EMBRACING THE NEW YEAR

  “Those virtues that befit dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.”

                                 ~from   Baha’i Faith, Science and Spirituality, page 170

The year 2017 has already shown to have numerous challenges, and those challenges are clearly going to increase as the year continues.  The first response to these many challenges would likely be to get discouraged and just accept whatever comes.  But a more sensible response, one that involves personal faith, is to meet these times of stress and uncertainty with a sense of purpose and to act based on our highest values and with plenty of courage.

President-elect Donald Trump has already called for a new nuclear arms race, in which he seems to think that the United States would be the winner.  No such thing could be more dangerous than to go in that direction. A more appropriate response to statements of that kind should be to speak up and to take the necessary actions to prevent an arms race from happening.  As with the resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, if enough of us do speak up and get involved, many such unwise actions can be prevented.

People of faith have a special opportunity to take action together in times like these.  As with the Baha’i quotation at the top of this page, the qualities of forbearance, mercy, compassion, and loving-kindness are what can be most successful in changing the minds of those who would do harm to individuals and society.  This year appears to be the year when a lot of courage and other positive qualities will be needed to keep our society on a constructive path.  With that in mind, now is a good time to prepare ourselves for what is to come.

We do not need to spend the money to build a wall between ourselves and Mexico, and we are unwise to start making a list of Muslims who either should be deported or refused admission to this country just because they are Muslims.  Our diversity of race, culture, and religion are among our strengths as a nation, so it is not sensible to change that direction just because we have a different administration in Washington, D.C.

Instead, we would do well to more faithfully cultivate our spiritual practice and to meet with others in a spiritual community who are devoting themselves to building a deeper faith, as well as to become involved in the interfaith movement.   For those who are unfamiliar with the interfaith movement, it is gatherings of people of different faiths who come together to strengthen their spiritual practices and to serve the will-being of their community and the world.

 

Spirit is One; paths are many!

PREPARING FOR THE CHALLENGES OF 2017

by Rev. Leland Stewart
The year which is now beginning has challenges more severe than any year in recent memory.  Some of these challenges are already certain to happen.  Others are challenges that are being predicted, such as a major financial collapse.  Finally, there are the various problems around the world, particularly in the Middle East.   This clearly is not a complete list, but these are among the most serious of the challenges ahead of us in 2017.

Recently I attended a meeting focused on how we should prepare for crises that can arise when least expected.  Often the best way to avoid such occurrences is to be prepared.  Such preparations could include having enough food to last for several days or even a week or more; making sure that your car is working well, so that the can leave

the area quickly if needed; and getting training in nonviolence and in safety precautions.

Most important of all, however, is the spiritual aspect of your readiness to meet any challenges that may arise.  Instead of living in fear, it is important to have a positive, caring attitude.  If we know that we will be able to handle any emergency that might confront us, and if we follow a spiritual practice every day, then we will a long way on the path of being able to meet whatever challenges arise.

Starting at the beginning of the year is an excellent time to make sure that we are prepared in every possible way to meet all crises that come along.  Rev. Dr. Michael Beckwith today, January 1sr, mentioned that it is in the realm of time and the visible world that the challenges come up, but that the spiritual world is beyond time and free of all the obstacles that we meet in the visible world.  To cultivate our spiritual dimension is to prepare ourselves for meeting the day-to-day challenges.

For many people the name attached to the spiritual world is God, but increasingly there are other words such as Ultimate Reality, Supreme Identity, and the like.  Buddhists do not believe in a personal God.  Yet they can be just as deeply religious as those who do believe in God.  Our statement of belief says “the Spirit of All Life, called by any name or no name”.  The energy of the spiritual realm is the purest and most transcendent energy available, and its being at the center of your life will best prepare you for meeting whatever comes your way.

So as you begin this year, in addition to the various worldly preparations you can make, be centered in your spiritual practice and know that It will make possible your meeting of any and all challenges that you have ahead of you.

Spirit is One; paths are many!