October 26, 2014

Man is unable to comprehend the essence of God – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

All the people have formed a god in the world of thought and they worship that form of their own imagination, while the act is that the imagined concept is comprehended by the mind Which is comprehensive. Surely that which comprehends is greater than the comprehended, for imagination is accidental (non-essential) while the mind is essential. Surely the essential is greater than the accidental. 

Therefore consider: all the sects and peoples worship their own thought. They create a god in their own minds and acknowledge him to be the creator of all things, while that form is a superstition. Thus people adore and worship imagination (or illusion). 

That Essence of the Divine Reality and Unseen of the Unseen is holy above the imagination, and is beyond thought. Consciousness does not reach it. In the capacity of every produced (created) reality that Ancient Reality can not be contained. That is a different world; from it there is no information; arrival thereat is impossible; attainment thereto is prohibited and inaccessible.  This much is known--that it exists, and its existence is certain and proved, but the condition is unknown. 

All the philosophers and doctors knew that It is, but they were perplexed as to the comprehension of Its existence, and at last despaired, and in great despair they left this world. For the comprehension of the condition and mysteries of that Reality of realities and Mystery of mysteries there is need for another power and another sense. That power and sense are not possessed by men; therefore they have not found any information. For example--if a man possess the power of hearing, the power of tasting, the power of smelling, and the power of feeling, but not the power of seeing he cannot see. Hence, through the powers and senses present in man, the realization of that Unseen Reality, which is pure and holy above the reach of doubts, is impossible. Other powers are needed, and other senses are required. If these powers and senses be obtained, then information can be had, otherwise not. 
(‘Abdu’l-Baha, ‘Baha’i World Faith’)

October 24, 2014

‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah’: a letter by Shoghi Effendi, dated February 8, 1934 -- comments by David Hofman

…‘The Dispensation of Baha'u'llah’, a letter which the Guardian himself described as a statement of “certain fundamental verities”, “certain truths which lie at the basis of our Faith”. It has been referred to as Shoghi Effendi's own confession of faith. It is the appointed Expounder's presentation of the stations of Baha'u'llah, the Bab and 'Abdu'l‑Baha, of the transition from 'the Heroic and Apostolic Age' of the Faith to its Formative Age through the 'indissoluble link' of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l‑Baha, a summation of the spirit and chief provisions of that historic document and a marvellous presentation of the unique and distinguishing features of this Supreme Revelation, which make it 'unlike the dispensations of the past'. He emphasizes the twin institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice 'permanently and fundamentally united in their aims'. Without deep study of this basic document, no Baha'i can claim to be truly knowledgeable of his Faith. 
(David Hofman, the late member of the Universal House of Justice, from an essay: ‘Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Word of God’; published in ‘Studying the Writings of Shoghi Effendi’, by George Ronald)

October 20, 2014

How one can change oneself

He wishes again to assure you he will pray for your spiritual advancement in the Holy Shrines. The power of God can entirely transmute our characters and make of us beings entirely unlike our previous selves. Through prayer and supplication, obedience to the divine laws Bahá'u'lláh has revealed, and ever-increasing service to His Faith, we can change ourselves.  
(From a letter dated 22 November 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

October 17, 2014

Assignment to Spiritual Assemblies – by Baha’u’llah

Spiritual Assembly members are called upon by Baha’u’llah to:
  • “regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth”,
  • “take counsel together”,
  • “have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests”, and
  • “choose that which is meet and seemly.”
"The Lord hath ordained that in every city a House of Justice be established wherein shall gather counsellors to the number of Bahá, and should it exceed this number it does not matter. It behooveth them to be the trusted ones of the Merciful among men and to regard themselves as the guardians appointed of God for all that dwell on earth. It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive.” 
(Baha’u’llah, ‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 14, 2014

Meaning of invocation: “Yá Iláha’l-Mustagháth” or “Yá Alláhu’l- Mustagháth” – explanation by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice

The Research Department has studied the questions about the invocation “Yá Alláhu’l- Mustagháth” presented by Mr. …in his email message dated 2 October 2001 to Mr. ‘Alí Nakhjavání. Mr. … states that a Bahá’í friend of his has asked him to “transcribe” the phrase in question, and Mr. … would like to know its original source, the correct transliteration, and whether there is an English translation of it. The following is our response.

As Mr. … is no doubt well aware, the phrase in question was revealed by the Báb and has been associated with a variety of instructions for its recitation. It seems to us that his questions are answered in a letter dated 25 November 1999 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, as follows:

Concerning the phrase “Yá Alláhu’l-Mustagháth”, this is an invocation revealed by the Báb. He prescribed it for recitation by His followers in times of trouble and difficulty. Shoghi Effendi has translated the word “Mustagháth” as “He Who is invoked for help”. This phrase can be correctly transliterated in two ways, as set out below:

“Yá Iláha’l-Mustagháth”, which has been translated as “O Lord of the time of ‘Mustagháth’”

“Yá Alláhu’l-Mustagháth”, which has been translated as “O Thou God Who art invoked”

October 13, 2014

Need for a “deepening of comprehension” to take place among Baha’is when discussing the Teachings

It is not surprising that individual Bahá'ís hold and express different and sometimes defective understandings of the Teachings; this is but an evidence of the magnitude of the change that this Revelation is to effect in human consciousness. As believers with various insights into the Teachings converse -- with patience, tolerance and open and unbiased minds -- a deepening of comprehension should take place. The strident insistence on individual views, however, can lead to contention, which is detrimental not only to the spirit of Bahá'í association and collaboration but to the search for truth itself. 
(From a letter dated 8 February 1998 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)

October 8, 2014

The “basic and distinguishing principles” of the Baha’i Faith – the Guardian summarizes

  • “The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition;
  •  the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith;
  • the basic unity of all religions;
  • the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national;
  • the harmony which must exist between religion and science;
  • the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of human kind is able to soar;
  • the introduction of compulsory education;
  • the adoption of a universal auxiliary language;
  • the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty;
  • the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations;
  • the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship;
  • the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and
  • the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind.”

October 4, 2014

Among the factors that contribute to the “peace and tranquility” of each individual is: -- not to take “…undue pleasure in one’s own words and deeds…” – advice from Baha’u’llah

Say: O children of dust! He Who is the Spirit of Purity saith: In this glorious Day whatsoever can purge you from defilement and ensure your peace and tranquillity, that indeed is the straight Path, the Path that leadeth unto Me. To be purged from defilement is to be cleansed of that which is injurious to man and detracteth from his high station—among which is to take undue pleasure in one’s own words and deeds, notwithstanding their unworthiness. True peace and tranquillity will only be realized when every soul will have become the well-wisher of all mankind. He Who is the All-Knowing beareth Me witness: were the peoples of the world to grasp the true significance of the words of God, they would never be deprived of their portion of the ocean of His bounty. In the firmament of truth there hath never been, nor will there ever be, a brighter star than this. 
(Baha’u’llah, ‘The Tabernacle of Unity, Bahá’u’lláh’s Responses to Mánikchí Sáhib and Other Writings’)