Persevering in the quest of the Beloved

I am in pain these days — the pain of separation whose only soothing medicine, I know, is detachment. And while convulsing in this pain, I ask questions of why and how, Baha’u’llah gracefully provides answers:

But, O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error. That seeker must at all times put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords.

(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 192)

Baha’u’llah further offers an unfailing recipe for how to remain in His presence:

At the dawn of every day he should commune with God, and with all his soul persevere in the quest of his Beloved. He should consume every wayward thought with the flame of His loving mention, and, with the swiftness of lightning, pass by all else save Him.
(Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 192)

The communing with God is pretty obvious — daily prayer and meditation on the Holy Writings. The wayward thoughts are trickier to define, and to deal with. I am pretty sure for everyone they are different. For me sometimes these have been thoughts of things I used to do when I was too afraid of the painful reality of needing to grow; other times these were thoughts magnifying the faults of others with the same idea — of minimizing my own shortcomings.

But lately I am discovering a whole different category of thoughts that, when left unchecked, is a sure way of bringing pain upon myself — the thoughts that get me carried away from the present, whether back in the past reliving painful mistakes I have made or the future in a feeble attempt to plan it, calculate it, control it. The simple truth is, no one can predict the future. All that we know is the general direction of where things are going — spiritual progress not only despite physical pain but because of it. If we embrace the truth that growth is painful, the hope is we will not fight it, but will focus on enjoying God’s presence, one moment at a time.

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