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.

He Is Risen, and Now It’s Our Turn

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April 12, 2020-

When Jesus the Christ was slain on the cross, He did not give up the ghost and simply resurrect Himself, on the third day after His demise.  More importantly, He rekindled the Faith of His disciples and sent them forth to spread His Teachings, which alone were able to redirect a distracted and frightened world, as the Roman Empire was starting to witness the seeds of its hubris grow into the trees of destruction.

Millions around the world take solace, each Spring/Fall, in the knowledge that we are never left alone, by our Creator.  Buddhists have recently commemorated the Birth of Gautama Siddhartha.  For Jews, this comfort comes with Pesach(Passover).  Christians find it in today’s observance of Resurrection Sunday and next Sunday’s Pascha, the Day of Resurrection observed by Orthodox Christians. Muslims will begin Ramadan at the end of this month.  We Baha’is will observe Ridvan, the twelve day festival, commemorating Baha’u’llah’s first proclamation of His Station, from April 20-May 1, the time when He and His family were preparing for  exile from Baghdad to Istanbul (then still called Constantinople).

This sacred time, if we see with open eyes and hearts, blesses humanity, and our earthly home, as a whole.  Naturists and animists recognize the Divine Presence that comes around the time of the Vernal Equinox and which revisits us, in Autumn.  Thus has the Resurrection of Christ had implications for all humanity, from the day of its occurrence on forward.  God has blessed us with bounty and fertility, which are apparent to all who see with unclouded eyes.

It is now our turn to resurrect all that is sacred about life on Earth:  Compassion, listening with both ear and heart, a collective consciousness and plan of action, a workable and universal plan for distribution of the Earth’s bounty-so that none feel useless, starve or go without a measure of comfort. These cannot be accomplished from the top down, as some have suggested. Things which are forced on people, breed resentment and a desire for vengeance.  This is something that both “high” and “low” alike need to bear in mind.  It is essential that neither greed, nor a false sense of superiority, motivate the former.  It is also needful that neither envy nor despair compel the latter to act in ways that will bring everyone down further.  We need look no further than the French Revolution, or the rise and fall of the totalitarians of mid-20th Century Europe and Japan, to draw the necessary lessons.

Our resurrection, and that of Earth itself, will require heartfelt movement from both top and bottom.

A blessed season to all!

Pointing The Way

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April 10,2020-

“God works in mysterious ways.”  “Nothing happens until something moves”.  “_____________died for your sins.”

Today is Good Friday, the “good” part was explained to me, when I was a child, as being due to the sacrifice made by Jesus the Christ on that day; a sacrifice that showed God’s love for mankind and gave the human race another lease on the life of the spirit.  There is a great case to be made for the poswer of atonement.  For Christians, and all those who came after them-Muslims, Sikhs and Baha’is, that atonement includes recognizing the Divine Nature of Jesus.

I will not go into theology any further, here.  The most meaningful aspect of Good Friday, for me as a Baha’i, is that it serves as an ever present example, and presently the most universally well-known example, of God showing each of us how to face a situation of supreme, and supremely unjust, deprivation and suffering, and then turn it around to shower love upon all-even those who perpetrated the injustice.  It is God telling all men-“Even when you hurt Me, My love for you is undiminished.”

The life stories of all Messengers of God contain persistent and often misunderstood, elements of intense personal suffering.  The Passion of the Christ is the best known of these, and it’s well that His Crucifixion and Death serve to remind us of the supremacy of  the Creator’s eternal Love.  That Love would be further demonstrated,  three days later.

The Promise of Palms

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April 5, 2020-

A nonet, if you will:

The murmur of the crowd gathered strength

The tall, gentle man walked gamely

His route was roofed by palms

Fronds touched His fair head

Joy was the crowd’s

He was there!

Teacher

Christ

A nonet begins with a line of nine syllables, losing a syllable in each subsequent line, and finishing with one syllable.  As today is Palm Sunday, this is a gift for my Christian family and friends

 

 

Solstice to Christmas

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December 22, 2019- 

Last night marked the December Solstice, and though I didn’t do anything special to mark the passing of the shortest amount of sunlight, I felt the energy.  I call this  the December Solstice, being mindful that as we in the North experience cold and darkness, our brothers and sisters in the South have heat and light in their midst.  In June, of course, we trade places.  Many of us will enjoy a White Christmas, and my hope is that those in the Antipodes will find respite from the fires which have plagued Australia, Africa and the Amazon region, for much of this year.

This evening, Hanukkah begins at sunset, marking the eight days which commemorate the re-dedication of the second Temple of Jerusalem, following its profaning at the hands of the Seleucids (a dynasty of the Persian Empire).  The Judean commander, Judah Maccabee, ordered this celebration, so that none would forget the degradation that was followed by resilience.  My late wife, our son and I would light the menorah, a candelabrum that is used to hold nine candles, a central one called shamash, or “attendant”, from which the eight other candles are lit, one each evening of the festival.  Penny would recite the blessing, in Hebrew, before we lit each candle.

Gold-wrapped candies, called gelt, are often given each night and small gifts may  be exchanged, among those celebrating the Festival.  It may be that this is the basis for the gift-giving which accompanies the celebration of Christmas, as December 25 either falls within the Hanukkah celebration, or immediately follows it.  The rest of what we, in Western civilization and its offshoots, have come to associate with Christmas, largely comes from having adapted the traditions of others, first the Yule tree and its trimmings,  along with robust feasting, from the pre-Christian cultures of northern and western Europe, then a host of others:  Communal singing, special foods from various cultures which have adopted Christianity and alms for the poor.

The basis of all these holiday traditions, underneath all  the pomp and camaraderie, remains spiritual.  It was  awe, at changes in the celestial realm, that prompted the Druids and their followers to observe Yule.  It was the resurgence of Judaism, which inspired Hanukkah.  It was the reverence which Christ’s first followers had for His birth, and for His life, which brought about the first Christmas.  That it should have taken on elements of the two other great end-of-year celebrations, as well as modern commercialism,does not negate the spiritual basis for the near-universal appeal of Christmas.  This is solely owing to the greatness and universality of the character of Jesus the Christ- His love of humanity, His fealty to the Creator and His inherent wisdom.

So, for me, for my family and for all humanity- Let this be, as Judah Maccabee decreed, in the days of resilience after the overthrow of tyranny:  A Season of Light.

 

The Conscious Step Away From An Abyss

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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.

 

Blamecasting

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November 10, 2019-

In examining Jordan Peterson’s remarks on what he sees as the Eighth Rule for Life, essentially “avoid vengeance”, it occurs to me that the basic issue stems from being other-focused, with regard to the  quality of one’s life.

This is a recipe for disempowerment, in the sense that  giving people, even those we love most, responsibility for what is good and bad in our lives.  Christ used the construct He called “Satan”, or “the devil”, to illuminate the lower nature which leads people to act in ways that are of a disservice to self and others.  People have taken that construct and used it as a scapegoat, as an actual being outside themselves, on whom to blame when they make bad choices.  God, Himself, also gets blamed, when there is misfortune in the lives of many people.

The choice, that those who give others control over their affairs often make, following a misfortune that is laid at the feet of another, is taking revenge.  This, of course, prolongs and most often deepens the agony.  I can think of no problem that I ever faced, which was solved by blamecasting or looking outside myself for resolution.  Indeed, when Jesus was tempted by His own human lower nature at Gethsemane, He gave us a road map for overcoming such weakness, with the words, “Get thou behind me, Satan!”

It is, simply put, up to each person to put the lower nature behind them-not often an easy task, but one which must be done.

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.

 

 

 

Another Song Celestial

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September 29, 2019-

The humble, soft-spoken man recounted the life of his father, who is, to date, the only conscientious objector to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Desmond Doss, Sr. was portrayed by the actor Andrew Garfield, in the film “Hacksaw Ridge”.  His son  briefly detailed the actual man and the fullness of his life, at yesterday’s Hope Fest.

Desmond Doss, Jr. is at lower left, below.

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This day-long celebration of purpose-driven life is primarily about service to the community, with a clear message that peoples’ lives are best led through a personal relationship with Jesus the Christ.  I have helped the organizers of this effort, for the past five years.  One of the elements of this event is recognizing and honouring the veterans of present and past conflicts.  VietNam is not the least of these conflicts.

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Though I take a longer view, seeing a relationship with the Creator and His Messengers as essential to a well-lived life, by way of accepting that Revelation is progressive and God’s message unending, I see that encouraging others in the positive,  personal growth-oriented aspects of their own Faith is the finer path.

I came by my understanding of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings honestly, and will never hide my Faith from anyone.  It was actually the very essence of what Jesus the Christ taught, that love is paramount, which drew me to the Baha’i Faith, as “Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings.”- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

It never made sense to me, even as a child, that God would visit Mankind with His Grace but once.  Knowledge given is as the rays of the Sun.  The solar rays of a thousand years ago, of ten thousand years ago, warmed the Earth and were beneficial.  They remain praiseworthy, for all they brought forth.  Likewise, the rays of the present day sustain life.  They, too, deserve our appreciation.  Understanding all that is given us, by the Creator, is a worthy effort.

So I offer service to those who themselves serve others, in the highest way they can conceive.  It is our shared love for humanity that propels gatherings like Hope Fest.  Long may they continue, and bear fruit.

Heavenly Flow

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April 21, 2019-

Today brought me close to two faith traditions:  A musical, somewhat relaxed Evangelical Baptist service- which I attended at the invitation of a former co-worker.  I didn’t see her  there, but met up with another former colleague with the Red Cross.  After exchanging pleasantries, I took a seat in the congregation, while he took his place in the choir.  My part was to sing with the rest of those in the congregation, join in greeting those around me, and respond to an occasional call.  I only regret not raising my hand when the pastor asked who believes in the Christ. I do, certainly.  One cannot accept the Message of the Father and discard That of the Son.

At our Baha’i community’s gathering, this afternoon, I joined with about 45 fellows in Faith, to commemorate the first day of Baha’u’llah’s declaring His Mission, even as He and His companions prepared for a long journey overland, from Baghdad to what is now Istanbul.

The message is similar:  None of us is squeaky clean, and God alone can absolve us with Grace.   The sufferings of each Divine Messenger are what free us from our wrongdoings.  Only by acknowledging this, and not wanting to be distant from the Divine, does one progress spiritually.

So, that was my day of spiritual fellowship.  Connection with the Divine, though, is what has eased my path, even when I find myself alone.  In times of uncertainty, as to my course of action, I find my Spirit Guides provide a very clear framework, within which I must make informed choices.

This week, for example, will bring me to Flagstaff, then to the Desert View Tower, at the eastern end of Grand Canyon National Park- honouring the Centenary of that great national entity.  From there, it will be time to honour an old friend, who passed on, last week.  His services will be east of Tuba City, at another lovely locale:  Coal Mine Canyon.  Then, I must return here to Prescott, and look after my own health, with a lab test on Wednesday.   Matters of faith, possible acts of service with the Red Cross, another friend’s birthday party and a presentation by Slow Food-Prescott will fill out the week.

The flow of celestial energy is constant, and bears heeding.