Saturday, April 21, 2007

13 Jalál/Glory 164 B.E.

Today is a very special day for followers of the Bahá’í Faith throughout the world. It is the first day of Ridvan. This is a day we are called to “Rejoice with exceeding gladness, ………., as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity,” (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 34)

My heart does rejoice today and overflows with gratitude for a multitude of blessings.

There is much in this broken world to sadden us. In fact, the suffering is so intense that if we indulge self-pity and fear we can easily drown in the pain.

Nevertheless, my entire being is filled with happiness.

In his book “Messages from Water” Masaru Emoto maintains that the combination of “love” and “gratitude” creates breathtaking beauty in water and since we humans comprise mainly water, it must have an amazing impact on us too. Whether you believe in Masaru Emoto’s work or not, explore the value of these two concepts in relation to abuse and adversity.

For me, gratitude has always been a balm for pain. Gratitude has made me forget the negative and focus on all that is good. The following was one of my favourite songs during childhood:
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
See what God has done
- Words by Johnson Oatman, 1897

Today, focussing on the bounties God has given me eliminates all the scars that abuse, struggles with health, watching the suffering of others and my own errors have caused.

God willing, my reasons for rejoicing will be shared over time with those of you who read this blog. Today however, let me end with just one aspect. For as long as memory serves me, God was a part of my world. Christ was real and alive to me. There was never doubt within me that God is in control even when everything is falling apart.

Then on 13 June 1992 God allowed me to open my eyes to wonderment beyond words. He let me know about His great gift of love which was Christ returned. My family and Christian friends were dismayed and many still believe my soul is lost.

Christ often spoke of the fact that we can discern truth through fruits. For example: “For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” (King James Bible, Luke) Is it possible that so much can be there to rejoice about if my faith is misplaced?

It is not the material things that are being referred to here. Although, you must admit it is quite amazing that my body has survived almost to the age of 50 despite SMA, despite decades of immobility, despite working 14 to 16 hours a day, despite inhumane stress. You must also surely admit that it is flabbergasting that R70 000 is required by me each month and despite all the odds against me, month, by month, by month the money is there.

My claim to the fruits lies in the fact that even when it was the darkest for me and all hope appeared gone, a flicker of light remained and a fire was kindled again and now “the peace of God, which passes all understanding” is my constant companion.

This does not mean my life is free of negative feelings. It does not mean fear has gone forever. It does not mean that there is not a great deal for me to do to be as God created me to be. What it does mean is, despite everything, even my own weakness, my heart sings and dances in the knowledge of God’s love and gratitude floods all that saddens, threatens or scares me. It means that this Ridvan, it is truly possible for me “to rejoice with exceeding gladness.”

If you want to learn more about the Faith that sustains me, please visit

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Later in the day: 7 Jalál/Glory 164 B.E.

Periods of intense tests and trials have often left me feeling stronger and more confident. Why is this?

Tests appear to be a part of earthly existence and yes, we can be broken by the winds of life or we can find we are able to be flexible and adapt during storms and so our level of flexibility increases as does our willingness to change. The saying: “These things are sent to try us” has always made more sense to me when the words are changed to: “These things are sent to grow us.”

My life has been filled with tests and sometimes it has felt to me that my spirit has broken as a result of the constant struggle and the effort of gritting my teeth through the pain. There have been occasions when the darkness of despair has dragged me into the belief that nothing would ever be bright again and all every fibre of my body wanted was for it all just to end.

Most of the time, however, tests have been learning opportunities and became for me experiences similar to a blood test where the end result simply gave information. “What is lacking, what is ailing, what remedy is required?”

Despite some very severe tests right now, my heart is skipping and dancing and my spirit soars and sings non stop.

What did bring light into the voids of black anger and fear and self pity that trapped me? This week my dear friend and physician Dr Joanne Roohani shared a thought that may hold part of the answer. She said she always saw the tests of life from the view of a student. She added: “If you are not prepared for a test, it turns out to be a nightmare but if you are prepared, it may still be tough but you work through it with little stress and effort.”

Throughout my entire life, it has been obvious to me that what happened to me was preparing me for something. Before a time of trial, very specific people crossed my path or a particular extract from God’s Messages to humankind became reality for me and these Words or these people later proved to be exactly what was required for me to endure through the adversity. Sometimes one period of intense challenge gave me the equipment required to forge my way through the next period of hardship.

Do you think the words below bear any relation to why we might have to face tests during our time in this earthly garment?

Unless the season of winter appear, thunder roll, lightning flash, snow and rain fall, hail and frost descend and the intensity of cold execute its command, the season of the soul-refreshing spring would not come, the fragrant breeze would not waft, the moderation of temperature would not be realized, the roses and hyacinths would not grow, the surface of the earth would not become a delectable paradise, the trees would not bloom, neither would they bring forth fruits and leaves. That fierce inclemency of cold, snow, frost and tempest was the beginning of the manifestation of these roses, hyacinths, buds, blossoms and fruits.”(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 655)

In the beginning of his life man was in the matrix world. In the world of the matrix he obtained capacity and preparation for this world. The forces and powers necessary for this world he attained there. In this world he needed eyes; he received them potentially, in the other. He needed ears; therefore he obtained them in the world of the matrix. All the powers he needed in this world he attained potentially in the world of the matrix. In the world of the matrix therefore he was prepared for this world; so that when he came to this world he found that all the necessary forces were ready -- all his needs for material sustenance were provided.

Therefore in this world also he must prepare himself and get ready for the life hereafter. That of which he is in need in the world of the Kingdom he must obtain here. Just as he prepared himself by acquiring the forces necessary in this world in the world of the matrix, so likewise it is necessary that all needful in the Kingdom, all the forces of the Kingdom -- must be acquired in this world.

646. What is he in need of in the Kingdom after he is transferred from this world to the other world? That world is a world of sanctity, therefore it is necessary that he acquire sanctity in this world. In that world there is need of radiance, therefore radiance must be acquired in this world. In that world there is need of spirituality. In this world he must acquire spirituality. In that world faith and assurance, the knowledge of God, the love of God, are needed. These he must acquire in this world so that after he ascends from this mortal to that immortal world he shall find all that is needful in that life eternal ready for him.

It is self-evident that that world is a world of Lights; therefore there is need for illumination. That world is a world of Love! hence love of God is needed. That world is a world of perfections; virtues or perfections must be acquired. That world is a world of the Breaths of the Holy Spirit and in this world must they be acquired. That world is a world of the Life Eternal. In this world must he acquire it. But how can he? By what means can he acquire these things? How is he to obtain these merciful powers?

647. First, -- through the knowledge of God. Second, -- through the love of God. Third, -- through faith. Fourth, -- through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, -- through self-sacrifice. Sixth, -- through severance from this world. Seventh, -- through sanctity and holiness. Unless he obtain these forces, unless he attain to these requirements, surely he will be deprived of the Life Eternal. But if he attain the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, surely he shall attain to second birth, will be baptized through the Holy Spirit and witness the Life Eternal.
” (Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 325)

Please send an e-mail to with your thoughts. It would be wonderful to learn from your perspective.

7 Jalál/Glory 164 B.E.

“Having created the world and all that liveth and moveth therein, He, through the direct operation of His unconstrained and sovereign Will, chose to confer upon man the unique distinction and capacity to know Him and to love Him -- a capacity that must needs be regarded as the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.... Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty.”

The words above were written in the 1800s. On first reading them, my being acknowledged, “Yes, we humans are special; we are not simply animals driven by hormones and desires. There is nobility, godliness, purity within us.”
Then my life experience called out: “But why is there adversity? Why are there struggles and hardships? Why do humans abuse other humans? How can these words describe a creature that inflicts pain and suffering?”

Do you think the words below bring an answer?

“These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory.” (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 66) (Visit and learn more about Baha'u'llah)

Please write to me at and share your thoughts on these words and the questions below:
Are we a potential perfection?
Are we in fact perfect?
What if anything corrupted us?
What and where is the flame that can kindle what lies within our deepest being?
Where should we turn to find the means to remove the dross that covers our ability to mirror our Creator?

Monday, April 9, 2007

1 Jalál/Glory 164 B.E.

“The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct.... “(Bahá'u'lláh, cited in "The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 24-25) (Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 62)

These words bring hope to my heart.

These words say to me that despite the suffering and pain that we are witnessing, despite the families in South Africa and other parts of the world that are mourning loss of loved ones to AIDS, TB, Cancer, family violence, senseless crime; despite wars; despite natural disasters; despite the suffering of countless children who appear to be bearing the brunt of the collapse of the old; despite all this the world CAN BECOME BETTER and each and every human can contribute to the transformation with “pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct”.

This makes my pulse race - the thought that by eliminating all that leads to abuse, we can make the world better. By assisting those who are facing adversity, we can ensure the betterment of the world.

What a relief, we CAN do something!

We are not helpless.

We have been empowered by God.

He has, through the ages sent us Messengers who hold all the tools. (Visit and learn about what God’s latest Messenger brought to us)

Please write to me at and share how you believe every trace of abuse can be eliminated and how the burden of those who face adversity can be lightened. (Or, as Dean taught me, through his ACTION of commenting, you can post a comment right on this site. Thank you Dean for showing me this feature!!!)

Sunday, April 8, 2007

19 Baha / Splendor 164 BE

What do adversity and abuse have in common?

Why are thoughts on these two subjects being shared in cyberspace in one blog?

Living and working from a wheelchair (and since 1998 mainly from my bed) brought challenges that forced me to investigate what tests and trials are all about and so, after 49 years in this physical garment, adversity is a very familiar concept to me.

Growing up in South Africa has brought me face to face with the reality and horror of abuse.

The connection between adversity and abuse is not, however, "me". In fact, although my experiences will be used as a launching pad for discussion here, it is my deep desire that “me” will not be centre stage and that this forum will become a place of healing for others who are weighed down by adversity or are dealing with open wounds caused by abuse.

What then, is the link between adversity and abuse that we will discuss? To start off with, it is the theory that hardship, suffering and struggles can lead us to a place of hopelessness and despair and in reacting from pain and fear, abuse often results. When we learn to understand and work through and with adversity in a healthy way, we can contribute to lessening incidents of abuse.

If you have been abused, it might be painful to consider that the abuser has possibly acted from pain or fear. Please accept that this theory is not being offered to in any way justify abuse nor is this concept being coupled with adversity to in any way diminish the horror of abuse.

Abuse, whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or mental is wrong. It is simply wrong and devastates lives daily. Abuse erodes a sense of self worth and does not only wound the body but appears to bite into the core of our being and feels as if it eats away at our soul. Could this perhaps be because we know humanity is one and when abuse happens to us it feels as if we are the one doing the harm? Or are there other reasons why abuse cuts so deep? Do you agree that abusive behaviour often stems from pain or fear? What are your experiences with abuse and what mechanisms have you used to survive despite the trauma of abuse? Please write to me at and please be sure to let me know whether you give permission to share your thoughts with others through this Blog.

As time goes by, God willing, my encounters with adversity will be written about here as will my experience with abuse. For now, let me share a quotation that illustrates why, despite living daily with severe physical pain, despite struggles that have often threatened to immobilise me there is a joy and peace within me that words cannot describe: "Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 110) (For more about the adversity Abdu'l-Baha dealt with, please go to )

If you wish to know more about me, please visit