New York: Spiritual relationship; Juliet--the Master as the Divine Breast; painting the soul
Mahmud wrote: "As so many people come every day requesting to see `Abdu'l-Bahá alone, it is more than the Master can bear in His state of fatigue and exhaustion. Therefore, He instructed us in the morning:
If anyone has not yet met me, or if anyone has some urgent business, call them. All others I will meet in the public gatherings because I have no time and it is impossible to see everyone individually.
After seeing a few seekers and settling the affairs of some friends, He came downstairs and delivered a public address on one of the great teachings of Bahá'u'lláh not found in previous dispensations, which is the prohibition of cursing enemies and to pray for their forgiveness.
At another meeting in the afternoon, one of `Abdu'l-Bahá's discourses was on the importance of spiritual relationship, intellectual affinity and sincere affection. `Although the nations and tribes', He said, `have material bonds between them, yet in the world of the heart and soul they are in conflict. But those souls that have close spiritual ties and affinities of the heart are always ready to sacrifice their lives for one another, though they are not outwardly related.'
He also spoke of the greatness of this dispensation:
In the Shí`í tradition concerning this dispensation it is recorded that knowledge is composed of twenty-seven letters and that the divine messengers of the past from first to last have revealed but two letters; however, when the promised Qá'im comes, He will appear with all twenty-seven.
Aside from the true meaning of this passage which pertains to the power and might of the Cause of God, to the revelation of verses and signs, to the solution of divine problems, to the disclosure of the mysteries of the Holy Book and to the spread of knowledge -- each of which is a hundred times greater in this mighty revelation than in any previous one -- materially, too, all the learned men of this age agree that the advancements in knowledge, the arts, industries and inventions of this century are equal to those of the last fifty centuries, indeed, even greater than that."
Ward says that the above occurred on June 13. . . .
Eliane Lacroix-Hopson in 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York writes:
Juliet Thompson c. 1927
Juliet's own account, reminding us how very human those meeting with the Master were, is as follows: 12 June 1912
"Yesterday morning I went up early to the Master's house, that house whose door is open at seven-thirty and kept wide open till midnight.
He had been away and I had not seen Him for three days. I had brought my pastels, thinking He might sit for me, but I found Him looking utterly spent. He was in the English basement, Ruth Berkeley and Valíyu'lláh Khán with Him, lying back against the sofa cushions. But, in spite of His weariness, He looked up with brilliant eyes.
"What do you want of Us, Juliet?" He smiled.
I had hid my pastels. "Only to be near You."
"You must excuse Me from sitting for you today. I am not able today."
"I knew that, my Lord, as soon as I came in."
Then He talked to Ruth and me. He told us we were as babes nursing at the Divine Breast. "But babes," He said, "grow daily through the mother's milk."
I could not help but weep, for His was the Divine Breast.
Soon He went out alone to "the garden," leaving Ruth, Valíyu'lláh Khán, and me together.
"It is wonderful," Ruth said as He went, "to see how the world is quickened today in all directions."
"And to know," I said, "that the Voice that is quickening it is the same tender Voice that spoke to us just now." And I wept again, for something about the Master that morning had utterly melted me.
Later He came back. The English basement was crowded by then and He talked for a long while to the people. But this I could see was pure sacrifice. His vitality seemed gone. At times He could scarcely bring forth the words, yet He gave and gave. When He had finished He hurriedly left the house and went again to "His garden".
On the way to the bus I met Him returning alone. He stopped me, put out His hand and took mine, with indescribable tenderness smiling at me. In the handclasp, the look, even in the tilt of the head was a Love so poignant as to give me pain.
"Come tomorrow and paint, Juliet," He said.
He appeared refreshed--better--but remembering His utter depletion of the morning I couldn't help answering, "If You are well." Then I thought I would speak in Persian to amuse Him, but instead of saying, "If Your health is good," I made a mistake and said, "Agar Shumá khúb ast," (If You are good.) whereupon I was covered with confusion. I must have amused Him!
How stupidly we speak to Him! Imagine saying "if" to Him. That was even worse than my break in Persian. . . .
Today (12 June) I went up early to His house, but not early enough. As I turned into Seventy-Eighth Street from West End Avenue I saw Him a block away, hastening toward "His garden," His robes floating out as He walked.
Soon He came back to us. Miss Buckton had arrived by that time and a poor little waif of a girl, a Jewess. She was all in black and her small pale face was very careworn.
I had been in the kitchen with Lua. When I heard the voice of the Master I hurried into the hall, and there I saw them sitting at the window, the poor sad little girl at the Master's right, Alice Buckton at His left. Like a God, He dominated the scene. Sunlight streamed through the window, His white robes and turban shining in it, the strong carving of His Face thrown into high relief by masses of shadow.
The little Jewish girl was crying.
"Don't grieve now, don't grieve," He said. He was very, very still and I think He was calming her.
"But my brother has been in prison for three years, and it wasn't just to put him in prison. It wasn't his fault, what he did. He was weak and other people led him. He has to serve four more years. My father and mother are always depressed. My brother-in-law has just died, and he was the one who supported us. Now we haven't even that."
"You must trust in God," said the Master.
"But the more I trust the worse things become!" she sobbed.
"You have never trusted."
"But my mother is all the time reading psalms. She doesn't deserve to have God abandon her. I read the psalms myself, the ninety-first psalm and the twenty-third psalm, every night before I go to bed. I pray too."
"To pray is not to read psalms. To pray is to trust in God and to be submissive in all things to Him. Be submissive; then things will change for you. Put your parents and your brother in God's hands. Love God's Will. Strong ships are not conquered by the sea, they ride the waves! Now be a strong ship, not a battered one."
At noon I took Percy Grant to the Master. The Master had inquired for him and sent him a message by me, and Percy had responded instantly by himself suggesting this visit. But the Master was out when we reached the house and while we were waiting for Him I mentioned a very interesting thing He had said to Gifford Pinchot that the people were rising wave upon wave, like a great tide, and the capitalists, unless they realized this soon, would be driven out with violence; also, that in the future the labourer would not work on a wage basis but for an interest in the concern.
Just then Lua appeared at the door of the room opposite, went to the stairway and, with her beautiful reverence, leaned across the rail to look down.
"He is coming, Lua?"
"Yes, Julie, He is coming!"
He entered the room with both hands extended and in a voice like a chime from His heart, said: "Oh-h, Dr Grant! Dr Grant!"
Then I slipped out.
When I returned at the Master's call, He was signing a photograph for Percy and writing a prayer on it. "And now," he said, presenting it, "you must give Me your photograph. I want your face. I have given you Mine. Now you must give Me yours."
"I will pray for you," He added as He bade Percy goodbye. "I will mention you daily in My prayers."
The Master detained me for a moment. As I rejoined Percy in the car, Valíyu'lláh Khán was just going into the house.
"Do you see that handsome, distinguished-looking young man?" I said. "That is Valíyu'lláh Khán, a descendant of two generations of martyrs and the brother of one very young martyr. His grandfather, Sulaymán Khán, was a disciple of the Báb. He was Governor of Fars and a great prince, but that didn't save him. He suffered the most ghastly kind of martyrdom and with such ecstasy that he is one of the best beloved of the Bábí martyrs.
[WARNING: graphic scene described below]
"Just a few years ago Valíyu'lláh's father, Varqá Khán, and his little brother, [Rúhu'lláh] Varqá, went on a pilgrimage to 'Akká and had a wonderful visit with the Master. But on their way home they were both arrested and thrown into prison. Then one day some brutal men came into their cell, one with an axe. Varqá Khán was hacked into pieces alive, and the poor little boy forced to look on at that butchery. When it was over, one of the executioners turned to the child. I think I will tell the rest in Valíyu'lláh Khán's own language, just as he told it to me.
"'The man said to my brother: "If you will deny Bahá'u'lláh, we will take you to the court of the Sháh and honours and riches will be heaped upon you." But my brother answered: "I do not want such things." Then the man said to him: "If you refuse to deny, we will kill you worse than your father." "You may kill me a thousand times worse," my brother said. "Is my life of more value than my father's? To die for Bahá'u'lláh is my supreme desire." 'This so angered the executioners that they fell upon Varqá and choked him to death.' Varqá was only twelve years old.
"A day or two ago," I went on, "Valíyu'lláh Khán asked me, 'How is the Master's portrait progressing?' and he added that, in a portrait, he thought 'one must paint the soul.' 'But who can paint the soul of 'Abdu'l-Bahá I asked. And I wish you could have seen the fire in his eyes as he drew himself up and said: 'We can paint it with our blood!'"