December 7, 2013

The Lord's Supper and the Lord's Sustenance

May 15, 1910
Commemoration of the Declaration of the Báb 

There are different gatherings and various meetings held in the world which apparently are in the utmost degree of arrangement and order; in the palaces of the kings many feasts and banquets are held which are incomparable and peerless; also, in the castles of the opulent ones great entertainments are presented and various kinds of foods and victuals are served; the singing of melodious tunes and playing of musical instruments exhilarate and deeply affect the concourse. Associations for political affairs are formed and convivial banquets for pleasure and gratification are offered: assemblages for exhibition of arts and sciences, literature and acquirements are established: meetings for the promotion of industry and commercial matters are being held; extraordinary conventions and religious congresses are arranged.

But all these assemblages and different gatherings are not to be compared with and equal to this, our meeting. Although from those gatherings and conferences certain results and effects are produced which render great service to the human world and make mankind progress and develop on the plane of civilization, promulgate the attributes and virtues of the world of humanity; yet the results are limited, the fruits thereof are finite and the signs are bounded; whereas the traces, the lights and the results of this gathering are unlimited, boundless and infinite, for it is held on the Supreme Spot (the Tomb of the Báb) and under the shadow of the Blessed Beauty. 

November 16, 2013

Meaning of the term “soul” in various kingdoms of creation

March 2, 1917

As to the question concerning the soul, know thou, verily, that "soul" is a term applied to numerous realities, according to the exigencies of the following relations in regard to development in the world of existence:

(1) In the mineral kingdom, soul is called "latent force," silently working for the disintegration of the substance of the mineral.

(2) In the vegetable kingdom it is called “virtue augmentative," or the power of growth, which attracts and absorbs the delicate materials of inorganic substance found in the mineral kingdom of matter, and transforms them into the condition of growth. Thus the inorganic substance found in the mineral kingdom becomes growing vegetable life through the effect of the word of God. This vegetable soul, i. e. "virtue augmentative," or power of growth, is a quality which is produced by the admixture of elements, and appears in accidental organisms, of which contingency is an essential attribute.

(3) In the animal kingdom it is called "sense perceptions" (or instinct). This soul term, as applied to the animal kingdom, is also a natural quality resulting from the mixture of the elements, and it appears from their mingling and combination, for it is a quality which results from the composition of bodies (organisms) and is dispersed at their decomposition. From this we are to understand that the animal soul is not endowed with the capacity of attaining immortality, as the life force is dispersed at the decomposition of the animal tissues.

October 2, 2013

“… for existence there is no death … there is a transfer from one state to another.”

Excerpt from a talk at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Parsons, August 7, 1912, Dublin, USA

We must first prove that there is no annihilation in creation. Annihilation is only the decomposition of elements. For example, all these things we see in existence are made up of elements; that is, single atoms have combined and have formed infinite patterns. Every combination produces an entity. For example, through the combination of certain elements this flower has come into existence. Its annihilation means only the decomposition of this combination, it does not mean the destruction of the individual atoms or principal elements because these remain and will not be destroyed. When we say that this flower is destroyed we mean that its combination is decomposed but the principal elements remain; only their combination is destroyed.

In the same way, man has come into existence as the result of the combination of certain elements. Although his death is the disintegration of these elements, the elements are not annihilated. Therefore, life consists of the combination of elements and death of their dissolution or transference from one state to another. The transference of the vegetable to the animal world is the death of the former. Draw your own conclusions from this. Similarly, the transference of man from this world of matter and the dissolution of his elements constitute human death. Thus, it should be known that for existence there is no death. At most there is a transfer from one state to another. As the soul of man is not the result of composition and does not come into being through the affinity of molecular elements, it is not subject to disintegration. If it were, then we would say the soul has died. But because it is not composed, therefore it cannot be decomposed. And it is clear that even the basic elements are not subject to decomposition as they are not a compound composition. No doubt remains regarding this matter. 
~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, Dublin, USA, August 7, 1912; 'Mahmud's Diary')

September 15, 2013

‘Abdu’l-Bha tells the story of His prison life at the request of a reporter

Paris, 1911

(‘Abdu’l-Baha entered. With one impulse we arose, paying unconscious homage to the majesty of the station of servitude. Surely there can be no greater station than this! Instantly one felt an intangible something that stamped him as one apart. Try as one would it could not be defined. All that was tangible was the dome-like head with its patriarchal beard and eyes that suggested eternity. After greeting us he waved us to our seats and inquired if there were any questions we would like to ask. When informed that my editor had sent me to ascertain if he would speak of his prison life, ‘Abdu’l-Baha began at once to tell his story in a simple, impersonal way)

“At nine years of age, I was banished with my father, Baha’u’llah, on His journey of exile to Bagdad, Arabia; seventy of His followers accompanying us. This decree of exile after persistent persecution was intended to effectively stamp out of Persia what the authorities considered a dangerous movement. Baha’u’llah, His family and followers were driven from place to place.

When I was about twenty-five years old, we were moved from Constantinople to Adrianople and from there went with a guard of soldiers to the fortressed city of Acca where we were imprisoned and closely guarded.

There was no communication whatever with the outside world. Each loaf of bread was cut open by the guard to see that it contained no message. All who believed in the universal precepts of Baha’u’llah, children, men and women, were imprisoned with us. At one time there were one hundred and fifty of us together in two rooms and no one was allowed to leave the place except four people who went to the bazaar to market each morning under guard. 

Acca was a fever-ridden town in Palestine. It was said that a bird attempting to fly over it would drop dead. The food was poor and insufficient, the water was drawn from a fever-infected well and the climate and conditions were such that even the natives of the town fell ill. Many soldiers succumbed and eight out of ten of our guards died. During the intense heat of that first summer, malaria, typhoid, and dysentery attacked the prisoners, so that all the men, women and children were sick at one time. There were no doctors, no medicine, no proper food and no medical treatment of any kind. I used to make broth for the people and as I had much practice, I made good broth, (said ‘Abdu’l-Baha, laughingly).

August 31, 2013

The “sons of the Kingdom are of two kinds. One is the real son and the other is the material one.”

 Akka 1901

It is stated in the New Testament that Jesus Christ was once drinking the juice of grapes and said he would drink no more except in the presence of the Father. This means that the spirit needs food for strength as well as the body. The appearance of the Holy Manifestations is for the purpose of causing the heavenly table to descend. This Table means the divine virtues and characteristics and is the means of strengthening the spirit and life. Therefore we hope that as this heavenly table has descended from the Kingdom of Abha in this marvelous period the believers and friends of God will have a great portion of it so that they will be the cause of eternal life and the means of enlightening the hearts of the people of the World.

In short, I hope you will ask God to bless you as being the real sons of the Kingdom. Because the sons of the Kingdom are of two kinds. One is the real son and the other is the material one. Judas Iscariot and Peter were both sons of the Kingdom but Peter was the real son, Judas was the material son. Consequently he was deprived. The real sons of the Kingdom are those souls who act according to the instructions and teachings of Baha’u’llah, the Blessed Perfection. They are drunken with the cup of Providence and are illuminated by the divine Light. They are honored by all the perfections and virtues of humanity, and are characterized with attributes which embellish the essence of man in such a manner that all the people even the enemies testify of their good actions, attractions, separation from the world, purity, sanctity, knowledge and belief.

In conclusion I most humbly supplicate that God will admit you as the real sons of His Kingdom in such manner that you may be an honor to the Cause of God. And that all the people being astonished may say: 'These young men are not the same. When they started for Acca they had a station but on their return they possess another station. They are baptized by the providence of God, by the fire of the love of God, and by the Holy Spirit. They have received a second birth. They have found eternal life. 
~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a table talk; excerpt from the transcript of a talk given by William Copeland Dodge relating the account of his pilgrimage to ‘Akka in 1901) (To listen to and read the entire talk please visit Baha’i Talks, Messages and Articles)

August 15, 2013

“calamities in the path of God will cause His truth to become more apparent”

Akka, 1901

When this blessed Cause was manifested in Persia some of the divines and famous learned men became believers and were martyred. The people murdered the Báb thinking they had ended the Holy Cause. They annihilated thousands of families, plundered the goods of the believers, killed men and captured women and children. However it was found that this had no destructive effect upon the Cause but that the flaming fire of God was kindled the more. The lamp of God became more brilliant, waves of the sea of bounty increased, the breeze of God blew stronger, and the fragrance of the Holy Spirit became more powerful. And after imprisoning the Blessed Perfection the government decided to banish Him to Baghdad thinking that through this banishment the work of the Cause would be destroyed. As it took one month to go from Teheran to Baghdad it was thought by the people that all trace of the Cause would be lost. On the contrary, the Cause of God became more powerful, His words more widely spread, His proclamation more generally heard and the power of His Cause is stronger. Consequently the government decided to send the Blessed Perfection from Baghdad to Constantinople. As Constantinople was a large city and as there were many Persians in the city who traveled freely this plan also proved fruitless. Through the power of the Persian government the Blessed Perfection was then sent to Adrianople, in Rumelia, a country very far from Persia and a possession of Turkey. Because there was no railway there was very little travel by the Persians to and from Adrianople, and therefore it was thought by the learned men of Persia that the Cause of God would have no effect upon the Persians. However it was soon learned that these places were not places of banishment for the Blessed Perfection, glory be to Him. And it was therefore decided that He should be sent to some small place, a place were murderers were confined, where robbers were imprisoned so that His cause would be weakened.

July 26, 2013

“I am the servant of Baha”

Akka, 1901

In this greatest period there are only two Manifestations. The Blessed Báb, may my soul be a ransom to Him, and a Manifestation of the Blessed Perfection, glory be to Him. We are all the servants of the threshold of Baha. And the one who serves most in His holy Threshold is the most beloved. My greatest wish and desire is submissiveness and servitude at His Holy Threshold. My name ‘Abdu’l-Baha means the servant of God. My heart is the servant of Baha. And my spirit is the servant of Baha and rejoices only in this name. My purpose is love not only by word but by action. The essence of all essence is love, which is like unto the meat of the nut while all else is like unto the shell or outside. Through the providence of the Blessed Perfection our spirits must be full of the love of God. Therefore anyone who ask you about me, should be told that I am the servant of Baha, because this is my only wish.

July 16, 2013

The teachings, proofs and evidences of the divine Manifestations (Prophets) are one -- They differ in name and form “but in reality They agree and are the same.”

28 May 1912
Talk at Reception at Metropolitan Temple
Seventh Avenue and Fourteenth Street, New York
(Notes by Esther Foster)

The Fatherhood of God, His loving-kindness and beneficence are apparent to all. In His mercy He provides fully and amply for His creatures, and if any soul sins, He does not suspend His bounty. All created things are visible manifestations of His Fatherhood, mercy and heavenly bestowals. Human brotherhood is, likewise, as clear and evident as the sun, for all are servants of one God, belong to one humankind, inhabit the same globe, are sheltered beneath the overshadowing dome of heaven and submerged in the sea of divine mercy. Human brotherhood and dependence exist because mutual helpfulness and cooperation are the two necessary principles underlying human welfare. This is the physical relationship of mankind. There is another brotherhood—the spiritual—which is higher, holier and superior to all others. It is heavenly; it emanates from the breaths of the Holy Spirit and the effulgence of merciful attributes; it is founded upon spiritual susceptibilities. This brotherhood is established by the Manifestations of the Holy One.

June 25, 2013

Many Prophets visited Mount Carmel

This mountain [Carmel] is where Israel's prophets passed their nights in prayers. Every step of it has been blessed by the footsteps of the prophets .... This land will be the envy of the world, the center of arts and sciences. 'Akka and Haifa will be connected and all the vacant lands will be cultivated. All these caves that you see have been the abode of the prophets, step by step. Every atom of this soil is holy. All the prophets, while praying, longed to reach this day and give the glad tidings of the coming of the Lord. They prophesied that the Lord of Hosts would come and the tent of the Lord would be pitched on Mount Carmel. ... in all these mountains and caves the prophets of God prayed at night, shed tears, and longed to be with us in these days of the Blessed Beauty. Since I am a prisoner and cannot move, you make a pilgrimage on My behalf. My utmost desire is to go and visit in freedom, but I cannot. You go on behalf of 'Abdu'l-Baha and make a pilgrimage to all of the Holy Places ... and beseech God's bounty. I cannot go. I am a prisoner. I am reincarcerated, and I have no permission to go out. The government prohibits me. 
-‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From talks to pilgrim in 1907; ’Memories of Dr. Habib Mu’ayyad’, pp. 19, 21, 22, 53; include in the book: ‘Zikrullah Khadem, The Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God’)

Many Israelitish prophets either lived here or passed a portion of their lives or sojourned for a while or spent the last days of their existence on this mountain.... Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, David, Solomon, Moses, Isaiah, Zechariah and, last of all, Christ. Elijah lived on Mount Carmel. ... His Holiness Christ came to this holy mountain many times. 
~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk in 1914, quoted in Mirza Ahmad Sohrab, ‘Mount Carmel, the Vineyard of God,’ in Star of the West, vol. 14, no. 5, August 1923; include in the book: ‘Zikrullah Khadem, The Itinerant Hand of the Cause of God’)

June 8, 2013

Advice given by ‘Abdu’l-Baha to a believer about marriage and family life

December 22, 1918 

Now that thou art returning to America thou must think of taking unto thyself a wife. Do thou choose a girl who may be suitable to thy intellectual and spiritual ideals. She must be wise, intelligent, and a symbol of aspiring perfection. She must take an interest in all the problems pertaining to thy life, and be thy companion and partner in every phase of thy existence. She must be sympathetic, kind-hearted, happy, and endowed with a joyful disposition. Then thou must devote thyself to her happiness and love her with a glorious, spiritual love.

Before choosing a wife a man must think soberly and seriously that this girl will be his friend throughout all his life. It is not a temporary matter. She is a soul with whom he must associate all the days of his life; she will be his mate and his intimate confidant; therefore, day by day their love and their attachment to each other must increase.

The greatest bond that will unite the hearts of man and wife is faithfulness and loyalty. Both must exercise toward each other the utmost faithfulness and loyalty and not let any trace of jealousy creep between them; for this thing like unto poison vitiates the very foundation of love.

May 15, 2013

When “the souls that are not good die, they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone.”

Question: Are there "earthbound" souls who try to have, and do have, an influence over people, sometimes taking entire possession of their wills?

'Abdu'l-Baha answered, "There are no earthbound souls. When the souls that are not good die, they go entirely away from this earth and so cannot influence anyone. They are spiritually dead. Their thoughts can have influence only while they are alive on the earth. Caiaphas had great influence during his life, but as soon as he died, his influence ceased. It was of this kind that Christ said, 'Let the dead bury their dead.' But the good souls are given eternal life, and sometimes God permits their thoughts to reach the earth to help the people." ('Abdu'l-Baha,fFrom a table talk, ‘Daily Lessons Received at Akka January 1908”, by Helen Goodall and Ella Goodall Cooper)

April 4, 2013

Source of evil thoughts

Question: What is the source of evil thoughts that disturb those who do not wish to entertain them?

Answer by 'Abdu'l-Baha: They come from other minds; they are reflected. One should not become a mirror for them - to reflect them; neither should one try to control them, for this is impossible; it only aggravates the difficulty, causing more to appear.

One should constantly turn the mirror of his heart squarely toward God so that the Light of the Sun of Truth may be reflected there.

This is the only cure for attacks of evil thoughts. The face of the mirror should be turned toward God, and the back of the mirror toward the evil thoughts. 
('Abdu'l-Baha, from a table talk, ‘Daily Lessons Received at Akka January 1908”, by Helen Goodall and Ella Goodall Cooper)

March 8, 2013

In creation: “Everything is interlinked.”

June 19, New York

Another friend asked about tribulations and unexpected accidents.

‘Abdu'l-Bahá replied:

The chain of creation is interwoven in a natural law and divine order. Everything is interlinked. A link cannot be broken without affecting that natural order. Everything that happens is in conformity with this order and is based on consummate wisdom. Because it is decreed by God that every plant that grows must wither, all flourishing vegetation must fade away, every combination must disperse and all compositions must disintegrate. These are the necessary consequences of that universal law and of all relationships and is interpreted as divine decree. 
(Abdu’l-Baha, from a talk, June 19, New York; ‘Mahmud’s Diary’)

February 14, 2013

“According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages.”

Now I want to tell you about the law of God. According to the Divine law, employees should not be paid merely by wages. Nay, rather they should be partners in every work. The question of socialization is very difficult. It will not be solved by strikes for wages. All the governments of the world must be united, and organize an assembly, the members of which shall be elected from the parliaments and the noble ones of the nations. These must plan with wisdom and power, so that neither the capitalists suffer enormous losses, nor the laborers become needy. In the utmost moderation they should make the law, then announce to the public that the rights of the working people are to be effectively preserved; also the rights of the capitalists are to be protected. When such a general law is adopted, by the will of both sides, should a strike occur, all the governments of the world should collectively resist it. Otherwise the work will lead to much destruction, especially in Europe. Terrible things will take place. 
(‘Abdu'l-Bahá, from a talk, Dublin, New Hampshire, 1912; ‘Baha'u'llah and the New Era’, by Dr. J.E. Esslemont)

January 8, 2013

How to cut one’s heart from the world

One of the believers asked how we could cut our hearts from the world, and 'Abdu'l-Baha answered:

“If your hearts are turned always toward God, and filled with the love of God, that love will separate them from all other things,  that love will be the wall that will come between them and every other desire. You must all be joined one to another in heart and soul, then you will be prospered in your work and gain ever greater gifts, and the Cause of God will be spread through all the countries by your means. Remember what Christ said; you have taken the gifts of God without money and without price; so also you must freely give. This command shows too that all these gifts are sent to you by the free generosity of your God and not on account of any merit on your part, and you must rejoice greatly in the loving mercy of your God upon you and all. For all will taste of these free gifts before long. They will come from the East and from the West to the Kingdom of God; and even as Christ has foretold this also has come to pass, that some of those who are nearest are cut off, whilst those from a far distance receive these great gifts.” (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha quoted by May Maxwell in ‘An Early Pilgrimage’, 1898)