Monday, November 23, 2009

"I have to get over it."

Growth is exciting, but also scary and uncomfortable. As clusters advance and more and more people join the Faith, all aspects of our individual and community Bahá’í lives—all of our patterns of doing things and thinking about things—will be transformed. And not just once, but again and again. So the teaching work not only requires us to build our various skills and capacities (e.g., how to teach directly, how to organize a successful children’s class, etc.), but also a mental flexibility to enable us to respond and adapt to an ever-evolving situation. And of course it is challenging! But all of us can take the leap of faith, so to speak. Here is a beautiful, humble, frank and loving letter from an individual believer from Emerald Coast, FL (B) to all the friends in the cluster, describing a recent “Aha!” moment; it truly captures the road we are all travelling down.

Dear Friends,

The Emerald Coast Cluster is just a short time away from being designated an "A cluster." We've been preparing for this since 2001 and there have already been many changes in our community life. But the changes between now and 2021 will be much greater than those so far experienced. Our beloved Master ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that everything in nature either grows or withers; there is no constancy in nature. With Bahá'u'lláh's aid, each of us, and our communities, will grow in many ways in order to embrace the hundreds of people who will enroll in the next dozen years. . . .

Today I was meditating on the phrase, A Culture of Learning. I had the surprising thought that nothing I believed to be “true” was absolutely true—it was just my ephemeral understanding and it would change over time:

My understanding of Bahá'u'lláh's station is not 100% accurate—it is an approximation that will improve over time.

My concept of an ideal Bahá'í community is not true—it will also improve over time.

My relationship to the Bahá'í community is not perfect—it will grow over time.

This uncertainty is uncomfortable; as an older person, I want things to stay the same and to match my understanding. I want life to be predictable. I don't want to learn new things; I want my old knowledge to be sufficient.

I have to get over it.

The Buddha said that all human suffering comes from our grasping at ephemeral existence. Imagine a man standing in a river attempting to grasp the water and prevent it from flowing.

The Blessed Beauty says:

The true seeker hunteth naught but the object of his quest, and the lover hath no desire save union with his beloved. Nor shall the seeker reach his goal unless he sacrifice all things. That is, whatever he hath seen, and heard, and understood, all must he set at naught, that he may enter the realm of the spirit, which is the City of God.

(Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 6)

It is the duty of every seeker to bestir himself and strive to attain the shores of this ocean, so that he may, in proportion to the eagerness of his search and the efforts he hath exerted, partake of such benefits as have been preordained by God's irrevocable and hidden Tablets.

(Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, p. 326)

Dear Friends, we are being transformed, our communities are being transformed, and—through our communities—the world will be transformed. But we don't know what that ultimate world will look like, nor do we know what the ideal Bahá'í community will look like. All of that is still downstream. If we are to participate in the transformation—as positive forces—then we have to “set our understanding at naught” and embrace the culture of learning.



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