February 26, 2016

"There are two kinds of cooperation: material and spiritual"

There are two kinds of cooperation: material and spiritual. Cooperation in the material world will insure happiness and fellowship, and will facilitate the progress of humankind; but the ideal, the most real and virtuous cooperation is spiritual. That is realized when people gather together to investigate and discuss principles impartially, to talk over the divine and philosophic principles of the age and to assist each other in pursuit of divine knowledge and wisdom. This real cooperation and mutual assistance is the foundation on which the super-structure of material reciprocity is based. Through this spiritual inter-assistance the prosperity of the world of man is unveiled. 
-‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha at a Nineteen-Day Feast in London, December 29, 1912; Baha’i News no. 33, July 1929) 
(To see the entire talk please visit Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha

February 25, 2016

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s younger brother: Mirza Mihdi - The Purest Branch

Blessed art thou, [1] and blessed he that turneth unto thee, and visiteth thy grave, and draweth nigh, through thee, unto God, the Lord of all that was and shall be.... I testify that thou didst return in meekness unto thine abode. Great is thy blessedness and the blessedness of them that hold fast unto the hem of thy outspread robe.... Thou art, verily, the trust of God and His treasure in this land. Erelong will God reveal through thee that which He hath desired. He, verily, is the Truth, the Knower of things unseen. When thou wast laid to rest in the earth, the earth itself trembled in its longing to meet thee. Thus hath it been decreed, and yet the people perceive not.... Were We to recount the mysteries of thine ascension, they that are asleep would waken, and all beings would be set ablaze with the fire of the remembrance of My Name, the Mighty, the Loving. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in a letter dated December 21, 1939; ‘Messages to America’)
[1] The Purest Branch

February 24, 2016

Parents “to pass on to their children… the precious Faith they themselves have embraced”

Bahá'ís in every country must be constantly urged and, wherever necessary, assisted to pass on to their children as their most cherished legacy, the precious Faith they themselves have embraced. Those new generations of Bahá'ís will have a vital role in consolidating the Cause of God on a firm foundation.
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated November 1976, addressed to the friends assembled at the International Teaching Conference in Hong Kong; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

February 22, 2016

1906: One of Tehran's City Gates

(Source: 'Persia - Past and Present. A Book of Travel and Research', by A.V. Williams Jackson)

February 21, 2016

"The individual, the institutions, and the community… are being shaped under the direct influence of His [Baha’u’llah’s] Revelation, and a new conception of each… is emerging.”

Every follower of Bahá’u’lláh knows well that the purpose of His Revelation is to bring into being a new creation. No sooner had “the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths.” The individual, the institutions, and the community—the three protagonists in the Divine Plan—are being shaped under the direct influence of His Revelation, and a new conception of each, appropriate for a humanity that has come of age, is emerging. The relationships that bind them, too, are undergoing a profound transformation, bringing into the realm of existence civilization-building powers which can only be released through conformity with His decree. At a fundamental level these relationships are characterized by cooperation and reciprocity, manifestations of the interconnectedness that governs the universe. So it is that the individual, with no regard for “personal benefits and selfish advantages,” comes to see himself or herself as “one of the servants of God, the All-Possessing,” whose only desire is to carry out His laws. So it is that the friends come to recognize that “wealth of sentiment, abundance of good-will and effort” are of little avail when their flow is not directed along proper channels, that “the unfettered freedom of the individual should be tempered with mutual consultation and sacrifice,” and that “the spirit of initiative and enterprise should be reinforced by a deeper realization of the supreme necessity for concerted action and a fuller devotion to the common weal.” And so it is that all come to discern with ease those areas of activity in which the individual can best exercise initiative and those which fall to the institutions alone. “With heart and soul”, the friends follow the directives of their institutions, so that, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explains, “things may be properly ordered and well arranged”. This, of course, is not a blind obedience; it is an obedience that marks the emergence of a mature human race which grasps the implications of a system as far-reaching as Bahá’u’lláh’s new World Order. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

February 18, 2016

February 15, 2016

A “concept that lies at the foundation of the current global enterprise and, indeed, at the very heart of every stage of the Divine Plan”: –> “progress is achieved through the development of three participants—the individual, the institutions, and the community.”

To understand the nature of the interacting processes that, in their totality, engender the expansion and consolidation of the Faith is vital to the successful execution of the Plan. In your efforts to further such understanding, you and your auxiliaries are encouraged to bear in mind a concept that lies at the foundation of the current global enterprise and, indeed, at the very heart of every stage of the Divine Plan, namely, that progress is achieved through the development of three participants—the individual, the institutions, and the community. Throughout human history, interactions among these three have been fraught with difficulties at every turn, with the individual clamouring for freedom, the institution demanding submission, and the community claiming precedence. Every society has defined, in one way or another, the relationships that bind the three, giving rise to periods of stability, interwoven with turmoil. Today, in this age of transition, as humanity struggles to attain its collective maturity, such relationships—nay, the very conception of the individual, of social institutions, and of the community—continue to be assailed by crises too numerous to count. The worldwide crisis of authority provides proof enough. So grievous have been its abuses, and so deep the suspicion and resentment it now arouses, that the world is becoming increasingly ungovernable—a situation made all the more perilous by the weakening of community ties. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

February 12, 2016

The “rise in capacity to think in terms of process”

…a significant advance in culture, one which we have followed with particular interest, is marked by the rise in capacity to think in terms of process. That, from the outset, the believers have been asked to be ever conscious of the broad processes that define their work is apparent from a careful reading of even the earliest communications of the Guardian related to the first national plans of the Faith. However, in a world focused increasingly on the promotion of events, or at best projects, with a mindset that derives satisfaction from the sense of expectation and excitement they generate, maintaining the level of dedication required for long-term action demands considerable effort. The expansion and consolidation of the Bahá’í community encompasses a number of interacting processes, each of which contributes its share to the movement of humanity towards Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new World Order. The lines of action associated with any given process provide for the organization of occasional events, and from time to time, activities take the shape of a project with a clear beginning and a definite end. If, however, events are imposed on the natural unfoldment of a process, they will disrupt its sound evolution. If the projects undertaken in a cluster are not made subordinate to the explicit needs of the processes unfolding there, they will yield little fruit. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

February 11, 2016

“…principles… set forth in the writings of the Guardian” with respect to “the importance and nature of the teaching work among the masses” – summarized by the Universal House of Justice in 1967

  • “...the manner of the presentation of the teachings of the Faith;
  • the attitude that must govern those responsible for enrolling new believers;
  • the need to educate the newly enrolled Bahá'ís, to deepen them in the teachings and to wean them gradually away from their old allegiances;
  • the necessity of keeping a proper balance between expansion and consolidation; 
  • the significance of the participation of the native believers of each country in the teaching work and in the administration of the affairs of the community;
  • the formulation of budgets within the financial capabilities of the community;
  • the importance of fostering the spirit of self-sacrifice in the hearts of the friends; 
  • the worthy goal for each national community to become self-supporting;
  • the preferability of individuality of expression to absolute uniformity, within the framework of the Administrative Order; and
  • the lasting value of dedication and devotion when engaged in the teaching work." 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 11 May 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’) (To see the entire message please visit: Messages from the Universal House of Justice – to Baha’i Institutions)

February 10, 2016

“…a great unifying, cleansing force in the world…”

Put all your beliefs into harmony with science; there can be no opposition, for truth is one. When religion, shorn of its superstitions, traditions, and unintelligent dogmas, shows its conformity with science, then will there be a great unifying, cleansing force in the world which will sweep before it all wars, disagreements, discords and struggles—and then will mankind be united in the power of the Love of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, November 12, 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

February 8, 2016

Nurturing a supportive attitude towards “an intensive programme of growth”

Wherever an intensive programme of growth is established, let the friends spare no effort to increase the level of participation. Let them strain every nerve to ensure that the system which they have so laboriously erected does not close in on itself but progressively expands to embrace more and more people. Let them not lose sight of the remarkable receptivity they found—nay, the sense of eager expectation that awaited them—as they gained confidence in their ability to interact with people of all walks of life and converse with them about the Person of Bahá’u’lláh and His Revelation. Let them hold fast to the conviction that a direct presentation of the Faith, when carried out at a sufficient level of depth and reinforced by a sound approach to consolidation, can bring enduring results. And let them not forget the lessons of the past which left no doubt that a relatively small band of active supporters of the Cause, no matter how resourceful, no matter how consecrated, cannot attend to the needs of communities comprising hundreds, much less thousands, of men, women and children. The implications are clear enough. If, in a cluster, those shouldering responsibility for expansion and consolidation number in the tens, with a few hundred participating in the activities of community life, both figures should rise significantly so that by the end of the Plan, one or two hundred are facilitating the participation of one or two thousand. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 28 December 2010 addressed to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

February 5, 2016

The Pilgrim Path

This beautiful and majestic path, which extends from the Shrine of the Bab to the city of Haifa, in line with the greatest avenue of that blessed city, which is adorned with trees and verdant plants and illumined with bright lights, which is the object of the admiration of the people of this region and a source of joy and pride to the authorities in this land, will subsequently be converted, as foreshadowed by the Centre of the Covenant, into the Highway of the Kings and Rulers of the World.

These mighty embodiments of kingly power, humble pilgrims to the Sanctuary of the Lord, will upon their arrival in the Holy Land, first proceed to the Plain of ‘Akka, there to visit and circumambulate the Qiblih of the people of Baha, the Point around which circle in adoration the Concourse on High. They will then make their way to this august and venerated city, and climb the slopes of Mount Carmel. With the utmost rapture, ardor and devotion, they will hasten toward this Sacred Spot and, with reverence and submissiveness, humility and lowliness, ascend these terraces to approach the luminous precincts of the sanctified and holy Shrine. Reaching the threshold of the Sanctuary of Grandeur, they will cast their crowns upon the ground, prostrate themselves to kiss its fragrant earth and, circling around its hallowed arcade, call out ‘Here am I, here am I, O Thou Who art the Exalted, the Most Exalted One!’, and recite in tones of fervent supplication the perspicuous Verses of the Tablet of Carmel.

February 2, 2016

Habits of thought and tendencies affecting the “unfoldment of the global Plan” – cautioned by the Universal House of Justice

Apart from the spiritual requisites of a sanctified Bahá’í life, there are habits of thought that affect the unfoldment of the global Plan, and their development has to be encouraged at the level of culture. There are tendencies, as well, that need to be gradually overcome. Many of these tendencies are reinforced by approaches prevalent in society at large, which, not altogether unreasonably, enter into Bahá’í activity. The magnitude of the challenge facing the friends in this respect is not lost on us. They are called upon to become increasingly involved in the life of society, benefiting from its educational programmes, excelling in its trades and professions, learning to employ well its tools, and applying themselves to the advancement of its arts and sciences. At the same time, they are never to lose sight of the aim of the Faith to effect a transformation of society, remoulding its institutions and processes, on a scale never before witnessed. To this end, they must remain acutely aware of the inadequacies of current modes of thinking and doing—this, without feeling the least degree of superiority, without assuming an air of secrecy or aloofness, and without adopting an unnecessarily critical stance
towards society.