By John Taylor; 2008 Sep 25, 17 Izzat, 165 BE
Let us continue with our quotes from the Writings on China, mixed with my own comments. First, here is an interesting incident Ahmad Sohrab reports taking place on Jan 5, 1913, while the Master was in London, just before He left for Scotland,
"After a few more people coming and receiving divine Blessings, an English minister who has been in China for 40 yrs is ushered into the Presence of Our Beloved. He is interested in the education and uplift of the Chinese women. He has done everything possible to help them. He has heard that the Baha'is are doing a wonderful educational
From the Baha'i point of view, China is truly the place to watch; as the guy in Futurama dramatically announces, "Welcome to the land of the future." China was part of the birth of planning in the Faith, when it was mentioned a couple of years after the above incident in the foundational document of all Baha'i teaching plans, the Tablets of the Divine Plan,
"How good would it be were there any possibility of a commission composed of men and women, to travel together through China and Japan -- so that this bond of love may become strengthened, and through this going and coming they may establish the oneness of the world of humanity, summon the people to the Kingdom of God and spread the teachings." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 42)
Back in the 1980's I knew a physics student at McMaster from Hong Kong, who was an enthusiastic Baha'i and active member of the Baha'i Club on campus. I remember being with him while he was teaching the Faith to some other Chinese students; there was some confusion about the name of the Faith. Apparently instead of "Baha'i", at the time in pamphlets they were calling the Faith in the Chinese language something about "Unity Group." As far as I can guess, again gleaned from old Star of the West volumes, this word for Baha'i was probably "ta-tung," which means "great unity" in Chinese. This term is borrowed from the Chinese classical work, Li chi, or the Book of Rites. Because of its historical resonance, they probably chose that over the foreign sounding word "Baha'i." More recently I asked one of my Chinese pilot friends to translate the title of the current standard Baha'i pamphlet, and he sounded it out for me, "Baha'i." So now they are definitely calling "Baha'i" Baha'i.
Once the Revolution hit China, the Baha'is had to move very carefully in China. When the barrier of Communism was still in full force, the House of Justice wrote:
"The population of Asia and Australasia is well over half the world population. The area includes Asiatic USSR and mainland China, accounting for more than one thousand million souls who are, for the most part, untouched by the Revelation of Baha'u'llah. Obviously present conditions in these areas call for the exercise of the utmost wisdom and circumspection. Yet this vast segment of humanity cannot be ignored." (The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, 341.5, p. 564)
In 1971 the House wrote the following in a message to the Oceanic Conference of the South China Seas in Singapore
"South East Asia, whose gifted and industrious peoples have embraced four of the world's major religions, have produced in all ages civilizations and cultures representative of the highest accomplishments of the human race, now experiencing with the rest of the world the disruptive, revolutionizing, `vibrating influence of this Most Great, this New World Order, the like of which mortal eyes have never witnessed,' lies open and receptive to the Word of God, ready once more to nourish in its fertile soil that potent seed and to bring forth, in its own characteristic manner and as an integral part of the world civilization, the institutions, the fabric, the brilliant edifice of Baha'u'llah's World Order." (The Universal House of Justice, Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1968-1973, p. 63)
As soon as Communism began to fall, in 1989, the House made public a goal that they had kept under wraps for decades,
"As Baha'is, we have been entrusted with the responsibility of taking the message of Baha'u'llah to all of mankind, but only a comparatively small beginning has yet been made to take the teachings to the vast population of China. The Universal House of Justice feels that this task must be regarded as one of the highest priorities for the entire Baha'i world." (April 19, 1989, written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, Universal House of Justice, A Wider Horizon, Selected Letters 1983-1992, p. 208-209)
Abdu'l-Baha made several very similar statements, one of which I just blogged onto the Badi' Blog, where the Master in the early, dark days of His ministry apparently came within an ace of pioneering to the town in China known as Kashi. Here is a very similar statement about China that appeared at another time in Star of the West.
...And such is the prophecy of Abdu'l Baha, who bespeaks for China a destiny most great. "China," he says, "is the country of the future.
"China-ward the Cause of Baha'u'llah must march. China has most great capability. The Chinese people are most simple hearted and truth seeking. In China one can teach many souls and train and educate such divine personages, each one of whom may become the bright candle of the world of humanity.
"Truly, I say they are free from any deceit and hypocrisies and are prompted with ideal motives. I hope the right kind of a teacher will be inspired to go to that vast Empire to lay the foundation of the Kingdom of God, to promote the principles of Divine Civilization, to unfurl the banner of the Cause of Baha'u'llah and to invite the people to the Banquet of the Lord." (SW, Vol. 15, p. 45)
"China is the Country of the Future"
Words of Abdu'l-Baha from Diary of Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, April 3, 1917.
CHINA, China, China, China-ward the Cause of Baha'u'llah must march! Where is that holy, sanctified Baha'i to become the teacher of China!
China has most great capability. The Chinese people are most simplehearted and truth seeking. The Baha'i teacher of the Chinese people must first be imbued with their spirit, know their sacred literature, study their national customs and speak to them from their own stand point, and their own terminologies. He must entertain no thought of his own, but ever think of their spiritual welfare. In China one can teach many souls and train and educate divine personages, each one of whom may become a bright candle of the world of humanity. Truly, I say they are free from any deceit and hypocrisies, and are prompted with ideal motives.
Had I been feeling well, I would have taken a journey to China myself! China is the country of the future. I hope the right kind of teacher will be inspired to go to that vast empire to lay the foundation of the Kingdom of God, to promote the principles of divine civilization, to unfurl the banner of the Cause of Baha'u'llah and to invite the people to the banquet of the Lord!
For the last twenty years I have repeatedly emphasized the matter of spreading the Cause of God. In every city there must be organized assemblies of teaching classes to teach the young how to teach the Cause and prepare them for this most important service. Every Baha'i must acquire the lessons of teaching. This will yield results. No other service is as important as this. This service of the promotion of the revelation of Baha'u'llah is the most confirmed service. Every time one service holds the most supreme importance.
There is one season to harrow the ground, another season to scatter the seeds, still another season to irrigate the fields and still another to harvest the crop. We must attend to these various kinds of activities in their proper seasons in order to become successful. Now is the time of seed sowing, but it seems to me some of the believers are thinking about crop getting. This will give them no results. Whosoever is thinking of any other thing, is wasting his time. The promotion of the principles of Baha'u'llah is the most dominant issue before the believers of God." (SW, Vol. 8, p. 37)