September 28, 2017

“…mental faculties... are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul...”

Now concerning mental faculties, they are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul, even as the radiation of light is the essential property of the sun. The rays of the sun are renewed but the sun itself is ever the same and unchanged. Consider how the human intellect develops and weakens, and may at times come to naught, whereas the soul changeth not. For the mind to manifest itself, the human body must be whole; and a sound mind cannot be but in a sound body, whereas the soul dependeth not upon the body. It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free. The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehendeth, whereas the soul is free from all agencies. The soul as thou observest, whether it be in sleep or waking, is in motion and ever active. Possibly it may, whilst in a dream, unravel an intricate problem, incapable of solution in the waking state. The mind, moreover, understandeth not whilst the senses have ceased to function, and in the embryonic stage and in early infancy the reasoning power is totally absent, whereas the soul is ever endowed with full strength. In short, the proofs are many that go to show that despite the loss of reason, the power of the soul would still continue to exist. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablet to August Forel’)

September 25, 2017

What is love?

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

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’)