The Watchword in All Cases is Humility

I was visiting Priscilla’s blog and noticed that she hadn’t updated in a while. Her last entry is an interesting one.

From the Ridvan 167 (2010) message, the Universal House of Justice writes:

…we feel compelled to raise a warning: It will be important for all to recognize that the value of engaging in social action and public discourse is not to be judged by the ability to bring enrolments. Though endeavours in these two areas of activity may well effect an increase in the size of the Baha’i community, they are not undertaken for this purpose. Sincerity in this respect is an imperative. Moreover, care should be exercised to avoid overstating the Baha’i experience or drawing undue attention to fledging efforts, such as the junior youth spiritual empowerment programme, which are best left to mature at their own pace. The watchword in all cases is humility. While conveying enthusiasm about their beliefs, the friends should guard against projecting an air of triumphalism, hardly appropriate among themselves, much less in other circumstances.

The bold is my own emphasis. Priscilla’s commentary on this is interesting and difficult to refute. She points out that if the community at large erred on the part of pride, triumphalism or ‘overstated’ the Baha’i experience, then they were only following the tone and words of the Universal House of Justice in their previous letters and messages.

Specifically she points out a triumphant mention of the spectacular growth of the Baha’i community in Guyana in the 1990′s as it reached 6% of the country’s population. Subsequently, it declined to 0.1% and it isn’t clear if the 6% was accurate to begin with or if it was, what exactly accounted for the sudden implosion (which – in contrast to the growth – was never brought up or explained by the UHJ).

The commentary is in audio form but there is a technical issue which prevents the file from playing. Hopefully this will be resolved soon and you’ll be able to hear her views (technical issue is fixed now):

The above excerpt from the Ridvan message is written within the context of teaching efforts. But it is also true in a general sense as well.

Recently the US NSA had taken the Orthodox Baha’is to court. They lost the original case and then the appeal of that ruling. Last year they were then denied again when they filed for a re-hearing of the trial. The only avenue remaining was to petition the Supreme Court.

The 90 day filing period for such a petition ended last week without it being filed. So it seems that finally, the UHJ and the ITC (and by proxy, the US NSA) is letting this matter rest.

The initial case was without merit and pursuing it was foolish. But listening to Priscilla’s commentary made me think. Was the Universal House of Justice being ‘humble’ when it took a tiny splinter group to court for using the name Baha’i?

Or was it conceited and vain to get so tangled up within the Kingdom of Names? to busy oneself with this trivial earthly detritus and lose sight of the spiritual principles animating the Cause?

How much time and resources were devoted to this petty legal misadventure? how much ego was involved to pursue the matter over 3 years when it was clear as day that there was no basis for it? how much money was devoted to this? what worthy and noble projects were sacrificed in its place?

And why is this not communicated to the community at large? to what end are the legal setbacks and the final failure of the case held from the community? would such secrecy and opacity continue had the result been different and the NSA had won?

These are the questions I ponder.

As well, there is clearly a contradiction at work here. On the one hand, officially, the Baha’i Faith is presented as a united religion; as the only religion which, thanks to the Covenant, has been able to withstand the devastating schisms that afflict other religions. On the other hand, if we for a moment occupy an objective and neutral perch, this legal action is obviously taken by one ‘version’ of the Baha’i Faith against another.

To be fair, the Baha’i Faith has not shattered into thousands of splinter groups like other religions. There is one main group (usually referred to in academic circles as the Haifan Baha’i Faith) which contains the vast majority of the adherents. Other than this there are only a handful of other groups, each with extremely small adherents (40 or less). But to say, as many Baha’is do, that the Baha’i Faith is unique and united is a falsehood, as this court case and many other facts clearly demonstrate.

  • angelo

    Recently the US NSA had taken the Orthodox Baha’is to court.

    And the bahais of the planet pay

    If youare happy, che invidia.

  • Anonymia

    Don’t forget that the Universal House of Justice has had some fresh blood recently – maybe the retirement of some members has helped with the change of focus.

  • Craig Parke

    “The bold is my own emphasis. Priscilla’s commentary on this is interesting and difficult to refute. She points out that if the community at large erred on the part of pride, triumphalism or ?overstated’ the Baha’i experience, then they were only following the tone and words of the Universal House of Justice in their previous letters and messages.”

    AMEN! Not even the writers for SNL or Jon Stewart could be making this stuff up. It is pure Comedy Gold! Just super a photo of Peter Khan over the text. The man has overbearing consummate self centered arrogance, massive egocentric pride, and suffocating industrial strength triumphalism in 25 gallon tubs right off the truck. If he could he would send 98% of the people in the Baha’i Faith to Concentration Camps let alone BEFORE sending 100% of the people in the real World! Truly one of the fierce board breaking Aikido Masters of Baha’i World Club! Alfred Rosenberg on crystal meth. Just absolutely pathetic.


    A more powerful non-Politburo spiritual view is that Baha’u’llah in terms of the COSMIC ESSENCE of the COSMIC ENCOUNTER with the Maid of Heaven Spirit was NOT a PERSON but a STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS. Because His own family did not seem to have this high level of spiritual insight the Cause went into mind bending Admin-O-Centric IDOLATRY and has, therefore, totally and completely failed. the means to an end became the end in itself as Shoghi Effendi warned. He, himself, apparently should have closely listened to his OWN ADVICE!

    I think the best course of spiritual action now is to clearly recognize that the New Planetary Consciousness of the New World Age is now EVERYWHERE all across the Earth. One Rock Guitarist, One Computer Software Engineer, One Film Maker, or One Artist who has the artistic chops to express this PLANETARY CONSCIOUSNESS or invent the technology to EXPRESS and COMMUNICATE this CONSCIOUSNESS is more valuable than a million people who have turned their souls over to the current limited Idolatry of the Baha’i Faith which is now completely dead in the water despite the Orwellian propaganda from the International Teaching Center.

    Baha’u’llah’s original SEED CONSCIOUSNESS was just the initial START. It is not enough now unless they can get some new documents translated which would be fascinating. But the Haifan Administrative Order will NEVER do that now. ABSOLUTELY NEVER even though that was precisely what they were supposed to be doing for decades now 24/7/365! They didn’t. Too slow. Why? To translate new Writings might risk losing absolute total control of the current top down herd mentality of the current Politburo Admin-O-Centric Faith. Nor will they ever remove the ban on reviewing all materials. Just watch over the Ages. ABSOLUTELY NEVER! They can NEVER risk FREE THOUGHT in the system in any form whatsoever. Period.

    So it is time for all spiritual seekers to move on. The NEW PLANETARY CONSCIOUSNESS is literally POURING out of FREE HEARTS and MINDS into the World. In my observation all previous organizational “delivery system paradigms” are rapidly becoming impotent, fossilized organizations by the minute.

    Here is something new and cutting edge that is being born on a planetary scale every day now!

    I myself am moving on to finally leave the incredibly boring ongoing Idolatry meme of the Abrahamic religions. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I had hoped and longed for something far, far better this time. But, once again, people turned a NEW SYSTEM OF CONSCIOUSNESS into the ETERNAL MOMMY/DADDY/POTTY serotonin top down security blanket Clergy meme. Complete all the Ruhi Books (ie. take a big successful “dump” on the training chair) and get a pat on the head “Certificate Suitable for Framing” from the new LIFETIME INCUMBENT Super Mommy/Daddy CLASS sitting at the top of the Baha’i Faith. The same old, same old. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

    But everyone else on Earth who can get anything together with REAL TALENT behind it is stealing the once Mighty Thunder of the Baha’i Faith hand over fist by the hour.

    The current chained up version of the Baha’i Faith is just not moving fast enough to address the issues of the New World Age in Internet Time.

    The horse is out of the barn and there is no catching it now.

    So it goes in the annals of bureaucratic…”humility”.

  • Brendan Cook

    Why can’t we just say that the Baha’i Faith has done an extraordinary job so far of minimizing schisms among the believers? That’s ar more reasonable than saying that the Faith is mystically protected from every being divided in this way. It’s always better to remind people that these things depend on them, rather than being granted automatically by God.

  • Anonymous

    The audio technical issue has been resolved (with thanks to Priscilla’s help) and you can now listen to her commentary above.

  • Baquia

    Brendan, yes that is an accurate assessment. Schisms have been a reality going back to Azal. Despite such divisions at each interval of succession, the Baha’i Faith has managed to remain almost completely whole.

  • Stephen Gray

    The problem is Baha’i care more about rule of people rather than rule of law. The Baha’i World Faith is based on the fact that they can do whatever they want and create and interpretation to support it no matter how it twists the text and elevate that over other interpretations  that criticize or even invalidate the organization.

    The splintering is based on the organic evolution of the Covenant.

    Baha’u’llah left Abdu’l-Baha and Mirza Muhammad Ali as his successors. It was supposed to be easy, but that lead to a split. Mirza Muhammad Ali claimed that Abdu’l-Baha’s behavior and teachings were outrageous and invalidated his succession thus making him Baha’u’llah’s successor instead. Abdu’l-Baha claimed that since he didn’t recognize him unconditionally as successor, Mirza Muhammad Ali was the one who abdicated his successorship.

    Then, Abdu’l-Baha died. His Will and Testament created the Guardianship as well as Houses of Justice above the local level. Some claimed his latter writings were forgeries while others claimed they were authentic.

    Shoghi Effendi became the first Guradian. He died. The are verying claims surrounding the circumstances. Charles Mason Remey became a second Guardian. There were others who claimed the Guardianship ended.

    So you can see the tree splits in the Bahai community that lead to the way the Bahai World Faith interprets the Covenant.

    At first the Bahai World Faith seems logical because of all its propoganda to the effect that its the right group, but it never clearly and logically disects it into logical premises. It use emotivism to prevent followers and seekers from logically trying to find the truth.

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