January 31, 2019

“The people of Bahá”: some of their attributes

The people of Bahá, under the jurisdiction of whatsoever state or government they may be residing, should conduct themselves with honesty and sincerity, trustworthiness and rectitude. ...  They are neither thirsty for prominence, nor acquisitive of power; they are neither adepts at dissimulation and hypocrisy, nor are they seekers after wealth and influence; they neither crave for the pomp and circumstance of high office, nor do they lust after the glory of titles and ranks.  They are averse to affectation and ostentation, and shrink from the use of coercive force; they have closed their eyes to all but God, and set their hearts on the firm and incontrovertible promises of their Lord ...  Oblivious to themselves, they have occupied their energies in working towards the good of society ...  While vigilantly refusing to accept political posts, they should wholeheartedly welcome the chance to assume administrative positions; for the primary purpose of the people of Baha is to advance the interests and promote the welfare of the nation ...  Such is the method of the Baha'is; such is the conduct of all spiritually illuminated souls; and aught else is manifest error." 
- Shoghi Effendi  (Translation of an excerpt quoted in an open letter from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Iran about the Banning of the Baha'i Administration; included in Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-1986’)

January 29, 2019

The awesome experience of being in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – a pilgrim explains

It is an amazing experience when one first meets ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Many have tried to express it; many have partially expressed it. Some, though feeling deeply, cannot express it at all. What the Master says so simply,—seemingly, as it strikes the ear, if it reaches the inner being, contains ever-deepening truths. One marvels at the beauty and wisdom, and at the dulness of the surface consciousness of the merely human.

The first meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá never startles. It thrills one with a new sense of vitality. It quickens. It is healing. It recalls: "He cometh with healing in His wings." It is penetrative. One cannot possibly remain the same as before the meeting, because the Divine Ray has touched the creature and somehow, somewhere, some time, the creature will know. 

In this day electricity is the agent used to restore weakened vitality and most successful are some results reported. To my spirit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is a new discovery in Spiritual Science. He is pure Radium. His Spirit is the Spirit of Light, of life in the highest degree. It is creative. A new energy radiates from Him to the recipient and makes him vital and alive. Blessed is the one who has been treated with this Divine Current. 
- Marie A. Watson  (‘My Pilgrimage to the Holy Land’)

January 24, 2019

Implications of “a chaste and holy life”

Such a chaste and holy life, with its implications of
  • modesty,
  • purity,
  • temperance,
  • decency, and
  • clean-mindedness,
  • involves no less than
    • the exercise of moderation in
      • all that pertains to dress,
      • language,
      • amusements, and
      • all artistic and literary avocations.
  • It demands daily vigilance in the control of one's carnal desires and corrupt inclinations.
  • It calls for the abandonment of a frivolous conduct, with its excessive attachment to trivial and often misdirected pleasures.
  • It requires total abstinence from all alcoholic drinks, from opium, and from similar habit-forming drugs.
  • It condemns
    • the prostitution of art and of literature,
    • the practices of nudism and of
    • companionate marriage,
    • infidelity in marital relationships, and
    • all manner
      • of promiscuity,
      • of easy familiarity, and
      • of sexual vices....
- Shoghi Effendi  (‘The Advent of Divine Justice’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, A Chase and Holy Life)

January 22, 2019

Potential of nineteen-day Feast

Thou hast written ... concerning the Feast. This festivity, which is held on a day of the nineteen-day month, was established by His Holiness the Báb, and the Blessed Beauty directed, confirmed and warmly encouraged the holding of it. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance. You should unquestionably see to it with the greatest care, and make its value known, so that it may become solidly established on a permanent basis. Let the beloved of God gather together and associate most lovingly and spiritually and happily with one another, conducting themselves with the greatest courtesy and self-restraint. Let them read the holy verses, as well as essays which are of benefit, and the letters of ‘Abdu'l-Bahá; encourage and inspire one another to love each and all; chant the prayers with serenity and joy; give eloquent talks, and praise the matchless Lord. The host, with complete self-effacement, showing kindness to all, must be a comfort to each one, and serve the friends with his own hands. If the Feast is befittingly held, in the manner described, then this supper will verily be the Lord's Supper, for its fruits will be the very fruits of that Supper, and its influence the same. 
- 'Abdu'l-Bahá  (From a Tablet to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Nineteen Day Feast)

January 20, 2019

“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. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘Tablet to August Forel’)

January 17, 2019

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s household – as noted by a Western Baha’i in 1921

The Master's household numbers more than a hundred persons, not counting the children of the believers and His own grandchildren. How wonderfully significant, as an example to the world, is this living service so cheerfully given by each member of the family! There is such harmony and unity in this household, where all the machinery of every-day life is carried on without a break. Every emergency is provided for; unexpected visitors are always entertained with a composure and sincerity unbelievable unless witnessed day after day as I saw it. Where in this wide world could a parallel be found, even approximate to this? No complaint, no friction amidst a variety of temperaments and of different stations in life. It is a garden of variegated flowers growing in the utmost loveliness! The contrast to family life in the outside world is so great that the observer marvels, and the conviction deepens that here is a miracle of miracles that only love, spiritual love, could make possible. 
- Marie A. Watson  (‘My Pilgrimage to the Holy Land’)

January 16, 2019

1953: Baha’i delegation met with India’s Vice-President

Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, with some members of the Baha'i delegation, New Delhi, October 5, 1953 
(The Baha’i World 1950-1954)

January 14, 2019

Baha’u’llah identifies “the cornerstone of statesmanship and the essence thereof”

The Great Being saith: The heaven of statesmanship is made luminous and resplendent by the brightness of the light of these blessed words which hath dawned from the dayspring of the Will of God: It behoveth every ruler to weigh his own being every day in the balance of equity and justice and then to judge between men and counsel them to do that which would direct their steps unto the path of wisdom and understanding. This is the cornerstone of statesmanship and the essence thereof. From these words every enlightened man of wisdom will readily perceive that which will foster such aims as the welfare, security and protection of mankind and the safety of human lives. Were men of insight to quaff their fill from the ocean of inner meanings which lie enshrined in these words and become acquainted therewith, they would bear witness to the sublimity and the excellence of this utterance. If this lowly one were to set forth that which he perceiveth, all would testify unto God’s consummate wisdom. The secrets of statesmanship and that of which the people are in need lie enfolded within these words. This lowly servant earnestly entreateth the One true God—exalted be His glory—to illumine the eyes of the people of the world with the splendour of the light of wisdom that they, one and all, may recognize that which is indispensable in this day. 
- Baha’u’llah  (‘Tablets of Baha’u’llah revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas’)

January 11, 2019

To “become 100 percent Bahá'ís”

Indeed if the friends could seek, and exert themselves, to become 100 percent Bahá'ís they would see how greatly their influence over others would be increased, and how rapidly the Cause would spread. The world is seeking not a compromise but the embodiment of a high and shining ideal. The more the friends live up to our teachings in every aspect of their lives, in their homes, in business, in their social relationships, the greater will be the attraction they exercise over the hearts of others. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated 23 January 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. II, Living the Life)

January 9, 2019

A task every Baha’i should “concentrate on”

We must concentrate
  • on perfecting our characters as individual Baha'is, and
  • on maturing our still embryonic, and as yet improperly understood World Order,
  • on spreading the Message, according to the provisions of the Divine Plan; and
  • on building a tightly knit worldwide Baha'i Community.
We are relatively few in numbers, and have such a precious, unique and responsible task to carry out. We must concentrate our full forces upon it. 
- Shoghi Effendi  (From a letter dated May 9, 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and Canada; Compilation of Compilations vol. 2)

January 6, 2019

Baha’u’llah is “the Primal Veil of God” – The Báb explains

Say, He Whom God shall make manifest is indeed the Primal Veil of God. Above this Veil ye can find nothing other than God, while beneath it ye can discern all things emanating from God. He is the Unseen, the Inaccessible, the Most Exalted, the Best-Beloved.

If ye seek God, it behooveth you to seek Him Whom God shall make manifest, and if ye cherish the desire to dwell in the Ark of Names, ye will be distinguished as the guides to Him Whom God shall make manifest, did ye but believe in Him. Verily then make your hearts the daysprings of His exalted Names as recorded in the Book, and ye shall, even as mirrors placed before the sun, be able to receive enlightenment. 
- The Báb  (From Kitáb-i-Asmá’ [The Book of Names]; ‘Selections from the Writings of the Báb’)

January 4, 2019

Rendering into simple English quotes from the Writings in English

The Universal House of Justice, in response to your letter of 20 April concerning translations into French or Creole using simpler words than the original text, has requested us to send the following three quotations. These make it clear that a quotation in English may be rendered into simple English in order to facilitate its translation into another language or dialect. However, it is not permissible to publish simplifications and paraphrased extracts of Bahá'í Writings as Bahá'í Scripture.

We have noticed a tendency in a number of countries to attempt to translate Bahá'í literature into the current, easy, everyday language of the country. This, however, should not be an overriding consideration. Many of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá are in exalted and highly poetic language in the original Persian and Arabic and you will see, for example, that when translating Bahá'u'lláh's Writings into English the beloved Guardian did not use present-day colloquial English but evolved a highly poetic and beautiful style, using numbers of archaic expressions reminiscent of the translations of the Bible.  
- The Universal House of Justice  (From a letter dated 7 October 1973 to a National Spiritual Assembly; compilation: ‘Lights of Guidance’)

January 2, 2019

To view our hearts as “the treasuries of His [God’s] love and remembrance and the repositories of His knowledge and wisdom”

That which God — glorified be His Name! —hath desired for Himself is the hearts of His servants, which are the treasuries of His love and remembrance and the repositories of His knowledge and wisdom. It hath ever been the wish of the Eternal King to cleanse the hearts of His servants from the things of the world and all that pertaineth thereunto, that they may be made worthy recipients of the effulgent splendours of Him Who is the King of all names and attributes.  Wherefore must no stranger be allowed in the city of the heart, that the incomparable Friend may enter His abode. By this is meant the effulgence of His names and attributes, and not His exalted Essence, inasmuch as that peerless King hath ever been, and shall eternally remain, sanctified above ascent and descent. 
- Baha'u'llah  (Tablet to Nasiri’d-Din Shah, Suriy-i-Haykal [Tablet of Temple]; ‘The Summons of the Lord of Hosts’)