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Newsletter – on Anxiety

Welcome to the Month of Dominion 171

In this issue – Anxiety

Articles – Please click on the title of the article you want to read

What is Fear?

Anxiety – it’s all an Illusion

Conquering Anxiety with Conscious Happiness

Finding Peace in Life’s Tests

Living in the Present

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

What is the Purpose of Fear?

Reactions to Fear

Doubt and Fear

Fight, Fright and Freeze

What are We Afraid Of?

Overcoming Fear

Overcoming Fear Through Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Your Fear Through Courage

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear by Focusing on the Virtues

Overcoming Fear Through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear with Love

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear by Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear Through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

Overcoming Fear by Turning to God

Overcoming Fear Through Using Role Models

Checklist for Overcoming Fear

Prayers to Eliminate Fear

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin

On Dealing With Anxiety: Finding Peace By Understanding Sin

What Can Others Do to Help Those Who Are Afraid?

Featured Story:

On Overcoming Anxiety

Bahá’u’lláh could trust ‘Abdu’l-Bahá with the most difficult of tasks as He knew He would never waver. One such task was that of building a Shrine for the Bab on Mount Carmel, above what was then the small town of Haifa, facing the Mediterranean Sea. One of many obstacles which developed was the owner of the plot, influenced by scheming Covenant-breakers, would not readily consent to sell the land. ‘”Every stone of that building, every stone of the road leading to it,” He, many a time was heard to remark, “I have with infinite tears and at tremendous cost, raised and placed in position.” “One night,” He, according to an eye-witness, once observed, “I was so hemmed in by My anxieties that I had no other recourse than to recite and repeat over and over again a prayer of the Bab which I had in My possession, the recital of which greatly calmed Me. The next morning the owner of the plot himself came to Me, apologized and begged Me to purchase his property.”  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Featured Prayers:

For Overcoming Anxiety

Pour forth upon all them that are dear to Thee what will preserve them from fear and trembling after me. Powerful art Thou to do whatsoever may please Thee. No God is there except Thee, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 18)

Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! I entreat Thee by Thy Name through which the Hour hath struck, and the Resurrection came to pass, and fear and trembling seized all that are in heaven and all that are on earth, to rain down, out of the heaven of Thy mercy and the clouds of Thy tender compassion, what will gladden the hearts of Thy servants, who have turned towards Thee and helped Thy Cause.  Keep safe Thy servants and Thy handmaidens, O my Lord, from the darts of idle fancy and vain imaginings, and give them from the hands of Thy grace a draught of the soft-flowing waters of Thy knowledge.  Thou, truly, art the Almighty, the Most Exalted, the Ever-Forgiving, the Most Generous.   (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 72)

Turn, then, O my God, their fear into the evidences of Thy peace and Thy security, and their abasement into the sovereignty of Thy glory, and their poverty into Thine all-sufficient riches, and their distress into the wonders of Thy perfect tranquillity. Vouchsafe unto them the fragrances of Thy might and Thy mercy, and send down upon them, out of Thy marvelous loving-kindness, what will enable them to dispense with all except Thee, and will detach them from aught save Thyself, that the sovereignty of Thy oneness may be revealed and the supremacy of Thy grace and Thy bounty demonstrated.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 335)

Featured Book:

Falling Into Grace  by Justice St. Rain of Special Ideas takes an honest look at the many things in the Bahá’í Community that can test your faith from the fellow Bahá’ís that make you want to scream to the difficult laws that make you want to give up trying the kinds of tests that you are afraid to share with your friends and even those you are afraid to admit to yourself. It shines a bright light on these tests, and in illuminating them, it reduces their power. This book says “you are not alone,” and, even better, “you are not a bad Bahá’í for struggling with these issues.” Struggling with these tests is what ennobles us, and sharing our struggles is what helps us create a real feeling of community. As the title suggests, we must be willing to fall before we can be lifted up through grace.

Here is what some of his readers have said:

  • This book has helped over 5,000 Bahá’ís feel “normal” again and reconnect with their communities with more joy and less shame than ever before. It makes a great gift for new Bahá’ís, long-time Bahá’ís, estranged Bahá’ís, and even serious seekers.
  • It is one of my favorite Bahá’í books. I read it four times in a row, (which I never do), because finishing it was like a painful separation from a best friend and I wasn’t ready to let go! It was easy to read, made sense, described my experience, reminded me of how much I am loved and drew me closer to God.
  • Justice writes straight from the heart in an engaging and approachable style, as he documents the daily tests and trials that many of us go through. I HIGHLY recommend it for any Baha’i who is starting to feel the stress and challenges of life. I can’t say enough good things about this book! I hope you’ll enjoy it too!

To get your copy 

Because the Fast is quickly coming up, I also wanted to mention this book which comes highly recommended:

The Supreme Remedy: Applying the Healing Arts to the Baha’i Fast by Deborah Walters

In Deborah’s own words:

When I first started fasting, I wondered why there wasn’t much written on the subject?  I longed for guidance, insight and I was so curious about its effects and what I experienced.  I found very few people even desired to talk about the subject.  The difficulties and questions I had personally led me to hours of research and experimentation, and to obtain a degree as a Doctor of Naturopathy.  I thought I would then share with others not only what I learned but the joy I received in fasting and how I now look forward to it with confidence.  How can someone enjoy fasting when the body is so sick? How can you hear the spirit when emotionally you are so messy?

I believe that fasting is one of the best remedies for healing. Although it is increasingly used in medical centers, and has been part of treatment in some European and Asian countries for many years, the medical field in the English-speaking world has not used it enough because of lack of understanding and information about fasting. It’s well known that we need breaks during the day to work more efficiently, and vacations to recharge our batteries. Any time we do anything in excess, we eventually need a break from it in order to regain balance. And in Western cultures eating has become excessive and a source of addiction. Fasting has traditionally been a religious practice. It’s a tool of devotion, obedience and love, to gain spiritual power and vision and draw nearer to God. Historically, it’s also been a physical healing tool. Fasting can have various intentions: to regain health, to lose weight, to have clarity of mind. It’s possible for these purposes to work together.

To get your print copy

Kindle

 

Featured Video:

 

Shadi Toloui-Wallace, a singer-songwriter from Australia, now living in Canada, has toured much of North America, Australia and the Pacific, touching hearts through her honest and reflective music. Her ability to creatively express her devotion and love evokes a sense of reverent joy, unique to her work. Shadi draws inspiration from her beliefs, exploration of self, the environment and human interaction. Her work has always placed unity of faith and family at the core.

In this month’s selection, we hear her sing “When Sorrow Comes” which includes a touching rendition of a verse to be read in times of natural disasters or calamities: “Dominion is God’s The lord of the seen And the unseen, The lord of creation” (known in Persian as Yá Alah-u-al Mustagath)

About this prayer, Baha’u’llah tells us:

In Islam a special prayer was ordained to be said in times of natural phenomena which cause fear, such as earthquakes.  This has been annulled, and in its place a Bahá’í may say “Dominion is God’s, the Lord of the seen and the unseen, the Lord of creation”.  (Baha’u’llah, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 58)

I can attest to the power of this prayer to remove anxiety! Recently I was feeling incredible anxiety and couldn’t find a way out; and spent a couple of nights repeating this prayer over and over until I finally fell asleep. The issue hasn’t yet resolved; but I’m feeling much more peaceful with the situation, and content with the will of God!

 

 

To see her homepage

To read about her new song, dedicated to the Yaran 

To find her on Facebook

To listen to more of her music and download it from CD Baby

Featured Coach:

Looking for a Matchmaker?

Dr Mieko Bond is a matchmaker and family lawyer, who hopes to find the perfect match for you based on her extensive network of contacts and genuine passion to help people find love and happiness.  She will use her intuition and consider your personalities and criteria for a partner. The service begins with an initial Skype Session after you have filled out an online interview form. She will choose from her portfolio a selection of matches and you can choose which ones you would like to contact. It is a confidential service, you will not be on the website, and your identity won’t be revealed except to those people you are matched with. You can also purchase additional coaching and dating advice sessions over Skype with the Matchmaker.

To read more about her service 

To find her on Facebook 

And Twitter 

And Linkedin   

Featured Business:

Deborahs Healing Arts

 

Our “Featured Author” this month, Deborah Walters is also a homeopathic doctor, who specializes in anxiety, depression, chronic pain, sleep challenges, arthritis, chronic conditions and life transitions. She uses a combination of homeopathy, botanical remedies and naturopathy.

To visit her website

To hear her talk about her practice and what to expect during your first appointment

 

To listen to other talks she’s given on YouTube

To find her on Facebook

To find her on Linkedin

To find her on Twitter 

Our Readers Write:

Congratulations Susan – such a beautiful stack of 17 books! Grateful grateful for your superb service and contributions which benefits us all so much! (Jeannie Ritchie)

Ah Susan!  I just LOVE that photo of all of your books!!  I’m sending a big enthusiastic cheer for you!  You GO girl! With love and joy for your accomplishments! (Heather Acres)

Thank you so much for this beautiful issue. I was really feeling like this and your issues always open my eyes. Lots of love.  (Mahtab Yeganegi)

 

I Want Patience and I Want it NOW!

 

I have a Bahá’í friend who has suffered with a normally terminal illness for over 20 years, which has left her unable to use her arms.  Yet despite such incredible disabilities, she’s still living on her own, in her own apartment and writing books on the Faith by using the trunk of her body to force her fingers onto the keyboard, one keystroke at a time.  She requires home care aides to come in and do everything for her, from getting her up and dressing her; cooking and feeding her; taking care of her personal hygiene and putting her to bed at night.  In spite of such obvious hardships, she always seems positive and upbeat, saying only that we must really need patience more than anything else in the next world, since we are tested with it so often in this world!

That comment stayed with me, and I wanted to see what the Bahá’í Writings had to say about patience.  Have a look with me!

What is Patience?

It’s a sign of our love for God:

The sign of love is fortitude under My decree and patience under My trials.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words 48)

It’s one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man:

Bahá’u’lláh throws light upon patience, one of the most important virtues which God has bestowed on man.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

It is the course that is praiseworthy:

Bahá’u’lláh defines “the course that is praiseworthy” as “the exercise of patience”.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 210)

Who Are We Patient With?

There are 3 people we need to have patience with:

God

When we recite the prayer for the departed, at the end, we remind ourselves, 19 times:

We all, verily, are patient in God.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 40)

Others

We must show patience to those who demonstrate immaturity:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

We must endure people even when they are unendurable:

Stanwood Cobb wrote that on one occasion He spoke of the need for loving patience in the face of aggravating behavior on the part of others: ‘One might say, “Well, I will endure such and such a person so long as he is endurable.” But Bahá’ís must endure people even when they are unendurable!’ Stanwood Cobb pointed out that ‘He did not look at us solemnly as if appointing us to an arduous and difficult task. Rather, He beamed upon us delightfully, as if to suggest what a joy to us it would be to act in this way!’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Ourselves

We must be patient with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair:

We must not only be patient with others, infinitely patient!, but also with our own poor selves, remembering that even the Prophets of God sometimes got tired and cried out in despair!  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 456)

We also need the patience of other people!

All of us suffer from imperfections which we must struggle to overcome, and we all need one another’s understanding and patience.  (Universal House of Justice, NSA USA – The Bahá’í Faith and Homosexuality)

What Are We Patient About?

We’re patient in our work for the Faith:

The work of the friends therefore, interesting and useful as it may be, is hard and most exacting to one’s patience and energy.  (Shoghi Effendi, Arohanui – Letters to New Zealand, p. 11)

We’re patient with the consciousness of self:

You have asked as to what point in man’s evolution he becomes conscious of self. This consciousness of self in man is a gradual process, and does not start at a definite point. It grows in him in this world and continues to do so in the future spiritual world.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

We’re patient with the transition to full equality between women and men:

The transition to full equality between women and men is an evolutionary process requiring education and patience with oneself and others, as well as an unswerving determination.  (Bahá’í International Community, 1993 Mar 15, Women Peace Process)

We’re patient with different degrees of motion:

There are different degrees of motion. There is a motion of transit, that is from place to place. For example, the revolution of the earth around the sun; a bird flies from branch to branch. Another kind is the motion of inherent growth, like that of man from the condition of childhood to the estate of manhood, or the development of a tree from the seedling to its full fruition. The third is the motion of condition – the sick man passes from the stage of sickness to the state of health. The fourth motion is that of the spirit. For instance, the child while in the mother’s womb has all the potential qualities of the spirit, but those qualities begin to unfold little by little as the child is born and grows and develops, finally manifesting all the attributes and qualities of the spirit. The fifth is the motion of the intellect whereby the ignorant become wise; the indifferent, alert; the dark, illuminated and the carnally-minded, spiritual.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 124-125)

We’re patient with our Assemblies in setting a date for a year of patience; and then patient during that year, in our efforts to reconcile and overcome our aversion, before we can divorce:

The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic. The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá’í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)

What Robs Us of Patience?

Our DNA!  When we inherit the weakness and debility of our parents:

For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted, and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 319)

Atmospheric vibrations, where the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting us from one state to another, and entirely overpowering us:

Therefore, see the connection which exists between the spirit of man and the atmospheric vibration, so that the movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting him from one state to another, and of entirely overpowering him; it will deprive him of patience and tranquillity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 246)

That certainly explains a lot for me!  How about you?  🙂

When is Patience Needed the Most?

During every hardship:

Manifest magnificent patience during every calamity and hardship.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 374)

During the calamities which cause our eyes to flow with tears and greatly afflicted us:

Thou oughtest to bear it with becoming patience. Again, thou oughtest to patiently bear this calamity which hath flowed thine eyes with tears and hath greatly afflicted thee.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

In the moment of catastrophe:

In the moment of catastrophe, find ye patience, resignation and submission.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

When are we NOT to be patient?

In teaching:

The doors of the Kingdom of God are open, the Call of the Lord of the Kingdom is raised, the Bestowals of the Almighty are endless and the effulgence of the Sun of Reality has illumined the East and the West. In such a time patience and tranquility are not allowable. Thou must engage with infinite joy and happiness in the mention of the Forgiving Lord.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Japan Will Turn Ablaze, p. 12)

What Are the Benefits of Being Patient?

Victory from the unseen Kingdom will be vouchsafed to us:

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are purity of motive, radiance of spirit, detachment from all else save God, attraction to His Divine Fragrances, humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones, patience and long-suffering in difficulties and servitude to His exalted Threshold. Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87)

Why Do We Need Patience?

Without patience, we will reach nowhere and attain no goal:

The steed of this Valley [Search] is patience; without patience the wayfarer on this journey will reach nowhere and attain no goal. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

It’s impossible for a seed to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time:

Know, verily, that the seed, however virile it may be, however strong the hand of the sower, however pure the water that watereth it, it is impossible for it to grow, blossom and bear fruit in a short time; nay, a long period is needed for its development. So it is the Kingdom of God. Consider the seed which was sown by Christ; verily, it did not blossom until after a long period. Thus it is incumbent upon thee to be patient in all affairs. Verily thy Lord is powerful, forgiving, precious and persevering! Depend upon the favor of thy Lord. He shall bless thee and protect thee under the shadow of His generosity and mercy.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 312-313)

As with everything in the Bahá’í Faith, there seems to be a need to learn through contrasts, and this is no exception.  Here it seems that we need calamity in order to develop patience:

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds? Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Fire Tablet, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 217)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá asks us to “be patient, be as I am”:

Florence Khanum relates two sayings she heard from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. On one occasion He said to her ‘”Sabr kun; mithl-i-Man bash” – be patient, be as I am. The other was when some one expressed discouragement to Him, saying they could not possibly aquire all the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are directed to possess, and the Master replied, “Kam Kam. Ruz bih ruz” – little by little; day by day.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

With patience, we will succeed, for God is with us:

Only have faith, patience and courage—this is but the beginning, but surely you will succeed, for God is with you!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 101)

With patience, we will have progress:

The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience, God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

With patience, trials and ordeals won’t deflect us from the path of God:

We beseech Him to graciously enable them to show forth patience and fortitude that haply trials and ordeals might not deflect them from the path of God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing.  (Shoghi Effendi, Fire and Light, p. 33)

With patience, we’ll achieve victories which are rarely accomplished at a single stroke:

Victories are won usually through a great deal of patience, planning and perseverance, and rarely accomplished at a single stroke.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 598)

With patience, understanding and forbearance for other people’s shortcomings, we will assure the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large:

The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 9)

With patience towards each other, we will attract large numbers to our ranks:

Too great emphasis cannot be laid on the importance of the unity of the friends, for only by manifesting the greatness of their love for and patience with each other can they hope to attract large numbers to their ranks.  (Shoghi Effendi, Promoting Entry by Troops, p. 3)

With patience, we will create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning:

They [tutors] need to combine the qualities of love, humility, and patience, with the dedication, perseverance, and commitment required to create a spiritual atmosphere conducive to learning.  (International Teaching Centre, 2000 Feb, Training Institutes and Systematic Growth, p. 9)

With patience we will attain our desire:

O my dear …, endure and be patient, and by patience thou wilt attain thy desire.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 456)

With patience, we will attain spiritual states which will last forever and ever:

I beg of God to pour on thee becoming patience, so that thy heart may be consoled with the fragrance of His mercy and that thy breast may be dilated with His favors, that thou mayest attain to the spiritual states which are lasting forever and ever. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 139)

With flexibility and patience, we are able to learn:

Flexibility and patience are encouraged, as essential prerequisites of the learning process.  (ITC, 2003 Apr 23, Building Momentum, p. 17)

With patience, we become the exponents of justice:

Such hath been the patience, the calm, the resignation and contentment of this people that they have become the exponents of justice, and so great hath been their forbearance, that they have suffered themselves to be killed rather than kill, and this notwithstanding that these whom the world hath wronged have endured tribulations the like of which the history of the world hath never recorded, nor the eyes of any nation witnessed. What is it that could have induced them to reconcile themselves to these grievous trials, and to refuse to put forth a hand to repel them? What could have caused such resignation and serenity? The true cause is to be found in the ban which the Pen of Glory hath, day and night, chosen to impose, and in Our assumption of the reins of authority, through the power and might of Him Who is the Lord of all mankind.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 74-75)

What are the rewards of patience in the next world?

First of all, it’s important to know that God is aware of our frailties and our impatience in our sufferings:

I recognize that Thou hast afflicted them for no other purpose except to proclaim Thy Cause, and to enable them to ascend into the heaven of Thine eternity and the precincts of Thy court, yet Thou knowest full well the frailty of some of them, and art aware of their impatience in their sufferings.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 157)

Therefore, He loves those who show forth patience:

God, verily, loveth those women and men who show forth patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 43)

His recompense is limitless for those who show forth patience and long-suffering:

And He reminds them that, whereas God rewards every good deed in accordance with its merit, in the case of patience and long-suffering, as attested in the Qur‘án, the recompense is limitless.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

He rewards beyond measure those who endure with patience:

He, verily, rewardeth beyond measure them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 71)

He increases the reward of those who endure tribulations with patience:

Rejoice not in what ye have done, or will do in the future … for ye are unable by such means as these to exalt your stations, were ye to examine your works with acute discernment … Nay, God will add unto the recompense with which He shall reward Us, for having sustained with persevering patience the tribulations We have suffered. He, verily, shall increase the reward of them that endure with patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 128)

His choicest gifts are the reward for those who endure with patience:

Say, this earthly life shall come to an end, and everyone shall expire and return unto my Lord God Who will reward with the choicest gifts the deeds of those who endure with patience.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 161)

He extols the station of those who endure their hardships and calamities with patience and resignation:

He extols the station of those believers who endured hardships and calamities with patience and resignation. Through their fortitude and constancy, their forbearance and long-suffering, these souls attained to such a lofty position that the Concourse on high seek their companionship and long for their blessings.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

We will become everlasting in the Kingdom of God:

Be thou a mountain of quiescence, a sign of meekness, a sea of patience, a light of love, a standard of utter separation (from all else save God), so that thou mayest become everlasting in the Kingdom of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 291)

Are some people rewarded more than others for patience?

A poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful:

In the course of one of His talks to His companions ‘Abdu’l-Bahá states that a poor man who is patient and forbearing is better than a rich man who is thankful. However, a poor man who is thankful is more praiseworthy than the one who is patient, while more meritorious than all is the rich man who expends his wealth for others.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 2, p. 281)

Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their suffering:

Great is the honor destined by God for those poor who are steadfast in patience. By My life! There is no honor, except what God may please to bestow, that can compare to this honor. Great is the blessedness awaiting the poor that endure patiently and conceal their sufferings. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 202)

How Do We Get Patience?

By putting our reliance in God:

It behooveth whosoever hath set his face towards the Most Sublime Horizon to cleave tenaciously unto the cord of patience, and to put his reliance in God, the Help in Peril, the Unconstrained.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 98)

Through the love of God:

It was the Love of God that led Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that strengthened Joseph in Egypt and gave to Moses courage and patience.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 82)

By seeking patience only in God and no one or nowhere else:

Verily I seek patience only in God, and Him do I regard as the goal of My desire. This signifieth that I have the undoubted Truth on My side.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 20)

Through prayers and supplications:

Prayers and supplications should be offered at the sacred Threshold, so that thou mayest remain firm in tests, and patient in ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)

With perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God:

When calamity striketh, be ye patient and composed. However afflictive your sufferings may be, stay ye undisturbed, and with perfect confidence in the abounding grace of God, brave ye the tempest of tribulations and fiery ordeals.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)

Through knowledge:

Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator. The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Iqan, p. 69)

Little by little; day by day

One would well remember the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who when approached by a believer in the depths of discouragement despairing of ever acquiring the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are required to possess, replied with the greatest compassion and encouragement, “little by little; day by day” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World 12: 704)

How do we Show Patience?

In the following quote, Bahá’u’lláh gives us a lot of ideas, which include:

  • put his trust in God
  • renounce the peoples of the earth
  • detach ourselves from the world of dust
  • cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords
  • never seek to exalt himself above any one
  • wash away every trace of pride and vain-glory from our hearts
  • cling to resignation
  • observe silence
  • refrain from idle talk

That seeker must, at all times, put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, must detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vain-glory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence and refrain from idle talk.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 264-265)

Seek patience only in God:

I seek patience only in God. Verily He is the best protector and the best helper. No refuge do I seek save God.  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 20)

Have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole:

Understanding . . . that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers and in the Bahá’í community as a whole.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

Adorn ourselves with resignation and steadfastness, never being dismayed or disheartened by adversity:

Bahá’u’lláh urges the people of the Bayan to do likewise, counselling them to adorn their beings with the mantle of resignation, to be steadfast in the Cause of God, and never to be dismayed or disheartened by adversity. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 1, p. 271)

Understand that change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time:

Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 620)

Conduct ourselves with the utmost submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if another person did not know anything about our troubles, he would think that we were in the perfect ease of soul, happy and tranquil:

However, relying upon God, we conducted ourselves with the utmost patience and submission, resignation and calmness; so much that if one did not know anything about these matters, he would have thought that we were in perfect ease of soul, enjoying the tranquility of heart mind, and were engaged in happiness and felicity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)

Follow the patient example of the Master

Concerning the attitude of some Bahá’ís, who seem at times to be insensitive and unsupportive, all we can do is to try to follow the patient example of the Master, bearing in mind that each believer is but one of the servants of the Almighty who must strive to learn and grow. The absence of spiritual qualities, like darkness, has no existence in itself. As the light of spirituality penetrates deep into the hearts, this darkness gradually dissipates and is replaced by virtue. (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

How Long Do We Have to Be Patient?

It’s always according to God’s timetable, knowing there is no past, present or future in His world:

The past, the present, the future, all, in relation to God, are equal. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 116)

We must be patient until God discloses our fate to us:

She should abide in patience until such time as God shall please to disclose to her his fate. By the course that is praiseworthy in this connection is meant the exercise of patience.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 106)

We’re to be patient until relief is forthcoming from God:

Ours is the duty to remain patient in these circumstances until relief be forthcoming from God, the Forgiving, the Bountiful.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 177)

For twenty-four years ‘Abdu’l-Bahá showered kindness on one of his enemies before he finally asked for forgiveness:

Hear how he treats his enemies. One instance of many I have heard will suffice. When the Master came to ‘Akká there lived there a certain man from Afghanistan [Haji Siddiq], an austere and rigid Mussulman [Muslim]. To him the Master was a heretic. He felt and nourished a great enmity towards the Master, and roused up others against him. When opportunity offered in gatherings of the people, as in the Mosque, he denounced him with bitter words. ‘This man,’ he said to all, ‘is an imposter. Why do you speak to him? Why do you have dealings with him?’ And when he passed the Master on the street he was careful to hold his robe before his face that his sight might not be defiled. Thus did the Afghan. The Master, however, did thus: The Afghan was poor and lived in a mosque; he was frequently in need of food and clothing. The Master sent him both. These he accepted, but without thanks. He fell sick. The Master took him a physician, food, medicine, money. These, also, he accepted; but as he held out one hand that the physician might take his pulse, with the other he held his cloak before his face that he might not look upon the Master. For twenty-four years the Master continued his kindnesses and the Afghan persisted in his enmity. Then at last one day the Afghan came to the Master’s door, and fell down, penitent and weeping, at his feet. ‘Forgive me, sir!’ he cried. ‘For twenty-four years I have done evil to you, for twenty-four years you have done good to me. Now I know that I have been in the wrong.’ The Master bade him rise, and they became friends.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Centre of the Covenant, p. 101)

Results might take eighty or nighty years’ work and suffering:

The results of the sacrifices of all these people are manifested now. Therefore, those who have been for five or ten years in some place should never complain. These results are of eighty years’ work—yes, ninety years, and suffering. Work day and night in such time and the harvest will be ready. Bahá’u’lláh has definitely said clearly to the friends: ‘Your function is to sow the seeds. God will either let them grow or will bury them.’ It is yours to stand at your post and sow the seed. The greatest requirement for this progress is patience. Patience is the thing which is described in the Qur‘án as having rewards unlimited…please have patience.  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might take a thousand three hundred and five and thirty days:

Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 43)

We might not even see the results in our lifetime or even the lifetimes of generations after us:

God will work through you, even if it is not in your lifetime—the lifetime of generations after you. All services will be rewarded. Be sure!  (Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi at the closing session of the World Congress, May 2, 1963, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 108)

It might even take as long asa hundred thousand years!

If he strive for a hundred thousand years and yet fail to behold the beauty of the Friend, he should not falter. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 3)

I love this story, told to us by the Counsellor (Dan Scott) at a recent gathering:

The Process of Cluster Growth and the Moral of the Chinese Bamboo Tree

If you plant a seed from the Chinese Bamboo tree, be prepared for a long wait.  The patient gardener will have to water and fertilize the invisible seed for no less than four years before the first shoots begin to appear. In those four years of silent growth, the “lucky Bamboo, ” as the Chinese call it, is sending out taproots, the root system that spreads out horizontally and downward into the soil. Throughout all those four years, nothing significant is visible at ground-level.

But then during the fifth year, something wonderful happens.   The Chinese Bamboo sprouts and grows an incredible 90 feet in six weeks! (Some species will grow 100 cm or 39 inches per day!)

A rich variety of moral and spiritual lessons lie hidden in applying the lessons of the Chinese Bamboo to the institute process and cluster growth.

In his talk, Counsellor Dan Scott referred to Shoghi Effendi’s phrase that the building of [our personal lives] and of the Faith appears to be “slow and unobtrusive”:

It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá’í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God’s changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.  (Bahá’u’lláh, World Order of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 194)

As unobtrusive as it may seem to be, things are going on behind the scenes which we have no awareness of, and we have to trust are happening.

Seldom do we live long enough to see the benefits of our efforts to be patient, but here’s a story of a woman who did, which moves me to tears every time I read it!

A young Bahá ‘i lady pioneered to Bolivia in the 1930 s to open it to the Faith. Having no success in teaching anyone, she began to write to the Guardian expressing feelings of failure. With each passing month she wrote and he replied encouraging her to stay, to remain steadfast, to have faith and to pray. So obediently she continued on. Every day she went to the centre of a small town and in one of the regions found a spot by a fountain and tearfully prayed for the progress of the Faith.

After two years the beloved Guardian consented to her wish to return home. The story of this young lady was lost and unknown to the friends in Bolivia. Years later when they experienced entry by troops they organised regional teaching conferences. At the end of one of them they decided to take a group photograph. They found a sunny spot big enough for 1,200 friends to gather. Mr Vojdani took a copy of this photo everywhere to show to the friends on his travels.

Years later, friends from many countries had gathered in Paris for a huge anniversary celebration and Mr Vojdani attended as part of a delegation from the Americas. In the crowd a very old lady using two walking sticks hobbled over to them and asked if there was anyone from Bolivia. He said yes. She asked if there were many Bahá ’s there, again he said yes, then she asked if he had any photographs from Bolivia. He showed her the one of the teaching conference group photo. She took it and looked at it for a few moments and then fainted.

Later in hospital, when she came round, the shocked friends asked her what had happened. In a frail voice she told her story that she had been sent to Bolivia by the Guardian and every day for two years she had sat down in the exact spot where the photograph had been taken to pray and beseech Bahá‘u’llah to open the doors of His Faith to the people of Bolivia. Seeing the photograph she realised then, years later, that her prayers had been answered. Three days later she died.

We’re never alone in our struggle!  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is praying that we will attain the utmost patience, composure and resignation:

I hope that you will attain to the utmost patience, composure and resignation, and I supplicate and entreat at the Threshold of Oneness and beg pardon and forgiveness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 379)

How has this helped you with your impatience?  Post your comments below:

Overcoming Anxiety by Changing your Thoughts

 

Now that we’ve dealt with the subconscious mind, let’s move on to the conscious mind, assuming we’ve wakened to the reality of our lower and higher nature and the necessity of keeping every thought captive.

Some spiritual principles to keep in mind in order to change your thoughts include:

Know that Fear doesn’t Solve Anything:

He does not feel that fear — for ourselves or for others — solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

Knowledge of Self:

It’s helpful to take an inventory of all your fears.  They are so dangerous you’ll want to be conscious of what they are, so that you can consciously work to eliminate them.  Find a list of fears to consider.  This website is a great place to start.

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty . . . (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 34-35)

As you’re learning, though, it’s not enough to stay at this step, as therapy would have you do.  It’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Understand you’re not alone in having fear:

For those of us in Haifa who had lived, under the aegis of our beloved Guardian, through the agonizing days in 1955 when another group of Bahá’ís were being unjustly persecuted, that time in Persia where the friends suffered senseless acts of barbarism, murder, rape and pillage of property, it was history repeating itself — but with no Shoghi Effendi at the helm to guide and comfort us. We had to pray, act, endure the heavy-footed hours that never seemed to pass as the time for the execution of our fellow-Baha’s drew nearer and nearer. The burden of anxiety for the fate of their co-religionists was shared by the entire Bahá’í world; the burden of responsibility and decision, however, fell upon the Hands of the Cause, particularly the body of the Custodians in Haifa, and was, indeed, an agonizing and almost insupportable burden to bear.  (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 19)

Understand that there will be strong emotions (sorrow, fear, disillusionment, perplexity, indignation, grievances), and that they are unimportant in the face of opportunities to advance the Cause:

The opportunities which the turmoil of the present age presents, with all the sorrows which it evokes, the fears which it excites, the disillusionment which it produces, the perplexities which it creates, the indignation which it arouses, the revolt which it provokes, the grievances it engenders, the spirit of restless search which it awakens, must, in like manner, be exploited for the purpose of spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers. So precious an opportunity, so rare a conjunction of favorable circumstances, may never again recur.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 47)

Make a choice:

We have to choose whether we are people of faith of people of fear. People of fear expect trouble to overtake them. People of faith choose to trust God is working in their life and if trouble should come, they trust God will enable them to overcome the trouble. Fear does not torment them for their faith demands to be fulfilled, faith that God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Every time you recognize Fear rising up you have to respond with what you are going to believe.  Make a decision that you are going to walk in love, be loved, and that Fear is not going to be your guide. You have to choose which one you want to believe.  If you’re practicing fear, you might want to ask yourself:  who are you pleasing and who is your Lord in that part of your life?

Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter?  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 108-109)

How lofty is the station which man, if he but choose to fulfill his high destiny, can attain! To what depths of degradation he can sink, depths which the meanest of creatures have never reached! Seize, O friends, the chance which this Day offereth you, and deprive not yourselves of the liberal effusions of His grace.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 205)

Don’t let fear fall on you:

O ye beloved of the Lord! Beware, beware lest ye hesitate and waver. Let not fear fall upon you, neither be troubled nor dismayed. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 349)

Fear not, neither be dismayed, for your light shall penetrate the densest darkness. This is the Promise of God, which I give unto you.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 168)

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 168)

Decide to Stop:

Decide which kingdom you’re going to worship:  fear or faith.

That doesn’t mean that every time you feel fear you need to be delivered from it. Instead, you need to apply what you’re learning. You need to throw yourself into the absolute care of God whether we live or whether we die, whether we win or whether we lose. None of that matters. We need to throw ourselves on the absolute care of God.

God delivers us from all our fears.  Hello!  I have the knowledge  of God in front of me!  Use it!  So when fear and worry come, show them your “no vacancy“ sign.

I rule my spirit, not fear.  I may be tempted by fear and worry but there’s no room at the inn.  Fear speaks to me and I do some knee-knocking but I don’t yield to it because I have the law of God strong within me.

What’s the worst thing that can happen to us?  We can die and go to the next world!

Start taking charge of your own spirit.  Start recognizing the source of those thoughts.  Are they coming from your lower nature or from God?  Hold every thought captive.

The Pen of the Most High addresseth Me, saying: Fear not.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 90)

Don’t feed them:

There’s a great story going around the internet – I haven’t been able to find the author:

An old Cherokee told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s likely more of a parable than a truth, but it makes an important point.  If we feed our fears by ruminating on them, keeping on the hamster wheel, they will grow and dominate our lives.  If we feed our higher nature through immersing ourselves in the word of God, we will align ourselves with our true purpose and the fears will fall away.  The choice is ours to make.

Shoghi Effendi makes a similar point, when he reminds us of our high purpose and urges us not to allow any anxiety to deflect us from achieving it.

I appeal to every one of them, and particularly to the members of the assemblies who safeguard their interests, not to allow any disturbance, suffering, or anxiety to dim the splendour of their faith, to deflect them from their high purpose, to cause any division in their ranks, to interfere with the steady consolidation and expansion of their activities and institutions. I will specially pray that the work they have magnificently initiated, and so marvellously and soundly developed may suffer no setback, but rather continue to develop and yield its destined fruit. Persevere and rest assured.  (Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 43)

Just because Shoghi Effendi told us not to let anxiety deflect us from our purpose, doesn’t mean he too wasn’t beset with worry from time to time.  Rúhíyyih Khanum shares a story about that with us:

It was not, however, such dangers as these that caused Shoghi Effendi sleepless nights. His great concern was for the protection of the Twin Holy Shrines. As the Mandate ended and the Arab-Jewish war broke out, a very real danger threatened them and caused him acute anxiety. Bahji was only about fifteen miles from the frontier, over which an invading army might pour at any moment. This was one worry; the other worry, in a way even more intense, was caused by the mooted plan, at one time seriously considered, of placing the frontiers of the new Jewish State in such a way that its northern one would divide Haifa and ‘Akká and thus the World Centre would be split in two, its Administrative Centre situated in one country and the Holiest Spot on earth, the Qiblih of the Faith, situated in another, hostile to it and hostile to the Faith itself.  Should anyone wonder why the divinely guided Guardian worried so much over such things, I would like to give an explanation, out of my own understanding. It seems to me there are three factors involved in most situations: the Will of God in which His Beneficence, Omnipotence and the destiny He has ordained for man are all involved – and which ultimately rights all wrongs; the element of accident, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says is inherent in nature; and the element of individual free will and responsibility. Bearing in mind these factors it is not surprising the Guardian should be deeply concerned over any situation that affected the interests and protection of the Faith, and should anxiously ponder the problems facing him, seeking to ensure that the right solution was found, the best opportunity seized, the greatest benefit for the Cause obtained.  (Rúhíyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 188-189)

Despite his worry, he didn’t let it stop him from taking action as he pondered the problems and ensured that the right solution was found.  That’s what we must learn to do too.

Turn your back to fear:

This community can do no better than to gird up afresh its loins, turn its back upon the clamour of the age, its fears, confusion and strife, step resolutely forward on its chosen path, unshakably confident that with every step it takes, should it remain undeflected in its purpose and undimmed in its vision, a fresh outpouring of Divine grace will reinforce and guide its march on the highroad of its destiny.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community)

Remind yourself there is nothing to be afraid of:

Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this wronged One to mankind. Wherefore fear ye, O My well-beloved ones? Who is it that can dismay you?  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 92-93)

The only thing we should be afraid of is God:

The days of your life shall roll away, and all the things with which ye are occupied and of which ye boast yourselves shall perish, and ye shall, most certainly, be summoned by a company of His angels to appear at the spot where the limbs of the entire creation shall be made to tremble, and the flesh of every oppressor to creep. Ye shall be asked of the things your hands have wrought in this, your vain life, and shall be repaid for your doings. This is the day that shall inevitably come upon you, the hour that none can put back. To this the Tongue of Him that speaketh the truth and is the Knower of all things hath testified.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 199)

Understand Death:

Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones . . .  Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207)

Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.  (Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic 14)

Stop believing lies:

We need to stop believing the lies of our idle fancies and vain imaginings and start believing God. When we can look fear in the face and call it a pack of lies, it’s very empowering.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha shows us how when we meet with lies we are miserable:

When we find truth, constancy, fidelity, and love, we are happy; but if we meet with lying, faithlessness, and deceit, we are miserable.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65)

How much more so, when the lying is coming from us!

We want to stop lying to ourselves for another reason too.  It’s because lying is the worst quality, most odious sin, most blameworthy quality.  It destroys all human perfections and leads to other vices and is the foundation of all evil!  Surely that’s reason enough to focus on what’s real!

Consider that the worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation of all evil, is lying. No worse or more blameworthy quality than this can be imagined to exist; it is the destroyer of all human perfections and the cause of innumerable vices. There is no worse characteristic than this; it is the foundation of all evils.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)

Change our Thoughts:

It’s important to have the right attitude towards our fears; and one way to do it is to remember the vision presented to us in the Writings:

Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic- stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 127)

It behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 265-266)

He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

When you transform your negative outlook into a positive one, you can accomplish so much more. In doing so, your mind will be released from negative programming, allowing you to excel and succeed throughout your life.

I think this is what ‘Abdul-Bahá means when he says:

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.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)

Forget about them:

The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears . . .  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 238)

How do we do that?  Through teaching and service:

. . . with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 238)

Affirmations:

When fear tries to come back, stand up to it. Don’t let it ruin your life anymore. Quote these words back to fear:

  • I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)
  • I fear no tribulation in His path, nor any affliction in My love for Him and in the way of His good pleasure.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 131)
  • I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 101)
  • Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world’s afflictions can in no wise alarm me.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 208)
  • I fear no tribulation in His path, nor any affliction in My love for Him and in the way of His good pleasure.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 131)
  • Such is my love for Thee that I can fear no one, though the powers of all the worlds be arrayed against me. Alone and unaided I have, by the power of Thy might, arisen to proclaim Thy Cause, unafraid of the host of my oppressors.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 187)
  • Thou turnest restlessness into tranquillity, fear into confidence, weakness into strength, and abasement into glory.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 212)
  • Thou art He Who changeth through His bidding abasement into glory, and weakness into strength, and powerlessness into might, and fear into calm, and doubt into certainty. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Beneficent.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 249)

Stand up right now and say this with me:

Fear, you are a product of my lower nature. Fear, you are just an idle fancy and vain imagining.

Fear, God didn’t give you to me. He gave me the power of love and the ability to discern good from evil. Because you’re not from God you must be evil.

Fear, my father is in Heaven, on His throne and you’re not.

Fear, Baha’u’llah’s teachings told me all about you. He is my Deliverer, my Redeemer, my Savior. I’m under His protection at all times and under all conditions. He is my Comforter and the One who leads me into all truth. He is the Power of God within me. I’ve joined myself to God so if you want to tangle with me, you’ll need to tangle with my Father. I’m under the shadow of His wings and I am perfectly safe. I will not listen to your lies anymore.  So, what are you going to do about that?

 

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

 

How has this helped you understand this topic better?  Post your comments here:

 

Overcoming Anxiety through Forgiveness

 

One of the keys to overcoming any sin, including fear is to forgive:

  • The person who caused the fear
  • Yourself for believing the lie and keeping yourself on the hamster wheel
  • God for sending you the test

And then we ask God for His forgiveness for blaming Him and others, and for holding on to the fear.

We do this for every single incident we can think of.

It’s a simple process but unbelievably powerful, effective and life-changing.  I encourage you to try it once and you’ll be hooked!

My Story:

For the first 17 years of my life, I was subjected to some of the worst forms of abuse possible, at the hands of my parents.  By the standards current today, particularly in the abuse recovery movement, what was done to me was unforgiveable, and yet I forgave!

I came to realize that the abuse perpetrated on me by myself, was far worse than anything my parents had done to me, and I did it every minute of every day for the next 36 years.  How?  By believing I was unworthy; a worthless piece of s**t; unwanted; unloved; and unlovable.

I believed these lies I told myself about what it meant that my parents could treat me in such an abhorrent manner; as though I was a “thing”.  I told myself that if they treated me that way, they must not love me, therefore, I must not be loveable.  These lies kept me from being able to seek out friendships and a second marriage; kept me from fulfilling my potential in the work-world, because they filled me with self-doubt, self-loathing, self-hatred and self-pity.

In short, I came to realize that I was full of self, which is exactly what the Bahá’í Writings teach us we need to let go of:

If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures, inasmuch as every one of you knoweth his own self better than he knoweth others.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 66)

If Baha’u’llah is right that:

The world is but a show, vain and empty, a mere nothing, bearing the semblance of reality. Set not your affections upon it.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 328)

Then maybe I need to look at what’s going on through God’s eyes, instead of the eyes of the current world.  He tells us:

Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

With that in mind, everything I consider and reflect on is now done totally through the eyes of the Bahá’í Writings.  I certainly don’t have all the answers and I welcome other people to share their understanding of the Writings related to any given issue in a humble posture of learning, so that we can all advance the process of better understanding how to recover from abusive situations.

So, back to forgiveness.

Forgiving Others:

I’ve gone through several stages in my understanding of if or why or how to forgive my abusers.  In the early days, I found a quote which I assumed was the Bahá’í standard:

If some one commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)

I certainly wasn’t in a position to do that, but I sincerely wanted to be obedient, so my prayers in those days were:  “OK God, I can’t forgive them, but You can, so please do!”

Then in one of my letters from the House of Justice, they told me:

As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop for­giveness in your heart toward your parents who have abused you in so disgraceful a manner, and to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature, whose actions can only lead them deeper into unhappiness and separation from God. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to this author, 9 September, 1992)

This was totally liberating!  I loved their string of adjectives “strive to develop”, which suggested that it could take a lifetime, and even if I never got there, as long as I was striving to develop, that was OK with God.

Secondly, I had to develop forgiveness “in my heart”, not between us!  So if I was never able to spend time with them again, it was enough to develop it in my heart, between God and I.

Finally, they wanted me to separate my parents from their sin – a concept I’ve just learned recently, but when I come back to this quote now, I can see what this means “to attain a level of insight which sees them as captives of their lower nature”.  By refusing to forgive them, I was not honoring the perfect beings that God created, I was only seeing the monsters of their lower natures.  That truly was liberating!

I thought that forgiving my parents would be the hardest thing, but once I understood this quote, it became easier:

To forgive him will not be easy, and this is not something to which either you or the members of your family can force yourselves. Nevertheless, you should know that forgiveness is the standard which individual Baha’is are called upon to attain. It is an essential part of the spiritual growth of a person who has been wronged. To nurse a grievance or hatred against another soul is spiritually poisonous to the soul which nurses it, but to strive to see another person as a child of God and, however heinous his deeds, to attempt to overlook his sins for the sake of God, removes bitterness from the soul and both ennobles and strengthens it. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 5 January 1992)

It’s not enough to forgive someone once, or even a few times.  The Baha’i standard is to forgive someone a hundred thousand times:

Show ye an endeavor that all the nations and communities of the world, even the enemies, put their trust, assurance and hope in you; that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Baha’. This is the foundation of the most high pathway!  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 436)

Looking at how ‘Abdul-Bahá did it will help:

The peerless example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá merits close scrutiny in your quest for a sense of forgiveness; His abiding love for humanity, despite its waywardness and perversity enabled Him to manifest sincere compassion and magnanimity to those who had brought Him distress and hardship.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

He forgave without speaking about it:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s signet ring disappeared during his Western journey. The Master had confided His loss to Florence and Khan, and named the thief but He did not wish them to speak of it.   (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 228)

He forgave by looking at situations with love:

During this second stay in Chicago, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá chose to stay in Corrine True’s home for a day or two before moving to a hotel. When He arrived with His secretaries, Corrine serve them all tea. Unfortunately, it was a type of tea that Persians don’t like, and some of them remarked that “there was a better tea”. But the Master drank it anyway, saying, “This tea is very good because it is been prepared with love.”  (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 192)

He forgave with kindness:

There was a time when the Covenant-Breakers ‘gave away the garments and personal effects of Bahá’u’lláh to government functionaries, to serve as chattels of bribery and to provide as well the means of humiliating ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. At their instigation the Deputy-Governor of Haifa would, whilst visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ostentatiously wear Bahá’u’lláh’s cloak and brazenly use His spectacles. Before long this man was dismissed from his post and fell on evil days. Then he went to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and begged His forgiveness. He had acted, he said, in the manner he did, because he was prompted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own relatives. The Master showed him utmost kindness and generosity…’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 84)

He forgave through generosity:

Juliet Thompson and other Bahá’ís decided to give the Master a birthday party, and a few of them baked a cake. She reported, ‘We took several taxis to the Bronx, with the Master riding in the first one. As soon as His taxi had arrived there, the Master got out and walked into the park ahead of the rest of us. ‘A group of young boys gathered around Him and started to laugh. Two or three of them threw stones at Him. With natural concern many of the friends hurried towards the Master, but He told them to stay away. The boys came closer to the Master, jeered at Him and pulled at His clothes. The Master did not become cross. He merely smiled at them radiantly, but the boys continued to behave as before. Then the Master turned towards the friends. ‘Bring me the cake,’ He said. No one had mentioned to Him that we had brought a cake. ‘Some of us said, “But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the cake is for your birthday.” He repeated, “Bring me the cake.” A friend uncovered a large sponge cake, with white icing, and gave it to the Master. As soon as the boys had seen the cake they began to calm down, and stared at the cake hungrily. ‘The Master took it in His hands and looked at the cake with pleasure. The boys were now standing quietly around Him. “Bring me a knife,” said the Master. A friend brought Him a knife. The Master counted the number of boys who were standing around Him and then cut the cake into the same number of pieces. Each boy eagerly took a piece, ate it with relish, and then ran away happily.’  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 45)

He forgave by giving gifts:

At one time the Master had a fine cloak of Persian wool, which had been given to Him. When a poor man appealed to Him for a garment, He sent for this cloak and gave it to him. The man took it but complained, saying it was only of cotton. ‘No,’ ‘Abbas Effendi assured him, ‘it is of wool‘; and to prove it He lighted a match and burned a little of the nap. The man still grumbled that it was not good. ‘Abbas Effendi reproved him for criticizing a gift, but He ended the interview by directing an attendant to give the man a mejidi (a coin then worth about four francs). It was observed that if someone vexed the Master, He always gave him a gift.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 75)

He forgave by spending time with them:

If you could have seen the brute, Juliet, mumbling out his miserable excuses! But the Master took him in His arms and said: ‘All those things are in the past. Never think of them again.’ Then He invited Zillu’s-Sultan two sons to spend a day with Him.  (Misc Bahá’í, The Diary of Juliet Thompson)

On the other hand, there were times when He too, ran out of patience:

After returning to the holy land ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent Dr. Baghdadi a Tablet, and directed that copies be distributed to every community so that all could read it. The Master wrote here that during his stay in America he had forgiven a certain member of his suite four times, but that he would forgive the man’s misdeeds no longer. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to Haifa, he proceeded directly to the room with His wife, Munirih Khanum, and said in a feeble voice, “Dr. Fareed has ground me down!”  (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 228)

Having forgiven someone, you might still I wonder how much contact to have with those who have hurt you.  The House of Justice offered me the following three steps, which you might find helpful:

Such an attitude [forgiveness] does not preclude your being prudent in deciding upon the appropriate amount of contact with your parents. In reaching your decision you should be guided by such factors as:

  • their degree of remorse over what they inflicted on you in the past
  • the extent of their present involvement in practices which are so contrary to Bahá’í Teachings
  • the level of vulnerability you perceive within yourself to being influenced adversely by them.

In the process of reaching a decision, you may well find it useful to seek the advice of experts such as your therapist.    (Universal House of Justice, to the author, 9 September 1992)

Forgiving Myself:

I took each individual act of abuse that had ever happened, for each person who had abused me.  I looked at the lies I’d believed as an outcome of each single event.  I forgave myself for each one; asked God for His forgiveness; and forgave each perpetrator.   Immediately a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I’ve been free of anxiety (which is really fear) and depression (which is really self-pity) ever since.

Asking God to Forgive Me:

Once I understood that God loved me and created me perfect, I realized I had to forgive the lies emanating from my lower nature about my being unworthy and unlovable.  They weren’t God’s truth, therefore why would I make them mine?

With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 12)

Then I had to look at the veils that had come between me and God as a result of my lack of forgiveness (anger, pride, self-pity, mistrust); and ask God for His forgiveness.  I knew that I was forgiven because I started to feel lighter and happier, and because of quotes like:

Thy generous Lord will . . . forgive thee thy sins and change them to good deeds. Verily the Lord is the Forgiving, the Merciful  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 89)

Expecting others to ask you for Forgiveness

It’s entirely possible that the person who committed the sin is unwilling to ask for forgiveness.  In any case, they are required to confess it and ask for God’s forgiveness, not man’s.

The sinner, when in a state wherein he finds himself free and severed from all else save God, must beg for forgiveness and pardon (from God). It is not allowable to declare one’s sins and transgressions before any man, inasmuch as this has not been, nor is conducive to securing God’s forgiveness and pardon. At the same time such confession before the creatures leads to one’s humiliation and abasement, and God — exalted is His glory! — does not wish for the humiliation of His servants. Verily He is compassionate and beneficent! A sinner must, between himself and God, beseech mercy from the Sea of Mercy and ask forgiveness from the Heaven of Beneficence.        (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 142)

They may even have passed on to the next world, and you are unable to talk to them about the impact their sin has had on you.  It’s still important to forgive.

As the spirit of man after putting off this material form has an everlasting life, certainly any existing being is capable of making progress; therefore it is permitted to ask for advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence, and blessings for a man after his death, because existence is capable of progression. That is why in the prayers of Bahá’u’lláh forgiveness and remission of sins are asked for those who have died.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 329)

Getting out of Unsafe Situations

When the offense is ongoing, for example where there is ongoing abuse or violence of any kind, you will need to get to a place of safety before starting the process of forgiveness.

Sometimes people are a little confused about the Christian teaching to “turn the other cheek.”  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us:

Then what Christ meant by forgiveness and pardon is not that, when nations attack you, burn your homes, plunder your goods, assault your wives, children and relatives, and violate your honour, you should be submissive in the pres­ence of these tyrannical foes and allow then to perform all their cruelties and oppressions. No, the words of Christ refer to the conduct of two individuals toward each other.  If one person assaults another, the injured one should forgive him. But the communities must protect the rights of man.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 270-271)

It’s important to speak out to the Assemblies who can provide guidance:

This motivation [to change] is often propelled by the courage of those who report the offence, even in the face of the possibility of temporarily increasing the danger to the victim. Allowing the situation to continue, by silence, may very well be the greater evil.  (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Canadian Bahá’í News, Kalimát, B.E. 150, p. 44)

A brief note on justice:

There is a difference between justice and forgiveness.  We all have to meet our Maker and justice is in the hands of God.

Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 31)

He promises He notices everyone’s sins:

Think not the secrets of hearts are hidden, nay, know ye of a certainty that in clear characters they are engraved and are openly manifest in the holy Presence.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 59)

Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favor, and not of your deserving.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 60)

Know, verily, that while the radiant dawn breaketh above the horizon of eternal holiness, the satanic secrets and deeds done in the gloom of night shall be laid bare and manifest before the peoples of the world.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 67)

He’s promised to never forgive another man’s injustice:

I have pledged Myself not to forgive any man’s injustice. This is My covenant which I have irrevocably decreed in the preserved tablet and sealed with My seal.  (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

Justice is also in the hands of the institutions:

. . . the Universal House of Justice underscores the responsi­bility of the Institutions of the Faith in unequivocal language: “It is inevitable that this community will, at times, be subject to delinquent behaviour of members whose actions do not conform to the standards of the Teachings. At such times, the institutions of the Faith will not hesitate to apply Bahá’í law with justice and fairness in full confi­dence that this Divine Law is the means for the true happiness of all concerned.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 24 January, 1993)

Forgiveness is in the hands of the individual.  It’s important that we not get the two mixed up:

It should be realized that there is a distinction drawn in the Faith between the attitudes which should characterize individuals in their relationship to other people, namely, loving forgiveness, forbearance, and concern with one’s own sins, not the sins of others, and those attitudes which should be shown by the Spiritual Assemblies, whose duty is to administer the law of God with Justice.  (Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 110)

There’s a big temptation to focus on the injustices, to want to bring “the other guy” to justice, but this is not our job.

The Writings tell us that:

We are all sinners.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 176)

Knowing ourselves is our responsibility and a full time job.  Baha’u’llah tells us:

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty . . . (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 34-35)

So we are to focus all of our attention on ourselves, and to not even breathe the sins of others:

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.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 27)

Each of us is responsible to God for our own lives; and none of us is perfect.  Catching our own sins and asking God for forgive us requires all of our attention:

Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being “perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect: and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy… On no subject are the Bahá’í teachings more emphatic that on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding, while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.”  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 90)

So it’s not appropriate to look to the abuser and focus on what they did to us, but to focus all of our energy on perfecting our own souls and looking after our own spiritual development.  Shoghi Effendi succinctly tells us what happens when we focus on the sins of others:

If we allow our attention and energy to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 92)

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

 

How has this advanced your learning about this topic?  Post your comments here:

 

Overcoming Anxiety through Using Role Models

 

Turn to Baha’u’llah:

In truth the Blessed Perfection was . . . a shelter for every fearing one.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 221)

In the Tablet of Ahmad Baha’u’llah asks us to:

Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i 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.  Instead He wanted to dedicate Himself to helping the oppressed, sick and poor and to champion the cause of justice.

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. He sat with his feet in stocks and a 100-pound iron chain around his neck.  He and His fellow prisoners (150 thieves, murders and highwaymen) huddled in their own bodily wastes, languishing in the pit’s inky gloom, subterranean cold and vermin and stench-ridden atmosphere.

When he was freed from prison, He and His family were banished to Bagdad (Iraq), a 3 month journey on foot over the mountains in the middle of winter without enough food.

“The throat Thou didst accustom to the touch of silk Thou hast, in the end, clasped with strong chains, and the body Thou didst ease with brocades and velvets Thou hast at last subjected to the abasement of a dungeon. Thy decree hath shackled Me with unnumbered fetters, and cast about My neck chains that none can sunder . . . How many the nights during which the weight of chains and fetters allowed Me no rest, and how numerous the days during which peace and tranquility were denied Me . . . Both bread and water . . . they have, for a time, forbidden unto this servant . . . and Thy behest summoned this servant to depart out of Persia, accompanied by a number of frail-bodied men and children of tender age, at this time when the cold is so intense that one cannot even speak, and ice and snow so abundant that it is impossible to move”.  (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 109)

He stayed in Bagdad for 7 years, and then was banished again to Constantinople (Turkey), where he stayed for four months, and then was exiled again to Adrianople (Turkey).  Again it was in winter and they didn’t have the proper clothes to protect them from the harsh weather.  In order to drink, they had to light a fire to thaw ice from springs along the way.  He stayed there for four and a half years and then was banished to the prison city of ‘Akká (Israel), to which the worst criminals were sent.  He remained there for the rest of His life (24 years).

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.  For a time, to protect the Faith from the efforts of His half-brother, He lived as a hermit.  He was the victim of ignorance, injustice, cruelty and fanaticism.

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.

So when you’re feeling in the pit of despair, I urge you to remember not only the negative things that happened to you, and to Bahá’u’lláh, but to remember the victories that came from them as well. 

Turn to the Blessed Spot:

Verily, I read thy letter which indicated that thou hast turned unto the Blessed Spot, that the Truth (of God) hath revealed itself to thee, that thy fear is quieted and that thou hast attained to composure, assuredly believing in this great Cause.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 71)

Turn to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

I wish to add a few words of assurance and sympathy in view of the heavy burden of responsibility that rests on your shoulders in these difficult and trying times. My fervent and increasing prayer is that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá may show you the way that will enable you to continue your splendid pioneer work effectually, peacefully, free from every earthly care and anxiety.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 30)

Haji Mirza Haydar-‘Ali writes in the Bihjatu’s-Sudur of the hopes of the Bahá’ís that, as the heir to Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would, with the passage of years, come to resemble Him physically as well; but their hopes did not materialize, because sorrows and tribulations pressed hard upon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, afflictions weakened His frame and made Him a prey to a number of ailments. He goes on to say that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in order to protect His followers from worry and anxiety, would not expose them to the knowledge of His maladies which at times were severe.  (H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu’l-Baha – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 133)

Recently I’ve been reading the newly released “Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá'” which is filled with His answers to questions people put to Him.  It’s so full of love, I feel that reading them is like reading love letters to me too!

Remember the suffering of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

In times of disappointment, stress and anxiety, which we must inevitably encounter, we should remember the sufferings of our departed Master. Your work, your energy, your vigilance and care, your loving-kindness are assets that I greatly value and prize. Keep on, persevere, redouble in your efforts, repeat and rewrite the admonitions and instructions of our Beloved in your communications with individuals and Assemblies until they sink in their hearts and minds. This was truly our Beloved’s way and method and none better can we ever pursue. Your present pioneer work will surely be remembered and extolled by future generations. My prayers will always be offered for you. In matters of contribution we should not use any compulsion whatsoever and ascertain clearly the desire of the donor. We should appeal to but not coerce the friends.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 532)

In times of disappointment, stress and anxiety, which we must inevitably encounter, we should remember the sufferings of our departed Master. (From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 9 July 1926)  (The Universal House of Justice, 1985 Dec 02, Child Abuse, Psychology and Knowledge of Self)

Turn to the Central Figures of the Faith:

Again, in God Passes By, he tells us of the anxieties of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, called upon to undertake a succession of colossal tasks throughout the entire period of His Ministry. Most recently, The Priceless Pearl has drawn aside the curtain on the life of the Guardian, and revealed to us the anxieties and agonies of the solitary and heroic figure who charted our course in service to the Cause for centuries to come.  Yet who can doubt that all the central Figures demonstrated to the whole of mankind an assured and happy way of life? Here is where their example seems particularly precious. To rise above the disappointments, obstacles, and pain which we experience in serving the Cause is difficult enough, but to be called on, in doing so, to be happy and confident is perhaps the keenest spiritual test any of us can meet. The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort.  (Universal House of Justice, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 116)

Study the life of Bahiyyih Khanum:

The memory of the beloved Khanum will, assuredly, prove to be your great comfort in your moments of sufferings and anxiety and will guide your steps and strengthen your spiritual power and insight.  (Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Indian Subcontinent, p. 86)

How staunch was her faith, how calm her demeanour, how forgiving her attitude, how severe her trials, at a time when the forces of schism had rent asunder the ties that united the little band of exiles which had settled in Adrianople and whose fortunes seemed then to have sunk to their lowest ebb! It was in this period of extreme anxiety, when the rigours of a winter of exceptional severity, coupled with the privations entailed by unhealthy housing accommodation and dire financial distress, undermined once for all her health and sapped the vitality which she had hitherto so thoroughly enjoyed. The stress and storm of that period made an abiding impression upon her mind, and she retained till the time of her death on her beauteous and angelic face evidences of its intense hardships.  (Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 33-34)

Study the Lives of the Martyrs and the Courage of the Baha’is in Iran:

But, thanks to the strengthening grace of Bahá’u’lláh and the demonstration of steadfastness by these noble friends (the Bahá’ís of Iran), we shall know how to meet the shafts of the enemy without fear.  (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 153, 1996)

Read the Dawnbreakers:

It is interesting to note as well that Shoghi Effendi encouraged the believers to study the Dawn-Break­ers, which he described as an “unfailing instrument to allay distress.”  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 23 October 1994)

Sometimes it’s not enough to turn to books for comfort – you need a real person to talk to.  That’s when you can use the Institutions of the Faith.

Turn to the Continental Board of Counsellors:

When you have doubts and concerns about your own plans, confide in the Counsellors; when something they do causes you worry, talk to them in the proper spirit of Bahá’í consultation. Remember that they, like yourselves, are burdened with the work of the Cause and are beset with many concerns in its service, and they need your sympathetic understanding of the challenges they face. Open your hearts and your minds to them; regard them as your confidants, your loving friends. And be ever ready to extend to them your hand in support.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA)

Turn to the Auxiliary Board:

Training alone, of course, does not necessarily lead to an upsurge in teaching activity. In every avenue of service, the friends need sustained encouragement. Our expectation is that the Auxiliary Board members, together with their assistants, will give special thought to how individual initiative can be cultivated, particularly as it relates to teaching. When training and encouragement are effective, a culture of growth is nourished in which the believers see their duty to teach as a natural consequence of having accepted Bahá’u’lláh. They “raise high the sacred torch of faith,” as was ‘Abdu’l- Baha’s wish, “labour ceaselessly, by day and by night,” and “consecrate every fleeting moment of their lives to the diffusion of the divine fragrance and the exaltation of God’s holy Word.” So enkindled do their hearts become with the fire of the love of God that whoever approaches them feels its warmth. They strive to be channels of the spirit, pure of heart, selfless and humble, possessing certitude and the courage that stems from reliance on God. In such a culture, teaching is the dominating passion of the lives of the believers. Fear of failure finds no place. Mutual support, commitment to learning, and appreciation of diversity of action are the prevailing norms.  (The Universal House of Justice, 2001 Jan 09, Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear

 

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