July 19, 2017

Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members “do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems”

Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies. But if an Auxiliary Board member finds a Local Spiritual Assembly functioning incorrectly he should call its attention to the appropriate Texts; likewise if, in his work with the community, an Auxiliary Board member finds that the teaching work is being held up by inefficiency of national committees, he should report this in detail to the Counsellors who will then decide whether to refer it to the National Spiritual Assembly concerned. Similarly, if the Counsellors find that a National Spiritual Assembly is not functioning properly, they should not hesitate to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about this in a frank and loving way. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 1 October 1969; ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice, 1963-1986’)

July 17, 2017

“The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today.”

The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today. The true cause of the ills of humanity is its disunity. No matter how perfect may be the machinery devised by the leaders of men for the political unity of the world, it will still not provide the antidote to the poison sapping the vigour of present-day society. These ills can be cured only through the instrumentality of God's Faith. There are many well-wishers of mankind who devote their efforts to relief work and charity and to the material well-being of man, but only Baha'is can do the work which God most wants done. When we devote ourselves to the work of the Faith we are doing a work which is the greatest aid and only refuge for a needy and divided world. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 8 February 1970; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

July 14, 2017

Conditions under which a Baha’i can defend his own life - the Universal House of Justice explains

From the texts you already have available it is clear that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Bahá'ís should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.

A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, however, points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, he also indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. In another letter the Guardian has further pointed out that the assault of an irresponsible assailant upon a Bahá'í should be resisted by the Bahá'í, who would be justified, under such circumstances, in protecting his life.

The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Bahá'í involved must use his judgement in determining when to stop in self-defence lest his action deteriorate into retaliation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 10 July 1969 to NSA of Canada; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

July 12, 2017

Transition of soul from this world to the next

O thou who hast eyes to see! That which thou didst witness is the very truth, and it pertaineth to the realm of vision.

The perfume is intimately commingled and blended with the bud, and once the bud hath opened the sweet scent of it is spread abroad. The herb is not without its fruit, although it seemeth so, for in this garden of God every plant exerteth its own influence and hath its own properties, and every plant can even match the laughing, hundred-petalled rose in rejoicing the sense with its fragrance. Be thou assured of this. Although the pages of a book know nothing of the words and the meanings traced upon them, even so, because of their connection with these words, friends pass them reverently from hand to hand. This connection, furthermore, is purest bounty.

When the human soul soareth out of this transient heap of dust and riseth into the world of God, then veils will fall away, and verities will come to light, and all things unknown before will be made clear, and hidden truths be understood.

Consider how a being, in the world of the womb, was deaf of ear and blind of eye, and mute of tongue; how he was bereft of any perceptions at all. But once, out of that world of darkness, he passed into this world of light, then his eye saw, his ear heard, his tongue spoke. In the same way, once he hath hastened away from this mortal place into the Kingdom of God, then he will be born in the spirit; then the eye of his perception will open, the ear of his soul will hearken, and all the truths of which he was ignorant before will be made plain and clear.

An observant traveller passing along a way will certainly recall his discoveries to mind, unless some accident befall him and efface the memory. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 9, 2017

The awesome station of the Báb

“I am the Primal Point,” the Báb thus addresses Muhammad Sháh from the prison-fortress of Máh-Kú, “from which have been generated all created things... I am the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the light of God whose radiance can never fade... All the keys of heaven God hath chosen to place on My right hand, and all the keys of hell on My left... I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God. Whosoever hath recognized Me, hath known all that is true and right, and hath attained all that is good and seemly... The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover.” “Should a tiny ant,” the Báb, wishing to stress the limitless potentialities latent in His Dispensation, characteristically affirms, “desire in this day to be possessed of such power as to be able to unravel the abstrusest and most bewildering passages of the Qur’án, its wish will no doubt be fulfilled, inasmuch as the mystery of eternal might vibrates within the innermost being of all created things.” “If so helpless a creature,” is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s comment on so startling an affirmation, “can be endowed with so subtle a capacity, how much more efficacious must be the power released through the liberal effusions of the grace of Bahá’u’lláh!” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

July 6, 2017

How one’s attitude and mindset should be towards God - Baha’u’llah teaches

Praise be unto Thee, Who art my God and the God of all men, and
  • my Desire and the Desire of all them that have recognized Thee, and
  • my Beloved and the Beloved of such as have acknowledged Thy unity, and
  • the Object of my adoration and of the adoration of them that have near access to Thee, and
  • my Wish and the Wish of such as are wholly devoted to Thee, and
  • my Hope and the Hope of them that have fixed their hearts upon Thee, and
  • my Refuge and the Refuge of all such as have hastened towards Thee, and
  • my Haven and the Haven of whosoever hath repaired unto Thee, and
  • my Goal and the Goal of all them that have set themselves towards Thee, and
  • my Object and the Object of those who have fixed their gaze upon Thee, and
  • my Paradise and the Paradise of them that have ascended towards Thee, and
  • my Lode-star and the Lode-star of all such as yearn after Thee, and
  • my Joy and the Joy of all them that love Thee, and
  • my Light and the Light of all such as have erred and asked to be forgiven by Thee, and
  • my Exultation and the Exultation of all them that remember Thee, and
  • my Stronghold and the Stronghold of all such as have fled to Thee, and
  • my Sanctuary and the Sanctuary of all that dread Thee, and
  • my Lord and the Lord of all such as dwell in the heavens and on the earth!
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

July 3, 2017

True life is the life of the spirit

…true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitan-i-Iqan’)

June 30, 2017

Functions of Regional Bahá'í Councils – described by the Universal House of Justice

The functions of a Regional Bahá'í Council and the degree of authority conferred upon it are within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly. However, they should not be limited to those of a national or regional committee for, in such a case, there would be no justification for bringing into being a Regional Bahá'í Council rather than appointing a national or regional committee. The functions and responsibilities generally envisaged for a Regional Bahá'í Council are as follows:
  • 1. To carry out the policies of the National Spiritual Assembly and to supervise, on behalf of the National Assembly, the smooth and efficient execution of the plans and projects for its region.
  • 2. To keep the National Spiritual Assembly regularly informed of the Council's activities and of the conditions of the Faith throughout the region. Regional Bahá'í Councils are allowed to develop their own strategies and programmes, and to carry out their day-to-day work without having to obtain further approval from the National Spiritual Assembly. However, through their frequent reports and the minutes of their meetings, the National Assembly is kept informed of their activities and maintains its overall supervision of the affairs of the Cause in all parts of the country.
  • 3. To take initiative in the promotion of the Faith in the region and to carry out its decisions within the range of authority vested in it by the National Assembly. The National Assembly allows the Council a wide latitude for autonomous action, intervening in its work only in matters which the Assembly regards as being of major importance. The main task of a Regional Bahá'í Council is to devise and execute expansion and consolidation plans in close collaboration with the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the believers within its area of jurisdiction. Its goal is to create strong Local Spiritual Assemblies which will be the focal centres of Bahá'í activity, will exercise their vitally important role in the development of the Faith and will demonstrate their ability to regulate the affairs of their local communities.

June 25, 2017

Illnesses due to physical causes and those due to spiritual causes

Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

June 23, 2017

‘Abdu’l-Baha identifies the range of topics covered in His public Talks during His Travels

Notwithstanding my bodily weakness and infirmity, I have traveled East and West for the last three years. In every temple I cried out and before every audience I raised my voice for the enlistment of their sympathy. I declared the evils of war, and explained the benefits of Universal Peace. I elucidated the causes which lead to the honor and glory of the world of humanity, and told them of the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of the animal kingdom. I showed the defects of the world of nature and made an exposition of the means whereby the illumination of the world of humanity is fully realized. I unfolded and caused the appearance of the foundation of the divine religions, and proclaimed the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah. I demonstrated the existence of God by irrefutable, rational proofs, and proved the validity of all the prophets of God. I gave utterance to my inmost conviction that the reality of the religion of God is the cause of the life of the world of humanity; it is divine civilization and pure enlightenment.

By the explanation of all these principles my object has been no other than the promotion of Universal Peace. Praise be to God that I found hearing ears, observed seeing eyes, and discovered informed hearts. Therefore, I am well pleased with this journey. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet to the Editor of the Christian Commonwealth, London, England, 1913; ‘Star of the West’, vol. 5, no. 8, August 1, 1914)

June 21, 2017

Baha’u’llah’s awesome reference to the Station of the Báb and His Own

Praise be unto God Who hath manifested the Point, hath unfolded therefrom the knowledge of all things, whether of the past or of the future—a Point He hath chosen to be the Herald of His Name and the Harbinger of His Great Revelation which hath caused the limbs of all mankind to quake and the splendour of His light to shine forth above the horizon of the world. Verily, this is the Point which God hath ordained to be an ocean of light for the sincere among His servants and a flame of fire to the froward amidst His creatures and the impious among His people… 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

June 18, 2017

Wisdom of facing Akka when reciting Obligatory Prayers

He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 24 June 1949 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)

June 12, 2017

The “two essential mediums” through which one “can ensure the development and progress” of her/his “inner spiritual life” as well as “outer existence”

His brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and of the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory, where you can translate into living and constructive action the principles which you imbibe from the Teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í Teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can ensure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith for ever burning in your heart! 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 2 November 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Youth)

June 8, 2017

The Soul of the Manifestation of God is “pre-existent”

The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947; compilation: 'Lights of Guidance')

June 6, 2017

The two wings of humanity

The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary. Therefore, woman must receive the same education as man and all inequality be adjusted. Thus, imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, ’The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, Peace)

June 3, 2017

To remind ourselves that “though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace…”

Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Excerpt from a letter dated 14 November 1923 to the Baha’is throughout America, ‘Baha’i Administration’)

May 29, 2017

Human soul - after death, it “remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body”

As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.

From the moment the soul leaves the body and arrives in the Heavenly World, its evolution is spiritual, and that evolution is: The approaching unto God.

In the physical creation, evolution is from one degree of perfection to another. The mineral passes with its mineral perfections to the vegetable; the vegetable, with its perfections, passes to the animal world, and so on to that of humanity. This world is full of seeming contradictions; in each of these kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal) life exists in its degree; though when compared to the life in a man, the earth appears to be dead, yet she, too, lives and has a life of her own. In this world things live and die, and live again in other forms of life, but in the world of the spirit it is quite otherwise.

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, November 3, 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

May 24, 2017

The process of learning: --> Questions that must be addressed through exploration of the Writings of the Faith as well as through scientific analysis of patterns unfolding

Numerous, of course, are the questions that the process of learning, now under way in all regions of the world, must address:
  • how to bring people of different backgrounds together in an environment which, devoid of the constant threat of conflict and distinguished by its devotional character, encourages them to put aside the divisive ways of a partisan mindset, fosters higher degrees of unity of thought and action, and elicits wholehearted participation;
  • how to administer the affairs of a community in which there is no ruling class with priestly functions that can lay claim to distinction or privilege;
  • how to enable contingents of men and women to break free from the confines of passivity and the chains of oppression in order to engage in activities conducive to their spiritual, social and intellectual development;
  • how to help youth navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and become empowered to direct their energies towards the advancement of civilization;
  • how to create dynamics within the family unit that lead to material and spiritual prosperity without instilling in the rising generations feelings of estrangement towards an illusory "other" or nurturing any instinct to exploit those relegated to this category;
  • how to make it possible for decision making to benefit from a diversity of perspectives through a consultative process which, understood as the collective investigation of reality, promotes detachment from personal views, gives due importance to valid empirical information, does not raise mere opinion to the status of fact or define truth as the compromise between opposing interest groups.

May 22, 2017

One’s own ongoing spiritual growth and development while attempting to conduct meaningful conversations

“With greater and greater spiritual perception, they are able to sense receptivity and recognize thirst for the vivifying waters of Bahá’u’lláh’s message.” (The Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

“As a person cultivates the habit of study and deep reflection upon the Creative Word, this process of transformation reveals itself in an ability to express one’s understanding of profound concepts and to explore spiritual reality in conversations of significance.” (The Universal House of Justice, 29 Dec, 2015, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

May 20, 2017

How to “become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated soul and a necessary characteristic of the unenslaved mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.

First in a human being’s way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely face of truth. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

May 15, 2017

Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – which ones form “a part of Bahá'í Scripture”?

The original of "Some Answered Questions" in Persian is preserved in the Holy Land; its text was read in full and corrected by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. Unfortunately, Abdu'l-Bahá did not read and authenticate all transcripts of His other talks, some of which have been translated into various languages and published. For many of His addresses included in "The Promulgation of Universal Peace" and "Paris Talks", for example, no original authenticated text has yet been found. However, the Guardian allowed such compilations to continue to be used by the friends. In the future each talk will have to be identified and those which are unauthenticated will have to be clearly distinguished from those which form a part of Bahá'í Scripture. This does not mean that the unauthenticated talks will have to cease to be used -- merely that the degree of authenticity of every document will have to be known and understood. (From a letter dated 23 March 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice included in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 28 March 1996 attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 22 October, 1996)