Friday, March 29, 2013

An Atheist: Baha'is “Instrumental” in Bringing People Together

The Baha'is in the northwest United States received this message from a self-described 'spiritual atheist.' The inquirer writes how the Baha'is were “instrumental” in bringing people together, and shares that many like him “would like to see more understanding among all of us.”
I am not interested in joining any group but I am interested in unity of a broad nature. Years ago the Bahai's were instrumental in bringing people of all faiths and beliefs together at the local county building. Is that happening anywhere in the area? Is it possible to have it happen again in our area? I am a spiritual atheist and it is possible. Do not laugh. And even so, there are those of my ilk who would like to see more understanding among all of us. Your group tried to do this in the past and I do think it did have somewhat of a positive effect. It would be great if a group like yours would spearhead something like this again. Just a suggestion. The world and it's people are growing more and more apart and if we do not do something to halt it we will be worse off for it. Just a thought.

In the Arabic Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah writes:

O CHILDREN OF MEN! 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. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest. Such is My counsel to you, O concourse of light! Heed ye this counsel that ye may obtain the fruit of holiness from the tree of wondrous glory.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Cancer Survivor: His demeanor, faith and character—just amazing

This is a story of a cancer survivor who, sadly, witnessed a Baha'i suffering from terminal cancer. The Baha'i chose to end treatment, knowing that his body would succumb.

The cancer survivor writes about this experience:

I am a cancer survivor and I am in a cancer support group. There is a friend within my group who has cancer and has been through many treatments. The time had come where treatment is no longer helping. He has decided to end treatment. This friend is a member of the Baha'i Faith. His demeanor, faith and character—it is just amazing. I have never seen anything like this. He is ready for his passing, smiles and talks about it.

The cancer survivor then requested information on the Baha'is in the vicinity.

In the Arabic Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah writes:

O Son of The Supreme! I have made death a messenger of joy to thee. Wherefore dost thou grieve? I made the light to shed on thee its splendor. Why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?

Friday, March 8, 2013

My life has changed since I found the Baha’i Faith…

Teaching the Baha’i Faith has much to do with listening to people, understanding their thoughts and needs, and knowing when and how to share.

Here is the story of a man who learned about the Baha’i Faith from a guest at the Caribbean island resort where he works. After years of struggle with substance abuse, he began a spiritual search that led eventually to several Baha’is. The story involves caring and generosity, and also ways to clearly and effectively present the Baha’i Teachings.

The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, Shoghi Effendi, referred to direct teaching as “an open and bold assertion of the fundamental verities of the Cause,” with the goal of helping “in the eventual recognition by all mankind of the indispensability, the uniqueness and the supreme station of the Baha’i Revelation.

To this guidance, the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States adds in its February 20, 2008 letter: “The choice of method lies with the teacher, who must act with wisdom in all circumstances, according to his or her perception of the seeker’s receptivity.

The seeker describes his past substance abuse and spiritual yearning, before learning about the Baha’i Faith:

For many years I had been searching for something to make me feel whole. I had always believed in God, but only called upon Him when I was deeply afraid or in bad trouble. (One day) I asked God for help. I told Him that I couldn't go on the way I was. That night I found myself in a hospital in the detox ward. (During therapy sessions) we often spoke of a Higher Power. I chose to call mine God. I attempted on a daily basis to get closer to God using prayer and meditation, but after six years I still felt something was missing. I needed something more.

In the course of his work on the island, he met a guest who is a Baha’i. Their friendship developed over time until she shared the Faith with him. Sensing his receptivity, the lady invited the seeker to her Latin American country for a visit. The seeker writes:

I'd never heard of it before. But every detail she revealed to me piqued my curiosity even further. I began to realize that this was what I'd been looking for all of this time. There was no aspect of the Baha’i Faith that I couldn't agree with. Some of their ideas I already believed in, others simply made perfect sense to me. She invited me to visit with her and some friends at her home. They are very spiritual people who made me feel so welcome. We had prayers every evening and I could feel my faith growing. My friend gave me some literature to study, one prayer book, and a meditation book.

After returning to his island, he was eager to meet more Baha’is. He searched an old phone book, and found a listing for the Baha’is on an island over 50 miles away. A Baha’i woman living there answered his telephone call.

I called and she was quite happy to hear from me. She was very interested in how I got her number. Apparently it wasn't in the newer phone books. She said it was more than a coincidence that I was able to get a hold of her. We talked for a bit, then she said a prayer over the phone. She also told me that there were two Bahai's on the island where I live. Since there are only about 150 people living here, I already knew them. We have started Ruhi together and I've been to their house for a Holy Day celebration.

The two Baha’is on the seeker’s home island also shared “Anna’s presentation” from Ruhi Book 6. In its February 20, 2008 letter, the U.S. National Spiritual Assembly writes:

Teachers in clusters around the world are finding “Anna’s presentation” from Book 6 of the Ruhi curriculum to be a helpful model for direct teaching. As teachers gain in experience, they learn to adapt the presentation according to individual circumstances. Yet the general content—comprehensive, clear, and forthright presentation, with a loving invitation to receptive souls to embrace the Faith—remains essentially the same.

This seeker gives a sincere account of the changes in his life after meeting Baha’is and investigating the Faith:

My life has changed so much for the better since I've found the Baha'i Faith. I no longer smoke cigarettes, or have anxiety problems that require medication. I have learned how damaging backbiting is and how important it is to avoid it at all costs. I understand the importance of daily prayer. I am no longer afraid of the future; I have some new-found life goals. My interest in helping my fellow man and especially those less fortunate than me has become a priority. I still have so much to learn, but I believe that is what life is about: always striving to learn more and become a better person.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Assisting Seekers of Truth – An “Amazing Experience,” Part 2

Last week the Teaching Blog shared the uplifting story of a woman who volunteered to contact seekers and accompany them on their spiritual journey. She shares:

I am an outgoing person and I cannot imagine a more exciting and rewarding service than assisting those who are seeking the Truth.

The Baha'i attempted to contact her next seeker three times—persistence—and finally left a message. She writes:

We spoke for 27 minutes and she thanked me over and over for leaving a message. It was as if she didn't know what to do next when she got the message. This seeker hesitated when I invited her to my home to learn about the Faith. So I invited her to a community center. When she understood where I live she said that she passed my neighborhood twice a week on the way to the local acupuncture school and that she lived very close to me. She was warming up!

The Baha'i then shared that her husband gives classes at the acupuncture school, and has a career with a government agency. Lo and behold, the seeker excitedly shared that her father works at that agency as well!

Suddenly, within a minute, I was no longer a stranger, the hesitation was gone and we talked about when she could come to my home. Again, it seemed that assistance from on high had unlocked the heart of the seeker.

She adds that:

One wonderful thing about the Seeker Response System is that it is local, we are neighbors with the seekers. So far it has not been difficult to find commonality and to overcome an initial lack of familiarity.

With the services that this Baha'i is giving to her community, can we not see what the Universal House of Justice speaks of in this passage? Regarding accompaniment, they write:

And in such a state souls labour together ceaselessly, delighting not so much in their own accomplishments but in the progress and services of others. So it is that their thoughts are centred at all times on helping one another scale the heights of service to His Cause and soar in the heaven of His knowledge.

The House of Justice emphasizes this growing practice by writing: “This is what we see in the present pattern of activity unfolding across the globe, propagated by young and old, by veteran and newly enrolled, working side by side.”

Thinking of the spiritual potential all around us, this Baha'i lady writes:

I am reminded that here in North America we are blessed by the footsteps of the Master and the knowledge that nowhere is the possibility for entry by troops greater than here. Please God we may achieve it!

And may we do so in that very spirit of love and sharing.