Aug 15, 2017

Humanity's Coming Encounter with Baha'u'llah - by Douglas Martin, April 1992

Anniversaries are an invitation to take stock, to review where we have come from. The hope is that we can secure a vantage point from which we can better appreciate what lies ahead. Centenaries are particularly valuable in this respect, because the perspective they provide is so much longer, and the vantage point, hopefully, correspondingly high.

In reviewing of the unfolding public message of the Cause over the past 100 years it is important to distinguish this message from the Faith's teaching work. There are as many teaching methods as there are Bahá'ís: some five million of them at the present count. There are as many "Bahá'í messages", perhaps, as there are inquirers. Entirely apart from this worldwide effort of individuals to teach other individuals, the Bahá'í community as a body has pursued a parallel, century-long -- and remarkably systematic -- program to create an accurate and favorable image of the Cause in the public mind generally.

There is no one satisfactory term that captures this endeavor. The meaning of the much-used word "proclamation" has, unfortunately, become steadily more blurred as it has been used for various group teaching initiatives. What we are talking about are such activities as public information, government relations, publicity, publishing, media production and public relations, whose aim is to ensure that the society around us gains a reasonably sound understanding of the nature and purposes of the Bahá'í Cause.

Jul 26, 2017

Message to Persian Baha'is abroad for “The Holy Year", 1992 - from Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

This is a wonderful opportunity to say something to the dear Persian Baha'is as we approach the hundredth anniversary of the Ascension of Baha'u'llah in this year which, for all of us, all over the world, is so holy. I think the Persian believers who have, for one reason or another, left their homeland and are now living abroad, should consider very seriously, at this historic moment, what their duty is to the Cause of God, which after all originated in their own native land and they became the first followers of this new Faith in the whole world, the ones who gave their lives by the thousands to defend and establish it, to assert its truth and carry its message abroad. This is the Persian believers' immortal distinction in the history of our religion, but likewise it imposes a great responsibility upon them.

It says in the Bible: "Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required". I think this particularly applies to the dear Persian believers at this moment in the history of the Cause of God. The thing that is most important, now, for all the Baha'is, particularly for those who come from Baha'u'llah's native land, is to arise, each one of them, forgetful of himself and his own limitations, putting aside every feeling of unworthiness or lack of capacity or experience, and teach the Cause of God as never before.

The humblest of Baha'u'llah's followers must realize he is capable of receiving Divine confirmations if he will arise and go forth, at this great turning point in human history, to share with the frightened, disillusioned, hopeless masses of his fellow men, the life-giving teachings of the Blessed Beauty. It is the sacred duty of all of us to let mankind know that this Cause of God exists and that Baha'u'llah has appeared for the redemption of mankind.

Jun 21, 2017

Question: What is easy familiarity? – from a talk by Peter Khan, 1984

[Transcribed from video tape at Hawaii Summer School 1984, from a question asked]

“The practice of indiscriminate kissing and embracing involving unrelated people of opposite sexes is not desirable, and discouraged. Particularly these days when restraints are being abolished one by one, the Baha'is should make efforts to uphold in their personal lives and in their relationships to one another the standards of conduct set forth in the teachings." (Shoghi Effendi, ‘Advent of Divine Justice’)

I want to comment on that, but before I do, I want to finish the letter from the Universal House of Justice. The House of Justice says: "...like most problems to do with human behavior, this is a matter more affected by education, general standards, and attitudes, than by hard and fast rules." We will pick that up again in another letter by the Universal House of Justice in a moment, but notice several things they are saying. It is better carried out by education, general standards and attitudes than by hard and fast rules. Let me call your attention to the fact that there is room for individual differences and individual interpretation. For example, one of the sentences referred to kissing and embracing. Let me call your attention to the words used, "indiscriminate kissing and embracing". What is indiscriminate kissing and embracing, involving unrelated people of the opposite sex? It is not desirable, and discouraged. Notice they don't say prohibited. My point rather than propounding one point of view is to indicate the need to look closely at the words used by the Guardian in deciding what one feels is right and wrong. Decide for yourself what is indiscriminate! Decide what it means for yourself, what it means about being not desirable, and discouraged. There is room for individual differences. Like I said, if I were to come into the room and kiss every female and touch every male would that be indiscriminate? If it were all people that I had been friendly with for years, would that still be indiscriminate?

I'm mentioning this because in my country, in living in Australia in years gone by, there was a view propounded that kissing in the Baha'i Faith was forbidden. This created a great deal of controversy and antagonism in the Baha'i community, many hot feelings were expressed, one by the other, and things became polarized. Eventually the whole thing was dampened down and we got some degree of rationality to the thing, by calling attention to the fact that these are the words of the Guardian and that you decide for yourself. If you think it mean prohibited, O.K. , lots of luck, you behave that way if you want but don't force others to behave in that way. If they want to come to that conclusion, fine, but it is important not to read too much or too little into the Writings, rather to see where the Writings go.

May 12, 2017

Parents' Words and Deeds are Children's Examples – by Hand of the Cause Ali-Akbar Furutan

“Take heed, O people, lest ye be of them that give good counsel to others but forget to follow it themselves.” (Baha’u’llah, ‘Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah’)

It is only natural that, as parents, you should take a deep interest in the training and education of your children. You cherish the hope that they will grow up free from defilement, good-tempered, well-behaved, and deserving to take their place in society as civilized and progressive-minded human beings.

It is certain, for instance, that you prefer your children not to tell lies, not to backbite, and not to wrongly accuse others of misdeeds. You hope they will be honest and trustworthy, and will not sully their tongues with offensive and unpleasant talk. You expect them to show respect towards their parents, and, in short, to observe fully those moral principles which are conducive to the advancement of the human race, and to its distinction and happiness. If such be the case, then it is important to understand a delicate matter: this wish can only be realized when it is translated from thoughts into actions. In other words, you yourself must possess the very characteristics and perfections that you want your children to acquire, for in the view of the world's renowned scholars, the sayings and actions of parents exert a tremendous influence on their children. Experts are all united in the opinion that it is the parents who establish the morals and manners of their children, with the characteristics and virtues of the mother exerting a greater influence. Whatever the parents may do and whatever they may say (be it good or ill), will become a pattern for the child's conduct.

Many child psychologists believe that most of children's actions come about through imitation. This condition in children is so intense that we can compare the innermost self of a child to a mirror in which are reflected the actions and words of the father, mother, and others who come in contact with him.

Mar 7, 2017

The Meaning of: Jesus, Son of God – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

Misunderstanding about the reality of the station of Christ has caused great difficulties among Christians for over nineteen centuries. It has even caused grave separation among His followers. Christ’s station has been described as everything from that of a human reformer and teacher to that of the physical Son of God, even as that of God Himself.

The very symbol used by the early Christians called attention to Christ’s exalted station. When the sign of the fish was secretly used to identify Christian believers to each other (approximately AD 180), it was chosen, we are told, “because the Greek word for it [fish], I-CH-TH-U-S, formed the initials of the phrase Iesous Christus theou uios soter—‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour’.” (1)

Christians now find it exceedingly difficult to believe in or to accept any new Messenger of God, because of their misunderstanding of the station of Christ.  Although Jesus Himself clearly promised that One would come after him, and referred to His own return in over 250 separate New Testament passages, Christians still insist:

“Other Messengers or Prophets are of much less importance than Christ. They are mere teachers, but Jesus is the Son of God. No other station can rank as high as that.”

This attitude is reminiscent of what the people said at the time of Christ. They took this very same position in relation to Moses. When they were told about a new Messenger of God called Jesus of Nazareth, they answered:

“He is but a poor, unlearned teacher. Moses was the Interlocutor, the Mouthpiece of God. He actually talked with God and heard His voice in the Holy Mountain. No other station can rank as high as this.”

Once again we find the outward symbol blinding the people to the inward truth.

Christ wished to show the close relationship which existed between the Messenger or Prophet and God.  Therefore, He used the clear symbol of the son; the only son, who is granted special privileges in speaking for the father. In this light His explanations were readily understandable.