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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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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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