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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~

Ways to Know God

God’s Unknowable Essence

The difference in station between man and the Divine Reality is thousands upon thousands of times greater than the difference between vegetable and animal. And that which a human being would conjure up in his mind is but the fanciful image of his human condition, it doth not encompass God’s reality but rather is encompassed by it. That is, man graspeth his own illusory conceptions, but the Reality of Divinity can never be grasped: It, Itself, encompasseth all created things, and all created things are in Its grasp. That Divinity which man doth imagine for himself existeth only in his mind, not in truth. Man, however, existeth both in his mind and in truth; thus man is greater than that fanciful reality which he is able to imagine. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá , Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 21.4)

The difference between conditions in the world of being is an obstacle to comprehension. The spirit of the lower beings in nature, such as minerals and plants, can’t understand the spirit of the higher beings such as animals and humans. How can humans, who are a phenomenal reality created by God, know their Creator, Who is a Preexistent Reality? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tells us we can only know God by His qualities and attributes. “We know Him by His attributes. We know Him by His signs. We know Him by His names. We know not what the reality of the sun is, but we know the sun by the rays, by the heat, by its efficacy and penetration. We recognize the sun by its bounty and effulgence, but as to what constitutes the reality of the solar energy, that is unknowable to us. The attributes characterizing the sun, however, are knowable. If we wish to come in touch with the reality of Divinity, we do so by recognizing its phenomena, its attributes and traces, which are widespread in the universe. ” (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 422)

Lauded and glorified art Thou, O Lord, my God! How can I make mention of Thee, assured as I am that no tongue, however deep its wisdom, can befittingly magnify Thy name, nor can the bird of the human heart, however great its longing, ever hope to ascend into the heaven of Thy majesty and knowledge.

If I describe Thee, O my God, as Him Who is the All-Perceiving, I find myself compelled to admit that They Who are the highest Embodiments of perception have been created by virtue of Thy behest. And if I extol Thee as Him Who is the All-Wise, I, likewise, am forced to recognize that the Well Springs of wisdom have themselves been generated through the operation of Thy Will. And if I proclaim Thee as the Incomparable One, I soon discover that they Who are the inmost essence of oneness have been sent down by Thee and are but the evidences of Thine handiwork. And if I acclaim Thee as the Knower of all things, I must confess that they Who are the Quintessence of knowledge are but the creation and instruments of Thy Purpose.

Far, far from Thy glory be what mortal man can affirm of Thee, or attribute unto Thee, or the praise with which he can glorify Thee! Whatever duty Thou hast prescribed unto Thy servants of extolling to the utmost Thy majesty and glory is but a token of Thy grace unto them, that they may be enabled to ascend unto the station conferred upon their own inmost being, the station of the knowledge of their own selves.

No one else besides Thee hath, at any time, been able to fathom Thy mystery, or befittingly to extol Thy greatness. Unsearchable and high above the praise of men wilt Thou remain for ever. There is none other God but Thee, the Inaccessible, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient, the Holy of Holies. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 1)

How Shall We Know God?

There are several ways we can learn about God. (1)We can learn about God by learning about the Prophets  and Manifestations, because the Reality of Manifestations of God is that of clear mirrors which reflect the Sun of Reality—the Essence of Oneness, with its infinite perfections and attributes. (2)Also, we can learn about God from the creatures, including ourselves, because in every created things we can see the radiance of God, signs and attributes of God. (3)Furthermore, we can learn about God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit while we have strong faith. This will depend on the depth of the relationship we have with God. Here let’s look at them separately.

1. Through Prophets, Manifestations of God

The Holy Writings tell  us that when we see the Sun of Reality, the perfect mirror, when we come to know the infinite perfections and attributes of the Prophets and Manifestations, we will learn about God.  Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. (John14:8~10)

When we read the Bible, what we must try to understand is its spiritual meaning. By understanding the spiritual meaning which Jesus trys to show us we can learn about God.  Everything Jesus did has a spiritual meaning behind it. When we see His beauty, that is the Father’s beauty; whatever He spoke, that is what the Father spoke; His will is Father’s will. The Father spoke and did His will through Jesus and showed Himself to us. That is to say, if we are not attached to the figure of Jesus, we can see spirit of Father like we see Father Himself. It is similar, the profits and manifestations of God come in different time to show mankind the spirit of Father and spoke to us through the perfect spiritual human been. Holy books and Writings tell us that there is no direct cord to connect between mankind and God, that is why we have to know God through profits and. They look no different from normal person, but the spiritual level are beyond human can understand.

The door of the knowledge of the Ancient of Days being thus closed in the face of all beings, the Source of infinite grace, according to His saying, “His grace hath transcended all things; My grace hath encompassed them all,” hath caused those luminous Gems of Holiness to appear out of the realm of the spirit, in the noble form of the human temple, and be made manifest unto all men, that they may impart unto the world the mysteries of the unchangeable Being, and tell of the subtleties of His imperishable Essence. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 19)

And since there can be no tie of direct intercourse to bind the one true God with His creation, and no resemblance whatever can exist between the transient and the Eternal, the contingent and the Absolute, He hath ordained that in every age and dispensation a pure and stainless Soul be made manifest in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. Unto this subtle, this mysterious and ethereal Being He hath assigned a twofold nature; the physical, pertaining to the world of matter, and the spiritual, which is born of the substance of God Himself. He hath, moreover, conferred upon Him a double station. The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition: “Manifold and mysterious is My relationship with God. I am He, Himself, and He is I, Myself, except that I am that I am, and He is that He is.” And in like manner, the words: “Arise, O Muhammad, for lo, the Lover and the Beloved are joined together and made one in Thee.” He similarly saith: “There is no distinction whatsoever between Thee and Them, except that They are Thy Servants.” The second station is the human station, exemplified by the following verses: “I am but a man like you.” “Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?” These Essences of Detachment, these resplendent Realities are the channels of God’s all-pervasive grace. Led by the light of unfailing guidance, and invested with supreme sovereignty, They are commissioned to use the inspiration of Their words, the effusions of Their infallible grace and the sanctifying breeze of Their Revelation for the cleansing of every longing heart and receptive spirit from the dross and dust of earthly cares and limitations. Then, and only then, will the Trust of God, latent in the reality of man, emerge, as resplendent as the rising Orb of Divine Revelation, from behind the veil of concealment, and implant the ensign of its revealed glory upon the summits of men’s hearts. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 27)

2. Through Creation and Ourselves

When we look at the world and within men’s souls, we see wonderful signs of the divine perfections, which are clear and apparent; for the reality of things proves the Universal Reality. The Reality of Divinity may be compared to the sun, which from the height of its magnificence shines upon all the horizons; and each horizon, and each soul, receives a share of its radiance. If this light and these rays did not exist, beings would not exist; all beings express something and partake of some ray and portion of this light. The splendors of the perfections, bounties and attributes of God shine forth and radiate from the reality of the Perfect Man—that is to say, the Unique One, the supreme Manifestation of God. Other beings receive only one ray, but the supreme Manifestation is the mirror for this Sun, which appears and becomes manifest in it, with all its perfections, attributes, signs and wonders. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions 59)

There is sign of God in every created things, the Glory of God can be seen in every creature can.  When we see rocks, we think about solid; mountains, we think about firmly; water, we think about soft and flexible to adjust in condition; oceans, we thinks about inclusive heart; flower, beauty and fragrance; grass and tree in gale, flexible and easy to fold; sun, worm and vitality; ants, serve others…… These are all God’s Glory!

Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self. Alone of all created things man hath been singled out for so great a favor, so enduring a bounty. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 27)

Bahá’u’lláh has delivered God’s message, “Man is My mystery, and I am his mystery.” He also said “in your own selves: will ye not, then, behold the signs of God? …And be ye not like those who forget God, and whom He hath therefore caused to forget their own selves. …He hath known God who hath known himself.” (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 90) How shall we lean about God through our inner self? Here what ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has told us, “But on the other hand, when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom. …on the contrary, the spiritual nature of the soul has been so strengthened that it holds the material side in subjection, then does the man approach the Divine; his humanity becomes so glorified that the virtues of the Celestial Assembly are manifested in him; he radiates the Mercy of God, he stimulates the spiritual progress of mankind, for he becomes a lamp to show light on their path.”  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks 31)

When we continually receive the influence from the higher spirit, we will detach ourselves form the material world gradually. When our soul away from the lower nature characters, we will develop noble and perfection. Detached from the material world and discover the quality of our higher nature and act through our soul, this is the way to show God’s Glory and see God’s Glory. This is another way to learn about God. Through practice of pure our soul and act it our through action is the way to verify of the truth. And this is true understanding of the truth.   The more we follow the commandment firmly, the more our mind will be purify and the more shining our inner mirror to reflect the attribute of God, the Glory of God. This also is the way to discover the hidden treasure inside us, the wonder and mystery of God.

O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenmnet from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words 13)

3. Through the Holy Spirit’s Guidance

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John14:26~27)

Having relationship with God, feeling His love, this love relationship in the faith need to be developed through the guidance of Holy Spirit. When we love and been loved, there is very important element “thanksgiving”. In the love relationship with God, this is key element too. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told us, “In this day, to thank God for His bounties consisteth in possessing a radiant heart, and a soul open to the promptings of the spirit. This is the essence of thanksgiving. (Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá 153.1)

When we are willing to possessing a radiant heart, we are opening our heart for the guidance and receive influence. We love Him, we will follow His teaching and obedient to His commend and will.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:23~24)

Learning to heard the inner voice from our heart (a thought from our heart), and follow the inspiration to do things, also put down (be obedient) the inner voice don’t want us to do. Through the guidance of Holy spirit, we learn how God doing things, what He like and what He don’t like, we experience the wonder and miracle, we receive grace and comfort with joy and  peace. We observe everything everyday and discover what He is doing, through the cause and effect we learn His will. This type of love relationship is similar to the love relationship we have toward our parents. To be able to feel this love, we need to learn through practice. It just like we learn about someone through reading his/her books, observing a person or living with that person, the depth of learning a person is different in this three cases. We will know more about God definitely, when we be able to feel the spiritual connection with Him. This is why we need to practice to have deeper relationship with God.

The way to practice need daily work. We pray (conversation with God), waiting for God (quietly seat with Him and waiting for the guidance or let Him influence in spirit), and Holy books reading (eat spirit food and wait for His spiritual influence or review something to us).  Feel with all our heart, we will “see” His guidance. The relationship with God and the love of God is the stronghold of our soul. When we love someone we will try to know his/her heart. We learn about love of God in the same way. How that feel everyone is different, it is wonder can’t be describe in words. This kind of “knowing” is unit. It is not the knowledge can put in the words. It is the hidden treasure.

But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá , Some Answered Questions, 55)

Why Many People Don’t Know God

When we turn our soul toward material world and busy at pursuiting of honor and wealth, we turn away from God. Our mirror reflect only material world when we turn toward it. This is the attachment of the material world, and this prevents us to “see” God, to know Him. The obstruction between us and God is like layers veil, like thick clouds and like dense dust.  Unless we remove these obstructions, He will remain hidden from our eyes.

These energies with which the Day Star of Divine bounty and Source of heavenly guidance hath endowed the reality of man lie, however, latent within him, even as the flame is hidden within the candle and the rays of light are potentially present in the lamp. The radiance of these energies may be obscured by worldly desires even as the light of the sun can be concealed beneath the dust and dross which cover the mirror. Neither the candle nor the lamp can be lighted through their own unaided efforts, nor can it ever be possible for the mirror to free itself from its dross. It is clear and evident that until a fire is kindled the lamp will never be ignited, and unless the dross is blotted out from the face of the mirror it can never represent the image of the sun nor reflect its light and glory. (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 27)

Every one of us all with ability to know Him, the ability is hidden in our essence of our soul. It is the gift which God has give to mankind. But this ability need to unfold from receiving influence of higher spirit. This is why we need turn toward the source of influence. The source of influence in this revelation is Baha’u’llha.  When we open our heart to him, the mystery power will influence us and gradually we will be able to receive the guidance of Holy Spirit. We will learn about ourselves more, as well as God. This is the meaning of “God is in us” or “knowing ourselves is knowing God”.

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man. (Ephesians 3:16)

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14)

…the spirit of man is not illumined and quickened through material sources. It is not resuscitated by investigating phenomena of the world of matter. The spirit of man is in need of the protection of the Holy Spirit Just as he advances by progressive stages from the mere physical world of being into the intellectual realm, so must he develop upward in moral attributes and spiritual graces. In the process of this attainment he is ever in need of the bestowals of the Holy Spirit. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá , Foundation of world Unit, P.58)

There are many way to know God ~ Learning about the spirit which profits and manifestation of God try to show us, learning about our higher spirit nature, learning from the guidance of Holy spirit, learning about love through building the relationship with God. Only rely on Holy Writing to know God is not enough. The love of God is the feeling of heart , it is not the knowledge can be describe in words. Living inside the guidance of Holy Spirit is living inside the love of God. It is secure, reliable and warm. It is the power, the forth to serve, to be able to scarify. This only can be developed with all our heart. This is the wonder and most sweet fountain in the spiritual journey. This is the treasure of treasure, mystery of mystery. This is hidden behind the material world.

Praise to God! Thanks to God!

O Salmán! The door of the knowledge of the Ancient Being hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, closed in the face of men. No man’s understanding shall ever gain access unto His holy court. As a token of His mercy, however, and as a proof of His loving-kindness, He hath manifested unto men the Day Stars of His divine guidance, the Symbols of His divine unity, and hath ordained the knowledge of these sanctified Beings to be identical with the knowledge of His own Self. Whoso recognizeth them hath recognized God. Whoso hearkeneth to their call, hath hearkened to the Voice of God, and whoso testifieth to the truth of their Revelation, hath testified to the truth of God Himself. Whoso turneth away from them, hath turned away from God, and whoso disbelieveth in them, hath disbelieved in God. Every one of them is the Way of God that connecteth this world with the realms above, and the Standard of His Truth unto every one in the kingdoms of earth and heaven. They are the Manifestations of God amidst men, the evidences of His Truth, and the signs of His glory.  (Bahá’u’lláh , Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh 21)

The Mindset for Prayer

O SON OF SPIRIT! Ask not of Me that which We desire not for thee, then be content with what We have ordained for thy sake, for this is that which profiteth thee, if therewith thou dost content thyself. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 18)

Many of us pray often or say prayers every day, but it seems to us that the prayer has not been answered. Here let us look at what we say in our prayers that might please God and have the prayer answered. First, let us look at two passages from Holy Scritures to get some ideas and see what is essential and what kind of attitude we should have when we are facing God.

Pray then like this:“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13

Thou seest me, O my God, bowed down in lowliness, humbling myself before Thy commandments, submitting to Thy sovereignty, trembling at the might of Thy dominion, fleeing from Thy wrath, entreating Thy grace, relying upon Thy forgiveness, shaking with awe at Thy fury. I implore Thee with a throbbing heart, with streaming tears and a yearning soul, and in complete detachment from all things, to make Thy lovers as rays of light across Thy realms, and to aid Thy chosen servants to exalt Thy Word, that their faces may turn beauteous and bright with splendour, that their hearts may be filled with mysteries, and that every soul may lay down its burden of sin. Guard them then from the aggressor, from him who hath become a shameless and blasphemous doer of wrong.  (Selections From the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 190)

Jesus said, “Hallowed be your name”,This is a pious and respectful attitude. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Let’s pause and think about what this means? What is God’s will? What would it be like if God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven? To do God’s will is to follow His commandments.  God’s Kingdom is an exalted, sanctified, holy, selfless Kingdom, isn’t it? Give us this day our daily bread.” What is the daily bread for our spirit? It is the words of God. To feed our mind (spirit) with the Word of God and let our mind consume it daily instead of earthly thoughts. Our mind is like a mouth through which we take food for our spirit.  We pray for the spiritual food daily, we pray for a message to enlighten us everyday. We ask for the guidance through Holy Scriptures (the prayer may be answered when we read and understand more about the meaning of the Holy Writings). Every day we eat the right food for our life of the spirit, then we help our life of the spirit grow stronger. Every day the situation is different, so we need to ask for guidance every day. God will give us different words, admonitions, encouragement or instructions. We ask humbly and patiently waiting for  guidance through mediation. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. We need to reflect on ourselves, be honest to look at what we need to improve or can do better every day. When we do something wrong do not try to escape, do not fear and sincerely ask forgiveness from God and ask for divine assistance. When we really want to make the change and improve ourselves, Divine guidance will be like a pouring shower. That is the strength, that is the spiritual force and power, and that is God’s grace. It is our sincerity that lets us remove the veil and lets the spiritual force be received.  It is our determination to follow the path that allows us to have guidance from the Holy Spirit. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Before our spirit of life becomes strong, we need protection from God. We ask help to stay aware, so we won’t fall into temptation and evil tests. But sometimes the test is from God, so we can examine ourselves to continue moving toward the goal, to develop the qualities of our soul.

O SON OF MAN! Transgress not thy limits, nor claim that which beseemeth thee not. Prostrate thyself before the countenance of thy God, the Lord of might and power. ( The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 24)

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. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 26)

From the second prayer, we can see the attitude which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá tried to show us as  lowliness, humbleness, submission, trembling at the might. “I implore Thee with a throbbing heart, with streaming tears and a yearning soul, and in complete detachment from all things, to make Thy lovers as rays of light across Thy realms, and to aid Thy chosen servants to exalt Thy Word, that their faces may turn beauteous and bright with splendour, that their hearts may be filled with mysteries, and that every soul may lay down its burden of sin.”  This prayer does not contain earthly desires, it’s only aim is for the qualities of the spirit.  When we try to detach from secular things, acquire virtues and qualities of the soul, then a pure and radiant heart will gradually appear in us. “Their hearts may be filled with mysteries, and that every soul may lay down its burden of sin.” A pure and radiant heart is like a shining and clean mirror, it reflects the mysteries of the spirit through our soul.

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

O SON OF MAN! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My way accord with thine? (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 56)

From these two Writings, we understand what God likes to see from our prayer. It is our spiritual growth and having a pure and radiant heart. He wants us to bring ourselves to account each day, to seek to improve and attain virtues and spiritual qualities in our life. We must not be afraid to face our own weakness, come to receive daily guidance from the words of God, ask assistance to develop our strengths, ask protection from the temptations in the world. He loves us so much and He wants to do this with us no matter how fragile we are, as long as we are not giving up. He will help us become stronger and stronger in our soul, and bring us closer and closer to Him.

O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 31)

So if our prayer has not been answered, maybe we should think about what our attitude toward it is and what we were asking in the prayer. When we make mistakes, instead of avoiding it, we should be brave enough to face it and ask forgiveness. This is the attitude of repentance with dedication. When others misunderstand or mistreat us, we avoid conflict and choose understanding and patience. Then we can bear the hurtful feeling and ask healing from God. God likes to see us choose unity instead of arguing or blaming.   When we are thrilled by what we have received, thankful with excitement like we got a surprise gift, we should tell Him how happy and thankful we are, even though He already knows how we feel. God likes to be surround by the joy and intimacy we show to Him. When we understand the truth from our life experiences or from the Writings, we hold the precious gift and tell Him how excited we feel and how valuable is the gift we received. Let Him share our feelings for the gift and grace He gave us. When we encounter difficulty, either for ourselves or others, we ask for guidance and think about what test He has for us. Instead of paying attention to what happened,  think about what virtue He wants us to acquire through this test. Pay no attention to who is right or who is wrong, and focus on what spiritual quality we can gain. Usually the problem will be solved and the difficulty will be removed when we recognize the problem and are willing put in our effort to make the change. If we pray for strength and make the change, our prayer will be answered and the difficulty will be removed by  God. Don’t just ask God to remove the difficulty in the beginning, it won’t work in many cases or the problem will keep coming back. To be obedient and forgive are the most challenging lessons we need to learn. To be obedient to God’s commandment and forgive others are battles for our ego and our own self. We can call out loud for assistance for these battles. We can keep using the Words of God to give us power and force. This is detachment. This is puting away our pride and being humble enough to learn. This is putting down the mask we have been wearing for so long. This is tearing down the strong and high wall we have built around ourselves for protection. This is sacrificing our own ease and comfort to serve others. This is performing justice and putting effort in pursuing the equality of mankind…These are the prayers which God likes to hear, and these are the prayers that will be answered.

“O MY FRIENDS! Prefer not your will to Mine, never desire that which I have not desired for you, and approach Me not with lifeless hearts, defiled with worldly desires and cravings. Would ye but sanctify your souls, ye would at this present hour recall that place and those surroundings, and the truth of My utterance should be made evident unto all of you.” (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 19)

O SON OF MAN! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it. (The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh 51)

Prayer for Protection

God, my God!  Shield Thy trusted servants from the evils of self and passion, protect them with the watchful eye of Thy loving-kindness from all rancor, hate and envy, shelter them in the impregnable stronghold of Thy care and, safe from the darts of doubtfulness, make them the manifestations of Thy glorious signs, illumine their faces with the effulgent rays shed from the Dayspring of Thy divine unity, gladden their hearts with the verses revealed from Thy holy kingdom, strengthen their loins by Thine all-swaying power that cometh from Thy realm of glory.  Thou art the All-Bountiful, the Protector, the Almighty, the Gracious.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)