Saturday, July 18, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
ASKED BY THEOLOGIANS OF PARIS
Sunday Evening, February 17, 1913 — Pasteur Monnier's Theological Seminary, Paris (The audience was composed of professors, clergy and theological students)
PASTEUR MONNIER: We are very happy to find amongst us one who has come on the part of God and has brought to us a divine message.
ABDUL BAHA: One endowed with the gift of hearing gets the mysteries of God from all things and all creation conveys to him the divine message.
PASTEUR MONNIER: If you will permit us, we want to ask a question: As we are students of theology and are in the rank of the clergy, we would be interested to know your belief about Christ — who he was and what he was.
ABDUL BAHA: Our belief in regard to Christ is exactly what is recorded in the New Testament; however, we elucidate this matter and do not speak literally or in a manner based merely on blind belief. For instance, it is recorded in the Gospel of St. John, "In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God." The majority of Christians accept this matter literally, but we give a logical explanation that no one need find occasion to reject.
The Christians have made this statement about "the word," the foundation of the trinity; but philosophers state that the trinity as regards the identity of divinity is impossible.
We explain this subject as follows: By the "word" we mean that creation with its infinite forms is like unto letters and the individual members of humanity are likewise like unto letters. A letter individually has no meaning, no independent significance, but the station of Christ is the station of the word. That is why we say Christ is the "word" — a complete significance. The universal bestowal of divinity is manifest in Christ. It is obvious that the evolution of other souls is approximate, or only a part of the whole, but the perfections of the Christ are universal, or the whole. The reality of Christ is the collective center of all the independent virtues and infinite significances.
For example, this lamp sheds light and the moon illumines the night with its silvery beams, but neither light is self created.
His Holiness the Christ is like unto the sun; his light issued forth from his own identity. He received it not from another person — therefore we give him the comprehensive title of the "word." By this we mean the all-comprehending reality and the depository of the infinite divine characteristics. This "word" has an honorary beginning and not a beginning of time. For instance, we say this person has precedence over all. This precedence comes to him through the station and honor which he now holds in life, but it is not a precedence of time. In reality the "word" has neither beginning nor ending. The letters of the "word" are those qualities which appeared in Christ and not his physical body. These attributes were from God — like unto the rays of the sun reflected in a clear mirror. The rays, the light and the heat of the sun are its qualities which have become manifest in the mirror. It is evident that these qualities were ever with God, even at this time they are with him, they are inseparable from him because divinity is not subject to division. Division is a sign of imperfection and God is the perfect one.
It is clear that the attributes of divinity are co-equal and co-existent with the essence. In that station there is absolute unity. This in brief is the exposition of the station of the Christ.
PASTEUR MONNIER: What is the similarity of the cause of Christ to that of BAHA'O'LLAH, or — what relation do they hold toward each other?
ABDUL BAHA: The foundation of the religion of God is one. The same basis which was laid by Christ and later on was forgotten, has been renewed by His Holiness BAHA'O'LLAH. Each divine revelation is divided into two parts. The first part is essential and belongs to the eternal world. It is the exposition of significances and realities. It is the expression of the love of God, the knowledge of God. This is one in all the religions, unchangeable and immutable. The second part is not eternal; it deals with practical life, transactions and business and changes according to the evolution of man and the requirements of the time of each prophet.
These laws are the reflex on this plane of the divine law and symbolize a medium for turning the thoughts of humanity toward justice. The mundane laws change as the horizon of man extends, till it encompass the universe.
For example, during the days of His Holiness Moses, the foundation and the origin of the religion of God spelled morality and that was not changed in the Christian dispensation, but certain differences crept in through the change of the second part of the religion. During the Mosaic period the hand of a person was cut off in punishment of a small theft; there was the law of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. This was according to the spirit of the age, but as these laws were not expedient in the time of Christ, they were abrogated. Likewise divorce
had become so universal that there remained no fixed laws of marriage, therefore His Holiness Christ forbade divorce.
According to the exigencies of the time, His Holiness Moses revealed ten laws for capital punishment. It was impossible at that time to protect the community and preserve social security without these severe measures, for the children of Israel lived in the wilderness of Tah, where there were no established courts of justice and no penitentiaries. But this code of conduct was not needed in the time of Christ. The history of the second part of religion is unimportant, because it belongs to the customs of this life only; but the foundation of the religion of God is one and His Holiness BAHA'O'LLAH has renewed that foundation.
The cause of Christ was wholly spiritual. He changed nothing save the Sabbath day, certain laws of conduct and the law of divorce.
All the precepts of Christ deal with the knowledge of God, with the oneness of the world of humanity, the moral relations between the hearts and spiritual susceptibilities. His Holiness BAHA'O'LLAH created these merciful sentiments in the most complete form and deposited them in the hearts of men. This is in keeping with the teaching of Christ, because it is the reality and reality changes not. Is it possible to say that divine unity is divisible, or the knowledge of God, the oneness of the world of
humanity, universal justice, the solidarity of the human race — are they ever subject to transformation?
No, I declare by God they are immutable, for they are the reality.
PASTEUR MONNIER: What is the relationship of Christ and BAHA'O'LLAH with God?
ABDUL BAHA: His Holiness Christ said: "The Father is in me." This we must understand through logical and scientific evidences, for if religious principles do not accord with science and reason, they do not inspire the heart with confidence and assurance.
It is said that once John of Chrysostom was walking along the seashore thinking over the question of the trinity and trying to reconcile it with finite reason; his attention was attracted to a boy sitting on the shore putting water into a cup. Approaching him, he said, "My child, what art thou doing?" "I am trying to put the sea into this cup," was the answer. "How foolish art thou," said John, "in trying to do the impossible." The child replied, "Thy work is stranger than mine, for thou art laboring to bring within the grasp of human intellect the conception of the trinity."
Let us, free from past tradition, investigate the reality of this matter. What is the meaning of the father and the son?
This fatherhood and sonship are allegorical and symbolical. The Messianic reality is like
unto a mirror through which the sun of divinity has become resplendent. If this mirror expresses "The light is in me" — it is sincere in its claim; therefore Jesus was truthful when he said, "The Father is in me."
The sun in the sky and the sun in the mirror are one, are they not? — and yet we see there are apparently two suns.
The Jews were expecting the coming of the Messiah, lamenting day and night, saying: "O God, send to us our deliverer!" But as they walked in the path of dogmas, rather than reality, when the Messiah appeared they denied him. Had they been investigators of reality, they would not have crucified — but would have recognized him instantly.
PASTEUR MONNIER: Is the unification of religion possible? If so, when and how and through what channel will it be realized?
ABDUL BAHA: When the devotees of religion cast aside their dogmas and ritualism, the unification of religion will appear on the horizon and the verities of the holy books will become unveiled. In these days superstitions and misunderstandings are rife; when these are relinquished the sun of unity shall dawn.
When in San Francisco I was invited to speak in a Jewish synagogue. I said, "For about two thousand years, between you and the Christians, there has ever existed dark superstitions and misunderstandings which have blinded the eyes.
You conceive that His Holiness the Christ was the enemy of Moses, the destroyer of the laws of the Pentateuch, the abrogator of the commandments of the Bible. Investigate and observe that Christ appeared at a time when according to your own historians the laws of the Torah were forgotten; the foundation of religion and faith was shaken. Nebuchadnezzar had come, burning the context of the whole Bible and taking into captivity many Jewish tribes. Alexander the Great came for the second time, and Titus, the Roman general, devastated the land for the third time, killed the Jews, pillaged their property and imprisoned their children.
"At such an hour and under such gloomy clouds, His Holiness the Christ appeared and said, 'The Torah is the divine book; Moses is the man of God; Aaron, Solomon, Isaiah, Zechariah and all the Israelitish prophets are valid and true.' Throughout all regions he spread the Old Testament which for fifteen hundred years had not been sent out of Palestine. Were it not for Christ the name of Moses and his book would not have reached America; for during fifteen hundred years the Torah had been translated but once. It was Christ's seal of approval which caused it to be translated into six hundred languages. Now be just, was Christ the friend or the enemy of Moses?
"You say that he abrogated the Torah, but I say he promulgated the Torah, the ten commandments and all the questions which belong to
its moral world. He changed but the following: that the punishment for a small theft should not be to cut off the hand of the offender; if a person blind another, he must not be blinded, or if he break another's teeth, his teeth must not be broken. Is it justice nowadays to establish the archaic laws of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? Christ changed only that part of the Mosaic religion which did not accord with the spirit of his time. He had no desire to abolish the Torah.
"Is it not true that the Christians believe that Moses was the prophet of God and all the Israelitish seers were the messengers of God and the Bible the book of God? Has this belief of theirs harmed their religion? If you say from your heart that Christ is the word of God, then all these differences will cease. The persecutions of the last two thousand years have been on account of the fact that you were not willing to proclaim these few words. I hope that it is proven to you that Moses had no better friend than His Holiness the Christ."
Today the enmity and rivalry existing between the religions are over mere words. It is an established fact that the followers of all the religions believe in a reality, the benefits of which are universal; which reality is a medium between God and man. The Jews call that reality Moses, the Christians Christ, the Mussulmans Mohammed, the Buddhists Buddha and the Zoroastrians
Zoroaster. Now mark well that none of these religionists have ever seen the founders; they have only heard his name. Could they overlook these names they would at once realize that all believe in a perfect reality which is an intermediary between the Almighty and the creatures.
Should you speak to a Jew about the medium or channel between God and man, without referring to any particular name or person, he would say, "Yes, this is right, but I say the name of this mediator is Moses." If you give the exposition of this divine philosophy to the followers of each religion they will agree with you in the abstract, but they will stick to the names of their own prophets and arise in contention and strife over these names. The Jew believes in Christ, though he knows it not, and is quibbling over the mere name.
There have been wars and rumors of war amongst the people of the world for many thousand years; much innocent blood has been shed, many kingdoms and empires have been laid waste. Is it not enough?
Religion should be the means of good fellowship and love. It must upraise the standard of harmony and solidarity. If religion is conducive to hatred and enmity, its existence is harmful to the welfare of the community.
His Holiness the Christ sacrificed his life, not that people might believe the doctrine that he is the word of God; nay, rather, he yearned to
bestow the consciousness of continued existence. That is why he said, "Jesus, the son of man, is come to give life to the world."
His aim has been entirely obliterated and the doctrine of the father, son and Holy Spirit has been fabricated. Christ said, "If one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." Is there any relation between this commandment and the bloody events of the nations of today?
The religious dissension between the Catholics and Protestants has caused a deluge of bloodshed. Has this any bearing on the statement of Christ when he addressed Peter: "Put thy sword into the scabbard"? When we hold fast to the foundation of religion, differences will disappear.
PASTEUR MONNIER: Is your aim to found a new religion?
ABDUL BAHA: Our aim is to free the foundation of religion from its moss grown dogmas; to dispel the black impenetrable fog of creed so that the regions may be flooded and illumined. May these foul clouds never return; may the rays of the eternal sun encircle all countries, for verily the resplendent sun of reality shines from age to age. (Abdul Baha arose.)
PASTEUR MONNIER: Our hope is likewise the spread of such ideals of unity, peace and concord. We hope to be your co-workers and co-laborers in this field.
ABDUL BAHA: May that unity be established between us that is not ended by separation.
(Abdul Baha went into the library where several members of the clergy and professors sought his presence.) One of them said:
"I desire to express the deepest gratitude and pleasure on the part of those present. What you have said is in truth our aim which is the establishment of universal peace and brotherhood."
ABDUL BAHA: Praise be to God that our aims and hopes are one, but we must strive to make this purpose realized.
A PROFESSOR: The International Congress of Religions will be opened in Paris during the month of July. We invite you to take part in the proceedings of that congress.
ABDUL BAHA: It is nearly two years since I left Haifa. I must return. After forty years of confinement and two years of continuous travel my powers are exhausted.
PROFESSOR: The invitation of the congress will be sent to you and we hope you will write a message to be read during the session.
ABDUL BAHA: God willing.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
(She said) "I seemed to be in a marvelous garden,where every type of rare and beautiful flower wasin bloom. Moving about among the flowers was ayoung girl. She seemed to be a in a state ofinexpressible joy over the loveliness of her garden.Her voice, as she chanted, was full of the ecstasy ofa complete happiness. She listened to the song ofbirds, and inhaled the odor of the flowers as thoughshe were filling her soul with their fragrance. Suddenlyshe turned towards me, as though conscious thatsomeone was there beside herself. The young girlfacing me with an enchanting smile was your mother,in the full beauty of youth."
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
“The love and effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered, “but no one person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by a Council representing all countries, and must contain words from different languages. It will be governed by the simplest rules, and there will be no exceptions; neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent letters. Everything indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are hundreds of names for the camel! In the schools of each nation the mother tongue will be taught, as well as the revised Universal Language.”
The same questioner said: “I have read much of Tolstoy and I see a parallel between his teachings and yours. In one of his books he speaks of the Enigma of Life, and describes how life is wasted in our endeavour to find the Key. But Tolstoy goes on to say: ‘There is a man in Persia who holds the secret.’”
“Yes,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “I received a letter from Tolstoy, and in it he said that he wished to write a book upon Bahá’u’lláh.”
“There are no solitaries and no hermits among the Bahá’ís. Man must work with his fellows. Everyone should have some trade, or art or profession, be he rich or poor, and with this he must serve humanity. This service is acceptable as the highest form of worship.”
When asked if he did not find the manners of the English rude and awkward, compared with those of the East, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said he had not felt this. As a nation increases in spirituality, the the manners become different.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá laid great stress on Education. He said “The girl’s education is of more importance today than the boy’s, for she is the mother of the future race. It is the duty of all to look after the children. Those without children should, if possible, make themselves responsible for the education of a child.”
The condition of the destitute in the country villages as well as in London impressed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá greatly. In an earnest talk with the Rector of a Parish, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “I find England awake; there is spiritual life here. But your poor are so very poor! This should not be. On the one hand you have wealth, and great luxury; on the other hand men and women are living in the extremities of hunger and want. This great contrast of life is one of the blots on the civilization of this enlightened age.
“You must turn attention more earnestly to the betterment of the conditions of the poor. Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you are concerned is to you as a member of your family. Regard each one either as a father, or as a brother, or as a sister, or as a mother, or as a child. If you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish, you will know what to do. This is the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh.”
When asked if it would be always necessary for prophets to come from time to time—“would not the world in the course of events through progress reach to a full realization of God?”—‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “Mankind needs a universal motive power to quicken it. The inspired messenger who is directly assisted by the power of God brings about universal results. Bahá’u’lláh rose as a light in Persia and now that light is going out to the whole world.”
“Is this what is meant by the Second Coming of Christ?” “Christ is an Expression of the Divine Reality, the Single Essence and Heavenly Entity, which hath no beginning or ending. It has appearance, arising, and manifestation and setting in each one of the Cycles.”
Those who have been with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá notice how, often, after speaking earnestly with people, he will suddenly turn and walk away to be alone. At such times no one follows him. On this occasion, when he finished speaking and went out through the orchard gate into the village, all were struck with his free and wonderful walk which has been described by one of our American friends as that of a shepherd or a king.
As he passed along the ragged children clustered about him by dozens, the boys saluting him as they had been taught in school, showing how instinctively they felt the greatness of his presence. Most noticeable was the silence of even the roughest men when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared. One poor tramp exclaimed “He is a good man,” and added, “Ay, he’s suffered!”
He took particular interest in the sick, crippled and poorly nourished children. Mothers carrying their little ones followed him, and a friend explained that this great visitor had come over the seas from the Holy Land where Jesus was born.
All day long people of every condition gathered about the gate for a chance of seeing him, and more than sixty drove or cycled to Vanners to see him, many wishing to question him on some special subject. Among them were the clergy of several denominations, a head master of a boys’ public school, a member of Parliament, a doctor, a famous political writer, the vice-chancellor of a University, several journalists, a well known poet, and a magistrate from London.
He will long be remembered as he sat in the bow window in the afternoon sunshine, his arm round a very ragged but very happy little boy, who had come to ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for sixpence for his money box and for his invalid mother, whilst round him in the room were gathered men and women discussing Education, Socialism, the first Reform Bill, and the relation of submarines and wireless telegraphy to the new era on which man is entering.
During the evening a young betrothed couple in the village, who had read some of the Bahá’í books, begged permission to come to him. They entered shyly, the man, led by the girl. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to greet them, and made them take a place in the circle. He talked earnestly to them upon the sacredness of marriage, the beauty of a real union, and the importance of the little child and its education. Before they left he blessed them, and touched their hair and foreheads with a Persian perfume.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned with a look of great joy and said with an impressive gesture: “The bounty and power of God is limitless for each human soul. Consider what was the quickening power of the Christ when He was on earth. Look at His disciples! They were poor and uncultured men. Out of the rough fisherman He made the great Peter, and out of the poor village girl of Magdala He made one who is a power in all the world today. Many queens have reigned who are remembered by their dates in history, and nothing more is known of them. But Mary the Magdalene is greater than them all. It was she whose love strengthened the disciples when their faith was failing. What she did for the world cannot be measured. See what a divine power was enkindled in her by the power of God!”
Farewell words of ‘Abdu’l-BaháO NOBLE friends and seekers for the Kingdom of God! About sixty years ago in the time when the fire of war was blazing among the nations of the world, and bloodshed was considered an honour to mankind; in a time when the carnage of thousands stained the earth; when children were rendered fatherless; when fathers were without sons and mothers were spent with weeping; when the darkness of inter-racial hatred and animosity seemed to envelope mankind and blot out the divine light; when the wafting of the holy breath of God seemed to be cut off—in that time Bahá’u’lláh rose like a shining star from the horizon of Persia, inspired with the message of Peace and of Brotherhood among men.
He brought the light of guidance to the world; He kindled the fire of love and revealed the great reality of the True Beloved. He sought to destroy the foundations of religious and racial prejudice and of political rivalry.
He likened the world of humanity to a tree, and all the nations to its branches and the people to its leaves, buds and fruits.
His mission was to change ignorant fanaticism into Universal love, to establish in the minds of His followers the basis of the unity of humanity and to bring about in practice the equality of mankind. He declared that all men were equal under the mercy and bounty of God.
Then was the door of the Kingdom set wide and the light of a new heaven on earth revealed unto seeing eyes.
Yet the whole Bahá’u’lláh’s life was spent in the midst of great trial and cruel tyranny. In Persia He was thrown into prison, put into chains, and lived constantly under the menace of the sword. He was scorned and scourged.
When He was about thirty years old He was exiled to Baghdád, and from Baghdád to Constantinople, and from there to Adrianople and lastly to the prison of Akká.
Yet under chains and from His cell He succeeded in spreading His cause, and uplifting the banner of the oneness of humanity.
Now, God be praised, we see the light of Love shining in the East and in the West; and the tent of fellowship is raised in the midst of all the peoples for the drawing together of all hearts and souls.
The call of the Kingdom has been sounded, and the annunciation of the world’s need for Universal Peace has enlightened the world’s conscience.
My hope is that through the zeal and ardour of the pure of heart, the darkness of hatred and difference will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity shall shine; this world shall become a new world; things material shall become the mirror of the divine; human hearts shall meet and embrace each other; the whole world become as a man’s native country and the different races be counted as one race.
Then disputes and differences will vanish, and the Divine Beloved be revealed on this earth.
As the East and the West are illumined by one sun, so all races, nations, and creeds shall be seen as the servants of the One God. The whole earth is one home, and all peoples, did they but know it, are bathed in the oneness of God’s mercy. God created all. He gives sustenance to all. He guides and trains all under the shadow of his bounty. We must follow the example God Himself gives us, and do away with all disputations and quarrels.
Praise be to God! the signs of friendship are appearing, and as a proof of this I, today, coming from the East, have met in this London of the West with extreme kindness, regard and love, and I am deeply thankful and happy. I shall never forget this time I am spending with you.
Forty years I endured in a Turkish prison. Then in 1908 the Young Turks “Committee of Union and Progress” shook the gates of despotism and set all prisoners free, myself among them. I pray that blessing may be upon all who work for Union and Progress.
In the future untrue reports will be spread regarding Bahá’u’lláh in order to hinder the spread of Truth. I tell you this, that you may be awake and prepared.
I leave you with prayer that all the beauty of the Kingdom may be yours. In deep regret at our separation, I bid you good-bye.
The translation of the valedictory having been read by Professor Sadler, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá closed the meeting by giving his blessing in undulating rhythmic tones.
By the time these lines appear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás will have left our shores, but the memory of his gracious personality is a permanent possession. His influence will be felt for many days to come, and has already done much to promote that union of East and West for which many have long yearned.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
'Abdu'l-Bahá: the Center of the Covenant
On November 29, 1921, ten thousand people--Jews, Christians, and Muslims from all persuasions and denominations--gathered on Mount Carmel in the Holy Land to mourn the passing of One who was eulogized as the essence of "Virtue and Wisdom, of Knowledge and Generosity."1 On that occasion, `Abdu'l-Bahá--Bahá'u'lláh's Son and chosen successor--was described by a Jewish leader as a "living example of self-sacrifice," by a Christian orator as One who led humanity to the "Way of Truth," and by a prominent Muslim leader as a "pillar of peace" and the embodiment of "glory and greatness."2 His funeral, according to a Western observer, brought together a great throng "sorrowing for His death, but rejoicing also for His life." 3
Throughout the Occident and the Orient, `Abdu'l-Bahá was known as an ambassador of peace, a champion of justice, and the leading exponent of a new Faith. Through a series of epoch-making travels across North America and Europe, `Abdu'l-Bahá--by word and example--proclaimed with persuasiveness and force the essential principles of His Father's religion. Affirming that "Love is the most great law" that is the foundation of "true civilization," and that the "supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity" among all its peoples, `Abdu'l-Bahá reached out to leaders and the meek alike, to every soul who crossed His path.4,5
An American commentator wrote,
He found a large and sympathetic audience waiting to greet Him personally and to receive from His own lips His loving and spiritual message.... Beyond the words spoken there was something indescribable in His personality that impressed profoundly all who came into His presence. The dome-like head, the patriarchal beard, the eyes that seemed to have looked beyond the reach of time and sense, the soft yet clearly penetrating voice, the translucent humility, the never failing love,--but above all, the sense of power mingled with gentleness that invested His whole being with a rare majesty of spiritual exaltation that both set Him apart, and yet brought Him near to the lowliest soul,--it was all this, and much more that can never be defined, that have left with His many ... friends, memories that are ineffaceable and unspeakably precious. 6
`Abdu'l-Bahá in Paris in 1912.
Yet, however magnetic His personality or penetrating His insights into the human condition, such characteristics cannot adequately capture `Abdu'l-Bahá's unique station in religious history. In the words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, `Abdu'l-Bahá was the "Trust of God," "a shelter for all mankind," "the most great Favor," and God's "ancient and immutable Mystery."7 The Bahá'í writings further affirm that "in the person of `Abdu'l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized."8
The question of religious succession has been crucial to all faiths. Failure to resolve this question has inevitably led to acrimony and division. The ambiguity surrounding the true successors of Jesus and Muhammad, for example, led to differing interpretations of sacred scripture and deep discord within both Christianity and Islam. However, Bahá'u'lláh prevented schism and established an unassailable foundation for His Faith through the provision of His will and testament, entitled "The Book of My Covenant." He wrote: "When the ocean of My presence hath ebbed and the Book of My Revelation is ended, turn your faces toward Him Whom God hath purposed, Who hast branched from this Ancient Root. The object of this sacred verse is none other except the Most Mighty Branch [`Abdu'l-Bahá]."9
`Abdu'l-Bahá as a young man.
As the authorized interpreter of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings, `Abdu'l-Bahá became the "living mouth of the Book, the expounder of the Word."11 Without `Abdu'l-Bahá, the enormous creative power of Bahá'u'lláh's revelation could not have been transmitted to humanity, nor its import fully comprehended. He elucidated the teachings of His Father's Faith, amplified its doctrines, and delineated the central features of its administrative institutions. He was the unerring guide and architect of a rapidly expanding Bahá'í community. In addition, Bahá'u'lláh vested in `Abdu'l-Bahá "the virtues of perfection in personal and social behavior, that humanity may have an enduring model to emulate."12 As the perfect Exemplar of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings and the Pivot of His Covenant, `Abdu'l-Bahá became "the incorruptible medium for applying the Word to practical measures for the raising up of a new civilization." 13
In retrospect, it became clear that Bahá'u'lláh had carefully prepared `Abdu'l-Bahá to succeed Him. He was born on May 23, 1844, the very night that the Báb had declared the beginning of a new religious cycle in history. As a child, He suffered along with His Father during the persecutions against the Bábis. `Abdu'l-Bahá was eight years old when Bahá'u'lláh was first imprisoned for His role as a leading exponent and defender of the Bábi Faith. He accompanied Bahá'u'lláh throughout His long exile from Persia to the capital of the Ottoman empire, and ultimately, to Palestine. As He grew older, `Abdu'l-Bahá became His Father's closest companion and emerged as His deputy, shield, and principal representative to the political and religious leaders of the day. `Abdu'l-Bahá's extraordinary demonstration of leadership, knowledge, and service brought great prestige to the exiled Bahá'í community. He assumed His role as the Head of the Bahá'í Faith following Bahá'u'lláh's passing in May 1892.
In 1911, after more than four decades of imprisonment and suffering, `Abdu'l-Bahá journeyed to the West and presented with brilliant simplicity, to high and low alike, Bahá'u'lláh's prescription for the moral and spiritual renewal of society. This "Call of God," `Abdu'l-Bahá stated, "...breathed a new life into the body of mankind, and infused a new spirit into the whole creation. It is for this reason that the world hath been moved to its depths, and the hearts and consciences of men been quickened. Erelong the evidences of this regeneration will be revealed, and the fast asleep will be awakened."14
Among the vital truths that `Abdu'l-Bahá tirelessly proclaimed to leaders of thought as well as countless groups and masses at large were: "The independent search after truth, unfettered by superstition or tradition; the oneness of the entire human race, the pivotal principle and fundamental doctrine of the Faith; the basic unity of all religions; the condemnation of all forms of prejudice, whether religious, racial, class or national; the harmony which must exist between religion and science; the equality of men and women, the two wings on which the bird of humankind is able to soar; the introduction of compulsory education; the adoption of a universal auxiliary language; the abolition of the extremes of wealth and poverty; the institution of a world tribunal for the adjudication of disputes between nations; the exaltation of work, performed in the spirit of service, to the rank of worship; the glorification of justice as the ruling principle in human society, and of religion as a bulwark for the protection of all peoples and nations; and the establishment of a permanent and universal peace as the supreme goal of all mankind."15
`Abdu'l-Bahá in Germany, 1913.
My name is `Abdu'l-Bahá [literally, Servant of Baha]. My qualification is `Abdu'l-Bahá. My reality is `Abdu'l-Bahá. My praise is `Abdu'l-Bahá. Thraldom to the Blessed Perfection [Bahá'u'lláh] is my glorious and refulgent diadem, and servitude to all the human race my perpetual religion... No name, no title, no mention, no commendation have I, nor will ever have, except `Abdu'l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my greatest yearning. This is my eternal life. This is my everlasting glory.17
Friday, June 22, 2007
January 4th, 1913
What a power is love!
It is the most wonderful, the greatest of all living powers.
Love gives life to the lifeless. Love lights a flame in the heart that is cold.
Love brings hope to the hopeless and gladdens the hearts of the sorrowful.
In the world of existence there is indeed no greater power than the power of love.
When the heart of man is aglow with the flame of love, he is ready to sacrifice all
even his life.
In the Gospel it is said God is love.
There are four kinds of love.
The first is the love that flows from God to man;
it consists of the inexhaustible graces,
the Divine effulgence and heavenly illumination.
Through this love the world of being receives life.
Through this love man is endowed with physical existence,
until, through the breath of the Holy Spirit
-- this same love--he receives eternal life
and becomes the image of the Living God.
This love is the origin of all the love in the world of creation.
The second is the love that flows from man to God.
This is faith, attraction to the Divine, enkindlement,
progress, entrance into the Kingdom of God,
receiving the Bounties of God, illumination with the lights of the Kingdom.
This love is the origin of all philanthropy;
this love causes the hearts of men to reflect the rays of the Sun of Reality.
The third is the love of God towards the Self or Identity of God.
This is the transfiguration of His Beauty, the reflection of Himself in the mirror of His Creation. This is the reality of love, the Ancient Love, the Eternal Love. Through one ray of this Love all other love exists.
The fourth is the love of man for man.
The love which exists between the hearts of believers is prompted by the ideal of the unity of spirits.
This love is attained through the knowledge of God, so that men see the Divine Love reflected in the heart. Each sees in the other the Beauty of God reflected in the soul, and finding this point of similarity, they are attracted to one another in love. This love will make all men the
waves of one sea, this love will make them all the stars of one heaven and the fruits of one tree. This love will bring the realization of true accord, the foundation of real unity.
But the love which sometimes exists between friends is not (true) love, because it is subject to transmutation;
this is merely fascination.
As the breeze blows, the slender trees yield. If the wind is in the East the tree leans to the West, and if the wind turns to the West the tree leans to the East.
This kind of love is originated by the accidental conditions of life.
This is not love, it is merely acquaintanceship; it is subject to change.
Today you will see two souls apparently in close friendship; tomorrow all this may be changed. Yesterday they were ready to die for one another,
today they shun one another's society!
This is not love; it is the yielding of the hearts to the accidents of life.
When that which has caused this `love' to exist passes, the love passes also;
this is not in reality love.
Love is only of the four kinds that I have explained.
(a) The love of God towards the identity of God. Christ has said God is Love.
(b) The love of God for His children--for His servants.
(c) The love of man for God and
(d) the love of man for man.
These four kinds of love originate from God.
These are rays from the Sun of Reality; these are the Breathings of the Holy Spirit; these are the Signs of the Reality.
Question.--In the Bible it is said that God breathed the spirit into the body of man. What is the meaning of this verse?
Answer.--Know that proceeding is of two kinds: the proceeding and appearance through emanation, and the proceeding and appearance through manifestation. The proceeding through emanation is like the coming forth of the action from the actor, of the writing from the writer. Now the writing emanates from the writer, and the discourse emanates from the speaker, and in the same way the human spirit emanates from God. It is not that it manifests God--that is to say, no part has been detached from the Divine Reality to enter the body of man. No, as the discourse emanates from the speaker, the spirit appears in the body of man.
But the proceeding through manifestation is the manifestation of the reality of a thing in other forms, like the coming forth of this tree from the seed of the tree, or the coming forth of the flower from the seed of the flower, for it is the seed itself which appears in the form of the branches, leaves and flowers. This is called the proceeding through manifestation. The spirits of men, with reference to God, have dependence through emanation, just as the discourse proceeds from the speaker and the writing from the writer--that is to say, the speaker himself does not become the discourse, nor does the writer himself become the writing; no, rather they have the proceeding of emanation. The speaker has perfect ability and power, and the discourse emanates from him, as the action does from the actor. The Real Speaker, the Essence of Unity, has always been in one condition, which neither changes nor alters, has neither transformation nor vicissitude. He is the Eternal, the Immortal. Therefore, the proceeding of the human spirits from God is through emanation. When it is said in the Bible that God breathed His spirit into man, this spirit is that which, like the discourse, emanates from the Real Speaker, taking effect in the reality of man.
But the proceeding through manifestation (if by this is meant the divine appearance, and not division into parts), we have said, is the proceeding and the appearance of the Holy Spirit and the Word, which is from God. As it is said in the Gospel of John, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God"; [John 1:1.] then the Holy Spirit and the Word are the appearance of God. The Spirit and the Word mean the divine perfections that appeared in the Reality of Christ, and these perfections were with God; so the sun manifests all its glory in the mirror. For the Word does not signify the body of Christ, no, but the divine perfections manifested in Him. For Christ was like a clear mirror which was facing the Sun of Reality; and the perfections of the Sun of Reality--that is to say, its light and heat--were visible and apparent in this mirror. If we look into the mirror, we see the sun, and we say, "It is the sun." Therefore, the Word and the Holy Spirit, which signify the perfections of God, are the divine appearance. This is the meaning of the verse in the Gospel which says: "The Word was with God, and the Word was God"; [John 1:1.] for the divine perfections are not different from the Essence of Oneness. The perfections of Christ are called the Word because all the beings are in the condition of letters, and one letter has not a complete meaning, while the perfections of Christ have the power of the word because a complete meaning can be inferred from a word. As the Reality of Christ was the manifestation of the divine perfections, therefore, it was like the word. Why? because He is the sum of perfect meanings. This is why He is called the Word.
And know that the proceeding of the Word and the Holy Spirit from God, which is the proceeding and appearance of manifestation, must not be understood to mean that the Reality of Divinity had been divided into parts, or multiplied, or that it had descended from the exaltation of holiness and purity. God forbid! If a pure, fine mirror faces the sun, the light and heat, the form and the image of the sun will be resplendent in it with such manifestation that if a beholder says of the sun, which is brilliant and visible in the mirror, "This is the sun," it is true. Nevertheless, the mirror is the mirror, and the sun is the sun. The One Sun, even if it appears in numerous mirrors, is one. This state is neither abiding nor entering, neither commingling nor descending; for entering, abiding, descending, issuing forth and commingling are the necessities and characteristics of bodies, not of spirits; then how much less do they belong to the sanctified and pure Reality of God. God is exempt from all that is not in accordance with His purity and His exalted and sublime sanctity.
The Sun of Reality, as we have said, has always been in one condition; it has no change, no alteration, no transformation and no vicissitude. It is eternal and everlasting. But the Holy Reality of the Word of God is in the condition of the pure, fine and shining mirror; the heat, the light, the image and likeness--that is to say, the perfections of the Sun of Reality--appear in it. That is why Christ says in the Gospel, "The Father is in the Son"--that is to say, the Sun of Reality appears in the mirror. [Cf. John 14:11; 17:21.] Praise be to the One Who shone upon this Holy Reality, Who is sanctified among the beings!
Question.--After the body is put aside and the spirit has obtained freedom, in what way will the rational soul exist? Let us suppose that the souls who are assisted by the bounty of the Holy Spirit attain to true existence and eternal life. But what becomes of the rational souls--that is to say, the veiled spirits? ["Veiled spirits" here signify rational souls, souls not possessing the spirit of faith. Cf. "Soul, Spirit and Mind," p. 208.]
Answer.--Some think that the body is the substance and exists by itself, and that the spirit is accidental and depends upon the substance of the body, although, on the contrary, the rational soul is the substance, and the body depends upon it. If the accident--that is to say, the body--be destroyed, the substance, the spirit, remains.
Second, the rational soul, meaning the human spirit, does not descend into the body--that is to say, it does not enter it, for descent and entrance are characteristics of bodies, and the rational soul is exempt from this. The spirit never entered this body, so in quitting it, it will not be in need of an abiding-place: no, the spirit is connected with the body, as this light is with this mirror. When the mirror is clear and perfect, the light of the lamp will be apparent in it, and when the mirror becomes covered with dust or breaks, the light will disappear.
The rational soul--that is to say, the human spirit-- has neither entered this body nor existed through it; so after the disintegration of the composition of the body, how should it be in need of a substance through which it may exist? On the contrary, the rational soul is the substance through which the body exists. The personality of the rational soul is from its beginning; it is not due to the instrumentality of the body, but the state and the personality of the rational soul may be strengthened in this world; it will make progress and will attain to the degrees of perfection, or it will remain in the lowest abyss of ignorance, veiled and deprived from beholding the signs of God.
Question.--Through what means will the spirit of man--that is to say, the rational soul--after departing from this mortal world, make progress?
Answer.--The progress of man's spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name.
THE IMMORTALITY OF CHILDREN
Question.--What is the condition of children who die before attaining the age of discretion or before the appointed time of birth?
Answer.--These infants are under the shadow of the favor of God; and as they have not committed any sin and are not soiled with the impurities of the world of nature, they are the centers of the manifestation of bounty, and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.
Some Answered Questions
Part Four -- On the Origin, Powers and Conditions of Man
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Lua Gestinger, one of the early Baha'is of America, tells of an experience she had in Akka. She had made the pilgrimage to the prison-city to see 'Abdu'l-Baha. One day He said to her that He was too busy today to call upon a friend of His who was very poor and sick. He wished Lua to go in His place. He told her to take food to the sick man and care for him as He had been doing.
Lua learned the address and immediately went to do as 'Abdu'l-Baha had asked. She felt proud that 'Abdu'l-Baha had trusted her with some of His own work. But soon she returned to 'Abdu'l-Baha in a state of excitement. "Master," she exclaimed, "You sent me to a very terrible place! I almost fainted from the awful smell, the dirty rooms, the degrading condition of that man and his house. I left quickly before I could catch some terrible disease." Sadly and sternly, 'Abdu'l-Baha gazed at her. If she wanted to serve God, He told her, she would have to serve her fellow man, because in every person she should see the image and likeness of God. Then He told her to go back to the man's house. If the house was dirty, she should clean it. If the man was dirty, she should bathe him. If he was hungry, she should feed him. He asked her not to come back until all of this was done. 'Abdu'l-Baha has done these things many times for this man, and he told Lua Getsinger that she should be able to do them once. This is how 'Abdu'l-Baha taught Lua to serve her fellow man.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
"The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to center the consciousness upon the limitations. This is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a door through which the confirmations of the spirit come. They come to a man or woman who accepts his life with Radiant Acquiescence."
ACQUIESCENCE means to "give in," to drop resistance, to tacitly agree. Divine acquiescence means to be submissive to the divine will. Everything in nature is acquiescent to the plan of the Universe and works in harmony with it except man. "Radiant acquiescence" means not only to give up your will to the Divine Will, but to do so joyfully and with radiance, knowing it is the best way in the end. The ordinary way of meeting the circumstances of life is to have a negative, passive submission to God's will and to blame every circumstance that was unfortunate on the & "Will of God" and to be unwillingly resigned to this condition and to do nothing to change it. Many become bitter and at enmity with life because of obstacles and calamities, and their faces register discontent and unhappiness.
"The death of one thing is the birth of another," said Marcus Aurelius. "Watch the eternal course of destruction and realize that the universe itself sustains no harm amidst all this change. The only true good is religion, which teaches us to keep our guiding principles pure and untainted by bodily impressions. Nothing external can influence us unless we pronounce it good or evil. Cease your complaint and you are not hurt."
Epictetus advised: "Dare to look up to God and say, ‘Deal with me for the future as thou wilt, I am of the same mind as Thou art; I am Thine; I refuse nothing that pleases Thee; lead me where Thou wilt, clothe me in any dress Thou choosest; is it Thy will that I should hold the office of a magistrate; that I should be in the condition of a private man; stay here; or be an exile; be rich; be poor, I will make Thy defense to men in behalf of all these conditions."
"He who frets himself because things do not happen just as he would have them, and secedes and separates himself from the law of the universal nature, is but a sort of an ulcer of the world."
Be acquiescent and things will change. God closes one door and opens another.
"Is anyone afraid of change?" asked Aurelius "I would gladly know what can be done without it? And what is dearer and more suitable to your universal nature? Pray, must not your wood be transformed (i.e., into fire) before your bath can be ready for you? Must not your meat be changed to make it fit to nourish you? Indeed what part of life can go forward without alteration? Now in all likelihood a change in your condition may be as serviceable to the world in general as those alterations above mentioned are to you."
When we are radiantly acquiescent our fears and worries disappear, what we ourselves cannot overcome or accomplish, we place in the hands of God, living in the faith that God can and will make all things well, and as our faith is, so is it always done unto us. When you feel that you live within God's protection you will never fear, you know you are safe and secure; fully protected at all times and nothing but good can come to you.
If we would only learn radiant acquiescence. Since things cannot always be as we wish them it is better for us to acquiesce to realize that after all in the great Divine plan it may be better for us that they are changed, therefore let us be glad!
When things do not give you pleasure, proceed instead to create pleasure in your own heart and soul, and you can if you will always be glad. Besides things will change for the better if you continue in the spirit of rejoicing. When things do not please you, resolve to please yourself by being glad. When evil befalls you consider the fact that the good that is yet in your possession is many times as great as all the evil you could ever know. †
"It is a great thing to feel, when our small plans are in a moment destroyed, our own ambitions in a moment thwarted forever, that instead of losing we are exchanging a lower for a higher thing; that the fall of the blossom means the coming of the fruit; the opening up a soul to newer and greater truth."††
Radiant acquiescence means "not my will but Thine be done." Let us approach our disappointments, our failures with the thought, "This is all right but different," and how much better it would be.
A famous doctor who radiated sympathy and gladness had as his motto, "That's all right, that's the way it should be." Nothing ever upset him. He would work quietly to accomplish results and leave them in God's hands, perfectly willing to accept the ends as justifiable to the means.
"Magnify the faith in yourself and you will minimize the obstacles in your way," Marden has said.
"With God nothing shall be impossible."
When difficulties are to be met they should be met in the attitude of radiant acquiescence and joy, so that we may look upon them as a privilege through which the power of the Holy Spirit may be brought into action; this generates strong thought currents and attracts strong forces to help us.
A wonderful way to show your love for God and His Cause is to radiate from your personality the sunlight of His love. To be it is to live it.
"Resist not evil" has been sounded by all the prophets and a thoughtful perusal of their lives indicates how they met the circumstances in which they were placed-how they treated their enemies. To resist, to use force is against the law of harmony. All nature practices this law. In a storm when the wind is blowing, the trees in its path bend before its fury, those that resist it are snapped in two and broken off. It is better to let others learn through experience that they are on the wrong path than to force them to see it our way.
The best way to rise above the petty irritations and delays which attack the nervous system is to meet them with non-resistance. All the prophets have taught us not to resist evil. 'Abdu'l-Bahá calls it "radiant acquiescence." This is the most practical way to handle the affairs of life, to drop resistance to things we cannot change, be willing (and that happily) that circumstances should go against us, that others shall be unkind, unjust, impolite or disagreeable. Through this practice the mind is kept quiet and clear and greater power to go through life successfully is engendered. Resistance produces poisonous toxins in the glands which undermune the health. Most of the nervous illness in the world today (and there is much of it) is caused by resistance to circumstances or to people, which has kept the nerves and brain in such a state of tension and irritation that a breakdown is the only ultimate result. In order to get rest and healing, we should say to ourselves, "Drop it, what difference does it make?"
Whether we are aware of it or not we always arouse in others what is in our own mind. Anger in you will provoke anger in another, while love begets love. So there is a great scientific principle involved in the command, "love your enemies;" Hate begets hate, and in no way can it be changed except through love. Fear begets fear and confidence increases confidence. The cheerfulness of one person can affect a roomful of people and if persistently practiced may affect the whole neighborhood.
When you feel others irritating or disturbing you, get quiet, be tranquil, summon the spirit of joy and harmony—ask for guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit. Send out harmonious thoughts and soon you will find the attitudes of others will change toward you, if you have only love in your heart. Love can melt the meanest heart. It takes two to quarrel. If one of the angry parties will practice non-resistance and puts away all discordant thinking from himself, and waits without impatience, the anger of the other must subside for it will have nothing on which to feed. Keep your mind in a condition of harmony toward the other and wait. In waiting you will accomplish wonders with the right mental attitude. "They serve who only stand and wait."
Faith is patience to wait. There should not be any attempt at verbal reconciliation unless it comes naturally and without a truce of inharmony. The important thing is in attempting to correct one's own faults and never interfering with another unless help is asked.
"However he treats me, I am to act rightly with regard to him; for the one is my concern, the other is not," Epictetus wrote.
"Nothing another does can ever make it right for me to do wrong, because wrong is never right, and no combination of circumstances can ever make it so," declared Aaron Crane.
True self-control must not be thought to be a repression of the desire to do wrong but it must go farther and remove the desire in the thinking which will thereby remove all necessity for resistance or restraint. Substitute one thought or feeling for another.
Self-control in the spiritual sense is freedom from all control of things outside the spiritual self and of all those things that provoke discordant thoughts. The person who allows himself to be mentally disturbed is in the degree of the disturbance in the power of whatever suggested it. By relaxing the mind, by being willing that certain things should occur, by keeping the mind centered in the Holy Spirit through practicing radiant acquiescence, one will establish such habits that no attention need be given even to the control of self, because habits tend to act automatically, without conscious care or attention. This is the freedom of mind of little children. It is the freedom of heaven. "Except ye become as little children ye cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven." As thoughts precede actions, then to stop thinking certain thoughts is to cease doing certain things. Resistance always interferes with freedom of thought and action.
"Who has more soul than I masters me, though he should not raise his finger. Round him I must revolve by the gravitation of spirits. Who has less, I rule with like facility."
"The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act," Emerson realized.
Are you in the habit of "blowing up," of "going to pieces," when things don't suit you? If you are, you are indulging in an "emotional spree," a "nervous jag." These can be quite as disastrous to the body as an alcoholic one, due to the poisons poured out into the blood stream by the adrenalin glands. Victims of deficient self-control in time become sick, mentally.. It is their excuse that something that was said or some past experience is responsible for these upsets, but the breakdown in nervous morale is due to an inflated ego, an inferiority complex or the wrong attitude toward the speech and actions of other people.
A doctor made a list of some of the things that upset some of his patients. He found as many as forty causes in the list, most of them foolish. One man was continually upset because a business partner was always saying "listen," as an introduction to his sentences. A business man became furious if anyone in his office arrived a moment late in the morning, and he saw to it that be was there early enough to indulge in his favorite nervous jag."
These nervous types must remember that no matter where the blame rests, it is better to ignore things that can't be helped, to be "radiantly acquiescent." You can't allow other people and the circumstances of life to "get on your nerves." You cannot control the habits of the rest of the world, and therefore in self-protection you must develop, an attitude toward them that is less vehement. You will have to teach yourself to live in a world as it is, not as you wish it might be. Do not take yourself and circumstances so seriously. Laugh at yourself. What difference will it make in a hundred years, whether the dinner is on time or not? Decide that you will be the master of your own environment and don't expect to go through life and escape the experience of "self- abasement." We can't expect to. ride on the crest of the wave always but we can direct ourselves so that we can ride more smoothly. With understanding, love; tolerance, sympathy and cooperation many of these conditions can be "ironed out." They do not affect the man who has the "light of the Holy Spirit in his life."
Next to radiant acquiescence, the next best cure for "nerves" is the habit of self-examination and of looking to one's own faults. The Divine Manifestations have ever pointed out the need for man to examine his own motives first before be presumed to judge the actions of another.
"Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye. … Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
Bahá'u'lláh in this day admonishes us:
"If the fire of self overcome you, remember your own faults and not the faults of My creatures."
Real freedom from these irritations must begin within, the motives must be changed. If we only outwardly control the appearance of anger and irritability and are a seething furnace within we have no control. We must get free from the emotion itself to be free and to be master of the situation. So everyone must look within first and be relaxed there before he can act without. "Everyone," says Bahá'u'lláh in Hidden Words, "must show forth deeds that are pure and holy, for words are the property of all alike, whereas such deeds as these belong only to Our loved ones."
No matter where we find ourselves in life, all sickness, either of the mind or body, comes from the breaking of cosmic laws.1
When we walk in the ray of the Holy Spirit we learn to live positively and actively, to go about doing good and radiating the light of God's gift.
Let our light shine upon those who live in the shadows, let us radiate that light of the Holy Spirit so that the moment others come into our presence they will sense our power, our sincerity, our love, and that we have something they need.
As human beings we unconsciously radiate those inner forces which we possess and we influence those who come in contact by our radiations for good or ill. 'Abdu'l-Bahá felt the importance of this so keenly that in His correspondence He placed great emphasis on radiance of expression. He says: "The face is the mirror of the heart," and also: "Let all people see that you have the Light, that they may recognize something in you which they themselves do not possess."
† Christian O. Larson
†† Hamilton Wright Mabie
1Except those ills and misfortunes visited upon the holy ones, whose patience and sacrifice are the example to mankind.
©Copyright 1937, World Order Magazine
Finally, on the last day, almost the last moment of my stay, it came to me that it was cowardly to hesitate. On that day, as I came into His presence, He immediately said, "Are there any questions?" At once I asked the question, "Which is the best way to give the Baha'i message?"
'Abdu'l-Bahá's face became very serious, His voice loud, as He answered in these words:
“ The first thing to do is to acquire a thirst for spirituality, then live the life! Live the life! Live the life! The way to acquire this thirst is to meditate upon the future life.
Study the Holy Words, read your Bible, read the Holy Books, especially study the Holy Utterances of Baha'u'llah; prayer and meditation, take much time for these two. Then will you know this great thirst, and then only can you begin to live the life!
To live the life you must be the very kindest woman, you must be the most pure, you must be absolutely truthful, and live a perfectly moral life.
Visit your neighbors when they are sick or in trouble, offer your services to them, try to show them that you are longing to serve them.
Feed the poor, divide what you have. Be contented to remain where God has placed you; be faithful in your care of those to whom He has trusted you, never waver in this. Show by your life you have something different, so that all will see and will say, “What has this person that I have not?”
Show the world that in spite of the utmost suffering, poverty, sickness, you have something which gives you comfort, strength and peace that you are happy, serene, satisfied with all that is in your life.
Then they, too, will want what you possess and will need no further teaching after you tell them what it is.”
- SW, Vol. 19, p. 69
Sunday, November 05, 2006
On his last afternoon in London, a reporter called to ask him of his future plans, finding him surrounded by a number of friends who had called to bid him good-bye. When, in answer to this query, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told in perfect English of his intention to visit Paris and go from there to Alexandria, the press representative evinced surprise at his faultless pronunciation. Thereupon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proceeded to march with a free stride up and down the flower-scented drawing room, his Oriental garb contrasting strangely with his modern surroundings; and, to the amusement of the assembly, uttered a string of elaborate English words, laughingly ending, “Very difficult English words I speak!” Then, a moment later, with the swift transition of one who knows both how to be grave and gay, he showed himself terribly in earnest.
He had left orders that none were to be turned away, but one who had twice vainly sought his presence, and was, through some oversight, prevented from seeing him, wrote a heartbreaking letter showing that he thought himself rebuffed. It was translated by the Persian interpreter. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at once put on his coat, and, turning towards the door, said, with an expression of unspeakable sadness, “A friend of mine has been martyred, and I am very grieved. I go out alone.” and he swept down the steps. One could then see how well the title of “Master” became him.
Another phase of his character which none who saw him could ever forget was his attitude towards children who were brought to him. Many of his talks were given as he sat with his arm encircling one of them.
He invariably admonished the parents thus: “Give this child a good education; make every effort that it may have the best you can afford, so that it may be enabled to enjoy the advantage of this glorious age. Do all you can to encourage spirituality in them.” One who sought the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá realized the father-like sympathy which is his. Speaking of his and others’ love for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the reply was: “I know that you love me, I can see that it is so. I will pray for you that you may be firm and serve in the Cause, becoming a true servant to Bahá’u’lláh. Though I go away I will always be present with you all.” These words were spoken with the greatest loving sympathy and understanding of difficulties; during the moments of this little talk ‘Abdu’l-Bahá held and stroked the speaker’s hands, and at the end took his head and with a gentle touch drew it to him kissing the forehead of the young man, who felt that he had found a father and a friend.
“People get together and talk, but it is God’s Word alone that is powerful in its results. Consider for a moment: you would not trade together if you had no income from it and derived no benefit! Look at the followers of Christ. Their power was due to their ardour and their deeds. Every effort must have its result, else it is not a true effort. You must become the means of lighting the world of humanity. This is the infallible proof and sign. Every progress depends on two things, knowledge and practice. First acquire knowledge, and, when conviction is reached, put it into practice.
“Once a learned man journeyed to see me to receive my blessing, saying he knew and comprehended the Bahá’í teachings. When I told him that he could receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit at any time when he put himself in a receptive attitude to accept them, he said he was always in a receptive attitude.
“‘What would you do,’ I asked ‘if I were to suddenly turn and strike you?’ He instantly flared with indignation and strode angrily about the room.
“After a little I went over and took his arm, saying, ‘But you must return good for evil. Whether I honoured you or despised you, you should follow the teachings; now you merely read them. Remember the words of Jesus who said, ‘The first shall be last, and the last first.’ The man turned, shook my hand and departed, and I have since heard of many kind acts he has done.” When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was addressed by the name of prophet, he answered, “My name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Servant of God” [literally, the Slave of Glory.]
Compare:—“My Name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My Reality is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: and Service to all the human race is my perpetual Religion.... ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the Banner of the Most Great Peace ...The Herald of the Kingdom is he, so that he may awaken the people of the East and the West. The Voice of Friendship, of Truth, and of Reconciliation is he, quickening all regions. No name, no title will he ever have, except ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my Supreme height. O ye friends of God! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the manifestation of Service, and not Christ. The Servant of humanity is he, and not a chief. Summon ye the people to the station of Service of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and not his Christhood.” (From a letter sent to the friends in New York, January 1st, 1907.)
- ▼ 2009 (4)