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Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Prayerfulness

Prayerfulness

Source: Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdul-Bahá

When Abdu’l-Baha was in New York, He called to Him an ardent Baha’i and said, “If you will come to Me at dawn tomorrow, I will teach you to pray. ”

‘Delighted, Mr. M arose at four and crossed the city, arriving for his lesson at six. With what exultant expectation he must have greeted this opportunity! He found Abdu’l-Baha already at prayer, kneeling by the side of the bed. Mr. M followed suit, taking care to place himself directly across.

‘Seeing that Abdu’l-Baha was quite lost in His Own reverie, Mr. M began to pray silently for his friends, his family and finally for the crowned heads of Europe. No word was uttered by the quiet Man before him. He went over all the prayers he knew then, and repeated them twice, three times – still no sound broke the expectant hush.

‘Mr M. surreptitiously rubbed one knee and wondered vaguely about his back. He began again, hearing as he did so, the birds heralding the dawn outside the window. An hour passed, and finally two. Mr M. was quite numb now. His eyes, roving along the wall, caught sight of a large crack. He dallied with a touch of indignation but let his gaze pass again to the still figure across the bed.

‘The ecstasy that he saw arrested him and he drank deeply of the sight. Suddenly he wanted to pray like that. Selfish desires were forgotten. Sorrow, conflict, and even his immediate surroundings were as if they had never been. He was conscious of only one thing, a passionate desire to draw near to God.

‘Closing his eyes again he set the world firmly aside, and amazingly his heart teemed with prayer, eager, joyous, tumultuous prayer. He felt cleansed by humility and lifted by a new peace. Abdu’l-Baha had taught him to pray! 

The “Master of Akka” immediately arose and came to him. His eyes rested smilingly upon the newly humbled Mr M. “When you pray,” He said, “you must not think of your aching body, nor of the birds outside the window, nor of the cracks in the wall!”

‘He became very serious then, and added, “When you wish to pray you must first know that you are standing in the presence of the Almighty!”

from www.bahai.us

A Screening of “Exemplar” to Mark the Centenary Commemoration of the Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Image result for baha'i exemplar film

One hundred years ago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh and the perfect example of His teachings, passed from this world.

Exemplar follows the life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the profound effect He had on people both past and present. A sense of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s unique function as a shelter, a shield, a stronghold for all humanity is captured in vignettes of some of the souls whose lives were transformed for the betterment of society through their association with Him. The film reflects a few of the universal principles embodied, both in word and deed, by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—principles that animate a global movement of individuals, communities and institutions striving to emulate His example in service to humanity.

From bahai.org

A virtual viewing party to see Exemplar, the film about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá  November 28, 2021 02:00 PM Pacific time
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86556357144?pwd=VCt6RnlQL2dTRVhRMEYrMGhOMWlYQT09

Centennial Commemoration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Passing 

Centennial Commemoration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Passing  November 27, 2021 10:00 AM Pacific time
Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82163380864?pwd=RGVxRWhPNXRKYmdmQm9rWG9RODZnUT09

Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Teach Them to Sing

Teach Them To Sing

Source: The Promulgation of Universal Peace

Talk at Children’s Reception
Studio Hall, 1219 Connecticut Avenue, Washington, D.C.
24 April 1912

What a wonderful meeting this is! These are the children of the Kingdom. The song we have just listened to was very beautiful in melody and words. The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed. Likewise, it is necessary that the schools teach it in order that the souls and hearts of the pupils may become vivified and exhilarated and their lives be brightened with enjoyment.

Today illumined and spiritual children are gathered in this meeting. They are the children of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of heaven is for such souls as these, for they are near to God. They have pure hearts. They have spiritual faces. The effect of the divine teachings is manifest in the perfect purity of their hearts. That is why Christ has addressed the world, saying, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven”—that is, men must become pure in heart to know God. The teachings have had great effect. Spiritual souls! Tender souls! The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen. But this purity is on account of weakness and innocence, not on account of any strength and testing, for as this is the early period of their childhood, their hearts and minds are unsullied by the world. They cannot display any great intelligence. They have neither hypocrisy nor deceit. This is on account of the child’s weakness, whereas the man becomes pure through his strength. Through the power of intelligence he becomes simple; through the great power of reason and understanding and not through the power of weakness he becomes sincere. When he attains to the state of perfection, he will receive these qualities; his heart becomes purified, his spirit enlightened, his soul is sensitized and tender—all through his great strength. This is the difference between the perfect man and the child. Both have the underlying qualities of simplicity and sincerity—the child through the power of weakness and the man through the power of strength.

I pray in behalf of these children and beg confirmation and assistance for them from the Kingdom of Abha so that each one may be trained under the shadow of the protection of God, each may become like a lighted candle in the world of humanity, a tender and growing plant in the rose garden of Abha; that these children may be so trained and educated that they shall give life to the world of humanity; that they may receive insight; that they may bestow hearing upon the people of the world; that they may sow the seeds of eternal life and be accepted in the threshold of God; that they may become characterized with such virtues, perfections and qualities that their mothers, fathers and relatives will be thankful to God, well pleased and hopeful. This is my wish and prayer.

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

From www.bahai.us

Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Educating Youth

GUIDANCE ON FAMILY LIFE

Instructing Youth

Source: Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá

Addressing the level of educating youth, `Abdu’l-Bahá explained:

“The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance, and we must therefore hold fast to the tools of perception and knowledge. Good character must be taught. Light must be spread afar, so that, in the school of humanity, all may acquire the heavenly characteristics of the spirit, and see for themselves beyond any doubt that there is no fiercer hell, no more fiery abyss, than to possess a character that is evil and unsound; no more darksome pit nor loathsome torment than to show forth qualities which deserve to be condemned.

…Know that this matter of instruction, of character rectification and refinement, of heartening and encouraging the child, is of the utmost importance, for such are basic principles of God.

It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.

Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal.”

From www.bahai.us

Stories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Method of Teaching Souls

Source: Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom

And when, under His encouraging sympathy, the interviewer became emptied of his words, there followed a brief interval of silence. There was no instant and complete outpouring of explanation and advice. He sometimes closed His eyes a moment as if He sought guidance from above himself; sometimes sat and searched the questioner’s soul with a loving, comprehending smile that melted the heart… 

And He never argued, of course. Nor did He press a point. He left one free. There was never an assumption of authority, rather He was ever the personification of humility. He taught “as if offering a gift to a king.” He never told me what I should do, beyond suggesting that what I was doing was right. Nor did He ever tell me what I should believe. He made Truth and Love so beautiful and royal that the heart perforce did reverence. He showed me by His voice, manner, bearing, smile, how I should be, knowing that out of the pure soil of being the good fruit of deeds and words would surely spring. 

There was a strange, awe-inspiring mingling of humility and majesty, relaxation and power in His slightest word or gesture which made me long to understand its source. What made Him so different, so immeasurably superior to any other man I had ever met? … 

I have mentioned several times the impression He always made upon me of an all-embracing love. How rarely we receive such an impression from those around us, even from our nearest and dearest, we all know. All our human love seems based upon self, and even its highest expression is limited to one or to a very few. Not so was the love which radiated from ‘Abdu’l-Baha. Like the sun it poured upon all alike and, like it, also warmed and gave new life to all it touched…. 

No matter what subject was brought up He was perfectly at home in its discussion, yet always with an undercurrent of modesty and loving consideration for the opinions of others. I have before spoken of His unfailing courtesy. It was really more than what that term usually connotes to the Western mind. The same Persian word is used for both reverence and courtesy. He “saw the Face of His Heavenly Father in every face” and reverenced the soul behind it. How could one be discourteous if such an attitude was held towards everyone!… 

In all of my many opportunities of meeting, of listening to and talking with ‘Abdu’l-Baha I was impressed, and constantly more deeply impressed, with His method of teaching souls. That is the word. He did not attempt to reach the mind alone. He sought the soul, the reality of every one He met. Oh, He could be logical, even scientific in His presentation of an argument, as He demonstrated constantly in the many addresses I have heard Him give and the many more I have read. But it was not the logic of the schoolman, not the science of the class room. His lightest word. His slightest association with a soul was shot through with an illuminating radiance which lifted the hearer to a higher plane of consciousness. Our hearts burned within us when He spoke. 

From www.bahai.us/method-of-teaching-souls/