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Posts Tagged ‘Baha’i prayer beads’

A couple of days ago, I heard from a new reader of the blog, a woman named Fran who lives in North Carolina and is a member of the Baha’i faith. She came across one of my previous entries on Baha’i prayer beads and sent me a lovely comment, which I posted. In it, she mentioned that though she does not use prayer beads, she does have some favorite Baha’i prayers that she relies on. I wrote to her and asked if she would share some of them that might be suitable for prayer beads of all types. I got a terrific reply:

“I will be happy to share any prayers with you. In my opinion, anyone can pray any of the hundreds of revealed Baha’i prayers whether they call themselves Baha’is or not. ‘Abdu’l Baha (the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, [whose] name means ‘Servant of the Glory’) once said (paraphrasing) that many people may call themselves Baha’is but do not “behave” accordingly while others may not consider themselves Baha’is but in fact, are because of their behavior.

Prayer beads are certainly not a requirement. I have some but seldom use them. It is usually when one desires to say a certain prayer many, many times, like say 95 or 100 in some cases, that they use the prayer beads. If I understand correctly, prayer beads that Baha’is use are not used like a rosary might be used. I was never Catholic so I may not have my facts straight about how people use rosaries.

One of my favorite prayers is for tests and difficulties. It is a prayer revealed by the Bab (which in Persian means “The Gate”). It is short yet very sweet.

“Is there any Remover of difficulties save God, say: Praised be God! He is God! All are His servants and all abide by His bidding.” –The Bab

The more times a prayer is said, the more powerful it is, we are told.

Another prayer I say often is the short healing prayer:

“Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.” Baha’u’llah

There are two prayers revealed for children but many adults use these, too, because they are easy to memorize and can benefit one regardless of age.

“He is God! O God, my God! Bestow upon me a pure heart, like unto a pearl.”
–‘Abdu’l-Baha

O God, guide me, protect me, make of me a shining lamp and a brilliant star. Thou art the Mighty and the Powerful.”
–‘Abdu’l-Baha

I hope this is helpful. ”

I thought it was very helpful! Fran also recommended a couple of Baha’i prayer books. I especially loved what she says about it is one’s behavior that makes one a Baha’i or not – and not whether one adopts the label. I think this could – and should – be said of people of any and all faiths: that we shall know them by their deeds, and not by what they call themselves.

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Happy New Year all! I am sorry for the long time, no blog. I have been down with flu this whole week and am now behind in work, housework and everything else. Ugh.

A couple of days ago, I received a very nice comment from a man named Larry Gray in response to my much earlier post on Baha’i Prayer Beads. Here is a bit of what Larry had to say (to see the full comment, go to the original post and scroll down):

“I make prayer beads that are sold in Baha’i bookstores and I send them in “Vahids” [groups of 19, as Baha’i prayer beads have 19 beads] rather than dozens, just to help establish the tradition.

Baha'i Prayer Beads

Baha'i Prayer Beads

As to all [Baha’is] not using prayer beads – it is often that we haven’t established the habit of praying regularly. Baha’i is a gentle religion and we are not threatened with hellfire for not following our traditions. I am getting better as I grow older – hopefully a bit wiser. My knuckle counting friends tell me it is less distracting than beads. I see their point. I have beads made of seeds and seashells and semiprecious sonte and I love to look at and handle them.

I also do a display of prayer beads and prayer aids (tallit shawls, Native American prayer feathers, etc) from all the major religions. It is a visual feast at programs where I present them. It fascinates me how much in common they have.”

I like the fact that Larry seems to see the world’s religions much the way I do – that we all have much more in common than we have that separates us and that the very common use of prayer beads is an example of this. So I asked Larry, who says he was a Catholic before becoming a Baha’i, what he found was both the same and different about the Catholic rosary and Baha’i prayer beads. Here is a portion of his response:

Prayer beads are a fascinating tool in that they are so similar in the various religions, just as the religions themselves are more similar than different. All religions promote prayer, marriage, spirituality, peace, etc. What differs is the culture in which it lives, so marriage ceremonies, for example, are different around the world, but marriage is the same. Repetitive prayer helps us relax and communicate with the inner, spiritual self. The idea behind prayer beads is minimize the need to count prayers, a left brained function, and move into the more spiritual right brain where one is more likely to be moved and inspired.

Catholic (the major Christian sect until the middle ages) has had many styles of prayer beads called c[h]aplets, but by far the most popular has become the rosary. Lore has it that St. Dominic was given the rosary by the Blessed Virgin in a vision. Rosary comes from the Latin for rose and suggests that one is in a spiritual rose garden when praying the rosary. Other apparitions of Mary, such as at Fatima, also reinforce the importance of the rosary.

Baha’is, whose original culture comes out of the Moslem [Muslim] traditions also started out with 99 beads, but were soon given a set of 95 beads divided into five sets of nineteen beads each. Nineteen is the number of original believers named “Letters of the Living,” similar to Christian apostles. Nineteen of something, including these prayers is called a Vahid, named for the last member of the Letters of the Living. Baha’is recite the chant “Allah’u-Abha (God is Most Glorious) on each bead usually first thing in the morning. Interestingly, some Baha’is don’t need prayer beads. They find them distracting. Instead, they count on their knuckles and the tips of the fingers, adding up to nineteen.

You asked about the differences between Baha’i prayers and the Catholic rosary. The rosary has different prayers, ten of this, one of that, etc. One must think about where one is in the scheme of the beads, but is does give a pleasant musical rhythm to the process. Baha’i prayers are the same chant on all the beads, this being a more calming and less thoughtful and rhythmic experience. Needless to say, neither is better than the other, just different.

I must tell you, I have made and sold prayer beads for years, mostly Baha’i, some rosaries and others. Over the years, I have added a small strand of five beads onto the end of the ninety-five. The reason is that sometimes we chant some prayers in multiples of 100 and can use the extra beads to keep even. It has become popular with some other Baha’i bead makers as well, but darned if it doesn’t look a bit more like a rosary! I also sometimes say a slightly different prayer on each of the nineteenth beads. “You can take the boy out of the Catholic Church but you can’t take the church out of the boy.”

Thanks so much for this, Larry.If any of you live in Maine, you might go and see Larry present a talk on prayer beads this Sunday (MY BIRTHDAY!!!) for the Bahai’s of Eliot, Maine. BRRRRRR!!!!

Anyone else out there have something to say about two different prayer bead traditions that they have personal experience with? How are they the same and different? How has your experience with one informed your experience of the other?


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bahai-pb-components.jpgFirst, let me apologize for the rotten pictures here. If anyone knows how I can get these pictures to appear on the blog in a larger size, please leave a comment in the space below. Okay . . .

Last week, I posted about Baha’i prayer beads – what they are and how they fit into that faith. This week, I set out to make my own set of Baha’i prayer beads.

First, I gathered (see picture above):

19 8 mm round and flat blue glass beads

5 10mm square and flat green glass beads

1 12 mm pink bead

46 pink Japanese seed beads, size 8

18 green Japanese seed beads, size 6

8 blue Japanese seed beads, size 8

2 large silver spacers

2 crimp beads

1 jump ring

1 gold star charm

Softflex fine beading wire

Directions:
1. LEAVING THE SOFTFLEX CONNECTED TO THE SPOOL, pull out about 2 feet of Softflex. String 1 crimp bead, 2 pink seed beads, 3 green seed beads, *1 blue glass bead, 1 pink seed bead, 1 green seed bead, 1 pink seed bead.* Repeat between * and * until all blue glass beads are strung.

2. String 3 pink seed beads, 1 green seed bead, 1 large spacer, 1 12 mm pink bead, 1 large spacer, 1 blue seed bead, three pink seed beads.

3. String 1 green glass bead, 1 pink seed bead, 1 blue seed bead, 1 pink seed bead.”* Repeat between * and * until all green glass beads are strung.

4. Finish with three blue seed beads, 2 pink seed beads and a crimp bead. Catch star charm by bringing Softflex back through crimp bead and the next4 or 5 beads on the strand. Crimp crimp bead and cut excess Softflex.

5. Cut Softflex at other end, leaving a 3-4 inch tail. Add jump ring. Catch jump ring by bringing tail of Softflex back through crimp bead and 4-5 beads on the strand. Crimp crimp bead and cut excess Softflex.

When you are done, it should look something like this:

bahai-pb-mine.jpgOn my set, I used some things I had lying around the house, including the 12 mm pink spacer bead, which came form an old vintage bracelet I bought at a flea market. I could not locate a real nine-pointed Baha’i star as quickly as I would have liked, so I used a five-point star. I will make a trip to Sagrada in the next week or two and get a real Baha’i star there. I also left a place at the other end of the strand for a tassel by adding a jump ring. Look for that to come, too.

Okay – now you all try and send me some pictures!

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