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When “words differ from their deeds”

September 1, 2017

homogenitus“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)

In response to a question*.

…The people of Bahá are Bahá’ís, followers of Bahá’u’lláh.

In the simplest language the phrase “words differ from their deeds” refers to acting or behaving in such a way that contradicts what you say. We may not be aware or conscious of the fact that some of our deeds/actions/conduct do not align with what we utter/say/profess. But others may notice and this will erode trust in your words. It is easy to develop a disconnect between what we value as virtuous behaviour and what we actually do and it is very common.

Baha’u’llah tells us therefore to reflect everyday on our deeds, to make ourselves consciously aware of what we have done and to examine whether our deeds align with our values, that part of us that represents the authentic self.

“O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.”

What are our values? Bahá’u’lláh’s son, Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues. In their Writings they describe virtues such as knowledge, faithfulness, steadfastness, truthfulness, uprightness, fidelity, evanescence or humility, justice, courtesy, forbearance, compassion, courage, courtesy, detachment, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, honour, love, loyalty, mercy, obedience, patience, reliability, respect, responsibility, tolerance, and unity.

But we can improve the alignment of our behaviour to our beliefs by paying closer attention. As individuals, we can build character by making daily effort to consciously make changes in those deeds/behaviour/actions, particularly habitual behaviours or actions, that do not mirror or reflect our authentic values. It is part of lifelong process of character building, of becoming our authentic selves. We can slowly change habitual behaviours that conflict with our value system.

In the same tablet, which you can read here – http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/b/GWB/gwb-139.html – Baha’u’llah describes how “the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct.” In other words, most of us say one thing, but do another.

Although this Sacred Writing has a timeless quality, it was written at a very specific historical time and place and addressed to a specific person. Baha’is are encouraged to share the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh but to avoid proselytization or attempting to convert. Much of the “teaching” is done as the followers of the Baha’i Faith reflect the principles of the Faith in their actions – the unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of mankind. In the 21st century humanity is at a threshold in an ongoing process of connection and interdependence at at global scale with breakthroughs in science, spirituality, and morality. Because many of these principles such as equality of men and women, elimination of prejudice, importance of education, unity of religions were new historically in the 19th century, particularly in Persia, it was crucial that Baha’is align their individual and social behaviour closely to those virtues that Baha’u’llah described. This tablet underscores that message.

In 1863, Baha’u’llah revealed this tablet CXXXIX to Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (1831 – 1892), in the same year that Baha’u’llah announced the establishment of the Baha’i Faith, which regards the founders of major monotheistic world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, as Manifestations of one God. The Báb (1819-1850) and Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) are the most recent of these Manifestations of progressive Divine revelation. Baha’u’llah taught that these world religions are one and that mankind is one.

According to H.M. Balyuzi in “Eminent Bahá’ís in the time of Bahá’u’lláh”, after the martyrdom of the Bab in 1850, Nabil claimed the leadership of the the endangered Bábí community, who were actively persecuted at that time. In 1863, when Baha’u’llah revealed that He was “He whom God shall make manifest” as promised by the Báb, Nabil withdrew his own claim to leadership, became a follower of Baha’u’llah and spent his life serving Him.

Nabil – formerly Mullá Muḥammad-i-Zarandí (1831 – 1892) from Zarandi, Persia, was given the name Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (Nabíl the Greatest) by Baha’u’llah. Nabil traveled various places in Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. When Baha’ullah was imprisoned he visited Him in `Akká.

In 1888, Nabil, with the assistance of Mírzá Músá, Bahá’u’lláh’s brother, began writing “The Dawn-breakers”. Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reviewed and approved it. Nabil is honoured by Baha’is everywhere for this lengthy, detailed, heavily annotated authorized history of the Báb, describing the short life of the Precurser of Baha’u’llah. Nabil’s work is all the more impressive because he was a shepherd who overcame his lack of education by spending years studying and learning.

Baha’u’llah began the tablet by saying, “Let thine ear be attentive, O Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam, to the Voice of the Ancient of Days, crying to thee from the Kingdom of His all-glorious Name.” In it He honours Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam by describing him as “numbered with My favoured ones whose names the Finger of God hath inscribed.”

“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)
what does it trying to say:
Ideas and understanding.

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