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The darkness of this gloomy night shall pass away

December 28, 2022
Threatening clouds

This quote by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is from the November 2018 edition of Star of the West, Volume 9 It is an extract of a letter to Alfred E. Lunt from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s secretary and interpreter from 1912 to 1919, Mírzá Aḥmad Sohráb, a Persian-American author. Sohráb said that in 2018 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had expressed these words many times and that they are full of significance.

“The darkness of this gloomy night shall pass away. Again the Sun of Reality will dawn from the horizon of the hearts. Have patience—wait, but do not sit idle; work while you are waiting; smile while you are wearied with monotony; be firm while everything around you is being shaken; be joyous while the ugly face of despair grins at you; speak aloud while the malevolent forces of the nether world try to crush your mind; be valiant and courageous while men all around you are cringing with fear and cowardice. Do not yield to the overwhelming power of tyranny and despotism. Serve the cause of democracy and freedom. Continue your journey to the end. The bright day is coming. The nucleus of the new race is forming. The harbinger of the new ideals of international justice is appearing. The trees of hope will become verdant; the copper of scorn and derision will be transmuted into the gold of honor and praise; the arid desert of ignorance will be transformed into the luxuriant garden of knowledge, the threatening clouds shall be dispelled and the stars of faith and charity will again twinkle in the clear heaven of human consciousness.”

The quote is also included in the online Baha’i Library cited in Chapter 9 of Baha’i Scriptures.

Acrylic painting "Threatening Clouds" (2022) by Maureen Flynn-Burhoe

Bahá’í Reference Library Authoritative Writings and Guidance

May 8, 2019

In this section of the online free resource, the Bahá’í Reference Library, the section “Authoritative Writings and Guidance” provides downloadable versions of all publications. Authoritative writings include selected works of Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice that are downloadable. This includes the The principal works of Bahá’u’lláh that have been translated into English, a small collection of extracts from the Writings of the Báb, The principal works of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that have been translated into English, prayers revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, the Báb, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, publications written by Shoghi Effendi and collections of his extensive correspondence with the worldwide Bahá’í community, Letters and documents of the Universal House of Justice, including communications written on its behalf, Collections of extracts from the Bahá’í writings generally prepared by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice on various themes, including women, consultation, peace, and scholarship, and a list of recent additions to the Bahá’í Reference Library.

The older version of the Library will remain online as well.

Emanations of the human mind

January 16, 2023

“O ye that have minds to know! Raise up your suppliant hands to the heaven of the one God, and humble yourselves and be lowly before Him, and thank Him for this supreme endowment, and implore Him to succor us until, in this present age, godlike impulses may radiate from the conscience of mankind, and this divinely kindled fire which has been entrusted to the human heart may never die away.”

“Consider carefully: all these highly varied phenomena, these concepts, this knowledge, these technical procedures and philosophical systems, these sciences, arts, industries and inventions—all are emanations of the human mind. Whatever people has ventured deeper into this shoreless sea, has come to excel the rest. The happiness and pride of a nation consist in this, that it should shine out like the sun in the high heaven of knowledge. “Shall they who have knowledge and they who have it not, be treated alike?”3 And the honor and distinction of the individual consist in this, that he among all the world’s multitudes should become a source of social good. Is any larger bounty conceivable than this, that an individual, looking within himself, should find that by the confirming grace of God he has become the cause of peace and well-being, of happiness and advantage to his fellow men? No, by the one true God, there is no greater bliss, no more complete delight.” The Secret of Divine Civilization

Twin Holy Days

October 18, 2020

Baha’is around the world are celebrating the Twin Holy Days, many of them on Zoom with multiple events in various villages, town, and cities in remote regions, small islands, and in the largest metropolitan areas.

Using the Gregorian calendar, the Holy Days began after sunset on October 18th and ends at sunset on October 19th, 2020.

In their invitation to their online Celebration of the Twin Holy Days from the Bahá’í House of Worship for North America 2020 in Wilmette, Chicago included this introduction.

“In 1844, in Shiraz, at age 25, the Bab declared that He had been called by God to be humanity’s gateway to a new and glorious future. As one of God’s Divine Educators, the Bab established a new religion. He called for the people to prepare for the coming of “Him Whom God shall make manifest,” another Divine Messenger Who would soon appear and initiate an era of global justice, unity, and peace. The Bab was an advocate of the poor. He supported the advancement of women, universal education, and the study of science—radical ideas in that time and place. In April of 1863, Baha’u’llah announced that He was the Promised One foretold by the Bab and all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Baha’u’llah’s Mission was to spiritually re-awaken humanity and unite all the peoples of the world. Through Baha’u’llah God has released a fresh, far-reaching, creative spiritual energy into the world. Baha’u’llah’s teachings shed new light on God’s eternal relationship with humanity and offer a vision of infinite hope and healing.”

Baha’i Canada made these Selections from Days of Remembrance for Birth of the Báb and the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh available online.

Selections from Days of Remembrance
Birth of the Báb

In the name of the One born on this day, Him Whom God hath made to be the Herald of His Name, the Almighty, the All-Loving! This is a Tablet We have addressed unto that night wherein the heavens and the earth were illumined by a Light that cast its radiance over the entire creation.

Blessed art thou, O night! For through thee was born the Day of God, a Day which We have ordained to be the lamp of salvation unto the denizens of the cities of names, the chalice of victory unto the champions of the arenas of eternity, and the dawning-place of joy and exultation unto all creation.

Immeasurably exalted is God, the Maker of the heavens, Who hath caused this Day to speak forth that Name whereby the veils of idle fancy have been rent asunder, the mists of vain imagining have been dispelled, and His name “the Self-Subsisting” hath dawned above the horizon of certitude. Through Thee the choice wine of everlasting life hath been unsealed, the doors of knowledge and utterance have been unlocked before the peoples of the earth, and the breezes of the All-Merciful have been wafted over every region. All glory be to that hour wherein the Treasure of God, the All-Powerful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise, hath appeared!

O concourse of earth and heaven! This is that first night, which God hath made to be a sign of that second night whereon was born He Whom no praise can befittingly extol and no attribute describe. Well is it with him who reflecteth upon them both: Verily, he will find their outer reality to correspond to their inner essence, and will become acquainted with the divine mysteries that lie enshrined in this Revelation, a Revelation through which the foundations of misbelief have been shaken, the idols of superstition have been shattered, and the banner hath been unfurled which proclaimeth, “No God is there but Him, the Powerful, the Exalted, the Incomparable, the Protector, the Mighty, the Inaccessible.”

On this night the fragrance of nearness was wafted, the portals of reunion at the end of days were flung open, and all created things were moved to exclaim: “The Kingdom is God’s, the Lord of all names, Who is come with world-embracing sovereignty!” On this night the Concourse on high celebrated the praise of its Lord, the Exalted, the Most Glorious, and the realities of the divine names extolled Him Who is the King of the beginning and the end in this Revelation, a Revelation through whose potency the mountains have hastened unto Him Who is the All-Sufficing, the Most High, and the hearts have turned towards the countenance of their Best-Beloved, and the leaves have been stirred into motion by the breezes of yearning, and the trees have raised their voices in joyful reply to the call of Him Who is the Unconstrained, and the entire earth hath trembled with longing in its desire to attain reunion with the Eternal King, and all things have been made new by that concealed Word which hath appeared in this mighty Name.

O night of the All-Bountiful! In thee do We verily behold the Mother Book. Is it a Book, in truth, or rather a child begotten? Nay, by Myself! Such words pertain to the realm of names, whilst God hath sanctified this Book above all names. Through it the hidden treasured Mystery have been revealed. Nay, by My life! All that hath been mentioned pertaineth to the realm of attributes, whereas the Mother Book standeth supreme above this.

Through it have appeared the manifestations of “There is no God but God” over them all. Nay, while such things have been proclaimed to all people, in the estimation of thy Lord naught but His ear is capable of hearing them. Blessed are those that are well assured!

Whereupon, dumbfounded, the Pen of the Most High cried out: “O Thou Who art exalted above all names! I adjure Thee by Thy might that encompasseth the heavens and the earth to exempt me from mentioning Thee, for I myself have been called into being by virtue of Thy creative power. How, then, can I depict that which all created things are powerless to describe? And yet, I swear by Thy glory, were I to proclaim that wherewith Thou hast inspired me, the entire creation would pass away from joy and ecstasy, how much more then would it be overwhelmed before the billows of the ocean of Thine utterance in this most luminous, most exalted and transcendent Spot! Absolve, O Lord, this faltering Pen from magnifying so august a station, and deal mercifully with me, O my Possessor and my King. Overlook then my
trespasses in Thy presence. Thou, verily, art the Lord of bounty, the All-Powerful, the EverForgiving, the Most Generous.”

(Ayyám-i-Tis’ih, pp. 12–15)

Some personal devotionals

August 9, 2020
I like to begin with music that slows down the pace of thinking about other things so I can focus on prayer and meditation. Currently, it is this Adagio in G minor by the Italian musicologist, Remo Giazotto (1910 – 1998) and performed by Croatian cellist Stjepan Hauser at Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Other YouTube videos of spoken prayers with music in the background:

Jori Sayer From the sweet-scented stream

The Crimson Academy I have wakened in Thy shelter

Earl Cameron reads Baha’i writings

DRC Baha’i temple design inspired by Congo River

July 2, 2020
The design of the Baha’i house of worship in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is inspired by the Congo River, “whose tributaries gather rain from every part of the country into one great stream, provides a powerful image of the coming together of all people”. The “artwork of various Congolese peoples” will be reflected in the “patterns that will adorn the outside of the dome of the central edifice”.
Not that long ago, a documentary called Frontiers of Learning, highlighted the work of youth and junior youth in villages in the DRC, who were “taking part in a process of community building based on concepts enshrined in the Bahá’í Teachings.” Children, junior youth, youth, and adults work together similar projects around the world, including Calgary, to “build vibrant communities.”
All Baha’i around the world contribute voluntarily for the design and construction of these nine-sided temples that are open to people from all religions to worship. The underlying principle of the Baha’i faith is the oneness of God, the oneness of religions, and the oneness of all peoples.
There is another smaller country with shores of the Atlantic, whose border also runs along the Congo River, that is also called the Congo – Congo-Brazzaville. Geographically, they are very similar countries, but their histories are very different….

When “words differ from their deeds”

September 1, 2017

homogenitus“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)

In response to a question*.

…The people of Bahá are Bahá’ís, followers of Bahá’u’lláh.

In the simplest language the phrase “words differ from their deeds” refers to acting or behaving in such a way that contradicts what you say. We may not be aware or conscious of the fact that some of our deeds/actions/conduct do not align with what we utter/say/profess. But others may notice and this will erode trust in your words. It is easy to develop a disconnect between what we value as virtuous behaviour and what we actually do and it is very common.

Baha’u’llah tells us therefore to reflect everyday on our deeds, to make ourselves consciously aware of what we have done and to examine whether our deeds align with our values, that part of us that represents the authentic self.

“O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.”

What are our values? Bahá’u’lláh’s son, Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the purpose of life is to acquire virtues. In their Writings they describe virtues such as knowledge, faithfulness, steadfastness, truthfulness, uprightness, fidelity, evanescence or humility, justice, courtesy, forbearance, compassion, courage, courtesy, detachment, forgiveness, gratitude, honesty, honour, love, loyalty, mercy, obedience, patience, reliability, respect, responsibility, tolerance, and unity.

But we can improve the alignment of our behaviour to our beliefs by paying closer attention. As individuals, we can build character by making daily effort to consciously make changes in those deeds/behaviour/actions, particularly habitual behaviours or actions, that do not mirror or reflect our authentic values. It is part of lifelong process of character building, of becoming our authentic selves. We can slowly change habitual behaviours that conflict with our value system.

In the same tablet, which you can read here – – Baha’u’llah describes how “the professions of most men, be they high or low, differ from their conduct.” In other words, most of us say one thing, but do another.

Although this Sacred Writing has a timeless quality, it was written at a very specific historical time and place and addressed to a specific person. Baha’is are encouraged to share the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh but to avoid proselytization or attempting to convert. Much of the “teaching” is done as the followers of the Baha’i Faith reflect the principles of the Faith in their actions – the unity of God, unity of religion, and unity of mankind. In the 21st century humanity is at a threshold in an ongoing process of connection and interdependence at at global scale with breakthroughs in science, spirituality, and morality. Because many of these principles such as equality of men and women, elimination of prejudice, importance of education, unity of religions were new historically in the 19th century, particularly in Persia, it was crucial that Baha’is align their individual and social behaviour closely to those virtues that Baha’u’llah described. This tablet underscores that message.

In 1863, Baha’u’llah revealed this tablet CXXXIX to Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (1831 – 1892), in the same year that Baha’u’llah announced the establishment of the Baha’i Faith, which regards the founders of major monotheistic world religions such as Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, as Manifestations of one God. The Báb (1819-1850) and Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892) are the most recent of these Manifestations of progressive Divine revelation. Baha’u’llah taught that these world religions are one and that mankind is one.

According to H.M. Balyuzi in “Eminent Bahá’ís in the time of Bahá’u’lláh”, after the martyrdom of the Bab in 1850, Nabil claimed the leadership of the the endangered Bábí community, who were actively persecuted at that time. In 1863, when Baha’u’llah revealed that He was “He whom God shall make manifest” as promised by the Báb, Nabil withdrew his own claim to leadership, became a follower of Baha’u’llah and spent his life serving Him.

Nabil – formerly Mullá Muḥammad-i-Zarandí (1831 – 1892) from Zarandi, Persia, was given the name Nabíl-i-A`ẓam (Nabíl the Greatest) by Baha’u’llah. Nabil traveled various places in Iran, Iraq, and Egypt. When Baha’ullah was imprisoned he visited Him in `Akká.

In 1888, Nabil, with the assistance of Mírzá Músá, Bahá’u’lláh’s brother, began writing “The Dawn-breakers”. Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá reviewed and approved it. Nabil is honoured by Baha’is everywhere for this lengthy, detailed, heavily annotated authorized history of the Báb, describing the short life of the Precurser of Baha’u’llah. Nabil’s work is all the more impressive because he was a shepherd who overcame his lack of education by spending years studying and learning.

Baha’u’llah began the tablet by saying, “Let thine ear be attentive, O Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam, to the Voice of the Ancient of Days, crying to thee from the Kingdom of His all-glorious Name.” In it He honours Nabíl-i-‘Aẓam by describing him as “numbered with My favoured ones whose names the Finger of God hath inscribed.”

“Beware, O people of Bahá, lest ye walk in the ways of them whose words differ from their deeds.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXIX, p.305)
what does it trying to say:
Ideas and understanding.

Prophecies made by Baha’u’llah (b. 1819 d.1892)

June 7, 2017

In his book entitled The Challenge of Baha’u’llah, which he has generously posted online, author Gary Matthews provides this useful list of prophecies (some by Baha’u’llah, others made by the Bab and Abdul-Baha). In his book Matthews elaborates on each one providing the full references.
1. The fall from power of the French Emperor Napoleon III and the consequent loss of his empire.
2. The defeat of Germany in two bloody wars, resulting in the ‘lamentations of Berlin.’
3. The success and stability of Queen Victoria‘s reign.
4. The dismissal of ‘Ali Pasha as prime minister of Turkey.
5. The overthrow of Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Aziz of Turkey.
6. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire, leading to the extinction of the ‘outward spendour’ of its capital, Constantinople.
7. The downfall of Nasiri’d-Din Shah, the Persian monarch.
8. The advent of constitutional government in Persia.
9. A massive (albeit temporary) decline in the fortunes of monarchy throughout the world.
10. A worldwide erosion of ecclesiastical authority.
11. The collapse of the Muslim Caliphate.
12. The spread of communism, the “Movement of the Left,’ and its rise to world power.
13. The catastrophic decline of that same movement, triggered by the collapse of its egalitarian economy.
14. The rise of Israel as a Jewish homeland.
15. The persecution of Jews on the European continent (the Nazi holocause).
16. America’s violent racial struggles.
17. Baha’u’llah’s release from the prison of ‘Akka and the pitching of His tent on Mount Carmel.
18. The seizure and desecration of Baha’u’llah’s House in Baghdad.
19. The failure of all attempts to create schism within the Baha’i Faith.
20. The explosive acceleration of scientific and technological progress.
21. The development of nuclear weapons.
22. The achievement of transmutation of elements, the age-old alchemist’s dream.
23. Dire peril for all humanity as a result of that achievement.
24. The discovery that complex elements evolve in nature from simpler ones.
25. The recognition of planets as a necessary by-product of star formation.
26. Space travel.
27. The realization that some forms of cancer are contagious or communicable.
28. The fruitless search for a ‘missing link’ between man and ape.
29. The non-existence of a mechanical ether (the supposed light-carrying substance posited by classical physics), and its redefinition as an abstract reality.
30. The breakdown of mechanical models (literal images) as a basis for understanding the physical world.


Matthews, Gary L. 1993. The Challenge of Baha’u’llah: Proofs of the Bahá’í Revelation Oxford: George Ronald.

Ocean as metaphor

November 13, 2016

TriptychHaving lived near the shores the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, and both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with ancestors engaged in shipbuilding, the ocean is a powerful metaphor in my life. As I am working on one of the largest marine paintings I have ever done I am immersed in waves, wind and sails. I am collecting this selection of Sacred Writings from the Baha’i Faith on the theme of the Ocean.

Indeed, the laws of God are like unto the ocean and the children of men as fish, did they but know it. However, in observing them one must exercise tact and wisdom… Since most people are feeble and far-removed from the purpose of God, therefore one must observe tact and prudence under all conditions, so that nothing might happen that could cause disturbance and dissension or raise clamour among the heedless. Verily, His bounty hath surpassed the whole universe and His bestowals encompassed all that dwell on earth. One must guide mankind to the ocean of true understanding in a spirit of love and tolerance.”

“Quaff then, O My brother, from the living waters that We have caused to flow in the oceans of these words. Methinks the seas of grandeur are surging within them, and the gems of divine virtue are shining within and upon them. Divest then thyself of that which debarreth thee from this fathomless crimson sea, and to the cry of “In the name of God and by His grace!” immerse thyself therein. Let the fear of no one dismay thee. Trust in the Lord, thy God, for He is sufficient unto whosoever trusteth in Him. He, verily, shall protect thee, and in Him shalt thou abide in safety.” Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javáhiru’l-Asrár)

“Having, in this journey, immersed himself in the ocean of immortality, rid his heart from attachment to aught save Him, and attained unto the loftiest heights of everlasting life, the seeker will see no annihilation either for himself or for any other soul. He will quaff from the cup of immortality, tread in its land, soar in its atmosphere, consort with them that are its embodiments, partake of the imperishable and incorruptible fruits of the tree of eternity, and be forever accounted, in the lofty heights of immortality, amongst the denizens of the everlasting realm.”Gems of Divine Mysteries (Javáhiru’l-Asrár)

“Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths.” Bahá’u’lláh. Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh “The world’s equilibrium hath been upset through the…”

“Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer to the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility.” Bahá’u’lláh Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

“I am the Sun of Wisdom and the Ocean of Knowledge. I cheer the faint and revive the dead. I am the guiding Light that illumineth the way. I am the royal Falcon on the arm of the Almighty. I unfold the drooping wings of every broken bird and start it on its flight.” Bahá’u’lláh Tabernacle of Unity

“This is the Day whereon the Ocean of God’s mercy hath been manifested unto men, the Day in which the Day Star of His loving-kindness hath shed its radiance upon them, the Day in which the clouds of His bountiful favor have overshadowed the whole of mankind. Now is the time to cheer and refresh the down-cast through the invigorating breeze of love and fellowship, and the living waters of friendliness and charity.” Bahá’u’lláh

“Most of the people in Persia are steeped in deception and idle fancy. How great the difference between the condition of these people and the station of such valiant souls as have passed beyond the sea of names and pitched their tents upon the shores of the ocean of detachment. Indeed none but a few of the existing generation hath yet earned the merit of hearkening unto the warblings of the doves of the all-highest Paradise. ‘Few of My servants are truly thankful.’2 People for the most part delight in superstitions. They regard a single drop of the sea of delusion as preferable to an ocean of certitude. By holding fast unto names they deprive themselves of the inner reality and by clinging to vain imaginings they are kept back from the Dayspring of heavenly signs. God grant you may be graciously aided under all conditions to shatter the idols of superstition and to tear away the veils of the imaginations of men. Authority lieth in the grasp of God, the Fountainhead of revelation and inspiration and the Lord of the Day of Resurrection.” Bahá’u’lláh

Homefront pioneering

September 9, 2016