Paris Talks: Working for the Betterment of the World

This talk by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, given on November 19, 1911, emphasizes and further defines the purpose of a Bahá’í, and provides a general recipe for the time designated and known by Bahá’ís as the Most Great Peace. He lays out an effective, yet brief, blueprint for all to use. The message is simple, but profound: the mode of thought, the guiding principle of every Bahá’í should be to undertake actions that lead to the betterment of the world and the upliftment of humanity.

We should take note that, in this talk, He is not proposing material solutions—there are no mentions of economic or political mechanisms—which He confirms in saying “no material motive is ours.” So we should not imagine that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is advocating for the use of existing technology, science, or understanding to bring about a lasting peace.

Contrarily, in unequivocal terms, He marks the path of the betterment of the world by saying that we must “give sight to the spiritually blind, hearing to the spiritually deaf and life to those who are dead in sin.” How is this accomplished?


Our teaching efforts are exactly those processes by which consciousness is expanded, the consciousness that we are primarily spiritual beings, that we should make daily effort to embody divine attributes such as generosity and humility, that we must never rest easy if our fellow members of the human family are suffering, that we are the protagonists of our own lives, and so on. An individual’s awareness of reality, in tandem with our ability to read our social reality, is crucial as a precursor to actions that lead to lasting change.

From our steadfast and coherent teaching efforts spring forth the fruit of a naturally growing and larger community, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá confirms by stating that “day by day He will cause our numbers to increase, and that our meetings will grow in strength and usefulness.” We can rightly acknowledge that as a community becomes larger, it becomes a more potent force to bring about change for not only itself, the Bahá’í community, but also the broader community! The Bahá’í community will become better equipped to take on more complex issues, will  utilize more sophisticated tools and more powerful instruments, will further strengthen its expansion and consolidation processes, which, when combined, will provide for the well-being of its wider community and, collectively, the entire world.

But the strength of community can only be realized as long as we have a focal point, a common vision. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá thanks God that we are “at one in this grand ideal.” Only the power of the Covenant can make us “at one” By drawing on the power of the Covenant, that is, in our study of and whole-hearted adherence to the Plans from the Universal House of Justice, our efforts are canalized and consecrated, leading to a cohesive and united force that can “fight against oppression, hate and discord, so that wars may cease and God’s laws of peace and love may be established among men.”

From these efforts, gaining in their momentum, we shall “indeed conquer the world!”



  • Thank you for such a great reminder of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s wishes for us!

  • Nice job, son.