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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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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Path Toward Peace – Step Six

religious strife

Eliminating religious strife


Mary and Martha were having a discussion in the coffee shop. They’d just met fifteen minutes before and had been chatting about the debate between Obama and McCain. Mary said, “Well, seems we agree about who to vote for. What are you doing Sunday morning? I’d love to talk again—maybe while we walk the lower trail in the Metro Park.” Martha said, “Oh, I’ll be going to church Sunday morning. How about Friday around noon?” Mary said, “Oh, I can’t, that’s our time for community prayer in the mosque.”

They chatted for a bit more but the conversation withered away into banalities and, by the time they parted, both knew there would be no lasting friendship.

From the Jerusalem Post: “The reality of today’s Middle East is the same centuries-old one of ethnic and religious strife that extends far beyond the borders of the State of Israel.”

From the Egyptian Daily News: “Rashwan rather blamed Israel for creating ‘civil and religious strife between the different Arab countries.'”

From the Times of India: “Barely eight months after it was ravaged by attacks on Christians, Kandhamal is back in the headlines as a symbol of religious strife. For more than a week now, Kandhamal’s Christians have been brutalized, their homes pillaged and burnt, chased into the forests, left to languish in relief camps.”

It’s a shame about Mary and Martha. They were headed toward a beautiful friendship but, because they adhered to different Faith traditions, they sacrificed fresh happiness and sharing.

Well, at least they didn’t start butchering each other’s families and friends…

How long has humanity been killing in the name of religion?

How many mothers have lost children because of religious dogmatism?

How many children have been orphaned because of political decisions empowered by absurdly false religious doctrines?

It’s no wonder so many people will say, “Oh, I’m definitely a spiritual person. I’m just not religious.”

Is there some way to practice a religion (including, of course, a spiritual life) and not exclude other people, not see those in different religions as evil, not try to keep the All-Loving God in an armored box locked tightly in a room of the ego?

Spiritual Quotes:

“That the divers communions of the earth, and the manifold systems of religious belief, should never be allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men, is, in this Day, of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion. These principles and laws, these firmly-established and mighty systems, have proceeded from one Source, and are rays of one Light. That they differ one from another is to be attributed to the varying requirements of the ages in which they were promulgated.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13

“Religious strife, throughout history, has been the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts, a major blight to progress, and is increasingly abhorrent to the people of all faiths and no faith. Followers of all religions must be willing to face the basic questions which this strife raises, and to arrive at clear answers. How are the differences between them to be resolved, both in theory and in practice? The challenge facing the religious leaders of mankind is to contemplate, with hearts filled with the spirit of compassion and a desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their Almighty Creator, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.”
The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Oct, The Promise of World Peace, p. 3

“There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 217

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Gustav and the Titanic

Gustav appears to have lost some strength yet may still cause much suffering and damage. Is there an optimistic attitude available when disaster strikes?

From the BBC: Hurricane Gustav losing strength “In New Orleans, the city’s levees are holding surging floodwaters, although sea levels could still rise further.”

From the Wall Street Journal: Early Signs Show Gulf’s
Energy Facilities Held Up
“Turbulent weather prevented a damage assessment Monday, and industry officials cautioned that in previous hurricanes, initial optimism soured when operators began to test equipment.”

From Agence France-Presse: US keeps eye on two new storms after Gustav strike “The United States kept a close eye Monday on another hurricane and a new tropical storm that emerged in the Atlantic…”

So Gustav may not kill “too” many. Further storms may or may not kill. Other natural disasters will appear; possibly worse if the climatologists are right.

If you’ve been through disaster, you may have acquired great fear of them.

If you’ve lost a dear one to a disaster, you may remain completely unconsolable.

Is there any condition of heart or attitude of mind that can meet the terror of natural disaster, ride the waves of pain and suffering, yet remain serene?

Today’s Spiritual Quote:

23 April 1912

“Within the last few days a terrible event has happened in the world, an event saddening to every heart and grieving every spirit. I refer to the Titanic disaster, in which many of our fellow human beings were drowned, a number of beautiful souls passed beyond this earthly life. Although such an event is indeed regrettable, we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing happens without a reason. Therein is a mystery; but whatever the reason and mystery, it was a very sad occurrence, one which brought tears to many eyes and distress to many souls…when I consider this calamity in another aspect, I am consoled by the realization that the worlds of God are infinite; that though they were deprived of this existence, they have other opportunities in the life beyond…Foregoing the pleasures and comforts of the earthly, they now partake of a joy and happiness far more abiding and real…it is our duty to remember these departed souls in our prayers and supplications that they may draw nearer and nearer to the Source itself….These are the only considerations which can comfort and console those whom they have left behind.

“Furthermore, these events have deeper reasons….These events happen in order that man’s faith may be increased and strengthened…

“Let no one imagine that these words imply that man should not be thorough and careful in his undertakings. God has endowed man with intelligence so that he may safeguard and protect himself. Therefore, he must provide and surround himself with all that scientific skill can produce. He must be deliberate, thoughtful and thorough in his purposes, build the best ship and provide the most experienced captain; yet, withal, let him rely upon God and consider God as the one Keeper. If God protects, nothing can imperil man’s safety; and if it be not His will to safeguard, no amount of preparation and precaution will avail.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 48

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The Crisis of Faith

Things seem so gruesomely glum—so downright dour—so freakishly forbidding . . . Yet, there is Potent Hope. If you can accept it . . .

From the Washington Post: Credit Crisis Triggers Unprecedented U.S. Response
From China View: Former UN chief expresses concern over global food, fuel crisis in Ghana
From the New York Times: 1,500 Reported Killed in Georgia Battle
From the Boston Globe: Early retirement plans can be short-circuited by a crisis of one kind or another
From the Irish Times: Testimonies of atomic terror: lest we forget
From Nehanda Radio: Thousands face starvation as food crisis deepens in rural Zimbabwe

Pretty bad, eh? Probably gonna get worse…

I’m not being morose or sullen; not even pessimistic. I’m making a strong point.

What can extricate our Family from the multitude of crises assailing it?

Where is hope?

It sure isn’t in the things that have been tried for many years—the failed strategies, the materialistic grand-schemes, the corporate “solutions”, the political fantasies.

Something related to God, then?

“Oh, my, there he goes again. Poor Alex is flying in his nirvana of spirituality.”

Valid point. Just look at all the fine people, deeply spiritual, who’ve been slaughtered by the present system of managing human affairs.

Still, is dying for a cause proof that the cause isn’t valid? Is the apparent power of the politicians, corporations, and greedy-onslaughts-abounding any proof that a spiritual solution is not the best way to face such a sorry Mess?

Try this quote on for size:

“It behoveth everyone to traverse this brief span of life with sincerity and fairness. Should one fail to attain unto the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, let him at least conduct himself with reason and justice. Erelong these outward trappings, these visible treasures, these earthly vanities, these arrayed armies, these adorned vestures, these proud and overweening souls, all shall pass into the confines of the grave, as though into that box. In the eyes of those possessed of insight, all this conflict, contention and vainglory hath ever been, and will ever be, like unto the play and pastimes of children. Take heed, and be not of them that see and yet deny.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, 3.17

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Verse Six

This post is one in a series. All poems are from my free-to-download book, Is Your Soul In Here ? I’ll keep the series going as long as interest is shown through your comments. If there are enough comments, I’ll publish them in their own post !

~~~~~~~~~

Her

Blazing eyes dancing in a
Dew-fresh, dawn-sweet smile; and
Her
Swaying to
Pulsations
Deep and
True, so true…

And with all the other reasons to
Adore this soaring soul, there’s no
Reason left to leave her
Aura’s web.

Yet, the
Dying from her
Passion breeds a
Rhythm all its own and its
Beat is birthing
Magic in my
Soul…


WOMAN SNAKE DEATH = LIFE by Robin Easton

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6 May 2008

WOMAN SNAKE DEATH = LIFE Grass Snake

Posted by Robin Easton under: Hobnobbin’ with Robin .

Once a six foot Red Belly Black snake (on the Australian Dangerous-to-humans list) came right at me while I squatted to pee. He was fleeing from something else and ran smack into me. Already frightened and worked up, he reared up and lashed out three times in a false strike inches from my face.

It was my first encounter with a deadly snake and if I hadn’t just peed I would have. Amazingly I shocked myself by staying outwardly calm. If I panicked and jumped back he’d surely strike. I was already in a squatting position and couldn’t even tuck and roll fast enough to get away. Even if I could have moved snakes can strike faster than the human eye can follow, and at six feet long they have a lot length to whip out. But I knew that frenetic movement from me would be the worst thing to do, any movement would spell disaster. It would startle and rile the snake even more. If I remained still he might not strike. He might calm down. He had to know that I was no threat to him, that I was no more than a log. When I didn’t move, didn’t even breathe, instinct made him freeze immobile in hopes that I would no longer see him. Camouflage was his best defense against such a huge opponent. We were face to face, inches apart. Time stopped and down in the dark pit of my gut primal knowledge uncoiled from eons of dormancy and rose to consciousness. Like my ancient hunter gatherer ancestors I wanted to test myself. I thought, “Here it is, the single event you’ve feared might happen. He’s so close now, what do you have to lose but your life? And death is already here. So why not try and relax. See if you can communicate with him.”

Everything in me slowed way down and in that space I heard for the first time another specie’s thoughts. I understood that he would not slither away until I looked away. He feared I would follow him or strike out and crush him; he couldn’t afford to take his eyes off me. I had to trust him with my life. Slowly I rolled my eyes away from his space, slooooowly I turned my head inch by inch. In less than two seconds he whipped his body around faster than my eyes could follow and vanished into the bush.

That day many years ago I learned with my entire body that we ARE connected to all life. If we slow down and listen we can hear the thoughts of other species. I learned that every visitation meant something, told me something. Each being was a teacher. And if I listened to my teachers I would be blessed to experience the extreme intelligence of wildlife. To be in that heightened state where we hear another animal’s thoughts is one of my most treasured gifts from the wild. I am changed forever.

Although it can sometimes be hard to hear another’s thoughts. To hear the thoughts of the bush lark while the python swallows her alive, to hear the thoughts of the Ulysses butterfly when he is snapped up in the flycatcher’s beak, to hear the thoughts of the honey bee while the praying mantis eats him alive, to hear their desperate pleas, to hear them cling to sweet Life, to hear them beg me, life, anyone for help…to save them…and then for me to NOT intervene was sometimes hard. But I did not intervene because the honey bee is the life force of the praying mantis. The lark is the life force of the python. The ulysses butterfly is the life force of the fly catcher. Life flows into Life. Imagine a force so in love with itself that it continually devours itself to create more Life.

I would always fight fiercely to stay alive, as do most wild creatures. But with time in the forest I learned that death was not what I once thought. Close to the land, foot and hand dug into dirt, soul sunk into Mother Earth I am embraced by the thing I love most. Although always careful and aware, if I died on the land I would be with that which is most familiar to me. That which IS me. I am part of a massive self-sustaining organism eating itself alive out of sheer lust to create more Life.

From my heart,
Robin

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PS: I’ve decided that instead of a blog roll or even a links page, that each week I will try to honor a link or a few links. They will not be done in order of any importance. They are all simply done as blogs/people who I respect. I chose these five this week as I felt they related to this post. There are other nature blogs that relate and are equally as good. I will cover them next time, and then more after that. I am blessed to have many wonderful friends and hope to get to each one over the weeks and months. Please bear with me. You have all touched my life.

DEDICATED TO THESE NATURE BLOGS:

A FOCUS ON THE WILD Stacey Huston’s wildlife photos are remarkable and at times almost ethereal. They reflect her inseparable connection to Mother Earth’s vulnerable wild creatures. Stacey also works with falcon rehabilitation. She is a very sensitive and aware human being, just like her wild friends.

EARTH & ECONOMY I respect them for their work in creating environmental awareness. If you are wanting to help protect our planet this site has hundreds of resources for positive change. Earth & Economy is a tireless and astounding effort to protect the planet. You will be amazed at the information available. Please go to this site and make use of the invaluable information they have given us.

HIGH COUNTRY ARCHER This is some of the most beautiful nature writing I’ve read. High Country Archer has a voice that is raw and wild like the land. He is knowledgeable in survival and the ways of our wild brethren. His writing is so fresh that is still smells of the outdoors, of autumn rain, muddy tracks and the scent of passing elk.

ONE MAN’S TRAVEL LOG Graham’s blog is fascinating as it combines a deep and intense love of nature with travel. He is an excellent writer and the site is just bursting with vitality and warmth. It’s also honestly thought provoking in a v rey human and every day kind of way that I really like and relate to.

SANDPIPER’S PLACE Sandpiper’s photos are simply crystal clear and make me feel like I am standing in the woods right next to the wren, the woodchuck and the flowers. Every time I open this blog I catch my breath at the beauty. It is truly stunning. If you love nature you will oooh and aaaah over this site.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~