Saturday, November 23, 2013

Raising our banners

This is about my Baha'i banner, but some of these thoughts might interest people rallying around other banners, religious or not.

Recently I've been trying to learn to proclaim the cause of Baha'u'llah more openly and continually on facebook. Pondering why I haven't done so before, I remember noticing years ago that all the things I was trying to tell people in Internet discussions were things they really already knew, and were just choosing to ignore. I gave up trying to tell people things, and since then I've mostly just devoted myself to teaching with my actions. That applies especially to Baha'is, and my teaching efforts have been focused mostly on Baha'is.

Another reason for my aversion to promoting what I believe in verbally has been what Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha have said about words and deeds. For example:
Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning."
(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words no. 5)

"O friends! Help ye the one true God, exalted be His glory, by your goodly deeds, by such conduct and character as shall be acceptable in His sight."
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 271)

"O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men. This can best be achieved through pure and holy deeds, through a virtuous life and a goodly behaviour. Valiant acts will ensure the triumph of this Cause, and a saintly character will reinforce its power. Cleave unto righteousness, O people of Baha!"
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 86)

"The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world's misery would very soon be changed into comfort."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 16)
In my efforts to be sure that my words are always preceded by actions, I've often ended up not saying anything at all. I think now that I want to try saying more about the sources of my inspiration and strength for what I do, but I still want to tread very carefully. My thought now is to continue putting actions first, then discussing where I've found inspiration and strength for those actions.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What's happening in my life

photo credit:
endolith, via flickr
For my imaginary collaborators

Here's another bullet list of topics related to what's happening in my life. I'm planning to elaborate on some of them in later posts. I might also elaborate on some previous bullet lists. Or not.

* On line and off line
- Nurturing the spirit of faith and the love of God
- Meekness and kindness
- Pure channel

* Off line
- Origami and diabolo
- English corner: activities with children
- English corner: elevated conversations with students, including more loving neighborhoods and a more loving economy
- New friends: email, invitations for tea, walks
- Tutoring accompaniment
- "Who We Are"
- How to explain what I want to do
- Growth cycles

I want to learn to be a good friend to Chinese people who are helping to spread the best kinds of wisdom and love.

* On line
- Learning to be a better friend to some people in my life, one by one
- Encouraging and supporting individual and group initiatives
- Framework on line
- Research opening and attracting hearts
- Exchanging ideas and experiences in improving quality of training
- Fellowship across divides
- Online training starting with BIA documents
- Atheists, atheism and God-centered living

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What good can I do on the Internet?

The image on the screen is by
 Lorelyn Medina, via 123RF
For 15 years I've been trying to learn what good I might be able to do on the Internet. I've seen some fruits of my efforts to free myself from my prejudices, and to help cheer and refresh the down-cast. I've had a lot fun practicing fellowship across religious and other ideological divides, but I haven't seen or heard of that doing anyone else any good.

All these years I've dreamed, in vain, of finding collaborators in those initiatives. Now I see some possibilities that look more promising.

Monday, November 4, 2013

To imaginary friends

Bullet list update, for possible amplification later (some names fictitious):

* English corner at the library
- Chapter 1 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with little Dorothy.
- Gave Dorothy's mother children's stories to look at, from the life of Abdu'l-Baha, to see if she approves of me reading them to Dorothy.
- Invited to speak at the next English corner.

* Friendships
- Invited to birthday party for Lin's child.
- Invited to dinner with Min and friends.
- Visited by Jin and Yin, made tea, fascinated by Baha'i books, walked by the lake, felt like old friends.

* Web
- Discovered Susan Gammage's teleconferencing study circles initiative.
- Came out on facebook with my "anti-semitic" and "homophobic" views.
- Resisted temptation to get drawn deeper and deeper into Internet discussions.
- Responses to Emily's blog

* Daily living
- More OCR: announcements, community center displays, learning to use photo editing functions.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Tale of Two Donkeys?

To imaginary friends

As I'm pondering the question of how to promote what we're practicing and learning, I'm seeing RVCBard struggling with the same issue. Pondering the questions she raises, one problem that I see is that we all want to be our own producers and directors, more than we want to support what anyone else is doing. It's hard for me to face letting go of that, but that might be where I need to go. No matter how good the possibilities might be in the performances I'm dreaming of, year after year goes by without finding any collaborators. I might do more good by spending more time and effort working with other people on their performances.

Community building, and online activities, as performance

For my imaginary friends

To improve my understanding of RVCBard's posts, I've been trying to frame parts of what I'm doing as performance initiatives. One example is to think of the community building that the House of Justice is promoting as a continually evolving performance. Another is to think of what I've been trying to do in online communities as continually evolving performances. Thinking that way helps me make her issues my own.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fellowship across ideological divides

For my imaginary friends again.

I'm thinking now about our efforts to practice and promote fellowship across religious and other ideological divides. A few months ago I spent a lot of time reading and posting in some atheist forums and blogs. There were some heated discussions going on about some issues that interest me passionately, including improving the community life for a wider diversity of people, and promoting better conduct on the Internet. I also read and posted in some Baha'i forums dominated by views and practices opposed to mine. Just now I was missing some of those discussions.

One of my goals in those discussions was to learn to never depreciate anyone, and to free myself from all ill will. One way I've found to do that is to explore and practice healthy ways of using anger.

I'm not sure if or when I'll go back to that. When I'm ready to spend more time on the Internet, I'd like to work on:
- learning what kinds of online interpersonal experiences help open people's hearts to God and attract them to His Kingdom.
- helping to develop online training for people who are learning to make better use of the Internet to help spread the knowledge and love of God.
- finding ways to project the framework for action into Internet neighborhoods.
- finding more people who want to be candles for God, or some equivalent of that in non-theistic language, and learn to encourage and support them, especially in spreading the knowledge and love of God, and in serving the best interests of their communities.

Growth cycles

This post is for some imaginary friends

I'm trying to practice three month growth cycles. This cycle I'm experimenting with an expansion phase of three weeks, with intensive efforts to expand my circle of friends, followed by ten weeks of consolidation. I do have a few new friends now, that I met during those three weeks.

Part of my consolidation efforts will be to work on helping to improve the quality of institute training. Another part, which overlaps with that, will be trying to learn to be a better friend to friends of mine who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah. Two of my friends and I have studied Ruhi Book 6 together, with me as the tutor, but sometimes we go for months without meeting. One of my goals is to practice and promote mentoring as a way of training, apart from study circles.

I've been reviewing Book 6, considering what it's designed to teach us to do. I'll study the book and practice, trying to learn to do those things, and invite my two friends to do the same, and to work with me in helping each other learn. The next step I have in mind is to start trying to learn to design and implement a personal teaching plan.

I've been reading about how some people here in China have been learning to follow Baha'u'llah. I want to study that some more, and practice doing what some Chinese people have been doing, as a way of learning to be a better friend to friends who are learning to follow Baha'u'llah. I want to ask one of my Book 6 study circle friends to help me with that by letting me talk to him sometimes about what I'm doing, and maybe helping me practice.

Some of the next things I'm dreaming of doing on the Internet are:
- Learning from stories about what kinds of online interpersonal experiences have helped open people's hearts to God, and attract them to His Kingdom.
- Finding ways to project the framework for action into Internet neighborhoods.
- Helping to develop online training for people who are learning to make better use of the Internet for God's purposes, starting with studying and practicing materials on the Web site of the Baha'i Internet Agency.