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God’s Forgiveness

And shouldst thou recognize thy powerlessness, do thou rein in thy passions, and return unto thy Lord, that perchance He may forgive thee thy sins . . . (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 83)

I love the reminder to recognize my powerlessness at the beginning of this quote.  In the Short Obligatory Prayer, I admit to my powerlessness everyday, but for years, I didn’t stop to think about what that meant.  What exactly am I powerless over?  Now that I focus on that question, I realize that it changes from day to day.  When I’m conscious of exactly what it is, I can surrender, admit defeat, detach and give it to God to solve.  This strengthens my relationship with Him and helps strengthen whatever virtue I need in the moment, which fulfills my purpose in life.

Here’s an example from my life – today I’m feeling powerless over correcting a mess left by someone I hired to do a job I can’t do.  I’m totally powerless over whether or not he’ll come back to fix it, when he’ll do it, whether he’ll include it in his original invoice, or whether he’ll charge me more to do something that should have been done right the first time.  To “rein in my passions”, I need to first recognize and admit I’m feeling resentful, suspicious and full of self-pity, and then remember that I can’t turn these into patience, trust and forgiveness without asking God for help.  Whenever someone does something to me and I’m pointing a finger, there are always 3 fingers pointing back at me, so I’m learning to be grateful for the mirror held up in front of me.  When I remember the times I’ve been inconsiderate, imperfect and dishonest and am able to ask God to forgive me, He always does, because He is the All-Merciful, the All-Loving, the Ever Forgiving.

Knowing God forgives me helps me to forgive others, 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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Forgiving Myself 

Change is an evolutionary process requiring loving education, patience with oneself and others, and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradu­ally discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying Teachings of the Cause. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 621)

I’m just learning how harsh I am with myself – I beat myself up so often, especially when I read the Bahá’í Writings.  I see how far I am from being the kind of Bahá’í I want to be, and it fills me with contempt and self-hatred.  I recognize this well-worn rut for what it is – it’s become my addiction.  Putting these negative thoughts on the hamster wheel inside my head and nursing them gives me the adrenaline rush I’ve come to know and depend on, just as an alcoholic depends on the next drink or the drug addict on the next fix.  Something needs to change.  I’m powerless to do it myself.  Along comes this quote, and challenges the voices inside my head.

It’s OK to not be perfect!  Change is an evolution.  I’m not expected to go from awareness to perfection, without the need for further loving education, patience and the passage of time.  Beating myself up is hardly the kind of education that works with anyone.  In fact I would never do to others what I do to myself.  I can take a deep breath, and breathe in God’s love for me and in doing so, letting it rub off on me.  I can cultivate patience.  I can keep deepening my knowledge of the principles of the Faith and gradually, one day at a time, discard these long-held idle fancies as I progressively conform my life to the unifying teachings of the Cause.

Knowing I can discard the drug of self-hatred and adrenalizing and cultivate the drug of love, acceptance, peace, patience, faith and trust, 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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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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