Teaching History Through Story

I know my young and old friends enjoy my stories and many of you love to share stories. My young friends at Palomares Health Sciences Academy tell me how much they love my stories of all kinds whether history or plain story. Narratives have a special way of lodging themselves in the mind and the heart and keep interacting with our souls throughout our lives. There is a difference between story and history but history can be shared in the form of narratives and stories.
The Junior youth Spiritual Empowerment students at Palomares Health Sciences Academy enjoy my stories and share their delight. Natalie, one of my long standing interns is teaching them the art of metaphoric parking which adds to the charm of story.
The process of integrated education is a fertile ground for the use of stories. The concepts such as the oneness of all humanity, honesty, and integrity, world peace, service to humanity, mindfulness, happiness, emotional intelligence, resilience, the powers of the mind and soul, harmony and unity of all people, etc. are among many subjects that can be best taught integrating stories in the process.
 
When telling the history of the Cause of God, it is best always to refer to the valid and written documents and statements so the history we make does not become distorted and diminished by successive retelling and lapses of our memories and interpretations. This way, we safeguard the integrity and reliability of facts in the course of history while enjoying the heartfelt magnetic powers of the story.
Pomona College intern applicants Jennifer Lopez and Anthony Bald visit the CGIE sponsored program at Palomares Health Sciences Academy to explore their chance of service to the community and Junior youth Spiritual Empowerment service project.
The account of the life of those who had the bounty of being in the presence of Baha’u’lah is kept and recorded right from the inception of the Faith in 1844. We have the joy and pleasure to witness the experiences of the eyewitnesses and early believers and feel with them the interaction of the divine with His servants. We have the chance to place ourselves in their shoes and draw insight and wisdom for our own lives and the lives of those we touch.
 
I hope this wonderful story written by one of the most loved and respected historians, scholars, and storytellers of the Baha’i Faith, Adib Taherzadeh about one of the apostles of Bha’u’llah rejoyces your heart and removes the veils as it did for him. I appreciate the contribution of the Baha’i Stories to the distribution and preservation of Baha’i history for all now and for posterity forever.
 
Story of Mirza Ali-Muhammad surnamed Varqa’s meeting Baha’u’llah in his dream and later on.
 
Being in the presence of Bahá’u’lláh — Varqá recalled his unique experiences

Mirza ‘Ali-Muhammad surnamed Varqá became one of the Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh. He has related the following two incidents that took place during his first pilgrimage in around 1878-9. The first time he gazed upon the face of His Lord Varqá was surprised, because he thought that he had previously seen Him somewhere, but he could not remember the occasion or the place. He was puzzled by this until one day after several times coming into His presence, Bahá'u'lláh said to him, 'Varqá! Burn away the idols of vain imaginings!' On hearing these words, Varqá immediately recalled a dream he had had when he was a child. He was in a garden playing with some dolls when 'God' arrived, took the dolls from him, and burned them in the fire. When he told this dream to his parents they pointed out to him that no one can see God. However, he had completely forgotten this dream until that day when the words of Bahá'u'lláh exhorting him to burn the idols aroused his memory, and he knew that he had seen Bahá'u'lláh in his dream as a child. The other incident took place during one of the occasions when Varqa was in the presence of Bahá'u'lláh. On that occasion, a thought entered his mind as he gazed in adoration upon the countenance of Bahá'u'lláh. He said to himself, 'I know that Bahá'u'lláh is the supreme Manifestation of God, but I wish He would give me a sign to this effect.' At that same instant, the following verse from the Qur'án flashed into Varqa's mind: “Thou seest the earth barren and lifeless, but when We pour down rain on it, it is stirred to life, it swells, and it puts forth every kind of luxuriant growth in pairs.” (Surah 22, verse 1)At that very moment, Varqá wished in his heart that Bahá'u'lláh might repeat this verse to fulfill the sign he was looking for. After some time, in the course of His utterances, Bahá'u'lláh recited that same verse from the Qur'án. Varqá's wish was fulfilled, but he said to himself, 'Could this have been a mere coincidence?' As soon as this thought occurred to Varqá, Bahá'u'lláh turned and said to him abruptly, 'Was this not sufficient proof for you?' Varqá was dumbfounded. He was shaken but assured in his heart of the truth of these words of Bahá'u'lláh: “O heedless ones! Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence.” (Persian Hidden Words)We know that it is not right for a man to test God. Bahá'u'lláh seldom responded positively to those who demanded miracles from Him. But He often revealed a measure of His glory and power to those who had recognized Him in order to strengthen their Faith. Varqá never doubted the station of Bahá'u'lláh. He became a flame of fire, a tower of strength, a mine of knowledge and virtues. He served the Faith with heroism and wisdom.

The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh vol. 4, by Adib Taherzadeh

The very opportunity of seeing the empowerment of junior youth being addressed brings these words of wisdom from Abdu’l-Baha to my mind shared in one of his Writings in the early 1860s called Secret of Divine Civilization, about the much neglected and misunderstood concept of “rightousness” and integrated education:

Is there any deed in the world that would be nobler than service to the common good? Is there any greater blessing conceivable for a man, than that he should become the cause of the education, the development, the prosperity and honor of his fellow-creatures? No, by the Lord God! The highest righteousness of all is for blessed souls to take hold of the hands of the helpless and deliver them out of their ignorance and abasement and poverty, and with pure motives, and only for the sake of God, to arise and energetically devote themselves to the service of the masses, forgetting their own worldly advantage and working only to serve the general good.

Abdu'l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 103

Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.

She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.

She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.

She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.

Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.

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