Learning to distinguish the transitory from the eternal

By Gordy Arlin, a Bahá’í of Mukilteo | Jul 18, 2012

From the writings of Bahá’u’lláh: “This humble servant is filled with wonder, inasmuch as all men are endowed with the capacity to see and hear, yet we find them deprived of the privilege of using these faculties.

“This servant hath been prompted to pen these lines by virtue of the tender love he cherisheth for thee. The winds of despair are, alas, blowing from every direction, and the strife that divideth and afflicteth the human race is daily increasing.

“The signs of impending convulsions and chaos can now be discerned, inasmuch as the prevailing order appeareth to be lamentably defective.

“I beseech God, exalted be His glory, that He may graciously awaken the peoples of the earth, may grant that the end of their conduct may be profitable unto them, and aid them to accomplish that which beseemeth their station.”

And today, the present day order is still foundationally challenged. It is being “rolled up” and a new order will be placed in its stead. We’re all choosing what that better design will be; we are participating in that sea change now.

It is all ramping up, isn’t it? Never before have so many of our manmade theories and habits been so starkly revealed to be so absolutely “lamentably defective.”

Today, as a bounty to us, God is bringing our challenges to a head in such a manner that we are finally compelled to resolve them, we are finally compelled to re-examine all of our plans.

This is a huge blessing, as otherwise: nothing changes, and that certainly won’t do.

For thousands of years we’ve walked the earth but it’s exactly in our lifetimes that mankind is in that corner where we sink or swim. Yes, we’ve weathered many huge crisis points in the past, but this one is different. It’s bigger.

I’m confident that much beauty is being born as a result of this grand turmoil, I anticipate it with certainty.

We all have been praying for peace and stability; today more than ever before we are being propelled into a genuinely working plan: God’s divinely ordained plan. I am calling that a “Yes!” to those prayers.

By revealing to us with new clarity the flaws inherent in some of our designs, by letting us feel the weight to the point where some things finally must be changed, God is indeed getting us to where we have asked to be placed.

In my estimation God is doing all of this as gently as we will allow: If we resist, He will increase the weight. Because that is what a loving parent does. We are (lovingly) being taken (kicking and screaming) to the new hard decisions and the new attitudes and the new hard actions that are now being (lovingly!) made necessary by our predicaments.

It is getting better! More and more folks are laboring ardently and wisely for positive changes in mankind’s circumstances, and thank God, a great many things are being wonderfully improved around the world, but massive and threatening foundational problems remain.

Genocide, religious war, poverty, econocrash, environmental, take your pick.

All quotations are from the Bahá’í sacred writings:

“You see all round you proofs of the inadequacy of material things – how joy, comfort, peace and consolation are not to be found in the transitory things of this world. Is it not then foolishness to refuse to seek these treasures where they may be found? The doors of the spiritual kingdom are open to all, and without is absolute darkness.”

“The establishment of peace is unachievable save through the power of the word of God.”

“Man is the life of the world, and the life of man is the spirit. The happiness of the world depends upon man, and the happiness of man is dependent upon the spirit.”

“Happiness consisteth of two kinds: physical and spiritual. The physical happiness is limited; its utmost duration is one day, one month, one year. It hath no result. Spiritual happiness is eternal and unfathomable.

“This kind of happiness appeareth in one’s soul with the love of God and suffereth one to attain to the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Therefore, endeavour as much as thou art able in order to illumine the lamp of thy heart by the light of love.”

“Happy are the glad and sincere, the lamps of whose hearts burn with the knowledge of the all-merciful and are protected by self-abnegation from the rough winds of tests and sorrows; happy are the brave whose hearts the power of the oppressor cannot daunt; happy are the clear-sighted that have learned to distinguish the transitory from the eternal, that have turned their faces to the imperishable…”

Thank you for looking! In closing, a prayer for relief:

“O Lord! Wars have persisted, distress and anxiety have waxed great, and every flourishing region is laid waste. Hearts are heavy and souls are in anguish.

“O Lord! Extinguish this fire. Draw up the people from the abyss of the ocean of hatred and enmity, and deliver them from this impenetrable darkness. Thou art the helper and the merciful.”

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