December 2010 Archives

Thou and Thee in Sacred Literature

December 26, 2010

The words "thou" and "thee" are unfamiliar to most of us, except in the context of sacred writ (particularly the King James Bible). Thus many of us think of "thou" as very formal. In some Dostoyevsky novel, I encountered something to the effect of "why did you address me with the familiar thou?". That got me thinking: is "thou" is an outdated form of familar address, like "tú" compared to "su" in Spanish? Well, more or less, though that distinction may not do it justice in the context of sacred literature.

Baha'i Pilgrimage, pt 4: The Monument Gardens

December 23, 2010

Four members of the "Holy Family" are buried in the second major development of the Bahá'í World Centre (the prior being the mausoleum of the Báb): Ásíyih Khánum (the "Most Exalted Leaf", "Navváb"), wife of Bahá'u'lláh, their children Bahíyyih Khánum (the "Greatest Holy Leaf") and Mírzá Mihdí (the "Purest Branch"), and Munírih Khánum, wife of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Although it is not part of the scheduled tour of holy places, we felt it was essential that we pay our respects to these departed souls, who gave everything to the Faith.

Review: The Chosen Highway, by Lady Blomfield

December 17, 2010

The Chosen HighwayThe Chosen Highway by Lady Blomfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I took my nook on pilgrimage, with a whole slew of Bahá'í e-books. I realized after the first day that I wanted to read a first-hand account from a pilgrim who visited the Holy Land during the time of the Master, 'Abdu'l-Bahá. I had already read God Passes By just last year, The Dawnbreakers some years ago, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era fairly recently, and several other books dealing with Babí and Bahá'í history. So I decided to try out Lady Blomfield's The Chosen Highway – and was well-rewarded for it.

Baha'i Pilgrimage, Pt 3: A Sense of Peace

December 11, 2010

Perhaps my most powerful emotion in direct reaction to the sites we visited during the pilgrimage was a feeling of peace and contentment. From 1853 to His death in 1892, Bahá'u'lláh lived a life of exile and periodic imprisonmnet. The lowest point was His imprisonment in the citadel of 'Akká in Syria – in the heart of a prison city built above the fetid ruins of the Cruisader capital of St. Jean de Acre.

The Citadel of 'Akká

Baha'i Pilgrimage, pt 2: Sacred Space (revised)

December 8, 2010

In an epistle extolling the Ridván Gardens outside of 'Akká – more on which in a future post – Bahá'u'lláh wrote that "God's power and the perfection of His handiwork could enjoyably be seen in the blossoms, the fruits, the trees, the leaves and the streams." In that spirit, the time spent out in the various "Bahá'í Gardens" was an integral part of the spiritual experience of the pilgrimage – linking physical sensation with spiritual "praise" of creation †. No matter how handsome the building, I will always feel most alive and aware in natural (or semi-natural) settings.

Baha'i Pilgrimage, pt 1

December 4, 2010

We returned yesterday from our Bahá'í pilgrimage. Pilgrimage to the Bahá'í holy places is enjoined in Bahá'u'llá's Most Holy Book, if one is able to undertake the travel. I was careful to avoid having too many specific expectations, instead being open to all the experiences I would encounter. For some the pilgrimage is a transformative experience. I would not label it thusly for me, but it was certainly a meaningful and memorable experience that I hope I can use to galvanize myself to further personal development.

Terrace 19 on Mt. Carmel, full size

This post will be the first in a series of posts and photos about my experience. Many people have shared their stories on the web, and I don't expect mine to be particularly unique or illuminating. But compiling them here seems like the best way for me to digest the experience, and stretch it into the future.

For official public information on the "Bahá'í gardens" in Israel (two of the primary locations we visited), there is a very informative (and relatively new) public web site. As I compile my experiences, I plan on linking to many historical stories regarding the various places visited, which illuminate the importance of these sites to Bahá'ís.

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