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Plowing our own Fields

If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.  (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

I love this quote because I seldom see Shoghi Effendi use English idioms such as “Tom, Dick and Harry”.  It seems unlikely that Tom and Harry are Persian names!  So everytime I read this quote, it makes me giggle.  I also love the imagery.  It’s so easy to see the ploughmen looking to this side and that, and the furrows weaving all over the place.  Don’t we all do that?  Don’t we all have a tendency to look around and compare ourselves to others, and either feel superior or less-than?  I’ve heard it called “compare and despair” and that’s what it feels like to me.  When I’m in despair, I lose motivation to do anything, which is definitely wasting precious time.  As Bahá’ís, we don’t have any time to waste.  You may remember memorizing this quote in Ruhi Book 4:

There is no time to lose. There is no room left for vacillation. Multitudes hunger for the Bread of Life . . . God’s own Plan has been set in motion. It is gathering momentum with every passing day . . .  Such an opportunity is irreplaceable . . . To try, to persevere, is to insure ultimate and complete victory.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, #75)

We’ve been given a Plan, which all of the Institutions are asking us to win in the next few months.  That’s the big goal we need to keep focused on.  With God’s help, we’ll win it, to honor the efforts of the Bicentennials.

Remembering where to keep my eye focused, 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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Unity: One of the First Essentials

If we Bahá’ís cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Báb, Bahá’u’lláh and the Beloved Master lived and suffered. In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

How much disunity exists in our Bahá’í communities, because we haven’t yet learned how to attain cordial unity among ourselves?  My hunch is a lot, especially since a lot of people are opting out of participating in the core activities.  Instead of just accepting this reality, I can dig a little deeper.

I love it when a quote tells me a problem and immediately gives a solution!  In this case, unity is not just a nice concept we can all agree on (Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world), but it gives me something practical I can do:  stop dwelling on the faults and failings of other rather than my own, and remember the main purpose for which the Bab, Bahá’u’lláh and `Abdu’l-Bahá lived and suffered.  Sometimes easier said than done, particularly in a culture that values gossip and fault-finding.

We’re told our greatest tests will come from other Bahá’ís and really, these tests are a gift, not something to fear or become frustrated and judgmental.  With every test comes an opportunity to grow spiritually, to grow closer to God and to attain the virtues we’ll need in the next world.  Instead of focusing on the faults and failings of others, I could welcome and embrace the awareness it gives, knowing that this finger-pointing can act as a mirror for my own growth.

Turning my attention to the crises and victories that came to the lives of the Central Figures, I can learn to adjust my own behavior and 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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Why We Let Go of Petty Bickerings and Jealousies

Petty bickerings and jealousies make one lose all the traces of spirituality, excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones, submerge one in the sea of phantasms, suffer one to become cold and pessimistic and throw him headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness! (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)

Wow, this is such a clear warning about all the reasons to let go of our bickering and jealousy:

  • makes us lose all traces of spirituality
  • excommunicates us from the divine company of the worthy ones
  • submerges us in the sea of phantasms (delusions, fantasies, figments of imagination)
  • suffers us to become cold and pessimistic
  • throws us headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness

It’s interesting that bickering and jealousy are paired together here.  In my mind, bickering goes on externally between me and someone else, where jealousy goes on inside my head, and yet both have the same results.

I often find myself jealous of those who are married, have careers and contact with adult children and grandchildren.  According to this quote, I can see that I lose all traces of spirituality by feeling sorry for myself.  I excommunicate myself when I isolate and separate myself from those I envy, not wanting to experience the feelings of “less than” or be pitied.  Focusing on what I don’t have keeps me from being grateful for all that I do have, and from developing a relationship with God as my primary relationship, keeping me from achieving my purpose in life.  When I look ahead and see only more of the same, I definitely become pessimistic and thrown into the depths of despair and helplessness.

Knowing all of this gives me a great motivation to let go of bickering and jealousy and 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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The Beauty of Diversity 

Thus should it be among the children of men! The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them . . . (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54)

This quote seems to be whole crux of the Bahá’í Writings, where Bahá’u’lláh’s goal is to unite all of mankind.  When we truly understand this self-evident truth, we will recognize our oneness.  I often wonder why this is so difficult to understand.  We love different colours and shapes in a garden.  We love the many different species of plants and animals.  We love a variety of textures and tastes in our food.  We love a variety of notes in music, so why is it so difficult to see different coloured human beings as different?  Why do we feel suspicion and mistrust?  Why, even in multicultural cities, do we withdraw and hang out with our own “kind”?

It’s easy for me to get caught up in questions like this and spiral into hopeless, helpless despair.  Fortunately statistics can help pull me out of this funk.  Slowly, we are moving towards Bahá’u’lláh’s great vision. Thanks to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s encouragement of the marriage of Hand of the Cause Louis Gregory, (an African-American man) and Louisa Mathews, (a white British woman) in 1912, interracial marriage is much more common today than ever before.  Even though the ban on interracial marriage didn’t end in the US until 1967, many advances have been made since then.  Today, 17% of married couples today are interracial.  Just a little more than 25 years ago, 63% of nonblack adults opposed interracial marriage. Today, that number is only 14%.[1]

By 2043, the Census Bureau predicts that the United States will become a “majority-minority” country[2], in which no racial group makes up more than half of the population.  As we move closer to a majority-minority status, people of different races will interact more frequently.  Please God, let this end the legacy of discrimination.

Knowing that as the world gets smaller, people are embracing cultural differences in many ways, 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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[1] https://www.creditdonkey.com/interracial-marriage-statistics.html

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/07/majority-minority-america_n_7205688.html

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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