The biggest problem about thoughts is this; people don’t know the source of their thoughts. They don’t stop and ask, “Is that really how God thinks?” or, “Is this thought coming from the kingdom of God or the kingdom of darkness?”
For example: 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. Not from God. As “the Omniscient”; “the All-informed” and “the All Knowing”, God might have known what was going to happen, but He didn’t put the thoughts into their minds. They bought those thoughts as if they were real, and coming from their own minds. Because of their disobedience towards the laws of God, pathways were open for those idle fancies and vain imaginings to take root.
In the course I’m taking this week, I’m reminded that the word of God is the only source of true knowledge. It’s the standard by which to judge everything else.
Do you know the source of your own thoughts? Are they coming from God or from your lower nature? The only way to know for sure is to run them through the Bahá’í Writings.
The easiest way to tell is by how they make you feel. If a thought gives you positive feelings, it’s from God; if not, it’s from your lower nature:
For God has wished all good for His servants, and he who wishes the servants of God evil is against God; he has not obeyed the will and emulated the example of God; he has followed Satanic leadings and footprints. The attributes of God are love and mercy; the attribute of Satan is hate. Therefore, he who is merciful and kind to his fellowmen is manifesting the divine attribute, and he who is hating and hostile toward a fellow creature is satanic. God is absolute love, even as Jesus Christ has declared, and Satan is utter hatred. Wherever love is witnessed, know that there is a manifestation of God’s mercy; whenever you meet hatred and enmity, know that these are the evidences and attributes of Satan. (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 39)
There are 3 sources of thought:
o People in the here and now, telling us things
o Our lower nature
o Our higher nature – or the voice of God
How do thoughts develop? We’re told in the Bahá’í Writings that we see something, which goes into our imagination, then into our thought, comprehension, and memory:
Sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power — the common faculty — which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power of thought; the power of thought reflects, and having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository. (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 317)
And when we choose to act, our negative thoughts come from our lower nature. They aren’t who we are. I can think “I’m fat; I’m ugly” or I’m poor, but that isn’t who I am. It’s just a thought, and thoughts can be changed.
Negative thoughts come into our minds, flooding us with feelings and emotions (sounds like a definition of how I feel when I’m in overwhelm!), as if they were from ourselves. They distance us from God, resulting in shame and guilt in a matter of seconds. As a result, we hide from God, unable to pray, putting us deeper and deeper into our lower natures. Bahá’u’lláh describes this process so eloquently:
Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. Powerless to shake off the burden weighing on its sullied wings, that bird, hitherto an inmate of the heavens, is now forced to seek a dwelling-place upon the dust. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 327)
Pride and ego are also manifestations of our lower nature. For example, perhaps the Kings and Rulers at the time of Bahá’u’lláh believed that their thoughts were arising from their own genius, rather than their lower natures, and this blinded them and caused them to reject the letters Bahá’u’lláh sent to them.
For many centuries, religious leaders controlled the thoughts of believers, training them how to think. Literacy and questions were forbidden. Their interpretations of scripture was not always based on truth as set forth in the Words of God, which is why Bahá’u’lláh abolished the priesthood.
Don’t ever believe what a man says. Justice demands that we:
. . . see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 2)
We can’t stop our lower natures from speaking to us, but we can choose whether or not we will listen and how we will respond. In order to do this, we need to hold every thought captive, so we can discern whose voice we are listening to.
Recognizing imperfections, which we all have, is a positive step towards spiritual growth. (The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05, Homosexuality, p. 6)
And once we’ve determined whose voice we are listening to, we need to identify the source and cast out all idle fancies and vain imaginings. For example, I’m not usually a person who swears, but whenever I find myself using profanity, I seem unable to rid myself of it, until I can identify the person closest to me who is using those words. Then I stop swearing effortlessly.
Our lower nature trains us how to think:
The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance, and we must therefore hold fast to the tools of perception and knowledge. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 136)
What we think and meditate on, becomes a part of who we are.
The reality of man is his thought . . . (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 17)
For example: If my reality is that I am poor, and my reality is my thought, it makes sense that my thoughts become the reason for my poverty.
Henry Wright, in his book “A More Excellent Way”, suggests that negative thoughts affect the body, change hormones and neurotransmitters and become habit. We’ve been given clear guidance on how to reverse this trend:
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. 29)
If we think evil thoughts long enough, we will become evil. One way to avoid it, is by using this affirmation, found in the prayer for spiritual qualities:
I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Prayers, p. 151)
And education alone can show us how to rise above it:
Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 259)
But true education comes from God:
The hope is cherished that ye may obtain true education in the shelter of the tree of His tender mercies and act in accordance with that which God desireth. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 27)
True education is superior to human education in that it:
. . . releases capacities, develops analytical abilities, confidence, will, and goal-setting competencies, and instills the vision that will enable them to become self-motivating change agents, serving the best interests of the community. (Baha’i International Community, 1990 Mar 08, Teacher’s Situation Determining Factor of Quality)
If parents don’t educate their children in the ways of God, they will be called to account for their deeds before a “stern Lord”. This is the only place in the Writings, where this threat exists!
In this New Cycle, education and training are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary. That is, it is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 398)
In order for our thoughts to become aligned with God’s thoughts, we need to:
Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 136)
In conclusion, we are thinking beings with the power of discernment. We can choose which thoughts to put into our minds. But we can’t do this unless we first immerse ourselves in the Ocean of God’s words by reading the Bahá’í Writings morning and eve and by saying our prayer three times a day (morning, evening and the obligatory prayer).