We Really Are One Big Family

RwandaOne of the comments to our last post, from a good friend of mine from Japan, said I was being “timely” in posting about Women, Rights, and Water; then, she left a link for a delightful video which is below.

The video made me review my understanding of the
Millennium Development Goals.

Don’t know what they are?

They’re a huge commitment by lots of people to resolve a host of Our Family’s problems…

Below is a list of the goals and each listing is a link. Check out the one that attracts you most… Then check out the rest so you can tell others about them!
 

MILLENNIUM 
DEVELOPMENT GOALS

 

Spiritual Quote:

“The modern national state came into existence as a unifier of diverse races and peoples. It has been a social truce observed by or enforced upon communities previously separate, independent and hostile. Historically the nation represented a great moral victory, a definite and important stage in human progress. It has raised the condition of the masses of people, substituted constitutional law for the arbitrary authority of the tribe, extended education and knowledge, mitigated the effect of sectarian disputes, and enlarged the social world of the average man. It provided conditions under which natural science could develop, inventions be put into operation, and industrialization give man mastery over nature.

“The new powers and resources made possible by the nation could not be confined within the national boundary but produced an internationalism of cause and effect in social relationships which no nation could control. The national state has reached the limits of its development as an independent, self-directed social body. A world science, a world economy and a world consciousness, riding the wave of a new and universal movement of spiritual evolution, lay the foundations of world order. Conceived of as an end in itself, the national state has come to be a denial of the oneness of mankind, the source of general disruption opposed to the true interests of its people. From the depths of man’s divine endowment stirs response to the affirmation of oneness which gives this age its central impetus and direction. Society is undergoing transformation, to effect a new order based on the wholeness of human relationships.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1947 Feb, A Baha’i Declaration of Human Obligations and Rights

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Our Human Family ~ Unity In Diversity

human_family1
First, a few news items about our Human Family:

From the Washington Times: Film casts a chill on family’s future “Already, 90 countries or localities have subpar fertility rates (i.e., below the 2.1 children per woman replacement level), according to the CIA’s World Factbook. Thirty-six have rates less than 1.5.”

From Business World: The free market and morality “…the economic inequality between the north and the south had become more and more an inner threat to the cohesion of the human family, ‘a danger that was no less real than that proceeding from the weapons arsenals with which the East and the West oppose one another’.”

From the Guardsman: Inauguration 2009: ‘Remaking America’ “We need to recognize that the human family isn’t about differences or trying to make everyone be the same, but about just trying again to be more positive. ”

From the Mindanao Examiner: Inter-generational by Fr Roy Cimagala “We cannot help but deepen our respective generational specializations of interest, in all their social and cultural varieties. I suppose this is how things go. We even have to foster the legitimate differences. But we need to learn how to form one organic whole, since in the end we all are one human family.”

If the photo that leads this post “offended” you or made you “uncomfortable” you have a long road to travel toward the realization that our Human Family truly is  an organic whole.

This single realization—the Oneness of Humanity—is the golden key to the resolution of all our global ills. Trace the causes of any of the increasingly menacing crises in our world and you will find one or another form of prejudice by one part of the human family against another part of that same family.

Who would willingly sit down at their family meal and forcibly restrain their children from eating the food, over time watching them starve to death?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would go out and earn a lucrative livelihood then come home and refuse to spend any of that money on certain members of their family?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would bring a dangerous means of producing energy into their home, placing it in an area where they never go but other members of the family must go?

This is happening in our global family…

Who would have children then make sure they receive no education?

This is happening in our global family…

I could go on with examples that seem horrific when considering a single family yet are not being sufficiently protested against or dealt with (even being hidden) by the most affluent members of our Human Family; but, I won’t go on to construct a laundry list of ills—I’ll instead utter a cry for a thorough washing of the Laundry…

Spiritual Quote:

“…when this human body-politic reaches a state of absolute unity, the effulgence of the eternal Sun will make its fullest light and heat manifest. Therefore we must not make distinctions between individual members of the human family. We must not consider any soul as barren or deprived. Our duty lies in educating souls so that the Sun of the bestowals of God shall become resplendent in them, and this is possible through the power of the oneness of humanity. The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 218

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Seven

peace

The End {?} of the Story…

Here’s the beginning…


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

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

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

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

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

Yet, God is said to be All-Powerful…

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

1844

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Statement, The Promise of World Peace

Spiritual Quote :

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

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

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

For an in-depth and rigorous discussion of the principles explored in this story, reference One Common Faith and Changeless Faith.

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Three

religious_battle

The Story Continues…
{ Part One }
{ Part Two }


The battle begins; more accurately, the battles that make up my war with religion.

I’d accepted the Faith I was “born into” without question up to the point my questioning faculty shifted from the everyday level to the meta-level. I certainly had enough of the usual questions a seeking soul asks as it begins the process of working through the body—the “why is the sky blue” variety. At around seven years old, I began to question the Faith I’d been expected to embrace, silently of course…

Our early ancestors also accepted the various forms of Faith they’d acquired during their struggles with the challenging environment of our mother planet. They apparently didn’t just fashion these early forms of Faith from sheer imagination but were guided by beings more-than-human. From the best available evidence, there were very special personages from the earliest times; called Avatars, Prophets, Messengers, or Manifestations of God—Souls with Supreme fidelity to God’s Will, human-appearing yet endowed with Powers most usually never suspected.

My personal war with religion began not because I disbelieved in God but because of the polar opposition of what I understood of God’s Way and the ways my parents and fellow members of our church expressed their Faith. I must add that my mother was and still is my best example of a human living their Faith. Yet, the fact that she deferred to my father (far too much in my opinion and horribly confusing to my young mind) and that my father, very prone to vent his frustration with those not agreeing with his entrenched attitudes (always at home, not in the church), the fact that he was the religious leader of a community of wayward, struggling humans led to my first religious battles—fought, with much blood and gore, within my young personality.

Our ancestors had similar problems. An Avatar would appear in their midst and convey a morsel of spiritual Truth. The leaders of the tribes and cities would take that pure sustenance and clothe it in very human trappings, weaving rituals around it till it became nothing but a husk, lifeless and devoid of any healing power. I’m sure there were individuals who had internal religious wars similar to mine many thousands of years ago. One thing that’s certain is the religious wars our ancestors, distant and recent, have fought with other tribes, cities, and nations within our human family.

I was known for my spirited discussions about religion, challenging anyone available to prove to me even a shred of evidence that religion was the correct way to worship God…

To be continued…

Spiritual Quote :

“The foundation of all the divine religions is one. All are based upon reality. Reality does not admit plurality, yet amongst mankind there have arisen differences concerning the Manifestations of God. Some have been Zoroastrians, some are Buddhists, some Jews, Christians, Muslims and so on. This has become a source of divergence, whereas the teachings of the holy Souls Who founded the divine religions are one in essence and reality. All these have served the world of humanity. All have summoned souls to peace and accord. All have proclaimed the virtues of humanity. All have guided souls to the attainment of perfections, but among the nations certain imitations of ancestral forms of worship have arisen. These imitations are not the foundation and essence of the divine religions. Inasmuch as they differ from the reality and the essential teachings of the Manifestations of God, dissensions have arisen, and prejudice has developed. Religious prejudice thus becomes the cause of warfare and battle.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 344

For an in-depth and rigorous discussion of the principles explored in this story, reference One Common Faith and Changeless Faith.

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Two

youth_praying
Our last post began a story about my life and religion. It also set up a comparison between an individual life and the development of our human family. If you’re visiting for the first time, scroll down to the last post to read the first part or jump to it with this link.

The Story, Continued…

When I’d reached my early youth, I had a better grip on the difference between God and my parents; but, that’s not saying I really understood either of them.

Our ancestors entered a similar phase of development when they’d worked out a knowledge of the cycles of nature’s manifestations—lightning, rain, flood, fire, cold, and other regular displays of earth’s powers.

I continued to attend the church where my parents were the ministers, knowing there was an independent Source of ultimate power but still cringing under the manifestations of power my earthly keepers displayed. Mom was a sympathetic soul, though still full of power and command, and dad was a tyrant. Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew each loved me—in ways I wouldn’t clearly realize for many years. The hard part was understanding why they seemed to not understand me

Our ancestors had similar challenges. Even though they could predict when rains or cold would approach, they weren’t clear, in a conscious way, of why these powers were manifesting. The way they coped was to personalize the powers as gods and develop meaningful rituals to appease those gods. Usually, there was a major god who ruled the lesser gods and elaborate rituals to cajole the favor of that supreme power.

I was still mostly behaving and being a good boy at this stage but I’d certainly developed a strong desire for personal time, not just the time spent with friends but time with myself, time to ponder…

Early humanity made a potent space available for a tribal member’s personal time. They ritualized it and created ways to harness the individual’s creativity for the greater good of the tribe—go on the Vision Quest and bring the insights back to us so we may grow with you…

I didn’t realize, even though my parents were ministers, that my personal pondering was my conscious mind talking to my soul. It would be many years before my growing ego consciousness would surrender to my soul and clear the way for a deep and pure religious experience.

The tribe lives for the tribe’s sake. The individual lives within the tribe. Individual urges are shaped to the tribe’s necessities or are eliminated…

To be continued…

As in previous posts in this series, I urge you to reference an important document and a web site that explores that document:

Document: One Common Faith

Exploratory Web Site: Changeless Faith

Spiritual Quote:

“We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic… There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part One

children_praying
In the last post I said, “I want to tell a story”.  I also said certain people wouldn’t like it…

I’m not sure right now how many posts it will take to tell the story. It starts in the dim past and soars into the unseeable future.

The story won’t have a lot of detail but it will have a lot of emotion. The beginning is my early time on our earth as well as the early time of our human family. It’s very easy to see the stages of an individual’s life mirroring the infancy, youth, adolescence, and maturity of humanity.

Before I launch into the beginnings, I want to give the links to a document and a site that explores the document—they’re the immediate stimulus to my needing to tell this story.

The document is One Common Faith—a deep and scholarly exploration of religion (that’s the reason some folks won’t like this story…).

The web site is Changeless Faith—dedicated to a multimedia learning process that dives into One Common Faith  and helps you connect with it in a personal way. {if you’re not the type of person who regularly reads deep scholarly documents, I’d recommend starting with the “Companion” part of the site rather than the “Document” part—you’ll get a simpler introduction to the concepts and appreciate the full document much more}

The Story

I was born in 1946 to two Christian ministers—mom and dad. I feel lucky to have had such an early introduction to serious religious life. I’ve felt conflicted about the deep problems I’ve had to struggle with to unravel the mystery of Who God really Is—mom and dad or the Ineffable, Unknowable Creator.

I think our earliest ancestors had a somewhat similar problem. The members of our human family who lived during our infancy had to struggle to co-exist with the powers they encountered and they developed various theories about a Power that ruled over those powers. Lightning or earthquakes are powers (so are mom and dad); why do they happen and what causes them? Later in the story, we’ll look at the scientific understanding of this issue but it won’t be easy to leave behind the ultimate Mystery about the Origin of our life and struggles in this earthly home…

I went to church four or five times a week. Our early ancestors worshiped in the constant cathedral of nature.

I trembled and uttered inner prayers that my soul wouldn’t be damned by my parents. Our earliest ancestors shouted and danced to appease the gods—inner and outer.

I asked my Sunday School teacher questions she couldn’t answer. They went to the medicine woman and were instructed to perform rites they weren’t expected to understand.

I mostly behaved but grew up to be quite impulsive and rebellious. They did what they had to do to survive and sometimes killed the members of other tribes.

To be continued…

Spiritual Quote :

“It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of [many] present-day churches.”
From letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá’í para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951

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What Good Is Religion ?

religious_strife
I live in the United States of America but I’m a World Citizen. I’m concerned about the moral collapse of my birth-country and I’m appalled at the insanities perpetrated world-wide that claim religious justification.

From Pravda: 1/10/08  Russian authorities blame Internet for inciting ethnic and religious strife

From the New York Times: 6/3/06  Religious Strife Is Pushing Iraq towards Civil War

From the Guardian, UK: 15/2/04  Children to study atheism at school

From OneCountry.Org: April 2002,  “In a letter to ‘the world’s religious leaders’, the Universal House of Justice warns of the danger posed by ‘the rising fires of religious prejudice’ and calls for decisive action against fanaticism and intolerance….the six-page letter had been delivered to at least 1,600 leaders in more than 40 countries.”

I used news clips from 08 back to 02 to indicate the inertia that impedes eradication of the most perverted behavior humans engage in—antagonism and strife based on religious dogma.

Killing someone because they’re invading your home territory is bad enough. Killing them because they profess a different religious doctrine is demented.

The letter to the world’s religious leaders from the Universal House of Justice is a model of sanity and rationality from the governing body of one of the world’s major religions.

They begin by stressing the “Babel of incoherent identities of cultural, ethnic or national origin” that plague our global family.

They go on to indict the fanatical aspects of some of the world’s religions:

“Tragically, organized religion, whose very reason for being entails service to the cause of brotherhood and peace, behaves all too frequently as one of the most formidable obstacles in the path; to cite a particular painful fact, it has long lent its credibility to fanaticism.”

Then comes a review of the disunifying factors in society that are undergoing profound change:

“At the level of global discourse, however, the concept of the equality of the sexes has, for all practical purposes, now assumed the force of universally accepted principle…no one can mistake the fact that the fetish of absolute national sovereignty is on its way to extinction…racial prejudice has become so universally condemned in principle that no body of people can any longer safely allow themselves to be identified with it.”

Then, a stunning concept of religious unity that most organized religions oppose:

“In contrast to the processes of unification that are transforming the rest of humanity’s social relationships, the suggestion that all of the world’s great religions are equally valid in nature and origin is stubbornly resisted by entrenched patterns of sectarian thought.”

More on the tragedy of non-religious religion:

“…the greater part of organized religion stands paralyzed at the threshold of the future, gripped in those very dogmas and claims of privileged access to truth that have been responsible for creating some of the most bitter conflicts dividing the earth’s inhabitants. The consequences, in terms of human well-being, have been ruinous.

Then, hope:

“Vast numbers of people continue to endure the effects of ingrained prejudices of ethnicity, gender, nation, caste and class….The point, rather, is that a threshold has been crossed from which there is no credible possibility of return. Fundamental principles have been identified, articulated, accorded broad publicity and are becoming progressively incarnated in institutions capable of imposing them on public behaviour. There is no doubt that, however protracted and painful the struggle, the outcome will be to revolutionize relationships among all peoples, at the grassroots level.”

And, the increasing awareness of global Oneness:

“Out of the welter of religious doctrines, rituals and legal codes inherited from vanished worlds, there is emerging a sense that spiritual life, like the oneness manifest in diverse nationalities, races and cultures, constitutes one unbounded reality equally accessible to everyone.”

And, whether you’re religious or not, this final statement should resonate with your moral consciousness:

“With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable. Such a danger civil government, unaided, cannot overcome. Nor should we delude ourselves that appeals for mutual tolerance can alone hope to extinguish animosities that claim to possess Divine sanction. The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation.”

Spiritual Quote:

“Inasmuch as human interpretations and blind imitations differ widely, religious strife and disagreement have arisen among mankind, the light of true religion has been extinguished and the unity of the world of humanity destroyed. The Prophets of God voiced the spirit of unity and agreement. They have been the Founders of divine reality. Therefore, if the nations of the world forsake imitations and investigate the reality underlying the revealed Word of God, they will agree and become reconciled. For reality is one and not multiple.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 141

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