Humanity is made up of billions of individuals.
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The development of the individual, the community, and the institutions holds immense promise when the relationships binding these three are marked by affection and mutual support. Unfortunately the three corresponding actors in the world at large—the citizen, the body politic, and the institutions of society—reflect the discord that characterizes humanity’s turbulent stage of transition. Unwilling to act as interdependent parts of an organic whole, they are locked in a struggle for power which ultimately proves futile.
How very different the society which the Baha’i writings depict — where everyday interactions are shaped by consciousness of the oneness of humankind. Relationships imbued with this consciousness are being cultivated by Baha’is and their friends in villages and neighbourhoods across the world. From them can be detected the pure fragrances of reciprocity and cooperation, of concord and love. Within such unassuming settings, a visible alternative to society’s familiar strife is emerging. So it becomes apparent that the individual who wishes to exercise self-expression responsibly participates thoughtfully in consultation devoted to the common good and spurns the temptation to insist on personal opinion. Baha’i institutions, appreciating the need for coordinated action channelled toward fruitful ends, aim not to control but to nurture and encourage. The community that is to take charge of its own development recognizes an invaluable asset in the unity afforded through whole-hearted engagement in the plans devised by the institutions. Under the influence of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation, the relationships among these three are being endowed with new warmth and life.
First and foremost among these favours, which the Almighty has conferred upon man, is the gift of understanding. His purpose in conferring such a gift is none other except to enable His creature to know and recognize the one true God — exalted be His glory. This gift gives man the power to discern the truth in all things, leads him to that which is right, and helps him to discover the secrets of creation. Next in rank, is the power of vision, the chief instrument whereby his understanding can function.
“For the core of religious faith is that mystical 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 be means of prayer.”
The Universal House of Justice –
the supreme governing Institution of the Baha’i Faith
Man is basically a social being who needs companionship and friendship. This contact with others may be minimal in the case of the shy and the ‘loners’ but is always there to some degree even if it’s just contacts through the work-place. At the other end of the spectrum are the most gregarious of society. No matter where we fall on this spectrum of behaviour we can all contribute to our communities. Another facet of our sociability is our need to feel useful and appreciated. This is best achieved through service to humanity. Every individual is endowed with the capacity to discern “truth in all things” as well as having talents and faculties.
DEVELOPING A COMMON PATH OF SERVICE
To read the writings of the Faith and to strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Baha’u’llah’s stupendous Revelation are obligations laid on every one of His followers. All are enjoined to delve into the ocean of His Revelation and to partake, in keeping with their capacities and inclinations, of the pearls of wisdom that lie therein.. Let no one fail to appreciate the possibilities thus created. Passivity is bred by the forces of society today. A desire to be entertained is nurtured from childhood, with increasing efficiency, cultivating generations willing to be led by whoever proves skilful at appealing to superficial emotions. Even in many educational systems students are treated as though they were receptacles designed to receive information. That the Baha’i world has succeeded in developing a culture which promotes a way of thinking, studying, and acting, in which all consider themselves as treading a common path of service–supporting one another and advancing together, respectful of the knowledge that each one possesses at any given moment and avoiding the tendency to divide the believers into categories such as deepened and uninformed–is an accomplishment of enormous proportions. And therein lie the dynamics of an irrepressible movement.Ridvan Message
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