Select Page

I am Seen

O Friends! Verily I say, whatsoever ye have concealed within your hearts is to Us open and manifest as the day; but that it is hidden is of Our grace and favour, and not of your deserving.      (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian  60)

When I was a child, I was taught this song.  The first verse goes like this:  “God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets his tender view; if God so loves the little birds, I know he loves me too.”

The implication was that He is All-Knowing and All-Seeing.  I didn’t feel seen by God, though.  For years, I’d prayed for the abuse in my family to stop and it only got worse, so I really believed that just like other families were different than ours, God’s relationship with me was different too.

When I read the above quote, it gave me great comfort, because it suggested that even know no one had ever called my parents to account for the terrible things they did, God saw them all.  This let me rest in His justice and His timing.

When I looked at it through the eyes of my own sins, it also gave me comfort:  He knows what I’m thinking and doing, good and bad, and it’s hidden from others as a protection from my ego, and until such time as I can ask for His forgiveness.

God sees me and protects me and loves me and is continually showering His favor on me 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 Violence and Abuse:  Reasons and Remedies 

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

God Knows Me

Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, pp.  316-317)

Whenever I called myself to account at night, I used to see only the defects and never the assets or virtues.  That changed the day someone reminded me that the root word “account” was found in the word “accountant”, and that accountants always looked at both assets and liabilities when putting together any balance sheet.  You couldn’t have one without the other.

That still didn’t help me much, because, before learning the language of the virtues, I didn’t have a framework to think more positively about myself, and when I took the facilitator training for the Virtues Project, I assumed that the virtues applied to everyone else, but not to me too.

Now I’m learning to “be fair in my judgement”, to trust in God’s infinite love for me; to believe that He created me noble AND He created me to be a sinner and that both things are true.  I’m human.  I make mistakes, just like everyone else.

My prayers these days are:  “Help me to see my worth through your eyes”.

God sees me with all my sins and imperfections and He loves me just the way I am 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 Strengthening Your Relationship with God

 

Help Keep This Site Alive

Turning to the Light 

He urges you to persevere and add up your accomplishments, rather than to dwell on the dark side of things. Everyone’s life has both a dark and a bright side. The Master said: “turn your back to the darkness and your face to Me”.  (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly, 2 December, 1980)

I find it so easy when I’m calling myself to account, to focus only on everything I did wrong.  I can ruminate for years on a past transgression, which I might believe God has forgiven, but I can’t forgive myself.  I think I’ve become attached to negativity, and to beating myself up.  People have told me for a long time that I have a tendency to be hard on myself.  Lately I’ve come to see this as an addiction.

Recently someone asked me if there is a concept of forgiving oneself in the Bahá’í Writings.  At first I fell into the thinking of the day, because I’ve been working on forgiving myself.  Now I’ve come to realize that the only one with the power to forgive me is God.  If I ask for forgiveness, it’s granted because His forgiveness exceeds His fury and He is the “ever-forgiving” and the “all merciful”.  If I can’t accept His forgiveness or don’t trust that it’s been given when I asked, then these are veils between me and God, which need to be removed through detachment.

Knowing I have permission to add up my accomplishments and focus on them, and knowing I can turn my back on the darkness as I turn towards God, 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

Help Keep This Site Alive

 

 

13 Steps To Becoming Obedient

 

In a previous article, we’ve looked at Understanding Obedience, and now we’re going to look at how we can become obedient.

There are certain steps we can take on our path towards obedience:

  1. Enter into a covenant with God:

He must enter into a covenant with his Lord in order that he shall obey the divine commands.  (`Abdu’l-Baha:  Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 163).

  1. Fear God:

. . . lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í Education, p. 6)

  1. Mention God’s name day and night:

Fear thou God, thy Lord, and make mention of His Name in the day-time and at eventide. (The Bab, Fire and Light, p. 16)

Well is it with them who obey him, and call him to remembrance.  (Baha’u’llah:  Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. 79)

  1. Don’t follow the faithless:

Follow not the promptings of the faithless, lest thou be reckoned among the exponents of idle fancies.  Faithfully obey the Primal Point Who is the Lord Himself, and be of the righteous. (The Bab:  Selections from the Bab, p. 160)

  1. Don’t follow the ungodly or those who are also committing sins:

Obey ye My commandments, and follow not the ungodly, they who have been reckoned as sinners in God’s Holy Tablet.  (Baha’u’llah:  The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 43)

  1. Make an effort so God can guide you:

Whensoever he hath fulfilled the conditions implied in the verse:  “Whoso maketh efforts for Us,” he shall enjoy the blessings conferred by the words: “In Our Way shall We assuredly guide him.”   (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 266)

  1. Guard yourself, defend your Faith and Oppose your passions (desires, hungers, cravings, lusts, urges, rage, fury, outbursts, obsessions, crazes):

Whoso among the learned guardeth his self, defendeth his faith, opposeth his desires, and obeyeth his Lord’s command, it is incumbent upon the generality of the people to pattern themselves after him.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 118)

  1. Pattern yourself after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá:

. . . he must guard himself, defend his faith, oppose his passions and obey the commandments of his Lord.  It is then the duty of the people to pattern themselves after him.  (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 34)

  1. Have faith:

It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult. With you, and indeed most Bahá’ís, who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come . . . Bahá’u’lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realize their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 342)

  1. Let all your actions conform to His laws:

Through the power of faith, obey ye the teachings of God, and let all your actions conform to His laws.  (`Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of `Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 35)

  1. Sacrifice your personality:

They have to sacrifice their personalities, to a certain extent . . .  (Shoghi Effendi: Lights of Guidance, p. 83)

. . . when He desired to impress a person with the necessity of obeying the Teachings and rectifying his life, He never said: You must do thus and so, be self-sacrificing, see no fault in others, and so on — He always said: We must…  (Marzieh Gail, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 200)

  1. Know that no matter how difficult it might seem, the solution is within your power:

Certainly the problem confronting you is a difficult one.  However, its solution lies within your power . . . (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 366)

  1. Use doctors, pray and meditate and serve the Faith and your community:

You can be confident that with the help of doctors, by prayer and meditation, by self-abnegation and by giving as much time as possible to serving the Cause in your community you can eventually succeed in overcoming your problem.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 366)

What helps you become obedient?  Post your comments below.

Causes And Effects Of Sin

 

In previous articles we’ve looked at the concept of sin from a Baha’i perspective.  Now I’d like to look at what causes it and how it effects us.

Sin causes pathogenic factors which cause diseases to become compounded, multiplied and transmitted to others:

We see clearly, therefore, how powerful are sin and contumacy as pathogenic factors. And once engendered these diseases become compounded, multiply, and are transmitted to others. Such are the spiritual, inner causes of sickness.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 153)

Sin comes from the demands of nature:

All sin comes from the demands of nature, and these demands, which arise from the physical qualities, are not sins with respect to the animals, while for man they are sin. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 119)

When we overcome one, we’ll fall into another:

The physical man, unassisted by the divine power, trying to escape from one of these invisible enemies, will unconsciously fall into hands of another.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 10 – Issue 7)

Love of self:

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. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 10 – Issue 7)

What’s the Purpose of Sin?

Again it seems that we need contrasts; so that we can make a choice for good; and so others may be attracted to the Faith:

But when we find ourselves falling short we must add to this response the high resolve to “gain victory over (our) own selves” as speedily as possible, as a mercy to ourselves and to our fellow men, so that others may be attracted to the Faith without hindrance.  (National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 120)

What Happens When We Sin?

The body is in torment:

If the soul falls into sin, the body is in torment!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65)

Sins cause 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, p. 152)

Sins inflict painful wounds on our souls – it’s a painful torture:

All his sins and shortcomings are tools of torture inflicting painful wounds upon the souls of the Chosen Ones of God [and] . . .  is painful torture to them. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 227)

Sins cause disease, calamity, natural disasters including floods, hurricanes and earthquakes:

According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause.  (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

What Happens To The Sinner?

There is a clear link between sin and disease:

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, p. 152)

His sufferings are remedial and educative, reminding us that we’ve strayed from the right path:

The suffering that follows error is not vindictive, however, but educative and remedial. It is God’s Voice proclaiming to man that he has strayed from the right path. If the suffering is terrible, it is only because the danger of wrongdoing is more terrible, for “the wages of sin is death.” (Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha’u’llah and the New Era, p. 95)

He is deprived of God’s bounties and blessings:

The favors of God are all-surrounding, but should the conscious eye of the soul of man remain veiled and darkened, he will be led to deny these universal signs and remain deprived of these manifestations of divine bounty.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 90)

. . . such a person will surely be deprived of the blessings of the Almighty.  Beware, beware, lest ye fall short of what hath been set forth in this letter.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Nearness to God, p. ‘Izzat 15)

He’s prevented from ascending to the realms of holiness, and imprisoned in self and ego:

. . . prevent man from ascending to the realms of holi­ness, imprisoning him in the claws of self and the cage of egotism.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Volume 10 – Issue 7)

He becomes dissatisfied about not finding a job he likes; or a place in the world that fits him:

You should never be too depressed about your dissatisfaction concerning not finding a job you like, a place in the world that fits you. If you analyse it this general sense of misfit is one of the curses of your generation, one of the products of the world’s disequilibrium and chaos. It is not confined to your life, it is pretty general.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community, p. 454)

What do the Bahá’í Writings say about “Generational Sin” or “Sins of the Father”?

Many Christians believe that because of Adam’s “original sin”, all of his descendants were, without reason, guilty sinners, which is far from the justice of God:

But the mass of the Christians believe that, as Adam ate of the forbidden tree, He sinned in that He disobeyed, and that the disastrous consequences of this disobedience have been transmitted as a heritage and have remained among His descendants. Hence Adam became the cause of the death of humanity. This explanation is unreasonable and evidently wrong, for it means that all men, even the Prophets and the Messengers of God, without committing any sin or fault, but simply because they are the posterity of Adam, have become without reason guilty sinners, and until the day of the sacrifice of Christ were held captive in hell in painful torment. This is far from the justice of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 120)

If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?

Could we conceive of the Divinity, Who is Justice itself, inflicting punishment upon the posterity of Adam for Adam’s own sin and disobedience? Even if we should see a governor, an earthly ruler punishing a son for the wrongdoing of his father, we would look upon that ruler as an unjust man. Granted the father committed a wrong, what was the wrong committed by the son? There is no connection between the two. Adam’s sin was not the sin of His posterity, especially as Adam is a thousand generations back of the man today. If the father of a thousand generations committed a sin, is it just to demand that the present generation should suffer the consequences thereof?  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 449-450)

These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.

There are other questions and evidences to be considered. Abraham was a Manifestation of God and a descendant of Adam; likewise, Ishmael, Isaac, Jeremiah and the whole line of prophets including David, Solomon and Aaron were among His posterity. Were all these holy men condemned to a realm of punishment because of a deed committed by the first father, because of a mistake said to have been made by their mutual and remotest ancestor Adam? The explanation is made that when Christ came and sacrificed Himself, all the line of holy Prophets who preceded Him became free from sin and punishment. Even a child could not justly make such an assertion. These interpretations and statements are due to a misunderstanding of the meanings of the Bible.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 449-450)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains how the sins of parents can carry forward 3 or 4 generations in practical terms (not because of God’s judgement):

If a man does a great injustice to another in his life, then, after his death, his son will be despised for having had such a father and in some cases the injury might be so serious that the effect would reach to the grandson, etc., or a man may, by wrong living, fall into consumption and give that disease to his children unto the third or fourth generation. “Both physically and mentally the sins of the fathers may be visited upon the children.”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Daily Lessons Received at ‘Akká 1979 ed., pp. 45-46)

Children can inherit the weaknesses and ineffectiveness of their parents:

The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of constitution — that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children will be weak; if they are strong, the children will be robust. In the same way, purity of blood has a great effect; for the pure germ is like the superior stock which exists in plants and animals. For example, you see that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted and will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and debility of their parents.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 212)

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