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TAGS: Meditation; Prayer; Questions and answers; Spiritualization; Teaching; Tests; Tree symbolism
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Abstract:
Compilations for a spiritualization and teaching campaign on prayer and meditation, how to be like the "shining examples" of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, and the 1992 Ridvan message.
Notes:

The Tree of Life:
A Program for the Spiritualization of the Bahá'í Community

by National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands

Honolulu: Baha'i Publishing Trust, 1993
Contents
    Introduction
    • Essential Prerequisites for Spiritual Growth

    Prayer and Meditation

    • What is Prayer and Why Should We Pray?
    • What are the Benefits of Prayers?
    • Could Prayers Help Us in Teaching?
    • Can Prayers Change Our Fate?
    • Could Every Believer Be Blessed By Bahá'u'lláh?
    • How Could a Prayerful Attitude Be Developed?
    • To Whom Do We Pray?
    • Where is the Qiblih?
    • Are There Different Kinds of Prayer?
    • What are the Three Obligatory Prayers?
    • What is Meditation and How Should It Be Done?
    • What is Mashriqu'l-Adhkár?
    • References for "Prayer and Meditation

    Shining Examples

    • What is the King of Days?
    • What is the Station of His Holiness the Báb?
    • What is the Station of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh?
    • What is the Purpose of God in Manifesting Himself?
    • What are the Station and Duties of a True Believer?
    • How Do We Establish Distinction Through the Power of Spirituality?
    • What are the Signs of True Faith?
    • What is Our Role in Building "The Temple of the Hearts"?
    • What Do We Gain by Perseverance in Times of Tests and Sufferings?
    • How Should We Overcome Our Differences?
    • Why Should We Teach the Faith?
    • What is the Best Way to Teach the Cause of God?
    • What is Selfless Service in the Work of the Cause and How Could it Be Achieved?
    • References for "Shining Examples"

    Tree of Life

      Graphic Images

    • The Human Soul Has Always Been Compared to a Tree Living a Fruitful Life
    • Living a Fruitful Life

    Reflections on the 1992 Ridvan Message from the Universal House of Justice

    • Spiritualization
    • Proclamation
    • Teaching
    • Maturation
    • External Affairs

INTRODUCTION

This study guide brings together three compilations produced by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands for a spiritualization and teaching campaign which began in 1991 and continues to animate the activities of a growing national Bahá'í community.

The plan for spiritualization asks each believer to work on implementing into his or her daily life six steps which, when followed consistently, will lead to personal transformation and the gradual transformation of the family, community, and eventually the whole of humankind. These requisites for spiritual growth were identified by the Universal House of Justice in a letter to the European Bahá'í communities in 1984. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory prayers and the reading every morning and evening of the Sacred Scriptures, along with prayerful meditation on the Writings, create new spiritual energy to help us in our daily endeavor to bring our behavior more fully into accordance with the standards set forth in the teachings. We are also asked to teach the Cause of God and to perform selfless service both in the work of the Cause and in our trade or profession. As every believer is actively engaged in implementing this spiritual program in daily life, the Spiritual Assembly provides the necessary guidance and activities that foster community life in support of spiritualization.

These compilations were intended to lend needed assistance to the plan for the spiritualization of the Bahá'í community. "Prayer and Meditation" enhances the first three steps by shedding light on the significant influences of constant and daily prayers and meditation in the lives of the believers. "Shining Examples" provides support for the last three steps which channel spiritual energy into a transforming Bahá'í community. "The Tree of Life" graphically illustrates the entire process of spiritual transformation and suggests an organized approach to the expansion and consolidation of the Bahá'í community Each section organizes selected quotations from the Bahá'í Sacred Writings around a series of basic questions or topics to create themes for discussion and study.

It is our hope that this publication will inspire every conscientious Bahá'í to translate into daily practice these six requisites for spiritual growth and to set out on the path of spiritualization leading to the transformation of the individual and society.

THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
ESSENTIAL PREREQUISITES FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH

1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

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

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

4. Striving everyday to bring our behavior more in accordance with the standards that are set forth in the teachings.

5. Teaching the Cause of God.

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

Six points stressed in a letter from the Universal House of Justice

for the attainment of true spirituality.


PRAYER & MEDITATION

A Study Guide Prepared by the

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís

of the Hawaiian Islands

Prayer and Meditation

WHAT IS PRAYER & WHY SHOULD WE PRAY?

"prayer - Supplication to, or communion with, God.

"In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh sets out the law of prayer: 'We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers.' Bahá'ís are enjoined by BahiV11Sh to pray every morning and evening' Recite ye the verses of God every morning and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God...' Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá revealed many prayers which Bahá'ís are encouraged to use." 1

"The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of his Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof, hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behooveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine inspiration." 2

"Recite ye the verses of God every morning, and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly

0

failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom, hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, 0 concourse of My servants." 3

"It behooveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord win decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom." 4

"The prayerful condition is the best of all conditions, for man in such a state communeth with God, especially when prayer is offered in private and at times when one's mind is free, such as at midnight. Indeed, prayer imparteth life." 5

"He feels more emphasis should be laid on the importance and power of prayer, including the use of The Greatest Name, but not over-emphasizing. It is the spirit behind the words which is really important.' 6

"Alláh-u-Abhá [Arl God is Most Glorious, God is All-Glorious. A farm of the Greatest Name, used as a greeting among Bahá'ís. It replaced 'Alláh-u-Akbar' (God is Most Great), the greeting of Islam, during the years Bahá'u'lláh lived in Adrianople, although the Báb had approved both of these greetings as well as 'Alláh-u-Ajmal' (God is Most Beauteous). Shoghi Effendi directed that 'Alláh-u-Abhá' should not be said at the end of prayers and advised not to use it indiscriminately in public in the West lest it give the impression of the Faith being a strange Oriental sect." 7

"The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for nun is then associating with God." 8

"Remembrance of Me is a healing medicine to the souls and a light to the hearts of mm" 9

"Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it." 10

"Only in, the remembrance of God can the heart find rest." 11

Another correspondent asked:- 'Why pray? What is the wisdom thereof, for God has established everything and executes all affairs after the best order-therefore, what is the wisdom in beseeching and supplicating and in stating one's wants and seeking help?"

'Abdu'l-Bahá replied. "Know thou, verily, it is becoming

., in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Hun and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication, brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.

"During thy supplications to God and thy reciting, 'Thy Name is my healing,' consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the kingdom of God! By these attractions one's ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged, the water increases; and when the thirst grows, the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one's wants." 12

"0 thou spiritual friend! Thou hast asked the wisdom of prayer. Know thou that prayer is indispensable and obligatory, and man under no pretext whatsoever is excused from performing the prayer unless he be mentally unsound, or an insurmountable obstacle prevent him. 1

"The wisdom of prayer is this: that it causeth a connection between the servant and die, True One, because in that state man with all heart and soul turneth his face towards His Highness the Almighty, seeking His association and desiring His love and compassion The greatest happiness for a lover is to converse with his beloved, and the greatest gift for a seeker is to become familiar with the object of his longing;- that is why with every soul who is attracted to the kingdom of God, his greatest hope is to find an opportunity to entreat and supplicate before his Beloved, appeal for Flis mercy and grace and be immersed in the ocean of His utterance, goodness and generosity.

"Beside all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection. and preservation from tests."

 

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PRAYERS?

"Universal House of Justice wrote to us in March 1981:

"Beloved friends, the world moves deeper into the heart of darkness as its old order is rolled up. Pursuing our objectives with confidence, optimism, and an unshakeable resolve, we must never forget that our service is a spiritual one. Mankind is dying for lack of true religion and this is what we have to offer to humanity. It is the love of God, manifest in the appearance of Bahá'íu'lláh, which will feed the hungry souls of the world and eventually lead the peoples out of the present morass into the orderly, uplifting, and soul-inspiring task of establishing God's Kingdom on earth" 14

"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential." 15

"0 thou who hast bowed thyself down in prayer before the Kingdom of God! Blessed art thou, for the beauty of the divine Countenance hath enraptured thy heart, and the light of inner wisdom hath filled it full, and within it shineth the brightness of the Kingdom. Know thou that God is with thee under all conditions, and that He guardeth thee from the changes and chances of this world and hath made thee a handmaid of in His Mighty vineyard 16

"He wishes again to assure you he will pray for your spiritual advancement in the Holy Shrines. The power of God can entirely transmute our characters and make of us beings entirely unlike our previous selves. Through prayer and supplication, obedience to the divine laws Bahá'u'lláh has revealed, and ever-increasing service to His Faith, we can change ourselves." 17

"The problem with which you are faced is one which concerns and seriously puzzles many of our present-day youth. How to attain spirituality is indeed a question to which every young man arid woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because n6 such satisfactory answer has been given or found, that the modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundations of man's moral and spiritual life.

"Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is the lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilisation of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind that people in general do no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence. There is not sufficient demand for things that we should call spiritual to differentiate them from the needs and requirements of our physical existence.

"The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook on life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit.

"It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal. is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man which has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organisation, and becomes a dead thing.

"The believers, particularly the young ones, should, therefore, fully realise the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, as already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God." 18

"The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character.

However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realise is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Bahá'u'lláh to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will power in mastering ourselves." 19

COULD PRAYERS HELP US IN TEACHING?

"Say: Deliver your souls, 0 people, from the bondage of self, and purify them from all attachment to anything besides Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it. Say: Were all created things to be entirely divested of the veil of worldly vanity and desire, the Hand of God would in this Day clothe them, one and all, with the robe "He doeth whatsoever He willeth in the kingdom of creation," that thereby the sign of His sovereignty might be manifested in all things. Exalted then be He, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Almighty, the Supreme Protector, the All Glorious, the Most Powerful.

Intone 0 My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb.

"Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom." 20

"Unlock, 0 people, the gates of the hearts of men with the keys of the remembrance of Him Who is the Remembrance Of God and the Source of wisdom amongst you. He hath chosen out of the whole world the hearts of His servants, and made them each a seat for the revelation of His glory. Wherefore, sanctify them from every defilement, that the things for which they were created may be engraven upon them. This indeed is a token of God's bountiful favor." 21

 

CAN PRAYERS CHANGE OUR FATE?

"Know thou, 0 fruit of MY Tree, that the decrees of the Sovereign Ordainer, as related to fate and predestination, are of two kinds. Both are to be obeyed and accepted. The one is irrevocable, the other is, as termed by men, impending. To the former all must unreservedly submit, inasmuch as it is fixed and settled. God, however, is able to alter or repeal it. As the harm that must result from such a change will be greater than if the decree had remained unaltered, all, therefore, should willingly acquiesce in what God hath willed and confidently abide by the same. The decree that is impending, however, is such that prayer and entreaty can succeed in averting it.

"God grant that thou who art the fruit of My Tree, and they that are associated with thee, may be shielded from its evil consequences." 22

"0 thou who art turning thy face towards God! Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the realm of the All-Glorious. Ask whatsoever thou wishest of Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone. With a look He granteth a hundred thousand hopes, with a glance He healeth a hundred thousand incurable ills, with a glimpse He layeth balm m every wound, with a nod He freeth the hearts from the shackles of grief. He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord." 23

COULD EVERY BELIEVER BE BLESSED BY BAHÁ'U'LLÁH?

"0 ye dear friends of 'Abdu'l-Bahá! At all times do I await your good news, longing as I do to hear that ye are making progress from day to day, and are becoming ever more illumined by the light of guidance.

"The blessings of Bahá'u'lláh are a shoreless sea, and even life everlasting is only a dewdrop therefrom. The waves of that sea are continually lapping against the hearts of the friends, from those waves there come intimations of the spirit and ardent pulsings of the soul, until the heart giveth way, and willing or not, turneth humbly in prayer unto the Kingdom of the Lord. Wherefore do all ye can to disengage your inner selves, that ye may at every moment reflect new splendours from the Sun of Truth.

"Ye live, all of you, within the heart of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and with every breath do I turn my face toward the Threshold of Oneness and call down blessings upon you, each and all." 24

HOW COULD A PRAYERFUL ATTITUDE BE DEVELOPED?

"Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, arid so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men.

Tire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise.

"Although when true worship is offered, the worshiper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the paradise of God's good pleasure, yet such should not be the motive of his act. However, God's favor and grace ever flow in accordance with the exigencies of His inscrutable wisdom.

"The most acceptable prayer. is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is not beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God." 25

"Prayer, verily, bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares." 26

"At the dawn of every day he [the true seeker] should commune with God and, with all his soul, persevere in the quest of his Beloved." 27

"The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest ,give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and not be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted Summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion." 28

If one friend loves another, is it not natural that he should wish to say so? Though he knows that that friend is aware of his love, does he still not wish to tell him of it? ... It is true that God knows the wishes of all hearts; but the impulse to pray is a natural one, springing from man's love to God.

"... Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and action. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing. If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, finding neither love nor enjoyment in the meeting, do you to converse with him?" 29

"0 Son of Glory! Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High." 30

"True remembrance is to make mention of the Lord, the All-Praised, and forget aught else beside Him 31

"Depend thou upon God. Forsake thine own will and cling to His; set aside thine own desires and lay hold of His..." 32

"Set all thy hope in God, and cleave tenaciously to His unfailing mercy." 33

Renunciation and detachment

"Regarding the inner spirit of our prayers or meditations, Bahá'u'lláh uses two interesting words; they are 'renunciation' and 'detachment'. The Latin root of 'attachment' is 'tacca', meaning a nail or tack. It suggests that we are firmly pinned to this world by the nail of materialism. We can free ourselves only by renunciation, that is, the denial of self-will arid the adoption of God's Will. In the Kitáb-i-Íqan Bahá'u'lláh talks of 'those people who, despite the love and yearning for truth which they profess, curse the followers of Truth when once He hath been made manifest.' If we take our self-will with us into prayer we are in danger of being hypocritical, that is, paying, lip-service to virtue but firmly pinned to the ground of self-will:

"... The wine of renunciation must needs be quaffed, the lofty heights of detachment must needs be attained, and the meditation referred to in the words 'One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship' must needs be observed, so that the secret of the wretched behaviour of the people might be discovered, those people who, despite the love and yearning for truth which they profess, curse the followers of Truth when once He hath been made manifest." 34

"It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, "supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised: 'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well Beloved." 35

"Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause-a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future." 36

"Those who have ascended have different attributes from those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.

"In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray for them as they pray for you!" 37

TO WHOM DO WE PRAY?

"While praying it would be better to turn. one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself 38

"You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: it all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh." 39

WHERE IS THE QIBLIH?

"The Qiblih:

(a) Identified by the Báb with "The One Whom God will make manifest."

(b) The appointment made by the Báb is confirmed by BahfiVI1Sh.

(c) Bahá'u'lláh ordains His resting-place as the Qiblih after His passing.

(d) Turning to the Qiblih is mandatory while reciting the Obligatory Prayers." 40

ARE THERE DIFFERENT KINDS OF PRAYER?

1) Obligatory Prayer

2) General Prayers (non-obligatory)

3) Prayer for the Dead (the only congregational prayer)

"'Congregational Prayer' is forbidden except the Prayer for the Dead." 41

 

"The Obligatory Prayers are binding on men and women on attaining the age of maturity, which is fixed at 15." 42

"The sublime station occupied by the Obligatory Prayers in the Bahá'í Revelation." 43

0

"The simplicity characterising the offering of Bahá'í prayers, whether obligatory or otherwise, should be maintained. Rigidity and rituals should be strictly avoided." 44

 

" Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are-like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers, are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two." 45

"The Obligatory Prayers should be offered individually.

"The choice of one of the three Obligatory Prayers is permissible.

By "morning", "noon" and "evening", mentioned in connection with the Obligatory Prayers, is meant respectively the interval between sunrise and noon, between noon and sunset, and from sunset till two hours after sunset.

"The recital of the first (long) Obligatory Prayer, once in twenty-four hours is sufficient.

It is preferable to offer the third (short) Obligatory Prayer while standing.

"Ablutions:

(a) Ablutions must precede the recital of the Obligatory Prayers. [NOTE: Ablutions-washing the hands and face in preparation for prayer.]

(b) For every Obligatory Prayer fresh ablutions must be performed." 46

"...the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones..." 47

"The Guardian particularly appreciates the fact that you have been faithfully observing Bahá'u'lláh 's injunction regarding the recital of the daily obligatory prayers, and have thereby set such a high example before your Bahá'í fellow-youth. These daily prayers have been endowed with a special potency which only those who regularly recite them can adequately appreciate. The friends should therefore endeavour to make daily use of these prayers, whatever the peculiar circumstances and conditions of their life." 48

"Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain" 49

WHAT ARE THE THREE OBLIGATORY PRAYERS?

SHORT OBLIGATORY PRAYER

TO BE RECITED ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS, AT NOON

I bear witness, 0 my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting." 50

MEDIUM OBLIGATORY PRAYER

TO BE RECITED DAILY, IN THE MORNING, AT NOON, AND IN THE EVENING

'Whoso wisheth to pray, let him wash his hands, and while he washeth, let him say:

"Strengthen my hand, 0 my God, that it may take hold of Thy Book with such steadfastness that the hosts of the world shall have no power over it. Guard it, then, from meddling with whatsoever doth not belong unto it. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Most Powerful.

'And while washing his face, let him say:

"I have turned my face unto Thee,. 0 my Lord! Illumine, it with the light of Thy countenance. Protect it, then, from turning to anyone but Thee." 51

 

'Then let him stand up, and facing the Qiblih (Point of Adoration, i.e., Bahji, 'Akkd), let him say:

"God testifieth that there is none other God but Him. His are the kingdoms of Revelation and of creation. He, in truth, hath manifested Him Who Is the Dayspring of Revelation, Who conversed on Sinai, through Whom the Supreme Horizon hath been made to shine, and the Lote-Tree beyond which there is no passing hath spoken, and through Whom the call hath been proclaimed unto all who are in heaven and on earth. "Lo, the All-Possessing is come. Earth and heaven, glory and dominion are God's, the Lord of all men, and the Possessor of the Throne on high and of earth below!

'Let him. then, bend down, with hands resting on the knees, and say:

"Exalted art Thou above my praise and the praise of anyone beside me, above my description and the description of all who are in heaven and all who are on earth!

'Then, standing with open hands, palnu upward toward the face, let him say

:

"Disappoint not, 0 my God, him that hath, with beseechina finaers, cluna to the hem of Thy mercy and Thy grace, 0 Thou Who of those who show mercy art the Most Merciful!

"Let him. then, be seated and say:

I bear witness to Thy unity and Thy oneness, and that Thou art God, and that there is none other God beside Thee. Thou hast, verily, revealed Thy Cause, fulfilled Thy Covenant, and opened wide the door of Thy grace to all that dwell in heaven and on earth Blessing and peace, salutation and glory, rest upon Thy loved ones, whom the changes and chances of the world have not deterred from turning unto Thee, and who have given their all, in the hope of obtaining that which is with Thee. Thou art, in truth, the Ever-Forgiving, the All-Bountiful.

(If anyone choose to recite instead of the long verse these words: "God testifieth that there is none other God but Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting," it would be sufficient. And likewise, it would suffice were he, while seated, to choose to recite these words: 'I bear witness to Thy unity and Thy oneness, and that Thou are God, and that there is none other God beside Thee.)

-Bahá'u'lláh.52

NOTE.. There is nothing in the writings to indicate that the believer cannot read the Obligatory Prayers from the book until such time that he or she knows them by heart.

Ablutions and Other Movements to Accompany the Recitation of the Long Obligatory Prayer

"Concerning the movements to accompany the recitations of the long Obligatory Prayer, in response to an enquiry from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Near East, the House of Justice stated in a letter dated September 1, 1975:

'Ablutions are necessary for all three Obligatory Prayers.'

'Reciting the words specified in the medium Obligatory Prayer, i.e. for the short and long Obligatory Prayers it would be sufficient to wash one's hands and face in preparation for each of these two prayers.

"However, the Universal House of Justice has stated to National Spiritual Assemblies in the West that no issue should be made of this matter at the present time and since it has not been clarified and applied in detail to the western believers, they are under no obligation to go beyond the instructions given by the beloved Guardian in 'Prayers and Meditations' in which ablutions are prescribed only in connection with the medium Obligatory Prayer.

"The instruction to raise one's hands occurs once in the medium Obligatory Prayer and five times in the long Obligatory Pray second and fourth occasions in the long Prayer is the same as that used in the medium Prayer.

Therefore it would be entirely correct for the worshipper, when raising his hands on these occasions during the recitation of the long Obligatory Prayer to follow the more specific instructions given in English by the Guardian in his translation of the medium one. On the third and fifth occasions the instruction is given in the lone, Prayer, the words 'in supplication' are omitted. The House of Justice does not wish at this time to give any specific guidance in this connection; it leaves the matter to the discretion of the friends." 53

The Correct Position for 'Sitting' During Obligatory Prayer

"...one of the believers asked the Guardian a question about the correct position for sitting. From the context it seems clear that this question is related to the medium Prayer, but this is not explicitly stated. The Guardian's reply states that sitting on a chair is permissible, but to sit on the floor is preferable and more fitting." 54

Each One Must Say His Obligatory Prayer by Himself

"As to the obligatory prayer: Each one must say his prayer alone by himself, and this is not conditional on a private place; that is, both at home and in the worshipping-place, which is a gathering-place, it is allowable for one to say his prayer; but each person must say his prayer by himself. But if they chant supplications together, in a good and effective voice, that is very good." 55

'Alláh'u'Abhá' is the Form of the Greatest Name to be Used in the Long Obligatory Prayer

"Shoghi Effendi has explained that 'Alláh-u-Abhá' should be used when the Greatest Name is to be repeated three times in the long Obligatory Prayer." 56

Instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer

"The Universal House of Justice received your letter of 7 January 1975, enquiring about the correct way of following certain instructions in the Long Obligatory Prayer, and has asked us to give you this reply.

"In following the direction stating: 'Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say':... the believer does not have to read twice the Paragraph which follows. Whether the believer raises his hands twice before the reciting of the paragraph, or commences the reciting after having raised his hands once, and raises them a second time soon thereafter, is left to his choice.

"As to the direction which states: 'Let him then raise his hands thrice, and say:..., an individual believer asked the beloved Guardian the following question:

"...the direction to raise the hands thrice and say 'Greater is God than every great one.' Does this mean after every raising of the hands, or only to be said once, after the three raisings?'

"Shoghi Effendi's secretary answered on his behalf as follows:

"The hands should be raised three times and each time the sentence 'be repeated in conjunction with the act." 57

LONG OBLIGATORY PRAYER

TO BE RECITED ONCE IN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS

Whoso wisheth to recite this prayer, let him stand up and turn unto God, and, as he standeth in his place, let him gaze to the right and to the left, as if awaiting the mercy of his Lord, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate. Then let him say:

O Thou Who art the Lord of all names and the Maker of the heavens! I beseech Thee by them Who are the Daysprings of Thine invisible Essence, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious, to make of my prayer a fire that will burn away the veils which have shut me out from Thy beauty, and a light that will lead me unto the ocean of Thy Presence.

Let him then raise his hands in supplication toward God - blessed and exalted be He - and say:

O Thou the Desire of the world and the Beloved of the nations! Thou seest me turning toward Thee, and clinging to Thy cord, through whose movement the whole creation hath been stirred up. I am Thy servant, O my Lord, and the son of Thy servant. Behold me standing ready to do Thy will and Thy desire, and wishing naught else except Thy good pleasure. I implore Thee by the Ocean of Thy mercy and the Daystar of Thy grace to do with Thy servant as Thou willest and pleasest. By Thy might which is far above all mention and praise! Whatsoever is revealed by Thee is the desire of my heart and the beloved of my soul. O God, my God! Look not upon my hope and my doings, nay rather look upon Thy will that hath encompassed the heavens and the earth. By Thy Most Great Name, O Thou Lord of all nations! I have desired only what Thou didst desire, and love only what Thou dost love.

Let him then kneel, and bowing his forehead to the ground, let him say:

Exalted art Thou above the description of anyone save Thyself, and the comprehension of aught else except Thee.

Let him then stand and say:

Make my prayer, O my Lord, a fountain of living waters whereby I may live as long as Thy sovereignty endureth, and may make mention of Thee in every world of Thy worlds.

Let him again raise his hands in supplication, and say:

O Thou in separation from Whom hearts and souls have melted, and by the fire of Whose love the whole world hath been set aflame! I implore Thee by Thy Name through which Thou hast subdued the whole creation, not to withhold from me that which is with Thee, O Thou Who rulest over all men! Thou seest, O my Lord, this stranger hastening to his most exalted home beneath the canopy of Thy majesty and within the precincts of Thy mercy; and this transgressor seeking the ocean of Thy forgiveness; and this lowly one the court of Thy glory; and this poor creature the orient of Thy wealth. Thine is the authority to command whatsoever Thou willest. I bear witness that Thou art to be praised in Thy doings, and to be obeyed in Thy behests, and to remain unconstrained in Thy bidding.

Let him then raise his hands, and repeat three time the Greatest Name. Let him then bend down with hands resting on the knees before God - blessed and exalted be He - and say:

Thou seest, O my God, how my spirit hath been stirred up within my limbs and members, in its longing to worship Thee, and in its yearning to remember Thee and extol Thee; how it testifieth to that whereunto the Tongue of Thy Commandment hath testified in the kingdom of Thine utterance and the heaven of Thy knowledge. I love, in this state, O my Lord, to beg to Thee all that is with Thee, that I may demonstrate my poverty, and magnify Thy bounty and Thy riches, and may declare my powerlessness, and manifest Thy power and Thy might.

Let him then stand and raise his hands twice in supplication, and say:

There is no God but Thee, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful. There is no God but Thee, the Ordainer, both in the beginning and in the end. O God, my God! Thy forgiveness hath emboldened me, and Thy mercy hath strengthened me, and Thy call hath awakened me, and Thy grace hath raised me up and led me unto Thee. Who, otherwise, am I that I should dare to stand at the gate of the city of Thy nearness, or set my face toward the lights that are shining from the heaven of Thy will? Thou seest, O my Lord, this wretched creature knocking at the door of Thy grace, and this evanescent soul seeking the river of everlasting life from the hands of Thy bounty. Thine is the command at all times, O Thou Who art the Lord of all names; and mine is resignation and willing submission to Thy will, O Creator of the heavens!

Let him then raise his hands thrice, and say:

Greater is God than every great one!

Let him then kneel and, bowing his forehead to the ground, say:

Too high art Thou for the praise of those who are nigh unto Thee to ascend unto the heaven of Thy nearness, or for the birds of the hearts of them who are devoted to Thee to attain to the door of Thy gate. I testify that Thou hast been sanctified above all attributes and holy above all names. No God is there but Thee, the Most Exalted, the All-Glorious.

Let him then seat himself and say:

I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things, and the Concourse on high, and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise, and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon, that Thou art God, that there is no God but Thee, and that He who hath been manifested is the Hidden Mystery, the Treasured Symbol, through Whom the letters B and E (Be) have been joined and knit together. I testify that it is He Whose name hath been set down by the Pen of the Most High, and Who hath been mentioned in the Books of God, the Lord of the Throne on high and of earth below.

Let him then stand erect and say:

O Lord of all being and Possessor of all things visible and invisible! Thou dost perceive my tears and the sighs I utter, and hearest my groaning, and my wailing, and the lamentation of my heart. By Thy might! My trespasses have kept me back from drawing nigh unto Thee; and my sins have held me far from the court of Thy holiness. Thy love, O my Lord, hath enriched me, and separation from Thee hath destroyed me, and remoteness from Thee hath consumed me. I entreat Thee by Thy footsteps in this wilderness, and by the words "Hear am I. Here am I" which Thy chosen Ones have uttered in this immensity, and by the breaths of Thy Revelation, and the gentle winds of the Dawn of Thy Manifestation, to ordain that I may gaze on Thy beauty and observe whatsoever is in Thy Book.

Let him then repeat the Greatest Name thrice, and bend down with hands resting on the knees, and say:

Praise be to Thee, O my God, that Thou hast aided me to remember Thee and to praise Thee, and hast made known unto me Him Who is the Dayspring of Thy signs, and hast caused me to bow down before Thy Lordship, and humble myself before Thy Godhead, and to acknowledge that which hath been uttered by the Tongue of Thy grandeur.

Let him then rise and say:

O God, my God! My back is bowed by the burden of my sins, and my heedlessness hath destroyed me. Whenever I ponder my evil doings and Thy benevolence, my heart melteth within me, and my blood boileth in my veins. By Thy Beauty, O Thou the Desire of the world! I blush to life up my face to Thee, and my longing hands are ashamed to stretch forth toward the heaven of Thy bounty. Thou seest, O my God, how my tears prevent me from remembering Thee and from extolling Thy virtues, O Thou the Lord of the Throne on high and of earth below! I implore Thee by the signs of Thy Kingdom and the mysteries of Thy Dominion to do with Thy loved ones as becometh Thy bounty, O Lord of all being, and is worthy of Thy grace, O KIng of the seen and the unseen!

Let him then repeat the Greatest Name thrice, and kneel with his forehead to the ground, and say:

Praise be unto Thee, O our God, that Thou hast sent down unto us that which draweth us nigh unto Thee, and supplieth us with every good thing sent down by Thee in Thy Books and Thy Scriptures. Protect us, we beseech Thee, O my Lord, from the hosts of idle fancies and vain imaginations. Thou, in truth, art the Mighty, the All-Knowing.

Let him then raise his head, and seat himself, and say:

I testify, O my God, to that whereunto thy chosen Ones have testified, and acknowledge that which the inmates of the all-highest Paradise and those who have circled round Thy mighty Throne have acknowledged. The kingdoms of earth and heaven are Thine, O Lord of the worlds!

- Bahá'u'lláh

-- Compilation, Bahá'í Prayers

Questions from the Obligatory Prayers:

  1. In the medium prayer, who is the Lote-Tree?
  2. In the long prayer, "..and that He who hath been manifested is the Hidden Mystery, the Treasured Symbol, through whom the letters B and E (Be) have been joined and knit together. What is the station of Bahá'u'lláh?

WHAT IS MEDITATION, AND HOW SHOULD IT BE DONE?

"Bahá'u'lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time - he cannot both speak and meditate.

1t is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.

"You cannot apply the name 'man' to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts.

"Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit - the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation." The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food.

"Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; where the power of insight is being, used the outward power of vision does not see.

"This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God." 59

"The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers and as such is highly commendable." 60

"Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must ao also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential." 61

"One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship..." 62

"Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit-the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation.

The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives divine inspiration; through it he receives heavenly food

"This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God.

"This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very kingdom of God. Nevertheless, some thoughts are useless to man; they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the inner light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed.

"The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects, it will reflect them. Therefore, if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects, he will be informed of these.

"But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the kingdom will be obtained.

"Therefore, let us keep this faculty rightly directed-turning it to the heavenly Sun and not to earthly objects-so that we may discover the secrets of the kingdom, and comprehend the allegories of the Bible and the mysteries of the spirit." 63

"Investigate and study the Holy Scriptures word by word so that you may attain knowledge of the mysteries hidden therein. Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words.... These are the mysteries of God. It is not the reading of the words that profits you; it is the understanding of their meanings. Therefore, pray God that you may be enabled to comprehend the mysteries of the divine Testaments.... All the texts and teachings of the holy Testaments have intrinsic spiritual meanings. They are not to be taken literally.... May your souls be illumined by the light of the Words of God, and may you become repositories of the mysteries of God, for no comfort is greater and no happiness is sweeter than spiritual comprehension of the divine teachings." 64

"Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to die power and mercy of God., but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing BahiVI1Ah or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it-" 65

"It behooveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord will decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom." 66

"Sadratu'I-Muntahá [Ar] The 'Tree beyond which there is no passing'. Originally the tree which, in ancient times, the Arabs planted to mark the end of a road. In the Bahá'í Writings, a symbol of the Manifestation of God, the 'Tree beyond which neither men nor angels can pass'; specifically, Bahá'u'lláh. Sometimes called the Divine or Sacred Lote Tree. 'Twin Lote Trees': the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh." 67

`Abdu'l-Bahá points out, however, that if we meditate on earthly things, 'this faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts.' Also:

"& Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God." 68

"There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged-nay enjoined-to pray, and they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual

"The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if He desires to do so." 69

 

WHAT IS MASHRIQUL-ADHKAR?

"Mashriqu'l-Adhkár [AR] Dawning-place of the praises or remembrances or mention of God. Generally, the Bahá'í House of Worship or Temple and the dependencies clustered around it. In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh reveals: 'Blessed is he who directeth his steps towards the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár at the hour of dawn, communing with Him, attuned to His remembrance, imploring His forgiveness. And having entered therein, let him sit in silence to hearken unto the verses of God ... the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is in truth any House raised in towns or villages, for mention of Me.'

"The term Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is used primarily to refer to buildings which conform, to particular architectural requirements and which are reserved for devotions and reading from the revealed Word of God. However, the term Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is also used to refer to any building or room which is reserved for devotions; devotional meetings, particularly dawn prayers; and the heart of the sincere worshipper.

"The Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is a nine-sided building surmounted by a dome. 'Abdu'l-Bahá delineated its general design: 'It has nine avenues, nine gardens, nine fountains, so it is nine on nine, all nines. . . . That is the way it should be.' Bahá'u'lláh has forbidden the display of pictures or statues within its walls and the use of musical instruments. Only the human voice may be used to sing, chant or read the Word of God in the House of Worship.

"'Abdu'l-Bahá stated that the House of Worship is 'also connected with a hospital, a drug dispensary, a travellers' hospice, a school for orphans, and a university for advanced studies. Every Mashriqu'l-Adhkár is connected with these five things.'

"Shoghi Effendi writes, 'From the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár . . . the representatives of Bahá'í communities, both local and national, together with the members of their respective committees, will as they gather daily within its walls at the hour of dawn, derive the necessary inspiration that will enable them to discharge ... their duties and responsibilities . . 70

"Whensoever a company of people shall gather in a meeting place, shall engage in glorifying God, and shall speak with one another of the mysteries of God, beyond any doubt the breathings of the Holy Spirit will blow gently over them, and each shall receive a share thereof." 71

'We hear that thou hast in mind to embellish thy house from time to time with a meeting of Bahá'ís, where some among them will engage in glorifying the All-Glorious Lord ... Know that shouldst thou bring this about, that house of earth will become a house of heaven, and that fabric of stone a congress of the spirit" 72

"'Abdu'l-Bahá hath long cherished the desire that a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár be upraised in that region. Praised be God, thanks to the strenuous efforts of the friends, in recent days the joyful news of this hath been announced. This service is highly acceptable at the Threshold of God, for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár inspiriteth the lovers of God and delighteth their hearts, and causeth them to become steadfast and firm.

"This is a matter of the utmost significance. If the erection of the House of Worship in a public place would arouse the hostility of evil-doers, then the meeting must, in every locality, be held in some hidden place. Even in every hamlet, a place must be set aside as the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, and even though it be underground.

"Now, praised be God, ye have succeeded in this. Engage ye in the remembrance of God at dawn; rise ye up to praise and glorify Him. Blessed are ye, and joy be yours, 0 ye the righteous, for having established the Dawning-Point of the Praises of God. Verily I ask of the Lord that He make you standards of salvation and banners of redemption, rippling high over the valleys and hills" 73

"It befitteth the friends to hold a gathering, a meeting, where they shall glorify God and fix their hearts upon Him, and read and recite the Holy Writings of the Blessed Beauty-may my soul be the ransom of His lovers! The lights of the All-Glorious Realm, the rays of the Supreme Horizon, will be cast upon such bright assemblages, for these are none other than the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, the Dawning-Points of God's Remembrance, which must, at the direction of the Most Exalted Pen, be established in every hamlet and city. . . These spiritual gatherings must be held with the utmost purity and consecration, so that from the site itself, and its earth and the air about it, one will inhale the fragrant breathings of the Holy Spirit 74

"I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth. the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved." "Let not the happenings of the world sadden you. I swear by God! The sea of joy yearneth to attain your presence, for every good thing hath been created for you, and will according to the needs of the times, be revealed unto you.' "0 my servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain."

Bahá'u'lláh quoted by the beloved Guardian, page 69, The Advent of Divine Justice.

 

REFERENCES

Abbreviations Used

ABIL`Abdu'l-Bahá in London (Oakharn BPT, RP 1982)

ABPT'Abdu'l-Bahá Paris Talks

ADJAdvent of Divine Justice

BDBahá'í Dictionary

BNEBahá'u'lláh and the New Era

BPBahá'í Prayers

GWBGleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

HWAHidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh (Arabic)

HWPHidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh (Persian)

IMPDA"Importance of Prayer, Meditation and the Devotional Attitude," compiled by the Universal House of Justice

KIKitáb-I-Íqan

LOBOGFrom a letter written on Behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer

LUHJLetter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice

LWBSEFrom a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer

PABAPrayer, A Bahá'í Approach

PUCThe Promulgation of Universal Peace 'Abdu'l-Bahá in United States and Canada

RTTABFrom a recently translated Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

SCKASynopsis and Codification of Laws and Ordinances of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas

SWABSelections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá

SWBSelections from the Writings of the Báb

TABTablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá

TBTablets of Bahá'u'lláh

1 BD, p. 183

2 SCKA, p. 11

3 Bahá'u'lláh in IMPDA, p.3

4 RTTAB

5 ibid

6 Shoghi Effendi in IMPDA, p. 18

7 BD, p. 15

8 SWAB, p.202

9 HWA

10 GWB, p.323

11 SWAB, p.96

12 BNE, p.92-93

13 TAB, 683-84

14 House of Justice, 1981

15 LOBOG, 15 May 1944

16 SWAB, No. 91, p. 122

17 LOBOG, 22 Nov 1941

18 LOBOO.1 8 Dec 1935

19 LOBOO, 27 Jan 1945

20 OWB, p.294

21 ibid, p.296

22 ibid, p. 133

23 SWAB, No. 22, p.51

24 SWAB, No. 162, p. 192

25 SWB, p.77-78

26 SWAB, p.202

27 GWB, p.265

28 SWB, p.93-94

29 BNE, p.94

30 HWP, No. 8

31 TB, revised after, p.155

32 SWAB, p.79

33 GWB, p.323

34 Bahá'u'lláh in PABA, p. 8,9

35 SWB, p.94

36 SCKA, p.27-28

37 ABIL, p.96

38 LOBOO, 27 April 1937

39 LOBOG, 14 Oct 1937

40 SCKA, p.35

41 ibid, p.37

42 ibid, p.36

43 ibid, p.37

44 LWBSE, 30 Oct 1936

45 LOBOG, 24 June 1949

46 SCKA, p.36

47 LOBOO, 4 Jan 1936

48 IMPDA, p. 10

49 ibid

50 BP, p.4

51 ibid

52 ibid, p.7

53 LUHJ 1 Apr 1982

54 ibid

55 TAB, Vol.II, p.464

56 LUHJ, 28 Jan 1977

57 LUHJ, 13 Feb 1975

58 BP, p.7

59 ABPT, p. 174-175

60 LOBOO, 20 Nov 1937

61 LOBOG, 15 May 1944

62 KI, p.238

63 ABPT, p. 175-176

64 PUC

65 LOBOO, 19 Nov 1945

66 IMPDA, p-9

67 BD, p-200

68 'Abdu'l-Bahá in PABA, P.23

69 LOBOG, 25 Jan 1943

70 BD, p. 148

71 SWAB, p.94

72 ibid

73 ibid, P.95

74 ibid, p.93


Shining Examples

A Study Guide Prepared by the

National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands

"0 My Servant! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the

prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more."

Bahá'u'lláh

WHAT IS THE KING OF DAYS?

"This is the King of Days, " He thus extols the age that has witnessed the advent of His Revelation, "the Day that hath seen the coming of the Best-beloved, Him Who through all eternity hath been acclaimed the Desire of the World. " 'The world of being shineth in this Day with the resplendency of this Divine Revelation. All created things extol its saving grace and sing its praises. The universe is wrapt in an ecstasy of joy and gladness. The scriptures of past Dispensations celebrate the great jubilee that must needs greet this most great Day of God. Well is it with him that hath lived to see this Day and hath recognized its station. " 'Were mankind to give heed in a befitting manner to no more than one word o such a praise it would be so f

filled with delight as to be overpowered and lost in wonder. Entranced, it would then shine forth resplendent above the horizon of true understanding. "

'Be fair, ye peoples of the world, " He thus appeals to mankind, *Is it meet and seemly for you to question the authority of one nose presence *He no conversed with God' (Moses) hath longed to attain, the beauty of nose countenance 'God's Well-beloved' (Muhammad) had yearned to behold, through the potency of Whose love the 'Spirit of God' (Jesus) ascended to heaven, for Whose sake the 'Primal Point' (the Báb) offered up His life. " 'Seize your chance, " He admonishes His followers, *inasmuch as a fleeting moment in this Day excelleth centuries of a bygone age ... Neither sun nor moon hath witnessed a day such as this ... It is evident that every age in which a Manifestation of God hath lived is divinely ordained and may, in a sense be characterized as God's appointed Day. This Day, however, is unique and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation 'Seal of the Prophets' fully reveals and demonstrates its high station. " 1

"Should the greatness of this Day be revealed in its fullness, every man would forsake a myriad lives in his longing to partake, though it be for one moment, of its great glory-how much more this world and its corruptible treasures!" `God the true One is My Witness! This is the Day whereon it is incumbent upon every one that seeth to behold, and every car that hearkeneth to hear, and every heart that understandeth to perceive, and every tongue that speaketh to proclaim unto all who are in heaven and on earth, this holy, this exalted,. and all-highest Name." 2

This Day a door is open wider than both heaven and earth. The eye of the mercy of Him Who is the Desire of the worlds is tamed towards all men. An act, however infinitesimal, is, when viewed in the mirror of the knowledge of God, mightier than a mountain- Every drop proffered in His path is as the sea in that mirror. For this is the Day which the one true Gad, glorified be He, hath announced in all His Books unto His Prophets and His Messengers. 3

This is the Chief of all days and the King thereof. Great is the blessedness of him who hath attained, through the sweet savor of these days, unto everlasting life, and who, with the most great steadfastness, hath arisen to aid the Cause of Him Who is the King of Names. Such a man is as the eye to the body of mankind. 4

The purpose underlying all creation is the revelation of this most sublime, this most holy Day, the Day known as the Day of God, in His Books and Scriptures-the Day which all the Prophets, and the Chosen Ones, and the holy ones, have wished to witness. 5

The potentialities inherent in the station of man, the full measure of his destiny on earth, the innate excellence of his reality, must all be manifested in this promised Day of God. 6

By My Self! The day is approaching when We will have rolled up the world and all that is therein, and spread out a new order in its stead. He, verily, is powerful over all things. 7

WHAT IS THE STATION OF HIS HOLINESS THE BAB?

"The Báb, the Exalted One," 'Abdu'l-Bahá more specifically affirms in another Tablet, "is the Mars of Truth the splendor of nose light shineth throughout all regions. He is also the Harbinger of the Most Great Light, the Abhá Luminary. The Blessed Beauty is the One promised by the sacred books of the past, the revelation of the Source of light that shone upon Mount Sinai, Whose fire glowed in the midst of the Burning Bush. We are, one and all, servants of their threshold, and stand each as a lowly keeper at their door. " 'Every proof and prophecy, " is His still more emphatic warning, `every manner of evidence, whether based on reason or on the text of the scriptures and traditions, are to be regarded as centered in the persons of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. In them is to be found their complete fulfilment. -" 8

In a Tablet addressed to a Bahá'í in Mazindarin, in which He =folds the meaning of a misinterpreted statement attributed to Him regarding the rise of the Sun of Truth. in this century, He sets forth, briefly but conclusively, what should remain for all time our true conception of the relationship between the two Manifestations associated with the Bald'! Dispensation- 'In making such a statement, " He explains, 'I had in mind no one. else except the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh, the character of whose Revelations it had been my purpose to elucidate. The Revelation of the Báb may be likened to the sun, its station corresponding to the first sign of the Zodiac-the sign Aries-which the sun enters at the Vernal Equinox. The station of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, on the other hand, is represented by the sign Leo, the sun's mid-summer and highest station. By this is meant that this holy Dispensation is illumined with the light of the Sun of Truth shining from its most exalted station, and in the plenitude of its resplendency, its heat and glory. " 9

And finally, in His Will and Testament, the repository of His last wishes and parting instructions, He in the following passage, specifically designed to set forth the guiding principles of Bahá'í belief, sets the seal of His testimony on the Bib's dual and exalted station: 'The foundation of the belief of the people of Bahá (may my life be offered up for them) is this: His holiness the exalted One (the Báb) is the Manifestation of the unity and oneness of God and the Forerunner of the Ancient Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh). His holiness, the Abhá Beauty (Bahá'u'lláh) (may my life be offered up as a sacrifice for His steadfast friends) is the supreme Manifestation of God and the Dayspring of His most divine Essence." *All others, * He significantly adds, 'are servants unto Him and do His bidding. " 10

WHAT IS THE STATION OF HIS HOLINESS BAHÁ'U'LLÁH?

"Followers of the Gospel, " Bahá'u'lláh addressing the whole of Christendom exclaims, "Behold the gates of heaven are flung open. He that had ascended unto it is now come. Give ear to His voice calling aloud over land and sea, announcing to all mankind the advent of this Revelation through the agency of which the Tongue of Grandeur is now proclaiming: 'lo, the sacred Pledge hath been fulfilled for He, the Promised One, is come!"' 'The voice of the Son of Man is calling aloud from the sacred vale: 'Here am I, here am 1, 0 God my God!'

... whilst from the Burning Bush breaketh forth the cry: 'lo, the Desire of the world is made manifest in His transcendent glory!' The Father hath come. That which ye were promised in the Kingdom of God is fulfilled. This is the Word which the Son veiled when He said to those around Him that at that time they could not bear it Verily the Spirit of Truth is come to guide you unto all truth He is the One no glorified the Son and exalted His Cause . . . "

"The Comforter Whose advent all the scriptures have promised is now come that He may reveal unto you all knowledge and wisdom Seek Him over the entire surface of the earth, haply ye may find Him." 11

Stressing the superlative character of His Revelation as compared with the Dispensation preceding it, Bahá'u'lláh makes the following affirmation: 'If all the peoples of the world be invested with the powers and attributes destined for the Letters of the Living, the Báb 'S chosen disciples, whose station is ten thousand times more glorious than any which the apostles of old have attained, and if they, one and all, shou14 swift as the twinkling of an eye, hesitate to recognize the light of My Revelation, their faith shall be of no avail and they shall be accounted among the infidels. " 'So tremendous is the outpouring of Divine grace in this Dispensation that if mortal hands could be swift enough to record them, within the space of a single day and night there would stream verses of such number as to be equivalent to the whole of the Persian Bayán. " 12

Anticipating the System which the irresistible power of His Law was destined to =fold in a later age, He writes: *77ze 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. " 13

In the Súriy-i-Haykal, one of the most challenging works of Bahá'u'lláh, the following verses, each of which testifies to the resistless power infused into the Revelation proclaimed by its Author, have been recorded: 'Naught is seen in My temple but the Temple of God, and in My beauty but His Beauty and in My being but His Being, and in My self but His Self, and in My movement but His Movement, and in My acquiescence but His acquiescence, and in My pen but His Pen, the Mighty, the All-Praised. There hath not been in My soul but the Truth, and in Myself naught could be seen but God. " 'The Holy Spirit Itself hath been generated through the agency of a single letter revealed by this Most Great Spirit, if ye be of them that comprehend.14

.0 my fiend!" He thus addresses in one of His Tablets a man of recognized authority and standing, *The undying Fire which the Lord of the Kingdom hath kindled in the midst of the holy Tree is burning fiercely in the midmost heart of the world. The conflagration it will provoke will envelop the whole earth. Its blazing flames will illuminate its peoples and kindreds. All the signs have been revealed, every prophetic allusion hath been manifested. Whatever hath been enshrined in all the scriptures of the past hath been made evident. To doubt or hesitate is no more possible ... 7-1me is pressing. The Divine Charger is impatient, and can tarry no longer. Ours is the duty to rush forward and, ere it is too late, win the victory. " And finally, is this most stirring passage which He, in one of His moments of exultation, was moved to address to one of His most dusted and eminent followers in the earliest days of His ministry: 'What more shall I say? What else can my pen recount? So loud is the call that reverberates from the Abhá Kingdom that mortal ears are well-nigh deafened with its vibrations. The whole creation, methinks, is being disrupted and is bursting asunder through the shattering influence of the Divine summons issued from the throne of glory. More than this I cannot write. " 15

'I am the One, " He in another connection affirms, 'Whom the tongue of Isaiah hath extolled, the One with nose name both the Torah and the Evangel were adorned. " 'The glory of Sinai hath hastened to circle round the Dayspring of this Revelation, while from the heights of the Kingdom the voice of the Son of God is heard proclaiming: 'Bestir yourselves, ye proud ones of the earth, and hasten ye towards Him' Carmel hath in this day hastened in longing adoration to attain His court, whilst from the heart of Zlon : there cometh the cry: '77ze promise of all ages is now fulfilled.` 16

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN MANIFESTING HIMSELF?

He hopes that you will develop into Bahá'ís in character as well as in belief. The whole purpose of Bahá'u'lláh is that we should become a new kind of people, people who are upright, kind, intelligent, truthful, and honest arid who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Bahá'í's is not enough; our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Bahá'í life. 17

The purpose of the one true God in manifesting Himself is to summon all mankind to truthfulness and sincerity, to piety and trustworthiness, to resignation and submissiveness to the Will of God, to forbearance and kindliness, to uprightness and wisdom- His object is to array every man with the mantle of a saintly character, and to adorn him with the ornament of holy and goodly deeds.

Say: Have mercy on yourselves and on your fellowmen, and suffer not the Cause of God-a Cause which is immeasurably exalted above the inmost essence of sanctity-to be sullied with the stain of your idle fancies, your unseemly and corrupt imaginations. 18

WHAT ARE THE STATION AND DUTIES OF A TRUE BELIEVER?

In confirmation of the exalted rank of the true believer, referred to by Bahá'u'lláh. He reveals the following: "The station which he who hath truly recognized this Revelation will attain is the same as the one ordained for such prophets of the house of Israel as are nor regarded as manifestations endowed with constancy. " 19

The first and foremost duty prescribed unto men, next to the recognition of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, is the duty of steadfastness in His Cause. Cleave thou unto it, and be of them whose minds are firmly fixed. and grounded in God. No act, however meritorious, did or can ever compare unto it. It is the king of all acts, and to this thy Lord, the All-Highest, the Most Powerful will testify....

The virtues and attributes pertaining unto God are all evident and manifest, and have been mentioned and described in all the heavenly Books. Among them are trustworthiness, truthfulness, purity of heart while communing with God, forbearance, resignation to whatever the Almighty hath decreed, contentment with the things His 'Will hath provided, patience, nay, dian3ffillness in the midst of tribulation, and complete reliance, in all circumstances, upon Him. These rank, according to the estimate of God, among the highest and most laudable of all acts. All other acts are, and will ever remain secondary and subordinate unto them. ...20

There are two kinds of Bahá'ís one might say: those whose religion is Bahá'í and those who live for the Faith. Needless to say if one can belong to the latter category, if one can be in the vanguard of heroes, martyrs and saints, it is more praiseworthy in the sight of God. 21

It is often difficult for us to do things because they are so very different from what we are used to, not because the thing itself is particularly difficult, With you, and indeed most Bahá'í who are now, as adults, accepting this glorious Faith, no doubt some of the ordinances, like fasting and daily prayer, are hard to understand and obey at first. But we must always think that these things are given to all men for a thousand years to come. For Bahá'í children who see these things practised in the home, they will be as natural and necessary a thing as going to church on Sunday was to the more pious generation of Christians. Bahá'u'lláh would not have given us these things if they would not greatly benefit us, and, like children who are sensible enough to realise their father is wise and does what is good for them, we must accept to obey these ordinances even though at first we may not see any need for them. As we obey them we will gradually come to see in ourselves the benefits they confer. 22

Unlock, 0 people, the gates of the hearts of men with the keys of the remembrance of Him Who is the Remembrance of God and the Source of wisdom amongst you. He hath chosen out of the whole world the hearts Of His Servants, and made them each a scat for the revelation of His glory. Wherefore, sanctify them from every defilement, that the things for which they were created my be engraven upon them. This indeed is a token of God's 'bountiful favor. 23

KNOWLEDGE is one of the wondrous gifts of God. It is incumbent upon everyone to acquire it. 24

The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man's hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.

Every eye, in this Day, should seek what will best promote the Cause of God. He, Who is the Eternal Truth, beareth Me witness! Nothing whatever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God. Flee then, through the power of God and His sovereign aid, and strive ye to knit together the hearts of men, in His Name, the Unifier, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Beseech ye the one true God to grant that ye may taste the savour of such deeds as are performed in His path, and partake of the sweetness of such humility and submissiveness as are shown for His sake. Forget your own selves, and turn your eyes towards your neighbour. Bend your energies to whatever may foster the education of men. Nothing is, or can ever be, hidden from God. If ye follow in His way, His incalculable and imperishable blessings will, be showered upon you. This is the luminous Tablet, whose verses have streamed from the moving Pen of Him Who is the Lord of all worlds. Ponder it in your hearts, and be ye of them that observe its precepts. 25

Say: 0 men! This is a matchless Day. Matchless must likewise, be the tongue that celebrateth the praise of the Desire of all nations, and matchless the deed that aspireth to be acceptable in His sight- The whole human race hath longed for this Day, that perchance it may fulfil that which well beseemeth its station, and is worthy of its destiny. Blessed is the man whom the affairs of the world have failed to deter from recognising Him Who is the Lord of all things.

So blind hath become the human heart that neither the disruption of the city, nor the reduction of the mountain in dust, nor even the cleaving of the earth, can shake off its torpor. The allusions made in the Scriptures have been Unfolded, and the signs recorded therein have been revealed, and the prophetic cry is continually being raised. And yet all, except such as God was pleased to guide, are bewildered in the drunkenness of their heedlessness! 26

HOW DO WE ESTABLISH DISTINCTION THROUGH THE POWER OF SPIRITUALITY?

... We must reach a spiritual plane where God comes first and great human passions are unable to turn us away from Him. All the time we see people who either through the force of hate or the passionate attachment they have to another person, sacrifice principle or bar themselves from the path of God....

We must love God, and in this state, a general love for all men becomes possible. We cannot love each human being for himself, but our feelings towards all humanity should be motivated by our love for the Father who created all men 27

Man is at The Beginning of Spirituality

'Man is the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of spirituality-that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspects may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic powers, which is absolute imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among creatures; but if the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of perfection Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is their such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the species of man. Thus the reflection of the Divine Light was in man, as in Christ, and see how loved and honored He is!" 28

There is a Need for a True Spiritual Awareness

"The need is very great, everywhere in the world, in and outside the Faith, for a true spiritual awareness to pervade and motivate peoples' lives. No amount of administrative procedure or adherence to rules can take the place of this soul-characteristic, this spirituality which is the essence of Man. He is very glad to see you are stressing this and aiding the friends to realize its supreme importance." 29

People are so Markedly Lacking in Spirituality these Days

"People are so markedly lacking in spirituality these days that the Bahá'ís should consciously guard themselves against being caught in what one might call the undertow of materialism and atheism, sweeping the world these days. Skepticism, cynicism, disbelief,. immorality and hard-heartedness are rife, and as the friends are those who stand for the antithesis of all these things they should beware lest the atmosphere of the present world affects them without their being conscious of it.--- 30

Every man hath been, and will continue to be, able of himself to appreciate the Beauty of God, the Glorified. Had he not been endowed with such a capacity, how could he be called to account for his failure? If, in the Day when all the peoples of the earth will be gathered together, any man should, whilst standing in the presence of God, say: `Inasmuch as all men have erred, and none hath been found willing, to turn his face to the Truth, I, too, following their example, have grievously failed to recognize the Beauty of the Eternal," such a plea Will, assuredly, be rejected. For the faith of no man can be conditioned by anyone except himself. 31

Requisites for Spiritual Growth

"Bahá'u'lláh has stated quite clearly in His Writings the essential requisites for our spiritual growd-4 and these are stressed again and again by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in His Talks and Tablets. One can summarize them briefly in this way:

1. The recital each day of one of the Obligatory Prayers with pure-hearted devotion.

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

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

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

5. Teaching, the Cause of God.

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

"The House of Justice is confident that if the believers will conscientiously strive to increase their spirituality in the six ways outlined above, and become aware in their inmost beings that in all their services they are but vehicles for the confirming power of God, they will attract the hearts of their fellow citizens and penetrate the miasma of materialism that veils the sight of so many of their countrymen. Effort, activity, unity and constant reliance on the power of Bahá'u'lláh will assuredly overcome all obstacles." 32

The fact that you had a course on 'Bahá'í character' pleased him very much, as he considers one of the greatest obligations of your generation of believers is to live a Bahá'í life; you must demonstrate, by your high moral standards, your courtesy, your integrity and nobility, that our Faith is not one of words but truly changes the heart and conduct of its adherents. 33

He heartily agrees with you that unless we practice the teachings we cannot possibly expect the Faith to grow, because the fundamental purpose of all religions - including our own - is to bring man nearer to God, and to change his character, which is of the utmost importance. Too much emphasis is often laid on the social and economic aspects of the Teachings; but the moral aspect cannot be over-emphasized. 34

Make ye then a mighty effort that the purity and sanctity which, above all else, are cherished by 'Abdu'l-Bahá shall distinguish the people of Bahá; that in every kind of excellence the people of God shall surpass all other human beings; that both outwardly and inwardly they shall, prove superior to the rest; that for purity, immaculacy, refinement, and the preservation of health, they shall be leaders in the vanguard of those who know. And that by their freedom from enslavement, their knowledge, their self-control, they shall be first among the pure, the free and the wise. 35

My meaning is that in the sight of God, smoking tobacco is deprecated, abhorrent, filthy in the extreme; and, albeit by degrees, highly injurious to health. It is also a waste of money and time, and maketh the user a prey to a noxious addiction. To those who stand firm in the Covenant, this habit is therefore censured both by reason and experience, and renouncing it will bring relief and peace of mind to all men. Furthermore, this will make it possible to have a fresh mouth and unstained fingers, and hair that is free of a foul and repellent smell. On receipt of this missive, the friends will. surely, by whatever means and even over a period of time, forsake this pernicious habit. Such is my hope. 36

The Advertisements for the Faith Are Love, Hospitality, Understanding and the Will to Help

"He is very pleased to see with what love and devotion you have accepted our beloved Faith and long to serve it

"Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, 'but the me way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than, words ever can.

"The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives.

"The Guardian will pray that Bahá'u'lláh will. aid you and strengthen you to teach His Cause to many souls." 37

The Great Thing is to "Live the Life"

"The great thing is to 'Live the Life'. to have our lives so saturated with the Divine teachings and the Bahá'í Spirit that people cannot fail to see a joy, a power, a love, a purity, a radiance, an efficiency in our character and work that will distinguish us from worldly-minded people and make people wonder what is the secret of this new life in us. We must become entirely selfless and devoted to God so that every day and every moment we seek to do only what God would have us do and in the way He would have us do it. If we do this sincerely then we shall have perfect unity & harmony with each other. Where there is want of harmony there is lack of the true Bahá'í Spirit Unless we can show this transformation in our lives, this new power, this mutual love and harmony, then. the Bahá'í teachings are but a name to us." 38

Distinction - The Bahá'ís Must be Distinguished

"I desire distinction for you. The Bahá'í must be distinguished from others of humanity. But this distinction must not depend upon wealth-that they should become more affluent than other people. I do not desire for you financial distinction. It is not an ordinary distinction 1 desire; not scientific, commercial, industrial distinction For you I desire spiritual distinction-that is, you must become eminent and distinguished in morals. In the love of God you must become distinguished from all else. You must become distinguished for loving humanity, for unity and accord, for love and justice. In brief, you must become distinguished in all the virtues of the human world-for faithfulness and sincerity, for justice and fidelity, for firmness and steadfastness, for philanthropic deeds and service to the human world, for love toward every human being, for unity and accord with all people, for removing prejudices and promoting international peace. Finally, you must become distinguished for heavenly illumination and for acquiring the bestowals of God. I desire this distinction for you. This must be the point of distinction among you." 39

Cleanliness Contributes to Spirituality

"& in every aspect of life, purity and holiness, cleanliness an refinement, exalt the human condition and further the development of man's inner reality. Even in the physical realm, cleanliness will conduce to spirituality, as the Holy Writings clearly state. And though bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it bath nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit" 40

He urges you to do all you can to promote unity and love amongst the members of the Community tb=e, as this seem to be their greatest need.

So often young communities, in their desire to administer the Cause, lose sight of the fact that these spiritual relationships are far more important and fundamental than the rules and regulations which must govern the conduct of community affairs. - 41

The Cause in is growing very rapidly, and the more it spreads the more the attention of the public will be fixed upon it. This imposes a heavy responsibility on the believers, as they must show forth such a spirit of love and unity among themselves as will attract the hearts of others and encourage them to enter the Faith in large numbers. We must always remember that the Teachings are perfect, and that the only reason more of our fellowmen have not as yet embraced them is because we Bahá'ís, the world over, are ourselves not yet as selfless and radiant mirrors of Bahá'u'lláh's Truth as we should and could be. We must constantly strive to better exemplify His Teachings. 42

The individual alone must assess its (his task) character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his wards and his acts, and win them over, tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused. 43

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF TRUE FAITH?

The essence of faith is fewness of words and abundance of deeds; he whose words exceed his deeds, know, verily, his death is better than his life. 4-4

The cornerstone of the religion of God is the acquisition of the divine perfections and the sharing., in His manifold bestowals. The essential purpose of faith and belief is to ennoble the inner being of man with the outpourings of grace from on high. If this be not attained, it is, indeed, deprivation itself. It is the torment of infernal fire.

Wherefore, it is incumbent upon all Bahá'ís to ponder this very delicate and vital matter in their hearts, that, unlike other religions, they may not content themselves with the noise, the clamor, the hollowness of religious doctrine. Nay, rather, they should exemplify in every aspect of their lives those attributes and virtues that are born of God and should arise to distinguish themselves by their goodly behavior. They should justify their claim to be Bahá'ís by deeds and not by name. He is a true Baháí who strives by day and by night to progress and advance along the path of human endeavor, whose most cherished desire is so to live and act as to enrich and illuminate the world, whose source of inspiration is the essence of divine virtue, whose aim in life is so to conduct himself as to be the cause of infinite progress. Only when he attains unto such perfect gifts can it be said of him that he is a true Bahá'í - 45

He is not to be numbered with the people of Bahá who followeth his mundane desires, or fixeth his heart on things of the earth He is My true follower who, if he come to a valley of pure gold, will. pass straight through it aloof as a cloud, and will neither turn back, nor pause. Such a man is, assuredly, of Me. From his garment the Concourse on high can inhale the fragrance of sanctity. 46

The Tongue of My power hath, from the heaven of My omnipotent glory, addressed to My creation these wards: 'Observe My commandments, for the love of My beauty." 47

By faith is meant, first, conscious knowledge and second, the practice of good deeds. 48

There is no greater result than bonds of service in the divine kingdom and attainment to the good pleasure of the Lord. Therefore, I desire that your hearts my 'be directed to the kingdom of God, that your intentions may be pure and sincere, your purposes turned toward altruistic accomplishment unmindful of your own welfare; nay, rather, may all your intentions center in the welfare of humanity, and may you seek to sacrifice yourselves in the pathway of devotion to mankind. Even as Jesus Christ forfeited His life, may you, likewise, offer yourselves in the threshold of sacrifice for the betterment of the world; and just as Bahá'u'lláh suffered severe ordeals and calamities nearly fifty years for you, may you be willing to undergo difficulties and withstand catastrophes for humanity in general. 49

They who are the beloved of God, in whatever place they gather and whomsoever they may meet, must evince, in their attitude towards God, and in the manner of their celebration of His praise and glory, such humility and submissiveness that every atom of the dust beneath their feet may attest the depth of their devotion .... 50

0 Son of Utterance! Turn thy face unto Mine and renounce all save Me; for My sovereignty endureth and My dominion perisheth not. If thou seekest another than Me, yea, if thou searchest the universe forevermore, thy will be in vain. 51

The first sign of faith is love. 52

Show forbearance and benevolence and love. to one another. Should anyone among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme kindliness and goodwill. Help him to see and recognize the truth, without esteeming yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be possessed of greater endowments.

The whole duty of man in this day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man's hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon measure. 53

WHAT IS OUR ROLE IN BUILDING "THE TEMPLE OF THE HEARTS"?

Through Deep Study and Living the Life to Become Like Firm Rocks

"He hopes that these receptive souls you have succeeded to attract into the movement will through deep study and living the life become like firm, rocks upon which the Cause can build its future spiritual temple-the temple of the hearts. In one of His very beautiful and stirring poems written in the early days of His Mission Bahá'u'lláh. bids us stay away and not become an encumbrance if we desire to live and have our well-being. In case, however, we are ready to sacrifice our all in the path of God then we should hasten to Him and follow His way.

What the Cause needs is such ardent and self-sacrificing servants and not lukewarm followers who are ready to reap the fruit but unwilling to take a part in winning that victory. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, hopes that you will endeavour to make of your spiritual children of the type Bahá'u'lláh sought to have and create not passive admirers but active servants of the New World Order." 54

But the only way, or perhaps 1 should say the first and best way, to remedy such situations is to oneself do what is right. One soul can be the cause of the spiritual illumination of a continent. Now that you have seen, and remedied a great fault in your own life, now that you see more clearly what is lacking in your own community, there is nothing to prevent you from arising and showing such an example, such a love and spirit of service, as to enkindle the hearts of your fellow Bahá'ís.

He urges you to study deeply the teachings, teach others, study with those Bald'is who are anxious to do so the deeper teachings of our Fait14 and through example, effort and prayer bring about a change. 55

How to Acquire Peace of Mind

"& ..Peace of mind is gained by the centering of the spiritual consciousness on the Prophet of God; therefore you should study the spiritual Teachings, and receive the Water of Life from the Holy Utterances. Then. by translating these high ideals into action, your entire character will be changed, and your mind will not only find peace, but your entire being will find joy and enthusiasm" 56

Whoso ariseth among you to teach the Cause of his Lord, let him, before all else, teach his own self, that his speech may attract the hearts of them that hear him- Unless he teacheth his own self, the wards of his mouth will not influence the heart of the seeker. Take heed, 0 people, lest ye be of them that give good counsel to others but forget to follow it themselves. The wards of such as these, and beyond the words the realities of all things, and beyond these realities the angels that are nigh unto God, bring against them the accusation of falsehood.

Should such a man ever succeed in influencing any one, this success should be attributed not to him, but rather to the influence of the words of God, as decreed by Him. Who is the Almighty, the All-Wise. In the sight of God he is regarded as a lamp that imparteth its light, and yet is all the while being consumed within itself. - 57

Bahá'ís Need More Than Anything Else in the World Deeper Understanding Covenants of Bahá'u'lláh And Master

"The Guardian has been considerably disturbed by the inharmony that has arisen in He feels that what the & & Bahá'ís need-and must have-more than anything else in the world is a far deeper understanding of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Master. This is the rock-foundation without which no sound super-structure can be built Neither the administration nor the general teaching work of the Cause.... will progress, or be able to accomplish anything unless the believers are truly firm, deep, spiritually convinced Bahá'ís. An intellectual grasp of the Teachings is purely superficial; with the first real test such 'believers are shaken from the bough! But once a Bahá'í has the profound conviction of the authority from God, vested in the

Prophet, passed on to the Master, and by Him, to the Guardians, and which flows out through the Assemblies and creates order based on obedience-once a Bahá'í has this, nothing else can create order therefore, urges you, and the other members of the to devote as much time as you possibly can, to educating the believers in the Covenant." 58

If you study the history of Nabíl you will see how the Faith has been fed by the constant sacrifices of the friends. Under hardships, persecutions and constant worries has the Message of Bahá'u'lláh been established throughout the world. 59

WHAT DO WE GAIN BY PERSEVERANCE IN TIMES OF TESTS & SUFFERINGS?

The Bahá'ís must, in view of the conditions of the world today, stand forth firmly and courageously as followers of Bahá'u'lláh, obeying His Laws and seeking to build His World Order. Through compromise we will never be able to establish our Faith or win others' hearts to it. This involves often great personal sacrifice, but we know that, when we do the right thing. God gives us strength to carry it out, and we attract His blessing. We learn at such times that our calamity is indeed a blessing. 60

Has not Bahá'u'lláh assured us that sufferings: and privations are blessings in disguise, that through them our inner spiritual forces become stimulated purified and ennobled? Remain, therefore, confident that your material hardships will far from hindering your activities for the Cause, impart to your heart a powerful impetus to better serve and promote its interests. 61

We should not, however, forget that an essential characteristic of this world is hardship and tribulation and that it is by overcoming them that we achieve our moral and spiritual development As the Master says, sorrow is like furrows, the deeper they go, the more plentiful is the fruit we obtain. 62

We must always look ahead and seek to accomplish in the future what we may have failed to do in the past. Failures, tests, and trials, if we use them correctly, can become the means of purifying our spirits, strengthening our characters, and enable us to rise to greater heights of service. 63

The road is stony, and there are many tests; but as you say, if the friends will learn to live according to Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, they will discover that they work indeed in mysterious and forceful ways; and that there is always help at hand, that obstacles are overcome, and that success in assured in the end. 64

"& as we suffer these misfortunes we must remember that the Prophets of God Themselves were not immune from these things which men suffer. They knew sorrow, illness and pain too. They rose above these things through their spirits, and that is what we must try and do too, when afflicted. The troubles of this world pass, and what we have left is what we have made of our souls; so it is to this we must look-to becoming more spiritual, drawing nearer to God, no matter what our human minds and bodies go through. 65

The greater your trials and sufferings, the stronger should wax your attachment and devotion to the Cause. For only through repeated tribulations and trials does God test His servants, and these they should therefore view as blessings in disguise, and as opportunities whereby they can acquire a fuller consciousness of the Divine Will and Purpose. 66

HOW SHOULD WE OVERCOME OUR DIFFERENCES?

It is Our wish and desire that every one of you may become a source of all goodness unto men, and an example of uprightness to mankind. Beware lest ye prefer yourselves above your neighbors. Fix your gaze upon Him Who is the Temple of God amongst men. He, in truth, hath offered up His life as a ransom for the redemption of the world. He, verily, is the All-Bountiful, the Gracious, the Most High. If any differences arise amongst you, behold Me standing before your face, and overlook the faults of one another for My name's sake and as a token of your love for My manifest and resplendent Cause. We love to see you at all times consorting in amity and concord within the paradise of My good-pleasure, and to inhale from your acts the fragrance of friendliness and unity, of loving-kindness and fellowship. 67

We must never dwell too much on the attitudes and feelings of our fellow-believers towards us. What is most important is to foster love and harmony and ignore any rebuffs we may receive; in this way the weaknesses of human nature and the peculiarity or attitude of any particular person is not magnified, but pales into insignificance in comparison with our joint service to the Faith we all love. 68

Most important of all is that love and unity should prevail in the Bahá'í Community, as this is what people are most longing for in the present dark state of -the world. Words without the living example will never be sufficient to breathe hope into the hearts of a disillusioned and often cynical generation. 69

The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the community. But individuals toward each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get, along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave 1ike an individual .... 70

He urges you to exert your utmost to get the & . Bahá'ís to put aside such obnoxious terms as 'radical', 'conservative', 'progressive', 'enemies of the Cause', squelching the teachings, etc. If they paused for one moment to think for what purpose the Rib and the martyrs gave the lives, and Bahá'u'lláh and the Master accepted so much suffering, they would never let such definitions and accusations cross their lips when speaking of each other. As long as the friends quarrel amongst themselves their efforts will not be blessed for they are disobeying God. 71

The friends must be patient with each other and must realize that the Cause is still in its infancy and its institutions are not yet functioning perfectly. The greater the patience, the loving understanding and the forbearance the believers show towards each other and their shortcomings, the greater will be the progress of the whole Bahá'í Community at large. 72

When criticism and harsh words arise within a Bahá'í community, there is no remedy except to put the past behind one, and persuade all concerned to turn over a new leaf, and for the sake of God and His Faith refrain from mentioning the subjects which have led to misunderstanding and inharmony. The more the friends argue back and forth and maintain, each side, that their point of view is the right one, the worse the whole situation becomes.

When we see the condition the world is in today, we must surely forget these utterly insignificant internal disturbances, and rush, unitedly, to the rescue of humanity. You should urge your fellow-Bahá'ís to take this point of view, and to support you in a strong effort to suppress every critical thought and every harsh ward, in order to let the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh flow into the entire community, and unite it in His love and in His service. 73

Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the Cause than. discord and strife, which are the inevitable outcome of selfishness and greed. Pure detachment and selfless service, these should be the sole motives of every true believer. And unless each and every one of the friends succeeds in translating such qualities into living action, no hope of further progress can be entertained. It is now that unity of thought and action is most needed. It is now, when the Cause is entering a new phase of development, when its Administration is 'being gradually consolidated amid the welter and chaos of a tottering civffintioi4 that the friends should present a united front to those forces of internal dissension, which if not completely wiped out, will bring our work to inevitable destruction. 74

WHY SHOULD WE TEACH THE FAITH?

Be not grieved if thou performest it thyself alone. Let God be all-sufficient for thee. Commune intimately with His Spirit, and be thou of the thankful. Proclaim the Cause of thy Lord unto all who are in the heavens and on the earth. Should any man respond to thy call, lay bare before him the pearls of the wisdom of the Lord, thy God, which His Spirit hath sent down unto thee, and be thou of them that truly believe. And should any one reject thine offer, turn thou away from him, and put thy trust and confidence in the Lord, thy God, the Lord of all worlds.

By the righteousness of God! Whoso openeth his lips in this Day and maketh mention of the name of his Lord, the hosts of Divine inspiration shall descend upon him from the heaven of My name, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. On him shall also descend the Concourse m high, each bearing aloft a chalice of pure light. Thus hath it been foreordained in the realm of God's Revelation, by the behest of Him Who is the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.

There lay concealed within the Holy Veil, and prepared for the service of God, a company of His chosen ones who shall be manifested unto men who shall, aid His Cause, who shall be afraid of no one, though the entire human race rise up and war against them. 75

Proclaim unto men what He, Who speaketh the truth and is the Bearer of the Trust of God, hath bidden thee observe. My glory be with thee, 0 thou that callest upon My name, whose eyes are directed towards My court, and whose tongue uttereth the praise of thy Lord, the Beneficent. 76

Say: Teach ye the Cause of God, 0 people of Bahá, for God hath prescribed unto every one the duty of proclaiming His Message, and regardeth it as the most meritorious of all deeds. Such a deed is acceptable only when he that teacheth the Cause is already a firm, believer in God, the Supreme Protector, the Gracious, the Almighty. He hath, moreover, ordained that His Cause be taught through the power of men's utterance, and not through resort to violence. 77

In the Bayán the Báb says that every religion of the past was fit to become universal. The only reason why they failed to attain that mark was the incompetence of their followers. He then proceeds to give a definite promise that this would not be the fate of the revelation of 'Him Whom God would make manifest,' that it will become universal and include all the people of the world. This shows that we will. ultimately succeed. But could we not through our shortcomings, failures to sacrifice and reluctance to concentrate our efforts in spreading the Cause, retard the realization of that ideal. And what would that mean? It shall mean that we will be held responsible before Clod, that the race will remain longer in its state of waywardness, that wars would not be so soon averted, that human suffering will last longer. 78

Say: My army is My reliance on God; My people, the force of My confidence in Ilim. My love is My standard, and MY companion the remembrance of God, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Most Powerful, the ALI-Glorious, the Unconditioned.

Arise, 0 wayfarer in the path of the Love of God, and aid thou His Cause. Say: Barter not away this Youth, 0 people, for the vanities of this world or the delights of heaven. By the righteousness of the one true God! One hair of Him excelleth all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Beware, 0 men, lest ye be tempted to part with Him in exchange for the gold and silver ye possess. Let His love be a storehouse of treasure for your souls, on the Day when naught else but Him shall. profit you, the Day when every pillar shall, tremble, when the very skins of men shall creep, when all eyes shall stare up with terror. Say: 0 people! Fear ye God, and turn not away disdainfully from His Revelation. Fall prostrate on your faces before God, and celebrate His praise in the daytime and in the night season.

Let thy soul glow with the flame of this undying Fire that burneth in the midmost heart of the world, in such wise that the waters of the universe shall be powerless to cool down its ardor. Make, then, mention of thy Lord, that haply the heedless among Our servants may be admonished through thy wards, and the hearts of the righteous be gladdened. 79

WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TEACH THE CAUSE OF GOD?

How often the beloved Master was heard to say: Should each one of the friends take upon himself to carry out, in all its integrity and implications, only one of the teachings of the Faith, with devotion, detachment, constancy and perseverance and exemplify it in all his deeds and pursuits of life, the world would become another world and the face of the earth would mirror forth the splendors of the Abhá Paradise. Consider what marvelous changes would be effected if the beloved of the Merciful conducted themselves, both in their individual and collective capacities, in accordance with the counsels and exhortations which have streamed from the Pen of Glory. 80

The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith. They will want to hear about it when they see these things in our lives. 81

The thing the world needs today is the Bahá'í spirit. People are craving for love, for a high standard to look up to', as well as for solutions to their many grave problem . The Bahá'ís should shower on those whom they meet the warm and living spirit of the Cause, and this, combined with teaching, cannot but attract the sincere truth-seekers to the Faith. 82

Indeed if the friends could seek, and exert themselves, to become 100 percent Bahá'ís they would see how greatly their influence over others would be increased and how rapidly the Cause would spread. The world is seeking not a compromise but the embodiment of a high and shining ideal. The more the friends live up to our teachings in every aspect of their lives, in their homes, in business, in their social relationships, the greater will be the attraction they exercise over the hearts of others. 83

You must consider all His servants as your own family and relations. Direct your whole effort toward the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food upon the hungry, clothe the needy, and glorify the humble. Be a helper to every helpless one, and manifest kindness to your fellow creatures in order that ye may attain the good pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumination of the world of humanity and eternal felicity for yourselves. 84

0 son of man! If thine eyes be turned towards mercy, forsake the things that profit thee and cleave unto that which will profit mankind. And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbor that which thou choosest for thyself. 85

The Pen of the Most High bath decreed and imposed upon every one the obligation to teach this Cause.... God will, no doubt, inspire whosoever detacheth himself from all else but Him, and will cause the pure waters of wisdom and utterance to gush out and flow copiously from his heart. Verily, thy Lord, the All-Merciful, is powerful to do as He willeth, and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth. 86

0 friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny. Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised. Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll. With the uttmost unity, and in a spirit of perfect fellowship, exert yourselves, that ye may be enabled to achieve that which beseemeth this Day of God. Verily I say, strife and dissension, and whatsoever the mind of man abhorreth are entirely unworthy of his station. Center your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation, whose power hath caused the foundations of the mightiest structures to quake, every mountain to be crushed into dust, and every soul to be dumbfounded. Should the greatness of this Day be revealed in its fullness, every man would forsake a myriad lives in his longing to partake, though it be for one moment, of its great glory-how much more this world and its corruptible treasures!

Be ye guided by wisdom. in all your doings, and cleave ye tenaciously unto it. Please God ye may all be strengthened to carry out that which is the Will of God, and may be graciously assisted to appreciate the rank conferred upon such of His loved ones as have arisen to serve Him and magnify His name. Upon them. be the glory of God, the glory of all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth, and the glory of the inmates of the most exalted Paradise, the heaven of heavens. 87

WHAT IS SELFLESS SERVICE IN THE WORK OF THE CAUSE & HOW COULD IT BE ACHIEVED?

Self-sacrifice means to subordinate this lower nature and its desires to the more Godly arid noble side of our selves. Ultimately, in its highest sense, self-sacrifice means to give our will and our all to God to do with as He pleases. Then He purifies and glorifies our true self until it becomes a shining and wonderful reality. 88

A man who does great good, and talks not of it, is on the way to perfection.

The man who has accomplished a small good and magnifies it in his speech is worth very little. 89

... He likewise affirms, `The sacred dwellers of the most exalted Paradise, are in this day filled with burning desire to turn unto this world, that they may render such service as lieth in their power to the threshold of the Abhá Beauty. " 90

Self-love is a strange trait and the means of the destruction of many important souls in the world. If man be imbued with all good qualities but be selfish, all the other virtues will fade or pass away, and eventually he will grow worse. 91

Nearness to God is possible through devotion to Him, through entrance into the kingdom and service to humanity; it is attained by unity with mankind and through loving kindness to all; it is dependent upon investigation of trut14 acquisition of praiseworthy virtues, service in the cause of universal peace and personal sanctification. In a word, nearness to God necessitates sacrifice of self, severance and the giving up of all to Him. Nearness is likeness. 92

Self Mastery, Key to

"Today the confirmations of the Kingdom of Abhá are with those who renounce themselves, forget their own opinions, cast aside personalities and are thinking, of the welfare of others .... Whosoever is occupied with himself is wandering in the desert of heedlessness and regret. The 'Master Key' to self-mastery is self-forgetting. The road to the palace of life is through the path of renunciation." 93

Freedom is not a matter of place, but of condition. I was happy in that prison, for those days were pa d in the path of service.*

To me prison was freedom.

Troubles are a rest to me.

Death is life.

To be despised is honor.

Therefore. was I full of happiness all through that prison time.

When one is released from the prison of self, that is, indeed, freedom! For self is the greatest prison.

When this release takes place, one can never be imprisoned. Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, not with dull resignation, but with radiant acquiescence, one cannot attain this freedom. 94

* 'Abdu'l-Bahá was incarcerated with His Father, Bahá'u'lláh in the prison in Akka, Palestine.

This challenge, so severe and insistent, and yet so glorious, faces no doubt primarily the individual believer m whom, in the last resort, depends the fate of the entire community. He it is who constitutes the warp and woof on which the quality and pattern of the whole fabric must depend. He it is who acts as one of the countless links in the mighty chain that now girdles the globe. He it is who serves as one of the multitude of bricks which support the structure and insure the stability of the administrative edifice now being raised in every part of the world. Without his support, at once whole-hearted, continuous and generous, every measure adopted, and every plan formulated, by the body which acts as the national representative of the community to which he belongs, is foredoomed to failure. The World Center of the Faith itself is paralyzed if such a support on the part of the rank and file of the community is denied it. The Author of the Divine Plan Himself is impeded in His purpose if the proper instruments for the execution of His design are lacking, The sustaining strength of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, the Founder of the Faith, will be withheld from every and each individual who fails in the long run to arise and play his part. 95

It is the quality of devotion and self-sacrifice that brings rewards in the service of this Faith rather than means, ability or financial backing. 96

Service as Magnet for Divine Confirmation

... There is nothing, that brings success in, the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the Divine Confirmations. Thus, when a person is active, they are blessed by the Holy Spirit. When they are inactive, the Holy Spirit cannot find a repository in their being, and thus they are deprived of its healing and quickening rays." 97

Assistance of Hosts of Divine Concourse

"...An individual must center his whole heart and mind on service to the Cause, ill accordance with the high standards sec by Bahá'u'lláh. When this is done, the hosts of the Supreme Concourse will come to the assistance of the individual, and every difficulty and trial will gradually be overcome." 98

The Ego is the Animal within Us

'The ego is the animal within us, the heritage of the flesh which is full of selfish desires. By obeying the laws of God, seeking to live the life laid down in our teachings, and prayer and struggle, we can subdue our egos. We call people 'Saints' who have achieved the highest degree of mastery over their ego.

"There is no contradiction 'between Gleanings P 66 and P 262. In one place He says the mirror will never be free from dross, in the other He says it will be 'so cleansed as to be able' etc. It is a relative thing; perfection will never be reached, but great and ever greater, progress can he made." 99

There is no Rule or Standard Requiring a Believer to Serve in one Field at the Exclusion of Others

"Whatever the particular field of service you may choose, whether teaching or administrative, the essential is for you to persevere, and not to allow any consciousness of your limitations to dampen your zeal much less to deter you from serving joyously and actively.

"There is no general, rule, or any particular standard requiring a believer to serve in one field, at the exclusion of others. Every believer is to choose for himself any avenue of work in which he conscientiously feels he can render the greatest amount of service to the Cause. He can seek the advice of his Assembly, and of his fellow-believers before taking such a step, 'but there is no obligation requiring him to do so." -100

0 Son of Man! If thou lovest Me, turn, away from thyself, and if thou seekest My pleasure, regard not thine own, that thou mayest die in Me and I may etemally live in thee. 101


THE TREE OF LIFE

THE HUMAN SOUL HAS ALWAYS BEEN COMPARED TO A TREE:

Verily this is that Most Great Beauty, foretold in the Books of the Messengers, through Whom truth shall be distinguished from error and the wisdom of every command shall be tested. Verily He is the Tree of Life that bringeth forth the fruits of God, the Exalted, the Powerful, the Great.

0 Ahmad! Bear thou witness that verily He is God and there is no God but Him, the King, the Protector, the Incomparable, the Omnipotent. And that the One Whom He hath sent forth by the name of 'Ali was the true One from God., to Whose commands we are all conforming.

Say: 0 people be obedient to the ordinances of God, Which have been enjoined in the Bayán by the Glorious, the Wise One. Verily He is the King of the Messengers and His Book is the Mother Book did ye but know.

Bahá'u'lláh, "Tablet of Ahmad"

Consecrate Thou, 0 my God, the whole of this Tree unto Him, that from it may be revealed all the fruits created by God within it for Him through Whom God hath willed to reveal all that He pleaseth. By Thy glory! I have not wished that this Tree should ever bear any branch, leaf, or fruit that would fail to bow down before Him, on the day of His revelation, or refuse to laud Thee through Him, as beseemeth the glory of His all-glorious Revelation, and the sublimity of His most sublime Concealment. And shouldst Thou behold, 0 my god, any branch, leaf, or fruit upon Me that hath failed to bow down before Him, on the day of His Revelation, cut it off, 0 My god, from that Tree, for it is not of Me, nor shall it return unto Me.

The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb

Send down Thy blessing, 0 my God, upon the Tree of the Bayán, upon its root and its branch, its boughs, its leaves, its fruits and upon whatsoever it beareth or sheltereth. Cause this Tree then to be made into a magnificent Scroll to be offered to the presence of Him Whom Thou wilt make manifest on the Day of Judgement, that He may graciously allow the entire company of the followers of the Bayán to be restored to life and that He may, through His bounty, inaugurate a new creation.

Indeed all are but paupers in the face of Thy tender mercy, and lowly servants before the tokens of Thy loving-kindness. I beg of Thee, by Thy bounty, 0 my God, and by the outpourings of Thy mercy and bestowals, 0 my Lord, and by the evidences of Thy heavenly favours and grace, 0 my Best Beloved, to watch over Him Whom God shall make manifest that no trace of despondency may ever touch Him.

The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb

LIVING A FRUITFUL LIFE:

Incline your hearts, 0 people of God, unto the counsels of your true, your incomparable Friend. The Word of God may be likened unto a sapling, whose roots have been implanted in the hearts of men. It is incumbent upon you to foster its growth thought the living waters of wisdom, of sanctified and holy words, so that its root may become firmly fixed and its branches may spread out as high as the heavens and beyond.

0 ye that dwell on earth! The distinguishing feature that marketh the pre-eminent character of this Supreme Revelation consisteth in that We have, on the one hand, blotted out from the pages of God's holy Book whatsoever hath been the cause of strife, of malice and mischief amongst the children of men, and have, on the other, laid down the essential prerequisites of concord, of understanding, of complete and enduring unity. Well is it with them that keep My statutes.

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings

What are the fruits of the human world? They are the spiritual attributes which appear in man. If man is bereft of those attributes, he is like a fruitless tree. One whose aspiration is lofty and who has developed self-reliance will not be content with a mere animal existence. He will seek the divine kingdom; he will long to be in heaven although he still walks the earth in his material body, and though his outer visage be physical, his face of inner reflection will become spiritual and heavenly. Until this station is attained by man, his life will be utterly devoid of real outcomes. The span of his existence will pass away in eating, drinking and sleeping, without eternal fruits, heavenly traces of illumination - without spiritual potency, everlasting life or the lofty attainments intended for him during his pilgrimage through the human world.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

The honor of man is through the attainment of the knowledge of God; his happiness is from the love of God; his joy in the glad tidings of God; his greatness is dependent upon his servitude to God. The highest development of man is his entrance into the divine kingdom, and the outcome of this human existence is the nucleus and essence of eternal life. If man is bereft of the divine bestowals and if his enjoyment and happiness are restricted to his material inclinations, what distinction or difference is there between the animal and himself. In fact, the animal's happiness is greater, for its wants are fewer and its means of livelihood easier to acquire. Although it is necessary for man to strive for material needs and comforts, his real need is the acquisition of the bounties of God. If he is bereft of divine bounties, spiritual susceptibilities and heavenly glad tidings, the life of man in this world has not yielded any worthy fruit. While possessing physical life, he should lay hold of the life spiritual, and together with bodily comforts and happiness, he should enjoy divine pleasures and content. then is man worthy of the title man; then will he be after the image and likeness of God, for the image of the Merciful consists of the attributes of the heavenly kingdom. If no fruits of the kingdom appear in the garden of his soul, man is not in the image and likeness of God, but if those fruits are forthcoming, he becomes the recipient of ideal bestowals and is enkindled with the fire of the love of God.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace

0 Peerless Lord! Be Thou a shelter for this poor child and a kind and forgiving Master unto this erring and unhappy soul. 0 Lord! Though we are but worthless plants, yet we belong to Thy garden of roses. Though saplings with leaves and blossoms, yet we are a part of Thine

orchard. Nurture this plant then through the outpourings of the clouds of Thy tender mercy, and quicken and refresh this sapling through the reviving breath of Thy spiritual springtime. Suffer him to become heedful, discerning and noble, and grant that he may attain eternal life and abide in Thy kingdom for evermore.

'Abdu'l-Bahá


REFLECTIONS ON THE 1992 RIDVAN MESSAGE FROM

THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

by

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Hawaiian Islands

SPIRITUALIZATION

"...a rendezvous of the soul with the Source of its light and guidance...

ACTION: Reflect inwardly

QUOTES:

"Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting."

"i am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way."

"By My Life! Not of Mine own volition have I revealed Myself, but God, of His own choosing, hath manifested Me."

"I have come in the shadows of the clouds of glory, and am invested by God with invincible sovereignty. "

"Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this 0 servant."

"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He bath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness."

(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in the 1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraphs 24-25)

PROCLAMATION

ACTION: Emblazon His Name

QUOTES:

"He Who is the Unconditioned is come, in the clouds of light, that He may quicken all created things with the breezes of His Name, the Most Merciful, and unify the world, and gather all men around this Table which hath been sent down from heaven."

(Bahá'u'11áh, quoted in the 1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 26)

"That the Name of Him Who is the Lifegiver of the World becomes known throughout the earth among high and low alike.".

"Let us bear His Name with dignity to those who must hear It, offer It as a treasure to those who must receive It, speak It with love to those who must embrace It."

(1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 26)

TEACHING

ACTION: Mount a personal campaign of teaching

QUOTES:

"Be not dismayed, 0 people of the world, when the day-star of My beauty is set, and the heaven of My tabernacle is concealed from your eyes. Arise to further My Cause, and to exalt My Word amongst men. We are truly almighty. Whoso hath recognized Me, will arise and serve Me with such determination that the powers of earth and heaven shall be unable to defeat His purpose.

(Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in the 1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 28)

"How laudable it would be if, imbued by this desire to blazon abroad His Name, and as a demonstration of our special love for the Abhá Beauty, we could each of us mount a personal campaign of teaching, such that the collective force and results of it throughout the world would bring to a resounding conclusion the sacred exercises of this Holy Year and set the stage for the launching of the impending Three Year Plan at Ridvan 199Y "

(1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 27)

MATURATION

ACTION: Build the Administrative Order

QUOTES:

"The second century is destined to witness a tremendous deployment and a notable consolidation of the forces working towards the world-wide development of that Order, as well as the first stirrings of that World Order, of which the present Administrative System is at once the precursor, the nucleus and pattern -an Order which, as it slowly crystallizes and radiates its benign influence over the entire planet, will proclaim at once the coming of age of the whole human race, as well as the maturity of the Faith itself, the progenitor of that Order."

(Shoghi Effendi, quoted in the 1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 16)

EXTERNAL AFFAIRS

ACTION: Renew, clarify and amplify our perspectives

QUOTES:

"With the fresh tide of political freedom resulting from the collapse of the strongholds of communism has come an explosion of nationalism. The concomitant rise of racism in many regions has become a matter of serious global concern. These are compounded by an upsurge in religious fundamentalism which is poisoning the wells of tolerance. Terrorism is rife. Widespread uncertainty about the condition of the economy indicated a deep disorder in the management of the material affairs of the planet, a condition which can only exacerbate the sense of frustration and futility affecting the political realm. The worsening state of the environment and of the health of huge populations is a source of alarm. ...It is against such simultaneous processes of raise and fall, of integration and of disintegration, of order and chaos, with their continuous and reciprocal reactions on each other', that a myriad new opportunities for the next stage in the unfoldment of the beloved Master's Divine Plan present themselves. "

"The call for unity, for a new world order, is audible from many directions. The change in world society is characterized by a phenomenal speed. ...The positive aspects of this change reveal an unaccustomed openness to global concepts, movement towards international and regional collaboration, an inclination of warring parties to opt for peaceful solutions, a search for spiritual values."

"Even the Community of the Most Great Name itself is experiencing the rigorous effects of this quickening wind as it ventilates the modes of thought of us all, renewing, clarifying and amplifying our perspectives as to the purpose of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh in the wake of humanity's suffering and turmoil. "

(1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraphs 14-15)

"The exposure of influential segments of the public to Bahá'í ideas in such areas as peace, the environment, status of women, education and literacy, has induced a response which increasingly calls upon the Bahá'ís to participate with others in a range of projects associated with governments or with non-governmental organizations."

(1992 Ridvan Message, Universal House of Justice, paragraph 8)

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