December 31, 2012

“The greatest attainment in the world of humanity is nearness to God.” -- ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains how a human soul can become nearer to God

Nearness to God is dependent upon purity of the heart and exhilaration of the spirit through the glad tidings of the Kingdom. Consider how a pure, well-polished mirror fully reflects the effulgence of the sun, no matter how distant the sun may be. As soon as the mirror is cleaned and purified, the sun will manifest itself. The more pure and sanctified the heart of man becomes, the nearer it draws to God, and the light of the Sun of Reality is revealed within it. This light sets hearts aglow with the fire of the love of God, opens in them the doors of knowledge and unseals the divine mysteries so that spiritual discoveries are made possible. All the Prophets have drawn near to God through severance. We must emulate those Holy Souls and renounce our own wishes and desires. We must purify ourselves from the mire and soil of earthly contact until our hearts become as mirrors in clearness and the light of the most great guidance reveals itself in them.

Bahá’u’lláh proclaims in the Hidden Words that God inspires His servants and is revealed through them. He says, “Thy heart is My home; sanctify it for My descent. Thy spirit is My place of revelation; cleanse it for My manifestation.” Therefore, we learn that nearness to God is possible through devotion to Him, through entrance into the Kingdom and service to humanity; it is attained by unity with mankind and through loving-kindness to all; it is dependent upon investigation of truth, acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, service in the cause of universal peace and personal sanctification. In a word, nearness to God necessitates sacrifice of self, severance and the giving up of all to Him. Nearness is likeness.

Behold how the sun shines upon all creation, but only surfaces that are pure and polished can reflect its glory and light. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk, 26 May 1912, New York, ‘The Promulgation of the Universal Peace’) (To see the entire talk please visit Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

December 24, 2012

circa 1933: Haziratu'l-Quds of the Baha'is of Rangoon, Burma

Haziratu'l-Quds of the Baha'is of Rangoon, Burma, circa 1933. (The Baha'i World 1932-1934)

December 20, 2012

The erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar in America – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains what made it such a unique undertaking from “the Day of Adam until now”

In these times the utmost hope and wish of the friends of the West is the erection of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar and in those regions the materials for construction and building are expensive and costly; a large sum of money is needed for the building of a residence -- then how much more is needed for the foundation of the Mashriqu’l-Adhkar which must be erected with the utmost splendor, beauty and magnificence. Therefore, the friends of God must arise in every part of the world to raise contributions and with their hearts and souls strive to gather these funds to be sent to the Occident that it may become known and evident throughout the universe that the Bahais of the East and West are as members of one household and the children of the one Lord. The Turks and the Persians, the Parsee and the Americans, the Hindu and the Africans, all of them are one army and one cohort and without any consideration they arise for the assistance and aid of each other.

December 15, 2012

What is Love? -- 'Abdu'l-Baha explains

Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the divers elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

December 10, 2012

The “comprehension of the Sacred Writings is not dependent upon scholarship or learning.”

… it is essential to recall that, as we are told in the Writings, the comprehension of the Sacred Writings is not dependent upon scholarship or learning. This should encourage every believer, no matter what his attainments, to delve into the Revelation with determination and confidence. In the Book of Certitude, Bahá'u'lláh says:

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.

But, in addition to needing the proper spirit, it requires concentration and meditation to unravel the meanings which lie enshrined in the Revealed Word. Nowadays, however, the lives of most people are busy and crowded with distractions, so it requires great discipline to devote the time, attention and care necessary to study the Teachings in the way they deserve. Deepening is like a skill or art which must be acquired through effort. (From a letter dated 21 January 1993 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

December 2, 2012

“…greed and envy becloudeth the radiance of the soul even as the clouds obstruct the light of the sun.” -- Baha'u'llah explains

O children of understanding! If the eyelid, however delicate, can deprive man’s outer eye from beholding the world and all that is therein, consider then what would be wrought if the veil of covetousness were to descend upon his inner eye. Say: O people! The darkness of greed and envy becloudeth the radiance of the soul even as the clouds obstruct the light of the sun. Should anyone hearken unto this utterance with a discerning ear, he will unfurl the wings of detachment and soar effortlessly in the atmosphere of true understanding. (Baha’u’llah, ‘The Tabernacle of Unity, Bahá’u’lláh’s Responses to Mánikchí Sáhib and Other Writings’)