December 31, 2010

The extent of future opposition

O maid-servant of God! The circumstances will be severe for every thankful servant (i. e., believer in the Teachings) in those boundaries and countries. The people shall arise against you with the most bitter hatred, opposition and envy. Swords of persecution and curses shall be thrown at you by all the nations. The wind of tests and trials shall fiercely blow and thereby the weak trees, which are not firmly rooted in this wonderful vineyard, shall be uprooted. But the trees which are strong, thriving and green will be strengthened, their branches extended, their leaves opened, their appearance beautified and their blossoms and fruits increased. I ask God to make thee one of those firmly rooted trees and an extended branch in this most great vineyard, and to make thy heart like unto a cup overflowing with His love in every assemblage. Verily He is the Powerful, the Generous! (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of ‘Abdu'l-Baha v2, p. 268)

December 30, 2010

The significance of Tablets and Addresses of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

Verily know that the Tablets (Book) of Abdul-Baha and his address is a hidden mystery and concealed fact. No one is informed of its greatness and importance at these times, but in the course of time and future centuries the signs thereof will be manifested, the lights thereof will dawn forth, the fragrances thereof will be diffused and the greatness, the importance thereof will be known. The truth I say unto thee, that each leaflet from Abdul-Baha will be a wide-spread book, nay, rather, a glistening gem on the Glorious Crown. Know thou its value and hold great its station. (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v2, p. 267)

December 28, 2010

Spiritual Unity – a “unity” that is “greater than the unity of mankind”

Another unity is the spiritual unity which emanates from the breaths of the Holy Spirit. This is greater than the unity of mankind. Human unity or solidarity may be likened to the body whereas unity from the breaths of the Holy Spirit is the spirit animating the body. This is a perfect unity. It creates such a condition in mankind that each one will make sacrifices for the other and the utmost desire will be to forfeit life and all that pertains to it in behalf of another's good. This is the unity which existed among the disciples of His Holiness Jesus Christ and bound together the prophets and holy souls of the past. It is the unity which through the influence of the divine spirit is permeating the Bahá'ís so that each offers his life for the other and strives with all sincerity to attain his good-pleasure. This is the unity which caused twenty thousand people in Iran to give their lives in love and devotion to it. It made the Báb the target of a thousand arrows and caused Bahá'u'lláh to suffer exile and imprisonment forty years. This unity is the very spirit of the body of the world. It is impossible for the body of the world to become quickened with life without its vivification. His Holiness Jesus Christ -- may my life be a sacrifice to Him! -- promulgated this unity among mankind. Every soul who believed in Jesus Christ became revivified and resuscitated through this spirit, attained to the zenith of eternal glory, realized the life everlasting, experienced the second birth and rose to the acme of good fortune. (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 258)

December 27, 2010

Did you know that the very first law that Baha’u’llah revealed in the Kitab-i-Aqdas is the obligatory prayer?

We have enjoined obligatory prayer upon you, with nine rak'ahs, to be offered at noon and in the morning and the evening unto God, the Revealer of Verses. We have relieved you of a greater number, as a command in the Book of God. He, verily, is the Ordainer, the Omnipotent, the Unrestrained. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 20)

December 26, 2010

‘Abdu’l-Baha compares the Baha’i Movement to other movements

In this world we judge a cause or movement by its progress and development. Some movements appear, manifest a brief period of activity, then discontinue. Others show forth a greater measure of growth and strength, but before attaining mature development, weaken, disintegrate and are lost in oblivion. Neither of these mentioned are progressive and permanent.

There is still another kind of movement or cause which from a very small, inconspicuous beginning goes forward with sure and steady progress, gradually broadening and widening until it has assumed universal dimensions. The Bahá'í Movement is of this nature. For instance, when Bahá'u'lláh was exiled from Persia with 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the rest of His family, they traveled the long road from Tihran to Baghdad, passing through many towns and villages. During the whole of that journey and distance they did not meet a single believer in the Cause for which they had been banished. At that time very little was known about it in any part of the world. Even in Baghdad there was but one believer who had been taught by Bahá'u'lláh Himself in Persia. Later on, two or three others appeared. You will see, therefore, that at the beginning the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh was almost unknown, but on account of being a divine Movement it grew and developed with irresistible spiritual power until in this day, wherever you travel -- East or West -- and in whatever country you journey, you will meet Bahá'í assemblies and institutions. This is an evidence that the Bahá'ís are spreading the blessings of unity and progressive development throughout the world under the direction of divine guidance and purpose, while other movements which are only temporary in their activities and accomplishments have no real, universal significance. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 44)

December 22, 2010

Baha’u’llah in a Tablet had specifically referred to the one who would oppose His appointed Center of the Covenant

“Now Moses said that after Him should come Joshua. The Christ said, addressing Peter, 'Thou art the Rock, and I will build My temple upon this Rock.' Jesus spoke this to Peter by word of mouth. The Blessed Perfection did not appoint His successor by statement of tongue, but in the 'Book of Ahd' ('Book of the Covenant'), He wrote it with His own Hand, commanding therein that all the branches and relations should look toward the Center of the Covenant. Also, in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, revealed thirty years before His Ascension, it is mentioned in two places. During these thirty years these commands of the Blessed Perfection were known and clearly understood by all. Again, in a Tablet He refers specifically to this, naming one who would violate His Commands. This Tablet was dictated by the Blessed Perfection and written at His Command by the hand of Muhammad-‘Alí. Muhammad-‘Alí has made many copies of it. Therefore, we cannot deny what it says. If it was not so, Muhammad-‘Alí would be able to deny. When he violated the Covenant, he went out from the shadow of the Blessed Perfection. Bahá‘u’lláh also said in this Tablet mentioned, that if for an instant this one should disobey His Commands, he would become a 'fallen branch.' He mentioned this expressly for Muhammad-‘Alí, knowing that he would disobey and deny. He left no possibility for anyone to disobey or misunderstand what He commanded. If it were not so, Muhammad-‘Alí could do many things that would injure. As it is, he has appropriated many papers and Tablets written by the Blessed Perfection. It is possible for these writings to be altered, as the meanings in Persian are greatly changed by a single dot here and there. Before His Ascension, the Blessed Perfection said to me, 'I have given You all the papers.' He put them in two satchels and sent them to Me. After His Ascension, Muhammad-‘Alí said, 'You had better give me the two satchels to take care of.' He took them away and never returned them. He thought the Center of the Covenant would be helpless without these papers. But he did not realize that My strength is the assistance of the Blessed Perfection. If all the world combined against Me, I would still possess this power, and all the world could not take it away from Me. I can fight with this weapon forever and will always be victorious. It is a sword which can never be dulled, a magazine that is always filled.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, notes of a table talk given in 1905, recorded by Julia M. Grundy, ‘Ten Days In the Light of ‘Akka’, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Ill., 1979)

December 21, 2010

“The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication”

Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. (Words of Jesus.)

There is nothing sweeter in the word of existence than prayer.

Man must live in a state of prayer. The most blessed condition is the condition of prayer and supplication. Prayer is conversation with God. The greatest attainment or the sweetest state is none other than convention with God. It creates spirituality, creates mindfulness and celestial feelings, begets new attractions of the Kingdom and engenders the susceptibilities of the higher intelligence.

The highest attribute given to his holiness Moses is the following verse: "God carried along a conversation with Moses."

December 20, 2010

Question: “Are miracles performed in this Day?”

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s: “Miracles are constantly being performed in the material world about us, yet they make but little impression. Every Prophet has His own particular Mission and function. He does not come merely to perform miracles. People do not trouble themselves about the proof of miracles. The function of a physician is not to make a tree talk.” (Notes of a conversation with ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recorded by Julia M. Grundy, ‘Ten Days In the Light of ‘Akka’, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Ill., 1979)

December 14, 2010

A Baha’i is “recognized by his character, not by his person”

A Bahá'í is known by the attributes manifested by him, not by his name: he is recognized by his character, not by his person. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 60)

December 9, 2010

State of mind & heart to strive for when saying the Obligatory Prayer

O My brother! How great, how very great, can the law of obligatory prayer be, when, through His mercy and loving kindness, one is enabled to observe it. When a man commenceth the recitation of the Obligatory Prayer, he should see himself severed from all created things and regard himself as utter nothingness before the will and purpose of God, in such wise that he seeth naught but Him in the world of being. This is the station of God's well-favored ones and those who are wholly devoted to Him. Should one perform the Obligatory Prayer in this manner, he will be accounted by God and the Concourse on high among those who have truly offered the prayer. (Baha’u’llah, compilation on The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)

December 8, 2010

“Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations.”

Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays. (From a letter dated 12 July 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 23)

December 6, 2010

1965: First Conference of the Hands of the Cause for Africa, Board Members and two African NSA's

First Conference of the Hands of the Cause for Africa, their Board members, and members of two National Spiritual Assemblies of Africa [South-and-West, and South Central] held in Salisbury, Rhodesia in September 1965. Hands of the Cause Enoch Olinga and John Robarts are in the front row, third from left and third from right, respectively. (Baha'i News, January 19660)

December 5, 2010

Who is a “true Baha’i”?

He is a true Bahá'í who strives by day and by night to progress and advance along the path of human endeavor, whose most cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illuminate the world, whose source of inspiration is the essence of Divine virtue, whose aim in life is so to conduct himself as to be the cause of infinite progress. Only when he attains unto such perfect gifts can it be said of him that he is a true Bahá'í. For in this holy Dispensation, the crowning glory of bygone ages and cycles, true Faith is no mere acknowledgement of the Unity of God, but rather the living of a life that will manifest all the perfections and virtues implied in such belief.... (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 372)

December 4, 2010

Getting a glimpse of the “incomparable greatness of the Baha’i Revelation” –- through a Zoroastrian Prophecy

As a further testimony to the greatness of the Revelation identified with Bahá'u'lláh may be cited the following extracts from a Tablet addressed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to an eminent Zoroastrian follower of the Faith: "Thou hadst written that in the sacred books of the followers of Zoroaster it is written that in the latter days, in three separate Dispensations, the sun must needs be brought to a standstill. In the first Dispensation, it is predicted, the sun will remain motionless for ten days; in the second for twice that time; in the third for no less than one whole month. The interpretation of this prophecy is this: the first Dispensation to which it refers is the Muhammadan Dispensation during which the Sun of Truth stood still for ten days. Each day is reckoned as one century. The Muhammadan Dispensation must have, therefore, lasted no less than one thousand years, which is precisely the period that has elapsed from the setting of the Star of the Imamate to the advent of the Dispensation proclaimed by the Báb. The second Dispensation referred to in this prophecy is the one inaugurated by the Báb Himself, which began in the year 1260 A.H. and was brought to a close in the year 1280 A.H. As to the third Dispensation -- the Revelation proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh -- inasmuch as the Sun of Truth when attaining that station shineth in the plenitude of its meridian splendor its duration hath been fixed for a period of one whole month, which is the maximum time taken by the sun to pass through a sign of the Zodiac. From this thou canst imagine the magnitude of the Bahá'í cycle -- a cycle that must extend over a period of at least five hundred thousand years. (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 102)

December 3, 2010

Supplications may be addressed to ‘Abdu’l-Baha

With reference to the first of the two questions raised by the San Francisco Spiritual Assembly in connection with 'The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah,' he wishes me to explain that although 'Abdu'l-Baha's station is not that of a Manifestation of God, nevertheless supplications may be addressed to Him. It is essential, however, that every believer should realize that while doing so he is directing his thoughts towards the Master as an intermediary between him and the Manifestation, and not as the Source of Divine Revelation and Spiritual Guidance. Provided this distinction is clearly established there can be no harm or objection in addressing prayers to 'Abdu'l-Baha. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Baha’i News, January 1935)

December 1, 2010

A lesson on the seeing of a halo about the Master

The Master said there were four kinds of light: the light from the lamp was one; but because the face of a man does not give out light as the lamp does, is man less than the lamp or greater? Some worms give off a light -- is man or the worm greater? Man does not give out such a light, but man has the kingdom of the mind and it is the light of this kingdom which some see when they love a person very much, and they mistake it for a material light when it is not. This comes from the emotional nature and is an imagination. Then there is the Light of the Holy Spirit possessed by God's Chosen Ones. The minds of men cannot comprehend this Light -- thus they martyr those who come with this Light. But time proves that their Light was the true Light and that the light of the minds of the men of their time was limited. They comprehend the past, present and future and see things as they will be when accomplished. St. John, on the Isle of Patmos, seeing into the future, foretold what would come to pass in this present Day. There is no time to this Light -- it knows all things. (‘Abdu’l-Baha’s explanation as recorded by Corine True during her pilgrimage in 1907; ‘Notes Taken at Acca’, booklet published by Baha’i Publishing Society, Chicago 1907)

November 30, 2010

"Assemblies and not individuals constitute the bedrock on which the Administration is built"

Regarding the principle that the Cause must not be allowed to center around any Baha’i personality, the Guardian wishes to make it clear that it was never intended that well qualified individual teachers should not receive from local Assemblies every encouragement and facilities to address the public. What the Guardian meant was that the personality and popularity of such a speaker should never be allowed to eclipse the authority, or detract from the influence of the body of the elected representatives in every local community. Such an individual should not only seek the approval, advice and assistance of the body that represents the Cause in his locality, but should strive to attribute any credit he may obtain to the collective wisdom and capacity of the Assembly under whose jurisdiction he performs his services. Assemblies and not individuals constitute the bedrock on which the Administration is built. Everything else must be subordinated to, and be made to serve and advance the best interests of these elected custodians and promoters of the Laws of Baha'u'llah.(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, dated August 12 , 1933; Baha’i News, January 1934)

November 26, 2010

Divine versus Satanic attributes

The attributes of God are love and mercy; the attribute of Satan is hate. Therefore, he who is merciful and kind to his fellowmen is manifesting the divine attribute, and he who is hating and hostile toward a fellow creature is satanic. God is absolute love, even as Jesus Christ has declared, and Satan is utter hatred. Wherever love is witnessed, know that there is a manifestation of God's mercy; whenever you meet hatred and enmity, know that these are the evidences and attributes of Satan. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, excerpt from a talk given on 21 April 1912 in Washington D.C.; Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 39) (To read the entire talk please visits Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

November 24, 2010

The Incomparable Figure of Baha’u’llah

Let us fix our gaze in adoration upon that figure, so inimitably delineated by the Guardian: "the incomparable figure of Baha'u'llah, transcendent in His majesty, serene, awe-inspiring, unapproachably glorious." He Whom, He Himself testifies, the Prophets and Messengers addressed, on the eve of His Declaration as "O Most Great Mystery, O Tabernacle of Immortality!" He, but for Whom, in His own words, "no Divine Messenger would have been invested with the robe of prophethood, nor would any of the Sacred Scriptures have been revealed." Let us call to mind, in His own words, the period of His declaration in Baghdad, the centenary of which is so close upon us: "Arise, and proclaim unto the entire creation the tidings that He Who is the All-Merciful hath directed His steps towards the Ridvan and entered it. Guide, then, the people unto the Garden of Delight which God hath made the Throne of His Paradise . . ." "Rejoice, with exceeding gladness, O people of Baha! as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the entire creation the splendors of His Name, the All-Merciful."

November 22, 2010

God’s “most beauteous names,” and “most noble and sublime attributes” – as Revealed to humanity through His Manifestations

In the Long Healing prayer Baha’u’llah makes us aware of such “names” and “attributes” of God. ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains that the Manifestation of God is a “Perfect Man” Who like a “polished mirror reflecting the Sun of Truth, manifesting the attributes of God. The Lord Christ said, 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father' -- God manifested in man.” (‘Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 25) So, by studying the Lives and Teachings of the Manifestations of God we grow in our understanding and appreciation of such names and attributes of God. This appears to be part of our on-going, never-ending, process of spiritual transformation on this plane of existence. Let’s wish each other good-luck in this journey!

November 18, 2010

The Station of Mother, Sister and Brother of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

“… these three incomparably precious souls who, next to the three Central Figures of our Faith, tower in rank above the vast multitude of the heroes, Letters, martyrs, Hands, teachers and administrators of the Cause of Baha'u'llah …” (Excerpt from a letter written by Shoghi Effendi, dated 21 December 1939; Messages to America, p, 32; The Compilation of Compilations, vol.1, p.338)

November 13, 2010

Creatures on other planets

Know thou that every fixed star hath its own planets, and every planet its own creatures, whose number no man can compute. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 163)

"Regarding the passage on p. 163 of the 'Gleanings'; the creatures which Bahá'u'lláh states to be found in every planet cannot be considered to be necessarily similar or different from human beings on this earth. Bahá'u'lláh does not specifically state whether such creatures are like or unlike us. He simply refers to the fact that there are creatures in every planet. It remains for science to discover one day the exact nature of these creatures." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 9, 1937; Lights of Guidance, p. 478)

November 11, 2010

Imagine we had the inestimable privilege to be in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha and ask the following question:

'What is the purpose of our lives?'

'Abdu'l-Bahá. -- 'To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom -- from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms, that we may possess the best qualities of the mineral, that we may acquire the power of growing as in the plant, that we may be adorned with the instincts of the animal and possess the faculties of sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste, until from the animal kingdom we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.' (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 177)

November 10, 2010

“mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service” are strong in women

The world in the past has been ruled by force, and man has dominated over woman by reason of his more forceful and aggressive qualities both of body and mind. But the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy. Hence the new age will be an age less masculine and more permeated with the feminine ideals, or, to speak more exactly, will be an age in which the masculine and feminine elements of civilization will be more evenly balanced. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in ‘Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 369)

November 9, 2010

Question: What is the significance of the word "He is God" which appears as the heading of every tablet and letter [of ‘Abdu’l-Baha]?

Answer [by 'Abdu'l-Baha]: This is a usage of the people of the East; it is of Islam. Their purpose is that in every matter the commencement should be in the Name of God (i.e., everything we do must begin with the Name of God). As to its observance in the divine tablets, the purport is this: The reality of the Divine Entity is holy above comprehension, beyond definition, and far from the reach of imagination, for that which is imagined is finite, of man, and thereto man is infinite; and certainly the infinite is greater than the finite. Therefore, it is made evident that what is imagined is a creation and not the Creator, for the Essence of Divinity is beyond human imagination.

November 6, 2010

Jan. 1960: Horace Holley Left U.S. for Holy Land after Thirty-Six Years Service on U.S. National Spiritual Assembly

On March 12, 1923, the beloved Guardian addressed a letter to the Baha'is throughout America, Great Britain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, and Australia emphasizing the responsibility of believers in spreading the Teachings and in establishing local assemblies in all cities having nine or more adult Baha'is. In the same letter the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly was presented in detail.

During Ridvan of that year there were elected for the first time local and national institutions having the functions of spiritual assemblies as we now recognize them in East and West. Horace Holley was elected a member of the New York Local Spiritual Assembly and of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada that year. He has continued his services on the National Spiritual Assembly for thirty-six years without interruption, and has been its secretary since 1924. He has therefore been an active participant in the evolution of the Baha'i community throughout all its stages of administrative development following the ascension of 'Abdu'l-Baha, including the two seven-year teaching plans formulated by the Guardian, the celebration of tine Centenary of the Bab, the celebration of the Centenary of Baha'u'llah, and the Guardian's World Crusade up to the present hour.

October 31, 2010

October 28, 2010

Work is worship “provided that it is conducted on the basis of utmost honesty and faithfulness”

In the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh, it is incumbent upon every soul to acquire a trade and an occupation. For example, I know how to weave or make a mat, and you know some other trade. This, in itself is an act of worship, provided that it is conducted on the basis of utmost honesty and faithfulness. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, vol. 19, no. 2; The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 4)

October 27, 2010

The “best teacher” & an “exemplary believer”

A "best teacher" and an "exemplary believer" is ultimately neither more nor less than an ordinary Bahá'í who has consecrated himself to the work of the Faith, deepened his knowledge and understanding of its Teachings, placed his confidence in Bahá'u'lláh, and arisen to serve Him to the best of his ability. This door is one which we are assured will open before the face of every follower of the Faith who knocks hard enough, so to speak. When the will and the desire are strong enough, the means will be found and the way opened either to do more work locally, to go to a new goal town within the United States, or to enter the foreign pioneer field... (Excerpt from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 26)

October 11, 2010

The “Kitáb-i-Aqdas is the Charter of the future world civilization that Bahá'u'lláh has come to raise up ..”

Of the more than one hundred volumes comprising the sacred Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is of unique importance. "To build anew the whole world" is the claim and challenge of His Message, and the Kitáb-i-Aqdas is the Charter of the future world civilization that Bahá'u'lláh has come to raise up. Its provisions rest squarely on the foundation established by past religions, for, in the words of Bahá'u'lláh, "This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." In this Revelation the concepts of the past are brought to a new level of understanding, and the social laws, changed to suit the age now dawning, are designed to carry humanity forward into a world civilization the splendours of which can as yet be scarcely imagined. (The Universal House of Justice, Introduction to ‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’, p. 1)

October 4, 2010

Mystery of Sacrifice

Although we will not be able to fully understand the mystery of sacrifice in this world, we can find through the Writings that there is a tremendous power released when man sacrifices something in the path of God. …In one of His Tablets, 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains that not until a seed completely disintegrates under the soil can it produce a tree. It is then that an object as insignificant as a seed, by sacrificing itself completely, will be transformed into a mighty tree with branches, fruits and flowers. It is the same when man sacrifices something of his own.

A human being has two opposite forces working within him, the animal and the spiritual. The animal nature inclines man to the material world. The Manifestations of God have exhorted their followers to detach themselves from material inclinations so that their spiritual side may dominate over the physical. As we have already stated [previously] … by detachment is not meant renunciation of the world, mendicancy or asceticism. In a nutshell, detachment is to submit one's will to the will of God and to seek His good pleasure above one's own. Therefore, the challenge to every believer in this life is detachment from all else save God. To become detached from something of this world is often a painful process and this is where sacrifice becomes necessary, because man is attracted to the material world and to his own self by nature. When the believer sacrifices something of this world, an act which entails pain and suffering or deprivation of material benefits, he will attain to a higher spiritual status, depending on the measure of sacrifice.

September 29, 2010

Present Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies are the same Houses of Justice referred to by Bahá'u'lláh

That the Spiritual Assemblies of today will be replaced in time by the Houses of Justice, and are to all intents and purposes identical and not separate bodies, is abundantly confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. He has in fact in a Tablet addressed to the members of the first Chicago Spiritual Assembly, the first elected Bahá'í body instituted in the United States, referred to them as the members of the "House of Justice" for that city, and has thus with His own pen established beyond any doubt the identity of the present Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies with the Houses of Justice referred to by Bahá'u'lláh. For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Bahá'í communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies, a term which, as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice.... (Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 6; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 41)

September 27, 2010

Baha’u’llah “chose for one of His names the title of The Poor One”

While Bahá’u’lláh was in Baghdád, still in possession of great wealth, He left all He had and went alone from the city, living two years among the poor. They were His comrades. He ate with them, slept with them and gloried in being one of them. He chose for one of His names the title of The Poor One and often in His Writings refers to Himself as Darvísh, which in Persian means poor; and of this title He was very proud. He admonished all that we must be the servants of the poor, helpers of the poor, remember the sorrows of the poor, associate with them; for thereby we may inherit the Kingdom of heaven. God has not said that there are mansions prepared for us if we pass our time associating with the rich, but He has said there are many mansions prepared for the servants of the poor, for the poor are very dear to God. The mercies and bounties of God are with them. The rich are mostly negligent, inattentive, steeped in worldliness, depending upon their means, whereas the poor are dependent upon God, and their reliance is upon Him, not upon themselves. Therefore, the poor are nearer the threshold of God and His throne. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, exerpt from a talk given by 'Abdu'l-Baha; The Promulgation of the Universal Peace, pp. 33-34) (To read the entire talk please visit Talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha)

September 22, 2010

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:
1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.

3. Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.

4. Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.

5. Teaching the Cause of God.

6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession.

(Excerpt from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Norway, dated 1 September 1983; The Universal House of Justice Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 587)

September 15, 2010

We need to show “real love and tolerance towards the ideas and customs of the people” and through “wise conduct and loving-kindness” remove “obstacles between them and the Truth”

Shoghi Effendi approves of your consideration for your husband. He hopes that through your wise conduct and loving-kindness to him, he will also gradually understand the significance of the Holy Cause. People are not naturally against the Truth. There are obstacles between them and the Truth. These obstacles must be wisely removed and then they surely will be attracted to the Cause. The magnet for this attraction is real love and tolerance towards the ideas and customs of the people. We must follow our Lord, 'Abdu'l-Baha, who taught us to be well-wishers of mankind disregarding religious and racial differences. Our love must be so spacious as to engulf the whole of the people of the world. With love and only with unlimited love we have been and will be able to conquer the hearts of the people and direct the current of their sentiments along the channel of the happiness of mankind and thus usher in the era of the regeneration of man. It is unlimited love which is the Elixir that turns the common metals of the human being into pure gold. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Messages to Canada, p. 11)

September 13, 2010

The Unique and Outstanding Shoghi Effendi

The unique and outstanding figure in the world today is Shoghi Effendi. Unique, because the guardianship of this great Cause is in his hands, and his humility, modesty, economy and self-effacement are monumental. Outstanding because he is the only person, we may safely say, who entrusted with the affairs of millions of souls, has but one thought and one mind -- the speedy promulgation of peace and good-will throughout the world. His personal life is absolutely and definitely sacrificed. The poorest boy in America struggling for an education would consider himself hardly used to have no more than those bare necessities which this young man voluntarily chooses for himself. The ladies of the household typify the Cause as Love and Faith. Shoghi Effendi adds to this the elan of the New Day, Action and Progress. (An excerpt from the Diary of Keith Ransom-Kehler, The Baha’i World, 1926-1928, p. 132)

September 10, 2010

How one should view world’s religious leaders and divines

Nor should it be thought for a moment that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh either seek to degrade or even belittle the rank of the world's religious leaders, whether Christian, Muslim, or of any other denomination, should their conduct conform to their professions, and be worthy of the position they occupy. "Those divines," Bahá'u'lláh has affirmed, "...who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and as eyes to the nations. The guidance of men hath, at all times, been and is dependent upon these blessed souls." And again: "The divine whose conduct is upright, and the sage who is just, are as the spirit unto the body of the world. Well is it with that divine whose head is attired with the crown of justice, and whose temple is adorned with the ornament of equity." And yet again: "The divine who hath seized and quaffed the most holy Wine, in the name of the sovereign Ordainer, is as an eye unto the world. Well is it with them who obey him, and call him to remembrance." "Great is the blessedness of that divine," He, in another connection, has written, "that hath not allowed knowledge to become a veil between him and the One Who is the Object of all knowledge, and who, when the Self-Subsisting appeared, hath turned with a beaming face towards Him. He, in truth, is numbered with the learned. The inmates of Paradise seek the blessing of his breath, and his lamp sheddeth its radiance over all who are in heaven and on earth. He, verily, is numbered with the inheritors of the Prophets. He that beholdeth him hath, verily, beheld the True One, and he that turneth towards him hath, verily, turned towards God, the Almighty, the All-Wise." "Respect ye the divines amongst you," is His exhortation, "They whose acts conform to the knowledge they possess, who observe the statutes of God, and decree the things God hath decreed in the Book. Know ye that they are the lamps of guidance betwixt earth and heaven. They that have no consideration for the position and merit of the divines amongst them have, verily, altered the bounty of God vouchsafed unto them." (Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 110)

September 8, 2010

Baha’i Administrative Order is unique in religious history

“… this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá'u'lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. Nowhere in the sacred scriptures of any of the world's religious systems, nor even in the writings of the Inaugurator of the Bábí Dispensation, do we find any provisions establishing a covenant or providing for an administrative order that can compare in scope and authority with those that lie at the very basis of the Bahá'í Dispensation.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 144)

September 2, 2010

The “oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of” the virtues of the human world

Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all. Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 32)

August 30, 2010

The Baha’i Faith -- We are “too close to so colossal a Revelation”

This generation stands too close to so colossal a Revelation to appreciate, in their full measure, the infinite possibilities of His Faith, the unprecedented character of His Cause, and the mysterious dispensations of His Providence. (Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the US Baha'i News)

August 24, 2010

‘Abdu’l-Baha is the exemplar of the spirit of the Prophet

The Master reflects the qualities of the Manifestations as if He were a mirror. He reflects not only those of Bahá'u'lláh but also of Christ as He is the exemplar of the spirit of the Prophet.... (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 440)

August 19, 2010

How should a Baha’i weigh his/her desire to participate in various humanitarian relief works

He feels that, although your desire to partake actively of the dangers and miseries afflicting so many millions of people today, is natural, and a noble impulse, there can be no comparison between the value of Bahá'í work and any other form of service to humanity.

If the Bahá'ís could evaluate their work properly they would see that, whereas other forms of relief work are superficial in character, alleviating the sufferings and ills of men for a short time at best, the work they are doing is to lay the foundation of a new spiritual Order in the world founded on the Word of God, operating according to the Laws He has laid down for this age. No one else can do this work except those who have fully realized the meaning of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh, whereas almost any courageous, sincere person can engage in relief work, etc.

The believers are building a refuge for mankind. This is their supreme, sacred task, and they should devote every moment they can to this task. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Principles of Bahai Administration, p. 23)

August 17, 2010

We should turn our back to darkness and our face to ‘Abdu’l-Baha

He [the Guardian] urges you to persevere and add up your accomplishments, rather than to dwell on the dark side of things. Everyone's life has both a dark and bright side. The Master said: turn your back to the darkness and your face to Me. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 456)

August 16, 2010

What is a soul?

As to the question concerning the soul, know thou, verily, that "soul" is a term applied to numerous realities, according to the exigencies of the following relations in regard to development in the world of existence:

(1) In the mineral kingdom, soul is called "latent force," silently working for the disintegration of the substance of the mineral.

(2) In the vegetable kingdom it is called “virtue augmentative," or the power of growth, which attracts and absorbs the delicate materials of inorganic substance found in the mineral kingdom of matter, and transforms them into the condition of growth. Thus the inorganic substance found in the mineral kingdom becomes growing vegetable life through the effect of the word of God. This vegetable soul, i. e. "virtue augmentative," or power of growth, is a quality which is produced by the admixture of elements, and appears in accidental organisms, of which contingency is an essential attribute.

(3) In the animal kingdom it is called "sense perceptions" (or instinct). This soul term, as applied to the animal kingdom, is also a natural quality resulting from the mixture of the elements, and it appears from their mingling and combination, for it is a quality which results from the composition of bodies (organisms) and is dispersed at their decomposition. From this we are to understand that the animal soul is not endowed with the capacity of attaining immortality, as the life force is dispersed at the decomposition of the animal tissues.

All these things up to this point are a contingent reality, and are not a divine reality. But a contingent reality, which is perpetuated by the fullness of existence, will then suffer no corruption, and will thus become a divine reality, for the accidental reality is only distinguished from the existent reality by its subjection to corruption. For transformation is an essential necessity to every contingent reality, and this is what the mature wisdom has deemed advisable.

August 12, 2010

Physical powers and intellectual attainments are not sufficient for the advancement of the world of humanity – we also need assistance from the divine Father

The world of humanity cannot advance through mere physical powers and intellectual attainments; nay, rather, the Holy Spirit is essential. The divine Father must assist the human world to attain maturity. The body of man is in need of physical and mental energy but his spirit requires the life and fortification of the Holy Spirit. Without its protection and quickening the human world would be extinguished. His Holiness Jesus Christ declared, "Let the dead bury their dead." He also said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." It is evident therefore according to His Holiness that the human spirit which is not fortified by the presence of the Holy Spirit is dead and in need of resurrection by that divine power; otherwise, though materially advanced to high degrees man cannot attain full and complete progress. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 181)

August 9, 2010

Material vs. Divine Civilizations -- from an interview between ‘Abdu’l-Baha and a San Francisco news reporter in 1912

Correspondent: Are you pleased with the United States?

‘Abdu’l-Baha: The continent of America is most progressive. The means of instructions are prepared; the educational institutions are thoroughly equipped and the pupils are being systematically trained and educated. The wealth is on an upward tendency. Its government is democratic. Its advancement is unceasing. Its nation is hospitable. Its people are loyal, energetic and noble. Its inhabitants are free and the lovers of liberty. Its men are civilized and its women are cultured, refined and idealistic. On the other hand, all these advantages are on the material plane, and I observe the majority of the people are submerged in the sea of materialism and agnosticism. The natural civilization is well-nigh perfect; but it is in need of the civilization of heaven -- Divine civilization.

Correspondent: What do you mean by "Divine civilization"?

August 8, 2010

Quddus’s incredible station and examples of his humility towards the Bab

“Quddus, immortalized by Him [the Bab] as Ismu'llahi'l-Akhir (the Last Name of God); on whom Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet of Kullu't-Ta'am later conferred the sublime appellation of Nuqtiy-i-Ukhra (the Last Point); whom He elevated, in another Tablet, to a rank second to none except that of the Herald of His Revelation; whom He identifies, in still another Tablet, with one of the ‘Messengers charged with imposture’ mentioned in the Qur'án; whom the Persian Bayan extolled as that fellow-pilgrim round whom mirrors to the number of eight Vahids revolve; on whose ‘detachment and the sincerity of whose devotion to God's will God prideth Himself amidst the Concourse on high;’ whom 'Abdu'l-Bahá designated as the ‘Moon of Guidance;’ and whose appearance the Revelation of St. John the Divine anticipated as one of the two ‘Witnesses’ into whom, ere the ‘second woe is past,’ the ‘spirit of life from God’ must enter” 
-Shoghi Effendi  ('God Passes By') 

Such a person showed incredible humility towards the Bab as documented below by the great historian Nabil:

"Upon His arrival in Jaddih, the Báb donned the pilgrim's garb, mounted a camel, and set out on His journey to Mecca [to perform His pilgrimage]. Quddus, however, notwithstanding the repeatedly expressed desire of his Master, preferred to accompany Him on foot all the way from Jaddih to that holy city. Holding in his hand the bridle of the camel upon which the Báb was riding, he walked along joyously and prayerfully, ministering to his Master's needs, wholly indifferent to the fatigues of his arduous march. Every night, from eventide until the break of day, Quddus, sacrificing comfort and sleep, would continue with unrelaxing vigilance to watch beside his Beloved, ready to provide for His wants and to ensure the means of His protection and safety." 
- Nabil  (The Dawn-Breakers, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi) 
(For a brief account of his life please visit Baha'i Talks, Messages and Articles)

August 5, 2010

The Hidden Words have no sequence

The Hidden Words have no sequence. They are jewel-like thoughts sent out of the mind of the Manifestation of God to admonish and counsel men. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 456)

August 2, 2010

The Guardian loved Africa

Africa, an untapped reservoir of spiritual potency and capacity, was the focal point of the beloved Guardian's Ten Year Crusade [1953-1963]. So important was its role in the development of the Plan and such joy did these victories bring to the heart of Shoghi Effendi during the latter years of his life, that Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum placed the continent of Africa in the most prominent position on the globe that surmounts the pillar above his grave. The significance of Africa in the history of the Baha'i Faith has thus been recorded for all time. (Violette Nakhjavani, The Great African Safari, p. vii)

July 29, 2010

First Baha’i to live in Vancouver, Canada

In April of 1920, Marion Jack [then 56 years old] moved to Vancouver and was the first Baha'i to live there. She worked with Mrs. Laura Luther of Seattle to arrange for the visit of Jenab-i-Fadl Mazandarani to Vancouver. He spent seven days there in January and February of 1921. As a result of the teaching efforts made during this visit, four people became Baha’is. Marion stayed a few months longer in order to deepen the new believers and in 1922 returned to New Brunswick … (Marion Jack Immortal Heroine, publication Baha’i Canada, 1985) (For a brief write-up about Marion Jack, please visit Baha’i Heroes and Heroines)

July 22, 2010

Examples of changes in social laws associated with various past religions

… the purpose of the religion of God is the education of humanity and the unity and fellowship of mankind. Furthermore, we will establish the point that the foundations of the religions of God are one foundation. This foundation is not multiple, for it is reality itself. Reality does not admit of multiplicity, although each of the divine religions is separable into two divisions. One concerns the world of morality and the ethical training of human nature. It is directed to the advancement of the world of humanity in general; it reveals and inculcates the knowledge of God and makes possible the discovery of the verities of life. This is ideal and spiritual teaching, the essential quality of divine religion, and not subject to change or transformation. It is the one foundation of all the religions of God. Therefore, the religions are essentially one and the same.

July 21, 2010

What is the conclusive evidence of the divine origin of known Messengers of God?

What, then, is the mission of the divine Prophets? Their mission is the education and advancement of the world of humanity. They are the real Teachers and Educators, the universal Instructors of mankind. If we wish to discover whether any one of these great Souls or Messengers was in reality a Prophet of God, we must investigate the facts surrounding His life and history, and the first point of our investigation will be the education He bestowed upon mankind. If He has been an Educator, if He has really trained a nation or people, causing it to rise from the lowest depths of ignorance to the highest station of knowledge, then we are sure that He was a Prophet. This is a plain and clear method of procedure, proof that is irrefutable. We do not need to seek after other proofs. We do not need to mention miracles, saying that out of rock water gushed forth, for such miracles and statements may be denied and refused by those who hear them. The deeds of Moses are conclusive evidences of His Prophethood. If a man be fair, unbiased and willing to investigate reality, he will undoubtedly testify to the fact that Moses was, verily, a man of God and a great Personage. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 363)

July 19, 2010

Socrates, Hippocrates and other Greek philosophers visited Palestine and acquired wisdom from the Jewish prophets

This unique Personage [Moses], single and alone, rescued the children of Israel from bondage through the power of religious training and discipline. He led them to the Holy Land and founded there a great civilization which has become permanent and renowned and under which these people attained the highest degree of honor and glory. He freed them from bondage and captivity. He imbued them with qualities of progressiveness and capability. They proved to be a civilizing people with instincts toward education and scholastic attainment. Their philosophy became renowned; their industries were celebrated throughout the nations. In all lines of advancement which characterize a progressive people they achieved distinction. In the splendor of the reign of Solomon their sciences and arts advanced to such a degree that even the Greek philosophers journeyed to Jerusalem to sit at the feet of the Hebrew sages and acquire the basis of Israelitish law. According to eastern history this is an established fact. Even Socrates visited the Jewish doctors in the Holy Land, consorting with them and discussing the principles and basis of their religious belief. After his return to Greece he formulated his philosophical teaching of divine unity and advanced his belief in the immortality of the spirit beyond the dissolution of the body. Without doubt, Socrates absorbed these verities from the wise men of the Jews with whom he came in contact. Hippocrates and other philosophers of the Greeks likewise visited Palestine and acquired wisdom from the Jewish prophets, studying the basis of ethics and morality, returning to their country with contributions which have made Greece famous. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 361-369)

July 14, 2010

“The Báb wrote a letter containing three hundred and sixty derivatives of the root Baha” – Baha’u’llah’s name

The Báb announced that the greater Manifestation would take place after Him and called the Promised One "Him Whom God shall make manifest," saying that nine years later the reality of His own mission would become apparent. In His writings He stated that in the ninth year this expected One would be known; in the ninth year they would attain to all glory and felicity; in the ninth year they would advance rapidly. Between Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb there was communication privately. The Báb wrote a letter containing three hundred and sixty derivatives of the root Baha. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 24)

July 6, 2010

Some religious references to the city of 'Akka

'Akká had achieved fame more than once in its long history. It had refused to bow to mighty conquerors. Prophets of Israel as well as the Prophet of Arabia had alluded to it in terms that exalted it above other towns and cities of glittering splendour. Hosea had said that 'Akká was 'a door of hope'. Ezekiel had referred to it as 'the gate that looketh toward the east' to which 'the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east' It was Ptolemais in the days when Jesus walked the Mediterranean shore. And Muhammad had said: 'Blessed the man that hath visited 'Akká, and blessed he that hath visited the visitor of 'Akká . . . A month in 'Akká is better than a thousand years elsewhere.' (Balyuzi, ‘Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant’, p. 25; citations from God Passes By, p. 187. See also Hosea ii. I5, and Ezekiel xliii. I-2. Hosea refers to it as ‘the valley of Achor’.)

June 22, 2010

Purpose of Bahá'í Administration

As the administrative work of the Cause steadily expands, as its various branches grow in importance and number, it is absolutely necessary that we bear in mind this fundamental fact that all these administrative activities, however harmoniously and efficiently conducted, are but means to an end, and should be regarded as direct instruments for the propagation of the Bahá'í Faith. Let us take heed lest in our great concern for the perfection of the administrative machinery of the Cause, we lose sight of the Divine Purpose for which it has been created. Let us be on our guard lest the growing demand for specialization in the administrative functions of the Cause detain us from joining the ranks of those who in the forefront of battle are gloriously engaged in summoning the multitude to this New Day of God. This indeed should be our primary concern; this is our sacred obligation, our vital and urgent need. Let this cardinal principle be ever borne in mind, for it is the mainspring of all future activities, the remover of every embarrassing obstacle, the fulfillment of our Master's dearest wish.
(Letter written by Shoghi Effendi dated January 10, 1926 published in Baha'i Administration, p. 102)

June 16, 2010

Compiling about 12000 prophecies and traditions pertaining to the advent of the long awaited Promised One

Before the Advent of the Bab in 1844, “the eminent scholar, Mirza Ahmad-i-Azghandi, the most learned, the wisest and the most outstanding among the ulamas of Khurasan”, who later became an ardent believer, “… in anticipation of the advent of the promised Qá'im, had compiled above twelve thousand traditions and prophecies concerning the time and character of the expected Revelation, had circulated them among His fellow-disciples, and had encouraged them to quote them extensively to all congregations and in all meetings.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 12)

June 11, 2010

Shoghi Effendi was more akin physically to his great-grandfather, Bahá'u'lláh

Fine-boned, even as a mature man, shorter than his grandfather had been, Shoghi Effendi was more akin physically to his great-grandfather, Bahá'u'lláh. He told me himself that 'Abdu'l-Bahá's sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf, would sometimes take his hand in hers and say "These are like the hands of my father". They were what I call intellectual hands, more square than tapering, strong, nervous, the veins standing out, very expressive in their gestures, very assured in their motions. (Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 6)

June 9, 2010

How humanity benefits from the Manifestations of God …

The Holy Manifestations of God come into the world in order to effect the disappearance of the physical, the animal, dark aspect of man, so that the darkness in him may be dispelled, his imperfections be eradicated, his spiritual, heavenly phase may become manifest, his God like aspect may become paramount and his perfections might become visible, his innate great power may become known, and that all the virtues of the world of humanity potential within him may come to life. Thus these Holy Manifestations of God are the educators and trainers of the world of existence and they are the teachers of the world of humanity.
These Holy Manifestations of God liberate men from the world of darkness and nature. They deliver him from gloom, from error, from hideousness, from ignorance, from imperfections, and likewise from all the evil qualities. Then they cause him to be clad in the garment of perfection and high virtues. Men are ignorant; the Manifestations of God make them wise. They are animalistic; the Manifestations make them human. They are ferocious; the Manifestations cause them to become kingdoms of light. They are unjust; the Manifestations cause them to be just. Man is selfish; they cause him to be severed from self and desire. Men are haughty; the Manifestations cause them to become meek and amiable. They are earthly; the Manifestations cause them to be heavenly. They are material; They cause them to become divine. They are immature children; the Manifestations cause them to become mature. Men are poor; They cause them to become wealthy. They are base; they cause them to become noble. Men are mean, and They cause them to become lofty.

To be brief, these Holy Manifestations liberate the world of humanity from the imperfections which beset it and cause men to appear in the garment of heavenly perfections. Were it not for the coming of these Holy Manifestations of God, all men would be found on the plane of the animal. They would be similar to ignorant individuals who have never seen a school, who have never had a trainer. For such individuals will undoubtedly remain ignorant. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from an address given at the Theosophical Society, 2228 Broadway, New York City, December 4, 1912; Star of the West, vol. VII, no. 8, August 1, 1916)

June 8, 2010

One’s spiritual progress implies subordinating ego to the enlightened soul

… the complete and entire elimination of the ego would imply perfection -- which man can never completely attain -- but the ego can and should be ever-increasingly subordinated to the enlightened soul of man. This is what spiritual progress implies. (From a letter dated 14 December 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 11)

June 1, 2010

The impact of the Advent of the Bab on many European writers in late 19th century

Writing in the American periodical Forum in 1925, the French literary critic Jules Bois remembered the extraordinary impact which the story of the Bab continued to have on educated opinion in Europe as the nineteenth century closed:

“All Europe was stirred to pity and indignation .... Among the litterateurs of my generation, in the Paris of 1890, the martyrdom of the Bab was still as fresh a topic as had been the first news of His death [in 1850]. We wrote poems about Him. Sarah Bernhardt entreated Catulle Mendes for a play on the theme of this historic tragedy.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56 and The Baha'i World, vol. 9, 1940-1944, p. 588.)

Writers as-diverse as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, Edward Granville Browne, Ernest Renan, Aleksandr Tumanskiy, A.L.M. Nicolas, Viktor Rosen, Clement Huart, George Curzon, Matthew Arnold, and Leo Tolstoy were affected by the spiritual drama that had unfolded in Persia during the middle years of the nineteenth century. (Douglas Martin, The Mission of the Bab: Retrospective, 1944-1994, The Baha’i World, 1994-1995)

“A Russian poetess, member of the Philosophic, Oriental and Bibliological Societies of St. Petersburg, published in 1903 a drama entitled "The Báb," which a year later was played in one of the principal theatres of that city, was subsequently given publicity in London, was translated into French in Paris, and into German by the poet Fiedler, was presented again, soon after the Russian Revolution, in the Folk Theatre in Leningrad, and succeeded in arousing the genuine sympathy and interest of the renowned Tolstoy, whose eulogy of the poem was later published in the Russian press.” (Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, p. 56)

May 26, 2010

Baha’u’llah’s Seals

Apart from one seal which bore His name, Husayn-'Ali, Bahá'u'lláh had altogether ten seals which were made at different times during His ministry. Only one of them bears the inscription 'Bahá'u'lláh'. A few contain passages which describe Him as a Prisoner and the One Whom the world has wronged. Others declare in majestic language and unmistakable terms His undisputed authority, His transcendent majesty and His glorious station as the Supreme Manifestation of God and His Vicegerent on this earth. (Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Baha'u'llah v 1, p. 24) To see pictures of these seals please visit Baha’i Sacred Relics

May 19, 2010

The Bab Revealed Nine Commentaries on the Whole of the Qur’an While Incarcerated in Mah-Ku for Nine Months

Shaykh Hasan-i-Zunuzi who, as one of the secretaries of the Bab, was engaged in transcribing the verses which He dictated to His amanuensis while imprisoned in Mah-ku for nine months, related the following fascinating account to Nabil, the author of the Dawn-Breakers:

"When subsequently He was incarcerated in the fortress of Mah-Ku, in the province of Adhirbayjan, I was engaged in transcribing the verses which He dictated to His amanuensis. Every night, for a period of nine months, during which He was a prisoner in that fort, He revealed, after He had offered His evening prayer, a commentary on a juz' [a juz' is one-thirtieth of the Qur'án] of the Qur'án. At the end of each month a commentary on the whole of that sacred Book was thus completed. During His incarceration in Mah-Ku, nine commentaries on the whole of the Qur'án had been revealed by Him. The texts of these commentaries were entrusted, in Tabriz, to the keeping of a certain Siyyid Ibrahim-i-Khalil, who was instructed to conceal them until the time for their publication might arrive. Their fate is unknown until now.”

"In connection with one of these commentaries, the Báb one day asked me: 'Which do you prefer, this commentary which I have revealed, or the Ahsanu'l-Qisas, My previous commentary on the Surih of Joseph? Which of the two is superior, in your estimation?' 'To me,' I replied, 'the Ahsanu'l-Qisas seems to be endowed with greater power and charm.' He smiled at my observation and said: 'You are as yet unfamiliar with the tone and tenor of this later commentary. The truths enshrined in this will more speedily and effectively enable the seeker to attain the object of his quest.'” (The Dawn-Breakers, Nabil's Narrative of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Revelation,Translated and Edited by Shoghi Effendi p. 26)

May 16, 2010

Percentage of Women on NSA's by Continent -- as of 1993

Percentage of women on National Spiritual Assemblies by continent -- as of 1993 (The Baha'i world, 1992-1993)

May 12, 2010

Advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha to keep in mind when one feels he/she is “in the right in a case in dispute, and his minority prevents him from establishing this rightful matter”

Blessed are they who are the means of making unity among the friends, and pity on those who in the right or wrong are the cause of discord. For instance: When one is in the right in a case in dispute, and his minority prevents him from establishing this rightful matter, instead of agitating the subject, if he will humbly submit to sacrifice his position for the sake of unity and peace, God will accept that sacrifice and ere long the rightful matter will be established without any further dispute, by the Divine assistance; whereas without such sacrifice and submissiveness great harm might ensue.

The friends must be prepared to efface themselves at all times. Seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Vol. VI, no. 6, June 24, 1915)

May 10, 2010

Tests are means of ripening one’s spirit

In this day every one must be tested, as the time of the "chosen ones" to prove their worth is indeed very short. The day of attainment is drawing to a close for them. The "first fruits" must be ripened in spirit, mellowed in love, and consumed by their self-sacrifice and severance. None other are acceptable as first fruits and all who fail to attain to the standard through the tests, are relegated to the "many who are called."

The more one is severed from the world, from desires, from human affairs and conditions, the more impervious does one become to the tests of God. Tests are a means by which a soul is measured as to its fitness, and proven out by its own acts. God knows its fitness beforehand, and also its unpreparedness, but man, with an ego, would not believe himself unfit unless proofs were given him. Consequently, his susceptibility to evil is proven to him when he falls into the tests, and the tests are continued until the soul realizes its own unfitness, then remorse and regret tend to root out the weakness.

The same test comes again in greater degree, until it is shown that a former weakness has become a strength, and the power to overcome evil has been established. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, Star of the West, Vol. VI, no. 6, June 24, 1915)

April 25, 2010

How to be a friend to many people

"One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise. When this is done, one can be a friend to the whole human race. If, however, we look at people from the standpoint of their faults, then being a friend to them is a formidable task." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 169)

April 24, 2010

We should close our eyes to “the deficiencies of other souls”

"Let your thoughts dwell on your own spiritual development, and close your eyes to the deficiencies of other souls. Act ye in such wise, showing forth pure and goodly deeds, and modesty and humility, that ye will cause others to be awakened." (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 203)

April 23, 2010

Persecution in the West

". . . the friends in the West will unquestionably have their share of the calamities befalling the friends in the East. It is inevitable that, walking the pathway of Baha’u’llah, they too will become targets for persecution by the oppressors.” ('AbdullBaha , Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu'l-Baha, p. 238)

"It was not mere physical torture that the friends in Persia had to endure but also moral persecution for they were cursed and vilified by all the people, especially when they ceased to defend themselves.. . the Master used to say sometimes that the western friends will be severely persecuted but theirs will be primarily moral. . .” (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, October 22, 1 930; Unfolding Destiny, p. 425)

April 17, 2010

Stamp with a Picture of Baha'i Temple in Western Samoa

First Day Cover of a commemorative stamp issued by the Government of Western Samoa for Christmas 1988. There are four stamps in this series, the $2.00 stamp having the picture of the House of Worship in Apia (The Baha'i World 1986-1992)

April 15, 2010

The Master Defines Attributes of the Sincere and the Truthful

Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness; that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha, that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourself, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 14)

April 8, 2010

Advise from ‘Abdu’l-Baha how a Baha’i should view other Baha’is

… you must be united among yourselves and you must not be irritated by one another. Your eyes must be turned always to the kingdom of God and not to the world of man. You must love His creation for His sake and not for your own. When you love one another for the sake of God you shall never be perturbed. No human being is perfect, every person has some flaw. If you look to your fellowman you will always be upset; but if you look to God it shall not be so, because the world of God is a world of perfection and endless mercy; therefore, you will love and show kindness to all for His sake. You must not look to the faults of others; you must look with the eye of forgiveness and pardon. The eye that regards faults sees nothing but faults and the eye that overlooks faults is fixed on the Creator of the souls. It is He Who has created all, has nurtured all, has endowed all with life and spirit and has given to all eyes and ears. Thus all are the signs of His power and for His sake we must love all, and show kindness to all, assist the poor, render help to the weak, heal the sick and educate the ignorant. (An excerpt from an address by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in a gathering of Baha’is in Chicago, May 5th, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary, p. 81)

April 6, 2010

Consultation is no easy skill to learn

Consultation is no easy skill to learn, requiring as it does the subjugation of all egotism and unruly passions, the cultivation of frankness and freedom of thought as well as courtesy, openness of mind, and wholehearted acquiescence in a majority decision. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p.97)

April 4, 2010

Prayer for Employment?

O God! O God! Cause me to drink from the cup of Thy bestowal. Illumine my face with the light of guidance. Make me firm in faithfulness and steadfastness in Thine Ancient Covenant. Suffer me to become one of Thy sincere servants. Open before my face the doors of prosperity. Prepare for me the means of livelihood. Give me my bread through channels over which I have no control, Thy heavenly treasures. Grant me the power to turn my face toward Thy merciful Countenance, to be faithful to Thy Cause.

O Thou Clement and Compassionate One! Verily, Thou art gracious to those who are firm and steadfast in Thy strong and impregnable Covenant. Praise be to God, the Lord of the worlds!
- 'Abdu'l-Baha (Star of the West, vol. 14, no. 6, Sept. 1923)

March 31, 2010

Significance of the Remains and Relics of the Manifestations of God

There is no special physical significance in the remains of the Prophets or relics of Their Persons. But there is a profound spiritual significance in the sense that Their dust was the physical mirror of the greatness of God. In other words we know God through His Prophets, Who have bodies; these bodies -- Their very dust -- are precious through association. It is natural for people to be touched by a lock of hair or some token of one they loved; how much more should we treasure and feel moved by a relic of the Beloved of God? …

The atoms of the Prophets are just atoms, like all others, but the association of this great spiritual power with them leaves in the place they are laid to rest a spiritual atmosphere, if one can use this expression. They are, no doubt, endowed with a tremendous spiritual influence and far-reaching power. But the physical character of their atoms are not different from other people's, any more than their bodies and physical functions are different. (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 42)
Some relics of the Bab are shown at the following sites:

March 30, 2010

The Belief in the Possibilities of Miracles

The belief in the possibilities of miracles, on the contrary, implies that God's power is beyond any limitation whatsoever. For it is only logical to believe that the Creator, Who is the sole Author of all the laws operating in the universe, is above them and can, therefore, if He deems it necessary, alter them at His Own Will. We, as humans, cannot possibly attempt to read His Mind, and to fully grasp His Wisdom. Mystery is therefore an inseparable part of true religion, and as such, should be recognized by the believers." (From the Guardian to an individual believer, October 1, 1935: Canadian Bahá'í News, February 1968, p. 11; Lights of Guidance, p. 490)

March 24, 2010

What is Religion?

… religion is the channel of love unto all peoples. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 36)

.. religion [is] the guarantor of mankind's great advances, the very means of attaining everlasting life, the fosterer of infinite excellence, the light of both worlds .. ('Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 52)

Religion, moreover, is not a series of beliefs, a set of customs; religion is the teachings of the Lord God, teachings which constitute the very life of humankind, which urge high thoughts upon the mind, refine the character, and lay the groundwork for man's everlasting honour. (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 52)

… by religion is meant that which is ascertained by investigation and not that which is based on mere imitation, the foundations of Divine Religions and not human imitations. (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 303)

March 18, 2010

Understanding the station and functions of the Guardian – by Ruhiyyih Khanum

I doubt if there is a Baha'i living who has the proper concept of what the station and functions of our Guardian are. We are, for one type of mentality, too close to 'Abdu'l-Baha and for another type, not yet far enough from Him; sufficient historical perspective has not yet been gained, to see the true implications of the Guardianship. There are those who confuse the powers of the Guardian with those of the Manifestation of God, expecting him to be all-knowing. There are others who cannot reconcile themselves to the thought of all the power, the supreme power, vested in him. Those who endow him with an omnipresent knowledge are over-exaggerating, which is not rendering any service to one who seeks to properly grasp his function and position in the Baha'i Dispensation. On the other hand many people, preponderatingly in the West, where there is such an abnormal attitude towards personality, where there is such a jealousy and fear of leadership, greatly underrate the Guardianship's prerogatives which are in no way personal but rather functional. The first type demands that the Guardian pass on the correctness of a new astrophysical theory or foretell the date of the end of Indian-Pakistan troubles; the second type, reading the provisions of the Master's Will, seeing the unbelievable authority vested in the Guardianship, thinks of it in terms of a man, a leader, who will dispose of means, and endowed with functions no man has ever before had, and is consequently afraid of one human being exercising so much power and tries to minimize 'Abdu'l-Baha's statements. Both are utterly wrong. The Guardian is not the Manifestation of God who was the Heavenly Balance in which any knowledge could be weighed. Unless there is something in the Teachings to indicate an answer -- maybe something only a Guardian could detect or interpret, but something -- he will not pass on matters beyond his ken. Nor does he claim to know the end from the beginning. So much for those who exaggerate in one direction.

March 17, 2010

Why did Baha’u’llah bear such incredible ordeals, calamities and sorrows?

... the Blessed Perfection bore all these ordeals and calamities in order that our hearts might become enkindled and radiant, our spirits be glorified, our faults become virtues, our ignorance be transformed into knowledge; in order that we might attain the real fruits of humanity and acquire heavenly graces; in order that, although pilgrims upon earth, we should travel the road of the heavenly Kingdom, and, although needy and poor, we might receive the treasures of eternal life. For this has He borne these difficulties and sorrows. (Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 28)

March 14, 2010

Religious Temples Should be Viewed as Symbols of the Divine Uniting Force

Among the institutes of the Holy Books is that of the foundation of places of worship. That is to say, an edifice or temple is to be built in order that humanity might find a place of meeting, and this is to be conducive to unity and fellowship among them. The real temple is the very Word of God; for to it all humanity must turn, and it is the center of unity for all mankind. It is the collective center, the cause of accord and communion of hearts, the sign of the solidarity of the human race, the source of eternal life. Temples are the symbols of the divine uniting force so that when the people gather there in the House of God they may recall the fact that the law has been revealed for them and that the law is to unite them. They will realize that just as this temple was founded for the unification of mankind, the law preceding and creating it came forth in the manifest Word. Jesus Christ, addressing Peter, said, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church." This utterance was indicative of the faith of Peter, signifying: This faith of thine, O Peter, is the very cause and message of unity to the nations; it shall be the bond of union between the hearts of men and the foundation of the oneness of the world of humanity.

March 12, 2010

Understanding how one’s spirit functions, becomes pure and finds eternal life

The spirit acts in two ways: One way is by instruments; that is, it sees with the eyes, it hears with the ears and speaks with the tongue. These instruments work by the spirit, which is their motor; though its senses are manifested by the body, they come from the faculty of the spirit. The other way is that of being and acting without instruments; as in dreams and visions, it sees without eyes, hears without ears, speaks without the tongue, walks without feet. All the faculties of the spirit are clear and distinct in the world of visions. Hence it is evident that the spirit acts in two ways: First, by the instruments of the body; second, without the instruments of the body. …

The body is like the crystal and the spirit is like the light. Though the crystal be extremely transparent, its brilliancy and splendor belong to the brightness of the light. To be luminous, the light does not need the crystal, but the crystal to be bright needs the light. Even so the spirit does not live by the body, but the body lives by the spirit.

March 10, 2010

How to attract people to the Faith

"In my talks with the reverend doctors of religion and men of the peace societies I have spoken the Glad-tidings of Baha’u’llah, but always according to their varying need and capacity. As capacities differ, the purpose must be to satisfy the degree of hunger, destroy all possible antagonism and establish a point of agreement. We cannot induce men to lay down their arms by fighting with them. War intensifies the spirit of strife. War begets war. We are peacemakers, not destroyers of peace. Therefore ‘Abdu’l-Baha finds the note of harmony which vibrates in every human heart. This is our subtle basis. Build upon it. Follow no other method. Talk about things upon which we agree and say nothing about things upon which we differ. We must disorganize humanism in order to construct a spiritual edifice in the world of humanity. This edifice is heavenly but its foundations are planted in the unity of human hearts." (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, from notes of Howard MacNutt, Star of the West, vol. IV, no. 1, 1913)

March 8, 2010

Wisdom of Fasting - from a table talk by 'Abdu'l-Baha

Question: What Divine wisdom is there in fasting?

Answer: The Divine wisdom in fasting is manifold. Among them is this: As during those days [i.e., the period of fasting which the followers afterward observe] the Manifestation of the Sun of Reality, through Divine inspiration, is engaged in the descent [revealing] of Verses, the instituting of Divine Law and the arrangement of teachings, through excessive occupation and intense attraction there remains no condition or time for eating and drinking. For example, when his holiness Moses went to Mount Tur (Sinai) and there engaged in instituting thee Law of God, he fasted forty days. For the purpose of awakening and admonishing the people of Israel, fasting was enjoined upon them.

Likewise, his holiness Christ, in the beginning of instituting the Spiritual Law, the systematizing of the teachings and the arrangement of counsels, for forty days abstained from eating and drinking. In the beginning the disciples and Christians fasted. Later the assemblages of the chief Christians changed fasting into lenten observances.

March 3, 2010

Our Love and Interest for Everyone Should be Truly Universal

I wish you to study the works of the Blessed Beauty and to live according to His teaching. The basis of the teaching of Baha’u’llah is as follows: Bear in your heart great love to all races on earth, to the end that unity may be established between them. Take an interest in everyone and find out how you can help them, so that all may see that your love is truly universal. Do the will of God, do not only speak about it; the elect of God do this. People do much speaking to advance their own glory and to make themselves appear superior to their neighbors. But if you do the will of God and do not blazon it abroad, then you will change the whole world. They who do most speak least.

Man must be ever thinking of drawing nearer to God…

I hope you will be able to make all hearts pure and tender, all efforts sincere, so that everyone may work for the good of humanity. This is my prayer and desire.
(From a talk given by ‘Abdu’l-Baha in Paris, France, October 17, 1911; Star of the West, vol. II, no. 6)

February 25, 2010

How to subdue one's ego ..

The ego is the animal in us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By obeying laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and pray and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people "saints" who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their egos. (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian in Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)

February 24, 2010

Did Manifestations of God Perform Miracles?

Thus nations and states with all their strength could not resist Him [Baha’u’llah]. Verily, single and alone, imprisoned and oppressed, He accomplished whatever He desired.

I do not wish to mention the miracles of Bahá'u'lláh, for it may perhaps be said that these are traditions, liable both to truth and to error, like the accounts of the miracles of Christ in the Gospel, which come to us from the apostles, and not from anyone else, and are denied by the Jews. Though if I wish to mention the supernatural acts of Bahá'u'lláh, they are numerous; they are acknowledged in the Orient, and even by some non-Bahá'ís. But these narratives are not decisive proofs and evidences to all; the hearer might perhaps say that this account may not be in accordance with what occurred, for it is known that other sects recount miracles performed by their founders. For instance, the followers of Brahmanism relate miracles. From what evidence may we know that those are false and that these are true? If these are fables, the others also are fables; if these are generally accepted, so also the others are generally accepted. Consequently, these accounts are not satisfactory proofs. Yes, miracles are proofs for the eyewitness only, and even he may regard them not as a miracle but as an enchantment. Extraordinary feats have also been related of some conjurors.

February 23, 2010

Passages from the Baha’i Scriptures Inscribed Over the Nine Entrances of the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Illinois, USA.

The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.

The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me.

My love is My stronghold; he that entereth therein is safe and secure.

Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.

Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent.

I have made death a messenger of joy to thee; wherefore dost thou grieve.

Make mention of Me on My earth, that in My heaven, I may remember thee.

O rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust.

The source of all learning is the knowledge of God, exalted be His glory!
(The Baha’i Faith 1844-1963, Statistical and Comparative, Compiled by the Hands of the Cause Residing in the Holy Land)

February 22, 2010

Our Relation to God and His Manifestation

The connection between God and the creatures is that of the creator to the creation; it is like the connection between the sun and the dark bodies of contingent beings, and is the connection between the maker and the things that he has made. The sun in its own essence is independent of the bodies which it lights; for its light is in itself, and is free and independent of the terrestrial globe; so the earth is under the influence of the sun and receives its light, whereas the sun and its rays are entirely independent of the earth. But if there were no sun, the earth and all earthly beings could not exist.
The dependence through the creatures upon God is a dependence of emanation: that is to say, creatures emanate from God, they do not manifest Him. The relation is that of emanation and not that of manifestation. The light of the sun emanates from the sun, it does not manifest it. The appearance through emanation is like the appearance of the rays from the luminary of the horizons of the world: that is to say, the holy essence of the Sun of Truth is not divided, and does not descend to the condition of the creatures. In the same way, the globe of the sun does not become divided and does not descend to the earth: no, the rays of the sun, which are its bounty, emanate from it, and illumine the dark bodies.

February 19, 2010

Spiritual Virtues Needed for the Understanding and Comprehension of the Word of God

The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit. (Baha’u’llah, the Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 211)

February 18, 2010

Attitude to have when explaining something ..

In accordance with the divine teachings in this glorious dispensation we should not belittle anyone and call him ignorant, saying: 'You know not, but I know’. Rather, we should look upon others with respect, and when attempting to explain and demonstrate, we should speak as if we are investigating the truth, saying: 'Here these things are before us. Let us investigate to determine where and in what form the truth can be found.’ (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, p. 30)

February 16, 2010

We Have No Priests in the Baha’i Faith

The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Baha’u’llah has enjoined upon the Baha'is the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religion is the service every single Baha'i is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, and gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life -- the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Benelux Countries, July 5, 1957; The Individual and Teaching compilation, Page 39)

February 15, 2010

The Cause Has the Spiritual Power to Re-Create Us

The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character. However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Baha’u’llah to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will-power in mastering ourselves. (From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer dated 27 January, 1945 in Compilation: Excellence in All Things, p. 16)

February 11, 2010

Purpose of this life

In considering the effect of obedience to the laws (of Bahá'u'lláh) on individual lives, one must remember that the purpose of this life is to prepare the soul for the next. Here one must learn to control and direct, one's animal impulses, not to be a slave to them. Life in this world is a succession of tests and achievements, of falling short and of making new spiritual advances. Sometimes the course may seem very hard, but one can witness, again and again, that the soul who steadfastly obeys the law of Bahá'u'lláh, however hard it may seem, grows spiritually, while the one who compromises with the law for the sake of his own apparent happiness is seen to have been following a chimera: he does not attain the happiness he sought, he retards his spiritual advance and often brings new problems upon himself. (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 232)

February 10, 2010

The meaning of the Word of God can never be exhausted

“Know assuredly that just as thou firmly believest that the Word of God, exalted be His glory, endureth for ever, thou must, likewise, believe with undoubting faith that its meaning can never be exhausted. They who are its appointed interpreters, they whose hearts are the repositories of its secrets, are, however, the only ones who can comprehend its manifold wisdom.”  (Baha'u’llah, Gleanings LXXXIX)

February 8, 2010

Howard Colby Ives' explanation of the secret of power

"I think it is something like this … The Will of God and the will of individual man . . . may, nay must, become identified, become identical. . . . ‘Abdu'l-Baha speaks of losing the self in the Self of God. We must accustom ourselves to the actual doing of this. . . . We cannot think of God's Will as a passive thing any more than we can think of our own will as passive, inert. God's Will is evidenced in nature, in power, in action. To identify our will with His Will is partake of His activity, His Power, His effectiveness. To submit my will to His Will then, carries an implication of marching – wearing -- overcoming. But not marching alone; we march in step with Him. We throw our feeble wills in with His and so become all-conquering as He says we shall. How can the result be other than victory?" (Howard Colby Ives, The Baha’i World 1940-1944)

February 7, 2010

God, His Manifestations and the “Primal Will of God” – as explained by the Bab

If thou art sailing upon the sea of God's Names, which are reflected in all things, know thou that He is exalted and sanctified from being known through His creatures, or being described by His servants. Everything thou beholdest hath been called into being through the operation of His Will. How can such a created thing, therefore, be indicative of His essential oneness? God's existence in itself testifieth to His Own oneness, while every created thing, by its very nature, beareth evidence that it hath been fashioned by God. Such is the proof of consummate wisdom in the estimation of those who sail the ocean of divine Truth.

If, however, thou art sailing upon the sea of creation, know thou that the First Remembrance, which is the Primal Will of God, may be likened unto the sun. God hath created Him through the potency of His might, and He hath, from the beginning that hath no beginning, caused Him to be manifested in every Dispensation through the compelling power of His behest, and God will, to the end that knoweth no end, continue to manifest Him according to the good-pleasure of His invincible Purpose.

February 4, 2010

How to view the understanding of other Baha’is with respect to the Faith

A clear distinction is made in our Faith between authoritative interpretation and the interpretation or understanding that each individual arrives at for himself from his study of, its teachings. While the former is confined to the Guardian, the latter, according to the guidance given to us by the Guardian himself, should by no means be suppressed. In fact such individual interpretation is considered the fruit of man's rational power and conducive to a better understanding of the teachings, provided that no disputes or arguments arise among the friends and - the individual himself understands and makes it clear that his views are merely his own. Individual interpretations continually change as one grows in comprehension of the teachings. (The Universal House of Justice, Wellsprings of Guidance, pp .88-89)