The Lamp, volume 1 Number 1
A Newsletter Produced by the Wilmette Institute
Volume 1, Number 1, December 1995
Wilmette Institute Adopts Logo
Back to index for The Lamps
The Wilmette Institute now has a logo! It was designed by Trey Yancy, editor of
Deepen magazine, in consultation with the Institute's executive board.
The logo features the quotation from a prayer by 'Abdu'l-Bahá-- "a lamp
of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures"; the prayer was revealed to Thornton
Chase, the first American Bahá'í, in 1899 and may be found in
Bahá'í Prayers, page 57. The full sentence reads,
"With great humbleness and entire devotion I pray to Thee to make me a minaret
of Thy love in Thy land, a lamp of Thy knowledge among Thy creatures, and a
banner of Thy divine bounty in Thy dominion." All the qualities--humility,
devotion, and the desire to be a source of divine love, knowledge, and
bounty (service) to all--reflect goals of the Wilmette Institute.
At the center of the logo is a lamp inspired by a lamp in the room where the
Báb first declared His mission. It particularly symbolizes the divine
knowledge referred to in 'Abdu'l-Bahá's prayer above. Interestingly
enough, the published English-language writings of Bahá'u'lláh,
the Báb, `Abdu'l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi use the word "lamp" 331
times. Lamps symbolize many things: individuals are lamps ("thou art My lamp
and My light is in thee"), as are Manifestations; there is the lamp "of the
spirit," "of religion," "of divine civilization," "of God," "of the utterance
of God," "of the Cause," "of Salvation," "of His Faith," "of guidance," "of the
Covenant," "of everlasting dominion," "of search," "of Divine glory," "of the
Supreme Concourse," "of conscience," "of revelation," "of Thy love," "of the
love of God," "of Thy names," "of His grace," "of the oneness of the human
world." Thus the symbol of the lamp in the logo has many possible meanings.
Surrounding the lamp is a nine-pointed star, symbolizing the
Bahá'í Faith, with a second nine-pointed star under it. Beyond
the star are nineteen rays symbolizing vahíd (Arabic for unity:
the letters' numerical values add up to nineteen). The five-pointed stars on
either side of the words "Wilmette Institute" symbolize the Báb (the
numerical values of the letters báb add up to five); the two
stars also symbolize the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh. The outside
is a circle signifying unity and completeness.
Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization--Program
The Wilmette Institute's "Spiritual Foundations for a Global
Civilization" program has now entered its third month and thanks to the
dedicated students, is going better than we could have dreamed. With this
newsletter, students are receiving their third mailing of course materials, now
pushing a thousand pages. Homework is pouring in; some students have reached
the eighth unit. Conference calls have been conducted with almost everyone, and
many students have now participated in two such calls. The faculty of the
summer residential session is almost complete. The plans for seminars on how to
teach the Faith--complete with readings and projects--are taking shape. The
design for the second, third, and fourth years is also moving forward and
should be complete in a few months. The staff has been highly encouraged by the
enthusiasm of the students. One called the registrar in tears because she was
so happy to receive the notebook! The Institute has been blessed by a very
dedicated group of students for its first cohort. The students' efforts have
inspired the Wilmette Institute staff to work even harder for the program.
What About That Homework?
Probably your most difficult task is completing the homework
assignments, for they require a lot of self-discipline (not only for you,
but also for the faculty who are grading your homework). We are hoping that
students can catch up with the published schedule by January 1. Otherwise, it
is difficult to conduct conference calls, because everyone has not read the
same assignments. Please make a goal of completing the Judaism assignments and
starting Christianity by January 1.
The Keys to Communication
It is a great pleasure to have all of you embarking on the exciting adventure
of study and contemplation about humanity's spiritual journey toward a global
civilization. Gradually, our "community" is forming, you have already started
using the course material and have consulted with Dr. Stockman about it; a few
have gotten in touch with each other to start collaboration.
The aim of the Wilmette Institute is to use all available communication media
to facilitate your studies and to create an integrated and cooperative
One method is the conference calls in which many of you have participated.
Every few weeks, small groups of students are spending about an hour with an
instructor, discussing the topics they have been studying, sharing their
insights, and receiving clarification about difficult points.
Another communications medium is electronic mail. A number of you are taking
advantage of the discussions on "Global," the special discussion list created
on the Internet for the students and faculty of the program. This is a very
effective tool for promoting the exchange of ideas and sharing of information
and new understandings.
It would be helpful if more of you had access to this tool. Sometimes,
universities offer opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to acquire
Internet accounts. Or you may have a friend who will let you share his or her
computer. You might let it be known that your dearest wish for Intercalary Days
is an Internet account.
Finally, there is the U.S. mail. In order to ensure the uniformity of the
experience to the extent possible, we will mail, periodically, highlights of
the "Global" conversations to those students who are not on the Internet. We
will also use this newsletter as another tool to share as much as possible.
In addition, we hope that all of you know that you may call 708/733-3492 and
leave a message for us, even at night, if you have specific questions about
assignments. Someone will return your call as soon as possible.
We hope that, with the multiple modalities of communication, everyone will
have ample opportunities for receiving the needed assistance and guidance.
Please feel free to contact us in the way that is most convenient for you.
Financial Support Sought
In an effort to be able to provide the Bahá'í community
with programs that will serve our needs, the Wilmette Institute is looking
for financial support for the following four programs:
1. A student financial aid program. Such a fund will help
guarantee the Institute's racial, ethnic, and international diversity.
2. A curriculum development program. Most of the materials for the first
year of the pro-gram have been under development for five years. Materials for
the second, third, and fourth years need considerable development, and
potential faculty may need grants to devote the necessary time to the work.
3. A book acquisition program. The National Bahá'í
Library, the library of the Wilmette Institute, needs extra copies of some
Bahá'í books so that it can serve students adequately. It also
needs assistance for improving its facilities (such as its electronic card file
and check-out system).
4. Staff and program expansion programs. Grants of various sorts could
also assist the Wilmette Institute to expand its staff and programs.
If you know of anyone who might be interested and able to assist in financially
supporting the Wilmette Institute, please have them contact Dr. Iraj Ayman at
the Wilmette Institute (708/733-3501; Internet at email@example.com).
Also, if you require information about the scholarship monies available for
students and have not already received it, please contact Phyllis Medrano as
soon as possible. She will be happy to forward that information to you.
Telephone Area Codes to Change
Just to make things a little more complicated, the telephone company is
changing the "708" area codes in this region. Effective January 20, 1996, "847"
will be the area code needed to reach the Bahá'í National Center
offices. Be sure to adjust your telephone records accordingly!
Meet Two of Your Faculty Members:
Habib Riazati will be serving as one of your faculty members responsible
for teaching the subject of Islam, among other subjects. You will first notice
his input with your home study work. Many of the readings you have been
assigned were specifically chosen by him to begin to prepare you for further
instruction this summer.
Mr. Riazati is a computer scientist working at Hughes Aircraft Company
in Los Angeles. He has been privileged to attend the Institute for
Bahá'í Studies in Iran where he chose to work on linking the
writings of Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb with Islamic sources
and philosophical thoughts.
Mr. Riazati has recently been added to our GLOBAL network and will be available
to answer your questions via that medium. He will also be available to answer
questions submitted by phone (708/733-3492) or mail directed to Phyllis
Medrano, 536 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, IL 60091-1811.
The following message for you was received from Mr. Ramsey Zeine. Mr.
Zeine will be providing you with wonderful materials to help you incorporate
teaching the Faith into your daily lives. He will also be one of your primary
instructors this July.
"As you (the students) will soon find out, I am the only student in the
workshop sessions and you are all my teachers, as well as the teachers of each
other. This might sound at first as a bit of 'tarof',' but with time you will
find out that it is true. As facilitator, I suggest to you paths which lead to
action, and request that you share your experience. You are hopefully enriched
by the experience you gain, and enrich everyone else by sharing it. My role is,
by and large, to comment and encourage. In principle, there is no 'wrong'
answer. They are all 'right' from their own perspective. The wonderful thing
about this approach is that it is, with very few exceptions, a win-win
situation on all sides."
You will first notice Mr. Zeine's input with the December mailing. His material
"Accelerating the Dynamics of Spreading the Divine Fragrances," is wonderfully
inspiring and sure to be one of your favorite sections. He is looking forward
to receiving your homework and questions. For those of you with GLOBAL access,
he is on-line. Others may feel tree to forward their questions or comments via
regular mail or phone to Phyllis Medrano.
Institute for Bahá'í Studies Conferences in
The Institute for Bahá'í Studies was established by the National
Spiritual Assembly to foster scholarly study of the Bahá'í Faith.
It works closely with the Wilmette Institute. Students of the Wilmette
Institute are encouraged to come to all of its conferences, if possible.
January 26--28, 1996: The New World Order in Bahá'í
Perspective. The conference's purpose is to look at the
concept of a new world order--both the Bahá'í concept and those
of other organizations--and to explore them in order to understand better
humanity's future and the role of the Bahá'í community in it. The
conference themes were detailed on page 12 of the October 16 American
March 29--31, 1996: Irfan Colloquium. This is a seminar that will
examine criticisms of the Faith and ways to respond to them. Presentations on a
range of' issues are expected. There may also be presentations continuing last
year's theme, which was study of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. The conference is
cosponsored by the Institute for Bahá'í Studies and the Haj Mehdi
Arjmand Memorial Fund.
June 7--9, 1996: biennial History Conference. Presentations on all
aspects of Bahá'í history, but especially history of the
Bahá'í Faith in North America, are welcome. An international
attendance is expected.
All the conferences will start on a Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. and conclude
Sunday at noon. They will be held at the Bahá'í National Center
in Wilmette, Illinois, with hotel accommodation available at the North Shore
Hilton (please call them directly at 708/679-7000) for a special conference
rate of $65 per night (single and double occupancy) if you register two weeks
in advance. The registration fee ($60 for the New World Order Conference,
though the Wilmette Institute Students receive a 30% discount) includes all
food for the weekend. A special meeting will be planned for Wilmette Institute
students able to attend.
Everyone is welcome to attend these conferences. If you would like to offer a
presentation at any of them, send a 500-word abstract describing your proposal
to the following address: Ms. Lynnea Yancy, Research Office,
Bahá'í National Center, Wilmette, IL 60091; 708/733-3548 (phone):
708/733-3563 (FAX); firstname.lastname@example.org (e-mail).
"Received my incredible package today, just in time to take it
with me on the trip and do some reading on those long flights!!! Perfect. It is
a beautiful package, hats off to you all!!" --Nancy
"I have found that with each additional piece I read, that I gain a
more thorough understanding of the subject at hand. Each author uses their own
words to paint the picture and this helps me to 'see' it better."
"I am thoroughly enjoying the learning. I can't get enough!! I don't
believe I have ever been so 'thirsty' in my life. So my answer to your question
is that yes, there is a lot of reading and the questions require a lot of
reflection, it is time consuming but personally, I am loving it." --Kate
"I am enjoying the course and loving the readings. I am not having any
real problem with reading retention, but I feel that my writing skills are
terribly rusty because I have been out of school for many years. I think the
homework is taking me longer than it should. It is taking me extra time to
express myself well." -Alice
"As pioneers we try by all means to organize study classes and
deepenings but due to various reasons one is seldom able to either organize an
intensive study program or due to unavailability to participate in one. Also
the classes which at times are organized are understandably held on a level
which is most beneficial for the local believers and therefore often cover time
and again the same level. This leads to an intense thirst for a deeper and more
intense knowledge and to be part of a program which can satisfy this need.
Being part of such a program is also of more value than personal study, as one
is stimulated to adhere to a schedule.
"As I arrived in Africa during the same week that I finished my studies I have
never been able to participate in such a class, all my visits to Europe were in
order to see my family and no time could be set aside for classes there. It is
for the above reasons that I am so eager and grateful that I can participate."
"I am very happy to be a part of this new and historical program. I
look forward to getting to know each of you throughout our time here and
beyond. I received the first materials about two weeks ago and am happy with
the content and organization. The quantity of material we will be covering is
quite amazing." Ruhiyyih
Do You Have a Friend?
We are still enrolling students in the second semester of this
year's program. We have divided the home study program into two halves; the
second semester starts with the study of Islam at the end of January. We plan
to admit a new group of students at that point. They will attend the summer
program with the students who started in the fall of 1995 and will be able to
complete the fall 1995 work in the fall of 1996.
The Wilmette Institute appreciates your help in recruiting students. No doubt
you have already mentioned the program to your friends. You may encourage them
to consider very seriously the advantages of starting the program this year. It
will enable them to study with other students locally, thereby creating support
groups. And they will have the privilege of being among the Wilmette
Institute's historic first cohort of students.
If you have friends who might be interested in joining the program, urge them
to give Phyllis Medrano a call at 708/733-3492. Or, give Phyllis a call
yourself and request copies of our new brochure, so that you can give them out
to friends and contacts. We have also provided a special ad you may share with
your district newsletter editor, to spread the word of the availability of the
Wilmette Institute program, Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization.
One of our wonderful students has offered the following study
"I take each unit, as I'm ready to study it, and its required readings out of
the big binder and put it in a 1" binder. This allows it to be more 'portable'
and also less daunting in appearance. In addition, I type all the questions
into a computer document. That way I can add to my answers, as well as go back
and review what I've written."
This lovely student also made the comment that she thought the lessons might
get easier as she progressed through t
he Handbook! As you continue to hone your
study skills, the completion of the work might get a little easier, but any
hopes of the coursework being simpler is only wishful thinking. No pain, no
If you have tips to share, please forward them to the newsletter c/o Phyllis
We are counting on you to let us know now to best serve your needs. if you
have any suggestions for making this newsletter more helpful and informative,
please forward them to Phyllis Medrano at your earliest convenience. To assist
you as you continue your studies, our aim is to provide you with a concise
newsletter packed with useful information.
The Wilmette Institute was established by the National
Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States in 1995 to
offer academic and professional programs. The Institute meets its financial
needs through grants and tuition fees and is not supported by the National
Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization is a
four-year, university level, study program offered by the Wilmette
Institute. Its aims and objectives are to assist the friends to gain
systematic, in-depth knowledge of the Bahá'í Faith and to develop
the skills and know-how for propagation and promotion of the teachings of
Bahá'u'lláh. The program consists of two components: 1) eleven
months of self-study each year and 2) a one-month residential study session to
be held at National-Louis University (located within walking distance of the
Bahá'í House of Worship in Wilmette) each July. The program has
been developed by professionally accomplished scholars of the Faith; the
residential portion will feature focused sessions presented by this faculty.
The Wilmette Institute recognizes the sacrifices the friends will have to make
to attend the residential program. However, it feels that a month of
interaction between the faculty and students is necessary to facilitate
interaction among the students and teachers and to develop skills that are an
essential element of the program.
The Spiritual Foundations for a Global Civilization program is
organized in a modular way to allow for the continuous enrollment of students.
Student may enroll in the program during either of two enrollment periods each
year (September and February). Because the modules are designed as independent
units of study, they may be taken in any order. Within the next few years,
modules offered will include the study of the nature of religion, the basic
principles of Bahá'í theology, the Bahá'í way of
life, the structure and governance of the Bahá'í community,
global civilization, Bahá'í history, Bahá'í
scriptures, and programs designed specifically to assist the friends in the
development of skills necessary for teaching the Faith effectively.
You are never too far away to join the Wilmette Institute! Our first
group of students live throughout the United States and abroad and began the
home-study element of the first module in October. The first portion of a
multi-volume Student Handbook contained approximately 1,000 pages of material,
including program details, assignments, exercises, reading lists,
bibliographies, maps, and other reference materials. In addition, students with
e-mail capability have access to an electronic network entitled GLOBAL, which
facilitates individual and group communication among faculty, students, and
Wilmette Institute staff. Each month telephone conferences are conducted for
assigned groups of students, to provide direct access to the faculty member(s)
responsible for the material being studied and to fellow students.
The Wilmette Institute is now accepting applications for students
interested in entering a period of study that will begin in February. This
group of students will have their eleven-month study period extend from
February 1996 through January 1997, with the month of residential study being
required in July 1996, along with the students already in progress.
The Wilmette Institute is accepting applications from the friends who
would like to be considered for faculty positions or be involved in the
development of special programs. Applications for volunteer support staff will
be entertained, as will any financial contributions, which will be used to set
up a scholarship program for students in need.
For more information, or to receive an informational packet, contact:
Please feel free to share the above article with your District
536 Sheridan Road
Wilmette, IL 60091-1811