What a ONEderful World

Monday, December 31, 2012

A world in crisis...a world in pain.
A world in flux...focused on gain.
Lost in greed...drowning in sorrow.
Jaded...no thought for tomorrow.

But then I think to myself...

A world of love...a world of hope.
A world determined...a world of growth.

Reaching out...striving to see.
Searching for peace...and finding unity.

And I think to myself, what a ONEderful world.
~ Justin Johnson

So as we end one year and take a look back and begin a new year and take a look forward, what do YOU see?

Honestly, I almost made this post extremely syrupy and sappy and I even found a video of children singing the original "What A Wonderful World" which was beautiful and touching, but then I thought it just felt like more of the same. As does this past year. More of the same. What are we going to do NEW this year that will really make a difference? What are we going to CHANGE about the way we approach our lives and each other?

Every time there have been HUGE changes in the world in the past it has been due to religion. Sometimes bad changes, but more often very positive ones that changed society for the better. Fr. Albert Luna makes some recommendations in the following video which I completely endorse and agree with wholeheartedly.

To me, we are at a crossroads and have been for some time. This world is ONE world. All the people in it are ONE people. And they all worship ONE God in different ways. Why does that have to be so offensive? We are ONE and we are all created by the same God. We have got to start recognizing that, digesting it and reevaluating how we approach life on this planet and our relationships with each other. We are all one. We KNOW this...it's been said for decades, if not centuries. But it has become more clear now than ever before. We have GOT to stop giving lip service to the concept and start ACTING on it.

As a race of people, we have got to start ADJUSTING to this new world we have found ourselves in. The time is gone where we can turn a blind eye to the misfortunes of others and say "Oh well, that's not my problem". That obviously does not fly in this new global economy and it never will.

Every person we come across has the DIVINE within them. And that is where I am going to start. My New Years Resolution is to really SEE THAT in every single person I can come across and then treat them accordingly.

So who's with me? What's YOUR New Years Resolution that will help change the world?

"You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind. Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God. Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities. Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction. Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another. Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly. Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone. If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer. Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart. Assist the world of humanity as much as possible. Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear." ~ Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 452

"There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." ~ King James Bible, Ephesians 4:4-6

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." ~ King James Bible, Ephesians 4:31 - 5:2

"Unity of heart, and unity of mind, freedom from hatred, do I procure for you. Do ye take delight in one another, as a cow in her (new-) born calf!
The son shall be devoted to his father, be of the same mind with his mother; the wife shall speak honied, sweet, words to her husband!
The brother shall not hate the brother, and the sister not the sister! Harmonious, devoted to the same purpose, speak ye words in kindly spirit!" ~ Vedas, Atharva Veda

"Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him: and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious" The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 4

"The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Daystar of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The One true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words." ~ Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14

Your plan VS. His Plan

Monday, December 24, 2012

“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” ~ Dalai Lama

Many times in life I find that I am not necessarily happy with the way things are going or have gone. I have regrets, misgivings, fears for the future, anger, resentment and doubt. Why didn't things go as I had hoped? Why didn't I get the exciting new job in New Zealand or the project assignment I wanted at work? What's wrong with me? Am I not good enough, smart enough? Worthy enough?

Woe is me, right? Right.....

No, not right. Not right at all. I believe in making plans. I believe in striving for success. I believe in making efforts. I believe in putting myself out there and following my bliss. But I do not believe that my trifling little plans are necessarily what is best for me. In the heat of the moment I may be disappointed or get caught up in the "woulda, coulda, shoulda"s, but do I really know what is best? Just because I want my life to head in a certain direction does not mean that is the way my life is going to go, or that it should go.

I believe there is a Higher Power with infinitely greater wisdom than I who truly wants what is best for me. The challenge is recognizing that, believing in it and maintaining my faith in His Will rather than my own. As I mentioned earlier, I do not believe that means sitting around waiting for something divine to happen. It means striving towards goals, while remaining detached from the results and recognizing the futility in hoping and wishing things were different than what they are.

Don't get me wrong - I believe in free will - that is where our actions and focus come in - what are we striving for? We have the free will to strive for whatever we want. The challenge comes when we strive and we strive and we feel as if we are never reaping the fruits of our labor, right? What gets in our way? Could be God. Could be our own warped perceptions. Honestly, it may be irrelevant.

In my opinion, it is a matter of focus. If I completely and unreservedly let the Divine (as always, whatever that means to you) in my life as a part of my striving, then I am connecting myself with my Source. To me that means seeing the Divine in others (Namaste) and being of service to humanity - that is how I show Him love. And if I can maintain that, I will be the better for it. A quote from the Bahá'í Faith states "Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee." I absolutely love that saying, it's so incredibly deep and important - pause and ponder it for a bit.

I wrote a three part blog post along this same vein a couple of years ago that I'm really proud of, Water Park Wisdom. (You can read them here: Water Park Wisdom #1 Water Park Wisdom #2 Water Park Wisdom #3) Those posts really describe in detail the feelings I have about this subject and the intricacies involved. When do we let go and let God? Why do we flail about so much trying and trying to accomplish that which may not even need our focus or attention? And why in the world would we question Him or rush the process he has put in place for our life?

As always, here are some quotes from various religious traditions on this subject:

 "O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant." ~ Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words

"Only the LORD give thee wisdom and understanding, and give thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the LORD thy God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and judgments which the LORD charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed." ~ King James Bible, 1 Chronicles 22:12-13

"The retina of outer vision, though sensitive and delicate, may, nevertheless, be a hindrance to the inner eye which alone can perceive. The bestowals of God which are manifest in all phenomenal life are sometimes hidden by intervening veils of mental and mortal vision which render man spiritually blind and incapable, but when those scales are removed and the veils rent asunder, then the great signs of God will become visible, and he will witness the eternal light filling the world. The bestowals of God are all and always manifest. The promises of heaven are ever present." ~ Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 90

"All undertakings (in) this (world) depend both on the ordering of fate and on human exertion; but among these two (the ways of) fate are unfathomable; in the case of man's work action is possible." ~ Hindu, Laws of Manu


"Trust in God, as opposed to human exertions.
The beasts said, "O enlightened sage,
Lay aside caution; it cannot help thee against destiny;
To worry with precaution is toil and moil;
Go, trust in Providence, trust is the better part.
War not with the divine decree, O hot-headed one,
Lest that decree enter into conflict with thee.
Man should be as dead before the commands of God
Lest a blow befall him from the Lord of all creatures."
He said, "True; but though trust be our mainstay,
Yet the Prophet teaches us to have regard to means.
The Prophet cried with a loud voice,
'Trust in God, yet tie the camel's leg.'
Hear the adage, 'The worker is the friend of God;'
Through trust in Providence neglect not to use means.
Go, O Quietists, practice trust with self-exertion,
Exert yourself to attain your objects, bit by bit.
In order to succeed, strive and exert yourselves;
If ye strive not for your objects, ye are fools."
They said, "What is gained from the poor by exertions
Is a fraudulent morsel that will bring ill luck.
Again, know that self-exertion springs from weakness;
Relying on other means is a blot upon perfect trust.
Self-exertion is not more noble than trust in God.
What is more lovely than committing oneself to God?
Many there are who flee from one danger to a worse;
Many flee from a snake and meet a dragon.
Man plans a stratagem, and thereby snares himself;
What he takes for life turns out, to be destruction.
He shuts the door after his foe is in the house."
 ~ Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 1

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." ~ King James Bible, Jeremiah 29:11-13

"Know thou, O fruit of My Tree, that the decrees of the Sovereign Ordainer, as related to fate and predestination, are of two kinds. Both are to be obeyed and accepted. The one is irrevocable, the other is, as termed by men, impending. To the former all must unreservedly submit, inasmuch as it is fixed and settled. God, however, is able to alter or repeal it. As the harm that must result from such a change will be greater than if the decree had remained unaltered, all, therefore, should willingly acquiesce in what God hath willed and confidently abide by the same.
The decree that is impending, however, is such that prayer and entreaty can succeed in averting it." ~ Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 132

Like a Thief in the Night

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A couple of months ago, Mr. Harold Camping worked many people into a frenzy over his prediction that Judgment Day would occur on May 21st, 2011. It is extremely disheartening to me that so many people got caught up in such fear mongering. I believe that God wants us to think for ourselves, to search, to question, to believe and have faith in Him thru conscious knowledge, not through blind imitation and attachment to antiquated dogma.

If you read this passage from the Bible for yourself...

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."(King James Bible, 2 Peter 3:10)

Let's leave all the melting elements and burning up for another discussion and focus on the first phrase - "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."

What does that mean to you? To me, it means exactly what it says - that the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. And thieves come quietly, they sneak. In fact, they could very well come and go before you even know they were there, right? Then the next morning you wake up and think, "HEY! Where did my stereo go?". That's a joke - the Promised One would have no need for your stereo. ;-)

So in my mind, the vision of Christ, or anyone else for that matter, floating down out of the sky and levitating the chosen up into heaven, just does not seem quiet or subtle enough enough to be like a "thief in the night". In fact, it seems so grandiose as to leave no room left over for true Faith, which doesn't require such ostentatious spectacles.

But Justin, you say, Jesus does say he will "come in the clouds". Ah yes, you are absolutely correct, and he also mostly spoke in parables. So, if we were to assume that the cloud concept was a parable, what do you think it could mean? What do clouds do? They obscure the sun so that it is more difficult to receive the warmth and light it provides. Taken symbolically then, what could it all mean? Maybe that when He returns there will be "clouds" that inhibit our ability to receive and recognize the warmth and light of His Word? What could those clouds be? The preoccupations and materialism of society? The prejudices or egoism within ourselves? The dogma of our traditions? What do you think?

All religions speak of a great "Promised One" that is to come. To Judaism He is "Lord of Hosts"; to Christianity, the Return of Christ in the glory of the Father; to Islam, the "Great Announcement"; to Buddhism, the Maitreya Buddha; to Hinduism, the new incarnation of Krishna; to Zoroastrianism, the advent of "Shah-Bahram".

Sometimes the Prophets speak as if They Themselves will return. Other times, They speak as if Someone other than Themselves will bring the new heaven and the new earth. This contradiction makes sense only if you ponder their dual nature as an Individual AND as the Mouthpiece for the Word of God.

As a Bahá'i, I believe that the Promised One of all religions, the "Desire of all Nations", the "King of Glory" has already come and gone in the Personage of Bahá'u'lláh. To me, His Writings are clearly from God and are the "Divine Prescription" for this ailing world. There have been many "clouds" throughout my life that successfully limited my vision at times and my ability to appropriately recognizing His station and the impact it should create in my life.

When I look back, I recognize how "asleep" I had been, letting "clouds" obscure my vision - caught up in materialism, popular thought and false preconceptions that weren't truly my own. I am so grateful and humbled that nowadays, thanks to His guidance, I feel much more "awake" and "clear" about who I am, where I fit in this world and what I believe to be true.

Below I have gathered some passages from numerous world religions on their prophecies concerning the "Promised One of All Ages". Are you certain that He has not yet arrived? Are there any "clouds" in your life that may be obscuring your vision and keeping you "asleep" and heedless to His Call? Are your beliefs truly your own or are you blindly following the same thinking of those around you? Food for thought.

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." - King James Bible, John 16:7-14

"Who shall teach us when Thou art gone?" Buddha replied in these clear terms: "I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise .... He shall reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach to you His religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter." - Sermon of the Great Passing.

"Whose name will be the victorious SAOSHYANT and whose name
will be Astvat-ereta. He will be SAOSHYANT (the Beneficent One),
because he will benefit the whole bodily world; he will be ASTVAT-ERETA (he who makes the bodily creatures rise up), because as a bodily creature and as a living creature he will stand against the destruction of the bodily creatures, to withstand the Druj of the two-footed brood, to withstand the evil done by the faithful." - The Zend-Avesta, Khorda Avesta

"I come, and go, and come. When Righteousness
Declines, O Bharata! when Wickedness
Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take
Visible shape, and move a man with men,
Succouring the good, thrusting the evil back,
And setting Virtue on her seat again.
Who knows the truth touching my births on earth
And my divine work, when he quits the flesh
Puts on its load no more, falls no more down
To earthly birth: to Me he comes, dear Prince!" - Hindu, Bhagavad Gita

"The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah-the which We have sent by inspiration to thee-and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in Religion, and make no divisions therein: to those who worship other things than Allah, hard is the (way) to which thou callest them. Allah chooses to Himself those whom He pleases, and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him)." - The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 42

"O peoples of the earth! By the righteousness of God! Whatever ye have been promised in the Books of your Lord, the Ruler of the Day of Return, hath appeared and been made manifest. Beware lest the changes and chances of the world hold you back from Him Who is the Sovereign Truth." - Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 231

Seeds of the Sower

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Well, its been over a year and a half since I first started this blog and three weeks since I last posted. I really love it when I get the opportunity to sit and do the research and the writing necessary to create these blog posts. Sometimes its easy, sometimes its hard, but it is always gratifying. Even though many times there is very little if any discussion generated, the process of sifting through the writings of the world religions gives me new "Aha" moments every time.

And that is magical.

However, I thought it might be valuable to re-state the purpose of the blog. Because I strongly believe that the essence of all religions is one and the same, I hope that people from diverse backgrounds and different spiritual traditions can use this space as a forum to have valuable discourse on important topics, free from hostile "flaming" and condemnation.

I love listening to diverse thoughts and am very open and passionate about studying and discussing spiritual writings with others. That's why I take the time to write this blog. And of course I hope that some of my friends take the time out of their busy lives to share their thoughts, opinions, and especially any quotes or religious writings that they really like or believe in.

The quote at the top of this page sums up my whole thought process for this blog...

"Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's Word with a spiritual mind." (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 79)

If you read thru the below quotes about parables and symbolism in the various spiritual traditions it talks about how important it is to delve deeply into them and try to uncover their meaning. That the seeds fall on the receptive and the denier alike, but only those willing to strive to understand and embrace the "seed" of the Word of God will ultimately be able to understand it. The quotes also seem to explain that you have to be in the right place of receptivity to understand what they truly symbolize.

Please share your thoughts on the quotes below and add your own! Happy Sunday everyone!

"And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.

And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God." (King James Bible, Luke 8:4-11)

"To see the essence in the unessential and to see the essence as unessential means one can never get to the essence,
wandering as one is in the road of wrong intentions.

But to see the essence in the essential and the unessential as the unessential it is means one does get to the essence, being
on the road of right intentions." (Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

"He it is who has revealed to thee the Book, of which there are some verses that are decisive, they are the mother of the Book; and others ambiguous; but as for those in whose hearts is perversity, they follow what is ambiguous, and do crave for sedition, craving for (their own) interpretation of it; but none know the interpretation of it except God. But those who are well grounded in knowledge say, 'We believe in it; it is all from our Lord; but none will remember save those who possess minds." (The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 3 - Imran's Family)

"Scholars of the highest class, when they hear about the Tao,
earnestly carry it into practice. Scholars of the middle class, when
they have heard about it, seem now to keep it and now to lose it.
Scholars of the lowest class, when they have heard about it, laugh
greatly at it. If it were not (thus) laughed at, it would not be fit
to be the Tao." (Tao, Tao Te Ching (J. Legge tr))

"Consider how the parable makes attainment dependent upon capacity. Unless capacity is developed, the summons of the Kingdom cannot reach the ear, the light of the Sun of Truth will not be observed, and the fragrances of the rose garden of inner significance will be lost. Let us endeavor to attain capacity, susceptibility and worthiness that we may hear the call of the glad tidings of the Kingdom, become revivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit, hoist the standard of the oneness of humanity, establish human brotherhood, and under the protection of divine grace attain the everlasting and eternal life." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 149)

"Wert thou to cleanse the mirror of thy heart from the dust of malice, thou wouldst apprehend the meaning of the symbolic terms revealed by the all-embracing Word of God made manifest in every Dispensation, and wouldst discover the mysteries of divine knowledge. Not, however, until thou consumest with the flame of utter detachment those veils of idle learning, that are current amongst men, canst thou behold the resplendent morn of true knowledge." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 68)

"I'm only human"...really?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

“It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.” - Denis Diderot

I got in trouble with my mom once when I was a teenager for the weirdest thing. I can't recall exactly how it went down, but I think it involved the song "Human" by The Human League. In case you've never heard that song or don't remember the lyrics, here's a sample: "I’m only human, Of flesh and blood I’m made, Human, Born to make mistakes"

I was singing it or she heard it playing on my boombox (back then that's what we used to listen to music) or maybe I just quoted it and said "I'm only human". I don't really remember. All I remember was how mad my mom got. She said something to the effect, (really paraphrasing here) "What do you mean you're only human? Do you know how special it is to be human? Do you know how much you have been blessed by God? Do you have any idea?"

Obviously, I didn't. At least not back then. Nowadays, because of that incident so long ago and because I am older and wiser (wink), I am always struck when someone else uses the phrase, "I'm only human" or "It's just human nature". Is it? Really? Or is it an excuse? Why do we even say that? The whole concept of "What exactly is human nature?" has been a prevailing theme in my life lately. Friday night on Jeopardy there was a quote from the movie The African Queen with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart:

Charlie Allnut: A man takes a drop too much once in a while, it's only human nature.
Rose Sayer: Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

That quote completely encapsulates my thoughts on the subject. Too often I feel that what society currently labels as "normal" and "acceptable" and/or "just human" are actually just mainstream conventions of thought and practice that I personally don't adhere to. What is so great about modern conventions anyway? It seems like everywhere around me all people care about discussing or spending time on are things that pertain to this world and everything within it - politics, celebrities, new technologies, entertainment, latest gossip, etc. Sorry, but something tells me that just because a large percentage of society believes certain things to be true, or acceptable or "human", doesn't make it so. For example:

"It's perfectly normal to have a glass of beer or wine with dinner every night, in fact, it's good for you!"

"By your third date, it is completely ok to have sex. You gotta test the merchandise, right? Besides, you're only human."

"It's understandable if you yell and scream at your significant other every once in a while. You have to let off steam. It's natural."

Hogwash, I say! I strongly believe that we were made to "rise above" our baser, more animalstic nature and that is because our truer, more relevant nature is "divine". There is a light within us that we can tap into, a light that is our true spirit and our divine essence and more truly human than any other aspect that typically gets labeled as "who we are". Maybe that makes me a "fuddy-duddy" or a "goody two shoes" to the rest of the world. So be it. All I know is that I've been there, done that other junk and focusing on my divine self feels way better.

Don't forget to check out some spiritual writings on this topic below and as always, please share your thoughts and quotes from your spiritual traditions. I'll end with a quote from Katy Perry's song Firework since I think it is relevant to the topic, reminding us all to let our divine light shine:

"Do you know that theres still a chance for you, cause there's a spark in you? You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine! Just own the night like the Fourth of July, 'Cause baby you're a firework, c'mon show 'em what you're worth!"

"Divine civilization is like the spirit, and the body gets its life from the spirit, otherwise it becomes a corpse. It has thus been made evident that the world of mankind is in need of the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Without the spirit the world of mankind is lifeless, and without this light the world of mankind is in utter darkness. For the world of nature is an animal world. Until man is born again from the world of nature, that is to say, becomes detached from the world of nature, he is essentially an animal, and it is the teachings of God which converts this animal into a human soul." - Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 289

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." - King James Bible, John 1:12-13

"Lift up your self by yourself;
examine your self by yourself.
Thus self-protected and attentive
you will live joyfully, mendicant.
For self is the master of self;
self is the refuge of self.
therefore tame yourself,
like a merchant tames a noble horse." - Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards)

The sage whose soul
Holds off from outer contacts, in himself
Finds bliss; to Brahma joined by piety,
His spirit tastes eternal peace. The joys
Springing from sense-life are but quickening wombs
Which breed sure griefs: those joys begin and end!
The wise mind takes no pleasure, Kunti's Son!
In such as those! But if a man shall learn,
Even while he lives and bears his body's chain,
To master lust and anger, he is blest!
He is the Yukta; he hath happiness,
Contentment, light, within: his life is merged
In Brahma's life; he doth Nirvana touch!" - Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr)

"The rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man. For example, he was dark and becomes luminous, he was ignorant and becomes wise, he was neglectful and becomes vigilant, he was asleep and becomes awakened, he was dead and becomes living, he was blind and becomes a seer, he was deaf and becomes a hearer, he was earthly and becomes heavenly, he was material and becomes spiritual. Through these rewards he gains spiritual birth, and becomes a new creature...this is the meaning of the second birth.

For such people there is no greater torture than being veiled from God, and no more severe punishment than sensual vices, dark qualities, lowness of nature, engrossment in carnal desires. When they are delivered through the light of faith from the darkness of these vices, and become illuminated with the radiance of the Sun of Reality, and ennobled with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest reward, and they know it to be the true paradise." - Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 324

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