In the month of the ‘Ala’ our efforts will turn towards the “essential… period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul… fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires." (Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
The tempering of the human soul is a continuous process, calling us forth to detach ourselves from self-passion, animal traits and material gain in order to fulfill its purpose. Detachment is prescribed as a crucial virtue to diligently and prayerfully strive towards, and serves the dual-purpose of advancing the soul and building and expanding the Cause of God. In the time preceding the Fast, the friends will eagerly prepare for a month of deep reflection on the many mysteries and benefits of detachment, a meditation that is not simply about abstaining from food or drink, but detachment from the material as well.
In Promulgation of Universal Peace, ‘Abdu’l-Baha speaks to detachment from the material world and warns, “How debased the soul which can find enjoyment in this darkness, occupied with itself, the captive of self and passion, wallowing in the mire of the material world.” And of material wealth, a trust enjoined upon His believers that it may be returned unto Him, whether it be great or humble, Baha’u’llah writes, “Busy not thyself with this world, for with fire we test the gold, and with gold we test our servants,” and “O Son of Man! Thou dost wish for gold and I desire thy freedom from it.” (Hidden Words)
In the month of ‘Ala’, let us engage our community members in reflection on detachment from the material world as an aspect of fasting, and meditate on the connection between this vital virtue, clarity between the wants and needs of the human experience and our spiritual growth through sustained sacrificial giving to the Baha’i funds - a result and privilege that grows from our love for and obedience to Baha’u’llah.
“Blessed is he that hath expended in Thy path what Thou didst bestow upon him through Thy bounty and favor. Blessed is he who, in his sore longing after Thee, hath cast away all else except Thyself. Blessed is he who hath enjoyed intimate communion with Thee, and rid himself of all attachment to any one save Thee.” (Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations)