Select Page

The Importance of Faith 

When the light of faith is kindled in the lamp of the heart and soul, its spreading rays illumine every limb of the body. When this resplendent light shineth forth through the medium of the tongue, it is made manifest in the powers of speech and utterance. When its beams fall upon the eyes, insight and true vision are revealed, and when it stirreth the ear, it bestoweth attentive hearing. When this light sheddeth its radiance upon the mind, it leadeth to the recognition of the All-Merciful, and when it setteth aglow the limbs, it findeth expression in purity and the worship of God. Otherwise, all physical powers, all limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert. (From a Tablet of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—translated from the Persian, from Give me Thy Grace to Serve Thy Loved Ones, Compilation for the 2018 Counsellors’ Conference, [4])

This is a newly translated tablet and on first blush, it seems to be a wonderful reminder of the importance of faith, and the gifts we get when faith is kindled in our hearts and souls.  It begs the question, though, what happens to those who don’t have faith?  `Abdu’l-Bahá says all their “limbs and members would remain useless and futile and their actions would fade like a mirage in the desert.”  I wonder at the analogy seeming to fall short.

Is He saying that with faith, our speech and utterance have power; we are given insight, true vision and attentive hearing; we recognize God and worship Him with purity of heart but without faith, speech and utterance have no power, we don’t get insights or recognize God?

Knowing I have faith and being reminded of the gifts it bestows, 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


Help Keep This Site Alive


Letter to a Former Baha’i

By Lynn Starr

Dear Friend,

I see your sadness about withdrawing from the Baha’i Faith.  It seems like you gained something from wonderful friendships, prayers, teachings, songs, and that those still touch your heart in a positive way.  And yet, something drove you to remove yourself from the rolls of the Baha’i Faith.  I wonder if you became a Bahá’í because you found in it, ideals that were close to your heart?

It is not unusual for people to be drawn to the Faith because they see in it the fulfilment of the ideals which are dear to their hearts. (The Universal House of Justice, 1989 Jun 21, ‘Dialogue‘, ‘A Modest Proposal’ etc)

After listening to you talk, reading articles, and watching the videos on YouTube, all from disenfranchised Bahá’ís, I still do not fully understand what it was in the Faith that you no longer can affiliate with.  It seems to have something to do with things about the Faith you felt separated from.

It might be good to ask yourself whether it is Baha’u’llah and the Central Figures you felt separated from or whether it was your local community, the Baha’is you knew, or some other reason.

To deny that one is a Bahá’í while one still believes in Bahá’u’lláh is not withdrawal . . .  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 57-58)

Before you leave, there are some things I hope you’ll draw comfort from.  Focusing on deepening your understanding of the teachings could really help you see that your ideals are facets of the Purpose of God, which will help you endure all manner of suffering and frustration:

But, if a soul truly recognizes Bahá’u’lláh, and his understanding of the teachings deepens, he will gradually see how his own ideals are but facets in the all-embracing Purpose of God, and will be willing to endure all manner of suffering and frustration for the sake of the fulfilment of that divine Purpose. If, however, the believer allows his own ideals and purposes to retain their pre-eminence in his thinking, and he finds he cannot pursue them as he wishes, it may result in his leaving the Faith to pursue them in other ways. This is what would seem to have happened to the friends you speak of.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1989 Jun 21, ‘Dialogue‘, ‘A Modest Proposal’ etc)

Interestingly, in recent years, I have felt that I could not go along with whatever the purpose is in the Baha’i community/area where I reside.  So, I chose to stop attending local meetings or events, and get more understanding of who the Central Figures were, and to find positive and supportive experiences with Baha’is who were not in my community.  I ended up going  to Facebook and the internet to explore other Baha’i situations. Through these avenues I ended up finding there were Baha’is I could relate to where I did not feel separated from them.  The following quote comforted me.  Baha’u’llah himself withdrew from a toxic situation in His community where disunity prevailed.

Embarking on an action reminiscent of His solitary retirement to the mountains of Kurdistan when the unfaithful were shamefully destroying the Cause of God, Bahá’u’lláh, who at this time was residing in the house of Amru’llah, withdrew with His family to the nearby house of Rida Big which was rented by His order, and refused to associate with anybody. This was on 10 March 1866. The reason for this withdrawal, which fortunately was of short duration, was similar to that which had motivated Him to retire to Kurdistan a decade earlier: namely, to relieve the tension and alleviate the feelings of enmity which during the course of years had been engendered in the hearts of some by Mírzá Yahyá and were fanned into flame by his latest actions.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Child of the Covenant, p. 120)

What I have discovered is that many clusters in my state (California, United States) are going through a very scary process of deterioration.  I have been saying something about this for more years than I would like to admit!  Our cluster structure has fallen apart and it is hard to get the friends to volunteer for necessary services.  There are many possible reasons for what appears to be a process of deterioration in a Bahá’í community or geographical area.

Neglecting the education of new believers can lead to people leaving the Faith.  It might be valuable to compare what happened in your Bahá’í situation to what the Universal House of Justice describes in the following quote:

It is not enough to bring people into the Faith, one must educate them and deepen their love for it and their knowledge of its teachings, after they declare themselves. As the Bahá’ís are few in number, especially the active teachers, and there is a great deal of work to be done, the education of these new believers is often sadly neglected, and then results are seen such as the resignations you have had recently.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 567)

Perhaps you turned to other work than the Cause because you weren’t given the help, stimulation, teaching, opportunity to serve, or comradeship that you needed.

If some of these isolated and inactive people gradually turn to other work than the Cause we should not always blame them—they probably needed more help, more stimulating more teaching and Bahá’í comradeship that they received.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 84)

Perhaps you were no longer able to draw upon spiritual strength or vitality from the community or Faith, or stayed away for some other reason, as described below:

Many of those who drift away from the Cause do so for the reason that they had ceased to go on developing. They became complacent, or indifferent, and consequently ceased to draw the spiritual strength and vitality from the Cause which they should have.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 114)

Were you dealing with a problem that seemed to be too much to handle?  Could this mean that you did not pass a test that you were given?

Sometimes, of course, people fail because of a test they just do not meet.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

Or maybe you turned to an Assembly for assistance and didn’t find in them, the “loving parents” they were meant to be.  It’s possible that both of you are struggling with issues on the frontier of your spiritual growth.  It is also possible that if you continue to work with the Assembly or other Institutions to resolve this painful situation, both you and the Assembly could experience tremendous development.  In the compilation, Issues Concerning Community Functioning,  there are several approaches outlined for dealing with malfunctioning Assemblies or other institutions.  Trying these approaches could lead to a surprisingly good outcome.  I have encountered situations where I strongly disagreed with an Assembly decision, that I took it to another Institution, and we all worked together to resolve the matter.  In the process, we all grew from the experience!

As you know, there can be many reasons for Assemblies not to respond to the believers. Undoubtedly, in some cases, it is because the friends and the Assemblies are struggling with issues on the frontier of their spiritual growth. Such a process can lead to tremendous development on both the individual and the collective levels. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 25 October, 1994)

Helping build the Kingdom of God on earth is definitely not easy.  However, when you realize that something wonderful can happen when you participate  in communicating honestly and lovingly with the Institutions and the friends, you might actually feel joy in your accomplishment.

Taking part in this process should be a source of joy to us since we are, in effect, helping to build the kingdom of God on Earth. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 25 October, 1994)

This is definitely not an easy process.  It is hard to be patient when our concerns have something to do with a subject that is very close to our hearts, and when progress seems to be lagging or to have ceased.  However, patience is a tool that can yield positive results.  Patience does not mean ignoring a problem.  It can mean knowing when to take action and when to give others the right amount of time to process new information.

Nevertheless, patience is needed, particularly when it involves a subject that is close to our hearts, and when it seems that progress on the matter is lagging or has ceased entirely. (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 25 October, 1994)

One thing that has worked for me at times like this is to look to the Writings for comfort, for ideas, for examples to follow, and for encouragement:

We must maintain our confidence that the divinely ordained administrative system given to us by Bahá’u’lláh, and the inspiration of the Creative Word, will enable us to rise to these challenges.  (Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 25 October, 1994)

Also, if you are sick in my area, you will not get helped out by a supportive community and that has been a very heart-breaking thing. I don’t think this is done out of cruelty or malevolence, but the results can feel cruel.  It seems like many of the Friends haven’t yet learned how to either give or draw on each other’s strength and consolation in times of need:

Indeed the believers have not yet fully learned to draw on each other’s love for strength and consolation in time of need. The Cause of God is endowed with tremendous powers, and the reason the believers do not gain more from it is because they have not learned to draw fully on these mighty forces of love and strength and harmony generated by the Faith.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 93)

In many cases, though, the cause is backbiting, which is not only divisive, but is the leading cause of all withdrawals from the Faith.  I remember that as a young Baha’I, I had a dear friend who would say she was “analysing the situation” when she was really backbiting against someone.  At the time, I did not know that this was backbiting.  The community members ended up becoming angry with one another, and factions even formed among the Friends.  I was so upset that I stayed away from community events for several months.  I then had an opportunity to leave that area, which I did.  Subsequently, I began to suspect that backbiting had occurred. Consequently, I spent a lot of time deepening on the subject.  I looked to the Writings to find the definition of backbiting and to learn what sorts of behaviours could be construed as backbiting. I still cry to this day about some of the sad things that could have been prevented had I known better. The following quote gives an excellent description of what happens when backbiting occurs:

If any soul speak ill of an absent one, the only result will clearly be this: he will dampen the zeal of the friends and tend to make them indifferent. For backbiting is divisive, it is the leading cause among the friends of a disposition to withdraw.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections From The Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 230-231)

The Baha’is, like many others in our society face difficulties just living and working in a crazy world and I think this overwhelms most of us.  It can be hard to know what the right thing to do is. We might think we are doing the right thing, only to discover later that it was not in keeping with what Baha’is are supposed to do.  According to Shoghi Effendi:

Generally speaking nine-tenths of the friends’ troubles are because they don’t do the Bahá’í thing, in relation to each other, to the administrative bodies or in their personal lives.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 114)

When a community is not drawn together when everyone is going through difficult life challenges, it becomes hard to maintain one’s Faith.  When people say and do hurtful things, or don’t act sympathetically when someone is hurting, it can be extremely upsetting.  Perhaps we might not realize that the people involved have not reached a point of maturity to act differently.  Such problems can interfere with teaching, harmonious relationships, and can cause the Friends to discourage one another:

One of the greatest problems in the Cause is the relation of the believers to each other; for their immaturity (shared with the rest of humanity) and imperfections retard the work, create complications, and discourage each other. (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 449)

In order to deal with such difficult and even heart-wrenching situations, a forgiving and loving attitude are needed.  That does not mean that we should allow unfair or unkind situations to continue indefinitely.  At a certain point, taking administrative action may be called for.  However, this should be done with love, kindness, compassion and a desire for all the Friends to come away from the situation feeling like they are loved and have been treated fairly.

And yet we must put up with these things and try and combat them through love, patience and forgiveness individually, and proper administrative action collectively.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 449)

Enduring the intolerance of others can be very painful.  However, if we continue to strive for loving interchanges with others, such efforts are not wasted, for as Shoghi Effendi points out:

The energy we expend in enduring the intolerance of some individuals of our community is not lost. It is transformed into fortitude, steadfastness and magnanimity.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 603)

I have read things by Shoghi Effendi that remind me that the Baha’is are not perfect, and that they can be a test and trial, but that the Faith and its Manifestations of God, and their writings are the real thing, inspiring, move a person’s heart, and change their behavior for the better. Dealing with interpersonal difficulties in a community or other problems that may crop up can be very frustrating.  A lot of patience is needed while a remedy for the problems is being sought.  When we are patient and kind to one another, we have a better chance of resolving our difficulties.  This creates the opportunity for everyone to learn and grow, which will contribute to the growth of the entire community.  As Shoghi Effendi has stated:

The friends must be patient with each other and must realize that the Cause is still in its infancy and its institutions are not yet functioning perfectly. The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá’í community at large.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 9)

There are times when the actions of others really test our patience and understanding.  By learning how to love the people that bother us the most, we can help mend broken hearts and relationships.  In Baha’u’llah and the New Era (Bahá’í Publishing Trust), 1980, p. 82-83, ‘Abdu’l-Baha has spoken to how we can remedy such a situation by being loving:

  • To be silent concerning the faults of others, to pray for them, and to help them, through kindness, to correct their faults.
  • To look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, to look at the ten and forget the one; and if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, to look at the one and forget the ten.
  • Never to allow ourselves to speak one unkind word about another, even though that other be our enemy.

At the same time, I put up with a lot of malfunctioning communities and people because I thought I had to or I would be a bad Baha’i; I think differently now.  I don’t plan to lose any more years of my life being unhappy or afraid to say what is on my mind.  Although I believe in being kind and careful in articulating my feelings, opinions and what I agree and disagree with, I do not think it is healthy for me to hold such information inside, and I refuse to do so from here on out.

I am planning to write some hard-hitting letters to all the Institutions about this, because many good people have left a Faith that I believe is a wonderful thing, because they could no longer be part of a community where they did not believe in “doing” what was being done or not being done in the spheres of Baha’i activity that they were involved in.

I am doing this because I believe it is the right thing to do, as per the quote from Shoghi Effendi in Issues Concerning Community Functioning 1.2.1 Individual Example:

Shoghi Effendi, in a letter dated 30 September 1949 written on his behalf to an individual believer, states that “the first and best way” to remedy the malfunctioning of a Bahá’í community is for the individual to “do what is right”.

I’m also doing this because Shoghi Effendi has told us:

And yet we must . . . try and combat them through . . . proper administrative action collectively.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá’í Community, p. 449)

Furthermore, the House of Justice has said we have the right to take doubts and concerns to the Counsellors:

When you have doubts and concerns about your own plans, confide in the Counsellors; when something they do causes you worry, talk to them in the proper spirit of Bahá’í consultation. Remember that they, like yourselves, are burdened with the work of the Cause and are beset with many concerns in its service, and they need your sympathetic understanding of the challenges they face. Open your hearts and your minds to them; regard them as your confidants, your loving friends. And be ever ready to extend to them your hand in support.  (The Universal House of Justice, 1994 May 19, response to US NSA)

One Auxiliary Board Member I have shared with expressed concerns about a “congregational attitude” that exists with many Baha’is in North America.  They kind of go along with the crowd and don’t think “out of the box.”  This sort of attitude has been a real turn off to both my husband and me, as well as a few other people that I know.

Learning what “universal participation” means in a Faith that has no clergy is new for all of us.  It involves learning to love, a hard skill to acquire when so many of us have grown up in a world riddled with violence and abuse:

The real secret of universal participation lies in the Master’s oft expressed wish that the friends should love each other, constantly encourage each other, work together, be as one soul in one body, and in so doing become a true, organic, healthy body animated and illumined by the spirit.  (Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 43)

Until now, I have not known how to talk about this in a manner which I think is not angry or pointing any fingers at anybody.  And yet, people who are fine people, who have left the Faith for what apparently are very good reasons, pull at my heartstrings.  After all, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, himself, said that it was better to have no religion than to have one where hypocrisy reigned, where service to others was not the main focus, or where unfair and unkind things were done to people often enough to be of concern.

Abdu’l-Bahá says: ‘If religion be the cause of disunity, then irreligion is surely to be preferred.’  (Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 202)

I think that situations in many communities have reached this unhappy state of existence.  However, the videos, Frontiers of Learning, people I have met at the Wilmette Institute, BNASSA, and books like Helping Joe Strong and the like, have shown me that there are good Bahá’í communities and clusters out there, where the Faith is influencing people in positive ways and where the friends are united and happy.

I hope you believe me when I say that I have respect and empathy for you and can’t begin imagine how hard it was to sort out what the right thing for you to do was.  If you want to talk with me about anything I have said in this post, I would be more than happy to do so.  Contact me through this website and I promise to respond!

With prayers and loving greetings,

Lynn Starr

Overcoming Fear with Faith

What is faith?

Ruhiyyih Khanum describes it this way:


by Amatu’l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum

To walk where there is no path
To breathe where there is no air
To see where there is not light-
This is Faith.

To cry out in the silence,
The silence of the night,
And hearing no echo believe
And believe again and again-
This is Faith.

To hold pebbles and see jewels
To raise sticks and see forests
To smile with weeping eyes-
This is Faith.

To say: “God, I believe” when others deny,
“I hear” when there is no answer,
“I see” though naught is seen-
This is Faith.

And the fierce love in the heart,
The savage love that cries
Hidden Thou art yet there !
Veil Thy face and mute Thy tongue
yet I see and hear Thee, Love,
Beat me down to the bare earth,
Yet I rise and love Thee, Love !”
This is Faith.


Faith and fear are both belief systems.  You have to choose which one you’re going to follow.  You cannot defeat fear without faith.

God wants us to have faith in Him in all things. Nothing is more important.

No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through will come out as Bahá’u’lláh has promised.   (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

The words of God will defeat fear (which is the work of our lower nature) and give us faith in God’s plan for us. Faith is one of God’s attributes, which He’s already bestowed on us.

Faith is walking with God as far as we know how to walk and then taking the next step into the black oblivion, and then keep on walking. We don’t know what’s next so we keep on going because He tells us:

As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 504)

All healing comes from the Word of God but we just can’t acquire faith simply by reading the Word of God.

We have to trust the One who wrote it
We have to trust His words
We have to act on them.

This is an important three-part process.

When I first became a Baha’i, I somehow managed to accomplish the first two but ever since then I’ve been picking and choosing which Writings to act on: the easy ones. I was like a child stuffing myself with candy and relishing every mouthful so I didn’t have room for the whole meal.

Our hopes are what motivate us, because that is what faith is.  We hope to be freed from anxiety, we accept Baha’u’llah’s authority, we immerse ourselves in His words and then we act on them in faith.  The process draws us closer to God, because nowhere else will you find this approach to healing anxiety.  You have to try it in faith, trusting God’s authority.


Fear produces an emotion and feeling that we think is real but they are just emanations of our lower nature.  We could also call them veils between us and God, or sin.

God gave us emotions to enhance our lives.  The emotion of fear was intended to alert us to real danger so our bodies can activate the fight or flight response.  When a person panics, their cerebral cortex sends signals to the hypothalamus gland—the brain of the endocrine system. It in turn sends out impulses and chemicals that make the body respond with a faster heartbeat, slower metabolism, an adrenaline rush, dry mouth, shaking knees, etc. This “fight or flight” reaction normally lasts only a few minutes. However, when a person is in bondage to fear, when stress and anxiety are a way of life, their body is going to stay stuck in this reaction.

Many of us live lives ruled by another kind of fear that comes from an imagined enemy, and this was not given to us by God.  This fear is not the fight or flight God created us with but an aberration.  It does not warn us or protect us, but instead brings about our destruction because we put our faith in the wrong thing.  We weren’t wired to remain in constant “fight or flight,” and many serious illnesses are the result of the body being on constant high alert.

Faith and fear are both belief systems starting in our imagination.  Both project into the future and both demand to be fulfilled.  If we’re going to use it to imagine the worst, why not use it to imagine the best?

You have no guarantee that the object of your faith will ever happen or that the object of your fear will ever happen. We’re giving more faith to what we fear than what we should believe in (that God has a plan and His plan is better for us than anything we could conceive).

Imagination is the link between fear and faith.  One comes from God and the other comes from the imagination of a darkened soul:

Knowledge is divided into two kinds: – divine knowledge and satanic knowledge. One appears from the inspiration of the Ideal King; the other emanates from the imaginations of darkened souls. (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 23)

Fear and anxiety always project into the future, and they focus on something specific, perhaps a person or thing in our environment.  It’s true that imagination is a quality of the soul, but ‘Abdu’l-Baha makes a distinction between idle fancies and vain imaginations – one has fruit and the other doesn’t.

But many things come to the mind of man which are like the waves of the sea of imaginations; they have no fruit, and no result comes from them.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 252)

Fear is not real, though.  It’s just our lower nature at work. Once you understand that and separate yourself from fear, your quality of life will greatly improve.

Baha’u’llah doesn’t want us to make fear our god:

O My brother! Forsake thine own desires, turn thy face unto thy Lord, and walk not in the footsteps of those who have taken their corrupt inclinations for their god, that perchance thou mayest find shelter in the heart of existence, beneath the redeeming shadow of Him Who traineth all names and attributes.  (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 48-49)

Take heed lest thou cling to the cord of idle fancy and withhold thyself from that which hath been ordained in the Kingdom of God, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 62)

God asks us to have faith in Him, and to fear Him and nothing else:

Fear ye God and follow not your idle fancies and corrupt imaginings, but rather follow Him Who is come unto you invested with undeniable knowledge and unshakeable certitude.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 61)

When we don’t, we’re guilty of sin.

Fear is a lack of trust in God.  It makes us sinners because God told us not to fear.  If he tells us not to have fear and we do, it’s a sin, even though we might not want to think of it that way.

How do the Writings link sin and fear?  

Wash away, then, my sins, O my God, by Thy grace and bounty, and reckon me among such as are not overtaken by fear nor put to grief.  Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 212)

Before the throne of Thy oneness, amid the blaze of the beauty of Thy countenance, cause me to abide, for fear and trembling have violently crushed me. Beneath the ocean of Thy forgiveness, faced with the restlessness of the leviathan of glory, immerse me, for my sins have utterly doomed me.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 234)

God wants us to quaff from His teachings and not from the god of our idle fancies and vain imaginations:

Cleanse them, then, O my God, from all idle fancies and vain imaginations, that they may inhale the fragrances of sanctity from the robe of Thy Revelation and Thy commandment.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 307)

He wants us to secure His good pleasure, but we can’t do it if we have faith in the wrong thing:

The object of thy belief in God is but to secure His good-pleasure. How then dost thou seek as a proof of thy faith a thing which hath been and is contrary to His good-pleasure?  (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 122)

It’s important that we understand that choosing to hold on to fear is sin.  ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us that loss of faith is blameworthy because the soul is then overwhelmed by desires and passions, and man will become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible.

The differences among mankind are of two sorts: one is a difference of station, and this difference is not blameworthy. The other is a difference of faith and assurance; the loss of these is blameworthy, for then the soul is overwhelmed by his desires and passions, which deprive him of these blessings and prevent him from feeling the power of attraction of the love of God. Though that man is praiseworthy and acceptable in his station, yet as he is deprived of the perfections of that degree, he will become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 130)

Nonetheless, most of us seem to learn by doing, and learn from our mistakes, and in this God is reassuring.  He tell us we are all sinners, so we shouldn’t be afraid of the word, or the label.  It’s just the reality of our life and everyone else’s too.

We are all sinners, and Thou art the Forgiver of sins, the Merciful, the Compassionate.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 176)

In the Tablet of Ahmad, it says “the wisdom of every command shall be tested” so how can we test the wisdom of God’s command if we don’t sin (make mistakes, fall short)?

Since the purpose of our lives is to know and love God, everything that happens to us is uniquely designed to bring us to this place.  We sin and feel the consequences so that we can recognize it, turn to God and ask His forgiveness.  This is where faith comes in.

Without faith, we’re bereft of all powers and blessings:

And now I give you a command­ment that shall be for a covenant between you and me – that ye have faith; that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no earthly storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end . . . As ye have faith so shall your powers and bless­ings be. This is the balance – this is the balance – this is the balance.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Readings, p. 313)

What you fear is headed your way because it’s a form of faith, but it’s not God’s faith.  It’s the faith in our lower nature and it has the power to overthrow God’s faith in our lives.

Fear is a lack of trust, and it says:

“God, you need help.  You’re not doing things fast enough.  You’re not answering the way I need you to answer.  I wonder if you’re going to answer at all?”

We may not be saying this in words but that’s what’s happening inside.

Fear is a form of insanity because it reminds you of what you are not; of what you don’t have and of all the things in your life that you did wrong or failed to do.  These thoughts get onto a hamster wheel that goes round and round, tormenting you for years!

Peace comes from God; fear comes from not believing God’s word and trusting it.  We don’t have to be afraid.  God loves us.  He brought us to whatever is in front of us today, and He will bring us through it.  He promises that victory always follows crisis.

[Life] brings each one of us crises as well as victories. Our own lives and even the lives of the central Figures of the Faith have been fraught with agony as well as blessing, with failure and frustration and grief, as frequently as with progress. This is the nature of life.  (Universal House of Justice, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)

It may take years and needs lots of patience.  It’s important for us to see the end in the beginning, so we can hold on to our faith.

Look ye not upon the present, fix your gaze upon the times to come.  In the beginning, how small is the seed, yet in the end it is a mighty tree.  Look ye not upon the seed, look ye upon the tree, and its blossoms and its leaves and its fruits.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections, 40.3, p. 87)

If Fear is a form of faith and you believe what Fear says and not what God says, then according to your Fear-faith so be it unto you.  Both are demanding to be fulfilled.

Yesterday’s projected fear is here today. Today I have blessings and troubles from yesterday’s beliefs. What I’m feeling today is being projected onto tomorrow could be fulfilled.

Man must not imagine disease but must ever trust God. Anyway, a man’s life here in this world is temporary. He is in a world that is like a house, susceptible to every invasion, and God must protect man—man must be submissive to God. He must not occupy himself with things—imaginings. If a man thinks too much of his health, he will become afflicted.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Throne of the Inner Temple, p 22)

Is this truly what you want to have faith for?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggests it’s wise to avoid this kind of “fate”.

But conditional fate may be likened to this: while there is still oil, a violent wind blows on the lamp, which extinguishes it. This is a conditional fate. It is wise to avoid it, to protect oneself from it, to be cautious and circumspect.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p.244)

How then do we acquire faith?  In the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, Adib Taherzideh gives us some clues.

To achieve this exalted goal man needs to recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and then observe His commandments with clear vision, mature reflection and a prayerful attitude. This can be achieved through deepening one’s knowledge of the Faith and in serving His Cause. It is then that the heart will become the recipient of the knowledge of God, and will attain certitude in its faith. It is then that obedience to the teachings of the Faith becomes wholehearted, as the individual grasps the significance of God’s commandments, and comes to understand their wisdom, their excellence and their necessity. It is then that his thoughts, his vision, his aspirations, his words, and his deeds will all be in harmony with the Covenant of God. And it is then that his soul will acquire spiritual qualities and virtues. This is the ultimate outcome of obedience to the Covenant, which will enable the soul to progress in the spiritual worlds of God.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, p. 28)

To acquire faith man must cast out the ‘stranger’ from his heart. To the extent that he succeeds in doing this, he will acquire faith. Once the spark of faith is ignited within the heart it must be allowed to grow steadily into a flame, otherwise it could die because of attachment to this world.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 217-218)

Faith comes to a man through submission to God. The surrendering of the self with all its accomplishments renders the soul free of attachment to this mortal world. It drives the ‘stranger’ away from the heart and enables him to receive the ‘Friend’ within its sanctuary. Bahá’u’lláh states:  O Son of Man!  Humble thyself before Me, that I may graciously visit thee… In another passage He reveals:  O Son of Man!  If thou lovest Me, turn away from thyself; and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own; that thou mayest die in Me and I may eternally live in thee.  (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 220)

To sum up these quotes, we need to:

  • recognize the station of Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age
  • observe His commandments with clear vision, mature reflection and a prayerful attitude.
  • deepen one’s knowledge of the Faith
  • serve His Cause.
  • cast out the ‘stranger’ from his heart.
  • allow the spark of faith to grow steadily into a flame
  • submission to God
  • surrendering of the self with all its accomplishments

It’s possible to have fear disguised as faith.

Have you ever heard a voice that sounds like it’s coming from God because it comes from the Writings? Be careful, because it could be your lower nature trying to trick you!  It’s a kind of fear-based faith; a counterfeit faith. It’s dangerous because it doesn’t come out of real believing, but out of a fear need.

For example: I suffer from the addiction of perfectionism.  My life so far has been so full of misery that I want to do everything in my power to ensure that the next life is better than this one.  Much of what I’ve done in the past to follow every single law and injunction has been for the wrong reasons.  It’s come out of fear of God’s punishment; that if I don’t do it all and do it right, I will be making the next world just as bad, or worse than this one.  As you can imagine, this hasn’t been much fun!

For years I was listening to the wrong Writings and using them to beat myself up, in the name of “calling myself to account”.  The abuse I was perpetrating on myself was far worse than anything anyone else had ever done to me!

The messages that I heard were that it was important to get off of disability and “earn my livelihood by my calling”, otherwise my life would “not bring forth fruit” and therefore only be “fit for the fire”.

Can you see how punitive this voice was?  Even though these quotes can all be found in the Writings, I was taking the wrong “remedy” and wondering why I was getting sicker.

One way to know if a voice is coming from your lower nature or from God is to ask yourself whether it’s loving or condemning.  God’s voice is always loving.  The voices I was listening to were definitely condemning!

I now know that God has another plan for me. Now I trust that my job is to be of service and His job is to look after the money.  I’m a lot less stressed, knowing He’s forgiven me and in His mercy, He’s kept me out of a workforce I’m not equipped to handle.

Here’s another example:

Fear took me all over North America looking for healing, in the name of faith. I was praying for healing and it wasn’t happening the way I thought it should, so I went from healer to healer trying to find the right one for me. It says in the Baha’i Writings that we are to find the best healer even if we have to go to another city to find one so at one point I even went to Hawaii to work with a Baha’i healer there.  I believed that God was being faithful to his word, because suddenly the money appeared so I could go. That’s what fear was doing to me.  I wanted to get healed but I didn’t know that my need was driven by fear. If you’d told me I would’ve denied it.  This was not God’s will at all, since I was putting my faith in the healer and not in the “Divine Physician” and His “Divine Remedy.”  By sharing these teachings with you, I hope you’ll know where and how to look for and apply the right “remedy” for your anxiety!


Every time we turn from fear to faith, we can hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cheering us on:

Thy letter was like a perfumed nosegay and from that nosegay the fragrance of faith and assurance was inhaled. Well done! Well done! that thou hast turned thy face toward the invisible Kingdom. Excellent! Excellent that thou art attracted to the Beauty of His Highness the Almighty! Well done! Well done! How happy thou art that thou hast attained to this Most Great Gift!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 530)

For More in this Series:

What is Fear? 

What are we Afraid Of?

Reactions to Fear 

Fight, Flight or Freeze

Doubt and Fear  

What is the Purpose of Fear?

What about the Fear of God? 

What Makes us Susceptible to Fear?

Understanding the Link Between Fear and Sin 

Overcoming Fear – Introduction 

Overcoming Fear By Turning to God

Overcoming Fear with Prayer

Overcoming Fear By Reading the Writings

Overcoming Fear By Focusing on the Virtues 

Overcoming Fear Through Love

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

Overcoming Fear By Changing your Thoughts

Overcoming Fear through Forgiveness

Overcoming Fear through Using Role Models

Overcoming Fear through Tests and Difficulties

What Can Others Do, To Help Those Who Are Afraid?

 Prayers to Eliminate Fear


What stood out for you as you read this?  Post your comments here:


Finding Faith


As a follow up to the last blog posting, raising questions posed by some of my Baha’i-inspired life coaching clients, I’ve put together the following Q and A.

What is Faith?

The first sign of faith is love.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 337)

By faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 549)

The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 156)

Faith is the magnet which draws the confirmation of the Merciful One. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 62)

Faith does not consist in belief, it consists in deeds. It is not sufficient to believe in Bahá’o’llah and to say, “I am of the people of El-Abha”; we must act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’o’llah, who commands us to become centers of divine attraction, so that the attributes of God may emanate from us, that we may become wise and well intentioned to all the peoples of the earth in order to better the condition of all. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 41)

Regarding the “two wings” of the soul: These signify wings of ascent. One is the wing of knowledge, the other of faith, as this is the means of the ascent of the human soul to the lofty station of divine perfections. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’i World Faith, p. 382)

This spirit of faith is the flame of reality, the life of humanity and the cause of eternal illumination. It inspires man to attain the virtues and perfections of the divine world.  It is my hope that each one of you may become conscious of this flame. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 122)

There are three kinds of Faith: first, that which is from tradition and birth. For example: a child is born of Muhammadan parents, he is a Muhammadan.   This faith is weak traditional faith: second, that which comes from Knowledge, and is the faith of understanding. This is good, but there is a better, the faith of practice. This is real faith. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 64)

In future, of course, certain people will come to you claiming faith; do not believe them nor trust them, unless after critical examination, search and investigation, and a long period of waiting, they shall appear to be faithful and truthful in word, confident in heart, attracted in spirit, pure in intention, patient in hardship, enduring the most severe tests; then associate with them. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’i World Faith, p. 411)

Rúhiyyih Khánum

To walk where there is no path
To breathe where there is no air
To see where there is not light-
This is Faith.

To cry out in the silence,
The silence of the night,
And hearing no echo believe
And believe again and again-
This is Faith.

To hold pebbles and see jewels
To raise sticks and see forests
To smile with weeping eyes-
This is Faith.

To say: “God, I believe” when others deny,
“I hear” when there is no answer,
“I see” though naught is seen-
This is Faith.

And the fierce love in the heart,
The savage love that cries
Hidden Thou art yet there !
Veil Thy face and mute Thy tongue
yet I see and hear Thee, Love,
Beat me down to the bare earth,
Yet I rise and love Thee, Love !”
This is Faith.

To hear 2 different versions of this poem put to music, visit:

Why is it important to have faith?

But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished  and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 208)

Shouldst thou remain firm and steadfast in faith, the desire of thy heart and soul will become realized, thou wilt find the utmost joy and wilt be assisted (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 669)

I say unto you that any one who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time shall be filled with the spirit of God, and that  He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be impossible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a Covenant between you and me: that ye have faith; that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms can move, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure through all things even to the end; even should ye hear that your Lord has been crucified, be not shaken in your faith; for I am with you always, whether living or dead; I am with you to the end. As ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be. This is the standard — this is the standard — this is the standard. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’i Scriptures, p. 503)

. . . there is no greater torture than being veiled from God, and no more severe punishment than sensual vices, dark qualities, lowness of nature, engrossment in carnal desires. When they are delivered through the light of faith from the darkness of these vices, and become illuminated with the radiance of the Sun of Reality, and ennobled with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest reward, and they know it to be the true paradise. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’i World Faith, p. 324)

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! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 108)

How do we acquire faith or help it grow?

How can one increase in faith?  You must strive.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 64)
. . . love strengthened the disciples when their faith was failing. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Abdu’l-Bahá in London, p. 88)

The second Tajalli is to remain steadfast in the Cause of God — exalted be His glory — and to be unswerving in His love. And this can in no wise be attained except through full recognition of Him; and full recognition cannot be obtained save by faith in the blessed words: ‘He doeth whatsoever He willeth.’ Whoso tenaciously cleaveth unto this sublime word and drinketh deep from the living waters of utterance which are inherent therein, will be imbued with such a constancy that all the books of the world will be powerless to deter him from the Mother Book. O how glorious is this sublime station, this exalted rank, this ultimate purpose!  (Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 51)

As affirmed by the Centre of the Covenant, Huquq offerings constitute a test for the believers and enable the friends to become firm and steadfast in faith and certitude.  (Huqúqu’lláh, quote 100)

Whosoever and whatsoever meeting becometh a hindrance to the diffusion of the Light of Faith, let the loved ones give them counsel and say: “Of all the gifts of God the greatest is the gift of Teaching. It draweth unto us the Grace of God and is our first obligation. Of such a gift how can we deprive ourselves? Nay, our lives, our goods, our comforts, our rest, we offer them all as a sacrifice for the Abhá Beauty and teach the Cause of God.”  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’i World Faith, p. 448)

The beloved of the Lord must stand fixed as the mountains, firm as impregnable walls. Unmoved must they remain by even the direst adversities, ungrieved by the worst of disasters. Let them cling to the hem of Almighty  God, and put their faith in the Beauty of the Most High; let them lean on the unfailing help that cometh from the Ancient Kingdom, and depend on the care and protection of the generous Lord. Let them at all times refresh and restore themselves with the dews of heavenly grace, and with the breaths of the Holy Spirit revive and renew themselves from moment to moment. Let them rise up to serve their Lord, and do all in their power to scatter His breathings of holiness far and wide.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 9)

Do not allow your minds to dwell on the present, but with eyes of faith look into the future, for in truth the Spirit of God is working in your midst.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 169)

Thank God for that He enlightened your faces by the light of guidance, deposited in your hearts the sign of faith, and made you of the chosen ones in this new century.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 70)

Having received such favour be thankful unto God, and never doubt His Goodness and Loving Kindness but have undying faith in the Bounties of the Kingdom.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 170)

If any test fall upon thee, it will be conducive to the strength of thy faith.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 552)

Faith in God, and the knowledge of Him cannot be fully realized except through believing in all that hath proceeded from Him, and by practising all that He hath commanded and all that is revealed in the Book from the Supreme Pen.  (Bahá’i Scriptures, p. 153)

Meekness and humility are the hallmarks of faith. As soon as a  believer feels himself the least degree superior to others, the beginning of his spiritual decline has set in, all unaware to himself.  (Bahá’i Scriptures, p. 449)

The quintessence of this chapter is that travellers in the path of faith and seekers for the cup of assurance must sanctify and purify themselves from all material things; that is, the ear from hearing statements, the heart from doubts which pertain to the veils of glory, the soul from dependence upon worldly belongings, the eye from contemplating mere transitory words.  (Bahá’i Scriptures, p. 3)

Why don’t we always feel faith?

I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in Me. The sword of thy rebellion hath felled the tree of thy hope. At all times I am near unto thee, but thou art ever far from Me. Imperishable glory I have chosen for thee, yet boundless shame thou hast chosen for thyself. While there is yet time, return, and lose not thy chance.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Persian 21)

What happens when we don’t have faith?

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? . . . 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-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 108)

How do people lose their faith?

How many a soul hath turned itself unto the Lord and entered into the protective shadow of His Word, and become famed throughout the world — for example, Judas Iscariot. And then, when the tests grew harsh and the violence thereof intensified, their feet slipped on the pathway and they turned backward from the Faith after having acknowledged its truth, and they denied it, and fell away from harmony and love into mischief and hate. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 162)

It is not unusual for people to be drawn to the Faith because they see in it the fulfilment of the ideals which are dear to their hearts. But, if a soul truly recognizes Bahá’u’lláh, and his understanding of the teachings deepens, he will gradually see how his own ideals are but facets in the all-embracing Purpose of God, and will be willing to endure all manner of suffering and frustration for the sake of the fulfilment of that divine Purpose. If, however, the believer allows his own ideals and purposes to retain their pre-eminence in his thinking, and he finds he cannot pursue them as he wishes, it may result in his leaving the Faith to pursue them in other ways. This is what would seem to have happened to the friends you speak of.  (From a letter on behalf of the Universal House of Justice,21 Jun 1989)

In large part, therefore, loss of faith in traditional religion has been an inevitable consequence of failure to discover in it the guidance required to live with modernity, successfully and with assurance.  (Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith, para 19)

What can we hold on to, when our tests are so great, that we lose hope?

O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 329)

Are there role models we can follow?

Her life was full of events, full of sacrifices in the path of God. Ever since her childhood she had to endure hardships and share the exile and persecution that Bahá’u’lláh had to suffer. In her face one could easily read the history of the Cause from its earliest days to the present moment.  Notwithstanding all this she never grumbled nor lost her faith in the future. She kept cheerful and tried to give cheer to others. She was a real source of inspiration to every person that met her.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, p. 89)

May her glorious spirit inspire us with faith and hope, steel our energies and enable us to make every sacrifice in the path lighted by her saintly and eventful life.  (Bahiyyih Khánum, p. 69)

May the memory of her saintly life inspire you with faith and hope, cheer and strengthen your heart and make of you a servant worthy to promote and consolidate the interests of the Faith!  (Bahiyyih Khánum, p. 71)

To begin with, they were far from home, surrounded and cut off by the foe; again, they were starving; and then there were the army’s sudden onslaughts and the bombshells raining down and bursting in the heart of the Fort. Under such circumstances to maintain an unwavering faith and patience is extremely difficult, and to endure such dire afflictions a rare phenomenon.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 7)

What prayers can I say to help it grow?

Verily, I beseech the Lord of Hosts to increase thy faith each day over that of the previous day, to confirm thee through His Holy Spirit, to give thee capacity to partake of the lights of knowledge and wisdom, to make thee a herald of the Covenant in those regions, and to instruct thee in that which thou knowest not (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 166)

I beg of God that He may increase joy and fragrance in thy spirit, give thee power and strength, and that He may help thee at every moment in faith and assurance. Verily my Lord is powerful in all things!  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 219)
O Lord my God! Assist Thy loved ones to be firm in Thy Faith, to walk in Thy ways, to be steadfast in Thy Cause. Give them Thy grace to withstand the onslaught of self and passion, to follow the light of divine guidance. Thou art the Powerful, the Gracious, the Self-Subsisting, the Bestower, the Compassionate, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Bahá’i Prayers, p. 165)

What are your experiences with faith?  Post your comments here:

Losing Faith

What is Faith?

The first sign of faith is love.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 337).

But how does one love?

Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.  (Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Arabic 5)

But how do we know that God is even there so we can love him, if we are sick, alone, estranged from our family, bankrupt, homeless and we’ve just been raped?


But if we haven’t ever felt loved from our families; if we’ve grown up neglected and abused and have no foundation of loving parents, how can we possibly believe in a loving God?


But what if all of these calamites have happened AFTER we’ve recognized Bahá’u’lláh and done all the right things – pioneered, participated in the core activities, donated to the fund, paid our Huqúq, prayed and mediated every day and still we are marginized from the society around us, and even worse, from the indifference of the Bahá’í community around us – raped, alone, abandoned, homeless, unemployed, bankrupt, sick, estranged from our families . . .

How do we have faith when there is no love?  When we feel abandoned by God, or worse, maybe cursed or punished?  But for what crime?

These are questions that several of my life coaching clients have been wrestling with this week.

What are your thoughts?  Post your comments here: