November 27, 2011

Question: Having lived in the spiritual center can you give us a clear definition of spirituality? – Answer by Ruhiyyih Khanum, given during the question and answer portion of a talk on June 5, 1960 to the Baha’is of New York

Well, we of the West, have an image of spirituality, and mystic and metaphysical phenomena. I don’t know. You see, I wasn’t there in the days of the Master or Baha’u’llah. I was only there in the days of the Guardian…which of course itself was a bounty beyond words. All I know is that Shoghi Effendi’s spirituality came out in action. Now when I was a girl I was very dreamy. I use to love to write poetry and meditate and sit on the fence and look at the moon and think how beautiful everything was and go into all of these abstractions. I loved them. And my whole mind and temperament lay along those lines; and I found that wasn’t the least interesting to Shoghi Effendi, that he’d never even go on subjects like that. [Audience laughs.] He was too busy. All he wanted was work. Because he had a plan to accomplish and he had to get it done. And I learned from Shoghi Effendi how to work. I must have had perhaps some initial capacity for work but believe me he changed me very, very deeply. And I got away from all of that. And I, I don’t know, to me the essence of spirituality…perhaps spirituality can best be expressed at different times in different ways. But surely the most spiritual thing is to do what God wants you to. Wouldn’t you think that that was the best spiritual answer? Wouldn’t you think that perhaps you were the most spiritual when you were doing the most of what God desired of you? And there’s no mystery of what Shoghi Effendi—the sign of God—desired of us. He wanted us to go ahead and conquer this world spiritually and bring it to a certain point in view of the situation humanity finds itself in. And I believe that every time that we do that we are more spiritual and attracting to ourselves greater blessings.

We have had, through this change in Haifa, and the fact that Mr. Ferraby has come and Mrs. Ferraby has come with John Ferraby; and Faizi, … Gloria Faizi has come to join [A.Q.] Faizi with the children. They saw the separation was going to be too long, they had to change the schools, it was very difficult for them cause the children were happy in their school but they have come now to Haifa to live and, … who is the third person? Doris has come. Now some of these Hands’ wives who have arrived recently have said, “Oh, we long so to serve the Cause here. What can we do? In what way can we be of use?” And of course they are all people who are very used to serving wherever they were before. And I said, “Well, I’m sorry. There isn’t that much purely spiritual labor to share around here; but it you want to be of use there’s a million things you can do physically. We need people to guide at the Shrine. We need people to help dust the Archives. We need people to do all kinds of chores here. And you can play a part if you will accept to do those things.” And, needless to say, they’ve been very happy to do them. So you see, to me, it’s in fulfilling the need is the spiritual service. Just spirituality as an abstraction hasn’t got much value. But if you will turn that spirituality into doing something and accomplishing something there you really have…there I think you are fulfilling your destiny and you’re getting more spiritual all the time.