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Effect of Illness on the Soul 

That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments.  Con­sider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 154)

If I understand this quote, correctly, I think it’s saying that when we’re physically sick, our souls are healthy, but unable to manifest their inherent might and power.  When we recover, though, our souls will have so much influence and power, that no force on earth can equal them and those who are pure, refined and sanctified will rejoice with exceeding gladness.

It’s true that when I’m physically or emotionally sick, I find it hard to pray and even to trust God, which surely creates a veil between the two of us.  If I’m sick enough, though, my soul cries out for relief and I’m always grateful when the prayer is answered.  I think illness and pain are some of the tests we undergo for the perfection of our souls, to help us develop the virtues we need the most and to draw us closer to God.  I often imagine that when we pass these tests, the Concourse on High celebrates with us.  The exciting part of this quote for me though is knowing that when we recover from our illness, we have a huge power at our disposal.  I wonder what my life would be like if I acted “as if” I believed this?  What would I be able to accomplish then?

Knowing there is a purpose for my sicknesses, 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!

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Letting Go of Backbiting

I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbit­ing is the cause of Divine wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonored among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding. One must expose the praiseworthy qualities of the souls and not their evil attributes. The friends must overlook their shortcomings and faults and speak only of their virtues and not their defects.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. IV, No.11, p. 192)

I’ve written before on the topic of backbiting but it’s not surprising that there are so many quotes dealing with this issue, since it is considered the “most-great sin”.  In today’s quote we’re reminded again why we don’t do it – because it causes Divine wrath and makes me dishonored among everyone in the world.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want God to be angry at me.  I imagine Him angry at me for things I haven’t done, at times when I’m sure He’s more likely to be the “all-forgiving” and “ever-compassionate” and “all-merciful” but this is one time when He really is the “all-wrathful”.  That alone is enough to make me want to stop!  So I love this quote because it tells me what to do instead.

I can:

  • Overlook people’s shortcomings and faults
  • Praise people cordially
  • Expose their praiseworthy characteristics
  • Speak only of their virtues and not their defects

Our society is so immersed in gossip and backbiting that it’s easy to fall into it.  When the House of Justice asks us to engage in “elevated discourse”, this is an easy way to do it.  Now when I find myself with people who are engaging in backbiting, I can turn to Him and ask for help to remember to take these actions.

Knowing what to do instead of backbiting, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Wanting What We Don’t Have 

Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 50)

Wow, envy is such a test for me!  I often fall into “compare and despair” where I compare myself to others and want what they have.  It might be something material (a better house, car, job, vacation), or physical (longer legs, shorter nose) or relational (an ideal spouse, perfect kids, lots of family and friends) or something intangible (more confidence, better social skills).  When I’m focused on what I don’t have or get caught up in “keeping up with the Jones’s” or wanting a better social status, it’s hard to be happy or reliant on God.  Envy lowers my self-worth and self-esteem and deprives me of the opportunity to see and be grateful for what I do have.

The antidote to envy is to accept who we are, count our blessings, ask God to provide us with what we need, rejoice in the good fortune of others and believe in God’s perfect justice. Also, we can use envy wisely if it makes us aspire to be a better person and work hard to succeed in our endeavors.

Remembering that letting go of envy and embracing contentment will enable me to be loved and praised by God, 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!

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Choices and Failures 

 And yet, behold how, when He did bring the truth, ye refused to turn your faces towards Him, and persisted in disporting yourselves with your pastimes and fancies. Ye welcomed Him not, neither did ye seek His Presence, that ye might hear the verses of God from His own mouth, and partake of the manifold wisdom of the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise. Ye have, by reason of your failure,  hindered the breath of God from being wafted over you, and have withheld from your souls the sweetness of its fragrance. Ye continue roving with delight in the valley of your corrupt desires. Ye, and all ye possess, shall pass away. Ye shall, most certainly, return to God, and shall be called to account for your doings in the presence of Him Who shall gather together the entire creation.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 246)

We need the fear of God just as much as we need to know about the love of God and in this passage we see both.  We see a warning that when we refuse to turn our faces towards Him, and persist in disporting ourselves with our pastimes and fancies, continuing to rove with delight in the valley of our corrupt desires, we deprive ourselves of many things.  When we welcome Him and seek His Presence, we might hear the verses of God from His own mouth, and partake of His manifold wisdom.  We will feel the breath of God being wafted over us and inhale the sweetness of its fragrance.  Then He ends with a warning and a reminder:  We, and all we possess, will pass away, return to God, and shall be called to account for our doings.

The choice is always ours, every minute of every day.  Will we turn to God or to our own lower natures?  Will we reach for the choice wine or accept the things our own minds devise?  Do we want what’s best for us for eternity or are we content with short term pleasures?  Do we believe the promises of God or consider the ideas of our own minds?  The choice is ours.

Understanding I have choices and can reach for what’s best, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Change

Unless the season of winter appear, thunder roll, lightning flash, snow and rain fall, hail and frost descend and the intensity of cold execute its command, the season of the soul-refreshing spring would not come, the fragrant breeze would not waft, the moderation of temperature would not be realized, the roses and hyacinths would not grow, the surface of the earth would not become a delectable paradise, the trees would not bloom, neither would they bring forth fruits and leaves. That fierce inclemency of cold, snow, frost and tempest was the beginning of the manifestation of these roses, hyacinths, buds, blossoms and fruits.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 655)

When I was married, I did a lot of growing, educationally, professionally and spiritually but my husband stayed stuck.  He was happy to support me in my endeavors and I was grateful.  I wanted more of an equal partner, though.  Our marriage predictably fell into trouble and I went to 12 marriage counsellors trying to find a way to save it and then all said “there’s no hope.  You have to divorce.”  I knew at the time, that there was one thing I needed to know, which would let me hang in, but I wasn’t able to find it, and the marriage ended.

Many years later, I found the idea of the need for the four seasons.  Many of us marry in spring, where everything is green and fresh and there’s growth everywhere.  When the honeymoon is over, we settle into summer, where everything is warm and cozy.  Then the autumn comes, and change starts to set in.  Leaves begin to change colours.  Instead of being the green we love, I may be yellow and he may be red and I don’t recognize him anymore.  Then winter sets in and everything is cold and dead.  I think most divorces happen in winter, when we forget that winter is always followed by spring.  That’s why I love this quote so much.  It reminds me of the importance of winter.  If I’d understood these things when I was still married, it would have helped me hold on.

Remembering the importance of winter in our lives, I can hold on during times of tests, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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True Love

 The world today is submerged, amongst other things, in an over-exaggeration of the importance of physical love, and a dearth of spiritual values. In as far as possible the believers should try to realign this and rise above the level of their fellow-men who are, typical of all decadent periods in history, placing so much over-emphasis on the purely physical side of mating. Outside of their normal, legitimate married life they should seek to establish bonds of comradeship and love which are eternal and founded on the spiritual life of man, not on his physical life.  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Marriage and Family Life, p. 14)

This is one of the hardest quotes for many people inside and outside the Faith to understand, that our spiritual life is more important than sex.  I find it hard to rise above the level of those around me, who I fear are judging me for my “holier than thou” attitude.  This creates a barrier between me and other people, because I tend to avoid movies, TV shows, books and magazines that promote sex and stay away from those who who indulge in pornography and extra-marital sex.  I don’t mean to be judging them.  I mean only to use discernment in how to keep my own thoughts and actions pure.  This leads to a lot of loneliness’ and isolation.  I’m serving in an inactive cluster so find it hard to maintain relationships with like-minded people.

After a life of moving every two years, I’m coming to realize that I don’t have the ability to seek to establish friendships founded on spiritual life and I’m learning that this is a capacity I can develop, and find true love with my “best lover” and myself first, so that I have that love to give out to others.

It’s OK to rise above the level of my neighbors and put my faith in the importance of maintaining spiritual values, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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