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Joy Gives Us Wings

May 16th, 2016

Joy Gives Us Wings

Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness.

But when sadness visits us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and our intelligence veiled.

The actualities of life seem to elude our grasp, the eyes of our spirits fail to discover the sacred mysteries, and we become even as dead beings.

There is no human being untouched by these two influences; but all the sorrow and the grief that exist come from the world of matter ~ the spiritual world bestows only the joy!

If we suffer it is the outcome of material things, and all the trials and troubles come from this world of illusion.

For instance, a merchant may lose his trade and depression ensues. A workman is dismissed and starvation stares him in the face. A farmer has a bad harvest, anxiety fills his mind. A man builds a house which is burnt to the ground and he is straightway homeless, ruined, and in despair.

All these examples are to show you that the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene.

Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.

If sorrow and adversity visit us, let us turn our faces to the Kingdom and heavenly consolation will be outpoured.

If we are sick and in distress let us implore God's healing, and He will answer our prayer.

When our thoughts are filled with the bitterness of this world, let us turn our eyes to the sweetness of God's compassion and He will send us heavenly calm!

If we are imprisoned in the material world, our spirit can soar into the Heavens and we shall be free indeed!

When our days are drawing to a close let us think of the eternal worlds, and we shall be full of joy!

You see all round you proofs of the inadequacy of material things ~ how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of the world.

Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual Kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness.
~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Source: Paris Talks, Pp. 109-11. © U.K. Bahá'í Publishing Trust. Full-size images with numerous excerpts from this larger excerpt are available on my Fine Arts America "Joy Gives Us Wings" photo gallery: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/bahaiwritings-asart.html?tab=artworkgalleries&artworkgalleryid=653005

Proof of Nobility

May 12th, 2016

Proof of Nobility

The necessity and the particularity of the assured and believing ones is to be firm in the Cause of God and withstand the hidden and evident tests.

Thanks be to God that you are distinguished and made eminent by this blessing.

Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one will be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility.

Thanks be to God that that dear servant of God is extremely patient under the disastrous circumstances, and in the place of complaining gives thanks. ~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Source: Bahá'í World Faith, p. 363. Excerpt © Bahá'í International Community.

Tahirih, The Pure One

May 11th, 2016

Tahirih, The Pure One

If you thought the emancipation movement began in America or Europe, hit the books again, because it didn't. It began in a religious context in what was then known as Persia, now Iran.

"Táhirih (Arabic: "The Pure One") or Qurratu'l-`Ayn (Arabic: "Comfort of the Eyes") are both titles of Fátimih Baraghání (1817-1852), an influential poet and theologian of the Bábí faith in Iran," Bahaikipedia notes.

"As a prominent Bábí she is highly regarded by Bahá’ís, and often mentioned in Bahá’í literature as an example of courage in the struggle for women's rights.

"Táhirih also holds a unique theological importance; as she is explained by The Báb (Arabic: "The Gate") to be the spiritual return of Fátimih, daughter of Prophet Muhammad, and one of the fourteen Shi‘i infallibles. Her date of birth is uncertain, as birth records were destroyed at her execution."

Born in Qazvín in 1817, the daughter of a powerful and influential cleric in Persia, Fátimih Baraghání was unlike other girls.

"Her father, Hájí Mullá Sálih Baraghání, ... educated her beyond the elementary level which was a novelty for women at the time," Bahaikipedia notes.

"Fátimih was even allowed to participate in the male discussions, albeit behind a curtain. She was well versed in the Qur’án as well as classic Persian literature and scripture. Her brother once remarked how she surpassed all her siblings in intelligence and knowledge. Her father’s pupil wondered how a woman so beautiful could be so knowledgeable."

Despite her father's efforts, she did not escape suffocating male chauvinism and was married at the tender and too young age of 13.

"Despite the fact couple had three children, the marriage was plagued with squabbles," Bahaikipedia states.

Táhirih's children, Ibráhim and Ismá’il, did not ever become Bábís or Bahá’ís. Her daughter passed away shortly after her mother's martyrdom.

Her first contact with the Bábí Faith came when she read some books on the new movement while in the home of a cousin.

"With help from Javád and her Shaykhí uncle Mullá ‘Alí she began a correspondence with Siyyid Kázim," Bahaikipedia states.

"Pleased with her piety and fervour he named her Qurrát’ul-‘Ayn 'Solace of the Eyes'. Her father, uncle and husband objected to this as they hated the movement.

"But, gifted with eloquence, she persuaded her family to allow to her go on pilgrimage to Karbilá and Najaf. However, what she really wanted was to see Siyyid Kázim. With her sister Mardíyyih Khánum, she made a journey to the holy cities. But to her dismay on arriving Siyyid Kázim had died ten days earlier. She made a strong bond with his widow who allowed her to see some unpublished works of Siyyid Kázim."

It was not long before Táhirih became a teacher of the world's newest faith at that time. It didn't take long for the male-only Shi'a clergy in Karbala to take a disapproving note of her efforts.

"There she started giving public statements teaching the new faith, and challenging and debating issues with the Shi'a clergy," Bahaikipedia states. "At this point the authorities in Baghdad argued with the governor that since Táhirih was Persian she should instead be arguing her case in Iran, and the authorities escorted Táhirih and a number of other Bábís out of Baghdad to the Persian border.

"... After The Báb's arrest in 1848, Bahá’u’lláh made arrangements for Táhirih to leave Tehran and attend a conference of Bábí leaders in Badasht. She is perhaps best remembered for appearing in public without her veil in the course of this conference signalling that the Islamic Sharia law was abrogated and superseded by Bábí law. One of the conservative male Bábís is recorded to have ripped his own throat open at seeing he unveiled. It was at the Badasht conference that she was given the title Táhirih by Bahá’u’lláh which means 'the Pure One'."

A woman announcing the end of Islamic Sharia law was shocking and it sealed her fate.

"After the Conference of Badasht, Táhirih was arrested by officials and imprisoned in Tihrán," Bahaikipedia states. " Despite the fact that Táhirih had made herself great allies and a wave of followers, she had made many enemies particularly the clergy. Whilst in the house of Mahmúd Khá, the Kalántar she still earned respect from women around Tehran who flocked to see her and even the kalántar himself.

In 1852, as members of the new faith were massacred throughout Persia, Táhirih was said to have been fearless when she was told of her fate.

"When the day came, she washed, prayed, dressed herself in a white gown and adorned herself with expensive perfume," Bahaikipedia notes. "...She was lead into a garden to be killed, but the men seemed to have been too scared to do so. Instead, they found a drunk who viciously strangled her with a scarf. Her body was thrown into a well and stones thrown on top of it. ... The Sháh of Persia, who offered to marry her, was said to have experienced genuine grief over her death. She was thirty-five, and the mother of three children."

"Thus ended the life of this great Bábí heroine," wrote Shoghi Effendi in the book titled "God Passes By", "the first woman suffrage martyr, who, at her death, turning to the one in whose custody she had been placed, had boldly declared: 'You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women.'

"Her career was as dazzling as it was brief, as tragic as it was eventful. Unlike her fellow-disciples, whose exploits remained, for the most part unknown, and unsung by their contemporaries in foreign lands, the fame of this immortal woman was noised abroad, and traveling with remarkable swiftness as far as the capitals of Western Europe, aroused the enthusiastic admiration and evoked the ardent praise of men and women of divers nationalities, callings and cultures.

"Little wonder that 'Abdu'l-Bahá should have joined her name to those of Sarah, of Asiyih, of the Virgin Mary and of Fatimih, who, in the course of successive Dispensations, have towered, by reason of their intrinsic merits and unique position, above the rank and file of their sex."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá also described her as "a brand afire with the love of God" and "a lamp aglow with the bounty of God."

O kings of the earth

May 5th, 2016

O kings of the earth

Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed. Observe the injunctions laid upon you in His Book, and take good heed not to overstep their limits. Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path. ~ Bahá'u'lláh

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 250, © National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. 1983 Edition. ISBN 0-87743-187-5. Coyote Valley in San Jose, Calif., just south of Almaden Valley.

Reflect O People

May 4th, 2016

Reflect O People

Say: Rejoice not in the things ye possess; tonight they are yours, tomorrow others will possess them. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Informed.

Say: Can ye claim that what ye own is lasting or secure? Nay! By Myself, the All-Merciful.

The days of your life flee away as a breath of wind, and all your pomp and glory shall be folded up as were the pomp and glory of those gone before you. Reflect, O people! What hath become of your bygone days, your lost centuries?

Happy the days that have been consecrated to the remembrance of God, and blessed the hours which have been spent in praise of Him Who is the All-Wise.

By My life! Neither the pomp of the mighty, nor the wealth of the rich, nor even the ascendancy of the ungodly will endure. All will perish, at a word from Him.

He, verily, is the All-Powerful, the All-Compelling, the Almighty. What advantage is there in the earthly things which men possess? That which shall profit them, they have utterly neglected.

Erelong, they will awake from their slumber, and find themselves unable to obtain that which hath escaped them in the days of their Lord, the Almighty, the All-Praised. Did they but know it, they would renounce their all, that their names may be mentioned before His throne. They, verily, are accounted among the dead.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 138. © National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. 1983 Edition. ISBN 0-87743-187-5.

Messengers Of God Are As One Soul

May 4th, 2016

Messengers Of God Are As One Soul

If thou be of the inmates of this city within the ocean of divine unity, thou wilt view all the Prophets and Messengers of God as one soul and one body, as one light and one spirit, in such wise that the first among them would be last and the last would be first. For they have all arisen to proclaim His Cause and have established the laws of divine wisdom. They are, one and all, the Manifestations of His Self, the Repositories of His might, the Treasuries of His Revelation, the Dawning-Places of His splendour and the Daysprings of His light. Through them are manifested the signs of sanctity in the realities of all things and the tokens of oneness in the essences of all beings. Through them are revealed the elements of glorification in the heavenly realities and the exponents of praise in the eternal essences. From them hath all creation proceeded and unto them shall return all that hath been mentioned. And since in their inmost Beings they are the same Luminaries and the self-same Mysteries, thou shouldst view their outward conditions in the same light, that thou mayest recognize them all as one Being, nay, find them united in their words, speech, and utterance.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javahiru'l-Asrar), p. 31. 2002 edition. © The Universal House of Justice. ISBN 0-85398-975-3. Photo of Machete Ridge at Pinnacles National Park (West) in the mountains east of the Salinas Valley in California, known as "America's Salad Bowl."

Flowers of One Garden

May 1st, 2016

Flowers of One Garden

Ye are all fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the flowers of one garden. ~ Baha'u'llah.

Source: Baha'i Reference Library (online). Baha'u'llah and the New Era by J. E. Esslemont. Copyrighted by U.S. Baha'i Publishing Trust. Used with permission. 1980 edition. Abstract composed of rose, dahlia, orchid and freesia photos.

Blessed Is The Spot Prayer

April 28th, 2016

Blessed Is The Spot Prayer

Blessed is the spot, and the house, and the place, and the city, and the heart, and the mountain, and the refuge, and the cave, and the valley, and the land, and the sea, and the island, and the meadow where mention of God hath been made, and His praise glorified.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

Bahá'í Prayers, A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, The Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 1991 Edition. © National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States.

When Winds Blow Severely

April 25th, 2016

When Winds Blow Severely

O ye who are attracted by the Fragrances of God!

Verily I read your letters which uttered your steadfastness in the Cause of God, your firmness in His Religion and your joy by the breezes wafted from the garden of the Kingdom of God.

The truth, I say unto you, “Verily, the Supreme Concourse utter praise upon you, because ye forsook the desires of self, were illumined by the light of guidance, clothed yourselves with the garment of sanctity and called in the Name of El-Abha among the people. Verily, ye shall reap what ye sow and obtain the fruits of what ye plant. This is a pre-ordained fact.”

O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightning flashes, the thunder roars, the boltdescends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favors are results of those storms and hurricanes.

The discerning man rejoiceth at the day of trials, his breast becometh dilated at the time of severe storms, his eyes become brightened when seeing the showers of rain and gusts of wind, whereby trees are uprooted; because he foreseeth the result and the end (of these trials), the leaves, blossoms and fruits (which follow this wintry storm); while the ignorant (short-sighted) person becometh troubled when he seeth a storm, is saddened when it raineth severely, is terrified by the thunder and trembleth at the surging of the waves which storm the shores.

As ye have heard of the former times, when (for example) Christ — glory be to Him! — appeared, a storm of trials arose, afflictions appeared, the winds of tests blew, the thunder of temptation descended and hosts of people (Pharisees) surrounded the houses of the friends; then the weak ones were shaken and were misled after once being guided; but the disciples withstood the hardships and endured the storms of ordeals, remaining firm in the Religion of God. Then observe that which occurred after the storm and what appeared subsequent to that severity, whereby the members (followers) trembled.

God hath changed the sorrow to joy, the destructive darkness of calamity into the shining light from the Supreme Concourse. The people at the beginning persecuted and reviled the believers in God and said of them: “These are the people of aberration.” Then, when their light appeared, their stars shone and their lamps illuminated, the people returned into love and affinity; they prayed to them, offered words of glory night and day (in their name) and remembered them in eulogy, reverence, honor and majesty.

Therefore, O ye beloved of God, be not grieved when people stand against you, persecute you, afflict and trouble you and say all manner of evil against you. The darkness will pass away and the light of the manifest signs will appear, the veil will be withdrawn and the Light of Reality will shine forth from the unseen [Kingdom] of El-Abha. This we inform you before it occurs, so that when the hosts of people arise against you for my love, be not disturbed or troubled; nay, rather, be firm as a mountain, for this persecution and reviling of the people upon you is a pre-ordained matter. Blessed is the soul who is firm in the path!

Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Pages 12-14. Author: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Source: Bahá’í Publishing Committee, 1909 edition. Excerpt © Bahá'í International Community.

Cleanse Thy Heart

April 25th, 2016

Cleanse Thy Heart

O thou who art mentioned in this outspread roll and who, amidst the gloomy darkness that now prevaileth, hast been illumined by the splendours of the sacred Mount in the Sinai of divine Revelation! Cleanse thy heart from every blasphemous whispering and evil allusion thou hast heard in the past, that thou mayest inhale the sweet savours of eternity from the Joseph of faithfulness, gain admittance into the celestial Egypt, and perceive the fragrances of enlightenment from this resplendent and luminous Tablet, a Tablet wherein the Pen hath inscribed the ancient mysteries of the names of His Lord, the Exalted, the Most High. Perchance thou mayest be recorded in the holy Tablets among them that are well assured.
~ Bahá'u'lláh

Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javáhiru’l-Asrár). Bahá’í World Centre, 2002 edition, p. 23. Excerpt © Bahá'í International Community. Used with permission.

Photo of hand-pollinated blue columbine © Bahá'í Writings As Art. Photographed in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

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