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

A Precious Bounty

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I have received my official invitation to go on the 9-Day Baha'i pilgrimage in June of next year! I have fourteen months to prepare, which seems like forever! I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

Most world religions have some sort of pilgrimage that their followers can take in order to pray and worship at their holy places. In the Baha'i Faith, pilgrimage is considered a privilege and a bounty of inestimable value. It is not only a physical journey to the historical and sacred sites of the Faith, but an important inner journey of immense spiritual significance.

Below I have gathered some of the images of various holy sites of pilgrimage from many of the different world religions. Have you ever been on pilgrimage to a site you find sacred? Do you hope to some day? Please share your experiences, thoughts or feelings on pilgrimage from your spiritual tradition.

The image above is from the Baha'i World Centre on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel. The building you see is the Shrine of The Báb (which means "The Gate"). The Báb was the Founder of the Babi religion and the Herald of Baha'u'llah. I will be staying at a hotel on Mount Carmel during my pilgrimage and it will be a short walk for me to visit this Shrine.

This is the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh located in Bahjí near Acre, Israel. It is the most holy place for Bahá'ís and represents our Qiblih, or direction of prayer. It contains the remains of Bahá'u'lláh and is near the spot where he died in the Mansion of Bahjí. This is the most sacred place I will be visiting during my pilgrimage.

The Temple in Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish religion, until its destruction in 70 CE. Since then, the western retaining wall of the original temple, known as the Wailing Wall, or Western Wall remains in the Old City of Jerusalem and this has been the most sacred site for religious Jews.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The site is venerated as Golgotha (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). The church has been an important Christian pilgrimage destination since at least the 4th century.

The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest annual pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so. The Hajj is a demonstration of the solidarity of the Muslim people, and their submission to God (Allah).

Gautama Buddha is said to have identified four sites most worthy of pilgrimage for his followers, saying that they would produce a feeling of spiritual urgency. One of them pictured above, is in Kushinagar, where there rests a 1500 year old statue of the Buddha as he attained Parinirvana (Great Nirvana or passing away).

The Badrinath temple in India is widely considered to be one of the holiest Hindu temples, and is dedicated to the god Vishnu. The temple and town are one of the four Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It was traditionally believed that one who undertakes a pilgrimage to all four sites will attain moksha, the release from samsara (cycle of rebirths), at the time of death.

Keep Your Head Up!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This weekend I am trying to take it a little easy, so the blog is going to be very brief (normally I spend hours looking up quotes and pictures). I thought a good thing to do would be to just post the coolest Baha'i video I have seen in a long time.

It is actually a music video by Andy Grammer, son of Red Grammer. The version shown below is only one of many versions of this video. The original is filmed like one of those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books they had back in the 80's. It can be found here - At that site you can actually make choices throughout the video as to what you would like to see happen. For example, Andy can bump into movers or be dumped by the bikers at the beginning. There are numerous choices like that throughout. Super fun! Not to mention, the song itself is very uplifting and catchy and Rainn Wilson from the Office is in it.

I hope everyone is having a fabulous weekend and enjoy the video!

Cleansing the Soul

Sunday, March 6, 2011

So, I started the annual Bahá'í Fast this last Wednesday, and I am really excited about it this year. I don't know why necessarily, except that I've grown a lot in the last three years and I am more focused on developing spiritually than I've ever been before. And that is what fasting is all about.

All Bahá'ís in good health fast for nineteen days every year, from March 2nd thru March 20th. It starts immediately following the festival of Ayyam-i-Ha and ends right before the Bahá'í New Year(Naw Ruz). During the Fast we refrain from food and drink (including water) from sunrise to sunset. Absolutely nothing is supposed to pass our lips during daylight hours. The purpose is to become re-energized and refocused on what is most important in life - our spirituality and relationship with God.

Bahá'u'lláh says that God "hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue" which is "inscrutable to all" but Him, that the Fast is "conducive to preservation and protection from tests" and is "the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion". Basically, the Fast helps us grow closer to God by becoming detached from worldly desires.

So, every morning during the Fast I get up early and say my prayers and eat and drink enough to get me through the day. Then, after the sun sets, I thank God for helping me get through the day and then eat dinner and replenish my fluids. It can be hard sometimes. The second day of the Fast this year was no picnic (you don't want to know).

But the spiritual benefits FAR outweigh the physical challenges. During the Fast I am reminded how lucky I am to have such easy access to both food and clean drinking water. Did you know that every 20 seconds a child dies from a water related disease? That is 1.4 million every year. When refraining (by choice) from basic necessities that you typically take for granted, you can't help but feel immensely and acutely grateful for all that you have.

And I do grow spiritually, a little more every day. That's why I love the Fast.

What do you think about fasting? Does your spiritual tradition practice fasting? Have you ever done it? Do you have some quotes to share? Tell me all about it then!

"These are the days of the Fast. Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increaseth his love, and who, with joy and radiance, ariseth to perform worthy deeds. Verily, He guideth whomsoever He willeth to the straight path." -Bahá'u'lláh

"Fasting and obligatory prayer are as two wings to man's life. Blessed be the one who soareth with their aid in the heaven of the love of God, the Lord of all worlds." -Bahá'u'lláh

"The wisdom of obligatory prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because at that time man with all his heart and soul turneth his face towards the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and companionship. For a lover, there is no greater pleasure than to converse with his beloved, and for a seeker, there is no greater bounty than intimacy with the object of his desire. It is the greatest longing of every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God to find time to turn with entire devotion to his Beloved, so as to seek His bounty and blessing and immerse himself in the ocean of communion, entreaty and supplication. Moreover, obligatory prayer and fasting produce awareness and awakening in man, and are conducive to his protection and preservation from tests." -Abdu'l-Baha

"Cling firmly to obligatory prayer and fasting. Verily, the religion of God is like unto heaven; fasting is its sun, and obligatory prayer is its moon" -Bahá'u'lláh

"This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love." -Abdu'l-Bahá

"We, verily, have set forth all things in Our Book, as a token of grace unto those who have believed in God, the Almighty, the Protector, the Self-Subsisting. And We have ordained obligatory prayer and fasting so that all may by these means draw nigh unto God, the Most Powerful, the Well-Beloved. We have written down these two laws and expounded every irrevocable decree. We have forbidden men from following whatsoever might cause them to stray from the Truth, and have commanded them to observe that which will draw them nearer unto Him Who is the Almighty, the All-Loving. Say: Observe ye the commandments of God for love of His beauty, and be not of those who follow in the ways of the abject and foolish." -Bahá'u'lláh

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Ayyam-i-Ha everyone! I skipped posting on the blog last week since I was getting ready for my Ayyam-i-Ha party this weekend. I hadn't had an Ayyam-i-Ha celebration in my home in a really long time and I wanted it to be great. For those of you who may not know what Ayyam-i-Ha is, I will explain.

The Baha'i calendar has 19 months with 19 days each which leaves 4 days left over (5 in a leap year) in order to align with the 365 days of the Gregorian solar calendar. Bahá'u'lláh, The prophet-founder of the Baha'i Faith, declared that these days should be celebrated with acts of love, fellowship, unity, charity, gift-giving and goodwill. Ayyam-i-Ha means "The Days of Ha". “Ha” is an Arabic term that essentially means the “Essence of God.”

When I was young my mom decided to create a tradition to help us celebrate by creating an "Ayyam-i-Ha Tree". This year, I decided to re-create my childhood Ayyam-i-Ha tree in order to make it more of a celebration. The symbolism behind all the decorations/ornaments (leaves, flags, doves and nine pointed stars) come directly from the Baha'i Writings. The relevant quotes are directly below the pictures. I think the tree turned out great! What do you think?

"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."(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 185)

"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 250)

"The tabernacle of unity hath been raised; regard ye not one another as strangers. Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 218)

"These sanctified Mirrors, these Day Springs of ancient glory, are, one and all, the Exponents on earth of Him Who is the central Orb of the universe, its Essence and ultimate Purpose. From Him proceed their knowledge and power; from Him is derived their sovereignty. The beauty of their countenance is but a reflection of His image, and their revelation a sign of His deathless glory. They are the Treasuries of Divine knowledge, and the Repositories of celestial wisdom. Through them is transmitted a grace that is infinite, and by them is revealed the Light that can never fade. These Tabernacles of Holiness, these Primal Mirrors which reflect the light of unfading glory, are but expressions of Him Who is the Invisible of the Invisibles. By the revelation of these Gems of Divine virtue all the names and attributes of God, such as knowledge and power, sovereignty and dominion, mercy and wisdom, glory, bounty, and grace, are made manifest." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 47)

Thank you one and all for sharing this celebration of Ayyam-i-Ha! Having my friends there really made it special and it meant a lot to me! Happy Ayyam-i-Ha and I hope to see you all next year! Enjoy these pictures from the Gag-Gift Ayyam-i-Ha party that we had last night!

Endeavor to grow

Sunday, February 13, 2011

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” - Benjamin Franklin

Today's blog is a little of a rehash of a blog from last year. But I felt like it was important to revist since it is kinda the whole reason I started this - I am trying to think and grow and learn in spiritual ways. For years and years I completely ignored the spiritual side of my self. I did not work at developing my spiritual qualities or virtues. I closed off the side of my self that wanted to grow and develop, to become more than what I was. I had no interest in anything other than fulfilling my human needs, my physical desires, my selfish thoughts.

Now that I am trying to grow and develop and focus on my spirituality I have found that it is a constant challenge to remain focused on my goals. Who do I want to be? How do I want to act? What qualities do I want to exhibit? How can I function effectively in a world that doesn't seem to value spirituality? Or care about focusing on the transcendent?

I found the following video today on a really cool website I enjoy visiting called Check it out.

His thoughts truly mirror some of my own. I believe in oneness and ultimately, that somewhere deep down, the best parts of our selves are infinitely more beautiful than we realize. We are spiritual beings, with intuition and a mind full of thoughts and feelings. It is important to use that mind to study, to question and to talk with others so we can share and learn and connect in more profound and powerful ways. To me, there is nothing more important than striving to become better, to focus on developing my spiritual self - to become more patient, more compassionate, more just, more thoughtful, more loyal, more brave, more polite, more honest...more loving.

So, what do you think about growing and developing? Do you believe in striving to become better? What "philosophy" on growth do you adhere to? Thoughts? Quotes?

"...until material achievements, physical accomplishments and human virtues are reinforced by spiritual perfections, luminous qualities and characteristics of mercy, no fruit or result shall issue therefrom, nor will the happiness of the world of humanity, which is the ultimate aim, be attained." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 283)

"Happiness consists of two kinds; physical and spiritual. The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year. It hath no result. Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable. This kind of happiness appeareth in one's soul with the love of God and suffereth one to attain to the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Therefore, endeavor as much as thou canst in order to illumine the lamp of thy heart with the light of love." (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 472)

Let no one cling to what is pleasant or unpleasant.
Not to see what is pleasant is painful,
as it is to see what is unpleasant.
Therefore do not become attached to anything;
loss of what is loved is painful.
Those who have neither likes nor dislikes have no chains.

From pleasure comes grief; from pleasure comes fear.
Whoever is free from pleasure knows neither grief nor fear.

From attachment comes grief; from attachment comes fear.
Whoever is free from attachment knows neither grief nor fear.

From greed comes grief; from greed comes fear.
Whoever is free from greed knows neither grief nor fear.

From lust comes grief; from lust comes fear.
Whoever is free from lust knows neither grief nor fear.

From craving comes grief; from craving comes fear.
Whoever is free from craving knows neither grief nor fear.

Whoever has virtue and insight,
who is just, truthful, and does one's own work,
the world will love.

The one in whom a desire for the ineffable has arisen,
whose mind is satisfied
and whose thoughts are free from desires
is called one who ascends the stream." (Dhammapada, Sayings of the Buddha 2)

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."(King James Bible, 2 Peter 1:3-8)

"There comes a day, O Spitama Zarathustra! or a night, when the master leaves the cattle, or the cattle leave the master, or the soul leaves that body full of desires; But his virtue, which is of all existences the greatest, the best, the finest, never parts from a man."(The Zend-Avesta, Avesta Fragments)

Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

I was brought up in a household that was very focused on the elimination of racial prejudice and the belief that all of humanity is one. I was taught not to make distinctions based on race, color, culture or class. I truly believe in unity in diversity and I deplore racism. One of the most famous sayings from the Baha'i Faith about mankind is that "Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch".

Over a year ago I went to a diversity conference in Virginia and developed the video below for use on the really cool website It asks the question "Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?" Check it out.

I think the answer is probably "Yes". At least a little bit. And that is only due to the way our culture functions in this day and age. I am one of the least racist people you could ever hope to meet due to the way I was raised. However my family and Faith couldn't completely protect me from the prejudices of a corrupt society. Sadly, some fears and stereotypes have leaked through and warped my perceptions. Not a lot. But some.

But when I recognize them, do I let them cloud my vision? Absolutely not. I strive to eliminate them. As I said earlier, I believe in race unity and the essential goodness of the entire human race. I do not think we are born with prejudices. I think they are learned behavior.

What say you? What did you think of the video? I have some quotes on this topic from a few world religions below. Do you have thoughts and/or quotes to share?

"The world of humanity is like a garden and the various races are the flowers which constitute its adornment and decoration. In the animal kingdom also we find variety of color. See how the doves differ in beauty yet they live together in perfect peace, and love each other. They do not make difference of color a cause of discord and strife. They view each other as the same species and kind. They know they are one in kind. Often a white dove soars aloft with a black one. Throughout the animal kingdom we do not find the creatures separated because of color. They recognize unity of species and oneness of kind. If we do not find color distinction drawn in a kingdom of lower intelligence and reason, how can it be justified among human beings, especially when we know that all have come from the same source and belong to the same household? In origin and intention of creation mankind is one. Distinctions of race and color have arisen afterward."(Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 34)

"He sees indeed who sees in all alike
The living, lordly Soul; the Soul Supreme,
Imperishable amid the Perishing:
For, whoso thus beholds, in every place,
In every form, the same, one, Living Life,
Doth no more wrongfulness unto himself,
But goes the highest road which brings to bliss.
Seeing, he sees, indeed, who sees that works
Are Nature's wont, for Soul to practise by
Acting, yet not the agent; sees the mass
Of separate living things- each of its kind-
Issue from One, and blend again to One:
Then hath he BRAHMA, he attains!"(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Occasions of hatred are certainly never settled by hatred. They are settled by freedom from hatred. This is the eternal
law."(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men."(King James Bible, Romans 12:9-18)

"O YE children of men! The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity. This is the straight Path, the fixed and immovable foundation."(Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, p. 112)

Mercy is not Strained

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath." (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice)

I am a HUGE fan of William Shakespeare. Just ask my mom. She took me to Shakespeare in the Park in Boulder, Colorado when I was two or three years old and I sat there completely engaged and focused on the play the entire time. Love the Bard! ;-)

Anyway, this quote from Shakespeare basically means that mercy should be freely given and is not "forced". Seems to me that this thought is very much like the Mercy and Forgiveness that God showers upon us at all times. It is always there - just waiting for us to partake of it - it's not forced. It is a gift and a blessing because of God's love for us.

Thing is, we are not always able to actually receive this amazing gift of love. In many of the world's religions God tells us how much He loves us, but he also says that unless we love Him, His love cannot reach us. To me, this is an extremely important concept to take under advisement.

Think about it. How often are we caught up in our own affairs and completely forgetful of God? Or how many times are we so overwhelmed by the trials and tribulations of this life that we turn our backs on Him? Or we just aren't interested in what He has to say and live our lives without heeding the wisdom that He provided for us. Maybe we're just scared to trust Him completely because we've been hurt in the past.

So we put up barriers between ourselves and God that we feel protect us from getting hurt, when in reality they inhibit our ability to receive his Grace and Love. It is like the umbrellas at the top of this post, warding off the rain and keeping us from getting wet. If you took it as a metaphor, then all those people protecting themselves(w/umbrellas) are actually depriving themselves of receiving God's love(rain).

So I say leave those umbrellas at home and let yourself get drenched! It takes trust, it takes focus, it takes faith, it takes dedication, but it is well worth it. Remember, that the only way His love will be able to reach you is when you show your love for Him. God's love for us is always right there, unconditional and all-encompassing, just waiting for us to love Him back so we can actually tap into it and receive the amazing blessing that His love will bring to our lives.

Below are some very brief posts from a handful of world religions on this concept. Please share your thoughts and quotes as well. Happy Sunday everyone!

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)

"I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me."(King James Bible, Proverbs 8:17)

"Say, 'If ye would love God then follow me, and God will love you and forgive you your sins, for God is forgiving and merciful.'"(The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 3 - Imran's Family)

"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."(King James Bible, John 14:21)

The Divine Within Others

Sunday, January 23, 2011

As a Baha'i, I love and appreciate the shining spark of truth that I believe flows through all major world religions. One phrase that really touches me from the Buddhist tradition is the term "Namaste" which is often used in greeting and/or Yoga practice. Namaste has been translated in many different ways, but they all basically amount to the same thing...

"The Divine within me bows to the Divine within you"

Beautiful, right? Today's blog is very similar to last weeks blog in that the main focus is still "The Divine Within". But last week I just focused on the concept itself, now I want to discuss a little more about what it means. If I believe and recognize that there are attributes of God within me, how should that change the way I relate to others and the world around me? Or does it? Check out this video...

I think this video demonstrates the concept of compassion and love for all creation in a very simple way. If we can recognize the Divine within ourselves and appreciate and see the Divine in everyone around us, the world would be a much better place. We truly are all one. And it only follows that if God created us all and endowed each and every one of us with the ability to mirror forth his attributes, then we should honor the divine within every individual who crosses our path.

So, my personal answer to whether recognizing the Divine within me changes the way I relate to the world is "YES! Absolutely!" How could it not? There is a part of God in everyone! I would be a fool not to honor that. Easier said than done, you say? But people are rude and obnoxious and selfish, you say? Yes, sometimes. But I say, you can still find the Divine within them.

It is just a matter of changing focus. The more I remember to focus on looking for the Divine in myself and others, the more often I see it. And when I am successful at retaining this type of focus, I see beauty everywhere and in everyone. I'm not saying I see those warm globes of light like in the video (LOL!), but it feels kinda like that inside. It can be challenging to do for sure, but when it happens, it feels AMAZING!

Here are some quotes on this concept. Please share your own thoughts and quotes!

"Be in perfect unity. Never become angry with one another. Let your eyes be directed toward the kingdom of truth and not toward the world of creation. Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections." (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92)

"He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye." (Buddha)

He who thus vows
His soul to the Supreme Soul, quitting sin,
Passes unhindered to the endless bliss
Of unity with Brahma. He so vowed,
So blended, sees the Life-Soul resident
In all things living, and all living things
In that Life-Soul contained. And whoso thus
Discerneth Me in all, and all in Me,
I never let him go; nor looseneth he
Hold upon Me; but, dwell he where he may,
Whate'er his life, in Me he dwells and lives,
Because he knows and worships Me, Who dwell
In all which lives, and cleaves to Me in all." (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." (King James Bible, 2 Peter)

Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created." (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

The Divine Within Us

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"He hath known God who hath known himself" (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 178)

Knowing God by knowing ourselves - this is a concept that has always really struck a chord with me. It is fascinating to think that by truly knowing exactly who I am, I somehow gain a better understanding of the Almighty. Isn't that extraordinary?

Don't get me wrong. I think that God is ultimately Unknowable. There is absolutely no way that we will ever fully comprehend Him. How could the created ever truly fathom the Creator? But I do believe we can strive to learn and know more about God, and one of the ways we do that is through knowing ourselves. But how do we do that? Where would I find God within me?

In the Bahá'í Faith, Baha'u'llah teaches that God "...hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes" upon humanity and made us like "a mirror of His own Self" (full quote below). Ultimately this means that we have the potential to mirror forth the infinite qualities of God - patience, humility, compassion, trustworthiness, love, etc. When we see these qualities within ourselves and strive to embody them, we become closer to God and begin to know Him. We recognize the Divine within us.

In fact, this is the way in which I personally interpret the Christian teaching from Genesis that we were created in the image of God. Our likeness is spiritual, rather than physical. That just makes more sense to me. Obviously, this "likeness" isn't always apparent. It takes time to truly mirror forth these attributes of God. We have to struggle against our baser, more selfish nature. But the more I am able to develop and incorporate spiritual qualities into my daily life, it only makes sense to me that I would know at least a tiny bit more about God. What a gift.

Each religion teaches the concept of "God Within" in one way or another as the quotations below can attest. Read through them and let me know your thoughts.

I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting." (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (King James Bible, 1 John 4.16)

"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)

"Yea! knowing Me the source of all, by Me all creatures wrought,
The wise in spirit cleave to Me, into My Being brought;
Hearts fixed on Me; breaths breathed to Me; praising Me, each to
So have they happiness and peace, with pious thought and speech;
And unto these- thus serving well, thus loving ceaselessly-
I give a mind of perfect mood, whereby they draw to Me;
And, all for love of them, within their darkened souls I dwell,
And, with bright rays of wisdom's lamp, their ignorance dispel." (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation." (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

"The Prophet said that God has declared,
"I am not contained in aught above or below,
I am not contained in earth or sky, or even
In highest heaven. Know this for a surety. O beloved!
Yet am I contained in the believer's heart!
If ye seek me, search in such hearts!"
He said also, "Enter the hearts of my servants
To gain the paradise of beholding Me, O fearer of God" (Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 1)

"Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him -- a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.... Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.

These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 65)

The Next Great Adventure

Sunday, January 9, 2011

"To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure." – Albus Dumbledore

Life after death is a fascinating subject to me, and an important one in general I would think, no matter what you believe. This week I am much more interested in what everyone else has to say on this subject than I am expounding on it myself. There is so much mystery around the afterlife.

What will it be like? Look like? Feel like?

Who will be there? Will you recognize them?

How will you spend your time? Will time even exist any more?

I know what I think and what I believe, and I'll share them later, but what do YOU think?

Here are some thoughts from various world religions on the subject. Enjoy...

"To consider that after the death of the body the spirit perishes, is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the destruction of the cage. Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like the bird. We see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of sleep; therefore if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and exist: its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater, and its happiness increased. In truth, from hell it reaches a paradise of delights, because for the thankful birds there is no paradise greater than freedom from the cage." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 326)

"Learn thou! the Life is, spreading life through all;
It cannot anywhere, by any means,
Be anywise diminished, stayed, or changed.
But for these fleeting frames which it informs
With spirit deathless, endless, infinite,
They perish. Let them perish, Prince! and fight!
He who shall say, "Lo! I have slain a man!"
He who shall think, "Lo! I am slain!" those both
Know naught! Life cannot slay. Life is not slain!
Never the spirit was born; the spirit shall cease to be never;
Never was time it was not; End and Beginning are dreams!
Birthless and deathless and changeless remaineth the spirit for
ever" (Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"O my people! this present life is only a passing joy, but the life to
come is the mansion that abideth." (The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 40 - The Believer)

"Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments. Consider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 153)

"Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever." (King James Bible, Psalms 73:24-26)

"Know thou of a truth that the soul, after its separation from the body, will continue to progress until it attaineth the presence of God, in a state and condition which neither the revolution of ages and centuries, nor the changes and chances of this world, can alter. It will endure as long as the Kingdom of 156 God, His sovereignty, His dominion and power will endure. It will manifest the signs of God and His attributes, and will reveal His loving kindness and bounty. The movement of My Pen is stilled when it attempteth to befittingly describe the loftiness and glory of so exalted a station." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 155)

Tis' the Season for Resolutions

Sunday, January 2, 2011

So 2011 is here and many people are making New Year's resolutions - to stop eating junk food, to exercise more, to quit smoking, etc. For whatever reason I've never really gotten into making resolutions in the New Year. Might be because I was never really successful at it. Is anyone?

Don't get me wrong, I have definitely made resolutions and adhered to them, just never successfully on New Years Eve. I stopped smoking August 8th, 2003, I became Vegan July 9th, 2009 - to name just a couple. When I get in my mind that I am going to do something differently or approach life in a different way - then I do it. But it always ends up being on my own terms, in my own time.

I have to work through it you know? And sometimes there are a lot of false starts along the way. But if I am committed, then I always get around to it. Here is a really cool quote on resolutions I found...

"Making resolutions is a cleansing ritual of self assessment and repentance that demands personal honesty and, ultimately, reinforces humility. Breaking them is part of the cycle." - Eric Zorn

So if I come up short again and again at conquering whatever it is I want to change or maturing into what I'd like to become, that's ok. I just have to pick myself up and try again. It is normal to break resolutions. The important part, I think, is to keep recommitting yourself, striving to be better. And of course, we probably shouldn't wait to re-evaluate ourselves once a year on December 31st either.

Shouldn't we constantly be evolving and maturing - working at becoming better versions of ourselves than the day before?

What say you people out there in cyber space? While you think about it, here are some additional quotes to ponder from some sacred scriptures.

"Arise, O people, and, by the power of God's might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies -- gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshipers. These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection. We cherish the hope that the Hand of Divine power may lend its assistance to mankind, and deliver it from its state of grievous abasement." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 93)

"Those who meditate with perseverance, constantly working hard at it, are the wise who experience Nirvana, the ultimate
freedom from chains.

When a man is resolute and recollected, pure of deed and persevering, when he is attentive and self-controlled and lives
according to the Teaching, his reputation is bound to grow.

By resolution and attention, by discipline and self-control, a clever man may build himself an island that no flood can
overthrow." (Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

"Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids.

Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." (King James Bible, Proverbs 6:4-11)

"He who has committed a sin and has repented, is freed from that sin, but he is purified only by (the resolution of) ceasing (to sin and thinking) 'I will do so no more.'

Having thus considered in his mind what results will arise from his deeds after death, let him always be good in thoughts, speech, and actions." (Hindu, 231-232 Laws of Manu)

"This is a brilliant century. Eyes are now open to the beauty of the oneness of humanity, of love and of brotherhood. The darkness of suppression will disappear and the light of unity will shine. We cannot bring love and unity to pass merely by talking of it. Knowledge is not enough. Wealth, science, education are good, we know: but we must also work and study to bring to maturity the fruit of knowledge.

Knowledge is the first step; resolve, the second step; action, its fulfillment, is the third step." (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 54)

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