Freedom from self
I recently attended a weekend seminar in the Louhelen Baha’i Retreat in Davison, Michigan. This conference was so personally refreshing that I felt like the content had applicability to everyone’s psycho-spiritual health. The main speaker was a 92-year-old gentleman who had spent his life in service to humanity in different parts of the world. His beloved wife of 65 years had recently passed away, but despite this loss and his age he had remarkable vitality and strength of spirit. Although it is impossible to summarize all he said, I will attempt to share a few key points that were especially meaningful to me as I try to apply them to my daily life.
He spoke with humility regarding the proper role of daily prayer and meditation in life. He emphasized that prayer should be offered with humility and purity of intention. Although the essence of God is unknowable, he spoke of the proper attitude one can bring to inner reflection and meditation by cultivating a sense of acceptance and contentment with the Divine Will active in the universe.
He identified attachment to the qualities of our lower self as a major barrier to serenity and joy in life and gave many examples of our animal self interfering with the expression of our true spiritual self. This spiritual self, when purified, is recognized by its focus on service to others, forgiveness, not insisting on its own conditions, and radiant love. He particularly emphasized nonattachment to praise and criticism from others. The point of reference then becomes inner guidance and the wisdom as revealed by spiritual traditions that result in love and harmony.
His many anecdotes and points of reference were taken from a rich life dedicated to the service of others. He provided real life situations and resolutions instead of dry advice. Since his wisdom was drawn from meditation and contemplation on the Baha’i Writings, here is a favorite quote of his from the revealed Writings of Baha’u'llah:
O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting.