Saturday, June 6, 2009

Refining Utterance (30-33)

How can we learn not to concern ourselves with the faults of others?

30) 'If we Baha’is cannot attain to cordial unity among ourselves, then we fail to realize the main purpose for which the Bab, Baha’u’llah, and the Beloved Master lived and suffered.

'In order to achieve this cordial unity one of the first essentials insisted on by Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l-Baha is that we resist the natural tendency to let our attention dwell on the faults and failings of others rather than on our own. Each of us is responsible for one life and that is our own.

'Each of us is immeasurably far from being “perfect as our heavenly father is perfect" and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy. If we allow our attention to be taken up in efforts to keep others right and remedy their faults, we are wasting precious time. We are like ploughmen each of whom has his team to manage and his plough to direct, and in order to keep his furrow straight he must keep his eye on his goal and concentrate on his own task. If he looks to this side and that to see how Tom and Harry are getting on and to criticize their ploughing, then his own furrow will assuredly become crooked.

'On no subject are the Baha’i teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from faultfinding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.'

(From a letter dated 12 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)

31) "Baha’u’llah also recognizes that human beings are fallible. He knows that, in our weakness, we shall repeatedly stumble when we try to walk in the path He has pointed out to us.

"If all human beings became perfect the moment they accepted the call of Baha’u’llah this world would be another world. It is in the light of our frailty that Abdu’l-Baha appealed to the friends everywhere to love each other and stressed the emphatic teaching of Baha'u'llah that each of us should concentrate upon improving his or her own life and ignore the faults of others. How many times the Master stressed the need for unity, for without it His Father's Cause could not go forward."

(Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated July 24, 1973, to an individual believer)

32) 'As to backbiting, the House of Justice points out that learning not to concern oneself with the faults of others seems to be one of the most difficult lessons for people to master, and that failing in this is a fertile cause of disputes among Baha’is as it is among men and women in general. In 'Star of the West', Volume 8, No. 10, on page 138, there is a record of a reply given by Abdu'l-Baha in a private interview in Paris in 1913. He was asked "How shall I overcome seeing the faults of others—recognizing the wrong in others?", and He replied: "I will tell you. Whenever you recognize the fault of another, think of yourself! What are my imperfections?—and try to remove them. Do this whenever you are tried through the words or deeds of others. Thus you will grow, become more perfect. You will overcome self, you will not even have time to think of the faults of others..."'

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 13, 1980)

33) 'You also ask what one should do to “handle depression and anger with someone" one feels “very positively about." The Universal House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our Writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others, to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful.'

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1975)

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