December 25, 2015

The “people of the West are very faithful in their hearts…”

October 23, 1911
Paris, France

When a man has found joy in one place he returns to that same place to find his joy again. When a man has found gold in a mine he will return again to that mine to find more gold; this is a natural law and shows forth the vital and spiritual powers which God has bestowed upon man, and the natural instinct which is born in him. The Great Light of the Spirit has ever arisen in the East, but it has shed forth its radiance into the West.  And in the West has it found its greatest force of expansion.

The Christ rose like a star in the horizon of the East, but the Light of His influence has taken root more firmly in the West. This shows us that the people of the West are very faithful in their hearts and they do not easily forget. The West is like a good plant. When the rain falls gently upon it to give it nourishment and the sun shines upon it to give it warmth, then does it blossom forth and bear good fruit.

It is a long time since the Sun of Righteousness has shed its Radiance upon the West, for the Face of God has been hidden by the sin and forgetfulness of man; but now, thanks be to God! the Sun shines forth in all its glory and the breath of the Holy Spirit is watchful over the nations. Let us pray to God that the light and refreshment may awaken the people and give them new life, that they shall find a second life and there shall be a new creation. Humanity shall put on a new garment and the Mercy of God will be showered upon the people. My earnest desire is that you will work for this end, that you may be the cause of it. It is certain that the Flag of Divinity has been raised and the Sun of Righteousness of God appears upon the horizon. Be faithful and loving workers that you may be among the blest of God and receive the benefits of the Kingdom of Abhá. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, October 23, 1911, Paris, France; ‘Star of the West Vol. 2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

December 12, 2015

Need to acknowledge the existence of the spiritual Sun and our dependence on Him –just like our dependence on the physical sun

October 20, 1911
Paris, France

The sun shines upon the earth, giving light and warmth to all creatures. The Sun of Truth also shines, giving light and warmth to the souls of men. All existing creatures need the sun to shine upon them and develop them that they may grow.  The souls of men also need the Sun of Truth to shine upon them, to educate and encourage them. Circumstances that benefit the body do not benefit the soul, and the soul of man is his reality, not his body, i.e., there are some men who are perfected in material things and very backward in the spiritual. Likewise many, who are at the bottom of the social and material ladder, are very much advanced spiritually.

Galien, a Greek Philosopher who died at the time when the Christian Religion was in its growth - and was not himself a Christian - wrote many books about material civilization and development. He states as his belief that Religion is the basis of all true civilization, that is to say that not only must the brain and gifts of a nation be educated, but also the moral character. The Christians; he points out, are an example to show the truth of this theory, for theirs was the basis upon which the largest and most prosperous civilization of the world had been founded and their morals were very high. They were taught not to fear death, and to love their neighbours as themselves and live only for the good of humanity, and only to think of doing good to mankind.

If these principles had been carefully carried out by the followers of Jesus Christ, then there would be no need for the world to be reawakened. But winter fell upon the hearts of men, and God sent His prophets to shine upon them with the Spring of the Sun of righteousness that they may be again awakened and blossom forth and bear fruit. Because mankind has shut its ears to the Voice of God and has neglected His teachings, wars and tumults, unrest and misery have fallen upon them. Let us make every effort to reopen the hearts of men to the Will of God. I pray God to give you power to bring humanity beneath the rays of the Sun of Truth and Peace. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, October 20, 1911, Paris, France; ‘Star of the West Vol. 2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

November 26, 2015

“Healing comes from God… Medicine is merely an outward form or means…”

October 19, 1911
Paris, France

Healing comes from God, if the heavenly benediction be upon us while we are being healed, then only can we be truly healed. All depends upon God. Medicine is merely an outward form or means by which we obtain heavenly healing; without the Heavenly Benediction it is worth nothing.

If man looks at the nature of the world around him, he will see that all created beings are dependent upon something, i.e., man is dependent for his life upon the air which he breathes, likewise the animals which are upon the earth, and each created being is dependent for its life upon some material circumstances. Man, therefore, and all creatures are prisoners of nature. The sun must follow his law, the earth must follow his law of motion, the sea also hers. But, by the spiritual power of God, which, through His Bounty, He has bestowed upon men alone, man is enabled to defy the laws of nature in many and wonderful ways, i.e., it is the law of nature that man should walk upon the earth, but he defies this law, for he sojourns upon the water and also flies, like the bird, through the air.

Through the wonderful spiritual power which God gives to man, man is enabled to reach the Kingdom of Heaven; but behold! man is not grateful and is careless of the great mercy which God has shown him. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, October 19, 1911, Paris, France; ‘Star of the West Vol. 2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

November 14, 2015

Travelling

October 17, 1911
Paris, France

Travelling is a very good thing. It opens the eyes and broadens the horizon.

In the East one may behold vast and desert places where once lay peopled towns; this shows the Hand of Almighty God. History shows us how every nation which was against the Will of God has eventually been quite destroyed; and, accordingly, each nation which has listened to the Voice of God has prospered. When travelling one makes discoveries of strange things, i.e., the Emperors of Rome ruled over many thousands of people and were famous and powerful, but now the Emperors are dead and their power has vanished. Whereas the Christians began by being a small band of eleven disciples following Christ and living after His teaching, now there are many Christians all over the world and Christ's influence shall never die. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, October 18, 1911, Paris, France; ‘Star of the West’, vol.2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

October 18, 2015

The Relation between Thought and Action

18 October 1911
Paris, France

You must not only think thoughts, but do actions.  The reality of men is their thoughts and their spirits, not their material bodies.  Man and animal with regard to matter are partners. The difference is that man has the power of thought.

Thoughts may be divided into two classes: 
1.  The world of thought alone. 
2.  The world of thought which expresses itself in action. 

For instance, philosophers belong to the first class, for they only think heavenly thoughts and do not do heavenly deeds. Whereas spiritual teachers belong to the second class, for they express their high and noble thoughts in actions as soon as they think them. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, from a talk; 'Star of the West’, vol.2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

September 12, 2015

“Bear in your heart great love to all races on earth”

17 October 1911
Paris, France

I wish you to study the works of the Blessed Beauty and to live according to His teaching. The basis of the teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is as follows: 

Bear in your heart great love to all races on earth, to the ends that unity may be established between them. Take an interest in everyone and find out how you can help them, so that all may see that your love is truly universal. Do the Will of God, do not only speak about it; the elect of God do this. People do much speaking to advance their own glory and to make themselves appear superior to their neighbours. But if you do the Will of God and do not blazon it abroad, then you will change the whole world. They who do most speak least.

Man must ever be thinking of drawing nearer to God…

I hope that you will someday be able to hinder such actions, and thus enable justice to reign everywhere. I hope you will be able to make all hearts pure and tender, all efforts sincere, so that everyone may work for the good of humanity. This is my prayer and desire. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, from a talk,;Star of the West’, vol.2, no. 16, December 31, 1911)

August 8, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s talk on the eve of His departure from London to Paris – some British dignitaries were also present

London, October 1911

O noble friends and seekers for the Kingdom of God!  God be praised!

We see the light of love is shining in the East and the West; and the tent of intercourse is raised in the centre of the world for the drawing together of hearts and souls. The call of the Kingdom has gone all over the world. The annunciation of the world's Universal Peace has enlightened the world's conscience. My hope is that by the zeal and ardour of the pure-hearted, the darkness of hatred and differences will be entirely abolished, and the light of love and unity will shine more brightly.  This world shall become a new world. Things material will become the mirror of the Kingdom. Human hearts will meet and embrace each other. The whole world shall become as a man's native country; and different races shall be counted as one race. Then disputes and differences will vanish, and the Divine Beloved will be revealed in the society of mankind. It is because the East and the West are illumined by the One Sun, all races, nations, and creeds are the servants of the One God. The whole earth is one home, and all peoples are bathed in the ocean 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 these differences and quarrels. Praise be to God! the signs of friendship are appearing, and a proof of this is that today I - an Easterner - in the London of the West have received extreme kindness, regard, and love, and I am deeply thankful and happy. I shall never forget this time I have spent with you. I leave you with extreme regret, and with prayers for you, that all the beauty of the Kingdom may be yours. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of 'Abdu'l-Baha, from a talk, Star of the West, vol. 2, no. 13, November 4, 1911; reprinted from Christian Commonwealth, October 4, 1911)

July 18, 2015

Religion is the “first bestowal of God to the world of humanity”

San Francisco’s Jewish Temple (Emmanu-El)
October 12, 1912
San Francisco

The first bestowal of God to the world of humanity is religion because religion consists of divine teachings. Certainly divine teachings are preferable to all other sources of instructions.

Religion confers upon man life everlasting. Religion is a service to the world of morality. Religion guides humanity to eternal happiness. Religion is the cause of everlasting honor to the world of man. Religion has ever helped humanity towards progress.

But the proof must be established. To achieve this end, we should investigate religion as seekers of truth. When we do so, we find that religion is the cause of progress and development. Let us see, then, whether or not religion is the cause of illumination; whether or not religion is the impetus which enables man to make extraordinary strides.

Let us investigate in search of truth, without being bound by blind imitations or dogmas. If we are bound by blind imitations, some will believe that religion is the cause of happiness and others will say that religion has been the cause of degradation. Hence, we must investigate whether religion is the cause of human advancement or of retrogression, so that no doubt shall linger in our minds.

We shall therefore investigate the Prophets and review the episodes of their lives. We shall avoid traditions that some will find it possible to repudiate and shall cite historical facts provable to all and which are irrefutable. They are these:

Among the Prophets was Abraham, who prohibited idolatry and was a herald of the oneness of God, consequently He was banished by the people from His native land.

June 21, 2015

The Meaning of the Nineteen-Day Feast

19-Day Feast
London, December 29, 1912
[At the Time of the Meeting of International Peace Arbitration Committee]

These delegates who have gathered in the Peace Conference are like merchants; each strives to compete for victory with his rival. Even if peace were established it would be but temporary. Years ago there was an international peace agreement, but wars have continued notwithstanding. If such conferences were endowed with the power to establish an enduring peace, the world would have been at rest long ago.

Praise be to God, souls have assembled here with pure intention. That which is the means of love and fellowship in the world of humanity is acceptable at the divine threshold, and that which is conducive to the warfare of mankind, or any movement which brings rancor, hatred and animosity, is not acceptable.

All the holy and inspired messengers who have appeared in the history of the world have, as the fulfillment of their mission, the promotion of love and amity in the hearts of the people. In order that the members of the world of humanity might associate with each other, these divine souls have utilized every means, for it has been the aim of all the prophets of God to bring about reconciliation and fellowship among the sons of men. The divine philosophers and scholars of history strove with all their power to bring about this ideal condition. In this highway they have given up wealth, property and possessions. For this central principle of peace more than twenty thousand in the Orient have given up their lives. While under the sword of execution, their great desire was this fulfillment; while in pillory they longed for the effulgence of the Holy Spirit; while actually being hewn asunder, they went to death with the greatest joy and felicity, knowing that their martyrdom hastened the millennium. Consider to what an extent they were self-sacrificing. They were happy and ready to give up everything, even to life itself.

May 10, 2015

Reincarnation

2 June 1912
Church of the Ascension
New York

Question: What is your belief about reincarnation?

Answer: The subject of reincarnation has two aspects. One is that which the Hindustani people believe, and even that is subdivided into two: reincarnation and metempsychosis. According to one belief the soul goes and then returns in certain reincarnations; therefore, they say that a sick person is sick because of actions in a previous incarnation and that this is retribution. The other school of Hinduism believes that man sometimes appears as an animal—a donkey, for instance—and that this is retribution for past acts. I am referring to the beliefs in that country, the beliefs of the schools. There is a reincarnation of the prophetic mission. Jesus Christ, speaking of John the Baptist, declared he was Elias. When John the Baptist was questioned, “Art thou Elias?” he said, “I am not.” These two statements are apparently contradictory, but in reality they do not contradict. The light is one light. The light which illumined this lamp last night is illuminating it tonight. This does not mean that the identical rays of light have reappeared but the virtues of illumination. The light which revealed itself through the glass reveals itself again so that we can say the light of this evening is the light of last evening relighted. This is as regards its virtues and not as regards its former identity. This is our view of reincarnation. We believe in that which Jesus Christ and all the Prophets have believed. For example, the Báb states, “I am the return of all the Prophets.” This is significant of the oneness of the prophetic virtues, the oneness of power, the oneness of bestowal, the oneness of radiation, the oneness of expression, the oneness of revelation. 
~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, 2 June, 1912, New York; ‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’)

April 19, 2015

“Manifestations of God have three stations: the physical station, the station of the rational soul, and the station of divine manifestation and heavenly splendour.”

Know that, while the Manifestations of God possess infinite virtues and perfections, They occupy only three stations: The first is the material station; the second is the human station, which is that of the rational soul; and the third is that of divine manifestation and heavenly splendour.

As for the material station, it has an origin in time, for it is composed of the elements, and every composition must ultimately be decomposed. It is indeed impossible for composition not to be followed by disintegration.

The second station is that of the rational soul, which is the human reality. This also has a beginning, and the Manifestations of God share it in common with all humanity.

The third station is that of divine manifestation and heavenly splendour, which is the Word of God, the everlasting Grace, and the Holy Spirit. This station has neither beginning nor end; for firstness and lastness pertain to the contingent world and not to the world of God. For God the beginning and the end are one and the same. Similarly, the reckoning of days, weeks, months, and years—of yesterday and today—is made with respect to the earth; but in the sun such things are unknown: There is neither yesterday, nor today, nor tomorrow, neither months nor years—all are equal. Likewise, the Word of God is sanctified above all these conditions and exalted beyond every law, constraint, or limitation that may exist in the contingent world.

March 29, 2015

‘Abdu’l-Baha’s health and happiness

My health and happiness are in this, when I see the friends of God engaged in spreading the divine fragrances, arising to serve the Cause of God, forgetting every thought save that of teaching, casting into the corner of forgetfulness every matter but that of unity and harmony. Consider in every age what confirmation and assistance were received by those souls who devoted their time to serving the Cause and spreading the divine fragrances. On the contrary, those who were absorbed by personal interests or political affairs degraded not only themselves but their associates. Thus, in this day, the friends of God should see that all glory lies in teaching the Cause of God and that every happiness is found in the shadow of the Word of God. 
~ 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha after His return to the Holy Land from America, recorded by Dr. Zia Baghdadi, December 9, 1913; ‘Star of the West, vol. 9, no. 2, April 9, 1918)

March 8, 2015

Question: What is the significance of the word "He is God" which appears as the heading of every Tablet and Prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha?

'Abdu'l-Baha’s answer: This is a usage of the people of the East; it is of Islam. Their purpose is that in every matter the commencement should be in the Name of God (i.e., everything we do must begin with the Name of God). As to its observance in the divine tablets, the purport is this: The reality of the Divine Entity is holy above comprehension, beyond definition, and far from the reach of imagination, for that which is imagined is finite, of man, and thereto man is infinite; and certainly the infinite is greater than the finite. Therefore, it is made evident that what is imagined is a creation and not the Creator, for the Essence of Divinity is beyond human imagination. 

Now all people worship an imagination, for they have created a God in the realm of imagination and him they worship. If you ask a soul, when he is praying, who art thou worshiping? He will say, God. Which God? The God of my conception. When, in truth, what he imagines is not God. Hence, all people are worshippers of imaginations and ideals. Consequently, there is no pathway or escape for man except the Holy Manifestations, for, as we said the Essence of Divinity is pure, is holy and cannot be brought into the world of ideas. That which can be brought to ideation are the Holy and Divine Manifestations. Further than this, man has no other point for concentration. If he exceed that bound, it will be an imagination.

Therefore, the purpose of the word "He is God" is this: That visible Majesty (the prophet) is the Promised Beauty of the Sun of Reality, the Manifestation of the mysteries of Divinity and Deity, the Revealer of the mysteries of the Merciful, the Origin of the signs of singleness. And I begin with His Blessed Name. 
~ ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a table talk in Akka in 1907, notes taken by Corinne True; ‘Notes Taken at Acca’, booklet published by Baha’i Publishing Society, Chicago 1907) 

January 11, 2015

Human existence is not “among those things that have appeared in the world of being and that are due to the exigencies of nature.”

Nature is that condition or reality which outwardly is the source of the life and death, or, in other words, of the composition and decomposition, of all things.

This nature is subject to a sound organization, to inviolable laws, to a perfect order, and to a consummate design, from which it never departs. To such an extent is this true that were you to gaze with the eye of insight and discernment, you would observe that all things — from the smallest invisible atom to the largest globes in the world of existence, such as the sun or the other great stars and luminous bodies — are most perfectly organized, be it with regard to their order, their composition, their outward form, or their motion, and that all are subject to one universal law from which they never depart.

When you consider nature itself, however, you see that it has neither awareness nor will. For instance, the nature of fire is to burn; it burns without consciousness or will. The nature of water is to flow; it flows without consciousness or will. The nature of the sun is to shed light; it shines without consciousness or will. The nature of vapour is to rise; it rises without consciousness or will. It is therefore evident that the natural movements of all created things are compelled, and that nothing moves of its own will save animals and, in particular, man.

Man is able to resist and oppose nature inasmuch as he discovers the natures of things and, by virtue of this discovery, has mastery over nature itself. Indeed, all the crafts that man has devised proceed from this discovery. For example, he has invented the telegraph, which connects the East and the West. It is therefore evident that man rules over nature.