ASSOCIATION OF BAHÁÍ
for the empowerment of women everywhere:
Set before thine eyes
God's unerring Balance and, as one standing in His Presence, weigh in that
Balance thine actions every day, every moment of thy life. Bring thyself to
account ere thou art summoned to a reckoning, on the Day when no man shall have
strength to stand for fear of God, the Day when the hearts of the heedless ones
shall be made to tremble.
First activity :
the spiritual qualities within us. (to empower and inform)
Second activity :
Short devotional on the power of reflection and knowing oneself (to encourage)
Third activity : A
learning log (to develop the skill and capacity of reflection)
The Spiritual Qualities
Within Us. (10 min)
The facilitator introduces
some concepts, which are used throughout the course, by explaining the
following: We are thinking of the human being as not either a spiritual or
material being, but as having a dual nature. It can be thought of as a higher
and lower nature, the higher being all that we think of as good, and the lower
all the 'dark' side of human nature. We have free will to choose our direction.
The qualities which help us to progress away from the lower or darker side and
toward the higher things are spiritual qualities or virtues, which are within
each of us.
Exercise: Where Are You
Handout. Activity to get
to understand and reflect on exactly how you are now and think about who you
want to be, what you want to do. By examining this closely you can think about
what areas of your life need to be addressed. Do this activity in pairs and try
to be honest with yourself and your partner. (20 minutes or so)
This simple activity is
designed to help people to introduce one another, and to begin to think in
terms of 'the person within'. After this activity allow the group to share what
they have learned during the activity about themselves. Then each person
introduces their partner to the group, indicating as they do so at least one
spiritual quality or personal strength that they have noticed in that person.
There follows a (15
minutes) devotional on spiritual growth - use suitable music and one period of
silent reflection at end. Do time this to make sure it runs smoothly, use
candles, flowers to reinforce the atmosphere. If you have a space to set aside
for devotionals in another room it can make this work better. Give each
participant a copy of the handout 'On spiritual growth'
Where Are You At?
1. The inner ring
represents a score of five and the outer ring a ten, while the point at the
origin is a zero. For each of the following aspects of your life rate yourself
out of ten and mark on the line a point. Once you have done this for all
aspects, think about a different aspect unique to your own life not perhaps
covered by those listed and put ii in the blank box. Score yourself on this one
too. Join the points with a ruler. You should end up with a spider's web
2. See what areas are weak
and need to be addressed. Also think about those that are strong and recognise
your real achievements in life.
On spiritual growth
O SON OF BEING! Thy
heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of
revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.
Like a thoroughbred
horse touched by the whip, be strenuous and determined. Then you will be able
to rid yourself of this great suffering by means of faith, morality, energetic
behaviour, stillness of mind and reflection on the teaching, after you have
become full of wisdom, good habits and recollection. Navies channel water,
fletchers fashion arrows, and carpenters work on wood, but the good disciple
(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))
That man alone is wise
Who keeps the mastery of himself! If one Ponders on objects of the sense, there
springs Attraction; from attraction grows desire, Desire flames to fierce
passion, passion breeds Recklessness; then the memory- all betrayed- Lets noble
purpose go, and saps the mind, Till purpose, mind, and man are all undone. But,
if one deals with objects of the sense Not loving and not hating, making them
Serve his free soul, which rests serenely lord, Lo! such a man comes to
tranquillity; And out of that tranquillity shall rise The end and healing of
his earthly pains, Since the will governed sets the soul at peace.
(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))
Nearness to God is
dependent upon purity of the heart and exhilaration of the spirit through the
glad tidings of the Kingdom. Consider how a pure, well-polished mirror fully
reflects the effulgence of the sun, no matter how distant the sun may be. As
soon as the mirror is cleaned and purified, the sun will manifest itself. The
more pure and sanctified the heart of man becomes, the nearer it draws to God,
and the light of the Sun of Reality is revealed within it. This light sets
hearts aglow with the fire of the love of God, opens in them the doors of
knowledge and unseals the divine mysteries so that spiritual discoveries are
made possible. All the Prophets have drawn near to God through severance. We
must emulate those Holy Souls and renounce our own wishes and desires. We must
purify ourselves from the mire and soil of earthly contact until our hearts
become as mirrors in clearness and the light of the most great guidance reveals
itself in them.
Highlight the ideas
coming from these passages that through our own effort can become more
spiritual, and the importance of purity of heart, a recurring theme in the
Writings. Discuss purity of heart. Ask for people to talk about those they have
known with this quality. Have a ten minute coffee and tea (comfort ) break
before meditation. Ask them to wash their hands and face before beginning.
Cleanliness has an influence on spirituality and it will also prepare them
physically for the next session.
Passages for meditation.
Give each participant a
copy of 'our real nature' and 'Some passages on virtues' Since this is a
meditation have the group relax and arrange that they don't have to read but
can just relax and listen. Tell them to get really comfortable, a cushion
behind their heads/backs can make a difference, or a blanket over the lap. Some
may wish to sit on the floor, wherever they feel more comfortable. It can help
to have quiet music playing in the background and having two different (reading
alternative sections) but good clear readers can make it more enjoyable.
Our Real Nature
Miss Me - But Let Me
When I come to the end of
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room;
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little-but not
And not with your head bowed low,
Remember the love that we once shared,
Missme - but let me go.
For this is a journey we
all must take,
And each must go alone,
It's all a part of the Master's plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and
sick of heart,
Go to the friends we know.
Bury your sorrows in doing good deeds.
Miss-me but let me go.
"If we sow the
seed, a mighty tree appears from it. The virtues of the seed are revealed in
the tree; it puts forth branches, leaves, blossoms, and produces fruits. All
these virtues were hidden and potential in the seed. Through the blessing and
bounty of cultivation these virtues became apparent. Similarly, the merciful
God, our Creator, has deposited within human realities certain latent and
potential virtues. Through education and culture these virtues deposited by the
loving God will become apparent in the human reality, even as the unfoldment of
the tree from within the germinating seed."
O SON OF SPIRIT!
Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself.
Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.
Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form when within thee the universe is
True loss is for him whose days have been spent in utter ignorance of his self.
O God! Refresh and
gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in
Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and
grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of
anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant
things of life.
O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to
Thee, O Lord.
Be generous in
prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbour,
and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be fair in thy judgement,
and guarded in thy speech. The essence of faith is fewness of words and
abundance of deeds
My first counsel is
this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty
ancient, imperishable and everlasting.
The best beloved of all
things in My sight is Justice
By its aid thou shalt see with thine own
eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge
and not through the knowledge of thy neighbour.
Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an
instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant
that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as
to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; It
is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to
I am moving on
Reaching toward my hopes and dreams
It has taken me far too long
To reach this place, it seems
My fears may try to hold me back
To try and block my way
But with courage and faith in my heart
I will get there come what may
The road will be a long one,
And it may be rocky, too
But when I reach this place in time,
My dreams could all shine through
I am coming nearer to my goals
And my excitement grows
The plans I have made will soon be real
Along with the destiny I chose
Though I have been tossed and turned in life's storms I
will surely see a brighter dawn
I'm no longer held back by my fears I'm finally....
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father which art in
heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as
it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as
we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen
Exercise (8 min)
Fill in what the line
means to you in the blank space underneath. Be intuitive. Read carefully and
then write whatever comes to your mind.
Be united in counsel, be
one in thought.
Let each morn be
better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday
Man's merit lieth in
service and virtue and not in the pageantry of wealth and riches .
Take heed that your
words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be
cleansed from craftiness and suspicion.
Dissipate not the
wealth of your precious lives in the pursuit of evil and corrupt affection, nor
let your endeavours be spent in promoting your personal interest.
Be generous in your
days of plenty, and be patient in the hour of loss. Adversity is followed by
success and rejoicings follow woe .
idleness and sloth, and cling unto that which profiteth mankind, whether young
or old, whether high or low.
Beware lest ye sow
tares of dissension Among men or plant thorns of doubt in pure and radiant
Take a few
minutes to share any insights gained, memories triggered, lessons learned in
A daily exercise for
personal spiritual growth (15 minutes)
Bringing ourselves to
account each day as a daily discipline, is recommended by
Bahá'u'lláh."One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy
years of pious worship".
Reflect on your life and
draw below on the graph your ups and downs from birth to now. No doubt there
will be peaks and troughs, label them to remind you of those periods. Think
about the bad times and your relationship with God at those times. This graph
is just for your reflection, there is no need to share it with anyone. But you
may have discovered in this process something you wish to share with the rest.
When everyone has finished
the graph each will be asked if there is something they have learned/wish to
share/noticed during this activity.
Spiritual growth should be
a natural process that we cultivate in our daily lives. Prayer is often thought
of as the food of spiritual growth but deeds are also necessary. It is
important to have this inner reflection process and the outer expression of
service to humanity that is the fruit of a spiritual life. Points for
discussion: " What does it mean to 'bring thyself to account'? " Do
we all agree that growth is possible for us? " Is this growth our own
responsibility? " How can this daily 'accounting' benefit us as we try to
gain more spiritual qualities? " 'Let deeds not words be your adorning' -
what does this tell us?
At this point with
participants are asked to use art to reflect what they have learned in this
session. Facilitator should have paper/cards/paint/crayons/cloth/scissors/
often people are happier doing a montage together rather than a
before.. Baha'u'llah, O SON OF BEING
Abdu'l-Bahá, Man is
Bahá'u'lláh Miss Me
-But Let Me Go
Robyn Rancam, If we sow
SON OF SPIRIT!... Baha'u'llah, O God! Refresh
Be generous in
Baha'u'llah, My first counsel
Baha'u'llah, The best
Baha'u'llah, Moving On
Alan Murray, The Lord's
The New Testament, Be united in counsel.
Learning Log. A way to enhance learning from experience, Peter Honey
Publications (from http://www.peterhoney.com/Product/12 [accessed 1 April
These courses are made
available as a community resource for anyone to use. We ask only that the
source is attributed: Association of Baháí Women (Northern