Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Bit of Mud

One day, many years ago, there was a Baha'i lady who had a dream. She saw a great flood of mud engulfing the world around her. Many, many people were stuck in this mud, struggling to get out, but often drowning. She watched as some tried to help others, sometimes succeeding for a short while, but usually getting stuck themselves. She that it was a disaster of truly epic proportions. And then she noticed 'Abdu'l-Baha up on a hill tinkering with some sort of machine. She ran up to Him and called His name. He didn't seem to hear her, so she called again, begging for him to help those who were drowning. That was when He turned to her and said, "But don't you see what I am doing? I am building this machine to clear up all of the mud."

To me, this story beautifully conveys both the dire situation we see around us in the world today, as well as the role of the training institute in helping raise up the World Order described by Baha'u'llah.

Over the past few days I have received a number of e-mails and questions regarding how we respond to different issues of importance around the world. And the truth is I don't really know. These questions are important, and these situations are real, but should we try to solve each problem one at a time, or should we dedicate our energies to solving the very root cause of all these issues?

Some of the issues mentioned, in case you are interested, are the environment, the minimum wage issue in the US, increases in religious persecution in some areas, school shootings, just to name a few. These are very real issues. People are getting hurt and often dying. But they all stem from a fundamental point: a lack of spiritual awareness.

"No wonder," writes Shoghi Effendi in The Unfoldment of World Civilization, one of the World Order letters, "therefore, that when, as a result of human perversity, the light of religion is quenched in men's hearts, and the divinely appointed Robe, designed to adorn the human temple, is deliberately discarded, a deplorable decline in the fortunes of humanity immediately sets in, bringing in its wake all the evils which a wayward soul is capable of revealing. The perversion of human nature, the degradation of human conduct, the corruption and dissolution of human institutions, reveal themselves, under such circumstances, in their worst and most revolting aspects. Human character is debased, confidence is shaken, the nerves of discipline are relaxed, the voice of human conscience is stilled, the sense of decency and shame is obscured, conceptions of duty, of solidarity, of reciprocity and loyalty are distorted, and the very feeling of peacefulness, of joy and of hope is gradually extinguished."

Doesn't this just sound like what we see in the world around us today? Can't we just see this debasement of people all around? Isn't confidence in all the various man-made institutions around the world shaken? Discipline seems to have just been thrown out the window, as well as any semblance of conscience. Our sense of decency? Well, we only need to look at the media and what passes for entertainment to decide on that. And all the rest of that list? We surly see signs of what the Guardian is warning us about here every day in the news.

So while I may address a lot of questions or issues here, I still feel that the most important thing is to take care of the very heart of the problem, which is the state of religion itself in the world, and the need for its seat within the human heart.

And on that cheery note, I think I'll take care of a few errands that need doing today.

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