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August 10, 2012

Question:  How can the Olympic motto — Faster, Higher, Stronger — apply to faith?

Spirituality in the world’s great religions is lived out in a variety of styles. These styles I view as being complimentary, not in conflict. The style of spirituality suggested to me in applying the Olympic motto to the life of faith would be a “spirituality of striving”. In secular terms, the slogan corresponds to “Try harder”, or to the school room admonition, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

I am not sure how a spirituality of striving coexists exactly with the virtue of detachment , a virtue that also rates very high on the scale of Bahá’í spiritual values. But suffice it to say that believers need to strive and to be detached at the same time, although perhaps not in the same moment. The Bahá’í writings are full of admonitions that reflect a spirituality of striving. We find such exhortations in our sacred writings expressed in words such as “strive”, “advance”, “attain” “be”.

Here are two examples from among many from the writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the son and successor of the Prophet-Founder, Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892): “O ye beloved of the Lord! Strive to become the manifestations of the love of God, the lamps of divine guidance shining amongst the kindreds of the earth with the light of love and concord” (Selections, p. 28). ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked that this message be conveyed to two prisoners in San Quentin: “Convey on my behalf to the two prisoners in San Quentin the utmost kindness, and tell them: ‘That prison in the sight of wise souls is a school of training and development. Ye must strive with heart and soul that ye may become renowned in character and knowledge’ (Selections, p. 116).

In short, Bahá’ís, like all sincere followers of faith, strive daily to improve their individual spiritual lives, and to contribute to community development, both within and without theBahá’í Faith, and to collaborate with any like-minded individuals and groups in the promotion of the unity of humanity and world peace.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen August 10, 2012
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