We’ll find happiness when we recognize God and discover the sweetness of His fragrance and turned to His kingdom and taste of the things we find there.
Happy is the man who hath recognized Thee, and discovered the sweetness of Thy fragrance, and set himself towards Thy kingdom, and tasted of the things that have been perfected therein by Thy grace and favor. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 54)
We’ll find happiness when we understand God and the purpose of His Revelation:
Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 335)
Here’s a story about how this played out in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life:
In 1904 and 1907 commissions were appointed by the Turkish Government to inquire into the charges against ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and lying witnesses gave evidence against Him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, while refuting the charges, expressed His entire readiness to submit to any sentence the tribunal chose to impose. He declared that if they should throw Him into jail, drag Him through the streets, curse Him, spit upon Him, stone Him, heap upon Him all sort of ignominy, hang Him or shoot Him, He would still be happy. (Marzieh Gail, The Sheltering Branch p. 99-100)
He was able to say this because he clearly understood God and the purpose of His revelation.
We’ll find happiness in understanding the Divine Teachings and becoming informed of the mysteries of the Kingdom:
May your souls be illumined by the light of the Words of God, and may you become repositories of the mysteries of God, for no comfort is greater and no happiness is sweeter than spiritual comprehension of the divine teachings. If a man understands the real meaning of a poet’s verses such as those of Shakespeare, he is pleased and rejoiced. How much greater his joy and pleasure when he perceives the reality of the Holy Scriptures and becomes informed of the mysteries of the Kingdom! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 459-460)
There’s a story of how much ‘Abdu’l-Bahá knew happiness through Bahá’u’lláh and longed to share it with others. He modelled what he’d learned:
The happiness the Master knew through Bahá’u’lláh He wished for others. One of the very first pilgrims to ‘Akká from the Occident recalled her party’s last interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: ‘In the might and majesty of His presence, our fear was turned to perfect faith, our weakness into strength, our sorrow into hope, and ourselves forgotten in our love for Him. As we all sat before Him, waiting to hear his words, some of the believers wept bitterly. He bade them dry their tears, but they could not for a moment. So again He asked them for His sake not to weep, or would He talk to us and teach us until all tears were banished …’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 131)
We’ll find happiness when we live in the spiritual world:
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. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 109)
Only when we live in the spiritual world are we truly happy:
Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 72)
We’ll find happiness when we pray to God morning and evening:
Supplication to God at morn and eve is conducive to the joy of hearts, and prayer causes spirituality and fragrance. Thou shouldst necessarily continue therein. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 185-186)
We’ll be happy when our prayers are answered:
Surely a day will come when all thy desires will be attained and God will answer all that which thou hast prayed for in thine heart, and I beg of Him to make all that which thou hast longed for long ago very attainable. Then thine heart will be overflowed with joy on account of such a great bounty. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 122)
We’ll be happy when we look inside our own hearts, meditating, contemplating, dreaming:
Then we come across one sentence which I believe is the most important in the whole of The Hidden Words. He says, “Rejoice with the joy of your own heart.” It is something that we have utterly forgotten. The western world has forgotten this for centuries. The art of meditation, the art of contemplation, the art of dreaming within oneself, and Bahá’u’lláh wants us to start doing this again. First, it means that there is nothing in the world to make you happy, outside of your own heart . . . He says, “Go deep into thy heart.” There is a realm in your heart. There it will spring up with the water of joy, a constant stream of joy will be flowing from your own heart. Nothing will stop it and nothing will be able to give it except yourselves. This is done by spiritual exercise. (From Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi)
We’ll be happy promoting the word of God:
If the Word of God is being promoted, rejoice and be happy. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 294)
We’ll find happiness through obedience to God’s commandments:
Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty. Happy is the lover that hath inhaled the divine fragrance of his Best-Beloved from these words, laden with the perfume of a grace which no tongue can describe. (Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 20)
This requires us to change the way we think about God’s laws:
The laws do not represent a sterile and inhumane legal code, but rather the divine prescription, a definition of how an individual must act in order to achieve true freedom and spiritual happiness in this world and the next. (Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05)
We can try to get around the laws or compromise them if we want, in an attempt to be happy, but we’ll quickly find that not only don’t we attain the happiness we sought, but we also retards our spiritual advancement and brings on new problems for ourselves! YIKES!
The one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness … does not attain the happiness he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, pp. 359-360).
I like what the House of Justice has to say:
There is a currently popular philosophy which says that each human being should be free to do whatever he wishes, and makes him happy, so long as his actions do not harm anyone else. This sounds very attractive, especially in a world which has been so oppressed by totalitarian regimes of one kind or another. One of the major difficulties in applying it is to be found in the degree to which individuals’ perceptions of what is harmful vary. Another, which is often overlooked, is the average human being’s ignorance of the divinely intended goal of his existence. (Universal House of Justice, 17 September 1993)
We’ll find happiness through sacrificing ourselves:
He who has reached the state of self-sacrifice has true joy. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)
We’ll find happiness when God lights the lamp of love in our hearts:
Verily thy Lord lighteth the lamp of love in the heart of whomsoever He chooseth. This is indeed the great happiness. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 308)
We’ll find happiness when we look away from our faults and towards the bounties of God:
Two pilgrims were at the Master’s luncheon table one day in 1908. He asked them if they were glad to be in Akká and if they were happy. They replied that they were very happy to be there with Him, but unhappy when they thought of their own faults. ‘Think not of yourselves,’ He said, ‘but think of the Bounty of God. This will always make you happy.” Then with a smile He referred to an Arabic saying about the peacock, who ‘is contented because he never looks at his feet – which are very ugly – but always at his plumage which is very beautiful.’ (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of “‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
We’ll find happiness when we put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second:
We must, at all times, put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second. Having this Faith we have eternal security and happiness which nothing can take away from us ever, no matter what afflictions may befall a faithless world. The Cause of God is our security, and confidence in Bahá’u’lláh our protection. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 129-130)
We’ll find happiness when we bring joy to others:
‘Abdu’l-Bahá wisheth no one’s heart to feel hurt, nor will he be a source of grief to any one; for there is no greater satisfaction than being a source of joy to the hearts. I ask God that ye may become like angels of heaven, sources of happiness to souls. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 23)
We’ll find happiness when we strengthen the bonds of union and harmony amongst ourselves:
If you wish the joy, happiness and the composure of the spirit and the peace of the conscience of Abdul Bahá, strengthen the bonds of union and harmony amongst yourselves so that all of you may become the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the flowers of one garden, the links of one cuirass, soaring in the atmosphere and breaking forth into one glad song. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 379)
We’ll find happiness through material progress (for the happiness of the human world); and spiritual progress (for the happiness and continuance of the soul). The Holy Spirit helps us realize both of these.
Material progress insures the happiness of the human world. Spiritual progress insures the happiness and eternal continuance of the soul … In accordance with these principles and actions and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, both material and spiritual happiness shall become realized. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 227)
This makes sense because, as we’ve learned in earlier chapters, all negative qualities come from our lower nature.
Being fundamentally happy also includes periods of anxiety and grief:
The lives of the Founders of our Faith clearly show that to be fundamentally assured does not mean that we live without anxieties, nor does being happy mean that there are not periods of deep grief when, like the Guardian, we wrap ourselves in a blanket, pray and supplicate, and give ourselves time for healing in preparation for the next great effort. (Shoghi Effendi, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 117)
Strangely enough, we’ll find the kind of happiness which nothing can take from us, through suffering:
Through suffering he will attain to an eternal happiness which nothing can take from him. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 178)
There is no soul so happy that this might be the fruit of his past pain! (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 643)
Here’s an example:
It is a beautiful thing to realize that life’s experiences did not sour or embitter the Master’s outlook. Tuberculosis at the age of seven, poverty, exile, separation from Bahá’u’lláh, imprisonment, the death of His sons – He endured all these, and more, and remained optimistic and cheerful towards life. He walked nobly in adversity. (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 165)
As we’ve seen in the story above, suffering and pain by themselves won’t cause happiness. We must be willing to suffer, as a demonstration of love for all mankind. We must not dwell on our suffering but turn our attention to the many sources of joy. We need to put our confidence and trust in God, knowing that our journey towards happiness takes time and includes many setbacks.
We are not then called upon to be so successful and so happy that we never suffer. Our willingness to suffer is part of our demonstration of love for all mankind. Along with it, however, we must also be able to develop the spiritual muse not to dwell on our suffering but to turn our attention away to the great and many sources of our joy. For it is in God that we place our confidence, it is the life processes which the Faith has set in motion which we trust, knowing that it takes time and includes many setbacks. (Universal House of Justice, Quickeners of Mankind, p. 120)
It also requires resignation and submissiveness:
Praise be to God! — the kind friends of God are also in a state of resignation and submissiveness. All are happy, thankful, joyful and content. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v2, p. 378)
Through his attitude of the time he spent in prison, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá teaches us that anyone can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if we want to be happy and contented in times of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, that is the proof of our nobility.
To most people the hardships of prison life would appear as grievous calamities, but for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá they had no terrors. When in prison He wrote: – Grieve not because of my imprisonment and calamity; for this prison is my beautiful garden, my mansioned paradise and my throne of dominion among mankind. My calamity in my prison is a crown to me in which I glory among the righteous. Anyone can be happy in the state of comfort, ease, health, success, pleasure and joy; but if one be happy and contented in the time of trouble, hardship and prevailing disease, that is the proof of nobility. (Marzieh Gail, The Sheltering Branch p. 99-100)
There are lots of other reasons for us to be happy, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reminds us:
In Chicago the Master revealed ‘one of His most buoyant Tablets‘, requested by a newspaper reporter:
Be happy! Be happy! The Sun of Truth has shone!
Be happy! Be happy! The Light of the Spirit has surrounded the world!
Be happy! Be happy! The doors of the Kingdom are opened!
Be happy! Be happy! The song of the Supreme Concourse is raised!
Be happy! Be happy! The breaths of the Holy Spirit are life-giving and the world of man is being quickened. (Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 130)
From the quotes above we find 25 keys to happiness, which you can use as a checklist in your efforts to become happier.
1. recognize God
2. discover the sweetness of His fragrance
3. turn to His kingdom
4. taste of the things we find there.
5. when God lights the lamp of love in our hearts
6. understand God and the purpose of His Revelation
7. understand the Divine Teachings and become informed of the mysteries of the Kingdom
8. live in the spiritual world
9. pray to God morning and evening
10. promote the word of God
11. look away from our faults and towards the bounties of God
12. turn our attention to the many sources of joy
13. Find reasons to be grateful.
14. obey God’s commandments
15. put our confidence and trust in God
16. put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second
17. bring joy to others
18. strengthen the bonds of union and harmony amongst ourselves
19. when we look inside our own hearts, meditating, contemplating, dreaming
20. pain and suffering
21. resignation and submissiveness
23. material and spiritual progress
24. when our prayers are answered
25. know that our journey towards happiness takes time and includes many setbacks
Prayers for Happiness
Send, therefore, unto my loved ones, O my God, what will cheer their hearts, and illumine their faces, and delight their souls. Thou knowest, O my Lord, that their joy is to behold the exaltation of Thy Cause and the glorification of Thy word. Do Thou unveil, therefore, O my God, what will gladden their eyes, and ordain for them the good of this world and of the world which is to come. Thou art, verily, the God of power, of strength and of bounty. (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 195-196)
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