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How to Be Happy

Never become angry with one another.  Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every hu­man being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 93)

I don’t think I’m alone in thinking how difficult it is to “never become angry with one another.”  I’ve been immersed in a culture that models this behavior so well.  I don’t know what a peaceful interaction with everyone would be like or how to get there.  I love this quote because it gives me some tools.  All I have to do is “love them for the sake of God.”  Just as God loves me, no matter what I do, I can extend that same love to all my fellow men and when it seems almost impossible, I can do it “for the sake of God”, not because they deserve it.

There are many people who’ve let me down, many more who I feel superior towards.  I may think I feel temporarily happy to be righteously angry and to hold onto my bitterness but in the end, it just comes back to bite me.  When I can see with the sight of forgiveness and be kind to them and love them for the sake of God, it’s a much more delicious sort of happiness.

Discovering the secret of how to be happy and starting to apply the formula, 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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Choosing Love and Mercy 

The attributes of God are love and mercy; the attribute of Satan is hate. Therefore, he who is merciful and kind to his fellowmen is manifesting the divine attribute, and he who is hating and hostile toward a fellow creature is satanic.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 40)

This quote seems clear – our job is to be loving and forgiving, especially when the world wants us to be hating and hostile.  Sometimes easier said than done!  I’m going through a situation now that I’m trying to deal with in the right way and some of the people around me are so angry at what’s happened that they are taking sides and drawing swords and ready to do battle on my behalf.  I’ve had to talk some of them back from the edge, and do it without gossiping or backbiting at a time when I am hurting from the sting of what happened.  It’s been a day-by-day decision to apply the attributes of God.

When I remember the slogan “hurt people hurt people”, it helps me to be more compassionate and understanding.  When I remember that I can give the problem to God and pray for the one who hurt me, I can love her for the sake of God and not be hypocritical.  In addition to extending love and mercy to others, I also need to remember to show it to myself.

Knowing I have a choice to be loving and merciful to myself and others, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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Forgiveness by Individual vs. Community

An individual has no right to seek revenge, but the body politic has the right to punish the criminal. Such punishment is intended to dissuade and deter others from committing similar crimes. It is for the protection of the rights of man and does not constitute revenge, for revenge is that inner gratification that results from returning like for like. This is not permissible, for no one has been given the right to seek revenge.   On the contrary, he should show forgiveness and magnanimity, for this is that which befits the human world.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed. p. 77)

When we feel hurt, angry and betrayed when someone wrongs us, we want these painful feelings to be relieved.  The desire to inflict pain on those who have harmed us is a powerful internal force, which seems to be wired into our very DNA.  It demands an emotional release in the hopes that the inner gratification that comes from returning like for like will either help us feel better or help us gain closure, but in fact, it has the opposite effect.  Instead of quenching hostility, revenge prolongs the unpleasantness of the original offense.  We end up punishing ourselves because we can’t heal.  It’s like the sayings:

  • Revenge is like grabbing a hot coal to throw it at someone else and you are the one that gets burned.
  • Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

Bahá’u’lláh came to bring unity to the world, and our job is to help Him achieve it.  We can’t have unity with revenge.  We can only have it with forgiveness and love.  This is what’s so important about today’s quote.  It gives us something we can do instead.

The fact that we want to take revenge implies that it still matters so first we need to recognize the emotion and the attachment.  This can be hard to do without support, so when we lean on God and ask for the virtues we want instead, in this case forgiveness and magnanimity, we’re actually turning the test to our advantage and achieving our purpose in life.

Leaving justice to the institutions and to God, I know I can grow spiritually 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 Forgive

 

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The Sins of Others 

O SON OF MAN!  Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words Arabic 27)

This is such an important injunction to understand and boy am I struggling with it today!  Someone I’m doing business with wronged me and then lied to me and I want to sully their name on social media.  Someone else is spreading lies and slandering my name and I want to defend myself.  Last night I was at a gathering where there was a lot of gossip and backbiting which would have been so easy to get hooked in, and other people were criticizing our hosts and their business partners.  One of my neighbors was partying too loud and another doesn’t pick up after her dog and I want everyone to know how upset it makes me.  It’s enough to make me run back into my cave and not interact with the world! I’m sure you could easily come up with your own list.

It’s easy to feel wronged and our culture promotes sharing our negativity widely, but in this quote we see we can’t even breathe another person’s sins (which I have done in the paragraph above!).

I’m learning that instead of venting my anger outwardly, I can remember that “hurt people hurt people”.  I can give the situation to God and ask for the strength to let go of my indignation and forgive.  I can talk to the person directly.  I can pray for the person and ask God to intervene in their lives.

Knowing there are other ways avoid criticizing others, thereby avoiding God’s wrath, 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

 

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Gossip and Backbiting

You ask in your letter for guidance on the implications of the prohibition on backbiting and more specifically whether, in moments of anger or depression, the believer is permitted to turn to his friends to unburden his soul and discuss his problem in human relations. Nor­mally, it is possible to describe the situation surrounding a problem and seek help and advice in resolving it, without necessarily mentioning names. The individual believer should seek to do this, whether he is consulting a friend, Bahá’í or non-Bahá’í, or whether the friend is consulting him.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to an individual believer, Sept. 23, 1975)

I have a situation brewing in my life this week, where someone took offence at something I did that had nothing to do with her.  She’s been flaming me with multiple viscous attacks via text messages, social media posts and when I blocked her, via anonymous posts on Messenger.  It’s been very distressing.  I’ve been so tempted to tell my side of the story to people who know both of us and with God’s help, I’ve held my tongue and I am grateful!  But I have needed to unburden myself and needed to find the right person to help me learn how to block people, and again, God sent me the right people.

Dealing with difficult situations needn’t be difficult with God on our side.  He wants to be our problem-solver and best friend.  I think He sends us these situations in order to strengthen our relationship with Him, and to help us grow the virtues we need.  This week, I’m choosing justice, to protect myself from the poison of slander and at the same time, forgiving her, loving her and praying for her.  It feels like healthy spiritual growth.

Knowing how to unburden my soul and seek help and advice in a way that isn’t 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Confronting Those Who Hurt Us

Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them and if you wish to give admonition or advice let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the hearer.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)

Whenever I’m angry it seems natural to nurse the hurt and complain about the injustice.  That’s what society has taught me is normal, after all.  That’s one thing I love about the Bahá’í Faith – it frequently turns everything I thought I knew around, 180 degrees.  In another quote Bahá’u’lláh tells us:

For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)

This helps us to see why we aren’t to complain of others.  We don’t want our hearts and souls to be devoured or the effects of our words to last a century.

Here’s an example from my own life:  when I was very young, I heard my mother say (in a moment of anger and frustration towards life in general and my father particularly):  “I wish she’d never been born.”  This was a dagger to my heart.  I put it on the hamster wheel inside my head, nursed it for over 60 years, used it to prove everything that happened to me, that I was unlovable.  You can bet that affected my relationships in my marriage, and towards my son, family and friends, as all I knew was to push people away.  It would have been much better if my mother could have been angry at my father, in private, about his behaviour towards me, and even then, it should have been couched in words as mild as milk, so it didn’t burden him either.  They didn’t know any better, and I’ve forgiven them and the damage has been done and lasting and both things are true.

Knowing what to do when I’ve taken offence to something someone has said or done 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

 

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