Sunday, November 6, 2011

Three Spiritual Prerequisites

Many years ago as I was reading and studying the Writings of Baha’u’llah, I came across a beautiful passage which I then memorized. At this time I cannot find an authorized version of its translation into English, so I will just share the jist of what I have memorized. In this passage Baha’u’llah essentially indicates that two things have always been acceptable in the sight of God: tears that are shed for fear of God, and drops of one’s blood that are shed in the path of God. He then goes on to say that since this second matter has been forbidden, a third has taken its place, and that is devoting ones life in the path of recognition of God, to get to know Him and to make Him known. If any of the readers of this blog are familiar with this passage, or can locate it in authorized translations, I would appreciate hearing from them.

Now I learn two things from the above passage. The first is that the reference to tears and blood may symbolize being and doing. When we transform our inner being and bring it to conform with the will of God we achieve a state of being that represents expanded consciousness, and a sense of purity. This is the “being” part. And when we arise to serve humanity, to help transform the society, and we are so steadfast that we can withstand any external pressure to the point of giving our lives for it, then this is the ultimate in “doing”.

The second thing that I learn from the above passage is that the requirement of service to humanity can change from time to time, and perhaps even from region to region, depending on the requirement of the historical moment. Early in the time of the Bab service would lead to great difficulties and even accepting martyrdom. Later in the latter part of the ministry of Baha’u’llah there was a greater acceptance of the Faith and this requirement was transformed to the requirement of devoting of one’s life to the recognition of God. In a similar way the teaching work was initially on the home front, and later the greatest service was to arise for pioneering in far off lands. Now that the Faith is so well established throughout the planet, the new requirement is of building of spiritual communities in our own neighborhoods and clusters.

Paragraph 31 of the letter of 28 December 2010 of the Universal House of Justice is the start of a new section in this message, and it addresses the question of spiritual prerequisites for the success of all Bahá’í undertakings. Study of this paragraph reminds me of that statement that I referred to above, and it occurs to me to be about "being". Unless we as individuals make an effort to continually advance in acquiring these spiritual qualities we cannot effectively contribute to the transformation of the society. These are the twofold moral purposes and they are intimately linked to one another. 

In study of this paragraph the following questions are suggested:
  1. What are the three duties of the Counsellors and their Auxiliaries?
  2. When did the Guardian write the Advent of Divine Justice?
  3. What was the occasion that prompted the Guardian to write this letter?
  4. How is this letter characterized by the House of Justice?
  5. What are the three spiritual prerequisites of all Bahá’í undertakings?
  6. What are the implications of the observations in this Book for the global effort of the Bahá’í community today?

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith, wrote that “The glowing tributes, so repeatedly and deservedly paid to the capacity, the spirit, the conduct, and the high rank, of the American believers, both individually and as an organic community, must, under no circumstances, be confounded with the characteristics and nature of the people from which God has raised them up. A sharp distinction between that community and that people must be made, and resolutely and fearlessly upheld, if we wish to give due recognition to the transmuting power of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, in its impact on the lives and standards of those who have chosen to enlist under His banner. Otherwise, the supreme and distinguishing function of His Revelation, which is none other than the calling into being of a new race of men, will remain wholly unrecognized and completely obscured.”

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