Humanity, as a result of turning away from God and relying on material resources, political power, and the carnal and selfish dreams of mortal men, has set itself on a course leading to destruction. The Fasting time is about responsibility, recalibration and reflection; a time to cleanse our hearts and motives. We have been talking about tests for a while and I know that this topic can be very heavy. So, I thought today, to share a word of caution while we “detox our own spiritual selves.” We must be very careful that our knowledge, perceptions, and awareness of the exigencies of our time do not make us feel saddened, angry, afraid or hopeless and cause us to magnify that doom mindset and infect those around us. We must remember that we are all contagious; we can spread joy or we can spread sorrow. Remember Abdul-Baha’s desire for us: “I want you to be happy.., to laugh, smile and rejoice in order that others may be made happy by you.” (1)
Abdul-Baha was always asking people if they were happy and encouraged them to “be joy to the sorrowful.” God not only wants us to be happy, but He also wants us to not ‘test others’ by causing another person grief or wishing them ill-will, even if they mean us harm. There are so many contentious conversations now that are causing grief: vaccines, climate, war, identity, abortion, politics, gender, CRT, and of course, race. Consider these words of Abdul-Baha about the danger of offending each other and causing hopelessness.
Beware! Beware! lest ye offend any heart! Beware! Beware! lest ye hurt any soul! Beware! Beware! lest ye deal unkindly toward any person! Beware! Beware! lest ye be the cause of hopelessness to any creature!
Should any soul become the cause of grief to any heart or despondency to any soul, it is better for him to hide himself in the lowest strata of the earth than to walk upon the earth. Should any soul desire the abasement of his kind, undoubtedly his non-entity is better for him, for his non-existence is better than his existence and his death better than his life.
Therefore, my advice to you is, endeavor as much as ye can to show kindness toward all men, deal with perfect love, affection and devotion with all the individuals of humanity. Remove from amongst yourselves racial, patriotic, religious, sectional, political, commercial, industrial and agricultural prejudices, so that you may become freed from all human restrictions and become the founders of the structures of the oneness of the world of humanity. (2)
We are to bring hope to those who grieve, serve each other, prefer each other, participate in discourses that uplift and educate, and not waste our precious time in actions that cause hopelessness. We were not created to make people despondent or to grieve, and if we do, it is better that we did not exist, Abdul-Baha warned us! We’ve also got to learn to move beyond dichotomous thinking, that either/or thinking, that self-righteous closed-mindedness that sees things only one way. We must widen our vision if we wish to do no harm and to be worthy of being shown greater possibilities for how to bring about the kingdom of God on earth. We tend to think of good as only coming with joy and calm, but: “Our good may often come through severe tests and trials…”(3)
The November 25, 2020 letter from the Universal House of Justice was optimistic about the community’s capacity, and at the same time they cautioned us about the coming dangers in the years ahead. They acknowledged that in some quarters, “hope had become a depleted resource.” Our duty is to bring hope to the hopeless and to support each other.
“Your resilience and your unwavering commitment to the well-being of those around you, persistent through all difficulties, have filled us with tremendous hope, wrote the Universal House of Justice. “But it is no wonder that, in some other quarters, hope has become a depleted resource. There is a mounting realization on the part of the world’s people that the decades ahead are set to bring with them challenges among the most daunting that the human family has ever had to face. The current global health crisis is but one such challenge, the ultimate severity of whose cost, both to lives and livelihoods, is yet unknown; your efforts to succour and support one another as well as your sisters and brothers in society at large will certainly need to be sustained, and in places expanded.”
We must realize the potential damnation we inflict upon ourselves when we cause grief, despondency, and abasement to others. Like a boomerang, “we reap what we sow!” During our meditation, we may wish to seriously reflect the possible repercussions we will attract to ourselves from inflicting pain on others!
Abdul-Baha warned us:
O army of God! Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven. Beware, beware, lest any of you seek vengeance, even against one who is thirsting for your blood. Beware, beware, lest ye offend the feelings of another, even though he be an evil-doer, and he wish you ill. Look ye not upon the creatures, turn ye to their Creator. See ye not the never-yielding people, see but the Lord of Hosts. (4)
Baha’u’llah taught that the reality of man is his thought. So, clearly since we create reality by our thoughts, and our reality is influenced by what we see and hear from those who we hang around the most, we must learn to exercise self-control. Controlling our thoughts is not always possible, so in addition, before we respond, we must learn to do what the October 2019 letter from the Universal House of Justice asked us to do, which is to “search the soul for the right response.” If we wish to help humanity “advance to the highest levels of unity,” we must develop a reflective mindset that is conscientiously cautious. The Fast provides the perfect time for this ‘soul searching.’
Here are a couple of questions to guide your reflections:
- What have we personally done or not down to cause the negative things that are happening now to happen or not happen?
- What are we going to start, stop, or continue doing as a result of the insights gained during this Blessed Fasting time?
- Abdu’l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace
- Star of the West (Volume 1)
- (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 73)