Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Esperanto

A friend enquired concerning Bahá’u’lláh’s prophecy in the Words of Paradise, that a universal language would be formed, and desired to know if Esperanto would be the language chosen.
“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.”

Tolstoy
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.”

Symbols

Someone wished to know if it were a good custom to wear a symbol, as, for instance, a cross. He said: “You wear the cross for remembrance, it concentrates your thoughts; it has no magical power. Bahá’ís often wear a stone with the greatest name engraved on it: there is no magical influence in the stone; it is a reminder, and companion. If you are about to do some selfish or hasty action, and your glance falls on the ring on your hand, you will remember and change your intention.”

Christ and Bahá’u’lláh

A friend asked how the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh contrasted with the teachings of Jesus Christ. “The teachings are the same.” declared ‘Abdu’l-Bahá; “It is the same foundation and the same temple. Truth is one, and without division. The teachings of Jesus are in a concentrated form. Men do not agree to this day as to the meaning of many of His sayings. His teachings are as a flower in the bud. Today, the bud is unfolding into a flower! Bahá’u’lláh has expanded and fulfilled the teachings, and has applied them in detail to the whole world.
“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.”

The Change of Heart

To one who spoke of the people’s desire to possess the land, and of the strong under-current of rebellion on the part of the labouring classes, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “ Fighting, and the employment of force, even for the right cause, will not bring about good results. The oppressed who have right on their side, must not take that right by force; the evil would continue. Hearts must be changed. The rich must wish to give! Life in man should be like a flame, warming all with whom it comes into contact. The spiritually awakened are like to bright torches in the sight of God, they give light and comfort to their fellows.”
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.

Education


‘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.”

Inspired Messengers


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.

The Power of God

A friend asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá how far the individual could attain to that Christ consciousness in himself of which St. Paul speaks as our hope of Glory.
‘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

RELATED DOCUMENTS
A Day in the Life of the Master
'Abdu'l-Bahá in the Words of His Father
A Description of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
The Passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá
Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá

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.
`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.
`Abdu'l-Bahá as a young man.

Bahá'u'lláh's appointment of `Abdu'l-Bahá as His successor was the means for diffusing His message of hope and universal peace to all corners of the world, for realizing the essential unity of all peoples. In referring to `Abdu'l-Bahá, Bahá'u'lláh wrote: "The glory of God rest upon Thee, and upon whosoever serveth Thee and circleth around Thee. Woe, great woe, betide him that opposeth and injureth Thee. Well is it with him that sweareth fealty to Thee."10 `Abdu'l-Bahá was, in short, the Center of Bahá'u'lláh's Covenant --the instrument for ensuring the unity of the Bahá'í community and preserving the integrity of Bahá'u'lláh's teachings.

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.
`Abdu'l-Bahá in Germany, 1913.

He affirmed time and again that He was a "herald of peace and reconciliation," "an advocate of the oneness of humanity," and an agent calling humanity to the "Kingdom of God."16 Despite the receptivity and acclaim given Him, `Abdu'l-Bahá made clear the Source of His thought and His true station. In a letter to His followers in America He wrote:
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

The Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith



  1. Bahá'u'lláh (London: George Ronald, 1971), p. 466.

Friday, June 22, 2007

97 Cadogan Gardens, London, Saturday,
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.
Paris talk
ON THE PROCEEDING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT FROM GOD

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!
THE EXISTENCE OF THE RATIONAL SOUL AFTER THE DEATH OF THE BODY
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

http://www.bahai-library.com/writings/abdulbaha/saq/66.html