Monday, March 24, 2008

ReFocusing . . .


I'm folding the purpose of this blog into my newest effort—Our Evolution.

There will still be a spiritual focus, like here, but I'll be covering stories from around the world.

I leave you with this quote and hope to see you soon at Our Evolution:

Souls who focus their vision upon the Sun of Reality will be the recipients of light no matter from what point it rises, but those who are fettered by adoration of the dawning-point are deprived when it appears in a different station upon the spiritual horizon.


('Abdu'l-Bahá, Baha'i World Faith p. 255)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hopelessness . . .


This is not the resumption of daily posting—more healing is necessary for that. . .

Had to post about what's been burning on my heart:

Whensoever ye behold a person whose entire attention is directed toward the Cause of God; whose only aim is this, to make the Word of God to take effect; who, day and night, with pure intent, is rendering service to the Cause; from whose behaviour not the slightest trace of egotism or private motives is discerned -- who, rather, wandereth distracted in the wilderness of the love of God, and drinketh only from the cup of the knowledge of God, and is utterly engrossed in spreading the sweet savours of God, and is enamoured of the holy verses of the Kingdom of God -- know ye for a certainty that this individual will be supported and reinforced by heaven; that like unto the morning star, he will forever gleam brightly out of the skies of eternal grace. But if he show the slightest taint of selfish desires and self love, his efforts will lead to nothing and he will be destroyed and left hopeless at the last.

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 71)

This is the Day, O my Lord, whose brightness Thou hast exalted above the brightness of the sun and the splendors thereof. I testify that the light it sheddeth proceedeth out of the glory of the light of Thy countenance, and is begotten by the radiance of the morn of Thy Revelation. This is the Day whereon the hopeless have been clothed with the raiment of confidence, and the sick attired with the robe of healing, and the poor drawn nigh unto the ocean of Thy riches.

(Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 273)

That my tongue, my pen could thank thee were a hopeless task, nor can any praise of mine befit thine excellence. Not even a droplet of all thine endless love can I aspire to fathom, nor can I adequately praise and tell of even the most trifling out of all the events of thy precious life. In the courts of the Almighty, for this frail being thy sacred spirit intercedeth, and in this darksome world, the sweet memory of thee is the succourer and friend of this lowly one. Thy comely face is etched for ever on the tablet of my grieving soul, those smiles that refreshed my life are forever and safely imprinted in the innermost recesses of my stricken heart. Let me not be forgotten by thee in the glorious precincts on high; leave me not despairing, nor excluded from the never-ceasing reinforcements that come from the living Lord; and in this world and the Kingdom, help me to reach what thou knowest to be my dearest hope.

(Compilations, Bahiyyih Khanum, p. 29)

LET US ACKNOWLEDGE AT THE OUTSET the magnitude of the ruin that the human race has brought upon itself during the period of history under review. The loss of life alone has been beyond counting. The disintegration of basic institutions of social order, the violation -- indeed, the abandonment -- of standards of decency, the betrayal of the life of the mind through surrender to ideologies as squalid as they have been empty, the invention and deployment of monstrous weapons of mass annihilation, the bankrupting of entire nations and the reduction of masses of human beings to hopeless poverty, the reckless destruction of the environment of the planet -- such are only the more obvious in a catalogue of horrors unknown to even the darkest of ages past.

(Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, Century of Light, p. 4)

Moreover, when a man looked about him and saw the vicissitudes of mortal existence -- nowhere more marked than in the East -- how conqueror succeeded conqueror and empire empire, how the humble was exalted and the mighty thrown from his seat, how swift was the vengeance of God in sweeping pestilence and resistless famine, and how unsparing the forces of nature, he turned to a philosophy which taught that all earthly things were alike vain-virtue and patriotism and the love of wife and child, power and beauty and the bold part played in a hopeless fight; he remembered what he had learnt from poets and story-tellers -- "Behold the world is as the shadow of a cloud and a dream of the night."

(Islamic Miscellaneous, Teachings of Hafiz (G. L. Bell tr))

Every one who seeks names, if he is a man of credulity,
Like thee, remains hopeless and frustrated of his aim.
Why cleavest thou to this mere name of tree,
So that thou art utterly balked and disappointed?
Pass over names and look to qualities,
So that qualities may lead thee to essence!

(Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 2)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spirit Test


The obscuring clouds of medical issues preclude my regular posting.

Hopefully, not for long. . .

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Children . . .


I'm starting with a prayer for all the children:

O God! Educate these children. These children are the plants of Thine orchard, the flowers of Thy meadow, the roses of Thy garden. Let Thy rain fall upon them; let the Sun of Reality shine upon them with Thy love. Let Thy breeze refresh them in order that they may be trained, grow and develop, and appear in the utmost beauty. Thou art the Giver. Thou art the Compassionate.


- 'Abdu'l-Bahá

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 32)

The best of people live according to this:

7:9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

(King James Bible, Matthew)

Yet, there is no dearth of folk who oppress children:

When I was seven we lived in Tihran, where my father was Mirza'Abdu'r-Rahim Khan the Kalantar (Mayor). A mulla taught us children in school. We sat in a row on the floor, each with his book before him on a bookstand. We read the Qur'án without knowing what it meant, and Sa'di, and Hafiz. The mulla had a long, slim, flexible pole (falak); whenever he thought best, a child's feet would be strung to it by a rope; each end of the pole was held by boys who twisted it so the feet were held fast, soles up; the mulla himself did the whipping, beating the soles of the victim with his club (chub) till, sometimes, the blood came. This was the bastinado. The children were terrified of it; panic made me study extra hard.

(Marzieh Gail, Dawn Over Mount Hira, p. 194)

And, governments are also culpable:

In South Africa, for example, Hlengiwe Mkhize, Director of the Children in Violence Project at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, cited evidence from her country that reveals a clear link between state-initiated oppression and domestic violence. The family unit, she said, becomes the focus of accumulated stress and a fertile ground for multiple acts of domestic violence from family torture and murder, to wife battering, sexual molestation, and the daily mental and physical abuse suffered by children growing up in alcoholic and violent families.

(Baha'i International Community, 1994 May 26, Creating Violence-Free Families)

Oh, Dear God ! Protect Our Children . . .

Question. -- What is the condition of children who die before attaining the age of discretion or before the appointed time of birth?

Answer. -- These infants are under the shadow of the favor of God; and as they have not committed any sin and are not soiled with the impurities of the world of nature, they are the centers of the manifestation of bounty, and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.


('Abdu'l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 240)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Women . . .


For far too long, women have been irreverenced by men:

When she was still a child her father selected a teacher for her and she studied various branches of knowledge and the arts, achieving remarkable ability in literary pursuits. Such was the degree of her scholarship and attainments that her father would often express his regret, saying, "Would that she had been a boy, for he would have shed illumination upon my household, and would have succeeded me!"

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 191)

Over two thousand years (and three Revelations from God) ago , this was preached:

14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

(King James Bible, 1 Corinthians)

Here's a bit of Truth for those who use scripture to attempt a suppression of women:

In the Kingdom of God, there is no difference between the men and the women; both are considered alike—only the one who works the hardest surpasses the other. In the time of Christ, women were the great agents in spreading the Kingdom. The disciples would not have been confirmed if it had not been for them—Peter would not have been strengthened. In cultivating a garden, it makes no difference whether the gardener is a man or a woman—but if the woman works hard and takes care of the plants, she will certainly have a better reward than the man who idles.

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers 9, p. 55)

Often various traditions hinder the health and well-being of girls and women:

Statement to the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Agenda item: Women in development

In the view of the Bahá'í International Community, the advancement of civilization now requires the full participation of everyone, including women. For this to happen, girl children as well as boy children must be valued by their families and by society. We share UNICEF's distress at the blatant neglect of girl children, justified in many parts of the world as part of the culture. We concur with the recommendation, set forth in the Progress report on achievements made in the implementation of UNICEF policy on women in development (E/ICEF/1991/L.5), that UNICEF broaden its approach to maternal health to include an attempt to alter factors that affect girl's and women's health before maternity, including harmful traditional attitudes and practices.

(Baha'i International Community, 1991 Apr 22, Girl Child)

Some may violently disagree with the next quote but this blog does try to focus on spirituality:

As long as the desire, however small, of a man for women is not destroyed, so long is his mind attached, like a sucking calf is to its mother. Cut out the love of self, like an autumn lotus, with your hand. Cherish the path of peace. Nirvana has been shown by the Buddha.

(Buddhist, Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

And, in closing, a poet revered by the spiritually-minded:

Love and tenderness are qualities of humanity, Passion and lust are qualities of animality. Woman is a ray of God, not a mere mistress, The Creator's self, as it were, not a mere creature!

(Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 1)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Travel the Road of Unity ~ Reach the Land of Peace


After Unity is established, Peace reigns...

Actually Living Peace demands a lot:

Be thou a summoner to love, and be thou kind to all the human race. Love thou the children of men and share in their sorrows. Be thou of those who foster peace. Offer thy friendship, be worthy of trust. Be thou a balm to every sore, be thou a medicine for every ill. Bind thou the souls together. Recite thou the verses of guidance. Be engaged in the worship of thy Lord, and rise up to lead the people aright. Loose thy tongue and teach, and let thy face be bright with the fire of God's love. Rest thou not for a moment, seek thou to draw no easeful breath. Thus mayest thou become a sign and symbol of God's love, and a banner of His grace.

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 26)

It behoveth him who is a wayfarer in the path of God and a wanderer in His way to detach himself from all who are in the heavens and on the earth. He must renounce all save God, that perchance the portals of mercy may be unlocked before his face and the breezes of providence may waft over him. And when he hath inscribed upon his soul that which We have vouchsafed unto him of the quintessence of inner meaning and explanation, he will fathom all the secrets of these allusions, and God shall bestow upon his heart a divine tranquillity and cause him to be of them that are at peace with themselves.

(Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries)

International Peace and Religion:

On the one hand, the search for justice and the promotion of the cause of international peace tend to have the effect of also arousing new perceptions of the individual's role in society. Similarly, although focused on the mobilization of support for changes in social decision-making, movements like environmentalism and feminism induce a re-examination of people's sense of themselves and of their purpose in life. A reorientation occurring in all the major religious communities is the accelerating migration of believers from traditional branches of the parent faiths to sects that attach primary importance to the spiritual search and personal experiences of their members.

(Commissioned by The Universal House of Justice, One Common Faith)

Nirvana:

This, truly, is the Peace, this is the Highest, namely the end of all formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving: detachment, extinction-Nirvana.

Enraptured with lust, enraged with anger, blinded by delusion, overwhelmed, with mind ensnared, man aims at his own ruin, at others' ruin, at the ruin of both parties, and he experiences mental pain and grief. But, if lust, anger, and delusion are given up, man aims neither at his own ruin, nor at others' ruin, nor at the ruin of both parties, and he experiences no mental pain and grief. Thus is Nirvana immediate, visible in this life, inviting, attractive, and comprehensible to the wise.

The extinction of greed, the extinction of anger, the extinction of delusion: this, indeed, is called Nirvana.

((The Eightfold Path), Buddha, the Word (The Eightfold Path))

Clear, spiritual thinking is necessary:

22
Moreover this was not enough for them, that they erred in the knowledge of God; but whereas they lived in the great war of ignorance, those so great plagues called they peace.

(Deuterocanonical Apocrypha, Wisdom)

Peace can be infectious:

2:6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.

(King James Bible, Malachi)

Utmost Perfect Peace:

Richer than holy fruit on Vedas growing,
Greater than gifts, better than prayer or fast,
Such wisdom is! The Yogi, this way knowing,
Comes to the Utmost Perfect Peace at last.

(Hindu, Bhagavad Gita (Edwin Arnold tr))

The Prophet-Founders of Religion bring Peace:

O ye people of the Book! our Apostle has come to you to explain to you much of what ye had hidden of the Book, and to pardon much. There has come to you from God a light, and a perspicuous Book; God guides thereby those who follow His pleasure to the way of peace, and brings them into a right way.

(The Qur'an (E.H. Palmer tr), Sura 5 - The Table)

And, finally:

35
To him who holds in his hands the Great Image (of the invisible Tao), the whole world repairs. Men resort to him, and receive no hurt, but (find) rest, peace, and the feeling of ease.

(Tao, Tao Te Ching (J. Legge tr))

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Unity is Truth


Unity is the Big Solution; Unity is the precursor of Peace; Unity is the Truth of All Religions . . .

Praise thou God that at last, through the divine teachings, thou hast obtained both sight and insight to the highest degree, and hast become firmly rooted in certitude and faith. It is my hope that others as well will achieve illumined eyes and hearing ears, and attain to everlasting life: that these many rivers, each flowing along in diverse and separated beds, will find their way back to the circumambient sea, and merge together and rise up in a single wave of surging oneness; that the unity of truth, through the power of God, will make these illusory differences to vanish away. This is the one essential: for if unity be gained, all other problems will disappear of themselves.

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 29)


Tear asunder with the hand of Thy transcendent power, O my Lord, the veil of vain imaginings, that they who are wholly devoted to Thee may see Thee seated on the throne of Thy majesty, and the eyes of such as adore Thy unity may rejoice at the splendors of the glory of Thy face. The doors of hope have been shut against the hearts that long for Thee, O my Lord! Their keys are in Thy hands; open them by the power of Thy might and Thy sovereignty. Potent art Thou to do as Thou pleasest. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Beneficent.

(Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 7)

The foundation of the Divine teaching is this unity and harmony. Moses strove for unity among men; the Christ did all to promote this understanding, and Muhammad proclaimed the necessity of this union. The Buddha also worked for the same great goal. The Gospel, the Qur'án, and all Holy Writings are the basis for this unity.

(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 173)

Do not give up those practices and do not break those rules which good Muslims have evolved or introduced before you, which have created unity and amity among the various sections of the society and which have benefited the masses.

(Ali b. Abi Taalib, Letters from Nahjul Balaagh)

So that earth and heaven on high may be united With one heart, one worship, one aspiration! And schism and polytheism and duality disappear, And Unity abide in the Real Spiritual Being! When my spirit recognizes thy spirit, We remember our essential union and origin.

(Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 4)

...then came confusion between joy and anger, fraud between the simple and the cunning, recrimination between the virtuous and the evil-minded, slander between the honest and the liars, and the world order collapsed. Then the great virtue lost its unity, men's lives were frustrated. When there was a general rush for knowledge, the people's desires ever went beyond their possessions. The next thing was then to invent axes and saws, to kill by laws and statutes, to disfigure by chisels and awls. The empire seethed with discontent, the blame for which rests upon those who would interfere with the natural goodness of the heart of man.

(Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang tr))

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Moving . . .


Packing...

Paying rent...

Moving in...

Relocating all of 3 miles !

Should have a new post by Thursday the 13th.

In the meantime, you could look back in this blog or visit the new and more personal blog:
My Evolution . . .

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mercy . . .


Mercy is what we get when faults are overlooked.

2 That which Allah openeth unto mankind of mercy none can withhold it; and that which He withholdeth none can release thereafter. He is the Mighty, the Wise.
(The Qur'an (Pickthall tr), Sura 35 - The Creator)

Justice itself can be a Mercy.

God, however, as has been pointed out in the very beginning of these pages, does not only punish the wrongdoings of His children. He chastises because He is just, and He chastens because He loves. Having chastened them, He cannot, in His great mercy, leave them to their fate. Indeed, by the very act of chastening them He prepares them for the mission for which He has created them. "My calamity is My providence," He, by the mouth of Bahá'u'lláh, has assured them, "outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy."
(Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day is Come, p. 115)

Sometimes, humans use apparent mercy to entrap others.

Therefore, the truly great man does not injure others and does not credit himself with charity and mercy.
(Tao, Chuangtse (Lin Yutang tr))

We certainly could use more human mercy in our world !

Bounty waits on squalid hunger, gifts dispel the suppliant's fear,
Gold revives the poor and lowly, mercy wipes the mourner's tear,
Tender care relieves the stricken by the gracious king's command,
Charity with loving sweetness spreads her smile o'er all the land!
(Hindu, Mababharata (R. Dutt, abridged tr))

O ye loved ones of the Lord! This is the hour when ye must associate with all the earth's peoples in extreme kindliness and love, and be to them the signs and tokens of God's great mercy. Ye must become the very soul of the world, the living spirit in the body of the children of men.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 20)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Justice . . .


What is Justice?

Being the American I am, shame ascends when I look at our country's "justice".

The swirling inequity in the world would gladly destroy our earth !

You Judge:

If at this moment a wild Arab were to enter this place with a drawn sword, wishing to assault, wound and kill you, most assuredly I would prevent him. If I abandoned you to the Arab, that would not be justice but injustice. But if he injure me personally, I would forgive him.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 271)

Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind -- except for those who have some selfish, private motive, or some disease of the soul. Kindness cannot be shown the tyrant, the deceiver, or the thief, because, far from awakening them to the error of their ways, it maketh them to continue in their perversity as before. No matter how much kindliness ye may expend upon the liar, he will but lie the more, for he believeth you to be deceived, while ye understand him but too well, and only remain silent out of your extreme compassion.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 158)

We hope that thou wilt cause the light of justice to shine more brightly. By the righteousness of God! Justice is a powerful force. It is, above all else, the conqueror of the citadels of the hearts and souls of men, and the revealer of the secrets of the world of being, and the standard-bearer of love and bounty.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 31)

They were as sheep in the midst of wolves, advocates of peace in a world that gloried in war, of justice and mercy in a civilisation founded on conquest and slavery, of unity when men and nations cherished their divisions, votaries of a universal God of love in an age of a thousand fratricidal hates. Gladly they welcomed toil and hardship, calumny, persecution, loneliness; through suffering they drew nearer to their Master's presence. No doubt dwelt in their minds. They were as men walking in the glory of the sunshine through a city of the blind.
(George Townshend, The Heart of the Gospel, p. 138)

He should weigh the statements of at least twenty persons affirmative and negative, friendly and hostile, good and evil; then ponder upon the sayings of the two sides with justice, in order that he may arrive at a truthful conclusion as to the question, and adjudge with fairness and equity.
(Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, The Brilliant Proof, p. 6)

45:9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Let it suffice you, O princes of Israel: remove violence and spoil, and execute judgment and justice, take away your exactions from my people, saith the Lord GOD.
(King James Bible, Ezekiel)

21:3 To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
(King James Bible, Proverbs)

A gnat came in from the garden and fields, And called on Solomon for justice, Saying, "O Solomon, you extend your equity Over demons and the sons of Adam and fairies. Fish and fowl dwell under the shelter of your justice; Where is the oppressed one whom your mercy has not sought? Grant me redress, for I am much afflicted, Being cut off from my garden and meadow haunts." Then Solomon replied, "O seeker of redress, Tell me from whom do you desire redress? Who is the oppressor, who, puffed up with arrogance Has oppressed you and smitten your face?" The gnat replied, "He from whom I seek redress is the Wind, 'Tis he who has emitted the smoke of oppression at me; Through his oppression I am in a grievous strait, Through him I drink blood with parched lip!" Solomon replied to him, "O sweet voiced one, You must hear the command of God with all your heart. God has commanded me saying, 'O dispenser of justice, Never hear one party without the other!' Till both parties come into the presence, The truth is never made plain to the judge." When the Wind heard the summons, it came swiftly, And the gnat instantly took flight. In like manner the seekers of God's presence-seat, When God appears, those seekers vanish. Though that union is life eternal, Yet at first that life is annihilation.
(Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 3)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Healing . . .


There are many opinions in the world about healing — physical, spiritual, and their intermingling.

I'll wade into the global discussion with:

O ye friends of God! True friends are even as skilled physicians, and the Teachings of God are as healing balm, a medicine for the conscience of man. They clear the head, so that a man can breathe them in and delight in their sweet fragrance. They waken those who sleep. They bring awareness to the unheeding, and a portion to the outcast, and to the hopeless, hope.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 22)

And, in a more impassioned mode:

Naked am I, O my God! Clothe me with the robe of Thy tender mercies. I am sore athirst; give me to drink of the oceans of Thy bountiful favor. I am a stranger; draw me nearer unto the source of Thy gifts. I am sick; sprinkle upon me the healing waters of Thy grace. I am a captive; rid me of my bondage, by the power of Thy might and through the force of Thy will, that I may soar on the wings of detachment towards the loftiest summits of Thy creation. Thou, verily, doest what Thou choosest. There is no God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the All-Glorious, the Unconstrained.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 103)

Here's a rare, highly polished gem of wisdom:

Health is the greatest gift;
contentment is the greatest wealth;
trusting is the best relationship;
nirvana is the highest joy.
(Dhammapada - Sayings of the Buddha 2 (tr. J. Richards))

Of course, there is the Healing of the Manifestations of God:

4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
(King James Bible, Matthew)

Also, the healing effect of proper utterance:

16:24 Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
(King James Bible, Proverbs)

Then, a strong hint at a correct "method":

She can hardly conceive of a person in full spiritual health whose life is not one of prayer.
(St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel)

And, very sadly, the negative effect of the Scriptures on the unbeliever:

44. Had We sent this as a Qur'án (in a language) other than Arabic, they would have said: "Why are not its verses explained in detail? What! (a Book) not in Arabic and (a Messenger) an Arab?" Say: "It is a guide and a healing to those who believe; and for those who believe not, there is a deafness in their ears, and it is blindness in their (eyes); they are (as it were) being called from a place far distant!"
(The Qur'an (Yusuf Ali tr), Surah 41)

I can't leave this topic without directing you to the Words of the Master. . .

Friday, March 7, 2008

Love of God


The Fear of God and the Love of God must coexist.

We must know God is the All-Merciful and the King of Justice.

11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
(King James Bible, Luke)

That hypocrite in prayers and fasts
Displays exceeding diligence,
That men may think him drunk with love of God;
But if you look into the truth, he is drowned in hypocrisy.
(Mathnavi of Rumi (E.H. Whinfield tr), The Masnavi Vol 1)

2:160 Yet there are men who take to them idols along with God, and love them with the love of God: But stronger in the faithful is the love of God. Oh! the impious will see, when they see their chastisement, that all power is God's, and that God is severe in chastising.
(The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 2 - The Cow)

Take thou good heed that ye may all, under the leadership of Him Who is the Source of Divine Guidance, be enabled to direct thy steps aright upon the Bridge, which is sharper than the sword and finer than a hair, so that perchance the things which from the beginning of thy life till the end thou hast performed for the love of God, may not, all at once and unrealized by thyself, be turned to acts not acceptable in the sight of God. Verily God guideth whom He will into the path of absolute certitude.
(The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 96)

Church dignitaries of various branches of the Christian Tree came, some earnestly desirous of finding new aspects of the Truth -- "the wisdom that buildeth up, rather than the knowledge that puffeth up." Others there were who stopped their ears, lest they should hear and understand.

One afternoon, a party of the latter type arrived. They spoke words of bigotry, of intolerance, of sheer cruelty in their bitter condemnation of all who did not accept their own particular dogma, showing themselves obsessed by "the hate of man, disguised as love of God," a thin disguise to the penetrating eyes of the Master. Perhaps they were dreading the revealing light of Truth which He sought to shed upon the darkness of their outworn ecclesiasticism. The new revelation was too great for their narrowed souls and fettered minds.
(Lady Blomfield, The Chosen Highway, p. 182)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fear of God


I grew up with the concept of Fearing God but my dad was a minister and I got quite confused between fearing God or Dad...

There's been a growing movement of people who claim "fear of God" is not spiritual since God is Love.

If so, why was this said?

36:1 The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes.
(King James Bible, Psalms)

There are also these ideas:

I give you my advice, and it is this: Train these children with divine exhortations. From their childhood instill in their hearts the love of God so they may manifest in their lives the fear of God and have confidence in the bestowals of God. Teach them to free themselves from human imperfections and to acquire the divine perfections latent in the heart of man.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 53)

"In explaining the fear of God to children, there is no objection to teaching it as 'Abdu'l-Bahá so often taught everything, in the form of parables. Also the child should be made to understand that we don't fear God because He is cruel, but we fear Him because He is Just, and, if we do wrong and deserve to be punished, then in His Justice He may see fit to punish us. We must both love God and fear Him."
(Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 236)

Here's a comment on the attitude Scripture should inspire:

Had we sent down this Koran on some mountain, thou wouldst certainly have seen it humbling itself and cleaving asunder for the fear of God. Such are the parables we propose to men in order that they may reflect.
(The Qur'an (Rodwell tr), Sura 59 - The Emigration)

This one is even more potent:

3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 3:14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 3:15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 3:16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 3:17 And the way of peace have they not known: 3:18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
(King James Bible, Romans)

And, since we're oh so human, we sometimes need a reward to keep us on the Path:

Again, there are those famed and accomplished men of learning, possessed of praiseworthy qualities and vast erudition, who lay hold on the strong handle of the fear of God and keep to the ways of salvation. In the mirror of their minds the forms of transcendent realities are reflected, and the lamp of their inner vision derives its light from the sun of universal knowledge. They are busy by night and by day with meticulous research into such sciences as are profitable to mankind, and they devote themselves to the training of students of capacity.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 21)

And, finally, beyond Reward and Punishment is this:

In formulating the principles and laws a part hath been devoted to penalties which form an effective instrument for the security and protection of men. However, dread of the penalties maketh people desist only outwardly from committing vile and contemptible deeds, while that which guardeth and restraineth man both outwardly and inwardly hath been and still is the fear of God. It is man's true protector and his spiritual guardian.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 93)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Imminent Changes

There's no excerpt from the Baha'i Scriptures today.

I'm transitioning to including quotations from other Scriptures and spiritual writings.

Not sure how long my first new post will take to write but I'm striving toward tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

More Unity . . .


Remember, Unity means:
Oneness
Wholeness
Integrity
Completeness

Today's Excerpt:

Look about thee at the world: here unity, mutual attraction, gathering together, engender life, but disunity and inharmony spell death. When thou dost consider all phenomena, thou wilt see that every created thing hath come into being through the mingling of many elements, and once this collectivity of elements is dissolved, and this harmony of components is dissevered, the life form is wiped out.

In cycles gone by, though harmony was established, yet, owing to the absence of means, the unity of all mankind could not have been achieved. Continents remained widely divided, nay even among the peoples of one and the same continent association and interchange of thought were wellnigh impossible. Consequently intercourse, understanding and unity amongst all the peoples and kindreds of the earth were unattainable. In this day, however, means of communication have multiplied, and the five continents of the earth have virtually merged into one. And for everyone it is now easy to travel to any land, to associate and exchange views with its peoples, and to become familiar, through publications, with the conditions, the religious beliefs and the thoughts of all men. In like manner all the members of the human family, whether peoples or governments, cities or villages, have become increasingly interdependent. For none is self-sufficiency any longer possible, inasmuch as political ties unite all peoples and nations, and the bonds of trade and industry, of agriculture and education, are being strengthened every day. Hence the unity of all mankind can in this day be achieved. Verily this is none other but one of the wonders of this wondrous age, this glorious century. Of this past ages have been deprived, for this century -- the century of light -- hath been endowed with unique and unprecedented glory, power and illumination. Hence the miraculous unfolding of a fresh marvel every day. Eventually it will be seen how bright its candles will burn in the assemblage of man.

Behold how its light is now dawning upon the world's darkened horizon. The first candle is unity in the political realm, the early glimmerings of which can now be discerned. The second candle is unity of thought in world undertakings, the consummation of which will erelong be witnessed. The third candle is unity in freedom which will surely come to pass. The fourth candle is unity in religion which is the corner-stone of the foundation itself, and which, by the power of God, will be revealed in all its splendour. The fifth candle is the unity of nations -- a unity which in this century will be securely established, causing all the peoples of the world to regard themselves as citizens of one common fatherland. The sixth candle is unity of races, making of all that dwell on earth peoples and kindreds of one race. The seventh candle is unity of language, i.e., the choice of a universal tongue in which all peoples will be instructed and converse. Each and every one of these will inevitably come to pass, inasmuch as the power of the Kingdom of God will aid and assist in their realization.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 31

Monday, March 3, 2008

"No power on earth can prevail against the armies of justice..."


Some folk become "spiritual" and forget that all the elevated thoughts and behavior are necessary not just for personal happiness but to improve Humanity's plight on this swiftly orbiting Earth.

Spiritual Selfishness can cause severe wretchedness for the Soul...

Today's Excerpt:
Desire and self come in the door
And blot out virtue, bright before,
And a hundred veils will rise
From the heart, to blind the eyes.

True civilization will unfurl its banner in the midmost heart of the world whenever a certain number of its distinguished and high-minded sovereigns -- the shining exemplars of devotion and determination -- shall, for the good and happiness of all mankind, arise, with firm resolve and clear vision, to establish the Cause of Universal Peace. They must make the Cause of Peace the object of general consultation, and seek by every means in their power to establish a Union of the nations of the world. They must conclude a binding treaty and establish a covenant, the provisions of which shall be sound, inviolable and definite. They must proclaim it to all the world and obtain for it the sanction of all the human race. This supreme and noble undertaking -- the real source of the peace and well-being of all the world -- should be regarded as sacred by all that dwell on earth. All the forces of humanity must be mobilized to ensure the stability and permanence of this Most Great Covenant. In this all-embracing Pact the limits and frontiers of each and every nation should be clearly fixed, the principles underlying the relations of governments towards one another definitely laid down, and all international agreements and obligations ascertained. In like manner, the size of the armaments of every government should be strictly limited, for if the preparations for war and the military forces of any nation should be allowed to increase, they will arouse the suspicion of others. The fundamental principle underlying this solemn Pact should be so fixed that if any government later violate any one of its provisions, all the governments on earth should arise to reduce it to utter submission, nay the human race as a whole should resolve, with every power at its disposal, to destroy that government. Should this greatest of all remedies be applied to the sick body of the world, it will assuredly recover from its ills and will remain eternally safe and secure.

Observe that if such a happy situation be forthcoming, no government would need continually to pile up the weapons of war, nor feel itself obliged to produce ever new military weapons with which to conquer the human race. A small force for the purposes of internal security, the correction of criminal and disorderly elements and the prevention of local disturbances, would be required -- no more. In this way the entire population would, first of all, be relieved of the crushing burden of expenditure currently imposed for military purposes, and secondly, great numbers of people would cease to devote their time to the continual devising of new weapons of destruction -- those testimonials of greed and bloodthirstiness, so inconsistent with the gift of life -- and would instead bend their efforts to the production of whatever will foster human existence and peace and well-being, and would become the cause of universal development and prosperity. Then every nation on earth will reign in honor, and every people will be cradled in tranquillity and content.

A few, unaware of the power latent in human endeavor, consider this matter as highly impracticable, nay even beyond the scope of man's utmost efforts. Such is not the case, however. On the contrary, thanks to the unfailing grace of God, the loving-kindness of His favored ones, the unrivaled endeavors of wise and capable souls, and the thoughts and ideas of the peerless leaders of this age, nothing whatsoever can be regarded as unattainable. Endeavor, ceaseless endeavor, is required. Nothing short of an indomitable determination can possibly achieve it. Many a cause which past ages have regarded as purely visionary, yet in this day has become most easy and practicable. Why should this most great and lofty Cause -- the daystar of the firmament of true civilization and the cause of the glory, the advancement, the well-being and the success of all humanity -- be regarded as impossible of achievement? Surely the day will come when its beauteous light shall shed illumination upon the assemblage of man....

No power on earth can prevail against the armies of justice, and every citadel must fall before them; for men willingly go down under the triumphant strokes of this decisive blade, and desolate places bloom and flourish under the tramplings of this host. There are two mighty banners which, when they cast their shadow across the crown of any king, will cause the influence of his government quickly and easily to penetrate the whole earth, even as if it were the light of the sun: the first of these two banners is wisdom; the second is justice. Against these two most potent forces, the iron hills cannot prevail, and Alexander's wall will break before them. It is clear that life in this fast-fading world is as fleeting and inconstant as the morning wind, and this being so, how fortunate are the great who leave a good name behind them, and the memory of a lifetime spent in the pathway of the good pleasure of God.

It is all one, if it be a throne
Or the bare ground under the open sky,
Where the pure soul lays him
Down to die.[1]
[1 Sa'di, The Gulistan, On the Conduct of Kings.]

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 69

Sunday, March 2, 2008

"Set your faces towards unity..."


Unity:

Oneness,
Wholeness,
Integrity,

Completeness,

Today's Excerpt:


O contending peoples and kindreds of the earth! Set your faces towards unity, and let the radiance of its light shine upon you. Gather ye together, and for the sake of God resolve to root out whatever is the source of contention amongst you. Then will the effulgence of the world's great Luminary envelop the whole earth, and its inhabitants become the citizens of one city, and the occupants of one and the same throne. This wronged One hath, ever since the early days of His life, cherished none other desire but this, and will continue to entertain no wish except this wish. There can be no doubt whatever that the peoples of the world, of whatever race or religion, derive their inspiration from one heavenly Source, and are the subjects of one God. The difference between the ordinances under which they abide should be attributed to the varying requirements and exigencies of the age in which they were revealed. All of them, except a few which are the outcome of human perversity, were ordained of God, and are a reflection of His Will and Purpose. Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you. Cleave unto that which draweth you together and uniteth you. This, verily, is the most exalted Word which the Mother Book hath sent down and revealed unto you. To this beareth witness the Tongue of Grandeur from His habitation of glory.


Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 216



Saturday, March 1, 2008

"...O kings of the earth..."


I wish I could deliver today's Message to each of the world's rulers and engage them in some SERIOUS conversation . . .

Today's Excerpt:

Lay not aside the fear of God, O kings of the earth, and beware that ye transgress not the bounds which the Almighty hath fixed. Observe the injunctions laid upon you in His Book, and take good heed not to overstep their limits. Be vigilant, that ye may not do injustice to anyone, be it to the extent of a grain of mustard seed. Tread ye the path of justice, for this, verily, is the straight path.

Compose your differences, and reduce your armaments, that the burden of your expenditures may be lightened, and that your minds and hearts may be tranquillized. Heal the dissensions that divide you, and ye will no longer be in need of any armaments except what the protection of your cities and territories demandeth. Fear ye God, and take heed not to outstrip the bounds of moderation, and be numbered among the extravagant.

We have learned that you are increasing your outlay every year, and are laying the burden thereof on your subjects. This, verily, is more than they can bear, and is a grievous injustice. Decide justly between men, and be ye the emblems of justice amongst them. This, if ye judge fairly, is the thing that behoveth you, and beseemeth your station.

Beware not to deal unjustly with any one that appealeth to you, and entereth beneath your shadow. Walk ye in the fear of God, and be ye of them that lead a godly life. Rest not on your power, your armies, and treasures. Put your whole trust and confidence in God, Who hath created you, and seek ye His help in all your affairs. Succor cometh from Him alone. He succoreth whom He will with the hosts of the heavens and of the earth.

Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed.

Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 250

Friday, February 29, 2008

Rewards


Because of today's quote, I want to give you a chance to explore the Virtues Project.

It's been said we're on this earth for a fleeting time to grow our virtues and those very spiritual qualities are our "tools" in the Life Eternal...

Today's Excerpt:

The rewards of this life
are the virtues and perfections which adorn the reality of man. For example, he was dark and becomes luminous, he was ignorant and becomes wise, he was neglectful and becomes vigilant, he was asleep and becomes awakened, he was dead and becomes living, he was blind and becomes a seer, he was deaf and becomes a hearer, he was earthly and becomes heavenly, he was material and becomes spiritual. Through these rewards he gains spiritual birth, and becomes a new creature. He becomes the manifestation of the verse in the Gospel where it is said of the disciples that they were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God; that is to say, they were delivered from the animal characteristics and qualities which are the characteristics of human nature, and they became qualified with the divine characteristics, which are the bounty of God; this is the meaning of the second birth. For such people there is no greater torture than being veiled from God, and no more severe punishment than sensual vices, dark qualities, lowness of nature, engrossment in carnal desires. When they are delivered through the light of faith from the darkness of these vices, and become illuminated with the radiance of the Sun of Reality, and ennobled with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest reward, and they know it to be the true paradise. In the same way they consider that the spiritual punishment, that is to say the torture and punishment of existence, is to be subjected to the world of nature, to be veiled from God, to be brutal and ignorant, to fall into carnal lusts, to be absorbed in animal frailties; to be characterized with dark qualities, such as falsehood, tyranny, cruelty, attachment to the affairs of the world, and being immersed in satanic ideas; for them, these are the greatest punishments and tortures.

Likewise the rewards of the other world are the eternal life which is clearly mentioned in all the Holy Books, the divine perfections, the eternal bounties, and everlasting felicity. The rewards of the other world are the perfections and the peace obtained in the spiritual worlds after leaving this world; whilst the rewards of this life are the real luminous perfections which are realized in this world, and which are the cause of eternal life, for they are the very progress of existence. It is like the man who passes from the embryonic world to the state of maturity, and becomes the manifestation of these words: "Blessed be God, the best of creators." The rewards of the other world are peace, the spiritual graces, the various spiritual gifts in the Kingdom of God, the gaining of the desires of the heart and the soul, and the meeting of God in the world of eternity. In the same way the punishments of the other world, that is to say, the torments of the other world, consist in being deprived of the special divine blessings and the absolute bounties, and falling into the lowest degrees of existence. He who is deprived of these divine favors, although he continues after death, is considered as dead by the people of truth.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá'í World Faith, p. 324

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"...regard their desires as utter nothingness..."


Surrendering the will to God is one of the harder nuts I had to crack on my spiritual journey.

One would think that abiding by the Desires of one's Creator would be a no-brainer.

Yet, the ego can be the greatest spiritual traitor.

In my nearly 62 years of living, things went severely south every time my ego set the terms of engagement.

Today's Excerpts:

O thou who hast surrendered thy will to God! By self-surrender and perpetual union with God is meant that men should merge their will wholly in the Will of God, and regard their desires as utter nothingness beside His Purpose. Whatsoever the Creator commandeth His creatures to observe, the same must they diligently, and with the utmost joy and eagerness, arise and fulfil. They should in no wise allow their fancy to obscure their judgment, neither should they regard their own imaginings as the voice of the Eternal.

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CLX, p. 337

Perish that lover who discerneth between the pleasant and the poisonous in his love for his beloved!

Bahá’u’lláh: Prayers and Meditations, Selection VIII, p. 11

"I swear by My life! Nothing save that which profiteth them can befall My loved ones. To this testifieth the Pen of God, the Most Powerful, the All-Glorious, the Best Beloved."

Bahá’u’lláh, quoted by Shoghi Effendi in The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 82

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"...they exercise their influence upon all created things."


It's been said we're created in the image of God.

Since none of us are omnipotent or omniscient, "image" needs understanding.

Let's consider that, having been created by God, we have the potential to manifest divine qualities—virtues—the Names of God.

In a world gone blind with materialism, it's a challenge to see how much True Power this Relationship to God can create...

Today's Excerpt:

"The companions of God," Bahá'u'lláh Himself has declared, "are, in this day, the lump that must leaven the peoples of the world. They must show forth such trustworthiness, such truthfulness and perseverance, such deeds and character that all mankind may profit by their example." "I swear by Him Who is the Most Great Ocean!" He again affirms, "Within the very breath of such souls as are pure and sanctified far-reaching potentialities are hidden. So great are these potentialities that they exercise their influence upon all created things."

Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 23

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Depression Meditations

I found out in '06 it's likely I've had depression most of my life.

One of the people I live with has a similar history.

A number of my blogging friends are in the same boat.

I'm submerged in a medical treatment that increases depression.

I take medication but I realize it's, at best, a chemical life jacket; certainly not something that can remove the Drowning Sea of Feelings...

I'm striving for a spiritual cure.

Today's Excerpts:

"He was very sorry to hear of the condition of your dear sister. He would advise her to turn her thoughts determinedly and intelligently -- by that I mean unemotionally -- to God, realising that He is forgiving, that in one moment He can, through His Blessed Mercy, take away our sense of failure and help us to do better in the future -- if we sincerely wish to; to turn to Him in prayer and seek to draw closer to Him; and to accept His Will and submit her own desires and opinions to His Wish and plan for her. "There is a tremendous darkness in the world today, the darkness caused by mankind's going against the Laws of God and giving way to the animal side of human nature. People must recognize this fact, and consciously struggle against pessimism and depression."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, July 14, 1945, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 115)

Let not too much reading (of the Sacred Word) and actions by day or night make you proud. To chant but one verse with joy and gladness is better for you than reading all the Revelations of the Omnipotent God with carelessness. Chant the Tablets of God in such measure that ye be not overtaken with fatigue and depression. Burden not the soul so as to cause exhaustion and langour, but rather refresh it that thus it may soar on the wings of Revelation to the Dawning-place of proofs. This brings you nearer to God, were ye of those who understand.

(Dr. J.E. Esslemont, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, p. 92)

The death of Mirza Abu'l-Fadl, which occurred in Cairo on January 21st 1914, brought deep sorrow to 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Speaking at His home, the next day, He said:

". . . No matter how much we want to console ourselves, we cannot be consoled. How good for man to be like this, so that the hearts of all the friends are attracted to him in every way. While in Alexandria, every time my heart was depressed, I used to go and meet him and at once my depression vanished. He was very truthful. He never harbored deceit and revenge."

(H.M. Balyuzi, Abdu'l-Baha - The Centre of the Covenant, p. 403)

Life, in all that composed its deepest values, seemed to have left me high and dry on the banks of its swiftly-flowing stream. Outwardly all was well but that inward voice that adds, "All is well indeed," was silent. I know of no greater disappointment, no more terrible depression than that which comes to the sincere soul who, seeking God, finds Him not.

(Howard Colby Ives, Portals to Freedom, p. 19)

In this valley he discovers the breezes of divine contentment, which waft from the desert of the spirit and consume the veils of poverty. There he witnesses the Day wherein "God will make all independent out of His abundance" with his outer and inner eye in the visible and invisible parts of things; he passes from sorrow to happiness, returns from sadness to joy, and changes depression and rejection into gladness and cheerfulness.

(Compilations, Baha'i Scriptures, p. 167)

"You also ask what one should do to 'handle depression and anger with someone' one feels 'very positively about'. The Universal House of Justice suggests that you call to mind the admonitions found in our writings on the need to overlook the shortcomings of others, to forgive and conceal their misdeeds, not to expose their bad qualities, but to search for and affirm their praiseworthy ones, and endeavour to be always forbearing, patient, and merciful. Such passages as the following extract from one of the letter written on behalf of the beloved Guardian by his secretary will also be helpful:

"Each of us is responsible for one life only, and that is our own. Each of us is immeasurably far from being "perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect: and the task of perfecting our own life and character is one that requires all our attention, our will-power and energy...."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, September 23, 1975, Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 90)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Another Installment of "Let's Be Clear..."


I'm a writer and astrologer but I've gone out of my way to study the sciences.

I've got nothing against science, per se, it's just that most scientists (and philosophers) have a severe lack of self-esteem [which, I suppose, shows that someone can have a well-developed ego and still lack self-esteem].

Far too many people let far too many "scientists" convince them that we humans are "nothing special", just one of the tool-using animals.

They deny the human-animal a divine spirit...

About the only thing that's good for is to justify massive lust and greed...

Today's Excerpt:

Know that people belong to two categories, that is to say, they constitute two parties. One party deny the spirit, and say that man also is a species of animal; for they say, do we not see that animals and men share the same powers and senses? These simple single elements which fill space are endlessly combined, and from each of these combinations one of the beings is produced. Among these beings is the possessor of spirit, of the powers and of the senses. The more perfect the combination, the nobler is the being. The combination of the elements in the body of man is more perfect than the composition of any other being; it is mingled in absolute equilibrium, therefore it is more noble and more perfect. "It is not," they say, "that he has a special power and spirit which the other animals lack: animals possess sensitive bodies, but man in some powers has more sensation -- although, in what concerns the outer senses, such as hearing, sight, taste, smell, touch, and even in some interior powers like memory, the animal is more richly endowed than man." "The animal, too," they say, "has intelligence and perception": all that they concede is that man's intelligence is greater.

This is what the philosophers of the present state; this is their saying, this is their supposition, and thus their imagination decrees. So with powerful arguments and proofs, they make the descent of man go back to the animal, and say that there was once a time when man was an animal; that then the species changed, and progressed little by little until it reached the present status of man.

But the theologians say: No, this is not so. Though man has powers and outer senses in common with the animal, yet an extraordinary power exists in him of which the animal is bereft. The sciences, arts, inventions, trades, and discoveries of realities, are the results of this spiritual power. This is a power which encompasses all things, comprehends their realities, discovers all the hidden mysteries of beings, and through this knowledge controls them: it even perceives things which do not exist outwardly; that is to say, intellectual realities which are not sensible, and which have no outward existence, because they are invisible; so it comprehends the mind, the spirit, the qualities, the characters, the love and sorrow of man, which are intellectual realities. Moreover, these existing sciences, arts, laws, and endless inventions of man at one time were invisible, mysterious, and hidden secrets; it is only the all-encompassing human power which has discovered and brought them out from the plane of the invisible to the plane of the visible. So telegraphy, photography, phonography, and all such inventions and wonderful arts, were at one time hidden mysteries: the human reality discovered and brought them out from the plane of the invisible to the plane of the visible. There was even a time when the qualities of this iron which you see -- indeed of all the metals -- were hidden mysteries; men discovered this metal, and wrought it in this industrial form. It is the same with all the other discoveries and inventions of man, which are innumerable.

This we cannot deny. If we say that these are effects of powers which animals also have, and of the powers of the bodily senses, we see clearly and evidently that the animals are, in regard to these powers, superior to man. For example, the sight of animals is much more keen than the sight of man; so also is their power of smell and taste. Briefly, in the powers which animals and men have in common, the animal is often the more powerful. For example, let us take the power of memory: if you carry a pigeon from here to a distant country, and there set it free, it will return, for it remembers the way. Take a dog from here to the center of Asia, set him free, and he will come back here and never once lose the road. So it is with the other powers such as hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch.

Thus it is clear that if there were not in man a power different from any of those of the animals, the latter would be superior to man in inventions and the comprehension of realities. Therefore it is evident that man has a gift which the animal does not possess. Now, the animal perceives sensible things, but does not perceive intellectual realities. For example, that which is within the range of its vision the animal sees, but that which is beyond the range of sight it is not possible for it to perceive, and it cannot imagine it. So it is not possible for the animal to understand that the earth has the form of a globe. But man from known things proves unknown things, and discovers unknown truths. For example, man sees the curve of the horizon, and from this he infers the roundness of the earth. The Pole Star at 'Akká, for instance, is at 33°, that is to say, it is 33° above the horizon. When a man goes towards the North Pole, the Pole Star rises one degree above the horizon for each degree of distance that he travels, that is to say, the altitude of the Pole Star will be 34° , then 40° , then 50° , then 60° , then 70° . If he reaches the North Pole the altitude of the Pole Star will be 90° or have attained the zenith, that is to say, will be directly overhead. This Pole Star and its ascension are sensible things. The farther one goes towards the Pole, the higher the Pole Star rises; from these two known truths an unknown thing has been discovered, that is, that the horizon is curved: meaning that the horizon of each degree of the earth is a different horizon from that of another degree. Man perceives this, and proves from it an invisible thing which is the roundness of the earth. This it is impossible for the animal to perceive. In the same way it cannot understand that the sun is the center and that the earth revolves around it. The animal is the captive of the senses and bound by them; all that is beyond the senses, the things that they do not control, the animal can never understand; although in the outer senses it is greater than man. Hence it is proved and verified that in man there is a power of discovery by which he is distinguished from the animals, and this is the spirit of man.

Praise be to God! man is always turned towards the heights, and his aspiration is lofty; he always desires to reach a greater world than the world in which he is, and to mount to a higher sphere than that in which he is. The love of exaltation is one of the characteristics of man. I am astonished that certain philosophers of America and Europe are content to gradually approach the animal world, and so to go backwards; for the tendency of existence must be towards exaltation. Nevertheless, if you said to one of them, You are an animal -- he would be extremely hurt and angry.

What a difference between the human world and the world of the animal; between the elevation of man and the abasement of the animal; between the perfection of man and the ignorance of the animal; between the light of man and the darkness of the animal; between the glory of man and the degradation of the animal! An Arab child of ten years can manage two or three hundred camels in the desert, and with his voice can lead them forward or turn them back. A weak Hindu can so control a huge elephant, that the elephant becomes the most obedient of servants. All things are subdued by the hand of man; he can resist nature, while all other creatures are captives of nature, none can depart from her requirements. Man alone can resist nature. Nature attracts bodies to the center of the earth; man through mechanical means goes far from it, and soars in the air. Nature prevents man from crossing the seas, man builds a ship, and he travels and voyages across the great ocean, and so on; the subject is endless. For example, man drives engines over the mountains and through the wildernesses, and gathers in one spot the news of the events of the East and West. All this is contrary to nature. The sea with its grandeur cannot deviate by an atom from the laws of nature; the sun in all its magnificence cannot deviate as much as a needle's point from the laws of nature, and can never comprehend the conditions, the state, the qualities, the movements, and the nature of man.

What, then, is the power in this small body of man which encompasses all this? What is this ruling power by which he subdues all things?

One more point remains: modern philosophers say: "We have never seen the spirit in man, and in spite of our researches into the secrets of the human body, we do not perceive a spiritual power. How can we imagine a power which is not sensible?" The theologians reply: "The spirit of the animal also is not sensible, and through its bodily powers it cannot be perceived. By what do you prove the existence of the spirit of the animal? There is no doubt that from its effects you prove that in the animal there is a power which is not in the plant, and this is the power of the senses; that is to say, sight, hearing, and also other powers; from these you infer that there is an animal spirit. In the same way, from the proofs and signs we have mentioned, we argue that there is a human spirit. Since in the animal there are signs which are not in the plant, you say this power of sensation is a property of the animal spirit; you also see in man signs, powers, and perfections which do not exist in the animal; therefore you infer that there is a power in him which the animal is without."

If we wish to deny everything that is not sensible, then we must deny the realities which unquestionably exist. For example, ethereal matter is not sensible, though it has an undoubted existence. The power of attraction is not sensible, though it certainly exists. From what do we affirm these existences? From their signs. Thus this light is the vibration of that ethereal matter, and from this vibration we infer the existence of ether.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Baha'i World Faith, p. 306