Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?


Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5, 1912

New York: The last day . . . 
Mahmud writes: "A great number of believers from New York and other cities came to the S. S. Celtic to bid farewell to their beloved. The tears in their eyes bespoke of their great sorrow. The sobs and lamentations of both the young and the old could be heard from afar. Although the first class lounge was quite large, it could not contain the crowd of believers. Some were sitting and others standing outside the lounge. As He moved among the friends, the Master spoke to them with words of exhortation and admonition, consoling their hearts as He bade them farewell. He guided the sorrowing ones onto the path of everlasting happiness and reminding them of the glad tidings of the Abhá Kingdom until the time came for the friends to depart. He then spoke His parting words:
He is God! This is our last day and my last meeting with you. In a few minutes our steamer will leave these shores and this is my last exhortation to you. I have repeatedly spoken to you and invited you to realize the oneness of humanity. I have impressed upon you that all human beings are the servants of the same God and God is kind to all; He provides for all and gives life to all. In the presence of God all are His servants and His bounties are equally distributed among all. We must also be kind to the people of the world and forget all religious, racial, patriotic and political prejudices. The whole earth is one globe. All nations are one family. All are the servants of one God. Therefore he who causes grief to another's heart has sinned against the Lord. God desired the joy of all hearts. He wishes that every individual may pass his life in utmost happiness and felicity and should abandon religious, racial, patriotic and political prejudices. Praise be to God! Your eyes are illumined, your ears are opened and your hearts are informed. You must not entertain these prejudices and differences. You must look to the bounty of God. He is the real Shepherd who is kind to the whole flock. When God is kind to all, is it befitting that we, who are His servants, should engage in war and conflict with one another? No, by God! We must be grateful to God and the way to express gratitude for His bounty is to love each other, show amity and affection and evince friendship and kindness toward all.
In brief, beware, lest you offend any heart or engage in backbiting. You must be friends to all and regard all as your own kith and kin. Your supreme object must always be to bring pleasure to a heart, to give food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, honor to the degraded, help to the helpless and comfort to the distressed. This is the way to win the good pleasure of God. This is that which is conducive to eternal happiness. This is the light of the world of man. As I wish eternal honor for you, so I exhort you with these words.
Behold what is happening in the Balkans! Human blood is being spilt! How many children are rendered orphans! How ruthlessly properties are looted! What a fire is aflame! God has created them to love one another but they are shedding one another's blood. God created them to help and assist one another but they are engaged in plunder and destruction. Instead of being a cause of comfort to their kind, they persecute one another. Make your motives lofty and exert with heart and soul every effort; perchance, the light of universal peace may shine forth and this gloom of estrangement be dispelled. May all human beings become one family and every individual seek the welfare of all. May the East help the West and the West assist the East, for the whole earth is one country and all its people are under the favor and protection of one Shepherd.
Behold! What persecutions have the Prophets of God suffered so that human beings may love one another and cling to the cord of love and unity. These sanctified souls ever sacrificed themselves for this aim. But behold! How ignorant is man! In spite of all these sufferings, people are warring against one another. Notwithstanding all the exhortations, they are massacring one another. What ignorance! What heedlessness! What gloom! They have a God who deals kindly and equally with all yet they move and act against His good pleasure. He is benevolent and merciful to all but they are in utmost hatred and war. He gives life to all but they bring death. He brings prosperity to the countries but they destroy one another's households. How heedless they are! Your duties are different because you have been informed of the divine mysteries and your eyes and ears are opened. You are to deal kindly with all the people of the world. You have no excuse before God. You know that the pleasure of God lies in the welfare and prosperity of all. You have hearkened unto His words of advice, His exhortations and His teachings. You must love all, even your enemies. To those who show you ill-will show them your good-will. To those who oppose you be a faithful friend. You should act according to these teachings. Perchance, the abysmal gloom of war and bloodshed may vanish; the light of God may shine forth; the East may be enlightened; the West may be filled with fragrance; the North and the South may embrace each other; and the nations of the world may associate with one another in utmost love and amity! Unless the world reaches this station, it can find no rest, no enduring happiness.
But if men act according to these holy teachings, the world of dust shall reflect the lights of the Kingdom and the earth shall become the Abhá paradise, a garden of blissful joy. I hope that each one of you will be assisted to act according to these teachings so that, like a brilliant star, you may give light to humanity and like a spirit move the body of the contingent world. This is eternal glory! This is everlasting happiness! This is the image and likeness of God and unto this I call you! I pray God that you may attain it.
When the passengers and officers of the steamer heard this address and saw the devotion of the friends, they were overwhelmed and asked themselves, `What is it? Who is this personage in whose presence the Americans stand with such reverence and humility?' Young and old alike were like moths to a candle, circling about the light of the Covenant.
One by one the friends came to `Abdu'l-Bahá to shake His hand, to take hold of the mantle of His grace and favor and to supplicate His assistance and confirmation. Then, in great sorrow, they left the ship. They stood on the wharf, weeping and overcome by emotion, their heads bowed with grief and their hands lifted towards the heavens in prayer as they gazed their last at the Center of the Covenant. As the steamer moved out to sea, their grief and sadness and the fire of their devotion knew no bounds. The throng of believers, stretching as far as the eye could see, waved farewell to the Master, now far in the distance. And He said:
December 5, 1912
Observe how the power of the Cause of God has created a tumult in the hearts and what a revolution it has produced. See how the aid and assistance of the Abhá Beauty have reached us constantly and invariably the lights of victory have shone from the supreme horizon. These have been from the promised confirmations of the Kingdom of God and the assistance of the invisible sovereignty of the Abhá Beauty, which He has promised clearly in the verse, `Verily, We behold you from Our realm of Glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of Our favored angels.'
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That is all Mahmud writes. I feel as if I have been with a company of angels on this journey of light. 
And then there are Juliet's words, bringing all that Mahmud has recorded to a personal level for us: 
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Juliet writes:  "He asked me to come to the Emerys' (where He had been staying for a few days) the morning of 5 December, the day of His sailing; and I was there at eight o'clock.That last morning. I stood at the door of His room, gazing in, my eyes drinking their fill, if they ever could drink their fill, of the Divine Figure as He sat, or stood, or moved about the room.
       He called me in twice. The second time He took my hand. "Remember," He said, "I am with you always. Bahá'u'lláh will be with you always."
      Carrie Kinney was there that morning and Ned, and 'Alí Qulí Khán and Florence, Edna Ballora and her husband, Harriet Magee, Mrs Parsons, and Mrs Hannen. The Master had invited Mamma too, but she had not felt well enough to go.
      "Rest assured," He said when I told Him, "that she will be healed." And He filled my arms with fruit for her.
      We drove to the boat, then followed Him up to His cabin. Many believers were crowding the cabin. Later we all went upstairs and sat in a large room with Him. Very soon He rose, and, walking up and down, delivered to us His last spoken message.
      First He described heartbreakingly the war now raging in the Balkans. Then He said: "As to you: your efforts must be lofty. Exert yourselves with heart and soul that perchance through your efforts the light of Universal Peace may shine and this darkness of estrangement and enmity may be dispelled from amongst men ...
     "You have no excuse to bring before God if you fail to live according to His Command, for you are informed of that which constitutes the good-pleasure of God ...
     "It is My hope that you may become successful in this high calling, so that like brilliant lamps you may cast light upon the world of humanity and quicken and stir the body of existence like unto a spirit of life.
      "This is eternal glory. This is everlasting felicity. This is immortal life. This is heavenly attainment. This is being created in God's image and likeness. And unto this I call you, praying to God to strengthen and bless you."
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5 December 1912
Talk on Day of Departure
On Board Steamship Celtic, New York

Notes by Mariam Haney
This is my last meeting with you, for now I am on the ship ready to sail away. These are my final words Juliet writes of exhortation. I have repeatedly summoned you to the cause of the unity of the world of humanity, announcing that all mankind are the servants of the same God, that God is the creator of all; He is the Provider and Life-giver; all are equally beloved by Him and are His servants upon whom His mercy and compassion descend. Therefore, you must manifest the greatest kindness and love toward the nations of the world, setting aside fanaticism, abandoning religious, national and racial prejudice.
The earth is one native land, one home; and all mankind are the children of one Father. God has created them, and they are the recipients of His compassion. Therefore, if anyone offends another, he offends God. It is the wish of our heavenly Father that every heart should rejoice and be filled with happiness, that we should live together in felicity and joy. The obstacle to human happiness is racial or religious prejudice, the competitive struggle for existence and inhumanity toward each other.
Your eyes have been illumined, your ears are attentive, your hearts knowing. You must be free from prejudice and fanaticism, beholding no differences between the races and religions. You must look to God, for He is the real Shepherd, and all humanity are His sheep. He loves them and loves them equally. As this is true, should the sheep quarrel among themselves? They should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God, and the best way to thank God is to love one another.
Beware lest ye offend any heart, lest ye speak against anyone in his absence, lest ye estrange yourselves from the servants of God. You must consider all His servants as your own family and relations. Direct your whole effort toward the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food upon the hungry, clothe the needy, and glorify the humble. Be a helper to every helpless one, and manifest kindness to your fellow creatures in order that ye may attain the good pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumination of the world of humanity and eternal felicity for yourselves. I seek from God everlasting glory in your behalf; therefore, this is my prayer and exhortation.
Consider what is happening in the Balkans. Human blood is being shed, properties are destroyed, possessions pillaged, cities and villages devastated. A world-enkindling fire is astir in the Balkans. God has created men to love each other; but instead, they kill each other with cruelty and bloodshed. God has created them that they may cooperate and mingle in accord; but instead, they ravage, plunder and destroy in the carnage of battle. God has created them to be the cause of mutual felicity and peace; but instead, discord, lamentation and anguish rise from the hearts of the innocent and afflicted.
As to you: Your efforts must be lofty. Exert yourselves with heart and soul so that, perchance, through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine and this darkness of estrangement and enmity may be dispelled from amongst men, that all men may become as one family and consort together in love and kindness, that the East may assist the West and the West give help to the East, for all are the inhabitants of one planet, the people of one original native land and the flocks of one Shepherd.
Consider how the Prophets Who have been sent, the great souls who have appeared and the sages who have arisen in the world have exhorted mankind to unity and love. This has been the essence of their mission and teaching. This has been the goal of their guidance and message. The Prophets, saints, seers and philosophers have sacrificed their lives in order to establish these principles and teachings amongst men. Consider the heedlessness of the world, for notwithstanding the efforts and sufferings of the Prophets of God, the nations and peoples are still engaged in hostility and fighting. Notwithstanding the heavenly commandments to love one another, they are still shedding each other’s blood. How heedless and ignorant are the people of the world! How gross the darkness which envelops them! Although they are the children of a compassionate God, they continue to live and act in opposition to His will and good pleasure. God is loving and kind to all men, and yet they show the utmost enmity and hatred toward each other. God is the Giver of life to them, and yet they constantly seek to destroy life. God blesses and protects their homes; they rage, sack and destroy each other’s homes. Consider their ignorance and heedlessness!
Your duty is of another kind, for you are informed of the mysteries of God. Your eyes are illumined; your ears are quickened with hearing. You must, therefore, look toward each other and then toward mankind with the utmost love and kindness. You have no excuse to bring before God if you fail to live according to His command, for you are informed of that which constitutes the good pleasure of God. You have heard His commandments and precepts. You must, therefore, be kind to all men; you must even treat your enemies as your friends. You must consider your evil-wishers as your well-wishers. Those who are not agreeable toward you must be regarded as those who are congenial and pleasant so that, perchance, this darkness of disagreement and conflict may disappear from amongst men and the light of the divine may shine forth, so that the Orient may be illumined and the Occident filled with fragrance, nay, so that the East and West may embrace each other in love and deal with one another in sympathy and affection. Until man reaches this high station, the world of humanity shall not find rest, and eternal felicity shall not be attained. But if man lives up to these divine commandments, this world of earth shall be transformed into the world of heaven, and this material sphere shall be converted into a paradise of glory. It is my hope that you may become successful in this high calling so that like brilliant lamps you may cast light upon the world of humanity and quicken and stir the body of existence like unto a spirit of life. This is eternal glory. This is everlasting felicity. This is immortal life. This is heavenly attainment. This is being created in the image and likeness of God. And unto this I call you, praying to God to strengthen and bless you.

December 4, 1912

New York: the day before farewell; the spiritual body; the journey of dreams; the Masters' words of wisdom and closure; breathing the same air
Mahmud writes: "Among the new seekers who met the Master today was a rabbi to whom the Master spoke extensively about the Torah, saying:
The verse `God created heaven and earth in six days' has reference to the Day of God and the spiritual creation, for there was no day or night before the creation of this heaven and earth. And the meaning of `the water' in the verse of the Torah `The spirit of God moved upon the face of the water like a bird' is the water of knowledge which is the source of heavenly life. It is written that God said, `Let us make man in our image'; this means in the image of divine names and attributes, for God is holy above all physical images and is pure and sanctified above all forms or likenesses.
Elucidating further the nature of biblical language and the mysteries of the holy books, He explained the signs and prophecies regarding the promised Manifestation. The rabbi was impressed and acknowledged the Master's insight.
With the Kinney family
Later some prominent people, including professors, came to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá. They told him about Professor Colombo who had written an article about the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár near Chicago in which he referred to the contributions of the Eastern Bahá'ís towards its construction as one of the indications of the greatness of the Cause. The Master spoke with them about the dogmas and blind imitations of the priests and the superstitions of the religious leaders.
At the Kinney's home in the afternoon, a number of Mr Kinney's students met the Master. Some came during the meeting and others after it. The Master spoke to them about understanding the holy Book:
The object of reading and reciting is to understand the inner significance of the verses and mysteries of the Book. Had reading sufficed, all the Jewish people should have acknowledged Christ but as they lacked understanding of the mysteries and the inner meanings, they were deprived of the bounty of believing in Him. They interpreted the book in a literal or outward manner and did not find the appearance of Christ to conform to their traditions, imitations and the prevailing customs of their people, so they denied and rejected Him. Hence, they remained heedless and ignorant of divine realities and mysteries.
This evening there was a large gathering at the Theosophical Society of New York. The subject of the Master's address was `The Eternity of God's Kingdom': material existence, the betterment of the world through the divine favors, the guidance provided by the Manifestations of God and their reflection upon the world of creation. `This is the law of God, and thou shalt not find any change in it.' This is a translation of the Master's address:
He is God! Those who are uninformed of the world of reality, and do not study created things, cannot investigate and discover hidden truths. They only have a superficial idea of things, are embodiments of ignorance and blind imitators. They believe that which they have heard from their fathers and do not have any knowledge or understanding of their own and are bereft of hearing and insight. They rely on traditions and tales and follow the path of their ancestors. They imagine that God's dominion is accidental, that this world has existed for but six thousand or eight thousand years and that before that time God had neither creation nor sovereignty.
Should this notion be accepted, then, the Lord forbid, the Divine Reality is to be regarded as accidental, not eternal, whereas as long as there was God, He must have had a creation; as long as there was light, there must have been recipients of that light, because light cannot become manifest without illumining its recipients. So likewise without a creation, the existence of the Creator cannot be proven.
The Divine Reality presupposes a creation, the All-Provider presupposes a recipient of His bounty. To imagine a God without His creatures is like imagining a king without a country and a people. A king must have a kingdom. Could there be a king without a country and subjects? It is an impossibility. If there had been a time when there were no country and no army, how could we say there was a king at that time? Thus he must have had his people. Thus, as the Divine Eternity is infinite, His creation is also without beginning and without end. From everlasting God was the Creator, the All-Provider, the Quickener and the Bestower. There was no time when His attributes did not express themselves. Cessation is wholly inconceivable. The sun is the sun because of its light and heat. If we conceive the cessation of heat and light, we predicate the non-existence of the sun. If it had no light and no heat, it was not the sun. Likewise, when we say that at one time God had no creation and no recipient of His grace, we assert that there was no Creator. This is denying the eternity of the Divine Entity and regarding Him as an accidental being. It is obvious that this endless universe, this mighty handiwork of God, this vast firmament, these gigantic globes are not merely six or seven thousand years old. They are ancient. The reference in the Torah to six thousand years has an inner meaning and should not be taken literally. It is stated that God created the heavens and the earth in six days. If before such a creation there was no sun, no east and no west, how was it possible to determine the length of each day without the existence of a sun? Thus the statement has a different meaning.
The sovereignty of God is eternal and not accidental. His creation, His Kingdom, His Army are coexistent and will continue as such. The bestowals and bounties of God are constant and are uninterrupted. Like the light and heat of the sun, they have no cessation. The holy Manifestations of God, Who are the dawning places of divine bounties, have ever been and shall ever be. The wisdom and purpose of their appearance is to cause the image and likeness of God to appear in the world of man.
The reality of man possesses two aspects: one being the image and likeness of God and the other is the material and satanic aspect. Besides the physical body, man has a reality which is called the spiritual body, or the heavenly creation or form. When man says, `I saw', who is it that says `I saw'? Clearly it is something besides the physical body. When one thinks, it is like consulting with oneself. It is clear that there is a second entity which is being consulted. It is not the physical body that advises man `to do' or `not to do' a thing and informs him whether it is profitable or harmful.
Frequently a person firmly decides on a course of action, but later, upon some reflection, changes his mind. The reason is that he has consulted a reality, has become aware of the harm involved and has changed his former decision.
In addition to this, man journeys in the world of dreams. Though the body is here, the soul wanders in the East and West of the world. Who is it that makes these journeys? It is the second entity. Although a man has died and his body is under the earth, one's soul can, in a dream, ask him questions and receive answers. What is it that is talked to? It is the second reality. Hence, it is clear that besides the physical body man possesses another reality. Though the body grows weak, becomes fat or defective, still that reality remains unaltered. In sleep the body of man appears dead but that reality moves, understands, talks and discovers. This reality is the spiritual form and the heavenly temple, not the physical body. It reveals hidden realities, comprehends things, discovers arts and sciences, subdues electricity and other forces and communicates simultaneously with the East and the West. Plainly it is not the body. If it had been the body, similar powers and perfections should have existed in animals, for they share our physical powers. Hence, it is the second reality that reveals hidden realities, permeates the universe, becomes informed of mysteries, leads to the Kingdom and is a guide to the people of the world. It is this reality that distinguishes man from the animal. But this reality is in a state between the divine world and that of the animal. If spiritual forces prevail, this human reality becomes the noblest of all creatures and the possessor of the image and likeness of God; but if the animal aspect predominates, man becomes lower than animals because in man, animal desires and passions are even stronger and more harmful. For instance, anger, lust, struggle for existence, war, contention, fraud, deception, greed and avarice are among the imperfections of man but the necessary qualities in animals. A crafty man without spiritual education is as the fox. In the animal we find covetousness, aggression and passion. These qualities are also in man. Since the reality of man is comprehensive, his expression of these animal qualities is more vehement. They are among the exigencies of the world of nature and lead to the gloom of imperfections. They are the cause of utter degradation and misfortune.
On the other hand, man is the repository of divine perfections and heavenly favors that bring him eternal happiness and everlasting honor. Such perfections as justice, fidelity, truthfulness, purity, wisdom, piety, mercy, bounty, love, amity, nobility and sagacity enable man to comprehend the realities of things and unfold hidden mysteries. Human reality is therefore between light and darkness and has a threefold nature: the heavenly, the human and the physical. The physical condition is darkness upon darkness and the source of trouble, disgrace, discord, bloodshed and war. The heavenly condition, however, which is the zenith of the human aspect of man's nature, is light upon light and the means of acquiring everlasting prosperity, peace and tranquillity, honor and glory.
The holy divine Manifestations have appeared to make it easy to replace the gloom of animality with the lights of heavenly qualities and to change the imperfections of the world of nature to the perfections of the spirit so that the heavenly aspect may prevail, the image and likeness of God may appear in the world of man and the divine illumination and spiritual virtues may become manifest. These holy dawning places are the Educators of the world of existence and the Teachers of man. They deliver human beings from the darkness of error and heedlessness and the defects and vices of nature and lead them to the realm of spiritual virtues and heavenly perfections. Those who are ignorant become wise, those who are like animals attain human perfections, the rapacious become angelic, the tyrannical and proud become just and humble, so that earthly man becomes heavenly, the human is changed into the divine, the suckling child attains its maturity and the poor and abased attain wealth and glory. If the holy Manifestations had not appeared, all humanity would have remained in a state of animality, if not worse. If the children are not educated and are not trained in schools, they will remain ignorant. If plains and hills are left to their natural state, they will turn into jungles and forests which will not bear sweet and luscious fruit, but when the gardener takes control, flowers bloom, fruits appear and prosperity sheds its blessings. Creation is a dreary forest full of thorns under the yoke of nature and the holy Manifestations are the divine gardeners and the supreme educators of the world of man who come to promote the progress of the world of existence in order that the trees of beings may continue to be verdant, may burst into fresh foliage, may yield good fruits and may adorn the gardens of the human realities. This divine bestowal of this heavenly education is continuous.
It is impossible that this great bounty should cease, that this divine bestowal should end and that the Sun of Reality should sink forever into a setting not followed by a sunrise, a death not followed by a revival. How can the Sun of Reality, shining from the divine world, remain set forever and be precluded from educating the world of existence? No, by God! The function of the sun is to give illumination. How can it set forever and its effulgence brought to an end? Its bounty is eternal, its luster is ever manifest, its rays are perpetually radiant, its breezes are continually wafting and its bestowals are ever apparent. We must be expectant and hopeful, turning our gaze in the direction of His bountiful Kingdom that through the appearance of these holy Manifestations humanity may attain the blessings of the All-Glorious, that the earth be changed and the contingent world may become a garden and a paradise of delight. But the appearance of the divine Manifestation must take place in the most perfect form and invested with unparalleled powers and virtues. With a divine influence and heavenly mighty He must be exalted above all else and peerless in all His attributes, just as the sun is exalted above other stars. Though every star and planet shines in its place and gives light in the night, the sun has another splendor and its radiance is greater. The Manifestation of the bounty of God must also be like the physical sun so that the world may be convinced that He is a divine Teacher, an Educator of the world of man, a sun of reality and the brightest Light shining from the realm on high. His effulgence and influence must be inherent and not acquired from other human beings, otherwise we would say that others imparted such powers to Him. How can a man, who is educated by other human beings, become the educator of humanity at large? The Manifestations of the bounty of God must be self-subsistent, not under the shadow of others. He must be an educator, not educated by others. He must be perfect, not deficient. He must be independent of all, not dependent on training by others. He must combine in Himself all perfections, unrestricted by human limitations, so that He may be able to educate humanity, dispel the gloom of ignorance, through divine power change the world, bring about universal peace, establish the oneness of humanity and unite the diverse religions. I hope that the divine bounties and blessings may shine brightly so that the lights of the Sun of Reality may give luster to our eyes, illumination to our hearts and joy to our souls and may ennoble our thoughts and grant us eternal life. Then we may attain to the apex of the world of man.
On Riverside Drive, NY
For nine months I have been touring America, calling the people to the oneness of humanity. I have delivered addresses in churches and large assemblies in many cities, inviting the people to the oneness of mankind and to love and unity. The people of America extended a cordial welcome to me. In fact, Americans are a noble nation, with capacity to acquire every virtue and investigate every truth.
Since I shall leave your shores tomorrow, I bid you farewell. I pray that divine confirmations, heavenly glory and eternal life may be granted to you, so that you may reach the highest pinnacles of the world of man. I am most grateful to you and shall never forget you. I shall ever supplicate at the court of the Almighty and beg divine assistance and heavenly bounty for you.
The Master's talk enthused the audience and one by one they came to Him to express their sincere thanks and admiration. When they were told of His imminent departure, they became downcast. It was astonishing to witness the deep sorrow of the friends and the lamentation of their hearts as they contemplated their separation from Him."
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Juliet has her own tale of today's events:

"At last came the day before He sailed.
"May I stay in some corner of this house all day," I asked, "that I may breathe the same air with You this last day?"
"What does your mother say about it?"--laughing.
"She said I might."
"Very well."
In the afternoon He called me. He kept me in the room a long, long time, seeing many others while I sat there. When He had dismissed them all, He came close to me and took my hand.
"There is a matter," He said, "about which I want to speak to you. The photographs of the portrait you painted of Me, you have offered them for the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár. I know your circumstances, Juliet. You have not complained to Me, you have said nothing, but I know them. I know your affairs are in confusion, that you have debts, that you have that house, that you have to take care of your mother. Now I want you to keep the money" (for the photographs) "for yourself. No, no; do not feel unhappy," (as I began to cry) "this is best. You must do exactly as I say. I will speak about this Myself to the believers. I will tell them," He laughed, "that is it My command."
I thanked Him brokenly.
I can see Him now, pacing up and down the room in front of the line of Persians, who stood with bowed heads and folded arms in the Glory of His Presence, deeply aware of its Divineness.
Then Valíyu'lláh spoke: "Juliet wants to know if You are pleased with her, or not?"
(I had spoken out my troubled heart to dear Valíyu'lláh.)
"I am very much pleased with the love of Juliet," answered the Master.
My Lord, I pray that my life may please You."
"Inshá'lláh." And that was all!
"And that my services may become acceptable to You. I know I have not begun to serve You yet."
The Master said nothing.
But that night He healed my broken heart, healed it by a tone in His voice as He spoke to my mother, which was the essence of God's tenderness, a tone unimaginable to those who have only heard the human voice.
As Mamma approached Him to bid Him goodbye, He said: "Ah, the mother of Juliet; the mother of Julie!" (Mamma's pet name for me.)
"I can't bear to say goodbye," said Mamma.
"Inshá'lláh, I shall meet you in 'Akká, Mrs Thompson, and there I shall greet you with 'Welcome! Welcome!'"
This was on the night of 4 December."
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Juliet was so gifted with perception--of the physical and the spiritual. I love the idea of "breathing the same air"--and seeing those Persians deeply aware of the Master's divinity.

How can we thank HIM for this journey?  How can we continue to breathe the same air?

I am steeped in His presence, from 99 years away, and weeping at the physical farewell that will come tomorrow--99 years ago.  It is just too mysterious--this interweaving of past and present, East and West.

I must pray for that ability--to communicate simultaneously with the East and the West, metaphorically and actually, and to discover new arts--or at least arise to do the best I can!

Oh, Juliet, you were close to Him--help me!

May we all connect to our higher selves through our association with 'Abdu'l-Bahá!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3, 1912


New York: sad farewells; clear and inspiring admonitions; hearts aflame
Mahmud writes: "Group after group of older and newer believers sadly and tearfully came to see the Master, encircling Him and weeping at His imminent departure. Their hearts were sad and overcome with anguish. They confessed to Him their negligence and shortcomings in serving the Cause and their failure to obey His instructions and begged His assistance and blessings, confirmations and favor.
Today the believers were so overcome by emotion that even a stone would be affected. The anguish of their hearts was so great that all were affected. Indeed, in His presence they bowed and knelt so deeply that one could not distinguish between their heads and their feet.
There were two large meetings this afternoon and evening. One was at the home of Mrs Krug, which was filled with many people who had come just to be in `Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. The Master's talk was this:
He is God! Praise be to God that Mrs Krug has been the cause of your gathering in this meeting where you are engaged in mentioning God and in adducing proofs. I hope that day by day you will become more attracted, become more enlightened and make extraordinary spiritual progress. You should learn from one another so that you may know how to teach the Cause and guide the souls. Your hearts must be so attracted that when a question is heard you will be able to give a conclusive answer and the Holy Spirit may speak through your tongue. You must be assured and confident that the favors and confirmations of the Blessed Beauty will make a drop into an ocean, a seed into a fruitful tree, an atom into a luminous sun and a stone into a brilliant jewel. His favors are great, His treasuries inexhaustible and His bounties infinite. God, Who has bestowed favors upon others, shall surely bestow His favors upon you. I supplicate at the Court of the Almighty and beg that mighty confirmations may surround you, that from your tongues may flow irrefutable proofs and that your hearts become recipients for the splendors of the Sun of Reality. May your thoughts expand and your stations be exalted, so that you may be able to diffuse the fragrances of God and to make prodigious progress in the world of man. Unless a man acquires perfection for himself, he cannot teach others how to attain such perfection; and unless he gets life for himself, he cannot give life to others. We must therefore try first to acquire the bounties of the Kingdom for ourselves and attain life everlasting, and then endeavor to quicken the nations and give life to the world. Thus, we must constantly pray to His Holy Court and seek His eternal bounties. We must acquire pure hearts like unto mirrors, so that the lights of the Sun of Reality may shine. Every night and day we must supplicate to Him and beg for His assistance, saying: `O Lord, we are weak, make us strong; we are ignorant, make us wise. O Lord, we are poor, give us the wealth of the Kingdom. O God, we are dead, bestow upon us everlasting life; we are in utter lowliness, exalt us in Thy Kingdom. Should Thy heavenly confirmations surround us, each one of us can be a luminous star, otherwise we become lower than dust. O God, help us; make us victorious; assist us to overcome self and desire; and deliver us from the world of nature. O God! Quicken us through the breaths of the Holy Spirit so that we may arise to serve Thee, engage ourselves in worshipping Thee and broadcast the signs of Thy Kingdom with utmost truthfulness and sincerity. Thou art the Powerful, the Mighty, the Generous and the Compassionate.
From this meeting the Master went to Mrs Kinney's home. The rush of friends and seekers was greater than ever before and all hearts were aflame. The Master exhorted them to exert their utmost to propagate the divine principles and to diffuse the fragrances of God. He explained the new teachings and the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. After the meeting, the believers gathered around Him. He bade farewell to each, bestowed His favor upon all and then went upstairs."
_________


It is cold, dark, and rainy here--and the weather seems to go along with the grief experienced by the believers on this day in 1912.  If this were a film (and we hope to make a befitting film!) this would be the part with the rain falling and the swelling of melancholy music--but also an inspiring, purifying music, rousing the viewer to arise to ever more noble heights, remembering the Master.

I can't believe we are here, two days before the final departure.  Since April I have been on this journey every day--and far from letting it go on December 5, I must commit to deeper levels of it!  A helpful thing is that I am one of three teachers for the Wilmette Institute leading a course on 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which just started!  What timing! Rob Stockman, with his forthcoming book on 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America, and Duane Troxel, with his tireless dedication to scanning photos and other resources, which will soon be available, are the other two faculty members. It's amazing how steeped we are in this journey, and now bonded with 40 others who will be studying the life of 'Abdu'l-Bahá.

Not to mention all of the amazing events that are being planning for 2012!  So, I will try not to grieve too much for the end of this blog--or rather, for the end of the Master's time in America. If only, though, we could be personally present to gaze into the Master's eyes for a personal farewell. . . . It will have to happen within the heart.



Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2, 1912


New York
Mahmud writes: "After the Master had finished His morning prayers, the friends began to come to visit Him such that by midday the Master's residence was filled with people. He went downstairs and spoke to them:
I have stayed a long time with you in New York. My stay in other towns has not been a tenth as long. I have met with you day and night, individually and collectively; conveyed to you the admonitions of Bahá'u'lláh; delivered to you the heavenly glad tidings; and explained the means of human progress. I have elucidated the harmful effects of prejudices and imitations and the impurity of selfish desires, expounded the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and clarified the meanings of the divine proofs and questions.
The time for my departure is near and I am making arrangements for the voyage. Therefore I shall not be able to attend every meeting, so I shall bid you farewell. I am pleased with you and grateful for your services. Truly, you have shown great kindness and extended to me the utmost hospitality. I supplicate to the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh to shower upon you His assistance and confirmations so that day by day you may be more assisted to defend the rights of Bahá'u'lláh, that your hearts may become more enlightened,your morals heavenly, your souls transported with joy and your conduct proof of your faith and certitude. May you be in the utmost sanctity, be completely attracted and turned to the Abhá Kingdom and become like brilliant lights. May you become evident signs of the Blessed Beauty and proofs of the reality of Bahá'u'lláh so that you may illuminate the world. And when people look at your deeds and conduct they will see the traces of holiness and severance and will behold heavenly brightness in you and all will testify that `these people are truly proofs of the reality of Bahá'u'lláh', and that `Bahá'u'lláh is undoubtedly the Sun of Truth who has educated these people through His power'. May they see divine lights in your behavior, find the signs of the love of God, observe praiseworthy conduct in you and seek the virtues of the world of man within you. You must each become the proclaimer of truth and shine from the horizon of the world of humanity like brilliant stars. This is what is meant by defending the rights of Bahá'u'lláh; this is the purpose of the Blessed Beauty in suffering afflictions and accepting confinement in the Most Great Prison. He bore all afflictions and difficulties and ascended to the Kingdom of God a prisoner so that we would act according to His teachings and arise and carry out that which is consistent with faithfulness; that we may act upon His exhortation and raise the call of the Abhá Kingdom and proclaim the light of the bounties of truth, so that the waves of the Most Great Ocean may surge high, this world may become the mirror of the world above, this bed of thorns may turn into a flower garden and this region of dust may reflect the All-Glorious Paradise.
In the afternoon He said:
We have sown some seeds and hope that the sun of favor will shine upon them, the rain of mercy will pour down, and the breezes of generosity will waft over them, because America has receptivity.
In the evening, He spoke to a gathering of the friends and said: I supplicate and implore that the clouds of mercy may shower upon you and the Sun of Truth may shine upon you so that you may attain to the purpose of the holy Manifestations of God. This is my supplication because you are the beloved ones of the Blessed Beauty and the servants of the Greatest Name. I undertook this voyage in order to see you and, God willing, you will come to the Holy Land and we shall meet there in that land which was trodden by the sacred feet of the Prophets of God."


_________


What a mandate!  I will have to think more about this guidance and write more later! 



December 1, 1912


New York: Universal peace; sacrifice; what is inevitable . . . 
Mahmud writes: "Some of the friends came to see `Abdu'l-Bahá very early in the morning. They saw Him at prayer and heard from His lips the prayers and verses of the Supreme Pen.
At the Master's residence, streams of visitors were honored to attain His presence and grateful for His blessings and favors. Aflame with the love of God, they showed reverence towards His Cause.
The Master's talk concerned the capacity of the Americans to bring about universal peace. He said:
As Americans are removed from most political difficulties they live at ease in isolation and, compared to most other regions, are more desirous of peace and harmony, so they can succeed in bringing about universal peace provided they arise as they should and the nation and government put forth strenuous efforts and, through spiritual power, carry out the divine teachings and principles. The matter of peace, in the religion of Bahá'u'lláh, is a firm command and a religious obligation. It is not the resolution of a congress or the edict of a committee of some nation or country influenced by selfish desires and subject to amendments. Because it is a fundamental principle, it will inevitably come to pass. As the denial of Christ and opposition to Him are considered infidelity in religious terminology, the rejection of peace has the same status in the religion of Bahá'u'lláh.
No affair in the world succeeds without sacrifice. Up to now twenty thousand persons have been sacrificed for this Cause. The Bahá'ís have accepted every affliction and persecution. For forty years I was in a prison for promulgating universal peace and the oneness of humanity. Because these teachings were contrary to the interests and the despotism of the Sháh of Persia and the Sultán of Turkey, they arose in opposition and oppression. With all their power they girded their loins to uproot and efface the Cause of God. But the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh was victorious and the fame of His Revelation spread worldwide. Every opponent was overthrown and humiliated because this Cause was supported by the All-Powerful and because His teachings answer the need of the age to promote human happiness and provide supreme guidance.
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to a group of Christian ministers, saying:
The teachings of Christ are forgotten. Consider that Christ commanded Peter to sheathe his sword. He also said, `Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also' [Matt. 5:39]. But now, contrary to these teachings, see how Christians are killing one another. Christian leaders considered the shedding of the blood of each other a lawful act. What blood has been shed over the conflict between Protestants and Catholics!
This evening the Master spoke at a public meeting at Mrs Kinney's home about superstitions, dogmas and the blind imitation of the various religions, concluding with an explanation of the teachings of the Abhá Beauty. As supper was served, and as He had at other times, the Master invited some of the friends to His table to enjoy the Persian dishes. They were overjoyed to see their Master's smile and to hear His stories."
___________
The end of the journey is so near--and it is poignant to think about the last few encounters. Don't you wish you could observe the Master in His prayers?  Hear His stories directly? 

Interesting what He says about peace, relating it to our individual behavior and not something legislated. So, we need to work on this--finding resolution in all matters. . . . 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November 29, 1912


New York: Attainment of peace and joy; the most acceptable gift
Mahmud writes: "At the request of Mrs Emery, the Master moved to her home. The time of His departure was drawing near. On reaching the house, He said, `Today I must rest for I am extremely tired.' Nevertheless, the friends and seekers continued to come to visit Him at the homes of Mrs Emery and Mrs Kinney. One of His discourses today was this:
One of the bounties of religion and faith is the attainment of peace of the heart and soul and the joy of spirit and conscience. This station can only be gained through faith and understanding. Peace of mind is the soul's delight, as it is the means of acquiring that extraordinary state in which man finds happiness in times of affliction and tranquillity in trouble. In spite of poverty he acquires a sense of affluence and in a state of riches and power he offers help and protection to the weak because the well-assured soul is like a tree which has strong roots and is not shaken by any event. This cannot be attained except through complete faith and understanding. How many are the people who have all means of comfort, luxury, security and wealth and every means of enjoyment and good living, yet they have no peace of mind and are ever anxious and uneasy! If outwardly they are happy one day, they become depressed and anxious the next. If they find physical rest at one moment, they face suffering and misfortune the next, until the time comes to leave this world, then they will do so with utmost regret and distress.
But those who have faith in God act according to the divine teachings; even though they need a little food to survive, they will pass their lives in the utmost happiness and joy. This is one of the bounties of religion; this is eternal happiness, life everlasting and real affluence. Without this all riches lead to woe and all power and strength are the cause of hardship and affliction. Therefore, offer praise unto God that you are endowed with this imperishable wealth and have attained this supreme blessing.
Today some of the friends offered money to the Master but He would not accept it despite their pleading. Instead He told them, `Distribute it among the poor on my behalf. It will be as though I have given it to them. But the most acceptable gift to me is the unity of the believers, service to the Cause of God, diffusion of the divine fragrances and adherence to the counsels of the Abhá Beauty.'
The believers were saddened because He did not accept their gifts. However, since these were the last days of His visit and He was about to leave, the New York Bahá'ís collected several gifts for the women of the holy household and for the Greatest Holy Leaf."
_________

I wonder who Mrs. Emery is. So much to learn about the cast of characters in 1912!  

Aa far as experiencing the bounties, for any of us this probably waxes and wanes. And who among us continuously gives the "gift" of unity, service, diffusion of the divine fragrances, adherence?  How much we need to change our orientation to realize the profundity of this kind of "gift-giving." Well, this journey can only help us. 



November 28, 1912

New York: from dawn to nightfall, streams of visitors; joy to the sad, hope to the hopeless . . . 
Mahmud writes: "Several friends came at dawn to the Master's residence, begging admission into His presence and saying that watching Him at prayer would be its own spiritual lesson. We were astounded to see how eager they were, proof that the power of the Word of God has dispelled old habits and opened the gates of bounty such that at so an early hour these souls had taken leave of their comfortable beds and sought refuge at the majestic gate of the Center of the Covenant.
These were the last few remaining days of the Master's sojourn in America as He planned to leave for England soon. At dawn and in the evening a stream of believers and prominent people, in a spiritual and prayerful attitude, came into His presence. They came to offer supplications, to turn to the Eternal Face, to look upon the Dawning Place of the Divine Covenant and to cling to the mantle of His grace and favor. At every moment the cries and ardor of His lovers increased and the fire of love in their breasts glowed more fiercely. There was not a moment's rest day or night for the Master. He was either delivering addresses at various public and private gatherings or talking to a friend in His private room. He gave joy to every sad one, hope to the hopeless and was a flame of fire to the heedless while guiding those who strive onto the right path.
Today the Master's public address concerned the spiritual capacity of the Americans. He said:
Although they are engrossed in material civilization and physical pursuits, still, unlike people in some European countries, they are not wholly devoid of spiritual susceptibilities. They are seekers and desire to investigate reality. They wish for peace and tranquillity and they desire fellowship and love among humanity.
In the evening He expressed His happiness at the spirituality and services of the friends in their efforts to diffuse the fragrances of God."
__________

Would you have sought Him at dawn, day-time, or evening? Or all three?  It's good to know that "we" are not devoid of spiritual susceptibilities, that we desire to investigate reality.  Yet we need to attract seekers, to cull those qualities out in others--as He did!

"Last remaining days"--the departure is in sight. No wonder the ardor is increasing. I'm trying to get a picture of the various scenes that surrounded Him, at all hours. Wave upon wave of visitors, and He giving to all. Wish we had more accounts of those who visited and received hope, joy, and guidance!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

November 27, 1912


New York: spiritual and material civilizations becoming entwined; the well-being of the world; beaming souls
Mahmud writes: "In the morning the Master gave several talks to the Bahá'ís, one of which was the following:
The purpose of the divine Manifestations has been the education of holy souls. Some have imagined that their purpose was to found temples and churches or to establish a new nation or to gain personal fame and that for these considerations they accepted severe degradation and became targets for the arrow of fate. These are idle fancies because those holy Beings knew well that the dominion of God existed when there was no trace of them and that it shall continue to exist when no trace of them remains. Thus fame or oblivion, honor or degradation are one and the same to those Gems of existence. Indeed, their ultimate desire is selfless devotion to the one true God and absolute nothingness in His court. Their only motive has been the education of blessed souls and sanctified beings who are the foundation of divine education and promoters of the most great guidance and the supreme favor.
The people of Bahá must endeavor day and night to promulgate this lofty purpose. They must endeavor and strive strenuously to educate themselves and other sanctified souls. They must awaken the peoples and nations of the world and free them from dogmas and imitations. They must pass beyond the world of names and fix their gaze on realities and inner meanings.
At the end of the meeting some friends gave Him written petitions asking for spiritual assistance. He said, `We have received so many letters that there is no time to read them; how, then, is it possible to answer them?'
In the afternoon again the friends and seekers arrived in groups. The Master's talk mainly concerned the need for both a spiritual and a material civilization. `The coming of age and maturity of man', He said, `will appear when these two civilizations become entwined.'
The Master spoke to a leader of the socialists on economic issues, the brotherhood of humanity and the Bahá'í teachings. The man was overwhelmed to hear such solutions to questions upon which the well-being of the world depend.
The Master spoke to a group of women about education, training, virtues and the rights of women. In brief, every day and night, to a greater and greater extent, the faces shone with the fire of the love of God and the souls beamed with the radiance of the beauty of the Beloved."


____________
That sounds like a good title for a book:  The Entwining of Spiritual and Material Civilization or, When Material and Spiritual Civilization become Entwined.  We live it, somewhat, this entwining--choosing the way the spirit in the midst of a keenly developed material civilization. Yet when the balance shifts, when there is a universal coalition, surely things will be very different!  I wonder what all the Master could see as far as how things would be different? 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November 26, 1912


New York: Real love, beyond outward love; firmness; incessant bounty; divine gardener
Mahmud writes: "In the morning, after revealing Tablets and granting interviews, the Master joined the gathering of the friends with these words:
I always derive great pleasure from being with you. I shall always remember these gatherings. I shall never forget them. If I cannot see each one of you individually every day that should not undermine our real love. See how much work I have to do! It is more than a week since I received this letter from my sister, the Greatest Holy Leaf [Bahíyyih Khánum], and other members of the household, but I have not had the opportunity to open it yet. I was looking for another letter when I came upon this unopened letter. Then I heard that you were waiting here and I came downstairs to see you because I have no time to see you individually. In spite of this, if anyone has an urgent matter I will see them privately, even if only for a few minutes. Had I time I would always be with you. My happiness lies in seeing you, for in your faces are apparent the glad tidings of the Abhá Kingdom and in your hearts heavenly love and attraction. If outwardly we fail to meet, it does not weaken our real love. God willing, you shall all be assisted and immersed in the sea of bounty and the favor of Bahá'u'lláh.
In the afternoon at a meeting of the friends, the Master turned towards Mrs Krug and said:
A believer in Bahá'u'lláh is he who is firm in the Covenant. He who is firm in the divine Covenant is a believer, a servant of the believers, a seeker of Bahá'í harmony and unity and a promoter of fellowship and amity among the friends of God. Is it possible that one can accept a book and refuse to accept him who teaches it? Is it possible to accept the sun and to reject its rays? He who rejects the rays is a rejector of the sun, too.
Furthermore, many say, `We have no need of divine Manifestations; we ourselves have direct communication with God.' They do not know that the divine Manifestations are the bright rays of the Sun of Truth and a means of educating the realities of man. Therefore, he who rejects the bounty of the Sun of Truth and thinks himself not in need of it is like the one who says he is not in need of God and rejects both God and reality, in spite of the fact that all creation is receiving incessant bounty from God and is dependent on Him, as the body is dependent upon the soul.
In the evening the Master spoke to the gathering on man's ability to understand the reality of certain things using his intelligence because man's intelligence is the discoverer of reality. For instance, through the process of reasoning, intelligence can comprehend the existence of God and understand that this magnificent universe cannot exist without a Creator. These works are not without a Maker and this garden of creation cannot exist without a Gardener."


________

Nine days left. They must have all felt the impending pangs of separation--and there He was consoling them.  We who are envious of those who actually met Him can surely rejoice in the "real love" that is always there! 

Universally, it seems, when people know about 'Abdu'l-Bahá they have a resonation with Him.  Our Prophet figures are so sublime, but the Master seems so tangible. He is still there for us if we need a personal interview--to console, to advice, to inspire.  So perhaps a question is how can we let His love show through us a little more? The world can only be bettered!

A prayer:
'Abdu'l-Bahá, grant us personal meetings with You; give us a clearer understanding of the grandeur of the Covenant; let Your love illumine our hearts and shine out to others. . . . 

May all those who hosted You, who served You, who met You, continue to enjoy the real love of which You speak. May we be connected to this everlasting circle of those who are drawn to Your presence and may we receive assistance from those who loved You who have flown to the next world, that we might befittingly recollect Your days here, learn from them and help transform this nation and this world. . . . 

Allah'u'Abha! 


Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25 (later designated Day of the Covenant)



New York: transports of joy, reverence and respect, a new spirit
Mahmud writes: "Some of the friends came to `Abdu'l-Bahá's residence early this morning, asking that they be admitted into His presence during His prayers so they could be blessed and their souls cleansed. As soon as they reached Him they fell into transports of joy, awe-struck at the august spirit of that moment.
Later a Christian minister came into His presence in the utmost humility and, weeping, held the Master's `abá in his hands and begged that his wife and children be healed. The Master showered him with kindness, consoled him and prayed for him. Although the minister was not a Bahá'í, he showed the reverence and respect to `Abdu'l-Bahá that is usually reserved for Christ.
The Master's fame, grandeur and holiness has spread so far that in every city of the United States of America prominent people become in His presence like humble servants, while knowledgeable and well-known scholars refer to Him as the Prophet of the East and the Messenger of Peace, even though He has always forbidden the use of such terms for Himself in writing or speech. He always explains to them His servitude to the Threshold of the Abhá Beauty.
As the multitude grew, and the Master could not easily see everyone individually, He went downstairs to apologize for not being able to see them owing to the volume of His work, His preoccupation with other matters and His fatigue and frailty. He prayed for all and inspired and encouraged the friends to put all their energy into propagating and spreading the fragrances of God.
In the afternoon, the Master was invited to two meetings. The first was at the Women's Club of New York where He spoke on the education of women, their acquisition of good morals and the equality of their rights. The audience was interested and excited and everyone came to shake His hand, begging confirmation that they might better serve and acquire human perfections.
The Master then went to Mrs Cochran's home where most of the visitors were newcomers who had not previously been in `Abdu'l-Bahá's presence. He appealed to them to abandon harmful prejudices and to acquire heavenly virtues and eternal perfections through spiritual power. The address appeared to breathe a new spirit into all those present."
___________

Transports of joy!  This is what we might wish for, instead of the new electronic gadget on Black Friday.  But that is what the Master's journey offers as we embark on it, here and there: transports of joy.  


On this Day of the Covenant (in 2011), it seems particularly significant that we should be thinking of 'Abdu'l-Bahá with joy!

November 24, 1912


New York: Reparation, service, the grandeur of the Covenant 
Mahmud writes: "A gathering of black Bahá'ís was held at the home of Mrs Kinney. They had been invited by the New York Bahá'ís to attend the banquet of the Covenant but when the proprietor of the hotel heard about it, he was not pleased. The more the friends endeavored to persuade him, the more vehement was his refusal. He said, `If the people see that one colored person has entered my hotel, no respectable person will ever set foot in it and my business will go to the winds.' Such is the depth of prejudice between blacks and whites. Since it was impossible to invite the black Bahá'ís to the banquet, the friends arranged today's feast for their black brothers. Many white women came forward to serve their black guests, showering them with love. The Master approved of this meeting very much and He said:
Today you have carried out the laws of the Blessed Beauty and have truly acted according to the teachings of the Supreme Pen. Behold what an influence and effect the words of Bahá'u'lláh have had upon the hearts, that hating and shunning have been forgotten and that prejudices have been obliterated to such an extent that you arose to serve one another with great sincerity.
The Master's words made a great impression. The meeting embodied the grandeur of the Covenant and demonstrated the power and influence of the Cause in uniting, in sincerity and love, two races of humanity.
In the afternoon the children who had earlier seen the Master on the way from school, had been so attracted and had asked to see Him, came to visit Him. He spoke to them with deep affection and kindness, asking about their health and welfare. To each He gave candies and flowers and then sprinkled them with attar of rose. He then gave them kindly counsels and encouraged them to acquire knowledge, science, good morals and sincerity, saying:
I hope that you will be educated as you ought to be and that each of you will become the pride of your family. May God assist you to acquire divine knowledge in the school of the world of humanity. I shall pray for you and beg assistance for you. Truly, the hearts of the children are very pure. This was why Christ said, `Be ye like children.' Praise be to God who created you illumined children. Praise be to the Lord who hath created His creatures perfectly. God has created you as human beings so that you may daily acquire better morals and human virtues. You must obey your parents so that they may be pleased with you, and so that God will be pleased with you, and that you may become the children of the Kingdom and mirror forth the words of Christ.
Although these young visitors were children, they took their leave in an attitude of sincerity, reverence and attraction that astonished all.
This evening `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at a public meeting of the friends on the underlying unity of creation and the oneness of humanity. His sweet words and explanations attracted the hearts and souls, as in other meetings, leaving them much attached to the Center of the Covenant."
____________

This reparation of the banquet situation brings tears to my eyes! While I have been one day late posting (was it the effect of eating so much turkey that caused me to forget to blog?) I am filled with thanksgiving for the Master's wisdom. How easy it would have been just to have forgotten those dear African Americans who could not attend the banquet! And how I wish we had a list of names of those women who served them! This was before the civil rights movement--and it must have been quite a feeling to cook for and serve those who were treated so poorly at that time! ah, I wish we had a diary account from someone on either side of that equation! Or a photograph of the banquet. Bless the Kinneys for hosting it!

Don't you love the phrase "the grandeur of the Covenant"?  If we could only rise up to embody that grandeur! 



Thursday, November 24, 2011

November 23, 1912

New York: A banquet for a King
Mahmud writes: "The friends arranged a banquet in commemoration of the Day of the Covenant and the journey of the beloved of all hearts. Today many came to the Master with bouquets of flowers in their hands. The banquet was held in the ballroom of New York's Grand Northern Hotel. The hall was decorated similarly to that in Washington with festoons, banners, ornaments and exquisite screens, with the Greatest Name suspended above all on the stage in its customary calligraphy.
In the center of the ballroom were two rectangular tables, between which was another large table exquisitely set. Around these tables on both sides were placed small circular tables bedecked with colorful flowers, a variety of sweets and crystal glassware. The electric lighting reflected the glassware and caused the whole room to shine brilliantly. More than three hundred guests, formally attired, attended. Several friends and specifically Miss Lany Lead served at the banquet.
When the Master appeared, all rose from their seats and with smiling faces cried out, `Alláh-u-Abhá!' Many of the hotel guests saw the banquet and were astonished to see the grandeur of the Master and the sincerity and enthusiasm of the friends. After the Master took His seat, Mr Hoar, on behalf of the Bahá'ís, read an address of welcome expressing obedience and firmness in the Covenant. The Master rose and responded with an address about the divine teachings and the oneness of humanity. He then walked around the tables and perfumed the heads and faces of the friends with attar of rose. When He returned to His chair, the friends, accompanied by the piano, sang songs of praise to Him.
Later the Master spoke about the wars and massacres of the nations and the need for the teachings of the Greatest Name. He encouraged all towards peace, harmony and sincere love for all the people of the world.  After His talk, the Consul General, Mr Topakyan, and others gave short speeches praising `Abdu'l-Bahá.
This evening's banquet was so grand that the hotel staff were curious to know about the Cause. They came to see the Master to ask about the banquet and why so many distinguished Americans were praising and glorifying a person from the East. Indeed, it was a banquet for a king and a source of awakening to every person of insight.
Two photographs were taken with a good quality glass and special lighting. Although the photographs do not show the entire group, they tell much about the banquet."

_________


What a stunning occasion!  So beautiful, elegant, formal.  Don't you wish we all had a place there?  To arrive with flowers and place them in the hand of the Master.  And what an example--to have a social occasion be a "source of awakening to every person of insight."  


Of course, it signaled the end of His time there--so there must have been a poignant rapture. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 22, 1912

New York: Outpouring of bounties; harmfulness of prejudice . . . 
Mahmud writes: "The Master spent the morning until noon at His residence. In the afternoon He went to a gathering at the home of Mrs Krug. The meeting with such eager friends was very enjoyable. A feature of the afternoon was the visit from a Christian minister. He was a just and fair-minded man who visited with the Master before the meeting in a separate room. His first question to the Master was, `What are the new teachings in this Cause?' The Master replied, `The fundamental principles of all religions are one. They are unchangeable and do not differ. This is what Christ meant when He said, "I am not come to destroy the law of the Torah but to promote it."'
The minister: `Yes, I understand. Do you mean that at the beginning the followers of all the religions were pure and undefiled but grew polluted and negligent?'
The Master: `If there is no change or alteration, then there is no renewal. Not until night falls will a new day dawn. If the religion of Moses had not changed, Christ would not have appeared.'
The minister: `Thank you, I understand this well. Now tell me, will there be another cycle after this Bahá'í cycle.'
The Master: `The sovereignty of God has no beginning and no end and the outpouring of His bounties is endless.'
The minister said, with relief, `Now my doubts are wholly removed with nothing left but certainty.'
He was so sincere and humble that the Master was pleased with him and said, `I wanted to give detailed answers to each of your questions but you quickly realized the outcome of each answer right from the beginning. Thus must a person have aptitude and a pure motive.'
Appearing at the meeting, the Master held the minister's hand and praised him very highly as an example of justice. To the friends He said: `Beware, beware lest you follow your prejudices and selfish interests. You must always be just in all matters and investigate the truth.'
This evening in similar language the Master vividly described the harmfulness of prejudice, alienation and disunity and the advantages of love and friendship, concluding with strong appeals to the friends to propagate the guidance given by God and to associate in a spirit of love and kindness with all denominations and the servants of God."
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These final-ish thoughts seem to be clearer and more succinct on the part of the Master.  We can think about how to remove our own doubts and embrace all of the current guidance, to eliminate our own prejudices and associate in a spirit of love--all this is more powerful than we can imagine, we who practice our faith imperfectly.  Yet, over and over, He told us and showed us. Perhaps our passion for Him will yet evoke our highest faith and action. . . . 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

November 21, 1912

New York: New York reflections; a gathering at the Kinney's 
Mahymud writes: "The Master was occupied revealing Tablets to the friends until about noon when the crowd downstairs became too large. He appeared in this gathering of eager souls, greeting and extending His kindness to all, saying: `I have been busy since early morning and am tired. I do not feel like speaking at all and wish to go out for a walk.' After a short talk in which He encouraged the friends to establish love and harmony among themselves and to make every effort in the Cause of God, He walked to Broadway and then to Central Park. He was not pleased with the dense population and the height of the buildings, saying: `These are injurious to the public's health. This population should be in two cities, the buildings should be lower and the streets should be tree-lined as they are in Washington. How can these two places compare?'
Indeed, the condition of New York City is strange and its population so large that in addition to surface streets, there are three railway lines running the entire length of the city; one underground, another on the surface and a third above the streets on bridges about two stories high. These railway lines are continuously filled with people and are their mode of transportation. On some of the streets, automobiles and carriages have to stop for some 10 to 15 minutes because of the congestion until the traffic officers give them permission to continue.
Most buildings are from 17 to 18 stories high and each floor has some 20 to 30 apartments, most of which have bedrooms, a living room, a dining room, bathrooms with hot and cold running water and many comforts.
There was a large gathering this evening at Mr and Mrs Kinney's attended by both old and new friends. The Master's talk was mainly admonitions to the friends about love and unity among themselves and the propagation of the divine Cause. The hearts and souls were ignited by the fire of the love of God and their tongues praised the Beloved."
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An interesting entry--and Mahmud conveys the dissatisfaction the Master felt re. certain aspects of NY. After being in DC recently, I can readily see how the comparison was dramatic. 

Yet still--the audiences, the love, the admonitions, the ignited fires. It doesn't stop, even when the Master is tired. . . . 

Two weeks left. I wonder if His ticket is purchased, if the clock is ticking or if it is all a mystery how long He will stay in their midst. . . .