded souls, and not lead to cavilling by the people.”
Bahá’u’lláh in the Compilation, Writers and Writing

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Blogging Yourself To Death . . .

This post isn’t about blogging so much you die from it. It’s about blogging in the wrong country. That country is Iran and the blogger was Omid Reza Mirsayafi. He was jailed for blogging and died in prison. There’s a special site dedicated to making him the last blogger to die in prison, OR318.
Here’s a special video about the movement:

Spiritual Quote:

“Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail—that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs—development and growth are inevitable.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 197

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How Valuable Is Your Life ?

next_world
Susan just wanted to die…

Her parents had done it, just last year—smashed to a pulp in their car.

David had left her—”I’m really sorry about your parents but you’re mind just isn’t right, Susan. Grief is one thing; but, this is just too weird.”

She’d been talking to her parents in her sleep—sometimes when she was awake…

She stood at the end of the tunnel that ran under the road in the park and started screaming.

Unnoticed, just to her left, sat an old man, back to a tree. He looked up in his stupor and shouted, “Hey, Twinkles, nothing’s that bad.”

Susan’s scream strangled itself and she whirled on the man—”Why did you call me Twinkles!? ”

“‘Cause it’s your name . . .” The man promptly passed out.

Susan began a slow twirl that sank toward the ground as her mind revealed her mother and father, floating in nothingness, smiling and saying the name they’d called her when she was a child—Twinkles . . .

~~~~~~~~~

Just a story? Ever heard one like it?

Right when I was ready to write a post about the Next World and our connection to it, and as mysteriously as the old man calling Susan Twinkles, a fellow-blogger posted a friend’s powerful short essay on just that topic. It first appeared, as a guest post, in Bahá’í Perspectives  then, the writer posted it to her own blog, Two Points for Honesty. Here it is:

nava-kavelin
Nava Kavelin

The Prelude

“It is not an easy task to present minds obsessed with the conception of this world and its affairs as complete in itself rather than as an ante-room to a larger, freer life, a scene in which the dominant note [is] Eternity.”

~Howard Colby Ives


What would it look like if we lived our lives at every moment aware of the fact that this world and everything in it was merely a prelude to a world much greater than this. Rather than allowing that knowledge to dull us into nonchalance or trick us into thinking the prelude was inconsequential, we would live knowing that the prelude was absolutely crucial in dictating what was to come.

The prelude would define the rest of the play—the body and the characters, the scene titles, and even the very last period on the very last page of the final act.

How might we live if we understood that the prelude was not more important than the rest of the play, but was absolutely essential to its unfolding.

And what if we knew that this play told the greatest love story of all time. Greater than Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Bella and Edward, Leili and Majnun…greater than the love felt by the most adoring, devoted, sacrificial father for his favorite daughter…and that the prelude’s purpose was to set forces in motion which would allow for the lover and the beloved to meet in the chamber of eternity.

The meeting of the two was inevitable. But the prelude would determine how quickly it would happen. The prelude would determine how long the lover would sigh in longing for her beloved. How long she would feel consumed by the flame of separation from the one for whom every cell in her body existed, every beat of her heart resounded, nay, the reason why every atom in the universe was. For these two to meet, to love, to be near.

What if you knew that you were the lover in the prelude. And that every decision you made, every thought, every action or inaction, bore direct influence on how near you would be to the greatest, most radiant, most resplendent, kind, loving, wonderful, unimaginably glorious being.

That every kind act, every selfless thought, every step taken to help ease someone else’s burden, to help improve the quality of another’s life, to help those other lovers living the prelude with you would draw you nearer to this object of adoration—and what if you knew that your time in the prelude was very, very fleeting, especially as compared with the dominant note of eternity, which the rest of the book would unfold—would you waste a single moment on anger? On jealousy? On lethargy or inactivity?

How much time would you devote to leisure? To pleasure pursuits that distracted you, perhaps even furthered you away from, the path that led to this all-glorious one?

If we lived every moment of our lives consciously aware that we were created to know and to love God, to worship and adore Him in our actions towards His other creatures, that in serving our fellow man, we drew nearer unto Him, that whether or not we felt it now, when we exited the ante room and entered the chamber of eternity, we would be totally aware of and consumed by our love for Him and that if we were remote from Him we would feel sorrow and regret more intense than any hellish brimstone or scalding fire could impose on us …and that our nearness or remoteness from Him would be in direct proportion to how we had spent our time in the ante room, or how we had penned our story in the prelude—I wonder how differently we would behave. How different our entire atmosphere would be. One directly affects the other, after all, and both help shape the kind of eternity that awaits us. An eternity which we are already a part of, which is always as near to us as the air we inhale and exhale at every moment.

“…This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty.”

~ Bahá’u’lláh

Spiritual Quote :

“Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 27

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The Best Blogs . . .

best_blogsMiguel’s blog was actually being read by people outside his village!  He could hardly believe it but wasn’t going to complain—he’d worked hard to learn how to blog and felt his message was worth reading—the oppression of his people…

Within a year, his blog was being more than just noticed; it was being quoted on other blogs and seemed to be reaching people who had some influence that just might aid his Cause…

Shortly after his blog’s first birthday, Miguel was asked to contribute to an international online journal about oppression of indigenous peoples. Miguel was very happy with his plight even though he had to take more care when he walked in the town near his village—word was reaching the authorities . . .

~~~~~~~~~

That little snippet of a story was created by me but inspired by real stories I’ve read about the “reach” of apparently humble blogs—about the surging energy of thousands of citizen journalists.

I’ve recently discovered a major source of journalism that honors bloggers, worldwide. Here’s a short statement from Deutsche Welle  who sponsors the BOBs—Best of the Blogs—Awards:

“Welcome to the BOBs, the world’s largest international awards for Weblogs, podcasts and videoblogs. Since its inception four years ago, the BOBs have grown to include 11 languages. The winners of each year’s awards are decided by both an international jury of bloggers and through online voting.”

Here are just a few of the top winners:

Generación Y ~ Best Weblog

Author: Yoani Sanchez
Language: Spanish
Date: 2008-09-03
More: Details
Comments: 93 
The Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez has been transformed over the past year into an international personality. In Generation Y, she gives voice to a whole generation of Cubans and provides the world with a window into Cuba through her clear and poetic writing.

Voices of Africa ~ Best Videoblog

Author: Various
Language: English
Date: 2008-09-25
More: Details
Voices of Africa is a project to equip citizen journalists in Africa with mobile phones and/or portable digital recorders so they can report on the events happening around them. The local more…

Ohod ~ Best Weblog Arabic

Author: Ahmad 
Language: Arabic
Date: 2008-09-30
More: Details
Comments: 4 
Ahmad provides an introduction to independent culture in Egypt, the Arab world and elsewhere. His short commentaries on social issues and reflections are pieces of Arabic literature.

刘晓原的BLOG ~ Best Weblog Chinese

Author: 刘晓原
Language: Chinese
Date: 2008-09-24
More: Details
Comments: 112 
Liu Xiaoyuan is a self-educated lawyer. He got his official license to work as a lawyer in 2000. He has been writing his blog for the 3 years and helps people protect themselves in their more…

Spiritual Quote :

“In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were wellnigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one. And for everyone it is now easy to travel to any land, to associate and exchange views with its peoples, and to become familiar, through publications, with the conditions, the religious beliefs and the thoughts of all men. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible…”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 31

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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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Heads or Tails ?

soar above painIt’s always a choice, no matter how much pain is happening, whether you’ll attempt to rise above it or wallow in it.

From the Lewiston Sun Journal:The Sweet Sting of Relief

From empowher:You’re In Pain. You Want Relief. Naturally

From the Daily Record, Scotland:I climbed all 284 Munros [mountains] despite suffering from two debilitating conditions

I spent some time yesterday looking back at the first few posts of this blog. I began it in March, just two months before the end of a torturous eleven-month medical drug therapy to rid my liver of a deadly virus (Hepatitis C). The first posts were all about the pain of the treatments, about how debilitating and depressing they were but, also, expressing my determination to soar as far above the physical disorders as I could.

One of the greatest aids to flight above physical suffering was my music. I even offered some of my favorites in a post on March 28th:

My All-Time Favorite Song

My All-Time Favorite Singer

My All-Time Favorite Musical Group

The other great relief from my suffering was opening my mind and heart to spiritual sustenance.

If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I’m dedicated to raising the issues in current events to the level of Principle. Recently, I’ve been working toward my first comprehensive series of posts. The first in the series will be the very next post I write (more than likely posted on Tuesday). The subject will be Inducing the Will to Act. I’m taking the themes for the series from the fourth chapter of a book called, Peace: More Than An End To War.

To help with my thinking and feeling for the series (it will be a major spiritual and emotional effort) I used a really cool application called Wordle–transposing any text (including a blog) into a word-cloud. I used the text of the document, The Search for Values in an Age of Transition, which I’m studying for a future series of posts.

Here’s the word-cloud (click to enlarge):
spiritual word-cloud

Here’s the outline for the series of posts (with the post numbers):

1 Inducing the will to act.
Eliminating barriers to peace.
2 Racism.
3 Extremes of wealth & poverty.
Preventing economic disparity
Fostering altruism & philanthropy

4 Unbridled nationalism.
5 Religious strife.
6 Denial of the equality of women & men.
7 Ignorance & lack of education.
8 Multiplicity of languages.
Evoking Moral Attitudes Conducive to Enduring Peace
9 Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections
10 Two Wings of Progress
11 The Power of a Moral Character

“Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful.”
Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 87

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