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accelerate the teaching - 50 million

Posted: Sun Jan 25, 2009 1:08 am
by Paul Desailly

Dear Bret
I too opine that while we should and must obey our blessed institutions it is primarily our central Figures who have provided wisdom in the extreme that can never be altered. While at first glance what I attach here may look critical it is in fact entirely constructive i m o
Baha'i love
Paul Desailly
Sydney Baha'i Centre


(Automatically terminates backbiting, fault finding, Baha’i time, ‘that Persian sect’, ghettoization, over-sharing, flat participation and contribution rates, etc)

Paul Desailly 25-1-2009

As participants in several Teaching Campaigns held in Australia in 2008 and 2007 during our two years of voluntary service as custodians of the Sydney Baha’i Centre, Velanta and I do recommend to all this honour of sharing with the public Baha’u’llah’s message. We look forward to a united effort in many more provided our caretaking duties permit.

That our compatriots in due course will embrace the Cause in troops which in turn will lead to mass conversion is not in doubt. Our own learned in the Faith eruditely refer on occasion to this process of Teaching as ‘boiling the water’ You heat the water and it gradually attains the bubbling stage. Until the critical temperature is reached we must be patient. This is true but may we not turn up the gas? What is in question is when will these moving events occur and how best to accelerate their overdue arrival.

Let me outline wise advice from Haifa as to what our priority in the Teaching work is to be over the next decade: Actuate private initiative with collective endeavour. And, before you read on let me ask you to picture in your mind’s eye what you think will be most effective in securing the triumph of the Cause? Is it prayer, guidance from our blessed institutions, huge gatherings in imposing edifices, our sublime Houses of Worship, our Assemblies, money – the life blood of the Cause, youth to change the world, the arts, the Writings, all of these together in proportion?

Before expressing a personal view here in opining that the Faith is barely increasing in numbers, other than in anecdotal exceptions, let me stress some positive points:
Accounts of our successes, Bolivia, Kenya etc, are clearly important and inspirational.
Of extreme significance is the ever increasing amount of Baha’i Education in State Schools in the only country in the world as yet to officially sanction and to welcome it.
Recent expansion in the number of local and regional Baha’i institutions bodes well.
In China and Iran etc it is difficult to precisely ascertain our numerical growth.

Juxtaposing statistical analysis of births with deaths, the relative paucity of declarations with resignations, to say nothing of inactive Baha’is or poor participation rates at Feast, at Cluster Reflection meetings, at Unit Conventions, in Fund contributing etc, and to ponder the exponential growth in the population of the world over the last generation while our enrolment of avowed believers hovers without much change at five or six million is a crisis which first needs to be discussed at large and acknowledged before it will be remedied. In fact, stagnation in a statistical sense and crisis in a spiritual one as well as a failure to successfully communicate the Message is not an incorrect depiction of our present situation if my analysis of the following stats is remotely accurate:

At the outset of the Guardian’s ministry in the early1920’s there were, very roughly speaking, fifty thousand believers in the Faith. Thanks in many ways to Shoghi Effendi approximately half a million Baha'is had registered by the time of his passing. This represents a ten fold increase and a great victory in the relatively short period of a little more than one generation. Approximately thirty years later, at which time by the way I signed on during the tumultuous events of 1989 in the wake of the euphoria generated by the House’s pre-eminent document 'The Promise of World Peace', we had about five million Baha'is. In round figures then this represents another ten fold increase and an additional victory for the subsequent generation. In the last twenty years, i.e. another generation by some definitions, the figure of five or six million has hardly altered. And, if we consider the global population growth that has occurred in the interim one might describe our Baha'i statistical position at present as stagnating. To my mind this is the crisis of our time. Victory married to sacrifice will follow. Sacrifice need not be feared as it often merely amounts to letting go of an item to gain something more valuable.

Constructive criticism with the goal of expanding consultation on the Teaching work that enrolments and participation in the core activities increase is my objective. To be specific, is it not fair and wise to ask for extensive consultation on the eternal principles proclaimed by Baha’u’llah if, as the Guardian states, their actualization
within us will unfailingly and alone result in the triumph of the Cause. This is why I present here, in full context I believe, advice from the Guardian’s own pen:

“ The beloved of the Lord and the handmaids of the Merciful throughout the Continent of America:

Dear friends:

I return to the Holy Land with an overpowering sense of the gravity of the spiritual state of the Cause in the world. Much as I deplore the disturbing effect of my forced and repeated withdrawals from the field of service, I can unhesitatingly assure you that my last and momentous step was taken with extreme reluctance and only after mature and anxious reflection as to the best way to safeguard the interests of a precious Cause.

My prolonged absence, my utter inaction should not, however, be solely attributed to certain external manifestations of unharmony, of discontent and disloyalty -- however paralysing their effect has been upon the continuance of my work -- but also to my own unworthiness and to my imperfections and frailties.

I venture to request you to join me in yet another prayer, this time more ardent and universal than before, supplicating with one voice the gracious Master to overlook our weaknesses and failings, to make us worthier and braver children of His own.

Our Inner Life

Humanity, through suffering and turmoil, is swiftly moving on towards its destiny; if we be loiterers, if we fail to play our part surely others will be called upon to take up our task as ministers to the crying needs of this afflicted world.

Not by the force of numbers, not by the mere exposition of a set of new and noble principles, not by an organized campaign of teaching -- no matter how worldwide and elaborate in its character -- not even by the staunchness of our faith or the exaltation of our enthusiasm, can we ultimately hope to vindicate in the eyes of a critical and sceptical age the supreme claim of the Abha Revelation. One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendor of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá'u'lláh.
Looking back upon those sullen days of my retirement, bitter with feelings of anxiety and gloom, I can recall with appreciation and gratitude those unmistakable evidences of your affection and steadfast zeal which I have received from time to time, and which have served to relieve in no small measure the burden that weighed so heavily upon my heart.

I can well imagine the degree of uneasiness, nay of affliction that must have agitated the mind and soul of every loving and loyal servant of the Beloved during these long months of suspense and distressing silence. But I assure you such remarkable solicitude as you have shown for the protection of His Cause, such tenacity of faith and unceasing activity as you have displayed for its promotion, cannot but in the end be abundantly rewarded by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who from His station above is the sure witness of all that you have endured and suffered for Him.

Dawn of a Brighter Day

And now as I look into the future, I hope to see the friends at all times, in every land, and of every shade of thought and character, voluntarily and joyously rallying round their local and in particular their national centers of activity, upholding and promoting their interests with complete unanimity and contentment, with perfect understanding, genuine enthusiasm, and sustained vigor. This indeed is the one joy and yearning of my life, for it is the fountainhead from which all future blessings will flow, the broad foundation upon which the security of the Divine Edifice must ultimately rest. May we not hope that now at last the dawn of a brighter day is breaking upon our beloved Cause?


Haifa, Palestine.

September 24, 1924.”

(Shoghi Effendi, Baha'i Administration, p. 66)

The highlighting and underlining emphases added to the Guardian’s article above do not emanate from his pen.