In the Days of the Guardian
by Leroy Ioas1958-10-31
In the Days of the Guardian:
If the establishment of the Bahá’í Faith in South Africa, in this difficult area, and it’s very difficult, the very fact that it is difficult will bring about great results in the future, and will produce great Bahá’í teachers and great Bahá’í workers.
Teaching the Cause is disseminating the power of the Holy Spirit, and when you become a teacher of the Cause you become a channel through which the Holy Spirit descends into the world and goes out to those to whom you teach. So actually, the teacher secures greater benefit than the one whom he teaches, because he is then in contact with the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the Holy Land where we, Mrs. Ioas and I, had the privilege of serving the beloved Guardian for six years, you learned a little bit of what it meant to be in contact with the Holy Spirit directly, because you were continuously in the presence of the beloved Guardian, and, as you know, he was like a generator of spiritual power. When you met the Guardian, you could just feel his spiritual power, this penetrating light through your very being, and to move continuously in that power, in that force, is not an easy thing. It was something to aspire to, but I don’t think very many of us actually achieved, very much in the way of nearness to his spirit. The power of the emanating guidance of God descended upon Shoghi Effendi at all times, and in all things he did, and in all of his ways and his actions and deeds, you could see the supreme guidance which he was receiving in the carrying on of Bahá’í work.
Shoghi Effendi completely dedicated his whole life to the Cause of God. He had no other thought. He ate, he slept, he was awake, he worked, every minute, day and night, was for the Cause of God. He thought of nothing else. Nothing else was of any interest to him. He didn’t talk about anything else. He talked about the conditions of the Plan. He talked about the services of the friends. And he was like a barometer. When any word came from any part of the world about successes of the believers in the teaching work they did, he was joyous and he was happy. But when word came of difficulties within the Faith, of persecutions of the some of the Baha’is, of difficulties that the pioneers were meeting with, the suffering of the believers, he became very sad. His heart was like a mirror, and it seemed reflect all parts of the world. And wherever he turned his heart, he saw what was there. He saw pictured before him the exact conditions of the believers themselves. So that if any of you, especially the pioneers, especially those of you who came into new areas to teach, and those of you who have been carrying on the teaching work in the new areas, have any idea that you are alone, that God is not with you, that the power of the Holy Spirit is not with you, dispel that from your mind, because the Power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit is with you all the time, every minute day and night. And the Guardian himself, even in his physical form, pledged to those things in the Holy Land, and he talked to us about them day after day and night after night.
I want to give you just one day in the Guardian’s life so you can appreciate a little bit more what it is to be the head of a faith like the Bahá’í Faith. Shoghi Effendi usually arose in the morning about 5:30. And then he had his period of prayer and devotions and meditation. After that he would receive, or he still had the pile of mail from yesterday or the day before, piles of mail. And he would start to go through this mail from all over the world. And he would indicate on each letter what should be done with it. Well, the thing that interested me very much, because I come from a business background, and had a large offi ce and had lots of mail (I never opened my own mail; it was always handled by someone else), but Shoghi Effendi opened every letter that was addressed to him. Anyone that wrote any letter that wrote a letter that was addressed to Shoghi Effendi, that was opened by the Guardian himself. And he took out the letter and read it, and then he indicated and instructed what was to be done with it. Sometimes he gave it to Ruhiyyah Khanum to respond to. Sometimes he gave it to me. Other times he gave it to Dr. Hakkim if it were to the Oriental countries and had to be answered in Persian. Every piece of mail that was ever addressed to the Guardian of the Cause was received by him personally and was opened by him personally, so that everyone was assured that their messages to him throughout his own eyes, his own heart and his own mind.
Well, after going through this correspondence, for hours, and don’t think it was light – one evening he came over and said, “Today I received 700 pages of minutes and records from different parts of the world, and I had to read them all.” Now that came pretty nearly every day; not in that volume, but I just mention that volume just so that you have an idea what it was just to read the mail, let alone consider what was to be done about all of the questions that were asked, and to issue the instructions about what should be done all over the world.
And in the afternoon he went up into the Mount Carmel, and the Bahá’í gardens there, which he had built himself, and he met the Oriental pilgrims. He walked with them in the gardens. He talked with them. He had tea with them. He answered their questions. He talked about the Cause in all parts of the world, but particularly in the Orient; what should be done—this problem, that problem, the other problem. And then he would lead them into the shrine. And after a period of prayer and devotion there in which he chanted for them, they would return, and then he would come down and continue with his mail and his cables as they came in during the day, answer the cables. Then in the evening he would come in and have dinner with the pilgrims from the western part of the world, and with the members of the International Bahá’í Council. Then he would talk about the Cause with the people from the West. He talked with them in English, since Shoghi Effendi spoke a number of languages, English and Persian and Arabic very well, and he would talk about the Cause and the different conditions all throughout the world. Then he would talk about conditions in their own country. One of the most interesting that we experienced was, say, a pilgrim would come, let’s say, from Canada, and he would ask, “Well, how is the Cause developing in Canada? How is it progressing? How many centers do you have? How many spiritual assemblies do you have? And how many groups do you have?” “Well, Shoghi Effendi, I don’t know.” And he said, “Well, you don’t know, but I do know, and I’ll tell you what it was.” And it didn’t matter what country it was, if it was Swaziland, or South Africa. He would tell you what the number of assemblies was, or the number of groups, or the number of Baha’is, or the condition of the Baha’is. Any part of the world, it made no difference. So he would talk to each and every one about their own country, about the conditions there, about the social conditions, about the problems under which they worked, and give them hope and encouragement and guidance and instructions.
And then he would take that occasion to talk over many of the problems with the International Council. Shoghi Effendi was not a person who had very many secrets. He allowed no one to speak of anything of the things that happened in the Holy Land, or, actually, any of the personal discussions that took place at the table with the pilgrims. But the business of the Cause around the Holy Land, he usually talked about it, he talked at that time, and gave his instructions. And it is very interesting, his instructions were always right. One time I was handling a certain matter for the Guardian with the government authorities. Mr. Opper, was there, and he will remember it. I was telling the Guardian, and he asked me what I was doing, and I told him, and he said, well I think you’d better go to see Mr. Ehtan, and he’s our friend, and he’ll help us. Now that didn’t seem to be the wise thing for me to do because I’d been handling it along a different line. And I explained to the Guardian, now, I think Mr. ____ is our friend, you see him. Well, actually, Mr. Ehtan is the one that solved the whole problem for us later on. I went to him and appealed to him very strongly, and that settled it. I mention this to show the guidance of the Guardian and to how in all things he was making decisions all the time. You send him a cable from South Africa, he considers it, and he prays about it and gives you an answer, and that’s the Will of God, and that’s the way it works.
So when I give you this as a picture of one day in Shoghi Effendi’s life. Remember, it wasn’t one day, and then he rested for a week. It wasn’t two days and then he rested. It was three days. It was four days. It was five days. It was six days. It was seven days. And it was that way week after week and week after week.
When he was in the Holy Land, there was no rest whatsoever for the Guardian. From early morning, five-thirty in the morning, until eleven or eleven-thirty at night. Burdened, problems all over the world; people never thought to, until the last few years, to send him the encouraging word of what had been done, the great victories that had been won. But if anyone had any trouble, he would cable the Guardian for guidance, and he had to solve the problems of the world in that way. So he was continuously under the pressure of the friends at all times.
When I first arrived in the Holy Land, there were two or three things about the Guardian that impressed me very much. And one was, particularly, the size of the Guardian. Now in the West, for you people who haven’t been in the West, we’ve come to associate the idea of majesty and greatness with size. The man had to be a great man, had to be a big man, six feet tall, big shoulders, and so on. Shoghi Effendi was a very and refined man. He was small in stature. He was so refined and delicate. His features, his nose, his eyes, his hands, every one of his features was so delicate, so refined, and so perfect that you could realize that the power when he spoke was not of the man, Shoghi Effendi, but was the power of the Spirit coming through him. He was a channel that God used. He was not just a man sitting there. I used to sit and marvel, the Guardian, so refined, so delicate, so beautiful, and yet the power with which he spoke! And when he would speak about the power of the Cause of God the building was shaking, the whole thing was shaking. It was a tremendous experience to see how God could use a chosen instrument to speak through, and to work through, and to disseminate His Will and His Power throughout the world.
Shoghi Effendi was about the size or smaller than Abdu’l-Baha. You’ve all seen pictures of Abdu’l-Baha. Shoghi Effendi was smaller than Abdu’l-Baha. He looked quite a bit like Abdu’l-Baha, and he walked like the Master; he had the same stance as the Master. One time I was walking along the top of the Shrine of the Bab, (we were building the Shrine) and I looked down, and the Guardian was coming into the garden and the sun was shining on him, and as I looked down, I said, “Good gracious, there is Abdu’l-Baha.” And then I looked down again, of course, it was the Guardian. But if he had had a white beard on him, I would have sworn it was the Master, because it was the same walk, the same stance, the same look.
He had the same features in his face, generally, as Abdu’l-Baha, which means he had quite a few of the same features as Baha’u’llah. When you see the pictures of Abdu’l-Baha, you’ll see some of those features. The construction of the eyes was like the Bab. You know that he was a descendant of both Baha’u’llah and of the Bab.
And his hands, most delicate and graceful hands, the fact of the matter is that when he was a child, the Greatest Holy Leaf, who was Abdu’l-Baha’s sister, and who we look upon as the most holy and most perfect woman in the Baha’i world, the Greatest Holy Leaf used to hold him in her lap and hold his hands and she’d say, these are the hands of Baha’u’llah. The Guardian was always a very serious, and yet a very delightful character. Even when he was small, he showed his signs of power and greatness. And Abdu’l-Baha used to insist that everyone called him Shoghi Effendi. They were never allowed to call him Shoghi, like you do with children, using just his first name, but He insisted that they use his title of Effendi, Shoghi Effendi. Even his father and mother had to call him Shoghi Effendi. And Abdu’l-Baha used to call him Shoghi Effendi. And always, they used to say, he would pat him on the head and call him his little House of Justice, to show that even from childhood, Abdu’l-Baha had indicated that he would be the successor to Abdu’l-Baha and would become the head of the Faith.
Another one of the qualities that you found in Shoghi Effendi, and which rather astonished me, was humility. I had studied a lot in the writings about humility. I had read a lot in the religious teachings about being humble, and I thought I knew a little bit about what it meant. But you knew nothing about humility until you saw Shoghi Effendi. Shoghi Effendi never spoke of himself, and one of the things that interested me very much when he was talking about the Cause and its development, he would speak about the conditions in the days of the Bab, and he would speak about the conditions and activities of the Faith in the days of Baha’u’llah, and he would speak about the conditions and activities of the Faith in the days of Abdu’l-Baha, and then he would speak about the Faith in the days after Abdu’l-Baha. He never said in the days of the Guardian, or in my period of administration, but he always referred to the days after Abdu’l-Baha.
One time we were talking, and I made some comment to the Guardian about some of the activities of the Cause, I don’t remember what it was, and I mentioned his name in the same sentence and almost in the same vein as that of the Master. And he stopped me and said, “Don’t ever do that. Don’t ever mention my name in the same breath as you mention the Master. The Master was like the ocean; I am like a drop. The Master was like the sun; and I am like an atom. So don’t ever, ever mention my name in the same theme or same trend of thought as that of the Master. There is a vast gulf between Abdu’l-Baha, and all the rest of creation, and the between the Guardian.”
Another thing that interested me very much was during the 10-year crusade particularly. We were there serving him during the crusade. He never referred to the crusade as his plan. That it was something that he had given to the friends. That it was something that he had worked out for the friends to work and to accomplish. But he always spoke about the crusade as the task which God has given us to do. Just like he had no part of the crusade whatsoever. That he was a channel through which the power of the spirit flowed and gave this procedure to the world. That he had more to do of it than anyone else except that he happened to be the channel. So, he always spoke of the tasks that we have to do, including himself and those who have to fulfill the obligations of the 10-year crusade.
There is a mountain and an ocean full of love and tenderness and generosity. It is amazing to me how he would never forget the least little thing, a little thing that we would consider completely unimportant. He would comment on something, and you would think, “Well, that was very beautiful.” Two or three weeks later, he would say, “I told you about so-and-so on that day, and now here is the rest of it.” Things that you would dismiss in your mind, the least little things, the Guardian never forgot anything; even the smallest things.
As he would go about, he would always be complimenting someone. The gardeners, even the gardeners taking care of the garden, he would say, “You planted that very beautifully. Your flowers are very beautiful. I am very pleased with the way that you are keeping up this lawn. And I would like you to do so and so, and it’s just very beautiful.” Everyone who worked for him, he was always thinking what he could say to make him happy. Everyone who had personal difficulties, he would say, what can I do to make that person happy? What can I do to lighten his load, so that he could carry on a little bit more efficiently, never thinking of himself. How could he have time, with all the world’s problems on his mind, to be thinking of all of these little things, all of those things which he did. It was amazing, his love! And he loved people. He loved everyone. He looked at everyone and he saw the face of God in everyone. He looked at their attributes of God. He looked at their accomplishments, he looked at their deeds, he didn’t look at their shortcomings. What registered before the Guardian was what the person was offering to God, and not his sins and shortcomings. The accomplishments, the good deeds, the character that he had developed, that’s what the Guardian saw. He didn’t see the other things. He wasn’t interested them. Always ready to forgive, always ready to help. So, this love of the Guardian, this tenderness, this gentleness, the way the man who has to rule the world and rule it with iron, it is a combination that is almost inconceivable, that a person could be so full of love and tenderness, and a tenderness that you can’t understand. No one would realize how he suffered from things, from mistreatment by some of the members of his family. Nobody knows what he suffered. You had to be there to see it. And anyone never said anything, but he would clearly suffer from those who had turned away from the Cause. His own kin. It was very difficult, because his love was so great. His forgiveness was so great. His forbearance was so great.
This gentleness, and this consideration, and this love, I want to tell you just two little stories. One of them -- there was a pilgrim from the United States, a Mrs.True, the American Baha’is who are here, of course, remember her very well. One of the early of the Cause and one of the great workers for the Baha’i temple, and one of the great pillars of the Cause, and she is now a Hand of the Cause. She leaves the Guardian; she’s ninety-five years old, and of course the Guardian was very pleased that she had come at that age. And they talked about the early days of the Cause, and what the Master had said, what she had done for the Master, and so on. One evening he came over and said, “Now, Mrs. True, I have a gift for you tonight.” She was quite excited, of course. Being elderly, and a little bit non-plussed as to what to do, he reached down and took it out of his coat pocket and said, “This is a purse which Abdu’l-Baha used, and I know you’ll treasure it and because it’s from him.” And she thanked him, and was quite excited about it. And he said, why don’t you open it and see what’s in it? So she started to open it and fumbling around and he said, “Let me open it for you.” She’s looking in and says, now what’s there? “It’s a gold piece, she said. So he says, “Now just take it out and look at it.” So she took it out and looked at it. And he said, “Now, what’s the date of it, Mrs. True?” She looked at it and said, “1906.” He said, “That’s the date of your first visit to the Holy Land to visit Abdu’l-Baha. And this was a gold coin, which Abdu’l-Baha had.” Well, now, think of that tenderness. With all of the weight that he had on his shoulders, with all of the problems that he had to meet, that he would think of those things, that he would think of this purse, that he would think of that gold piece, and he would think of her first visit in 1906.
Well, another story that I will tell you that has touched me very much, that is very impressive, there was one of the pilgrims from Canada who was a member of the National Assembly, and it was the night of her departure before returning home to Canada. And she was talking to him about translating the Baha’I literature into the Eskimo language. You see, up in the north of Canada, there are lots of Eskimos. In the north of Canada, it’s snow and ice all the time. They never have the warm sunshine like you have here. It never gets warm. They never have these beautiful flowers, and they never have the beautiful birds which you have. So she asked Shoghi Effendi for permission when translating into the Eskimo language to use designations of things in the writings which were familiar to the Eskimos. For instance, she said in the writings, Baha’u’llah speaks about the nightingale and the rose. Now she said, up in the Eskimo country they don’t know what a nightingale is, and they don’t know what a rose is. So can we use the word “penguin”, for instance, or some flower, some of the ice flowers which grow in some of those northern lands. Shoghi Effendi said that when you are translating any literature about the Cause written by other than the prophets or Abdu’l-Baha, yes, you can change and use any other illustrations you want. But when you translate Baha’u’llah’s words, or Abdu’l-Baha’s words, or the Guardian’s words, you translate them exactly as they are. You can’t change anything, and you have to translate “nightingale” and “rose” for the Eskimos. Well, the next night, when the Guardian came over and was bidding her goodbye, he reached in his coat pocket again and brought out a bottle of attar of rose, a very rich oil of rose, the best, most beautiful perfume of rose that there is. And he said, I give you this attar of rose so that when you return to Canada, you can anoint the friends on my behalf and give them all my love. Then in a minute or two, he reached in his pocket and took out another bottle of attar of rose, and he says, this bottle is for the Eskimos. When you make any Eskimos Baha’is, you anoint them with this attar of rose, and give them my love, and in that way they will become acquainted with the rose of Persia.
Well, it was things like that all of the time. How the Guardian ever thought of all of these matters is difficult to conceive how he encompassed it in the period of twenty-four hours, from early morning, late at night, pressure, problems! Sometimes he became so nervous that he couldn’t eat because of some of the problems that were confronting the Baha’is in different parts of the world. Certain things had to be decided. Things had to be done. I’ll speak of one or two of them later, perhaps. But this was the last of the Guardian’s tenderness.
Now another thing that interested me very much, and which was a lesson to me – it was the same lesson that Abdu’l-Baha gave the Baha’is around him, in his days -- the spiritual insight of Shoghi Effendi. He wasn’t interested in the man. He wasn’t interested in his clothes. All he was interested in was interested in was his character and his devotion to the Cause. Someone knocked on the door of the Western pilgrim house, and I opened the door, and a man arrived very poorly dressed and rather a nondescript appearance, and I said, “Yes, what can we do for you? Is there anything that we can do for you?” And he said, “I am Charles Dunning. I am the pioneer from the Orchney Islands.” “Well, come right in.” And I welcomed the man, showed him to his room and made sure that he was comfortable and had one thing and another, and then he was busy during the day and it became time for the Guardian to come over for dinner. It was usual at dinner time to receive the new pilgrims that had come, to have dinner with them and to talk with them and, so, for us it was a very important event. I mean, every time you saw the Guardian it was a new event, it wasn’t that you saw him this morning, and you will see him this evening. It was a new occasion. It was hard to describe the Guardian. You were so close to him that you couldn’t be any closer, and yet you were so far from him that you couldn’t be any farther, because there was no association with the infallibility of the Guardian. That was always there. And there is no association for that guidance which comes. He was the only one. I used to feel so sorry for Shoghi Effendi. I can’t tell you the problems and problems, and he had no one to consult with. No one to share these burdens with him. He had to decide for himself. He had to consider for himself, and he had to make the decision himself, because there was no associate for this divine guidance. What it was, we don’t know. I don’t know. Whatever it is, and how it worked, but there it is, and you saw it all the time. “Well, I said to Charles, we are getting ready to go down to have dinner with the Guardian, and do you think maybe you want to change your clothes and clean up a little bit for the Guardian.” And he says, “Yes, I will. I will.” So he went down and he was wearing the same clothes, which was all right, but when he came in the Guardian put his arms around him and kissed him. Now the Guardian very seldom kissed anyone. He embraced everyone, but he very seldom kissed anyone. And he sat him down at the table next to him, and he said, “You’re a Knight of Baha’u’llah, and you deserve to be at the head of this table.” The spiritual insight! The Guardian saw in that man, the sacrifice for the Cause, his devotion for the Cause, his service in those difficult Orchney Islands. You think you have it difficult here, but it is nothing compared to the Orchney Islands, I tell you. People there are hard. People there are disinterested in religion. It’s a cold, miserable country. There’s nothing that lends itself. Here you have the sunshine, you have the flowers, but he was there singly and alone serving in that cold, bleak place, and I think the people are colder than the weather. It’s terrible, and the Guardian realized it. The Guardian said that, after he left, he is one of God’s heroes of the present time. I mention this so you can see how Shoghi Effendi had an insight into everyone; his tenderness, his love. And yet, friends, the precision of mind! You can’t feel the precision of mind. I’ve dealt in America with high executives all of my business life. Men who have a problem, and they size it up, and they see the meat and heart of it and seize the situation immediately, but they pale along the side of Shoghi Effendi. Even those long letters from various parts of the world and they defuse their love for the Guardian, their devotion for the Guardian, what they would do to serve the Guardian, and then two or three pages of questions, and he would read them and say, “But why don’t they just tell me what they want to know? They keep talking around the subject instead of the heart.” He said, “I don’t have time to read all of these pages. Now why don’t you correspond and find out exactly what the question is, and then give it to me and I’ll give them the answer.” Mind of precision you never saw! He was small in stature, he was tender, he was kind, he was loving, but I tell you the precise mind! And how he suffered from the inefficiencies of the Baha’is. He used to get letters from other people and national assemblies, mountains, and oceans and oceans of devotion, but mountains of inefficiency. Everything he did was efficient. Everything he did had to have a result immediately. And when I was there, we started to talk to him about this, and he answered many questions. There wasn’t any need to go into all of the details. “Well, I went to Jerusalem, and I told Mr. Smith, and I talked with him,…”, and he would say, “No, no, Mr. Smith said so-and-so in Jerusalem, and that’s all the things that should be answered.” He wasn’t interested in details. He was only interested in the heart of every subject, and it was in the heart that he gave his answer, and gave it immediately. And if the heart wasn’t there, he recognized it.
Well, this was a sort of a general picture of Shoghi Effendi. Now, you ask, or I’ve been asked, and I ask myself, “What was this infallible guidance of the Guardian?” Many people have asked me as I have gone from place to place, when did the mere physical part of Shoghi Effendi end and where did the spiritual part begin? When did Shoghi Effendi end and the Guardian begin? I had a little experience. I’ll tell you two experiences I had, and then you will see how this thing worked, and how it worked over the world.
The Guardian was talking one night about the administrative order of the Faith, and how it evolved, and how it had grown, and I repeat the question was how the something about the difference between the national spiritual assemblies and the Universal Justice when it’s formed. I don’t remember the exact question. Another member made that question. And as the Guardian was talking, I made a mental note, and I said, now under certain circumstances, that won’t work. When the Guardian finishes his talking, I’m going to ask him permission to elucidate the matter further. So he went on talking, and finally finished his discourse, and took a sip from his cup of coffee, and then he turned to me and said, now under certain circumstances you wouldn’t think that would work. But, he says, I’ll explain to you how it does work. I don’t know.
When you realize that the Guardian knows these things when he wants to know, you think, you have to keep your mind pretty clear all the time.
Another time he came over for dinner and he was rather disturbed. He had some cables from America about certain matters, and some actions had been taken, and he was a little disturbed at the actions which were taken, actually, and he started to talk about it, and discuss it, and he read the cable that had been received, and he turned to me and said, “Roy, you were on the National Assembly when this thing happened, when it first came up, weren’t you?” And I said, “Yes, sir, I was.” And he said, “Can you tell me what happened there at that first meeting?” So I started to tell him what happened. He stopped me when I got about one-fifth of the way, and he said, “No, no, no, I will tell you what happened, and then you tell me if I’m right or wrong.” And then he proceeded to discuss that meeting, what had taken place. The spirit behind the actions which were taken, which was the thing I was trying to convey to him, because the action was simple. You know, you did this. But why did you do this? That’s the important thing. But the spirit behind it. And he described that in detail, and he said, “Am I right or am I wrong?” And I said, “Shoghi Effendi, you are right even to the details.” He said, “You see, I don’t have to have all this information. God gives me a feeling in my heart. And when I have that feeling and I have it strong, I know what the situation is, and it doesn’t make any difference what anybody says, what anybody does, what anybody gives me or how much they say, but that’s the situation and I know it, in any part of the world it’s the same thing.”
We had at one time a letter from one member of a national assembly severely criticizing another member of the national assembly, and blaming him for certain things that had been done. Shoghi Effendi sent a cable back to that person and said, no, the one you’re criticizing is not, and you’re responsible. The one you’re criticizing is not responsible, and you’re responsible, and you should stop it immediately. Well, there you have infallible guidance, in all parts of the world, people giving him misleading information, wrong information, that he knew the correct answer; he had that feeling. He said, whenever I have that feeling, I know it’s right, because God has guided me to it, and that is infallible guidance in every part of the world. And everyone was fine when they followed the Guardian’s instructions; they found things always came out correctly.
Now, people have asked, “Did the Guardian have any conception that he was going to pass away? Did he have fore-knowledge, being divinely guided, that he was going to pass away? Again, friends, the answer to the question is that we don’t know. The preponderance of evidence seems to be that he did not know, that he did not expect to pass away. But, I give you these incidences. They are very sad, but I think you should know and would want to know them.
One evening Shoghi Effendi came over, and he was rather, …, hadn’t been well. He was rather disturbed, badly disturbed, in fact. And he sat down, pushed his plate aside, and Ruhiyyih Khanum said, “Shoghi Effendi, won’t you eat? You haven’t eaten all day. You’re hungry. You’re getting weak. You should eat. And then you can talk to the friends later about your cablegram and the matters you want to talk about.” So he said, well, all right, and he pulled his plate back and the servant gave him some food. He ate one or two mouthfuls, and then he pushed it back and started to talk. Well, Shoghi Effendi, we who lived there got to knew if Shoghi Effendi was well or if he was happy, just your whole life was around that of Shoghi Effendi. And if he was well, you got up in the morning and everything was fine. If he was happy, everything was sunshine. Sometimes you got up in the morning and everything was wrong. Why was it wrong? You didn’t know, but you found out during the day that Shoghi Effendi wasn’t well. So this is when he pushed his plate aside, again without eating, and he started to talk. And he said, “You know, shortly before Baha’u’llah passed away, the Master went to see him in Bahji, and He went up to His room and He found His papers all over the floor. So the Master collected them, put them in a neat order, laid them on a divan, and said, Baha’u’llah, I collected your papers and put them in order, and I’ve put them out here so that you can have them. Baha’u’llah took them in His hands and threw them all over the floor again and said, “It doesn’t make any difference. It’s all done.” I don’t want to these papers any more. No more papers!” That was said before Baha’u’llah passed away. So, he said, when Abdu’l-Baha, shortly before Abdu’l-Baha passed away (Abdu’l-Baha was always very meticulous in everything He did), and they found His papers scattered around in His room, and his secretaries collected them and put them in order for Him – put them together – and they took them to Abdu’l-Baha who took the papers and threw them and said, “I’m done with the papers. It doesn’t make any difference now. It’s all finished now. I don’t want any more papers.” And shortly after, He passed away.
He said, “I’m so tired of these papers, I don’t want them anymore. I just don’t want these papers any more. I don’t want them.” Well, we talked to Shoghi Effendi and said, “Don’t talk that way! How can you say these things! You are going to kill your friends here.” And I said to Shoghi Effendi, “Why don’t you give these papers to Ruhiyyih Khanum and myself. Give them to us. We’ll do something with them. We’ll handle them. We’ll digest them. We’ll give you an outline, and so all you have to do is give us the answers, so that if a person raises a question, we’ll give it to you, and all you have to do is say, “Tell him so-and-so. Tell him so-and-so.” And I said, “Shoghi Effendi, no Guardian of this Cause in the future is going to be able to do what you’re doing. No Guardian can receive all these people and give them personal audiences, give them personal contact and answer personal questions, and deal with the personal problems. I said, they have to in the future deal through the intermediaries. Why don’t you just set up now to have an audience with the pilgrims, one hour in the afternoon. Just one hour. Talk to everyone, have a general talk, and then it’s all finished and you can have a little time, so you can rest a little bit, so you won’t have so many burdens, and you’re not so pressed So I talked along that line and Shoghi Effendi said, “Well, it is not time for any change now.” And that was it.
Sometime later, I usually had the privilege of walking home with the Guardian after he left the pilgrims, and very often he talked further about the subject which we had been discussing at dinner, and gave further amplification, which, of course, were very precious moments, and he gave very precious things. So, that evening he had been talking about spiritual matters. It was the most spiritual talk that I had ever heard the Guardian give all the time that I was in Haifa. It seemed like he was opening a door into Heaven and letting us look in for awhile. And of course I was hoping as we walked home that he was going to continue talking about this subject, and perhaps give some more elucidations. Well, we got half way home and he turned around and says, “Leroy, as you know, I’ve been Guardian of the Cause for thirty-six years. And the responsibilities and the worries are just weighting me down. In the days of the Bab, the Faith was established in two countries. In the days of Baha’u’llah, there were eleven countries. In the days of Abdu’l-Baha, there were thirty-one countries. Today, there are over two hundred and fifty countries and islands in the world. He said, “I have so many things weighting me down. I have to consider the future of the Cause. I have to consider the welfare of the Cause in every country. And I have all this burning correspondence, all of this work, all of the time. All of these things weighting me down, and I have got to have relief.” Then I said, Shoghi Effendi, why don’t you give me those papers? I can do a lot more work than I’m doing. I’ll have to have a lot of help in my office, and I’ve got to have more help doing the things I’m doing, but I can take those papers and I can quote those papers and I can digest them, I can tell you what the questions are, and I can let you know what they are, and all you have to do is let me know what the answer is.” I said, “That will give you some relief.” And he turned with tears in his eyes, and he said, “Only God can give me relief.”
Now, was he telling us that he would soon be leaving us? I don’t know. It never dawned on us for a moment that that’s what he was doing. We knew perhaps he was sick. We knew he was overburdened. We were all trying to do everything we could to relieve him. And yet, as you know, when he passed away in England, I had many cables from him, many letters from him letting me know the things he wanted to be done, the things he wanted finished by the time he got back because of the things he wanted to do, and he said he can’t do, until other things were finished. He wanted me t to press the government, to press different sources in order to finish them. This is one thing which was very important, he considered one of the most important accomplishments of the past years, was the freeing of the Most Holy Place in the Baha’i world, Bahji, and the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, freeing it from the poisonous and insidious influence of the covenant breakers, who lived right next to the Shrine, which I was working on. Finally, we got these people disposed, we got the people out of these buildings, we got title to the buildings, and I cabled to the Guardian, and I asked him if, because he had said that he wanted them destroyed immediately when they were out of the buildings , so I cabled him that we now had the title transferred to the American NSA, that is, their branch, and should we proceed with the destruction of these buildings? And he cabled back, and he said, no, wait until I return. I want to supervise the destruction of those buildings. Well, there was a direct statement that there were certain things that he wanted to do. Now certain other things that he wanted to do in Haifa, and certain other things that he wanted to do in Akka. He asked me to arrange the details for him so that he could just handle them when he got back.
It seems likely that if he had had knowledge that he was going to pass away, he would have given us some written instructions as to what should be done after his ascension. Of course, you all know that the book The Dispensation of Baha’u’llah, he considered that his will and testament. And he told many of the friends that in reality, this is my will and testament, so that after me no differences may occur.
I want to say a few words now about the Guardianship. I told you about the life of the Guardian, his guidance, his fore-knowledge. Shoghi Effendi was a very remarkable young man, and of course, he just worshipped Abdu’l-Baha. And when Abdu’l-Baha passed away, the whole world became dark for him. All light had gone out. When he returned to the Holy Land, he had in mind from the things which Abdu’l-Baha had said to him, (and I am now telling you what he said), “that I had in mind that Abdu’l-Baha would give me the honor of calling the great conclave, calling together the great conclave which would elect the Universal House of Justice. And I had thought in His Will and Testament, that that probably was what He was instructing to be done.” But, he said, “Instead of that, I found that I had been appointed as the Guardian of the Cause of God,” and he said, “I didn’t want to be the Guardian of the Cause. In the first place, I didn’t think I was worthy. The next days, I didn’t want to face these responsibilities. I think he talked one night along these lines when you were there, John, I’m not sure, but he went into this on other times, too, in great detail. He said, “I didn’t want to be the Guardian. I knew what it meant. I knew that my life as a human being was over. I didn’t want it, and I didn’t want to face it, so as you remember, I left, remember, I left the Holy Land, and I went up in the mountains of Switzerland, and I fought with myself until I conquered myself. Then I came back and I turned myself over to God, and I was the Guardian. Now,” he said, “every Baha’i in the world, every person in the world, has to do the exactly the same thing, whether you’re a Hand of the Cause, or whether you’re a Knight of Baha’u’llah, or whether you’re a member of a National Assembly, whether you’re a teacher, whether you’re a pioneer, whether you’re an administrator, or whatever you are in the Cause, every Baha’I must fight with himself and conquer himself. And when he’s conquered himself, then he becomes a true instrument for service to the Cause of God. And not until that. And he won’t achieve his great success until he has done it, and this is what every Baha’I in the world should know. And this is one of the main things that I want you to get out of this talk tonight, and bear out of this talk, there are the instructions that every individual must fight with himself, must conquer himself, must overcome his lower nature, and turn himself over to God, so that the Holy Spirit can function through you. And when the Holy Spirit functions through you, then you will gain victory after victory, because the Holy Spirit is the creative aspect of God, and it cannot do other than win victories and make successes for the Cause.
I’m sure that when Shoghi Effendi became Guardian, he found that he had before him certain specific tasks. One, the Guardian’s mission in life was to fulfill those things which Abdu’l-Baha had started and wished to be finished, such as the Shrine of the Bab, such as the building of the terraces on Mount Carmel, such as the building of the gardens on Mount Carmel, surrounding the Shrine, such as getting the hand on the property surrounding the Shrine of Baha’u’llah, and beautifying that Most Sacred Resting Place. And all of these things he started immediately to do, and he did, and now we have on Mount Carmel, we have more property surrounding the Shrine of the Bab, and protecting our Holy Places, and sites for our administrators, buildings of the future and areas of the future more than we need. In the same way, in Bahji, surrounding the home of Baha’u’llah, the Mansion of Baha’u’llah, and surrounding the Shrine, which is the Kiblih of the Baha’I world, the most sacred place in the Baha’I world, and now, thank the Lord, it’s purified from the evils of the enemies of the Cause, more properties there than we had anticipated. The Guardian accomplished this. And he saw as his mission there were three things. One, was in the administrative field -- to build up the administrative order of the Cause. Secondly, to spread the teachings of the Cause throughout the world. That was another one of his missions. And lastly, to build the world center of the Faith in the Holy Land. These were the three things that dominated him, four things that dominated his life and activities.
I speak to you just two little elements, and then I close. What of the administrative field. Those of us who were in the Cause in the early days, I don’t want you to think that I’m too old, but, I remember very clearly the development of the Cause in America, particularly, in the early days, Harlan remembers the developments (he’s not as old as I am), but while I was young, I was very impressive, and I can remember in the Cause things that happened when I was four or five years old. I remember Mr. Abul-Fazil visiting America. I attended the first meeting of the Baha’i Temple Unity when it was organized in 1909, you remember, the same day that the remains of the Bab were interred in the Shrine on Mount Carmel. So I remember very clearly this development, and how the Guardian built up this Cause from a shoot grow head away, into a quickly organized unit all over the world. It’s really, it’s matchless. When people in the future write about what Shoghi Effendi did, and building up the unity and the ardor of the friends throughout the world, there will be nothing in history that will read like it. Abdu’l-Baha said that they would achieve in one generation, what takes normally a thousand years for humanity to achieve. Shoghi Effendi was the leader that did this. I remember we were speaking one night, and I said, “Shoghi Effendi, you know the way that the way that the administrative order in America grew and developed, and I know the matchless way in which you did this thing, it was almost the work of a genius, the way you accomplished and built this Cause and made it what it is today.” He said, “Leroy, you talk like you think that I sat over here in the Holy Land, and I had a blueprint of this Baha’I World Order, and that I started to build it. As soon as I found the friends strong enough to do this, I said build this wall. And then a little later I said build that wall, and then build this wall. And then lay that floor. If you have that idea, dismiss it from your mind. When I became Guardian, I didn’t know what the steps to be taken were. God guided me. And when he gave me guidance I did what He guided me to do, and then I didn’t know what the next step would be until I got the guidance, and when I got the guidance, we did it. And then I didn’t know what the next step would be. I may have thought of what it might be, but I didn’t know until I got the guidance, and then I did. He said, I have supreme confidence that God will guide me to do whatever is necessary for the Cause whenever it should be done. And he says, the Baha’is of the world must have exactly that same confidence. They must have confidence that God will guide the Guardian to do what should be done for the welfare of the Cause at the moment it should be done, and unless they have that confidence, the Cause cannot succeed. This is the second message that I want to give you, friends. This confidence which the Guardian had in the unending guidance of God. We, ourselves, have to have this reliance. We have to be reassured in ourselves that God will guide His Cause, and that things will be done when they are to be done, how they are to be done. The unending of guidance of God has not left us. Shoghi Effendi has not left us. He has left his physical body, but his Spirit is still directing the affairs of the Faith in these days, and if we keep our hearts pure, if we keep our hearts as a mirror through which the Power of the Spirit can reflect itself, we will be guided to win this great Crusade.
Now I end with one story on the teaching work, and its direct message to each and every one of us. The Guardian came over one evening. He was very happy and very enthused. He said, “We have some wonderful cables today.” So he read this cable, and it was from one of the islands in the Pacific. The pioneer who had been there had had been very discouraged. So every time he had written to the Guardian that he wanted to leave. He couldn’t get a job, it was hard to make any contacts, it was hard to make an impression on anyone, no one would listen to him, he was oppressed, he was opposed by the clergy, he was oppressed by the government, and everything was against him. And each time that he wrote these letters, the Guardian would tell me to write him, to encourage him, and to tell him that the Guardian wanted him to stay, and that the Guardian promised him that the seeds he was sowing would grow. Well, these cables had been received, and he now not only had one spiritual assembly, but he had two spiritual assemblies. He just burst right out like that. And I said, “Well, Shoghi Effendi, I said, of course this pioneer, he did the work, but it’s the Guardian that actually won this victory. You’re the one that won it, because if it hadn’t been for you, he’d have left.” He said, “That’s right. Leroy, I tell you, I have to stay in the Holy Land. This is my seat of operation. The friends must do the work. And I tell you that if the friends would do what I had told them to do, and if they would follow my instructions, they would be amazed at the victories which I will win through them.” This is the most important message I give to you. Shoghi Effendi said that if the friends would do what he has told them to do, if they will consecrate their lives to the Cause, if they will turn their lives over to the Cause, if they will serve the Cause diligently in the way which he has told them to serve, they will be amazed at the victories that they will win, that I will win through them, and it is particularly appropriate, and the way he mentioned it to tell the friends, and it seems to me to be particularly appropriate at this moment, when the spirit is released and it can now operate much more effectively through us than it could before.
Well, friends, Shoghi Effendi, (I told you about these stories about the attar of rose, how he liked to send his love to all the friends with the attar of rose which was so cherished by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha), and I have brought with me tonight some attar of rose which the Guardian gave to anoint the friends. So, I thought it would be nice to anoint each one of you, on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, and with his love, and with a prayer that we will all do our part to win all of the great goals prescribed for us in the Ten Year Crusade.