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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

It’s OK to Feel Anxiety and Grief

To rise above the disappointments, obstacles, and pain which we experience in serving the Cause is difficult enough, but to be called on, in doing so, to be happy and confident is perhaps the keenest spiritual test any of us can meet. The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort. (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

In my meditation this morning, I was reminded of this quote, which is exactly the healing remedy I need for today.  Living with anxiety means I often feel guilty and judge myself harshly when I just read the first part of quotes like these.  Because it’s in the Writings, I make it black or white and live with a lot of guilt when I can’t reach the standards.  Not only do I have to rise above my disappointments, obstacles, and pain but I have to be happy and confident in doing it.  Either I’m doing it this way all the time, and I’m good or I’m falling short even once and I’m bad.

It’s so easy for me to beat myself up as being a “bad Bahá’í” especially when I start worrying about everyday concerns, or need to take time for healing, and I’m trying to stop this form of abasement.  This quote reminds me that if the Founders of our Faith can live with anxieties and grief, then so too can this lowly servant.  If even these people with superpowers I’ll never have also had moments where they felt the weight of their lives and needed time to recover their strength after some great disappointment, then it’s OK for me too.  If God didn’t punish them, then surely He isn’t going to punish me either!

Letting go of my need to be perfect, 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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Giving Thanks from the Heart

But real thankfulness is a cordial giving of thanks from the heart. When man in response to the favors of God manifests susceptibilities of conscience, the heart is happy, the spirit is exhilarated. These spiritual susceptibilities are ideal thanksgiving.  (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 236)

When I was a child, I learned to write “bread and butter” letters whenever someone gave me something.  I was taught that this letter of thanks was proper etiquette and plain duty.  It was kind of formulaic and definitely wasn’t from the heart.  Most of the time I didn’t know or didn’t even like the person who’d sent it, but it was my duty.  I suppose it was better than nothing.

That’s why I love this quote so much.  When I’m constantly looking for evidences of God’s bounties and blessings and holding out my receptacle to catch them all, it’s easy to be effusive in my gratitude and it is definitely more sincere and from the heart.

Want to be happy?  Want to exhilarate your spirit?  It’s as simple as moving from the lower nature to the high, moving from obligation (in the head) to gratitude (from the heart.)

Knowing another way to be happy 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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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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God’s Forgiveness of Sinners

It is even possible for those who have died in sin and unbelief to be transformed, that is, to become the object of divine forgiveness. This is through the grace of God and not through His justice, for grace is to bestow without desert, and justice is to give that which is deserved. As we have the power to pray for those souls here, so too will we have the same power in the next world, the world of the Kingdom. Are not all the creatures in that world the creation of God? They must therefore be able to progress in that world as well. And just as they can seek illumination here through supplication, so too can they plead there for forgiveness and seek illumination through prayer and supplication. Thus, as souls can progress in this world through their entreaties and supplications, or through the prayers of holy souls, so too after death can they progress through their own prayers and supplications, particularly if they become the object of the intercession of the holy Manifestations.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 62)

I used to think I was perfect and the people who abused me were monsters.  As I’ve studied the Baha’i Writings and become more enlightened, I realize that we are all sinners, me included.  In the grand scheme of sins, surely lying (“the worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation of all evil”) and gossip and backbiting (the most great sins; “accursed wouldst thou be”; “quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”) are the two most important, even before sexual sins.  I think if we would all work on these two sins, the rest would be easy in comparison.

With that in mind, I can approach this prayer with gratitude, knowing that the people who turned away from God and abused me can still be forgiven by God and transformed.  I can pray for them; they can pray for themselves; and best of all, the Manifestations of God can pray for them and they will be forgiven.  I can leave the justice to God and focus on my own sins, hopefully recognizing them in this life and accepting God’s forgiveness and even if I mess up, I know that there are people and Manifestations who can pray for me and I can also pray for myself.  It takes a lot of pressure off trying to be perfect!

Knowing there are many ways to be forgiven even in the next world, I can relax 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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