Thursday, January 31, 2008

"...the beauteous robe of faith..."

I like using Wikipedia, even if parts of it are untrustworthy.

No matter what field of life you name, making personal judgements about the trustworthiness of ideas, events, and people are necessary for our spiritual growth.

Even matters of faith need the clarity of reason to fuel their fires and even Wikipedia needs to make judgements about the trustworthiness of information.

Here's the beginning of their entry on Faith:

And, here are our quotes for today:

"Just as the conception of faith hath existed from the beginning that hath no beginning, and will endure till the end that hath no end, in like manner will the true believer eternally live and endure."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXIII, p. 141

"Amity and rectitude of conduct, rather than dissension and mischief, are the marks of true faith."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection C, p. 205

"Arise and, armed with the power of faith, shatter to pieces the gods of your vain imaginings, the sowers of dissension amongst you."
Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CXI, p. 217

"He [Muhammad] bade the erring and wayward arise and speed out of the sepulchres of their bodies, arrayed them with the beauteous robe of faith, and quickened them with the breath of a new and wondrous life."

Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 123, p. 107

"....the peoples of the world are judged by their countenance. By it, their misbelief, their faith, and their iniquity are all made manifest."

Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 187, p. 160

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Revealing Power of Faith

The two excerpts for today are both by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá but from different times and texts.

Still, together, they say a lot for the oft proclaimed
Woman's Intuition . . .

"Every superior stage comprehendeth that which is inferior and discovereth the reality thereof, but the inferior one is unaware of that which is superior and cannot comprehend it. Thus man cannot grasp the Essence of Divinity, but can, by his reasoning power, by observation, by his intuitive faculties and the revealing power of his faith, believe in God, discover the bounties of His Grace."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablet to August Forel, p. 15

The following quote is from at least 80 years ago...

"....the balance is already shifting; force is losing its dominance, and mental alertness, intuition, and the spiritual qualities of love and service, in which woman is strong, are gaining ascendancy...."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá quoted in Esslemont: Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era, p. 149

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"...the soul is a power that is free. "

If one were to combine the meaning of yesterday's excerpt with the two for today, there could be a "formula" created about our Nature as humans:


"Now concerning mental faculties, they are in truth of the inherent properties of the soul, even as the radiation of light is the essential property of the sun....It is through the power of the soul that the mind comprehendeth, imagineth and exerteth its influence, whilst the soul is a power that is free. The mind comprehendeth the abstract by the aid of the concrete, but the soul hath limitless manifestations of its own. The mind is circumscribed, the soul limitless. It is by the aid of such senses as those of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch, that the mind comprehendeth, whereas the soul is free from all agencies."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablet to August Forel, p. 8

"....regarding the question whether the faculties of the mind and the human soul are one and the same. These faculties are but the inherent properties of the soul, such as the power of imagination, of thought, of understanding; powers that are the essential requisites of the reality of man, even as the solar ray is the inherent property of the sun. The temple of man is like unto a mirror, his soul is as the sun, and his mental faculties even as the rays that emanate from that source of light. The ray may cease to fall upon the mirror, but it can in no wise be dissociated from the sun."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Tablet to August Forel, pp. 24-25

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Wert thou to ponder in thine heart, from now until the end that hath no end...this divinely ordained and subtle Reality..."

I've made a point in my life to study a lot of science along with all the "humanities".

The deeper I got into science, the more clearly I could see the logical effect of denying the existence of God.

Scientists are only the latest in a long line of humans that claimed infallible understanding.

It's really rather funny when they make a bold claim that blows back in their face.

The human mind--or, rational faculty--is a field of study that has ultimately embarrassed colleges full of scientists...

"Consider the rational faculty with which God hath endowed the essence of man. Examine thine own self, and behold how thy motion and stillness, thy will and purpose, thy sight and hearing, thy sense of smell and power of speech, and whatever else is related to, or transcendeth, thy physical senses or spiritual perceptions, all proceed from, and owe their existence to, this same faculty. So closely are they related unto it, that if in less than the twinkling of an eye its relationship to the human body be severed, each and every one of these senses will cease immediately to exercise its function, and will be deprived of the power to manifest the evidences of its activity. It is indubitably clear and evident that each of these afore-mentioned instruments has depended, and will ever continue to depend, for its proper functioning on this rational faculty, which should be regarded as a sign of the revelation of Him Who is the sovereign Lord of all. Through its manifestation all these names and attributes have been revealed, and by the suspension of its action they are all destroyed and perish.

"It would be wholly untrue to maintain that this faculty is the same as the power of vision, inasmuch as the power of vision is derived from it and acteth in dependence upon it. It would, likewise, be idle to contend that this faculty can be identified with the sense of hearing, as the sense of hearing receiveth from the rational faculty the requisite energy for performing its functions.

"This same relationship bindeth this faculty with whatsoever hath been the recipient of these names and attributes within the human temple. These diverse names and revealed attributes have been generated through the agency of this sign of God. Immeasurably exalted is this sign, in its essence and reality, above all such names and attributes. Nay, all else besides it will, when compared with its glory, fade into utter nothingness and become a thing forgotten.

"Wert thou to ponder in thine heart, from now until the end that hath no end, and with all the concentrated intelligence and understanding which the greatest minds have attained in the past or will attain in the future, this divinely ordained and subtle Reality, this sign of the revelation of the All-Abiding, All-Glorious God, thou wilt fail to comprehend its mystery or to appraise its virtue. Having recognized thy powerlessness to attain to an adequate understanding of that Reality which abideth within thee, thou wilt readily admit the futility of such efforts as may be attempted by thee, or by any of the created things, to fathom the mystery of the Living God, the Day Star of unfading glory, the Ancient of everlasting days. This confession of helplessness which mature contemplation must eventually impel every mind to make is in itself the acme of human understanding, and marketh the culmination of man's development."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXXXIII, pp. 164-166

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"….the universal divine mind..."

There are so many misconceptions floating around about God, His Prophets, and human nature...

It may seem too complex to worry about...

Of course, not knowing the Truth about God, His Prophets, and human nature is the prime reason for all our earthly problems...

"….the universal divine mind, which is beyond nature, is the bounty of the Preexistent Power. This universal mind is divine; it embraces existing realities, and it receives the light of the mysteries of God. It is a conscious power, not a power of investigation and of research.

"The intellectual power of the world of nature is a power of investigation, and by its researches it discovers the realities of beings and the properties of existences; but the heavenly intellectual power, which is beyond nature, embraces things and is cognizant of things, knows them, understands them, is aware of mysteries, realities and divine significations, and is the discoverer of the concealed verities of the Kingdom.

"This divine intellectual power is the special attribute of the Holy Manifestations and the Dawning-places of prophethood; a ray of this light falls upon the mirrors of the hearts of the righteous, and a portion and a share of this power comes to them through the Holy Manifestations."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 58: "The Degree of Knowledge Possessed by Man and the Divine Manifestations", p. 218

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"...the wine of certitude..."

There are so many opinions about how to know what God wants for us (and, this is one of them...).

Of course, God's Wishes are not a matter of opinion.

Anyone who tells you they know what God wants for your life should be treated kindly but certainly not believed automatically.

Our soul's growth is too important to entrust to human care...

"...they that tread the path of faith, they that thirst for the wine of certitude, must cleanse themselves of all that is earthly -- their ears from idle talk, their minds from vain imaginings, their hearts from worldly affections, their eyes from that which perisheth. They should put their trust in God, and, holding fast unto Him, follow in His way. Then will they be made worthy of the effulgent glories of the sun of divine knowledge and understanding, and become the recipients of a grace that is infinite and unseen, inasmuch as man can never hope to attain unto the knowledge of the All-Glorious, can never quaff from the stream of divine knowledge and wisdom, can never enter the abode of immortality, nor partake of the cup of divine nearness and favour, unless and until he ceases to regard the words and deeds of mortal men as a standard for the true understanding and recognition of God and His Prophets."

Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, pp. 3-4

Friday, January 25, 2008

"...there is no satanic tree whatever -- Satan being a product of human minds and of instinctive human tendencies toward error." ~~~ ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Even though my parents (may God bless them) were ministers who believed in an incarnate entity of evil called Satan, I came to the conclusion that "Satan" was not as equally powerful as God.

That just made no sense...

Many years later, I found Writings that confirmed my beliefs and filled them with spiritual confirmations !

"Indeed the actions of man himself breed a profusion of satanic power. For were men to abide by and observe the divine teachings, every trace of evil would be banished from the face of the earth.

"However, the widespread differences that exist among mankind and the prevalence of sedition, contention, conflict and the like are the primary factors which provoke the appearance of the satanic spirit.

"Yet the Holy Spirit hath ever shunned such matters.

"A world in which naught can be perceived save strife, quarrels and corruption is bound to become the seat of the throne, the very metropolis, of Satan."

Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, "Lawh-i-Maqsúd" or "Tablet of Maqsúd", pp. 176-177

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance..."

There are children killing each other.

There are also children raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for social welfare projects.

Children, in general, are more capable (whether or not they use the capabilities).

Children are the Future !

"The root cause of wrongdoing is ignorance, and we must therefore hold fast to the tools of perception and knowledge. Good character must be taught. Light must be spread afar, so that, in the school of humanity, all may acquire the heavenly characteristics of the spirit, and see for themselves beyond any doubt that there is no fiercer hell, no more fiery abyss, than to possess a character that is evil and unsound; no more darksome pit nor loathsome torment than to show forth qualities which deserve to be condemned.

"The individual must be educated to such a high degree that he would rather have his throat cut than tell a lie, and would think it easier to be slashed with a sword or pierced with a spear than to utter calumny or be carried away by wrath.

"Thus will be kindled the sense of human dignity and pride, to burn away the reapings of lustful appetites. Then will each one of God’s beloved shine out as a bright moon with qualities of the spirit, and the relationship of each to the Sacred Threshold of his Lord will be not illusory but sound and real, will be as the very foundation of the building, not some embellishment on its facade.

"It followeth that the children’s school must be a place of utmost discipline and order, that instruction must be thorough, and provision must be made for the rectification and refinement of character; so that, in his earliest years, within the very essence of
the child, the divine foundation will be laid and the structure of holiness raised up.

"Know that this matter of instruction, of character rectification and refinement, of heartening and encouraging the child, is of the utmost importance, for such are basic principles of God.

"Thus, if God will, out of these spiritual schools illumined children will arise, adorned with all the fairest virtues of humankind, and will shed their light not only across Persia, but around the world.

"It is extremely difficult to teach the individual and refine his character once puberty is passed. By then, as experience hath shown, even if every effort be exerted to modify some tendency of his, it all availeth nothing. He may, perhaps, improve somewhat
today; but let a few days pass and he forgetteth, and turneth backward to his habitual condition and accustomed ways. Therefore it is in early childhood that a firm foundation must be laid. While the branch is green and tender it can easily be made straight.

"Our meaning is that qualities of the spirit are the basic and divine foundation, and adorn the true essence of man; and knowledge is the cause of human progress. The beloved of God must attach great importance to this matter, and carry it forward with enthusiasm and zeal."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selection #111, pp. 136-137

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"...the instructions of the Prophets of God. "

What makes us do the "right" thing?

How do we know what is "right"?

Even if we discover the "right path", how do we keep our feet moving up that Path . . . ?

"There are some who imagine that an innate sense of human dignity will prevent man from committing evil actions and insure his spiritual and material perfection. That is, that an individual who is characterized with natural intelligence, high resolve, and a driving zeal, will, without any consideration for the severe punishments consequent on evil acts, or for the great rewards of righteousness, instinctively refrain from inflicting harm on his fellow men and will hunger and thirst to do good. And yet, if we ponder the lessons of history it will become evident that this very sense of honor and dignity is itself one of the bounties deriving from the instructions of the Prophets of God.

"We also observe in infants the signs of aggression and lawlessness, and that if a child is deprived of a teacher’s instructions his undesirable qualities increase from one
moment to the next. It is therefore clear that the emergence of this natural sense of human dignity and honor is the result of education.

"Secondly, even if we grant for the sake of the argument that instinctive intelligence and an innate moral quality would prevent wrongdoing, it is obvious that individuals so characterized are as rare as the philosopher’s stone. An assumption of this sort cannot be validated by mere words, it must be supported by the facts. Let us see what power in creation impels the masses toward righteous aims and deeds!

"Aside from this, if that rare individual who does exemplify such a faculty should also become an embodiment of the fear of God, it is certain that his strivings toward righteousness would be strongly reinforced."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 97-98

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Non-existence of Evil

The header for this post seems impossible--"The Non-existence of Evil".

How in the world...?

Evil seems way too obvious in our war-torn, terrorized, greed-infested world.


Spiritual perceptions are known for reversing perspectives born in materiality.

"The true explanation of this subject is very difficult. Know that beings are of two kinds: material and spiritual, those perceptible to the senses and those intellectual.

"Things which are sensible are those which are perceived by the five exterior senses; thus those outward existences which the eyes see are called sensible. Intellectual things are those which have no outward existence but are conceptions of the mind. For example, mind itself is an intellectual thing which has no outward existence. All man's characteristics and qualities form an intellectual existence and are not sensible.

"Briefly, the intellectual realities, such as all the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence. So ignorance is the want of knowledge; error is the want of guidance; forgetfulness is the want of memory; stupidity is the want of good sense. All these things have no real existence.

"In the same way, the sensible realities are absolutely good, and evil is due to their nonexistence -- that is to say, blindness is the want of sight, deafness is the want of hearing, poverty is the want of wealth, illness is the want of health, death is the want of life, and weakness is the want of strength.

"Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind -- that is, scorpions and serpents are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man; but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is their weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of their poison do not agree with our elements -- that is to say, as there is antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good.

"The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting.

"Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence. Good exists; evil is nonexistent."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Some Answered Questions, p. 262-265

Monday, January 21, 2008

"...the insistent self..."

Today's quotes are about the selfish habits of humanity and what can transpire when they are conquered.

"...God's Cause is spirit unalloyed. His Cause belongeth not to the material world. It cometh neither for strife nor war, nor for acts of mischief or of shame; it is neither for quarrelling with other Faiths, nor for conflicts with the nations. Its only army is the love of God, its only joy the clear wine of His knowledge, its only battle the expounding of the Truth; its one crusade is against the insistent self, the evil promptings of the human heart. Its victory is to submit and yield, and to be selfless is its everlasting glory. In brief, it is spirit upon spirit:

Unless ye must,
Bruise not the serpent in the dust,
How much less wound a man.
And if ye can,
No ant should ye alarm,
Much less a brother harm.

"Let all your striving be for this, to become the source of life and immortality, and peace and comfort and joy, to every human soul, whether one known to you or a stranger, one opposed to you or on your side. Look ye not upon the purity or impurity of his nature: look ye upon the all-embracing mercy of the Lord, the light of Whose grace hath embosomed the whole earth and all who dwell thereon, and in the plenitude of Whose bounty are immersed both the wise and the ignorant. Stranger and friend alike are seated at the table of His favour. Even as the believer, the denier who turneth away from God doth at the same time cup his hands and drink from the sea of His bestowals."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 256-257

"As long as man is a captive of habit, pursuing the dictates of self and desire, he is vanquished and defeated. This passionate personal ego takes the reins from his hands, crowds out the qualities of the divine ego and changes him into an animal, a creature unable to judge good from evil, or to distinguish light from darkness. He becomes blind to divine attributes, for this acquired individuality, the result of an evil routine of thought becomes the dominant note of his life.

"May all of you be freed from these dangers and delivered from the world of desires that you may enter into the realm of light and become divine, radiant, merciful, Godlike.

"All that has been created is for man who is at the apex of creation and who must be thankful for the divine bestowals, so that through his gratitude he may learn to understand life as a divine benefit. If we hold enmity with life, we are ingrates, for our material and spiritual existence is the outward evidences of the divine mercy.

"Therefore we must be happy and pass our time in praises, appreciating all things. But there is something else: detachment. We can appreciate without attaching ourselves to the things of this world. It sometimes happens that if a man loses his fortune he is so disheartened that he dies or becomes insane. While enjoying the things of this world we must remember that one day we shall have to do without them.

"Attach not thyself to anything unless in it thou seest the reality of God - this is the first step into the court of eternity. The earth life lasts but a short time, even its benefits are transitory; that which is temporary does not deserve our heart's attachment.

"Detachment does not consist in setting fire to one's house, or becoming bankrupt or throwing one's fortune out of the window, or even giving away all of one's possessions. Detachment consists in refraining from letting our possessions possess us. A prosperous merchant who is not absorbed in his business knows severance. A banker whose occupation does not prevent him from serving humanity is severed. A poor man can be attached to a small thing."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 133-136

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spiritual Civilization

I chose two excerpts today that are by the same Author and might be seen as contradictory.

I feel the key to harmonizing their meanings is to focus on the words "ever-advancing" and "moderation".

"The civilization, so often vaunted by the learned exponents of arts and sciences, will, if allowed to overleap the bounds of moderation, bring great evil upon men….If carried to excess, civilization will prove as prolific a source of evil as it had been of goodness when kept within the restraints of moderation."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CLXIV, pp. 342-343

"All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, p. 214

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Be fair in your judgment. Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves." ~~~ Bahá’u’lláh

Searchers on the spiritual Path will inevitably face the choice between their personal will and the Will of God.

The mystery of all this, to me, is that God gives us free will yet demands that we follow His Will.

The solution I've found to this enigma is that we never lose our free will when we freely decide to adhere to God's Wishes--our free will merely refuses to choose actions that are ungodly...

"Say: The heavens have been folded together, and the earth is held within His grasp, and the corrupt doers have been held by their forelock, and still they understand not. They drink of the tainted water, and know it not. Say: The shout hath been raised, and the people have come forth from their graves, and arising, are gazing around them. Some have made haste to attain the court of the God of Mercy, others have fallen down on their faces in the fire of Hell, while still others are lost in bewilderment. The verses of God have been revealed, and yet they have turned away from them. His proof hath been manifested, and yet they are unaware of it. And when they behold the face of the All-Merciful, their own faces are saddened, while they are disporting themselves. They hasten forward to Hell Fire, and mistake it for light. Far from God be what they fondly imagine!"

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection XVII, pp. 41-42

Friday, January 18, 2008

"Be fair..."

I'm trying something a bit different today--extremely similar ideas from a number of different religious texts.

"...people take the evil way in deeds, the evil way in words, the evil way in thoughts; and by taking the evil way in deeds, words, and thoughts, at the dissolution of the body, after death, they fall into a downward state of existence, a state of suffering, into perdition, and the abyss of hell. But, this is the misery of sensuous craving, the heaping up of suffering in the future life, due to sensuous craving, conditioned through sensuous craving, caused by sensuous craving, entirely dependent on sensuous craving."

Buddha, the Word (The Eightfold Path)

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."

King James Bible, 1 John, 3:17-18

"242. Whatever sin men commit by thoughts, words, or deeds, that they speedily burn away by penance, if they keep penance as their only riches.

"243. The gods accept the offerings of that Brahmana alone who has purified himself by austerities, and grant to him all he desires."

Hindu, Laws of Manu

"10 Whoso desireth power (should know that) all power belongeth to Allah. Unto Him good words ascend, and the pious deed doth He exalt; but those who plot iniquities, theirs will be an awful doom; and the plotting of such (folk) will come to naught."

The Qur'an (Pickthall tr), Sura 35 - The Creator

"Purity is for man, next to life, the greatest good, that purity, O Zarathushtra, that is in the Religion of Mazda for him who cleanses his own self with good thoughts, words, and deeds."

The Zend-Avesta, Avesta - Vendidad

"Be fair: Is the testimony of those acceptable and worthy of attention whose deeds agree with their words, whose outward behavior conforms with their inner life? The mind is bewildered at their deeds, and the soul marveleth at their fortitude and bodily endurance. Or is the testimony of these faithless souls who breathe naught but the breath of selfish desire, and who lie imprisoned in the cage of their idle fancies, acceptable? Like the bats of darkness, they lift not their heads from their couch except to pursue the transient things of the world, and find no rest by night except as they labor to advance the aims of their sordid life. Immersed in their selfish schemes, they are oblivious of the Divine decree. In the daytime they strive with all their soul after worldly benefits, and in the night season their sole occupation is to gratify their carnal desires. By what law or standard could men be justified in cleaving to the denials of such petty-minded souls and in ignoring the faith of them that have renounced, for the sake of the good pleasure of God, their life and substance, their fame and renown, their reputation and honor?"

Bahá’u’lláh: The Kitáb-i-Íqán, paragraph 250, pp. 207-208

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"….the pursuit of passion and desire will wrap the eyes in a thousand veils ..."

To anyone who's made sincere efforts on the spiritual Path, "human" nature can become problematic...

We apparently have bodies and live on earth for very good reasons, even though our true nature soars in the heavens of Spirituality.

"….the pursuit of passion and desire will wrap the eyes in a thousand veils that rise out of the heart to blind the sight and the insight as well.

"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."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 64

" is impossible for a human being to turn aside from his own selfish advantages and sacrifice his own good for the good of the community except through true religious faith. For self-love is kneaded into the very clay of man, and it is not possible that, without any hope of a substantial reward, he should neglect his own present material good."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, pp. 96-97

"Despair, both here and hereafter, is all you will gain from self-indulgence..."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 105

"The heart is a divine trust; cleanse it from the stain of self-love, adorn it with the coronal of pure intent…. This handful of days on earth will slip away like shadows and be over. Strive then that God may shed His grace upon you, that you may leave a favorable remembrance in the hearts and on the lips of those to come. 'And grant that I be spoken of with honor by posterity.'"[1]
[1 Qur'án 26:84.]

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 116

"This physical world of man is subject to the power of the lusts, and sin is the consequence of this power of the lusts, for it is not subject to the laws of justice and holiness. The body of man is a captive of nature; it will act in accordance with whatever nature orders. It is, therefore, certain that sins such as anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice, ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny exist in the physical world. All these brutal qualities exist in the nature of man. A man who has not had a spiritual education is a brute."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 29: "Explanation of Verse Twenty-Two, Chapter Fifteen, of the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians", p. 119

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Thus have their superstitions become veils between them and their own hearts..."

The year was 1865.

The place was Adrianople, Turkey (now Edirne).

Bahá’u’lláh had been banished there (for religious and political reasons) from His native Persia.

This link will give you some fascinating detail about the prayer Bahá’u’lláh revealed in Adrianople for a man named Ahmad.

Today's excerpt comes from that prayer:

"Say: O people be obedient to the ordinances of God, which have been enjoined ... by the Glorious, the Wise One. Verily He is the King of the Messengers and His book is the Mother Book did ye but know.

"Thus doth the Nightingale utter His call unto you from this prison.
He hath but to deliver this clear message. Whosoever desireth, let him turn aside from this counsel and whosoever desireth let him choose the path to his Lord.

"O people, if ye deny these verses, by what proof have ye believed in
God? Produce it, O assemblage of false ones.

"Nay, by the One in Whose hand is my soul, they are not, and never shall be able to do this, even should they combine to assist one another.

"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. And be thou so steadfast in My love that thy heart shall not waver, even if the swords of the enemies rain blows upon thee and all the heavens and the earth arise against thee.

"Be thou as a flame of fire to My enemies and a river of life eternal to My loved ones, and be not of those who doubt.

"And if thou art overtaken by affliction in My path, or degradation for My sake, be not thou troubled thereby.

"Rely upon God, thy God and the Lord of thy fathers. For the people
are wandering in the paths of delusion, bereft of discernment to see God with their own eyes, or hear His Melody with their own ears. Thus have We found them, as thou also dost witness.

"Thus have their superstitions become veils between them and their
own hearts and kept them from the path of God, the Exalted, the Great."

Compilations, Bahá'í Prayers, p. 209

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"...corrosion of ungodliness ..."

The influence of materialism's corruption is much greater than most people realize--so many die in its clutches...

Something to remember while pondering today's excerpt is that it was revealed over 100 years ago!

"The vitality of men’s belief in God is dying out in every land; nothing short of His wholesome medicine can ever restore it.

"The corrosion of ungodliness is eating into the vitals of human society; what else but the Elixir of His potent Revelation can cleanse and revive it?"

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection XCIX, p. 20

Monday, January 14, 2008

"...O Ministers of State..."

We've seen many excerpts from Bahá’u’lláh in this blog: moral guidelines, ethical principles, and transcendental truths.

Today's quote is addressed directly to humanity's rulers...

"Say: It behoveth you, O Ministers of State, to keep the precepts of God, and to forsake your own laws and regulations, and to be of them who are guided aright. Better is this for you than all ye possess, did ye but know it. If ye transgress the commandment of God, not one jot or one tittle of all your works shall be acceptable in His sight. Ye shall, erelong, discover the consequences of that which ye shall have done in this vain life, and shall be repaid for them. This, verily, is the truth, the undoubted truth.

"How great the number of those who, in bygone ages, have committed the things ye have committed, and who, though superior to you in rank, have, in the end, returned unto dust, and been consigned to their inevitable doom! Would that ye might ponder the Cause of God in your hearts! Ye shall follow in their wake, and shall be made to enter a habitation wherein none shall be found to befriend or help you. Ye shall, of a truth, be asked of your doings, shall be called to account for your failure in duty with regard to the Cause of God, and for having disdainfully rejected His loved ones who, with manifest sincerity, have come unto you.

"It is ye who have taken counsel together regarding them, ye that have preferred to follow the promptings of your own desires, and forsaken the commandment of God, the Help in Peril, the Almighty.

"Say: What! Cleave ye to your own devices, and cast behind your backs the precepts of God? Ye, indeed, have wronged your own selves and others. Would that ye could perceive it! Say: If your rules and principles be founded on justice, why is it, then, that ye follow those which accord with your corrupt inclinations and reject such as conflict with your desires? By what right claim ye, then, to judge fairly between men? Are your rules and principles such as to justify your persecution of Him Who, at your bidding, hath presented Himself before you, your rejection of Him, and your infliction on Him
every day of grievous injury? Hath He ever, though it be for one short moment, disobeyed you? "

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection LXV, pp. 123-124

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Soul ~ Revisited

Since we humans are so seduced by the world and our body's desires, I feel we can't get enough knowledge about our souls.

I've mentioned here before that this blog, while being a service to others, is also an extremely important Spiritual Discipline for me.

Seems knowledge of the soul should be part of every human's continuing education...

"When we speak of the soul we mean the motive power of this physical body which lives under its entire control in accordance with its dictates. If the soul identifies itself with the material world it remains dark, for in the natural world there is corruption, aggression, struggles for existence, greed, darkness, transgression and vice. If the soul remains in this station and moves along these paths it will be the recipient of this darkness; but if it becomes the recipient of the graces of the world of mind, its darkness will be transformed into light, its tyranny into justice, its ignorance into wisdom, its aggression into loving kindness; until it reach the apex. Then there will not remain any struggle for existence. Man will become free from egotism; he will be released from the material world; he will become the personification of justice and virtue, for a sanctified soul illumines humanity and is an honor to mankind, conferring life upon the children of men and suffering all nations to attain to the station of perfect unity."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on Divine Philosophy, Chapter 3: "Soul, Mind and Spirit: A Meditation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá", pp. 120-121

Saturday, January 12, 2008

"...sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature."

To help you prepare to read today's main excerpt, I offer two aids:

#2 "Materially, man is the prisoner of nature; the least wind disturbs him, the cold hurts him, the heat incommodes him, a mosquito irritates him; but when we consider the intelligence of man, an elephant is powerless before him, a lion is his prisoner, and a boy of twelve can lead twelve hundred animals. Man dries up the sea, inundates the desert, circumnavigates the globe, discovers what is under the earth, rides upon the air and creates new sciences. These are the signs of the crowning spiritual power of man, -- that power which can make nature his prisoner."
--- ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

"…the heart which receives a portion of the bounty of the Spirit becomes sanctified, good and pure—that is to say, the reality of man becomes purified and sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature. These natural impurities are evil qualities: anger, lust, worldliness, pride, lying, hypocrisy, fraud, self-love, etc.

"Man cannot free himself from the rage of the carnal passions except by the help of the Holy Spirit."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 19: "The Baptism of Christ", p. 92

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Fruit Tree Metaphor

I'm a writer.

I realize the importance of words.

I also have a sense of their "slipperiness"...

From a Speech delivered 3 December 1912 by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at 780 West End Avenue, New York, New York: "Be not satisfied with words, but seek to understand the spiritual meanings hidden in the heart of the words."

"Man is like unto a tree. If he be adorned with fruit, he hath been and will ever be worthy of praise and commendation. Otherwise a fruitless tree is but fit for fire. The fruits of the human tree are exquisite, highly desired and dearly cherished. Among them are upright character, virtuous deeds and a goodly utterance. The springtime for earthly trees occurreth once every year, while the one for human trees appeareth in the Days of God—exalted be His glory.

"Were the trees of men’s lives to be adorned in this divine Springtime with the fruits that have been mentioned, the effulgence of the light of Justice would, of a certainty, illumine all the dwellers of the earth and everyone would abide in tranquillity and contentment beneath the sheltering shadow of Him Who is the Object of all mankind.

"The Water for these trees is the living water of the sacred Words uttered by the Beloved of the world. In one instant are such trees planted and in the next their branches shall, through the outpourings of the showers of divine mercy, have reached the skies. A dried-up tree, however, hath never been nor will be worthy of any mention."

Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, "Excerpts from Other Tablets" (excerpt #18), p. 257

"Strain every nerve to acquire both inner and outer perfections, for the fruit of the human tree hath ever been and will ever be perfections both within and without. It is not desirable that a man be left without knowledge or skills, for he is then but a barren tree.

"Then, so much as capacity and capability allow, ye needs must deck the tree of being with fruits such as knowledge, wisdom, spiritual perception and eloquent speech."

Bahá’u’lláh: from a Tablet translated from Persian, quoted in the compilation Excellence in All Things, Selection #9

"….if this tree were entirely fruit, the vegetable perfections could not be attained; for leaves, blossoms and fruits are all necessary so that the tree may be adorned with utmost beauty and perfection. In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different organs, parts and members."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 32: "Explanation of the Verse ‘For Many are Called but Few are Chosen’", p. 129

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"In this journey the seeker becometh witness to a myriad changes..."

One of the greatest challenges I can imagine is finding Truth in the Den of Deniers.

Feels like the World has been such a Den for so long now...

"What 'oppression' is greater than that which hath been recounted? What 'oppression' is more grievous than that a soul seeking the truth, and wishing to attain unto the knowledge of God, should know not where to go for it and from whom to seek it?"

Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 31

Since most spiritual folk believe God is All-Good, it seems to make much sense that, in such a Dark World, He Sees great value in His creatures exerting themselves to find His Path:

"Know thou of a truth that the seeker must, at the beginning of his quest for God, enter the Garden of Search. In this journey it behoveth the wayfarer to detach himself from all save God and to close his eyes to all that is in the heavens and on the earth. There must not linger in his heart either the hate or the love of any soul, to the extent that they would hinder him from attaining the habitation of the celestial Beauty. He must sanctify his soul from the veils of glory and refrain from boasting of such worldly vanities, outward knowledge, or other gifts as God may have bestowed upon him. He must search after the truth to the utmost of his ability and exertion, that God may guide him in the paths of His favour and the ways of His mercy. For He, verily, is the best of helpers unto His servants. He saith, and He verily speaketh the truth: 'Whoso maketh efforts for Us, in Our ways shall We assuredly guide him.'(Qur’án 29:69) And furthermore: 'Fear God and God will give you knowledge.'(Qur’án 2:282)

"In this journey the seeker becometh witness to a myriad changes and transformations, confluences, and divergences. He beholdeth the wonders of Divinity in the mysteries of creation and discovereth the paths of guidance and the ways of His Lord. Such is the station reached by them that search after God, and such are the heights attained by those who hasten unto Him."

Bahá’u’lláh, Gems of Divine Mysteries, pp.36-37

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Valley of Wonderment

Today's excerpt from The Seven Valleys will be the last one, for awhile, from Bahá’u’lláh's Master-Work of Mysticism:

"O friend, the heart is the dwelling of eternal mysteries, make it not the home of fleeting fancies; waste not the treasure of thy precious life in employment with this swiftly passing world. Thou comest from the world of holiness -- bind not thine heart to the earth; thou art a dweller in the court of nearness -- choose not the homeland of the dust.

"In sum, there is no end to the description of these stages, but because of the wrongs inflicted by the peoples of the earth, this Servant is in no mood to continue:

"The tale is still unfinished and I have no heart for it --
Then pray forgive me. [1]
[1 Jalalu'd-Din Rumi (1207-1273 A.D.); The Mathnavi. Jalalu'd-
Din, called Mawlana ('our Master'), is the greatest of all Persian Sufi
poets, and founder of the Mawlavi 'whirling' dervish order.]

"The pen groaneth and the ink sheddeth tears, and the river [1] of the heart moveth in waves of blood. 'Nothing can befall us but what God hath destined for us.' [2] Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!
[1 Literally 'Jayhun,' a river in Turkistan.]
[2 Qur'an 9:51.]"

Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 34

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Valley of Unity

Continuing with excerpts from the Mystical Work, The Seven Valleys, today's quote is from the Valley of Unity.

"It is clear to thine Eminence that all the variations which the wayfarer in the stages of his journey beholdeth in the realms of being, proceed from his own vision.

"We shall give an example of this, that its meaning may become fully clear: Consider the visible sun; although it shineth with one radiance upon all things, and at the behest of the King of Manifestation bestoweth light on all creation, yet in each place it becometh manifest and sheddeth its bounty according to the potentialities of that place. For instance, in a mirror it reflecteth its own disk and shape, and this is due to the sensitivity of the mirror; in a crystal it maketh fire to appear, and in other things it showeth only the effect of its shining, but not its full disk. And yet, through that effect, by the command of the Creator, it traineth each thing according to the quality of that thing, as thou observest.

"In like manner, colors become visible in every object according to the nature of that object. For instance, in a yellow globe, the rays shine yellow; in a white the rays are white; and in a red, the red rays are manifest. Then these variations are from the object, not from the shining light. And if a place be shut away from the light, as by walls or a roof, it will be entirely bereft of the splendor of the light, nor will the sun shine thereon.

"Thus it is that certain invalid souls have confined the lands of knowledge within the wall of self and passion, and clouded them with ignorance and blindness, and have been veiled from the light of the mystic sun and the mysteries of the Eternal Beloved; they have strayed afar from the jewelled wisdom of the lucid Faith of the Lord of Messengers, have been shut out of the sanctuary of the All-Beauteous One, and banished from the Ka'bih
[1] of splendor.
[1 The holy Sanctuary at Mecca. Here the word means 'goal.']"

Bahá’u’lláh, The Seven Valleys, p. 18

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Valley of Knowledge

Today's post is another excerpt from The Seven Valleys; specifically, the Valley of Knowledge.

We go through our lives on earth feeling we "know" what's happening.

It doesn't take too many years to realize that we may have learned a massive amount of information but we Know little Truth.

Pity the poor souls that settle for materialistic knowledge and even pride themselves on its possession...

"There was once a lover who had sighed for long years in separation from his beloved, and wasted in the fire of remoteness. From the rule of love, his heart was empty of patience, and his body weary of his spirit; he reckoned life without her as a mockery, and time consumed him away. How many a day he found no rest in longing for her; how many a night the pain of her kept him from sleep; his body was worn to a sigh, his heart's wound had turned him to a cry of sorrow. He had given a thousand lives for one taste of the cup of her presence, but it availed him not. The doctors knew no cure for him, and companions avoided his company; yea, physicians have no medicine for one sick of love, unless the favor of the beloved one deliver him.

"At last, the tree of his longing yielded the fruit of despair, and the fire of his hope fell to ashes. Then one night he could live no more, and he went out of his house and made for the marketplace. On a sudden, a watchman followed after him. He broke into a run, with the watchman following; then other watchmen came together, and barred every passage to the weary one. And the wretched one cried from his heart, and ran here and there, and moaned to himself: 'Surely this watchman is Izra'il, my angel of death, following so fast upon me; or he is a tyrant of men, seeking to harm
me.' His feet carried him on, the one bleeding with the arrow of love, and his heart lamented. Then he came to a garden wall, and with untold pain he scaled it, for it proved very high; and forgetting his life, he threw himself down to the garden.

"And there he beheld his beloved with a lamp in her hand, searching for a ring she had lost. When the heart-surrendered lover looked on his ravishing love, he drew a great breath and raised up his hands in prayer, crying: 'O God! Give Thou glory to the
watchman, and riches and long life. For the watchman was Gabriel, guiding this poor one; or he was Israfil, bringing life to this wretched one!'

"Indeed, his words were true, for he had found many a secret justice in this seeming tyranny of the watchman, and seen how many a mercy lay hid behind the veil. Out of wrath, the guard had led him who was athirst in love's desert to the sea of his loved one, and lit up the dark night of absence with the light of reunion. He had driven one who was afar, into the garden of nearness, had guided an ailing soul to the heart's physician.

"Now if the lover could have looked ahead, he would have blessed the watchman at the start, and prayed on his behalf, and he would have seen that tyranny as justice; but since the end was veiled to him, he moaned and made his plaint in the beginning. Yet those who journey in the garden land of knowledge, because they see the end in the beginning, see peace in war and friendliness in anger."

Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 13

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Valley of Love

Yesterday's post was from the Mystical Writing, The Seven Valleys, by Bahá’u’lláh.

The next few days will see various excerpts from that Masterwork of Spiritual Vision.

Today's excerpt is a collection of the poetic lines from The Valley of Love:

"...Attar saith: "For the infidel, error -- for the faithful, faith; For Attar's heart, an atom of Thy pain."
[Faridu'd-Din Attar (ca. 1150-1230 A.D.), the great Persian Sufi poet.]

"A lover is he who is chill in hell fire;
A knower is he who is dry in the sea. "
[Persian mystic poem.]

"Love seizeth not upon a living soul,
The falcon preyeth not on a dead mouse. "
[Persian mystic poem.]

"Love's a stranger to earth and heaven too;
In him are lunacies seventy-and-two. "
[Jalalu'd-Din Rumi (1207-1273 A.D.); The Mathnavi. Jalalu'd- Din, called Mawlana ("our Master"), is the greatest of all Persian Sufi poets, and founder of the Mawlavi "whirling" dervish order.]

"Kindle the fire of love and burn away all things, Then set thy foot into the land of the lovers. "
[From an ode by Baha'u'llah]

Saturday, January 5, 2008

"...yearning would seize the reins of patience and reserve from out thy hand..."

Most of the posts here have been rather easy to understand, being what are called "ethical" writings. The language was as simple as spiritually possible because specific actions and behavior were being promoted.

Today's quote is an introduction to the Mystical Writing, The Seven Valleys.

I've read this excerpt countless times in the last 19 years; sometimes for meaning, sometimes just to immerse my soul in the beauty of the words...

"In the Name of God, the Clement, the Merciful.

"Praise be to God Who hath made being to come forth from nothingness; graven upon the tablet of man the secrets of preexistence; taught him from the mysteries of divine utterance that which he knew not; made him a Luminous Book unto those who believed and surrendered themselves; caused him to witness the creation of all things
(Kullu Shay') in this black and ruinous age, and to speak forth from the apex of eternity with a wondrous voice in the Excellent Temple [1]: to the end that every man may testify, in himself, by himself, in the station of the Manifestation of his Lord, that verily there is no God save Him, and that every man may thereby win his way to the summit of realities, until none shall contemplate anything whatsoever but that he shall see God therein.
[1 The Manifestation.]

"And I praise and glorify the first sea which hath branched from the ocean of the Divine Essence, and the first morn which hath glowed from the Horizon of Oneness, and the first sun which hath risen in the Heaven of Eternity, and the first fire which was lit from the Lamp of Preexistence in the lantern of singleness: He who was Ahmad in the kingdom of the exalted ones, and Muhammad amongst the concourse of the near ones, and Mahmud [1] in the realm of the sincere ones. ' whichsoever (name) ye will, invoke Him: He hath most excellent names' [2] in the hearts of those who know. And upon His household and companions be abundant and abiding and eternal peace!
[1 Muhammad, Ahmad and Mahmud are names and titles of the
Prophet, derived from the verb "to praise," "to exalt.]
[2 Qur'an 17:110.]

"Further, we have harkened to what the nightingale of knowledge sang on the boughs of the tree of thy being, and learned what the dove of certitude cried on the branches of the bower of thy heart. Methinks I verily inhaled the pure fragrances of the garment of thy love, and attained thy very meeting from perusing thy letter. And since I noted thy mention of thy death in God, and thy life through Him, and thy love for the beloved of God and the Manifestations of His Names and the Dawning-Points of His Attributes -- I therefore reveal unto thee sacred and resplendent tokens from the planes of glory, to attract thee into the court of holiness and nearness and beauty, and draw thee to a station wherein thou shalt see nothing in creation save the Face of thy Beloved One, the Honored, and behold all created things only as in the day wherein none hath a mention.

"Of this hath the nightingale of oneness sung in the garden of Ghawthiyyih.[1] He saith: 'And there shall appear upon the tablet of thine heart a writing of the subtle mysteries of "Fear God and God will give you knowledge"'; [2] and the bird of thy soul shall recall the holy sanctuaries of preexistence and soar on the wings of longing in the heaven of 'walk the beaten paths of thy Lord', [3] and gather the fruits of communion in the gardens of 'Then feed on every kind of fruit.'[3] [1 Sermon by Ali.]
[2 Qur'an 2:282.]
[3 Qur'an 16:71.]

"By My life, O friend, wert thou to taste of these fruits, from the green garden of these blossoms which grow in the lands of knowledge, beside the orient lights of the Essence in the mirrors of names and attributes -- yearning would seize the reins of patience and reserve from out thy hand, and make thy soul to shake with the flashing light, and draw thee from the earthly homeland to the first, heavenly abode in the Center of Realities, and lift thee to a plane wherein thou wouldst soar in the air even as thou walkest upon the earth, and move over the water as thou runnest on the land. Wherefore, may it rejoice Me, and thee, and whosoever mounteth into the heaven of knowledge, and whose heart is refreshed by this, that the wind of certitude hath blown over the garden of his being, from the Sheba of the All-Merciful.

"Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!"

Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 1

Friday, January 4, 2008

We Were Created To _________

Often, especially with spiritual writings, it's valuable to have a number of different translations or versions of a subject.

Since spirit exists "apart from" yet "surrounds" matter, words must be used in particular ways to state spiritual truths.

The quotes below are all talking about our Purpose for existing.

Read and compare the versions and enjoy the profitable task of seeing new connections between ideas !

"All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."

Bahá’u’lláh: Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Selection CIX, p. 215

"Ye were created to show love one to another and not perversity and rancour."

Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, "Lawh-i-Hikmat" or "Tablet of Wisdom", p. 138

"The essence of all that We have revealed for thee is Justice, is for man to free himself from idle fancy and imitation, discern with the eye of oneness His glorious handiwork, and look into all things with a searching eye."

Bahá’u’lláh: Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh, "Asl-i-Kullu’l-Khayr" or "Words of Wisdom", p. 157

"The fruits of the tree of man have ever been and are goodly deeds and a praiseworthy character. Withhold not these fruits from the heedless. If they be accepted, your end is attained, and the purpose of life achieved."

Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 26

"....Thou hast created Thy servants to aid Thy Cause and exalt Thy Word,...."

Bahá’u’lláh: Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 37

"The first, the fundamental purpose underlying creation hath ever been, and will continue to be, none other than the appearance of trustworthiness and godliness, of sincerity and goodwill amongst mankind, for these qualities are the cause of peace, security and tranquillity."

Bahá’u’lláh: from a Tablet translated from Persian, quoted in the compilation Trustworthiness: A Cardinal Bahá’í Virtue, Selection #7

Thursday, January 3, 2008

More Soul

Today's quotes concern the soul's development after it leaves the body.

Since disbelief in the Next Life can lead to the most miserable forms of earthly life, I feel very good about being able to offer this information . . .

"….movement is necessary to existence, which is either growing or declining. Now, as the spirit continues to exist after death, it necessarily progresses or declines; and in the other world to cease to progress is the same as to decline; but it never leaves its own condition, in which it continues to develop."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 63: "The Progress of Man in the Other World", p. 233

"The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good works which are performed in its name."

‘Abdu’l-Bahá: Some Answered Questions, Chapter 66: "The Existence of the Rational Soul after the Death of the Body", p. 240