Leaf of the Tree

Finding the Divine in the Details


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Let us be light

O Son of Being! With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of might I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light.

O Son of Being! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee. Get thou from it thy radiance and seek none other than Me. For I have created thee rich and have bountifully shed my favor upon thee.     Baha’u’llah

Every once in a while, a piece of truth that’s been looking me in the face for years, making no attempt to hide itself, stops me in my tracks. Often it’s something in recent life experience that sounds an inner chord and makes words I think I’ve heard and understood come through with new implications as loud and unmistakable as a siren.

An experience I had in the dark gave me a whole new appreciation for light, and lamps.

I suppose that darkness, ironically, is as good a place as any to have an epiphany about these.

When my husband and I rented a small vacation apartment in Germany, the landlord showed us around the place and cautioned, “Remember the light.”

When we returned home later that night, it quickly became obvious why he’d said this. We had neglected to put on the exterior light.

And on this overcast night, the narrow old-town streets, most of which are also hills, were incredibly dark. The uneven, irregularly spaced steps down into the tiny alley on which our apartment’s front door was located were treacherous.

We groped our way down slowly, VERY carefully, in the thick black. The cobblestones underfoot were still slippery from rain. We were relieved to finally step inside without any sprains or falls.

Waiting the very next morning as I spent some quiet time at the start of the day were those two passages above. This is definitely a way the angels have their fun with me, sometimes.

And there was this passage from ‘Abdu’l-Baha to go with them:

The good pleasure of God is love for His creatures.

The will and plan of God is that each individual member of humankind shall become illumined like unto a lamp, radiant with all the destined virtues of humanity, leading his fellow creatures out of natural darkness into the heavenly light.

Therein rests the virtue and glory of the world of humanity.

One light, and so very many lamps — each and every member of humankind.

Just what kind of brilliant light might all of those “destined virtues of humanity” provide that makes it bright enough to lead us from the “natural darkness” of a sore-tried world into the safe, joyful freedom of “heavenly light”?

Adapted from Life at First Sight: Finding the Divine in the Details: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00B5MR9B0


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The longest, sweetest journey

Photo: David Campbell

A most subtle and most difficult transition for us to make is to move from the use of human traits by the human nature to the  employing of divine qualities by our spiritual nature.

This has been described as the longest journey — from the mind to the heart.

The human nature, using the limited vision of the rational mind, doesn’t have the capacity to perceive divinity and easily makes the mistake of believing that we, ourselves, are the source of such spiritually motivated actions as generosity, mercy and justice.

This misconception leads inevitably to arrogance, the hallmark of the ego, and we cannot approach God with what is essentially the exact opposite of the attribute that is required for this — humility.

In his book Love, Power and Justice, author William Hatcher notes that “We are the only creatures of God who have the capacity to be aware of our dependency on God.”

It is the spiritual nature that possesses the capacity to recognize that the amazing virtues of love, mercy, kindness originate with God and that we’re privileged to use these infinite attributes that God has placed within us in infinite combinations to enhance our lives. We can remember, when someone thanks us for being kind or merciful, to acknowledge in our heart the divine source of kindness or mercy. In this way we can grow in humility instead of arrogance. We can carry in our awareness the source of these qualities and thus draw closer to that source.

The animal and human nature each ask the same question in all our interactions with the world: “Do I eat it or does it eat me?” The human nature wears better clothes and couches the same question in more sophisticated language, such as, “Do I win or do you win?’”or “Who controls who in this relationship?”

The spiritual nature always asks the same question: “What do I need to do to approach the Divine?” Or perhaps more specifically: “What act of service do I need to give or receive in order to approach the Divine?”

Excerpted from With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality? https://www.amazon.com/Thine-Own-Eyes-Imitate-Investigate-ebook/dp/B00I1JPC7I


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In the light of calm

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Photo: Lauren Chuslo-Shur

Gleanings found here and there:

“A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun upon rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness inner energies wake up and work miracles without effort on your part.”

~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

“While others are anxious to see you arrive, I praise your vast withstanding of the uncertainty from which all meaning is born.” ~ Toko-pa

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“So imperturbable was Abdu’l-Bahá’s equanimity that, while rumors were being bruited about that He might be cast into the sea, or exiled to Fizan in Tripolitania, or hanged on the gallows,

Israel 077He, to the amazement of His friends and the amusement of His enemies, was to be seen planting trees and vines in the garden of His house, whose fruits when the storm had blown over, He would bid His faithful gardener, Isma’il Aqa, pluck and present to those same friends and enemies on the occasion of their visits to Him.” 

~ Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By

 


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Created noble, to arise

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Detail from painting “River of Life” by Diane Kirkup /
D. Kirkup Designs
http://www.etsy.com/shop/dkirkupdesigns

O Son of Spirit!

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

~ Bahá’u’lláh

Noble have I created thee” does not mean some of us, or most of us.

Or everyone except me. 

It means all of us.

pearls

“Pearls” by Lauren Chuslo-Shur.

The ways in which “honour and nobility” manifest themselves in us — each a unique creation of God — is a one-of-a-kind and wondrous journey.

Our human nature equips us for solving the challenges of the material world.

But that is where its powers, possibilities — and purpose — end.

It is our spiritual nature that enfolds the divine bestowals that bring forth the nobility and honour we’re created for.

What helps this nature become the decision-maker in our lives?

Are we ready, and willing, to embrace the truth that this inner reality is a presence and power in whose light all fear, and the trappings of mere survival, disappear like shadows?

Are we? WTOEimage.php

Excerpted from:

With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate the Past When We Can Investigate Reality?, coming January 2014 from George Ronald Publisher:

http://grbooks.com/george-ronald-publisher-books/spirituality/with-thine-own-eyes-1380638499


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‘neath the shadow of justice and truthfulness

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Sending love and prayerful blessings to all

on this anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah.

“The incomparable Friend saith:

The path to freedom hath been outstretched; hasten ye thereunto. Israel 150

The wellspring of wisdom is overflowing; quaff ye therefrom.

Say: O well-beloved ones! The tabernacle of unity hath been raised;

regard ye not one another as strangers.

Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch.

Storm 230Verily I say, whatsoever leadeth to the decline of ignorance

and the increase of knowledge hath been, and will ever remain,

approved in the sight of the Lord of creation.

Say: O people! Walk ye neath the shadow of justice and truthfulness

and seek ye shelter within the tabernacle of unity.”

 ~ Baha’u’llah, The Tabernacle of Unity


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The spirit of oneness is holy indeed

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“An intermediary is needed to bring two extremes into relation with each other. Riches and poverty, plenty and need: Without some kind of intermediary power, there could be no relation between such pairs of opposites.”

When he shared these words with his listeners in Paris in 1911, ‘Abdu’l-Baha noted that as citizens of one world, our shared home, we are “in extreme need” of such an intermediary, a power by which we are able to receive help from the Divine Reality, the Source of all life. He likened that Reality to the sun, and the Holy Spirit to the rays of the sun. The sun doesn’t descend to the earth, nor the earth ascend to the sun. It is the rays of the sun that bring illumination and life to earth.

In the following year, addressing an American audience, he shared more about the vital, life-giving role of the Holy Spirit when he described the means by which true unity will be established within the human race:

IMG_0187“The source of perfect unity and love in the world of existence is the bond and oneness of reality. When the divine and fundamental reality enters human hearts and lives, it conserves and protects all states and conditions of mankind, establishing that intrinsic oneness of the world of humanity which can only come into being through the efficacy of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is like unto the life in the human body, which blends all differences of parts and members in unity and agreement.”

He then urged his listeners to reflect on how diverse the various parts of the human body are. He described how, in a whole and healthy body, there is a oneness of animating spirit that “establishes such a unity in the bodily organism that if any part is subjected to injury or becomes diseased, all the other parts and functions sympathetically respond and suffer, owing to the perfect oneness that exists.”

Just as the human spirit is the animating element that unites and coordinates the parts of a human body, the Holy Spirit is the controlling cause of the unity and coordination of the body of humankind, he said. “The bond or oneness of humanity cannot be effectively established save through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the world of humanity is a composite body, and the Holy Spirit is the animating principle of its life.”

IMG_0432The evidence of ever-increasing dis-ease in that body of humankind is all around us. In the course of our lives each day, what might each of us do to harness the power of the Holy Spirit to establish unity, and healing, within it?

What makes cells of the body healthy, and what do healthy cells do? What can we each contribute to the unity of healing, and the building of the good? And what strengthens and empowers us to do that?