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O SON OF MAN!
Sorrow not save that thou art far from Us. Rejoice not save that thou art drawing near and returning unto Us.
O SON OF MAN!
Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart, that thou mayest be worthy to meet Me and to mirror forth My beauty. – Baha’u’llah, The Hidden Words, p. 12.
The world, Gautama Buddha told us a few thousand years ago, is filled with suffering. Christians call that concept the vale of tears (vale is an Old English literary term for valley). Countless poets and prophets have described this material existence as a continual struggle, a lifelong uphill battle against death, a place where we all suffer sorrow and pain. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Anyone can tell you that suffering is an unavoidable part of human existence. We all go through it. But here, in these two Hidden Words from Baha’u’llah, we hear how to transcend our suffering and attain joy.
In these two short passages Baha’u’llah asks us to rejoice, to live with joy and happiness despite the suffering we find here on Earth. His advice comes from the exact same place as Buddha’s and Christ’s advice did – understanding the suffering of life, and yet asking us to create a joyous response to it:
We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them. – Buddha, The Tipitaka.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. – Romans 15:13.
“Rejoice in the gladness of thine heart,” Baha’u’llah asks. But where do we find that gladness and joy? It comes from nearness to God, Baha’u’llah tells us in the opening lines of The Book of Certitude:
No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you…
The essence of these words is this: they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly — their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favor, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets. – The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 3-4.
This mystical message means more than just meditating and praying to grow closer to God. Instead, it means devoting our lives to a higher, more spiritual purpose. It means dedicating ourselves to the service of humanity. It means building unity with others through love and kindness. It means carefully and intelligently investigating the truth; developing praiseworthy virtues and character, and working for the cause of universal peace. Nearness to God, Baha’u’llah says, means sacrificing the lower stations of the self to attain the higher stations of severance and spiritual growth. Nearness to God, Baha’u’llah teaches, means acquiring and emulating the divine qualities.
In this world we count our money and our possessions to measure wealth. In the next world, the Baha’i teachings say, wealth is nearness to God.
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