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Why Do Children Have to Suffer from Evil?

On this plane of existence, there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom. Among these are heart-rending trials of the innocent …. With regard to the spiritual significance of the suffering of children ‘who are afflicted at the hands of the oppressor’, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not only states that for those souls ‘the afflictions that they bear in life become a cause for them of …. an outpouring of divine mercy and bestowal’, He also explains that to be a recipient of God’s mercy is ‘preferable to a hundred thousand earthly comforts’, and He promised that ‘in the world to come a mighty recompense awaiteth such souls’. Much, indeed, might be said upon this theme, and upon how the afflictions that they bear in life become the cause for them of such an outpouring of Divine mercy and bestowal as is preferable to a hundred thousand comforts and to a world of growth and development in this transitory abode.  (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual, 2 December 1985)

A few years ago, I was concerned about a child who seemed to be suffering from neglect and abuse and I tried to get help, only to be told “it’s OK.  He’ll grow out of it.  Children are resilient.”  This really triggered my own experience.  I don’t think it’s OK.  I certainly didn’t grow out of it and at that time, I didn’t at all feel resilient because of it.  This bothered me for many years, until I found this quote.  From it I learned that:

  • there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom, including the suffering of children at the hands of the oppressors
  • many details are connected with it
  • a mighty recompense awaits them in the next world, including an outpouring of divine mercy and bestowal
  • their suffering is preferable to all the comfort of this world
  • it’s preferable to all the growth and development they may have missed in this world
  • it’s preferable to a hundred thousand earthly comforts

I gather that this information comes from tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha not yet translated, and I’d love to read the whole quote, but I’m so happy that the House of Justice summarized it.  This helps me to accept that God’s aware of this problem, so I can let go of my need to look for justice in this world.  It also helps me be patient through all the tests and spiritual growth that stems from my childhood abuse.

I wasn’t able to help that child; and no one was there to help me as a child but knowing that God saw it all and there will be compensation, 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 Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

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How We Meditate  

It is incumbent upon you to ponder in your hearts and meditate upon His words, and humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause. These are the things that will make of you signs of guidance unto all mankind, and brilliant stars shining down from the all-highest horizon, and towering trees in the Abhá Paradise.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 241)

Recently someone on a 12-step meeting challenged me about how I meditate, claiming that the only legitimate form of meditation is to focus on the breath.  I’ve certainly tried that kind of sitting meditation in the past, but it only caused agitation and even panic attacks.  I always thought there was something wrong with me, until recently several articles serendipitously crossed my path indicating that this is a frequent problem for those who’ve experienced trauma, particularly at a young age.  Mindfulness meditation can reopen these old wounds, and without appropriate support, those who’ve experienced trauma can easily find themselves flooded by flashbacks of deeply painful experiences.  Learning this helped me to accept that the ways I meditate are legitimate.

So what is legitimate meditation for Baha’is?  For years, I considered anything I do to improve the ways I know and worship God to be my meditation.  Sometimes it might be through listening to my YouTube playlist of Bahá’í Prayers and Writings set to music; or doing yoga or mindfully walking in the forest and hugging a tree or journaling my heart out (or even napping, where I pour my heart out to God).  All of these help me to slow down long enough to listen to the quiet, gentle and loving voice of God, guiding my movement and my stillness.

On the heels of this awareness, I came across a discussion in a Bahá’í group on Facebook, about how Bahá’ís meditate and lots of ideas were generated but not one person put forward the above quote and I wondered why.  It seems to answer the question once and for all.  Anything else we do can only be secondary to pondering and meditating on the words of God AND humbly to call upon Him, and to put away self in His heavenly Cause.

Knowing the meaning of Bahá’í meditation, I can relax into it, 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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Inviting Others to Help with Decision Making

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A Bahá’í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; . . . he may prefer to seek the council of individual friends or of professional counselors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Bahá’í asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.  (The Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 179, #589)

Have I mentioned lately how much I LOVE this Faith?  Quotes like this remind me of the principle of moderation in all things; and how every principle is treated on its own merit; and how many ways there are of looking at issues and solving problems.

I especially like the reminder to pray, which gives us access to the entire Company on High and allows us to find solutions we might never have thought of on our own.

I remember at one time in my recovery from childhood trauma, misunderstanding “Thy Name is my healing”, thinking all I had to do is pray, yet here we’re told it’s OK to seek counsel from professional people.  I also like the idea that family members can consult together with those who are affected by a decision, which brings in the idea that younger family members have rights too.

There are pros and cons for making decisions on my own vs. with others.  On my own, I risk making ill-informed decisions; if I involve others, I risk wasting time.  Because Baha’u’llah puts so much value on consultation, I’m reminded that sometimes the process is more important than the outcome.  Sometimes the act of consulting prayerfully with others can have consequences that have nothing to do with the decision that has to be made, such as strengthening family ties; or work teams.

Knowing the options in front of me when I need to make decisions, 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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Consultation Needs Several Voices

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The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 176, #580)

Being both single and self-employed, I’m used to making decisions alone.  Even when I could consult with others, I’ve always thought it was easier and faster to do it myself.  When I became a Bahá’í and saw the importance of consultation I had to change my views.  I’ve come to appreciate that when a diverse group of people who understand and respect each other’s differences and contributions consult together, more can be accomplished much more efficiently.  It’s not always easy to recognize the important contribution towards the performance of the team that different members bring to the table and it’s not even easy to see the contribution I bring, when I’m used to doing everything myself.

The nine kinds of people who work best together on a team are people who:

  1. come up with ideas I might not have thought of
  2. assess the risks
  3. focus on details and logistics
  4. come up with all the reasons something won’t work
  5. are skilled in listening between the lines and hearing what isn’t being said
  6. provide motivation and encouragement
  7. are willing to do the work
  8. support and step into any gaps that might arise
  9. won’t give up when the going gets tough

When I look at this list, it’s easy to see my strengths and weaknesses, and relax into the idea that I don’t have to do everything myself, 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 newly published book Learning How to Consult Effectively

 

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Trials are Essential for Establishing the Will of God

“In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Bahá, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this formative age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Iranian believers resident in various countries throughout the world, February 10, 1980)

Over the past couple of weeks, different Baha’is have sent me information that could be considered COVID conspiracy theories, asking me what I thought of them, or worse, asking for my support in spreading this material to others.  On the one hand, I’m usually open to learning new things and in the grand scheme of things, am often left-leaning in my beliefs.  On the other hand, in this case, I’m definitely on the side of balancing religion with science, and obedience to government, so I take great comfort in quotes such as this one.

Even the most credentialed epidemiologists have been bewildered by the nature and scope of this virus – the list of symptoms keep expanding, and the age of those effected keep lowering.  Even the wisest of scientists are perplexed as to the remedy as they try to determine why some immune systems of seemingly healthy individuals cause all sorts of life-threatening complications; while others considered “high risk” experience a milder version of the disease or have no symptoms at all.  Because the “rules” of this pandemic seem to keep shifting, it’s easy for people to grab onto conspiracy theories.

But what if, instead of grabbing onto the ideas of these alarmists, we accept that this new virus has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and that it’s all essential for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth?  What if we saw it as another evidence of the inevitable decline of the old world order, bring humanity to their knees, to ultimately being us to the Most Great Peace we all long for?  What if, in this formative age and period of transition, we focus our attention on continuing to build an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes?  I think this is what the House of Justice is leading us towards, as they help us navigate these tumultuous waves.

Knowing I can listen to the voices of science and the guidance of the House of Justice as I navigate this pandemic, 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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