Select Page

Contact with the Ungodly  

Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 3)

Shoghi Effendi explains this better than I can:

In the passage ‘eschew all fellowship with the ungodly, ‘Bahá’u’lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word ‘ungodly’ is a reference to such perverse people. The words ‘Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones’, should flee from the enemies of God and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers.  (Shoghi Effendi: Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)

Before reading Shoghi Effendi’s explanation, I used this Hidden Word to consider whether or how much time I should spend with the people who’d abused me so terribly in childhood.  Because I didn’t deem their behavior “righteous” or “godly”, I felt as if this was giving me permission to avoid them.  However, these people were Godly in that they made sure I learned about God, so I could see there was a difference between what they believed and how they lived their lives, which was confusing.

I like Shoghi Effendi’s second part of this quote, where we “seek the fellowship of His lovers”, which reminds me to spend my time with other Bahá’ís and those whose behavior matches their beliefs.  This is easier to follow!

Spending my time with God’s lovers makes me feel safe and loved and protected, 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies on Kindle

You might also like to read Who are the Ungodly and Why Should We Avoid Them?  

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

I am Seen

O Friends! 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 favour, and not of your deserving.      (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian  60)

When I was a child, I was taught this song.  The first verse goes like this:  “God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view; if God so loves the little birds, I know he loves me too.”

The implication was that He is All-Knowing and All-Seeing.  I didn’t feel seen by God, though.  For years, I’d prayed for the abuse in my family to stop and it only got worse, so I really believed that just like other families were different than ours, God’s relationship with me was different too.

When I read the above quote, it gave me great comfort, because it suggested that even know no one had ever called my parents to account for the terrible things they did, God saw them all.  This let me rest in His justice and His timing.

When I looked at it through the eyes of my own sins, it also gave me comfort:  He knows what I’m thinking and doing, good and bad, and it’s hidden from others as a protection from my ego, and until such time as I can ask for His forgiveness.

God sees me and protects me and loves me and is continually showering His favor on me 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies 

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Definition of Forgiveness

So what Christ meant by forgiveness and magnanimity is not that if another nation were to assail you; burn your homes; plunder your possessions; assault your wives, children, and kin; and violate your honour, you must submit to that tyrannical host and permit them to carry out every manner of iniquity and oppression. Rather, the words of Christ refer to private transactions between two individuals, stating that if one person assaults another, the injured party should forgive. But the body politic must safeguard the rights of man. (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 77)

When I first came into the Faith someone introduced me to the idea that “If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.” (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453), so I thought everything I needed to know about forgiveness was embedded in this quote.  To compound the problem was the reputation that Bahá’ís (and Canadians) have of “being nice”.  So being nice and being a good Bahá’í meant I was to instantly forgive.  I knew I wasn’t at that standard.  There were things that happened in my childhood that I couldn’t forgive.  As a child, I did “submit to a tyrannical host and permit them to carry out every manner of iniquity and oppression” and no one safeguarded my rights.  So where did that fit in?  Sadly, in the many decades since, children are still being abused in their homes and society is doing little to protect them or to bring the perpetrators to justice and even when they do, the sentences don’t usually match the severity of the crimes.  So what’s a Bahá’í to do?

I don’t understand (so I don’t like) the term “body politic”.  In a previous translation of this quote, the word “communities” was used instead.  So it seems clear.  The standard is for us to forgive what’s done to us AND the communities must safeguard our rights.  We’re not there yet as a society, but it’s helpful to know where the bar is to reach towards, so we can realign our thinking and our behavior.  I can’t stop the tyrannical hosts, but I can call 911.  I can reach out for help from the Institutions of the Faith.  I can help the “body politic” hold the perpetrators accountable and I can lobby on behalf of others.

Knowing I’m not powerless against a tyrannical host, 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 Forgive

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Poor Parenting

For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 57)

For those of us looking for evidence that “the sins of the fathers continue into the next generations”, this quote shows exactly how.

I grew up in a house with a violent, abusive alcoholic father and a passive, emotionally distant mother.  I vowed I was not going to repeat the abuses I endured when raising my son.  Sadly, though I was able to raise him in a home without alcohol or drugs and break the cycle of physical and sexual abuse, I still passed on the family dysfunction.

As someone who lives with a diagnosis of anxiety, depression and PTSD, I have definintely been afflicted with a “feeble constitution and weak nerves”!  I am impatient, particularly with the changes that take time, and with other people who don’t do what they’ve promised to do.  I make decisions in haste and am driven to get things done, seldom giving myself time to check in with God, through prayer and meditation.  Now that I know why, I can do something about it.

Knowing that the source of my problems come from inheriting the weakness and debility of my parents, I can have compassion for them and for myself, forgive and overcome 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies      Print    Kindle

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

New Site, New Look, New Focus

Some of my new books!

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your continued support of my work. I apologize for being largely absent following the hacking of 5 of my websites, which corrupted nearly 10,000 files, and resulted in being shut down by my webhost and blacklisted by Google. 

I am deeply grateful to Malcolm Sargent and Jonah Winters for stepping in to save the site. A special thank you too, to all those who championed me emotionally, spiritually and financially.  Your solid endorsement to keep going is heartwarming.

I haven’t been idle since then, though, and am thrilled to announce that 9 of my books are now available in both print and Kindle on Amazon.

Strengthening Your Relationship with God

Learning How to Be Happy

Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

Learning How to Forgive

Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

Letting Go of Criticizing Others

Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety  

Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies       Print Version 

You can borrow the Kindle version of each book free for 30 days.

AND when you buy the print version, the Kindle version is available at a reduced rate.  I hope that those of you who read the books will share an honest review.  A little of your time and a few brief words would go a long way to helping other customers (hopefully followers of all Faiths) make a decision.  You can partner with me in this teaching effort.

To highlight my books, my website has a new look, a new name and a new focus.  My previous blog content will remain accessible.

www.susangammage.com will take you to the newly created www.ninestarsolutions.com

For some time, I’ve felt uncomfortable about branding my name, and since I’m publishing under Nine Star Solutions, this seems an ideal time to go forward with the www.ninestarsolutions.com name.

My goal for the new site is to post a single quote from the Bahá’i Writings every day, along with a small meditation on my blog.

I hope that you will post your understanding of the quote, and together we can immerse ourselves in the Ocean of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.  It’s a good way for me to remember my commitment to meditate on the Writings morning and night. I hope it will engage you too.

I celebrate the release of my books with you. I look forward to being able to post to the blog again.  May it continue to encourage and inspire you to an ever-deepening connection to our dearly loved Baha’i Faith.

Much love,

Susan

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Compensation for a Life of Suffering

 

 

Let’s face it.  Bad things happen to all of us, but when it seems like we’ve had a lifetime of suffering, it’s hard to stay strong and have hope.  I thought I’d look to the Baha’i Writings and see what I could find out and share it with you.

We know that suffering leads to self-improvement:

Suffering is both a reminder and a guide. It stimulates us better to adapt ourselves to our environmental conditions, and thus leads the way to self-improvement. In every suffering one can find a meaning and a wisdom. But it is not always easy to find the secret of that wisdom. It is sometimes only when all our suffering has passed that we become aware of its usefulness. What man considers to be evil turns often to be a cause of infinite blessings. (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 434)

But the suffering of children is the hardest for many of us to understand.  Many children are exposed to horrific events, and then spend a life-time dealing with the after-effects.

God can compensate the innocent:

He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that if God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear.   (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

It’s comforting to know that for those souls, that suffering is the greatest mercy of God, and it will be far better and preferable to all the comfort of this world:

On this plane of existence, there are many injustices that the human mind cannot fathom. Among these are the hear-rending trials of the innocent … With regard to the spiritual significance of the suffering of children “who are afflicted by the hands of oppressors”, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not only states that for those souls “suffering is the greatest mercy of God”, He also explains that to be a recipient of God’s mercy is “far better and preferable to all the comfort of this world”, and He promises that “for those souls there is a recompense in another world”.  (Universal House of Justice, Letter on the Oppression of Children, 1985)

If we knew what God has destined for us, our gladness and joy would increase every hour:

If thou didst know what God had ordained for thee, thou wouldst fly with delight and happiness, gladness and joy would increase every hour.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í World Faith, p.363)

We’ll have true wealth:

Even if all the losses of the world were to be sustained by one of the friends of God, he would still profit thereby… The friends of God shall win and profit under all conditions, and shall attain true wealth.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Crisis & Victory, p.154)

Our reward is better than all the treasures of the earth:

So great are the things ordained for the steadfast that were they, so much as the eye of a needle, to be disclosed, all who are in heaven and on earth would be dumbfounded, except such as God, the Lord of all worlds, hath willed to exempt… I swear by God! That which hath been destined for him who aideth My Cause excelleth the treasures of the earth.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Advent of Divine Justice, p.84)

God has promised us days of blissful joy, in this world and in the next!

Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will no doubt attain.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.329)

When we get to the next world, we’ll get to recount all the things we’ve been made to endure:

With them [the Prophets of God and His chosen ones] that soul will freely converse, and will recount unto them that which it hath been made to endure in the path of God, the Lord of all worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p.156)

Here’s a story of how Juliet Thomson felt God’s love in this world:

Later in the morning He sent for me. My self-consciousness, my shyness had made me feel shut out from Him, but my heart had been continually crying out, with ever-increasing love, to Him. When I entered His little room and knelt at His feet and looked up into eyes of Love which I suddenly found I could meet, He put out His hand and said, “Now; now!”

I laid my head on His knee. The tears came. He lifted my face and wiped them away. “God shall wipe away all tears.” Ah, this blessed Day!  I cannot remember exactly what happened, only that Love immeasurable flowed out from Him and was reflected in my poor heart. One thing I do remember. When He lifted my face, while He was wiping away my tears, He said in a voice of infinite sweetness, like the sighing of the wind which “bloweth where it listeth and we know not whence it cometh or whither it goeth”: “Speak. Speak to Me!”  His words in English sink into your very soul. What I lose by not understanding Persian!  “O my Lord, may my life speak to you!” I cried.  (Diary of Juliet Thompson)

It seems to me that patience, long-suffering and resignation are 3 key virtues we’re developing through our suffering.

I’d like to look at the example of Bahíyyih Khánum, Shoghi Effendi’s great-aunt and the highest ranked woman in the Baha’i Faith.  Her story is a testimony to the power of the human spirit to triumph over adversity. Shoghi Effendi wants us to follow her example, so it only seems fitting to tell you about her here.

Bahíyyih Khánum was Bahá’u’lláh’s only daughter, and was also known as the “Greatest Holy Leaf”.  Her station is similar to the Virgin Mary (to Christians) and Fatimih Zahra (to Muslims).  She certainly led a life of continuous suffering.  She spent her early years in an environment of privilege, wealth, and love and described this period of her life as very happy. When she was 6, her father was arrested and imprisoned, the family’s home pillaged and Bahíyyih and her family were forced to live in poverty. She clearly remembered the shrieks of the Bábís awaiting their death, leaving a strong mark in her later life.  Later the same year her family were exiled over snow-covered mountains, to Baghdad and later to Constantinople, Adrianople and finally Acre. Her uncle (Mirza Yahya), forbade her to leave the house to play with other children or even to let a doctor visit her newly born brother who needed medical attention — instead leaving him to die.

Bahíyyih spent almost all of her adult life as a prisoner.  As a young girl she chose to remain single, so she could serve her parents, her brother and later, to serve Shoghi Effendi. This was very strange for a woman of her rank and era. After so many tests and difficulties in the early part of her life, the death of her youngest brother, Mirza Mihdi, destroyed any morale she had left, yet somehow, she found the strength to help her mother and father with serving the pilgrims who came to visit. She was very close to her mother and always concerned about her mother’s delicate heath and when her mother died, it left Bahíyyih with a huge void in her life.  Later, when Bahá’u’lláh passed away, it put her into severe mourning which caused her to become thin and feeble for a time.

When she was freed at age 62, Bahíyyih opened up an orphanage in her home for non-Bahá’í and Bahá’í children, oversaw their education and taught them “prayers, reading and writing, home management, embroidery, sewing and cooking. Women from Islamic backgrounds would ask Bahíyyih to cut the shrouds in which they would wear when they die so they could rest in peace.  Everyone turned to her for help and advice. During WW1, the inhabitants of Haifa flocked to the house of `Abdu’l-Bahá, where Bahíyyih cooked for them and gave them rations.

When ‘Abdu’l-Baha made his journeys to the West between 1910 and 1913, and then again when Shoghi Effendi was away on several trips between 1922 and 1924, she was the “acting head” of the Faith.  During these times, Bahíyyih Khánum dealt with the affairs of the Holy Land and outside, which included meeting dignitaries, making speeches on `Abdu’l-Bahá’s behalf, meeting officials of both sexes and offering medical help for the sick and poor. She also dealt with the spiritual and administrative guidance of the worldwide Bahá’í community by writing letters of encouragement to communities around the world. During the later years of her life, she was plagued by illness and pains and needed help to stand and sit.

Her reward?

Verily, We have elevated thee to the rank of one of the most distinguished among thy sex, and granted thee, in My court, a station such as none other woman hath surpassed.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Bahá’í World, vol. V, p. 171)

You might want to read more about her:

Stories of the Greatest Holy Leaf

Bahiyyih Khanum: The Greatest Holy Leaf 

Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum, Outstanding Heroine of the Bahai Faith