In The Book of Certitude, Baha’u’llah reminds us, “One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship.” And Abdu’l-Baha said, “Thought is the reality of man.” So we are encouraged to think, and travel to another place, and to take action and do our part in life to lift up a new heaven and new earth.
The Writings are filled with inspiration for all who aspire, and a host of guidance and advice is given, including these loving admonitions of Abdu’l-Baha who said, “Be not idle, but active and fear not.” And, also, “Make a beginning and all will come right. Intention brings attainment.”
Whatever may appear difficult or impossible is made easy by a stream of self-encouragement and reflection, commitment, enthusiasm, courage, and work.
In the book, Stories of Baha’u’lláh, Ali Furutan, the Hand of the Cause of God, writes:
The Blessed Beauty often remarked: “There are four qualities which I love to see manifested in people: first, enthusiasm and courage; second, a face wreathed in smiles and a radiant countenance; third, that they see all things with their own eyes and not through the eyes of others; fourth, the ability to carry a task, once begun, through to its end.”
The truth is American Indians must struggle to “…. illumine the earth.” Although that may seem like an impossible task, American Indians are an ingenious and creative people whose deeply rooted culture is filled with the Spirit and Knowledge of God, and so anything is possible to them because they know how to work with the Supreme Concourse. Imagine a world in which American Indians Baha’is create a self-funded university system to educate themselves and it produces the wealth – both in terms of money to fund their university for generations, but also in terms of the invention and production of generative ideas that may only come from them and which are – needed to “universally enrich the masses of the people” at home and across the planet. Imagine “… the people of paradise.”
This illuminating passage in the Secret of Divine Civilization, which Abdu’l-Baha wrote when he was 21 years old, enshrines what every student of Rise and Rosa University who walks the spiritual path with practical feet may choose to be a guiding light in their lives. “Work is worship” and “Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree if it is acquired by an individual’s own efforts and the grace of God ….” The Founding Class of Rise, for example, will struggle to “initiate measures which would universally enrich the masses of the people” by creating the circumstances that will not only enable the self-funded Rosa University system, but, also, provide internet-enabled services that will bring joy and increase the wealth of people everywhere. In this singular passage Abdu’l-Baha embodies what it means to walk the spiritual path with practical feet:
“Wealth is praiseworthy in the highest degree, if it is acquired by an individual’s own efforts and the grace of God, in commerce, agriculture, art and industry, and if it be expended for philanthropic purposes. Above all, if a judicious and resourceful individual should initiate measures which would universally enrich the masses of the people, there could be no undertaking greater than this, and it would rank in the sight of God as the supreme achievement, for such a benefactor would supply the needs and insure the comfort and well-being of a great multitude. Wealth is most commendable, provided the entire population is wealthy. If, however, a few have inordinate riches while the rest are impoverished, and no fruit or benefit accrues from that wealth, then it is only a liability to its possessor. If, on the other hand, it is expended for the promotion of knowledge, the founding of elementary and other schools, the encouragement of art and industry, the training of orphans and the poor – in brief, if it is dedicated to the welfare of society – its possessor will stand out before God and man as the most excellent of all who live on earth and will be accounted as one of the people of paradise.”
We are blessed because the spiritual knowledge of all the world is open to us. As Baha’is we realize that inspiration, the breath of the Spirit, exists and flows through all people, no matter their race. Swami Vivekananda, born in 1863, traveled throughout India and was moved by “…the appalling poverty and backwardness of the masses.” He reflected and determined “… the masses needed two kinds of knowledge: secular knowledge to improve their economic condition, and spiritual knowledge to infuse in them faith in themselves and strengthen their moral sense.” Again, he reflected, and determined that the only way to spread both kinds of knowledge among the masses was through education. In truth, despite his great service to the upliftment of knowledge among the poor in India, his vision was largely Hindu centric, but, nevertheless, Swami Vivekananda tells how Rise students will accomplish what some may consider impossible:
“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is the way great spiritual giants are produced”.
In short, that is how anything substantive is accomplished, and, likewise, the path to great accomplishment was spoken by Abdu’l-Baha to M. Bahram Khavari, a pilgrim to Haifa:
“Purity of intention and nobility of action.”