February 25, 2011

The value of prayer – A talk by Hand of the Cause John Robarts

House of Worship in Wilmette
March 20, 1974

From my earliest days in the Faith [Mr. Robarts and his wife Audrey have been Baha'is since 1937] it has seemed that we have had too few speakers. Anybody who was willing to give a talk would receive many invitations. In that long-ago period when I was first a believer, I went to many places in Canada and the United States to speak. I must tell you about one place because it often comes to my mind when I consider the subject of prayer. It was on April 17. I had been invited to address a community where there were eight believers and they needed a ninth to form their Local Spiritual Assembly a few days hence. My plane was delayed and I arrived late while prayers were being said. I was ushered to a seat beside the chairman. When the prayers were finished, he whispered to me (there were about 45 people in the room), "John, do you see that tall man in the third row, center? He is the only non-Baha’i in the room. We need him for our Assembly on Thursday!"

I stood up and looked at my opponent. He was a nice person. I noticed he had very large eyes. I began to speak but soon felt that I wasn't doing very well. I didn't seem to be inspired and suddenly I realized that my friend's eyes were opening and closing very slowly, and then to my horror, they closed and clicked shut. I had lost my man. He was sound asleep! In my despair I turned to Baha’u'llah and said, "Dear Baha’u'llah, please come to my aid. We need that man for our Assembly on Thursday." I went on with my talk and what seemed like a bright idea struck me, which I felt must have been the answer to my cry for help. In quite a loud voice, I said, "Baha’u'llah said, 'The people are wrapped in a strange sleep!'" And I banged the table with my fist. The man woke up as though he had been shot and he stayed awake. He became a Baha'i that evening, and helped to form the Assembly on Thursday!

I think this is a good illustration of renewal of faith through prayer. It certainly renewed my faith when I saw those beautiful eyes open again and it renewed his when he really turned his heart to Baha'u'llah. We were all very happy.

February 14, 2011

Reflecting on what it means to be a Baha’i – A talk given by Hand of the Cause, Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum in India, in 1964

Transcript of a talk given in 1964 at an all-India Teaching Conference, arranged by the National Spiritual Assembly at Gwalior Teaching Institute in India. About 500 believers had come from all corners of India to this conference.

It is a great joy to be here. When I look at your faces it makes me feel that I am seeing the faces of all the Baha'is in India. As I have been ill -- in the last two weeks I have had two attacks of influenza and been in bed for eight days -- I have to be a little careful that I don't get it back again.

I would like to say that the preciousness of this occasion that we have here is far beyond our powers to describe. We must appreciate it. You see it is very seldom that so many devoted Baha’is, many of them active in the teaching work, have an opportunity to come together in one place, even for a few hours. I have noticed that mass teaching is the subject that I have been asked to speak on, but I must be excused and speak from my heart what I feel is most important, because mass teaching is the subject of this entire Conference. It is your subject as well as my subject, but now I must at first speak just from my heart.

When our beloved Shoghi Effendi died in 1957, I said that the only Baha'i we had in the world had died. This Cause of Baha'u'llah is so great. It is for at least 1,000 years. Who understands it? Some of us who are here were born Baha'is, some have ancestors who were Baha’is, some of you became Baha'is maybe yesterday or this morning. This is not the point. We are all Baha'is. I feel very strongly that if we Baha'is want to teach the Message of Baha'u'llah to the people of India, the better we have in our minds the concept of how great this Message is, the easier it will be to teach it. I want you to make a little trip with me. Come with me on a little trip and follow my thought. It is night time and we are looking up at the sky -- and in India the sky is very clear -- and we see this great white river across the sky, which in English we call the Milky Way. City people and village people are familiar with this great river of light, but do all of us know that this river of light is composed of millions and billions of stars just like our sun? How many of us know that we little human beings looking up at the sky, that we on this earth belong to the stars in that river? So great is this river. Now our sun is our centre, and around the centre of this sun which belongs to us are grouped all the planets, and we on this earth are just one of the planets that go around our sun. So, now we get down to this earth. We know where we are out there in space, we know where we are in relation to this sun which is setting, and now let us begin to talk about this planet on which we human beings live.

February 5, 2011

Explanation of the Emblem of the Greatest Name – by Hand of the Cause Abu’l-Qasim Faizi

“From eternity Thou hast been removed far above the reach and the ken of the comprehension of Thy servants, and immeasurably exalted above the strivings of Thy bond-slaves to express Thy mystery.” – Baha’u’llah

The identity of the Greatest Name, a mystery concealed from time immemorial "behind the mystic veil" and preserved in the treasure house of the knowledge of God, was to be revealed and manifested to men's eyes at its appointed time in accordance with the Divine Plan, like the other manifold and basic truths of the New Age. Allusions had been made to it by the Messengers of old, under the impact of Whose Revelations, man-made spiritual progress and gradually attained a clearer understanding of its hidden meanings. Like a brilliant sun wrapt in clouds, the Greatest Name remained hidden and unknown. Those who longed to catch a glimpse of its splendor drew close, but enjoyed only a dim vision of its radiance. Throughout past centuries, in accordance with the inscrutable wisdom of God's progressive revelation of truth, the veils remained until gradually, one by one, they were removed from this precious and all-embracing Name.

Anticipated in Past Religions

The eager followers of past religions, in their deep desire to witness a flickering of the approaching majestic dawn, found that the new Name of the Great One to come meant "light", "splendor" and "glory". The followers of Krishna, for instance, expected His return under the name of "Vishnu Yasha", which in Sanskrit means "Glory of God". The last chapter of the Shrimad Bhagwad of the Hindu Scripture states: "Vishnu Yasha will possess great energy, intelligence and prowess . . . He will restore order and peace in this world . . . Man in general will begin to honor and practice truth." (1)

One of the Bahá'i scholars in the Middle East, whose father had formerly superintended a Buddhist Temple, and who was himself well-versed in the writings of that Faith, told me that many times he had read the entire Gospel of Buddha in Sanskrit, every word of which he had understood with the exception of the meaning of a word composed of "B", "H" and "A", which occasionally appears in Buddhist Scripture. When he learned of the Bahá'i Faith, the mystery was solved. The letters, joined together, formed the name of "Bahá".