Greed, Violence, and Truth

dead_child_gaza

I’m going to do something that some may find insensitive or in poor taste.

As the Gaza conflict may, or may not, be winding down and as the American presidency transitions office-holders, I want to bring to sharp clarity that there are numerous political entities involved in a many wars that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians—possibly more than any time in human history.

As I see it, we are headed for an international transition from totally sovereign nations who can decide to initiate war to a global form of governance in which nations willingly agree to leave each other alone so their citizens can live fruitful lives. Naturally, this will only come after the violence against civilians reaches a possibly much higher level—severe pain teaching the rule of love…

Also, it’s fairly obvious that the world financial crisis came from materialistic agendas which have proven their falsity and that the greed behind such agendas is a strong inducer of violence.

Following are two videos. One being crushingly sad, the other seeming to be light comedy. I see the sad one as an unyielding Teacher and the comedy as a wise Professor—hot tears and stinging laughter being natural human responses to global disaster.

I don’t want to offend, I want to uncover the Truth…

Spiritual Quote:

“[This]…issue concerns the nature of the catastrophic events associated with this period in history. The general messages of the Guardian to the world-wide Bahá’í community make clear reference in several places to a ‘retributive calamity’ which will purify the human race and knit its components into a unified whole. One of the most detailed passages from the writings of the Guardian is the following:

‘The violent derangement of the world’s equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth—these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God’s Messenger in this day—a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship…’ (Taken from “Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957″ by Shoghi Effendi, page 103)”
International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity

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What’s The Use of Sacrificing ?

sacrifice
Ever wanted to sacrifice yourself?

I can hear someone saying, Why in hell would anyone want to do that?

Our current world culture permits some to have the feeling they never have to give up anything while forcing millions into a state of perpetual sacrifice.

What’s the solution?

From Y Net News: Arab driver who ignited Akko riots ‘ready to sacrifice himself’

From Fair Investment Company: Scots sacrifice savings accounts to pay off debts, finds Lloyds TSB

From Daily News Central: Don’t Sacrifice Health to Stay Afloat in Tough Times

What’s really gained by never sacrificing?

What if mothers and fathers don’t sacrifice for their children?

What if politicians don’t sacrifice for their constituents?

What if the rich don’t sacrifice for the poor?

Time for a definition. “Sacrifice” has a root meaning derived from “sacred”—to make holy. It’s highest meaning is to give up something lesser for something greater.

Current culture seems to short-change most everything, even word meanings. Sacrifice has come to mean merely loss—giving up and not getting in return.

Naturally, if one is too egotistical, it’s very difficult to see what can be gained by sacrificing; but, one thing definitely acquired is growth.

The best example I can think of is the growth each of us has experienced in our journey through life on the Earth.

The first thing sacrificed is the womb. Next is mother’s milk. Then comes the loss of security in the shelter of home through introduction to the wider world. Each grade of school sees the sacrifice of limited understanding for an ever-growing fund of knowledge. Each love lost has the power to enlarge the heart. Every opportunity closed off opens new paths…

Even Life itself is lost with the rebirth of death—believed by some as new life in the ineffable Worlds of God.

Spiritual Quotes:

“Our greatest longing is that truth may be established in the world, and in this hope we draw near to one another in love and affection. Each and all are whole-hearted and selfless, willing to sacrifice all personal ambition to the grand ideal towards which they strive: Brotherly love and peace and union among men!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 100

“He bore hardships, he lived through misfortunes, he suffered afflictions. From the lips of the Manifestation he heard marvelous things. He was shown the lights of Paradise; he won his dearest wish. And at the end, when the Daystar of the world had set, he could endure no more, and flung himself into the sea. The waters of sacrifice closed over him; he was drowned, and he came, at last, to the Most High.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 35

“Know thou that when the Son of Man [Jesus] yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee. The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive, and resplendent Spirit.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 85

“Ponder that which befell Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, may the life of all else be a sacrifice unto Him. How severe the afflictions which the leaders of the Jewish people and of the idol-worshipers caused to rain upon Him, Who is the sovereign Lord of all, in consequence of His proclamation of the unity of God and of the truth of His Message! By the righteousness of My Cause! My Pen groaneth, and all created things weep with a great weeping, as a result of the woes He suffered at the hands of them that have broken the Covenant of God, violated His Testament, rejected His proofs, and disputed His signs. Thus recount We unto thee the tale of that which happened in days past, haply thou mayest comprehend.”
Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 57

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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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Path Toward Peace – Step One

volition

Inducing the Will to Act

High-minded ideals are powerless to change the world unless we act on them. Seems simple enough yet it’s apparent that a sufficient amount of action has yet to occur—wars, terror, oppression, hate are still the gruesome menu of “modern” culture.

Even taking no action toward a more peaceful world is taking action. We can’t avoid action if we want to stay alive.

From OneWorld.Net: Development Aid Declining Worldwide

From the Center for Global Development: Poverty afflicts more than half the world’s people

From the Utne Reader: In Praise of Economic Pain

But, what do we choose to act on? Here’s the place most people get it wrong if they really want peace. Too many folk feel that talking it up with friends and neighbors is helping. But, if that talking never leads to concrete action, it was a total waste. Too severe a judgement? What if the talking is to “raise people’s consciousness” about what needs to be done? Still, if it doesn’t lead to concrete action, it’s been a waste of time. Preparing ourselves to take action for peace, even if we see most of the world huddling under the tent of inaction, is the first step toward helping our world attain lasting peace.

Our actions can be extremely local—peace in our family, peace in the neighborhood, peace in the village, town, or city.

Our actions can be extremely global—serving on international committees of action or Non-Governmental Organizations, traveling to take the message of acting for peace to other lands, serving others in local environments far from our home.

Strongly motivated action comes from high ideals blended with intense emotion—what some would call spiritual motivation.

Bottom-line, no one acts for peace if their life is completely focused only on themselves…

The next post in this series will focus on one of the most insidious barriers to peace—Racism.

Spiritual Quote:
“What profit is there in agreeing that universal friendship is good, and talking of the solidarity of the human race as a grand ideal? Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless.

“The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort….

“If I love you, I need not continually speak of my love—you will know without any words. On the other hand if I love you not, that also will you know—and you would not believe me, were I to tell you in a thousand words, that I loved you.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 16

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Heads or Tails ?

soar above painIt’s always a choice, no matter how much pain is happening, whether you’ll attempt to rise above it or wallow in it.

From the Lewiston Sun Journal:The Sweet Sting of Relief

From empowher:You’re In Pain. You Want Relief. Naturally

From the Daily Record, Scotland:I climbed all 284 Munros [mountains] despite suffering from two debilitating conditions

I spent some time yesterday looking back at the first few posts of this blog. I began it in March, just two months before the end of a torturous eleven-month medical drug therapy to rid my liver of a deadly virus (Hepatitis C). The first posts were all about the pain of the treatments, about how debilitating and depressing they were but, also, expressing my determination to soar as far above the physical disorders as I could.

One of the greatest aids to flight above physical suffering was my music. I even offered some of my favorites in a post on March 28th:

My All-Time Favorite Song

My All-Time Favorite Singer

My All-Time Favorite Musical Group

The other great relief from my suffering was opening my mind and heart to spiritual sustenance.

If you’ve visited this blog before, you know I’m dedicated to raising the issues in current events to the level of Principle. Recently, I’ve been working toward my first comprehensive series of posts. The first in the series will be the very next post I write (more than likely posted on Tuesday). The subject will be Inducing the Will to Act. I’m taking the themes for the series from the fourth chapter of a book called, Peace: More Than An End To War.

To help with my thinking and feeling for the series (it will be a major spiritual and emotional effort) I used a really cool application called Wordle–transposing any text (including a blog) into a word-cloud. I used the text of the document, The Search for Values in an Age of Transition, which I’m studying for a future series of posts.

Here’s the word-cloud (click to enlarge):
spiritual word-cloud

Here’s the outline for the series of posts (with the post numbers):

1 Inducing the will to act.
Eliminating barriers to peace.
2 Racism.
3 Extremes of wealth & poverty.
Preventing economic disparity
Fostering altruism & philanthropy

4 Unbridled nationalism.
5 Religious strife.
6 Denial of the equality of women & men.
7 Ignorance & lack of education.
8 Multiplicity of languages.
Evoking Moral Attitudes Conducive to Enduring Peace
9 Material Achievements and Spiritual Perfections
10 Two Wings of Progress
11 The Power of a Moral Character

“Our greatest efforts must be directed towards detachment from the things of the world; we must strive to become more spiritual, more luminous, to follow the counsel of the Divine Teaching, to serve the cause of unity and true equality, to be merciful, to reflect the love of the Highest on all men, so that the light of the Spirit shall be apparent in all our deeds, to the end that all humanity shall be united, the stormy sea thereof calmed, and all rough waves disappear from off the surface of life’s ocean henceforth unruffled and peaceful.”
Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 87

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Who Is Writing The Future ?

starvation
It would seem that the Past and Present are just about too much to handle these days. So, who’s writing our Future? Will it just happen? Should it be left up to those who’ve wrecked our past and present?

From Agence France-Presse: HIV-AIDS orphans face life alone in Swaziland

From Unicef: Situation worsens for children as relief measures falter in Horn crisis

From Save The Children: Children living on highways to escape Bihar floods killed by traffic

The children that manage to live through these crises are the ones most likely to affect our future; they are, even now, “writing” the future–in their hearts . . .

And, it’s not just the children who suffer in extremely bleak ways in Africa, East Asia, India, or China that are doing this Writing. Children of the affluent are doing their heart-writing, too.

All these young and mostly tender souls are the Witnesses of our age. Those who live into adulthood are the ones who will, based on their past, decide what’s to be done in a world nearly completely devastated by near-term crises.

Children have always been the Future. Too bad I won’t live to see the remarkable achievements of the future adults who overcome our mistakes and build a new world on the skeleton of what we’ve left them.

Today’s Spiritual Quote comes from a document that evaluates the Twentieth Century:

“…the deliberate extermination of millions of helpless human beings, the invention and use of new weapons of destruction capable of annihilating whole populations, the rise of ideologies that suffocated the spiritual and intellectual life of entire nations, damage to the physical environment of the planet on a scale so massive that it may take centuries to heal, and the incalculably greater damage done to generations of children taught to believe that violence, indecency, and selfishness are triumphs of personal liberty. Such are only the more obvious of a catalogue of evils, unmatched in history, whose lessons our era will leave for the education of the chastened generations who will follow us.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future: Reflections on the Twentieth Century

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Beauty and Love

rose


I scanned the news for this post, as I do every day. There was nothing there but bodies, fame, and sex…

Not too surprising in our current culture.

What is Beauty?

Never an easy answer to that question . . .

There’s an intriguing and compelling poem on PoetSeers by Khalil Gibran called Beauty. He says {and I do hope you’ll read the whole poem}:

“…beauty is not a need but an ecstasy.

It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,

But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted.

It is not the image you would see nor the song you would hear,

But rather an image you see though you close your eyes and a song you hear though you shut your ears.”

What is Love?

To answer this would take all the seas turned to ink and all the land turned to parchment . . .

But, still, we can approach an elevated answer.

I’m going to quote from a Work called The Seven Valleys by Bahá’u’lláh, but I want to preface that with reference to a much older work that has some relation to The Seven Valleys.

In the 12th century, Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar wrote a work called, Conference of the Birds ( or, Bird Parliament ). Birds have been, from ages past, a symbol of Spirituality. In Attar’s work the birds must traverse seven valleys to attend the conference. Bahá’u’lláh made use of this ancient Persian theme when He wrote His Seven Valleys, but He extended and deepened the theme.

Some of His words on Love:

” Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth not the morn of guidance from the night of error. He fleeth both from unbelief and faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore Aṭṭár saith:

For the infidel, error—for the faithful, faith;
For Aṭṭár’s heart, an atom of Thy pain.

The steed of this Valley is pain; and if there be no pain this journey will never end. In this station the lover hath no thought save the Beloved, and seeketh no refuge save the Friend. At every moment he offereth a hundred lives in the path of the Loved One, at every step he throweth a thousand heads at the feet of the Beloved.”

“Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds.

Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things,
Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers.”

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