Spring: A Time to Renew Our Commitment to Justice

Spring is a time of renewal. The dead things on the earth are blooming again, heavy hearts are becoming alive again, and the cold and darkness of winter’s sleep is being awakened to a new freshness and aliveness. The Fast generated heat and kindled the fire of love required to burn away all things not approved by God. During the last 19 days preceding Spring, the portals of bounty and grace were opened wide and each longing and receptive heart received their portion. We prayed to align our will with the Will of God, so we should expect great change.

So what is the Will of God? Bahá’u’lláh is very clear.

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.

“The best of all things in His sight is JUSTICE Bahá’u’lláh taught us. He warned us to TURN NOT AWAY” if we desired Him, and to “NEGLECT IT NOT”, if we wished Him to confide in us. Perhaps we should meditate profoundly on “confide.” When someone confides in you, they trust you and believe in you. He also teaches us to become worthy of the trust of our neighbors. I don’t know about you, but there can be no greater honor than to be worthy to have God’s Messenger for our Day confide in us. We have been given free will. We have a choice to follow our own desires or have faith in God’s guidance and to be obedient to His ordinances. Ponder this statement in The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys —“A servant is drawn unto Me in prayer until I answer him; and when I have answered him, I become the ear wherewith he heareth….” 

‘If thine aim be to cherish thy life, approach not our court; but if sacrifice be thy heart’s desire, come and let others come with thee. For such is the way of Faith if in thy heart thou seekest reunion with Baha; Shouldest thou refuse to tread this path, why trouble Us?….. Begone!

(The Dawn-Breakers) ( P.137-8)

IS SACRIFICE YOUR HEART’S DESIRE? Now is the time to translate that which hath been written into reality and action, strive to become the best version of ourselves, and dedicate our lives to “the betterment of the world.” This can only happen if we choose to live in the spirit and practice great love towards all without prejudice. The Guardian warned Sadie Oglesby that it was already late in 1927, yet the things we were admonished to do regarding justice still remain largely unfinished and in some cases have become worse.

“The need of the Cause in America is the call of the heart, that can be given no one, save those who have suffered and been trained in the road of sacrifice and humility.”

No one can give you heart or make you care about justice. America has a great need that only pure hearts can hear the call. This warning from the Guardian spells out the criteria for being able to hear. It is for those who have suffered, and been trained in the road of sacrfice and humility, and not those commenting on the sidelines. America had spiritual problems in 1927 during Jim Crow, and those spiritual problems have morphed and mutated like a virus similar to what the Covid virus is doing now. We now have a new Jim Crow.

Read Michelle Alexander’s book if you want to serve those who are suffering and know of your own knowledge. America is trying to retreat and return to those days of legalized oppression. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, over 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions. These bills restrict voting access for poor, black, and brown people, denying them the right to participate in this dying democracy and have a voice in creating the laws that impact their health, education, safety, and well-being.” And in 2022, 22 states have introduced or carried over 250 restrictive bills.

So many tend to turn away from the justice conversation but love to speak of love while not actually practicing this great force, power, and law. Can we be truly loving if we participate in, ignore, or tolerate injustice? That is what Abdu’l-Baha desired for us to do — to commit to love each other sincerely. Because when we truly love, we put another’s needs before our own, like a mother does for her suckling child, that would die if not nurtured and nourished.

Remember Abdu’l-Baha is our example. That was his name and sole aim and we have no claim on the name Bahai if we do not serve humanity with both heart and soul. It cannot be an unpleasant duty.

So in this new year, we must decide what our aim will be. The Great Being is calling many, few will be chosen. Few will be willing to put their personal needs aside. Remember, you can be the answer to someone’s prayer. Wounded, desperate, and hopeless souls are calling. Will your heart answer like Abdu’l-Baha would?

Remember, only a few are chosen. Fortunately, we are given the criteria for being chosen — must have suffered, and been trained in — sacrfice and humility. So the questions are:

1. Will you humble yourself before God?

2. Have you suffered from bringing together the black and white?

3. Are you willing to suffer like His chosen ones suffered, putting the cause of unity, justice, and peace for humanity first?

4. Have you already been trained (in the road), or on the job experiencing sacrifice and humility?

5. Will you arise sacrifically to the occasion?

How can we get the power to follow the right path?

By putting the teaching into practice power will be given. You know which path to follow: you cannot be mistaken, for there’s a great distinction between God and evil, between Light and darkness, Truth and falsehood, Love and hatred, Generosity and meanness, Education and ignorance, Faith in God and superstition, good Laws and unjust laws. (ABDU’L-BAHA, ABDU’L-BAHA IN LONDON, P. 63)

We must be active to receive the divine confirmations!

There is nothing that brings success in the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays.  From a letter dated 12 July 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

I leave you with a story Abdu’l-Baha shares about a conversation the Buddha had with his disciples:

Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to teach, so he asked them questions to see if they were prepared as he would have them be. “When you go to the East and to the West,” said the Buddha, “and the people shut their doors to you and refuse to speak to you, what will you do?” — The disciples answered and said: “We shall be very thankful that they do us no harm.” — “Then if they do you harm and mock, what will you do?” — “We shall be very thankful that they do not give us worse treatment.” — “If they throw you into prison?” — “We shall still be grateful that they do not kill us.” — “What if they were to kill you?” the Master asked for the last time. “Still,” answered the disciples, “we will be thankful, for they cause us to be martyrs. What more glorious fate is there than this, to die for the glory of God?” And the Buddha said: “Well done!”

“The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back? Consider the laws of the Old Testament: the Jews do not follow Moses as their example nor keep his commands. So it is with many other religions.” Abdu’l-Baha

Like Spring, everything has been renewed. Even the Holy Bible confirms the problem with putting new wine in an old wine skin: “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” We can look forward. We now have new wine (knowledge) and a new wine skin. Ponder on that.

Until next time,

Spring: A Time for Renewal

If you were excited about the Fast, then you are going to love the promises of Spring! The Fast was like spring cleaning for the soul. Now we get to celebrate and be enriched by the beauty we help create in the world!

Spring is here, a seasonal change of astronomical proportion in the Northern Hemisphere that coincides with the vernal equinox, marking a time of equilibrium when both day and night are roughly equal. It is a time of hope, a time when all things are renewed. Spring represents change — change of the seasons, change of weather conditions — and brings with it the joyful expectation of new physical growth on earth and is a time for celebration. It is the first day of the Baha’i New Year Naw-Ruz and is a holy day where work and school are suspended. An excerpt from the Naw-Ruz prayer by Baha’u’llah explains it.

Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Rúz as a festival unto those who have observed the Fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto thee.  Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the Fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.

Since thou hast adorned them, O my Lord, with the ornament of the Fast prescribed by Thee, do Thou adorn them also with the ornament of Thine acceptance, through Thy grace and bountiful favor.  For the doings of men are all dependent upon Thy good-pleasure, and are conditioned by Thy behest.  Shouldst Thou regard him who hath broken the Fast as one who hath observed it, such a man would be reckoned among them who from eternity had been keeping the Fast.  And shouldst Thou decree that he who hath observed the Fast hath broken it, that person would be numbered with such as have caused the Robe of Thy Revelation to be stained with dust, and been far removed from the crystal waters of this living Fountain.

…He Who is Thy Branch and all Thy company, O my Lord, have broken this day their fast, after having observed it within the precincts of Thy court, and in their eagerness to please Thee.  Do Thou ordain for Him, and for them, and for all such as have entered Thy presence in those days all the good Thou didst destine in Thy Book.  Supply them, then, with that which will profit them, in both this life and in the life beyond.
Thou, in truth, art the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Nowruz however, (spelled with an o instead of an a) has been celebrated by many Middle Eastern cultures for thousands of years. I have watched my Persian friends for decades retreat to their cultural families during Naw-Ruz to celebrate this holiday and never really quite understood it. I had grown up in Christian communities and this practice was foreign to me. I wasn’t sure in the beginning what was culture and what was religion. Naw-Ruz is a spiritual holiday for all the Bahais and is different from Nowruz which is a cultural holiday.

A Harvard resource helped me to understand it best. Nowruz is a festival designed to bring together families and communities, share traditional food, dance, and music, and introduce the tradition to the next generation. The most important cultural activity is the haft-seen table. On this table are placed seven things starting with the letter S. The seven items represent: sunrise and the spice of life, love and affection, patience and age, health and beauty, good health, fertility and sweetness of life, and rebirth and renewal of nature. In addition, a mirror represents reflection on the past year, an orange in a bowl of water symbolizes the earth, a goldfish in water represents new life, colored eggs for fertility, new coins for prosperity, fresh hyacinths to symbolize spring, and candles to radiate light and happiness.

With each new year, comes the potential to renew the beauty in all things. We too get a chance to start anew, to put the old behind us, much like last year’s withered blooms and dead leaves. For, while a dried flower arrangement can be beautiful and long lasting, nothing compares to the beauty, freshness, and fragrance of new flowers. Perhaps we can also consider renewing our faith, renewing our commitments to oneness and justice, and sacrificing our lives for “the betterment of the world.” Spring is a time to be joyful, if we could but appreciate it, a time for freshness and growth in all the kingdoms — plant, animal, and man — all coming to us at this time as a gift from our Creator.

In the same way our physical eyes witness a new spring time, so does humanity from time to time, when God renews His religion, and sends us new teachers to spur us on to our next level of our development. Abdul-Baha explains:

“The Sun of Reality is one Sun but it has different dawning-places, just as the phenomenal sun is one although it appears at various points of the horizon. During the time of spring the luminary of the physical world rises far to the north of the equinoctial; in summer it dawns midway and in winter it appears in the most southerly point of its zodiacal journey.

These day springs or dawning-points differ widely but the sun is ever the same sun whether it be the phenomenal or spiritual luminary. Souls who focus their vision upon the Sun of Reality will be the recipients of light no matter from what point it rises, but those who are fettered by adoration of the dawning-point are deprived when it appears in a different station upon the spiritual horizon.

Furthermore, just as the solar cycle has its four seasons the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind:

1) divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity.
2) The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life.
3) Minds are developed,
4) hopes brighten,
5) aspirations become spiritual, the
6) virtues of the human world appear with freshened power of growth and
7) the image and likeness of God become visible in man. It is the springtime of the inner world.

(Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 255)

Happy Nawruz and Happy Nowruz

FASTING DAY 19: Continuing Our Spiritual Education Throughout the Year

This is final lesson of our 19 Day Fast. It was my honor to walk the spiritual path with you this year. The following lesson will hopefully guide you as you continue on your spiritual journey.

‘Abdul-Baha’ has likened the vast ocean of Baha’u’llah’s, and all the divine Manifestation’s, revelations to the “school of God.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? A material education is vital for taking care of material needs. And, for spiritual souls aspiring to nobler heights and a spiritual world, a spiritual education is vital. In the school of God, there are expectations and clear guidance.

Abdul-Baha is like our spiritual counselor and guides us: 

“O thou true friend! Read, in the school of God, the lessons of the spirit, and learn from love’s Teacher the innermost truths. Seek out the secrets of Heaven, and tell of the overflowing grace and favour of God.” (1)

Let’s pause and immerse ourselves in this guidance.

First, ‘Abdul-Baha is addressing the “true friends.” You will have to decide if you are a “true friend,” and God will decide what that friendship entails. And then ‘Abdul-Baha instructs those friends to obey the following actions:

1. “READ IN THE SCHOOL OF GOD.” That is why Baha’u’llah commands us to: 

“Read the Verses of God every morning and evening, and he who does not read will not be known by the Covenant of God and His Testament. .. O ye servants, fear God! Be not deluded by meaningless repetition of prayers, but worship by day and by night. Should any one read but one Verse of the Verses with fragrance and spirituality, it shall avail more unto him than to read with slothfulness all the Books of God, the Protector, the Self-existent.” (2)

Know your purpose, and value every moment of this time on earth. Know that we are the students. Read, read, read; for we need spiritual input, if we wish to have spiritual output. So many don’t read more than a few sentences these days, but only in reading and reflecting, do we get our own ‘Ah-ha’s’ and understandings. Just like physical muscles, spiritual capacity grows when you exercise it.

2. DISCERN “THE LESSONS OF THE SPIRIT.” The Spirit is our tutor, our instructor, and our mentor. Don’t just read for knowledge. Read to discern the lesson. In every divine lesson, there is a purpose, a message, a warning, an example, or an instruction.

“Encourage the children from their earliest years to master every kind of learning, and make them eager to become skilled in every art — the aim being that through the favouring grace of God, the heart of each one may become even as a mirror disclosing the secrets of the universe, penetrating the innermost reality of all things; and that each may earn worldwide fame in all branches of knowledge, science and the arts.” (3)

Their lessons consist in spiritual unity of mankind, in the refinement of character, in the etherealization of the soul so that we may learn common sense and live side by side with the spirit of fellowship, kindness and comradeship.” (4)

Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that man’s river flow into the mighty sea, and draw from God’s ancient source His inspiration. When this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.” (5)

3. “LEARN FROM LOVE’S TEACHER.” What can love teach us? Love teaches a very different lesson than hate does, even though we learn from both. What is love? Can you recognize it? Are you attracted to it? Which gets most of your attention: love or hate? What do we learn from love? What do we learn from hate?

The aim is this: The
> intention of the teacher must be pure,
> his heart independent,
> his spirit attracted,
> his thought at peace,
> his resolution firm,
> his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch.

Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others! Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach the severance to others!” (6)

And among the teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh is, that religion must be the cause of fellowship and love. If it becomes the cause of estrangement then it is not needed, for religion is like a remedy; if it aggravates the disease then it becomes unnecessary.” (7)

“If priests of religion really adored the God of love and served the Divine Light, they would teach their people to keep the chief Commandment, “To be in love and charity with all men.” But we find the contrary, for it is often the priests who encourage nations to fight. Religious hatred is ever the most cruel!

All religions teach that we should love one another; that we should seek out our own shortcomings before we presume to condemn the faults of others, that we must not consider ourselves superior to our neighbours! We must be careful not to exalt ourselves lest we be humiliated.” (8)


 “That is why we consult: “…consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth.” (9)

We are here to learn and not just surface learning, but to seek the innermost truths. We are constantly disturbed and distracted by the volumes of false information that the world spins daily to cover its ineptness, perversity, and evils. We have been given this ocean to discern what is true or false.

Loosen thy tongue, expound the truths, and establish the validity of the verse: “The All-Merciful hath taught the Qur’án.”[1] The Holy Spirit speaketh through the innermost essence of the human tongue, God’s Spirit which desireth communion with the human soul unfoldeth the truths, the Faithful Spirit writeth down and the Spirit of the Ancient of Days confirmeth. [1 Qur’án 55:2] (10)

5. “SEEK OUT THE SECRETS OF HEAVEN.” Baha’u’llah instructs us,

 “Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” (11)

The pearls of wisdom are hidden in the depths. We are promised that if we seek we will find. But notice, that seeking is an action which we must direct. Also notice the choice of the words “secrets of heaven.” We are not seeking earthly secrets as one does in back-biting and fault-finding, instead we are seeking heavenly secrets. A secret is something that is not disclosed to everyone, in this case perhaps, just to the “true friends,” who are seeking.

6. “TELL OF THE OVERFLOWING GRACE AND FAVOR OF GOD.” This is not only about individual enrichment and salvation, we must TELL others of the grace and favor of God. However, sometimes our egos make us think that somehow we are special and more deserving than others. Also, to tell of the “overflowing grace and favors” we must be in a state of gratitude to recognize them and appreciate them. Justice is giving you what you deserve, grace is giving without deserving.

I swear by that Peerless Beauty, Who is in the Unseen Kingdom, that when the leaves loose their tongues in praise and glorification of the All-Loving Lord, and in teaching the Cause of the Kind Lord, the concourse of the Kingdom and the inmates of the Unseen Realms will give ear, and cry out with exclamations of extreme joy and jubilation.
[1 Qur’án 55:2] (10)

There are people who are smarter than us, who work harder than us, who are perhaps more deserving than us, and yet we have more or less material bounties, which many flaunt with pride or feel despair. But, if we realized that all we have is because of God, then we will be quick to share and tell others that our source of bounty is God’s grace and favour and that what we each have accomplished is solely because of the grace and favor of God.

O maid-servant of God! The radiance of favor is (cast) upon thy head and thou art clad with the robe of gift. Praise be unto God, that the breeze of the divine spring maketh the soul thrive and the fragrances of holiness are quickening the heart of man. Favor is perfect and bounty is overflowing — the doors of prosperity are opened and hearts are expanded and dilated. The drops of the cloud of favor are continually (falling) and the lakes of graces are successively overflowing. The wine of the love of God is circulating, and the melodies of thankful birds are astonishing all people distant and near. (12)

In this lesson, we have been reflecting on six specific actions in this very short verse and expounded on them with other texts. We close with Baha’u’llah’s admonition:

“It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. ” (13)

Walking the spiritual path together

Barbara Talley

1. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 110)

2. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 156)

3) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 144)

4) (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 7)

5) (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 109)

6) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 427)

7) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 286)

8) (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 147)

9). (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72)

10) (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 398)

11) (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136)

12) (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 279)

13) (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 249)

FASTING DAY 18: SERVICE- Becoming Apprised of the Woes and Sufferings of the Destitute.

The goal of the fast (after all the prayer, meditation, and spiritual recuperation) is that we will arise to perform praiseworthy deeds.” And, what deed could be more praiseworthy than caring for and helping those who are in need?

The late Wayne Dyer wrote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” So, let’s for a few moments look upon wealth and poverty through the lenses of the Holy Manifestations of God throughout the ages. Most people look at what they have as their own, and believe that they have achieved their good fortune and wealth solely on their own merits and worth, and not that they have been blessed by God in order that they may be a blessing to others.

“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.” (1)

A very few give as a sacrifice; most give what they no longer want, can get a tax benefit from doing so, or only when they have extra. Sadly, far too many refuse to give anything at all, even when they have abundance, saying things like, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps,” or “the poor don’t work hard enough or are lazy.” They haughtily spew selfish words like, “every man for himself and God for us all.” This is pure ignorance, for Bahaullah warned that what we have been given is through God’s grace:

“Be ye trustworthy on earth, and withhold not from the poor the things given unto you by God through His grace. He, verily, will bestow upon you the double of what ye possess. He, in truth, is the All-Bounteous, the Most Generous. … O ye rich ones on earth! If ye encounter one who is poor, treat him not disdainfully. Reflect upon that whereof ye were created. Every one of you was created of a sorry germ.” (2)

During the Fast we are to focus on prayer, meditation, and spiritual recuperation. It is a time “refresh and gladden our spirits”, tame the animal impulses within, and to align our will with the Will of God. Each of these actions focus our thoughts inward, encourage us to clean up our own acts, and remind us to tame our own tenacious egos. We are also told that the Fast will generate heat, and increase our love, joy, and radiance, as we “arise to perform praiseworthy deeds.” The focus today however is one of the few that is asking us to look outward, and to be God’s mercy to the poor and destitute, as one of those “praiseworthy deeds.”

As our 19-Day Fast draws close to an end, we will now focus our minds and hearts on another duty of the Fast, to become more aware of the poor and destitute. While the Fast has innumerable benefits for the individual, it is also a time that we are to focus on the unfortunate poor who are caught in the choking tentacles of a society that is not founded on divine principles. Instead, we are to do what we can to lift their burden when we are able. Clearly the Fast is more than a personal commitment to simply give up an addiction or joy.

From Baha’i Prayers

“All praise be unto God, Who hath revealed the law of obligatory prayer as a reminder to His servants, and enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute.”(3) — Bahá’u’lláh

Fasting, as you see, is a time for those who have been blessed to have resources to look beyond themselves and care for those who are suffering. Saying a prayer for them at a distance, studying with them, or giving them words of encouragement is not enough as Abdul-Baha explains:

Knowledge is not enough; we hope by the Love of God we shall put it into practice. A spiritual universal Force is needed for this. Meetings are good for engendering spiritual force. To know that it is possible to reach a state of perfection, is good; to march forward on the path is better. We know that to help the poor and to be merciful is good and pleases God, but knowledge alone does not feed the starving man, nor can the poor be warmed by knowledge or words in the bitter winter; we must give the practical help of Loving-kindness. (4)

Consider this guidance from the Bible:

In Isaiah, more wisdom of the Fast is explained. The followers are admonished about wickedness, heavy burdens, freeing the oppressed, and that feeding the poor is not enough, they must also bring them into their houses. They were promised, that If they were obedient, health and the Glory of the Lord would be their reward.

“(Isaiah 58:) Is not this the fast that I have chosen?

to loose the bands of wickedness,
to undo the heavy burdens, and
to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? Is it not
to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?

when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.

The Prophet [Muhammad] also spoke of Fasting and looking after the poor:

“The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.”

So you see, consideration of the poor is highly prized in the eyes of God. And, this regard for the poor goes beyond just food and shelter, it extends to the education of the children of the poor.

Abdu’l-Bahá explained, “that …if a man educated the children of the poor, who could not themselves afford to do so, it was, in the sight of God, as if he had educated the Son of God.” (5)

So we have been talking about the virtues of generosity, kind-heartedness, love, and magnanimity when serving the poor, and that it pleases our God. However, this must be done voluntarily from the heart and not coerced.

“The virtue of man made manifest through voluntary philanthropy based upon the idea of human solidarity is as follows: Rich men give to the poor-that is, they assist the poor, but by their own desire. It is not well that the poor should coerce the rich to contribute to them. Such coercion would be followed by disintegration and the organization of the affairs of society would be disturbed.” (6)

Hopefully you will reflect on this guidance today and in obedience to Baha’u’llah’s admonition, “strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.”

Happy Fasting

  1. (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 93)
  2. (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 54)
  3. (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 60)
  4. (in “The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting,” compiled by the Baha’i World Centre)
  5. Volume 7, Book 64, Number 266: (Hadith, Bukhari Vol 7)
  6. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 9) – (Compilation, war, peace and government, p. 94.)

FASTING DAY 17: Understanding the Spiritual Power of Thought

Shoghi Effendi said, that one of the goals of the Fast is to “refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in our souls.We have been talking about prayer, meditation, and action; however our thoughts affect each of these. Thought is one of those spiritual powers that usually precedes action. Hopefully, we think and then we act.

In Paris Talks, Abdul-Baha explains: “The reality of man is his thought, not his material body. The thought force and the animal force are partners. Although man is part of the animal creation, he possesses a power of thought superior to all other created beings.

Abdul-Baha highlights some of those powers: Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities, memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks, and comprehends.” (4)

We also have outward powers, the power of the senses. However, today, in light of brevity, I have focused on just one of the five spiritual powers, that of Thought. Consider what the Holy Teachers have said about “Thought”:

The Bible teaches: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… (1)” Reflect on the partnership of both the thought force and the heart. The Buddha taught, “Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thoughts.”(2) So today, observe your thoughts and notice what you are feeling in your heart.

Thoughts are spiritual powers that can be used for us or against us. Think of thoughts as seeds that will produce more of their kind: negative or positive, hateful or loving, fearful or faithful, excluding or unifying, or, despairing or hopeful. When we think powerless thoughts, we feel powerless, and we become impotent.

In those times, it helps to remember our powers given to us at creation. Humans move in the direction of what they think about, so what are you thinking about today? What are you focusing on today? What are you feeling (hoping or fearing) today? There is a connection between what you think about, how you feel, and what you will be able to attract and accomplish.

Not only did Baha’u’llah teach us that we were “created noble,” but also reminds us:

“Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. Through a word proceeding out of the mouth of God he was called into being; by one word more he was guided to recognize the Source of his education; by yet another word his station and destiny were safeguarded.

The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. If any man were to meditate on that which the Scriptures, sent down from the heaven of God’s holy Will, have revealed, he would readily recognize that their purpose is that all men shall be regarded as one soul…”(3)

And again the Buddha taught: “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.”  (5)

Abdul-Baha clarifies even further:

If a man’s thought is constantly aspiring towards heavenly subjects then does he become saintly; if on the other hand his thought does not soar, but is directed downwards to centre itself upon the things of this world, he grows more and more material until he arrives at a state little better than that of a mere animal. Thoughts may be divided into two classes:

(1st) Thought that belongs to the world of thought alone.

(2nd) Thought that expresses itself in action.

Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds.”(6)

In service, as we walk the spiritual path together. Fasting is more than just not eating

Barbara Talley

(1) Proverbs 23:7 King James Version (KJV)


(3) (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259)

(4) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 317)

(5) Buddha

(6) (Abdu’l-aha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 317