One Little Word that Will Help Solve Your Problems – and the World’s Too

(Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

The Baha’is of Kuching, Sarawak in Malaysia gather together. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

Ever wondered how to solve the world’s problems? If you haven’t, I’m sure you’ve at least wondered how to solve some of your own, right?

As Baha’is, we’ve actually been told how, and it comes down to this one little word:

“Consultation”.

Okay, maybe it’s not so little a word. And it’s definitely no small concept. But it can be simple.

Baha’u’llah says:

Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.1

Consultation is at the heart of everything we do as Baha’is: administration, service, community life, family life, and personal life. It is one of the most important features of this Dispensation. It is a key that enables us to unlock the answer to any question we might have. It leads, ultimately, to our happiness.

Baha’u’llah says:

No welfare and no well-being can be attained except through consultation.2

Similarly, Abdu’l-Baha also explained:

Man must consult on all matters, whether major or minor, so that he may become cognizant of what is good. Consultation giveth him insight into things and enableth him to delve into questions which are unknown… The principle of consultation is one of the most fundamental elements of the divine edifice. Even in their ordinary affairs the individual members of society should consult.3

The reality of a situation cannot be understood entirely by one mind. Consultation allows us to draw on the wisdom or perspectives of others where our own may be lacking. It helps us to interact with others in a meaningful way. It forces us to broaden our thinking beyond our own personal perception. It is a means of engendering a sense of community, of ensuring participation by all in the development of the Faith and in our own community, cluster, region and country. True consultation will enhance the powers and capabilities of the individual, and foster an environment that encourages meaningful expression.

Shoghi Effendi says:

The principle of consultation, which constitutes one of the basic laws of the Administration, should be applied to all Bahá’í activities which affect the collective interests of the Faith, for it is through cooperation and continual exchange of thoughts and views that the Cause can best safeguard and foster its interests… Individual initiative, personal ability and resourcefulness, though indispensable, are, unless supported and enriched by the collective experiences and wisdom of the group, utterly incapable of achieving such a tremendous task.4

Because consultation is so important to our wellbeing and happiness, because it gives rise to true guidance in any matter, where there are challenges in a community — consultation can be the best place to begin.

And, where the answer to a problem facing us seems elusive, communications are ineffective, tensions arise, or unity of vision is lacking, it can be a sign that consultation — true consultation — is not taking place as it should be. In such circumstances, it could be helpful to look at the quality of consultation in a particular setting.

Abdu’l-Baha describes the elements of consultation as follows:

The purpose is to emphasize the statement that consultation must have for its object the investigation of truth. He who expresses an opinion should not voice it as correct and right but set it forth as a contribution to the consensus of opinion; for the light of reality becomes apparent when two opinions coincide. A spark is produced when flint and steel come together. Man should weigh his opinions with the utmost serenity, calmness and composure. Before expressing his own views he should carefully consider the views already advanced by others. If he finds that a previously expressed opinion is more true and worthy, he should accept it immediately and not willfully hold to an opinion of his own. By this excellent method he endeavors to arrive at unity and truth. Opposition and division are deplorable… Therefore, true consultation is spiritual conference in the attitude and atmosphere of love. Members must love each other in the spirit of fellowship in order that good results may be forthcoming. Love and fellowship are the foundation.5

It is easy to take consultation for granted. To think that because we are Baha’is, because we recognise consultation is a valuable ideal, because we ‘do it’ in our Assembly meetings, our Feasts, our cluster reflection meetings, that we already know what we are doing when it comes to consultation.

But consultation, like other Baha’i laws and principles, takes practice. And in order to improve that practice, it requires ongoing reflection and action. It is not a skill or capability that we acquire simply by believing in it. We also don’t want to water down our understanding of the concept based on how the word can be thrown around in day-to-day language. Therefore it helps to reflect constantly on what the Writings say about true consultation, and to consider how we are putting those elements into practice. To ask ourselves, are we really detached from our own ideas when we consult with others? Are we truly listening to what others have to say? Are we valuing perspectives on an issue in a way that fosters “true understanding”? Are we putting the investigation of truth at the heart of our discussion on a matter?

The concept of consultation is both simple and profound. But it also takes conscious practice and refinement. Only then can it become a “lamp of guidance which leadeth the way”.

  1. “Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas” [rev. ed.], (Haifa: Bahá’í World Centre, 1982), p. 168 []
  2. Baha’u’llah, from a Tablet – translated from the Arabic, Compilation of Compilations Vol. 1, 1991, pp93? []
  3. Abdu’l-Baha, from a Tablet – translated from the Persian []
  4. Written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Consultation, p. 15 []
  5. “The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed.(Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 72-73 []

About the Author

Anisa is a Baha'i that lives in Australia and grew up in the Pacific. She works in development and is passionate about people, coffee and seeing new places. She has a half packed suitcase in her closet and a job that let's her travel, which she's immensely grateful for. Blogging is something new to Anisa but she enjoys the opportunity to share views on things that are important to her and welcomes your views in return.

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Discussion 12 Comments

  1. Anisa wisely has noticed:
    “And, where the answer to a problem facing us seems elusive, communications are ineffective, tensions arise, or unity of vision is lacking, it can be a sign that consultation — true consultation — is not taking place as it should be. In such circumstances, it could be helpful to look at the quality of consultation in a particular setting.”

    The most serious problem facing us is a paucity of neophytes. The acid test surrounding consultation arises when we’re asked to consider a solution we’d sooner avoid and when most of our co-coreligionists de facto accept the language status quo in the Baha’i Faith. To ‘look at the quality of consultation in a particular setting’, as suggested by Anisa, is quite am ask of any one rank and file member. Moral leadership on the part of authors, academics, editors, office bearers and other Baha’is respected for their influence and capacity affects what is and what is not put forward for consultation. Once again, the Guardian to the rescue:
    Extracted in continuity from Shoghi Effendi’s 1944 tour de force, “God Passes By” (chapter xii, page 218, gratis on line at Bahá’í Reference Library: http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/se/GPB/gpb-13.html

    “Consultation He [Baha’u’llah] establishes as one of the fundamental principles of His Faith; describes it as ‘the lamp of guidance,’ as ‘the bestower of understanding,’ and as one of the two ‘luminaries’ of the ‘heaven of Divine wisdom.’ Knowledge, He states, is ‘as wings to man’s life and a ladder for his ascent’; its acquisition He regards as ‘incumbent upon every one’; considers ‘arts, crafts and sciences’ to be conducive to the exaltation of the world of being; commends the wealth acquired through crafts and professions; acknowledges the indebtedness of the peoples of the world to scientists and craftsmen; and discourages the study of such sciences as are unprofitable to men, and ‘begin with words and end with words.’
    The injunction to ‘consort with all men in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship’ He further emphasizes, and recognizes such association to be conducive to ‘union and concord,’ [Sixth Ishráq] which, He affirms, are the establishers of order in the world and the quickeners of nations. The necessity of adopting a universal tongue and script He repeatedly stresses; deplores the waste of time involved in the study of divers languages; affirms that with the adoption of such a language and script the whole earth will be considered as ‘one city and one land; and claims to be possessed of the knowledge of both, and ready to impart it to any one who might seek it from Him.
    To the trustees of the House of Justice He assigns the duty of legislating on matters not expressly provided in His writings, and promises that God will ‘inspire them with whatsoever He willeth.’ ”

    In excess of 30 years in circumstances tantamount to propagation-deceleration for both the Bahá’í International Community and the Universal Esperanto Association no community any where conducts systematic consultation on “Esperanto and the Bahá’í Teachings” or on a definitive essay of the same title penned by James F Morton Jr. which has been published under official Baha’i aegis. Given in all matters that consultation is incumbent upon all followers of Bahá’u’lláh how much more important it is vis-à-vis an eternal principle of the Faith vitally linked to its dissemination! For a global religious community which is devoid of a language in common and whose leaders as individuals are virtually mute on the language issue to ‘consort with all men in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship’ remains a lamentably restricted consorting! Little wonder then that “God Passes By” post-haste expands as to ‘the necessity of adopting a universal tongue’. Given the elapsing of a century and a quarter since Baha’u’llah offered to impart to any one the language and script to bring about ‘one city and one land’ may we conclude that few Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís concerned themselves to inquire, much less to carry it out?

    1. Paul, I’d like to remind you that 2000 years ago Christ said kingdom of God is at hand, and our Writings say that it will come in this the Baha’i Dispensation. Even in the Bible and later Quran and also well elucidated in the Writings is the guidance that one day of God is 1000 years of our reckoning. So, let’s remember our/man finite understanding and existence and infinity of the Creator.

  2. Thanks Anissa for a vital topic you have chosen.
    I would like to reiterate what is already said that since consultation is a commandment in the Faith then it has a spiritual context and foundation. Therefore consultations that are for the purpose of undermining or harming others are not considered consultation from the point of view of the Baha’i Writings. For examples, sky is the limit. Old-world-order system of hard-headed competition we see in all aspects of daily life in the world, (not just politics) shows that right kind of consultation comes when spirituality of human character will be encouraged and developed. For this to start we shall need governments that work on Baha’i principles and are happy to consider themselves Baha’i governments. The Universal House of Justice would have a great role in guiding these governments so that gradually transformation of this world begins.
    “Will humanity continue in its waywardness, holding to outworn concepts and unworkable assumptions? Or will its leaders, regardless of ideology, set forth and, with a resolute will, CONSULT together in a united search for appropriate solutions?”
    From: Promise of World Peace, statement by the Universal House of Justice 1985, p12.

  3. As I get older, I feel more and more that my long experience has made me wiser and more discerning than other people. So, when I am engaged in consultation, I find it more difficult to listen to other people’s poorly formed opinions and imperfect understanding of facts and of the Baha’i Writings.

    This is, of course, a terrible trap. It’s important to recognise what Anisa so well expresses:

    The reality of a situation cannot be understood entirely by one mind. Consultation allows us to draw on the wisdom or perspectives of others where our own may be lacking…. It forces us to broaden our thinking beyond our own personal perception.

    If we start with the idea that we’re right, we can’t listen to other ideas. If we start with the idea that every person has a perspective and together we can hope to discover the best solution, it makes consultation much more effective and fulfilling.

    Thanks, Anisa, for a wonderful post.

  4. Alan’s words about toe-tapping ho-humming interlocutors able apparently only to talk, and devoid of any intention of listening, merit candid responses on this avant garde Blog whose courageous editor presents posts I’d surmised would never appear.

    Religion rests on two columns. The one is ‘reward’, which we Baha’is, especially in the west, receive in abundance. The other is not discussed much but it’s ever been part of religion – ‘punishment’. What we forget, I feel, is that if we fail to play our part, fail to meaningfully consult for example on the language principle in a loving community far from divided but definitely split down linguistic lines in excess of a century, others will be called upon to fulfill the task of reaping our greatest reward – ‘spreading the Faith’.

    Alan has wisely noticed a great reward given to those who consult: ‘If we start with the idea that every person has a perspective and together we can hope to discover the best solution, it makes consultation much more effective and fulfilling.’

    Ergo, it follows, that if other Baha’is refuse to consult God is eventually left with no other choice than to pass them over, to leave us long term with few new believers or with some such affliction best decided by Him.

    Recorded for posterity 38 years before the election of the inaugural Universal House of Justice in the historic (and surely exceeding in value the current $300:00 asking price) volume one of the Bahá’í Year Book 1925, J. F. Morton Jr. counsels Bahá’í leaders in a forthrightly manner rarely emulated, I fear, in Bahá’í media since the inauguration of God’s supreme institution half a century ago: “…when the time comes for final official choice and universal instruction in the chosen tongue, those who are to decide shall have abundant experience to guide them…” True consultation provides perfect experience! Morton indicates in his seventh paragraph that instead of de facto over looking all contenders, particularly one the Master so esteemed, leaders as individuals and their agenda-setting advisers, by means of consultation on the language principle itself, need to be seen appreciating the Bahá’í-Esperanto story together with all languages cited in the holy Writings. Such consultation in the first instance is a matter for individuals and for communities rather than for Bahá’í institutions and as such the selection question, though fascinating, is subordinate.

    Please bear in mind that I’m not calling on Baha’i institutions to consult on the language principle; actually there’s no shortage of written material from official Baha’i sources vis-a-vis Arabic, English, Esperanto, Persian and Spanish. What’s seldom heard is serious consultation among individual believers on the principle itself. Ask your self please, when did you last attend a talk or read a scholarly paper on the principle of a universal auxiliary language – in which leaders of your community participated.

    No direct antonym for consultation exists. Given that synonyms include ‘a hearing’ and ‘discussion’ whose antonyms consist of ‘ignore’ and ‘reject’, coining ‘silence’ sounds appropriate; sadly not golden in the case of the rulers and the learned, insofar as the principle of a universal auxiliary language is demonstrably and directly linked to realizing world peace, harmonizing inimical religions and teaching the Faith. Several months after the inauguration of the Universal House of Justice, moved by the assassination of President Kennedy (1917-1963) rather than by any Bahá’í connection or allusion to the Faith’s leaders, America’s greatest folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel, voiced their vision of ‘the words of the prophets written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sound of silence.’

    And no one dared
    Disturb the sound of silence
    ‘Fools’, said I, ‘You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows.’

  5. With more than 60 years of association with the Baha’i Faith and with more meetings under-my-belt than I can count, with 32 years in classrooms as a teacher, tutor and lecturer, as well as with another 18 as a student, I find myself at the age of 70 with no simple answers to the problems raised in Anisa’s article and in the comments that have come-in thusfar.

    I had lots of answers back in my teens and 20s, and could provide a quotation or two to prove my point no matter what the question that arose. Now, in the evening of my life, I approach the questions with more questions, and polish ideas rather than finishing them with assertions and quotations. The process, I find, is not easy and, in some ways, after those 60 years of reading the Writings, it is much more difficult than when I was young and had more answers and quotable quotes than anyone else on the Baha’i-block.

    My website reflects this multi-dimensional, multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, multi-faceted, highly complex approach. Readers here at Baha’i Blog will not go to my website for “answers” but, rather, the seeds for many more questions.

    Questions often lead to openness of mind, a humility of response and they often need to seek resolutions rather than solutions, and to rest easily and comfortably with paradoxes and apparent contradictions. My world is much more complex than it was back in the 1950s when I joined this Faith.

    I recommend: (i) Bahiyyih Nakhjacani’s “Asking Questions: A Challenge to Fundamentalism(1990)” for some of these perspectives analysed skillfully by one of the most creative of Baha’i writers, at least from my point of view. I also recommend my website which examines Baha’i perspectives on over 90 discrete disciplines and areas of study, fields of knowledge and subject matter. But no simple answers will be found: just lots more questions at: http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/index.html

  6. What an edifiying blog topic Anisa. Consultation. I too tire of reading long deliberations and it is a failure of my years. I believe that the paw prints of animals forshadowed the modern day alphabets we all use to communicate. The Baha’i Faith’s principle of one Universal Auxiliary Language; as one who practices Esperanto I enjoy and regret the sense of isolation it brings me among my Baha’i friends and many others. It facinates me why this idea of Consultation can be separable from the Language issue by many leaders. We are world citizens – it simply is not. Or any other of the Baha’i Principles, it is in my view fundamental, basic, foundational, rudimentary, elemental, elementary, underlying, basal, radical, rooted, etc. Dankon.

  7. Being in comparison to Ron a youngster in my early sixties, and an evil atheist to boot until 1989, I can’t match his years of service but I can say after 25 years of promoting the language principle among Baha’is that he is one of few academics prepared to discuss the language principle vis-a-vis true consultation. For such an experienced, educated and respected-by-his peers-writer as Ron whose accomplishments in the field of education are so manifold to be so frank indicates the gravity of this thread:

    Ron – ‘I find myself at the age of 70 with no simple answers to the problems raised in Anisa’s article and in the comments that have come-in thus far.’

    Perhaps this is because much more than the benefits associated with consultation or the language principle is at stake here. The very core of religion itself is uppermost present in this discussion: investigating truth for oneself, the duty of consulting and of obeying, a generational stasis in enrollment growth, and above all faith, i.e. faith in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s preference rather than in our own – whether English, Persian or whatever.

    That so few academics weigh in to the discussion or demonstrate the moral courage of Ron’s engagement suggests that we need, as with any team or army facing a crisis, to go back to basics. Rather than consulting in the first instance on the language principle per se consider addressing an even more elemental opening:

    I once asked a Baha’i academic if he’d mind undergoing a simple little test: ‘What is the one and only thing in the Guardian’s estimation to bring about the triumph of the Cause?’, I asked, deploying Socratic Irony. Consider the gravity of the question! ‘Is it prayer, guidance from our blessed institutions, the holy Writings, youth to move the world, money (the so called ‘lifeblood of the Cause’, our sublime Houses of Worship, community, the core activities, living the life, or all of the above at the right time and place???’ ‘Paul’, he replied, after some animated consulting in which all of the above were eliminated while in no way did we dismiss their importance: ‘We don’t have tests in the Faith.’ It could be argued of course that in reality we face tests every minute of the day. Most Baha’is, whether rank and file or office bearers , find the Guardian’s unequivocal ANSWER AND CURE eye opening and gob smacking:

    “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 skeptical 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.”

    May I suggest, if the correct answer eluded you at first, that the first order of the day is to underscore the importance of consultation surrounding the eternal principles (all of them) and to distinguish between ‘living the life’ and mirroring forth the fundamental principles of the Faith. The former assures one of personal salvation it seems to me, while actuating the principles secures the triumph of the Cause, i.e. propagates It, in such a way that surpasses even our teaching campaigns, as currently and wisely instigated by the Universal House of Justice .

  8. In my closing sentence I stated that actuating the fundamental Baha’i principles secures the triumph of the Cause in such a way that surpasses even our teaching campaigns, as currently and ‘wisely instigated by the Universal House of Justice’ .
    In writing ‘ wisely instigated by the Universal House of Justice’ I intend to convey ‘instigate’ in its secondary meaning of ‘urged forward’; ‘initiated by the Universal House of Justice’ is probably more clear.
    Other interpretations and possibilities are clearly possible; for example, mirroring forth the fundamental Baha’i principles in one self might well occur within the frame work of Teaching Campaigns.

  9. The topic of the Universal Auxiliary Language (UAL) has somewhat crowded in on this discussion about consultation. However, there truly is no topic with a more dire need for immediate and sustained consultation.

    On it’s importance:
    Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established…
    (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 60)

    Wow. I read that to mean that nothing else we do to try and promote the Most Great Peace will take root until this language issue is resolved. That makes it our most urgent priority.

    The day is approaching when all the peoples of the world will have adopted one universal language and one common script. When this is achieved, to whatsoever city a man may journey, it shall be as if he were entering his own home. These things are obligatory and absolutely essential. It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…. That one indeed is a man who, today, dedicateth himself to the service of the entire human race. The Great Being saith: Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth.
    Baha’u’llah, Gleanings p. 250

    Since the only people “of insight and understanding” who would possibly “strive to translate that which hat been written” are Baha’is, the obligation to tackle the language issue is directly incumbent upon us, each and every Baha’i. It’s simply not a duty we can shirk off.

    The main problem is, Baha’is simply don’t know what to do. But that’s where consultation comes in! In particular, nearly every Baha’i I’ve ever spoken to about the subject misunderstands this quote:
    “Regarding the subject of Esperanto; it should be made clear to the believers that while the teaching of that language has been repeatedly encouraged by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, there is no reference either from Him or from Bahá’u’lláh that can make us believe that it will necessarily develop into the international auxiliary language of the future. Bahá’u’lláh has specified in His Writings that such a language will either have to be chosen from one of the existing languages, or an entirely new one should be created to serve as a medium of exchange between the nations and peoples of the world. Pending this final choice, the Bahá’ís are advised to study Esperanto only in consideration of the fact that the learning of this language can considerably facilitate intercommunication between individuals, groups and Assemblies throughout the Bahá’í world in the present stage of the evolution of the Faith.
    (Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 26)

    Either they skim it and think, “Oh, so we aren’t supposed to study Esperanto,” (how does that happen?) or they incorrectly comprehend the Quote to mean we are supposed to wait for the final choice. Both of those conclusions are utterly incorrect, and are the result of mis-reading the Quote. The Quote directly says for Baha’is to learn Esperanto, but for a different reason and with a different attitude. Essentially, this is reinforcing the exhortation to adopt Esperanto as the cultural language of the Baha’i Faith, and (at that time) to not be concerned with whether it would become the UAL. Very importantly, notice the last bit of the Quote which I put in bold letters. The word “stage” has very specific meaning in the Baha’i Faith, and here we see that “…of the evolution of the Faith” unquestionably indicates that the Baha’i-specific meaning was intended rather than the mundane Oxford Dictionary definition. Every major event in the Baha’i Faith represents a new stage, and each Multi-Year-Plan represents a separate stage. The passing of the Guardian marked a stage. The election of the Universal House of Justice marked a stage. The point is, the instructions in this Quote have expired. Even if someone insists on misinterpreting this Quote to mean “do nothing regarding Esperanto,” they no longer have the option to be wrong about it: that ship has sailed. 😉

    Another Quote which is woefully misunderstood is:

    “The love and effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions; neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well as the revised Universal Language.”
    (Abdu’l-Baha, Abdu’l-Baha in London, p. 94)

    At first glance, it seems to indicate that Esperanto won’t be chosen. But read it carefully: if actually read what it says, it eliminates every language except Esperanto or a brand new language. So, the quantum state of the language question is preserved (which is clearly important,) but the choices have been narrowed to exactly two. Esperanto, or a new language. It doesn’t matter which one happens from a Baha’i perspective, but stop and think about it for a second: Esperanto has a culture of peace and unity. A new language might not. For this reason and countless others, Esperanto would be a better choice.

    Like I said, the question of whether Esperanto becomes the UAL or not is irrelevant from a Baha’i perspective. Our job is to promote the concept of a UAL, by setting the example. The choice of a Baha’i cultural language has already been made by Abdu’l-Baha: Esperanto. We are meant to set the example by simply doing what Abdu’l-Baha directed us to do: spread Esperanto within the Faith and adopt it as our cultural language.

    To get there, this topic needs to be consulted upon at every opportunity. It needs to be discussed at least as often as the Fund or Huqúqu’lláh; no Feast should go by without mentioning Esperanto’s adoption as the Baha’i cultural language. No children’s classes should ever occur without learning a new Esperanto word–it should become a tradition and be considered an act of worship.

    I’ll leave you with these two Quotes. They go together like peanut butter and jelly:
    …the activities which are trying to establish solidarity between the nations and infuse the spirit of universalism in the hearts of the children of men are like unto divine rays from the sun of reality and the brightest ray is the coming of the universal language. Its achievement is the greatest virtue of the age for such an instrument will remove misunderstandings from amongst the peoples of the earth and will cement their hearts together.
    (Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 141)

    Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and centre your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements.
    (Baha’u’llah, The Proclamation of Baha’u’llah, p. 116)

  10. On this deep topic John has an innate ability to depict several dimensions at one time and he’s right to ask what sort of world citizens are we as far as the general public is concerned.

    James has very wisely quoted the Master:
    “Unless the unity of languages is realized, the Most Great Peace and the oneness of the human world cannot be effectively organized and established…”
    (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, [PUP] p. 60)

    [In a posting on Baha’i Blog a couple of weeks ago the status of ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace’ came under the microscope. From an admin and institutional perspective, when Baha’is, especially when Baha’i academics, seriously consult on the language principle the issue of authoritativeness-authenticity of Baha’i holy texts will become important for defenders of the Master’s wishes vis-a-vis Esperanto.]

    James continued: “Wow. I read that to mean that nothing else we do to try and promote the Most Great Peace will take root until this language issue is resolved. That makes it our most urgent priority.”

    Correct i m o, with the addition that its resolution on the part individuals honored to name themselves Baha’i is not in the first instance contingent on any institution. James’ last sentence above prima facie would seem sufficient to merit some response from among the 500 volunteers in Haifa who do not study Esperanto or comment on the language principle here.

    Abdu’l-Baha not only says there in ‘PUP’ that it is the very first service, he stresses its tranquilizing affects for the human commonwealth, and its capability to advance all races. This universality appeals to our sense of justice as well as our empathy for those struggling with colonial languages. Addressing the Esperantists of Washington D.C., from the same source, He stresses its multifaceted importance, perhaps in regard to the more immediate future:

    “Therefore the question of an auxiliary international language has the utmost importance. Through this means international education and training become possible; the evidence and history of the past can be acquired. The spread of the known facts of the human world depends upon language. The explanation of divine teachings can only be through this medium. As long as diversity of tongues and lack of comprehension of other languages continue, these glorious aims cannot be realized. Therefore the very first service to the world of man is to establish this auxiliary international means of communication. It will become the cause of the tranquillity of the human commonwealth. Through it sciences and arts will be spread among the nations and it will prove to be the means of the progress and development of all races. We must endeavour with all our powers to establish this international auxiliary language throughout the world.”

    Which language did you mean Abdu’l-Baha, speaking there to the Esperantists?

    Dear dear James and John.
    Baha’i academe will not respond i m o until it sees a government or a very famous patron lending at least moral support. As so few of our coreligionists are weighing in here, may I be so bold as to act the devil’s advocate by posting here an elephant-in-the-room type of opinion academics occasionally put to me in private to which my response so challenges them that communication invariably comes to a close – SADLY.

    ‘Paul, these moving admonitions to study Esperanto so beautifully penned by the Master are either obsolete or obsolescent and really belong to the 19th century. English is already the de facto chosen language.” Adding politely with a nice smile so I won’t get angry, which I never do: “Get over it and get on with your life.”

    In my experience over decades, no matter how mildly in return, I ask eloquent expounders very familiar with public speaking, whether there are some other ‘musts’ penned by the Master that are obsolete or is it only the language ‘must’ that is obsolesecent, they invariably turn away, shun the question and to all intents and purposes, (though not acrimoniously I’m happy to say) treat me and consultation on the principle – dismissively. Their lack of consultation on this Blog is another example of such recalcitrance, as in recalcitrance’s “not responsive” nuance. More gadfly galling they find my follow up: “On the question of duration-validity vis-a-vis the Master’s views I’d have thought you’d think it’s up to the Universal House of Justice to rescind Abdu’-Baha’s ‘every one of us must study Esperanto’ or, at a minimum, up to Its secretariat to disavow the authoritativeness of the works in which He said to get on with dr. Zamenhof’s ingenious invention. These last two points of course put the onus of proof on to the rulers and learned as individuals.

    What we know with certainty is that when amateurs in the field of writing, such as James and John and I, put forward plausible and reasonable cases, those in authority who disagree and who name themselves Baha’i must start putting forward their position irrespective of their rank:

    “Should a person lay claim to a cause and produce his proofs, then those who seek to repudiate him are required to produce proofs like unto his. If they succeed in doing so, his words will prove vain and they will prevail; otherwise neither his words will cease nor the proofs he hath set forth will become void. I admonish you, O ye who are invested with the Bayán, if ye would fain assert your ascendancy, confront not any soul unless ye give proofs similar to that which he hath adduced; for Truth shall be firmly established, while aught else besides it is sure to perish.”
    The Báb. Kitáb-i-Asmá’ XV11.11

  11. Hmmmm……… great blog…..greater topic.
    Had a meeting today where we consulted about the essential importance of consultation, but because we aren’t that good at it, we didn’t arrive at a decision of how to get better at it…….. anyone out there want to keep trying – to further this discussion ?
    Perhaps we could arrive at a way of learning this most great art together and then take it to others somehow ? Perhaps starting some sort of creative consultation consultancy ? and share a series of role-playing dramas, funny how-not-to’s and more serious, how-to’s ? and….and…… perhaps not………. But then….. what !?

    Without it we are doomed to grope in the dark, go round in circles, talk but not walk – ” ….inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.”
    AND without it – “NO welfare and NO well-being can be attained….” Oh Help ! I crawl, Help ! I cry, Help ! I blog. I hope, I pray –
    ……anyone out there ?……………. Ya’ Baha’u’l-Abha

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