September 29, 2010

Present Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies are the same Houses of Justice referred to by Bahá'u'lláh

That the Spiritual Assemblies of today will be replaced in time by the Houses of Justice, and are to all intents and purposes identical and not separate bodies, is abundantly confirmed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself. He has in fact in a Tablet addressed to the members of the first Chicago Spiritual Assembly, the first elected Bahá'í body instituted in the United States, referred to them as the members of the "House of Justice" for that city, and has thus with His own pen established beyond any doubt the identity of the present Bahá'í Spiritual Assemblies with the Houses of Justice referred to by Bahá'u'lláh. For reasons which are not difficult to discover, it has been found advisable to bestow upon the elected representatives of Bahá'í communities throughout the world the temporary appellation of Spiritual Assemblies, a term which, as the position and aims of the Bahá'í Faith are better understood and more fully recognized, will gradually be superseded by the permanent and more appropriate designation of House of Justice.... (Shoghi Effendi, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 6; The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 41)

September 27, 2010

Baha’u’llah “chose for one of His names the title of The Poor One”

While Bahá’u’lláh was in Baghdád, still in possession of great wealth, He left all He had and went alone from the city, living two years among the poor. They were His comrades. He ate with them, slept with them and gloried in being one of them. He chose for one of His names the title of The Poor One and often in His Writings refers to Himself as Darvísh, which in Persian means poor; and of this title He was very proud. He admonished all that we must be the servants of the poor, helpers of the poor, remember the sorrows of the poor, associate with them; for thereby we may inherit the Kingdom of heaven. God has not said that there are mansions prepared for us if we pass our time associating with the rich, but He has said there are many mansions prepared for the servants of the poor, for the poor are very dear to God. The mercies and bounties of God are with them. The rich are mostly negligent, inattentive, steeped in worldliness, depending upon their means, whereas the poor are dependent upon God, and their reliance is upon Him, not upon themselves. Therefore, the poor are nearer the threshold of God and His throne. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, exerpt from a talk given by 'Abdu'l-Baha; The Promulgation of the Universal Peace, pp. 33-34) (To read the entire talk please visit Talks of 'Abdu'l-Baha)

September 22, 2010

Essential Requisites for Spiritual Growth

Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growth, and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:
1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

2. The regular reading of the Sacred Scriptures, specifically at least each morning and evening, with reverence, attention and thought.

3. Prayerful meditation on the Teachings, so that we may understand them more deeply, fulfil them more faithfully, and convey them more accurately to others.

4. Striving every day to bring our behaviour more into accordance with the high standards that are set forth in the Teachings.

5. Teaching the Cause of God.

6. Selfless service in the work of the Cause and in the carrying on of our trade or profession.

(Excerpt from a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Norway, dated 1 September 1983; The Universal House of Justice Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 587)

September 15, 2010

We need to show “real love and tolerance towards the ideas and customs of the people” and through “wise conduct and loving-kindness” remove “obstacles between them and the Truth”

Shoghi Effendi approves of your consideration for your husband. He hopes that through your wise conduct and loving-kindness to him, he will also gradually understand the significance of the Holy Cause. People are not naturally against the Truth. There are obstacles between them and the Truth. These obstacles must be wisely removed and then they surely will be attracted to the Cause. The magnet for this attraction is real love and tolerance towards the ideas and customs of the people. We must follow our Lord, 'Abdu'l-Baha, who taught us to be well-wishers of mankind disregarding religious and racial differences. Our love must be so spacious as to engulf the whole of the people of the world. With love and only with unlimited love we have been and will be able to conquer the hearts of the people and direct the current of their sentiments along the channel of the happiness of mankind and thus usher in the era of the regeneration of man. It is unlimited love which is the Elixir that turns the common metals of the human being into pure gold. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Messages to Canada, p. 11)

September 13, 2010

The Unique and Outstanding Shoghi Effendi

The unique and outstanding figure in the world today is Shoghi Effendi. Unique, because the guardianship of this great Cause is in his hands, and his humility, modesty, economy and self-effacement are monumental. Outstanding because he is the only person, we may safely say, who entrusted with the affairs of millions of souls, has but one thought and one mind -- the speedy promulgation of peace and good-will throughout the world. His personal life is absolutely and definitely sacrificed. The poorest boy in America struggling for an education would consider himself hardly used to have no more than those bare necessities which this young man voluntarily chooses for himself. The ladies of the household typify the Cause as Love and Faith. Shoghi Effendi adds to this the elan of the New Day, Action and Progress. (An excerpt from the Diary of Keith Ransom-Kehler, The Baha’i World, 1926-1928, p. 132)

September 10, 2010

How one should view world’s religious leaders and divines

Nor should it be thought for a moment that the followers of Bahá'u'lláh either seek to degrade or even belittle the rank of the world's religious leaders, whether Christian, Muslim, or of any other denomination, should their conduct conform to their professions, and be worthy of the position they occupy. "Those divines," Bahá'u'lláh has affirmed, "...who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and as eyes to the nations. The guidance of men hath, at all times, been and is dependent upon these blessed souls." And again: "The divine whose conduct is upright, and the sage who is just, are as the spirit unto the body of the world. Well is it with that divine whose head is attired with the crown of justice, and whose temple is adorned with the ornament of equity." And yet again: "The divine who hath seized and quaffed the most holy Wine, in the name of the sovereign Ordainer, is as an eye unto the world. Well is it with them who obey him, and call him to remembrance." "Great is the blessedness of that divine," He, in another connection, has written, "that hath not allowed knowledge to become a veil between him and the One Who is the Object of all knowledge, and who, when the Self-Subsisting appeared, hath turned with a beaming face towards Him. He, in truth, is numbered with the learned. The inmates of Paradise seek the blessing of his breath, and his lamp sheddeth its radiance over all who are in heaven and on earth. He, verily, is numbered with the inheritors of the Prophets. He that beholdeth him hath, verily, beheld the True One, and he that turneth towards him hath, verily, turned towards God, the Almighty, the All-Wise." "Respect ye the divines amongst you," is His exhortation, "They whose acts conform to the knowledge they possess, who observe the statutes of God, and decree the things God hath decreed in the Book. Know ye that they are the lamps of guidance betwixt earth and heaven. They that have no consideration for the position and merit of the divines amongst them have, verily, altered the bounty of God vouchsafed unto them." (Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 110)

September 8, 2010

Baha’i Administrative Order is unique in religious history

“… this Administrative Order is fundamentally different from anything that any Prophet has previously established, inasmuch as Bahá'u'lláh has Himself revealed its principles, established its institutions, appointed the person to interpret His Word and conferred the necessary authority on the body designed to supplement and apply His legislative ordinances. Therein lies the secret of its strength, its fundamental distinction, and the guarantee against disintegration and schism. Nowhere in the sacred scriptures of any of the world's religious systems, nor even in the writings of the Inaugurator of the Bábí Dispensation, do we find any provisions establishing a covenant or providing for an administrative order that can compare in scope and authority with those that lie at the very basis of the Bahá'í Dispensation.” (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 144)

September 2, 2010

The “oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of” the virtues of the human world

Consider the virtues of the human world and realize that the oneness of humanity is the primary foundation of them all. Read the Gospel and the other Holy Books. You will find their fundamentals are one and the same. Therefore, unity is the essential truth of religion and, when so understood, embraces all the virtues of the human world. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 32)