Positive? Negative?


My college Baha’i club was something of a haven for certain members of the local Baha’i community. One woman had memorized a prayer which she said at every opportunity. It was something like, “O, God, make me so meek and such a nothing that no difficulty perturbs me in the slightest . . .” You know, that sort of thing, though of course in much more elaborate language. The line that got me bad every time was about quelling every rebellious passion. I would sit there in the silence of my rebellious passion and think, “I can’t help it, I hate this prayer.”

From a different person I might have felt it differently. But the combination of those words with that personality, everything so neatly ordered and just so and tied up with perfect reasonableness, rationality and good cheer . . .What was it we used to say in sixth grade? Gag me with a spoon. Life is not neat, or reasonable, nor, if you’re paying attention, does it give cause for never-ending good cheer. And a prayer like that should be handled with care, if at all, as it is the kind of thing that helps keep people (women especially) in very bad places when feelings of rebellion and repulsion and the assertion of self should propel them out. I wondered why I never saw this prayer in print, and it gave me unholy pleasure not much later to discover that it was inauthentic, or at least not authenticated for Abdu’l-Baha or Baha’u’llah.

{josquote}Ironically, speaking openly of negatives, faults, or problems is one bad thing for which devotees of the sin-covering eye will often suspend their principle of seeing only the good. The one definitely addressable negative is the addressing of negatives.{/josquote}

Now I find that another oft-referenced passage that I have always disliked, for much the same reason, is apparently unauthenticated as well: “Look always at the good and not at the bad. If a man has ten good qualities and one bad one, we must look at the ten and forget the one. And if a man has ten bad qualities and one good one, we must look at the one and forget the ten.” According to the handy-dandy search tool at TrueSeeker, this appears in Baha’u’llah and the New Era, in the section titled “The Sin-Covering Eye” (p. 82–83). We are told that “Abdu’l-Baha tells us,” but not when and under what conditions Abdu’l-Baha tells us.

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