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Perfecting Our Life and Character

Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being “perfect as our heavenly father is perfect” and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. (From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, pp. 5–7)

The current pandemic has activated my “compare and despair” as I look around to see what I’m doing to self-isolate and judging those individuals and businesses who are not.  This morning I realized that my lifestyle lends itself easily to isolation but for others, the situation is a lot more complex.  Not everyone is able to work from home; not everyone has the luxury of a guaranteed income; not everyone is used to doing grocery shopping once a month or every 6 weeks; not everyone is used to spending large amounts of time alone; not everyone has a spiritual core to draw on.  In so many ways, I’m luckier than many of my family and friends.  I want to focus on being grateful for what I have and compassionate and forgiving of those with less.

COVID-19 is calling on all of us to let go of the need to be perfect; to let go of expectations of ourselves and others; to see the good in others and reflect it back.  As the House of Justice says in the Naw Ruz letter, it’s our job to:

  • Rise above the horizon of firmness and steadfastness with illumined faces and radiant brows
  • Obliterate the gloom of fear and consternation
  • Let the light of assurance dawn above the horizon and shine resplendently
  • Bring hope and strength of spirit
  • Nurture the attributes of unity and fellow feeling
  • Nurture knowledge and understanding
  • Nurture a spirit of collective worship and common endeavor
  • Strengthen bonds of friendship
  • Foster tranquility, confidence and reliance on God
  • Provide elevated conversations to bring a source of comfort and inspiration to many
  • Focus our prayers on the health and well-being of all the Friends of God and for the relief of suffering

Knowing what’s expected of me during this pandemic, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Cleansing our Hearts of Estrangement and Conflict

Root out the sources of dissension and raise up the foundations of harmony. Cling tenaciously to the hem of the love of God and cleanse your hearts of any trace of estrangement or conflict. Thus may the light of divine bestowal shine resplendent, and ye become the recipients of the effulgent glory of the Sun of Truth. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, [15])

The other day I learned that someone in our community had decided not to have any more contact with the Bahá’í community.  I shouldn’t have been surprised because we haven’t seen her out to anything in many years, but the comment took me by surprise and I took offense.  Not only that, I began to blame myself, wondering what I might have done to cause this reaction.  Suddenly her estrangement became my own.  Now instead of one person upset, the numbers had doubled.  I may not have caused her initial problem, but I was certainly now the source of dissension.

I find it interesting to learn the wisdom in letting go of the inner conflict and desire for estrangement.  It’s so I can receive divine bestowals and become the recipient of God’s glory.  To receive these gifts, I don’t have to do anything to change my attitude towards her.  I don’t have to detach from my righteous indignation and hurt.  All I have to do, is cling tenaciously to the hem of the love of God.  I can do that!

Knowing the many benefits of clinging to God’s love, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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The Strongest Spiritual Test We Can Meet

Yet who can doubt that all the central Figures demonstrated to the whole of mankind an assured and happy way of life? Here is where their example seems particularly precious. To rise above the disappointments, obstacles, and pain which we experience in serving the Cause is difficult enough, but to be called on, in doing so, to be happy and confident is perhaps the keenest spiritual test any of us can meet. (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

O dear!  I don’t like that not only do I have to find a way to rise above disappointments, obstacles and pain, but I also have to be happy and confident too?  Sometimes I really think God asks too much of me!  That’s how I feel today, in the middle of feeling sorry for myself.

This morning, believing I was acting on a prompting from spirit, I tried to tackle a 2-person job all by myself.  I failed miserably and made the problem worse, and sunk into hopelessness, despair and self-pity as a result.  Fortunately, I don’t indulge in those emotions as often as I used to, because I’ve learned that happiness is a choice, as this quote seems to imply.  I identified the feeling, got up and walked for 10 minutes, praying for my neighbors as I walked and came back feeling ready to tackle the next meeting, grateful to have had the opportunity to be of service to someone.

Learning how to behave from the central figures of our Faith, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Reading our Reality

[I]t is only through continued action, reflection and consultation on their part that they will learn to read their own reality, see their own possibilities, make use of their own resources.  (Universal House of Justice, Framework for Action, #16)

I’m in a dilemma as we approach the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, in that when I read my own reality, I don’t know which voices to listen to.  On the one hand, I don’t want to attend the event planned in a town half an hour away, because it is past my bedtime and I don’t see to drive at night, even if I was to lean on God’s energy to stay up later than my body is comfortable with, so I’m judging myself harshly.

On the other hand, I have held two devotional gatherings geared to the success of all the events worldwide, consulted with the organizers of the night event and provided resources and planned an event for the next day, to celebrate it with others who are in a similar situation.

It’s enough!  God doesn’t expect me to do more than I can do.  He knows my weakness and my limitations and loves me just the way I am.  Now I need to be more forgiving and compassionate of my own poor self, trusting I’m doing my part.

Learning how to consult, act and reflect as a way to read my reality, I am at peace 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Giving Thanks from the Heart

But real thankfulness is a cordial giving of thanks from the heart. When man in response to the favors of God manifests susceptibilities of conscience, the heart is happy, the spirit is exhilarated. These spiritual susceptibilities are ideal thanksgiving.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 236)

When I was a child, I learned to write “bread and butter” letters whenever someone gave me something.  I was taught that this letter of thanks was proper etiquette and plain duty.  It was kind of formulaic and definitely wasn’t from the heart.  Most of the time I didn’t know or didn’t even like the person who’d sent it, but it was my duty.  I suppose it was better than nothing.

That’s why I love this quote so much.  When I’m constantly looking for evidences of God’s bounties and blessings and holding out my receptacle to catch them all, it’s easy to be effusive in my gratitude and it is definitely more sincere and from the heart.

Want to be happy?  Want to exhilarate your spirit?  It’s as simple as moving from the lower nature to the high, moving from obligation (in the head) to gratitude (from the heart.)

Knowing another way to be happy 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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5 Ways to Overcome Setbacks

We note that when learning accelerates, the friends grow more capable of overcoming setbacks, whether small or large – diagnosing their root causes, exploring the underlying principles, bringing to bear relevant experience, identifying remedial steps and assessing progress . . . (Universal House of Justice, Framework for Action, p. 35)

I love how the House of Justice is always giving us practical tools we can apply to our lives!  This quote is really about the community building process, but it’s easily transferable to any setback we have, not just in our Baha’i service.

A setback I’ve had recently is spending money on something I thought I had budgeted for, but after paying for it, I realized I didn’t.  Being debt-free and solvent is a high value of mine so this was a big deal.  With the help of this quote, here are the steps I took:

  1. diagnose the root causes: I’d forgotten that while there was money previously allocated for this purpose, I’d used it to cover a previous expense last month.  I’d recorded it, but forgot I’d done it, and forgot to check the budget.
  2. explore the underlying principles: I wanted to cross this item off the “to do” list before going on holidays (my will not God’s).  I ignored my intuition to check the budget first.
  3. bring relevant experience to bear: Having made mistakes in the past, and wanting to not beat myself up about it, thereby feeding my addiction to adrenaline, I reminded myself to forgive myself and ask God to find a way to cover the expense, from His hidden treasury, which He has done for me many times in the past.
  4. identify remedial steps: There was nothing I could do before leaving, except to give it to God and let Him work His magic.
  5. assess progress: When I get home, I can anticipate that God will show me ways to cover this expense.

Remembering to use the tools we’ve been given to help solve problems and move from the lower nature to the higher, I am grateful!

What setback are you experiencing in your life today and how can this process help?  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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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