Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Growth’s leading edge

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Photo: D. Kirkup Designs

“What I have come to understand is that my path involves my heart.

It can’t come after the fact.

It has to be the leading edge of my method.

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Photo: Van Berkum Nursery

And in a devotional path, we work with forms in order to transform our own identities.

And, in the process, we break the habits we’ve held as our realities and our own self-definitions.

And the new realities, the new concepts we take on, because they were taken on intentionally, don’t have the same hold over us that the old ones had.

It’s using a skillful means to get rid of one thing when later we will get rid of that aid

as well.”

~ Ram Dass


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Gate to the Glory of God

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A view of the Shrine of The Bab, Mt. Carmel, Israel

 

His life is one of the most magnificent examples of courage which it has been the privilege of mankind to behold.”

 ~19th century writer A.L.M. Nicolas, writing about The Bab

This week members of the Baha’i Faith worldwide celebrate a holy day known as the Birth of the Bab. Baha’i teachings equate work performed in the spirit of service with worship. But on this day we suspend work and school in memory of someone described by a key figure in our faith as “matchless in His meekness” and “imperturbable in His serenity.”

The Bab, whose name means “Gate”, also started a spiritual revolution in the mid-1800s that resulted in the creation of the Baha’i Faith.

Israel 004Many of us became Baha’is because we couldn’t help but feel that divine messengers, including Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha, weren’t intended to be competing factions, but rather part of a single, progressive process through which the Creator is guiding humanity forward. The teachings of the Baha’i Faith describe how the world’s major religions are united. And it all began with the Bab, whose story is like a brief, intense storm that reshapes a landscape overnight, or what some have likened to a “thief in the night.”

Born Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad in 1819 in what was then called Persia, the Bab lived in a time of millennial zeal in which many Christians and Muslims held an expectation that scriptural prophecies were about to be fulfilled. Orphaned early in life, The Bab was raised by his maternal uncle, who was one day told by his nephew’s teacher, an esteemed cleric, that there was nothing more he could teach his prodigious and unfailingly courteous pupil.

Israel 151Later, in extending guidance to humanity, The Bab reminded that in order for a soul to recognize and receive divine inspiration, “eyes of the spirit” are necessary — a vision unclouded by personal attachments or preconceived notions. The promised Day of God, He declared, required new standards of conduct and a nobility of character that the Creator had destined for humanity, but which it had yet to achieve. “Purge your hearts of worldly desires,” the Bab told his earliest followers, “and let angelic virtues be your adorning.”

In a society in which moral breakdown was rampant, the Bab’s assertion that the spiritual renewal of society depended on “love and compassion” rather than “force and coercion” stirred enormous hope among all classes of people in Persia. His call for spiritual reformation — in particular, the uplifting of women and the poor, and the promotion of education for all — provoked an angry, fearful response from those who held religious and secular power in an oppressive society that had changed little since medieval times.

Persecution of the Bab’s followers rapidly ensued, and thousands were killed in brutal massacres. The remarkable courage — even joy — that many of His followers exhibited in the face of such carnage was documented by such Western observers as Leo Tolstoy. Eventually, the Bab was imprisoned and publicly executed before a crowd of 10,000 in 1850.

A century and a half later, the spirit of the Bab informs the lives of Baha’is, more than 5 million of us, who see ourselves as citizens of one world and friends of all faiths.

Photos courtesy / Nelson Ashberger

Adapted from:

Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details -


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Spiritual evolution, or identity crisis?

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

 

Humanity is on the verge of a spiritual evolutionary leap into a future where lasting global peace is not only possible but inevitable.

Do we believe it?

If so, what vision of it do we carry inside us, how precious do we hold that vision, and what do we each do to express it?

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

The human family is moving toward this stage of spiritual maturity through a dawning recognition of the oneness and interrelatedness in which it has been created, together with all of creation.

And it is approaching the beauty of this vision through the release of the gems of spiritual potential that lie waiting in every heart.

As human beings, we’re held back from crossing this bridge to the degree that we lack understanding about our true identity and purpose.

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Photo: David Campbell

All around us, we can see the ways in which this lack of understanding has reached a state of desperation that is reflected in disastrous consequences at every level of human activity and relationship.

Most often this leads to isolation, a perspective from which times can look dark, indeed.

However, as souls gain awareness and understanding of our truest identity and purpose, humanity will come to understand that the forces at work in human life are impelling us away from a centuries-old preoccupation with survival and “fighting evil” towards our highest destiny.

That vision might be described as a creative, collaborative and potentially limitless building of the good, in which every individual has a part to play, and every culture its unique contributions to make.

Explore these and related themes in

With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?

 

 


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The gift of holy curiosity

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Photo: D. Kirkup Designs

Gleanings found here and there:

I live with the people I create and it has always made my essential loneliness less keen.

~ Carson McCullers

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

~ Albert Einstein

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Photo: David Campbell / http://gbctours.com

Resting in the spacious flow of loving awareness — which some call God — we discover that we already have, right now within us, everything we could possibly be looking for. This is what the Hindus call ananda, and what Jesus called ‘the peace that passeth understanding.’ Our needs and wants are the illusions …

~ Russell Targ

How can we live the generosity that the Earth continues to teach us?

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee


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Lights that cannot be hidden

 

Therefore, you must thank God that He has bestowed upon you the blessing of life and existence in the human kingdom.

Strive diligently to acquire virtues befitting your degree and station.

Be as lights of the world which cannot be hid and which have no setting in horizons of darkness.

Ascend to the zenith of an existence which is never beclouded by the fears and forebodings of nonexistence.

~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 89-90

 


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Creativity and Spirit shape each other — and us

My deepest thanks again to the insight-filled members of the Rochester, NY, book club who received Snow Fence Road and its author so kindly last month.

The fact that each of you serves in the field of social work probably explains why you can give a story and its inhabitants the kind of generous hearing ear that all of us long for, as souls. garden2photo-3

In this bright autumn week, I’ll be moving between many seasons each day as I take a writing retreat in Maine. While it surrounds me in the settings of the novel that I’ve already sent out into the world, it will take my inner scribe far from New England, into scenes and rooms an ocean away and 70 or more years ago.

It will also take me inward, one of the reasons I especially look forward to this journey. As long as I’m faithful, as long as I show up for the work each day, I will find myself drawn into discoveries I can’t possibly predict (or try to control) but that I know from repeated experience will lead both to a story’s coming whole and, mysteriously, my own deepest self.

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Ponderings I’ll take with me:

How does creativity require faith in the way that spiritual life does?

How does creativity hone my abilities as a participant on the path of life?

How does creativity help me adjust as information or circumstances change?

How does creativity act as a remedy for mental tests?

How does engaging with creative process help me learn more about my truest self?

 


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Fear’s remedy does not perish

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Photo: David Campbell / http://GBCTours.com

Fear can be instructive when I experience it, though I’m not meant to dwell on it, or in it.

If I understand the inner signals of fear, whose purpose is to educate and inform me, I can choose to make the necessary adjustments in belief and behavior that will prevent for me the unhealthy and painful mental state of being consumed by that fear.

Most often, that state seems one of attempting to avoid the fear, rather than meeting it and receiving what it has to reveal.

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Photo: David Campbell / http://GBCTours.com

In the physical world, a fear signal is often a potentially life-saving reaction that prompts me to move quickly out the way of harm to my physical self.

In spiritual terms, I can also experience triggers of fear that point to what could pose danger to my own true and most enduring reality. This signal often arises when I cross the line of moderation and form an attachment to some aspect of the material world.

For every worldly attachment I make, I can gain an unhealthy fear, then easily become overwhelmed by such fears. The remedy, detachment, is in refraining from allowing my physical possessions, the things I do, the things I think, feel, believe, to possess me. For these are what perish.WTOEimage.php

The heart, it seems, is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal, to what does not perish.

Adapted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past, When We Can Investigate Reality?: 

http://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410352058&sr=8-1&keywords=with+thine+own+eyes

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