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Creating a Warm Community Atmosphere

Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 439)

A friend of mine passed away this week.  We knew it was coming, but because of COVID, my biggest fear was that she would die alone, with people unable to be with her.  I had to give this one over to God, and He came through, big time.  She went into palliative care in her local hospital on Friday, after being able to live alone up till then, and died on Sunday.  Because she lives in a small town, and all the COVID cases were sent to a large centre, she was allowed to have visitors.  We were all notified when her breathing changed early in the morning and 5 of her closest Bahá’í friends were at her bedside for several hours before she passed.  I live 6 hours away and am her executor, so I too was notified as were her friends around the world, all of us praying for her steadfastness till the end of her life and for the advancement of her soul in the next world.  In case you haven’t seen it, here is a newly translated prayer many of us were saying (in addition to a whole lot of others):

He is God! O Lord! Grant me such grace and bounty, such protection and support, such kindness and security that the last of my days may excel their beginning, and the end of my life commence the bestowal of manifold favours. May some gift or blessing of Thine reach me at every moment, and one of Thy pardons and mercies be granted me with every breath, that beneath the vast shade cast by the hoisted standard, I may return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise. Thou art the Beneficent, the Kind, and Thou art the Lord of grace and bounty.  (Provisional Translation. A prayer for a favorable end to one’s life (extracted from a Tablet of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá written for Áqá Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán)

Her non-Bahá’í cousins and neighbors were all watching this unfold and saw first hand that we were able to “create that warm community atmosphere”.  Please God, let this attract the hearts of everyone watching and let them be impressed by this outpouring evidence of “real love and feeling”.  What better legacy could she leave than that?

Knowing that there are times we get this right, 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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Not My Capacity, But God’s 

Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the first step, and then let the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh move them and make use of them. If any one of them should even for a second consider his achievements as due to his own capacities, his work is ended, and his fall starts. This is in fact the reason why so many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls. The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the Will of God operate through us.  Stop being conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His mission and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.  (Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 26)

I absolutely have a love/hate relationship to this quote.  On the one hand it reminds me to”stop being conscious of my frailties and have perfect reliance on God” (about which I need frequent reminders) and on the other, it makes me despair that in my burnout and adrenal exhaustion, this might mean I’m one of those “many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls.” I know that these kinds of thoughts are just another way to beat myself up with the Writings and cause me to fail to recognize my nobility. In that moment, I need to “have perfect reliance on God” that what I’m doing is enough.  This is one of my most frequent tests these days.

Once I can set aside this consciousness of my frailties, there are certain things I need to do, according to this quote.  I need to:

  • let go of any belief that my achievements are due to my own capacity
  • be ready to have the Will of God operate through me
  • have a perfect reliance upon God
  • let my heart burn with the desire to serve His mission and proclaim His call
  • take the first step, and then let the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh move me and make use of me

Finally, I love when promises are embedded in quotes.  In this case we’re promised that if we let go of all consciousness of our frailties and do these things, we will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.  Don’t we all want it to be that easy?

Knowing that God keeps His promises when do what’s asked of me, 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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Teaching Needs Detachment 

Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all earthly things, and regard, at all times, the triumph of Our Faith as his supreme objective. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 334)

I have a lot of emotional pain from childhood wounds and can easily spiral into self-pity because I don’t have the things that many people take for granted – family, spouse, career, home and more.  I heard this verse sung on YouTube this morning, and it made me sit up and take notice.

I have chosen to dedicate my life to peace – that’s why I became a Bahá’í.  Implicit in that decision is the fact that I have also chosen to “arise to teach His cause”.  By breaking my heart and not letting me have the things of this world that I think I have a right to, God has “detached me from all earthly things”, so that He can use me (and all of us) to accomplish “His supreme objective”.  So if it’s my choice to be a Bahá’í, with all that this implies, what right do I have to complain when He’s giving me exactly what I need in order to accomplish His higher aims?

There’s no way on earth I would have detached myself from my kindred; or my financial security, but as I see the wisdom in it, I can forgive God for what I used to think was His punishment, and now see as His mercy.

Understanding God’s wisdom as He gives me exactly what I need, 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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How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

What is true love?

The essence of love is for man to turn his heart to the Beloved One, and sever himself from all else but Him, and desire naught save that which is the desire of his Lord.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 155)

The real and great love is the love of God. That is holy above the imaginations and thoughts of men.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 365)

What is the love between two people?

But the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love, because it is subject to transmutation; this is merely fascination. As the breeze blows, the slender trees yield. If the wind is in the East the tree leans to the West, and if the wind turns to the West the tree leans to the East. This kind of love is originated by the accidental conditions of life. This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship; it is subject to change.  Today you will see two souls apparently in close friendship; tomorrow all this may be changed. Yesterday they were ready to die for one another, today they shun one another’s society! This is not love; it is the yielding of the hearts to the accidents of life. When that which has caused this ‘love’ to exist passes, the love passes also; this is not in reality love.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 180)

 How to think about heartbreak

O My servants! 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.   Gleanings From the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.232

Why do we get our hearts broken?

Anybody can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, it is the proof of nobility.  Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Baha’i Publishing Committee, 1909 edition Pages: 730

What to do when your heart is broken

Turn towards the “Best Lover”:

There is nothing greater or more blessed than the Love of God! It gives healing to the sick, balm to the wounded, joy and consolation to the whole world, and through it alone can man attain Life Everlasting. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 82)

By the life of God! A single drop of the ocean of His love is more profitable unto thee than the earth and that which is thereupon, because this will vanish and perish, but that drop of love will remain eternally and everlasting in the worlds of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 669)

In a letter written on his behalf, Shoghi Effendi uses the analogy of the plant turning in the direction of the sun to explain the spiritual significance of turning towards the
Qiblih:

…just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight–from which it receives life and growth–so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá’u’lláh, when we pray; … we turn our faces … to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 169)

Understand just how much He loves us:

He gave us life because He loved us so much:

O Son of Man! Veiled in My immemorial being and in the ancient eternity of My essence, I knew My love for thee; therefore I created thee, have engraved on thee Mine image and revealed to thee My beauty. My love is in thee, know it, that thou mayest find me near unto thee. (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 3).

O Son of Man!  I loved thy creation, hence I created thee.  Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 4).

O SON OF THE WONDROUS VISION!  I have breathed within thee a breath of My own Spirit, that thou mayest be My lover. Why hast thou forsaken Me and sought a beloved other than Me? (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 19)

His eye of favors is directed towards us:

Know thou that, verily, the eye of favors is directed to thee and is beholding thee with a divine glance, so that thou mayest, with clear eyes, see the lights of the Kingdom upon the horizon. Remember, at all times, this great favor and thank thy Lord and supplicate to Him every day.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 132)

Through this love, we receive eternal life:

There are four kinds of love. The first is the love that flows from God to man; it consists of the inexhaustible graces, the Divine effulgence and heavenly illumination. Through this love the world of being receives life. Through this love man is endowed with physical existence, until, through the breath of the Holy Spirit—this same love—he receives eternal life and becomes the image of the Living God. This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 180)

Understand the bounties and blessings of losing a loved one:

Live free of love, for its very peace is anguish; Its beginning is pain, its end is death. Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 41)

And if, confirmed by the Creator, the lover escapes from the claws of the eagle of love, he will enter THE VALLEY OF KNOWLEDGE and come out of doubt into certitude, and turn from the darkness of illusion to the guiding light of the fear of God. His inner eyes will open and he will privily converse with his Beloved; he will set ajar the gate of truth and piety, and shut the doors of vain imaginings.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 11)

Love is a veil betwixt the lover and the beloved.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Four Valleys, p. 60)

Play Music

…. the Manifested Light, Baha’u’llah, in this glorious period has revealed in Holy Tablets that singing and music are the spiritual food of the hearts and souls. In this dispensation, music is one of the arts that is highly approved and is considered to be the cause of the exaltation of sad and desponding hearts. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Volume 9, p. 131)

Forgive

. . . if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Bahá’. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 436)

Avoid Gossip

He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. (Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 193)

Remember, above all, the teaching of Baha’u’llah concerning gossip and unseemly talk about others. Stories repeated about others are seldom good. A silent tongue is the safest. Even good may be harmful, if spoken at the wrong time, or to the wrong person.   (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 125)

That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul. He should be content with little, and be freed from all inordinate desire.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264)

Service

O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 93-94)

Be not the slave of your moods, but their master. But if you are so angry, so depressed and so sore that your spirit cannot find deliverance and peace even in prayer, then quickly go and give some pleasure to someone lowly or sorrowful, or to a guilty or innocent sufferer! Sacrifice yourself, your talent, your time, your rest to another, to one who has to bear a heavier load than you. (The Research Department has found that these words were attributed to Abdu’l-Baha in an unpublished English translation of notes in German by Dr. Josephine Fallscheer taken on 5 August 1910. As the statement is a pilgrim note, it cannot be authenticated)

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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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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