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Resources for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Excerpts from Messages of the Universal House of Justice Concerning the Bicentenary Celebrations

From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, 18 May 2016:

… these Holy Days should be viewed as special opportunities for the friends to reach out to the widest possible cross-section of society and to all those with whom they share a connection—whether through a family tie or common interest, an occupation or field of study, neighbourly relations or merely chance acquaintance—so that all may rejoice in the appearance, exactly two hundred years before, of One Who was to be the Bearer of a new Message for humankind.

The locus of activity for the bicentenaries is to be at the local level. The House of Justice anticipates that in countless places across the world, both rural settings and urban centres, the friends will find creative ways to honour the Twin Manifestations Whose lives and sacred missions will be recalled on Their anniversaries. … the most distinguishing feature of these bicentenaries will be a tremendous flourishing of activity by Bahá’ís and their friends in local communities. …

At the heart of these festivities must be a concerted effort to convey a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries rose successively above the horizon of the world. Of course, this will take different forms in different contexts, extending to a myriad artistic and cultural expressions, including songs, audio-visual presentations, publications and books. Such initiatives, coupled with widespread celebrations that are both uplifting and reverent, are also sure to spark the curiosity and wonder of many who may as yet be unfamiliar with the names of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. However, the real transformative power of the Faith is likely to be perceived more readily still if people experience how worship and meaningful service are being woven into the fabric of the lives of Bahá’ís everywhere. Indeed, from the community-building activities of the Five Year Plan emerges a pattern of collective life within which anyone can discern the vivifying influence of the divine teachings brought by God’s Manifestations. Each bicentenary will doubtless kindle a spirit of faithful endeavour that will permeate all the noble undertakings of the friends.

From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá’ís of the World, 31 October 2017:

… We urge you to see in each person who responded to your invitation a potential protagonist in the community-building process. Consider how conditions may be created that would enable many to walk this path together. Connected to the transformative power of the Revelation, every soul can draw closer to Bahá’u’lláh, grow in capacity, find joy in service, and learn to assist others. …

2018 Ridván Message to the Bahá’ís of the World:

… This is a period in which to recall the extraordinary heroism of the Martyr-Herald of our Faith, Whose dramatic ministry thrust humanity into a new era of history. Though separated from our own time by two centuries, the society in which the Báb appeared resembles the present-day world for the sense of oppression and for the longing of so many to find answers to slake the soul’s thirst to know. In considering how this two-hundred-year anniversary might befittingly be marked, we recognize that these festivities will have a special character of their own. Nevertheless, we anticipate a flourishing of activity no less rich and no less inclusive than that which accompanied the bicentenary just passed. It is an occasion to which every community, every household, every heart will undoubtedly look forward with eager expectation.

The months ahead will also be a time for calling to mind the lives of the Báb’s intrepid followers—heroines and heroes whose faith was expressed in matchless, sacrificial acts that will forever adorn the annals of the Cause. Their qualities of fearlessness, consecration, and detachment from all save God impress themselves upon everyone who learns of their ventures. How striking, too, is the young age at which so many of those lionhearts made their indelible mark on history. During the coming period, may their example give courage to the entire company of the faithful—not least to the youth, who are once more summoned to the vanguard of a movement aimed at nothing less than the transformation of the world.

This, then, is our bright, bright hope. In the six cycles that lie between this Riḍván and the next bicentenary—indeed, throughout the remaining three years of the current Plan—let the same all-consuming, all-surpassing love that spurred the Báb’s disciples to the diffusion of the divine light inspire you to great deeds. …

2019 Ridván Message to the Bahá’ís of the World:

The prospects for advancing this spiritual enterprise are made the more thrilling by the approach of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Báb. Like the bicentenary that preceded it, this anniversary is a moment incalculably precious. … The measure of what might be possible in the coming two cycles is known to all from the experience of the bicentenary two years ago, and all that was learned on that occasion must be channelled into the plans for the Twin Holy Birthdays this year. As the two-hundred-year anniversary draws near, we will offer frequent supplications on your behalf in the Sacred Shrines, praying that your efforts to befittingly honour the Báb will succeed in advancing the Cause He foretold.

Additional Resources:

Dawn of the Light Movie and Bicentenary 2019 Resources

Bahá’í Media Bank Special Bicentenary Collection 

 Official Resources

Bicentenary Resources

Marking the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Bicentennial Resource Library

Resources for the Bicentennial of the Birth of the Bab

Baha’i Teachings Articles on the Bab

Baha’i Blog Articles on the Bab

Special Ideas Bahai Bicentenary Materials

Luke Slott – Gate of Heaven

9 Star Media

Bicentenary Poems and Prose

Which quotes and resource sites are your favorites?  Are you aware of any I’ve missed?  Post your comments below.

When to Postpone a Discussion

When you notice that a stage has been reached when enmity and threats are about to occur, you should immediately postpone discussion of the subject, until wranglings, disputations, and loud talk vanish, and a propitious time is at hand. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 178)

Recently I was talking to someone who wanted to speak more kindly to her family members, upon whom she was dumping her rage and frustration.  She wondered what advice I could give her and all I thought of was to use “words as mild as milk”, which I attributed to the Bahá’í Writings, and it really seemed to have an effect on her.  I thanked God for this teaching opportunity.  I wish I’d thought of this one, though, as it’s a lot more specific.

Immediately postpone the discussion:  walk away, change the subject, don’t add any more fuel to the fire.  Wait for a propitious time to come back to it:  perhaps it will be as quickly as after taking a deep breath and saying some prayer together.  Perhaps it will be after you have something to eat, or get some much needed sleep, or after you take your problems to God and asking Him to find a solution.

Sometimes people just have no reserves when they are hungry, angry, lonely or tired or sometimes people think they have to solve the problems themselves and forget to give them to God.

Knowing I can walk away from discussions that are getting heated, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness

 

 

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A New Way of Looking at Service

Every aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Bahá’u’lláh:  the love and respect one has for one’s parents, the pursuit of one’s education, the nurturing of good health, the acquiring of a trade or profession, one’s behaviour towards others and the upholding of a high moral standard, one’s marriage and the bringing up of one’s children; one’s activities in teaching the Faith and the building up the strength of the Baha’i community . . . and, not least, to take time each day to read the Writings and say the Obligatory Prayer, which are the source of growing spiritual strength, understanding, and attachment to God.  (Universal House of Justice, to the European Baha’i youth Council, 7 December 1992)

Where has this quote been all my Baha’i life?  I realized when reading it, how narrow was my understanding of service.  I used to think that service was just participating in the core activities and raising up the community building process within our clusters.  I can see how I would get that impression because study of the Ruhi curriculum teaches us that this is what means to walk a path of service, and when the Statistics Officer contacts me to see what I’ve been doing, these are the only things they want to track.  Living in an inactive cluster and being an introvert, happier teaching and serving in an online environment, I have beaten myself up mercilessly for not being a good Baha’i, because I’m not currently serving in my cluster the way I think I “should”.  So I was very grateful to find this quote today!

I relate better to bullet points, which I can use as a checklist, so let’s take these one at a time:

  1. the love and respect one has for one’s parents
  2. the pursuit of one’s education
  3. the nurturing of good health
  4. the acquiring of a trade or profession
  5. one’s behaviour towards others
  6. the upholding of a high moral standard
  7. one’s marriage
  8. the bringing up of one’s children
  9. one’s activities in teaching the Faith
  10. building up the strength of the Baha’i community
  11. reading the Writings
  12. saying the Obligatory Prayer

Were any of these a surprise to you?  I was certainly surprised that they are all aspects of service.  I was happy to see that nurturing good health is also part of service, because of course, we can’t serve when we aren’t healthy.  I love belonging to such a compassionate religion and am grateful for the House of Justice elaborating on this issue!

Knowing that service is much broader than just “walking a path”, I can relax and I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Learning How to Be Happy

 

 

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When We Argue, We’re Both Wrong

If two souls quarrel and contend about a question of the divine questions, differing and disputing, both are wrong. The wisdom of this incontrovertible law of God is this: That between two souls from amongst the believers of God, no contention and dispute may arise; that they may speak with each other with infinite amity and love. Should there appear the least trace of controversy, they must remain silent, and both parties must continue their discussions no longer, but ask the reality of the question from the Interpreter. This is the irrefutable command!  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 56)

I love this quote and find it interesting that it’s embedded within the Tablets of the Divine Plan, our marching orders for spreading the Faith to every corner of the planet.  This incontrovertible law and irrefutable command of God is important to be embedded into the hearts of all travel-teachers and pioneers, because it means we don’t have to be right.  We don’t have to prove a point.  We don’t have to engage in any controversial discussion.  We can just listen and approach every interaction with a humble posture of learning.  For someone addicted to adrenaline and drama, this is such a relief!  It’s hard on my adrenals and my liver to keep fighting for my position. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be in a marriage or a job or a community, where this was taken seriously?

It can be a challenge to learn to speak with infinite amity and love, remaining silent and looking to the Baha’i Writings for some insights.  First we need to have the discipline of turning to the Writings so we can develop the habit of “asking the reality of the question from the Interpreter”.  Then we need to learn how to share them with “words as mild as milk”, and then leave the results to God, humbly asking Him to plant the truth in the hearts of those we teach.

Knowing I don’t have to dispute with anyone, and can remain silent and avoid controversy, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Letting Go of Criticizing Others

 

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A New (to me) Definition of Service

At the same time we must be sensitive to the fact that Bahá’í artists may sometimes feel outside the mainstream of community life because they are unsure as to what form their service might take. They may feel their contributions are not valued if service to the Faith tends to be equated only with serving on committees or Assemblies.   (letter from the International Teaching Centre addressed to the Continental Counsellors, date unknown)

Most of my service to the Faith is done online, through this blog and my books, and through interactions with my readers and not at the level of my (inactive, pre-milestone one cluster).  It’s easy for me to beat myself up for not serving in the “right” way, especially when the statistics officer calls and wants to know which core activities are happening.  This quote really brought comfort to my heart, hearing this from an Institution of the Faith, even if it’s not “authoritative”, I can’t find the date and I can’t find it online.

Then I came across this “new” definition of service, which I’d never seen before, and which takes all the pressure off my concerns about not serving at the cluster level.  Here’s the quote:

…every aspect of a person’s life is an element of his or her service to Baha’u’llah: the love and respect one has for one’s parents; the pursuit of one’s education; the nurturing of good health; the acquiring of a trade or profession; one’s behavior towards others and the upholding of a high moral standard; one’s marriage and the bringing up of one’s children; one’s activities in teaching the Faith and the building up the strength of the Baha’i community, whether this be in such simple matters as attending the Nineteen Day Feast or the observance of Baha’i Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith; and, not least, to take time each day to read the Writings and say the Obligatory Prayer, which are the source of growing spiritual strength, understanding, and attachment to God.  (The Universal House of Justice, December 7, 1992, European Baha’i Youth Council)

Here are the 12 elements of service embedded in this quote:

Service to Bahá’u’lláh includes:

  1. the love and respect one has for one’s parents
  2. the pursuit of one’s education
  3. the nurturing of good health
  4. the acquiring of a trade or profession
  5. one’s behavior towards others
  6. the upholding of a high moral standard
  7. one’s marriage
  8. the bringing up of one’s children
  9. one’s activities in teaching the Faith
  10. building up the strength of the Baha’i community (attending the Nineteen Day Feasts or Holy Days, or in more demanding tasks required by service in the administration of the Faith)
  11. to take time each day to read the Writings
  12. to take time each day to say the Obligatory Prayer

Knowing I can relax and stop feeling guilty for not more actively participating in the community building process, particularly at the cluster level, I am grateful!

What jumped out for you as you read through today’s meditation?  I’d love it if you would share so we can all expand our knowledge of the Writings!

If you liked this meditation, you might also like my book Fear into Faith:  Overcoming Anxiety

 

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