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How Hate Repels Us Away From the Truth

 He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of . . . hate may linger therein, lest . . . that hate repel him away from the truth.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264)

This quote reminds me of one of the phrases Linda Popov (of the Virtues Project) used in all her trainings:  “Don’t get furious, get curious.”

I have a tendency to believe that everyone thinks the same way I do, and has the same values as I do, especially if they are Baha’is, but I’m coming to discover, late in life, that this is very seldom true.  I have my way and everyone else has theirs, and they are all equally valid (unless they’re in direct opposition to the teachings of the Faith, of course).

It’s easy to get resentful when people do things that hurt or disappoint me and not so easy to remember to be loving and forgiving.  When I remember to get curious, to look for their truth, and I have an explanation I can accept, even if I don’t agree with it, the resentment melts away.

Being reminded to replace hate for curiosity and remember to look for the truth, 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Personal Ambitions Don’t Bring Happiness

The fulfillment of our personal ambitions in life is very seldom what brings us happiness. On the contrary, it usually arouses an entire group of new ambitions. On the other hand, when we immerse ourselves in our duties both as human beings, to our families and our associates, and as Bahá’ís toward the Cause of God and serving it to the best of our ability in the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we begin to know what happiness means. (Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 23 May 1956 in Family Life, #108)

As a recovering work, service and activity addict, I’ve had to learn this the hard way.  I was into my 60’s before I could see that my ambitions weren’t bringing me happiness.  Keeping busy filled a lot of time and helped me feel productive.  Work, service and activities kept the grief of the past from overwhelming the present and it also drove people away because I didn’t make time for relationship-building.

When I was turning 60, I did some research about what to expect from the next decade, expecting to find a lot of information on planning for retirement, but instead what I found were a lot of articles talking about the importance of relationships and health.  According to some research, if we don’t have nurturing relationships by this time in our lives, we are more likely suffer more complex health challenges and to die earlier.  The more I studied addiction, the more this made sense.  Current thinking is that addiction isn’t caused by the thing we’re addicted to – it’s caused by lack of relationships and using other substances and activities to fill the holes in our souls.

So I was happy to find this quote in my reading today, because it reminded me that instead of focusing on achieving my own ambitions to the exclusion of all else, there were other things I could do to have more balance and moderation in my life:

  • immerse myself in my duties towards myself (including self-care)
  • immerse myself in my duties towards my family and friends (including more contact, more love, more forgiveness)
  • immerse myself in my duties as a Bahá’í toward the Cause of God (including more prayer and meditation; and striving to put the Teachings into action)
  • serving the Cause of God to the best of my ability in the circumstances in which I find myself (including reading my reality and aligning my service to the will of God instead of forcing myself into activity meant for someone else)

Being reminded of where true happiness lies, I can focus my attention away from my own ambitions 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 Learning How to Be Happy

 

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Man’s Highest Station

Man’s highest station, however, is attained through faith in God in every Dispensation and by acceptance of what hath been revealed by Him . . .

This quote came to my attention at just the right moment.  My life has been fraught with so much abuse, trauma, loss and disappointment that I often long for my next life to begin.  The Bahá’í Writings promise a much better life next time round and I’m looking forward to that.  I know that one of the purposes in this life is to acquire the virtues I’ll need in the next world, so some time ago, maybe when I was a new Bahá’í, I decided to set the bar high for myself, so that I could perfect as many virtues as possible, to acquire as many “spiritual brownie points” as possible to guarantee my best possible life in the next world.  The Writings are full of “if you do this, God will do that” and being a black and white thinker, I latched onto these and strove to put them all into practice, and then beat myself up mercilessly when I couldn’t reach the standards I thought were being set for me by the Writings and the ongoing guidance of the House of Justice.

Nowhere do I feel this more keenly than when the statistics officer calls and asks what service I’m offering to my mostly inactive, very white cluster with a handful of elderly Bahá’ís who don’t have the energy to participate anymore.  Because I haven’t been able to interest the local Bahá’ís or the wider community in the core activities, most of my service is in this online environment.  My articles for this blog and for the Bahá’í Teachings blog reach so many people that I can take comfort that I am participating in a mass teaching event, and I can view the online environment as my receptive population, but none of it counts in the statistics.  None of it helps my cluster get to milestone 2 (when we aren’t even at milestone 1 yet).  None of it can I find in the ongoing messages of the House of Justice.  All of this leads me into such deep despair that I burned out trying.

I believe that God is happy with my puny efforts, and can look Him in the eye when I get to the Pearly Gates.  I see evidence that He magnifies my teaching and service activities and sends me opportunities to serve in ways that unfold easily and effortlessly.  I know at some level that I can’t bargain with God for a better future, and slowly I’ve been learning about God’s infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of my sins.  I’m learning that I don’t need brownie points.  All of this flies out the window when I read the latest letter from the House of Justice and can’t find me and my efforts in it.  For some time, I’ve been praying most fervently for God to show me in the Writings that my efforts are OK.  Through this process, I’ve come to remember that my purpose in life is to know and worship God and not to get my cluster to milestone 2.

All of this to say that this quote seems to be what I was looking for.  I’ve already reached my highest station, because I have faith in God in every Dispensation and I totally accept everything that has been revealed by Him.  Thank you God for answered prayers.  Please help me remember, so I can stop abasing myself!

Knowing I’ve already reached the highest station there is, I can stop judging myself 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

One Soul Can Illuminate a Continent

Human frailties and peculiarities can be a great test. But the only way, or perhaps I should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations, is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. (From a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, in Living the Life, p. 39)

The thing that’s always stood out for me when I read this quote is “one soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent”, and o how I long to be that soul!  How I long for my life to matter and to make a real difference in this world.  I used to think this required big things (like bringing large numbers of people into the Faith or finding a cure for cancer), but I’ve since come to believe that when I’m given my life review at the pearly gates, the highlight of my life might have been that I smiled at the right person at the right time.  None of us know.

I’ve been a homefront pioneer in one place or another, for most of my Baha’i life, and whenever I am overcome by my human frailties it really helps when people remind me that I’m a bright light in a dark place, if nothing else.  But what does it mean to “do what is right” and how can this be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent”?  My hunch is that just by integrating the Baha’i Writings to the best of our ability, we all have a far greater impact on way more people than we realize, and maybe that’s a good thing because it keeps us humble.

When one person influences a few others, there is a ripple effect that, over time, can actually impact thousands of people over many generations.  I’m reminded of the “butterfly effect”, where a simple event can cause a cascade of other events, even on the other side of the globe.  Or the the “hundredth monkey effect” where there is a spontaneous transference of knowledge throughout a species once a certain number of individuals has learned a new idea.  Both of these have been proven scientifically.

Think of ten people who, just by saying or doing one thing at the right time, have had a profound impact on your life. Some of them may be people you hardly even know.  The same thing works in reverse. We have no idea how many people we can influence and help just by sharing our experiences and insights.  Simply talking to our neighbors can start a chain reaction.

The House of Justice is continually giving us guidance on what we can do to make a difference – it can be as simple as doing a home visit, or elevating the level of discourse around us, encouraging the people around us to stay focused on the long-term goal and by being the one person they can turn to for hope.

Knowing I can make a difference in spite of my frailties and peculiarities, 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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One Person Can’t Do Everything

A unity in diversity of actions is called for, a condition in which different individuals will concentrate on different activities, appreciating the salutary effect of the aggregate on the growth and development of the Faith, because each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do the same thing.  (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 80)

I live in a tiny cluster, maybe 25 Baha’is on paper, mostly inactive.  It used to be a very active cluster when we all had kids at home, but they grew up and most of them left the Faith.  Those left behind couldn’t deal with the change in the direction the teaching work took, once we formalized clusters and started the community building process.

I was one of the first group of tutors in Canada to be trained and stayed current with the letters of the House of Justice and tried valiantly to bring the rest of the community along.  When they wouldn’t, I started taking on jobs that weren’t mine to do and burned out.

I too, have become mostly inactive, but definitely not apathetic.  I still say my prayers, read the Writings, Fast, donate to the Fund, take care of my obligations to the Right of God – all the basics.  I just don’t have the bandwidth to participate in study circles or devotional gatherings anymore.  I want to say “as a result”, our cluster is not even at milestone one, but I realize it’s not my fault.  I can’t make it happen all by myself.  That’s why I love this quote so much.

It reminds me I can’t do everything.  I tried!  In order to get to milestone one, we need a diversity of actions, with different individuals concentrating on different activities.  Until we have this, no real progress can be made.  Please God, hasten the day!

Knowing that one person can’t do everything, I can relax, trust that God loves me 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

If You Like What You Read, Please Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

Creating a Warm Community Atmosphere

Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 439)

A friend of mine passed away this week.  We knew it was coming, but because of COVID, my biggest fear was that she would die alone, with people unable to be with her.  I had to give this one over to God, and He came through, big time.  She went into palliative care in her local hospital on Friday, after being able to live alone up till then, and died on Sunday.  Because she lives in a small town, and all the COVID cases were sent to a large centre, she was allowed to have visitors.  We were all notified when her breathing changed early in the morning and 5 of her closest Bahá’í friends were at her bedside for several hours before she passed.  I live 6 hours away and am her executor, so I too was notified as were her friends around the world, all of us praying for her steadfastness till the end of her life and for the advancement of her soul in the next world.  In case you haven’t seen it, here is a newly translated prayer many of us were saying (in addition to a whole lot of others):

He is God! O Lord! Grant me such grace and bounty, such protection and support, such kindness and security that the last of my days may excel their beginning, and the end of my life commence the bestowal of manifold favours. May some gift or blessing of Thine reach me at every moment, and one of Thy pardons and mercies be granted me with every breath, that beneath the vast shade cast by the hoisted standard, I may return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise. Thou art the Beneficent, the Kind, and Thou art the Lord of grace and bounty.  (Provisional Translation. A prayer for a favorable end to one’s life (extracted from a Tablet of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá written for Áqá Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán)

Her non-Bahá’í cousins and neighbors were all watching this unfold and saw first hand that we were able to “create that warm community atmosphere”.  Please God, let this attract the hearts of everyone watching and let them be impressed by this outpouring evidence of “real love and feeling”.  What better legacy could she leave than that?

Knowing that there are times we get this right, 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 Learning How to Forgive

 

 

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