The International Teaching Centre Baha'i World Centre
9 July 1992
To all Counsellors
Dearly loved Co-workers,
Inviting Seekers to Embrace the Cause
A growing consciousness of Baha'u'llah, augmented by the many events being held during the Holy Year, will quicken efforts in the teaching field for years to come. As the teaching intensifies, all believes can anticipate being surrounded by an increasing number of people who are attracted to the Cause but in need of encouragement while they strive toward the recognition and acceptance of Baha'u'llah.
Systematic teaching initiated by individuals or organized by institutions has always been most effective when the central message put before the seekers is the station of Baha'u'llah and His redeeming power.
The call thou didst raise, O 'Ali, is highly acceptable in My sight. Proclaim with both thy pen and tongue My Cause. Cry out and summon the people to Him Who is the Sovereign Lord of all worlds, with such zeal and fervour that all men may be set on fire by thee. ("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah," pg. 310)
The spiritual authority to summon others to the Faith is a sacred gift bequeathed to every believer in every land. We must strive then to actively lead others to embrace the Cause and to reflect deeply on the responsibilities inherent in so wondrous a calling.
Open, O people, the city of the human heart with the key of your utterance. Thus have We, according to a pre-ordained measure, prescribed unto you your duty. (Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah," pg. 304)
Through the potency of the Name of the Best Beloved, invite thou the receptive souls unto God's holy court, that perchance they may not remain deprived of the heavenly Fountain of living water. He is in truth the Gracious, the Forgiving. ("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed After the Kitab-i-Aqdas," pg 236-37)
Those in our Baha'i history who achieved distinction in the art of teaching had such influence that the souls they contacted not only embraced the Cause but became its champions. This influence was largely due to the capacity of these teachers to attract the power of the Holy Spirit and become its instrument. Abdu'l-Baha has assured us that directing mankind to the right path is the magnet which will attract to us the help of God. If the friends learn to rely upon the power of Divine Assistance, they will be enabled to persuade others to throw in their lot with those who have already embraced the Teachings.
Should one of them turn his face toward some direction and summon the people to the Kingdom of God, all the ideal forces and lordly confirmations will rush to his support and reinforcement.? !? (Abdu'l-Baha, "Tablets of the Divine Plan," 1977 Edition, pg. 47)
Baha'u'llah has explained that response to the Manifestations of God occurs on a number of levels; all have capacity to recognize His signs.
The first and foremost testimony establishing His truth is His own Self. Next to this testimony is His Revelation. For whoso faileth to recognize either the one or the other He hath established the words He hath revealed as proof of His reality and truth. This is, verily, an evidence of His tender mercy unto men. He hath endowed every soul with the capacity to recognize the signs of God. How could He, otherwise, have fulfilled His testimony unto men. If ye be of them that ponder His Cause is their hearts. He will never deal unjustly with anyone, neither will He task a soul beyond its power. He, verily, is the Compassionate, the All-Merciful. ("Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah," pg. 105-106) . All have the capacity to respond; however, receptivity can vary. Some will enter the Cause quickly if invited. Others will need to be nurtured and even challenged to intensify their search. Still others are not yet in a condition to 'listen' and 'hear.'
The accumulations of vain fancy have obstructed men's ears and stopped them from hearing the Voice of God, and the veils of human learning and false imaginings have prevented their eyes from beholding the splendour of the light of His countenance. With the arm of might and power We have rescued a number of souls from the slough of impending extinction and enabled them to attain the Dayspring of glory. ("Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revealed After the Kitab'i'Aqdas," pg. 240-41)
It is the souls already prepared by Baha'u'llah whom we must be seeking. They exist even where receptivity may not be expected.
"Be unrestrained as the wind," is Baha'u'llah's counsel to every would-be teacher of His Cause, "while carrying the Message of Him Who hath caused the dawn of Divine Guidance to break. Consider how the wind, faithful to that which God hath ordained, bloweth upon all regions of earth, be they inhabited or desolate. Neither the sight of desolation, nor the evidences of prosperity, can either pain or please it. It bloweth in every direction, as bidden by its Creator." (Shoghi Effendi, "Advent of Divine Justice," pg. 50-51)
The ardent search for receptive souls should not be confused with proselytizing, about which the Universal House of Justice has clearly stated:
Proselytizing implies bringing undue pressure to bear upon someone to change his Faith. It is also usually understood to imply the making of threats or the offering of material benefits as an inducement to conversion. (From a letter dated 5 May 1982 written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer)
The Blessed Bab has explained that at the time of the appearance of every Revelation those who open their hearts to the Author of that Revelation will recognize the Truth. When the teacher is inspired and teaches with the utmost love, a process is set in motion that has the power to transform both the one being taught and the teacher. The resulting condition of purity, selflessness, devotion, detachment and enkindlement will help remove the seeker's doubts and will elicit a positive response.
Wert thou to open the heart of a single soul by helping him to embrace the Cause of Him Whom God shall make manifest, thine inmost being would be filled with .the inspirations of that August Name. It devolveth upon you, therefore, to perform this task in the Days of Resurrection, inasmuch as most people are helpless, and wert thou to open their hearts and dispel their doubts, they would gain admittance into the Faith of God. ("Selections from the Writings of the Bab," pg, 133)
Inviting people to embrace the Cause requires courage, but Baha'u'llah has assured us that, "The source of courage and power is the promotion of the Word of God and steadfastness in His Love." ("Tablets of Baha'u'llah," pg. 156)
Action both on the part of the teacher and on the part of the seeker seems to be a necessary aspect of the conversion process as "...our duty as definitely stated by Baha'u'llah, is to show them the right track, invite them to tread it, tell them of the glorious place it leads to, and then, leave them to their own judgement." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, 24 December 1925)
Beyond the teacher's strategy and approach to the seeker, there is the issue of the community's demonstration of a welcoming spirit. Shoghi Effendi explains that the Baha'is are in great need of loving and inspiring fellowship, necessary for widespread and continuous expansion of our numbers. The Guardian encourages Baha'i communities to take the high ground of a spiritual fellowship of such warmth as to bring about spontaneous enlistment in the Faith.
Nothing will further your ends more quickly than the greatest love, unity and co-operation amongst yourselves. These are the very soul of the Order Baha'u'llah has come to establish in the world; and when the people see these qualities and characteristics actively demonstrated in our midst, those who are receptive will hasten to join our ranks. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the Baha'is of Norwich, England, 30 September 1949)
The members of the Auxiliary Board and their assistances, in the fulfillment of their duty to lead the friends to new teaching victories, will need to initiate consultation on this theme. Since they have often been chosen to serve because of their own success in the teaching field, they will be able to create a learning environment within which they explore with others the sensitivity and skills associated with attracting souls and confirming them in the Cause.
With loving Baha'i greetings,
The International Teaching Centre
cc: The Hands of the Cause of God
Boards of Counsellors