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Old 08-01-2017, 09:07 AM   #1
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Reflections on the Short Obligatory Prayer

I have now been praying the short obligatory Prayer for like two months and I would like to share what I feel and think, and know from you what you feel and think. I will do it going sentence by sentence, just out of a personal preference, but please let me know in your own words what you experience, how you do it, etc.


I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.


I bear witness...
The Prayer is as intimate as it can get. It starts with me as individual and ends referring to God. To bear witness implies that the words you are going to say reflect your personal, first-hand thoughts and feelings. It is not because I want to meet the expectations of my parents, friends at the Baha'i community or Bahá'u'llá Himself. I am doing it out of my own will and from my own unique perspective, like a witness in a court.
...O my God...
Again, the first reference to God is intensely personal. Although it wouldn't be wrong to refer to Abraham's God, Jesus's Father, Muhammad's Allah, I am using the term "My God", referring to He who dwells in the tabernacle of my heart.

...that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.
The first thing I bear witness of is the purpose of my own existence. While all minerals plants and animals bear unconscious witness of the Attributes of God, only intelligent beings like men are expected to know and worship God.
And even among all million of my fellow men, each one with his own way to approach and worship God, it is the particular perspective of this specific man, me, who counts for this prayer.
I testify, at this moment,

Now the prayer, already intimate on regards to the entities involved (me and God), emphasize the connection with the present moment. It is only in the "now" of conciousness that I can worship God. I must forget for a moment all my concerns about the future, all my guilt and worries about the past, and focus on this moment.
to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth.
The prayer marks my place in the universe very clearly. Many times I live under the illusion that I can do and achieve and do whatever I want. In this prayer I become aware that I can't. Many other times, I live under the illusion that I cannot achieve anything. This prayer then reminds me that there is One Almighty. Connected to Him, I can do wonderful things.

Same with wealth. Separated from God and trapped in the illusion of self, I do not truly own or control anything: money, properties, information, my own body! Furthermore, sometimes I seemed to be controlled and owned by them. However, connected with God, material possessions accomplish their mission: they help me to develop myself and to serve others, which makes me realize that I am the richest man on Earth.
There is none other God but Thee,
This sentence drags me out, for a moment, from the world of fantasies that I build around me. Fantasies that make me treat as transcendent things that are in reality unstable, perishable, and dependent on other conditions . This includes money, fame, body image, health, work, and even relationships.
the Help in Peril,
I cannot escape from peril. God does not promise to eliminate risks for me: they are essential part of my learning experience here on earth. But I can expect, though, Help from Him to sort them out.
There is indeed no other source of Help but the Sun of Truth. When we address problems under the light of this sun (e.g. when I get realistic) I make use of my rational soul and The Holy Spirit. If the problem happens to have a solution, I will praise Him. If it proves not to have one, I will praise Him anyway, because having known that my problem has no solution will help me to endure it. The only way for me to avoid the Help in Peril is to give in to fantasies... to try to obscure the Sun of Truth with my thumb. It is in those cases where Reality runs over me.

the Self-Subsisting
The prayer starts with myself, recognizing that I subsist only by God, and ends with God, recognizing that She subsists by Herself. God does not need me to exist. Whatever I want to make of my existence ( a talented employee, a fair employer, a loving father, a loyal friend) is by recognizing and connecting myself to the Self-Subsisting

Last edited by camachoe; 08-01-2017 at 01:36 PM.
 
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Old 08-01-2017, 11:10 AM   #2
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Very very beautiful camachoe. thanks a lot. it is so complete I cannot add any really important things to it. There is only one point I always think about when reciting the short obligatory prayer. at this point:

Thou hast created me to "know thee" and to "worship thee"
and when I reach this part, I always pause a little and feel a little ashamed in front of God. I think of all the things I do in my daily life; the things which are very important to me, but some of them I do with zero attention; some of them I do not do to "know God and to worship God" and that is not being faithful to the goal of our creation. What I more learn from this part is that if God has created us to know Him and to worship Him and this is the reason why we are here, then all the actions of our lives, at each moment, can be a means to know and worship Him. I can drink a glass of water and understand something about God and worship Him. I can breath and worship Him, I can see a flower and worship Him. God has created us only for this reason; how good it will be if we do not waste a minute on this path.
 
Old 08-01-2017, 11:58 AM   #3
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Brother Camachoe,

This is beautiful and very touching. It really deserves greater publicity among the friends because it should serve as a snapshot of the Faith from the eyes of a new believer.

Simply wonderful!

Earth
 
Old 08-01-2017, 01:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maryamr View Post

What I more learn from this part is that if God has created us to know Him and to worship Him and this is the reason why we are here, then all the actions of our lives, at each moment, can be a means to know and worship Him. I can drink a glass of water and understand something about God and worship Him. I can breath and worship Him, I can see a flower and worship Him. God has created us only for this reason; how good it will be if we do not waste a minute on this path.
Thank you so much, Maryamr, for sharing the meaning this prayer brings to you! It is beautiful and I feel privileged to know your perspective.

Worship is indeed within the sweat of physical work, as well as within the quiet contemplation.

It reminds me a prophecy of Jesus, about the time when those worshiping God would not strive to do it in a given place (the temple of Jerusalem for Jews, or Mount Gerizim for Samaritans) but in a given state of mind. True believers would worship God "in spirit and truth". (John 4:23)

I think that time did not come with Christian dispensation (as attending mass in church was mandatory) or Islam (attendance to mosque is requiered). It is happening in Bahá'u'lláh dispensation.

While we have Houses of Worship, neither attendance is mandatory nor are they intended to make people do any thing ritual or follow any clergyman. Our houses of worship, in any case, simply facilitate a state of mind. I have not still gone to any of them (the closest for me being in Wilmette and Panama)... hope that will change some day.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-01-2017 at 01:58 PM.
 
Old 08-01-2017, 01:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Earth View Post
Brother Camachoe,

This is beautiful and very touching. It really deserves greater publicity among the friends because it should serve as a snapshot of the Faith from the eyes of a new believer.

Simply wonderful!

Earth
Thank you, Earth.
I also feel connected to you as well in this "brotherhood", and deeply appreciate your insights.
 
Old 08-01-2017, 09:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camachoe View Post
I have now been praying the short obligatory Prayer for like two months and I would like to share what I feel and think, and know from you what you feel and think. I will do it going sentence by sentence, just out of a personal preference, but please let me know in your own words what you experience, how you do it, etc.
What you wrote was beautiful... I am lucky if I even remember to say that prayer, let alone have any feelings towards God such as you do... I guess this is fess up week for me. ;-)

I am what you might call an agnostic Baha’i. I was never raised in any religion and I think that is the main reason I never developed and “feelings” towards God, who to me is just an entity I believe exists, nothing personal at all...
 
Old 08-02-2017, 08:05 AM   #7
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The part I emphasize in my prayer is the second sentence, where I express my humility before God. When I say my poverty and thy wealth i think of the poverty of my spiritual life compared to God, and the wealth that is available to me.

Last edited by Duane; 08-03-2017 at 12:36 PM.
 
Old 08-02-2017, 06:46 PM   #8
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Camochoe:

Thank you for sharing your reflections on the Short Obligatory Prayer. In response, I offer below some thoughts on knowing, loving, and worshiping the divine Reality.

From my limited perspective, the only God we can really “know” is that ancient, divine, and universal Reality known as the Primal Will, the First Mind (Intellect), the divine Command, the Word of God, the Most Great and Holy Spirit – that Reality of the Manifestations of God. We cannot “know” the Reality of the Essence of God. As humans, we have the spiritual responsibility to first strive to truly "know" that Primal Reality, that we might in turn truly "love" that Reality, that we might in turn truly "worship" that Reality. Unless one first comes to “know” something or someone, one cannot truly “love” that something or someone. And in this instance, if one first truly knows and has love for the Primal Reality then one can more adequately “worship” that divine Reality.

-LR
 
Old 08-03-2017, 02:57 AM   #9
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Offered below are some utterances of Baha’u’llah from His “Hidden Words” related to knowing, loving, and worshiping the Primal Reality:

“O Son of Spirit! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.” (#1, Arabic)

“O Son of Man! The temple of being is My throne; cleanse it of all things, that there I may be established and there I may abide.” (#58, Arabic)

“O Son of Spirit! . . . Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.” (#13, Arabic)

“O Son of Love! Thou art but one step away from the glorious heights above and from the celestial tree of love. Take thou one pace and with the next advance into the immortal realm and enter the pavilion of eternity. Give ear then to that which hath been revealed by the Pen of Glory.” (#7, Persian)

“O Son of Utterance! Thou art My stronghold; enter therein that thou mayest abide in safety. My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find Me near unto thee.” (#10, Arabic)

“O My Friend in Word! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home.” (#26, Persian)

“O Son of Man! Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee. . . . “ (#42, Arabic)

“O Son of Being! Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.” (#59, Arabic)

“O Son of Dust! All that is in heaven and earth I have ordained for thee, except the human heart, which I have made the habitation of My beauty and glory; yet thou didst give My home and dwelling to another than Me; and whenever the manifestation of My holiness sought His own abode, a stranger found He there, and, homeless, hastened unto the sanctuary of the Beloved. Notwithstanding I have concealed thy secret and desired not thy shame.” (#27, Persian)

“O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.” (#4 Arabic)

“O Son of Man! If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.” (#7, Arabic)

“O Son of Spirit! My claim on thee is great, it cannot be forgotten. My grace to thee is plenteous, it cannot be veiled. My love has made in thee its home, it cannot be concealed. My light is manifest to thee, it cannot be obscured.” (#20, Arabic)
 
Old 08-03-2017, 04:54 AM   #10
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Thank you so much, Larry, for these insights.

I love Hidden Words with all my heart: to be honest, is the piece of Scriptures I have enjoyed the most out of everything I've read from His Blessed Beauty.

Indeed God is not just something "out there", but also "in here", and this is what I feel when praying. I feel I am not talking to someone in front of me. I feel inside His Ocean of Mercy.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-03-2017 at 04:57 AM.
 
Old 08-03-2017, 07:44 AM   #11
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camachoe:

Quote:
I feel inside His Ocean of Mercy.
"O My servants! The one true God is My witness! This most great, this fathomless and surging Ocean is near, astonishingly near, unto you. Behold it is closer to you than your life-vein! Swift as the twinkling of an eye ye can, if ye but wish it, reach and partake of this imperishable favor, this God-given grace, this incorruptible gift, this most potent and unspeakably glorious bounty."
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, CLIII)

Take care.

-LR
 
Old 08-03-2017, 08:26 PM   #12
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Hi Larry,

Thanks so much for your input.

I tend to be very analytical and I also have an agnostic bent. I was not brought up in any religion or to believe in God and I became a Baha’i at age 17. I came into the Faith for the teachings and then for decades I fell away from the Faith although I still believed in Baha’u’llah and knew that God existed. That is about as far as it went. I never had a “personal relationship” with God let alone having any feeling of love.

I have no idea how one can love an entity that is essentially unknowable. Sure, we have the Writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, what they say about God being love, but frankly I question that, given all the suffering in the world. In my mind, I cannot accommodate a loving God that would allow so much suffering, much of it not as a result of anything anyone did wrong. Then there is the suffering of animals which is a whole different matter. At least we can hope there is recompense in the afterlife for humans, but what about animals? What is their recompense?

I am sorry, but I find it difficult to believe something that I cannot accommodate in my logical mind. I often wonder about other believers, if they think this through and come to other conclusions, or if they are just into their feelings and do not think at all. In short, I am confused.

Why am I a Baha’i then? Well, that is pretty simple... I believe in Baha’u’llah and I do not blame Him for what God does because He was just the Messenger.

Sincerely, Trailblazer
 
Old 08-04-2017, 04:25 AM   #13
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Hello Trailblazer.

I am not one who claims to have accomplished knowing, loving, and worshiping the Primal Reality. These steps - first knowing, then loving, then worshiping - is how I personally make sense of the process from my study and limited understanding of the Writings of the Faith. For me, I will feel it as a divine gift received if I can attain even the first step of “knowing” that Reality in this life time. I perceive my attempts at worship, without first knowing, and then loving, as being only shallow and superficial acts.

Take care.

-LR
 
Old 08-04-2017, 05:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Roofener View Post
I am not one who claims to have accomplished knowing, loving, and worshiping the Primal Reality. These steps - first knowing, then loving, then worshiping - is how I personally make sense of the process from my study and limited understanding of the Writings of the Faith. For me, I will feel it as a divine gift received if I can attain even the first step of “knowing” that Reality in this life time. I perceive my attempts at worship, without first knowing, and then loving, as being only shallow and superficial acts.
Thanks for sharing Larry... I am still in the process of trying to know and understand God... I am not sure if the rest will follow, but if not in this lifetime, maybe in the next.

Regards, Trailblazer
 
Old 08-04-2017, 05:41 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Trailblazer View Post
Hi Larry,

Thanks so much for your input.

I tend to be very analytical and I also have an agnostic bent. I was not brought up in any religion or to believe in God and I became a Baha’i at age 17. I came into the Faith for the teachings and then for decades I fell away from the Faith although I still believed in Baha’u’llah and knew that God existed. That is about as far as it went. I never had a “personal relationship” with God let alone having any feeling of love.

I have no idea how one can love an entity that is essentially unknowable. Sure, we have the Writings of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, what they say about God being love, but frankly I question that, given all the suffering in the world. In my mind, I cannot accommodate a loving God that would allow so much suffering, much of it not as a result of anything anyone did wrong. Then there is the suffering of animals which is a whole different matter. At least we can hope there is recompense in the afterlife for humans, but what about animals? What is their recompense?

I am sorry, but I find it difficult to believe something that I cannot accommodate in my logical mind. I often wonder about other believers, if they think this through and come to other conclusions, or if they are just into their feelings and do not think at all. In short, I am confused.

Why am I a Baha’i then? Well, that is pretty simple... I believe in Baha’u’llah and I do not blame Him for what God does because He was just the Messenger.

Sincerely, Trailblazer
Hi, Dear Trailblazer.

I feel in many was so similar to you... let alone my wife, who is very analytical and is no religious (in the traditional sense of the world) precisely because of the same issues you have pointed out: 1) we cannot love the unknowable and 2) we cannot believe in a God of Love who allows the innocent to suffer.

Let me share with you how I personally address this. Different people find different parts of the "elephant" more useful in figuring it out. This is the "trunk" of the elephant I have touched:

1) On loving the unknowable essence:
I love my wife not because I know her essence, but because I love how she manifests to me, and what those manifestations mean to me. Even if I spend decades with my wife, I will never figure her out completely. Her true thoughts, feelings, fears, expectations, desires, and how she experiences the world, will be hidden to me. However, I am convinced I love her, because of the tiny parts of her that I can see and touch.... and for liking so much those tiny parts.

Love is neither fully objective nor fully subjective. It is a mix. There are undeniable features out there, which are truly part of her, and then there is the interpretation I make to myself of what those features are, and how they resonate in me.

By the same token, Loving God is about loving the way we perceive Her Manifestations in nature, Prophets, people around me, intimate insights, all of them put together.

2) On why a God of Love allows the innocent to suffer

The hypothesis that works better for me is this: We are the eyes and ears of God. We are the heart of God. We are Her hands. We are the agents of Her Love and Justice. The problem of the innocent who suffers is for us to solve. This is why we fight disease, poverty, ignorance, injustice and ultimately, death.
So next time I see a cow suffering in a farm, or a hungry child living under a bridge, instead of asking "Why God allows this to happen?" I will ask "What will we do to stop this?"

To me ( and of course I could be totally wrong) this is one of the ultimate "mysteries" of religion: Evil exists for us to fix it.

Last edited by camachoe; 08-04-2017 at 06:04 AM.
 
Old 08-04-2017, 09:24 PM   #16
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Hi, Dear camachoe,

I feel in many was so similar to you... let alone my wife, who is very analytical and is no religious (in the traditional sense of the world) precisely because of the same issues you have pointed out: 1) we cannot love the unknowable and 2) we cannot believe in a God of Love who allows the innocent to suffer.

When it comes to God, my husband thinks a lot like you... He does not question God like I do... He just accepts what is, that God is good and that the afterlife will be good... He often loses patience with me trying to understand how I feel because he just cannot understand.

1) On loving the unknowable essence:
I love my wife not because I know her essence, but because I love how she manifests to me, and what those manifestations mean to me. Even if I spend decades with my wife, I will never figure her out completely. Her true thoughts, feelings, fears, expectations, desires, and how she experiences the world, will be hidden to me. However, I am convinced I love her, because of the tiny parts of her that I can see and touch.... and for liking so much those tiny parts.


If we are comparing humans to God, we cannot “know” the Essence of either one. We can only know the Attributes of God that are manifested in the Manifestations of God, and those same Attributes are manifested in humans, to a lesser degree.

Maybe you are saying that we can only know the Attributes of God, as you know certain things manifested to you by your wife; but you cannot know the Essence of your wife, true thoughts, feelings, fears, expectations, desires, and how she experiences the world, because those are hidden from you, just as the Essence of God is hidden from all of us.

So, you can know your wife is loving because she manifests love, an Attribute; and likewise we can know that God is loving because that Attribute was manifested by Baha’u’llah.

So maybe it should be good enough if we see the Attributes of God “manifested” in Baha’u’llah since there is no other way to see them.

However, all we can see and touch are the Writings of Baha’u’llah, and we have to take His Word for it that God is Love... For example:

“3: O SON OF MAN! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty.”

“4: O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.”

“5: O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.”


The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 4

Note that Baha’u’llah says that God’s love cannot reach us unless we love Him first. We can assume that God still loves us since He created us out of love, but God has this “requirement” that we love Him before He will love us. However, love is not something that can be willed; we either feel love or not.

Love is neither fully objective nor fully subjective. It is a mix. There are undeniable features out there, which are truly part of her, and then there is the interpretation I make to myself of what those features are, and how they resonate in me.
By the same token, Loving God is about loving the way we perceive Her Manifestations in nature, Prophets, people around me, intimate insights, all of them put together.


I love nature, especially animals, but I do not connect it with God... In my mind, I know that if Bahá’u’lláh was right God’s Attributes are reflected I all of nature, but that is a mental thing, not an emotional thing. I have been noticing that lately I am more in touch with nature; trees and other greenery, flowers, and animals, so maybe on some level I am connecting to God... then all I have to see is a dead animal or bird in the road and wonder how God could allow that.

2) On why a God of Love allows the innocent to suffer.
The hypothesis that works better for me is this: We are the eyes and ears of God. We are the heart of God. We are Her hands. We are the agents of Her Love and Justice. The problem of the innocent who suffers is for us to solve. This is why we fight disease, poverty, ignorance, injustice and ultimately, death.


I agree with that in principle but we are not going to prevent all suffering no matter how hard we work at it... so we are left with a God that allows suffering to exist, a God that created a world in which suffering would exist, and we are told it is for “our own good” because we learn from it... Again, I agree in principle but it does not work for all people. Not all people will learn from suffering, some will break down... Then we are told they will have recompense in the afterlife, but there is no proof of that, so it is simply a hope.

So next time I see a cow suffering in a farm, or a hungry child living under a bridge, instead of asking "Why God allows this to happen?" I will ask "What will we do to stop this?"

You are clearly a glass half full kind of guy and I am a glass half empty kind of gal...

I think you are right in part. But another reason evil exists is because God wanted it to exist so we could learn to overcome it, grow and develop, not only as individuals but also collectively, and of course we are assured that in the far future much of the evil in the world will not exist...

“And that universal Manifestation will subdue the world by spiritual power, not by war and combat; He will do it with peace and tranquillity, not by the sword and arms; He will establish this Heavenly Kingdom by true love, and not by the power of war. He will promote these divine teachings by kindness and righteousness, and not by weapons and harshness. He will so educate the nations and people that, notwithstanding their various conditions, their different customs and characters, and their diverse religions and races, they will, as it is said in the Bible, like the wolf and the lamb, the leopard, the kid, the sucking child and the serpent, become comrades, friends and companions. The contentions of races, the differences of religions, and the barriers between nations will be completely removed, and all will attain perfect union and reconciliation under the shadow of the Blessed Tree.” Some Answered Questions, p. 58

This is hard to fathom now because it is so far off in the future... However, even if society changes and is idyllic wherein people all learn to get along with one another in unity and harmony, there will always be individual suffering from life circumstances, disease and death, although those could be greatly reduced by advances in medicine and better living conditions for all people...

The best one can hope for is that in the future people will all be so spiritual that they will relate to the suffering differently than they do now.
 
Old 08-09-2017, 01:15 AM   #17
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[QUOTE=camachoe;77727]I have now been praying the short obligatory Prayer for like two months and I would like to share what I feel and think, and know from you what you feel and think. I will do it going sentence by sentence, just out of a personal preference, but please let me know in your own words what you experience, how you do it, etc.

Camachoe, Allah'u'Abha!!

Now as to the Long Obligatory Prayer... ;-) Oh my!!!

It took me a few awkward years to really overcome some strangeness, or foreignness of the genuflexions, but it really started to grow on me, and after while, it became like the most perfect yoga.

I hope one day you may go on Pilgrimage. All our Baha'i life we face the Qiblih when we pray, but on Pilgrimage... Wow!!! The Qiblih is right there in front of you. No need for a compass... ;-)

Knock, knock, knockin on heaven's door. And He opens it for you.

Ya Baha'ul'Abha
 
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