If the heart turns away from the blessings God offers how can it hope for happiness? If it does not put its hope and trust in God’s Mercy, where can it find rest? Oh, trust in God! for His Bounty is everlasting, and in His Blessings, for they are superb. Oh! put your faith in the Almighty, for He faileth not and His goodness endureth for ever! His Sun giveth Light continually, and the Clouds of His Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion with which He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him. His refreshing Breeze ever carries healing in its wings to the parched souls of men! Is it wise to turn away from such a loving Father, Who showers His blessings upon us, and to choose rather to be slaves of matter? (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 102-103)
This is another one of those life-changing quotes for me as I came to understand that if I wasn’t grateful for the blessings constantly streaming down for me from God right now, why would He send me any more? The more I live in gratitude, the more things I find to be grateful for, and the happier I become.
At a time when I was pretty depressed and couldn’t see any hope for a future in this world, I developed a habit of finding 5 things to be grateful for before getting out of bed in the morning; and 5 more before falling asleep at night. Some days were harder than others to find the bounties and blessings, but the more I persisted, the more often I found myself thanking God in the moment, during the day, as I caught them.
If you’re having trouble thinking of any, this quote has a few to get you started:
- God’s bounties are everlasting (meaning they last longer than any material thing we might think we absolutely have to have)
- His blessings are superb
- He never fails us
- His goodness endures forever
- His Sun gives Light continually
- The Clouds of God’s Mercy are full of the Waters of Compassion
- He waters the hearts of all who trust in Him
- His refreshing Breeze carries healing
Just reading that list makes me feel better! How about you?
Knowing I don’t have to be a slave to my doubt and negativity and can choose to look for God’s bounties and blessings which are everywhere, I am grateful!
What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation? I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!
If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith: Overcoming Anxiety
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At the same time those who show forth envies, jealousies, etc., toward a servant, are depriving themselves of their own stations, and not another of his, for they prove by their own acts that they are not only unworthy of being called to any station waiting them, but also prove that they cannot withstand the very first test – that of rejoicing over the success of their neighbour, at which God rejoices . . . Envy closes the door of Bounty, and jealousy prevents one from ever attaining to the Kingdom of Abhá. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 44)
First of all, I wanted to understand the difference between envy and jealousy as they are often paired in the Bahá’í Writings. It seems that we envy people when we want what they have and we’re jealous when we want to keep for ourselves what belongs exclusively to us. Envy involves 2 people – me and the person who has what I want and it is what feeds the “keeping up with the Jones’s”.
If someone is jealous, on the other hand, they feel angry or bitter because they think that another person is trying to take a lover, friend or possession away from them, so it involves 3 people. It’s often what feeds suspicions of infidelity. Both come out of a lack of trust towards yourself (to manage your affairs) or to your partner (to be loyal).
With that in mind, we can understand the quote better. The problem is that when we give in to envy and jealousy, we deprive ourselves of our own station, close the door of bounty and prevent ourselves from ever attaining the Kingdom of Abha. If I don’t appreciate the bounties and blessings that are continually streaming forth for me, why would God give me any more?
Knowing that the solution to envy and jealousy is to rejoice over the success of my neighbors, 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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This is part 4 in a series of 6 articles about Temptation. If you’ve missed the previous articles, please scroll down to the bottom of this one for the links.
There is a purpose to our temptations – they exist to purify us and make us stronger in our Faith:
There are before you so many temptations, trials, afflictions, calamities and difficulties because you have to be purified through fire and sifted through the sieve in order to separate the wheat from the tares. Verily, I say unto you: none will be saved but the believers, and from the believers only the sincere, and even those are in great danger, especially in such a time. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 443)
. . . sifting out the weak and raising up the strong in that constant purification of the ranks of the faithful which takes place in the course of the growth of this World Community. (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 351)
Our lower nature wants us to believe that our tests and difficulties have no value, but without trials, we’d never overcome temptation. We need tests in order to develop our skills at avoiding temptation and turning back to God:
The more often the captain of a ship is in the tempest and difficult sailing the greater his knowledge becomes. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. XIV, No. 2, p. 41)
Can anything good come from our temptation?
Why does God want us to overcome temptation? When you don’t it becomes your sin. It creates veils between you and God, when God wants communion with us:
I desire communion with thee, but thou wouldst put no trust in 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. (Baha’u’llah, The Persian Hidden Words 21)
Since our purpose is to know God and we can’t know Him if we have veils between us, getting rid of the veils, overcoming temptation has to be a priority.
There are blessings for enduring temptation. Every temptation opens the doors to God’s blessings, if we yield to them. For example, God uses our trials to help remove the veils between us:
These tests, even as thou didst write, do but cleanse the spotting of self from off the mirror of the heart, till the Sun of Truth can cast its rays thereon; for there is no veil more obstructive that the self, and however tenuous that veil may be, at the last it will completely shut a person out, and deprive him of his portion of eternal grace. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 182)
And helps us grow spiritually:
Life in this world is a succession of tests and achievements, of falling short and of making new spiritual advances. Sometimes the course may seem very hard, but one can witness, again and again, that the soul who steadfastly obeys the Law of Bahá’u’lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 359-360).
And helps protect us from further tests:
The one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness . . . does not attain the happiness he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 359-360).
And increases our bounties:
The souls who bear the tests of God become the manifestations of great bounties . . . they cause the holy souls to ascend to the highest degree of love and solidity. (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 2 December, 1985)
I hope you’ll let me know what you think of these ideas, and then continue on to the next few articles, as I explore this topic more fully.
In part 1, we look at What is Temptation?
In part 2, we look atThe Steps of Temptation Leading to Sin
In part 3, we look at The Ways in Which we are Tempted
In part 5, we look at Things We Can Do When We are Tempted
In part 6, we look at The Consequences of Temptation and How to Prevent It
Often in my Baha’i-inspired life coaching practice, when people are focused on all the things that are going wrong in their lives, I encourage them to make a list of all the things they are grateful for.
Gratitude is one of the most important virtues. The Baha’i Writings tell us that by being grateful, we recieve more of the good things in life:
Be thou happy and well pleased and arise to offer thanks to God, in order that thanksgiving may conduce to the increase of bounty. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 484.)
And that we can never thank God enough:
If we should offer a hundred thousand thanksgivings every moment to the threshold of God . . . we would fail to express our gratitude sufficiently. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 37.)
How true it is!
Today, I’d like to share a 3 minute movie that captures the essence of gratitude more than anything I’ve ever seen. The words, the music, the photographs, in a word are…BEAUTIFUL!
So if you want to make your heart smile, watch this. And don’t forget to forward it to everyone you know and love. It’ll make their day!
What makes you grateful? Post your comments here: