- Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i festival that is joyously celebrated in countries and territories all over the world. It is a time of hospitality, generosity, and caring for the needy. This year Ayyam-i-Ha runs from February 26-29.
Abdu’l-Baha suggests we should thank God a hundred-thousand times for being enabled to serve His Cause:
In short, thou shouldst thank God a hundred-thousand times for having been confirmed and strengthened in obtaining such a great gift [servitude]! Know thou the value thereof and consider that its price is highly appraised.Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 510
But what’s the best way to do it?
Here’s a list of seven things I think we can do to practice being grateful:
1. Saying “Thank You”
This is certainly the most common way, but Abdu’l-Baha says it’s of no importance, since the tongue may give thanks while the heart is unaware of it. On the meaning of thanksgiving Abdu’l-Baha said:
Thankfulness is of various kinds. There is a verbal thanksgiving which is confined to a mere utterance of gratitude. This is of no importance because perchance the tongue may give thanks while the heart is unaware of it. Many who offer thanks to God are of this type; their spirits and hearts unconscious of thanksgiving. This is mere usage, just as when we meet, receive a gift and say thank you, speaking the words without significance.Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 236
2. Deeds and Actions
To express our gratitude for the many favors of God, we can render good deeds, be self-sacrificing, love the servants of God, even forfeiting our lives for them and showing kindness to all the creatures.
There is a cordial thanksgiving, too, which expresses itself in the deeds and actions of man when his heart is filled with gratitude. For example, God has conferred upon man the gift of guidance, and in thankfulness for this great gift certain deeds must emanate from him. To express his gratitude for the favors of God man must show forth praiseworthy actions. In response to these bestowals he must render good deeds, be self-sacrificing, loving the servants of God, forfeiting even life for them, showing kindness to all the creatures.Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 236
3. Live in Harmony with the Good Pleasure of God
Abdu’l-Baha says that when we live in harmony with the good pleasure of God, it’s a commendable deed and a way to be thankful for all the favors of God.
Whatsoever he wishes to do must be in harmony with the good pleasure of God. He must observe and see what is the will of God and act accordingly. There can be no doubt that such commendable deeds are thankfulness for the favors of God.Abdu’l-Baha, “The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 236
4. Spiritual Feelings and Merciful Sentiments
Thanksgiving consists in the illumination of the heart; the feeling of the soul – spiritual feelings and merciful sentiments:
In these times thanksgiving for the bounty of the Merciful One consists in the illumination of the heart and the feeling of the soul. This is the reality of thanksgiving. But, although offering thanks through speech or writings is approvable, yet, in comparison with that, it is but unreal, for the foundation is spiritual feelings and merciful sentiments.Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith, p. 360
5. Possess a Radiant Heart and a Soul Open to the Promptings of the Spirit
The essence of thanksgiving is to possess a radiant heart and a soul opened to the promptings of the spirit:
In this day, to thank God for His bounties consisteth in possessing a radiant heart, and a soul open to the promptings of the spirit. This is the essence of thanksgiving. As for offering thanks by speaking out or writing, although this is indeed acceptable, yet when compared with that other thanksgiving, it is only a semblance and unreal; for the essential thing is these intimations of the spirit, these emanations from the deep recess of the heart.Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 179
Because God has chosen us and distinguished us for His love, we must thank Him a thousand times in every moment, and the best way to do it is through service:
The grace of God hath chosen thee and distinguished thee for His love, that thou mayest thank Him a thousand times in every moment. Because of this bounty, you must choose to serve the maid-servants of the Merciful.Abdu’l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu’l-Baha v3, p. 507-508
7. Love One Another
But the best way of all to thank God, is to love one another!
The best way to thank God is to love one another.Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 468
Here’s a great story about the attitude we should have towards gratitude for everything that happens to us, no matter what:
Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to teach, so he asked them questions to see if they were prepared as he would have them be. “When you go to the East and to the West,” said the Buddha, “and the people shut their doors to you and refuse to speak to you, what will you do?”—The disciples answered and said: “We shall be very thankful that they do us no harm.”—“Then if they do you harm and mock, what will you do?”—“We shall be very thankful that they do not give us worse treatment.”—“If they throw you into prison?”—“We shall still be grateful that they do not kill us.”—“What if they were to kill you?” the Master asked for the last time. “Still,” answered the disciples, “we will be thankful, for they cause us to be martyrs. What more glorious fate is there than this, to die for the glory of God?” And the Buddha said: “Well done!”Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 63-64
No matter how we give thanks, though, it will never be enough to repay God’s many bestowals to us:
Were I—and to this Thy glory beareth me witness—to render thanksgiving unto Thee, through the whole continuance of Thy kingdom and the duration of the heaven of Thine omnipotence, I would still have failed to repay Thy manifold bestowals.Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 122
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