It was in 1988 that I read the five steps for solving problems attributed to Shoghi Effendi. It was in the back of a little white prayer book.
5 Steps for Solving Problems*
The below five steps were suggested by the beloved Guardian Shoghi Effendi to a believer as a means of finding a solution through the use of prayer. This statement belongs to the category of statements known as “pilgrims notes”, and as such has no authority, but since it seems to be particularly helpful and clear it was felt that believers should not be deprived of it.
1st Step: Pray and meditate about it. Use the prayers of the Manifestations as they have the greatest power. Then remain in the silence of contemplation for a few minutes.
- I prayed the Remover of Difficulties from the Bab, and the Unity Prayer from Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha’s Prayer for the Southern States. I asked how I could teach peace in the schools. I knew through my experience with Sadako and the Thousand Cranes (that’s another story) that there is incredible spiritual energy available through teaching peace. I knew that I wanted to take that to a much wider audience.
2nd Step: Arrive at a decision and hold this. This decision is usually born during the contemplation. It may seem almost impossible of accomplishment but if it seems to be as answer to a prayer or a way of solving the problem, then immediately take the next step.
- I decided to develop a program for Florida schools, working with the Baha’is of Florida.
3rd Step: Have determination to carry the decision through. Many fail here. The decision, budding into determination, is blighted and instead becomes a wish or a vague longing. When determination is born, immediately take the next step.
- I moved my three girls to Gainesville and created Peace Education Now. I published a newsletter with peace education resources I had learned about at the women’s conference, Global Peace: From Vision to Reality. I started knocking on doors at the University of Florida, asking how I could do this.
4th Step: Have faith and confidence that the power will flow through you, the right way will appear, the door will open, the right thought, the right message, the right principle, or the right book will be given to you. Have confidence and the right thing will come to your need. Then, as you rise from prayer, take at once the 5th step.
- I trusted that I was being guided, and always knew when someone or something was part of the Plan.
5th Step: Act as though it had all been answered. Then act with tireless, ceaseless energy. And as you act, you, yourself, will become a magnet, which will attract more power to your being, until you become an unobstructed channel for the Divine power to flow through you.
- This is where I got into trouble. I let myself go too far into this frame of mind, and eventually got diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Finding the balance that works for me has been a learning experience since I was 50.
Many pray but do not remain for the last half of the first step. Some who meditate arrive at a decision, but fail to hold it. Few have the determination to carry the decision through, still fewer have the confidence that the right thing will come to their need.
- I’ve stayed on the path, continuously reaching out beyond my grasp, and sometimes stopping to pray for patience until the next right thing comes to my need.
But how many remember to act as though it had all been answered? How true are these words “Greater than the prayer is the spirit in which it is uttered” and greater than the way it is uttered is the spirit in which it is carried out.
- Now I’m inviting people to believe with me that we are headed to the Lesser Peace (by 2030? 2045? Why not?). The personal and societal transformation that would take would have to include recognition that we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. The words of the Earth Charter can guide us there. So my job at this point is to write Pacha and the Game: On the Road to 2030 and Beyond. And to find people who want to help write it and live it. (And that’s another story!)
- If you want to hear more, just ask Gramma Sue <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 91.