September 22, 2017

Teachers of the Cause of God – “they must attain to the station of rebirth”

As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth—that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the fetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliant ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablets of the Divine Plan’)

September 18, 2017

1995: Baha'i music institute in Vanuatu

Participants in an eight-day music institute on Tanna Island, Vanuatu, in January 1995, studied Baha'i Writings together, set passages from them to traditional music, and learned how to play guitar. (The Baha'i World 1994-1995)

September 16, 2017

Mothers and character training of children

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore it is incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits. Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá’)

September 14, 2017

A “few instances that eloquently testify to the unique” contributions that Baha’u’llah made during the early years of the Bábí Dispensation – summarized by the Guardian

The first incarceration to which He was subjected as a result of the helping hand He had extended to the captives of Qazvín; the ability with which He achieved the deliverance of Táhirih; the exemplary manner in which He steered the course of the turbulent proceedings in Badasht; the manner in which He saved the life of Quddús in Níyálá; the wisdom which He showed in His handling of the delicate situation created by the impetuosity of Táhirih, and the vigilance He exercised for her protection; the counsels which He gave to the defenders of the fort of Tabarsí; the plan He conceived of joining the forces of Quddús to those of Mullá Husayn and his companions; the spontaneity with which He arose to support the exertions of those brave defenders; the magnanimity which prompted Him to offer Himself as a substitute for His companions who were under the threat of severe indignities; the serenity with which He faced the severity inflicted upon Him as a result of the attempt on the life of Násiri’d-Dín Sháh; the indignities which were heaped upon Him all the way from Lavásán to the headquarters of the imperial army and from thence to the capital; the galling weight of chains which He bore as He lay in the darkness of the Síyáh-Chál of Tihrán—all these are but a few instances that eloquently testify to the unique position which He occupied as the prime Mover of the forces which were destined to reshape the face of His native land. It was He who had released these forces, who steered their course, harmonised their action, and brought them finally to their highest consummation in the Cause He Himself was destined at a later time to reveal. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dawn-Breakers’, by Nabil; translated and edited by Shoghi Effendi)

September 11, 2017

Social action within the context of cluster

In 2001, the Universal House of Justice introduced to the Bahá’í world the concept of a cluster—a geographic construct, generally defined as a group of villages or as a city with its surrounding suburbs, intended to assist in planning and implementing activities associated with community life. This step was made possible by the establishment of training institutes at the national and regional levels during the 1990s, which employed a system of distance education to reach large numbers with a sequence of courses designed to increase capacity for service. The House of Justice encouraged the Bahá’í world to extend this system progressively to more and more clusters in order to promote their steady progress, laying first the strong spiritual foundations upon which a vibrant community life is built. Efforts in a cluster were initially to focus on the multiplication of certain core activities, open to all of the inhabitants, but with a view to developing the collective capacity needed to address in due time various aspects of the social and economic life of the population as well.

September 7, 2017

Baha’is are called upon to become the “first servants of the realm of humanity, and the builders of the edifice of Divine Justice.”

O ye friends of God!

All the people of the world today are workmen of destruction or ruin. Everyone as though with an axe is striking at the root of the foundation of humanity. They hold in their hands great implements of warfare and destruction. Among the greatest is the axe of religious prejudices or sectarian bias, as well as that of racial bias; another implement of destruction is the axe of patriotic bias; another is the axe of political warfare; another implement of ruin is the persistent accumulation of commercial benefit or profit; another, the love of conquest of new domains, as is also the enmity, hatred and bigotry among the nations and tribes. These souls are entirely inadvertent to the relations of the Kingdom of God, deprived of the relations of Unity, and despaired of the Life Eternal. Although outwardly they may be extremely civilized, nevertheless they live in darkness.

Now, God has chosen you from among mankind, and has guided you to the Kingdom, has enlightened your hearts with the love of God, so that you may be the cause of guidance to these people, in order that you may become a cause of guidance to the world of humanity. He has appointed you as the builders of the edifice of true manhood. Consider with what a power of morals you must arise in order to withstand all vicissitudes. All these people, all these promoters as workers of warfare and ruin are spreading the deeds of hatred among nations. Now, consider with what peace and concord you must go forth in order that you may be capable of overcoming the antagonistic forces.

September 5, 2017

“…satan appears in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way”

Endeavour to your utmost to protect yourselves, because satan appears in different robes and appeals to everyone according to each person's own way, until he becomes like unto him (satan), then he will leave him alone… Be informed by these utterances and shun the manifestations of the people of hell... The greatest of degradation is to leave the Shadow of God and enter under the shadow of satan. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Cited in ‘Star of the West’, vol. XIII, pp. 20 to 22; printed in ‘The Power of Covenant, Part Two’, by the NSA of Canada)

The meaning of the symbolic terms used in this passage has been clarified by the Universal House of Justice: 

The references to Satan or The Evil One in Baha'i Scripture are symbolical and do not at all imply the existence of a personal devil. They symbolize the lower nature of man, the selfish promptings of his ego, and so forth. They are also used, sometimes, to symbolize the machinations of Covenant-breakers or the spirit of Covenant-breaking, and this is the sense of the quotation from the Words of Baha’u’llah on pages 20 to 22 of Volume XIII of The Star of the West. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated March 23, 1975 to an individual believer; printed in ‘The Power of Covenant, Part Two’, by the NSA of Canada)

September 4, 2017

Psychology “is still a very young and inexact science” - Bahá'í psychologists “to make great strides in the development of this science”

You are already a qualified practitioner in your field, and no doubt you give advice on the basis of what you have learned from study and experience – a whole fabric of concepts about the human mind, its growth, development and proper functioning, which you have learned and evolved without reference to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Now, as a Bahá'í, you know that what Bahá'u'lláh teaches about the purpose of human life, the nature of the human being and the proper conduct of human lives, is divinely revealed and therefore true. However, it will inevitably take time for you not only to study the Bahá'í teachings so that you clearly understand them, but also to work out how they modify your professional concepts. This is, of course, not an unusual predicament for a scientist. How often in the course of research is a factor discovered which requires a revolution in thinking over a wide field of human endeavour. You must be guided in each case by your own professional knowledge and judgement as illuminated by your growing knowledge of the Bahá'í teachings; undoubtedly you will find that your own understanding of the human problems dealt with in your work will change and develop and you will see new and improved ways of helping the people who come to you. Psychology is still a very young and inexact science, and as the years go by Bahá'í psychologists, who know from the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh the true pattern of human life, will be able to make great strides in the development of this science, and will help profoundly in the alleviation of human suffering. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 6 February 1973, published in "Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1968-1973"; the Compilation of Compilations, vol. III, Scholarship)

September 1, 2017

“...aims and ambitions” that each Baha’i should strive for - identified by ‘Abdu’l-Baha:

  • To show compassion and goodwill to all mankind.
  • To render service to humanity.
  • To endeavour to guide and enlighten those in darkness.
  • To be kind to everyone, and show forth affection to every living soul.
  • To be humble in your attitude towards God, to be constant in prayer to Him, so as to grow daily nearer to God.
  • To be so faithful and sincere in all your actions that every member may be known as embodying the qualities of honesty, love, faith, kindness, generosity, and courage.
  • To be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath—a divine soul; so that the world may know that a Bahá’í is a perfect being.  
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 6 November 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

August 30, 2017

The “central theme” of Baha’u’llah’s Dispensation

In every Dispensation the light of Divine Guidance has been focussed upon one central theme.... In this wondrous Revelation, this glorious century, the foundation of the Faith of God and the distinguishing feature of His Law is the consciousness of the Oneness of Mankind. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha (Quoted by Shoghi Effendi in ‘The World Order of Baha'u'llah’)

August 27, 2017

One’s pursuit of knowledge should lead to the Manifestation of God

If…the pursuit of knowledge leadeth to the beauty of Him Who is the object of all knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

August 23, 2017

“The sciences of today 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-Bahá; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Education)

August 20, 2017

How a meeting of a Baha’i Assembly could become “heavenly, celestial, godlike, illumined and the means of the guidance of the erring ones”

LSA of Winnipeg Canada, 1942
The members of the Baha’i Assemblies must be infinitely kind towards each other and all their deliberations must be concerning the Kingdom of Abha. Promiscuous discussion must be discountenanced, for these things will become the means of the luke-warmness and apathy of those who are present. The Candles of all the meetings must be the Mention of God, the propagation of the Cause of God, the exposition of Divine Proofs and the elucidation of the Principles of His Holiness Baha’u’llah. When this condition is obtained, the meeting will become heavenly, celestial, godlike, illumined and the means of the guidance of the erring ones. It will yield most great results. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 9, August 20, 1914)

August 18, 2017

Becoming more cognizant of our relationship to the Person of Baha’u’llah…

To remember Baha’u’llah’s days
  • “Remember My days during they days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison.” (Baha’u’llah, Tablet of Ahmad)
  • “…give hear unto My call and walk in My path. Remember, then, the days of My presence and then My exile, My solitude, and My imprisonment, that you may be remembered by God in His kingdom of sublime glory.” (Baha’u’llah, Súrat al-A’ráb [The Súrah of the Arabs], provisional translation)
“…the most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet”
Beloved Friends: Merely two years separate us from the conclusion of the Six Year Plan and the beginning at Ridvan 1992 of the Holy Year, that special time when we shall pause to appreciate the tumultuous record of events which will have brought us to the Centenary of the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and to reflect with due solemnity upon the redemptive purpose of the life of the most precious Being ever to have drawn breath on this planet. (The Universal House of Justice, Ridvan 1990 message to the Baha’is of the world)

August 17, 2017

The “most great ornament of the people of Bahá” - Trustworthiness

We will now mention unto thee Trustworthiness and the station thereof in the estimation of God, thy Lord, the Lord of the Mighty Throne. One day of days We repaired unto Our Green Island. Upon Our arrival, We beheld its streams flowing, and its trees luxuriant, and the sunlight playing in their midst. Turning Our face to the right, We beheld what the pen is powerless to describe; nor can it set forth that which the eye of the Lord of Mankind witnessed in that most sanctified, that most sublime, that blest, and most exalted Spot. Turning, then, to the left We gazed on one of the Beauties of the Most Sublime Paradise, standing on a pillar of light, and calling aloud saying: ‘O inmates of earth and heaven! Behold ye My beauty, and My radiance, and My revelation, and My effulgence. By God, the True One! I am Trustworthiness and the revelation thereof, and the beauty thereof. I will recompense whosoever will cleave unto Me, and recognize My rank and station, and hold fast unto My hem. I am the most great ornament of the people of Bahá, and the vesture of glory unto all who are in the kingdom of creation. I am the supreme instrument for the prosperity of the world, and the horizon of assurance unto all beings.’ Thus have We sent down for thee that which will draw men nigh unto the Lord of creation. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Epistle to the Son of the Wolf’)

August 14, 2017

To use the Hidden Words as a mirror...

‘Abdu’l-Bahá once said to me that we should use the Hidden Words as a mirror—comparing our actions and thoughts with what is there revealed—and if they did not match, so to speak, and fully reflect these Divine Counsels—then we must change our actions and conduct until they were in perfect harmony and agreement with these heavenly exhortations. 
- Ethel J. Rosenberg  (Included in a letter dated 12 April, 1927, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; ‘Messages to Canada’)

August 11, 2017

Baha’i Writings have “permeated the world” – the amazing benefits that one could receive from Them

Praise be to God that the spirit of the Holy Writings and tablets which have been revealed in this wondrous Dispensation concerning matters of major or minor importance, whether essential or otherwise, related to the sciences and the arts, to natural philosophy, literature, politics or economics, have so permeated the world that since the inception of the world in the course of past Dispensations and bygone ages nothing like it has ever been seen or heard. Indeed if an avowed follower of Bahá'u'lláh were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 13 January 1923 to the friends in Adhirbáyján; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith)

August 9, 2017

The significance of mentioning Baha’u’llah’s Name in our teaching activities

As to his question about the permissibility of promulgating the divine teachings without relating them to the Most Great Name, you should answer: "This blessed Name hath an effect on the reality of things. If these teachings are spread without identifying them with this holy Name, they will fail to exert an abiding influence in the world. The teachings are like the body, and this holy Name is like the spirit. It imparteth life to the body. It causeth the people of the world to be aroused from their slumber." 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha, (From a Tablet; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Guidelines for Teaching)

August 7, 2017

Holy Land - “the nest of all the Prophets of God,” “the Vale of God’s unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor”

… the Holy Land—the Land promised by God to Abraham, sanctified by the Revelation of Moses, honored by the lives and labors of the Hebrew patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, revered as the cradle of Christianity, and as the place where Zoroaster, according to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s testimony, had “held converse with some of the Prophets of Israel,” and associated by Islám with the Apostle’s night-journey, through the seven heavens, to the throne of the Almighty. Within the confines of this holy and enviable country, “the nest of all the Prophets of God,” “the Vale of God’s unsearchable Decree, the snow-white Spot, the Land of unfading splendor” was the Exile of Baghdád, of Constantinople and Adrianople His Mission. “It is difficult,” declares ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “to understand how Bahá’u’lláh could have been obliged to leave Persia, and to pitch His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution of His enemies, His banishment and exile.”

August 4, 2017

Baha’is must make a superhuman effort

One day during her [Jessie Revell] pilgrimage Shoghi Effendi invited her to stroll up Mount Carmel with him to visit the Shrine of the Bab. On that walk he said that the Baha’is must make a superhuman effort. Jessie often said there was something about the way the Guardian said ‘superhuman’ that engraved it for all time in her heart. 
- Ethel Revell  ('In Memoriam' section of 'The Baha’i World 1963-1968')

August 3, 2017

Expanding our vision – advice from ‘Abdu’l-Baha

O ye heavenly ones!

Organize ye spiritual assemblies. Lay ye the foundation of union and concord in this world. Destroy ye the fabric of strife and war from the face of the earth. Construct ye the temple of harmony and agreement. Enkindle ye the light of the realm of the oneness of humanity. Open ye your eyes. Gaze and behold ye the Other World. The Kingdom of Peace, Salvation, Uprightness and Reconciliation is founded in the Invisible World, and it will by degrees become manifest and apparent through the power of the Word of God. I supplicate God that ye may become the army of that Kingdom, in order that, by the power of the Most Great Name, the friends of God may conquer the world through love, friendship and the strength of the Kingdom of Peace, the human race may become compassionate, and bloodshed and carnage be completely effaced from the universe. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 5. No. 9, August 20, 1914)

July 30, 2017

The "Charter of the New World Order"

The Guardian would advise that in their studies of the Will and Testament the young believers should use the "Dispensation", which will undoubtedly help them considerably to grasp the full implications of that sacred and historic Document which he has described as the "Charter of the New World Order". 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 9 January 1939 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; Compilation by the Universal House of Justice: ‘The Importance of Deepening Our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith’)

July 28, 2017

Physical sensations are similar in human beings and animals

Briefly, it is not only their fellow human beings that the beloved of God must treat with mercy and compassion, rather must they show forth the utmost loving-kindness to every living creature. For in all physical respects, and where the animal spirit is concerned, the selfsame feelings are shared by animal and man. Man hath not grasped this truth, however, and he believeth that physical sensations are confined to human beings, wherefore is he unjust to the animals, and cruel.

And yet in truth, what difference is there when it cometh to physical sensations? The feelings are one and the same, whether ye inflict pain on man or on beast. There is no difference here whatever. And indeed ye do worse to harm an animal, for man hath a language, he can lodge a complaint, he can cry out and moan; if injured he can have recourse to the authorities and these will protect him from his aggressor. But the hapless beast is mute, able neither to express its hurt nor take its case to the authorities. If a man inflict a thousand ills upon a beast, it can neither ward him off with speech nor hale him into court. Therefore is it essential that ye show forth the utmost consideration to the animal, and that ye be even kinder to him than to your fellow man. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 26, 2017

Are there some to whom we should not show kindness?

O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind—except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 24, 2017

“The prime requisites for them that take counsel together”

The prime requisites for them that take counsel together are
  • purity of motive,
  • radiance of spirit,
  • detachment from all else save God,
  • attraction to His Divine Fragrances,
  • humility and lowliness amongst His loved ones,
  • patience and long-suffering in difficulties and
  • servitude to His exalted Threshold.
Should they be graciously aided to acquire these attributes, victory from the unseen Kingdom of Bahá shall be vouchsafed to them.... 
- `Abdu'l-Bahá  (Cited in a letter dated 5 March 1922 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada, published in ‘Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. I, Consultation)

July 22, 2017

"The most glorious fruit of the tree of knowledge..."

The most glorious fruit of the tree of knowledge is this exalted word: Of one tree are all ye the fruit, and of one bough the leaves. Let not man glory in this that he loveth his country, let him rather glory in this that he loveth his kind. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

July 19, 2017

Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members “do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems”

Assemblies sometimes misunderstand what is meant by the statement that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members are concerned with the teaching work and not with administration. It is taken to mean that they may not give advice on administrative matters. This is quite wrong. One of the things that Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members should watch and report on is the proper working of administrative institutions. The statement that they do not have anything to do with administration means, simply, that they do not administer. They do not direct or organize the teaching work nor do they adjudicate in matters of personal conflict or personal problems. All these activities fall within the sphere of responsibility of the Spiritual Assemblies. But if an Auxiliary Board member finds a Local Spiritual Assembly functioning incorrectly he should call its attention to the appropriate Texts; likewise if, in his work with the community, an Auxiliary Board member finds that the teaching work is being held up by inefficiency of national committees, he should report this in detail to the Counsellors who will then decide whether to refer it to the National Spiritual Assembly concerned. Similarly, if the Counsellors find that a National Spiritual Assembly is not functioning properly, they should not hesitate to consult with the National Spiritual Assembly about this in a frank and loving way. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 1 October 1969; ‘Messages from the Universal House of justice, 1963-1986’)

July 17, 2017

“The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today.”

The Faith of God is the sole source of salvation for mankind today. The true cause of the ills of humanity is its disunity. No matter how perfect may be the machinery devised by the leaders of men for the political unity of the world, it will still not provide the antidote to the poison sapping the vigour of present-day society. These ills can be cured only through the instrumentality of God's Faith. There are many well-wishers of mankind who devote their efforts to relief work and charity and to the material well-being of man, but only Baha'is can do the work which God most wants done. When we devote ourselves to the work of the Faith we are doing a work which is the greatest aid and only refuge for a needy and divided world. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a message dated 8 February 1970; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986’)

July 14, 2017

Conditions under which a Baha’i can defend his own life - the Universal House of Justice explains

From the texts you already have available it is clear that Bahá'u'lláh has stated that it is preferable to be killed in the path of God's good pleasure than to kill, and that organized religious attack against Bahá'ís should never turn into any kind of warfare, as this is strictly prohibited in our Writings.

A hitherto untranslated Tablet from 'Abdu'l-Bahá, however, points out that in the case of attack by robbers and highwaymen, a Bahá'í should not surrender himself, but should try, as far as circumstances permit, to defend himself, and later on lodge a complaint with the government authorities. In a letter written on behalf of the Guardian, he also indicates that in an emergency when there is no legal force at hand to appeal to, a Bahá'í is justified in defending his life. In another letter the Guardian has further pointed out that the assault of an irresponsible assailant upon a Bahá'í should be resisted by the Bahá'í, who would be justified, under such circumstances, in protecting his life.

The House of Justice does not wish at the present time to go beyond the guidelines given in the above-mentioned statements. The question is basically a matter of conscience, and in each case the Bahá'í involved must use his judgement in determining when to stop in self-defence lest his action deteriorate into retaliation. 
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 10 July 1969 to NSA of Canada; ‘Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

July 12, 2017

Transition of soul from this world to the next

O thou who hast eyes to see! That which thou didst witness is the very truth, and it pertaineth to the realm of vision.

The perfume is intimately commingled and blended with the bud, and once the bud hath opened the sweet scent of it is spread abroad. The herb is not without its fruit, although it seemeth so, for in this garden of God every plant exerteth its own influence and hath its own properties, and every plant can even match the laughing, hundred-petalled rose in rejoicing the sense with its fragrance. Be thou assured of this. Although the pages of a book know nothing of the words and the meanings traced upon them, even so, because of their connection with these words, friends pass them reverently from hand to hand. This connection, furthermore, is purest bounty.

When the human soul soareth out of this transient heap of dust and riseth into the world of God, then veils will fall away, and verities will come to light, and all things unknown before will be made clear, and hidden truths be understood.

Consider how a being, in the world of the womb, was deaf of ear and blind of eye, and mute of tongue; how he was bereft of any perceptions at all. But once, out of that world of darkness, he passed into this world of light, then his eye saw, his ear heard, his tongue spoke. In the same way, once he hath hastened away from this mortal place into the Kingdom of God, then he will be born in the spirit; then the eye of his perception will open, the ear of his soul will hearken, and all the truths of which he was ignorant before will be made plain and clear.

An observant traveller passing along a way will certainly recall his discoveries to mind, unless some accident befall him and efface the memory. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

July 9, 2017

The awesome station of the Báb

“I am the Primal Point,” the Báb thus addresses Muhammad Sháh from the prison-fortress of Máh-Kú, “from which have been generated all created things... I am the Countenance of God Whose splendor can never be obscured, the light of God whose radiance can never fade... All the keys of heaven God hath chosen to place on My right hand, and all the keys of hell on My left... I am one of the sustaining pillars of the Primal Word of God. Whosoever hath recognized Me, hath known all that is true and right, and hath attained all that is good and seemly... The substance wherewith God hath created Me is not the clay out of which others have been formed. He hath conferred upon Me that which the worldly-wise can never comprehend, nor the faithful discover.” “Should a tiny ant,” the Báb, wishing to stress the limitless potentialities latent in His Dispensation, characteristically affirms, “desire in this day to be possessed of such power as to be able to unravel the abstrusest and most bewildering passages of the Qur’án, its wish will no doubt be fulfilled, inasmuch as the mystery of eternal might vibrates within the innermost being of all created things.” “If so helpless a creature,” is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s comment on so startling an affirmation, “can be endowed with so subtle a capacity, how much more efficacious must be the power released through the liberal effusions of the grace of Bahá’u’lláh!” 
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’)

July 6, 2017

How one’s attitude and mindset should be towards God - Baha’u’llah teaches

Praise be unto Thee, Who art my God and the God of all men, and
  • my Desire and the Desire of all them that have recognized Thee, and
  • my Beloved and the Beloved of such as have acknowledged Thy unity, and
  • the Object of my adoration and of the adoration of them that have near access to Thee, and
  • my Wish and the Wish of such as are wholly devoted to Thee, and
  • my Hope and the Hope of them that have fixed their hearts upon Thee, and
  • my Refuge and the Refuge of all such as have hastened towards Thee, and
  • my Haven and the Haven of whosoever hath repaired unto Thee, and
  • my Goal and the Goal of all them that have set themselves towards Thee, and
  • my Object and the Object of those who have fixed their gaze upon Thee, and
  • my Paradise and the Paradise of them that have ascended towards Thee, and
  • my Lode-star and the Lode-star of all such as yearn after Thee, and
  • my Joy and the Joy of all them that love Thee, and
  • my Light and the Light of all such as have erred and asked to be forgiven by Thee, and
  • my Exultation and the Exultation of all them that remember Thee, and
  • my Stronghold and the Stronghold of all such as have fled to Thee, and
  • my Sanctuary and the Sanctuary of all that dread Thee, and
  • my Lord and the Lord of all such as dwell in the heavens and on the earth!
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah’)

July 3, 2017

True life is the life of the spirit

…true life is not the life of the flesh but the life of the spirit. For the life of the flesh is common to both men and animals, whereas the life of the spirit is possessed only by the pure in heart who have quaffed from the ocean of faith and partaken of the fruit of certitude. This life knoweth no death, and this existence is crowned by immortality. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘The Kitan-i-Iqan’)

June 30, 2017

Functions of Regional Bahá'í Councils – described by the Universal House of Justice

The functions of a Regional Bahá'í Council and the degree of authority conferred upon it are within the discretion of a National Spiritual Assembly. However, they should not be limited to those of a national or regional committee for, in such a case, there would be no justification for bringing into being a Regional Bahá'í Council rather than appointing a national or regional committee. The functions and responsibilities generally envisaged for a Regional Bahá'í Council are as follows:
  • 1. To carry out the policies of the National Spiritual Assembly and to supervise, on behalf of the National Assembly, the smooth and efficient execution of the plans and projects for its region.
  • 2. To keep the National Spiritual Assembly regularly informed of the Council's activities and of the conditions of the Faith throughout the region. Regional Bahá'í Councils are allowed to develop their own strategies and programmes, and to carry out their day-to-day work without having to obtain further approval from the National Spiritual Assembly. However, through their frequent reports and the minutes of their meetings, the National Assembly is kept informed of their activities and maintains its overall supervision of the affairs of the Cause in all parts of the country.
  • 3. To take initiative in the promotion of the Faith in the region and to carry out its decisions within the range of authority vested in it by the National Assembly. The National Assembly allows the Council a wide latitude for autonomous action, intervening in its work only in matters which the Assembly regards as being of major importance. The main task of a Regional Bahá'í Council is to devise and execute expansion and consolidation plans in close collaboration with the Local Spiritual Assemblies and the believers within its area of jurisdiction. Its goal is to create strong Local Spiritual Assemblies which will be the focal centres of Bahá'í activity, will exercise their vitally important role in the development of the Faith and will demonstrate their ability to regulate the affairs of their local communities.

June 25, 2017

Illnesses due to physical causes and those due to spiritual causes

Illnesses which occur by reason of physical causes should be treated by doctors with medical remedies; those which are due to spiritual causes disappear through spiritual means. Thus an illness caused by affliction, fear, nervous impressions, will be healed more effectively by spiritual rather than by physical treatment. Hence, both kinds of treatment should be followed; they are not contradictory. Therefore thou shouldst also accept physical remedies inasmuch as these too have come from the mercy and favour of God, Who hath revealed and made manifest medical science so that His servants may profit from this kind of treatment also. Thou shouldst give equal attention to spiritual treatments, for they produce marvellous effects. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

June 23, 2017

‘Abdu’l-Baha identifies the range of topics covered in His public Talks during His Travels

Notwithstanding my bodily weakness and infirmity, I have traveled East and West for the last three years. In every temple I cried out and before every audience I raised my voice for the enlistment of their sympathy. I declared the evils of war, and explained the benefits of Universal Peace. I elucidated the causes which lead to the honor and glory of the world of humanity, and told them of the ferocity and bloodthirstiness of the animal kingdom. I showed the defects of the world of nature and made an exposition of the means whereby the illumination of the world of humanity is fully realized. I unfolded and caused the appearance of the foundation of the divine religions, and proclaimed the teachings of His Holiness Baha’u’llah. I demonstrated the existence of God by irrefutable, rational proofs, and proved the validity of all the prophets of God. I gave utterance to my inmost conviction that the reality of the religion of God is the cause of the life of the world of humanity; it is divine civilization and pure enlightenment.

By the explanation of all these principles my object has been no other than the promotion of Universal Peace. Praise be to God that I found hearing ears, observed seeing eyes, and discovered informed hearts. Therefore, I am well pleased with this journey. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a Tablet to the Editor of the Christian Commonwealth, London, England, 1913; ‘Star of the West’, vol. 5, no. 8, August 1, 1914)

June 21, 2017

Baha’u’llah’s awesome reference to the Station of the Báb and His Own

Praise be unto God Who hath manifested the Point, hath unfolded therefrom the knowledge of all things, whether of the past or of the future—a Point He hath chosen to be the Herald of His Name and the Harbinger of His Great Revelation which hath caused the limbs of all mankind to quake and the splendour of His light to shine forth above the horizon of the world. Verily, this is the Point which God hath ordained to be an ocean of light for the sincere among His servants and a flame of fire to the froward amidst His creatures and the impious among His people… 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

June 18, 2017

Wisdom of facing Akka when reciting Obligatory Prayers

He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akká where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This is a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 24 June 1949 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)

June 12, 2017

The “two essential mediums” through which one “can ensure the development and progress” of her/his “inner spiritual life” as well as “outer existence”

His brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and of the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory, where you can translate into living and constructive action the principles which you imbibe from the Teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í Teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can ensure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith for ever burning in your heart! 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 2 November 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Youth)

June 8, 2017

The Soul of the Manifestation of God is “pre-existent”

The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The Soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 9, 1947; compilation: 'Lights of Guidance')

June 6, 2017

The two wings of humanity

The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly. Until womankind reaches the same degree as man, until she enjoys the same arena of activity, extraordinary attainment for humanity will not be realized; humanity cannot wing its way to heights of real attainment. When the two wings or parts become equivalent in strength, enjoying the same prerogatives, the flight of man will be exceedingly lofty and extraordinary. Therefore, woman must receive the same education as man and all inequality be adjusted. Thus, imbued with the same virtues as man, rising through all the degrees of human attainment, women will become the peers of men, and until this equality is established, true progress and attainment for the human race will not be facilitated. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, ’The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’; The Compilation of Compilations, Vol. II, Peace)

June 3, 2017

To remind ourselves that “though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace…”

Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Excerpt from a letter dated 14 November 1923 to the Baha’is throughout America, ‘Baha’i Administration’)

May 29, 2017

Human soul - after death, it “remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body”

As to the soul of man after death, it remains in the degree of purity to which it has evolved during life in the physical body, and after it is freed from the body it remains plunged in the ocean of God’s Mercy.

From the moment the soul leaves the body and arrives in the Heavenly World, its evolution is spiritual, and that evolution is: The approaching unto God.

In the physical creation, evolution is from one degree of perfection to another. The mineral passes with its mineral perfections to the vegetable; the vegetable, with its perfections, passes to the animal world, and so on to that of humanity. This world is full of seeming contradictions; in each of these kingdoms (mineral, vegetable and animal) life exists in its degree; though when compared to the life in a man, the earth appears to be dead, yet she, too, lives and has a life of her own. In this world things live and die, and live again in other forms of life, but in the world of the spirit it is quite otherwise.

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, November 3, 1911, Paris; ‘Paris Talks’)

May 24, 2017

The process of learning: --> Questions that must be addressed through exploration of the Writings of the Faith as well as through scientific analysis of patterns unfolding

Numerous, of course, are the questions that the process of learning, now under way in all regions of the world, must address:
  • how to bring people of different backgrounds together in an environment which, devoid of the constant threat of conflict and distinguished by its devotional character, encourages them to put aside the divisive ways of a partisan mindset, fosters higher degrees of unity of thought and action, and elicits wholehearted participation;
  • how to administer the affairs of a community in which there is no ruling class with priestly functions that can lay claim to distinction or privilege;
  • how to enable contingents of men and women to break free from the confines of passivity and the chains of oppression in order to engage in activities conducive to their spiritual, social and intellectual development;
  • how to help youth navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and become empowered to direct their energies towards the advancement of civilization;
  • how to create dynamics within the family unit that lead to material and spiritual prosperity without instilling in the rising generations feelings of estrangement towards an illusory "other" or nurturing any instinct to exploit those relegated to this category;
  • how to make it possible for decision making to benefit from a diversity of perspectives through a consultative process which, understood as the collective investigation of reality, promotes detachment from personal views, gives due importance to valid empirical information, does not raise mere opinion to the status of fact or define truth as the compromise between opposing interest groups.

May 22, 2017

One’s own ongoing spiritual growth and development while attempting to conduct meaningful conversations

“With greater and greater spiritual perception, they are able to sense receptivity and recognize thirst for the vivifying waters of Bahá’u’lláh’s message.” (The Universal House of Justice, 27 December 2005, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

“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.” (The Universal House of Justice, 29 Dec, 2015, to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors)

May 20, 2017

How to “become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light” – ‘Abdu’l-Baha explains

O Friends of the Pure and Omnipotent God! To be pure and holy in all things is an attribute of the consecrated soul and a necessary characteristic of the unenslaved mind. The best of perfections is immaculacy and the freeing of oneself from every defect. Once the individual is, in every respect, cleansed and purified, then will he become a focal centre reflecting the Manifest Light.

First in a human being’s way of life must be purity, then freshness, cleanliness, and independence of spirit. First must the stream bed be cleansed, then may the sweet river waters be led into it. Chaste eyes enjoy the beatific vision of the Lord and know what this encounter meaneth; a pure sense inhaleth the fragrances that blow from the rose gardens of His grace; a burnished heart will mirror forth the comely face of truth. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’)

May 15, 2017

Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – which ones form “a part of Bahá'í Scripture”?

The original of "Some Answered Questions" in Persian is preserved in the Holy Land; its text was read in full and corrected by ‘Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. Unfortunately, Abdu'l-Bahá did not read and authenticate all transcripts of His other talks, some of which have been translated into various languages and published. For many of His addresses included in "The Promulgation of Universal Peace" and "Paris Talks", for example, no original authenticated text has yet been found. However, the Guardian allowed such compilations to continue to be used by the friends. In the future each talk will have to be identified and those which are unauthenticated will have to be clearly distinguished from those which form a part of Bahá'í Scripture. This does not mean that the unauthenticated talks will have to cease to be used -- merely that the degree of authenticity of every document will have to be known and understood. (From a letter dated 23 March 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice included in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 28 March 1996 attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 22 October, 1996)

May 10, 2017

An example of how the wishes of the Manifestation of God are carried out regardless of physical obstacles: --> Baha’u’llah decides to send Táhirih to Khurásán

A few days after Táhirih’s arrival at Tihrán, [circa 1848] Bahá’u’lláh decided to send her to Khurásán in the company of the believers who were preparing to depart for that province. He too had determined to leave the capital and take the same direction a few days later. He accordingly summoned Áqáy-i-Kalím and instructed him to take immediately the necessary measures to ensure the removal of Táhirih, together with her woman attendant, Qanitih, to a place outside the gate of the capital, from whence they were, later on, to proceed to Khurásán. He cautioned him to exercise the utmost care and vigilance lest the guards who were stationed at the entrance of the city, and who had been ordered to refuse the passage of women through the gates without a permit, should discover her identity and prevent her departure.

I [Nabil] have heard Áqáy-i-Kalím recount the following:

April 30, 2017

One’s “good works should proceed from knowledge”

Pleasing and acceptable as is a righteous person before God's Holy Threshold, yet good works should proceed from knowledge. However matchless and exquisite may be a blind man's handiwork, yet he himself is deprived of seeing it. How sorely do certain animals labour on man's behalf, what loads they bear for him, how greatly they contribute to his ease and comfort; and yet, because they are unwitting, they earn no recompense for all their pains. The clouds rain down their bounty, nurturing the plants and flowers, and imparting verdure and enchantment to the plain and prairie, the forest and the garden; but yet, unconscious as they are of the results and fruit of their outpourings, they win no praise or honour, nor earn the gratitude and approbation of any man. The lamp imparteth light, but as it hath no consciousness of doing so, no one is indebted to it. This apart, a man of righteous deeds and goodly conduct will assuredly turn towards the Light, in whichever quarter he behold it. The point is this, that faith compriseth both knowledge and the performance of good works. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (A revised translation of a Tablet in ‘Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, vol. 3, p. 549’; included in a Memorandum from the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice, dated 28 March 1996 attached to a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, dated 22 October, 1996)

April 27, 2017

A PowerPoint presentation of some teachings of the Baha’i Faith

This document was used along with some background instrumental music, as part of the First Day Ridvan celebration in one community. Readers were assigned for some quotes to make the experience more interactive.

April 26, 2017

Helping the needy

Regarding the question you raised: in the first place every believer is free to follow the dictates of his own conscience as regards the manner in which he should spend his own money. Secondly, we must always bear in mind that there are so few Bahá'ís in the world, relative to the world's population, and so many people in need, that even if all of us gave all we had, it would not alleviate more than an infinitesimal amount of suffering. This does not mean we must not help the needy, we should; but our contributions to the Faith are the surest way of lifting once and for all time the burden of hunger and misery from mankind, for it is only through the System of Bahá'u'lláh — Divine in origin — that the world can be gotten on its feet and want, fear, hunger, war, etc., be eliminated. Non-Bahá'ís cannot contribute to our work or do it for us; so really our first obligation is to support our own teaching work, as this will lead to the healing of the nations. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 8 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 210, August 1948; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Baha’i Funds and Contributions)

April 23, 2017

Baha'u'llah delineates “the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs” of humanity

Whilst in the Prison of Akká, We revealed in the Crimson Book that which is conducive to the advancement of mankind and to the reconstruction of the world. The utterances set forth therein by the Pen of the Lord of creation include the following which constitute the fundamental principles for the administration of the affairs of men:

First: It is incumbent upon the ministers of the House of Justice to promote the Lesser Peace so that the people of the earth may be relieved from the burden of exorbitant expenditures. This matter is imperative and absolutely essential, inasmuch as hostilities and conflict lie at the root of affliction and calamity.

Second: Languages must be reduced to one common language to be taught in all the schools of the world.

Third: It behoveth man to adhere tenaciously unto that which will promote fellowship, kindliness and unity.

Fourth: Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

Fifth: Special regard must be paid to agriculture. Although it hath been mentioned in the fifth place, unquestionably it precedeth the others...

April 20, 2017

Meaning of self-sacrifice...

Regarding the questions you asked: self has really two meanings, or is used in two senses, in the Bahá'í writings; one is self, the identity of the individual created by God. This is the self mentioned in such passages as "he hath known God who hath known himself", etc. The other self is the ego, the dark, animalistic heritage each one of us has, the lower nature that can develop into a monster of selfishness, brutality, lust and so on. It is this self we must struggle against, or this side of our natures, in order to strengthen and free the spirit within us and help it to attain perfection.

Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more godly and noble side of our selves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 10 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

April 17, 2017

Imitations and superstitions have obscured the Reality of Divine Religion

...humanity is submerged so utterly in imitations, although the Reality of Divine Religion is ever the same. Most regrettable is it that superstitions have obscured the Reality, so that the world has become darkened and the illumination of Religion is not apparent. This darkness is conducive to differences because dogmas and rites are various and have become the cause of discord between the religious systems whereas Religion is for the unification of mankind. Religion is the cause of love amongst men, the cause of amity, the cause of the acquisition of praiseworthy qualities, but people have become submerged in the sea of imitation, and holding to these counterfeits, are utterly negligent of the Reality which unifies and are bereft of the radiance of Religion. They are holding to superstitions which are a heritage from their fathers and ancestors. To the extent that these imitations have caused darkness, they have taken away the light of Religion. That which was meant to be conducive of life has become conducive of death; that which was an evidence of knowledge has become a proof of ignorance; that which was a factor in the sublimity of human nature has proved to be a cause of its degradation. Therefore, the realm of the religionist has gradually disappeared and become darkened and the world of the materialist has daily advanced. For that which the former held to was no other than counterfeit or imitation, while holiness and sacred Reality of Religion was neglected and discarded.

April 13, 2017

Aims and ambitions of Bahá'ís...

  • Pity and good-will towards all mankind.
  • The rendering of service to humanity.
  • To guide and enlighten hearts.
  • Each member must try to be kind to everyone and to show forth great affection towards every living soul.
  • Humility towards God and constant prayer to Him so as to be enabled to grow daily "Nearer God".
  • Always in every word and action to be faithful and sincere, so that each member may be known to the world as embodying the qualities of Sincerity, Faith, Kindness, Love, Generosity and Bravery. That we may be detached from all that is not God, attracted by the Heavenly Breath, divine beings - so that the world may know that a Bahá'í is a perfect being.
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Notes of words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, 6 November 1911, Paris, France: compilation: ‘Discourses of ‘Abdu’l-Baha in London and Paris’; Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 19, March 2, 1912)

April 11, 2017

The Pathway of Religion…

The… pathway… of religion… is the pathway of the Divine realm. It involves the acquisition of praiseworthy attributes in the world of humanity, heavenly radiance and commendable actions. This pathway is conducive to the progress and upliftment of the world. It is the source of the illumination of the world of humanity; the cause of human training and ethical improvement. It is the magnet which attracts the love of God, because of the knowledge of God it bestows. This is the foundation of the Holy Manifestations of God, for they are in reality the foundation of the Divine Religion of Oneness. There is no change or transformation in this pathway. It is the cause of human betterment, the acquisition of heavenly virtues, and illumination of human kind. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (From a talk, June 9, 1912, Baptist Temple, Philadelphia; Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 7, July 13, 1914)

April 9, 2017

"What is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly"?

The first Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly in Samoa, 1957
In reply to your letter of July 14th asking guidance as to what is a functioning Local Spiritual Assembly, we offer you the following comments:

Local Spiritual Assemblies are at the present newly-born institutions, struggling for the most part to establish themselves both in the Bahá'í community and in the world. They are as yet only embryos of the majestic institutions ordained by Bahá'u'lláh in His Writings This is also true of National Spiritual Assemblies. In the following passage written by the Secretary of the Guardian on his behalf this point is elucidated:

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."

April 5, 2017

Our “vain imaginations have been split asunder” by the “most exalted Word” of God brought to humanity by Baha’u’llah

Do Thou, then, ordain for them that which Thou didst ordain for Thy chosen ones and for the righteous among Thy creatures, whose constancy in Thy Cause the tempests of trials have failed to shake, and whom the tumults of tests have been powerless to hinder from magnifying Thy most exalted Word—the Word through Which the heavens of men’s idle fancies and vain imaginations have been split asunder. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the All-Glorious, the All-Knowing. 
- Baha’u’llah  (Extract from a prayer; ‘Prayers and meditations by Baha’u’llah’) 

April 2, 2017

Divinity can only be approached through the Manifestations of God – a brief compilation by Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan

The Báb has stated in the Persian Bayan:

“Verily, whatsoever hath been revealed by God about attaining His presence or that of the Lord, is intended to be a reference to none other than Him Whom God shall make manifest [Bahá’u’lláh] inasmuch as God Himself cannot be seen.” (III, 7.)

“Whatsoever hath been mentioned in the Holy Books about attainment unto His Presence, referreth to the Presence of Him Who appeareth in His Manifestation; that is, He Who is the Point of Truth, Who is and hath been the Primal Will. (ibid.)

“And those people whom thou seest calling upon God, and who, between themselves and God, think of themselves as virtuous, are, one and all, lost in the realms of their idle fancies and vain imaginings. They call upon One Who is unknown to them. (The Báb, Kitáb-i-Panj-Sha'n)

And the Blessed Beauty has said:

March 27, 2017

“one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith”

Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, but the one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can.

The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives. 
- Shoghi Effendi   (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

March 18, 2017

Prayer for Assistance - “each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord”

1920 -- Boring commenced at the 
site of Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, Chicago
O God! O God! I implore Thee with throbbing heart and streaming tears, to aid each one who endeavors for the erection of the House of the Lord (Mashriqu’l-Adhkar), the Building wherein Thy Name is mentioned every morn and eve. Send down Thy benediction on whomsoever endeavors for the uprising of this Edifice among the sects and religions, and confirm him in every good deed of mankind; open the doors of riches and wealth unto him and make him an inheritor of the treasures of the Kingdom which perish not; make him the sign of giving among the peoples and reinforce him by the sea of Thy generosity and bounty, which is surging with the waves of grace and favor.

Verily, Thou art the Generous, the Merciful and the Bountiful!

‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 5, no. 5, June 5, 1914)

March 14, 2017

To “realize our imperfection”

We must realize our imperfection and not permit ourselves to get too upset over the unfortunate things which occur, sometimes in Conventions, sometimes in Assemblies or on Committees, etc. Such things are essentially superficial and in time will be outgrown. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 17 March 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)