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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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part Two

writing_the_future_who
Part One of this series talked about two governments and their differing responses to the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh.

The Chamber of Deputies of the Brazilian government held a special session honoring Him and His Writings. The Iranian government has been trying to eliminate every trace of His existence…

I’m being guided in my writing of this series of posts by a document from the Bahá’í International Community: Who Is Writing the Future?.

If you’d like to have the document available while reading these posts, here are a Word .doc and Adobe .pdf file for download.

This post will focus on the ideas of part one of the document where the main thrust of Bahá’u’lláh’s Message is introduced. One of His principles, honored or despised depending on your world-view, is that humans and humanity are primarily spiritual in nature and the evolution of civilization is predominantly a spiritual, not  material, process.

So, what about the common view that we evolved from apes who, somehow, became smart enough to start using tools and ended up building malls and spaceships?

Even for someone like me, drawn to study the sciences deeply, the idea of a blind progression from apes to spaceships doesn’t cut it—can’t even begin to account for things like the sacrifice a mother will make for her child or the otherworldly strength of religious martyrs.

There is a Pattern and Progression in an individual life and the life of our human family that can evoke a search for Meaning that transcends what the materialists and skeptics would have you believe.

In fact, Bahá’u’lláh claims that the progressive pattern of infancy, youth, adolescence, and maturity that individuals live through is meaningfully similar to what our human family has been experiencing. He claims that the stages up to maturity have already been experienced by humanity and we are embarking on our long-envisioned maturity—the merging of humanity into a truly global and adult entity—a state of earthly being prophesied by all the major world religions.

Sure doesn’t seem like humanity is growing into adulthood, eh? What about all the wars, greed, and other nastiness? Well, in this view of humanity’s growth, we’re in the last stages of adolescence, facing our traumatic entrance into the realm of adult responsibilities. Remember when all you wanted to do was break the rules, set your own agenda, get what You  wanted and to hell with all those other people who didn’t really understand you? I know some of you may not have faced adulthood with urgent rebelliousness but many can identify with such a phase…

How much pain and suffering does it take for an adolescent to submit to the Truth and moderate their behavior—begin to see other people as more like oneself than different, reach a consciousness of unity with others? How long will it take humanity to learn these lessons and stride into its inevitable adulthood…?

Spiritual Quote :

“A new chapter in the life of the planet has been opened. Humanity has attained its maturity, and the race consciousness has awakened to the fact that it must put away the childish things which seemed necessary in the day of the ‘survival of the fittest’. This day ‘wherein the feet of the people deviate’ is to be followed by a glorious to-morrow; for—’This is a new cycle of human power’. All the horizons of the world are luminous and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes.

“The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between the nations and by the will of God the most great peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world and all men will live as brothers.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 12

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Who Is Writing The Future ? – Part One

writing_the_future
“0n May 28, 1992, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies met in special session to commemorate the centenary of the passing of Bahá’u’lláh…His message of unity had clearly struck a deep chord with the Brazilian legislators.”

That quote is from a document entitled, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century.

The twentieth century? It’s over and done with, right?

Well, if the hideous pressure on the global financial system, and the despicable lack of respect for human rights, and the impending, nay, imminent climate crisis, and various other dark and ominous conditions in our world are over and done with, then, I suppose the twentieth century will have absolutely no effect on our lives…

What’s that old quote—was it the Bible—something about the sins of the father…?

So, Who is Bahá’u’lláh and why did Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies single Him out for honor?

The document says, “During the course of the proceedings, speakers representing all parties in the Chamber paid tribute to a body of writings which one deputy described as ‘the most colossal religious work written by the pen of a single Man’, and to a conception of our planet’s future which, ‘transcending material frontiers’, in the words of another, ‘reached out to humanity as a whole, without petty differences of nationality, race, limits, or beliefs’.”

Strange that government officials in Brazil should so honor Bahá’u’lláh while the government in Iran ( Bahá’u’lláh’s land of birth ) was doing everything they could to stifle His ideas; in fact, had been working to rid their country of any trace of His ideas for nearly 130 years…

What are  these ideas that two governments’ officials could have such divergent opinions on?

Here are some of Bahá’u’lláh’s ideas from one of many web sites that dive deeply into His conceptions:

* Individual search for truth
* There is but one God
* Equality of men and women
* Universal, quality education for all
* Elimination of prejudice of all kinds
* Religion as the foundation of Love and Unity
* Harmony between science and religion
* There is a common foundation of all religions
* Equality and brotherhood among mankind
* The need for a universal, worldwide auxillary language
* Elimination of poverty
* Universal peace upheld by a world arbitrating body
* Protection of Cultural diversity
* Mankind must accept God’s Bounty

Over 500 elected officials of Brazil’s government set aside time to publicly honor the Prophet-Founder of a world religion, the Bahá’í Faith, when 89% of the population is either Roman Catholic or Protestant. What’s going on? And, why are Iran’s leaders so averse to Bahá’u’lláh’s religious ideas?

I hope to, with the help of the document, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century , answer those questions.

There will be five more posts in this series, covering the five sections of the document. If you’d like to download it and let it speak to you  during my attempts to covey its message, I’ve provided a Word .doc and Adobe .pdf file for download.

Spiritual Quote :

“The cause of God is like unto a college. The believers are like unto the students. The college is founded for the sake of the acquirements of science, arts and literature. If the sciences are not therein and the scholars are not educated the object of the college is not achieved. The students must show the results of their study in their deportment and deeds; otherwise they have wasted their lives….the cause of God must be a dynamic force transforming the lives of men and not a question of meetings, committees, futile discussions, unnecessary debates and political wire-pulling.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 7, No. 18, p. 178

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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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