Select Page

Forgiveness by Individual vs. Community

An individual has no right to seek revenge, but the body politic has the right to punish the criminal. Such punishment is intended to dissuade and deter others from committing similar crimes. It is for the protection of the rights of man and does not constitute revenge, for revenge is that inner gratification that results from returning like for like. This is not permissible, for no one has been given the right to seek revenge.   On the contrary, he should show forgiveness and magnanimity, for this is that which befits the human world.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 77)

When we feel hurt, angry and betrayed when someone wrongs us, we want these painful feelings to be relieved.  The desire to inflict pain on those who have harmed us is a powerful internal force, which seems to be wired into our very DNA.  It demands an emotional release in the hopes that the inner gratification that comes from returning like for like will either help us feel better or help us gain closure, but in fact, it has the opposite effect.  Instead of quenching hostility, revenge prolongs the unpleasantness of the original offense.  We end up punishing ourselves because we can’t heal.  It’s like the sayings:

  • Revenge is like grabbing a hot coal to throw it at someone else and you are the one that gets burned.
  • Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and our job is to help Him achieve it.  We can’t have unity with revenge.  We can only have it with forgiveness and love.  This is what’s so important about today’s quote.  It gives us something we can do instead.

The fact that we want to take revenge implies that it still matters so first we need to recognize the emotion and the attachment.  This can be hard to do without support, so when we lean on God and ask for the virtues we want instead, in this case forgiveness and magnanimity, we’re actually turning the test to our advantage and achieving our purpose in life.

Leaving justice to the institutions and to God, I know I can grow spiritually 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

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

Attachments to This World

The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 328)

I have so many attachments to this physical world and I see that they are holding me back.  I’m attached to the area where I live; I’m attached to my beliefs, even when they are wrong or hurting me.  I’m attached to relationships I’ve outgrown.  I’m attached to my lifestyle.  I’m attached to the way I teach and serve.  I’m attached to my comfort zone.  I’m attached to the lies I tell myself.  I don’t know how to let go.  This quote tells me none of it matters.  It’s all just a chimera.

What’s real is the world of the spirit.  What’s real is my relationship to God and His desire to have me draw closer to Him.  What’s real are the virtues that I’m acquiring which will serve me well in the next world.  What’s real is my prayer life.

I love the prayer of the Bab which starts “I beg Thee to forgive me, O my Lord, for every mention but the mention of Thee, and for every praise but the praise of Thee . . .”  (Baha’i Prayers, p. 79).  It tells me what’s really important.

Remembering to let go of my attachment to the world, 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

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

 

Turning to God 

Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

I am constantly dismayed by the things I see around me – the petty feuds that separate families and lead to war, the materialism that takes people away from God and from their true selves, the extremes of wealth and poverty, the violence and abuse that destroys lives, the addictions that consume individuals, the state of politics and religion, the general state of the world and most of all, the powerlessness I feel about all of it.

When I think of how much of my life has been spent worrying about the things of this world, over which I have no control, and I read this quote, my heart is lightened.  When I open my eyes to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved, I remember that God has a plan, which none of us can know or understand but which necessitates the decline of the old world order so something better can be built in its stead.  When I remember that turning to God and pleading for His intervention can have a positive effect on all of it, my drooping soul is refreshed and strengthened.  God is asking me to close my eyes to the world, so I can see things through His eyes and to remember that He’s in charge.  This is the best way to walk through my life with peace and ease.  This is the best way to forgive it all.

Remembering that God is in charge of everything that happens, 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

Patience

We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 456)

As a recovering perfectionist, who likes to think she’s in control of her world, I often find myself impatient with others who don’t move as quickly as I do, who don’t do things the way I would do them or don’t do them the way I want them done.  Worse, I am often impatient with God, and when He doesn’t answer my prayers fast enough, I take them back and try to solve them myself!  I think that living in a world of instant communication and drive through fast food restaurants, I forget that the journey is more important than the destination; the process is more important than the event.

In God’s world, there is no time; no past or present.  There’s just now, and in this moment, I have all the time, money, love and energy I need to take the next right action.  When I’m looking for a certain result, I’m in self-will and functioning from my ego and when I take time to pause, pray, meditate, give my life over to God, breathe and take the next right action, there’s no need for impatience.  When I find myself impatient, I can remember this quote and not beat myself up because I know that if it’s OK for the Manifestations to get tired and cry out in despair, God still loves me when I’m in this state.

Relaxing into the moment, trusting God with the journey and all the obstacles in my path, 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