Sunday, May 18, 2008

Real Iron Men and Women

I watched the new Marvel Comics summer blockbuster Iron Man recently. I was profoundly underwhelmed but there were some fun parts to it. It actually got me thinking about the spiritual quality of steadfastness that I spend a lot of time praying about and Iron Man as a metaphor for being spiritually tough in the face of tests and difficulties. Here's one of the many statements of Baha'u'llah regarding this quality of the soul:

"The time foreordained unto the peoples and kindreds of the earth is now come. The promises of God, as recorded in the holy Scriptures, have all been fulfilled. Out of Zion hath gone forth the Law of God, and Jerusalem, and the hills and land thereof, are filled with the glory of His Revelation. Happy is the man that pondereth in his heart that which hath been revealed in the Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Meditate upon this, O ye beloved of God, and let your ears be attentive unto His Word, so that ye may, by His grace and mercy, drink your fill from the crystal waters of constancy, and become as steadfast and immovable as the mountain in His Cause."
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 12)

'Abdu'l Baha had this to say about steadfastness:
"I say unto you that any one who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time shall be filled with the spirit of God, and that He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be impossible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a Covenant between you and me: that ye have faith; that you faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end... As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the standard -- this is the standard -- this is the standard."
(Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 503)

Steadfastness is one of the qualities that has distinguished the Baha'is of Iran since the inception of the Baha'i Faith. When I consider their remarkable steadfastness in the face of more than a century and a half of unmitigated state-sponsored hatred, I feel embarrassed at how easily I'm pushed off the path by the trivial difficulties that I face in my daily life as a Baha'i in America. I am so easily seduced by the opiate of a comfort loving, ego-centric, and materialistic culture. Thank God that I have living examples of steadfastness that I can look to to inspire me to be spiritually tougher than I am. These are the real iron men and women, spiritual superheroes.

You can read more about the challenges facing the Iranian Baha'i community here.