Chapter One - A New Meaning To Life!
In The Beginning ...
Mark's life was rather uneventful but, in one sense, rather thought provoking. Like many young people of his day, Mark's early years was one of searching in the wrong places for the wrong things with the wrong people. On a minor scale it continually led to dead end streets until he finally reached the last house on the road. Mark soon realized that he had to turn his life around or he would be running into a lifetime of difficulties. 40, that magical age, the half way point to where? It was than that Mark began to wonder about his life and what he achieved. In looking back over all of these, what seemed, so many years, Mark felt old ... maybe not as old as dirt, but pretty close to it ... after all Mark could be considered as one of the original baby -booners! But to Mark ... it all seems like yesterday ... He always seemed to be saying: "Where does the time go? Mark wondered why young people never ask these same questions?
Mark was born in Nova Scotia, in a small but rustic and quaint little community in eastern Canada - a small coal mining town surrounded by beautiful farmland. It was on that farm that Mark spent many of his summers with my grandparents before they passed on. Although Mark doesn't get back there much anymore it's one of the fond memories he has of his growing up years.
Mark realized he was all grown up, at least in his own mind, when he reached ten years of age ... I guess being grown up was a result of the realization that life had its difficulties and they were beginning to show their ugly head. For Mark and his family, divorce and separation was not left to families living in large urban centers. Early memories were ones of being brought up in a single parent family with five other siblings and a mother who cared and loved her children deeply. It wasn't until much later that Mark realized one parent families were not the norm. However, as you can imagine, in Mark's family there was never an overabundance of the benefits enjoyed by other families. But still they managed to get by. Mealtime was always a special treat. It was a time when they all sat around the table in the old fashion way. Mark's family enjoyed each other's company, not exactly like the Waltons but they all got along very well.
When all's said and done, Mark realized he was very lucky to have the family he had. With three sisters and two brothers, he was never left without someone to talk over problems. But as time went by, Mark sensed something missing. His chosen path through life was suddenly becoming difficult. Maybe it was his approached to life's little problems that was the cause of his difficulties. Mark always tried to take the path of least resistance, a mistake he was later to regret, Slowly he became one of those lost soul on the road to destruction. But he just couldn't understand what life was suppose to be all about ... something was missing!
In his search for meaning I guess he had looked under every rock, in every nook and crany, trying to understand what he was supposed to do with his life, how he was to find meaning for his existance. No matter what he did, Mark never seemed to get much satisfaction out of anything he pursued. In his search for meaning, Mark began to look to alcohol in a vain hope that he would, finally, get some insight. At first alcohol helped Mark relax, but evenually he found his life becoming even more meaningless and dissatisfying. He looked to the occult, wondering if there were answers to simple questions like, why am I here? Questions that were, in essence, so simple but yet so elusive. Still - nothing!
By the time Mark was 30 years of age and into his third career, he knew only one thing for sure ... he was not happy. In fact, he was very dissatisfied with a life that seemed to have no direction! Although he actively searched for this happy, contented life, he found nothing really satisfying! Mark finally came to the realization that what he wanted out of life could not be found in the paths he was pursuing up to this point. He reasoned that only through spiritual rather than material goals could he hope to reach some degree of contentment. So Mark's search for spirituality began ...
Mark knew that spiritual values could be discovered in most areas of life. But he reasoned that the meaning to and the method for discovering spirituality must be sought after at its source - through Religion. Realizing this simple fact gave him many, definite misgivings about where it might lead. To say the least, it made Mark a little nervous. As he began to explore the topic of spirituality he began to look at many of the questions he had wondered about for such a long time. Why are there so many different sets of belief systems of which we called religion.
They all appear to teach the same BASIC TRUTHS - give or take a twist or two. They all seem to point to one supreme being that was in control. Even in some cultish type of belief systems there is a ring of Truth or people would not belong to cults. So! Why are there so many religions and religious systems in the world? Mark decided to return to the Faith of his youth for answers to these perplexing questions. Mark figured that now he, at least knew what he was searching for. However, his search still was not getting answers that seemed reasonable and intelligent to him. In his search for meaning and for Truth, Mark eventually came to the conclusion that we live on "One Planet" and all of humanity were created by one and the same God. Therefore, it made sense that all of us will eventually end up in the same place if we practice justice, tolerance and love for our fellow human beings. At least that is what Mark wanted to hear!
However, that just wasn't what seemed to be taught by the different religions! Most religions seemed to be saying: "It's my way or else you are doomed!" "While the other religions sound good, salvation is attained only through my method." "I am the way!" No! I am the way!" Mark found it very difficult to understand such arrogance. How a group of people could totally condemn a whole society because they did not have the "Light". He unconsciencely decided that when he found a religion that talked about equality, about oneness of our world, about oneness of God, than, maybe he'd listen, and maybe he'd look to see what Truth it held.
It was about this time that, two of his friends had become Baha'is. Prior to this, Mark had shared his concerns about the apparent meaninglessness of life and how he had decided to search for the truth of existence, or at least his existence. Knowing his dilemma, Mark's friends began to explain the teaching of the Baha'i Faith, what Baha'u'llah said and who this Baha'u'llah claimed to be. Through these conversations Mark became interested, no captivated, with this new found religion, this new and fresh hope for humanity and for him. The more he heard and grasped the meanings of the teachings of the Baha'i Faith, the more I felt that this was the path he had been looking for all my life. The Baha'i Faith claimed so many interesting and thought provoking ideas - many concepts so close to what he had learned years before, in the rooms of AA. Truths that he had also heard of in the faith of his youth. But it was all fresh and new with something exciting added.
Through this new found religion, everything he had learned up to this time seemed to be developed to a much greater extent, and with greater understanding. The main concept that caught Mark's attention was that the Baha Faith claimed to be the next stage in humanity's continual spiritual evolution. All major religions were True religions and Christ was whom He said He was. Maybe this was why Mark felt there was more to what he had experienced in the church of his youth!
Not only did the Baha'is offer interesting ideas but they intellectually prove everything they said - at least to Mark's satisfaction. As he began to meet the Baha'is, they talked about the meaning of life, they explained who we are, why we are here, what we should and must do to be content, who Christ was and what His relationship was and is to Baha'u'llah. Mark discovered that Baha'u'llah made the claim and proved that He is the return of Christ in the station of the Father. Mark discovered that there are many references in the Bible proving the very fact his Baha'i friends were discussing.
To make sure he was not being led astray, Mark looked up all of these references for confirmation. The Baha'is explained why there seems to be so many religions in the world although there was only one creator. It was also explained why so many cults exist and why interest in cult practices are beginning to have such appeal to the masses. While religions and most of humanity seemed to be looking to the new millenium with fear and misgivings, Baha'u'llah explains that this is not the end but the beginning of a new and wonderful springtime in humanity's life on the planet.
Even with all the evidence presented to Mark, still he asked himself, "Why the Baha'i Faith?" When he posed this same question to his Baha'i friends, they told him that the major difference in becoming a Baha'i is the same for Mark as it was for the early Christians during Jesus' time and shortly after Jesus' death. They too had the choice of following Christ, a messenger sent by God, or relying on what they thought they knew and stay with the Jewish Faith. Mark realized that the Baha'i Faith is a continuation and development of God's message of hope for humanity, as was the message of Christ to the Jews. The Baha'i Faith is the next, essential, step for all people to follow, as was Christianity. Without the hope brought by Christ there would be a definite missing spiritual link. Something would be missing and it would be felt by all of mankind. It would be like read a book with some pages missing. or reading chapter seven and skipping over to chapter nine. Not following the Baha'i Faith is like staying on the same chapter of the book (Book of God) and continually re-reading that chapter instead of moving on to the next exciting page.
The Baha'i Faith recognizes that all "World Religions" are true messages from the Divine, the One true God. Nothing is taken away from any of these religions. But there is another chapter and Mark was determined to read the complete Book.
This is only a part of the story of Mark's spiritual journey. Many events are left out - many pearls of wisdom learned from Mark's Baha'i friends are not expressed here. Therfore, this story does not have an end, at least not today. It ends when your life ends. Until that day happens, Mark's life and yours will continue to unfold and hopefully develop as it should.
Now the pitch ... If you are interested in the Baha'i Faith and what it has to offer the world, and you wish to see why millions of people besides Mark are attracted to it, what its basic ideas are, or, if you just want to become more enlightened spiritually, than there are some specific Baha'i links on this site especially for you to browse through, at your leisure ....
Remember that we are all spiritual beings and are in need of spiritual nourishment as much as we need bread and water to live. This is not a religious statement but a spiritual reality and a basic fact of life. We, as human beings, are developing both spiritually and materially - but we need to find a balance. That balance is found in the Baha'i Faith. So come join Mark! Happy journeying!
All My Tears!