In 1912, Abdu’l-Bahá announced that the Temple is already built after having put in place the corner store of the Chicago House of Worship. How can a Temple, with no walls, structures or doors be already built with one stone? Abdu’l-Bahá also said that peace “will be established in this century, It will be universal in the twentieth century. All nations will be forced into it.”[3] similarly to the Temple, how can peace have been established when there are refugee crisis, extremist groups growing stronger, unimaginable poverty and suffering?”. Perhaps a fresh viewpoint of “evolutionary processes”, which “stands in contrast to pre-occupation with the short term in the wider society today,” [4] will aid in understanding this outwardly seemingly contradiction. Hopefully this semi-compilation can provide some insights. You can read the text below or view it below or The Temple is already built.

… The Temple is already built …

In 1912, “[a]fter the talk ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, followed by His audience, left the tent and requested that Nettie Tobin’s stone be brought to Him. …. “Like an athlete” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took it [an ax] and “swung it high in the air.” ‘After several blows,” wrote Louise Waite, He “cut through the resisting turf and reached the earth below.” …

Turning to Lua Getsinger, He bade her to corne forward despite her resistance. It was not until He called her a second time that she responded, grasped the shovel, and turned the first earth. Following her was Corinne True, after which, one by one, individuals of many races and nationalities – Persian, Syrian, Egyptian, Indian, North American Indian, Japanese, South African, English, French, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Jewish – were called forward to participate in the digging. …

Then He “consigned the stone to its excavation, on behalf of all the people of the world.” After retrieving the golden trowel, He pushed the earth back around the stone and declared: “The Temple is already built.” [1]

In a talk, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said the following.

“I am most hopeful that in this century these lofty thoughts shall be conducive to human welfare. Let this century be the sun of previous centuries, the effulgences of which shall last forever, so that in times to come they shall glorify the twentieth century, saying the twentieth century was the century of lights, the twentieth century was the century of life, the twentieth century was the century of international peace ….” [2]

Again in an interview with the Montreal Daily Star newspaper, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was asked if there are any signs of permanent peace being established within a reasonable time. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá responded, “It will be established in this century, It will be universal in the twentieth century. All nations will be forced into it.”[3]

At first glance, it seems that the world is far from peaceful. One could look at the corner stone of the Chicago House of Worship and think, “how can it be built when there is nothing but a stone?” Likewise one can think, “how can peace have been established when there are refugee crisis, extremist groups growing stronger, unimaginable poverty and suffering?”. Perhaps a fresh viewpoint of “evolutionary processes”, which “stands in contrast to pre-occupation with the short term in the wider society today,” [4] will aid in understanding this outwardly seemingly contradiction.

… Evolutionary process …

The origin of all endeavours we are engaged in was initiated long ago. It is an organic process operating and proceeding in accordance with the evolution of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh. `Abdu’l-Bahá wrote:

“The kingdom of peace, salvation, uprightness, and reconciliation is founded in the invisible world, and it will by degrees become manifest and apparent through the power of the Word of God!” [4]

… Co-creators of reality …

Bahá’u’lláh clearly lays the responsibility of creating a new reality on us. He says “It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action…” [5]

Paul Lample explains how we are co-creators of reality by explaining that, “God, through his will, is the creator of reality. We are inserted into this physical and spiritual reality and are shaped by it. Our personal reality, then, consists of those structures that have formed in our own mind to organize our experience of the outer world. But the process is a dynamic one. Human beings are not passive observers of reality and our personal reality, our thought, is not simply imposed upon us. In a very specific way we may consider ourselves—collectively—as co-creators of reality, for through the power of the human mind and our interactions, the world under­goes continued transformation. … By the term “co-creator of reality” is not meant that humanity is a partner with God. It is an acknowledgment that the attributes of God the Creator, the Fashioner are reflected in human beings. Bahá’u’lláh has designed a new world order, we are the construction workers; he is the genetic engineer of the seed of a new civilization, we are the farmers who tend it.” [6]

… Arduous process …

In reference to the establishment of the Lesser Peace, the House of Justice clarified that, “However short the path to peace, it will be tortuous; however promising the anticipated event that will set its course, it must mature through a long period of evolution, with its attendant tests, setbacks and conflicts, towards the moment when it will have emerged, under the direct influences of God’s Faith, as the Most Great Peace.” [7]

Again in a letter dated 29 July 1996 sent on behalf of the Universal House of justice, it says:

Clearly, the emergence of the Lesser Peace will be a gradual process and its various stages will no doubt witness tests and setbacks, as well as great advances. It will certainly include, however, a development of historic importance: that point at which the majority of the world’s nation-states formally commit themselves to a global order comprising institutions and laws, and equipped with the means by which collective decisions can be enforced. While we cannot at present foresee the precise form that this development will take, much less the point at which it will occur, we recognize that it is a feature of the process of the Lesser Peace. [7]

It is easy, when focusing only on specific events, to be disillusioned and view events as a cascade of failures leading towards a darker future. However, when viewing events in light of larger evolutionary processes, such events are a feature of these processes.

… Emergence of a new consciousness …

In reviewing the 20th Century, the Guardian wrote the following as early as in 1931.

“To the states and principalities just emerging from the welter of the great Napoleonic upheaval, whose chief preoccupation was either to recover their rights to an independent existence or to achieve their national unity, the conception of world solidarity seemed not only remote but inconceivable. It was not until the forces of nationalism had succeeded in overthrowing the foundations of the Holy Alliance that had sought to curb their rising power, that the possibility of a world order, transcending in its range the political institutions these nations had established, came to be seriously entertained. It was not until after the World War that these exponents of arrogant nationalism came to regard such an order as the object of a pernicious doctrine tending to sap that essential loyalty upon which the continued existence of their national life depended.” [8]

In a letter written in the years leading up to the Second World War, the Guardian wrote:

“Though the great outcry raised by post-war nationalism is growing louder and more insistent every day, the League of Nations is as yet in its embryonic state, and the storm clouds that are gathering may for a time totally eclipse its powers and obliterate its machinery, yet the direction in which the institution itself is operating is most significant. The voices that have been raised ever since its inception, the efforts that have been exerted, the work that has already been accomplished, foreshadow the triumphs which this presently constituted institution, or any other body that may supersede it, is destined to achieve.”[9]

As stated before, tests and setbacks are features of the evolutionary process but out of these disheartening events, emerges a new consciousness that is of vital importance. Shoghi Effendi wrote:

… the gradual diffusion of the spirit of world solidarity which is spontaneously arising out of the welter of a disorganized society.[10]

The world is, in truth, moving on towards its destiny. The interdependence of the peoples and nations of the earth, whatever the leaders of the divisive forces of the world may say or do, is already an accomplished fact. Its unity in the economic sphere is now understood and recognized. [11]

As humanity was plunged into a world war which Shoghi Effendi described as “the titanic upheaval foreshadowed seventy years ago by the prophetic Pen of Bahá’u’lláh” and as the “long-predicted world-encircling conflagration”, he pointed out to the Bahá’ís that this great conflict was an “essential prerequisite to world unification”. [4]

… The end in the beginning …

When events are viewed in light of the irresistible evolutionary processes of peace that is founded in “the Kingdom”, a feature of which is setbacks and disheartening events, we look ahead and see that the “temple is already built” with the first corner stone. With this view of the processes at work, we see the end in the beginning. Once a new consciousness of the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh has emerged, it is irreversible, it is “already built”, it’s done.

“Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger.” [12]

While the end matters, the beginning has its own place. `Abdu’l-Bahá is reported to have remarked the following on the day of the opening of the pilgrim house in Haifa.

“For instance, the undertaking of Jináb-i-Hájí Vakíl‘ud-Dawlih Afnán, who, with his initiative and effort, constructed the first House of Worship of the world in ‘Ishqábád, has this special blessing and grace. Later other Houses of Worship will be built around the world, but as Jináb-i-Afnán built this historic edifice, it has that grace. Similarly, this first Pilgrim House is something else that Áqá Mírzá Ja’far has built to ease our minds. Later, innumerable guesthouses will be built for the Cause, but this first one is another thing, as it was done with purity of motive. All the Messengers and those nigh unto Him will be praying for him, beseeching confirmations and increasing success for him.”

… References …

[1] The Dawning Place: The Building of a Temple, the Forging of the North American Bahá’í Community by Bruce W. Whitmore p 64-65

[2] The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by `Abdu’l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912, 2nd ed. (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1982), pp. 125-126.

[3] `Abdu’l-Bahá in Canada (Ontario: Bahá’í Canada Publications, 1987), p. 35.

[4] Letter from the Department of the Secretariat dated 19th of April 2001 to an individual believer.

[5] Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1994), no. CXVII.

[6] Paul Lample, Revelation and Social Reality: Learning to Translate What Is Written into Reality. Palabra Publications, 2009. Page 6-7

[7] Memorandum prepared by the Research Department on Attainment of the Unity of Nations and the Lesser Pease, 19th of April

[8] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: Selected Letters (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991), p. 44.

[9] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: Selected Letters (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991), p. 191.

[10] The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: Selected Letters (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1991), p. 44.

[11] The Promised Day Is Come (Wilmette: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1996), p. 200.

[12] Baha’u’llah. The seven valleys and The four valleys. Baha’i Pub. Trust, 1978, page 15