Monday, May 7, 2012

Softening a hardened clay

Recently I participated as a visitor in the annual National Convention in USA, held at the Mother Temple of the West. As it is customary the convention began by reading of, and then reflection upon, the Ridvan message from the Universal House of Justice. But this year there was a particular sense that we were on sacred grounds at a sacred time. The very spot on which we had gathered has been mentioned in this Ridvan message "that the proclamation of the oneness of mankind shall go forth from its open courts of holiness.”

Baha’u’llah in His Tablet of the World wrote a passage, and I think that it links directly with this image that the Universal House of Justice has provided for us in this Ridvan’s message, namely the image of the world as hardened clay, and the Bahá’í message as an instrument to soften the hearts.

These are the words of the Blessed Beauty: “Justice is, in this day, bewailing its plight, and Equity groaneth beneath the yoke of oppression. The thick clouds of tyranny have darkened the face of the earth, and enveloped its peoples. Through the movement of Our Pen of glory We have, at the bidding of the omnipotent Ordainer, breathed a new life into every human frame, and instilled into every word a fresh potency. All created things proclaim the evidences of this world-wide regeneration. This is the most great, the most joyful tidings imparted by the Pen of this Wronged One to mankind. Wherefore fear ye, O My well-beloved ones? Who is it that can dismay you? A touch of moisture sufficeth to dissolve the hardened clay out of which this perverse generation is moulded.”

As I understand it, in the imagery used in the Writings, fire stands for love, and water stands for knowledge. So when He says that a touch of moisture sufficeth to dissolve the hardened clay, I understand from this that knowledge will play a central role in capturing the human heart, and in transforming the society. The knowledge that we gain in a practical way from implementing the institute process and the provisions of the Five Year Plan in our neighborhoods and clusters will be the instrument to break the ground. And in the Ridvan message the Universal House of Justice uses the same imagery, opening the message with this same concept: “Abdu'l-Baha, standing before an audience several hundred strong, lifted a workman's axe and pierced the turf covering the Temple site at Grosse Pointe, north of Chicago.”

And again in later paragraphs of this same message we see the same imagery: “Akin to the hard earth struck by the Master a century ago, the prevailing theories of the age may, at first, seem impervious to alteration, but they will undoubtedly fade away, and through the "vernal showers of the bounty of God", the "flowers of true understanding" will spring up fresh and fair.”

And as each cluster moves to the tip of the arrow of learning, as gaining of knowledge accelerates, as we learn how to multiply the core activities in sustainable ways, at the root of which lies an educational process of limitless potentialities, each such cluster will earn the spiritual reward of building a House of Worship. Today five such clusters have reached this level, and two national ones. 

As the head of the Faith has written in the closing sentence:"The ground broken by the hand of 'Abdu'1-Baha a hundred years ago is to be broken again in seven more countries, this being but the prelude to the day when within every city and village, in obedience to the bidding of Baha'u'llah, a building is upraised for the worship of the Lord. From these Dawning-Points of the Remembrance of God will shine the rays of His light and peal out the anthems of His praise."

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