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Course Introduction


Workshop: Reflection

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 At?

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 structure.

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.

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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 themselves.
(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. (20 minutes)

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 Go

When I come to the end of the road,
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 too long
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."

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 folded?
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 eternal life

Moving On

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....
Moving On

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 .


Guard against 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 hearts.


Take a few minutes to share any insights gained, memories triggered, lessons learned in above exercise.

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.

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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 drawing/painting.

References: Set before.. Baha'u'llah, O SON OF BEING…Bahá'u'lláh Nearness to…’Abdu'l-Bahá, Man is…Bahá'u'lláh Miss Me -But Let Me Go…Robyn Rancam, If we sow…’Abdu'l-Bahá, O SON OF SPIRIT!... Baha'u'llah, O God! Refresh… ’Abdu'l-Bahá, Be generous in… Baha'u'llah, My first counsel…Baha'u'llah, The best beloved……Baha'u'llah, Moving On…Alan Murray, The Lord's Prayer…The New Testament, Be united in counsel. …....... Baha'u'llah, Learning Log. A way to enhance learning from experience, Peter Honey Publications (from [accessed 1 April 2005]).


Workshop: Legacy


These courses are made available as a community resource for anyone to use. We ask only that the source is attributed: Association of Bahá’í Women (Northern Ireland).