Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

Uniting Northern Illinois & Chicagoland

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High-Intensity Interval Training for Your Soul

Baha'i - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 11:53am

No, that’s not a typo in the title—an acronym for “high intensity interval training,” HIIT is a training technique for running and other sports that has been incorporated into group...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Those Schools of Learning

One Bahá'í's Approach - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 10:21am
We all know the story of Mulla Husayn, and how he went in search of the Promised One after the passing of his teacher, Siyyid Kazim. But there are some things about his story that often surprise me. For example, there is that line in the Kitab-i-Iqan, "But for him, God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy, nor ascended the throne of eternal glory."

Wait. What?

Except for Mulla Husayn? God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy? God would not have ascended the throne of eternal glory?

After realizing what I was implied when I read that line, I began to pay a lot more attention to the story of this great hero of the Faith.

So what exactly happened?

Well, to begin, he was an incredible student, wise, tactful, knowledgeable, as well as firm, loyal, diligent and a whole whack of other virtues, too. He went off, at Siyyid Kazim's request, to answer the questions of some mullas who had reservations about his teachings. Mulla Husayn was able to satisfy them, and when he returned, he discovered that his revered teacher has passed away.

After realizing that his fellow students were not heading off to search for the Promised One, as Siyyid Kazim hads urged them, he decided to set the example for them all. He knew the criteria by which they could recognize the Him, but had also written a treatise outlining the more difficult teachings of Siyyid Kazim and Shaykh Ahmad, by which he could test Him, just to make sure.

You see, Mulla Husayn was very smart, and extremely learned. I know that I often forget this when I think of the epic battles he fought in Mazindarin at the site of the Shrine of Shaykh Tabarsi. But first and foremost, he was a scholar.

And so, before heading off on his great and historic journey, his epic search for the Promised One, he collected his treatise by which he would test anyone making so great a claim.

As you no doubt know, he presented this work to the Bab during that first meeting, and the Bab rebuked him for it. "It is for God to test His servants, not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards."

Now this is where I find myself pausing and thinking about how it applies to my own life.

There is a story about this treatise that caught my attention, and how Mulla Husayn felt about it.

He was walking with a friend of his, Haji Mu'min-i Khurasani. They had gone to school together as children, and Haji Mu'min was taught the faith by Mulla Husayn. They were walking and happened to pass a religious school like the one they had attended as children, and Mulla Husayn said, "Never from this school has come learning, this house of ignorance is fit for burning."

Haji Mu'min asked him, "Why should we complain about these schools, when they have produced a man like you?"

"No, my friend," Mulla Husayn interrupted, "if it were not for the education I received in these schools, I would not have argued with my Lord."

In these schools, he seems to be saying, and much like many of the schools today, the knowledge is passed on in conjunction with cultivating the ego. Students are often taught to be proud of their learning, to stand tall in their "ivory towers". But when searching for the Promised One, when striving to learn about God and the mysteries of creation, humility is required, not proud learning.

The true miracle to me of Mulla Husayn's recognition of the Bab is not that he found Him, but that he was able to cast aside his own ego in order to do so.

This, also, is the main requisite that Baha'u'llah talks about in the Kitab-i-Iqan, that detachment from all that we know. it is not that we should forget what we know, but just that we shouldn't be too attached to our understanding of it.

This, perhaps, might be a reason why "God would not have been established upon the seat of His mercy". Mulla Husayn was so learned, and yet was still able to cast aside his own ego. He was so filled with knowledge, and was still able to see through it all and recognize the light of his Lord.

If the whole purpose of creation is to lead us to God, then Mulla Husayn singlehandedly justified it. And if one as scholarly as he can do it, then what is getting in our way?
Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

What’s the Difference Between Humans and Animals?

Baha'i - Fri, 12/14/2018 - 8:00am

To live only for the body, striving only to fulfill only our physical needs and wants, would be a dull existence indeed. In that existence we would only truly care...

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Personal Transformation in the Life of an Entrepreneur

Baha'i - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 10:00am

As a child, I always believed I was going to do something that would make the world a better place—it was in my DNA.   Maybe that came from growing...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Who is Robert Hayden? America’s First Black Poet Laureate

Baha'i - Thu, 12/13/2018 - 8:17am

Welcome to Uplifting the World of Being, a new series of articles where we’ll learn about Baha’is who left their mark on history through their creative and artistic pursuits: Arts,...

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How Marriage Consciously Creates a Better Future

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 9:33pm

Horns honk, text messages ding, there’s a new deadline to meet, college assignment to complete, a relative needing attention, a service commitment to carry out, or sadness to process with a friend who just got divorced. Our minds get so full of noise that becoming conscious of something can be difficult. I find it takes me a lot of quiet, alone time to even focus on something for a short time.

I recently re-read a quotation that I’ve read countless times before, and the phrase “acutely conscious” struck me. The passage relates to how young people can consciously create a better future, but I think it’s worth everyone’s time and attention. The Universal House of Justice tells us (the bolding is mine): 

…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen…

Young adults are described as not only conscious, but “acutely conscious” — intensely, seriously, vitally, and fully aware, with mental faculties fully active and focused. Aware of what? What are young adults paying attention to?

…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen to ‘enter into wedlock’

Oh, marriage! That’s a big deal. However, being conscious of the encouragement to get married can be difficult and confusing. What guidance can we turn to? Who do we know that does it well? What can we do to get to a place where we are conscious and happy about the idea? Marriage is a crucible of intense personal growth and intimate friendship and service with another person. Not easy to step into, but I find that it’s also often a place of intense joy when we are well-prepared for it.

To help with our conscious focus, there are many resources available. For example, Baha’i Blog shared a list of 5 books about marriage, there are websites like, and I, along with Johanna Merritt Wu and Jeremy Lambshead wrote a book called Starting with Me: Knowing Myself Before Finding a Partner. Furthermore, 40 years of research and information about the value of marriage and how to “do marriage” well is available to us.

Science affirms Baha’u’llah’s guidance. In their book The Case for Marriage, Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher observed that “Marriage actually changes people’s goals and behavior in ways that are profoundly and powerfully life enhancing.” They also concluded that:

Marriage makes you better off, because marriage makes you very important to someone. When you are married you know that someone else not only loves you but needs you and depends upon you. … Spouses expect to be able to trust each other, financially, sexually, and emotionally, not only because of their individual personal qualities but because being married means that most of their goods are jointly owned. The trust implicit in marriage reduces the need for spouses to monitor the behavior of each other closely…

Why, though, do the Universal House of Justice and Baha’u’llah describe this focus of consciousness?

…young women and men become acutely conscious of the exhortations of the Supreme Pen to ‘enter into wedlock’ that they may ‘bring forth one who will make mention of Me amid My servants’

Wow, having children.

Another one of those really, really big responsibilities. So, why is this is so important?

This generation of youth will form families that secure the foundations of flourishing communities. Through their growing love for Baha’u’llah and their personal commitment to the standard to which He summons them will their children imbibe the love of God, ‘commingled with their mother’s milk’, and always seek the shelter of His divine law.

Here, then is the balance. By being “acutely conscious” of the nature of marriage, we can create flourishing communities that are established on a secure foundation. And, for me, the following quotation helps me better understand why unified, happy families and “flourishing” communities are so important:

[I]f the friends are not able to maintain harmony within their families, on what other basis do they hope to demonstrate to a skeptical world the efficacy of the pre-eminent character of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah? What possible influence could they hope to exert on the development of nations and the establishment of world peace?

Our credibility as promoters of unity of all types is linked to family unity, with happy, healthy marriages as the foundation. The world needs courageous, committed, and well-informed men and women to “enter into” marriage. This single act has the potential to build a better world.


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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Finding Self Worth is a Spiritual Journey, Not a Material One

Baha'i - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 10:00am

As we explore spiritual concepts with children, youth and adults, we don’t only develop more spiritual habits—we also begin to find our own self-worth. Society often gives material qualities excessive value,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Embracing Light and Becoming a Virtuous Person

Baha'i - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 8:45am

Since no actual chain exists in the Chain of Being, that metaphorical phrase tells us about the linkage—the relationality—among created beings. When you meditate on the Chain of Being and...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Spirituality & Mental Health: Is Mental Illness, Spiritual Weakness?

Baha'i - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:00am

I was struck with a severe mental illness—rapid cycling bipolar disorder, Type I—at the age of 51. Most people who get bipolar—which used to be called manic depression—have their first...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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

Baha'i - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 8:00am

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 - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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 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

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Benefits of Making Community Service a Part of Your Work

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

Ever wondered about the work that goes into designing and building a Baha’i House of Worship? 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 - 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:

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.

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs


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