LSA - Relationships

In order to avoid division and disruption, that the Cause may not fall a prey to conflicting interpretations, and lose thereby its purity and pristine vigour, that its affairs may be conducted with efficiency and promptness, it is necessary that every one should conscientiously take an active part in the election of these Assemblies, abide by their decision, enforce their decree, and co-operate with them wholeheartedly in their task of stimulating the growth of the Movement throughout all regions.
(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 41)

In short, whatsoever thing is arranged in harmony and with love and purity of motive, its result is light, and should the least trace of estrangement prevail the result shall be darkness upon darkness.... If this be so regarded, that assembly shall be of God, but otherwise it shall lead to coolness and alienation that proceed from the Evil One.... Should they endeavour to fulfil these conditions the Grace of the Holy Spirit shall be vouchsafed unto them, and that assembly shall become the centre of the Divine blessings, the hosts of Divine confirmation shall come to their aid, and they shall day by day receive a new effusion of Spirit.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 87-89)

It is again not permitted that any one of the honoured members object to or censure, whether in or out of the meeting, any decision arrived at previously, though that decision be not right, for such criticism would prevent any decision from being enforced. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)

It is incumbent upon them to take counsel together and to have regard for the interests of the servants of God, for His sake, even as they regard their own interests, and to choose that which is meet and seemly. Thus hath the Lord your God, the Gracious, the Pardoner, commanded you. Beware lest ye put away that which is clearly revealed in His Tablet. Fear God, O ye that perceive.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 13)

One of the greatest challenges before all the institutions of the Faith during this Formative Age is the development of local communities, communities that are characterized by tolerance and love and guided by a strong sense of purpose and a collective will. It is these communities that serve as the environment in which the capacities of all components--men, women, youth and children--are developed and their powers are multiplied in unified action. At the heart of the community must function a strong Local Spiritual Assembly. When a community is blessed with such an institution, the earnest collaboration between the Auxiliary Board members and the Local Assembly generates the dynamics of a joyous and active life conducive to spiritual transformation and systematic growth. Together, while each works within the sphere of activity assigned to it, these institutions create an atmosphere of learning and disciplined behaviour, characterized by patience and forbearance toward mistakes. They build and maintain unity of thought and action in an environment free of excessive criticism, of backbiting, of conflict and contention, which at the same time welcomes the expression of concern on the part of every believer. Through wise counsel and loving support, they educate the friends to hearken to the Assembly’s decisions and to align their behavior with the exigencies of harmonious community life. An essential feature of the culture that the two institutions strive to create is a transformed attitude towards material means. Bahá’í life, whether individual or collective, should be marked by generosity of spirit. The Auxiliary Board members promote this spirit as they educate the members of the community about the funds of the Faith, instilling in them the desire to give sacrificially and helping them to experience its liberating effects.
(Universal House of Justice, The Institution of the Counsellors document)

The first condition is absolute love and harmony amongst the members of the assembly. They must be wholly free from estrangement and must manifest in themselves the Unity of God, for they are the waves of one sea, the drops of one river, the stars of one heaven, the rays of one sun, the trees of one orchard, the flowers of one garden. Should harmony of thought and absolute unity be nonexistent, that gathering shall be dispersed and that assembly be brought to naught.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)

The greatest need it seems everywhere inside the Cause is to impress upon the friends the need for love among them. There is a tendency to mix up the functions of the Administration and try to apply it in individual relationships, which is abortive, because the Assembly is a nascent House of Justice and is supposed to administer, according to the Teachings, the affairs of the Community. But individuals towards each other are governed by love, unity, forgiveness and a sin-covering eye. Once the friends grasp this they will get along much better, but they keep playing Spiritual Assembly to each other and expect the Assembly to behave like an individual.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 41-42)

The members of these Assemblies, on their part, must disregard utterly their own likes and dislikes, their personal interests and inclinations, and concentrate their minds upon those measures that will conduce to the welfare and happiness of the Bahá’í Community and promote the common weal.
(Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá’í Administration, p. 41)

The second condition is that the members of the assembly should unitedly elect a chairman and lay down guide-lines and by-laws for their meetings and discussions. The chairman should have charge of such rules and regulations and protect and enforce them; the other members should be submissive, and refrain from conversing on superfluous and extraneous matters.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)

They must, when coming together, turn their faces to the Kingdom on high and ask aid from the Realm of Glory.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)