Monday, October 3, 2011

Gleanings CXXVIII, take 3

See? I told you I'd get back to this again. It was just a matter of being patient. Thanks.

So where was I in this quote? Oh yes:
"Say: Should your conduct, O people, contradict your professions, how think ye, then, to be able to distinguish yourselves from them who, though professing their faith in the Lord their God, have, as soon as He came unto them in the cloud of holiness, refused to acknowledge Him, and repudiated His truth? Disencumber yourselves of all attachment to this world and the vanities thereof. Beware that ye approach them not, inasmuch as they prompt you to walk after your own lusts and covetous desires, and hinder you from entering the straight and glorious Path."
Now please remember, I'm reading this entire quote as if it were all a guide towards our teaching of the Faith. I'm not saying this is how it is supposed to be read, nor am I claiming any official status in my reading of it. It's just how I'm choosing how to look at it today.

As you recall, Baha'u'llah begins this passage by reminding us that our hearts have to be pure. We cannot truly claim to be a follower if we harbour bad thoughts in our heart.

Now He is moving us towards our conduct, our actions. After all, right thought leads to right action, says the Buddha.

Oh, and when Baha'u'llah uses the word "professions", He is not referring to our job. He seems to be talking about our words, our declaration of belief. If our actions are not indicative of our words, well... "Beware, O people of Baha, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds."
Here Baha'u'llah is placing this concept in a particular context, namely that of differing ourselves from others. There are many of us who love to talk about our faith, to tell other people about what we believe. As Baha'is, we need to be visibly different from those others who, in the days of the Manifestation, spoke loftily but perpetrated the most unseemly of acts. (Wow, that's lofty language there.)

In other words, there were some who spoke of the love of God, and yet attacked those who believed differently from them. This did not show their sincerity, and did not speak well of their faith.

But then, after this, He cautions us to get rid of attachment to worldly things. I think this is a reference to being attached not only to material stuff, but also to the thoughts and opinions of those around us. In other words, our faith should be between us and God, and not based on the opinions of others. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why so many have denied the Messengers of the past during Their lifetimes.

But then, just as we think we may have a handle on this, He continues:
"Know ye that by "the world" is meant your unawareness of Him Who is your Maker, and your absorption in aught else but Him. The "life to come," on the other hand, signifieth the things that give you a safe approach to God, the All-Glorious, the Incomparable. Whatsoever deterreth you, in this Day, from loving God is nothing but the world. Flee it, that ye may be numbered with the blest. Should a man wish to adorn himself with the ornaments of the earth, to wear its apparels, or partake of the benefits it can bestow, no harm can befall him, if he alloweth nothing whatever to intervene between him and God, for God hath ordained every good thing, whether created in the heavens or in the earth, for such of His servants as truly believe in Him. Eat ye, O people, of the good things which God hath allowed you, and deprive not yourselves from His wondrous bounties. Render thanks and praise unto Him, and be of them that are truly thankful."
He gives us a definition of "the world". What is the world? Anything that comes between us and God.

In the past, and even today, many have believed that material things were bad, and spiritual things were good. Poverty, they said, was a blessing. Gold was evil.

And yet here, Baha'u'llah turns it on us. If we wish to wear fine clothes, or enjoy the good things of this world, fine. As long as it doesn't stop us from worshipping God. He reminds us that all the good things in the world were created for our enjoyment, as long as we remember to be honourable and loving towards God. Of course, this doesn't mean that we can abuse the world, for then we are not being respectful.

No. We can enjoy the bounties that this world offers us, but we always have to remember God and let nothing come between us and our Creator.

And if something does? If we discover that we don't, for example, have time to say our Obligatory Prayer because we are rushing off to a movie? Nope. "Flee it". The prayer comes first, for that is our obligation to God.

If we don't want to pay of Right of God because we want to buy that new computer? Then it has come between us and God. Not good, that.

But if we have paid our Right, purified our wealth, as He says, then why not?
Anyways. This is all just my own thought on it. For now I have to go off and do another workshop on meditation. I'm sure I'll have more to write about this later.

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