Israeli-born English Guardian and Appointed head of the Bahá'í Faith
Shoghí Effendi, fully Shoghí Effendí Rabbání
Israeli-born English Guardian and Appointed head of the Bahá'í Faith
Baha'is to teach the Faith is to make strong friends with their neighbors and associates. When the friends have confidence in the Baha'is and the Baha'is in their friends, they should give the Message and teach the Cause. Individual teaching of this type is more effective than any other type.
I didn?t want to be the Guardian. I knew what it meant. I knew that my life as a human being was over. I didn?t want it, and I didn?t want to face it. So as you?ll remember, I left the Holy Land. And I went up into the mountains of Switzerland, and I fought with myself until I conquered myself. Then I came back and I turned myself over to God, and I was the Guardian.
It is spirit, determination, faith and devotion which bring victories into being, one after another, in Britain, and not luxury and leisure.
Teaching individually is of great importance, and often enables you to confirm people, whereas public speaking, while it carries the Message to more people, does not confirm very many. You can do both.
The excellent work you are doing in the teaching field, he appreciates very deeply and wishes you to persevere and go on teaching people of importance. Even if they are not always good prospects as far as being converted to the Faith goes, it is very necessary that they should hear of it and be made friendly towards it.
The people of the world are submerged in an atmosphere which is the very antithesis, morally, of the Baha'i atmosphere; we must teach them. If we are too strict in the beginning most--not all--types will be rebuffed and veer away from what they might otherwise be led to accept. On the other hand, we don't want Baha'is who do not seriously try to live up to the teachings--we must therefore use great tact and challenge strong souls and lead weak souls.
We give the Message, and explain the Teachings, but it is the Holy Spirit that quickens and confirms.
By all means persevere and associate in a friendly spirit with other groups of young people, particularly of a different race or minority nationality, for such association will demonstrate your complete conviction of the oneness of mankind and attract others to the Faith, both young and old alike.
I had in mind that ?Abdu?l-Bah would give me the honor of . . . calling together the great conclave which would elect the Universal House of Justice. And I thought in His Will and Testament that that was probably what He was instructing be done. But instead of that I found that I was appointed the Guardian of the Cause of God. . . . I didn?t want to be the Guardian of the Cause. [In the] first place, I didn?t think that I was worthy. Next place, I didn?t want to face these responsibilities. . . . I didn?t want to be the Guardian. I knew what it meant. I knew that my life as a human being was over.? He said ?I didn?t want it and I didn?t want to face it.?
It seems what we need now is a more profound and co-ordinated Baha'i scholarship in order to attract such men as you are contacting. The world has--at least the thinking world--caught up by now with all the great and universal principles enunciated by Baha'u'llah over 70 years ago, and so of course it does not sound "new" to them. But we know that the deeper teachings, the capacity of His projected World Order to re-create society, are new and dynamic. It is these we must learn to present intelligently and enticingly to such men!
Teaching is of course the head corner-stone of all Baha'i service, but successful teaching is dependent upon many factors, one of which is the development of a true Baha'i way of living and the fulfilment of responsibilities which we have incurred.
The friends must certainly explore new channels and have more audacity, if they are to get anywhere in adding to their numbers.
The peoples generally are seeking the light of Divine Guidance. The problems of the world have awakened the populace. It only remains for the Baha'is to raise the Call and give the Message according to the high standards enunciated by the beloved Master. The world can become alive with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if the Baha'is fulfil their sacred obligation
We must always teach constructively, and be very sure that none of us, through disagreement among ourselves or indiscretion, cool off the souls of the seekers.
Cause, passionate in His appeal yet sober in argument, confident in tone, unswerving in conviction, dignified in His manners--such were the distinguishing features of our Beloved's noble presentation of the Cause of Baha'u'llah.
If the Baha'is want to be really effective in teaching the Cause they need to be much better informed and able to discuss intelligently, intellectually, the present condition of the world and its problems.. We Baha'is should, in other words, arm our minds with knowledge in order to better demonstrate to, especially, the educated classes, the truths enshrined in our Faith.
It should not be overlooked, however, that the most powerful and effective teaching medium that has been found so far is the fireside meeting, because in the fireside meeting, intimate personal questions can be answered, and the student find the spirit of the Faith more abundant there.
Teaching is the source of Divine Confirmation. It is not sufficient to pray diligently for guidance, but this prayer must be followed by meditation as to the best methods of action and then action itself Even if the action should not immediately produce results, or perhaps not be entirely correct, that does not make so much difference, because prayers can only be answered through action and if someone's action is wrong, God can use that method of showing the pathway which is right.
The greatest glory and honor which can come to an individual is to bring the light of guidance to some new soul. The quickening power of the Holy Spirit, which has come into the world through Baha'u'llah, is the source of immortal life; and those who are quickened by this spirit in this world will find themselves in great honor and glory in the next world. The most meritorious service which anyone could render is to bring the light of divine guidance and the quickening power of the spirit to an entirely new area. Humanity is crying for salvation; and it is only by the Baha'is going into the various areas of the world, that it can be brought to them. This is the reason the Guardian has encouraged all of the friends to disperse to new territories, for this is the hour for the quickening of the world.
The principle of the fireside meeting, which was established in order to permit and encourage the individual to teach in his own home, has been proven the most effective instrument for spreading the Faith.
We must be careful not to teach in a fanatical way. We should teach as the Master taught. He was the perfect Exemplar of the Teachings. He proclaimed the universal truths, and, through love and wise demonstration of the universal verities of the Faith, attracted the hearts and the minds.
Consecration, dedication and enthusiastic service is the Keynote to successful teaching. One must become like a reed through which the Holy Spirit descends to reach the student of the Faith. (10:6)
If the friends always waited until they were fully qualified to do any particular task, the work of the Cause would be almost at a standstill! But the very act of striving to serve, however unworthy one may feel, attracts the blessings of God and enables one to become more fitted for the task.
Just one mature soul, with spiritual understanding and a profound knowledge of the Faith, can set a whole country ablaze--so great is the power of the Cause to work through a pure and selfless channel.
The all-important thing of course is that every activity is for the purpose of teaching the Faith and confirming people. Therefore you and the other Baha'is should watch the situation very closely. You should study those who attend the meetings, and when you find one who you feel would become a strong and active Baha'i, then you should concentrate on teaching him. Thus, if you are able to confirm some souls, you will have rendered distinguished and outstanding service. Actually this is the goal of all such activities in all of the universities.