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Newsletter – on Anxiety

Welcome to the Month of Dominion 171

In this issue – Anxiety

Articles – Please click on the title of the article you want to read

What is Fear?

Anxiety – it’s all an Illusion

Conquering Anxiety with Conscious Happiness

Finding Peace in Life’s Tests

Living in the Present

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

What is the Purpose of Fear?

Reactions to Fear

Doubt and Fear

Fight, Fright and Freeze

What are We Afraid Of?

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear Through Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Your Fear Through Courage

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear by Focusing on the Virtues

Overcoming Fear Through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear with Love

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear by Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear Through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

Overcoming Fear by Turning to God

Overcoming Fear Through Using Role Models

Checklist for Overcoming Fear

Prayers to Eliminate Fear

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin

On Dealing With Anxiety: Finding Peace By Understanding Sin

What Can Others Do to Help Those Who Are Afraid?

Featured Story:

On Overcoming Anxiety

Bahá’u’lláh could trust ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with the most difficult of tasks as He knew He would never waver. One such task was that of building a Shrine for the Bab on Mount Carmel, above what was then the small town of Haifa, facing the Mediterranean Sea. One of many obstacles which developed was the owner of the plot, influenced by scheming Covenant-breakers, would not readily consent to sell the land. ‘”Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it,” He, many a time was heard to remark, “I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position.” “One night,” He, according to an eye-witness, once observed, “I was so hemmed in by My anxieties that I had no other recourse than to recite and repeat over and over again a prayer of the Bab which I had in My possession, the recital of which greatly calmed Me. The next morning the owner of the plot himself came to Me, apologized and begged Me to purchase his property.”  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Featured Prayers:

For Overcoming Anxiety

Pour forth upon all them that are dear to Thee what will preserve them from fear and trembling after me. Powerful art Thou to do whatsoever may please Thee. No God is there except Thee, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 18)

Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! I entreat Thee by Thy Name through which the Hour hath struck, and the Resurrection came to pass, and fear and trembling seized all that are in heaven and all that are on earth, to rain down, out of the heaven of Thy mercy and the clouds of Thy tender compassion, what will gladden the hearts of Thy servants, who have turned towards Thee and helped Thy Cause.  Keep safe Thy servants and Thy handmaidens, O my Lord, from the darts of idle fancy and vain imaginings, and give them from the hands of Thy grace a draught of the soft-flowing waters of Thy knowledge.  Thou, truly, art the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.   (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 72)

Turn, then, O my God, their fear into the evidences of Thy peace and Thy security, and their abasement into the sovereignty of Thy glory, and their poverty into Thine all-sufficient riches, and their distress into the wonders of Thy perfect tranquillity. Vouchsafe unto them the fragrances of Thy might and Thy mercy, and send down upon them, out of Thy marvelous loving-kindness, what will enable them to dispense with all except Thee, and will detach them from aught save Thyself, that the sovereignty of Thy oneness may be revealed and the supremacy of Thy grace and Thy bounty demonstrated.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 335)

Featured Book:

Falling Into Grace  by Justice St. Rain of Special Ideas takes an honest look at the many things in the Bahá’í Community that can test your faith from the fellow Bahá’ís that make you want to scream to the difficult laws that make you want to give up trying the kinds of tests that you are afraid to share with your friends and even those you are afraid to admit to yourself. It shines a bright light on these tests, and in illuminating them, it reduces their power. This book says “you are not alone,” and, even better, “you are not a bad Bahá’í for struggling with these issues.” Struggling with these tests is what ennobles us, and sharing our struggles is what helps us create a real feeling of community. As the title suggests, we must be willing to fall before we can be lifted up through grace.

Here is what some of his readers have said:

  • This book has helped over 5,000 Bahá’ís feel “normal” again and reconnect with their communities with more joy and less shame than ever before. It makes a great gift for new Bahá’ís, long-time Bahá’ís, estranged Bahá’ís, and even serious seekers.
  • It is one of my favorite Bahá’í books. I read it four times in a row, (which I never do), because finishing it was like a painful separation from a best friend and I wasn’t ready to let go! It was easy to read, made sense, described my experience, reminded me of how much I am loved and drew me closer to God.
  • Justice writes straight from the heart in an engaging and approachable style, as he documents the daily tests and trials that many of us go through. I HIGHLY recommend it for any Baha’i who is starting to feel the stress and challenges of life. I can’t say enough good things about this book! I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

To get your copy 

Because the Fast is quickly coming up, I also wanted to mention this book which comes highly recommended:

The Supreme Remedy: Applying the Healing Arts to the Baha’i Fast by Deborah Walters

In Deborah’s own words:

When I first started fasting, I wondered why there wasn’t much written on the subject?  I longed for guidance, insight and I was so curious about its effects and what I experienced.  I found very few people even desired to talk about the subject.  The difficulties and questions I had personally led me to hours of research and experimentation, and to obtain a degree as a Doctor of Naturopathy.  I thought I would then share with others not only what I learned but the joy I received in fasting and how I now look forward to it with confidence.  How can someone enjoy fasting when the body is so sick? How can you hear the spirit when emotionally you are so messy?

I believe that fasting is one of the best remedies for healing. Although it is increasingly used in medical centers, and has been part of treatment in some European and Asian countries for many years, the medical field in the English-speaking world has not used it enough because of lack of understanding and information about fasting. It’s well known that we need breaks during the day to work more efficiently, and vacations to recharge our batteries. Any time we do anything in excess, we eventually need a break from it in order to regain balance. And in Western cultures eating has become excessive and a source of addiction. Fasting has traditionally been a religious practice. It’s a tool of devotion, obedience and love, to gain spiritual power and vision and draw nearer to God. Historically, it’s also been a physical healing tool. Fasting can have various intentions: to regain health, to lose weight, to have clarity of mind. It’s possible for these purposes to work together.

To get your print copy

Kindle

 

Featured Video:

 

Shadi Toloui-Wallace, a singer-songwriter from Australia, now living in Canada, has toured much of North America, Australia and the Pacific, touching hearts through her honest and reflective music. Her ability to creatively express her devotion and love evokes a sense of reverent joy, unique to her work. Shadi draws inspiration from her beliefs, exploration of self, the environment and human interaction. Her work has always placed unity of faith and family at the core.

In this month’s selection, we hear her sing “When Sorrow Comes” which includes a touching rendition of a verse to be read in times of natural disasters or calamities: “Dominion is God’s The lord of the seen And the unseen, The lord of creation” (known in Persian as Yá Alah-u-al Mustagath)

About this prayer, Baha’u’llah tells us:

In Islam a special prayer was ordained to be said in times of natural phenomena which cause fear, such as earthquakes.  This has been annulled, and in its place a Bahá’í may say “Dominion is God’s, the Lord of the seen and the unseen, the Lord of creation”.  (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 58)

I can attest to the power of this prayer to remove anxiety! Recently I was feeling incredible anxiety and couldn’t find a way out; and spent a couple of nights repeating this prayer over and over until I finally fell asleep. The issue hasn’t yet resolved; but I’m feeling much more peaceful with the situation, and content with the will of God!

 

 

To see her homepage

To read about her new song, dedicated to the Yaran 

To find her on Facebook

To listen to more of her music and download it from CD Baby

Featured Coach:

Looking for a Matchmaker?

Dr Mieko Bond is a matchmaker and family lawyer, who hopes to find the perfect match for you based on her extensive network of contacts and genuine passion to help people find love and happiness.  She will use her intuition and consider your personalities and criteria for a partner. The service begins with an initial Skype Session after you have filled out an online interview form. She will choose from her portfolio a selection of matches and you can choose which ones you would like to contact. It is a confidential service, you will not be on the website, and your identity won’t be revealed except to those people you are matched with. You can also purchase additional coaching and dating advice sessions over Skype with the Matchmaker.

To read more about her service 

To find her on Facebook 

And Twitter 

And Linkedin   

Featured Business:

Deborahs Healing Arts

 

Our “Featured Author” this month, Deborah Walters is also a homeopathic doctor, who specializes in anxiety, depression, chronic pain, sleep challenges, arthritis, chronic conditions and life transitions. She uses a combination of homeopathy, botanical remedies and naturopathy.

To visit her website

To hear her talk about her practice and what to expect during your first appointment

 

To listen to other talks she’s given on YouTube

To find her on Facebook

To find her on Linkedin

To find her on Twitter 

Our Readers Write:

Congratulations Susan – such a beautiful stack of 17 books! Grateful grateful for your superb service and contributions which benefits us all so much! (Jeannie Ritchie)

Ah Susan!  I just LOVE that photo of all of your books!!  I’m sending a big enthusiastic cheer for you!  You GO girl! With love and joy for your accomplishments! (Heather Acres)

Thank you so much for this beautiful issue. I was really feeling like this and your issues always open my eyes. Lots of love.  (Mahtab Yeganegi)

 

I Want Patience and I Want it NOW!

 

I have a Bahá’í friend who has suffered with a normally terminal illness for over 20 years, which has left her unable to use her arms.  Yet despite such incredible disabilities, she’s still living on her own, in her own apartment and writing books on the Faith by using the trunk of her body to force her fingers onto the keyboard, one keystroke at a time.  She requires home care aides to come in and do everything for her, from getting her up and dressing her; cooking and feeding her; taking care of her personal hygiene and putting her to bed at night.  In spite of such obvious hardships, she always seems positive and upbeat, saying only that we must really need patience more than anything else in the next world, since we are tested with it so often in this world!

That comment stayed with me, and I wanted to see what the Bahá’í Writings had to say about patience.  Have a look with me!

What is Patience?

It’s a sign of our love for God:

The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words 48)

It’s one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man:

Bahá’u’lláh throws light upon patience, one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

It is the course that is praiseworthy:

Bahá’u’lláh defines “the course that is praiseworthy” as “the exercise of patience”.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 210)

Who Are We Patient With?

There are 3 people we need to have patience with:

God

When we recite the prayer for the departed, at the end, we remind ourselves, 19 times:

We all, verily, are patient in God.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 40)

Others

We must show patience to those who demonstrate immaturity:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

We must endure people even when they are unendurable:

Stanwood Cobb wrote that on one occasion He spoke of the need for loving patience in the face of aggravating behavior on the part of others: ‘One might say, “Well, I will endure such and such a person so long as he is endurable.” But Bahá’ís must endure people even when they are unendurable!’ Stanwood Cobb pointed out that ‘He did not look at us solemnly as if appointing us to an arduous and difficult task. Rather, He beamed upon us delightfully, as if to suggest what a joy to us it would be to act in this way!’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Ourselves

We must be patient with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair:

We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient!, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 456)

We also need the patience of other people!

All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome, and we all need one another’s understanding and patience.  (Universal House of Justice, NSA USA – The Bahá’í Faith and Homosexuality)

What Are We Patient About?

We’re patient in our work for the Faith:

The work of the friends therefore, interesting and useful as it may be, is hard and most exacting to one’s patience and energy.  (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 11)

We’re patient with the consciousness of self:

You have asked as to what point in man’s evolution he becomes conscious of self. This consciousness of self in man is a gradual process, and does not start at a definite point. It grows in him in this world and continues to do so in the future spiritual world.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

We’re patient with the transition to full equality between women and men:

The transition to full equality between women and men is an evolutionary process requiring education and patience with oneself and others, as well as an unswerving determination.  (Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women Peace Process)

We’re patient with different degrees of motion:

There are different degrees of motion. There is a motion of transit, that is from place to place. For example, the revolution of the earth around the sun; a bird flies from branch to branch. Another kind is the motion of inherent growth, like that of man from the condition of childhood to the estate of manhood, or the development of a tree from the seedling to its full fruition. The third is the motion of condition – the sick man passes from the stage of sickness to the state of health. The fourth motion is that of the spirit. For instance, the child while in the mother’s womb has all the potential qualities of the spirit, but those qualities begin to unfold little by little as the child is born and grows and develops, finally manifesting all the attributes and qualities of the spirit. The fifth is the motion of the intellect whereby the ignorant become wise; the indifferent, alert; the dark, illuminated and the carnally-minded, spiritual.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 124-125)

We’re patient with our Assemblies in setting a date for a year of patience; and then patient during that year, in our efforts to reconcile and overcome our aversion, before we can divorce:

The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic. The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá’í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)

What Robs Us of Patience?

Our DNA!  When we inherit the weakness and debility of our parents:

For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 319)

Atmospheric vibrations, where the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting us from one state to another, and entirely overpowering us:

Therefore, see the connection which exists between the spirit of man and the atmospheric vibration, so that the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting him from one state to another, and of entirely overpowering him; it will deprive him of patience and tranquillity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 246)

That certainly explains a lot for me!  How about you?  🙂

When is Patience Needed the Most?

During every hardship:

Manifest magnificent patience during every calamity and hardship.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 374)

During the calamities which cause our eyes to flow with tears and greatly afflicted us:

Thou oughtest to bear it with becoming patience. Again, thou oughtest to patiently bear this calamity which hath flowed thine eyes with tears and hath greatly afflicted thee.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

In the moment of catastrophe:

In the moment of catastrophe, find ye patience, resignation and submission.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

When are we NOT to be patient?

In teaching:

The doors of the Kingdom of God are open, the Call of the Lord of the Kingdom is raised, the Bestowals of the Almighty are endless and the effulgence of the Sun of Reality has illumined the East and the West. In such a time patience and tranquility are not allowable. Thou must engage with infinite joy and happiness in the mention of the Forgiving Lord.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 12)

What Are the Benefits of Being Patient?

Victory from the unseen Kingdom will be vouchsafed to us:

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87)

Why Do We Need Patience?

Without patience, we will reach nowhere and attain no goal:

The steed of this Valley [Search] is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

It’s impossible for a seed to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time:

Know, verily, that the seed, however virile it may be, however strong the hand of the sower, however pure the water that watereth it, it is impossible for it to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time; nay, a long period is needed for its development. So it is the Kingdom of God. Consider the seed which was sown by Christ; verily, it did not blossom until after a long period. Thus it is incumbent upon thee to be patient in all affairs. Verily thy Lord is powerful, forgiving, precious and persevering! Depend upon the favor of thy Lord. He shall bless thee and protect thee under the shadow of His generosity and mercy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 312-313)

As with everything in the Bahá’í Faith, there seems to be a need to learn through contrasts, and this is no exception.  Here it seems that we need calamity in order to develop patience:

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds? Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire Tablet, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 217)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá asks us to “be patient, be as I am”:

Florence Khanum relates two sayings she heard from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. On one occasion He said to her ‘”Sabr kun; mithl-i-Man bash” – be patient, be as I am. The other was when some one expressed discouragement to Him, saying they could not possibly aquire all the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are directed to possess, and the Master replied, “Kam Kam. Ruz bih ruz” – little by little; day by day.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

With patience, we will succeed, for God is with us:

Only have faith, patience and courage—this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 101)

With patience, we will have progress:

The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience, God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

With patience, trials and ordeals won’t deflect us from the path of God:

We beseech Him to graciously enable them to show forth patience and fortitude that haply trials and ordeals might not deflect them from the path of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.  (Shoghi Effendi, Fire and Light, p. 33)

With patience, we’ll achieve victories which are rarely accomplished at a single stroke:

Victories are won usually through a great deal of patience, planning and perseverance, and rarely accomplished at a single stroke.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 598)

With patience, understanding and forbearance for other people’s shortcomings, we will assure the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large:

The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 9)

With patience towards each other, we will attract large numbers to our ranks:

Too great emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of the unity of the friends, for only by manifesting the greatness of their love for and patience with each other can they hope to attract large numbers to their ranks.  (Shoghi Effendi, Promoting Entry by Troops, p. 3)

With patience, we will create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning:

They [tutors] need to combine the qualities of love, humility, and patience, with the dedication, perseverance, and commitment required to create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning.  (International Teaching Centre, 2000 Feb, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, p. 9)

With patience we will attain our desire:

O my dear …, endure and be patient, and by patience thou wilt attain thy desire.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 456)

With patience, we will attain spiritual states which will last forever and ever:

I beg of God to pour on thee becoming patience, so that thy heart may be consoled with the fragrance of His mercy and that thy breast may be dilated with His favors, that thou mayest attain to the spiritual states which are lasting forever and ever. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

With flexibility and patience, we are able to learn:

Flexibility and patience are encouraged, as essential prerequisites of the learning process.  (ITC, 2003 Apr 23, Building Momentum, p. 17)

With patience, we become the exponents of justice:

Such hath been the patience, the calm, the resignation and contentment of this people that they have become the exponents of justice, and so great hath been their forbearance, that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than kill, and this notwithstanding that these whom the world hath wronged have endured tribulations the like of which the history of the world hath never recorded, nor the eyes of any nation witnessed. What is it that could have induced them to reconcile themselves to these grievous trials, and to refuse to put forth a hand to repel them? What could have caused such resignation and serenity? The true cause is to be found in the ban which the Pen of Glory hath, day and night, chosen to impose, and in Our assumption of the reins of authority, through the power and might of Him Who is the Lord of all mankind.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 74-75)

What are the rewards of patience in the next world?

First of all, it’s important to know that God is aware of our frailties and our impatience in our sufferings:

I recognize that Thou hast afflicted them for no other purpose except to proclaim Thy Cause, and to enable them to ascend into the heaven of Thine eternity and the precincts of Thy court, yet Thou knowest full well the frailty of some of them, and art aware of their impatience in their sufferings.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 157)

Therefore, He loves those who show forth patience:

God, verily, loveth those women and men who show forth patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 43)

His recompense is limitless for those who show forth patience and long-suffering:

And He reminds them that, whereas God rewards every good deed in accordance with its merit, in the case of patience and long-suffering, as attested in the Qur‘án, the recompense is limitless.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

He rewards beyond measure those who endure with patience:

He, verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 71)

He increases the reward of those who endure tribulations with patience:

Rejoice not in what ye have done, or will do in the future … for ye are unable by such means as these to exalt your stations, were ye to examine your works with acute discernment … Nay, God will add unto the recompense with which He shall reward Us, for having sustained with persevering patience the tribulations We have suffered. He, verily, shall increase the reward of them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 128)

His choicest gifts are the reward for those who endure with patience:

Say, this earthly life shall come to an end, and everyone shall expire and return unto my Lord God Who will reward with the choicest gifts the deeds of those who endure with patience.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 161)

He extols the station of those who endure their hardships and calamities with patience and resignation:

He extols the station of those believers who endured hardships and calamities with patience and resignation. Through their fortitude and constancy, their forbearance and long-suffering, these souls attained to such a lofty position that the Concourse on high seek their companionship and long for their blessings.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

We will become everlasting in the Kingdom of God:

Be thou a mountain of quiescence, a sign of meekness, a sea of patience, a light of love, a standard of utter separation (from all else save God), so that thou mayest become everlasting in the Kingdom of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 291)

Are some people rewarded more than others for patience?

A poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful:

In the course of one of His talks to His companions ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that a poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful. However, a poor man who is thankful is more praiseworthy than the one who is patient, while more meritorious than all is the rich man who expends his wealth for others.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 281)

Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their suffering:

Great is the honor destined by God for those poor who are steadfast in patience. By My life! There is no honor, except what God may please to bestow, that can compare to this honor. Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their sufferings. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 202)

How Do We Get Patience?

By putting our reliance in God:

It behooveth whosoever hath set his face towards the Most Sublime Horizon to cleave tenaciously unto the cord of patience, and to put his reliance in God, the Help in Peril, the Unconstrained.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 98)

Through the love of God:

It was the Love of God that led Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that strengthened Joseph in Egypt and gave to Moses courage and patience.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 82)

By seeking patience only in God and no one or nowhere else:

Verily I seek patience only in God, and Him do I regard as the goal of My desire. This signifieth that I have the undoubted Truth on My side.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 20)

Through prayers and supplications:

Prayers and supplications should be offered at the sacred Threshold, so that thou mayest remain firm in tests, and patient in ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)

With perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God:

When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)

Through knowledge:

Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator. The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 69)

Little by little; day by day

One would well remember the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who when approached by a believer in the depths of discouragement despairing of ever acquiring the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are required to possess, replied with the greatest compassion and encouragement, “little by little; day by day” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World 12: 704)

How do we Show Patience?

In the following quote, Bahá’u’lláh gives us a lot of ideas, which include:

  • put his trust in God
  • renounce the peoples of the earth
  • detach ourselves from the world of dust
  • cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords
  • never seek to exalt himself above any one
  • wash away every trace of pride and vain-glory from our hearts
  • cling to resignation
  • observe silence
  • refrain from idle talk

That seeker must, at all times, put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, must detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264-265)

Seek patience only in God:

I seek patience only in God. Verily He is the best protector and the best helper. No refuge do I seek save God.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 20)

Have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

Adorn ourselves with resignation and steadfastness, never being dismayed or disheartened by adversity:

Bahá’u’lláh urges the people of the Bayan to do likewise, counselling them to adorn their beings with the mantle of resignation, to be steadfast in the Cause of God, and never to be dismayed or disheartened by adversity. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

Understand that change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time:

Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 620)

Conduct ourselves with the utmost submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if another person did not know anything about our troubles, he would think that we were in the perfect ease of soul, happy and tranquil:

However, relying upon God, we conducted ourselves with the utmost patience and submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if one did not know anything about these matters, he would have thought that we were in perfect ease of soul, enjoying the tranquility of heart mind, and were engaged in happiness and felicity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

Follow the patient example of the Master

Concerning the attitude of some Bahá’ís, who seem at times to be insensitive and unsupportive, all we can do is to try to follow the patient example of the Master, bearing in mind that each believer is but one of the servants of the Almighty who must strive to learn and grow. The absence of spiritual qualities, like darkness, has no existence in itself. As the light of spirituality penetrates deep into the hearts, this darkness gradually dissipates and is replaced by virtue. (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

How Long Do We Have to Be Patient?

It’s always according to God’s timetable, knowing there is no past, present or future in His world:

The past, the present, the future, all, in relation to God, are equal. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 116)

We must be patient until God discloses our fate to us:

She should abide in patience until such time as God shall please to disclose to her his fate. By the course that is praiseworthy in this connection is meant the exercise of patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 106)

We’re to be patient until relief is forthcoming from God:

Ours is the duty to remain patient in these circumstances until relief be forthcoming from God, the Forgiving, the Bountiful.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 177)

For twenty-four years ‘Abdu’l-Bahá showered kindness on one of his enemies before he finally asked for forgiveness:

Hear how he treats his enemies. One instance of many I have heard will suffice. When the Master came to ‘Akká there lived there a certain man from Afghanistan [Haji Siddiq], an austere and rigid Mussulman [Muslim]. To him the Master was a heretic. He felt and nourished a great enmity towards the Master, and roused up others against him. When opportunity offered in gatherings of the people, as in the Mosque, he denounced him with bitter words. ‘This man,’ he said to all, ‘is an imposter. Why do you speak to him? Why do you have dealings with him?’ And when he passed the Master on the street he was careful to hold his robe before his face that his sight might not be defiled. Thus did the Afghan. The Master, however, did thus: The Afghan was poor and lived in a mosque; he was frequently in need of food and clothing. The Master sent him both. These he accepted, but without thanks. He fell sick. The Master took him a physician, food, medicine, money. These, also, he accepted; but as he held out one hand that the physician might take his pulse, with the other he held his cloak before his face that he might not look upon the Master. For twenty-four years the Master continued his kindnesses and the Afghan persisted in his enmity. Then at last one day the Afghan came to the Master’s door, and fell down, penitent and weeping, at his feet. ‘Forgive me, sir!’ he cried. ‘For twenty-four years I have done evil to you, for twenty-four years you have done good to me. Now I know that I have been in the wrong.’ The Master bade him rise, and they became friends.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Centre of the Covenant, p. 101)

Results might take eighty or nighty years’ work and suffering:

The results of the sacrifices of all these people are manifested now. Therefore, those who have been for five or ten years in some place should never complain. These results are of eighty years’ work—yes, ninety years, and suffering. Work day and night in such time and the harvest will be ready. Bahá’u’lláh has definitely said clearly to the friends: ‘Your function is to sow the seeds. God will either let them grow or will bury them.’ It is yours to stand at your post and sow the seed. The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience.  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might take a thousand three hundred and five and thirty days:

Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 43)

We might not even see the results in our lifetime or even the lifetimes of generations after us:

God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might even take as long asa hundred thousand years!

If he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

I love this story, told to us by the Counsellor (Dan Scott) at a recent gathering:

The Process of Cluster Growth and the Moral of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

If you plant a seed from the Chinese Bamboo tree, be prepared for a long wait.  The patient gardener will have to water and fertilize the invisible seed for no less than four years before the first shoots begin to appear. In those four years of silent growth, the “lucky Bamboo, ” as the Chinese call it, is sending out taproots, the root system that spreads out horizontally and downward into the soil. Throughout all those four years, nothing significant is visible at ground-level.

But then during the fifth year, something wonderful happens.   The Chinese Bamboo sprouts and grows an incredible 90 feet in six weeks! (Some species will grow 100 cm or 39 inches per day!)

A rich variety of moral and spiritual lessons lie hidden in applying the lessons of the Chinese Bamboo to the institute process and cluster growth.

In his talk, Counsellor Dan Scott referred to Shoghi Effendi’s phrase that the building of [our personal lives] and of the Faith appears to be “slow and unobtrusive”:

It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá’í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God’s changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.  (Bahá’u’lláh, World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 194)

As unobtrusive as it may seem to be, things are going on behind the scenes which we have no awareness of, and we have to trust are happening.

Seldom do we live long enough to see the benefits of our efforts to be patient, but here’s a story of a woman who did, which moves me to tears every time I read it!

A young Bahá ‘i lady pioneered to Bolivia in the 1930 s to open it to the Faith. Having no success in teaching anyone, she began to write to the Guardian expressing feelings of failure. With each passing month she wrote and he replied encouraging her to stay, to remain steadfast, to have faith and to pray. So obediently she continued on. Every day she went to the centre of a small town and in one of the regions found a spot by a fountain and tearfully prayed for the progress of the Faith.

After two years the beloved Guardian consented to her wish to return home. The story of this young lady was lost and unknown to the friends in Bolivia. Years later when they experienced entry by troops they organised regional teaching conferences. At the end of one of them they decided to take a group photograph. They found a sunny spot big enough for 1,200 friends to gather. Mr Vojdani took a copy of this photo everywhere to show to the friends on his travels.

Years later, friends from many countries had gathered in Paris for a huge anniversary celebration and Mr Vojdani attended as part of a delegation from the Americas. In the crowd a very old lady using two walking sticks hobbled over to them and asked if there was anyone from Bolivia. He said yes. She asked if there were many Bahá ’s there, again he said yes, then she asked if he had any photographs from Bolivia. He showed her the one of the teaching conference group photo. She took it and looked at it for a few moments and then fainted.

Later in hospital, when she came round, the shocked friends asked her what had happened. In a frail voice she told her story that she had been sent to Bolivia by the Guardian and every day for two years she had sat down in the exact spot where the photograph had been taken to pray and beseech Bahá‘u’llah to open the doors of His Faith to the people of Bolivia. Seeing the photograph she realised then, years later, that her prayers had been answered. Three days later she died.

We’re never alone in our struggle!  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is praying that we will attain the utmost patience, composure and resignation:

I hope that you will attain to the utmost patience, composure and resignation, and I supplicate and entreat at the Threshold of Oneness and beg pardon and forgiveness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 379)

How has this helped you with your impatience?  Post your comments below:

Checklist for Overcoming Fear

There’s been a lot to consider in previous articles, so I wanted to summarize it here, so you can monitor your progress, and make sure you’ve covered all the bases.

Use this list as a checklist, and when you’ve completed them all, you’ll have cast fear out and replaced it with the love of God.

 

Forgiveness Forgive God
Forgive yourself
Forgive others
Ask God for His forgiveness
Patience Remember there is a season for everything
Remind yourself that you have the right to fail
Give it time
Prayer Reading prayers morning and night
Saying your Obligatory Prayer
Using the Prayer for Protection
Using specific prayers to overcome fear
Read the Writings Reading the Writings morning and night
Deepen your knowledge
Meditation on the Words of God
Study a prayer with someone
Role Models Baha’u’llah
‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Shoghi Effendi
Central Figures
Bahiyyih Khanum
Martyrs
Dawnbreakers
Continental Board of Counsellors
Auxiliary Board Members
Sin Understand lower and higher nature
Understand the Nature of Sin
Teaching and Service Action
Distraction
Teaching
Service
Core Activities
Tests and Difficulties Understand the role and purpose of tests and difficulties
Thoughts Knowledge of Self
Fear doesn’t solve anything
Habits of Thought
Stop Believing Lies
Turn your back on fear
Change Thoughts
Stop Feeding the Fear
Forget about Them
Understand strong emotions
Understand you’re not alone
Use Affirmations
Make a choice and decide to stop
Understand Death
Turn to God Choose the Right Source
Turn to God
Trust God
Take your problems to God
See the end in the beginning
Recognize Bounties
Receive God’s Love
Recognize God’s Forgiveness
Recognize God’s Protection
Cling to the Cord
Virtues Consultation
Courage
Detachment
Faith
Gratitude
Happiness and Joy
Love
Mindfulness
Peacefulness
Radiance
Trust

Now that you’ve checked off all the things on this list, hang up a mental “no room at the inn” sign inside your heart, so that fear and anxiety won’t be able to express itself in you again.

Conclusion

You can defeat Fear.  Fear is not greater than God!  Fear is not greater than the Word of God!  Fear is not greater than you!

You’ll want to share these teachings with everyone you meet, but we need to exercise wisdom. It’s unlikely they’ll want to hear so all we can do is pray for them.

Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it.’ Such is the consummate wisdom to be observed in thy pursuits. Be not oblivious thereof, if thou wishest to be a man of action under all conditions. First diagnose the disease and identify the malady, then prescribe the remedy, for such is the perfect method of the skilful physician.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 268)

Walking out of fear into faith doesn’t mean that it won’t visit you again. When you’re standing in faith and fear is reaching all around you, that isn’t fear-faith, that’s a good thing, because it means you’re facing your enemy. It’s a good place to be. You’re in temptation. Some people delude themselves into thinking that if they are finished with fear they never have to face it down again. It’s just another lie from our lower nature. We don’t want to go there.

Ponder then in thine heart: Matters being such as thou dost witness, and as We also witness, where canst thou flee, and with whom shalt thou take refuge? Unto whom wilt thou turn thy gaze? In what land shalt thou dwell and upon what seat shalt thou abide? In what path shalt thou tread and at what hour wilt thou find repose? What shall become of thee in the end? Where shalt thou secure the cord of thy faith and fasten the tie of thine obedience? By Him Who revealeth Himself in His oneness and Whose own Self beareth witness to His unity!  Should there be ignited in thy heart the burning brand of the love of God, thou wouldst seek neither rest nor composure, neither laughter nor repose, but wouldst hasten to scale the highest summits in the realms of divine nearness, sanctity, and beauty. Thou wouldst lament as a soul bereaved and weep as a heart filled with longing. Nor wouldst thou repair to thy home and abode unless God would lay bare before thee His Cause.  (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 13-14)

Once we’ve mastered these ways to eliminate fear, it’s important to teach them to our children from their earliest childhood, so they will know how to eliminate them faster than we were able to:

In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination…. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32)

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

How has this helped you take charge of your fear and anxiety.  Can you think of others to add?  Post your comments here:

 

 

Understanding the Link between Fear and Sin

 

Bahá’u’lláh asks why we’ve never wondered what the cause of the world’s misery and distress might be:

Though the world is encompassed with misery and distress, yet no man hath paused to reflect what the cause or source of that may be.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 217)

The answer is sin, or falling short of God’s standards.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that there is a clear link between sin and disease:

It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 152)

 

What does the Bahá’í Faith teach about sin?

We are all sinners:

We are all sinners, and Thou art the Forgiver of sins, the Merciful, the Compassionate.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 176)

God doesn’t want us to follow our idle fancies and vain imaginings:

Fear ye God and follow not your idle fancies and corrupt imaginings, but rather follow Him Who is come unto you invested with undeniable knowledge and unshakeable certitude.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 61)

We can’t hide our sins from God:

O Heedless Ones! Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 59)

Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favor, and not of your deserving.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 60)

Death is better than sin:

Certainly for an intelligent man death is better than sin . . .  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 265)

 

What qualities are defined as sin?

Sin is anything that the Concourse on High might find averse:

Say: It behoveth every one that holdeth fast to the hem of Our Robe to be untainted by anything from which the Concourse on high may be averse. Thus hath it been decreed by thy Lord, the All-Glorious, in this His perspicuous Tablet. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 307)

Or might take us away from His love:

Say: Set ye aside My love, and commit what grieveth Mine heart? What is it that hindereth you from comprehending what hath been revealed unto you by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise?  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 307)

Lying:

Certainly it is hard to think of a sin that does not require some kind of a lie to go with it.  (Marzieh Gail, Arches of the Years, p. 94)

The Bahá’í Teaching is that all the sins are on one side of the scales, and lying on the other, and that lying outweighs them all. (Marzieh Gail, Arches of the Years, p. 94)

Anger, sensuality, jealousy, avarice, cruelty, pride

The animal is the source of imperfections, such as anger, sensuality, jealousy, avarice, cruelty, pride: all these defects are found in animals but do not constitute sins. But in man they are sins.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

Ignorance, cruelty, ungodliness, insincerity, unfaithfulness, unworthy thoughts:

Man’s ignorance, his cruelty, his ungodliness, his selfishness, his insincerity and . . . One act of unfaithfulness — even a glance betraying the insincerity of the individual or an unworthy thought emanating from his mind . . . (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 227)

Betrayal of trust, neglect, being remiss in the performance of duties, oppression, extortion, selfishness

But if . . . any one betray the least of trusts or neglect and be remiss in the performance of duties which are intrusted to him, or by oppression takes one penny of extortion from the subjects, or seeks after his own personal, selfish aims and ends in the attainment of his own interests . . .  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 403-404)

Dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy

Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

Idle talk and advancing yourself over others:

Verily I say unto thee: Of all men the most negligent is he that disputeth idly and seeketh to advance himself over his brother. (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 5)

Antagonism, hatred, selfish struggle for existence, jealousy, revenge, ferocity, cunning, hypocrisy, greed, injustice and tyranny

All the imperfections found in the animal are found in man. In him there is antagonism, hatred and selfish struggle for existence; in his nature lurk jealousy, revenge, ferocity, cunning, hypocrisy, greed, injustice and tyranny. So to speak, the reality of man is clad in the outer garment of the animal, the habiliments of the world of nature, the world of darkness, imperfections and unlimited baseness.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 110)

Dishonesty, laxity and negligence, unlawfully exacting money, securing private gains or seeking personal benefits

Should anyone, God forbid, manifest one iota of dishonesty, or show laxity and negligence in carrying out his duties, or unlawfully exact money from the people, be it even a singe penny, or secure private gains for himself, or seek personal benefits . . . (‘Abdul-Bahá, Nearness to God, p. ‘Izzat 15)

Material ideas and worldly thoughts, anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jeal­ousy and suspicion

Just as the earth attracts everything to the centre of gravity, and every object thrown upward into space will come down, so also material ideas and worldly thoughts attract man to the centre of self. Anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jeal­ousy and suspicion . . .  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

Attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire:

What is the dust which obscures the mirror? It is attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire; this is the dust which prevents reflection of the rays of the Sun of Reality in the mirror.   (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 244-245)

Anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny:

It is, therefore, certain that sins such as anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny exist in the physical world. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

Repudiate the revealed Truth

It is certainly a much greater responsibility to reject the Manifestation in this day than it was in the past Dispensations, inasmuch as man, and indeed humanity as a whole, have been endowed with a greater measure of spiritual receptivity than ever before, and consequently it would be a much graver sin to repudiate the revealed Truth now than it would have been the case in by-gone ages and centuries.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 480)

Materialism, greed, corruption, conflict, malaise

The institutions of the old world order are crumbling and in disarray. Materialism, greed, corruption and conflict are infecting the social order with a grave malaise from which it is helpless to extricate itself. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 563)

The closer we get to God, even good deeds done by others are considered as sins:

The good deeds of the righteous are the sins of the Near Ones. This is established.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 125)

What does any of this have to do with fear?

Although fear is not mentioned specifically here, (except as idle fancies and vain imaginings), disobedience and anything that takes us away from God’s love easily includes fear.

There are many synonyms for each fear reaction:

Fight:  Anger, conflict, dispute, hatred, tyranny, haughtiness, passion, suspicion, antagonism, revenge, ferocity, cunning, hypocrisy, injustice, tyranny, idle talk, advancing yourself over others, dissension and strife, contention, betrayal of trust, oppression, extortion, cruelty and insincerity

Flight (anything that takes us away from our fear): Materialism, greed, corruption, jealousy, covetousness, avarice, prejudice, pride, attachment to the world, envy, love of luxury and comfort, self-desire, material ideas and worldly thoughts, dishonesty, unlawfully exacting money, securing private gains or seeking personal benefits, selfish struggle for existence, unfaithfulness, selfishness and sensuality

Freeze:  malaise, ignorance, laxity and negligence, estrangement, apathy, neglect, being remiss in the performance of duties, ungodliness and unworthy thoughts

How do we know that fear is a sin?

We know because He asked us not to have fear:

The Pen of the Most High addresseth Me, saying: Fear not.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 90)

Let the fear of no one dismay Thee, and be Thou not of them that waver.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 196)

Fear not the tempestuous gales, O Mariner! He Who causeth the dawn to appear is, verily, with Thee in this darkness that hath struck terror into the hearts of all men.  (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 36)

If we do something God asks us not to do, it’s a sin.

What causes sin?

Sin causes pathogenic factors which cause diseases to become compounded, multiplied and transmitted to others:

We see clearly, therefore, how powerful are sin and contumacy as pathogenic factors. And once engendered these diseases become compounded, multiply, and are transmitted to others. Such are the spiritual, inner causes of sickness.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 153)

Sin comes from the demands of nature:

All sin comes from the demands of nature, and these demands, which arise from the physical qualities, are not sins with respect to the animals, while for man they are sin. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

When we overcome one, we’ll fall into another:

The physical man, unassisted by the divine power, trying to escape from one of these invisible enemies, will unconsciously fall into hands of another.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

Love of self:

No sooner does he attempt to soar upward than the density of the love of self, like the power of gravity, draws him to the centre of the earth. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

What’s the Purpose of Sin?

Again it seems that we need contrasts:

O my Lord, verily, the sins are bubbling foam and Thy mercy is a full ocean. Trespasses are bitter trees and Thy pardon is a fire whose flame is intense.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 407)

What happens when we sin?

The body is in torment:

If the soul falls into sin, the body is in torment!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65)

Sins cause physical ailments:

It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 152)

Sins inflict painful wounds on our souls – it’s a painful torture:

All his sins and shortcomings are tools of torture inflicting painful wounds upon the souls of the Chosen Ones of God [and] . . .  is painful torture to them. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 227)

Sins cause disease, calamity, natural disasters including floods, hurricanes and earthquakes:

According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause.  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

What happens to the sinner?

His sufferings are remedial and educative, reminding us that we’ve strayed from the right path:

The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however, but educative and remedial. It is God’s Voice proclaiming to man that he has strayed from the right path. If the suffering is terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more terrible, for “the wages of sin is death.” (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

He is deprived of God’s outpourings and blessings:

. . . he shall undoubtedly remain deprived of the outpourings of His Highness the Almighty! Beware! Beware! lest ye fall short in that which ye are commanded in this Tablet!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 403-404)

. . . such a person will surely be deprived of the blessings of the Almighty.  Beware, beware, lest ye fall short of what hath been set forth in this letter.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Nearness to God, p. ‘Izzat 15)

He’s prevented from ascending to the realms of holiness, and imprisoned in self and ego:

. . . prevent man from ascending to the realms of holi­ness, imprisoning him in the claws of self and the cage of egotism.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

He becomes dissatisfied about not finding a job he likes; or a place in the world that fits him:

You should never be too depressed about your dissatisfaction concerning not finding a job you like, a place in the world that fits you. If you analyse it this general sense of misfit is one of the curses of your generation, one of the products of the world’s disequilibrium and chaos. It is not confined to your life, it is pretty general.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 454)

What do the Bahá’í Writings say about “Generational Sin” or “Sins of the Father”?

Many Christians believe that because of Adam’s “original sin”, all of his descendants were, without reason, guilty sinners, which is far from the justice of God:

But the mass of the Christians believe that, as Adam ate of the forbidden tree, He sinned in that He disobeyed, and that the disastrous consequences of this disobedience have been transmitted as a heritage and have remained among His descendants. Hence Adam became the cause of the death of humanity. This explanation is unreasonable and evidently wrong, for it means that all men, even the Prophets and the Messengers of God, without committing any sin or fault, but simply because they are the posterity of Adam, have become without reason guilty sinners, and until the day of the sacrifice of Christ were held captive in hell in painful torment. This is far from the justice of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 120)

If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?

Could we conceive of the Divinity, Who is Justice itself, inflicting punishment upon the posterity of Adam for Adam’s own sin and disobedience? Even if we should see a governor, an earthly ruler punishing a son for the wrongdoing of his father, we would look upon that ruler as an unjust man. Granted the father committed a wrong, what was the wrong committed by the son? There is no connection between the two. Adam’s sin was not the sin of His posterity, especially as Adam is a thousand generations back of the man today. If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 449-450)

These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.

There are other questions and evidences to be considered. Abraham was a Manifestation of God and a descendant of Adam; likewise, Ishmael, Isaac, Jeremiah and the whole line of prophets including David, Solomon and Aaron were among His posterity. Were all these holy men condemned to a realm of punishment because of a deed committed by the first father, because of a mistake  said to have been made by their mutual and remotest ancestor Adam? The explanation is made that when Christ came and sacrificed Himself, all the line of holy Prophets who preceded Him became free from sin and punishment. Even a child could not justly make such an assertion. These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 449-450)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains how the sins of parents carry forward 3 or 4 generations:

If a man does a great injustice to another in his life, then, after his death, his son will be despised for having had such a father and in some cases the injury might be so serious that the effect would reach to the grandson, etc., or a man may, by wrong living, fall into consumption and give that disease to his children unto the third or fourth generation. “Both physically and mentally the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children.”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at ‘Akká 1979 ed., pp. 45-46)

Children can inherit the weaknesses and ineffectiveness of their parents:

The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of constitution; that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children will be weak; if they are strong, the children will be robust. In the same way, purity of blood has a great effect; for the pure germ is like the superior stock which exists in plants and animals. For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 318)

How do we overcome our sins?

Sins can be forgiven when we repent:

Should anyone be afflicted by a sin, it behoveth him to repent thereof and return unto his Lord. He, verily, granteth forgiveness unto whomsoever He willeth, and none may question that which it pleaseth Him to ordain. He is, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving.  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 37)

Through obedience and turning to God:

Just as calamity is due to disobedience, so deliverance from calamity can be obtained only be obedience. There is no chance or uncertainty about the matter. Turning from God inevitably brings disaster, and turning to God as inevitably brings blessing.  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

Apply Bahá’u’lláh’s remedy:

With every passing day it becomes more and more evident that no time must be lost in applying the remedy prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh, and it is to this task that Bahá’ís everywhere must bend their energies and commit their resources.  (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 563)

By gaining victory over ourselves as quickly as possible:

But when we find ourselves falling short we must add to this response the high resolve to “gain victory over (our) own selves” as speedily as possible, as a mercy to ourselves and to our fellow men, so that others may be attracted to the Faith without hindrance.  (Compilations, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 120)

By weeding out our faults, habits, and tendencies which we’ve inherited and to cultivate qualities and characteristics needed to participate in the work of the Faith

How great, therefore, how staggering the responsibility that must weigh upon the present generation of the American believers, at this early stage in their spiritual and administrative evolution, to weed out, by every means in their power, those faults, habits, and tendencies which they have inherited from their own nation, and to cultivate, patiently and prayerfully, those distinctive qualities and characteristics that are so indispensable to their effective participation in the great redemptive work of their Faith. (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 20-21)

By fleeing them and knitting together the hearts of men:

Flee them, through the power of God and His sovereign aid, and strive ye to knit together the hearts of men, in His Name, the Unifier, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit:

The only power that is capable of delivering man from this captivity is the power of the Holy Spirit. The attraction of the power of the Holy Spirit is so effective that it keeps man ever on the path of upward ascension.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

For more in this series, please read:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

Were you surprised by any of what you just read?  Post your comments here:

 

Overcoming Fear with Faith

What is faith?

Ruhiyyih Khanum describes it this way:

THIS IS FAITH

by Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum

To walk where there is no path
To breathe where there is no air
To see where there is not light-
This is Faith.

To cry out in the silence,
The silence of the night,
And hearing no echo believe
And believe again and again-
This is Faith.

To hold pebbles and see jewels
To raise sticks and see forests
To smile with weeping eyes-
This is Faith.

To say: “God, I believe” when others deny,
“I hear” when there is no answer,
“I see” though naught is seen-
This is Faith.

And the fierce love in the heart,
The savage love that cries
Hidden Thou art yet there !
Veil Thy face and mute Thy tongue
yet I see and hear Thee, Love,
Beat me down to the bare earth,
Yet I rise and love Thee, Love !”
This is Faith.

 

Faith and fear are both belief systems.  You have to choose which one you’re going to follow.  You cannot defeat fear without faith.

God wants us to have faith in Him in all things. Nothing is more important.

No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through will come out as Bahá’u’lláh has promised.   (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

The words of God will defeat fear (which is the work of our lower nature) and give us faith in God’s plan for us. Faith is one of God’s attributes, which He’s already bestowed on us.

Faith is walking with God as far as we know how to walk and then taking the next step into the black oblivion, and then keep on walking. We don’t know what’s next so we keep on going because He tells us:

As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 504)

All healing comes from the Word of God but we just can’t acquire faith simply by reading the Word of God.

We have to trust the One who wrote it
We have to trust His words
We have to act on them.

This is an important three-part process.

When I first became a Baha’i, I somehow managed to accomplish the first two but ever since then I’ve been picking and choosing which Writings to act on: the easy ones. I was like a child stuffing myself with candy and relishing every mouthful so I didn’t have room for the whole meal.

Our hopes are what motivate us, because that is what faith is.  We hope to be freed from anxiety, we accept Baha’u’llah’s authority, we immerse ourselves in His words and then we act on them in faith.  The process draws us closer to God, because nowhere else will you find this approach to healing anxiety.  You have to try it in faith, trusting God’s authority.

Fear

Fear produces an emotion and feeling that we think is real but they are just emanations of our lower nature.  We could also call them veils between us and God, or sin.

God gave us emotions to enhance our lives.  The emotion of fear was intended to alert us to real danger so our bodies can activate the fight or flight response.  When a person panics, their cerebral cortex sends signals to the hypothalamus gland—the brain of the endocrine system. It in turn sends out impulses and chemicals that make the body respond with a faster heartbeat, slower metabolism, an adrenaline rush, dry mouth, shaking knees, etc. This “fight or flight” reaction normally lasts only a few minutes. However, when a person is in bondage to fear, when stress and anxiety are a way of life, their body is going to stay stuck in this reaction.

Many of us live lives ruled by another kind of fear that comes from an imagined enemy, and this was not given to us by God.  This fear is not the fight or flight God created us with but an aberration.  It does not warn us or protect us, but instead brings about our destruction because we put our faith in the wrong thing.  We weren’t wired to remain in constant “fight or flight,” and many serious illnesses are the result of the body being on constant high alert.

Faith and fear are both belief systems starting in our imagination.  Both project into the future and both demand to be fulfilled.  If we’re going to use it to imagine the worst, why not use it to imagine the best?

You have no guarantee that the object of your faith will ever happen or that the object of your fear will ever happen. We’re giving more faith to what we fear than what we should believe in (that God has a plan and His plan is better for us than anything we could conceive).

Imagination is the link between fear and faith.  One comes from God and the other comes from the imagination of a darkened soul:

Knowledge is divided into two kinds: – divine knowledge and satanic knowledge. One appears from the inspiration of the Ideal King; the other emanates from the imaginations of darkened souls. (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 23)

Fear and anxiety always project into the future, and they focus on something specific, perhaps a person or thing in our environment.  It’s true that imagination is a quality of the soul, but ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes a distinction between idle fancies and vain imaginations – one has fruit and the other doesn’t.

But many things come to the mind of man which are like the waves of the sea of imaginations; they have no fruit, and no result comes from them.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 252)

Fear is not real, though.  It’s just our lower nature at work. Once you understand that and separate yourself from fear, your quality of life will greatly improve.

Baha’u’llah doesn’t want us to make fear our god:

O My brother! Forsake thine own desires, turn thy face unto thy Lord, and walk not in the footsteps of those who have taken their corrupt inclinations for their god, that perchance thou mayest find shelter in the heart of existence, beneath the redeeming shadow of Him Who traineth all names and attributes.  (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 48-49)

Take heed lest thou cling to the cord of idle fancy and withhold thyself from that which hath been ordained in the Kingdom of God, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 62)

God asks us to have faith in Him, and to fear Him and nothing else:

Fear ye God and follow not your idle fancies and corrupt imaginings, but rather follow Him Who is come unto you invested with undeniable knowledge and unshakeable certitude.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 61)

When we don’t, we’re guilty of sin.

Fear is a lack of trust in God.  It makes us sinners because God told us not to fear.  If he tells us not to have fear and we do, it’s a sin, even though we might not want to think of it that way.

How do the Writings link sin and fear?  

Wash away, then, my sins, O my God, by Thy grace and bounty, and reckon me among such as are not overtaken by fear nor put to grief.  Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 212)

Before the throne of Thy oneness, amid the blaze of the beauty of Thy countenance, cause me to abide, for fear and trembling have violently crushed me. Beneath the ocean of Thy forgiveness, faced with the restlessness of the leviathan of glory, immerse me, for my sins have utterly doomed me.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 234)

God wants us to quaff from His teachings and not from the god of our idle fancies and vain imaginations:

Cleanse them, then, O my God, from all idle fancies and vain imaginations, that they may inhale the fragrances of sanctity from the robe of Thy Revelation and Thy commandment.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 307)

He wants us to secure His good pleasure, but we can’t do it if we have faith in the wrong thing:

The object of thy belief in God is but to secure His good-pleasure. How then dost thou seek as a proof of thy faith a thing which hath been and is contrary to His good-pleasure?  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 122)

It’s important that we understand that choosing to hold on to fear is sin.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that loss of faith is blameworthy because the soul is then overwhelmed by desires and passions, and man will become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible.

The differences among mankind are of two sorts: one is a difference of station, and this difference is not blameworthy. The other is a difference of faith and assurance; the loss of these is blameworthy, for then the soul is overwhelmed by his desires and passions, which deprive him of these blessings and prevent him from feeling the power of attraction of the love of God. Though that man is praiseworthy and acceptable in his station, yet as he is deprived of the perfections of that degree, he will become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130)

Nonetheless, most of us seem to learn by doing, and learn from our mistakes, and in this God is reassuring.  He tell us we are all sinners, so we shouldn’t be afraid of the word, or the label.  It’s just the reality of our life and everyone else’s too.

We are all sinners, and Thou art the Forgiver of sins, the Merciful, the Compassionate.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 176)

In the Tablet of Ahmad, it says “the wisdom of every command shall be tested” so how can we test the wisdom of God’s command if we don’t sin (make mistakes, fall short)?

Since the purpose of our lives is to know and love God, everything that happens to us is uniquely designed to bring us to this place.  We sin and feel the consequences so that we can recognize it, turn to God and ask His forgiveness.  This is where faith comes in.

Without faith, we’re bereft of all powers and blessings:

And now I give you a command­ment that shall be for a covenant between you and me – that ye have faith; that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no earthly storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end . . . As ye have faith so shall your powers and bless­ings be. This is the balance – this is the balance – this is the balance.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Readings, p. 313)

What you fear is headed your way because it’s a form of faith, but it’s not God’s faith.  It’s the faith in our lower nature and it has the power to overthrow God’s faith in our lives.

Fear is a lack of trust, and it says:

“God, you need help.  You’re not doing things fast enough.  You’re not answering the way I need you to answer.  I wonder if you’re going to answer at all?”

We may not be saying this in words but that’s what’s happening inside.

Fear is a form of insanity because it reminds you of what you are not; of what you don’t have and of all the things in your life that you did wrong or failed to do.  These thoughts get onto a hamster wheel that goes round and round, tormenting you for years!

Peace comes from God; fear comes from not believing God’s word and trusting it.  We don’t have to be afraid.  God loves us.  He brought us to whatever is in front of us today, and He will bring us through it.  He promises that victory always follows crisis.

[Life] brings each one of us crises as well as victories. Our own lives and even the lives of the central Figures of the Faith have been fraught with agony as well as blessing, with failure and frustration and grief, as frequently as with progress. This is the nature of life.  (Universal House of Justice, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

It may take years and needs lots of patience.  It’s important for us to see the end in the beginning, so we can hold on to our faith.

Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come.  In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree.  Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections, 40.3, p. 87)

If Fear is a form of faith and you believe what Fear says and not what God says, then according to your Fear-faith so be it unto you.  Both are demanding to be fulfilled.

Yesterday’s projected fear is here today. Today I have blessings and troubles from yesterday’s beliefs. What I’m feeling today is being projected onto tomorrow could be fulfilled.

Man must not imagine disease but must ever trust God. Anyway, a man’s life here in this world is temporary. He is in a world that is like a house, susceptible to every invasion, and God must protect man—man must be submissive to God. He must not occupy himself with things—imaginings. If a man thinks too much of his health, he will become afflicted.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Throne of the Inner Temple, p 22)

Is this truly what you want to have faith for?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggests it’s wise to avoid this kind of “fate”.

But conditional fate may be likened to this: while there is still oil, a violent wind blows on the lamp, which extinguishes it. This is a conditional fate. It is wise to avoid it, to protect oneself from it, to be cautious and circumspect.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.244)

How then do we acquire faith?  In the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzideh gives us some clues.

To achieve this exalted goal man needs to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and then observe His commandments with clear vision, mature reflection and a prayerful attitude. This can be achieved through deepening one’s knowledge of the Faith and in serving His Cause. It is then that the heart will become the recipient of the knowledge of God, and will attain certitude in its faith. It is then that obedience to the teachings of the Faith becomes wholehearted, as the individual grasps the significance of God’s commandments, and comes to understand their wisdom, their excellence and their necessity. It is then that his thoughts, his vision, his aspirations, his words, and his deeds will all be in harmony with the Covenant of God. And it is then that his soul will acquire spiritual qualities and virtues. This is the ultimate outcome of obedience to the Covenant, which will enable the soul to progress in the spiritual worlds of God.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 28)

To acquire faith man must cast out the ‘stranger’ from his heart. To the extent that he succeeds in doing this, he will acquire faith. Once the spark of faith is ignited within the heart it must be allowed to grow steadily into a flame, otherwise it could die because of attachment to this world.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 217-218)

Faith comes to a man through submission to God. The surrendering of the self with all its accomplishments renders the soul free of attachment to this mortal world. It drives the ‘stranger’ away from the heart and enables him to receive the ‘Friend’ within its sanctuary. Bahá’u’lláh states:  O Son of Man!  Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee… In another passage He reveals:  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.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 220)

To sum up these quotes, we need to:

  • recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age
  • observe His commandments with clear vision, mature reflection and a prayerful attitude.
  • deepen one’s knowledge of the Faith
  • serve His Cause.
  • cast out the ‘stranger’ from his heart.
  • allow the spark of faith to grow steadily into a flame
  • submission to God
  • surrendering of the self with all its accomplishments

It’s possible to have fear disguised as faith.

Have you ever heard a voice that sounds like it’s coming from God because it comes from the Writings? Be careful, because it could be your lower nature trying to trick you!  It’s a kind of fear-based faith; a counterfeit faith. It’s dangerous because it doesn’t come out of real believing, but out of a fear need.

For example: I suffer from the addiction of perfectionism.  My life so far has been so full of misery that I want to do everything in my power to ensure that the next life is better than this one.  Much of what I’ve done in the past to follow every single law and injunction has been for the wrong reasons.  It’s come out of fear of God’s punishment; that if I don’t do it all and do it right, I will be making the next world just as bad, or worse than this one.  As you can imagine, this hasn’t been much fun!

For years I was listening to the wrong Writings and using them to beat myself up, in the name of “calling myself to account”.  The abuse I was perpetrating on myself was far worse than anything anyone else had ever done to me!

The messages that I heard were that it was important to get off of disability and “earn my livelihood by my calling”, otherwise my life would “not bring forth fruit” and therefore only be “fit for the fire”.

Can you see how punitive this voice was?  Even though these quotes can all be found in the Writings, I was taking the wrong “remedy” and wondering why I was getting sicker.

One way to know if a voice is coming from your lower nature or from God is to ask yourself whether it’s loving or condemning.  God’s voice is always loving.  The voices I was listening to were definitely condemning!

I now know that God has another plan for me. Now I trust that my job is to be of service and His job is to look after the money.  I’m a lot less stressed, knowing He’s forgiven me and in His mercy, He’s kept me out of a workforce I’m not equipped to handle.

Here’s another example:

Fear took me all over North America looking for healing, in the name of faith. I was praying for healing and it wasn’t happening the way I thought it should, so I went from healer to healer trying to find the right one for me. It says in the Baha’i Writings that we are to find the best healer even if we have to go to another city to find one so at one point I even went to Hawaii to work with a Baha’i healer there.  I believed that God was being faithful to his word, because suddenly the money appeared so I could go. That’s what fear was doing to me.  I wanted to get healed but I didn’t know that my need was driven by fear. If you’d told me I would’ve denied it.  This was not God’s will at all, since I was putting my faith in the healer and not in the “Divine Physician” and His “Divine Remedy.”  By sharing these teachings with you, I hope you’ll know where and how to look for and apply the right “remedy” for your anxiety!

Conclusion:

Every time we turn from fear to faith, we can hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cheering us on:

Thy letter was like a perfumed nosegay and from that nosegay the fragrance of faith and assurance was inhaled. Well done! Well done! that thou hast turned thy face toward the invisible Kingdom. Excellent! Excellent that thou art attracted to the Beauty of His Highness the Almighty! Well done! Well done! How happy thou art that thou hast attained to this Most Great Gift!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 530)

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

 

What stood out for you as you read this?  Post your comments here: