(1) Complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset,is...essentially a period of
(4)Spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to (5)make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to
(6)Refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character.
Fasting is symbolic, and a
(7)reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.
Please enjoy the audio recordings of our three 'Fasting is more than just not eating' reflections on FHU Mondays, February 13, 20, and 27, 2023
FOR INDIVIDUAL STUDY DURING THE SEASON OF RESTRAINT
This is the time of the Fast, and FHU will be on a "pre-spring break" from March 2, to March 27, 2023 to allow everyone the time to go inward, spiritually recuperate, pray, meditate, and to make the necessary changes in their inner lives. Please note audio for the slides appear below the handout to accompany your study of the Fast.
Fasting is more than just not eating with Barbara Talley. A special shout-out to Eugene Dixon for parsing the presentation into sections for me so I could upload and describe.
Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longinglyto the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrappedin the mesh
“Purify thy servants from the love of aught except Thee”
“Draw them nigh unto the Dawning Place of lights of Thy Countenance and the Seat of the Throne of Thy Oneness”
“Illumine their hearts, O My God, with the light of Thy knowledge”
“Brighten their faces with the rays of the Daystar of Thy Will.”
“Accept the fast of those who have
1.have fasted for love of Thee and for the sake of Thy good-pleasure and have carried out what Thou hast bidden them in Thy Books and Tablets. Blessed is he that observed the fast wholly for Thy sake, and with absolute detachment from all things except Thee”
“Thou has endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee, Whose knowledge embraceth all created things.”
“Rain down, then, upon us and upon them from the clouds of Thy mercy what beseemeththe heaven of the bounteousnessand grace.
The spiritual fasting comes first, and is the soul's refusal or denial of all kinds of evil actions and habits -- this is the important fasting. The bodily fasting or abstinence from food, is a sign or witness to the inward fasting, and is of no value by itself.
Besides all this, prayer and fasting is the cause
of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests....
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 368)
“Through it (meditation) he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit”
1. Likewisethe Holy Spirit is the very cause of the life of man; 2.without the Holy Spirit he would have no intellect, 3.he would be unable to acquire his scientific knowledge
The House of Justice suggests that for their private meditations they may wish to use the repetition of the Greatest Name, Allah-u-Abha, ninety-five times a day…
The Word of God is the storehouse of all good, all power and all wisdom.
"There is but one power which heals -- that is God. The state or condition through which the healing takes place is the confidence of the heart.
By some this state is reached through pills, powders, and physicians. By others through hygiene, fasting, and prayer. By others through direct perception."
"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example,
as these are the tangible results of the former.
We can get pretty frustrated waiting on the world to change and fearing that we are doomed, if it doesn't! But, what if this outward focus on trying to change the world first is the problem? What if there is a better way that is more within our sphere of control or influence? What if we are the answer we seek? Remember the Double Crusade?
We know that Oneness is the final destination or goal, but what if Oneness was the source and path too? We know that the pivot round which revolves all the teachings of Baha'u'llah is the Oneness of Humanity.
But, what does Oneness really mean? Is it a cognitive acceptance that we are cut from the same cloth, are the leaves of one tree, the drops of one ocean, or does it go deeper? Is it accepting or at the very least, tolerating differences? What is the affective expression of Oneness? What if the starting point was purifying our own hearts from everything that separates us?
When reflecting, I came across this talk from 'Abdul-Baha that gave me a deeper understanding of what oneness means. (Another of those seventy and one meanings.) I have always thought about oneness as looking outward and enlarging my circle of inclusiveness first, but now I see that oneness begins WITHIN me! In the excerpts below shared in a talk, 'Abdul-Baha explains that the greater barrier of class (economics), the "have" or "have not" or in his words, "possession" or "non-possession" are greater than nationality, color, or race which we tend to "continually cast" our eyes upon. Whew!!!!
Abdul-Baha continues guiding us to do the hardest work and look within explaining, "that part of the universe that it took the longest to reach was the universe within. And as 'Alí has so beautifully and so inspiringly said, "Why worriest thou when in thee is being unfolded the universe?"
He continues clarifying: "The oneness of the world of humanity can be found FIRST of all in the CONQUEST OF SELF WITHIN YOU! Selfishness, pride, vain-glory, social distinction, intellectual superiority, material acquirement.
These are the two great classes today, yet our eyes are continually cast upon regions, divisions geographical, racial, of nations and colours, and so forth, notwithstanding the fact that the barrier is greater in that of possession than that of non-possession, of materiality than of spirituality."
(SOW - Star of the West, Star of the West - 6)
Ok, let's let that sink in. Oneness starts within and that must be our goal and vision. We change the world by first changing ourselves. We are all energy, and when we get into the frequency of what we want to attract, we become powerful and others are transformed by being around us. We dissipate our energies seeking validation, understanding, acceptance, compassion, support, justice, and inclusion from those who are materially minded. That energy is best spent transforming ourselves and building our spiritual energy reserves. In that state we will attract like minded spiritual beings regardless their color, nationality, or class.
The Bible says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish, and clearly people are perishing because they don't have a unifying vision to hold them together. The world and everything in it is held together by the power of love and attraction. We must have and share this higher vision of Oneness and begin within! As servants of God for this day, we must do whatever we can to bring about the Oneness of Humanity. We must keep our eyes on this vision of oneness, for only this vision holds the salvation for a divided humanity!
THE FIRST AND GREATEST STRUGGLE: THE PRISON OF SELF
In the previous post, we discussed that the first work to be done with oneness was to go within ourselves and free ourselves from our prisons of pride, selfishness, greed, materialism, and intellectual importance. If we feel ourselves superior because of our color, status, nationality, wealth, gender, etc, we cannot do God's work for this day which is to promote Oneness. Only when we have done the inner work are we ready to "serve Almighty God in a manifestation of oneness"
Let us heed 'Abdul-Baha's words: "If you have conquered your materiality, then you can go forth and serve Almighty God in a manifestation of oneness with those who need to share your bounty, or rather God's bounty-for what are we but the servants of God upon earth to deliver what God has given-
and yet we keep, we keep, we keep, and we rarely give but to ourselves and to those we call dear to us.
If you are able to sever yourself from these slaveries
>of pride, >of selfishness,
>of greed, >of vain-glory and of
>distinction of caste classifications
you will have the beginning of the assurance of oneness within yourself. It is the first and greatest struggle.
Be careful of the expression that you may use whenever you designate any one that is struggling towards an equalization of the worldly and spiritual opportunities.
1) Do not simply try to dominate them through your superior intellectuality. Rather,
2) Go for a certain time and live the life with them.
3) Share their tribulations.
4) Share their sorrows.
5) Share their trials and
6) Bring some joy into their life.
Sometimes you may realize it is difficult for you to bring laughter upon the lips and that it may take time, if you come with silks and satins and pearls, to convince them that you are sharing with them all that you have of self and position, and you are one with them, that you are with them in a spirit of unity.
Because they have eyes that see and penetrate, for they have gone through sorrows, they have gone through tribulations, and their eyes do not see simply the outward things, but they see the inward. And men,
7) in order to be one with them,
> you must be in the spirit of severance,
> you must be the servant of the servants of God,
and only in that way may you be at one with humanity by being the servant of the servants of God, AND that calls for severance.
8. And to be at one with the world of humanity you must then,
a) after having given all of yourself to Almighty God and to His servants upon the earth,
b) soar forth, delivering your material self to humanity,
c) soar forth in the spirit of Almighty God,
d) vibrating in harmony with His divine flow, and there,
e) reaching out to Him, find that inspiration that will guide you on without thought
> of boundary,
>of social distinction,
>of racial distinction,
>of national distinction,
unto the Kingdom of God which has been prepared for all of His children and which today is being illumined by the divine Tablets that are being revealed, being presented, to us. Alláh-u-Abhá!
(SOW - Star of the West, Star of the West - 6)
Let's walk this spiritual path together
Perfecting the Power of Praising and Avoiding the Most Great Sin
'Abdu'l-Bahá taught that purpose of life is to acquire virtues. The Fast is the time to get rid of all evil habits and acquire spiritual habits. One way to “refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in our souls” during the Fast is to increase the practice of praising one another so to be obedient to the laws of God. Obedience to Divine Laws assist us, not God.
Those who knowingly break or violate spiritual laws will be considered handicapped in the next life, just as a child delivered from the womb who lacked vital limbs, organs, or senses is. There are innumerable virtues, so I thought I would start with the worst or most destructive.
Consider the company of this these vices mentioned together in the same breath by Baha'u'llah in the The Kitab-i-Aqdas, "Ye have been forbidden to commit murder or adultery, or to engage in backbiting or calumny; shun ye, then, what hath been prohibited in the holy Books and Tablets."
One would think that murder or adultery would be the worst human sin, but a different one has that dubious distinction and:
1. Is the most great sin
2. Is the worst human quality
3. Is cause for being dishonored
4. Devours the heart
5. Devours the soul
6. Defiles the tongue
7. Quenches the light of the heart
8. Extinguishes the life of the soul
9. Is the cause of Divine Wrath
10. Is grievous error
11. Is the most hateful characteristic of man
12. Causes us to lose all the traces of spirituality,
13. Excommunicates a person from the divine company of the worthy ones
14. Submerges one in the sea of phantasms
15. Suffers one to become cold and pessimistic
16. Throws one headlong into the death of despair and haunting hopelessness
17. Endures a century
18. Is a deadly poison
19. Is divisive
20. Causes us to be cursed by God “Baha'u'llah warned us, “… observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”. (1)
I would urge each of us to reflect seriously on the potential spiritual suicide of this one vice today as we approach the end of the 19-Day Fast. Gossiping and backbiting have the power to put the light out in our hearts, and kill the life of our immortal souls!!! I don’t know about you, but that is one vice that I am putting first on my radar and goal list and committing to breaking immediately!
“ 'Abdu'l-Bahá warned that “the worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. ...
I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of Divine wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonoured among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding.” (2)
1. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 264)
2. (SOW - Star of the West, Star of the West - 3)
Abdu'l-Baha has explained to us what real prison was,
>and distinctions by class or category.
He was freed from all of these and because he was able to serve and his spirit was free, he was never really imprisoned:
"Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, not withdull resignation, but with radiant acquiescence, one cannot attain this freedom.
To me prison is freedom, troubles rest me, death is life, and to be despised is honour. Therefore, I was happy all that time in prison.
>When one is released from the prison of self, that is indeed release, for that is the greater prison.
>When this release takes place, then one cannot be outwardly imprisoned.
> When they put my feet in stocks,
I would say to the guard, 'You cannot imprison me, for here I have light and air and bread and water. There will come a time when my body will be in the ground, and I shall have neither light nor air nor food nor water, but even then I shall not be imprisoned.'
The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to centre the consciousness upon the limitations, and this is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the confirmations of the Spirit come." (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 120)
This is the first of two articles focusing on the American Bahá’í community’s efforts to bring about racial unity. This first article is a historical survey of nine decades of earnest striving and struggle in the cause of justice.
Photo: The second Bahá’í race amity convention in America, held in the auditorium of Central High School, Springfield, Massachusetts, 5-6 December 1921
Eliminating individual prejudice is a necessary, but insufficient, part of promoting racial unity. Human beings have embedded racial disunity within geographic space, where it is hard to change and is reinforced by political, economic, and social boundaries. Thus, individual people may believe themselves free of racial prejudice, but they may face no or weak testing of this belief if they are isolated in geographic circumstances that solidify racial disunity. Spatial geography can reinforce systemic racial discrimination.
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Prayer call since 2009- (FHU) started in 2019