Tag Archives: Bicentenary 2017

“Bahá’í view on The Life of the Spirit and Power of Prayer” Presentation Sunday Aug 20, 2017

 

Continuing with our efforts of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh, Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on some insights from the Bahá’í Faith . A presentation is planned as a public events on Sunday Aug 20  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts about the Bahá’í view on The Life of the Spirit and Power of Prayer.

“Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit…”— Bahá’u’lláh

Baha’u’llah’s Revelation affirms that the purpose of our lives is to know God and to attain His presence. Our true identity is our soul, whose free will and powers of understanding enable us to continually better ourselves and our society. Walking a path of service to God and to humanity gives life meaning and prepares us for the moment the soul separates from the body and continues on its eternal journey towards its Maker. 

The soul has its origin in the spiritual worlds of God. It is exalted above matter and the physical world. The individual has his beginning when the soul, coming from these spiritual worlds, associates itself with the embryo at the time of conception. But this association is not material; the soul does not enter or leave the body and does not occupy physical space. The soul does not belong to the material world, and its association with the body is similar to that of a light with a mirror which reflects it. The light which appears in the mirror is not inside it; it comes from an external source. Similarly, the soul is not in the body; there is a special relationship between it and the body, and together they form a human being.

There is a very special relationship between the soul and the body, which together form a human being. This relationship lasts only the span of a mortal life. When this ceases, each one returns to its origin, the body to the world of dust and the soul to the spiritual worlds of God. Having emanated from the spiritual realms, created in the image and likeness of God, and capable of acquiring divine qualities and heavenly attributes, the soul, after its separation from the body, progresses for all of eternity.

Bahá’u’lláh says:

“And now concerning thy question regarding the soul of man and its survival after death. 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 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.”

 Bahá’u’lláh says:

“The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol … Whoso hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth’s loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.”

Prayer helps us to advance towards God and not lose sight of our special destiny. This is why we should pray constantly that through the love of God our souls may develop and be strengthened, and that we may firmly walk the path of eternal happiness with steadfastness.

From the Baha’i writing we get a deeper appreciation for prayer here are few quotes:

There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer. Man must live in a state of prayer. The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication. Prayer is conversation with God. The greatest attainment or the sweetest state is none other than conversation with God. It creates spirituality, creates mindfulness and celestial feelings, begets new attractions of the Kingdom and engenders the susceptibilities of the higher intelligence.”

“In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven … When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult it is to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him. … The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.”

“If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he should wish to say so? Though he knows that that friend is aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? … It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man’s love of God.”      Abdu’l-Bahá

Since our purpose is to know God and develop our capacities through the teachings and guidance provided by His Manifestations and Divine educators who appeared at various times in the history of mankind, it becomes our duty to investigate and recognize the Divine Educator of our time. We also need to pray with absolute sincerity for God to show us the right path. Bahá’u’lláh  declared that He is that Manifestation of God, that Divine Educator which was promised in all the scriptures of the past and all prophecies were fulfilled by His coming and his teachings and guidance are the remedy needed so desperately for the world today.

We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.

Festival of Ridván Declaration of Bahá’u’lláh; Promised One of All Ages

Festival of Ridván is the twelve day period commemorating Bahá’u’lláh’s announcement of his claim to prophethood and his departure from Baghdad in 1863, observed from  20 April  to 1 May.

The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridván are major Bahá’í Holy days on which work should be suspended. Bahá’í administrative elections are normally held during Ridvan as well. The name derives from the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during this period and to which he gave the name Ridván meaning  Paradise.

On the first day  small group of followers and Bahá’u’lláh made it across the Tigris River and settled at the “Najibiyyih” garden where Bahá’u’lláh stayed for twelve days accompanied by His closest followers and friends before He departed to Constantinople (Istanbul) where He was being further exiled by the Ottoman Empire.

The closest friends and followers wept after giving farewell; after all Bahá’u’lláh had spend almost two years in Baghdad where He had won the love and respect of the citizens of Baghdad for His wisdom, guidance and exemplary character.

These twelve days are known by Bahá’ís the “Festival of Ridván” and it is celebrated all over the world with the same joy and happiness as the early believers did during those 12 days.  It is during this period that Bahá’u’lláh revealed to His followers and the world that He was the promised one of God foretold in all the Holy scriptures of the past. Bahá’u’lláh states: “He Who is the Desire of all nations hath shed upon the kingdoms of the unseen and of the seen the splendor of the light of His most excellent names, and enveloped them with the radiance of the luminaries of His most gracious favors – favors which none can reckon except Him.”

This is the Day  Baha’u’llah said where all the attributes of God have been cast over the entire creation; meaning, every human being is capable by the grace of God to mold his character and manifest the most sublimes qualities and attributes such as  justice, love, compassion and generosity.

For Bahá’ís this is an special occasion to show hospitality and love to their neighbors, friends and acquaintances; as they try to follow the beautiful example and the will of their beloved Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God).

As we go about our daily lives we remember the words written by Bahá’u’lláh before His departure commanding all of those who have recognized Him to attract the hearts of men through the word of God.    For that reason, Bahá’ís everywhere, invite their friends and acquaintances to small gatherings where they can to explore the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and together built communities that can progress spiritually and materially.

Four portals of community development are offered as we try to build a new civilization: children classes, the junior youth program, devotional gatherings and the study circles. These are community building programs that essentially empower individuals to affect change by actively participating in the social transformation of their communities.

About the individual Bahá’u’lláh states:  “Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” Hence man is this inestimable gem that only through polishing will reveal its beauty. As a protagonist he is aware of himself; as he molds his spiritual life, he shapes its surrounding environment, as both are affected one by the other, that is the meaning of “worship and service”  in the Bahá’í Faith.

We are here in this plane of existence to carry forward an ever advancing civilization that can progress materially and spiritually.  Increasing capacity at the individual and community level is a way to build an equitable and just society avoiding the pit falls of “us” and “them” or the notion of “advantage” and “disadvantage” groups or individuals.

Revealing about the greatness of this Day Bahá’u’lláh said: “Verily I say, this is the Day in which mankind can behold the Face, and hear the Voice, of the Promised One. The Call of God hath been raised, and the light of His countenance hath been lifted up upon men. It behoveth every man to blot out the trace of every idle word from the tablet of his heart, and to gaze, with an open and unbiased mind, on the signs of His Revelation, the proofs of His Mission, and the tokens of His glory”.

Festival of Ridván May 1, 2017.
Festival of Ridván May 1, 2017.

We will be celebrating this great Festival on May 1, 2017. We  invite you to join us. Please drop us a line and RSVP by April 20, 2017.

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“Bahá’u’lláh – Manifestation of God for Our Time” presentation Sunday May 21, 2017

Continuing with the same theme of raising awareness about the Bahá’í Faith and Bahá’u’lláh, Ajax Bahá’í community would like to welcome our neighbors to another event this time focusing on the person of Bahá’u’lláh. A presentation is planned as a public events on Sunday May 21 from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts on this theme.

Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) taught that there is one God Who, through a series of divine teachers, has revealed His immeasurable love for humanity and His will for human spiritual progress. These teachings have been the chief civilizing force in history. While the bulk of humanity has seen these successive divine revelations as separate, irreconcilable religious systems, Bahá’u’lláh taught that, in fact, they have all served the common purpose of bringing the human race to spiritual and moral maturity. The central theme of Bahá’u’lláh‘s message is that humanity is one single race and that the day promised by all the world’s religions for its unification into one global family has come. 

 “There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God.”                                                                   Bahá’u’lláh

Bahá’u’lláh was born a Persian prince, heir to great wealth and a position in the court of the shah. Because of His teachings, He was stripped of his title, tortured, imprisoned, and exiled from his homeland. Tens of thousands of the earliest believers were tortured and killed for believing that God had sent a new messenger to help humanity progress to a new level of spiritual development.  

Bahá'u'lláh's Exile- From Persia to Baghdad to Akka
Bahá’u’lláh’s Exile- From Persia to Baghdad to Akka

 

The persecution and sacrifices of those thousands drew the attention of the world, invoking admiration and comment from such contemporary figures as Leo Tolstoy and Sarah Bernhardt. During the forty years of his exile and imprisonment Bahá’u’lláh wrote over 100 volumes. These works constitute the foundation of the Bahá’í scriptures and the bedrock of the Bahá’í belief system. Bahá’u’lláh was eventually imprisoned in Akka, in what is now Israel.  

“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.” Bahá’u’lláh

If we study the story of the “ascent of man” as recorded in the pages of history, it becomes evident that the leading factor in human progress is the advent, from time to time, of persons who pass beyond the accepted ideas of their day and become the discoverers and revealers of truths hitherto unknown among mankind. The inventor, the pioneer, the genius, the Prophet — these are the people on whom the transformation of world primarily depends.  

In the history of science, of art, of music, we see abundant illustrations of this truth, but in no domain is the supreme importance of the great person and his message more clearly evident than in that of religion. All down the ages, whenever the spiritual life of humanity has become degenerate and their morals corrupt, that most wonderful Prophet, makes His appearance. Alone against the world, without a single human being capable of teaching, of guiding, of fully understanding Him, or of sharing His responsibility, He arises, like a seer among blind men, to proclaim His gospel of righteousness and truth.  

Amongst the Prophets some stand out with special pre-eminence. Every few centuries a great Divine Revealer — a Krishna, a Zoroaster, a Moses, a Jesus, a Muhammad — appears in the East, like a spiritual Sun, to illumine the darkened minds of men and awaken their dormant souls. Whatever our views as to the relative greatness of these religion-founders we must admit that They have been the most potent factors in the education of mankind.  

With one accord these Prophets declare that the words They utter are not from “Themselves, but are a Revelation through Them, a Divine message of which They are the bearers. Their recorded utterances abound, too, in hints and promises of a great world teacher Who will appear “in the fullness of time” to carry on Their work and bring it to fruition, One Who will establish a reign of peace and justice upon earth, and bring into one family all races, religions, nations, and tribes, that “there may be one fold and one shepherd” and that all may know and love God “from the least even unto the greatest.”  

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Surely the advent of this “Educator of Mankind,” in the latter days, when He appears, must be the greatest event in human history. And the Bahá’í Movement is proclaiming to the world the glad tidings that this Educator has in fact appeared, that His Revelation has been delivered and recorded and may be studied by every earnest seeker, that the “Day of the Lord” has already dawned and the “Sun or Righteousness” arisen. Some on the mountaintops have caught sight of the Glorious Orb, but already its rays are illumining heaven and earth, and erelong it will rise above the mountains and shine with full strength on the plains and valleys too, giving life and guidance to all. Invitation Public Event May 21 2017

For further reading please go to http://www.bahai.org/beliefs/god-his-creation/revelation/manifestations-god 

 We are looking forward to seeing you at the event.

 

 

(Material referenced from various Baha’i sources)

“Bahá’í Vision of Society – Oneness of Humanity” Presentation March 18, 2017

This is one more in series of public events that our community is offering this year to our neighbors in Ajax.  The event is on Saturday March 18  from 2-4 PM, at the Ajax Main Library (Rotary room). The program includes a short presentation and viewing of very short documentaries and then an open floor discussion and sharing of thoughts on such a profound subject.

A fundamental teaching of Bahá’u’lláh is the oneness of the world of humanity. Addressing mankind He says: “Ye are all leaves of one tree and the fruits of one branch.”

“..In the eyes of the Creator all His children are equal; His goodness is poured forth on all. He does not favor this nation nor that nation, all alike are His creatures. This being so, why should we make divisions, separating one race from another? Why should we create barriers of superstition and tradition bringing discord and hatred among the people?

The only difference between members of the human family is that of degree. Some are like children who are ignorant, and must be educated until they arrive at maturity. Some are like the sick and must be treated with tenderness and care. None are bad or evil! We must not be repelled by these poor children. We must treat them with great kindness, teaching the ignorant and tenderly nursing the sick.

Public Event March 18 2017 at Ajax Main Library
Public Event March 18 2017 at Ajax Main Library

Consider: Unity is necessary to existence. Love is the very cause of life; on the other hand, separation brings death. In the world of material creation, for instance, all things owe their actual life to unity. The elements which compose wood, mineral, or stone, are held together by the law of attraction. If this law should cease for one moment to operate these elements would not hold together, they would fall apart, and the object would in that particular form cease to exist. The law of attraction has brought together certain elements in the form of this beautiful flower, but when that attraction is withdrawn from this centre the flower will decompose, and, as a flower, cease to exist.

So it is with the great body of humanity. The wonderful Law of Attraction, Harmony and Unity, holds together this marvelous Creation.

As with the whole, so with the parts; whether a flower or a human body, when the attracting principle is withdrawn from it, the flower or the man dies. It is therefore clear that attraction, harmony, unity and Love, are the cause of life, whereas repulsion, discord, hatred and separation bring death.

We have seen that whatever brings division into the world of existence causes death. Likewise in the world of the spirit does the same law operate.

Therefore should every servant of the One God be obedient to the law of love, avoiding all hatred, discord, and strife. We find when we observe nature, that the gentler animals group themselves together into flocks and herds, whereas the savage, ferocious creatures, such as the lion, the tiger, and the wolf, live in wild forests, apart from civilization. Two wolves, or two lions, may live amicably together; but a thousand lambs may share the same fold and a large number of deer can form one herd. Two eagles can dwell in the same place, but a thousand doves can gather into one habitation.

Man should, at least, be numbered among the gentler animals; but when he becomes ferocious he is more cruel and malicious than the most savage of the animal creation!

Now Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed the ‘Unity of the World of Mankind’. All peoples and nations are of one family, the children of one Father, and should be to one another as brothers and sisters! I hope that you will endeavour in your lives to show forth and spread this teaching.

Bahá’u’lláh said that we should love even our enemies and be to them as friends. If all men were obedient to this principle, the greatest unity and understanding would be established in the hearts of mankind.”

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Paris Talks, Pages: 138-140)

 

What is Devotional Gathering?

What is a Devotional Gathering? What should I expect if I am invited to one?

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 A regular gathering of people from all faiths and backgrounds who come together in a locality to share prayers and worship. Often held in homes in a neighborhood. Devotional gatherings are considered an essential practice of the spiritual wellbeing of a community, and follow NO set form or rituals.

Bahá’ís and friends get together, often in their homes, in an atmosphere of joy and peacefulness, to read and meditate on inspiring teachings from the religions of the world. Each gathering has its own character, and may involve music or the arts if the host so chooses, but the underlying purpose is the same: to commune with the sacred and increase the devotional character of our homes and neighborhoods.

Every human being has a longing at the core of his/her heart to commune with its Maker. Collective worship in a diverse setting engenders spiritual susceptibilities, hence a more healthier and  united community.

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  • The purpose is to strengthen the neighborhood by focusing on friendship and unity.

Bahá’ís around the world are engaged in local grass-roots experiments in devotional gatherings. Devotion, prayer, meditation, and reflection lie at the heart of spiritual life. It is the main cornerstone block of community building activity.

There is no set form for such gatherings. There are no dogmas or rituals. These devotional gatherings are open to all and are intended to embrace that attitude of prayer and devotion that is universal to all religions. Music is often a component in the gatherings.

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People are welcome to simply sit, meditate and enjoy the spiritual atmosphere, or participate by reciting some of the readings or prayers. It may include reflection on the readings and normally ends with socialization and refreshments.

 

Significant Chronology of Events about life of Bahá’u’lláh

Map showing route of Bahá'u'lláh' s forced exile from His home
Map showing route of Bahá’u’lláh’ s forced exile from His home
  • Birth of Bahá’u’láh: 12 November 1817
  • Birth of the Báb: about 20 October 1819
  • Marriage of Bahá’u’láh’s and Asiyih Khanum: October 1835
  • Declaration of the mission of the Báb in Shiraz: 23 May 1844
  • Birth of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: 23 May 1844
  • Conference of Badasht: June 1848
  • Death of Muhammad Shah; Accession of Nasri’d-Din Shah: 4 September 1848
  • Beginning of the Mazandaran upheaval at Shaykh Tabarsi: 10 October 1848
  • Imprisonment in Amul: December 1848
  • End of the upheaval at Shaykh Tabarsi: 10 May 1849
  • Martyrdom of the Bab: 9 July 1850
  • Attempt on the life of Nasiri’d-Din Shah: 15 August 1852
  • Imprisonment in the Siyah-Chal of Tihran: August 1852
  • Banishment of Bahá’u’lláh to Baghdad: 12 January 1853
  • Withdrawal of Bahá’u’lláh to Kurdistan: 10 April 1854
  • Return of Bahá’u’lláh from Kurdistan: 19 March 1856
  • Public declaration of the mission of Bahá’u’lláh in the Garden of Ridvan in Baghdad: 22 April 1863
  • Departure from Garden of Ridvan for Constantinople: 3 May 1863
  • Arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in Constantinople: 16 August 1863
  • Arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in Adrianople: 12 December 1863
  • Departure of Bahá’u’lláh from Adrianople: 12 August 1868
  • Arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in ‘Akka: 31 August 1868
  • Death of Mirza Mihdi, the Purest Branch: 23 June 1870
  • Release from prison barracks to house within ‘Akka: 4 November 1870
  • Murder of Siyyid Muhammad and two of his companion Covenant-breakers in ‘Akka: 23 January 1872
  • Marriage of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and Munirih Khanum: August-September 1872
  • Revelation of the Kitab-i-Aqdas: 1873
  • Bahá’u’lláh’s departure from ‘Akka for the Mansion of Mazra’ih and His first visits to the Ridvan Garden: early June 1877
  • Bahá’u’lláh ‘s occupation of the Mansion of Bahji: September 1879
  • Visit by Bahá’u’lláh to Haifa: 1883
  • Death of Navvab in ‘Akka: 1886
  • Two visits by Bahá’u’lláh to Haifa; revelation of the Tablet of Carmel; and Bahá’u’lláh’s identification of the site of the future Shrine of the Báb: Spring 1890 and Summer 1891
  • Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation of Epistle to the Son of the Wolf: 1891
  • Revelation of the Kitab-i-‘Ahd, Bahá’u’lláh’s Book of the Covenant, the last Tablet revealed before His death: 1892
  • Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh: 29 May 1892