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Abstract:
A sourcebook of Baha'i principles for the training of children, covering the purpose and content of a core spiritual curriculum, as well as a process framework for spiritual education.

Foundations for a Spiritual Education:
Research of the Bahá'í Writings

by National Bahá'í Education Task Force

Wimette: National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 2005
Contents
PREFACE ix
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi
PART 1: A COMPILATION OF BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS ON SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 1
INTRODUCTION 3
A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 6
B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD 12
C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 16
KNOWLEDGE 16
WISDOM 27
SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION 31
ELOQUENT SPEECH 37
D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 42
STAGES OF MATURITY 42
ATTENDING TO INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, CAPABILITY, AND INTEREST 46
INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS AND LEARNING TOOLS 47
INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS 47
AND LEARNING TOOLS 50
ORGANIZATION, EVALUATION, AND METHODS OF DISCIPLINE 58
E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 61
PART 2: A FRAMEWORK FOR SPIRITUAL EDUCATION: THE CORE CURRICULUM 71
PREFACE 73
I. A PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 77
The Purpose of Spiritual Education 77
Education as a Spiritual Process 79
A New Cycle of Human Power 80
II. THE DISTINCTIVE PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
A. The Nature, Purpose, and Outcomes of Spiritual Education 84
Summary 93
B. The Spiritual Reality of the Child 93
Summary 99
C. The Content of Spiritual Education 99
Introduction 99
Knowledge 100
Summary 118
Wisdom 119
Summary 125
Spiritual Perception 126
Summary 134
Eloquent Speech 135
Summary 142
D. The Process of Spiritual Education 142
Introduction 143
Stages of Maturity 143
Summary 150
Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest 150
Summary 152
Instructional Methods and Learning Tools 152
Instructional Methods 152
Learning Tools 157
Summary 168
Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline 168
Summary 172
E. Roles and Responsibilities 173
Summary 186
A New Paradigm 187
PART 3: A SUMMARY OF DISTINCTIVE PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 189
INTRODUCTION 191
A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 191
B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD 192
C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 193
D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION 198
E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES 202
BIBLIOGRAPHY 205


page ix

PREFACE

The cultivation of the human spirit is a subject that has been of tremendous interest to religious scholars, educators, and parents for countless ages. In fact, one of the primary purposes of the appearance of the Manifestations of God is to foster the spiritual development of humanity.

The Bahá'í writings affirm that spiritual education is at the heart of the educational process that leads to the elevation and transformation of the human spirit. The spiritual education and training of children fosters the realization of their inherent spiritual potential, the development of their spiritual capacities, and the demonstration of spiritual capabilities in their lives. Spiritual education is the indispensable foundation for all other learning; it is the cause of both individual and collective progress in society.

Foundations for a Spiritual Education offers a selection of extracts from the Bahá'í writings on spiritual education to those interested in the development of spiritual education programs for children. Its publication is part of the Core Curriculum Program of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. Its purpose is to assist Bahá'í scholars, teachers, parents, and institutions—individually or collectively—to study the Bahá'í writings on spiritual education.

In developing the Core Curriculum Program, the National Bahá'í Education Task Force has been sensitive to the importance of meeting the multiplicity of needs for spiritual education within the Bahá'í community. For this reason the presentation of the research of the Bahá'í writings supporting the development of a spiritual education curriculum has been organized into three distinct parts:

Part 1, "A Compilation of Bahá'í Writings on Spiritual Education," contains extracts from the Bahá'í writings pertaining to the spiritual education of children and to related topics. Part 1 will be useful for deepening and study, for it presents the overarching principles and characteristics of spiritual education that should guide the work of Bahá'í education.
Part 2, "A Framework for Spiritual Education: The Core Curriculum," organizes the extracts from Part 1 into a tentative framework for spiritual

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education extrapolated by the National Bahá'í Education Task Force. Trainers and teachers participating in the development and implemtnation of the Core Curriculum will find this part particularly useful. It organizes the extracts from Part 1 to suppor tthe philosophy, principles, and characteristics of spiritual education as referred to in the Core Curriculum Teacher Training Course, Parent Facilitation Programs, and in the Curriculum 6-12 strand booklets, all programs offered at the National Teacher Trainer Center at Louhelen Bahá'í School. Brief introductions to each of the topics are included as well as a concise summary of the concepts presented in the extracts.
Part 3, "A Summary of the Distinctive Principles and Characteristics of Spiritual Education," identifies in summary form the ocntent and processes of spiritual education suggested by the Bahá'í writings. It can serve either as a brief overview or as an index of the range and content of spiritual education and can guide the development of curricula and methodologies.

In whatever manner Bahá'ís begin exploring the guidance given in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice, it is hoped that this compilation will encourage and assist them in deepening and engaging in their own research and extrapolation of the Bahá'í writings on spiritual education. Such searching and reflection will prompt the development and design of new models of community life, educational planning, and teacher development. It will produce new curricula, new teaching strategies, and activities that will enable children to understand the reality of religion, to attain higher levels of spiritual perfection, and to contribute more capably to an "ever-advancing civilization."1


1. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 215.

page xi

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Foundations for a Spiritual Education: Research of the Bahá'í Writings represents a major step forward in the development of the thinking of the national Bahá'í community regarding the education and raising of children. This research of the sacred writings provided the impetus for the Core Curriculum, a systematic process by which communities focus their efforts on child development and race unity, parents gain insights and expertise in the task of child-rearing, teachers assume their proper station and role of guidance for our children, and, most importantly, children learn and are supported in their spiritual growth.

The National Spiritual Assembly is grateful for the contributions and commitment, through years of dedicated efforts, to the members of the National Bahá'í Task Force, whose work comprises this volume: Saba Ayman-Nolley, Anne Breneman, Barbara Johnson, Terry Kneisler, John Smith, Leonard Smith, and Irene Taafaki.

NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES


page xii
page 1

PART 1

A COMPILATION OF BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS ON SPIRITUAL EDUCATION


page 2

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá

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INTRODUCTION

You have asked him [Shoghi Effendi] for detailed information concerning the Bahá'í educational programme; there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.
These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and university programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future.1

The extracts included in Part 1 come from the writings and utterances of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. The extracts have been selected for their relevance to the spiritual education of children within the Bahá'í family and community. These extracts do not constitute all the guidance that can be found in the writings concerning the subject of spiritual education; however, they provide a beginning resource and foundation for ongoing research and development toward a Bahá'í spiritual educational system and Bahá'í pedagogy.


1. On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 55-56, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 121]

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For the present, a careful study of the writings on spiritual education and the articulation of resulting "teaching ideals" is what is needed "to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum" to "meet the requirements and needs of the modern age."2 The development of principles of spiritual education in Part 2 represents a step toward the goal of attaining depper insight into the Bahá'í vision of a spiritualized humanity. It also represents an attempt to understand the role education plays and an effort to improve the process by which it contributes to the transformation of society.

Bahá'í institutions, teachers, families, and communities wishing to establish an appropriate program of education for children may find it helpful to begin by studying the extracts from the writings that follow. The extracts have been organized into five categories for easy reference. However, their applicability is not limited to the category to which they have been assigend, and many extracts are repeated when they have particular relevance to more than one category. The five categories include

A. The Nature, Purpose, and Outcomes of Spiritual Education
B. The Spiritual Reality of the Child
C. The Content of Spiritual Education
Knowledge3
Wisdom4
Spiritual Perception5
Eloquent Speech6

2. Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 56, no. 139. [Digital ed. note - no. 121]
3. Knowledge is defined as a keen awareness of information and facts; the remembering and recalling of previously learned material.
4. Wisdom is defined as true comprehension and insight; the discovery, through experience, of the meaning of information and facts. Wisdom is acquired through experience, consultation, reflection, inspiration, and an evolving understanding of spiritual truth.
5. Spiritual perception is defined as penetrating inner vision and the utilization of a Bahá'í perspective; the discovery of purpose and meaning; the bringing to bear of Bahá'í spiritual values, principles, and laws upon the individual's expanding consciousness of issues and problems. As such, it includes the capacity to search for connections, analyze, evaluate, and apply—using Bahá'í laws, principles, and values as the standard for discernment.
6. Eloquent speech is defined as the ability to articulate knowledge, understanding, and beliefs in a clear and comprehensive way. For the purposes of the Core

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D. The Process of Spiritual Education
Stages of Maturity
Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest
Instructional Methods
Learning Tools
Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline
E. Roles and Responsibilities

Curriculum, the definition of eloquent speech is extended beyond verbalization to include all behaviors that reflect the internalization of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. This involves the integration and synthesis of learning into the active expression of knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual perception. Eloquent speech is the endeavor to live a Bahá'í life and engage in service to humanity.

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A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 199

The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-57

Thou didst write as to the children: from the very beginning, the children must receive divine education and must continually be reminded to remember their God. Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

O thou true friend! Read, in the school of God, the lessons of the spirit, and learn from love's Teacher the innermost truths. Seek out the secrets of Heaven, and tell of the overflowing grace and favour of God.

Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that man's river flow into the mighty sea, and draw from God's ancient source His inspiration. When this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. If, then, the pursuit of knowledge lead to the beauty of Him Who is the Object of all Knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God.

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.

It is incumbent upon thee to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to turn thy face toward the beauty of the Manifest Beauty, that thou mayest be a sign of saving guidance amongst the peoples of the world,
page 7 and a focal centre of understanding in this sphere from which the wise and their wisdom are shut out, except for those who set foot in the Kingdom of lights and become informed of the veiled and hidden mystery, the well-guarded secret.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 110

The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rilling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 129-30

They must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 29, no. 74

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 534

Thou must certainly continue this organized activity [Sunday school for the children] without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results. Firmness and steadfastness, however, are necessary, otherwise it will continue for some time, but later be gradually forgotten. Perseverance is an essential condition.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 143-44

My wish is that these children should receive a Bahá'í education, so that they may progress both here and in the Kingdom, and rejoice thy heart.


page 8

In a time to come, morals will degenerate to an extreme degree. It is essential that children be reared in the Bahá'í way, that they may find happiness both in this world and the next. If not, they shall be beset by sorrows and troubles, for human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

Education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease. This education is common to animals and man.

Human education signifies civilization and progress— that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8

Education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth. There is intellectual education or mental training for which schools and colleges are founded. The third kind of education is that of the spirit. Through the breaths of the Holy Spirit man is uplifted into the world of moralities and illumined by the lights of divine bestowals. The moral world is only attained through the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and the quickening life of the divine spirit. For this reason the holy Manifestations of God appear in the human world. They come to educate and illuminate mankind, to bestow spiritual susceptibilities, to quicken inner perceptions and thereby adorn the reality of man—the human temple—with divine graces.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 330

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68


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Instruction in the schools must begin with instruction in religion. Following religious training, and the binding of the child's heart to the love of God, proceed with his education in the other branches of knowledge.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 70

The universities and colleges of the world must hold fast to three cardinal principles.

First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.

Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.

Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), p. 98

Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10

Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the center of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual
page 10qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education, he becomes the manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the source of all dark conditions.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 236

Man is in 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 aspect may overcome their animal side.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235

They [children] must be constantly encouraged and made eager to gain all the summits of human accomplishment, so that from their earliest years they will be taught to have high aims, to conduct themselves well, to be chaste, pure, and undefiled, and will learn to be of powerful resolve and firm of purpose in all things. Let them not jest and trifle, but earnestly advance unto their goals, so that in every situation they will be found resolute and firm.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 135

As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind; acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

O thou who gazest upon the Kingdom of God! Thy letter was received and we note that thou art engaged in teaching the children of the believers, that these tender little ones have been learning The Hidden Words and the prayers and what it meaneth to be a Bahá'í.


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The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth. Every child must be trained in the things of the spirit, so that he may embody all the virtues and become a source of glory to the Cause of God. Otherwise, the mere word `Bahá'í', if it yield no fruit, will come to nothing.

Strive then to the best of thine ability to let these children know that a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper—not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name "Bahá'í".

Name thou this school the Bahá'í Sunday School.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

The indispensable basis of all is that he [a child] should develop spiritual characteristics and the praiseworthy virtues of humankind. This is the primary consideration. If a person be unlettered, and yet clothed with divine excellence, and alive in the breaths of the Spirit, that individual will contribute to the welfare of society, and his inability to read and write will do him no harm. And if a person be versed in the arts and every branch of knowledge, and not live a religious life, and not take on the characteristics of God, and not be directed by a pure intent, and be engrossed in the life of the flesh — then he is harm personified, and nothing will come of all his learning and intellectual accomplishments but scandal and torment.

If, however, an individual hath spiritual characteristics, and virtues that shine out, and his purpose in life be spiritual and his inclinations be directed toward God, and he also study other branches of knowledge — then we have light upon light: his outer being luminous, his private character radiant, his heart sound, his thought elevated, his understanding swift, his rank noble.

Blessed is he who attaineth this exalted station.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 78

The truth is that God has endowed man with virtues, powers and ideal faculties. . . . We must thank God for these bestowals, for these powers He has given us...


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How shall we utilize these gifts and expend these bounties? By directing our efforts toward the unification of the human race. We must use these powers in establishing the oneness of the world of humanity. . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 51


B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD

The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen. But this purity is on account of weakness and innocence, not on account of any strength and testing, for as this is the early period of their childhood, their hearts and minds are unsullied by the world. They cannot display any great intelligence. They have neither hypocrisy nor deceit. This is on account of the child's weakness, whereas the man becomes pure through his strength. Through the power of intelligence he becomes simple; through the great power of reason and understanding and not through the power of weakness he becomes sincere. When he attains to the state of perfection, he will receive these qualities; his heart becomes purified, his spirit enlightened, his soul is sensitized and tender—all through his great strength. This is the difference between the perfect man and the child. Both have the underlying qualities of simplicity and sincerity —the child through the power of weakness and the man through the power of strength.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

As for what is meant by the equality of souls in the all-highest realm, it is this: the souls of the believers, at the time when they first become manifest in the world of the body, are equal, and each is sanctified and pure. In this world, however, they will begin to differ one from another, some achieving the highest station, some a middle one, others remaining at the lowest stage of being. Their equal status is at the beginning of their existence; the differentiation followeth their passing away.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 171

The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become
page 13

acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 208-209

In man there are two natures; his spiritual or higher nature and his material or lower nature. In one he approaches God, in the other he lives for the world alone.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 60

...the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit and is its essential quality, as the sun's rays are the essential necessity of the sun.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 209

Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 65

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260

...education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 132

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.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 8


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I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 4

O SON OF SPIRIT!

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:22

O SON OF BEING!

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

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:5

O SON OF MAN!

I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:4

Were there no educator, all souls would remain savage, and were it not for the teacher, the children would be ignorant creatures.

It is for this reason that, in this new cycle, education and training are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126

Bahá'u'lláh declares that all mankind should attain knowledge and acquire an education. This is a necessary principle of religious belief and observance, characteristically new in this dispensation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455

Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed the universality of education, which is essential to the unity of mankind, that one and all may be equally educated, whether girls or boys, and receive the same education. When education is universalized in all schools, perfect communication between the members of the human race will be established. When all receive the same kind of education the foundations of war and contention will be utterly destroyed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 33-34, no. 82

As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them
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onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind; acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

He [Bahá'u'lláh] promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175

The school for girls taketh precedence over the school for boys, for it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully versed in the various branches of knowledge, in sciences and the arts and all the wonders of this pre-eminent time, that they may then educate their children and train them from their earliest days in the ways of perfection.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 34, no. 85

Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the greatness of this wondrous Age will be manifested as a result of progress in the world of women. This is why ye observe that in every land the world of women is on the march, and this is due to the impact of the Most Great Manifestation, and the power of the teachings of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 70

Shoghi Effendi wishes you particularly to give all your attention to the education of your boys so that they may become sincere, loyal and active Bahá'ís. It is to the youth that we should look for help, and it is, therefore, the sacred obligation of the parents to provide their children with a thorough Bahá'í training.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 132

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66


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The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66

C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9

The extracts in this section are organized under the following headings:

Knowledge
Wisdom
Spiritual Perception
Eloquent Speech

KNOWLEDGE

In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27

Naught shall avail you in this Day but God, nor is there any refuge to flee to save Him, the Omniscient, the All-Wise. Whoso hath known Me hath known the Goal of all desire, and whoso hath turned unto Me hath turned unto the Object of all adoration. Thus hath it been set forth in the Book, and thus hath it been decreed by God, the Lord of all worlds. To read but one of the verses of My Revelation is better than to peruse the Scriptures of both the former and latter generations. This is the Utterance of the All-Merciful, would that ye had ears to hear! Say: This is the essence of knowledge, did ye but understand.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶138

In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage. Should the Will of God assist Us, there would flow out from the Pen of the Divine Expounder a lengthy exposition of that which hath been mentioned, and there would be revealed, in the field of arts and sciences, what would renew the world and the nations. A word hath, likewise, been written down and recorded by the Pen of the Most High in
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the Crimson Book2 which is capable of fully disclosing that force which is hid in men, nay of redoubling its potency. We implore God—exalted and glorified be He—to graciously assist His servants to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32

There are only four accepted methods of comprehension— that is to say, the realities of things are understood by these four methods.

The first method is by the senses—that is to say, all that the eye, the ear, the taste, the smell, the touch perceive is understood by this method. Today this method is considered the most perfect by all the European philosophers: they say that the principal method of gaining knowledge is through the senses; they consider it supreme, although it is imperfect, for it commits errors. For example, the greatest of the senses is the power of sight. The sight sees the mirage as water, and it sees images reflected in mirrors as real and existent; large bodies which are distant appear to be small, and a whirling point appears as a circle. The sight believes the earth to be motionless and sees the sun in motion, and in many similar cases it makes mistakes. Therefore, we cannot trust it.

The second is the method of reason, which was that of the ancient philosophers, the pillars of wisdom; this is the method of the understanding. They proved things by reason and held firmly to logical proofs; all their arguments are arguments of reason. Notwithstanding this, they differed greatly, and their opinions were contradictory. They even changed their views—that is to say, during twenty years they would prove the existence of a thing by logical arguments, and afterward they would deny it by logical arguments—so much so that Plato at first logically proved the immobility of the earth and the movement of the sun; later by logical arguments he proved that the sun was the stationary center, and that the earth was moving. Afterward the Ptolemaic theory was spread abroad, and the idea of Plato was entirely forgotten, until at last a new observer again called it to life. Thus all the mathematicians disagreed, although they relied upon arguments of reason. In the same way, by logical arguments, they would prove a problem at a certain time, then afterward by arguments of the same


2. Adib Taherzadeh explains in The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 142, "The only document which explicitly announced 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant of Bah'u'llah and the One to Whom all must turn after His Ascension was the Kitáb-i-'Ahdí (The Book of My Covenant) which was published among the believers only after His passing. This historic document was probably written at least one year before the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, for it is alluded to in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf as the 'Crimson Book.'"

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nature they would deny it. So one of the philosophers would firmly uphold a theory for a time with strong arguments and proofs to support it, which afterward he would retract and contradict by arguments of reason. Therefore, it is evident that the method of reason is not perfect, for the differences of the ancient philosophers, the want of stability and the variations of their opinions, prove this. For if it were perfect, all ought to be united in their ideas and agreed in their opinions.

The third method of understanding is by tradition— that is, through the text of the Holy Scriptures—for people say, "In the Old and New Testaments, God spoke thus." This method equally is not perfect, because the traditions are understood by the reason. As the reason itself is liable to err, how can it be said that in interpreting the meaning of the traditions it will not err, for it is possible for it to make mistakes, and certainty cannot be attained. This is the method of the religious leaders; whatever they understand and comprehend from the text of the books is that which their reason understands from the text, and not necessarily the real truth; for the reason is like a balance, and the meanings contained in the text of the Holy Books are like the thing which is weighed. If the balance is untrue, how can the weight be ascertained?

Know then: that which is in the hands of people, that which they believe, is liable to error. For, in proving or disproving a thing, if a proof is brought forward which is taken from the evidence of our senses, this method, as has become evident, is not perfect; if the proofs are intellectual, the same is true; or if they are traditional, such proofs also are not perfect. Therefore, there is no standard in the hands of people upon which we can rely.

But the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension which is infallible and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty can alone be attained.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 297-299

Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas, and convictions of the children of men.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 14.5 (p. 95, 1977 ed.)

I most urgently request the friends of God to make every effort, as much as lieth within their competence, along these lines. The harder they strive to widen the scope of their knowledge, the better and more gratifying will be the result. Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and
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spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts. Whensoever they gather in their meetings let their conversation be confined to learned subjects and to information on the knowledge of the day.

If they do thus, they will flood the world with the Manifest Light, and change this dusty earth into gardens of the Realm of Glory.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Excellence in All Things, p. 8

Regarding your question about the need for greater unity among the friends, there is no doubt that this is so, and the Guardian feels that one of the chief instruments for promoting it is to teach the Bahá'ís themselves, in classes and through precepts, that love of God, and consequently of men, is the essential foundation of every religion, our own included. A greater degree of love will produce a greater unity, because it enables people to bear with each other, to be patient and forgiving.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Directives from the Guardian, p. 67

If the younger Bahá'í generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pains of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 28, no. 92

I wish to urge the necessity of concentrating . . . on the systematic study of the early history and principles of the Faith, on public speaking, and on a thorough discussion, both formally and informally, of various aspects of the Cause. These I regard as essential preliminaries to a future intensive campaign of teaching in which the rising generation must engage, if the spread of the Cause is to be assured in that land. May you succeed in your efforts to attain that goal!

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 14, no. 34


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The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people; as to what subjects within the Faith you should concentrate on he feels that young Bahá'ís should gain a mastery of such books as the Gleanings, the Dawnbreakers, God Passes By, the Iqán, Some Answered Questions and the more important Tablets. All aspects of the Faith should be deeply studied. . . .

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 46, no. 143

Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. Read, with close attention, the Tablets of Tarazat (Ornaments), Kalimat (Words of Paradise), Tajalliyyat (Effulgences), Ishraqat (Splendours), and Bisharat (Glad Tidings), and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 35

O thou who gazeth upon the Kingdom of God! Thy letter was received and we note that thou art engaged in teaching the children of the believers, that these tender little ones have been learning The Hidden Words and the prayers and what it meaneth to be a Bahá'í.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

Shoghi Effendi is especially delighted to know that the younger group are studying the Will and Testament as this document is indispensable for a complete understanding of the spirit, of the mission and of the future state of the Bahá'í Cause. It would be well to have a competent friend explain to them some of the passages.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 29, no. 94

Those standards of Bahá'í conduct, which he himself has set forth in his last general epistle, "The Advent of Divine Justice", and which it should be the paramount duty of every loyal and conscientious believer to endeavour to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation. . .

The principle and methods laid down by the Guardian in his "Advent of Divine Justice" on this vital subject of Bahá'í ethics, should indeed prove of invaluable inspiration and guidance to all the students and friends attending the Summer School classes, and thus prepare them to better
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appreciate the privileges, and more adequately discharge the responsibilities, of their citizenship in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 42, no. 131

He has noted, in particular, with genuine satisfaction the recommendations issued by the National Youth Committee to the members of our Bahá'í youth to make a deeper study of the Master's Will and to ponder more carefully on its manifold and far-reaching implications. He hopes that the Regional Youth Conferences . . . have devoted all the time necessary for the study and discussion of this all-important subject, and have given it the full emphasis it deserves. He will pray that the results obtained may be such as to give all the attendants a clear and wider vision of the tasks, responsibilities and obligations they will be called upon to discharge during this year, and a renewed stimulus to contribute their full share to the success and complete fulfillment of the Seven-Year Plan.

The Guardian would advise that in their studies of the Will and Testament the young believers should use the "Dispensation", which will undoubtedly help them considerably to grasp the full implications of that sacred and historic Document which he has described as the "Charter of the New World Order".

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 41, no. 129

Shoghi Effendi wishes . . . to express his deepfelt appreciation of your intention to study the Qur'án. The knowledge of the revealed holy Book is, indeed, indispensable to every Bahá'í who wishes to adequately understand the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. And in view of that the Guardian has been invariably encouraging the friends to make as thorough a study of this Book as possible, particularly in their summer schools. Sale's translation is the most scholarly we have, but Rodwell's version is more literary, and hence easier for reading.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 38, no. 122

The ambition of every young Bahá'í should be, indeed, to become a well-informed and competent teacher.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 15, no. 35

The obligation to teach is essentially the responsibility of young believers. Their whole training should therefore be directed in such a way as to make them competent teachers.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 15, no. 36


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They [the Bahá'í youth] must become thoroughly familiar with the language used and the example set by `Abdu'l-Bahá in His public addresses throughout the West.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21, no. 73

They have upon their shoulders all the responsibilities for the progress of the Movement; it is our duty to rear their spiritual feelings, enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance which has been shed before us by the Master.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 14, no. 34

The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, his increasing comprehension of the essential verities underlying his Faith, his training in its administrative processes, his understanding of the fundamentals of the Covenants established by the Author and the authorized Interpreter of its teachings should be made the supreme objectives of the national representatives responsible for the edification, the progress and consolidation of these communities.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 25, no. 86

Such stories [as those in The Dawn-Breakers] regarding the life of different prophets together with their sayings will also be useful to better understand the literature of the Cause for there is constant reference to them. It is however the work of experienced people to bring together such materials and make of them interesting text books for the children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 130 [Digital ed. note - no. 111]

God sent His Prophets into the world to teach and enlighten man, to explain to him the mystery of the Power of the Holy Spirit, to enable him to reflect the light, and so in his turn, to be the source of guidance to others. The Heavenly Books, the Bible, the Qur'án, and the other Holy Writings have been given by God as guides into the paths of Divine virtue, love, justice and peace.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 61-62

In this day there is nothing more important than the instruction and study of clear proofs and convincing, heavenly arguments, for therein lie the source of life and the path of salvation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 9, no. 31


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You must come into the knowledge of the divine Manifestations and Their teachings through proofs and evidences. You must unseal the mysteries of the supreme Kingdom and become capable of discovering the inner realities of things. Then shall you be the manifestations of the mercy of God and true believers, firm and steadfast in the Cause of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 227-28

It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in faith, the reason being that a child who removeth himself from the religion of God will not act in such a way as to win the good pleasure of his parents and his Lord. For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the child will not turn away from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 12

The method of instruction you have devised, namely, to begin by proving the existence and oneness of God, the Lord of Eternity, then to establish the validity of the mission proclaimed by the prophets and messengers, and finally to explain the signs, the marvels and wonders of the universe, is highly acceptable and you should proceed accordingly. Confirmations from the Lord of Glory will assuredly be vouchsafed. Memorizing the texts of the holy Tablets, and of perspicuous words and statements is highly praiseworthy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 9, no. 32

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68

The principles of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh should be carefully studied, one by one, until they are realized and understood by mind and heart. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 22

There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human
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nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them.

—The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 28

That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them the oneness of God and the laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 3-4, no. 14

We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 26

First and most important is training in behaviour and good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws: to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 80

The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve—is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. . . . Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family.

—Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 42-43

Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the
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schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9 no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), p. 98

From the tenderest childhood, the children must be taught by their mothers the love of God and the love of humanity; not the love of the humanity of Asia, or the humanity of Europe, or the humanity of America, but the humanity of humankind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9 no. 7 (July 13, 1918), p. 87

In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child. . . .

Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. It should therefore be universally proclaimed, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies.

—The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, pp. 27-29

There is need of a superior power to overcome human prejudices, a power which nothing in the world of mankind can withstand and which will overshadow the effect of all other forces at work in human conditions. That irresistible power is the love of God. It is my hope and prayer that it may destroy the prejudice of this one point of distinction between you and unite you all permanently under its hallowed protection. Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 68

When we review history from the beginning down to the present day, we find that strife and warfare have prevailed throughout the human world. Wars—religious, racial or political—have arisen from human ignorance, misunderstanding and lack of education.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 116

He [Bahá'u'lláh] promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality
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of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. . . . There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 175

It beseemeth . . . the . . . officials of the Government to convene a gathering and choose one of the divers languages, and likewise one of the existing scripts, or else to create a new language and a new script to be taught children in schools throughout the world. They would, in this way, be acquiring only two languages, one their own native tongue, the other the language in which all the peoples of the world would converse.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 138

Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 9, no. 30

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26

The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It is inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of the time.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 109

The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social, economic and political conditions are becoming daily more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in reforming the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the mind of man.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 2, no. 3

Being a Bahá'í you are certainly aware of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true
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civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the programme of the Bahá'í youth all over the world.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 52, no. 128

Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding!

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 80

All humanity must obtain a livelihood by sweat of the brow and bodily exertion, at the same time seeking to lift the burden of others, striving to be the source of comfort to souls and facilitating the means of living. This in itself is devotion to God. Bahá'u'lláh has thereby encouraged action and stimulated service. But the energies of the heart must not be attached to these things; the soul must not be completely occupied with them. Though the mind is busy, the heart must be attracted toward the Kingdom of God in order that the virtues of humanity may be attained from every direction and source.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 187


WISDOM

The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the sage endowed with penetrating wisdom are the two eyes to the body of mankind. God willing, the earth shall never be deprived of these two greatest gifts.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 171

It is the longing desire of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to see each one of you accounted as the foremost professor in the academies, and in the school of inner significances, each one becoming a leader in wisdom.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 141

Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace — such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79


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To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavor of each one of its loyal adherents.

—Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 100

The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth. Every child must be trained in the things of the spirit, so that he may embody all the virtues and become a source of glory to the Cause of God. Otherwise, the mere word "Bahá'í", if it yield no fruit, will come to nothing.

Strive then to the best of thine ability to let these children know that a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper—not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name "Bahá'í".

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

A Bahai child must be trained according to the moral precepts of Baha'o'llah, he must be taught daily of the love of God: the history of the Movement must be read to him, the love of humanity must be inculcated into every fibre of his being and the universal principles be explained to him in as easy a manner as possible to be devised.

—Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Necessity of Education—Training of the Children: Words of Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha," in Star of the West, vol. 7, no. 15 (Dec. 12, 1916), p. 143

O army of God! Through the protection and help vouchsafed by the Blessed Beauty—may my life be a sacrifice to His loved ones—ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: `This man is unquestionably a Bahá'í, for his manners, his behaviour, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Bahá'ís.' Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 70-71


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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 and who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Bahá'ís is not enough, our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Bahá'í life.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Living the Life, p. 21

Gather ye together with the utmost joy and fellowship and recite the verses revealed by the merciful Lord. By so doing the doors to true knowledge will be opened to your inner beings, and ye will then feel your souls endowed with steadfastness and your hearts filled with radiant joy.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 2, no. 6

O maid-servant of God! Chant the Words of God and, pondering over their meaning, transform them into actions!

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 85

The House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be.

—On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in Stirring of the Spirit, p. 29, no. 63

Human education signifies civilization and progress— that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8

The understanding of His words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 211


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Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. . . . Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 259-260

Blessed is that teacher who shall arise to instruct the children, and to guide the people into the pathways of God, the Bestower, the Well-Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 28 [Digital ed. note - no. 25]

O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate themselves to the guidance of others and are freed and well guarded from the promptings of a base and covetous nature are, in the sight of Him Who is the Desire of the world, stars of the heaven of true knowledge. It is essential to treat them with deference. They are indeed fountains of soft-flowing water, stars that shine resplendent, fruits of the blessed Tree, exponents of celestial power, and oceans of heavenly wisdom. Happy is he that followeth them. Verily such a soul is numbered in the Book of God, the Lord of the mighty Throne, among those with whom it shall be well.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 96-97

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 34-35

Great is the station of man. Great must also be his endeavours for the rehabilitation of the world and the well-being of nations. I beseech the One true God to graciously confirm thee in that which beseemeth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 174

I desire distinction for you. The Bahá'ís 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 I 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
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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.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 190

Instil . . . in every Bahá'í child, the sense of his unique opportunities and future responsibilities in the great task that awaits him in future. . . impress upon their hearts the vital necessity of establishing, now, whilst in their tender age, a firm foundation for their mission in life.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 49, no. 120 [Digital ed. note - no. 102]

Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 216

The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 342-43

SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION

In man five outer powers exist, which are the agents of perception—that is to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odors; taste, which perceives foods; and feeling, which is in all parts of the body and perceives tangible things. These five powers perceive outward existences.

Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities; memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks and comprehends. The intermediary between the five outward powers and the inward powers is the sense which they possess in common—that is to say, the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers and thus is common to the outward and inward powers.


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For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power—the common faculty—which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power of thought; the power of thought reflects and, having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository.

The outward powers are five: the power of sight, of hearing, of taste, of smell and of feeling.

The inner powers are also five: the common faculty, and the powers of imagination, thought, comprehension and memory.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 210-11

Let them [the children] make the greatest progress in the shortest span of time, let them open wide their eyes and uncover the inner realities of all things, become proficient in every art and skill, and learn to comprehend the secrets of all things even as they are — this faculty being one of the clearly evident effects of servitude to the Holy Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 28-29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

We cherish the hope that through the loving-kindness of the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, obscuring dust may be dispelled and the power of perception enhanced, that the people may discover the purpose for which they have been called into being. In this Day whatsoever serveth to reduce blindness and to increase vision is worthy of consideration.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 35

At the outset of every endeavour, it is incumbent to look to the end of it.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 168

They must be constantly encouraged and made eager to gain all the summits of human accomplishment, so that from their earliest years they will be taught to have high aims, to conduct themselves well, to be chaste, pure, and undefiled, and will learn to be of powerful resolve and firm of purpose in all things. Let them not jest and trifle, but earnestly advance unto their goals, so that in every situation they will be found resolute and firm.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 33, no. 81 [Digital ed. note - no. 78]

Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a
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reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: "Fear ye God; God will teach you;" the other is but a confirmation of the truth: "Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator." The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit. From the sayings of those Masters of holy utterance, Who have expounded the meaning of true knowledge, the odour of these dark teachings, which have obscured the world, can in no wise be detected. The tree of such teachings can yield no result except iniquity and rebellion, and beareth no fruit but hatred and envy. Its fruit is deadly poison; its shadow a consuming fire. How well hath it been said: "Cling unto the robe of the Desire of thy heart, and put thou away all shame; bid the worldlywise be gone, however great their name."

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 69-70

Let them [the mothers] strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 125

Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 127

From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

The fear of God hath ever been the prime factor in the education of His creatures. Well is it with them that have attained thereunto!

. . . The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27

Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

. . . Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm
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of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 335-36

Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. . . . Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 336

Develop spiritual characteristics and the praiseworthy virtues of humankind. This is the primary consideration. If a person be unlettered, and yet clothed with divine excellence, and alive in the breaths of the Spirit, that individual will contribute to the welfare of society, and his inability to read and write will do him no harm. And if a person be versed in the arts and every branch of knowledge, and not live a religious life, and not take on the characteristics of God, and not be directed by a pure intent, and be engrossed in the life of the flesh—then he is harm personified, and nothing will come of all his learning and intellectual accomplishments but scandal and torment.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

They must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

The attainment of the most great guidance is dependent upon knowledge and wisdom, and on being informed as to the mysteries of the Holy Words.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 8, no. 30 [Digital ed. note - no. 27]

The friends must direct their attention toward the education and training of all the children . . . so that all of them, having, in the school of true learning, achieved the power of understanding and come to know the inner realities of the universe, will go on to uncover the signs and mysteries of God, and will find themselves illumined by the lights of the knowledge of the Lord, and by His love. This truly is the very best way to educate all peoples.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 28, no. 73 [Digital ed. note - no. 70]


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

—Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 30

As to chastity, this is one of the most challenging concepts to get across in this very permissive age, but Bahá'ís must make the utmost effort to uphold Bahá'í standards, no matter how difficult they may seem at first. Such efforts will be made easier if the youth will understand that the laws and standards of the Faith are meant to free them from untold spiritual and moral difficulties in the same way that a proper appreciation of the laws of nature enables one to live in harmony with the forces of the planet.

—On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in A Chaste and Holy Life, p. 2, no. 4

Wings that are besmirched with mire can never soar.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 131

Although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 147

Set firm their feet on Thy straight path, and out of Thine ancient bounty open before them the portals of Thy blessings; for they are expending on Thy pathway what Thou hast bestowed upon them, safeguarding Thy Faith, putting their trust in their remembrance of Thee, offering up their hearts for love of Thee, and withholding not what they possess in adoration for Thy Beauty and in their search for ways to please Thee.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 84-85

Any Bahá'í can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. No statement is required on this subject; Bahá'í children have always given to the Cause, everywhere.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 60, no. 155 [Digital ed. note - no. 137]


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Say: O people, the first duty is to recognize the one true God — magnified be his Glory — the second is to show forth constancy in His Cause and, after these, one's duty is to purify one's riches and earthly possessions according to that which is prescribed by God.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Huqúqu'lláh, p. 11, no. 31

As to the Huqúqu'lláh: This is the source of blessings, and the mainspring of God's loving-kindness and tender love vouchsafed unto men.3

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Huqúqu'lláh, p. 10, no. 29

Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 157

Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 44

We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.


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No movement in the world directs its attention upon both these aspects of human life and has full measures for their improvement, save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Conservation of the Earth's Resources, p. 15

Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Pattern of Bahá'í Life, p. 24

Thine eye is My trust, suffer not the dust of vain desires to becloud its luster. Thine ear is a sign of My bounty, let not the tumult of unseemly motives turn it away from My Word that encompasseth all creation. Thine heart is My treasury, allow not the treacherous hand of self to rob thee of the pearls which I have treasured therein. Thine hand is a symbol of My loving-kindness, hinder it not from holding fast unto My guarded and hidden Tablets. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 322

ELOQUENT SPEECH

No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. . . . Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 172

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 166

Guidance hath ever been given by words, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 76

Say: Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions
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of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 305

O ye two well-loved handmaids of God! Whatever a man's tongue speaketh, that let him prove by his deeds. If he claimeth to be a believer, then let him act in accordance with the precepts of the Abha Kingdom.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can insure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 37, no. 117

Teach unto your children the words that have been sent down from God, that they may recite them in the sweetest of tones. This standeth revealed in a mighty Book.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 23 [Digital ed. note - no. 21 with a different translation]

Teach your children the verses revealed from the heaven of majesty and power, so that, in most melodious tones, they may recite the Tablets of the All-Merciful in the alcoves within the Mashriqu'l-Adhkárs. Whoever hath been transported by the rapture born of adoration for My Name, the Most Compassionate, will recite the verses of God in such wise as to captivate the hearts of those yet wrapped in slumber.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶150

The Sunday school for the children in which the Tablets and Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are read, and the Word of God is recited for the children is indeed a blessed thing. Thou must certainly continue this organized activity without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be
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educated by these verses of guidance.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will . . . become able and devoted speakers on the Cause and subjects akin to it.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 51, no. 127 [Digital ed. note - no. 107]

A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 289

Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 172-73


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Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 18

His [Shoghi Effendi's] brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory where you can translate into living and constructive action, the principles which you imbibe from the teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can insure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith forever burning in your hearts!

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, pp. 36-37, no. 117

As to thy question concerning training children: It is incumbent upon thee to nurture them from the breast of the love of God, to urge them towards spiritual matters, to turn unto God and to acquire good manners, best characteristics and praiseworthy virtues and qualities in the world of humanity, and to study sciences with the utmost diligence; so that they may become spiritual, heavenly and attracted to the fragrances of sanctity from their childhood and be reared in a religious, spiritual and heavenly training.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 87

We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy is, in truth, a raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old. Well is it with him that adorneth his temple therewith, and woe unto him who is deprived of this great bounty.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 50

O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 88


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The Guardian has urged, over and over again, the paramount necessity for Bahá'í Youth to exemplify the Teachings, most particularly the moral aspect of them. If they are not distinguished for their high conduct they cannot expect other young people to take the Cause very seriously.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in A Chaste and Holy Life, p. 16, no. 45

Service to the world of humanity should be obligatory. Every student should know, with perfect certainty, that he is the brother of the people of all religions and nations and that he should be without religious, racial, national, patriotic or political bias, so that he may find the thoughts of universal peace and the love of humankind firmly established in his heart. He should know himself as a servant of human society of all the countries in the world. He should see God as the Heavenly Father and all the servants, as his children, counting all of the nations, parties and sects as one family. The mothers in the homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the universities, and the leaders in the lofty gatherings, must cause these thoughts to be penetrative and effective, as the spirit, circulating in the veins and nerves of the children and pupils, so that the world of humanity may be delivered from the calamities of fanaticism, war, battle, hate and obstinacy, and so that the nether world may become the paradise of heaven.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Star of the West vol. 17, no. 5 (Aug. 1926), p. 161

Among these children many blessed souls will arise if they be trained according to the Bahai teaching.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahá'í Methods of Education" in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 8 (Aug. 1, 1918), p. 90

Certain persons shall in this divine dispensation produce heavenly children and such children shall promulgate the teachings of the Beauty of Abha and serve His great Cause. Through a heavenly power and spiritual confirmation they shall be enabled to promote the Word of God and to diffuse the fragrances of God. These children are neither Oriental nor Occidental, neither Asiatic nor American, neither European nor African, but they are of the Kingdom; their native home is heaven and their resort is the Kingdom of Abha. This is but the truth and there is naught after truth save superstitions (or fancy).

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, pp. 647-648

It is the hope of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that those youthful souls in the schoolroom of the deeper knowledge will be tended by one who traineth them to love. May they all, throughout the reaches of the spirit, learn well of the hidden mysteries; so well that in the Kingdom of the All-Glorious, each one
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of them, even as a nightingale endowed with speech, will cry out the secrets of the Heavenly Realm, and like unto a longing lover pour forth his sore need and utter want of the Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

The Bahá'í youth must be taught how to teach the Cause of God.

—Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21, no. 73

D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

A child is as a young plant: it will grow in whatever way you train it. If you rear it to be truthful, and kind, and righteous, it will grow straight, it will be fresh and tender, and will flourish. But if not, then from faulty training it will grow bent, and stand awry, and there will be no hope of changing it.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 37, no. 92 [Digital ed. note - no. 85]

O SON OF BOUNTY!

Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 29

As suggested by the passage above from the Hidden Words, Bahá'í educators may consider the entire realm of creation as a laboratory and resource for pursuing the education and training of children at all stages of life. The Bahá'í writings suggest approaches to training the character and imparting spiritual knowledge so that it will become internalized by the child and put into action. The processes of Bahá'í education that are described in the writings are organized for the Core Curriculum under the following headings:

Stages of Maturity
Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest
Instructional Methods and Learning Tools
Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline

STAGES OF MATURITY

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their
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development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

All created things have their degree, or stage, of maturity. The period of maturity in the life of a tree is the time of its fruit bearing. The maturity of a plant is the time of its blossoming and flower. The animal attains a stage of full growth and completeness, and in the human kingdom man reaches his maturity when the lights of intelligence have their greatest power and development.

From the beginning to the end of his life man passes through certain periods, or stages, each of which is marked by certain conditions peculiar to itself. For instance, during the period of childhood his conditions and requirements are characteristic of that degree of intelligence and capacity. After a time he enters the period of youth, in which his former conditions and needs are superseded by new requirements applicable to the advance in his degree. His faculties of observation are broadened and deepened; his intelligent capacities are trained and awakened; the limitations and environment of childhood no longer restrict his energies and accomplishments. At last he passes out of the period of youth and enters the stage, or station, of maturity, which necessitates another transformation and corresponding advance in his sphere of life activity. New powers and perceptions clothe him, teaching and training commensurate with his progression occupy his mind, special bounties and bestowals descend in proportion to his increased capacities, and his former period of youth and its conditions will no longer satisfy his matured view and vision.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 438

Among the safeguards of the Holy Faith is the training of children, and this is among the weightiest of principles in all the Divine Teachings. Thus from the very beginning mothers must rear their infants in the cradle of good morals—for it is the mothers who are the first educators—so that, when the child cometh to maturity, he will prove to be endowed with all the virtues and qualities that are worthy of praise.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 16, no. 42 [Digital ed. note - no. 39]

Exert every effort to educate the children, so that from infancy they will be trained in Bahá'í conduct and the ways of God. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126

Thou didst write as to the children: from the very beginning, the children must receive divine education and must continually be reminded
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to remember their God. Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 129

The infant, while yet a suckling, must receive Bahá'í training, and the loving spirit of Christ and Bahá'u'lláh must be breathed into him, that he may be reared in accord with the verities of the Gospel and the Most Holy Book.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 19, no. 49 [Digital ed. note - no. 46]

And when the child hath reached the age where he can make distinctions, let him be placed in a Bahá'í school, in which at the beginning the Holy Texts are recited and religious concepts are taught.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

As to the children: From the age of five their formal education must begin. That is, during the daytime they should be looked after in a place where there are teachers, and should learn good conduct.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

A small child cannot comprehend the laws that govern nature, but this is on account of the immature intellect of that child; when he is grown older and has been educated he too will understand the everlasting truths.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 145

Children are even as a branch that is fresh and green; they will grow up in whatever way ye train them.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 136

It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.

Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause
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of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

You who are at present in your teens, or twenties, must realize that tomorrow, to a large extent, the burden of the Cause will rest on your shoulders; you will have to be the administrators and teachers and scholars of the Faith. Now is the time to prepare yourselves for your future duties.

He [Shoghi Effendi] hopes you will study the teachings deeply, their spiritual, moral, and administrative precepts, and at the same time take as active a part as possible in the life of your respective Bahá'í communities.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 183

The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 17 April 1936 to Mr. Bernard Gottlieb, in Bahá'í News, no. 104 (Dec. 1936), p. 1

For any person, whether Bahá'í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry, and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behavior are adopted. These factors present Bahá'í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests—Opportunities to truly apprehend the teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá'í writings. Indeed, the Guardian wrote of the Bahá'í youth that it is they "who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it."

—The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 92-93

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement,
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wealth or poverty. Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom, and especially in the eyes of servants who dedicate themselves to the education of the world and to the edification of its peoples.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 34-35

God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 250

ATTENDING TO INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, CAPABILITY, AND INTEREST

Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9 [Digital ed. note - no. 9]

The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260

The attainment of the most great guidance is dependent upon knowledge and wisdom, and on being informed as to the mysteries of the Holy Words. Wherefore must the loved ones of God, be they young or old, be they men or women, each one according to his capabilities, strive to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to increase his understanding of the mysteries of the Holy Books, and his skill in marshalling the divine proofs and evidences.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 8, no. 30 [Digital ed. note - no. 27]


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O thou whose years are few, yet whose mental gifts are many! How many a child, though young in years, is yet mature and sound in judgement! How many an aged person is ignorant and confused! For growth and development depend on one's powers of intellect and reason, not on one's age or length of days.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

Every child without exception must from his earliest years make a thorough study of the art of reading and writing, and according to his own tastes and inclinations and the degree of his capacity and powers, devote extreme diligence to the acquisition of learning. . . .

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 49-50, no. 121 [Digital ed. note - no. 105]

To be specific, at the start the teacher must place a pen in the child's hand, arrange the children in groups, and instruct each group according to its capacity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS AND LEARNING TOOLS

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS

Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 172-73

O thou spiritual teacher. . . . Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 25, no. 64 [Digital ed. note - no. 61]


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The mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness. Thus from the very beginning of life every child will be refreshed by the gentle wafting of the love of God and will tremble with joy at the sweet scent of heavenly guidance. In this lieth the beginning of the process; it is the essential basis of all the rest.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

Praised be God, ye two have demonstrated the truth of your words by your deeds, and have won the confirmations of the Lord God. Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá'í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts: that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite.

These children are even as young plants, and teaching them the prayers is as letting the rain pour down upon them, that they may wax tender and fresh, and the soft breezes of the love of God may blow over them, making them to tremble with joy.

Blessedness awaiteth you, and a fair haven.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be educated by these verses of guidance.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

Choose excerpts from the Sacred Words to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 58, no. 147 [Digital ed. note - no. 129]


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You Bahá'í children and young people have both great privileges and great obligations ahead of you, for your generation will be the ones to help build up a new, better and more beautiful world. . . . You should prepare yourselves for this great task by trying to grasp the true meaning of the teachings and not just merely accepting them as something you are taught. They are like a wonderful new world of thought just beginning to be explored, and when we realize that Bahá'u'lláh has brought teachings and laws for a thousand years to come, we can readily see that each new generation may find some greater meaning in the writings than the ones gone before did.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 59, no. 148 [Digital ed. note - no. 130]

We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 129

Question: Should children be allowed to read the higher criticism?

'Abdu'l-Bahá: They should first be taught the reality of religion as a foundation. . . . Turn your faces to the Sun of Reality. That Sun has always risen in the East. Find the answer to your questions in your heart. Be as little children. Until the soil is prepared, it cannot receive the benefit of planting.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 213

Let them make the greatest progress in the shortest span of time, let them open wide their eyes and uncover the inner realities of all things, become proficient in every art and skill, and learn to comprehend the secrets of all things even as they are — this faculty being one of the clearly evident effects of servitude to the Holy Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 28-29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

One of the most important of undertakings is the education of children, for success and prosperity depend upon service to and worship of God, the Holy, the All-Glorified.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 71 [Digital ed. note - no. 68]

The honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men?

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3


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Praise be to God! The medieval ages of darkness have passed away and this century of radiance has dawned, this century wherein the reality of things is becoming evident, wherein science is penetrating the mysteries of the universe, the oneness of the world of humanity is being established, and service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 369

O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 86

Let all your striving be for this, to become the source of life and immortality, and peace and comfort and joy, to every human soul, whether one known to you or a stranger, one opposed to you or on your side. . . .

It behoveth the loved ones of the Lord to be the signs and tokens of His universal mercy and the embodiments of His own excelling grace. Like the sun, let them cast their rays upon garden and rubbish heap alike, and even as clouds in spring, let them shed down their rain upon flower and thorn. Let them seek but love and faithfulness, let them not follow the ways of unkindness, let their talk be confined to the secrets of friendship and of peace. Such are the attributes of the righteous, such is the distinguishing mark of those who serve His Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 256-57

The principles of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh should be carefully studied, one by one, until they are realized and understood by mind and heart—so will you become strong followers of the light. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 22

Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the Bahá'í Faith and in a manner that will stimulate the students to proceed in their studies privately once they return home, for the period of a few days is not sufficient to learn everything. They have to be taught the habit of studying the Cause constantly, for the more we read the Words the more will the truth they contain be revealed to us.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 8, no. 20

LEARNING TOOLS

Let them seek but love and faithfulness, let them not follow the ways of unkindness, let their talk be confined to the secrets of friendship and of
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peace. Such are the attributes of the righteous, such is the distinguishing mark of those who serve His Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 257

Its duty [the Magazine of the Children of the Kingdom] is to initiate, promote and mirror forth the various activities of the rising generation throughout the Bahá'í world, to establish and strengthen a bond of true fellowship amongst all the children of `Abdu'l-Bahá whether in the East or in the West, and to unfold to their eyes the vision of a golden future before them.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 49, no. 120 [Digital ed. note - no. 102]

Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 1

Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 3

In all things it is necessary to consult. . . . inasmuch as it is and will always be a cause of awareness and of awakening and a source of good and well-being.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 5

Man must consult on all matters, whether major or minor, so that he may become cognizant of what is good. Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown. The light of truth shineth from the faces of those who engage in consultation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 8, no. 15

The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 182

In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated. Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship. Consult upon
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every matter, and when one presents the point of view of reality itself, that shall be acceptable to all. Then will spiritual unity increase among you, individual illumination will be greater, happiness will be more abundant, and you will draw nearer and nearer to the Kingdom of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 183

One child must question the other concerning these things, and the other child must give the answer. In this way, they will make great progress. . . . Oral questions must be asked and the answers must be given orally. They must discuss with each other in this manner.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the bounties of God. Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68

Know ye that God has created in man the power of reason, whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth, and that which he finds real and true he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion
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and bound only by that reality. The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 291

The alphabet of things is for children, that they may in time use their reasoning powers.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, "'The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause,'" in Star of the West, vol. 6 (June 24, 1915), p. 43

Teach unto your children the words that have been sent down from God, that they may recite them in the sweetest of tones. This standeth revealed in a mighty Book.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 24 [Digital ed. note - no. 21 with a different translation]

It is also highly praiseworthy to memorize the Tablets, divine verses and sacred traditions.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 77 [Digital ed. note - no. 21]

The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. During His days it was a usual work of the children of the household to learn Tablets by heart. . . . the practice is most useful to implant the ideas and spirit those words contain into the mind of the children.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 466

There is no objection to children who are as yet unable to memorise a whole prayer learning certain sentences only.

—Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 466

Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

Reflect: Who in this world is able to manifest such transcendent power, such pervading influence? All these stainless hearts and sanctified souls have, with absolute resignation, responded to the summons of His decree. Instead of complaining, they rendered thanks unto God, and amidst the darkness of their anguish they revealed naught but radiant acquiescence to His will. It is evident how relentless was the hate, and how bitter the
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malice and enmity entertained by all the peoples of the earth towards these companions. The persecution and pain they inflicted on these holy and spiritual beings were regarded by them as means unto salvation, prosperity, and everlasting success. Hath the world, since the days of Adam, witnessed such tumult, such violent commotion? Notwithstanding all the torture they suffered, and manifold the afflictions they endured, they became the object of universal opprobrium and execration. Methinks patience was revealed only by virtue of their fortitude, and faithfulness itself was begotten only by their deeds.

Do thou ponder these momentous happenings in thy heart, so that thou mayest apprehend the greatness of this Revelation, and perceive its stupendous glory. Then shall the spirit of faith, through the grace of the Merciful, be breathed into thy being, and thou shalt be established and abide upon the seat of certitude.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 235-36

Shouldst thou ponder these words ["He hath known God who hath known himself."] in thine heart, thou wilt of a certainty find the doors of divine wisdom and infinite knowledge flung open before thy face.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 102

The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 72

It 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. . . .

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 174, 175

"Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's Word with a spiritual mind."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 80

In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as `Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of
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parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 62, no. 161 [Digital ed. note - no. 143]

With The Dawn-Breakers in your possession you could also arrange interesting stories about the early days of the Movement which the children would like to hear. There are also stories about the life of Christ, Muhammad and the other prophets which if told to the children will break down any religious prejudice they may have learned from older people of little understanding.

Such stories regarding the life of different prophets together with their sayings will also be useful to better understand the literature of the Cause for there is constant reference to them. It is however the work of experienced people to bring together such materials and make of them interesting text books for the children.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 130 [Digital ed. note - no. 111]

I would strongly urge you to utilize, to the utmost possible extent, the wealth of authentic material gathered in Nabíl's stirring Narrative and to encourage the youth to mater and to digest the facts recorded therein as a basis for their future work in the teaching field, and as a sustenance to their spiritual life and activities in the service of the Cause.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 22, no. 78

The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52

Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody. . . . By virtue of this, consider how
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much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 4

Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God, are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 8

"The drama is of the utmost importance. It has been a great educational power in the past; it will be so again."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 93

Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame. . . . Through the mere revelation of the word "Fashioner," issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attribute to mankind, such power is released as can generate, through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce. This, verily, is a certain truth. No sooner is this resplendent word uttered, than its animating energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected. All the wondrous achievements ye now witness are the direct consequences of the Revelation of this Name. In the days to come, ye will, verily, behold things of which ye have never heard before.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 141-42

Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children, and promotion of the various sciences, crafts and arts. Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 18

It is the commandment of the Blessed Beauty, may my life be a sacrifice at His Threshold, that whosoever engageth in a craft, should endeavour to acquire in it utmost proficiency. Should he do so, that craft
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becometh a form of worship.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 15

"That day will the Cause spread like wildfire when its spirit and teachings are presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing, especially among the mass of the people."

—Shoghi Effendi, quoted in "In Its Full Splendor," in Bahá'í News, no. 73 (May 1933), p. 7

O SON OF BOUNTY!

Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 80

Whatever I behold I readily discover that it maketh Thee known unto me, and it remindeth me of Thy signs, and of Thy tokens, and of Thy testimonies. By Thy glory! Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p. 272

"Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words."

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26

They should be taught, in play, some letters and words and a little reading—as it is done in certain countries where they fashion letters and words out of sweets and give them to the child.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

If a man should live his entire life in one city, he cannot gain a knowledge of the whole world. To become perfectly informed he must visit other cities, see the mountains and valleys, cross the rivers and traverse the plains.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 295


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A wise schoolmaster should send his scholars out to play . . . so that their minds and bodies may be refreshed, and during the hour of the lesson they may learn it better.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 8 (Aug. 1, 1918), p. 91

ORGANIZATION, EVALUATION, AND METHODS OF DISCIPLINE

Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children. . . . Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 71 [Digital ed. note - no. 68]

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

You must certainly continue this organized activity without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results. Firmness and steadfastness, however, are necessary, otherwise it will continue for some time, but later be gradually forgotten. Perseverance is an essential condition. In every project firmness and steadfastness will undoubtedly lead to good results; otherwise it will exist for some days, and then be discontinued.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 42, no. 104 [Digital ed. note - no. 95]

It followeth that the children's school must be a place of utmost discipline and order, that instruction must be thorough. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

The Cause of God is like unto a college. The believers are like unto the students. . . . The students must show the results of their study in their deportment and deeds; otherwise they have wasted their lives.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 18, no. 66

"Equity," He [Bahá'u'lláh] also has written, "is the most fundamental among human virtues. The evaluation of all things must needs depend upon it." And again, "Observe equity in your judgment, ye men of understanding heart!
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He that is unjust in his judgment is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man's station."

—Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 25

Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 125

Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, "You are most capable, and if you endeavor, you will attain the highest degree."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76-77

The child must not be warped and hindered in its development. The ignorant must not be restricted by censure and criticism. We must look for the real, true remedy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 40

They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 180-181

Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10 [Digital ed. note - no. 10]


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Know that this matter of instruction, of character rectification and refinement, of heartening and encouraging the child, is of the utmost importance, for such are basic principles of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

Shoghi Effendi was deeply saddened to learn . . . of the rather serious situation which your daughter's conduct and her general attitude towards the Cause have created . . .

. . . yet he feels that nothing short of your motherly care and love and of the counsels which you and the friends can give her, can effectively remedy this situation. Above all, you should be patient, and confident that your efforts to that end are being sustained and guided through the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh. He is surely hearing your prayers, and will no doubt accept them, and thus hasten the gradual and complete materialization of your hopes and expectations for your daughter and for the Cause.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 54, no. 134 [Digital ed. note - no. 116]

Thus shall they [the children] learn perseverance in all things, the will to advance, high mindedness and high resolve, chastity and purity of life. Thus shall they be enabled to carry to a successful conclusion whatsoever they undertake.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 125

Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53-54

The son . . . must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Family Life, p. 10


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There are . . . certain sacred duties on children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God. The (children’s) prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. II, pp. 262 -63

Comfort thy mother and endeavor to do what is conducive to the happiness of her heart.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 74

E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 90

The learned of the day must direct the people to acquire those branches of knowledge which are of use, that both the learned themselves and the generality of mankind may derive benefits therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 169

Establish schools that are well organized, and promote the fundamentals of instruction in the various branches of knowledge through teachers who are pure and sanctified, distinguished for their high standards of conduct and general excellence, and strong in faith; scholars and educators with a thorough knowledge of sciences and arts.

It is incumbent upon the exalted body of the Hands of the Cause of God to watch over and protect these schools in every way, and see to their requirements, so that all the means of progress will continually be at hand, and the lights of learning will illumine the whole world.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10 [Digital ed. note - no. 10]

To promote knowledge is . . . an inescapable duty imposed on every one of the friends of God. It is incumbent upon that Spiritual Assembly, that assemblage of God, to exert every effort to educate the children, so that from infancy they will be trained in Bahá'í conduct and the ways of God, and will, even as young plants, thrive and flourish in the soft-flowing waters that are the counsels and admonitions of the Blessed Beauty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126


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With regard to your activities in connection with the training and education of Bahá'í children: needless to tell you what a vital importance the Guardian attaches to such activities, on which so much of the strength, welfare and growth of the Community must necessarily depend. What a more sacred privilege, and also what a weightier responsibility than the task of rearing up the new generation of believers, and of inculcating into their youthful and receptive minds the principles and teachings of the Cause, and of thus preparing them to fully assume, and properly discharge the weighty responsibilities and obligations of their future life in the Bahá'í Community.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 55, no. 138 [Digital ed. note - no. 120]

A basic and vital requirement of these days is the matter of educating the boys and girls. One of the duties devolving upon the members of Spiritual Assemblies is that, with the support of the friends, they should exert all their powers to establish schools for the instruction of boys and girls in the things of the spirit, the fundamentals of teaching the Faith, reading the Sacred Writings, learning the history of the Faith, the secular branches of knowledge, the various arts and skills, and the different languages—so that Bahá'í methods of instruction will become so widely known that children from every level of society will seek to acquire divine teachings as well as secular knowledge in Bahá'í schools, and thereby means for the promotion of the Cause of God will be provided.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 48-49, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 119]

They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development.

—Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38

Every child without exception must from his earliest years make a thorough study of the art of reading and writing, and according to his own tastes and inclinations and the degree of his capacity and powers, devote extreme diligence to the acquisition of learning beneficial arts and skills, various languages, speech, and contemporary technology.

To assist the children of the poor in the attainment of these accomplishments, and particularly in learning the basic subjects, is incumbent upon the members of the Spiritual Assemblies, and is accounted as one of
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the obligations laid upon the conscience of the trustees of God in every land.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 49-50, no. 121 [Digital ed. note - no. 105]

Blessed is that teacher who remaineth faithful to the Covenant of God, and occupieth himself with the education of children. For him hath the Supreme Pen inscribed that reward which is revealed in the Most Holy Book. Blessed, blessed is he!

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 28 [Digital ed. note - no. 26]

Blessed is that teacher who shall arise to instruct the children, and to guide the people into the pathways of God, the Bestower, the Well-Beloved.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 27 [Digital ed. note - no. 25]

Bend your minds and wills to the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most Great Name, be blotted out from its face, and all mankind become the upholders of one Order, and the inhabitants of one City.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 333-34

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 53-54

Blessed art thou, since thou art engaged in rendering a service which will make thy face to shine in the Abhá Kingdom, and that is the education and training of children. If one should, in the right way, teach and train the children, he will be performing a service than which none is greater at the sacred Threshold. . . . You must, however, struggle unceasingly to perfect yourself and win ever higher achievements.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 60 [Digital ed. note - no. 57]

Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children. . . .


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It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 133

O thou spiritual teacher! In thy school, instruct thou God's children in the customs of the Kingdom. Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness. Tend the young trees of the Abhá Paradise with the welling waters of His grace and peace and joy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 64 [Digital ed. note - no. 61]

Education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 132

The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

Therefore must the mentor be a doctor as well: that is, he must, in instructing the child, remedy its faults; must give him learning, and at the same time rear him to have a spiritual nature. Let the teacher be a doctor to the character of the child, thus will he heal the spiritual ailments of the children of men.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 130

Make ye inquiries as to a woman teacher. She must be extremely modest, even-tempered, forbearing, and well bred, and she must be expert in the English language.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 63 [Digital ed. note - no. 60]

Through the power of faith, obey ye the teachings of God, and let all your actions conform to His laws. Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. Read, with close attention,
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the Tablets of Tarazat (Ornaments), Kalimat (Words of Paradise), Tajalliyyat (Effulgences), Ishraqat (Splendours), and Bisharat (Glad Tidings), and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 35

How wonderful it will be when the teachers are faithful, attracted and assured, educated and refined Bahá'ís, well-grounded in the science of pedagogy and familiar with child psychology; thus they may train the children with the fragrances of God. In the scheme of human life the teacher and his system of teaching plays the most important role, carrying with it the heaviest responsibilities and most subtle influence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Star of the West, vol. 17, No. 2, (May 1926) p. 55

It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in faith, the reason being that a child who removeth himself from the religion of God will not act in such a way as to win the good pleasure of his parents and his Lord. For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the child will not turn away from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 12 [Digital ed. note - no. 12]

The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 4, no. 14 [Digital ed. note - no. 14]

It is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

Children must be most carefully watched over, protected and trained; in such consisteth true parenthood and parental mercy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 17, no. 42 [Digital ed. note - no. 39]

Have for them an abundant love and exert thine utmost in training them, so that their being may grow through the milk of the love of God, forasmuch as it is the duty of parents to perfectly and thoroughly train their children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. II, p. 262


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The husband and wife are brought into affinity, are united and harmonized, even as though they were one person. Through their mutual union, companionship and love great results are produced in the world, both material and spiritual. The spiritual result is the appearance of divine bounties. The material result is the children who are born in the cradle of the love of God, who are nurtured by the breast of knowledge of God, who are brought up in the bosom of the gift of God, and who are fostered in the lap of the training of God. Such children are those of whom it was said by Christ, "Verily, they are the children of the Kingdom!"

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, p. 605-06

Teach ye your children so that they may peruse the divine verses every morn and eve. God hath prescribed unto every father to educate his children, both boys and girls, in the sciences and in morals, and in crafts and professions. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 5

Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction if he be wealthy and, if not, the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶48

The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instil into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 41, no. 100

O handmaids of the Merciful! Render ye thanks unto the Ancient Beauty that ye have been raised up and gathered together in this mightiest of centuries, this most illumined of ages. As befitting thanks for such a bounty, stand ye staunch and strong in the Covenant and, following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your children from their infancy with the milk of a universal education, and rear them so that from their
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earliest days, within their inmost heart, their very nature, a way of life will be firmly established that will conform to the divine Teachings in all things.

For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 125-26

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore is it incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 125

Ere thou didst issue from thy mother's womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 29

O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God's sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

"O maid-servants of the Merciful! It is incumbent upon you to train the children from their earliest babyhood! It is incumbent upon you to beautify their morals! It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God—glorified and exalted is He!—hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!"

If thou walkest in this right path, thou wouldst become a real mother to the children, both spiritually and materially.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, p. 606

Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young girls and the children, so that the mothers may educate their little ones from their earliest days, thoroughly train them, rear them to have a goodly character and good morals, guide them to all the virtues of humankind, prevent the development of any behaviour that would be worthy of blame,
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and foster them in the embrace of Bahá'í education. Thus shall these tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His love.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 39, no. 97 [Digital ed. note - no. 89]

If, as she ought, the mother possesseth the learning and accomplishments of humankind, her children, like unto angels, will be fostered in all excellence, in right conduct and beauty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 34, no. 85 [Digital ed. note - no. 80]

O thou servant of God! Thou didst ask as to the education of children. Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace — such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

The task of bringing up a Bahá'í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Family Life, pp. 19-20

That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling, for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother. This provision of nature in no way minimizes the role of the father in the Bahá'í family. Again, equality of status does not mean identity of function.

—The Universal House of Justice, in Women, p. 31, no. 68

Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without. It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree. Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9 [Digital ed. note - no. 9]

It is the hope of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that those youthful souls in the schoolroom of the deeper knowledge will be tended by one who traineth them to love. May they all, throughout the reaches of the spirit, learn well of the hidden mysteries; so well that in the Kingdom of the All-Glorious, each one
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of them, even as a nightingale endowed with speech, will cry out the secrets of the Heavenly Realm, and like unto a longing lover pour forth his sore need and utter want of the Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 1

Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 2

Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them [your parents], choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 1

My highest wish and desire is that ye who are my children may be educated according to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and may receive a Bahá'í training; that ye may each become a lighted candle in the world of humanity, may be devoted to the service of all mankind, may give up your rest and comfort, so that ye may become the cause of the tranquillity of the world of creation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 141

You are all my children, my spiritual children. Spiritual children are dearer than physical children, for it is possible for physical children to turn away from the Spirit of God, but you are spiritual children and, therefore, you are most beloved. I wish for you progress in every degree of development. May God assist you. May you be surrounded by the beneficent light of His countenance, and may you attain maturity under His nurture and protection. You are all blessed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92

I strongly urge you to devote, while you are pursuing your studies, as much time as you possibly can to a thorough study of the history and teachings of our Beloved Cause. This is the prerequisite of a future successful career of service to the Bahá'í Faith in which I hope and pray you will distinguish yourself in the days to come.

—Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21, no. 74


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Wherefore, O ye illumined youth, strive by night and by day to unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit, and to grasp the secrets of the Day of God. Inform yourselves of the evidences that the Most Great Name hath dawned. Open your lips in praise. Adduce convincing arguments and proofs. Lead those who thirst to the fountain of life; grant ye true health to the ailing. Be ye apprentices of God; be ye physicians directed by God, and heal ye the sick among humankind. Bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends. Make the despairing to be filled with hope. Waken them that slumber; make the heedless mindful.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 42-43, no. 106 [Digital ed. note - no. 97]

The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the older Bahá'ís and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them—as promised by Bahá'u'lláh—will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last; and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Bahá'í standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Bahá'í.

—Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 179-80

You Bahá'í children and young people have both great privileges and great obligations ahead of you, for your generation will be the ones to help build up a new, better and more beautiful world. . . . You should prepare yourselves for this great task by trying to grasp the true meaning of the teachings and not just merely accepting them as something you are taught. They are like a wonderful new world of thought just beginning to be explored, and when we realize that Bahá'u'lláh has brought teachings and laws for a thousand years to come, we can readily see that each new generation may find some greater meaning in the writings than the ones gone before did.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, pp. 43-44, no. 135

The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind . . . for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 129


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PART 2

A FRAMEWORK FOR SPIRITUAL EDUCATION: THE CORE CURRICULUM


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PREFACE

A world that has become heedless of its Creator has called its peoples to worship what the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith refers to as "the triple gods of Nationalism, Racialism and Communism." Through various media we are reminded constantly of the myriad social, economic, and political diseases that have arisen from the prevailing confusion about our human identity. Some of these illnesses—such as family breakdown, violence, and substance addiction and abuse—affect our children directly, while others—poverty, materialism, racism, and sexism—appear more diffused.

How then, can the present world, with its "entrenched pattern of conflict," become changed into one in which "harmony and cooperation will prevail"?1 Transformation is the essential purpose of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.

"Is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself, both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions? For if the character of mankind be not changed, the futility of God's universal manifestations would be apparent."2

The Universal House of Justice defines the process of individual transformation and explains its connection to spiritual and moral development and to the transformation of society:

Depth of belief is assured by the inner transformation, that salutary acquisition of spiritual and moral character, which is the outcome of obedience to the divine laws and principles.3

A study of the Bahá'í writings reveals that the spiritual education of children is essential to the process of individual and social transformation. In a letter dated 5 December 1988 to all Continental Counselors, the International


1. The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 28.
2. Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bah'u'llah, p. 25.
3. The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Ridván 1993 to the Bahá'ís of the world.

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Teaching Center emphasizes the high destiny of the children of the world. They describe the children as "instruments of healing amonst mankind" and as "a door to entry by troops." This letter invites the Bahá'í community to see the children and youth of the world as necessary and significant participants in the transformation of society. It is the children and youth, through their obedience to the laws of Bahá'u'lláh and their striving to implement the principles of His Faith, who will bring His healing message to the troops who will enter the Faith during this period.

In the same December 1988 letter the International Teaching Center says "one of the serious questions" that Bahá'í communities and institutions "must take up afresh" is "how to assist the children of the world," who have a "destiny before God." 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes their destiny:

Yea, certain persons shall in this divine dispensation produce heavenly children and such children shall promulgate the teachings of the Beauty of Abha and serve His great Cause. Through a heavenly power and spiritual confirmation they shall be enabled to promote the Word of God and to diffuse the fragrances of God. These children are neither Oriental nor Occidental, neither Asiatic nor American, neither European nor African, but they are of the Kingdom; their native home is heaven and their resort is the Kingdom of Abha. This is but the truth and there is naught after truth save superstitions (or fancy).4

At Ridván 1989 the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States asked the National Bahá'í Education Task Force to develop a "Core Curriculum" for children of ages six through twelve. The curriculum was to include the distinctive spiritual verities of the Bahá'í Faith. The task force began consulting, praying, and studying the writings of the Faith on the subject of spiritual education.

The desire to assist those responsible for educating and training children was the motivation for developing such a curriculum. But the ultimate goal is to raise up children who live for the Cause of God and who are consecrated teachers of the Faith; children who have an integrated understanding of the spiritual teachings, history, and principles of the Faith; children who from their earliest years follow an educational path that leads to certitude; children whose steps are firm, who will offer up their hearts for love of Bahá'u'lláh, and who will expend through lives of faithful service in His path what He has bestowed upon them.


4. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, p. 647-48.

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While researching and developing the curriculum, the National Bahá'í Education Task Force realized that raising such children would require training and commitment both from teachers of children's classes and from parents, who are the primary trainers of their children. The task force also realized that communities and their Spiritual Assemblies have the responsibility to focus their energies and resources on the spiritual education and training of their children as teachers of the Faith and as reservoirs of human potential.

By implementing the Core Curriculum we hope to begin elevating the role and status of the teacher to the exalted station Bahá'u'lláh describes in His writings. Training in the Core Curriculum will help teachers develop their own capacities and expertise in the spiritual education of children and to develop a strong desire to impart lovingly true knowledge and understanding to those in their care.

The Core Curriculum requires parents and teachers to work together as partners in the education of children, supported by the divine institutions of the Faith, their undertakings guided, strengthened, and refreshed by the Creative Word.

Therefore the National Bahá'í Education Task Force's response to the 1989 mandate was to look at the notion of a Core Curriculum as an opportunity to design an integrated, planned process—in essence a nucleus for planning—that involves the transformation of the entire community.

The Bahá'í writings that discuss spiritual education provide all who are involved in the educational process with guidance for fostering the spiritual growth of children. The principles and characteristics of spiritual education gleaned from the Bahá'í writings are at the heart of the Core Curriculum process.

This compilation represents our beginning efforts to discover what the Bahá'í writings say about the content and process of spiritual education and the roles and responsibilities of all involved. It includes a statement on a philosophy of spiritual education and the distinguishing principles and characteristics of Bahá'í education, based on our research of the sacred texts.

The process of implementing a Core Curriculum has, at its foundation, the deepening of local communities in the sacred writings and the framework and structure of spiritual education that they suggest. This implementation process requires the systematic, unified involvement and responsibility of parents, teachers, scholards, and the entire community for maximum effect. Much experimentation with the concepts developed thus far is expected, especially because every community reflects its unique regional and cultural diversity in its spiritual education programs. By continually bringing diverse experiences into the Core Curriculum, participants will ensure that it remains a live, responsive


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process involving the entire community in raising up consecrated, deepened, and assured young Bahá'ís.

Our hope and intention is that this compilation will provide a useful resource for all who care about the spiritual education of children, and that from this beginning the friends will embark on their own voyage of research in the ocean of guidance contained in the Bahá'í writings.

THE NATIONAL BAHÁ'Í EDUCATION TASK FORCE OF THE BAHÁ'ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES

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I

A PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

Bahá'u'lláh enjoins on society the education of all its members according to the capacities of each. He clearly states that the "exaltation of the Word of God," the "advancement of the world of being and the uplift of souls" are best achieved through the education of the child. In this light, 'Abdu'l-Bahá refers to the education of Bahá'í children as the "pre-eminent goal of the chosen" and "a service than which none is greater at the Sacred Threshold." Spiritual Assemblies are exhorted to make every effort for the education of the children.1

THE PURPOSE OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

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....It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station...to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other.2
If, then, the pursuit of knowledge lead to the beauty of Him Who is the Object of all Knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God.3

1. Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 2, no. 6; 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 26, no. 67 [Digital ed. note - no. 64]; ibid, p. 24, no. 60 [Digital ed. note - no. 57].
2. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, par. 1.
3. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 110.

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Throughout the sacred texts of the Bahá'í Faith we find references to the purposes of a true and proper education. A true education has as its ultimate purpose the education of all, "that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High." A spiritual education causes the "expansion of consciousness, and insight into the realities of the universe and the hidden mysteries of Almighty God"; it places prime importance on the acquisition of divine perfections, which equip the individual to promote the oneness of humanity and to contribute to "an ever-advancing civilization."4

A divine education cherishes the attainment of spiritual values and good character above intellectual attainments. However, 'Abdu'l-Bahá describes the achievement of both together as "light upon light."5

Numerous passages in the Bahá'í writings unfold the nature of a divine civilization in contrast to a solely human or material one. In the former, enlightenment and spiritualization are the underlying processes and results; whereas in the latter, emphasis must be given to restraining people from committing criminal acts and to passing laws that punish or prevent wrongdoing. In contrast, encouragement, reward, loving-kindness, and guidance—rather than force and punishment—are tools of the Bahá'í parent and educator.

The Bahá'í writings state that, before all else, children must be taught to love and obey God. This love and obedience is represented to a great extent in a child's relationship with his or her parents. Bahá'u'lláh warns that children who do not obey their parents "will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please."6

A child educated in the Bahá'í way learns to strive for balance and is anchored by the early development of a moral character. A Bahá'í spiritual education will result in the cultivation of spiritual perception—the acquisition of a "penetrating vision" that places events, experiences, relationships, and knowledge in a spiritual perspective and guides us in choosing appropriate and effective courses of action.7


4. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 157; 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 126; Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 215.
5. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 136.
6. Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 4, no. 14.
7. Bahá'u'lláh, in Gleanings, p. 58.

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Since the central purpose of the Bahá'í Faith is to unify all humanity, a spiritual education begins and ends with the principle of the oneness of humanity, organizing all learning around this pivot, which represents the Covenant itself.

Shoghi Effendi emphatically states that, within the American nation, racial prejudice is the most challenging issue. This implies that a true education must enable children to love, seek out, and appreciate diversity—and assist them to understand the root causes of prejudices, whether of race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, personality, gender, or experience. Understanding and celebrating diversity are essential to the healthy growth of an assured and prejudice-free Bahá'í child.

Spiritual education must also work toward bringing about full equality between the sexes, the achievement of which has been linked by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the realization of universal peace. This principle, along with others, must be demonstrated and instilled in the minds and hearts of the children from the earliest age, along with the understanding that "Unless these thoughts are translated into the world of action, they are useless."8

EDUCATION AS A SPIRITUAL PROCESS

The task of educating and training children, 'Abdu'l-Bahá warns, is a service "very difficult to undertake" and "even harder to succeed in." It requires commitment, steadfastness, and perseverance. In the Seven Valleys, Bahá'u'lláh speaks of seeing "the end in the beginning," or even seeing "the end and the beginning as one."9 In this context we recognize that the means by which education occurs must be consistent with the ultimate goals toward which we are striving. We cannot achieve peace through war, a loving harmonious world community through confrontation and estrangement, spiritual vision through uninspiring activities, the emergence of Bahá'í teachers through paper and pencil exercises, nor the training of disciplined warriors for peace through ease and luxury.

In a beautiful, tender passage, 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that the children of the believers are His own children and that we must educate them on His behalf. In another passage He asks the friends to "kiss the face and hair of thy dear


8. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 16.
9. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 133; Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 15

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children" for Him. In yet another passage He exhorts a teacher to be "a teacher of love, in a school of unity."10

If we attempt to educate the children on behalf of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the challenge becomes to truly assist the growth and development of young people, who should be seen as "a door to entry by troops and as a fruitful source of teachers both for their own generation and even for the deepening of others."11 Beyond arranging programs and planning a curriculum for children, we must recognize that Bahá'í children are at the heart of community life, including its teaching activities. To truly assist the growth of young people involves watchfulness, education and training, and the deepest love. In addition to considering children's needs, we must value greatly their contribution in all Bahá'í events, including their participation in community consultation about their own role and purpose in the affairs of the Cause.

The sacred writings of the Bahá'í Faith are a rich source of guidance for parents, teachers, and communities. In the writings we find the inspiration that guides and transforms our attitudes and methods to help them approach, in some small and tentative way, those of the beloved Master, 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Love and encouragement, patience and understanding of the capacity and capability of each child within the family and community, will promote the spiritual growth of well-integrated, well-balanced children of the Kingdom, who will, when given a divine education, "cast their beams like brilliant candles on the world."12

A NEW CYCLE OF HUMAN POWER

The Bahá'í writings state that humanity is being summoned to a "new cycle of human power."13 This suggests a new sense of shared responsibility in the organization and coordination of human affairs. Although the role of mothers as the primary educators of children is recognized and exalted in the revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, such a role clearly cannot exist in isolation. While mothers are encouraged to arrange the home environment to promote the spiritual development of every memeber of the family, fathers are enjoined to be full partners


10. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III p. 690; 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 64 [Digital ed. note - no. 61].
11. The International Teaching Center, letter dated 5 December 1988 to all Continental Counselors.
12. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections, p. 136
13. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in J. E. Esslemont, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era, p. 119

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in the spiritual education of their children, to instruct them in reading and writing and in spiritual matters, and to call them to high ideals. Parents are given jointly the duty to raise their children to be religious and staunch in faith. This responsibility is in many ways greater than that of educating and training children in the sciences and arts.

However, responsibility for the spiritual education of children goes far beyond the immediate family circle. Spiritual Assemblies are commanded in the sacred texts to provide for the education of children. The time has come for the entire community to see our young people "not simply as children for whom activity must be arranged, or as adjuncts to their parents, or as awaiting some future time when they must take on adult responsibility, but as a living creation of God necessary at this very moment for the purposes of God in a civilizing process which is now being called into existence."14

The Bahá'í family embraces all of our children, whose education involves the loving cooperation of parents, teachers, Spiritual Assemblies, and every member of the Bahá'í community. It is the view of the National Spiritual Assembly that the development of the Local Spiritual Assemblies and their communities will depend, to a great extent, on the degree to which attention is given to the following guidance from the Universal House of Justice:

The education of children in the teaching of the Faith must be regarded as an essential obligation of every Bahá'í parent, every local and national community and it must become a firmly established Bahá'í activity during the course of the Plan. It should include moral instruction by word and example and active participation by children in Bahá'í community life.15

Thus collaboration among parents, communities, teachers, and divine institutions will enable our children to achieve their destiny before God at this time in human history. The purpose of the Core Curriculum is to assist in this endeavor. This compilation of Bahá'í writings on spiritual education presents the foundation of spiritual guidance upon which the Core Curriculum is constructed.


14. The International Teaching Center, letter dated 5 December 1988 to all Continental Counselors.
15. The Universal House of Justice, letter dated Naw-Rúz 1974, p. 3. The Plan referred to is the Five Year Plan (1974-79).

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II

DISTINCTIVE PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

You have asked him [Shoghi Effendi] for detailed information concerning the Bahá'í educational programme; there is as yet no such thing as a Bahá'í curriculum, and there are no Bahá'í publications exclusively devoted to this subject, since the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá do not present a definite and detailed educational system, but simply offer certain basic principles and set forth a number of teaching ideals that should guide future Bahá'í educationalists in their efforts to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum which would be in full harmony with the spirit of the Bahá'í Teachings, and would thus meet the requirements and needs of the modern age.
These basic principles are available in the sacred writings of the Cause, and should be carefully studied, and gradually incorporated in various college and university programmes. But the task of formulating a system of education which would be officially recognized by the Cause, and enforced as such throughout the Bahá'í world is one which the present-day generation of believers cannot obviously undertake, and which has to be gradually accomplished by Bahá'í scholars and educationalists of the future.1

The principles outlined in Part 2 are derived from the writings of Bah'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. The extracts have been selected for their relevance to the education of children within the Bahá'í community and family. The term "Principles of Spiritual Education" defines a distinctive set of characteristics and beliefs about the nature of human development and its relationship to spiritual education. These principles form the basic philosophical and organizational framework and structure of spiritual education.


1. On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 55-56, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 121]

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The principles and extracts that follow are not an exhaustive listing of all those that can be found in the Bahá'í writings, nor are they intended to be a summary of the tenets of education in general. They are, for the present purposes, a focused, working set of organizing precepts that identify the distinguishing characteristics of spiritual education and offer a resource and foundation for continuing research and development toward a Bahá'í pedagogy and education system. However, it is important to remember that the development of a Bahá'í system of education is an evolutionary process, one that will unfold in concert with the development of a truly spiritualized worldwide civilization.

For the present, a careful study of the principles of spiritual education derived from the sacred texts and the articulation of resulting "teaching ideals" is what is required in order "to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum" to "meet the requirements and needs of the modern age."2 The identification of principles of spiritual education is a step toward the goal of attaining deeper insight into Bahá'u'lláh's vision of a spiritualized humanity. Identifying such principles represents an attempt to understand the role of education and to improve the process by which it contributes to the transformation of society. Because the Core Curriculum is an iterative process, many reviews, revisions, and refinements will occur as educators, including parents and community members, continue their research and study of the Bahá'í writings and apply them to the education of children. The result will be an increasingly comprehensive understanding of Bahá'í educational processes, curricula, and materials.

Bahá'í institutions, teachers, families, and communities wishing to start a program of education for children will find it helpful to begin by studying the principles and extracts that follow. While the principles and extracts are organized into five categories for easy reference, their applicability is not limited to the category to which they have been assigned. They are organized as follows:

A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD
C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
Knowledge: A keen awareness of information and facts; the remembering and recalling of previously learned material.

2. On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 56, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 121].

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Wisdom: True comprehension and insight; the discovery, through experience, of the meaning of information and facts. Wisdom is acquired through experience, consultation, reflection, inspiration, and an evolving understanding of spiritual truth.
Spiritual perception: Penetrating inner vision and the utilization of a Bahá'í perspective; the discovery of purpose and meaning; the bringing to bear of Bahá'í spiritual values, principles, and laws upon the individual's expanding consciousness of issues and problems. As such, it includes the capacity to search for connections, analyze, evaluate, and apply—using Bahá'í law, principles, and values as the standard for discernment.
Eloquent speech: The ability to articulate knowledge, understanding, and beliefs in a clear and comprehensive way. For the purposes of the Core Curriculum, the definition of eloquent speech is extended beyond verbalization to include all behaviors that reflect the internalization of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. This involves the integration and synthesis of learning in the active expression of knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual perception. Eloquent speech is the endeavor to live the Bahá'í life and engage in service to humanity.
D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION
Stages of Maturity
Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest
Instructional Methods
Learning Tools
Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline
E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Coding has been used to facilitate tracking and access to the research. The code in the left margin identifies the subsection, subject area, and principle. For example, "C-ES2" refers to principle 2 in the subject area of "Eloquent Speech" (ES), within research subsection C, "The Content of Spiritual Education."

A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

A-1 Spiritual Education is the Indispensable Foundation of All Other Knowledge. A spiritual education in which children come to know and remember God and to recognize His Manifestation is the purpose of all knowledge and provides the context for its proper application.


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We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 199

The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-57

Thou didst write as to the children: from the very beginning, the children must receive divine education and must continually be reminded to remember their God. Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

O thou true friend! Read, in the school of God, the lessons of the spirit, and learn from love's Teacher the innermost truths. Seek out the secrets of Heaven, and tell of the overflowing grace and favour of God.

Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind, this is so only on condition that man's river flow into the mighty sea, and draw from God's ancient source His inspiration. When this cometh to pass, then every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil a prodigal fountain of knowledge. If, then, the pursuit of knowledge lead to the beauty of Him Who is the Object of all Knowledge, how excellent that goal; but if not, a mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God.

The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.


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It is incumbent upon thee to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to turn thy face toward the beauty of the Manifest Beauty, that thou mayest be a sign of saving guidance amongst the peoples of the world, and a focal centre of understanding in this sphere from which the wise and their wisdom are shut out, except for those who set foot in the Kingdom of lights and become informed of the veiled and hidden mystery, the well-guarded secret.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 110

The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind and draweth down the grace and favour of the All-Merciful, for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory. If a child be trained from his infancy, he will, through the loving care of the Holy Gardener, drink in the crystal waters of the spirit and of knowledge, like a young tree amid the rilling brooks. And certainly he will gather to himself the bright rays of the Sun of Truth, and through its light and heat will grow ever fresh and fair in the garden of life.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 129-30

They must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 29, no. 74

A-2 Spiritual Education Must Be Systematic and Ongoing. Educational programs for children must be well planned and organized, sequential, and continuous.

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that
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their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 534

Thou must certainly continue this organized activity [Sunday school for the children] without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results. Firmness and steadfastness, however, are necessary, otherwise it will continue for some time, but later be gradually forgotten. Perseverance is an essential condition.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 143-44

A-3 Spiritual Education is the Foundation of Human Happiness. Without a spiritual education children cannot achieve happiness in this world or the next.

My wish is that these children should receive a Bahá'í education, so that they may progress both here and in the Kingdom, and rejoice thy heart.

In a time to come, morals will degenerate to an extreme degree. It is essential that children be reared in the Bahá'í way, that they may find happiness both in this world and the next. If not, they shall be beset by sorrows and troubles, for human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

A-4 Spiritual Education Involves Striving to Attain a Balance between material, intellectual, and spiritual education.

Education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material education is concerned with the progress and development of the body, through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease. This education is common to animals and man.

Human education signifies civilization and progress— that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true
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education; for in this state man becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8

Education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth. There is intellectual education or mental training for which schools and colleges are founded. The third kind of education is that of the spirit. Through the breaths of the Holy Spirit man is uplifted into the world of moralities and illumined by the lights of divine bestowals. The moral world is only attained through the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and the quickening life of the divine spirit. For this reason the holy Manifestations of God appear in the human world. They come to educate and illuminate mankind, to bestow spiritual susceptibilities, to quicken inner perceptions and thereby adorn the reality of man—the human temple—with divine graces.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 330

A-5 Children's Education Begins with Training in the Principles of Religion so that each heart will be attracted to the love of God. This love of God will be the cause of their obedience to divine law and their avoidance of wrongdoing.

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68

Instruction in the schools must begin with instruction in religion. Following religious training, and the binding of the child's heart to the love of God, proceed with his


1. Cf. Genesis 1:26.

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education in the other branches of knowledge.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 70

The universities and colleges of the world must hold fast to three cardinal principles.

First: Whole-hearted service to the cause of education, the unfolding of the mysteries of nature, the extension of the boundaries of pure science, the elimination of the causes of ignorance and social evils, a standard universal system of instruction, and the diffusion of the lights of knowledge and reality.

Second: Service to the cause of morality, raising the moral tone of the students, inspiring them with the sublimest ideals of ethical refinement, teaching them altruism, inculcating in their lives the beauty of holiness and the excellency of virtue and animating them with the excellences and perfections of the religion of God.

Third: Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), p. 98

A-6 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Bring into Being a New Race of Men. Spiritual education causes the highest level of spiritual potential to become manifest in human beings. Without a spiritual education man succumbs to the lower nature. The purpose of education and training is to strengthen the spiritual aspect of the human reality so that it will overcome the material, or lower, nature.

We have, then, called into being a new creation, as a token of Our grace unto men.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 29-30

Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light. If, however, he be allowed to remain in his original condition, the corrosion of lusts and appetites will effectively destroy him.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10

Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he becomes the center of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education, he becomes the manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the source of all dark conditions.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 236


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Man is in 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 aspect may overcome their animal side.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 235

A-7 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Teach Children to Have High Aims toward which they steadfastly progress.

They [children] must be constantly encouraged and made eager to gain all the summits of human accomplishment, so that from their earliest years they will be taught to have high aims, to conduct themselves well, to be chaste, pure, and undefiled, and will learn to be of powerful resolve and firm of purpose in all things. Let them not jest and trifle, but earnestly advance unto their goals, so that in every situation they will be found resolute and firm.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 135

A-8 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Cause Virtues to Become Manifest in all Human Action. Unless education results in the appearance of spiritual characteristics and virtues, it is useless, even harmful. Yet, if a person achieves both spiritual radiance and intellectual excellence he becomes noble and luminous.

As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind; acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they
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may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

O thou who gazest upon the Kingdom of God! Thy letter was received and we note that thou art engaged in teaching the children of the believers, that these tender little ones have been learning The Hidden Words and the prayers and what it meaneth to be a Bahá'í.

The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth. Every child must be trained in the things of the spirit, so that he may embody all the virtues and become a source of glory to the Cause of God. Otherwise, the mere word `Bahá'í', if it yield no fruit, will come to nothing.

Strive then to the best of thine ability to let these children know that a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper—not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name "Bahá'í".

Name thou this school the Bahá'í Sunday School.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

The indispensable basis of all is that he [a child] should develop spiritual characteristics and the praiseworthy virtues of humankind. This is the primary consideration. If a person be unlettered, and yet clothed with divine excellence, and alive in the breaths of the Spirit, that individual will contribute to the welfare of society, and his inability to read and write will do him no harm. And if a person be versed in the arts and every branch of knowledge, and not live a religious life, and not take on the characteristics of God, and not be directed by a pure
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intent, and be engrossed in the life of the flesh — then he is harm personified, and nothing will come of all his learning and intellectual accomplishments but scandal and torment.

If, however, an individual hath spiritual characteristics, and virtues that shine out, and his purpose in life be spiritual and his inclinations be directed toward God, and he also study other branches of knowledge — then we have light upon light: his outer being luminous, his private character radiant, his heart sound, his thought elevated, his understanding swift, his rank noble.

Blessed is he who attaineth this exalted station.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 78

A-9 Education is a Universal Law whose Purpose is Service to the Principle of the Oneness of Humanity and the Establishment of the Unity of Humankind. The oneness of humanity is a fundamental principle of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. Consciousness of it is a primary purpose of all Bahá'í educational programs. This universal law is essential to the unity of humankind.

Bahá'u'lláh has announced that inasmuch as ignorance and lack of education are barriers of separation among mankind, all must receive training and instruction. Through this provision the lack of mutual understanding will be remedied and the unity of mankind furthered and advanced. Universal education is a universal law.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 300

The universities and colleges of the world must hold fast to . . . service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools,
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the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), p. 98

The truth is that God has endowed man with virtues, powers and ideal faculties. . . . We must thank God for these bestowals, for these powers He has given us...

How shall we utilize these gifts and expend these bounties? By directing our efforts toward the unification of the human race. We must use these powers in establishing the oneness of the world of humanity. . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 51

SUMMARY
The Bahá'í writings establish the essentially spiritual focus and character of Bahá'í education. The purpose of spiritual education is to help children develop and manifest inherent spiritual attributes and qualities. Such an education is essential for all children. Ensuring that it is provided is the responsibility of every Bahá'í. The development of divine qualities is crucial to the progress of human civilization, its unity, and the realization of true human potential.

B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD

B-1 The Human Reality is Essentially Spiritual. The spiritual reality of children is the same as that of adults, only less experienced. We are both spiritual and material during our lives in this world. The spirit, or the rational soul, manifests itself in the human reality through the mind.

The hearts of all children are of the utmost purity. They are mirrors upon which no dust has fallen. But this purity is on account of weakness and innocence, not on account of any strength and testing, for as this is the early period of their childhood, their hearts and minds are unsullied by the world. They cannot display any great intelligence. They have neither hypocrisy nor deceit. This is on account of the child's weakness, whereas the man becomes pure through his strength. Through the power of intelligence he becomes simple; through the great power of
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reason and understanding and not through the power of weakness he becomes sincere. When he attains to the state of perfection, he will receive these qualities; his heart becomes purified, his spirit enlightened, his soul is sensitized and tender—all through his great strength. This is the difference between the perfect man and the child. Both have the underlying qualities of simplicity and sincerity —the child through the power of weakness and the man through the power of strength.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

As for what is meant by the equality of souls in the all-highest realm, it is this: the souls of the believers, at the time when they first become manifest in the world of the body, are equal, and each is sanctified and pure. In this world, however, they will begin to differ one from another, some achieving the highest station, some a middle one, others remaining at the lowest stage of being. Their equal status is at the beginning of their existence; the differentiation followeth their passing away.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 171

The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 208-209

We are both spiritual and material during our lives in this world.

In man there are two natures; his spiritual or higher nature and his material or lower nature. In one he approaches
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God, in the other he lives for the world alone.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 60

The Spirit, or the Rational Soul, Manifests Itself in the Human Reality through the Mind.

...the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit and is its essential quality, as the sun's rays are the essential necessity of the sun.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 209

B-2 Divine Attributes Develop through Spiritual Education. As each individual develops the spiritual attributes with which every soul is endowed, divine qualities are reflected increasingly. Spiritual education exerts a tremendous influence on this process.

Upon the inmost reality of each and every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names, and made it a recipient of the glory of one of His attributes. Upon the reality of man, however, He hath focused the radiance of all of His names and attributes, and made it a mirror of His own Self.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 65

Bahá'u'lláh compares these attributes, talents, and capacities to gems that must be mined and polished through education.

Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260

...education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest
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levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 132

B-3 All Have Been Created to Know and Love God. Though capacities differ among individuals, all are created to know and worship God, to love and serve Him, and to be noble.

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.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 8

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 4

O SON OF SPIRIT!

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:22

O SON OF BEING!

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

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:5

O SON OF MAN!

I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, no. hwa:4

B-4 Spiritual Education and Training are Obligatory, not Voluntary. Education as a universal, obligatory principle is a distinctive characteristic of the Bahá'í Dispensation.

Were there no educator, all souls would remain savage, and were it not for the teacher, the children would be ignorant creatures.


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It is for this reason that, in this new cycle, education and training are recorded in the Book of God as obligatory and not voluntary.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126

Bahá'u'lláh declares that all mankind should attain knowledge and acquire an education. This is a necessary principle of religious belief and observance, characteristically new in this dispensation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 455

Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed the universality of education, which is essential to the unity of mankind, that one and all may be equally educated, whether girls or boys, and receive the same education. When education is universalized in all schools, perfect communication between the members of the human race will be established. When all receive the same kind of education the foundations of war and contention will be utterly destroyed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 33-34, no. 82

As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind; acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly
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Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

B-5 There is to be No Difference in the Education Curriculum of Boys and Girls. Both sexes are to receive the same kind of education.

Bahá'u'lláh hath proclaimed the universality of education, which is essential to the unity of mankind, that one and all may be equally educated, whether girls or boys, and receive the same education. When education is universalized in all schools, perfect communication between the members of the human race will be established. When all receive the same kind of education the foundations of war and contention will be utterly destroyed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 33-34, no. 82

He [Bahá'u'lláh] promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 175

B-6 Under Special Circumstances Girls are to be Given Priority in Education because of the importance of their future role as mothers and first teachers of their children.

The school for girls taketh precedence over the school for boys, for it is incumbent upon the girls of this glorious era to be fully versed in the various branches of knowledge, in sciences and the arts and all the wonders of this pre-eminent time, that they may then educate their children and train them from their earliest days in the ways of perfection.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 34, no. 85

Devote ye particular attention to the school for girls, for the greatness of this wondrous Age will be manifested as a result of progress in the world of women. This is why ye observe that in every land the world of women is on the


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march, and this is due to the impact of the Most Great Manifestation, and the power of the teachings of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 70

B-7 Spiritual Education is a Sacred Obligation of Parents.

Shoghi Effendi wishes you particularly to give all your attention to the education of your boys so that they may become sincere, loyal and active Bahá'ís. It is to the youth that we should look for help, and it is, therefore, the sacred obligation of the parents to provide their children with a thorough Bahá'í training.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 132

B-8 Spiritual Progress is Dependent on God's Mercy. The ultimate progress of the soul is the result of God's bounty.

The soul does not evolve from degree to degree as a law—it only evolves nearer to God, by the Mercy and Bounty of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 66

SUMMARY
From a Bahá'í perspective, the value of education is a universal principle. All children are to receive an education. Although differences in capaciy and inclination exist, true education permits the gems hidden within every soul to be uncovered, polished, and used in the service of humanity. The preference given in the Bahá'í Dispensation to the education of girls is a unique feature of this age and has great implications for the future.

C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

INTRODUCTION

This section of the research for the Core Curriculum presents principles derived from the Bahá'í writings that outline the major themes, subjects, and topics to be included in spiritual education. The extracts that follow describe various kinds of content. Some extracts to the importance of reading and the study of specific books and subjects. Others allude to the acquisition of qualities


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and attributes, and still others refer to conditions and processes of learning and its results. This richness of material and detail presents the task of organizing the references in some type of sequence within a learning famrework. The following statement by Bahá'u'lláh provides an appropriate organizing framework for understanding the content of Bahá'í spiritual education:

Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.3

The extracts that follow are organized accordingly. Thus information about content and supporting principles are organized as follows:

Knowledge (Knowing)
Wisdom (Understanding)
Spiritual Perception (Spiritually Perceiving)
Eloquent Speech (Expressing Knowledge, Wisdom, and Spiritual Perception in Speech and Action)

KNOWLEDGE

In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Happy the man that cleaveth unto it, and woe betide the heedless.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27

Naught shall avail you in this Day but God, nor is there any refuge to flee to save Him, the Omniscient, the All-Wise. Whoso hath known Me hath known the Goal of all desire, and whoso hath turned unto Me hath turned unto the Object of all adoration. Thus hath it been set forth in the Book, and thus hath it been decreed by God, the Lord of all worlds. To read but one of the verses of My Revelation is better than to peruse the Scriptures of both the former and latter generations. This is the Utterance of the All-Merciful, would that ye had ears to hear! Say: This is the essence of knowledge, did ye but understand.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶138


3. Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9.

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In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear. This knowledge, however, should be taught from childhood, as it will greatly aid in its elimination. Whatever decreaseth fear increaseth courage. Should the Will of God assist Us, there would flow out from the Pen of the Divine Expounder a lengthy exposition of that which hath been mentioned, and there would be revealed, in the field of arts and sciences, what would renew the world and the nations. A word hath, likewise, been written down and recorded by the Pen of the Most High in the Crimson Book2 which is capable of fully disclosing that force which is hid in men, nay of redoubling its potency. We implore God—exalted and glorified be He—to graciously assist His servants to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 32

Acquiring Knowledge—The Four Methods

There are only four accepted methods of comprehension— that is to say, the realities of things are understood by these four methods.

The first method is by the senses—that is to say, all that the eye, the ear, the taste, the smell, the touch perceive is understood by this method. Today this method is considered the most perfect by all the European philosophers: they say that the principal method of gaining knowledge is through the senses; they consider it supreme, although it is imperfect, for it commits errors. For example, the greatest of the senses is the power of sight. The sight sees the mirage as water, and it sees images reflected in mirrors as real and existent; large bodies which are distant appear to be small, and a whirling point appears as a circle. The sight believes the earth


4. Adib Taherzadeh explains in The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 142, "The only document which explicitly announced 'Abdu'l-Bahá as the Centre of the Covenant of Bah'u'llah and the One to Whom all must turn after His Ascension was the Kitáb-i-'Ahdí (The Book of My Covenant) which was published among the believers only after His passing. This historic document was probably written at least one year before the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh, for it is alluded to in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf as the 'Crimson Book.'"

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to be motionless and sees the sun in motion, and in many similar cases it makes mistakes. Therefore, we cannot trust it.

The second is the method of reason, which was that of the ancient philosophers, the pillars of wisdom; this is the method of the understanding. They proved things by reason and held firmly to logical proofs; all their arguments are arguments of reason. Notwithstanding this, they differed greatly, and their opinions were contradictory. They even changed their views—that is to say, during twenty years they would prove the existence of a thing by logical arguments, and afterward they would deny it by logical arguments—so much so that Plato at first logically proved the immobility of the earth and the movement of the sun; later by logical arguments he proved that the sun was the stationary center, and that the earth was moving. Afterward the Ptolemaic theory was spread abroad, and the idea of Plato was entirely forgotten, until at last a new observer again called it to life. Thus all the mathematicians disagreed, although they relied upon arguments of reason. In the same way, by logical arguments, they would prove a problem at a certain time, then afterward by arguments of the same nature they would deny it. So one of the philosophers would firmly uphold a theory for a time with strong arguments and proofs to support it, which afterward he would retract and contradict by arguments of reason. Therefore, it is evident that the method of reason is not perfect, for the differences of the ancient philosophers, the want of stability and the variations of their opinions, prove this. For if it were perfect, all ought to be united in their ideas and agreed in their opinions.

The third method of understanding is by tradition— that is, through the text of the Holy Scriptures—for people say, "In the Old and New Testaments, God spoke thus." This method equally is not perfect, because the traditions are understood by the reason. As the reason itself is liable to err, how can it be said that in interpreting the meaning of the traditions it will not err, for it is possible for it to make mistakes, and certainty cannot be attained. This is the method of the religious leaders; whatever they understand and comprehend from the text of the books is that which their reason
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understands from the text, and not necessarily the real truth; for the reason is like a balance, and the meanings contained in the text of the Holy Books are like the thing which is weighed. If the balance is untrue, how can the weight be ascertained?

Know then: that which is in the hands of people, that which they believe, is liable to error. For, in proving or disproving a thing, if a proof is brought forward which is taken from the evidence of our senses, this method, as has become evident, is not perfect; if the proofs are intellectual, the same is true; or if they are traditional, such proofs also are not perfect. Therefore, there is no standard in the hands of people upon which we can rely.

But the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension which is infallible and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty can alone be attained.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pp. 297-299

Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas, and convictions of the children of men.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 14.5 (p. 95, 1977 ed.)

I most urgently request the friends of God to make every effort, as much as lieth within their competence, along these lines. The harder they strive to widen the scope of their knowledge, the better and more gratifying will be the result. Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts. Whensoever they gather in their meetings let their conversation be confined to learned subjects and to information on the knowledge of the day.

If they do thus, they will flood the world with the Manifest Light, and change this dusty earth into gardens of the Realm of Glory.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Excellence in All Things, p. 8


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It is clear that learning is the greatest bestowal of God; that knowledge and the acquirement thereof is a blessing from Heaven. Thus is it incumbent upon the friends of God to exert such an effort and strive with such eagerness to proote divine knowledge, culture and the sciences, that ere long those who are schoolchildren today will become the most erudite of all the fraternity of the wise. This is a service rendered unto God Himself, and it is one of His inescapable commandments.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Excellence in All Things, p. 8

C-K1 Knowledge of the Power of the Love of God and of the Establishment of Unity and Justice as the Essential Foundation of Religion is important for every child's learning and is essential for future achievement. This involves acquiring knowledge of the history of the Bahá'í Faith and the history of other religions.

O thou son of the Kingdom! All things are beneficial if joined with the love of God; and without His love all things are harmful, and act as a veil between man and the Lord of the Kingdom. When His love is there, every bitterness turneth sweet, and every bounty rendereth a wholesome pleasure. For example, a melody, sweet to the ear, bringeth the very spirit of life to a heart in love with God, yet staineth with lust a soul engrossed in sensual desires. And every branch of learning, conjoined with the love of God, is approved and worthy of praise; but bereft of His love, learning is barren—indeed, it bringeth on madness. Every kind of knowledge, every science, is as a tree: if the fruit of it be the love of God, then is it a blessed tree, but if not, that tree is but dried-up wood, and shall only feed the fire.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 181

Regarding your question about the need for greater unity among the friends, there is no doubt that this is so, and the Guardian feels that one of the chief instruments for promoting it is to teach the Bahá'ís themselves, in classes and through precepts, that love of God, and consequently of men, is the essential foundation of every religion, our own included. A greater degree of love will
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produce a greater unity, because it enables people to bear with each other, to be patient and forgiving.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Directives from the Guardian, p. 67

If the younger Bahá'í generation, in whom Shoghi Effendi has great hopes, take the pains of studying the Cause deeply and thoroughly, read its history, find its underlying principles and become both well informed and energetic, they surely can achieve a great deal. It is upon their shoulders that the Master has laid the tremendous work of teaching. They are the ones to raise the call of the Kingdom and arouse the people from slumber. If they fail the Cause is doomed to stagnation.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 28, no. 92

I wish to urge the necessity of concentrating . . . on the systematic study of the early history and principles of the Faith, on public speaking, and on a thorough discussion, both formally and informally, of various aspects of the Cause. These I regard as essential preliminaries to a future intensive campaign of teaching in which the rising generation must engage, if the spread of the Cause is to be assured in that land. May you succeed in your efforts to attain that goal!

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 14, no. 34

The guarantee of well-being and success in all your endeavours to serve the Cause of God can be stated in one word: unity. It is the alpha and omega of all Bahá'í objectives.

—The Universal House of Justice, letter dated 19 May 1994, to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, p. 8

C-K2 Knowledge of the Sacred Writings and Bahá'í Literature. The Bahá'í writings contain references to specific books to be studied by children, youth, and adults.

Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. Read, with close attention, the Tablets of Tarazat (Ornaments), Kalimat (Words of Paradise), Tajalliyyat (Effulgences), Ishraqat (Splendours), and Bisharat (Glad Tidings), and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 35


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O thou who gazeth upon the Kingdom of God! Thy letter was received and we note that thou art engaged in teaching the children of the believers, that these tender little ones have been learning The Hidden Words and the prayers and what it meaneth to be a Bahá'í.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143


The Guardian feels that a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people; as to what subjects within the Faith you should concentrate on he feels that young Bahá'ís should gain a mastery of such books as the Gleanings, the Dawnbreakers, God Passes By, the Iqán, Some Answered Questions and the more important Tablets. All aspects of the Faith should be deeply studied. . . .

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 46, no. 143

Shoghi Effendi is especially delighted to know that the younger group are studying the Will and Testament as this document is indispensable for a complete understanding of the spirit, of the mission and of the future state of the Bahá'í Cause. It would be well to have a competent friend explain to them some of the passages.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 29, no. 94

Those standards of Bahá'í conduct, which he himself has set forth in his last general epistle, "The Advent of Divine Justice", and which it should be the paramount duty of every loyal and conscientious believer to endeavour to uphold and promote, deserve serious study and meditation. . .

The principle and methods laid down by the Guardian in his "Advent of Divine Justice" on this vital subject of Bahá'í ethics, should indeed prove of invaluable inspiration and guidance to all the students and friends attending the
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Summer School classes, and thus prepare them to better appreciate the privileges, and more adequately discharge the responsibilities, of their citizenship in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 42, no. 131

He has noted, in particular, with genuine satisfaction the recommendations issued by the National Youth Committee to the members of our Bahá'í youth to make a deeper study of the Master's Will and to ponder more carefully on its manifold and far-reaching implications. He hopes that the Regional Youth Conferences . . . have devoted all the time necessary for the study and discussion of this all-important subject, and have given it the full emphasis it deserves. He will pray that the results obtained may be such as to give all the attendants a clear and wider vision of the tasks, responsibilities and obligations they will be called upon to discharge during this year, and a renewed stimulus to contribute their full share to the success and complete fulfillment of the Seven-Year Plan.

The Guardian would advise that in their studies of the Will and Testament the young believers should use the "Dispensation", which will undoubtedly help them considerably to grasp the full implications of that sacred and historic Document which he has described as the "Charter of the New World Order".

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 41, no. 129

Shoghi Effendi wishes . . . to express his deepfelt appreciation of your intention to study the Qur'án. The knowledge of the revealed holy Book is, indeed, indispensable to every Bahá'í who wishes to adequately understand the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. And in view of that the Guardian has been invariably encouraging the friends to make as thorough a study of this Book as possible, particularly in their summer schools. Sale's translation is the most scholarly we have, but Rodwell's version is more literary, and hence easier for reading.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 38, no. 122


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C-K3 Knowledge of the Life and Teachings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's station as the Center of Bah'u'llah's Covenant and as the Perfect Exemplar is an essential topic for children's spiritual education.

He is, and should for all time be regarded, first and foremost, as the Center and Pivot of Bahá'u'lláh's peerless and all-enfolding Covenant, His most exalted handiwork, the stainless Mirror of His light, the perfect Exemplar of His teachings, the unerring Interpreter of His Word, the embodiment of every Bahá'í ideal, the incarnation of every Bahá'í virtue, the Most Mighty Branch sprung from the Ancient Root, the Limb of the Law of God, the Being "round Whom all names revolve," the Mainspring of the Oneness of Humanity, the Ensign of the Most Great Peace, the Moon of the Central Orb of this most holy Dispensation--styles and titles that are implicit and find their truest, their highest and fairest expression in the magic name `Abdu'l-Bahá. He is, above and beyond these appellations, the "Mystery of God"--an expression by which Bahá'u'lláh Himself has chosen to designate Him, and which, while it does not by any means justify us to assign to Him the station of Prophethood, indicates how in the person of `Abdu'l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.

—Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 134

They have upon their shoulders all the responsibilities for the progress of the Movement; it is our duty to rear their spiritual feelings, enlighten their hearts with the light of guidance which has been shed before us by the Master.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 14, no. 34


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C-K4 Knowledge of the Covenant and the Bahá'í Administrative Order. Children need to understand the Bahá'í Administrative Order as a vital expression of the Covenant in action.

The deepening and enrichment of the spiritual life of the individual believer, his increasing comprehension of the essential verities underlying his Faith, his training in its administrative processes, his understanding of the fundamentals of the Covenants established by the Author and the authorized Interpreter of its teachings should be made the supreme objectives of the national representatives responsible for the edification, the progress and consolidation of these communities.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 25, no. 86

C-K5 Knowledge of Progressive Revelation. Such knowledge includes the lives and teachings of the Manifestations of God and knowledge of the sacred texts and the history of the world's major religions.

Beware, O believers in the Unity of God, lest ye be tempted to make any distinction between any of the Manifestations of His Cause, or to discriminate against the signs that have accompanied and proclaimed their Revelation. This indeed is the true meaning of Divine Unity, if ye be of them that apprehend and believe this truth.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 59

Contemplate with thine inward eye the chain of successive Revelations that hath linked the Manifestation of Adam with that of the Báb.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 74

Such stories [as those in The Dawn-Breakers] regarding the life of different prophets together with their sayings will also be useful to better understand the literature of the Cause for there is constant reference to them. It is however the work of experienced
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people to bring together such materials and make of them interesting text books for the children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 130 [Digital ed. note - no. 111]

God sent His Prophets into the world to teach and enlighten man, to explain to him the mystery of the Power of the Holy Spirit, to enable him to reflect the light, and so in his turn, to be the source of guidance to others. The Heavenly Books, the Bible, the Qur'án, and the other Holy Writings have been given by God as guides into the paths of Divine virtue, love, justice and peace.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 61-62

C-K6 Knowledge of Divine Proofs is an essential part of learning that enables children to develop certitude.

In this day there is nothing more important than the instruction and study of clear proofs and convincing, heavenly arguments, for therein lie the source of life and the path of salvation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 9, no. 31

You must come into the knowledge of the divine Manifestations and Their teachings through proofs and evidences. You must unseal the mysteries of the supreme Kingdom and become capable of discovering the inner realities of things. Then shall you be the manifestations of the mercy of God and true believers, firm and steadfast in the Cause of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 227-28

It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in faith, the reason being that a child who removeth himself from the religion of God will not act in such a way as to win the good pleasure of his parents and his Lord. For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the child will not turn away from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 12


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The method of instruction you have devised, namely, to begin by proving the existence and oneness of God, the Lord of Eternity, then to establish the validity of the mission proclaimed by the prophets and messengers, and finally to explain the signs, the marvels and wonders of the universe, is highly acceptable and you should proceed accordingly. Confirmations from the Lord of Glory will assuredly be vouchsafed. Memorizing the texts of the holy Tablets, and of perspicuous words and statements is highly praiseworthy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 9, no. 32

C-K7 Knowledge of the Laws and Principles of Religion is an essential aspect of the spiritual education of children. Such knowledge requires studying the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, which is the principal repository of the laws and ordinances of Bahá'u'lláh and the Mother Book of His Dispensation.

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68

We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 26

The subjects to be taught in children's school are many, and for lack of time We can touch on only a few: First and most important is training in behaviour and good character; the rectification of qualities; arousing the desire to become accomplished and acquire perfections, and to cleave unto the religion of God and stand firm in His Laws: to accord total obedience to every just government, to show forth loyalty and trustworthiness to the ruler of the time, to be well wishers of mankind, to be kind to all.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 80


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C-K8 Knowledge of the Major Principles of the Bahá'í Faith. There are many spiritual and social principles within the Faith that every child needs to study and understand.

The principles of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh should be carefully studied, one by one, until they are realized and understood by mind and heart. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 22

There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of governments and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them.

—The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, p. 28

Some of the key principles are

  • The Oneness of God
  • The Oneness of Humanity
  • The Need for the Elimination of Prejudice
  • The Equality of Women and Men
  • The Need for a Universal Language
  • The Need for Compulsory Education for All
  • The Need for Spiritual Solutions to Economic Problems
  • The Harmony of Science and Religion
  • The Independent Investigation of Truth

C-K9 Knowledge of the Oneness of God is of foremost importance for the proper education and training of children.

That which is of paramount importance for the children, that which must precede all else, is to teach them
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the oneness of God and the laws of God. For lacking this, the fear of God cannot be inculcated, and lacking the fear of God an infinity of odious and abominable actions will spring up, and sentiments will be uttered that transgress all bounds. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 3-4, no. 14

The first Tajallí which hath dawned from the Day-Star of Truth is the knowledge of God--exalted be His glory. And the knowledge of the King of everlasting days can in no wise be attained save by recognizing Him Who is the Bearer of the Most Great Name. He is, in truth, the Speaker on Sinai Who is now seated upon the throne of Revelation. He is the Hidden Mystery and the Treasured Symbol. All the former and latter Books of God are adorned with His praise and extol His glory. Through Him the standard of knowledge hath been planted in the world and the ensign of the oneness of God hath been unfurled amidst all peoples.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 50

C-K10 Knowledge of the Oneness of Humanity and the Importance of the Abolition of All Prejudices. This includes the knowledge that Bahá'u'lláh is the One appointed by God to establish the oneness of humanity. Children must also become aware that our consciousness of this prime principle is the basis of all human virtues and the pivot around which all the other teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve. It includes teaching children the concept of world citizenship and the abolition of all prejudices.


When delivering the glad tidings, speak out and say: the Promised One of all the world's peoples hath now been made manifest. For each and every people, and every religion, await a Promised One, and Bahá'u'lláh is that One Who is awaited by all; and therefore the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh will bring about the oneness of mankind. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 101

The principle of the Oneness of Mankind—the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve—is no mere outburst of ignorant emotionalism or an expression of vague and pious hope. . . . Its message is applicable not only to the individual, but concerns itself primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind
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all the states and nations as members of one human family.

—Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 42-43

Service to the oneness of the world of humanity; so that each student may consciously realize that he is a brother to all mankind, irrespective of religion or race. The thoughts of universal peace must be instilled into the minds of all the scholars, in order that they may become the armies of peace, the real servants of the body politic—the world. God is the Father of all. Mankind are His children. This globe is one home. Nations are the members of one family. The mothers in their homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the college, the presidents in the universities, must teach these ideals to the young from the cradle up to the age of manhood.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9 no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), p. 98

Naught but the celestial potency of the Word of God, which ruleth and transcendeth the realities of all things, is capable of harmonizing the divergent thoughts, sentiments, ideas, and convictions of the children of men.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, 14.5 (p. 95, 1977 ed.)

In keeping with the requirements of the times, consideration should also be given to teaching the concept of world citizenship as part of the standard education of every child. . . .

Acceptance of the oneness of mankind is the first fundamental prerequisite for reorganization and administration of the world as one country, the home of humankind. Universal acceptance of this spiritual principle is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace. It should therefore be universally proclaimed, taught in schools, and constantly asserted in every nation as preparation for the organic change in the structure of society which it implies.

—The Universal House of Justice, The Promise of World Peace, pp. 27-29

There is need of a superior power to overcome human prejudices, a power which nothing in the world of mankind
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can withstand and which will overshadow the effect of all other forces at work in human conditions. That irresistible power is the love of God. It is my hope and prayer that it may destroy the prejudice of this one point of distinction between you and unite you all permanently under its hallowed protection. Bahá'u'lláh has proclaimed the oneness of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 68

When we review history from the beginning down to the present day, we find that strife and warfare have prevailed throughout the human world. Wars—religious, racial or political—have arisen from human ignorance, misunderstanding and lack of education.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 116

Bahá'u'lláh tells us that prejudice in its various forms destroys the edifice of humanity. We are adjured by the Divine Messenger to eliminate all forms of prejudice from our lives. Our outer lives must show forth our beliefs. The world must see that, regardless of each passing whim or current fashion of the generality of mankind, the Bahá'í lives his life according to the tenets of his Faith. We must not allow the fear of rejection by our friends and neighbors to deter us from our goal: to live the Bahá'í life. Let us strive to blot out from our lives every last trace of prejudice—racial, religious, political, economic, national, tribal, class, cultural, and that which is based on differences of education or age. We shall be distinguished from our non-Bahá'í associates if our lives are adorned with this principle.

If we allow prejudice of any kind to manifest itself in us, we shall be guilty before God of causing a setback to the progress and real growth of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It is incumbent upon every believer to endeavor with a fierce determination to eliminate this defect from his thoughts and acts. It is the duty of the institutions of the Faith to inculcate this principle in the hearts of the friends through every means at their disposal including summer schools, conferences, institutes and study classes.


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The fundamental purpose of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is the realization of the organic unity of the entire human race. Bearing this glorious destiny in mind, and with entire reliance on the promises of the Blessed Beauty, we should follow His exhortation:

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.

—The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1968-1973, pp. 99-100

C-K11 Knowledge of the Principle of the Equality of Women and Men. This principle is crucial to establishing peace. It must be demonstrated in the family, the classroom, and the community.

He [Bahá'u'lláh] promulgated the adoption of the same course of education for man and woman. Daughters and sons must follow the same curriculum of study, thereby promoting unity of the sexes. When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. . . . There is no doubt that when women obtain equality of rights, war will entirely cease among mankind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 175

C-K12 Knowledge of the Need for a Universal Language. Children need to be aware of the full meaning and implications of this principle of Bahá'u'lláh.

It beseemeth . . . the . . . officials of the Government to convene a gathering and choose one of the divers languages, and likewise one of the existing scripts, or else to create a new language and a new script to be taught children in schools throughout the world. They would, in this way, be acquiring only two languages, one their own native tongue, the other the language in which all the
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peoples of the world would converse.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 138

C-K13 Knowledge of the Important Problems and Needs of Our Time. To become informed world citizens who are aware of the challenges facing their generation, children need a broad education that informs them about the human condition.

The primary, the most urgent requirement is the promotion of education. It is inconceivable that any nation should achieve prosperity and success unless this paramount, this fundamental concern is carried forward. The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of the time.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 109

The world is undoubtedly facing a great crisis and the social, economic and political conditions are becoming daily more complex. Should the friends desire to take the lead in reforming the world, they should start by educating themselves and understand what the troubles and problems really are which baffle the mind of man.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 2, no. 3

C-K14 Knowledge of the Importance of Education, including knowledge of the importance of studying arts, crafts, and sciences.

Let the loved ones of God, whether young or old, whether male or female, each according to his capabilities, bestir themselves and spare no efforts to acquire the various current branches of knowledge, both spiritual and secular, and of the arts.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 9, no. 30

Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26


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C-K15 Knowledge of the Importance of Balance in one's physical, intellectual, and spiritual education.

Being a Bahá'í you are certainly aware of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh considered education as one of the most fundamental factors of a true civilization. This education, however, in order to be adequate and fruitful, should be comprehensive in nature and should take into consideration not only the physical and the intellectual side of man but also his spiritual and ethical aspects. This should be the programme of the Bahá'í youth all over the world.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 52, no. 128

C-K16 Knowledge of the Principle of Work as Devotion to God is an important aspect of children's spiritual education.

Ye are the trees of My garden; ye must give forth goodly and wondrous fruits, that ye yourselves and others may profit therefrom. Thus it is incumbent on every one to engage in crafts and professions, for therein lies the secret of wealth, O men of understanding!

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 80

All humanity must obtain a livelihood by sweat of the brow and bodily exertion, at the same time seeking to lift the burden of others, striving to be the source of comfort to souls and facilitating the means of living. This in itself is devotion to God. Bahá'u'lláh has thereby encouraged action and stimulated service. But the energies of the heart must not be attached to these things; the soul must not be completely occupied with them. Though the mind is busy, the heart must be attracted toward the Kingdom of God in order that the virtues of humanity may be attained from every direction and source.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 187

SUMMARY
Both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi refer to specific areas of knowledge that should be included in the child's spiritual education curriculum. Of primary importance is the knowledge of the

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oneness of God and the laws of God. The sacred texts are primary sources for knowledge of the Cause of God. Memorization of such texts is highly praiseworthy, especially when their meaning is translated into action.
For the purposes of the Core Curriculum we have adopted a narrow definition of the term "knowledge." However, from a Bahá'í perspective, knowledge is more than the result of acquiring facts and information about various subjects, whether Bahá'í or secular. The acquisition of knowledge, in its fullest sense, involves the study and comprehension of "the secret of all things even as they are,"5 as 'Abdu'l-Bahá explains. Knowledge is incomplete until it is transformed into actions that benefit humanity. 'Abdu'l-Bahá states that "Knowledge is love."6 Teachers, parents, and children are urged to acquire this deeper understanding that manifests itself in deeds and words.

WISDOM

The Great Being saith: The man of consummate learning and the sage endowed with penetrating wisdom are the two eyes to the body of mankind. God willing, the earth shall never be deprived of these two greatest gifts.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 171

It is the longing desire of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to see each one of you accounted as the foremost professor in the academies, and in the school of inner significances, each one becoming a leader in wisdom.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 141

C-W1 Understanding the Station of Bahá'u'lláh and the Significance of His Revelation. From birth, infants must begin learning from their mothers about God and His Manifestations.

Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the


5. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71].
6. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Bertha Hyde Patrick, "Teach Us to Pray," in Star of the West, vol. 20, no. 10 (Jan. 1930), p. 314.

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Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace — such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79

To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's stupendous Revelation must, it is my unalterable conviction, remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavor of each one of its loyal adherents.

—Shoghi Effendi, World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 100

C-W2 What it Means to be a Bahá'í must be deeply understood by the minds and hearts of children.

The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth. Every child must be trained in the things of the spirit, so that he may embody all the virtues and become a source of glory to the Cause of God. Otherwise, the mere word "Bahá'í", if it yield no fruit, will come to nothing.

Strive then to the best of thine ability to let these children know that a Bahá'í is one who embodieth all the perfections, that he must shine out like a lighted taper—not be darkness upon darkness and yet bear the name "Bahá'í".

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

A Bahai child must be trained according to the moral precepts of Baha'o'llah, he must be taught daily of the love of God: the history of the Movement must be read to him, the love of humanity must be inculcated

into every fibre of his being and the universal principles be explained to him
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in as easy a manner as possible to be devised.

—Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Necessity of Education—Training of the Children: Words of Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha," in Star of the West, vol. 7, no. 15 (Dec. 12, 1916), p. 143

O army of God! Through the protection and help vouchsafed by the Blessed Beauty—may my life be a sacrifice to His loved ones—ye must conduct yourselves in such a manner that ye may stand out distinguished and brilliant as the sun among other souls. Should any one of you enter a city, he should become a centre of attraction by reason of his sincerity, his faithfulness and love, his honesty and fidelity, his truthfulness and loving-kindness towards all the peoples of the world, so that the people of that city may cry out and say: `This man is unquestionably a Bahá'í, for his manners, his behaviour, his conduct, his morals, his nature, and disposition reflect the attributes of the Bahá'ís.' Not until ye attain this station can ye be said to have been faithful to the Covenant and Testament of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 70-71

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 and who live according to His great laws laid down for this new epoch in man's development. To call ourselves Bahá'ís is not enough, our inmost being must become ennobled and enlightened through living a Bahá'í life.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Living the Life, p. 21

C-W3 Understanding the Importance of Prayer and the Power of Divine Assistance as a source of strength, spirituality, and enlightenment.

Gather ye together with the utmost joy and fellowship and recite the verses revealed by the merciful Lord. By so doing the doors to true knowledge will be opened to your inner beings, and ye will then feel your souls endowed with steadfastness and your hearts filled with radiant joy.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 2, no. 6


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O maid-servant of God! Chant the Words of God and, pondering over their meaning, transform them into actions!

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 85

C-W4 Understanding the Spiritual Significance of Bahá'í Gatherings, including the Nineteen Day Feast, is an important part of children's early education.

The House of Justice has instructed us to say that children should be trained to understand the spiritual significance of the gatherings of the followers of the Blessed Beauty, and to appreciate the honour and bounty of being able to take part in them, whatever their outward form may be.

—On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in Stirring of the Spirit, p. 29, no. 63

C-W5 Understanding the Meaning and Purpose of True Education. Children need to understand that the purpose of acquiring divine perfections is to prepare one's soul for life after death and that this process is not dependent upon human learning.

The Prophets and Messengers of God have been sent down for the sole purpose of guiding mankind to the straight Path of Truth. The purpose underlying Their revelation hath been to educate all men, that they may, at the hour of death, ascend, in the utmost purity and sanctity and with absolute detachment, to the throne of the Most High.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 156-57

Human education signifies civilization and progress— that is to say, government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished from the animal.

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man becomes the focus of
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divine blessings, the manifestation of the words, "Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness." This is the goal of the world of humanity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 8

The understanding of His [God's] words and the comprehension of the utterances of the Birds of Heaven are in no wise dependent upon human learning. They depend solely upon purity of heart, chastity of soul, and freedom of spirit.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, p. 211

C-W6 Understanding the Purpose of Education and the Station of the Teacher. Not only should children come to understand the purpose of education both for the individual and for humanity, but children should be taught from early childhood to love and respect their teachers' high station.

Man is the supreme Talisman. Lack of a proper education hath, however, deprived him of that which he doth inherently possess. . . . Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 259-260

Blessed is that teacher who shall arise to instruct the children, and to guide the people into the pathways of God, the Bestower, the Well-Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 28 [Digital ed. note - no. 25]

O people of God! Righteous men of learning who dedicate themselves to the guidance of others and are freed and well guarded from the promptings of a base and covetous nature are, in the sight of Him Who is the Desire of the world, stars of the heaven of true knowledge. It is essential to treat them with deference. They are indeed fountains of soft-flowing water, stars that shine resplendent, fruits of the blessed Tree, exponents of celestial power, and oceans of heavenly wisdom. Happy is he that followeth them. Verily such a soul is numbered in the Book
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of God, the Lord of the mighty Throne, among those with whom it shall be well.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 96-97

C-W7 Understanding the Self. Children need to acquire self-knowledge and understand the importance of assuming responsibility for their own spiritual development.

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 34-35

Great is the station of man. Great must also be his endeavours for the rehabilitation of the world and the well-being of nations. I beseech the One true God to graciously confirm thee in that which beseemeth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 174

C-W8 Understanding the True Meaning and Purpose of Distinction and the need to strive for excellence is necessary so that children may realize their spiritual potential in adulthood.

I desire distinction for you. The Bahá'ís 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 I 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
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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.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 190

C-W9 Understanding Future Responsibilities. Children need to be given opportunities to understand their mission in life.

Instil . . . in every Bahá'í child, the sense of his unique opportunities and future responsibilities in the great task that awaits him in future. . .

Impress upon their hearts the vital necessity of establishing, now, whilst in their tender age, a firm foundation for their mission in life.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 49, no. 120 [Digital ed. note - no. 102]

C-W10 Understanding the Importance of Moderation. As children mature, they need to learn the wisdom of moderation as it applies to individual endeavor and behavior and to civilization itself.

Whatsoever passeth beyond the limits of moderation will cease to exert a beneficial influence.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 216

The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men. Thus warneth you He Who is the All-Knowing. If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 342-43

SUMMARY
True education involves the cultivation of the child's inherent spiritual character, the release of human potential, confirmation of faith, and the achievement of certitude. Without gradually acquiring wisdom, children will be unsuccessful in applying their knowledge of both spiritual and secular subjects, for wisdom allows one to develop goals and pursue them within the context

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of the spiritual meaning of life. Self-understanding equips young people with tools for spiritual growth. It enables them to strive to contribute to "an ever-advancing civilization."7 Wisdom also involves reliance upon God and an understanding of spiritual truth based on consultation and reflection. This allows "the hyacinths of divine wisdom" to "spring from the heart."8

SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION

The Inner and Outer Agents of Perception: The Physical Power and the Intellectual Power

In man five outer powers exist, which are the agents of perception—that is to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible sounds; smell, which perceives odors; taste, which perceives foods; and feeling, which is in all parts of the body and perceives tangible things. These five powers perceive outward existences.

Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things; thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends realities; memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks and comprehends. The intermediary between the five outward powers and the inward powers is the sense which they possess in common—that is to say, the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers and thus is common to the outward and inward powers.

For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power—the common faculty—which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the


7. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 215
8. Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 36.

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power of thought; the power of thought reflects and, having grasped the reality, conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory, and the memory keeps it in its repository.

The outward powers are five: the power of sight, of hearing, of taste, of smell and of feeling.

The inner powers are also five: the common faculty, and the powers of imagination, thought, comprehension and memory.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 210-11

Let them [the children] make the greatest progress in the shortest span of time, let them open wide their eyes and uncover the inner realities of all things, become proficient in every art and skill, and learn to comprehend the secrets of all things even as they are — this faculty being one of the clearly evident effects of servitude to the Holy Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 28-29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

C-SP1 Discovering One's Purpose in Life. Children need to recognize their purpose in life at an early age.

We cherish the hope that through the loving-kindness of the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, obscuring dust may be dispelled and the power of perception enhanced, that the people may discover the purpose for which they have been called into being. In this Day whatsoever serveth to reduce blindness and to increase vision is worthy of consideration.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 35

"Will is the center or focus of human understanding. We must will to know God, just as we must will in order to possess the life He has given us. The human will must be subdued and trained into the Will of God. It is a great power to have a strong will, but a greater power to give that will to God. The will is what we do, the understanding is what we know. Will and understanding must be one in the Cause of God. Intention brings attainment."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Julia M. Grundy, Ten Days in the Light of 'Akká, p. 31


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C-SP2 Perceiving the Importance of Vision and High Aims in the Process of Goal Setting.

At the outset of every endeavour, it is incumbent to look to the end of it.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 168

They must be constantly encouraged and made eager to gain all the summits of human accomplishment, so that from their earliest years they will be taught to have high aims, to conduct themselves well, to be chaste, pure, and undefiled, and will learn to be of powerful resolve and firm of purpose in all things. Let them not jest and trifle, but earnestly advance unto their goals, so that in every situation they will be found resolute and firm.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 33, no. 81 [Digital ed. note - no. 78]

C-SP3 Discerning the Difference between Divine and Satanic Knowledge. Education should enable the learner to discern between divine and satanic knowledge.

Know verily that Knowledge is of two kinds: Divine and Satanic. The one welleth out from the fountain of divine inspiration; the other is but a reflection of vain and obscure thoughts. The source of the former is God Himself; the motive-force of the latter the whisperings of selfish desire. The one is guided by the principle: "Fear ye God; God will teach you;" the other is but a confirmation of the truth: "Knowledge is the most grievous veil between man and his Creator." The former bringeth forth the fruit of patience, of longing desire, of true understanding, and love; whilst the latter can yield naught but arrogance, vainglory and conceit. From the sayings of those Masters of holy utterance, Who have expounded the meaning of true knowledge, the odour of these dark teachings, which have obscured the world, can in no wise be detected. The tree of such teachings can yield no result except iniquity and rebellion, and beareth no fruit but hatred and envy. Its fruit is deadly poison; its shadow a consuming fire. How well hath it been said: "Cling unto the robe of the Desire of thy heart, and put thou away all shame; bid
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the worldlywise be gone, however great their name."

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 69-70

C-SP4 Instilling the Love and Fear of God in children is essential for their spiritual growth.

Let them [the mothers] strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 125

Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 127

From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

"The fear of God hath ever been the prime factor in the education of His creatures. Well is it with them that have attained thereunto!"

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27

"The fear of God hath ever been a sure defence and a safe stronghold for all the peoples of the world. It is the chief cause of the protection of mankind, and the supreme instrument for its preservation."

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27

C-SP5 Perceiving the Meaning of True Liberty. Children need to gain a clear understanding of the relationship between "freedom" and submission to God's Laws.

Consider the pettiness of men's minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. . . .

. . . Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal. That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from
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his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 335-36

Say: True liberty consisteth in man's submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. . . . Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 336

C-SP6 Perceiving the Importance of Developing Spiritual Characteristics. Children need to grasp the importance of developing one's spiritual and moral character.

He [the child] should develop spiritual characteristics and the praiseworthy virtues of humankind. This is the primary consideration. If a person be unlettered, and yet clothed with divine excellence, and alive in the breaths of the Spirit, that individual will contribute to the welfare of society, and his inability to read and write will do him no harm. And if a person be versed in the arts and every branch of knowledge, and not live a religious life, and not take on the characteristics of God, and not be directed by a pure intent, and be engrossed in the life of the flesh—then he is harm personified, and nothing will come of all his learning and intellectual accomplishments but scandal and torment.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 32, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

These schools for academic studies must . . . be training centres in behaviour and conduct, and they must favour character and conduct above the sciences and arts. Good behaviour and high moral character must come first, for unless the character be trained, acquiring knowledge will only prove injurious. Knowledge is praiseworthy when
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it is coupled with ethical conduct and virtuous character; otherwise it is a deadly poison, a frightful danger.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

C-SP7 Perceiving the Mysteries in the Sacred Writings. From early childhood, children must be encouraged to ponder and reflect on the mysteries contained in the holy writings and to seek an ever-deeper comprehension of their meaning.

The attainment of the most great guidance is dependent upon knowledge and wisdom, and on being informed as to the mysteries of the Holy Words.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 8, no. 30 [Digital ed. note - no. 27]

The friends must direct their attention toward the education and training of all the children . . . so that all of them, having, in the school of true learning, achieved the power of understanding and come to know the inner realities of the universe, will go on to uncover the signs and mysteries of God, and will find themselves illumined by the lights of the knowledge of the Lord, and by His love. This truly is the very best way to educate all peoples.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 28, no. 73 [Digital ed. note - no. 70]

C-SP8 Perceiving the Importance of Chastity and Purity. Shoghi Effendi's clear and unambiguous definition of the Bahá'í concept of chastity implies that the foundation for a chaste and holy life must be laid in early childhood.

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

—Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 30


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As to chastity, this is one of the most challenging concepts to get across in this very permissive age, but Bahá'ís must make the utmost effort to uphold Bahá'í standards, no matter how difficult they may seem at first. Such efforts will be made easier if the youth will understand that the laws and standards of the Faith are meant to free them from untold spiritual and moral difficulties in the same way that a proper appreciation of the laws of nature enables one to live in harmony with the forces of the planet.

—On behalf of the Universal House of Justice, in A Chaste and Holy Life, p. 2, no. 4

Wings that are besmirched with mire can never soar.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 131

C-SP9 Perceiving the Relationship Between Physical Cleanliness and Spirituality. Children need to know that personal cleanliness has an effect on spiritual growth.

Although bodily cleanliness is a physical thing, it hath, nevertheless, a powerful influence on the life of the spirit.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 147

C-SP10 Perceiving the Divine Nature of the Fund. Children's Bahá'í identity and appreciation of the meaning of sacrifice will be fostered by participation in and education about the Bahá'í Fund.

Set firm their feet on Thy straight path, and out of Thine ancient bounty open before them the portals of Thy blessings; for they are expending on Thy pathway what Thou hast bestowed upon them, safeguarding Thy Faith, putting their trust in their remembrance of Thee, offering up their hearts for love of Thee, and withholding not what they possess in adoration for Thy Beauty and in their search for ways to please Thee.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Prayers, pp. 84-85

Any Bahá'í can give to the Cause's Funds, adult or child. No statement is required on this subject; Bahá'í
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children have always given to the Cause, everywhere.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 60, no. 155 [Digital ed. note - no. 137]

C-SP11 Perceiving the Bounty of Huqúqu'lláh. Children who grow up with an ever-deepening desire to obey this great Law will also enjoy the blessings promised to those who do so.9

Say: O people, the first duty is to recognize the one true God — magnified be his Glory — the second is to show forth constancy in His Cause and, after these, one's duty is to purify one's riches and earthly possessions according to that which is prescribed by God.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Huqúqu'lláh, p. 11, no. 31

As to the Huqúqu'lláh: This is the source of blessings, and the mainspring of God's loving-kindness and tender love vouchsafed unto men.3

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Huqúqu'lláh, p. 10, no. 29

C-SP12 Perceiving One's Relationship to the Environment. The spiritual education of children must enable them to discern the complex, interdependent relationship between humanity and the world of nature.

Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected with every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit of no imbalance, nor any slackening whatever.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 157

Every man of discernment, while walking upon the earth, feeleth indeed abashed, inasmuch as he is fully aware


9. In a letter dated July 18, 1988, to the National Bahá'í Education Committee of the United States, the Board of Trustees of Huqúqu'lláh said it was "hopeful that somehow education of Bahá'í youth and children in the sacred law of Huqúqu'lláh" would begin "at their regular Sunday schools, deepening sessions, and in particular, their home environment. Therefore education of children and youth is interrelated with the depth of knowledge and understanding of their parents and as to what extent the laws of our Faith have been followed in Bahá'í families."

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that the thing which is the source of his prosperity, his wealth, his might, his exaltation, his advancement and power is, as ordained by God, the very earth which is trodden beneath the feet of all men. There can be no doubt that whoever is cognizant of this truth, is cleansed and sanctified from all pride, arrogance, and vainglory.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 44

We cannot segregate the human heart from the environment outside us and say that once one of these is reformed everything will be improved. Man is organic with the world. His inner life moulds the environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of man is the result of these mutual reactions.

No movement in the world directs its attention upon both these aspects of human life and has full measures for their improvement, save the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Conservation of the Earth's Resources, p. 15

C-SP13 Perceiving the Importance of Kindness to Animals. Education about the world of nature must encourage kindness toward animals.

Educate the children in their infancy in such a way that they may become exceedingly kind and merciful to the animals.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Pattern of Bahá'í Life, p. 24

SUMMARY
To develop spiritual perception, children must be trained by parents and teachers to use insight and vision to perceive the beauty of God, to hear His melodies, to inhale His fragrances, to taste the sweetness of servitude in His path, and to develop spiritual susceptibilities and purity of heart and mind. Thus their relationships with their material, social, and spiritual environments become integrated, guided, and inspired by an ever-growing spiritual perception, as described by Bahá'u'lláh.
Thine eye is My trust, suffer not the dust of vain desires to becloud its luster. Thine ear is a

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sign of My bounty, let not the tumult of unseemly motives turn it away from My Word that encompasseth all creation. Thine heart is My treasury, allow not the treacherous hand of self to rob thee of the pearls which I have treasured therein. Thine hand is a symbol of My loving-kindness, hinder it not from holding fast unto My guarded and hidden Tablets....10

ELOQUENT SPEECH

No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. . . . Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 172

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 166

Guidance hath ever been given by words, and now it is given by deeds. Every one must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones. Strive then with heart and soul to distinguish yourselves by your deeds. In this wise We counsel you in this holy and resplendent tablet.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 76

Say: Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds. Strive that ye may be enabled to manifest to the peoples of the earth the signs of God, and to mirror forth His commandments. Let your acts be a guide unto all mankind, for the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct. It is through your deeds that ye can distinguish yourselves from others. Through them the brightness of


10. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 322.

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your light can be shed upon the whole earth. Happy is the man that heedeth My counsel, and keepeth the precepts prescribed by Him Who is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 305

O ye two well-loved handmaids of God! Whatever a man's tongue speaketh, that let him prove by his deeds. If he claimeth to be a believer, then let him act in accordance with the precepts of the Abha Kingdom.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can insure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 37, no. 117

C-ES1 The Importance of Recitation of the Holy Writings, both to children and by them, is emphasized in the sacred texts.

Teach unto your children the words that have been sent down from God, that they may recite them in the sweetest of tones. This standeth revealed in a mighty Book.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 23 [Digital ed. note - no. 21 with a different translation]

Teach your children the verses revealed from the heaven of majesty and power, so that, in most melodious tones, they may recite the Tablets of the All-Merciful in the alcoves within the Mashriqu'l-Adhkárs. Whoever hath been transported by the rapture born of adoration for My Name, the Most Compassionate, will recite the verses of God in such wise as to captivate the hearts of those yet wrapped in slumber.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶150

The Sunday school for the children in which the Tablets and Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are read, and the Word of God is recited for the children is indeed a blessed thing. Thou must certainly continue this organized activity without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of
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the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be educated by these verses of guidance.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

C-ES2 Using the Power of Speech Effectively. Children from their earliest years need to learn the purpose of words and their proper use.

No man of wisdom can demonstrate his knowledge save by means of words. . . . Moreover words and utterances should be both impressive and penetrating. However, no word will be infused with these two qualities unless it be uttered wholly for the sake of God and with due regard unto the exigencies of the occasion and the people.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 172

C-ES3 The Importance of Eloquence. Children need to be enabled to develop clear and cogent speech.

Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

Shoghi Effendi was very interested to hear of the plans you are making for the education of your children. He hopes that they will all grow to be ardent adherents of the Bahá'í Cause, able servants of the Blessed Threshold, and eloquent speakers on religious and social subjects.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 51, no. 126 [Digital ed. note - no. 106]

We had heard through various channels the wonderful way your children had grown to speak about the Cause in public. Shoghi Effendi's hope is that they will . . . become
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able and devoted speakers on the Cause and subjects akin to it.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 51, no. 127 [Digital ed. note - no. 107]

C-ES4 Awareness of the Affective Power of Speech. Children need to become aware of the effects their words and deeds have upon the hearts and lives of others.

A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 289

Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 172-73

C-ES5 Using the Power of Action. Children need to understand how true learning and thought are manifested not through words, but in action.

Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they
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remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 18

His [Shoghi Effendi's] brotherly advice to you, and to all loyal and ardent young believers like you, is that you should deepen your knowledge of the history and the tenets of the Faith, not merely by means of careful and thorough study, but also through active, whole-hearted and continued participation in all the activities, whether administrative or otherwise, of your community. The Bahá'í community life provides you with an indispensable laboratory where you can translate into living and constructive action, the principles which you imbibe from the teachings. By becoming a real part of that living organism you can catch the real spirit which runs throughout the Bahá'í teachings. To study the principles, and to try to live according to them, are, therefore, the two essential mediums through which you can insure the development and progress of your inner spiritual life and of your outer existence as well. May Bahá'u'lláh enable you to attain this high station, and may He keep the torch of faith forever burning in your hearts!

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, pp. 36-37, no. 117

C-ES6 Demonstrating Spiritual Qualities. Children need to be trained lovingly to demonstrate good manners and praiseworthy virtues.

As to thy question concerning training children: It is incumbent upon thee to nurture them from the breast of the love of God, to urge them towards spiritual matters, to turn unto God and to acquire good manners, best characteristics and praiseworthy virtues and qualities in the world of humanity, and to study sciences with the utmost diligence; so that they may become spiritual, heavenly and attracted to the fragrances of sanctity from their childhood and be reared in a religious, spiritual and heavenly training.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 87

We, verily, have chosen courtesy, and made it the true mark of such as are nigh unto Him. Courtesy is, in truth, a
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raiment which fitteth all men, whether young or old. Well is it with him that adorneth his temple therewith, and woe unto him who is deprived of this great bounty.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 50

O people of God! I admonish you to observe courtesy, for above all else it is the prince of virtues. Well is it with him who is illumined with the light of courtesy and is attired with the vesture of uprightness. Whoso is endued with courtesy hath indeed attained a sublime station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 88

The Guardian has urged, over and over again, the paramount necessity for Bahá'í Youth to exemplify the Teachings, most particularly the moral aspect of them. If they are not distinguished for their high conduct they cannot expect other young people to take the Cause very seriously.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in A Chaste and Holy Life, p. 16, no. 45

C-ES7 Service to the World of Humanity is an Essential Element of Bahá'í Education. Because service to the world of humanity is the highest station to which a person can aspire, spiritual education programs must have service to the world of humanity as both a foundation and outcome.

Service to the world of humanity should be obligatory. Every student should know, with perfect certainty, that he is the brother of the people of all religions and nations and that he should be without religious, racial, national, patriotic or political bias, so that he may find the thoughts of universal peace and the love of humankind firmly established in his heart. He should know himself as a servant of human society of all the countries in the world. He should see God as the Heavenly Father and all the servants, as his children, counting all of the nations, parties and sects as one family. The mothers in the homes, the teachers in the schools, the professors in the universities, and the leaders in the lofty gatherings, must cause these thoughts to be penetrative and effective, as the spirit,
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circulating in the veins and nerves of the children and pupils, so that the world of humanity may be delivered from the calamities of fanaticism, war, battle, hate and obstinacy, and so that the nether world may become the paradise of heaven.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Star of the West vol. 17, no. 5 (Aug. 1926), p. 161

C-ES8 Empowering Young Teachers of the Faith. The best way to encourage children to demonstrate their knowledge of the Faith and to serve humanity is for parents and teachers to give them opportunities to participate in teaching the Faith.

Among these children many blessed souls will arise if they be trained according to the Bahai teaching.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahá'í Methods of Education" in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 8 (Aug. 1, 1918), p. 90

Yea, certain persons shall in this divine dispensation produce heavenly children and such children shall promulgate the teachings of the Beauty of Abha and serve His great Cause. Through a heavenly power and spiritual confirmation they shall be enabled to promote the Word of God and to diffuse the fragrances of God. These children are neither Oriental nor Occidental, neither Asiatic nor American, neither European nor African, but they are of the Kingdom; their native home is heaven and their resort is the Kingdom of Abha. This is but the truth and there is naught after truth save superstitions (or fancy).

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, pp. 647-648

May they all, throughout the reaches of the spirit, learn well of the hidden mysteries; so well that in the Kingdom of the All-Glorious, each one of them, even as a nightingale endowed with speech, will cry out the secrets of the Heavenly Realm, and like unto a longing lover pour forth his sore need and utter want of the Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134


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The Bahá'í youth must be taught how to teach the Cause of God.

—Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21, no. 73

SUMMARY
Clearly, possessing knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual perception will benefit the self and others more when a person is able to speak eloquently and is able to communicate effectivley in both words and deeds. This is especially important in Bahá'í spiritual education since one of its chief aims is to raise up those with a high standard of conduct who are consecrated servants of humanity. Such children are teachers of the Faith who have the capability to teach both by word and by example.
Bahá'í children have the potential to become an "instrument of healing amongst humankind," a "door to entry by troops," a "living creation of God necessary at this very moment for the purposes of God," and a "fruitful source of teachers both for their own generation and even for the deepening of others."11 It is evident that the development of spiritual perception and the ability to speak and act in ways that manifest the spiritual character of one's being are indispensable qualities for accomplishing these tasks.

D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

A child is as a young plant: it will grow in whatever way you train it. If you rear it to be truthful, and kind, and righteous, it will grow straight, it will be fresh and tender, and will flourish. But if not, then from faulty training it will grow bent, and stand awry, and there will be no hope of changing it.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 37, no. 92 [Digital ed. note - no. 85]

O SON OF BOUNTY!

Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom


11. The International Teaching Center, letter dated 5 December 1988 to all Continental Counselors.

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in existence and the essence of all created things.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 29

INTRODUCTION

As suggested by the passage above from the Hidden Words, Bahá'í educators may consider the entire realm of creation as a laboratory in which to pursue the education and training of children. The Bahá'í writings suggest training the character and imparting spiritual knowledge in such a way that the child will internalize spiritual principles and put them into action while also pursuing all other branches of knowledge. The processes of Bahá'í education that are described in the writings are organized, for the Core Curriculum, under the following headings:

Stages of Maturity
Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest
Instructional Methods
Learning Tools
Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline

Stages of Maturity

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

All created things have their degree, or stage, of maturity. The period of maturity in the life of a tree is the time of its fruit bearing. The maturity of a plant is the time of its blossoming and flower. The animal attains a stage of full growth and completeness, and in the human kingdom man reaches his maturity when the lights of intelligence have their greatest power and development.

From the beginning to the end of his life man passes through certain periods, or stages, each of which is marked by certain conditions peculiar to itself. For instance, during the period of childhood his conditions and requirements are characteristic of that degree of intelligence and capacity. After a time he enters the period
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of youth, in which his former conditions and needs are superseded by new requirements applicable to the advance in his degree. His faculties of observation are broadened and deepened; his intelligent capacities are trained and awakened; the limitations and environment of childhood no longer restrict his energies and accomplishments. At last he passes out of the period of youth and enters the stage, or station, of maturity, which necessitates another transformation and corresponding advance in his sphere of life activity. New powers and perceptions clothe him, teaching and training commensurate with his progression occupy his mind, special bounties and bestowals descend in proportion to his increased capacities, and his former period of youth and its conditions will no longer satisfy his matured view and vision.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 438

D-SM1 Infancy. Spiritual education must commence from the beginning of life. During infancy children are to receive bountiful love, begin to understand and practice standards of excellence, and begin their divine education.

Among the safeguards of the Holy Faith is the training of children, and this is among the weightiest of principles in all the Divine Teachings. Thus from the very beginning mothers must rear their infants in the cradle of good morals—for it is the mothers who are the first educators—so that, when the child cometh to maturity, he will prove to be endowed with all the virtues and qualities that are worthy of praise.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 16, no. 42 [Digital ed. note - no. 39]

Exert every effort to educate the children, so that from infancy they will be trained in Bahá'í conduct and the ways of God. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126

Thou didst write as to the children: from the very beginning, the children must receive divine education and must continually be reminded to remember their God. Let the love of God pervade their inmost being, commingled with their mother's milk.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127


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During infancy children are to receive bountiful love, begin to understand and practice standards of excellence, and begin their divine education.

While the children are yet in their infancy feed them from the breast of heavenly grace, foster them in the cradle of all excellence, rear them in the embrace of bounty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 129

Have for them an abundant love and exert thine utmost in training them, so that their being may grow through the milk of the love of God, forasmuch as it is the duty of parents to perfectly and thoroughly train their children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. II, p. 262

The infant, while yet a suckling, must receive Bahá'í training, and the loving spirit of Christ and Bahá'u'lláh must be breathed into him, that he may be reared in accord with the verities of the Gospel and the Most Holy Book.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 19, no. 49 [Digital ed. note - no. 46]

D-SM2 Childhood. The formal education of children should begin when they have developed the ability to make distinctions. Childhood is a period of construction, vigorous growth, and learning. A spiritual education in childhood will lead to the acquisition of spiritual qualities, prosperity, success, preservation from tests, and, ultimately, the security of humanity. Character rectification and development become more difficult after a child reaches puberty.

As to the children: We have directed that in the beginning they should be trained in the observances and laws of religion; and thereafter, in such branches of knowledge as are of benefit, and in commercial pursuits that are distinguished for integrity, and in deeds that will further the victory of God's Cause or will attract some outcome which will draw the believer closer to his Lord.

We beg of God to assist the children of His loved ones and adorn them with wisdom, good conduct, integrity and righteousness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 26


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And when the child hath reached the age where he can make distinctions, let him be placed in a Bahá'í school, in which at the beginning the Holy Texts are recited and religious concepts are taught.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

As to the children: From the age of five their formal education must begin. That is, during the daytime they should be looked after in a place where there are teachers, and should learn good conduct.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

A small child cannot comprehend the laws that govern nature, but this is on account of the immature intellect of that child; when he is grown older and has been educated he too will understand the everlasting truths.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 145

Children are even as a branch that is fresh and green; they will grow up in whatever way ye train them.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 136

My wish is that these children should receive a Bahá'í education, so that they may progress both here and in the Kingdom, and rejoice thy heart.

In a time to come, morals will degenerate to an extreme degree. It is essential that children be reared in the Bahá'í way, that they may find happiness both in this world and the next. If not, they shall be beset by sorrows and troubles, for human happiness is founded upon spiritual behaviour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

As to thy question regarding the education of children: it behoveth thee to nurture them at the breast of the love of God, and urge them onward to the things of the spirit, that they may turn their faces unto God; that their ways may conform to the rules of good conduct and their character be second to none; that they make their own all the graces and praiseworthy qualities of humankind;
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acquire a sound knowledge of the various branches of learning, so that from the very beginning of life they may become spiritual beings, dwellers in the Kingdom, enamoured of the sweet breaths of holiness, and may receive an education religious, spiritual, and of the Heavenly Realm. Verily will I call upon God to grant them a happy outcome in this.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 53-54

D-SM3 Puberty and Youth. The need to impart Bahá'u'lláh's teachings to children at an early age becomes more apparent as the child reaches puberty. This is a time for character refinement through direct experiences that enable the child to become a spiritual youth and a steadfast adults. It is a time of preparation and readiness for increased responsibility. During these youthful years many profound decisions and important efforts are made that forever shape one's life.

It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in
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early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.

Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

You who are at present in your teens, or twenties, must realize that tomorrow, to a large extent, the burden of the Cause will rest on your shoulders; you will have to be the administrators and teachers and scholars of the Faith. Now is the time to prepare yourselves for your future duties.

He [Shoghi Effendi] hopes you will study the teachings deeply, their spiritual, moral, and administrative precepts, and at the same time take as active a part as possible in the life of your respective Bahá'í communities.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, p. 183

The need of our modern youth is for such a type of ethics founded on pure religious faith. Not until these two are rightly combined and brought into full action can there be any hope for the future of the race.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, letter dated 17 April 1936 to Mr. Bernard Gottlieb, in Bahá'í News, no. 104 (Dec. 1936), p. 1

For any person, whether Bahá'í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life's work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry, and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person's future behavior are adopted. These factors present Bahá'í youth with their
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greatest opportunities, their greatest challenges, and their greatest tests—Opportunities to truly apprehend the teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá'í writings. Indeed, the Guardian wrote of the Bahá'í youth that it is they "who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá'í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it."

—The Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, pp. 92-93

D-SM4 Maturity: Realization of Potential. Maturity is the conscious use of the attributes and qualities developed through experience. It is a time when self-knowledge is acquired and inherent moral capabilities are demonstrated. During this stage the individual functions with increasing independence, conscious interdependence, judgment, and responsibility.

The first Taráz and the first effulgence which hath dawned from the horizon of the Mother Book is that man should know his own self and recognize that which leadeth unto loftiness or lowliness, glory or abasement, wealth or poverty. Having attained the stage of fulfilment and reached his maturity, man standeth in need of wealth, and such wealth as he acquireth through crafts or professions is commendable and praiseworthy in the estimation of men of wisdom, and especially in the eyes of servants who dedicate themselves to the education of the world and to the edification of its peoples.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 34-35

God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment
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for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293

It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 250

SUMMARY
The Bahá'í writings offer insight into the characteristics, needs, and requirements of children as they pass through progressive stages of physical, intellectual, and spiritual development. However, the following important statement of 'Abdu'l-Bahá invites us to view each child's development individually and to consider that the child's maturity does not necessarily depend on his or her age:
O thou whose years are few, yet whose mental gifts are many! How many a child, though young in years, is yet mature and sound in judgement! How many an aged person is ignorant and confused! For growth and development depend on one's powers of intellect and reason, not on one's age or length of days.12

Attending to Individual Capacity, Capability, and Interest

D-IN1 Each child's Potential Consists of a Capacity and Capability that is Unique and Inestimable.

Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9 [Digital ed. note - no. 9]


12. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 142.

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The Great Being saith: Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 260

The attainment of the most great guidance is dependent upon knowledge and wisdom, and on being informed as to the mysteries of the Holy Words. Wherefore must the loved ones of God, be they young or old, be they men or women, each one according to his capabilities, strive to acquire the various branches of knowledge, and to increase his understanding of the mysteries of the Holy Books, and his skill in marshalling the divine proofs and evidences.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 8, no. 30 [Digital ed. note - no. 27]

Education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne. Thus is it clearly demonstrated that by their essential nature, minds vary as to their capacity, while education also playeth a great role and exerteth a powerful effect on their development.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 132

Every child without exception must from his earliest years make a thorough study of the art of reading and writing, and according to his own tastes and inclinations and the degree of his capacity and powers, devote extreme diligence to the acquisition of learning. . . .

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 49-50, no. 121 [Digital ed. note - no. 105]


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D-IN2 Teaching Children in Groups. This strategy enables each group to be taught according to its capacity.

The teacher must . . . arrange the children in groups, and instruct each group according to its capacity.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

SUMMARY
The Bahá'í writings indicate that an effective curriculum of instruction will reflect the varied capacities and interests of children in both content and process. It will take into account both individual and group needs and will be guided by the vision that children's capacities are vast and that the purpose of education is the realization of their potential.

Instructional Methods and Learning Tools

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS

D-IM1 Establishing a Loving Environment. Those who educate children must demonstrate great love and kindness and bring joy to the children's hearts. They should be fully aware of the effect of words and deeds on the sensitive hearts of children.

Every word is endowed with a spirit, therefore the speaker or expounder should carefully deliver his words at the appropriate time and place, for the impression which each word maketh is clearly evident and perceptible. The Great Being saith: One word may be likened unto fire, another unto light, and the influence which both exert is manifest in the world. Therefore an enlightened man of wisdom should primarily speak with words as mild as milk, that the children of men may be nurtured and edified thereby and may attain the ultimate goal of human existence which is the station of true understanding and nobility. And likewise He saith: One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behoveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man's station.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 172-73


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O thou spiritual teacher. . . . Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 25, no. 64 [Digital ed. note - no. 61]

The mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness. Thus from the very beginning of life every child will be refreshed by the gentle wafting of the love of God and will tremble with joy at the sweet scent of heavenly guidance. In this lieth the beginning of the process; it is the essential basis of all the rest.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

D-IM2 Direct Use of the Bahá'í Sacred Writings. Direct use of the sacred writings allows children to develop their own understanding of the truths the writings contain. Memorizing prayers and tablets and reciting them by heart in sweet tones is encouraged.

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53

Praised be God, ye two have demonstrated the truth of your words by your deeds, and have won the confirmations of the Lord God. Every day at first light, ye gather the Bahá'í children together and teach them the communes and prayers. This is a most praiseworthy act, and bringeth joy to the children's hearts: that they should, at every morn, turn their faces toward the Kingdom and make mention of the Lord and praise His Name, and in the sweetest of voices, chant and recite.


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These children are even as young plants, and teaching them the prayers is as letting the rain pour down upon them, that they may wax tender and fresh, and the soft breezes of the love of God may blow over them, making them to tremble with joy.

Blessedness awaiteth you, and a fair haven.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

When the children are ready for bed, let the mother read or sing them the Odes of the Blessed Beauty, so that from their earliest years they will be educated by these verses of guidance.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

Choose excerpts from the Sacred Words to be used by the child rather than just something made up. Of course prayer can be purely spontaneous, but many of the sentences and thoughts combined in Bahá'í writings of a devotional nature are easy to grasp, and the revealed Word is endowed with a power of its own.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 58, no. 147 [Digital ed. note - no. 129]

You Bahá'í children and young people have both great privileges and great obligations ahead of you, for your generation will be the ones to help build up a new, better and more beautiful world. . . . You should prepare yourselves for this great task by trying to grasp the true meaning of the teachings and not just merely accepting them as something you are taught. They are like a wonderful new world of thought just beginning to be explored, and when we realize that Bahá'u'lláh has brought teachings and laws for a thousand years to come, we can readily see that each new generation may find some greater meaning in the writings than the ones gone before did.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 59, no. 148 [Digital ed. note - no. 130]

D-IM3 Education Must be Directed Toward the Recognition of God. The process of education should invovle children in discovering and understanding inner realitieis. This includes the realization that all
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learning must be directed toward the Holy Threshold and be undertaken in God's service.

We have decreed, O people, that the highest and last end of all learning be the recognition of Him Who is the Object of all knowledge. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 129

Question: Should children be allowed to read the higher criticism?

'Abdu'l-Bahá: They should first be taught the reality of religion as a foundation. . . . Turn your faces to the Sun of Reality. That Sun has always risen in the East. Find the answer to your questions in your heart. Be as little children. Until the soil is prepared, it cannot receive the benefit of planting.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 213

Let them make the greatest progress in the shortest span of time, let them open wide their eyes and uncover the inner realities of all things, become proficient in every art and skill, and learn to comprehend the secrets of all things even as they are — this faculty being one of the clearly evident effects of servitude to the Holy Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 28-29, no. 74 [Digital ed. note - no. 71]

D-IM4 Educational Activities Must Involve Service to Humanity. Inculcating in the minds and hearts of children the great importance of a true spirit of service to humanity is clearly identified as a central element of every aspect of spiritual education.

One of the most important of undertakings is the education of children, for success and prosperity depend upon service to and worship of God, the Holy, the All-Glorified.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 71 [Digital ed. note - no. 68]

The honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world's multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God
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he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men?

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 2-3

Praise be to God! The medieval ages of darkness have passed away and this century of radiance has dawned, this century wherein the reality of things is becoming evident, wherein science is penetrating the mysteries of the universe, the oneness of the world of humanity is being established, and service to mankind is the paramount motive of all existence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 369

O people of God! Do not busy yourselves in your own concerns; let your thoughts be fixed upon that which will rehabilitate the fortunes of mankind and sanctify the hearts and souls of men.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 86

Let all your striving be for this, to become the source of life and immortality, and peace and comfort and joy, to every human soul, whether one known to you or a stranger, one opposed to you or on your side. . . .

It behoveth the loved ones of the Lord to be the signs and tokens of His universal mercy and the embodiments of His own excelling grace. Like the sun, let them cast their rays upon garden and rubbish heap alike, and even as clouds in spring, let them shed down their rain upon flower and thorn. Let them seek but love and faithfulness, let them not follow the ways of unkindness, let their talk be confined to the secrets of friendship and of peace. Such are the attributes of the righteous, such is the distinguishing mark of those who serve His Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 256-57

D-IM5 Engaging the Mind and the Heart. The Bahá'í teachings are to be understood with both mind and heart—the intellect and the emotions. Effective instructional methods will engage both.


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The principles of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh should be carefully studied, one by one, until they are realized and understood by mind and heart—so will you become strong followers of the light. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 22

D-IM6 Private Study of the Writings. Children must be encouraged to study the Bahá'í writings regularly. This study is not to be limied to short periods of formal instruction; it needs to occur privately, at home.

Definite courses should be given along the different phases of the Bahá'í Faith and in a manner that will stimulate the students to proceed in their studies privately once they return home, for the period of a few days is not sufficient to learn everything. They have to be taught the habit of studying the Cause constantly, for the more we read the Words the more will the truth they contain be revealed to us.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Centers of Bahá'í Learning, p. 8, no. 20

LEARNING TOOLS

D-LT1 Establishing Bonds of Unity and Friendship. Love and genuine fellowship must be cultivated among children.

Let them seek but love and faithfulness, let them not follow the ways of unkindness, let their talk be confined to the secrets of friendship and of peace. Such are the attributes of the righteous, such is the distinguishing mark of those who serve His Threshold.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 257

Its duty [the Magazine of the Children of the Kingdom] is to initiate, promote and mirror forth the various activities of the rising generation throughout the Bahá'í world, to establish and strengthen a bond of true fellowship amongst all the children of `Abdu'l-Bahá whether in the East or in the West, and to unfold to their eyes the vision of a golden future before them.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 49, no. 120 [Digital ed. note - no. 102]


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D-LT2 Use of Consultation. Bahá'u'lláh has provided humankind with consultation as a powerful tool for the acquisition of understanding and the development of human affairs. Such a tool, when applied to the education of children, will greatly enhance their capacity to understand and learn the concepts, verities, and history of the Faith. The use of consultation will also develop in children the attitudes, qualities, and skills that will enable them to serve effectively as members of administrative groups and institutions.

Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 1

Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude. It is a shining light which, in a dark world, leadeth the way and guideth. For everything there is and will continue to be a station of perfection and maturity. The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 3

In all things it is necessary to consult. . . . inasmuch as it is and will always be a cause of awareness and of awakening and a source of good and well-being.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 3, no. 5

Man must consult on all matters, whether major or minor, so that he may become cognizant of what is good. Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown. The light of truth shineth from the faces of those who engage in consultation.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Consultation: A Compilation, p. 8, no. 15

The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, p. 8, no. 17


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In discussions look toward the reality without being self-opinionated. Let no one assert and insist upon his own mere opinion; nay, rather, let each investigate reality with the greatest love and fellowship. Consult upon every matter, and when one presents the point of view of reality itself, that shall be acceptable to all. Then will spiritual unity increase among you, individual illumination will be greater, happiness will be more abundant, and you will draw nearer and nearer to the Kingdom of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 183

D-LT3 Use of Questioning and Peer Teaching. A socially and intellectually important activity closely related to the use of consultation is the interaction among children themselves in the learning process. Such group modes of learning enable children to make great progress.

One child must question the other . . . , and the other child must give the answer. In this way, they will make great progress. . . . Oral questions must be asked and the answers must be given orally. They must discuss with each other in this manner.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

D-LT4 Independent Investigation and Using the Power of Reasoning. Spiritual education should engage children in independent investigation. This process should use and develop children's reasoning powers and foster their reliance on God's confirmations and assistance.

God has given man the eye of investigation by which he may see and recognize truth. He has endowed man with ears that he may hear the message of reality and conferred upon him the gift of reason by which he may discover things for himself. This is his endowment and equipment for the investigation of reality. Man is not intended to see through the eyes of another, hear through another's ears nor comprehend with another's brain. Each human creature has individual endowment, power and responsibility in the creative plan of God. Therefore, depend upon your own reason and judgment and adhere to the outcome of your own investigation; otherwise, you will be utterly submerged in the sea of ignorance and deprived of all the
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bounties of God. Turn to God, supplicate humbly at His threshold, seeking assistance and confirmation, that God may rend asunder the veils that obscure your vision.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 293

Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 68

Know ye that God has created in man the power of reason, whereby man is enabled to investigate reality. God has not intended man to imitate blindly his fathers and ancestors. He has endowed him with mind, or the faculty of reasoning, by the exercise of which he is to investigate and discover the truth, and that which he finds real and true he must accept. He must not be an imitator or blind follower of any soul. He must not rely implicitly upon the opinion of any man without investigation; nay, each soul must seek intelligently and independently, arriving at a real conclusion and bound only by that reality. The greatest cause of bereavement and disheartening in the world of humanity is ignorance based upon blind imitation. It is due to this that wars and battles prevail; from this cause hatred and animosity arise continually among mankind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 291

The alphabet of things is for children, that they may in time use their reasoning powers.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, "'The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause,'" in Star of the West, vol. 6 (June 24, 1915), p. 43

D-LT5 Memorization and Recitation are important learning tools. This includes memorization and recitation of prayers and tablets in the noble and beautiful words of the Founders of the Faith and the preparation and delivery of speeches.


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Teach unto your children the words that have been sent down from God, that they may recite them in the sweetest of tones. This standeth revealed in a mighty Book.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 6, no. 24 [Digital ed. note - no. 21 with a different translation]

It is also highly praiseworthy to memorize the Tablets, divine verses and sacred traditions.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 77 [Digital ed. note - no. 21]

The Master used to attach much importance to the learning by heart of Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. During His days it was a usual work of the children of the household to learn Tablets by heart. . . . the practice is most useful to implant the ideas and spirit those words contain into the mind of the children.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 466

There is no objection to children who are as yet unable to memorise a whole prayer learning certain sentences only.

—Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 466

Encourage ye the school children, from their earliest years, to deliver speeches of high quality, so that in their leisure time they will engage in giving cogent and effective talks, expressing themselves with clarity and eloquence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

D-LT6 Use of Meditation and Reflection. Meditiaton is a key to opening the heart and mind to inner mysteries. It enables children to understand the greatness of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation and sets them on a spiritual path that leads to certitude.

Reflect: Who in this world is able to manifest such transcendent power, such pervading influence? All these stainless hearts and sanctified souls have, with absolute resignation, responded to the summons of His decree. Instead of complaining, they rendered thanks unto God, and amidst the darkness of their anguish they revealed naught but radiant acquiescence to His will. It is evident
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how relentless was the hate, and how bitter the malice and enmity entertained by all the peoples of the earth towards these companions. The persecution and pain they inflicted on these holy and spiritual beings were regarded by them as means unto salvation, prosperity, and everlasting success. Hath the world, since the days of Adam, witnessed such tumult, such violent commotion? Notwithstanding all the torture they suffered, and manifold the afflictions they endured, they became the object of universal opprobrium and execration. Methinks patience was revealed only by virtue of their fortitude, and faithfulness itself was begotten only by their deeds.

Do thou ponder these momentous happenings in thy heart, so that thou mayest apprehend the greatness of this Revelation, and perceive its stupendous glory. Then shall the spirit of faith, through the grace of the Merciful, be breathed into thy being, and thou shalt be established and abide upon the seat of certitude.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 235-36

The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 72

It 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. . . .

Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 174, 175

D-LT7 Use of Parables and Stories. 'Abdu'l-Bahá suggests using parables to help children understand the complex and hidden meanings embedded in the sacred writings.

Divine things are too deep to be expressed by common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in
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parable in order to be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to study God's Word with a spiritual mind.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 80

Parables can be used to teach children about the fear of God.

In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as `Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 62, no. 161 [Digital ed. note - no. 143]

Stories are important tools for learning about the Bahá'í revelation and about previous Dispensations. Stories are also an important means of guiding children's actions, for they provide powerful models for young lives.

With The Dawn-Breakers in your possession you could also arrange interesting stories about the early days of the Movement which the children would like to hear. There are also stories about the life of Christ, Muhammad and the other prophets which if told to the children will break down any religious prejudice they may have learned from older people of little understanding.

Such stories regarding the life of different prophets together with their sayings will also be useful to better understand the literature of the Cause for there is constant reference to them. It is however the work of experienced people to bring together such materials and make of them interesting text books for the children.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 53, no. 130 [Digital ed. note - no. 111]


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I would strongly urge you to utilize, to the utmost possible extent, the wealth of authentic material gathered in Nabíl's stirring Narrative and to encourage the youth to mater and to digest the facts recorded therein as a basis for their future work in the teaching field, and as a sustenance to their spiritual life and activities in the service of the Cause.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 22, no. 78

D-LT8 Use of Music. Music is a perfect tool for awakening a deeper understanding of spiritual matters.

The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted. It has wonderful sway and effect in the hearts of children, for their hearts are pure, and melodies have great influence in them. The latent talents with which the hearts of these children are endowed will find expression through the medium of music. Therefore, you must exert yourselves to make them proficient; teach them to sing with excellence and effect. It is incumbent upon each child to know something of music, for without knowledge of this art the melodies of instrument and voice cannot be rightly enjoyed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 52

Music is regarded as a praiseworthy science at the Threshold of the Almighty, so that thou mayest chant verses at large gatherings and congregations in a most wondrous melody. . . . By virtue of this, consider how much the art of music is admired and praised. Try, if thou canst, to use spiritual melodies, songs and tunes, and to bring the earthly music into harmony with the celestial melody. Then thou wilt notice what a great influence music hath and what heavenly joy and life it conferreth. Strike up such a melody and tune as to cause the nightingales of divine mysteries to be filled with joy and ecstasy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 4

Music is an important means to the education and development of humanity, but the only true way is
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through the Teachings of God. Music is like this glass, which is perfectly pure and polished. It is precisely like this pure chalice before us, and the Teachings of God, the utterances of God, are like the water. When the glass or chalice is absolutely pure and clear, and the water is perfectly fresh and limpid, then it will confer Life. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Writings on Music, p. 8

D-LT9 Use of Drama. In all its forms of expression, drama is an important tool in the spiritual education of children.

"The drama is of the utmost importance. It has been a great educational power in the past; it will be so again."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in London, p. 93

D-LT10 Employing Creativity and the Arts. The creative impulse is both an indication and an outcome of our spiritual nature. Art and literature play an important role in the development of the child's sensitivity and creativity.

Every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God is endowed with such potency as can instill new life into every human frame. . . . Through the mere revelation of the word "Fashioner," issuing forth from His lips and proclaiming His attribute to mankind, such power is released as can generate, through successive ages, all the manifold arts which the hands of man can produce. This, verily, is a certain truth. No sooner is this resplendent word uttered, than its animating energies, stirring within all created things, give birth to the means and instruments whereby such arts can be produced and perfected. All the wondrous achievements ye now witness are the direct consequences of the Revelation of this Name. In the days to come, ye will, verily, behold things of which ye have never heard before.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 141-42

Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children, and promotion of the various sciences, crafts and arts. Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to
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such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 18

It is the commandment of the Blessed Beauty, may my life be a sacrifice at His Threshold, that whosoever engageth in a craft, should endeavour to acquire in it utmost proficiency. Should he do so, that craft becometh a form of worship.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 15

"That day will the Cause spread like wildfire when its spirit and teachings are presented on the stage or in art and literature as a whole. Art can better awaken such noble sentiments than cold rationalizing, especially among the mass of the people."

—Shoghi Effendi, quoted in "In Its Full Splendor," in Bahá'í News, no. 73 (May 1933), p. 7

D-LT11 Engaging Children in Science and in the Investigation of the World of Nature is another important tool in spiritual education. As a child contemplates science and nature, truths about the majesty of God and His creation unfold, providing insight into spiritual realities.

O SON OF BOUNTY!

Out of the wastes of nothingness, with the clay of My command I made thee to appear, and have ordained for thy training every atom in existence and the essence of all created things.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 80

Whatever I behold I readily discover that it maketh Thee known unto me, and it remindeth me of Thy signs, and of Thy tokens, and of Thy testimonies. By Thy glory! Every time I lift up mine eyes unto Thy heaven, I call to mind Thy highness and Thy loftiness, and Thine incomparable glory and greatness; and every time I turn my gaze to Thine earth, I am made to recognize the evidences of Thy power and the tokens of Thy bounty. And when I behold the sea, I find that it speaketh to me of Thy
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majesty, and of the potency of Thy might, and of Thy sovereignty and Thy grandeur. And at whatever time I contemplate the mountains, I am led to discover the ensigns of Thy victory and the standards of Thine omnipotence.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, p. 272

"Arts, crafts and sciences uplift the world of being, and are conducive to its exaltation. Knowledge is as wings to man's life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words."

—Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26

D-LT12 The Importance of Play and the Use of Manipulatives is important, especially in early childhood.

They should be taught, in play, some letters and words and a little reading—as it is done in certain countries where they fashion letters and words out of sweets and give them to the child.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 30, no. 78 [Digital ed. note - no. 75]

D-LT13 Use of Travel and field trips broadens the knowledge and understanding of children.

If a man should live his entire life in one city, he cannot gain a knowledge of the whole world. To become perfectly informed he must visit other cities, see the mountains and valleys, cross the rivers and traverse the plains.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 295

D-LT14 Recreation is necessary to every aspect of children's learning.

A wise schoolmaster should send his scholars out to play . . . so that their minds and bodies may be refreshed, and during the hour of the lesson they may learn it better.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in "Bahai Methods of Education," in Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 8 (Aug. 1, 1918), p. 91


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SUMMARY
The Bahá'í writings suggest a wide array of instructional methods (strategies used by the teacher to eanble the children to learn) and suggest learning tools that enable students to learn on their own. Because the learning environment is established largely by the teacher, it is the teacher's responsibility to provide and use instructional methods and learning tools appropriate to the interests and capabilities of the students in their care.

Organization, Evaluation, and Methods of Discipline

D-01 Organization of Education. Educational programs should be thoroughly planned, well organized, and implemented over time with firmness, steadfastnes,s and perseverance.

These children must be given a good training from their earliest childhood. They must be given a systematic training which will further their development from day to day, in order that they may receive greater insight, so that their spiritual receptivity be broadened.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

You must certainly continue this organized activity without cessation, and attach importance to it, so that day by day it may grow and be quickened with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. If this activity is well organized, rest thou assured that it will yield great results. Firmness and steadfastness, however, are necessary, otherwise it will continue for some time, but later be gradually forgotten. Perseverance is an essential condition. In every project firmness and steadfastness will undoubtedly lead to good results; otherwise it will exist for some days, and then be discontinued.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 42, no. 104 [Digital ed. note - no. 95]

The children's school must be a place of utmost discipline and order, that instruction must be thorough. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

Among the greatest of all great services is the education of children. . . . Praised be God, ye are now exerting strenuous efforts toward this end. The more ye persevere in
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this most important task, the more will ye witness the confirmations of God, to such a degree that ye yourselves will be astonished.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 27, no. 71 [Digital ed. note - no. 68]

D-E1 Evaluation of Children's Learning Experiences should occur throgh observation of their actions.

The students must show the results of their study in their deportment and deeds; otherwise they have wasted their lives.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 18, no. 66

"Equity," He [Bahá'u'lláh] also has written, "is the most fundamental among human virtues. The evaluation of all things must needs depend upon it." And again, "Observe equity in your judgment, ye men of understanding heart! He that is unjust in his judgment is destitute of the characteristics that distinguish man's station."

—Bahá'u'lláh, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 25

D-MD1 Use of Positive Reinforcement. Encouragement and patient counsel and training are the hallmarks of a Bahá'í teacher of children. Abuse in any form—whether verbal or physical—is not permissible.

Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 125

Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134


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If a pupil is told that his intelligence is less than his fellow pupils, it is a very great drawback and handicap to his progress. He must be encouraged to advance by the statement, "You are most capable, and if you endeavor, you will attain the highest degree."

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 76-77

They must be encouraged and when any one of them shows good advancement, for the further development they must be praised and encouraged therein.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in The Bahá'í World, vol. IX, p. 543

The child must not be oppressed or censured because it is undeveloped; it must be patiently trained.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 180-181

The child must not be warped and hindered in its development. The ignorant must not be restricted by censure and criticism. We must look for the real, true remedy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 40

D-MD2 The Importance of Counsel. Counsel and discipline must be directed toward character refinement and the goal of striving for excellence.

Man is even as steel, the essence of which is hidden: through admonition and explanation, good counsel and education, that essence will be brought to light.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10 [Digital ed. note - no. 10]

Know that this matter of instruction, of character rectification and refinement, of heartening and encouraging the child, is of the utmost importance, for such are basic principles of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 137

[Shoghi Effendi] feels that nothing short of your motherly care and love and of the counsels which you and the friends can give her, can effectively remedy this
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situation. Above all, you should be patient, and confident that your efforts to that end are being sustained and guided through the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh. He is surely hearing your prayers, and will no doubt accept them, and thus hasten the gradual and complete materialization of your hopes and expectations for your daughter and for the Cause.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 54, no. 134 [Digital ed. note - no. 116]

Ye should consider the question of goodly character as of the first importance. It is incumbent upon every father and mother to counsel their children over a long period, and guide them unto those things which lead to everlasting honour.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

D-MD3 Children Should be Taught to Pursue Excellence and Advancement with Perseverance. Children must be encouraged to strive toward a standard of excellence in all their undertakings, including their spiritual growth and development.

Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young girls and the children, so that the mothers may educate their little ones from their earliest days, thoroughly train them, rear them to have a goodly character and good morals, guide them to all the virtues of humankind, prevent the development of any behaviour that would be worthy of blame, and foster them in the embrace of Bahá'í education. Thus shall these tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His love. Thus shall they grow and flourish, and be taught righteousness and the dignity of humankind, resolution and the will to strive and to endure. Thus shall they learn perseverance in all things, the will to advance, high mindedness and high resolve, chastity and purity of life. Thus shall they be enabled to carry to a successful conclusion whatsoever they undertake.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 124-25


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Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. The life of man is useful if he attains the perfections of man. If he becomes the center of the imperfections of the world of humanity, death is better than life, and nonexistence better than existence. Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53-54

D-MD4 Obedience. The concept of obedience begins with the relationship between the child and the parents and extends to the child's relationship to God, His Messengers, and the divine institutions.

The son . . . must show forth the utmost obedience towards his father, and should conduct himself as a humble and a lowly servant. Day and night he should seek diligently to ensure the comfort and welfare of his loving father and to secure his good pleasure. He must forgo his own rest and enjoyment and constantly strive to bring gladness to the hearts of his father and mother, that thereby he may attain the good pleasure of the Almighty and be graciously aided by the hosts of the unseen.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Family Life, p. 10

There are . . . certain sacred duties on children toward parents, which duties are written in the Book of God, as belonging to God. The (children’s) prosperity in this world and the Kingdom depends upon the good pleasure of parents, and without this they will be in manifest loss.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. II, pp. 262 -63

Comfort thy mother and endeavor to do what is conducive to the happiness of her heart.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. I, p. 74

SUMMARY
Principles guiding the organization and evaluation of spiritual

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education programs and the tools for disciplining children are carefully laid out in the Bahá'í writings. Programs for the spiritual education of children must be systematically organized with patience and perseverance. Likewise, character training must be accomplished through love, encouragement, patience, and firmness. Children should be praised frequently and encouraged to advance. In pointing out children's errors, teachers and parents must not oppress or put down the children. Instead, children should be lovingly disciplined with reason, admonition, explanation, and good counsel and thereby enabled to sustain their own spiritual development. Educators of children need to realize tha the important task of character training continues throughout the years of childhood and is not accomplished overnight. It is also important to rely on the divine assistance that is promised to Bahá'í teachers and parents in the writings.

E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

E-RR1 The Elected Assemblies, the Institutions of the Learned, and the Community are charged with various roles in the responsibility of establishing, financing, and protecting the education of children. The children are to be encouraged to participate in all events and activities and should receive the love and affection of the community.

Everyone, whether man or woman, should hand over to a trusted person a portion of what he or she earneth through trade, agriculture or other occupation, for the training and education of children, to be spent for this purpose with the knowledge of the Trustees of the House of Justice.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 90

The learned of the day must direct the people to acquire those branches of knowledge which are of use, that both the learned themselves and the generality of mankind may derive benefits therefrom.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 169

It is incumbent upon the exalted body of the Hands of the Cause of God to watch over and protect these schools in every way, and see to their requirements, so that
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all the means of progress will continually be at hand, and the lights of learning will illumine the whole world.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 10 [Digital ed. note - no. 10]

To promote knowledge is . . . an inescapable duty imposed on every one of the friends of God. It is incumbent upon that Spiritual Assembly, that assemblage of God, to exert every effort to educate the children, so that from infancy they will be trained in Bahá'í conduct and the ways of God, and will, even as young plants, thrive and flourish in the soft-flowing waters that are the counsels and admonitions of the Blessed Beauty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 126

With regard to your activities in connection with the training and education of Bahá'í children: needless to tell you what a vital importance the Guardian attaches to such activities, on which so much of the strength, welfare and growth of the Community must necessarily depend. What a more sacred privilege, and also what a weightier responsibility than the task of rearing up the new generation of believers, and of inculcating into their youthful and receptive minds the principles and teachings of the Cause, and of thus preparing them to fully assume, and properly discharge the weighty responsibilities and obligations of their future life in the Bahá'í Community.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 55, no. 138 [Digital ed. note - no. 120]

A basic and vital requirement of these days is the matter of educating the boys and girls. One of the duties devolving upon the members of Spiritual Assemblies is that, with the support of the friends, they should exert all their powers to establish schools for the instruction of boys and girls in the things of the spirit, the fundamentals of teaching the Faith, reading the Sacred Writings, learning the history of the Faith, the secular branches of knowledge, the various arts and skills, and the different languages—so that Bahá'í methods of instruction will become so widely known that children from every level of society will seek to acquire divine teachings as well as secular knowledge in
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Bahá'í schools, and thereby means for the promotion of the Cause of God will be provided.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 48-49, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 119]

They must promote by every means in their power the material as well as the spiritual enlightenment of youth, the means for the education of children, institute, whenever possible, Bahá'í educational institutions, organize and supervise their work and provide the best means for their progress and development.

—Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, p. 38

To assist the children of the poor in the attainment of these accomplishments, and particularly in learning the basic subjects, is incumbent upon the members of the Spiritual Assemblies, and is accounted as one of the obligations laid upon the conscience of the trustees of God in every land.

—Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 49-50, no. 121 [Digital ed. note - no. 105]

Since children of Bahá'í parents are considered to be Bahá'ís, they are to be encouraged to attend all Feasts, there to share the reading of the Writings and prayers and be bathed in the spirit of the community. It is the hope of the House of Justice that every Feast will be a feast of love when the children will give and receive the tangible affection of the community and its individual members.

—The Universal House of Justice, in Stirring the Spirit, p. 30, no. 65

E-RR2 The Role and Station of the Teacher. The Bahá'í teacher of children is devoted to the spiritual training of children in the community. Teachers are called upon to strive toward steadfastness and perfection; to become fully aware of the strengths and needs of each child; and to provide opportunities for their spiritual, moral, social, and intellectual growth.

Blessed is that teacher who remaineth faithful to the Covenant of God, and occupieth himself with the education of children. For him hath the Supreme Pen inscribed that reward which is revealed in the Most Holy Book.

Blessed, blessed is he!

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 28 [Digital ed. note - no. 26]


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Blessed is that teacher who shall arise to instruct the children, and to guide the people into the pathways of God, the Bestower, the Well-Beloved.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 7, no. 27 [Digital ed. note - no. 25]

"Bend your minds and wills to the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most Great Name, be blotted out from its face, and all mankind become the upholders of one Order, and the inhabitants of one City."

—Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 333-34

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man. . . . Therefore, make ye an effort in order that these children may be rightly trained and educated and that each one of them may attain perfection in the world of humanity. Know ye the value of these children, for they are all my children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 53-54

Blessed art thou, since thou art engaged in rendering a service which will make thy face to shine in the Abhá Kingdom, and that is the education and training of children. If one should, in the right way, teach and train the children, he will be performing a service than which none is greater at the sacred Threshold. . . . You must, however, struggle unceasingly to perfect yourself and win ever higher achievements.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 60 [Digital ed. note - no. 57]

Among the greatest of all services that can possibly be rendered by man to Almighty God is the education and training of children. . . .


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It is, however, very difficult to undertake this service, even harder to succeed in it. I hope that thou wilt acquit thyself well in this most important of tasks, and successfully carry the day. . . .

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 133

O thou spiritual teacher! In thy school, instruct thou God's children in the customs of the Kingdom. Be thou a teacher of love, in a school of unity. Train thou the children of the friends of the Merciful in the rules and ways of His loving-kindness. Tend the young trees of the Abhá Paradise with the welling waters of His grace and peace and joy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 64 [Digital ed. note - no. 61]

The instruction of these children is even as the work of a loving gardener who tendeth his young plants in the flowering fields of the All-Glorious. There is no doubt that it will yield the desired results; especially is this true of instruction as to Bahá'í obligations and Bahá'í conduct, for the little children must needs be made aware in their very heart and soul that `Bahá'í' is not just a name but a truth.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 143

Education cannot alter the inner essence of a man, but it doth exert tremendous influence, and with this power it can bring forth from the individual whatever perfections and capacities are deposited within him. A grain of wheat, when cultivated by the farmer, will yield a whole harvest, and a seed, through the gardener's care, will grow into a great tree. Thanks to a teacher's loving efforts, the children of the primary school may reach the highest levels of achievement; indeed, his benefactions may lift some child of small account to an exalted throne.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 132

Therefore must the mentor be a doctor as well: that is, he must, in instructing the child, remedy its faults; must give him learning, and at the same time rear him to have a
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spiritual nature. Let the teacher be a doctor to the character of the child, thus will he heal the spiritual ailments of the children of men.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 130

Make ye inquiries as to a woman teacher. She must be extremely modest, even-tempered, forbearing, and well bred, and she must be expert in the English language.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 24, no. 63 [Digital ed. note - no. 60]

Through the power of faith, obey ye the teachings of God, and let all your actions conform to His laws. Read ye The Hidden Words, ponder the inner meanings thereof, act in accord therewith. Read, with close attention, the Tablets of Tarazat (Ornaments), Kalimat (Words of Paradise), Tajalliyyat (Effulgences), Ishraqat (Splendours), and Bisharat (Glad Tidings), and rise up as ye are bidden in the heavenly teachings.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 35

How wonderful it will be when the teachers are faithful, attracted and assured, educated and refined Bahá'ís, well-grounded in the science of pedagogy and familiar with child psychology; thus they may train the children with the fragrances of God. In the scheme of human life the teacher and his system of teaching plays the most important role, carrying with it the heaviest responsibilities and most subtle influence.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Star of the West, vol. 17, No. 2, (May 1926) p. 55

E-RR3 The Role of Parents. The Bahá'í Writings place primary accountability upon parents for the spiritual education of their children.

It is the bounden duty of parents to rear their children to be staunch in faith, the reason being that a child who removeth himself from the religion of God will not act in such a way as to win the good pleasure of his parents and his Lord. For every praiseworthy deed is born out of the light of religion, and lacking this supreme bestowal the
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child will not turn away from any evil, nor will he draw nigh unto any good.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 12 [Digital ed. note - no. 12]

The parents must exert every effort to rear their offspring to be religious, for should the children not attain this greatest of adornments, they will not obey their parents, which in a certain sense means that they will not obey God. Indeed, such children will show no consideration to anyone, and will do exactly as they please.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 4, no. 14 [Digital ed. note - no. 14]

It is enjoined upon the father and mother, as a duty, to strive with all effort to train the daughter and the son, to nurse them from the breast of knowledge and to rear them in the bosom of sciences and arts. Should they neglect this matter, they shall be held responsible and worthy of reproach in the presence of the stern Lord.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 127

Children must be most carefully watched over, protected and trained; in such consisteth true parenthood and parental mercy.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 17, no. 42 [Digital ed. note - no. 39]

Have for them an abundant love and exert thine utmost in training them, so that their being may grow through the milk of the love of God, forasmuch as it is the duty of parents to perfectly and thoroughly train their children.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. II, p. 262

The husband and wife are brought into affinity, are united and harmonized, even as though they were one person. Through their mutual union, companionship and love great results are produced in the world, both material and spiritual. The spiritual result is the appearance of divine bounties. The material result is the children who are born in the cradle of the love of God, who are nurtured by the breast of knowledge of God, who are brought up in
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the bosom of the gift of God, and who are fostered in the lap of the training of God. Such children are those of whom it was said by Christ, "Verily, they are the children of the Kingdom!"

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, p. 605-06

E-RR4 The Special Role of Fathers. Fathers have a special role not only in seeing to the intellectual education of their children, but also in promoting and encouraging their morality, their understanding of the sacred texts, and in binding their hearts to God.

Teach ye your children so that they may peruse the divine verses every morn and eve. God hath prescribed unto every father to educate his children, both boys and girls, in the sciences and in morals, and in crafts and professions. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 5

Unto every father hath been enjoined the instruction of his son and daughter in the art of reading and writing and in all that hath been laid down in the Holy Tablet. He that putteth away that which is commanded unto him, the Trustees are then to take from him that which is required for their instruction if he be wealthy and, if not, the matter devolveth upon the House of Justice.

—Bahá'u'lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, ¶48

The father must always endeavour to educate his son and to acquaint him with the heavenly teachings. He must give him advice and exhort him at all times, teach him praiseworthy conduct and character, enable him to receive training at school and to be instructed in such arts and sciences as are deemed useful and necessary. In brief, let him instil into his mind the virtues and perfections of the world of humanity. Above all he should continually call to his mind the remembrance of God so that his throbbing veins and arteries may pulsate with the love of God.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 41, no. 100


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E-RR5 The Unique Role of Mothers. According to the writings of Bah'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, one of the goals of the education of women is their preparation for their unique role as the first educators of children. This is a role that begins at conception and continues throughout pregnancy and their children's infancy and early childhood. This early age is a critical period in the child's life when Bahá'í qualities and ideals are instilled in the mind and heart.

O handmaids of the Merciful! Render ye thanks unto the Ancient Beauty that ye have been raised up and gathered together in this mightiest of centuries, this most illumined of ages. As befitting thanks for such a bounty, stand ye staunch and strong in the Covenant and, following the precepts of God and the holy Law, suckle your children from their infancy with the milk of a universal education, and rear them so that from their earliest days, within their inmost heart, their very nature, a way of life will be firmly established that will conform to the divine Teachings in all things.

For mothers are the first educators, the first mentors; and truly it is the mothers who determine the happiness, the future greatness, the courteous ways and learning and judgement, the understanding and the faith of their little ones.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pp. 125-26

Let the mothers consider that whatever concerneth the education of children is of the first importance. Let them put forth every effort in this regard, for when the bough is green and tender it will grow in whatever way ye train it. Therefore is it incumbent upon the mothers to rear their little ones even as a gardener tendeth his young plants. Let them strive by day and by night to establish within their children faith and certitude, the fear of God, the love of the Beloved of the worlds, and all good qualities and traits.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 125


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Ere thou didst issue from thy mother's womb, I destined for thee two founts of gleaming milk, eyes to watch over thee, and hearts to love thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, The Hidden Words, Persian, no. 29

O ye loving mothers, know ye that in God's sight, the best of all ways to worship Him is to educate the children and train them in all the perfections of humankind; and no nobler deed than this can be imagined.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 139

"O maid-servants of the Merciful! It is incumbent upon you to train the children from their earliest babyhood! It is incumbent upon you to beautify their morals! It is incumbent upon you to attend to them under all aspects and circumstances, inasmuch as God—glorified and exalted is He!—hath ordained mothers to be the primary trainers of children and infants. This is a great and important affair and a high and exalted position, and it is not allowable to slacken therein at all!"

If thou walkest in this right path, thou wouldst become a real mother to the children, both spiritually and materially.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas, vol. III, p. 606

Work ye for the guidance of the women in that land, teach the young girls and the children, so that the mothers may educate their little ones from their earliest days, thoroughly train them, rear them to have a goodly character and good morals, guide them to all the virtues of humankind, prevent the development of any behaviour that would be worthy of blame, and foster them in the embrace of Bahá'í education. Thus shall these tender infants be nurtured at the breast of the knowledge of God and His love.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 39, no. 97 [Digital ed. note - no. 89]

If, as she ought, the mother possesseth the learning and accomplishments of humankind, her children, like
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unto angels, will be fostered in all excellence, in right conduct and beauty.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 34, no. 85 [Digital ed. note - no. 80]

O thou servant of God! Thou didst ask as to the education of children. Those children who, sheltered by the Blessed Tree, have set foot upon the world, those who are cradled in the Faith and are nurtured at the breast of grace — such must from the beginning receive spiritual training directly from their mothers. That is, the mother must continually call God to mind and make mention of Him, and tell of His greatness, and instill the fear of Him in the child, and rear the child gently, in the way of tenderness, and in extreme cleanliness.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, p. 31, no. 79 [Digital ed. note - no. 76]

The task of bringing up a Bahá'í child, as emphasized time and again in Bahá'í writings, is the chief responsibility of the mother, whose unique privilege is indeed to create in her home such conditions as would be most conducive to both his material and spiritual welfare and advancement. The training which a child first receives through his mother constitutes the strongest foundation for his future development. . . .

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in Family Life, pp. 19-20

That the first teacher of the child is the mother should not be startling, for the primary orientation of the infant is to its mother. This provision of nature in no way minimizes the role of the father in the Bahá'í family. Again, equality of status does not mean identity of function.

—The Universal House of Justice, in The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, no. 913

E-RR6 The Role of Children. Children must strive to become educated and have respect for parents and all members of the community.

Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without. It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree. Then, so much as
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capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Bahá'í Education, p. 3, no. 9 [Digital ed. note - no. 9]

It is the hope of 'Abdu'l-Bahá that those youthful souls in the schoolroom of the deeper knowledge will be tended by one who traineth them to love. May they all, throughout the reaches of the spirit, learn well of the hidden mysteries; so well that in the Kingdom of the All-Glorious, each one of them, even as a nightingale endowed with speech, will cry out the secrets of the Heavenly Realm, and like unto a longing lover pour forth his sore need and utter want of the Beloved.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 134

After the recognition of the oneness of the Lord, exalted be He, the most important of all duties is to have due regard for the rights of one's parents. This matter hath been mentioned in all the Books of God. . . .

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 1

Say, O My people! Show honour to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 2

Should anyone give you a choice between the opportunity to render a service to Me and a service to them [your parents], choose ye to serve them, and let such service be a path leading you to Me. This is My exhortation and command unto thee.

—Bahá'u'lláh, in Family Life, p. 1

My highest wish and desire is that ye who are my children may be educated according to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and may receive a Bahá'í training; that ye may each become a lighted candle in the world of humanity,
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may be devoted to the service of all mankind, may give up your rest and comfort, so that ye may become the cause of the tranquillity of the world of creation.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 141

You are all my children, my spiritual children. Spiritual children are dearer than physical children, for it is possible for physical children to turn away from the Spirit of God, but you are spiritual children and, therefore, you are most beloved. I wish for you progress in every degree of development. May God assist you. May you be surrounded by the beneficent light of His countenance, and may you attain maturity under His nurture and protection. You are all blessed.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 92

I strongly urge you to devote, while you are pursuing your studies, as much time as you possibly can to a thorough study of the history and teachings of our Beloved Cause. This is the prerequisite of a future successful career of service to the Bahá'í Faith in which I hope and pray you will distinguish yourself in the days to come.

—Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, p. 21, no. 74

O ye illumined youth, strive by night and by day to unravel the mysteries of the mind and spirit, and to grasp the secrets of the Day of God. Inform yourselves of the evidences that the Most Great Name hath dawned. Open your lips in praise. Adduce convincing arguments and proofs. Lead those who thirst to the fountain of life; grant ye true health to the ailing. Be ye apprentices of God; be ye physicians directed by God, and heal ye the sick among humankind. Bring those who have been excluded into the circle of intimate friends. Make the despairing to be filled with hope. Waken them that slumber; make the heedless mindful.

—'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Bahá'í Education, pp. 42-43, no. 106 [Digital ed. note - no. 97]

The responsibility of young believers is very great, as they must not only fit themselves to inherit the work of the
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older Bahá'ís and carry on the affairs of the Cause in general, but the world which lies ahead of them—as promised by Bahá'u'lláh—will be a world chastened by its sufferings, ready to listen to His Divine Message at last; and consequently a very high character will be expected of the exponents of such a religion. To deepen their knowledge, to perfect themselves in the Bahá'í standards of virtue and upright conduct, should be the paramount duty of every young Bahá'í.

—Shoghi Effendi, Dawn of a New Day, pp. 179-80

You Bahá'í children and young people have both great privileges and great obligations ahead of you, for your generation will be the ones to help build up a new, better and more beautiful world. . . . You should prepare yourselves for this great task by trying to grasp the true meaning of the teachings and not just merely accepting them as something you are taught. They are like a wonderful new world of thought just beginning to be explored, and when we realize that Bahá'u'lláh has brought teachings and laws for a thousand years to come, we can readily see that each new generation may find some greater meaning in the writings than the ones gone before did.

—On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, in The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, pp. 43-44, no. 135

SUMMARY
The spiritual education of children is a key element in the development and well-being of Bahá'í communities. It is central to the growth of the Cause and therefore represents a sacred mission for the Bahá'í community. The Bahá'í writings explain that "The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind..., for education is the indispensable foundation of all human excellence and alloweth man to work his way to the heights of abiding glory."13

13. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 129.

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The Bahá'í writings also describe the various roles of those involved with the spiritual education of children, asserting the integrity of the parents' role together and the unique individual roles of the mother and the father as the primary educators of children. The station of the teacher in society is elevated to a new level. Spiritual responsibility is placed upon the institutions of the Faith to provide the support and guidance necessary for educational programs to be well organized and sustained. The writings contain clear guidance for children themselves about their duties and their future roles in society.
Such newly defined roles are invested with great responsibility. They require the development of necessary spiritual qualities and the academic growth and spiritual transformation of those who interact with children.
All who take on these roles in the community, interacting and working together in a spirit of love and unity with the earnest desire to follow the example of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, are assured of the confirmations and blessings of Bahá'u'lláh as they arise for the spiritual education of children.

A New Paradigm

The Bahá'í Core Curriculum for spiritual education presents a new paradigm in education. It calls for making the spiritual education of children and youth a prominent, central focus in the consciousness and activities of every Local Spiritual Assembly. It calls upon Local Assemblies to establish new partnerships with parents, teachers, community members, and Auxiliary Board members and their assistants. Through such collaboration, efforts to develop the capacities, capabilities, and talents of children in service to humanity will become a "fruitful source of teachers both for their own generation and even for the deepening of ohers their own age and older."14


14. The International Teaching Center, letter dated 5 December 1988 to all Continental Counselors.

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PART 3

A SUMMARY OF DISTINCTIVE PRINCIPLES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION


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INTRODUCTION

Part 3 is a summary of the content and processes of spiritual education as suggested by the Bahá'í writings. The development and compilation of principles and characteristics of spiritual education is a step toward the articulation of the "teaching ideals" needed "to formulate an adequate teaching curriculum."1

A. THE NATURE, PURPOSE, AND OUTCOMES OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

A-1 Spiritual Education is the Indispensable Foundation of All Other Knowledge. A spiritual education in which children come to know and remember God and to recognize His Manifestation is the purpose of all knowledge and provides the context for its proper application.

A-2 Spiritual Education Must Be Systematic and Ongoing. Educational programs for children must be well planned and organized, sequential, and continuous.

A-3 Spiritual Education is the Foundation of Human Happiness. Without a spiritual education children cannot achieve happiness in this world or the next.

A-4 Spiritual Education Involves Striving to Attain a Balance between material, intellectual, and spiritual education.

A-5 Children's Education Begins with Training in the Principles of Religion so that each heart will be attracted to the love of God. This love of God will be the cause of their obedience to divine law and their avoidance of wrongdoing.

A-6 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Bring into Being a New Race of Men. Spiritual education causes the highest level of spiritual potential to become manifest in human beings. Without a spiritual education man succumbs to the lower nature. The
1. Shoghi Effendi, in Bahá'í Education, p. 55, no. 139 [Digital ed. note - no. 121]

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purpose of education and training is to strengthen the spiritual aspect of the human reality so that it will overcome the material, or lower, nature.

A-7 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Teach Children to Have High Aims toward which they steadfastly progress.

A-8 The Purpose of Spiritual Education is to Cause Virtues to Become Manifest in all Human Action. Unless education results in the appearance of spiritual characteristics and virtues, it is useless, even harmful. Yet, if a person achieves both spiritual radiance and intellectual excellence he becomes noble and luminous.

A-9 Education is a Universal Law whose Purpose is Service to the Principle of the Oneness of Humanity and the Establishment of the Unity of Humankind. The oneness of humanity is a fundamental principle of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings. Consciousness of it is a primary purpose of all Bahá'í educational programs. This universal law is essential to the unity of humankind.

B. THE SPIRITUAL REALITY OF THE CHILD

B-1 The Human Reality is Essentially Spiritual. The spiritual reality of children is the same as that of adults, only less experienced. We are both spiritual and material during our lives in this world. The spirit, or the rational soul, manifests itself in the human reality through the mind.

B-2 Divine Attributes Develop through Spiritual Education. As each individual develops the spiritual attributes with which every soul is endowed, divine qualities are reflected increasingly. Spiritual education exerts a tremendous influence on this process.

Bahá'u'lláh compares these attributes, talents, and capacities to gems that must be mined and polished through education.

B-3 All Have Been Created to Know and Love God. Though capacities differ among individuals, all are created to know and worship God, to love and serve Him, and to be noble.


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B-4 Spiritual Education and Training are Obligatory, not Voluntary. Education as a universal, obligatory principle is a distinctive characteristic of the Bahá'í Dispensation.

B-5 There is to be No Difference in the Education Curriculum of Boys and Girls. Both sexes are to receive the same kind of education.

B-6 Under Special Circumstances Girls are to be Given Priority in Education because of the importance of their future role as mothers and first teachers of their children.

B-7 Spiritual Education is a Sacred Obligation of Parents.

B-8 Spiritual Progress is Dependent on God's Mercy. The ultimate progress of the soul is the result of God's bounty.

C. THE CONTENT OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

KNOWLEDGE

C-K1 Knowledge of the Power of the Love of God and of the Establishment of Unity and Justice as the Essential Foundation of Religion is important for every child's learning and is essential for future achievement. This involves acquiring knowledge of the history of the Bahá'í Faith and the history of other religions.

C-K2 Knowledge of the Sacred Writings and Bahá'í Literature. The Bahá'í writings contain references to specific books to be studied by children, youth, and adults.

C-K3 Knowledge of the Life and Teachings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's station as the Center of Bah'u'llah's Covenant and as the Perfect Exemplar is an essential topic for children's spiritual education.

C-K4 Knowledge of the Covenant and the Bahá'í Administrative Order. Children need to understand the Bahá'í Administrative Order as a vital expression of the Covenant in action.


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C-K5 Knowledge of Progressive Revelation. Such knowledge includes the lives and teachings of the Manifestations of God and knowledge of the sacred texts and the history of the world's major religions.

C-K6 Knowledge of Divine Proofs is an essential part of learning that enables children to develop certitude.

C-K7 Knowledge of the Laws and Principles of Religion is an essential aspect of the spiritual education of children. Such knowledge requires studying the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, which is the principal repository of the laws and ordinances of Bahá'u'lláh and the Mother Book of His Dispensation.

C-K8 Knowledge of the Major Principles of the Bahá'í Faith. There are many spiritual and social principles within the Faith that every child needs to study and understand.

C-K9 Knowledge of the Oneness of God is of foremost importance for the proper education and training of children.

C-K10 Knowledge of the Oneness of Humanity and the Importance of the Abolition of All Prejudices. This includes the knowledge that Bahá'u'lláh is the One appointed by God to establish the oneness of humanity. Children must also become aware that our consciousness of this prime principle is the basis of all human virtues and the pivot around which all the other teachings of Bahá'u'lláh revolve. It includes teaching children the concept of world citizenship and the abolition of all prejudices.

C-K11 Knowledge of the Principle of the Equality of Women and Men. This principle is crucial to establishing peace. It must be demonstrated in the family, the classroom, and the community.

C-K12 Knowledge of the Need for a Universal Language. Children need to be aware of the full meaning and implications of this principle of Bahá'u'lláh.

C-K13 Knowledge of the Important Problems and Needs of Our Time. To become informed world citizens who are aware of the challenges facing their generation, children need a broad education that informs them about the human condition.


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C-K14 Knowledge of the Importance of Education, including knowledge of the importance of studying arts, crafts, and sciences.

C-K15 Knowledge of the Importance of Balance in one's physical, intellectual, and spiritual education.

C-K16 Knowledge of the Principle of Work as Devotion to God is an important aspect of children's spiritual education.

WISDOM

C-W1 Understanding the Station of Bahá'u'lláh and the Significance of His Revelation. From birth, infants must begin learning from their mothers about God and His Manifestations.

C-W2 What it Means to be a Bahá'í must be deeply understood by the minds and hearts of children.

C-W3 Understanding the Importance of Prayer and the Power of Divine Assistance as a source of strength, spirituality, and enlightenment.

C-W4 Understanding the Spiritual Significance of Bahá'í Gatherings, including the Nineteen Day Feast, is an important part of children's early education.

C-W5 Understanding the Meaning and Purpose of True Education. Children need to understand that the purpose of acquiring divine perfections is to prepare one's soul for life after death and that this process is not dependent upon human learning.

C-W6 Understanding the Purpose of Education and the Station of the Teacher. Not only should children come to understand the purpose of education both for the individual and for humanity, but children should be taught from early childhood to love and respect their teachers' high station.

C-W7 Understanding the Self. Children need to acquire self-knowledge and understand the importance of assuming responsibility for their own spiritual development.

C-W8 Understanding the True Meaning and Purpose of Distinction and the need to strive for excellence is necessary so that children
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may realize their spiritual potential in adulthood.

C-W9 Understanding Future Responsibilities. Children need to be given opportunities to understand their mission in life.

C-W10 Understanding the Importance of Moderation. As children mature, they need to learn the wisdom of moderation as it applies to individual endeavor and behavior and to civilization itself.

SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION

C-SP1 Discovering One's Purpose in Life. Children need to recognize their purpose in life at an early age.

C-SP2 Perceiving the Importance of Vision and High Aims in the Process of Goal Setting.

C-SP3 Discerning the Difference between Divine and Satanic Knowledge. Education should enable the learner to discern between divine and satanic knowledge.

C-SP4 Instilling the Love and Fear of God in children is essential for their spiritual growth.

C-SP5 Perceiving the Meaning of True Liberty. Children need to gain a clear understanding of the relationship between "freedom" and submission to God's Laws.

C-SP6 Perceiving the Importance of Developing Spiritual Characteristics. Children need to grasp the importance of developing one's spiritual and moral character.

C-SP7 Perceiving the Mysteries in the Sacred Writings. From early childhood, children must be encouraged to ponder and reflect on the mysteries contained in the holy writings and to seek an ever-deeper comprehension of their meaning.

C-SP8 Perceiving the Importance of Chastity and Purity. Shoghi Effendi's clear and unambiguous definition of the Bahá'í concept of chastity implies that the foundation for a chaste and holy life must be laid in early childhood.


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C-SP9 Perceiving the Relationship Between Physical Cleanliness and Spirituality. Children need to know that personal cleanliness has an effect on spiritual growth.

C-SP10 Perceiving the Divine Nature of the Fund. Children's Bahá'í identity and appreciation of the meaning of sacrifice will be fostered by participation in and education about the Bahá'í Fund.

C-SP11 Perceiving the Bounty of Huqúqu'lláh. Children who grow up with an ever-deepening desire to obey this great Law will also enjoy the blessings promised to those who do so.

C-SP12 Perceiving One's Relationship to the Environment. The spiritual education of children must enable them to discern the complex, interdependent relationship between humanity and the world of nature.

C-SP13 Perceiving the Importance of Kindness to Animals. Education about the world of nature must encourage kindness toward animals.

ELOQUENT SPEECH

C-ES1 The Importance of Recitation of the Holy Writings, both to children and by them, is emphasized in the sacred texts.

C-ES2 Using the Power of Speech Effectively. Children from their earliest years need to learn the purpose of words and their proper use.

C-ES3 The Importance of Eloquence. Children need to be enabled to develop clear and cogent speech.

C-ES4 Awareness of the Affective Power of Speech. Children need to become aware of the effects their words and deeds have upon the hearts and lives of others.

C-ES5 Using the Power of Action. Children need to understand how true learning and thought are manifested not through words, but in action.


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C-ES6 Demonstrating Spiritual Qualities. Children need to be trained lovingly to demonstrate good manners and praiseworthy virtues.

C-ES7 Service to the World of Humanity is an Essential Element of Bahá'í Education. Because service to the world of humanity is the highest station to which a person can aspire, spiritual education programs must have service to the world of humanity as both a foundation and outcome.

C-ES8 Empowering Young Teachers of the Faith. The best way to encourage children to demonstrate their knowledge of the Faith and to serve humanity is for parents and teachers to give them opportunities to participate in teaching the Faith.

D. THE PROCESS OF SPIRITUAL EDUCATION

STAGES OF MATURITY

D-SM1 Infancy. Spiritual education must commence from the beginning of life. During infancy children are to receive bountiful love, begin to understand and practice standards of excellence, and begin their divine education.

D-SM2 Childhood. The formal education of children should begin when they have developed the ability to make distinctions. Childhood is a period of construction, vigorous growth, and learning. A spiritual education in childhood will lead to the acquisition of spiritual qualities, prosperity, success, preservation from tests, and, ultimately, the security of humanity. Character rectification and development become more difficult after a child reaches puberty.

D-SM3 Puberty and Youth. The need to impart Bahá'u'lláh's teachings to children at an early age becomes more apparent as the child reaches puberty. This is a time for character refinement through direct experiences that enable the child to become a spiritual youth and a steadfast adults. It is a time of preparation and readiness for increased responsibility. During these youthful years many profound decisions and important efforts are made that forever shape one's life.


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D-SM4 Maturity: Realization of Potential. Maturity is the conscious use of the attributes and qualities developed through experience. It is a time when self-knowledge is acquired and inherent moral capabilities are demonstrated. During this stage the individual functions with increasing independence, conscious interdependence, judgment, and responsibility.

ATTENDING TO INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, CAPABILITY, AND INTEREST

D-IN1 Each child's Potential Consists of a Capacity and Capability that is Unique and Inestimable.

D-IN2 Teaching Children in Groups. This strategy enables each group to be taught according to its capacity.

INSTRUCTIONAL METHODS

D-IM1 Establishing a Loving Environment. Those who educate children must demonstrate great love and kindness and bring joy to the children's hearts. They should be fully aware of the effect of words and deeds on the sensitive hearts of children.

D-IM2 Direct Use of the Bahá'í Sacred Writings. Direct use of the sacred writings allows children to develop their own understanding of the truths the writings contain. Memorizing prayers and tablets and reciting them by heart in sweet tones is encouraged.

D-IM3 Education Must be Directed Toward the Recognition of God. The process of education should invovle children in discovering and understanding inner realitieis. This includes the realization that all learning must be directed toward the Holy Threshold and be undertaken in God's service.

D-IM4 Educational Activities Must Involve Service to Humanity. Inculcating in the minds and hearts of children the great importance of a true spirit of service to humanity is clearly identified as a central element of every aspect of spiritual education.

D-IM5 Engaging the Mind and the Heart. The Bahá'í teachings are to be understood with both mind and heart—the intellect and the emotions. Effective instructional methods will engage both.


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D-IM6 Private Study of the Writings. Children must be encouraged to study the Bahá'í writings regularly. This study is not to be limied to short periods of formal instruction; it needs to occur privately, at home.

LEARNING TOOLS

D-LT1 Establishing Bonds of Unity and Friendship. Love and genuine fellowship must be cultivated among children.

D-LT2 Use of Consultation. Bahá'u'lláh has provided humankind with consultation as a powerful tool for the acquisition of understanding and the development of human affairs. Such a tool, when applied to the education of children, will greatly enhance their capacity to understand and learn the concepts, verities, and history of the Faith. The use of consultation will also develop in children the attitudes, qualities, and skills that will enable them to serve effectively as members of administrative groups and institutions.

D-LT3 Use of Questioning and Peer Teaching. A socially and intellectually important activity closely related to the use of consultation is the interaction among children themselves in the learning process. Such group modes of learning enable children to make great progress.

D-LT4 Independent Investigation and Using the Power of Reasoning. Spiritual education should engage children in independent investigation. This process should use and develop children's reasoning powers and foster their reliance on God's confirmations and assistance.

D-LT5 Memorization and Recitation are important learning tools. This includes memorization and recitation of prayers and tablets in the noble and beautiful words of the Founders of the Faith and the preparation and delivery of speeches.

D-LT6 Use of Meditation and Reflection. Meditiaton is a key to opening the heart and mind to inner mysteries. It enables children to understand the greatness of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation and sets them on a spiritual path that leads to certitude.


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D-LT7 Use of Parables and Stories. 'Abdu'l-Bahá suggests using parables to help children understand the complex and hidden meanings embedded in the sacred writings. Parables can be used to teach children about the fear of God. Stories are important tools for learning about the Bahá'í revelation and about previous Dispensations. Stories are also an important means of guiding children's actions, for they provide powerful models for young lives.

D-LT8 Use of Music. Music is a perfect tool for awakening a deeper understanding of spiritual matters.

D-LT9 Use of Drama. In all its forms of expression, drama is an important tool in the spiritual education of children.

D-LT10 Employing Creativity and the Arts. The creative impulse is both an indication and an outcome of our spiritual nature. Art and literature play an important role in the development of the child's sensitivity and creativity.

D-LT11 Engaging Children in Science and in the Investigation of the World of Nature is another important tool in spiritual education. As a child contemplates science and nature, truths about the majesty of God and His creation unfold, providing insight into spiritual realities.

D-LT12 The Importance of Play and the Use of Manipulatives is important, especially in early childhood.

D-LT13 Use of Travel and field trips broadens the knowledge and understanding of children.

D-LT14 Recreation is necessary to every aspect of children's learning.

ORGANIZATION, EVALUATION, AND METHODS OF DISCIPLINE

D-01 Organization of Education. Educational programs should be thoroughly planned, well organized, and implemented over time with firmness, steadfastnes,s and perseverance.

D-E1 Evaluation of Children's Learning Experiences should occur throgh observation of their actions.


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D-MD1 Use of Positive Reinforcement. Encouragement and patient counsel and training are the hallmarks of a Bahá'í teacher of children. Abuse in any form—whether verbal or physical—is not permissible.

D-MD2 The Importance of Counsel. Counsel and discipline must be directed toward character refinement and the goal of striving for excellence.

D-MD3 Children Should be Taught to Pursue Excellence and Advancement with Perseverance. Children must be encouraged to strive toward a standard of excellence in all their undertakings, including their spiritual growth and development.

D-MD4 Obedience. The concept of obedience begins with the relationship between the child and the parents and extends to the child's relationship to God, His Messengers, and the divine institutions.

E. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

E-RR1 The Elected Assemblies, the Institutions of the Learned, and the Community are charged with various roles in the responsibility of establishing, financing, and protecting the education of children. The children are to be encouraged to participate in all events and activities and should receive the love and affection of the community.

E-RR2 The Role and Station of the Teacher. The Bahá'í teacher of children is devoted to the spiritual training of children in the community. Teachers are called upon to strive toward steadfastness and perfection; to become fully aware of the strengths and needs of each child; and to provide opportunities for their spiritual, moral, social, and intellectual growth.

E-RR3 The Role of Parents. The Bahá'í Writings place primary accountability upon parents for the spiritual education of their children.

E-RR4 The Special Role of Fathers. Fathers have a special role not only in seeing to the intellectual education of their children, but also in promoting and encouraging their morality, their understanding of the sacred texts, and in binding their hearts to God.


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E-RR5 The Unique Role of Mothers. According to the writings of Bah'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, one of the goals of the education of women is their preparation for their unique role as the first educators of children. This is a role that begins at conception and continues throughout pregnancy and their children's infancy and early childhood. This early age is a critical period in the child's life when Bahá'í qualities and ideals are instilled in the mind and heart.

E-RR6 The Role of Children. Children must strive to become educated and have respect for parents and all members of the community.


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BIBLIOGRAPHY

FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH

Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988.

Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983.

The Hidden Words. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1939.

The Kitáb-i-Aqdas: The Most Holy Book. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1993.

The Kitáb-i-Íqán: The Book of Certitude. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983.

Prayers and Meditations. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987.

The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys. Translated by Marzieh Gail and Ali-Kuli Khan. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1991.

Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Translated by Habib Taherzadeh et al. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988.

FROM THE WRITINGS AND UTTERANCES OF 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ

'Abdu'l-Bahá in London: Addresses and Notes of Conversations. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

Paris Talks: Addresses Given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911. 11th ed. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1969.

Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Compiled by Howard MacNutt. 2d ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

Secret of Divine Civilization. Translated by Marzieh Gail and Ali-Kuli Khan. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1990.


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Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Translated by a Committee at the Bahá'í World Centre and Marzieh Gail. Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1978.

Some Answered Questions. Compiled and translated by Laura Clifford Barney. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984.

Tablets of Abdul-Baha Abbas. 3 vols. New York: Bahai Publishing Society, 1909-16.

Tablets of the Divine Plan: Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Bahá'ís. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1993.

"'The worst enemies of the Cause are in the Cause,'" in Star of the West, vol. 6, no. 6 (June 24, 1915), pp. 43-45.

FROM THE WRITINGS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI

The Advent of Divine Justice. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1990.

Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932. 7th ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1974.

Dawn of a New Day. New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, [1970].

Directives from the Guardian. New delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, n. d.

Letter dated 17 April 1936 to Mr. Bernard Gottlieb, in Bahá'í News, no. 104 (Dec. 1936), p. 1.

The Unfolding Destiny of the British Bahá'í Community: The Messages from the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith to the Bahá'ís of the British Isles. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981.

The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters. 1st ps ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1991.

STATEMENTS OF THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE

The Promise of World Peace: To the Peoples of the World. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985.

Messages from the Universal House of Justice: 1963-73. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.

Wellsprings of Guidance: Messages, 1963-1968. 2d ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.

COMPILATIONS OF BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS

"Bahá'í Methods of Education: A Compilation of the Words of Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha to assist Parents and Teachers in the Education of Children," in Star of the West, Parts 1-3. Vol. 9, no. 7 (Aug. 1, 1918), pp. 81-88; no. 8 (Aug. 1, 1918), pp. 89-96; no. 9 (Aug. 20, 1918), pp. 97-104.

"Necessity of Education—Training of the Children: Words of Baha'o'llah and Abdul-Baha," in Star of the West, vol. 7, no. 15 (Dec. 12, 1916), pp. 141-44.


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Bahá'í World Faith: Selected Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. 2d ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976.

Bahá'í Education. Compiled by the Universal House of Justice. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987.

A Compilation of Bahá'í Writings on Music. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Oakham, England: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1973.

Excellence in All Things. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Oakham, England: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981.

The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith. Compiled by the Universal House of Justice. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983.

The Pattern of Bahá'í Life: A Compilation from Bahá'í Scripture with some passages from the writings of the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith. Compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United Kingdom. 3d ed. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1963.

A Chaste and Holy Life: A compilation of extracts from the Bahá'í Writings. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988.

Conservation of the Earth's Resources: A compilation of extracts from the Bahá'í Writings. Prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1990.

Consultation: A Compilation: Extracts from the Writings and Utterances of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Thornhill, Ont.: Bahá'í Community of Canada, 1980.

Huqúqu'lláh: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Thornhill, Ont.: Bahá'í Canada Publications, 1986.

Stirring of the Spirit: Celebrating the Institution of the Nineteen Day Feast. Compiled by the Universal House of Justice. [Thornhill, Ont.]: National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Canada, 1990.

Women: Extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Thornhill, Ont.: Bahá'í Canada Publications, 1986.

Bahá'í Prayers: A Selection of Prayers Revealed by Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. New ed. Wilmette Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1991.

Family Life. Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice. Oakham, Eng.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982.

The Compilation of Compilations: Prepared by the Universal House of Justice 1963-1990. 2 vols. Australia: Bahá'í Publications Australia, 1991.


page 208

Shoghi Effendi and The Universal House of Justice. Centers of Bahá'í Learning: Extracts from the Writings of Shoghi Effendi and The Universal House of Justice. Compiled by the Universal House of Justice. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980.

Living the Life. London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984.

Bahá'í Youth: A Compilation. Compiled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1973.

OTHER SOURCES

The Bahá'í World: A Biennial International Record, Volume IX, 1940-1944. Compiled by the National Spiriual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States and Canada. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1945.

Esslemont, J. E. Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era: An Introduction to the Bahá'í Faith. 5th rev. ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980.

"Green Acre News," in Bahá'í News, no. 73 (May 1933), p. 2.

Grundy, Julia M. Ten Days in the Light of 'Akká. Rev. ed. Wilmette, Ill.: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979.

"In Its Full Splendor," in Bahá'í News, no. 73 (May 1933), p. 7.

Patrick, Bertha Hyde. "Teach Us to Pray," in Star of the West, vol. 20, no. 10 (Jan. 1930), pp. 314-318.

Star of the West, vol. 17, no. 2 (May 1926).

Taherzadeh, Adib. The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh. Oxford: George Ronald, 1992.

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