A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Catastrophe

Although outwardly cataclysms are hard to understand and to endure, yet there lies a great wisdom behind them which appears later. All the visible material events are inter-related with invisible spiritual forces. The infinite phenomena of creation are as interdependent as the links of a chain. When certain links become rusty, they are broken by unseen forces, to be replaced by newer and better ones. There are certain colossal events which transpire in the world of humanity which are required by the nature of the times. For example, the requirements of winter are cold, snow, hail and rain - but the birds and animals who live for six months, enjoying a short span of life, not realizing the wisdom of winter, chide and make lament and are discontent, saying, “Why this awful frost? Why this hail and storm? Why not the balmy weather? Why not the eternal springtime? Why this injustice on the part of the creator? Why this suffering? What have we done to be meted out with this catastrophe?” However, those souls who have lived many years and have acquired much experience and have weathered many severe winters realize that in order to enjoy the coming spring they must pass through the cold of winter.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 115)


Although there is every reason to expect that the world will experience travails and testing as never before, we do not know what form these upheavals will take, when exactly they will come, how severe they will be, nor how long they will last.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 19 March 1981)


As humanity plunges deeper into the condition of which Bahá’u’lláh wrote, ‘to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly‘, so must the believers increasingly stand out as assured, oriented, and fundamentally happy beings, conforming to a standard which, in direct contrast to the ignoble and amoral attitudes of modern society, is the source of their honour, strength, and maturity. It is this marked contrast between the vigour, unity, and discipline of the Bahá’í community on the one hand, and the increasing confusion, despair and feverish tempo of a doomed society on the other, which during the turbulent years ahead will draw the eyes of humanity to the sanctuary of Bahá’u’lláh’s world- redeeming Faith.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 131-132)


Chaos and confusion are daily increasing in the world. They will attain such intensity as to render the frame of mankind unable to bear them. Then will men be awakened and become aware that religion is impregnable stronghold and the manifest light of the world, and its laws, exhortations and teachings the source of life on earth.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 126)


He has been told that some of the friends are disturbed over reports brought back by the pilgrims concerning the dangers facing America in the future whenever another world conflagration breaks out.
“He does not feel that the Bahá’ís should waste time dwelling on the dark side of things. Any intelligent person can understand from the experiences of the last world war, and keeping abreast of what modern science has developed in the way of weapons for any future war, that big cities all over the world are going to be in tremendous danger. This is what the Guardian has said to the pilgrims. Entirely aside from this, he has urged the Bahá’ís, for the sake of serving the Faith, to go out from these centers of intense materialism, where life nowadays is so hurried and grinding and, dispersing to towns and villages, carry the Message far and wide throughout the cities of the American Union. He strongly believes that the field outside the big cities is more fertile, that the Bahá’ís in the end will be happier for having made this move, and that, in case of an outbreak of war, it stands to reason they will be safer, just the way any other person living in the country, or away from the big industrial areas, is safer. It is remarks such as these that the pilgrims have carried back in their notes. He sees no cause for alarm, but he certainly believes that the Bahá’ís should weigh these thoughts, and take action for the sake of spreading the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh, and for their own ultimate happiness as well. Indeed the two things go together.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 20 June 1954)


He is constantly pointing out to the Bahá’ís that their direct Bahá’í work — teaching, perfecting the administration, propagating the Cause of God is their job and of immediate importance because, it is, so to speak, spiritually organic. What they are doing will release forces which will combat the terrible disintegration of society which we witness today in every field, political, economic or otherwise.
(From a letter dated 5 July 1947, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


In letters to other believers who have asked questions similar to yours, the House of Justice has emphasized that the friends should not waste their time and energies in fruitless speculations on this question. Rather, they should concentrate every ounce of energy on the winning of the goals of the Five Year Plan, which they have clearly before them, confident in the knowledge that whatever may happen in the world, however calamitous it may outwardly appear, will promote God’s unalterable purpose for the unification of mankind.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 20 June 1976)


In such a process of purgation, when all humanity is in the throes of dire suffering, the Bahá’ís should not hope to remain unaffected. Should we consider the beam that is in our own eye, we would immediately fine that these sufferings are also meant for ourselves, who claimed to have attained. Such world crisis is necessary to awaken us to the importance of our duty and the carrying on of our task. Suffering will increase our energy in setting before humanity the road to salvation, it will move us from our repose for we are far from doing our best in teaching the Cause and conveying the Message with which we have been entrusted.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 133-134)


In such an afflicted time when mankind is bewildered and wisest of men are perplexed as to the remedy, the people of Bahá who have confidence in His unfailing Grace and Divine Guidance are assured that each of these tormenting trials has a cause, a purpose, and a definite result and all are essential instrument for the establishment of immutable Will of God on earth. In other worlds on the one hand humanity is struck by the scourge of His chastisement which will inevitably bring together the scattered and vanquished tribes of the earth; and on the other, the weak few whom He has nurtured under the protection of his loving guidance are, in this formative age and period of transition, continuing to build amidst these tumultuous waves an impregnable stronghold which will be the sole remaining refuge for those lost multitudes. Therefore, the dear friends of God who have such a broad and clear vision before them are not perturbed by such events, nor are they panic- stricken by such thundering sounds, nor will they face such convulsions with fear and trepidation, nor will they be deterred, even for a moment, from fulfilling their sacred responsibilities.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 126)


In the moment of catastrophe, find ye patience, resignation and submission. The more the calamities are intensified the less become ye disturbed. Withstand ye, with perfect assurance, the flood of trials and calamities, through the power of His Highness, the Almighty.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 45)


It should not be imagined that the processes now moving in the world will be free from challenge or difficulty. There may well be set-backs, and conflicts may erupt periodically, as humanity proceeds towards the emergence and consolidation of the Lesser Peace, giving rise in due course to the establishment of the Most Great Peace.


Know thou that hardship and privation shall increase day by day, and the people shall thereby be afflicted. The doors of joy and happiness shall be closed on all sides, and terrible wars shall occur. Frustration and despair shall encompass the people until they are forced to turn to the One True God. Then will the light of most joyful tidings so illumine the horizons that the cry of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ will be raised from every direction. This shall come to pass.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 130)


No doubt to the degree we Bahá’ís the world over—strive to spread the Cause and live up to its teachings, they will be some mitigation to the suffering of the peoples of the world. But it seems apparent that the great failure to respond to Bahá’u’lláh’s instructions, appeals and warnings issued in the 19th Century, has now sent the world along a path, and released forces, which must culminate in a still more violent upheaval and agony. The thing is out of hand, so to speak, and it is too late to avert catastrophic trials.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 129)


Shoghi Effendi has never stated how far-reaching the effects of a future war will be, or what other catastrophes may accompany it or follow it. From our teachings we know humanity can and must be welded into some form of political unity such as World Federal State—through suffering as it seems only intense suffering is capable to rousing men to the spiritual efforts required. It seems clear to any thinking person that war will be the main cause of this degree of suffering.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 129)


The House of Justice points out that Bahá’u’lláh in no uncertain terms has said ‘O ye peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not that which ye have committed hath been effaced in My sight.’ Therefore it considers that it would be fruitless to attempt to foresee the time or the nature of a calamity which Bahá’u’lláh Himself said was ‘unforeseen’. No doubt the remarkable progress being made in scientific endeavor holds true in the study by experts of geologic upheavals. But we cannot be certain that predictions of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tidal waves caused by such phenomena can be identified as the cataclysmic events to which Bahá’u’lláh refers.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 20 June 1976)


The House of Justice points out that Bahá’u’lláh in no uncertain terms has said ‘O ye peoples of the world! Know, verily, that an unforeseen calamity followeth you, and grievous retribution awaiteth you. Think not that which ye have committed hath been effaced in My sight.’ Therefore it considers that it would be fruitless to attempt to foresee the time or the nature of a calamity which Bahá’u’lláh Himself said was ‘unforeseen’. No doubt the remarkable progress being made in scientific endeavour holds true in the study by experts of geological upheavals. But we cannot be certain that predictions of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tidal waves caused by such phenomena can be identified as the cataclysmic events to which Bahá’u’lláh refers. “In letters to other believers who have asked questions similar to yours, the House of Justice has emphasized that the friends should not waste their time and energies in fruitless speculations on this question. Rather, they should concentrate every ounce of energy on the winning of the goals of the Five Year Plan, which they have clearly before them, confident in the knowledge that whatever may happen in the world, however calamitous it may outwardly appear, will promote God’s unalterable purpose for the unification of mankind.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 128)


The House of Justice points out that calamities have been and are occurring and will continue to happen until mankind has been chastened sufficiently to accept the Manifestation for this day. ‘Abdu’l- Bahá anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before the end of the twentieth century. However, Bahá’ís should not be diverted from the work of the Cause by the fear of catastrophes but should try to understand why they occur. The beloved Guardian, in innumerable places, has explained the reasons for these occurrences, and since they happen from time to time as explained above we should not be concerned as to when they occur.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 15 April 1976)


The believers should understand that a catastrophic breakdown of human society as a result of mankind’s ignoring His Message has been clearly foretold by Bahá’u’lláh, and that we are, indeed, in the midst of such a breakdown. The main concern of the Bahá’ís should be, not how to preserve themselves physically, but how to seize the opportunities that these conditions present to convey the healing teachings of the Faith to their fellow-citizens. The rising level of concern at this time may well be one of the keys that will assist the friends to open the eyes of the peoples of Europe to the true nature of their predicament and to win their allegiance to the Cause of God.
(From a communication dated 20 February 1984 written by the Universal House of Justice to the International Teaching Centre)


The crisis that exists in the world is not confined to the farmers. Its effects have reached every means of livelihood. The farmers are in a sense better off because they at least have food to eat. But on the whole the crisis is serving a great purpose. It is broadening the outlook of man, teaching him to think internationally, forcing him to take into consideration the welfare of his neighbours if he wishes to improve his own condition. In short it is forcing humanity to appreciate the significance and follow the precepts laid by Bahá’u’lláh. The present and perhaps the near future is dark, but we have the wonderful promises of the Master before us and they shall become true.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 130)


The degree of rapidity with which human beings are to advance certainly depends on their own efforts; but he does not think God will permit man to annihilate himself. Too much evolution is behind him and too much before him for that!
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 130)


The universal crisis affecting mankind is, therefore, essentially spiritual in its causes. The spirit of the age, taken on the whole, is irreligious. Man’s outlook on life is too crude and materialistic to enable him to elevate himself into the higher realms of the spirit. It is this condition, so sadly morbid, into which society has fallen, that religion seeks to improve and transform.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 134)


The violent derangement of the world’s equilibrium; the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind; the radical transformation of human society; the rolling up of the present-day Order; the fundamental changes affecting the structure of government; the weakening of the pillars of religion; the rise of dictatorships; the spread of tyranny; the fall of monarchies; the decline of ecclesiastical institutions; the increase of anarchy and chaos; the extension and consolidation of the Movement of the Left; the fanning into flame of the smouldering fire of racial strife; the development of infernal engines of war; the burning of cities; the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth — these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which, as decreed by Him Who is the Judge and Redeemer of mankind, must, sooner or later, afflict a society which, for the most part, and for over a century, has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God’s Messenger in this day — a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age-long corruptions, and weld its component parts into a firmly-knit world-embracing Fellowship...”
(Shoghi Effendi, Messages to the Bahá’í World 1950-1957, p. 103)


The world is in travail, and its agitation waxeth day by day. Its face is turned towards waywardness and unbelief. Such shall be its plight, that to disclose it now would not be meet and seemly. Its perversity will long continue. And when the appointed hour is come, there shall suddenly appear that which shall cause the limbs of mankind to quake. Then, and only then, will the Divine Standard be unfurled, and the Nightingale of Paradise warble its melody.
(Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 118)


The world with the various calamities that have befallen it, will be completely ravaged and its civilization demolished, if the Bahá’ís do not come to its help and imbue it with the spirit that Bahá’u’lláh has brought to the world. The economic factions, political parties, national hatreds, racial prejudices, and religious antagonisms, will continue to bring about devastating wars until the spirit of the Cause permeates the heart of man, and its universal teachings pull down the existing barriers. Let us be reminded of our duty by the misery we see around us, and arise for the prosecution of our noble duty.
(From a letter dated 24 November 1931 written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to the American National Spiritual Assembly)


There is nothing in the teachings to tell us exactly how much longer the present turbulent state of the world is going to endure; but we do know that humanity must suffer until it becomes spiritually awakened, and that the Most Great Peace will come, as promised by Bahá’u’lláh.
(From a letter dated 26 February 1946, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


There is so much suffering, such a great and desperate need for a true remedy and the Bahá’ís should realize their sacred obligation is to deliver the message to their fellowmen at once, and on as large a scale as possible. If they fail to do so, they are really partly responsible for prolonging the agony of humanity.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 127)


Until the heavenly civilization is founded, no result will be forthcoming from material civilization, even as you observe. See what catastrophes overwhelm mankind. Consider the wars which disturb the world. Consider the enmity and hatred. The existence of these wars and conditions indicates and proves that the heavenly civilization has not yet been established. If the civilization of the Kingdom be spread to all the nations, this dust of disagreement will be dispelled, these clouds will pass away and the Sun of Reality in its greatest effulgence and glory will shine upon mankind.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World Faith, p. 257)


We are instructed to say that although there is every reason to expect that the world will experience travails and testing as never before, we do not know that what form these upheavals will take, when exactly they will come, how severe they will be, nor how long they will last. “The Faith itself as it emerges from obscurity will suffer severe trials. Sensitive souls such as yourself are particularly aware of these impending developments. However, Bahá’u’lláh has given us the Administrative Order which is the channel through which the spirit and guidance flow to the Bahá’ís and to mankind. The beloved Guardian spent his entire lifetime unfolding and explaining the pattern, and it is this administrative machinery that we should seek to support and strengthen. As weak and fragile as it is in these formative years of the Faith, it is still the haven and protection of the Bahá’ís and of the world. You are therefore encouraged to expend your energies and your many-faceted talents in teaching and consolidating the Bahá’í communities under the direction of the National Spiritual Assembly and its agencies.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 127-128)


We do not know what form the immediate future will take, anywhere. Because the passions of mankind are so unregenerate, and it is so deaf to the voice of Bahá’u’lláh, no doubt great suffering will be experienced. What we do know however, is that we are Bahá’ís and that our salvation lies in this God-sent Faith. As we give to God, as we serve Him and love Him, so will He vouchsafe to us His Mercy, Guidance and Protection. We must, at all times, put the Faith first and our personal desires and comfort second. Having this Faith we have eternal security and happiness which nothing can take away from us ever, no matter what afflictions may befall a faithless world. The Cause of God is our security, and confidence in Bahá’u’lláh our protection.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 129-130)


We have fixed a time for you, O peoples. If ye fail, at the appointed hour, to turn towards God, He, verily, will lay violent hold on you, and will cause grievous afflictions to assail you from every direction. How severe, indeed, is the chastisement with which your Lord will then chastise you!


We have no indication of exactly what nature the apocalyptic upheaval will be: it might be another war ... but as students of our Bahá’í writings it is clear that the longer the ‘Divine Physician’ (i.e. Bahá’u’lláh) is withheld from healing the ills of the world, the more severe will be the crises, and the more terrible the sufferings of the patient.
(From a letter dated 21 November 1949, written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer)


We should certainly not procrastinate for a moment. For almost a hundred years now the warnings of Bahá’u’lláh have been ringing in men’s ears, and we have every reason to believe terrible things may still befall mankind, if they do not listen to the Divine solution proposed by God’s Manifestation for this day. In this connection he is constantly pointing out to the Bahá’ís that their direct Bahá’í work—teaching, perfecting the administration, propagating he Cause of God is their job and of immediate importance because, it is, so to speak, spiritually organic. What they are doing will release forces which will combat the terrible disintegration of society which we witness today in every field, political, economic or otherwise.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 130)


When such a crisis sweeps over the world no person should hope to remain intact. We belong to an organic unit and when one part of the organism suffers all the rest of the body will feel its consequence. This is in fact the reason why Bahá’u’lláh calls our attention to the unity of mankind. But as Bahá’ís we should not let such hardship weaken our hope in the future.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 133)


Without minimizing the serious situation facing a world heedless of Bahá’u’lláh’s admonitions, it must be remembered that He also refers to the Golden Age of civilization to come. The House of Justice hopes that Bahá’í teachers and parents will do their utmost to encourage the children to study the explanations of the beloved Guardian about the twin processes at work in the world—the steady growth of the Faith, and the devastating forces of disintegration assailing the outworn institutions of present-day society.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 29 December 1981)


You seem to complain about the calamities, that have befallen humanity. In the spiritual development of man a stage of purgation is indispensable, for it is while passing through it that the over-rated material needs are made to appear in their proper light. Unless society learns to attribute more importance to spiritual matters, it would never be fit to enter the golden era foretold by Bahá’u’lláh. The present calamities are parts of this process of purgation, through them alone will man learn his lesson. They are to teach the nations, that they have to view things internationally, they are to make the individual attribute more importance to his moral, than his material welfare.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 133-134)


You will see how the world is upset with internal conflict, and many lands are dyed in human blood, - nay the earth is kneaded with gore. The flame of war is so ablaze that such terrible struggle finds no parallel in the war records of any of the middle or recent ages. Heads have become like grains and the war like mill stones, - nay even worse. Flourishing lands are ruined, cities completely wrecked and thriving towns annihilated. Fathers have lost their sons, sons are made fatherless, and mothers have shed tears of blood over the death of their youthful sons. Children are made orphan, women are helpless, and the world of humanity is forced backward in all respects. The wailing cry of fatherless children is raised abroad, and mothers’ pathetic lamentation reaches the high heaven. The source of all these catastrophes is racial fanaticism, patriotic fanaticism, religious fanaticism and political fanaticism. The source of these fanaticisms is ancient imitations, religious imitations, racial imitations, patriotic imitations, and political imitations. As long as following such imitations persists, the very foundation of humanity is wrecked and the world of man is in great jeopardy.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Letter to Martha Root)