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Listening to the Faults of Others

It is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbit­ing. We should therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in our presence.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p.  94)

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be part of conversations where people are complaining about others.  It seems to be happening so often and when I get caught up in it, it feels like I’m sitting in a vat full of poison.  I used to like hanging out in the common room in our apartment building to get to know my neighbors, but despite my best efforts to elevate the level of conversation, it always leaves me drained so now I avoid it entirely.  I used to appreciate eating at the soup kitchen as it really helped keep my food budget down but when I heard people criticizing the organization that fed us, I couldn’t bear it so now I don’t go there either.

Some days I think I’m really withdrawing from the world to avoid the conflict and can easily get caught up in judging myself harshly for it.  This quote gives me some comfort because it doesn’t say I have to stay and make things better, which I used to believe, it says I need to do my utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in my presence.  Avoiding the ungodly is acceptable in God’s eyes!

Knowing it’s OK to prevent others from making accusations or complaints in my presence 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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5 Steps to Overcoming Setbacks

We note that, as 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, until the process of growth has been fully reinvigorated.  (Universal House of Justice, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counselors, 29 December 2015)

I always LOVE learning practical steps I can take in times of need, and this quote is one I want to have handy all the time.  Embedded in it are 5 steps I can take whenever life throws me a curve ball:

  1. diagnose the root cause
  2. explore the underlying principles
  3. bring in relevant experience
  4. identify remedial steps
  5. assess progress

The wonderful thing about having something concrete to do, is that I often become paralyzed when obstacles are put in my path, or think I have to figure everything out myself, which feels more like paddling upstream.  I might think the roadblocks means it’s not God’s will or it’s not the right time, so I procrastinate or give up my goals entirely.

The House of Justice has given this quote to the Counselors, to guide us towards achieving the goals of the plan, but I think it can be used for anytime I’m faced with a hurdle to get over.

Knowing what to do when life puts obstacles in my path, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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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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