www.bahairants.

com QUOTES CLARIFYING THE INSTITUTE PROCESS Quote 1: Each chooses how best serve the Faith

A Personal Baha'i Blog

Yet clearly such participation is not a requirement for every Bahá’í, who, in the final analysis, can choose the manner in which he or she will serve the Faith. What is essential is that the institute process be supported even by those who do not wish to take part in it. The Universal House of Justice, 31 May 2001 Quote 2: Institute courses are not obligatory It is natural that any given educational program would not appeal to everyone, and clearly participating in the courses of an institute is not a requirement to be fulfilled by all believers. In no way, then, should those who do not wish to take part feel that they are disobeying the directives of the Universal House of Justice. It does ask, however, that everyone, even those not involved, support the institute process and not impede its steady progress.(…) Finally, the House of Justice feels that it would be beneficial for you to separate in your mind the training institute process, so intimately connected with the promotion of large-scale expansion and consolidation, from the many deepening classes, workshops and summer school courses that form a fundamental part of Bahá’í community life. Their number and diversity actually seem to be on the rise as a result of the institute process. Indeed, you will be reassured to know that, as the believers gain confidence in their capacity to serve through the institute process, a much richer expression of the diverse talents of the friends is beginning to appear in the Bahá’í world—a richness that bodes well for the future progress of the Cause. (UHJ to an individual, 26 June 2002) Quote 3: Forming human resources where possible It should be remembered that not every believer in Tanzania will necessarily participate in your institute program. Rather, a certain percentage of the friends will need to receive training in order to enhance their capacity to carry out the tasks of expansion and consolidation, including the teaching and deepening of the generality of the believers. At this early stage in the establishment of the institute, then, the question of illiteracy should not be a central concern. The immediate challenge before you is to help a large number of the many capable members of your community, especially young people with some formal education, progress through a sequence of a few basic courses. (UHJ to the NSA of TANZANIA, 20 May 1998) Quote 4: Previous activities to continue unabated: avoiding zealotry www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

There has been a major change in the functioning of Baha'i communities resulting from pursuing the goals of the Five Year Plan. There are a couple of 'normal problems' that have arisen: 1.. those who don't want to participate in the core activities. They are free to do as they wish, they are not to be pressured or criticized for their lack of involvement. 2.. the zealots who are totally committed to the core activities to the exclusion of all else. We must understand that the other activities that are a part of individual and community life are to continue unabated. For example, firesides, deepenings, Feasts, teaching campaigns, and prayer. These problems are a result of our lack of maturity at this time. We should accept them as normal challenges that will, in time be overcome. It is important to note the difference between priority and exclusivity. At present, the core activities have a priority because of their part in the Five Year Plan. They are not, however, exclusive. The normal activities of individuals and communities are to continue as before but hopefully enhanced by the effect of the core activities. Q: Concern about the preoccupation with numerical goals of the Plan that seems to lose sight of qualitative growth. A: At the risk of sounding patronizing, this trend is a part of the maturation process. As we mature we will go beyond the numbers and see that our successes are all built on air if things are not done with a great deal of quality. (We can attain the numerical goals in a superficial way but for them to endure we must ensure that our new believers are set on a firm spiritual foundation. -Paraphrase) (Peter Khan: Talk in Canada, 20th August 2005) The other problem we have in certain parts of the world is the opposite one. We’ve got Bahá’ís who say “If you are not involved in the core activities there is something terribly wrong with you” and they go further and say “This is all you should be doing. Forget firesides, forget deepening classes, forget Bahá’í college classes, forget proclamation, Bahá’í studies – just do core activities”. That is the other extreme. We found this from time to time. One of the surprising things I encountered was meeting with pilgrims who come to the Holy Land, 200 at a time, every two weeks for nine days for nine months of the year and we meet with these friends in the evening in informal sessions. I came across it when during the question period people would stand up and say “Is it alright to continue to have firesides and deepening classes?” I said, “What kind of question is that?” The Guardian said it was basic to our Bahá’í spiritual life; it is not something for us to say is good, bad or indifferent. It is an intrinsic part of Bahá’í life as certified by Shoghi Effendi. And I realised from that, in certain parts of the world there were zealots who were saying “Do nothing but core activities” and that of course is an extreme statement, it is not endorsed by the Universal House of Justice. It is not right. It produces a narrowness in the Baha’i community as well as it produces a degree of resentment and antagonism for those who are www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com so pressured. (Peter Khan Brisbane, 14 08 05)

A Personal Baha'i Blog

Quote 5: Deepening side by side with the institute process remains of critical importance An important point to bear in mind is that these study groups are not local deepening classes or local institutes, but elements of a system of distance-education administered by a national or regional institute. (…) Although it is likely that as local communities grow, there will be those large enough to have their own independent institutes, at this point, such institutes run the danger, as you have surmised, of turning into deepening classes, which are, of course, of critical importance themselves and an activity every local community should carry out. (UHJ, Training institutes, April 1998) Quote 6: Deepening remains essential, outside the institute activities In designing the program for the education of the members of the Bahá'í community in the Teachings, and in selecting the curricula of summer schools and similar occasions, a National Spiritual Assembly should include all aspects of life, including the choosing Of a spouse, but the House of Justice feels that it is important for this to be done in context. It is not felt, however, that this specialized subject is one which would be suitable for training institutes, which have their own clearly defined purpose.(UHJ, 18 January 1999) Quote 7: Institute activities do not replace deepening Like the institutes in Africa, those in Australasia are focusing their energies increasingly on the offering of training programs, rather than deepening courses alone. The solution does not seem to be the establishment of local institutes, independent of the national institute.... these run the danger of turning into deepening classes. This is not to say that every local community should not continue to conduct regular deepening programs. But, as far as human resource development is concerned, the methodology that seems to be most effective in reaching believers at the local level is the formation of study circles which are co-ordinated by a national institute or one of its branches. (TRAINING INSTITUTES AND SYSTEMATIC GROWTH, A document prepared by the International Teaching Centre, February 2000) Quote 8: Deepening remains valued, but also the mobilizing of large numbers by the Institutes Early on in the Four Year Plan it became apparent in many countries that although deepening was essential and must continue, the in-depth study of a book or specialized subject in the institutes would not necessarily result in mobilizing large numbers of Bahá'ís to become active teachers. There are, of course, many important subjects in which believers need to deepen, but the House of Justice in several letters has discouraged training institutes from incorporating specialized topics into their programs at the expense of a www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com focus on a basic sequence of courses. Quote 9: No exclusion of those not involved in the institute

A Personal Baha'i Blog

At the same time the House of Justice has explained that no special designation should be accorded to those who are studying in the institute or serving as tutors, nor should the friends feel any demarcation based on participation in the institute: It is quite reasonable to expect that, as far as training by the institute is concerned, certain courses would have as their prerequisite the completion of other courses. However, this notion should not be carried over into other Baha'i activities, and clearly no distinction should be made between "trained" and "untrained" believers in the country. That for certain types of service the qualifications of the believers would need to be taken into account is natural. Yet the way should be open for all the friends, irrespective of the degree of their knowledge and experience, to participate in the affairs of the Faith.... (Letter dated 4 October 2000 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the Spiritual Assembly of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In Building Momentum p4) Quote 10: Loving assistance for global advancement and not mutual blaming He urges you to exert your utmost to get the ... Baha'is to put aside such obnoxious terms as "radical", "conservative", "progressive", "enemies of the Cause", "squelching the teachings", etc. If they paused for one moment to think for what purpose the Bab and the Martyrs gave their lives, and Baha'u'llah and the Master accepted so much suffering, they would never let such definitions and accusations cross their lips when speaking of each other. As long as the friends quarrel amongst themselves their efforts will not be blessed for they are disobeying God. (From a letter dated 24 February 1950 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, Shoghi Effendi: Living the Life, Pages: 21-22) Quote 11: The instrument should not supercede the goal I need not dwell upon what I have already reiterated and emphasized that the administration of the Cause is to be conceived as an instrument and not a substitute for the Faith of Baha'u'llah, that it should be regarded as a channel through which His promised blessings may flow, that it should guard against such rigidity as would clog and fetter the liberating forces released by His Revelation. (…) ; that the whole machinery of assemblies, of committees and conventions is to be regarded as a means, and not an end in itself; that they will rise or fall according to their capacity to further the interests, to co-ordinate the activities, to apply the principles, to embody the ideals and execute the purpose of the Baha'i Faith. (…) It is surely for those to whose hands so priceless a heritage has been committed to prayerfully watch lest the tool should supersede the Faith itself, lest undue concern for the minute details arising from the administration of the Cause obscure the vision of its promoters, lest partiality, ambition, and worldliness tend in the course of time to becloud the radiance, stain the purity, and impair the effectiveness of the Faith of Baha'u'llah. (Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, Pages: 9-10) www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com Quote 12 Deepening is different from mass teaching efforts

A Personal Baha'i Blog

As the friends gain a clearer understanding of the intent of the House of Justice in calling for the establishment of institutes, these local efforts will gradually become associated, as branches or study groups, with a regional institute serving a much larger population. In this context, what defines a region will necessarily vary.... Regardless, with the strengthening of regional institutes, the concept of a training institute will become more and more separated in the minds of the friends from that of a local deepening class or a teaching group. (Letter dated 10 August 1998 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States) Quote 13: Adapting the institute to degree literacy Although the present institute courses are geared to believers with basic education, efforts to address problems of illiteracy can be given more attention as the institute develops, possibly through offering a literacy course in a track for social and economic development. This would ensure that there will continue to be a ready population to undergo training and also guarantee that certain groups with a high degree of illiteracy, such as women, are not left behind in the process of developing human resources. Quote 14 Genuine concern for humanity Having an "outward-looking orientation" also suggests that it is important for Baha'is to understand more deeply the forces operating on the world stage and the solutions offered by the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. Our task is to convey to seekers that we are all living in the same world, facing common trials, and striving to fulfil similar, long-held aspirations for the human race. Our expressions of solidarity with our fellow human beings must be sincerely voiced and genuinely felt. (Building Momentum p 19) Quote 15 Previous activities remain the foundations of our religion Overall there are certain things one can say about these new directions. There is, as always when the Faith moves into new directions, a danger of extremes. One extreme is to ridicule it and to stay far away from it – "all you silly people running around with study classes and Ruhi books and institutes and clusters and the like, this is a lot of nonsense" – ridiculing it. The other extreme is to harass the people who do not want to get involved in it – "You are unfaithful to the Covenant; you know you should be doing it. It says in the Five Year Plan that you should do it" and so on. The House of Justice, in a letter that has been published in the "Building Momentum" document, has said it is quite allowable for those who do not want to be part of this – these new directions. It's okay. But what we say is: "Please be supportive of it. If you don't want to come to study classes, if you don't want to go to institutes, if you don't want to participate in cluster meetings, it's okay – fine. Don't feel guilty, don't get embarrassed or worried about it. But please don't say bad things about it, please be nice about it – because it is part of the Five Year Plan and gradually, as time goes on, you may www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

feel yourself inclined to become at least partially or fully involved in it. We do not want these new directions that have appeared since 1996 to be a form of division of the Bahá'í community. We do not want it to become a club to beat others with. If you want to do it, welcome, we need all the help we can get. If you feel it is not to your taste, that's okay. We won't say nasty things about you, but please don't say nasty things about it." The other thing I want to say about these new directions is that the old stuff doesn't suddenly get out of date. We still need individual initiative; we still need firesides, deepening classes, LSA development, personal spiritual practices - prayer, fasting and moral development. They did not suddenly go out of style because of clusters and institutes and study circles and all the rest of it. They still remain the foundation of our religion. What is happening with all this? What is happening is an organic process. Gradually the structure of the Bahá'i community is emerging. The Nineteen Day Feast was the basis of the structure; now new elements of structure are emerging – the clusters, study circles, institutes, all these kinds of things. It is a bit like embryology: the embryo initially is a fertilised ovum and it is basically a tiny little blob. Everything is basically the same; there is no structure – it is spherical blob. Gradually, with the passage of time in the embryonic development, structure emerges; little things emerge that turn out to be the head, little things emerge that turn out to be the arms and later even more little things emerge which turn out to be the fingers and so on and so forth. The embryonic World Order of Bahá'u'lláh is developing structure, little by little, and if you looked at the embryo in the first few weeks of pregnancy, you would see the emergence of elements of structure. And you would say, "How about that. The thing is developing structure." Well, stick around for a few more months and we'll show you structure like you've never heard. (Peter Khan, Sydney, 30 Nov. 2003, Present Day needs of the Baha'i Community) Quote 16: All Baha’is to assume service once offered by priests Baha'u'llah has enjoined upon the Baha'is the sacred obligation of teaching. We have no priests, therefore the service once rendered by priests to their religions is the service every single Baha'i is expected to render individually to his religion. He must be the one who enlightens new souls, confirms them, heals the wounded and the weary upon the road of life, and gives them to quaff from the chalice of everlasting life - the knowledge of the Manifestation of God in His Day. (From a letter dated 5 July 1957 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Bahá'ís of the Benelux countries) (Compilation, The Individual and Teaching - Raising the Divine Call, front piece) Quote 17 New activities do not out-date old ones Whenever one has change, there are problems and that is so in this Faith. What we find with the core activities of the Plan is that there are two kinds of problem. One is arising from very sincere and devoted Bahá’ís who say “I don’t want to get involved in this stuff, I don’t want to go to Ruhi Book whatever it is, I don’t want to go along to these things” and so on, www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

and what we need to realize is that those Bahá’ís are perfectly entitled to their opinion. We need to recognize the legitimacy of the attitude of those Bahá’ís who, for whatever reason, choose not to participate as fully as what I’d like in the activities of the Faith, in terms of core activities. They have the right to say “Yes, I want to be a part of it” or “No, I don’t want to be part of it.” There are a multitude of reasons which they feel are appropriate to them. Some people have ill health, some are disabled, some are tired, some are working very, very hard and get exhausted, some people feel that they know the information, some feel the approach of the Ruhi classes is below their intellectual level – there are all kinds of reasons. Whatever those reasons are, whether you or I feel their value, we need to recognize that the individual is entitled to make up his or her mind about involvement in those core activities without the fear of being harassed or condemned or put down or humiliated by fellow believers. What we don’t want is people to say, “It’s terrible, nobody should do it, those who do it must be mentally retarded or anything like that”. It is part of the Five Year Plan. The other problem we have in certain parts of the world is the opposite one. We’ve got Bahá’ís who say “If you are not involved in the core activities there is something terribly wrong with you” and they go further and say “This is all you should be doing. Forget firesides, forget deepening classes, forget Bahá’í college classes, forget proclamation, Bahá’í studies – just do core activities”. That is the other extreme. We found this from time to time. One of the surprising things I encountered was meeting with pilgrims who come to the Holy Land, 200 at a time, every two weeks for nine days for nine months of the year and we meet with these friends in the evening in informal sessions. I came across it when during the question period people would stand up and say “Is it alright to continue to have firesides and deepening classes?” I said, “What kind of question is that?” The Guardian said it was basic to our Bahá’í spiritual life; it is not something for us to say is good, bad or indifferent. It is an intrinsic part of Bahá’í life as certified by Shoghi Effendi. And I realised from that, in certain parts of the world there were zealots who were saying “Do nothing but core activities” and that of course is an extreme statement, it is not endorsed by the Universal House of Justice. It is not right. It produces a narrowness in the Baha’i community as well as it produces a degree of resentment and antagonism for those who are so pressured. But these are growing pains. They are not things to be worried about greatly. They are not things to be allowed to continue indefinitely but they are part and parcel of the growth of the Faith. (Dr Peter Khan, Brisbane, 14 August 2005) Quote 17 bis: New activities do not out-date old ones (second transcript) There has been a major change in the functioning of Baha'i communities resulting from pursuing the goals of the Five Year Plan. There are a couple of 'normal problems' that have arisen: 1.. those who don't want to participate in the core activities. They are free to do as they wish, they are not to be pressured or criticized for their lack of involvement. 2.. the zealots who are totally committed to the core activities to the exclusion of all else. We must understand that the other activities that are a part of individual and community life are to continue unabated. For example, firesides, deepenings, Feasts, www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

teaching campaigns, and prayer. These problems are a result of our lack of maturity at this time. We should accept them as normal challenges that will, in time be overcome. It is important to note the difference between priority and exclusivity. At present, the core activities have a priority because of their part in the Five Year Plan. They are not, however, exclusive. The normal activities of individuals and communities are to continue as before but hopefully enhanced by the effect of the core activities. Q: Concern about the preoccupation with numerical goals of the Plan that seems to lose sight of qualitative growth. A: At the risk of sounding patronizing, this trend is a part of the maturation process. As we mature we will go beyond the numbers and see that our successes are all built on air if things are not done with a great deal of quality. (We can attain the numerical goals in a superficial way but for them to endure we must ensure that our new believers are set on a firm spiritual foundation. -Paraphrase) (Peter Khan: Talk in Canada, 20th August 2005) The other problem we have in certain parts of the world is the opposite one. We’ve got Bahá’ís who say “If you are not involved in the core activities there is something terribly wrong with you” and they go further and say “This is all you should be doing. Forget firesides, forget deepening classes, forget Bahá’í college classes, forget proclamation, Bahá’í studies – just do core activities”. That is the other extreme. We found this from time to time. One of the surprising things I encountered was meeting with pilgrims who come to the Holy Land, 200 at a time, every two weeks for nine days for nine months of the year and we meet with these friends in the evening in informal sessions. I came across it when during the question period people would stand up and say “Is it alright to continue to have firesides and deepening classes?” I said, “What kind of question is that?” The Guardian said it was basic to our Bahá’í spiritual life; it is not something for us to say is good, bad or indifferent. It is an intrinsic part of Bahá’í life as certified by Shoghi Effendi. And I realized from that, in certain parts of the world there were zealots who were saying “Do nothing but core activities” and that of course is an extreme statement, it is not endorsed by the Universal House of Justice. It is not right. It produces a narrowness in the Baha’i community as well as it produces a degree of resentment and antagonism for those who are so pressured. (Peter Khan Brisbane, 14 08 05) Quote 18: Priority is not exclusivity This activity of the Five Year Plan has been a major change in the content and the functioning of Bahá’í communities in all parts of the world. And as a result, we have had a certain number of problems, which I tend to categorize as «normal» problems (if there can be such a thing!). They are problems which you can expect whenever there is a commitment to some kind of change. They are mainly of two kinds, one kind are people who say I am very comfortable with the way I am. I don’t want to get involved in all this stuff. Go and do it, and good luck to you, but I prefer not to participate in the study circles, the institute programs and the various other activities. And our response to that is that they are perfectly free to do as they wish. This is a religion which attaches a great degree of importance to individual initiative and freedom. Those who feel, for whatever reason, be they right or be they wrong, www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

that they know enough about the writings that they don’t need this kind of thing, fine; they are free to maintain their position. And they should not be criticized, or harassed, or condemned, or pressured. The other extreme we have, which is the other part of these so called «normal problem,» are those who are at the other end of the spectrum. The zealots, who insist that if you are not participating in these various core activities of the plan, for a start there is something wrong with you in relation to the covenant, «Why are you not doing this? You should be,» and that you should not do anything else! That you should not have firesides, deepening classes, study classes, campus activities, proclamation, Bahá’í studies programs and the like. I categorize that also as a normal problem. It is a normal problem of human enthusiasm. And gradually it moderates. And gradually it calms down and gradually things return to a certain degree of equilibrium as the Bahá’í community goes forward. The House of Justice has never at any time abrogated the responsibility placed on Bahá’ís, by no less a figure than the Guardian and his interpretations of the sacred Writings, to have firesides; the importance of systematic deepenings in the foundational books of our Faith; the intensive study of Gleanings, the Kitáb-i-Iqán and of course now the Kitáb-i-Aqdas and other books; the necessity to acquire a good sound understanding of the theory of practice of the Bahá’í Administrative Order. These are with us, have been with us, and will remain with us, throughout the Dispensation. They have not been changed by the commendable enthusiasm for the core activities. And often one can find that some of the perdavations (perversions ???) are due to a confusion between priority and exclusivity. There are things that are priority. Core activities are priorities, because they are specified as part of the Five Year Plan. But this does not mean that they should be exclusive. (Transcript of a talk by Dr. Peter Khan in Vancouver B.C. on August 20, 2005) Quote 19: Issuing Diplomas Discouraged - Sometimes They Are Misused "We have also noted that you intend to give graduation diplomas to the friends who attend the institutes. Your desire to acknowledge devoted attendance at the institutes is most commendable, but we feel it would be preferable in future to give a suitable gift, such as a book, rather than a diploma. From experience in other areas of the world we have learned that such diplomas sometimes are misused by their recipients. For this reason we have discouraged their use." (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of Guatemala, October 27, 1965: Ibid., p. 20) (Multiple Authors: Lights of Guidance, Page: 564) Quote 20: Core activities open to all "What we ask the friends to do in the intervening period is to bend all their energies to put into resolute action the systematic learning being so vigorously promoted by the International Teaching Centre. No Baha'i should lose the priceless opportunity afforded by the remaining days of the Plan to reinforce in this way the foundation for the launching next Ridvan of an even more ambitious undertaking." (UHJ, Ridvan 2005 message) Quote 21: Empowering idividual initiatives www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

The core activities, as I see it, have a certain basic significance. There are, I believe, two or three points. The first is that it is a vehicle to avoid the dichotomy of the active leader with a passive congregation that follows him. That problem has never been solved in religious history. Every religion that we know about has either started off or after a fairly short time settled down into the active leader, who is on the edge of a nervous breakdown because he is so busy, and the passive congregation that is expected just to sit there and do what it’s told. Bahá’u’lláh has broken that dichotomy down to create an active participating community of believers from which administrators are elected or appointed for limited periods. We have a lot of work to do to break down this tendency of Bahá’í communities to fall into that pattern of super-active individuals who either are exalted or who exalt themselves, and the passive rest of us who do what we’re told and try not to make too much trouble. We have to break that down as our teachings tell us it is not the right pattern. We have a lot of work to do to absorb it within our bones, to make it an integral part of our functioning; it will take generations to do that. Our core activities rest upon the fact that we do not have any leader or guru who tells us what the words mean, but rather we rely on the power of consultation and understanding in order to develop a deeper vision of what the Creative Word is about. This is quite different from the elected Assemblies with their decision-making powers in the realm of action, and the appointed Counselors and their helpers to provide advice, encouragement and counsel. Secondly, the core activities are a means of training us in the vital aspects of Bahá’í life. As we participate in the core activities we realize that what we are doing is paying homage to the concept that humans need spiritual food as well as material food. We are underlining the supremacy of the Creative Word for understanding and devotion. By the very act of our participating in core activities, we are affirming that the Creative Word is supreme. We are recognizing the legitimacy of individual understanding. If the study circle goes well, each individual opinion is given a legitimate degree of respect. We don’t have people saying, “Oh, that’s stupid. You don’t know what you’re talking about,” or anything like that. We emphasize the legitimacy of the sincere expression of personal understanding. Through the mechanics of the operation of the core activities we don’t have authoritative individuals who acquire a following; people don’t hang on every word and say, “Well, I believe that to be true because I heard something he said and therefore it must be right.” We don’t have any of that. Rather, the Word is the authority. It gives us experience in consultation and in forming a sense of community in the study circle, which is generalizable then to the broader community. Probably most important of all, the core activities are designed to inculcate in us a culture of learning. That culture of learning is fundamental to our religion because we are a religion of change. The central body of our Cause, the Universal House of Justice, is an institution committed to change, charged with the duty of change by virtue of the statements in the Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, so intrinsically we are a religion of dynamic change rather than seeking a static ideal condition. That philosophy of change permeates all aspects of our religion, and change implies an attitude of learning. If you believe you are learning, then you are committed to continually changing and improving and developing, which is fundamental to our religion. www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

Finally, there are, as in any other venture, certain hazards. They don’t upset us too much, but there are certain hazards that we face in launching upon core activities and embarking on this new phase in the development of Bahá’í communities. One of these hazards is the extremism of zealots. We do have zealots, people who say, “If you’re not going to engage in the core activities, you’re highly suspect, perhaps something like a Covenant-breaker because you’re disobedient to the Cause.” Now, we can calm everybody down, by referring to the message sent by the Universal House of Justice on 28 December 2005 addressed to the National Spiritual Assemblies. It makes the point that if you don’t want to participate in the core activities, it’s okay; you’re not being disobedient to the Cause. If your orientation is that you want to do proclamation and that’s all you want to do, God bless you. We need proclamation. If your orientation is you want to write beautiful poetry which will undoubtedly express Bahá’í values, go for it; we need that and it can be a powerful means of attracting people to the Cause. We need the richness and diversity of Bahá’í life. What we have to do is overcome the zealotry of people who are really enthused about this new direction and to re-channel their penchant to pressure other people. If there is any pressure, it lies in the authority of the text; it is not the zealotry of those who want to go to extremes. Another hazard that I noticed is the age-old danger of neglecting the long-term in favour of the short-term. We’ve been facing this for several decades. It generally expresses itself in the view that time is so short that we had better stop this long-term development we’re doing, and concentrate on doing some short-term projects. Therein lies disaster. This is how companies go bankrupt, they focus only on the short-term and neglect the long-term. We are obviously not a commercial company, but we are an organization. Any organization must have certain people who are focusing on the long-term; certain people who are focusing on the short-term and certain people who are focusing on the middle-term. It cannot be denied that time is short. The world is going to pieces. We do need believers to work very, very hard to help us get the 1500 intensive programs of growth in the Five Year Plan, but we also need lots of people who are focusing on the long-term needs of the Cause. We need poor souls who are committing themselves to getting PhD’s because we will need a certain number of PhD’s to order to help us in reaching various strata of society in the future, to strengthen the Bahá’í community and to help in the protection of the Faith. We need Bahá’ís to participate in business, and develop commercial enterprises because that will be of benefit to the stature of the Faith and the efficiency of its administrative functioning; it will indicate the uniqueness of the Faith, that it doesn’t reject material possessions, and it will assist in providing much-needed material resources. So, my point is that the short-term is important to us, but so also is the long-term, and it’s an expression of zealotry to say, “Forget the long-term; only focus on the short-term.” It is a confusion between priority and exclusivity. Our priorities are the objectives of the Five Year Plan, including these 1500 intensive programs of growth, but that’s not exclusivity. We should maintain the richness of our diversity of Bahá’í expression and activity so that we are prepared for the distant future – 20, 30, 40, 50 years in the future – to meet the needs of the Bahá’í community at that time we have to prepare now by addressing the long-term as well as the short-term. (Peter Khan, Toronto 2nd August 2006) www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com Quote 22: No gurus

A Personal Baha'i Blog

How does it relate to the core activities? It does so because intrinsic to the core activities is the Bahá’í attempt to solve a problem which has defied the power of every religion for the past 6000 years. For 6000 years the followers of religion have tried and failed to break down the dichotomy between a few hyper-active, over-worked leaders and a mass of followers who are required to be passive, to follow orders, to sit there and be quiet and “Do what you’re told”. This is not what the Bahá’í Faith’s about. The Bahá’í Faith is about an active community, of people who are actively involved at every level, in decision making, in creative thinking, in exploring the teachings. No such community has ever existed in the religious history of humanity and we need to establish it. If we don’t, things will not work. The Administrative Order will not function. The Bahá’í electoral process will become ossified unless we solve this problem. If we do solve it, it will take us decades to attain our objective. The core activities of the Five Year Plan, with the participatory element, with the lack of an authoritative guru to dictate the consultation of a study circle, represents a major commitment on the part of the Faith to break down the false dichotomy between the hyper-active leader and the hyper-passive congregation. And I think it is important that Bahá’ís of a scholarly orientation contribute to this, if for no other reason than it will result in a vast increase in the man power of the Faith as a matrix from which will come the future scholars and the future scholarly endeavors. It is therefore a matter not only of the needs of the Cause; it is also a matter of basic self-interest. Those of us who are interested in the scholarly pursuits of the Faith, out of a matter of self-interest, our adherence, our support of the core activities of the Faith will produce the future generation of scholars, the new generation of intellectual activity, of fertility, of creative thought and innovation which will make the Bahá’í community alive, dynamic, full of energy and fresh thinking and contribute to the richness of the Cause. (Peter Khan, San Francisco, ABS, 13 August 2006) Quote 23 Both Long-term and short-term actions needed Beyond that anybody who has experience in enterprises – whether they are business enterprises, organizations of various kinds, industrial activities or anything like that – anyone with experience in that knows that exclusive focus on the short-term needs is the way to doom. Any enterprise, be it a Bahá’í administrative enterprise or otherwise, that focuses only on the short-term is doomed to be storing up trouble for itself in the future. We have to, with intelligent minds, devote priority to the short-term but not to neglect the long-term. Otherwise we will find ourselves, in a few years’ time, lacking the resources to meet the emergent needs of the Faith in years to come. Over the several decades of my Bahá’í activities – it extends now to about five decades. I have noticed believers who had become so obsessed with the short term, in terms of their service to the needs of the Faith, that they neglected the long-term in their personal development. As a result they found that after about ten years they were unemployable. They could not serve the Faith, they didn’t have the skills, they didn’t have the long term www.bahairants.com A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

development, they didn’t have the orientation. All they could do is to continue to play the theme they had been playing which was applicable ten years ago and which was obsolete now. So focus on the long term as well as the short term is very crucial. (Peter Khan, San Francisco, ABS, 13 August 2006) Quote 24 The Institute Process a temporary tool and not a goal In 1940, Shoghi Effendi was asked about the degree of receptivity in the developed world, such as New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and North America etc. He said 2% of the population. This was back in 1940, it is now 62 years later – we have experienced wars, commotion, conflict and suffering and it is very clear from the letters of Shoghi Effendi that sufferings and setbacks increase humanity’s receptivity to the Cause. In fact, when he talks about the teaching work, he envisages a day in the future when there will be mass conversion, a sudden, one thousandfold increase in the numerical strength of the Bahá’í community [see Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, p. 117]. That day is remote and distant, and we haven’t yet reached that stage. We are at the beginning of the second stage, moving from individual conversion to entry by troops – but we haven’t reached it here. The primary aim of the Five Year Plan and Four Year Plan was entry by troops. These training institutes, study circles, devotional meetings and children’s classes – whatever we are doing – is for one purpose alone, and that is to promote the process of entry by troops. These things are not ends in themselves. They are instruments, means to attain our end, which is entry by troops. We are way behind...please forgive me for saying these things. (Ali Nakhjavani, 11-12 October 2002) Quote 24: Adaptability of institutions Such is the immutability of His revealed Word. Such is the elasticity which characterises the functions of His appointed ministers. The first preserves the identity of His Faith, and guards the integrity of His law. The second enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society. (Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, p 23) Quote 25: Avoiding blind imitation To strive to obtain a more adequate understanding of the significance of Baha'u'llah's stupendous Revelation must … remain the first obligation and the object of the constant endeavour of each one of its loyal adherents. (Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha'u'llah, p 100) 26 Class consciousness fundamentally contrary to spirit and teachings of the Faith.

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

"Regarding the statement made by the Guardian ... concerning the fact that believers can serve both as teachers and administrators. Shoghi Effendi would approve your Assembly making this fact known to all the friends. For although it is essential for the believers to maintain always a clear distinction between teaching and administrative duties and functions, yet they should be careful not to be led to think that these two types of Baha'i activity are mutually exclusive in their nature and as such cannot be exercised by one and the same person. As a matter of fact, the friends should be encouraged to serve in both the teaching and the administrative fields of Baha'i service. But as there are always some who are more specially gifted along one of these two lines of activity it would seem more desirable that they should concentrate their efforts in acquiring the full training for that type of work for which they are best suited by nature. Such a specialization has the advantage of saving time and of leading to greater efficiency, particularly at this early stage of our development. The great danger, however, lies in that by so doing the friends may tend to develop a sort of class consciousness which is fundamentally contrary to both the spirit and actual teachings of the Faith. "It is precisely in order to overcome such a danger that the Guardian thinks it advisable that the friends should be encouraged to serve from time to time in both the teaching and the administrative spheres of Baha'i work, but only whenever they feel fit to do so." (Shoghi Effendi: Directives of the Guardian, Page: 71) 26 Ad-minister means to serve I would specifically remind you that in the text of the said By-Laws which to the outside world represents the expression of the aspirations, the motives and objects that animate the collective responsibilities of Bahá’í Fellowship, due emphasis should not be placed only on the concentrated authority, the rights, the privileges and prerogatives enjoyed by the elected national representatives of the believers, but that special stress be laid also on their responsibilities as willing ministers, faithful stewards and loyal trustees to those who have chosen them. Let it be made clear to every inquiring reader that among the most outstanding and sacred duties incumbent upon those who have been called upon to initiate, direct and coordinate the affairs of the Cause, are those that require them to win by every means in their power the confidence and affection of those whom it is their privilege to serve. Theirs is the duty to investigate and acquaint themselves with the considered views, the prevailing sentiments, the personal convictions of those whose welfare it is their solemn obligation to promote. Theirs is the duty to purge once for all their deliberations and the general conduct of their affairs from that air of self-contained aloofness, from the suspicion of secrecy, the stifling atmosphere of dictatorial assertiveness, in short, from every word and deed that might savor of partiality, self-centeredness and prejudice. Theirs is the duty, while retaining the sacred and exclusive right of final decision in their hands, to invite discussion, provide information, ventilate grievances, welcome advice from even the most humble and insignificant members of the Bahá’í family, expose their motives, set forth their plans, justify their actions, revise if necessary their verdict, foster the spirit of individual initiative and enterprise, and fortify the sense of interdependence and co-partnership, of understanding and mutual confidence between them on one hand and all local Assemblies and individual believers on the other. (Shoghi Effendi, Principles of baha’i Administration, pp97-8)

www.bahairants.com

A Personal Baha'i Blog

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.