December 26, 2010

“Behold how the power of Bahá'u'lláh has brought the East and West together.”

22 April 1912
Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons
1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
Notes by Joseph H. Hannen

See how good Bahá'u'lláh is to us, how great the power of His Word! From what distant parts of the world He has brought us together in this house and caused us to meet at this heavenly table, for love has prepared a feast and bidden 'Abdu'l-Bahá to let this entertainment be in His name. What a union of hearts and what a confirmation of Bahá'u'lláh between East and West has been established! How His bounty has embraced all! How His favors have been perfected for all!

When the Muslims conquered Persia, the chief of the Zoroastrian high priests went to drink wine. According to Muslim law wine is forbidden, and he who drinks it must be punished by eighty-one strokes of the whip. Therefore, the Muslims arrested the high priest and whipped him. At that time the Arabs were considered very low and degraded by the Persians, scarcely to be accounted as human beings. As Muhammad was an Arab, the Persians looked upon Him with disdain; but when the high priest saw the evidences of a power in Muhammad which controlled these despised people, he cried out, "O thou Arabian Muhammad, what hast thou done? What hast thou done which has made thy people arrest the chief high priest of the Zoroastrians for committing something unlawful in thy religion?" By this circumstance the prejudice which caused the Zoroastrian to shun the Muslim had been overcome, for he recognized in what had happened to him the great influence Muhammad exercised over these people.

December 20, 2010

All the “meanings, perfection, and qualities” of previous Manifestations of God are now manifested in Baha’u’llah

“In the Book of the Zend-Avesta the Zoroastrians are awaiting the Coming of two Manifestations. Also, in the Old Testament Scriptures there is the promise of Elijah and Messiah. In the Gospel of the New Testament they are expecting the Father and the Second Coming of Christ. Likewise, in the Qur'án the Muhammadans have the promise of the Imám Mihdí and Christ. In brief, all the Holy Scriptures announce the Coming of two Manifestations, and these two Manifestations are the Báb and the Blessed Perfection. If you look into the Bible, it is Elias and Christ; in the Qur'án it is the Mihdí and Christ. These tidings are the same in all the Holy Books, only expressed in different ways -- two successive Manifestations. And all the Universe is promised these two. We must not search for the outer word in Elijah and Christ but look for the Reality. The Blessed Perfection said in His Tablets that once He was Abraham, once Moses, once Jesus, once Muhammad, and once the Báb. This is explained clearly in the 'Book of Íqán,' that is, the meanings and perfection of qualities which were once hidden are now revealed in Bahá‘u’lláh. Therefore, we can consider Bahá‘u’lláh to be all the Prophets, no matter by what Name He chooses to call Himself; for all their meanings, perfection, and qualities are manifest in Him. Bahá‘u’lláh is the center of all their perfections. For instance, in Moses the world received the Revelation of material laws, in Jesus spiritual laws, while in Bahá‘u’lláh we have received both material and spiritual laws. The Laws of Moses would cover but few pages, and the Teachings of Jesus could be gathered into a small pamphlet. The Old Testament contains nothing but material laws; no mention is in it of spiritual laws such as we find in the New Testament. In the New Testament there are no material laws except the laws of divorce and of the Sabbath. The New Testament contains no answers to questions of science. But all knowledge has been revealed by the Blessed Perfection in books which if gathered together would make many volumes. He has revealed demonstrations in sciences, and He is the epitome of all previous Revelations.” (‘Abdu’l-Baha, a table talk recorded by Julia M. Grundy in 1905, ‘Ten Days In the Light of ‘Akka’, Baha’i Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Ill., 1979)

December 6, 2010

Voice and Music

Voice is the vibration of the air, and is like the waves of the sea. The voice is produced through the instrumentality of the lips, throat, teeth, tongue, etc. These cause a wave in the air, and this wave reaches the nerve of the ear, which is thereby affected. This is the voice.

There are two kinds of voices. One when the complete instrument is perfect, then the emission of sound is perfect. The second is when the instrument is imperfect, it affects the voice in such a way that it is far from pleasing. What we have just said refers to the voice itself.

It is natural for the heart and spirit to take pleasure and enjoyment in all things that show forth symmetry, harmony, and perfection. For instance: a beautiful house, a well designed garden, a symmetrical line, a graceful motion, a well written book, pleasing garments -- in fact, all things that have in themselves grace or beauty are pleasing to the heart and spirit -- therefore, it is most certain that a true voice causes deep pleasure.

What is music? It is a combination of harmonious sounds. What is poetry? It is a symmetrical collection of words. Therefore, they are pleasing through harmony and rhythm. Poetry is much more effective and complete than prose. It stirs more deeply, for it is of a finer composition.