Meditation and worship

On my last blog message, I quoted extensively from Abdu'l-Baha. In his talk, he described the process we need to follow in order to grow spiritually. He explained that meditation was crucial for attaining eternal life because, in meditation, we abstract ourselves from this world by closing off our outer sight and concentrating solely on our inner sight. This process causes us to turn our souls toward the spiritual world. This is important because our souls are like mirrors, which means that they reflect whatever is put in front of them. If we put worldly things in front of them, then they will reflect worldly things. If we turn out attention to the spiritual realities - that is, the reality of the Word - then we will reflect that reality.

This admonishment to close our eyes to this world and open them to the spiritual world is everywhere in the writings. Baha'u'llah says it so often that it is easy to miss. And it takes some thought to figure out what he means by it and why it is important to do it.

Here are a couple of the clearest statements from Baha'u'llah about this:

"O son of dust! Blind thine eyes, that thou mayest behold My beauty; stop thine ears, that thou mayest hearken unto the sweet melody of My voice; empty thyself of all learning, that thou mayest partake of My knowledge; and sanctify thyself from riches, that thou mayest obtain a lasting share from the ocean of My eternal wealth. Blind thine eyes, that is, to all save My beauty; stop thine ears to all save My word; empty thyself of all learning save the knowledge of Me; that with a clear vision, a pure heart and an attentive ear thou mayest enter the court of My holiness." (PHW 11)

"O man of two visions! Close one eye and open the other. Close one to the world and all that is therein, and open the other to the hallowed beauty of the Beloved." (PHW 12)

But if you read all the Hidden Words with this in mind, you'll realise that it's the underlying theme of many Hidden Words; for example: "O friends! Abandon not the everlasting beauty for a beauty that must die, and set not your affections on this mortal world of dust." (PHW 14)

The importance of turning our attention to the spiritual world and away from this world during meditation explains why we must worship God regularly. Not only in meditation do we abstract ourselves, but also in worship. Worship is a funny thing; it is easy to overlook its importance. After all, what do we do in worship? We sit around and listen to readings. So what? I used to wonder what the fuss was about. I couldn't see why it was important that I read the writings every morning and evening. And at feasts, the devotion section was not given much preparation. All the energy went into the administration section and ensuring people had nice things to eat. We did devotions because Baha'u'llah told us to, but we never truly understood why we should do them. This is because the pull of this world was still operating on us. I was submerged in the world, and that was reflected in the fact that I'd say my prayers only when I got around to it. I never knew that the purpose was to have the spiritual world grow as a reality in me and that it would one day completely engulf me.

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