What is a Five Year Plan?

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Ever so often, we’ll be putting up posts for our ‘Common Questions Series’. As the name suggests, these are questions about the Faith that we often get. You know those ones – where you kinda, sorta, maybe know the answer but aren’t sure if you know enough to give the asker a full response? Yeah, those ones. Baha’i Blog has decided to make a collection of those questions, which will hopefully be as helpful to you, our readers, as it is to us!

Every Ridvan, the Universal House of Justice addresses a message to Baha’is around the world looking at where we – as an international community – are in our attempts to execute the latest Plan. This Ridvan, the international Baha’i community entered the second of four consecutive Five Year Plans. Having watched the first Five Year Plan unfold from 2006 to 2011, we stand at an important point in history as we enter the next phase of this exciting journey towards a New World Order, in which we see Baha’u’llah’s vision for the unification of mankind realised.

The Five Year Plan highlights one of the most crucial principles underlying the life of a Baha’i – that of a twofold moral purpose. As a Baha’i, it is crucial to focus on spiritual growth and the acquisition of virtues. However, we are also cautioned not to focus solely on our own spiritual development in a manner that is removed from a consideration of the context in which we live. That is to say that our efforts to acquire spiritual perfections must go hand in hand with our efforts to serve humanity and contribute to the advancement of civilization.

As spiritual beings, we all have this twofold moral purpose. To focus on one aspect while neglecting the other leads to imbalance and prevents us from realising our true life’s purpose. Efforts to acquire spiritual perfection in a vacuum, without engaging in the affairs of society around us, leave us prone to acts of ego. Conversely, efforts to transform society without any regard to our individual spiritual growth will always be misguided and ineffective. The Five Year Plan encapsulates the principle of the twofold moral purpose perfectly by representing a united effort by individuals who recognise the importance of constantly developing their own spiritual qualities by combining their efforts to serve humanity together.

We asked some of our readers to share their reflections on being a part of the next Five Year Plan. One of our readers has shared the following reflections in response to reading the 28 December 2010 message from the House, highlighting the momentous historical significance of this period in time.

“The training wheels are off!”, I thought to myself after reading the new message from the House. I was out of town at a conference and upon receiving the 16-page document at 11pm, I was impelled to read it despite my waning concentration and sand-papery eyelids. I felt in awe and incredibly privileged as I read the contents of the message.

As I moved from one paragraph to the next, I realised that I was gaining access to hidden insights and witnessing subtle processes that historians of the future will surely write about and describe as “society-building power[s]” shaping the future world civilization. As with all great movements in history, there are always a few lucky ones called upon to champion its mission.

There are no formulas; no shortcuts. We now know what the elements of a programme of growth are but we have to call upon our powers of imagination, creativity, innovation and collaboration to make it a reality within our diverse clusters. We have to become distinguished as a community of skilled learners.

All elements are now in place, understood better than ever through increasing experience. Now the training wheels are off and we have to build and consolidate a capacity-building goal – 5000 programmes of growth!

The sentiments expressed here really resonate with me – this truly is an exciting time to be alive!

How do you feel about the new Five Year Plan? Which parts of the 28 December message from the House struck you the most? We hope to hear from you in the comments.

Happy 12th day of Ridvan, dear readers!


About the Author

In her professional life, Preethi has dabbled in various combinations of education, community development and law. At heart, though, she's an overgrown child who thinks the world is one giant playground. She's currently on a quest to make learning come alive for young people and to bring the world's stories and cultures to them, with educational resources from One Story Learning.

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