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mirrors of divinity

Posted on November 5, 2017 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Day 4 of #bahaiblogging


In high school and college one of my favorite activities was 'going back to first principles'. Some of the teachings of Baha'u'llah are like that - basic yet profound principles which solve a number of problems at once. The principle or analogy I will share today is that of the mirror.


I've talked about the 'problem' or mystery of how an infinite God could 'come down' to earth and walk among men and women. It is still a mystery, but with this analogy of the mirror I am able to understand the principle.


Think of the sun. It is not infinite, but compared to a human being it practically is. It would not be possible for the sun to swoop down to earth and exist inside of a person. But, if you had a nice clean mirror, and your eyes were able to stand looking at the sun's reflection, you could point to the mirror and say look, there's the sun. THAT is what the sun looks like.



Day 5 of #bahaiblogging

In this analogy, the sun represents God. The pure clear mirror is the heart of the man Jesus. The rays of the sun represent the Holy Spirit, the very nature of God, the 'Christ' in Christ Jesus, and the Word that John said was 'with God in the beginning, and was God.'


This is how Jesus could rightly claim that if you see me, you see my father/God.


Yet, at no time is the sun actually contained within the mirror. When the mirror is shattered and can no longer reflect the sun, the sun is not dead. Therefore Christ lives, and did not die on the cross.


Now a mirror is a finite thing, meaning that there can be more than one of them. To some extent, each of us can reflect the qualities or attributes of God. Using Christ as an example - that is, hearing and living by His teachings - we reflect God or the Holy spirit, and 'magnify' that Spirit in the world.


But for most people or most mirrors, the reflection is incomplete. Only a few very pure and perfectly clear mirrors have existed throughout human history. Their purpose or mission is to advance our understanding of ourselves as spiritual beings.


These mirrors of divinity are not at odds or in competition with each other.

(To be continued - see Day 5)


Virtues, Virtues, Virtues

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 10:25 AM Comments comments (0)

We've covered 18 virtues so far in our weekly Video Blog The Friday Fix (link on our Home Page). For 2015, we are testing an expanded game board with room for 65 virtues. We have increased from 56 virtues to 68! Who knew there were so many? Most of them are described very well at The Virtues Project website (www.virtuesproject.com).


We invite your feedback on which of the 12 new virtues you would most like to see included. Here they are in alphabetical order. (For a list of the original 56, see the new Virtues page, under the About the Game tab.)


Excellence

Friendliness

Ingenuity

Leadership

Mindfulness

Obedience

Objectiviy

Persistence

Serenity

Simplicity

Steadfastness

Tolerance



Interfaith Harmony Month in South Carolina

Posted on January 13, 2015 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (1)

We are so pleased to see the increase in interfaith activities this year, in celebration of Interfaith Harmony Month (January). Interfaith Partners of South Carolina has posted a listing of events over on their website (http://interfaithpartnersofsc.org/?page_id=329). Most events are in Columbia, but the activity has spread to Beaufort, Florence, Aiken and Charleston.


There are events spreading over into February (World Interfaith Harmony Week is February 1 – 7), so check it out, and bring a friend. All events are free of charge. 



Book Study Groups on Compassion

Posted on November 10, 2014 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Out of the Dinner Dialogue at Spartanburg Prebyterian, 3 Interfaith study groups will be convening soon to study and consult using the book "Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" by Karen Armstrong. See charterforcompassion.org/12-steps-book for more on the book and the intentionality behind this effort. 


I am posting below more details for the Greenville group, which starts on December 9. (Niki Daniels will joining this group).  Please note all are invited to attend, whether you were at the Dinner Dialogue or not. The sessions will be held once every two months, for one calendar year, and participants will share a light meal at each session. Just email the contact person listed if you want to join.


The two other groups will be in Spartanburg. Contact: Didi Terry at dterry@fpcspartanburg.org.


One group will meet at First Presbyterian Church's Arthur Center.

This group will convene at noon (12pm) on the second Thursday of every other month, starting November 13th.


The other will convene at Temple B'nai Israel at 146 Heywood Rd. in Spartanburg, also on the second Thursday of every other month, starting November 13th, but at 6pm.


Greenville Compassion Study Group Details

Location: The Atlantic Institute [12 Davis Keats Dr. in Greenville]. www.atlanticinstitutesc.org


Dates: Every other month, on the second Tuesday of the month [Dec. 9, Feb. 10, Apr. 14, June 9, Aug. 11, Oct. 13]


Time: 6:30pm


Readings: 2 Chapters/session, completing the book on the final session after the interfaith community gathering on Sept. 10, 2015 [For Dec. 9, read the Preface, First Step, and Second Step]


Facilitators: Team of M.B. Ulmer, Akif Aydin, and the Atlantic Institute


Meal: We will share a light meal at each session; the first will be provided by the Atlantic Institute.

Please RSVP to Christina Bell atcbell@atlanticinstitutesc.org.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Posted on August 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Ever heard the sentiment 'Patience is a virtue but too much of it can hurt you'? This topic came up when we visited Orangeburg. One friend said they had been chastised for being too generous, that virtues like generosity and forgiveness can encourage dependence and lead to the giver/forgiver being taken for granted. 

 


That's where virtues (dare I say skills?) like discernment and justice come in. It seems to me service in most contexts is best undertaken as a group effort. One hand washes the other, and both become cleaner. Kindness and generosity should not require reciprocity, but in my view sustainable development means self-development.  As Socrates said: “Let him who would move the world first move himself.” In any case, the longer term outcomes of any assistance given should be thought through.


What about when we express our ideas with words? Silence is sometimes the best option, but when we do speak, can there be too many good words and thoughtful ideas? It has been said: "Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah)



 

 


The Boat and the Ocean

Posted on July 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM Comments comments (0)

"In each and every heart, the Unseen is seen. You yourself are the Ocean and the Boat."


This quote from the Sikh Faith sounds like a Zen Buddhist koan (a 'paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment' - Merriam Webster dictionary). It reminds me of this quote from the Baha'i Faith: 


"This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein!"


So what is the 'ocean' an analogy for in these scriptures? In Baha'i texts the ocean is often a symbol of the Revelation of a Prophet or 'Manifestation' of God (a man or woman destined to be the mediator between us and the Creator). The revelation of any particular prophet is manifested in part in their Teachings. 


In the Sikh quote I see the Ocean as the Spirit of Life or Holy Spirit - that divine Spark that some religions teach differentiates us from other animals. The Boat is the human body. It is restricted to a particular place and time, while the Ocean in comparison is practically limitless. But inside us (actually in our 'heart,' which it seems to me doesn't mean our physical hearts that pump blood, so in a sense it is not really 'inside' us at all) we contain an unseen and often-times unfelt Ocean of our own.


Do you have a favorite quote or song that uses the analogy of an ocean (or sea)?


We'd love to hear from you. You can submit quotes, song lyrics or poetry using our Feedback form.

amaaaaazing grace, parable of lost sheep

Posted on Comments comments (0)

Day 12 #bahaiblogging


Because I've blogged about sheep and several friends liked that, let's talk about one of the parables about sheep. In Matthew 18 (12-14) Jesus tells this parable:


"What do you think? If someone owns a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go look for the one that went astray? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. In the same way, your Father in heaven is not willing that one of these little ones be lost." (New English Translation)


Luke tells it a little more personally. "So Jesus told them this parable: “Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one of them, would not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it? Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, ‘Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep that was lost.’ I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent." (Luke 15:3-7 - New English Translation)


In Matthew's version this parable is told shortly after the disciples of Jesus were asking Him who is the 'greatest' in the kingdom of heaven. So one way to look at this parable is as a warning for us 'righteous' believers in Jesus to be humble, and not to think of ourselves as being better, or more 'deserving' persons than other people who we feel are not living right with God.


Matthew verses 5 and 6 tell us what we should do instead of worrying about how high a place is being reserved for us in heaven. Verse 5 says "And whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me." Verse 6 says: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a huge millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the open sea."


Is there a sheep or 'child' in your life? Maybe someone who doesn't seem to be getting with the program when it comes to doing the Will of the Lord? The Baha'i Writings give some great advice on how to guide someone like this.


"If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will." (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 289)


Luke's version of the parable of the lost sheep is set in a different context than is Matthew's. In verses 1 and 2 of Luke 15 we read: "Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to hear him. But the Pharisees and the experts in the law were complaining, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”"


So according to Luke, it was the Pharisees and experts in the law, not the disciples themselves, whom Jesus was addressing with the parable. Luke's version of the parable continues on with a similar parable about a woman who had ten silver coins and lost one of them. I'd like to think Jesus used the parable of the coins in order to reach the minds and hearts of the tax collectors, who probably weren't feeling moved by talk of sheep!


In both gospels, the message is pretty clear. This is no time for believers in God the Father, and/or in Jesus (I include myself in that category) to rest on their laurels. The fact that you are a believer only means you have a responsibility to show love and compassion to those who for whatever reason at all are living outside of the safety of the community of believers.


May you find something you have lost today, and may you give it away to someone who needs it.


Peace, Niki