February 23, 2010

Horace Holley – A talk at the Los Angeles Baha'i Center October 23, 1948

[We Owe it to ‘Abdu’l-Baha; The Temple as a Powerful, Silent Teacher]

(Stenographic notes)

The human race is immersed in the ocean of the spirit. Baha'u'llah is universal, and He has surrounded humanity with all the blessings of the Day of God. You and I are aware of the fact that we are immersed in the ocean of the spirit, but the majority of the people are not yet aware, and when we are not aware of the spirit that surrounds and penetrates us, and tries to act upon a reluctant heart and a mind that is full of the shadows of the past, the individual encased in this unawareness is fearful of the spirit because the spirit, to him, is something that threatens what he thinks is the basis of his human personality. It is as though he were constantly being threatened by death-not physical death-but the extinction of what he considers to be his security. Those who are aware of the spirit, and know it can do nothing but bless those who become aware of it, have laid upon themselves the mission of the ages, to remove the obstacles from human personality which shut people out from the Spirit of Baha'u'llah.

In this great Day of God there is no one way to free all souls. The number of ways which are necessary to learn is exactly the number of the Baha'is themselves, which means that every Baha'i has a mission, and if any of us fail to do our part in the quickening of souls, it means we have left certain people in the prison of their human personality, because we have thrown away the keys that would open the doors and make them Baha'is.

February 11, 2010

Ruhiyyih Khanum’s Message to First Canadian National Convention - 1948

To the Delegates and Friends attending the First Canadian National Baha'i Convention.

Dear Friends:

What a blessing and privilege to be allowed to raise my voice on this historic occasion, even though from across two seas, and address these words to you in my own home. You who are gathered here see this room, these walls and doors clearly, but I assure you they rise up before my eyes dimmed by the passing years, sanctified by memory and longing, and what comes to my mind is a nostalgic co-mingling of the past and the future.
Strangely enough the most vivid picture is one neither I—nor probably one of you -- can remember as an eye witness: 'Abdu'l Baha addressing in this very room, a group of believers and guests. The strong, sad, wise face; the silvery hair; the beautiful, understanding blue eyes that swa the reality of things, the reality of evil, the reality of error, of failure and deviation, and yet looked upon all men with a loving and gentle spirit and filled them with hope, -- this is the first and most vivid imprint of all, which surely clings to this house so blessed by His presence. And what He said on that occasion must have for you, I feel, now gathered here to carry on His work at such an important juncture in Canadian history, a special message and a special significance. He opened his speech with these words:

"An hour ago a Young man came here and we discussed together whether nature is perfect or imperfect, light or darkness. I wish now to complete that conversation. Nature--that is, generally speaking, the physical world, the world of nature, if we observe it carefully and seek to probe its mysteries, -- this world of nature is seen to be imperfect, to be dark. Consider carefully: if we leave a plot of earth in its natural state it will remain a field of thistles, it will grow useless weeds; if we leave the hills to themselves the trees will remain fruitless, it is a jungle with no harvest, no order. Therefore, this world of nature is dark, it must be illumined. In what will its illumination lie?"

‘Abdu’l-Baha then went on to answer His own question and point out that cultivation and training in the world of nature has converted the wilderness into harvest-bearing fields, and that just as the physical world would, if left untended, revert to a state of nature which is dark, wild, and fruitless, so men, if abandoned to themselves, if left uneducated, revert to a state resembling that of animals -- nay, even worse than animals, for they can become like the cannibals of Africa, their human qualities of mind and soul remaining wholly undeveloped. Through one simile after another he pointed out that the physical world must be redeemed from its gross state of imperfection through training.