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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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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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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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We All See Reality Differently

Participants in a consultative process see reality from different points of view, and as these views are examined and understood, clarity is achieved.  (Office of Social and Economic Development at the Bahá’í World Centre, Social Action, 26 November 2012, p. 13.  Bahá’í Library Online)

I like this quote because it reminds me that not everyone sees reality from my point of view.  Nowhere has this been more obvious than during this pandemic, where my choice to adhere to government directives and guidance from the House of Justice has been at odds with the behaviour and actions of many of my closest Bahá’í friends.

I became aware of a huge difference of opinions during the first lockdown, when they chose to gather at a cottage for our semi-annual retreat at a time when people were being asked not to come up to their cottages and to avoid the 3-C’s (close faces; closed spaces and crowded places).  I was furious that they would so blatantly disregard the lockdown and potentially put each other at risk.  I was afraid that the gulf between us had widened to such a degree that I’d never be able to find my way back.  I found myself incredibly judgemental, superior and self-righteous and at the same time, I was also jealous because they were continuing on and having fun without me.  They continued to have a retreat in the fall, when we still weren’t allowed to gather in each other’s houses, and it is now is happening again in the third lockdown.  Many of them are not planning to get vaccinated and I wonder if I will ever feel safe to go back to these retreats again.  I am swimming in a sea of poisonous, attack thoughts aimed at people I thought of as my closest friends for over 30 years.

I realized that I had a choice.  I could find a way to allow a difference of opinion and approach them with love and forgiveness; or I could let my bitterness eat away at the foundations of our friendship.  I know how to walk away when the going gets rough.  Now I’ve had to learn how to apply the things I’ve been teaching others in this blog and in my books, so I can keep these friends and at the same time keep my integrity and walk with my head held high with the effect of my decisions too.  Consultation with others has been an important key to remind me that we all have COVID-fatigue and everyone has their limits.  This has helped me be more understanding, and please God, may I continue to let go of judgement so I can hold love in my heart.

Remembering that consultation helps me see reality from different points of view, I can relax 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 Consult Effectively

 

 

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For Every Crisis, there’s Always a Victory

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

When I was in the deepest despair, remembering traumatic events of my childhood, I came across this quote, which helped to lift me out of my “self”.  I was feeling a lot of “poor me” and “why did this have to happen to me”, and then I had to stop and remember Bahá’u’lláh’s days.

Bahá’u’lláh was born into a wealthy family and was expected to follow his father into an important position in the government of Persia (Iran).  He didn’t want the position or the power.  As a result, His life included a series of imprisonments, and banishments.  At one point He was imprisoned for four months in an underground reservoir for a public bath, with its only outlet a single passage down three steep flights of stone steps. When He was freed from prison, He and His family were banished four times, sometimes on foot over the mountains in the middle of winter without enough food or proper clothing.  He was discredited by His uncle, poisoned by his jealous half-brother and witnessed the death of His son.  He was betrayed by people He trusted, stoned, and isolated from the Believers.  He was the victim of ignorance, injustice, cruelty and fanaticism.  To protect the Faith from the efforts of His half-brother, He even lived as a hermit for 2 years.  But every crisis was followed by victory, and this, I believe, is what is important to remember.

Although my repressed memories included all the positive and neutral memories too, once they came back, I was able to see that, like Bahá’u’lláh, there were times in my life that were peaceful, and activities that weren’t abusive.  From anger I learned to find my voice and take action.  From poverty I was protected from materialism and learned to rely on God.  From estrangement I gained knowledge of myself, and through it, knowledge of God. From being silenced, I was protected from backbiting and gossip.

Knowing I can focus on the victories instead of the negative things that happened to me, 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Praying for our Parents

O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the For­giver and the Kind!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers (US Edition), p. 65)

In the days when I was so angry with my parents for the abuse they perpetrated on me as an adult, and their choice not to talk to me about it; in the days when I couldn’t forgive, I found this prayer that I could use, remembering that the Bab had promised that:

Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense! (Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 217).

Although I wasn’t yet ready to forgive, I knew that I could ask God to forgive them for me, and that it would benefit me as well as them.  That’s what was in my heart, when I was saying this prayer.

I like using this prayer because it reminds me:

  • God accepts our intercession in behalf of our parents
  • Asking for God’s forgiveness for my parents is one of His special infinite bestowals
  • The service and efforts I make will submerge them in the Ocean of His grace
  • God is the Giver, the For­giver and the Kind (for both me and my parents)

Knowing that when I use this prayer, God will also forgive me, and submerge me in the Ocean of His grace, 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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