Friday, September 5, 2008

No development without emotional stirring, no achievements without sacrifice

Here is an anecdote about our role as individuals from a talk held by a prominent Bahá'í recently:

No development and spiritual transformation can take place without our emotions being stirred, and no achievements can be accomplished without sacrifice. The goal ahead of us is, to

1) prepare ourselves spiritually

2) do what is our own unique part with a pure motive

3) ask the Concourse on High for guidance and leave the rest to the Almighty

4) prepare ourselves to receive the answer when it comes.

Also be aware that time is short.
Try to make some time so that you can do more of the things that make your heart leap in your chest with the feeling of being part of something BIG - something much bigger than both little you and I, and six billion other souls can comprehend.

If it doesn't come to anything, you can safely suppose that it was not meant to be and perhaps does not fit into God's Greater Plan.

In general, what will benefit us most is to center our energies in whatever concerns the well-being of mankind.

(Some relevant passages from the writings:)

"Let your vision be world-embracing, rather than confined to your own self."

Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 87

"Forget your own selves, and turn your eyes towards your neighbor. Bend your energies to whatever may foster the education of men."

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings, p. 9

Monday, September 1, 2008


Here is a concise book review of the recent important publication from the International Teaching Center, with a Foreword by the Universal House of Justice.

The book is for sale through Baha'i booksellers/Publishing Trusts. Pasted at the end of this blog is the text of the book's introduction.

CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland, 1 September 2008


"Attaining the Dynamics of Growth"



What a very moving document indeed, seeing the friends in different continents engaged in the same activities as ourselves, striving to present Baha’u’llah’s Message ‘’in a manner both forthcoming and inviting’’ (message dated 27 December 2005 written by the Universal House of Justice to the Conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors). This document picks one advanced cluster from each continent, gives us an account of their activities as they advance the process of entry by troops and finishes with an inspiring closing analysis.

For anyone who usually doesn’t read the introduction to a document or book or other, I would highly encourage you to read this introduction ( by the Universal House of Justice) as it puts you in the right frame of mind. A glimpse of the introduction; at the beginning the Universal House of Justice tells us ‘’you will, we hope, not be content only to read the narrative but will try to identify the principles, qualities, and approaches that have made possible the progress achieved.’’

First is London. We learn about their Intensive Programmes of Growth, how the teaching teams played a pivotal role in moving the process, utilising study circles as environments for teaching, their challenges and glimpses of their growth. I very much enjoyed the stories too.
Next up was Norte del Cauca (Colombia). This is where the Ruhi Institute was born. We read about the mobilisation of the friends to teach, the multiplication of core activities, being more systematic in their Intensive Programmes of Growth. As their human resources were increasing one of their challenges identified was to empower the friends to acquire a greater consciousness of their responsibility to contribute to community life. Joyfully at the end of this case study we are once again reminded that all of theirs activities were spiritual enterprises.
Bihar Sharif (India). An amazing story of how the Bahá’í community transformed from the grass roots up through the acts of individuals, how they manage large-scale expansion and consolidation and in building capacity in the next generation (children and junior youth).
Tiriki West (Kenya). We read about how the local population was very receptive to the Faith but consolidation was a major hurdle and how it was then addressed. We learn about community life, teaching teams and the rapid expansion of children’s classes and junior youth groups.
Finally we visit South Tarawa, Kiribati (located in the South Pacific Ocean). This case study focuses heavily on the involvement of youth in the process of expansion and consolidation. There is also a lovely piece on reflection meetings.

After the five case studies we come to the closing analysis. The closing analysis is like the ‘ending of a good book’ and so I shall not spoil it for you. Needless to say, reading each case study carefully will enhance your appreciation of the ending.


If you are a US-Baha'i, the whole book is available (with a password) through the national website ( in PDF-format (a pretty large file, about 60 MB).

Attaining the dynamics of growth

Glimpses from five continents

Prepared by the International Teaching Centre

Baháí World Centre

April 2008


To the delegates attending the Tenth International Bahá’í Convention . 2

London, United Kingdom . 5

Norte del Cauca, Colombia . 15

Bihar Sharif, India . 25

Tiriki West, Kenya . 35

South Tarawa, Kiribati . 45

Acceleration of Learning . 55

To the delegates attending the Tenth International Bahá’í Convention

In just a few years, the intensive programme of growth has emerged as a powerful means for the expansion and consolidation of the Faith on a large scale. Leading the process of learning that impels progress are scores of clusters where the friends have, through painstaking, systematic effort, come to understand how best to implement the cycles of activity that constitute such a programme. So instructive is the experience of these clusters, we asked the International Teaching Centre to choose one example from each continent and prepare a document that would demonstrate at once the diversity of conditions in which the believers everywhere are labouring and the coherent vision that unites them as they advance the process of entry by troops. The document consists of five case studies and a closing analysis. It is inspiring indeed, and we commend it to your study.

While the case studies offer an impressive account of the activity in each cluster, you will, we hope, not be content only to read the narrative but will try to identify the principles, qualities, and approaches that have made possible the progress achieved. What should become clear to you is how aptly the friends and institutions in the clusters have managed to exploit the framework for action referred to in our 27 December 2005 message to breathe the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation into places as diverse as the crowded city of London and the tiny island group of Kiribati.

Immediately apparent from the description of all five clusters is the degree to which the friends have relied on the power of divine assistance; this has fortified them in the field of action and enabled them to persevere in the face of inevitable difficulties. Equally evident is the sense of purpose that animates their endeavours—a purpose complemented by the attitude of learning they have espoused. Even more striking, however, is the way these attributes are perpetuated in the body of believers as it grows in size, for in all cases they have come to characterize not only individual action but also the community’s as a whole. So focused is the collective energy of the friends as they carry out the central tasks of the Five Year Plan, whether in taking individual initiative or participating in organized campaigns, that they are catching the first glimpses of what it means for their powers to be multiplied in unified action.

In reading the case studies, you will note how the approaches adopted and the system of administration employed serve as means for facilitating the dynamics of such unified action. In every cluster, fellowship and support are the watchwords in this respect. Whether they are paying a visit to a family’s home to draw them into a conversation about the Faith or helping one another to perform acts of service as part of their study of the institute courses, it is the joy of accompanying other souls on their spiritual journey that motivates the believers.

This same motivating force guides the institutions and agencies operating in the cluster in their efforts to administer the intensive programme of growth. Clearly the complexity of the coordination schemes in the five clusters varies to some extent. Yet, irrespective of the level of complexity, the administrative mechanisms in place represent a response to the desire of an increasing number of friends who are eager to express the ardour of their faith in action; these provide them with the support needed to participate in teaching teams, to host devotional meetings, to conduct children’s classes, to form junior youth groups, and to establish study circles. That the institutions and agencies involved are able to maintain such a responsive form of administration testifies to the high degree of organizational skill and flexibility they have attained.

In the closing analysis, the International Teaching Centre examines the strategies being employed to transfer the experience gained in advanced clusters, such as the five described here, to those in earlier stages of growth. The effect of such transference has been remarkable. What sometimes required several years for the friends in one cluster to accomplish can now be learned in another in a relatively short span of time. Often within a matter of months, as pointed out by the Teaching Centre, a dynamic pattern of activity, reflecting the equal emphasis placed on the twin processes of expansion and consolidation, can be established. Invariably, the believers take immediate ownership for the programme of growth, and unity of thought is soon reached. As they begin to put into practice what they have learned through the study of institute courses, especially related to direct teaching methods, they see their efforts confirmed and preconceived notions about the lack of receptivity fall away. Their commitment to the process of growth is raised to higher and higher levels as they are drawn into decision making at the reflection meeting. Plans laid down by the institutions and agencies serving the cluster become increasingly effective as their ability to interpret the experience acquired by the friends is gradually sharpened. They are able to think strategically, to set priorities, and to use resources judiciously. Moreover, they identify believers capable of shouldering added responsibilities in pursuit of plans and channel the energies of growing numbers in service to the Cause. The community thrives as it lovingly embraces new believers. In short, the process of capacity building in the three protagonists of the Plan accelerates at a tremendous rate. It is this development that heartens us most and which gives us confidence that the potential of the Five Year Plan will be realized.

The Universal House of Justice

Ridván 2008

"I become better friends with people when I have spiritual conversations with them"

Here are some inspiring and helpful stories about teaching methods and observations (red color added).


CommuNIqué - Newsletter of the Bahá'í Community in Northern Ireland
1 September 2008 CE



These are actual quotes from people involved in activities in the “Northern Lights” Cluster. They are shared with us by the Area Teaching Committee. These aren’t “Dear Friends, We must….” exhortations—these are the real thing, in “handy bite-size chunks”!

1. How did a new believer come to recognize Bahá'u'lláh?

“We met someone at a social occasion who seemed very interested in the Faith so we arranged to visit her the following week to tell her more.
We went to her house and used ‘Anna’s presentation’ to explain the Faith and covered up to the story of the Báb stopping along the way for discussion.
Soon after she came to our place and we continued the presentation with her. After the presentation we asked her what she thought about it. She said she was deeply affected by it. We asked her if she believed in Bahá'u'lláh and she said yes. We then explained that as Bahá'ís there are laws we all follow and an administration that we must obey. She accepted and declared.
We learned the power of ‘Anna’s presentation’ to help seekers recognize the station of Bahá'u'lláh.”

2. Accompaniment

“I was asked to join a study circle and assist in the accompaniment of the study circle participants.
All the participants naturally become friends during the study circle and with one new friend we would meet up and talk about spiritual things, study a prayer, go to the cinema and other social events.
This new friend had many questions about the Faith and was investigating it, so naturally I offered to share a presentation of the Faith which he was very happy with. I shared ‘Anna’s presentation’ in my own words and with a booklet beside me for prompting.
Importantly I believe I made it clear to him that Bahá'ís believe in Bahá'u'lláh as the Manifestation of God for today and that if he wished to join us in building a new world he was very welcome.
I learned during and after the presentation that he knew the Faith was global and was for everyone.
He said he was still investigating the Faith. Being direct and clear with people gives them the opportunity to make informed decisions. I will accompany him in his investigation of the Faith.”

3. Making lists to help me be more systematic

“My teaching team met prior to the expansion phase. At that meeting and after I made a list of people I wanted to share the Faith with and what I needed to do with each individual.
I decided to visit a new friend with the intention of raising our conversations to a spiritual nature. It was excellent. We talked about the importance of work, family, building healthy relationships and much more. Time flew by as we both really enjoyed sharing our thoughts. I explained that many of my thoughts and views are inspired from the Writings of the Bahá'í Faith.
He was impressed to hear that as Bahá’í we try to serve mankind. This led into me sharing about the core activities. I explained and gave him the vision of what study circles are for and invited him to join one.
He said he would like to. I am learning that I become better friends with people when you have spiritual conversations as you then begin to understand better their thoughts and views on life. People are more than happy to hear about the Faith. I wonder if I am sometimes hesitant!
He is my new friend and naturally I plan to home visit him and meet up at social events. I’m sure also that sometime soon I will share ‘Anna’s presentation with him’. He is on my list of people who want to do a book 1 and as a trained tutor I am working on inviting others to form a study circle.”

There are many more examples of progress and learning in the Area Teaching Committee’s newsletter. The Bahá'í Council recently asked the ATC to make it available to the Friends throughout NI—please read it, you’ll enjoy and learn!