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Trials are Essential for Establishing the Will of God

“In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Bahá, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this formative age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Iranian believers resident in various countries throughout the world, February 10, 1980)

Over the past couple of weeks, different Baha’is have sent me information that could be considered COVID conspiracy theories, asking me what I thought of them, or worse, asking for my support in spreading this material to others.  On the one hand, I’m usually open to learning new things and in the grand scheme of things, am often left-leaning in my beliefs.  On the other hand, in this case, I’m definitely on the side of balancing religion with science, and obedience to government, so I take great comfort in quotes such as this one.

Even the most credentialed epidemiologists have been bewildered by the nature and scope of this virus – the list of symptoms keep expanding, and the age of those effected keep lowering.  Even the wisest of scientists are perplexed as to the remedy as they try to determine why some immune systems of seemingly healthy individuals cause all sorts of life-threatening complications; while others considered “high risk” experience a milder version of the disease or have no symptoms at all.  Because the “rules” of this pandemic seem to keep shifting, it’s easy for people to grab onto conspiracy theories.

But what if, instead of grabbing onto the ideas of these alarmists, we accept that this new virus has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and that it’s all essential for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth?  What if we saw it as another evidence of the inevitable decline of the old world order, bring humanity to their knees, to ultimately being us to the Most Great Peace we all long for?  What if, in this formative age and period of transition, we focus our attention on continuing to build an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes?  I think this is what the House of Justice is leading us towards, as they help us navigate these tumultuous waves.

Knowing I can listen to the voices of science and the guidance of the House of Justice as I navigate 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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How Bad is Lying? 

If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, countervail them; nay its evils would even outweigh them and its detriment prove greater.  It were better for thee that thou shouldst be a blasphemer and tell the truth than that thou shouldst mouth the formulas of faith and yet be a liar.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Trustworthiness, p. 12)

I love the visual imagery in this quote.  There are certain sins which weigh heavily on my mind long after I’ve asked God to forgive them, and yet, compared to lying, they weren’t that important.  I like to think of myself as fairly honest and trustworthy, yet recently it’s come to my mind that I do a lot of lying to myself.  I don’t think that’s unusual – lots of people are in denial about something.  I’ve covered a lot of these in my previous article:  The Lies We Tell Ourselves  and We are Not Our Thoughts

But what about white lies?  A white lie is typically about a small or seemingly unimportant matter told to avoid hurting another person.  Our culture accepts white lies and even condones them.  Some studies have shown that Americans tell (on average) 1-2 lies a day.  We might tell lies to flatter (no you don’t look fat) or to avoid conflict (it was on sale).  No matter our motives, we lie to protect ourselves and, in the end, lies only harm us.  One lie could lead to another, creating a slippery slope that erodes trust leading to suspicion and eroding unity.  Since everything Bahá’u’lláh came for was to promote unity, and all His laws lead us there, it makes sense that lying would outweigh all other sins.  When we strive to be authentic, fighting through the awkwardness of potentially hurting, disappointing or frustrating people, we learn how to deliver the truth with words as mild as milk, which brings people together and strengthens the bonds of affection and trust.

Knowing that with God’s help, I can find the courage to be truthful, 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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The Importance of Faith 

When the light of faith is kindled in the lamp of the heart and soul, its spreading rays illumine every limb of the body. When this resplendent light shineth forth through the medium of the tongue, it is made manifest in the powers of speech and utterance. When its beams fall upon the eyes, insight and true vision are revealed, and when it stirreth the ear, it bestoweth attentive hearing. When this light sheddeth its radiance upon the mind, it leadeth to the recognition of the All-Merciful, and when it setteth aglow the limbs, it findeth expression in purity and the worship of God. Otherwise, all physical powers, all limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert. (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, [4])

This is a newly translated tablet and on first blush, it seems to be a wonderful reminder of the importance of faith, and the gifts we get when faith is kindled in our hearts and souls.  It begs the question, though, what happens to those who don’t have faith?  `Abdu’l-Bahá says all their “limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert.”  I wonder at the analogy seeming to fall short.

Is He saying that with faith, our speech and utterance have power; we are given insight, true vision and attentive hearing; we recognize God and worship Him with purity of heart but without faith, speech and utterance have no power, we don’t get insights or recognize God?

Knowing I have faith and being reminded of the gifts it bestows, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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What to Do Instead of Gossip and Backbiting

If some people come to thee alone complaining against each other, don’t listen to them, don’t let them breathe the faults of others in thy presence. Tell them: “I have not come here to engage my time with these things. I am not a judge. I have come to summon the people to the Kingdom of Abha, to call you to unity and accord, to raise the dead, make mindful those who are unaware, awaken those who are asleep, breathe new life into the mouldering bones and sound the trumpet of resurrection! Friends! . . . You must not listen to anyone speaking about another; because no sooner do you listen to one than you must listen to someone else, and thus the circle will be enlarged endlessly. Therefore, say to them: “O friends! Let us come together, forget all our self-thoughts and be in one accord, and cry at the top of our voices, ‘Ya-Baha-El-Abha!’  (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)

I often get drawn into other people’s gossip, no matter how much I try to stay clear of it.  In fact, just yesterday, a neighbor was confiding in me some of her concerns about the neighbors in our building, whose actions are attracting the police several times a week.  I too am seriously concerned about this.  I knew she needed to vent, and I knew it was verging on backbiting.  All I could do was pray silently in my head:  “Ya Baha’u’l-Abha!”, over and over again.  Once she’d said her piece, and I acknowledged her concern, without engaging myself, she went on her way, happy to have been heard.  I went away feeling poisoned by the experience, but grateful I at least knew how to pray.

I was at fault for listening to her, knowing she was backbiting, knowing that she would repeat her sad tale to other tenants in the building and keep the story going.  I did try to focus my comments on her and her concerns, rather than the problems of our neighbors.  I did tell her I was systematically praying for the people in our building, which seemed to take her aback, and caused her to give me a big hug, which she has never done before.  Please God, let it be enough!

Knowing there are steps I can take when listening to the faults of others, 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Listening to the Faults of Others

It is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbit­ing. We should therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in our presence.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p.  94)

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be part of conversations where people are complaining about others.  It seems to be happening so often and when I get caught up in it, it feels like I’m sitting in a vat full of poison.  I used to like hanging out in the common room in our apartment building to get to know my neighbors, but despite my best efforts to elevate the level of conversation, it always leaves me drained so now I avoid it entirely.  I used to appreciate eating at the soup kitchen as it really helped keep my food budget down but when I heard people criticizing the organization that fed us, I couldn’t bear it so now I don’t go there either.

Some days I think I’m really withdrawing from the world to avoid the conflict and can easily get caught up in judging myself harshly for it.  This quote gives me some comfort because it doesn’t say I have to stay and make things better, which I used to believe, it says I need to do my utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in my presence.  Avoiding the ungodly is acceptable in God’s eyes!

Knowing it’s OK to prevent others from making accusations or complaints in my presence 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Why We Let Go of Our Tales and Stories 

It is high time for you to throw away these tales, these barren stories. God is not pleased with them, humanity is not pleased with them, Your time is too costly to be expended on these trifling events. You are made in the image and likeness of God. Your birthright is more valuable than all the treasures of the empires. Arise with heart and soul and let not these golden days slip by without results! This day is the day of the splendors of the Sun of Reality! This day is the day of the Lord of the Kingdom! This day is the day of the fulfillment of glorious promises! This day is the day of joy and fragrance!  (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)

YIKES!  I love quotes that are very clear!  ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s bluntness is refreshing:

  • God is not pleased with our tales and barren stories (told about ourselves as well as others); our petty bickerings and jealousies
  • humanity is not pleased with them
  • Your time is too costly to be expended on these trifling events
  • Petty bickerings and jealousies
    • make one lose all the traces of spirituality
    • excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones
    • submerge one in the sea of phantasms
    • suffer one to become cold and pessimistic
    • throw him headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness!

Then He reminds us of our station:

  • You are made in the image and likeness of God.
  • Your birthright is more valuable than all the treasures of the empires.

And what to do instead:

  • arise with heart and soul
  • let not these golden days slip by without results!

And reminds us of the purpose of this day:

  • This day is the day of the splendors of the Sun of Reality!
  • This day is the day of the Lord of the Kingdom!
  • This day is the day of the fulfillment of glorious promises!
  • This day is the day of joy and fragrance!

Having such clear warnings, reminders and instructions, I have my marching orders 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

 

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