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A Prayer for a Favorable End to One’s Life

He is God! O Lord! Grant me such grace and bounty, such protection and support, such kindness and security that the last of my days may excel their beginning, and the end of my life commence the bestowal of manifold favors. May some gift or blessing of Thine reach me at every moment, and one of Thy pardons and mercies be granted me with every breath, that beneath the vast shade cast by the hoisted standard, I may return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise. Thou art the Beneficent, the Kind, and Thou art the Lord of grace and bounty.  (Provisional Translation of a prayer for a favorable end to one’s life (ḥusn-i-khátimih), extracted from a Tablet of ʻAbdu’l-Bahá written for Áqá Mírzá Áqáy-i-Afnán[1])

A dear friend of mine is dying (but aren’t we all at the end of the day!), and I wanted to pray for the ease of her passing so when I found this provisional translation of a new prayer the other day, I was absolutely thrilled at God’s perfect timing.  It’s such a sweet prayer and it resonated with me on so many levels.

Don’t we all want God’s grace and bounty, His protection and support, His kindness and security every day of our lives and especially when we’re in the last of our days?

Don’t we all want the end of our lives to commence the bestowal of God’s manifold favors?

Don’t we all want some gift or blessing of God’s to reach us at every moment?

Don’t we all want one of His pardons and mercies be granted to us with every breath?

Don’t we all long to return to that Kingdom which is worthy of praise?

Don’t we all like to be reminded that God is Beneficent, Kind, and the Lord of grace and bounty and not the punishing God of our childhoods?

Knowing there is a specific prayer to say for my dying friends and family and one that I can also say for my own passing, I am grateful!

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

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book  Learning How to Be Happy

 

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[1] https://adibmasumian.com/translations/ab01954/

The Relationship Between Sin and Physical Ailments

It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, #134, p. 152)

Once diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I did everything in my power to find a solution – from medication to alternative health therapies, to many years of talk therapy and everything in between.  As a Bahá’í I found many answers in the Writings which brought comfort to my mind, but nothing got me free from the effects of anxiety and depression till I met Henry Wright, a Christian minister who specializes in the spiritual roots behind disease.  Henry teaches, and I’ve come to believe, that 80% of all disease, including depression, has a spiritual root.  I’m only just learning how the veils we put up between us and God lead to disease in the body.  This was a huge wake-up revelation for me!  ‘Abdul-Bahá describes it so well in today’s quote.

I used to think that “sins” referred to the “big” ones (murder, sex outside marriage), but now I’ve come to understand sin as anything that God (through the Baha’i Writings) tells me to do, which I’m not doing.

By deepening my understanding of these teachings, I’ve come to realize that when I call my disease “anxiety and depression”, I fall into the medical model, and stay trapped in the prison of self.  When I call it “fear and self-pity” instead, it became a sin (or veil between me and God), and there were things I could find in the Writings to do to remove the veil.  This concept changed my life for the better, and when I applied his teachings, I became free and eager to pass along what I learned to others.

Knowing that when I fall into fear and self-pity, I’m not trusting God and His Teachings, and this veil is the cause of my disease, and believing there are solutions I can use, 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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The More Difficulties We Have, The More Perfect We Become 

You are encouraged to continue to keep in mind the spiritual dimension of your struggles. We are assured by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the following words:  “The more difficulties one sees in the world the more perfect one becomes. The more you plough and dig the ground the more fertile it becomes. The more you cut the branches of a tree the higher and stronger it grows. The more you put the gold in the fire, the purer it becomes. The more you sharpen the steel by grinding the better it cuts. Therefore, the more sorrows one sees the more perfect one becomes. That is why, in all times, the Prophets of God have had tribulations and difficulties to withstand. The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the more greater his knowledge becomes. Therefore I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties . . . Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows.”  (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice in a letter to an individual, 23 October 1994, published on-line as Childhood Abuse, Ritual)

Whenever I fall into that “why me, God?” whine, I love to be reminded of this quote, with all its practical answers to this question.

Let’s look at each of these concepts from nature one at a time:

  • the more difficulties we see, the more perfect we become
  • the more we plow and dig the ground, the more fertile it becomes
  • the more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow
  • the more we cut the branches of a tree, the higher and stronger it grows
  • the more we put the gold in the fire, the purer it becomes
  • the more we sharpen the steel by grinding, the better it cuts
  • the more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing, the greater his knowledge becomes

None of these things are easy.  It’s hard work to plow and dig the ground (and the ground or the tree doesn’t feel good about it either).  The heat of the fire or the grinding of the steel is excruciatingly painful.  Spiritual growth is like that, as we learn to turn our ships and our vision from the lower nature to the higher.  If we can accept the above examples to be true, doesn’t it also make sense that the more sorrows we have, the more perfect we become?

I love the last two sentences and can imagine ‘Abdu’l-Baha saying them with a twinkle in his eye:  “I am happy that you have had great tribulations and difficulties . . . Strange it is that I love you and still I am happy that you have sorrows.”  This helps me withstand the onslaught of tests, difficulties, frustrations and sorrows.

Knowing there’s a purpose to it all, 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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For Every Crisis, there’s Always a Victory

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

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

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

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

Knowing I can focus on the victories instead of the negative things that happened to me, I am grateful!

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

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

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Teaching Needs Detachment 

Whoso ariseth to teach Our Cause must needs detach himself from all earthly things, and regard, at all times, the triumph of Our Faith as his supreme objective. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 334)

I have a lot of emotional pain from childhood wounds and can easily spiral into self-pity because I don’t have the things that many people take for granted – family, spouse, career, home and more.  I heard this verse sung on YouTube this morning, and it made me sit up and take notice.

I have chosen to dedicate my life to peace – that’s why I became a Bahá’í.  Implicit in that decision is the fact that I have also chosen to “arise to teach His cause”.  By breaking my heart and not letting me have the things of this world that I think I have a right to, God has “detached me from all earthly things”, so that He can use me (and all of us) to accomplish “His supreme objective”.  So if it’s my choice to be a Bahá’í, with all that this implies, what right do I have to complain when He’s giving me exactly what I need in order to accomplish His higher aims?

There’s no way on earth I would have detached myself from my kindred; or my financial security, but as I see the wisdom in it, I can forgive God for what I used to think was His punishment, and now see as His mercy.

Understanding God’s wisdom as He gives me exactly what I need, I am grateful!

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

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Forgive

 

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Abuse Happens when We Come From our Lower Nature 

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. By this means, you can liberate yourself from the anger to which you refer in your letter, and foster your own spiritual development.   (Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, to this author, 9 September 1992)

The first time my heart was broken was when I was first sexually abused by my father, and hearing my mother say in response: “I wish she’d never been born.”  With this criticism, I believed it was my fault.  Neither the abuse, nor her hurtful comment had anything to do with me, though I believed it did.

For over 50 years, I told myself things like “you’re unlovable”; “you deserve to be used for sex”; “life will always be like this” etc.  As a small child, these statements made sense as I was trying to make sense of the world the only way I knew how.  As an adult, though, the House of Justice taught me that I had to learn to separate their actions from the meaning I gave to them.  I came to realize that these beliefs (and more) were just lies coming from my lower nature, and I would be just as responsible to God for the “abuse” I was heaping on myself; as my parents would be for the abuse they heaped on me!   The scale of the sin might be different, but we were all acting from our lower natures.

Once I realized that my parent’s abusive actions arose from their lower natures, which hooked into my lower nature (when I believed the abuse had anything to do with me), I was able to get free of both my anger and my self-pity.

Learning that when I can attain this level of insight, I free myself from criticism and anger; and foster my spiritual development, I am grateful!

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

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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