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False News

One of the unfortunate features of the present age is the difficulty of attaining truth, which seems to be an inherent characteristic of the process of disintegration that is assailing humanity in its transition to a new order. “In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood,” Bahá’u’lláh lamented, “and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice.” Of course, there are a number of Bahá’í teachings that directly bear on this dilemma. To the extent to which the friends imbibe and hold fast to these teachings, they can guard themselves and their communities from the tumult buffeting society and contribute to its protection and transformation.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual, 11 February 2021)

How do we find truth quickly online in this day and age?  Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation and fake news shared on the web and on social media these days and it’s sometimes hard to know the truth without a lot of fact-checking and digging.  Some fake news websites are structured to make visitors believe they are visiting trusted news sources.  Facebook alone has over 2 billion users (over a quarter of the world’s population), making it hard to police.  Anyone trying to sway people to their own point of view finds an eager, ready, and waiting audience online.  Sadly, the fictions and fabrications that comprise fake news are only a subset of the larger bad news phenomenon, which also encompasses many forms of tabloid journalism as well as shoddy, unresearched, error-filled, and deliberately misleading reporting.

I was happy to see the House of Justice direct this issue head on recently, as we see in the quote above.  It came as somewhat of a relief to be reminded that finding truth seems to be an inherent characteristic of the process of disintegration that is assailing humanity in its transition to a new order.  I should have figured this out on my own, but I didn’t and this helped.

Although we may think that fake news is a new phenomenon, the House points us to a passage where Bahá’u’lláh lamented in the 1800’s: “In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood, and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice.”  Surely we see evidence of this in the persecution of the early believers up to this day.

The House of Justice reminds us that there are a number of Bahá’í teachings that directly bear on this dilemma.  This begs the question, which teachings specifically are they thinking of?   Perhaps studying quotes on truth, truthfulness, independent investigation, and lying would be good places to start.  Why, because we’re told in this quote that the extent to which we imbibe and hold fast to these teachings, we can guard ourselves and our communities from the tumult buffeting society and contribute to its protection and transformation.

Knowing where to focus my morning and evening study of the Bahá’í Writings for the tools to contribute to the protection and transformation of our communities, 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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Healing the Stress Caused by the Pandemic

You should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It — the body — is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer meditation, but for real rest and relaxation.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 296

One of my readers asked:

I am interested in perspectives on the healing of the mental and spiritual stresses placed on so many by the forced isolation caused by the pandemic.

There are lots of great articles on the internet about the importance of balancing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs for optimal health at this time.  Things we can do in each area include:

Spiritual

  • Prayer and Meditation (Reading the Bahá’í Writings morning and night with care and attention)
  • Make God your Best Friend: when we’re missing our loved one, God is always available to us, 24/7, and deepening our relationship with Him helps us achieve our purpose in life
  • Spend time finding God in nature each day

Mental

  • Immerse yourself in the Writings (perhaps by attending a Study Circle)
  • Set goals, preferably in alignment with the direction given by Bahá’í Institutions
  • Stay positive. There’s lots that we can’t control; and lots that we can’t know, but we can watch our thoughts and focus our attention on the positive, perhaps by finding things to be grateful for several times every day
  • Pay attention to your fears and give them to God instead of making them bigger

Emotional

  • Journal your stressors every day – I do it in the form of a “Dear God” letter
  • Make phone calls – hearing other people’s problems can give us a relief from our own
  • Pray with people – reciting the prayers out loud has an effect on our souls and the souls of everyone around us

Physical

  • Healthy eating
  • Lots of water
  • Lots of exercise
  • Lots of good quality sleep
  • Rest and relaxation

All of these things work together synergistically.

Knowing there are lots of practical ways I can care for my body and safeguard my nerves at this time, 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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Difficulties, Obstacles, Hardships and Adversities

O Divine Providence! Perplexing difficulties have arisen and formidable obstacles have appeared. O Lord! Remove these difficulties and show forth the evidences of Thy might and power. Ease these hardships and smooth our way along this arduous path. O Divine Providence! The obstacles are unyielding, and our toil and hardship are conjoined with a myriad adversities. There is no helper save Thee, and no succourer except Thyself. We set all our hopes on Thee, and commit all our affairs unto Thy care. Thou art the Guide and the Remover of every difficulty, and Thou art the Wise, the Seeing, and the Hearing.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Twenty-six Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of His passing, number 6)

We went for a long time with the prayers we grew up with in the Faith and have recently been gifted with a steady stream of newly translated prayers, both by Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá.  If you haven’t seen them, you can find them here.

Several years ago, I was told that what had been translated so far was the mystic teachings, proofs, laws and administrative order, and that what was left was mostly encouragement.  I was really in need of encouragement at that time, and impatient to find prayers that related to my life and spoke directly to my mind and heart.  This prayer does just that.

Yes, we’re told to “remember my days” in reference to all of the tests Bahá’u’lláh went through; and yes, we’re told to read the Dawnbreakers as a way to “alleviate stress”, but these Manifestations and martyrs are so far above me that I couldn’t relate to their struggles and tests.  But when `Abdu’l-Bahá talks about perplexing difficulties, unyielding obstacles, hardships and myriad adversities, He’s talking my language, and gets my attention.

Embedded in this prayer is the solution:

  • Remember that God is my Guide and the Remover of every difficulty
  • Believe that there is no helper and succourer save God
  • Believe that God has the might and power to remove all my difficulties
  • Ask God to remove them
  • Trust that He can ease these hardships
  • Trust that He can smooth the way as I walk along this arduous path He’s set before me
  • Commit all my affairs unto His care
  • Trust that He is Wise and that He hears and sees everything I’m going through

It’s one thing to remember and believe; it’s another to ask for help and trust it will be there and yet another to commit all of my affairs to His care, not just my hardships and trouble.

Remembering and believing that God’s got my back and can help me through my 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Overcoming Depression

Mrs. H:  How can I attain to greater stability? I feel terribly discouraged and depressed at times?

Master:  Whenever you feel depressed, go alone into a secret chamber, read one of the Hidden Words and with utmost supplication, beg of Baha’u’llah, to impart to you that happiness which is essential for the future.  Pray with great humbleness:

O God!  Free me from these fetters.  Release me from all these toils.  Make me pure and sanctified.  Illumine me.  Fill my heart with Thy love and attach me to Thyself, so that I may become a captive to Thy love.   May I not seek ought but Thee!  May I not search but for Thy love and may I walk always in Thy path!

Then you will attain to a glorious state – then you will obtain a condition which you would not exchange for the whole world.

Mrs. H:  My great desire is to have more faith.

Master:  This very prayer will bring you the pearl of great price.  (Conversation between the Master and Mrs. Henlay, Feb. 10, 1913, ‘Abdu’l-Baha in France, p. 358)

I love how synchronicity works.  This week, one of my readers asked:

I am interested in perspectives on the healing of the mental and spiritual stresses placed on so many by the forced isolation caused by the pandemic.

While I was pondering how to respond, another reader sent the quote above, thinking I could possibly use it.  Indeed I could!  I was struggling with an issue of injustice that was causing a great deal of anxiety and depression when I finally had a chance to read it, and it helped me in that moment and inspired me to use it to help my reader.

I love the Hidden Words and at one time, had them all memorized.  I used to love playing Spiritual Pursuit, because I always got those questions right.  I’m not going to tell you which one I chose, because it will be different for everyone, but I did put my finger in randomly, and remembered why I loved reading them so much.

There is no prison worse than depression (which I like to think of as self-pity), because when I recognize I’m in the prison of self, I remember I put myself in there and the Bahá’í prayers and Writings are the keys and my “get out of jail free” card.

Knowing there is a simple prayer to remove depression and increase faith, 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

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

To Be Vaccinated or Not

In recent decades, advances in medical science have led to the production of  effective vaccines, the use of which has freed humanity from many debilitating and deadly infectious diseases. Reports indicate that the coronavirus vaccines currently being developed offer great promise for protecting individuals from, and helping to reduce transmission of, the virus. As to the advisability and efficacy of the various options that may become available, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 8 December 2020)

 

An additional point that can be drawn to the attention of the believers is that the purpose of being vaccinated extends beyond the protection it affords the individual concerned.  There is also an important social component; namely, that when a large enough proportion of the population is vaccinated, the spread of a disease amongst them is retarded, thereby protecting those who – for whatever reason – are unable to be vaccinated.  The friends should therefore also weigh this social obligation as they make their decision on this matter.  (Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 26 February 2021)

 

In relation to your query about whether it would be appropriate for you to encourage the friends to be vaccinated, it would appear sufficient for you to advise them to follow the recommendations of reputable public health experts in your country.  Ultimately, this is a matter for individuals to decide.  (Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 26 February 2021)

Although I’m not an anti-VAXXER, I have taken a conservative approach in the past, using homeopathic and essential oils to strengthen my immune system against viral and bacterial infections where possible, and have enjoyed good physical health as a result.

I appreciate vaccines and their effectiveness in eradicating many diseases that used to plague our society.  I grew up in the polio epidemic and lost my aunt to it.  My cousin, her son, survived, but has suffered with post-polio symptoms ever since.

When my son was a baby, he had all his shots, but when he was 10, he came down with red measles.  We were immediately quarantined and the vaccine he’d been given 10 years earlier was discovered to have been part of a “bad batch”.  They wanted to vaccinate him against it again.  No!  This was happening at the time when there seemed to be a link between vaccines and autism, and a friend’s son had recently been diagnosed with autism after getting vaccinated.  So I’ve been cautious ever since.  As a result, I admit that I am somewhat apprehensive and uncertain about whether to be vaccinated against COVID, and if so, which vaccine to have.

I’m in the cohort that’s being offered a vaccine that’s been banned in many countries, and if I was one year older or 9 years younger, I wouldn’t be given, which increases my anxiety tremendously.  Of course, we’re being encouraged to take what’s being offered and not to shop around, and I understand this.  There are shortages of the other vaccines, and priority has to be given to those waiting their second shots.  I’m on a waiting list but because I live in a rural community, it’s a bit of a lottery as to who gets the vaccine and in what order.  I’m not a front-line worker, nor do I have pre-existing health problem, so I’m content to wait my time until the decision becomes more clear.

While I was pondering all of this, someone sent me a couple of recent letters from the House of Justice, (relevant excerpts above) which makes my decision easier, because it’s a source I trust.

From these quotes I glean:

  • It’s my decision whether or not to be vaccinated.
  • In making my decision, I should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts and follow the recommendations of reputable public health experts in my country.
  • In making my decision I should consider that this isn’t just about me – that I have a social obligation to my family, friends and neighbors.
  • When a large enough proportion of the population is vaccinated, the spread of a disease amongst them is retarded and those who are unable to be vaccinated are also protected.
  • Reports indicate that the coronavirus vaccines currently being developed offer great promise for protecting individuals from, and helping to reduce transmission of, the virus.

Getting clarity around this issue from a source I love, respect and trust, 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 books.

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive