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Spirituality

Baha’i Prayer: With a Little Help from My Friends

Christopher Buck | Jul 1, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES How Baha'i Prayer Works

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Christopher Buck | Jul 1, 2014

PART 2 IN SERIES How Baha'i Prayer Works

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.

Ringo Starr, former Beatle, famously sung these lyrics: “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.” The familiar song comes from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which Rolling Stone acclaims as “the most important rock & roll album ever made.”

But “With a Little Help from My Friends” isn’t only a pop song—it’s a good way to describe one of the dynamics of Baha’i prayer.

To enlarge on this theme, we need to add a new (or renewed) concept to our vocabulary: the “Concourse on high.” The mystical Baha’i concept of the “Concourse on high” (also called the celestial concourse or the Supreme concourse in the Baha’i writings), refers to the honored souls that have made their passage into the next world.

Forget the demons. As I wrote in Satan’s Epitaph, Baha’i cosmology has no place for Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, etc., except as a symbolic personification of human evil.

The Concourse on high consists, as I understand it, of highly developed spiritual souls in the next world, dynamically connected with our spiritual consciousness in this world.

Praying

For those of you in your golden years (but with your brass somewhat tarnished), let me ask: “Do you think about your dearly departed mother?” Most of you would say, “Yes, of course!”

Now suppose I ask you, “Does your dearly departed mother think about you?” This question gives pause for thought! Some may be tempted to reply, “How could she? She’s dead.”

Really? Okay, granted. Your dearly departed mother is dead, physically. May she rest in peace. But is she really dead spiritually?

The Baha’i writings say no—that every soul who departs from this physical world has a continuing existence in the next world, the everlasting spiritual plane we call heaven or nirvana or paradise.

What do the Baha’i teachings have to say about the Concourse on high? Here are some passages to contemplate:

If ye meet the abased or the down-trodden, turn not away disdainfully from them, for the King of Glory ever watcheth over them and surroundeth them with such tenderness as none can fathom except them that have suffered their wishes and desires to be merged in the Will of your Lord, the Gracious, the All-Wise. O ye rich ones of the earth! Flee not from the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay rather befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the woes with which God’s inscrutable Decree hath caused him to be afflicted. By the righteousness of God! Whilst ye consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking upon you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling your names and glorifying your action. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 314–315.

May the hidden confirmations of God make each one of you to become a well-spring of knowledge. May your hearts ever receive inspiration from the Denizens of the Concourse on high. – Abdu’l-Baha, A Compilation on Baha’i Education, p. 41.

You get the picture. Assistance from these holy spirits may indeed be part and parcel of what is meant by assistance from the Holy Spirit itself.

So the Baha’i universe, although not superstitious, remains ready to engage in the dynamics of earnest and decisive prayer, which is not only a call for action, but a call to action.

More important than “With a Little Help From my Friends” is the role that you yourself have to play in the power and dynamics of effective prayer. Prayer that “works” is prayer followed by work. How does this work?

Take a look at the BahaiTeachings.org article, Six Spiritual Steps to College, and read about the six steps to effective prayer recommended by Shoghi Effendi, who wrote:

greater-than-the-prayer-igGreater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered, and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out. – Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Baha’i Administration, p. 91.

So, the next time you pray, try to carry out your prayer — with a little help from your friends on high.

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Comments

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  • Jeffery M Decker
    Jul 1, 2016
    -
    I look forward to reading "Satan's epitaph", but considering the ways that terms for The Evil One are used in the writings, it seems to me a bit simplistic and misleading to say that there is no place for Satan in Baha'i cosmology or that it is merely a metaphor for *human* evil. Perhaps it should be considered as a spiritual force.
  • Jul 2, 2014
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    Subtle irony here - help from "my friends" was a reference to narcotics, an altogether different "high" but happy to see this used to illustrate something altogether more elevating.
    Invidentally, George's relative distain for things material in his late years was exemplified by the discarding of his Sgt Pepper uniform in the potting shed...
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