Why is "Knowing God" important?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One of the things that is so prevalent in this day and age is the contempt that many people have for religion. And many of the reasons behind it are understandable - materialsism, outdated dogma, horrible scandals, "holy" bloodshed due to ancient prejudices and a lack of a modern vision for the world - to name just a few.

Problem is that sometimes I feel that many people get so tired of trying to reconcile religion to their worldview and failing, that they "throw the baby out with the bathwater" so to speak. Meaning, they drop religion altogether and just try to "be a good person". And of course that is commendable and praiseworthy, but... why would God send us Christ, Mohammad, Buddha and all of these other Manifestations of God if we weren't meant to learn about God thru them and the teachings they left us?

Seriously, think about it. Ok, based on individual beliefs you may believe in one, none or all of these "Prophets" or Manifestations of God. But in a way, I think it is irrelevant. No matter what your beliefs, why would God send teacher(s) to us without the express purpose that we learn about Him through Them and the Word that they brought? He did not intend for us to be on our own and to try and reach Him without help. That is why He sent us guidance in the form of these Holy Souls when we most needed them throughout history - to support us in our development and journey towards God.

Yes, maybe humanity has warped the original beauty and meaning behind the Word of God that They revealed, but maybe, just maybe, we should take responsibility for our learning and focus on wiping away all that drivel and slice our way thru the nonsense so that we can find the Truth again in the Holy Scriptures or "Word of God". It's still there, just waiting to be found.

By all means, throw out the "bathwater", but I say keep the "baby" - it was sent from the Source especially for us.

"...good actions alone, without the knowledge of God, cannot be the cause of eternal salvation, everlasting success, and prosperity, and entrance into the Kingdom of God." (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 238)

"...when a person performs a good action, although it is praiseworthy, if it is not caused by the love and knowledge of God, it is imperfect." (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 304)

"The supreme cause for creating the world and all that is therein is for man to know God." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 267)

"If you recognize His Glorious Virtues, then you shall come to know God; thus virtue shall dwell in you, and sin shall run away." (Shri Guru Granth Sahib, Section 8 - Raag Aasaa)

"And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (King James Bible, Luke 4:4)

Count Your Blessings - Even BEFORE they hatch!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Halfway thru this particular work week I am reminded of the importance of focusing on the blessings and bounty of God at all times.

I think His bounties are always showering down all around us, but we only receive those blessings if we are aware enough to pay attention and tap into them. And, as I found out while researching this topic, all the religions seem to repeat this common refrain - "that you must "follow the commandments" in order to partake of God's blessings".

Last night I sat out on the deck, watching the hummingbirds and the sunset, with my two four-legged boys in my lap (Buddy and Gucci) and reading a book. It was very special to me because I felt like I tapped into something that is always there but that I do not always acknowledge - the beauty surrounding me. What a blessing that is - to be able to live where I do really and truly brings extra joy to my life!

Do you pay attention to the blessings around you? If you forget to notice them, how do you steer yourself back? Do you find that you feel "more blessed" when you are actively closer to God and in alignment with what you believe he expects from you?

Please share your thoughts and add some additional quotes from your tradition.

"The essence of charity is for the servant to recount the blessings of his Lord, and to render thanks unto Him at all times and under all conditions." (Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 156)

"And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God." (28.1-2 King James Bible, Deuteronomy)

"He who knows Brahman, which is (i. e. cause, not effect), which is conscious, which is without end, as hidden in the depth (of the heart), in the highest ether, he enjoys all blessings, at one with the omniscient Brahman." (Upanishads vol. 2, Taittiriyaka-Upanishad)

"O ye who believe! celebrate the praises of Allah and do this often; And glorify Him morning and evening. He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers." (The Quran Surah 33 41-43 Yusaf Ali tr.)

"If, O ye mortals, ye mark those commandments which Mazda hath ordained -- of happiness and pain, the long punishment for the follower of the Druj, and blessings for the followers of the Right -- then hereafter shall it be well." (The Zend-Avesta, Avesta - Yasna)

"Forget your own selves, and turn your eyes towards your neighbor. Bend your energies to whatever may foster the education of men. Nothing is, or can ever be, hidden from God. If ye follow in His way, His incalculable and imperishable blessings will be showered upon you. This is the luminous Tablet, whose verses have streamed from the moving Pen of Him Who is the Lord of all worlds. Ponder it in your hearts, and be ye of them that observe its precepts."(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 9)

Spiritual vs. Material

Sunday, July 4, 2010

“We are not human beings having occasional spiritual experiences; we are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience.” – Wayne Dyer

More and more nowadays I am finding that this blog is my only place to truly express myself. I have never really used a diary in my life, but now more than ever I guess I need one and this is it. It's ok that noone hardly responds and I don't have many "followers". It is nice to just have a place where I can sort out my thoughts and purge my feelings.

My topic today is the challenges we all face when trying to determine who we are and what our purpose in life should be. Are we just physical beings with a focus on material needs or are we spiritual beings with a focus on heavenly virtues.

I don't believe that we are only physical beings doomed to wallow in each and every one of our material desires, lusts and selfish needs - that we are "only human" as so many people like to say when making excuses for negative behavior. I think we ARE more and that we CAN BE more if we put our minds to it.

God created us as noble creatures and has filled us with the essence of His Virtues - thus the concept that we have been created in "His Image". Can we just think about that for a second? How huge is that? What a gift! We were created to be the light of the world!

But in order to do that, we have to lift ourselves up above our baser material nature and work at developing our spiritual nature. Our spiritual nature is eternal, divine and everlasting. Our physical nature - and ALL that it entails - is finite, transitory and fleeting.

I refuse to leave this world with nothing to show for it - so I am going to focus on developing those aspects of myself that will last beyond this earthly existence - those heavenly virtues from the side of myself that will continue to exist after my life on this earth is over.

My spirit and its needs are infinitely more important than my body and its selfish desires. But what does that look like in the life that I am trying to lead? What does it mean to be in the world but not "of it"? And how do I survive this world when noone seems to understand? Is feeling so all alone an integral part of the process?

"...the heart is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal. How foolish the bird that builds its nest in a tree that may perish when it could build its nest in an ever-verdant garden of paradise. Man must attach himself to an infinite reality, so that his glory, his joy, and his progress may be infinite." (Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p.136)

"O friends! Let not the deceptive glamour of this fleeting world -- to whose impermanence all things attest -- cut you off from God's enduring bestowals, nor deprive you from partaking of the spiritual sustenance that He hath sent down from the heaven of His bounty." (Compilations vol II, p. 332)

"Letting go of all pleasures, calling nothing one's own,
let the wise cleanse oneself
from all the troubles of the mind.

Those whose minds are well grounded
in the elements of enlightenment,
who without clinging to anything
find joy in freedom from attachment,
whose appetites have been conquered,
and who are full of light,
they are free in this world." (Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." (King James Bible, 1 Peter)

"Take care to provide well for your future abode. Do not barter away eternal blessing for pleasures of this mortal and fleeting world." (Ali b. Abi Taalib, Letters from Nahjul Balaagh)

"But the life of man is not so restricted; it is divine, eternal, not mortal and sensual. For him a spiritual existence and livelihood is prepared and ordained in the divine creative plan. His life is intended to be a life of spiritual enjoyment to which the animal can never attain. This enjoyment depends upon the acquisition of heavenly virtues. The sublimity of man is his attainment of the knowledge of God. The bliss of man is the acquiring of heavenly bestowals, which descend upon him in the outflow of the bounty of God. The happiness of man is in the fragrance of the love of God. This is the highest pinnacle of attainment in the human world. How preferable to the animal and its hopeless kingdom!

Therefore, consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! How debased is such a nature! God has created man in order that he may be a dove of the Kingdom, a heavenly candle, a recipient of eternal life. God has created man in order that he may be resuscitated through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and become the light of the world. How debased the soul which can find enjoyment in this darkness, occupied with itself, the captive of self and passion, wallowing in the mire of the material world! How degraded is such a nature! What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! How glorious the station of man who has partaken of the heavenly food and built the temple of his everlasting residence in the world of heaven!" (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 185)

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