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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?

Finding Freedom in Surrender— with Arya Badiyan

Sean Hinton | Feb 11, 2021
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What do you do when you feel your life has no meaning? Arya shares how her inner crisis was resolved by surrendering even her spiritual desires. 

In this episode of “Moments of Meaning,” Sean Hinton speaks to Arya Badiyan, an artist born in Chicago and raised in Grenada. She’s lived all over the world, but now lives in Portland, Oregon. Arya shares the story of one of the most turbulent times of her life, and the prayer that carried her through it.

Arya Badiyan

“I had just had my first child. I was in my late 20s,” Arya recounts. “I was in my dream job living in Minnesota, happily married, and just had this crisis of, I don’t know… I guess it was a little early for a midlife crisis, but I found that there was no meaning in my life, even though all the pieces that I thought needed to be in the puzzle were there. And it sent me down a really dark journey of trying to connect with spirit… In the end, I really rejected that part of myself, and lost my faith, and entered into a really dark, dark place.”

In an attempt to reconnect with the spiritual meaning she had lost, Arya left home and work behind to get some time for herself, pray and reflect. The prayer she chose to say that day was one revealed by Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith:

If it be Thy pleasure, make me to grow as a tender herb in the meadows of Thy grace, that the gentle winds of Thy will may stir me up and bend me into conformity with Thy pleasure, in such wise that my movement and my stillness may be wholly directed by Thee…

I implore Thee, O my Lord… to enable me so to surrender my will to what Thou hast decreed in Thy Tablets, that I may cease to discover within me any desire except what Thou didst desire through the power of Thy sovereignty, and any will save what Thou didst destine for me by Thy will.

“I grew up in the Baha’i Faith, and remember hearing this particular prayer several times,” Arya says. But something about this particular instance made its meaning really sink in. “It just struck me. It was like I had never heard it before. And it was a turning point in my life.”

“I was following my own will, and my own path and my own journey, [and] it was not leading me where I wanted to go,” she realized. That day, she promised herself that she would “figure out how to completely let go and surrender myself to the will of God, and move in the wind of His will.” And a perfect opportunity appeared in front of her. Soon, she would be visiting the Baha’i Shrines in Israel.

“As I said that prayer, in front of me, I saw a feather on the ground… And so I picked up this feather and I put it in my prayer book. And I had decided that I was going to when I first arrived, I was going to climb the steps of Mount Carmel. And when I reached the Shrine there, that I would say this prayer and symbolically release myself into the wind of the will of God and take this feather as sort of a symbolic gesture and watch it fly down the mountain.”

It would be a symbol of how she wanted to dedicate herself to God, and a beautiful way to start a new chapter of her life. But as it turned out, even that would not be without its challenges. When Arya arrived in the Holy Land, things were not the way she had expected. 

Arya recounts these challenging moments in the episode, and explains how even those moments of inner struggle were part of her path to learning how to surrender. She realized that “even something as simple as the way in which I wanted to dedicate myself to my Lord, was in of itself a desire.”

“Moments of Meaning” is a podcast where Sean Hinton speaks to people from all walks of life whose lives have been profoundly affected by the writings of the Baha’i Faith. They share the quotes that inspired them and delve into the story of that moment of meaning and the powerful changes it caused.

Music credits:

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