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Reassurance

 

I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved.  (Shoghi Effendi, Advent of Divine Justice, p.  69)

This is a really hard quote for those who want answers to “why is this happening to me?”  No matter what life throws at us, the bottom line is that it’s happening to profit us.  Somehow, it’s for our good, and that can be hard medicine to swallow, especially when we’re going through really hard times.  I’ve come to understand that all of our tests serve 2 purposes:  to draw us closer to God and to help us acquire the virtues we’ll need in the next world.

When my brother was killed and my daughter died and I suffered through years of emotional, physical and sexual abuse, I felt like a victim and even for many years, blamed God.  If there was a God, (and for many years I couldn’t accept that there was), how could He do these things to me?  I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t think the way we do.  I will never understand why He gave us free will and then stood by watching what mankind would do with it.  But with these quotes, and others like it, I’ve come to recognize that my life is better with God in it.  I can more easily handle everything that comes my way, I can appreciate that it’s strengthened my relationship to him, and no doubt I’ve developed a lot of virtues, resilience among them.

Knowing that all my tests are for my benefit, I can relax and I am grateful!  

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

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

 

 

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Effect of Illness on the Soul 

That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments.  Con­sider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 154)

If I understand this quote, correctly, I think it’s saying that when we’re physically sick, our souls are healthy, but unable to manifest their inherent might and power.  When we recover, though, our souls will have so much influence and power, that no force on earth can equal them and those who are pure, refined and sanctified will rejoice with exceeding gladness.

It’s true that when I’m physically or emotionally sick, I find it hard to pray and even to trust God, which surely creates a veil between the two of us.  If I’m sick enough, though, my soul cries out for relief and I’m always grateful when the prayer is answered.  I think illness and pain are some of the tests we undergo for the perfection of our souls, to help us develop the virtues we need the most and to draw us closer to God.  I often imagine that when we pass these tests, the Concourse on High celebrates with us.  The exciting part of this quote for me though is knowing that when we recover from our illness, we have a huge power at our disposal.  I wonder what my life would be like if I acted “as if” I believed this?  What would I be able to accomplish then?

Knowing there is a purpose for my sicknesses, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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Choosing Love and Mercy 

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

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

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

Knowing I have a choice to be loving and merciful to myself and others, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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How to Feel Spiritually Connected During Sex

In this video, Janna gives you some ideas on how to grow your Baha’i marriage by looking at the role of your soul in your sexual relationship.

Have a watch and post your comment below.

Janna Denton-Howes is a Marriage Coach whose passion is to help couples get unstuck and move powerfully towards the vision of true Baha’i marriage.  If you liked this video, you can visit her site; read her blog and watch her other videos.

5 Ways to Achieve Our Purpose in Life

 

What’s my purpose? What’s the purpose in being alive?  These are two questions I often hear!  Many people struggle with this question and never find an answer, because they are looking in the material realm; and not in the spiritual.

As Bahá’ís we’re lucky because the Bahá’í Writings tell us clearly!  The purpose of this life is to prepare us for the next life:

One must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 359)

There are 5 ways to accomplish this:

1.  To know God and to be obedient to His commandments:

The purpose of God in creating man hath been, and will ever be, to enable him to know his Creator and to attain His Presence. To this most excellent aim, this supreme objective, all the heavenly Books and the divinely-revealed and weighty Scriptures unequivocally bear witness. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)

If we accomplish this, we will be in paradise:

Whoso hath recognized the Day Spring of Divine guidance and entered His holy court hath drawn nigh unto God and attained His Presence, a Presence which is the real Paradise, and of which the loftiest mansions of heaven are but a symbol. Such a man hath attained the knowledge of the station of Him Who is “at the distance of two bows,” Who standeth beyond the Sadratu’l-Muntaha. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)

If we don’t, we will have condemned ourselves to the misery of remoteness and the nethermost fire, no matter what our earthly life might look like.

Whoso hath failed to recognize Him will have condemned himself to the misery of remoteness, a remoteness which is naught but utter nothingness and the essence of the nethermost fire. Such will be his fate, though to outward seeming he may occupy the earth’s loftiest seats and be established upon its most exalted throne.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 70-71)

The short obligatory prayer reminds us of our purpose every day when we say it:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Prayers, p. 3)

2.  To attain our share of the flood of grace which God pours forth for us:

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man’s hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.   (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 8)

3.  To carry forward an ever-advancing civilization:

All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. Say: O friends! Drink your fill from this crystal stream that floweth through the heavenly grace of Him Who is the Lord of Names. Let others partake of its waters in My name, that the leaders of men in every land may fully recognize the purpose for which the Eternal Truth hath been revealed, and the reason for which they themselves have been created.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 214)

4.  To acquire the virtues we’ll need in the next world:

Just as a baby in womb doesn’t know why it’s developing arms, legs, eyelashes etc; we can’t understand why we need to develop virtues for the next world either.  We have to take it on faith, trusting that, just as it became apparent soon after birth, it will become clearly apparent in our next birth too:

As the child in the womb does not yet know the use of its members, it does not know what its eyes are for, neither its nose, nor ears, nor tongue — so also it is with the soul on earth. It cannot understand here the uses and powers of its spiritual gifts, but directly it enters the eternal kingdom, it will become clearly apparent.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers 9, p. 48)

While the baby is in the womb, there are certain things which must be properly developed, or the baby will be handicapped in this world.  Similarly, we must develop certain qualities in this world, or we will be handicapped in the next:

As it is not yet shown while the child is in the womb of its mother, what its condition will be, whether it will have all the gifts of God or not, whether it will be perfect in all its members or not, whether it will be blind, or deaf, or dumb—but afterwards, when it enters the world, then it becomes clearly apparent if it is defective or not—so it is with the soul in this present state. Its perfection or its lackness is not understood until it enters the heavenly kingdom; then it is clearly seen, and then the soul understands whether or not it is lacking in the gifts of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Prayers 9, p. 47)

To put it another way:

In this world he must prepare himself for the life beyond. That which he needs in the world of the Kingdom must be obtained here. Just as he prepared himself in the world of the matrix by acquir­ing forces necessary in this sphere of existence, so, likewise, the indis­pensable forces of the divine existence must be potentially attained in this world.  What is he in need of in the Kingdom which transcends the life and limitation of this mortal sphere? That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore, it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that eternal life ready for him.  That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore, man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is a world of perfections; virtues, or perfections, must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit; in this world we must seek them. That is the Kingdom of ever­lasting life; it must be attained during vanishing existence.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)

What are the virtues that are important?

The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His Will hath provided, patience, nay, thankfulness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain, secondary and subordinate unto them.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 290)

That world beyond is a world of sanctity and radiance; therefore it is necessary that in this world he should acquire these divine attributes. In that world there is need of spirituality, faith, assurance, the knowledge and love of God. These he must attain in this world so that after his ascension from the earthly to the heavenly Kingdom he shall find all that is needful in that life eternal ready for him.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Foundations of World Unity, p. 63)

That divine world is manifestly a world of lights; therefore man has need of illumination here. That is a world of love; the love of God is essential. It is a world of perfections; virtues or perfections must be acquired. That world is vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit;  in this world we must seek them. That is the Kingdom of life everlasting; it must be attained during this vanishing existence.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 63-64)

Man is born naked and when dead he is also naked. He brings nothing with him to this world, and when he departs he cannot take anything physical with him to the next. But whatever he has given to the Cause of God while on this earth, his time, his labours, his resources, as well as his services to his fellow human beings, these he can take with him to the spiritual realms. This is one way of transforming something which belongs to the world of matter into the spiritual worlds of God.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh v 3, p. 78)

So from these quotes we see that in this world, we need to develop:

  • trustworthiness
  • truthfulness
  • purity of heart while communing with God
  • forbearance
  • resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed
  • contentment with the things His Will hath provided
  • patience and thankfulness in the midst of tribulation
  • complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon God
  • sanctity
  • radiance
  • spirituality
  • faith
  • assurance
  • illumination
  • the knowledge and love of God
  • the breaths of the Holy Spirit
  • time, labour, resources
  • service to our fellow man

We won’t understand how these qualities will be needed till we get to the next world:

For just as the effects and the fruitage of the uterine life are not to be found in that dark and narrow place, and only when the child is transferred to this wide earth do the benefits and uses of growth and development in that previous world become revealed—so likewise reward and punishment, heaven and hell, requital and retribution for actions done in this present life, will stand revealed in that other world beyond. And just as, if human life in the womb were limited to that uterine world, existence there would be nonsensical, irrelevant—so too if the life of this world, the deeds here done and their fruitage, did not come forth in the world beyond, the whole process would be irrational and foolish.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 184)

How can we acquire those things? Through:

  • the knowledge of God
  • the love of God
  • faith
  • philanthropic deeds
  • self-sacrifice
  • severance from this world
  • sanctity and ho­liness

By what means can man acquire these things? How shall he obtain these merciful gifts and powers? First, through the knowledge of God. Second, through the love of God. Third, through faith. Fourth, through philanthropic deeds. Fifth, through self-sacrifice. Sixth, through severance from this world. Seventh, through sanctity and ho­liness.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)

If we do these things, we will enjoy everlasting existence and more:

But if he possesses the knowledge of God, becomes ignited through the fire of the love of God, witnesses the great and mighty signs of the Kingdom, becomes the cause of love among mankind and lives in the utmost state of sanctity and holiness, he shall surely attain to second birth, be baptized by the Holy Spirit and enjoy everlasting existence.   (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)

If we don’t, we will surely be deprived of eternal life!

Unless he acquires these forces and attains to these require­ments, he will surely be deprived of the life that is eternal. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 226)

5.  To Bear and Endure

In the Fire Tablet, we learn that we were created to “bear and endure”!  This suggests that we can’t expect life to go our way; or to be easy!

Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 218)

As long as there is life on earth, there will also be suffering!

As long as there will be life on earth, there will be also suffering, in various forms and degrees.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 280)

The reason is to advance our minds and spirits; draw us closer to God; and help us acquire virtues:

‘Does the soul progress more through sorrow or through the joy in this world?’ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.—‘The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment. His attitude in this world will be that of divine happiness. Man is, so to speak, unripe: the heat of the fire of suffering will mature him. Look back to the times past and you will find that the greatest men have suffered most.’  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)

This takes us back to know and worship God – since our suffering reminds us to turn to God.

How can we achieve our purpose in life?

One way is through work!

You should also endeavour to engage in some useful occupation, or by training yourself to have such an occupation, as work in itself another means at our disposal, in accordance with our Teachings, to draw nearer to God, and to better grasp His purpose for us in this world.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 282)

And another, of course is through prayer – specifically the Short Obligatory Prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 3)

How has this helped you understand your purpose?  How will knowing this change your life?  Post your thoughts below!

Baha’i Basics – The Nature of the Soul

 

Compiled by Marlene Macke, St Marys, ON, Canada

 

Soul.  The immortal part of man, as distinguished from his body; the moral and emotional nature of man, as distinguished from his mind; the vital principle which moves and animates all life.   –  New Websters Dictionary

Soul.   The spiritual part of a human being.  –  Canadian Oxford Dictionary

Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul.  Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel.  It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him.  If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return to Him.  If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.  –  Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, LXXXII, pp. 158-59

Scientific philosophy has demonstrated that a simple element (‘simple’ meaning ‘not composed’) is indestructible, eternal.  The soul, not being a composition of elements, is, in character, as a simple element, and therefore cannot cease to exist.  The soul, being of that one indivisible substance, can suffer neither disintegration nor destruction, therefore there is no reason for its coming to an end….  –  Abdu’l-Baha, “The Evolution of the Spirit”, Paris Talks, p. 91

The soul that with a strong and constant calm

Takes sorrow and takes joy indifferently,

Lives in the life undying! That which is

Can never cease to be; that which is not

Will not exist.  –  HinduText from the Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter II

Know thou that every soul is fashioned after the nature of God, each being pure and holy at his birth.  Afterwards, however, the individuals will vary according to what they acquire of virtues or vices in this world….  –  Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 190

When the human soul soareth out of this transient heap of dust and riseth into the world of God, then veils will fall away, and verities will come to light, and all things unknown before will be made clear, and hidden truths be understood.

Consider how a being, in the world of the womb, was deaf of ear and blind of eye, and mute of tongue; how he was bereft of any perceptions at all. But once, out of that world of darkness, he passed into this world of light, then his eye saw, his ear heard, his tongue spoke. In the same way, once he hath hastened away from this mortal place into the Kingdom of God, then he will be born in the spirit; then the eye of his perception will open, the ear of his soul will hearken, and all the truths of which he was ignorant before will be made plain and clear.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l‑Baha, p. 177

It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free.  The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own.  The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 337

The Holy Spirit it is, which, through the mediation of the Prophets of God, teaches spiritual virtues to man and enables him to attain Eternal life.  It is evident that the souls receive grace from the bounty of the Holy Spirit which appears in the Manifestations of God, and not from the personality of the Manifestation.  –  Abdu’l‑Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, p. 43

Thou didst write of afflictive tests that have assailed thee. To the loyal soul, a test is but God’s grace and favour; for the valiant doth joyously press forward to furious battle on the field of anguish, when the coward, whimpering with fright, will tremble and shake. So too, the proficient student, who hath with great competence mastered his subjects and committed them to memory, will happily exhibit his skills before his examiners on the day of his tests. So too will solid gold wondrously gleam and shine out in the assayer’s fire.   It is clear, then, that tests and trials are, for sanctified souls, but God’s bounty and grace, while to the weak, they are a calamity, unexpected and sudden.  –  `Abdu’l‑Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l‑Baha, p. 181-82

O My servants!  Could ye apprehend with what wonders of My munificence and bounty I have willed to entrust your souls, ye would, of a truth, rid yourselves of attachment to all created things, and would gain a true knowledge of your own selves – a knowledge which is the same as the comprehension of Mine own Being.  –  Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, CLIII, p. 325

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose  his own soul?  –  Matthew, Chapter 16, Verse 26

As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.  –  Abdu’l‑Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66

Recommended Reading for additional information on the theme of the Nature of the Soul

The Bible, especially Book of Psalms

The Qur’an

Paris Talks by Abdu’l-Baha

Some Answered Questions by Abdu’l-Baha

Drops from the Ocean, Henry A. Weil

Closer than your Life Vein, Henry A. Weil