The Pupil of the Eye: Discussions and Resources

In The Advent of Divine Justice, Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, recounts:

“Bahá’u’lláh hath said,” writes ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “that the various races of humankind lend a composite harmony and beauty of color to the whole. Let all associate, therefore, in this great human garden even as flowers grow and blend together side by side without discord or disagreement between them.” “Bahá’u’lláh,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá moreover has said, “once compared the colored1 people to the black pupil of the eye surrounded by the white. In this black pupil is seen the reflection of that which is before it, and through it the light of the spirit shineth forth.”

Below is a collection of links to resources that dive deeply into the meaning of “the pupil of the eye” — a metaphor that Derik Smith says “adamantly centers black life in the figurative body of humanity”.2

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Responding to COVID-19: Bahá’ís around the world take action

The following content is from news.bahai.org. © 2020 Bahá’í International Community (Artwork by an artist in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan)

Bahá’í communities around the world have been responding to the global health crisis. Below are examples of how Bahá’ís are taking action:

 

Looking beyond the health crisis in the Kurdistan region of Iraq

ERBIL, Iraq    |    May 3, 2020
Social actors examine how the expression of spiritual principles bringing people together now can be sustained and strengthened well into the future.


Community banks in Nicaragua take early precautions

MANAGUA, Nicaragua    |    May 1, 2020
Baha’i-inspired program draws on experience and sound principles in response to global health crisis.


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Focus Areas of the Baha’i International Community

The following article is from bic.org. © 2020 Bahá’í International Community


The overarching objective of the Baha’i International Community is to contribute to the construction of a more peaceful and just global order.

We believe that the foundation for such an order is the principle of the oneness of humankind—a principle expressed in the interdependence of the members of the human family. This interdependence, the spirit of which gave rise to the creation of the United Nations, is now struggling to find expression in all arenas of human endeavor—social, intellectual, artistic, and moral, to name but a few.

At this time our work revolves around six themes: the equality of women and men, human rights and well-being of humankind, development and community building, youth as protagonists of constructive change, the role of religion in society, and the situation of the Baha’is in Iran. Below are six areas that constitute the focus of our work at this time. We see each of them as intimately connected to one another—progress in one supports progress in the others. And together, they advance the overarching goal of peace.

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Living the Principle of Oneness

The following article is from bahai.org.


Today, the human race is passing through a period of turbulent adolescence, moving towards the next stage in its life—a stage of maturity characterized by the emergence of a united, global civilization. Our well-being, our peace and security are all dependent upon the firm establishment of unity.

To create this new world, many patterns of behaviour that characterized earlier phases of our existence must be put aside. “We must strive unceasingly and without rest to accomplish the development of the spiritual nature in man,” wrote ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “and endeavor with tireless energy to advance humanity toward the nobility of its true and intended station.”1

[W]e must all strive with heart and soul until we have the reality of unity in our midst.”2

The fundamental principle of the oneness of humankind requires a profound development in our thinking: “If you desire with all your heart, friendship with every race on earth, your thought, spiritual and positive, will spread; it will become the desire of others, growing stronger and stronger, until it reaches the minds of all men.”3

Noble thoughts in themselves, however, are not enough. They must be translated into action. The truth that humanity is one must today be constantly asserted and taught to all.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for January 2020

January 8, 2020

At our January meeting, members decided to continue our discussion of Reading Lolita in Tehran before moving on to any other topic. The discussion centered on current events as illustrative of what was experienced by the common people in the book, and similarities and differences in those experiences in Iran and in the United States. There was also a general discussion of the trauma experienced by those subject to war and upheaval.

Members then decided to offer the Prayer for America, and some devotions for peace.

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2019 in review – A year of historic developments

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service. Photo copyright © Bahá’í World News Service


December 31, 2019

The Baha’i World News Service, reflecting on 2019, provides a brief overview of stories in the past year about developments in the global Baha’i community and a glimpse of the extraordinary worldwide celebrations that took place in honor of the second historic bicentenary.

200th anniversary of the birth of the Bab

October 2019 marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Báb, as the forerunner and herald of the Baha’i Faith, whose dramatic ministry paved the way for the appearance of Baha’u’llah. The bicentenary was celebrated worldwide at every level, from the grassroots to the international.

In villages and neighborhoods across the globe, bicentenary preparations began months in advance, prompting an unprecedented intensification of community building activities and an outpouring of artistic works to mark the occasion, reflect on its significance, and recall the momentous life of the Bab. In the lead-up to the anniversary, the News Service reported on these preparations and celebrations in each continent: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australasia, and Europe. Based on what had been learned in 2017, the celebrations were much more broadly based on this occasion at the grassroots of society.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for December 2019

December 18, 2019

We were lucky enough last month to have two new attendees with personal knowledge of Iran, so we spent the majority of our discussion on background and the portrayal of Iran in the book Reading Lolita in Tehran. There were many issues raised and the information gave a more in-depth context to what was presented in the book.

The discussion was mostly about Tehran, because that was the focus of the book. It was wide-ranging and informative. It also included the role of women in Iranian society and the qualities of a teacher, as portrayed in the book and in general, since there are several educators in the book club.

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National bicentenary gatherings shine light on social themes

The following article is from The Bahá’í World News Service. Photo above: The celebration held in New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings included a presentation about this artistic Tapa cloth made in honor of the bicentenary that depicts the Shrine of the Bab amid 19 terraces on Mount Carmel. Photo copyright © Bahá’í World News Service


November 29, 2019 from WELLINGTON, New Zealand — Recent bicentenary commemorations for societal leaders were celebratory occasions as well as moments of reflection on the challenges of our time.

In some communities, leaders were moved to express their appreciation of the Baha’i community’s contributions to society during this special period. For example in Wellington, New Zealand, Member of Parliament Priyanca Radhakrishnan hosted a bicentenary celebration in the country’s Parliament Buildings. “I can see that the work that you do in Aotearoa is rooted in the values and beliefs of the Faith,” MP Radhakrishnan said, “for example inculcating values of love, unity, and kindness amongst children, encouraging young people to be constructive agents of change, and contributing to discussions across New Zealand on some of the challenges that face us as a nation.”

A conference organized last month in Kyiv, Ukraine, brought together religious scholars, representatives of different Faith communities, students, and others to explore how the common underlying values of religion can contribute to societal progress.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for November 2019

November 13, 2019

Book club for November was a small group due to weather. All members present read the same book: The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers. This nonfiction book follows Mokhtar Alkahanshali, the founder of the Port of Mokha coffee company. In addition to the story of the founder and the coffee company, the book introduces the reader to the history of coffee in Yemen, basic information on coffee processing and quality control, and the role of coffee in society.

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Development of the Bahá’í Community Since 1963

The following article is from bahai.org.Photo of Delegates to the first International Bahá’í Convention in Haifa, in front of the International Archives Building, May 1963 © 2019 Bahá’í International Community


In April 1963, the centenary of Bahá’u’lláh’s public declaration was marked by two auspicious events: the first election of the Universal House of Justice—the highest institution of Bahá’u’lláh’s Administrative Order; and, a few days afterward, the holding of the first Bahá’í World Congress in London, at which its 7,000 participants demonstrated by their very presence just how dramatically the Bahá’í world community had grown during the preceding decade.

The community that the Universal House of Justice inherited had expanded rapidly as a result of Shoghi Effendi’s first global plan for the growth and consolidation of the Bahá’í Faith. Bahá’ís now resided in more than 14,000 localities in some 259 sovereign states, dependencies and major islands. Some 56 countries had National Spiritual Assemblies. Though still relatively small, the Bahá’í Faith was assuming the characteristics of a world religion. The cultural adaptability of the Faith and its potential to attract a wide diversity of peoples were increasingly visible; its collective life was also beginning to manifest some of the society-building potentialities enshrined in Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation.

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