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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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The Two Meanings of Self

. . . self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá’í Writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as “he hath known God who hath known himself”, etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can de­velop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against . . . in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.  (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 18)

This was the quote that helped me to understand the Baha’i concept of a personified “devil”.  The devil isn’t a being outside me.  He’s built into my very nature as the ego or the shadow side of me that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on.  There’s nothing wrong with me because of it.  It’s how God designed us.  We’re all sinners.  We all have lower natures.  We all need to become awakened to our dual natures so we know how to move from one to the other.

If our purpose in life is to know God and acquire the virtues we need for the next world, how can we acquire them if there is nothing to “struggle against” so we can “strengthen and free the spirit within us”?  It’s all part of our very identity and part of God’s great design and plan for our lives, nothing to fear.

Knowing my dark side was given to me for a purpose, 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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Reading the Book of Myself

One must, then, read the book of his own self, rather than some treatise on rhetoric. Wherefore He hath said, “Read thy Book: There needeth none but thyself to make out an account against thee this day. (Bahá’u’lláh, Seven Valleys and Four Valleys, p. 51) 

Over the years I’ve spent building up my website and my blog and trying to publish my books, I’ve had many steep learning curves and I’ve always turned to guru’s to help me, rather than take my problems to God.  This has caused an inordinate amount of stress and frustration as I’ve literally willed my way through the obstacles and blocks until I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I’d ruined my health and my will.

As I recover from workaholism and an addiction to the adrenaline rush of doing things my way, myself, I’m learning to “read the book of myself”, by listening to my body’s wisdom.  I ask:  what is this ache and pain trying to tell me?  What is God’s will for me in the moment?  What’s the next right action I need to take?  Am I living in the present (the home of serenity) or in the future (the home of anxiety)?

I’m also learning that what other people think of me is none of my business.  I don’t have to be perfect for anyone, including God.  I don’t need anyone’s approval, except God’s.  I can let go of all caretaking, approval seeking and people-pleasing and focus on building a relationship with God and with myself.

God’s opinion and guidance are all I need for today, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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The Need to Retreat 

In the early days of Our arrival in this land, when We discerned the signs of impending events, We decided, ere they happened, to retire. We betook Ourselves to the wilderness, and there, separated and alone, led for two years a life of complete solitude. From Our eyes there rained tears of anguish, and in Our bleeding heart there surged an ocean of agonizing pain. Many a night We had no food for suste­nance, and many a day our body found no rest . . . for in Our solitude We were unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul. Alone, We communed with Our spirit, oblivious of the world and all that is therein.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 250-251)

As a recovering workaholic, and someone committed to recovering from childhood abuse, I sometimes burn out and need months and even years to regroup and recharge.  I used to beat myself up for this mercilessly, especially after tutoring a Ruhi Book or reading a message from the House of Justice.  Phrases such as these would intensify my self-flagellation:  “The time is short”; “there are too few workers”; “we need to make a herculean effort”; “we need to accomplish all these goals by the end of the plan” etc.  Living in an inactive cluster, I took it upon myself to do the work of those who weren’t able to and there was never enough time to do the things that were mine to do.  I felt guilty when I was in these times of pulling back from service.

This quote reminded me that there is an ebb and flow to everything.  It’s such a comfort to remember that Bahá’u’lláh took time away, where He too was “unaware of the harm or benefit, the health or ailment, of any soul”.  Maybe when I’m taking care of my own needs, I’m not being selfish after all!  Thank you God for this reminder!

Knowing I can retreat and not feel guilty, 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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Choosing Love and Mercy 

The attributes of God are love and mercy; the attribute of Satan is hate. Therefore, he who is merciful and kind to his fellowmen is manifesting the divine attribute, and he who is hating and hostile toward a fellow creature is satanic.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 40)

This quote seems clear – our job is to be loving and forgiving, especially when the world wants us to be hating and hostile.  Sometimes easier said than done!  I’m going through a situation now that I’m trying to deal with in the right way and some of the people around me are so angry at what’s happened that they are taking sides and drawing swords and ready to do battle on my behalf.  I’ve had to talk some of them back from the edge, and do it without gossiping or backbiting at a time when I am hurting from the sting of what happened.  It’s been a day-by-day decision to apply the attributes of God.

When I remember the slogan “hurt people hurt people”, it helps me to be more compassionate and understanding.  When I remember that I can give the problem to God and pray for the one who hurt me, I can love her for the sake of God and not be hypocritical.  In addition to extending love and mercy to others, I also need to remember to show it to myself.

Knowing I have a choice to be loving and merciful to myself and others, 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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