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This interactive workshop is based on a statement made by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá almost one hundred years ago during His travels in North America. He said:
“By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and holiness. Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these requirements he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the Kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind, and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 63)
In this “Year of Learning,” the idea of delving into and internalizing these “forces” and “requirements” was tested at devotional/deepening sessions at our home. I subsequently posted the content on a blog at http://3-d-project.blogspot.com for members of our Bahá’í community who could not attend our devotionals. These posts attracted thousands of visitors from all around the world. Many expressed gratitude and said that this blog gave them ideas for their own devotionals and deepenings.
Based on the foregoing experience, I developed a workshop based on the same material. The workshop will cover the following topics:
1. Spiritual Birth
Many around the world celebrate physical birthdays, but the scriptures of all religions hold that spiritual birth is the most important event of our lives. Spiritual birth is the awakening of the soul, the realization that at the moment of physical death, one’s personality continues in a spiritual world. From time to time reflection on this life changing event is crucial to one’s spiritual development and kindles the desire to help others discover the divine bounties associated with knowing God.
2. Knowledge of God
According to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, spiritual awakening starts with the knowledge of God. How does one understand a Being so exalted, Who no one has seen with the naked eye, yet Whose knowledge is spread out like the most beautiful tapestry throughout His creation? We do not learn about God the way we learn in school, through textbooks or lectures. There are at least four channels open to any soul, regardless of one’s beliefs, to gain access to God.
3. Love of God
Loving another human being is as common as eating a meal, yet discovering how to love God is not easy. There are obstacles, some which may seem insurmountable. If you do discover the love of God, what is its highest level? We’ll explore this very important question.
4. The Spirit of Faith
Faith, like knowledge and love, is the foundation of human existence. Without it, life is not worth much. When we climb to the highest rung on the ladder of faith—faith in God—a metamorphosis takes place just as when a caterpillar transforms into a beautiful monarch butterfly. But for the soul, hanging on to the cord of steadfastness is not easy. There is a steep penalty to pay in losing faith in God—in not reaching the “blissful abode.”
5. Philanthropic Deeds
A common theme in the messages of Universal House of Justice is for the believers to find their paths of service, ways to engage in building a neighborhood and become the catalyst of change in society. Similar divine guidance echoed through the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá one hundred years ago when He travelled in North America. He said that through philanthropic deeds, one can obtain “merciful gifts and powers.” A quick study shows that the human desire to help our brothers and sisters is alive and healthy. Look beyond the headlines and you will find a mighty river of generosity flowing towards the needy, poor and sick and filling their hearts with hope. It is happening in places close to home and in the far corners of the world. The philanthropic movement is so vast and enduring that it boggles the minds of most pessimists. The wealthy, poor and educated are all part of this phenomenon. Bahá’ís can connect with these like-minded citizens in building a new world order.
When we examine life in nature and a prophet’s journey on this planet Earth we find they have two things in common: neither involves free will, and sacrifice is part of their destiny. Ordinary humans have been given free will to do whatever they want with their lives. However, for them to be admitted to true paradise, they must sacrifice their free choice to a higher order. The second barrier is suffering, which we love to avoid. To sacrifice the self, suffering is necessary and choosing to take that path is the greatest dilemma a soul faces in its awesome spiritual journey. Sacrifice, like water to a plant, is absolutely necessary for the tree of humanity to grow and flourish to the fullest.
Severance from this world is not easy. Many with spiritual beliefs are certain of why we are on this planet and where we go after we die. They believe the body releases the soul associated with it and the spirit takes flight into its natural existence. What happens to this being thereafter depends on what it does here according to many Holy Scriptures, such as the Bible, Qur’án, Bhagavad Gita and Bahá’í Writings. There are many hurdles to overcome in this world, all of which will benefit us in the next one. Identifying those hurdles and overcoming them is the key to spiritual success.
In every religion, sanctity or purity is the goal of the believer. The meaning and purpose of sanctity are some of religion’s most commonly misunderstood concepts. The ideas are simple, yet achieving holiness through sanctity is the believer’s most challenging task.
Audience and Duration
This workshop is suitable for Bahá’í Centers and schools as well as in other venues. The workshops are designed to encourage full participation of every attendee. Learning about the purpose behind the soul’s creation is the ultimate goal of these seminars. In the ladder of progression, it is also my hope that it will help souls move from conversion to confirmation and consecration. When the spirit is set on fire, we realize the sacredness of serving our God; it becomes a personal duty.
The duration of this workshop can vary from a 3-hour session to a weekend event and a 5-day Bahá’i School program. Depending on the situation, it can be tailored in length and content to ensure an enlightening experience for attendees.
“The National Spiritual Assembly would like to express its deep gratitude for the very inspiring and uplifting workshop you so ably conducted.”
“…very interesting workshop facilitated by Mit Gopaul…” – Jeff
“Thank you for your thought-provoking adult sessions” – Ken & Sharon
“Many thanks for the informative and inspiring presentations!” – The Baha’i Rainbow Camp Committee
“I would like to thank you again for all your efforts yesterday. It has left me with much to rethink. You have such an engaging and respectful way of presenting. For me the key is if the presenter touches my heart – then I know I am receptive.” – Penny
“I highly recommend Mit’s 7 ways workshop for anyone interested in getting their battery recharged for their spiritual journey! …He presents his material in a warm informal and engaging manner, sharing stories and providing time for participants to discuss and reflect.” – Sonya
About the Presenter
I have been a Bahá’i for over forty years and served in various capacities as pioneer, travel teacher and member of Bahá’í Institutions, including working at Bahá’í World Centre. Currently I am a writer after a 35-year career in information technology. As an author of seven books for programmers, I have delivered many seminars in North America and Israel. Also, I have written two books on spirituality and one work of fiction. I regularly give writer’s workshops. Besides writing, engaging with others in learning about spiritual realities is my other passion.
Click HERE to learn more about V. M. Gopaul