March 24, 2013

'we need a change of heart'

~ artwork by Carey Corea ~
"We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life molds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions."
 ~ the Baha'i Writings

i find my heart reflecting a lot about the environments in which people live -- are they are surrounded by dirt roads and or concrete jungles, flowers or graffiti, a joyful family or an abusive family?  i wonder how many noble and high-minded people come from environments which are harsh, bleak, depressing or violent.  i wonder how a beautiful, loving, supportive and nurturing environment cannot prevent someone from committing a crime.  i wonder how a child who is surrounded by guns, gangs and hopelessness still makes a positive effect on his environment.  i wonder how men of all classes and cultures continue to rape women knowing that humanity's collective environment now finally disapproves of this barbaric and atrocious sin.

my reflections continue to saturate my heart in ways that i wonder how i am molding my environment.  my heart is easily affected by the pain of this life, most of which is the result of injustice in one form or another.  my heart is also easily touched by the beauty and splendor of this world, all of which is a sign of God in one form or another..

"..I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.."

i am struggling to not let the darkness of this world linger in my heart or make it heavy with sadness.  i cannot stop thinking of women and girls being raped, children becoming soldiers, soldiers destroying the peace of a village, weapons of war being sold on the black market, traffickers committing unthinkable beastly acts, and hard-working humble souls being forced to work in conditions that we label 'modern day slavery'.

i am tired of not being able to find clean, decent music videos, or a tv program that isn't full of promiscuity, profanity, vulgarity and licentious violence.  i am tired of not being able to find a modern novel for youth without sexualitiy and perversions of the human spirit.   i am tired of trying to filter out all that robs my children of their innocence, nobility and purity. 

i am feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by superficiality, extravagance, decadence, lawlessness, corruption, disbelief, the chill of irreligion, unbridled materialism -- some of the rampant evils described by Shoghi Effendi that are biting into the fabric of society in ways that dampen my enthusiasm and sometimes extinguish my radiance.

i continually turn to the Baha'i writings for wisdom, encouragement and inspiration as i strive to mold my heart with all that is godly and protect it of all that is worldly:
"a world, in sum, 'enervated by a rampant and brutal materialism; disintegrating through the corrosive influence of moral and spiritual decadence'...  In 1941 Shoghi Effendi castigated the prevalent trends of society in no uncertain terms: "the spread of lawlessness, of drunkenness, of gambling, and of crime; the inordinate love of pleasure, of riches, and other earthly vanities; the laxity in morals, revealing itself in the irresponsible attitude towards marriage, in the weakening of parental control, in the rising tide of divorce, in the deterioration in the standard of literature and of the press, and in the advocacy of theories that are the very negation of purity, of morality and chastity -- these evidences of moral decadence, invading both the East and the West, permeating every stratum of society, and instilling their poison in its members of both sexes, young and old alike, blacken still further the scroll upon which are inscribed the manifold transgressions of an unrepentant humanity."   (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, p. 178)
"Parallel with this, and pervading all departments of life -- an evil which the nation, and indeed all those within the capitalist system, though to a lesser degree, share with that state and its satellites regarded as the sworn enemies of that system -- is the crass materialism, which lays excessive and ever-increasing emphasis on material well-being, forgetful of those things of the spirit on which alone a sure and stable foundation can be laid for human society."    (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Guardian of the Baha'i Faith, p. 179)
if my 'inner life' -- my heart -- is not directed upwards toward the teachings of God and purposefully reflecting its qualities and principles, it can easily become too entangled with the world, forgetful of its Maker.    as my innermost thoughts are having an influence on the world around me, i find myself in a crucible of 'mutual reactions' that are combating the negative influences of the environment from which i cannot escape.

i see my little world like an organic fortress which breathes life in and out through its walls.  there is a flow of energy in and out -- sometimes it's negative energy that detracts from the optimal environment i'm striving to create.  when i am not patient with someone's fault or failure, or if i am being critical instead of understanding, i am sending out negative vibes to the environment around me.  each day i am striving to be little closer to the divine standard while managing all of the forces around me and within me.  my state of spiritual consciousness must be vigilant or else it's too easy to slip into negativity, lethargy or complacency.

as my heart navigates itself through this life from day to day, i continue striving to protect it from the outside world, thereby molding my environment the best i can to one that is as far removed from the dangers of materialism, immorality and ungodliness as possible.  at the same time, i am constantly holding my heart and thoughts accountable to what i allow in, to what i allow them to be occupied with in this world.  since we are organic with the world, i'm trying everyday to make choices which enable both myself and the environment around me to be healthy, or to make progress, or to achieve excellence in all things and be supported by all the positive forces and energy that allows an organism to thrive..

"No movement in the world directs its attention upon both these aspects of human life and has full measures for their improvement, save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.  And this is its distinctive feature.  If we desire therefore the good of the world we should strive to spread those teachings and also practice them in our own life. Through them will the human heart be changed, and also our social environment provides the atmosphere in which we can grow spiritually and reflect in full the light of God shining through the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.

"..We need a change of heart, a reframing of all our conceptions and a new orientation of our activities. The inward life of man as well as his outward environment have to be reshaped if human salvation is to be secured."

"One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh."

    ~ Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Administration

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