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Overcoming Fear

. . . the fears and anxieties that distract their minds . . . are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen. (Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 149)

Recently I made a list of fears that held me back and I was astonished to come up with a list of 125!  Some were obvious (fear of losing my health or my income, fear of authority figures, fear of angry people, fear of success); some were eye-opening (fear of God’s disapproval and punishment, fear of asking for help, fear of letting other people down) and others I had been completely unaware of (fear of making friends, fear of taking up space in the world, fear of moving out of my comfort zone).  The list went on and on!

What fears boil down to, though, is just two things.  We’re afraid of losing what we have or afraid of not getting what we want.   These fears, especially if we are unaware or oblivious to them, are always on the hamster wheel inside our brains, and as the quote reminds us, they distract us and stand in the way of being able to accomplish what we want to do.  They are “formidable” and yet we must all battle against them and surmount them if we want to be of service to our fellow-man.  We can’t do this without God’s help and mercy and we can’t ask for it if we aren’t aware.  So go ahead.  Make your own list!  This will give you some ideas.

Remembering to ask God to help me surmount my many fears, 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 Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety


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Idle Thoughts and Vain Imaginings

Consider then how the peoples of the world are circling round their own vain imaginings and worshipping the idols of their own thoughts and fancies, without the least awareness of doing so. They regard these vain imaginings as that Reality which is sanctified above all understanding and exalted beyond every allusion. They consider themselves to be the proponents of the Divine Unity and all others as worshippers of idols, even though idols at least enjoy a mineral existence, whereas the idols of human thoughts and imaginations are sheer illusion and have not even the existence of stones. “Take ye good heed, O people of insight!” (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, 2014 ed., p. 37)

Our thoughts are not our friends.  Where did the thought come from, which led Mírzá Yahyá to betray Bahá’u’lláh?  Where did the thought come from, which led Osama Bin Laden to bomb the World Trade Centre?  Where did the thought come from, which led Hitler to want to exterminate the Jews?  These thoughts all came out of their lower natures.  All idle fancies and vain imaginings that people believed in and acted on, to the detriment of the world.

As someone who lives in her head a great deal of the time, this is an important reminder.  It’s easy to believe the thoughts in my head without even knowing I’m doing it.  This is my drug of choice.  I’m addicted to the thoughts, especially to the ones that tell me I’m unloveable, not measuring up, a bad Bahá’í.  I’m addicted to the thoughts that feed my negativity and self pity.  I know better.  I’ve studied thoughts, written about believing the lies and tried to master my thoughts on my own and discovered all too often that I am powerless over them.  I need the grace of God to turn it around and I need to remember to rely on it every minute of every day.  It’s exhausting!

Knowing I can destroy these false idols by giving them to God, 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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Feeling Hurt

We must never dwell too much on the attitudes and feelings of our fellow-believers towards us. What is most important is to foster love and harmony and ignore any rebuffs we may receive; in this way the weakness of human nature and any peculiarity or attitude of any particular person is not magnified, but pales into insignificance in com­parison with our joint service to the Faith we all love.  (Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í  Life, p. 16)

It is so easy for me to go to a place of feeling hurt, even when no offence was meant.  This is a big test for me right now, and it comes from a place of not believing in my nobility and not believing I’m lovable.  This false belief, put on the hamster wheel in my mind, and becomes so magnified it won’t let anything positive in, enables me to put up walls between me and others before I even know I’m doing it.  Sometimes it feels like the very air I breathe, the ocean I’m swimming in.  It would be like asking a bird to recognize the air or a whale to recognize the ocean.

So this quote gives me some concrete steps I can take to overcome this tenancy:

  • Stop dwelling on the attitudes and feelings of others
  • Focus on bringing love and harmony
  • Ignore any rebuffs
  • Continue to serve together

Easier said than done, perhaps, but at least I know where to start, and 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 Learning How to Forgive

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Overcoming Anxiety by Changing your Thoughts


Now that we’ve dealt with the subconscious mind, let’s move on to the conscious mind, assuming we’ve wakened to the reality of our lower and higher nature and the necessity of keeping every thought captive.

Some spiritual principles to keep in mind in order to change your thoughts include:

Know that Fear doesn’t Solve Anything:

He does not feel that fear — for ourselves or for others — solves any problem, or enables us to better meet it if it ever does arise. We do not know what the future holds exactly.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

Knowledge of Self:

It’s helpful to take an inventory of all your fears.  They are so dangerous you’ll want to be conscious of what they are, so that you can consciously work to eliminate them.  Find a list of fears to consider.  This website is a great place to start.

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty . . . (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 34-35)

As you’re learning, though, it’s not enough to stay at this step, as therapy would have you do.  It’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Understand you’re not alone in having fear:

For those of us in Haifa who had lived, under the aegis of our beloved Guardian, through the agonizing days in 1955 when another group of Bahá’ís were being unjustly persecuted, that time in Persia where the friends suffered senseless acts of barbarism, murder, rape and pillage of property, it was history repeating itself — but with no Shoghi Effendi at the helm to guide and comfort us. We had to pray, act, endure the heavy-footed hours that never seemed to pass as the time for the execution of our fellow-Baha’s drew nearer and nearer. The burden of anxiety for the fate of their co-religionists was shared by the entire Bahá’í world; the burden of responsibility and decision, however, fell upon the Hands of the Cause, particularly the body of the Custodians in Haifa, and was, indeed, an agonizing and almost insupportable burden to bear.  (Custodians, Ministry of the Custodians, p. 19)

Understand that there will be strong emotions (sorrow, fear, disillusionment, perplexity, indignation, grievances), and that they are unimportant in the face of opportunities to advance the Cause:

The opportunities which the turmoil of the present age presents, with all the sorrows which it evokes, the fears which it excites, the disillusionment which it produces, the perplexities which it creates, the indignation which it arouses, the revolt which it provokes, the grievances it engenders, the spirit of restless search which it awakens, must, in like manner, be exploited for the purpose of spreading far and wide the knowledge of the redemptive power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for enlisting fresh recruits in the ever-swelling army of His followers. So precious an opportunity, so rare a conjunction of favorable circumstances, may never again recur.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 47)

Make a choice:

We have to choose whether we are people of faith of people of fear. People of fear expect trouble to overtake them. People of faith choose to trust God is working in their life and if trouble should come, they trust God will enable them to overcome the trouble. Fear does not torment them for their faith demands to be fulfilled, faith that God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Every time you recognize Fear rising up you have to respond with what you are going to believe.  Make a decision that you are going to walk in love, be loved, and that Fear is not going to be your guide. You have to choose which one you want to believe.  If you’re practicing fear, you might want to ask yourself:  who are you pleasing and who is your Lord in that part of your life?

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. 108-109)

How lofty is the station which man, if he but choose to fulfill his high destiny, can attain! To what depths of degradation he can sink, depths which the meanest of creatures have never reached! Seize, O friends, the chance which this Day offereth you, and deprive not yourselves of the liberal effusions of His grace.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 205)

Don’t let fear fall on you:

O ye beloved of the Lord! Beware, beware lest ye hesitate and waver. Let not fear fall upon you, neither be troubled nor dismayed. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 349)

Fear not, neither be dismayed, for your light shall penetrate the densest darkness. This is the Promise of God, which I give unto you.  (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 168)

Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.”  (Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 168)

Decide to Stop:

Decide which kingdom you’re going to worship:  fear or faith.

That doesn’t mean that every time you feel fear you need to be delivered from it. Instead, you need to apply what you’re learning. You need to throw yourself into the absolute care of God whether we live or whether we die, whether we win or whether we lose. None of that matters. We need to throw ourselves on the absolute care of God.

God delivers us from all our fears.  Hello!  I have the knowledge  of God in front of me!  Use it!  So when fear and worry come, show them your “no vacancy“ sign.

I rule my spirit, not fear.  I may be tempted by fear and worry but there’s no room at the inn.  Fear speaks to me and I do some knee-knocking but I don’t yield to it because I have the law of God strong within me.

What’s the worst thing that can happen to us?  We can die and go to the next world!

Start taking charge of your own spirit.  Start recognizing the source of those thoughts.  Are they coming from your lower nature or from God?  Hold every thought captive.

The Pen of the Most High addresseth Me, saying: Fear not.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 90)

Don’t feed them:

There’s a great story going around the internet – I haven’t been able to find the author:

An old Cherokee told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth.”

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

It’s likely more of a parable than a truth, but it makes an important point.  If we feed our fears by ruminating on them, keeping on the hamster wheel, they will grow and dominate our lives.  If we feed our higher nature through immersing ourselves in the word of God, we will align ourselves with our true purpose and the fears will fall away.  The choice is ours to make.

Shoghi Effendi makes a similar point, when he reminds us of our high purpose and urges us not to allow any anxiety to deflect us from achieving it.

I appeal to every one of them, and particularly to the members of the assemblies who safeguard their interests, not to allow any disturbance, suffering, or anxiety to dim the splendour of their faith, to deflect them from their high purpose, to cause any division in their ranks, to interfere with the steady consolidation and expansion of their activities and institutions. I will specially pray that the work they have magnificently initiated, and so marvellously and soundly developed may suffer no setback, but rather continue to develop and yield its destined fruit. Persevere and rest assured.  (Shoghi Effendi, Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, p. 43)

Just because Shoghi Effendi told us not to let anxiety deflect us from our purpose, doesn’t mean he too wasn’t beset with worry from time to time.  Rúhíyyih Khanum shares a story about that with us:

It was not, however, such dangers as these that caused Shoghi Effendi sleepless nights. His great concern was for the protection of the Twin Holy Shrines. As the Mandate ended and the Arab-Jewish war broke out, a very real danger threatened them and caused him acute anxiety. Bahji was only about fifteen miles from the frontier, over which an invading army might pour at any moment. This was one worry; the other worry, in a way even more intense, was caused by the mooted plan, at one time seriously considered, of placing the frontiers of the new Jewish State in such a way that its northern one would divide Haifa and ‘Akká and thus the World Centre would be split in two, its Administrative Centre situated in one country and the Holiest Spot on earth, the Qiblih of the Faith, situated in another, hostile to it and hostile to the Faith itself.  Should anyone wonder why the divinely guided Guardian worried so much over such things, I would like to give an explanation, out of my own understanding. It seems to me there are three factors involved in most situations: the Will of God in which His Beneficence, Omnipotence and the destiny He has ordained for man are all involved – and which ultimately rights all wrongs; the element of accident, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says is inherent in nature; and the element of individual free will and responsibility. Bearing in mind these factors it is not surprising the Guardian should be deeply concerned over any situation that affected the interests and protection of the Faith, and should anxiously ponder the problems facing him, seeking to ensure that the right solution was found, the best opportunity seized, the greatest benefit for the Cause obtained.  (Rúhíyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 188-189)

Despite his worry, he didn’t let it stop him from taking action as he pondered the problems and ensured that the right solution was found.  That’s what we must learn to do too.

Turn your back to fear:

This community can do no better than to gird up afresh its loins, turn its back upon the clamour of the age, its fears, confusion and strife, step resolutely forward on its chosen path, unshakably confident that with every step it takes, should it remain undeflected in its purpose and undimmed in its vision, a fresh outpouring of Divine grace will reinforce and guide its march on the highroad of its destiny.  (Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community)

Remind yourself there is nothing to be afraid of:

Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this wronged One to mankind. Wherefore fear ye, O My well-beloved ones? Who is it that can dismay you?  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 92-93)

The only thing we should be afraid of is God:

The days of your life shall roll away, and all the things with which ye are occupied and of which ye boast yourselves shall perish, and ye shall, most certainly, be summoned by a company of His angels to appear at the spot where the limbs of the entire creation shall be made to tremble, and the flesh of every oppressor to creep. Ye shall be asked of the things your hands have wrought in this, your vain life, and shall be repaid for your doings. This is the day that shall inevitably come upon you, the hour that none can put back. To this the Tongue of Him that speaketh the truth and is the Knower of all things hath testified.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 199)

Understand Death:

Should we have true faith in the words of the prophets we would not fear death nor feel despondent over the passing of our loved ones . . .  Such earnest souls, when they pass out of this life, enter a state of being far nobler and more beautiful than this one. We fear it only because it is unknown to us and we have little faith in the words of the Prophets who bring a true message of certainty from that realm of the spirit. We should face death with joy especially if our life upon this plane of existence has been full of good deeds.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 207)

Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.  (Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, Arabic 14)

Stop believing lies:

We need to stop believing the lies of our idle fancies and vain imaginings and start believing God. When we can look fear in the face and call it a pack of lies, it’s very empowering.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha shows us how when we meet with lies we are miserable:

When we find truth, constancy, fidelity, and love, we are happy; but if we meet with lying, faithlessness, and deceit, we are miserable.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 65)

How much more so, when the lying is coming from us!

We want to stop lying to ourselves for another reason too.  It’s because lying is the worst quality, most odious sin, most blameworthy quality.  It destroys all human perfections and leads to other vices and is the foundation of all evil!  Surely that’s reason enough to focus on what’s real!

Consider that the worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation of all evil, is lying. No worse or more blameworthy quality than this can be imagined to exist; it is the destroyer of all human perfections and the cause of innumerable vices. There is no worse characteristic than this; it is the foundation of all evils.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 215)

Change our Thoughts:

It’s important to have the right attitude towards our fears; and one way to do it is to remember the vision presented to us in the Writings:

Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic- stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 127)

It behoves man to abandon thoughts of non-existence and death which are absolutely imaginary and see himself ever living, everlasting in the divine purpose of his creation. He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 265-266)

He urges you to put these dark thoughts from your mind, and remember that God, the Creator of all men, can bear to see them suffer so, it is not for us to question His wisdom. He can compensate the innocent, in His own way, for the afflictions they bear.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

When you transform your negative outlook into a positive one, you can accomplish so much more. In doing so, your mind will be released from negative programming, allowing you to excel and succeed throughout your life.

I think this is what ‘Abdul-Bahá means when he says:

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.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)

Forget about them:

The Guardian urges you to forget all your fears . . .  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 238)

How do we do that?  Through teaching and service:

. . . with a tranquil heart and radiant spirit, to teach and serve the Faith all you can in Yonkers and its vicinity, while depending on God for your guidance and help. The teaching work is of the utmost importance in these days, and whoever engages in it will be reinforced by the Hosts on High.  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 238)


When fear tries to come back, stand up to it. Don’t let it ruin your life anymore. Quote these words back to fear:

  • I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 150)
  • I fear no tribulation in His path, nor any affliction in My love for Him and in the way of His good pleasure.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 131)
  • I will fear no one, though the powers of earth and heaven be leagued against Me.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 101)
  • Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world’s afflictions can in no wise alarm me.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 208)
  • I fear no tribulation in His path, nor any affliction in My love for Him and in the way of His good pleasure.  (Baha’u’llah, The Summons of the Lord of Hosts, p. 131)
  • Such is my love for Thee that I can fear no one, though the powers of all the worlds be arrayed against me. Alone and unaided I have, by the power of Thy might, arisen to proclaim Thy Cause, unafraid of the host of my oppressors.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 187)
  • Thou turnest restlessness into tranquillity, fear into confidence, weakness into strength, and abasement into glory.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 212)
  • Thou art He Who changeth through His bidding abasement into glory, and weakness into strength, and powerlessness into might, and fear into calm, and doubt into certainty. No God is there but Thee, the Mighty, the Beneficent.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 249)

Stand up right now and say this with me:

Fear, you are a product of my lower nature. Fear, you are just an idle fancy and vain imagining.

Fear, God didn’t give you to me. He gave me the power of love and the ability to discern good from evil. Because you’re not from God you must be evil.

Fear, my father is in Heaven, on His throne and you’re not.

Fear, Baha’u’llah’s teachings told me all about you. He is my Deliverer, my Redeemer, my Savior. I’m under His protection at all times and under all conditions. He is my Comforter and the One who leads me into all truth. He is the Power of God within me. I’ve joined myself to God so if you want to tangle with me, you’ll need to tangle with my Father. I’m under the shadow of His wings and I am perfectly safe. I will not listen to your lies anymore.  So, what are you going to do about that?


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 Faith

Overcoming Fear with Patience

Overcoming Fear through Courage

Overcoming Fear through Teaching and Service

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


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