From: Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File, compiled by Helen Bassett Hornby, India Bahá’í Publishing Trust, (c) National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Ecuador, 4th revised edition 1996 (from the section: VI. CALAMITIES AND CRISES – the following is numbered in accordance with the book edition noted here; capitalization of sections in accordance with this book, as well. Other searches can illumine other Bahá’í information available on this subject at http://www.bahai.org/ )
NOTE: In cases where quotes from this book are available online in the Bahá’í Reference Library I will be using those citations
VI. CALAMITIES AND CRISES
422. The World is in Travail
“The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.”
423. Powerful Forces Are Operating to Bring to a Climax this Portentous Century
“Both within and without the Cause of God, powerful forces are operating to bring to a climax the twin tendencies of this portentous century. Among the many evidences which reveal this process may be cited, on the one hand, the continual increase of lawlessness, terrorism, economic confusion, immorality and the growing danger from the proliferation of weapons of destruction, and on the other, the worldwide, divinely propelled expansion, consolidation and rapid emergence into the limelight of world affairs of the Cause itself, a process crowned by the wonderful efflorescence of Mount Carmel, the mountain of God, whose Divine springtime is now so magnificently burgeoning.”
424. The People of Bahá Are Assured of Divine Guidance
“…the Pen of the Center of the Covenant has repeatedly prophesied the intolerable calamities which must beset this wayward humanity ere it heeds the life-giving Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh.
“Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is the impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings, the source of life on earth.
“Every discerning eye clearly sees that the early stages of this chaos have daily manifestations affecting the structure of human society; its destructive forces are uprooting time-honored institutions which were a haven and refuge for the inhabitants of the earth in bygone days and centuries, and around which revolved all human affairs. The same destructive forces are also deranging the political, economic, scientific, literary, and moral equilibrium of the world and are destroying the fairest fruits of the present civilization. Political machinations of those in authority have placed the seal of obsolescence upon the root principles of the world’s order. Greed and passion, deceit, hypocrisy, tyranny, and pride are dominating features afflicting human relations. Discoveries and inventions, which are the fruit of scientific and technological advancements, have become the means and tools of mass extermination and destruction and are in the hands of the ungodly. Even music, art, and literature, which are to represent and inspire the noblest sentiments and highest aspirations and should be a source of comfort and tranquility for troubled souls, have strayed from the straight path and are now the mirrors of the soiled hearts of this confused, unprincipled, and disordered age. Perversions such as these shall result in the ordeals which have been prophesied by the Blessed Beauty in the following words: “… the earth will be tormented by a fresh calamity every day and unprecedented commotions will break out.” “The day is approaching when its [civilization’s] flame will devour the cities.”
“In such an afflicted time, when mankind is bewildered and the wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Bahá, who have confidence in His unfailing grace and divine guidance, are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result, and all are essential instruments for the establishment of the immutable Will of God on earth. In other words, on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of His loving guidance are, in this Formative Age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic-stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.
“One of their sacred responsibilities is to exemplify in their lives those attributes which are acceptable at His Sacred Threshold.”
425. If Bahá’ís Fail they Are Partly Responsible for Agony of Mankind
“There is so much suffering, such a great and desperate need for a true remedy and the Bahá’ís should realize their sacred obligation is to deliver the Message to their fellowmen at once, and on as large a scale as possible. If they fail to do so, they are really partly responsible for prolonging the agony of humanity.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, December 18, 1943)
426. The World Will Experience Travails and Testing as Never Before
“We are instructed to say that although there is every reason to expect that the world will experience travails and testing as never before, we do not know what form these upheavals will take, when exactly they will come, how severe they will be, nor how long they will last. The Faith itself as it emerges from obscurity will suffer severe trails. Sensitive souls such as yourself are particularly aware of these impending developments. However, Baha’ullah has given us the Administrative Order which is the channel through which the spirit and guidance flow to the Bahá’ís and to mankind. The beloved Guardian spent his entire lifetime unfolding and explaining the pattern, and it is this administrative machinery that we should seek to support and strengthen. As week and fragile as it is in these formative years of the Faith, it is still the haven and protection of the Bahá’ís and of the world. You are therefore encouraged to expend your energies and your many-faceted talents in teaching and consolidating the Bahá’í communities under the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly and its agencies.”
(From a letter written on behalf off the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, March 19, 1981)
427. Calamities Will Continue Until Mankind is Chastened Sufficiently…
“You make reference to calamities and request specific answers if there are any as to when they may occur and with what magnitude. The House of Justice noted your comments that you have read what Bahá’u’lláh had to say about the collapse of the old world order and the coming of the new, and that in recent times friends returning from their pilgrimages spoke of meetings with Hands of the Cause and members of the House of Justice in which the coming of great world upheavals was related to a time ‘around the end of the Five Year Plan and afterwards’. The House of Justice points out that calamities have been and are occurring and will continue to happen until mankind has been chastened sufficiently to accept the Manifestation for this day. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before the end of the twentieth century. However, Bahá’ís should not be diverted from the work of the Cause by the fear of catastrophes but should try to understand why they occur. The beloved Guardian, in innumerable places, has explained the reasons for these occurrences, and since they happen from time to time as explained above we should not be concerned as to when they occur.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, April 15, 1976)
428. Bahá’ís Should not Waste Time Speculating on the Coming Calamity
“The House of Justice points out that Bahá’u’lláh in no uncertain terms has said ‘O ye people of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaith you. Think not that which ye have committed hath been effaced in My sight.’ Therefore it considers that it would be fruitless to attempt to foresee the time or the nature of a calamity which Bahá’u’lláh Himself said was ‘unforeseen’. No doubt the remarkable progress being made in scientific endeavour holds true in the study by experts of geological upheavals. But we cannot be certain that predictions of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tidal waves caused by such phenomena can be identified as the cataclysmic events to which Bahá’u’lláh refers.
“In letters to other believers who have asked questions similar to yours, the House of Justice has emphasized that the friends should not waste their time and energies in fruitless speculations on this question. Rather, they should concentrate every ounce of energy on the winning of the goals of the Five Year Plan, which they have clearly before them, confident in the knowledge that whatever may happen in the world, however calamitous it may outwardly appear, will promote God’s unalterable purpose for the unification of mankind.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, June 20, 1976)
429. It is Important that Bahá’ís have Correct Attitude Regarding Pending Catastrophe
“The important aspect for the Bahá’ís is that their attitude and actions and response to the pending catastrophe be correct. We all know that the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh is the world’s only salvation, and that our duty is to actively teach receptive souls, and to do our utmost to help in the consolidation of the institutions of the Faith. Only in this way can we contribute our share of servitude at His Threshold, and we should then leave the rest to Him.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, November 18, 1980)
430. Should Bahá’ís be Cut off from World Centre or from One Another, They will be Guided by Spiritual Assemblies, Led by Counsellors, Auxiliary Board Members
“Every institution of this divinely created Order is one more refuge for a distraught populace; every soul illumined by the light of the sacred Message is one more link in the oneness of mankind, one more servant ministering to the needs of an ailing world. Even should the Bahá’í communities, in the years immediately ahead, be cut off from the World Center or from one another—as some already have been—the Bahá’ís will neither halt nor hesitate; they will continue to pursue their objectives, guided by their Spiritual Assemblies and led by the Counselors, the members of the Auxiliary Boards and their assistants.
431. Bahá’ís Can Help to Mitigate Suffering of Mankind
“No doubt to the degree we Bahá’ís the world over — strive to spread the Cause and live up to its teachings, there will be some mitigation to the suffering of the peoples of the world. But it seems apparant that the great failure to respond to Bahá’u’lláh’s instructions, appeals and warnings issued in the 19th Century, has now sent the world along a path, and released forces, which must culminate in a still more violent upheaval and agony. The thing is out of hand, so to speak, and it is too late to avert catastrophic trials.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, January 8, 1949)
432. The People of Today Are Suffering for Their own Sins of Omission and Commission
“You should not consider yourself unfeeling because you see in this world agony the birth of a new and better world. This is just what the Bahá’ís should believe and should teach to others. However much pity and sympathy we may have for humanity, we nevertheless realize that people today are suffering for their own sins of omission and commission. We must help them to see this and to turn their thoughts and acts into the channels divinely prescribed by Bahá’u’lláh.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1943)
433. We Must Put the Faith First for our Eternal Security and Happiness
“We do not know what form the immediate future will take, anywhere. Because the passions of mankind are so unregenerate, and it is so deaf to the voice of Bahá’u’lláh, no doubt great suffering will be experienced. What we do know, however, is that we are Bahá’ís and that our salvation lies in this God-sent Faith. As we give to God, as we serve Him and love Him, so will He vouchsafe to us His mercy, guidance and protection. We must, at all times, put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second. Having this Faith we have eternal security and happiness which nothing can take away from us ever, no matter what afflictions may befall a faithless world. The Cause of God is our security, and confidence in Bahá’u’lláh our protection.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 5, 1949)
434. We Do not Know how Far-Reaching the Catastrophe Will Be
“Shoghi Effendi has never stated how far-reaching the effects of a future war will be, or what other catastrophies [sic] may accompany it or follow it. From our teachings we know humanity can and must be welded into some form of political unity — such as a World Federal State — through suffering as it seems only intense suffering is capable of rousing men to the spiritual efforts required. It seems clear to any thinking person that war will be the main cause of this degree of suffering.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, September 5, 1954)
435. The Unification of Mankind
“… Whatever our shortcomings many be, and however formidable the forces of darkness which besiege us to-day, the unification of mankind as outlined and insured by the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh will in the fullness of time be firmly and permanently established. This is Bahá’u’lláh’s promise, and no power on earth can in the long run prevent or even retard its adequate realisation. The friends should, therefore, not lose hope, but fully conscious of their power and their role they should persevere in their mighty efforts for the extension and the consolidation of Bahá’u’lláh’s universal dominion on earth.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 6, 1933)
436. The Crisis is Serving a Great Purpose
“The crisis that exists in the world is not confined to the farmers. Its effects have reached every means of livelihood. The farmers are in a sense better off because they at lest have good to eat. But on the whole the crisis is serving a great purpose. It is broadening the outlook of man, teaching him to think internationally, forcing him to take into consideration the welfare of his neighbours if he wishes to improve his own condition. In short it is forcing humanity to appreciate the significance and follow the precepts laid by Bahá’u’lláh, The present and perhaps the near future is dark, but we have the wonderful promises of the Master before us and they shall all become true….”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 3, 1932)
437. The Guardian Does not Think that God will Permit Man to Annihilate Himself…
“In regard to your questions: the degree of rapidity with which human beings are to advance certainly depends on their own efforts; but he does not think God will permit man to annihilate himself. Too much evolution is behind him and too much before him for that! We should certainly not procrastinate for a moment. For almost a hundred years now the warnings of Bahá’u’lláh have been ringing in men’s ears, and we have every reason to believe terrible things may still befall mankind, if they do not listen to the divine solution proposed by God’s Manifestation for this day. In this connection he is constantly painting out to the Bahá’ís that their direct Bahá’í work — teaching, perfecting the administration, propagating the Cause of God is their job and of immediate importance because, it is, so to speak, spiritually organic. What they are doing will release forces which will combat the terrible disintegration of society which we witness today in every field, political, economic, or otherwise….”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 5, 1947)
438. Hardship and Privation, Frustration and Despair Shall Encompass the People…
“Know thou that hardship and privation shall increase day by day, and the people shall thereby be afflicted. The doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides, and terrible wars shall occur. Frustration and despair shall encompass the people until they are forced to turn to the One True God. Then will the light of most joyful tidings so illumine the horizons that the cry of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ will be raised from every direction. This shall come to pass.”
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá: from a Table to Isabella D. Brittingham, in Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 248, WIlmette 1980, corrected in a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to all National Spiritual Assemblies, January 16, 1984)
Please Note: The 1984 letter referred to in #438 does not seem to be available online. However, I did find this wonderful quote during my search:
“It is a time for rejoicing. The Sun of Bahá’u’lláh is mounting the heavens, bringing into ever clearer light the contrast between the gloom, the despair, the frustrations and bewilderment of the world, and the radiance, confidence, joy and certitude of His lovers. Lift up your hearts. The Day of God is here.”
439. Apocalyptic Upheaval
“He advises you to go ahead and play your college education. We have no indication of exactly what nature the apocalyptic upheaval will be: it might be another war… but as students of our Bahá’í writings it is clear that the longer the ‘Divine Physician’ (i.e. Bahá’u’lláh) is withheld from healing the ills of the world, the more severe will be the crisis, and the more terrible the sufferings of the patient.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, November 21, 1949)
440. World Condition Bringing Many Issues to a Head
“The condition that the world is in is bringing many issues to a head. It would be perhaps impossible to find a nation or people not in a state of crisis today. The materialism, the lack of true religion and the consequent baser forces in human nature which are being released, have brought the whole world to the brink of probably the greatest crisis it has ever faced or will have to face. The Bahá’ís are a part of the world. They too feel the great pressures which are brought to bear upon all people today, whoever and wherever they may be. On the other hand, the Divine Plan, which is the direct method of working toward the establishment of peace and World Order, has perforce reached an important and challenging point in its unfoldment; because of the desperate needs of the world, the Bahá’ís find themselves, even though so limited in numbers, in financial strength and in prestige, called upon to fulfill a great responsibility.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, July 19, 1956: Bahá’í News, No. 307, September 1956, pp. 1-2)
441. Calamities and Crises [sic]
“As humanity plunges deeper into that condition of which Bahá’u’lláh wrote, “to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly,” so must the believers increasingly stand out as assured, orientated and fundamentally happy beings, conforming to a standard which, in direct contrast to the ignoble and amoral attitudes of modern society, is the source of their honor, strength and maturity. It is this marked contrast between the vigor, unity and discipline of the Bahá’í community on the one hand, and the increasing confusion, despair and feverish tempo of a doomed society on the other, which, during the turbulent years ahead will draw the eyes of humanity to the sanctuary of Bahá’u’lláh’s world-redeeming Faith.”
442. Internal Disintegration and External Chaos Being Accelerated
“… Pregnant indeed are the years looming ahead of us all. The twin processes of internal disintegration and external chaos are being accelerated and every day are inexorably moving towards a climax. The rumblings that must precede the eruption of those forces that must cause ‘the limbs of humanity to quake’ can already be heard. ‘The time of the end’, ‘the later years’, as foretold in Scriptures, are at long last upon us. The Pen of Bahá’u’lláh, the voice of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, have time and again, insistently and in terms unmistakable, warned an unheeding humanity of impending disaster. The Community of the Most Great Name, the leaven that must leaven the lump, the chosen remnant that must survive the rolling up of the old, discredited, tottering order, and assist in the unfoldment of a new one in its stead, is standing ready, alert, clear-visioned, and resolute….”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Canada, July 5, 1938; Messages to America, 1932-1946, pp. 13-14)
443. Worsening World SItuation
“In the worsening world situation, fraught with pain of war, violence and the sudden uprooting of long-established institutions, can be seen the fulfillment of the prophecies of Bahá’u’lláh and the oft-repeated warnings of the Master and the beloved Guardian about the inevitable fate of a lamentably defective social system, an unenlightened leadership and a rebellious and unbelieving humanity. Governments and peoples of both the developed and developing nations, and other human institutions, secular and religious, finding themselves helpless to reverse the trend of the catastrophic events of the day, stand bewildered and overpowered by the magnitude and complexity of the problems facing them. At this fateful hour in human history many, unfortunately, seem content to stand aside and wring their hands in despair or else join in the babel of shouting and protestation which loudly objects, but offers no solution to the woes and afflictions plaguing our age.
“Nevertheless a greater and greater number of thoughtful and fair-minded men and women are recognizing in the clamor of contention, grief and destruction, now reaching such horrendous proportions, the evidences of Divine chastisement, and turning their faces towards God are becoming increasingly receptive to His Word. Doubtless the present circumstances, though tragic and awful in their immediate consequences, are serving to sharpen the focus on the indispensability of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh to the needs of the present age, and will provide many opportunities to reach countless waiting souls, hungry and thirsty for Divine guidance.”
Please note: The following is not included in Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File but does directly follow the words in the above quote from this letter:
“It is these opportunities which we must seize before it is too late. What is needed now is the awakening of all believers to the immediacy of the challenge so that each may assume his share of the responsibility for taking the Teachings to all humanity.”
444. A Yawning Gulf Threatens
Please note: I have slightly expanded the words being included here beyond those included in Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File whose quote begins with “Every system” and concludes with “its very heart.”
“… What else remains, a bewildered generation may well ask, that can repair the cleavage that is constantly widening, and which may, at any time, engulf it?
“Beset on every side by the cumulative evidences of disintegration, of turmoil and of bankruptcy, serious-minded men and women, in almost every walk of life, are beginning to doubt whether society, as it is now organized, can, through its unaided efforts, extricate itself from the slough into which it is steadily sinking. Every system, short of the unification of the human race, has been tried, repeatedly tried, and been found wanting. Wars again and again have been fought, and conferences without number have met and deliberated. Treaties, pacts and covenants have been painstakingly negotiated, concluded and revised. Systems of government have been patiently tested, have been continually recast and superseded. Economic plans of reconstruction have been carefully devised, and meticulously executed. And yet crisis has succeeded crisis, and the rapidity with which a perilously unstable world is declining has been correspondingly accelerated. A yawning gulf threatens to involve in one common disaster both the satisfied and dissatisfied nations, democracies and dictatorships, capitalists and wage-earners, Europeans and Asiatics, Jew and Gentile, white and colored. An angry Providence, the cynic might well observe, has abandoned a hapless planet to its fate, and fixed irrevocably its doom. Sore-tried and disillusioned, humanity has no doubt lost its orientation, and would seem to have lost as well its faith and hope. It is hovering, unshepherded and visionless, on the brink of disaster. A sense of fatality seems to pervade it. An ever-deepening gloom is settling on its fortunes as she recedes further and further from the outer fringes of the darkest zone of its agitated life and penetrates its very heart.
“And yet while the shadows are continually deepening, might we not claim that gleams of hope, flashing intermittently on the international horizon, appear at times to relieve the darkness that encircles humanity? Would it be untrue to maintain that in a world of unsettled faith and disturbed thought, a world of steadily mounting armaments, of unquenchable hatreds and rivalries, the progress, however fitful, of the forces working in harmony with the spirit of the age can already be discerned?”
445. Forces of a World Catastrophe — The Fire of Ordeal
“… That the forces of a world catastrophe can alone precipitate such a new phase of human thought is, alas, becoming increasingly apparent. That nothing short of the fire of a severe ordeal, unparalleled in its intensity, can fuse and weld the discordant entities that constitute the elements of present-day civilization, into integral components of the world commonwealth of the future, is a truth which future events will increasingly demonstrate.
“… Nothing but a fiery ordeal, out of which humanity will emerge, chastened and prepared, can succeed in implanting that sense of responsibility which the leaders of a newborn age must arise to shoulder.”
Please note: The following is also from this same source as the above, available online although is not cited in Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File:
Community of the Most Great Name
“Who else can be the blissful if not the community of the Most Great Name, whose world-embracing, continually consolidating activities constitute the one integrating process in a world whose institutions, secular as well as religious, are for the most part dissolving? They indeed are “the people of the right,” whose “noble habitation” is fixed on the foundations of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh—the Ark of everlasting salvation in this most grievous Day. Of all the kindreds of the earth they alone can recognize, amidst the welter of a tempestuous age, the Hand of the Divine Redeemer that traces its course and controls its destinies. They alone are aware of the silent growth of that orderly world polity whose fabric they themselves are weaving.
“Conscious of their high calling, confident in the society-building power which their Faith possesses, they press forward, undeterred and undismayed, in their efforts to fashion and perfect the necessary instruments wherein the embryonic World Order of Bahá’u’lláh can mature and develop. It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá’í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God’s changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.
“In a world the structure of whose political and social institutions is impaired, whose vision is befogged, whose conscience is bewildered, whose religious systems have become anemic and lost their virtue, this healing Agency, this leavening Power, this cementing Force, intensely alive and all-pervasive, has been taking shape, is crystallizing into institutions, is mobilizing its forces, and is preparing for the spiritual conquest and the complete redemption of mankind. Though the society which incarnates its ideals be small, and its direct and tangible benefits as yet inconsiderable, yet the potentialities with which it has been endowed, and through which it is destined to regenerate the individual and rebuild a broken world, are incalculable.”
446. When Crisis Sweeps Over the World, Bahá’ís Should not Let Hardships Weaken Their Hope in the Future
“… When such a crisis sweeps over the world no person should hope to remain intact. We belong to an organic unit and when one unit and when one part of the organism suffers all the rest of the body will feel its consequence. This is in fact the reason why Bahá’u’lláh calls our attention to the unity of mankind. But as Bahá’ís we should not let such hardship weaken our hope in the future….”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to a Bahá’í family, April 14, 1932)
447. Stage of Purgation is Indispensable — Bahá’ís Should not Hope to Remain Unaffected
“… You seem to complain about the calamities, that have befallen humanity. In the spiritual development of a man a stage of purgation is indispensable, for it is while passing through it that the 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, that they have to view things internationally, they are to make the individual attribute more importance to his moral, than his material 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 claimed to have attained. Such 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 conveying the Message with which we have been entrusted….”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer in reply to a letter dated October 14, 1931; Bahá’í News, No. 58, January 1932, p. 1)
448. Dangers Facing America
“He has been told that some of the friends are disturbed over reports brought back by the pilgrims concerning the dangers facing America in the future whenever another world conflagration breaks out.
“He does not feel that the Bahá’ís should waste time dwelling on the dark side of things. Any intelligent person can understand from the experiences of the last world war, and keeping abreast of what modern science has developed in the way of weapons for any future war, that big cities all over the world are going to be in tremendous danger. This is what the Guardian has said to the pilgrims.
“Entirely aside from this, he has urged the Bahá’ís, for the sake of serving the Faith, to go out from these centers of intense materialism, where life nowadays is so hurried and grinding and, dispersing to towns and villages, carry the Message far and wide throughout the cities of the American Union. He strongly believes that the field outside the big cities is more fertile, that the Bahá’ís in the end will be happier for having made this move, and that, in the case of an outbreak of war, it stands to reason they will be safer, just the way any other person living in the country, or away from the big industrial areas, is safer.
“It is remarks such as these that the pilgrims have carried back in their notes. He sees no cause for alarm, but he certainly believes that the Bahá’ís should weigh these thoughts, and take action for the sake of spreading the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for their own ultimate happiness as well. Indeed the two things go together.”
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, June 20, 1954; Bahá’í News, No.283, September 1954, p. 2)
449. Man’s Outlook on Life Too Crude and Materialistic
Please Note: I am including the entire reference from which only a short portion was taken for inclusion in Lights of Guidance: A Bahá’í Reference File:
“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 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. 87 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.”
450. Mental Tests to be Suffered by Believers in the West
“And yet, how often we seem to forget the clear and repeated warnings of our beloved Master, who in particular during the concluding years of His mission on earth, laid stress on the severe mental tests that would inevitably sweep over His loved ones of the West…tests that would purge, purify and prepare them for their noble mission in life.
“Ours then is the duty and privilege to labour, by day, by night, amidst the storm and stress of these troublous days, that we may quicken the zeal of our fellow-man, rekindle their hopes, stimulate their interests, open their eyes to the true Faith of God and enlist their active support in carrying out of our common task for the peace and regeneration of the world.”
(From a letter written by Shoghi Effendi to the believers in Australia and New Zealand, December 2, 1923; Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand, 1923-1957, pp. 102)
451. A Civilization Torn by Strife
“In the midst of a civilization torn by strifes and enfeebled by materialism, the people of Bahá are building a new world. We face at this time opportunities and responsibilities of vast magnitude and great urgency. Let each beliver in his inmost heart resolve not to be seduced by the ephemeral allurements of the society around him, nor to be drawn into its feuds and short-lived enthusiasms, but instead to transfer all he can from the old world to that new one which is the vision of his longing and will be the fruit of his labours.”
452. Fierce and Manifold Will be Assaults Faith to Suffer
“,,, The generality of mankind, blind and enslaved, is wholly unaware of the healing power with which this community has been endowed, nor can it as yet suspect the the role which this same community is destined to play in its redemption. Fierce and manifold will be the assaults with which governments, races, classes and religions, jealous of its rising prestige and fearful of its consolidating strength, will seek to silence its voice and sap its foundations. Unmoved by the relative obscurity that surrounds it at the present time, and undaunted by the forces that will be arrayed against it in the future, this community, I cannot but feel confident, will, no matter how afflictive the agonies of a travailing age, pursue its destiny, undeflected in its course, undimmed in its serenity, unyielding in its resolve, unshaken in its convictions.”
(Shoghi Effendi: Messages to America, p. 13)
453. Our Duty to Redeem Fellow Men
“… It is our duty to redeem as many of our fellow men as we possibly can, whose hearts are enlightened, before some great catastrophe overtakes them, in which they will either be hopelessly swallowed up or come out purified and strengthened, and ready to serve. The more believers tehre are to stand forth as beacons in the darkness whenever that time does come, the better; hence the supreme importance of the teaching work at this time….”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of South and West Africa, July 9, 1957: Teaching the Masses, p. 11)
454. Bahá’ís Are the Leaven of God, The Chosen People of God
“…The Bahá’ís are the leaven of God, which must leaven the lump of their nation. In direct ratio to their success will be the protection vouchsafed, not only to them but to their country. These are immutable laws of God, from which there is no escape: ‘For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required’.
“They cannot be the chosen people of God, — the ones who have received the bounty of accepting Him in His Day, the recipients of the Master’s Divine Plan — and do nothing about it. The obligation to teach is the obligation of every Bahá’í, and particularly, the obligations of the American Bahá’ís towards humanity are great and inescapable. To the degree to which they discharge them will they be blessed and protected, happy and satisfied.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, September 21, 1957: Bahá’í News, November 1957)
455. Eyes of the World Focussed [sic] on Us
“… The eyes of the people of the world are beginning to be focussed on us, and as humanity’s plight goes from bad to worse, we will be watched ever more intently by non-Bahá’ís, to see whether we do uphold our own institutions wholeheartedly; whether we are the people of the new creation or not; whether we live up to our beliefs, principles and laws in deed as well as word. We cannot be too careful. We cannot be too exemplary.”
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the British Isles, August 5, 1955: Canadian Bahá’í News, Special Section, March 1973, p.6)
456. Bahá’ís Have Task of Cleansing Humanity by Precept and Example
“In many letters and on many occasions the beloved guardian warned that the disintegrating process will penetrate deeper and deeper into the very core of human society and that much suffering is in store ere mankind is fused by the fires of universal affliction into one organic commonwealth. Even when universal suffrage and all other rights presently sought by civil rights movements are fully attained, there still remains for the Bahá’ís the unaccomplished task of cleansing humanity, by precept and example, of every trace of racial prejudice. Nothing but the Faith of God can accomplish this.”
((From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, March 30, 1965: United States Supplement to Bahá’í News, No. 90, August 1965, p. 2)
457. Chosen Ones of God Should not be Content with Relative Distinction on Excellence
“The chosen ones of God…should not look at the depraved conditions of the society in which they live, nor at the evidences of moral degradation and frivolous conduct which the people around them display. They should not content themselves merely with relative distinction and excellence. Rather they should fix their gaze upon nobler heights by setting the counsels and exhortations of the Pen of Glory as their supreme goal. Then it will be readily realized how numerous are the stages that still remain to be traversed and how far off the desired goal lies — a goal which is none other than exemplifying heavenly morals and virtues.”
(Letter from Shoghi Effendi to the Spiritual Assembly of Tihrán, October 30, 1924: Living the Life, p. 2)
458. Obstacles that Stand in the Path
“The gross materialism that engulfs the entire nation at the present hour; the attachment to worldly things that enshrouds the souls of men; the fears and anxieties that distract their minds; the pleasure and dissipations that fill their time, the prejudices and animosities that darken their outlook, the apathy and lethargy that paralyze their spiritual faculties—these are among the formidable obstacles that stand in the path of every would-be warrior in the service of Bahá’u’lláh, obstacles which he must battle against and surmount in his crusade for the redemption of his own countrymen.”
459. Civilization Undergoing Severe and Unparalleled Tests
“Let us pray to God that in these days of world-encircling gloom, when the dark forces of nature, of hate, rebellion, anarchy and reaction are threatening the very stability of human society, when the most precious fruits of civilization are undergoing severe and unparalleled tests, we may all realize, more profoundly than ever, that though but a mere handful amidst the seething masses of the world, we are in this day the chosen instruments of God’s grace, that our mission is most urgent and vital to the fate of humanity, and, fortified by these sentiments, arise to achieve God’s holy purpose for mankind.”
Shoghi Effendi, Bahá’í Administration, p. 35 [Letter of November 14, 1923]