Based on the Baha’i Writings, the suggestions below may hopefully help you to bring about this fundamental change in your character and your everyday economic actions. There are 53 suggestions but we discuss 8 on this blog.
This list of suggestions may seem overwhelming, and you may not be able to practice all those that apply to your situation. But you have to remember that it is not about the results; it is about sincere and wholehearted efforts. It is a pure intention that counts.
- Spend an equal amount of energy in becoming detached from material possessions as you spend getting them, recognizing that they are a test and remembering what Baha’u’llah said:
“Thou dost wish for gold, and I desire thy freedom from it. Thou thinkest thyself rich in its possession, and I recognize thy wealth in thy sanctity therefrom. By My life! This is My Knowledge, and that is thy fancy; how can My way accord with thine?”-The Hidden Words, Arabic no.56
It is like spiritual detoxification. There is nothing inherently wrong with being rich as long as we are fully aware of its benefits and dangers. Baha’u’llah has allowed us to have all the luxuries we desire, as long as we are detached from them.
- Remind yourself of your spiritual destination while pursuing financial goals, since materialism can slowly take over your spiritual life. Without constant reminders of our spiritual destiny, materialism can destroy our spiritual well-being. We have to have the “big picture” in our view all the time so that we are not lost.
- Live the Bahá’i Life. In a sense, it is a simple statement to live the Bahá’i life, but it requires an understanding of ourselves and our purpose in life. It is easier said than done.
- Be considerate to those who rent from you. Be sensitive to their situation. If they are in trouble, be flexible with their rent payments. Let them miss a payment or part of a payment. Besides the spiritual satisfaction that you feel, you also gain a tenant who cares for you and your property and will use it as if it’s theirs. It even makes economic sense since you will probably lessen the cost of repairs.
- Develop virtues that are common to all religions and are the foundation for any system’s success. At present, acquiring the virtues seems idealistic, but we have to remember that as we move closer to an ever-advancing civilization, acquiring these virtues will be commonplace. They may not seem as if they have anything to do with economics, but they help us to gain spiritual and human qualities which help us to create a better society. Here is the list of virtues identified by The Virtues Project:
Assertiveness, Caring, Cleanliness, Compassion, Confidence, Consideration, Courage, Courtesy Creativity, Detachment, Determination, Enthusiasm, Excellence, Faithfulness, Flexibility, Forgiveness, Friendliness, Generosity, gentleness, Helpfulness, Honesty, Honour, Humility, Idealism, Joyfulness, Justice, Kindness, Love, Loyalty, Mercy, Moderation, Modesty, Obedience, Orderliness, Patience, Peacefulness, Prayerfulness, Purposefulness, Reliability, Respect, Responsibility, Reverence, Self-discipline, Service, Steadfastness, Tact, Thankfulness, Tolerance, Trust, Trustworthiness, Truthfulness, Unity
- Deal with your insistent self or ego; otherwise, it can undo any success or progress if it is not recognized as a serious threat to our good efforts. History is full of examples of how egos created destruction throughout the ages. As human beings, our life in this world and our progress in the next world depend on the decisions we make. Some say we make our own heaven and hell here on earth as a result of the choices we make. It is sad if we do not make the right decision and give our higher nature the upper hand. Because we are bombarded by advertisements and consumerism, nurturing our higher nature is very difficult, and that is why we need to tune ourselves spiritually to make the right choice so that we get the rewards and benefits of that choice. We know that reading the Writings has been encouraged in our Faith, and when we read the Holy Writings and meditate on them, our souls are uplifted, and that affects our decision making. Our souls are tuned by reading the Writings and bringing ourselves to account each day. It is like a spiritual balance sheet so that we can perceive the good and the bad in our ways. This is such an important factor in our lives, and we need to take the opportunity to deal with it adequately.
- Recognize and nurture the four aspects of your being:
- a) Spiritual
- b) Physical
- c) Emotional
- d) Intellectual
Most people ignore one aspect for the sake of others, but we need all aspects to have balance in our lives. This sounds like one of those self-help mantras, but awareness of all aspects of our being is essential to realistic self-knowledge, which is the first step towards knowing God.
- Be more vocal in a loving way about what we think about the changes that are needed for the improvement of the economic life of individuals and the society in which we live; in short, without being militant or aggressive, express our ideas and vision. We all have a say in all matters, and we can be the catalysts of positive change. We do not want to be political or militant, but we cannot forget that our job is providing vision and direction to wayward humanity. It is like having the healing medicine and not giving it to the sick.