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A New Prayer for Parents

O Divine Providence!  Immerse the father and mother of this servant of Thy Threshold in the ocean of Thy forgiveness, and purge and sanctify them from every sin and transgression.  Grant them Thy forgiveness and mercy, and bestow upon them Thy gracious pardon.  Thou, verily, art the Pardoner, the Ever-Forgiving, the Bestower of abundant grace.  (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Twenty-six Prayers Revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of His passing, number 13)

When I was first looking at the effects of my childhood trauma, I knew I had to forgive but I wasn’t ready yet.  The best I could do was to ask God to forgive them for me.  Because the Bab had told us that “It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents” and that “Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!”  (The Báb, Lights of Guidance, p. 230).  Recognizing that praying for my parents was in my best interest, I was highly motivated to memorize the prayer for parents and say it frequently, though I’m still not remembering to to it after every prayer!

When I was looking at the newly released prayers of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, I was happy to see a new prayer for parents and wanted to compare the two.

In the earlier prayer we’re really just asking God to “submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace”, but in the new prayer we’re asking so much more:

  • immerse them . . . in the ocean of Thy forgiveness
  • purge and sanctify them from every sin and transgression
  • grant them Thy forgiveness and mercy
  • bestow upon them Thy gracious pardon

For this abuse survivor, this asks so much more from God, specific to what I would want for them and for myself.  I think I’ll memorize this one too.

Knowing how to ask God to forgive them and 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 Making Friends with Sin and Temptation

 

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The Relationship Between Sin and Physical Ailments

It is certainly the case that sins are a potent cause of physical ailments. If humankind were free from the defilements of sin and waywardness, and lived according to a natural, inborn equilibrium, without following wherever their passions led, it is undeniable that diseases would no longer take the ascendant, nor diversify with such intensity.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, #134, p. 152)

Once diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I did everything in my power to find a solution – from medication to alternative health therapies, to many years of talk therapy and everything in between.  As a Bahá’í I found many answers in the Writings which brought comfort to my mind, but nothing got me free from the effects of anxiety and depression till I met Henry Wright, a Christian minister who specializes in the spiritual roots behind disease.  Henry teaches, and I’ve come to believe, that 80% of all disease, including depression, has a spiritual root.  I’m only just learning how the veils we put up between us and God lead to disease in the body.  This was a huge wake-up revelation for me!  ‘Abdul-Bahá describes it so well in today’s quote.

I used to think that “sins” referred to the “big” ones (murder, sex outside marriage), but now I’ve come to understand sin as anything that God (through the Baha’i Writings) tells me to do, which I’m not doing.

By deepening my understanding of these teachings, I’ve come to realize that when I call my disease “anxiety and depression”, I fall into the medical model, and stay trapped in the prison of self.  When I call it “fear and self-pity” instead, it became a sin (or veil between me and God), and there were things I could find in the Writings to do to remove the veil.  This concept changed my life for the better, and when I applied his teachings, I became free and eager to pass along what I learned to others.

Knowing that when I fall into fear and self-pity, I’m not trusting God and His Teachings, and this veil is the cause of my disease, and believing there are solutions I can use, 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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Listening to the Faults of Others

It is obvious that if we listen to those who complain to us about the faults of others we are guilty of complicity in their backbit­ing. We should therefore, as tactfully as possible, but yet firmly, do our utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in our presence.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p.  94)

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be part of conversations where people are complaining about others.  It seems to be happening so often and when I get caught up in it, it feels like I’m sitting in a vat full of poison.  I used to like hanging out in the common room in our apartment building to get to know my neighbors, but despite my best efforts to elevate the level of conversation, it always leaves me drained so now I avoid it entirely.  I used to appreciate eating at the soup kitchen as it really helped keep my food budget down but when I heard people criticizing the organization that fed us, I couldn’t bear it so now I don’t go there either.

Some days I think I’m really withdrawing from the world to avoid the conflict and can easily get caught up in judging myself harshly for it.  This quote gives me some comfort because it doesn’t say I have to stay and make things better, which I used to believe, it says I need to do my utmost to prevent others from making accusations or complaints against others in my presence.  Avoiding the ungodly is acceptable in God’s eyes!

Knowing it’s OK to prevent others from making accusations or complaints in my presence 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

 

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Dampening the Zeal of Others

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. If any individual should speak ill of one who is absent, it is incumbent on his hearers, in a spiritual and friendly manner, to stop him, and say in effect: would this detrac­tion serve any useful purpose? Would it please the Blessed Beauty, contribute to the lasting honor of the friends, promote the holy Faith, support the Covenant, or be of any possible benefit to any soul? No, never! On the contrary, it would make the dust to settle so thickly on the heart that the ears would hear no more, and the eyes would no longer behold the light of truth.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá,  pp. 230-231)

In today’s quote on the evils of backbiting, we learn two important things:

  1. Backbiting not only dampens the zeal, but is also the leading cause among the friends to withdraw and become indifferent. How many Baha’is in your community have withdrawn and become indifferent?  It seems to be an epidemic.  Now we know what the problem is we can look at how backbiting has played a role and where we might need to adjust our behavior.
  1. When I hear backbiting, I know it’s wrong, but it’s so easy to get caught up in it, because our culture is so steeped in it. ‘Abdu’l-Baha knows this and tells us what we can say to stop it in a spiritual and friendly manner:
  • would this comment serve any useful purpose?
  • Would it please the Blessed Beauty?
  • Would it contribute to the lasting honor of the friends?
  • Would it promote the holy Faith
  • Would it support the Covenant?
  • Would it be of any possible benefit to any soul?

These questions might be easier to ask another Baha’i, who has recognized Baha’u’llah and accepted the Covenant, but the same principle applies with those who haven’t.  Instead we can ask:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it inspiring?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

Knowing how to respond when I hear backbiting, I am grateful!

What setback are you experiencing in your life today and how can this process help?  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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The Two Meanings of Self

. . . self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá’í Writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as “he hath known God who hath known himself”, etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can de­velop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against . . . in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.  (Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 18)

This was the quote that helped me to understand the Baha’i concept of a personified “devil”.  The devil isn’t a being outside me.  He’s built into my very nature as the ego or the shadow side of me that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on.  There’s nothing wrong with me because of it.  It’s how God designed us.  We’re all sinners.  We all have lower natures.  We all need to become awakened to our dual natures so we know how to move from one to the other.

If our purpose in life is to know God and acquire the virtues we need for the next world, how can we acquire them if there is nothing to “struggle against” so we can “strengthen and free the spirit within us”?  It’s all part of our very identity and part of God’s great design and plan for our lives, nothing to fear.

Knowing my dark side was given to me for a purpose, 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 Getting to Know Your Lower Nature

 

 

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