Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Beginnings of a Presentation: Feedback Needed!

Walking the Mystical Path with Practical Feet

In preparation for a presentation I will do at The Spirit of Children conference at Green Acre this summer, I am sharing my preliminary thoughts here in hopes of getting feedback. Does it make sense? Is it clear? What suggestions do you have?

My hope is to condense in a few pages some admittedly deep concepts on a variety of issues that we all struggle with on a daily basis that can be of immediate help. My plan is to come up with at least four—one for each session. I’m hoping adults will be helped, but my dream is that, with the help of my creative friends, these concepts can be made accessible to children, junior youth and youth.

Day One: Learning to Cope with Painful or Tragic Events 
Most of us are puzzled on an almost daily basis as to the meaning of events in our lives. I suppose we spend more time asking 'why' while gazing heavenward when we experience painful or tragic events. I’m not offering a magic pill just some insights that can at least bring meaning to a situation where we see and experience only meaningless suffering. As always my inspiration is the Baha’i Writings:

“The purpose of the one true God, exalted be His glory, in revealing Himself unto men is to lay bare those gems that lie hidden within the mine of their true and inmost selves.” Gl.p.287

'What is the purpose of our lives?' Abdu’l-Baha was asked. His simple answer is very much related to what Baha’u’llah said in the above quotation from Gleanings. He said it was to:
“Acquire virtues.” (Paris Talks, p.177)
I take this to mean that every second of our lives and every event—good and bad--are immersed in a world of Divine Purpose designed to give the individual every opportunity to develop the infinite attributes of God. We may not understand the full meaning to what happens to us in life—how it will affect our health, wealth, or anything about our future or our relationships--but we can understand that the overall purpose of God for us is benevolent. We can hold on to this transcendent meaning even when we have nothing else. Why is this important? This vision of being enveloped by the warm embrace of Divine Purpose helps the individual to avoid a deadly trap. Absent the perception that all the events of our life have a deep underlying connection, we can feel disconnected from our own life, disconnected from the individuals that we cherish. We can feel isolated, totally alone, confused and filled with anxiety and a sense that life has no meaning and that nothing we do matters. If we do still believe in a God, it is God of whim who can wake up on the wrong side of the bed and is capable of inflicting enormous pain. This insight can still beg the question, I get it that we are here to acquire attributes but why are painful and tragic events needed?
I give you a Hidden Word of Baha’u’llah:

"O Son OF MAN ! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." 

How can a painful or tragic event be “light and mercy”? I suggest not seeing the attributes of God as one-dimensional mirrors, but as diamonds with infinite facets. Some facets are developed in happy times; some are developed in sad times. See every moment of your life as priceless containing irreplaceable opportunities to develop the infinite possibilities of the infinite attributes of God that already exist in your own heart and are waiting for you to uncover their unique beauty. Get in the habit of asking the inner question over and over again in good times and in bad times:

How does this situation or event give me the opportunity to develop another facet of love, or forgiveness or compassion?

In such a way you can connect with meaning what before seemed like a series of random, meaningless events—even those events you would call a “calamity” that seemed to contain nothing but “fire and vengeance”. Do this and you will become “an eternal light and an immortal spirit.”