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Sowing Peace Past Events

SOWING PEACE Initiative: First event

Our Commemoration of a Unity Feast was held on Friday, June 29th, 2012.

Our first event was an extreme success. I had planned to go to Queens Park alone to pray and read a talk of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and invited a few friends to join me. One said she would be there and a few others said they would try to make it. There were 22 of us for the event and two more showed up later. That means that participation was 2400% (two thousand four hundred percent) higher than I originally anticipated.

Of our numbers there were two that had very limited knowledge of the Baha’i Faith and had come to investigate it. All received the loving message of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and were encouraged to promote world peace. Many ethnicities were represented as well as a wide age range, but all had one common goal, to establish world peace. There were no political agendas and no one was marketing a product or trying to capitalize on the event. Simply stated all wanted peace and are now better equipped to sow the seeds of peace in those they meet. This is what SOWING PEACE is all about. Planting the seeds of peace in the Human Heart and unlocking it to the revelation of the Glory of God. These must go hand in hand because personal agendas would get in the way of peace. If one is seeking peace for selfish reasons they will not care about others. So long as they can live peaceably in their own surroundings and enjoy the comforts that life has to offer, it will not matter to them if other cultures, nations or communities are in a state of war. When we desire peace because of our love of our creator and desire that all His creation live in peace, we will not stop spreading the seeds of peace until the whole world is at peace. We cannot tolerate war or injustice happening in a remote area on the other side of the earth.

Where does it all start? Right in our own hearts. Until we are at peace with ourselves, we cannot hope to be a peace with others. Peace begins when our thoughts are peaceful. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says, “I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)

Our First Event

Total of 24 participants attended our first event at Queens Park

For your convenience, here is the Talk that was read.

29 June 1912, Talk at Unity Feast, Outdoors, West Englewood, New Jersey
Notes by Esther Foster

This is a delightful gathering; you have come here with sincere intentions, and the purpose of all present is the attainment of the virtues of God. The motive is attraction to the divine Kingdom. Since the desire of all is unity and agreement, it is certain that this meeting will be productive of great results. It will be the cause of attracting a new bounty, for we are turning to the Kingdom of Abha, seeking the infinite bestowals of the Lord. This is a new Day, and this hour is a new Hour in which we have come together. Surely the Sun of Reality with its full effulgence will illumine us, and the darkness of disagreements will disappear. The utmost love and unity will result; the favors of God will encompass us; the pathway of the Kingdom will be made easy. Like candles these souls will become ignited and made radiant through the lights of supreme guidance. Such gatherings as this have no equal or likeness in the world of mankind, where people are drawn together by physical motives or in furtherance of material interests, for this meeting is a prototype of that inner and complete spiritual association in the eternal world of being.

True Bahá'í meetings are the mirrors of the Kingdom wherein images of the Supreme Concourse are reflected. In them the lights of the most great guidance are visible. They voice the summons of the heavenly Kingdom and echo the call of the angelic hosts to every listening ear. The efficacy of such meetings as these is permanent throughout the ages. This assembly has a name and significance which will last forever. Hundreds of thousands of meetings shall be held to commemorate this occasion, and the very words I speak to you today shall be repeated in them for ages to come. Therefore, be ye rejoiced, for ye are sheltered beneath the providence of God. Be happy and joyous because the bestowals of God are intended for you and the life of the Holy Spirit is breathing upon you.

Rejoice, for the heavenly table is prepared for you.

Rejoice, for the angels of heaven are your assistants and helpers.

Rejoice, for the glance of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh, is directed upon you.

Rejoice, for Bahá'u'lláh is your Protector.

Rejoice, for the everlasting glory is destined for you.

Rejoice, for the eternal life is awaiting you.

How many blessed souls have longed for this radiant century, their utmost hopes and desires centered upon the happiness and joy of one such day as this. Many the nights they passed sleepless and lamenting until the very morn in longing anticipation of this age, yearning to realize even an hour of this time. God has favored you in this century and has specialized you for the realization of its blessings. Therefore, you must praise and thank God with heart and soul in appreciation of this great opportunity and the attainment of this infinite bestowal -- that such doors have been opened before your faces, that such abundance is pouring down from the cloud of mercy and that these refreshing breezes from the paradise of Abha are resuscitating you. You must become of one heart, one spirit and one susceptibility. May you become as the waves of one sea, stars of the same heaven, fruits adorning the same tree, roses of one garden in order that through you the oneness of humanity may establish its temple in the world of mankind, for you are the ones who are called to uplift the cause of unity among the nations of the earth.

First, you must become united and agreed among yourselves. You must be exceedingly kind and loving toward each other, willing to forfeit life in the pathway of another's happiness. You must be ready to sacrifice your possessions in another's behalf. The rich among you must show compassion toward the poor, and the well-to-do must look after those in distress. In Persia the friends offer their lives for each other, striving to assist and advance the interests and welfare of all the rest. They live in a perfect state of unity and agreement. Like the Persian friends you must be perfectly agreed and united to the extent and limit of sacrificing life. Your utmost desire must be to confer happiness upon each other. Each one must be the servant of the others, thoughtful of their comfort and welfare. In the path of God one must forget himself entirely. He must not consider his own pleasure but seek the pleasure of others. He must not desire glory nor gifts of bounty for himself but seek these gifts and blessings for his brothers and sisters. It is my hope that you may become like this, that you may attain to the supreme bestowal and be imbued with such spiritual qualities as to forget yourselves entirely and with heart and soul offer yourselves as sacrifices for the Blessed Perfection. You should have neither will nor desire of your own but seek everything for the beloved of God and live together in complete love and fellowship. May the favors of Bahá'u'lláh surround you from all directions. This is the greatest bestowal and supreme bounty. These are the infinite favors of God.

(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 213 - 215)

Queens Park

Queens Park

Another great success!

18 people showed up for the Unity Feast at Gibbons Park. There was some confusion about food as some were expecting it to be a full meal, but as a result lots of food was brought so no one went hungry.

The program arranged by Celine was beautiful. She used thankfulness as a theme. After prayers, everyone was asked to introduce themselves and say at least one thing they were thankful for. Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk about thankfulness from July 15, 1912 was read. Celine led a sing-along accompanying our voices with her ukulele. Many old friends who hadn’t seen each other for some time were reacquainted and many new friendships were made. The purpose of the Sowing peace initiative was explained to some new friends and principles of the Baha’i Faith were expounded.

The Sowing Peace Initiative was started by one person, but it cannot be carried out without the help of many others, so, in the spirit of thankfulness, my deepest heartfelt thanks go out to all those who participated and all those who will participate in the future. Ideally the Sowing Peace initiative will bloom out until the seed of peace has been planted in every human heart. The human heart has been referred to as God’s possession, the dwelling place of God and the place where man can look to find God. When the mirror of the heart of man is turned toward God, the essence of God is reflected in it and since the essence of God is Love, Love is reflected out to all of God’s Creation. No thought of hatred can ever be entertained.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains it this way:

“Bahá'u'lláh has clearly said in His Tablets that if you have an enemy, consider him not as an enemy. Do not simply be long-suffering; nay, rather, love him. Your treatment of him should be that which is becoming to lovers. Do not even say that he is your enemy. Do not see any enemies. Though he be your murderer, see no enemy. Look upon him with the eye of friendship. Be mindful that you do not consider him as an enemy and simply tolerate him, for that is but stratagem and hypocrisy. To consider a man your enemy and love him is hypocrisy. This is not becoming of any soul. You must behold him as a friend. You must treat him well. This is right.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 267)

Some of the 18 people who attended the Unity Feast at Gibbons Park, London, Ontario
Note: At each event there are some who do not want their pictures on the internet and we totally respect their wishes and do not put any pictures on line that contain their images.

Our third Event was Another great success!

Sowing Peace Initiative held another successful event. Three of us gathered at Thames Park last evening with one third of the group being junior youth. I was surprised at how many people where at Thames Park on a Friday evening and many were looking at the Sowing Peace banner so some may be checking out the Web Site.

There was a bit of embarrassment at the beginning as some people came by and asked if I was done with the picnic tables and if I needed both. I told them I was expecting more people to arrive so they moved on, although I invited them to join us. 6:30 was approaching and no one else was there, so I looked for the people to explain that I didn’t actually have people confirmed as coming. I also explained about the first two meetings that had greater than expected turnout, so that is why I was reserving the two tables. Rather than be upset that I had hogged the tables, they showed concern about the numbers and I got a chance to tell them about the Sowing Peace Initiative and left them with cards so they could go to the Web Site.

About 15 minutes later a gentleman and his daughter showed up. They had been there earlier and had placed the tables together, but had gone for a swim. We had a very good discussion on some passages from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh on education of Children which we studied using the Ruhi method.

When we look at numbers we see we had 24 at the first event, 18 at the second and 3 at the third, so by old world standards this may be seen as a failure, and if it was only numbers we were going for it would be. However; I call it a great success because everyone God wanted to be there was there and opportunities were created that could reach more in the future. It may be that we need to examine reasons why there may be a lack of interest and attempt to do things that would make it more interesting, but this is individual initiative and there is only so much an individual can do. Also, being individual initiative, if I was the only one that attended, it would still be a great success.

About the Sowing Peace Initiative:

The Sowing Peace Initiative was started by one person because I believe most people can relate to a desire for peace. Indeed most people want peace but many of those want it on their own terms, and those terms are as varied as the people. On one extreme you have those who want peace and are willing to kill anyone who opposes them in order to achieve it. If peace was achievable in this way it would be short lived. Once every enemy was eliminated those remaining would begin to differ in opinion and again factions would form that would be at war with each other.

The opposite extreme would be those who are willing to compromise everything in order to have peace. Although these ones may restrain themselves from violence, they will live with bitterness in their hearts over all that they had to give up in order to have peace. Eventually some will say, “enough,” and strike out at their enemies.

If we have an illness we will go to a doctor that has training in the treatment of our illness. The world is sick and the symptoms are hatred, intolerance, violence and war. The Unfailing Remedy was brought by the Divine Physician who was sent by God. We need to take the prescription He brought and follow it.

If man establishes peace to his own standards, that peace will fail because it will be peace for selfish reasons. Selfishness is part of the disease that afflicts mankind. The Divine Physician urges us to turn our hearts to God and not be too concerned about what happens on this earthly plain.

We need to love our enemies, but not just in words and action, but from the heart. We must not even think of them as enemies. We bless those who persecute us. If we see the one who seeks to kill us as one who wishes us a speedy passage to the Heavenly Plain, perhaps we can love that person.

Those who hate us are expecting hate back. When we return love, they don’t know what to do. We completely spoil their plans. We need to show them sympathy and aid them to deal with this unexpected result. Some may have never experienced love before and it may be very strange to them. Help them to enjoy love and teach them to return love. You may have to explain the meaning of love as some see it as meaning lust. When someone actually cares about them and sees them as individual humans who are deserving of love, respect and happiness, this will be difficult for them to accept. Others, using a pretense of love, have tried to take some advantage of them.

In 1912 at a talk He gave at Green Acre, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, had this to say:

Bahá'u'lláh has clearly said in His Tablets that if you have an enemy, consider him not as an enemy. Do not simply be long-suffering; nay, rather, love him. Your treatment of him should be that which is becoming to lovers. Do not even say that he is your enemy. Do not see any enemies. Though he be your murderer, see no enemy. Look upon him with the eye of friendship. Be mindful that you do not consider him as an enemy and simply tolerate him, for that is but stratagem and hypocrisy. To consider a man your enemy and love him is hypocrisy. This is not becoming of any soul. You must behold him as a friend. You must treat him well. This is right.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 267)

Past events

Wednesday August 29th 2012, at 6:30 pm

Gibbons Park Pavilion
Topic: Religion - Cause or Cure of the worlds ailments.
This was another successful event with five attending and two more coming late.

after the discussion I had a conversation with some rope walkers who were practicing nearby.

You can click here to vist my blog post and leave a comment if you wish.

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