April 30, 2007
Ridvan Paradise 144
"This is the day in which the testimony of the Lord hath been fulfilled, the Day in which the word of God hath been made manifest and His evidence firmly established. His voice is calling you unto that which shall draw you high unto God, the Lord of Revelation." – Baha'u'llah.
This Ridvan marks the 144th anniversary of the proclamation of Baha'u'llah from the Garden of Ridvan (Paradise) outside of Baghdad Iraq, the Abode of Peace. Like the city of Jerusalem thrown into turmoil after the ministry of Christ, so now the entire Middle East – and the rest of the world along with it - is still engulfed in conflicts surrounding the two cities of the proclamation of the two Christs – anointed male-sperm descendants of King David - Father and Son, Baha'u'llah and Jesus, vis-à-vis Baghdad and Jerusalem.
These ills afflicting mankind can and will only be healed through spiritual means of spiritual solution. Our role is projecting this message to mankind so that they can readily identify the Covenant of God and the provisions of the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha as that true and Divine remedy the healing elixir sent by God to save and regenerate all mankind.
"The vitality of men's belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it. The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it? Is it within human power, O Hakím, to effect in the constituent elements of any of the minute and indivisible particles of matter so complete a transformation as to transmute it into purest gold? Perplexing and difficult as this may appear, the still greater task of converting satanic strength into heavenly power is one that We have been empowered to accomplish. The Force capable of such a transformation transcendeth the potency of the Elixir itself. The Word of God, alone, can claim the distinction of being endowed with the capacity required for so great and far-reaching a change."-Baha'u'llah.
Forty-Four years ago, the first president of our Universal House of Justice – the genuine and sole Institution delineated in the Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha with the aghsan-guardian as it s present – issued this Ridvan message:
Dear Baha'i Friends:
`Abdu'l-Baha warned of a time of great testing when but a few would stand firm in the Faith – (loyal and adhering to ever single provision of the sacred Will and Testament of `Abdu'l-Baha). This surely is that time; and we are surely those few! The Master also gave His assurance that after the time of testing the Cause would spread rapidly throughout the world. These are the early days of that time of awakening and it is our spiritual obligation to bring the Message to this present-day spiritually-hungry world; — this world which has never before faced such troublesome times. People long for that Faith and Assurance which the Baha'i Faith offers.
I call upon all the believers therefore, to make haste and go forth with Joy and Assurance — bringing courage and new hope to those who will listen to the message of the promised Kingdom of God (Davidic)
…so long anticipated by peoples of past ages!
The time has come when every believer should study the Book of Aqdas and so conduct himself that the confirmations of the Holy Spirit will descend upon him in waves from on high — making him a pure and sanctified holy person. In the measure that the friends accomplish
this obedience to the laws of the Aqdas in their daily lives will the Cause spread and become strong in Spirit, in numbers and in power throughout the world. The Heroic Age of the Faith must now become the Age of Sanctification.
The protection and propagation of the Faith are two principle functions of the Guardian. Both have to be carried out simultaneously. However, as in the case of an accident to a ship at sea, the captain's first concern is for the safety of those on board. Thus, at the early signs of violation, my first thought was for the safety of the souls of the believers. During these past three years since my proclamation was issued, as shepherd of the Fold, my first duty was to seek the stray sheep. In fact my chief efforts have been to contact confused believers wherever and when ever possible to help free themselves from the influence of the erring group in the Holy Land.
With the beginning of this new year of Ridvan 120 B.E., the end of an Era has passed and our efforts must now be directed towards a new teaching campaign. This does not mean that we are to abandon those misled friends who continue to follow the violation but rather that we must concentrate our united strength to new spiritual goals. As we grow stronger and establish ourselves more firmly, the other group(s) will, be their inevitable errors weaken. When they turn to us for spiritual assistance – (both as individuals firm in the Covenant and as the genuine UHJ) – we must be ever ready and willing to meet the situation and make their return into the True Fold of the Baha'i Faith as joyous for them as it will be for us. This can best be accomplished through love and understanding – as well as through open education to the facts and proofs of the Cause. The issues which separate the people now (into multiple groups) must be clearly understood by all. There is no need for me go into the matter further. Sufficient information is available to anyone who expresses and interest in being enlightened…
Always faithfully in El Abha,
Son of `Abdu'l-Baha/President UHJ.
Thus have the proofs and evidences of the true UHJ recognized by the aghsan-sons of Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha being the presidents to recognize that genuine UHJ from all fakes frauds and imitations been given freely and openly for that last half a century - counting from the passing of Shoghi Effendi in 1957 to 2007: 50 years – 49 years being seven sets of seven or the Hebrew Jubilee! Yet in the face of opposition and violation, the Will and Testaments provisions have ever remained the same, not to contend, not to have strife, not to agress, but to: "IGNORE" and "AVOID" the negative (W&T, p. 20). The reason for this command is that all energies must be directed in the positive spiritual vortex toward the teaching effort, the excavation of Foundation Hall, the erection of the true Mashriqu'l-Adhkar (with its nine attendant intuitions the foundation of Divine Civilization and the Divine Economy) and the general education of the entire human race.
In this same spirit both `Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi have given the following directives that while ignoring and avoiding the negative and containing the teaching effort, the individual rights and freedoms, the civil, political and religious rights of ALL must be protected and upheld and maintained. `Abdu'l-Baha writes:
"Do you mean to say that you consulted together and decided to stop covenant-breaker earning a living? This is not the way to serve the Cause of God. In matters connected with one's livelihood there should be no differentiation between a believer and a covenant-breaker" (`Abdu'l-Baha, cf. Yunus Khan, Khafirat-i-Nuh-Salih).
Concerning Covenant-breakers who have formed multiple groups outside the provisions of the Charter and rejected the true succession of Authority in the Cause Shoghi Effendi further reiterates:
"The point that I should like to impress upon their notice is that they should have the most scrupulous regard to safeguarding the legitimate personal and civil rights of all individuals, whatever may be their chosen career or station in life, and irrespective of their racial, religious or ideological backgrounds. It is not permissible in matters related to such rights to make distinctions and discriminations or show preferences. In all transactions and dealings that affect basic human rights, the standard required of the chosen supporters of Bahá'u'lláh -- a standard that must claim their unhesitating and unreserved acceptance, and which they must meticulously and assiduously uphold -- is that they should not make the slightest distinction between friend and stranger, believer and unbeliever, supporter and antagonist…the mere fact of disaffection or estrangement, or recantation of belief (even in the cases of Covenant-breaking and forming Baha'i sects outside the provisions of the Charter) - can in no way detract from the legitimate civil rights of free citizens or otherwise impinge upon them, even to the extent of the eye of a needle. If the friends were to act otherwise it would be tantamount to a reversion on their part -- in this century of radiance and light -- to the ways of those of a former age: they would re-ignite in men's breasts the fire of bigotry and intolerance; they would cut themselves off from the glorious bestowals and bounties of this promised Day of God; and they would frustrate the full revelation of God's grace and favour to men in this luminous age." (Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of Iran, July 1925)
These rights include their right to free speech, right to assemble, right to worship, right to organize intuitions for the governance of their own religious affairs just as any other religion or group. For those firm in the Covenant their right is to avoid hostility with any groups or individuals and ensure their own rights and freedoms are also protected safeguarded and guaranteed.
For this reason it is hard for the primitive mind of man to understand the true watchword of "unity in diversity" where God has brought about multiple religions in the world at large – most notably the 7 Great Faiths (Indigenous/Sabien, Judaic, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Buddhist, Christianity and Islam) as well as allowed the formation of 7 Baha'i Rites that accept the Charter of the Will and Testament and 2 dissenting Baha'i groups - that probate the Will and thus validate it - who do not.
It is the position of the present Council of the UHJ (www.uhj.net) to support the individuals of all these diverse and multiple groups as well as due respect for those in leadership positions in order to amplify the diversity that God has chosen to accentuate at this time in order that the underlying real Unity and Spiritual precepts of the Covenant can be brought out into the more fundamental and distinct light. As `Abdu'l-Baha has written: `it is through the contrast of differing opinions the spark of truth is made known'. Thus through God allowing 8 main forms of violation, that uphold the one, the spark of truth of the provisions of the Will and Testament is clearly demarcated and established - even as the 7 great faiths all prophesize Baha'u'llah, the Revelation He brings is thus richly adorned through its truth seen through these 7 Great Perspectives of the One God – illuminated by the Nine Great Revelators of the Adamic Cycle.
Now, this is not new, but this has been the same policy and directive from that time forward by the Founders of the Faith - one of support and solidarity in ministering to all the individuals no matter of which group of the 7 Great World Faiths or 7 Rites - 7 main groups of the Baha'i faith they may find themselves struggling within. This policy is one ameliorating the negative, rancor and dispute and of teaching the faith with that single-minded goal of the spiritual and everlasting Kingdom in sight. Again in the early years shortly after his own proclamation in 1960, `Abdu'l-Baha's son, Mason, the last aghsan surviving in the world at that time, and first President of our Council of the Universal House of Justice, made this same sentiment abundantly clear, not only as shown in the Ridvan 1963 letter, but also other directives from that time:
"…the policy of the friends supporting the Guardianship should be to concentrate on the spread of our teachings and the development of our numbers; assured that the Power of the spirit of the Covenant would eventually lead the friends to the way most acceptable to God." "From the beginning of this century [during the Heroic Age], I have been trying to create firmness in the Covenant of the faith by attacking and condemning violations and violators until now, at this late date in my life, I see that the time for such methods is past. The Faith of Baha'u'llah is a living and a growing and a changing Faith, and its supporters must always bear this matter in mind in the actions." "The only thing for all of us to do is simply forget and forgive al past inharmonies and to stop all struggling of one group with another. We have much teaching to be done…" (Mason, Aghsan, 1963, 1964)
From Mason through his son and successor to the throne, Pepe:
"The Guardian (Mason) thinks it wise to address "all" Baha'is as"Baha'is" for, whether they understand it or not, they are under his
spiritual protection. In the past [three years:1960-1963], it was necessary to maintain a certain "isolation" from those who followed the erring hands in Haifa [and other 7 groups]. Now that the Cause of the Guardianship [the recognition of the true UHJ with the Davidic King as its president] is well established [as of 1963] and destined to flourish with greater momentum in the future, it is time to consider ourselves as all part of one family even if they on the opposition reject and deny our efforts." (Mason, Aghsan, 6 February 1963)
"We are now in a new day – the day of God – we can no longer hope to settle the problems before us by human reasoning nor by Administrative measures. This is due principally to the fact that the people's problems are now so complex and bewildering that nothing but the spiritual realities of our Faith can solve them. All of mankind is now suffering from the effects of these spiritual illnesses. That is why I say that the day for punitive corrections of the erring friends is past. The people who are insisting upon justice must forget and forgive injustices and seek refuge by forgetting themselves and by praying and supplicating on behalf of those who are making trouble for them. By this spiritual means to this universal world problem, the individual will have solved his own personal problem while at the same time contributing towards the solution of the present-day general problems of the world.
"In simple terms: these quarrels and disputes between individuals and groups must just STOP; and, at all costs, to the individual. Thus when we think of the Cause of God we should realize that only through broken hearts and suffering is the Foundation of the Kingdom of God to be attained.
"Everyone is free to do as he wishes. God gives us that free choice. Let those who wish to come under the Guardianship [under the provisions of the Covenant] come and let those who do not want the Guardianship [of the Davidic Kings - presidents of the genuine UHJ] go their way. Having made his choice, an individual belonging to one group or the other will find his own reward!" (Mason, Aghsan, October 21, 1965)
At the present time, the diversity of religions throughout the world as well as the diversity of multiple Baha'i groups at the present time is a God-ordained reality to accentuate the spiritual unity and truth of the provisions of the Covenant which is the operating reality behind the scenes. These seven fold appearance of the same light in seven different lamps are prophesied to occur in the Book of Revelation as the Seven Spirits of God – the Seven Torches burning - before His Throne, that throne being the throne of King David (1 Chron. 29:23) passed down from Baha'u'llah to his son, `Abdu'l-Baha to his son, Mason, to his son Pepe, and to his son Neal, the great-grandson of `Abdu'l-Baha alive in the world today. This type of intellectual-spiritual understanding of the growth and evolutionary development of the Cause in the minds of men, has been noticed by very few. Mortimer J. Adler broaches the subject in his book, which everyone should read and contemplate upon: "Truth in Religion: The Plurality of Religions and the Unity of Truth:
"In the sphere of all matters subject to individual thought and decision, pluralism is desirable and tolerable only in those areas that are matters of taste rather than matters of truth. Preferences with regard to cuisine, dress, patterns of dance, social manners, artistic styles do not raise any questions of truth… Such matters belong in the sphere of the voluntary. But with regard to matters that belong in the sphere of intellect, matters involving truth not taste, a persistent pluralism is intolerable… But such intolerance is entirely a private matter. It does not call for the suppression of the false opinions that others still hold. It does not call for any social or political action enforcing unanimity in the adoption of the truth. It does not call for witch hunts, McCarthy tactics, or the burning of heretics. It calls only for continued discussion between individuals." (Alder, Truth in Religion, pp. 2, 3)
The idea that there is truth in Religion – that is the unity of truth - can been demonstrated in the transcendental concepts underlying all world faiths. This is the Unity of God, the Unity of Truth, and the diversity of practice and the diversity of perception. This watchword therefore "Unity in Diversity" cuts through much superficial difference that has been contentious points amongst some of the people and fanatics. The further introduction of the lens of the Will and Testament into the equation, shows that egregious separation from the provisions of the Charter by the formation of diverse groups and sects that have now by this time "separated the gathering of the people of Baha [i.e. the Baha'is]" (W&T, p. 12) into about 9 main groups with two rejecting the Will and Testament altogether and seven upholding the Document of the Charter but not upholding or invoking all of its sacred provisions which show those groups are outside the Charter Itself. This has created an acrimonious atmosphere between many of the Baha'i groups contrary to the spirit of the revelation of Baha'u'llah even as certain particular clergy in the three Great faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, have fomented certain ones to the point of war and hatred, as well as have influenced political leaders such as Bush, Saddam, Bin Laden, Blaire, Rice, and others, into apocalyptic theodicies that govern their foreign policies and lead to this inimical War of Terror.
Therefore the our Universal House of Justice is "Universal" as it recognizes these diversities and the root Cause of them. By understanding the root, it is just. By providing a safe haven to the Davidic King and fellow believers and loving-kindness/acceptance to all the peoples of the world it is not just a house, but a home. That a certain minority element – the corrupt clergy in particular who foments discord – is found throughout all the groups, while the majority are peaceful spiritual people, who yet unfortunately like the Jews and Romans (who had similar spiritual foundations in general) were still unable to prevent these certain negative elements within their midst participating in the death of Christ; today the people are now empowered to prevent such repetition. Thus toady due to folly and allowing that negative minority element to rule, Christ survives and His Blood of the Covenant lives on for ever on earth as it is in heaven – but on the other hand one third of making will be killed in one hour of thermonuclear war, New York City being the first targeted city in the escalation of this war, as we have said so before – and all this due to violation and the violators bringing down upon themselves.
The next life therefore is our real life, yet we live in the moment and work for the needs of today as perpetual servant of humanity. This is why in going forward in ignoring the negative and avoiding that negative minority who are the arch-violators themselves - and by ignoring I mean treating them with kindness and respect and not wrangling – the Cause of light is ever victorious. This true spiritual is so missing from the hierocracy and mindset of that certain element of controlling cliques that have to prevent their own followers from finding out the provisions of the Will and Testament, that former members of these type of "regimes" are shocked to find the true spirit of the faith as still contained within the authentic writings themselves and of course within practice under the provisions of the Covenant itself in our Community of the Covenant internationally. It is baffling to these minds, how we can therefore understand, remain firm and yet commingle and associate within all these seven groups, thus our friends and believers are throughout all 7 great faiths, and throughout all 7 Baha'i groups as well and in all of these cases some in the highest ranking outer positions of administrative authority within those other groups! Yet servants to no one but to God Himself."Unity in diversity." Walking the spiritual path with practical feet. Thus all are encouraged to remain in their respected communities and in full association with their peoples. The negative element within all groups is obvious and the Directive: avoid it, shun it, ignore it; while continuing to function within the body of God, that is the body of humanity, the heart of which is, as is all our hearts meant to be, His home – "sanctify it for My descent!" This type of shock and awe is best exampled in the following comment of a eminent Baha'i scholar on the foundations of the Cause and the early vigilant forms of the Cause - similar to Mosaic Law and practice - under the Dispensation of the Bab which lasted 9 or 19 years. Not only had he never lived in a community that practiced the spirit of these writings, as exemplified by Mason Remey Aghsan, `Abdu'l-Baha's son, in his Directives as President of the Universal House of Justice from the early 1960's, this valuable scholar had never come across the writings of `Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi which reiterate that self same Directive of respect and preservation of the rights of the multiple Baha'i groups and their members and their leaders:
"To be honest, this flabbergasted me. I had never seen the passages in question before, and they caught me unawares. Anything, whether scriptural or otherwise, I had ever read previously on covenant-breakers, had been extremely negative: reading their words is like "eating vomit" (as put by a [Covenant-breaking] Hand of the Cause), they are utterly despicable, they are to be shunned absolutely, even by their families, and so on. All of those vitriolic passages in God Passes By about Azal and Mirza Muhammad 'Ali, and Ruth White, and Ahmad Sohrab, and every 'enemy of the Faith' from Hajj Mirza Aqasi on. So to learn that even Covenant-Breakers have rights turns a lot of my assumptions upside down. The biggest puzzle, of course, is why there aren't more passages displaying this degree of humanity, and why the Bahá'ís haven't made greater efforts to present this side of their faith, instead of the heavy-handed conservatism to be found in the work of so many eminent [Covenant-breaking] exponents." (Dennis MacEoin)
Again, the individual using his intellect must attain the station of ignoring the negative and seeing the positive. Like a doctor who looks into the negative purely for the purposes of diagnosis and healing and then takes immediate remedial action to heal the patient with a compress as well as assure his own protection from contagion as well as the communicable spread to others. Surely negativity- in whatsoever form it attempts to manifest - is the greatest and most virulent enemy of the livelihood of man in this day, most assuredly in the level of spirituality and religion. That this faith has arch-violators, and is continuously assaulted by "satanic intrigue" from within and from without described in certain passages of historic literature in"vitriolic" terms only further suggests and demonstrates the remarkable importance of the hidden treasure concealed within this Cause - something valuable beyond all understanding, to provoke the envy and jealously and malice of certain others to such a pitch of intrigue and virulent attack. Also it clarifies the fundamental aims of the Cause as the real and operative forces of light versus the real life forces of darkness, as well as makes for good and entertaining reading. God is the Author of Reality. Blessed are those that read His Book with His Own Eyes!
The other religion in the world, the religion of hate, has no place in the Cause of God, excepting that it accentuates the religion of the One True Invisible God chiaroscuro in such stark contrast to the brilliant proofs!
"Fain would they put out God's light with their mouths: but God only desireth to perfect His light, albeit the Infidels abhor it so!" –Baha'u'llah, "Book of Certitude".
Happy Ridvan, 144!
On Behalf of the Universal House of Justice
and all the loving friends and
coworkers at the International World Teaching Center,
Neal Chase ben Joseph Aghsan,
Great-grandson of `Abdu'l-Baha,