September 20, 2011

The faculty of Meditation: “… the sign of the intellect is contemplation and the sign of contemplation is silence …”

Sunday, January 12th, 1913
At the Friend’s Meeting House, St. Martin’s Lane, London, W.C.

About one thousand years ago a society was formed in Persia called the Society of the Friends, who gathered together for silent communion with the Almighty.

They divided Divine philosophy into two parts: one kind is that of which the knowledge can be acquired through lectures and study in schools and colleges. The second kind of philosophy was that of the Illuminati, or followers of the inner light. The schools of this philosophy were held in silence. Meditating, and turning their faces to the Source of Light, from that central Light the mysteries of the Kingdom were reflected in the hearts of these people. All the Divine problems were solved by this power of illumination.

This Society of Friends increased greatly in Persia, and up to the present time their societies exist. Many books and epistles were written by their leaders. When they assemble in their meeting-house they sit silently and contemplate; their leader opens with a certain proposition, and says to the assembly 'You must meditate on this problem'. Then, freeing their minds from everything else, they sit and reflect, and before long the answer is revealed to them. Many abstruse divine questions are solved by this illumination.

Some of the great questions unfolding from the rays of the Sun of Reality upon the mind of man are: the problem of the reality of the spirit of man; of the birth of the spirit; of its birth from this world into the world of God; the question of the inner life of the spirit and of its fate after its ascension from the body.

September 9, 2011

Proof of the divine mission of Founders of Religions and the need to independently investigate truth

October 1912
Oakland, California, USA
(The only talk given by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to a Japanese audience. Mr. Yamamoto, the first Japanese Bahá'í, arranged for 'Abdu'l-Bahá to speak at the Japanese Independent Church, in Oakland, California)

It is a great happiness to be here this evening, especially for the reason that the members of this Association have come from the region of the Orient. For a long time I have entertained a desire to meet some of the Japanese friends. That nation has achieved extraordinary progress in a short space of time; a progress and development which have astonished the world. Inasmuch as they have advanced in material civilization they must assuredly possess the capacity for spiritual development. For this reason I have an excessive longing to meet them. Praise be to God! this pleasure is now afforded me, for here in this city I am face to face with a revered group of the Japanese. According to report the people of the Japanese nation are not prejudiced. They investigate reality. Wherever they find truth they prove to be its lovers. They are not attached tenaciously to blind imitations of ancient beliefs and dogmas. Therefore it is my great desire to discourse with them upon a subject in order that the unity and blending together of the nations of the east and the nations of the west may be furthered and accomplished. In this way religious, racial and political prejudice, particularly bias and sectarianism will be dispelled amongst men. Any kind of prejudice is destructive to the body-politic.

September 4, 2011

Man “has animal tendencies. But the Divine power in him is great”

Haifa, September, 1920
Conversation with pilgrims

Question: Just before the Master came in we were talking about how to train children to be thoughtful of others and unselfish. Will the Master speak to us on this subject?

‘Abdu’l-Baha: "The body of man is from the world of nature. His body is akin to that of the animal. He has animal tendencies. But the Divine power in him is great. His spirit is pure, sanctified and heavenly. His body is satanic. If his spiritual qualities overcome his animal qualities he becomes illumined, full of activities and good qualities. But if the animal qualities overcome the spiritual, the spiritual will be entirely extinguished. All the qualities will be animalistic. In such a state the love of self is found; man is immersed in passion; darkness succeeds darkness. Man becomes negligent of God. No sign of his spirituality remains. This is why His Holiness Christ says that we must be born again. When man is born from the womb of the mother he is freed from material darkness. In the same way he must be born from the world of nature so that he may become free from the darkness of the world of nature. This is the second birth. Man must always strive to have his spirit overcome his body. When his spirit overcomes his body, the second birth takes place and he becomes freed from imperfections. He becomes filled with virtues. He becomes nearer the Divine and follows the Divine teachings. He becomes like a lighted candle. This is the reality of the subject. But when he is immersed in the world of nature he is like an animal, a fierce animal. He displays all the worst qualities. (Notes by Mabel Paine, of Urbana, Illinois, on her visit to Haifa, Palestine, with a party of pilgrims, September, 1920; Star of the West, vol.11, no. 6, December 31, 1920)