14 April 2022
Istijlál, 06 Jalál (Glory), 179 B.E
My sister’s geraniums are bursting with blooms!
The eighth slide in the presentation, Let Your Vision Be World-Embracing, focuses on how to account for progress — the distance traversed — along the “Timeline of the Divine Plan.”
There are several ways one can look at this timeline: as a historical record from the beginning of time and that first bolt of light and energy poring through small dot in the universe leading to the brilliantly bright realization that everything that is was once that singular speck; or as a series of paradigm shifts in which the former spawns the next during a period of acute discontinuity; or as flow of multiple histories wherein each actor has a unique view of the universe and a set of experiences that support it which makes it just as valid as the view of anyone else; or perhaps it frames the events associated with the emergence, growth, and development of the Bahá’í Faith into a sustainable, global, social organism capable of catalyzing worldwide change. Regardless, it makes for interesting conversations.
The “Quoted” section below offers several selections about “distance traversed” from the Bahá’í writings beginning with Bahá’u’lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Faith, to His son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, to Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Faith, to the Universal House of Justice whose guidance shapes the development of the worldwide Bahá’í community well into the future.
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O my brother! Take thou the step of the spirit, so that, swift as the twinkling of an eye, thou mayest flash through the wilds of remoteness and bereavement, attain the Riḍván of everlasting reunion, and in one breath commune with the heavenly Spirits. For with human feet thou canst never hope to traverse these immeasurable distances, nor attain thy goal. Peace be upon him whom the light of truth guideth unto all truth, and who, in the name of God, standeth in the path of His Cause, upon the shore of true understanding. 1
Awake, the eye sees only a short distance, but in the realm of dreams one who is in the East may see the West. Awake, he sees only the present; in sleep he beholds the future. Awake, by the fastest means he travels at most seventy miles in an hour; in sleep he traverses East and West in the blink of an eye. For the spirit has two modes of travel: without means, or spiritual travel, and with means, or material travel—as birds that fly, or as being carried in a vehicle. 2
However dark the outlook, however laborious the task, however strange and inhospitable the environment, however vast the distances that must be traversed, however scarce the amenities of life, however irksome the means of travel, however annoying the restrictions, however listless and confused the minds of the peoples and races contacted, however trying the setbacks that may be suffered, we must, under no circumstances, either falter or flinch. Our reliance on the unfailing grace of an all-loving, all-preserving, ever-sustaining, ever-watchful Providence, must, however much we may be buffeted by circumstances, remain unshaken until the very end. Shall we not, when hardships seethe about us, and our hearts momentarily quail, recall the ardent desire so poignantly voiced by ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá in those immortal Tablets that enshrine forever His last wishes for His chosen disciples: “O that I could travel, even though on foot and in the utmost poverty, to these regions, and, raising the call of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ in cities, villages, mountains, deserts and oceans, promote the Divine teachings! This, alas, I cannot do. How intensely I deplore it! Please God, ye may achieve it.” 3
Fifteen years have elapsed since, on an occasion such as this, we gave to the body of Counsellors assembled in the Holy Land the first intimation of the course the Bahá’í community would have to take, if it was to accelerate the dual process of its expansion and consolidation—a course which its accumulated experience had prepared it to steer with confidence. No need to remark on the distance traversed in a short decade and a half. The record of accomplishments speaks for itself. Today we invite you to begin deliberations on the next stage of the great enterprise on which the Bahá’í world is embarked, a stage that will stretch from Riḍván 2011 to Riḍván 2016, constituting the first of two consecutive Five Year Plans that will culminate at the centenary of the inauguration of the Faith’s Formative Age. 4
Three brief years remain until the centenary of the Master’s passing, when Bahá’ís the world over will gather and take account of the distance traversed over the first century of the Formative Age. May His loved ones, individually and collectively, little by little and day by day, increasingly embody His counsels: to be united in the Cause and firm in the Covenant; to avoid calumny and never speak ill of others; to see no strangers but regard all as members of one family; to set aside divergent theories and conflicting views and pursue a single purpose and common goal; to ensure that the love of Bahá’u’lláh has so mastered every organ, part, and limb as to leave no effect from the promptings of the human world; to arise with heart and soul and in one accord to teach the Cause; to march in serried lines, pressed together, each supporting the others; to cultivate good character, perseverance, strength, and determination; to know the value of this precious Faith, obey its teachings, walk in this road that is drawn straight, and show this way to the people. 5
- Baháʼuʼlláh. The Kitáb-i-Íqán: The Book of Certitude Revealed by Bahá’u’lláh. Translated by Shoghi Effendi. Wilmette, Ill.: Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1950, 43. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/bahaullah/kitab-i-iqan/3#654910007 [return]
- ʻAbduʾl-Bahá. Some Answered Questions. Translated by Laura Clifford Barney. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʾí Publishing Trust, 1981, 227. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/some-answered-questions/10#009799446 [return]
- Effendi, Shoghi. This Decisive Hour: Messages from Shoghi Effendi to the North American Baháʾís, 1932-1946. Baháʾí Publishing Trust, 1992, 127. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/shoghi-effendi/decisive-hour/7#988050800 [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “Letter to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors.” Bahá’í Reference Library, December 28, 2010. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20101228_001/1#517599639 [return]
- Universal House of Justice. “Letter to the Bahá’ís of the World.” Bahá’í Reference Library, 26 Nov. 2018, https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/the-universal-house-of-justice/messages/20181126_001/1#923897221. [return]