FASTING DAY 6: Nineteen Promises in the Fasting Prayers

These specific days of the Fast, the 19 days before Spring, are unlike other days. No other time of the year is like this time. The earth is being cleansed by the physical wind, snow, water, and breezes in preparation for Spring, when the whole earth is renewed.

Likewise, during this spiritual Fast, we cleanse ourselves through prayer, meditation, and holy deeds to also be renewed and spiritually cleansed from all that is abhorrent to God. The Fasting prayers highlight the importance of this special time and occasion of the Fast and the bounties, blessings, mercies, gifts, and forgiveness we receive during this special, unique, and holy time.

1. ENDOWED EVERY HOUR WITH A SPECIAL VIRTUE-Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue.”

2. EACH ASSIGNED THEIR PORTON OF VIRTUE“Thou hast, also, assigned unto every soul a portion of this virtue.”

3. REMEMBRANCE– “For Thine ardent lovers Thou hast, according to Thy decree, reserved, at each daybreak, the cup of Thy remembrance.”

4. BOUNTY & GRACE Rain down, then, upon us and upon them from the clouds of Thy mercy what beseemeth the heaven of Thy bounteousness and grace.

5. PORTALS OF TENDER MERCY– Thou hast unlocked the doors of Thy bounty before the faces of Thy creatures, and opened wide the portals of Thy tender mercy unto all the dwellers of Thine earth.

6. FELLOWSHIP & COMMUNION“Thou hast graciously enabled to have fellowship with Thee and to commune with Him Who is the Revealer of Thyself.”

7. ASSISTANCE– ..”Do Thou assist them to attain what muster befit so august a station.”

“Assist me and assist them, O my Lord, to obey Thee and to keep Thy precepts. Thou, verily, hast power to do what Thou choosest.”

8. PURGING “Send down, therefore, upon them what will thoroughly purge them of all that Thou abhorrest, that they may be wholly devoted to Thee, and may detach themselves entirely from all except Thyself.”

9. GIFT OF PRESENCE IN AFTERLIFE- “…gift of Thy presence in Thy worlds hereafter—worlds which are inscrutable to all except Thee.

10. PROMISE OF EXALTATION– “Ordain in the course of this year what shall exalt Thy loved ones.”

11. HIDDEN KNOWLEDGE & WISDOM – “To make known unto me what lay hid in the treasuries of Thy knowledge and concealed within the repositories of Thy wisdom.”

12. FULFILLED WISHES -“Thou hast fulfilled the wishes of them that have set their hopes on Thee, and hast granted them their desires, through Thy grace and Thy favors, “

13. FORGIVENESS– “…and by Thy Name through which the ocean of forgiveness surged before Thy face,”

14. GENEROSITY– “…and the clouds of Thy generosity rained upon Thy servants, to write down for everyone who hath turned unto Thee, and observed the fast prescribed by Thee, the recompense decreed for such as speak not except by Thy leave, and who forsook all that they possessed in Thy path and for love of Thee.”

15. CANCEL TRESPASSES-“… to cancel the trespasses of those who have held fast to Thy laws, and have observed what Thou hast prescribed unto them in Thy Book.

16. SPIRITUAL FLIGHT– “to send down upon me and upon them who are in my company that which will enable us to soar into the heavens of Thy transcendent glory,”

16. CERTITUDE – “…and will wash us from the stain of such doubts as have hindered the suspicious from entering into the tabernacle of Thy unity.”

17. ETERNAL MERCY AND FAVOURS” Do Thou ordain for me and for my loved ones the good of this world and of the world to come.”

18. HIDDEN GIFTS -“Supply them, then, with the Hidden Gift Thou didst ordain for the choicest among Thy creatures.”

19. JOY, SOLACE, EXHILARATION: REWARDS FOR THOSE WHO SUFFER IN GOD’S PATH

“…to ordain for Thy loved ones, who under the blaze of the orb of Thy trials have clung to the cord of patience, all the good Thou hast reckoned in Thy Books and Thy Tablets. Write down, then, for such as have been afflicted with adversities for Thy sake, the reward of those who have suffered martyrdom in the path of Thy good-pleasure. Send down, moreover, upon them, O Lord, that which will rejoice their hearts, solace their eyes, and exhilarate their souls. Thou art, verily, the Most Powerful, the Most Exalted, the Help in Peril, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

“This is the hour, O my Lord, which Thou hast caused to excel every other hour, and hast related to the choicest among Thy creatures. I beseech Thee, O my God, by Thy Self and by them, to ordain in the course of this year what shall exalt Thy loved ones. Do Thou, moreover, decree within this year what will enable the Daystar of Thy power to shine brightly above the horizon of Thy glory, and to illuminate by Thy sovereign might, the whole world.”

HAPPY FASTING
BARBARA

FASTING DAY 5: LOVE -A Fire That Will Burn Away All Things We Don’t Need

Have you noticed how many times love is associated with fire, kindling, and burning?

Baha’u’llah, in The Seven Valleys wrote:

“Wherefore must the veils of the satanic self be burned away at the fire of love, that the spirit may be purified and cleansed and thus may know the station of the Lord of the Worlds. Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things.”

Abdul-Baha advised us to “concentrate all the thoughts of our heart on love and unity.” So let’s each ask ourselves that question. Am I concentrating all my thoughts on LOVE??? If so, great! Please click on the comment bubble above right, to share some of your success stories. If not however, here are a few reasons why you may want to reconsider disobeying His advice.

SO, WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF LOVE?

One thing that people deeply in love share in common, is that they are all deliriously happy and they derive great joy from serving each other and seeing the other person happy.

‘Abdul-Baha was always asking people if they were happy because God wants us to be happy, BECAUSE HE LOVES US. When you love someone, making and seeing the other person happy is not a duty or imposition, it is joy itself. Love is the key to happiness. That is why it is so important to make love our primary state of being.

Reflect on the following guidance on how to have your soul filled with the spirit of life?

“O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.” (1)

Clearly, our first love must be for our Creator, who rescued us from the wretchedness of nothingness and placed us at the apex of creation. How can we not be happy and grateful?

“All that has been created is for man who is at the apex of creation and who must be thankful for the divine bestowals, so that through his gratitude he may learn to understand life as a divine benefit. (2)

“O SON OF SPIRIT! There is no peace for thee save by renouncing thyself and turning unto Me; for it behooveth thee to glory in My name, not in thine own; to put thy trust in Me and not in thyself, since I desire to be loved alone and above all that is.” (3)

We are taught that God’s love is all encompassing, so why do we sometimes feel lonely, unloved, and unhappy? Perhaps it’s because we have to open our hearts and be attracted to that love in order to receive it. God’s love can not reach us unless we love Him first. If God’s powerful love cannot reach us, than perhaps no other human’s love can reach us either. Think about that, especially with our conflicting relationships where love is conditional. It may not be the world that is souring our relationships and blocking our blessings; since love is the carrier, could it possibly be us?

Ponder this vital point: We must love others first in order to receive their love, just as we are told we must love God first to receive His unconditional love. This is a critical distinction in the service work. You can’t love and serve God without loving and serving humanity. And, you can’t reach people you do not love. And you can’t love people if you don’t really know them and have a relationship with them.

“O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant.” (4)

Love is an energy that needs a receiver. If God sends His love and we are not open to receiving it, then it cannot influence our lives. This is also true in any relationship.

Real love is not conditional; you don’t fall in and out of it, because you are loving the God (spiritual qualities) you see in the person, not how they satisfy some immediate material, physical, spiritual, or emotional need of yours.

Similar to the Baha’i marriage vow, in which you make the promise to God and not the other person, your vow to God is to abide by His Will in relationship to the other person. If either person does not love and obey God, why would either expect love and loyalty from each other?

Abdu’l-Baha warns us,

“But, if the hearts of the people become void of the divine grace-the love of God-they

1) wander in the desert of ignorance,

2) descend to the depths of ruin and

3) fall to the abyss of despair where there is no refuge.

4)They are like insects living on the lowest plane.“(5)

We find it hard to love people when we are angry, jealous, hurt, excluded, or have hatred in our hearts. Baha’u’llah warns us,

“Say: Jealousy eats the body and anger burns the liver. Refrain from these two as you would avoid a lion.” (6)

Happy Fasting

Barbara Talley

SOURCES:

1. Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

2. (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 134)

3. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

4. (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

5. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, Vol. III, p. 325.

6. (Cited in “Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era”, p. 108)

(Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 460)

Fasting is more than just not eating with Barbara Talley

FASTING DAY 4: Let’s Strive See A Sign of God in Everyone and Act Accordingly

Dear Friends.

It is the illusion of “otherness” that keeps humanity separate, competing, and at odds or war. During this Fast let’s focus our energies on inclusion, unity, friendship, bonding, loving-kindness, and transformation so that we can become more spiritual beings. The Fast will generate the heat required to create the love and radiance that is necessary to produce worthy deeds.

The goal is to “translate that which is written into reality and action.” Fasting is more than just not eating. Fasting is a about transformation.

GUIDANCE

“Cleanse ye your eyes, so that ye behold no man as different from yourselves.

See ye no strangers; rather see all men as friends, for love and unity come hard when ye fix your gaze on otherness.

And in this new and wondrous age, the Holy Writings say that we must be at one with every people; that we must see neither harshness nor injustice, neither malevolence, nor hostility, nor hate, but rather turn our eyes toward the heaven of ancient glory.

For each of the creatures is a sign of God, and it was by the grace of the Lord and His power that each did step into the world; therefore they are not strangers, but in the family; not aliens, but friends, and to be treated as such.

Wherefore must the loved ones of God associate in affectionate fellowship with stranger and friend alike, showing forth to all the utmost loving-kindness, disregarding the degree of their capacity, never asking whether they deserve to be loved. ‘

In every instance let the friends be considerate and infinitely kind. Let them never be defeated by the malice of the people, by their aggression and their hate, no matter how intense.

If others hurl their darts against you, offer them milk and honey in return; if they poison your lives, sweeten their souls; if they injure you, teach them how to be comforted; if they inflict a wound upon you, be a balm to their sores; if they sting you, hold to their lips a refreshing cup.”

REFECTION

Remember “one hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship. Pick one or more to meditate on today.

HOW CAN I…”

1) Associate in affectionate fellowship with stranger and friend alike?

2) Show forth to all the utmost loving-kindness?

3) Disregard the degree of a person’s capacity?

4) Never ask whether they deserve to be loved?

5) Cleanse my eyes so that I see no one as a stranger, an alien, or different than me?

6) See ALL as friends and family?

7) Be as one with every people?

8 Turn my eyes toward the kingdom of Glory so that I no longer see harshness, injustice, malevolence, hostility, and hate?

9) Be considerate and infinitely kind?

10) Not be defeated by the malice, aggression, and hate, no matter how intense?

11) Return honey when people hurl darts at me?

12) Sweeten their souls if they poison my life?

13) Teach them how to be comforted when they injure me?

14) Be balm to their sores if they inflict a wound upon me?

15) Hold to their lips a refreshing cup if they sting me?

We have a lot to think about during this Fast, and all year long.

Happy Fasting
Barbara

FASTING DAY 3: Avoid Backbiting (Gossip) Like the Plague

The purpose of the Fast is to draw nearer to God, to be attracted to divine qualities, and to prepare for the life ahead by becoming more virtuous here. When Abdul-Baha was asked what is the purpose of life, he responded, “to acquire virtues.”

Every vice has a virtue; backbiting is the vice while praise is the virtue! We would do well to focus our attention on what we want to achieve, not avoid. In this case, we should focus our attention on seeing ONLY the good in each other and praising them.

“Abdu’l-Bahá daily practices the command, “If a man have ten bad qualities and one good one, look at the one and ignore the ten.” (4)

We may not be able to stop people from speaking ill of another, but we do not have to listen to it. If we do, we are complicit.

“You must not listen to anyone speaking about another, because no sooner do you listen than you must listen to someone else and thus the circle will be enlarged endlessly. Therefore, O friends! Let us come together, forget all our self-thoughts and be in one accord, and cry at the top of our voices ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!’” (5)

“Backbiting, slander and dwelling on the faults of others have been repeatedly condemned by Bahá’u’lláh. In the Hidden Words, He clearly states: “O Son of Being! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.”

And again: “O Son of Man! Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and to this I bear witness.”

This strong admonition is further reiterated in His last work, “the Book of My Covenant”:

Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk. God hath forgiven what is past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men.” (6)

“No Bahai must open his lips in blaming another one, he must regard backbiting as the greatest sin of humanity, for it is clearly revealed in all the Tablets of Baha’u’llah that backbiting and faultfinding are the fiendish instruments and suggestions of Satan and the destroyers of the foundation of man. A believer will not blame any soul among the strangers, how much less against the friends. Faultfinding and backbiting are the characteristics of the weak minds and not the friends. Self-exaltation is the attribute of the stranger and not of the Beloved.” (7)

When asked, what should we do if people speak ill of others in our presence, the response was clear:

“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 honour 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.

If, however, a person setteth about speaking well of another, opening his lips to praise another, he will touch an answering chord in his hearers and they will be stirred up by the breathings of God. Their hearts and souls will rejoice to know that, God be thanked, here is a soul in the Faith who is a focus of human perfections, a very embodiment of the bounties of the Lord, one whose tongue is eloquent, and whose face shineth, in whatever gathering he may be, one who hath victory upon his brow, and who is a being sustained by the sweet savours of God.”

Hopefully you have had lots of inspired thoughts during this Fast, and are more knowledgeable, inspired, attracted to the Divine, and more committed to your own transformation. We know that obedience to God is critical to our station in the next life and the determining factor as to whether we greet death as a messenger of joy or the harbinger of doom is how near we are to God.

Bahaullah cautions us to “strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.” (9)

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, reaffirms the importance of action,

“Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless. The wrong in the world continues to exist just because people talk only of their ideals, and do not strive to put them into practice. If actions took the place of words, the world’s misery would very soon be changed into comfort.” (10)

Happy Fasting

Barbara Talley

1. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)

2. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –

3. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –

4. (Diarys, Goodall – Cooper — Daily Lessons Received at ‘Akka January 1908, p. 64)

5. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –

6. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 181)

7. (Provisional Translations, Star of the West (Volume 2))

8. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 230)

9. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 249)

10. (Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 22)

FASTING DAY 2: Perfecting the Power of Praising and Avoiding the Most Great Sin.

A group of us are reading the Kitab-i-Aqdas during the Fast. Today we were reading about backbiting. So I thought I’d share an article I wrote on the topic: Perfecting the Power of Praising and Avoiding the Most Great Sin.

19 YE HAVE BEEN FORBIDDEN TO COMMIT MURDER OR ADULTERY, OR TO ENGAGE IN BACKBITING OR CALUMNY; SHUN YE, THEN, WHAT HATH BEEN PROHIBITED IN THE HOLY BOOKS AND TABLETS.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues. Since the portals of God’s mercy are opened wider during this time, the Fast is the best time to strive to get rid of all evil habits and acquire spiritual habits. One way to “refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in our souls” during the Fast is to increase the practice of praising one another so to be obedient to the laws of God. Obedience to Divine Laws assist us, not God.

Those who knowingly break or violate spiritual laws will be considered handicapped in the next life, just as a child delivered from the womb who lacked vital limbs, organs, or senses is. There are innumerable virtues, each with its opposite vice, so I thought I would start with the worst or most destructive vice.

Consider the company of these vices mentioned together in the same breath by Baha’u’llah in the The Kitab-i-Aqdas, “Ye have been forbidden to commit murder or adultery, or to engage in backbiting or calumny; shun ye, then, what hath been prohibited in the holy Books and Tablets.”

One would think that murder or adultery would be the worst human sin, but another one has an equally dubious distinction and:

  1. Is the most great sin
  2. Is the worst human quality
  3. Is cause for being dishonored
  4. Devours the heart
  5. Devours the soul
  6. Defiles the tongue
  7. Quenches the light of the heart
  8. Extinguishes the life of the soul
  9. Is the cause of Divine Wrath
  10. Is grievous error
  11. Is the most hateful characteristic of man
  12. Causes us to lose all the traces of spirituality,
  13. Excommunicates a person from the divine company of the worthy ones
  14. Submerges one in the sea of phantasms
  15. Suffers one to become cold and pessimistic
  16. Throws one headlong into the death of despair and haunting hopelessness
  17. Endures a century
  18. Is a deadly poison
  19. Is divisive
  20. Causes us to be cursed by God

For this reason, this message will be a bit longer today. “

Baha’u’llah warned us, “… observe silence and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smoldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endureth a century. That seeker should, also, regard backbiting as grievous error, and keep himself aloof from its dominion, inasmuch as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul”. (1)

I would urge each of us to reflect seriously on the potential spiritual suicide of this one vice today as we conclude the second week of our 19-Day Fast. Gossiping and backbiting have the power to put the light out in our hearts, and KILL the life of our immortal souls!!! I don’t know about you, but that is one vice that I am putting first on my radar and goal list and committing to working on breaking immediately!

“ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá warned that “the worst human quality and the most great sin is backbiting; more especially when it emanates from the tongues of the believers of God. If some means were devised so that the doors of backbiting could be shut eternally and each one of the believers of God unsealed his tongue in the praise of the other, then the teachings of His Holiness Bahá’u’lláh would be spread, the hearts illuminated, the spirits glorified and the human world would attain to everlasting felicity.

I hope that the believers of God will shun completely backbiting, each one praising the other cordially and believe that backbiting is the cause of Divine wrath, to such an extent that if a person backbites to the extent of one word, he may become dishonoured among all the people, because the most hateful characteristic of man is fault-finding.

One must expose the praiseworthy qualities of the souls and not their evil attributes. The friends must overlook their shortcomings and faults and speak only of their virtues and not their defects.” (2)

“This day is the day of joy and fragrance. These petty backbitings and jealousies

make one lose all the traces of spirituality,

excommunicate a person from the divine company of the worthy ones,

submerge one in the sea of phantasms,

suffer one to become cold and pessimistic and

throw him headlong into the death of despair and haunting hopelessness.” (3)

So, who do you need to begin praising? Perhaps, the next time you are dying to talk about someone and share some juicy tidbit, you’ll first pause, and ask yourself, is it really worth losing my your soul over?

  1. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 264)
  2. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –
  3. (SOW – Star of the West, Star of the West –

Fasting is more than just not eating

Barbara Talley