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.

The Baha'i army is one of light -- its sole object is to conquer the hearts of men, its only battle is against the increasing spiritual darkness in the world. Nowhere in our teachings - neither from the pen of Baha'u'llah, 'Abdu'l-Baha nor the Guardian do we find mention of circumstances under which we should not teach this Faith actively all the time. Only when, by law, a government has forbidden us to teach actively do we bow our heads in obedience to government. There is never a point at which we have, temporarily, enough Baha'is. Baha'u'llah belongs to all the people of this world; He came to them - it is their right to hear of Him, to accept Him. To stand in the way of this process, to hold back the teaching work, is the deadliest of all sins.

It is not only new spiritual laws which Baha'u'llah has brought to the world in this day; it is a new social order, a divine policy. Shoghi Effendi used to say: 'We Baha'is belong to no political party, we belong to God's party.'

Let us ask ourselves how this World Order of our Faith is to be established, how its educational, social, economic, as well as spiritual, programs are to be put into practice, unless the material - vast masses of human beings calling themselves Baha'is - is available? How can one do two entirely contradictory things at the same time: require of people that they be mature, understanding, well-informed Baha'is before letting them into the Faith, and, at the same time, have enough Baha'is inside it to put into effect this great, dynamic, Order of Baha'u'llah? It is like asking that kindergarten children should first sit for entrance examinations to the university before they can begin their primary education!

Let the people come in. The law of averages decrees that everything has a scale of percentages. Every milk has its percentage of cream; high or low, it is there. For every hundred new Baha'is there is invariably going to be a percentage of people of great capacity, both intellectually and spiritually; this group will take care of the increase in less mature and understanding, but no less sincere, souls who comprise the rest of the hundred. In other words you get your rank and file, your foot soldiers, as well as your officers, all together at the same time. Just teach. Trust more in the power of Baha'u'llah to work His own miracles if you but let Him, and march on to conquer, while there is still the opportunity to do so, the hearts of the people in that wonderfully promising part of the world.

When we older people look back on our lives, how often we realize that we just took it for granted that the golden days of our teens or early youth, the first joys of marriage, of parenthood, of travel, of study, whatever it was - would go on forever! Suddenly we realized they had gone, never to come back. Today there is an extraordinary receptivity in that part of the world (and indeed, in many other lands, maybe more than we realize) to the Faith of Baha'u'llah like the soil waiting, dry and breathless with longing, for the monsoon, for the rains that will generate life and bring forth the new crop. This is our opportunity, our challenge, our terrible responsibility. For our own sakes, for the sake of suffering humanity, we cannot afford to fail in seizing this hour and exploiting it to the full. There are almost half a billion people in India, not to mention those in neighboring countries. Not hundreds, not thousands, but literally millions are ready to accept Baha'u'llah if you will only tell them He has come to them, for them, in this glorious new age in which we are living.  
(Baha’i News April 1966)