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)