It is related that one day they came upon Majnun sifting the dust, and his tears flowing down. They said, "What doest thou?" He said, "I seek for Layli." They cried, "Alas for thee! Layli is of pure spirit, and thou seekest her in the dust!" He said, "I seek her everywhere; haply somewhere I shall find her."
(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 6)

Who is Layli and why do we seek her?

What is a Seeking Layli Event?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Back up the hand made road

On Sunday January the 4th 2009 we are heading up to Ralph's Falls for our second visit. Our last visit was autumnal but if Layli is nomadic we should seek her not only everywhere but in the same place in every season.
Ralph's Falls lie between Ringarooma and Pyengana. The final stretch of road was a community project which took more than half a century to complete. A brief description of the project can be found here:
http://www.netasmania.com.au/online/db/20020115-0.html

while excellent photos of the area are available here:
http://www.pleasetakemeto.com/australia/tasmania/northern-tasmania/photos/location/ringarooma-ralphs-falls

and the official description and directions here
http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=1401
If getting directions using Google Maps, Google recognises Ralph's Falls Track not the Fall's themselves.

We will meet as usual at 12 noon in the car park. Bring some food to eat or share and if you like a willingness to offer devotions in your own style (neither the food or the devotions are compulsory).

A few warnings:
Don't trust the distance when deciding when to set off . The final section is steep, winding, and very rough. It is OK for a conventional car but you have to take it slow.
The area is quite high (hence the views) - we're not expecting any particular bad conditions in January but it might be wise to carry some warmer clothing than you would wear in Launceston.
Call early for lifts!

This is a longer trip than our usual adventures but, for many people it is a holiday weekend and there is much to see in the North East particularly if you feel like throwing a tent or a motel key in the back of the car and making a weekend of it. Some of the attractions of the area are given here:
http://www.netasmania.com.au/online/db/20020129-0.html

and of course it is not very far from the Bay of Fires recently nominated by Lonely Planet as the best holiday spot in the world!

Hope to see you there. Here's a couple of photos (phone quality) from out last visit:

Bread on the Waters

"Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." (Ecclesiastes)

We inadvertently put this famous advice to the test at Holwell Gorge but, unfortunately, it didn't work out quite as well as the Sage seemed to expect. We may be being unfair - our bread was not so much 'cast' as accidentally allowed to slide in - also we retrieved it in a few seconds thanks to the eagle eyes of one whose "..eyes[were] ever expectant to witness the wonders of God's mercy and eager to behold the splendours of His beauty". (Baha'u'llah) and another who sped "... over the waters even as they course the land" (Baha'u'llah). Still we can't deny that the bread was quite sodden and useless and its hard to imagine it would have improved by being in the water for many days. Perhaps the advice was not meant to be taken literally. As Baha'u'llah said in another context :
This is the significance of the well-known words: "The wolf and the lamb shall feed together." ......... Besides, of what profit would it be to the world were such a thing to take place?" (Baha'u'llah).
Holwell Gorge is beautiful with a lovely little waterfall above which we had our picnic (fortunately more than one had brought bread) and prayers.
It was a rather well-attended 'Layli' and after our spiritual and material food we were able to split into two search parties. The younger or fitter members set off to complete the walk through the gorge while the older or more arthritic members returned to the cars and drove round to meet them at the other end. Despite the numerous warning messages posted by the path the walk apparently proved relatively easy but no material evidence of Layli came to light.
The particularly pleasant atmosphere gave us hope that she was shedding her influence upon us but sightings remained as elusive as ever.
Baha'u'llah said:
Canst thou discover any one but Me, O Pen, in this Day? What hath become of the creation and the manifestations thereof? What of the names and their kingdom? Whither are gone all created things, whether seen or unseen? What of the hidden secrets of the universe and its revelations? Lo, the entire creation hath passed away! Nothing remaineth except My Face, the Ever-Abiding, the Resplendent, the All-Glorious.
Perhaps Layli too was part of the entire creation which passed away? Certainly she remains unseen.

Baha'u'llah talks about the revelations of God's Beauty being imprinted on all beings.

The portals of Thy grace have throughout eternity been open, and the means of access unto Thy Presence made available, unto all created things, and the revelations of Thy matchless Beauty have at all times been imprinted upon the realities of all beings, visible and invisible. (Baha'u'llah)
Certainly there was much at Holwell that seemed to be bear the imprint of His Beauty.








".....and the Bridge hath been laid, and the Verses have been sent down, and the Sun hath shone forth, and the stars have been blotted out, and the souls have been raised to life, and the breath of the Spirit hath blown...." (Baha'u'llah)

Saturday, 29 November 2008

North and South?

" Were He to pronounce the right to be the left or the south to be the north, He speaketh the truth and there is no doubt of it. (Baha'u'llah)"

On Sunday 7th December at 12 noon we will meet in the car park at Holwell Gorge for another search for Layli. Holwell Gorge is reached from Launceston by following the West Tamar Highway up to Beaconsfield and watching for the signposts. But it gets more complex there are two entrances to the Gorge, the North and the South or as they or sometimes known the East and the West. We are going to the North entrance or to put it another way, the one furthest from Launceston. If you reach the wrong one you will notice there is no Blue Holden Cruze there. You can either:

1. Jump back in your car and head further up the highway to the right one (its not far).

2. Console yourself with the thought "....North and South are both inebriated with the wine of His presence. Blessed is the man that hath inhaled the fragrance of the Most Merciful,..." (Baha'u'llah)

Some photos and description can be found at http://www.touringtasmania.info/holwell_gorge1.htm


Bring something to eat and a willingness to take part in some Devotions.


For further info , a lift, or to offer a lift post a comment here.


Hope to see you at the Gorge.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

...a fleeting day..

.......that I may so fix my gaze upon Thee and be so detached from all else but Thee, that the world and all that hath been created therein may appear before me as a fleeting day which Thou hast not deigned to create. (Baha'u'llah)

I'm afraid the October 'Layli' was one that God did not deign to create.
In Tasmania, October is the cruellest month, breeding grass and more grass, and yet more grass. It is the month of mowing, it is the month of weekends spent pushing the mower around ones acre and seeing the grass already seemingly growing long again where you mowed at the start of the day. It is the month of forgetting to organise a 'Layli'.
Happily someone else organised something similar. The local Australian Plant Society organised a walk and picnic in some Heritage land near Liffey Falls (preceded by a most informative visit to Habitat nursery).

On this journey the traveler abideth in every land and dwelleth in every region. In every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every country he looketh for the Beloved. He joineth every company, and seeketh fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind he may uncover the secret of the Friend, or in some face he may behold the beauty of the Loved One. (Baha'u'llah)

With this advice from Baha'u'llah there was no hesitation in joining the company and seeking the beauty of Layli in the faces of our secular friends. Apologies for the failure to advertise it widely.
The APS being a purely botanical organisation there was, naturally, no organised devotions but prayers were said privately.

The camera was also missing but here are some photos from Liffey area taken on other occasions.

Behold, then, O my God, my loneliness among Thy servants


For in Our solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein
(Baha'u'llah)

Sometimes we just get the organisation totally wrong. It is always a puzzler to set the date for a 'Seeking Layli' event. One normally knows who would like to come but they are usually busy folk and one tries to pick a day which offers a real opportunity for as many as possible to take part. In September I juggled the dates and came up with the completely wrong answer. All the usual attendees were away or busy that day so I went on my own. Even worse, the camera was both away and busy that day so these pictures are low quality mobile telephone shots.

The giant white gums were good companions though. Strangely what felt most peculiar to do alone was picnic. Evercreech is rather well set up as a picnic spot but to sit in solitary splendour, pouring myself coffee and serving myself the meal seemed slightly bizarre.
Conversely, the walking and even more so the devotional, seemed quite appropriate to do alone. Baha'u'llah said that with God you have not just a companion but an army and a people too! My army is My reliance on God; My people, the force of My confidence in Him. My love is My standard, and My companion the remembrance of God, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Unconditioned. (Baha'u'llah)
Evercreech is basically a lovely reserve but not essentially different from many other spots in the forests of Tasmania. What makes it famous is the very small number of very tall white gums. Really probably only four exceptional trees and a handful of other big ones. It was tempting to compare and contrast these magnificent giants with the rugged little (though older) pines we saw on our last "Layli". It seemed at first like a straightforward contrast between luxuriant growth in ideal conditions and the struggle on the cold windswept plateaux. But more observation and thought brought a new viewpoint. In an entirely inexpert opinion, the extraordinary height is the result of an heroic struggle for light. The trees grow at the bottom of a narrow valley. Certainly, there would be nutrients washed down there but to gain sunlight the trees had to reach the canopy which is formed primarily by trees growing much further up the steep slopes. It seems one reaches the heights only through striving to get there. In English translation, one of Baha'u'llah's commonest injunctions to us is to strive:
O YE DWELLERS IN THE HIGHEST PARADISE!...... Strive, then, that ye may attain that station, that ye may unravel the mysteries of love from its wind-flowers and learn the secret of divine and consummate wisdom from its eternal fruits. (Baha'u'llah)

Strive, O people of God, that haply the hearts of the divers kindreds of the earth may, through the waters of your forbearance and loving-kindness, be cleansed and sanctified from animosity and hatred,
(Baha'u'llah)

Strive then, O My brother, to apprehend this matter, that the veils may be lifted from the face of thy heart and that thou mayest be reckoned among them whom God hath graced with such penetrating vision as to behold the most subtle realities of His dominion, to fathom the mysteries of His kingdom, to perceive the signs of His transcendent Essence in this mortal world, and to attain a station wherein one seeth no distinction amongst His creatures and findeth no flaw in the creation of the heavens and the earth. (Baha'u'llah)

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Praying with the White Knights

Whosoever Thou exaltest is raised above the angels, and attaineth the station: 'Verily, We uplifted him to a place on high!
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf)

Well, we don't think Baha'u'llah was really talking about trees with this quotation but the White Knights of Evercreech are trees - reputably the tallest white gums in world.

We are heading there on Sunday the 28th September. Meet in the car park at 12 noon bringing some food for a picnic and a willingness to offer some form of devotion to God. Well come anyway even without those prerequisites.

The reserve is described here http://www.forestrytas.com.au/visiting/visitor-sites/north-east/evercreech-forest-reserve and here (with more photos)

http://www.touringtasmania.info/evercreech.htm

Directions from Launceston are given here http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Evercreech%20reserve&rls=com.microsoft:en-au:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7HPAA&um=1&sa=N&tab=wl

If coming from other directions you are basically getting to Mathinna and then following the signs.

The white gum is desribed here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manna_Gum

Hope to see you there.

A tree beyond which there is no passing?

Baha'u'llah wrote "Every created being however revealeth His signs which are but emanations from Him and not His Own Self. All these signs are reflected and can be seen in the book of existence, and the scrolls that depict the shape and pattern of the universe are indeed a most great book."
(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah)

There seems, however, to be times when that most great book can be a metaphor almost embarrassingly cliched. We heard good things of Pine Lake and set out eager to behold its beauty. But everything was veiled.

There was, as you can see, though a Straight Path to follow. And we know :
The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings)


There was nothing to do but stick to the path and trust in it. Often one has to accept that what seems to be a straight path begins to wind like a serpent.






Occasionally, the veils lift and one catches a tantalising glimpse of one's destination.

If you stick to the path with determination and self-discipline you do eventually reach your destination. But there you are, as far as you can go, at the tree beyond which there is no passing (at least if you observe the regulations for an environmentally sensitive area) and what can you see? Just a few metres in front of the veils. The essence of Pine Lake remains shrouded in mystery. Sometimes reality appears to be an extremely corny metaphor.
Perhaps there is a different answer in Baha'u'llah
It should be borne in mind, however, that when the light of My Name, the All-Pervading, hath shed its radiance upon the universe, each and every created thing hath, according to a fixed decree, been endowed with the capacity to exercise a particular influence, and been made to possess a distinct virtue.
(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings)

What particular influence and which distinct virtue characterises the Pencil Pines and the other members of the high plateaux community?


It was cold, it was wet, and the pines themselves bour witness to the traumas they had lived through in their long lives:
Many were twisted, broken, leaning, stunted. or just downright dead.
Its a tough life for a tree up there.
This pine would many hundreds of years old and has made it through without any very obvious damage but it was one of the rare ones.









We found an hour or less in the cold quite enough and having walked and marveled and prayed we fled down the mountain to picnic in Deloraine. It was salutary to remember that not only were the pencils pines stuck up there but they were each going to put up with it for a thousand years or so.
"He, verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience."
(Baha'u'llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries echoing the Quran)
Well we had no clear views of anything let alone Layli but one couldn't help feeling 'What was the mist veiling if not Layli?' And sometimes one thinks that the veils that prevent us seeing Layli are actually her essence. We'll close with some photos of the plants that share the rugged environment with the pines.

Cushion plants can hande the conditions.







The ground cover obviously has to handle snow and frost. It is no manicured garden but stunningly beautiful in its own way.





And a final different shot of the pencil pines. These are their leaves. As an adaption against the cold their leaves have wrapped around their stems so tightly they appear like maggots rather than foliage.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Barren trees fit for the fire?????

As may be readily observed, each tree yieldeth a certain fruit, and a barren tree is but fit for fire.
(Baha'u'llah)

Well some people might call the Pencil Pine a barren tree. It's fruit is not edible, it never grows very tall, doesn't offer much shade and to conventional eyes may be rather drab.
But it's a tough little character, growing in high mountain boggy areas where it is often the only thing taller than a sedge and thus plays an important role in the local environment. And to some of us it is perfectly beautiful in its natural montane setting surrounded by the browns and greys of the high plateau. Slow growing and long lived, if you plant one now you may have to wait a thousand years to see it fully mature.
It's actually not a pine. Try http://www.conifers.org/cu/at/cupressoides.htm or http://www.anbg.gov.au/anbg/conifers/athrotaxis-cupress.html for a proper description.
or have a look at the photo at http://www.touringtasmania.info/pine_lake.htm

Better yet, why not join us on Sunday 31st August at 12 noon for our next Seeking Layli devotional picnic? We're heading for Pine Lake (as shown in the above photo) to see if any trace of the Beauty can be found amongst the Pencil Pines. Meet at the car-park as usual.

Pine Lake lies just beside the A5 Lakes Highway on the right hand side as you head from Deloraine to Miena. Google show it here
http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=Launceston&daddr=Pine+Lake&sll=6.122918,-148.750798&sspn=140.427919,239.414062&doflg=ptk&ie=UTF8&ll=-41.741923,146.706362&spn=0.009142,0.014613&t=h&z=16

and gives these directions from Launceston
http://maps.google.com.au/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=9384546545989558103,-41.741262,146.706294&saddr=Launceston&daddr=Lake+Hwy+%40-41.741262,+146.706294&sll=-41.742515,146.70471&sspn=0.009142,0.014613&dirflg=h&doflg=ptk&ie=UTF8&z=10
though some people might find it easier to just go through Deloraine on Highways all the way.

The walk at Pine Lake is billed as one of the sixty great short walks of Tasmania. See http://www1.parks.tas.gov.au/recreation/shortwalks/pine_lake.html

It is an environmentally sensitive area and one is asked not to leave the track so we may have to find another spot for our picnic. We will decide on the day.

And please believe this. It will be chilly, probably cold, and possibly very, very cold indeed. If you don't believe me have a look at the frozen lake"
http://www.john-daly.com/pics/pine_lake.jpg

Hope to see you there. Lifts can be arranged if necessary.

The cold of winter ..... the new life of spring.

O My friend, listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes. For the heavenly wisdoms, like the clouds of spring, will not rain down on the earth of men's hearts forever; and though the grace of the All-Bounteous One is never stilled and never ceasing, yet to each time and era a portion is allotted and a bounty set apart, this in a given measure. "And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure." The cloud of the Loved One's mercy raineth only on the garden of the spirit, and bestoweth this bounty only in the season of spring. The other seasons have no share in this greatest grace, and barren lands no portion of this favor.
(Baha'u'llah
(the embedded quotation is from the Qu'ran) )

We billed this trip as seeking Layli in the depths of winter but the abiding memory is of the early signs of spring. In the manicured section of the Reserve the daffodils and other invasive weeds were in bloom and in the more natural parts other signs of spring were evident. Here we see the dead and eaten foliage of previous years being replaced by new growth.




Our picnic site was rather more civilised than is our custom complete with barbecues and toilets. It felt rather strange really.




But a short walk reaffirmed that even in the heart of a city (well a decent sized town at least) God's handiwork is still more wonderful than anything we humans have produced. Though, as Baha'u'llah pointed out even our works are really His works. "Through the mere revelation of the word 'Fashioner,' issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attribute to mankind, such power is released as can generate, through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce." (Baha'u'llah)

The 'rock fissure' which is the advertised feature of Punchbowl is indeed a charming mini-gorge.













And from the top of the Gorge, well, Launceston could hardly be seen .
At every moment he [the traveller] beholdeth a wondrous world, a new creation, and goeth from astonishment to astonishment, and is lost in awe at the works of the Lord of Oneness.
(Baha'u'llah)


And that was how it was, slow progress because every tree, practically every blade of grass had some wonder and beauty to delay us. Try these:






Another pleasant day.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Seeking Layli in the Depth of Winter

Thus in the depth of winter we were constrained to make our abode in houses wherein none dwell except in the heat of summer. Neither My family, nor those who accompanied Me, had the necessary raiment to protect them from the cold in that freezing weather.
(Baha'u'llah)

Baha'u'llah and his companions had no choice but to suffer the cold when they were expelled from the city but we do and have decided to make our July picnic in the relative warmth of the centre of Launceston. (Those who like the wild and chilly places wait for our August trip to Pine Lake). Note however that even Launceston can be a little chilly in July so please do bring the necessary raiment.

We meet as usual at 12 noon on Sunday the 27th July in the car park at Punchbowl reserve. If you are late head up the little path signposted 'Rock Fissure' and you will find us somewhere. The customary picnic, prayers and ceaseless search for signs of the Beauty will occur. Some of us are interpreting 'picnic' to mean 'barbecue' as there are facilities there.

We assume everyone knows where Launceston is but if you are coming from overseas allow at least an hour to get to Punchbowl from the airport. If you need a lift just drop me an e-mail.

The entrance to the reserve is marked 'A' at

http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&tab=wl

and photos can be found at

http://www.touringtasmania.info/punchbowl_reserve.htm

Hope to see you there

The Cleaving of the Earth

So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor.
(Baha'u'llah)

One wouldn't want to argue with Baha'u'llah but the great cleft in the earth at Alum Cliffs did I think at least slightly awaken our hearts.
After a peaceful walk through what seems a mildly undulating forest the suddenness with which a dramatic view confronts one is a highlight of the Alum Cliffs experience. Until perhaps 10 metres from the viewpoint there is no real indication that anything other than forest is around. There is a hint in the slope on the right dropping away rather more steeply (though we still managed to have our picnic there). The paths turns sharply to the left and within a few paces one steps out onto a well constructed platform.
And one looks across to a cliff












And to the left another cliff face contains the red ochre which was prized resource for the indigenous people of the area.






But mostly one looks down
The great gorge and the river far below just demand your attention

Somehow it didn't seem the place to mutter a few quiet prayers. It seems that one's praises should resound between those great cliffs. So in addition to the Baha'i Prayers which are our staple diet, we let a few mighty 'Om's sound out. At least as mighty as our aging lungs could manage. If we didn't see Layli we hope at least she heard us.

It was a great place for a walk and a picnic. The Heath were in bloom even if slightly out of focus.
Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise. Were anyone to affirm that it is the Will of God as manifested in the world of being, no one should question this assertion. It is endowed with a power whose reality men of learning fail to grasp. Indeed a man of insight can perceive naught therein save the effulgent splendour of Our Name, the Creator.
(Baha'u'llah)

Rather surprisingly, art - man-made art - is also at Alum Cliffs. Would we be more successful seeking Layli in galleries? On the path to the viewpoint there is a clearing. And in the clearing there is a giant sculpture. Only an aerial photograph could encompass it all and we had left all our helicopters behind. Here's a glimpse:

Another good day and another spot blessed but we live in hopes of one day finding at least the spoor of Layli.