9. Reading

  1. Set a goal to improve your appreciation and practice of the regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.
  2. Read the divine verse each morning and evening for at least a week.
  3. Focus on reading with more reverence, attention and thought.
  4. Bring yourself to account each day as to your progress.
  5. Memorize the following verse: Recite ye the verses of God every morning, and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfill his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, #149)

Unformatted Text of Living a Spiritual Life: 9. Reading

Rodney H. Clarken, Copyright © 2011

Module Objective

You will appreciate, understand and practice the reading of the Sacred Scriptures at least each morning and evening with reverence, attention and thought.

What is the essential requisite for spiritual growth on reading?

2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.

What does read mean?

Read (v.tr.) To examine and grasp the meaning of

Synonyms: accept, apprehend, compass, comprehend, conceive, fathom, follow, get, grasp, see, sense, take, understand. construe, interpret, take.

What are sacred scriptures?

The Holy Books of the world’s religions. Also refers to the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 751)

What is reverence?

Reverence: (v.tr.) To consider or treat with profound awe and respect; venerate.

Synonyms: adoration, veneration, worship
What is attention?

Attention: Concentration of the mental powers upon an object; a close or careful observing or listening.

Synonyms: attentiveness, concentration, consideration, heedfulness, regardfulness cognizance, espial, heed, mark, note, notice, observance, observation, regard, remark.

What is thought?

Thought: The act or process of thinking:

Think: (v.tr.) To reason about or reflect on; ponder; (v.intr.) To exercise the power of reason, as by conceiving ideas, drawing inferences, and using judgment.

Synonyms: brainwork, cerebration, cogitation, contemplation, deliberation, meditation, reflection, rumination, speculation.

What does Baha’u’llah say about this requisite?

“Recite ye the verses of God every morning, and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all. (cont.)

Pride not yourselves on much reading

of the verses or on a multitude of pious acts by night and day; for were a man to read a single verse with joy and radiance it would be better for him than to read with lassitude all the Holy Books of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Read ye the sacred verses in such measure (cont.)

that ye be not overcome by languor and despondency.

Lay not upon your souls that which will weary them and weigh them down, but rather what will lighten and uplift them, so that they may soar on the wings of the Divine verses towards the Dawning-place of His manifest signs; this will draw you nearer to God, did ye but comprehend. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, #149)

Summarize the above guidance from the Kitab-i-Aqdas

You may go back to look at the above quote.

Summary of above guidance from the Kitab-i-Aqdas

Recite verses of God every morning and evening to fulfill pledge to Covenant

Better to read a single verse with joy and radiance than all the Holy Books with lassitude

Read so not overcome by languor and despondency, but rather to lighten and uplift soul

What are the consequences for not reciting the verses?

Answer to those who do not recite the verses?

Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, #149)

What does recite mean?

v.tr. To repeat or utter aloud

Synonym: To give a verbal account of: describe, narrate, recount, rehearse, relate, report, tell.
Bahai meaning: to say, read, intone, chant, may be done silently or aloud, the purpose is to understand the texts, not uncomprehending recitation. *

What is the intention of “Recite ye the
verses of God every morn and eventide?”

The intention is all that hath been sent down from the Heaven of Divine Utterance. The prime requisite is the eagerness and love of sanctified souls to read the Word of God. To read one verse, or even one word, in a spirit of joy and radiance, is preferable to the perusal of many Books. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Q & A 68, p. 126)

What is the essential requisite for reciting the verses?

Bahá’u’lláh states that the essential “requisite” for reciting “the verses of God” is the “eagerness and love” of the believers to “read the Word of God” (Q and A 68). (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, n. 165, p. 236)

What are the verses of God?

With regard to the definition of “verses of God”, Bahá’u’lláh states that it refers to “all that hath been sent down from the Heaven of Divine Utterance”. Shoghi Effendi… clarified that the term “verses of God” does not include the writings of Abdu’l-Bahá; he has likewise indicated that this term does not apply to his own writings. (The Kitab-i-Aqdas,   n. 165, p. 236)

What about the writings of the Bab?

“nothing has been found in the Writings… Thus, you feel free to come to your own conclusion as to whether or not you will include the Writings of the Bab in observing this particular injunction of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.” (on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, 11/30/95)

Answer this questions.

Based on all the above, what should we do “every morning, and evening?”

Possible answers

Recite the verses of God (Baha’u’llah’s Writings) or read the Sacred Scriptures (the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Holy Books) at least each morning and evening with reverence, attention, thought,  joy, radiance, eagerness and love, and without pride, languor, despondency or weariness.

What does Abdu’l-Baha say about reading?

Glean what guidance you can about how and why we should read holy texts from the passage on the following 6 slides. You will be asked to share later. This advice also relates to the next module on meditation. You may refer back to it then.

How and why should we study holy scriptures?

“Investigate and study the Holy Scriptures word by word so that you may attain knowledge of the mysteries hidden therein. Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words.

How are divine words to be taken?

It is difficult to comprehend even the words of a philosopher; how much more difficult it is to understand the Words of God. The divine Words are not to be taken according to their outer sense. They are symbolical and contain realities of spiritual meaning.

What profits you in reading?

It is not the reading of the words that profits you; it is the understanding of their meanings. Therefore, pray God that you may be enabled to comprehend the mysteries of the divine Testaments.

How are holy texts to be read?

All the texts and teachings of the holy Testaments have intrinsic spiritual meanings. They are not to be taken literally. I, therefore, pray in your behalf that you may be given the power of understanding these inner real meanings of the Holy Scriptures ….

What brings greatest comfort and happiness?

May your souls be illumined by the light of the Words of God, and may you become repositories of the mysteries of God, for no comfort is greater and no happiness is sweeter than spiritual comprehension of the divine teachings.

What is the fruit of the Word of God?

…perceive the inner significances of the Word of God. There is no fruit in knowing the mere letters of the Book. Most of the Jews had memorized the texts of the Old Testament and repeated them night and day, but inasmuch as they were ignorant of the meanings, they were deprived of the bounties of Christ. (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 458-60)

In you own words, summarize the above 6 slides in one statement.

Some summary statements

Read for spiritual, inner and symbolic significances of the Word of God, not literal.

Comfort and happiness results from spiritual comprehension of divine teachings.

Study the Holy Scriptures to uncover the hidden mysteries.

Upon what is true understanding conditioned?

No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding except he be detached from all that is in heaven and on earth. Sanctify your souls, O ye peoples of the world, that haply ye may attain that station which God hath destined for you …they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, (cont.)

What must we do for faith and certitude?

must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly — their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 3)

How can learning be a veil?

We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge; and yet, behold how ye have allowed your learning to shut you out, as by a veil, from Him Who is the Dayspring of this Light, through Whom every hidden thing hath been revealed. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 56)

What is the most grievous veil between us and God?

“Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator.” (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 69)

What condition is needed for the knowledge of God?

Likewise, ask thou of God that the magnet of His love should draw unto thee the knowledge of Him. Once a soul becometh holy in all things, purified, sanctified, the gates of the knowledge of God will open wide before his eyes. (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 190)

What happens the more we read the writings?

To deepen in the Cause means to read the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh and the Master so thoroughly as to be able to give it to others in its pure form….There is no limit to the study of the Cause. The more we read the writings the more truths we can find in them and the more we will see that our previous notions were erroneous. (behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 8/25/26)

To what is the Word of God likened?

Incline your hearts, O people of God, unto the counsels of your true, your incomparable Friend. The Word of God may be likened unto a sapling, whose roots have been implanted in the hearts of men. (cont.)

How do we foster its growth?

It is incumbent upon you to foster its growth though the living waters of wisdom, of sanctified and holy words, so that its root may become firmly fixed and its branches may spread out as high as the heavens and beyond. (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 97)

What is our purpose and how do we achieve it?

Transformation is the essential purpose of the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh, but it lies in the will and effort of the individual to achieve it in obedience to the Covenant. Necessary to the progress of this life-fulfilling transformation is knowledge of the will and purpose of God through regular reading and study of the Holy Word. (The Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 64)

Review questions.

What should we regularly read?

How regularly?

With what qualities should we read?

Potential answers.

1. What should we regularly read?

A: Sacred Scriptures, verses of God

2. How regularly?

A: specifically at least each morning and evening

3. With what qualities should we read?

A: reverence, attention, thought,  joy, radiance, eagerness and love.

How can I remember the qualities of reverence, attention and thought?

Try an acronym: Take the first letters of the words

Reverence

Attention

Thought

to spell RAT (or ART or TAR if you wish)

Regular Reading with a RAT

Write two-three word definitions for each.

Sacred Scripture:

Regular:

Reading:

Reverence:

Attention:

Thought:

Some short definitions:

Sacred Scripture: holy texts

Regular: every morning and evening

Reading: understand, apprehend

Reverence: admiration, veneration

Attention: concentration, consideration

Thought: reflection, contemplation

Give at least three reasons to read scriptures?

Why read? Some answers.

To be endowed with new life, understanding and ability: to feel, think and act better .

To open our hearts, which in reality are the doors of heaven.

To discover pearls of great price, solve problems, be faithful to the Covenant of God and of service to humanity.

List guidance given for reading.

Some guidance for reading.

Read for spiritual, inner and symbolic significances, not literal.

Study the Holy Scriptures to uncover the hidden mysteries.

Do not be veiled by acquired knowledge

Read with detachment, purity, open mindedness.

Seek truth.

Give guidance in addition to what was given in this module.

Some guidance in addition to what given in this module.

Systematically study using scientific and rational methods.

Read free of prejudice and blind imitation.

Read with purity of heart, chastity of soul and freedom of spirit.

Assignment: Goal Setting

Set a goal to improve your appreciation and practice of the regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.

Assignment: Practice

Read the divine verse each morning and evening for at least a week or indefinitely if you can.

Focus on reading with more reverence, attention and thought.

Bring yourself to account each day as to your progress.

Assignment: Meditate and Memorize

Recite ye the verses of God every morning, and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfill his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O My servants, one and all. (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, #149)

When ready, proceed to the next module

10. Meditation

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