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Fearing the Destroyer of the Worlds

The barking of dogs is loud on every side . . . Where are the swords of Thy vengeance, O Destroyer of the worlds?  (Baha’u’llah, Fire Tablet, Baha’i Prayers, p. 213)

Since the war in Ukraine started, I have been absolutely terrified that World War 3 is about to start, and compulsively checking the news for evidence that the “red phones” have been picked up.  I spend hours a day, lost in phone games, totally dissociated.  Very little is getting done, especially during the Fast.

Of course, most of us are upset by the war, but a quick poll of my friends leads me to believe that no one shares my paranoia, so I have to accept that something from the past is coming up to be healed.  Fortunately, this week’s homework in my survivors of incest group, is to process a trigger, and I decided to use this one.  I realized 3 things:

  1. Because of all the abuse I was going through, I wasn’t safe in my family.
  2. Because there were 3 bomb threats at school one winter, I wasn’t safe at school.
  3. Because of the Cuban missile crisis when I was 5 years old, when the USSR put medium to intermediate nuclear missiles in Cuba and the standoff between the USA and USSR came closest the world has ever come to nuclear conflict, and because there was a bomb shelter in the basement of my middle-class suburban western Canadian home, fully stocked with food and water for 2 years so we could survive a “nuclear winter”, the world wasn’t safe either.

All of this is in my face as I relive the terror of those years.  It doesn’t help to be a Bahá’í, knowing that the world has to be brought to its knees before it will turn to Bahá’u’lláh, and much though I long for the Most Great Peace, I don’t long for the calamities that will bring us through.  It also doesn’t help to know that one of the names of God is the Destroyer of the Worlds.  So what does help?  This quote gives some clues:

I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.  Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

It takes discipline to change my thoughts of war to stronger thoughts of peace, but knowing that it will bring me happiness, I am grateful!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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War Makes Me Sad

The problem:

I hope you are all happy and well. I am not happy, but very sad. The news of the Battle of Benghazi grieves my heart. I wonder at the human savagery that still exists in the world! How is it possible for men to fight from morning until evening, killing each other, shedding the blood of their fellow-men: And for what object? To gain possession of a part of the earth!  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

The solution:

When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!  Nothing is impossible to the Divine Benevolence of God.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)

This morning, I was reflecting on the state of the world with a friend whose parents and in-laws were holocaust survivors.  She shares my terror and powerlessness around the current state of the world.  We’re both in full-blown PTSD responses.  We’re both trying to help each other rise above them and learn to trust in God.  This is really hard when I’m in the grips of terror.

Yesterday I found myself feeling like Chicken Little, running around saying “the sky is falling.  The sky is falling” and finding no one as seemingly concerned as I was (which was my clue that this terror was more from a frightened child inside of me, afraid of the monster under the bed than from any immediate threat to me in Canada).

I’ve spent a lot of time in therapy trying to bring those terrorized child parts into the present, saying things like:  “This is 2022.  We’re 65 years old.  Our parents died a long time ago.  Nothing is going to hurt us.  There’s a lock on the door.  No one can come in.  You’re safe.  I can’t say this anymore.

A friend of mine sent me this quote, exactly in the moment I needed it – with the solution embedded with the problem:  “When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands!”  That’s what the House of Justice is telling us in the current series of letters.  Our focus is on building a society where mothers will no longer allow their sons to go to war.  We aren’t there yet, but we know that day is coming, and we have the tools to get there.

Remembering that the solutions to the world’s current problems give me concrete steps I can take, I can relax, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

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Why We Don’t Want War

As you know from your study of the Bahá’í writings, the principle that is to infuse all facets of organized life on the planet is the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity. That humanity constitutes a single people is a truth that, once viewed with scepticism, claims widespread acceptance today. The rejection of deeply ingrained prejudices and a growing sense of world citizenship are among the signs of this heightened awareness. Yet, however promising the rise in collective consciousness may be, it should be seen as only the first step of a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold. (Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)

This morning Russia invaded the Ukraine.  We’ve been anticipating it for weeks.  I was appalled by a headline in the local news media:  “Why the West cares about the situation in Russia-Ukraine”.

Why do we care??!!!???

Because they are our brothers and sisters.  Isn’t that enough?

I didn’t read the article and I’m not going to comment on the substance here, because my intention is not to get into politics, but into compassion and empathy.

My heart is hurting for the Ukrainian people.  The terror they must be feeling is bringing up the terror I lived through as a child.  I’m not there, so I don’t know and yet I grieve.  Maybe that makes me a codependent, or maybe it makes me a Bahá’í.  I don’t know.

What I do know, and believe deeply, is that we are all one, and it seems so self-evident.  I don’t know why the world hasn’t understood it yet. This quote gives me a clue.  Recognition of the oneness of humanity requires the age of maturity before we see widespread acceptance, and humanity is still in the age of adolescence.

More troubling, though, is understanding that it requires a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold.  I have to let go of my impatience, and keep teaching, and keep doing the things we’re being asked to do by the House of Justice, trusting that we’re laying the groundwork that will lead to the Most Great Peace, and let go of my disappointment that I won’t see it in my lifetime.

Understanding that recognition of the oneness of humanity will take centuries to unfold, I can let go of my impatience and trust God with the process, and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Have Hope. This Too Shall Pass

Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Fire Tablet, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 317)

Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Tablet of Ahmad, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 210)

Have hope. It will not always be so.  (Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 2015)

As we were entering into our 4th (this time semi) lockdown, with the rapid spread of the Omicron virus, I began to despair.  Not this again, I thought.  I can’t bear it.  But of course, I can, and I must and I will.

I was contemplating these three quotes and trying to elevate my thoughts and overcome my despair, when I came across the following perspective from a someone on Facebook.  I’m not sure how it popped up on my feed, as I don’t know him, and don’t have any mutual friends, so I can only believe it was the hand of God, trying to reassure me.

For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. When you are 14, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday with 22 million people killed. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until you are 20. Fifty million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

When you’re 29, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, global GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet.

When you’re 41, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war and the Holocaust kills six million. At 52, the Korean War starts and five million perish.

At 64 the Vietnam War begins, and it doesn’t end for many years. Four million people die in that conflict. Approaching your 62nd birthday you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could well have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

As you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends. Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? A kid in 1985 didn’t think their 85 year old grandparent understood how hard school was. Yet those grandparents (and now great grandparents) survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art. Let’s try and keep things in perspective. Let’s be smart, help each other out, and we will get through this. In the history of the world, there has never been a storm that lasted. This too, shall pass.

It gave me such hope, that I posted it on my own Facebook page, and my cousin reminded me that our grandmother had been born in 1900 and moved on a horse-drawn covered wagon from Nebraska to Edmonton, in western Canada with her family, for the free land grants.  Not only did she endure every one of the calamities above, but her entire world also changed in that move.  Could I withstand so many ordeals?  I really doubt it!  Leaving my “severe mental tests” from childhood trauma aside, all I have to deal with is “stay home to stay safe”.  It seems like such a small thing, in comparison with everything she suffered.

I have a hard time relating to Bahá’u’lláh’s suffering, but I can certainly understand my grandmother’s.  If she can do it, it’s in my DNA and I can too.

Knowing I have resilience built into my DNA, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

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Days of Blissful Joy 

O my servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will no doubt attain.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Advent of Divine Justice, p. 69)

Funny story: In the early days of my recovery, I wrote to the House of Justice for guidance, and they sent me this quote without attribution, so for a very long time, I thought it was written by them, just for me! Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was written by Baha’u’llah for the whole world! My ego was crushed, probably a good thing!

When I first studied this quote in the context of healing from my abusive past, it gave me great comfort knowing that better days were to come.  Since then, I’ve had what seems to have been a lifetime of “things contrary to my wishes” happen to such an extent that I’ve stopped hoping and dreaming.

It’s possible I could be alive for another 30 years and I want the rest of my life to be different.  I don’t want to spend any more days waiting to die, so I can have a better life.  This quote promises that I can have days of blissful joy in this world, so I want to hold onto that hope and look for these days.  It’s possible they may have come (and be coming) in ways I didn’t anticipate.

I might never get anything I pray for, but if I approach life with radiant acquiescence, I might find the joy in the tests and struggles and spiritual growth.

Finding solace and confirmation that I won’t always get what I want, I can accept life on life’s terms 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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The Commotions of Adolescence

The long ages of infancy and childhood, through which the human race had to pass, have receded into the background. Humanity is now experiencing the commotions invariably associated with the most turbulent stage of its evolution, the stage of adolescence, when the impetuosity of youth and its vehemence reach their climax, and must gradually be superseded by the calmness, the wisdom, and the maturity that characterize the stage of manhood. Then will the human race reach that stature of ripeness which will enable it to acquire all the powers and capacities upon which its ultimate development must depend.  (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p. 202)

I’m often appalled to see the vitriolic attacks of people on social media, no matter the issue.  It’s gotten so bad that there are even memes of a blue ball, with the caption: “This is a blue ball.  Let the attacks begin.”

People will argue anything – even if it’s clearly right.  I don’t understand that level of anger.  Maybe it’s COVID fatigue, or boredom but nothing explains it better for me than this quote by Shoghi Effendi – it’s just a bunch of teenagers acting out!

I learned as a young child that anger is dangerous and can even kill, so I have a great sensitivity and aversion to it, sometimes to my own detriment.  It hurts my heart to see people responding in anger to even positive informational postings, in a way that they normally would not if they were in a face-to-face setting. Don’t they understand that these messages are archived on the internet for a long time, and that prospective employers or legal entities can access them years after the fact to assess their character?

I get that when someone is angry, they are not rational.  I realize that social media postings are all about getting “likes”.  This sounds like a hormonal teenager to me – mood swings and wanting the approval of as many of their peers as possible, and social media makes this easy and instant.

O God, hasten the day when that promised calmness, wisdom, and maturity that will follow this turbulent time!

Knowing that this time of acting out is only temporary, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you when you read this passage?  Please share your thoughts below.

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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