For the love of God...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

"In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or Hell, or hope for bounty or heaven... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God."

(Abdu'l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 462)

I pray every day, but somehow I do not always feel that I am doing it very well. The above quote sums up my thoughts exactly. I think I don't always pray with a purity of heart that truly represents my love for God. Often, my mind even wanders while I am praying and I know that can't be right. ;-)

I think I need to learn to maybe just breathe, be silent and meditate for a while before I even start praying. That might help. I really want to get better at it.

I strongly believe that praying is important. That is how you grow closer to God and develop spiritual qualities - in those quiet reflective moments of communion with the Almighty. Whether they be written prayers recited from a book or spontaneous ones free-flowing from my heart, praying is truly a gift from God.

I have some quotes on praying below. What do you think? Do you have any thoughts on praying or quotes to share from other traditions?

"The wisdom of prayer is this: That it causeth a connection between the servant and the True One, because in that state (i.e., prayer) man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion. The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing; that is why with every soul who is attracted to the Kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for His mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 683)

"And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

(King James Bible, Matthew)

"Eating or sacrificing, giving gifts,
Praying or fasting, let it all be done
For Me, as Mine. So shalt thou free thyself
From Karmabandh, the chain which holdeth men
To good and evil issue, so shalt come
Safe unto Me- when thou art quit of flesh-
By faith and abdication joined to Me!"

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"Recite what has been- revealed to thee of the Book; and be steadfast in prayer; verily, prayer forbids sin and wrong; and surely the mention of God is greater; for God knows what ye do."

(The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 29 - The Spider)

"We worship this earth; we worship those heavens;
We worship those good things that stand between (the earth and
the heavens) and that are worthy of sacrifice and prayer and are
to be worshipped by the faithful man."

(The Zend-Avesta, Khorda Avesta - Book of Common Prayer pt. 1)

"To forgive, is the highest most beautiful form of love" - Robert Muller

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Today's topic is forgiveness. Another very elusive one. Who do you look to for forgiveness? God? A Priest? A Rabbi? Other people? Yourself? Noone?

To me, God is who I look to for forgiveness. If I hurt someone else, I may ask them for forgiveness as well, but even if they forgive me I have to forgive myself and still ask God for forgiveness as well. I don't think He forgives me just because someone else does.

When I am praying, sometimes I pray for forgiveness, and sometimes I get overwhelmed with emotion. When this happens, it feels the most right. It feels honest and afterwards I become much more content and at peace with myself. Other times, when I am just kinda going thru the motions, I don't reach the same state of contentment.

What do you think about forgiveness? Any thoughts or other quotes from your holy writings to share?
"Thus have We recounted unto you the tales of the one true God, and sent down unto you the things He had preordained, that haply ye may ask forgiveness of Him, may return unto Him, may truly repent, may realize your misdeeds, may shake off your slumber, may be roused from your heedlessness, may atone for the things that have escaped you, and be of them that do good."

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 130)

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.

5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour."

(King James Bible, Ephesians)

"And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

9:3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

9:4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 9:5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?"

(King James Bible, Matthew)

"Not before thy elder, Arjun, but in yonder purple field,
'Gainst thy rival and thy foeman use thy warlike sword and shield,
Render honour to thy elder, quench thy hasty impious wrath,
Render faith to holy sastra, leave not virtue's sacred path,
Bow before thy virtuous elder as before the gods in heaven,
Sheathe thy sword and quell thy passion, be thy hasty sin forgiven!"

(Hindu, Mababharata (R. Dutt, abridged tr))

"Those who bear the Throne, and all who are round about it, hymn the praises of their Lord and believe in Him and ask forgiveness for those who believe (saying): Our Lord! Thou comprehendest all things in mercy and knowledge, therefor forgive those who repent and follow Thy way. Ward off from them the punishment of hell."

(The Qur'an (Pickthall tr), Sura 40 - The Forgiving One)

"For the reward of virtue and the forgiveness of sins, I do (deeds
of) righteousness for the love of my soul. May all virtuousness
of all good ones of the earth of seven climes reach the width
of the earth, the length of the rivers, the height of the sun
in their original form. May it be righteous, live long. Thus may
it come as I wish.
Ashem Vohu...!!"

(The Zend-Avesta, Khorda Avesta - Book of Common Prayer pt. 1)

He will guide you into all truth...

Monday, April 12, 2010

One of the common threads in all major world religions is the idea of a "return" or "new incarnation" of a future prophet or manifestation of God. Moses, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster and Mohammad ALL spoke of this. Sometimes they made it sound like they themselves would return and sometimes they made it sound like someone other than themselves would come. They also often spoke of those who have come before them, in addition to whomever might come after.

Do people KNOW this? If they did, I can't imagine it would be a big leap to recognize the essential unity of these major world religions. Could it? What do you think? Does anyone else have some quotes or thoughts on this topic to share?

"7:13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

7:14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."

(King James Bible, Daniel)

"14:25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.

14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."

(King James Bible, John)

"When Righteousness
Declines, O Bharata! when Wickedness
Is strong, I rise, from age to age, and take
Visible shape, and move a man with men,
Succouring the good, thrusting the evil back,
And setting Virtue on her seat again."

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

"We gave Moses the Book and we followed him up with other apostles, and we gave Jesus the son of Mary manifest signs and aided him with the Holy Spirit."

(The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 2 - The Heifer)

"I am not the first Buddha who came upon earth, nor shall I be the last. In due time another Buddha will arise .... He shall reveal to you the same eternal truths which I have taught you. He will preach to you His religion, glorious in its origin, glorious at the climax and glorious at the goal, in the spirit and in the letter."

(Buddha - Sermon of the Great Passing)

Purity of heart... of mind... of spirit... of body...

Friday, April 9, 2010

I have had, what could you call it - glimpses - into what living a life of purity would be like. There have been times when I felt "connected" to a Presence SO much greater than myself, when I truly let the distractions of this world slip away and I focus only on the amazing beauty of around me. Those are truly moments of awe in which I feel that I actually "get it".

This is another fascinating subject to me in that there are so many aspects of purity that you could strive in your life to develop. Thus the title of this post. What is important to you? Purity of heart? Purity of the body? Purity of motive? Purity of Spirit? All of the above?

Personally, I think they are all connected from the point of "action". I am striving to bring more purity into every action that I take in this world - action for the world, rather than for myself. I think selflessness in a spirit of service is the key. Removing the "ego" and just trying my best to bring some sort of light into the life of every person I meet. That would be "purity" to me.

Here are some quotes from the world religions on "Purity". Please share your quotes and thoughts.

Let not the things of the body obscure the celestial light of the spirit, so that, by the Divine Bounty, you may enter with the children of God into His Eternal Kingdom.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 44)

Life is easy enough for the shameless, the crow-hero type of man, offensive, swaggering, impudent and depraved. But it
is hard for the man of conscience, always striving after purity, alert, reserved, pure of behaviour and discerning. 244, 245

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 1 (tr. J. Richards))

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

(King James Bible, Matthew) purity
Living unsullied and enlightened, binds
The sinless Soul to happiness and truth;
And Passion, being kin to appetite,
And breeding impulse and propensity,
Binds the embodied Soul, O Kunti's Son!

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

Constant action overcomes cold; being still overcomes heat. Purity
and stillness give the correct law to all under heaven.

(Tao, Tao Te Ching (J. Legge tr))

'Purity is for man, next to life, the greatest good, that purity,
O Zarathushtra, that is in the Religion of Mazda for him who cleanses
his own self with good thoughts, words, and deeds

(The Zend-Avesta, Avesta - Vendidad)

Have Mercy upon us all...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

So the subject for this weekend is "Mercy". I truly do believe that God's mercy is all around us all the time. Think about that... what an absolute blessing that is! God's mercy showering down upon us - all of us - all the time! And to me, the Word of God, from all the heavenly Manifestations, which is what this blog is about, is that Mercy.

" is evident that the divine teachings are the heavenly grace and the showers of the mercy of God, which purify the hearts of men." (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 333)

However, I feel that, sometimes, I am not always "open" to these merciful blessings. The divine teachings were sent by God so that we can strive to purify our hearts and souls and grow closer to Him. And we grow closer to Him by putting His teachings into action. If I am not interested in the blessings of the divine teachings or am just too caught up in this material existence to put them into practice, then I won't be able to benefit from this wonderful and precious Mercy from God.

"O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant." (Baha'u'llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

But today, on my 40th Birthday, I am very aware of the mercies from God that has brought me to this place in my life. There are many things that came together to enable me to reach this level of understanding on my journey and I am thankful for every one of them (My mom and dad, Jeremy, my friends, my home, my life experiences). Now, it is just a matter of keeping myself aligned with the principles that I have learned so that the showers of God's mercy can continue to refresh and gladden me! Here are some more writing on mercy from world religions...

"His Holiness (Christ) declared that the Father "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." The meaning of this declaration is that the mercy of God encircles all mankind; that not a single individual is deprived of the mercy of God; and no soul is denied the resplendent bestowals of God." (Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 105)

"52:7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.

52:8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

52:9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints." (King James Bible, Psalms)

"7,9 Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God; the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations" (Torah (Law), Devarim (Deuteronomy))

"And do not evil in the earth after it has been righted; and call upon Him with fear and earnestness; verily, the mercy of God is nigh unto those who do well." (The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 7 - Al Aaraf)

"7. Praise be to the merciful Lord who bestows rewards for meritorious
deeds on those who obey his commands according to his will, and
at last will liberate even the wicked from (the torture of) hell
and will embellish with purity the whole creation." (The Zend-Avesta, Khorda Avesta - Book of Common Prayer pt. 1)

We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

That quote in the subject line is from Helen Keller. Patience is a fascinating thing. I had a quasi-breakdown on Monday because I felt like no one really understood me or even cared. I felt that I was just spinning my wheels trying to make a difference and do things that mattered. Basically, in a nutshell, I was being whiny and impatient and VERY attached to results. Not very "present moment" at all.

Then, after calming down, centering myself, and having a nice talk with Jeremy (thanks Jeremy), many of the things that I had been so concerned about started to turn around immediately. It was very ironic timing to say the least. I had a faint glimmer, if ever so slight, that maybe I just needed to remain patient, and not get so caught up in the fruits of my labor. I need to remember not to depend on the future for fulfillment and satisfaction and just simply focus on the "Now".

Then there will be no need for patience, because I will be deeply rooted in "being" within the present moment. Here are some thoughts on Patience from world religions...

"Therefore, we must exercise extreme patience, sympathy and love toward all mankind, considering no soul as rejected. 287 If we look upon a soul as rejected, we have disobeyed the teachings of God. God is loving to all. Shall we be unjust or unkind to anyone? Is this allowable in the sight of God? God provides for all. Is it befitting for us to prevent the flow of His merciful provisions for mankind? God has created all in His image and likeness."

(Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 286)

"Not to do wrong, to do good, and to purify one's mind,
that is the teaching of the awakened ones.
The awakened call patience the highest sacrifice;
the awakened declare nirvana the highest good."

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

(King James Bible, Romans)

"And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune"

(The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 41)
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