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Spiritual Gravity

Just as the earth attracts everything to the centre of gravity, and every object thrown upward into space will come down, so also material ideas and worldly thoughts attract man to the centre of self. Anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jeal­ousy and suspicion prevent man from ascending to the realms of holi­ness, imprisoning him in the claws of self and the cage of egotism.  The physical man, unassisted by the divine power, trying to escape from one of these invisible enemies, will unconsciously fall into hands of another. No sooner does he attempt to soar upward than the density of the love of self, like the power of gravity, draws him to the centre of the earth. The only power that is capable of delivering man from this captivity is the power of the Holy Spirit. The attraction of the power of the Holy Spirit is so effective that it keeps man ever on the path of upward ascension.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)

This is one of my very favorite analogies in the Faith and I’m always sorry I can’t find it in a more acceptable translation.  It may just be that it’s there and I’m just using the wrong search terms to find it, so if anyone has an equivalent quote in something more authoritative, please let me know.

In the meantime, this seems to be the Bahá’í equivalent of the Christian “7 Deadly Sins” (anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jealousy and suspicion).  It makes sense that each of this prevents us from ascending to the realms of holiness.  I’ve certainly found that when I try to master one, another pops up and I fall into hands of another.  It feels a bit like God’s playing “whack a mole” with me!

Just as man is incapable of defying gravity, so too are we unable to escape from one of these invisible enemies without assistance from a divine power.  It’s not that we need help from the Holy Spirit, but it seems to be that all that’s required from me is that I’m attracted to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that the attraction of the power of the Holy Spirit is effective in keeping me on the path of upward ascension, I am grateful!

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

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Contact with Godly People

 O My Son! The company of the ungodly increaseth sorrow, whilst fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 56)

O Son Of Dust! Beware! Walk not with the ungodly and seek not fellowship with him, for such companionship turneth the radiance of the heart into infernal fire.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 57)

Growing up in an abusive home set me up for a lifetime of attracting the wrong kinds of people in my life, and finding the Bahá’í Faith reversed that tendency.  Sure, there are Bahá’ís who are abusive and hurt others, but by and large it’s inspiring to walk into a Bahá’í gathering and feel loved and accepted; to know that we’re all trying in our own limited ways to bring about the Most Great Peace.

I’ve read that our biggest spiritual tests come from other Bahá’ís, and our biggest growth comes from serving on Assemblies.  I think this is what Bahá’u’lláh means by “fellowship with the righteous cleanseth the rust from off the heart.”  It’s through rubbing up against other people’s weaknesses, for the sake of God, that we grow in our ability to love and worship God and develop the virtues we need in the next world.  I’d rather have that kind of test, than the test of hanging around the ungodly increase sorrow and have the radiance of my heart turned into infernal fire.

Knowing why it’s better to hang out with Godly people, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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 Abuse – Overcoming Abuse and Violence

 

 

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Why We Let Go of Our Tales and Stories 

It is high time for you to throw away these tales, these barren stories. God is not pleased with them, humanity is not pleased with them, Your time is too costly to be expended on these trifling events. You are made in the image and likeness of God. Your birthright is more valuable than all the treasures of the empires. Arise with heart and soul and let not these golden days slip by without results! This day is the day of the splendors of the Sun of Reality! This day is the day of the Lord of the Kingdom! This day is the day of the fulfillment of glorious promises! This day is the day of joy and fragrance!  (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)

YIKES!  I love quotes that are very clear!  ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s bluntness is refreshing:

  • God is not pleased with our tales and barren stories (told about ourselves as well as others); our petty bickerings and jealousies
  • humanity is not pleased with them
  • Your time is too costly to be expended on these trifling events
  • Petty bickerings and jealousies
    • make one lose all the traces of spirituality
    • excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones
    • submerge one in the sea of phantasms
    • suffer one to become cold and pessimistic
    • throw him headlong into the depths of despair and helplessness!

Then He reminds us of our station:

  • You are made in the image and likeness of God.
  • Your birthright is more valuable than all the treasures of the empires.

And what to do instead:

  • arise with heart and soul
  • let not these golden days slip by without results!

And reminds us of the purpose of this day:

  • This day is the day of the splendors of the Sun of Reality!
  • This day is the day of the Lord of the Kingdom!
  • This day is the day of the fulfillment of glorious promises!
  • This day is the day of joy and fragrance!

Having such clear warnings, reminders and instructions, I have my marching orders and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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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Moving with the Rhythm of Life

We ought not to resist the shocks and upheavals of life, nor run counter to obstacles, we ought never to be impatient, we ought to be as incapable of impatience as we would revolt, this not being so much long‑suffering as a quiet awareness of the forces that operate in the hours, days, or years of waiting and inactivity. Always we ought to move with the larger rhythm, the wider sweep towards our ultimate goal, in the complete acquiescence, that perfect accord which underlies the spirit of the Faith itself.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, Bahá’í World, vol. 5, p.185)

I’m feeling a lot of impatience these days.  I’m registered for a conference I want to attend, I’ve got a partial scholarship and a potential person to carpool with, and yet, I’m still several hundred dollars short to fill in the missing pieces.  I’ve been in this place before, and God has come through and I want to trust that this time will be the same.  I have 5 days before confirming my attendance or I’ll lose my scholarship.  I’m not attached, either way.  There are equal pros and cons for going or staying home, and yet, I want God to make His will known and the only way I think I’ll know for sure is whether the money comes through or not.

So today’s reading is a reminder to continue to be aware of forces that operate while I wait, and instead of fretting, move with the day, finding ways to be of service to myself and others, and trust that in this moment, there is no fear, only love and acceptance.

Remembering to keep moving with the rhythm of life, I can relax and be grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through 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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Molding the World and Being Affected By It

We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved.  Man is organic with the world.  His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it . . . Through them [the Baha’i teachings] will the human heart be changed, and also our social environment provides the atmosphere in which we can grow spiritually and reflect in full the light of God.  (on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Compilation of Compilations, V1, #3.3)

I had to read this quote several times before I thought I might understand what Shoghi Effendi is saying.  Starting from the end and moving backwards, it reminds me that my social environment provides the atmosphere in which I can grow spiritually, but it also deeply affects my inner life.

As a highly sensitive introvert, I can only be out in the world a short time before the world’s negativity draws me under like an undertow and I need to isolate myself for awhile before I can regain my equilibrium and go out into the world again.  I’m like a cell phone that’s near the end of its life, unable to hold a charge for very long without needing to be plugged in again.

I used to compare myself to others, and to other Writings which urge us to be more and do more, which fed my addiction to beating myself up.  Now I’m more gentle with myself, forgiving myself, understanding that God created me as an introvert, and gave me unique tests to shape my character.  He knows my weakness and frailties and yet, He chose me to be part of His army of light, so it’s OK to need time to recharge my battery.

Now that I’m conscious of my own motives and God’s mercy and forgiveness, there’s no need to beat myself up, and I am grateful!

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

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

 

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5 Ways to Overcome Setbacks

We note that when learning accelerates, the friends grow more capable of overcoming setbacks, whether small or large – diagnosing their root causes, exploring the underlying principles, bringing to bear relevant experience, identifying remedial steps and assessing progress . . . (Universal House of Justice, Framework for Action, p. 35)

I love how the House of Justice is always giving us practical tools we can apply to our lives!  This quote is really about the community building process, but it’s easily transferable to any setback we have, not just in our Baha’i service.

A setback I’ve had recently is spending money on something I thought I had budgeted for, but after paying for it, I realized I didn’t.  Being debt-free and solvent is a high value of mine so this was a big deal.  With the help of this quote, here are the steps I took:

  1. diagnose the root causes: I’d forgotten that while there was money previously allocated for this purpose, I’d used it to cover a previous expense last month.  I’d recorded it, but forgot I’d done it, and forgot to check the budget.
  2. explore the underlying principles: I wanted to cross this item off the “to do” list before going on holidays (my will not God’s).  I ignored my intuition to check the budget first.
  3. bring relevant experience to bear: Having made mistakes in the past, and wanting to not beat myself up about it, thereby feeding my addiction to adrenaline, I reminded myself to forgive myself and ask God to find a way to cover the expense, from His hidden treasury, which He has done for me many times in the past.
  4. identify remedial steps: There was nothing I could do before leaving, except to give it to God and let Him work His magic.
  5. assess progress: When I get home, I can anticipate that God will show me ways to cover this expense.

Remembering to use the tools we’ve been given to help solve problems and move from the lower nature to the higher, I am grateful!

What setback are you experiencing in your life today and how can this process help?  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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