December 31, 2016

Responsibilities of youth in 21st Century – “a landscape of bewildering contrast”

At the end of the twentieth century, the majority of the population of Latin America is under the age of 30. As this generation of youth assumes the responsibilities of conducting the affairs of society, it will encounter a landscape of bewildering contrast. On the one hand, the region can justly boast brilliant achievements in the intellectual, technological and economic spheres. On the other, it has failed to reduce widespread poverty or to avoid a rising sea of violence that threatens to submerge its peoples. Why - and the question needs to be asked plainly -- has this society been impotent, despite its great wealth, to remove the injustices that are tearing its fiber apart?

The answer to this question, as amply evidenced by decades of contentious history, cannot be found in political passion, conflicting expressions of class interest, or technical recipes. What is called for is a spiritual revival, as a prerequisite to the successful application of political, economic and technological instruments. But there is a need for a catalyst. Be assured that, in spite of your small numbers, you are the channels through which such a catalyst can be provided.

December 30, 2016

The “conduct and the manner of the people of Bahá” – The “foundation of the most high pathway”

O ye friends of God! Show ye an endeavor that all the nations and communities of the world, even the enemies, put their trust, assurance and hope in you; that if a person falls into errors for a hundred-thousand times he may yet turn his face to you, hopeful that you will forgive his sins; for he must not become hopeless, neither grieved nor despondent. This is the conduct and the manner of the people of Bahá. This is the foundation of the most high pathway! Ye should conform your conduct and manners with the advices of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.  
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of Abdul-Bahá Abbas’, vol. 2; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1, Excellence in All Things)

December 29, 2016

Louis Bourgeois: Canadian architect of Chicago Baha'i Temple

An early picture of Louis Bourgeois, the French Canadian architect of Chicago Baha'i Temple

December 28, 2016

Attributes of the Spiritual World

… the spiritual world … is the Kingdom of complete attraction and affinity. It is the Kingdom of the One Divine Spirit, the Kingdom of God. Therefore, the affinity and love manifest in this meeting, the divine susceptibilities witnessed here are not of this world but of the world of the Kingdom. When the souls become separated and selfish, the divine bounties do not descend, and the lights of the Supreme Concourse are no longer reflected even though the bodies meet together. A mirror with its back turned to the sun has no power to reflect the sun’s effulgence. Praise be to God! The purpose of this assembly is love and unity. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on 12 April 1912 at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

December 26, 2016

Purpose of Man’s Creation

The purpose of the creation of man is the attainment of the supreme virtues of humanity through descent of the heavenly bestowals. The purpose of man's creation is, therefore, unity and harmony, not discord and separateness. If the atoms which compose the kingdom of the minerals were without affinity for each other, the earth would never have been formed, the universe could not have been created. Because they have affinity for each other, the power of life is able to manifest itself, and the organisms of the phenomenal world become possible. When this attraction or atomic affinity is destroyed, the power of life ceases to manifest; death and nonexistence result. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk on 12 April 1912 at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Howard MacNutt; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

December 25, 2016

1938: US National Air Mail Week

The Baha'i Temple used as design for Cachet selected by the Postal authorities of Wilmette, Illinois, USA, and used on all outgoing mail during National Air Mail Week, May 15-21, 1938. (The Baha'i World  1938-1940)

December 23, 2016

The “Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us”

The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character. However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Bahá'u'lláh to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will-power in mastering ourselves. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 27 February 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, The Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude)

December 22, 2016

To gain a “victory” over one’s own self

Arise, O people, and, by the power of God’s might, resolve to gain the victory over your own selves, that haply the whole earth may be freed and sanctified from its servitude to the gods of its idle fancies—gods that have inflicted such loss upon, and are responsible for the misery of, their wretched worshipers. These idols form the obstacle that impedeth man in his efforts to advance in the path of perfection. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’)

December 21, 2016

Bahá’u’lláh’s faithful brother, Áqáy-i-Kalím, recalls his impression of Quddus when met him in Tihran in the fall of 1845

“The charm of his person, his extreme affability, combined with a dignity of bearing, appealed to even the most careless observer. Whoever was intimately associated with him was seized with an insatiable admiration for the charm of that youth. We watched him one day perform his ablutions, and were struck by the gracefulness which distinguished him from the rest of the worshippers in the performance of so ordinary a rite. He seemed, in our eyes, to be the very incarnation of purity and grace.” 
- Nabil  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

December 19, 2016

Themes from the Baha’i Writings researched and uploaded to 'Vision and Insight – daily gems' site --> between November 22, 2013 and December 19, 2016

Duration: November 22, 2013 to December 19, 2016
Total number of themes: 191
Number of excerpts from the Baha’i Writings: 1125
Total pageviews: 51,896
List of Themes:
A Baha’i’s “ambition” in life
A “pattern for restructuring the whole of society”
A True Baha’i
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s Example
Arts and Crafts
Avoidance of Fault-Finding and Backbiting
Avoidance of Partisan Politics
Baha’i Burial
Baha’i consultation
Baha’i Elections
Baha’i Funds and Contributions
Baha’i funerals
Baha’u’llah – Referred to by Jewish Prophets
Baha’u’llah’s stupendous Revelation
Balancing our Lives

December 18, 2016

Romania 1929: Tenha-Yuva

Tenha-Yuva ("a solitary nest"), the secluded palace of the royal family in Baltic, Romania, on the Black Sea, where Martha Root visited Queen Marie in autumn 1929 ('Martha Root, Lioness at the Threshold', by M.R. Garis)

December 17, 2016

The “goal towards which humanity, impelled by the unifying forces of life, is moving” – the Guardian explains

The unity of the human race, as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh, implies the establishment of a world commonwealth in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded. This commonwealth must, as far as we can visualize it, consist of a world legislature, whose members will, as the trustees of the whole of mankind, ultimately control the entire resources of all the component nations, and will enact such laws as shall be required to regulate the life, satisfy the needs and adjust the relationships of all races and peoples. A world executive, backed by an international Force, will carry out the decisions arrived at, and apply the laws enacted by, this world legislature, and will safeguard the organic unity of the whole commonwealth. A world tribunal will adjudicate and deliver its compulsory and final verdict in all and any disputes that may arise between the various elements constituting this universal system. A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity. A world metropolis will act as the nerve center of a world civilization, the focus towards which the unifying forces of life will converge and from which its energizing influences will radiate. A world language will either be invented or chosen from among the existing languages and will be taught in the schools of all the federated nations as an auxiliary to their mother tongue. A world script, a world literature, a uniform and universal system of currency, of weights and measures, will simplify and facilitate intercourse and understanding among the nations and races of mankind. In such a world society, science and religion, the two most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will cooperate, and will harmoniously develop. The press will, under such a system, while giving full scope to the expression of the diversified views and convictions of mankind, cease to be mischievously manipulated by vested interests, whether private or public, and will be liberated from the influence of contending governments and peoples. The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be coordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.

December 16, 2016

National Baha’i Convention – The Guardian explains the spiritual principles governing the functions of delegates and National Spiritual Assembly

….the assembled accredited representatives of the American believers should exercise not only the vital and responsible right of electing the National Assembly, but should also fulfill the functions of an enlightened, consultative and cooperative body that will enrich the experience, enhance the prestige, support the authority, and assist the deliberations of the National Spiritual Assembly. It is my firm conviction that it is the bounden duty, in the interest of the Cause we all love and serve, of the members of the incoming National Assembly, once elected by the delegates at Convention time, to seek and have the utmost regard, individually as well as collectively, for the advice, the considered opinion and the true sentiments of the assembled delegates. Banishing every vestige of secrecy, of undue reticence, of dictatorial aloofness, from their midst; they should radiantly and abundantly unfold to the eyes of the delegates, by whom they are elected, their plans, their hopes, and their cares. They should familiarize the delegates with the various matters that will have to be considered in the current year, and calmly and conscientiously study and weigh the opinions and judgments of the delegates. The newly elected National Assembly during the few days when the Convention is in session and after the dispersal of the delegates, should seek ways and means to cultivate understanding, facilitate and maintain the exchange of views, deepen confidence, and vindicate by every tangible evidence their one desire to serve and advance the common weal. Not infrequently, nay oftentimes, the most lowly, untutored and inexperienced among the friends will, by the sheer inspiring force of selfless and ardent devotion, contribute a distinct and memorable share to a highly involved discussion in any given Assembly. Great must be the regard paid by those whom the delegates call upon to serve in high position to this all-important though inconspicuous manifestation of the revealing power of sincere and earnest devotion.

December 15, 2016

“Man” has always existed – even when there was no Earth

…the divinity of God, which is the totality of all perfections, reveals itself in the reality of man -- that is, the divine Essence is the sum total of all perfections, and from this station it casts a ray of its splendour upon the human reality. In other words, the Sun of Truth is reflected in this mirror. Thus man is a perfect mirror facing the Sun of Truth and is the seat of its reflection. The splendour of all the divine perfections is manifest in the reality of man, and it is for this reason that he is the vicegerent and apostle of God. If man did not exist, the universe would be without result, for the purpose of existence is the revelation of the divine perfections. We cannot say, then, that there was a time when man was not. At most we can say that there was a time when this earth did not exist, and that at the beginning man was not present upon it.

But from the beginning that has no beginning to the end that has no end, a perfect Manifestation has always existed. This Man of Whom we speak here is not just any man: That which we intend is the Perfect Man. For the noblest part of the tree, and the fundamental purpose of its existence, is the fruit. A tree without fruit is of no use. Therefore, it cannot be imagined that the world of existence, whether in the realms above or below, was once populated by cows and donkeys, cats, and mice, and yet was deprived of the presence of man. What a false and vacuous notion! 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

December 13, 2016

The amazing nurturing role of an Institute tutor

Most noteworthy in this regard is the spirit of initiative shown by believers who extend the range of their endeavours to assist others also striving to tread a path of service. Having acquired the capacity to serve as tutors of institute courses, they take up the challenge of accompanying participants in their initial attempts to perform acts of service until they, too, are ready to start their own study circles and help others do the same, widening in this way the scope of the institute's influence and bringing eager souls into contact with the Word of God. This particular aspect of the institute process, which serves to multiply the number of active supporters of the Faith in a self-perpetuating manner, holds much promise, and we hope that its potential will be realized in the coming Plan. "Let him not be content", are the words of the Guardian referring to every teacher of the Cause, "until he has infused into his spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently, in his turn, and devote his energies to the quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly adopted Faith." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 27 December 2005 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

December 12, 2016

Baha’u’llah addresses the Christian Kings of His day

O kings of Christendom! Heard ye not the saying of Jesus, the Spirit of God, “I go away, and come again unto you”? [John 14:28] Wherefore, then, did ye fail, when He did come again unto you in the clouds of heaven, to draw nigh unto Him, that ye might behold His face, and be of them that attained His Presence?  In another passage He saith: “When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.” And yet behold how, when He did bring the truth, ye refused to turn your faces towards Him, and persisted in disporting yourselves with your pastimes and fancies. Ye welcomed Him not, neither did ye seek His Presence, that ye might hear the verses of God from His own mouth, and partake of the manifold wisdom of the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Wise. Ye have, by reason of your failure, hindered the breath of God from being wafted over you, and have withheld from your souls the sweetness of its fragrance. Ye continue roving with delight in the valley of your corrupt desires. By God! Ye, and all ye possess, shall pass away. Ye shall, most certainly, return to God, and shall be called to account for your doings in the presence of Him Who shall gather together the entire creation. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Suriy-i-Mulk [Tablet to the Kings]; ‘Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)

December 10, 2016

“mothers are the first educators, the first mentors”

…mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

December 8, 2016

A “saint” is a person whose “divine nature dominates his human nature”

In man there are two natures; his spiritual or higher nature and his material or lower nature. In one he approaches God, in the other he lives for the world alone. Signs of both these natures are to be found in men. In his material aspect he expresses untruth, cruelty and injustice; all these are the outcome of his lower nature. The attributes of his divine nature are shown forth in love, mercy, kindness, truth and justice, one and all being expressions of his higher nature. Every good habit, every noble quality belongs to man’s spiritual nature, whereas all his imperfections and sinful actions are born of his material nature. If a man’s divine nature dominates his human nature, we have a saint. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, November 1, 1911, Paris, France; ‘Paris Talks’)

December 7, 2016

Why some recognize the Cause of God and others are deprived of that blessing – Baha’u’llah explains

Be thankful to God for having enabled you to recognise His Cause. Whoever has received this blessing must, prior to his acceptance, have performed some deed which, though he himself was unaware of its character, was ordained by God as a means whereby he has been guided to find and embrace the Truth. As to those who have remained deprived of such a blessing, their acts alone have hindered them from recognising the truth of this Revelation. We cherish the hope that you, who have attained to this light, will exert your utmost to banish the darkness of superstition and unbelief from the midst of the people. May your deeds proclaim your faith and enable you to lead the erring into the paths of eternal salvation. The memory of this night will never be forgotten. May it never be effaced by the passage of time, and may its mention linger for ever on the lips of men. 
- Baha'u'llah  (Words of Baha’u’llah addressed to some pilgrims and a few resident believers on January 8, 1889, quoted by Nabil in the ‘Dawn-Breakers’, translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

December 5, 2016

The “Revelation of the Manifestation of God is the standard for all knowledge”

While it may often be the part of wisdom to approach individuals or an audience from a standpoint of current knowledge, it should never be overlooked that the Revelation of the Manifestation of God is the standard for all knowledge, and scientific statements and theories, no matter how close they may come to the eternal principles proclaimed by God's Messenger, are in their very nature ephemeral and limited. Likewise, attempting to make the Bahá'í Faith relevant to modern society is to incur the grave risk of compromising the fundamental verities of our Faith in an effort to make it conform to current theories and practices. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 21 July 1968 to a National Spiritual Assembly; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Scholarship)

December 4, 2016

Sciences are “bridges to reality”

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

December 2, 2016

Outward and Inward Powers of a Human Being

There are five outward material powers in man which are the means of perception—that is, five powers whereby man perceives material things. They are sight, which perceives sensible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odours; taste, which perceives edible things; and touch, which is distributed throughout the body and which perceives tactile realities. These five powers perceive external objects.

Man has likewise a number of spiritual powers: the power of imagination, which forms a mental image of things; thought, which reflects upon the realities of things; comprehension, which understands these realities; and memory, which retains whatever man has imagined, thought, and understood. The intermediary between these five outward powers and the inward powers is a common faculty, a sense which mediates between them and which conveys to the inward powers whatever the outward powers have perceived. It is termed the common faculty as it is shared in common between the outward and inward powers.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Table talks in Akka, authenticated by ‘Abdu’l-Baha; ‘Some Answered Questions’ – 2014 revised translation by the Baha’i World Centre)

November 30, 2016

How to become “receptive of the divine light”

The most important thing is to polish the mirrors of hearts in order that they may become illumined and receptive of the divine light. One heart may possess the capacity of the polished mirror; another, be covered and obscured by the dust and dross of this world. Although the same Sun is shining upon both, in the mirror which is polished, pure and sanctified you may behold the Sun in all its fullness, glory and power, revealing its majesty and effulgence; but in the mirror which is rusted and obscured there is no capacity for reflection, although so far as the Sun itself is concerned it is shining thereon and is neither lessened nor deprived. Therefore, our duty lies in seeking to polish the mirrors of our hearts in order that we shall become reflectors of that light and recipients of the divine bounties which may be fully revealed through them. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, New York, 14 April 1912; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

November 28, 2016

A Baha’i's “ambition” in life

They who are the people of God have no ambition except to revive the world, to ennoble its life, and regenerate its peoples. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’)

November 26, 2016

Benefits of participating in institute courses – both for individuals & the community

Central to the pattern of action evolving in a cluster is the individual and collective transformation effected through the agency of the Word of God. From the beginning of the sequence of courses, a participant encounters Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation in considering such weighty themes as worship, service to humanity, the life of the soul, and the education of children and youth. As a person cultivates the habit of study and deep reflection upon the Creative Word, this process of transformation reveals itself in an ability to express one’s understanding of profound concepts and to explore spiritual reality in conversations of significance. These capacities are visible not only in the elevated discussions that increasingly characterize interactions within the community, but in the ongoing conversations that reach well beyond—not least between the Bahá’í youth and their peers—extending to include parents whose daughters and sons are benefiting from the community’s programmes of education. Through exchanges of this kind, consciousness of spiritual forces is raised, apparent dichotomies yield to unexpected insights, a sense of unity and common calling is fortified, confidence that a better world can be created is strengthened, and a commitment to action becomes manifest. Such distinctive conversations gradually attract ever-larger numbers to take part in a range of community activities. Themes of faith and certitude surface naturally, prompted by the receptivity and experiences of those involved. What is clear, then, is that as the institute process in a cluster gains momentum, the act of teaching comes to assume greater prominence in the lives of the friends. 
- The Universal House of justice  (From Dec. 29, 2015 message to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

November 24, 2016

The “most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men”

As to thy question concerning the worlds of God. Know thou of a truth that the worlds of God are countless in their number, and infinite in their range. None can reckon or comprehend them except God, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. Consider thy state when asleep. Verily, I say, this phenomenon is the most mysterious of the signs of God amongst men, were they to ponder it in their hearts. Behold how the thing which thou hast seen in thy dream is, after a considerable lapse of time, fully realized. Had the world in which thou didst find thyself in thy dream been identical with the world in which thou livest, it would have been necessary for the event occurring in that dream to have transpired in this world at the very moment of its occurrence. Were it so, you yourself would have borne witness unto it. This being not the case, however, it must necessarily follow that the world in which thou livest is different and apart from that which thou hast experienced in thy dream. This latter world hath neither beginning nor end. It would be true if thou wert to contend that this same world is, as decreed by the All-Glorious and Almighty God, within thy proper self and is wrapped up within thee. It would equally be true to maintain that thy spirit, having transcended the limitations of sleep and having stripped itself of all earthly attachment, hath, by the act of God, been made to traverse a realm which lieth hidden in the innermost reality of this world.
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh’)

November 21, 2016

Garden of Ridvan in the Holy Land at the time of Baha'u'llah

The two seats that Baha'u'llah often used are marked. The gardener, Abu'l-Qasim, is standing on the steps leading to the stream that flows through the garden. ('Views of Akka, Haifa, Mt. Carmel and Other Places', an early publication by Baha'i Publishing Society, Chicago)

November 18, 2016

Shoghi Effendi’s humility and selflessness – a kind not yet known elsewhere

Humility of a kind not yet known elsewhere was one of Shoghi Effendi's many unique virtues, a humility which came from the conviction that man's faculties are not self-created but are a precious trust from God, not to be displayed or used overbearingly or with vanity. And yet he emanated true pride and dignity, such a regal dignity that raised him far above any man I have yet met or known.

When conversing with him, one could strongly sense this feeling of humility, while his ample brow and penetrating eyes reflected an inner light born of faith, courage and determination. One could feel an awareness that was amazing and rendered one speechless.

Shoghi Effendi's selflessness was not only outstanding but exemplary. He never placed his personal interests or desires ahead of his functions as Guardian. Those who were near to him inevitably felt that his life was something to be fully expended in the service of God and humanity, in a dedication unlike that of any other human being. When close to him I always felt the powerful process of his sublimation to the reality of the unseen world, while his body was there, near to me, like a visible, finely-tuned musical instrument whose melodies, imperceptible to the human ear, vibrated unseen through the ether.

November 16, 2016

Service on the institutions and agencies of the Faith – is a “privilege”, not one to be “sought by the individual”

Service on the institutions and agencies of the Faith is indeed a tremendous privilege, but not one that is sought by the individual; it is a duty and responsibility to which he or she may be called at any given time. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

November 14, 2016

Qualities for which a Baha’i community should be distinguished

Wherever a Bahá'í community exists, whether large or small, let it be distinguished for its abiding sense of security and faith, its high standard of rectitude, its complete freedom from all forms of prejudice, the spirit of love among its members and for the closely knit fabric of its social life. The acute distinction between this and present-day society will inevitably arouse the interest of the more enlightened, and as the world's gloom deepens the light of Bahá'í life will shine brighter and brighter until its brilliance must eventually attract the disillusioned masses and cause them to enter the haven of the Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, Who alone can bring them peace and justice and an ordered life. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated August 1968; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963 to 1986’)

November 10, 2016

The “force of contrast” – “as material affairs go from bad to worse in the world”

Indeed as material affairs go from bad to worse in the world, the confidence, optimism, love and hope of the believers will, by force of contrast, shine out as an ever brighter beacon, leading the people to the Path of Truth, the way laid down by God, which alone can guide them to the promise of the future. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 28 February 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles; ‘The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha’i Community’)

November 9, 2016

We have “three aspects of our humanness, so to speak, a body, a mind and an immortal identity—soul or spirit”

When studying at present, in English, the available Bahá’í writings on the subject of body, soul and spirit, one is handicapped by a certain lack of clarity because not all were translated by the same person, and also there are, as you know, still many Bahá’í writings untranslated. But there is no doubt that spirit and soul seem to have been interchanged in meaning sometimes; soul and mind have, likewise, been interchanged in meaning, no doubt due to difficulties arising from different translations. What the Bahá’ís do believe though is that we have three aspects of our humanness, so to speak, a body, a mind and an immortal identity—soul or spirit. We believe the mind forms a link between the soul and the body, and the two interact on each other. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, June 7th, 1946; ‘Arohanui: Letters from Shoghi Effendi to New Zealand’)

November 6, 2016

The “leaven that will transform human society”

Beyond the expansion of the community, vital as it is, the Five Year Plan [1974-1979] witnessed great progress in the spiritual development of the friends, the growing maturity and wisdom of Local and National Assemblies, and in the degree to which Bahá'í communities embody the distinguishing characteristics of Bahá'í life and attract, by their unity, their steadfastness, their radiance and good reputation, the interest and eventual wholehearted support of their fellow citizens. This is the magnet which will attract the masses to the Cause of God, and the leaven that will transform human society. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated Naw-Ruz 1979; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

November 3, 2016

Seeing the world through the eyes of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – “the greatest theatre in which humanity plays its part”

O thou who hast clung to the pure hem of the Branch of the Blessed Tree.

Behold thou the world and the inhabitants thereof with a seeing eye. It is the greatest theatre in which humanity plays its part. Thou seest hosts of people, running in the Arena of profit and loss and the waves of the Sea of madness are visible and apparent in many parts. Uproarious voices are raised, and clamor, revolution and intense tumult reaches the ears of the discerning ones. Bitter quarrels and strife are waged between capital and labor, and with swords and arrows, spears and daggers, battles are fought between the lowly and the high. Everywhere the regiments of the Armies are drawn in battle array and the infernal and destructive artilleries are mounted on every side. The gleaming brightness of the swords of enmity is seen from afar and the intense brilliancy of the spears of hatred is illuminating the black darkness of the night and dazzling the eyes.

By the above statement is meant that the implements of warfare, struggle, battle and slaughter are prepared and ready in utmost completeness. On the other hand thou hearest the voice of music and harmony, the melody of harps, organs and songs, and seest the signs of joy and happiness, mirth and cheerfulness. Here thou observest the spectacle of the attachment of the people to gold and silver, and the display of decorations, tinsels, earthly pageants, pomps, worldly ambitions and covetousness are the conditions of the ephemeral world. And there thou hearest the moans of helplessness and lamentation, the groanings of pain and sufferings and the cries of terror and impotence. The wailing of the weeping ones, the deprecations of the afflicted ones, the grief of the distressed ones and the despair of those drowning in the Sea of Tests are ascending toward Heaven, fervently begging help and succor. Hither thou beholdest the burning pangs of separation, the enkindlement of the Fire of longing and the scorching of yearning, and yonder thou seest the agitation and raging of Kings and headless ministers, the contention and rivalry of thoughts and ideas of senseless leaders and the consultations, tactics, strategies, devices, constructions and destructions, fame and notoriety of the Counsellors of Kingdoms and Empires.

November 1, 2016

How we should respond to anger directed at us

Should anyone wax angry with you, respond to him with gentleness; and should anyone upbraid you, forbear to upbraid him in return, but leave him to himself and put your trust in God, the omnipotent Avenger, the Lord of might and justice. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 30, 2016

The criteria that God uses to accept “every goodly deed” – Baha’u’llah explains

Blessed is the man that hath acknowledged his belief in God and in His signs, and recognized that “He shall not be asked of His doings”. Such a recognition hath been made by God the ornament of every belief and its very foundation. Upon it must depend the acceptance of every goodly deed. Fasten your eyes upon it, that haply the whisperings of the rebellious may not cause you to slip. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

October 27, 2016

An amazing road map for one’s journey in life…

O thou dear servant of God!

Thy letter was received and its contents noted. As to instructions which thou desirest, they are as follows:

Believe in God; turn unto the Supreme Kingdom; be attracted unto the Beauty of Abha; remain firm in the Covenant; yearn for ascending unto the heaven of the sun of the universe; be disinterested in the world; be alive with the fragrances of holiness in the Kingdom of the Highest; be a caller to love; kind to the human race; gentle with humanity; interested in all the people of the world; wish for harmony and seek friendship and honesty. Be a healing for every wound, a remedy for every sick, a source of harmony among the people; chant the verses of guidance; pray to God; arise for the guidance of the people; let thy tongue explain and thy face illumine with the glowing of the love of God. Rest not a moment and breathe not a breath of repose until thou becomest a sign of God’s love and a banner of God’s favor. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 1)

October 26, 2016

Mishkin-Qalam's Calligraphy

The first verse of Baha’u’llah’s The Hidden Words (Arabic) arranged and written in three different styles of calligraphy by Mishkin-Qalam. (The Baha’i World 1968-1973)

October 21, 2016

“True religion… is the fruit of the creative Word of God…” It “transforms human thought and action”

A Bahá'í who has studied the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, who has accepted His claim to be the Manifestation of God for this Age, and who has seen His Teachings at work in his daily life, knows as the result of rational investigation, confirmed by actual experience, that true religion, far from being the product solely of human striving after truth, is the fruit of the creative Word of God which, with divine power, transforms human thought and action. 
(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice on Baha’i Scholarship, accompanied by a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice dated 3 January 1979; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

October 19, 2016

1979: “the signs of universal anarchy”

The decline of religious and moral restraints has unleashed a fury of chaos and confusion that already bears the signs of universal anarchy. Engulfed in this maelstrom, the Bahá'í world community, pursuing with indefeasible unity and spiritual force its redemptive mission, inevitably suffers the disruption of economic, social and civil life which afflicts its fellowmen throughout the planet. It must also bear particular tribulations. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated Naw-Ruz 1979; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

October 17, 2016

Baha’u’llah quotes passage from the Qur’an concerning the “Divine Presence” and explains its meaning

Ponder a while upon the verses concerning the Divine Presence, which have been sent down in the Qur’án by Him Who is the Lord of the kingdom of names, perchance thou mayest discover the Straight Path, and be made an instrument for the guidance of His creatures. Such a one as thou must needs in this day arise to serve this Cause. The abasement of this Wronged One as well as thy glory shall both pass away. Strive thou, that haply thou mayest achieve a deed the fragrance of which shall never fade from the earth.

Concerning the Divine Presence there hath been sent down what no denier hath been or is now able to refute or repudiate.
  • He—blessed and exalted be He—saith: “It is God Who hath reared the heavens without pillars thou canst behold; then mounted His throne, and imposed laws on the sun and moon: each traveleth to its appointed goal. He ordereth all things. He maketh His signs clear, that ye may have firm faith in the Presence of your Lord.”
  • He also saith: “To him who hopeth to attain the Presence of God, the set time of God will surely come. And He is the Hearer, the Knower.”
  • And further He—exalted be He—saith: “As for those who believe not in the signs of God, or that they shall ever attain His Presence, these of My mercy shall despair, and these doth a grievous chastisement await.”
  • And likewise He saith: “And they say, ‘What! when we shall have lain hidden in the earth, shall we become a new creation?’ Yea, they deny that they shall attain the Presence of their Lord.”

October 16, 2016

The implication of the Baha’i principle of the harmony of science and religion

It has become customary in the West to think of science and religion as occupying two distinct -- and even opposed -- areas of human thought and activity. This dichotomy can be characterized in the pairs of antitheses: faith and reason; value and fact. It is a dichotomy which is foreign to Bahá'í thought…. The principle of the harmony of science and religion means not only that religious teachings should be studied with the light of reason and evidence as well as of faith and inspiration, but also that everything in this creation, all aspects of human life and knowledge, should be studied in the light of revelation as well as in that of purely rational investigation. In other words… when studying a subject, [one] should not lock out of his mind any aspect of truth that is known to him. 
(Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, accompanied by a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice dated 3 January 1979; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

October 13, 2016

“The Doors of the Kingdom are opened…”

O People! The Doors of the Kingdom are opened; The Sun of Truth is shining upon the world; the Fountains of Life are flowing; the Daysprings of Mercy have appeared; the Greatest and Most Glorious Light is now manifest to illuminate the hearts of men.

Wake up and hear the Voice of GOD calling from all parts of the Supreme World -- "Come undo Me, O ye children of men; come unto Me, O ye who are thirsty, and drink from this sweet Water which is descending in torrents upon all parts of the globe.”

These days are the days of Faith and Deeds -- not the days of words and lip service: Let us arise from the sleep of negligence, and realize what a great feast is prepared for us; first eating thereof ourselves, then giving unto others who are thirsting for the Water of Knowledge, and hungering for the Bread of Life.

These Great Days are swiftly passing; and once gone they can never be recalled. So, while the Rays of the Sun of Truth are still shining and The Center of The Covenant of GOD is manifest, let us go forth to work.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  ('Star of the West', vol. 5, no.1, March 21, 1914)

October 11, 2016

“Rectitude of Conduct” - The Guardian delineates its ramification in one’s life

“Such a rectitude of conduct
  • must manifest itself, with ever-increasing potency, in every verdict which the elected representatives of the Bahá’í community, in whatever capacity they may find themselves, may be called upon to pronounce.
  • It must be constantly reflected in the business dealings of all its members, in their domestic lives, in all manner of employment, and in any service they may, in the future, render their government or people.
  • It must be exemplified in the conduct of all Bahá’í electors, when exercising their sacred rights and functions.
  • It must characterize the attitude of every loyal believer towards nonacceptance of political posts, nonidentification with political parties, nonparticipation in political controversies, and nonmembership in political organizations and ecclesiastical institutions.
  • It must reveal itself in the uncompromising adherence of all, whether young or old, to the clearly enunciated and fundamental principles laid down by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in His addresses, and to the laws and ordinances revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in His Most Holy Book.
  • It must be demonstrated in the impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may possess, and in his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him.
  • It must constitute the brightest ornament of the life, the pursuits, the exertions, and the utterances of every Bahá’í teacher, whether laboring at home or abroad, whether in the front ranks of the teaching force, or occupying a less active and responsible position.
  • It must be made the hallmark of that numerically small, yet intensely dynamic and highly responsible body of the elected national representatives of every Bahá’í community, which constitutes the sustaining pillar, and the sole instrument for the election, in every community, of that Universal House whose very name and title, as ordained by Bahá’u’lláh, symbolizes that rectitude of conduct which is its highest mission to safeguard and enforce.” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated December 25, 1938, published as ‘The Advent of the Divine Justice’)

October 9, 2016

The “magnet which will attract the masses to the Cause of God”

Beyond the expansion of the community, vital as it is, the Five Year Plan [1974-1979] witnessed great progress in the spiritual development of the friends, the growing maturity and wisdom of Local and National Assemblies, and in the degree to which Bahá'í communities embody the distinguishing characteristics of Bahá'í life and attract, by their unity, their steadfastness, their radiance and good reputation, the interest and eventual wholehearted support of their fellow citizens. This is the magnet which will attract the masses to the Cause of God, and the leaven that will transform human society. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated Naw-Ruz 1979; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

October 6, 2016

How to get nearer to God – advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

If you desire the nearness of God, you must sever yourself from everything and become purified and sanctified from the dross of this transitory world. You must become submerged in the sea of the love of God. You must occupy your time with His mention and praise. Bahá'u'lláh alone must be the Beloved of the world. Observe: until the disciples of Christ renounced themselves they did not resuscitate the world. Thus, you must always be occupied with the mention of God and in spreading the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.  
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk, October 19, Los Angeles, USA, recorded by Mahmud Zarqani; ‘Mahmud’s Diary’)

October 4, 2016

A touching response from the Guardian to a contribution by a youth

Haifa, Israel
August 1, 1954
Baha'i Youth of Springfield, N. J.

Dear Baha'i Youth:

The beloved Guardian was very touched by your kind contribution to the International Fund.

Your gift is a testimonial to the strength of the Baha'i Faith; that everyone, young and old alike, are joining in the great work of the Ten Year Crusade. The beloved Guardian prays that you will grow into strong and vigorous adults; and that each and everyone of you may be guided and confirmed in your work for the Faith. He hopes you may be able to teach many of your playmates, and, as you grow older, your associates.

The Guardian assures you of his prayers in your behalf. He sends you his loving greetings.

Faithfully yours,

(signed) Leroy Ioas

Assistant Secretary
(Child’s Way Magazine, January 1955)

October 2, 2016

The “three conditions of teaching the Cause of God”

Today the magnetic power that attracts heavenly blessings is teaching the Cause of God. Whoever arises to perform this service the armies of the angels will grant him victory. The three conditions of teaching the Cause of God are the science of sociability, purity of deeds and sweetness of speech. I hope each one of you may become confirmed with these three attributes.

Therefore, one must be wholly cleansed from desire and self and passion, be abstracted (drawn apart) from the world of nature, become embodied light and visualized spirit and then be engaged in teaching the Cause of God. Then the fire of the love of God will flame so high as to attract the hearts of all mankind. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet to believers in Denver, USA, 1914; Star of the West, vol. 12, no. 11, September 27, 1921)

September 29, 2016

Shoghi Effendi’s Introduction to Dawn-Breakers, its Footnotes, and Genealogy of the Báb

Outstanding as an example of his historical perspective is the Introduction to the Dawn-Breakers. It contains a concise and brilliant history of Islam, to inform the reader concerning the forms and elements which concurred to set the stage on which the deeply moving drama of the Báb's Revelation was played. Many a time, during his table conversation, to illustrate some points, he would accurately quote from that particular book, or from God Passes By, or some other of his writings, often showing surprise or perplexity at the limited information, or lack of it, of some of his listeners. The footnotes of The Dawn-Breakers, some of which are in French, are another example of his talent in the field of historical research. To appreciate the tremendous background of knowledge he possessed at the time of his translation of that book, it suffices to glance at the titles and authors of the fifty-five books he consulted, as listed in the Appendix. In addition, one finds in his own handwriting the genealogy of the Báb, showing connection with Bahá'u'lláh's descendants, and presented on a fivefold sheet of paper twenty-six inches long.  The genealogy is prepared with scrupulous care, and shows the ramifications of the families, including names known to every Bahá'í as well as names unknown to the average believer, but which Shoghi Effendi brought to mind with great facility. Always amazing was his inexhaustible memory and the ease with which he recalled episodes, placing personages in their proper positions, with all their particulars of names, backgrounds and degrees of relationship. It was like reliving the spellbound days of my childhood when my aged and learned tutor would narrate the legendary feats of Greek mythology, with gods and people brought alive by his fascinating word pictures. 
- Hand of the Cause Ugo Giachery  ('Shoghi Effendi – Recollections’)

September 27, 2016

“…it shall turn the earth into paradise”

The Báb told Mulla Husayn an exciting prospect concerning future: “A secret lies hidden in that city [Tihran]. When made manifest, it shall turn the earth into paradise.” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’) 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe)

September 25, 2016

1933 Budapest Hungry: Women's League for Peace and Freedom

From right to left: unknown, Howard Carpenter, Martha Root, Marzieh Carpenter, Eugenia Muller

September 22, 2016

2007: Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Varqa with the members of the Universal House of Justice

Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Varqa (sitting at the center) with the members of the Universal House of Justice, 2007.

September 20, 2016

The Purpose of Teaching

Teaching the Faith embraces many diverse activities, all of which are vital to success, and each of which reinforce the other. Time and again the beloved Guardian emphasized that expansion and consolidation are twin and inseparable aspects to teaching that must proceed simultaneously yet one still hears believers discussing the virtues of one as against the other. The purpose of teaching is not complete when a person declares that he has accepted Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age; the purpose of teaching is to attract human beings to the Divine Message and so imbue them with its spirit that they will dedicate themselves to its service, and this world will become another world and its people another people. Viewed in this light a declaration of Faith is merely a milestone along the way -- albeit a very important one. Teaching may also be likened to kindling a fire, the fire of faith, in the hearts of men. If a fire burns only so long as the match is held to it, it cannot truly be said to have been kindled; to be kindled it must continue to burn of its own accord. Thereafter more fuel can be added and the flame can be fanned, but even if left alone for a period, a truly kindled fire will not be extinguished by the first breath of wind. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter to all National Spiritual Assemblies, May 25, 1975; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

September 18, 2016

Bahá'u'lláh acknowledges that the Báb is “the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Day-Spring of Divinity”, and the “Manifestation” of God’s “Lordship”

Magnify Thou, O Lord my God, Him Who is the Primal Point, the Divine Mystery, the Unseen Essence, the Day-Spring of Divinity, and the Manifestation of Thy Lordship, through Whom all the knowledge of the past and all the knowledge of the future were made plain, through Whom the pearls of Thy hidden wisdom were uncovered, and the mystery of Thy treasured name disclosed, Whom Thou hast appointed as the Announcer of the One through Whose name the letter B and the letter E have been joined and united, through Whom Thy majesty, Thy sovereignty and Thy might were made known, through Whom Thy words have been sent down, and Thy laws set forth with clearness, and Thy signs spread abroad, and Thy Word established, through Whom the hearts of Thy chosen ones were laid bare, and all that were in the heavens and all that were on the earth were gathered together, Whom Thou hast called Ali-Muhammad in the kingdom of Thy names, and the Spirit of Spirits in the Tablets of Thine irrevocable decree, Whom Thou hast invested with Thine own title, unto Whose name all other names have, at Thy bidding and through the power of Thy might, been made to return, and in Whom Thou hast caused all Thine attributes and titles to attain their final consummation. To Him also belong such names as lay hid within Thy stainless tabernacles, in Thine invisible world and Thy sanctified cities.

September 14, 2016

Only “a faint reflection” of God’s Reality within Baha’u’llah was revealed to humanity

O My Well-Beloved! Thou hast breathed Thy Breath into Me, and divorced Me from Mine own Self. Thou didst, subsequently, decree that no more than a faint reflection, a mere emblem of Thy Reality within Me be left among the perverse and envious. Behold, how, deluded by this emblem, they have risen against Me, and heaped upon Me their denials! Uncover Thy Self, therefore, O My Best-Beloved, and deliver Me from My plight.

Thereupon a Voice replied: “I love, I dearly cherish this emblem. How can I consent that Mine eyes, alone, gaze upon this emblem, and that no heart except Mine heart recognize it? By My Beauty, which is the same as Thy Beauty! My wish is to hide Thee from Mine own eyes: how much more from the eyes of men!”

I was preparing to make reply, when lo, the Tablet was suddenly ended, leaving My theme unfinished, and the pearl of Mine utterance unstrung. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’)

September 12, 2016

1994: Celebration of the International Year of Family in Macau

Baha'i youth in Macau dance during an activity organized in August 1994 to celebrate the International Year of the Family 
(The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

September 9, 2016

Purpose of Baha’i Administration

First Local Spiritual Assembly of the 

Baha'is of Yaounde, Cameroon, 1968

The friends must never mistake the Bahá'í administration for an end in itself. It is merely the instrument of the spirit of the Faith. This Cause is a Cause which God has revealed to humanity as a whole. It is designed to benefit the entire human race, and the only way it can do this is to re-form the community life of mankind, as well as seeking to regenerate the individual. The Bahá'í Administration is only the first shaping of what in future will come to be the social life and laws of community living. As yet the believers are only just beginning to grasp and practise it properly. So we must have patience if at times it seems a little self-conscious and rigid in its workings. It is because we are learning something very difficult but very wonderful -- how to live together as a community of Bahá'ís, according to the glorious teachings. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 14 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. 1)

September 6, 2016

The spiritual heart of a country – an insight by Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum

Whenever one thinks of Canada one thinks of cultivation. Out of her virgin forests, her wildernesses, her barren North lands and lakes, has already been wrung a great and promising nation. The darkness of nature, as the Master said, has given way to cultivation and out of imperfection has arisen the splendour of government, industry, trade, settlement, and the arts and sciences of human life. But spiritually the land is still dark, promising, but dark. Primarily the measure of spirituality radiated by your national body will be the measure of Bahá’u’lláh’s light directly available for Canada. For He created the concept of your institution. You exist because of the functions He desired you to perform, and your fundamental function is to be the spiritual heart of Canada. 
- Ruhiyyih Khanum  (From an address to the first national convention assembled in the drawing room of her girlhood home in Montreal; published in the forward section of “Messages to Canada”)

September 2, 2016

Ten Year Crusade – 1953-1953: “the greatest spiritual drama the world has ever witnessed”

We are embarked upon the greatest spiritual drama the world has ever witnessed; and it is going to require the sacrifice of every individual, every community and every Assembly, whether local or national, in order to reach the goals. The Guardian feels they can be reached if we will concentrate, and not allow our attention to be diverted for a moment for any purpose whatsoever. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a message dated 6 May 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, ‘Messages to Canada’)

August 29, 2016

The Báb bestowed “the essence of power” to Mulla Husayn

Sending Mulla Husayn on his first assignment since he became a Bábí the Báb said: “Grieve not that you have not been chosen to accompany Me on My pilgrimage to Hijaz. I shall instead direct your steps to that city [Tihran] which enshrines a Mystery of such transcendent holiness as neither Hijaz [a region in Saudi Arabia containing the holy cities of Mecca and medina] nor Shiraz can hope to rival…Visit, on your way, Isfahan, Kashan, Tihran and Khurasan… The hosts of the invisible Kingdom, be assured, will sustain and reinforce your efforts. The essence of power is now dwelling in you, and the company of His chosen angels revolves around you. His almighty arms will surround you, and His unfailing Spirit will ever continue to guide your steps…” (‘The Dawn-Breakers’) 
(Adapted from ‘Robe of Light, vol. 1’, by David Ruhe) 

August 26, 2016

An attribute of “the chosen ones of God”

Happy the soul that shall forget his own good, and like the chosen ones of God, vie with his fellows in service to the good of all… 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Secret of Divine Civilization’)

August 22, 2016

The Baha’i International Community

In 1947 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada was accredited to the United Nations as a national non-governmental organization qualified to be represented at United Nations Conferences through a designated observer. One year later the eight existing National Spiritual Assemblies were recognized collectively as an international non-governmental organization under the title "The Bahá'í International Community." Each National Spiritual Assembly designated the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States as its representative at the United Nations. Mrs. Mildred Mottahedeh, who also served as a member of the International Bahá'í Council from 1961 to 1963, was the observer for the Bahá'í International Community for nearly twenty years. The Bahá'í International Community, which now includes at least five million believers, 165 National Spiritual Assemblies, and approximately twenty thousand Local Spiritual Assemblies, maintains offices in New York and Geneva as well as regional offices in Addis Ababa, Brussels, and Jakarta.

The Baha’i International Community registered with the UN as an NGO in 1948 and currently has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as accreditation with the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI). The Baha’i International Community collaborates with the UN and its specialized agencies, as well as member states, inter- and non-governmental organizations, academia, and practitioners. 
(Adapted from the explanatory footnotes in ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’, and website of Baha’i International Community)

August 21, 2016

Mary Maxwell, 1937

Mary Maxwell (Ruhiyyih Khanum) in the garden of the Western Baha'i Pilgrim House in Haifa, shortly before her marriage to Shoghi Effendi, 1937 ('The Maxwells of Montreal', by Viollete Nakhjavani)

August 19, 2016

Nineteen Day Feast – Excerpts from recent messages of the Universal House of Justice & the International Teaching Centre

  •  The institution of 19-Day Feast
  •  Responsibilities of Spiritual Assembly
  •  Influence of the “devotional character of a community”
  •  Limited to Baha’is
  •  Choice of language
  •  Choice of prayers and readings
  •  Factors contributing to quality improvement
  •  Participation of believers in the “conduct of the Nineteen Day Feast” is an aspect of the “collective undertakings of the Bahá’í community”
  •  The progressive unfoldment of the three components of the Feast
  •  The consultative portion of the Feast
  •  The “decentralization” of the Feast is “an inevitable consequence of the growth of the Faith”
  •  Neighborhood Feasts
  •  What to do if friends of the Faith appear unexpectedly, or the “Feast is celebrated in the home of a family with some members who are not Bahá’ís”

August 17, 2016

Attaining to the presence of God – Baha’u’llah explains its meaning

In all the Divine Books the promise of the Divine Presence hath been explicitly recorded. By this Presence is meant the Presence of Him Who is the Dayspring of the signs, and the Dawning-Place of the clear tokens, and the Manifestation of the Excellent Names, and the Source of the attributes, of the true God, exalted be His glory. God in His Essence and in His own Self hath ever been unseen, inaccessible, and unknowable. By Presence, therefore, is meant the Presence of the One Who is His Vicegerent amongst men. He, moreover, hath never had, nor hath He, any peer or likeness. For were He to have any peer or likeness, how could it then be demonstrated that His being is exalted above, and His essence sanctified from, all comparison and likeness?  (Baha’u’llah, ‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

August 16, 2016

1994: Foreign Minister of Israel visits the Baha'i World Center

During his visit to the Baha'i World Center on 4 August 1994, Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister of Israel, views of the models of the Terraces Project. 
(The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

August 14, 2016

Being “a Bahá'í is essentially an inner thing, or way of life, and not dependent on fixed patterns”

It is good for the Bahá'ís to learn that being a Bahá'í is essentially an inner thing, or way of life, and not dependent on fixed patterns. Important as our organized institutions are, they are not the Faith itself. The strength of the Cause grows no matter how much disrupted its activities may temporarily be. This we see over and over again, in lands where the Faith has been temporarily banned; at times when the believers are persecuted and even killed; where they are serving all along or scattered and isolated... 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Program Committee of Geyserville, November 11, 1951: Bahá'í News, No.257, p.4, July 1952; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

August 10, 2016

The site for the House of Worship in India and an ancient village named Bahapur “the Abode of Baha”

During the Ten Year World Crusade, twenty-two acres of land in New Delhi were acquired as a site for a House of Worship. In the process of demarcating the boundaries, it was discovered that the land was part of an ancient village named Bahapur, meaning "the Abode of Baha". In Hindustani, a dialect of Hindi, Baha means "a channel" or "a water course". By a happy coincidence, Baha is Arabic for "light", 'splendour", or "glory" and is a form of Bahá'u'lláh's name. Later the government requisitioned the property for use as a greenbelt area. After several years of constant negotiation by the National Spiritual Assembly of India, and upon viewing the beautiful design for the Temple, the government agreed to release the entire twenty-two acres. 
(Footnote to a cablegram from the Universal House of justice dated 13 October 1977 published in ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice 1963-1986’)

August 7, 2016

“The Bahá'í work for the reconstruction of human society” – an explanation by the Universal House of Justice

The first step in the reconstruction of human society is for individuals to accept Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for this age and to begin to strive, as well as they can, to follow His Teachings in their individual and in their communal lives. Conversion is but the first step, yet it is the essential one. Without it no amount of expertise or scientifically based knowledge will have a lasting effect, because the fundamental motivating and sustaining power will be lacking.

As the Bahá'í community grows it will acquire experts in numerous fields -- both by Bahá'ís becoming experts and by experts becoming Bahá'ís. As these experts bring their knowledge and skill to the service of the community and, even more, as they transform their various disciplines by bringing to bear upon them the light of the Divine Teachings, problem after problem now disrupting society will be answered. In such developments they should strive to make the utmost use of non-Bahá'í resources and should collaborate fully with non-Bahá'ís who are working in the same fields. Such collaboration will, in the long run, be of far more benefit than any attempt now to treat such scientific endeavours as specifically Bahá'í projects operating under Bahá'í institutions and financed by investment of Bahá'í funds.

August 2, 2016

How to conduct a meaningful conversation to attract a soul to the Faith – advice from May Maxwell

We must first touch the heart to awaken it; if it opens and responds we must sow the priceless seed .... Prepare the soil with the warmth of your love just as the sun prepares the soil in the spring or the seed would not grow. Remove the stones and weeds ... that is to say, in a kind way try to remove prejudices.... Uproot narrow superstitions by suggesting broader, deeper ideas. Never oppose people's ideas and statements, but give them a little nobler way of seeing life. Such words and thoughts will take effect because they come from a Baha'i whose life flows from the Source of all life on earth today. . . . My great and wise teacher, Mirza 'Abu'l-Fadl, laid down these divine principles of teaching in my soul... and they have changed all my attitude. He showed me that it is the Spirit of God that is doing the work; we must wait upon the Spirit and do Its bidding only. 
- May Maxwell  (From a letter dated 1915 quoted in the 'In-Memoriam' section of ‘The Baha’i World 1938-1940’)