THE BULLETIN OF THE NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
Office of the Secretary169 CHRISTOPHER STREET, NEW YORK CITY
"Blessed are ye who are assembled in the shadow of the Word of God, who are abiding in the cave of the Covenant of God, who are comforted by dwelling in the Paradise of El-Ahba, who are cheerfully moved with the breezes which moved with the breezes which blow from the point of the providence of God, and who have arisen to render service to the Cause of God, to promulgate the Religion of God, to promote the Word of God and to hoist the standards of sanctity in those regions and climes.
"By the life of El-Abha! Verily, the perfect and divine power will breathe in you with bounties from the Holy Spirit and enable you to accomplish a thing the like of which hath never been by the eye of existence." - Abdu'l Baha.
To the Assemblies of the United States and Canada.
Dear Baha'i friends;
We have entered upon a period of expansion in all the activities and services of the Cause. A new spirit of ardor devotion, longing and determination is felt throughout the various Assemblies and groups. Hundreds of believers whose loyalty has been utterly sincere but passive are now effectively giving the message within the circle of their lives. Freed from the burden of concern lest factions arise powerful enough to exert undue influence upon the decisions of our central national body, Assembly and committee can now be concentrated into channeds extending ever farther into the life of the world.
This marks the beginning of that maturity when the spiritual nourishment has become assimilated, body and mind are in poise, and those forces and elements taken in during infancy and youth ran for the first time reveal their vital influence through well considered action reinforced by singleness of purpose and firmness of will.
Before each Assembly now lies the opportunity to plan ways and means of participating definitely as a center of Baha'i influence in the spiritual, moral and social problems of the community. A remarkable instance of the success that follows this positive effort comes from Honolulu, where one of the faithful friends has opened a weekly meeting to promote the ideal of Universal Peace. To this meeting have come many active minds and eager hearts, able at once to unite upon the basis of this noble ideal, and willing to consider step by step the inner and outer developments required for its complete attainment. Such a meeting, conducted by a well qualified believer of committee, is like an open door through which the spiritual message can flow forth into the public consciousness, and through which likewise souls of capacity can enter the Cause.
Depending upon local conditions, each Assembly can this year undertake similar general meetings - meetings for peace, for Esperanto, for racial amity, for any one or more of the principles that make the Baha'i message all inclusive, the 'spirit of the age.' The intention of such meetings should be the purest service to the community and to humanity, a loving gift from those who themselves have already received the gift without price from the Center of the Covenant. Where this intention is perfectly realized and the meetings conducted with true wisdom, no anxiety need be felt as to the results in terms of increased membership for the Assembly itself. There is abundant opportunity, in fact, for every individual believer to associate himself or herself with general progressive activities for which he or she is naturally filled, and so bear witness to the Baha'i spirit in a wider circle of interests. The spiritual feasts and other meetings specialized to the celebration of the Cause, the study of the teachings or the deliberation of Baha'i affairs will all be confirmed and revitalized through this increased activity and intention of productive service.
Perhaps the greatest opportunity we face at the present moment as members of a national Baha'i body is to formulate a general policy and an inclusive program, representing the results of thorough mutual consultation and harmoniously bending the effort of each national committee to one aim. Concretely, we have the spiritual obligation to contribute our share to the four hundred thousand dollars required to build the first permanent unit of the Temple. On September 15th the National Spiritual Assembly received the following cablegram from Haifa: "Guardian cables confidently expecting America to contribute her befitting share recent Temple appeal." (signed) Bahiyyih. The suggestions made by the local Assemblies have been most helpful, showing appreciation of the need to lay a new and stronger foundation for our teaching work. As soon as possible all these suggestions will be studied by the National Assembly in consultation with the Temple and Teaching Committees, and a definite plan laid before the Baha'i of North America.
Reference should be made to the fact that the Guardian does not approve any formal pledge card system for raising Baha'i funds. This system obligates the future, which none can foresee. But it is highly advisable for each believer to organize his practical affairs so efficiently that sacrifice will be possible without leading to unnecessary difficulty or later regret.
It is not too soon for each Assembly to create a special fund to meet the expenses of their delegate or delegates at the 1926 Convention in San Francisco. A full attendance of delegates will alone attract spiritual confirmations for our future success.
Conditions now make it possible for the National Spiritual Assembly to acknowledge immediately all communications, and the friends in this and other countries are requested to overlook many instances of apparent discourtesy or neglect in times past. In order that the News Letter may develop in accordance with the desire expressed by Shoghi Effendi in his letter of April 10th, news and other material of general Baha'i interest should be sent by teachers, committees and secretaries of local and National Assemblies throughout the world. A new department of the utmost value has been added tot he News Letter with this issue - a series of outlines on teaching methods prepared by the National Teaching Committee. Assemblies and groups will find it exceedingly useful to study these outlines and adopt their constructive suggestions month by month.
Yours sincerely, in love of Abdu'l Baha,
- NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY.
- By; Horace Holley,
- By; Horace Holley,
WORK OF NATIONAL COMMITTEES
National Spiritual Assembly
NATIONAL BAHA'I FUND
Enclosed with this News Letter is a copy of the committee appointments so far made by the American National Spiritual Assembly for the present year. Local Spiritual Assemblies should study this committee list very carefully, with a view to bringing about more effective cooperation with the National activity in its various departments.
The Press Committee report that local Assemblies made a most gratifying response to the special letter sent out on May 14th on the subject of the difficult conditions among the Persian Baha'is. Publicity was secured in forty newspaper, clippings of which have been received from the following cities: Milwankee, Wis., Los Angeles, San Diego, Pasadena, Berkeley, Geyserville, and San Francisco, Calif., Chicago and
Springfield, Ill., Columbus, O., Denver, Colo., Boston and Springfield, Mass., Augusta, Ga., Montreal, Canada, Racine and Kenosha, Wis., New York City and Yonkers, N.Y., Helena, Mont., Spokane, Wash., Portland, Ore., Minneapolis, MInn., Butte., Mont., St. John, N. B., Duluth, Minn., and New Haven, Conn. A full set of these clippings has been forwarded to the Guardian and effort will be made to extend this matter of publicity along carefully organized lines.
The Publishing Committee report a number of new books, among them second volume of the Promulgation of Universal Peace. In this book we have Abdu'l Baha’s message to the American people and it should be our supreme privilege to see that this message is brought to the attention of the general public in every possible way.
The second, and concluding volume, of The Promulgation of Universal Peace contains addresses delivered in the following cities: Boston, Mass., Dublin, N. H., Green Acre, Eliot, Me., Malden, Mass., Montreal, Quebec, Chicago, Ill., Minneapolis, Minn., St. Paul, Minn., Denver, Colo., Oakland, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Sacramento, Calif., Cincinnati, O., Washington, D. C., New York, N. Y. Let us ever hear in mind gratefully the numberless sacrifice made by the believers in 1912 that these meetings might be arranged, the words taken down stenographically for preservation throughout all time, collected and edited with such infinite labor and accuracy by Mr. Howard MacNutt, and finally published in their present beautiful and dignified form by Mr. Albert Windust and his associates on the Grier Press.
Other new books are a compilation on Racial Amity, obtainable for five cents a copy, and "Thoughts that Build." an admirable compilation of the world's spiritual teachings, with many quotations from Baha'u'llah and Abdu'l Baha. The volume was edited by Rev. J. Storer, evidently a devoted student of the Baha'i writings. The Publishing Committee have also received a supply of Ring Stones from Haifa for sale to the believers at .85 for the small size, and at $1.10 for the large size. Further information about the new books will be found in the revised catalog, now on the press, copies of which will be sent to all Assemblies.
The cooperation being afforded the business management of the Star of the West by the special representatives serving in the local Assemblies are requested to give much attention to this work. Every active believer should be a subscriber to this official Baha'i magazine and, furthermore, should strive to increase its public circulation and influence. Both the editorial and the business management have done their share toward creating an interesting and attractive magazine. May each believer consider himself an active agent of the Star.
The October issue contains a compilation on "The Two Natures in Man" from words of Abdu'l-Baha; the Urge for Immortality by Mr. George Latimer; the Call of Today by Mrs. Rosa V. Winterburn; Institute of Pacific Relations by Miss Agnes Alexander; Glory of Life by Dr. Orrol L. Harper; Religion for Today by Mr. Louis Gregory. The Mass Education Movement in China by Mr. James Y. C. Yen, and Peace and the Text-Books by Miss Louise Slavin-Cohen.
OUTLINES FOR TEACHING
The Initial Preparation
In teaching the Cause it is a wonderful inspiration continually to think of what our teaching will mean to the world - a new humanity, the very Kingdom of God on earth.
"Whosoever quickens one soul in this Cause is like unto one quickening all the servants and the Lord shall bring him forth in the Day of Resurrection into the Ridvan of Oneness, adorned with the Mantle of Himself, the Protector, the Mighty, the Generous! Thus will ye assist your Lord, and naught else save this shall ever be mentioned in this Day before God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers." - Baha'u'llah.
In the last of the sublime Teaching Tablets, found in the Unveiling of the Divine Plan. pp. 66-69, or Baha'i Scriptures, pp. 540-544, or Star of the West, Vol. XI. pp. 32-36 we learn just how we may become "the Apostles of Baha'u'llah." "the rays of the Sun of Reality who will illumine all the continents."
The supreme secret is to realize that we are succesful teachers when we become like pure reeds through whom God's Manifestations and His angels may play their divine melodies, when we are but cupbearers of the water of life.
To become the best possible transmitters:
I. We must sever our minds from all we have learned or heard, become as little children, begin "if necessary our education all over again." severed from all ideas save God's Word, free from fancies and imitations, that we see Him.
2. We must enter "the universal university of the Kingdom" and make an intensive study of the Divine Teachings.
Shoghi Effendi says that every Baha;i teacher should make "Baha'u'llah and the New Era" his text-book and teach just what is in that book. We will want to study carefully and joyously books like Some Answered Questions, Adbu'l Baha's addresses in Europe and America, The Ighan (Book of Assurance) Baha'i Proofs and Baha'i Scriptures.
3. We will need to take notes upon write out what we read, meditate upon it, repeat it in our own words, and make practice addresses. Then little by little 'Abdu'l Baha's thought, His mind, will begin to live and sneak within us and we will become transmitters of His pure Universal teachings which alone can win and unite all the world. To commit the words of 'Abdu'l Baha, the Hidden Words and the prayers to memory is a glorious
method of making them part of our very being and equipping ourselves to speak.
4. We must need sever our hearts from all save Him, turning constantly to the Abha Kingdom and praying for illumination - "He who is filled with the love of Baha', and forgets all things, the Holy Spirit will be heard from his lips and the Spirit of life will fill his heart, the Lights of the Sign will shine forth from his face, words will issue from his mouth in strands of pearls, and all sickness and disease will be healed by the laying on of the hands." - 'Abdu'l-Baha'. The wonderful Tablet on The Spiritual Physician, in the Star, Vol. XIV, p. 263 will help us greatly.
But, we all may say, I am not pure, or holy, or wise, or good enough to teach, yet. Then comes the wondrous promise: if we rise and teach in pure, humble love the Holy Spirit will rush to our assistance, will enter to our heart and will purify and perfect us - "Verily, We behold you from Our Realm of effulgent Glory and shall graciously aid whomsoever ariseth for the triumph of Our Cause with the Hosts of the Celestial Concourse and a company of Our chosen angels." - Baha'u'llah.
"Rest assured in the fact that the breaths of the Holy Spirit will aid you provided no doubts obtain in your heart." - 'Abdu'l-Baha.
Summary: By realizing "the greatness of these days" and the power of Baha, by severing our mind from all ideas save the pure Word, our hearts from all desires save His Will, by rising to study to live the life. To teach, and by turning to Him in constant prayer we shall in glorious unity become "the lights that shall be diffused." "the waves of that sea which shall spread and overflow the world."
Later outlines will suggest how to give the message to diverse audiences. There will also be outlines on the prophecies in the Bible and other Sacred Books, on comparative religions, on the study of Baha'i history.
"It is a wonderful, priceless boon to be a vessel carrying food from God. It cannot be thought with gold." -'Abdu'l-Baha.
NATIONAL TEACHING COMMITTEE
NEWS OF THE CAUSE
From Auckland, New Zealand comes the first issue of a newly established Baha'i magazine for Australia and New Zealand. Its title is "The Herald of the South" and this constructive service on the part of our Australian and New Zealand brothers contains every evidence of wide-spread future success. It is issued by Mrs. A. E. Dewing
Letter from Shoghi Effendi
I have read with deep interest your two recent communications dated April 4th and 18th, and am gratified to learn of the steady expansion of your manifold activities.
Regarding the method to be adopted for the election of the National Spiritual Assemblies, it is clear that the text of the Beloved's Testament gives us no indication as to the manner in which these Assemblies are to be elected. In one of His earliest Tablets, however, addressed to a friend in Persia, the following is expressly recorded:-
"At whatever time all the beloved of God in each country appoint their delegates, and these in turn elect their representatives, and these representatives elect a body, that body shall be regarded as the Supreme Baytu'l-'Adl (Universal House of Justice)."
These words clearly indicate that a three-stage election has been provided by Adbu'l Baha for the formation of the International House of Justice, and as it is explicitly provided in His Will and Testament that the "Secondary House of Justice (i.e.,National Assemblies) must elect the members of the Universal One." it is obvious that the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies will have to be indirectly elected by the body of the believers in their respective provinces. In view of these complementary instructions the principle, set forth in my letter of March 12th, 1923, has been established requiring the believers (the beloved of God) in every country to elect a certain number of delegates who, in turn, will elect their national representatives (Secondary House of Justice or National Spiritual Assembly) whose sacred obligation and privilege will be to elect in time God's Universal House of Justice.
Should the appointing of the delegates be made a part of the functions of local Spiritual Assemblies, who are already elected bodies, the principle of a four-stage election would be introduced which would be at variance with the provisions explicitly laid down in the Master's Tablet. On the other hand, were the local Spiritual Assemblies, the number of whose members is strictly confined to ripe, to elect directly the members of the National Spiritual Assembly -thus maintaining the principle of a three-stage election-all Baha'i localities, which must necessarily differ in numerical strength, would then have to share equally in the election of the National Spiritual Assembly-a practice which would be contrary to fairness and justice. Moreover, the central principle guiding for the present the administration of the Cause has been to make the Baha'i National Spiritual Assemblies as independent as possible in the conduct of such affairs as fall within their province, and to lessen the hampering influence of any institution within their jurisdiction that might whether directly or indirectly impair their authority and prestige.
I would also strongly urge the members of every in-coming National Spiritual Assembly to take all necessary steps to ensure that every local Assembly throughout America, without any exception whatsoever, should immediately after its election send the complete list of its members together with the full address of its secretary to the National Secretary, who in turn will forward them to me directly, enclosing his own address as well as the list of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly. It would also be extremely helpful, should actual circumstances permit, to devise with the whole-hearted assistance of every local Assembly ways and means for the compilation of an authoritative, up-to-date, and exhaustive list of recognized believers in America, supplemented by the full address of each believer's permanent residence-this list to be continually revised according to every change affecting the residence and number of such believers. This would be particularly advisable in view of the permanent residence of isolated believers in various parts of the country, as well as of those who form parts of groups as yet numerically too small for the formation of a local Spiritual Assembly.
However desirable these steps may be, it is evident that they are secondary in their importance and urgency to the pressing and ever increasing issues that vitally affect the spread and the consolidation of the work which you are called upon to perform, and which it is my privilege to assist in and serve. I am enclosing a preliminary list of Baha'i centers throughout the world, exclusive of Persia, which though inadequate, may still, I trust, be of some help to you. I would welcome any additions or corrections you might be able to make and hope it will evolve into a valuable section of the contemplated Baha'i Year Book.
I wish to assure you, in conclusion, of my heartfelt appreciation of your devoted labors in the Divine Vineyard.
Your brother and fellow-worker.
May 12, 1925.