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Old 05-30-2011, 03:36 AM   #1
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Rani's Avatar
Joined: May 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 507
Pls help -friends and the company that we keep.

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you with something weighing on my mind..
And I would like to include this Hidden Word below as one reference for discussion.

In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold. Treasure the companionship of the righteous and eschew all fellowship with the ungodly.
(Baha'u'llah, The Persian Hidden Words)

My question is about who are the 'ungodly' and about the company that we keep.

I will include another reference by Shoghi Effendi:

1. In the passage "eschew all fellowship with the ungodly", Bahá'u'lláh means that we should shun the company of those who disbelieve in God and are wayward. The word "ungodly" is a reference to such perverse people. The words "Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones" should not be taken in their literal sense. Bahá'u'lláh's advice is that again we should flee from the enemies of God, and instead seek the fellowship of His lovers.
(Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 200)

I am seeking advice or people's impressions about what they might do in a similar situation to one that I was/am in.

I have a friend (a non-baha'i) who I've known for many yrs. Several yrs after I first met her, she began having an affair with a married man. (She is unmarried). While I was quite shocked and surprised and saddened about that turn of events, I coped with it at the time by mostly avoiding or changing the subject if it came up. I certainly didn't want to encourage it and I felt at the time that she may have seen any urging on my part for her to change her behaviour as me being judgemental. Although I know at times I did try to help her see things from the wife's perspective, I tried to stay away from the subject mostly.

Several months and weeks ago, it started upsetting me more-so, seeing as the web just seemed to be becoming even more tangled. One fib seemed to lead to another. There are a couple of (other) men around, one of whom actually thinks he is in a relationship with her, because he knows nothing about her r'ship or involvement with this first man, as she seems to market herself as a single (unattached) woman. This affair has gone on for over 10 yrs now.

I found it upsetting me, as I felt it was not fair to these men, and felt at the time that I should reduce my contact with her. The harshest thing I said to her several weeks back is when I referred to her r'ship with this married person as 'unhealthy'.
In context, and in a moment of frustration, my actual words to her were:, "I don't understand why you don't give this fellow a go, yet, you'd rather stay in an unhealthy relationship".

Since then, even though we still have contact, each of us has contacted the other much less.
The reason why I am questioning whether I've done the right thing, and why it troubles me somewhat is because I think religion should be a cause of friendship. Friendliness is probably one of the most important qualities to me. And so, it makes me wonder if I've done the right thing in withdrawing to an extent. I feel that it's quite likely she thinks I am being judgemental of her.

I can easily become confused because when you read the Writings of Abdu-Baha there is much focus on being a friend to everyone whereas Baha'u'llah's Writings are a bit more firm.
I don't like the thought that religion might be seen as a cause of disunity, or of self-righteousness even, and am concerned that by me having an opinion about her behaviour and withdrawing a bit, she is possibly seeing me in that light.. as some self-righteous 'religious' person.

Yet, with the tangled messy web that was occuring I felt it was making my heart feel weighed down and heavy, and wondered if that was a sign that I should spend less time with her. -with that Hidden Word above in mind.

And yet, growing up as a christian, (now baha'i) being non-judgemental was (and is) incredibly important to me.

Sorry if this note has been a bit all over the place, but I need to go to bed. Any advice and impressions would be greatly appreciated.
Warmest regards.. Rani.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:34 AM   #2
Joined: Nov 2010
From: Richmond, Indiana
Posts: 252
I always thought the ungodly are the covenant breakers, who knowingly disobey God
Old 05-30-2011, 09:17 AM   #3
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arthra's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2006
From: California
Posts: 4,303
A few things come to mind..

My suggestion:

You need to "let go" of what is weighing on your mind.. You sound way too involved and fixated on this person..

Sometimes just letting go of a relationship is the best thing..

You can seek guidance from your Spiritual Assembly who know you better than anyone here on the web...!
Old 05-30-2011, 10:45 AM   #4
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Rani's Avatar
Joined: May 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 507
Thank you for your responses..

Humbly speaking.. I don't think I'm 'fixated' on her.. The only reason it is a concern for me is that she has been one of my main friends for a long time, and I want to feel that I'm doing the right thing, or at least not doing the wrong thing.
Because surely how we relate to other people and friends is a huge and defining part of who we are.

Sboyce, I did have someone in the past tell me that the 'ungodly' refers to covenant-breakers, however this quote from Shoghi Effendi above says that it refers to those who 'disbelieve in God and are wayward.'.

Perhaps I will contact my LSA. I had wondered if it might be too personal a topic -one that they might think I should address on my own, but it's possible I may not feel rest and assurance until I do so.
Old 05-30-2011, 10:50 AM   #5
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cire perdue's Avatar
Joined: Sep 2010
From: Louisiana
Posts: 1,758
an honest reply

I think what you said was probably spontaneous and slipped out. I think your remark was how you really felt. I don't think we can help people like that. If we cling to those relationships we may not make better ones. Please don't see this as shunning people. We live in a very sick society that is demonstatably decadent. Our media entertainment encourages this as well. I wish I avoided that better than I do. I watch only Netflicks, but sadly as a product of the times for instance, I liked "Silence of the Lambs". In a more spiritual time that would be seen as sick stuff.

However that is where I am and who I am. It is what I deal with to grow spiritually. Shunning is a very fundamentalist approach of dealing with others who don't accept our values. We need to be able to love and accept others and we must start with ourselves. Being too close to others who live a lifestyle modelled by our societies' decadent and unhealthy values is a waste of our time and probably has a negative effect on us. I pray that God brings better people into our lives.
Old 05-30-2011, 11:21 AM   #6
Senior Member
Rani's Avatar
Joined: May 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 507
Thank you cire perdue.. I think you accurately picked up on what was bothering me most, which was that I hate the thought of 'shunning', and didn't want to do that, or to be thought of as doing that.

But I don't think I have done that, because when she and I do speak (it has gone from almost daily contact to now being about once a week), I still try to be nice /caring, courteous etc. I don't intend on retracting the comment I made to her about her r'ship being 'unhealthy' though, because that is what I believe.

I've been saying the prayer below a bit more lately which includes this sentence.: 'Cause me to be associated in Thy Kingdom with those who are severed from all else save Thee, who long to serve Thy sacred threshold and who stand to work in Thy Cause..'

I feel that since I've been saying it more regularly, a few people who I love and admire from my past have contacted me, which gives me confidence that God is hearing my prayer. I just don't ever want 'religiousness' on my part or on the part of baha'is to be seen as thinking that we're better, and I don't want to be aloof. We're meant to attract people to ourselves!
Thank you again for your inputs.

O my Lord, my Beloved, my Desire! Befriend me in my loneliness and accompany me in my exile. Remove my sorrow. Cause me to be devoted to Thy beauty. Withdraw me from all else save Thee. Attract me through Thy fragrances of holiness. Cause me to be associated in Thy Kingdom with those who are severed from all else save Thee, who long to serve Thy sacred threshold and who stand to work in Thy Cause. Enable me to be one of Thy maidservants who have attained to Thy good pleasure. Verily, Thou art the Gracious, the Generous.

- 'Abdu'l-Bahá 33

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 31)

Last edited by Rani; 05-30-2011 at 11:57 AM.
Old 05-30-2011, 12:05 PM   #7
Senior Member
Rani's Avatar
Joined: May 2011
From: Australia
Posts: 507
For clarity's sake, perhaps I should say that while there is an LSA in my municipality, I do live in a regional area, and the baha'is are few and far between.
Old 05-30-2011, 04:19 PM   #8
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arthra's Avatar
Joined: Jun 2006
From: California
Posts: 4,303
Originally Posted by Rani View Post
For clarity's sake, perhaps I should say that while there is an LSA in my municipality, I do live in a regional area, and the baha'is are few and far between.
I'd urge you to consider consulting with your nearest Assembly as it's been bothering you and they are there ..the Assemblies that is, for the friends. They are also bound by confidentiality so you should have no fear in consulting them. All you need do is contact their secretary and schedule a time to meet with them.
Old 05-30-2011, 08:49 PM   #9
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Joined: Dec 2010
From: Australia
Posts: 2,056
It is good to consort with all people in a spirit of friendliness and non-judgementalism.
I do not think you were being judgemental by saying that once. You did it because you wanted the best for her.
In any case it is important not to have an attitude of superiority when trying to help people understand morals and why they should adhere to these standards but this is probably one of the most difficult things you will ever do.
Baha'u'llah says how difficult it is to change satanic strength into heavenly power. Dont think that it is your responisbility to save this woman. We all have our own pathway and everyone choses their own actions. I know many circumstances of people trying to change others. Manipulate to get their way whether it be to adopt a moral life or to conform to their agenda. In the end it never workds and will most likely backfire.
Be a pure and clear channel for the grace of God. Be there to help your friend when she needs you, thats all you can really do...

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