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Abstract:
Multiple transcriptions of talks given in Atlanta, New York, and Massachusetts in September and October, 2001, largely based on the document Century of Light.
Notes:
Compiled by Greg Watson; transcribed by Watson et al.

Emphases in text (italics, underlining) added by typist.


Notes on the Twentieth Century

by Douglas Martin

2001-09
What follows are notes beginning with those taken by Greg Watson from Douglas Martin's talk in Lowell, Massachusetts -- Sunday, September 22, 2001. They are incomplete, but offered in the spirit of service, however inadequate. While typing up my notes I received notes of Mr. Martin's other talks in other cities. All of these notes together offer a more complete or composite message than mine alone can offer, so I have included them also. Each set of notes contains a least one nugget that the others do not.

I arrived a little late for the talk in Lowell, and missed a section of the question and answer period, so the second set of notes is more complete than mine. One of the things I have done to enrich my section here is to look up passages that Mr. Martin either quoted from in part or referred to indirectly. They are now included with my notes. My choice of quotes represents some interpretation of what he meant in some cases, so the reader will forgive whatever shortsightedness I may have had in that regard. If you wish to skip the quotes you can use the sublinks under my notes or alternatively you could skip my notes altogether and go directly to the most complete set of notes-- those of September 28-29 (notetaker unknown).

Contents

Notes of Mr. Martin's talk in Lowell, Massachusettes on Sunday, Sept. 22:

Notes of Mr. Martin's talk on Sept. 28th and 29th (notetaker unknown)

Notes of Mr. Martin in Atlanta, Tue, 02 Oct 2001 (transcribed by Peter Flipsen)

Notes of Mr. Martin speaking in New York City: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 (notetaker unknown)

Notes of Mr. Martin at Boston Bahá'í Center -- Mon., Sept. 23, 2001 (transcribed by Bob Sylvester)

Another great set of notes (has some interesting points not in the others)

PREFACE
This talk came within days after the terrorists attacked and destroyed the World Trade Center. More than anything else, I felt a calming effect from Mr. Martin's talks. His confidence in the destiny and role of America was certain. He said that as soon as the Universal House of Justice heard about the terrorist attack they immediately went to the Holy Shrines and said the "Prayer for America." Most of us were moved to tears at the love we could feel that the Universal House of Justice has for the Friends in America. He assured us that we could trust in America's special destiny and pointed out that America was the only country for which a specific prayer was revealed, not to mention those found in the Tablets of the Divine Plan for the various states in the U.S.

[My comments in brackets are my conjecture from what was implied from the context of Mr. Martin's statements. Sometimes the brackets contain added relevant material, thought to help explain. Of course all of the notes here are from my own understanding or interpretation. Words in quotes are pretty much just as Mr. Martin stated them or otherwise from some text.]

I cannot describe the overall nature of this undertaking any better than by borrowing from Bob Sylvester's description of the notes he took the next evening (Monday, Sept. 23) at the Bahá'í Center in Boston:
"In some cases they represent, word for word what was said. As in any case when a tape recorder is not used these notes cannot be assumed to be a totally correct record of everything that was stated. They are not a transcript of the talk or of the question and answer period. However, the points raised and sentiments expressed by the Member of the Universal House of Justice, while those of a personal nature and made in his individual capacity, were so poignant to our present challenges in the Faith and so moving in its sense of hope that I felt bound to share . . . my perceptions of his talk." (Bob Sylvester)

Rather than use quotations I have simply made summaries of his points, more or less in the order he presented them rather than grouping them by themes. (The same theme appeared more than once.) In some cases I have used underline or bold for emphasis or to highlight the themes expressed by Mr. Martin, both in my notes and in those notes taken by others.

Perhaps it is good to remember Shoghi Effendi's criteria for classifying and distinguishing between the talks and tablets of the Master. It probably goes without saying that since the talks of Abdu'l-Bahá have no authority we know that the talks of believers also have no authority. Of course this is to say that Mr. Martin's thoughts are those of an individual, and not the institution on which he so ably serves. Click here to read Shoghi Effendi's description of the difference between talks and tablets.

Some talks fall into that class of writings known as "pilgrim's notes." The Guardian advised the Bahá'ís that "they need not be suppressed, but they should not be given prominence or official recognition." Someone once described pilgrim's notes as an "inexact rendering of a partially understood truth." Here are my "inexact" notes, followed by the notes of others. The notes of different people are surprisingly the same... even when in different cities... This overlap seems to help the reader gain a better sense and confidence of the central themes, consistent from city to city.
    - Greg Watson

Mr. Martin's Talk on the "Century of Light"

(A Universal House of Justice's supervised document)

(from Greg Watson's notes) Processes within development:

We witnessed the "emergence of the consciousness of the oneness of mankind" as the dominant theme of the twentieth century. Not possible to think back to Abdu'l-Bahá's time any more than we can imagine the vast changes that will take place in the next 100 years: In His time there was a zeal for war... racism was an embedded and accepted "fact." This was what He faced; e.g., the kinds of questions He was asked about then included "blood atonement", "original sin", etc. How do we remember or think back to this world of His time. It's GONE! There are "Neanderthal relics which extinction beckons."

Shoghi Effendi describes two reciprocal processes:

Integration -- communication, transportation...etc. A few caught the vision (Woodrow Wilson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even some athletes). Disintegration: The second process has included military adventures, economic crises, and weaknesses in the hierarchy of the ecclesiastics. One of the principal churches in Canada is being sued by "Indians" (native peoples) and is being exposed for its misdeeds. Exposure is part of the disintegration. Its own members are making this Church bankrupt. Civil Rights movement of the '60s. In the Qur'án it says, "Mountains will pass away as the clouds."

"Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things in perfect order..." (The Qur'an, The Ant (An-Naml), verse 88)

The Soviet Union is gone! Overnight! This was a huge mountain. This social experiment failed... must understand this was not only a whole political system and but an ideology that tried to redefine biology, economics, etc. It included vast systems and millions of brilliant minds. It was reduced to utter nonsense. It takes your breath away that this could have happened! We are unable to mentally process changes so vast, so fast. There is a tiny group of people in the world that want to go back.

["These twin processes -- the collapse of old institutions on the one hand and the blossoming of new ways of thinking on the other -- are evidence of a single trend which has been gaining momentum during the last hundred years: the trend toward ever-increasing interdependence and integration of humanity." (Bahá'í International Community, "Turning Point For All Nations")]

Bahá'u'lláh explains "resurrection" as meaning that the peoples have arisen from the graves of their limited identities and the past. This brings on fear and paralysis, bewilderment and terror. First of all we have to be "free" of these past doctrines and institutions before humanity can be brought together. So they have to crumble. Some new freedoms have been granted by legislation.

Some of our fellow human beings did not see the twentieth century the same [positive] way: They are glad the 20th Century is over because is associated with the "holocaust", two bloody world wars, and millions of refugees.

When the Blessed Beauty was sent into exile with His Family and driven from place to place -- that forced migration became the paradigm for the whole human race. The migration of the human race from place to place on the globe is unstoppable and will radically alter the sense of place and of identity everywhere in the world. (Borrowed wording from another's notes.) Interesting that the refugees have changed the racial complexion of Europe. In Zurich, in broad daylight now you can see 50 people injecting heroine. This was unimaginable 30 or even 20 or 10 years ago. In Zurich? "Impossible," people would have said.

In the past people believed in all kinds of doctrines and systems of government... The mountains of skulls in Cambodia were the final legacy of the socialist system.

Humanity missed the point of the past 6000 years.... Which was to bring us to the last 100 years ("10 decades). [The birth of Bahá'u'lláh's dispensation.] This is sad because the purpose of experience is to learn from it.

Mr. Martin referred to this quote of Bahá'u'lláh but he recited only from the first sentence: "A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. Consider the peoples of the West. Witness how, in their pursuit of that which is vain and trivial, they have sacrificed, and are still sacrificing, countless lives for the sake of its establishment and promotion." (Bahá'u'lláh: Gleanings, Page: 196)

We can observe two arenas of change in history:

Secular change [what other groups do]; and Changes in the Cause of God -- the Bahá'í world community.

The Cause of God is the reason why the other events have occurred. Because we see and understand them, in a way, we are "conscious and confident." We are the only group that has a "conscious" agenda of its own, in alignment with the processes that are reshaping the world. Because we know that God is working through other groups "unconsciously" to accomplish the same agenda we want to make sure that these groups have a voice. We can, and do, help them get to speak. Often we can look quite generous, because we are so relaxed (no effort to promote "our own" agenda in helping them). We are relaxed "because we are assured that it's all going to go in our direction anyway."

What the Guardian said in the 1930's takes your breath away -- because of what we have seen since then and are now seeing about the twin processes of Integration (new thought, interdependence, etc.) and Disintegration (or disruption of old patterns and institutions).

[This made me think of the opening paragraph on page 3 of "The Promised Day is Come" (copyright 1941) where Shoghi Effendi writes:
" . . . this mighty wind of God invading the remotest and fairest regions of the earth, rocking its foundations, deranging its equilibrium, sundering its nations, disrupting the homes of its peoples, wasting its cities, driving into exile its kings, pulling down its bulwarks, uprooting its institutions, dimming its light, and harrowing up the souls of its inhabitants."

... and that most remarkable passage from Bahá'u'lláh Himself, that Shoghi Effendi refers to:
"Anticipating the System which the irresistible power of His Law was destined to unfold in a later age, He [Bahá'u'lláh] writes: 'The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System--the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed.' 'The Hand of Omnipotence hath established His Revelation upon an unassailable, an enduring foundation. Storms of human strife are powerless to undermine its basis, nor will men's fanciful theories succeed in damaging its structure.'" (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.109)

.... and in the "Portentous Prophecies" referred to on page 103 of his "Messages the Bahá'í World" (1950-1957):
Against the background of these afflictive disturbances--the turmoil and tribulations of a travailing age--we may well ponder the portentous prophecies uttered well-nigh fourscore years ago, by the Author of our Faith, as well as the dire predictions made by Him Who is the unerring Interpreter of His teachings, all foreshadowing a universal commotion, of a scope and intensity unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

The violent derangement of the world's equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth--these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God's Messenger in this day--a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship --a Fellowship destined, in the fullness of time, to be incorporated in the framework, and to be galvanized by the spiritualizing influences, of a mysteriously expanding, divinely appointed Order, and to flower, in the course of future Dispensations, into a Civilization, the like of which mankind has, at no stage in its evolution, witnessed.

Parallel with this process of progressive deterioration in human affairs, now visibly gathering momentum outside the pale of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and recalling the convulsions which, on a far more restricted scale, seized a declining empire in the opening centuries of the Christian era, far less spectacular in its manifestation, has been the process of integration, as demonstrated by the increasing cohesion, the multiplication, and the reinforcement of the foundations, of the institutions of the embryonic Bahá'í World Order, which, now, under the impact of the forces released by a World Spiritual Crusade, deriving its authority from the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Bahá, and launched for the express purpose of executing the Divine Plan bequeathed by Him to His followers in the evening of His life, is contributing, unnoticed by a generation forgetful of its God, and already in the shadow of His Visitation, to the building up, slowly but irresistibly, of that Ark of human salvation, ordained as the ultimate haven of a society destined, for the most part, to be submerged by the tidal wave of the abuses and evils which its own perversity has engendered."

(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá'í World: 1950-1957, p.103)

And I recalled this other prophecy elsewhere, which may or may not have relevance:
"No less serious is the stress and strain imposed on the fabric of American society through the fundamental and persistent neglect, by the governed and governors alike, of the supreme, the inescapable and urgent duty -- so repeatedly and graphically represented and stressed by Abdu'l-Bahá in His arraignment of the basic weaknesses in the social fabric of the nation -- of remedying, while there is yet time, through a revolutionary change in the concept and attitude of the average white American toward his Negro fellow citizen, a situation which, if allowed to drift, will, in the words of Abdu'l-Bahá, cause the streets of American cities to run with blood, aggravating thereby the havoc which the fearful weapons of destruction, raining from the air, and amassed by a ruthless, a vigilant, a powerful and inveterate enemy, will wreak upon those same cities."

(Shoghi Effendi: Citadel of Faith (1947-1957), Page: 126)

[The National Spiritual Assembly, through the Office of External Affairs, released the following guidance for behavior of the Bahá'ís in response to the events of Sept. 11th {emphasis mine}:
"Bahá'ís should avoid attributing causality for the events [of Sept. 11th]other than that of the need for all people to recognize the oneness of humanity. As individuals speaking about the Bahá'í Faith to the media, we should steer absolutely clear of speculation on the various causes of these events. The Bahá'í Faith does not claim to understand what motivates terrorist acts of specific groups of people against others. To attempt to provide such an explanation would not only be misleading and confusing, but would be unwise.

Bahá'ís should also exercise extreme caution in regard to Bahá'í prophecies, avoiding speculation on their exact meaning in relation to these events and avoiding completely any reference to pilgrims' notes, which, as Shoghi Effendi reminds us, have absolutely no authority.

Among the many heartwarming stories we've received of Bahá'ís across the nation reaching out to their fellow citizens in true solidarity in response to the events, there are other indications that some Bahá'ís view this tragic situation as a particular opportunity to promote the Faith. Bahá'ís should be extremely cautious in their teaching activities not to exploit this or any other tragic situation as an opportunity to promote the Faith."

More about the "twin processes" Mr. Martin referred to can be found in:

... paragraph 36 of the 1996 Ridvan Message from the Universal House of Justice:
"Beloved Friends, we enter this Plan amid the turbulence of a period of accelerating transition. The twin processes prompted by the impact of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation are fast at work, gathering a momentum that will, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, 'bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet.' One is an integrating process; the other is disruptive. Out of the 'universal fermentation' created by these processes, peace will emerge in stages, through which the unifying effects of a growing consciousness of world citizenship will become manifest."

Here is one particularly ominous set of prophetic statements, written by Shoghi Effendi in the late '30s, that Mr. Martin's comments call to mind and which we should be cautious not to impose on fellow Americans. They do seem, nonetheless, worthy of pondering at this time:
"Who knows that for so exalted a conception to take shape a suffering more intense than any it has yet experienced will have to be inflicted upon humanity? Could anything less than the fire of a civil war with all its violence and vicissitudes--a war that nearly rent the great American Republic--have welded the states, not only into a Union of independent units, but into a Nation, in spite of all the ethnic differences that characterized its component parts? That so fundamental a revolution, involving such far-reaching changes in the structure of society, can be achieved through the ordinary processes of diplomacy and education seems highly improbable. We have but to turn our gaze to humanity's blood-stained history to realize that nothing short of intense mental as well as physical agony has been able to precipitate those epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization.

Great and far-reaching as have been those changes in the past, they cannot appear, when viewed in their proper perspective, except as subsidiary adjustments preluding that transformation of unparalleled majesty and scope which humanity is in this age bound to undergo. That the forces of a world catastrophe can alone precipitate such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming increasingly apparent. That nothing short of the fire of a severe ordeal, unparalleled in its intensity, can fuse and weld the discordant entities that constitute the elements of present-day civilization, into the integral components of the world commonwealth of the future, is a truth which future events will increasingly demonstrate.

The prophetic voice of Bahá'u'lláh warning, in the concluding passages of the Hidden Words, 'the peoples of the world' that 'an unforeseen calamity is following them and that grievous retribution awaiteth them' throws indeed a lurid light upon the immediate fortunes of sorrowing humanity. Nothing but a fiery ordeal, out of which humanity will emerge, chastened and prepared, can succeed in implanting that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a new-born age must arise to shoulder." (Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p.45-46 -- first published in 1938)]

Mr. Martin did not refer explicitly to the cautions in the letter from the National Spiritual Assembly through the Office of External Affairs, though he expressed some caution about contacting the media or interpreting events as if they were the fulfillment of some prophesy or something that God was doing rather than the result of humanity's own actions. He did, however, emphatically encourage the Bahá'ís to give away copies of the Abdu'l-Bahá's "Prayer for America" as something proper we could do to help console the suffering, while at the same time we encourage a positive outlook on the ultimate destiny of America. [As Bahá'ís we have a belief that Peace is not only possible but inevitable. Other Americans are confused, bewildered, anxious and afraid of what might happen, but we can have certitude about the ultimate and wonderful outcome of all these processes -- that the forces of goodness will prevail. We can share our calm, and our confidence.]

Mr. Martin said that the twin processes reminded him of Ezekiel's vision about the "wheel within a wheel" and he thought it was a good metaphor to represent the two changes that are occurring. [(See Ezekiel 1:15) One wheel upon the earth represents the works and doing by the living creatures, while the other wheel is the wheel of God -- or His works and doings.] The little one is "faith" that moves things and the other "God." [See Subjective and Objective Faith in BWF, page 264]

Nothing is more powerful than "absolute certitude." Now this is NOT a popular idea among academics because they are trained to doubt. This has been legitimate in science because certitude could have been wrong --- because what people thought was right it was really imagination, not certitude. However, "certitude" is actually possible. It is a human potential. Scientifically we can commit ourselves to it when we have it.

When the Guardian says, "This is the truth"... and "this is false" we can commit ourselves to it. The Universal House of Justice does not define truth but rather decides what actions to take. [Mr. Martin spent considerable time explaining later in the day the process of consultation conducted by the Universal House of Justice and he also mentioned that the Universal House of Justice can now call upon a wide range of expertise from within the Bahá'í International Community -- professional expertise in any specific field.]

The Election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963 was an enormous victory achieved for the human race. It was the first global democratic election representing a cross-section of the entire human race. Humanity has yearned for and attempted to create various utopian systems but even the United Nations does not have the mandate to democratically represent all of humanity, nor is there any conception that it should have that mandate.

Even with respect to the NSAs there is a yearning for immaculate will, in humility, to elect the best representatives. Can it satisfy everyone idea of perfection. Our process has been subject to criticisms: e.g., that it is not diverse enough, but these criticisms are not relevant. He explained: Secular elections are subject to limitations. The reason our process does not satisfy every one is because our process too is subject to limitations. For example, in the secular world if you want to vote in Ipswich you must be a resident of Ipswich. If Elvis is in a holding cell in Ipswich he cannot vote. Likewise, in the Bahá'í world before you are allowed to participate in Bahá'í elections you must be a Bahá'í, and a Bahá'í in good standing. There isn't anything more we can do than what we do already.

"Communism was the vehicle of materialism," he said. ...but only one vehicle. ["Unbridled" capitalism is, of course, another vehicle.]

Materialism is the religion of the day.

"Sedition will envelop the earth..." (Mr. Martin said that Bahá'u'lláh said.)

["After a time," He {Bahá'u'lláh} also has written, "all the governments on earth will change. Oppression will envelop the world. And following a universal convulsion, the sun of justice will rise from the horizon of the unseen realm." "The whole earth," He, moreover, has stated, "is now in a state of pregnancy. The day is approaching when it will have yielded its noblest fruits, when from it will have sprung forth the loftiest trees, the most enchanting blossoms, the most heavenly blessings." "All nations and kindreds," Abdu'l-Bahá likewise has written, "...will become a single nation. Religious and sectarian antagonism, the hostility of races and peoples, and differences among nations, will be eliminated. All men will adhere to one religion, will have one common faith, will be blended into one race, and become a single people. All will dwell in one common fatherland, which is the planet itself." ]

(Shoghi Effendi: The Promised Day is Come, Pages: 116-117 -- copyright 1941)]

The "Day of God" -- Every time a Manifestation of God appears it is the Day of God. This time the effect is universal.

Opening of the Terraces received more attention than expected. We emerged from concealment in the world. [It also brought some attacks on the Faith.]

[There are also some prophecies about the persecution from "the Church" after the opening of the Terraces, referred to on an audiotape by Hand of the Cause Mr. Khadem. Mr. Martin did not mention this.]

Opening of the Terraces had an enormous impact on Israel. Gerald Kessel, "the cynical CNN reporter," interviewed guides of the Terraces hoping to trap them in some kind of moral contradiction between their allegiance to their own faith while serving the Bahá'ís. Many guides are Israeli Jews and Moslems teaching the Bahá'í Faith. One Jew answered him; "These teachings are good for the whole world. Why would they then not be good for the people of Israel?" Each and every guide gave him similar answers and he was stumped.

"God is not just a Cosmic Force."

Spiritual development comes from the Sun of Truth. Plants don't grow in a basement. If the physical world is that way, why do we have trouble accepting that the Manifestation is the Sun of the spiritual universe? [See beginning of the last chapter of "The Century of Light"]

Mr. Martin commented on a dialogue between Ralph Waldo Emerson's and Margaret Fuller.

[I looked up Margaret Fuller to better understand the reference. Fuller was a transcendentalist (like Emerson) who first worked as a schoolteacher, as an editor, held "conversations," was active in social reform, and went to Europe as the first female foreign correspondent. In 1842, she served as the editor of a quarterly literary publication The Dial, which she co-founded with Emerson -- the poet and essayist. As a writer, she is admired as a literary critic and for her sympathies for the plight of the Indians. She has written on such themes as transcendentalism, women's rights, critical theory, gender roles, and political reform in Europe. She wrote of Emerson as `Mythologist.']

Apparently, according to Mr. Martin, Emerson criticized her position on the nature of the universe stating that "she'd better accept the universe because there is no alternative."

The peoples of the world must say "YES" because there is no alternative

Mr. Martin was using this analogy to illustrate that humanity will have to accept the Manifestation of God because there is no alternative. The changes God is sending to the world are ordained. The world must say, "yes!"

Evolution proceeds with complexity and refinement of its elements.

The growth of the Bahá'í community is an evolution... becoming more refined.

With respect to pioneering America has already fulfilled the Master's mandate to arise. Yes, often belatedly, patronizing.... etc., but heroically.

Once there becomes a leader then it becomes possible for others to imagine what's possible. Americans were leaders. They went pioneering with sacrifice. The Administrative Order evolved to assume the same envisioned for it, just as the human fetus in the womb. At first it did not look like what it was to become, just as a fetus doesn't look like the animal it is to become.

Bahá'í education is also evolving. We are evolving a pattern that is adaptable to various cultures.

Success alters the nature of the challenge. One of the best things of the 20th Century was that the world said "YES!" for an answer to Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, albeit unconsciously and consciously. [See "Subjective and Objective Faith" on page 364 in the book titled "Bahá'í World Faith."] The conscious response was the several million people who became Bahá'ís.

Bahá'ís must now learn how to accept the YES answer:

Now, we who are already Bahá'ís must learn how to take "Yes" for an answer... [believe in the ability of others to become Bahá'ís... believe that our teaching will be effective.]

Where America is destined to lead, the rest of the world will follow -- because they see the possibilities by example.

There yet remains a little window of opportunity for American Bahá'ís to ACT -- as servants... fulfilling the highest station of "service." [I remembered these words of Shoghi Effendi written in 1938:
"Let anyone inclined to doubt the course which this enviable community is destined to follow, turn to and meditate upon these words of `Abdu'l-Bahá, enshrined, for all time, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, and addressed to the entire community of the believers of the United States and Canada: 'The full measure of your success,' He informs them, 'is as yet unrevealed, its significance still unapprehended. Erelong, ye will, with your own eyes, witness how brilliantly every one of you, even as a shining star, will radiate, in the firmament of your country, the light of Divine Guidance, and will bestow upon its people the glory of an everlasting life.... The range of your future achievements still remains undisclosed. I fervently hope that in the near future the whole earth may be stirred and shaken by the results of your achievements....'"

(Shoghi Effendi quoting Abdu'l-Bahá in "The Advent of Divine Justice," p.74)]

Mr. Martin asked, "What is the focus of that service that we as Bahá'ís can render now?" -- now that the Divine Plan has spread the Message around the globe. He said that we could read it in "The Century of Light" at the end, and encouraged us to read it. (See middle paragraph of page 144 in that text, for example.)

Humanity's fundamental need is a "change in consciousness."

The United Nations system admires the magic of our unity and what we accomplish throughout the world in SED (social and economic development) -- i.e., community development. We are regarded as one of the top two NGOs in the world... certainly within the top three. Unity is the instrument of the Bahá'ís. It is our purpose, as outlined in the Advent of Divine Justice.

Injustices point to the divisions within humanity.

In the U.S. the division is race... still a great chasm or gap.

In Canada the division is cultural.

The worldwide the gulf of divisions includes racial, cultural and economic differences -- the greatest being economic. [?]

The world is divided between the "haves" and the "have nots."

Insanity of bombing stems from the injustice of materialism, which is equated with Godlessness.

Globalism and Globalization can be just or unjust.

We don't have to take sides.

Greed masquerades as market forces.

The tragedies in the world today are the result of materialism.

The colonialism of the past, which exploited and subjugated masses of peoples, is still alive and well and flourishing... but hides itself.

Along side the supposed representation afforded by governments in the world, people began to create NGOs. These non-governmental organizations focus on the real life issues of equity and equality, children, women, education, etc.

The Bahá'í community is one of the world's leading NGOs. What we need to do is build an alternative society -- more consciously. There are tremendous implications of our actions and what effect it will have on the development of the world.

Our communities and youth can study this anywhere.

With respect to our pioneering efforts now the most profound contribution Americans can make is to go and be with their Bahá'í brothers and sisters in other countries and cultural contexts. Just go and be with them. Mentioned the "Black Men's Gathering" as an example of the profound effect on both visitor and visited. Exhibits a kind of solidarity that we are all one people, no matter that our continents separate us.

America's Mission and Destiny:

We should not underestimate our own qualities as Americans... such as openness of heart and mind. It has a demonstrative nature to the world. Americans are known throughout the world as basically having a fundamental good will towards others and a concern for what is right. Also, truly they have a concern for morality. (I think this may have sounded strange to many at first, so he explained. He mentioned all the ways America helped to rebuild the world after WWII, etc., and how we are self-examining and self-critical in ways that Europe is not.) Americans are known for their optimism. These are the qualities that make American attractive to the rest of the world, not more technology, or money or even "know how." These qualities are the gifts that have come from the 300 years of the American experiment (cultural development) and 100 years of the execution of Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan (which was given to the Americans -- i.e., citizens of U.S. and Canada).

The events of September 11 should be a wake up call not just to Americans in general but to Bahá'ís in particular. God knows how long the doors of service (certain kinds of service) will be open. Economic conditions will change. We must make our mark now.

The present conditions in the world are so fluid and complex that the worse thing we could do in the Faith right now would be to take a position on the current situation. What the friends could best do is to act in such a way that the Community is able to put forward a collective demonstration in the larger historical process which is underway. What the world needs from us right now is a sense of quiet and of confident assurance of America's spiritual mission. The poison of religious hatred, which this community has known directly for the past 150 years, is like a virus that must be expelled from the body politic of the world. There is going to be a terrible moral struggle in America as it moves towards its spiritual destiny. (This paragraph from Bob Sylvester's notes)

[Also from that same letter from the National Spiritual Assembly, released through the Office of External Affairs, we have the following guidance for behavior of the Bahá'ís in response to the events of Sept. 11th.
There is no Bahá'í position on these events. Bahá'ís should feel neither apologetic nor ashamed in stating that it is contrary to the Bahá'í teachings to become enmeshed in the policies or actions of individual governments.

We have been made aware of a disturbing trend in which Bahá'ís seem to take sides either "for peace" or "for war". This tendency, although very human and understandable given the shockingly violent and sudden nature of the acts, threatens to undermine the fundamental principle of unity on which the Bahá'í Faith is founded.]

Mr. Martin said that we must not be critical of the American government. We must support it. [At the Monday night meeting he said that we should exercise caution against dissent, discord and disagreement.] Mr. Martin made clear that his references to the government is not the same as talking about the "administration" -- i.e., the executive branch of the U.S. Government. He once again referred to Abdu'l-Bahá's prayer asking God to: "render this just government victorious." (Bahá'í Prayers, p. 23) And he said that America would be victorious and that the form of government is just. (Then he made a joke about the government of Canada being better.) America's role in the world shaping events is God's plan -- this is what God is doing, not what the Bahá'ís are doing. He said that the United Nations was not in the condition to fulfill some of Bahá'u'lláh's injunctions at present, and that the United States would have a leadership role in bringing about the changes that lead up to the Lesser peace, and that this was prophesied by both the Guardian and Abdu'l-Bahá. We do not have to advocate or criticize what the U.S. Government is doing in specific instances, but we can rest assured that it will be guided to fulfill its own purpose and destiny -- through which it will itself become transformed.

[I remembered the words of Shoghi Effendi written in 1938:

"Then, and only then, will the American nation, molded and purified in the crucible of a common war, inured to its rigors, and disciplined by its lessons, be in a position to raise its voice in the councils of the nations, itself lay the cornerstone of a universal and enduring peace, proclaim the solidarity, the unity, and maturity of mankind, and assist in the establishment of the promised reign of righteousness on earth. Then, and only then, will the American nation, while the community of the American believers within its heart is consummating its divinely appointed mission, be able to fulfill the unspeakably glorious destiny ordained for it by the Almighty, and immortally enshrined in the writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Then, and only then, will the American nation accomplish 'that which will adorn the pages of history,' 'become the envy of the world and be blest in both the East and the West.'"

(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 91) ]

Mr. Martin stated that the Bab was the "only" revolutionary in the last 100 years. Other so-called revolutionaries were only interested in their own particular part of the world. The Bab's vision was both revolutionary and universal. His Revolution focused on altering the consciousness of mankind. The Bab was the Receptacle of an entirely new Order. He broke Words open. He needed to use vocabulary in a way that expressed conceptions that were beyond the capacity of the "educated" of the time. (This paragraph from Bob Sylvester's notes)

Then Douglas Martin quoted the following passage at some length:
"I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause." (Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, pg. 295)

This is the Day of Judgement. This is the Day of Justice. [We understand what Mr. Martin was saying about this when we read "The Promised Day is Come." He made a reference to this text.]

Back to the UN system's ("UN people's") perception of the Bahá'ís and our success in SED. They don't know what to do and are continually looking at us. Our evolving Bahá'í world community the UN people refer to as "Your delivery system." We -- the Bahá'í International Community -- ARE the instrument of a particular kind of worldwide change and process unfolding. There is no other instrument.

QUESTIONS / ANSWERS: (also see below)

"What does the UHJ do to usher in the Lessor Peace?"

We are not seen as a lobby group. We are seen as the elected representatives of a large cross-section of humanity. Our opinion is valued and now being sought by heads of state and other leaders in the world. It's minor at present, but it gives us a chance to develop what and who we need to be as this role may increase. Perhaps we could draw a parallel: Remember how the Roman Catholic Church gained its power in Europe. The Church was doing house keeping while politics was failing. This is how the Bahá'ís are today. We are going about our business (building up our communities) while the politics of the world is failing. We are the example of steadiness and calm. Consider during this time of uncertainty and fear in America... even the anxiety about what will happen to America... we are assured by our writings of America's role and destiny. As just one example of a way you can help your fellow Americans feel this is by giving them a copy of Abdu'l-Bahá's "Prayer for America." You should make copies of it and give it out to your friends and the people you meet. [Later he clarified this as a service individual could provide. He was not talking about Assemblies. ]

The world needs "unity." We are the community of unity and this is becoming increasingly recognized.

Also see bahai-library.com/mitchell_time_peril_peace

An astounding recognition has been given by a leader of thought in Brazil who came and consulted with the Universal House of Justice in Haifa:

Dr. Juan Carlos Busnelli, Secretaria de Ciencia y Tecnología (and de Ciencias Económicas). The consultation was described as if another member of the Universal House of Justice was present and they were all working on the problems together. At some point later, in the personal conversations, Mr. Martin asked him who he regarded Bahá'u'lláh to be and he stated something as follows:

"Bahá'u'lláh is that universal genius that understands the 'reality of man' [humanity] and reads the future of humanity like the palm of His hand."

In 1992, a film was made of the Brazilian Parliament's tribute to the Faith and our contribution to unity was the central recognition. Apparently Busnelli was there also at the time.

Some of my thoughts in CONCLUSION:

As I said in the beginning, more than anything else, I felt a calming effect from Mr. Martin's talks. American's have become frightened and alarmed by the strike of terrorism on their nation. From the world perspective they have now joined in the experience that other nations have been experiencing for some time. Now they know the anxiety this can produce when bombs go off in your own cities. Thus, from Haifa, it probably looks like a piece has been added to an already giant world puzzle of tragedy in the world.

Now we, as Americans, are no different than those other nations already caught in this "vortex" of suffering. (Vortex is a term Shoghi Effendi used in the last paragraphs of The Advent of Divine Justice with respect to a world-shaking ordeal.) What impressed me most by Mr. Martin's talks were his encouragement for American Bahá'ís not only to believe in our own destiny as part of a world community, but also for us to acknowledge the greatness and importance of our nation and its destiny -- "that nation as a whole" (ADJ, p. 86) -- and that there are "potencies.... that are influencing the lives and actions of both its government and its people." (ADJ, p. 86).

For this reason I feel moved to conclude with a set of passages from the Writings praising the American nation and her destiny during this time when she is being attacked both physically and ideologically:

"The American continent", He [Abdu'l-Bahá] affirmed,"gives signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising. . . It will lead all nations spiritually." Within the northern confines of a continent upon which had already been conferred such a remarkable station, the American Bahá'í Community was singled out for unique honours; it was "a community", Shoghi Effendi wrote, "invested with spiritual primacy by the Author of the immortal Tablets constituting the Charter of the Master Plan of the appointed Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant." In majestic and ringing words the Guardian himself gave the rank and titles of this favoured community, whose mission is so unbelievably great, whose responsibilities are so staggering. Its members were, he said: "the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-breakers of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Faith, the chief repository of the immortal Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Divine Plan, the foremost executors of the Mandate issued by the Centre of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant, the champion-builders of a divinely conceived Administrative Order, the standard-bearers of the all-conquering army of the Lord of Hosts, the torchbearers of a future divinely inspired world civilization. . ." (Ministry of the Custodians, page 250)

Shoghi Effendi's source document for some of these statements is "The Advent of Divine Justice," (pages 85-86) where we also find:

"One more word in conclusion. Among some of the most momentous and thought-provoking pronouncements ever made by Abdu'l-Bahá, in the course of His epoch-making travels in the North American continent, are the following:
'May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the Standard of the Most Great Peace." And again: "The American people are indeed worthy of being the first to build the Tabernacle of the Great Peace, and proclaim the oneness of mankind....

For America hath developed powers and capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations.... The American nation is equipped and empowered to accomplish that which will adorn the pages of history, to become the envy of the world, and be blest in both the East and the West for the triumph of its people....The American continent gives signs and evidences of very great advancement. Its future is even more promising, for its influence and illumination are far-reaching. It will lead all nations spiritually.'

The creative energies, mysteriously generated by the first stirrings of the embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, have, as soon as released within a nation destined to become its cradle and champion, endowed that nation with the worthiness, and invested it with the powers and capacities, and equipped it spiritually, to play the part foreshadowed in these prophetic words. The potencies which this God-given mission has infused into its people are, on the one hand, beginning to be manifested through the conscious efforts and the nationwide accomplishments, in both the teaching and administrative spheres of Bahá'í activity, of the organized community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh in the North American continent. These same potencies, apart from, yet collateral with these efforts and accomplishments, are, on the other hand, insensibly shaping, under the impact of the world political and economic forces, the destiny of that nation, and are influencing the lives and actions of both its government and its people."

And on page 86-87,

". . . . A word, if the destiny of the American people, in its entirety, is to be correctly apprehended, should now be said regarding the orientation of that nation as a whole, and the trend of the affairs of its people. For no matter how ignorant of the Source from which those directing energies proceed, and however slow and laborious the process, it is becoming increasingly evident that the nation as a whole, whether through the agency of its government or otherwise, is gravitating, under the influence of forces that it can neither comprehend nor control, towards such associations and policies, wherein, as indicated by `Abdu'l-Bahá, her true destiny must lie."

(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 86-87. Note: pages 88-91 are also extremely interesting.)

Greg Kagira-Watson

September 12, 2001

[NOTE: On the next pages are some other notes taken by friends in Atlanta and New York City. These were emailed to me. Some of the additions that these represent are very rich and significant -- including points not mentioned in my notes. I arrived a little late for the talk and missed a section of the question and answer period, so the following notes may be more complete.]

First Set of Other's Notes (1 of 3)

Notes from talks by Universal House of Justice Member Douglas Martin

September 28 29, 2001 (notetaker unknown)

Lesser Peace

The Lesser Peace is a process that started with Woodrow Wilson, when he created the League of Nations. It will be a long time from now before we fully understand what the Lesser Peace was.

Dr. Martin detailed some of the elements in the following parallel processes mentioned by Shoghi Effendi. "...the two parallel processes of integration and disintegration associated respectively with the rising fortunes of God's infant Faith and the sinking fortunes of the institutions of a declining civilization." (Shoghi Effendi: Messages to the Bahá'í World, Page: 102) Disintegration: - military buildup - counter-productive economic system - human weaknesses - prejudices - collapsing moral standards Integration: - individuals of capacity and insight like Woodrow Wilson and Eleanor Roosevelt - revolutions in communications and transportation - artists, musicians, soccer players and more working as agents of the awakening of the oneness of mankind - every barrier separating humans into artificial constructs has collapsed - Universal House of Justice peace statement

Seemingly insurmountable obstacles to world peace have been blown away by the Will of God. "Thou seest the mountains and thinkest them firmly fixed: but they shall pass away as the clouds pass away: (such is) the artistry of God, Who disposes of all things in perfect order..." (The Qur'an, The Ant (An-Naml), verse 88)

In 1992 we realized that our Ark, like Noah's, had to be completed ASAP. The completion of the Arc and terraces on Mount Carmel and the creation of the institution of the Regional Councils were two of the last boards in our Ark. The floodwaters are rising. The world is collapsing at a terrifying speed. September 11 is only the beginning of a process that is gathering momentum. The effects of this tragedy will ripple out throughout the world as the old world order crashes. Shoghi Effendi called the Universal House of Justice "...a House which posterity will regard as the last refuge of a tottering civilization." (Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Page: 89)

The 20th Century - The Century of Light

Our basic premise is that God is revealing Himself in the world over time. Throughout history religion has been an individual thing (single soul salvation). Bahá'ís today are called on to pioneer a new element in religion, that God is reordering society through the Covenant and the Administrative Order. This idea that religion will order society will be the principle target of attacks on the Faith.

The History of Civilization changed overnight (in one century) because the Hand of God moved it through these different processes. People have been catapulted out of the "graves" (dead systems). They are dazed, bewildered - some are hastening to the fire, some to the light. Our fellow citizens do not see the 20th Century as the Century of Light. They are grateful for medical advances, consumer goods, laws; but they associate it with the Holocaust, two world wars, tides of refugees sweeping across the world, economic chaos, epidemics. They have missed the point of the 20th Century.

As with a child developing in the womb, certain things must happen, and they must happen in a certain order to craft the New World. The 20th Century was like the first month in the womb, setting up the basics for the next 1,000 years. The new book commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, "Century of Light", spells this out.

The Guardian said this 20th Century is like no other. We are at a great turning point. The 20th Century provided the hinge through which the Hand of God was able to turn civilization. Up to now the masses have been passengers on the train, while various elite groups drove the trains. The rest served their goals, good or bad. The masses will become protagonists of their development, says Bahá'u'lláh.

"I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded...out of His mouth...than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause." (Bahá'u'lláh: Prayers and Meditations, Pages: 295-296)

Some see these processes as the devil's work. Some are so frightened that they do not want to live even in the 20th Century, let alone the 21st. The right century for them was the 19th. Others are waking up and seriously want answers.

The World Has Said Yes!

In the highest circles of the UN, people are consulting on Bahá'u'lláh's issues! Bahá'ís coordinated the work of all the NGO's at the Millennial Summit. The permanent representative of the Bahá'í International Community was the Chair. Then the BIC was called to represent all of Civil Society at the governmental Millennium Summit -- the only NGO to do so.

The Bahá'ís are talking to the world and the world is listening.

The Media Campaign is highly successful. Seekers who call need a human contact after they call, not a pamphlet. Invite them to a study group, children's class.

Character of the North American Bahá'í Community

The North American people have powers, capacities and qualities greater than those in other countries. They are not better than others, they are not morally or in any other way superior, but their qualities and capacities have attracted the divine confirmations, allowing them to become world leaders. Some of these qualities are: DIVERSITY - including all the peoples of the world. This is a quality of all the America's, North and South. COVENANT - This is a covenantal society. The founders set out consciously to create a different kind of society. Do not turn it to self-righteousness. MORALITY - These societies are preoccupied with morality. (Europeans are not bothered by the morality of their leaders.) A concern for morality is a distinguishing characteristic of our society. Keep it! Do not turn it to moralizing.

'Abdu'l-Bahá had great faith in this community. We have fulfilled His trust (sometimes belatedly). We have a heritage of incredible accomplishment. The Bahá'í community has struggled to overcome the faults of their society. The confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh have made up for our inadequacies. American Bahá'ís made a special contribution to the Arcs projects - we gave spiritual leadership when it was desperately needed and there was no one else to provide it. Do not let our confidence be shaken. We have great capacities and history. The peoples of the world for 1,000 years will be unspeakably grateful to the American Bahá'í Community for what we are doing now to lead the world.

The maturation of the U.S. Bahá'í community since the 60's has been breathtaking.

People all over the world are saying yes to what the Bahá'ís, with the North American Bahá'ís in the lead, have been doing. Some examples are: o SED projects all over the world, especially in India, Africa, Latin America. o The Ruhi Institute, born in Columbia, gives us an instrument which makes it realistic for us to absorb 100,000's of believers through the Institute process. 95% of the Bahá'í world has adopted it. o The Core Curriculum, with the education of children as its strength. We will integrate and refine all these systems to create the most effective system. Great creativity is going on all over the Bahá'í world.

Qualities of mind and heart that characterize American Bahá'ís and Americans in general: Openness of heart Demonstrative nature Attitude of fundamental goodwill A concern with what is right Unquenchable optimism that change is possible This 300 year old American social experiment and 100 years of Bahá'í sacrifice to the world has given us these qualities in our DNA. The world needs our character. The rest of the Bahá'í world will follow if we arise to serve.

The Bahá'ís are the most organized and the most diverse group of people in the world. We have an extraordinary network worldwide. When the Universal House of Justice asks us to move in this certain direction during this plan, we do it! The world is amazed by this level or organization.

Our Bahá'í Response

Service is what American Bahá'ís need -- to serve the Bahá'í world, to follow in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's footsteps. We must see the difficulties of the masses with our own eyes and know them with our own hearts. The gap between the haves and the have-nots is in each city in the U.S. and every country in the world. The world's suffering will cause us great distress. Keep one idea clearly in mind - we are not responsible for solving the financial and economic difficulties of the world. Bahá'u'lláh will do this through Huququ'llah, with huge banks that will operate for the benefit of humankind in a system unprecedented in human history.

September 11 was a warning sign that we cannot assume that the opportunities open to us today will be open to us in a year. Do youth service now! Abroad or in the U.S. Go to college now, all over the world. Experience the Bahá'í Global Family! The Bahá'í world needs you.

How should we respond to recent events? Be totally detached! Bahá'u'lláh has given us this directive: "Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord..." (Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page: 52) Who knows more about these religious fanatics than the Bahá'ís who have been oppressed for 160 years? Read the prayer for America. Give it to everyone. Be an example of quiet assurance. It will work out; the governments will come up with a plan and carry it out. The USA has great clout. Support the government. This government has shown time and again that it will act morally and fearlessly.

Other Topics

NO WOMEN ON THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE If it is true that women and men are equal in the faith and in the sight of God, why are there no women on the Universal House of Justice? I do not know. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says "we will know in time". Underneath this question is the issue of freeing women from the subjugation they have experienced since the earliest days of humankind. We are only in the beginning process. We can demonstrate that we Bahá'ís have made real progress and are dedicated to this issue. For the first time in history, a body of only men has been charged by Bahá'u'lláh to bring about the total equality of the sexes. The Universal House of Justice had received a divine mandate, answerable to God individually and collectively.

THE TRUE REVOLUTIONARY The Bab was the true revolutionary in an age of revolutionaries. His revolution went to the roots of human motivation. It launched us on our course. Armies of young Bahá'ís will look at the Bab and His band of heroes again and they will be inspired in music, drama, heart and action.

HOW TO CREATE A CULTURE OF ENCOURAGEMENT? We have reason to be encouraged. We have been so successful! The authority is in institutions, but the power to accomplish is in the body of the believers. Progress is not done by committee, but by free enterprise. Our LSA's and our community must encourage talents, appreciate talents. TAKE RISKS!!

QUALITY OF CONSULTATION OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE LIMITLESS PATIENCE is needed to arrive at full consensus and unity. Each topic is given endless discussion as long as its original, even for some tiny subject from some tiny NSA. Time is different somehow in the Universal House of Justice chamber. In quietest moment, a tiny idea emerges that everyone accepts. Sometimes the members cannot arrive at a solution to a problem and it is put on the back burner. Then, in another consultation on a different topic, days, weeks or even months later, we realize that we have discovered the answer to the first question. If you ask, "why did the House decide this way?" about an issue, you might get nine different answers because why doesn't matter. God has directed that this decision be made. TOTAL CANDOR AND FRANKNESS - you can say anything. CIVILITY - Mr. Douglas never imagined that this atmosphere of civility could exist with the total frankness. Personal friendships do not matter. Real love pervades all.

- - - - Second Set of Other's Notes (2 of 3) - - - - -



Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 03:25:32 0000 From: Toby Lou
Here are excellent notes from our dear Peter Flipsen from the talk by Universal House of Justice member Douglas Martin:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Notes on Douglas Martin Presentation

Sunday, September 30, 2001, Atlanta, GA

Morning Session

- notetaker arrived late; only heard last 30 minutes

Without God, everything perishes. The Soviet Union is a good recent example.

There is much transformation happening at the moment. Mankind is quite unable to understand exactly what is going. Americans are particularly having difficulty understanding this because they have been insulated by their affluence.

Much positive change occurred in the 20th century. Most non-Bahá'ís don't see it that way; most are actually glad the century is over.

"Bahá'u'lláh had put mankind in a blender and put it on full speed". Our societies are being totally reorganized. The flood of refugees across borders is particularly affecting the developed world but no country is immune.

Humanity (other than the Bahá'ís) has missed the point. The 20th century was about the "emergence of the consciousness of the oneness of mankind".

Two major developments in the 20th century"

1. Transformation of the non-Bahá'í world. Unconscious process; quite painful.

2. Emergence of the Cause of God. Small, systematic and slowly building.

Now these two have merged. Participation by the Bahá'í in international discussions is being actively sought out. This is evidence that the non-Bahá'í world recognizes the need for our input on some level.

For unity to exist, two conditions are necessary:

1. Fundamental agreement about the nature of reality -- this nature is described in detail in the writings of the Guardian (and to a lesser extent in the writings of 'Abdul-Baha).

2. A plan for our collective development -- 'Abdul-Baha gave us the Divine Plan and the House of Justice to guide us in this.

No power on earth is greater than absolute certitude. The great religions have always given us this. Westerners are not very comfortable with this.

Mankind is a social being and is constantly trying to organize itself. Unity is necessary. In 1963 we completed the model to bring this about. We elect fallible people to fallible institutions. God accepts our best efforts and endows the institutions with whatever is needed to advance the process.

Q A (misc. topics)

America has NOT been attacked because it is inherently evil. It has been attacked because it exists. These terrorists hate everything including God [look what they did to His Manifestation]. America has a mandate to meet out justice.

-- recommends we give everyone the "Prayer for America".

America is suffering from a psychological / emotional disease of "moral equivalency". We should not treat the victim and the perpetrator equally. Justice requires punishment.

Religion and morality CANNOT be separated. As the crisis deepens (and it will) people will want to send their children to our children's classes to get moral education.

We need to study Islam (as the Guardian suggested). Our motivation must be to be of service to the Cause, not an academic career. We need to help the world understand the price the Western world has paid for not recognizing Muhammad.

1. we now have the split between faith and reason

2. all the religious wars

Afternoon Session

Knowing what is going on challenges us to learn more about what it means to implement the Divine Plan. Our unity has won us a great international reputation. The purpose of this is to empower the masses of humanity to take charge of their own destinies. The administrative order is the instrument for doing this.

UHJ message at the opening of the terraces said:

- it is now easier to see the depth of suffering of much of mankind. The world needs a fundamental change of focus. Each individual must assume responsibility for the development of all of humanity.

Divisions between people are global in scope. It provided the motivations for the WTC terrorists. Wealth vs. poverty is the principle issue. Materialism has become the religion of many. Globalization is inevitable. It is the gross injustice of the unequal distribution of its benefits that is the problem. We can't take sides in this issue. WE MUST BE IDENTIFIED WITH THE NEEDS AND HOPES OF THE MASSES OF HUMANITY. The problems are the result of a hopelessly outdated economic system. It is a modern form of colonialism because it involves the exploitation of the masses of humanity.

Despite 50 years of effort in social and economic development, the gap between rich and poor is wider than ever and becoming a chasm.

Bahá'ís cannot fix this system. We can provide an alternative. The world needs a heroic example of a way to do it.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN BAHA'I COMMUNITY:

1. We have the capacity to solve the problem [but we are NOT morally superior]. 2. We need to look at our capacities (not our limitations) - our diversity of backgrounds makes us a model for unity. Immigrants immediately become members of the society (Americans or Canadians). - the US idea that we could create a new society (US constitution is a covenant). - we are preoccupied with morality [a problem if carried to extremes]. Europeans laugh at the scandals and say "why don't you just accept the imperfections of politicians". It is not in our nature to do so. We set very high expectations for our leaders.

-- these capacities allow US and Canada to serve as a model to the rest of the world. And it allows the Bahá'ís to do much for the world because of the example our society sets.

The US gov't now does things at the request of our NSA. They don't have to do it. Their capacity compels them to do it. This is an expression of the trust that 'Abdul-Baha gave to the US because he recognized our capacity.

Building of the arc on Mount Carmel was propelled by the spiritual leadership of the North American Bahá'ís. Our task has hardly begun. God will let us know when we are done.

Our success has altered the nature of our relationship with the rest of the world. Bahá'ís in other countries have followed our example (n the areas of social and economic development some of them have surpassed us).

The Bahá'í community no longer needs anyone else to show it how to do things (except occasionally for technical details). We have matured!

Service! We are now called upon to provide service to the rest of the world because we have the capacity. e.g., youth year of service (adults can do it too). We have a window of opportunity to provide this service that will not be open forever. Sept 11/01 was a wake-up call to tell us that our advantages won't last forever.

Our greatest contribution will be to be with other people in other parts of the world and help them with their projects. Not necessarily direct teaching. Sending money is NOT the answer. Most North American Bahá'ís do not appreciate the spiritual and moral qualities that are characteristic of our community (and to a lesser extent the US as a whole). We have:

openness of heart demonstrative nature concern for what is right fundamental attitude of goodwill toward others unquenchable confidence that change is possible

Be just as you are!!!!

Consider getting education in other parts of the world.

Requires courage but the rest of the Bahá'í world will follow our example.

When you are in other countries, the suffering you see will cause you great pain. Your job is NOT to alleviate the suffering. Bahá'u'lláh will take care of that through Huquq'ullah.

The Bab was the only true revolutionary in the last 300 years because his revolution was truly universal. (the US didn't have a revolution it had a war of independence).

Q A (misc topics)

College youth -- serving the cause and developing your talents are not contradictory goals. Need to seek out ways to do both at the same time.

Authority in the cause comes from the elected institutions. The Appointed institutions help us focus and influence our minds and character. We need a balance of both.

UHJ has already consulted with several heads of state (small countries) at their request. The process is teaching both us and them how to consult on bigger issues. Bahá'u'lláh is teaching the world to work together.

Need to work scientifically and systematically to get things done.

Hand of the Cause John Robarts said:

1. Pick one person who is close to the faith.

2. Say the Tablet of Ahmad every morning and every evening for them for 30 days.

3. If they don't declare, pick someone else to pray for.

Third Set of Other's Notes (3 of 3)



Date: Wed, 03 Oct 2001 03:34:54 0000 From: Toby Lou
"The fundamental purpose animating the Faith of God and His Religion is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men." Baha'u'lah

From: "Cheri W. Matthews"
September 23, 2001

Dear friends,

Allah'u'abha.

Please find forwarded below one individual's account of the meeting which took place in New York City this weekend with Mr. Douglas Martin, a member of the Universal House of Justice:

(Beginning of message):

Dear Friends, it was a blessed event; the friends of so many backgrounds gathered in the City of the Covenant, sharing prayers together and continuing the efforts to better understand how we can serve God and America and all of the human race more effectively.

Mr. Douglas Martin gave two wonderful talks. One was on the recently published book, Century of Light. That book was commissioned by the Universal House of Justice and Mr. Martin's remarks helped us put it into the context of interpretive history, so vital to our understanding of world events. At various stages, histories of the Faith and interpretations of world history have been provided: by Bahá'u'lláh (Epistle to the Son of the Wolf), 'Abdu'l-Bahá (Memorials to the Faithful; Secret of Divine Civilization; and A Traveller's Narrative) and the Beloved Guardian (God Passes By; the translation of the Dawnbreakers into English; the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh; the Promised Day is Come; and other letters). Mr. Martin's remarks helped us focus on the main point of the general human history during that century: the realization of the oneness of humankind. Never before was this more than a hope; now, it is our reality. Gone are the days of empires and ideologies of racial superiority. Those few who cling to these past standards are becoming more clearly a minority and a despised one at that; the KKK and the terrorists among them (Mr. Martin also mentioned bringing S. Milosevic to justice in the Netherlands; the accidental tourist to the land of tulips, as he put it!!!)

There was much more; I have notes and will try to put them together. Also, a video was made of both talks and, once edited, will be made available for purchase. -- -- -- -- The second talk was called "Taking Yes for an Answer" and focused on the American Bahá'í community, its role in the Divine Plan and future work. The topic came from the idea that Americans wonder at both the success of their efforts and the next steps to take. Mr. Martin pointed out that the world has said YES! to the Bahá'ís of America. The pioneers from North America have helped establish Bahá'í communities in all corners of the world and now those communities are largely indigenous peoples. The work of the Americans has born great fruit! This was most dramatically demonstrated at both the latest International Convention, in 1998, and the recent dedication of the Terraces in May. Grassroots leaders from all the peoples of the world are clearly the mainstay of all these Bahá'í communities. One very interesting point: often the first democratic election in many of these countries has been the election of their Bahá'í local Spiritual Assemblies! Thrilling!!!

America needs to send pioneers: internationally, while they can (Mr. Martin pointed towards how much harder it is becoming to travel) and on the homefront (NEPA needs these!!! Summon your friends!!!). We also can work to build up the Regional Bahá'í Institutes, which are evolving rapidly and becoming a marvelous tool for consolidation and for deepening believers, new and old alike.

America needs the model of living the Bahá'í life. Showing how people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and temperments can peaceably work together to build communities. WOW! Prayers for NEPA welcome!!! Time to roll up our sleeves again and find ways to help all of us come together again. Surely we can keep moving ahead without all the folks, but God clearly prefers that we bring our communities to life together! I recall the saying, God loves those who work in groups! Perhaps we can consult on how best to do this.

Mr. Martin also covered the Funds, in a most interesting way. Briefly, God gives nothing for free. The marvelous victories of recent years, culminating with the dedication of the Terraces and the emergence of the Faith from obscurity (way out of proportion to our numbers), were followed by the slowdown of the worldwide economy (now even worse) and the decrease in Huquq'u'llah payments. God challenged us to meet the new opportunities with less old-time funding and more resourcefulness. At a time of greater needs, there is less money. The international Fund will need support and the House of Justice has asked the NSA's to consult on these needs; they have also taken steps towards even greater economy, with a freeze on jobs at the World Center, among other things.

He also said American Bahá'ís should loyally support their government; he had many kind and strong things to say about the justness of the course set by the President. He cited the Aqdas (paragraph 88) where Bahá'u'lláh, addressing the Rulers of America, says: "Bind ye the broken with the hands of justice, and crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord, the Ordainer, the Wise."

So, that's a start on what Mr. Martin said. By the way, he also said that, and this again has me near tears, immediately when the House of Justice heard the news (of the 11th), they went to the Shrines and said the Prayer for America. We are in their thoughts and prayers. This is the House of Justice; yet, they more deeply define that term, JUSTICE; their love and kindness is so bountiful and so clear. What a blessing from GOD is this mighty Institution!!! What a term, justice, to ponder in these days ahead.

is this mighty Institution!!! What a term, "justice," to ponder in these days ahead.

Personal Notes from a Talk by Douglas Martin by Bob Sylvester

Boston Bahá'í Center -- Monday, September 23, 2001

Important Note

The following notes are personal notations taken during the talk and subsequent discussion held at the Boston Center last night. In some cases they represent, word for word what was said. As in any case when a tape recorder is not used these notes cannot be assumed to be a totally correct record of everything that was stated. They are not a transcript of the talk or of the question and answer period. However, the points raised and sentiments expressed by the Member of the Universal House of Justice, while those of a personal nature and made in his individual capacity, were so poignant to our present challenges in the Faith and so moving in its sense of hope that I felt bound to share with those who are involved in promoting Bahá'í education either as students or teachers, my perceptions of his talk.

Rather than use quotations I will simply make detailed summaries of his points, grouped by themes rather than in strict chronology. I have given each of the several themes a name simply to illustrate the range of images and sentiments expressed by the Member of the Universal House of Justice. There were over one hundred people at the meeting and the talk lasted approximately one hour followed by one hour of questions and answers.

Bob Sylvester

***********************

The World Community as the World Model.

We are everybody. We are everywhere. We are learning to take care of our affairs on a worldwide scale. The Faith is the door through which the whole human race must pass. We are at a point in human history when mankind must take up the task of collective decision-making. On the earth today there is no other body, representative of the diversity of mankind that is organized, worldwide, to take collective action.

When the Blessed Beauty was sent into exile with His Family and driven from place to place -- that forced migration became the paradigm for the whole human race. The migration of the human race from place to place on the globe is unstoppable and will radically alter the sense of place and of identity everywhere in the world.

The changes about to take place in the world and in the community present a situation in which we cannot envision what the needs of the Faith will be (in terms of expertise) ten years from now.

Discovering the Roots of Our Religious History

We are at the point of recovering the roots of our history in studying the mission of the Bab. The Bab was the only true revolutionary that the world has ever seen. Other so-called revolutionaries were only interested in themselves. His vision was both revolutionary and universal. His Revolution focused on altering the consciousness of mankind. The Bab was the Receptacle of an entirely new Order. He broke Words open. He needed to use vocabulary in a way that expressed conceptions that were beyond the capacity of the "educated" of the time.

Politics as a Parlor Game

Politics, worldwide, is like a parlor game, a sideshow of sorts. We all know that it is often like a dog and pony show. Bahá'ís respect the democratic system because, while far from perfect, is represents the sole protection to the sense of order that the world knows at this time. However, we do not deceive ourselves that the present form of democracy evident in the world today represents, in any manner, the future model of the world body politic. Unfortunately, political action groups worldwide tend to act in a form of the "theatre of the absurd."

The passion for dissent which is such a prominent part of this culture is an icon of American mythology that must be understood in the light of the Teachings, specifically, the law of obedience to a government.

We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Bahá'í belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to "taking partners with God" which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.

The Bahá'í Model of Learning and Serving

In this past century we have made remarkable progress in the development of the work of the Faith. Institutes are changing the understanding we have of the challenges of our role as a world community.

We are deepening around the world in a way that is releasing spiritual energies in urban and rural settings among both the simple and the highly educated.

The Universal House of Justice can now call upon a wonderfully wide range of expertise in the world-wide community that represents the best that the world can offer in terms of professional expertise in any specific field.

Students must not stop their studies. You cannot give it up. We have to be the best of what we do either intellectually or culturally. Anything that a believer does in this age is filled with risk. But we must remember that the Bab was a merchant and engaged in commerce. As well, the Master was a land merchant.

We must view the opportunities presented to us as a huge workshop or laboratory - thinking about this model of action and consultation may help us feel more comfortable with both consulting and with experimenting.

The Nature of Community and Individual Action

We have to see ourselves not as a "congregation" of believers or even as an association. The community must be seen as a movement. The mission of the youth, especially those who have access to higher education, is connected to a fundamental change in the community. Up to the present time the growth of the Faith has depended upon the efforts of individual teachers and collective committees. Now is the time when we fill in the spaces between those two approaches.

The challenges we present to Assemblies must take advantage of the full potential of those institutions as well as the full potential of the individual believers. The institutions are very powerful and will not be broken by the challenges that are presented to them.

Shoghi Effendi made it clear over sixty years ago that authority is vested in institutions and power is vested in individuals. The era that the community has moved into requires creative individuals in the community to use and to project their talents in collaboration with the institutions. We are entering a new stage in which new methodologies of action will be needed. We must present ourselves to the institutions with urgency, with impassioned interest and with an authentic voice.

The Recent Attacks in New York and Washington

The present conditions in the world are so fluid and complex that the worse thing we could do in the Faith right now would be to take a position on the current situation. What the friends could best do is to act in such a way that the Community is able to put forward a collective demonstration in the larger historical process which is underway. What the world needs from us right now is a sense of quiet and of confident assurance of America's spiritual mission. The poison of religious hatred, that this community has known directly for the past 150 years, is like a virus which must be expelled from the body politic of the world.

There is going to be a terrible moral struggle in America as it moves towards its spiritual destiny.

Another set of notes on Mr. Martin's talk at one of the locations in the U.S. in September, 2001. (notetaker unknown)

World Order.

This idea that religion will order society will be the principle target of attacks on the Faith. The history of civilization changed overnight (in one century) because the Hand of God moved it through these different processes. People have been catapulted out of the "graves" (dead systems). They are dazed, bewildered -- some are hastening to the fire, some to the light.

Our fellow citizens do not see the 20th Century as the Century of Light. They are grateful for medical advances, consumer goods, laws; but they associate it with the Holocaust, two world wars, tides of refugees sweeping across the world, economic chaos, epidemics.

They have missed the point of the 20th Century. As with a child developing in the womb, certain things must happen, and they must happen in a certain order to craft the New World. The 20th Century was like the first month in the womb, setting up the basics for the next 1,000 years.

The new book commissioned by the Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, spells this out. The Guardian said this 20th Century is like no other. We are at a great turning point. The 20th Century provided the hinge through which the Hand of God was able to turn civilization. Up to now the masses have been passengers on the train, while various elite groups drove the trains. The rest served their goals, good or bad. The masses will become protagonists of their development, says Bahá'u'lláh.
"I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceedeth out of His mouth than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause." (Bahá'u'lláh: Prayers and Meditations, Pages: 295-296)

Some see these processes as the devil's work. Some are so frightened that they do not want to live even in the 20th Century, let alone the 21st. The right century for them was the 19th. Others are waking up and seriously want answers.

The World Has Said Yes!

In the highest circles of the UN, people are consulting on Bahá'í issues! Bahá'ís coordinated the work of all the NGO's at the Millennial Summit. The permanent representative of the Bahá'í International Community was the Chair. Then the BIC was called to represent all of Civil Society at the governmental Millennium Summit -- the only NGO to do so. The Bahá'ís are talking to the world and the world is listening.

The Media Campaign is highly successful.
    • Seekers who call need a human contact after they call, not a pamphlet.

      Invite them to a study group or to children's classes.

Character of the North American Bahá'í Community

The North American people have powers, capacities and qualities greater than those in other countries. They are not better than others, they are not morally or in any other way superior, but their qualities and capacities have attracted the divine confirmations, allowing them to become world leaders.

Some of these qualities are:
    • DIVERSITY - including all the peoples of the world. This is a quality of all the America's, North and South.

      COVENANT - This is a covenantal society. The founders set out consciously to create a different kind of society. Do not turn it to self-righteousness.

      MORALITY - These societies are preoccupied with morality. (Europeans are not bothered by the morality of their leaders.) A concern for morality is a distinguishing characteristic of our society. Keep it! Do not turn it to moralizing.
'Abdu'l-Bahá had great faith in this community. We have fulfilled His trust (sometimes belatedly). We have a heritage of incredible accomplishment. The Bahá'í community has struggled to overcome the faults of their society. The confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh have made up for our inadequacies.

American Bahá'ís made a special contribution to the Arcs projects -- we gave spiritual leadership when it was desperately needed and there was no one else to provide it.

Do not let our confidence be shaken. We have great capacities and history. The peoples of the world for 1,000 years will be unspeakably grateful to the American Bahá'í Community for what we are doing now to lead the world.

The maturation of the U.S. Bahá'í community since the 60's has been breathtaking. People all over the world are saying yes to what the Bahá'ís, with the North American Bahá'ís in the lead, have been doing.

Some examples are:
    • SED projects all over the world, especially in India, Africa, Latin America.

      The Ruhi Institute, born in Columbia, gives us an instrument which makes it realistic for us to absorb 100,000's of believers through the Institute process. 95% of the Bahá'í world has adopted it.

      The Core Curriculum, with the education of children as its strength. We will integrate and refine all these systems to create the most effective system. Great creativity is going on all over the Bahá'í world.

Qualities of mind and heart that characterize American Bahá'ís and Americans in general:


    • Openness of heart Demonstrative nature

      Attitude of fundamental goodwill

      A concern with what is right

      Unquenchable optimism that change is possible

This 300 year old American social experiment and 100 years of Bahá'í sacrifice to the world has given us these qualities in our DNA.

The world needs our [American] character. The rest of the Bahá'í world will follow if we arise to serve. The Bahá'ís are the most organized and the most diverse group of people in the world. We have an extraordinary network worldwide.

When the Universal House of Justice asks us to move in this certain direction during this plan, we do it! The world is amazed by this level or organization.

Our Bahá'í Response

Service is what American Bahá'ís need -- to serve the Bahá'í World, to follow in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's footsteps. We must see the difficulties of the masses with our own eyes and know them with our own hearts.

The gap between the haves and the have-nots is in each city in the U.S. and every country in the world. The world's suffering will cause us great distress.

Keep one idea clearly in mind -- we are not responsible for solving the financial and economic difficulties of the world. Bahá'u'lláh will do this through Huququ'llah, with huge banks that will operate for the benefit of humankind in a system unprecedented in human history.

September 11 was a warning sign that we cannot assume that the opportunities open to us today will be open to us in a year. Do youth service now! Abroad or in the U.S. Go to college now, all over the world. Experience the Bahá'í Global Family! The Bahá'í World needs you. How should we respond to recent events? Be totally detached! Bahá'u'lláh has given us this directive: "Crush the oppressor who flourisheth with the rod of the commandments of your Lord." (Bahá'u'lláh: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page: 52)

Who knows more about these religious fanatics than the Bahá'ís who have been oppressed for 160 years? Read the prayer for America. Give it to everyone. Be an example of quiet assurance. It will work out; the governments will come up with a plan and carry it out. The USA has great clout. Support the government. This government has shown time and again that it will act morally and fearlessly.

Other Topics that came out of the Question and Answer Period

NO WOMEN ON THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE If it is true that women and men are equal in the faith and in the sight of God, why are there no women on the Universal House of Justice? I do not know. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says "we will know in time".

Underneath this question is the issue of freeing women from the subjugation they have experienced since the earliest days of humankind. We are only in the beginning process. We can demonstrate that we Bahá'ís have made real progress and are dedicated to this issue. For the first time in history, a body of only men has been charged by Bahá'u'lláh to bring about the total equality of the sexes. The Universal House of Justice had received a divine mandate, answerable to God individually and collectively.

THE TRUE REVOLUTIONARY The Bab was the true revolutionary in an age of revolutionaries. His revolution went to the roots of human motivation. It launched us on our course. Armies of young Bahá'ís will look at the Bab and His band of heroes again and they will be inspired in music, drama, heart and action.

HOW TO CREATE A CULTURE OF ENCOURAGEMENT? We have reason to be encouraged. We have been so successful! The authority is in institutions, but the power to accomplish is in the body of the believers. Progress is not done by committee, but by free enterprise. Our LSA's and our community must encourage talents, appreciate talents. TAKE RISKS!! Ask Ralph, Shari or Cindy to tell you the Mona story and the Terrace tours story.

QUALITY OF CONSULTATION OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

LIMITLESS PATIENCE is needed to arrive at full consensus and unity. Each topic is given endless discussion as long as its original, even for some tiny subject from some tiny NSA. Time is different somehow in the Universal House of Justice chamber.

In quietest moment, a tiny idea emerges that everyone accepts. Sometimes the members cannot arrive at a solution to a problem and it is put on the back burner. Then, in another consultation on a different topic, days, weeks or even months later, we realize that we have discovered the answer to the first question. If you ask, "why did the House decide this way?" about an issue, you might get nine different answers because why doesn't matter. God has directed that this decision be made.

TOTAL CANDOR AND FRANKNESS - you can say anything.

CIVILITY - Mr. Douglas never imagined that this atmosphere of civility could exist with the total frankness. Personal friendships do not matter. Real love pervades all.

ADDENDUM

The Difference Between talks and Tablets

"Shoghi Effendi [Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith] has laid down the principle that the Bahá'ís should not attribute much importance to talks, reported to have been given by the Master, if these have not in one form or other obtained his sanction.

"Bahá'u'lláh has made it clear enough that only those things that have been revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays may be a matter of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching of Bahá'u'lláh was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which attribute binding authority to all reported sayings of Muhammad.

"This being a basic principle of the Faith we should not confuse Tablets that were actually revealed and mere talks attributed to the founders of the Cause. The first have absolute binding authority while the latter can in no way claim our obedience. The highest thing this can achieve is to influence the activities of the one who has heard the saying in person.

"Those talks of the Master that were reviewed by Him corrected or in some other form considered authentic by Himself, such as the 'Some Answered Questions', these could be considered as Tablets and therefore be given the necessary binding power. All other talks such as are included in Ahmad's diary or the diary of pilgrims, do not fall under this category and could be considered only as interesting material to be taken for what they are worth.

"For this reason Shoghi Effendi has not been encouraging the publication of reported sayings that were not authenticated by the Master Himself. And when he said that they may be published if quotations marks are taken away, Shoghi Effendi tried to prevent the friends from considering as actual words of the Master things that were not authenticated by Him."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the United States Publishing Committee, December 29, 1931 -- Taken from Principles of Bahá'í Administration, page 33. Also found in Lights of Guidance, page 439)

One of the questions asked of Mr. Martin concerned the role of the Universal House of Justice in the establishment of the Lesser Peace. For additional references on this role and the relationship of the Bahá'í Community to the establishment of the Lessor Peace see the supplemental section at the bottom of Mr. Mitchell's talk in Atlanta.
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