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(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 4 July 1939 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946", p. 26)Page 216
1691. The field, in all its vastness and fertility, is wide open and near at hand. The harvest is ripe. The hour is overdue. The signal has been given. The spiritual forces mysteriously released are already operating with increasing momentum, unchallenged and unchecked. Victory, speedy and unquestioned, is assured to whomsoever will arise and respond to this second, this urgent and vital call.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 28 July 1939 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America, 1932-1946", pp. 28-29)
1692. The vastness of the field, the smallness of your numbers, the indifference of the masses, must neither discourage nor appall you. You should at all times fix your gaze on the promise of Bahá'u'lláh, put your whole trust in His creative Word, recall the past and manifold evidences of His all-encompassing and resistless power, and arise to become worthy and exemplary recipients of His all-sustaining grace and blessings.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 29 June 1941 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of India, published in "Dawn of a New Day" (New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, n.d. ), p. 90)
1693. If the friends, individually and collectively, play their part and exert their utmost the abundant blessings of Bahá'u'lláh will be fully vouchsafed, and the triumph of the Plan will mark a glorious chapter in the history of the Faith.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
1694. ...FORCES MYSTERIOUSLY RELEASED DESIGNED DIRECT OPERATION STIMULATE PROCESSES ENSURE CONSUMMATION SECOND STAGE DIVINE PLAN INCONCEIVABLY POTENT. FULL RAPID USE THESE FORCES BY ORGANIZED COMMUNITY ALIVE SUBLIMITY MISSION IMPERATIVE, MANIFOLD AGENCIES LOCAL REGIONAL NATIONAL INTERCONTINENTAL DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE PROSECUTION PLAN NOW CALLED UPON ACHIEVE RESPECTIVE SPHERES ... SUCCESSES SO CONSPICUOUSPage 217
AS SHALL IMMEASURABLY FORTIFY HOPES WINNING STIPULATED TIME TOTAL DECISIVE VICTORY....
(From a cable dated 6 October 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, published in "Messages to America: Selected Letters and Cablegrams Addressed to the Bahá'ís of North America 1932-1946", p. 108)
1695. The invisible hosts of the Kingdom are ready and eager to rush forth to the assistance of such as will have the courage to weigh the issues involved and to take the decision commensurate with these issues....
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 6 September 1949 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
1696. Time is short. Opportunities, though multiplying with every passing hour, will not recur, some for yet another century, others never again. However severe the challenge, however multiple the tasks, however short the time, however sombre the world outlook, however limited the material resources of a hard-pressed adolescent community, the untapped sources of celestial strength from which it can draw are measureless in their potencies, and will unhesitatingly pour forth their energizing influences if the necessary daily effort be made and the required sacrifices be willingly accepted.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 18 December 1945 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 85)
1697. The invisible battalions of the Concourse on high are mustered, in serried ranks, ready to rush their reinforcements to the aid of the vanguard of Bahá'u'lláh's crusaders in the hour of their greatest need...
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 23 November 1951 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", 105)
1698. LORD HOSTS KING OF KINGS PLEDGED UNFAILING AID EVERY CRUSADER BATTLING HIS CAUSE. INVISIBLE BATTALIONSPage 218
MUSTERED RANK UPON RANK READY POUR FORTH REINFORCEMENTS FROM ON HIGH.
(From a cable dated 8 October 1952 to the Bahá'ís of the West published in "Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1971), p. 44)
1699. Putting on the armour of His love, firmly buckling on the shield of His mighty Covenant, mounted on the steed of steadfastness, holding aloft the lance of the Word of the Lord of Hosts, and with unquestioning reliance on His promises as the best provision for their journey, let them set their faces towards those fields that still remain unexplored and direct their steps to those goals that are as yet unattained, assured that He Who has led them to achieve such triumphs, and to store up such prizes in His Kingdom, will continue to assist them in enriching their spiritual birthright to a degree that no finite mind can imagine or human heart perceive.
(From a letter dated April 1956 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Messages to the Bahá'í World 1950-1957", p. 102)
1700. Delicate and strenuous though the task may be, however arduous and prolonged the effort required, whatsoever the nature of the perils and pitfalls that beset the path of whoever arises to revive the fortunes of a Faith struggling against the rising forces of materialism, nationalism, secularism, racialism and ecclesiastism, the all-conquering potency of the grace of God, vouchsafed through the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, will, undoubtedly, mysteriously and surprisingly, enable whosoever arises to champion His Cause to win complete and total victory.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 19 July 1956 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", p. 149)
1701. ...the sustaining grace promised to all those who will arise, with single-mindedness, courage, dedication and high resolve, to aid in the attainment of these noble objectives, is of such potency that no earthly power can resist the ultimate fulfilment of so glorious a task, or even delay its eventual fruition.Page 219
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 27 June 1957 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual of New Zealand)
1702. The Concourse on High watches over them ready to vouchsafe its aid and confer its blessings on their valiant and concerted endeavours. The Author of the Divine Plan will, as promised by Him in His epoch-making Tablets, assist them to surmount whatever obstacles they may encounter in their path, and crown their historic enterprise with a resounding victory.
The Founder of their Faith Himself will not fail to reward them, in His own Kingdom, and in accordance with His wisdom and bounty, for their share in the furtherance of the interests of His world-encompassing Order, and to exalt them amidst the company of His immortal saints and heroes dwelling in the Abha Kingdom.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 2 July 1957 written on his behalf to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the Arabian Peninsula)From Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi
1703. Perhaps the reason why you have not accomplished so much in the field of teaching is the extent you looked upon your own weaknesses and inabilities to spread the message. Bahá'u'lláh and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God's grace. Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the first step, and then let the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh move them and make use of them. If any one of them should even for a second consider his achievements as due to his own capacities, his work is ended and his fall starts. This is in fact the reason why so many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls. The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the will of God operate through us.
Stop being conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His missionPage 220
and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.
Shoghi Effendi will surely pray for your success if you should arise and start to teach. In fact the mere act of arising will win for you God's help and blessings.(Dated 31 March 1932 to an individual believer)
1704. You should never look at your own limitations, much less allow them to deter you from promoting the Message. For the believers, whether capable or not, whether poor or rich, and whether influential or obscure, are after all but mere channels through which God carries His message to mankind. They are instruments, whereby He communicates His will to His people. The friends, therefore, must cease looking at their own deficiencies in a way that would kill in them the spirit of initiative and of service. They should have confidence in the divine assistance promised to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and kill in them the spirit of initiative and of service. They should have confidence in the divine assistance promised to them by Bahá'u'lláh, and strengthened and revived by such an assurance they should continue to toil till the very end of their life.(Dated 18 March 1934 to an individual believer)
1705. The invisible hosts of the Kingdom are ready to extend to you all the assistance you need, and through them you will no doubt succeed in removing every obstacle in your way, and in fulfilling this most cherished desire of your heart. Bahá'u'lláh has given us [a] promise that should we persevere in our efforts and repose all our confidence in Him the doors of success will be widely open before us....
(Dated 22 September 1936 to an individual believer)
1706. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the path safe andPage 221
certain, and the assurances of Bahá'u'lláh as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands.(Dated 3 February 1937 to an individual believer)
1707. The Bahá'í teacher must be all confidence. Therein lies his strength and the secret of his success. Though single-handed, and no matter how great the apathy of the people around you may be, you should have faith that the hosts of the Kingdom are on your side, and that through their help you are bound to overcome the forces of darkness that are facing the Cause of God. Persevere, be happy and confident, therefore.(Dated 30 June 1937 to an individual believer)
1708. ...he would advise you to persevere in the task you have set your heart to accomplish, confident that through Divine assistance you will be able, sooner or later, to attain your goal. Reliance on God is indeed the strongest and safest weapon which the Bahá'í teacher can carry. For by its means no earthly power can remain unconquered, and no obstacle become insuperable.(Dated 27 March 1938 to an individual believer)
1709. Smallness of numbers, lack of skilled teachers, and modesty of means should not discourage or deter them. They must remember the glorious history of the Cause, which, both East and West, was established by dedicated souls who, for the most part, were neither rich, famous, nor well educated, but whose devotion, zeal and self-sacrifice overcame every obstacle and won miraculous victories for the Faith of God.... Let them dedicate themselves -- young and old, men and women alike -- and go forth and settle in new districts, travel, and teach in spite of lack of experience, and be assured that Bahá'u'lláh has promised to aid all those who arise in His Name. His strength will sustain them; their own weakness is unimportant.
(Dated 29 June 1941 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the of the Bahá'ís of India, published in "Dawn of a New Day", p. 89)Page 222
1710. Bahá'u'lláh has said that God will assist all those who arise in His service. The more you labour for His Faith, the more He will aid and bless you.
(Dated 23 November 1941 to the Bahá'ís of Quito, Ecuador)
1711. If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.(Dated 4 May 1942 to an individual believer)
1712. When once a few bold, self-sacrificing individuals have arisen to serve, their example will no doubt encourage other timid, would-be pioneers to follow in their footsteps. The history of our Faith is full of records of the remarkable things achieved by really very simple, insignificant individuals, who became veritable beacons and towers of strength through having placed their trust in God, having arisen to proclaim His Message....
(Dated 27 March 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
1713. Once the friends start out to win the goals set in their Plan, they will find the Divine confirmations sustaining them and hastening its consummation....
(Dated 9 August 1945 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)
1714. It shows that wherever and whenever the friends arise to serve, the mysterious power latent in this Divine Cause rushes in to bless and reinforce their labours far beyond their fondest hopes.
(Dated 18 February 1947 to an individual believer)
1715. Each one of us, if we look into our failures, is sure to feel unworthy and despondent, and this feeling only frustrates our constructive efforts and wastes time. The thing for us to focus on is the glory of the Cause and the Power of Bahá'u'lláh which can make of a mere drop a surging sea!(Dated 13 October 1947 to an individual believer)
1716. ...when we put our trust in Him, Bahá'u'lláh solves our problems and opens the way.(Dated 12 October 1949 to an individual believer)
1717. Just one mature soul, with spiritual understanding and a profound knowledge of the Faith, can set a whole country ablaze -- so great is the power of the Cause to work through a pure and selfless channel.(Dated 6 November 1949 to an individual believer)
1718. At all times we must look at the greatness of the Cause, and remember that Bahá'u'lláh will assist all who arise in His service. When we look at ourselves, we are sure to feel discouraged by our shortcomings and insignificance!
(Dated 12 December 1950 to an individual believer)
1719. Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently, for the Bahá'í to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration, to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance. It is the Guardian's prayer that the Friends may treble their efforts, as the time is short -- alas, the workers too few. Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain.(Dated 28 March 1953 to an individual believer)
1720. The Hosts of the Supreme Concourse are in martial array, poised between Earth and Heaven ready to rush to the assistance of those who arise to Teach the Faith. If one seeks the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, one can find it in rich abundance in the Teaching Field. The world is seeking as never before, and if the Friends will arise with new determination, fully consecrated to the noble task ahead of them, victory after victory will be won for the Glorious Faith of God.(Dated 2 February 1956 to an individual believer)
1721. The Friends must realize the Power of the Holy Spirit which is manifest and quickening them at this time through the appearance ofPage 224
Bahá'u'lláh. There is no force of heaven or earth which can affect them if they place themselves wholly under the influence of the Holy Spirit and under its guidance....(Dated 11 August 1957 to an individual believer)
THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER, MEDITATION AND THE DEVOTIONAL ATTITUDE:A COMPILATION
1722. Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause -- a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it -verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures.
("A Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Most Holy Book of Bahá'u'lláh", 1st ed. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1973), pp. 27-28)
1723. Recite ye the verses of God every morning and evening. Whoso reciteth them not hath truly failed to fulfil his pledge to the Covenant of God and His Testament, and whoso in this day turneth away therefrom hath indeed turned away from God since time immemorial. Fear ye God, O concourse of My servants!
Take heed lest excessive reading and too many acts of piety in the daytime and in the night season make you vainglorious. Should a person recite but a single verse from the Holy Writings in a spirit of joy and radiance, this would be better for him than reciting wearily all the Scriptures of God, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting. Recite ye the verses of God in such measure that ye be not overtaken with fatigue or boredom. Burden not your souls so as to cause exhaustion and weigh them down, but rather endeavour to lighten them, that they may soar on the wings of revealed Verses unto the dawning-place of His signs. This is conducive to nearer access unto God, were ye to comprehend.
("Kitáb-i-Aqdas" provisional translation from the Arabic)Page 226
1724. The wine of renunciation must needs be quaffed, the lofty heights of detachment must needs be attained, and the meditation referred to in the words "One hour's reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship" must needs be observed, so that the secret of the wretched behaviour of the people might be discovered, those people who, despite the love and yearning for truth which they profess, curse the followers of Truth when once He hath been made manifest....
("Kitáb-i-Iqan" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 238)
1725. In like manner, those words that have streamed forth from the source of power and descended from the heaven of glory are innumerable and beyond the ordinary comprehension of man. To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Surah of Hud surely sufficeth. Ponder a while those holy words in your heart, and, with utter detachment, strive to grasp their meaning....("Kitáb-i-Iqan" p. 5)
1726. O brother, we should open our eyes, meditate upon His Word, and seek the sheltering shadow of the Manifestations of God, that perchance we may be warned by the unmistakable counsels of the Book, and give heed to the admonitions recorded in the holy Tablets; that we may not cavil at the Revealer of the verses, that we may resign ourselves wholly to His Cause, and embrace wholeheartedly His law, that haply we may enter the court of His mercy, and dwell upon the shore of His grace. He, verily, is merciful, and forgiving towards His servants.("Kitáb-i-Iqan" p. 217)
1727. Be swift in the path of holiness, and enter the heaven of communion with Me. Cleanse thy heart with the burnish of the spirit, and hasten to the court of the Most High.
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh", Persian no. 8, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), p. 24)
1728. Say: Deliver your souls, O people, from the bondage of self, and purify them from all attachment to anything besides Me. Remembrance of Me cleanseth all things from defilement, could ye but perceive it. Say: WerePage 227
all created things to be entirely divested of the veil of worldly vanity and desire, the Hand of God would in this Day clothe them, one and all, with the robe "He doeth whatsoever He willeth in the kingdom of creation," that thereby the sign of His sovereignty might be manifested in all things. Exalted then be He, the Sovereign Lord of all, the Almighty, the Supreme Protector, the All-Glorious, the Most Powerful.
Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), sec. 136, pp. 29495)
1729. O Salman! All that the sages and mystics have said or written have never exceeded, nor can they ever hope to exceed, the limitations to which man's finite mind hath been strictly subjected. To whatever heights the mind of the most exalted of men may soar, however great the depths which the detached and understanding heart can penetrate, such mind and heart can never transcend that which is the creature of their own conceptions and the product of their own thoughts. The meditations of the profoundest thinker, the devotions of the holiest of saints, the highest expressions of praise from either human pen or tongue, are but a reflection of that which hath been created within themselves, through the revelation of the Lord, their God. Whoever pondereth this truth in his heart will readily admit that there are certain limits which no human being can possibly transgress. Every attempt which, from the beginning that hath no beginning, hath been made to visualize and know God is limited by the exigencies of His own creation- a creation which He, through the operation of His own Will and for the purposes of none other but His own Self, hath called into being. Immeasurably exalted is HePage 228
above the strivings of human mind to grasp His Essence, or of human tongue to describe His mystery....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 148, pp. 317-18)
1730. Do thou meditate on that which We have revealed unto
thee, that thou mayest discover the purpose of God, thy Lord,
and the Lord of all worlds. In these words the mysteries ofDivine Wisdom have been treasured....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 79, p. 153)
1731. Were any man to ponder in his heart that which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed and to taste of its sweetness, he would, of a certainty, find himself emptied and delivered from his own desires, and utterly subservient to the Will of the Almighty. Happy is the man that hath attained so high a station, and hath not deprived himself of so bountiful a grace.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", sec. 163, p. 343)
1732. Occupy thyself in remembrance of the Beauty of Him Who is the Unconstrained at early morn, and seek communion with Him at the hour of dawn. O 'Ali! Remembrance of Me is a healing medicine to the souls and a light to the hearts of men.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)Extracts from the Writings of the Báb
1733. It is seemly that the servant should, after each prayer, supplicate God to bestow mercy and forgiveness upon his parents. Thereupon God's call will be raised:'Thousand upon thousand of what thou hast asked for thy parents shall be thy recompense!' Blessed is he who remembereth his parents when communing with God. There is, verily, no God but Him, the Mighty, the Well-Beloved.
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb" [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), p. 94)
1734. The reason why privacy hath been enjoined in moments of devotion is this, that thou mayest give thy best attention to the remembrance of God, that thy heart may at all times be animated with His Spirit, and notPage 229
be shut out as by a veil from thy Best Beloved. Let not thy tongue pay lip service in praise of God while thy heart be not attuned to the exalted Summit of Glory, and the Focal Point of communion. Thus if haply thou dost live in the Day of Resurrection, the mirror of thy heart will be set towards Him Who is the Day-Star of Truth; and no sooner will His light shine forth than the splendour thereof shall forthwith be reflected in thy heart. For He is the Source of all goodness, and unto Him revert all things. But if He appeareth while thou hast turned unto thyself in meditation, this shall not profit thee, unless thou shalt mention His Name by words He hath revealed. For in the forthcoming Revelation it is He Who is the Remembrance of God, whereas the devotions which thou art offering at present have been prescribed by the Point of the Bayan, while He Who will shine resplendent in the Day of Resurrection is the Revelation of the inner reality enshrined in the Point of the Bayan -- a Revelation more potent, immeasurably more potent, than the one which hath preceded it.
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb, pp. 93-94)
1735. Worship thou God in such wise that if thy worship lead thee to the fire, no alteration in thine adoration would be produced, and so likewise if thy recompense should be paradise. Thus and thus alone should be the worship which befitteth the one True God. Shouldst thou worship Him because of fear, this would be unseemly in the sanctified Court of His presence, and could not be regarded as an act by thee dedicated to the Oneness of His Being. Or if thy gaze should be on paradise, and thou shouldst worship Him while cherishing such a hope, thou wouldst make God's creation a partner with Him, notwithstanding the fact that paradise is desired by men.
Fire and paradise both bow down and prostrate themselves before God. That which is worthy of His Essence is to worship Him for His sake, without fear of fire, or hope of paradise. Although when true worship is offered, the worshipper is delivered from the fire, and entereth the paradise of God's good-pleasure, yet such should not be the motive of his act. However, God's favour and grace ever flow in accordance with the exigencies of His inscrutable wisdom. The most acceptable prayer is the one offered with the utmost spirituality and radiance; its prolongation hath not been and is notPage 230
beloved by God. The more detached and the purer the prayer, the more acceptable is it in the presence of God.
("Selections from the Writings of the Báb" pp. 77-78)
Extracts from the Writings and Utterances of 'Abdu'l-Bahá:
1736. O thou who hast bowed thyself down in prayer before the Kingdom of God! Blessed art thou, for the beauty of the divine Countenance hath enraptured thy heart, and the light of inner wisdom hath filled it full, and within it shineth the brightness of the Kingdom. Know thou that God is with thee under all conditions, and that He guardeth thee from the changes and chances of this world and hath made thee a handmaid in His mighty vineyard....
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" [rev. ed ], (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), sec. 91, p. 122)
1737. Praise be to God, thy heart is engaged in the commemoration of God, thy soul is gladdened by the glad tidings of God and thou art absorbed in prayer. The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá" sec. 172, p. 202)
1738. Thou hast asked about places of worship and the underlying reason therefor. The wisdom in raising up such buildings is that at a given hour, the people should know it is time to meet, and all should gather together, and, harmoniously attuned one to another, engage in prayer; with the result that out of this coming together, unity and affection shall grow and flourish in the human heart.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 58, pp. 94-95)
1739. 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 facesPage 231
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.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 115, p. 139)
1740. O handmaid of God! Prayers are granted through the universal Manifestations of God. Nevertheless, where the wish is to obtain material things, even where the heedless are concerned, if they supplicate, humbly imploring God's help- even their prayer hath an effect.
O handmaid of God! The prayers which were revealed to ask for healing apply both to physical and spiritual healing. Recite them, then, to heal both the soul and the body. If healing is right for the patient, it will certainly be granted; but for some ailing persons, healing would only be the cause of other ills, and therefore wisdom doth not permit an affirmative answer to the prayer.
O handmaid of God! The power of the Holy Spirit healeth both physical and spiritual ailments.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 139, pp. 161-62)
1741. Beseech thou from God's infinite grace whatsoever thou desirest. But wert thou to heed my advice thou wouldst desire naught save entrance into the Abha Kingdom, and seek naught save the bounties of the Beauty of the All-Glorious, may my life be sacrificed for His loved ones. This is my exhortation to thee.
(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian and Arabic)
1742. Thou hast asked about material means and prayer. Prayer is like the spirit and material means are like the human hand. The spirit operateth through the instrumentality of the hand. Although the one true God is the All-Provider, it is the earth which is the means to supply sustenance. "The heaven hath sustenance for you" but when sustenance is decreed it becometh available, whatever the means may be. When man refuseth toPage 232
use material means, he is like a thirsty one who seeketh to quench his thirst through means other than water or other liquids. The Almighty Lord is the provider of water, and its maker, and hath decreed that it be used to quench man's thirst, but its use is dependent upon His Will. If it should not be in conformity with His Will, man is afflicted with a thirst which the oceans cannot quench.[1 Qur'an 51:22]
1743. The state of prayer is the best of conditions, for man is then associating with God. Prayer verily bestoweth life, particularly when offered in private and at times, such as midnight, when freed from daily cares.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", sec. 172, p. 202)
1744. The obligatory prayers are binding inasmuch as they are conducive to humility and submissiveness, to setting one's face towards God and expressing devotion to Him. Through such prayer man holdeth communion with God, seeketh to draw near unto Him, converseth with the true Beloved of one's heart, and attaineth spiritual stations.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1745. Remembrance of God is like the rain and dew which bestow freshness and grace on flowers and hyacinths, revive them and cause them to acquire fragrance, redolence and renewed charm. "And thou hast seen the earth dried up and barren: but when We send down the rain upon it, it stirreth and swelleth, and groweth every kind of luxuriant herb." Strive thou, then, to praise and glorify God by night and by day, that thou mayest attain infinite freshness and beauty.[1 Qur'an 107:5]
1746. It behoveth the servant to pray to and seek assistance from God, and to supplicate and implore His aid. Such becometh the rank of servitude, and the Lord will decree whatsoever He desireth, in accordance with His consummate wisdom.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
1747. O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love. Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind!(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1748. Know thou that in every word and movement of the obligatory prayer there are allusions, mysteries and a wisdom that man is unable to comprehend, and letters and scrolls cannot contain.(From a Tablet - translated from the Arabic)
1749. O maid-servant of God! Chant the Words of God and, pondering over their meaning, transform them into actions! I ask God to cause thee to attain a high station in the Kingdom of Life forever and ever.
("Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá 'Abbas", vol. I (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Society, 1909), p. 85)
1750. Therefore, know thou that the True One possesseth invisible worlds which human meditation is unable to comprehend and the intellect of man hath no power to imagine. When thou wilt purify and clarify thy spiritual nostrils from every worldly moisture, then thou wilt inhale the holy fragrances diffusing from the merciful gardens of these worlds.
("Bahá'í World Faith: Selected Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 393)
1751. When man allows the spirit, through his soul, to enlighten his understanding, then does he contain all Creation...
But on the other hand, when man does not open his mind and heart to the blessing of the spirit, but turns his soul towards the material side, towards the bodily part of his nature, then is he fallen from his high place and he becomes inferior to the inhabitants of the lower animal kingdom....Page 234
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912, 10th ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1979), pp. 96-97)
1752. Bahá'u'lláh says there is a sign (from God) in every phenomenon: the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence, because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time -- he cannot both speak and meditate.
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. You cannot apply the name 'man' to any being void of this faculty of meditation; without it he would be a mere animal, lower than the beasts. Through the faculty of meditation man attains to eternal life; through it he receives the breath of the Holy Spirit -- the bestowal of the Spirit is given in reflection and meditation. The spirit of man is itself informed and strengthened during meditation; through it affairs of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his view. Through it he receives Divine inspiration, through it he receives heavenly food. Meditation is the key for opening the doors of mysteries. In that state man abstracts himself: in that state man withdraws himself from all outside objects; in that subjective mood he is immersed in the ocean of spiritual life and can unfold the secrets of things-in-themselves. To illustrate this, think of man as endowed with two kinds of sight; when the power of insight is being used the outward power of vision does not see. This faculty of meditation frees man from the animal nature, discerns the reality of things, puts man in touch with God. This faculty brings forth from the invisible plane the sciences and arts. Through the meditative faculty inventions are made possible, colossal undertakings are carried out; through it governments can run smoothly. Through this faculty man enters into the very Kingdom of God.
Nevertheless some thoughts are useless to man; they are like waves moving in the sea without result. But if the faculty of meditation is bathed in the inner light and characterized with divine attributes, the results will be confirmed.Page 235
The meditative faculty is akin to the mirror; if you put it before earthly objects it will reflect them. Therefore if the spirit of man is contemplating earthly subjects he will be informed of these. But if you turn the mirror of your spirits heavenwards, the heavenly constellations and the rays of the Sun of Reality will be reflected in your hearts, and the virtues of the Kingdom will be obtained. Therefore let us keep this faculty rightly directed -- turning it to the heavenly Sun and not to earthly objects -- so that we may discover the secrets of the Kingdom, and comprehend the allegories of the Bible and the mysteries of the spirit. May we indeed become mirrors reflecting the heavenly realities, and may we become so pure as to reflect the stars of heaven.
("Paris Talks: Addresses given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1911-1912", pp. 174-76)
1753. Know thou, verily, it is becoming in a weak one to supplicate to the Strong One, and it behooveth a seeker of bounty to beseech the Glorious Bountiful One. When one supplicates to his Lord, turns to Him and seeks bounty from His Ocean, this supplication brings light to his heart, illumination to his sight, life to his soul and exaltation to his being.
During thy supplications to God and thy reciting,'Thy Name is my healing," consider how thine heart is cheered, thy soul delighted by the spirit of the love of God, and thy mind attracted to the Kingdom of God! By these attractions one's ability and capacity increase. When the vessel is enlarged the water increases, and when the thirst grows the bounty of the cloud becomes agreeable to the taste of man. This is the mystery of supplication and the wisdom of stating one's wants.
("J.E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", 5th rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), p. 93)
1754. We must strive to attain to that condition by being separated from all things and from the people of the world and by turning to God alone. It will take some effort on the part of man to attain to that condition, but he must work for it, strive for it. We can attain to it by thinking and caring less for material things and more for the spiritual. The further we go from the one, the nearer we are to the other. The choice is ours.Page 236
Our spiritual perception, our inward sight must be opened, so that we can see the signs and traces of God's spirit in everything. Everything can reflect to us the light of the Spirit.
(Report of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", p. 89)
1755. If one friend feels love for another, he will wish to say so. Though he knows that the friend is aware that he loves him, he will still wish to say so.... God knows the wishes of all hearts. But the impulse to prayer is a natural one, springing from man's love to God.
Prayer need not be in words, but rather in thought and attitude. But if this love and this desire are lacking, it is useless to try to force them. Words without love mean nothing. If a person talks to you as an unpleasant duty, with no love or pleasure in his meeting with you, do you wish to converse with him?
(Report of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", p. 94)
1756. In the highest prayer, men pray only for the love of God, not because they fear Him or hell, or hope for bounty or heaven.... When a man falls in love with a human being, it is impossible for him to keep from mentioning the name of his beloved. How much more difficult is it to keep from mentioning the Name of God when one has come to love Him.... The spiritual man finds no delight in anything save in commemoration of God.
(Report of 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í words as quoted in J. E. Esslemont, "Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era", p. 95)Extract from a Letter Written by Shoghi Effendi:
1757. The simplicity characterizing the offering of Bahá'í prayers, whether obligatory or otherwise, should be maintained. Rigidity and rituals should be strictly avoided.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 30 October 1936 written on his behalf to an individual believer)Page 237
Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi:
1758. The Guardian wishes you, therefore, to pray, and to supplicate the Almighty that He may give you a fuller measure of His grace; that through it your spiritual energies may be quickened and that you may become more imbued with that spirit which must needs animate, sustain and strengthen every sincere and true follower of the Faith.(13 March 1934 to an individual believer)
1759. Concerning the directions given by Bahá'u'lláh for the recital of certain prayers, Shoghi Effendi wishes me to inform you that these regulations -- which by the way are very few and simple -- are of a great spiritual help to the individual believer, in that they help him to fully concentrate when praying and meditating. Their significance is thus purely spiritual.(5 November 1934 to an individual believer)
1760. In prayer the believers can turn their consciousness toward the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, provided that in doing so they have a clear and correct understanding of His station as a Manifestation of God.(15 November 1935 to two believers)
1761. With regard to your spiritual experiences, the Guardian has been very interested to share them. He would, however, urge you to always use and read, during your hours of meditation and prayer, the words revealed by Bahá'u'lláh and the Master.(6 December 1935 to an individual believer)
1762. The problem with which you are faced is one which concerns and seriously puzzles many of our present-day youth. How to attain spirituality is, indeed, a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory reply has been given or found, that modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundation of man's moral and spiritual life.Page 238
Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is a lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind, that people in general no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence. There is not sufficient demand for things that we should call spiritual to differentiate them from the needs and requirements of our physical existence. The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook upon life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit.
It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling that unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer to merely accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality, which he can acquire chiefly by the means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man that has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and become a dead thing.
The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the Religion of God.
(8 December 1935 to an individual believer, published in "Bahá'í News" 102 (August 1936), p. 3)
1763. ...the obligatory prayers are by their very nature of greater effectiveness and are endowed with a greater power than the non-obligatory ones, and as such are essential.Page 239
1764. While praying it would be better to turn one's thoughts to the Manifestation as He continues, in the other world, to be our means of contact with the Almighty. We can, however, pray directly to God Himself.
(27 April 1937 to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma)
1765. You have asked whether our prayers go beyond Bahá'u'lláh: it all depends whether we pray to Him directly or through Him to God. We may do both, and also can pray directly to God, but our prayers would certainly be more effective and illuminating if they are addressed to Him through His Manifestation, Bahá'u'lláh.(14 October 1937 to an individual believer)
1766. The Guardian wishes me to assure you that he sees no objection to the friends coming together for meditation and prayer. Such a communion helps in fostering fellowship among the believers, and as such is highly commendable.(20 November 1937 to an individual believer)
1767. [...] was a matter of deepest [...] to the Guardian to hear of the news of the formation in Honolulu of a Morning Class of prayer and meditation conducted by dear Mrs.... in her home, inasmuch as he feels the absolute necessity for the friends to make now a special effort to cultivate the devotional side of their Bahá'í life in preparation for a more intensified and successful service, particularly in the teaching field.
(1 May 1938 to an individual believer and a Local Spiritual Assembly)
1768. Although you seem to feel that your prayers have not so far been answered, and do no longer have any hope that your material conditions will ameliorate, the Guardian wishes you nevertheless not to allow such disappointments to undermine your faith in the power of prayer, but rather to continue entreating the Almighty to enable you to discover the great wisdom which may be hidden behind all these sufferings. For are not our sufferings often blessings in disguise, through which God wishes to test the sincerity and depth of our faith, and thereby make us firmer in His Cause?Page 240
The true worshipper, while praying, should endeavour not so much to ask God to fulfil his wishes and desires, but rather to adjust these and make them conform to the Divine Will. Only through such an attitude can one derive that feeling of inner peace and contentment which the power of prayer alone can confer.(26 October 1938 to an individual believer)
1769. You should rest assured that your strict adherence to the laws and observances enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh is the one power that can effectively guide and enable you to overcome the tests and trials of your life, and help you to continually grow and develop spiritually.
The Guardian particularly appreciates the fact that you have been faithfully observing Bahá'u'lláh's injunction regarding the recital of the daily obligatory prayers, and have thereby set such a high example before your Bahá'í fellow-youth. These daily prayers have been endowed with a special potency which only those who regularly recite them can adequately appreciate. The friends should therefore endeavour to make daily use of these prayers, whatever the peculiar circumstances and conditions of their life.(23 February 1939 to two believers)
1770. He wishes again to assure you he will pray for your spiritual advancement in the Holy Shrines. The power of God can entirely transmute our characters and make of us beings entirely unlike our previous selves. Through prayer and supplication, obedience to the divine laws Bahá'u'lláh has revealed, and ever-increasing service to His Faith, we can change ourselves.(22 November 1941 to an individual believer)
1771. There are no set forms of meditation prescribed in the teachings, no plan, as such, for inner development. The friends are urged -- nay enjoined -- to pray, and they also should meditate, but the manner of doing the latter is left entirely to the individual.Page 241
The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if He desires to do so.(25 January 1943 to the believers)
1772. Prayer and meditation are very important factors in deepening the spiritual life of the individual, but with them must go also action and example, as these are the tangible results of the former. Both are essential.(15 May 1944 to an individual believer)
1773. The believers, as we all know, should endeavour to set such an example in their personal lives and conduct that others will feel impelled to embrace a Faith which reforms human character. However, unfortunately, not everyone achieves easily and rapidly the victory over self. What every believer, new or old, should realize is that the Cause has the spiritual power to re-create us if we make the effort to let that power influence us, and the greatest help in this respect is prayer. We must supplicate Bahá'u'lláh to assist us to overcome the failings in our own characters, and also exert our own will-power in mastering ourselves.(27 January 1945 to an individual believer)
1774. Through meditation the doors of deeper knowledge and inspiration may be opened. Naturally, if one meditates as a Bahá'í he is connected with the Source; if a man believing in God meditates he is tuning in to the power and mercy of God; but we cannot say that any inspiration which a person, not knowing Bahá'u'lláh, or not believing in God, receives is merely from his own ego. Meditation is very important, and the Guardian sees no reason why the friends should not be taught to meditate, but they should guard against superstitious or foolish ideas creeping into it.(19 November 1945 to an individual believer)
1775. He feels more emphasis should be laid on the importance and power of prayer, including the use of The Greatest Name, but not over-emphasizing it. It is the spirit behind the words which is really important.(16 March 1946 to an individual believer)
1776. In regard to your question: we must not be rigid about praying; there is not a set of rules governing it; the main thing is we must start out with the right concept of God, the Manifestation, the Master, the Guardian -- we can turn, in thought, to any one of them when we pray. For instance you can ask Bahá'u'lláh for something, or, thinking of Him, ask God for it. The same is true of the Master or the Guardian. You can turn in thought to either of them and then ask their intercession, or pray direct to God. As long as you don't confuse their stations, and make them all equal, it does not matter much how you orient your thoughts.(24 July 1946 to an individual believer)
1777. He is delighted to hear you are now fully recovered and again active in your important work for the Cause. However, you should not neglect your health, but consider it the means which enables you to serve. It -- the body -- is like a horse which carries the personality and spirit, and as such should be well cared for so it can do its work! You should certainly safeguard your nerves, and force yourself to take time, and not only for prayer and meditation, but for real rest and relaxation. We don't have to pray and meditate for hours in order to be spiritual.(23 November 1947 to an individual believer)
1778. I might add that he does not believe any radiations of thought or healing, from any group, are going to bring peace. Prayer, no doubt, will help the world, but what it needs is to accept Bahá'u'lláh's system so as to build up the World Order on a new foundation, a divine foundation!(8 June 1948 to an individual believer)
1779. If you find you need to visualize someone when you pray, think of the Master. Through Him you can address Bahá'u'lláh. Gradually try to think of the qualities of the Manifestation, and in that way a mental form will fade out, for after all the body is not the thing, His Spirit is there and is the essential, everlasting element.(31 January 1949 to an individual believer)
1780. He would advise you to only use the short midday Obligatory Prayer. This has no genuflections and only requires that when saying it the believer turn his face towards 'Akka where Bahá'u'lláh is buried. This isPage 243
a physical symbol of an inner reality, just as the plant stretches out to the sunlight -- from which it receives life and growth -- so we turn our hearts to the Manifestation of God, Bahá'u'lláh, when we pray; and we turn our faces, during this short prayer, to where His dust lies on this earth as a symbol of the inner act....
Bahá'u'lláh has reduced all ritual and form to an absolute minimum in His Faith. The few forms that there are -- like those associated with the two longer obligatory daily prayers -- are only symbols of the inner attitude. There is a wisdom in them, and a great blessing, but we cannot force ourselves to understand or feel these things, that is why He gave us also the very short and simple prayer, for those who did not feel the desire to perform the acts associated with the other two.(24 June 1949 to an individual believer)
1781. He suggests that you daily pray to Bahá'u'lláh to let you meet a soul receptive to His Message. The power of prayer is very great, and attracts the Divine confirmations. He, also, will pray for your teaching work there.(30 September 1951 to an individual believer)
1782. He thinks it would be wiser for the Bahá'ís to use the Meditations given by Bahá'u'lláh, and not any set form of meditation recommended by someone else; but the believers must be left free in these details and allowed to have personal latitude in finding their own level of communion with God.(27 January 1952 to an individual believer)
1783. It is forbidden for an intelligent person to drink that which depriveth him of his intelligence; it behoveth him to engage in that which is worthy of man, not in the act of every heedless doubter.
("Kitáb-i-Aqdas" - provisional translation from the Arabic)1784. 0 Son of Dust!
Turn not away thine eyes from the matchless wine of the immortal Beloved, and open them not to foul and mortal dregs. Take from the hands of the divine Cupbearer the chalice of immortal life, that all wisdom may be thine, and that thou mayest hearken unto the mystic voice calling from the realm of the invisible. Cry aloud, ye that are of low aim! Wherefore have ye turned away from My holy and immortal wine unto evanescent water?
("The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, Persian no. 62, rev. ed. Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1985), pp. 43-44)
1785. Fear ye God, O people of the earth, and think not that the wine We have mentioned in Our Tablet is the wine which men drink, and which causeth their intelligence to pass away, their human nature to be perverted, their light to be changed, and their purity to be soiled. Our intention is indeed that wine which intensifieth man's love for God, for His Chosen Ones and for His loved ones, and igniteth in the hearts the fire of God and love for Him, and glorification and praise of Him. So potent is this wine that a drop thereof will attract him who drinketh it to the court of His sanctity and nearness, and will enable him to attain the presence of God, the King, the Glorious, the Most Beauteous. It is a wine that blotteth out from the hearts of the true lovers all suggestions of limitation, establisheth the truth of the signs of His oneness and divine unity, and leadeth them to the Tabernacle of the Well-Beloved, in the presence of God, the Sovereign Lord, the Self-Subsisting, the All-Forgiving, the All-Generous. We meant by this Wine, the River of God, and His favour, the fountain of His living waters, and the Mystic Wine and its divine grace, even as it was revealed in the Qur'an, if ye are of those who understand. He said, and how true is His utterance: "A winePage 246
delectable to those who drink it." And He had no purpose in this but the wine We have mentioned to you, O people of certitude![1 Qur'an 47:15.]
Beware lest ye exchange the Wine of God for your own wine, for it will stupefy your minds, and turn your faces away from the Countenance of God, the All-Glorious, the Peerless, the Inaccessible. Approach it not, for it hath been forbidden unto you by the behest of God, the Exalted, the Almighty.(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)
1786. The Mystic Wine of the one true God hath a different intoxication and imparteth another exhilaration. The one diminisheth the intelligence of man, the other increaseth it. The one leadeth to perdition, the other bestoweth life.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1787. Drink ye, O handmaidens of God, the Mystic Wine from the cup of My words. Cast away, then, from you that which your minds abhor, for it hath been forbidden unto you in His Tablets and His Scriptures. Beware lest ye barter away the River that is life indeed for that which the souls of the pure-hearted detest. Become ye intoxicated with the wine of the love of God, and not with that which deadeneth your minds, O ye that adore Him! Verily, it hath been forbidden unto every believer, whether man or woman. Thus hath the sun of My commandment shone forth above the horizon of My utterance, that the handmaidens who believe in Me may be illumined.
(Quoted in "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 33)Extracts from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
1788. The drinking of wine is, according to the text of the Most Holy Book, forbidden; for it is the cause of chronic diseases, weakeneth the nerves, and consumeth the mind.(Quoted in "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 33)
1789. Regarding the use of liquor: According to the text of the Book of Aqdas, both light and strong drinks are prohibited. The reason for thisPage 247
prohibition is that alcohol leadeth the mind astray and causeth the weakening of the body. If alcohol were beneficial, it would have been brought into the world by the divine creation and not by the effort of man. Whatever is beneficial for man existeth in creation. Now it hath been proved and is established medically and scientifically that liquor is harmful.
As to the meaning of that which is written in the Tablets:
"I have chosen for thee whatsoever is in the heaven and the earth", this signifieth those things which are in accordance with the divine purpose and not the things which are harmful. For instance, one of the existing things is poison. Can we say that poison must be used as it hath been created by God? Nevertheless, intoxicating liquor, if prescribed by a physician for the patient and if its use is absolutely necessary, then it is permissible.
In brief, I hope that thou mayest become inebriated with the wine of the love of God, find eternal bliss and receive inexhaustible joy and happiness. All wine hath depression as an after-effect, except the wine of the Love of God.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
1790. Intellect and the faculty of comprehension are God's gifts whereby man is distinguished from other animals. Will a wise man want to lose this Light in the darkness of intoxication? No, by God! This will not satisfy him! He will, rather, do that which will develop his powers of intelligence and understanding, and not increase his negligence, heedlessness and decline. This is an explicit text in the perspicuous Book, wherein God hath set forth every goodly virtue, and exposed every reprehensible act.(From a Tablet- translated from the Arabic)
Extracts from Letters Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
1791. With regard to your first question on alcohol and drinking, Bahá'u'lláh, fully aware of the great misery that it brings about, prohibits it as He expressly states that everything that takes away the mind, or in other words makes one drunk, is forbidden....(15 February 1926 to an individual believer)
1792. The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual meaning for in the "Book of Aqdas" we are definitely forbidden to takePage 248
not only wine, but everything that deranges the mind. In poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation than the ordinary intoxicating liquid. We see it thus used by the Persian poets such as Saadi and Umar Khayyam and Hafiz to mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his spiritual desires. It is very necessary to tell the children what this wine means so that they may not confuse it with the ordinary wine.(4 November 1926 to an individual believer)
1793. With regard to the question you have raised in connection with the sale of alcoholic liquors by the friends: he wishes me to inform you that dealings with such liquors, in any form, are highly discouraged in the Cause. The believers should, therefore, consider it their spiritual obligation to refrain from undertaking any business enterprise that would involve them in the traffic of alcoholic drinks.(6 November 1935 to a Local Spiritual Assembly)
1794. Concerning the third question (sale of alcoholic drinks at Baha'i-owned premises and restaurants), the beloved Guardian has asked me to point out that this practice is highly improper and reprehensible and would be tantamount to encouraging acts that are forbidden in the Faith. It is indeed the conscientious duty of every true Bahá'í to abandon such practices. However, should a Bahá'í owner rent his property without himself taking any part whatever in the business, or giving aid to the tenant, then he would incur no responsibility. Nevertheless, the landlord should resort to every possible means to rid his premises of the defilement of this degrading business; how far more injurious if he himself were engaged in such repugnant affairs.
(From a letter dated 6 November 1935 to a National Spiritual Assembly translated from the Persian)
1795. Concerning your question with regard to the use of alcohol for rubbing: the believers can make any use of alcohol for any such treatments, provided they do not drink it, unless, of course, they are compelled to do so, under the advice of a competent and conscientious physician, who may have to prescribe it for the cure of some special ailment.Page 249
1796. With reference to your question whether those foods which have been favoured with alcoholic liquors such as brandy, rum, etc. should be classified under the same category as the intoxicating drinks, and consequently be avoided by the believers, the Guardian wishes all the friends to know that such foods, or beverages, are strictly prohibited.(9 January 1939 to an individual believer)
1797. The reason Bahá'u'lláh forbade drinking alcoholic beverages is because it is bad for the health, more particularly for the mind. Of course you can point this out to Mr.... and Mr.... and you can also pray that they will themselves feel the urge to give it up; but these are habits each individual should seek to surmount for his own good.(17 February 1945 to an individual believer)
1798. The degree to which the use of alcohol has spread in the world today is truly alarming; it is a great evil, and we Bahá'ís can see clearly why Bahá'u'lláh prohibits its being taken at all.(23 February 1946 to an individual believer)
1799. Any work that helps people to get over the terrible habit of drinking is excellent, and should be looked upon with sympathy and approval by the Baha'is. He thanks you for the Alcoholics Anonymous pamphlet you enclosed and was pleased to see it.(26 July 1946 to an individual believer)
1800. He feels you should, in teaching, certainly not start with such a difficult point as abstinence from wine; but when the person wishes to join the Faith he must be told....(7 April 1947 to two believers)
1801. Of course no Bahá'í should drink, and if he persists in it and refuses to make an effort to overcome it, the Assembly must take action. But in these newly established centres one must be very patient lest the whole group go to pieces because of too strong or sudden action.(19 July 1947 to an individual believer)
1802. When we realize that Bahá'u'lláh says ... that drinking destroys the mind, and not to so much as approach it, we see how clear are our teachings on these subjects.(30 September 1949 to an individual believer)
1803. However, drinking is prohibited in the Book of Laws and, although the Guardian has not made this an immediate issue to be considered when people apply for membership, all Bahá'ís should not drink, and if they persist the Assembly should take action....(7 August 1950 to an individual believer)
1804. From your letter it would be assumed that some of your believers feel that the law of the "Aqdas" regarding the use of intoxicating liquors is a personal one, and may be followed or not followed, as the individual desires. This is not correct. The law of the "Aqdas" regarding not using intoxicating liquors is binding on all Baha'is. The Guardian does feel, however, that with new Baha'is, coming into the Faith, leniency should be exercised; but he feels that when a person is a Bahá'í for some time, his Bahá'í association and the spirit of the Teachings which he studies and endeavours to exemplify will bring about a change in the character, and the individual will stop drinking. However, old and firm Bahá'ís must apply the law of the non-use of alcoholic beverages.(19 August 1952 to an individual believer)
1805. The Assemblies must be wise and gentle in dealing with such cases, but at the same time must not tolerate a prolonged and flagrant disregard of the Bahá'í Teachings as regards alcohol.(26 June 1956 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1806. As regards the questions you asked: Under no circumstances should Bahá'ís drink. It is so unambiguously forbidden in the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh that there is no excuse for them even touching it in the form of a toast, or in a burning plum pudding; in fact, in any way.
There is no reason why Bahá'ís may not serve some alcoholic refreshment to their guests, if they feel sincerely that this will further their teaching work. If they can obtain their objectives without doing so, itPage 251
would be better; but we don't want to give people the impression that we are peculiar in every way.(3 March 1957 to an individual believer)
Extracts from Letters written by the Universal House of Justice
1807. As to those believers who continue to drink, they should be lovingly exhorted, then firmly warned and eventually deprived of their voting rights. The number of times a person is exhorted and warned is a matter left to the discretion of each Local Spiritual Assembly, in consultation with the National Spiritual Assembly. The policy you adopt should not be one of removing the administrative rights of the believers in a bureaucratic and automatic way, as this would be unwise and unjust. Your Assembly as well as all Local Spiritual Assemblies should courageously and continuously remind the friends of their obligation in this respect, handle firmly all flagrant cases, and use such cases, in a way that by force of example, they exert their influence upon the other believers. It must be made clear to the Local Assemblies that they should be willing to cooperate with the believers affected by such drinking habits, when any such believer promises gradually and systematically to reduce his drinking with the objective in mind of entirely abandoning this habit.
We feel sure that your National Assembly will, with wisdom, loving kindness and determination succeed in uprooting this evil from your ranks and bring about the spiritual upliftment and advancement of the believers under your area of jurisdiction.
(12 November 1965 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1808. There are certain scientific purposes for which alcohol may be used, but we believe that a Bahá'í should not willingly submit himself to scientific experiments requiring him to drink alcoholic beverages.(13 June 1966 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1809. Alcohol should not be served at any reception, either at home or in a public place, at which you are host... We believe you should not use the term "cocktail party". The designation of either "tea" or "reception" would be preferable. (31 December 1967 to an individual believer)Page 252
1810. ...it is clear that on all occasions officially sponsored by Bahá'í Institutions or where the host is acting as a representative of the Cause alcohol should not be served. In private homes or in the course of business or professional activity it is left to the conscience of Bahá'ís themselves whether they serve alcoholic drinks to non-Bahá'ís but the obligation is very strong to observe the prohibition enjoined by Bahá'u'lláh.
(8 February 1968 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1811. ...no Bahá'í institution should serve alcoholic drinks under any circumstances, and we also feel that it would be inappropriate for a Bahá'í to serve such beverages at a function given by him.(19 December 1968 to two believers)
1812. As to question number 6 concerning the sale of alcohol by a believer, as you state, obviously he should cease to deal in the sale of alcohol in his shop." However, as he is a new believer and was engaged in this business before becoming a Baha'i, he should be given a reasonable opportunity to find another means whereby he can earn a living and should be given every assistance by the National Spiritual Assembly to do so. He should be treated with patience and understanding, especially if he is making efforts to dispose of this business and to seek other employment. However, if after a reasonable time has elapsed and no effort has been made to comply with the Bahá'í law, then, as a last resort, the Assembly would have no alternative but to suspend his administrative rights.(13 March 1974 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1813. We have found no texts prohibiting the friends from using favoured extracts in their food. This may be a matter for later legislation by the Universal House of Justice but for the time being the friends should be left free to do as they choose. The same principle applies to those who are employed in factories manufacturing such extracts.(7 April 1974 to an individual believer)
1814. Flagrant violation by members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'í requirement to abstain from intoxicating drinks will certainly have a debilitating effect on the national community, and these violationsPage 253
should be forcefully resisted through frank consultation of the matter by the Counsellors with the National Spiritual Assembly, so that in addition to admonishments, stern warnings be given to the member or members concerned, and sanctions imposed, if disregard of Bahá'í laws is continued.
(From a memorandum dated 10 February 1975 to the International Teaching Centre)
1815. Such employments [Bahá'ís who are in the employment of non-Bahá'ís and whose employment involves the serving or selling of alcoholic beverages] cover a very wide range of degree of involvement, therefore it is left to the individual to decide whether or not he feels his employment violates the spirit of the Bahá'í law. In cases of doubt he can, of course, consult his Spiritual Assembly for advice.
We have found no explicit text or instruction of the beloved Guardian on such a situation [the sale of alcoholic beverages by a business in which a Bahá'í is a partner with non-Baha'is] and feel that it is one in which no hard and fast rules should be drawn at the present time.... We feel that this is a matter which needs to be decided in each case in the light of the spirit of the teachings and the circumstances of the case, and unless the situation is one which is endangering the good name of the Faith or is obviously a ruse on the part of a believer to evade the Bahá'í law, it should be left to the conscience of the believer concerned who should, of course, be informed of the Bahá'í teachings concerning alcohol and should make every effort to dissociate himself from such an activity.
The above [paragraph] concerns Bahá'ís who are already in partnerships dealing in such matters. It is, however, obvious that a Bahá'í who is not in such a situation should not enter into it.
(From a memorandum dated 15 January 1976 to the International Teaching Centre) Extract from Letter written on behalf of The Universal House of Justice)
1816. The future christening of the ... child should present no problem, for the Bahá'í parent should have no objection to the baptism of his child if the Catholic mother wishes it. Similarly, the use of champagne upon thatPage 254
occasion is a matter which she is free to undertake, but of course the Bahá'ís would not partake of alcoholic beverages.
(7 December 1977 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1817. The House of Justice ... points out that, as far as advertising is concerned, the Bahá'í must use wisdom in deciding what is allowable and what is not. For example, while the issuing of an advertisement specifically for wines would seem to be inadmissible, there would be no objection to a Bahá'í advertising agent's issuing an advertisement listing the prices of goods on sale at a supermarket even if wines and spirits are included on it. It is, thus, a matter of emphasis and wisdom. Primarily the House of Justice wishes the decision in such matters to be left to the judgement of the individual concerned, but where there is any doubt, or where the National Spiritual Assembly feels that the good name of the Faith is being injured, the Assembly should, of course, be consulted and could decide in specific instances.
In view of the requirements of his conscience in light of Bahá'í law, a Bahá'í advertising agent might be well advised to include a clause in any contract he signs in which difficulties of this nature might arise, protecting his right to demur.(20 December 1977 to an individual believer)
1818. Concerning the questions you raise about [doing] illustrations for the wine company manual, the House of Justice feels this is for you to decide...(18 January 1978 to an individual believer)
1819. As to your questions concerning the serving of alcohol by Bahá'ís to their non-Bahá'í guests, the House of Justice feels that, because of the many differing circumstances relating to this subject, it does not wish to make any definite statements at the present time. It is obvious that Bahá'ís themselves must not drink alcohol and the rest, for the time being, must be left to their own consciences....
Concerning your enquiry about a Bahá'í keeping brandy in his home for emergency use on the advice of a doctor, the House of Justice feels there is no objection to this.(2 March 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1820. In the case of a believer who continues to take alcoholic drinks the Assembly should decide whether the offence is flagrant, and, if it is, should try to help him to understand the importance of obeying the Bahá'í law. If he does not respond he must be repeatedly warned and, if this is unsuccessful, he is subject to loss of his voting rights. In the case of an alcoholic who is trying to overcome his weakness the Assembly must show especial patience, and may have to suggest professional counselling and assistance. If the offence is not flagrant, the Assembly need take no action at all.
(26 September 1978 to a National Spiritual Assembly)Revised August 1990
EXTRACTS FROM THE BAHÁ'Í WRITINGS AND LETTERS WRITTEN BY OR ON BEHALF OF SHOGHI EFFENDI AND THE UNIVERSAL HOUSE OF JUSTICE
Compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of JusticeSeptember 1990
SOULS TO THE CAUSE" ................................... 259
11. SOME GUIDELINES FOR REACHING PROMINENT PEOPLE ..... 265
2.1 "ESTABLISH TIES OF FRIENDSHIP" .................... 265
2.2 ATTITUDES AND APPROACHES .......................... 267
2.3 THE ROLE OF THE SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLIES .............. 274
2.4 THE "COURSE OF PRUDENCE" .......................... 277Page 259
I. The Importance of Guiding "Distinguished Souls to the Cause"From the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
1821. I hope that thou wilt ... endeavour to teach some high-ranking and influential persons, for the hearts of the people have become attracted to the Cause of God and their minds bewildered and enthralled by its awesome grandeur. Those who occupy high positions, too, have become profoundly receptive to its message. The loved ones of God should therefore make a determined effort and guide these distinguished souls to the Cause.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
1822. You should always seek to guide prominent people inasmuch as once such a person is regenerated he is likely to bring about the quickening of a thousand souls. Thus the spirit of truth would flow forth unimpeded into the veins and arteries of a multitude.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)
1823. Wherefore thou shouldst seek to impart the Message to influential person and become a cause of guidance to the learned and distinguished, that perchance there may be raised up in Iran wise, sagacious souls who shall be solicitous for both the good of the state and the welfare of the populace, who shall labour diligently night and day to the end that their great nation may retrieve its former glory and restore for all the world to see the splendour of the Kiyaniyan kings, and that its illustrious people may shine out amongst mankind with an extraordinary brilliance and attain to lasting happiness and contentment.
(From a Tablet to a group of believers - translated from the Persian)
1824. You should give serious concern to the matter of teaching, and think of ways of imparting the Message to prominent people, for once such person have given their allegiance to the Faith they will cause the people to be led, troop after troop, to the wellspring of unfailing guidance.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)Page 260
From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted.]
1825. It is incumbent upon the Bahá'ís to seize the opportunities of the present hour and, with wisdom, firm resolve and cheerfulness, impress the verities of their Faith upon the attention of every reasonable-minded person in whom they find a willingness to listen, explaining to them its noble principles, its universal teachings, its basic tenets, and the fundamental laws of the new era inaugurated by Bahá'u'lláh. In like manner, they must clearly and convincingly demonstrate to their fellow-citizens, whether high or low, the necessity of accepting and recognizing the resplendent teachings of the Universal Manifestation of God; must show to the leaders of their country that the unity, the strength and spiritual vitality of the Bahá'í community are palpable and concrete realities; must eliminate and nullify the effects of prejudices, superstitions, misunderstandings and all fanciful and erroneous conceptions on the hearts of the pure and righteous people; and must attract to the community of the Greatest Name, through whatever channels and by whatever means, persons of capacity, experience and devotion who,joining the ranks of the believers, severing themselves from every extraneous attachment, identifying themselves whole-heartedly with the organized community of the Bahá'ís in the area, will labour heart and soul to consolidate the foundations of Bahá'í belief and proclaim the tidings of the Promised Day.
With regard to the Bahá'í literacy classes, their continuation at the present time is a service beyond measure both profitable and desirable. Similarly, the establishment of contact and maintenance of friendly relations with government officials and other nationally distinguished figures is a matter that should be regarded by the friends as a binding obligation.
(2 November 1928 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Iran Central Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian).
1826. Shoghi Effendi was delighted to hear of your conversation with Sir.... How much he hopes to have such scholars obtain a true understanding of the spirit and teaching of the Cause and arise to dissipate that veil of misconceptions that is prejudicing the mind of the scholars in the western world. The Cause is in great need for such competent and spirituallyPage 261
minded men who after a thorough study of the Movement would share with the world the fruit of their labours.
(11 March 19297 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1827. ...he feels that the great point is to confirm people of true capacity and ability -- from whatever social stratum they may be -- because the Cause needs now, and will ever-increasingly need, souls of great ability who can bring it before the public at large, administer its ever-growing affairs, and contribute to its advancement in every field.
(30 October 1941 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1828. The more people of capacity who accept the Faith, the higher will become the standard of the entire group.
(17 June 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1829. The Cause of God has room for all. It would, indeed, not
be the Cause of God if it did not take in and welcome everyone -- poor andrich, educated and ignorant, the unknown, and the
prominent -- God surely wants them all, as He created them all.
(10 December 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1830. He was very pleased to learn ... that your reception was such a success, and that you now feel that people in high places are beginning to waken from their sleep and see the Light of Bahá'u'lláh. The time must come when they do; it just seems a question of how soon.
A lot, also, depends on our having inside the Faith enough people of real capacity to form a nucleus that will attract to it similar souls....
(22 November 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1831. He hopes that your contract with Chief ... will prove fruitful, and that his heart may open to the Message you have carried him. It would be a great asset to the Faith if a prominent Chief of some tribe should accept it and arise to serve it.(31 May 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
From letters written by the Universal House of Justice
1832. ...one of the most important duties of each National Spiritual Assembly is to acquaint leaders of thought and prominent men and women in its country with the fundamental aims, the history and the present status and achievements of the Cause. Such an activity must be carried out with the utmost wisdom, discretion and dignity.
(2 July 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", 1st rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1976), p. 117)
1833. The paramount goal of the teaching work at the present time is to carry the message of Bahá'u'lláh to every stratum of human society and every walk of life. An eager response to the teachings will often be found in the most unexpected quarters, and any such response should be quickly followed up, for success in a fertile area awakens a response in those who were at first uninterested.
The same presentation of the teachings will not appeal to everybody; the method of expression and the approach must be varied in accordance with the outlook and interests of the hearer. An approach which is designed to appeal to everybody will usually result in attracting the middle section, leaving both extremes untouched. No effort must be spared to ensure that the healing Word of God reaches the rich and the poor, the learned and the illiterate, the old and the young, the devout and the atheist, and the dweller in the remote hills and islands, the inhabitant of the teeming cities, the suburban businessman, the labourer in the slums, the nomadic tribesman, the farmer, the university student; all must be brought consciously with the teaching plans of the Bahá'í Community.
(31 October 1967 to all National Spiritual Assemblies, published in "Wellspring of Guidance: Messages 1963-1968", p. 124)
1834. There have been notable advances in the process of gaining wider recognition for the Cause of God and in fostering cordial relations with civil authorities, a matter of vital importance in these days when there is a growth of opposition to the Faith from those who, misconstruing its true nature and aims, take alarm at its progress.
(Ridvan 1978 to the International Bahá'í Convention)Page 263
1835. Yet these disasters have called forth fresh energies in the hearts of the friends, have fed the deep roots of the Cause and given rise to a great harvest of signal victories. Chief among these are the successful conclusion of the Five Year Plan; the launching of the Seven Year Plan, now in the final year of its second phase; and unprecedented proclamation of the Faith to Heads of States, parliaments and parliamentarians, government ministers and officials, leaders of thought and people prominent in the professions, resulting in a change of attitude on the part of the mass media, which now increasingly approach us for information about the Cause....
[1 The "loss of six Hands of the Cause" and the waves of bitter persecution" directed against the Bahá'í community in Iran.]
The growing maturity of a world-wide religious community which all these processes indicate is further evidenced in the reaching out, by a number of national communities, to the social and economic life of their countries, exemplified by the founding of tutorial schools, the inception of radio stations, the pursuit of rural development programmes and the operation of medical and agricultural schemes. To these early beginnings must be added the undoubted skills acquired, as a result of the Iranian crisis, in dealing with international organizations, national governments and the mass media -- the very elements of society with which it must increasingly collaborate toward the realization of peace on earth.(Ridvan 1983 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
1836. The entrance of the Cause onto the world scene is apparent from a number of public statements in which we have been characterized as "model citizens", "gentle"' "law-abiding", "not guilty of any political offence or crime"; all excellent but utterly inadequate insofar as the reality of the Faith and its aims and purposes are concerned. Nevertheless people are willing to hear about the Faith, and the opportunity must be seized. Persistently greater and greater efforts must be made to acquaint the leaders of the world, in all departments of life, with the true nature of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation as the sole hope for the pacification and unification of the world. Simultaneous with such a programme must be unabated, vigorous pursuit of the teaching work, so that we may be seen to be a growing community, while universal observance by the friends of the Bahá'í laws of personal living will assert the fullness of, and arouse aPage 264
desire to share in, the Bahá'í way of life. By all these means the public image of the Faith will become, gradually but constantly, nearer to its true character....
There can be no doubt that the progress of the Cause from this time onward will be characterized by an ever increasing relationship to the agencies, activities, institutions and leading individuals of the non-Bahá'í world. We shall acquire greater stature at the United Nations, become better known in the deliberations of governments, a familiar figure to the media, a subject of interest to academics, and inevitably the envy of failing establishments. Our preparation for the response to this situation must be a continual deepening of our faith, an unwavering adherence to its principles of abstention from partisan politics and freedom from prejudices, and above all an increasing understanding of its fundamental verities and relevance to the modern world.(Ridvan 1984 to the Bahá'ís of the World)
1837. Some of the loved ones should establish ties of friendship with the notables of the region and manifest towards them the most affectionate regard. In this manner these men may become acquainted with the Bahá'í way of life, learn of the teachings of the Merciful One, and be informed of the pervasive influence of the Word of God in every quarter of the globe. If but one of these souls were attracted to the Cause, others would quickly be similarly moved, since the people tend to follow in the footsteps of their leaders.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)
1838. Ye should strive to widen the circle of those with whom ye enjoy friendly relations, and to establish the closest contact with those benevolent souls whose only thought is to do good, who are labouring in the cause of universal peace, and who cherish no desire but to witness the unification of the world of humanity. Ye should seek out the company of such people as these, that ye may imbue them with an awareness of the heavenly Kingdom, for albeit their motives are of the finest, yet they do not realize that all the powers of the earth are impotent either to establish universal peace or to promote the oneness of the human world. Nothing short of the power of the Word of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit can ever succeed.
(From a Tablet to a Spiritual Assembly - translated from the Persian)
From letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]
1839. Our Guardian hopes and prays that you will be guided in your endeavour to bring together at the banquet various prominent citizens of various races and religions with the sole purpose of winning then ultimately to the recognition of God's sacred Faith. You must stress the universal aspect of the Cause and show utmost kindness and love to them all as a preparation to their eventual acceptance of the entire truth.(8 October 1927)
1840. Some of the items were of great interest to him, especially that part which told of the contacts you have made with distinguished men and invited them to speak at your meetings. This is an effective way to make these take an active part in promoting the Faith and increasing their knowledge of its spirit and basic teachings.
Shoghi Effendi hopes that some day they will come forward as devoted servants and consecrate their lives to it....there are distinguished men who are friends and admirers of the Cause, but due to their natural conservative and cautious attitude towards anything new, prefer to be onlookers than passionate advocates. They cannot however keep on that dispassionate state of mind, some day they will feel unwittingly drawn into it....
He is sending you two copies of "The Dawn-Breakers" to be presented to two distinguished friends of the Cause. One of these he wants to be presented to sir ... in acknowledgement of the services he has rendered to us.... This is one form of keeping up the interest of such distinguished men in the progress of the Faith. Maybe one day they will take an active part.(6 May 1932)
1841. He was also very pleased to see that the Cause is receiving newspaper publicity there, and you are winning the sympathetic interest of editors and people of importance. The Faith needs friends as well as adherents, and you should always endeavour to attract the hearts of enlightened leaders to its teachings.(5 October 1945 to a Local Spiritual Assembly)
1842. There are, as you truly say, many important admirers of the Faith at present in the U.S.A. -- and, indeed, in other countries, but it is unlikely such people will actually embrace the Cause; they are not ready to identify themselves with an as yet struggling Movement with a relatively small following; moreover, many such people would be unwilling to make the effort required to live up to Bahá'í standards of conduct! Still, it is excellent that we are winning more friends and admirers; this in itself helps the Cause and adds to its prestige, and gradually some of these people may actually make the sacrifice of entering its service.(25 February 1947)
1843. He feels that the believers should make every effort, in the proper way and with discretion, to keep in contact with important people.... We should make every effort to ensure that leaders of thought in public life are not merely familiar with the name Baha'i, but if possible stand in a cordial relationship to some members of our Community, if not to the body of the Faith.
(18 February 1951 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
From letters written by the Universal House of Justice
1844. A very important activity which has been pursued effectively in all too few countries is the undertaking by the National Spiritual Assembly of a sustained, planned effort to foster cordial relations with prominent people and responsible government officials and to familiarize them personally with the basic tenets and the teachings of the Faith. Such an activity must be carried out with wisdom and discretion, and requires the constant attention of a responsible committee as well as periodic review by the National Spiritual Assembly itself. Where successful it can effectively forestall opposition to the Faith and smooth the way for many essential aspects of the development of the Bahá'í community.
(Naw-Ruz 1974 to all National Spiritual Assemblies)
1845. The House of Justice feels that your National Assembly must do more than distribute printed information about the Faith, as valuable as this is. A beginning should be made to identify the prominent persons in your country and ways be found to meet with them personally to acquaint them with the Faith. To this end, the House of Justice again urges you to appoint a committee to investigate the possibilities. If the few prominent Bahá'ís ... are too busy to assist, then you will have to either redirect their efforts or call others to this task.(22 August 1984 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1846. Be righteous, O servants, in your actions! Turn not away from the helpless; make mention of Me amidst the great, and have no fear.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1847. For we, the followers of the Blessed Beauty, should all be engaged in the service of the Cause of God, and become sources of guidance to humanity. Thou shouldst, if thou deemest it advisable and possible, proceed forthwith to organize a meeting of dignitaries. And when thy distinguished guests have assembled, speak to them about the Cause. Thou shouldst likewise advise the friends to arrange for another meeting with these same persons to be held one evening and to be addressed by them. This is a great service that I am entrusting to thee, and I pray to God that He may grant thee His assistance and confirmation, and bestow His blessings upon thy family.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)
From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]
1848. I do hope your passionate fervour, your mature experience and the ardour of your love will accomplish a great deal among the higher-class people with whom you associate. The Cause must capture the heights, and I look to you as the beloved and enthusiastic apostle of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to win to the Cause, cultured and capable souls. Be not disheartened and be assured of my constant loving prayers for the success of your much-valued efforts.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 2 April 1925 written on his behalf)
1849. Ever since its inception Shoghi Effendi has cherished the hope of making it a work that would prove interesting and illuminating to the reader. Destined mainly for the non-Baha'is, he has tried to attract through its pages the attention of educated and enlightened people and especially leaders in every country, with a view to acquainting them with the broad and fundamental principles of the Faith and to winning their consideration of the Movement as a growing force for good and for peace throughout the entire world. It is therefore with lively satisfaction that he has seen the publication grow yearly in importance and this feeling has been lately enhanced very much by the words of interest and appreciation which he has received from many quarters and leading men, among which was a remarkably encouraging letter from Sir Herbert Samuel.Page 269
Indeed Shoghi Effendi has made it a point to send copies to as many leading men as possible and copies of last year's issue were presented to the Emperor of Japan, the Shah of Persia and Queen Marie of Rumania.[1 "The Bahá'í World"]
(12 December 1929 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1850. As to teaching work in colleges and universities, this is very important, for students as a whole are open-minded and little influenced by tradition. They would easily enter the Cause if the subject is properly presented and their intellect and sentiments properly satisfied. This, however, should be attempted only by persons who have had university training and are therefore acquainted with the mind of the intelligent and educated youth.
(3 February 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, published in "Bahá'í News" 64 (July 1932), p. 4)
1851. The letter you addressed to the Secretary of State, he liked very much. He sincerely hopes that through such approaches and communications the authorities will come to take into consideration the importance of the Cause and gradually feel deep sympathy and admiration for its spirit. It is very important that they should know how we stand and what is our attitude towards some of the outstanding problems and issues that face the world in the present day. These are very difficult questions and most delicate, but the Master's spirit will surely guide you and inspire you to do what is proper and wise.
(4 May 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
1852. It is really strange how much modern thinkers are, of their own accord, drawing nearer to the teachings of the Faith and voicing views very much like ours. It shows clearly the truth of the saying of the Master that the spirit of the Movement has permeated the hearts of all the people of the world. It is God's hands operating and guiding the nations and intellectual men and leaders of society to a gradual acceptance of His Message revealed through Bahá'u'lláh. The way we can hasten the development of this process is by doing our share in spreading the words of God far and wide. Even though we may not see any case of sudden conversion on the part of thesePage 270
intellectuals, yet they are bound to be influenced in their view and look to the Faith with greater admiration and with a more willing desire to be led by its precepts. Shoghi Effendi, therefore, wishes me to encourage you in your work, in sending appropriate literature to such men of learning.(7 May 1933 Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1853. Through the reading of such a challenging and scholarly work many will, undoubtedly, be awakened and stimulated, while others will be infuriated to the extent of virulently attacking the Faith. The unprecedented publicity which the Cause will be thus receiving will in itself constitute an important step towards a wider and fuller recognition of the Movement by distinguished personalities, in both intellectual and social circles.[1 George Townshend, "The Promise of All Ages"]
(15 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1854. Regarding your work with the upper classes, the Guardian quite agrees with you that the people of wealth and culture do sometimes have a great capacity for spiritual things. But they need the right type of people to approach them, and a method that can suit their mentality. Our teaching methods should allow a certain degree of elasticity in establishing contacts with various types of individual seekers. Every inquirer has to be approached from his own angle. Those who are essentially of the mystic type should first be given those teachings of the Cause which emphasize the nature and value of spiritual realities; while those who are practically minded and of a positive type are naturally more ready and inclined to accept the social aspect of the Teachings. But of course, gradually the entire Message, in all its aspects and with the full implications it entails, should be explained to the newcomer. For to be a believer means to accept the Cause in its wholeness, and not to adhere to some of its teachings. However, as already stated, this ought to be done gradually and tactfully. For conversation is after all a slow process.
(28 December 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)Page 271
1855. It is wonderful to see, at last, the intellectuals turning to the problems of the world and seeking to solve them. Side by side with this non-Bahá'í work, so close to many of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, we believers must carry on our purely Bahá'í work, which only we can do, and which has such tremendous implications for the future of humanity in every sphere.
(14 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1856. They must be neither provocative nor supine, neither
fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the
fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith. Thy
must be either wary or bold, they must act swiftly or mark
time, they must use the direct or indirect method, they must be
challenging or conciliatory, in strict accordance with the
spiritual receptivity of the soul with whom they come in
contact, whether he be a nobleman or a commoner, a northerner
or a southerner, a layman or a priest, a capitalist or a
socialist, a statesman or a prince, an artisan or a beggar. In
their presentation of the Message of the Bahá'u'lláh they must
neither hesitate nor falter. They must be neither contemptuous
of the poor nor timid before the great. In their exposition of
its verities they must neither over stress nor whittle down the
truth which they champion, whether their hearer belong to
royalty, or be a prince of the Church, or a politician, or a
tradesman, or a man of the street. To all alike, high or low,
rich or poor, they must proffer, with open hands, with a
radiant heart, with an eloquent tongue, with infinite patience,
with uncompromising loyalty, with great wisdom, with
unshakeable courage, the Cup of Salvation, at so critical an
hour, to the confused, the hungry, the distraught andfear-stricken multitudes...
(5 June 1947 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 25-26)
1857. The lack of prejudice, (for the most part) the true altruism of the pure scientist, is pretty well demonstrated, and to such people the Faith, if properly presented, should have a great appeal; and moreover such people could do tremendous things for the Cause if they joined it in numbers.Page 272
There is certainly a place in the Cause for outstanding people, and we need more of them. But the administration must function on a consultative basis, not leadership.(5 July 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1858. It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Bahá'í scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world has -- at least the thinking world -- caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound "new" to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!(3 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1859. ...the solution given to the world's problems by Bahá'u'lláh is the only solution -- being Divine in origin -- and most desperately needed; therefore we, the few who have caught the vision, should not waste our energies beating up and down the paths pursued by humanity, and which are not solving its ghastly present-day problems. We should concentrate on the Cause, because it is what is needed to cure the world. This is a sound attitude, for if we don't devote ourselves to the Bahá'í work and teaching, who will?
On the other hand there is a big difference between this and learning. If the Bahá'ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems. We need Bahá'í scholars, not only people far, far more deeply aware of what our teachings really are, but also well-read and well-educated people, capable of correlating our teachings to the current thoughts of the leaders of society.
We Bahá'ís should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith. What the Guardian, however, does not advise the friends to do is to dissipate their time and energies in serving movements that are akin to our principles but not, we believe, capable of solving the present spiritual crisis the world finds itself in. We can co-operate with such movements and their promoters to good effect,Page 273
while at the same time openly standing forth as Bahá'ís with a specific programme to offer society.(5 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
From letters written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
1860. In view of the difficulty you have experienced in obtaining publicity about the Faith in the national press in ..., the House of Justice has instructed us to say that there are three courses of action which should assist you in achieving this in the future. First, it is important that there be certain believers, such as the members of a public information committee, who are given the task of cultivating personal contacts with influential figures in the national information media. This personal contact is a vital element in fostering the receptivity of the media to news about the Faith. Secondly, as an aid to promoting such links, your representatives could take with them examples of excellent material about the Faith that has been published in such important newspapers as "Le Monde", "The Times" of London, and "The New York Times".... Thirdly, repeated mention of the Faith in the local press will contribute to the willingness of the national press to regard the Bahá'í Faith as newsworthy material.
(5 January 1981 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1861. With the approach of the Year of Peace and the rapidly growing awareness among thinking people of the need for world-wide solutions to the problems threatening humankind, the House of Justice feels that there is a need for research and the writing of books and papers on subjects which are of immediate interest to the leaders of thought and the generality of mankind.
(31 March 1985 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Association for Bahá'í Studies, Canada)
1862. It was also mentioned that there was a need to reach leaders of thought and people in authority with the Teachings; that there is a tendency for the people to more readily accept new ideas if they have already been accepted by the upper echelons of society. If this is so, perhaps a viable programme could be developed of inviting prominentPage 274
Bahá'ís from other countries to visit ... in order to contact prominent [individuals] of similar station or profession.
(16 February 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1863. National Bahá'í communities have organized and successfully conducted inter-religious conferences, peace seminars, symposiums on racism and other subjects on which we have a specific contribution to make, often achieving widespread publicity and the interest of highly placed leaders of society.
(Ridvan 1987 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World)2.3 The Role of the Spiritual Assemblies
From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
[1 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]
1864. To approach such well-known important persons is always an extremely delicate matter, since it requires a good deal of wisdom, courage and ability. But those friends who really feel the urge to do so, and possess the necessary qualifications, should cultivate such friends which, if properly done, can be of an immense benefit to the Cause. In any case, however, the assistance and help of either the Local or the National Assembly is not only useful but necessary, if important contacts of this sort are to be fruitful and promising....
(30 August 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1865. ...a resolute attempt should be made by the national elected representatives of the entire community, aided by their Public Relations, Race Unity, Public Meetings, Visual Education, College Speakers Bureau and Radio Committees, to reinforce the measures already adopted for the proclamation, through the press and radio, of the verities of the Faith to the masses, and for the establishment of closer contact with the leaders of public thought, with colleges and universities and with newspaper and magazine editors.
(5 June 1947 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the West, published in "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" pp. &9)Page 275
1866. The National Assembly should not be timid about trying to contact important visitors to.... The stature of the Faith is now such that its representatives can demand and receive attention. Whether they are always successful or not, is not the point, the point is to let people of importance realize we are active and on the world scene, so to speak.
(23 November 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1867. The Guardian was very happy to see your Assembly had had a successful meeting with both the Mayor of ... and the Minister for Foreign Affairs; such important contacts should be carried out on a high level, and only believers able to perhaps offer hospitality or having some point of contact with the officials in question or being themselves attractive to meet, should be used by your Assembly, and in conjunction with your members, to meet such personages.
(30 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1868. He feels that the time has now come when you should establish a national committee to make contacts with civil authorities on a national level, and with important public figures in State and large City administrations. The purpose of these contacts is to establish friendly relations with important public figures, so that they may be fully informed of the Faith and its principles, may gain confidence in the Bahá'ís and their activities, may understand the non-political aspect of the Faith, and in the future, be anxious to be of assistance to us as the Faith evolves.
(29 December 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)
From letters written by or on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
1869. National Spiritual Assemblies must promote wise and dignified approaches to people prominent in all areas of human endeavour, acquainting them with the nature of the Bahá'í community and the basic tenets of the Faith, and winning their esteem and friendship.
(Naw Ruz 1979 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World)Page 276
1870. ... the House of Justice is extremely happy that your National Assembly is continuing its wise, effective and ongoing efforts to familiarize the officials in your country about the Faith. Such approaches should be planned whenever the occasion arises. In the meantime, through your various proclamation efforts, the Bahá'í community should indirectly draw the attention of people of all strata of society to the Cause so that it will be easier for the Bahá'ís to have a positive access to the officials in the time of need.
(26 July 1987 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1871. The spark which ignited the mounting interest in the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh was the heroic fortitude and patience of the beloved friends in Iran, which moved the Bahá'í world community to conduct a persistent, carefully orchestrated programme of appeal to the conscience of the world. This vast undertaking, involving the entire community acting unitedly through its Administrative Order, was accompanied by equally vigorous and visible activities of that community in other spheres which have been detailed separately. Nonetheless, we are impelled to mention that an important outcome of this extensive exertion is our recognition of a new stage in the external affairs of the Cause, characterized by a marked maturation of National Spiritual Assemblies in their growing relations with governmental and non-governmental organizations and with the public in general.
This recognition prompted a meeting in Germany last November of national Bahá'í external affairs representatives from Europe and North America, together with senior representatives of the Offices of the Bahá'í International Community, intent on effecting greater coordination of their work. This was a preliminary step towards the gathering of more and more National Spiritual Assemblies into a harmoniously functioning, international network capable of executing global undertakings in this rapidly expanding field. Related to these developments was the significant achievement of international recognition accorded the Faith through its formal acceptance last October into membership of the Network on Conservation and Religion of the renowned World Wide Fund for Nature.Page 277
(Ridvan 1988 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World)2.4 The "Course of Prudence"
1872. ...thou shouldst initially adopt that course of prudence that the Faith enjoins. In the early stages, thou shouldst seek out the company of the eminent members of the populace and, turning thyself in utter lowliness to the unseen realm of Glory, thou shouldst pray for succour and protection so that the Holy Spirit may, through the outpourings of its grace, grant thee its assistance. When, by thy godly conduct and demeanour, thy fervour, thy chaste and lucid utterance, thou shalt have succeeded in winning the affection of one and all, then shall the portals of heavenly guidance be opened wide; then shall the bounteous cup be borne around and all the souls that drink therefrom be inebriated with the wine of holy mysteries and truths.
(From a Tablet to an individual believer- translated from the Persian)
From letters written by or on behalf of Shoghi Effendi
[9 To individual believers unless otherwise noted]
1873. You mentioned in your letter your intention to make contact with the representatives of movements which are akin to the Cause in the principles they advocate. Shoghi Effendi trusts that in all such communications and activities you would maintain the prestige and superiority of the Cause. We should never compromise our principles for some temporary benefits we are apt to reap. It is very important to bring the Cause to the attention of such leaders of thought and for this purpose we have to get in touch with them, but our aim should be to draw them to the Cause rather than follow their footsteps.
(29 November 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1874. I entirely agree with you that non-interference in politics does not imply non-association on the part of the friends with the outside world. I hope you will impress the friends with the necessity of maintaining close, but not too intimate, relationships with the authorities, the foreign representatives, and the leaders of public thought in the capital. They should be on their guard, however, lest too close an association shouldPage 278
lead, imperceptibly, to compromise on the principles which we cherish and uphold. They must mix with all classes of society without associating themselves with their policies and schemes.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi, appended to a letter dated 8 October 1927 written on his behalf)
1875. It is our supreme obligation to endeavour to bring the knowledge of this Revelation to the highest authorities and the leading personalities among our countrymen, but to refrain from associating ourselves or identifying our Faith with their political pursuits, their conflicting ambitions and party programmes. May the Almighty guide and sustain your high endeavours, and enable you to win for His Cause the most capable, the most virtuous and the most enlightened leaders of public opinion in that land.
(In the handwriting of Shoghi Effendi appended to a letter dated 15 April 1932 written on his behalf)
1876. Shoghi Effendi fully approves your meeting of important men who are in power and have the reins of government in their hands. In fact he would urge you to avail yourself of every such opportunity that presents itself. But you should be very careful not to discuss matters that are political and that are points of contention between the different parties. That would drag the Cause into political affairs, a thing which was strictly forbidden by the Master. Your concern in meeting such people should be to familiarize them with the teachings of the Cause and imbue them with the spirit of the Movement. Should such men embrace the Movement they would lead with themselves thousands of others into the Cause.
(15 April 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
From a letter written by the Universal House of Justice
1877. It is perfectly in order for Bahá'í institutions to present the Bahá'í view or recommendations on any subject of vital interest to the Faith which is under the consideration of a government, if the governmental authority itself invites such a submission, or if it is open to receive recommendations. The Bahá'í Assemblies should, however, refrain from bringing pressure to bear on the authorities in such matters, eitherPage 279
separately or in concert with others. The Bahá'ís will submit their views, if permissible, expressing them as cogently and forcefully as the occasion warrants, but will not go beyond this to the stage of pressing the authorities to adopt these views. Moreover, when considering whether or not it is wise to make such a submission on any particular matter, the Bahá'í Assembly concerned must take care that it will not diffuse the energies of the Community or divert its resources by making submissions unless the interests of Faith demand it. Likewise the Assembly must ensure that it does not, by any minute and detailed analysis of a situation, "needlessly alienate or estrange any government or people", or involve the Faith in "the base clamourings and contentions of warring sects, factions and nations."(21 November 1971 to an individual believer)
From letters written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice
1878. The House of Justice received your letter of 13 December 1986 inquiring about permissible activities of the Bahá'ís in relation towards governments...
The general policy already enunciated by Shoghi Effendi in "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh", pages 63-67, should be scrupulously upheld by the friends. However, as the Faith emerges from obscurity, the application of certain aspects of this policy will require the clarification of the House of Justice. With the passage of time, practices in the political realm will definitely undergo the profound changes anticipated in the Bahá'í writings. As a consequence, what we understand now of the policy of non-involvement in politics will also undergo a change; but as Shoghi Effendi has written, this instruction, "at the present stage of the evolution of our Faith, should be increasingly emphasized, irrespective of its application to the East or to the West".
In view of the necessity of the Bahá'í community to relate to governments, whether for reasons of defending its persecuted members or of responding to opportunities to be of service, a correct understanding of what is legitimate Bahá'í action in the face of the policy of non-interference with government affairs is bound to be difficult to achieve on the part of individual friends. The force of circumstances, operating internally and externally, is pressing the Bahá'í community into certain relationships with governments.Page 280
Hence, it is important that decisions as to the conduct of such relationships be made by authorized institutions of the Faith and not by individuals. In matters of this kind, given the utter complexity of human affairs with which the Bahá'í community must increasingly cope both spiritually and practically, individual judgement is not sufficient.(23 June 1987 to an individual believer)
1879. This is a field of service in which much latitude for initiative must be given to individuals. For instance, in the aspect of the work which calls for reaching very important persons, it is necessary to rely on the personal relationships which individual Bahá'ís have developed or are capable of developing, to rely on their ability to engage the attention of such persons, because these Bahá'ís are themselves attractive in particular ways. While exercising careful judgement in selecting the individuals you can call on for such services, and providing them with any necessary guidance, you must also be sensitive to these points and avoid excessive control, or even the appearance of it, in your dealing with those who are engaged in these important services.(26 April 1988 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
1880. Your comments concerning the maintenance of contacts with officials in the lower level of your Government's hierarchy are well taken, and you should feel confident in pursuing this wise course of action.
There is no objection to initiating contact with high officials of the Catholic Church. This would require your careful consideration as to the timeliness of such action and determination by you as to how to proceed without unduly arousing opposition to the Faith.
Your Assembly is encouraged to establish contacts with national associations, bearing in mind the need to select such organizations wisely, so as not to stretch your human and financial resources beyond reasonable bounds or to distract the community from its primary teaching efforts. As this balance is sometimes difficult to achieve, you may wish to include this as an element of your consultation with the Counsellors on the role of ... in the process of the Faith's emergence from obscurity in Latin America and the world.(23 March 1989 to a National Spiritual Assembly)
(Extracts from letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi)
1881. In regard to your wish of broadcasting the Message, Shoghi Effendi would advise you to consult with the Spiritual Assembly as to whether such an action meets their approval, and if so to ask their assistance and help for finding the best means through which to carry out your plan. The idea of a wireless station is rather ambitious and requires much financial expenditure. If, however, you find it feasible and within your financial capacity you should not hesitate to do so, in as much as this will enable you to spread the Cause in a much easier and more efficient manner.(13 August 1933 to an individual believer)
1882. Your suggestion regarding the installation of a radio station in the Temple is truly splendid. But it remains to be seen whether the National Spiritual Assembly finds it financially feasible to undertake such a project, which is, beyond doubt, a very costly enterprise. Whatever the expenditure involved in this project, there is no reason why the believers should not start now considering seriously the possibility of such a plan, which, whe[n] carried out and perfected, can lend an unprecedented impetus to the expansion of the teaching work throughout America.
It is for the National Spiritual Assembly, however, to take the final decision in this matter, and to determine whether the national fund of the Cause is at present sufficiently strong to permit them to install a radio station in the Temple.
The Guardian feels, nevertheless, confident that this plan will receive the careful consideration of the National Spiritual Assembly members, and hopes that, if feasible, they will take some definite action in this matter.(31 January 1937 to an individual believer)
1883. He read with interest the various suggestions you made to the National Spiritual Assembly, and feels they are fundamentally sound, especially the wider use of the radio. Unfortunately at the present time anything that would make a fresh demand on the financial resources of the Cause in America -- such as a Baha'i-owned broadcasting station --Page 282
is out of the question, as the friends are finding it difficult to meet the great needs of the teaching and Temple Funds. However the idea should, he feels, be kept in mind for future realization.(14 October 1942 to an individual believer)
1884. In connection with the radio work ... he would suggest that the main consideration is to bring to the attention of the public the fact that the Faith exists, and its teachings. Every kind of broadcast, whether of passages from the Writings, or on topical subjects, or lectures, should be used. The people need to hear the word "Baha'i" so that they can, if receptive, respond and seek the Cause out. The primary duty of the friends everywhere in the world is to let the people know such a Revelation is in existence; their next duty is to teach it.(24 July 1943 to an individual believer)
1885. He feels it would be excellent if the Cause could be introduced more to the people through the medium of radio, as it reaches the masses, especially those who do not take an interest in lectures or attend any type of meeting.(7 March 1945 to an individual believer)
1886. The matter of obtaining free time on the radio is one which the Radio Committee and the National Spiritual Assembly must decide upon: but the principle is that every effort should be made to present the teachings over the air as often as possible as long as the manner in which it is done is compatible with the dignity of our beloved Faith.(15 August 1945 to an individual believer)
1887. He was sorry to learn through your cable that the project for a Bahá'í radio station can not be carried out at present; he considers that such a station would be a very great asset to the Cause, not only as a teaching medium and a wonderful form of publicity, but also as an enhancement of its prestige. He feels your Assembly should not drop the matter, but go on investigating ways to make such a project materialize as soon as possible.
(20 March 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)Page 283
1888. He hopes that a Bahá'í radio station will prove feasible during the coming years, as he considers it of great importance.
(4 May 1946 to the Radio Committee of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
1889. The Bahá'ís should not always be the last to take up new and obviously excellent methods, but rather the first, as this agrees with the dynamic nature of the Faith which is not only progressive, but holds within itself the seeds of an entirely new culture and civilization.(5 May 1946 to an individual believer)
1890. The Guardian approves in principle of a radio station, and sees no objection to its being in the Temple; but he considers the cost you quote too much of a burden at the present time for the Fund to bear, in view of the multiple expenses of the new Seven Year Plan. If there is any way it can be done for a price you feel the Fund could pay, and which would be more reasonable, he approves of your doing it. In any case the National Spiritual Assembly should strongly press for recognition as a Religious Body, and claim full rights to be represented on the air on an equal footing with other established Churches.
(20 July 1946 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada)
1891. He approves of your desire to teach the principles of the Faith through radio. But he urges you to do all you can to always, however small the reference you are able to make to it may be, clearly identify or associate what you are giving out with Bahá'u'lláh. The time is too short now for us Baha'i's to be able to first educate humanity and then tell it that the Source is this new World Faith. For their own spiritual protection people must hear of the name Bahá'í -- then, if they turn blindly away, they cannot excuse themselves by saying they never even knew it existed! For dark days seem still ahead of the world, and outside of this Divine Refuge the people will not, we firmly believe, find inner conviction, peace and security. So they have a right to at least hear of the Cause as such!(24 April 1949 to an individual believer)
EXTRACTS FROM THE WRITINGS OF SHOGHI EFFENDI ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FORMATIVE AGE OF OUR FAITH
1892. The passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, so sudden in the circumstances which caused it, so dramatic in its consequences, could neither impede the operation of such a dynamic force nor obscure its purpose. Those fervid appeals, embodied in the Will and Testament of a departed Master, could not but confirm its aim, define its character and reinforce the promise of its ultimate success.[1 The Cause of Bahá'u'lláh]
Out of the pangs of anguish which His bereaved followers have suffered, amid the heat and dust which the attacks launched by a sleepless enemy had precipitated, the Administration of Bahá'u'lláh's invincible Faith was born. The potent energies released through the ascension of the Center of His Covenant crystallized into this supreme, this infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose. The Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá unveiled its character, reaffirmed its basis, supplemented its principles, asserted its indispensability, and enumerated its chief institutions....
("America and the Most Great Peace, 21 April 1933, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", rev. ed (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), p. 89)
1893. With 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í ascension, and more particularly with the passing of His well-beloved and illustrious sister the Most Exalted Leaf -- the last survivor of a glorious and heroic age -- there draws to a close the first and most moving chapter of Bahá'í history, marking the conclusion of the Primitive, the Apostolic Age of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. It was 'Abdu'l-Bahá Who, through the provisions of His weighty Will and Testament, has forged the vital link which must for ever connect the age that has just expired with the one we now live in -- the Transitional and Formative period of the Faith -- a stage that must in the fullness of time reach its blossom and yield its fruit in the exploits and triumphs that are to herald the Golden Age of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh.Page 286
Dearly-beloved friends! The onrushing forces so miraculously released through the agency of two independent and swiftly successive Manifestations are now under our very eyes and through the care of the chosen stewards of a far-flung Faith being gradually mustered and disciplined. They are slowly crystallizing into institutions that will come to be regarded as the hall-mark and glory of the age we are called upon to establish and by our deeds immortalize. For upon our present-day efforts, and above all upon the extent to which we strive to remodel our lives after the pattern of sublime heroism associated with those gone before us, must depend the efficacy of the instruments we now fashion -- instruments that must erect the structure of that blissful Commonwealth which must signalize the Golden Age of our Faith.
("The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh" 8 February 1934, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters" p. 98)
1894. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Who incarnates an institution for which we can find no parallel whatsoever in any of the world's recognized religious systems, may be said to have closed the Age to which He Himself belonged and opened the one in which we are now laboring. His Will and Testament should thus be regarded as the perpetual, the indissoluble link which the mind of Him Who is the Mystery of God has conceived in order to insure the continuity of the three ages that constitute the component parts of the Bahá'í Dispensation. The period in which the seed of the Faith had been slowly germinating is thus intertwined both with the one which must witness its efflorescence and the subsequent age in which that seed will have finally yielded its golden fruit.
The creative energies released by the Law of Bahá'u'lláh, permeating and evolving within the mind of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, have, by their very impact and close interaction, given birth to an Instrument which may be viewed as the Charter of the New World Order which is at once the glory and the promise of this most great Dispensation. The Will may thus be acclaimed as the inevitable offspring resulting from that mystic intercourse between Him Who communicated the generating influence of His divine Purpose and the One Who was its vehicle and chosen recipient. Being the Child of the Covenant -- the Heir of both the Originator and the Interpreter of the Law of God -- the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá can no more be divorced from Him Who supplied the original and motivating impulsePage 287
than from the One Who ultimately conceived it. Bahá'u'lláh 's inscrutable purpose, we must ever bear in mind, has been so thoroughly infused into the conduct of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and their motives have been so closely wedded together, that the mere attempt to dissociate the teachings of the former from any system which the ideal Exemplar of those same teachings has established would amount to a repudiation of one of the most sacred and basic truths of the Faith.
The Administrative Order, which ever since 'Abdu'l-Bahá'í ascension has evolved and is taking shape under our very eyes in no fewer than forty countries of the world, may be considered as the framework of the Will itself, the inviolable stronghold wherein this new-born child is being nurtured and developed. This Administrative Order, as it expands and consolidates itself, will no doubt manifest the potentialities and reveal the full implications of this momentous Document -- this most remarkable expression of the Will of One of the most remarkable Figures of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh. It will, as its component parts, its organic institutions, begin to function with efficiency and vigor, assert its claim and demonstrate its capacity to be regarded not only as the nucleus but the very pattern of the New World Order destined to embrace in the fullness of time the whole of mankind.
("The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh", 8 February 1934, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", pp. 143-44)
1895. Dearly-beloved friends: Though the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh has been delivered, the World Order which such a Revelation must needs beget is as yet unborn. Though the Heroic Age of His Faith is passed, the creative energies which that Age has released have not as yet crystallized into that world society which, in the fullness of time, is to mirror forth the brightness of His glory. Though the framework of His Administrative Order has been erected, and the Formative Period of the Bahá'í Era has begun, yet the promised Kingdom into which the seed of His institutions must ripen remains as yet uninaugurated....
"The heights," Bahá'u'lláh Himself testifies, "which, through the most gracious favor of God, mortal man can attain in this Day are as yet unrevealed to his sight. The world of being hath never had, nor doth it yet possess, the capacity for such a revelation. The day, however, isPage 288
approaching when the potentialities of so great a favor will, by virtue of His behest, be manifested unto men."
For the revelation of so great a favor a period of intense turmoil and wide-spread suffering would seem to be indispensable. Resplendent as has been the Age that has witnessed the inception of the Mission with which Bahá'u'lláh has been entrusted, the interval which must elapse ere that Age yields its choicest fruit must, it is becoming increasingly apparent, be overshadowed by such moral and social gloom as can alone prepare an unrepentant humanity for the prize she is destined to inherit....
As we view the world around us, we are compelled to observe the manifold evidences of that universal fermentation which, in every continent of the globe and in every department of human life, be it religious, social, economic or political, is purging and reshaping humanity in anticipation of the Day when the wholeness of the human race will have been recognized and its unity established. A twofold process, however, can be distinguished, each tending, in its own way and with an accelerated momentum, to bring to a climax the forces that are transforming the face of our planet. The first is essentially an integrating process, while the second is fundamentally disruptive. The former, as it steadily evolves, unfolds a System which may well serve as a pattern for that world polity towards which a strangely-disordered world is continually advancing; while the latter, as its disintegrating influence deepens, tends to tear down, with increasing violence, the antiquated barriers that seek to block humanity's progress towards its destined goal. The constructive process stands associated with the nascent Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, and is the harbinger of the New World Order that Faith must erelong establish. The destructive forces that characterize the other should be identified with a civilization that has refused to answer to the expectation of a new age, and is consequently falling into chaos and decline.
A titanic, a spiritual struggle, unparalleled in its magnitude yet unspeakably glorious in its ultimate consequences, is being waged as a result of these opposing tendencies, in this age of transition through which the organized community of the followers of Bahá'u'lláh and mankind as a whole are passing....
It is not my purpose to call to mind, much less to attempt a detailed analysis of, the spiritual struggles that have ensued, or to note the victoriesPage 289
that have redounded to the glory of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh since the day of its foundation. My chief concern is not with the happenings that have distinguished the First, the Apostolic Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation, but rather with the outstanding events that are transpiring in, and the tendencies which characterize, the formative period of its development, this Age of Transition, whose tribulations are the precursors of that Era of blissful felicity which is to incarnate God's ultimate purpose for all mankind.
("The Unfoldment of World Civilization", 11 March 1936, "The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Selected Letters", pp. 168-71)
1896. The moment had now arrived for that undying, that world-vitalizing Spirit that was born in Shiraz, that had been rekindled in Tihran, that had been fanned into flame in Baghdad and Adrianople, that had been carried to the West, and was now illuminating the fringes of five continents, to incarnate itself in institutions designed to canalize its outspreading energies and stimulate its growth. The Age that had witnessed the birth and rise of the Faith had now closed. The Heroic, the Apostolic Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, that primitive period in which its Founders had lived, in which its life had been generated, in which its greatest heroes had struggled and quaffed the cup of martyrdom, and its pristine foundations been established -- a period whose splendors no victories in this or any future age, however brilliant, can rival -- had now terminated with the passing of One Whose mission may be regarded as the link binding the Age in which the seed of the newborn Message had been incubating and those which are destined to witness its efflorescence and ultimate fruition.
The Formative Period, the Iron Age, of that Dispensation was now beginning, the Age in which the institutions, local, national and international, of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh were to take shape, develop and become fully consolidated, in anticipation of the third, the last, the Golden Age destined to witness the emergence of a world-embracing Order enshrining the ultimate fruit of God's latest Revelation to mankind, a fruit whose maturity must signalize the establishment of a world civilization and the formal inauguration of the Kingdom of the Father upon earth as promised by Jesus Christ Himself....Page 290
The last twenty-three years of the first Bahá'í century may thus be regarded as the initial stage of the Formative Period of the Faith, an Age of Transition to be identified with the rise and establishment of the Administrative Order, upon which the institutions of the future Bahá'í World Commonwealth must needs be ultimately erected in the Golden Age that must witness the consummation of the Bahá'í Dispensation. The Charter which called into being, outlined the features and set in motion the processes of, this Administrative Order is none other than the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, His greatest legacy to posterity, the brightest emanation of His mind and the mightiest instrument forged to insure the continuity of the three ages which constitute the component parts of His Father's Dispensation....
The Administrative Order which this historic Document has established, it should be noted, is, by virtue of its origin and character, unique in the annals of the world's religious systems....
The Document establishing that Order, the Charter of a future world civilization, which may be regarded in some of its features as supplementary to no less weighty a Book than the Kitáb-i-Aqdas;...
("God Passes By", rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1987), pp. 324-28)
1897. The first seventy-seven years of the preceding century, constituting the Apostolic and Heroic Age of our Faith, fell into three distinct epochs, of nine, of thirty-nine and of twenty-nine years' duration, associated respectively with the Bábi Dispensation and the ministries of Bahá'u'lláh and of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. This Primitive Age of the Bahá'í Era, unapproached in spiritual fecundity by any period associated with the mission of the Founder of any previous Dispensation, was impregnated, from its inception to its termination, with the creative energies generated through the advent of two independent Manifestations and the establishment of a Covenant unique in the spiritual annals of mankind.
The last twenty-three years of that same century coincided with the first epoch of the second, the Iron and Formative, Age of the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh -- the first of a series of epochs which must precede the inception of the last and Golden Age of that Dispensation -- a Dispensation which, as the Author of the Faith has Himself categorically asserted, must extend over a period of no less than one thousand years,Page 291
and which will constitute the first stage in a series of Dispensations, to be established by future Manifestations, all deriving their inspiration from the Author of the Bahá'í Revelation, and destined to last, in their aggregate, no less than five thousand centuries....
During this Formative Age of the Faith, and in the course of present and succeeding epochs, the last and crowning stage in the erection of the framework of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh -- the election of the Universal House of Justice -- will have been completed, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the Mother-Book of His Revelation, will have been codified and its laws promulgated, the Lesser Peace will have been established, the unity of mankind will have been achieved and its maturity attained, the Plan conceived by 'Abdu'l-Bahá will have been executed, the emancipation of the Faith from the fetters of religious orthodoxy will have been effected, and its independent religious status will have been universally recognized, whilst in the course of the Golden Age, destined to consummate the Dispensation itself, the banner of the Most Great Peace, promised by its Author, will have been unfurled, the World Bahá'í Commonwealth will have emerged in the plenitude of its power and splendor, and the birth and efflorescence of a world civilization, the child of that Peace, will have conferred its inestimable blessings upon all mankind.
("The Challenging Requirements of the Present Hour, 5 June 1947, "Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 4-6)Revised August 1990
GUIDELINES FOR TEACHING FROM THE WRITINGS OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH:
1898. O Friends! You must all be so ablaze in this day with the fire of the love of God that the heat thereof may be manifest in all your veins, your limbs and members of your body, and the peoples of the world may be ignited by this heat and turn to the horizon of the Beloved.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
1899. Teach thou the Cause of God with an utterance which will cause the bushes to be enkindled, and the call 'Verily, there is no God but Me, the Almighty, the Unconstrained' to be raised therefrom. Say: Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. As to its influence, this is conditional upon refinement which in turn is dependent upon hearts which are detached and pure. As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets....
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", 1st pocket-sized ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1988), p. 143)
1900. Moderation is indeed highly desirable. Every person who in some degree turneth towards the truth can himself later comprehend most of what he seeketh. However, if at the outset a word is uttered beyond his capacity, he will refuse to hear it and will arise in opposition.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
1901. ... Piety and detachment are even as two most great luminaries of the heaven of teaching. Blessed the one who hath attained unto this supreme station...
("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", p. 253)
1902. Should any one among you be incapable of grasping a certain truth, or be striving to comprehend it, show forth, when conversing with him, a spirit of extreme kindliness and good-will. Help him to see andPage 294
recognize the truth, without esteeming yourself to be, in the least, superior to him, or to be possessed of greater endowments.
The whole duty of man in this Day is to attain that share of the flood of grace which God poureth forth for him. Let none, therefore, consider the largeness or smallness of the receptacle. The portion of some might lie in the palm of a man's hand, the portion of others might fill a cup, and of others even a gallon-measure.
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), p. 8)
1903. Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others are deprived, share it with them in a language of utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted, if it fulfil its purpose, your object is attained. If any one should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly with him. 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....
("Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh", p. 289)
1904. If he be kindled with the fire of His love, if he forgoeth all created things, the words he uttereth shall set on fire them that hear him.
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1984), p. 51)
1905. Say: O people of God! That which can insure the victory of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, His hosts and helpers on earth, have been set down in the sacred Books and Scriptures, and are as clear and manifest as the sun. These hosts are such righteous deeds, such conduct and character, as are acceptable in His sight. Whoso ariseth, in this Day, to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the hosts of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence from such an action will, most certainly, be diffused throughout the whole world.
(Cited in Shoghi Effendi, "The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 24)Page 295
1906. Now is the time for you to divest yourselves of the garment of attachment to this world that perisheth, to be wholly severed from the physical world, become heavenly angels, and travel to these countries....
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), p. 34)
1907. With hearts overflowing with the love of God, with tongues commemorating the mention of God, with eyes turned to the Kingdom of God, they must deliver the Glad Tidings of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts to all the people. Know ye of a certainty that whatever gathering ye enter, the waves of the Holy Spirit are surging over it, and the heavenly grace of the Blessed Beauty encompasseth that gathering.
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is", pp. 38-39)
1908. The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others. Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others!
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is", p. 51)
1909. ...rest ye assured in the confirmations of the Merciful and the assistances of the Most High; become ye sanctified above and purified from this world and the inhabitants thereof; suffer your intention to become for the good of all; cut your attachment to the earth and like unto the essence of the spirit become ye light and delicate. Then with a firm resolution, a pure heart, a rejoiced spirit, and an eloquent tongue, engage your time in the promulgation of the divine principles...
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is", p. 67)Page 296
1910. ...the believers of God must become self-sacrificing and like unto the candles of guidance become ignited... Should they show forth such a magnanimity, it is assured that they will obtain universal divine confirmations, the heavenly cohorts will reinforce them uninterruptedly, and a most great victory will be obtained....
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is", p. 27)
1911. 0 ye believers of God! Be not concerned with the smallness of your numbers, neither be oppressed by the multitude of an unbelieving world. Five grains of wheat will be endued with heavenly blessing, whereas a thousand tons of tares will yield no results or effect. One fruitful tree will be conducive to the life of society, whereas a thousand forests of wild trees offer no fruits. The plain is covered with pebbles, but precious stones are rare. One pearl is better than a thousand wildernesses of sand, especially this pearl of great price, which is endowed with divine blessing. Ere long thousands of other pearls will be born from it. When that pearl associates and becomes the intimate of the pebbles, they also all change into pearls.
...rest ye not, seek ye no composure, attach not yourselves to the luxuries of this ephemeral world, free yourselves from every attachment, and strive with heart and soul to become fully established in the Kingdom of God. Gain ye the heavenly treasures. Day by day become ye more illumined. Draw ye nearer and nearer unto the threshold of oneness. Become ye the manifestors of spiritual favours and the dawning-places of infinite lights!...
As regards the teachers, they must completely divest themselves from the old garments and be invested with a new garment. According to the statement of Christ, they must attain to the station of rebirth -- that is, whereas in the first instance they were born from the womb of the mother, this time they must be born from the womb of the world of nature. Just as they are now totally unaware of the experiences of the fetal world, they must also forget entirely the defects of the world of nature. They must be baptized with the water of life, the fire of the love of God and the breaths of the Holy Spirit; be satisfied with little food, but take a large portion from the heavenly table. They must disengage themselves from temptation and covetousness, and be filled with the spirit. Through the effect of their pure breath, they must change the stone into the brilliantPage 297
ruby and the shell into pearl. Like unto the cloud of vernal shower, they must transform the black soil into the rose-garden and orchard. They must make the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the extinguished one enkindled and set aglow, and the dead quickened.
("Tablets of the Divine Plan Revealed by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to the North American Baha'is" pp. 86-88)
1912. O thou maid-servant of God! Whenever thou art intending to deliver a speech, turn thy face toward the Kingdom of ABHA and, with a heart detached, begin to talk. The breaths of the Holy Spirit will assist thee.
("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, vol. 2 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930 printing), p. 246)
1913. By the Lord of the Kingdom! If one arise to promote the Word of God with a pure heart, overflowing with the love of God and severed from the world, the Lord of Hosts will assist him with such a power as will penetrate the core of the existent beings.("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 2, p. 348)
1914. Under all conditions the Message must be delivered, but with wisdom. If it be not possible openly, it must be done quietly. The friends should be engaged in educating the souls and should become instruments in aiding the world of humanity to acquire spiritual joy and fragrance. For example: If every one of the friends (believers) were to establish relations of friendship and right dealings with one of the negligent souls, associate and live with him with perfect kindliness, and meanwhile through good conduct and moral behaviour lead him to divine instruction, to heavenly advice and teachings, surely he would gradually arouse that negligent person and would change his ignorance into knowledge.
Souls are liable to estrangement. Such methods should be adopted that the estrangement should be first removed, then the Word will have effect. If one of the believers be kind to one of the negligent ones and with perfect love should gradually make him understand the reality of the Cause of God in such a way that the latter should know in what manner the Religion of God hath been founded and what its object is, doubtlessPage 298
he will become changed; excepting abnormal souls who are reduced to the state of ashes and whose hearts are like stones, yea, even harder.("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas", vol. 2, p. 391)
1915. If thou wishest to guide the souls, it is incumbent on thee to be firm, to be good and to be imbued with praiseworthy attributes and divine qualities under all circumstances. Be a sign of love, a manifestation of mercy, a fountain of tenderness, kind-hearted, good to all and gentle to the servants of God, and especially to those who bear relation to thee, both men and women. Bear every ordeal that befalleth thee from the people and confront them not save with kindness, with great love and good wishes.
("Tablets of Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas, vol. 3 (Chicago: Bahá'í Publishing Committee, 1930 printing), pp. 619-20)
1916. The teacher, when teaching, must be himself fully enkindled, so that his utterance, like unto a flame of fire, may exert influence and consume the veil of self and passion. He must also be utterly humble and lowly so that others may be edified, and be totally self-effaced and evanescent so that he may teach with the melody of the Concourse on high -- otherwise his teaching will have no effect.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, [rev. ed.] (Haifa: Bahá'í World Centre, 1982), Sec. 217, p. 270)
1917. When the friends do not endeavour to spread the message, they fail to remember God befittingly, and will not witness the tokens of assistance and confirmation from the Abha Kingdom nor comprehend the divine mysteries. However, when the tongue of the teacher is engaged in teaching, he will naturally himself be stimulated, will become a magnet attracting the divine aid and bounty of the Kingdom, and will be like unto the bird at the hour of dawn, which itself becometh exhilarated by its own singing, its warbling and its melody.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 211, pp. 267-68)
1918. In accordance with the divine teachings in this glorious dispensation we should not belittle anyone and call him ignorant, saying: "You know not, but I know". Rather, we should look upon others with respect, andPage 299
when attempting to explain and demonstrate, we should speak as if we are investigating the truth, saying: "Here these things are before us. Let us investigate to determine where and in what form the truth can be found." The teacher should not consider himself as learned and others ignorant. Such a thought breedeth pride, and pride is not conducive to influence. The teacher should not see in himself any superiority; he should speak with the utmost kindliness, lowliness and humility, for such speech exerteth influence and educateth the souls.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Sec 15, p. 30)
1919. It is at such times that the friends of God avail themselves of the occasion, seize the opportunity, rush forth and win the prize. If their task is to be confined to good conduct and advice, nothing will be accomplished. They must speak out, expound the proofs, set forth clear arguments, draw irrefutable conclusions establishing the truth of the manifestation of the Sun of Reality.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 212, p. 268)
1920. When a speaker's brow shineth with the radiance of the love of God, at the time of his exposition of a subject, and he is exhilarated with the wine of true understanding, he becometh the centre of a potent force which like unto a magnet will attract the hearts. This is why the expounder must be in the utmost enkindlement.(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1921. Speak, therefore; speak out with great courage at every meeting. When you are about to begin your address, turn first to Bahá'u'lláh and ask for the confirmations of the Holy Spirit, then open your lips and say whatever is suggested to your heart; this, however, with the utmost courage, dignity and conviction....
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 216 p. 269)
1922. As to his question about the permissibility of promulgating the divine teachings without relating them to the Most Great Name, you should answer: "This blessed Name hath an effect on the reality of things. If these teachings are spread without identifying them with this holy Name, they will fail to exert an abiding influence in the world. The teachings are likePage 300
the body, and this holy Name is like the spirit. It imparteth life to the body. It causeth the people of the world to be aroused from their slumber."(From a Tablet - translated from the Persian)
1923. The teaching work should under all conditions be actively pursued by the believers because divine confirmations are dependent upon it. Should a Bahá'í refrain from being fully, vigorously and wholeheartedly involved in the teaching work he will undoubtedly be deprived of the blessings of the Abha Kingdom. Even so, this activity should be tempered with wisdom - not that wisdom which requireth one to be silent and forgetful of such an obligation, but rather that which requireth one to display divine tolerance, love, kindness, patience, a goodly character, and holy deeds. In brief, encourage the friends individually to teach the Cause of God and draw their attention to this meaning of wisdom mentioned in the Writings, which is itself the essence of teaching the Faith -- but all this to be done with the greatest tolerance, so that heavenly assistance and divine confirmation may aid the friends.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 213, p. 268)
1924. The friends of God should weave bonds of fellowship with others and show absolute love and affection towards them. These links have a deep influence on people and they will listen. When the friends sense receptivity to the Word of God, they should deliver the Message with wisdom. They must first try and remove any apprehensions in the people they teach. In fact, every one of the believers should choose one person every year and try to establish ties of friendship with him, so that all his fear would disappear. Only then, and gradually, must he teach that person. This is the best method.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
1925. Follow thou the way of thy Lord, and say not that which the ears cannot bear to hear, for such speech is like luscious food given to small children. However palatable, rare and rich the food may be, it cannot be assimilated by the digestive organs of a suckling child. Therefore unto every one who hath a right, let his settled measure be given.
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every timelyPage 301
utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who hear it." Such is the consummate wisdom to be observed in thy pursuits. Be not oblivious thereof, if thou wishest to be a man of action under all conditions. First diagnose the disease and identify the malady, then prescribe the remedy, for such is the perfect method of the skilful physician.
("Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 214, pp. 268-69)
1926. Do not argue with anyone, and be wary of disputation. Speak out the truth. If your hearer accepteth, the aim is achieved. If he is obdurate, you should leave him to himself, and place your trust in God. Such is the quality of those who are firm in the Covenant.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
1927. In this day every believer must concentrate his thoughts on teaching the Faith... O loved ones of God! Each one of the friends must teach at least one soul each year. This is everlasting glory. This is eternal grace.(From a Tablet- translated from the Persian)
From the Writings of Shoghi Effendi and Letters Written on His Behalf:
1928. First and foremost, one should use every possible means to purge one's heart and motives, otherwise, engaging in any form of enterprise would be futile. It is also essential to abstain from hypocrisy and blind imitation, inasmuch as their foul odour is soon detected by every man of understanding and wisdom. Moreover, the friends must observe the specific times for the remembrance of God, meditation, devotion and prayer, as it is highly unlikely, nay impossible, for any enterprise to prosper and develop when deprived of divine bestowals and confirmation. One can hardly imagine what a great influence genuine love, truthfulness and purity of motives exert on the souls of men. But these traits cannot be acquired by any believer unless he makes a daily effort to gain them....
It is primarily through the potency of noble deeds and character, rather than by the power of exposition and proofs, that the friends of God should demonstrate to the world that what has been promised by God isPage 302
bound to happen, that it is already taking place and that the divine glad-tidings are clear, evident and complete....
(From a letter dated 19 December 1923 written by Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the East- translated from the Persian)
1929. Having . .. obtained a clear understanding of the true character of our mission, the methods to adopt, the course to pursue, and having attained sufficiently the individual regeneration -- the essential requisite of teaching -- let us arise to teach His Cause with righteousness, conviction, understanding and vigor. Let this be the paramount and most urgent duty of every Baha'i. Let us make it the dominating passion of our life. Let us scatter to the uttermost corners of the earth; sacrifice our personal interests, comforts, tastes and pleasures; mingle with the divers kindreds and peoples of the world; familiarize ourselves with their manners, traditions, thoughts and customs; arouse, stimulate and maintain universal interest in the Movement, and at the same time endeavor by all the means in our power, by concentrated and persistent attention, to enlist the unreserved allegiance and the active support of the more hopeful and receptive among our hearers. Let us too bear in mind the example which our beloved Master has clearly set before us. Wise and tactful in His approach, wakeful and attentive in His early intercourse, broad and liberal in all His public utterances, cautious and gradual in the unfolding of the essential verities of the Cause, passionate in His appeal yet sober in argument, confident in tone, unswerving in conviction, dignified in His manners -- such were the distinguishing features of our Beloved's noble presentation of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh.
("Bahá'í Administration: Selected Messages 1922-1932" [rev. ed.], (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 69-70)
1930. Having on his own initiative, and undaunted by any hinderances with which either friend or foe may, unwittingly or deliberately, obstruct his path, resolved to arise and respond to the call of teaching, let him carefully consider every avenue of approach which he might utilize in his personal attempts to capture the attention, maintain the interest, and deepen the faith, of those whom he seeks to bring into the fold of his Faith. Let him survey the possibilities which the particular circumstancesPage 303
in which he lives offer him, evaluate their advantages, and proceed intelligently and systematically to utilize them for the achievement of the object he has in mind. Let him also attempt to devise such methods as association with clubs, exhibitions, and societies, lectures on subjects akin to the teachings and ideals of his Cause such as temperance, morality, social welfare, religious and racial tolerance, economic cooperation, Islam, and Comparative Religion, or participation in social, cultural, humanitarian, charitable, and educational organizations and enterprises which, while safeguarding the integrity of his Faith, will open up to him a multitude of ways and means whereby he can enlist successively the sympathy, the support, and ultimately the allegiance of those with whom he comes in contact. Let him, while such contacts are being made, bear in mind the claims which his Faith is constantly making upon him to preserve its dignity, and station, to safeguard the integrity of its laws and principles, to demonstrate its comprehensiveness and universality, and to defend fearlessly its manifold and vital interests. Let him consider the degree of his hearer's receptivity, and decide for himself the suitability of either the direct or indirect method of teaching, whereby he can impress upon the seeker the vital importance of the Divine Message, and persuade him to throw in his lot with those who have already embraced it. Let him remember the example set by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and His constant admonition to shower such kindness upon the seeker, and exemplify to such a degree the spirit of the teachings he hopes to instill into him, that the recipient will be spontaneously impelled to identify himself with the Cause embodying such teachings. Let him refrain, at the outset, from insisting on such laws and observances as might impose too severe a strain on the seeker's newly awakened faith, and endeavour to nurse him, patiently, tactfully, and yet determinedly, into full maturity, and aid him to proclaim his unqualified acceptance of whatever has been ordained by Bahá'u'lláh. Let him, as soon as that stage has been attained, introduce him to the body of his fellow-believers, and seek, through constant fellowship and active participation in the local activities of his community, to enable him to contribute his share to the enrichment of its life, the furtherance of its tasks, the consolidations of its interests, and the coordination of its activities with those if its sister communities. Let him not be content until he has infused into his spiritual child so deep a longing as to impel him to arise independently, in his turn, and devote his energies to thePage 304
quickening of other souls, and the upholding of the laws and principles laid down by his newly adopted Faith.("The Advent of Divine Justice", pp. 51-52)
1931. Every laborer in those fields, whether as traveling teacher or settler, should, I feel, make it his chief and constant concern to mix, in a friendly manner, with all sections of the population, irrespective of class, creed, nationality, or color, to familiarize himself with their ideas, tastes, and habits, to study the approach best suited to them, to concentrate, patiently and tactfully, on a few who have shown marked capacity and receptivity, and to endeavor, with extreme kindness, to implant such love, zeal, and devotion in their hearts as to enable them to become in turn self-sufficient and independent promoters of the Faith in their respective localities....("The Advent of Divine Justice", p. 65)
1932. Nor should any of the pioneers, at this early stage in the upbuilding of Bahá'í national communities, overlook the fundamental prerequisite for any successful teaching enterprise, which is to adapt the presentation of the fundamental principles of their Faith to the cultural and religious backgrounds, the idealogies, and the temperament of the divers races and nations whom they are called upon to enlighten and attract. The susceptibilities of these races and nations, from both the northern and southern climes, springing from either the Germanic or Latin stock, belonging to either the Catholic or Protestant communion, some democratic, others totalitarian in outlook, some socialistic, others capitalistic in their tendencies, differing widely in their customs and standards of living, should at all times be carefully considered, and under no circumstances neglected.
These pioneers, in their contact with the members of divers creeds, races and nations, covering a range which offers no parallel in either the north or south continents, must neither antagonize them nor compromise with their own essential principles. They must be neither provocative nor supine, neither fanatical nor excessively liberal, in their exposition of the fundamental and distinguishing features of their Faith. They must be either wary or bold, they must act swiftly or mark time, they must use the direct or indirect method, they must be challenging or conciliatory, in strict accordance with the spiritual receptivity of the soulPage 305
with whom they come in contact, whether he be a nobleman or a commoner, a northerner or a southerner, a layman or a priest, a capitalist or a socialist, a statesman or a prince, an artisan or a beggar. In their presentation of the Message of Bahá'u'lláh they must neither hesitate nor falter. They must be neither contemptuous of the poor nor timid before the great. In their exposition of its verities they must neither overstress nor whittle down the truth which they champion, whether their hearer belong to royalty, or be a prince of the church, or a politician, or a tradesman, or a man of the street. To all alike, high or low, rich or poor, they must proffer, with open hands, with a radiant heart, with an eloquent tongue, with infinite patience, with uncompromising loyalty, with great wisdom, with unshakable courage, the Cup of Salvation at so critical an hour, to the confused, the hungry, the distraught and fear-stricken multitudes, in the north, in the west, in the south and in the heart, of that sorely tried continent.
("Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957" (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pp. 25-26)
1933. The individual alone must assess its character, consult his conscience, prayerfully consider all its aspects, manfully struggle against the natural inertia that weighs him down in his effort to arise, shed, heroically and irrevocably, the trivial and superfluous attachments which hold him back, empty himself of every thought that may tend to obstruct his path, mix, in obedience to the counsels of the Author of His Faith, and in imitation of the One Who is its true Exemplar, with men and women, in all walks of life, seek to touch their hearts, through the distinction which characterizes his thoughts, his words and his acts, and win them over tactfully, lovingly, prayerfully and persistently, to the Faith he himself has espoused.
("Citadel of Faith: Messages to America 1947-1957", p. 148)
1934. ...revisit all the centres where you have already sown the seed, in order to water the seedlings that have taken root and to sow fresh good seed in the prepared ground.
(From a letter dated 9 April 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)Page 306
1935. Entire and selfless devotion is what is most needful. The brighter our torch burns, the more light will it give and the more readily will it impart its blaze to others....
(From a letter dated 3 May 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1936. Shoghi Effendi feels that he can lay down no rule as to when one should introduce the names of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá in one's teaching. Much depends on the temperament and aptitude both of the teacher and the one taught.......
We must look to the example of the Master and follow our "Inner Light", adapting our message as best we can to the capacity and "ripeness" of the one we are seeking to teach.... Man 's spiritual digestive powers have similar laws to those that govern physical digestion. When people are spiritually hungry and thirsty they must be given wholesome and suitable spiritual food, but if we give too much at a time or too rich food for the digestive powers, it only causes nausea and rejection or malassimilation.
(From a letter dated 20 October 1925 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)
1937. Although teaching the Cause is the duty of every real Bahá'í and must be our main aim in life, to obtain the best results extensive and organized efforts at teaching must be by the approval and through the help and supervision of either the Local or the National Spiritual Assemblies. Shoghi Effendi hopes that you will translate your earnestness and enthusiasm into real service in close co-operation with the friends and the Assemblies.
(From a letter dated 31 May 1926 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1938. In spreading the Cause we should be mindful not to lower its prestige and also try and get the people whom we approach really attracted. Shoghi Effendi has often in his letters mentioned the importance of follow-up work. Seeds sown but not watered and reared will not mature into fruition.Page 307
(From a letter dated 13 August 1928 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1939. Perhaps the reason why you have not accomplished so much in the field of teaching is the extent you looked upon your own weaknesses and inabilities to spread the message. Bahá'u'lláh and the Master have both urged us repeatedly to disregard our own handicaps and lay our whole reliance upon God. He will come to our help if we only arise and become an active channel for God's grace. Do you think it is the teachers who make converts and change human hearts? No, surely not. They are only pure souls who take the first step, and then let the spirit of Bahá'u'lláh move them and make use of them. If any one of them should even for a second consider his achievements as due to his own capacities, his work is ended and his fall starts. This is in fact the reason why so many competent souls have after wonderful services suddenly found themselves absolutely impotent and perhaps thrown aside by the Spirit of the Cause as useless souls. The criterion is the extent to which we are ready to have the will of God operate through us.
Stop being conscious of your frailties, therefore; have a perfect reliance upon God; let your heart burn with the desire to serve His mission and proclaim His call; and you will observe how eloquence and the power to change human hearts will come as a matter of course.
Shoghi Effendi will surely pray for your success if you should arise and start to teach. In fact the mere act of arising will win for you God's help and blessings.
(From a letter dated 31 March 1932 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1940. It is on young and active Baha'is, like you, that the Guardian centres all his hopes for the future progress and expansion of the Cause, and it is on their shoulders that he lays all the responsibility for the upkeep of the spirit of selfless service among their fellow-believers. Without that spirit no work can be successfully achieved. With it triumph, though hardly won, is but inevitable. You should, therefore, try all your best to carry aflame within you the torch of faith, for through it you will surely find guidance, strength and eventual success.Page 308
...every one of them is able, in his own measure, to deliver the Message ... Everyone is a potential teacher. He has only to use what God has given him and thus prove that he is faithful to his trust.
(From a letter dated 1 September 1933 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1941. In teaching the Cause, much depends on the personality of the teacher and on the method he chooses for presenting the message. Different personalities and different classes and types of individuals need different methods of approach. And it is the sign of an able teacher to know how to best adapt his methods to various types of people whom he happens to meet. There is no one method one can follow all through. But there should be as many ways of approach as there are types of individual seekers. Flexibility and variety of method is, therefore, an essential prerequisite for the success of every teaching activity.
(From a letter dated 31 May 1934 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1942. There are innumerable ways of teaching the Cause. You can choose the one that suits best your nature and capacity.
(From a letter dated 13 November 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1943. A true and adequate knowledge of the Cause is, indeed, indispensable to every one who wishes to successfully teach the Message. The book of "Gleanings" gives the friends a splendid opportunity to acquire this necessary knowledge and understanding. It gives them, in addition, that inspiration and spiritual fervour which the reading of the Holy Words can alone impart.
(From a letter dated 2 December 1935 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1944. What the Guardian feels it of vital importance for the friends to do is to teach the Cause directly and by means of imparting the Holy Words....
(From a letter dated 6 May 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 309
1945. It is in intellectual circles such as this that the believers should endeavour to teach, confident that no matter how limited their capacity may be, yet their efforts are continually guided and reinforced from on High. This spirit of confident hope, of cheerful courage, and of undaunted enthusiasm in itself, irrespective of any tangible results which it may procure, can alone ensure the ultimate success of our teaching efforts.
(From a letter dated 31 October 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1946. ...the upper classes ... need the right type of people to approach them, and a method that can suit their mentality. Our teaching methods should allow a certain degree of elasticity in establishing contacts with various types of individual seekers. Every inquirer has to be approached from his own angle. Those who are essentially of the mystic type should first be given those teachings of the Cause which emphasize the nature and value of spiritual realities; while those who are practically minded and of a positive type are naturally more ready and inclined to accept the social aspect of the Teachings. But of course, gradually the entire Message, in all its aspects and with the full implications it entails, should be explained to the newcomer. For to be a believer means to accept the Cause in its wholeness, and not to adhere to some of its teachings. However, as already stated, this ought to be done gradually and tactfully. For conversion is after all a slow process.
(From a letter dated 28 December 1936 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1947. Do not feel discourag[ed] if your labours do not always yield an abundant fruitage. For a quick and rapidly-won success is not always the best and the most lasting. The harder you strive to attain your goal, the greater will be the confirmations of Bahá'u'lláh, and the more certain you can feel to attain success. Be cheerful, therefore, and exert yourself with full faith and confidence. For Bahá'u'lláh has promised His Divine assistance to everyone who arises with a pure and detached heart to spread His holy Word, even though he may be bereft of every human knowledge and capacity, and notwithstanding the forces of darkness and of opposition which may be arrayed against him. The goal is clear, the pathPage 310
safe and certain, and the assurances of Bahá'u'lláh as to the eventual success of our efforts quite emphatic. Let us keep firm, and whole-heartedly carry on the great work which He has entrusted into our hands.
(From a letter dated 3 February 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1948. The Bahá'í teacher must be all confidence. Therein lies his strength and the secret of his success. Though single-handed, and no matter how great the apathy of the people around you may be, you should have faith that the hosts of the Kingdom are on your side, and that through their help you are bound to overcome the forces of darkness that are facing the Cause of God. Persevere, be happy and confident, therefore.
(From a letter dated 30 June 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1949. ...refrain, under any circumstances, from involving yourselves, much less the Cause, in lengthy discussions of a controversial character, as these besides being fruitless actually cause incalculable harm to the Faith. Bahá'u'lláh has repeatedly urged us not to engage in religious controversies, as the adepts of former religions have done. The Bahá'í teacher should be concerned above all in presenting the Message, in explaining and clarifying all its aspects, rather than in attacking other religions. He should avoid all situations that, he feels, would lead to strife, to hair-splitting and interminable discussions.
(From a letter dated 29 November 1937 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1950. The believers ought to give the Message even to those who do not seem to be ready for it, because they can never judge the real extent to which the Word of God can influence the hearts and minds of the people, even those who appear to lack any power of receptivity to the Teachings.
(From a letter dated 14 January 1938 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1951. The love we bear mankind, our conviction that Bahá'u'lláh's Faith contains the only and the Divine remedy for all its ills, must bePage 311
demonstrated today in action by bringing the Cause before the public. No doubt the majority are not yet able to see its true significance, but they must not be deprived, through our failure in obligation, of the opportunity of hearing of it. And there are many precious souls who are seeking for it and ready to embrace it.
(From a letter dated 19 March 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1952. If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.
Today the need is so great on the part of humanity to hear of the Divine Message, that the believers must plunge into the work, wherever and however they can, heedless of their own shortcomings, but ever heedful of the crying need of their fellow-men to hear of the teachings in their darkest hour of travail.
(From a letter dated 4 May 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1953. The Cause of God has room for all. It would, indeed, not be the Cause of God if it did not take in and welcome everyone -- poor and rich, educated and ignorant, the unknown, and the prominent -- God surely wants them all, as He created them all.
(From a letter dated 10 December 1942 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)
1954. ...no system, for teachers to practise, exists. But obviously the more people know about the teachings and the Cause, the better they will be able to present the subject. If some people find that prayer and placing all their trust in God, releases in them a flood of inspiration, they should be left free to pursue this method if it is productive of results.
(From a letter dated 25 January 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)Page 312
1955. Through example, loving fellowship, prayer, and kindness the friends can attract the hearts of such people and enable them to realize that this is the Cause of God in deed, not merely words!...
(From a letter dated 24 February 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1956. Unless and until the believers really come to realize they are one spiritual family, knit together by a bond more lasting than mere physical ties can ever be, they will not be able to create that warm community atmosphere which alone can attract the hearts of humanity, frozen for lack of real love and feeling.
(From a letter dated 5 May 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1957. Not all of us are capable of serving in the same way, but the one way every Bahá'í can spread the Faith is by example. This moves the hearts of people far more deeply than words ever can.
The love we show others, the hospitality and understanding, the willingness to help them, these are the very best advertisements of the Faith....
(From a letter dated 14 October 1943 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1958. By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike.
A spirit of prejudice-free, loving comradeship with others is what will open the eyes of people more than any amount of words. Combined with such deeds you can teach the Faith easily.
(From a letter dated 18 June 1945 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Dayton, Oh)
1959. ...a sound knowledge of history, including religious history, and also of social and economic subjects, is of great help in teaching the Cause to intelligent people...Page 313
(From a letter dated 4 May 1946 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1960. He feels you should, in teaching, certainly not start with such a difficult point as abstinence from wine; but when the person wishes to join the Faith he must be told....
(From a letter dated 7 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to two believers)
1961. All the Baha'is, new and old alike, should devote themselves as much as possible to teaching the Faith; they should also realize that the atmosphere of true love and unity which they manifest within the Bahá'í Community will directly affect the public, and be the greatest magnet for attracting people to the Faith and confirming them.
(From a letter dated 4 April 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Stuttgart, Germany)
1962. In teaching people, when they begin to seriously study the Faith there is no objection to impressing upon them that this message involves great spiritual responsibility, and should not be either accepted or cast aside lightly. But we must be very gentle, tactful and patient, and not administer shocks to people.
We must always teach constructively, and be very sure that none of us, through disagreement among ourselves or indiscretion, cool off the souls of the seekers.
(From a letter dated 14 October 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1963. There is no objection to leaving Bahá'í Literature in a public place as long as it is not overdone and does not savour of proselytizing.
(From a letter dated 22 December 1947 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1964. ...it is spirit, determination, faith and devotion which bring victories into being, one after another, in Britain, and not luxury and leisure....
(From a letter dated 29 April 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)Page 314
1965. We should never insist on teaching those who are not really ready for the Cause. If a man is not hungry you cannot make him eat. Among the Theosophists there are, no doubt, many receptive souls, but those who are satisfied should be just associated with in a friendly way, but let alone. Once a seeker comes to accept the concept of progressive religion, and accepts Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation for this day, the reincarnation concept will fade away in the light of truth; we should try and avoid controversial issues in the beginning, if possible.
(From a letter dated 23 June 1948 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1966. It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Bahá'í scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world has -- at least the thinking world -- caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Bahá'u'lláh over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound "new" to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!
(From a letter dated 3 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1967. ...we, the few who have caught the vision, should not waste our energies beating up and down the paths pursued by humanity, and which are not solving its ghastly present-day problems. We should concentrate on the Cause, because it is what is needed to cure the world....
If the Bahá'ís want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to be much better informed and able to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems.... We Bahá'ís should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith....
(From a letter dated 5 July 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 315
1968. Teaching individually is of great importance, and often enables you to confirm people, whereas public speaking, while it carries the Message to more people, does not confirm very many. You can do both.
(From a letter dated 5 August 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1969. ...when we put our trust in Him, Bahá'u'lláh solves our problems and opens the way.
(From a letter dated 12 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1970. To find these receptive souls and teach them, with tact and understanding, is the duty and privilege of every single Baha'i.
(From a letter dated 20 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1971. Without the spirit of real love for Bahá'u'lláh, for His Faith and its Institutions, and the believers for each other, the Cause can never really bring in large numbers of people. For it is not preaching and rules the world wants, but love and action.
(From a letter dated 25 October 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1972. Just one mature soul, with spiritual understanding and a profound knowledge of the Faith, can set a whole country ablaze -- so great is the power of the Cause to work through a pure and selfless channel.
(From a letter dated 6 November 1949 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1973. As we have such wonderful prayers and meditations in our writings, the reading of these with friends who are interested in and crave for this type of small meeting is often a step towards attracting them to the Faith. Perhaps you could start such an activity in your city.
(From a letter dated 4 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 316
1974. The believers are entirely free to hold as many little teaching groups or Firesides as they please in their own homes... In fact this personal, informal, home teaching is perhaps the most productive of results.
(From a letter dated 24 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1975. ...make a special point of praying ardently not only for success in general, but that God may send to you the souls that are ready. There are such souls in every city...
(From a letter dated 18 March 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Punta Arenas)
1976. The people of the world are submerged in an atmosphere which is the very antithesis, morally, of the Bahá'í atmosphere; we must teach them. If we are too strict in the beginning most -- not all -- types will be rebuffed and veer away from what they might otherwise be led to accept. On the other hand, we don't want Bahá'ís who do not seriously try to live up to the teachings -- we must therefore use great tact and challenge strong souls and lead weak souls.
(From a letter dated 7 August 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1977. At all times we must look at the greatness of the Cause, and remember that Bahá'u'lláh will assist all who arise in His service. When we look at ourselves, we are sure to feel discouraged by our shortcomings and insignificance!
(From a letter dated 12 December 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1978. The excellent work you are doing in the teaching field, he appreciates very deeply and wishes you to persevere and go on teaching people of importance. Even if they are not always good prospects as far as being converted to the Faith goes, it is very necessary that they should hear of it and be made friendly towards it.
(From a letter dated 10 February 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 317
1979. Although it is good not to provoke conventional people too much, on the other hand, we must not allow them to come between us and obeying Bahá'u'lláh; and we know that He has instructed His servants to spread His Message....
(From a letter dated 1 May 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1980. ...whilst actively teaching, the friends must themselves be taught and deepened in the spirit of the Faith, which brings love and unity.
(From a letter dated 17 July 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1981. These people, finding the Bahá'ís sincerely lacking in either prejudice -- or that even worse attitude, condescension -- might not only take interest in our Teachings, but also help us to reach their people in the proper way.
It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us, with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested, as we are, in a living religion and not in the dead forms of present-day churches.
(From a letter dated 21 September 1951 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Comite Nacional de ensenanza Bahá'í para los indigenas)
1982. Teaching is of course the head corner-stone of all Bahá'í service, but successful teaching is dependent upon many factors, one of which is the development of a true Bahá'í way of living and the fulfilment of responsibilities which we have incurred.
(From a letter dated 3 June 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1983. It should not be overlooked, however, that the most powerful and effective teaching medium that has been found so far is the fireside meeting, because in the fireside meeting, intimate personal questions canPage 318
be answered, and the student find the spirit of the Faith more abundant there.
(From a letter dated 11 December 1952 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Local Spiritual Assembly and an individual believer)
Today, as never before, the magnet which attracts the blessings from on high is teaching the Faith of God. The Hosts of Heaven are poised between heaven and earth, just waiting, and patiently, for the Bahá'í to step forth, with pure devotion and consecration, to teach the Cause of God, so they may rush to his aid and assistance. It is the Guardian's prayer that the Friends may treble their efforts, as the time is short -- alas, the workers too few. Let those who wish to achieve immortality step forth and raise the Divine Call. They will be astonished at the spiritual victories they will gain.
(From a letter dated 28 March 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1984. What is needed to achieve success in the teaching field is a complete dedication on the part of the individual, consecration to the glorious task of spreading the Faith, and the living of the Bahá'í life, because that creates the magnet for the Holy Spirit, and it is the Holy Spirit which quickens the new soul. Thus the individual should be as a reed, through which the Holy Spirit may flow, to give new life to the seeking soul.
One should search out those who are receptive to the Faith, and then concentrate on these persons in their teaching.
(From a letter dated 18 December 1953 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1985. The peoples generally are seeking the light of Divine Guidance. The problems of the world have awakened the populace. It only remains for the Bahá'ís to raise the Call and give the Message according to the high standards enunciated by the beloved Master. The world can become alive with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if the Bahá'ís fulfil their sacred obligation.
In pioneering fields, and on the home front, the friends must arise with the same spirit of dedication and consecration which animated the original pioneers. If they do, they will be astonished at the great results they will achieve.Page 319
Setting aside all the shibboleths of present-day living, leaving behind the false standards of those endeavouring to solve the world's problems by weak platitudes, and demonstrating the new Bahá'í way of dynamic spiritual living, let them, relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, arise to spread the Water of Life over America. This will produce the results which the cries of humanity today require. Where are the spiritual souls who will now seize their opportunity, and achieve immortal glory in the service of the Faith!
(From a letter dated 14 April 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1986. As you interest different ones in the Faith, you must be very cautious, and gradually lead them into the Light of Divine Guidance, especially the practices of Bahá'í living. Thus you should not be dogmatic about any of the secondary practices of the Faith....
(From a letter dated 5 June 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1987. The Guardian feels that the most effective way for the Bahá'ís to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbours and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Bahá'ís and the Bahá'ís in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the Cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type.
The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith....
(From a letter dated 27 December 1954 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1988. It is better to have one Bahá'í who understands the Teachings and is wholeheartedly convinced of their truth, than a number of Baha'is, who are not well aware of the Cause, and deep-rooted in the Covenant.
(From a letter dated 22 January 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 320
1989. Consecration, dedication and enthusiastic service is the Keynote to successful teaching. One must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit descends to reach the student of the Faith.
We give the Message, and explain the Teachings, but it is the Holy Spirit that quickens and confirms.
(From a letter dated 16 February 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1990. The Guardian thinks perhaps a different approach to the aborigines might attract them; one of being interested in their lives and their folklore, and of trying to become their friend, rather than trying to change them or improve them.
(From a letter dated 9 April 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1991. The Bahá'ís must realize that the success of this work depends upon the individual. The individual must arise as never before to proclaim the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The most effective way for them to carry on their work is for the individual to make many contacts, select a few who they feel would become Baha'is, develop a close friendship with them, then complete confidence, and finally teach them the Faith, until they become strong supporters of the Cause of God.
(Prom a letter dated 13 May 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to all National Spiritual Assemblies)
1992. The all-important thing of course is that every activity ... is for the purpose of teaching the Faith and confirming people. Therefore you and the other Bahá'ís should watch the situation very closely. You should study those who attend the meetings, and when you find one who you feel would become a strong and active Baha'i, then you should concentrate on teaching him. Thus, if you are able to confirm some souls, you will have rendered distinguished and outstanding service. Actually this is the goal of all such activities in all of the universities.
(From a letter dated 1 June 1955 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 321
1993. The Hosts of the Supreme Concourse are in martial array, poised between Earth and Heaven ready to rush to the assistance of those who arise to Teach the Faith. If one seeks the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, one can find it in rich abundance in the Teaching Field. The world is seeking as never before, and if the Friends will arise with new determination, fully consecrated to the noble task ahead of them, victory after victory will be won for the Glorious Faith of God.
(From a letter dated 2 February 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1994. The greatest glory and honor which can come to an individual is to bring the light of guidance to some new soul. The quickening power of the Holy Spirit, which has come into the world through Bahá'u'lláh, is the source of immortal life; and those who are quickened by this spirit in this world will find themselves in great honor and glory in the next world. The most meritorious service which anyone could render is to bring the light of divine guidance and the quickening power of the spirit to an entirely new area. Humanity is crying for salvation; and it is only by the Bahá'ís going into the various areas of the world, that it can be brought to them. This is the reason the Guardian has encouraged all of the friends to disperse to new territories, for this is the hour for the quickening of the world.
(From a letter dated 11 March 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'í Community of Tacoma, US)
1995. The need of the Hour is Teaching on the Home Front. Its goals can be won, by a new spirit of dedication and consecration on the part of the friends, each in his own country, in his own home.... Never must they let a day pass without teaching some soul, trusting to Bahá'u'lláh that the seed will grow. The friends should seek pure souls, gain their confidence, and then teach that person carefully until he becomes a Baha'i, and then nurture him until he becomes a firm and active supporter of the Faith.
Everyone must remember that it is the "Holy Spirit that quickens" and therefore the teacher must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit may reach the seeking soul.
The beloved Guardian has stressed over and over again, that to effectively teach the Faith, the individual must study deeply, the DivinePage 322
Word, imbibe Its life-giving waters, and feast upon Its glorious teachings. He should then meditate on the import of the Word, and finding its spiritual depths, pray for guidance and assistance. But most important, after prayer is action. After one has prayed and meditated, he must arise, relying fully on the guidance and confirmation of Bahá'u'lláh, to teach His Faith. Perseverance in action is essential, just as wisdom and audacity are necessary for effective teaching. The individual must sacrifice all things to this great goal, and then the victories will be won.
(From a letter dated 30 May 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Hands of the Cause in the United States)
1996. The spirit of the hour is teaching on the Home Fronts. Its goal can only be won by a new spirit of dedication and consecration on the part of the friends at home. Miraculous victories are being won, in the difficult virgin areas, because the pioneers have consecrated their lives to the Noble Mission they have embarked upon. The Friends at home must display this same consecration and dedication. Never must they let a day pass, without teaching some soul, hoping that Bahá'u'lláh will cause each seed to grow. The Friends should seek pure souls, gain their confidence and then teach that person carefully until he becomes a Bahá'í -- and then nurture him until he becomes a firm and active supporter of the Faith.
(From a letter dated 15 June 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Lafayette, In)
1997. He hopes you will be guided and confirmed in your work, so many souls may find eternal life, through your selfless services. It is important that you make contact with pure hearted individuals, gain their confidence, they gain confidence in you, and then gradually teach them. It is better to concentrate on a few, rather than attempt to teach too many at a time. Consecration, devotion, dedication, humility are essential, that the Holy Spirit may use you as a reed for the diffusion of Its creative rays.
(From a letter dated 15 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
1998. The Guardian feels that, if the friends would meditate a little more objectively upon both their relationship to the Cause and the vastPage 323
non-Bahá'í public they hope to influence, they would see things more clearly.... He fully realizes that the demands made upon the Bahá'ís are great, and that they often feel inadequate, tired and perhaps frightened in the face of the tasks that confront them. This is only natural. On the other hand, they must realize that the power of God can and will assist them; and that because they are privileged to have accepted the Manifestation of God for this Day, this very act has placed upon them a great moral responsibility toward their fellow-men. It is this moral responsibility to which the Guardian is constantly calling their attention...
(From a letter dated 19 July 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States)
1999. The friends must certainly explore new channels and have more audacity, if they are to get anywhere in adding to their numbers.
(From a letter dated 6 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
2000. The most effective method of teaching is the Fireside group, where new people can be shown Bahá'í hospitality, and ask all questions which bother them. They can feel there the true Bahá'í spirit -- and it is the spirit that quickeneth.
(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
2001. He feels that to distribute Bahá'í pamphlets from door to door ... is undignified and might create a bad impression of the Faith....
(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
2002. We must be careful not to teach in a fanatical way. We should teach as the Master taught. He was the perfect Exemplar of the Teachings. He proclaimed the universal truths, and, through love and wise demonstration of the universal verities of the Faith, attracted the hearts and the minds.
(From a letter dated 20 October 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)Page 324
2003. The Master assured us that when we forget ourselves, and strive with all our powers to serve and teach the Faith, we receive divine assistance. It is not we who do the work, but we are the instruments used at that time for the purpose of teaching His Cause.
(From a letter dated 8 November 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
2004. The Teaching of the Faith is dependent on the individual and his effort. When the individual arise with enthusiasm, with full dedication and consecration, and allows nothing to deter him; then results will be achieved....
(From a letter dated 17 December 1956 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís assembled at the Indiana State Convention)
2005. The Guardian hopes the Friends ... will display the loving spirit of the Master in their contacts, and then win those souls to the Faith. The fireside method of teaching seems to produce the greatest results, when each one invites friends into their homes once in nineteen days, and introduces them to the Faith. Close association and loving service affects the hearts; and when the heart is affected, then the spirit can enter. It is the Holy Spirit that quickens, and the Friends must become channels for its diffusion.
(From a letter dated 27 January 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
2006. The Guardian was very happy to receive the news of the sudden spurt in the number of Friends joining the Faith. It demonstrates that one must persevere until the very end, if success is to be achieved....
(From a letter dated 19 April 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)
2007. ...the world is being shaken to its foundations and the people are seeking. If the Bahá'ís will arise as never before to teach the Cause they will find many listeners and many will find eternal life through their sacrificial efforts.
(From a letter dated 17 May 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)Page 325
2008. Divine Truth is relative and that is why we are enjoined to constantly refer the seeker to the Word itself -- and why any explanations we make to ease the journey of the soul of any individual must be based on the Word -- and the Word alone.
(From a letter dated 4 June 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada)
2009. The believers must be encouraged to teach individually in their own homes. Bahá'u'lláh has enjoined upon the Bahá'ís the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Bahá'í is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, and gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day.
(From a letter dated 5 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of Benelux countries)