Since I’m sharing the most important aspects of my life on this blog, it would be incomplete if I didn’t include spirituality. I know many people start squirming when religion and spirituality are brought up, but I really enjoy exploring matters of faith. So I invite you to join me as I document some elements of my spiritual journey. A little background:
I was raised in a Baha’i family, and though it definitely provided my spiritual foundation, that’s not the reason I’m a Baha’i. (If you don’t know what a Baha’i is, here’s a link.) One of the central teachings of the Baha’i Faith is the independent investigation of truth – that every person has the right and responsibility to seek out truth and embrace it when they find it.
In that spirit, I took a few years in my early 20s to step back from the faith, examine it from different angles, and explore other ways of living. That was a weird time in my life. I had always felt very spiritually connected, but I needed to prove to myself that my faith was my own – that it was something I chose deliberately, and didn’t just fall into by the happenstance of my birth. I’m still not sure I went about that in the right way (if there is such a thing), but I did learn a great deal about the world and what I wanted out of this life during that time. And I ultimately ended up where I started, only with a satchel full of wisdom and experience that has deepened and informed my adult faith.
So I’ll be sharing snippets here and there on my blog about my spiritual musings and activities. I’m a collector of quotes, so I’ll share some of the ones I find most inspiring. I also work for a Baha’i children’s magazine called Brilliant Star, a job which combines writing, spirituality, and the education of children. (Uh, can we say “big honking blessing?”) So I’ll be chatting about that as well.
And if you want to get a feel for the essence of what it is to be a Baha’i, this excerpt from a talk of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the son of the Founder of the Baha’i Faith, is a good start. I’m sure none of us has succeeded in reaching this standard of living completely, but it’s a wonderful ideal to strive for:
You must manifest complete love and affection toward all mankind.
Do not exalt yourselves above others, but consider all as your equals, recognizing them as the servants of one God.
Know that God is compassionate toward all; therefore, love all from the depths of your hearts, prefer all religionists before yourselves, be filled with love for every race, and be kind toward the people of all nationalities.
Never speak disparagingly of others, but praise without distinction.
Pollute not your tongues by speaking evil of another.
Recognize your enemies as friends, and consider those who wish you evil as the wishers of good. You must not see evil as evil and then compromise with your opinion, for to treat in a smooth, kindly way one whom you consider evil or an enemy is hypocrisy, and this is not worthy or allowable. You must consider your enemies as your friends, and look upon your evil-wishers as your well-wishers and treat them accordingly.
Act in such a way that your heart may be free from hatred. Let not your heart be offended with anyone.
If someone commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.
Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them, and if you wish to give admonition or advice, let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the bearer.
Turn all your thoughts toward bringing joy to hearts. Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart.
Assist the world of humanity as much as possible.
Be the source of consolation to every sad one, assist every weak one, be helpful to every indigent one, care for every sick one, be the cause of glorification to every lowly one, and shelter those who are overshadowed by fear.
In brief, let each one of you be as a lamp shining forth with the light of the virtues of the world of humanity.
Be trustworthy, sincere, affectionate and replete with chastity.
Be illumined, be spiritual, be divine, be glorious, be quickened of God, be a Baha’i.
– ‘Abdu’l-Baha Dec. 2, 1912