Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Why Cornwall is my Home and Musings of Death – October 21, 2012

Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Why Cornwall is my Home and Musings of Death – October 21, 2012

CFN – The main reason that I decided to make Cornwall my home is because of the Bahá’í Community here. There are no clergy in the Bahá’í Faith; we create community by becoming members and spreading the teachings using simple methods – becoming neighbours and friends and being of service. About 13 years ago a couple named Jane and Neil Macmillan made Cornwall their home and in the last year have been holding a monthly devotional meeting, one I have had the bounty of being a participant. I feel welcomed and accepted and this has made me want to call Cornwall home.

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People have come and gone at this monthly gathering and what is good about it is that it gives a sense of belonging to its participants.

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We come together to share a meal prepared by Jane; we have the opportunity for conversation and to explore ideas, to get to know one another in an intimate way that is safe for all concerned in an atmosphere of goodwill, hospitality and tolerance. Over the course of time we have become friends, and have learned to support and care for one another.  After the meal we partake in a very relaxed program on topics that have come out of the last month’s experiences. Subjects that we have discussed include the meaning of suffering, backbiting, the role of media; there are many and all have been of interest.

Last Saturday we looked at the topic of death.  We read a story recently printed online and also read all ten comments on the column.   I realized that they all kind of gave us a picture of where people are coming from, which is a good thing. The quote on death from the Bahá’í writings was read, which enriched the discussion. I shared that my understanding of a proof that there is another world after this one, an afterlife, is that in the world of dreams we can meet people who have passed on and speak to them. In fact, on a regular basis, I have tea with my Grandmother Margaret who passed away in 1987 shortly after my son Evan was born. I couldn’t go to her funeral and was devastated about losing her. It is very comforting to me to have these “dream teas” and have these exchanges. Is it my imagination? Well, in the dream world we can move yet our body lies in our bed; we can speak but our body is sleeping so how is that possible? We can travel yet we have no feet, are not on a plane or other method of transportation; we can see but our earthly eyes are closed, and we speak to people who have long left this “little blue marble” as Jamie put it so aptly in his editorial. Have you ever had the experience of “déjá vu” where something will happen that you had already experienced in a dream? The connection between this world, the dream world and the possibility of a next world is a mystery well worth introspection.

Shirley lives and works in Cornwall, Ontario and is a member of the Bahá’í Community, contact at spiritmatters9@gmail.com

16 Responses to "Spirit Matters by Shirley Barr – Why Cornwall is my Home and Musings of Death – October 21, 2012"

  1. Ed   October 21, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    I regularly have dreams involving my deceased parents and others who have passed on. Very vivid most times, and almost always seems real, until I wake up. In my totally rational mind, I realize that the electro-chemical activity in my sleeping brain is running wild, and is just making up crazy stuff. In my not so rational mind, I wonder.

  2. stellabystarlight   October 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    Hmmm not sure I would want to communicate with spirits, the thought is eerie to me.

    Shirley, I am not quite familiar with the Baha’i Faith. Is this connected to the Jewish Faith somehow?

  3. Shirley   October 23, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    @Ed- Thanks for sharing that you have had these experiences, we should leave each other to make up our own minds about what dreams are all about. If you find them comforting then that is a positive thing, but others, like Stella might find such dreams peculiar. It’s all in the way we experience our own reality. I think it is good to consider the way others view things so that we get to be well-rounded. I don’t believe in being superstitious. Appreciate the comment.

  4. Shirley   October 23, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    @ Stella- With respect to the connection between the Baha’i faith and the Jewish faith, in a nutshell, it is that all the founders of religion are connected in the sense that they are divine educators, so Moses taught certain laws back over 5000 years ago, and in between have been other great teachers- like Jesus Christ, the prophet Mohammed, and more recently the Bab and Baha’u’llah the twin founders of the Baha’i faith. We see them all as having the same very high standing in terms of having a sacred mission and being sent by the same Creator.
    How does that sound to you?

  5. WILLIAM. R. PARISIEN   October 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Stella & Shirley,

    There is a strong Jewish connection Stella to the Baha’i faith, as the world headquarters is located in Haifa , Israel. On our last visit to Israel, some local friends strongly urged us, to visit the Baha’i Shrine on Mt. Carmel, in downtown Haifa. It is impossible to describe, the beauty of this site. The “BAHA’I GARDENS” descend Mt. Carmel, to their Shrine. Do yourself a favor, google Baha’i Gardens and see what I mean, never have I seen anything like it !

  6. stellabystarlight   October 24, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    Hello William……thank-you for sharing!! I certainly will check it out.

    Shirley…..sounds wonderful. One Creator, One God says it all. Deepak Chopra wrote a book called “Three Faces of Jesus” which actually takes excerpts and beliefs from different faiths but in the end…..it’s all about One Creator. By doing so, it broadens one’s views and allows one to choose what works for them in order to live a more fulfilling life.

  7. Neil Macmillan   October 25, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    Dear Shirley,

    Thank you for the gracious words about the monthly gathering for dinner, devotions and discussion in our home – and thank you, Ed, for sharing about your dreams of your deceased parents and friends in which you conclude the “electrochemical activity in your brain is running wild – and thank you, William, for sharing your experience of the Bahá’í Gardens in Haifa (which I too visited last year with my wife when on pilgrimage) – and thanks to you too, “stellabystarlight” for sharing the name of the book by Deepak Chopra that you found very illuminating.

    However, to return to the subject of the world of dreams, the latest issue of Newsweek happens to have an amazing excerpt from a new book called Proof of Heaven by Harvard neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, in which he describes his experience of “heaven” during a seven-day induced coma when he had no recorded brain activity at all.

    Dr. Alexander describes how when he came out of the coma, he had this vivid recollection of not only where he had been but also the insights of truth and wisdom he had received.

    For my part, although I occasionally dream about my parents, my most “spiritual” dreams are when I fly and glide in the air like a bird.

    So what conclusions might we draw from our different experiences of dreaming. Perhaps one conclusion might be that humans possess mysterious faculties that do not have a clearly explained “material” source or justification.

    One term used in religion for such a faculty is the soul, but that should perhaps be a topic for another day.

    However, specifically on the topic of the dream world, here is a very striking statement by Bahá’u’lláh:
    “As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts… This latter world hath neither beginning nor end.”

    (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 151)

    However, to return to the subject of the world of dreams, the latest issue of Newsweek happens to have an amazing excerpt from a new book called Proof of Heaven by Harvard neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander, in which he describes his experience of “heaven” during a seven-day induced coma when he had no recorded brain activity at all.

    Dr. Alexander describes how when he came out of the coma, he had this vivid recollection of not only where he had been but also the insights of truth and wisdom he had received.

    For my part, although I occasionally dream about my parents, my most “spiritual” dreams are when I fly and glide in the air like a bird.

    So what conclusions might we draw from our different experiences of dreaming. Perhaps one conclusion might be that humans possess mysterious faculties that do not have a clearly explained “material” source or justification.

    One term used in religion for such a faculty is the soul, but that should perhaps be a topic for another day.

    However, specifically on the topic of the dream world, here is a very striking statement by Bahá’u’lláh:
    “As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts… This latter world hath neither beginning nor end.”

    (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 151)

  8. Ed   October 25, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Not to make light of the discussion about dreams and the possible connection to a soul or higher power, I have observed countless animals, mostly dogs, clearly involved in dreams. I’ve even observed it in young calves on occasion. Being a completely non-spiritual atheist, I have to think that dreams are simply uncontrolled brain activity that happens while we sleep. Of course I don’t know that, but it makes sense to me.

  9. stellabystarlight   October 26, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    William….I checked out the Baha’i Gardens site, it is phenomenal!!
    Thank-you for sharing!!

  10. Neil Macmillan   October 26, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Just a couple of comments:
    First, on Stellabystarlight’s initial impression that Baha’i might be connected with the Jewish faith:
    many people have heard of B’nai B’rith (which is a worldwide Jewish community service organization) and that might have been the source of the impression of the possible connection.
    Second, to respond to Ed’s very constructive comment about animals dreaming, it is certainly scientifically true to say that dreams are a from of brain activity during sleep. The case of the doctor was different because he was technically “brain dead” and not dreaming.

  11. Shirley   October 27, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    @Ed-re: Animal dreaming- Animals do dream yet their dream world is very different from the human dream experience. I found a study from MIT that discusses this subject and it shows that animals dream about things that have actually happened to them, they go over the experience of going through a maze, for instance, the study could track their brain activity while they were dreaming. Here is the link: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2001/dreaming.html

    As for human dreaming we experience a complexity that is lacking in the animal dream experience. We have a frontal cortex, for one thing, that is not even present in animals. We share many similarities with animals but we are a totally different species and have way more capacities for higher level thinking.

    I think we should question everything Ed, and thank you for your observations. As a lover of animals I am constantly in awe of how they respond and believe we have a lot to learn from them.

  12. Shirley   October 27, 2012 at 7:46 AM

    re: connection of Baha’i faith to Jewish homeland- just to be clear, when the first Baha’is came to the prison city of Akka it was in Palestine – the arrival took place on the 31st of August 1868, at that time the country was Palestine. It was only after World War II that Palestine was divided into what we now know to be Israel.
    http://www.bahaullah.org/akka/arrival-seagate

    The administration of the Baha’i faith has its headquarters in Haifa, Israel but, as mentioned previously, this was determined when the whole country was Palestine. Thanks for the inquiry, appreciate the interest.

  13. stellabystarlight   October 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    Neil, I am definitely going to get the book “Proof of Heaven” It should be an eye opener and an awakening for sure. Thank-you!!

  14. Ed   October 27, 2012 at 6:14 PM

    Interesting article Shirley, but it just seems to scratch the surface. I agree, we have much to learn from animals. Having raised cattle, horses, sheep and goats for many years, I’m convinced that they have more going on in their brains than we give them credit for. Even though they share the same basic characteristics within their species, each one is an individual.
    Also fascinating is the role dreaming seems to play with people with dementia. My elderly aunt who was in my care spent a good amount of time in “dream land” during her last few years. I wouldn’t say she “suffered” from dementia because I think for the most part, she quite enjoyed her mental adventures and visits with long dead family and friends. In her case, dementia was sweet relief from reality.

  15. stellabystarlight   October 28, 2012 at 3:23 PM

    Sorry about that……the name of Deepak Chopra’s book is “The Third Jesus” which is not based on Chritianity alone…..in case you are wondering.

  16. Debra Bell   March 20, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    I lived in Cornwall from September 1972-march 1973 as a pioneer youth who arrived to quebec too late for the summer teaching plan
    i worked at sovereign seat factory and the convalodge
    i lived on 7th avenue
    i have fond memories!
    glad to find this blog

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