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Notes from a pilgrimage in 1952.
See obituary of Nellie French, 1868-1959, in Bahá'í World, Volume 12, p. 699.

This is a "Pilgrim's note," an individual's recollection of statements and actions of the Central figures. They are subjective and not authoritative. See an overview of Pilgrim's Notes.

Pilgrim's Notes

by Nellie French

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Pilgrim Notes — Mrs. N. French 4/21/52

The spirit of the Cause is not enough. We need the institutions. The institutions are the embodiment of the spirit of the Cause, the channel thru which the spirit flows. Any idea, any work .... of education, religion, social life .... will never be effective in the world unless it is translated into an institution: For example, education.... it will never have its influence felt upon society unless the idea of education is incarnated in an institution or college. So with everything else. An ideal must be translated into an institution; and the Bahá'í Faith, which is primarily a powerful spirit in the world, must be embodied in an institution, incorporate itself in an institution ... if it is to exert its power in the world. We must recognize the station of Bahá'u'lláh , the Bab, and the Master, and at the same time recognize the necessity of institutions thru which the spirit of these three central figures is flowing .... guiding, preserving and promoting.

These institutions have not been established by us. They have been established by the Founder of the Faith Himself. That is why we are essentually different from the Christian Church. Because we have institutions and they have institutions ... we call it assembly, they call it church. If they say, "you are doing the same thing we are doing," we say, "yours was man-made, ours is divinely appointed." Not established by the Master in the Will, nor announced by the Bab; but provided for and established by Bahá'u'lláh in the Most Holy Book....the Book of Laws. This is the fundamental difference between our institutions and the institutions belonging to all other religions. They are essentially man-made. Ours are divinely appointed. But always remember these are a means to an end. We have to utilize these institutions for a purpose. Our purpose is the carry out the Divine Plan of the Master.

We had to wait ever since the Master revealed these tablets. 1915, 1916, 1917 ..... twenty years, until the administrative order was sufficiently established and beginning to function in order to utilize them for this purpose. The Master gave instructions to the American Believers to establish the Cause throughout the world.... the Divine Plan ... a few years before He passed away. In those days we didn't have the means. A few individuals were working. Martha Root started on her travels, Mr. and Mrs. Dunn went from Calif. to Australia; you and Imogene went to Italy, but all on an individual basis.... not organized, not systematic, not continuous; more or less spasmodic, purely on an individual basis. It was not directed twoards an definite plan .. so unlike the present plans the Bahá'ís have formulated throughout the world.... different plans... National Assemblies have each their own plan.

When the Master passed away, the first thing we did was establsih the Administrative Order, establish local assemblies, national assemblies. He saw the House of Justice would be established eventually.

Then we started along and laborious task of raising the structure of the Administrative Order. It took us two decades ... twenty years to do that. As the work progressed some of the Bahá'ís began to wonder whether that was going to be the sole concern of the Bahá'ís... to establish these institutions. Some began to doubt, some to citicize. Ahmad Sohrab entirely misunderstood our purpose, for the simple reason that I asked the Bahá'ís to think of nothing else but building these institutions that were to be the means in our hands to achieve a purpose later on. It took us twenty years to establish two stages of this administrative order ....local and national assemblies. When the local and national assemblies were established and were beginning to finction, then I directed the attention of the Bahá'ís to the purpose for which these institutions had been created and were being perfected. For two decades ... and then the Divine Plan of the Master. The first part in the plan, the Amercas... Latin Americ, So. America, Canada. The second stage in Europe (then I think he said... both Latin America to achieve what was established, and then in Europe). Now we have started in Africa. That is why the Cause is progressing so rapidly. In Switzerland, as you know, Mrs. Lynch worked, and labored for years.... not on a sound basis, not organized. It could not be,

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the time was not ripe. The same thing in Denmark (?) Worked fifty years in England, but as soon as local assemblies were formed, National assemblies were formed ... then they began to formulate their own plans. All the attention of the British believers was concentrated on their plan. Then it began to progress. It took 50 years to establish two assemblies.. but in five years they established 19 assemblies... not only in England, but in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Representatives from France will attend the Stockholm Conference. At that conference they will consider ways of spreading the Cause in the remaining countries of Europe and the Islands. (then, I think he said.... Germany, Persia and ten goal countries will collabrate in arranging a campaing in Russia.)

Two fundamental reasons why the Cause is progressing: 1. establishment of institutions being used for that purpose. We have fashioned the instrument, we have erected the instrument. 2. We are utilizing these instruments for a definite purpose which is the Divine Plan revealed by the Master. It is the power behind that plan, the potency of that plan and the instrument we are using.

In the early days the Cause did not progress rapidly, because we had no instruments, nor had we any definite plan to carry out the instructions of the Master, Lsa's. Nat'l. Assemblies, schools....Ahmad Sohrab made a great mistake. He saw us fashioning instruments and he thought we considered that a means in itself. He misunderstood our purpose. Now he is beginning to realize our purpose was to perfect the instrument, in order to use it for a definite purpose.

Love of the Master is not enough. We must have deep FAITH. Three things we must remember ...Faith, the Covenant, the Administration. The Covenant is the child of the Faith. The Administrative order is the child of the covenant.

We have to explain the Center of the Faith is a mystery. We must admit the Master is a mystery... Bahá'u'lláh called him "The Mystery of God", we must never hope to unravel that mystery. We admit he is a mystery. The mystery is that he is not a Prophet, we cannot claim for him the station of a Prophet. (Then I think he said, "The Prophet is pre-existent"). The Master has the quality of perfection, but he is not a prophet of God. The Master's station is between Prophet and Guardians. God, Holy Spirit, Prophet and Successor. God (Father), Prophet (Son), Apostles and Holy Spirit. Allah (Prophet) Messenger of God, Imams. God, Bahá'u'lláh, Guardians. but in addition we have something which other relgions do not possess... Institutions of Center of Covenant. He stands between Prophet and Guardians. Mystery because he shares not in nature of the Manifestation — perfect but not divine... that is why... a MYSTERY....Abdu'l-Bahá all knowing, but not a Prophet of God.

What is really new in the Bahá'í Faith is its teachings. These are unique. If they ask us which, we say, "The Unity of Mankine"...Absolutely NEW. Nothing like it in the teachings of previous religions. We must explain the unity of Mankind. There is a passage in the writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. In previous religions it was not possible to teach such a thing because the world was not ready on a world scale. The Prophets of God in the past stressed amity, concord, but They did not stress the idea of the unity of mankind. They never said the world was ripe to be organized and unifies.... but the world has reached that stage now. God has sent, because of the condition of mankind, Bahá'u'lláh, with this particular teaching.

The Pope of Buddhism is in the capitol of Tibet. Daniel speaks of something to happen in 100 years after the Flight of MuHammad....he could have based his calculations on the Jewish calendar. Three years difference every century, 112 days every year, between solar and lunar time. 1963 is the year for the spread of the Faith all over the world ... not the Most Great Peace. One hundred years from the Declaration of Bahá'u'lláh in Ridvan. One hundred lunar years will have elapsed, etc. regarding date 1335 mentioned in the Bible.

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