Shoghi Effendi talks about how the alignment of our inner reality and our outer reality is a significant challenge and also a very powerful thing to strive for. And I think in this day and age of digital media […] you see it even more: so how the forces of society promote this gap between our outer and our inner realities and try to sort of encourage that, yet we find in the Baha’i teachings that it’s so imperative to be, and to practice, and to strive to have alignment in those constellations. I guess in reflection it means sincerity, it means genuineness, it means love, it means all of these things and not fakeness or ego.
Everything about the Baha’i Faith is about learning and being curious and I guess […] I need to be much more curious and act like I don’t know a lot more than I thought I did, whether it’s about race or gender, or whether it’s what someone who immigrated to America feels. Because it’s easy to think that we’ve figured something out and it’s been hindering me in certain aspects of my life. I have to forget what I know and always lean on what is creating unity.
‘Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.’ And Baha’u’llah says this quote in reference to wisdom, and wisdom being knowing what to say, and when to say it, and who to say it to. Especially I think in the current climate of people feeling like their freedom of speech means that they’re entitled to say whatever to whoever, whenever, and I’m a particular person that if I’m not very thoughtful about my speech, sometimes the worst outcome could be that it hurts a person. So this is something I keep on my phone and try to reflect on: how can one embody wisdom in the way that they speak to people, in order to touch their hearts? Because you won’t really be able to accomplish that effectively if you aren’t really considering the circumstances, the choice of your words, and what is the condition of the person who you’re hoping to talk to.
What I realised is that generosity not only comes with the material part, it also comes with the spiritual part: when you’re generous with your time, when you’re generous with your love, when you’re generous with your support, and dedication and service. Generosity and service go hand-in-hand with each other.
We all need to be patient in embracing the nuances and complexities of humanity; that we are one through all of this difficult transition, and that we have no choice except to embrace our oneness. The new life that is stirring within us all is giving birth to a new world that we must all learn to recalibrate and harmonise with, because a global society is emerging one way or another, so it is up to us to ensure that it is an awakened world that values human life and all life on this planet.
I read a lot of stories of people who gave spiritual inspiration. One of them was Mulla Husayn. He was the first Letter of the Living but was the only one who doubted the Bab, which is very interesting to me. So despite his own shortcomings — he was a very intelligent and spiritually perceptive man — but that perception got in the way and he had to throw that away and submit to the Bab’s Revelation […] He was spiritually and physically transported by the power of this Revelation. And that story really inspired me and I feel connected to him. For the Baha’is in America, Louis Gregory is one. He’s one of the Dawn-Breakers here because we are called the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers in America. So really looking up to those examples helped give me the motivation and the drive to be of service.
I feel like we live in a time where there are so many distractions, and I feel like we can draw courage and strength from the Bab, by pushing forth through all of the distractions that are there in the world.
When I started working with junior youth […] they asked me everything. Because they were asking, I needed to find the answers because I didn’t want to say: ‘Oh, because God is good.’ Because I wasn’t sure myself, I tried to find the answers for them, and also find the answers for me as well. It was through that process that I decided the Baha’i Faith is really the religion I want for me.
It wasn’t until I moved to Toronto and I started to meet people who really serve the community that I took on more practical aspects of being a Baha’i – not only going to Feasts and [Holy Day] celebrations. Really serving our communities and giving to others deepened my connection with the Baha’i Faith.
There’s a lot of people who have a very negative feeling towards religion, and even the word God or prayer and spirituality might trigger all sorts of reactions, so I think it requires courage just to explore those ideas, and those concepts, and those themes with people around me.
The optimistic vision Baha’u’llah has for the future of humanity, that peace is inevitable, and a most great peace is on its way, removes any feelings of desolation or despair at the current challenges the world, country or individual is facing. This vision is not just a dream but has practical tools and spiritual principles, and it is in the process of being implemented in families and communities. That said, spiritual progress is not without crisis and victory, and perseverance and striving to pass spiritual tests draw me closer to the guidance in the divinely revealed ocean of Baha’i writings. I love that Baha’is are striving day by day that their actions may be beautiful prayers.
Life unfolded beyond my imagination. My perspective of the world of humanity shifted and this inspired me to be a teacher. It is a blessed responsibility to be an educator for young children, and to work towards the betterment of the world.
… the contents of the Baha’i Writings, the various institutions and initiatives that have emerged globally — all of this truly leads to the oneness of humanity. With my own eyes I have seen Baha’i communities on every continent, different but the same. And that’s beauty the likes of which we’ve never seen before and can hardly comprehend the importance of.
The teachings of the Baha’i Faith help me appreciate the fact that I do have a soul and that I need to take care of it.
I and my wife, Debby, will soon celebrate 50 years of life as members of the Baha’i Faith and, not coincidentally, also 50 years as a married couple. It is clear [to us] that these two anniversaries are tightly bound. Together, we have seen fire which might have destroyed us, but seemed, instead, to light our way. Together, we have found that this light has led to blessings and greater knowledge. […] We have suffered losses – of jobs, of wealth, of abilities, even of young children we had hoped to nurture and raise. The path of God has at times made us wanderers of sorts, and yet confirmed us as firm believers in a kind and loving Providence.
I think it’s harder to have this sense of gratitude and reliance, like faith, when things aren’t ok. So that’s something I’ve been trying to practice myself, to actually have gratitude when things aren’t going the way that you want it to. I think being thankful all the time is important.
The teachings of the Baha’i Faith have given me a sense of purpose that extends beyond myself; focusing on service to others, and to society. I found that in this service, I am the most content, because I’m able to forget myself, and this ends up being the greatest gift.
What’s the role of a spiritual community in addressing any societal ill, let alone in addressing racism? […] How are we orienting and then practicing what is being asked of us and not just leaving it to the one or two people whose voices are the loudest to speak about it and do it, but how does that become part of our everyday life and activities? How does that become woven into all of our activities […] How does that become a very easily accessible conversation for us to have, even if it is uncomfortable for us? How are we acclimating ourselves to a certain level of discomfort knowing that it’s kind of necessary?
I have constantly been learning how to serve others, and I have learned the most by facilitating [Ruhi Institute] study circles. Through tutoring study circles, one can learn different perspectives from the discussions that are evoked between participants. I gain long-lasting happiness from seeing the courage and joy everyone shows when accompanying each other to serve. This happiness belongs to a realm that I can’t reach through the pursuit of material pleasures.
I was searching for the truth of God and wanted to
find a deeper meaning for my existence. When I first read the Baha’i Writings on the arts I
was immediately affected and saw the purpose for my talents and saw how I could serve
others in this capacity.