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The Human Soul

THOU hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths.         

—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 82

 

The human soul is, in its essence, one of the signs of God, a mystery among His mysteries. It is one of the mighty signs of the Almighty, the harbinger that proclaimeth the reality of all the worlds of God. Within it lieth concealed that which the world is now utterly incapable of apprehending.         

—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 82

 

O Brother, if we ponder each created thing, we shall witness a myriad perfect wisdoms and learn a myriad new and wondrous truths. One of the created phenomena is the dream. Behold how many secrets are deposited therein, how many wisdoms treasured up, how many worlds concealed. Observe, how thou art asleep in a dwelling, and its doors are barred; on a sudden thou findest thyself in a far-off city, which thou enterest without moving thy feet or wearying thy body; without using thine eyes, thou seest; without taxing thine ears, thou hearest; without a tongue, thou speakest. And perchance when ten years are gone, thou wilt witness in the outer world the very things thou hast dreamed tonight.

—— Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys

 

 The human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. It is, in itself, a testimony that beareth witness to the existence of a world that is contingent, as well as to the reality of a world that hath neither beginning nor end. Behold how the dream thou hast dreamed is, after the lapse of many years, re-enacted before thine eyes. Consider how strange is the mystery of the world that appeareth to thee in thy dream. Ponder in thine heart upon the unsearchable wisdom of God, and meditate on its manifold revelations….

—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 82

 

 the world that which thou hast experienced in thy dream hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world. Verily I say, the creation of God embraceth worlds besides this world, and creatures apart from these creatures. In each of these worlds He hath ordained things which none can search except Himself, the All-Searching, the All-Wise.

—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 79

 

The soul of man is exalted above, and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind.
—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 80

 

When man is asleep, his soul can, in no wise, be said to have been inherently affected by any external object. It is not susceptible of any change in its original state or character. Any variation in its functions is to be ascribed to external causes. It is to these external influences that any variations in its environment, its understanding, and perception should be attributed.

—— Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 82

 

here are many wisdoms to ponder in the dream. First, what is this world, where without eye and ear and hand and tongue a man puts all of these to use? Second, how is it that in the outer world thou seest today the effect of a dream, when thou didst vision it in the world of sleep some ten years past?
Consider the difference between these two worlds and the mysteries which they conceal, that thou mayest attain to divine confirmations and heavenly discoveries and enter the regions of holiness.
—— Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys And the Four Valleys

What is God’s Plan for Me?

Where did our life start?

“The soul of man comes into being at conception.”
——Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 536.

 “The spirit of man has a beginning, but it has no end; it continues eternally.”
—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 151.

 “The whole physical creation is perishable. These material bodies are composed of atoms; when these atoms begin to separate decomposition sets in, then comes what we call death. This composition of atoms, which constitutes the body or mortal elements of any created being, is temporary. When the power of attraction, which holds these atoms together, is withdrawn, the body, as such, ceases to exist. With the soul it is different. The soul is not a combination of elements, it is not composed of many atoms, it is of one indivisible substance and therefore eternal. It is entirely out of the order of the physical creation; it is immortal!”
——‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 90-91.

The relationship between the rational soul and body

“…the rational soul, meaning the human spirit, does not descend into the body — that is to say, it does not enter it, for descent and entrance are characteristics of bodies, and the rational soul is exempt from this. The spirit never entered this body, so in quitting it, it will not be in need of an abiding-place: no, the spirit is connected with the body, as this light is with this mirror. When the mirror is clear and perfect, the light of the lamp will be apparent in it, and when the mirror becomes covered with dust or breaks, the light will disappear.”
——‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 239-240

 “The spirit does not need a body, but the body needs spirit, or it cannot live. The soul can live without a body, but the body without a soul dies.”
——‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 86-87.

What is true life?

Wert thou to attain to but a dewdrop of the crystal waters of divine knowledge, thou wouldst readily realize that true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit.  For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude.  This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality.
——Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán 120

My eternity is My creation, I have created it for thee.  Make it the garment of thy temple.  My unity is My handiwork; I have wrought it for thee; clothe thyself therewith, that thou mayest be to all eternity the revelation of My everlasting being.
——Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words 18-19

The purpose of Life?

When a soul has in it the life of the spirit, then does it bring forth good fruit and become a divine tree….
When the fruit of the tree appears and becomes ripe, then we know that the tree is perfect; if the tree bore no fruit it would be merely a useless growth, serving no purpose.

Some men’s lives are solely occupied with the things of this world; their minds are so circumscribed by exterior manners and traditional interests that they are blind to any other realm of existence, to the spiritual significance of all things.  They think and dream of earthly fame, of material progress.  Sensuous delights and comfortable surroundings bound their horizon, their highest ambitions center in successes of worldly conditions and circumstances.  They curb not their lower propensities; they eat, drink, and sleep.  Like the animal, they have no thought beyond their own physical wellbeing.  It is true that these necessities must be dispatched.  …. But the cares of the lower things of life should not be allowed to monopolize all the thoughts and aspirations of a human being.  The heart’s ambitions should ascend to a more glorious goal, mental activity should rise to higher levels.  Men should hold in their souls the vision of celestial perfection, and there prepare a dwelling place for the inexhaustible bounty of the divine spirit.
—— ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Reality of Man 14-15

 

Life

Our family studied the junior youth book Power of the Holy Spirit on last Sunday. At the very beginning of our study we talked about body and soul. In the beginning of the session I saw our two kids stare at each other. It looked like they had some sort of misunderstanding between them. I said, “you both seem like you have a body but no spirit in it now”. “The life of the spirit is within us or not” these concepts became more and more clear to me since then. When loving care is in a person’s heart, it gives life, at that moment the person is with life. When a man is attached to something, the loving care disappears, and at that moment the man has no life. We can use this principle to see in ourselves (or another person) if the spirit of life is within or not. In a community, if there is loving care among them and supporting each other, then we said this community full of the spirit of life. If two people go against each other in a community, the loving care been affected then we say the spirit of life has been threatened. This is disunity.

When we see men lack the spirit of life, we can nurture the life by cheering them up. The action is to give life. Building a communication bridge among men in a community helps unity and gives the spirit of life to the community. The principle of giving life in God’s teachings is clear, which is giving love. So our job is to nourish life when we see a body that lacks life and to fill the spirit in a dead body. Love is spirit and spirit connects people. So loving people is the action of giving spirit to a body. Our true job is really to fill the spirit in the bodies. The body can be an individual body or a community body. A community is the human body as a whole. It is a oneness body. Our eyes only see the body, but our inner vision sees the emptiness in a body. Our inner vision does see if the spirit of love is exists of not. So we need use both outward vision and inner vision to fill the spiritual gap within bodies.

Look at what we read in today’s paper and electronic media. When we see a kind message we know the loving care is flowing among the community. It means we fill the human network with spirit of life and love. When we see hatred, complaining and blaming each other, the network is spreading a spiritual disease. What message we put out there is the life or death we chose to live. If we want to be life giver or disease spreader really depends on what is in our mind and what words we put out there. So the life and death mentioned in the Writings is this all about this. Our soul fills with life then we give life. We put our influential work out there and give the world positive energy. This means giving the living water and stoping the thirst. A soul without life, a dead body, gives negative thoughts, it spreads fear and drains the life of the spirit and gives the world negative energy. It leads to the death of life.

So you can see how important it is to fill our spirit with the love of God every morning. When we charge our heart with the spirit of love it will help to perform the job and do better at connecting people. We can do our job according to God’s will and breathe the spirit of life among the bodies. This is our job. How can we not be happy when we know our true job. This kind of spiritual life is like living in heaven. This is the spiritual life which God already gave us.  

Praise God and thanks to God! Help me to see the life I am living. How wonderful is that?

How we pray for wisdom from God

If we wish to ask God for wisdom, the first thing we should ask ourselves is how can we tell if we have wisdom? The Scriptures provide the criteria to see true wisdom.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)

This is to say: when we lack peacefulness, gentleness and mercy toward others, or show partiality and hypocrisy, we can see that we are missing wisdom from God. So what is the next thing we can do?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. (James 1:5~6)

If we have a troubled mind, it is because God’s wisdom has been blocked by our mind. God said we can pray to Him and ask for wisdom. He will help us overcome the trouble and help us to be gentle and merciful to others. He will help us to address our spiritual issues.

The question is: why is the problem still there after our prayer? Does that mean our faith is not strong enough?

Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.  (James 2:24)

God gives us much guidance. He gives us methods to deal with our problems. But a lot of the time we care more about our own feelings than those of others, and in so doing, we disobey God’s guidance.  When we care more about our own hurt feelings than others troubles or struggles, then we prevent ourselves being kind to others. We miss the chance to communicate with and try to understand others. A lot of the time people get into a strained emotional state because there are things troubling them. They get even more frustrated if their voice has been ignored. Do we give them a chance to express their feelings, and do we listen? Denying others emotion troubles can turn into our own hurt feelings. This is not wise and we and we often allow this situation to happen. God likes us to work out our own feelings and talk to each other with kindness. That way, we put the communication into action and our action becomes “justified”. God guides us in the right way to communicate. If we act upon it we will see the result. When things start changing it is a confirmation of the work of God. We should continue to put effort into building a trusting relationship, until a good relationship is established. The process of building relationships is one process of receiving wisdom.

Dear friends! God gives us wisdom but do we come forward to receive it? It is our decision to act or not. So God said, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.   (James 4:17)”

God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:10)

If we don’t obey and act, it means we are showing pride towards God. If we are not in awe of God, even if we have faith we can’t be call justified. When we are humble and in awe of God we can receive the wisdom from God. God is fair (just) and he gives everyone the same chance. He guides everyone in ways which suite each individual to follow. The wisdom is hidden in His guidance. So God bestows wisdom fairly. It is through our free will that we choose to receive it or not.  This is the principle of asking for and receiving wisdom. When the wisdom has been received, we see the signs of wisdom, loving kindness and mercy. These are the fruits of the spirit. To see wisdom and the fruits of the spirit, we need to follow the guidance of God and act upon it to receive it. This is the principle of spiritual reality.

If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?  (James 2:15~16)

This question appears to relate to material needs, how is it related to the spirit? Consider this: when a person has no food and no clothes to wear how does that person feel? He would be upset and depressed. If a person lacks basic needs and people only pray to God without comforting action, how can the problem be solved? God guides us to help the poor. If we act within our power and capability, we will see the signs of wisdom show in our acts, which are gentleness, love and mercy. These are the fruits of wisdom. They grow bigger while the action continues. So we say the wisdom is in action. When we see the signs of spiritual qualities it means we see the wisdom.

So when we or others have troubled feelings, we pray to God to bestow wisdom. When we have an idea for the solution, we need to act and let the seed of wisdom be able to grow. Continuing to act will make the growth continue and eventually grow into sweet fruits. When we start to act it means the seed of wisdom has been planted. When we continue to act it means the wisdom is growing. The result of continued action is the maturity of wisdom. So we should be happy for others or for ourselves whenever we see people serving others selflessly and we have the opportunity to serve. Service to others is not a burden, it is the effort to plan the seed and make the wisdom grow. The quality of service in action is the symbol of wisdom. The fruits of wisdom require care to reach maturity. Sacrifice is the care and nutrition to make wisdom grow. We acquire wisdom in our daily life through service and sacrifice.

I hope this explanation will encourage our selfless service to others. And I hope to see God’s children and servants full of the fruits of wisdom more and more.

Praise be to God and Glory be to God! Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá!

Our relationship with God

The relationship between us and God is just like the relationship between us and our child(or between us and our parents). If we have a relationship problem with our child, it also reflects that we have a relationship problem with our Heavenly father. If we have relationship problems with our spouses, it also reflects that our commitment (covenant with God) toward God is weak. Before we know our God, we all think problems are from others and everything around us. Unless we are willing to know our God and learn about the root of our problems and the reality, we will never stop blaming others and seeking solutions from the outside world. After I learn a little bit about God and fix my relationship with the Heavenly Father, the relationship between me and my child, and the commitment between me and my husband becomes stronger.

So the relationship problems we have with others just reflects the relationship problems we have with our God. To fix the relationship problem we have with others, God teaches us to fix our spiritual relationship problems with Him first, then the relationship problem in the material world will be fixed by itself.

O my friend, when we wish our child be obedient and follow the protection rules we set for them, let’s think about this, “are we obedient to the Heavenly Father?” When we wish our children to come to us and say sorry for what they have done, let’s think about “ do we turn toward God and repent to Him for the attitude we have toward others?” When we are ready to forgive and are waiting for our child to respond first, “God always forgives us but do we soften our heart first and respond to His calling ?” When we complain about the immaturity of our child and their misunderstanding of us, “is our spirit mature enough to control our temper and do we know the purpose of things which are arranged by God to happen……. Whatever we wish our child to do, think about do we do the same for our Heavenly Father? 

This is what happens in our life, nothing else but God. Put God first, He will bless us and take care of things for us. Then we will understand what it is to rely on God and how He loves us. Our children will understand how to rely on us and how we love them. We are holding the mirror for our child to reflect the love of God. This is reality. Hope we all see and understand the true love and the love of God.

With all our heart, our soul and our strength

I lived through a most difficult situation when I was in my mid forties. One day, I talked to one of my Christian friends and arranged a time for she and I to meditate together. She prayed for me at that time. A few days later she gave me words from the Bible. My life changed since then. The change was gradual, not accidental. At that time, I didn’t know God. When she gave me these words, while I was in this difficult situation, I already believed in God and believed He arranged the events that happend in my life.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Therefore you shall keep the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them. (Deuteronomy 7:11)

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

That is the first time I “heard” God speak to me. Later on I listened to online courses that my friend recommended and started to learn about God. Because those words so touched my heart, since then I learned with my heart and tried hard to do as I has been taught. In that time I didn’t know what was the meaning of “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” . But I tried to understand from the stories people shared and experiences in my daily life. In those few months of Bible reading, I heard God speak to me through His words sometimes. Gradually, I learned to listen to Him instead of reading the words. Now that I know Baha’u’llah, I listen what He has said, instead of reading what He wrote. God has touched my heart at the begining of learning about Him. It is God Who taught me to live with my heart, see and listen to the world with my heart, not my mind. During the time I followed Buddha’s teaching, I read sutras. After following God, I learned to listen from my heart. I realize what a difference when we use our heart, instead of our mind, to live and learn about spiritual things and God. Connecting with the spirit comes from our heart, as well as knowing the invisible God. God really deserves our love for the rest of our life with all our heart, our soul and our strength.

For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do—to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him— then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. (Deuteronomy 11:22~23)

In everyone’s life God tries to help us is “drive out all these nations from before you”. He also said “you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves.” This is His promise for us. Those nations represent our ego, our big self, our idle fancies and vain imaginations. This is what we fightfor in a spiritual battle. Our heart is like the lands of the nations. It belongs to God. Dispossess the nations means withdraw our heart from foe and let God possess our heart. When the land has been returned, the heart has been restored, then we can inherit the wealth of the land. The wealth which God rewards us is the richness of spiritual life. That is eternal life and the might of the Throne. It is His immeasurable grace.

O My Friend In Word! Ponder awhile. Hast thou ever heard that friend and foe should abide in one heart? Cast out then the stranger, that the Friend may enter His home. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh)

The wish which God has for us do we heard it? The love which God has toward us do we understand it?

Origin

All men’s hearts are seeking something to be bound to, for sustainment and hope. We search and search, but nowhere do we find a source of everlasting sustainment and un-fading hope on earth. This longing is in our true nature. It is something within us when we were created. Because of the longing, we have a desire to seek the source of our life. Because it is from our heart, by following our heart we have a direction to aim towards. When the desire to search start up, our spiritual journey begins. God wants us to know Him, because He is the source of life. God wants us to seek Him with all our heart, because He is the All-sufficer and He is the deliverer of hope.

No matter where the dewdrop falls, it flows back to the ocean eventually, although it may follow different paths according to conditions that exist. No matter where we were born, our life flows according to external and internal conditions, and the journey to the source of life will begin eventually. Where do we come from, where will we return to? Our body is from dust, so it returns to dust. Our soul is from God, so it returns to God. Do you ever wonder “who am I?” or “what is the meaning of our life?” This kind of curiosity is a gift from God.  It becomes the attraction force for us to follow and the direction to head to — to start the journey back to God. Parents give life to a child, so they can be surrounded by their family. This is the joyful family life of the visible world. God bestows spiritual life to mankind, so He can be surrounded by His children. This is the joyful family life of invisible world. It is heavenly.

So we need to learn about spiritual reality. We can’t say we know ourselves unless we know about our spiritual life. God sends down Divine teachers to us, so we can receive the knowledge of spiritual guidance. Divine teachers tell us — the spiritual life is more bountiful than our physical life. Spiritual life is our real life. It is eternal and the exaltation of it is beyond men’s imagination.

O servant of God! We revealed Ourself to thee once in thy sleep, but thou didst remain unaware. Remember now, that thou mayest perceive and hasten with heart and soul to the placeless Friend. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Tabernacle of Unity)

O friends! Have you heard God’s calling in your heart?

Turn toward God

When something surprises me, a miracle happens to me

I turn toward God to show my joy

And give thanks to Him for His love

 

When someone said something not nice to me

I turn toward God to express my feelings

And pray for forgiveness for the person who made the mistake

 

When I do something not nice to express my emotion

I turn toward God and be sorry for it

Adjust my attitude so my heart can soften to generate gratitude

 

When a challenge comes

I turn toward God and let Him know I will endure it

Face it so I can grow from it

 

When I have a worry and the mind goes crazy

I turn toward God and lay my burden in front of Him

Put my trust in Him and give a little bit of time to Him

So the things can have time to unfold

And I have time to learn to let go of it

 

When I see the world lacks something

I turn toward God and tell Him I willing do something about it

And make the change of it

 

When I feel mad or hurt

I turn toward God and praise Him

So His words can stay with me

And the power of words can release me from the emotion

And His Grace can fill my heart with His joy

 

God does not like to see us fight

Instead He like us be humble to come to His side

We won’t feel the breeze from the Spirit

Unless We open a window to let it in

We won’t receive the rain of mercy from the cloud

Unless We are ready let the soil be exposed underneath

 

Turn toward God

And open our heart

So the hardened soil is ready for water to soften in our heart

Build our faith toward God

Let Him arrange it and gradually unfolded in front of our eyes

And Let our patience become the reason to receive the Grace from His love

Praise be to God! And Glory be to God!

Let Him in our heart and trust Him be our God!

Life will be so different when we have a good relationship with our God

And are willing to love Him back from bottom of our heat.        

Love you Deeply

Dr. Gary Chapman in His book «The 5 Love Languages» mentions 5 ways people receive and give love.  Because the background of each individual is different, it affects how we receive and give love. Generally the ways we feel loved are through speaking kind and loving words, through spending quality time together, through giving and receiving of gifts, through loving touches or hugs, and through serving each other.

We all have been created differently, in ability and in conditionally. We grow up in different environments and are taught different values. In order to have a strong relationship between two people, they need to have a deeper understanding and acceptance of each other.  This includes understanding the different love languages.  In these five love languages, not everyone has the same sense of each type of expression. As the result, not every one uses the same love languages to express their love for others. We tend to express our love through the ways we have received it. But the problem is the way we express it is not necessarily the way others would receive it. For the love to flow between each other, it is essential to understand the love language your companion uses and give the right type of love language for that person.  For example, in Chinese culture, parents tend to express love through serving the family, instead of using words. In my married life, my husband would ask me if I love him in the first few years of marriage. I would think you should know that through what I do for you. Obviously, his way to receive love is different from the way I give it. When I don’t give the right type of love, his need won’t be filled and the relationship won’t be as secure.

In these five types of love language, the intensity of the need of each type in each individual is not the same. So, to be filled with right type of love for others will help them feel satisfied.  We all need to receive in order to fill our love container, and we need to receive constantly to keep the container full. If we don’t receive for a while, the container will drain out through  emotional consumption. This is how we experience human love.

Similarly, we can apply these five types of love language to the relationship we have with God. When we read and meditate upon God’s Words, it is the love words which God speaks to us. When we see or hear confirmation from someone, that is the love expression from God.

When we pray and have a conversation with God, it is the quality time we spend with God.  When we meditate to waiting for God’s inspiration and enjoy the present of God, it also the quality time we spend with God. When we are inspired by God and gain the knowledge of Him, the joy and peace within us or the miracle we experience, they are the grace of God and the gifts we receive from Him.

Human are gregarious creatures. We are all supported by each other in our living. The food we eat it supported by others, the farmers, processors, distributors and stores. The house we live was built by someone, and emotionally we are all supported by each other and it is unhealthy to be isolated socially. God arranges all this. He sustains us in our life. He serves us all the time.

Some of you might experience the joy of feeling touched by some spirit and we don’t know what that is. This is the love from God by touching our soul. When God touches our soul, it has the same feeling as when someone give us a hug. It is a spiritual touch.

So how do we express our love to God and build a deeper relationship with Him? We can use similar love languages by praying  and meditating often, so we can spend quality time with Him. We can appreciate and praise Him to express our loving words to Him. We can give up excessive attachment to material things as gift to Him. We can keep our minds fixed and grounded in God and follow His commandments. Remembering Him is the spiritual way we connect our heart with Him. We can serve people and serve His Cause to show our love for Him.

God’s love is very different from the love between mankind. The container of love for mankind need to constantly be filled, otherwise it will drain out.  The love of God is like a fountain, when we find it and maintain the condition, the flow of will keep coming and overflow for us to love other. Love is a feeling. We need be able to feel it in order to say we love. The love between mankind and God is similar too. We can not say we love Him if we don’t feel the love flow. The flow of love from God sustains our joy and peace, and it is the source of love so we can love others more. We can feel deeper grace when we have a deeper relationship with Him. God’s love is a hidden treasure and it has all. It really has it all.

Alláh-u-Abhá!

For every one of you his paramount duty is to choose for himself that on which no other may infringe and none usurp from him. Such a thing, and to this the Almighty is My witness, is the love of God, could ye but perceive it. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 123)

God’s Way

O CHILDREN OF ADAM!  Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory. Strive that your deeds may be cleansed from the dust of self and hypocrisy and find favor at the court of glory; for ere long the assayers of mankind shall, in the holy presence of the Adored One, accept naught but absolute virtue and deeds of stainless purity. This is the daystar of wisdom and of divine mystery that hath shone above the horizon of the divine will. Blessed are they that turn thereunto. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, 69)

By studying the Sacred Scriptures we can learn about the ways God exercises His Will in the world. In Chinese we might call it knowing the rules of God, or the natural order as God intended, which is in conformity with our higher spiritual nature. When we follow God’s rules, we will be protected and blessed.  On the other hand, when we do not follow the laws of our higher nature and go against God’s rules, difficulty will follow us. If we don’t know our own position and destiny in creation, we don’t know how noble we were created and we let the animal nature (lower nature) dominate our thoughts and behavior.

Copper into Gold

The principle in all that God does is the principle of Love. He created us to be noble and gives humans eternal life of the spirit.  He wants us to fulfill the purpose of our creation, and bear fruits in this life. To bear fruits means to bring forth virtues, qualities and perfections. When we act with these virtues, we shine with God’s glory like a bright ornament on the tree. We shine with the fruits of virtues, qualities and perfections of our Soul.

God will purify our soul and make us change from copper to shining gold. God is holy and pure above anything else. To get closer to His purity we need to purify ourselves. The journey to return to Him is the acquisition of pure qualities in our soul.  To purify our soul is metaphorically like the process of alchemy. It is a process described by medieval philosophers that involves high heat and water. The difficulties in our life are like heat and water. Our character is strengthened by all kinds of tests that we undergo in our lives. Our impurities are removed gradually in the process. The impurities in our soul are the result of our ego. This process of purification is to remove our ego, where it is an obstruction between us and God. This veil prevents us from knowing Him and understanding His goodwill toward us. It prevents us from seeing His beauty, also causes us to lose our noble identity. The purification process, or turning copper into gold is the mercy and compassion of God. It is His love, because only after we remove these impurities will we be able to see what He has prepared for us, the rich gifts and treasures that are hidden and waiting for us.

Know thou, therefore, that in every age and dispensation all Divine Ordinances are changed and transformed according to the requirements of the time, except the law of love, which, like unto a fountain, flows always and is never overtaken by change. This is of the wonderful mysteries which God has mentioned for His servants! Verily, He is the merciful, the compassionate!  (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 248)

The Wilderness (Difficulty)

In the Bible, we read the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt into the desert of Sinai, where they remained in the wilderness for 40 years. This was a period of purification, of learning to rely on God. For us, the wilderness is a situation where we are removed from our familiar surroundings and comforts, and we may go through sickness, hardship, suffer loss or betrayal. It may be due to our own mistakes, selfish or cruel actions which result in our being cut off from friends and support. The wilderness is the place where we meet God. It is the place He will rescue us out of the darkness. If we seek Him, we will find His light, and His love. Wilderness that is the mercy of God, the gift He gives us, the place He transforms us, the place we find Him and return to His protection. We must not try to escape from it. It is the living opportunity to see ourselves and know who we really are.

When we read Exodus, we can’t merely look at it as a story. There are many spiritual messages it carries with it. The wilderness is the work of salvation and healing from God.  The food (mana) He gave to the Israelites represents the spiritual food He provides, which is the Word of God. In the journey God showed His faithfulness to them through His power, His might, protection and grace.  When we follow his commandments, we will be protected under His laws. His covenant is His protection and the symbol of His love. His grace will pour down to us when we hold firmly to His covenant. The commandments of God are His strong wings, the sign of His protection. It also is the way to transform us.

In a symbolic sense, the period of living in the wilderness is the description of the difficult life which Israelites encountered due to their own disobedience and lack of faith. Because they lived for generations under controlled and oppressive conditions as slaves, mistrust became one of their characteristics. Mistrust generates a rebellious character. The wilderness is the time for transformation, the place where God does His work on us, changing the rebellious characteristics into faithfulness through His grace. He sets our soul free from the oppression of ego. He heals us and lets our soul be healthy again. So our selfish characteristics can be transformed into nobility, arrogance can be turned into humility, bowing down before Him.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  (John 15:16)

O SON OF BEING!  Walk in My statutes for love of Me and deny thyself that which thou desirest if thou seekest My pleasure.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words 38)

Forgiveness, Humility

O MY SERVANT! Purge thy heart from malice and, innocent of envy, enter the divine court of holiness. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, part two 42)

Forgiveness is the sign of compassion.  God forgives us all the time and He bestows His grace on us continuously. He never leaves us alone, no matter how unfaithful we are. God wants us to forgive others as well and have a positive influence on others with compassion, forgiveness and friendship. Our soul can be pure through forgiveness and still be able to give. This is how we can get closer to God. We all encounter someone that makes us uncomfortable or hurts us in our life, to forgive is the lesson everyone needs to learn!

A reason we may have difficulty forgiving others is our ego, when we are too proud and don’t want to admit our limitations and our own fault.  It’s our pride that causes the trouble. It is an unpleasant feeling that stops us from apologizing. When we realize our own limitations it will help us understand others limitations too. Everyone has different abilities and weaknesses. When we accept our own ability and weakness, then we can be open minded to accept others’ abilities and weaknesses.   We can focus on the positive qualities that each of us have, and praise God and be thankful for everything God does for us. Humility leads us to being grateful. To be humble and grateful will please God and increase our blessings.

Service in the Path of Justice

Without forgiveness and compassion will not bring out the spirit of justice. Justice is more than just right and wrong or good and bad. Each one of us carries our own past, which contributes to making us who we are. We are affected not only by our own past, but that of previous generations. It is the burden from our family, from our society, from our ancestors. It is the accumulation of ideas, values, and often spiritual ignorance from excessive attachment of earthly desires. These are the conditions that cause our suffering and misunderstanding of each other. We all carry our own story in our life and have problems to deal with in our path. If we only focus on our own story and not the cares of others, then we live in our own vain imaginations, which will never help us awaken, never ease our struggles. Unless we have a better understanding of the burden we are carrying and what make us suffer, or we will have trouble to understand what others suffer, too.

O SON OF SPIRIT! The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt 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. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes. (Bahá’u’lláh , The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 2)

We can only gain our own knowledge through understanding  our own struggles. And this knowledge will help us have a better understanding of humanity as well. Through understanding the troubles affecting humanity we can see ourselves on the same path and connected to others. In order to move our collective life forward and created a better environment, our community and our society needs this kind of understanding. Service in the path of God requires the promotion of justice, to help others have a better understanding of humanity, so we can all live in a more just society.

Be fair to yourselves and to others, that the evidences of justice may be revealed, through your deeds, among Our faithful servants. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 128)

Justice comes from the teachings of God in every age, from the laws of God. It also comes from understanding our own suffering and humanity.  So by showing obedience, forgiveness and humility, we show justice. By showing understanding for others is the way we show our love. It will help us to connect heart to heart and remove hatred, and be willing to share.

Prove yourselves worthy of his trust and confidence in you, and withhold not from the poor the gifts which the grace of God hath bestowed upon you. He, verily, shall recompense the charitable, and doubly repay them for what they have bestowed. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 128)

The gifts which God gives us are for everyone. If we receive a gift from God, we need to share it. The gifts from God could be wealth, power or ability. When we have more money, we can give and help take care of the poor and weak. When a person has power, they can help the oppressed.  When we have an ability to do something more, then we should do more with the capacity we have. These are signs of the spirit of service. Justice can be performed through service to mankind and service to God.

O MY SERVANTS! Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding! For results depend upon means, and the grace of God shall be all-sufficient unto you. Trees that yield no fruit have been and will ever be for the fire.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, part two 80)

God acts in our life so that we may become a tree that bears fruits. He is an expert of gardener. He knows when to provide us water and when to trim away unnecessary branches. The unnecessary branches are the attachments we have to the material world. When God takes certain material belongings away from us it is uncomfortable. If we fall into poverty, sickness, lose power, or lose something or someone we love dearly it is an act of God to remove our attachments. He is helping us so we can bear fruits in our life of the spirit. If we don’t forgive each other, we will continue to have difficulty in our life as well. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)”. We must understand our own suffering in difficulty, so we can have a better understanding of humanity and be just to others. This is what God wants us to learn. The way God works is often through the difficulties we face as we learn about Him, to remove our attachments, to transform our characters, to understand humanity through our own struggles, have forgiveness and connect human hearts to one another. These are the ways of God and the purpose is for us to bear fruits and show His glory.

 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  (John 15:5)

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.  (John 15:8)

Prayer

I am a sinner, O my Lord, and Thou art the Ever-Forgiving.  As soon as I recognized Thee, I hastened to attain the exalted court of Thy loving-kindness.  Forgive me, O my Lord, my sins which have hindered me from walking in the ways of Thy good pleasure, and from attaining the shores of the ocean of Thy oneness.

There is no one, O my Lord, who can deal bountifully with me to whom I can turn my face, and none who can have compassion on me that I may crave his mercy.  Cast me not out, I implore Thee, of the presence of Thy grace, neither do Thou withhold from me the outpourings of Thy generosity and bounty. 

~ Bahá’u’lláh~