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(US, CA, 5 December)
From this short report may be gleaned virtually all the key concepts and methods that our beloved Supreme Body is directing us to learn about in the current stage of the unfoldment of the Divine Plan of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Let us make befitting use of these precious lessons, which serve to draw us nearer to our hearts’ Desire!
This story from Coachella Valley, CA (C-stage cluster) is full of gems. A group of believers, small in number but totally committed to teaching, accompanied by their friends from neighboring clusters, rose up to engage in a collective teaching effort. They tasted the joy of teaching and are steadily gaining in knowledge and experience. They are learning how to present the Message directly and respectfully. One particularly thought-provoking insight is highlighted in red below.
I am so pleased to report success in our mini teaching effort. We had approximately 12 people from our cluster participating, and joined by the cluster institute coordinator, Auxiliary Board member, and two members of the area teaching committee…
We have gained a lot of insights from our experiences. Here are some:
Our purpose in collective teaching is to find receptive, waiting souls and invite them to recognize Bahá’u’lláh as the Manifestation of God for this Day.
Wisdom requires refraining from trying to convince, arguing about philosophical points or dogma, and avoiding engaging in contention or dispute.
As we work together as teaching teams, our skills and capacities improve markedly with each new interaction.
When we are presenting the Bahá’í Faith to someone, we need to encourage them to see themselves as having the capacities to help build the unity of the human family, and empower them to arise and serve.
As we invite people to join the Faith, we have the opportunity to encourage them to participate in the processes of growth by entering the institute process and engaging in the core activities. We need to be committed to accompany them in this process.
So now, our own cluster’s collective understanding has grown:
We realize that there are pure souls waiting for us. Visiting a receptive neighborhood is a very effective way to find them.
We can gain people’s confidence through our own sincerity and purity of motive, and speaking to them from the heart in a respectful and dignified way.
“Careful” teaching does not mean slowly over a long period of time! Anna’s presentation IS a careful, well-thought-out, effective approach!
We must not lose sight of the institute process when we get engaged in exciting and fruitful teaching efforts. In other words, we need everyone to continue moving through the Ruhi courses, so we have more resources to carry out the work. An integral part of the institute process is the practice and service components.
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Fountain and benches in the Ridván Garden, ‘Akká
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Behold the portals which Bahá’u’lláh hath opened before you! Consider how exalted and lofty is the station you are destined to attain; how unique the favors with which you have been endowed. Should we become intoxicated with this cup, the sovereignty of this globe of earth will become lower in our estimation than children’s play. Should they place in the arena the crown of the government of the whole world, and invite each one of us to accept it, undoubtedly we shall not condescend, and shall refuse to accept it.
To attain to this supreme station is, however, dependent on the realization of certain conditions:
The first condition is firmness in the Covenant of God …
The second condition: Fellowship and love amongst the believers…
The third condition: Teachers must continually travel to all parts of the continent, nay, rather, to all parts of the world, but they must travel like ‘Abdu’l-Bahá…
The aim is this: The intention of the teacher must be pure, his heart independent, his spirit attracted, his thought at peace, his resolution firm, his magnanimity exalted and in the love of God a shining torch. Should he become as such, his sanctified breath will even affect the rock; otherwise there will be no result whatsoever. As long as a soul is not perfected, how can he efface the defects of others? Unless he is detached from aught else save God, how can he teach severance to others?
In short, O ye believers of God! Endeavor ye, so that you may take hold of every means in the promulgation of the religion of God and the diffusion of the fragrances of God.
– ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 50-54
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(Excerpted and adapted from the teaching blog http://teaching.bahai.us/2008/12/learning-from-each-new-interaction.html) (Image reproduced with permission of the Bahá’í International Community)