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The Spiritual Forces at Our Disposal

Above all, the friends need to remain ever conscious of the magnitude of the spiritual forces that are at their disposition. They are members of a community “whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions, secular as well as religious, are for the most part dissolving”. Of all the peoples of the world, “they alone can recognize, amidst the welter of a tempestuous age, the Hand of the Divine Redeemer that traces its course and controls its destinies. They alone are aware of the silent growth of that orderly world polity whose fabric they themselves are weaving.  (27 December 2005, Universal house of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Counsellors)

As I watch so many terrible things unfold as the world continues its relentless descent into darkness as the Old World Order is being rolled up, my prayers and the prayers of people all over the world intensify.  I’ve been encouraged time after time, at the soft landing of many events which could have unfolded much more disastrously than they have, and I’m reminded of this quote.  We do trust that we have spiritual forces at our disposal, which is why we pray, both individually and collectively in our devotional gatherings.

What I often forget, though, is that we Bahá’ís are members of a community “whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions . . . are . . . dissolving”; and that we alone “can recognize . . . the Hand of the Divine Redeemer that traces its course and controls its destinies; and that we alone are aware of the silent growth of that orderly world . . . whose fabric we ourselves are weaving.

I so often take for granted that my puny efforts are weaving the fabric of the new world order.  I forget that my little efforts at prayers and the core activities and other undertakings of our Bahá’í community are being supported by spiritual forces I can call on, at all times.  Remembering that is what keeps me going.

Knowing that the Hand of the Divine Redeemer is tracing the course of world events and controls its destinies, I can relax and I am grateful!

 

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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Withstanding Physical, Mental and Emotional Storms

O ye beloved of God! When the winds blow severely, rains fall fiercely, the lightening flashes, the thunder roars, the bolt descends and storms of trial become severe, grieve not; for after this storm, verily, the divine spring will arrive, the hills and fields will become verdant, the expanses of grain will joyfully wave, the earth will become covered with blossoms, the trees will be clothed with green garments and adorned with blossoms and fruits. Thus blessings become manifest in all countries. These favors are results of those storms and hurricanes.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 12-13)

In the most recent letter of the House of Justice (25 November 2020), they made reference to the “furious storms lashing humanity.”   I could certainly relate!  This phrase resonated very deeply as I feel like my tests have accelerated mightily since COVID hit, and just when I think I’ve got a handle on one test, six more challenging ones pop up.  So today’s quote really helps remind me that not only are severe trials an inevitable part of life, the divine spring that follows is God’s favor for riding the wave of the storms and hurricanes.

In the same letter, they also noted “Your resilience and your unwavering commitment to the well-being of those around you, persistent through all difficulties, have filled us with tremendous hope. But it is no wonder that, in some other quarters, hope has become a depleted resource.”  I think the reason hope has become a depleted resource is that people expect that a good life is one continuous summer, without tests, but nature proves otherwise.  In the depths of winter, when everything is cold and seemingly dead, it’s hard to remember that spring will come again.  I need these reminders over and over because I forget, and when I forget, it’s hard to elevate conversations with those who’ve lost hope, and impossible to ensure the well-being of those around us.

Knowing there’s hope for better days ahead following life’s tests, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Be Happy

 

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God is My Companion and Always Near

If the friends and relatives are keeping themselves at a dis­tance from thee, be thou not sad, for God is near to thee. Associate thou, as much as thou canst, with the relatives and strangers; display thou loving kindness; show thou forth the utmost patience and resignation. The more they oppose thee, shower thou upon them the greater justice and equity; the more they show hatred and opposition toward thee, challenge thou them with great truthfulness, friendship and rec­onciliation.  Praise be to God, thou art near to the Kingdom of Abhá! Rest thou assured. With all my soul and spirit, I am thy companion at all moments. Know thou this of a certainty!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 557-558)

I don’t know about you but I’m suffering COVID fatigue.  I’m tired of being obedient to the government when all my friends, including Bahá’ís, are going about their business as usual.  I’m tired of judging them and tired of judging myself for judging them.  I hate that this pandemic has divided the world, at a time when we need to acknowledge our oneness more than ever.  I hate that I’m engaging in the great divide and I hate the separation that’s growing between my friends and I because I choose to stay home and stay safe and keep everyone else safe around me.  Am I a good Bahá’í or a screwed-up victim of trauma, needing obedience in order to stay safe?  I think about these things and ask myself these questions a lot, especially as we head into a second lockdown.

So on Christmas day, despite of feeling sorry for myself, and with this quote in mind, I played secret Santa, putting candy canes at the doors of all the apartments in my building, and giving little presents to those who are least liked, so that everyone would get a little gift at a time when we all need gifts the most.  I called people who were also alone on this day.  I’m attempting to make peace with those whose choices differ from mine.  It’s the best I can do today.

I’m truly blessed because I have the greatest gift of all, in my recognition of the Manifestation of God for this age, and as isolated, alone and lonely as I feel, I know of a certainty that God is with me and is my companion at all moments.  Most of my neighbors don’t have that and are trying to get through the season without.  Please God, help them feel your presence through my prayers and my puny efforts to be the person you want me to be.  Please God, let me forgive my friends, and myself.

Knowing that God knows my limitations, loves me, forgives me and is patient with me, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Promoting Spiritual Growth

The consultative process itself promotes personal growth and collective solidarity, indispensable elements in true development.  (Bahá’í International Community, Report on Rural Poverty Alleviation Efforts in Asia and the Pacific, Focusing on Activities for Disadvantaged Women, paragraph 6.1.2.)

As someone committed to personal growth, I found this quote linking consultation to personal growth and its indispensability to the community development work fascinating.  True personal growth is not about buying a book and letting it sit on your shelf at home or attending a seminar and feeling like you’ve accomplished something.  The Faith teaches us that growth is so much more than that.  Transformation involves the knowledge of God and acquiring virtues.  The closer we come to God, the more severe our tests become and continuing to make a commitment to staying close to the Covenant and committing to make each day better than the day before can be difficult, especially if we allow ourselves to get distracted by the changes and chances of a rapidly declining old world order.

I’m coming to really appreciate how prayerful reflection in consultation with others can help us take our spiritual growth to the next level, by helping us set realistic and attainable goals, create plans to achieve them and identify and resolve problems as they arise.  Consultation can help us recognize and describe our feelings, give and receive feedback and recognize assumptions. Consultation helps us explore our identity, talents and potential, as well as dreams and aspirations. It develops us physically, mentally, spiritually and intellectually.  The more we improve and the closer we come to God, we will eagerly want to use our full potentials to benefit ourselves and others. New skills and talents will be discovered. Old relationships will be strengthened and new ones easily formed.  All of this works together to give us a boost in self-image and self-confidence.

Personal growth expands our frame of reference to include the people around us instead of becoming more self-centered. As our world expands, so does our awareness of the possibilities and opportunities around us. This possibility mindset fills us with an attitude of eager anticipation as we start each new day.

Knowing the benefits of consultation to growth and development, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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How to Deal with Internet Trolls

In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated.  Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate the reality with the greatest love and fellowship. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 177, #581)

Has COVID polarized people’s opinions and increased the number of “trolls” on social media or am I just noticing them now?  Perhaps I’m naïve but when I read people’s comments on Facebook (my first mistake), I believe that they are sharing their opinions, and I can accept them as such, even when they are diametrically opposed to mine.  Recently however, I’ve learned that some people (referred to as trolls):  post things to disrupt or to gain attention; confine their comments to primitive, profane, off-topic observations; spout gibberish in the hopes that they’ll either bore or confuse those with whom they disagree and/or seek refuge in condescending remarks that scorn their critics while continuing to respond to them and put them down.  I’m absolutely baffled by this behavior!  Apparently they do it for their own amusement, or to push a specific agenda.

As Baha’is, we now know that our job in any discussion is to:

  • look toward the reality without being self-opinionated
  • don’t assert and insist upon your own opinion
  • investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship

As we’re learning to do these things, we must also train the people around us.  We can do this by not replying or attempting to engage in debate with those not willing to behave this way, even on (or especially on) Baha’i forums. By ignoring a troll completely, they will likely become frustrated and go somewhere else.  Understanding that not everyone is genuinely trying to find truth in sharing their opinions; and knowing I don’t have to convince them of anything and just leave them to God, lowers my anxiety.

Knowing that my job is to investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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