Productivity and joy

All of my life people around me have focused on the “bottom line” (using their own particular definition). I think this has become a problem for those of us in the West, owing to the ways we tend to define “effective” and “successful”.

All around me, everywhere, I encounter people saddened, either by life, or by the lack of spirit in their community, or by conditions in the world at large. At the same time, everyone is clamoring for things to be done: they want everything to produce a specific end result: and they believe better structure and more resources is the answer to the problem.

Are they? How much can we accomplish without joy and unity? The world has countless resources, why aren’t its problems solved? There are many people showing forth extreme productivity, then why are people still unhappy?

This is an issue I think we need to plumb to its depths, because there exists an unspoken ambivalence with regards to flights of the spirit in our community. I for one believe that mysticism is ultimately practical, because only the joyful heart can attract other hearts. As `Abdu’l-Bahá once wrote, “Who can share the Cup of Everlasting Life, who has himself not tasted a drop?”

Some recent events, here and elsewhere – which need not be dwelt on – simply give voice to this undercurrent. We sometimes prevent ourselves from engaging in the exact kind of activities which uplift and create spiritual resources, because we cannot define the immediate material products of those activities. Is this right? When we look to the end of things, what kind of end should it be?

To me, if the people around me feel confirmed in their Faith, if they are illumined in spirit and recommitted in their hearts, this effect will yield fruits that themselves will yield fruit, since it creates fertility in the mind and heart. It begets creativity, and the willingness to persevere. Requiring numerical or demonstrable results is what we’ve been doing for the last hundred years, and look where we are! We know things must change – that we don’t even begin to represent our future World Order. Perhaps our restrictive attitude towards unspeakable questions is one of those things that needs to change.

But this is spoken according to my own prejudices, and my own history. This list was created so people would not feel alone, and would ultimately become confirmed and strengthened by consorting with people of a similar spirit. From this, they could shake off their burden of silence, and become more exuberant toward life, and carry this over into their work and their community. This has already happened for me. You cannot know how much joy and happiness your responses and support have added to my life. In a way, it has drawn from me five times the commitment of energy that existed before, because I am now empowered by your spiritual support and connection. In worlds unseen our souls consort, and we whisper to each other of secrets and mysteries. Just knowing there is a place like this where I can say such things, causes me to sigh with joy.

What are your thoughts? I’m not asking what needs to change, because that is the old approach. We need a new approach. Everything we’ve tried before has not attracted the Kingdom. I want to know what will unlock your soul, what will enliven you, what will engender the conditions of true productivity and result. The genuine mystic, in my belief, can attract the power of the Holy Spirit to such an extent – through prayer, devotion and labor – that their mere presence acts as a magnet of love and rejoicing, and everyone, spiritually, is affected for the better. They do this by reflecting the bounties of God through an ever-purer heart, for as Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “… a single breath from the breezes of the Day of Thy Revelation is enough to adorn all mankind with a fresh attire.”

We must cast off the approaches of the past, which sometimes are indeed nothing more than words designed to comfort the ego; we must also reject old titles people would place upon us to prevent our transformation. “No bond shall hold them back, and no counsel shall deter them.”

Let us define ourselves by consulting on what our intentions are, why we pursue the course that we do, and what our special response to the yearly call of the House of Justice will be. Our life exists to serve and nurture the Cause of our Beloved; how could anyone possibly impugn a contrary motive?