Universal Participation

"Regard the world as the human body," wrote Bahá’u’lláh to Queen Victoria. We can surely regard the Bahá’í world, the army of God, in the same way. In the human body, every cell, every organ, every nerve has its part to play. When all do so the body is healthy, vigorous, radiant, ready for every call made upon it. No cell, however humble, lives apart from the body, whether in serving it or receiving from it. This is true of the body of mankind in which God "hast endowed each and all with talents and faculties," and is supremely true of the body of the Bahá’í World Community, for this body is already an organism, united in its aspirations, unified in its methods, seeking assistance and confirmation from the same Source, and illumined with the conscious knowledge of its unity. Therefore, in this organic, divinely guided, blessed and illumined body the participation of every believer is of the utmost importance, and is a source of power and vitality as yet unknown to us. For extensive and deep as has been the sharing in the glorious work of the Cause, who would claim that every single believer has succeeded in finding his or her fullest satisfaction in the life of the Cause? The Bahá’í World Community, growing like a healthy new body, develops new cells, new organs, new functions and powers as it presses on to its maturity, when every soul, living for the Cause of God, will receive from that Cause, health, assurance and the overflowing bounties of Bahá’u’lláh which are diffused through His divinely ordained order.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 42-43

A more universal participation of the whole village in the spiritual activities, such as prayers, Nineteen Day Feast, contribution to the fund, teaching, etc

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 492

As the purpose of development is being redefined, it will become necessary also to look again at assumptions about the appropriate roles to be played by the protagonists in the process. The crucial role of government, at whatever level, requires no elaboration. Future generations, however, will find almost incomprehensible the circumstance that, in an age paying tribute to an egalitarian philosophy and related democratic principles, development planning should view the masses of humanity as essentially recipients of benefits from aid and training. Despite acknowledgement of participation as a principle, the scope of the decision making left to most of the world’s population is at best secondary, limited to a range of choices formulated by agencies inaccessible to them and determined by goals that are often irreconcilable with their perceptions of reality.

Universal House of Justice, Prosperity of Humankind, 1995

As you note, one of the objectives of the Nine Year Plan is universal participation in Bahá’í community life. This can be possible when each believer understands that his personal spiritual life will be enriched and universal blessings will descend only if each Bahá’í participates in contributing, however poor he may be, however small the contribution, and in whatever form it is offered.

Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 64

Efforts to reach the minorities should be increased and broadened to include all minority groups such as the Indians, Spanish-speaking people, Japanese and Chinese. Indeed, every stratum of American society must be reached and can be reached with the healing Message, if the believers will but arise and go forth with the spirit which is conquering the citadels of the southern states. Such a program, coupled as it must be with continuous consolidation, can be effectively carried out by universal participation on the part of every lover of Bahá’u’lláh.

Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities

Greater attention to universal participation and the spiritual enrichment of individual believers

* Promote universal participation in the life of the Faith and an increased sense of their Bahá’í identity among children, youth and adults.

* Encourage, where feasible, the practice of dawn prayer.

* Encourage individual believers to adopt teaching goals for themselves.

* Carry out activities designed to deepen the believers in both a spiritual and intellectual understanding of the Cause.

* Encourage believers to make greater use of Bahá’í' literature.

* Encourage the believers to enhance their command of language to assist them to understand the Bahá’í writings ever more clearly.

* Develop and foster Bahá’í scholarship and lend support to the Associations for Bahá’í Studies.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 722

If the friends persist in their efforts to learn the ways and methods of community building in small settings in this way, the long-cherished goal of universal participation in the affairs of the Faith will, we are certain, move by several orders of magnitude within grasp.

Universal House of Justice, Ridván 2010

In many ways, the communities that have progressed furthest are tracing an inviting path for others to follow. Yet whatever the level of activity in a cluster, it is the capacity for learning among the local friends, within a common framework, that fosters progress along the path of development. Everyone has a share in this enterprise; the contribution of each serves to enrich the whole. The most dynamic clusters are those in which, irrespective of the resources the community possesses or the number of activities being undertaken, the friends appreciate that their task is to identify what is required for progress to occur—the nascent capacity that must be nurtured, the new skill that must be acquired, the initiators of a fledgling effort who must be accompanied, the space for reflection that must be cultivated, the collective endeavour that must be coordinated—and then find creative ways in which the necessary time and resources can be made available to achieve it.

Universal House of Justice, Ridvan Message 2014

In that same message [April 1964] we indicated the meaning of universal participation:

. . . the dedicated effort of every believer in teaching, in living the Bahá’í life, in contributing to the Fund, and particularly in the persistent effort to understand more and more the significance of Bahá’u’lláh's Revelation.

Every believer can contribute to the Fund. Not all believers can give public talks, not all are called upon to serve on administrative institutions. But all can pray, fight their own spiritual battles, and contribute to the Fund. If every believer will carry out these sacred duties, we shall be astonished at the accession of power which will result to the whole body, and which in its turn will give rise to further growth and the showering of greater blessings on all of us.

Universal House of Justice, Wellspring of Guidance, p. 37-38

The House of Justice believes that the financial needs of the Cause should be met by universal participation in giving and urges national and local spiritual assemblies to pursue this goal with vigor and imagination, recalling to the friends the plea of the beloved Guardian to every believer "unhesitatingly to place, each according to his circumstances, his share on the altar of Bahá’í sacrifice." The fact that only we, the Bahá’ís, can contribute financially to the Cause is both our honor and our challenge.

Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities

The real secret of universal participation lies in the Master’s oft expressed wish that the friends should love each other, constantly encourage each other, work together, be as one soul in one body, and in so doing become a true, organic, healthy body animated and illumined by the spirit.

Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 43

The second challenge facing us is to raise the intensity of teaching to a pitch never before attained, in order to realize that "vast increase" called for in the Plan. Universal participation and constant action will win this goal. Every believer has a part to play, and is capable of playing it, for every soul meets others, and, as promised by Bahá’u’lláh, "Whosoever ariseth to aid Our Cause God will render him victorious...."

Universal House of Justice, Promoting Entry by Troops, p. 7

The Universal House of Justice calls the attention of every believer to this vital and pressing matter, and asks the National Spiritual Assemblies to pay special attention to the principle of universal participation, so that every single follower of Bahá’u’lláh may make his offering, however small or great, and thereby identify himself with the work of the Cause everywhere.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 10

The universal participation of the believers in every aspect of the Faith -- in contributing to the Fund, in teaching, deepening, living the Bahá’í life, administering the affairs of the community, and, above all, in the life of prayer and devotion to God -- will endow the Bahá’í community with such strength that it can overcome the forces of spiritual disintegration which are engulfing the non-Bahá’í world, and can become an ocean of oneness that will cover the face of the planet. We ask every one of you to ponder these matters deeply, and to join us in fervent prayer that this momentary crisis will prove to have been a providential test that will spur the community of the Greatest Name to new heights of dedication and triumphant achievement.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 178

Those who cannot pioneer or do travel teaching will want to participate by contributing to the International Deputization Fund. Let them remember Bahá’u’lláh's injunction: "Centre your energies in the propagation of the Faith of God. Whoso is worthy of so high a calling, let him arise and promote it. Whoso is unable, it is his duty to appoint him who will, in his stead, proclaim this Revelation ..." Let the Bahá’ís of the world join in the true spirit of universal participation and win all the victories while there is yet time. Let each assume his full measure of responsibility that all may share the laurels of accomplishment at the end of the Plan.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 141

Those who serve in these settings, both local inhabitants and visiting teachers, would rightly view their work in terms of community building.... a process that seeks to raise capacity within a population to take charge of its own spiritual, social and intellectual development.

Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message, 2010, paragraph 5

We now ask you to bend your efforts and thoughts, with equal enthusiasm, to the requirements of universal participation.

The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 42

What is needed now is the awakening of all believers to the immediacy of the challenge so that each may assume his share of the responsibility for taking the Teachings to all humanity. Universal participation ... must be pressed toward attainment in every continent, country and island of the globe. Every Bahá’í, however humble or inarticulate, must become intent on fulfilling his role as a bearer of the Divine Message.

Universal House of Justice, Unlocking the Power of Action

When the goals are finally decided upon, it is important that they should be announced to the friends. It should be borne in mind that Shoghi Effendi longed to see every believer involved in Bahá’í service, so that universal participation may be achieved. It would be most effective if the Local Assembly, prior to such an announcement, would appoint local committees, to each of which a branch of activity or one or more of the local goals could be assigned. Such committees need not consist of many members. When the committee appointments are made, the Local Assembly will be fully prepared to announce its goals and its committee appointments to the community at a Nineteen Day Feast or a specially called meeting of the community.

Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities