O SON OF MAN! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory. -Bahá’u'lláh
‘The man who makes a piece of notepaper to the best of his ability, conscientiously, concentrating all his forces on perfecting it, is giving praise to God. Briefly, all effort and exertion put forth by man from the fullness of his heart is worship, if it is prompted by the highest motives and the will to do service to humanity. This is worship: to serve mankind and to minister to the needs of the people. Service is prayer. A physician ministering to the sick, gently, tenderly, free from prejudice and believing in the solidarity of the human race, he is giving praise’.
National Geographic News reports that that Scandinavians of 2,000 years ago were more genetically diverse than previously thought. A DNA test of the remains of an Iron Age man found in Denmark suggests he may have been a descendant of female slaves transported from the Middle East or a Roman soldier serving on the Empire’s northern frontier. All of which shows that we humans have been been mixing together for thousands of years .In the words of Bahá’u’lláh addressed to humankind-
“Ye are all fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch, the flowers of one garden.”
‘Ferocity and savagery are natural to animals, but men should show forth the qualities of love and affection. God sent all His Prophets into the world with one aim, to sow in the hearts of men love and goodwill, and for this great purpose they were willing to suffer and to die. All the sacred Books were written to lead and direct man into the ways of love and unity…’
I have just returned from giving a presentation on ‘Spiritual Solutions To Economic Problems’. I had an interesting conversation with members of the audience (including a Sikh and a Hindu gentleman). It was heartening to hear the common agreement on the need for a new economic paradigm based on spiritual values. One of the quotations I used was from a message from the supreme governing body of the Baha’i Faith, The Universal House Of Justice. It reads-
‘This unprecedented economic crisis, together with the social breakdown it has helped to engender, reflects a profound error of conception about human nature itself. For the levels of response elicited from human beings by the incentives of the prevailing order are not only inadequate, but seem almost irrelevant in the face of world events. We are being shown that, unless the development of society finds a purpose beyond the mere amelioration of material conditions, it will fail of attaining even these goals. That purpose must be sought in spiritual dimensions of life and motivation that transcend a constantly changing economic landscape and an artificially imposed division of human societies into “developed” and “developing”.
“The face of him on whom I gazed I can never forget, though I cannot describe it. Those piercing eyes seemed to read one’s very soul; power and authority sat on that ample brow…. No need to ask in whose presence I stood, as I bowed myself before one who is the object of a devotion and love which kings might envy and emperors sigh for in vain!”
Such was the description of Bahá’u'lláh by a Cambridge University Professor, Edward Granville Browne who visited the ‘Blessed Beauty’ in Palestine in 1890, a description which never fails to move me…
In my unbiased opinion my wife Minoo is an expert in rice technology.;-) This is her (not so secret) recipe… ‘Polou-ye-Sefid’ or ‘White Rice’ is the foundation of Iranian cooking. It is served with the various ‘khoresht’ dishes I have described elsewhere in ‘Myriad Lives’ Recipes. In the amounts indicated it should feed about four people.
· 2 cups basmati rice
· Vegetable Oil
1. Rinse rice in pan, carefully pouring out the ‘cloudy’ water (this will avoid the rice going sticky)
2. Add 4 cups of fresh water, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the rice in the pan
3. Boil for around 15 minutes, until rice is par-boiled
4. Drain rice in a colander.
5. Cover the bottom of the pan with a few teaspoons of cooking oil
6. Put the par-boiled rice back into the pan, if possible heap it in the middle (Don’t know why-it seems to cook better…).
7. Wrap the pan lid with a muslin-type cloth and cover
8. Cook on a low heat for a further 30 minutes or so
Ideally it should become crunchy at the bottom, forming what the Iranians call ‘tahdiq’. You should be able to turn over the pan onto a tray so that the rice ‘pops out’ in an aesthetically-pleasing round pan shape.
I have just read again this illuminating passage by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on the inability of the human mind to comprehend the divine essence-
‘In the Old Testament we read that God said, ‘Let us make man in Our own image’. In the Gospel, Christ said, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me’. In the Qur’án, God says, ‘Man is my Mystery and I am his’. Bahá’u’lláh writes that God says, ‘Thy heart is My home; purify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation’.
All these sacred words show us that man is made in God’s image: yet the Essence of God is incomprehensible to the human mind, for the finite understanding cannot be applied to this infinite Mystery. God contains all: He cannot be contained. That which contains is superior to that which is contained. The whole is greater than its parts.
Things which are understood by men cannot be outside their capacity for understanding, so that it is impossible for the heart of man to comprehend the nature of the Majesty of God. Our imagination can only picture that which it is able to create’.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks: UK Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1972 eleventh edition reprint
Summer Solstice celebrations are being held in the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as Midsummer, Litha, or St. John’s Day it is the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer. As I understand it for some contemporary pagans the Summer Solstice is seen as the day the ‘Goddess’ manifests as ‘Mother Earth’ and the ‘God’ as the ‘Sun King’. A union from which will come forth the fruit of the future harvest.
Of course I am a believer in Divine Unity but I still find this a moving metaphor for the generosity of God, one of the ‘divine attributes’. In this sense the fruitfulness of the earth itself can be seen as a metaphor for divine generosity. This reminds me of the words of Bahá’u'lláh-
‘Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is a direct evidence of the revelation within it of the attributes and names of God, inasmuch as within every atom are enshrined the signs that bear eloquent testimony to the revelation of that Most Great Light..’
The Baha’i International Community reports that the seven members of the national Baha’i committee imprisoned in Iran have each been allowed a brief phone call to their families. The calls were the first contact with the imprisoned Baha’is since six of them were arrested in Tehran in May. The seventh was arrested in March in the city of Mashhad. I have previously reported in my blog that Mrs. Mahvash Sabet and Mrs. Fariba Kamalabadi were allowed to make brief phone calls to their families on the 3rd of June. Mrs. Sabet was detained in Mashhad in March but moved to Evin Prison in Tehran on the 26th May. It is thought that the others are also being held in this notorious prison. It was later confirmed that Mr. Jamaloddin Khanjani, Mr. Afif Naeimi, Mr. Saeid Rezaie, Mr. Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Mr. Vahid Tizfahm have also been allowed brief phone calls to their families. So far no charges have been made against any of the seven individuals. This is not surprising given that their detention is without any reasonable justification and is a manifest abuse of their Human Rights…