Intimacy

Intimacy a Baha'i interpretation of Re-Evaluation Counseling, by Roger Coe.

INTIMACY, and its role in spiritual transformation, race unity, relations between women and men, and teaching the Faith, by Roger Coe.

Intimacy

Main Entry: inútiúmate

Etymology: alteration of obsolete intime, from Latin intimus

Date: 1632

1 a : INTRINSIC, ESSENTIAL

b : belonging to or characterizing one's deepest nature

2 : marked by very close association, contact, or familiarity

<intimate knowledge of the law>

3 a : marked by a warm friendship developing through long association

b : suggesting informal warmth or privacy <intimate clubs>

4 : of a very personal or private nature

On the concept of intimacy, its importance and necessity, and methods for establishing intimate relations within the Bahá'í Community;

'Abdu'l-Bahá says: "one of the greatest divine wisdoms regarding the appearance of the Holy Manifestations is this: The souls may come to know each other and become intimate with each other;"

Intimacy is the sharing of close, personal information, and may be "measured" by the degree to which one discloses those details of one's life and thought to another, especially of those aspects which are normally shared only with a close circle of friends or relatives, and where disclosure leaves one open to possible criticism, negative judgment, or other attitudes from another person which may cause one to feel unsafe, or hurt;

In a certain sense it is not "knowledge" of those details of another's life that is most important or transformative in its social effect, but rather the act of giving voice to these details within an environment where true love and care exists, where one's "reality" is identified with the pure soul and not with the "dust" that covers the mirror of the soul - where one feels safe, and not potentially subject to criticism and negative judgment;

The basis for the definition above, its central place in our teachings and the transformative effect on the individual soul can be established from the following set of writings: Bahá'u'lláh, in Gleanings from the Writings, pp. 314-15, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, in Tablets of the Divine Plan; Shoghi Effendi, in The Advent of Divine Justice, pg. 30, and Bahá'í Administration, pg. 130; and in Stories from the Delight of Hearts, where Bahá'u'lláh speaks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's method of teaching the Faith.

In the Tablets of the Divine Plan 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks of the central place in all the Revelations of the establishment of intimacy between souls.(1)

In Gleanings one can find an indication of the transformative effect of being listened to within a non-judgmental environment.(2)

In Mírzá Haydar Ali's "Stories for the Delight of Hearts" one can find another indication of the same transformative effect where he describes how Bahá'u'lláh spoke of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's method of teaching.(3)

In both The Advent of Divine Justice(4) and Bahá'í Administration(5) one can find "intimacy" as one of the key factors for the establishment of interracial harmony and consciousness of the oneness of humanity within the Bahá'í community;

I assert, both from deduction and from my practice as a counselor for men on the responsibility of men in achieving equality between the sexes, that intimacy is also a key factor in the realization of this principle.

Practical methods

The practical methods I, and several other counselors with whom I've worked and consulted about these matters, use, are fairly simple, and we have refined their application through time and experience. Their effectiveness depends upon scrupulous adherence to a few basic principles and rules, and an opportunity for deeper and more prolonged knowledge and practice. However, within a one hour session I've seen many times the creation of a deeply-loving and trusting environment among people who began as essential strangers to each other.

These sessions open with a short lecture on the reality of each human being, i.e.:

1. that our soul is our reality, that it is pure and unsullied in its essence;

2. that through the natural course of life and development the soul becomes "oppressed" (dust gathers on the mirror of the soul, obscuring knowledge of one's true nature);

3. that one can gain a qualitatively better and deeper connection with one's own true self by being in the presence of another who manifests a loving, caring, attentive, non-judgmental attitude towards the other.

In the early stages of the workshop we practice this from the perspective of learning to be a "teacher" in the model of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (as described by Bahá'u'lláh), rather than from the perspective of the other being healed, listened to, or transformed. Essentially, we are training teachers and counselors rather than doing "therapy" on a patient.

The teachers are reminded of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's example: i.e., that He loved all without distinction, that He saw only the good in people and not their faults or negative qualities, and that He listened with close attention, and loving care.

We then divide the entire workshop into pairs, asking one to be the listener and one to be the speaker.

After emphasizing the importance of confidentiality,.. (References: UHJ ltr. 2 Aug 1982 - in Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities, pg. 4.12; also, Lights of Guidance, ref. #1123 (partial)

The teachers are then asked to silently emulate 'Abdu'l-Bahá as much as possible while their partner speaks about a certain question proposed to the entire group for a set period of time (usually 3-5 minutes).

At the end of this time period the roles are reversed and the other person has the opportunity to practice being a "teacher" by emulating 'Abdu'l-Bahá's style of listening while the other speaks.

In getting feedback on the experience from the various groups I've worked with the most usual remark concerns how it feels to be _listened to_ in such an atmosphere rather than how it feels to _listen_ in such a way. People often express the feeling of the transformative effect of being listened to without judgment and with so much love and attention.

1. "For one of the greatest divine wisdoms regarding the appearance of the Holy Manifestations is this: The souls may come to know each other and become intimate with each other; the power of the love of God may make all of them the waves of one sea, the flowers of one rose garden, and the stars of one heaven. This is the wisdom for the appearance of the Holy Manifestations!

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, page 50)

2. If ye meet the abased or the down-trodden, turn not away disdainfully from them, for the King of Glory ever watcheth over them and surroundeth them with such tenderness as none can fathom except them that have suffered their wishes and desires to be merged in the Will of your Lord, the Gracious, the All-Wise. O ye rich ones of the earth! Flee not from the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay rather befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the woes with which God's inscrutable Decree hath caused him to be afflicted. By the righteousness of God! Whilst ye consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking upon you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling your names and glorifying your action. Blessed are the learned that pride not themselves on their attainments; and well is it with the righteous that mock not the sinful, but rather conceal their misdeeds, so that their own shortcomings may remain veiled to men's eyes.

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings, pages 314-15)

3. "But the day dawned with splendid sunshine, and I went to His room in the Mansion of Bahjí. He spoke about teaching. He said: 'A kindly approach and loving behavior toward the people are the first requirements for teaching the Cause. The teacher must carefully listen to whatever a person has to say - even though his talk may consist only of vain imaginings and blind repetitions of the opinions of others. One should not resist or engage in argument. The teacher must avoid disputes which will end in stubborn refusal or hostility, because the other person will feel overpowered and defeated. Therefore, he will be more inclined to reject the Cause. One should rather say, "Maybe you are right, but kindly consider the question from this other point of view." Consideration, respect, and love encourage people to listen and do not force them to respond with hostility. They are convinced because they see that your purpose is not to defeat them, but to convey truth, to manifest courtesy, and to show forth heavenly attributes. This will encourage the people to be fair. Their spiritual natures will respond, and, by the bounty of God, they will find themselves recreated. "Consider the way in which the Master teaches the people. He listens very carefully to the most hollow and senseless talk. He listens so intently that the speaker says to himself, 'He is trying to learn from me.' Then the Master gradually and very carefully, by means that the other person does not perceive, puts him on the right path and endows him with a fresh power of understanding."

Bahá'u'lláh , quoted in, Mírzá Haydar-'Ali's, Stories from the Delight of Hearts, pp. 109-10.

4. "Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pg. 33.

5. "In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá'u'lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear,…"

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pg. 130.

CONFIDENTIALITY

"1. Any information which comes to the notice of an Assembly member, solely by reason of his membership on that Assembly must not be divulged by that member, even though the Assembly itself may later decide to share it.

"2. The Assembly must itself carefully consider which information should rightly fall in the category of confidential information and which should not be shared with others, and which information may be divulged under special circumstances, and how such information may be divulged. Should confidential matters regarding personal problems be freely shared with others, upon application, the confidence of the believers in the Assembly and its members will obviously be destroyed.

"3. It must be remembered that individuals can reform, and a reprehensible past does not necessarily disqualify a believer from a better future."

The Universal House of Justice, letter dated September 18, 1968 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States

"Every institution in the Faith has certain matters which it considers should be kept confidential, and any member who is privy to such confidential information is obliged to preserve the confidentiality within the institution where he learned it. Such matters, however, are but a small portion of the business of any Bahá'í institution. Most subjects dealt with are of common interest and can be discussed openly with anyone. Where no confidentiality is involved the institutions must strive to avoid the stifling atmosphere of secrecy; on the other hand, every believer must know that he can confide a personal problem to an institution of the Faith, with the assurance that knowledge of the matter will remain confidential. Members of Assemblies who are also Assistants to Auxiliary Board Members

"Members of Assemblies, whether they are assistants [to Auxiliary Board members] or not, are obviously in a position to receive confidential information as individuals from several sources. It is an important principle of the Faith that one must not promise what one is not going to fulfill. Therefore, if a Bahá'í accepts confidential information either by virtue of his profession (e.g. as a doctor, a lawyer, etc.), or by permitting another person to confide in him, he is in duty bound to preserve that confidentiality."

"Assistants who are members of a National Assembly or a national committee do not function as assistants in relation to that body, and they have the same duty to observe the confidentiality of its consultations, and of matters considered by the Assembly to be confidential, as does any other member."

"… It should be clear to the believers that they are not justified in assuming that because a matter is known to individual members of the Assembly it is therefore before the Assembly itself. If a believer wishes to bring a matter to the Assembly's attention he should do so explicitly and officially. If a member of the Assembly knows of a personal problem, and if he has not undertaken to keep it confidential, he may bring it to the Assembly's attention if he feels it would be in the interests of the Faith for him to do so, but he is not obliged to."

Written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, August 2, 1982 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Virgin Islands, in Developing Distinctive Bahá'í Communities, Pg 4.12

(See also Chapter 1, "The Assistants to the Auxiliary Board Members.")

(See also Chapter 3, "Confidentiality of Minutes.")

(See also Chapter 15, "Confidentiality.")

FURTHER NOTES, THOUGHTS AND MUSINGS:

List excuses to gather; examples of issues that might be worked on:

Inherent and subconscious attitude of [racial/sexual/intellectual/etc.] superiority; [ADJ 33]

Our own personal deficiencies and weaknesses; [ADJ 17]

Patronizing attitudes; [ADJ 33]

Fear of change; [ADJ 35]

Fear of criticism and negativism; [ADJ 35]

Teaching - difficulties, fears, etc.

Responsibility of men in achieving equality between the sexes

Fear of death

Spiritual Transformation

How can we become intimate

Native American Teaching

How Bahá'u'lláh explains oppression in The Kitáb-i-Íqán gives three important perspectives for comprehending all oppressions:

All are oppressed, i.e., kept from the knowledge of God [or own self]

No one is to blame for being the way they were brought up - we all inherited social patterns as youngsters

The training is at the level of "deep culture" where we are unaware that we are acting out of early training. This training was received so early that it is primarily activated by emotional links, rather than cognitive ones, which were established in early childhood.

Oppression as I understand it from Bahá'u'lláh in the Kitáb-i-Íqán:

All are oppressed

This oppression has kept us from knowledge of God, i.e., our own self

Socialization - lead by the divines - has been the greatest factor in our oppression

Every soul is born pure and holy

We feel and think at very deep levels that we are something other than our true reality because the oppression began at such an early age and we were so thoroughly indoctrinated

We act out of unconscious and subconscious levels of our being

As individuals we are all clear on our responsibilities if we want spiritual transformation pray, obey, etc., but we need more

Just as socialization has had a very oppressive effect in our past we must understand that the society still tries to "pull us back in line"

We must, therefore, work consciously on the transformation of our communities so that individuals will have an environment that nurtures and fosters their transformation

It's reasonable, then, to set-up environments where we, as a community, practice being a certain way for a specific time just as we do as individuals where we work day by day, little by little, to transform our behavior as individuals

Community building exercises:

To what extent do we act like everything is fine when we know it's really not? in what ways?

When you rode the "steed of pain" through the Valley of Love - what would it take for you to tell us about it?

Renounce the world!

Take leave of self

''Abdu'l-Bahá as a healer: Did he go to people and beg them to allow him to diagnose them and prescribe a remedy? or did he not do his healing in a more spontaneous way?

What does intimacy imply?

When was the last time you involved one of your close friends in a major life decision, problem, fear?

Rugged individualism causes hiding emotions - makes us walk alone

Draw distinction between sin and fears, troubles and woes.

Be honest with self, then others

What is the most difficult thing about being in the Bahá'í community?

What might keep you from being completely intimate with another Bahá'í?

What would keep you from laying down you life for anyone in your Bahá'í community?

INSTITUTE FOR THE COMMUNITY SUPPORT OF SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION

"…The object of every Revelation [is] to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions." [KI 240]

It is a natural aspect of all souls in the world of creation that they need to become free of obscuring dust and material conditions which have been acquired in order to manifest their inherent spiritual reality. [PUP 244]

This transformation is required because all souls have been subjected to "oppression" which has kept them from attaining "the truth" and "the knowledge of God". [KI 31]

The leaders of religion and those in authority have been chiefly responsible for keeping souls from knowledge of their own self. [KI 36]

Spiritual transformation of one's own self is a path each individual must tread. [KI 191-5]

This path for each individual is clear, it is:

obedience to the laws and precepts of God;

detachment;

obligatory prayers;

fasting;

reading and understanding the Sacred Writings;

prayerful meditation;

adjust behavior

teach

selfless service in the Cause and in your calling

Just as society has effectively oppressed individual souls, it can, on the other hand, serve to provide support for individual spiritual transformation;

The Bahá'í Faith is primarily focused on the collective salvation of the whole of humankind - our primary task is social and unific rather than personal - yet, it is INDIVIDUALS who are the most basic elemental unit of this social order. We must acknowledge, therefore, the existence of a reciprocal relationship between the individual and the community such that the individual influences the growth of the community and the community's efforts influence the growth of the individual. [Priceless Pearl 161]

What is required of our communities in terms of a moral, ethical and social order for individual souls to stay on the path of positive self-knowledge?

Following is a suggested structure that may be implemented by an individual, or by several individuals as an Institute.

1. For an evening create a sanctified environment where, for the time you are gathered, all will scrupulously honor the following:

2. Agree to view each other as spiritual beings, as completely, permanently, unconditionally good souls who have been created in the image of God. [PUP 244]

3. Agree that we will NOT identify each other in terms of the obscuring dust that is on all of our mirrors. [PUP 244]

4. Practice being with another person as a total listener - as did ''Abdu'l-Bahá for all those whom he met. Don't give advice except by "imperceptible" means. [#19]

5. Take turns practicing listening within a structured framework. For example, one person could listen for 5 or 10 or 20 minutes, trying to emulate 'Abdu'l-Baha's complete, loving acceptance, while the other "feels" what it is like to speak his heart in the presence of such loving attention. Then, switch roles and let the other practice listening without speaking. [#19]

6. Allow no judgmental criticism, backbiting or gossip; recognize that the process of removing "obscuring dust" is a "purging" and that it's often not "nice stuff". Remember that what one receives in confidence must be kept in confidence. [DDBC 4.12]

We all need to make a commitment to work on our own issues, AND to providing an environment for others to work on their issues.

We need to push past the fear of asking for support from our community. [BL 8]

Remember that the pull is to forget how important this work is - we need to consciously choose to keep the importance of community support for spiritual transformation in front of us and not to be distracted by the trivial day-to-day things around us.

REFERENCES ON TRANSFORMATION:

1. "The problem with which you are faced is one which concerns and seriously puzzles many of our present-day youth. How to attain spirituality is indeed a question to which every young man and woman must sooner or later try to find a satisfactory answer. It is precisely because no such satisfactory answer has been given or found, that the modern youth finds itself bewildered, and is being consequently carried away by the materialistic forces that are so powerfully undermining the foundations of man's moral and spiritual life.

"Indeed, the chief reason for the evils now rampant in society is the lack of spirituality. The materialistic civilization of our age has so much absorbed the energy and interest of mankind that people in general do no longer feel the necessity of raising themselves above the forces and conditions of their daily material existence. There is not sufficient demand for things that we should call spiritual to differentiate them from the needs and requirements of our physical existence.

"The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man's outlook on life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit.

"It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform. For the core of religious faith is that mystic feeling which unites man with God. This state of spiritual communion can be brought about and maintained by means of meditation and prayer. And this is the reason why Bahá'u'lláh has so much stressed the importance of worship. It is not sufficient for a believer merely to accept and observe the teachings. He should, in addition, cultivate the sense of spirituality which he can acquire chiefly by means of prayer. The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers. It is the soul of man which has first to be fed. And this spiritual nourishment prayer can best provide. Laws and institutions, as viewed by Bahá'u'lláh, can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed. Otherwise religion will degenerate into a mere organization, and becomes a dead thing.

"The believers, particularly the young ones, should therefore fully realize the necessity of praying. For prayer is absolutely indispensable to their inner spiritual development, and this, as already stated, is the very foundation and purpose of the religion of God."

On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Spiritual Foundations, #40.

2. "God created in us a divine holy spirit - the human spirit with its intellectual powers which are above the powers of nature…. This power gives man effectual control over nature. He is enabled to discover reality and bring invisible things into the courts of the visible. Thus he is enabled to render effective the will of God and give it material station…. This is that which should be used for the acquisition and manifestation of the bounties of God, that ye may establish the Kingdom of God among men and attain to happiness in both worlds, the visible and the invisible."

''Abdu'l-Bahá, The Divine Art of Living, pg. 17.

3. "…The purpose and mission of the holy, divine Messengers is the training and advancement of humanity, the cultivation of divine fruits in the gardens of human hearts, the reflection of heavenly effulgence in the mirrors of human souls, the quickening of mental capacity and the increase of spiritual susceptibilities."

''Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 340.

4. "Question. - 'What is the purpose of our lives?'

"''Abdu'l-Bahá - 'To acquire virtues. We come from the earth; why were we transferred from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom - from the plant to the animal kingdom? So that we may attain perfection in each of these kingdoms,… we step into the world of humanity and are gifted with reason, the power of invention, and the forces of the spirit.'"

''Abdu'l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pg. 177.

5. "Another commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another even as I love you. Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condition: that their hearts are filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect kindness and harmony like one soul in different bodies. If they fail in this condition the great blessings will be deferred. Never forget this; look at one another with the eye of perfection; look at Me, follow Me, be as I am;…"

''Abdu'l-Bahá, An Early Pilgrimage, pp. 41-2.

6. "Upon perusing that letter and looking at the names signed to it, such a joy and gladness came over ''Abdu'l-Bahá as is beyond description, and he thanked God that such friends are found in that country, who in utmost joy and fragrance are in union and accord and one in agreement with each other. The more this Covenant is strengthened, the happier, the better, the sweeter it will be and it will thus attract the divine confirmations. If the friends of God are wishing for confirmation in order to enjoy the friendship of the Supreme Concourse, they must exert themselves to confirm and strengthen this Covenant; for the making of a covenant, and an alliance for brotherhood and unity is like unto the irrigation of the tree of life which is conducive to eternal life!

''Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of ''Abdu'l-Bahá, Vol. I, pp. 35-6, or SWAB 243-4.

7. "The new believers must be deepened in the Covenant. This is really the only source of the fire of the love of God."

Shoghi Effendi, The Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. xvi.

8. "All the Bahá'ís, new and old alike, should devote themselves as much as possible to teaching the Faith; they should also realize that the atmosphere of true love and unity which they manifest within the Bahá'í Community will directly affect the public, and be the greatest magnet for attracting people to the Faith and confirming them."

Shoghi Effendi, The Individual and Teaching, #64.

9. The disease which afflicts the body politic is lack of love and absence of altruism. In the hearts of men no real love is found, and the condition is such that, unless their susceptibilities are quickened by some power so that unity, love and accord may develop within them, there can be no healing, no agreement among mankind. Love and unity are the needs of the body politic today.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 171.

10. From separation doth every kind of hurt and harm proceed, but the union of created things doth ever yield most laudable results. From the pairing of even the smallest particles in the world of being are the grace and bounty of God made manifest; and the higher the degree, the more momentous is the union. 'Glory be to Him Who hath created all the pairs, of such things as earth produceth, and out of men themselves, and of things beyond their ken.' And above all other unions is that between human beings, especially when it cometh to pass in the love of God. Thus is the primal oneness made to appear; thus is laid the foundation of love in the spirit.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pg. 119.

11. I am expecting results from this visit and hope that my coming may not be fruitless. The results I expect are these: that the individual soul shall be released from self and desire and freed from the bondage of satanic suggestions. May the mirrors of hearts be cleansed from dust in order that the Sun of Truth may be reflected therein.

Man possesses two kinds of susceptibilities: the natural emotions, which are like dust upon the mirror, and spiritual susceptibilities, which are merciful and heavenly characteristics.

There is a power which purifies the mirror from dust and transforms its reflection into intense brilliancy and radiance so that spiritual susceptibilities may chasten the hearts and heavenly bestowals sanctify them. What is the dust which obscures the mirror? It is attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire; this is the dust which prevents reflection of the rays of the Sun of Reality in the mirror. The natural emotions are blameworthy and are like rust which deprives the heart of the bounties of God. But sincerity, justice, humility, severance, and love for the believers of God will purify the mirror and make it radiant with reflected rays from the Sun of Truth.

It is my hope that you may consider this matter, that you may search out your own imperfections and not think of the imperfections of anybody else. Strive with all your power to be free from imperfections. Heedless souls are always seeking faults in others. What can the hypocrite know of others' faults when he is blind to his own? This is the meaning of the words in the Seven Valleys. It is a guide for human conduct. As long as a man does not find his own faults, he can never become perfect. Nothing is more fruitful for man than the knowledge of his own shortcomings. The Blessed Perfection says, "I wonder at the man who does not find his own imperfections."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 244.

12. Therefore, let your faces be more radiant with hope and heavenly determination to serve the Cause of God, to spread the pure fragrances of the divine rose garden of unity, to awaken spiritual susceptibilities in the hearts of mankind, to kindle anew the spirit of humanity with divine fires and to reflect the glory of heaven to this gloomy world of materialism. When you possess these divine susceptibilities, you will be able to awaken and develop them in others. We cannot give of our wealth to the poor unless we possess it. How can the poor give to the poor? How can the soul that is deprived of the heavenly bounties develop in other souls capacity to receive those bounties?

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 7.

13. "The first thing to do is to acquire a thirst for Spirituality, then Live the Life! Live the Life! Live the Life! The way to acquire this thirst is to meditate upon the future life. Study the Holy Words,… especially study the Holy Utterances of Bahá'u'lláh; Prayer and Meditation, take much time for these two. Then will you know this Great Thirst, and then only can you begin to Live the Life!"

'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Importance of Deepening, #67.

14. "The second condition: Fellowship and love amongst the believers. The divine friends must be attracted to and enamored of each other and ever be ready and willing to sacrifice their own lives for each other. Should one soul from amongst the believers meet another, it must be as though a thirsty one with parched lips has reached to the fountain of the water of life, or a lover has met his true beloved. For one of the greatest divine wisdoms regarding the appearance of the Holy Manifestations is this: The souls may come to know each other and become intimate with each other; the power of the love of God may make all of them the waves of one sea,… When the most great bestowal reveals itself in the hearts of the believers, the world of nature will be transformed, the darkness of the contingent being will vanish, and heavenly illumination will be obtained."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, pg. 19.

15. "In the spiritual development of man, a stage of purgation is indispensable; for, it is while passing through it that over-rated material needs are made to appear in their proper light. Unless society learns to attribute more importance to spiritual matters, it would never be fit to enter the Golden Era foretold by Bahá'u'lláh. The present calamities are parts of this process of purgation; through them, alone, will man learn his lesson. They are to teach the nations to view things internationally. They are to make the individual attribute more importance to his moral and spiritual welfare. In such a process of purgation, when all humanity is in the throes of dire suffering, the Bahá'ís should not hope to remain unaffected. Should we consider the beam that is in our own eye, we would immediately find that these sufferings are also meant for ourselves, who claim to have attained. Such a world crisis is necessary to awaken us to the importance of our duty and the carrying on of our task. Suffering will increase our energy in setting before humanity the road to salvation. It will move us from our repose; for, we are far from doing our best in teaching the Cause and in conveying the message with which we have been entrusted."

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í News, January 1932.

16. O army of God! Beware lest ye harm any soul, or make any heart to sorrow; lest ye wound any man with your words, be he known to you or a stranger, be he friend or foe. Pray ye for all; ask ye that all be blessed, all be forgiven. Beware, beware, lest any of you seek vengeance, even against one who is thirsting for your blood. Beware, beware, lest ye offend the feelings of another, even though he be an evil-doer, and he wish you ill. Look ye not upon the creatures, turn ye to their Creator. See ye not the never-yielding people, see but the Lord of Hosts. Gaze ye not down upon the dust, gaze upward at the shining sun, which hath caused every patch of darksome earth to glow with light.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pg. 73.

17. In this condition physical bodies play no part: the command and authority are in the hand of the spirit. When the spirit becometh all inclusive, the spiritual union shall be attained. Night and day endeavor to attain perfect harmony; be thoughtful concerning your own spiritual developments and close your eyes to the shortcomings of one another.

By good deeds, pure lives, humility and meekness be a lesson for others.

'Abdu'l-Bahá wisheth no one's heart to feel hurt, nor will he be a source of grief to any one; for there is no greater satisfaction than being a source of joy to the hearts.

I ask God that ye may become like angels of heaven, sources of happiness to souls.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pg. 23.

18. "Be ye loving fathers to the orphan, and a refuge to the helpless, and a treasury for the poor, and a cure for the ailing. Be ye the helpers of every victim of oppression, the patrons of the disadvantaged. Think ye at all times of rendering some service to every member of the human race…. Let each of God's loved ones centre his attention on this: to be the Lord's mercy to man, to be the Lord's grace."

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, pg. 3.

19. "But the day dawned with splendid sunshine, and I went to His room in the Mansion of Bahjí. He spoke about teaching. He said: 'A kindly approach and loving behavior toward the people are the first requirements for teaching the Cause. The teacher must carefully listen to whatever a person has to say - even though his talk may consist only of vain imaginings and blind repetitions of the opinions of others. One should not resist or engage in argument. The teacher must avoid disputes which will end in stubborn refusal or hostility, because the other person will feel overpowered and defeated. Therefore, he will be more inclined to reject the Cause. One should rather say, "Maybe you are right, but kindly consider the question from this other point of view." Consideration, respect, and love encourage people to listen and do not force them to respond with hostility. They are convinced because they see that your purpose is not to defeat them, but to convey truth, to manifest courtesy, and to show forth heavenly attributes. This will encourage the people to be fair. Their spiritual natures will respond, and, by the bounty of God, they will find themselves recreated.

"Consider the way in which the Master teaches the people. He listens very carefully to the most hollow and senseless talk. He listens so intently that the speaker says to himself, 'He is trying to learn from me.' Then the Master gradually and very carefully, by means that the other person does not perceive, puts him on the right path and endows him with a fresh power of understanding."

Bahá'u'lláh , quoted in, Mírzá Haydar-'Ali's, Stories from the Delight of Hearts, pp. 109-10.

20. "Let the white make a supreme effort in their resolve to contribute their share to the solution of this problem, to abandon once for all their usually inherent and at times subconscious sense of superiority, to correct their tendency towards revealing a patronizing attitude towards the members of the other race, to persuade them through their intimate, spontaneous and informal association with them of the genuineness of their friendship and the sincerity of their intentions, and to master their impatience of any lack of responsiveness on the part of a people who have received, for so long a period, such grievous and slow-healing wounds."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, pg. 33.

21. "In their relations amongst themselves as fellow-believers, let them not be content with the mere exchange of cold and empty formalities often connected with the organizing of banquets, receptions, consultative assemblies, and lecture-halls. Let them rather, as equal co-sharers in the spiritual benefits conferred upon them by Bahá'u'lláh, arise and, with the aid and counsel of their local and national representatives, supplement these official functions with those opportunities which only a close and intimate social intercourse can adequately provide. In their homes, in their hours of relaxation and leisure, in the daily contact of business transactions, in the association of their children, whether in their study-classes, their playgrounds, and club-rooms, in short under all possible circumstances, however insignificant they appear,…"

Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Administration, pg. 130.

22. "The administrative strongholds of a Faith, bound to be subjected on the one hand, to a severe spiritual challenge from within, through the inevitable impact of these devastating influences [i.e., materialism, racialism, political corruption, etc.] on its infant strength, and, on the other, to the onslaught of ecclesiastical leaders, the traditional defenders of religious orthodoxy from without, must be multiplied and reinforced for the purpose of warding off the inevitable attacks of the assailants, of vindicating the ideals and principles which animate their defenders, and of ensuring the ultimate victory and ascendency of the Faith itself over the nefarious elements seeking to undermine it from within, and its powerful detractors aiming at its extinction from without."

Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, pg. 154.

23. If ye meet the abased or the down-trodden, turn not away disdainfully from them, for the King of Glory ever watcheth over them and surroundeth them with such tenderness as none can fathom except them that have suffered their wishes and desires to be merged in the Will of your Lord, the Gracious, the All-Wise. O ye rich ones of the earth! Flee not from the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay rather befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the woes with which God's inscrutable Decree hath caused him to be afflicted. By the righteousness of God! Whilst ye consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking upon you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling your names and glorifying your action. Blessed are the learned that pride not themselves on their attainments; and well is it with the righteous that mock not the sinful, but rather conceal their misdeeds, so that their own shortcomings may remain veiled to men's eyes.

Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings, pages 314-15

24. "By this is meant that even as the human body in this world, which is outwardly composed of different limbs and organs, is in reality a closely integrated, coherent entity, similarly the structure of the physical world is like unto a single being whose limbs and member are inseparably linked together.

"Were one to observe with an eye that discovereth the realities of all things, it would become clear that the greatest relationship that bindeth the world of being together lieth in the range of created things themselves, and that co-operation, mutual aid and reciprocity are essential characteristics in the unified body of the world of being, inasmuch as all created things are closely related together and each is influenced by the other or deriveth benefit therefrom, either directly or indirectly.

"Consider for instance how one group of created things constituteth the vegetable kingdom, and another is the animal kingdom. Each of these two maketh use of certain elements in the air on which its own life dependeth, while each increaseth the quantity of such elements as area essential for the life of the other. In other words, the growth and development of the vegetable world is impossible without the existence of the animal kingdom. Of like kind are the relationships that exist among all created things. Hence it was stated that co-operation and reciprocity are essential properties which are inherent in the unified system of the world of existence, and without which the entire creation would be reduced to nothingness."(24)

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Huqúqu'lláh: A Compilation, in CC, extract #1159

25. The most important principle of divine philosophy is the oneness of the world of humanity, the unity of mankind, the bond conjoining East and West, the tie of love which blends human hearts.

'Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg 31

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