Are you tired of being sick, angry, tormented? Can you see that you are living in abasement by holding on to these negative emotions?
As we’ve seen, Bitterness doesn’t take root overnight. We’ve been trained generationally how to respond to perceived injustice. Now that we know this, it’s time to break the stronghold, and give God a chance to work miracles in your spirit.
Bitterness is inside us because we let it come in and agreed to let it dwell inside us. Now that we know that, we can make a different choice. There’s only one person strong enough to cast bitterness out and that is God.
Someone has to change the dance, and now that we have “eyes to see and ears to hear” the causes and effects, it’s up to us. So how do we do it? First we have to get right with God, ourselves and others. The first step is to educate ourselves by reading the Baha’i Writings morning and evening, so we know what God wants us to do, and how to do it.
The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he would rather have his throat cut than tell a lie, and would think it easier to be slashed with a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny or be carried away by wrath. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 136-137)
In relationship to God, we need to:
1. Look Towards God: He has the answers! We can’t learn how to change a bitter heart by looking towards other imperfect souls.
Look ye not upon the creatures, turn ye to their Creator. See ye not the never-yielding people, see but the Lord of Hosts. Gaze ye not down upon the dust, gaze upward at the shining sun, which hath caused every patch of darksome earth to glow with light. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 73)
2. Recognize God’s love for us: All of the negative thoughts need to be replaced with a certainty of God’s love.
For love of God and spiritual attraction do cleanse and purify the human heart and dress and adorn it with the spotless garment of holiness. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 202-203)
3. Recognize the power of the Holy Spirit: There is only one power that can help us, and that’s the power of the Holy Spirit:
The only power that is capable of delivering man from this captivity is the power of the Holy Spirit. The attraction of the power of the Holy Spirit is so effective that it keeps man ever on the path of upward ascension. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 241)
4. Remember that all things are from God, including the wrongs that are done to us:
Say: all things are of God.’ This exalted utterance is like unto water for quenching the fire of hate and enmity which smouldereth within the hearts and breasts of men. By this single utterance contending peoples and kindreds will attain the light of true unity. Verily He speaketh the truth and leadeth the way. (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 222)
In relationship to ourselves, we need to:
1. Wake Up: If we’re going through life on auto-pilot, we can’t make changes.
Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 397)
2. Stop!: As the Bible tells us: “Be still and know that I am God”. We can’t make changes when we’re rushing through life, doing things the way we’ve always done them. We need to stop rushing to become conscious and able to hear God’s wisdom.
For thousands of years we have had bloodshed and strife. It is enough; it is sufficient. Now is the time to associate together in love and harmony. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 31)
3. Pay attention to Thoughts: We need to pay attention to our thoughts and separate the lies from the truth.
Reflect that man’s power of thought consists of two kinds. One kind is true, when it agrees with a determined truth. Such conceptions find realization in the exterior world; such are accurate opinions, correct theories, scientific discoveries and inventions. The other kind of conceptions is made up of vain thoughts and useless ideas which yield neither fruit nor result, and which have no reality. No, they surge like the waves of the sea of imaginations, and they pass away like idle dreams. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 250)
4. Detachment: Although God wants you to forgive the people you have bitterness against, if they do not respond to you, then it is not your problem. You have to come before God personally to get your freedom. The resolution comes from God.
Separate thyself from all thoughts, strip thyself from the unclean garment of attachment to this drossful (or earthly) world, arise for the service of thy Lord, the Clement, and be clothed with the robe of assurance (or certainty) so that thou mayest behold the hosts of confirmation from thy Lord arising from all sides. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 650)
5. Don’t give thoughts of bitterness any importance: This will help you step off the “hamster wheel” of negative thinking.
Attach no importance to . . . rejection, arrogance, oppression and enmity. Heed them not. Deal in the contrary way. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 216)
6. Turn away from ideas that degrade: By turning away from the negative thoughts we harbor towards others, we are free to return to our true station and purpose in life. We can’t know and worship God as long as we are focusing on our bitterness towards others.
He must turn away from ideas which degrade the human soul, so that day by day and hour by hour he may advance upward and higher to spiritual perception of the continuity of the human reality. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 236)
7. Change Thoughts: When we think negative thoughts towards others, it is an act of war.
I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)
8 Stop the animal side from becoming dominant: Our lower nature’s job is to destroy us; to keep us from God. Our job is to defeat and overcome it.
This human reality stands between two grades, between the world of the animal and the world of Divinity. Were the animal in man to become predominant, man would become even lower than the brute. Were the heavenly powers in man to become predominant, man would become the most superior being in the world of existence. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 296-297)
9. Intentions and Goodwill: If we have the intention to change our bitterness into forgiveness, love and acceptance, it will be granted to us.
Certain philosophers have considered intention superior to action, for the goodwill is absolute light; it is purified and sanctified from the impurities of selfishness, of enmity, of deception. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 302)
10. Overlook the Shortcomings of Others:
You also ask what one should do to ‘handle depression and anger with someone’ one feels ‘very positively about’. The Universal House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others, to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extract from one of the letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary will also be helpful: Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being “perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect: and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy… On no subject are the Bahá’í teachings more emphatic that on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding, while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 90-91)
11. Forgiveness: The key to getting free is to forgive, and leave them in God’s hands. When you don’t forgive someone else, why would God forgive you? He tells us “We are all sinners”, so we all need forgiveness. We have to eliminate bitterness through forgiveness in order to be free.
As a devoted believer you are urged to strive to develop forgiveness in your heart toward your parents who have abused you in so disgraceful a manner . . . (From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to this author, 9 September, 1992)
In our relations with other people, we need:
1. Gentle Speech:
A harsh word is like unto a sword, but gentle speech is like unto milk. The children of the world attain to knowledge and better themselves through this. (Compilations, Baha’i Scriptures, p. 132)
2. Find a point of agreement:
The purpose of these new laws is to destroy antagonism by finding a point of agreement. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 84)
3. Postpone discussion:
When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 178)
4. Emulate the Institutions:
Therefore mankind must continue in the state of fellowship and love, emulating the institutions of God and turning away from satanic promptings, for the divine bestowals bring forth unity and agreement whereas satanic leadings induce hatred and war. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha’i World Faith, p. 233)
Conclusion: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá says it best:
Therefore, make use of intelligence and reason so that you may dispel these dense clouds from the horizon of human hearts and all hold to the one reality of all the Prophets. It is most certain that if human souls exercise their respective reason and intelligence upon the divine questions, the power of God will dispel every difficulty, and the eternal realities will appear as one light, one truth, one love, one God and a peace that is universal. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 79)
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