Personal transformation through teaching in the Tablets of the Divine Plan

By Iscander Micael Tinto

Presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #138
Centre for Baha'i Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 5–8, 2016
(see list of papers from #138)

    When it comes to tools for personal transformation we are used to consider traditional, self-directed methods such as praying, studying the Sacred Word, and deepening our understanding of it. In the Bahá'í­ Faith, an important additional element, one that is instead completely directed toward those who have not joined the ranks of the Community, is the act of teaching the Faith. By analyzing the references found in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablets of the Divine Plan, we will highlight and review the characteristics required of the teacher, and how these are born and developed through one's personal commitment to becoming a pure channel through which the Will of God is expressed.

    The purpose of this paper is to explore specific aspects of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's exhortations regarding the character of the teacher: detachment, steadfastness in the Covenant, self-sacrifice, purity of motive, courage and conviction, loving- kindness, humility and wisdom, as well as unity and friendship among the friends.

    In the course of this exploration, we will consider the two images, often expressed in this collection of tablets, of the farmer and the gardener and their implications, and the connection to the Celestial concourse and the blessings pouring from Heaven on every detached soul who embarks in the enterprise of spreading the message of Bahá'u'lláh.

    Finally, we will relate all these concepts to the apparently contradictory exhortation to actively serve the Faith and embark in teaching work without undue concern for our limitations, and to the intertwined processes and duties of personal transformation and teaching the Faith.

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