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Choosing to Accept God’s Blessings

If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! for His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter?  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 102-103)

This is another one of those life-changing quotes for me as I came to understand that if I wasn’t grateful for the blessings constantly streaming down for me from God right now, why would He send me any more?  The more I live in gratitude, the more things I find to be grateful for, and the happier I become.

At a time when I was pretty depressed and couldn’t see any hope for a future in this world, I developed a habit of finding 5 things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning; and 5 more before falling asleep at night.  Some days were harder than others to find the bounties and blessings, but the more I persisted, the more often I found myself thanking God in the moment, during the day, as I caught them.

If you’re having trouble thinking of any, this quote has a few to get you started:

  • God’s bounties are everlasting (meaning they last longer than any material thing we might think we absolutely have to have)
  • His blessings are superb
  • He never fails us
  • His goodness endures forever
  • His Sun gives Light continually
  • The Clouds of God’s Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion
  • He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him
  • His refreshing Breeze carries healing

Just reading that list makes me feel better!  How about you?

Knowing I don’t have to be a slave to my doubt and negativity and can choose to look for God’s bounties and blessings which are everywhere, 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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Setting Aside Every Personal Sense of Grievance

Regarding the matter of … and the inharmony that seems to exist among certain of the friends … when Bahá’ís permit the dark forces of the world to enter into their own relationships within the Faith they gravely jeopardize its progress;… All should be ready and willing to set aside every personal sense of grievance—justified or unjustified—for the good of the Cause, because the people will never embrace it until they see in its community life mirrored what is so conspicuously lacking in the world: love and unity. (From a letter dated 13 May 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Australia and New Zealand, in Living the Life, p. 27)

In helping to organize the Bicentennial event in our small cluster, a decision was made to not include a certain Bahá’í in the invitation.  She’s 90 years old, has some dementia, is strongly opinionated and tends to dominate the conversations.  People were worried about what the non-Bahá’í guests would think about the Faith if she went off on one of her rants.  I understood people’s concerns and even shared them.  I too have had my tests with this person.  So I agreed.

I went away feeling very unsettled though.  Is this a Faith of oneness, where everyone is welcomed, where diversity is celebrated?  Or is it a Faith of people just like me?  What if we had encouraged her to come, to show our guests that we can treat all people with respect and courtesy and dignity?  Wouldn’t that have been more important than showing the film and having a discussion about the Bab?  I couldn’t say that to the organizer, though, and an opportunity was missed.

To make up for this failing, I held a small gathering for elderly and shut-in Baha’is who couldn’t get to the community’s bicentennial celebrations.  I knew there would be another opinionated 80-year old in attendance, and there was potential for either or both to alienate everyone they’re talking to, and I didn’t want my resentment and frustration to spill over.  Before the gathering, I prayed to be patient, kind and respectful, particularly to the most difficult person.  And with God’s help, I was.

It turned out that I prayed for the wrong person, though, because there was someone else in attendance who got into a power struggle with the difficult person, which, for me, destroyed the whole Holy Day.  Another opportunity to examine my expectations, forgive, let go of all ill-feelings, pray for our community and remember the importance of unity.

Remembering that people will never embrace our Faith until they see us practice love and unity in action, I can do my part, perfectly imperfect, 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 Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

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Useless Hairsplittings

If . . . it consists in empty, profitless debates and in a vain concatenation of imaginings that lead to no result except acrimony, why devote one’s life to such useless hairsplittings and disputes.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 106)

I love this quote because I absolutely hate being around people who need to be right, and who “devote their lives to useless hairsplittings and disputes” that “lead to no result except acrimony”.  I love being right, too, especially when I have the Writings on my side!

I used to think that people engaged in useless hairsplitting were insecure and needed to be right at the expense of other people and at the expense of unity, but there may be another side.

I looked up the meaning of hairsplitting and found it’s the “drawing of distinctions that don’t make a practical difference”.  Sometimes, though, such distinctions may depend on the context and purpose.  For example, the expression “’the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” may seem like too many words saying the same thing, but it’s possible to  tell the truth without telling the whole truth, or  telling the whole truth without telling nothing but the truth. This is not hairsplitting but making a necessary distinction for the clarity of thought needed for ethical action and prudent action.

Knowing there may be times where we need people who can be precise in their thinking makes me more compassionate and forgiving 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  Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

 

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Reading our Reality

[I]t is only through continued action, reflection and consultation on their part that they will learn to read their own reality, see their own possibilities, make use of their own resources.  (Universal House of Justice, Framework for Action, #16)

I’m in a dilemma as we approach the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, in that when I read my own reality, I don’t know which voices to listen to.  On the one hand, I don’t want to attend the event planned in a town half an hour away, because it is past my bedtime and I don’t see to drive at night, even if I was to lean on God’s energy to stay up later than my body is comfortable with, so I’m judging myself harshly.

On the other hand, I have held two devotional gatherings geared to the success of all the events worldwide, consulted with the organizers of the night event and provided resources and planned an event for the next day, to celebrate it with others who are in a similar situation.

It’s enough!  God doesn’t expect me to do more than I can do.  He knows my weakness and my limitations and loves me just the way I am.  Now I need to be more forgiving and compassionate of my own poor self, trusting I’m doing my part.

Learning how to consult, act and reflect as a way to read my reality, I am at peace 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

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The Path to Real Happiness

They have not properly understood that man’s supreme honor and real happiness lie in self-respect, in high resolves and noble purposes, in integrity and moral quality, in immaculacy of mind. They have, rather, imagined that their greatness consists in the accumulation, by whatever means may offer, of worldly goods.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 18)

It’s so hard to be raised in a culture steeped in materialism and consumerism, where comparing myself to my neighbors is the norm.  I’ve grown up learning that I will be happy when. When I have the next greatest thing.  When I have the best of things.  When I have more.  When I have better than those around me.  When, when, when!

So I love that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds me that my supreme honor and real happiness is a choice not the result of circumstances.  I can make a decision in any moment to be happy and if I don’t know how to do it, this quote is a great place to start because it gives me concrete steps I can take.  What can I do in this moment that will give me:

  • self-respect?
  • high resolves?
  • noble purposes?
  • integrity?
  • moral quality?
  • immaculacy of mind?

Now, don’t you feel happier already?  I know I do!

Knowing there is a secret to happiness and I’ve got it, 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 Learning How to Be Happy

 

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The Beauty of Diversity 

Thus should it be among the children of men! The diversity in the human family should be the cause of love and harmony, as it is in music where many different notes blend together in the making of a perfect chord. If you meet those of different race and colour from yourself, do not mistrust them and withdraw yourself into your shell of conventionality, but rather be glad and show them kindness. Think of them as different coloured roses growing in the beautiful garden of humanity, and rejoice to be among them . . . (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 53-54)

This quote seems to be whole crux of the Bahá’í Writings, where Bahá’u’lláh’s goal is to unite all of mankind.  When we truly understand this self-evident truth, we will recognize our oneness.  I often wonder why this is so difficult to understand.  We love different colours and shapes in a garden.  We love the many different species of plants and animals.  We love a variety of textures and tastes in our food.  We love a variety of notes in music, so why is it so difficult to see different coloured human beings as different?  Why do we feel suspicion and mistrust?  Why, even in multicultural cities, do we withdraw and hang out with our own “kind”?

It’s easy for me to get caught up in questions like this and spiral into hopeless, helpless despair.  Fortunately statistics can help pull me out of this funk.  Slowly, we are moving towards Bahá’u’lláh’s great vision. Thanks to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s encouragement of the marriage of Hand of the Cause Louis Gregory, (an African-American man) and Louisa Mathews, (a white British woman) in 1912, interracial marriage is much more common today than ever before.  Even though the ban on interracial marriage didn’t end in the US until 1967, many advances have been made since then.  Today, 17% of married couples today are interracial.  Just a little more than 25 years ago, 63% of nonblack adults opposed interracial marriage. Today, that number is only 14%.[1]

By 2043, the Census Bureau predicts that the United States will become a “majority-minority” country[2], in which no racial group makes up more than half of the population.  As we move closer to a majority-minority status, people of different races will interact more frequently.  Please God, let this end the legacy of discrimination.

Knowing that as the world gets smaller, people are embracing cultural differences in many ways, 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 Criticizing Others

 

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[1] https://www.creditdonkey.com/interracial-marriage-statistics.html

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/05/07/majority-minority-america_n_7205688.html