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My Life Has No Fruit

Some people have told me that this quote terrifies them:

The basest of men are they that yield no fruit on earth. Such men are verily counted as among the dead, nay better are the dead in the sight of God than those idle and worthless souls.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Persian Hidden Words #81)

They’ve come to understand “fruit” as meaning children, family life, productive work, service, philanthropy etc, and when they don’t marry and/or have children, or they lose a job or they don’t make enough to make ends meet, they judge themselves harshly and punish themselves with this quote.

But I think the Bahá’í Writings have a different understanding of what this quote means.

It’s true:

The fleeting hours of man’s life on earth pass swiftly by and the little that still remaineth shall come to an end, but that which endureth and lasteth for evermore is the fruit that man reapeth from his servitude at the Divine Threshold.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 234)

We know that one of the reasons we’re put on this earth is to develop the virtues we’ll need in the next world, so perhaps the “fruit that man reapeth from his servitude at the Divine Threshold” are the virtues we are continually acquiring.

With regards to your life bearing no fruit – I know this is a chronic source of pain for some of us, and I have every confidence we will be absolutely astonished when we get to the next world, to find out just how much fruit we’ve harvested to bring with us, I promise!  Let’s have this discussion then, OK?

Keep these quotes in mind – so you can banish the lies (my life has no fruit) from your hamster wheel, and replace it with the truth:

Read this:

One who performeth neither good deeds nor acts of worship is like unto a tree which beareth no fruit, and an action which leaveth no trace. Whosoever experienceth the holy ecstasy of worship will refuse to barter such an act or any praise of God for all that existeth in the world.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever performed a good deed? Make a list of 25 of them!
  • Have you ever performed an act of worship? Said your daily prayers?  Attended a devotional gathering?

If so, your life has fruit!

Read this:

The Tree of Life is full of blossoms, leaves and fruits!—shade thereof is a peace to the soul and a rest to the consciousness. Whosoever is under this Tree will certainly partake of fruit. But shade trees are many in the forest, which, though fresh and verdant, are, nevertheless, fruitless. This truth shall finally become clear and manifest unto thee.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 126)

Ask yourself:

  • Are you under the “tree of life”?

If so, your life has fruit!

Read this:

The fleeting hours of man’s life on earth pass swiftly by and the little that still remaineth shall come to an end, but that which endureth and lasteth for evermore is the fruit that man reapeth from his servitude at the Divine Threshold.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 234)

Ask yourself:

  • Have you ever performed an act of service? At home?  To your parents?  Your spouse?  Your children?  Your boss?  Your coworkers?  The Faith?

If so, your life has fruit!

Read this:

What are the fruits of the human world? They are the spiritual attributes which appear in man. If man is bereft of those attributes, he is like a fruitless tree. One whose aspiration is lofty and who has developed self-reliance will not be content with a mere animal existence. He will seek the divine Kingdom; he will long to be in heaven although he still walks the earth in his material body, and though his outer visage be physical, his face of inner reflection will become spiritual and heavenly. Until this station is attained by man, his life will be utterly devoid of real outcomes. The span of his existence will pass away in eating, drinking and sleeping, without eternal fruits, heavenly traces or illumination—without spiritual potency, everlasting life or the lofty attainments intended for him during his pilgrimage through the human world. You must thank God that your efforts are high and noble, that your endeavors are worthy, that your intentions are centered upon the Kingdom of God and that your supreme desire is the acquisition of eternal virtues. You must act in accordance with these requirements. A man may be a Bahá’í in name only. If he is a Bahá’í in reality, his deeds and actions will be decisive proofs of it. What are the requirements? Love for mankind, sincerity toward all, reflecting the oneness of the world of humanity, philanthropy, becoming enkindled with the fire of the love of God, attainment to the knowledge of God and that which is conducive to human welfare.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 335)

Ask yourself:

  • What are your spiritual attributes? We all have them?  If you are stuck, this list will help.  Make a list of your strengths and/or ask your loved ones.  They’ll be able to tell you.
  • Are your aspirations lofty?
  • Have you developed self-reliance?
  • Do you seek the divine Kingdom?
  • Do you long to be in heaven?
  • Is your face of inner reflection spiritual and heavenly?
  • Are your efforts high and noble?
  • Are your endeavors worthy?
  • Are your intentions centered upon the Kingdom of God?
  • Is your supreme desire the acquisition of eternal virtues?
  • Do you have love for mankind and sincerity toward all?
  • Do your deeds reflect the oneness of the world of humanity?
  • Are you philanthropic through sacrificial donations to the Fund?
  • Is your Right of God up to date?
  • Are you becoming enkindled with the fire of the love of God?
  • Do you have a knowledge of God?
  • Do you understand that which is conducive to human welfare?

If so, your life has fruit!

If not, you know what you need to work on!

Read this:

… the fruit of man’s earthly existence, which is the recognition of the one true God …
(Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 344-345)

Ask yourself:

  • Have you recognized God?

If so, your life has fruit!

Conclusion:

So let’s summarize.  As you can see, the fruits of your life include:

  • Recognition of the one true God
  • performing good deeds and acts of worship
  • shade to others, which is a peace to their souls and a rest for their consciousness
  • servitude at the Divine Threshold
  • spiritual attributes
  • lofty aspirations
  • seeking the divine Kingdom
  • longing to be in heaven while you still walk the earth
  • your face of inner reflection is spiritual and heavenly
  • gratitude that your efforts are high and noble, that your endeavors are worthy, that your intentions are centered upon the Kingdom of God and that your supreme desire is the acquisition of eternal virtues
  • acting in accordance with these requirements
  • all your deeds and actions
  • your love for mankind
  • your sincerity toward all
  • reflecting the oneness of the world of humanity
  • philanthropy
  • becoming enkindled with the fire of the love of God
  • attaining knowledge of God and that which is conducive to human welfare.

How has this helped you understand this topic better?  Post your comments below.

Newsletter – on Happiness

Welcome to the Month of Light 171!

In this issue

Click on the Title of the Article You Want to Read . . .

Happiness is a Choice

6 Simple Steps to Contentment

The Foundation of Human Happiness

8 Great Articles on the Topic of Happiness

Rejoice With The Joy Of Your Own Heart – a story From Hand of the Cause Mr Faizi

Joy and Pain

 

Featured Story:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá loved the cheerful, optimistic attitude of the Americans:

One reporter asked “What do you think of America?” ‘I like it,’ replied the Master, Americans are optimistic. If you ask them how they are, they say, “All right!” If you ask them how things are going, they say “All right!” This cheerful attitude is good. (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 56)

Weep on. Beyond the tears is sunshine

Stanwood Cobb, the renowned educator, wrote, ‘This philosophy of joy was the keynote of all of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching. “Are you happy?” was His frequent greeting to His visitors. “Be happy!” ‘Those who were unhappy (and who of us are not at times!) would weep at this. And ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would smile as if to say, “Yes, weep on. Beyond the tears is sunshine.” ‘And sometimes He would wipe away with His own hands the tears from their wet cheeks, and they would leave His presence transfigured.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 127)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá banished a boy who didn’t have a happy face!

On one occasion two young boys, Shoghi Effendi and his first cousin, Ruhi Effendi, entered the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master looked at them thoughtfully and then remarked to Ruhi Effendi, ‘If you can’t wear a happy, pleasant expression on your face like Shoghi Effendi, then you are excused.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 48)

Featured Prayer:

O Lord! O Lord! Make me severed from the world and void of its conditions, attracted by the fragrances of Thy holiness among Thy maid-servants, free in heart, happy in soul, cheerful in mind, longing for the Kingdom of Thy Beauty, and glowing with the fire of Thy love in the world. Thus may I enkindle the light of guidance in the hearts of Thy servants. Verily, Thou are the Powerful, the Bestower, the Precious, the Mighty! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 110)

O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 150)

Featured Book:

 

 

 

Combining dozens of quotations from a variety of sources with the distilled essence of his book “The Secret of Emotions,” Justice Saint Rain has created a lovely gift edition of his popular booklet, “The Secret of Happiness,” which has already sold over 12,000 copies worldwide. Whether you would like a clear and simple understanding of the nature of happiness, or need a gift for a friend who is feeling down, this easy-to-read and beautifully-formatted book is exactly what you are looking for.

 

Free eBook!

Happiness

 

Learning How to Be Happy  is full of practical, powerful solutions with lots of examples and stories to illustrate answers from the Divine Physician, a source we can trust.

In it you will . . .

  • Find spiritual tools to advance your recovery
  • Learn how idle fancies and vain imaginings reduce happiness and keep you stuck
  • Learn how to rise up, take back your life and claim what unhappiness and suffering has stolen from you.
  • Learn how to be happy at your very core instead of just treating symptoms
  • Discover why we aren’t finding happiness using conventional methods
  • Understand where you have choices and how to make them
  • See how to transform negative thoughts into happier ones
  • Challenge the habits of thought that keep you stuck in victimhood
  • Help others who are unhappy recognize the signs and offer support with love
  • Learn specific prayers to use

Learning How to Be Happy is packed with ideas and techniques you can use immediately to overcome your suffering and find a more joyful way of life. Nowhere else will you find this approach to happiness, straight from the Bahá’í Writings. When you learn to apply the Divine Remedy, there is hope for a complete recovery.

For your copy of Learning How to Be Happy, go to this site and complete the form for instant download.

Featured Video:

Jamesley

 

 

Continuing on the theme of happiness, this musician’s work is sure to lift your mood!

In this month’s video, Jamesley sings one of our featured prayers: O God Refresh and Gladden My Spirit, in a beautifully uplifting rendition!

 

 

 

For more from this talented musician

To listen to more of her music on Sound Cloud 

To find her on Facebook

To Buy her music on CD Baby

Featured Coach:

Nicole Lazar

As a Health Coach, Nicole creates a supportive environment that will enable you to achieve all of your health goals. She has studied all the major dietary theories and uses practical lifestyle coaching methods to guide you in discovering which approach works best for you. Most approaches to nutrition dwell on calories, carbs, fats, proteins. Instead of creating lists of restrictions and good and bad foods, she coaches her clients to create a happy, healthy life in a way that is flexible, fun and free of denial and discipline. No one diet works for everyone. Nicole will guide you to find the food and lifestyle choices that best support you. She will also help you to make gradual, lifelong changes that enable you to reach your current and future health goals.

For more information 

For a list of other Baha’is who do coaching

Featured Business:

 


 

Luminous Journey: `Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912

This two and a half-hour documentary, traces ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s 239 days in the United States and Canada. What was it like to meet Him? What implications do His journey and the talks He gave have for us today? Luminous Journey uses engaging documentary storytelling and offers a reflection upon a journey destined to change the consciousness of a nation and the world. In it we see the effect on the people he met,

Using high-definition production techniques and engaging documentary storytelling, told by the people who witnessed the visit 100 years ago, Luminous Journey celebrates the centenary of the travels of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in North America, the impact He made, and His prophetic vision of the spiritual destiny of America.

Shot on location, at significant places throughout the United States and Canada, such as New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New Hampshire, Maine, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Chicago, Montreal, Colorado, and California, Luminous Journey utilizes extras in period costumes, with historic vehicles and props, to stage visual recreations and impressions.

To read an interview with the producers

For more information and to watch the trailer

More glimpses on YouTube

To find them on Facebook

To purchase your copy

Showing Kindness to a Liar, Traitor or Thief

Someone once asked me:

‘Abdu’l-Bahá teaches:

Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 158)

What is the purpose in this? Kindness is a virtue that we want to be able to show, yet to be kind to my father and brother made them worse. They hid their abuse of me so well that everyone thought they were great people and were therefore kind to them and as a result I suffered more, and more.

I responded:

I’m not sure we understand kindness the way we will in the future!  For example, although this law is not in effect yet, Baha’u’llah tells us they will be punished:

Exile and imprisonment are decreed for the thief, and, on the third offence, place ye a mark upon his brow so that, thus identified, he may not be accepted in the cities of God and His countries. Beware lest, through compassion, ye neglect to carry out the statutes of the religion of God; do that which hath been bidden you by Him Who is compassionate and merciful.  (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 35)

I’m glad that you recognize that to “be kind to my father and brother made them worse.”

Remember how Baha’u’llah says in the Tablet of Ahmad that “the wisdom of every command shall be tested?”  Sometimes the tests apply to us, and some we can learn from watching others.  This knowledge will help you in the future.

There are ways you can be kind to them now without having contact; particularly through prayer.  This will help in two ways – it will help both you and them.  Have you seen this quote by the Báb?

It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God’s call will be raised: ‘Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!’ Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God.  (The Báb, Lights of Guidance, p. 230)

Perhaps it’s a bit self-serving, but the Báb must have told us this to motivate us to pray for them!

Here’s a prayer you can say for your father:

O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love, Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 64)

Being kind to our perpetrators doesn’t mean we have to spend time with them.  Again these quotes from the House to me and a friend of mine, helped me make those decisions:

Such an attitude (forgiveness and insight into their actions) 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, and 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 an individual believer, 9 September, 1992)

The House of Justice has noted with sympathetic understanding the despair to which you have been driven by the recurrent incidences of cruelty and neglect you have been made to endure . . . Under the circumstances you have so amply described, you should feel free to separate yourself from them to the extent possible. Their behavior towards you grossly violates the norms of parental relationship with a child, and this fact can be taken into consideration if and when you decide to get married. (Universal House of Justice to an individual, 7 August 2001)

To summarize – we can use the following criteria in deciding how much contact to have:

  • 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

And we can look at having their right of parenthood removed when we want to get married.

With regards to the comment:

They hid their abuse of me so well that everyone thought they were great people and were therefore kind to them and as a result I suffered more, and more.

I understand how painful this was for you, and I’m sorry you had to go through it!

The insights which have helped me are knowing that my abusers have to meet their Maker and be called to account for what they did.

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.   (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 67)

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 it with My seal of glory.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 64)

So I can trust that God sees what they’ve done and can leave justice in God’s hands!

I’ve often found this quote interesting:

In the same way they consider that the spiritual punishment, that is to say the torture and punishment of existence, is to be subjected to the world of nature, to be veiled from God, to be brutal and ignorant, to fall into carnal lusts, to be absorbed in animal frailties; to be characterized with dark qualities, such as falsehood, tyranny, cruelty, attachment to the affairs of the world, and being immersed in satanic ideas; for them, these are the greatest punishments and tortures.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 324)

Try to look at your father and brother and see how many of these apply to their lives.

Are they:

  • subjected to the world of nature
  • veiled from God
  • brutal and ignorant
  • fallen into carnal lusts
  • absorbed in animal frailties
  • characterized with dark qualities such as
  • falsehood
  • tyranny
  • cruelty
  • attachment to the affairs of the world
  • immersed in satanic ideas

If so, these are among their spiritual punishments.

I love this quote by Bahá’u’lláh.  It seems to offer us a step-by-step process we can use to stay close to Him.  I think if we can remember to take all of these steps every day, we can be prevented from engaging in negative interactions with others:

Deprive not yourselves of the unfading and resplendent Light that shineth within the Lamp of Divine glory. Let the flame of the love of God burn brightly within your radiant hearts. Feed it with the oil of Divine guidance, and protect it within the shelter of your constancy. Guard it within the globe of trust and detachment from all else but God, so that the evil whisperings of the ungodly may not extinguish its light.   (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 325)

The steps are:

  • let the flame of the love of God burn brightly within your radiant hearts.
  • feed it with the oil of Divine guidance
  • protect it within the shelter of your constancy
  • guard it within the globe of trust and detachment from all else but God, so that the evil whisperings of the ungodly may not extinguish its light.

How has this helped your understanding of this topic?  Post your comments here:

Learning How to Be Happy

 

What is happiness exactly?

There are two kinds of happiness:  physical and spiritual.  Physical happiness is limited in duration, quickly vanishes and has no result.

Happiness consists of two kinds; physical and spiritual. The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year. It hath no result. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 673-674)

Temporal joy will vanish. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)

Many of us were taught that happiness lie in having more things, but as we learn, this will only bring us momentary pleasure:

Joy was not, He told them, a by-product of material comfort and affluence.
(H.M. Balyuzi, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – The Centre of the Covenant, p. 31)

If you possess the whole world, the treasures of the world, the pleasures of the world, they may be momentary pleasures, but they will be bitter sadness throughout your life. They will never bring you any happiness. People are wrong to change the places of their entertainment and enjoyments from New York to Paris, to Rome, to Africa, to Australia.  They are searching for it, while they are carrying it along within themselves. (From Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi)

Spiritual happiness is what we’re all looking for, because it’s eternal and unfathomable:

Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 673-674)

We have an innate longing for happiness, and when we find it once, we try to duplicate the feeling.

When a man has found the joy of life in one place, he returns to that same spot to find more joy. When a man has found gold in a mine, he returns again to that mine to dig for more gold. This shows the internal force and natural instinct which God has given to man, and the power of vital energy which is born in him. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 33)

Happiness appears in our soul with the love of God and causes us to attain all the virtues and perfections we’re looking for.  This is why it’s so important to find the love of God.  It’s the key to happiness!

This kind of happiness appeareth in one’s soul with the love of God and suffereth one to attain to the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Therefore, endeavor as much as thou art able in order to illuminate the lamp of thy heart by the light of love.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 673-674)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that the greatest bliss and delight possible is discovering that by the confirming grace of God we have become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men.  This reinforces the idea that we’re responsible for each other’s well-being and happiness.

And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight..?  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 2)

Here’s another quote which suggests we’re responsible for each other’s happiness.  First we have to be cheerful ourselves so that we can bring joy and happiness to others:

I beg of God that thou mayest find a cheerful life, cause the increase of the longing of all present in the meetings of the maid-servants of the Merciful One and bring joy and happiness to the handmaidens of God; so that thou mayest diffuse the fragrances and chant the manifest verses. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 185-186)

 

For more in this series, please see:

Why aren’t we Happy? 

Reasons to be Happy

Happiness is a Choice 

Keys to Happiness

What stood out for you as you read this?  Post your comments here:

 

Why Aren’t We Happy?

 

Individualism has caused the “pursuit of happiness” to give rise to an aggressive and boundless sense of personal entitlement.

No aspect of contemporary civilization is more directly challenged by Bahá’u’lláh’s conception of the future than is the prevailing cult of individualism, which has spread to most parts of the world. Nurtured by such cultural forces as political ideology, academic elitism, and a consumer economy, the “pursuit of happiness” has given rise to an aggressive and almost boundless sense of personal entitlement. (Bahá’í International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future)

The moral consequences have been corrosive for both individual and society alike; and devastating in terms of disease and drug addiction.

The moral consequences have been corrosive for the individual and society alike – and devastating in terms of disease, drug addiction and other all-too- familiar blights of century’s end. (Bahá’í International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future)

Correcting this will require us to call into question some of our most deeply entrenched assumptions about right and wrong.

The task of freeing humanity from an error so fundamental and pervasive will call into question some of the twentieth century’s most deeply entrenched assumptions about right and wrong.  (Bahá’í International Community, 1999 Feb, Who is Writing the Future)

God has made provisions so that everyone on earth has access to everything they need for all humanity to be in the utmost happiness, the utmost comfort and the utmost well-being. Sadly, we’ve created a world where conditions are such that some are happy and comfortable and others are in misery; some are accumulating exorbitant wealth and others are in dire want.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that under such a system it is impossible for man to be happy.

God is not partial and is no respecter of persons. He has made provision for all. The harvest comes forth for everyone. The rain showers upon everybody and the heat of the sun is destined to warm everyone. The verdure of the earth is for everyone. Therefore there should be for all humanity the utmost happiness, the utmost comfort, the utmost well-being. But if conditions are such that some are happy and comfortable and some in misery; some are accumulating exorbitant wealth and others are in dire want—under such a system it is impossible for man to be happy and impossible for him to win the good pleasure of God. God is kind to all. The good pleasure of God consists in the welfare of all the individual members of mankind.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 41)

No matter how far the material world advances, it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured.

No matter how far the material world advances, it cannot establish the happiness of mankind. Only when material and spiritual civilization are linked and coordinated will happiness be assured.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 109)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá shares a story which illustrates this point:

A Persian king was one night in his palace, living in the greatest luxury and comfort. Through excessive joy and gladness he addressed a certain man, saying: “Of all my life this is the happiest moment. Praise be to God, from every point prosperity appears and fortune smiles! My treasury is full and the army is well taken care of. My palaces are many; my land unlimited; my family is well off; my honor and sovereignty are great. What more could I want!”

The poor man at the gate of his palace spoke out, saying: “O kind king! Assuming that you are from every point of view so happy, free from every worry and sadness—do you not worry for us? You say that on your own account you have no worries—but do you never worry about the poor in your land? Is it becoming or meet that you should be so well off and we in such dire want and need? In view of our needs and troubles how can you rest in your palace, how can you even say that you are free from worries and sorrows?

As a ruler you must not be so egoistic as to think of yourself alone but you must think of those who are your subjects. When we are comfortable then you will be comfortable; when we are in misery how can you, as a king, be in happiness?” The purport is this that we are all inhabiting one globe of earth. In reality we are one family and each one of us is a member of this family. We must all be in the greatest happiness and comfort, under a just rule and regulation which is according to the good pleasure of God, thus causing us to be happy, for this life is fleeting.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 41)

Other reasons for unhappiness include racial and religious prejudice, the competitive struggle for existence and inhumanity toward each other.

The obstacle to human happiness is racial or religious prejudice, the competitive struggle for existence and inhumanity toward each other.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 468)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was happiest when people of all races were present:

Joseph Hannen records: “On Tuesday, April 23rd, at noon, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the student-body of more than 1,000, the faculty and a large number of distinguished guests, at Howard University.  This was a most notable occasion, and here, as everywhere when both white and colored people were present, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá seemed happiest. The address was received with breathless attention by the vast audience, and was followed by a positive ovation and a recall.” (Hannen, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Washington, D.C.” p. 7; Agnes Parson’s Diary, p. 29, Footnote 44)

Looking for happiness in the wrong places

We’ll never find happiness until we attach ourselves to the eternal:

Therefore the heart is never at rest and never finds real joy and happiness until it attaches itself to the eternal. How foolish the bird that builds its nest in a tree that may perish when it could build its nest in an ever-verdant garden of paradise.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 136-137)

Living in a hedonistic, materialist, consumer-driven society, many of us grew up believing happiness could be found in possessions or activities or substances.

Many people go from one thing or another, looking for happiness and when it eludes them, they move on to something else, but so far, very few find happiness or peace of mind this way:

A great many people embrace these cults which become fashionable for a time. But when the Novelty wears off or dissatisfaction sets in, or the movements become impotent and disintegrate, then they look for another saviour, another movement or another sect, and there are many to turn to throughout the world. And so the experiment to find peace and tranquillity in one’s life continues. But so far few have found happiness or peace of mind.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 4, p. 71)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá makes a link between happiness and the equality between men and women that might surprise you:

And let it be known once more that until woman and man recognize and realize equality … the happiness and felicity of mankind will not be a reality.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76)

This suggests that we’re responsible for making each other happy, not in a codependent way, but by recognizing and working towards the equality of the other person.

Shoghi Effendi says it more clearly:

The more we make others happy the greater will be our own happiness and the deeper our sense of having served humanity.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v I, p. 45)

This story also illustrates the point:

The Master wanted people to be happy not only because then they could come to know the spiritual life, but also because in that condition they could make others happy too. Similarly He once told one of His daughters who was to travel with her aunt that she should be a cheerful companion.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 168)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us our responsibility to bring happiness to those who are sick:

If there is a sick person and one wishes to cure him, let one cause joy and happiness in his heart.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 417)

 

For more in this series, please see:

Learning How to Be Happy 

Reasons to be Happy

Happiness is a Choice 

Keys to Happiness

How has this helped you understand why you aren’t happy?  Post your comments here:

 

Reasons to be Happy

 

We all want to be happy!  Many of us don’t know how; or more importantly, that it requires effort and the right kind of attitudes on our part.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá wants us to be hopeful, happy and rejoiced, which makes happiness a spiritual standard we’re striving to achieve.

Be thou hopeful and be thou happy and rejoiced. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 545)

I think the reason for this is so the world can see our belief in Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings will be reflected in our faces.

Believers, he added, must show their belief in their daily lives, so that the world might see the light shining in their faces . (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 124-125)

In New York ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

May everyone point to you and ask “Why are these people so happy?” I want you to be happy … to laugh, smile and rejoice in order that others may be made happy by you.  (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 130)

Happiness has a practical purpose as well – it keeps our health, while depression of spirit begets diseases:

To Mrs Smith, a new Bahá’í, who belonged to a distinguished Philadelphia family and who was suffering with a headache, the Master said, ‘You must be happy always. You must be counted among the people of joy and happiness and must be adorned with divine morals. In a large measure happiness keeps our health while depression of spirit begets diseases. The substance of eternal happiness is spirituality and divine morality, which has no sorrow to follow it.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 129)

Joy is the best cure for illness. It’s better than a hundred thousand medicines.

Joy is the best cure for your illness. Joy is better than a hundred thousand medicines for a sick person. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 417)

Happiness vitalizes our strength, makes our intellects keener and our understanding less clouded.  We’re better able to cope with the world and find our sphere of usefulness.:

Joy gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 109)

Also, happiness helps others know they can trust and depend on us in all of our business and personal dealings:

Let the Light of Truth and Honesty shine from them, so that all who behold them may know that their word in business or pleasure will be a word to trust and depend upon.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 124-125)

We can’t know the spiritual life unless we are happy.  Here’s how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught Mrs C about living in the spiritual life:

A ‘Mrs C’ was an early believer who went to ‘Akká. She belonged to a wealthy and fashionable group of people in New York. Her life had been conventional and rather unsatisfying. She had been a sincere Christian, but somehow had not gained much comfort from her religion. She had become somewhat melancholy. While travelling abroad, she had learned about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. She eagerly grasped His message and headed to the prison-city. Having arrived, she was fascinated by everything, most especially by the Master.

She noticed that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá always greeted her with ‘Be happy!’ The other members of the party were not addressed in the same way by Him. This troubled her. Finally she asked someone to ask the Master why He addressed her in this way. With ‘His peculiarly illuminating smile‘, He replied, ‘I tell you to be happy because we can not know the spiritual life unless we are happy!’

‘Then Mrs C’s dismay was complete, and her diffidence vanished with the fullness of her despair.  ‘”But tell me, what is the spiritual life?” she cried, “I have heard ever since I was born about the spiritual life, and no one could ever explain to me what it is!”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá looked at His questioner again with that wonderful smile of His, and said gently: “Characterize thyself with the characteristics of God, and thou shalt know the spiritual life!”’ – few words, but they were sufficient.

The characteristics of God? They must be such attributes as love and beauty, justice and generosity. ‘All day long her mind was flooded with the divine puzzle, and all day long she was happy. She did not give a thought to her duties, and yet when she arrived at the moment of her evening’s reckoning, she could not remember that she had left them undone.

‘At last she began to understand. If she was absorbed in Heavenly ideals, they would translate themselves into deeds necessarily, and her days and nights would be full of light. From that moment she never quite forgot the divine admonition that had been granted her: “Characterize thyself with the characteristics of God!” ‘And she learned to know the spiritual life.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 133)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us how he survived forty years of imprisonment, where, without happiness, he couldn’t have lived through those years:

I myself was in prison forty years—one year alone would have been impossible to bear —nobody survived that imprisonment more than a year! But, thank God, during all those forty years I was supremely happy! Every day, on waking, it was like hearing good tidings, and every night infinite joy was mine. Spirituality was my comfort, and turning to God was my greatest joy. If this had not been so, do you think it possible that I could have lived through those forty years in prison? (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 111-112)

 

For more in this series, please see:

Learning How to Be Happy 

Why aren’t we Happy? 

Happiness is a Choice 

Keys to Happiness

What stood out as you read this?  Post your comments here: