1931-12-29 re “Divine Art of Living”
USBN #59 - February 1932 - page 8
Letter received by the Publishing Committee
Dear Mrs. Little:
Shoghi Effendi wishes me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter, written
on behalf of the Publishing Committee, regarding the Publication of the "Divine
Art of Living .
Shoghi Effendi has laid down a principal that the Baha'is should not
attribute much importance to talks, reported to have been given by the Master, if
there have not in one form or another obtained His sanction.
Baha'u'llah has made it clear enough that only those things that have been
revealed in the form of Tablets have a binding power over the friends. Hearsays
may be matters of interest but can in no way claim authority. This basic teaching
of Baha'u'llah was to preserve the Faith from being corrupted like Islam which
attributes binding authority to all the reported sayings of Muhammad.
This being a basic principle of the Faith we should not confuse Tablets that
were actually revealed and mere talks attributed to the founders of the Cause. The
first have absolute binding authority while the latter can in no way claim our
obedience. The highest thing this can achieve is to influence the activities of
the one who has heard the saying in person.
Those talks of the Master that were later reviewed by Him and corrected or
in some other form considered authentic by Himself, such as the "Some Answered
"Questions , these could be considered as Tablets and therefore be given the
necessary binding power. All the other talks such as are included in Ahmad's diary
or the other diaries of pilgrims, do not fall under this category and could be
considered only as interesting material to be taken for what they are worth.
For this reason Shoghi Effendi has not been encouraging the publication of
reported sayings that were not authenticated by the Master Himself. Shoghi Effendi
is trying to prevent the friends from considering as actual words of the Master
things that were not authenticated by Him.
Now in so far as the "Divine Art of Living is concerned, some of the friends
wrote Shoghi Effendi and stated that the book is very much liked, so he did permit
its publication in its old form. The question, however, totally changes when the
plates no more exist. He would surely not advise you to undertake that expense at
this time and bring out a book where authentic and non-authentic material is
hopelessly confused. It greatly detracts from the worth of a book to have in it
quotations from Tablets which are absolutely binding and reported sayings that
have no authority.
In closing may I assure you of Shoghi Effendi's prayers and best wishes and
assure you of his loving greetings.
Yours ever sincerely
(Signed) Ruhi Afnan.