July 15, 2012

mindful of our thoughts

i have been thinking a lot recently about the many kinds of thoughts that enter my mind each day..

i bring God to mind throughout the day -- mindful of my wholehearted reliance upon Him, gratitude toward Him and above all, love for Him, the one Creator.  this is the overall spirit in which i live this life as a soul..

as much as these elevated thoughts are consciously wrapped up in and interwoven with love in my heart, there are a lot of other thoughts happening in my mind as well.  i am constantly thinking about friends, past memories and future possibilities, reflections from what i've read, news stories, world issues, life decisions, family, meals to prepare, things to get done, etc.. these thoughts are random and almost effortless, just part of what makes up who i am in terms of importance and responsibilities as an individual.

at a deeper level, though, there are the kinds of thoughts which creep into my mind and trouble the soul, agitate the heart, and detract from the light within me:   hurt, regret, prejudice, negativity, anger, fear, anxiety, insecurity, etc.  they take the form of sentences like 'i wish..' and 'what if..'

these kinds of inner thoughts require conscious attention and effort to purify, discipline or silence.  the more pure my heart is and the more attached i am to God rather than this world, the less present these wayward thoughts are within me.

i strive to empty my mind of these thoughts by replacing them with prayer and meditation.  i am learning to be evermore conscious of what i am thinking so that my mind can be free of the clutter which pollutes my soul and prevents it from being purified of all that is worldly.  i want to protect my soul from thoughts which are harmful to my well-being.

there is much guidance from the Baha'i Writings on how thoughts must be directed in this life.  through effort and attention, we can elevate and focus our thoughts, enabling ourselves to grow in detachment from this material world and grow nearer to God:
O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men.
Center your thoughts in the Well-Beloved, rather than in your own selves.

He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.

So great is the folly and perversity of the people, that they have turned their face toward their own thoughts and desires, and have turned their back upon the knowledge and will of God -- hallowed and glorified be His name!

...material ideas and worldly thoughts attract man to the center of self. Anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jealousy and suspicion prevent man from ascending to the realms of holiness, imprisoning him in the claws of self and the cage of egotism.
(Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 546)

What could be better before God than thinking of the poor?

The man who thinks only of himself and is thoughtless of others is undoubtedly inferior to the animal because the animal is not possessed of the reasoning faculty.

He who is so hard-hearted as to think only of his own comfort, such an one will not be called man.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, p. 42)

Leave all thought of self,
and strive only to be obedient and submissive to the Will of God.
...the trials which beset our every step, all our sorrow, pain, shame and grief, are born in the world of matter; whereas the spiritual Kingdom never causes sadness. A man living with his thoughts in this Kingdom knows perpetual joy. The ills all flesh is heir to do not pass him by, but they only touch the surface of his life, the depths are calm and serene.

Today, humanity is bowed down with trouble, sorrow and grief, no one escapes; the world is wet with tears; but, thank God, the remedy is at our doors. Let us turn our hearts away from the world of matter and live in the spiritual world! It alone can give us freedom! If we are hemmed in by difficulties we have only to call upon God, and by His great Mercy we shall be helped.
 Think not of your own limitations, dwell only on the welfare of the Kingdom of Glory.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks)
Let us put aside all thoughts of self; let us close our eyes to all on earth, let us neither make known our sufferings nor complain of our wrongs.
Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race.

Every imperfect soul is self-centred and thinketh only of his own good.

...ye must also be thinking of everyone, so that mankind may be educated, character moderated and this world may turn into a Garden of Eden.

So long as the thoughts of an individual are scattered he will achieve no results, but if his thinking be concentrated on a single point wonderful will be the fruits thereof.

Think ye of love and good fellowship as the delights of heaven, think ye of hostility and hatred as the torments of hell.

...think none to be your foe.
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha)

...now assure thee, O servant of God, that, if thy mind become empty and pure from every mention and thought and thy heart attracted wholly to the Kingdom of God, forget all else besides God and come in communion with the Spirit of God, then the Holy Spirit will assist thee with a power which will enable thee to penetrate all things, and a Dazzling Spark which enlightens all sides, a Brilliant Flame in the zenith of the heavens, will teach thee that which thou dost not know of the facts of the universe...
    (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 706)

...search out your own imperfections and not think of the imperfections of anybody else.
    (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace)
...must always be thinking of doing good to someone, of love, consideration, affection and assistance to somebody.
Every soul of the friends of God must concentrate his mind on this, that he may manifest the mercy of God and the bounty of the Forgiving One.

looking through this window of the Baha'i gardens fills my mind with prayerful reflections.  it makes me feel present and still with myself as a soul, conscious of my inner spirit.  no thoughts of myself linger in this moment of stillness.

if our thoughts are like a mirror, then they are reflecting what we focus them on.  if we live this life in love with ourselves, rather than worshiping our Creator, our thoughts will be consumed with greed, jealousy, vanity, and covetousness.  if we are striving each day to see the Beauty of God within us and around us, then our thoughts will be considerate, fair, honest, and full of care.

i wonder what occupies other people's minds and how they are managing the throne of their inner temple..

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