January 31, 2012

world peace.. "Baha'u'llah: The Prince of Peace"

Baha'u'llah has proclaimed the Oneness of Humanity.  he proclaimed this Truth, this fundamental verity, over 150 years ago when the world still had slavery, in a land steeped in religious fanaticism and political corruption.  His Message brought a new Spirit into the world.  He asserted,
"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.."
this stupendous and immeasurable Message is a most brilliant light for the world -- both individually, as a guide for a high standard of moral conduct, and collectively, providing a plan and order for a world federation with every possible stipulation for the establishment of world peace.

David Hoffman, former member of the Universal House of Justice, wrote a book called, "Baha'u'llah, The Prince of Peace, A Portrait."  it is a wonderfully written book about the life and station of Baha'u'llah, as well as a comprehensive overview of what Baha'u'llah stipulates as the necessary conditions for the permanent establishment of world peace.  he draws upon the Baha'i Writings in a full yet succinct manner to explain the steps and details of a world system that will be established at the international level.  this is called the Lesser Peace, whereby laws are firmly in place to create order, justice and peace.  when the qualities of the human heart evolve to eliminate prejudice of all kinds, and a high standard of moral conduct is demonstrated in the character of humanity, then will the Most Great Peace be established sometime in the future..

 it was written in the 1992 so he often refers to the 20th Century.  this Message is just as valid and essential now,in the 21st Century:
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'The Kingdom of heaven is within you' is just as true today and forever as when Jesus taught it. The foundation of peace is in the human heart, whence it will spread out to all mankind.

As with everything to do with man, the solution to all his problems is spiritual. Baha'u'llah states that the first effulgence from the Book of God
is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth him to loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.  Having attained the stage of fulfillment and reached his maturity, man standeth in ned of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom, and especially in the eyes of servants who dedicate themselves to the education of the world and to the edification of its peoples.
A world economy is essential to a world society.  Baha'u'llah does not lay down any detailed system of world economics but does prescribe a few basic principles which economists may mould into a world pattern which would ameliorate the struggle for existence, lessen the huge gap between destitution and inordinate personal wealth, remove the constant recurrent crises in the world's economy and provide a just and satisfying distribution of the vast wealth available to man's cooperative ingenuity.

Baha'u'llah's economic principles include the following:
  • The greatest achievements of science and technology should be available to everyone.
  • All must work: no idle rich, no idle poor
  • Limitations of wealth and poverty: a basic minimum standard of living below which no one should recede and limitation of individual wealth.  We may comment on this that no individual should have to spend long hours of toil in return for an inadequate subsistence for himself and his dependents; no individual should be burdened with the administration and worry of inordinate wealth.  Human beings were created for higher and nobler pursuits.  Degrees of wealth are necessary and must be maintained.
  • The contest between capital and labour could be solved by all employees receiving, in addition to agreed wages, shares in the company for which they work.  They would then become part owners and strikes would be obviated.
Beyond these practical considerations which may inspire economists to devise good housekeeping arrangements for a world society, Baha'u'llah has elevated every individual's contribution tot he work of the world to the status of worship of God.  This vision of the human race, rising every day, first to remember God and pray and then to set about the day's work with a zeal impelled by the knowledge that dedication to that work is worship of God, is beyond the imagination of twentieth century minds to conceive.  Yet so it shall be, for the power of the Holy Spirit will accomplish it.

The Lesser Peace must not only calm the raging fury of the present time but must pave the way for the initiation of those processes which will, with the help of God, eventually and inevitably lead to the Most Great Peace.  In His reply to a letter which the Executive Committee of the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, The Hague, wrote to Him during World War 1, Abdu'l-Baha pointed out that world peace was not a simple or a single subject, and that if they concentrated solely on the cessation of fighting, they could not achieve more than a temporary result.  He referred them to Baha'u'llah's teachings on universal peace, given 'fifty years ago' and sent to 'the great sovereigns of the world'.  He enumerated, with comment, many other considerations which would fill out the structure of the Most Great Peace.

Education is a vital part of the Baha'i peace programme -- education, universal and compulsory.  A universal curriculum must contain some obligatory items and also be adaptable to differing needs.  For instance, everyone must learn two languages, the mother tongue and an international language to be chosen from among the existing ones or a new one to be invented.  Reading and writing in both will not only preserve local culture and the rich literatures of the world, but use of the universal language will greatly help to demolish age-old barriers to friendship and understanding and to foster a sense of world citizenship.  The oneness of mankind must be taught in all the schools of the world; likewise the nature of man and 'those things which lead to loftiness and honour', the eternal verities of religion.  Not the creeds and rituals and invented dogmas and doctrines, but reverence for God, uprightness, truthfulness, honesty, trustworthiness, fortitude, courtesy nad modesty, all those divine characteristics which are at such discount today.  Baha'u'llah's Tablet Words of Paradise contains the following:
'Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God  may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.'
With the will to do it and with funds available from former defence budgets it would be possible to eliminate illiteracy by the end of this century and instill into new generations the elements of good character.

Baha'u'llah disclosed three essential unities which embrace and sustain all those principles which constitute World Order, the final shape of mankind's ordered life on this planet.  Within that Order humanity may make infinite progress, towards the image of God individually and the Kingdom of God socially.  Both processes envision a never-ending refinement of the soul of man as he penetrates ever more deeply the mystery of his own nature and his society reflects ever more brilliantly the grandeur, the vitality, the felicity of the Most Great Peace.

The three unities stressed by Baha'u'llah are
The oneness of God
The oneness of mankind
The oneness of religion
About the first unity there can be little or no discussion.  If God exists there is only one.  If there were more neither would be God.  Men's ideas and concepts inevitably vary...but these do not affect the reality of the First Cause, the Primal Will, the Pre-Existent Creator.

About the second and third unities there is a great deal of misapprehension, disunity, conflict, prejudice, bitterness and all uncharitableness.  Yet Baha'u'llah has been able to inculcate in His followers an abiding and joyful recognition of them both.  As His Cause grows in numbers and influence there is hope that the most inveterate barriers to human unity may be overcome, not alone by dread of the dire consequences which result from persistence in them, but more positively by the increasing spread of the knowledge of divine love, poured out in overflowing measure by Baha'u'llah as attested by the sufferings which He willingly accepted and the infinite compassion of His revelation.  He wrote that He had
'consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty.  He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness.  This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful.  We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions that ye might prosper and flourish.'

January 30, 2012

spiritual parenting notes: from Mr. Furutan's book, "Mothers, Fathers & Children"

i found 2 pages of notes today that i wrote many years ago about spiritual parenting.  they are taken from Mr. Furutan's book, "Mothers, Fathers and Children".  i loved that book!  we gave it away to a friend when it was time for us to leave America.

Mr. Furutan was a psychologist and a very deepened Baha'i who served as a Hand of the Cause of God for many years until he passed away in 2003.  these notes have proven invaluable to us as parents as we've striven to raise our children.  even writing these notes down today inspired me to be more kind, more patient, more forbearing..

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  •  treat child's demands in such a way that child's pride and determination are not wounded and weakened..you do not let him get carried away by his selfish desires and grow up to be autocratic and dictatorial
  • determine which demands are reasonable and logical and which are unacceptable and harmful
  • vow not to block any reasonable and logical demands which the child may have, and do not give into inappropriate, unreasonable or harmful demands
  • be strict and systematic:
    • give consent to reasonable requests with utmost kindness and forbearance, but never submit to his harmful wishes
    • child will learn that his demands fall into 2 categories: worthy and unworthy
  • teach child through utmost patience and forbearance
    • patiently and tolerantly answer questions and explain the outside world to child as far as possible, using simple words (like Abdu'l-Baha)
    • never deride child's questions
  • inappropriate praise and admiration of a child leads him into complacency and pride, and can ruin his morals and behavior
  • encouragement and expressions of appreciation should not be confused with unwarranted admiration
    • good acts merit appreciation appreciation, while exaggerated praise and excessive admiration are both blameworthy and harmful
  • immediately distract child with more interesting things to protect him from a dangerous action, rather than taking forcible measures
  • extreme strictness and always being on his back with inappropriate regulations and restraints makes a child nervous and then rebellious
  • train in such a way that the slightest lack of attention is in itself the greatest punishment
    • this goal can only be achieved through kindness and use of soft speech
  • under no circumstances whatsoever should we assume any attitude except that of gentleness and humility
  • when joking is carried too far, it will overstep bounds of courtesy and dignity
    • child eventually becomes rude, insolent and cheeky toward adults
    • leads innocent child into impropriety
      • injury may result from his offensive words
    • is a habit which leads to excess
    • attracts children toward buffoonery and introduces them into a society as light-minded, undignified and discourteous
  • when children are shown no respect by other people, their delicate, sensitive hearts will be injured by sarcastic words (which they don't realize are meant to be a joke)
    • their souls will become saddened and vexed
    • they will become accustomed to insults and abuse
      • these have innumerable, pernicious effects on their development
  • teasing should be done away with altogether
  • adults should converse with children with the utmost love, affection, respect, politeness, and dignity, and in simple language
    • in accordance with their capacities and level of comprehension
    • increase the child's limited knowledge as much as possible in that brief conversation
    • if they want to make them happy, tell a fascinating story
      • children thirst for new and beneficial information, but they want adults to use simple and understanding language in their explanations
    • rarely do children avoid listening to serious subjects that are made understandable to them
    • instead of talking nonsense and joking, and having empty conversations with children, explain essential matters to them, using easy to understand language and employing many examples
      • this will make children better informed and instill into them the desire to seek out knowledge, to investigate scientific subjects, and to think and reason logically