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Showing our Aloofness

Increasingly, as time goes by, the characteristics of the Bahá’ís will be that which captures the attention of their fellow-citizens. They must show their aloofness from the hatreds and recriminations which are tearing at the heart of humanity, and demonstrate by deed and word their profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race. (From a letter dated 26 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 17)

In the past few weeks, there has been an explosion of craziness around people hoarding items like toilet paper in fear of the pandemic.  Pictures abound about grocery stores with empty shelves and people fighting over the last item of something.  Has the world gone mad?  Bahá’ís definitely have an opportunity to show the world that we have something to offer in the days ahead.

As we work to elevate the conversations around us, let us remember that God is in charge and everything that happens is bringing us closer to uniting the world.  The governments of the world are learning from the lessons of those countries who have gone through it before us.  China is lending a hand to Italy.  Italy is educating the west about how to prepare and the west is listening and taking action.  People everywhere are going into voluntary seclusion.  Neighbors are reaching out to neighbors.  This is exciting news!  If we can figure out how to make a united effort as individuals and governments to overcome this hurdle, surely we can make a similar effort to stop global warming, end war and achieve world peace at last.  If a world crisis which affects everyone on the planet can give us the impetus to overcome our inertia and move forward to what might be our promised collective destiny, then I say bring it on!

Knowing I can demonstrate my profound belief in the future peaceful unification of the entire human race during this crisis, 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

 

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Race Issues Require a Hundred Times More Consideration

It is difficult for the friends always to remember that in matter[s] where race enters, a hundred times more consideration and wisdom in handling situations is necessary than when an issue is not complicated by this factor.  (Shoghi Effendi, Pupil of the Eye, p. 87)

Even though Baha’u’llah called for the removal of prejudice nearly 200 years ago, and even though important progress has been made, it’s puzzling to me that racial tensions seem to be increasing rather than decreasing.  When we love and value the diversity in the animal and plant kingdoms, what makes us see the variations in skin tones in the human kingdom any different?

Both sides have prejudices to overcome.  Here’s what Shoghi Effendi tells us has to be done:

Let the white man:

  • make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem
  • abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority
  • correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race
  • persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions
  • master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds.

Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part show by every means in their power:

  • the warmth of their response
  • their readiness to forget the past
  • their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds.

Let neither think that:

  • the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other
  • such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved
  • they can wait confidently for the solution of this problem until the initiative has been taken, and the favorable circumstances created, by agencies that stand outside the orbit of their Faith
  • anything short of genuine love, extreme patience, true humility, consummate tact, sound initiative, mature wisdom, and deliberate, persistent, and prayerful effort, can succeed in blotting out the stain which this patent evil has left on the fair name of their common country.

Let them rather believe, and be firmly convinced, that:

  • on their mutual understanding, their amity, and sustained cooperation, must depend, more than on any other force or organization operating outside the circle of their Faith, the deflection of that dangerous course so greatly feared by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and the materialization of the hopes He cherished for their joint contribution to the fulfillment of that country’s glorious destiny. (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 40)

We’ve got a lot of work to do, but now we know what our marching orders consist of, and what exactly has to be done to show “a hundred times more consideration and wisdom” than we have in the past.

Knowing there is something concrete I can do to eliminate prejudice, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Praying for Those Who’ve Hurt Us

O God, my God! Lowly, suppliant and fallen upon my face, I beseech Thee with all the ardor of my invocation to pardon whosoever hath hurt me, forgive him that hath conspired against me and offended me, and wash away the misdeeds of them that have wrought injustice upon me. Vouchsafe unto them Thy goodly gifts, give them joy, relieve them from sorrow, grant them peace and prosperity, give them Thy bliss and pour upon them Thy bounty.  Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Will and Testament, p. 19)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá teaches “If someone commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)  For a long time I harbored a LOT of anger and resentment and bitterness to those who abused me as a child and stole my adulthood.  I couldn’t “instantly forgive”.  I wasn’t ready to let them off the hook.  I wanted justice.  I wanted revenge!  Slowly, I learned about the importance of forgiveness, not for the other person, but for ourselves.  I wanted peace in my heart.  I wanted to be obedient to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s injunction.  For a long time, the most I could do was to ask God to forgive them for me, because I couldn’t (or wouldn’t). I was happy to find this prayer when I needed it.

I love that it asks God to forgive but then goes an important step further – that He give them 6 things:

  • His goodly gifts
  • Joy
  • To be relieved from sorrow
  • peace and prosperity
  • His bliss
  • His bounty

Then He reminds us that He has the power and is gracious enough to use it for me.  He’s the one I turn to when my soul and heart are in peril and He’s all I need.  I love the endings to these prayers too.  They help me draw closer to God as I think that if He’s willing to give His enemies these gifts, please God, may He give them to me too.

Knowing how to pray for those who hurt me, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

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Molding the World and Being Affected By It

We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved.  Man is organic with the world.  His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it . . . Through them [the Baha’i teachings] will the human heart be changed, and also our social environment provides the atmosphere in which we can grow spiritually and reflect in full the light of God.  (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations, V1, #3.3)

I had to read this quote several times before I thought I might understand what Shoghi Effendi is saying.  Starting from the end and moving backwards, it reminds me that my social environment provides the atmosphere in which I can grow spiritually, but it also deeply affects my inner life.

As a highly sensitive introvert, I can only be out in the world a short time before the world’s negativity draws me under like an undertow and I need to isolate myself for awhile before I can regain my equilibrium and go out into the world again.  I’m like a cell phone that’s near the end of its life, unable to hold a charge for very long without needing to be plugged in again.

I used to compare myself to others, and to other Writings which urge us to be more and do more, which fed my addiction to beating myself up.  Now I’m more gentle with myself, forgiving myself, understanding that God created me as an introvert, and gave me unique tests to shape my character.  He knows my weakness and frailties and yet, He chose me to be part of His army of light, so it’s OK to need time to recharge my battery.

Now that I’m conscious of my own motives and God’s mercy and forgiveness, there’s no need to beat myself up, 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  Learning How to Forgive

 

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A New Way to Look at Forgiveness

The peerless example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá merits close scrutiny in your quest for a sense of forgiveness; His abiding love for humanity, despite its wayward­ness and perversity, enabled Him to manifest sincere compassion and magnanimity to those who had brought Him distress and hardship.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 9 September, 1992)

This quote was from a letter written to me, at a time when I couldn’t forgive my parents for the abuse perpetrated on me as a child, yet wanting to “get it right” as a “good Baha’i”.  As a result, I researched many stories about how ‘Abdu’l-Baha forgave, which you can read in an earlier posting.

To sum up, He forgave with compassion and magnanimity; He forgave without wanting others to speak about it; He forgave by looking at situations with love; He forgave with kindness; He forgave through generosity; He forgave by giving gifts and He forgave by spending time with them.  On the other hand, there were times when He too, ran out of patience.  The idea that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá could run out of patience was very reassuring!  We’re held to this standard, but He too had His limits.

Knowing different ways on how to forgive, 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

 

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Beyond Forgiveness

We ought to show something more than forgiveness in meeting with the cruelties and strictures of our own lives. To be hurt and to forgive is saintly, but far beyond that is the power to comprehend and not be hurt. This power we may have ‑ acceptance without complaint, and it should become associated with our name ‑ we ought never be known to complain or lament. It is not that we would “make the best of things” but that we may find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, Bahá’í World, vol. 5, p.185)

While this quote is not authoritative, it comes from a source I admire and respect, as Bahiyyih Khánum exemplified every standard she asks us to reach.   For many years I couldn’t even forgive.  The best I could do is to ask God to forgive those who hurt me.  Later, I was able to forgive and let go of all the resentment and hurt I was carrying.  I made a practice of becoming conscious of every resentment and deal with it as it came up and I thought that was good, but in this quote we see that there are several additional things she wants us to consider:

  • to comprehend and not be hurt
  • to be known as someone who accepts without complaint
  • to never be known to complain or lament
  • to find in everything, even in calamity itself, the germ of enduring wisdom

The first and the last have to do with inward adjustments that have to be made.  When I remember that we all have a lower nature and are all sinners, struggling to rise above whatever life has given us, then it’s easier to remember that we are all one.  When I am spiritually strong and remember these things, I can achieve the first and fourth.  The middle two are how we behave in the world.  It seems that it might be possible to complain and lament privately, admitting it to ourselves and taking our complaints to God, asking for Him to transform them so that we can find the germ of enduring wisdom and not be hurt, so that we can face the world with the same radiant acquiescence she was known to have.

Knowing I can strive for something that goes beyond forgiveness, 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

 

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