Youth In Danger

Youth

This post isn’t directly about the moral dangers our youth face, but a perusal of this Google search will deepen your understanding about that…

~~~

But, look at this couple: so youthfully together, so fresh with Life and promise! They could be dead in tragic moments from engaging in an activity that far too many do with no thought of danger—exuberance overcoming vigilance…

While I was Twittering, I followed a link to a very well-produced yet grippingly graphic public service video from Wales. Though texting while driving isn’t normally considered a moral issue, it’s consequences could lead to issues of high moral concern…

Show it to all the youth you know…

Spiritual Quote:

“…the dangers facing the modern youth are becoming increasingly grave, and call for immediate solution. But, as experience clearly shows, the remedy to this truly sad and perplexing situation is not to be found in traditional and ecclesiastical religion. The dogmatism of the church has been discarded once for all. What can control youth and save it from the pitfalls of the crass materialism of the age is the power of a genuine, constructive and living Faith such as the one revealed to the world by Bahá’u’lláh. Religion, as in the past, is still the world’s sole hope, but not that form of religion which our ecclesiastical leaders strive vainly to preach. Divorced from true religion, morals lose their effectiveness and cease to guide and control man’s individual and social life. But when true religion is combined with true ethics, then moral progress becomes a possibility and not a mere ideal.

“The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.”
From a letter Written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, April 17, 1926, Lights of Guidance, p. 630

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Morality’s Downfall . . .

moralityI’m a Bahá’í…

I’ve been a Bahá’í for a little over 20 years…

I’m a more moral person now but it took a tremendous effort to will myself to become subservient to the principles of my Faith…

That word, subservient, may sound like I’ve given up my freewill. Yet, what I’ve worked hard to do (and still am definitely not perfect at) is to use my freewill to adhere to principles of morality that aren’t just in my Faith but all Faiths.

For example, would choosing to have your ego become subservient to honesty be a weakness?

Enough about me. It’s what’s happening to my fellow believers in Iran that has me troubled. Actually, because of the ominous portent and the fact that the crimes committed by Iranian government officials are just the rudely boldest of more insidious moral crimes committed by most of the world’s leaders, this one-year anniversary of the incarceration of Iran’s Bahá’í Leadership, with no access to legal counsel, should concern anyone who strives to be more good than bad…

The “informal” charges laid against these Bahá’ís in Iran were: espionage for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. Now, after one year in prison another “informal” charge has been leveled: spreading corruption on earth. This, by the way, was the charge against the Bahá’ís in Iran who were summariy executed back in the 80’s—murdered for their beliefs—for working hard to be moral…

This video, from Iranian.com, is about the burning of Bahá’í homes in Egypt but it’s happening in Iran, too. And, the perpetrators are ordinary citizens incited by their government:

Here’s another video from Iran Press Watch  that compares the attitude of the Iranian government to that of Nazi Germany:

Spiritual Quote:

“At the heart of the global crisis currently afflicting humanity, there exists a pervasive lack of moral leadership in all sectors of human society. The lack of moral leadership is demonstrated in the continuous uncovering of unethical behavior at all levels of society in all parts of the world. No sphere of human endeavor, from the family to the highest corridors of power, remains unaffected. Often, moral leadership is hard to identify because society presents too many conflicting messages about what is meant by leadership…it would be helpful to identify a few fundamental capabilities that characterize effective moral leadership and to set in motion a systematic learning process that will foster the development of these capabilities within the institutions that serve human society….

“Autocratic, paternalistic, manipulative and ‘know-it-all’ modes of leadership, which are found in all parts of the world, tend to disempower those whom they are supposed to serve. They exercise control by over-centralizing the decision making-making process, thereby coercing others into agreement. If humanity is to move out of its collective adolescence and enter its age of collective maturity, if it is to reap long term benefits from the Earth Summit process, we have to ask ourselves some pertinent questions. First, are the currently-prevalent models of leadership capable of producing leaders who are able to address, with integrity and justice, the essential global issues facing humanity? Second, are the institutions which are brought into being by the currently-prevalent models of leadership, capable of creating a sustainable world civilization? Third, are we ourselves, ready to abandon our outmoded practices and old loyalties and explore a new model of moral leadership? Fourth, what would such a new form of leadership look like?

“The leadership model which is being proposed, is unequivocally centered on service to others. Therefore, one of the prerequisites for moral leadership is the spirit of service – service to one’s family, community, and nation. This spirit of service does not in any way negate individual drive or initiative, nor does it stifle individual creativity. Rather, it calls for a model of leadership which will release the potential of the individual while safeguarding the well-being of the whole. Those who emerge as leaders would likely combine a spirit of service with a drive for excellence. The institutions which would emerge from a service-centered leadership would promote the well-being of the whole community while safeguarding the rights, freedoms and initiatives of each individual. These institutions would preserve human honor which would lead to a civilization which deeply cares for the beauty of nature and all beings on the planet.”
Bahá’í International Community, United Nations Office, Moral Leadership, June 1992

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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 Five

writing_the_future-who_is_writing_the
The Writings of Bahá’u’lláh that have been discussed in parts One through Four of this series are challenging to say the least—challenging to current theories about how to solve our human family’s crises—challenging, as the document this series is based on says, to social schemes that deny “a moral intelligence inherent in existence”—challenging to anyone who thinks human nature isn’t truly spiritual at its roots…

Some of the sadly mistaken ideas that plagued the twentieth century and need eradication to enable humanity to move towards its impending maturity are: unbounded individualism, dis-unifying political and economic structures, and a mindset that sees conflict as somehow “natural” for humans.

Yet, one of the most important principles that needs vast encouragement and global implementation is Justice. Justice alone can ensure that individuals receive their due from institutions and governments. And, deeply important, is the growth of a sense of personal justice (replacing individualistic complaining) that lets people see with their own eyes, hear with their own ears, feel with their own hearts, and think with their own minds—knowing that imitation in any of these areas is deadly…

Another crying need is the continuing entry of individuals into the arena of Service—going beyond self—enlarging the boundaries of self to include more and more members of our very human family.

These ideas and many more are the legacy left to humanity by Bahá’u’lláh. He put forward ideas that, in the context of the 1800s, were unthinkable. In the last century and a half, His conceptions and counsels have been adopted by progressive individuals, most of whom have never heard of Bahá’u’lláh.

I urge you to read the original document that’s inspired me to write this series of posts, Who Is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century. Also, you can download a Word .doc or Adobe .pdf file.

Next post will wrap up the series…

Spiritual Quote :

“The central purpose of the divine religions is the establishment of peace and unity among mankind. Their reality is one; therefore, their accomplishment is one and universal—whether it be through the essential or material ordinances of God. There is but one light of the material sun, one ocean, one rain, one atmosphere. Similarly, in the spiritual world there is one divine reality forming the center and altruistic basis for peace and reconciliation among various and conflicting nations and peoples.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 98

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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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One Common Faith ~ The Polls

poll
You can take these polls without reading the series, One Common Faith ~ The Story, but if you’d rather read it first, here’s the beginning…

You can select multiple answers


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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Four

religious_fighting

The
Story
Continues…

Link to the beginning.


More on my spiritual war with religion.

In the last installment, I’d said, “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…”

Even though I’d had a huge turn-off toward religion, I continued to search for one I could call my own, devote myself to, claim as my Truth.

I should inject a bit of clarity concerning morality, spirituality, and religion.

Having a “moral code” may keep you from reprehensible actions but it won’t necessarily help you transform your consciousness or achieve the heights of spiritual awareness.

Being “spiritual” may bring some measure of heightened consciousness and may or may not have an influence on moral behavior.

Being “religious” can improve the morals, heighten spirituality, and  induce an attitude that aids an individual in working cooperatively to build better forms of social existence.

Our ancestors had a chance to try all three modes of behavior and understanding, over and over again. They, with the help of the Avatars and Prophets down through the ages, built moral codes, devised activities to heighten spirituality, and formed religious societies. Something they also did, that worked against all three forms of social betterment, was to weave highly materialistic and basely human rituals and institutions around the pure forms bequeathed to them by the Prophets. This is what led to the divisiveness of religion against religion—the fighting against the outer forms of worship and dogmatic theologies while ignoring the eternal spiritual truths.

I did the very same thing in my individual development. I’d receive a small bit of the Truth, immediately appropriate it to my personal whims and fancies, project it on anyone willing to listen, and defend it till I’d lose the other person’s respect…

I came from an American-Christian background. I’ve always honored and respected Jesus. I also explored other religions and found cause to honor and respect their Prophet-Founders. The predominant American religious game is to deal out a deck stacked against any religion but the one crafted by either very mortal popes or very mortal ministers. I’d grown up with two very mortal ministers (mom and dad), had them shape my early understandings of religion. How in the world to reconcile my religious birthright of the exclusivity of Jesus with the apparently equal exclusivity of the other Prophet-Founders?

The answer was found after an excruciatingly painful descent into my Dark Night of the Soul.

To be continued…

Spiritual Quote :

“What ‘oppression’ is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it? For opinions have sorely differed, and the ways unto the attainment of God have multiplied. This ‘oppression’ is the essential feature of every Revelation. Unless it cometh to pass, the Sun of Truth will not be made manifest. For the break of the morn of divine guidance must needs follow the darkness of the night of error.”
Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 31

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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