Archive for April, 2010

Seasons spiritual and material

      April lilacs in Tacoma announce that spring has arrived.

The kingdom of Heaven resembles the year. As the year has four seasons, so also the kingdom
, and remember that the seasons are caused by
the movement of the earth, and not by the movement of the sun.

Before the coming of the spring, the earth looks as if dead and lifeless, but when it appears,
all the world seems to spring into life and brightness  — into a new existence of beauty and joy.
All nature is clad in fresh green, the grass springs up, the leaves bud, and the trees are
covered with blossoms. But the spring passes, and then comes the summer, in which the promise
of the spring is fulfilled; the spring blossoms ripen into fruit, and the fields are covered with
yellow grain; the result of the new life of the spring is manifested. Then comes the autumn,
in which the life of the spring and summer begins slowly to fade, and finally winter
comes round, and the life of the earth seems to be completely extinct — dead.

So it is also in the spiritual things. The cycle of every prophet has its period of spring, of
summer, of autumn and of winter. When Moses appeared, and the new Life and Light of
God shone on the earth through him, the people to whom he came were as dead souls — without
life. But when he gave his teaching, then began the spring time of souls, and they awoke
into life, full of joy and beauty. Afterwards came the period of their summertime when the
lives of these followers of Moses had become gradually fashioned and moulded by his teachings,
and the fruit of his labors appeared. But after a time, hearts became heavy, faith grew
slack, and the people gradually lost the truth and reality of the revelation of their great teacher,
and then presently the period of their winter came, when they grew corrupted by outer
influences, and were as dead, without fruits and without life.

Then came the spring time of the revelation of Jesus Christ, which also, in its cycle, passed
through the periods of rise, fullness, decline and fall, until, at the time of the appearance of Mohammed,
the people were as dead — given over to materialities and dogmas, having lost the truth of the revelation of the Manifested Word.

So too, with the revelation of Mohammed, it also passed through these same conditions, till,
when the Blessed Perfection appeared, again the time of spring came to this earth, and to souls
enveloped and shrouded in darkness, a new season of life and joy and gladness begin. (The
people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the
shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.)

That passage of the Old Testament in which it is said that Jerusalem shall go into the wilderness,
could not mean that the city of Palestine should be removed into the wilderness — no, it
means that a new Revelation of God should appear in the wilderness, which took place when
Mohammed preached to those wild tribes in the desert — savage, uncivilized people as they were.

But always, when the word of God is manifested, the eyes of the spiritually blind are
opened, the ears that were deaf to the Voice of the Holy Spirit, are at last unsealed; those who
were crippled in the powers of their soul, become strong; the lame man leaps as an hart, and
the tongue of the dumb shall sing the praises of God.

The First Day of Ridván, April 21st

 

Photo courtesy of Médiathèque baha’ie at www.bahai-biblio.org.

Rejoice with exceeding gladness, O people of Bahá, as ye call to remembrance the Day of supreme felicity, the Day whereon the Tongue of the Ancient of Days hath spoken, as He departed from His House, proceeding to the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendors of His name, the All-Merciful. God is Our witness. Were We to reveal the hidden secrets of that Day, all they that dwell on earth and in the heavens would swoon away and die, except such as will be preserved by God, the Almighty, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.

Bahá’u’lláh

~

He Who is the Eternal Truth hath, from the Day Spring of Glory, directed His eyes towards the people of Bahá, and is addressing them in these words: “Address yourselves to the promotion of the well-being and tranquillity of the children of men. Bend your minds and wills to the education of the peoples and kindreds of the earth, that haply the dissensions that divide it may, through the power of the Most Great Name, be blotted out from its face, and all mankind become the upholders of one Order,  and the inhabitants of one City. Illumine and hallow your hearts; let them not be profaned by the thorns of hate or the thistles of malice. Ye dwell in one world, and have been created through the operation of one Will. Blessed is he who mingleth with all men in a spirit of utmost kindliness and love.”

 Bahá’u’lláh

~

Consider the pettiness of men’s minds. They ask for that which injureth them, and cast away the thing that profiteth them. They are, indeed, of those that are far astray. We find some men desiring liberty, and priding themselves therein. Such men are in the depths of ignorance.

Liberty must, in the end, lead to sedition, whose flames none can quench. Thus warneth you He Who is the Reckoner, the All-Knowing. Know ye that the embodiment of liberty and its symbol is the animal.  That which beseemeth man is submission unto such restraints as will protect him from his own ignorance, and guard him against the harm of the mischief-maker. Liberty causeth man to overstep the bounds of propriety, and to infringe on the dignity of his station. It debaseth him to the level of extreme depravity and wickedness.

Regard men as a flock of sheep that need a shepherd for their protection. This, verily, is the truth, the certain truth. We approve of liberty in certain circumstances, and refuse to sanction it in others. We, verily, are the All-Knowing.

Say: True liberty consisteth in man’s submission unto My commandments, little as ye know it. Were men to observe that which We have sent down unto them from the Heaven of Revelation, they would, of a certainty, attain unto perfect liberty. Happy is the man that hath apprehended the Purpose of God in whatever He hath revealed from the Heaven of His Will, that pervadeth all created things. Say: The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.

 Bahá’u’lláh

 

Festival of Ridván, Bahá’í Elections, and Señor Wences

 

An old view of the Najibiyyih Garden in Baghdad along the Tigris River. Photo courtesy of Médiathèque baha’ie at http://www.bahaibiblio.org.

The nine days between April 21st and May 2nd mark the most important festival on the Bahá’í calendar. Here are the words of Shoghi Effendi:

The arrival of Bahá’u’lláh in the Najibiyyih Garden, subsequently designated by His followers the Garden of Ridvan, signalizes the commencement of what has come to be recognized as the holiest and most significant of all Bahá’í festivals, the festival commemorating the Declaration of His Mission to His companions. So momentous a Declaration may well be regarded both as the logical consummation of that revolutionizing process which was initiated by Himself upon His return from Sulaymaniyyih, and as a prelude to the final proclamation of that same Mission to the world and its rulers from Adrianople.

 Shoghi Effendi

Ridván (pronounced rez-vawn or rez-wawn) is the time set for Bahá’ís throughout the world to elect the members of their local and national governing councils (Local and National Spiritual Assemblies). The elections of  Spiritual Assemblies take place between sunset, April 20th and sunset April 21st.

April 20th is also the anniversary of the passing to the next world of Señor Wences, whose ventriloquist act was the source of happiness for children and adults for several decades. Wenceslao Moreno (his real name) was the webmaster’s favorite act on The Ed Sullivan Show! Here is a link to his appearance on The Muppet Show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AaIDmiFXmo. He died in 1999 at the age of 103. The world is a better place because of Señor Wences.

Let all eyes rejoice, and let every ear be gladdened

Release yourselves, O nightingales of God, from the thorns and brambles of wretchedness and misery, and wing your flight to the rose-garden of unfading splendor. O My friends that dwell upon the dust! Haste forth unto your celestial habitation. Announce unto yourselves the joyful tidings: “He Who is the Best-Beloved is come! He hath crowned Himself with the glory of God’s Revelation, and hath unlocked to the face of men the doors of His ancient Paradise.” Let all eyes rejoice, and let every ear be gladdened, for now is the time to gaze on His beauty, now is the fit time to hearken to His voice. Proclaim unto every longing lover: “Behold, your Well-Beloved hath come among men!” and to the messengers of the Monarch of love impart the tidings: “Lo, the Adored One hath appeared arrayed in the fullness of His glory!” O lovers of His beauty! Turn the anguish of your separation from Him into the joy of an everlasting reunion, and let the sweetness of His presence dissolve the bitterness of your remoteness from His court.

Behold how the manifold grace of God, which is being showered from the clouds of Divine glory, hath, in this day, encompassed the world. For whereas in days past every lover besought and searched after his Beloved, it is the Beloved Himself Who now is calling His lovers and is inviting them to attain His presence. Take heed lest ye forfeit so precious a favor; beware lest ye belittle so remarkable a token of His grace. Abandon not the incorruptible benefits, and be not content with that which perisheth. Lift up the veil that obscureth your vision, and dispel the darkness with which it is enveloped, that ye may gaze on the naked beauty of the Beloved’s face, may behold that which no eye hath beheld, and hear that which no ear hath heard.

Hear Me, ye mortal birds! In the Rose Garden of changeless splendor a Flower hath begun to bloom, compared to which every other flower is but a thorn, and before the brightness of Whose glory the very essence of beauty must pale and wither. Arise, therefore, and, with the whole enthusiasm of your hearts, with all the eagerness of your souls, the full fervor of your will, and the concentrated efforts of your entire being, strive to attain the paradise of His presence, and endeavor to inhale the fragrance of the incorruptible Flower, to breathe the sweet savors of holiness, and to obtain a portion of this perfume of celestial glory. Whoso followeth this counsel will break his chains asunder, will taste the abandonment of enraptured love, will attain unto his heart’s desire, and will surrender his soul into the hands of his Beloved. Bursting through his cage, he will, even as the bird of the spirit, wing his flight to his holy and everlasting nest.

Bahá’u’lláh

 

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire

 

The Most Great Name beareth Me witness! How sad if any man were, in this Day, to rest his heart on the transitory things of this world! Arise, and cling firmly to the Cause of God. Be most loving one to another. Burn away, wholly for the sake of the Well-Beloved, the veil of self with the flame of the undying Fire, and with faces joyous and beaming with light, associate with your neighbor. Ye have well observed, in all its aspects, the behavior of Him Who is the Word of Truth amidst you. Ye know full well how hard it is for this Youth to allow, though it be for one night, the heart of any one of the beloved of God to be saddened by Him.

The Word of God hath set the heart of the world afire; how regrettable if ye fail to be enkindled with its flame! Please God, ye will regard this blessed night as the night of unity, will knit your souls together, and resolve to adorn yourselves with the ornament of a goodly and praiseworthy character. Let your principal concern be to rescue the fallen from the slough of impending extinction, and to help him embrace the ancient Faith of God. Your behavior towards your neighbor should be such as to manifest clearly the signs of the one true God, for ye are the first among men to be re-created by His Spirit, the first to adore and bow the knee before Him, the first to circle round His throne of glory. I swear by Him Who hath caused Me to reveal whatever hath pleased Him! Ye are better known to the inmates of the Kingdom on high than ye are known to your own selves. Think ye these words to be vain and empty? Would that ye had the power to perceive the things your Lord, the All-Merciful, doth see — things that attest the excellence of your rank, that bear witness to the greatness of your worth, that proclaim the sublimity of your station! God grant that your desires and unmortified passions may not hinder you from that which hath been ordained for you.

Bahá’u’lláh

Photo: a view of the Monument Gardens below the Seat of the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel

The Resurrection of Christ – A Bahá’í Perspective

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST

Question. — What is the meaning of Christ’s resurrection after three days?

Answer. — The resurrections of the Divine Manifestations are not of the body. All Their states, Their conditions, Their acts, the things They have established, Their teachings, Their expressions, Their parables and Their instructions have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no connection with material things. For example, there is the subject of Christ’s coming from heaven: it is clearly stated in many places in the Gospel that the Son of man came from heaven, He is in heaven, and He will go to heaven. So in chapter 6, verse 38, of the Gospel of John it is written: “For I came down from heaven”; and also in verse 42 we find: “And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” Also in John, chapter 3, verse 13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

Observe that it is said, “The Son of man is in heaven,” while at that time Christ was on earth. Notice also that it is said that Christ came from heaven, though He came from the womb of Mary, and His body was born of Mary. It is clear, then, that when it is said that the Son of man is come from heaven, this has not an outward but an inward signification; it is a spiritual, not a material, fact. The meaning is that though, apparently, Christ was born from the womb of Mary, in reality He came from heaven, from the center of the Sun of Reality, from the Divine World, and the Spiritual Kingdom. And as it has become evident that Christ came from the spiritual heaven of the Divine Kingdom, therefore, His disappearance under the earth for three days has an inner signification and is not an outward fact. In the same way, His resurrection from the interior of the earth is also symbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material; and likewise His ascension to heaven is a spiritual and not material ascension.

Beside these explanations, it has been established and proved by science that the visible heaven is a limitless area, void and empty, where innumerable stars and planets revolve.

Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christ’s resurrection is as follows: the disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ. The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No, rather it was lost, for the believers were few in number and were troubled and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found life; His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body until the life and the bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it.

Such is the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, and this was a true resurrection. But as the clergy have neither understood the meaning of the Gospels nor comprehended the symbols, therefore, it has been said that religion is in contradiction to science, and science in opposition to religion, as, for example, this subject of the ascension of Christ with an elemental body to the visible heaven is contrary to the science of mathematics. But when the truth of this subject becomes clear, and the symbol is explained, science in no way contradicts it; but, on the contrary, science and the intelligence affirm it.  

 ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

 

Images courtesy of Médiathèque baha’ie at www.bahai-biblio.org.