Being is more than just believing

Sometimes an insight comes immediately after hearing an inspiring thought; sometimes it takes time. Yesterday I attended a wonderful tutor encounter — a gathering of people who facilitate Baha’i classes and share thoughts and inspiration of how to become better at sharing Baha’u’llah’s healing message. I was particularly struck by Riva’s observation that the institute process is a tool for spiritual transformation on an individual and community level and how the litmus test of faith is having it become your daily life.

It was exactly 18 years ago (probably to the day) that over a phone call to Odessa, the former Soviet Union, I declared: “I want to be a Baha’i”. This morning I was reflecting on the meaning of that declaration and the fact that the declaration of Faith starts with the belief in Baha’u’llah. But it does not stop there. The declaration card itself emphasizes the importance of recognizing principles, institutions and laws that must be obeyed. So my reflection this morning was on how critical it is to bridge the gap between intent and action. How different a belief would be if left as a belief alone, with no action. How being is more than just believing.

Now symbolically entering the age of spiritual maturity, 18 years after that fateful declaration, I am reflecting on it again and confirming that yes, I do want to be a Baha’i, in the being sense of the word, just as Abdu’l-Baha advised upon his departure from this country:

Now the time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies; in spirit we are united. Ye are the lights which shall be diffused; ye are the waves of that sea which shall spread and overflow the world. Each wave is precious to me, and my nostrils shall be gladdened by your remembrance. Another commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another even as I love you. Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condition; that their hearts be filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect harmony and kindness like one soul in different bodies. Never forget this; look at one another with the eye of perfection; look at me, follow me, be as I am; take no thought for yourselves or your lives, whether ye eat or whether ye sleep, whether ye are comfortable, whether ye are well or ill, whether ye are with friends or foes, whether ye receive praise or blame; for all these things ye must care not at all. Look at me and be as I am; ye must die to yourselves and to the world, so ye shall be born again and enter the kingdom of heaven. Behold the candle, how it gives light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame of light. The time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies; in spirit we are united forever.

I say unto you that any one who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time shall be filled with the spirit of God, and that He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be impossible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a Covenant between you and me: that ye have faith; that you faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end; even should ye hear that your Lord has been crucified, be not shaken in your faith; for I am with you always, whether living or dead; I am with you to the end. As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the standard — this is the standard — this is the standard.
(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 503)

9 Responses to “Being is more than just believing

  • so true! thanks for the selection from the Master’s writing my friend; i had never read this before.

  • gloria guffey
    12 years ago

    Not sure why I am writing, but I had just sent part of the writing refered to above, (that I use as a prayer, given to me as a prayer, over 50 years ago) dated Mitko on Sep 22nd 2008 , to a friend who immediately sent this post, which I so welcomed. But here is where it gets strange, there was another post with reference to Becky Murphey, # Befriended Stranger » The silent lesson of Becky Murphy on 26 Nov 2008 at 8:24 pm————-and if that is the same Becky Murphy that use to live in Alaska, heard that prayer at our home when she came to firesides when she was at the University……………THERE ARE MANY SILENT LESSONS, IN THIS WORLD AND SO MANY ARE WOVEN WITH OUT KNOWING!

  • Just came over this post, Mitko! I notice that we found the faith just about at the same time, in spring 1990 (me in Bergen, Norway). I’m glad to share the Journey! 🙂

  • Readers here might enjoy what is, as far as I know, the most extensive analysis of the new Baha’i paradigm of learning and growth. I posted an introduction to the paradigmatic shift in the Baha’i community, the new culture of learning and growth that is at the heart of this paradigm, 18 to 24 months ago. I did this posting at several internet sites. It seemed like a good idea to give readers some specific steps on how to access this now revised article/essay at Baha’i Library Online(BLO). At the core of my post are some of the ideas in this thread.

    In that two year period there have been many thousand views of my article at the few sites where it has been posted. In addition to googling “Baha’i Culture of Learning and Growth” and accessing my article in the process, readers can take the following steps to access my article at BLO: (i) type Baha’i Library Online or Baha’i Academics Resource Library into your search engine; (ii) click on the small box “By author” at the top of the access page at BLO; (iii) type “Price” into the small box that then appears and click on the word “Go;” and then (iv) scroll down to article/document item #46 and (v) click on that item and read to your heart’s content. When your eyes and your mind start to glaze over, stop reading. The article can be downloaded free and you will then have access to a revised article, a 150 page, 70,000 word context for all this new paradigmatic terminology that has come into the Baha’i community in the last 13 years.

    The statement is a personal one, does not assume an adversarial attitude, attempts to give birth of as fine an etiquette of expression as I can muster and, I like to think, possesses both candour and critical thought on the one hand and praise and delight at the process on the other. I invite readers to what I also like to think is “a context on which relevant fundamental questions” regarding this new paradigm may be discussed within the Baha’i community. It is also my intention to update this article in the months and years ahead. One of the advantages of the BLO site is the freedom it gives to a writer to update the article right on the site in an ongoing process as new insights from major thinkers in the Baha’i community and information from the elected and appointed institutions of the Cause comes to hand.

    If time and the inclination permit, check it out. No worries, no obligation, just if it interests you. You may find the piece of writing too long as I’m sure many readers do. After a few paragraphs of reading, you will get the flavour of the exercise. Just keep reading if your mind and spirit are enjoying the process.-Ron in Tasmania

  • This article is now a small book of 200 pages and 93,000 words. In this revised form it is still at BLO and can be accessed asadvised above. In the two years that this article, now a book, has been on the internet, it has received several thousand clicks–one way the ‘success’ of a piece of writing is measured these days. The article has received both praise and criticism. The main problem for many readers is its length. For such readers I advise:

    (a) they skim and scan the book; and
    (b) they stop reading when their eyes start to glaze over.

    -Ron in Tasmania

  • Gloria Guffey
    10 years ago

    I recieved that little book from a friend in 2003, while undegoing treatment for ptsd. I have most of it memorized now so i flip the pages in my mind’s eye. I have passed it on to my big sister, whom has some issues of her own as she is aware of some of my issues, and what created them. As I told her, it is time to find your strength in god again, as there are many things in the course of our lives which if we try to handle them on our own, they will always be a problem. I myself. have an idea of why you wrote your message on that day, it isn’t important why, it is just important that a connection was made. All of us are merely friends in passing in the journey of life. Some of us leave a noted landmark, which helps another find a light in the path, where the journey is dark, and we can find no light of our own, because we forget the light is inside.

    May your journey be blessed.

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