The barking of dogs is loud on every side . . . Where are the swords of Thy vengeance, O Destroyer of the worlds? (Baha’u’llah, Fire Tablet, Baha’i Prayers, p. 213)
Since the war in Ukraine started, I have been absolutely terrified that World War 3 is about to start, and compulsively checking the news for evidence that the “red phones” have been picked up. I spend hours a day, lost in phone games, totally dissociated. Very little is getting done, especially during the Fast.
Of course, most of us are upset by the war, but a quick poll of my friends leads me to believe that no one shares my paranoia, so I have to accept that something from the past is coming up to be healed. Fortunately, this week’s homework in my survivors of incest group, is to process a trigger, and I decided to use this one. I realized 3 things:
- Because of all the abuse I was going through, I wasn’t safe in my family.
- Because there were 3 bomb threats at school one winter, I wasn’t safe at school.
- Because of the Cuban missile crisis when I was 5 years old, when the USSR put medium to intermediate nuclear missiles in Cuba and the standoff between the USA and USSR came closest the world has ever come to nuclear conflict, and because there was a bomb shelter in the basement of my middle-class suburban western Canadian home, fully stocked with food and water for 2 years so we could survive a “nuclear winter”, the world wasn’t safe either.
All of this is in my face as I relive the terror of those years. It doesn’t help to be a Bahá’í, knowing that the world has to be brought to its knees before it will turn to Bahá’u’lláh, and much though I long for the Most Great Peace, I don’t long for the calamities that will bring us through. It also doesn’t help to know that one of the names of God is the Destroyer of the Worlds. So what does help? This quote gives some clues:
I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 28-30)
It takes discipline to change my thoughts of war to stronger thoughts of peace, but knowing that it will bring me happiness, I am grateful!
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As you know from your study of the Bahá’í writings, the principle that is to infuse all facets of organized life on the planet is the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity. That humanity constitutes a single people is a truth that, once viewed with scepticism, claims widespread acceptance today. The rejection of deeply ingrained prejudices and a growing sense of world citizenship are among the signs of this heightened awareness. Yet, however promising the rise in collective consciousness may be, it should be seen as only the first step of a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold. (Universal House of Justice, To the Bahá’ís of Iran, 2 March 2013)
This morning Russia invaded the Ukraine. We’ve been anticipating it for weeks. I was appalled by a headline in the local news media: “Why the West cares about the situation in Russia-Ukraine”.
Why do we care??!!!???
Because they are our brothers and sisters. Isn’t that enough?
I didn’t read the article and I’m not going to comment on the substance here, because my intention is not to get into politics, but into compassion and empathy.
My heart is hurting for the Ukrainian people. The terror they must be feeling is bringing up the terror I lived through as a child. I’m not there, so I don’t know and yet I grieve. Maybe that makes me a codependent, or maybe it makes me a Bahá’í. I don’t know.
What I do know, and believe deeply, is that we are all one, and it seems so self-evident. I don’t know why the world hasn’t understood it yet. This quote gives me a clue. Recognition of the oneness of humanity requires the age of maturity before we see widespread acceptance, and humanity is still in the age of adolescence.
More troubling, though, is understanding that it requires a process that will take decades–nay, centuries–to unfold. I have to let go of my impatience, and keep teaching, and keep doing the things we’re being asked to do by the House of Justice, trusting that we’re laying the groundwork that will lead to the Most Great Peace, and let go of my disappointment that I won’t see it in my lifetime.
Understanding that recognition of the oneness of humanity will take centuries to unfold, I can let go of my impatience and trust God with the process, and I am grateful!
What jumped out for you when you read this passage? Please share your thoughts below.
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From Gayle Hoover in Washington State
African Traditional Religions
One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts. (Yoruba Proverb – Nigeria)
And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself. (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 30)
Hurt not others with that which pains yourself. (Udana-Varga)
The Ariyan disciple thus reflects, Here am I, fond of my life, not wanting to die, fond of pleasure and averse from pain. Suppose someone should rob me of my life… it would not be a thing pleasing and delightful to me. If I, in my turn, should rob of his life one fond of his life, not wanting to die, one fond of pleasure and averse from pain, it would not be a thing pleasing or delightful to him. For a state that is not pleasant or delightful to me must also be to him also; and a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another? As a result of such reflection he himself abstains from taking the life of creatures and he encourages others so to abstain, and speaks in praise of so abstaining. (Samyutta Nikaya v.353 Acarangasutra 5.101-2)
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Bible, Matthew 22.36-40)
Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire. (Analects, 15.24)
Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence. (Mencius VII.A.4)
This is the sum of duty: do naught to others which if done to thee would cause thee pain. (The Mahabharata)
One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva113.8)
A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. (Sutrakritanga 1.11.33)
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah; all the rest of it is commentary; go and learn. (Talmud, Shabbat 31a)
Muslim Faith (Islám)
Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself. (Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 13)
Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others. Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29
Refraining from doing what we blame in others. (Thales Diogenes Laertius, vol I, page 39)
Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others. (Isocrates 436-338 BCE)
An it harm none, do what thou wilt. (Wiccan Rede)
God wants us to be at peace:
His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh endured ordeals and hardships sixty years . . . He willingly endured these difficulties . . . [that] peace and tranquility be realized by all. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 230)
He teaches us what is needed to overcome disease:
Praise be to Him, ye are acquainted with the various laws, institutions and principles of the world; today nothing short of these divine teachings can assure peace and tranquillity to mankind. But for these teachings, this darkness shall never vanish, these chronic diseases shall never be healed; nay, they shall grow fiercer from day to day. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 249)
We’ve lost our peace by a lack of security and trust:
Today no state in the world is in a condition of peace or tranquillity, for security and trust have vanished from among the people. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 293)
We need the love of God:
Know thou, verily, Baha’ was the Sun of Love and Peace, who shone forth with the Light of Guidance and was a Spirit of Life to all regions. The signs of His effulgence shall appear when the love of God shall influence the hearts, just as the soul influenceth bodies. The clouds of darkness shall be dispelled from the manifest light of love and peace, and from the abundant bounty of reconciliation and tranquillity. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v1, p. 190)
And the love of each other:
May the light of love shine forth and illumine hearts, and may human lives be cemented and connected until all of us may find agreement and tranquility. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 115)
We need to turn to God:
It behoveth him who is a wayfarer in the path of God and a wanderer in His way to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on the earth. He must renounce all save God, that perchance the portals of mercy may be unlocked before his face and the breezes of providence may waft over him. And when he hath inscribed upon his soul that which We have vouchsafed unto him of the quintessence of inner meaning and explanation, he will fathom all the secrets of these allusions, and God shall bestow upon his heart a divine tranquillity and cause him to be of them that are at peace with themselves. In like manner wilt thou comprehend the meaning of all the ambiguous verses that have been sent down concerning the question thou didst ask of this Servant Who abideth upon the seat of abasement, Who walketh upon the earth as an exile with none to befriend, comfort, aid, or assist Him, Who hath placed His whole trust in God, and Who proclaimeth at all times: “Verily we are God’s, and to Him shall we return.” (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 25)
God’s purpose in sending His Prophets unto men is twofold. The first is to liberate the children of men from the darkness of ignorance, and guide them to the light of true understanding. The second is to ensure the peace and tranquillity of mankind, and provide all the means by which they can be established. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 79)
The plight of man today is similar to that of a gardener who toils and labours in vain because he has planted his seeds in fertile soil but in a dark pit far away from the rays of the sun. Man has turned his back on the Sun of Truth. Not until he recognizes Him and turns to Him will he find peace on this earth and tranquillity in his heart. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 2, p. 418)
And consider the messages of His prophets to be the Divine Remedy:
The Prophets of God should be regarded as physicians whose task is to foster the well-being of the world and its peoples, that, through the spirit of oneness, they may heal the sickness of a divided humanity. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 79)
So many times when we are sick, we rush to see a doctor, without considering first the spiritual implications of our disease.
To none is given the right to question their words [those of the Prophets of God] or disparage their conduct, for they are the only ones who can claim to have understood the patient and to have correctly diagnosed its ailments. No man, however acute his perception, can ever hope to reach the heights which the wisdom and understanding of the Divine Physician have attained. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 79)
Following anyone other than the messengers of God, won’t lead us to happiness:
A great many people embrace these cults which become fashionable for a time. But when the Novelty wears off or dissatisfaction sets in, or the movements become impotent and disintegrate, then they look for another saviour, another movement or another sect, and there are many to turn to throughout the world. And so the experiment to find peace and tranquillity in one’s life continues. But so far few have found happiness or peace of mind. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 4, p. 71)
We need religion:
Should the lamp of religion be obscured, chaos and confusion will ensue, and the lights of fairness and justice, of tranquillity and peace cease to shine. Unto this will bear witness every man of true understanding. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 125)
Religion is a manifest light and a strong fortress for the protection and tranquillity of the people of the world. For the fear of God commands people to do that which is just and forbids them that which is evil. If the lamp of Religion remain concealed agitation and anarchy would prevail, and the orb of justice and equity and the sun of peace and tranquillity would be withheld from giving light. Every man of discernment testifies to that which is mentioned. (Bahá’u’lláh, Baha’i World Faith, p. 198)
We need virtues:
The first, the fundamental purpose underlying creation hath ever been, and will continue to be, none other than the appearance of trustworthiness and godliness, of sincerity and goodwill amongst mankind, for these qualities are the cause of peace, security and tranquillity. Blessed are those who possess such virtues. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 328)
We need trust that by becoming Bahá’í, God has already given us peace and tranquility:
These are they whose countenances God hath graciously turned away from the face of the unbelievers, and whom He hath sheltered beneath the shadow of the Tree of His own Being; they upon whose hearts He hath bestowed the gift of peace and tranquillity, and whom He hath strengthened and assisted through the hosts of the seen and the unseen. (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 10)
We need education:
“Bahá’u’lláh,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá affirmed, “after His return (from Sulaymaniyyih) made such strenuous efforts in educating and training this community, in reforming its manners, in regulating its affairs and in rehabilitating its fortunes, that in a short while all these troubles and mischiefs were quenched, and the utmost peace and tranquillity reigned in men’s hearts.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 133)
We need to study the sacred texts for clues, and trust that God has our best interests at heart:
We have exhorted them at length in various Tablets and beseech God to graciously assist them, to enable them to draw nigh unto Him and to confirm them in that which would bring peace to the hearts and tranquillity to the souls and would stay their hands from whatsoever ill-beseemeth His days. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 121)
We need righteousness and understanding:
The purpose underlying the revelation of every heavenly Book, nay, of every divinely-revealed verse, is to endue all men with righteousness and understanding, so that peace and tranquillity may be firmly established amongst them. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 205)
When met with opposition we are asked to:
Resist their fighting with peace and reconciliation, their blows with kindness and perfection and their blame with joy and tranquillity. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 285)
Pray for the hateful sinners . . . Beseech God to direct them to the Path of Salvation and breathe into them the Spirit of Life. (Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v2, p. 285)
By teaching others, we can ensure their peace and tranquility:
Consider what source of joy and gratification it should be to you to see people, who have been for years seeking for the truth and craving to obtain it, who look upon the prevailing conditions of the world with distress and earnestly pray for salvation, find through you the object of their quest and attain the peace, tranquillity and spiritual life which they have longed for. The accomplishment of the task and the resulting success will be an ample reward for all your strivings. (Shoghi Effendi, The Light of Divine Guidance v II, p. 21)
He . . . affirms that man will experience peace and tranquillity when he becomes the well-wisher of all that dwell on earth and exhorts the peoples to leave the darkness of enmity and enter the light of unity. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha’u’llah v 3, p. 270)
God knows what has happened to us, and has given us prayers we can say:
Thou knowest all that is in me, O Lord, but I know not what is in Thee. Have mercy then upon me through Thy loving providence and inspire me with that which shall give peace to my heart during Thy days and tranquillity to my soul through the revelations of Thy sacred presence. (Compilations, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)
All laud and honor to Thee, O my God! Thou well knowest the things which, for a score of years, have happened in Thy days, and have continued to happen until this hour. No man can reckon, nor can any tongue tell, what hath befallen Thy chosen ones during all this time. They could obtain no shelter, nor find any refuge in which they could abide in safety. Turn, then, O my God, their fear into the evidences of Thy peace and Thy security, and their abasement into the sovereignty of Thy glory, and their poverty into Thine all-sufficient riches, and their distress into the wonders of Thy perfect tranquillity. Vouchsafe unto them the fragrances of Thy might and Thy mercy, and send down upon them, out of Thy marvelous loving-kindness, what will enable them to dispense with all except Thee, and will detach them from aught save Thyself, that the sovereignty of Thy oneness may be revealed and the supremacy of Thy grace and Thy bounty demonstrated. (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 335)