Thursday, November 09, 2006


"'Abdu'l-Baha's kind heart went out to those who were ill. If He could alleviate a pain or discomfort, he set about to do so. We are told that one old couple who were ill in bed for a month had twenty visits from the Master during that time in Akka. He daily sent a servant to inquire about the welfare of the ill, and as there was no hospital in town, He paid a doctor a regular salary to look after the poor. The doctor was instructed not to tell Who provided this service. When a poor and crippled woman was shunned on contracting measles, the Master, on being informed, 'immediately engaged a woman to care for her; took a room, put comfortable bedding (His own) into it, called the doctor, sent food and everything she needed. He went to see that she had every attention, and when she died in peace and comfort, He it was Who arranged her simple funeral, paying all charges.'" (Honnold, Vignettes from the Life of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 43-4)
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

Radiant Acquiescence

"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."
'ABDU'LBAHÁ,Divine Philosophy


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


Strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!This is the work of a true Baha'i, and this is expected of him. If we strive to do all this, then are we true Baha'is, but if we neglect it, we are not followers of the Light, and we have no right to the name. God, who sees all hearts, knows how far our lives are the fulfilment of our words. .> Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 80


It was my great privilege to be in New York during the last days spent by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America. There was a question which I greatly longed to ask, but fearing the reply would be that I must talk to people, everywhere, I hesitated.

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

Some Personal Characteristics of ABDU'L-BAHA

There is a note in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s character that has not been emphasized, and with which no idea of him is complete. The impressive dignity which distinguishes his presence and bearing is occasionally lighted by a delicate and tactful humour, which is as unaffected as it is infectious and delightful.
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.

Knowledge must result in Action

A representative from a well known society made reference to its meetings for the purpose of a search into the reality of truth, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “I know of your work. I think a great deal of it. I know your desire is to serve mankind, and to draw together Humanity under the banner of Oneness; but its members must beware less it become only a discussion. Look about you. How many committees have been formed, and living for a little while, have died! Committees and Societies can not create or give life.
“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.][1]
[1]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.)

True Spirituality

Another morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began at once to speak as he joined the group of seekers. He said: “Praise be to God, this century is a glorious century; may love increase every day; may it strike fire to light the candle in the darkness, like a gift and mercy of God. “Know, O thou possessors of insight, that true spirituality is like unto a lake of clear water which reflects the divine. Of such was the spirituality of Jesus Christ. There is another kind which is like a mirage, seeming to be spiritual when it is not. That which is truly spiritual must light the path to God, and must result in deeds. We cannot believe the call to be spiritual when there is no result. Spirit is reality, and when the spirit in each of us seeks to join itself with the Great Reality, it must in turn give life. The Jews in the time of Christ were dead, having no real life, and Jesus actually wafted a new breath into their bodies. Behold what has been accomplished since!”

The Pure Heart

When asked for a definition of a pure heart, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “The pure heart is one that is entirely cut away from self. To be selfless is to be pure.”

The Coming of Peace

By what process” continued the questioner, “will this peace on earth be established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the Truth?” “No, it will come about gradually,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “A plant that grows too quickly lasts but a short time. You are my family” and he looked about with a smile, “my new children! if a family lives in unison, great results are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land.”

The True Bahá’í

“I have never heard of Bahá’u’lláh,” said a young man. I have only recently read about this movement, but I recognize the mission of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and desire to be a disciple. I have always believed in the brotherhood of man as the ultimate solvent of all our national and international difficulties.” “It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Bahá’u’lláh or not,” was the answer, “the man who lives the life according to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand a man may call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years and if he does not live the life he is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no one, and a black man may call himself white yet he deceives no one: not even himself!”

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Woman’s Work

Woman’s Work

‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s interest in women’s work and progress is well known, and among the notable leaders who came to see him, may be mentioned Mrs. Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, the organizers of various suffrage bodies, civic and philanthropic workers, the principals of several woman’s colleges and lady doctors.
A spirited conversation due to the visit of an ardent suffragist will be long remembered by those who had the privilege of being present. The room was full of men and women, many Persians being seated in their familiar respectful attitude on the floor.
After contrasting the general position of the Eastern and the Western women, and then describing how in many respects the Eastern woman has the advantage of her Western sister, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned and said to the visitor: “Give me your reasons for believing that woman today should have the vote?”
Answer: “I believe that humanity is a divine humanity and that it must rise higher and higher; but it cannot soar with only one wing.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá expressed his pleasure at this answer, and smiling, replied: “But what will you do if one wing is stronger than the other?” Answer: “Then we must strengthen the weaker wing, otherwise the flight will always be hampered.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that the woman is the stronger wing?”
The answer came in the same bright vein: “You will earn my eternal gratitude!” at which all the company made merry.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion. “The mere size of the brain has been proved to be no measure of superiority. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and crisis. If necessary she can become a warrior.”

A True Bahá’í

A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know this; the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his destination. If you belong to a Society already do not forsake your brothers. You can be a Bahá’í-Christian, a Bahá’í-Freemason, a Bahá’í-Jew, a Bahá’í-Muḥammadán. The number nine contains eight, and seven, and all the other numbers, and does not deny any of them. Do not distress or deny anyone by saying ‘He is not a Bahá’í!’ He will be known by his deeds. There are no secrets among Bahá’ís; a Bahá’í does not hide anything.”

Science and Faith

The gentleman then put a question which he said he considered of very great importance in connection with a religious movement, claiming to be universal. What position he asked, if any, did Bahá’u’lláh given to the modern ideas and conceptions of Science in his teachings. The whole structure of modern civilization is based upon the results and the knowledge obtained through laborious and patient observation of facts collected by men of Science: in some cases through hundreds of years of painstaking investigation. To make his meaning clearer, he instanced the ethic, and the moral teachings of the Chinese philosophers, than which he could conceive nothing higher. However, these teachings had very little effect outside of China, for the reason he considered, that they were not primarily based on the teachings of Science.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that a very great importance was given to Science and knowledge in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, who wrote that, if a man educated the children of the poor, who could not themselves afford to do so, it was, in the sight of God, as if he had educated the Son of God.
If any religion rejected Science and knowledge, that religion was false. Science and Religion should go forward together; indeed, they should be like two fingers of one hand.
Bahá’u’lláh had also in His writings given a most important place to Art, and the practice of skilled trades. He had stated that the practice of an Art or Trade in the true spirit of service was identical with the worship of God.
A gentleman connected with the work of a Settlement then asked what was the best method of raising up and civilizing the very lowest and most degraded and ignorant of the people and would their education come about gradually through the enlightenment of the Spirit, or was there any special means we could adopt to further this end? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that the best way was to give them spiritual teachings and enlightenment. He also remarked that the way to broaden the outlook of the very narrow-hearted and prejudiced, and to make them listen to a wider teaching, was by showing towards them the greatest kindness and love. The example of our lives was of more value than words.

Divine Manifestations

Is the Divine Manifestation, God?
Yes, and yet not in Essence. A Divine Manifestation is as a mirror reflecting the light of the Sun. The light is the same and yet the mirror is not the Sun. All the Manifestations of God bring the same Light; they only differ in degree, not in
reality. The Truth is one. The light is the same though the lamps may be different; we must look at the Light not at the Lamp. If we accept the Light in one, we must accept the Light in all; all agree, because all are the same. The teaching is ever the same, it is only the outward forms that change. The Manifestations of God are as the heavenly bodies. All have their appointed place and time of ascension, but the Light they give is the same. if one wishes to look for the sun rising, one does not look always at the same point because that point changes with the seasons. When one sees the sun rise further in the north one recognizes it, though it has risen at a different point.


The Universal Races Congress was good, for it was intended for the furtherance and progress of unity among all nations and a better international understanding. The purpose was good. The causes of dispute among different nations are always due to one of the following classes of prejudice: racial, lingual, theological, personal, and prejudices of custom and tradition. It requires a universal active force to overcome these differences. A small disease needs a small remedy, but a disease which pervades the whole body needs a very strong remedy. A small lamp may light a room, a larger would light a house, a larger still might shine through the city, but the sun is needed to light the whole world.
The differences in language cause disunion between nations. There must be one universal language. The diversity in Faiths is also a cause of separation. The true foundation of all faiths must be established, the outer differences abolished. There must be a Oneness of Faith. To end all these differences is a very hard task. The whole world is sick, and needs the power of the Great Healer.
These meetings teach us that Unity is good, and that suppression (slavery under the yoke of tradition and prejudice) is the cause of disunion. To know this is not enough. All knowledge is good, but it can bear no fruit except by action. It is well to know that riches are good, but that knowledge will not make a man rich; he must work, he must put his knowledge into practice. We hope the people realize and know that unity is good, and we also hope that they will not be content to stand still in that knowledge. Do not only say that Unity, Love and Brotherhood are good; you must work for their realization.
The Czar of Russia suggested the Hague Peace Conference and proposed a decrease in armament for all nations. In this Conference it was proved that Peace was beneficial to all countries, and that war destroyed trade, etc. The Czar’s words were admirable though after the conference was over he himself was the first to declare war (against Japan).
Knowledge is not enough; we hope by the Love of God we shall put it into practice. A spiritual universal Force is needed for this. Meetings are good for engendering spiritual force. To know that it is possible to reach a state of perfection, is good; to march forward on the path is better. We know that to help the poor and to be merciful is good and pleases God, but knowledge alone does not feed the starving man, nor can the poor be warmed by knowledge or words in the bitter winter; we must give the practical help of Loving-kindness.
What of the Peace Congress? It resembles many drunkards gathered together to protest against the drinking of alcohol. They say drink is horrible and they straightway go out from the house to drink again.


O NOBLE friends; seekers after God! Praise be to God! Today the light of Truth is shining upon the world in its abundance; the breezes of the heavenly garden are blowing throughout all regions; the call of the Kingdom is heard in all lands, and the breath of the Holy Spirit is felt in all hearts that are faithful. The Spirit of God is giving eternal life. In this wonderful age the East is enlightened, the West is fragrant, and everywhere the soul inhales the holy perfume. The sea of the unity of mankind is lifting up its waves with joy, for there is real communication between the hearts and minds of men. The banner of the Holy Spirit is uplifted, and men see it, and are assured with the knowledge that this is a new day.
This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.
The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.
In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.
In the Hidden Words Bahá’u’lláh says, “Justice is to be loved above all.” Praise be to God, in this country the standard of justice has been raised; a great effort is being made to give all souls an equal and a true place. This is the desire of all noble natures; this is today the teaching for the East and for the West; therefore the East and the West will understand each other and reverence each other, and embrace like long-parted lovers who have found each other.
There is one God; mankind is one; the foundations of religion are one. Let us worship Him, and give praise for all His great Prophets and Messengers who have manifested His brightness and glory.
The blessing of the Eternal One be with you in all its richness, that each soul according to his measure may take freely of Him. Amen. This Address is printed by kind permission, from The Christian Commonwealth of September 13th, 1911. Spoken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Persian from the city Temple pulpit, the above translation was then read to the congregation by Mr. W. Tudor-Pole.


During the last six thousand years nations have hated one another, it is now time to stop. War must cease. Let us be united and love one another and await the result. We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try, as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in any case make the experiment. If we see that unity brings Light we shall continue it. For six thousand years we have been walking on the left-hand path; let us walk on the right-hand path now. We have passed many centuries in darkness, let us advance towards the light.
Question.—(It was remarked, Theosophy teaches that truth in all the religions is the same): Does the task of unifying all religions have ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sympathy?
Question.—Can ‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggest any lines on which it could best be worked out? Answer.—Search for truth. Seek the realities in all religions. Put aside all superstitions. Many of us do not realize the Reality of all Religions.

Man’s Comprehension of God and of Higher Worlds

To man, the Essence of God is incomprehensible, so also are the worlds beyond this, and their condition. It is given to man to obtain knowledge, to attain to great spiritual perfection, to discover hidden truths and to manifest even the attributes of God; but still man cannot comprehend the Essence of God. Where the ever-widening circle of man’s knowledge meets the spiritual world a Manifestation of God is sent to mirror forth His splendour.


How can one increase in faith?
You must strive. A child does not know, in learning he obtains knowledge. search for Truth.
There are three kinds of Faith: first, that which is from tradition and birth. For example: a child is born of Muḥammadan parents, he is a Muḥammadan. This faith is weak traditional faith: second, that which comes from Knowledge, and is the faith of understanding. This is good, but there is a better, the faith of practice. This is real faith. We hear there is an invention, we believe it is good; then we come and see it. We hear that there is wealth, we see it; we work hard for it, and become rich ourselves and so help others. We know and we see the Light, we go close to it, are warmed by it, and reflect its rays on others; this is real faith, and thus we receive power to become the eternal sons of God.

Divine Manifestations

Question.—What is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching concerning the different Divine manifestations? Answer.—The Reality of all is One. Truth is one. Religions are like the branches of one Tree. One branch is high, one is low and one in the centre, yet all draw their life from the one stem. One branch bears fruit and others are not laden so abundantly. All the Prophets are lights, they only differ in degree; they shine like brilliant heavenly bodies, each have their appointed place and time of ascension. Some are like lamps, some like the moon, some like distant stars, and a few are like the sun, shining from one end of the earth to the other. All have the same Light to give, yet they are different in degree.


To most men who have not heard the message of this teaching, religion seems an outward form, a pretence, merely a seal of respectability. Some priests are in holy office for no other reason than to gain their living. They themselves do not believe in the religion they pretend to teach. Would these men lay down their lives for their faith? Ask a Christian of this kind to deny Christ in order to save his life, and he will do it.
Ask a Bahá’í to deny any of the great Prophets, to deny his faith or to deny Moses, Muḥammad or Christ, and he will say: I would rather die. So a Muḥammadan Bahá’í is a better Christian than many so called Christians.
A Bahá’í denies no religion; he accepts the Truth in all, and would die to uphold it. He loves all men as his brothers, of whatever class, of whatever race or nationality, of whatever creed or colour, whether good or bad, rich or poor, beautiful or hideous. He commits no violence; if he is struck he does not return the blow. He calls nothing bad, following the example of the Lord Bahá’u’lláh. As a safeguard against intemperance he does not drink wine or spirits. Bahá’u’lláh has said it is not good for a sane man to take that which will destroy his health and sense.
The religion of God has two aspects in this world. The spiritual (the real) and the formal (the outward). The formal side changes, as man changes from age to age. The spiritual side which is the Truth, never changes. The Prophets and Manifestations of God bring always the same teaching; at first men cling to the Truth but after a time they disfigure it. The Truth is distorted by man-made outward forms and material laws. The veil of substance and worldliness is drawn across the reality of Truth.
As Moses and Jesus brought their Message to the people, so Bahá’u’lláh brings the same Message.
Each time God sends a Great One to us we are given new life, but the Truth each Manifestation brings is the same. The Truth never changes but man’s vision changes. It is dulled and confused by the complication of outward forms. The Truth is easy to understand although the outward forms in which it is expressed bewilder the intelligence. As men grow they see the futility of man-made forms and despise them. Therefore many leave the churches, because the latter often emphasize the external only.


God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man. God has not divided the lands, but each man has his house and meadow; horses and dogs do not divide the fields into parts. That is why Bahá’u’lláh says: “Let not a man glory in that he loves his country, but that he loves his kind.” All are of one family, one race; all are human beings. Differences as to the partition of lands should not be the cause of separation among the people.
One of the great reasons of separation is colour. Look how this prejudice has power in America, for instance. See how they hate one another! Animals do not quarrel because of their colour! Surely man who is so much higher in creation, should not be lower than the animals. Think over this. What ignorance exists! White doves do not quarrel with blue doves because of their colour, but white men fight with dark-coloured men. This racial prejudice is the worst of all. The Old Testament says that God created man like unto His own image; in the Qur’an it says: “There is no difference in the Creation of God!” Think well, God has created all, cares for all, and all are under His protection. The policy of God is better than our policy. We are not as wise as God!