"Know thou, O servant, that one day, upon awakening, We found the beloved of God at the mercy of Our adversaries. Sentinels were posted at every gate and no one was permitted to enter or leave. Indeed, they perpetrated a sore injustice, for the loved ones of God and His kindred were left on the first night without food. Such was the fate of those for whose sake the world and all that is therein have been created. Woe betide the perpetrators and those who led them into such evil! Erelong will God consume their souls in the fire. He, verily, is the fiercest of avengers. The people surrounded the house, and Muslims and Christians wept over Us, and the voice of lamentation was upraised between earth and heaven by reason of what the hands of the oppressors had wrought. We perceived that the weeping of the people of the Son exceeded the weeping of others—a sign for such as ponder." (Baha'u'llah, Summons of the Lord of Hosts, pp. 145-46.)

Holy scripture -- Great Isaiah scroll

Our Paths to Understanding

"This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Jesus - Luke 22:19)
"O Ahmad! Forget not My Bounties while I am absent. Remember My days during thy days, and My distress and banishment in this remote prison." (Baha'u'llah -- The Tablet of Ahmad)
Two ways of approaching spiritual knowledge and deepening our understanding are by sacred text, scripture; and by the lives of the Teacher/Prophets, the Manifestations of God, the reflections of God on earth.
We can describe these in the Western experience, in terms of the Protestant model which holds that scripture is the sole source of understanding. If we find truth in the holy text we must hold to it, cherish it, live by it. It is not a criticism to say that to adhere to the Protestant model is to adhere to the word of God to the exclusion of all else, for it is the only enduring evidence we have of God's lessons and guidance. The holy word today is the holy word as it was when it was set down and is the holy word as it will be in ages to come.
We can alternatively use the Catholic model. This model points out that in the case of the church, the Bible had not been compiled until the fourth century. Until then, there was only scattered epistles and gospels of varying reliability throughout Chistendom and no church had a complete or even half complete collection. They relied, instead, on the images (i.e. the crucifix), the oral traditions, the rituals that were the means of passing knowledge from one generation to the next, and the rare bit of scripture they may have been fortunate to have. Hence the critical importance of the Eucharist in understanding and remembering the significance of Christ's sacrifice.
We must consider that both of these models are essential. Christ made it so when He instructed His disciples, "Do this in remembrance of Me." Baha'u'llah made it so in His numerous admonishments to "Remember", "Ponder", "Consider", "Meditate upon...".

If we study the texts, we internalize the particulars of the teachings They were committing to us. We find the means to order our lives and demonstrate our devotion, for it is in those writings we have the words to live by. Nothing else can substitute for them. Nothing else has the same authority. The edicts of Kings, the legislations of Parliaments, the orders of Presidents do not carry the certitude, the ultimate standards of the certain word of God. Scripture is the final word.
If we study the lives and sacrifices of the Presence of God Amongst Us, we will learn of ultimate sacrifice -- not merely the surrendering of life, but of something beyond even that. It can confidently be asserted that had They sought popularity and enduring renown in their lifetime, so they could bask in its joys, this failed utterly. Had They sought military or political power and sovereignty, they seem to have deliberately taken a path sure to prevent it. Had They hoped to acquire material wealth and economic potency, they never came near to doing so. In these worldly matters, by worldly standards, They were failures. Thereby we have to know They were about something else, something beyond these kinds of things. They sacrificed more than life for something loftier. Perhaps it is better said, They lived a sacrifice, Their whole days, to point us to something. Therein is a fruit, likely not the only one, in remembrance and in following Their very simple and clear instruction to remember.
Our approach to understanding in religious or spiritual matters must have a primary place for both the Protestant model and the Catholic model. Both have endured the test of time. Both have provided saints and heroes. Both have defined an infinitude of goodness which comes from God, alone, and which can never be encompassed within a finite human life.

The weight of chain.

Lamps of Guidance

" Respect ye the divines and learned amongst you, they whose conduct accords with their professions, who transgress not the bounds which God hath fixed, whose judgments are in conformity with His behests as revealed in His Book. Know ye that they are the lamps of guidance unto them that are in the heavens and on the earth. They who disregard and neglect the divines and learned that live amongst them—these have truly changed the favor with which God hath favored them." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings From the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 128)
Sometimes the clergy in our midst become the object of skepticism and cynicism because of the missteps of a few. Clerics by the nature of their role occupy a prominent public position. It becomes so easy, therefore, for one of these who has become prideful, narrow minded, distant, corrupt or shameful to cast a shadow upon others who are honorable. "See with thine own eyes, not with the eyes of others" Baha'u'llah admonishes in the Hidden Words, and see every individual for who they are, not for the errors of others though they share the same vocation.
How many mullahs recognized or at least opened themselves to Baha'u'llah and His words? The accounts mention so many, and if we consider the Mullah Husayn from Baha'i history, we can begin to understand Baha'u'llah's admonishment, above. Indeed, it sheds light on the warning it includes.
In the West, we see the same possibilities in ministers and priests and rabbis. Certainly we may find ourselves hurt, either in our current affairs or in some occasion long past, because of the lack of wisdom of a cleric in our lives. Those of us who are Baha'is will perhaps recall such instances because of our Faith and practice and have gained reason to be cautious. However, we must never lose sight of the historical fact that the current level of spiritual maturity in the West has been brought about because such people as these drew upon the Bible to inspire and guide so many who were unable to learn for themselves. They endured sacrifices, abasement, foreign circumstances and martyrdom to spread the teachings of Christ and the Old Testament Prophets as directed by Jesus and Peter and Paul. They did this on the strength of only a handful of pages of Gospel and Epistles. In truth, they sustained a heartfelt effort for two thousand years on what amounts to a quite small body of scripture. Baha'u'llah's words compel us to recognize the heroism of the clergy and the saints of our Western heritage.
To go further, we are compelled, for honesty's sake, to recognize that our ability to recognize Baha'u'llah is, in immense measure, due to the two thousand years of work these men and women have done. They built a mighty foundation, although, as Daniel the prophet said, "The books have been sealed until the time of the end." We first must be just and recognize that no one should be blamed for any faults that result from the sealing of the scripture. Thereafter, let us give thanks that, in this day of fulfillment, those seals have been broken and that we are engaging in understanding that the seals have been broken. It now falls to us to not become vain in the knowledge and understanding that pours forth from the ancient scripture.
Let us appreciate and celebrate the bounty of this new knowledge by immersing ourselves in it. By it we become conversant with our spiritual kindred of the cloth. Those that find the way to practice the love of Christ despite differences, and those that tread the path of unity of religion truly have everything they need to see eye to eye and commune as peers in the spirit.
This is incumbent upon those of us who abide in our Faith in Baha'u'llah. As He said, "They who disregard and neglect the divines and learned that live amongst them—these have truly changed the favor with which God hath favored them."
May God's grace and forgiveness and guidance bless our every effort in His path of unity.

Crozier with praying figure

The Essentiality of the Bible

"When 'Abdu'l-Baha visited the City Temple (of London, England) He wrote three lines in the pulpit Bible which read in translation: 'This book is the Holy Book of God, of celestial Inspiration. It is the Bible of Salvation, the noble Gospel. It is the mystery of the Kingdom and its light. It is the Divine Bounty, the sign of the guidance of God -- 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas" (H.M.Balyuzi, 'Abdu'l-Baha, George Ronald, London, p. 145.)
"Thou hast written that thou lovest the Bible. Undoubtedly, the friends and the maid-servants of the Merciful should know the value of the Bible, for they are the ones who have discovered its real significances and have become cognizant of the hidden mystery of the Holy Book." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 218)
In June of 1912, 'Abdu'l-Baha was addressing a group in Montclair, New Jersey. In the talk, He mentioned, "Fifty years ago no one would touch the Christian Bible in Persia. Bahá’u’lláh came and asked, “Why?” They said, “It is not the Word of God.” He said, “You must read it with understanding of its meanings, not as those who merely recite its words.” Now Bahá’ís all over the East read the Bible and understand its spiritual teaching. Bahá’u’lláh spread the Cause of Christ and opened the book of the Christians and Jews. He removed the barriers of names. He proved that all the divine Prophets taught the same reality and that to deny One is to deny the Others, for all are in perfect oneness with God.
" In London some of the Christians said we were deniers of Christ. We say Christ is the Word of God. We are gathered here this morning for His mention. The bells have called us together in love and unity. This house is the temple of God. All are welcome! Very welcome!" ('Abdu'l-Baha, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 212)
We may therefore be well advised to learn the Bible; at least sufficiently to recognize the allusions, symbols, prefigurings and teachings Baha'u'llah and the Master talk and write of. In so doing, we must implement wisdom. When we approach it with our own limitations, we will see that reflected in our understanding of any scripture. If we fail to grasp it, if we find ourselves becoming illogical or dismayed, we must consider how the Holy Word is like a mirror, in which we may find our shortcomings, our obstacles to understanding; perhaps expediency, shallowness, impatience, rationalism based on self interest or scholastic vanity. During the above mentioned talk, 'Abdu'l-Baha was asked, "How shall we determine the truth or error of certain biblical interpretation, as, for instance, the higher criticism and other present-day Christian teachings?" His answer was a profound guidance for us all; "Your question is an abstruse and important one. Complete answer to it would require a long time. I will reply to it briefly. The only true Explainer of the Book of God is the Holy Spirit, for no two minds are alike, no two can comprehend alike, no two can speak alike. That is to say, from the mere human standpoint of interpretation there could be neither truth nor agreement."
In this Day, the seals upon the book have been broken, its meanings illuminated, the means for the understanding of it provided, and its authority as Holy Scripture vindicated. How often Baha'u'llah refers to its passages in His own Revelations. He writes of Moses, Isaiah, Mt. Sinai, Zion, the lessons of Jesus, Mary the Mother of Jesus and more. 'Abdu'l-Baha spoke often and at length of Daniel, Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul and the apostles in general. Their lessons are abundant and the reader is left to understand that these names and places and stories and ideas are all matters he or she should already know about. That is, the writings and talks are phrased with the assumption we know what They speak of.
This is a lesson about independent investigation of truth, and our relationships in Christ's love and Baha'u'llah's unity. We must apply ourselves to understand. We must never allow ourselves to use these scriptures to divide ourselves one from another. If one understanding is used as a wedge between one heart and another, neither love nor unity is served. In our capacities as the followers of the Manifestations of God Who are the only Ones to truly know all things, our individual understandings are just that, only individual. That is regardless of however lofty the learning and insight of the person who holds it. Such understanding may carry weight only with ourselves in the final analysis. Herein is a great lesson of detachment from our own selves.

As by clouds in the minds of men.

The Cross. The Chain.

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." (words of Jesus, John 10:11-15)
"For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, 'This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.' Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (St. Paul, Hebrews 9:19-28)
"The Ancient Beauty hath consented to be bound with chains that mankind may be released from its bondage, and hath accepted to be made a prisoner within this most mighty Stronghold that the whole world may attain unto true liberty. He hath drained to its dregs the cup of sorrow, that all the peoples of the earth may attain unto abiding joy, and be filled with gladness. This is of the mercy of your Lord, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. We have accepted to be abased, O believers in the Unity of God, that ye may be exalted, and have suffered manifold afflictions, that ye might prosper and flourish. He Who hath come to build anew the whole world, behold, how they that have joined partners with God have forced Him to dwell within the most desolate of cities!" ... "I sorrow not for the burden of My imprisonment. Neither do I grieve over My abasement, or the tribulation I suffer at the hands of Mine enemies. By My life! They are My glory, a glory wherewith God hath adorned His own Self. Would that ye know it." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, pp. 99-100)
Two of the most pointed questions a Christian should ask is "How did Baha'u'llah suffer?" and "What was the purpose of His suffering?" Jesus' suffering was an atonement for our sins. Sts. John and Paul relate to us the role of Christ as the sacrificial lamb. Jews offered lamb sacrifices in the Temple every year as a means to acquire God's forgiveness for the year past and blessings for the year to come. Christ raised this act to a whole new level, transcending the legalistic methods and ways of the Jews of His day. He introduced the reality of true spiritual life and kingdom within us all, and enabled man to benefit from God's forgiveness for all time by becoming one sacrifice for all time. It was a great step forward for man, one of incalculable worth. It went beyond the letter of the law to the spirit.
'Abdu'l-Baha explains it. "But Christ, Who is the Word of God, sacrificed Himself. This has two meanings, an apparent and an esoteric meaning. The outward meaning is this: Christ’s intention was to represent and promote a Cause which was to educate the human world, to quicken the children of Adam, and to enlighten all mankind; and since to represent such a great Cause—a Cause which was antagonistic to all the people of the world and all the nations and kingdoms—meant that He would be killed and crucified, so Christ in proclaiming His mission sacrificed His life. He regarded the cross as a throne, the wound as a balm, the poison as honey and sugar. He arose to teach and educate men, and so He sacrificed Himself to give the spirit of life. He perished in body so as to quicken others by the spirit." ('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 120-21, 1981 edition) 'Abdu'l-Baha says more, but this will suffice for now.
Baha'u'llah sacrificed His life also. His was a sacrifice lived for forty years in prison, in exile, in vile and unjust accusations, in conspiracies plotted against Him, in privations, and more. His life was taken up in these and other afflictions for the sake of the world. This sacrifice has been for the lives of individuals in societies. This surrender of His worldly being has been for the fulfillment of that petition in the Lord's Prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." As Christ is to the individual, so Baha'u'llah is to world society, to the nations, to the Kingdom of God on earth.
The unity implicit in these sacrifices, these holy lives, these Manifestations of God on earth should tell us something of the unity of the holy spirit manifested in each. It is as if Jesus has come to finish telling us what He could not in John 16:12, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Jesus explains in the following verse, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will tell you things to come."

Schematic of the Trinity

The Trinity

The Trinity is a demonstrated reality. Our difficulties with it are so often from a vain effort to seperate them too much. Therein lies the potential and even temptation to make a god of each one. It is a wholeness, a unity.
'Abdu'l-Baha teaches it this way; "The Divine Reality is sanctified from singleness, then how much more from plurality. The descent of that Lordly Reality into conditions and degrees would be equivalent to imperfection and contrary to perfection, and is, therefore, absolutely impossible. It perpetually has been, and is, in the exaltation of holiness and sanctity. All that is mentioned of the Manifestations and Dawning-places of God signifies the divine reflection, and not a descent into the conditions of existence.
"God is pure perfection, and creatures are but imperfections. For God to descend into the conditions of existence would be the greatest of imperfections; on the contrary, His manifestation, His appearance, His rising are like the reflection of the sun in a clear, pure, polished mirror. All the creatures are evident signs of God, like the earthly beings upon all of which the rays of the sun shine. But upon the plains, the mountains, the trees and fruits, only a portion of the light shines, through which they become visible, and are reared, and attain to the object of their existence, while the Perfect Man is in the condition of a clear mirror in which the Sun of Reality becomes visible and manifest with all its qualities and perfections. So the Reality of Christ was a clear and polished mirror of the greatest purity and fineness. The Sun of Reality, the Essence of Divinity, reflected itself in this mirror and manifested its light and heat in it; but from the exaltation of its holiness, and the heaven of its sanctity, the Sun did not descend to dwell and abide in the mirror. No, it continues to subsist in its exaltation and sublimity, while appearing and becoming manifest in the mirror in beauty and perfection.
"Now if we say that we have seen the Sun in two mirrors—one the Christ and one the Holy Spirit—that is to say, that we have seen three Suns, one in heaven and the two others on the earth, we speak truly. And if we say that there is one Sun, and it is pure singleness, and has no partner and equal, we again speak truly.
"The epitome of the discourse is that the Reality of Christ was a clear mirror, and the Sun of Reality—that is to say, the Essence of Oneness, with its infinite perfections and attributes—became visible in the mirror. The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity, became divided and multiplied—for the Sun is one—but it appeared in the mirror. This is why Christ said, “The Father is in the Son,” meaning that the Sun is visible and manifest in this mirror.
"The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in the Reality of Christ. The Sonship station is the heart of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is the station of the spirit of Christ. Hence it has become certain and proved that the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique and has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent.
"This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity. If it were otherwise, the foundations of the Religion of God would rest upon an illogical proposition which the mind could never conceive, and how can the mind be forced to believe a thing which it cannot conceive? A thing cannot be grasped by the intelligence except when it is clothed in an intelligible form; otherwise, it is but an effort of the imagination.
"It has now become clear, from this explanation, what is the meaning of the Three Persons of the Trinity. The Oneness of God is also proved. "('Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, pp. 113-115, 1981 ed.)

Dawn

Jesus Christ and Baha'u'llah -- No Distinction

"Furthermore, it is evident to thee that the Bearers of the trust of God are made manifest unto the peoples of the earth as the Exponents of a new Cause and the Bearers of a new Message. Inasmuch as these Birds of the Celestial Throne are all sent down from the heaven of the Will of God, and as they all arise to proclaim His irresistible Faith, they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person. For they all drink from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness. These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station. One is the station of pure abstraction and essential unity. In this respect, if thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attribute, thou hast not erred from the truth. Even as He hath revealed: 'No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers!' For they one and all summon the people of the earth to acknowledge the Unity of God, and herald unto them the Kawthar of an infinite grace and bounty. They are all invested with the robe of Prophethood, and honoured with the mantle of glory..." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 152)
We are accustomed to analysis, attribution of quotes and teachings, and identification of individuals in our dealings in the world. This is our habit in spiritual matters as well, as it carries over from those worldly pursuits. The reader, in the quote above, will have noticed the sentence, "These Manifestations of God have each a twofold station." This habit of making distinctions alludes to the second portion of that twofold station. We are not accustomed to deeply considering the first. The second station is a consequence of earthly matters in which defining persons and things helps us distinguish the details of our experience.
Baha'u'llah, however, calls us to see the unity of God's progression in His revelation to mankind. We must strive to grasp the oneness of Jesus and Baha'u'llah. Jesus addressed this in both the first person ("...I will come to you." (John 14:18) "You have heard Me say, 'I am going away and coming back to you" (John 14:28)) as well as the second person ("If I do not go away the Helper will not come."(John 16:7) "...so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." (Matthew 24:27)). Either way, the oneness of that return is clear. As Baha'is, we learn that "Jesus Christ returns" and "Baha'u'llah is come" means one and the same thing.
We must have faith in Baha'u'llah's own words. Having faith then calls for action. Those of us who became Baha'i after years as a Christian, knowing we had to be watchful for Christ's return, now must set aside misperceptions that came from others and hold onto the reality of Christ. Therein lies the joy of His promise fulfilled. Those of us who were raised in Baha'i families or otherwise must distinguish from the noise of conflicting church interpretations and see that, just as Baha'u'llah enfolds the reality of His Herald, the Bab, in His teachings, so does He enfold the reality of "The Son" and "The Spirit" in innumerable passages.
How else can we live by and attest to the words of Baha'u'llah, "...they therefore are regarded as one soul and the same person. For they all drink from the one Cup of the love of God, and all partake of the fruit of the same Tree of Oneness." and "No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers!"?

Cairn

The Perfect Stranger

Reader, if you are Christian and seeking to understand much of what is on these pages, let us begin with this thought from Jesus;
"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in, naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me. I was in prison, and ye came unto me." (Matthew 25:34-36)
Of course, you will recognize this passage as coming from a longer lesson from Christ in which He teaches how acts of generosity and charity to any and all are deeds performed unto Him. He upraises the righteous and condemns the unrighteous with these words and places Himself in our hands wherever we find the opportunity to serve others. Such deeds are the fruit of the faith He has inculcated in our hearts and a sign of His presence in us.
The recipient of our generosity may be a stranger; but knowing that Jesus presents Himself as the beneficiary of a generous heart, we know His perfection is spiritually present. By this we come aware of the Perfect Stranger.
And in describing the deeds, Jesus mentions His presence last. Only then He reveals His identity through the recipient. The Perfect Stranger is revealed to be the Perfect Friend we have turned to in all our prayers and sacred contemplations.
It is useful to keep this in mind when we read the words of Paul and Peter when they speak of Christ fulfilling the promise of His return. "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. "(I Thessalonians 5:1-2). " But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (II Peter 3:8-10)
The challenge at this point is a historical one. For just as the Pharisees were deaf and blind to the reality of Jesus in the context of their preconceptions of how their Savior would come, so we in these times can suffer the same affliction. The above quoted verses are, in preceding passages, associated with much fanfare and shouts and trumpets in the appearance of the returned Christ. But if there is no one free of preconception, if no one has the ears to hear and eyes to see, the fanfare is then like the unheard sound of the fall of a great tree in the forest where no one is present.
Let there be no mistake. This challenge is a formidable one. It is the challenge of faith in our selves in interpreting what we read of the sacred text as opposed to our faith in God Who knows the intent of His Word. More briefly, the challenge is, do we place our faith in ourselves or in God? In this, God is attentive.
Then ponder carefully; just when do we become aware of the thief who appears in the night?
The owner of the house awakes in the morning. The cock has crowed. The sun is sending its earliest rays across the cloud-strewn sky. He rises and dresses and goes to the hearth to start his day.
But, something is changed. Things are missing. Perhaps the door is standing open. Routine is disrupted. He has to ask himself, "What has happened while I was asleep?"
The thief has come and moved on. Now, the householder has much to do.
Friend, the prophecy of Jesus has been fulfilled. In 1863, Baha'u'llah proclaimed that fulfillment in a world that had gone to sleep. Few heard the fanfare, the shout, the trumpet.
The words of Jesus as set down by John of Patmos are strong words when He instructs John to address the angel of the church in Sardis. they are stronger than these words, here. Let it be enough to quote one verse, and you can examine the rest at leisure. "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (Revelation 3:3)
Friend, you may or may not believe any of this. That is a matter between yourself and the Holy Spirit. Your best recourse is to pray in the name of your Lord, Jesus. You know you can rely upon Him to guide you aright and to protect you. But if you ever held any genuine belief that Christ would come again, you must pray with an open heart and an open mind. You know how easy it is to repeat the acts of the Pharisees. It seems so safe, so comfortable. But you also know that all our human fallibilities come into play in these matters. You also know that God knows your heart better than you do. Pray with all the genuineness you can. Jesus will not mislead the truly sincere heart that gives, truly gives all of himself to his Lord. By that, the Perfect Stranger need not be a stranger at all.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ bless and sustain you in all that you do.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Mirror

The Trinity...Again

Above is a quoted explanation from 'Abdu'l-Baha about the meaning of the Trinity. Its example of a mirror provides a direct and concrete simile that is easy to grasp, especially as one pictures many mirrors reflecting the single sun as many Messengers reflect the single God. Keeping this in mind, it is useful to see Baha'u'llah's discourse on the Manifestations of God from the Kitab-i-Iqan. He has touched upon the two-fold language, also described above, as it pertains to the reality of the Revelator, and what "return" means as in "One who would come again.". The reader will see that in the spiritual reality, unity prevails; whereas in the world, we live in the midst of distinctions that define one portion from another.
"We have already in the foregoing pages assigned two stations unto each of the Luminaries arising from the Daysprings of eternal holiness. One of these stations, the station of essential unity, We have already explained. 'No distinction do We make between any of them.' The other is the station of distinction, and pertaineth to the world of creation and to the limitations thereof. In this respect, each Manifestation of God hath a distinct individuality, a definitely prescribed mission, a predestined Revelation, and specially designated limitations. Each one of them is known by a different name, is characterized by a special attribute, fulfils a definite Mission, and is entrusted with a particular Revelation. Even as He saith: 'Some of the Apostles We have caused to excel the others. To some God hath spoken, some He hath raised and exalted. And to Jesus, Son of Mary, We gave manifest signs, and We strengthened Him with the Holy Spirit'...
"Viewed in the light of their second station—the station of distinction, differentiation, temporal limitations, characteristics and standards,—they manifest absolute servitude, utter destitution and complete self-effacement. Even as He saith: 'I am the servant of God. I am but a man like you'...
"Were any of the all-embracing Manifestations of God to declare: “I am God!” He verily speaketh the truth, and no doubt attacheth thereto. For it hath been repeatedly demonstrated that through their Revelation, their attributes and names, the Revelation of God, His name and His attributes, are made manifest in the world. Thus, He hath revealed: “Those shafts were God’s, not Thine!” And also He saith: “In truth, they who plighted fealty unto thee, really plighted that fealty unto God.” And were any of them to voice the utterance: “I am the Messenger of God,” He also speaketh the truth, the indubitable truth. Even as He saith: 'Muḥammad is not the father of any man among you, but He is the Messenger of God.' Viewed in this light, they are all but Messengers of that ideal King, that unchangeable Essence. And were they all to proclaim: 'I am the Seal of the Prophets,' they verily utter but the truth, beyond the faintest shadow of doubt. For they are all but one person, one soul, one spirit, one being, one revelation. They are all the manifestation of the 'Beginning' and the 'End,' the 'First' and the 'Last,' the 'Seen' and 'Hidden'—all of which pertain to Him Who is the innermost Spirit of Spirits and eternal Essence of Essences. And were they to say: 'We are the servants of God,' this also is a manifest and indisputable fact. For they have been made manifest in the uttermost state of servitude, a servitude the like of which no man can possibly attain. Thus in moments in which these Essences of being were deeply immersed beneath the oceans of ancient and everlasting holiness, or when they soared to the loftiest summits of divine mysteries, they claimed their utterance to be the Voice of divinity, the Call of God Himself. Were the eye of discernment to be opened, it would recognize that in this very state, they have considered themselves utterly effaced and non-existent in the face of Him Who is the All-Pervading, the Incorruptible. Methinks, they have regarded themselves as utter nothingness, and deemed their mention in that Court an act of blasphemy. For the slightest whispering of self, within such a Court, is an evidence of self-assertion and independent existence. In the eyes of them that have attained unto that Court, such a suggestion is itself a grievous transgression. How much more grievous would it be, were aught else to be mentioned in that Presence, were man’s heart, his tongue, his mind, or his soul, to be busied with anyone but the Well-Beloved, were his eyes to behold any countenance other than His beauty, were his ear to be inclined to any melody but His voice, and were his feet to tread any way but His way.
"In this day the breeze of God is wafted, and His Spirit hath pervaded all things. Such is the outpouring of His grace that the pen is stilled and the tongue is speechless.
"By virtue of this station, they have claimed for themselves the Voice of Divinity and the like, whilst by virtue of their station of Messengership, they have declared themselves the Messengers of God. In every instance they have voiced an utterance that would conform to the requirements of the occasion, and have ascribed all these declarations to Themselves, declarations ranging from the realm of divine Revelation to the realm of creation, and from the domain of Divinity even unto the domain of earthly existence. Thus it is that whatsoever be their utterance, whether it pertain to the realm of Divinity, Lordship, Prophethood, Messengership, Guardianship, Apostleship or Servitude, all is true, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Therefore, these sayings which We have quoted in support of Our argument must be attentively considered, that the divergent utterances of the Manifestations of the Unseen and Daysprings of Holiness may cease to agitate the soul and perplex the mind." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, pp. 176-81)

Evolution of the pen.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

A genesis of intention

Reader, I hope you will find something new and stimulating here. You will see, here, many excerpts from Baha'i writings that point out an important idea of the unity of Baha'i and Christianity, which, if you are or become informed of the Baha'i belief, is an example of a larger idea of the unity of religions. If you are a Baha'i, you will likely be challenged. Many of us have moved on to the Baha'i beliefs because of disappointment with Christianity or because of misinformation. Neither of these is conducive to unity in our hearts, and it is important to never stop growing in our thinking and understanding. Therefore, authoritative statements from Baha'i scripture have been provided to underpin clear understanding. If you are Christian, look upon the teachings provided here and consider them in the light of Christ's example and lessons about strangers. After all, if you feed and cloth a stranger, you may find you have done as much for Him. Remember, Jesus promised to return in power and great glory, and just as the Pharisees did not have their expectations met, you may not either. Regardless, you may be finding something astonishing and good. Approach with open minds and hearts and post your own reflections. Harkener Totus

2 comments:

Rez said...

Greetings from the Southern California desert, where the sun makes mad prophets of us all ... your circular journey was interesting :)

From another era when we were all different people... you'll remember when you see it: http://www.offworldpress.com

dimi said...

Hi,
My name is Dimitri Tishler. I am a composer and writer currently living in Melbourne Australia.
I have recently created a new website and blog which explores different aspects of art and spirituality. Please
peruse the new site at your convenience.

You will find music, writing and posts on different aspects of writing, art and spirituality:
http://dimitritishler.com/

My blog is here:
http://dimitritishler.com/blog/

Here you will find a few articles on God and spirituality:
http://dimitritishler.com/blog/2011/09/18/journey-of-the-universe/
http://dimitritishler.com/blog/2011/09/16/consciousness/

Thank you for your time

Kind regards Dimitri