One of my readers wrote:
I have a friend who is smoking weed and truthfully, I do not know exactly what to do! I wish in my heart and soul that he would stop because it is hurting him. He is part of the Baha’i community and I am trying to get him involved in Baha’i activities. At the same time I want to talk to him person to person with all of my love for him, so that he can find a permanent solution to his difficulties. I was wondering if you could help out.
A very dear friend of mine, who’d pioneered and served the Faith devotedly for many years, very deepened, burned out, resigned, got into a gay lifestyle, developed AIDS and starting using crystal meth. Like you, it hurt my heart! I didn’t know what to do! To make matters worse, I was troubled by this quote, which seemed to suggest that something very active had to be done on my part or I would be called to account for falling short in my duty to my Lord!
O ye lovers of God! In this, the cycle of Almighty God, violence and force, constraint and oppression, are one and all condemned. It is, however, mandatory that the use of opium be prevented by any means whatsoever, that perchance the human race may be delivered from this most powerful of plagues. And otherwise, woe and misery to whoso falleth short of his duty to his Lord. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 149)
I wrote to the House of Justice and this was their reply:
In general, a person who has withdrawn from the Faith is regarded as being among the generality of humankind with whom the Bahá’ís are enjoined to associate “in joy and fragrance”. In contemplating how to associate with your friend at this time, you are encouraged to draw inspiration and guidance from the peerless example of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose compassion, loving understanding and sincere concern for the welfare of others exemplified the Bahá’í attitude to those who are suffering.
Be assured of the ardent prayers of the House of Justice in the Holy Shrines that Bahá’u’lláh may surround your friend with His loving protection and tender mercies and bountifully bless your noble efforts in the path of His service.
So from that, I took that my responsibility was to:
- Associate with him “in joy and fragrance”
- Have compassion
- Show loving understanding
- Demonstrate sincere concern for his welfare
I love that you want to bring him into Bahá’í activities, but his shame might prevent him from doing it. I’m sure he knows what the standards are, and although I don’t know his source of pain, you can count on the fact that he has a painful story to tell! If you’re able to do all the things the House suggests, he might open up and tell it to you, which in turn, will make it easier for you to have compassion and loving understanding!
As Bahá’ís we’re told that the role of the individual is to be loving and forgiving; to have a “sin covering eye”; to “breathe not the sins of others” and to “plow our own fields”. The role of the institutions is justice. We tend to mix this up as Shoghi Effendi tells us:
There is a tendency to mix up the function of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supported to administer according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community. But individuals toward each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual. (Shoghi Effendi Lights of Guidance, p. 77)
So from this quote I understand that our role is to have:
- sin-covering eye
Also, we know that we are all sinners:
We are all sinners (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 176)
So to single out his “sin” doesn’t even make sense when we all have sins! For example, some sins are worse than others – lying and backbiting for example (the most grievous and the most odious), and chances are good you’re guilty of both of those!
So my suggestion is that if it really troubles you and you really believe he’s harming the Faith, then give the information to the LSA and let them deal with it; and if not, be loving, forgiving towards him and focus on your own development.
Hope this has been helpful but if you have further questions, I’m happy to engage!
What are your thoughts on Bahá’ís using drugs? Post your comments below: