Is This What You Signed Up For?
Poor Baha'is. They sign up thinking they are going to change the world and all they get is boring pseudo intellectual touchy freely out of touch bureaucratic bull shit. Below is a typical Baha'i admino-centric narcissistic upchuck. Baha'i Angst really did not make this up. This is an unintentional self-parody by some poor Baha'i schmuckette from New Zealand.
The chrysalis effect: reflections on Baha'i community transformation
By Beth Lew, Aotearoa Institute Natonal [sic] Coordinator.
Recently I was asked to try and explain to my community the purpose and
relation- ships of the new institutions that have risen up in response
to the Five Year Plan. How do these institutions, specifically Aotearoa
Institute, Cluster Institute Coordinators, Cluster Growth Committees
the Cluster Reflection Meeting collaborate with the Local Spiritual
Assemblies in our cluster?
Meditating on this as I prepared my presentation, I came upon a
chrysalis of a butterfly. It seems to me that this is an appropriate
symbol of where we are right now in our current state of growth and
The Universal House of Justice states "...since the beginning of the
Four Year Plan, the entire Baha'i world has been undergoing a profound
change in culture required by the single focus of the global plans in
this latter part of the first century of the Faith's Formative Age—
advancing the process of entry by troops.”
So here we are in a process of transformation. It’s like the Baha’i
community is going from being a caterpillar to a butterfly. The
transformation is happening from the inside out—just as happens to the
caterpillar. All the structures that the butterfly needs for life are
present in the caterpillar. It has eyes, antennae, legs, digestive
systems, a heart etc. It’s very good at munch- ing its way around.
You could say the Baha’i community is a bit like this. We have all the
structures in place that Bahá’u’lláh envisioned, that Ahdu’l-Bahá and
Shoghi Effendi defined and encouraged. We have Local and National
Assemblies, we have consultative processes, we have the Fund, we have
summer schools, etc. We’ve been pretty good at munching our way around
the country and setting up Local Spiritual Assemblies in lots of
localities. But like the caterpillar we haven’t really been able to
multiply ourselves very successfully. And like the caterpillar we
don’t know what we will look like or be capable of in the future. But
it’s probably going to be pretty amazing.
So here we are right now, with all these new processes happening, and
all the old ways of doing things—our comfortable old Bahá’i
culture—changing all around us. As individuals, the Universal House of
Justice has asked us, every year as far as I can remember, to use our
initiative, to seek opportunities to teach the Faith and help bring
about entry by troops. Some of us rise to this challenge and
encouragement the best we are able. Still the growth has been slow in
many countries and unsustainable in others.
So the Universal House of Justice has decided that what we need is a
to build capacity, empower individual initiative and create a system
confirming seekers and helping them become empowered teachers of the
The first step: the individual going through the Ruhi courses offered
Aotearoa Institute. If you are a visual per- son, imagine our pyramid
with seven levels and an arrow starting at the bottom and pointing to
This is where youth have an important part to play. (Imagine a
bolt hit- ting the pyramid!) Because they are younger and more
the youth will grasp the lessons and vision of these new processes more
rapidly and with greater ability to implement these lessons in their
lives. Communities need to be encouraging the youth to participate in
the courses, and then listen to their ideas carefully. From my own
experience as a long-time Bahá’i involved with the Ruhi courses, it
seems very easy for me to think I understand a new process but when I
look back at my actions and responses in current situations I can see
that I’m often operating from my old patterns and understandings. Youth
are far freer from this handicap.
The role of the Auxiliary Board members is crucial in this development
of the Institute process as well. Think of a big shiny heart pumping
love and encouragement over the pyramid as well as the rest of the
Bahá’i Community. The International Teaching Centre tells us that those
communities where the Auxiliary Board members and the Counselors are
intimately involved in the institute process—where they are the tutor
trainers of a country, or the institute coordinators of a region, or
involved heavily in tutoring, or helping to guide cluster reflection
meetings—those communities are experiencing the greatest growth and
success. Their dedicated devotion and service to the Faith, their
ability to study the guidance, to see the global picture makes their
service in this arena vital for our growth and development.
So what about these clusters? What is this about? There are a lot of
processes happening here but the one that stands out for me is that
working in clusters is helping us develop a culture of learning: We've
got these “two essential movements” — getting people through the
sequence of courses and then growing our clusters through different
levels of capacity from C to B to A. We’ve got cluster reflection
meetings that help us capture the learning that is happening in short
amounts of time and then to effectively inspire and guide individual
initiative and action. All of this happens at the grass roots where
people can be more receptive to local needs and opportunities.
Now as we have people moving through the pyramid of courses, we are
getting more and more human resources available for service to the
community and humanity. (In your imaginary pyramid—put little lines
radiating out from all the levels and out of the top of the pyramid).
order to develop and utilize this new capacity we need to be systematic
and some new institutions have developed in order to assist this
First we need Cluster or Area Institute Coordinators who help encourage
people to go through the sequence and train more people to become
tutors, they promote the multiplication of study circles, they keep
track of who is doing what and when it’s happening, and they
with the Auxiliary Board, with Assemblies, with Cluster Growth
Committees, sharing what they know and what they’re learning.
In areas experiencing significant growth, a new structure to help
this growth has appeared called the cluster teaching or cluster growth
committee. The International Teaching Centre advised our National
Assembly last year that they might want to consider appointing Cluster
Growth Committees to help deploy some of the human resources that are
moving through the sequence of courses. Some countries have found that
having this committee has helped to avoid a plateau effect, where all
the available Bahá’is have gone through the courses but haven’t been
able to put into practice what they are learning perhaps because a lack
of impetus, organization or leadership.
So the Cluster Growth Committee is meant to help focus the energy of
people who have finished Book I and could be holding devotional
meetings, or have finished Book 2 and could be visiting inactive
or new believers and sharing deepening classes. Those who have finished
Book 3 and may need encouragement and assistance in linking up with
children’s classes where they can help. These committees are deploying
people as they’ve finished the Institute courses and they are helping
keep the cluster reflection meeting on track. I think of this as a
magnifying glass or crystal that captures the light and energy of lots
of rays of light (newly trained human resources) and focuses the light
on areas of need.
The Auxiliary Board Members are involved in this systematic management
as well—collaborating with the institute coordinators and the cluster
growth committee, helping with setting the vision and encouraging their
assistants to be role models of service.
What about the Assemblies? Where do they fit in?
In Building Momentum the House of Justice is quoted: All of this opens
thrilling opportunities for Local Spiritual Assemblies. Theirs is the
chal- lenge, in collaboration with the Auxiliary Board members who
counsel and assist them, to utilize the energies and talents of the
swelling human resources available in their respective areas of
jurisdiction both to create a vibrant community life and to begin
influencing the society around them.
Intensive growth depends upon encouraging individuals to carry out a
rapidly increasing number of core activities and other endeavours and
Local Spiritual Assemblies have been instrumental in this process.
Though their inspiration and support, a host of individual and
collective actions have resulted. By recognizing and facilitating the
initiatives of the many friends proceeding through the institute
courses, as well as of other devoted servants in their communities, the
Assemblies are assuming a style of leadership urged by the Guardian:
The first quality for leadership, both among individuals and
is the capacity to use the energy and competence that exists in the
and file of its followers.”
Because the planning environment has now broadened to the level of the
cluster, often involving several. Local Assemblies and the active
participation of the believers in formulating short-term goals, an
Assembly’s scope of interest has begun to stretch beyond its
Its vision is expanded, its re- sources magnified and its opportunities
So there is a lot for Assemblies to do. (Think of them as big
sheltering and nurturing the believers as they develop their new
capacities.) They can encourage their members to go through the
of courses so they can develop a good understanding of what capacities
are being developed. They can attend cluster reflection meetings and be
aware of what the needs are across the cluster and what initiative is
being offered and what needs to be encouraged. They can utilize the
19-day feast for discussion about the two essential movements and
encourage and support individual initiative. They can collaborate with
the Cluster Institute Coordinator, the Cluster Growth Committee the
Auxiliary Board and the other Assemblies in the Cluster, studying the
guidance from Building Momentum together, looking at what capacity has
been developed and then set- ting realistic goals and providing
direction for the community.
So changing from the inside out, we’re looking around us at new
institutions bud- ding out in all directions. We’re not sure how
supposed to work, we throw some energy into them, watch them stretch,
ponder on their significance but most of all, wonder can this really be
happening? Entry by troops is really just around the corner!
P. 10, Sept 2004 New Zealand Baha'i News