Baha’i’s, Theosophists come together to remember historic visit 100 years ago
By Wendy Foster For The Sun September 26, 2012 5:54PM
The Theosophical Society in Wheaton hosted an event Sept. 20 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the visit of Abdu’l-Baha to the United States. | Submitted by Franklin Lewis.
Updated: October 29, 2012 6:36AM
The Baha’i Community of Naperville recently joined the Theosophical Society in America to honor the 100th anniversary of the visit of Abdu’l-Baha to the U.S.
A Sept. 20 talk, titled “Celebrating Unity Within Diversity: The Link Between the Baha’i Faith and Theosophy,” was given by Valerie Dana, deputy secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of the United States.
“There was a sense of amity in the room. The likeness of the principles and objectives of the two groups made it a particularly convivial atmosphere,” said Franklin Lewis of the Baha’i Community of Naperville.
Known by some as the Persian Prophet, Abdu’l-Baha was the son of the founder of the Baha’i faith. During the course of eight months in 1911 and 1912, Abdu’l-Baha visited the U.S. and was a much sought-after speaker at churches, synagogues, peace conferences and more.
The Naperville Baha’i faith organization is comprised of about 50 people.
“We meet in homes, and sometimes in the Unitarian Church or St. Margaret Mary’s Church,” Lewis said.
Followers, he said, believe in “unity of religions. And that’s what Abdu’l-Baha was emphasizing when he came to the United States. He had contact with various religious and philosophical communities. Among those were the Theosophists groups.”
Lewis said that Abdu’l-Baha’s visit was an important event. During his visit, he placed the foundation for the national headquarters in Wilmette, was invited to speak at Hull House by Jane Addams, and addressed the fourth convention of the NAACP.
The Theosophical Society is a group that encourages an open-minded inquiry into religion, philosophy and science.
“We encourage people to cultivate their inner capacity for self-transformation,” said Theosophical Society president Tim Boyd.
During his visit to the U.S., Abdu’l-Baha was frequently supported by Theosophical groups. While in Illinois, he was hosted by the Theosophical Society at an event at Northwestern University.
At the Sept. 20 commemorative event, Dana spoke about the philosophical connection between Baha’i and Theosophists.
“She talked about the groups’ common principles and objectives and beliefs. Something that Abdu’l-Baha had spoken about 100 years ago,” Lewis said.
Dana spoke about the importance of peace and unity, and how these can be achieved through spiritual means.
“She spoke about the kinds of bonds between hearts, which are required for real foundation of the human family,” Lewis said.
The program, which was attended by about 60 people, was well-received, according to Lewis.
Boyd said that the message that Abdu’l-Baha shared in 1912, regarding the importance of peace, equality and unity, is as relevant and important today as it was 100 years ago. The commemorative presentation was “uplifting, inspiring and profound.”
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