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

Bringing the Sacred Home

Joseph Roy Sheppherd | Dec 31, 2018

PART 1 IN SERIES A Spiritual Wayfarer’s Guide

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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Joseph Roy Sheppherd | Dec 31, 2018

PART 1 IN SERIES A Spiritual Wayfarer’s Guide

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

Each of us brings a variety of things home in the course of our lifetime, both into the place where we dwell and into the home within our heart.

Every day we make choices and encounter situations that have lasting effects on our lives, our relationships, and our view of the world. Some of what we bring home and end up carrying in our hearts brings us joy, and some is painful.

Fortunately, as time goes on, we learn to be more selective and deliberate in choosing what we bring into our lives. We discover that some things are more meaningful and spiritually satisfying than others. For many of us this is the beginning of a lifelong process of personal transformation. We come to see things around us in a new light and seek the divine purpose in the world, and we begin to bring this sacredness home.

This series of essays, based on the book A Wayfarer’s Guide to Bringing the Sacred Home, takes a journey through three important relationships:

  • the connection we have with our own inner being,
  • the bond we develop with the members of our family, and
  • the contributions we make to our community.

This series of essays will endeavor to guide spiritual wayfarers in discovering the sacredness we can find within each of these relationships, touching upon important issues within the greater themes of self, family, and community. Extracts from the Baha’i teachings are interspersed throughout each chapter, providing material for meditation and reflection.

Together we will explore some of the spiritual features of the self, that part of us which forms our inner being.

We will find that by bringing our Creator home into our lives and utilizing the power of prayer, we acquire the means to grow spiritually and deal with life’s tests. We will examine several of the dynamics of the family unit and its component relationships. We will discover that by endeavoring to build family unity and establish marital harmony, we can raise our children to be bright emblems of the future. We will look beyond the home to the common experience we share with the rest of the world community.

We will find that expanding our circle of unity requires that we begin to appreciate and find common ground with others whom we see as different from ourselves. By looking within ourselves and identifying the prejudices we must overcome, we can begin working toward racial understanding and harmony between the genders. We will find ways of celebrating diversity, serving the needs of our community, and helping to bring the peoples of the world together as one human family.

This series offers a Baha’i perspective on the inherent receptiveness of our inner being to the sacred Word of God. It will suggest ways to achieve a profound sense of reverence within the family, and to appreciate the diversity of the entire human family. This perspective centers on the concepts of unity and oneness, central to the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

The source of all these concepts is Baha’u’llah (1817–92), the founder of the Baha’i Faith, who revealed these central themes and wove them throughout the more than one hundred volumes of scripture he wrote during his forty-year ministry. Severely persecuted by the Persian and Ottoman Empires, Baha’u’llah was a prisoner and an exile from the age of thirty-three until his death. Though he wrote in Persian and Arabic, a substantial number of his works have been translated into English and many other languages.

In this series you’ll find passages from a number of Baha’u’llah’s works, as well as from the writings of three other important figures in the history and teachings of the Baha’i Faith: the Bab (1819–50), the forerunner of Baha’u’llah and a prophet of God in his own right; Abdu’l-Baha (1844–1921), Baha’u’llah’s eldest son and the appointed interpreter of his writings and teachings; and Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957), the great-grandson of Baha’u’llah and the head of the Baha’i Faith after Abdu’l-Baha’s death in 1921.

Throughout his works Baha’u’llah drew attention to the need for unity in the world and to three essential Baha’i beliefs—first, he reminded us that there is only one God. Regardless of the variety of names by which we refer to Him—names such as God, Dios, Allah, or Yahweh—all refer to the same Divine Being.

Second, Baha’u’llah taught that there is only one humanity, one human race. God is the creator of all, and no group or nation can lay exclusive claim to His love or grace. In the sight of God there are no racial, national, or economic distinctions, for no particular group of people is inherently superior to another.

Third, Baha’u’llah taught that there is only one religion—the religion of God:

There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. … Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 217.

The Baha’i teachings say that God sends prophets to humanity from time to time, and all progressively develop the same religion of God, even though it comes to different people under different names. Baha’u’llah taught that the age in which we live is the age of the maturation of humankind, a time when humanity is destined to come together as one family and regard each other as fellow believers in one God.

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  • Andrew Scott
    Dec 31, 2018
    Joseph blessed us with a visit back in the 1990s when he was living in the UK. We knew him then as an intrepid anthropologist who had spent time living with indigenous communities in Africa and South America. I'd invited him to deliver a talk to our local society, but had neglected which end of my street he should disembark at. It was only when he had arrived, muddy, dripping and bedraggled at my doorstep some time later that he had arrived at the 'wrong end' & had to wade his way through road building works a 4x4 would have ...trouble with, in pitch darkness and the pouring rain. As he told me then, never in his long experience had he taken a more challenging journey! I still have a signed copy of his work "A Leaf Of Honey" on my bookshelf.
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