Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Neighbourhood childrens classes in Redmond, Washington

In keeping with the 5 year plan's goal to have neighbourhood children's classes, the community in Redmond holds delightful classes for children in their homes on Sunday mornings. Coroush and Martha, my dear dear Baha'i brother and sister, who moved there from Mountain View, California brought me along to one of these sessions.

The classes started with lots of singing of Baha'i prayers. I was amazed that the children knew so many prayers by heart. Roy and Daniel had an amazing way of captivating the children. It did not seem to matter to them that the age group was so diverse. After this, we did some reading of stories and for this Sunday it was a story about trust. To enable the children to better understand it, they did a great activity of blindfolding each other and then leading the other around. One truly had to learn to trust and the one trusted had also to learn what it meant to be trustworthy. It was indeed great experiential learning. After that there were closing prayers and the children did drawing and coloring activities.
Such a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning, and thanks Roy and Daniel for making me feel so welcome!

World Religion Day, 21st January 2008

I made a short trip to Seattle to surprise my dear friends and the surprise was on me. I was so amazed to see how many activities there was to participate in with the Baha'i community there. In this one, I will write about the World Religion Day celebration, held in the home of Nooshin and John Darvish. It was a very special celebration indeed.

The day before the activity, their children and my daughter got together to help decorate the place for the celebration. We were expecting to have about 50 people turn up, many of whom were neighbours and co-workers of Nooshin and John, and the local Sammimish Baha'i community. The girls spent 3 whole hours, shopping for craft supplies, doing research on the Internet for quotes and symbols of other religions, and made a poster and cut-outs of the religious symbols. This activity itself was so refreshing to see the dedication of the girls.

The event itself went very smoothly. There was lovely prayers from the different religions read and shared, the girls did a presentation of their work and a lovely Christian Persian couple, sang Christian music in Persian whilst they played the guitar and the tar (a Persian classical instrument). After a wonderful spiritual session, there was much feasting of good food and great conversation. People did not seem to be in any hurry to leave and new friendships were formed.

I feel so blessed to have been a part of such a special day.
Check out also for a posting in the local Sammamish newspaper on the event.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Great step for Junior Youth in South Bay

Thanks to good weather and a great turnout, a group of junior youth in South Bay were treated to a great afternoon of step dancing in the park. Step dancing we were told is a form of dance that helps build a rythm of unity.
With all that stumping and storming, it was good we managed to find a place outdoors to do this. Dancing to a unified beat, the junior youth were led in step dancing by a great group of teachers.

It was nice to see both boys and girls really get into it. In fact, my son loved it so much he has been stomping around the house all day today. Hope we get many more great days to come for the youth to dance in unity. I am really grateful to a dedicated group of teachers who will now make it possible for the youth to meet weekly. Really looking forward to this.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Happy Gregarion New Year!...and it now almost already Chinese New Year (Feb), soon BAha'i and Persian New Year (March), later Indian New Year (April), etc etc.

Whatever the New Year is for you, it is a time of reflection and contemplation looking back into the past to look for hope into the future. New Year resolutions, promises to loose weight, great expectations of self. Starting grandiously for many very soon peeter off into being nothing more than post-its of "should haves".

I decided to make this year different for me. I took the time over holidays to reconnect the family with each other, renovate and refurbish the house, had friends visit and stay with us, and did a lot of learning and planning. We decided to take baby steps. Too many changes can sometimes make you feel disempowered and not knowing where to start. So this year, we wish to start small and build upon our successes from this year to next. After all the children may only be with us for another 5 to 7 years before they all take off to college, university, etc. Our health is catching up with us and we want to have fun with them when we can. So it seems more important now than ever that we spend time together and build this important Baha'i institution "the family". We want the children to learn Baha'i princicples and action from us, that they understand their unique role to serve humanity, etc.

I am also doing some soul searching now that I have sold my business. My consulting practice is doing OK but I really want to be involved in something that awakens my higher need to serve and make a difference. I have not found it yet, but think it may have something to do with education for autistic spectrum children (asperger), use my public speaking skills, organisational skills, etc to use. Let's see what this path will take me to.

Meanwhile, we are really working on building community in our neighbourhood and were so delighted that many of the families from the school were able to come to our home to celebrate my huusband's surprise birthday party. It was indeed very touching to see the love and compassion these new extended family we have. We want to do more to invest and cultivate our new friends, and do hope to serve the community in return.

So it is with much reserve yet hope that I look forward to 2008. I pray it will be a good year of service and living with passion for me and most importantly, I will remember to pray and learn to praise God more often and thank his guardian angels for patiently protecting us through our "stupid" moments! :>

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Join our Facebook group to see the photos of the special event held for Frances.

For friends and family of Frances Coley, please note that we have set up a group on Facebook so you can see the photos and videos of the event. Here are the instructions to see it.

Go to and sign up for a new account. You will need to put in some personal info but if you do not want this published, just put there do not publish. Once you get a Facebook account, make sure you look for the group "Sharing memories of the Coley Residence" and join that. If you want to join and have difficulties, just send me an email at and highlight that you want to join the Facebook group.

If you still have difficulties, I have alsol set up a more public site at

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Local Rock Band (The Behjat Brothers) entertain Cupertino Baha'i Junior Youth Group

Today, a wonderful group of middle school youth gathered and had fun being entertained by The Behjat Brothers. It was a lovely afternoon of percussion music, where the children joined in the brothers with Native American drums, and other percussion instruments. It was indeed a very joyful occasion and everyone (adults included) seemed to have a great time.
Here are some pictures which speak for themselves.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Participatory and democratic elections for Baha'is (Unit Convention)

Yesterday, I attended Unit Convention for my Baha'i district to elect the representative to the National Convention (where the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of United States is elected- 9 members).

In Baha'i elections, there is no nomination process or electioneering process. All Baha'is on the roster of each District are eligible to be elected. Votes are collected and based on plurality or majority votes, the person is elected. This system wipes out need for funds, negative electioneering, mud slinging, politicking etc. It brings about a truer basis of democracy. Baha'is are thus encouraged to make it a point to attend Unit Convention to excerice this right and to ensure this type of democracy is enshrined. Non attendance or non-participation (participation can include voting by mailing in your ballots) erodes this system and allows for apathy and personalities to prevail. I was truly inspired by the message shared to us by the Universal House of Justice reminding us to excercise this right and this can change the way we conduct affairs in this world, one step at a time.

I enjoyed meeting old friends and connecting with new ones, and enjoyed being able to share my views to be taken to the Unit Convention by the elected representative (Marsha Gilpatrick). Although she was unable to attend, minutes were taken by a Secretary and will be passed to her as our input to the National Convention.

In between these administrative matters, we had lots of music, prayers, children reading and singing prayers, children's classes, refreshments, etc. It was indeed a lovely celebration and I am glad we made the effort to go. I would have liked a little longer for consultation than just 1/2 hour but perhaps next time round. Bravo to the Los Gatos Spiritual Assembly for pulling off this event on such short notice (about 4 weeks).

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones

Recently, one of my classmates from the Stanford program invited me to Seattle for a consulting contract. It did not take much to convince me to take the job, as I had my dearest "Baha'i brother and sister" -Martha and Coroush (and little Anika)- had just moved to Seattle. I was very happy to be able to see them again, and was even more grateful that the company I was consulting with had the most exciting technology to more than wet my appetite. I know there is much I can contribute to them.
So after working, I headed off to see Martha, Coroush and Anika. They were exploring to get a new place and I was honored to be a part of this process. Meanwhile, Chuck Cooper another dear friend now living in Chicago, happened to notice that my Facebook profile indicated I was in Seattle. He suggested I meet some dear friends of his, which I did and am so glad. I now have some new and wonderful friends in the Seattle area- Roy Steiner and family, John and Nooshin Darvish from Samimmish. John and Nooshin have a Holistique Medical Centre, and I was happy to hear Nooshin does work with autistic children. I am hoping to bring my son over to have her as his doctor.
Timing also enabled to spend Wednesday evening with the Baha'is of Sammimish. It was a wondeful Feast and so many children were present. What I liked best was that all the children present made the effort to say a prayer. That was so sweet indeed. The family that hosted Feast was so generous and had a DELICIOUS Persian dinner!! It was such a treat indeed. I met so many people, and in fact felt that I had met some before but could not place when. Overall, it was delightful meeting new people and connecting them with others.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Forces of globalisation and need for perspective taking

Having grown up in Singapore (majority immigrant Chinese), with a strong British and American influence, as an Indian, truly opened me to instrinsic perspective taking. It was a skill I needed to survive. My parents also consciously taught it to me as a child to see things from the other persons shoes. This really helped me fit in almost anywhere even today. I however realise that whilst this may be true with people who are minorities, it is not usually the case with people who are in the majority race or culture.

Today, I live in Cupertino in California where there is amost 50% Asians (including Indians). Living here has made me aware that not everyone does perspective taking. This I see as the cause of much "conflict" between the cultures. I hear my Caucasian friends talk about how rude Asians can be, that they don't look at you when trying to cut into your lane, don't give signals, cut into a parking slot you have been waiting for, etc. Meanwhile Asian friends complain how Caucasians are so aloof, don't help unless asked, don't make friends easily, don't invite you into their homes, etc. Yet for me, I have both positive and negative experiences irregardless of their cultural backgrounds, and often it is more do with personalities. Although I must add that it is my immigrant friends around here are the ones I can count on more than my American friends who are from this area (just different survival instincts I suppose).

Yet, I do feel that people treat me differently based on their perspective of how I look. I feel more often than not, that before I open my mouth and talk, people treat and respond to me as if I am an illiterate Indian woman who does not know her rights or what she needs. Now sure if I project that image or is it just their stereotype of Indian women, but I get talked down to a lot. Just yesterday a man pulled his car all the way into the gas station right in front of me cutting me off, even after seeing me thus leaving me little or no room to pump gas at the adjoining stall. He just ignored me and chose not to see my predicament for whatever reason. At the Northwest airlines, I used to get the ticket counter people talk to me as if I did not understand English. Over and over again it happens. I cannot help but feel that condescendence ooze out, or am I taking things personally. My husband tells me that I should tell myself that people are just going through their own stuff and not take it personally. But it takes a lot of patience and understanding, and is hard at times, especially when it happens over and over again. It is times like this that perspective taking can come in handy but is hard to do. Hence my reminder that "when you find the light within you, you will liberate others".

Whatever it be, I am so glad to see that my son is now attending a seminar at a class for high functioning autistic children where he is learning perspective taking. It is so useful although hard for autistic children to do so. But he is learning everyday and improves on it. So if he can do it, anyone can. That made me think, and I thought if only everyone learnt about perspective taking, social thinking, social etiquette, etc. we can avoid a lot of this unnecessary conflict we find living together. That we can better enjoy each other as human beings and not what we stereotype each other to be based on how we look, what we wear, etc.

So I do hope that we see more of this "Centre for Social Thinking" type education for our children in schools, where we do not assume they will get it even if not taught. Teaching ourselves and starting at home will be a good way to start. Having an international circle of friends whom you can have frank discussions and learn from them what you are doing wrong or right, will also help. I believe as long as we are open to learn how to reach out, not to offend, feel what others may be feeling, and truly want to be connected as one, we will then reached a state of unity.

Baha'u'llah states that “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. ”Let's not forget this and let's not take unity as a given, rather let's work on establishing unity and hence peace for all.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oneness of Humanity is a complex and organic concept=not simplistic as it may sound

Oneness is a central theme of the Baha’i Faith which calls for the unity of mankind, for the recognition of the unity of the Godhead and the Manifestations, for unity of the sexes, and for unity of action after a decision has been made.

Abdul Baha has written
•“Unity is necessary to existence. Love is the very cause of life, on the other hand, separation brings death. In the world of material creation…all things owe their actual life to unity. The elements which compose wood, mineral, or stone are held together by the law of attraction..So is it with the great body of humanity.”

Baha’u’llah compared the world to the human body. Human society is composed not of a mass of merely different cells but of association of individuals, each of whom is endowed with intelligence and will…no cell lives apart from the body, whether in contributing to its functioning or in deriving its share from the well-being of the whole.”

The deeper implications of this Oneness of Mankind concept promulgated by Baha’u’llah more than a century ago, implies an organic change in the structure of present day society, a change such as the world has not yet experienced. It represents the consummation of human evolution- the next step is the high synergistic society where there will be a linking together of the consciousness of mankind..” This linkage is the linking of consciousness- a linking of soul-to-soul. More than just tolerance and coexistence.To go beyond a skin encapsulated ego. Beneath the skin, we are all one in spirit.

Baha’u’llah extols that
“The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God’s Holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship, …Wherever you find the attributes of God, love that person, whether he be your family or of another.”

Often though, culture seems to be a knowledge, some of it conscious and "pickled" into coded or traditional forms, such as myths and rules, some of it quite unconscious and automatic, such as the rules and structures that allow language speakers to understand each other. This knowledge is learned both formally and unconsciously within human groups and is heavily dependent upon language as a medium for transmission. Culture is shared between generations and within generations, but this sharing is neither completely homogeneous, nor without error. Humans, as individuals and as members of groups, use cultural assumptions to make sense of the world around them as they live out their lives. They also use culture to create strategies with respect to their group and individual interactions.

“This diversity, this difference is like the naturally created dissimilarity and variety of the limbs and organs of the human body, for each one contributeth to the beauty, efficiency and perfection of the whole. When these different limbs and organs come under the influence of man’s sovereign soul, and the soul’s power pervadeth the limbs and memebrs, veins and arteries of the bidy, then difference reinforceth harmony, diversity strengthened love, and multiplicity is the greatest factor for coordination.”

Baha’u’llah tells us “Ye are the fruits of one tree, the leaves of one branch.”
Abdul Baha reminds us:
“Consider the flowers of a garden: though differing in kind, colour, form and shape, yet inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm, and addeth unto their beauty. Thus when that unifying force, the penetrating influence of the Word of God, taketh effect, the difference of customs, manners, habits, ideas, opinions and dispositions embellisheth the world of humanity..”

As we discover this new sense of oneness, this will bring forth a new universal culture in a truly united world- a spiritual rather than material society. Such a society Baha’u’llah tells us will:
“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of trust of thy neighbour, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an asnwerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair on thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show meekness to all men. …Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home to the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive…..”

Monday, September 10, 2007

Science and Religion

Long before I declared myself as a Baha'i, I read the book "Seven Mysteries of Life" by Guy Murchie. My guru (Guru Nityachaitanyati from the Sree Narayana Mission), had introduced me to that book. Interestingly, it was that book that I first learnt about the Baha'i Faith (Guru Nitya was happy when I told him that I accepted the Baha'i Faith as my path of spirituality. He has passed on and remains my dearest teacher in my heart.)

There was a quote from Baha'u'llah talking about the harmony between science and religion. Guru Nitya and I used to have hours of conversation about this topic, hence his recommendation to me of the book.

Years later, understanding it further as a follower of the Baha'i Faith, I just completed watching the video called "What the Bleep- down the Rabbit Hole". I strongly recommend this video documentary for anyone searching for this harmony between science and religion. It talks about quantum physics and a more transcendal knowledge of God. How the one explains the other and vice versa. That the old ways of physics, e.g. Newton's laws, only explains part of life. There is a whole other regime of Quantum physics that now makes more sense and is the physics of the 21st century. It now becomes easier for us to see the harmony between science and religion although there is still so much we cannot always explain.

It also discusses about the current duality i.e. we see ourselves as separate from God and from each other. Guru Nitya always used to tell me about this duality that we need to overcome, and I see this myticism in the Baha'i writings as well. How the oneness of humanity and unity, is not a physical oneness only, but a spiritual connectedness. What quantum physics calls "entanglement". Baha'u'llah talks about this organic and spiritual connectedness of humanity. How each one of us is connected to the other much in the same way the organs in our body are connected and function together.

It also helps me understand how Baha'u'llah reminds us that we have the two parts to our being, the material and the spiritual. We need to "feed" both. They are much like the two wings of a bird. Unless both are equally developed, the bird cannot fly. With science and our industrial age disconnecting the spirit and the material, we have learnt to indulge more in one or the other, rather than finding a balance. As we find a higher understanding of "God" and "ourselves", we will achieve this connectedness and achieve this balance. Hence the practice of meditation and prayer to "excercise" our spirit.

Don't want to take the thunder out of this amazing DVD, so go watch it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Social entrepreneurship and Values-based business

I am very encouraged with the many statements I see from reputed individuals in business, and their awareness of something more in life than just the pursuit of money.

The recent AeA/Stanford Executive Institute was one such experience. At first during the course, it appeared as if I was the only one interested in such issues. Then when I made a comment on the need to address the "Digital Divide", several participants came up to me to share their interests in this as well. I also had great discussions with some of the professors on the issues of social entrepreneurship.

Then we had some very inspiring keynote speakers. Mr Tim Guertin, CEO of Varian Medical spoke about the key elements of leaders, being someone you can 1) TRUST their judgement, 2) TRUST them with people, 3) TRUST them with resources, 4) TRUST them to get things done and 5) TRUST them to be dependable. Interestingly he also spoke about how important it was to work with people who will root for you. This element "TRUST" is needed for success.

Eric Benhamou, Founder of Benhamou Global Ventures, also stressed the need for integrity. He spoke about how his fund actually refused funding from a suspect source. His fund focuses on social entrepreneurship, communication technologies that impacts humanity, and also has a philantrophic arm e.g. assisting basic literacy skills. He stressed that values discussion should NOT be divorced from strategy discussions. It is the basis of reality and will be used to make decisions in grey zone times. Ultimately he says "listen to your guts not to just analysis".

Nancy Schoendorf, a well seasoned VC and Managing Partner of MDV-Mohr.Davidow Ventures, impressed me also with such discussions during the New Venture Lab discussions. She counselled startups not to just look for the valuation price offered, but also the value of the VC and more importantly the VALUES of the VC. She said that investment is like a marriage, and should be considered wisely.

I was just totally encouraged by all these conversations. In fact even before this, I met Prof Tom Kosnik from Stanford Venture Labs Program who has started the GLEAN network (Global Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Altruist Network. He believes that a values based strategy will help bring a better world and world peace, and so is rallying people of likemind and also academic programs to nurture such thinking. At the recent TIECON'07 as well, the CEO of sales and CEO of eBay, talked about values and social entrepreneurship. One of the TIECON keynoters this year, was also a "teacher" or "sathguru" from India. He stressed us not to forget to have JOY in our lives. I loved that so much it was probably the most memorable TIECON for me.

All encouraging developments and I hope to connect with more such people and do something together. Thought I would share this in case you feel inspired to do the same.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Have you discovered Facebook?

I just recently discovered Facebook when I heard the CEO speak at TIECON'07 in the Bay Area. I was fascinated and signed up. Then I received an invite from Chuck Cooper on Facebook and before long I was fascinated.

I have been having so much fun since I have been able to find so many of my long lost Baha'i friends (from Washington DC, Singapore, etc). Many I did not even know where they were and then I found them on FAcebook. There are so many Baha'i groups on Facebook and through those list I am finding more and more friends and people of common interests. I also found a plug-in application called "Writings of the Baha'i Faith" that automatically generates a new quote from the Faith each time I log in, giving me the ability to do my daily readings online...what a great idea!

So if you have not already discovered the new wonderful world of Facebook, go to and sign up for an account and look me up! Discover this new world many other Baha'is have been using to connect to new friends and reconnect with old ones. I have been so involved in that, that I have not been good about updating this site. My dear sister gave me the wonderful idea of writing about my experiences on Facebook so I jumped at her idea and did so.

Happy Facebooking!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Prayers, Pancakes on Poi'hu beach (PPP)

Every first Sunday of every month, the Baha'is of Kauai have dawn prayers at Poipu beach and have a pancake breakfast after that. What a great idea. We just could not miss it, so we got the children up the early morning and headed for the beach. Normally they did prayers first but this time to accomodate the children, they offered breakfast first. After that we had a lovely treat to so many wonderful prayers including Hawaiian chanting from Liz Hahn. I am encouraging Liz to put her chants online so more of us can hear it. Liz interestingly is a Baha'i we stayed with 15 years ago (as we knew her through BCCA) and we were catching up again now after all these years.

Often, there are other groups also meeting at the beach who are also invited to join in. Sometimes it is the Alcoholics Anonymous groups, or this time a church group holding a service for the homeless. Pancakes are always a good way to get fellowship and service started. I think this a great idea of sharing food and devotions with others, and the consistency of doing it once every month, means getting the word out to join is easy. I do hope to get another chance to join in sometime soon.

Poi'pu beach is not only a lovely beach to snorkel and swim for young and old, it is also home to the almost extinct monk seals and green turtles (both protected by law). It is really a remarkable beach and a must see for anyone to Kauai.

After that lovely start to the day, Ole a Baha'i from Colombia living in Kauai, who was also at the dawn prayers and in whose house Feast was held, was a great host to us. He runs a successful business called ATV Tours ( It is a really cool and fun way to see Kauai as you travel around in a semi-automatic jeep and go through mud roads to either a reservoir or a waterfall for a swim. I will truly recommend it. He also has a paint ball field, where you can have fun getting dirty with paint ball guns.

PS. Ole is looking for people to come work at his place (especially those who already have the right paperwork to work in the US), especially during the peak holiday periods like summer. He would like to invite Baha'i youth(have to be at least 16), who would like to spend time in Kauai to work, where there are lots of opportunities to teach and serve. For instance, Liz Hahn who works at a Trust also needs help to document Baha'i gravesites (for historical reasons) in Kauai. Many great Baha'is in Kauai, take for instance Ole who has many fascinating stories about his role in the growth of the Faith in Colombia.

Do pass the word on that Ole needs help. Kauai truly rocks and I will highly recommend this as your chance to really experience the Garden Island and meet people from around the world. For your free time-Lots of snorkelling sites and scuba too. Hiking trails or just hang loose at the beach or teach the Faith after work. Either way, great way to experience the Aloha spirit and really get involved, not just be another tourist.