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How to Make Everyone Your Friend  

Do not allow difference of opinion, or diversity of thought to separate you from your fellow men, or to be the cause of dispute, hatred and strife in your hearts. Rather, search diligently for the truth and make all men your friends.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54)

Recently the police have made many visits to our apartment building to deal with issues such as domestic disturbance, disturbing the peace, drug dealing and harboring criminals.  On one occasion, there was even an entire SWAT team securing our building while they were making an arrest.  All of these situations were at my previously quiet end of the hallway.  It’s been very distressing and even triggering old childhood trauma, where I didn’t feel safe in my house.  I found myself judging these neighbours harshly and insisting the landlord take action to have them evicted.  A social worker representing the landlord took me aside and quietly encouraged me to get to know them as people, instead of seeing only their faults and problems and how they were impacting me.  Two other tenants told me the same thing.

Ouch!  I’m the Bahá’í, a homefront pioneer, representing the Faith in this post.  I’m the one who should be remembering this and helping my neighbors remember it too.  It was a hard pill to swallow.

Knowing that I have this quote to memorize and put into action, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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 Criticizing Others

 

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When We Argue, We’re Both Wrong

If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute may arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 56)

I love this quote and find it interesting that it’s embedded within the Tablets of the Divine Plan, our marching orders for spreading the Faith to every corner of the planet.  This incontrovertible law and irrefutable command of God is important to be embedded into the hearts of all travel-teachers and pioneers, because it means we don’t have to be right.  We don’t have to prove a point.  We don’t have to engage in any controversial discussion.  We can just listen and approach every interaction with a humble posture of learning.  For someone addicted to adrenaline and drama, this is such a relief!  It’s hard on my adrenals and my liver to keep fighting for my position. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in a marriage or a job or a community, where this was taken seriously?

It can be a challenge to learn to speak with infinite amity and love, remaining silent and looking to the Baha’i Writings for some insights.  First we need to have the discipline of turning to the Writings so we can develop the habit of “asking the reality of the question from the Interpreter”.  Then we need to learn how to share them with “words as mild as milk”, and then leave the results to God, humbly asking Him to plant the truth in the hearts of those we teach.

Knowing I don’t have to dispute with anyone, and can remain silent and avoid controversy, 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 Criticizing Others

 

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Laughter at The Expense of Others

…[L]aughter should not . . . be indulged in at the expense of the feelings of others.  What one says or does in a humorous vein should not give rise to prejudice of any kind. You may recall ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s caution ‘Beware les ye offend the feelings of anyone, or sadden the heart of any person . . .  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, v1, p.45, quoted on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in a memorandum “The Humorist” 12 July 1997)

When I was a teenager, I remember reading a book by Robert Heinlein, in which he made the point that all laughter is put-downs at someone else’s expense and I decided in that moment, that I would never tell a joke or put down anyone, ever.  I also stopped laughing and started taking life very seriously.  It was one of those defining moments in my life.

When I came into the Faith, one of the first books I read was “God Loves Laughter” by William Sears, and found many stories of how much ‘Abdu’l-Baha loved laughter and when he was in prison, asked everyone to think of the funniest thing that happened during the day, and He’d laugh until the tears rolled down His face.  I often wonder about the content of those jokes.  I wish I could have been a fly on the wall, to see what some of the jokes were.  But maybe I don’t need to worry so much about being perfect.  Maybe I can just ask God to help me take life less seriously and lighten up, trusting that my sensitive heart would still recoil at offending or saddening anyone.

Knowing that I have permission to find the humor in things, and laugh about them, 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 Criticizing Others

 

 

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Gossip and Criticism

Unfortunately, not only average people, but average Bahá’ís are very immature; gossip, trouble-making, criticism, seem easier than the putting into practice of love, constructive words and cooperation.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 90)

It’s so true!  It’s a lot easier for me to gossip and criticize.  We live in a climate that encourages gossip and backbiting, and for many years, I got a false sense of intimacy with other people, by falling into this trap to hold onto friendships.

Three ideas helped me put a stop to this behavior:  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (Lights of Guidance, p. 88) tells us that “the worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting”.  In the Iqan (p. 193) Bahá’u’lláh tells us that “Backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”.  In The Hidden Words (Arabic 27), we learned that even breathing the sins of others causes us to be “accursed” by God.

Thankfully, these ideas are helping me get a better handle on staying clear of gossip.  Being around it anymore, feels like immersing myself in poison, so I avoid it like the plague, but criticism is a lot harder for me to let go of.  So much of my life I’ve been disheartened at the way things turned out, that I’ve come to expect to be disappointed.  My default reaction is to see what’s wrong instead of seeing what’s right.  Fortunately Abdu’l-Baha (Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93) reminds me that “the imperfect eye beholds imperfections.”  When I remember to look to God, and His perfections, I feel more grounded and more able to stay positive and avoid falling into the trap of criticism.

When I remember that everything is perfect just as it is, and my only job is to love, use constructive words and cooperate with others, 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 Criticizing Others

 

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Love and Fellowship

Love and fellowship are absolutely needful to win the good pleasure of God, which is the goal of all human attainment.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 410)

It’s easy to love those we like, but much harder when we don’t like them and harder still when they’ve done something to hurt us.  That’s when we need it the most!  That’s when we need to remember how much God loves us, and that He’s forgiven our sins, so we can extend that courtesy to others.  It doesn’t mean putting ourselves in danger of being hurt again.  Sometimes the most loving thing you can do for both of you is to walk away, pray for them, and leave them in God’s hands.  Other times you may find a way to be of service either to them directly, or in their name.

The other idea here is one of fellowship, which is also necessary to win God’s good pleasure.  In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, we are told to “respond to invitations”, which I used to think meant to accept all invitations.  Now I see that to “respond” might mean graciously declining at times.

As an introvert, there were times when I just needed to be by myself, so these injunctions are helpful in encouraging me to step out of my cave, and learn to both give love and receive love.  The only way I can do this is in fellowship with others.

Remembering that loving others and having fellowship with them wins me God’s approval, 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 Criticizing Others

 

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Criticism and Harsh Words

When criticism and harsh words arise within a Bahá’í commu­nity there is no remedy except to put the past behind one and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and, for the sake of God and His Faith, refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misun­derstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.  (Shoghi Effendi, Directives of the Guardian, pp. 17-18)

There are 2 important issues for me in this quote:  the first is how to handle hurt feelings arising from criticism and harsh words and here we have 3 concrete actions to take:

  • put the past behind us
  • persuade everyone involved to turn over a new leaf (perhaps by suggesting we say a prayer, and/or focus on being loving and forgiving and patient with the changes that take time)
  • refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misun­derstanding and inharmony either to anyone else or in the future.

The second part of the quote is the one which is so incredibly important and I don’t think we pay enough attention to it:  the more we argue back and forth and maintain that our point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.  ‘

Abdu’l-Bahá, (Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 56) goes even farther in saying:

If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong.

When our egos get in the way, and we want to always be right, we prevent unity and delay the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.

Knowing I don’t have to be right all the time, I can relax and for that, 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 Criticizing Others

 

 

Help Keep This Site Alive