Prompt: How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?
THE POWER of THE WORD
My friend Kereshmeh Henderson (K), a fellow Baha’i, has been hosting devotional gatherings in her home every Sunday for the past three years.
Devotional gatherings are as diverse as the people hosting them around the world. K always begins hers with a musical selection and then four of her guests each read one of don Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements.
1. Be Impeccable With Your Word – Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally – Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
4. Always Do Your Best – Your best is going to change from moment to moment. It will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.
THE POWER of REPITITION
I attend K’s devotions three out of four Sundays a month. This means I’ve heard the Four Agreements repeated at least 100 times. They finally sank in and I was able to put them to work this year, with the help of other friends.
In one instance, while cleaning out my office (a task I loathe), I muttered something unflattering about my competence and a friend reminded me of the First Agreement, not to use the word against myself. It was a little thing, but profound. I noticed that I’m much more prudent in guarding my speech about others than I am about myself and decided that I’m entitled to the same goodwill. Of course speech is a product of belief, and now I’m digging into the beliefs I have about myself and trying to determine which are accurate, which are inherited, which have been imposed and which are false.
I noticed that being charitable about my own shortcomings allowed me to be more patient with others. This Baha’i scripture helps, too.
Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy. Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls. He created them, trains and provides for them, endows them with capacity and life, sight and hearing; therefore, they are the signs of His grandeur. You must love and be kind to everybody, care for the poor, protect the weak, heal the sick, teach and educate the ignorant.” — Abdu’l-Bahá