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)