December 31, 2011

Baha’u’llah explains what the children should be taught first

That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds... parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please. (Baha’u’llah, The Compilation of Compilations’, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

December 27, 2011

‘Abdu’l-Baha reminds us to “remember these things” in our hearts before entering a 19-Day Feast – and, a prayer for divine assistance

You must continue to keep the Nineteen Day Feast. It is very important; it is very good. But when you present yourselves in the meetings, before entering them, free yourselves from all that you have in your heart, free your thoughts and your minds from all else save God, and speak to your heart. That all may make this a gathering of love, make it the cause of illumination, make it a gathering of attraction of the hearts, surround this gathering with the Lights of the Supreme Concourse, so that you may be gathered together with the utmost love.

O God! Dispel all those elements which are the cause of discord, and prepare for us all those things which are the cause of unity and accord! O God! Descend upon us Heavenly Fragrance and change this gathering into a gathering of Heaven! Grant to us every benefit and every food. Prepare for us the Food of Love! Give to us the Food of Knowledge! Bestow upon us the Food of Heavenly Illumination!

In your hearts remember these things, and then enter the Unity Feast. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Compilation of Compilations vol. I, p. 429)

December 26, 2011

Points to keep in mind concerning eating meat – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Regarding the eating of animal flesh and abstinence therefrom, know thou of a certainty that, in the beginning of creation, God determined the food of every living being, and to eat contrary to that determination is not approved. For instance, beasts of prey, such as the wolf, lion and leopard, are endowed with ferocious, tearing instruments, such as hooked talons and claws. From this it is evident that the food of such beasts is meat. If they were to attempt to graze, their teeth would not cut the grass, neither could they chew the cud, for they do not have molars. Likewise, God hath given to the four-footed grazing animals such teeth as reap the grass like a sickle, and from this we understand that the food of these species of animal is vegetable. They cannot chase and hunt down other animals. The falcon hath a hooked beak and sharp talons; the hooked beak preventeth him from grazing, therefore his food also is meat.

But now coming to man, we see he hath neither hooked teeth nor sharp nails or claws, nor teeth like iron sickles. From this it becometh evident and manifest that the food of man is cereals and fruit. Some of the teeth of man are like millstones to grind the grain, and some are sharp to cut the fruit. Therefore he is not in need of meat, nor is he obliged to eat it. Even without eating meat he would live with the utmost vigour and energy. For example, the community of the Brahmins in India do not eat meat; notwithstanding this they are not inferior to other nations in strength, power, vigour, outward senses or intellectual virtues. Truly, the killing of animals and the eating of their meat is somewhat contrary to pity and compassion, and if one can content oneself with cereals, fruit, oil and nuts, such as pistachios, almonds and so on, it would undoubtedly be better and more pleasing. ('Abdu'l-Bahá, from a Tablet; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Some Aspects of Heath, Healing, Nutrition and Related Matters)

December 21, 2011

The extent of “humility and submissiveness” that we should strive for -- Baha'u'llah explains

They who are the beloved of God, in whatever place they gather and whomsoever they may meet, must evince, in their attitude towards God, and in the manner of their celebration of His praise and glory, such humility and submissiveness that every atom of the dust beneath their feet may attest the depth of their devotion. The conversation carried by these holy souls should be informed with such power that these same atoms of dust will be thrilled by its influence. They should conduct themselves in such manner that the earth upon which they tread may never be allowed to address to them such words as these: “I am to be preferred above you. For witness, how patient I am in bearing the burden which the husbandman layeth upon me. I am the instrument that continually imparteth unto all beings the blessings with which He Who is the Source of all grace hath entrusted me. Notwithstanding the honor conferred upon me, and the unnumbered evidences of my wealth - a wealth that supplieth the needs of all creation - behold the measure of my humility, witness with what absolute submissiveness I allow myself to be trodden beneath the feet of men....” (Baha’u’llah,’Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh’, Compilation on ‘Baha’i Meetigs’, compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice)

December 20, 2011

The spiritual condition of the Baha'i “teacher” affects the one being taught

The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others. Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others! (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Bahá'ís’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Guidelines for Teaching)

December 19, 2011

Tea House and Fellowship Houses, Green Acre, 1924

Tea House, Green Acre, Maine, USA, 1924
Fellowship House, Green Acre, Maine, USA, 1924

December 12, 2011

God and His exalted Station – insights gleaned from a prayer by the Báb

• God’s “grace encompasseth all”
• “From everlasting” God has been “the Source of indomitable strength and shall remain so unto everlasting”
• To God belongs “All the kingdoms of heaven and earth and whatever is between them”.
• To God belongs “All the treasures of earth and heaven and everything between them”
• God holds “in His grasp the keys of heaven and earth and of everything between them”
• In truth, God “keepeth watch over all things”
• God is:
      o “the Powerful, the Almighty”
      o “the Lord of might and power”
      o “the Supreme Protector”
      o “a witness over all things”
      o “the Creator of the heavens and the earth and whatever lieth between them”
      o “the Lord of Reckoning for all that dwell in the heavens and on earth and whatever lieth between them”
      o “swift to reckon”
      o “Immeasurably exalted”
• In the “kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and whatever lieth between them” all “glory and majesty” belong to God
• God creates “whatsoever He willeth by His Word of command ‘Be’, and it is.”
• “the source of dominion” is in the hand of God
• The “power of authority” always belongs to God.
• Through the “potency” of His command, God “maketh victorious whomsoever He pleaseth”.
• God sets “the measure assigned to all who are in the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them”.
• God bestows “gifts” through “the power of His command” and at “His Own pleasure”.
• “Through the power of His hosts of heaven and earth and whatever lieth between them”, God protects “whomsoever among His servants He willeth” (Adapted from a prayer in 'Selections from the Writings of the Báb', pp. 171-172) (To read the actual prayer please visit Insights from Baha’i Prayers)

December 10, 2011

How the Guardian created the whole pattern of the Administrative Order – related by the Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas

The Hand of the Cause Leroy Ioas used to relate that the Guardian had once said to him: “Leroy, did you think that, when I became Guardian I had this whole pattern of the Administrative Order laid out before me and I then began to gradually unfold it to the Bahá’ís?” And Leroy replied that, indeed, that was what he did think. The Guardian replied that it was not at all like that, he just had to take one decision after another. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said he would be guided and he trusted ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. So, when something needed to be decided, Shoghi Effendi, having confidence in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s promise, would decide it. He would know it was right. He would then move on and the next stage would evolve. Moreover, he didn’t hesitate to change his mind occasionally. This is where one has to understand that the Manifestation of God and those that He leaves at the centre of His Faith are sensible people. (Excerpt from a talk given in London by Ian Semple, former member of the Universal House of Justice, 28 January, 2006) (To read the transcript of the entire talk please visit Baha’i Talks, Messages and Articles)

December 2, 2011

At what point in our lives does one receive “eternal life”? -- ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

Thou has asked concerning the spirit and its immortality after its departure. Know thou that at the time of its translation it ascends and ascends until it reaches the presence of God, clothed in a temple (body) which will not become subject to the changes wrought by ages and cycles, nor by the contingencies of the world, nor the emanations thereof.

It will continue to exist through the eternity of the Kingdom of God -- its sovereignty, its dominion, its potency. From it will appear the signs of God and his qualities, the providence of God and his bestowal. Verily the pen is unable to move in a befitting manner in explaining this truth -- its exaltation and loftiness.

The hand of mercy shall cause it to enter into men's minds, though it cannot be grasped through any explanation, nor be described by those means which are available in the world.

Blessed is the spirit which abandons the body, previously sanctified and freed from the doubts of the nations. Verily, it moves in the atmosphere of the will of its Lord, and it enters into the supreme paradise. It is welcomed by the angels of the Most High. It associates with the prophets of God, and his chosen ones, and it converses with them, and relates to them those events which have happened to it in the path of God, the Lord of both worlds.

Were one to become informed of that which is pre ordained for the spirit in the worlds of God, the Lord of the throne and the earth, he would become immediately enkindled with the fire of yearning for this impregnable, exalted, holy, and most glorious state of being.