September 18, 2017

1995: Baha'i music institute in Vanuatu

Participants in an eight-day music institute on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, in January 1995, studied Baha'i Writings together, set passages from them to traditional music, and learned how to play guitar. (The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

September 16, 2017

Mothers and character training of children

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore it is incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits. Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’)

September 14, 2017

A “few instances that eloquently testify to the unique” contributions that Baha’u’llah made during the early years of the Bábí Dispensation – summarized by the Guardian

The first incarceration to which He was subjected as a result of the helping hand He had extended to the captives of Qazvín; the ability with which He achieved the deliverance of Táhirih; the exemplary manner in which He steered the course of the turbulent proceedings in Badasht; the manner in which He saved the life of Quddús in Níyálá; the wisdom which He showed in His handling of the delicate situation created by the impetuosity of Táhirih, and the vigilance He exercised for her protection; the counsels which He gave to the defenders of the fort of Tabarsí; the plan He conceived of joining the forces of Quddús to those of Mullá Husayn and his companions; the spontaneity with which He arose to support the exertions of those brave defenders; the magnanimity which prompted Him to offer Himself as a substitute for His companions who were under the threat of severe indignities; the serenity with which He faced the severity inflicted upon Him as a result of the attempt on the life of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh; the indignities which were heaped upon Him all the way from Lavásán to the headquarters of the imperial army and from thence to the capital; the galling weight of chains which He bore as He lay in the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán—all these are but a few instances that eloquently testify to the unique position which He occupied as the prime Mover of the forces which were destined to reshape the face of His native land. It was He who had released these forces, who steered their course, harmonised their action, and brought them finally to their highest consummation in the Cause He Himself was destined at a later time to reveal. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

September 11, 2017

Social action within the context of cluster

In 2001, the Universal House of Justice introduced to the Bahá’í world the concept of a cluster—a geographic construct, generally defined as a group of villages or as a city with its surrounding suburbs, intended to assist in planning and implementing activities associated with community life. This step was made possible by the establishment of training institutes at the national and regional levels during the 1990s, which employed a system of distance education to reach large numbers with a sequence of courses designed to increase capacity for service. The House of Justice encouraged the Bahá’í world to extend this system progressively to more and more clusters in order to promote their steady progress, laying first the strong spiritual foundations upon which a vibrant community life is built. Efforts in a cluster were initially to focus on the multiplication of certain core activities, open to all of the inhabitants, but with a view to developing the collective capacity needed to address in due time various aspects of the social and economic life of the population as well.

September 7, 2017

Baha’is are called upon to become the “first servants of the realm of humanity, and the builders of the edifice of Divine Justice.”

O ye friends of God!

All the people of the world today are workmen of destruction or ruin. Everyone as though with an axe is striking at the root of the foundation of humanity. They hold in their hands great implements of warfare and destruction. Among the greatest is the axe of religious prejudices or sectarian bias, as well as that of racial bias; another implement of destruction is the axe of patriotic bias; another is the axe of political warfare; another implement of ruin is the persistent accumulation of commercial benefit or profit; another, the love of conquest of new domains, as is also the enmity, hatred and bigotry among the nations and tribes. These souls are entirely inadvertent to the relations of the Kingdom of God, deprived of the relations of Unity, and despaired of the Life Eternal. Although outwardly they may be extremely civilized, nevertheless they live in darkness.

Now, God has chosen you from among mankind, and has guided you to the Kingdom, has enlightened your hearts with the love of God, so that you may be the cause of guidance to these people, in order that you may become a cause of guidance to the world of humanity. He has appointed you as the builders of the edifice of true manhood. Consider with what a power of morals you must arise in order to withstand all vicissitudes. All these people, all these promoters as workers of warfare and ruin are spreading the deeds of hatred among nations. Now, consider with what peace and concord you must go forth in order that you may be capable of overcoming the antagonistic forces.

September 5, 2017

“…satan appears in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way”

Endeavour to your utmost to protect yourselves, because satan appears in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way, until he becomes like unto him (satan), then he will leave him alone… Be informed by these utterances and shun the manifestations of the people of hell... The greatest of degradation is to leave the Shadow of God and enter under the shadow of satan. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Cited in ‘Star of the West’, vol. XIII, pp. 20 to 22; printed in ‘The Power of Covenant, Part Two’, by the NSA of Canada)

The meaning of the symbolic terms used in this passage has been clarified by the Universal House of Justice: 

The references to Satan or The Evil One in Baha'i Scripture are symbolical and do not at all imply the existence of a personal devil. They symbolize the lower nature of man, the selfish promptings of his ego, and so forth. They are also used, sometimes, to symbolize the machinations of Covenant-breakers or the spirit of Covenant-breaking, and this is the sense of the quotation from the Words of Baha’u’llah on pages 20 to 22 of Volume XIII of The Star of the West. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated March 23, 1975 to an individual believer; printed in ‘The Power of Covenant, Part Two’, by the NSA of Canada)

September 4, 2017

Psychology “is still a very young and inexact science” - Bahá'í psychologists “to make great strides in the development of this science”

You are already a qualified practitioner in your field, and no doubt you give advice on the basis of what you have learned from study and experience – a whole fabric of concepts about the human mind, its growth, development and proper functioning, which you have learned and evolved without reference to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Now, as a Bahá'í, you know that what Bahá'u'lláh teaches about the purpose of human life, the nature of the human being and the proper conduct of human lives, is divinely revealed and therefore true. However, it will inevitably take time for you not only to study the Bahá'í teachings so that you clearly understand them, but also to work out how they modify your professional concepts. This is, of course, not an unusual predicament for a scientist. How often in the course of research is a factor discovered which requires a revolution in thinking over a wide field of human endeavour. You must be guided in each case by your own professional knowledge and judgement as illuminated by your growing knowledge of the Bahá'í teachings; undoubtedly you will find that your own understanding of the human problems dealt with in your work will change and develop and you will see new and improved ways of helping the people who come to you. Psychology is still a very young and inexact science, and as the years go by Bahá'í psychologists, who know from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh the true pattern of human life, will be able to make great strides in the development of this science, and will help profoundly in the alleviation of human suffering. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 6 February 1973, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973"; the Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Scholarship)

September 1, 2017

“...aims and ambitions” that each Baha’i should strive for - identified by ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

  • To show compassion and goodwill to all mankind.
  • To render service to humanity.
  • To endeavour to guide and enlighten those in darkness.
  • To be kind to everyone, and show forth affection to every living soul.
  • To be humble in your attitude towards God, to be constant in prayer to Him, so as to grow daily nearer to God.
  • To be so faithful and sincere in all your actions that every member may be known as embodying the qualities of honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity, and courage.
  • To be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath—a divine soul; so that the world may know that a Bahá’í is a perfect being.  
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 6 November 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

August 30, 2017

The “central theme” of Baha’u’llah’s Dispensation

In every Dispensation the light of Divine Guidance has been focussed upon one central theme.... In this wondrous Revelation, this glorious century, the foundation of the Faith of God and the distinguishing feature of His Law is the consciousness of the Oneness of Mankind. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

August 27, 2017

One’s pursuit of knowledge should lead to the Manifestation of God

If…the pursuit of knowledge leadeth to the beauty of Him Who is the object of all knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

August 23, 2017

“The sciences of today are bridges to reality”

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

August 20, 2017

How a meeting of a Baha’i Assembly could become “heavenly, celestial, godlike, illumined and the means of the guidance of the erring ones”

LSA of Winnipeg Canada, 1942
The members of the Baha’i Assemblies must be infinitely kind towards each other and all their deliberations must be concerning the Kingdom of Abha. Promiscuous discussion must be discountenanced, for these things will become the means of the luke-warmness and apathy of those who are present. The Candles of all the meetings must be the Mention of God, the propagation of the Cause of God, the exposition of Divine Proofs and the elucidation of the Principles of His Holiness Baha’u’llah. When this condition is obtained, the meeting will become heavenly, celestial, godlike, illumined and the means of the guidance of the erring ones. It will yield most great results. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 9, August 20, 1914)

August 18, 2017

Becoming more cognizant of our relationship to the Person of Baha’u’llah…

To remember Baha’u’llah’s days
  • “Remember My days during they days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.” (Baha’u’llah, Tablet of Ahmad)
  • “…give hear unto My call and walk in My path. Remember, then, the days of My presence and then My exile, My solitude, and My imprisonment, that you may be remembered by God in His kingdom of sublime glory.” (Baha’u’llah, Súrat al-A’ráb [The Súrah of the Arabs], provisional translation)
“…the most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet”
Beloved Friends: Merely two years separate us from the conclusion of the Six Year Plan and the beginning at Ridvan 1992 of the Holy Year, that special time when we shall pause to appreciate the tumultuous record of events which will have brought us to the Centenary of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and to reflect with due solemnity upon the redemptive purpose of the life of the most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1990 message to the Baha’is of the world)

August 17, 2017

The “most great ornament of the people of Bahá” - Trustworthiness

We will now mention unto thee Trustworthiness and the station thereof in the estimation of God, thy Lord, the Lord of the Mighty Throne. One day of days We repaired unto Our Green Island. Upon Our arrival, We beheld its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst. Turning Our face to the right, We beheld what the pen is powerless to describe; nor can it set forth that which the eye of the Lord of Mankind witnessed in that most sanctified, that most sublime, that blest, and most exalted Spot. Turning, then, to the left We gazed on one of the Beauties of the Most Sublime Paradise, standing on a pillar of light, and calling aloud saying: ‘O inmates of earth and heaven! Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof, and the beauty thereof. I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me, and recognize My rank and station, and hold fast unto My hem. I am the most great ornament of the people of Bahá, and the vesture of glory unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world, and the horizon of assurance unto all beings.’ Thus have We sent down for thee that which will draw men nigh unto the Lord of creation. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

August 14, 2017

To use the Hidden Words as a mirror...

‘Abdu’l-Bahá once said to me that we should use the Hidden Words as a mirror—comparing our actions and thoughts with what is there revealed—and if they did not match, so to speak, and fully reflect these Divine Counsels—then we must change our actions and conduct until they were in perfect harmony and agreement with these heavenly exhortations. 
- Ethel J. Rosenberg  (Included in a letter dated 12 April, 1927, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; ‘Messages to Canada’)

August 11, 2017

Baha’i Writings have “permeated the world” – the amazing benefits that one could receive from Them

Praise be to God that the spirit of the Holy Writings and tablets which have been revealed in this wondrous Dispensation concerning matters of major or minor importance, whether essential or otherwise, related to the sciences and the arts, to natural philosophy, literature, politics or economics, have so permeated the world that since the inception of the world in the course of past Dispensations and bygone ages nothing like it has ever been seen or heard. Indeed if an avowed follower of Bahá'u'lláh were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 13 January 1923 to the friends in Adhirbáyján; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith)

August 9, 2017

The significance of mentioning Baha’u’llah’s Name in our teaching activities

As to his question about the permissibility of promulgating the divine teachings without relating them to the Most Great Name, you should answer: "This blessed Name hath an effect on the reality of things. If these teachings are spread without identifying them with this holy Name, they will fail to exert an abiding influence in the world. The teachings are like the body, and this holy Name is like the spirit. It imparteth life to the body. It causeth the people of the world to be aroused from their slumber." 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, (From a Tablet; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Guidelines for Teaching)

August 7, 2017

Holy Land - “the nest of all the Prophets of God,” “the Vale of God’s unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor”

… the Holy Land—the Land promised by God to Abraham, sanctified by the Revelation of Moses, honored by the lives and labors of the Hebrew patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, revered as the cradle of Christianity, and as the place where Zoroaster, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s testimony, had “held converse with some of the Prophets of Israel,” and associated by Islám with the Apostle’s night-journey, through the seven heavens, to the throne of the Almighty. Within the confines of this holy and enviable country, “the nest of all the Prophets of God,” “the Vale of God’s unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor” was the Exile of Baghdád, of Constantinople and Adrianople His Mission. “It is difficult,” declares ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “to understand how Bahá’u’lláh could have been obliged to leave Persia, and to pitch His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution of His enemies, His banishment and exile.”

August 4, 2017

Baha’is must make a superhuman effort

One day during her [Jessie Revell] pilgrimage Shoghi Effendi invited her to stroll up Mount Carmel with him to visit the Shrine of the Bab. On that walk he said that the Baha’is must make a superhuman effort. Jessie often said there was something about the way the Guardian said ‘superhuman’ that engraved it for all time in her heart. 
- Ethel Revell  ('In Memoriam' section of 'The Baha’i World 1963-1968')

August 3, 2017

Expanding our vision – advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

O ye heavenly ones!

Organize ye spiritual assemblies. Lay ye the foundation of union and concord in this world. Destroy ye the fabric of strife and war from the face of the earth. Construct ye the temple of harmony and agreement. Enkindle ye the light of the realm of the oneness of humanity. Open ye your eyes. Gaze and behold ye the Other World. The Kingdom of Peace, Salvation, Uprightness and Reconciliation is founded in the Invisible World, and it will by degrees become manifest and apparent through the power of the Word of God. I supplicate God that ye may become the army of that Kingdom, in order that, by the power of the Most Great Name, the friends of God may conquer the world through love, friendship and the strength of the Kingdom of Peace, the human race may become compassionate, and bloodshed and carnage be completely effaced from the universe. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 5. No. 9, August 20, 1914)

July 30, 2017

The "Charter of the New World Order"

The Guardian would advise that in their studies of the Will and Testament the young believers should use the "Dispensation", which will undoubtedly help them considerably to grasp the full implications of that sacred and historic Document which he has described as the "Charter of the New World Order". 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 9 January 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; Compilation by the Universal House of Justice: ‘The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith’)

July 28, 2017

Physical sensations are similar in human beings and animals

Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.

And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 26, 2017

Are there some to whom we should not show kindness?

O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind—except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 24, 2017

“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together”

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are
  • purity of motive,
  • radiance of spirit,
  • detachment from all else save God,
  • attraction to His Divine Fragrances,
  • humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones,
  • patience and long-suffering in difficulties and
  • servitude to His exalted Threshold.
Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.... 
- `Abdu'l-Bahá  (Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in ‘Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I, Consultation)