Do not complain of others. Refrain from reprimanding them and if you wish to give admonition or advice let it be offered in such a way that it will not burden the hearer. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)
Whenever I’m angry it seems natural to nurse the hurt and complain about the injustice. That’s what society has taught me is normal, after all. That’s one thing I love about the Bahá’í Faith – it frequently turns everything I thought I knew around, 180 degrees. In another quote Bahá’u’lláh tells us:
For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)
This helps us to see why we aren’t to complain of others. We don’t want our hearts and souls to be devoured or the effects of our words to last a century.
Here’s an example from my own life: when I was very young, I heard my mother say (in a moment of anger and frustration towards life in general and my father particularly): “I wish she’d never been born.” This was a dagger to my heart. I put it on the hamster wheel inside my head, nursed it for over 60 years, used it to prove everything that happened to me, that I was unlovable. You can bet that affected my relationships in my marriage, and towards my son, family and friends, as all I knew was to push people away. It would have been much better if my mother could have been angry at my father, in private, about his behaviour towards me, and even then, it should have been couched in words as mild as milk, so it didn’t burden him either. They didn’t know any better, and I’ve forgiven them and the damage has been done and lasting and both things are true.
Knowing what to do when I’ve taken offence to something someone has said or done to me, 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 Letting Go of Criticizing Others