The Process of Cluster Growth and the Moral of the Chinese Bamboo Tree
If you plant a seed from the Chinese Bamboo tree, be prepared for a long wait. The patient gardener will have to water and fertilize the invisible seed for no less than four years before the first shoots begin to appear. In those four years of silent growth, the “lucky Bamboo, “ as the Chinese call it, is sending out taproots, the root system that spreads out horizontally and downward into the soil. Throughout all those four years, nothing significant is visible at ground-level.
But then during the fifth year, something wonderful happens. The Chinese Bamboo sprouts and grows an incredible 90 feet in six weeks!
(Some species will grow 100 cm or 39 inches per day!).
A rich variety of moral and spiritual lessons lie hidden in the growth of the Chinese Bamboo. But let us apply the Bamboo’s development to the institute process and cluster growth. In his talk, Counsellor Dan Scott referred to Shoghi Effendi’s phrase that the building of the Faith appears to be “slow and unobtrusive.” Here again is the full sentence from The World Order of Bahá’u’lláh: “It is this building process, slow and unobtrusive, to which the life of the world-wide Bahá’í Community is wholly consecrated, that constitutes the one hope of a stricken society. For this process is actuated by the generating influence of God’s changeless Purpose, and is evolving within the framework of the Administrative Order of His Faith.” (p. 194).
One would well remember the story of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, who when approached by a believer in the depths of discouragement despairing of ever acquiring the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are required to possess, replied with the greatest compassion and encouragement, “little by little; day by day” (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í World, 12: 704)
Hear how he treats his enemies. One instance of many I have heard will suffice. When the Master came to ‘Akká there lived there a certain man from Afghanistan [Haji Siddiq], an austere and rigid Mussulman [Muslim]. To him the Master was a heretic. He felt and nourished a great enmity towards the Master, and roused up others against him. When opportunity offered in gatherings of the people, as in the Mosque, he denounced him with bitter words. ‘This man,’ he said to all, ‘is an imposter. Why do you speak to him? Why do you have dealings with him?’ And when he passed the Master on the street he was careful to hold his robe before his face that his sight might not be defiled. Thus did the Afghan. The Master, however, did thus: The Afghan was poor and lived in a mosque; he was frequently in need of food and clothing. The Master sent him both. These he accepted, but without thanks. He fell sick. The Master took him a physician, food, medicine, money. These, also, he accepted; but as he held out one hand that the physician might take his pulse, with the other he held his cloak before his face that he might not look upon the Master. For twenty-four years the Master continued his kindnesses and the Afghan persisted in his enmity. Then at last one day the Afghan came to the Master’s door, and fell down, penitent and weeping, at his feet. ‘Forgive me, sir!’ he cried. ‘For twenty-four years I have done evil to you, for twenty-four years you have done good to me. Now I know that I have been in the wrong.’ The Master bade him rise, and they became friends.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Centre of the Covenant, p. 101)
A young Bahá ‘i lady pioneered to Bolivia in the 1930 s to open it to the Faith. Having no success in teaching anyone, she began to write to the Guardian expressing feelings of failure. With each passing month she wrote and he replied encouraging her to stay, to remain steadfast, to have faith and to pray. So obediently she continued on. Every day she went to the centre of a small town and in one of the regions found a spot by a fountain and tearfully prayed for the progress of the Faith. After two years the beloved Guardian consented to her wish to return home. The story of this young lady was lost and unknown to the friends in Bolivia. Years later when they experienced entry by troops they organised regional teaching conferences. At the end of one of them they decided to take a group photograph. They found a sunny spot big enough for 1,200 friends to gather. Mr Vojdani took a copy of this photo everywhere to show to the friends on his travels.
Years later, friends from many countries had gathered in Paris for a huge anniversary celebration and Mr Vojdani attended as part of a delegation from the Americas. In the crowd a very old lady using two walking sticks hobbled over to them and asked if there was anyone from Bolivia. He said yes. She asked if there were many Bahá ’s there, again he said yes, then she asked if he had any photographs from Bolivia. He showed her the one of the teaching conference group photo. She took it and looked at it for a few moments and then fainted. Later in hospital, when she came round, the shocked friends asked her what had happened. In a frail voice she told her story that she had been sent to Bolivia by the Guardian and every day for two years she had sat down in the exact spot where the photograph had been taken to pray and beseech Bahá‘u’llah to open the doors of His Faith to the people of Bolivia. Seeing the photograph she realised then, years later, that her prayers had been answered. Three days later she died. http://pioneer-desk-mauritius.blogspot.gr/
Florence Khanum relates two sayings she heard from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. On one occasion He said to her ‘"Sabr kun; mithl-i-Man bash” – be patient, be as I am. The other was when some one expressed discouragement to Him, saying they could not possibly aquire all the qualities and virtues that Bahá’ís are directed to possess, and the Master replied, “Kam Kam. Ruz bih ruz” – little by little; day by day.’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)
Stanwood Cobb wrote that on one occasion He spoke of the need for loving patience in the face of aggravating behavior on the part of others: ‘One might say, “Well, I will endure such and such a person so long as he is endurable.” But Bahá’ís must endure people even when they are unendurable!’ Stanwood Cobb pointed out that ‘He did not look at us solemnly as if appointing us to an arduous and difficult task. Rather, He beamed upon us delightfully, as if to suggest what a joy to us it would be to act in this way!’
(Honnold, Annamarie, Vignettes from the Life of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá)