Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Uniting Northern Illinois & Chicagoland

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Finding Your Own Religious Truth

Baha'i Teachings.org - 9 hours 42 min ago

The Baha’i teachings say that humanity has reached the point in its development where we no longer need to depend on another person to read and interpret the word of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Is There Such a Thing as a World’s Best Religion?

Baha'i Teachings.org - 11 hours 41 min ago

Most people who follow a specific religion presumably think of their religion as the best one in the world.   After all, you might wonder—why follow a Faith if you...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

That Sublime Station

One Bahá'í's Approach - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 8:38pm
One of my favorite things to do in life is study the Writings with my wife. Every week now, for the next number of months, we will be sitting in a cafe for a couple of hours while my son is partaking in his junior youth group. Last year we studied The Four Valleys, and just as the group was winding up for the summer, and my weekends were taken over by my booth at the market, we were just finishing it up.

Our question this year was what we wanted to study now. Our decision? The Kitab-i-Aqdas. After all, go big or go home, right?

But before I get into our study, I want to contextualize it a bit for you, dear Reader.

First of all, I have a very treasured memory of this book that I want to share. I can remember so clearly the very first time I ever read it. Of course, like many of us, I had read a number of passages previously, but the whole text was officially released for the first time in English during the Holy Year, 1992 - 1993. And I remember the very day that it came out. I had the incredible bounty of living near the Temple just outside Chicago, and was able to walk over there to the bookstore and get 2 copies that day.

Now at that same time I was working at the US National Centre. And every year, around that time, there was a 24-hour prayer vigil at the Temple for race unity. I had noticed, a few years earlier, that nobody signed up for the wee hours of the morning, so I would sign up from midnight to six am, "yawn prayers", and ask friends to join me. And they did. Every year we would gather in the parking lot with coffee, donuts and cookies, and 2 of us would be in the Temple. One would pray at the podium, while the other would wait until they were ready for a break. Then they'd switch, and the first would come out and get someone else to sit and wait.

But that year, I had just picked up my copy of the Aqdas either that day, or the day before, I can't recall. Either way, when midnight came around, a group of us had gathered in the Temple and I got up and began to read it, for the very first time, out loud, at the podium. We all sat there enraptured. I got about 3/4 the way through it before my friend, Denise, had to take over. That, as far as I'm aware, was the first time that the Kitab-i-Aqdas had been read aloud, in its entirety, in the Temple.

Every time I have read that monumental book since then, I always remember that night, and the friends that were with me, sharing in that beautiful experience.

Ok, so that's the first thing.

The second little bit of context is from my wife. Early on in her Baha'i experience, one of the friends had said something to her about how people had to be Baha'i, or "all their good deeds were worth nothing". As you can imagine, this went against all that she knew of the basic teachings of the Faith. When she asked about it, the friend showed her the first paragraph of this book, as if it were a weapon to somehow defend the superiority of the Baha'i Faith. She was very uncomfortable, but, wisely, didn't argue about it. She came home and we talked about it, and then proceeded to write the Universal House of Justice. Their response was to send us, many months later, One Common Faith. As I said to her at the time, I don't think this great letter was written specifically for us. I think they must have received many such letters, enough to warrant the commission of that document, and that we were just one of many who had written in with similar questions.

Ok. So, with all this as a basic background into our personal history, we dove into the first two paragraphs this morning. Today, I'm only going to share a bit about the first one. Hopefully I'll get to adding more about our little study soon, but I won't promise anything.

Here is paragraph 1 of this incredible book:
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behooveth everyone who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine inspiration. As you can imagine, there is much that we found to discuss.

While we talked about all sorts of things, what really left us feeling elated was when we focused on the phrase "this most sublime station".

Our initial thought was that it referred to Baha'u'llah's sublime station, but in the context of the sentence it didn't make sense. After all, only Baha'u'llah can possibly reach that sublime station. Upon re-reading, though, we realized that it obviously is referring to the station of the believer, the one who actually recognizes "Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation".

Of course, from there, we were then wondering why this would be considered the "most sublime station". What does it mean? In fact, what does the word "sublime" mean? Perhaps, we thought, that might shed some light on this. As you probably know, it means "of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe". You mean we can attain a station of such excellence, grandeur, and beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe? Wow.

Oh, but wait a second, inspire admiration or awe in whom? In oneself.

Well that sounds pretty good, awesome, in fact. But what would it look like? We're not really sure, but looking back at the first few sentences, we had to ask ourselves if we really do recognize Baha'u'llah. And honestly, no, we don't. We believe that His station is too grand for us to truly recognize Him. We catch glimpses of His station, faint glimmerings of His grandeur, mere impressions of His true position in creation. Occasionally, rarely, we may get a hint of this, and that is when we feel as if we have been lifted to what we can only describe as a sublime station. It is as if we have been granted access to this, however briefly, and come away feeling a profound sense of gratitude.

Personally, I am reminded of an exercise I did years ago, in which I tried to imagine myself standing next to the Sun. I began by seeing myself standing there and the sun shining brightly in the sky. Of course, as you know, that meant I was quite far from it. And so I began to see the sun getting bigger and bigger, but as long as I was still standing there, in my imagination, I knew that I had to be far, far from the sun. It wasn't until I began to see myself getting smaller and smaller that I realized just how tiny I would have to be, in comparison.

I could easily imagine myself sitting at the table while my wife and I talked. I could even imagine myself, as seen from above, in the village in which we were enjoying our study. When I saw British Columbia from above, though, I could no longer really imagine myself sitting there. I was just too small in relation to the entirety of the province. Now I had to go further out to the whole country, the entire planet. Not a chance. I wasn't even a blip any more. And just how tiny is the earth in comparison to the sun? Okay. We're talking ridiculously small and insignificant, trying to imagine myself next to the sun.

The only way that I could even begin to imagine myself next to the sun was to envision myself as so tiny that I was truly insignificant.

And now, what about Baha'u'llah? When I try to imagine the grandeur and majesty of Baha'u'llah, the reality is I can't. Someone may be reading my ponderings right now, obviously, and they may read them a few years from now. Perhaps. And it is quite possible, though unlikely, that they may still be read a few years after I die, but I doubt it. I can't even imagine that anyone would know my name in a hundred years, with the remote possible exception that my descendants may say, "Oh yeah, Mead and Marielle were the first Baha'is in our family." But even that is unlikely.

Now, how I can even begin to imagine Baha'u'llah? His Cycle is destined to last at least half a million years. This is so far beyond my ability to imagine, how can I begin to think that I may have "recognized" Him?

Of course, not fully recognizing Baha'u'llah is not a bad thing. It is just a reality. I will continue to strive to better recognize Him, and, of course, probably fall far short, but that's ok. It's not about the destination, as they say, but rather about the journey. We believe that when Baha'u'llah says whoever is deprived of truly knowing Him has "gone astray", it doesn't mean that we are hopelessly lost, just that we will take longer to get there. And honestly, that's ok, too. Our job is to try and better know Him, and the closer we get to that "sublime station", well, the better off we are.

And in the end, that journey of recognition is our own. We can neither judge, nor compare that journey to anyone else's.
Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Can We Build Community through Prayer?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 10:00am

You might pray for help, guidance and strength, for yourself and the ones you love—but do you pray together with, and for, your community? Since returning to the U.S. last...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Fascinating Story of Major Alfred Goggins

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 10/15/2018 - 8:00am

As an African-American born into slavery, A.C. “Bud” Goggins worked the fields on a Southern plantation as a child, without any chance for an education. Here is how Major Goggins—one...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Want Peace? Try an Interfaith Activity

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 10:00am

On September 21st my local Baha’i community helped organize and take part in a big interfaith activity to observe the International Day of Peace. We started this now-annual autumn event...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

New Maori Prayer Book Connects Hearts with the Divine

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 10/14/2018 - 8:00am

While translating Baha’i writings into his native Maori language, Tom Roa encountered a conundrum—this deeply spiritual indigenous language has a word for spirit but not for soul. “In the Bible...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

10 Questions About the Future International Auxiliary Language

Baha'i Blog - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 7:38pm

Many of us may have heard about Baha’u’llah’s call for the future adoption of an international auxiliary language. However, the implementation of the idea seems so far away that most of us haven’t thought much about the specific guidance on its implementation and the role it will play in society.

What do the terms “international auxiliary language” mean? Do we pick a language or create one? Will it be an organic process or a more intentional one? My aim with this article is to look through the Baha’i Writings for guidance and clues as to how Baha’u’llah envisioned the international auxiliary language and to answer 10 questions I had on the topic. I hope you will find my exploration interesting. 

1. What is an international auxiliary language?

The idea of an international auxiliary language – also sometimes known as an IAL or an “auxlang” – is that everyone learns a language in addition to their mother tongue, to facilitate communication with people who don’t speak the same mother tongue. At various points in history, English, Arabic, Mandarin, and Esperanto have been used as auxiliary languages – though never with a global scope.

2. What does Baha’u’llah say about it?

Baha’u’llah calls for the adoption of an IAL in The Kitab-i-Aqdas when He states:

O members of parliaments throughout the world! Select ye a single language for the use of all on earth, and adopt ye likewise a common script.

He also says:

The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script.

3. Why is it important to have an international auxiliary language?

As per my understanding, the Baha’i Writings suggest that efforts towards world peace are hindered by the inadequacy of communication among the peoples of the world. Having an international auxiliary language will not only impact big picture issues like world peace but also our everyday lives: movies will only have to be subtitled in one language for everyone to understand them. Baha’u’llah describes its impact with these words:

[it] will be the cause of unity, could ye but comprehend it, and the greatest instrument for promoting harmony and civilization, would that ye might understand!

Baha’u’llah also paints a picture of the impact of an international auxiliary language on unity among the peoples of the world.

The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home.

4. Will the IAL be an existing language or an invented one?

According to the Baha’i Writings, both options are possible. Baha’u’llah states:

We have enjoined upon the Trustees of the House of Justice either to choose one language from among those now existing or to adopt a new one…

Some sources suggest that Esperanto and Arabic are not likely to be chosen as the IAL, though in the end it is up to the Trustees of the House of Justice to decide.

5. Who gets to choose which language it will be?

As mentioned in the previous quote, it will be the Trustees of the Universal House of Justice who are described as:

…a committee that will study the whole matter and then either choose one of the existing languages or create a new one to function as an international language.

To that end, Abdu’l-Baha said that the language might be:

…made by a Council representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It will be governed by the simplest rules…

6. Will it be English?

Since English is so widely used in the world today, many people speculate that English might become the IAL by default. There doesn’t seem to be any definitive statement about this in the Baha’i Writings except a reference in Century of Light, a book commissioned by the Universal House of Justice about the profound changes that the world underwent during the 20th century, which states:

Until a decision is taken by international agreement, the effect of such developments as the Internet, the management of air traffic, the development of technological vocabularies of various kinds, and universal education itself, has been to make it possible, to some extent, for English to fill the gap.

So although English might or might not be the international language, it seems it might well “fill the gap” for now.

7. What is the relationship between the Baha’i Faith and Esperanto?

Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language that gained popularity in Europe and North America in the early 1900s but was not widely adopted internationally. It was created by L.L. Zamenhof, a Polish linguist. Efforts for its international adoption were unsuccessful despite considerable interest by certain enthusiasts.

Abdu’l-Baha encouraged the learning of Esperanto but also confirmed that Esperanto would not be the international auxiliary language to be chosen by the House of Justice, because of its complexity:

[Esperanto] is a fine invention and a splendid piece of work, but it needs perfecting. Esperanto as it stands is very difficult for some people.

In the early 20th century, some Baha’is began to learn Esperanto as a prototypical IAL, including Hand of the Cause Dr. Adelbert Muuhlschlegel. Some Baha’i Holy Writings were also translated into Esperanto.

8. What purpose will an IAL fulfill in society?

The Baha’i Writings indicate that the IAL will act as a medium for the world’s literature, will be used in the courts, parliaments, and other institutions of the world, and will be taught in schools alongside native tongues:

A world script, a world literature… will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind…

This international tongue will be used in the work of the parliament of man…

This is quite interesting: it suggests that the language will not just be a medium for communication for people across different parts of the world but will be used among people who share the same native language in certain environments — such as work, institutions, courts etc. — while their native tongues will be used in more casual environments.

9. How can we prevent the other languages from going extinct?

Most modern objections to the implementation of an international language is it may lead other languages to become extinct. The notes to The Kitab-i-Aqdas describe two stages to the development of the future IAL:

The first stage is to consist of the selection of an existing language or an invented one which would then be taught in all the schools of the world as an auxiliary to the mother tongues… The second stage, in the distant future, would be the eventual adoption of one single language and common script for all on earth.

10. How much longer until this happens?

Did Baha’u’llah decree that an auxiliary language would be put in place during His Dispensation or is it something that could happen at a later point in the future? Century of Light refers to a letter from Abdu’l-Baha on this subject, which states that:

…it will be decades—or perhaps a great deal longer—before the vision contained in this remarkable document is fully realized.

No matter when it will be established, it is definitely something to look forward to!  As Baha’u’llah said:

…the greatest means for the promotion of that unity is for the peoples of the world to understand one another’s writing and speech… Let not man glory in this that he loveth his country, let him rather glory in this that he loveth his kind.

I hope you found my questions and answers about an international auxiliary language helpful! If you’d like to read more, we also wrote about it here on Baha’i Blog.

 

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Making Lemonade: How We Respond to Life’s Tests

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 10:00am

We’ve all heard the old advice, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”—which asks us to meet challenges with an optimistic attitude in the face of adversity. But when those...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Art as Elixir: Writing out of the Darkness of Cancer

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 10/13/2018 - 8:00am

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my doctor ordered a course of adjuvant therapy intended to heal my body—but what about my mind and my soul?  How to step back...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Louis Gregory: Tireless Worker for Racial Amity

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

The Baha’i teachings call for an end to racism, and envision the day when its ugly specter will become a thing of the past: National rivalries, hatreds, and intrigues will...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

One of the First Positive Black Characters in American Film

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

This series of essays demonstrates both victories and setbacks in the early American Baha’i community’s efforts to build racially united communities during the Jim Crow era. Miami, Florida is an...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

What Can One Person Do about the World’s Refugees?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 10:00am

Caring for the world’s refugees, for the shelterless and homeless, is a tough business, because the needs normally far outweigh the available means. Numerous governmental and charitable organizations try their...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Does Our System of Nations Offer us a Future?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 8:00am

Increasingly, our nation—and the overall system of nations itself—doesn’t seem to offer new generations much hope for a viable future. Why? Well, many nations, seeking to build up their armaments...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Cloud9: A New Podcast Exploring the Baha’i Faith Through the Eyes of Artists

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 10/10/2018 - 7:01pm

Our friends at Bahaiteachings.org have recently started a podcast called “Cloud9”, which shines a light on the artistry and creative process of artists around the world.

The host of the series is Shadi Toloui-Wallace, the Arts Editor of BahaiTeachings.org and an incredible artist in her own right. We’ve interviewed Shadi before about her music (such as her most recent album, Daughters of the Kingdom), and she was also a guest on the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson. This time we wanted to hear more about Cloud9 and Shadi graciously obliged, so here’s what she shared with us: 

Baha’i Blog: Hi Shadi! To get started, can you tell us a little bit about the history of BahaiTeachings.org and your role as the Arts Editor?

BahaiTeachings.org is an individual initiative website that began about seven years ago. The site provides a platform for Baha’is from around the world to share their personal perspectives on applying the Baha’i teachings to their everyday lives and communities. Content is presented through articles, talks, interviews and, most recently, music playlists and podcasts. It is all aimed and designed for seekers and those learning about the Faith and its many teachings for the first time.

I was invited to be part of the team as Arts Editor in early 2018 to learn more about how arts can play a role in the website’s teaching efforts. Along with writing for the site, I curate its monthly music playlist and produce a podcast that interviews Baha’i artists called Cloud9.

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the Cloud9 podcast and what it’s about?

The purpose of Cloud9 is to highlight Baha’i artists from around the world, who are using the Baha’i Faith and its teachings to inspire their work, in creating art that contributes and uplifts society. It stemmed from a realization that there are many cool and inspiring Baha’i artists out there who are exploring various aspects of the Faith through their art and serving their communities in unique ways. Cloud9 offers a space for dialogue and reflection on these topics, that will hopefully inspire others to create their own art and support others to do the same.

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you decided to do the podcast?

I’m a Baha’i and musician. I’ve had the bounty of putting the sacred Writings of the Baha’i Faith to music. I’ve been recording albums of this nature for over a decade. The music is played in homes and gatherings all over the world and has landed me in the most spectacular spaces. It took me years to reconcile this duality that I felt between my faith and my music and to confidently recognise them as one entity and share them with my peers. Over the last few years I’ve become increasingly curious about how the Baha’i Faith informs my art, and how it informs and inspires other Baha’i artists. I’m also curious about how they are incorporating it into their own work and creative process, whether subtlety or explicitly. Spirituality is often stigmatized in the contemporary art world, but I knew so many artists that were inspired by various aspect of the Faith, and were channeling it either through their work process or the final product. When I shared this concept with Payam Zamani, who is the co-founder and editor-in-chief at BahaiTeachings.org, he saw a great opportunity to teach the Faith, through the voice of Baha’i artists, as they are all learning and exploring different aspects of the Baha’i Faith in their own, unique and creative way!

Baha’i Blog: Why do you think it’s important to have conversations and content like this, and what do you hope listeners will take away from the podcast?

I think that for a faith that is as new as the Baha’i Faith, many Baha’i artists and communities are questioning or exploring the role that art plays — whether it be music, visual, performance, written etc — in community life. Whether it helps us explore aspects of the Baha’i Faith, deepen our knowledge in them, offer new insight, or contributes to the teaching and community building efforts, I feel that we as a community are trying to find a place for it and are still learning how to support and nurture it.

I believe it’s an important conversation to have because the Universal House of Justice has told us that they long for art that is enshrined in the Baha’i teachings, and we need to prepare for this as the Faith grows and expands. As artists, educators, inventors and creators we are also exploring how we can contribute to this new culture as it emerges:

“As this centripetal movement of populations accelerates across the globe, some elements in every culture, not in accord with the teachings of the Faith, will gradually fall away, while others will be reinforced. By the same token, new elements of culture will evolve over time as people hailing from every human group, inspired by the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, give expression to patterns of thought and action engendered by His teachings, in part through artistic and literary works…..We long to see, for instance, the emergence of captivating songs from every part of the world, in every language, that will impress upon the consciousness of the young the profound concepts enshrined in the Baha’i teachings.” – The Universal House of Justice, 12 December, 2011

Ultimately, my hope is that listeners, whether they identify as Baha’i or not, gain new insight into the Writings and teachings of the Baha’i Faith. I hope that my interviews can really portray the diversity of this Faith, that there is a place for everyone, and everyone’s contributions are meaningful and valid to the advancement of our fields and communities. I want to imagine that the conversations we have in the podcast provide new insights into aspects of the Faith, maybe someone will hear something they heard before but see it in a new way that will strike a chord with them. I want listeners to leave Cloud9 with the knowledge and appreciation that behind every piece there is meaning, positive intent, hard work, and a spiritual force guiding and supporting its creation.

Baha’i Blog: Why was it important to focus the podcast on the arts?

I think as a society we are taught to believe that many industries are worthy of nurture and support because they contribute to infrastructure etc, but as an artist I’ve often felt like the arts were an afterthought. Like, let’s get all these other things right first, and then we can think about how to make it look “pretty”. I know many artists who have been marginalised by their community, or been taken advantage of, because society just didn’t know how to value their contributions. I feel that it’s important to focus the podcast on arts because Abdu’l-Baha tells us that “art is worship”, and the harder we work excelling and perfecting our art, the closer we come to God! I mean, how fortunate and lucky to be an artist and to be able to work towards such a high station! I want to honor the artist’s potential to connect to the Creator through their work, and being able to take everyone along with them by sharing it with the world. Cloud9 is a space to highlight what Baha’i artists are doing and how they’re transforming the lives of others and bringing them closer to God:

“I rejoice to hear that thou takest pains with thine art, for in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paint brush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple.” – Abdu’l-Baha, Extract from an untranslated Tablet by Abdu’l-Baha

There are many ways to touch people’s hearts, I truly believe that the arts has the potential to bring in larger numbers of friends into the community building process because it’s a medium unconfined to words and language. As a community we are learning how to diversify our teachings efforts to a wider cross section of society. The arts can do this!

“With the evolution of Baha’i society which is composed of people of many cultural origins and diverse tastes, each with his conception of what is aesthetically acceptable and pleasing, those Baha’is who are gifted in music, drama and the visual arts are free to exercise their talents in ways which will serve the Faith of God. They should not feel disturbed at the lack of appreciation by sundry believers. Rather, in knowledge of the cogent writings of the Faith on music and dramatic expression…they should continue their artistic endeavours in prayerful recognition that the arts are powerful instruments to serve the Cause, arts which in time will have their Baha’i fruition.” – The Universal House of Justice

Because this Faith is so nascent, we are in the process of learning how to support and nurture our artists, and provide a space for them to explore and utilise their gifts for service. I believe that spaces like Cloud9 offer an opportunity to explore, deepen and empower artists and the listeners.

Baha’i Blog: What sort of topics and experiences have you covered so far, and what’s something that has really stood out to you from the series so far? For instance, is there a common thread or theme that runs through everything, or that is really interesting to you?

Although the premise of Cloud9 is to interview Baha’i artists, I feel that it’s so much more. By interviewing artists who are also Baha’i’s you open up the conversation to how they live, create, perceive, function and serve in this world. I feel like artists have this special connection to the spiritual world that is almost tangible. It’s been so interesting to unravel the spiritual process that goes into creation, how the Faith informs tones, lines, shapes, and even industry practice, parenthood, service, prayer, decision making, ethics. The podcast offers a space for artists to open up about what connects them to the Baha’i Faith and the Writings, how it enables them to contribute to certain levels of discourse. We need Baha’i’s in all aspects of life in society, working toward unity of vision, striving for justice, and placing value in the things that matter. Artists have the unique ability to creatively express the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in a tangible, practical, relatable and beautiful way. It’s important to recognise this, develop a deeper understanding of the process, and nurture the spirit in others who are trying to do the same.

A few common threads that I’ve recognised that ties the artists I’ve interviewed is the value of prayer and meditation in the creative process, the idea of beauty, and how to be of service. I think this is an incredibly profound insight as, if we understand that the artist has prayed for divine inspiration, collaborated with the spirit to create something beautiful, that can be of service in some way, we can’t help but want to support it and come along on that journey with them.

In a recent interview with Jack Lenz, he expressed how music is like connecting people to their future life in the next world. He shared that music is like the journey, that ladder, for souls to ascend to the supreme horizon and to prepare themselves for meeting their Creator. He said that music provides a sense of harmony between the soul and its Creator, so if you can create something that lifts the soul to see the splendour, that this is the highest form of beauty. The splendour, he says, are the characteristics and attributes of God. God is that real source of beauty, and this beauty is the highest aspiration for the soul. I was so humbled and moved by Jack’s words, which were only reflections of his belief in Baha’u’llah.

“We, verily, have made music as a ladder for your souls, a means whereby they may be lifted up unto the realm on high; make it not, therefore, as wings to self and passion.” – Baha’u’llah, Most Holy Book

Baha’i Blog: What sort of response have you received so far?

Many listeners have said that the the conversations on Cloud9 have been uplifting. Some have told me that it’s motivated them to get back into an art medium they were once exploring. Others have shared that the conversations have offered new insight into a teaching or Writings of the Baha’i Faith, and helped them see it in a new light. For the artists who I’ve interviewed, they often remark how wonderful it is to be asked about the Faith and how it informs their work and how Baha’u’llah’s words have directly impacted them. There are so many nuances and emotions that can be elaborated on in a conversation, versus the written word. I’m grateful that the team at BahaiTeachings.org have offered me the platform that have these conversations and the role that art plays in advancing society.

It even sparked one listener recently to become a Baha’i!

Baha’i Blog: What new knowledge have you gained through this experience?

I basically had to learn from scratch how to host, record, and produce a podcast from start to finish, all with a humble posture of learning of course. I’m still learning, and am always open to growing and improving my interview style and production methods. I’ve been really lucky that the team at BahaiTeachings.org has trusted me with this project, but also given me to confidence and support I needed to grow. I feel like I’ve come a long the way.

Baha’i Blog: How can people find out about the podcast?

The podcast is available through BahaiTeachings.org, Soundcloud and also on the iTunes podcast app, just search for Cloud9.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Shadi! It’s been wonderful to hear all about the thinking behind Cloud9, and we look forward to listening to upcoming episodes!

The post Cloud9: A New Podcast Exploring the Baha’i Faith Through the Eyes of Artists appeared first on Bahai Arts, Stories, Media & Bahai Religion.

Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Houses of Worship: Spiritual Centers for Community Life

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

Baha’i Houses of Worship aren’t only places to meditate and pray—they’re intended to become spiritual centers for community life. In fact, Baha’is regard their Houses of Worship as “… one...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Friendliness and Fellowship with the Followers of All Religions

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

I’ll never forget the time I went to Sunday school with my old friend David. We were young boys, me a Baha’i and him a Christian, and his mom took...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Returning to Community: Overcoming a Culture of Isolation

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

We hear a lot about “the good old days”—back when everyone knew their neighbors and children roamed the streets freely. Back then, people say, we had a culture of community—everyone...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Making Spiritual Self-Improvement a Daily Habit

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 8:00am

There can be a lot of “soul” in a cup of coffee and a slice of cake; especially when they’re made with love. For me, it’s hard to beat sitting...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How to Find True Happiness

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

We are all always in search of happiness. There isn’t a single living being in this world that doesn’t want to feel happy. But the truth is that it’s not...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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