Fourth Quarter Musings

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October 2, 2022- The ten-year-old girl was apologetic, as she corrected me about a certain procedure, at an event where I was volunteering, this afternoon. I assured her that the advice was welcome, and well-taken. The correction made all the difference, and obviated any embarrassment that would have ensued, had I not been reminded of the proper procedure.

My relationships with people, regardless of age, gender, or any other physical or social consideration, have matured, evolved-to the point where the only thing that matters, at all, is character. This is especially true since 2015, which was about the time that I left recovery mode, four years after Penny’s passing. Even vicious people whom I encountered were able to provide insights that could be incorporated into my personal growth. They were, on balance, not people of good character, so they are no longer in my life. The lessons, though, remain.

As we enter the fourth quarter of this year that has brought sea changes to many aspects of our lives, I find myself closing the door on things I find bogus: The almost whimsical political e-mails, which change with the wind, and whose intent is solely to wring money out of the fearful; the “controversy” over an African-American woman playing James Madison’s crystal flute-with dignity and respect, I might add; in fact, ANY claim that people should mind their place. I treat children with the respect that is their birthright. I treat elders with the respect that their long lives have earned, as well as being their birthright. I treat everyone in between, with the same respect. It is nice that I am able to bring genuine smiles to people’s faces, as a result of that respect.

My goals for the next three months are fairly straightforward. I will work a bit, this week, and over parts of November and December. I will help the Red Cross and local service groups, when I can. Visits with friends in Nevada and Idaho will take up a couple of weeks, later this month, followed by two days celebrating the Birthdays of al-Bab and Baha’u’llah, the dates of which are a day apart. November will see a visit to Monument Valley and with some friends in southeast Utah. Thanksgiving, as has been the case for the past two years, will be spent with my little family, in Grapevine. It is there that I will turn 72. December will see a three-day visit to southern California, just before Christmas and to Taos and Santa Fe, just after. Christmas itself will be here at Home Base.

Everything that is worth while is based on love. So on we go.

Thorns, and Scars

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April 15, 2022- The weary Teacher completed the task assigned Him, by the feckless Roman Governor of Palestine. He carried the wooden cross that was to be His final abode on Earth, laid upon it, at the designated spot on Mount Calvary, was nailed to it hand and foot, and watched as slaves using ropes, raised Man and Device to uprightness and secured it in the ground.

It was asked of the onlookers, “Who do you wish us to absolve, this day?” Legend says that the crowd chose a suspected insurrectionist, Barabbas, to be released, leaving the Teacher to be left to die on the cross. The rest that transpired is solemnly commemorated, by all who love the Teacher, as Good Friday, the day on which the sins of the faithful were subsumed by His death.

The Creator has forgiven His creatures, throughout the life of the Universe. It has always come at the expense of the suffering of the Divine Teachers, sent to show us just what the cost of ignorant and feckless behaviour is. Jesus the Christ wore a crown of thorns and later appeared to His Disciples, showing them the scars on His hands and side.

Some Hindus believe Krishna, the Founder of the Hindu Faith, was tied to a tree and shot with arrows until dead. Al-Bab, the Herald of the Baha’i Faith, was executed by a firing squad of 750 soldiers. Baha’u’llah, while not executed, was tortured at various times, before and after He proclaimed His Mission. Such acts have always been carried out by the powermongers of the time, who know that the Teacher has come to bring purification to the human race, thus potentially ending their reigns and bringing true knowledge and power to the common folk.

Today is the most widely observed commemoration of such a travesty, and may its lessons be truly brought home to human consciousness, after nearly 2000 years of its Story being told.

Justice Is A Long Haul

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November 24, 2021, Grapevine, TX- “The best beloved of all things in my sight is justice.”-Baha’u’llah.

Tonight, after sundown and all day tomorrow marks the 109th observance of the Day of the Covenant, a day set aside by Baha’is to honour the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. This happened because He was born on May 23, 1844, which was the very day that al-Bab, Herald of the coming of Baha’u’llah, declared His own Mission to the world. ‘Abdu’l-Baha would never have countenanced anything on His behalf which would have taken even a smidgen of attention away from honouring al-Bab, on that day. He acquiesced to letting the Faithful devote one day a year in honour of His life: November 26, by solar reckoning. When we switched to observing several Holy Days by lunar reckoning, there came about circumstances when the Holy Day falls a day or two before 11/26.

The Covenant between Baha’u’llah and His followers, of which ‘Abdu’l-Baha was the chief Exemplar, is an agreement rooted in justice. Divinely inspired justice is hardly a matter of an imagined deity tossing lightning bolts at miscreants or any kind of deus ex maxina, for that matter. Like its more human derivative, true justice is a process. and a therefore a long haul.

I mention all this because there are times when a person who commits a moral failing, but not a criminal act, may be found innocent of criminal wrongdoing, by a jury of peers and continue to suffer within self and within the wider society. History is replete with such cases, and no names need be mentioned here.

There are also cases where a person, or people, are found guilty of criminal wrongdoing, by a similar jury and the wider society finds agreement-with a minority of people begging to differ. We saw such a verdict rendered today. The matter in question took a long time to resolve, as several commentators have observed, with some further allusions to the ongoing investigations into the affairs of January 6.

Justice is a long haul. The perpetrators of the murders of Emmett Till and of Medgar Evers, as well as the killers of the little girls in the Birmingham bombing of 1963, were brought to justice with all deliberate speed-but the convictions held. The alleged assassins of John F. and Robert Kennedy and of Martin Luther King, Jr. were brought to swift justice-either judicial or vigilante, but were they the sole killers-or even the actual ones, or were they just convenient scapegoats? I have my doubts, especially following the recent revelations regarding the assassination of Malcolm X.

The justice which meshes with that described by Baha’u’llah is potentially an arduous process, one that merits careful contemplation, on this Day of the Covenant, which leads us into the American Thanksgiving. That it is so, does not diminish its importance in our lives.

Twins

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November 6, 2021- The presence of multiples in my life-doubles, triples, quadruples, and so on, tends invariably to enrich experiences. My twin sisters-in-law have been a prime example, and but for the care provided for Penny’s mother, in her last years, those years would have been a lot drearier. They still are close with one another, long after her passing in 2018, and I hope to visit them, and other family and friends, in March of next year.

The greatest influence in my life, over the past forty years, has been the collective Teachings of Baha’u’llah-and of His Herald, al-Bab. As long-time readers of this blog may remember, the birthdays of both Messengers of God have been celebrated over two consecutive days, in either October or November, according to lunar reckoning (Badi calendar), for nearly seven years. Prior to that, we Baha’is followed the observances according to each Messenger’s birthday by solar reckoning (Gregorian calendar), to wit: October 20, for al-Bab and November 12, for Baha’u’llah. Lovely gatherings, both virtual and in-person are being held this weekend, with today in honour of al-Bab and tomorrow, in honour of Baha’u’llah. That these celebrations dovetail with the Hindu Festival of Light, or Diwali, is an added bounty.

The greatest blessing upon the Universe and all of us who dwell in it, is light-whether it be in its natural physical form, in the form generated by electricity, in the illumination provided by truth or the healing energy of love. Light propels life along a strengthening and progressive path. Its twin, equally beneficial, in light’s wake, is heat-in its proper measure. The correct amount of heat sustains life, maintains health and, in terms of the heat of truth-generates understanding and enlightenment.

Thus, we have examples of two being better than one, as are bonded couples, pairs of siblings and dyadic teams. More essentially, where would we be without the Double Helix?

July Road Notes, Day 5: Radiant Energy

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July 9, 2021, Grapevine- Al-Bab, the Herald of Baha’u’llah, was executed by firing squad, in Tabriz, Iran, 131 years ago today. It took two tries, for the deed to be done-simply because it was God’s will, in my view, that the Blessed Herald complete certain business, before His time on Earth was to end. Once that business was completed, Man, in his ignorance, was permitted to have his way. The same thing was true, with regard to Jesus the Christ, to Moses, to Muhammad, to Krishna, to Gautama Siddhartha-and to Baha’u’llah Himself. Each Messenger of the Creator -and a good number of His followers, has endured indignities and suffering, at the hands of those who don’t understand the reason for His appearance.

Each time such a Messenger appears, radiant energy is set in motion. Those with eyes to see and ears to hear will pick up on this energy, and become the Messenger’s most fervent followers. Those who oppose the Messenger also sense the energy, and are alarmed at what they know is the threat to their positions, their privilege and their preconceived notions of how the world should unfold.

Nonetheless, the radiant energy will spread-and its effects have always been two-pronged. In the cases of both the crucifixion of Christ and the execution of al-Bab, there were severe earthquakes, within three days of the events. In addition, those soldiers who participated in the second firing squad, which killed al-Bab, were subjected to a terrible earthquake, within a year of His execution and 250 of them died. Later that year, the remaining 500 members of the regiment mutinied and were summarily executed by order of the Army Commander.

The positive radiant energy plays out, in both long and short-term effects. In each spiritual dispensation, advances in knowledge, in a wide variety of areas, occur at a very fast pace. We saw this in the Greek Golden Age, which followed the Dispensations of both Moses and Buddha-as did the first Golden Age in India. Pax Romana was contemporary with the Ministry of Christ. The appearance of Muhammad led to a period of High Civilization around the Mediterranean region, which later spread across western Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, in what we know as the Renaissance. Following the Declaration of al-Bab, advances in technology began to outpace all that had occurred in the previous 500 years. This has only been magnified 100-fold, since the Ministry of Baha’u’llah, though I invite each of you to investigate these matters for yourself.

The presence of radiant energy is something that bears careful watching.

Rising and Renewal

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April 5, 2021- As many are aware, today is Easter Sunday (Resurrection Sunday). The day was first intended to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesu the Christ from the dead, three days after His Crucifixion and death, at the hands of Roman soldiers acting at the behest of two Jewish Zealot leaders, Annas and Caiaphas.

Jesus’ disciples were understandably despondent, feeling as if their faith was shaken and not knowing in which direction to go from that low point in their fortunes. There was just one fly in the Zealots’ ointment: They were not acting according to the Will of God, but according to their own craving for power. What is willed by the Creator, whether we think it is coming from the Universe, or from God’s Messenger (Divine Teacher) for the day in which that Messenger makes Self known, is what will happen-maybe sooner, or maybe later-but in any case, in God’s own time.

Three days after He was killed, Christ appeared to His Disciples, even allowing one of them, Thomas, to put his hand in His side. Spiritual Beings can do whatever God wants Them to do-especially if They have been teaching humanity in His Name. So, it is not hard to understand the appearance of Jesus the Christ before His Disciples, three days postmortem.

In July, 1850, Baha’u’llah’s Herald, al-Bab, did the same thing, albeit for a much shorter period of time. When He was first executed by a firing squad, in Tabriz, Persia, al-Bab was not to be found, when the smoke had cleared. He was subsequently found in a small room at the prison, dictating some business to an associate. Once He had completed His business, al-Bab consented to be brought back to the execution court. There, He was again the target of a firing squad, which this time completed its mission.

The Creator does not abandon us, nor does He prevent us from making our own choices, both good and bad, based on free will. The decisions Man makes which are counterproductive do not hurt God in any way. In the two cases cited above, Christ and al-Bab returned to Their Father, Who sent Them. People were left to do the hard work of interpreting Their guidance, on our own. Those who truly loved their Teachers followed those instructions. Others followed the whims of their own fancies and imaginations-as the Zealots had before them.

Resurrection Sunday thus celebrates the undying Power of the Creator, to renew the Message He sends us, and to renew our Faith in His Guidance, which is, as Baha’u’llah said, “Eternal in the past, eternal in the future.”

The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 39: Oppression

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July 9, 2020-

The Baha’i world commemorated the Martyrdom of al-Bab, the Herald of our Founder’s coming and a Messenger of God, in His own right. Al-Bab announced His Mission, to a lone seeker, in May, 1844. Just six years later, despite having been incarcerated three times, in three separate prisons, by a fearful Muslim clergy and government, His followers numbered in the hundreds of thousands. In that sixth year of His Mission, on July 9, 1850, al-Bab faced a firing squad, in the main public square of Tabriz, a large city in northwest Iran. Accompanied by a steadfast young follower, named Anis, He stood with confidence, as 750 soldiers fired at Him. When the smoke cleared, Anis stood alone. Al-Bab was found, in a room in another part of the prison, completing business He had with another follower, which had been interrupted by the execution. Once the papers were signed, He went with the guards, back to the courtyard. This time, 750 other men stood in file, and fired. When the smoke cleared again, the bodies of al-Bab and Anis were fused together, and their faces untouched, and serene.

This has been corroborated by foreign emissaries, who witnessed the event, and had no impetus to weave a falsehood. As Christ suffered horrifically, at the hands of the Roman Centurions and the Sanhedrin priests, so did al-Bab suffer at the hands of the Muslim clergy and representatives of the Shah.

Oppression has ever been the lot of those whose existence is marginalized by those in power. This is true today, in a good many nations of the world, whether it be directed at African-Americans, First Nations people and cross-border immigrants, in nearly every country of the Western Hemisphere; at Roma people, across the European continent and in the Middle East; at Palestinian Arabs, in several west Asian nations-not just Israel; at lower caste people, Christians and Muslims in India, as well as Christians and Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh; at Dravidians and Black First Nations people, across south Asia; at non-Bantus, across sub-Saharan Africa; and at those not of the Han nation, in China, at non-Burmese, in Myanmar or those not Javanese, in Indonesia. Australian First Nations people face an uphill battle in their country, as do Maoris and other Pacific Islanders, in New Zealand. Whites in South Africa and Zimbabwe find the tables turned on them, with a vengeance. Ainus in Japan, and “Negritos” in the Philippines are still struggling for acceptance.

There are those who want to turn the tables on conservative Christians, in this country. This reflects poorly on those taking that stance. I stand, now, for those oppressed, according to the historical record. This will not be addressed, or corrected, by counter-oppression. The conservative, for one thing, will not change his/her own behaviour, or opinion, by being subjected to reverse oppression. I will not stand idly by, if this happens.

We are all sacred beings, and the time to change our behaviour towards other sacred beings has drawn nigh.

Random Observations, on A Quiet Sunday

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November 3, 2019-

I see that my recent posts have led quite a few people to delete my site.   All the best, but my writing is, first and foremost, sharing my thoughts, not pandering to yours.  If I have ten followers left, so be it.

People who stand up for themselves very often have to get past the trolls and pundits.  I notice that, in the current presidential campaign.  Anyone who crosses the Establishment is attacked as “weird”.   That will never change their truth.

We had a great day, yesterday, as 65 people observed the Bicentenary of the Birth of al-Bab, at Prescott Senior Center.

I heard a Roman Catholic say, this morning, that all Muslims should be killed.  The Quran mentions Jesus, in a reverent way, countless times-and more often than the New Testament.  Fighting extremism is one thing, blind genocide, quite another.  By the way, anyone interested in mass slaughter, of any population, will have to include me among their victims.  God willing, I’d be standing in front. (Yes, that includes Christians being persecuted by Muslims and Hindus. Wrong is wrong.)

The most important thing facing me, this month, is setting up a safe, comfortable place for my daughter-in-law, who will be here for several weeks in December, while her husband is separated from the Regular Navy.  Happily, he will have six years of Reserve duty, to help them get established in civilian life.

 

 

 

The Spiral

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November 2, 2019-

The day wound around, on a gradual upswing.  There being no Farmers’ Market today, I found my way to a special event:  Highland Nature Center’s Holiday Bazaar.  There, I found a booth where two young boys were selling some interesting, and well-made craft items, whilst being cheerfully coached by their father.  I bought a lavender cold pack, which is good for 30-40 uses.  Another booth had knit caps, for women and girls, so I bought one for a friend’s 3-year -old daughter.  Finally, some graphic artists had a booth, where I found a lovely “Welcome to Our Home” placard, as an advance gift for a couple who’ll be married next weekend.

With that, it was off to the preparation for our public observance of al-Bab’s Bicentenary.  A goodly crew of us set up an exquisite setting, at Prescott’s Senior Center, and all told, we had 65 people who attended all, or part, of the festivities.  It was a quality program, and I was glad to help several people feel at home, from a skittish woman who could barely relax, to a visitor, who was a friend of the hymn singer, and was happy to visit with the singer and his wife, if only for a short time.  The spiral continued upward.

We were done with clean-up by 5 p.m., but where is my cell phone?  I retraced my steps, found no phone, let the janitor of the hall know to look out for it, and left to take care of a couple, more urgent errands.  The errands done, a friend tipped me off that the event hall was still open, for an evening event.  So, back to the Center I went, and with the night janitor leading the way, I went to the back stage area, where I’d eaten a snack, out of sight of my satiated friends, towards the end of the set-up.

It was the night janitor who spotted my phone, neatly camouflaged, as it was monochromatic with the stereo speaker on which I’d set it, during said snack.  The day thus ended with yet another upward spiral.

 

Two Centuries Ago

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October 29, 2019-

Two hundred years ago,

Europe was pulling itself out of the wreckage of  the Napoleonic Wars.

The young United States of America was also healing from the wounds of  its second major war.

Asia was finding that Europeans, and some Americans, were interested in far more than trading goods. British outposts in Australia and India were established, towards the goal of domination of Asia. Spain had done likewise, in the Philippines.  France, Portugal and the Netherlands were not far behind.

Africa was seeing its enslavement declining, but a bigger problem-European ownership of land, would soon become the order of the age.  The Dutch had already established a settlement near the Cape of Good Hope.

In Persia (now Iran), a land that was seeing its own slow decline, two children were born, one in 1817, the other in 1819- with their birthdays coming a day apart. These boys would grow into men who would realize high spiritual stations.   These Messengers would stand out from Their peers, require little or no formal education and stand up, however respectfully, to the increasingly corrupt and wayward clergy and royalty of the Persian Empire.

The first of the two to declare His Mission was Mirza Ali Muhammad, known to posterity as al-Bab (  “Bab” being Arabic for “gate”.  He is commonly called The Bab, in English-speaking countries.) He was born in 1819, thus being honoured in the Bicentenary of His Birth, during this week.

Al-Bab was the Herald, or Forerunner, of Baha’u’llah, and declared His Mission in May, 1844, in the southern Persian city of Shiraz.  He appealed to thousands who were disillusioned by the state of Persian society.  Corruption and decadent behaviour were rife, across the country.  It was to this scene that Al-Bab spread His message that the human race should prepare itself for a Messenger, Who would bring Teachings that would unite humanity-not by force or by deception, but by independent investigation of truth and gradual bringing together of the hearts and minds of men.  This, of course, alarmed the powers that were, who, fearing the loss of their status, imprisoned al-Bab in three separate locations.  None of the three served to squelch His appeal to the masses.  Thus, in July, 1850, al-Bab was executed by firing squad, in the main square of Tabriz, in northwest Persia.  This, likewise, failed to destroy the Faith He had established.

Baha’u’llah, likewise, would endure His own series of persecutions,  to which I will refer tomorrow, on the 202nd anniversary of His birth.