Saturday, June 21, 2008


One thing I was thinking about Before Sunset was, okay these two people are obviously meant for each other. They fell madly in love 9 years ago but then lost track of each other. Now they come together and feel the same way but it’s been so long. There are so many what ifs! His marriage is loveless, but his relationship with his son is full of love! Can they get together or not? Is it even right? How could it be wrong? And again WHAT IF they had JUST exchanged contact information 9 years ago? (silent scream) How would their lives be different?

I just feel I can really relate to their situation. What if? And on the other end, here I am now, with my Beloved before me! Am I going to sulk about what could have been or embrace the fullness of life to come? They’re both 32 too! They can feel like things are doomed because they missed so much or they can begin the process of healing and coming together into an eternal, blissful union. They can be rash and repeat mistakes of their youth or they can use the wisdom they’ve earned so dearly to make this most precious dream a wholesome, praiseworthy reality!

I just think Before Sunset captures SO PERFECTLY the position that many people my age probably are in. I don’t really know but I just feel like early thirties for many of us is a time of catching out breath, stepping back and saying “Whoa! What just happened? What happened in my twenties and where am I now? Who have I become and where is my life headed? Is it what I want? Do I even know what I want? What I am going to do? This is the moment of truth! This is the crossroads! I learned a lot of hard lessons and had a ton of experiences in my twenties that led me to where I am now, but I’m still on my way. I haven’t arrived. This is that brief window where I have a chance to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’m going and to change my course so that it heads directly for my heart’s desire, to make many important adjustments to how I proceed based on the wisdom I’ve gained. This is my chance before I really arrive and have to dwell for some time in an existence that my heart cannot be at peace with!”

Or maybe I’ve just taken so long to get anywhere that I’ve arrived here late and most other folks have already arrived, for better or for worse. Either way, for me this is the time. If I don’t exercise in get in shape in the next several months, it’s just not gonna happen. Same for studying the Baha’i writings, applying to MSW programs, praying and reading the Scriptures morning and evening, getting proper sleep. If not now, when? This is my golden opportunity! I have a chance to achieve many victories here and then go back to Austin in a blaze of glory! Accepted to graduate school! Twenty pounds lighter! More learned in the Faith! Healthier! In a spiritual zone! Why not? It’s not magic. It’s simple cause and effect.

I co-hosted a new devotional today for the first time. It was awesome despite a few kinks. It feels good to be somewhat active. Anyways, in preparation for it I read some of The Seven Valleys, in particular the Valley of Love. He saith:

“In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to ashes the harvest of reason.

Now is the traveler unaware of himself, and of aught besides himself. He seeth neither ignorance nor knowledge, neither doubt nor certitude; he knoweth not the morn of guidance from the night of error. He fleeth both from unbelief and faith, and deadly poison is a balm to him. Wherefore Attar saith:

For the infidel, error -- for the faithful, faith;
For Attar's heart, an atom of Thy pain.”

I was thinking about how it is to be in the throes of new love, falling in love, being in love. How that felt for me, what I can understand from what I’ve seen in others. Yes, that’s how it is! It burns away all your reason! And all your reasons. It was like my mind was suddenly able to tear through all the veils and all the distractions and everything and my purpose, my desire, everything became clear! Just love her and bask in her love was my thought when I was in love with Kristen. Just love Baha’u’llah and bask in His love was my only thought when I was in love with Baha’u’llah. Nothing else mattered! Hah! Are you kidding! I don’t need reasons! I have no concern for doubt or certitude, unbelief or faith! I only long to be with my Beloved! That is ALL I care about! The rest I leave to whoever wants it. You can have all of it forever! I’ve got all I need and infinitely more!

To be IN that! To be really experiencing it and not just believing it. To be really feeling it and not just knowing it! In Before Sunset, Jesse and Celine have the priceless chance to renew their love, to fulfill their dreams, to be with their heart’s desire. They have a second chance at true love! That is not something to take lightly! Here I’ve been longing for a second chance at true love with a girl (not the same girl) when I’ve got a second chance at true love with Baha’u’llah! The former may take years to manifest, whereas the latter is ready! He saith:

I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in Me. The sword of thy rebellion hath felled the tree of thy hope. At all times I am near unto thee, but thou art ever far from Me. Imperishable glory I have chosen for thee, yet boundless shame thou hast chosen for thyself. While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance.”

Wow! That just says it all! First of all, I’m a stump of a tree, chopped down by my own rebellion. Not a hopeful image, yet He says there is still time! I still have a chance! Kristen is far from me, married with a kid. There’s no chance for that love. It’s gone. The only earthly love I’ve ever known is at all times a million miles away from me. Wow, that’s discouraging. I can feel that way about someone and then it just ends like that with no second chance? So this must be the ending between this servant and His Best Beloved. I turned my back on Him and then He began His inexorable drift into the far reaches of the galaxy. I am alone forever. WRONG! He is near to me, closer than my life vein. He is here with me. He is so close, so ready AT ALL TIMES. That means every single moment of every day of all my life.

Yet I do not trust Him. HE desires communion with ME? Wait, wait, He desires communion with me? Why? What can I possible have to offer that he would desire? I don’t know but I know it’s not a mistake. I know He really wants me back! What human being is even remotely that forgiving and selfless and loving! No one I can think of! And that’s just one set of qualities! He is superior to all others in every way! There’s not even the beginning of a comparison! I mean, a supermodel who is also a true saint has nothing on Him! NOTHING! No comparison! No supermodel saints are knocking on my door, much less desiring communion with me. But he desires communion with me! How many people in this life even care if I trust them? Very few think about that at all. He points to it as something of vital importance, a barrier between us! I can’t even remember the last time someone pointed out something that was holding us back from being closer to each other!

It’s true, I put no trust in Him! How do I trust Him? What do I do that’s based on trust? I don’t even trust that He’s really THERE! I “believe” in Him. SO WHAT! Yay, I believe. What does that mean? Did the martyrs believe? No, they trusted. They didn’t judge and weigh and then decide to believe, and keep judging and weighing and keep deciding to believe. They took a running jump off the cliff of trust in Him! They loved Him! They trusted that He would always return their love, that He would always be there for them! They flung themselves forward with no thought for themselves and trusted that he would guide them and direct their steps! Their hearts burned with love for Him and nothing else mattered! They were running to Him, flying to Him at all times!

He inhabited a body once, but no more. How can I be with Him then? Well, hey, why does being in a body have to be so important! He exists as He is! He is with me. Do I trust that He is? He loves me. Do I trust that He does? He desires for me return to Him, saying:

Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High.”

Do I trust Him enough to set forth swiftly on the path of return?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Before Sunset

I just saw Before Sunset for the first time. Whew! That is one wonderful film. I have always adored Before Sunrise and seeing Before Sunset, its sequel, cemented their place as the undisputed #1 and #2 in my Top 10 movies, interchangeably. Anyone who loves those movies and has not found the love of their life is feeling me right now. Those movies just bring all those feelings right out of me. I’ve never experienced any story or anything that captures being in love like that and how two people can just really be a perfect fit for each other.

I really want that, as do countless other human beings. I’ve been feeling really lonely lately. I’m pretty starved for human contact. I mean, I get plenty of interaction at work with students and other teachers. Pretty much non-stop. But there’s very little depth to it. There are so many awesome, awesome kids there that I would love to get to know better and be friends with and be a mentor to and all that, but that’s probably not going to happen at all. They just zoom through my life every day. The teachers too. They’re all really nice and awesome, but it doesn’t seem like a deep friendship is developing there.

After work I just go back to my apartment and….write in my blog listening to Keith Jarret, among other things. Whatever I do at home I do alone. Getting out to see anyone on a weekday is tough because it’s often close to 10pm when I get home, and before work is the middle of most folks’ work day. So there’s the weekend. I could get out more than I do then. I have met and befriended some people but, except for one person, I haven’t really made a strong connection with anyone and gotten into many deeper conversations. It’s kind of seeing a few people at a few Baha’i events, but always different people showing up so I might see someone once a month or something. Plus just….developing close relationships doesn’t often happen quickly. In the meantime here I am, gazing into my computer screen yet again.

The fact that I’m communing with a blog at this moment instead of the love of my life does not sit well with me. It’s a test though. I have to learn to be patient about love! I mean I’m in a Year of patience for goodness sake! If I can’t see that I need to learn that lesson then I’m blind. But I do see. All my love relationships have been forced prematurely to deeper levels of intimacy by the vacuum of patience that existed in me at the time. That combined with other things doomed them.

Sometimes I worry that I’ve used up my all my chances at true love and I’m just going to have to wait this life out and experience those kinds of feelings (and much more) in the life to come. I mean it’s not like that hasn’t happened before! One of the things Celine said in Before Sunset is that when you’re young you feel sure that you’re going to meet many amazing people with whom you find a special connection. When that special connection happens to a young person they can easily take it for granted or be dissatisfied with it based on whatever ideals they have in their mind in the time or just plain mess it up. But the youth moves on, confident that bigger and brighter things await him or her. At a certain point, though, it seems life starts slowing down and it becomes harder to meet people and less people you meet have that energy that brings the life out in you and you start realizing that you may not meet a lot of people in this life that you have a profound connection with and with whom you can develop a deeper bond. It may be decades between such meetings. That point has come and gone for me and, like so many of the lessons I’ve learned, tempts me to dwell on what an abject fool I have been. Ignorant stupidity and stumbling drunken down the wrong path, and the agony that results in, just seem to be a part of life that is really hard to avoid though. I mean lots of people spend just about their whole lives in that state. Here I am reflecting on how I’ve been that way in the past and how I still am being a fool now. At least I’m aware of it! At least I’m trying to learn from it! That gives me hope.

I feel like an old man at 32. It’s just amazing how many experiences I’ve had! How many people I’ve known and places I’ve been and thoughts and feelings I’ve had. It’s like looking back on a whole lifetime. I’ve lived many lives already, yet there’s potentially twice that lifetime to come! I hope I live a long time, mainly because I don’t want other people to have to deal with grief about my sudden and unexpected death. It’s crazy to think about how someone can suddenly just be out of the picture completely. BOOM! They’re gone. And that could be me. Something could happen and all my plans suddenly turn to dust and I’m in the next world. It happens all the time. Of course I want out of this miserable life but I really could use a lot more time to grow and become a much better person. I have A LOT of growing to do. It’s kind of ridiculous. I talk a good talk but I have a lot to prove.

One thing I’ve started to realize is that I’m two different people. I’m one person with others and another alone. With others my better qualities tend to come out. I listen, I care, I want to serve them and make them happy. I see their goodness and appreciate the warmth of their souls. I feel more like a servant, a spiritual being in action with others.

When I’m alone, however, I feel like I’m either wanting to be with others in a meaningful way or I’m escaping from those feelings and many other painful feelings by playing computer games or watching movies or surfing the internet. I’m so driven to distraction. I just can’t seem to shake this feeling: I’ve experienced certain spiritual highs in life, levels of peace and joy and fulfillment and purposefulness. I long to feel those feelings again and have trouble bearing their absence. Escapism is just a drug though. The problem only gets worse.

I guess that’s one reason I would love to find the love of my life sooner rather than later. I respond so much to other people. When someone else is around and presents me, intentionally or not, with an opportunity to serve and connect, it always feels like just such a more straight and direct path to happiness and usefulness for me. So it would be great to have someone around that gave me that opportunity all the time. Imagine! Living with someone who I connect with on that deep level, who cares about those same deep spiritual things that are all that makes this life worth living to me, someone who is kind and soft spoken and pure hearted, who is a true lover of Baha’u’llah. Imagine having someone like that around to bring the best out of me all the time, a real person right there, a person who will respond to the kind of gifts I have to give, who will appreciate them! And then children around all the time who will respond even more and draw the best out of me even more! That really is a big part of it for me. The right kind of girl for me is someone who will help me to be that better version of myself all the time.

There’s no other feeling like being with someone, boy or girl, who truly is an intoxicated lover of Baha’ullah! Someone whose priorities and joys of life really truly are on a higher plane. I’m not talking about a saint, or even always someone who is living their life in a healthy way. I’m talking about someone whose heart longs for union with the Best Beloved, whose soul cries out for the freedom of nothingness before Him, whose eyes burn with search for any sign of Him in this dust heap of a world. I just want to find a woman who is truly, deeply in love with Baha’u’llah, who is kind and loving, whose inner heart is pure and full of longing, someone gentle and caring. She can have any interests she wants. She doesn’t have to be beautiful by societal standards, just basically pleasing to look at and listen to, y’know? She can be older than me even!

Somewhere in the Baha’i Writings it is said that as two lovers of God come closer to each other they come closer to God, so maybe that really is a way to draw nearer to Him! Maybe that really is a way to feel His presence more and experience the joy of His love and feel the warmth of His light more in the black abyss of nothingness that is the prison of self. Maybe that really is something that can help to lift me out of the prison and into the bright sky! But only if she is an intoxicated lover of Baha’u’llah. If not then we’re on a different subject and it’s not about any of this. It’s not about God or the spiritual realm. There isn’t that deep spiritual connection and sharing of love for Baha’u’llah, which is the most wonderful thing in life to share. In my life at least.

I won’t rush in again! I won’t settle for less than that level of spiritual connection! Even if I have to wait 10 years! Even if I have to wait until I cross the threshold of death! The challenge for me until then is to find a connection to God on my own, without much support from other at all. I guess that’s been my test. I’m the kind of person that thrives in giving and receiving support. That’s part of why I should be a counselor, which is a different subject. I have gotten lots of support from my parents and step-dad—and my brother when we’re together—especially in spiritual matters, but at the same time there’s so many things that a Baha’i who I don’t know very well can understand and relate to in my experience better than my family can. There are so many things about being a Baha’i that are extremely difficult and painful and trying and, for me, lonely. I wonder what it would be like to be raised in a family of devout Baha’is. My parents and siblings are all dedicated servants of Baha’u’llah. Any time I am feeling the challenges of this struggle for purity and obedience and concerted action and sacrifice I can go to them and confide in them and hear advice that comes out of the same devotion to Baha’u’llah that I feel, the same absolute commitment to God’s revealed plan that I feel deep in my heart. Would this journey feel so lonely then? Would that take some of the burden of my shoulders?

I have walked this path alone for too long. I mean the central principle of the Cause of God is unity! We’re not meant to do it alone! It’s not easy! We must strive to help each other all we can! I guess what I’m saying is I need help. I wasn’t willing to say that for so long because I felt like I should be the one giving help and that others must perceive me as strong in order for me to be of service, to be a leader. Well, I’ve been sufficiently humbled by now. Boy, am I humble. I am really, REALLY humble. Pride and vainglory definitely are not my primary weaknesses!

I can’t just go out and make a great marriage happen, and absolutely not for the next 2 months. Chances are I’m not going to suddenly have tons more support in my life here from friends. So if I don’t want to walk this path alone and I want to get the support I need I’m going to really have to reach out to the spiritual realm in ways that I haven’t for a long time. The last time I really was consistently linked with the spiritual world was when I was much younger and hadn’t been a Baha’i for very long and was a lot more innocent and pure. It kind of feels now like I was a child, full of the light of the Kingdom just naturally, without really trying, without fully knowing how or why. Now that innocence is gone forever and I’ve got to find my way back. i have to return to that secret and holy place as a man. It must be a conscious effort, it must involve a great deal of shedding of old ways, and lots of growing and lots of concerted and not easy or always pleasant work. I have to really, really want it! I have to work for it. If I try hard, if I seek His forgiveness and put myself at His mercy and open my heart to Him completely, I can still achieve the victory!

My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure, and he that turneth away shall surely stray and perish.” -- Baha’u’llah

If only I can find way into that stronghold again Lord I swear I’ll never leave again! Not even I could be such a fool! I’ve learned my lesson and I’m a wiser man. Unfortunately I’m a wise man stuck in the middle of dark wilderness. Help me find my way back to You Lord and I’ll never leave You again! And if the way back to that fortress could be a little easier and smoother that would be great but I’ll just do my part and whatever You give me is the essence of awesomeness! You are so wonderful God! I’m just glad that I believe in You and that I recognize Baha’u’llah and that, though I’m far away and in the dark, You have deposited in my heart the compass that will guide me every step of the way, all the way to very court of Your throne! Yes! Life is actually pretty awesome. When I think about what You have revealed to me about what life is really about and the vision that You’ve given me for my own life’s path and of Your plan for us all, I feel really grateful. REALLY grateful! Like WOW! How in the heck do I deserve this amazing privilege when so many others are lacking it! I have got SO MUCH work to do to even begin to fulfill the responsibilities that come with this privilege. Oh I need help! I can’t do this alone! Ah, I just want scream right now! I NEED HEEEEELP! THIS IS REALLY HARD! I’M WEAK! I can’t even do this at all! I’m a body, a brain, a personality, an ego, a collection of desires and fears. What You’re asking Lord, it’s just beyond me! I can’t even imagine it! Please just destroy me and all this I, Me, Mine! Sweep it away so your work can be done through this vessel! Help me do what it takes to make that happen! I certainly don’t, in my heart, want to keep all this stuff! All this self. Blech! Cleanse me of it! Wash it away, please! Wash it away. Man, I hope that really happens. Help me do my part Lord, I beseech Thee!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lost and Found

This morning (ahem, I mean afternoon) when I woke up I didn’t feel different or anything. As I started my walk to work, however, I felt something. I felt a little more open, a little lighter. As people walked by I looked at their expressions and though I didn’t know them I felt I could sense their being beneath the surface. I felt I was more sensitive to their souls. Just a little bit. Maybe it was the brightness of the sun, the crispness of the breeze, the vibrancy of the trees on the green mountain nearby. Maybe it was my imagination. It felt a little bit like I had just been meditating or doing yoga for a while. I still felt that way when I got to work. I forgot about it as I got busy though.

That’s the story of my life. A few minutes of heaven and weeks of…..sigh, I don’t know. A mixed bag. Earthly life. The jumble of the jungle. Decidely not soaring in the heavens. I know many other people feel the same way. Maybe millions. That’s one the many strange things about this life. The central purpose of existence here is to prepare us for the world to come, yet this world seems to have so little in common with the spiritual realm, sometimes I wonder how I can really learn what I need for the next life. All the things I long for are what the next world is made of. It doesn’t just have love in it. It is made of love. There isn’t just communion with God and closeness of souls and opening of our eyes to His beauty and drinking in the rivers of His wisdom and perfection. In that world God’s voice is on the wind and His face is in the sky. His beauty really is a fragrance on that wind and a thousand rainbows in that sky. His wisdom and perfection are the air we breath in deeply. His presence fills our being. We do not just love each other. We are one.

I’ve spent over 15 years longing for that. I guess I’ll spend about 60 more longing for it. The longing doesn’t seems to bring me closer to it. Can I feel any closer to God than I do? Can I feel close enough for this life to be bearable for the next many decades? I know the answer is yes. The answer has always been yes, but I haven’t been willing to do what it takes.

Something that really hurts me is that I felt happier in the past. There was a time—or times—when I was joyful, pure, even holy. His spirit was truly flowing through me and, looking back, I really feel He had accepted my commitment, confirmed my longing, and deigned to unleash the river of love and light—that one special, unique stream, issuing from His hidden springs and rushing towards His infinite ocean, reserved only for me, a path from Him to Him that could only be run by the waters of one soul, the soul of Daniel, every pebble of its bed a testament of our love, my love for Baha’u’llah, His love for me—a river that had been dammed in waiting for that time.

This is not my imagination. I know it in my soul to be true. I have felt His love and His presence. I was soaring in His heaven, drinking deeply of His gifts. It may sound corny, but once one has tasted this sweetness, nothing else will have any flavor for him for the rest of his days. After that melody, all else is silence. After that beauty, all else is flat and featureless. That is my life now and that is what it has been for many years—it feels like a lifetime—tasteless, soundless, featureless. Right about now you may be thinking, “Um, what you really need is anti-depressants!” If so, I’ll grant that whole side of things has great merit and must be considered. I feel strongly, however, that medication won’t solve this. When a lover betrays His best beloved and breaks his heart and hers, no treatment or anything else can cure him of the agony of regret and loneliness haunts him all his days! There is only one way for the thousand shattered pieces of his heart to be fused back together into true wholeness. His beloved must forgive him completely and open her heart again and, like a magnet, draw all those fragments to her heart until every last piece is gathered around it. Then, in the fire of her love, her lover’s heart will melt and join into one whole around hers. Then, at long last, he will find the love he lost and the peace he had forgotten.

This is the case with me (and I know I’m not alone!) Somehow, by some unfathomable mystery of His love, Baha’u’llah opened my eyes and led me to Him and embraced me. Somehow I managed to not screw it up immediately and experienced, for a few years, the bliss of pure dedication to Him. I was a gazelle in His meadow, a humble servant prostrate before His throne, a lover gazing into His eyes. His eyes filled me with peace. They filled me with joy. The caused me to brim over with a life-force that I can now barely remember, much less describe.

Then I screwed it all up. I broke His heart and exploded my own. In the years since I first turned my heart away from Him I have only found a few pieces. I will never find all my heart in the dust of this world. I have spent ten years searching for signs of pieces of my heart. Now I am tired. I feel old and worn. I feel like this world has swallowed me up and has been slowly digesting me for years. I find it hard, even when I have thoughts and feelings that direct me towards Him, to sustain my efforts. I get distracted. I feel like a man with Alzheimer’s who occasionally awakens from his sickness to remember his true self and his family and friends but then tragically slips back into oblivion.

It’s so hard to keep God in my heart and mind! Even as I was deep into writing this, thinking of nothing else, an alert popped up on my computer screen saying, “Your Windows license will expire in 14 days. Back up all your files and install any version of Windows.” What I have to buy Windows again? What the hell! No way! That’s like $200 or something! That can’t be right! Oh please let me not have to buy Windows again! Oy…anyways, where was I?

Where was I?

Who was I?

There seems to be no escape from the constant siege of pleasure and pain which is this life. It’s like trying to meditate when 100 people are outside banging on the walls of my room. No escape from all the bad habits I’ve developed. No escape from heedlessness and distraction. No escape from all these cravings and aversions. No escape from loneliness and remorse. I’m at the bottom of a well and the only way out is the way I came in. I can’t claw my way out. I’m trapped, imprisoned in the mesh of my own desires.

Baha’u’llah knows that this suffering comes to many of us in this life. He captures the experience of countless souls when He says:

“Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust.”

The first time I read these words of His, and the first time I ever read His words, I was reading a large, thick paperback copy of Gleanings of the Writings of Baha’u’llah. It was white with an Irish-looking green winding pattern on the front. It was water damaged from a flood. It was given to me by the Sepulveda family at the first fireside I ever went to, the first night I heard about the Faith, in early 1993. In the days and months to come I read voraciously from that heavenly book. I soaked it up like a sponge. I was so ready, though I hadn’t known it. I knew I was searching but I knew not for what. As the realization grew within me that I had found my heart’s desire, so grew my joy and zest for life! Finally, with the help of amazing, pure, wonderful Baha’i youth, I overcame my last lingering doubts and threw myself into Baha’u’llah’s arms! In the next several years I grew by leaps and bounds. I was still foolish and immature in many ways, and there were a few setbacks, but I felt Him with me! I felt urged on and guided by Him! I felt my longing to serve Him driving me and I heard His voice calling me! Many people in my life at that time sensed the spirit flowing through me and were drawn to it and benefitted from it, as is His intention.

Eventually I lost that copy of Gleanings. I don’t know how. Around that same time I started down a path that caused me to lose all the gifts that had been imparted to me by Him through that book. I didn’t realize my utter folly until it was too late and I was caught in the mesh of my own desires. I feel as if I’ve been struggling in that web ever since, sometimes freeing a limb, maybe two, but eventually giving up and settling back into the sticking strands, letting them wrap themselves around me in some new pattern.

Baha’u’llah knows my heart completely. He loves me completely. He forgives me completely. He is waiting to release the waters of the river of my destiny, flowing out of Him and into Him. His heart is open and, like a magnet, is exerting its powerful attractive force through all creation, seeking to gather all the fragments of my heart around His own. But my shattered heart is asleep and heeds not His call. My Best Beloved is calling me to return to Him! He is moving heaven and earth to bring me back into His arms! Yet I sleep.

I pray to Thee, O my Lord, and beseech Thee. Help me to awaken from this sleep! Whatever it takes, please shake me out of this trance! I beg Thee, aid me to be the embodiment of these words, spoken by the Tounge of Grandeur, my Best Beloved, and the Desire of all the worlds:

“I am he, O my Lord, that hath confessed to Thee the multitude of his evil doings, that hath acknowledged what no man hath acknowledged. I have made haste to attain unto the ocean of Thy forgiveness, and have sought shelter beneath the shadow of Thy most gracious favor. Grant, I beseech Thee, O Thou Who art the Everlasting King and the Sovereign Protector of all men, that I may be enabled to manifest that which shall cause the hearts and souls of men to soar in the limitless immensity of Thy love, and to commune with Thy Spirit. Strengthen me through the power of Thy sovereignty, that I may turn all created things towards the Day Spring of Thy Manifestation and the Source of Thy Revelation. Aid me, O my Lord, to surrender myself wholly to Thy Will, and to arise and serve Thee, for I cherish this earthly life for no other purpose than to compass the Tabernacle of Thy Revelation and the Seat of Thy Glory. Thou seest me, O my God, detached from all else but Thee, and humble and subservient to Thy Will. Deal with me as it beseemeth Thee, and as it befitteth Thy highness and great glory.”

Ya Baha’ul-Abha!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Ok, I think I need to review what life is about. (The following is not preaching, but rather my own attempt to crystallize my own beliefs.)

Let’s start with the big picture. God is the source of everything. God is the only thing that is actually real and absolute. He is independent. Everything else is derivative in some way. All creation comes from God. Why is there creation at all then if God has no need of it? Well, God created souls. The purpose of souls is to awaken to the truth, unfold to embrace the light of the spirit, and grow ever closer to God. Souls live forever. Forever is what happens after this life, because after we die our soul lives on for eternity. That eternity is the true purpose of our lives, the fulfillment of our existence. In the worlds to come we grow ever higher into His light, we worship Him and love Him, we mingle like atoms of light in an infinite sky. We cannot yet imagine that existence but it is the true life life, the real, actual existence to which this life is but a prelude.

So why not just step in front of a bus and get this (extremely) painful and drawn out prologue over with? Especially those of use that believe in that Kingdom to come, those of us that long to feel His presence, those of us that yearn to glide over the flowered fields of His endless love for all eternity? Why persist with this life?

Well, like it or not, it turns out this life is vitally important. Baha’u’llah introduced the metaphor of a child developing in his mother’s womb as an illustration of the purpose of this earthly existence. The child cannot yet imagine what lies beyond and cannot even understand how the qualities he is developing will be applied in the context of his coming existence. Still he absorbs and digests and transforms and grows rapidly. He develops material capacities which he will use in the material world. If he is properly cared for and develops in a healthy womb he will emerge into this earthly plane possessing all the capacities necessary for every victory on every level of earthly existence.

So this world is like a womb for our souls in which they develop in preparation for the life to come, acquiring spiritual capacities in place of the material. Unlike the child in the womb, however, we have free will. We are responsible for our own progress. We aren’t the source of it though. Like mirrors we can either reflect the light of God or turn away from it or cover our faces. The light, however, is one, and it is the source of all good, all joy and peace. It is air, water, food, and shelter. It is all we need and so much more! It is what our heart of hearts longs for! Once the light enters into us it energizes our being and causes us to grow and develop in a great diversity of ways, but the light is one.

The source of this light is Baha’u’llah. He is the Supreme Manifestation of God and God's Messenger to humanity for this day and age. He is God and He is God’s humble servant, as are all God’s Manifestations. Through the person of Baha’u’llah, through His life, through His words, through the system He established, through the radiance of His Eternal Being, the light of God shines on us in one pure and indivisible ray. Through Him the light of God is transmitted from the unreachable, the unimaginably lofty and exalted Source straight through infinite space to every single soul, every wisp of time that is the life of a soul on Earth. Only Baha’u’llah transmits the complete and flawless truth and Will of God for humanity in this Dispensation. He is the source of life for all mankind. His healing elixir is the only cure for the terminal disease of the spirit which afflicts us. His teachings and His laws are the path to peace and security for all mankind. Love of Him is the key to existence. Obedience to Him is the structure within which true life, the life of the spirit, may flourish. Service to Him is the conduit through which pure intention becomes spiritual action, transforming the servant and all he touches with his service. Longing for Him is the fire that burns away the veils of blindness and fries the sticking barnacles of worldy desire. Trust in Him and reliance upon Him is the soul’s impenetrable shield of protection from every storm and biting wasp and invisible virus of this age.

We are like plants. We must focus on our own growth, our own integrity, the depth and firmness of our roots, the loftiness and receptivity of our leaves and branches, the hardness of our bark, the fragrance of our blossoms. We must strain toward the light with all our might. We must focus all our energies on producing pure and heavenly fruits. We must strive to achieve a form that reflects His beauty, His grace, His glory.

God will take care of all the rest. He will shine the light of the Sun upon us. He will cause the clouds to rain down on us. He will give us earth to spread our roots in. He will protect us from all dangers. Above all, He has already, from eternity, established His glorious Kingdom. This is the world in which the growing trees of our souls are developing and being nurtured by Him. This is the true reality and it holds our true identity. The world of spirit is our true home. We are in it now, all of us, though some of us are oblivious. Even those of us that know of the spiritual reality only very rarely glimpse a flash of it.

All of this is true and it is happening right now! It is wonderful! How grateful I am to be awake and aware of the truth! How thankful I am to somehow have recognized Baha’u’llah! Alas, I am swimming in the dark waters of this world, trying to get through each day, trying to find my way. Writing this is an attempt to find my way, to fight back against the forces of entropy that dig and claw at me and drag me down ceaselessly! Something dark and restless lives in my heart and drives me every which way but into His open arms! Something in me loves this dust heap of a world and forgets the world of light. Something in me thirsts for the bitter wine of the mortal cup and spurns the ocean of His Presence. Something in me seeks to forage on the jungle floor instead of soaring high above the mountains.

‘Abdu’l-Baha stated very clearly that the soul is at any time either progressing or falling back. There is no in between. Oh, how high I could have soared by now! How I have failed! Failed! I feel as if I could dissolve into nothingness at the thought of my countless failures. So many opportunities wasted. So many souls I could have guided, but I did not. So many noble services I could have given. Instead I served my fleeting desires. Were it not for His mercy and forgiveness I would be rightly cast off as a stunted growth, bearing too little fruit of too low quality, decaying as much as it grows, diseased.

He is Most Merciful, however, and He is Ever-Forgiving. So now, at age 32, looking back on a life so far in which I have wandered far into the wilderness and failed to serve Him and earn the title: Baha’i, follower of Bah’u’llah, I have another chance. There is potentially 50 or 60 years of my life yet unlived. What will I do with it? All mystical questions and all understanding of the bigger picture of His Cause must be distilled down to this one question: what am I going to do with the time allotted to me?

That’s a question I have to take a closer look at than I have. I have to try to see it in a fresh way. I must not despair! I cannot settle for less than the straight path that leads to the ultimate victory! I will not! What is that path? What is it not? How can I walk it? What must I do? How do I start? How do I really walk that path in my daily life, in all the nitty-gritty and grind of this toilsome existence? What can I do to help myself along that I have not done enough of or have not done at all? How do I travel from this place of words and hopes to a place of action and accomplishment?

I must pray for the answer. I must pray even when I don’t want to pray, which is pretty much all of the time. I must pray even when I’m feeling too distracted or too lazy or not in the mood to pray, which is pretty much all of the time. I must pray even when I don’t know how to do it right or what exactly I’m doing, which is pretty much all of the time.

I must start somewhere and go from there.