If some people come to thee alone complaining against each other, don’t listen to them, don’t let them breathe the faults of others in thy presence. Tell them: “I have not come here to engage my time with these things. I am not a judge. I have come to summon the people to the Kingdom of Abha, to call you to unity and accord, to raise the dead, make mindful those who are unaware, awaken those who are asleep, breathe new life into the mouldering bones and sound the trumpet of resurrection! Friends! . . . You must not listen to anyone speaking about another; because no sooner do you listen to one than you must listen to someone else, and thus the circle will be enlarged endlessly. Therefore, say to them: “O friends! Let us come together, forget all our self-thoughts and be in one accord, and cry at the top of our voices, ‘Ya-Baha-El-Abha!’ (Abdu’l-Baha, “Star of the West,” Vol. V, No. 1, p. 6)
I often get drawn into other people’s gossip, no matter how much I try to stay clear of it. In fact, just yesterday, a neighbor was confiding in me some of her concerns about the neighbors in our building, whose actions are attracting the police several times a week. I too am seriously concerned about this. I knew she needed to vent, and I knew it was verging on backbiting. All I could do was pray silently in my head: “Ya Baha’u’l-Abha!”, over and over again. Once she’d said her piece, and I acknowledged her concern, without engaging myself, she went on her way, happy to have been heard. I went away feeling poisoned by the experience, but grateful I at least knew how to pray.
I was at fault for listening to her, knowing she was backbiting, knowing that she would repeat her sad tale to other tenants in the building and keep the story going. I did try to focus my comments on her and her concerns, rather than the problems of our neighbors. I did tell her I was systematically praying for the people in our building, which seemed to take her aback, and caused her to give me a big hug, which she has never done before. Please God, let it be enough!
Knowing there are steps I can take when listening to the faults of others, 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