Select Page

Whenever I introduce the concept of sin in a Bahá’í gathering, I can see and feel the collective intake of breath, fear, condemnation and judgement.  “We don’t have sin the Bahá’í Faith”, people say.  “We only focus on the positive.  That’s a Christian topic, not a Bahá’í one.  I didn’t join the Bahá’í Faith to hear about sin”, and so on.  I want to open up a dialogue to try to help us see sin differently than we might have been taught in the past.  You might like to start this series by first reading Why I Love the  Concept of Sin.

In the Bahá’í Writings, sin could be defined as 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)

Every minute of every day we all think, do and say things that are in direct contradiction of the life God wants us to live.  How do we know this?  The Báb teaches us the standard in this prayer:

I beg Thee to forgive me, O my Lord, for every mention but the mention of Thee, and for every praise but the praise of Thee, and for every delight but delight in Thy nearness, and for every pleasure but the pleasure of communion with Thee, and for every joy but the joy of Thy love and of Thy good-pleasure, and for all things pertaining unto me which bear no relationship unto Thee, O Thou Who art the Lord of lords, He Who provideth the means and unlocketh the doors.  (The Bab, Baha’i Prayers, p. 79)

I can’t think of a single person who lives a life in which their:

  • Only mention is of God
  • Only praise is of God
  • Only delight is in God’s nearness
  • Only pleasure is in communing with God

Yet this is the standard we’re to strive for; and anything less is disobedience and sin.

We are all sinners:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:

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)

This teaching is incredibly liberating when we understand it.  It means God knows that we’re going to fall short.  It’s just a given.

It’s nothing to shy away from or pretend doesn’t exist.  When we can acknowledge this truth about ourselves; and about others, we can make true progress towards healing and forgiveness.

I’m a sinner; you’re a sinner; we’re all sinners; and it’s all part of God’s creation and design.

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)

We need sins as a contrast:

If none be found to stray from Thy path, how, then, can the ensign of Thy mercy be unfurled, or the banner of Thy bountiful favour be hoisted? And if iniquity be not committed, what is it that can proclaim Thee to be the Concealer of men’s sins, the Ever-Forgiving, the Omniscient, the All-Wise? (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp. 310-311)

 What Qualities Are Defined As Sin?

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, Star of the West, Volume 10 – Issue 7)

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 the good deeds we do are considered by God as sins when performed by those at a higher station:

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

This suggests that as we draw closer to God, His expectations of us are higher.

Many of us struggle with thoughts and feelings we don’t recognize as coming from our lower nature, so we can’t change them.  But when we know that they are “sins”, and can recognize them as they arise, and ask God for His forgiveness, we can rid ourselves of them.

Here are some quotes you can memorize, to help you recognize the truth, so that when one of these idle thoughts raises their ugly heads, you’ll have some ammunition to conquer them:

 

Abandonment Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 13)
Advancing self over others Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 94)
Anger Anger doth burn the liver: avoid [it] as you would a lion.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 460)
Antagonism (means rivalry, resentment, ill will) Antagonism and contradiction are unfortunate and always destructive to truth.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 72)
Anxiety O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.  (Author Unknown[i][1], Baha’i Prayers, p. 151)
Apathy (means indifference, boredom, laziness, lack of concern) Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than . . . apathy, among the loved ones of God. 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)

Ponder and reflect. Is it thy wish to die upon thy bed, or to shed thy life-blood on the dust, a martyr in My path, and so become the manifestation of My command and the revealer of My light in the highest paradise? Judge thou aright, O servant!  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 46)

Approval Seeking ’Abdu’l-Bahá is reported to have said: . . . at all times seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, June 24, 1915)
Argue The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.  (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 17-18)
Attachment to the material world For attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits, and this bondage is identical with sin . . . It is because of this attachment that men have been deprived of essential spirituality and exalted position.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 123)
Avarice (Greed) Well is it with him whom the fleeting vanities of the world have not deprived of a lasting adornment, and whom avarice and negligence have not shut out from the illumination of the sun of trustworthiness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 335)
Betrayal The disintegration of basic institutions of social order . . . the betrayal of the life of the mind through surrender to ideologies as squalid as they have been empty . . .  are only the more obvious in a catalogue of horrors unknown to even the darkest of ages past.  (Commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 8)
Bitterness When our thoughts are filled with the bitterness of this world, let us turn our eyes to the sweetness of God’s compassion and He will send us heavenly calm!   (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111)
Blame It behoveth you, therefore, to attach blame to no one except to yourselves, for the things ye have committed, if ye but judge fairly.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 222-223)
Boasting The children of God do the works without boasting, obeying His laws . . . This is what the near approach to God requires from you, and this is what I expect of you.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 17)
Bribery Those souls who are employed in government should approach their duties with entire detachment, integrity and independence of spirit, and with complete consecration and sanctity of purpose. Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 454)
Contention (means argument, debate, controversy) Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than . . . contention . . . among the loved ones of God. 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)

The worldwide undertakings on which the Cause of God is embarked are far too significant, the need of the peoples of the world for the Message of Bahá’u’lláh far too urgent, the perils facing mankind far too grave, the progress of events far too swift, to permit His followers to squander their time and efforts in fruitless contention. Now, if ever, is the time for love among the friends, for unity of understanding and endeavor, for self-sacrifice and service by Bahá’ís in every part of the world.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)

Corruption If, however, he abuse his position through corrupt or mercenary behaviour, he will be held in detestation at the Threshold of Grandeur and incur the wrath of the Abha Beauty — nay, he shall be forsaken by the one true God and all who adore Him.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 344)
Covetousness Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 50)
Cruelty The domestic animals do not manifest hatred and cruelty toward each other; that is the attribute of the wild and ferocious beasts. In a flock of one thousand sheep you will witness no bloodshed. Numberless species of birds are peaceful in flocks. Wolves, lions, tigers are ferocious because it is their natural and necessary means for obtaining food. Man has no need of such ferocity; his food is provided in other ways. Therefore it is evident that warfare, cruelty and bloodshed in the kingdom of man are caused by human greed, hatred and selfishness.    (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 24)
Deception (means trickery, fraud, con) Any form of intrigue, deception, collusion and compulsion must be stopped and is forbidden.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 12)
Depression Be thou not unhappy; the tempest of sorrow shall pass; regret will not last; disappointment will vanish; the fire of the love of God will become enkindled, and the thorns and briars of sadness and despondency will be consumed! Be thou happy; rest thou assured upon the favors of Bahá’, so that uncertainty and hesitation may become non-existent and the invisible outpourings descend upon the arena of being!    (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 557)
Dishonesty Should anyone, God forbid, manifest one iota of dishonesty . . . 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, 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)
Dispute Dispute not with any one concerning the things of this world and its affairs, for God hath abandoned them to such as have set their affection upon them.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 279)
Dissension (means opposition, rebellion, conflict) Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension . . . among the loved ones of God. 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)

Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families. Therefore as strife and dissension destroy a family and prevent its progress, so nations are destroyed and advancement hindered.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 100)

Doubt Know thou of a certainty that thy Lord will come to thine aid with a company of the Concourse on high and hosts of the Abhá Kingdom.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 43)
Envy Know, verily, the heart wherein the least remnant of envy yet lingers, shall never attain My everlasting dominion, nor inhale the sweet savors of holiness breathing from My kingdom of sanctity.(Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 6)
Estrangement (means rift, separation) Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than . . . estrangement . . . among the loved ones of God. 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)

Reflect ye as to other than human forms of life and be ye admonished thereby: those clouds that drift apart cannot produce the bounty of the rain, and are soon lost; a flock of sheep, once scattered, falleth prey to the wolf, and birds that fly alone will be caught fast in the claws of the hawk. What greater demonstration could there be that unity leadeth to flourishing life, while dissension and withdrawing from the others, will lead only to misery; for these are the sure ways to bitter disappointment and ruin.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 278)

Extortion If, God forbid, he should be guilty of the least breach of trust, or approach his duties in a slack or desultory fashion, or extort so much as a farthing from the populace, or seek to further his own selfish interests and personal gain — then it is certain that he shall be deprived of the outpourings of God’s grace.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 341)
Fanaticism (means extremeism) The source of all these catastrophes is racial fanaticism, patriotic fanaticism, religious fanaticism and political fanaticism. The source of these fanaticisms is ancient imitations, religious imitations, racial imitations, patriotic imitations, and political imitations. As long as following such imitations persists, the very foundation of humanity is wrecked and the world of man is in great jeopardy.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root)
Fear Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety.  (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 60)
Fraud Content with the wages they are receiving, they should see that they do not stain their fair character through acts of bribery and fraud. Were one of the friends in this day to misappropriate so much as a single penny, the sacred mantle of God’s Cause would become sullied by his action and the shame of it would attach to the whole community.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 344)
Gluttony In all circumstances they should conduct themselves with moderation; if the meal be only one course this is more pleasing in the sight of God; however, according to their means, they should seek to have this single dish be of good quality.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Lights of Guidance, p. 294)
Gossip ’Abdu’l-Bahá is reported to have said:  I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of Divine Wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonored among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding.   (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. IV, No. 11, p. 192)
Greed Why, then, exhibit such greed in amassing the treasures of the earth, when your days are numbered and your chance is well-nigh lost? Will ye not, then, O heedless ones, shake off your slumber?  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 127)
Guilt Commit not, O people, that which will bring shame upon you or dishonor the Cause of God in the eyes of men, and be not of the mischief-makers. Approach not the things which your minds condemn. Eschew all manner of wickedness, for such things are forbidden unto you in the Book which none touch except such as God hath cleansed from every taint of guilt, and numbered among the purified.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 277-278)
Hatred I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)
Haughtiness (means conceit, pride, self-importance) Put away the garment of vainglory, and divest yourselves of the attire of haughtiness.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 47)
Holding grudges  . . . that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Baha’. This is the foundation of the most high pathway! Ye should conform your conduct and manners with the advices of Abdul-Baha. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 373)
Hypocrisy It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 1)
Idle Talk 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)
Ignorance Man must free himself from the weeds of ignorance, thorns of superstitions and thistles of imitations, that he may discover reality in the harvests of true knowledge. Otherwise the discovery of reality is impossible, contention and divergence of religious belief will always remain and mankind, like ferocious wolves will rage and attack each other in hatred and antagonism. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 76)
Imitation Man must free himself from the . . . thistles of imitations, that he may discover reality in the harvests of true knowledge. Otherwise the discovery of reality is impossible.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 76)
Injustice 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)
Insincerity Suffer not your idle fancies, your evil passions, your insincerity and blindness of heart to dim the luster, or stain the sanctity, of so lofty a station.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 326)
Isolation Seclude yourselves in the stronghold of My love. This, verily, is a befitting seclusion, were ye of them that perceive it. He that shutteth himself up in a house is indeed as one dead. It behoveth man to show forth that which will profit all created things, and he that bringeth forth no fruit is fit for fire.  (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 49)
Jealousy Jealousy consumeth the body . . . avoid [it] as you would a lion.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 460)
Judgmentalism Therefore, no one should glorify himself over another; no one should manifest pride or superiority toward another; no one should look upon another with scorn and contempt; and no one should deprive or oppress a fellow creature.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 62)
Laxity (means carelessness, sloppiness) Should anyone, God forbid , . . . show laxity . . . in carrying out his duties . . . 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)

All of them, be they men or women, must, at this threatening hour when the lights of religion are fading out, and its restraints are one by one being abolished, pause to examine themselves, scrutinize their conduct, and with characteristic resolution arise to purge the life of their community of every trace of moral laxity that might stain the name, or impair the integrity, of so holy and precious a Faith.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 29)

Loneliness There is no harm in thy loneliness in those regions; for verily, the hosts of confirmation are thy help, thy Glorious Lord is thy protector and the angels of the Kingdom are thy fellow-speakers. Glad-tidings be unto thee for this! Blessed art thou for this!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 61)
Love of luxury and comfort Otherwise, woe and misery to the soul that seeketh after comforts, riches, and earthly delights while neglecting to call God to mind! (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 240)
Lust Bahá’u’lláh, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, has exhorted us not to indulge our passions and in one of His well-known Tablets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá encourage us to keep our “secret thoughts pure”.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 364)
Lying If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, countervail them; nay its evils would even outweigh them and its detriment prove greater. It were better for thee that thou shouldst be a blasphemer and tell the truth than that thou shouldst mouth the formulas of faith and yet be a liar.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Trustworthiness, p. 12.)
Malice For malice is a grievous malady which depriveth man from recognizing the Great Being, and debarreth him from the splendors of the sun of certitude. We pray and hope that through the grace and mercy of God He may remove this mighty obstacle. He, verily, is the Potent, the All-Subduing, the Almighty.  (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 96)
Materialism You see all round you proofs of the inadequacy of material things — how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of the world. Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual Kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111)
Negativity You certainly have no right to feel negative; you have embraced this glorious Faith and arisen with devotion to serve it, and your labours are greatly appreciated by both the Guardian and your fellow-Bahá’ís. With something as positive as the Faith and all it teaches behind you, you should be a veritable lion of confidence, and he will pray that you may become so.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)
Neglect There are many things which will, if neglected, be wasted, and come to nothing.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 3)

Neglect not My commandments if thou lovest My beauty, and forget not My counsels if thou wouldst attain My good pleasure.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 39)

This is the work of a true Bahá’í, and this is what is expected of him. If we strive to do all this, then are we true Bahá’ís, but if we neglect it, we are not followers of the Light, and we have no right to the name.  God, who sees all hearts, knows how far our lives are the fulfillment of our words.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 81)

Negligence (careless, inattention) Should anyone, God forbid, manifest one iota of . . . negligence in carrying out his duties . . . 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)

But alas! man is not grateful for this supreme good, but sleeps the sleep of negligence, being careless of the great mercy which God has shown towards him, turning his face away from the light and going on his way in darkness.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 20)

Passion (means obsession, rage) We must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the path of God.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 512)
Perfectionism We humans are never going to become perfect, for perfection belongs to a realm we are not destined to enter. (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)
Prejudice If we allow prejudice of any kind to manifest itself in us, we shall be guilty before God of causing a setback to the progress and real growth of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh. It is incumbent upon every believer to endeavour with a fierce determination to eliminate this defect from his thoughts and acts.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 529)
Pride As to him who turneth aside, and swelleth with pride, after that the clear tokens have come unto him, from the Revealer of signs, his work shall God bring to naught.   (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 60)
Remiss (means careless, inattentive, negligent) We ourselves have been remiss and we should have sought Your protection before; in any case we come now to implore Your pardon and help.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 111)
Securing private gains Bahá’ís will become known to all as people . . . whose concern is to serve the common good, not to advance their own interests, and whose aim is to further the welfare and prosperity of the people, not to foster their own well-being.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 340)
Self-desire Verily, those who withhold themselves from the shelter of the Branch are indeed lost in the wilderness of perplexity; and are consumed by the heat of self-desire, and are of those who perish.  (Baha’u’llah, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 205)
Self-hatred and self-pity O ye roses in the garden of God’s love! O ye bright lamps in the assemblage of His knowledge! May the soft breathings of God pass over you, may the Glory of God illumine the horizon of your hearts. Ye are the waves of the deep sea of knowledge, ye are the massed armies on the plains of certitude, ye are the stars in the skies of God’s compassion, ye are the stones that put the people of perdition to flight, ye are clouds of divine pity over the gardens of life, ye are the abundant grace of God’s oneness that is shed upon the essences of all created things.  On the outspread tablet of this world, ye are the verses of His singleness; and atop lofty palace towers, ye are the banners of the Lord. In His bowers are ye the blossoms and sweet-smelling herbs, in the rose garden of the spirit the nightingales that utter plaintive cries. Ye are the birds that soar upward into the firmament of knowledge, the royal falcons on the wrist of God.  Why then are ye quenched, why silent, why leaden and dull?   (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 265)
Self Interest If they accept office, their motive is to render service to the whole of humanity, not to seek their own self-interest; and their object is to vindicate the cause of truth, not to give themselves over to self-indulgence and base ingratitude.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 342)
Selfishness But if he show the slightest taint of selfish desires and self love, his efforts will lead to nothing and he will be destroyed and left hopeless at the last.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 71)
Sensuality In other words, the spirituality of the Religion of God had been changed into materiality, and virtues into vices; the love of God had been changed into hatred, enlightenment into darkness, divine qualities into satanic ones, justice into tyranny, mercy into enmity, sincerity into hypocrisy, guidance into error, and purity into sensuality.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 54)
Strife (means conflict, friction, rivalry) Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than . . . strife . . . among the loved ones of God. 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)

Gird up the loins of your endeavor, O people of Bahá, that haply the tumult of religious dissension and strife that agitateth the peoples of the earth may be stilled, that every trace of it may be completely obliterated.  (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13)

Suspicion Take heed that your words be purged from idle fancies and worldly desires and your deeds be cleansed from craftiness and suspicion.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 138)
Tyranny O ignorant one that hath been shut out as by a veil from God. Thou hast clung to tyranny, and cast away justice; whereupon all created things have lamented, and still thou art among the wayward . . . By God! The things thou possessest shall profit thee not, nor what thou hast laid up through thy cruelty. Unto this beareth witness thy Lord, the All-Knowing.  (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 102)
Ungodliness The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Persian Hidden Words 56)
Unfaithfulness Ya-Baha’u’l-Abha! I have forsaken the world and its people, am heartbroken because of the unfaithful, and am weary.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 433)
Unworthy thoughts One act of unfaithfulness — even a glance betraying the insincerity of the individual or an unworthy thought emanating from his mind — is as painful torture to Him.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 3, p. 233)
Usury (overcharging interest on moneylending) We have, according to the text of the Book, forbidden unto all men the practice of usury.   (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 192)

[1] With regard to the status of the prayer, “O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit” . . . all attempts to locate the original text of the prayer have, so far, proved unsuccessful. In the absence of the text it is not possible to authenticate, completely, the prayer in question.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual, 5 June 2006)

How has this helped advance your understanding?  Post your comments below.