Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

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Want a Spiritual High? Go With the Flow

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 8:02am

We all know what it feels like to be “in the zone,” that feeling of total absorption in a task where we allow our spirit to guide us as time...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Why Did the Jews Reject Christ When He Appeared?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/04/2019 - 10:00am

One day, in about 150 AD, a Jewish rabbi named Trypho and his students were walking down the road near Ephesus, Turkey.  They came upon a venerable figure dressed in...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Cows, Burgers, and the Fires in the Amazon

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 09/04/2019 - 8:00am

The other day I ate a burger at a fast-food restaurant. That might sound completely mundane and unremarkable – but I haven’t eaten one in 40 years. Allow me to...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Music Inspired by the Heroes Teaching Conference in Brisbane, Australia

Baha'i Blog - Wed, 09/04/2019 - 5:38am

In April this year, some 1,000 Baha’is and like-minded friends from all over Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Australia, gathered together in the city of Brisbane to attend a historic conference aimed to help its participants find their place in service to Baha’u’llah and humanity.

The conference was called ‘The Heroes Teaching Conference’, and woven throughout the two-day program were beautiful songs performed by conference participants who were inspired by stories of heroism in the Baha’i Faith’s history, and from the spirit generated at the event. Within a few weeks after the conference, these songs were recorded live in a music studio in Brisbane, and we’re so excited to share this wonderful collection of inspiring songs!

Included below are the video and audio playlists for the ‘Music inspired by the Heroes Teaching Conference’, and you may also enjoy watching this highlight video about the conference, and some of the talks from the conference.

Videos:

Audio:

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

How I Try to Break My Unwanted Patterns

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 10:00am

Someone once told me that life continues to give you the same challenge until you learn to overcome it. While I am not sure that this is true for everyone,...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Delayed Gratification and the Next Life

Baha'i Teachings.org - Tue, 09/03/2019 - 8:00am

Life has gradually taught me the benefits and the joy of delaying my gratification. Why put off enjoying the immediate rewards for my efforts? Allow me to explain. Delayed gratification...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Can Hatred Have a Righteous Role?

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 10:00am

I hate to see an ounce of pain on someone’s face. I hate to see a war between people for any reason. I hate to hear unkind words that stab...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Integrating My Inbox—and My Life

Baha'i Teachings.org - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 8:00am

For Baha’is, and increasingly from the perspective of science, reality is one, and all things are connected: The law of God is one; the evolution of existence is one; the...

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Digital Materials for Baha’i Storytelling Performances

Baha'i Blog - Mon, 09/02/2019 - 6:56am

Ravi Purushotma has created a unique artistic resource for communities producing dramas or plays about Baha’i history — particularly in the days and weeks leading up to, during and after celebrations for the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-Herald of the Baha’i Faith. It’s unlike any other creative project I’ve heard of, so I was excited to hear from Ravi about what it is, how it works, and how others can use it. Here’s our conversation:

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

Sure, we’re creating downloadable materials that people can use to put on professional-looking Baha’i plays, without having to sink time into all the logistics that are normally required for performance arts. Essentially, someone would go to www.bahai.studio and browse through a set of plays they could perform. After selecting one, they’d download it and put it on a digital projector, which would then create all the scenes/backgrounds, props and anything else needed to support that play. Actors would then stand in-front of the screen and perform the play, optionally receiving their lines to say via bluetooth headphones. By carefully coordinating the timing of the projected content with the movements of the actors, we can create the illusion of interacting with projected objects. There’s the potential with that technique to create some innovative and breathtaking experiences. Here’s an example of this technique from YouTube.

Baha’i Blog: What was the main idea behind the initiative, and why was it important for you to make it?

There were probably a number of little ideas behind it that all came together that made it feel important to create. One was watching the extreme amounts of sacrifices communities currently require in order to put on artistic performances. Behind even a simple kids play at a Holy Day celebration, there’s often countless hours of sweat and tears put in by parents to actually make that performance happen. Then, after that performance, all that work just kind of evaporates. And communities all over the world are duplicating a lot of the same efforts over and over again. If technology can make some of the behind-the-scenes grunt work smarter across communities, that suddenly frees up a lot of time to focus on less on the logistical and more on the human needs.

Another was seeing how much interest and re-shares non-Baha’i digital projection performances get on platforms like Facebook. I’d think about how if we had similar materials telling the Baha’i stories, it would enable communities anywhere to tap into that same natural interest and intrigue these plays generate. Also thinking about how with movies like The Matrix, the visual effects help captivate kids’ imaginations about what kinds of super heroic powers they could have if they recognize the illusion of the material world and learn to supplicate souls beyond in the next. I know if I could have had the chance as a kid to not just watch, but embody and perform similar real historical examples of that same phenomenon, with Matrix-style effects, it would have sent my imagination into overdrive and created more of a sense of awe with the history of the Faith.

So those and really lots of other little ideas kinda culminated together to make it feel important to create this project.

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your technical background in making something like this?

Ravi Purushotma

My academic background is in Educational Video Game Design/Development and my professional background is in Web Programming. Unfortunately neither of those are particularly helpful for the art and 3D-modelling skills needed for this project, but I’ve been learning fast. Once the first set of plays are ready, I have ideas of how my programming background can be useful in developing more supporting materials and companion apps to further enhance the plays and simplify the distribution.

Baha’i Blog: What sort of effect do you hope this product will have on others?

I’m hoping it can help to break down some of the dilemmas and dichotomies we currently experience:

* Do we put on Holy Day performances intended primarily for Baha’is with explicitly Baha’i content or do we focus on putting on a celebration we can easily invite people who aren’t Baha’i to and know they’ll find it fun and compelling?

* Do we just accept that kids will always have the allure of television, video games and other modern media, but they must put that all aside for the Faith and learn to sit patiently instead?

* Do we focus all our time and resources on putting on great artistic performances, or do we dedicate our energy elsewhere and Feast/Holy Days/etc can only afford more basic programs?

My hope is that as we take the technologies used in popular culture and utilize them for the Faith, we’ll be able to remove some of these dichotomies. I hope we’ll be able to regularly and easily put on performances of Baha’i history, at a caliber that even people who aren’t Baha’i will love to watch.

Baha’i Blog: Have people or communities been using it, and if so, what has the response been like so far?

We’ve done some performances locally at feasts, holy day celebrations and the arts portion of a regional conference. People are definitely surprised and blown away when they see for the first time all the digital and physical elements coming together in front of them. It definitely helps give the stories much more of an emotional impact and allows them to come to life. At this point, we’d really love to move beyond local performances and perfect the infrastructure so anyone anywhere can use the materials and put on a great play.

Baha’i Blog: What’s something about the project or the journey in making this, that you can share which has touched you personally?

Really the most encouraging thing for me is just how supportive my wife has been of the project. At first, I was just playing around with digital video editing to satisfy my own intellectual curiosity. At some point, it started to evolve into something that communities anywhere could potentially benefit from, but could also turn into a lot of work if they ended up needing help and support. At that point, my wife essentially said “If you believe communities can benefit, go for it! Whatever balls you end up needing to drop while juggling this, don’t worry, I’ll pick them up. Just, go go go!” Knowing that if there’s any sudden surge of interest in performing these plays ahead of the bicentenary, that I can have the bandwidth available to provide the necessary support, is hugely liberating. For me, being able to really delve into The Dawn-Breakers and create cool video art is hardly a sacrifice. But for someone to be willing to take on all the boring stuff in life to needed to make sure all this can actually happen, is truly noble service in my mind!

Baha’i Blog: How can people find out more about it?

There’s information at www.bahai.studio or our facebook page. But, really I’d encourage people to just write me at rpurushotma@gmail.com with any questions or support they could use in putting on their own performances!

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Ravi! And thank you for creating this awesome resource!

Check out the demonstration below of the story of Mulla Ali, the second Letter of the Living.

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

5 Ways to Become a Spiritual Warrior

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/01/2019 - 10:00am

You’ve probably heard the phrase “spiritual warrior”—but what does it actually mean? In Tibetan Buddhism, it refers to someone who energetically combats the universal enemy: self-ignorance. That condition of ignorance...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Twin Spiritual Perspectives: the Navajo and Baha’i Teachings

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sun, 09/01/2019 - 8:00am

In this essay, Navajo Baha’i Bitahnii Wayne Wilson and Chris Buck continue their conversation about the striking parallels between the Navajo spiritual traditions and the Baha’i teachings. Q: Bitahnii Wayne,...

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Wisdom, Revelation and Materialist Philosophy

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 08/31/2019 - 10:00am

An anvil can be used to forge many things—and a blacksmith with various tools can choose to use them for good or evil.  It is not until the finished item...

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How to Discover and Admit Our Own Prejudices

Baha'i Teachings.org - Sat, 08/31/2019 - 8:00am

We have to identify and eliminate our internal individual prejudices before we can truly begin to appreciate our diversity.  The first step looks a lot like the first step of...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

Jacqueline Claire on Painting as a Form of Prayer

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 08/30/2019 - 10:00am

Ever dreamed of walking into an art exhibit, wishing you could interact with the artist and the art itself? What if you could go one step further and gain insight...

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Seeing a Reflection of the Divine in Others

Baha'i Teachings.org - Fri, 08/30/2019 - 8:00am

The Baha’i teachings assure us that God always watches over humanity, primarily through the gradual unfoldment of spiritual teachings by an ongoing series of divine messengers and prophets.  As an...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

19 Animated Videos by the Baha’is of Ireland for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Baha'i Blog - Fri, 08/30/2019 - 4:25am
The Irish Baha’i Community is creating a series of 19 short animated videos in honor of the bicentenary anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith. These charming and succinct videos share warmly-told stories about the early days of the Baha’i Faith and about some qualities of the Bab. I was delighted when Trisha from the Irish Office of Public Affairs graciously agreed to tell us a little bit about them. I hope you enjoy our conversation:

 Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration to make a series of videos? Our Office of Public Affairs decided that we’d like to commemorate and celebrate the Life, Heroism and Mission of the Bab and the early believers during the Bicentenary year of the Birth of the Bab. We are fortunate to be an Office with members and collaborators who are able to do some or all of the tasks associated with making videos so we decided this would be the best medium for us – a case of, “use what you have”, I suppose. We then worked on developing a series of stories that are not only based on historical events but also highlight the qualities of the Bab and the other heroic souls who surrounded Him. Qualities and virtues like love, independent investigation of truth, obedience to God, truthfulness, selflessness, vision, insight, valour, regard for the wellbeing of society and –  it goes without saying – courage of every sort. Our idea is that these qualities are vitally needed in the world, maybe never more than in present times when there is so much dysfunction, injustice and suffering. To showcase these qualities we decided to tell stories that show the qualities rather than just speak about the qualities themselves. We also decided to add stories about the Irish connection with the Bab and the Baha’i Faith. As you know, our first video was about Dr. Cormick – whose father was from Ireland – and who is the only Westerner known to have met the Bab. We have another couple of videos in the series highlighting the Irish connection. We tried to make all of the stories as simple and accessible as possible while still being historically accurate. Interestingly, some people think we have created the series for children but that isn’t the case. While we hope that the videos are indeed accessible for children, they are intended for everyone of every age, every nationality and, indeed, every religion or belief. We are fans of the advice attributed to Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” We chose to use stories and a story-telling style as stories are extremely powerful in transmitting concepts. Engagement with stories can allow us to have a peek at the thoughts, motives, hopes and feelings of others. This then can help us to form the so-called “theory of mind” which we need to use when we are navigating complex social situations. In other words, stories can help us to work out what to do in our lives when we find ourselves in uncharted territory. To be honest, since we started working on the series and have become sort of immersed in these stories ourselves, some of us have even found that it has helped when working out what to do or how to be in much more ordinary situations. Love and courage and all the other qualities have applications in every sphere of life, I guess! Baha’i Blog: How were the videos put together? So, firstly we decided together which stories to tell and then as we work we split up the jobs – researching, writing, graphics, animation, finding the narrators and arranging the filming, finding music, filming and recording the narrators, editing, video production – there are quite a few jobs! However, we are very fortunate as we find that everyone we’ve dealt with has been endlessly helpful. People have supported us and indulged our sometimes chaotic way of working and have let us film in their kitchens and gardens, before meetings, during projects – we really could not have made any videos at all without this goodwill and assistance. Baha’i Blog: How have the videos been received so far? The videos have been very well received. Obviously there is support in Ireland for these videos but we’ve also had lovely support from people all around the world. We have also had requests from a number of Baha’i communities for “clean” copies of the videos so that they can be translated into different languages. This makes us really happy as we feel it means we have created something that can be of use to others. (Public apology – the production of “clean” copies is behind schedule so to anyone reading this who has asked for clean copies – we are very sorry and we promise to get more of them to you as soon as we can!!!) Baha’i Blog: What is the aim of the project? As I said above, there are two main aims – one is to highlight the amazing virtues and qualities of the Babi period in a way that is accessible and relatable for all of us today as we work to build healthy, just and safe communities, and the other is to tell stories that show the connection between Ireland and the Bab and the Baha’i Faith. Baha’i Blog: When will all the videos be released? The final videos in the series will be released in October to celebrate the Twin Birthdays. Baha’i Blog: Where are all the places the videos can be watched? The videos can be watched on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube and soon on our website – www.bahai.ie  Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much, Trisha, for sharing this information with us! Below you’ll find the introductory video for the series:

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

The Science of Kids and Religion

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 08/29/2019 - 10:00am

When my friends, a pregnant couple about to have twins, asked me if they should raise their children with a religion, I immediately got curious about the science involved in...

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Materialism and the Fall of Religion

Baha'i Teachings.org - Thu, 08/29/2019 - 8:00am

Religious and spiritually-minded people commonly decry the corrosive rise of materialism. The Baha’i writings repeatedly criticize the rise of materialism as a major ill in our society, describing it as:...

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5 Glimpses of the Afterlife from the Baha’i Writings

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 10:00am

The Baha’i teachings say that “Whatever objects appear in this world of existence are the outer pictures of the world of heaven.” How can we see, then, what those objects...

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Adam and the Age of Prophecy

Baha'i Teachings.org - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 8:00am

The Baha’i teachings explain that we humans all need an educator—that without education, we would never acquire “the means of comfort, civilization and human virtues:” … education is of three...

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Categories: Bahá'í Blogs

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