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1: Unit 1: Understanding the Baha’i Writings

Unit 1:  Understanding the Baha’i Writings pp. 9-18

Purpose:  To develop the capacity to read the Baha’i Writings and to meditate on their meaning in order to fulfill the obligation of studying the Writings every day.

Practice:  Read daily, in the morning and the evening, some of the Writings of the Faith.

Excerpted from “To the Collaborators”:  This section’s purpose is to develop in the participants the habit of reading the Writings and thinking about them, beginning at first with one-sentence statements.  To read the Holy Writings every day, at least in the morning and at night, is one of the very important ordinances of our Faith.  But reading the Writings is not the same as reading the thousands of pages that a literate person sees during a lifetime.  To read the Sacred Word is to drink from the ocean of Divine Revelation.  It leads to true spiritual understanding and generates forces that are necessary for the progress of the soul.  In order to reach true understanding, however, one must think deeply about the meaning of each statement and its application in one’s own life and in the life of society. ”

Section 1

“The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds, through commendable and seemly conduct….” (Bahá’u’lláh, cited in The Advent of Divine Justice pp.24-25)

“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)

“O Son of Being! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning…” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Arabic No. 31)

“Say, O brethren! Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Persian No. 5)

“Holy words and pure and goodly deeds ascend unto the heaven of celestial glory.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Persian No. 69)

Section 5

“A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain of the light of wisdom and understanding.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXXII, p. 289)

“O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God’s grace.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith – ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Section, p. 445)

“Nothing whatever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, V, p. 9)

“Do not be content with showing friendship in words alone, let your heart burn with loving kindness for all who may cross your path.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 16)

“When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love.” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 29)

Section 7

“…backbiting quencheth the light of the heart, and extinguisheth the life of the soul.” (Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, CXXV, p.265)

“Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou art thyself a sinner.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Arabic No. 27)

“Speak no evil, that thou mayest not hear it spoken unto thee, and magnify not the faults of others that thine own faults may not appear great…” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Persian No. 44)

“O Son Of Being! How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words – Arabic No. 26)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. ryo permalink
    August 19, 2017 6:22 pm

    “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.

  2. September 1, 2017 7:24 pm

    Thank you for your question ryo. It provided me with a lovely reason to revisit this tablet and related texts. My comments below serve as a reminder to myself as well as a response to your question. I apologize for being verbose. If I had more time I would write less.

    “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)

    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 we humanity is at a threshold in 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.”

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