January 20, 2018

God established Baha’u’llah’s “covenant with every one who hath been created in the kingdoms of earth and heaven and in the realms of revelation and of creation.”

I testify, O my God, that this is the Day whereon Thy testimony hath been fulfilled, and Thy clear tokens have been manifested, and Thine utterances have been revealed, and Thy signs have been demonstrated, and the radiance of Thy countenance hath been diffused, and Thy proof hath been perfected, and Thine ascendancy hath been established, and Thy mercy hath overflowed, and the Day-Star of Thy grace hath shone forth with such brilliance that Thou didst manifest Him Who is the Revealer of Thyself and the Treasury of Thy wisdom and the Dawning-Place of Thy majesty and power. Thou didst establish His covenant with every one who hath been created in the kingdoms of earth and heaven and in the realms of revelation and of creation. Thou didst raise Him up to such heights that the wrongs inflicted by the oppressors have been powerless to deter Him from revealing Thy sovereignty, and the ascendancy of the wayward hath failed to prevent Him from demonstrating Thy power and from exalting Thy Cause.

January 18, 2018

1844-1944: Evolution of Baha’i Institutions

…advance in the rise of its institutions, whether as administrative centers or places of worship—institutions, clandestine and subterrene in their earliest beginnings, emerging imperceptibly into the broad daylight of public recognition, legally protected, enriched by pious endowments, ennobled at first by the erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of Ishqábád, the first Bahá’í House of Worship, and more recently immortalized, through the rise in the heart of the North American continent of the Mother Temple of the West, the forerunner of a divine, a slowly maturing civilization. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

January 15, 2018

Passages Inscribed in the Interior of the Bahá'í Temple in Chicago

1. "All the prophets of God proclaim the same faith."
2. "Religion is a radiant light and an impregnable stronghold."
3. "Ye are the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch."
4. "So powerful is unity's light that it can illumine the whole earth."
5. "Consort with the followers of all religions with friendliness."
6. "O Son of Being! Thou art My lamp and My light is in thee."
7. "O Son of Being! Walk in My statutes for love of Me."
8. "Thy Paradise is My love; thy heavenly home reunion with Me."
9. "The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun."
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Bahá'í Faith, The: 1844-1950: Information Statistical and Comparative’, compiled by Shoghi Effendi)

January 13, 2018

How will mankind eventually adopt the Cause of Baha’u’llah

One of the Apostles of Baha’u’llah was Mirza ‘Ali-Muhammad, entitled Varqa. Once he asked Bahá'u'lláh, 'How will the Cause of God be universally adopted by mankind?' Bahá'u'lláh said that first, the nations of the world would arm themselves with infernal engines of war, and when fully armed would attack each other like bloodthirsty beasts. As a result, there would be enormous bloodshed throughout the world. Then the wise from all nations would gather together to investigate the cause of such bloodshed. They would come to the conclusion that prejudices were the cause, a major form being religious prejudice. They would therefore try to eliminate religion so as to eliminate prejudice. Later they would realize that man cannot live without religion. Then they would study the teachings of all religions to see which of the religions conformed to the prevailing conditions of the time. It is then that the Cause of God would become universal.
(Adapted from ‘The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, vol. 4’, by Adib Taherzadeh)

January 12, 2018

Discoveries by soul in the next life

As to thy question regarding discoveries made by the soul after it hath put off its human form: certainly, that world is a world of perceptions and discoveries, for the interposed veil will be lifted away and the human spirit will gaze upon souls that are above, below, and on a par with itself. It is similar to the condition of a human being in the womb, where his eyes are veiled, and all things are hidden away from him. Once he is born out of the uterine world and entereth this life, he findeth it, with relation to that of the womb, to be a place of perceptions and discoveries, and he observeth all things through his outer eye. In the same way, once he hath departed this life, he will behold, in that world whatsoever was hidden from him here: but there he will look upon and comprehend all things with his inner eye. There will he gaze on his fellows and his peers, and those in the ranks above him, and those below. As for what is meant by the equality of souls in the all-highest realm, it is this: the souls of the believers, at the time when they first become manifest in the world of the body, are equal, and each is sanctified and pure. In this world, however, they will begin to differ one from another, some achieving the highest station, some a middle one, others remaining at the lowest stage of being. Their equal status is at the beginning of their existence; the differentiation followeth their passing away. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

January 10, 2018

A blessed soul…

Many a chilled heart, O my God, hath been set ablaze with the fire of Thy Cause, and many a slumberer hath been wakened by the sweetness of Thy voice. How many are the strangers who have sought shelter beneath the shadow of the tree of Thy oneness, and how numerous the thirsty ones who have panted after the fountain of Thy living waters in Thy days!

Blessed is he that hath set himself towards Thee, and hasted to attain the Day-Spring of the lights of Thy face. Blessed is he who with all his affections hath turned to the Dawning-Place of Thy Revelation and the Fountain-Head of Thine inspiration. 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.

I beseech Thee, O my Lord, by Him Who is Thy Name, Who, through the power of Thy sovereignty and might, hath risen above the horizon of His prison, to ordain for every one what becometh Thee and beseemeth Thine exaltation.

Thy might, in truth, is equal to all things. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

January 9, 2018

Evolution of Baha’i Community: 1844 to 1944

…increase in the diversity of the elements within its fellowship, which from being confined, in the first period of its history, to an obscure body of followers chiefly recruited from the ranks of the masses in Shí’ah Persia, has expanded into a fraternity representative of the leading religious systems of the world, of almost every caste and color, from the humblest worker and peasant to royalty itself. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

January 7, 2018

Evolution of Baha’i teachings between 1844 to 1944

…evolution in the scope of its [Baha’i] teachings, at first designedly rigid, complex and severe, subsequently recast, expanded, and liberalized under the succeeding Dispensation, later expounded, reaffirmed and amplified by an appointed Interpreter, and lastly systematized and universally applied to both individuals and institutions. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

January 5, 2018

Five types of spirit – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Now as to what thou askest concerning the spirit and its “return” to this world of humanity and this elemental space: Know that spirit in general is divided into five sorts—the vegetable spirit, the animal spirit, the human spirit, the spirit of faith, and the divine spirit of sanctity.

The vegetable spirit is the virtue augmentative, or growing or vegetative faculty, which results from the admixture of the simple elements, with the co-operation of water, air and heat.

The animal spirit is the virtue perceptive resulting from the admixture and absorption of the vital elements generated in the heart, which apprehend sense impressions.

The human spirit consists of the rational, or logical, reasoning faculty, which apprehends general ideas and things intelligible and perceptible.

January 4, 2018

Worldwide progress of the Faith – stages to go through

…the stages of obscurity, of proscription, of emancipation, and of recognition—stages that must needs culminate in the course of succeeding centuries, in the establishment of the Faith, and the founding, in the plenitude of its power and authority, of the world-embracing Bahá’í Commonwealth. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

January 2, 2018

Spiritual transformation of Europe – Assignment to Baha’is from the Universal House of Justice

We have not, as yet, found the secret of setting aglow the hearts of great numbers of Europeans with the divine fire. This must now be your constant preoccupation, the subject of your deliberations at this Conference, the purpose of your lives, to which you will attain "only if you arise to trample beneath your feet every earthly desire." We call upon every Baha'i in Europe to ponder this vital matter in his inmost soul, to consider what each may do to attract greater power to his efforts, to radiate more brilliantly and irresistibly the joyous, regenerating power of the Cause, so that the Baha'i community in every country of Europe may stand out as a beacon light repelling the dark shadows of godlessness and moral degradation now threatening to obliterate the last remnants of a dying order. We call upon the Continental Board of Counsellors to consult following this Conference with every National Spiritual Assembly in Europe, and together, launch such a campaign of spiritualization of the Baha'i community, allied with intensified personal teaching, as has never been witnessed in your continent.  The goals of the Seven Year Plan can all be accomplished as the result of such a programme and the European Baha'i community may achieve through it the spiritual force and character to demonstrate to a stricken and declining civilization the peace and joy and order of the long-awaited, Christ- promised Kingdom of God on earth. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 2 June 1982 addressed to the friends gathered at the International Conference in Dublin; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

December 30, 2017

Teaching the Cause is disseminating the power of the Holy Spirit

Teaching the Cause is disseminating the power of the Holy Spirit, and when you become a teacher of the Cause you become a channel through which the Holy Spirit descends into the world and goes out to those to whom you teach. So actually, the teacher secures greater benefit than the one whom he teaches, because he is then in contact with the power of the Holy Spirit.

December 28, 2017

Baha’i House of Worship in Chicago “marks the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth.”

“A most wonderful and thrilling motion will appear in the world of existence,” are ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s own words, predicting the release of spiritual forces that must accompany the completion of this most hallowed House of Worship [Baha’i House of Worship in Chicago]. “From that point of light,” He, further glorifying that edifice, has written, “the spirit of teaching ... will permeate to all parts of the world.” And again: “Out of this Mashriqu’l-Adhkár, without doubt, thousands of Mashriqu’l-Adhkárs will be born.” “It marks the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated April 11, 1949; ‘Citadel of Faith’)

December 27, 2017

The “attributes of the exalted” - “the hall-mark of the spiritually-minded” – “the requirements of the wayfarers that tread the Path of Positive Knowledge” - identified by Baha’u’llah

…O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days,
  • he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. 
  • He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments. 
  • He must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth. Even as thou dost witness in this day how most of the people, because of such love and hate, are bereft of the immortal Face, have strayed far from the Embodiments of the divine mysteries, and, shepherdless, are roaming through the wilderness of oblivion and error. 
  • That seeker must at all times put his trust in God, must renounce the peoples of the earth, detach himself from the world of dust, and cleave unto Him Who is the Lord of Lords. 
  • He must never seek to exalt himself above any one, must wash away from the tablet of his heart every trace of pride and vainglory, must cling unto patience and resignation, observe silence, and refrain from idle talk. For the tongue is a smouldering fire, and excess of speech a deadly poison. Material fire consumeth the body, whereas the fire of the tongue devoureth both heart and soul. The force of the former lasteth but for a time, whilst the effects of the latter endure a century.

December 25, 2017

The “historic and heroic services of Ireland in spreading the divine religion throughout pagan Europe” and the challenge Baha’is face now

The holding of this Conference in Dublin calls to mind the historic and heroic services of Ireland in spreading the divine religion throughout pagan Europe.  Europe's response was to develop, through many vicissitudes, the most widespread and effective civilization known. That civilization, together with all other systems in the world, is now being rolled up, and Europe's plight in proportion to her former pre-eminence, is desperate indeed. By the same token her opportunity is correspondingly great. The challenges to her resilience, to her deep-seated spiritual vitality, nourished over the centuries by the Teachings of Christ -- now, alas, neglected and even contemned -- can and must call forth a more magnificent response than was ever made by the divided and contending peoples of olden times. Yours is the task to arouse that response. The power of Baha'u'llah is with you and this Day, as attested by the Bab, is "immensely exalted ... above the days of the Apostles of old." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 2 June 1982 addressed to the friends gathered at the International Conference in Dublin; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

December 22, 2017

The European potentates whom Baha'u'llah addressed

Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, Napoleon III of France, Czar Alexander II of Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, Emperor Francis Joseph of Austria, and Pope Pius IX.  
(Footnote to June 2, 1982 message from the Universal House of Justice published in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

December 20, 2017

December 19, 2017

“…some of the processes that the Universal House of Justice follows when legislating.”

It may help the friends to understand this relationship if they are aware of some of the processes that the Universal House of Justice follows when legislating. First, of course, it observes the greatest care in studying the Sacred Texts and the interpretations of the Guardian as well as considering the views of all the members. After long consultation the process of drafting a pronouncement is put into effect. During this process the whole matter may well be reconsidered. As a result of such reconsideration the final judgement may be significantly different from the conclusion earlier favoured, or possibly it may be decided not to legislate at all on that subject at that time...." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, December 7, 1969: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973; Compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

December 17, 2017

Broad list of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s accomplishments – summarized by the Guardian

  • Through Him the Covenant, that “excellent and priceless Heritage” bequeathed by the Author of the Bahá’í Revelation, had been proclaimed, championed and vindicated.
  • Through the power which that Divine Instrument had conferred upon Him the light of God’s infant Faith had penetrated the West, had diffused itself as far as the Islands of the Pacific, and illumined the fringes of the Australian continent.
  • Through His personal intervention the Message, Whose Bearer had tasted the bitterness of a life-long captivity, had been noised abroad, and its character and purpose disclosed, for the first time in its history, before enthusiastic and representative audiences in the chief cities of Europe and of the North American continent.
  • Through His unrelaxing vigilance the holy remains of the Báb, brought forth at long last from their fifty-year concealment, had been safely transported to the Holy Land and permanently and befittingly enshrined in the very spot which Bahá’u’lláh Himself had designated for them and had blessed with His presence.
  • Through His bold initiative the first Mashriqu’l-Adhkár of the Bahá’í world had been reared in Central Asia, in Russian Turkistán, whilst through His unfailing encouragement a similar enterprise, of still vaster proportions, had been undertaken, and its land dedicated by Himself in the heart of the North American continent.

December 14, 2017

“Just as there are laws governing our physical lives… there are laws governing our spiritual lives.”

Just as there are laws governing our physical lives, requiring that we must supply our bodies with certain foods, maintain them within a certain range of temperatures, and so forth, if we wish to avoid physical disabilities, so also there are laws governing our spiritual lives. These laws are revealed to mankind in each age by Manifestation of God, and obedience to them is of vital importance if each human being, and mankind in general, is to develop properly and harmoniously. Moreover, these various aspects are interdependent. If an individual violates the spiritual laws for his own development he will cause injury not only to himself but to the society in which he lives. Similarly, the condition of society has a direct effect on the individuals who must live within it. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer; excerpts to all National Spiritual Assemblies, February, 1973: Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973’; Compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

December 12, 2017

Options open to a believer when facing a problem that requires action

Your letter of 14 February 1973 enquiring about the uses of Bahá'í consultation has been received. This is, of course, a matter in which rigidity should be avoided.

When a believer has a problem concerning which he must make a decision, he has several courses open to him. If it is a matter that affects the interests of the Faith he should consult with the appropriate Assembly or committee, but individuals have many problems which are purely personal and there is no obligation upon them to take such problems to the institutions of the Faith; indeed, when the needs of the teaching work are of such urgency it is better if the friends will not burden their assemblies with personal problems that they can solve by themselves.

A Bahá'í who has a problem may wish to make his own decision upon it after prayer and after weighing all the aspects of it in his own mind; he may prefer to seek the council of individual friends or of professional counsellors such as his doctor or lawyer so that he can consider such advice when making his decision; or in a case where several people are involved, such as a family situation, he may want to gather together those who are affected so that they may arrive at a collective decision. There is also no objection whatever to a Bahá'í asking a group of people to consult together on a problem facing him.

December 10, 2017

Prophecies of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – summarized by Shoghi Effendi

the prophecies which the unerring pen of the appointed Center of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant has recorded.
  • These foreshadow the fierceness of the onslaught that the resistless march of the Faith must provoke in the West, in India and in the Far East when it meets the time-honored sacerdotal orders of the Christian, the Buddhist and Hindu religions.
  • They foreshadow the turmoil which its emancipation from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will cast in the American, the European, the Asiatic and African continents.
  • They foreshadow the gathering of the children of Israel in their ancient homeland;
  • the erection of the banner of Bahá’u’lláh in the Egyptian citadel of Sunní Islám;
  • the extinction of the powerful influence wielded by the Shí’ah ecclesiastics in Persia;
  • the load of misery which must needs oppress the pitiful remnants of the breakers of Bahá’u’lláh’s Covenant at the world center of His Faith;
  • the splendor of the institutions which that triumphant Faith must erect on the slopes of a mountain, destined to be so linked with the city of Akká that a single grand metropolis will be formed to enshrine the spiritual as well as the administrative seats of the future Bahá’í Commonwealth;
  • the conspicuous honor which the inhabitants of Bahá’u’lláh’s native land in general, and its government in particular, must enjoy in a distant future;
  • the unique and enviable position which the community of the Most Great Name in the North American continent must occupy, as a direct consequence of the execution of the world mission which He entrusted to them;
  • finally they foreshadow, as the sum and summit of all, the “hoisting of the standard of God among all nations” and the unification of the entire human race, when “all men will adhere to one religion ... will be blended into one race, and become a single people.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘God Passes By’)

December 8, 2017

The plight of humanity & our response

Humanity is beaten almost to its knees, bewildered and shepherdless, hungry for the bread of life. This is our day of service; we have that heavenly food to offer. The peoples are disillusioned with deficient political theories, social systems and orders; they crave, knowingly or unknowingly, the love of God and reunion with Him. Our response to this growing challenge must be a mighty upsurge of effective teaching, imparting the divine fire which Baha'u'llah has kindled in our hearts until a conflagration arising from millions of souls on fire with His love shall at last testify that the Day for which the Chief Luminaries of our Faith so ardently prayed has at last dawned. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (Ridvan 1982)