November 29, 2015

The Meaning of Resurrection – by Hand of the Cause William Sears

What is the meaning of the Resurrection of His Holiness Jesus the Christ? It is written that after three days He rose from the dead. How can this be explained to the logical mind?

Baha'u'llah has also unsealed the meaning of the "resurrection" of Christ and the meaning of "resurrection day". Baha'u'llah pointed out that there was a beautiful, eternal truth hidden in this inward symbol of the Resurrection, but that it had been gravely misunderstood. As a result, it became the cause of disputes between religions, as well as between religion and science. The doctrine of the Resurrection has also been the cause of preventing literal-minded people from accepting the new Messenger of God, Baha'u'llah, in this day.

By clinging to this belief in the bodily resurrection, the eyes of the people have become blinded to the truth. They have deprived themselves of the spiritual resurrection, the very basic purpose of their existence on earth. Such people are truly "dead" in the "graves" of error.

The Teachings of the Baha'i Faith say:

"The resurrections of the [Messengers of God] are not of the body ... Their parables, and Their instructions, have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things." [1]

September 6, 2015

The God Who walks with men – by Hand of the Cause Horace Holley

From an older day we hear there was a time when God walked with men. That ancient belief is now a faded rose that has lost its glory, but it keeps a precious fragrance which still stirs the heart with wonder and with hope.

God walked with men! The idea seems to change the world from a great, implacable machine into a place of adoration and fulfilled love. It makes us ask, do we live in a universe of mechanical atoms, of strange, perfect stars and suns looking down without feeling or pity upon our griefs and lonely failures, or can we be actually living in the compassionate heart of God?

How could such an exalted idea ever become lost and forgotten? Was it merely a beautiful but empty dream? Or was it a sublime truth we have sold for the price to pay for personal and selfish desires?

This world, we know too well, without a God who walks with men, imprisons us in a vast loneliness where we have to live with our own discontent, our failure, lacking real purpose or aim. It is not enough to become at times part of some officially heralded movement pronounced necessary and noble if the nobility does not penetrate into our own hearts and redeem us from our unsatisfying selves. But the discontent lingers and the hope occasionally returns.

What has happened to human beings that they can be so skillful in doing great things but so helpless when they turn their wonderful powers to the greater task of ordering their own hearts?

May 17, 2015

The Baha'i Concept of God – a talk by Ali-Kuli Khan, 1956

The Baha'i concept of God is that of a Supreme Being - of course, the language of man is inadequate to describe this great reality that we call God. All that we can speak concerning God is of the Manifestations of God's attributes; but as to the inner nature of God, Rumi, the mystic poet of Persia, 800 years ago, said: "How can you, O Philosopher, dare fathom this fathomless ocean? This is a Path that none could travel by meditation or contemplation. Man can no more fathom the essence of that divine Reality than a slip of straw could sink to the depths of the sea."

This shows the impossibility for the mind of man to comprehend the Invisible Essence, as for a wisp of straw to reach the bottom of the sea. Well, then, how are we to recognize and to know God?

The answer is that man can know God only through the Manifestations of His Names end Attributes in this visible world. For example you find the skies and the seas and of the earth, and the passing of the seasons, - phenomena manifesting forth life's various phases. Life finally ends in what seems to be a state of death; and then again, when the first season of the New Year comes around, you see life anew emerging from what appeared to be extinction, manifesting itself anew as does nature pregnant with blossoms, beauty, and delicious fruits.

April 29, 2015

The ninth cycle of the Bahá’í calendar and its relationship to the teaching work – by ‘Ali Nakhjavani, former member of the Universal House of Justice

[‘Alí Nakhjavání, now a resident of France, served for 40 years as a member of the Universal House of Justice.]

The letter of the Universal House of Justice dated July 10, 2014, with its attachment about the Bahá’í calendar, was a great surprise to many of the friends in the Bahá’í world. To clarify several technical issues involved and to appreciate the timing and understand the implications of this message, this article is offered to the readership of this eminent journal.

In this epoch-making message that launches a unified Bahá’í calendar, the Universal House of Justice pointed out to us: “The adoption of a new calendar in each dispensation is a symbol of the power of Divine Revelation to reshape human perception of material, social, and spiritual reality. Through it, sacred moments are distinguished, humanity’s place in time and space reimagined, and the rhythm of life recast.” The same message drew attention to the fact that the launching of the new calendar will further “unite” the Bahá’í world.

Why is the Bahá’í calendar associated with a lunar calendar?

The friends in the West had always known, through books such as God Passes By and The Dawn-Breakers, that many Bahá’í historical dates were recorded and mentioned based on the lunar calendar of Islam. They had been also aware that a few Bahá’í anniversaries were being observed in some countries in the East in accordance with the lunar calendar, while the rest adhered to the dates of the solar calendar.

To provide for resolving this disparity, the Bahá’í texts stipulated that the Universal House of Justice had to determine the locality in the world that should be used as the Bahá’í meridian and the manner in which the Bahá’í calendar could be adjusted to enable the Birthdays of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb to occur on two consecutive days, as indicated in Bahá’í texts attributed to Bahá’u’lláh Himself.

April 26, 2015

Simultaneous Process of Expansion and Consolidation – an explanation by Hand of the Cause 'Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum

[In 1964 Hand of the Cause 'Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum spent several months in India and in the nearby countries of Ceylon, Nepal and Sikkim. While in India she participated extensively in the mass teaching program being carried on in the villages in all parts of that land. The following comments written on her return to the Holy Land give much food for thought among all the Baha'is of the world who wish to see their beloved Faith grow and expand among the multitudes not yet touched by the Word of Baha'u'llah.]

The entire Baha'i world is watching the progress being made in India. Her teaching activities and the remarkable rate of increase in the number of believers in that country during the last five years, are the envy and admiration of her sister communities. But I feel a word of advice is in order here. Often, the active workers inside a community, who are bearing the full weight of teaching, administering and supporting it, get the idea that they should slow down on 'expansion' and 'consolidate.' This is a dangerous idea - a very dangerous idea.

It was our beloved Guardian, Shoghi Effendi, who first used these terms; we learned them from him; but he never separated the two things. To him expansion was constant teaching, according to the express command of Baha'u'llah, like an army that is marching to conquer, never losing an advantage, never ceasing to go on. Consolidation is what comes behind the army; the food supply, the education of the conquered people, the establishment of garrisons. It would be a sorry army indeed that sat down to enjoy the luxuries of inaction when it had the advantage! There are other armies on the march in these days, ominous, terrible, destructive armies, not only physical ones (perhaps the least dangerous of all) but ideological ones; materialism is on the march at a terrifying rate, godlessness is advancing with frightening swiftness, inadequate political ideologies, whether from the East or from the West, are seeking to conquer the minds of men.

April 12, 2015

The Passing of ‘Abdu’l-Baha – from a letter by Emogene Hoagg to Nellie French dated January 2, 1922

[Emogene Hoagg was an early believer who made her way from Italy to Haifa soon after she received a cable announcement of the ascension of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. For a very brief account of her life please visit We are Baha’is]

Haifa, Palestine
2nd January 1922

My dearest Nelly:

Your letter of December 14th has just reached me here in this blessed spot. Needless to say why I am here, for you will have realized that no other thought could have possessed me after getting the cable of the ascension of our beloved Master.

As you said you felt, I also felt. The world seemed to have lost its axis, and I seemed to be living without a support. I had planned to go to Genoa, but had no heart nor strength to continue the work at that time. I left Torino, from where I wrote you, returned to Milano and took the first steamer from Trieste which was on December 16th. The trip was a calm one and I arrived here on the 21st.

You may imagine the grief of the Holy Family. All was so sudden, so unexpected, that the shock to them as well as to all the friends was extreme. For the first week after getting here I had no head to use for anything, but since then have been very busy helping in the translation of some important Tablets. This has left no time for letter writing, which accounts for your not hearing from me before, as well as other friends whom I am sure are anxious for details. There is so much to tell it would take days to write it all, but later a full account is to be sent to all. Lady Bloomfield is here and is now compiling an accurate account of the few days prior to the Beloved's departure, of the cortege up the mountain to the Tomb of the Bab, and the fifth, ninth and fortieth days after the ascension.

April 7, 2015

Interview of Sachiro Fujita, - by Sylvia Ioas, 1975

Fujita 1971
Note: Sachiro Fujita was born in Yanai, Japan, April 15, 1886, and died in Haifa May 7, 1976. He is buried at the Bahá'í cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel. The following is inscribed atop his grave (from a photo taken by Robert Stauffer in 1978):

"Thou wilt render a great service and this will become the cause of thy everlasting glory."
— 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Mount Carmel, November 24th, 1965

Would you like to know something about my life? I, I left Japan 1903, and, ah, landed in San Francisco November 9th, 1903, and, ah, remained in San Francisco about a year. Then I happened to meet Mrs. Kathryn Frankland in Oakland. There I received Message, Bahá'í Message.

("You were how old?")

Fujita 1928
About 17. In Oakland about 5 years. I finished my, ah, high school in California, then I went from there to Cleveland, Ohio. From there I, ah, wish to attend, ah, University of Michigan, but, ah, 1912, 'Abdu'l-Bahá came to United States. From, uh, then I went to Chicago to meet Him. That's when really my Bahá'í, ah, life began.

I was in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a Bahá'í, Doctor Barton-Peek. She informed me 'Abdu'l-Bahá in Cleveland, and I was away. I didn't get the message the next morning. Then, immediately, I went Doctor Barton-Peek's office. I ask, message just received, I can call or not. She says, "Well, too bad that `Abdu'l-Bahá just left." I says, "Well, I'm very sorry I was away, I couldn't meet Him. When can I make contact with 'Abdu'l-Bahá?" Says, "The best thing is you can wire to Mr. Windust in Chicago, maybe he will tell you just when to come to Chicago." So immediately, I wired to Mr. Windust, he says he's waiting for any time for arrival of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. So, I took opportunity, I went to Chicago.

About 8 o'clock in the evening He arrive in Chicago. He was very nice. At the front of LaSalle Station, embrace me, "My Japanese." And then, He says, "You follow Me." He is going to, ah, Mrs. True's home. He give a lecture. We had a wonderful time in Mrs. True's home. From there to Kenosha, I went Kenosha, you know? There's some Bahá'í there. `Abdu'l-Bahá spend overnight. That's where 'Abdu'l-Bahá asked me to join His party to go to California.

April 4, 2015

Teaching the Cause of God: A Two-Edged Sword – by Ali Nakhjavani

In one of his letters Shoghí Effendí has explained to us that one of the distinctive features of our Faith is that we cannot separate the spiritual life of the individual from the spiritual life of the community. Mutual reactions exist between the two. Under the influence of the divine teachings, the hearts of the individual believers bring into being and shape the community. In turn, the community provides an atmosphere where the individual believers develop and grow spiritually. Our teachings are designed so that the spiritual life of the individual Bahá’í, and the collective life of the community, complement each other. Let us look at some examples:
  • Bahá’u’lláh calls on Bahá’ís to observe individual obligatory prayers, but at the same time He ordains that Houses of Worship for community prayers be established.
  • We see that Bahá’u’lláh calls on parents to be the first educators of their children, but at the same time He anticipates that every local Bahá’í House of Worship will have a school, and He praises the work of teachers.
  • He calls on the individual believer to teach His Cause and protect Its interests, but simultaneously Bahá’í institutions are given parallel assignments to provide for the teaching and protection of His Faith.
In the messages of the Universal House of Justice we read that the time has come for all Bahá’í communities to develop with greater confidence and self-reliance a culture of thinking which is fundamentally different from the community activities of other religions. Unlike other religions, there is no professional clergy in the Faith to lead the community. Leadership and authority are vested in elected institutions. Thus leadership is self-generated and home-grown through democratic methods, and every individual member of the community should be concerned with its welfare and healthy growth.

March 8, 2015

The Prayers of Baha’u’llah – by Ruhiyyih Khanum

Not the least of the treasures which Baha'u'llah has given to the world is the wealth of His prayers and meditations. He not only revealed them for specific purposes, such as the Daily Prayers, the prayers for Healing, for the Fast, for the Dead, and so on, but in them He revealed a great deal of Himself to us. At moments it is as if, in some verse or line, we are admitted into His Own heart, with all its turbulent emotions, or catch a glimpse of the workings of a mind as great and deep as an ocean, which we can never fathom, but which never ceases to enrapture and astonish us.

If one could be so presumptuous as to try and comment on a subject so vast and which, ultimately, is far beyond the capacity of any merely mortal mind to analyse or classify, one might say that one of His masterpieces is the long prayer for the Nineteen Day Fast. I do not know if He revealed it at dawn, but He had, evidently, a deep association with that hour of the day when the life of the world is re-poured into it. How could He not have? Was He not the Hermit of Sar-Galú, where He spent many months in a lonely stone hut perched on a hilltop; the sunrise must have often found Him waiting and watching for its coming, His voice rising and falling in the melodious chants of His supplications and compositions. At how many dawns He must have heard the birds of the wilderness wake and cry out when the first rays of the sun flowed over the horizon and witnessed in all its splendor the coming alive of creation after the night.

In this prayer it is as if the worshipper approaches the sun while the sun is approaching its daybreak. When one remembers that the sun, the life giver of the earth, has ever been associated with the God-Power, and that Baha'u'llah has always used it in His metaphors to symbolize the Prophet, the prayer takes on a mystical significance that delights and inspires the soul. Turning to the budding day He opens His supplication:

February 15, 2015

Shoghi Effendi: A uniquely significant figure of the twentieth century – by the 1997 editors of “World Order” Baha’i magazine

[The 1997 editors of World Order magazine were Firuz Kazemzadeh, Betty Fisher, Howard Garey, Robert Stockman, and James Stroke]

Shoghi Effendi, who was born a hundred years ago [as of 1997] in Ottoman Palestine, became a uniquely significant figure of the twentieth century. But his intrinsic importance to the history of the period is as yet generally unrecognized outside the Baha’i community. Through prodigious activity as Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, he carried out his designated responsibility as interpreter, both in literary and practical terms, of the vision of world unity advanced by Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha'i Faith. The principal effect of Shoghi Effendi's thirty-six-year ministry as the Guardian of the Faith was to create an incomparably diverse but united global community in a remarkably short time. The potential of this community is to become a pattern for future society. Anyone acquainted with its workings will be impressed by the spirit that induces its coherence. As it expands and develops along the lines indicated by Shoghi Effendi, there emerges compelling evidence that the efficacy of his guidance is destined to obtain wide notice and, inevitably, to influence the shaping of a millennium.

No celebration will mark the centennial of Shoghi Effendi's birth: this absence of a memorial ceremony is out of respect for his clear instruction against the commemoration of any event associated with his life. Yet remembrance of his monumental achievements is irrepressible and begs for expression at every opportunity. This anniversary is a welcome occasion, then, to reflect on the nature of his work and the relevance of his thought to contemporary concerns about the state and direction of human society, especially as the century about which he offered such illuminating and proven analyses draws to a close. The sheer volume and efficiency of his output in any one of his vocations as exegete, author, translator, administrator, commentator on world trends, master planner, organizer of global undertakings, aesthete was astounding. But it was the distinction of his inspired insight that lent a singular quality to his varied occupations and that remains as a unique and potent legacy.