Happy Memorial Day . . .

DeathI’m a veteran.

Today, May 25th, in the United States, people celebrate the brave, dead veterans…

I’m still alive.

The best gift I can give my readers on this misbegotten holiday is this story by Mark Twain:

The War Prayer

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts, and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country, and invoked the God of Battles beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpourings of fervid eloquence which moved every listener. It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came—next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams—visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender! Then home from the war, bronzed heroes, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag, or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation

God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest! Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was, that an ever-merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers, and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle and the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory—

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there waiting. With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,

“Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside—which the startled minister did—and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

“I come from the Throne—bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import—that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of—except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two—one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this—keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.
“You have heard your servant’s prayer—the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it—that part which the pastor—and also you in your hearts—fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. the whole  of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory—must  follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle—be Thou near them! With them—in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause. ) “Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

~~~~~~~~~

Spiritual Quote:

“And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter THE VALLEY OF KNOWLEDGE and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings. 

“He in this station is content with the decree of God, and seeth war as peace, and findeth in death the secrets of everlasting life. With inward and outward eyes he witnesseth the mysteries of resurrection in the realms of creation and the souls of men, and with a pure heart apprehendeth the divine wisdom in the endless Manifestations of God. In the ocean he findeth a drop, in a drop he beholdeth the secrets of the sea.

“Split the atom’s heart, and lo!
Within it thou wilt find a sun.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 11

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Rainn Wilson, Dwight Schrute, and Spirituality

the_office_and_spiritualityDwight Schrute?

From the hit show The Office?

Giving deep answers to big spiritual questions?

With Oprah?!?

Well… Recently, Rainn Wilson appeared on Oprah’s Soul Series Webcast {Scroll down to “Download Files” for the easiest access!}.

He was definitely not  the character he plays on The Office!

Not the man with a boundless ego who’s always looking for the best way to screw anybody—the man you love to hate…

Here was a thoughtful, intelligent man talking about his spiritual journey and introducing a new web site that targets youth and challenges them to think about and  take action on the Big Spiritual Questions—SoulPancake.

He talks about creative endeavors as Prayer  and the crying need for our Human Family to Unify —to realize that the answer to all the Big Questions  is an awareness of our common Humanity…

Oprah draws him out with her matchless style of down-to-earth yet deeply spiritual questions and gives him a chance to soar on the wings that only a Creative Soul can use to give each of us Hope!

I rate this one as a Must-Watch!!!

Spiritual Quote:

“The mystery of this phenomenon, the cause thereof is this, that mankind has been created from one single origin, has branched off from one family. Thus in reality all mankind represents one family. God has not created any difference. He has created all as one that thus this family might live in perfect happiness and well-being.

“Regarding reciprocity and cooperation: each member of the body politic should live in the utmost comfort and welfare because each individual member of humanity is a member of the body politic and if one member of the members be in distress or be afflicted with some disease all the other members must necessarily suffer. For example, a member of the human organism is the eye. If the eye should be affected that affliction would affect the whole nervous system. Hence, if a member of the body politic becomes afflicted, in reality, from the standpoint of sympathetic connection, all will share that affliction since this (one afflicted) is a member of the group of members, a part of the whole. Is it possible for one member or part to be in distress and the other members to be at ease? It is impossible! Hence God has desired that in the body politic of humanity each one shall enjoy perfect welfare and comfort.

“Although the body politic is one family yet because of lack of harmonious relations some members are comfortable and some in direst misery, some members are satisfied and some are hungry, some members are clothed in most costly garments and some families are in need of food and shelter. Why? Because this family lacks the necessary reciprocity and symmetry. This household is not well arranged. This household is not living under a perfect law. All the laws which are legislated do not ensure happiness. They do not provide comfort.

“Therefore a law must be given to this family by means of which all the members of this family will enjoy equal well-being and happiness.
Is it possible for one member of a family to be subjected to the utmost misery and to abject poverty and for the rest of the family to be comfortable? It is impossible unless those members of the family be senseless, atrophied, inhospitable, unkind. Then they would say, ‘Though these members do belong to our family—let them alone. Let us look after ourselves. Let them die. So long as I am comfortable, I am honored, I am happy—this my brother— let him die. If he be in misery let him remain in misery, so long as I am comfortable. If he is hungry let him remain so; I am satisfied. If he is without clothes, so long as I am clothed, let him remain as he is. If he is shelterless, homeless, so long as I have a home, let him remain in the wilderness’.

“Such utter indifference in the human family is due to lack of control, to lack of a working law, to lack of kindness in its midst. If kindness had been shown to the members of this family surely all the members thereof would have enjoyed comfort and happiness.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Foundations of World Unity

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Child Soldiers

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child-soldierImagine  a child deciding to join an army because it’s the only choice that will assure food every day…

Imagine  a male child being abducted to fight a war or a female child being abducted to be a sex slave for the male child-soldiers…

Now, Imagine  more than 300,000 such children…

This is an extremely sobering fact about our human family.

In 1959, 50 years ago, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations published a Declaration of the Rights of the Child and yet, today,  we can read in a report from the U. S. Department of State:

“Some children have been forced to commit atrocities against their families and communities. Child soldiers are often killed or wounded, with survivors often suffering multiple traumas and psychological scarring. Their personal development is often irreparably damaged. Returning child soldiers are often rejected by their home communities.”

Imagine  a country in which “…shooting video, owning a video, speaking in a video, sharing a video, or even shouting out in glee after watching television, can earn you years in jail.”

That country is Burma…

Imagine  a web site that uses video to not only bring international crimes to the public’s attention but is noted for having its videos become central to the arrest of a warlord in Africa that is alleged to have used child soldiers in his conflicts.

That site is The Hub, “The global platform for human rights media and action: See It – Film It – Change It.”

The warlord is Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and his trial is the first for the International Criminal Court, “… the first permanent, treaty based, international criminal court established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.”

Often, in my scanning the news for current issues and crises of our global human family, I’m totally devastated by what I find…

This is one of those occasions………

All I can add to this report is:

A Spiritual Quote:

“O Thou kind Lord! These lovely children are the handiwork of the fingers of Thy might and the wondrous signs of Thy greatness. O God! Protect these children, graciously assist them to be educated and enable them to render service to the world of humanity. O God! These children are pearls, cause them to be nurtured within the shell of Thy loving-kindness.

“Thou art the Bountiful, the All-Loving.”

– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 34

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Insanity !

bombThe man was strong, confident, and well-equipped.

The boy was weak, terrified, and destitute.

The man moved his finger and unleashed death.

The boy moved his eyes and saw his world erupt in flame.

The man flew his plane back to base and celebrated with his comrades.

The boy’s soul ascended to his True Home. He greeted his parents and sisters and began to pray for those left behind . . .

~~~~~~~~~

So much of our lives boil down to what we focus on—Light or Dark, Spirit or Body.

So much of our world is enmeshed in the materialistic claws of the gods of war.

So many of our human family are dispossessed and hopeless.

The Dark Ones are far from God through willful blindness.

The Ones carrying the Light are far from God only because their souls are still hovering near their bodies . . .

Please share your comments about this insane situation enveloping our human family!

Also, watch this video about some present-day Darkness and Light, Body and Spirit, Hell and Heaven . . .

Spiritual Quote :

“O God, my God! Thou seest how black darkness is enshrouding all regions, how all countries are burning with the flame of dissension, and the fire of war and carnage is blazing throughout the East and the West. Blood is flowing, corpses bestrew the ground, and severed heads are fallen on the dust of the battlefield.

“O Lord! Have pity on these ignorant ones, and look upon them with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. Extinguish this fire, so that these dense clouds which obscure the horizon may be scattered, the Sun of Reality shine forth with the rays of conciliation, this intense gloom be dispelled and the resplendent light of peace shed its radiance upon all countries.

“O Lord! Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them from the impenetrable darkness. Unite their hearts, and brighten their eyes with the light of peace and reconciliation. Deliver them from the depths of war and bloodshed, and free them from the darkness of error. Remove the veil from their eyes, and enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance. Treat them with Thy tender mercy and compassion, and deal not with them according to Thy justice and wrath which cause the limbs of the mighty to quake.

“O Lord! Wars have persisted. Distress and anxiety have waxed great, and every flourishing region is laid waste.

“O Lord! Hearts are heavy, and souls are in anguish. Have mercy on these poor souls, and do not leave them to the excesses of their own desires.

“O Lord! Make manifest in Thy lands humble and submissive souls, their faces illumined with the rays of guidance, severed from the world, extolling Thy Name, uttering Thy praise, and diffusing the fragrance of Thy holiness amongst mankind.

“O Lord! Strengthen their backs, gird up their loins, and enrapture their hearts with the most mighty signs of Thy love.

“O Lord! Verily, they are weak, and Thou art the Powerful and the Mighty; they are impotent, and Thou art the Helper and the Merciful.

“O Lord! The ocean of rebellion is surging, and these tempests will not be stilled save through Thy boundless grace which hath embraced all regions.

“O Lord! Verily, the people are in the abyss of passion, and naught can save them but Thine infinite bounties.

“O Lord! Dispel the darkness of these corrupt desires, and illumine the hearts with the lamp of Thy love through which all countries will erelong be enlightened. Confirm, moreover, Thy loved ones, those who, leaving their homelands, their families and their children, have, for the love of Thy Beauty, traveled to foreign countries to diffuse Thy fragrances and promulgate Thy Teachings. Be Thou their companion in their loneliness, their helper in a strange land, the remover of their sorrows, their comforter in calamity. Be Thou a refreshing draught for their thirst, a healing medicine for their ills and a balm for the burning ardor of their hearts.

“Verily, Thou art the Most Generous, the Lord of grace abounding, and, verily, Thou art the Compassionate and the Merciful.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 182

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Wrong Religion? Not A Citizen!

prayerStill working on the UN Posts…


The Bahá’ís of Egypt are being confronted with an impossible situation. There’s a group trying to organize a world-circling prayer-ring to, hopefully, aid them in their test of Faith:

From: Horaciones
“All Egyptian citizens must declare their religious belief in all official National documents which include their ID cards and birth certificates. The documents only allow them to choose one of three religions recognized by the Egyptian government: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Baha’is have the ridiculous choice of either renouncing their Faith by registering as a follower of another religion, or renouncing all their civil rights, such as education, work, health.

“By October 20th, the Egyptian Supreme Court was to decide whether to allow Baha’is to obtain ID cards and leaving the religious affiliation space blank. The Court decided to postpone the decision to November 3rd.

“To support the process, we are organizing another World Wide Prayer Chain for November 2nd, as we had done previously for October 20th. For the entire 24 hour duration of the day, people around the world will be praying in 15 minute intervals that, God-willing, the decision towards the recognition of the Baha’i Faith in Egypt will be taken.

“On the last occasion, over 100 people participated from every part of the globe, from Europe to the Americas, from Bahji to the Temple of Sydney, and even Iran! We are confident the same will happen again….”

Sign-up here!

Spiritual Quote:

“Reveal then Thyself, O Lord, by Thy merciful utterance and the mystery of Thy divine being, that the holy ecstasy of prayer may fill our souls – a prayer that shall rise above words and letters and transcend the murmur of syllables and sounds—that all things may be merged into nothingness before the revelation of Thy splendor.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 70

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Prayer . . .

A brief exploration of prayer from a few of the world’s religions and spiritual traditions:

“Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 73

“Then said I, Abraham prayed first for the Sodomites, and
Moses for the fathers that sinned in the wilderness…”

Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Esdras 2 (Ezra 4)

“The bird of God, who at the portal sits?
Behoves so long that Heaven first bear me round
Without its limits, as in life it bore;
Because I, to the end, repentant sighs
Delay’d; if prayer do not aid me first,
That riseth up from heart which lives in grace.
What other kind avails, not heard in Heaven?”

Divine Comedy of Dante (Henry Cary tr), Purgatory Canto  4

“Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.”

King James Bible, Acts 8:22

“It was the first time in my life that I had made such an attempt, for amidst all my anxieties I had never as yet made the attempt to pray vocally.”

LDS (Mormon), The Pearl of Great Price

“She can hardly conceive of a person in full spiritual health whose life is not one of prayer.”

St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel

“An offering, consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental (recitation of sacred texts) a thousand times.”

Hindu, Laws of Manu – 85

“O ye who believe! seek help with patience and with prayer, for God is with the patient.”

The Qur’an (Rodwell tr), Sura   2 – The Cow

“LORD, in trouble have they sought Thee, silently they poured out a prayer when Thy chastening was upon them. Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been at Thy presence, O LORD.”

Nev’im (Prophets), Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 26,16-17

“Now, being equipped with this lofty Morality, equipped with this noble Control of the Senses, and filled with this noble Attentiveness and Clear Consciousness, he chooses a secluded dwelling in the forest, at the foot of a tree, on a mountain, in a cleft, in a rock cave, on a burial ground, on a woody table-land, in the open air, or on a heap of straw. Having returned from his alms-round, after the meal, he sits himself down with legs crossed, body erect, with attentiveness fixed before him.”

The Eightfold Path, Buddha,  the Word

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~ Unleash The Life Within ~
~~~~~~~~~

Prayer . . .

Today, I was led to include excerpts on Prayer from various Holy Books and Spiritual Traditions.

Since your comments are the other half of this blog, this author prays you’ll consider these quotes and add your opinions, ideas, criticisms, or feelings.

~~~~~~~~~

“He to whom the sanctuary of true prayer is revealed
Deems it shameful to turn back to mere formal religion.”

Rumi, The Masnavi, Vol 1 (E.H. Whinfield tr)

“Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is needed.

“Sometimes if the nervous system is paralyzed through fear, a spiritual remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise,. can be cured through prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill, this can be cured by spiritual means.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 65

“A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he heareth….”

Qur’án 83:28.

“…pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…”

King James Bible, Matthew

“An offering, consisting of muttered prayers, is ten times more efficacious than a sacrifice performed according to the rules (of the Veda); a (prayer) which is inaudible (to others) surpasses it a hundred times, and the mental (recitation of sacred texts) a thousand times.”

Hindu, Laws of Manu

“Thou hast covered Thyself with a cloud, so that no prayer can pass through.”

Kesuvim (Writings), Eichah (Lamentations)

“For I know words of prayer are effective
with Ye, which tend to a good object.”

The Zend-Avesta, – Yasna