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Avoiding Addictions

 O ye, God’s loved ones! Experience hath shown how greatly the renouncing of smoking, of intoxicating drink, and of opium, conduceth to health and vigour, to the expansion and keenness of the mind and to bodily strength. There is today a people who strictly avoid tobacco, intoxicating liquor and opium. This people is far and away superior to the others, for strength and physical courage, for health, beauty and comeliness. A single one of their men can stand up to ten men of another tribe. This hath proved true of the entire people: that is, mem­ber for member, each individual of this community is in every respect superior to the individuals of other communities. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p 150)

When I first came into the Faith, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t continue my moderate social drinking.  I didn’t drink much but when I was with friends, having a nice meal, I loved red wine and when I was just hanging out, I was particularly fond of brown cows.  I was willing to accept the laws, though, even if I couldn’t embrace them, trusting that God knows more than I do what’s best for me.  That’s why I loved finding this Writing so much, because it explains why:

If I give up smoking, alcohol and drugs, I will have more health and energy.  My mind will be clearer and I’ll be stronger in my body.  I might even be among those who have the most courage and beauty, inside and out, and even, in God’s eyes, superior to others.  But what about other addictive behaviors?

For example, if I give up my addiction to work, perfectionism, people-pleasing, caretaking, approval-seeking, drivenness, adrenalizing, control, manipulation, fear, self-will, self-pity, disappointment and many of the other areas of my life where I put my addictions before my relationship with God, would my life improve too?

We know that every word of the Writings has 70+1 meanings, so I believe that this quote can mean for all addictions.

Giving up the things I’m attached to, opens me up to a better life than I can imagine, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

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Selfish Desires

In other words, the heart that partakes of the outpouring grace of the Holy Spirit and becomes sanctified is made goodly and pure. The purpose is that the reality of man be purified and sanctified from the defilements of the world of nature, which are vile attributes such as anger, lust, worldliness, pride, dishonesty, hypocrisy, deceit, self-love, and so on.  Man cannot free himself from the onslaught of vain and selfish desires save through the confirming grace of the Holy Spirit.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 19)

We’ve all got vain and selfish desires.  We were created that way, by a loving God.  There’s nothing special about us or anyone else in that regard.  We are all sinners.  We all have vile attributes such as anger, lust, worldliness, pride, dishonesty, hypocrisy, deceit, self-love, and so on, so it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  There’s no need to make ourselves better or worse than others, when we see their defects and can’t see our own.  The trick is what do we do about them?

First we have to recognize when we are acting from our lower natures and understand that we have a choice to continue to stay stuck or use the opportunity to “partake” of the outpouring grace of the Holy Spirit.  We can remember that our purpose in life is to draw closer to God, and acquire the virtues we’re going to need in the next world.  How can we do that without tests, without opportunities to grow?  We can’t do it by ourselves.  We can only do it by turning to God and asking Him to transform anger into forgiveness; lust into detachment; worldliness into nearness to God; pride into humility; dishonesty into truthfulness; hypocrisy into sincerity; deceit into trustworthiness; self-love into service and so on.  Remembering and asking must be followed by faith and trust and acceptance of the ourpouring grace that is continually streaming forth for us.

Remembering that transforming my selfish desires is a full-time job that pays huge dividends in both this world and the next, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Hardship

. . . if thy daily living become difficult, soon thy Lord will bestow upon thee that which will satisfy thee. Be patient in time of affliction and trial, endure every difficulty and hardship with a dilated heart, attracted spirit and eloquent tongue in remembrance of the Merciful. Verily this is the life of satisfaction, the spiritual existence, heavenly repose, divine benediction and the celestial table! Soon thy Lord will extenuate thy straitened circumstances even in this world!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 93)

We all have times in life that are difficult.  That’s how we grow spiritually and attain our purpose in life, which is to draw closer to God and acquire the virtues we need in the next life.  In the middle of these times, though, it’s hard to remember.  We often compare ourselves with others, who seem to slide through life with a silver spoon.  Envy only makes things worse.  Here we see what we need to remember:

  • It won’t last forever
  • In the meantime, be patient
  • Endure these times with a dilated heart, attracted spirit and eloquent tongue in remembrance of God

Not only will this make the tests easier to bear, they give us a life of satisfaction, spiritual existence, heavenly repose, divine benediction and the celestial table. That seems reason enough to stop complaining and change my attitude!

Knowing how to survive times of hardship, 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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Body Image

O Son of Man! The temple of being is My throne; cleanse it of all things, that there I may be established and there I may abide.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 58)

I was in a woman’s crisis shelter shortly after my book Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies had been published.  One of the women in the shelter picked it up and randomly read this quote.  I’ll never forget her comment:  “If I could believe that this quote was true, my struggles with eating disorders would end.”  Such is the power of the transformative words of God.

When I read it I think of my home as my temple, and how I feel peaceful when it’s orderly, organized, clean and tidy.  It’s not a stretch to believe that if I want more peace in my life I need to cleanse my heart of all things (anger, jealousy, bitterness, envy, criticism, suspicion, apathy, lethargy, gossip, backbiting etc), so that it’s a welcoming place for God to reside.

Lately I’m thinking a lot about “being” and “doing”.  Note that this quote talks about the temple of “being” not the temple of “doing”.  I think it means that God wants our company and nearness through prayer, meditation and work done in the spirit of service.  He doesn’t want our “doing” through manipulation and control, approval seeking, people pleasing, caretaking or immersion in all the temptations a materialistic lifestyle has to offer.

Knowing God wants to “be” with me, I can create a clean place inside and out for Him to reside 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

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Aligning with the Will of God 

The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfill his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and a Devotional Attitude, p. 239)

I used to have a relationship with God that was kind of like my relationship with Santa Claus.  I’d come to Him with a list of things I wanted and hoped that if I was very good, He’d give them to me.  This was a problem as a child, when my wishes were mostly centred on getting Him to stop the abuse and when it got worse, I stopped believing in God.  I’m glad that phase of my life only lasted 10 years!  But even as a Bahá’í, for many years, I didn’t make the link between what I was praying for in person, and what I was praying for when reciting the prayers from the prayer book.  I still wanted what I wanted, and believed that if I was the perfect Bahá’í, He’d give me what I asked for.  Sometimes He did and sometimes I felt like He was playing “Whack a Mole” with me.

With spiritual maturity, I’ve come to understand that all the tests He sent me were actually gifts in disguise.  We can’t grow spiritually without tests.  Think back on the darkest days of your life and see what virtues got you through and you’ll see what I mean.  I love that in Ruhi Book 1 we’re asked to develop the discipline of studying prayers with someone.  From this activity, I learned to dissect the prayer and look at what we’re really asking for when we repeat it.

I’ve also come to realize that with expectations come disappointments, and when I’m expecting a certain result, I’m in self-will, actually telling God what He can do for me.  So I love this reminder that when I ask God to make my wishes and desires conform to His will, I will feel that inner sense of peace and contentment which makes blesses my life and the lives of those around me.

Remembering to conform my will to God’s will, 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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