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    I recently stumbled upon this powerful allegorical story which delves into the very essence of faith. Faith, understood as a constant emotional high and an uninterrupted touchyfeely thrill, has never appealed to me one bit. True faith is much more often about service and sacrifice, but performed in the spirit of joy and radiance. Faith is about having a tranquil and serene heart in the midst of the tumults and tempests of this world. "Thou findest him chill in the fire and dry in the sea, abiding in every land and treading every path. Whosoever toucheth him in this state will perceive the heat of his love. He walketh the heights of detachment and traverseth the vale of renunciation." (Bahá'u'lláh, Javáhiru'l-Asrár, "Gems of Divine Mysteries", verse 38) I hope the following story speaks to others as much as it did to me: *** Once two oriental princes sought the presence of the Lord. While He was busy attending the poor and the cripple, with loving-kindness he agreed to talk to the proud princes and politely sought news of their country. In the course of the interview one of the princes made the following remark: 'How is it that you speak of great spiritual matters to the meek and the unlettered who attain your presence, yet to us you talk only about the news of the town and the market? How could such men without learning and wit be preferable to us?' In answer the Lord said: 'I will tell you who is worthy of listening to My words and attaining My presence. Suppose a man is taken to a vast plain. On his righthand side are placed all the glories of this world, its pleasures and its comfort, together with a sovereignty which would be everlasting and freed from every affliction and grief. On the lefthand side of the plain are preserved for eternity all the calamities, the hardships, the pains and the immense sufferings of the world. Then suppose that the Holy Spirit appears before this man and addresses him in these words: "My friend, these two paths will both take you to your Lord. Should you choose to have all the eternal pleasures that are placed on the right, not an iota would be reduced from your station in the sight of God. And should you choose to be afflicted with the innumerable sufferings that are placed on the left, not one cubit would be added to your station in the estimation of God, the Almighty." Yet, if at that moment the man were moved to choose with the utmost eagerness and enthusiasm the left hand of abasement rather than the right hand of glory, then he would be worthy to attain My presence and hearken to My exalted word.' Then the Lord turned to the two princes and said: "If your aim be to cherish your life, approach not My court. But if sacrifice be your heart's desire, come and let others come with you. For such is the way of faith, if in your heart you seek reunion with Me. Should you refuse to tread this path, why trouble us? Begone!"

    Lilwabbit
    July 21, 2011
    6:51 AM
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    One of the great mysteries of the New Testament is what was Jesus doing during the majority of his life that we know nothing about. Leaving aside the story of his birth, the only information we have about the younger years of Jesus comes from the Gospel of Luke who describes an occasion when a precocious twelve-year-old Jesus speaks in the temple, impressing his elders. The Bible is then silent about the following twenty year period of Jesus’ life until he reappears on the scene around the age of thirty when he is baptized by John and begins his ministry. 



 What happened during these missing years of Jesus’ life? What experiences might have shaped Jesus into the man he became? Why do we find so many parallels between the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism and the teachings of Jesus, who was considered a subversive in his Roman and Jewish community? Why do the contemplative practices of Jesus, which seem to confuse his disciples, seem so similar to Eastern meditative techniques? Could a clue to these missing years come from a controversial discovery over a century ago by a Russian journalist? In my new novel, THE BREATH OF GOD, I example the implications of this journalist’s historical discovery through a fictional story of suspense, mystery, and mysticism. 



If you are interested in learning more about the book Library Journal has called "Visionary Fiction" and RT Reviews has called "A thought provoking masterpiece," please visit my site: www.JeffreySmall.com

    Jeffreysmall
    March 16, 2011
    11:27 AM
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    Hello all! how about we get a conversation going? Any ideas? Welcome to all newcomers.

    In2thlight
    November 1, 2010
    6:17 PM
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    Hi. I'm new to BeliefNet and hope to meet new friends. Blessings all.

    LynneaUrania
    October 25, 2010
    12:22 PM
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    please pray for me and my soulmate

    Gelehoux
    October 10, 2010
    9:56 AM
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    So what do people on here do to feel connected to their spirituality? Do you find that prayer works best for you? Or is meditation what works to get you centered and in touch with your higher power? Do you feel a more powerful spiritual connection in nature or do you find that it works best for you in a church setting? Can you find stillness in chaos, beauty in terrible tragedy, profound meaning in the mundane? Is their anybody else out there that has to feel connected to a higher power everyday?? If so, lets talk... Peace out.

    Cosmicdancer
    July 25, 2010
    12:45 PM
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    "Every step you take should be a prayer. And if every step you take is a prayer, then you will always be walking in a sacred manner. Oglala Lakota Holyman"

    Micheal
    March 9, 2010
    9:57 AM
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    Hi all! I'm new to Beliefnet and this group... looks like a place for some interesting discussions, so I'm looking forward to it!

    Sans_seraph
    February 9, 2010
    4:05 PM
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    Hi. I am new to this group and to Beliefnet. Any suggestions as to new friends I can make will be much appreciated! In the meantime, please feel free to become friends with me. Drop by my first blog and read it and let me know what you think: Are American Christians The Victims Of An Anti-Christian Conspiracy? I am looking forward to being in this new group and hope you will all stop by!

    Estime
    February 7, 2010
    1:43 PM
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    Hi...I'm very new to all this. I was largely drawn here by the beautiful photo of "a spiritual place' and the sense of peace and serenity it exudes.

    Elsewhere
    February 5, 2010
    8:55 PM
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