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December 27, 2013

Question: What is essential to be truly happy?

The following list is personal, not based on any such listing in the Baha’i sacred writings.

First, believe in God. That is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

Knowing that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe helps to keep us humble and grateful. To know God’s attributes is to know yourself. Without the knowledge of God, it will be difficult to discover who you are.

Second, remember that love — the love of God, the love of humanity, and a sane love for oneself — is the great elixir. To love deeply and selflessly is to know great happiness. Love is the best healer.

Third, to the extent possible, strive to know God. The love and knowledge of God, Baha’u’llah (1817-1892), the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, has declared are “the generating impulse and the primary purpose underlying the whole of creation.”

Fourth, try to discover what God’s will is, not only for you in your individual life, your family and your faith community, but also for the entire human race. Discovering God’s will constitutes our divine guidance, upon which our happiness largely depends.

Fifth, know that you have a soul and that you are a spiritual being. ‘Abdu’l-Baha (1844-1921), the son and successor of Baha’u’llah, said that “Man is, in reality, a spiritual being, and only when he lives in the spirit is he truly happy.” Sixth, practice detachment, but not asceticism. Much of our human suffering comes from our emotional attachment to the things of this world, and a misplaced desire to hang on to them. We will eventually leave this world and everything that is in it.

Seventh, maintain a firm belief in the immortality of the soul and the afterlife. The belief that death is annihilation for ourselves and our loved ones is a factor leading to pessimism and degradation. Death is a “messenger of joy,” affirm the Baha’i writings, and deliverance from the womb-world. For believers, to die is to be promoted.

Eighth, know the joy of serving a great cause and being of service to others. Self-satisfaction alone restricts human happiness. To widen the circle of happiness is to experience greater joy.  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen December 27, 2013
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