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(US – CA, 1912)
Notes from ‘Abdu’l-Bahás words on teaching and divine inspiration to a few youth in San Francisco, 23 October 1912. The talk He encourages them to memorize is found here.
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These young ladies have asked Me how to teach and the method of teaching. I have told them a few days ago, and now I will recapitulate.
You must first be assured of the fact that whosoever heralds the Cause of God, the Kingdom of Abha, will be confirmed. This has been tried heretofore. Whosoever has stepped forth in this arena, the hosts of the Supreme Concourse have aided. He has been confirmed and assisted. He has achieved extraordinary progress. Upon him the door of Knowledge has been opened. His eyes were opened, and the Breath of the Holy Spirit aided him, and he was instrumental in guiding others. It has been tried. No one has advanced toward this Cause without receiving this confirmation.
Secondly: when a man sings a beautiful melody, he, himself, more than his audience, will be moved by his song. Hence, when a man commences guiding souls, when he expounds the Teachings, he, himself, will experience keenly the sense of joy.
Thirdly: everything in the world of existence is limited. There is nothing which is unlimited, except the eternal confirmation of God, and that eternal confirmation of God through teaching, will be attained by man.
Consequently, His Holiness Christ says, when you speak that which is in your heart, you are inspired to say, that you must expound, and that is the Breath of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I say to you, and to all of you: If you seek the eternal Bestowal, teach. If you seek entrance at the Threshold of God, teach. If you seek eternal glory, teach. If you wish to win eternal life, teach. If you wish the supremacy of heaven, teach. And be confident that confirmation will attend you and that Divine assistance will uphold you. Because it has been tried many, many times.
But it requires firmness, it requires steadfastness. Consider the disciples of Christ, and their steadfastness. They were exposed to the sword, and they were not afraid; they were firm and steadfast. When a man drinks from a fount of salubrious waters, naturally he wants to convey the water to others. If a man reaches a tree bearing luscious fruits, he wishes to enjoy them with others. If a man hears a beautiful voice, he wishes others to hear it also.
If you seek to attain the everlasting bounties, and occupy yourselves conveying the message of God, and to be the means of guiding souls, do not look at your capacity, do not look at your [deserts]. If Peter had looked at his own capacity, he would have remained a fisherman. He was quite devoid of knowledge. But he did not look at his own capacity. Nay, rather, he looked at the divine bounty. And you must not look at your own capacity. You must not say that you are young, that you have not entered college, that you have not attained an extraordinary education. Nay, rather, consider the bounties of the Kingdom of Abha. What beautiful fruits are produced by the black soil. This is not due to the capacity of the soil, but because of the great heat of the sun and of the rain from the clouds. Likewise, you must not say that you are dust. Nay, rather, you must look at the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, which ever shines upon you. You must look at the cloud of the Kingdom that ever pours down its rain upon you. You must feel the breeze of Providence that ever blows toward you.
We three sat spellbound as ‘Abdu’l-Baha impressed upon us in simple and beautiful language the great importance of teaching the Faith and assured us of wonderful confirmations. For a moment, as we remained seated, I silently prayed that I would ever remain firm and steadfast. Then we stood, and just as the Master started to leave the room, I asked Him what I should teach. He smilingly replied, “Memorize the talk I gave at Stanford University.”
(Brown, Ramona Allen, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá – Recollections of the Early Days of the Bahá’ís of California, pp. 79-80)
Notes from a talk by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on differing approaches to delivering the Message.
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Limited and unlimited teaching
About teaching. You may teach in two ways. One way is limited teaching; another way is the unlimited teaching.
Teaching in a limited way consists of the following, namely: explaining the proofs and evidences in regard to the principles of Baha’u’llah, quoting prophecies from the Old and New Testaments, stating that that Day has come. Moreover the intellectual proofs and evidences are this and this, etc. The principles of Baha’u’llah have been set forth with such potency and penetration that no one can deny them. While He was in prison, He was in chains, and He wrote important Epistles to the Kings and Rulers of the world. All that which He wrote in these letters came to pass later on. The Tablets of Baha’u’llah do exist quoting therein wonderful signs which appeared to Baha’u’llah during the various periods of His life.
While in prison He withstood two despotic kings, and He gained victory over both. In prison He raised His Banner, He spread His Teachings and spiritually defeated two despotic kings. They could not prevent the spread of His Teachings. In brief, while in prison, He raised the Ensign of His Principles. This is impaneled in the history of the world. Such dominion appeared from Him, and such potency manifested from His personality. There are many instances of such, and when a person explains these things, He is guiding. He is teaching, He is crying out. This is teaching in a limited sense [!].
Teaching in an unlimited sense consists of the following and is very good, very great: the teacher himself (or herself) becomes the standing proof of Baha’u’llah — that he (or she) may become a miracle of Baha’u’llah with such power and such knowledge and desire such actions and such words and character, and such heavenly powers, that you may live amongst the people, that you may be a proof, undeniable proof, of Baha’u’llah.
If someone ask: “What is the proof of Baha’u’llah?” one may say such a person — there is the proof; look at her. Baha’u’llah has educated this person. He has awakened this soul. He has quickened this life. He has made this person a speaker; He has given her knowledge, made her holy, made her sanctified — a shining light — He has made her a sun.
This is the unlimited teaching.
(Brown, Memories of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, pp. 66-67)