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,

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

FASTING DAY 16: Testing the Fitness of Our Souls

Fasting is about aligning our will with the Will of God. During this time we are to bring ourselves to account, weigh our actions, develop a deeper and more consecrated spiritual life, and rid ourselves of our selfish and animal natures. You’ve heard the phrase “Many are called, but few are chosen,” but have you ever reflected on how the few are chosen? That is what this session will help us explore.

Our ultimate goal is transformation for the good pleasure of God. We want God to be pleased with what we have done with the precious life given to us and to daily through our prayers, meditation, and deeds, to show our gratitude for “rescuing us from the wretchedness of nothingness.” Through a humble posture of learning, we begin to understand that the ego causes us to challenge, deny, become apathetic and unhappy, or to just blatantly disobey the laws of God.

In the last few reflections, we have defined what the ego is, and have discussed the role of tests in subduing it. In this reflection, we will discuss the means by which the fitness of the soul can be realized. Did you know that everyone is tested? Did you know that the same test will return if you do not pass it? Did you know that the tests will get progressively harder each time?

We must first remember what the purpose of tests are. They are for the purpose of assessing our worthiness, exalting our stations, subduing our egos, and strengthening us; no one is exempt! Because our ego thinks it can survive without God, has tried to become partners with God, or thinks it knows better than God, the Creator sends us tests to humble us and to save our souls. These benevolent tests are to help us to remember that we are soul and to not get so attached to this earthly fleeting vanishing existence.

“Tests are a means by which a soul is measured as to its fitness and proven out by its own acts. God knows its fitness beforehand, and also its unpreparedness, but man, with an ego, would not believe himself unfit unless proof were given him. Consequently, his susceptibility to evil is proven to him when he falls into the tests, and the tests are continued until the soul realizes its own unfitness, then remorse and regret tend to root out the weakness.”(2)

Have you ever thought that remorse and regret were actually good things? That it is this realization of our errors that “roots out our weaknesses?” Because we are imperfect humans, we are as Baha’u’llah explained it, “prone to error,” we are therefore susceptible to making mistakes and errors. Tests help us to recognize the dust on the mirror of our hearts so that we will realize our condition and put energy into polishing our mirrors, and as a consequence become attracted to the light and capable of reflecting its radiance.

As stated in the Holy Quran, “Do men think when they say ‘We believe’ they shall be let alone and not be put to proof? (1)

We all live by a set of beliefs. We say we believe. But, do our actions conform to our beliefs? When they don’t we experience cognitive dissonance, a discomfort that can cause anxiety or dis-ease until we rectify it. Either we change our beliefs, or we change our behavior so that our beliefs and actions are in sync. This discomfort when viewed from a humble posture of learning can lead to deep reflection where we realize this inconsistency or untruth in ourselves. At that point, those that are humble and sincere experience remorse and regret. This dissonance is resolved when we change our ways.

We know that we will be called to account for our final deeds, but few realize that we get quizzes and midterms along the way as a way of testing us continually. That is why our tests get progressively harder each time we fail. Spiritual tests continue until our spiritual weaknesses become strengths.

The same test comes again in greater degree, until it is shown that a former weakness has become a strength, and the power to overcome evil has been established.”(3)

Tests provide us continuous feedback of our spiritual fitness, and if we are observant and repentant, we learn, change, and transform. Only those who make spiritual transformation a priority are “chosen.”

“In this day, everyone must be tested, as the time of the “chosen ones” to prove their worth is indeed very short. The day of attainment is drawing to a close for them. The “first fruits” must be ripened in spirit, mellowed in love, and consumed by their self-sacrifice and severance. None other are acceptable as first fruits, and all who fail to attain to the standard through the tests, are relegated to the “many who are called”.

“The more one is severed from the world, from desires, from human affairs, and conditions, the more impervious does one become to the tests of God.” (3)

Maybe, the greater the ego is, the greater the tests? We were created to reflect the light of God and our egos prevent us from receiving our portion of Divine light. Let us thank God for the tests that are sent to us that allow our true light to shine.

Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.” (5)

Walking the spiritual path together

Your study partner, Barbara

1. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 26)

2. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 4)



5. Paris Talks

FASTING DAY 15: The EGO Has Got to GO!

Parents have always been cautious in watching their children pick their friends. Why, because people are contagious and if we are not careful, we can become like those we hang around most. We want to make sure that our closest confidants won’t encourage us to get in trouble and are of good character. The ego is like a very close, but very bad friend. In the last message, we talked about the ego and how we must subdue it if we want God’s grace. Our true essence is soul and not body. Both require education, but a different kind of education.

Baha’i education will strongly emphasize, therefore, the true nature of man, as an immortal soul which has both the opportunity and the obligation of spiritual development. In accordance with his dual nature, man’s selfhood or “ego” can become either degenerate or regenerate. Either we are constantly advancing on the spiritual path, or we are daily retrogressing. Even to remain inactive is to decay. (1)

Pause, “to be inactive is to decay”? Perhaps that is why we are taught that death is better than to spend our lives only on our “sensual desires,” especially when we have been singled out with so great an honor to be humans with a soul and endowed with the attributes of God.

“…If the health and welfare of man be spent in sensual desires, in a life on the animal plane, and in devilish pursuits — then disease is better than such health; nay, death itself is preferable to such a life. If thou art desirous of health, wish thou health for serving the Kingdom.”(2)

It requires a bit of humility to realize that we need help in subduing the ego. We have Abdu’l-Baha as our example:

“…One must be able with the spiritual eyes to see the things of the spirit. If we are like Him we must realize that we are nothing and that God is all – must eliminate the ego – surrender the self – and allow God to do His work in us instead of imagining that we have any power to accomplish it within ourselves.”(3)

We needn’t fear the powerful ego because through prayer, living the life, obedience to the commands of God and submission to His Will, we can subdue it! My sister used to say, “We need to stay prayed up!” I agree that it is through prayer that we get our power to soar and be protected against violent tests.

“We must pray night and day to endure unto the end and be protected from the shock of tests and trials. Prayer is the wing whereby the soul of man soars upward to the heaven of nearness.”(4)


  1. “Man’s selfhood or “ego” can become either degenerate or regenerate.
  2. Either we are constantly advancing on the spiritual path, or we are daily retrogressing.
  3. Even to remain inactive is to decay.” (1)
  4. “Self and ego,” he said, “were like a cage, a prison. A man may be outwardly prosperous, but if he does not save himself from egotism, he is degraded and debased; while outside of the prison of self he is free, though (bodily) he might be in the greatest prison.” (5)
  5. “The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires.” (6)
  6. “This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside. (7)”
  7. Asked, “What is Satan?” He replied: “The insistent self.”
  8. “The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has,
  9. The lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.”(8)
  10. “Intelligence, as it appears, is but an instrument of the ego by which it succeeds in achieving its desires, and as such can make no guarantee of continuity or stability to human progress.”(9)
  11. Envy, jealousy, hatred, ambition — all the demoniacal forces which the ego of man can give rise to … have raised, in the hearts of more than one person, their ugly heads.” (10)

Walking the spiritual path together as we subdue our egos

Barbara Talley 2019,2021, 2022


1) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 12, p. 877)

2) (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 376)

3) (David’s Collection, Hooper Harris Notes 1907) of Abdul-Baha’s Talks

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

5) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

6) (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 286)

7) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 13, p. 1187)

8) (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 113, From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 10, 1947)

9) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 9, p. 749)

10) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 11, p. 122)

FASTING DAY 14: Self-Restraint Against the Powerful EGO

The Fast is also known as the season of self restraint. We have learned that tests are necessary for our growth as spiritual beings. We have also reflected on the promise that we are destined to receive a greater portion of Divine Bounty during these days of the Fast. Well, it seems that there is a condition for receiving that bounty, and that is allowing our ego to veil us from receiving.

“For, no veil is greater than egotism and no matter how thin that covering may be, yet it will finally veil man entirely and prevent him from receiving a portion from the eternal bounty. (1)”

“For man, by his constitution, has an ego, a lower self within… The quelling of this ego is indeed the essential task that confronts the aspiring soul.” (2)

Tests have a vital purpose, for they remove “the rust of egotism from the mirror of the heart until the Sun of Truth may shine therein. (3) ”

‘Abdu’l-Baha calls the ego by different names, the insistent self, Satan, the animal within us, and the lower nature. He warns that,

“The love of self, which if directed to the ego will deprive man of all true development, but if the love of self is a realization that one is a creature of God and must therefore attain to the station appointed for him, this love will be an uplifting one.” (4)

We were created noble! The ego abases us and is one of the sources of our shame.

Our sense of shame is because the nobler element within us, the divinely bestowed reality, is fully aware of the surrender of the conscious ego to inferior and wholly mortal snares.” (5)

“Attachment to the self includes attachment
1) to
ideas which are “mine”,
2) to the
ego which can be bruised,
3) to the
desire for one’s own wishes to be accepted.”

We all want clarity and certitude; fortunately, “A mind freed from personal ambition and detached from the ego, can see more clearly.” (7)

We have also learned that we cannot afford to become hopeless. So, what can we do? The All-Merciful Creator, through His Manifestation, has shown us four specific things we can do to subdue the powerful ego:

1) “By OBEYING the laws of God,

2) SEEKING to LIVE THE LIFE laid down in our teachings, and

3) PRAYER and

4) STRUGGLE, we can subdue our egos.

We call people ‘Saints’ who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego.”(8)

Walking the spiritual path together as we subdue our egos

Barbara Talley 2019,2021, 2022


1. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 371)

2. George Townshend(BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 15, p. 792)

3. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 371)

4) ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in A Brief Account of My Visit to Acca, Chicago, 1905, p. 38. page 127 (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West – 5)

5) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 5, p. 623)

6) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 15, p. 776)

7) (BW – Baha’i World Volumes, Volume 11, p. 690)

8) (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –