Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An Interview

An Interview by Tara Jabbari

Our friend Tara Jabbari conducted an interview with us  re. our film about 
'Abdu'l-Bahá in America, when we were in Chicago & she had just gotten
 back from New Zealand.  She edited it, adding photos and footage from the film
and from our behind-the-scenes images.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPmqsORHNg8

(On her youtube channel: YouTube.com/user/mstarajabbari)

Thanks, Tara!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Embarking on the European Story

All the signs are there: I need to wrap up the "Persian version" of Luminous Journey and officially embark upon the research for telling the European story.

Fortunately, as fate seems to bring to us what we need at any given moment, I have purchased Mary Perkins book on the life of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and Candace Moore Hill has just sent the following, so there is no excuse not to follow the dictates of "fate."  However, will we ever get vol. 2 of Mahmúd?  In the meantime, I will order what's below:

On December 20, 2012, in News, by Robert Stockman
Two new books about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are now available, in English, from Librairie Bahá’íe in Paris: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in France and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the West: A Biographical Guide of the People Associated with His Travels. Both books were written by Jan T. Jasion, an internationally respected author and editor, and have been released to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s historic journeys to the West in 1911 and 1912–13.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in France provides a day-by-day account of the Master’s 196-day stay in four visits to France and Switzerland. People, places, reminiscences, first-hand accounts, anecdotes, including stories He told about the early days of His Father’s Faith, all richly woven into a Parisian backdrop. Most of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks given in France are included as well as some of the letters He wrote from Paris. The book is generously illustrated with historical and contemporary photographs of places He visited and people He met.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the West: A Biographical Guide of the People Associated with His Travels includes almost 2,000 persons whom ‘Abdu’l-Bahá met and who are recorded in the published records of the Master’s travels. Where possible, each entry includes full name, dates, occupation, education, writings, where and when they met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and, if Bahá’ís, their service to the Faith. The persons range from such notables of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and the Ranee of Sarawak to Wilbur the butler and governess Madame Bricka. Notes provide information about the publication in which each individual’s meeting with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is recorded.
Both books are approximately 500 pages in length and aim to present to Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís, in a readable, informative, and well-documented format, the wonder that is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The books may be obtained from Librairie Bahá’íe, 45 rue Pergolèse, 75116, Paris, France, telephone +33(0)45003312, fax +33(0)45000579, or http://www.librairie-bahie.fr/.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Crisis and Victory?

Dear Shokouh in the studio
We had begun recording Shokouh Rezaie in Los Angeles as the main narrator for the Persian Version of Luminous Journey when she had a stroke.  This is a deep and tragic situation for us. Shokouh is doing much better--recovering now in the rehabilitation area of St. Joseph's Medical Center in Burbank, CA.  Her family members have been there; a number of people have come to visit; she is well loved. Please send forth thoughts and prayers for her healing!

Tim, Anne, Shokouh, Ojan

We will soon be back in the studio, recording other voices for the film.  It is not yet known whether Shokouh will be able to finish the narration, but we will use her voice for the first part. 

And share the Kickstarter link below, if you can! Only 8 days left to make our goal. . . . 


Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Dream and a Portal of Hope; Traversing Time and Space

Yesterday I dreamed I was driving the Master around. I think it may have been in Europe, and there were several others in the car. I was responsible for taking Him to various places I had never been before. He was calm, radiant, receptive to all that befell Him.

I awoke and remembered it was February of 2014, not 1912 or 13, grateful to have had the dream. It seemed to tell me both what I was doing (through the film--taking "Him" around) and responsible for--perhaps taking His story to unfamiliar places.  It also may be a foreshadowing of a sequel--the Luminous Journey in Europe!  Oh, if only this were ordained! We stand ready, really, to launch into further research and write a script, travel and shoot footage, and create segments on UK, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary.  And then, of course, there's Egypt.  Will time and funding converge for us to tell these stories?

Speaking of time, 'Abdu'l-Bahá once said, "I am always a traveler to America." I take this to mean He is always here, always coming, always anticipating coming. . . . The journey transcends time! I am sure this is true for all of the places He visited, and His travels remain a living issue. The stories are always potent and need to be told in so many different ways. . . .

Years ago I dreamed I was asking 'Abdu'l-Bahá and His sister, Bahiyyih Khanum, how they would like to be introduced at Green Acre. The three of us were sitting in the Sarah Farmer room; they would provide the evening program, and I would get to introduce them!  Now the arena is larger; the more extensive tale eclipses introductions; the "evening" will perhaps go on for the rest of my life and take me to new places and include others. Yesterday's dream provided a portal of hope that I will get to be in the "driver's seat" for future excursions with the Master. . . . How do I merit such blessings and tests?

"... for any movement animated by love moveth from the periphery to the centre, from space to the Day-Star of the universe. Perchance thou deemest this to be difficult, but I tell thee that such cannot be the case, for when the motivating and guiding power is the divine force of magnetism it is possible, by its aid, to traverse time and space easily and swiftly."  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 197)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Message from the Universal House of Justice re. His Return

5 December 2013

When He arrived in the Holy Land, exactly one hundred years ago today, at the conclusion of His "epoch-making journeys" to Egypt and the West, 'Abdu'1-Baha eschewed any ceremony or fanfare just as He had at His departure. But between His going and His return, a defining period in Baha'i history had unfolded—a "glorious chapter", in the words of Shoghi Effendi, during which "seeds ofundreamt-ofpotentialities" had been sown, "with the hand of the Centre ofthe Covenant Himself, in the "fertile fields" to the west.

The accounts of 'Abdu'l-Baha's travels and of the effect He had on those who met Him are legion. Some went to extraordinary lengths to enter His presence—going by boat, by foot, or even under railway trains—and, by the urgency oftheir desire to see Him, imprinted themselves on the consciousness of future generations of adults and children. The testimonies ofthose who were transformed by even a brief, sometimes near wordless encounter with their beloved Master remain deeply stirring. In the wide array ofvisitors He received—rich and poor, black and white, indigenous and emigre—the universal embrace of His Father's Faith was unmistakably in evidence. It is impossible to adequately gauge the full scope ofwhat 'Abdu'1-Baha accomplished within this period. Many ofthe seeds He planted, and which He nurtured towards maturity through an extensive correspondence that He maintained until the end ofHis life, would blossom into a steadfast community capable ofbearing the great weight ofwork in the years to come, supporting the first structures ofnational Baha'i administration and beginning to act on the Master's longing that the divine teachings be brought to every city and shore.

The friends have, of course, called these points to mind during this centenary period, and they have done much more besides. As we hoped, they have given their attention to the tasks before them, drawing inspiration from the Master's potent example and timeless counsels. We have been pleased to see how, in particular, efforts to bring spiritual education to children and young people have flourished. Work to establish the institution ofthe Mashriqu'l-Adhkar, the singular significance of which Abdu'1-Baha stressed so pointedly during his visit to the United States, is making progress in eight countries, whilst in every land, devotional meetings—a communal aspect ofthe godly life—are thriving. The Baha'i community's increasing engagement with the life of society, which is enabling it to offer a fresh perspective to formal and informal conversations ofall kinds, carries distinct echoes of Abdu'l-Baha's deep concern for the needs ofthe age. In clusters where the demands created by the scale and intensity of activity are most acutely felt, more complex schemes ofcoordination are emerging through a gradual and patient process of learning. In certain regions of the world where the institutions are overseeing special initiatives, an influx of eager pioneers is helping to strengthen the foundations ofsustained growth and broaden the scope ofwhat can be achieved by a community. The work ofexpansion and consolidation is advancing through the unflagging labours ofcountless devoted souls who have, in numerous ways, followed Abdu'1-Baha in treading the plane of sacrifice. The heightened capacity of a worldwide community to assist populations to move towards the vision conceived by Baha'u'llah was conspicuously evident at the Eleventh International Baha'i Convention. That same capacity was vividly illustrated in the film Frontiers o fLearning and explored in detail in the document Insights from the Frontiers o f Learning, which have stimulated profound reflection not only on the dynamics o f growth but also on the means to treat the roots ofmany a social malady. And in the closing months ofthis three-year period came the most spectacular demonstration o f how the present generation has responded to the call of service to humankind singularly embodied in the Person of the Master: the gathering o f more than eighty thousand youth in a four-month series o f conferences held in well over a hundred far-strewn locations across the globe.

Although each possessed its own unique features, all conferences shared essential attributes in common—the meticulous care that characterized the preparations, the oneness ofmind that was palpable at each gathering, the energy that has surged therefrom. In the strenuous efforts they made to attend can be glimpsed the depth ofcommitment felt by the participants. Some laboured with great sacrifice to raise the necessary funds from meagre resources; in other cases, by explaining the noble purpose and wholesome nature ofthe events, the friends obtained special permission from the authorities for the arrangements. Shipping lines were persuaded to change course to collect participants, while some youth walked for days to reach a venue. Reports ofthe insights generated, the creativity released, the moving testimonies delivered on each occasion and, most of all, the impetus lent to acts of service are evidence that those present were touched by spiritual forces more enduring, more deeply rooted than anything that could be elicited by the thrill of fellowship and large numbers alone. It is most heartening that tens ofthousands ofyouth, unwilling to succumb to triviality or to settle for easy conformity, have now been brought within the widening embrace of a conversation and pattern o f action o f far-reaching consequence regarding how to live a coherent life and be an agentofspiritualandsocialtransformation. Thenewlevelsofcollaborationtheseconferences demanded ofthe institutions to mobilize and guide such large numbers and prepare the host of facilitators to assist them; the wholehearted collective effort required ofthe community as it threw wide open the circle ofparticipation and witnessed the profound effect ofdoing so; the serious commitment evinced by the individual who, drawing on the concepts explored in the conference materials, is joining the tens ofthousands occupied with reaching out to hundreds ofthousands ofothers—these, together, have contributed to a marked rise in capacity in the three protagonists upon whom the success ofthe Five Year Plan depends. And while we acknowledge that the youth are at the forefront ofthis advance, its distinguishing feature is that the community rose as one to support, encourage, and champion this phenomenon, and now rejoices to see itselfprogress as an interdependent, organic whole, readier to meet the imperatives of this day.

Given all this, we have no hesitation in recognizing that what these developments reveal is an advance in the process of entry by troops o f a kind not experienced heretofore. We call upon all to reflect upon the significance of the endeavour in which the community o f the Greatest Name is engaged, the purpose of which the Master strove to underline so often in the course of His travels, and to rededicate themselves to contribute their share to its outcome. "Try with all your hearts", He urged one audience, "to be willing channels for God's Bounty. For I say unto you that He has chosen you to be His messengers of love throughout the world, to be His bearers of spiritual gifts to man, to be the means of spreading unity and concord on the earth." "Perchance,"He remarked on another occasion, "God willing, this terrestrial world may become as a celestial mirror upon which we may behold the imprint of the traces of Divinity, and the fundamental qualities of a new creation may be reflected from the reality of love shining in human hearts." To this end do all your efforts tend. During the second half of the Five Year Plan, the society-building power of the Faith must be released within thousands of clusters where programmes of growth need to be initiated, reinforced, or extended. The challenge for Baha'i institutions and their agencies will be to furnish the means to accompany all those who cherish a pure and earnest desire for a better world, whatever their degree of involvement in the process of spiritual education so far, and help them translate that desire into the practical steps that day by day and week by week accrete to build vibrant, flourishing communities. How fitting that, at this hour, a generation of youth has come into its own, ready to assume growing responsibility, since its contribution to the work at hand will prove decisive in the months and years ahead. In our prayers at the Sacred Threshold, we will entreat the Almighty to sustain all those who would be a part ofthis immense undertaking, who prefer the true prosperity of others over their own ease and leisure, and whose eyes are fixed upon 'Abdu'1-Baha for a flawless pattern o f how to be; all this, that "those who walk in darkness should come into the light" and "those who are excluded should join the inner circle of the Kingdom".


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Return to Haifa . . . December 5, 1913--A Festival!

Homecoming! The day has come. The journey is finally at an end. 'Abdu'l-Bahá returns.  We cannot imagine the joy of His loved ones.

Earl Redman writes: 

On the afternoon of 5 December He arrived in Haifa.
             Though His ship entered Haifa’s harbour at 2 p.m., ‘Abdu’l-Bahá did not debark until dusk. Emogene Hoagg described His arrival:

Abdul-Baha did not come ashore until dusk, although the steamship entered the harbour at 2 o’clock p.m. (Strange to say, as the steamer bearing the Lord of mankind entered port, two warships – one French, the other German – came in also. The Messenger of Peace was accompanied by ships of war! Quite a strange coincidence.) While waiting for Abdu’l-Baha, the holy ladies, the eleven Persian pilgrims, as many children, four American pilgrims, and many other Bahais – about forty in all – chanted prayers and Tablets, while the faces beamed with the happiness of expectation.

Rúhá Asdaq remembered that the main hall of the house was prepared and all of the pilgrims and members of the household had gathered there. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá descended from His carriage, the Greatest Holy Leaf and His daughters all ran forward to embrace and greet Him.

            Emogene Hoagg described the homecoming:

The home coming of Abdul-Baha, after an absence of three years and four months, was a real festival. Such excitement and happiness as reigned in the holy household can only be imagined . . . In Abdul-Baha’s house, there is a very large central room around which are the other rooms, and in it Persian rugs were spread and tables placed upon which were fruits and sweets . . .
When Abdul-Baha’s voice was heard as he entered, the moment was intense – and as he passed through to his room, all heads were bowed. In a few moments he returned to welcome all. He sat in a chair at one end of the room, and most of the believers sat on the floor. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was tired so remained but a short time, and after a prayer chanted by his daughter Zia Khanum, went to his room.
Then the ladies vacated so that the men might enter. To see the faces of those sturdy, earnest men – faces that spoke the fervor of their faith, the earnestness and resoluteness of their purpose – was something to remember. I am sure not an eye was dry; old and young, with happiness filling their hearts, could not refrain from exhibiting their emotion. He welcomed them, and seating himself on the floor, spoke to them a short time, after which he retired . . . 

After an absence of three years and three months, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was finally home. The day after His arrival, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá ascended Mt. Carmel and went to the Shrine of the Báb. And the following day, the Centre of the Covenant went to ‘Akká for eight days to commune with His Father and the Source of His Spiritual Being.

            Shoghi Effendi wrote:

A most significant scene in a century-old drama had been enacted. A glorious chapter in the history of the first Bahá’í century had been written. Seeds of undreamt-of potentialities had, with the hand of the Centre of the Covenant Himself, been sown in some of the fertile fields of the Western world. Never in the entire range of religious history had any Figure of comparable stature arisen to perform a labour of such magnitude and imperishable worth. Forces were unleashed through those fateful journeys which even now . . . we are unable to measure or comprehend . . .

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s historic journeys to the West, and in particular His eight-month tour of the United States of America, may be said to have marked the culmination of His ministry, a ministry whose untold blessings and stupendous achievements only future generations can adequately estimate. As the day-star of Bahá’u’lláh‘s Revelation had shone forth in its meridian splendour at the hour of the proclamation of His Message to the rulers of the earth in the city of Adrianople, so did the Orb of His Covenant mount its zenith and shed its brightest rays when He Who was its appointed Centre arose to blazon the glory and greatness of His Father’s Faith among the peoples of the West.
Are we the generation who can estimate the blessings and achievements?  I've tried, in some small way, through this blog, through our film, through the Green Acre book, through all of the activities of the centenary, as have many others. . . .  Yet there is so much more to come, through the work and insights of those who are young now and others yet unborn.  May they get even closer to the Mystery of God!