Our Evolution’s *Special Posts*

special-postsThis blog regularly published posts that focused on particular  events and crises in our world, attempting to provide important basic information and, of course, Spiritual Quotes  that can lead to valuable perspectives concerning solutions or resolutions.

Our Evolution  also has a number of *Special Posts*, with each addressing a particularly important general  aspect of what’s necessary to heal our ailing world…

Here’s some insight into what this special coverage actually deals with:

The Game of Life explores the connections among Life, Games, and Spirituality…

Path Toward Peace explores eleven critical steps humanity must take on its path toward an enduring global peace…

One Common Faith addresses the essential Oneness of all religions and the failure of most religious leaders to encourage practical, loving efforts to unite our human family…

Who Is Writing The Future? discusses the future of our Human Family and the Vision and Perseverance necessary to go forward into our collective maturity…

Spiritual Civilization will give you a firm grounding in the need for humanity to balance it’s drives toward material civilization and spiritual civilization…

Spiritual Quote

“What we witness at the present time, during ‘this gravest crisis in the history of civilization’, recalling such times in which ‘religions have perished and are born’, is the adolescent stage in the slow and painful evolution of humanity, preparatory to the attainment of the stage of manhood, the stage of maturity, the promise of which is embedded in the teachings, and enshrined in the prophecies, of Bahá’u’lláh. The tumult of this age of transition is characteristic of the impetuosity and irrational instincts of youth, its follies, its prodigality, its pride, its self-assurance, its rebelliousness, and contempt of discipline.

The Great Age to Come

“The ages of its infancy and childhood are past, never again to return, while the Great Age, the consummation of all ages, which must signalize the coming of age of the entire human race, is yet to come. The convulsions of this transitional and most turbulent period in the annals of humanity are the essential prerequisites, and herald the inevitable approach, of that Age of Ages, ‘the time of the end’, in which the folly and tumult of strife that has, since the dawn of history, blackened the annals of mankind, will have been finally transmuted into the wisdom and the tranquility of an undisturbed, a universal, and lasting peace, in which the discord and separation of the children of men will have given way to the worldwide reconciliation, and the complete unification of the divers elements that constitute human society.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbáníi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 117

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Is World Peace Actually Possible?

 warMy posts usually end with a spiritual quote. This time, the quote will dominate the post…

The words are from a man who spent 40 years as a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire. He was considered one of the most spiritual men of his time. He devoted his freedom, when once he gained it, to traveling Europe and America, carrying a Message charged with the power of the inevitable peace that humanity would win…

Inevitable?

“A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavor, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man’s utmost efforts.”

Many, if not most, of humanity seem to think that people have an innate, in-born tendency toward fighting. Peace, in part of the world, for part of the time, then a reversion to war…

“Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favored ones, the unrivaled endeavors of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable.”

This man’s spirituality was very great and he proved it in action. It was said of him, “…he treads the mystic way with practical feet”. He was also known for his extreme rationality as well as his unending positive vision.

“Endeavor, ceaseless endeavor, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable.”

Easy and practicable with ceaseless endeavor  and indomitable determination.

“Why should this most great and lofty Cause—the daystar of the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity—be regarded as impossible of achievement?”

Why should it be regarded as impossible? If a person lacks faith in humanity; if a person is buried in materialism and can’t lift their vision higher than what’s happening in front of them; if a person is filled with hate and intolerance; if a person is beaten by circumstances and hollowed-out by compromise; if attitudes like this hold sway in a person’s life, of course world peace would seem impossible…

“Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 66
~~~~~~~~~

He passed away on November 28, 1921, in what is now called Israel.

“In the land that we know as the Holy Land, in all its turbulent history of the last two thousand years, there had never been an event which could unite all its inhabitants of diverse faiths and origins and purposes, in a single expression of thought and feeling, as did the passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Jews and Christians and Muslims and Druzes, of all persuasions and denominations; Arabs and Turks and Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic groups were united in mourning His passing, in being aware of a great loss they had suffered.
H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—The Centre of the Covenant, p. 453

For a detailed analysis of why our age holds the hope that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá believed in, consult The Promise of World Peace

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Bugs In Our Moral Code

cheating

Cheating At Life

Many could care less about moral codes as long as they feel they’re getting ahead in life. Thing is, getting ahead means nothing if you then fall far behind.

The current economic crisis is a good example—many people cheating and others looking the other way—all to get ahead—an example of institutionalized cheating that blossoms into international crime.

It’s easy to find studies and articles about cheating, from ways to stop it to ways to regulate it to the whys of its happening.

What’s very hard is finding ways to implement possible solutions to the obvious fact of wide-spread cheating…

An important consideration in any exploration of cheating or moral action is to be clear about why we even have such codes or laws in society.

Consider:

The word cheat comes from roots that mean to “fall away” and moral comes from “character” and “good”.

There’s a strong emphasis in those words on the group or social unit. There’s also an interesting perspective from which to discuss the social value of unbridled independent action. But that’s a subject for a future post…

The following video is a fascinating exploration of cheating, morals, and economic crime by a behavioral economist. Quite informative and also entertaining:

Spiritual Quote:

“The endowments which distinguish the human race from all other forms of life are summed up in what is known as the human spirit; the mind is its essential quality. These endowments have enabled humanity to build civilizations and to prosper materially. But such accomplishments alone have never satisfied the human spirit, whose mysterious nature inclines it towards transcendence, a reaching towards an invisible realm, towards the ultimate reality, that unknowable essence of essences called God….No doubt some observers would disagree, observing that religion has sometimes retarded, instead of advanced, social progress. In our view, such cases represent a distortion of religion.

“We would strongly suggest that this and any discussion of social policy give recognition to the role of spiritual principle in the functioning of society and indeed of government. Neither in theory nor in practice, should we separate material and moral affairs in a dichotomous way. The moral capacities and strengths of a nation — and of the global community — may be regarded as its ultimate form of wealth. Deficiencies in this form or wealth too easily lead to material effects as, for example, an unfair distribution of resources or, in the case of war, the near or total destruction of the physical infrastructure.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1987 Sept 09, Social Progress

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part Six

writing_the_future-who_is_writing_the_future
This is the final post in this series, inspired by the document, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century. In the final section of that document, these words appear:

“Viewed through Bahá’u’lláh’s eyes, the history of tribes, peoples, and nations has effectively reached its conclusion. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the history of humankind, the history of a human race conscious of its own oneness. To this turning point in the course of civilization, his writings bring a redefinition of the nature and processes of civilization and a reordering of its priorities.”

If you’ve been following along in this series, you’ve probably realized that the answer to Who is writing the future?  is Bahá’u’lláh—with the strong hint that we can participate in the effort.

It may be hard to imagine that Bahá’u’lláh could, well over 100 years ago, speak to our times—provide sure counsel about how to reorder our priorities—give us a “map” of the road our human family needs to follow as it strides into its long awaited maturity.

The road we’ve traveled has been full of crises, danger, wonder, enlightenment, and spiritual growth. Still, it’s time we leave behind the adolescent greediness of jealously independent peoples and nations and embrace the Oneness that is obvious to not only truly religious people but also reasonable scientists.

Fine… Pretty words… Wonderfully exalted ideas, but…

How?

Certainly, the education of people (especially children) so they can see that it’s not totally impossible. And, certain globally enforced laws that curb insane imbalances in wealth and poverty. There are so many initiatives that are already underway and critically necessary to prepare the ground. Still… There appear to be solid chunks of impacted soil, dark with materialism, and even rock-solid layers of corporate and governmental agendas that need breaking up before the ground can be properly plowed so the seeds of twentieth century humanitarian action can take root; not to mention the liberal application of the fertilizer of Love…

In the words of the document:

“There is nothing in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings to encourage the illusion that the changes envisioned will come about easily. Far otherwise. As the events of the twentieth century have already demonstrated, patterns of habit and attitude which have taken root over thousands of years are not abandoned either spontaneously or in response simply to education or legislative action. Whether in the life of the individual or that of society, profound change occurs more often than not in response to intense suffering and to unendurable difficulties that can be overcome in no other way. Just so great a testing experience, Bahá’u’lláh warned, is needed to weld the earth’s diverse peoples into a single people.”

Can you remember a time in your life when you were overcome with intense suffering—suffering so strong you felt you might cave in and give up the game? That  is right where humanity is. Let’s hope and pray that We don’t give up the game…

Remember when the suffering was over and you found you had a new sense of internal strength? You may have also experienced the flow of renewed initiative leading to solid improvements in your life-situation. That  is where humanity is headed—the Light at the end of the tunnel of humbling suffering…

Hope hides in the clouds of suffering—illumination spawning the silver lining of the future.

I’ll close this series of posts with these words from Who Is Writing The Future?:

“However great the turmoil, the period into which humanity is moving will open to every individual, every institution, and every community on earth unprecedented opportunities to participate in the writing of the planet’s future. ‘Soon’, is Bahá’u’lláh’s confident promise, ‘will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead.'”

If you’d like a copy of the original document, you can download a Word .doc or Adobe .pdf file.

Spiritual Quote :

“Strive then, O My brother, to apprehend this matter, that the veils may be lifted from the face of thy heart and that thou mayest be reckoned among them whom God hath graced with such penetrating vision as to behold the most subtle realities of His dominion, to fathom the mysteries of His kingdom, to perceive the signs of His transcendent Essence in this mortal world, and to attain a station wherein one seeth no distinction amongst His creatures and findeth no flaw in the creation of the heavens and the earth.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 5

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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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Game of Life – The Rewards

game rewards
What are  the Rewards for Playing the Game of Life successfully?

In the preceding posts on the Rules and Play of the Game of Life, I explored how the rules of any game shape the playing of that game. Also, the play of a game determines the rewards possible. Seemingly simplistic, eh?

Actually the formula is Rules > Play > Reward , and changing any  of those three factors affects the others.

A fairly cool little game to play is to reverse the formula: Reward > Play > Rules . It runs something like this: “If I want reward X, I need to play Y, and that means Z is in effect…” A quick practical example: If I want ice cream, I need to pay some money, and that means I have to work. Simplistic, again, but I think you can see a few applications…

While I was researching ideas for this series of posts, I was playing the game Civilization IV. It’s an awesome simulation of the conditions and processes of civilization-building. It endeavors to model history, so, most of the normal play of the game involves politics, subjugation, and war.

I luckily discovered an option the designers provided called Always Peace.

Change the rules and you change the way you play the game and the rewards you can expect…

So, what rewards did I reap by playing Civilization in the mode that eliminated war and all its nasty offspring?

The first reward was realizing things I’d already learned intellectually in a hands-on, emotional way.

Next would be the awareness that building a prosperous civilization is very hard work even when war isn’t in the equation.

Then, the painful awareness of my citizens’ suffering from my mismanagement of the factors of growth.

And also the joy, even though it’s only  a game, when I’d managed things well and my people were fed and happy and productive.

There are many other rewards I gained but those four stand out like blazing stars in the dark of life’s struggles.

I need to mention another simulation game that has a multitude of practical applications—it was created as a training tool for nonviolent response to oppressive situations–A Force More Powerful.

So, here ends the tale of my playing life-imitating games. What about the Rewards gained from Playing the Real Game of Life?

Spiritual Quotes:

“The rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man. For example, he was dark and becomes luminous, he was ignorant and becomes wise, he was neglectful and becomes vigilant, he was asleep and becomes awakened, he was dead and becomes living, he was blind and becomes a seer, he was deaf and becomes a hearer, he was earthly and becomes heavenly, he was material and becomes spiritual. Through these rewards he gains spiritual birth, and becomes a new creature.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 323

“As the usefulness and powers of the life (of a child) were not seen in that dark and narrow world (of the womb), but when it is brought into this vast world, all the use of its growth and development becometh manifest and obvious in it, so likewise, reward and punishment, paradise and hell, and the requital of deeds and actions done by it in the present life become manifest and evident when it is transferred to the world to come—which is far from this world! Had the life and growth of the child in the womb been confined to that condition, then the existence of the child in the womb would have proved utterly abortive and unintelligible; as would the life of this world, were its deeds, actions and their results not to appear in the world to come.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 644

“The sacrifices involved, the courage, faith, and perseverance…[a pioneering spiritual life] demands, are no doubt very great. Their value, however, can never be properly assessed at the present time, and the limitless reward which they who demonstrate them will receive can never be adequately depicted…. Such a reward, it should be noted, is not to be regarded as purely an abstract blessing confined to the future life, but also as a tangible benefit which such courage, faith and perseverance can alone confer in this material world.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, The Advent of Divine Justice, pp. 67-68

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Game of Life – Playing It

game of life_playing
How do you play the Game of Life?

What Rules have you adopted?

What Rewards do you expect?

In the last post in this series I explored ideas about how the rules adopted for a game define the way it’s played and the rewards it can offer.

This post is about how we play  the Game of Life.

In preparation for writing this series of posts I resurrected a game I’d played about a year ago; a simulation game that lets you learn the basics of how to build a civilization. I highly recommend this game, as a fun pastime and as a tool to sharpen your awareness of what actually goes into the long and arduous process of civilization-building. Check it out: Civilization IV.

As far as the effect the rules of a game have on how it’s played, I’ll offer this experience:

A year ago, I played Civilization IV for a number of months. Since it models the actual circumstances of many cultures and nations, over most of recorded history, as they attempt to establish their conception of “civilization”, it’s real heavy on the implementation of war and all of its necessities.

I “gamely” persisted in being a peaceful participant in these attempts at building “civilization”. I became, in spite of the game’s superb design and its fidelity to historical circumstance, extremely frustrated. All my attempts to introduce peaceful principles were engulfed by the war-centered Rules of the game…

When I resurrected the game, to research the principles underlying these posts on the Game of Life, I fortuitously discovered an option called “Always Peace”.

Eureka!!!

Now, I could play the game and avoid the grit and grime and death and destruction of war.

Some of the people on the forum that supports the game were puzzled by my desire to play with all the options of war eliminated. Someone even declared that it must be real boring.

Nope, not boring at all. In fact, with war eliminated, I could actually concentrate on what builds  a real Civilization. I could pay attention to the people  in my cities—their  wants and needs—, I could make profitable decisions about how much industry we needed, how much culture we needed, how to balance material and spiritual aspirations (Yes!  This game includes spirituality and it has profound effects on the material success of civilization-building.)

And, to broaden the whole concept of playing the Game of Life, please realize that people don’t have to actively embrace war to have inclinations of behavior that can and have  led to war: selfishness, prejudice, intolerance, religious extremism, egregious nationalism, racism, and materialism, to name just a few.

So, let’s entertain those opening questions again:

How do you  play the Game of Life?

What Rules have you  adopted?

What Rewards do you  expect?

Spiritual Quotes:

“Their own instincts, no less than the fury of conservative forces, the opposition of vested interests, and the objections of a corrupt and pleasure-seeking generation, must be reckoned with, resolutely resisted, and completely overcome. As their defensive measures for the impending struggle are organized and extended, storms of abuse and ridicule, and campaigns of condemnation and misrepresentation, may be unloosed against them. Their Faith, they may soon find, has been assaulted, their motives misconstrued, their aims defamed, their aspirations derided, their institutions scorned, their influence belittled, their authority undermined, and their Cause, at times, deserted by a few who will either be incapable of appreciating the nature of their ideals, or unwilling to bear the brunt of the mounting criticisms which such a contest is sure to involve.”
Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá’ís of North America, 1932-1946, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 144

“The fate-laden world ordeal is moving in steady, pre-ordained crescendo. The blaze of a seemingly uncontrollable fire is leaping, ravaging the last remaining great Power on the European continent. Shadows of God’s retributive act are fast gathering. As the arena of world convulsing contest broadens; as wounds it inflicts deepen; as issues it raises aggravate and multiply, so will the operation of the spiritual forces, destined to cast the burden of a travailing age, be accelerated.”
Shoghí Effendí Rabbání, Messages to America, p. 48

Major Statement of how People’s Rights have been Subjugated with the prevailing Rules of the Game:

“By far the greatest tragedy resulting from this latest contest for world domination was the blight that it cast over the hopes with which formerly subject peoples had welcomed the opportunity they believed they had been given to build a new life of their own devising. The obstinate determination of some of the surviving colonial powers to suppress such hopes, though doomed to failure in the eyes of any objective observer, had left the urge for liberation in many countries with no recourse but to assume the character of revolutionary struggle. By 1960, such movements, which had already been a feature of the political landscape during the earlier decades of the century, were coming to represent the principal form of indigenous political activity in most subject nations.

“Since the driving force of colonialism itself was economic exploitation, it was perhaps inevitable that most movements of liberation assumed a broadly socialistic ideological cast. Within only a few short years, these circumstances had created a fertile ground for exploitation by the world’s superpowers. For the Soviet Union, the situation seemed to offer an opportunity to induce a shift in the existing alignment of nations by gaining a preponderating influence in what was by now beginning to be called the ‘Third World’. The response of the West—wherever development aid failed to retain the loyalties of recipient populations—was to resort to the encouragement and arming of a wide variety of authoritarian regimes.

“As outside forces manipulated new governments, attention was increasingly diverted from an objective consideration of developmental needs to ideological and political struggles that bore little or no relation to social or economic reality. The results were uniformly devastating. Economic bankruptcy, gross violations of human rights, the breakdown of civil administration and the rise of opportunistic elites who saw in the suffering of their countries only openings for self-enrichment—such was the heartbreaking fate that engulfed one after another of the new nations who, only short years before, had begun life with such great promise.”
Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 88

The next post looks at the Rewards of the Game of Life.

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