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COLLECTIONSPublished articles, Audio
TITLEAn Organic Order: An Approach to the Philosophy of Baha'u'llah through the Writings of Shoghi Effendi
AUTHOR 1Roger Coe
TITLE_PARENTThe Vision of Shoghi Effendi
PUB_THISAssociation for Bahá'í Studies North America
ABSTRACTThe structure of the Administrative Order as outlined by the writings of the Guardian, and the principles of the Anisa model of education. Available also as an audiobook.
NOTES Note: appendices and references are only available in the audio (parts 3-5).

Audio version originally posted at, archived at

TAGS- Administrative Order; - Philosophy; Education

1. Audio version

Paper, part 1:Download MP3 file [5 MB, 46 min.]
Paper, part 2:Download MP3 file [5 MB, 48 min.]
Part 3, Appendices: Download MP3 file [3 MB, 31 min.]
Part 4, References 1: Download MP3 file [5 MB, 44 min.]
Part 5, References 2: Download MP3 file [5 MB, 346 min.]

2. Text version

"The world's equilibrium hath been upset through the vibrating influence of this most great, this new World Order. Mankind's ordered life hath been revolutionized through the agency of this unique, this wondrous System - the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed...."

"Say: This is the infallible Balance which the Hand of God is holding, in which all who are in the heavens and all who are on the earth are weighed, and their fate determined,..."(i)
- Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas

"Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen." (ii)
- Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

"I testify that no sooner had the First Word proceeded, through the potency of Thy will and purpose, out of His mouth, and the First Call gone forth from His lips than the whole creation was revolutionized, and all that are in the heavens and all that are on earth were stirred to the depths. Through that Word the realities of all created things were shaken, were divided, separated, scattered, combined and reunited, disclosing, in both the contingent world and the heavenly kingdom, entities of a new creation, and revealing, in the unseen realms, the signs and tokens of Thy unity and oneness. Through that Call Thou didst announce unto all Thy servants the advent of Thy most great Revelation and the appearance of Thy most perfect Cause." (iii)
- Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers & Meditations

      What are the implications of the fact that Bahá'u'lláh has "shaken, divided, separated, [and] scattered" the realities of all created things, and "combined and reunited" them, disclosing "entities of a new creation"? What is this new and "wondrous System" with a new "equilibrium" and "Balance" which has revolutionized humankind's ordered life?

      The claims made by Bahá'u'lláh regarding the fundamentally new and unique Order which came into being with the "First Word" from his mouth are staggering. Staggering, likewise, must be the spiritual, mental, and physical implications of this reordering of "the realities of all created things." His Order has permeated the reality of all things, yet, can we say that we are consciously manifesting the full potency of its effect in our individual and community lives? If we are fully to appreciate the significance of the internal and external revolution brought about by Bahá'u'lláh, we must gain an understanding and comprehension of the implications of the philosophical structure of this Order.

      One might ask, "What is philosophy? And how would knowledge of the philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh assist us in our work?"

      The English word "philosophy" comes from the combination of two Greek words: "philos," which means "love," and "sophos," which means "wisdom." Philosophy, in this broad definition, is a love of wisdom or knowledge. 'Abdu'l-Bahá says that, "philosophy consists in comprehending the reality of things as they exist, according to the capacity and the power of man." (1) The reality of things as they exist is what came into being when Bahá'u'lláh "caused every soul to expire" and "called into being a new creation,..." (2) Philosophy consists in the intellectual comprehension of the general nature of this Order.

      A formal definition for philosophy, according to Alfred North Whitehead, one of the preeminent philosophers of our century, is "the endeavour to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted." (3)

      In The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, (4) Shoghi Effendi states that Bahá'u'lláh has "enunciated certain universal principles" and "propounded a particular philosophy," which is "potent, sound and universal." (5) The Order of Bahá'u'lláh is our all-embracing reality. The "particular philosophy" given to us by Bahá'u'lláh is that set of universally operative, generalized principles that describe the systemic nature of that Order. But Bahá'u'lláh has not presented this philosophy to us systematically - this is a task which is up to his followers.

      Comprehension of the systemic principles of the philosophy underlying this Order would assist the entire worldwide community of Bahá'ís in the systematic application of the principles of the Faith - both in the erection of the Administrative institutions, and in the application of these principles to the practical aspects of life, an arena that the Universal House of Justice has recently called upon the community to enter.

      If Bahá'ís gained a comprehension of the Faith in terms of a system of general ideas, our actions - both as individuals and as members of institutions - would be provided with a more consistent organizational structure. If this generalized understanding were to be based on the whole Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh and set out systematically according to appropriate logic, rationality, and the "capacity and the power of man," we would all have the same generalized understanding of the Faith and its purposes and processes. With such agreement and collective understanding our priorities, goals, plans, programs, and methods could become more harmoniously integrated and continually focused upon the most important tasks in our path.

      The elaboration of the philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh has received very little systematic attention up to this point; this will be a monumental task, and one which will continue into the future for centuries to come. At this time, we can do little more than scratch the surface of what Shoghi Effendi has described as "a tremendous work which scholars in the future can undertake" - the task of "correlating philosophy with the Bahá'í teachings."(6)


      Where does one begin with such a task? We must begin, I feel, with a study of the nature of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, for through a comprehensive study of the Faith we will be able increasingly to unfold to our consciousness the fundamental philosophy underlying this Order. As this Order permeates the reality of all things we can observe its manifestations everywhere. Let's explore where we might look for expressions of this Order that are systemically complete.

      Bahá'u'lláh has given us at least four arenas wherein this Order has been given perfect expression: (1) the world of Nature, where "upon the inmost reality of...every created thing He hath shed the light of one of His names..."; (7) (2) The human soul, which has the capacity to reflect all of the names and attributes of God (8); (3) The Revealed Word of Bahá'u'lláh; and (4) The elucidation of the principles of the Administrative Order by Shoghi Effendi, Expounder of the Words of God.

      This paper will be primarily concerned with the investigation and discovery of Bahá'u'lláh's philosophy from the perspective of Shoghi Effendi's elucidation of the principles of the Administrative Order. We will look at the broad outlines of the administrative principles, identify their fundamental nature, and attempt to comprehend something of their systemic structure. Taken as a whole, these principles constitute the structure of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and are the only example we have of a systematic, infallible expression of this Order from a human mind.

      As we contemplate the structure of the Administrative Order, we will also search the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá for indications of the "balance" and "equilibrium" of "this wondrous System" which Shoghi Effendi must have pondered in setting forth the principles of the Administrative Order. We should expect to discover that because this is a new creation, this Order is dramatically different from the conceptions of the order of reality inherited from the past. We must also understand that for us to move into Bahá'u'lláh's reality will require a fundamental shift in our philosophical orientation somewhat comparable in structure to the revolutions in science brought about by comprehension of new and fundamentally different (yet more explanatory) conceptualizations of the nature of reality.

      To state it more concisely, this paper will attempt: (1) to move us a step closer toward the systematization of the underlying principles of the natural, organic philosophy that lies enshrined in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh by reviewing the principles of the Administrative Order broadly outlined by Shoghi Effendi as a specific instance, or expression, of that universal philosophy; (2) to relate these various principles to overarching indications of the nature of the contingent world that are found in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá; and (3) to indicate some of the systemically inherent problems we will face as a community and as individuals in making such a fundamental philosophical shift of worldviews as we move more fully into the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      What is the relationship of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh to the Administrative Order as elaborated by Shoghi Effendi? In his marvelous history of the first century of the Bahá'í Faith Shoghi Effendi has indicated that there are several different levels of expression for this new Order.

      "It should be noted, in this connection, that in the third Vahid of this Book [the Persian Bayan] there occurs a passage which, alike in its explicit reference to the name of the Promised One, and in its anticipation of the Order which, in a later age, was to be identified with His Revelation, deserves to rank as one of the most significant statements recorded in any of the Bab's writings. 'Well is it with him,' is His prophetic announcement, 'who fixeth his gaze upon the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, and rendereth thanks unto his Lord. For He will assuredly be made manifest. God hath indeed irrevocably ordained it in the Bayan.' It is with that self-same Order that the Founder of the promised Revelation, twenty years later - incorporating that same term in His Kitab-i-Aqdas - identified the System envisaged in that Book, affirming that 'this most great Order' had deranged the world's equilibrium, and revolutionized mankind's ordered life. It is the features of that self-same Order which, at a later stage in the evolution of the Faith, the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant and the appointed Interpreter of His teachings, delineated through the provisions of His Will and Testament. It is the structural basis of that self-same Order which in the Formative Age of that same Faith, the stewards of that same Covenant, the elected representatives of the world-wide Bahá'í community, are now laboriously and unitedly establishing. It is the superstructure of that self-same Order, attaining its full stature through the emergence of the Bahá'í World Commonwealth - the Kingdom of God on earth - which the Golden Age of that same Dispensation must, in the fullness of time, ultimately witness." (9)

      This passage refers to several different levels, generalizations, or abstractions of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh. Each is identified, on a level one step further removed, with the "self-same Order" of which the Bab spoke. There is the Order itself, which has deranged the world's equilibrium; there are the features of the Order which were delineated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá; there is the structural basis of the Order which is the Administrative Order of the Bahá'í Faith; and finally there is the superstructure of the Order which is the Bahá'í World Commonwealth.

      In a certain sense, each of the stages of the elaboration of the Order brings the Order of Bahá'u'lláh more and more into the realm of the visible. The Word is spoken and the underlying realities are changed. As reality is reality, we have nothing against which to contrast it, no way to perceive a difference except through spiritual intuition. The features of this reality are delineated by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in his Will and Testament, (10) a document we also know as the Charter of the New World Order. (11) The Administrative Order, the structural basis of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, was developed and elaborated by Shoghi Effendi from the Will and Testament and The Kitab-i-Aqdas.. The institutions of the Faith are the visible manifestation of this aspect of the Order. These institutions will serve as the nucleus and very pattern of the superstructure - the Bahá'í World Commonwealth - which will manifest an entirely new culture and civilization as an expression of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      In defining our task as it relates to the "structural basis" of this Order, Shoghi Effendi has called the American believers, "the champion-builders of the organic structure of the Cause." (12) This task, which will be an ongoing task throughout the Formative Age of the Faith, is none other than the erection of the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh - the "supreme,...infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose." (13)

      But the efficacy of the Administrative Order, which the friends around the world are constructing, must depend upon the degree to which we as individuals understand, and pattern in our own spiritual lives, the character and nature of Bahá'u'lláh's Order. In the words of Shoghi Effendi:

      "...upon our present-day efforts, and above all upon the extent to which we strive to remodel our lives after the pattern of sublime heroism associated with those gone before us, must depend the efficacy of the instruments we now fashion - instruments that must erect the structure of that blissful Commonwealth which must signalize the Golden Age of our Faith." (14)

And again,

      "The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is...fundamentally mystic in character. Its chief goal is the development of the individual and society, through the acquisition of spiritual virtues and powers....Laws and institutions,...can become really effective only when our inner spiritual life has been perfected and transformed." (15)

      Efficacy also depends on an understanding of our relationship to the Administrative Order and its institutions and practice of the "divinely-ordained administrative principles" (16) revealed by Bahá'u'lláh. The Universal House of Justice has stated:

      "As the Bahá'í Administrative Order rapidly expands throughout the world it behooves everyone associated with it to familiarize himself with its principles, to understand its import and to put its precepts into practice. Only as individual members of local Spiritual Assemblies deepen themselves in the fundamental verities of the Faith and in the proper application of the principles governing the operation of the Assembly will this institution grow and develop toward its full potential." (17)

      As we strive in our communities to promote the healthy growth of the institutions, we each carry with us a personal conceptualization of the nature of our task, and the system of laws and principles which serve as the basis of the work we are performing. It is the nature of life in this contingent world that we all operate from within a cognitive, conceptual framework which is the product of our individual capacities taken together with our environment. We must gain an intellectual honesty and humility in discharging our tasks. These attitudes constantly inform us that Bahá'u'lláh's Order is something different from what we could ever imagine - especially at this early stage in the development of the Faith - and that our first obligation is continually to strive to deepen our understanding of the significance of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation. (18)

      Shoghi Effendi has encouraged the friends to unite through a "thorough understanding...of the basic laws and principles of Bahá'í Administration," encouraging and instructing Bahá'ís to "deepen their knowledge, through both study and practice, of all the administrative teachings of the Faith...." (19) This study and practice is very necessary because we are dealing with a new system, based on the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, which has no precedent in the past. Both 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, in establishing and elaborating the broad outlines of the "guiding principles underlying the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh," (20) have conformed this system to the principles of that universal philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh.

      The Guardian has comprehensively defined the broad outlines and the essential theory (21) of the Administrative Order and has presented to us its fundamental principles in his many letters, which he has scattered through out the Bahá'í world. Its essential nature is that it is organic in character. The philosophical principles upon which the theory of the Administrative Order is based are the same philosophical principles underlying the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      The Universal House of Justice, in its letter of 20 October 1983, has encouraged the worldwide Bahá'í community to apply "more systematically the principles of the Faith." The House of Justice has indicated in that same letter the necessity of "ordering human affairs in such a way as to bring into being a world unified in all the essential aspects of its life,...[through] the achievement of a dynamic coherence between the spiritual and practical requirements of life on earth." (22)

      A greater awareness of this larger System - this Order and its systemic principles that lie at the base of our Administrative Order, and that, of necessity, must also underlie every aspect of the created world, e.g., science, philosophy, our individual souls - will enhance every aspect of our lives as Bahá'ís. Such an awareness will improve the quality of our consultation, increase our understanding of the implications of the statement that the Faith is "scientific in its method," (23) uplift the quality of our spiritual lives and give us the comprehensive understanding we need in order to expand our spiritual and practical capacities to serve humankind, both as individuals and as members of institutions within the Administrative Order. An understanding of this universal philosophy underlying the Order of Bahá'u'lláh will contribute to the efficacious discharge of every task we face as Bahá'ís - and most especially that which we face in the construction of the Administrative Order.

      Through the systematic study and ordering of these "divinely-ordained administrative principles," (24) we may plunge to a greater depth of awareness and bring to bear a more comprehensive and whole understanding of the character and functioning of the Administrative Order, which it is our duty and privilege to unfold as the "champion-builders of the organic structure of the Cause."

      The following is a wonderful passage recently released to the English-speaking world in the compilation, The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, wherein Shoghi Effendi stated what we might expect to occur in our lives if we were to deduce the natural philosophy from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh:

      "Praise be to God that the spirit of the Holy Writings and Tablets which have been revealed in this wondrous Dispensation concerning matters of major or minor importance, whether essential or otherwise, related to the sciences and the arts, to natural philosophy, literature, politics or economics, have so permeated the world that since the inception of the world in the course of past Dispensations and bygone ages nothing like it has ever been seen or heard. Indeed if an avowed follower of Bahá'u'lláh were to immerse himself in, and fathom the depths of, the ocean of these heavenly teachings, and with utmost care and attention deduce from each of them the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom that lie enshrined therein, such a person's life, materially, intellectually and spiritually, will be safe from toil and trouble, and unaffected by setbacks and perils, or any sadness or despondency." (25)

      Through the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, we have been presented a grand new system that affects every aspect of our lives. Our sciences, our religions, our philosophical systems, our cultures, and even our individual thoughts and habits have been conditioned and previously limited by the constraints of an old order, an order which has had its day and passed on - rolled up through the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh - but whose residual pattern remains, a skeletal structure decaying into oblivion yet still casting its shadow and limiting our vision of the new Order whose structure even now permeates the essence of the entire creation.

      The changing of the Order at the dawn of the Bahá'í Dispensation occurred, and none of us witnessed this change, yet each of us has been struck in a certain sense with a perception of the difference in orders, or we would not have accepted the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh.. But recognition at that spiritual level, which was sealed by our declaration of faith, does not necessarily imply that we have recognized that the Order has changed for all other realms. Nor does it guarantee our total comprehension of the systemic nature of the Order as it applies to those realms - realms such as: philosophy, science, culture, and individual thought and habit.

      Of course, the philosophy of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh also bears upon the mystical and spiritual worlds; the focus here, however, is on the contingent world because this is where the organization of our collective, institutional work must be accomplished. I feel that not only is it possible for us to deduce the principles of the philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh but that it is necessary if we are to apply "systematically the principles of the Faith" to the spiritual and practical requirements of life.

      We live and operate in this contingent world and are subject to its conditions and limitations; the Administrative Order is to be constructed in this contingent world, our sciences and philosophies operate in the contingent world; and though we are all recipients of Divine bestowals, though our religion is fundamentally mystic in character, in our collective work we must honor the limitations imposed by the contingent world. Examples of these limitations are: the constraints imposed by science (if we are truly to become scientific in our method); the "knowledge of things which men universally have, [which] is gained by reflection or by evidence,..." as distinct from purely intuitive, subjective knowledge (26) and, the attributes and characteristics of contingency spoken of by Bahá'u'lláh, such as: "distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics and standards." (27)

      The reason we must honor these limitations is that the Faith is a collective entity; it is focused on the spiritual and organic unification of humankind. Its chief instrument is the Administrative Order, which is concerned "primarily with the nature of those essential relationships that must bind all the states and nations as members of one human family."(28) The authority within the Order is concentrated "in the hands of the elected" (29) whose method of working toward this organic unity is consultation; and, as Shoghi Effendi says, the Faith must be "scientific in its method." Each of our institutional entities must operate in the contingent world; thus each must find the justification of its actions in that "knowledge of things which men universally have," and through consultation. Essentially, they are subject to the discipline of science, intellectual understanding, comprehension, rationality, and "verification." (30)

      But the principles of the science we apply must be according to Bahá'u'lláh's Order and 'Abdu'l-Bahá's elucidations - and this is not necessarily the same science as was found in the old order. Aspects of its method may be similar, but we must remain open to the possibility, and even the inevitability, that its primary features will be different inasmuch as these features also reflect the changes in the fundamental structure of reality brought about by the revelation of this new Order. The scientific world has accepted Einstein's theories of relativity as being a fundamental change in the perception of the structure of the universe - a truth that the Bahá'í Faith insists upon, (31) but the truth of relativity has yet to permeate individual thought and society to the extent that we act completely with this fundamental reality as our basis.

      Decrying the gap separating scientists and their empirically based conception of reality from the everyday thought, habit, and implicit perception of reality held by the majority of the people, the eminent scientist and philosopher Jacob Bronowski says:

      "...The long success of the rigid model of nature has made it part of the vernacular. We think by habit of nature as a causal, continuous, and independent mechanism, which thumps along inexorably while we peck or goggle at it....This is no longer the scientist's picture;...The new thought in science is based on new facts. These critical facts will not fit a framework which insists that natural laws must be causal, continuous, and independent of us. And it is useless to insist on habit and metaphysic in the face of the facts. We must learn a more delicate conception of the laws of nature....Science is not the imposition of our logic on nature, but the arduous understanding of her own." (32)

      Science is essentially the employment of our intellectual capacity as a mirror for reflecting upon creation, but this mirror is structured by our conception of the nature of reality, i.e., our philosophy or worldview. As we use the capacities of our souls to imagine different conceptualizations of reality, we discover that a new and different framework often allows us to see new facts. As these new conceptualizations are tested against empirical reality our comprehension of a greater part of the system of reality follows. Applied scientists then bring these principles into manifestation on the physical plane, and the philosophers and basic scientists move on to try to comprehend other mysteries of the nature of the contingent world. (33) In 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words:

      "Science may be likened to a mirror wherein the images of the mysteries of outer phenomena are reflected....The philosophical conclusions of bygone centuries, the teachings of the Prophets and wisdom of former sages are crystallized and reproduced in the scientific advancement of today." (34)

      The realities with which scientists are now dealing - the new facts of science - are not the apparent facts of everyday life; they are facts which are most apparent at the atomic and subatomic levels, or on the level of galaxies and universes. Yet they serve as part of the underpinning for the structure of the entire creation - including the biological level where our perceptual senses inform us about reality. These new facts, which force a new conception of the structure of the world, imply the necessity for us to conceptualize the reality of creation through a new set of lenses. They indicate that we should "inform" reality according to concepts such as unity, relativity, information, wholeness, and process, rather than only in terms of energy, stasis, and "things." But since we don't "see" processes, but rather "things" or the product of processes, we naturally tend to regard our reality as a noun rather than as a verb, i.e., an active, dynamic process. Even the subject / predicate structure of the English language reinforces this misconception of reality.

      'Abdu'l-Bahá has indicated that we must make what may be regarded as intellectual adjustments, or corrections, to the concept of the structure of reality we gain as a product of our perceptual systems so that our conception will conform more closely to the essential reality:

      "...insight (or mental perception) seeth that which sight (or physical perception) seeth not, and apprehendeth that which the body perceiveth not, ...But the insight correcteth the mistake of the sight and apprehendeth the reality." (35)

      Discoveries of empirical fact during this past century, which must necessarily affect our entire philosophical orientation to the contingent world, are commonly known to many scientists who have taken the time to look beyond their specialized realms. And the Bahá'í scholar who studies the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh and keeps current in the general scientific literature sees a fresh marvel of correspondence and relationship unfold nearly every day.

      Bearing in mind the general and pervasive character of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation, Bahá'ís must set about the work of deducing "the subtle mysteries and consummate wisdom" from his teachings and discover the principles by which we may order our scientific, philosophical, political, and economic life. The principles are all there in broad outline in the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and the interpretations of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi, but Shoghi Effendi could not do all the work of elaborating these systems by himself so it is left to us to carry on.

      In this connection, one of the things that Shoghi Effendi has left to us is the task of exhaustive analysis of the relationships between the institutions of the Faith, as well as their connection to Bahá'u'lláh and his Teachings. In The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, in explaining the character and functions of the institutions of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, Shoghi Effendi limits his intention to the elaboration of "certain salient features of this scheme which,...are already so clearly defined that we find it inexcusable to either misconceive or ignore," and bequeathes to "future generations" these other tasks:

      "To define with accuracy and minuteness the features, and to analyze exhaustively the nature of the relationships which, on the one hand, bind together these two fundamental organs of the Will of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and connect, on the other, each of them to the Author of the Faith and the Center of His Covenant..." (36)

      This paper aims towards the process of furthering the exhaustive analysis of the nature of these relationships and the connection of these organs (as well as other aspects of the Administrative Order) to the "particular," "sound," and "universal" philosophy of the Author of the Faith and the Center of his Covenant. It will begin this process by listing some of the fundamental administrative principles of this organic order. (37)


      One of Shoghi Effendi's great legacies to the Bahá'í world, and to the world in general, is that he has, through the divine bestowals of Bahá'u'lláh, the Bab, and 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and in his station as the Expounder of the Cause, drawn the outline and elucidated the fundamental structure of that System - the Order of Bahá'u'lláh - as it applies to the Administrative Order of the Faith. He defines the fundamental character of that Order as organic. In various references he identifies it as "a living organism" (38), calls it the "infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose" (39), identifies the Administrative Order as the "organic structure of the Cause" (40), speaks of the supreme mission of the Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh as being the achievement of the "organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations" (41), and calls the Universal House of Justice "the supreme organ of the Bahá'í Commonwealth." (42)

      Perhaps the Guardian's most completely elaborated analogy of the Administrative Order as an organism is the passage that appeared in the 1948 printing of the European Teaching Committee Manual and was reprinted at the beginning of Principles of Bahá'í Administration. (43)

      Shoghi Effendi speaks of the necessity of the interplay between the "perfected body" (i.e., "the Administrative World Order" built up to "a point of absolute perfection") and "the Holy Spirit of the Cause" pouring forth "from the channels within." The "Spirit" of the Cause is analogous to the "finer promptings of the soul or spirit," which are structured by perfect guidance and authorized interpretation; while the "perfected body" - the institutions and laws of the Administrative Order - is seen as the ordered and organized channel through which "wisdom" and the "lights of real unity" will shine "through consultative action and obedience thereto." He links that Order to the "divine purpose for this age, which is no less than the establishment of the reign of divine love, justice, and wisdom in the world, under and in conformity to the Divine Law." (44)

      The Guardian carries this example even further, calling the "body of a man...the true divine example or parallel" to the Administrative Order, saying:

"...the spirit, when in ideal control of all the lesser parts of the organism, finds the utmost harmony throughout the whole body - each part is in perfect reciprocity with the other parts. The commands and impulses of the spirit are obeyed by the body and the body in turn in its actions and functions identifies and determines the expression the spiritual impulses shall take. This is divine unity - and this law, being universal and found in every created object in the universe, has full application to the universal Bahá'í organism made up of believers everywhere, which has been established by the Manifestation of God." (45)

      This entire passage is fraught with implications that will be unfolded to the Bahá'í World as our institutions demonstrate their capacity to achieve this divine unity through their consultative action and as scholars and scientists of the future learn more concerning the control and communication processes of the "true divine example" - "the body of a man."

      A word should be said at this point concerning Shoghi Effendi's choice for a parallel to the organic functioning of the Administrative Order. In identifying the human body as the true divine example, he has removed the possibility that we could, through mistaken apprehension of the processes of the Cause, reduce our concept of the nature of its functioning to a lower kingdom, such as the animal or vegetable worlds. Just as the human body is endowed with certain capacities that are lacking in the lower kingdoms - capacities such as will, spiritual receptivity, rationality, and intellect - the Administrative Order, through processes inscrutable to us at present, is endowed with similar capacities. The collective of human hearts and minds which we call a "spiritual assembly," is in reality one entity, with one heart and one mind, when it functions in the utmost unity. One can see the central place of the human body in several aspects of the Bahá'í Revelation: from the little known fact that the five-pointed star, which symbolizes the human temple, is the symbol of the Bahá'í Faith (46); to the potential for reflection of all of the names and attributes of God in the human soul; to the writing of some of the most important Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh in the form of a pentacle, (47) again as a symbol of the human temple; to the appearance of the five-pointed star on the ring stone symbol, which symbolizes the Manifestation, or God, in human form.

      It would serve us well to meditate upon the significance of this statement from the Guardian and not to allow ourselves to be lulled into a conception of the Administrative Order as a lifeless mechanical entity set in a determined, unchangeable course. The central metaphor of the Administrative Order is the human body because of the centrality of the metaphor of the human body for the philosophy of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      In his writings Shoghi Effendi mentions the principles, characteristics, functions, attributes, and qualities that define the nature of this organic Order. For the sake of making the whole more understandable, these attributes will be set out within three particular categories: UNITY, DYNAMISM, and SYSTEM. This is only one of many possible ways of ordering the whole, and scholars in the future will undoubtedly find many other ways. It is important to keep in mind, however, that we are dealing with an organic whole that expresses its vitality largely as a function of the unity of all of these attributes. Breaking it apart for analysis is only one small, though necessary, part of understanding its function, structure, and purpose. Viewing the Administrative Order in its wholeness both before and after analysis of its discrete attributes is most essential to the entire process.

      In categorizing the principles of the Administrative Order, I have placed them into particular groupings where these principles seem to be consonant with broad categories of principles gleaned from the theory of the biological and organismic sciences. These categories are few in number but have profound implications for the organization of our thoughts concerning the nature of the organic instruments we are constructing.

      The first category is unity, which, in the words of Shoghi Effendi, relates to the "cornerstone of Bahá'u'lláh's world-embracing dominion,..." (48) The second category concerns the dynamic, developmental, ever-changing nature of organisms in general, while the third category considers the systemic, orderly nature of organisms.


      The Guardian speaks of the "law" of "divine unity" (49); "the organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations" as the supreme mission of the Faith (50); the Administrative Order as "the channel, the instrument, [and] the embodiment" of the spirit (51); and "the concentration of authority in the hands of the elected." (52) He quotes 'Abdu'l-Bahá naming the Guardian the "Interpreter of the Word of God" (53); identifies a function of the Guardian as being the preserver of the identity of Bahá'u'lláh's Faith and the integrity of Bahá'u'lláh's law (54); calls the House of Justice the "supreme organ" (55); and speaks of the bond that links the "two fundamental organs," and the connection of each of them to the "Author of the Faith and the Center of His Covenant." (56) He further indicates that the "lights of real unity" shine through consultation (57); reiterates 'Abdu'l-Bahá's "preference for unanimity in decision" of the elected representatives (58); describes in dynamic terms the unity in "perfect reciprocity" when the parts of the "body" are animated and controlled by the "spirit" (59); proclaims the necessity for "uniformity all Bahá'í National Constitutions" (60); and speaks of the Faith's "cohesive strength" and "integrating power." (61) In conclusion, he proclaims that the basis of the Administrative Order rests on "a particular philosophy" which is "potent, sound and universal" (62); assures us that the "nature," "origin," and "validity" of the institutions" (63) has derived from the "identity of purpose and method" of the Most Holy Book and the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (64); and indicates that "no abiding benefit can be conferred upon the component parts if the general interests of the entity itself are ignored or neglected." (65)


      The second category is concerned with the dynamic, developmental, ever-changing nature of the organism of the Administrative Order. Shoghi Effendi speaks of the "elasticity which characterizes the functions of [the] appointed ministers" that enables the Faith, "even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society" (66); indicates that the "machinery...has been so fashioned, that whatever is deemed necessary to incorporate into it in order to keep it in the forefront of all progressive movements, safely embodied therein" (67); quotes 'Abdu'l-Bahá as saying, "The House of Justice is both the initiator and the abrogator of its own laws" (68); and describes the Faith's processes as a "slow and unobtrusive" development into maturity. (69) He also indicated that social progress is impelled by the same process of "mystic, all-pervasive, yet indefinable change" associated with the development of the fruit (70); proclaims that we live in "a world subject to the immutable law of change" (71); speaks of the vitality of the organic institutions, the "vibrant body of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh" (72), and the "reciprocity" existing among its parts (73); and, lastly, indicates that "change [in membership of a spiritual assembly] is good and brings a fresh outlook into the discussions of any assembly." (74)


      The third category of consideration is the systemic, orderly nature of the organic body of the Administrative Order. The Guardian identifies this organism with the "Order" and "System" foretold by the Bab in the Persian Bayan and revealed by Bahá'u'lláh in his Most Holy Book (75); calls it the "Divine Polity" (76), a "world-enfolding System" (77), a "world-embracing, divinely-appointed Order" (78), and the "infallible Organ for the accomplishment of a Divine Purpose" (79); asks us to "meditate upon the supreme grandeur of the System unfolded by the hand of Bahá'u'lláh" (80); indicated that the philosophy at its base is "potent" and "sound" (81), that "religious truth is not absolute but relative" (82), and that the Faith "concerns itself primarily with the fundamental relationships that bind...the family of man." (83) Moreover, he extols the capacity of the Faith to be purged, purified, stirred, galvanized, pruned, and have its unity cemented (84); identifies as "dead leaves" the "lukewarm and faint-hearted" which wither away (85); and says that "assemblies,...committees and conventions...rise or fall according to their capacity to...embody the ideals and execute the purpose of the Bahá'í Faith." (86) He indicated that "the apostles of Bahá'u'lláh in every land,...have before them in clear, in unequivocal and emphatic language, all the laws, the regulations, the principles, the institutions, the guidance, they require for the prosecution and consummation of their task" (87); says the Law of Bahá'u'lláh "insists upon the subordination of national...interests to the imperative claims of a unified world,...repudiates excessive centralization,...disclaims all attempts at uniformity" (88); and calls its watchword "unity in diversity." (89) He asks us to sweep away and relegate to the "limbo of obsolescent and forgotten doctrines" "institutions, assumptions and religious formulae" which have "ceased to promote the welfare of the generality of mankind" (90); extols the infinite "diversity of the national characteristics of [the future world's] federated units" (91); identifies the "method" of the Faith as "scientific" (92); and indicated that the law of consultation is "the bedrock of this unique order." (93)

      As stated earlier, the purpose of this paper is to assist in the discovery and understanding of the principles of the Order that underlie the Administrative Order; and this is being done for two primary reasons: first, it will help us better understand the nature of the instruments that have been placed in our hands; and, second, if we see the Administrative Order in its systemic wholeness we will have before us the Guardian's infallible expression of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, by which we may infer aspects of the path to take in discovering the principles of that more general Order. By constantly checking back to Shoghi Effendi's particular expression of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh we should be able to determine if we are on the right course in systematizing the principles of the larger Order.

      The following constitutes a tentative summary of the general systemic characteristics of the Administrative Order from which we may be able to infer some of the principles of the nature of the underlying structure. This offering is tentative because of the limited scope of the present study and because of the feeling that a more comprehensive and ordered system should come from a collaborative effort of a multidisciplinary group of Bahá'í scholars, biologists, and general scientists.


- The Bahá'í system is one of an integrated set of laws and institutions that will provide the basic structure for the entire Dispensation - a structure, which also allows for new legislation to meet the exigencies of the times.

- This set of Laws and principles provides for an orderly process of evolution and development of all aspects, and at all levels of the Administrative Order - from the individual and family, to the nation and planet.

- The Administrative Order is stratified into a hierarchy where each institution possesses the same general purposes, yet each expresses the process according to its specific limitations and to the conditions of its environment. The supreme organ - the Universal House of Justice - provides overall direction, legislates to fill the gaps in the law, and resolves questions where difference occurs on the lower levels.

- Each stratification of the Administrative Order, while being involved in the general unity of the entity, manifests an autonomy and unity in and of itself. Each subsystem has all the information it needs for the prosecution and consummation of its tasks in erecting the Administrative Order.

- A stabilizing relationship of negative (or self-correcting) feedback exists between the institutions of the learned and the institutions of the rulers. The mandating of the law of consultation as the method of the elected, with unanimity as their goal, gives yet another level of self-correcting feedback as well as providing the method for the determination of the direction of the organism at all levels.

      In looking at Shoghi Effendi's particular expression of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh, what can we infer about the nature of the Order itself? We see first and foremost the guiding hand of divinity, of Supreme Intelligence. We see the law of divine unity and the principle of relationship through communication; we can see dynamic change: birth, growth and development, decay and death. We see constant evolution focused upon a purpose, which is not so much an end state as it is a stable state of being and becoming with all parts and components in reciprocal balance. We see a system that is arranged in a hierarchical order composed of subsystems and suprasystems, which reflect the same pattern, yet where the integrity of rank and station is preserved. And lastly, we see the capacity of the system to renew and regenerate itself at stated periods as well as the capacity for the system essentially to re-create itself in the event of catastrophic changes in its general environment.

      These notes are made as an indication of the general character of what we might be able to discover as we seek to uncover the nature of the "particular philosophy" of Bahá'u'lláh (indeed, we shall see in the next section the confirmation of some of these ideas). While it is beyond the scope of this paper to analyze exhaustively and to systematize the essential relationships that must obtain in the organic connections between and among the institutions of the Administrative Order, (94) this must eventually be done, and such a document should receive constant reference by anyone who seeks to systematize Bahá'u'lláh's philosophy. We are attempting to comprehend a System, which is highly complex, but comprehensible, yet made somewhat more difficult by our close proximity to the embryonic nucleus. We may remain confident, however, that the mystery will be increasingly unfolded as we apply these principles with knowledge and understanding and see the visible result of the interaction of the spirit of the age with the channel and instrument, which is in our hands. Indeed, "the fruit, ere it is formed, lieth potentially within the tree," and dissection or analysis at too early a stage will yield "no sign nor any part of the fruit..." (95)


      Having looked at a brief yet fairly comprehensive summary of the various Administrative principles in terms of three primary characteristics of biological organisms, we need to see them now in terms of general principles relating to the contingent world voiced by Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. The purpose of this section is to identify a few of the general principles that describe the nature of the contingent world according to the philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh.

      Shoghi Effendi says that in the "Tablet of Wisdom" Bahá'u'lláh "sets forth the fundamentals of true philosophy." (96) This tablet, then, must be one of our primary reference sources. Rather than setting forth a philosophy per se in this tablet, Bahá'u'lláh points to the path one should take and indicates criteria one should use in seeking to comprehend reality. He says, "The beginning of to acknowledge whatsoever God hath clearly set forth." (97) If we search for the very clear principles and constantly check back to Shoghi Effendi's elucidation of these principles in the construction of the Administrative Order, I'm sure that gradually we will be able to lay a solid foundation upon which a philosophy could be elaborated.

      Philosophy, like science, is a continual process of discovery. Our knowledge and understanding of these principles will be increasingly unfolded - and most especially if we use them, and test them against reality as it actually exists.

      The following series of excerpts constitutes only a brief survey of some of the most clearly stated principles concerning the nature of the contingent world from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Inasmuch as we ourselves are bound to the contingent world, yet have a spiritual capacity - the powers of the human spirit and of the spirit of faith - a few of the quotations will relate to the limitations of our capacity to perceive this Order. Other aspects of these capacities and limitations will be covered in the next sections, but none of this can claim to cover the subject as it must be covered if we are to comprehend the full scope of parameters that both empower and limit us in our exploration of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      Bahá'u'lláh indicates one source for our knowledge:

      "Look at the world and ponder a while upon it. It unveileth the book of its own self before thine eyes and revealeth that which the Pen of thy Lord, the Fashioner, the All-Informed, hath inscribed therein. It will acquaint thee with that which is within it and upon it and will give thee such clear explanations as to make thee independent of every eloquent expounder." (98)

He also says,

      "Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world..." (99)

      In these very first references we discover the essential character of the "particular philosophy" of Bahá'u'lláh that Shoghi Effendi may have relied upon in elaborating the principles of the Administrative Order - the organic principles of the Administrative Order are based on an organic philosophy.

      "...Every thing manifesteth the sign of His Unity..." (100)

      "Say: Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment." (101)

      "Consider the signs of the revelation of God in their relation one to another." (102)

      "To transgress the limits of one's own rank and station is, in no wise, permissible. The integrity of every rank and station must needs be preserved. By this is meant that every created thing should be viewed in the light of the station it hath been ordained to occupy."(103)

      "Every thing must needs have an origin...the Word of God is the cause which hath preceded the contingent world - a world which is adorned with the splendours of the Ancient of Days, yet is being renewed and regenerated at all times." (104)

      "Those who have rejected God and firmly cling to Nature as it is in itself are, verily, bereft of knowledge and wisdom...therefore their eyes were shut and their thoughts differed,..." (105)

      "Whatsoever in the contingent world can either be expressed or apprehended, can never transgress the limits which, by its inherent nature, have been imposed upon it." (106)

      "Viewed in the light of [the Manifestation's] second station - the station of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics and standards, - they manifest absolute servitude, utter destitution and complete self-effacement. Even as He saith: 'I am the servant of God. I am but a man like you.'" (107)

      "It is clear and evident, therefore, that any apparent variation in the intensity of their light is not inherent in the light itself, but should rather be attributed to the varying receptivity of an ever-changing world." (108)

      "All...things are subject to this same principle of moderation." (109)

      "The higher plane, however, understandeth the lower...notwithstanding the fact that all these entities co-exist in the phenomenal world, even so, no lower degree can ever comprehend a higher." (110)

      "It is obvious that all created things are connected one to another by a linkage complete and perfect,..." (111)

      "...a universal power inevitably existeth, which encompasseth all, directing and regulating all the parts of this infinite creation;..." (112)

      "Furthermore, although all created things grow and develop, yet are they subjected to influences from without....And likewise, those outside influences are subjected to other influences in their turn....Thus each one of these entities exerteth its influence and is likewise influenced in its turn. Inescapably then, the process leadeth to One Who influenceth all, and yet is influenced by none, thus severing the chain." (113)

      "The existence of all things is based upon this principle [of composition and decomposition]. But when the order is deranged, decomposition is produced and disintegration setteth in,...the cohesive and attractive forces in all things lead to the appearance of fruitful results and effects, while estrangement and alienation of things lead to disturbance and annihilation." (114)

      "Every created thing in the contingent world is made up of many and varied atoms, and its existence is dependent on the composition of these." (115)

      "In other words, through the divine creative power a conjunction of simple elements taketh place so that from this composition a distinct organism is produced." (116)

      "According to an intrinsic law all phenomena of being attain to a summit and degree of consummation, after which a new order and condition is established." (117)

      "...these elements became composed, and organized and combined in infinite forms; or rather from the composition and combination of these elements innumerable beings appeared.

      "This composition and arrangement through the wisdom of God and His preexistent might, were produced from one natural organisation, which was composed and combined with the greatest strength, conformably to wisdom, and according to a universal law."(118)

      "In the same way the growth and development of all beings is gradual; this is the universal divine organization, and the natural system...."
      "...The organization of God is one: the evolution of existence is one: the divine system is one. Whether they be small or great beings, all are subject to one law and system."(119)

      "Know that nothing which exists remains in a state of repose, that is to say, all things are in motion. Everything is either growing or declining, all things are either coming from non-existence into being, or going from existence into non-existence...This state of motion is said to be essential - that is, natural, it cannot be separated from beings because it is their essential requirement,..." (120)

      "The reality of man is the collective reality, the general reality, and is the centre where the glory of all the perfections of God shine forth. That is to say, for each name, each attribute, each perfection which we affirm of God, there exists a sign in man; if it were otherwise, man could not imagine these perfections, and could not understand them."(121)

      Following is a summary of some key concepts in these references, which may help us to adopt an "organic orientation" toward the construction of the Administrative Order, as well as to provide a beginning basis for deriving the philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh:

- Bahá'u'lláh sets forth the fundamental principle of relativity, and indicates the necessity for considering the various entities of the contingent world in relation to each other, as well as in relation to their own station.

- Everything is subject to one organization, one universal law, which extends its influence through all levels and kingdoms of creation.

- Every created thing has distinct attributes and the capacity to influence other beings. Each created thing is also subject to particular limitations as a function of the kingdom it is within and its rank and station within that realm.

- Every thing manifests the sign of unity; while being completely and perfectly linked to everything else in a unified whole, it nevertheless is also autonomous in a certain respect.

- The nature of life is ever-changing motion, renewal and regeneration. There are no "things" - there are rather beings in the process of becoming something closer to fulfilling their potentiality within the limitations of their rank and station.

- Beings progress by the bounty of the universal influence of the Almighty. This progress is gradual and developmental, and consists of stages of stages, or orders of orders.

- Contingent beings all manifest the qualities of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics, and standards.

- There is a network of mutual interactions among beings, their manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and within this diversity "there are signs for men of discernment."

      While this cannot be regarded as anything but a halting beginning to what must needs be a long, arduous, and continuing task, we, nevertheless, can see in each of these passages glimmerings of some of the central principles that may be seen as broad outlines of the Administrative Order.

      From the fundamental principle that we should look to nature if we are to discover the diverse but integrated manifestations of the Will of God derives the essential character of the Administrative Order.


      An examination of the framework of day-to-day Bahá'í Administrative life shows how we might apply some of these systemic principles in an integrated manner. I have been slowly working my way through a comprehensive study of consultation for the past ten years, and since the law of consultation is the "bedrock of this unique order," perhaps this would serve as a good example.

      Bahá'u'lláh has not answered in advance every specific question that might be posed. He has, instead, given us a method and a means whereby we ourselves might be able to discern the truth of a matter. The means for each individual is the gift of understanding through the power of the soul; and the method for our collective institutions is consultation, the object of which, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, is "the investigation of truth." (122) But the concept of truth is a philosophical consideration. For members of spiritual assemblies to come to agreement upon what represents the truth they must all be proceeding from the same general conception of reality. The Order of Bahá'u'lláh is our all-embracing reality. The particular philosophy given to us by Bahá'u'lláh is that set of universally operative, generalized principles that describe the systemic nature of that Order. As more and more members of spiritual assemblies come to comprehend this philosophy, our assemblies will function with greatly increased efficiency and effectiveness.

      Let's now look at consultation in the same terms in which we broke down the principles of the Administrative Order: unity, dynamism, and system.


      How many manifestations of "the sign of His Unity" can we find in a consultative body such as a Local Spiritual Assembly? They are so numerous that they could hardly be counted, but we can list the more obvious ones readily:

      - The Assembly;
      - individuals;
      - individuals' souls;
      - their intellects;
      - their knowledge;
      - perceptual systems;
      - the community they represent;
      - the particular language used in the meeting;
      - the particular language each person feels most comfortable with;
      - the current global plan;
      - the Divine Plan;
      - the laws of the Faith;
      - the principles of the Faith;
      - the situation confronting the Assembly;
      - and the process of consultation itself.

      All of these manifest the sign of unity; they all exhibit an organizational closure - they are all autonomous entities in certain respects. A great many others could be listed, but the idea that each of these "entities" has a "rank and station," that each is subject to "certain limitations," that they must each be considered "in their relation one to another" as well as in relation to "the station it hath been ordained to occupy," that each is a process itself involved in the act of becoming and doing so gradually and progressively, suggests the complex of things that must be considered by each individual on a consultative body.


      Looking at each of these entities, let's now see where the dynamic qualities are manifested:

      Each individual is in the process of spiritualizing his own self; the Assembly becomes more spiritualized as each individual makes progress; the unity manifested by the Assembly members dynamically affects the other members of the community; the Language of Consultation becomes increasingly centered around the Words of Bahá'u'lláh; the current global plan is moved farther along, as is the Divine Plan, through the dynamic action of the individuals, the Assembly, and the community; the process of consultation flows such that every member is aware of the dynamic unity that has been created by their increasing love for each other and their increasing love for Bahá'u'lláh and for the Faith; the laws are applied with justice and equality; the highest principles of the Faith are translated into Assembly decisions and community action; the Assembly understands that consultation is not a step-wise method, but rather a dynamic process dependent on many factors; the Assembly stays dynamically engaged with each issue until it achieves unanimity; each individual listens actively without looking for the opening to jump in; the Assembly feels the dynamic link with 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the Supreme Concourse.


      Manifesting the "sign of His Unity" and being involved in a dynamic, ever-changing process are two systemic attributes which have been considered above. What are some of the other implications of being systemic?

      Individual Assembly members knows that the Assembly's efficacy depends upon their reciprocal interaction with the Word of God, their translation of "that which hath been written into reality and action" (123), and their being focused on the purpose of God for humanity in this day; each knows that the Assembly's scientific quality depends on how he or she relates to the system, or order, of laws and principles underlying reality; each is involved in a systematic process of educating his or her own self: of stripping away veils and allusions, of intellectually comprehending the systemic order, and of intellectually adjusting physical perception so that it corresponds more closely to reality; each understands the Administrative Order as an order, where principles interact with each other in a dynamic relative balance focused on the unity of humankind, and not as a mere listing of "do's and don'ts" to be obeyed; each understands that the vitality of the organ depends on the reactive, pruning effect of enforcing the laws, as well as on the proactive application of principles which beckon the individual and the community to a higher state of being; each Assembly understands the nature of policy and principles and offers a coherent system of guidelines to its subsystems, (e.g., committees and individuals) when it asks them to assume responsibility within a certain arena; each individual realizes that the goals of plans are a continuous, ongoing series of benchmarks in the gradual process of becoming for the community, and not some ultimate state where we can say, "We have arrived."

      At all levels of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh we are guided and governed by a single set of interrelated principles - a philosophy, the basic nature and character of which is known only in its broad outlines. It is one, which is of a qualitatively different nature than the order that permeated and governed the world of humanity in the past but whose pattern lingers on in our habits, thoughts, and conceptions of reality. The philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh is potent, sound and universal; it informs the reality of every complexity, yet its principles revolve around a single point.


      To get our assemblies and communities to manifest the ideal condition set forward in the writings of the Faith, we must first, as individuals, manifest these ideals in our own thoughts, actions, and habits. Without this sort of individual endeavor the collective institutions are paralyzed. (124) This section is concerned with the difficulty of gaining, on an individual level, the knowledge of just what that ideal balance is.

      Before proceeding, however, we must again call to mind the fact that it is a new Order we are trying to perceive, and that it is Bahá'u'lláh's new standard. This standard is not an abstract ideal, it's already an implicate (lit. folded up within), prepotent reality. We are the ones who are going to have to make the shift from our old frames of reference into the framework of his new System.

      But even an intellectual comprehension of this fact is not enough to provide the foundation we need - we need a more enhanced context that provides a specific and particular order. There are systemic reasons why it's difficult for me to understand, let alone be able to convey to you, what I feel must be understood in order for this matter to seem either believable or significant. What is required here is a change in order comparable to the shift in hierarchical distinction from the essential nature of the animal kingdom to that of the human kingdom, or from that of the human kingdom to the spirit of faith.

      The systemic structure of order and the difficulty of effecting a change of order has been the primary subjects of a number of scientific and philosophic works of late. (125) Let me attempt to set the context from the writings of the Bab and Bahá'u'lláh.

      The Bab has alluded to the blindness from which we all suffer that makes the problem so difficult to perceive:

      "O Sun-like Mirrors! Look ye upon the Sun of Truth. Ye, verily, depend upon it, were ye to perceive it. Ye are all as fishes, moving in the waters of the sea, veiling yourselves therefrom, and yet asking what it is on which ye depend....I complain unto thee, O Mirror of My generosity, against all the other Mirrors. All look upon Me through their own colors." (126)

      As the fish are to the sea, so we are to the Order of Bahá'u'lláh. We use the capacities bestowed by that Order to come to know about various other aspects of the Order - without having to understand and comprehend the full nature of the Order itself. The Order both empowers and limits us - it colors our vision so as to make us able to see, but we are not necessarily conscious of the limitations placed on us by virtue of this coloring.

      Bahá'u'lláh describes the veils and limitations in a similar fashion in the Fourth Valley of The Seven Valleys when He cautions the wayfarer that the lamp will color the light, but the light itself is unaffected, and that our true goal is to "see nothing but the sun itself." (127) In fact, the whole of The Seven Valleys could be seen as an essay on the progressive unfoldment and discovery of the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.

      Bahá'u'lláh has presented the essential structure of the problem we face in his Most Holy Book, The Kitab-i-Aqdas:

      "Say: O leaders of religion! Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring balance established amongst men. In this most perfect balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it." (128)

      Using the Book as the standard, we are to weigh all things. But we must even weigh the Book with its own self! How can you take a scale and weigh it with itself? Where do we mark the reference points? What is the context we can use in order to find the reference points that inhere within the System?

      Bahá'u'lláh has placed us into a paradoxical situation where it seems that we have no context or standard for making any kind of judgement, and then told us that if we are to weigh the Book we must use its own standard.

      He has asked us to manifest a similar condition in The Kitab-i-Iqan if we are to be true seekers. He says that after determining "to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days,...[the true seeker] must so cleanse his heart that no remnant of either love or hate may linger therein, lest that love blindly incline him to error, or that hate repel him away from the truth." (129)

      What we are doing is trying to jump into the framework of a new Order from within the structure of the present order that limit us. We live in a world of relativities. Our minds establish a relationship with what is set before them. But what has been set before our minds in the past provides the context for, and colors the perception of, possible relationships with anything new.

      What is the context for the human realm? There are several contextual systems within which every human being is raised, such as language, culture, and perceptual systems. Each of these is a system itself with its own necessary limits and powers. By and large we are unconscious of the limits they impose upon us. Let's take a broad look at the structure of some of these systems.


      Bahá'u'lláh says the "power of vision [is] the chief instrument whereby [human] understanding can function." (130). The process of image formation is unconscious - we have no control over what the eye sees on the immediate level. (131) We can, through long and intense training, teach the eye to see differently, but most of us have never experienced this. The processes of vision are structured, and they are largely structured in relation to our hands. (Try performing some manipulative exercise with your hand by watching your hand in a mirror - not seeing it directly - to see how unconscious you are of that relationship!) Whatever we see is not the essential reality, but rather a representation of some of its qualities; it is a coded representation in our brain of the light reflected from a physical entity. The light, which is reflected, is also structured, our receptors are structured, and our brain selects from that image "facts" which have survival value for us. In other words, we see what we select; and we select from structured representations rather than from the "essence." We must, therefore, learn to select that which has the closest correspondence to reality. (Curiously enough the fundamental basis for all the perceptual systems is the awareness of "difference," or "distinction," which, according to Bahá'u'lláh, is one of the most fundamental characteristics of the contingent world.)


      Anyone who knows two or more languages knows that translation is not one-for-one; different languages structure different realities for us. The subject / predicate structure of the English language - which provides us with the context of "things-performing-action," rather than as dynamic systems interacting with other dynamic systems - will, of necessity, exclude a lot of process-thinking which will be required for comprehending an organic order.


      Cultural blinds are the most pervasive limitations in the human environment. Language, tradition, expectation, inconsistency in unconsciously held values, superstition - all of these structures are imbibed unconsciously from the culture within which we are raised. We are blind to their limits as a fish is blind to the water that sustains its life.

      Professionally, career education is largely a process of being trained to see certain things in a certain way, and to think about them within a particular context, almost to the exclusion of alternative perspectives.

      These systemic limitations are not necessarily either internally consistent, or mutually consistent with each other; nor are we necessarily conscious of the particular and inherent limits of any of these systems. On the contrary, it is a known fact in the social and psychological sciences that we are definitely unconscious of the fact that we are limited in most of these areas.

      We know that Bahá'u'lláh has instilled a new Order into the System, that this Order lies at the base of all creation, and that the philosophy of this Order is potent, sound and universal. It is necessary for us, in all aspects of our lives as Bahá'ís, to reflect the internal consistency of this Order if we hope to understand ourselves or others, if we hope to comprehend the true nature of the Administrative Order, and if we hope to attract a bewildered, confused world which has lost its sense of direction.

      The reality of the nature of the Bahá'í Faith as a new Order was beautifully explained by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States several years ago:

" a general policy subject to the Guardian's specific direction in special cases, Bahá'ís and their administrative institutions should not feel obligated to adopt a "Bahá'í" attitude or course of action on matters of civil legislation. Our teachings and basic principles speak for themselves. These we can always declare and set forth with all possible energy whenever occasions arise. But a truth which is sundered from its sustaining spiritual Source, lifted out of its organic relationship to the Bahá'í community, broken off from the other truths, and made subject to the storm and stress of secular controversy, is no longer a truth with which we can usefully have concern. It has become an enactment to be carried out by institutions and groups committed to other enactments, other aims and purposes and methods not in conformity with the "Divine Polity" entrusted to those alone who give full loyalty to Bahá'u'lláh. Far better for us to strive to mirror forth radiantly the individual and community virtues of a new era than to hope others than believers will achieve the holy mission of the Faith. We Bahá'ís have in reality accepted a world order and not merely a new decalogue of truths or commands.'" (132)

      At this point we could call to mind the quotations of The Kitab-i-Aqdas that opened this essay. It is necessary that we discover this new Balance and equilibrium permeating all creation. With all of the inherent limitations of our senses, language, culture, and philosophy we have such great obstacles as to seem almost insurmountable. But in The Kitab-i-Aqdas, and even in the same passage where Bahá'u'lláh refers to the new System and equilibrium, He gives us the method by which we can resolve this dilemma. He says:

      "Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths." (133)

      If we are to attempt to understand and comprehend his System, when we have no encompassing framework with which to surround that System, the only alternative is that we become totally immersed in the ocean of his Word and grope for the significances. Our souls have within them the matrix of this Order and the counterpart for all things in the created world. (134) If we become sensitive to the pulsings of our souls as they are stimulated by the Word of God and by reflection upon the manifestations of the world of nature and the principles of the Administrative Order, we will increasingly recognize that a resonance is being established, bringing us ever closer to comprehension of the pattern and standard of the System of Bahá'u'lláh. A thorough and comprehensive study of the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh is our only hope. But we may rest assured that when we discover the "secrets" and the "pearls of wisdom" of this new System there is nothing that will not fall into place.


      Let us pause and reflect for a moment - there is one universal law which pervades all things. All things are a particular manifestation or expression of that law. All things are united, yet there is a diversity of expressions that, on a certain level, seems to us to be infinite. What are the common elemental processes or expressions of that law that we all share? How am I partaking of this process in the same way as the starfish, the giant sequoia, the Eskimos of the Arctic, or the Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh? What is the pattern which connects you to each of these things, and them to each other, and all of us to the roof over our heads?

      Shoghi Effendi has provided an incredible contribution to the future reorganization of the world in deducing from the philosophical principles of Bahá'u'lláh the manner in which they could be comprehensively applied in a particular application - namely, the construction of the Administrative Order of the Bahá'í Faith, the nucleus of the organic unity of the entire planet.

      Through studying the systemic structure and dynamic qualities of the organic principles of the Administrative Order as they have been deduced from the universal philosophy of Bahá'u'lláh, one can gain knowledge of the basic systemic structure, function, and relationships underlying every other aspect of creation. By discovering knowledge of these universal processes the underlying foundation of any particular process - be it psychological, sociological, biological, spiritual, educational, or scientific - will be laid bare before the mind.

      In following the path indicated by Bahá'u'lláh for searching out the fundamentals of true philosophy, in systematizing the principles elaborated by Shoghi Effendi for the Administrative Order, and in studying the extant scientific and philosophical literature in light of these writings, Bahá'í scholars will find themselves well down the road towards integrating and unifying their philosophical approach to all aspects of life on this planet. From the education of children through the reorganization of the curriculum that 'Abdu'l-Bahá calls for in The Secret of Divine Civilization, (135) to an understanding of the nature of spiritual growth and development; and from an understanding of the fundamental and necessary relationships that bind society on all different levels, to the application of appropriate methods of science by the institutions of the Faith, the Bahá'í approach will be integrated.

      If the work is done as a community, first in discovering and systematizing the most essential principles of this philosophy, and then in systematically translating them into reality and action, the Bahá'í community will realize tremendous benefits from the application of these principles at all levels of the System. Our educational systems will be unified, organized, and coordinated around this single set of principles which must, of necessity, permeate and underlie the reality of all things; the explanation and teaching of the fundamental philosophy of the Administrative Order can be organized around the model of a dynamic, unified system - the human body - which is capable of being understood at many different levels, from the very simple, to the highly complex. This model, which has an inherent integrity, can serve as the central metaphor for a curriculum which is adaptable to the educational level, rank, and station of the people or institutions being taught. And an understanding of the principles of the philosophy which are expressed within one institution or entity at one level, and in one instance, will be directly transferable to the understanding of the principles for another institution, science, culture, or individual, inasmuch as our understanding of all of these entities will be principled in conformity with the same universal philosophy.

      All the Bahá'ís are so very busy doing the day-to-day work of building the structure of the organic order - putting a nail in here and there, mixing a bit of concrete, reinforcing a joint - that we often don't take the time to back away from the work and contemplate the blueprint as a whole. I suggest that this necessary and broad perspective will strengthen our vision and enhance the efficacy of the work being done as we take a step back and "meditate upon the supreme grandeur of the System unfolded by the hand of Bahá'u'lláh in this day." (136)

3. Appendices

  1. Some appendices are included in the audio recording of this paper (Part 3), but are not available in the following text. If you can volunteer to scan or type this content, please contact us. [-J.W., 2012]
  2. Appendix #1: Principles of education, taken from the work of Daniel C. Jordan and the philosophy of the Anisa Model of Education, based on the work of Alfred North Whitehead. See audio, part 3.

4. References

Note: Some references are included in the audio recording of this paper (Parts 4-5), but are not available in the following typed text. If you can volunteer to scan or type this content, please contact us. [-J.W., 2012]
  1. Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, tr. Shoghi Effendi, 1st ed. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Center, 1973), pp. 27-8.
  2. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, tr. Shoghi Effendi, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1952), pg. 7.
  3. Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, tr. Shoghi Effendi (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1938), pp. 295-6.
  1. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, tr. Laura Clifford Barney (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1964), pg. 257.
  2. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pp. 29.
  3. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, ed. D. Griffin and D. Sherburne, corrected ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1978), pg. 3.
  4. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1955).
  5. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1955), pg. 19.
  6. Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1981), pg. 445. Scholars without this volume may be interested in other portions of this letter: "Philosophy, as you will study it and later teach it, is certainly not one of the sciences that begins and ends in words. Fruitless excursions into metaphysical hair-splitting is meant, not a sound branch of learning like philosophy....As regards your own studies: he would advise you not to devote too much of your time to the abstract side of philosophy, but rather to approach it from a more historical angle. As to correlating philosophy with the Bahá'í teachings; this is a tremendous work which scholars in the future can undertake. We must remember that not only are all the teachings not yet translated into English, but they are not even all collected yet. Many important Tablets may still come to light which are at present owned privately."
  7. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 65.
  8. ibid.
  9. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1970), pp. 25-6.
  10. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1944).
  11. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 144.
  12. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 52.
  13. ibid., pg. 89.
  14. ibid., pg. 98.
  15. Shoghi Effendi, Bahá'í Youth: A Compilation, comp. by NSA of the U.S., (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1973), pg. 10.
  16. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 19.
  17. From a letter from the Universal House of Justice dated August 11, 1970 to all National Spiritual Assemblies.
  18. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 100.
  19. Shoghi Effendi, The Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, comp. by the Universal House of Justice (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1983), pg. 37.
  20. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 35.
  21. ibid., pg. 152.
  22. From a letter from the Universal House of Justice dated October 20, 1983 "To the Bahá'ís of the World."
  23. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, Rev. ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1975), pg. 1.
  24. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 19.
  25. Shoghi Effendi, Importance of Deepening our Knowledge and Understanding of the Faith, pg. 20.
  26. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pg. 180.
  27. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude, tr. Shoghi Effendi, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1950), pg. 178.
  28. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 43.
  29. ibid., pg. 6.
  30. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í World Faith (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1956), pg. 406.
  31. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 188.
  32. J. Bronowski, A Sense of the Future, ed. P. Ariotti and R. Bronowski, 1st ed. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1977), pp. 39-41.
  33. This link, this relationship, and continual dance between science and philosophy - i.e., that the philosophy of today becomes the manifestations of scientific reality tomorrow, is the subject of a book which I would commend to your attention. The book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas S. Kuhn, is an essay on the systemic pattern of the changes involved in a change of paradigms, or worldviews, for a scientific discipline. The structure of these scientific revolutions are, on a smaller order, similar to the changes necessary for us to make an increasingly complete shift into the Order of Bahá'u'lláh.
  34. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, comp. by Howard MacNutt, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1982), pg. 29.
  35. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'í References on Education: Teachers Handbook, Vol. 1, comp. by Advisory Committee on Education, (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1966), pp. 97-8.
  36. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 147.
  37. Since the initial presentation of this paper in November 1984, the author has had the opportunity to study the new book by Eunice Braun, The March of the Institutions: A Commentary on the Interdependence of Rulers and Learned, (Oxford: George Ronald, 1984). This book focuses upon the complementary relationship between the two chief pillars of the Administrative Order. It is a direct response to the work that Shoghi Effendi has left to us as the "future generations," and is highly recommended to members of all Bahá'í institutions. (See The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 147.)
  38. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 23.
  39. ibid., pg. 89.
  40. ibid., pg. 52.
  41. ibid., pg. 163.
  42. ibid., pg. 7.
  43. Shoghi Effendi, comp., Principles of Bahá'í Administration, 3rd ed. (London: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1950).
  44. ibid., pp. 1-2.
  45. ibid., pp. 1-2.
  46. Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian (New Delhi: Bahá'í Publishing Trust), pg. 48.
  47. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pp. 212-13.
  48. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 36.
  49. Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pg. 2.
  50. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 163.
  51. ibid., pg. 18.
  52. ibid., pg. 6.
  53. ibid., pg. 148.
  54. ibid., pg. 23.
  55. ibid., pg. 7.
  56. ibid., pg. 147.
  57. Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pg. 1.
  58. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 6.
  59. Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pg. 2.
  60. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 11.
  61. ibid., pg. 200.
  62. ibid., pg. 19.
  63. ibid., pg. 24.
  64. ibid., pg. 4.
  65. ibid., pg. 198.
  66. ibid., pp. 23.
  67. ibid., pg. 22-3.
  68. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, quoted in Shoghi Effendi, The World Order, pg. 23.
  69. ibid., pg. 195.
  70. ibid., pp. 163-4.
  71. ibid., pg. 42.
  72. ibid., pg. 155.
  73. Shoghi Effendi, Principles of Bahá'í Administration, pg. 2.
  74. Letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, The National Spiritual Assembly, comp. by the Universal House of Justice (Wilmette, Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1972), pg. 18.
  75. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pg. 25-26.
  76. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 65.
  77. ibid., pg. 201.
  78. ibid., pg. 18.
  79. ibid., pg. 89.
  80. ibid., pg. 61.
  81. ibid., pg. 19.
  82. ibid., pg. 58.
  83. ibid., pg. 43.
  84. ibid., pp. 195-6.
  85. ibid., pg. 196.
  86. ibid., pg. 9.
  87. ibid., pg. 21.
  88. ibid., pg. 42.
  89. ibid., pg. 42.
  90. ibid., pg. 42.
  91. ibid., pg. 43.
  92. Shoghi Effendi, Selected Writings of Shoghi Effendi, pg. 1.
  93. Shoghi Effendi, Consultation: A Compilation, comp. Research Department of the Bahá'í World Centre, (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1980), pg. 15.
  94. On page 147 of The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, Shoghi Effendi refers to several other institutions or aspects of the Administrative Order that have been clearly or implicitly set forth in the writings of Bahá'u'lláh or 'Abdu'l-Bahá, most of which have not even received mention in this work. These, and others, include the institutions of the Hands of the Cause of God; the local, national, and international Funds, the Huququ'llah, the district, national and international conventions; the Mashriqu'l Adhkar and its dependencies; and the very important aspects of authority and interpretation. It's obvious that there is a great deal of work and analysis yet to do.
  95. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 155.
  96. Shoghi Effendi, God Passes By, pg. 219.
  97. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas, tr. Habib Taherzadeh, 1st ed. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Center, 1978), pg. 150.
  98. ibid., pp. 141-2.
  99. ibid., pg. 142.
  100. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 190.
  101. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 142.
  102. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 188.
  103. ibid., pg. 188.
  104. Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 141.
  105. ibid., pg. 143-4.
  106. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 151.
  107. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude, pg. 178.
  108. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 79.
  109. ibid., pp. 343.
  110. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, 1st ed. (Haifa: Bahá'í World Center, 1978), pg. 47.
  111. ibid., pg. 48.
  112. ibid., pg. 48.
  113. ibid., pg. 49.
  114. ibid., pp. 289-90.
  115. ibid., pg. 289.
  116. ibid., pg. 289.
  117. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 124.
  118. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, pg. 210.
  119. ibid., pg. 231.
  120. ibid., pg. 270.
  121. ibid., pg. 228.
  122. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pg. 72.
  123. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 250.
  124. Shoghi Effendi, Citadel of Faith, pg. 148.
  125. Most notable for my studies has been the work of Gregory Bateson, natural history epistemologist, cyberneticist, anthropologist, and zoologist. His popular works, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, and Steps to an Ecology of Mind contain the most comprehensive and practically oriented essays on the necessary limits of our perception and conception of the natural order. Francisco Varela's work, Principles of Biological Autonomy is leading theoretical biologists in fundamentally new and more comprehensively explanatory directions through a focus on two principles that Bahá'u'lláh indicates are most basic to the contingent world - unity and distinction (or differentiation, or diversity, if you will). Varela employs a new and elegant calculus of distinction developed by G. Spencer Brown and elaborated in his book, The Laws of Form.. Other scientists whose works have been primarily concerned with the reorientation of our perception and conception of the new reality are: David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order; Ilya Prigogine, Order Out of Chaos; Douglas Hofstadter, Godel, Escher, Bach; Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality; Magorah Maruyama and his writings on paradigmatology in Cybernetica; Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and The Essential Tension; Norbert Wiener, The Human Use of Human Beings; and Warren McCulloch, Embodiments of Mind.. Stewart Brand, in his quarterly publication, The Whole Earth Review, stays current with all of these people and their ideas. I must also acknowledge the work of Chinese philosophy from which I first received intimations of the fact that nature manifested one, internally consistent organization. That book is The I Ching or Book of Changes, translated by Richard Wilhelm and Cary F. Baynes.
  126. The Bab, quoted in Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, tr. Shoghi Effendi (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1953), pg. 160.
  127. Bahá'u'lláh, The Seven Valleys and the Four Valleys, tr. Ali-Kuli Khan (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1952), pg. 21.
  128. Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pg. 22.
  129. Bahá'u'lláh, The Kitab-i-Iqan: The Book of Certitude, pg. 192.
  130. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 154.
  131. Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity, 1st ed. (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1979), pp. 32-8.
  132. National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, The Bahá'í World, Vol. 14 (Haifa: The Universal House of Justice, 1974), pg. 537.
  133. Bahá'u'lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Laws and Ordinances of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, pp. 27.
  134. Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh: Adrianople 1863-68, (Oxford: George Ronald, 1977) pg. 254.
  135. 'Abdu'l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, pg. 105.
  136. Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, pg. 61.

      I would like to acknowledge the tremendous aid and assistance of the following two reference works: Concordance to Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh.. Compiled by Lee Nelson and Miriam G. Towfiq. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 1983. Concordance to The Kitab-i-Iqan.. Compiled by Lee Nelson and Miriam G. Nelson. Los Angeles: Kalimat, 1984. These concordances, which were generated with the aid of a computer, contain a listing of every occurrence of every word in these books and indicate the context of their use.
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