Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Fireside Blog

Those who follow this blog may realize by now that most of my inspiration comes from the teachings of the Baha’i Faith. Although the purpose of this blog is to promote world peace I don’t feel that this purpose can be achieved without reconciling the world’s religions. Some may justifiably argue that religion has been the cause of many wars and that it is detrimental to world peace. Many are familiar with John Lennon’s song, “Imagine,” were he states, “Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace.”
Man has twisted religion and made it a case for war. The original principles given us by the founders of all the major religions have been towards peace and unity. Somehow man has twisted that to mean, “kill anyone that doesn’t agree with you.”
Christ said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (Matthew 5:44)
‘Abdu’l-Bahá says, “Another fundamental announcement made by Bahá'u'lláh is that religion must be the source of unity and fellowship in the world. If it is productive of enmity, hatred and bigotry, the absence of religion would be preferable. This is a new principle of revelation found only in the utterances of Bahá'u'lláh.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 434)
My goal here is not to convert, but to reconcile and promote love and unity between all groups, be they religious, nationalistic, political, racial, economic or any other. I prefer to think of myself as belonging to the human race, the religion of God, and the nation of the World. Whatever groups you identify yourself with, it is important to realize that others also have a right to existence and a right to live in a peaceful, secure manner.
Since my desire is to promote world peace and also to promote the Ancient Faith of God, I have started a new blog. Thus I will have this one to promote peace and the other one to promote religion. It is simply called Fireside and is a place where anyone can go to share ideas about the Baha’i Faith. Fireside is a name that has been given to informal Baha’i meetings were people gather to learn about and explore the principles of the Baha’i Faith. My Fireside Blog is a cyber version of such a meeting. The atmosphere is informal and invites comments from all. You can visit the fireside blog at http://fireside9.blogspot.ca/.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Establishing World peace in my Heart

Establishing World peace in my Heart

Man must spiritually perceive that religion has been intended by God to be the means of grace, the source of life and cause of agreement. If it becomes the cause of discord, enmity and hatred, it is better that man should be without it. For in its teachings we seek the spirit of charity and love to bind the hearts of men together. If, on the contrary, we find it alienates and embitters human hearts, we are justified in casting it aside. Therefore, when man through sincere investigation discovers the fundamental reality of religion, his former prejudices disappear, and his new condition of enlightenment is conducive to the development of the world of humanity.
               (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 327)
When we talk of the cause of world peace, many feel that religion is detrimental to its establishment. Yet the religion of God teaches us to Love.
From the Christian perspective we have the following words of Jesus:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
        (New Testament, Matthew 5:43 - 48)
In the light of these teachings it may be asked, “Why has man used religion as an excuse for war?”
Religion, in its pure form, is very powerful and exerts a great influence on humanity. As humans we recognize this. A common ailment among humans is greed and selfishness. When man sees the influence of religion he realizes that he can use it for his own personal gain. Thus he waters it down, corrupts it and twist the meaning to justify his own actions and attain personal benefits. Now religious leaders differ in their interpretations and sects are formed. In order to promote their own beliefs they concentrate on their differences, interpreting scripture to show that their own beliefs are correct and all others are wrong. Soon the uniting message from God is lost and humans are caught up in bickering and disputes, escalating until they are at war.
One thing I’ve learned from my study of psychology and observation of human behaviour is that a person becomes very upset when something he believes is challenged. If someone disagrees with something we know to be true, it does not matter, but if we begin to doubt our belief, watch out. One will dispute, argue, and bicker until he is blue in the face to prove that he is right, not because he needs to convince the other person, but because he needs to convince himself.
Personally I use this information to create peace in my own life. If I begin to feel irritated by something someone says I immediately examine my own belief system to see if there is a reason for doubt.
Religious belief is passed down from generation to generation. Beliefs are taught from infancy. Many times, by the time we become adults, we have acquired much hand me down knowledge that doesn’t make sense, yet we will hold to it because it is what we were taught all our lives.
A challenge to what we believe is usually first countered by trying to convince the other party to agree with us. When that fails humans have a history of becoming more and more forceful in their methods. If it becomes impossible to force the other to change, then they must be eliminated. Why? Simply because we are insecure in what we believe.
So what is the formula to end war?
First: It is to recognize that others are not responsible for our hatred, but that it is a reaction to our own insecurities.
Second: When we can’t agree we can agree to disagree and still respect each other.
Third: We must recognize that our enemy only wants to kill us because they see us as a threat in much the same way that we see them as a threat. If we can assure them that we mean them no harm they are likely to do us no harm.
Fourth: If we can forget everything we’ve been taught and investigate our own religion in its own pure form we can learn to love even our enemies. We need to differentiate between the Word of God and that which man says about the Word of God. When we are clear on the pure teachings of our own religion, we must look for similarities and commonalities between it and other religions. In this way we will find that which unites and avoid that which divides.
10:7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.  All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
        (New Testament, John 10: 7 - 11)
Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness.
        (Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)
CXXV. O My brother! When a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading unto the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this Day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the Divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error.
        (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 264)
My goal is to establish peace in the world. I only control one heart, and that is my own. If I can be at peace with myself and every soul I encounter throughout my life, world peace can be established. If not in the hearts of all mankind, it can at least be established in my heart.
I invite everyone to do the same. It is easier to be at peace when everyone desires peace. When you establish peace in your heart it influences my heart and makes it easier for me to maintain peace within myself. This cannot be legislated. It cannot be enforced. It is only when every individual decides to desire peace that peace in the entire world can become reality. This may seem impossible and it is without me. I would hate it to be said that I am the one that is keeping peace from being complete, so I am taking no chances. I have dedicated my heart to peace. Let me know if you agree.