The Summer of the Rising Tides, Day 37: Only Love

2

July 7, 2020-

Today is Aram’s birthday. My calls to/from him are most often open-ended, both in terms of time and subjects of conversation. This morning was no different. Two hours and change about covered the gamut.

These sorts of exchanges with family are all too rare, even in COVID times, but they are invariably infused with love. Today’s topic for Harmonic Convergence was “The Leadership of Love”. There were a wide range of subtopics covered, from how to direct love towards someone who comes across as unloving, to the roots of materialistic society-and what a non-materialistic (love-based) society might resemble.

Aram used to raise the last possibility, in his late teens. I would always point out that we are hard-wired, as a species, to need a medium of exchange-and that currency has been with us, at least since the first coins were minted at the order of King Croesus, if not since his predecessor, Midas of Lydia, amassed gold.

There was a lengthy, and rather ultraconservative, argument presented, this afternoon, that the entire system of financial transaction, from monetized housing to wages themselves, despite having been in place for so many millennia, is not divinely ordained in perpetuity.

Indeed, Baha’u’llah teaches that man is free to continue using money and compound interest as tools to amass such wealth as can be used for the good of mankind-and yet, it is love, not material wealth, that will be the guarantor of the fullness of a spiritually-rooted civilization. Money’s present role as the “lifeblood” of civilization is not guaranteed to remain so.

This is quite simple, when one gives it thought. Money comes and goes, in the lives of most people, as does fame and even public approval. Love, however, can outlast all of these, as it is the bedrock of all life, of all consciousness.

It has ever been, and will always be.

Wednesday, the Thirteenth

4

May 13, 2020-

The day began with rough energy.  I reflected that negativity is often associated with Friday the 13th.  I have been, and remain, determined to not let negativity dominate my day-even on days when I have been dismissed from a position or facing the loss of a loved one.

I read the obituary of a childhood friend- the closest personal connection I have, thus far, to Coronavirusdisease2019.  A short time later, when I was preparing to do a routine task, the most basic step momentarily escaped me. I felt my friend’s energy and the step came to my consciousness.

By mid-morning, the negativity had passed.  I went to visit some friends who have a restaurant, in a small shopping center, on the edge of town.  They were on their third day back, after staying closed for sixty days.  They are very much people of the soil, of the ranch.  Thus, what you see is what you get-and no apologies.  I’ve always had an open heart for those who speak their own truth-not aimed AT others, in an ad hominem manner, but in an inclusive, welcoming fashion.  I always have a seat at their counter.

This evening, the draw has been to a Baha’i-oriented spiritual discussion, on Baha’u’llah’s meditiative work, The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys.  I write this, whilst listening to a recording of a Zoom call that I missed early this afternoon.  It is from a gatheriong called Gaia Calling.  The meditation and the insights gained here are reinforcing various other spiritual sites, to which I’ve been drawn, especially during this time of widespread turmoil.

The moderator spoke of a “dance” between linear time (the Earth time, in which we operate) and organic time (the spiritual movement that has always been in play).  I feel this happening more now, than I ever have.  On “good” days and on “bad”, my feeling these days is far closer to natural rhythms, to Earth, to the Universe, to the Divine.

Surprises

2

April 21, 2020-

Today,

the second day of Ridvan,

produced these:

I experienced a higher

than usual

level of energy

and positivity,

upon rising,

this morning;

A video,

not made by a Baha’i,

which affirms several

basic teachings

of Baha’u’llah,

regarding the future

of humanity;

I had an easier time

doing the exercises

in my online yoga class;

It rained, a fair amount,

this morning and afternoon,

despite a forecast of sunshine.

I was able to complete

the first module

of an online course in

Humanitarian Assistance.

(I am, at the age of 69, unlikely to be called to serve in any real capacity, by humanitarian agencies, but it helps to gain this perspective, in case of any unforeseen emergencies, even in this country.)

 

 

 

Paradise and Change

8

April 20, 2020-

As I bid farewell to my Baha’i friends, after the Zoom call that commemorated the First Day of Ridvan, I found a message, essentially telling me I was part of a greater problem, for having attended the Holy Day observance.

Ridvan is Persian for “paradise”.  The Garden of Ridvan was a salubrious place, just outside Baghdad.  In 1863, Baha’u’llah and His family were preparing to obey the edict of the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan, and depart Baghdad for Constantinople (Istanbul).  They camped in Ridvan Garden for twelve days, April 21-May 2. As we use a lunar calendar, called the Badi Calendar, to reckon our Holy Days, the actual dates may fluctuate, as they have this year. So, today is the Festival’s first day and May 1, the twelfth day.  In between, there is a commemoration of the ninth day, during which Baha’u’llah revealed His Station, as Messenger of God, to His family and camp followers. We Baha’is commemorate all three days, as sacred.

No one who knows me really thinks I sit around and am content to merely observe ritual or tradition.  At the same time, observing special occasions with friends is NOT wrong, nor is it wasteful.  There are those, however, who feel it their duty to savage people, for whatever reason they have cooked up in their minds.  My inclination is to not let their diatribes turn me aside from what I know to be my spiritual path.  One of my spiritual advisers urges me to stay on my path, and I’m sure that. were I to consult the others, they would agree.

There will, no doubt, be many changes coming our way, in the immediate future and throughout this decade.  The 24/7 nature of our news and communications have many people in an uproar. Some will make risky choices and suffer for them, possibly taking others down with them.  Others will want to make choices FOR others, offering to take control of many lives-“in the name of scientific progress”.   I will, as I’ve said recently, make my own choices and they will take both my needs, and those of the multitude whom I love, into consideration.  For that matter, I will consider the safety and well-being of those who attack me, as well.  God created them, too, even if they don’t see it.

This has been a year of meticulously taking one day at a time-and it will continue as such, well after COVID19 has subsided.

My Four Tent Posts, and Center

4

April 18, 2020-

Today would have been the start of Earth Week, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Earth Day One.  As it happened, I spent quality time (2 hours) watching and listening to young people talking about their concerns regarding Mother Earth.  Few are really blaming all of the mess on the human race, but each made the point that we are not blameless, nor are we powerless, in the face of the climate challenge. Youth groups and the Farmers’ Market are my anchors, in this Center that is my Home Base.

There are also four spiritual posts, one in each direction, that help me stay centered, and which have connections to one another, and to the Center.

East– The Baha’i Faith originated in Iran, spread gradually in all directions, and is now found in nearly every nation on Earth, with its World Centre being in Haifa, Israel. The Teachings of Baha’u’llah have confirmed my lifelong conviction that there is only one Race,the Human Race, and that all religious teachings emanate from One Creator.   This eastern spiritual post has led me to the others.  http://www.bahai.org

South– Elizabeth Peru is based in Adelaide, South Australia.  I was drawn to her website, was introduced to her daily guided meditations and insights into the interaction between Earth and all other elements of the Cosmos.  These meditations and observations both affirm and enrich my own.  The southern spiritual post affirms my connectedness with all living beings.  http://www.elizabethperu.com

West– Earth Rising, based in San Francisco, also focuses on the connectedness of all beings on the planet and in the innate spirituality of mankind.  I was drawn to this site, through other Baha’i friends on social media.  It’s a private group on Facebook, yet I feel abundantly welcome, and affirmed here.  I join in regular digital conferencing of this group and its affiliate, Gaia Calling.  New members are welcomed, through Earth Rising’s Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1039631319395983/

North– Chief Phil Lane is a longtime Baha’i friend and well-deepened Lakota spiritual guide.  His Four Worlds International Institute, in the Vancouver area of British Columbia, is in many ways a North Star.  I have deep genetic memory of being connected to First Nations people, especially those of the eastern woodlands.  Four Worlds has graciously welcomed me into its fold, with regular digital conferencing, for the time being. http://www.fwii.net

In the midst of the current turmoil, I have increasingly felt the need for these four posts, and for my center.  There is, I feel, a new society rising out of all that is happening, and all that remains to happen, in the foreseeable future.  Those who live their truth have little cause for alarm.

Light, Out of Calamity

8

March 27, 2020-

In some of mankind’s darkest moments,  advances have come from the suffering, like small mammals coming forth after the Age of Dinosaurs.  These advances, in short order, became a part of the fabric of human culture.

After the Great Plague, of the Fourteenth Century, Europeans began to return to embracing science, rather than superstition, in treating illnesses.  The primacy of Cardinals and Bishops began to face widespread scrutiny, and the stirrings of Protestantism were felt.  The Catholic Church itself had to make changes, under Ignatius Loyola.  Advances in scientific discovery came, as a result of these trends.

After the American Civil War, the Red Cross was started, by Clara Barton, as a means of assisting soldiers, in time of calamity.  It quickly expanded to help society at large, in times of disaster.

After World War I, movements to assist disabled and unassisted veterans, in returning to civilian life began, with the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans. These organizations still make large scale efforts to assist those who suffer from dislocation, or from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

After World War II, mass production of houses, the science of rocketry, television and large computers became part of the civilian world, having been first advanced within the military sphere.  From large, room-sized computers have come hundreds of technological products, many of them falling into the realm of nanotechnology.

Now, we will await the advances coming out of the struggle against Coronavirus Disease 2019.  Teleconferencing, already available for business, government and limited conversations between family members and other small groups, has exploded in use, as nearly every group, which conducted its business in person, has found ways to meet virtually. Even when the crisis has ended, I can see the sheer range of teleconferencing leading to its continued wide use among the public at large.  It will also greatly modify the educational process, even more than it has to date.

The retrofitting of factories that produce a wide variety of products, from airplanes to distilled spirits, are now also producing items that will help face the virus.  Ventilators, medical-grade masks and hand sanitizer will still need to be stockpiled, even after this virus has spent its rampage.  Preparedness will not soon, if ever, be relegated to the realm of memory.

There will be many tasks, which the technology and skill sets coming out of the current crisis will need to be called to perform. Not the least of these is completing the still gargantuan effort to provide all homes with clean, running water and reliable heat or cooling.  This work will occupy post-pandemic humanity for years, if not decades.

Out of  the darkness comes a greater light.  Baha’u’llah teaches:

“O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it.”

 

 

Stillness

2

March 15, 2020-

This is the midpoint of  Women’s History Month, the alleged date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated and another day in the continuing collective human response to Coronavirus 19.  Once one gets past the toilet paper hoarders, the nonsensical pandemic deniers claiming this is just a hoax by “the Liberals” (or Bill Gates, et al), and those who think closing the borders will, in and of itself, stop the virus in its tracks, it’s easy to see the big picture.

It is not hard to stay home, if that’s what it will take for the human race to recover.  It is not  too hard to conduct lessons for children, in small neighbourhood groups, if schools are closed (and I will be among those offering such a service, especially if the school where I am working now is closed).  It is not impossible to share what one has, in the way of food, cleaning supplies, etc., if others ask.  My grandparents’ generation raised families and kept their lives together, under far worse conditions, during the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and World War Ii.

It begins with becoming still, with focusing and remembering just who we are and of what we are made.  Baha’u’llah, Whose life and Whose family’s lives were excruciating at times, calls the process being “dry in the ocean”.  I have sometimes been viewed as being too sanguine, but this is exactly what got my family through Penny’s long illness and her passing. It is what got my parents, long before that, through my youngest brother’s very long struggle and decline in health-and got our family through the passing of my father.

Those who stick together are the survivors of each crisis and the teachers, come the next subsequent calamity.

I’ve posted this song before, but it seems apropos once again.

Quantum, and Other, Leaps

4

February 29, 2020-

Whilst working as a teacher aide in a small school in Maine, I was paired with a seasoned teacher, who also happened to have been born on February 29.  She had  flexible birthday celebrations, usually sticking with the 28th, for the three years that her actual birthday was not on the calendar.

Leap Day has long been a source of fascination to me, as my own date of birth is the 28th of November, and thus I mark mensiversaries in my mind-especially as I’ve gotten on in years.  So, today is a bonus, of sorts, as I mark being 69 1/4 years of age.

Many of us take quantum leaps in our minds, in any given area of life with which we may be dissatisfied, or in which we think matters are not quite moving in the direction that they might.  Flights of fancy, while temporarily assuaging discomfort, don’t actually end up solving problems.

They do, however, many times end up being the grist for ideas which may be practical, in a future time.   Baha’u’llah  offered many concepts, in the mid-to late-19th Century, which seemed ludicrous in the context of that day and age, but many of which make sense now, and others which are predicated on Mankind’s moving beyond the mindset of even our relatively global way of thinking.

Most people, with whom I speak about the Baha’i Faith, are fine with the Oneness of the Human Race, overcoming prejudices, equality of men and women and universal peace.  The mechanics and details are another matter.  No one, including the Baha’is, wants to see a world government that is less than transparent, or less than a government which honours dignity, harmony and participation by the people.  The difference in opinion comes largely from fear that ANY global entity will have nefarious purposes.  Christ warns about such tyranny, and so does Baha’u’llah.  Only after world peace is truly established, can serious talk about democratically-elected international bodies be undertaken.

So, we continue to take leaps of faith and of mental acuity.  Some are quantum in nature; others are more tenuous. I have done both, in my mind, all the while recognizing that some ideas that I have are bound to prove as practical as my short legs would be, were I to attempt Parkour.  It’s worth the mental effort, though, to at least run them through my mind.

Happy Leap Day, all!

 

A Humble Posture of Learning

9

November 21, 2019-

One of the things our parents instilled in my siblings and me is that it’s possible to learn from anyone.  I took that as a dictum to listen and to draw lessons from what someone does, as well as what is said.

Jordan Peterson’s tenth rule for life is just that:  “Learn from those who know what you don’t know.”  Watching and listening is always a good thing, when combined with the ability to discern right from wrong.  I can listen to someone describe how they snookered gullible people, in their old neighbourhood, and LEARN:  1). How not to let that person, or someone like him/her, take advantage of me; 2.  How not to treat a gullible person.  On the other hand, I can watch and listen, carefully, to a seasoned automobile engine mechanic demonstrate how to remove and replace the rings and valves of the engine, and maybe, given the right circumstances, perform the activity myself.

A Roma man, in Paris, after failing to con me into taking a ring that I had seen him drop on the sidewalk, decided to tell me of  other tricks that his rivals, on the Right Bank of the Seine, might try on me.  These tips came in handy, especially as when it started pouring rain, I only wanted to get back to my hotel.  Yes, the scams included “Monsieur, look! My uncle is coming, with his pedicab!!” (There was no pedicab, as my Roma friend had told me there wouldn’t be.   He had said that, if I looked on cue, two deft fingers would search my back pockets.  As it happened, I had only a soiled handkerchief in my  back right pocket, and nothing in my left, as my valuables were secure, elsewhere.)

One can also learn from observing others, and from overhearing them.  I try to keep that to a polite minimum, but it has often been beneficial, so long as I don’t try to inject myself into their business, without cause.

The greater point is:  None of us knows everything, and those who pretend as much, fool few outside of their own circle-if even them.  Baha’u’llah prescribes adopting a humble posture of learning.  It is that which leads me to read, to observe what goes on around my Home Base, to stay abreast of  current events and to travel, when time avails itself.

The Conscious Step Away From An Abyss

15

November 20, 2019-

So, it now happens that, if I want to truly understand what Jordan Peterson is trying to say, in his Twelve Rules for Life, I will have to actually read his book.    The reason is the depth of Rule 9.  A simple synopsis is: Understand Your Dark Side. Know exactly that of which you are capable, and resolve not to do it.

Each of us has a dual nature, which is exactly why Christ endured 40 days of temptation and His Crucifixion.  He wanted us to know that the path away from self-destruction lay totally in following the Teachings of the Divine, which derive, essentially, from the Golden Rule.  Not only acts of goodness, but consciousness and dismissal of, the darkness within.  Baha’u’llah endured the indignity of His tormentors, who included many within His own family, that we may see the two paths down which we might each go, and that we may choose  the Path of Light.

I have had struggles, all throughout this life, and only after enduring Penny’s disease, vicariously- and as her caretaker; only after wrestling with left-over baggage, following her passing, and making a conscious decision to turn aside from the darkness, have I ended up in a place of Light.  So, I get the gist of what Dr. Peterson speaks here.  Seeing the dark, and teetering on the edge of it, is debilitating. Seeing the goodness, and nurturing it, sends the spirit soaring.