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Humility: Neither Guilt nor Complacency: Your values become your destiny

November 3, 2011

“The humility that Bahá’u’lláh requires of us is not a sense of inferiority before others who are deemed more competent. It is not feigned modesty that is akin to hypocrisy. Rather, true humility arises from the recognition that God is the All-Powerful and Self-Subsisting, while all others are weak and in need of perfecting. The glorification of self, the exaltation of one’s limited knowledge, the lust for power, and the compulsion to force matters in the direction of one’s personal choosing, are exposed for what they truly are: expressions of a child’s whims and desires (Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).

“Acquiring humility calls for the rejection of both guilt—the paralyzing, harsh judgment of the failure to live up to the standard—and complacency— the reinterpretation of the standard, lowering it to suit personal comfort and preferences. The Guardian’s words that “our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future”11 help us to overcome feelings of guilt. And we can avoid complacency by always acknowledging the truth of the divine standard raised by Bahá’u’lláh, upholding it under all circumstances, and refusing to compromise it with the commonly accepted standards of our time.”12 (Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).

“The seed of humility is planted in the act of recognition of God: “I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy  wealth.”13 It germinates in the effort to adhere to divine teachings, since “that which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker.”14 It grows through the belief that “In the estimation of God all men are equal” and that “there is no distinction or preferment for any soul, in the realm of His justice and equity.”15 It is cultivated by an honest appraisal of one’s own faults and tolerance for the shortcomings of others: “Let your thoughts dwell on your own spiritual development, and close your eyes to the deficiencies of other souls.”16 It matures in action as one “preferreth his brother before himself.”17 It bears fruit as one becomes weary of self.” (Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).

“Do all ye can to become wholly weary of self, and bind yourselves to that Countenance of Splendors; and once ye have reached such heights of servitude, ye will find, gathered within your shadow, all created things.”18

“The individual who arises to promote human honor needs to be capable of establishing proper relationships with others, with the community, and with the legitimate institutions of society. One must begin with humility before God, become aware of the divine will and purpose and, discovering in others a reflection of the Divine Essence, stand humbly before them. The soul that walks humbly with God, Bahá’u’lláh explains, will be invested with the honor and glory of all goodly names and stations.19 It is instructive that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Whom Shoghi Effendi described as the embodiment of every Bahá’í ideal, chose for Himself the title “Servant of Bahá.” Servitude is the highest station to achieve and through it one becomes the promoter of human honor. (Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).

‘Abdu’l-Bahá states:

“Is there any greater blessing conceivable for a man, than that he should become the cause of the education, the development, the prosperity and honor of his fellow-creatures? No, by the Lord God! The highest righteousness of all is for blessed souls to take hold of the hands of the helpless and deliver them out of their ignorance and abasement and poverty, and with pure motives, and only for the sake of God, to arise and energetically devote themselves to the service of the masses, forgetting their own worldly advantage and working only to serve the general good.20”


“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” Leonard Cohen (Canadian folk Singer, Song Writer, Poet and Novelist. b.1934)

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Ralph Waldo Emerson?

“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.” ― Mahatma Gandhi?

thoughts become words become actions become habits become your values becomes your character becomes your destiny

Abdu’l-Baha (BWF:384) responded to the question regarding the “seven qualifications (of the divinely enlightened soul) of which thou hast asked an explanation:

1. Knowledge, 2. Faith, 3. Steadfastness, 4. Truthfulness, 5. Uprightness, 6. Fidelity, 7. Evanescence or humility, (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 383)” Seven Qualities of the enlightened soul” Baha’i World Faith.


“Some people lay stress on fasting. They affirm that in augmenting the weakness of the body they develop a spiritual sensibility and thus they think to approach God. Weakening one’s self physically does not necessarily contribute to spiritual progress. Humility, kindness, resignation, and all these spiritual attributes emanating from great physical strength are acceptable to God. That an enfeebled man cannot fight is not accounted a virtue. Were physical weakness a virtue the dead would be perfect, for they can do nothing. If a man be just, kind, humble and merciful and his qualities are acquired through the will-power — this is Godlike. A child cannot kill a man; but a Bonaparte can abstain from war, from shedding blood, from devastating countries. A dumb person will not speak ill of any one, a paralyzed hand cannot strike; but a strong arm can refrain from striking. Justice, love and kindness must be the instruments of strength, not of weakness.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 98)

The Beloved of God:

“The spiritual love of God maketh man pure and holy and clotheth him with the garment of virtue and purity. And when man attacheth his heart wholly to God and becometh related to the Blessed Perfection, the divine bounty will dawn. This love is not physical, nay, rather, it is absolutely spiritual. The souls whose consciences are enlightened through the light of the love of God, they are like unto shining lights and resemble stars of holiness in the heaven of purity. [] In this condition physical bodies play no part; the command and authority are in the hand of the spirit. When the spirit becometh all inclusive, the spiritual union shall be attained. Night and day endeavor to attain perfect harmony; be thoughtful concerning your own spiritual developments and close your eyes to the shortcomings of one another. By good deeds, pure lives, humility and meekness be a lesson for others.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 365 via Ocean)

“Evanescence or Humility. That is to say, man must become evanescent in God. Must forget his own selfish conditions that he may thus arise to the station of sacrifice. It should be to such a degree that if he sleep, it should not be for pleasure, but to rest the body in order to do better, to speak better, to explain more beautifully, to serve the servants of God and to prove the truths. When he remains awake, he should seek to be attentive, serve the Cause of God and sacrifice his own stations for those of God. When he attains to this station, the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will surely reach him, and man with this power can withstand all who inhabit the earth.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 384)

“Thou hast written concerning the meetings and the gathering places of the believers of God. Such assemblies and congregations will greatly aid the promotion of the Word — and all the audience, whether friends or not friends, become affected. But when the friends have the intention of entering in these meetings and assemblies, they must first make the purpose pure, disengage the heart from all other reflections, ask the inexhaustible divine confirmation and with the utmost devotion and humility set their feet in the gathering-place. Let them not introduce any topic in the meeting except the mentioning of the True One, neither must they confuse that merciful assembly with perplexed outside questions. They must either teach or open their tongues in propounding argument, either commune or supplicate and pray to God, either read Tablets or give out advices or exhortations.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 407)


“Yet another Hand of the Cause was the revered Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar, upon him be the glory of God, the All-Glorious. Early in life, this illustrious man attended institutions of higher learning and labored diligently, by day and night, until he became thoroughly conversant with the learning of the day, with secular studies, philosophy, and religious jurisprudence. He frequented the gatherings of philosophers, mystics, and Shaykhís, thoughtfully traversing those areas of knowledge, intuitive wisdom, and illumination; but he thirsted after the wellspring of truth, and hungered for the bread that comes down from Heaven. No matter how he strove to perfect himself in those regions of the mind, he was never satisfied; he never reached the goal of his desires; his lips stayed parched; he was confused, perplexed, and felt that he had wandered from his path. The reason was that in all those circles he had found no passion; no joy, no ecstasy; no faintest scent of love. And as he went deeper into the core of those manifold beliefs, he discovered that from the day of the Prophet Muḥammad’s advent until our own times, innumerable sects have arisen: creeds differing among themselves; disparate opinions, divergent goals, uncounted roads and ways. And he found each one, under some plea or other, claiming to 10 reveal spiritual truth; each one believing that it alone followed the true path—this although the Muḥammedic sea could rise in one great tide, and carry all those sects away to the ocean floor. “No cry shalt thou hear from them, nor a whisper even.”

Here is a sea with treasure to the brim;
Its waves toss pearls under the great wind’s thong.
Throw off your robe and plunge, nor try to swim,
Pride not yourself on swimming — dive headlong.

Like a fountain, his heart welled and jetted forth; meaning and truth, like soft-flowing crystal waters, began to stream from his lips. At first, with humility, with spiritual poverty, he garnered the new light, and only then he proceeded to shed it abroad. For how well has it been said,

Shall he the gift of life to others bear Who of life’s gift has never had a share?

A teacher must proceed in this way: he must first teach himself, and then others. If he himself still walks the path of carnal appetites and lusts, how can he guide another to the “evident signs”[1] of God? [1 Qur’án 3:91 ] (Abdu’l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, Mullá ‘Alí-Akbar)


“Pride not yourselves in your glory and be not ashamed of abasement (Baha’u’llah).”

“Beseech ye the one true God to grant that ye may taste the savor of such deeds as are performed in His path, and partake of the sweetness of such humility and submissiveness as are shown for His sake. Forget your own selves, and turn your eyes towards your neighbor. Bend your energies to whatever may foster the education of men. Nothing is, or can ever be, hidden from God. If ye follow in His way, His incalculable and imperishable blessings will be showered upon you.10


“Humility exalteth man to the heaven of glory and power, whilst pride abaseth him to the depths of wretchedness and degradation (Baha’u’llah).”


“A third obstacle to reaching higher levels of consciousness and action is the result of forces that resist progress. In the physical world, the effort to move is countered by the opposing force of friction. Similarly, resistance appears when attempting to rise to greater heights of service in the Faith. Increased consciousness calls for greater responsibility, and thus, greater sacrifice. Effort is required along a path that is to be traced from comfort, ego, control, and license to exertion, humility, cooperation, and servitude. Some may not wish to relinquish current patterns of behavior to meet the more formidable challenges implied by change. The individual, Shoghi Effendi urges, must “struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, [and] empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path.”15″(Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).


“During His travels to America in 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá offered, in a Tablet to an early believer, the following assessment of meetings He addressed:

I visited Philadelphia, for a few days, at the invitation of two ministers and at the request of the friends of God. Two large congregations gathered in the two churches, and I spoke within the measure of my incapacity. But the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom, as evident as the sun, descended and enfolded us. Although we are powerless He is Mighty. Although we are poor He is All-Sufficient.1

Thus, with such extreme humility did ‘Abdu’l-Bahá—the Master, the Interpreter of the Word of God, the Center of the Covenant—refer to His own service to His Lord.” (Paul Lample. 2004. Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions & the Community. Palabra).

One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 19, 2014 12:00 am

    Thank you. Found this interesting and helpful.

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