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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 15, 1912 Translating thought into action

Lake Mohonk: translating thought into action

Mahmud recounts: “The Master remained at Lake Mohonk. Many came into His presence and to each He taught the Cause of God, answering their questions in the way best suited to the understanding of the listener. Concerning the peace conference, He related a story: ‘Once I wrote to the Persian friends that if the workers of peace conferences do not apply in their own lives what they advocate, they are like those wine sellers who convene and make emphatic speeches regarding the harmfulness of wine and proposing its prohibition. But when they go out of the meeting, they begin again to sell wine and to do what they were doing in the past. Therefore it is necessary for the power of execution and effect to spiritually penetrate the body of the world.’
     The Master gave two addresses at this conference. At the request of the president, He wrote in detail explanations of the divine questions, which were to be published in a book recording the proceedings of the conference. . . .”

We can look at His days at Lake Mohonk as part of the essential reason He came to America.  Rob Stockman, in his book  `Abdu'l-Bahá in America, notes that before He got off the Cedric in the NY harbor, “`Abdu'l-Bahá accommodated the journalists in His stateroom, His Persian answers to their questions translated into English by one of His attendants, Ameen Fareed. To the inevitable question of why He had traveled to America’s shores, He replied that He had come ‘to visit the peace societies of America because the fundamental principles of our Cause are universal peace and the promotion of the basic doctrine of the oneness and truth of all the divine religions.’ He had already been invited to speak to the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference in mid May, a prestigious annual gathering of peace leaders, as well as thirteen churches and at two Bahá'í conferences. “ 
Rob later  explains how this occurred:  “Aware that He might be traveling to America in the future, in August 1911 `Abdu'l-Bahá initiated correspondence with Mr. Albert Smiley, the founder of the Lake Mohonk Conference on International Arbitration:
The details of the Conference of Peace and Arbitration which is organized under your presidency has been read in the papers of the East and the West and the utmost joy and fragrance was produced; that, praise be to God, in the continent of America, under the presidency of a glorious personage, the Conference of International Peace is convened. . . . Therefore, although this longing one has no acquaintance with your honor, but this great cause and this eminent effort of yours became the cause of my having infinite love for you while absent. Consequently I am engaged in writing you this epistle. . . . To be brief, as His Highness Baha’o’llah in this period of man has planted a fruitful tree in the garden of the oneness of the human race, and as your honor is engaged in reality to irrigate this garden, therefore I found it necessary to express my gratitude and happiness to you, so that your good name may be spread not only in Persia but throughout all Oriental countries and the people of the East may remember your name with great respect.  I hope that the principles of international peace and universal reconciliation may be established firmly among the individual members of humanity and its fragrance may be spread throughout all the regions. I beg of you to accept the expressions of my highest consideration.”
Regarding the first night of the peace conference, Rob says that Rev. Frederick Lynch, at the Metropolitan Temple in New York, called it “the most remarkable address I have ever listened to.” He summarized it as “full of this one thing, the unity of mankind. We are in this world,—one. When you get beneath the different languages, different nationalities, different races, different colors, different temperaments, after all, we are one.”
Rob also notes that `Abdu'l-Bahá, however, “was not so positive about the results. He commented to His interpreters immediately afterward:
Once I wrote to the friends in Persia in regard to peace congresses and conferences, that if the members of the conferences for peace do not succeed in practicing what they say, they may be compared to those who hold a meeting to discuss and form firm resolutions about the sinfulness and harmfulness of liquors. But after leaving the meeting, they occupy themselves in selling liquors, and just as before they become engaged in their business. Now we must not only think and talk peace but we must develop the power to practice peace, so that like unto the spirit in the body of the world, peace may permeate the whole world.”
Rob says,  “The comment underscored `Abdu'l-Bahá’s strategy: to transform souls and strengthen the forces of love in the world, for they were the forces that could convert the principles into reality. “
Last year on this day I wrote: So—today we get a potent lesson about translating thought into action!  Ah, how I wish we could re-live those days in that sublime spot! 

On the porch at Lake Mohonk
 Who would have guessed that less than a year later we would be AT the Mohonk Mountain House filming?   

And the most amazing thing happened--a couple we met in Glenwood Springs came up so that Barbara (the wife) could be in the footage. She is the one in purple (I am in bluish grey).  Doesn't she look great!
Our two Persian men (Mehrdad and Fuad) were great--but Tim kept forgetting their names & thus called them "Persian number 1" and "Persian number 2" all day.  They were good humored about it--Mehrdad signs his emails "Persian number 1" when he writes!

Lua and Edward (Janet & Chris Ruhe) were great, too! 

What a day! One of our most expensive but most satisfying. . . . 

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