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Mirror of Light

Published by the Newsletter Task Force of the National Spiritual Assembly
of the Bahs of the Philippines
No. 46 | 17 JUNE 2008

The 45th Philippine National Convention message to the Universal House of Justice

With grateful hearts, we wish to inform the Supreme Body that the 45th Philippine Bah National Convention is under way at the National Bah Center in Manila, from May 23 evening to May 25, 2008, graced by Counsellor Tarrant Mahony, 4 Auxiliary Board members, 7 members of the outgoing National Spiritual Assembly, 40 delegates and around 20 observers.

The Ridvn message and the May 13, 2008 letter were read and discussed. The conventions participants are inspired by the exchange of experiences and learnings based on the core activities. The topics consulted upon are those in the cycles of growth: the expansion phase; the consolidation phase; reflection, planning and administration. The document Attaining the Dynamics of Growth: Glimpses from five continents had been introduced to the participants by Counsellor Mahony. The participants will endeavor to study more the document in the months ahead.

Among the learnings generated in the convention are the clarifications of the principles related to systematic teaching in the context of cycles of growth. The simplicity and clarity of Annas presentation was confirmed effective based on the experiences of delegates. The presentation touches the hearts of those it comes in contact with and creates an instant bridge between the heart of the seeker and Bahullh.

The delegates hearts are with the seven friends of Iran who were arrested and we will keep them in our prayers.

We, the delegates present, have pledged to maintain focus, to strengthen our resolve and to arise with even greater determination to achieve the goal of establishing a total of at least 40 IPGs by the end of the Five Year Plan. We beseech the Supreme Bodys intercession at the Holy Shrines that we may become better Bahs and fulfill our pledge.

The Universal House of Justice responds

Transmitted by email
TO: The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais of the Philippines
Email address: nsaphil@greendot.com.ph
DATE: 12 June 2008

MESSAGE:

We were deeply touched by the message from your National Convention. It was clear that those gathered were united in their determination to take action within the framework of the Five Year Plan and translate into reality a vision of systematic growth. With the highest hopes, we fix our gaze on the activities of the friends in the priority clusters, eager to see them continue their efforts and take advantage of the potential for unprecedented growth that exists in your community. To this end, we shall offer our fervent prayers in the Holy Shrines.

The Universal House of Justice
cc: International Teaching Centre
Board of Counsellors in Asia
Counsellor Foad Reyhani

Convention highlights and insights

According to Mr. Mahony, whenever he receives a letter from the Universal House of Justice, he is awed by its beauty and profundity. One of the greatest gifts Bahullh has given us is the Universal House of Justice who continually gives us divinely inspired guidance. Whatever they decide is of God. Each and every letter from the House is perfect in itself as if a new flower has bloomed.

The March 25, 2008 letter brought together a number of statements from the Guardian with respect to Bah election. In contrast to the practices in the outside world, Bah election is sacred. There is no campaigning. Theres a diverse gathering of people, and in such a gathering there is humility. It is an experience that cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. In the news we read problems of corruption. The present systems of the world are incapable of solving this problem. They are lamentably defective. It is man-made.

In the World Order of Bahullh, the Universal House of Justice is the head of this divinely ordained system. This system is without precedent in the history of the world. It is a channel of divine guidance to be made manifest on earth.

The IPG has emerged as a powerful means for expansion and consolidation of the Faith. In the document there are stories on various clusters around the world; but the House says we should not be content just reading the stories. Rather we identify the principles, qualities, ways used by the clusters that made progress possible. So, he hopes that in our consultations, we use these learnings. We dont simply tell nice stories but we try to identify the stories principles, qualities and methods to help us in this respect. The House identified the very first principle which is (at this point Mr Mahony asked the audience if we can guess the first principle). He answered his own question and said the very first principle is reliance upon the divine assistance. He thinks that this will remind us, when we do our teaching and study circles that it is not us! We are privileged instruments. That Bahullh gave us bounties to deliver the message. The House of Justice said that when we have this understanding that we are instruments, then we are given the power to sacrifice. So, when some problem comes up, we should not fear. We have the whole concourse behind us!

Second is to have the attitude of learning. Mr Mahony said he thinks this is a wonderful assistance. We dont need to know everything. Sometimes we dont do something because we need to know. That if we have a pure motive and a desire to serve and get some initial training then we go out and learn.

Though the House says we first consult, act, reflect and so in this process we learn a little bit, so next, act. Mr Mahony said he finds this extremely liberating! I think especially now, he added, theres a growing enrollment and will enable the new believers to become active to start a Bah life.

Third, the collective energies of the friends are focused and we can see this particularly in the expansion phase of the IPG. Our powers can be multiplied. Yes we know each one of us, that our individual power is limited. But when groups are put together, the effect is great.

Fourth, administration and various agencies working together have become the means of facilitating action. It is because fellowship and support are their watchwords. It is the joy of accompanying other souls that becomes the motive of all actions.

Mr Mahony said this appears to be a succinct and precise description on what the Guardian said about the process of integration and disintegration. As we know, Bahullh, Abdul- Bah, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice told us that the old world order is disintegrating and that this process is in the major plan of God. Its not in our hands. It is chaotic, disruptive and unpredictable in its course. Crises, disasters and tragedies will become more intense, more rapid and more often. The purpose of all these calamities is to stir the conscience of the world. The people of the world are asleep under the drugs of materialism and prejudice. We are all affected by them even if we are Bahs. We have to awaken out of this strange sleep. The House of Justice mentions we must refer to Bahullh. There are many forms of oppression which are more severe. Our reality is spiritual. If we cannot fulfill that, there is no other way to really help. The responsibility to help spiritually is heaped on us as Bahs. Our mission is tremendous. We know that message of Bahullh is to heal mankind.

He asked us to note that in paragraph 6 is written this: it is certain that receptivity in all parts of the world will increase as the agony of humanity deepen. We are building capacity (SC, JY, CC, etc.) so that we can have the capability and human resource, i.e. numbers. People are crying for this. Then they say, Let there be no mistake. This capacity building is in its earliest stages. And it will be tested to its maximum in the years ahead. Mr Mahony said he recalls that, in the Tablets of the Divine Plan, Abdul-Bah said we must be indefatigable in our endeavors, and then can increase a thousand fold.

At the recent International Convention there were lengthy discussions how to sustain IPGs; that is, how to sustain cycle after cycle. If a lot of people ask how to sustain the growth then they are asking the question at the level of technique. Paragraph 8 is instructive: sustaining growth in cluster after cluster will depend on the qualities that distinguish your service to the peoples of the world. So, it becomes clear that it is not about students, statistics, not our skill, even the love and unity among friends will not sustain the growth. Rather, its the qualities that distinguish our services to the Cause. For instance, the quality of having absolutely no trace of prejudices whatsoever so that even strangers see us as friends.

The House says the standard is high. Chastity, purity and rectitude of conduct are what enable us to resist various forms of corruptions. We can also resist corruption only if we perceive honour and nobility in every human being. He mentioned the stories about Abdul-Bah. He treated all in the same degree of respect and love.

Finally, the administrative process is governed by the principles of Bah consultation. Recall that the first principles of consultation are on love and unity, detachment from ones own ideas, the ability to listen to others. The principles of Bah consultation are not on mere form. It is not how or when we open a prayer book. Its Abdul-Bahs qualities of courtesy, dignity, care, moderation, and devotion that matter. To the extent that these principles guide the quality of our consultation humanity will find refuge in our community.

The House of Justice reminds us that as we press ahead we need to be confident that the Concourse on high is marshalling its forces and stands ready to come to our aid. It is the spirit of Dr. Muhajir, Ruhiyyih Khanum, and all other holy souls. The House of Justice has surrounded us with prayer. The stage is setlet the doubters arise and test the truth. When you share experiences, focus on the principles, qualities, approaches that enabled us to make progress. What qualities were present and what actions were done. Do not put much focus on problems, difficulties. Be positive.

Strategies:
  • 1st use of resource person in expansion and consolidation; to send persons with experience in the expansion and consolidation of D clusters
  • 2nd use of learning sites
  • 3rd use of homefront pioneers
  • 4th direct teaching and use of Annas presentation
  • 5th identify receptive populations.

  • The Guardian said that expansion and consolidation go hand in hand. The House of Justice said the IPG is a means of doing this. We dont have to figure out further. The model is there. Were just at the beginning of the learning model. Theres a great deal of learning but lets focus on the metaphor of the Guardian that expansion and consolidation are interlocked (Mr Mahony demonstrated this by interlocking his hands in front of his chest). Its not surprising that during the expansion phase we can see consolidation and vice versa. In the name of consolidation, we cant stop teaching in order to consolidate. He said the Philippines annual report reflects that we have 4,000 new believers compared to 156 a year before. This is an increase of about 20 times, which is excellent. He expects that the rate of consolidation will continue because as we learn by doing it is but natural that activities will increase or expand. It is not difficult to imagine in each of the IPGs that the countrys expansion will not be in single digits but in 10,000s. This has been the experience in the rest of the world; 200 300 is not formidable. If we have this vision of growth, the figure is well within our reach. We will see how important it is to raise the number of human resources and acts of service. Its a challenge but one which must be done. The House of Justice asks us to think that the expansion phase requires certain qualities: courage, audacity, willingness to act. It seems that consolidation phase requires certain other qualities: patience, endurance, perseverance. Expansion is the sprint whereas consolidation is the marathon. It helps not to be overly concerned and this is why Mr Mahony said we should not slow down in teaching. By going forward people learn how to increase. In fact, were learning worldwide consolidation begins in teaching. The better we do Annas presentation since it is our foundation, the better it is. One member of the House of Justice said, Annas presentation done in 10-20 minutes this was what we did 20 years ago. Annas presentation is a very solid presentation and good foundation in presenting key concepts about the Faith.
     
     
         
     
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