Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Uniting Northern Illinois & Chicagoland

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No Pain, No Gain: How to Face Difficulties Head-on

Baha'i Teachings.org - 1 hour 31 min ago

On a bike ride with my husband John last weekend, I had trouble with some of the hills and curves and was frankly relieved to find an easier, alternative route...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How Music Can Change the World

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 10:04am

Why is it so important to make inspiring and uplifting music today? Hip-hop artist José María Fierro elaborates on the role that music plays in creating change agents. In part...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Why Are Human Rights Important? Happy Human Rights Day!

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 12/10/2018 - 8:00am

On December 10, 1948—70 years ago today—the newly-chartered United Nations adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and an entirely new way of thinking began. The UDHR simply and clearly...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How Can I Promote Equality Between Men and Women?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 10:00am

We’ve all heard of the concept of equality between men and women in our working lives, in our personal lives, within the political sphere and in global society as a whole—but...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Making Virtues Your Personal Development Goals

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 12/09/2018 - 8:00am

We tend to think of refined people as those with good taste, subtlety, and wisdom rather than ignorance, crudeness and vulgarity. Do you see yourself as refined? The Baha’i teachings frequently employ the word latafah—Arabic...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Sahaja: Yoga Mats that Give Back – An Interview with Judes Yang

Baha'i Blog - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 6:33pm

I recently moved to the Gold Coast, Australia, and I was really excited when I heard that my friend who lives there, Judes Yang, had started a social enterprise called SAHAJA. I caught up with Judes to find out more about it, and here’s what she shared:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Taiwan and we immigrated to Australia when I was four. I grew up on the Gold Coast and moved to Sydney in 2000 to pursue a corporate life. It was there I found yoga and in 2005 I moved overseas to follow my heart and my calling to be a yoga teacher. I spent 10 years living, traveling and teaching in seven different countries. I also trained yoga teachers from 2008-2013. I moved back to Australia at the end of 2014 and I joined a group called Soul Food on the Gold Coast in January of 2017. It was there I first met members from the Baha’i community and joined the Baha’i Faith in March, 2017.

Baha’i Blog: So, what is “Sahaja”? Tell us a little bit about it.

Sahaja is pronounced: Saa Haa Ja and it means, spontaneous, effortless, your inherent naturalness. It is about living in the flow of life and to remember who you are.

Sahaja was born to give back to others, we are a profit for a purpose yoga mat company, and for every yoga mat that we sell, we donate a solar light to families in Mozambique. Everyone who buys a Sahaja mat is a Light Giver, as they give light. So we’re more than a yoga mat company. We’re about creating and inspiring change and our goal is light up people’s lives. The giving creates a ripple effect all around, from simply buying a product that has a deeper purpose. Sahaja is about embodying everything we learn on our mats and living it off the mat. We at Sahaja also feel great from seeing all the joy and love being circulated around and at the same time being conscious about the footprints we leave on mother earth.

When you buy a Sahaja Yoga mat, you aren’t just buying a mat. You are contributing to the betterment of another person’s life, the world. You become a light giver and a part of something bigger.

Baha’i Blog: What was the main idea behind the business, and why did you decide to do it?

I having been teaching yoga since I was 26 and I feel abundantly blessed that I am living my calling. I don’t feel like I work, I am just going to yoga. Sahaja is my way of paying forward the love and light I received during my darkest days. I experienced some deep trauma and abuse by a former yoga teacher, which lead me to a place that I didn’t think I would actually be here talking to you today. It was through the love and understanding of my family, friends, my yoga and community that helped me heal.

Sahaja was born from a place of darkness to bring light to others and this is my way of paying it forward, to light up other peoples’ lives like my life was.

Being a yoga teacher I am a product of my own products. I use to practice in yoga rooms that had carpets and I had a yoga mat towel in one that was super thin and it was perfect for those conditions. But when I started practicing in studios that had wooden and concrete floors, the thin mat didn’t suffice anymore.

I tried various yoga mats to find something that was suitable. What I found was that certain yoga mats would move during my practice. When I started to sweat they would be slippery, so I needed a towel, they would also wear through; leaving marks on the yoga mat or leaving bits of the mat in the yoga studio. I think in one year, I tried went through about 3-4 mats. I was a bit disheartened as some mats were in the $80-100 price range and within a few months they already looked like that were 10 years old. I was adding waste to landfill with products that couldn’t be recycled and weren’t biodegradable.

Then I thought why not try and source my previous yoga mat towel, as I never had an issue with it before when I practiced, I just needed it to be that little bit thicker. So I did!

Sahaja yoga mats are a higher-end yoga mat that lasts. All our yoga mat designs are original, based on sacred geometry, sacred texts and life, to aid the yogi with their alignment. Our eco-friendly mats are made from recycled plastics, natural tree rubber and printed with water based inks, so they aren’t toxic. I’ve been to the factory, met the workers and seen the conditions and how production works: no sweat shop, no child labour and a factory that follows environmental guidelines. I’ve gone to Mozambique, met with our non-profit and the kids and communities who receive the light, and what a joy that was! They are pure love!

Right now our range is only yoga mats but we are working on adding a few more items to our range and as our products grow, so will our giving. With every product we offer, we will be giving back to our community, so that we will be giving all ways. We even have a Sahaja yoga studio opening soon on the Gold Coast, that will also give back.

Baha’i Blog: What sort of impact do you hope your business can have on individuals and on society and how have they been received so far?

I hope we can have a great impact, to inspire with love in action. I feel blessed that in November this year, Sahaja was selected to pitch at an event, called Pitch at Palace, which is an initiative of The Duke of York, Prince Andrew. We give the lights out in Mozambique in 500 lots and in October this year, I went to Mozambique for the first light drop and met with our non-profit Marine Mega Fauna, who distribute the solar lights through their education programs. I met the kids and communities who received the lights, and what a joy that was! I even taught them their first yoga class!! Such a blessing. The relationships and heart connections are important to me and I can’t wait to go back there. They have inspired me to go back and teach them to be yoga teachers and from there I hope they can also start to teach others, and to have access to more opportunities.

We documented the whole event, so that we can share our story to all as people think they’re buying a yoga mat, but they aren’t. It goes so much deeper than that. Even how the story about how I reconnected with a friend from the past is “Sahaja”; spontaneous and living in the flow.

My friend Jude Kalman from Fish Films – yes, another Jude – also works with non-profits, is an amazing videographer and storyteller. We reconnected on LinkedIn and as life would have it, we were both going to be there at the same time.

One of our goals, is that when we reach our next light drop, is to invite 18 people of the first 500 Light Givers to come on a Light Givers yoga retreat to Mozambique so they can see and experience what they are a part of; for the Light Givers to meet the community, to do yoga, to learn about Mozambique and the culture. It is not a look at a “human zoo” retreat, as that is not what we are about. It is about bringing together communities, to experience life, share in movement and heart-felt connections.

There is a local musician that I collaborate with on yoga classes and workshops, Sean, he is also the one who created the music for our Sahaja videos.

Baha’i Blog: How has the Baha’i Faith influenced your ideas, your business model, or the business in general?

When Sahaja launched on March 5th 2017 some of the local Baha’i community came to support and share in the event. At the time I was a friend of the Faith and didn’t really understand or know about the Faith. It wasn’t until after the launch did I make the connection that Sahaja’s values were also some of the Principles of the Baha’i Faith.

We value education: our solar lights are given to children through educational programs.
We care for our environment: solar lights leave cleaner footprints and our yoga mats are eco-friendly. We love bringing families and communities together; oneness and unity. The practice of kindness and love to all. And of course, our giving.

Being a yoga teacher, I was also already living and practicing many of the principles and it is a way of life for me. I still recall looking back at that powerpoint presentation months later thinking to myself “Wow, the saying that ‘Everyone is a Baha’i, they just don’t know it yet…’ is so true.”

I joined the Baha’i Faith on March 29th, 2017. I can’t really put it into words. I still didn’t really understand the Faith, I hadn’t started studying the Ruhi books, it was a deep moving inside my heart. I was in tears, a mess, when I rang a friend and spiritual mentor. I was in so much fear of being hurt as the last community I felt moved and went into wholeheartedly was my former yoga community. It broke my heart and led me into the darkest times of my life. I never want to go through that again. My heart was saying “yes”, my mind was saying “no way”.

The day after I declared as a Baha’i, there was flooding through many areas of the Gold Coast and schools, business all closed for the day. I love metaphors and symbolism and took that as the rains washing away the past and the beginning of a new chapter.

The Faith influences me in many areas of my life as a yoga teacher with the intention of the yoga classes and workshops that I create, to some of Sahaja’s designs, to my attitude towards life and others.

We have a kids mat coming up that is so beautiful and has been created on the virtues and isn’t just a yoga mat, it’s actually designed as an educational tool for the kids too. It’s a collaboration between Sahaja and another wonderful member of our community. There are also a few Baha’i inspired mats in the works.

The Faith is a beautiful reminder to keep being loving, stay humble, not judge and be kind to all. To see that we are one and the profound freedom of forgiveness.

Baha’i Blog: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Yes, to thank all the amazing “light givers” who believe and have helped Sahaja grow and thrive. To all the light giving studios who stock Sahaja Yoga Mats and help us spread the light.

Being a Baha’i has helped renew my faith in humanity and life. The friendships and connections with individuals within the community have also meant the world to me, and seeing people living and working for the greater good of all, and always advancing civilization, like Bahai Blog for instance!

I’d also really like to thank Soheil Abedian, who taught me the Faith and has been accompanying me throughout. I’ve experienced so much love, kindness and support from him, and I feel he is a living example of this beautiful line from the Universal House of Justice: “How excellent, how honorable is man if he arises to fulfill his responsibilities; how wretched and contemptible, if he shuts his eyes to the welfare of society and wastes his precious life in pursuing his own selfish interests and personal advantages.”

Baha’i Blog: So how can people help, and where can people find Sahaja Yoga Mats and your other products?

Sahaja can be found online at www.sahajayogamats.com or our social media handles are all @sahajayogamats We have stock now in the USA and NZ and are in the process of opening our online store to be able to ship from within those countries.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Judes, for sharing this with us, and we wish you all the best with Sahaja! Check out the video about Sahaja below:

*Header image courtesy of: Clare Merrifield

The post Sahaja: Yoga Mats that Give Back – An Interview with Judes Yang appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.

Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Benefits of Making Community Service a Part of Your Work

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 10:00am

We all know we need to lead a coherent life, where our actions reflect our inner principles and beliefs—but many times we separate our work life and our spiritual life....

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Spiritual Exercises to Improve Your Soul’s Fitness

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 12/08/2018 - 8:00am

While treating me for a back and hip injury, my physiotherapist recommended I take some Pilates classes. Through his clinic, I enrolled in a series specially conducted for people with...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Building Papua New Guinea’s First Baha’i House of Worship

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 8:00am

Ever wondered about the work that goes into designing and building a Baha’i House of Worship? BahaiTeachings.org had the special opportunity to chat with architects Henry Lape and Saeed Granfar,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How Baha’i Mystical Writings Can Unlock a Creative Spirituality

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 12/07/2018 - 7:50am

In my experience as an artist, developing the perspective that life is truly a spiritual journey offers us a key to genuine empowerment. When we learn to see the circumstances...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

BWNS: A Peaceful, Persistent Response to Injustice

Baha'i Blog - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 6:57pm

In this podcast episode from the Baha’i World News Service, we learn about how the Baha’is in Iran have tried to peacefully and persistently find a solution to the harsh persecution and injustice they face. This episode features interviews with BIC Representative Diane Ala’i and Education is Not a Crime Coordinator Saleem Vaillancourt who explore the concept of constructive resilience and how the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (or BIHE) embodies it. 

You can read the accompanying article, here on the Baha’i World News Service.

For more podcasts created by the Baha’i World News Service, visit their website: www.news.bahai.org

If you enjoyed this podcast, you might also like the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson. You can listen to them here on Baha’i Blog.

The post BWNS: A Peaceful, Persistent Response to Injustice appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.

Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

5 Baha’i Ethics: Oneness, Love, Kindness, Humility and Peace

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 10:02am

Many books have been written about the new Baha’i ethics, but let’s see if it’s even remotely reasonable to try to summarize some of them here in a short essay....

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Inspiring Youth Through Uplifting Music

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 12/06/2018 - 8:00am

When you’re young—especially when you’re young—music speaks directly to your soul. One of the contemporary, socially- and spiritually-focused artists whose music does that best, José María Fierro, currently lives in...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Everything in Creation

One Bahá'í's Approach - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 12:25pm
This week I want to tell a story about the Bab.

Well, it's not really a story about His life, but more a story of us. You see, dear Reader, I've noticed that when we talk about Him, we often talk about Him as the "John the Baptist of the Baha'i Faith". At the holy day celebrations that center on Him, for example, we often hear the same few stories and how He prepared us for the coming of Baha'u'llah.

All right. Well, this is true. He did.

But dear Reader, that's like saying, "Jesus? Christmas, Easter, and He said He would return." Yes, that's all true, but it doesn't even begin to cover the full import of what He did.

I mean come on. He was a Messenger of God, for His sake.

Regarding the Bab, it was said that “Knowledge is twenty and seven letters. All that the Prophets have revealed are two letters thereof. No man thus far hath known more than these two letters. But when the Qá’im shall arise, He will cause the remaining twenty and five letters to be made manifest.”

Ok, check this. Everything, all human knowledge up until 1843 consisted of only a couple of letters. The Bab comes and reveals more than 12 times that knowledge, and what do we say? "He said Baha'u'llah's coming."

Hmmmm.

So this week, for my story about the Bab and the early Babi's, I want to share just a single line, seven words, from the Pen of the Bab. And remember, this is a Manifestation of God we're talking about. Those seven words? Well, let's see.

I was reading Gate of the Heart, by Nader Saiedi, when I ran across this line, so if you're looking for it in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, you won't find it there. (You're welcome.)

The line? Oh, yeah. Here it is:
Everything in creation hath its own heaven.
I feel like it should be bolded, sparkling, in a special colour, and maybe even flashing. It is so amazing in its depth and profundity that I feel I should write it again.

Everything in creation hath its own heaven.
I mean, think about it.

Ok, I can hear you say, but everything?

Well, He says "everything".

But, like, everything everything?

Yes, everything everything.

Even my shoe?

Even your shoe.

How?

Ah, that's the question, isn't it? You see, dear Reader, I think the Bab is making a very profound point with these seven seemingly simple words, a point that has the power and capacity to change our very lives.

To help put this into a perspective, namely mine, and that's nothing official, as you well know, when I look through Baha'u'llah's teachings, I find that heaven is described as the fulfillment of potential. I'm not sure of an exact quote that says this, but I infer it from a lot of different references.

Anyways, if heaven is the fulfillment of potential, and everything in creation "hath its own heaven", then when we help something find and fulfill its greatest potential, it will be in its own heaven.

The plastic bag that we get when we go shopping has the potential to carry something. When it is actually doing that, it is fulfilling its potential. It finds itself in its own heaven.

However, and here's the rub, when we have carried our groceries home and casually toss that bag in the garbage, it no longer is fulfilling that potential. We are, in effect, telling it that it is useless, it's garbage. And that, if you care to anthropomorphize, would feel like hell.

Perhaps that is why garbage can be so toxic.

It is always the waste products, the by-products, those parts of a process that are not "useful", that are so damaging.

But when we look at that bag and find another use for it, either through repurposing, reusing, or recycling, we are helping it fulfill a new potential. We are, in effect, carrying it to its new heaven.

For a long time sand was considered one of the most useless things on the planet. Its coming together in the form a desert was considered absolutely ruinous. Still is by most people. But when extract the silicon from the sand, we can produce the wonders of computers. Today we have found a myriad of uses for that most useless of all things, even to the point where it is one of the most widely stolen natural resources on the planet. Check it out, if you don't believe me. It's tragic, but true.

One of the things we missed when we spoke of "Easter, Christmas, and He would return" was Christ's promise of "Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven". Perhaps this recognition of fulfilling potential is part of that promise.

Imagine a world in which we found a use for everything, every object, every person. A world in which nothing was wasted or thrown away. A world in which nothing and no one was tossed aside as useless. Wouldn't this be a heaven on earth?

I say that this line can be life-changing because when we really pause to consider it, it can change our very behaviour.

Every since I read that line, "Everything in creation hath its own heaven", I have thought about it almost continually. When I am about to toss something in the garbage, I find myself asking if it can be put to another use. I ask if there is some hidden potential for that object I am missing. I actually find myself reluctant to throw anything away, not in the sense of wanting to hoard stuff, but in the sense of being more fully conscious of recycling it, if possible.

In fact, this has now shaped my shopping habits, too. I find myself unwilling to buy pretty much anything that I know will result in me having to throw something away, even, or especially, the packaging.

To be clear, though, it is not a manic thing, nor is it fanatical. It is a simple awareness that is shaping my life and my buying habits. The effect it has had on me is much like the effect the law of the Right of God has had. (You can click on that link, if you want, to see what I mean.)

Instead of buying pre-made food, for example, which will result in a lot of waste, I consciously choose to buy ingredients that I can prepare myself, which produces not only better quality food for my family, but also far less waste.

Instead of buying the cheapest products possible, I find the ones that are of a better quality, ensuring the livelihood of those who are producing them. I prefer to buy from local artisans for a bit more money than to buy cheap stuff that will last a short time and need to be replaced sooner. It means that budgeting is far more important now, but as I said, it results in a better quality of life for both myself and those that I support through my purchases.

This, to me, is a teaching that is worthy of a Messenger from God. This, to me, is a message that was worth bringing to us. And while it is true that He foretold the coming of Baha'u'llah, the Bab also taught so much more.

Everything, and yes, I do mean everything, truly does have its own heaven. And when we strive to help all around us fulfill their highest potential, we will find ourselves standing amidst that heaven, too.
Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How Art Uplifts Society

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 10:00am

I’ve always wondered: how can I use my art to uplift my community and bring people together? Reflecting on our general environment and societal norms, many of us live fast-paced...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Social Media: Force for Change or Just an Ego-Boost?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 12/05/2018 - 8:00am

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media have all galvanized crucial movements for change in our contemporary society. Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements are just a...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Journey West Podcast: Exploring Abdu’l-Baha’s Travels to the West

Baha'i Blog - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 6:40pm

The Journey West podcast is an audio initiative which explores and celebrates the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s travels to Egypt, Europe and North America in 1911-1913. Each episode features a reading of one of Abdu’l-Baha’s talks, as well as dramatized stories and historical accounts. You can also hear discussions of the talk that was featured, and some personal thoughts on how the ideas discussed in the talk are applicable today. 

The podcast was produced by a group of friends. At the helm of the podcast’s production were Ivan Mihoci, Mary Okonkwo, and Lorraine Sherrill but dozens of friends lent their voices and their talents to the podcast, whether it was by reading a first-hand account of one of the Baha’is, or discussing one of Abdu’l-Baha’s talks.

The Journey West podcast was a part of a larger initiative called The Journey West, where you’ll also find a treasury of articles about Abdu’l-Baha, the historical context surrounding His travels, and tributes to early Baha’is. The Journey West was really my first time writing about the Faith online and I was honored to contribute a few articles. I also had the privilege of working with authors and publishing their pieces on the site. These articles are companion pieces to the podcast, which is really the heart of the project, as it chronologically follows in His footsteps. Episode 1 begins with Abdu’l-Baha’s very first public address, where He stood at the pulpit of a 17th century church, seated on the Western edge of the city of London and spoke about a “new cycle of human power” and its last episode is about His departure from America in December of 1912; you can hear two separate accounts of His departure from the perspectives of Juliet Thompson and Howard Colby Ives, as well as the Master’s farewell address aboard the SS. Celtic on December 5, 1912. When the podcast was first live, it was exciting to hear the talks read aloud on the same day as He had given them, 100 years before, but listening to the podcasts in sequence at any time is still thrilling.

In participating in this project, two things stood out to me then and continue to astonish me. For one, there is a wealth of information at our disposal about the early Western Baha’is and about Abdu’l-Baha’s travels. There are books of His talks, biographies of those who met Him, books that gather together newspaper clippings from His journeys, and so on. Many of these sources informed the podcast and the articles on the website but there is so much out there to discover. There was a small flourishing of new books about Abdu’l-Baha in honor of the centenary of His travels and so there are now even more materials at our disposal! What is also remarkable when you listen to the podcasts and follow His journeys chronologically is that you can’t help but be in awe of how much Abdu’l-Baha did during His travels. His tireless efforts to touch hearts, to speak to groups large and small, and to lovingly educate those in His presence — whether it was a lesson in how to pray, or a gesture of racial equality by asking an uninvited African American Baha’i to sit by His side as His guest of honour — the podcast gives you a faint but broad sense of the immensity and scope of what Abdu’l-Baha accomplished.

In describing His journeys, the Universal House of Justice wrote:

The words uttered by Abdu’l-Baha during His travels, and the deeds He undertook with such consummate wisdom and love, offer an abundance of inspiration and manifold insights from which the body of the believers can today draw, whether in their efforts to embrace receptive souls, to raise capacity for service, to build local communities, to strengthen institutions, or to exploit opportunities emerging to engage in social action and contribute to public discourse. We should, therefore, reflect not only upon what the Master achieved and set in motion but also on the work that remains undone to which He has summoned us.

I hope this article might entice you to check out the podcast series and to listen to Abdu’l-Baha’s journeys brought to life and to hear some of His talks read out loud.

All episodes of The Journey West can be listened to and/or downloaded here: soundcloud.com/bahai-blog/sets/the-journey-west-podcast

The post The Journey West Podcast: Exploring Abdu’l-Baha’s Travels to the West appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.

Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Social Impact of Prayer Gatherings

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 10:00am

As our global culture becomes more focused on the material aspects of life, we can easily forget our spirituality, and our relationships with each other suffer as a result. After...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

No One Knows When Their End Will Come

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 12/04/2018 - 8:00am

Certainly you’ve heard this inescapable truth before: “No one knows when their end will come.” Some die young, even as babies, children or youth. Some live to be older, some...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Power of Art to Transform Souls and Society

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 12/03/2018 - 10:00am

The Baha’i teachings ask everyone to appreciate the “true worth of artists and craftsmen” because they cause human progress: … the true worth of artists and craftsmen should be appreciated,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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