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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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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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
Comments93 
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
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
Comments112 
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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Sharing in a Community

Blogging about communication today. Most of my regular visitors are bloggers but the message I hope to convey goes far beyond blogging . . .

From The Inquisitr (that’s exactly how it’s spelled): The Changing Blogosphere and Blogging 2.0 “It’s easy to be sentimental about ‘the good old days’ of blogging, and I could wax lyrical about the community spirit that has seemingly been lost as blogging has grown up. Without being able to quote empirical evidence, take it as a given that the collective sense of community once shared by all bloggers in no longer.”

From RIZZN: I’m at the Edge of a Eureka Moment “Darren Rowse [of ProBlogger] says that the blogosphere just doesn’t get along with each other anymore. He obviously hasn’t read a political blog in a while. It’s mostly just for-profit tech bloggers that hate each other, and only a couple of them participate in that foolishness.”

From ProBlogger: Has Blogging Lost Its Relational Focus? “The blogosphere is a different place now in many ways. For starters there are a lot more blogs. There is almost a bigger focus upon blogging as a business tool and the idea of making money online in general.”

From ReadWriteWeb: Mixed Messages in The Blogging Landscape “While ultimately professional blogging is reliant on social media, if it becomes too reliant on the ‘social’ part then it implodes. We’ve seen a lot of the symptoms over the past year: burnt out bloggers, ‘bitchmemes’ (when lots of bloggers complain loudly about something usually inconsequential), hints of corruption as bloggers write about things they’ve invested in or have an interest in, stirring up controversy as a business tactic. We’ve even seen a kind of mafia mentality emerge – vendettas, ring-kissing, sychophants surrounding power bloggers, etc.”

That last writer brought out the materialistic side of blogging but further on they positively glowed about “personal” blogs.

Actually, I’ve seen personal blogs that have that “mafia mentality”.

It all boils down to communication and the heart and spirit of the communicator.

But, what does “communication” really mean?

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:to impart, to share, to make common

So whether you’re a CEO, a line worker, a blogger (professional or personal), a door-to-door salesperson, a mother, a friend, or a just-plain-folk, no matter who you are, if you open your mouth or put pen to paper or harness electrons with your computer, communication is ultimately doomed if you don’t come from a place of sharing, imparting, making common—contributing to your commun-ity

~~~~~~~~~

“Human nature is fundamentally spiritual. Communities are unlikely, therefore, to prove prosperous and sustainable unless they take into account the spiritual dimension of human reality and seek to foster a culture in which the moral, ethical, emotional and intellectual development of the individual are of primary concern. It is in such a milieu that the individual is likely to become a constructively engaged, service-oriented citizen, working for the material and spiritual well-being of the community, and that a common vision and a shared sense of purpose can be effectively developed.

“It follows that the material aspects of community development—environmental, economic and social policies; production, distribution, communication and transportation systems; and political, legal and scientific processes—must be driven by spiritual principles and priorities. Today, however, the substance and direction of community development are largely determined by material considerations.

“Our challenge, therefore, is to redesign and develop our communities around those universal principles—including love, honesty, moderation, humility, hospitality, justice and unity—which promote social cohesion, and without which no community, no matter how economically prosperous, intellectually endowed or technologically advanced, can long endure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1996 Jun 07, Sustainable Communities in an Integrating World

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Transcending the Murmur

Today we have a treat !

Isabella Mori, psychotherapist and owner of the blog, Change Therapy, relates her spiritual insight . . .

~~~~~~~~~

In the late 90’s, early 2000’s, I was working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s “poorest urban postal code”. I did outreach counselling and worked out of a number of places, one of them First United Church.

First United Church in Vancouver is a mission church – it focuses mostly on providing services to people who are extremely marginalized: morning soup for people who are homeless, foot care for people with disabilities, advocacy for single mothers, health care for survival sex trade workers, etc.

Now at First United Church they had this wonderful morning service. Right in the middle of people sleeping off their hangovers in the pews and drug users finding a moment’s quiet for their overwrought minds, each weekday morning at 8:45, a handful of people would congregate to sing, read a bible verse and reflect and pray together. It was the most beautiful thing – church, I believe, as intended by Jesus.

Almost right from the beginning of me working out of First United, every day I’d be there – usually Wednesday and Friday mornings – I’d make sure to participate in these services. I loved the songs and the little discussions around the readings, mostly from the bible, sometimes from some other religious material.

Towards the end of each service, we’d say the Lord’s Prayer, in different versions. I really enjoyed the Maori version. But when we said the “normal” version – I just didn’t want to say it. I had a real problem with it, particularly when it comes to “… and lead us not into temptation.” What do you mean, lead us not into temptation?? I imagined a God looking down at us thinking, hmmm, this Isabella down there, should I lead her into temptation today? That kind of God didn’t look at all palatable to me, and I wasn’t going to pray to him!

A few months into me participating in these services, the minister who usually led the service came up to me and said, “Listen, I’ve noticed you show up here every Wednesday. I’m going on vacation, it’s summer, most everyone else is on vacation, too – could you lead the service while I’m away?”

I was a bit flabbergasted but being the sport that I am I said, “Ah, sure, I guess.” But then I remembered: “Wait, I can’t do that! Haven’t you noticed how I never say the Lord’s Prayer?”

“No, I haven’t. I thought you liked the Maori Prayer.”

“I love it. But the other one, the usual version … “

“What about it?”

I explained to him my conundrum. (What a blessing, now that I think of it. I felt so comfortable with this guy that I had no problem telling him what I thought of this God who’s toying with me – “Should I lead her into temptation today? Shouldn’t I?”)

What he said next has made a huge difference in my life. Let me paraphrase:

“Isabella, there are many different ways of interpreting this. For example, you could see it as meaning, ‘as I am going down the path of temptation, please help me steer away from it, lead me somewhere else.’

You can do this with anything in the Bible. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to do that. Read the Bible in such a way that it gives you the most benefit. Let the Bible be something that God has written for YOU. Make it your own!”

It was one of those moments where something that I had known intellectually for a long time all of a sudden made sense to me on a very deep, transformative level. It was as if Pastor Bruce had showed me a door that I had passed by for decades. All I needed to do was open it and walk through.

It opened the door for me to go back to and discover Christian texts – the Bible in its many translations, the beautiful words of the 13th-century woman mystic Julian of Norwich, the more contemporary writings by Brother Roger of Taize, to name a few – as well as other spiritual texts that had heretofore not really touched me, most notably 12-step literature.

It changed my life.

Spirituality had always been an important part in my life but after this, I reached a level of commitment and passion that I had always longed for but could never completely feel in my bones. My lifelong interest in Buddhism deepened, I felt free to reclaim my strong Christian roots planted by my deeply religious Lutheran minister grandfather, I gained a deep appreciation of the wisdom of the 12 steps, and the Pagan stirrings that had been with me since the early 80s unfolded into a beautiful, nurturing and creative spiritual practice.

Why am I telling you all this? A while ago, I read some moving words here on Alexander’s blog. They moved me but … I had a bit of a funny reaction to the specific use of language. Thankfully, I had a little conversation with Alexander about that and showed him my own rewrite of the quote. In response he quoted a Baha’i text:

“Reveal then Thyself, O Lord, by Thy merciful utterance and the mystery of Thy divine being, that the holy ecstasy of prayer may fill our souls – a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds – that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of Thy splendor.”
Compilations, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 70

… and that reminded me of my experience with Pastor Bruce.

Yes.

Let’s rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds – that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of God’s splendor.

~~~~~~~~~

Isabella Mori is Canada’s blogging psychotherapist and talks about spirituality, psychology, creativity and social justice on her blog Change Therapy.

A Journalist from Darfur… {reprint}

This is Awatif Ahmed Isshag.

She’s been a journalist for the last ten years.

She lives in Darfur.

When events like the ongoing crisis in Darfur come to the attention of relatively secure people like me (resident of the USA, not starving, and not seeing death and destruction every day), we feel particularly helpless.

It’s going to take more than the combined efforts of all the aid organizations there are to help people in that country [not to mention the horrible happenings in other countries].

It’s going to take a massive change of heart–massive change for each individual who could help in any way and massive change for every government and political person who has any influence on secular happenings–a thorough spiritual transformation.

Can you hear it?

The world is crying, screaming for change…

The Dynamist Blog carried a short article about Awatif Ahmed Isshag. Here’s just a taste:

“Nearly a decade ago, at 14, Isshag started publishing a handwritten community newsletter about local events, arts and religion. Once a month she’d paste decorated pages to a large piece of wood and hang it from a tree outside her family’s home for passersby to read.

“Her grass-roots periodical has become the closest thing that El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, has to a hometown newspaper. More than 100 people a day stop to check out her latest installments, some walking several miles from nearby displacement camps….

“Isshag complained that despite international attention, the suffering of Darfur remained vastly underreported inside Sudan. There are no television stations in the area, and most newspapers operate under government control or are based hundreds of miles away in Khartoum.

“‘The local media don’t cover the issue of Darfur,’ she said. ‘We hear about it when one child dies in Iraq, but we hear nothing when 50 children die’ in Darfur.”

She is, in a way, blogging without a computer.

If you need some background on the bigger picture, the BBC News has Darfur: Little hope five years on and Wikipedia has Darfur Conflict.

A more complete story on Awatif Ahmed Isshag is archived at the Los Angeles Times. Here’s a telling detail from that article:

“An advocate for women’s education, Isshag credits her parents for allowing her to avoid being tied down by housework and pursue her interest in writing.

“But she occasionally uses her columns to lecture other women on pet peeves. A recent ‘For Women Only’ article lambasted those who took off their shoes on the bus. ‘It’s wrong,’ she said with a laugh.”

Peopleizing

SuperSweetLifeWisdom

Peopleized by: amzolt – Saturday, 26 April 2008



SuperSweetLife

I’ve found a delightful social networking site where people interview other people about their blogs and/or their lives!


Here’s my first interview, with the owner of SuperSweetLife.

amzolt: What makes you get up in the morning?

SuperSweetLife: My alarm clock. And knowing that the daily responsibilities that I dread will soon be no more!

amzolt: What makes you blog?

SuperSweetLife: Being able to express myself when words don’t always come so easy. Getting my thoughts and feelings on ‘paper’ and out into the world is liberating!

amzolt: What will your degree be and why?

SuperSweetLife: My degree will be in Counseling, with a credential to work in a school setting. I have always had a passion for working in a helping profession, but unfortunately I have recently learned that school settings are not the place for me. I will, however, continue to pursue human services work in the future.

amzolt: Who designed you blog’s graphics?

SuperSweetLife: David Zemens, of www.1955design.com

amzolt: What will bring about global unity?

SuperSweetLife: When people stop competing for power and money and realize that those things don’t matter at all in the end.

amzolt: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

SuperSweetLife: Vanilla fudge ripple AND mint chocolate chip

amzolt: What inspires you the most?

SuperSweetLife: Nature.

SuperSweetLife’s Page: www.supersweetlife.com Authors Page: amzolt
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