Here is a talk of Mr. Hooper Dunbar (starts at 15:10)
I am not sure that I understood one part of his speech correctly. I’ve heard him saying that Baha’u’llah said that we are no longer obliged to say obligatory prayers. Is it true?
I have listened to Mr. Hooper Dunbar's presentation and in paraphrasing from the Writings he described the obligatory prayer and the fast as both being two important pillars. He did however state that 'Abdu'l-Bahá explained that there are two reasons where one is exempt from the obligatory prayer. Firstly if a friend is so ill they cannot even get out of bed and secondly if the friend is mentally ill. He also explained, as Gnat has pointed out too, that one is exempt from obligatory prayer at the age of seventy. He even offered a rather humorous example of this when serving the Universal House of Justice as a trustee. So your observation is correct in part, but it is worth following the rest of his presentation to place this into the context of serving the Faith.
Mr. Dunbar encouraged participants to read the following material in relationship to prayer
During his presentation Mr. Dunbar made reference to two important qualities. Firstly to persevere and secondly self-sacrifice. He also drew an interesting insight into three important elements around sacrifice. The sacrifice of money, time and person. Firstly he explained if anyone was not happy with the way Bahá'í Institutions spend the Bahá'í fund, either write a letter to the National Spiritual Assembly or vote for new trustees. However the friends are not required to decide how the fund is spent, their role is to give. They should strive to be so detached from the way the Bahá'í fund is spent they should not even care if the money is burnt. Secondly, with regards to time, believers need to learn how to sacrifice so they create time. Thirdly there is a need to sacrifice ones ambitions. In paraphrasing the text, he stated that the greatest veils in life are ego and passion. They prevent us from seeing the light of the faith. After using a few analogies of how the believers can become transformed, he reminded us that any service offered to God belongs to Him, not the one that provided the service.
He closes with recommending the following compilation:
This was a quality presentation for an elderly gentleman. It was well timed in its delivery. At it heart Mr. Dunbar conveyed the spirit of what it is to be a Bahá'í along with helping the friends to appreciate some of the basic challenges they will face within their lives and how they might overcome them.
"However the friends are not required to decide how the fund is spent, their role is to give. They should strive to be so detached from the way the Bahá'í fund is spent they should not even care if the money is burnt."
I can imagine the reactions among the audience: "Smile, smile. So true. Have another biscuit!"
Yes, it made me chuckle too. I am quite happy in the knowledge that poor judgements will be made and resources will be wasted with some decisions Bahá'í Institutions take. However, as I am sure you are aware, if charity directors intentionally destroy donated monies it can actually be a criminal offence within some countries. He was of course speaking figuratively here with a sense of humour. But as I had never heard it expressed like this before I felt it was worth sharing with the readers here. Glad that you picked up on this too.
I am reminded of Shoghi Effendi's words: "The Administrative Order of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh must in no wise be regarded as purely democratic in character inasmuch as the basic assumption which requires all democracies to depend fundamentally upon getting their mandate from the people is altogether lacking in this Dispensation. In the conduct of the administrative affairs of the Faith, in the enactment of the legislation necessary to supplement the laws of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, the members of the Universal House of Justice, it should be borne in mind, are not, as Bahá'u'lláh's utterances clearly imply, responsible to those whom they represent, nor are they allowed to be governed by the feelings, the general opinion, and even the convictions of the mass of the faithful, or of those who directly elect them. They are to follow, in a prayerful attitude, the dictates and promptings of their conscience. They may, indeed they must, acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case presented for their consideration, but must reserve for themselves the right of an unfettered decision. "God will verily inspire them with whatsoever He willeth," is Bahá'u'lláh's incontrovertible assurance. They, and not the body of those who either directly or indirectly elect them, have thus been made the recipients of the divine guidance which is at once the life-blood and ultimate safeguard of this Revelation. Moreover, he who symbolizes the hereditary principle in this Dispensation has been made the interpreter of the words of its Author, and ceases consequently, by virtue of the actual authority vested in him, to be the figurehead invariably associated with the prevailing systems of constitutional monarchies."
(Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh, February 8, 1934; The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 153)