November 16, 2017

The “body is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit”

He is delighted to hear you are now fully recovered and again active in your important work for the Cause. However, you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It -- the body -- is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation. We don't have to pray and meditate for hours in order to be spiritual. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 23 November 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

November 14, 2017

The “curtain of greed”

O ye Sons of Intelligence! The thin eyelid prevents the eye from seeing the world and what is contained therein. Then think of the result when the curtain of greed covers the sight of the heart. Say, O People! The darkness of greed and envy obscures the light of the soul as the cloud prevents the penetration of the sun's rays. Should one listen with the ear of intelligence to this Utterance, he shall spread the wings of freedom and soar with great joy toward the heaven of understanding. 
- Baha’u’llah  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 1, no. 1, March 21, 1910)

November 11, 2017

An obelisk marking the site of the future House of Worship on Mount Carmel

A Mashriqu'l-Adhkar is to be raised on a site Shoghi Effendi described as “the head of the Mountain of God, in close proximity to the Spot hallowed by the footsteps of Bahá'u'lláh, near the time-honoured Cave of Elijah, and associated with the revelation of the Tablet of Carmel” (Footnote to a message from the Universal House of Justice dated 5 June, 1975; Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1863-1986’). The Universal House of Justice had earlier announced the erection of an obelisk marking the site of the future House of Worship in its cable of 13 December 1971.

November 8, 2017

The Institution of the Mashriqu’l- Adhkár: “the Dawning-place of the Praise of God” -- some insights from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

The Baha'i House of Worship in Battambang, 
Cambodia dedicated in September 2017
‘Abdu’l-Bahá elaborates on the importance of this institution, referring to the Mashriqu’l- Adhkár as “the lodestone of divine confirmations” and “the mighty foundation of the Lord, the firm pillar of the Faith of God”. In the same Tablet, He states that the establishment of the House of Worship “is a means for the exaltation of the Word of God” and that the “praise and glorification emanating from it cheereth the heart of every righteous soul”. He thus exhorts the friends to “be occupied therein with prayer and the worship of God, the recitation of the verses and words of God, and the chanting of heavenly odes in glorification of the All-Merciful”.

Elsewhere, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá describes the House of Worship as “a centre wherein the spirits are gladdened and the hearts attracted to the Abhá Kingdom” and avers that it has “a powerful influence on every phase of life”, awakening the friends and promoting the oneness of humankind. By gathering together in this edifice to make mention of the Lord, “bonds of unity” are forged while affection grows and flourishes “in the human heart”. Indeed, through the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, which “causeth hearts to be illumined, souls to become spiritual, and the fragrances of the Kingdom of Glory to be inhaled”, the world of humanity is “transformed into another world, and the susceptibilities of the heart are heightened to such a degree that they encompass the entire creation”. 
(The Institution of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár: A Statement Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, September 2017)

November 3, 2017

“We should speak in the language of heaven -- in the language of the spirit”

We should speak in the language of heaven -- in the language of the spirit -- for there is a language of the spirit and heart. It is as different from our language as our own language is different from that of the animals, who express themselves only by cries and sounds. It is the language of the spirit which speaks to God. When, in prayer, we are freed from all outward things and turn to God, then it is as if in our hearts we hear the voice of God. Without words we speak, we communicate, we converse with God and hear the answer. ... All of us, when we attain to a truly spiritual condition, can hear the Voice of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk reported by Ethel J. Rosenberg; ‘Baha'u'llah and the New Era’, by Dr. J.E. Esslemont)   

November 1, 2017

How does Prophet “know” about immortality? – ‘Abdu’l-Baha was asked

Question: "Science denies immortality. How does the prophet know the contrary?"

The Master said: "Science does not know; but the Manifestation makes discoveries with the power of the Spirit. For instance: a philosopher with induction finds out a way. But the prophet discerns with sight. A blind man has to find his way with a stick from point to point; so a philosopher through arguments from premises goes to conclusions, and not by sight. But the Manifestations see with their inner eye (own eye); they do not go from premises to conclusions. The prophets see many things with their inner eye. They do not need to go by discoveries. The scientist with induction is like a blind man who cannot see two steps ahead of him. The prophet sees a long distance.''
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recorded by Ann Kunz, Haifa, 1921; Star of the West, vol. 13, no. 6, September 1922)

October 30, 2017

“regard for the rights that are due to one’s parents”

The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due to one’s parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God, and reaffirmed by the Most Exalted Pen. Consider that which the Merciful Lord hath revealed in the Qur’án, exalted are His words: “Worship ye God, join with Him no peer or likeness; and show forth kindliness and charity towards your parents...” Observe how loving-kindness to one’s parents hath been linked to recognition of the one true God! Happy they who are endued with true wisdom and understanding, who see and perceive, who read and understand, and who observe that which God hath revealed in the Holy Books of old, and in this incomparable and wondrous Tablet. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Questions and Answers’; ‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 27, 2017

Personal growth & development - the transformative effect of the Word of God

Need for “regular reading and study of the Holy Word”
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… 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, Ridván 1989, message to the Bahá'ís of the World; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Cultural Diversity in the Age of Maturity)

“converting satanic strength into heavenly power”
…the… task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power… The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change. (Baha'u'llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah’)

“As the light of spirituality penetrates deep into the hearts…”
The absence of spiritual qualities, like darkness, has no existence in itself. As the light of spirituality penetrates deep into the hearts, this darkness gradually dissipates and is replaced by virtue. Understanding this, and that the believers are encouraged to be loving and patient with one another, it will be clear that you too are called upon to exercise patience with the friends who demonstrate immaturity, and to have faith that the power of the Word of God will gradually effect a transformation in individual believers… (The Universal House of Justice, From a letter dated 23 October 1994 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

October 25, 2017

The crystallization of “forces so miraculously released” through Baha’u’llah and the Báb into “institutions that will come to be regarded as the hallmark and glory of the age we are called upon to establish”

The onrushing forces so miraculously released through the agency of two independent and swiftly successive Manifestations are now under our very eyes and through the care of the chosen stewards of a far-flung Faith being gradually mustered and disciplined. They are slowly crystallizing into institutions that will come to be regarded as the hallmark and glory of the age we are called upon to establish and by our deeds immortalize. For upon our present-day efforts, and above all upon the extent to which we strive to remodel our lives after the pattern of sublime heroism associated with those gone before us, must depend the efficacy of the instruments we now fashion -- instruments that must erect the structure of that blissful Commonwealth which must signalize the Golden Age of our Faith. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 8 February 1934, printed as ‘The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh’ in ‘The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh’)

October 23, 2017

Prayer “to be freed from affliction”

If thou desirest to be freed from affliction, recite thou this prayer which hath been revealed by the Pen of the All-Merciful:

“O God, my God! I testify to Thy unity and to Thy oneness. I beseech Thee, O Thou Possessor of names and Fashioner of the heavens, by the pervasive influence of Thine exalted Word and the potency of Thy supreme Pen, to aid me with the ensigns of Thy power and might, and to protect me from the mischief of Thine enemies who have violated Thy Covenant and Thy Testament. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.”

This invocation is an impregnable stronghold and an indomitable army. It conferreth protection and ensureth deliverance. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Tablet of the Seven Questions [Lawḥ-i-Haft Pursish], published in ‘The Tabernacle of Unity’)

October 21, 2017

The process of mankind’s coming of age and proceeding to maturity

The first sign of the coming of age of humanity referred to in the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh is the emergence of a science which is described as that “divine philosophy” which will include the discovery of a radical approach to the transmutation of elements. This is an indication of the splendours of the future stupendous expansion of knowledge.

Concerning the “second” sign which Bahá’u’lláh indicates to have been revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, Shoghi Effendi states that Bahá’u’lláh, “...in His Most Holy Book, has enjoined the selection of a single language and the adoption of a common script for all on earth to use, an injunction which, when carried out, would, as He Himself affirms in that Book, be one of the signs of the ‘coming of age of the human race’”.

Further insight into this process of mankind’s coming of age and proceeding to maturity is provided by the following statement of Bahá’u’lláh:

"One of the signs of the maturity of the world is that no one will accept to bear the weight of kingship. Kingship will remain with none willing to bear alone its weight. That day will be the day whereon wisdom will be manifested among mankind."

The coming of age of the human race has been associated by Shoghi Effendi with the unification of the whole of mankind, the establishment of a world commonwealth, and an unprecedented stimulus to “the intellectual, the moral and spiritual life of the entire human race”. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (The “Notes” section of the ‘Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 19, 2017

Happiness from the Baha’i Point of View – by Martha Root

A nice, brief compilation by Martha Root containing fascinating insights from ‘Abdu’l-Baha.

It is reported to have first appeared in the June issue of the Roycroft magazine in 1922.

October 17, 2017

The “Most outstanding achievement… associated with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry”

The establishment of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in the Western Hemisphere -- the most outstanding achievement that will forever be associated with 'Abdu'l-Bahá's ministry -- … 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

October 16, 2017

“Imitation… kills the spirituality of the human world”

Imitation destroys the foundation of religion. Imitation kills the spirituality of the human world. Imitation has changed into darkness the heavenly illumination. Imitation has deprived man of the knowledge of God. Imitation is the cause of victory of irreligion over religion. Imitation is the cause of the denial of divinity. Imitation refuses the law of revelation. Imitation sets aside the prophethood. Imitation denies the Kingdom of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, at Fanwood, New Jersey, published in Fanwood Newspaper, June 1, 1912; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 11, September 27, 1914)

October 14, 2017

1993: Baha’i communities of Papua New Guinea celebrate the arrival of the Kitab-i-Aqdas

The Baha'is of Goodenough Island, Papua New Guinea, celebrate the arrival of the Kitab-i-Aqdas by carrying it to the Baha'i Center on a bed of flowers.

October 12, 2017

“…to let the spirit of Baha'u'llah flow into the entire community”

When we see the condition the world is in today, we must surely forget these utterly insignificant internal disturbances, and rush, unitedly, to the rescue of humanity. You should urge your fellow-Baha'is to take this point of view, and to support you in a strong effort to suppress every critical thought and every harsh word, in order to let the spirit of Baha'u'llah flow into the entire community, and unite it in, His love and in His service. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 16, 1951; compilation: Living the Life; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

October 10, 2017

To “study profoundly the revealed utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and the discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá…”

The youthful and eager workers for the Cause in Montreal occupy a warm place in my heart. I will remember their hopes, their plans, their activities in my hours of prayer at the Holy Shrines. I urge them to study profoundly the revealed utterances of Bahá’u’lláh and the discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and not to rely unduly on the representation and interpretation of the Teachings given by the Bahá’í speakers and teachers. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 20 March 1929 to an individual believer; ‘Messages to Canada’)

October 7, 2017

A “World Civilization and a World Culture”

... the World Civilization which will follow upon the Most Great Peace will unfold and evolve and gradually perfect itself during following Dispensations; in other words, a World Civilization and a World Culture, which will reach its ascendancy in the distant future and is something that will require many thousands of years to mature. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 23 April 1954, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Cultural Diversity in the Age of Maturity)

October 5, 2017

Would “an innate sense of human dignity… prevent man from committing evil actions”?

There are some who imagine that an innate sense of human dignity will prevent man from committing evil actions and insure his spiritual and material perfection. That is, that an individual who is characterized with natural intelligence, high resolve, and a driving zeal, will, without any consideration for the severe punishments consequent on evil acts, or for the great rewards of righteousness, instinctively refrain from inflicting harm on his fellow men and will hunger and thirst to do good. And yet, if we ponder the lessons of history it will become evident that this very sense of honor and dignity is itself one of the bounties deriving from the instructions of the Prophets of God. We also observe in infants the signs of aggression and lawlessness, and that if a child is deprived of a teacher's instructions his undesirable qualities increase from one moment to the next. It is therefore clear that the emergence of this natural sense of human dignity and honor is the result of education. Secondly, even if we grant for the sake of the argument that instinctive intelligence and an innate moral quality would prevent wrongdoing, it is obvious that individuals so characterized are as rare as the philosopher's stone. An assumption of this sort cannot be validated by mere words, it must be supported by the facts. Let us see what power in creation impels the masses toward righteous aims and deeds! Aside from this, if that rare individual who does exemplify such a faculty should also become an embodiment of the fear of God, it is certain that his strivings toward righteousness would be strongly reinforced. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  ('The Secret of Divine Civilization’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

October 3, 2017

Táhirih – a description by Shoghi Effendi

A poetess, less than thirty years of age, of distinguished birth, of bewitching charm, of captivating eloquence, indomitable in spirit, unorthodox in her views, audacious in her acts, immortalized as Táhirih (the Pure One) by the “Tongue of Glory,” and surnamed Qurratu’l-‘Ayn (Solace of the Eyes) by Siyyid Kázim, her teacher, she had, in consequence of the appearance of the Báb to her in a dream, received the first intimation of a Cause which was destined to exalt her to the fairest heights of fame, and on which she, through her bold heroism, was to shed such imperishable luster. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)