Nothing to Be Ashamed About

Over the last 50 years there has been, especially from our brothers and sisters of the USA, an increased tendency to find shame, well, a shameful thing. And in finding it a shameful thing, have rejected it as a virtue. A recent ‘meme’ I read on facebook had shame characterised as a barrier to spiritual  transformation. This rejection needs revisiting, as much because there is a misunderstanding about what shame is, and also, because, in this misunderstanding, it is not recognised that much of the world’s travails are directly related to a lack of shame.

Let me start this exploration with the words of Baha’u’llah from the 19th Century. “Verily I say: The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation. Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed, and do not possess, it. It is incumbent upon the kings and the spiritual leaders of the world to lay fast hold on religion, inasmuch as through it the fear of God is instilled in all else but Him.” (Baha’u’llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27)

Two ideas stand out from Baha’u’llah’s disposition here. The first is pointing to a definition of shame, which I take as meaning that there is an ability to: recognise what is unworthy and unseemly; and the result of this is that SHAME prevents a person from acting in that manner. In other words, without performing any unseemly act we can recognise the possibility of it within us, and SHAME is a tendency to avoid those acts. The second point is that Baha’u’llah recognises that FEW have a sense of SHAME. So, rather than being something that the mass of humanity is beset by in some way, shame is a more like the name for a natural supreme talent in recognising unseemliness and being that it is something one does not take into one’s present or future relationship. Rather than being a less transformed person, a person with shame has the Olympic athlete potential for transformation.

Therefore, to the rest of us, Baha’u’llah encourages to some competency through the fear of God and obeying God’s Law.

Returning to the power of shame, then, what would be that something a shameful person would recognise with themselves that they avoid taking into their future. I suggest that this something correlates to another of Baha’u’llah’s teachings that, “To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 214)

Perhaps the shameful person recognises, with a certain acuity of insight, that within themselves is a ‘beast’. Surely that ‘beast’ is none other than the beast neurological scientists have described by labelling the fundamental human brain processes as ‘reptilian’ and ‘monkey / paleo-mammalian’.   And surely that beast is the one we all recognise as that rageful, lustful, covetous being who, after we have acted in its name, dissolves in the shadows, leaving only our tears in anguish for the hurt and separation we have caused. Yet to bring clarity to the definition of shame, SHAME is when the rage, lust, and covetousness is being recognised but not being acted upon.

On the other hand, the shameless are all lust and rage and covetousness. So why do some who believe they are on a path of transformation reject the value of shame? Here we must see where the ‘beast’ become a clever ‘EGO’ and as a clever ego, manipulates the discomforts of real transformation against us.

Many contemporary transformative ideas have come to the misunderstanding on shame through the work of Helen Shucman and William Thetford who developed ‘A Course in Miracles’ (ACIM) based on the dreams of Helen Shucman. In an attempt to show that reality is not as we think or see it is but rather a perfect realm from which the ego hides for the sake of its own persistence. Schucman, like mystics of the past including Sufis, recognise the fundamental barrier to ‘seeing’ reality is our tendency to pick a fight with ourselves. The solution to this is to recognise that we are already created ‘sons of God’ and that there is nothing to fight. By their commentary, Schucman and Thetford seem to define ego as the ‘making distinctions in order to make separations and fight ourselves’. Well so far, so good. However in this, Shucman and Thetford seem also to be influenced by the psychiatric notions of the early twentieth century and conveying the idea that shame is at the heart of neurosis, and therefore is a fight-related element that can be disappeared by shining a light on it.

However, there is another way to look at shame, which I have pointed to above, and also explain why shame is likely to be seen at the heart of neurosis. The ordinary shameless mortal, looking at a child with the tendency to shame will see a shy creature, keeping its own opinion, perhaps demure, and over time, certainly long-suffering. Trapped at every turn by the shamelessness around it, the shameful creature has no options except to turn unto its own loops of logic, becoming trapped by its own ego into a resentment for and fight against the shameless. Indeed, in the paradox that Shucman points in ACIM is present here. The shameful person also recognises the shamelessness of themselves and so, under the conditions of entrapment, shame and shameless fight into an embittered resentment.

Rather than victimise the shameful one, Baha’u’llah sees that this one is the potential olympic champion of the whole world of human extraordinariness, and points to us that the great power of the shameful one lies in their natural attraction to nobility. Baha’u’llah also rejects the proposition that people, by recognising that they are sons of God, for indeed we all are, is enough to restrain most of us from shameful actions. Rather the presence of the shameful person is the exemption that makes the rule, the clear distinction that most of us will reach extraordinariness through submission to the laws of God.

The challenge for the shameful child is that most of us have missed the point of the shameful child. In other situations, ordinary parents, seeing that their child can do calculus or run like the wind at age 8, do as much as possible to encourage them, and look around for a great teacher and trainer to assist the burgeoning potential. However, in missing the point that shame is an indication of a great spiritual potentiality, we fail to encourage the child’s exploration of that shame, nor look around at for a great trainer for their burgeoning spiritual potentiality.

This is becoming a thing of the past under the development of the children and youth training programs of the Baha’i Faith. However let me make some comments on things that might inform the development of children’s training from shame. The first is that any valuable spiritual training provides the child access to the source of its own nobility. For the child of shame this is like the sun shining on to both the beastly recesses and the mirror mosaic of virtues. Here the child of shame sees the beauty and nobility that they have only vaguely deduced. Access to the source of nobility comes from two integral disciplines: prayer and meditation; and the spiritual teachings of Baha’u’llah and other manifestations of God and even lesser teachers. From these sources, the child of shame, already able to recognise the ‘beast’ now learns how to tame it, placate it, exploit it effectively for the great game ahead. Like any trainer of ‘beast’ the child learns to speak softly, calmly, laughingly to the beast within. The child doesn’t reject the beast, for this is a fine beast, a wonderful beast. And in accepting the beast, the child of shame finds an extraordinary powerful friend, protector, and supporter. A beast that can be ridden into the arena of endeavour.

Shame’s great resolution is to be able to look upon the beast with confidence and capability, to find accountability in being noble. Not to fight the beast any more than one would hit or chastise a young working horse or dog for being unruly, but to look for the source of that unruliness and find that training method that directs the energies into great feats and great exhilarations. The child of shame, growing into an extraordinary adult, will always be acutely attuned to the restless power of the beast, know its awful potential, and be ashamed.

The Science of the Love of God

In Baha’u’llah’s “Seven Valleys” He cites Sana’i, from some one thousand years previous, who directs, “Wouldst thou that the mind should not entrap thee? Teach it the science of the love of God!” What would it mean, to learn the science of the love of God. How is it even a science? We might explore this concept through concepts that there is a ‘true self’ that has a relationship with God, and an ‘ego self’ whose relationship is with the world.

I am finding in “A Course in Miracles” (ACIM), access to a way of being with these concepts of myself.  “A Course in Miracles” presents an idea about the ego as that which creates the illusion, or perhaps, even, a delusion, that we come to believe as ourselves and the world, to protect its own self from recognition of the Holy Spirit and God.

I find it has provided wonderful insight into some of the writings of Baha’u’llah. This morning, for example, I read a section titled, ‘Grandeur and Grandiosity”. Baha’u’llah writes the name of God, Grandeur, as one of the nineteen months on the Baha’i calendar. I am immediately intrigued.

ACIM: “Grandeur is of God, and only of Him. Therefore it is in you.”


“O SON OF MAN! My majesty is My gift to thee, and My grandeur the token of My mercy unto thee.” (The Arabic Hidden Words)

” How wondrous is the unity of the Living, the Ever-Abiding God — a unity which is exalted above all limitations, that transcendeth the comprehension of all created things! He hath, from everlasting, dwelt in His inaccessible habitation of holiness and glory, and will unto everlasting continue to be enthroned upon the heights of His independent sovereignty and grandeur. How lofty hath been His incorruptible Essence, how completely independent of the knowledge of all created things, and how immensely exalted will it remain above the praise of all the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth!” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 261)

“All created things have borne witness unto that which the Tongue of Thy grandeur hath testified ere their creation. Verily Thou art God; there is none other God but Thee!” (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 3)

“Thou didst bring mankind into being to know Thee and to serve Thy Cause, that their station might thereby be elevated upon Thine earth and their souls be uplifted by virtue of the things Thou hast revealed in Thy Scriptures, Thy Books and Thy Tablets” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 111)

“O SON OF THE THRONE! Thy hearing is My hearing, hear thou therewith. Thy sight is My sight, do thou see therewith, that in thine inmost soul thou mayest testify unto My exalted sanctity, and I within Myself may bear witness unto an exalted station for thee.” (The Arabic Hidden Words)

Prayer: “I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things, and the Concourse on high, and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise, and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon, that Thou art God, that there is no God but Thee, and that He Who hath been manifested is the Hidden Mystery, the Treasured  Symbol, through Whom the letters B and E (Be) have been joined and knit together. I testify that it is He whose name hath been set down by the Pen of the Most High, and Who hath been mentioned in the Books of God, the Lord of the Throne on high and of earth below.” (The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 96)

ACIM: “God’s Grandeur establishes your freedom. .. The ego will make every effort to recover and mobilise its energies against your release. It will tell you that you are insane, and argue that grandeur cannot be a real part of you because of the littleness it believes. But you grandeur is of God who created it out of love for you.”

Baha’u’llah: “O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.” (Arabic Hidden Words)

ACIM: “your grandeur is your abundance. …you cannot be anywhere except in the Mind of God. When you forget this you will despair and you will attack. .. if you are willing to look upon your grandeur you cannot despair …. Littleness and grandiosity can and must alternate, since both are untrue … truth does not vacillate … when grandeur slips away from you, you will have replaced it with something else… Your grandeur will never deceive you but your illusions always will… (In) grandeur, love is returned and pride is not… its obviousness lies in the joy it brings to its witnesses, who show it to you. God wants you to behold what He created because it is His joy.”


“O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.”       (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

ACIM: “you cannot replace yourself. God who knows your value, would not have it so, and so it is not so… To accept yourself as God created you cannot be arrogance. ”


“O SON OF MAN! Thou art My dominion and My dominion perisheth not; wherefore fearest thou thy perishing? Thou art My light and My light shall never be extinguished; why dost thou dread extinction? Thou art My glory and My glory fadeth not; thou art My robe and My robe shall never be outworn. Abide then in thy love for Me, that thou mayest find Me in the realm of glory.” (The Arabic Hidden Words)

“We have chosen you out of the world to know and recognize Our Self. We have caused you to draw nigh unto the right side of Paradise — the Spot out of which the undying Fire crieth in manifold accents: “There is none other God besides Me, the All-Powerful, the Most High!” … depend not on the sight of any one except your self, for God hath never burdened any soul beyond its power. Thus hath it been sent down unto the Prophets and Messengers of old, and been recorded in all the Scriptures.

Strive, O people, to gain admittance into this vast Immensity for which God ordained neither beginning nor end, in which His voice hath been raised, and over which have been wafted the sweet savors of holiness and glory. Divest not yourselves of the Robe of grandeur, neither suffer your hearts to be deprived of remembering your Lord, nor your ears of hearkening unto the sweet melodies of His wondrous, His sublime, His all-compelling, His clear, and most eloquent voice.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 106)

ACIM: “To accept your littleness is arrogant, because it means that you believe you evaluation of yourself it truer than God’s… your evaluation of yourself must be God’s… you did not establish your value and it needs no defense. Nothing can attack it or prevail over it. It does not vary. It merely is. Ask the Holy Spirit what it is and He will tell you, but do not be afraid of His answer because it comes from God… He would have you replace the ego’s belief in littleness with His Own exalted Answer to what you are, so that you can cease to question it and know it for what it is.”


“Tear asunder, in My Name, the veils that have grievously blinded your vision, and, through the power born of your belief in the unity of God, scatter the idols of vain imitation. Enter, then, the holy paradise of the good-pleasure of the All-Merciful. Sanctify your souls from whatsoever is not of God, and taste ye the sweetness of rest within the pale of His vast and mighty Revelation, and beneath the shadow of His supreme and infallible authority. Suffer not yourselves to be wrapt in the dense veils of your selfish desires, inasmuch as I have perfected in every one of you My creation, so that the excellence of My handiwork may be fully revealed unto men. It follows, therefore, that every man hath been, and will continue to be, able of himself to appreciate the Beauty of God, the Glorified. Had he not been endowed with such a capacity, how could he be called to account for his failure? …For the faith of no man can be conditioned by any one except himself.

This is one of the verities that lie enshrined in My Revelation — a verity which I have revealed in all the heavenly Books, which I have caused the Tongue of Grandeur to utter, and the Pen of Power to inscribe. Ponder a while thereon, that with both your inner and outer eye, ye may perceive the subtleties of Divine wisdom and discover the gems of heavenly knowledge which, in clear and weighty language, I have revealed in this exalted and incorruptible Tablet, and that ye may not stray far from the All-Highest Throne, from the Tree beyond which there is no passing, from the Habitation of everlasting might and glory. ”            (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 143)

“Emerge from behind the veil, by the leave of thy Lord, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful, and seize, before the eyes of those who are in the heavens and those who are on the earth, the Chalice of Immortality, in the name of thy Lord, the Inaccessible, the Most High, and quaff thy fill, and be not of them that tarry. I swear by God! The moment thou touchest the Cup with thy lips, the Concourse on high will acclaim thee saying, “Drink with healthy relish, O man that hast truly believed in God!” and the inhabitants of the Cities of Immortality will cry  out, “Joy be to thee, O thou that hast drained the Cup of His love!” and the Tongue of Grandeur will hail thee, “Great is the blessedness that awaiteth thee, O My servant, for thou hast attained unto that which none hath attained, except such as have detached themselves from all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and who are the emblems of true detachment.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 148)

“Sanctified be the Lord of all mankind, at the mention of Whose name all the atoms of the earth have been made to vibrate, and the Tongue of Grandeur hath been moved to disclose that which had been wrapt in His knowledge and lay concealed within the treasury of His might. He, verily, through the potency of His name, the Mighty, the All-Powerful, the Most High, is the ruler of all that is in the heavens and all that is on earth.” (Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 4)

“They came to the shore of the Sea of Grandeur. The knower straightway flung himself into the waves, but the grammarian stood lost in his reasonings, which were as words that are written on water. The knower called out to him, “Why dost thou not follow?” The grammarian answered, “O Brother, I dare not advance. I must needs go back again.” Then the knower cried, “Forget what thou didst read in the books (of grammar and rhetoric) and cross the water.” ‘The death of self is needed here, not rhetoric: Be nothing, then, and walk upon the waves’ “[The Mathnavi.] (The Four Valleys, p. 51)

“From the exalted source, and out of the essence of His favor and bounty He hath entrusted every created thing with a sign of His knowledge, so that none of His creatures may be deprived of its share in expressing, each according to its capacity and rank, this knowledge. This sign is the mirror of His beauty in the world of creation. The greater the effort exerted for the refinement of this sublime and noble mirror, the more faithfully will it be made to reflect the glory of the names and attributes of God, and reveal the wonders of His signs and knowledge. Every created thing will be enabled (so great is this reflecting power) to reveal the potentialities of its pre-ordained station, will recognize its capacity and limitations, and will testify to the truth that “He, verily, is God; there is none other God besides Him.”…  (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 261)

“Quaff then, O My brother, from the living waters that We have caused to flow in the oceans of these words. Methinks the seas of grandeur are surging within them, and the gems of divine virtue are shining within and upon them. Divest then thyself of that which debarreth thee from this fathomless crimson sea, and to the cry of “In the name of God and by His grace!” immerse thyself therein. Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety.”  (Baha’u’llah, Gems of Divine Mysteries, p. 60)

“O SON OF WORLDLINESS! Pleasant is the realm of being, wert thou to attain thereto; glorious is the domain of eternity, shouldst thou pass beyond the world of mortality; sweet is the holy ecstasy if thou drinkest of the mystic chalice from the hands of the celestial Youth. Shouldst thou attain this station, thou wouldst be freed from destruction and death, from toil and sin.” (The Persian Hidden Words)

Baha’u’llah goes on in His teachings to clarify that there is an enormous transformation that will occur in all of the global society as we open to God’s grandeur, and dissipate our ego. Firstly He establishes the truth of the past, the perfection of God’s revelation, in His own Being. “The Tongue of Grandeur saith: By Myself that speaketh the truth! In this most mighty Revelation all the Dispensations of the past have attained their highest and final consummation.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 244)

He then reassures all humanity that an extraordinary transformation has been created. “O YE DWELLERS IN THE HIGHEST PARADISE! Proclaim unto the children of assurance that within the realms of holiness, nigh unto the celestial paradise, a new garden hath appeared, round which circle the denizens of the realm on high and the immortal dwellers of the exalted paradise. Strive, then, that ye may attain that station, that ye may unravel the mysteries of love from its wind-flowers and learn the secret of divine and consummate wisdom from its eternal fruits. Solaced are the eyes of them that enter and abide therein!” (The Persian Hidden Words)

And finally He relates a detailed vision of the human society. “The Tongue of Grandeur hath, however, in the day of His manifestation proclaimed: “It is not his to boast who loveth his country, but it is his who loveth the world.” Through the power released by these exalted words He hath lent a fresh impulse, and set a new direction, to the birds of men’s hearts, and hath obliterated every trace of restriction and limitation from God’s holy Book.” (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 95)

There is a great deal of detail in Baha’u’llah’s social vision for humanity that I will not continue here.