How to Find Expert Advice

On February 11, 2021, the Universal House of Justice (UHJ) responded to an email inquiring how to seek out best expert advice about the COVID-19 pandemic. While focused on gaining information about the current global public health issue, its guidance can be applied in complex situations where clear answers to singular problems are not readily apparent or even possible.

In addition, the perspective shared by the UHJ can be “mapped” to The Framework. By doing so opens up other ways to see “…sets of relationships among the individual, the community and the institutions of society, the three protagonists in the advancement of civilization.”1

This advancement is akin to an overall transition from physical to spiritual reality. The graphic below illustrates the evolution of individuals as they pursue their truths, further their education, and lead their lives in accordance to such principles and virtues that enable them to break free from the clutches of fear, greed, and power.

Fundamentally, it is the continuous, personal quest for truth each of us undertakes in this world that generates the energy necessary to fuel the physical to spiritual transition. Knowing that, though, does not make the journey any easier. Guidance such as what the UHJ presents in its letter can help each of us keep truth in the forefront, learn from one another, and benefit the commonweal. Herewith are extracts from the letter for your consideration:

One of the unfortunate features of the present age is the difficulty of attaining truth, which seems to be an inherent characteristic of the process of disintegration that is assailing humanity in its transition to a new order. “In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood,” Bahá’u’lláh lamented, “and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice.”2 Of course, there are a number of Bahá’í teachings that directly bear on this dilemma. To the extent to which the friends imbibe and hold fast to these teachings, they can guard themselves and their communities from the tumult buffeting society and contribute to its protection and transformation.

The independent investigation of reality is a fundamental principle enunciated by Bahá’u’lláh, through which, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained, “the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth3. In the Hidden Words, Bahá’u’lláh called the individual to observe justice, by whose aid “thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor.4 An essential method for the attainment of truth is consultation— “the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.5

Furthermore, the Bahá’í writings stress the importance of science. “Great indeed is the claim of scientists … on the peoples of the world6, Bahá’u’lláh observed. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wrote that the “sciences of today are bridges to reality7 and repeatedly emphasized that “religion must be in conformity with science and reason8. Significantly, on an occasion when a scientific question was asked of Shoghi Effendi, he responded in a letter written on his behalf that “we are a religion and not qualified to pass on scientific matters9. And in reply to scientific issues raised on a number of occasions, he consistently advised Bahá’ís that such matters would need to be investigated by scientists.

In light of the foregoing, when faced with issues of a scientific or medical nature, Bahá’ís should seek out and rely on the best expert advice available. For example, in connection with medical matters, believers should bear in mind Bahá’u’lláh’s statement in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: “Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.”10 In relation to the coronavirus pandemic, the friends should follow the counsel of medical and other scientific experts on the advisability and efficacy of the various vaccination options that are becoming available and the wisdom of particular public health measures. They should not be concerned merely with their own personal choices and well-being, but in reaching their decisions, they should also consider their social responsibilities and the common good.

  1. “The conviction of the Bahá’í community that humanity, having passed through earlier stages of social evolution, stands at the threshold of its collective maturity; its belief that the principle of the oneness of humankind, the hallmark of the age of maturity, implies a change in the very structure of society; its dedication to a learning process that, animated by this principle, explores the workings of a new set of relationships among the individual, the community and the institutions of society, the three protagonists in the advancement of civilization; its confidence that a revised conception of power, freed from the notion of dominance with the accompanying ideas of contest, contention, division and superiority, underlies the desired set of relationships; its commitment to a vision of a world that, benefitting from humanity’s rich cultural diversity, abides no lines of separation—these all constitute essential elements of the framework that shapes the Bahá’í approach to politics set out in brief below.”
    2 March 2013 – To the Bahá’ís of Iran
  2. “In these days truthfulness and sincerity are sorely afflicted in the clutches of falsehood, and justice is tormented by the scourge of injustice. The smoke of corruption hath enveloped the whole world in such wise that naught can be seen in any direction save regiments of soldiers and nothing is heard from any land but the clashing of swords. We beseech God, the True One, to strengthen the wielders of His power in that which will rehabilitate the world and bring tranquility to the nations.”
    Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh
  3. “Among these teachings was the independent investigation of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth; may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown garment of a thousand years ago and may put on the robe woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of reality. As reality is one and cannot admit of multiplicity, therefore different opinions must ultimately become fused into one.”
    Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
  4. “O Son of Spirit!
    The best beloved of all things in My sight is Justice; turn not away therefrom if thou desirest Me, and neglect it not that I may confide in thee. By its aid thou shalt see with thine own eyes and not through the eyes of others, and shalt know of thine own knowledge and not through the knowledge of thy neighbor. Ponder this in thy heart; how it behooveth thee to be. Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.”
    The Hidden Words
  5. “The Great Being saith: The heaven of divine wisdom is illumined with the two luminaries of consultation and compassion. Take ye counsel together in all matters, inasmuch as consultation is the lamp of guidance which leadeth the way, and is the bestower of understanding.”
    Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh
  6. “The third Tajallí is concerning arts, crafts and sciences. Knowledge is as wings to man’s life, and a ladder for his ascent. Its acquisition is incumbent upon everyone. The knowledge of such sciences, however, should be acquired as can profit the peoples of the earth, and not those which begin with words and end with words. Great indeed is the claim of scientists and craftsmen on the peoples of the world. Unto this beareth witness the Mother Book on the day of His return. Happy are those possessed of a hearing ear. In truth, knowledge is a veritable treasure for man, and a source of glory, of bounty, of joy, of exaltation, of cheer and gladness unto him. Thus hath the Tongue of Grandeur spoken in this Most Great Prison.”
    Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh
  7. “The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality, naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.”
    Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
  8. “And among the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is that religion must be in conformity with science and reason, so that it may influence the hearts of men. The foundation must be solid and must not consist of imitations.”
    Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá
  9. “Significantly, on an occasion when a scientific question was asked of Shoghi Effendi, he responded in a letter written on his behalf that “we are a religion and not qualified to pass on scientific matters.” And in reply to scientific issues raised on a number of occasions, he consistently advised Bahá’ís that such matters would need to be investigated by scientists.”
    29 November 2017 – To three individuals
  10. “Resort ye, in times of sickness, to competent physicians; We have not set aside the use of material means, rather have We confirmed it through this Pen, which God hath made to be the Dawning-place of His shining and glorious Cause.”
    The Kitáb-i-Aqdas

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