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


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July 31, 1912 Profound, joyous, amusing . . .


Several of these photos were taken in Dublin,
one with His hand upturned. He seems
to be so happy in Dublin! 
Dublin: Day 7 of 23; Henderson Summer School (Camp), but date discrepancy
Mahmud wrote: " In the morning the Master went to the summer school that had been established by Mr Henderson 20 years ago. It is located some 25 miles from Dublin and classes are held in tents in a clear, open field. As soon as `Abdu'l-Bahá's automobile arrived, the students, between the ages of 12 and 18, surrounded it and enthusiastically welcomed Him. They wore uniforms with knickerbockers and moved about busily but courteously. The headmaster then took `Abdu'l-Bahá to the school hall and remained standing while the Master spoke to the students and teachers, praising the school and the good manners of its students. Later He visited each of the student's tents. Some of the children had cameras and requested permission to take the Master's photograph. Dr Henderson said that when he had established the school 20 years ago there was not a summer school in the whole of America and now there are hundreds of them. `Abdu'l-Bahá remarked: `Everything praiseworthy spreads rapidly. But the children must first be taught religion so that they may be sincere and trustworthy.'
After tea and refreshments, the pupils requested permission from the Master to show Him their gymnastic exercises. The Master remained there a long while and spoke at length about education. When it was time to leave, the headmaster and school staff expressed their heartfelt gratitude to `Abdu'l-Bahá.


Abdu'l-Baha at Boys Camp 
At the public meeting in the afternoon at Mr and Mrs Parsons's home, the Master spoke on spirituality and eternal happiness."

But there is a note: "It is possible that the events described as taking place on this date took place at some other time, as Joseph Hannen had provided transcripts of two talks `Abdu'l-Bahá gave in Dublin, one `at `Abdu'l-Bahá's house, Dublin, Wednesday morning, July 31st' and the other `at 9:30 a.m., July 31st, `Abdu'l-Bahá, on the veranda of His house'. (Star of the West, vol. 3, no. 11, pp. 4-6.) See also the entry in the diary of Agnes Parsons for Wednesday, July 31. (Hollinger, Agnes Parsons' Diary, pp. 85-8.) Mrs Parsons's diary suggests that the date of the visit to the summer school was August 1; however, there are two entries for August 1 in her diary (pp. 88-91).

Agnes Parsons says that the Master came to her house around 10 am and they had lunch with Mrs. Ford, Dr. Fareed, Mr. Latimer, and Jeffrey (her husband).  She expressed the wish that all He said had been written down. "I told Him that many people objected to having 'obey' in the marriage service among the promises made by the woman. He answered that it should not be there, as God intended the man & the woman to be one and the use of the word obey assumes two. He was profound, joyous, amusing!"
Photo with upturned hand
Can't you imagine this little interchange? Agnes goes on to describe how Mr. Hannen came to say goodbye, as he had to catch his train, and then left with this face "showing the great love he feels for Abdu'l-Baha." After the Master had a rest, Agnes says, believers assembled, and a beautiful address was given.  She asked him to shake the hands of some of the guests in the drawing room, and He did so, then re-joined other guests in the dining room.  He then walked in the "bird cage" (see earlier reference), speaking to them of more interesting things, and they they came in and had dinner.  When He was ready to go home, "He did not wish to drive, so a lantern was brought."

So--whether Mahmud's date or Agnes' date is correct, interesting things were going on in Dublin. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30, 1912 Through the assistance of God



`Alí Akbar Nakhjavání
Dublin, NH: Day 6 of 23; the assistance of God
Mahmud wrote: "Mírzá `Alí Akbar Nakhjavání [the father of former House of Justice member `Alí Nakhjavání] remarked that the enthusiasm of the people was due to the power of the Covenant and the influence of the Master's words. `Abdu'l-Bahá replied: `It is not due to my power but to my Father's; it is all His work.' Today He invited both Eastern and Western friends to be His guests. Some stayed in His house while others were given accommodation at the hotel located in the warmer climate at the bottom of the mountain. The guests came to the hotel every morning to visit Him. Meetings were held in the afternoon at the home of Mr and Mrs Parsons. The audience of prominent persons was fascinated by `Abdu'l-Bahá and His qualities. Several people invited the Master to their homes.
In His talk in the afternoon at Mrs Parsons's home He made clear that:
Confirmation is not dependent on talent, knowledge or wisdom. Many unimportant persons have made significant discoveries. Many people labored for years to explore the North Pole but Admiral Peary reached it. One's efforts should be focussed on the object of one's quest. Because Columbus found confirmation, he discovered America with a minimum of difficulty. The disciples of Christ were apparently abased, yet they achieved something which Napoleon never did: they changed the whole aspect of the world. So it is evident that everything comes about through the assistance of God."

Agnes Parsons writes that she called upon Mrs. Emogene Hoagg and her friend after lunch with Ms. Gladys Thayer. She then took Abdu'l-Baha to the station where she was to meet Mrs. Ford, Mr. & Mrs. Hannen, and Fannie Knobloch, a Baha'i from Washington, D.C.  It must have been exciting to have so many wonderful guests coming in.

Abdu'l-Baha asked her to go to the Wilcox Inn, where He wished to call upon the ladies.  Then there is a description of His giving silver pieces to two or three little boys at the station, which surprised them.  Then, there is a highly significant interchange:
     "He said that people in the future, will come from all parts of the world to see 'Day-Spring' where 'the Master lived.'" Also He said my family, He hoped, would own all the country about here.  I asked where the present owners would live, and He said: 'Somewhere else."'

So--it raises the question about Day-Spring, the Parsons' second house in Dublin, where the Master stayed. . . . Tynymaes was the name of their larger home. . . . I think that both houses burned down? Not sure if anyone knows where the property is located--but I am going to Dublin on Friday and will find out! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29, 1912 Each day a new spirit


Dublin: day 5 of 23; "Each day a new spirit is seen in the meetings"

Mahmud writes: "Sitting on the carpet, the Master spoke about Mr Harmon, saying:
What captives of superstitions people are! What troubles they endure for the sake of name and fame! What fruit will these superstitions bear? All are transitory and perishable and no trace of them will remain. It will be as though they had never existed. They are sowing seeds in a barren land. Man ought to sow pure seeds in a fertile soil.
Later in the day He spoke with Mr Harmon for a considerable time. Afterwards He reviewed some letters and prepared them for mailing.
He went to Mrs Parsons's home in the afternoon. He was asked about His health and the climate, to which He replied:
The air of this place is good. But we are happy wherever we go; our happiness consists in service to the Most Holy Threshold. We have not come to America on a pleasure trip; we are here to serve the Court of the Blessed Beauty. Whenever we succeed in this purpose, that place is good. A merchant is happy whenever his goods find a market, wherever it may be.
Then He sat in the gazebo facing the garden and related the afflictions and trials of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdád:
In spite of all these troubles we were happy beyond description because under His shadow we were favored with the blessing of attainment to His presence.
Afterwards He went into the house. The drawing room was filled. His address to the visitors concerned both spiritual and material matters, including questions of economics which corrected some of the false ideas of the socialists. The audience was pleased. Each day a new spirit is seen in the meetings. It is difficult to believe that in this mountainous and scenic countryside, meetings that diffuse the fragrances of God can be held. All this is due to the power of the Center of the Covenant. `Wherever our king is, it is Paradise, even if it is as small as the eye of a needle.'"
See yesterday's post for more on Mr. Harmon.

Agnes Parsons writes that she called upon the Perkins and Wards in the afternoon, then came back to find many people there to hear the Master speak.  She says that the subject was economics and was very interesting.  She then says she had the carriage come to take Him for a drive, and young Mr. George Latimer (who came from the far west to see Him) went with Him.  Also, Mr. Getsinger.  The Master told  George that he was to stay with Him, and that they would go to the hotel to get his luggage.

She also writes: "That afternoon Abdu'l-Baha made a wonderful picture as He sat against the bright red curtains with His black coat & snow white turban. . . ."  (Wish we had this "picture" as a photograph!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

July 28, 1912 Radiating happiness


Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl
Dublin: Day 4 of 23; the sanctity of God; innate knowledge

Mahmud writes: "After prayers the Master revealed several Tablets. A lengthy one was addressed to Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl (may my life be a sacrifice to him). The Master's affection and love for him was such that when Mr MacNutt presented Him with a picture of Mírzá Abu'l-Fadl, He took it at once and kissed it with such love and warmth that all saw how dear he was to the Master.
The Master sat in the drawing room and spoke to Mr Harmon about the sanctity of God, who is beyond emanation and appearance, ascent and descent, ingress and egress, and about the reflection of His attributes on the mirrors of the hearts of the Manifestations. His talk was brief but comprehensive and impressive. He also explained the meanings of the holy books and discussed the saying that `everything is contained in everything', that is, every atom of creation passes through infinite forms and every molecule is transformed and passes through everything else. He then said:
The Theosophists are educating a boy in the schools of Europe and say that he will become the promised one of all nations. How ignorant this is! God must select the Promised One, not men. The lamp that men ignite will be put out; but the Lamp of God is ever bright. He who is educated by men is always dependent on men. How can he give eternal prosperity? It is as if a person wishes to make a sun out of oil and wick.
`Abdu'l-Bahá was asked about the conditions in Turkey. He replied, `Do not expect good news from that spot. But we have nothing to do with political affairs. Our work concerns spirituality, the knowledge of God and the acquisition of spiritual bounties.'
A group of prominent persons came to see Him in the afternoon at Mrs Parsons's home. The subjects concerned telepathy, the immortality of the spirit and related subjects. The guests were so impressed that they attended every meeting. After each day's meeting Mr and Mrs Parsons come with their carriage to take the Master out riding with them. Today He said He would rather go for a walk and instead sent some of these servants for a ride.
This evening Mr Harmon read to the Master passages from a book he had written on Theosophy and Buddhist teachings. He showed Him the illustrations he had drawn. He had illustrated truth as a circle, with God at its center, and divided the circle into seven segments representing the world of creation. The Master listened to him with love and patience while at the same time removing his superstitions with quotations from philosophers and sages in such a way that Mr Harmon was astonished. The Master explained the seven segments so beautifully that he cried, `Oh, your explanations have opened the doors of understanding before me!' The Master then said, `I have had no education. I have not even been to elementary school. These people know it.' Mr Harmon said, `I feel that whatever you say comes from innate knowledge.'"

I wish we knew whom these prominent people were.

 Mr. W.W. Harmon was "a theosophist who, after `Abdu'l-Bahá's visit, circulated esoteric interpretations of Bahá'u'lláh's writings that became a source of controversy in the American Baha'i community" (Agnes Parsons' Diary, 148). He will figure in tomorrow's entry, too.

Agnes writes about `Abdu'l-Bahá's looking over the provisions and saying there was too much; He felt there would be waste because they could not eat it all.  He insisted on paying His way while in the United States, despite numerous offers of money from wealthy Baha'is.

She said He sent over Mirza Valli Ollah Khan with a bottle of rose water for her husband to take in water before breakfast. That afternoon after five, she says, `Abdu'l-Bahá came with Dr. Fareed--and all the Persians following. Mrs. Edward Frothingham, Mr. & Mrs. Markham, Mr. Laurence Adler, Mr. Stewart Montgomery, and Mr. W. W. Harmon (who was staying with `Abdu'l-Bahá) heard Him speak.  Perhaps these are the "prominent" people Mahmud refers to.  Later, after walking for a time, `Abdu'l-Bahá took a drive around the lake with her, with Mr. Harmon sitting in the front. "He was very joyous, spoke English to us and enjoyed everything, I simply radiating happiness," she says (79–80).

How can we radiate more happiness? By being closer to Him, as she was! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27, 1912 Visitors arriving . . .

Dublin, NH: Day 3 of 23

Mahmud writes: "In the early morning `Abdu'l-Bahá went out onto the balcony. On one side was a view of an extensive field of some 40 miles and on the other a vista of green plains and verdant mountains ranging for some 16 miles. He remarked:
If there is any justice, then what I have done for the friends will become apparent. I have done all this through the bounty and assistance of the Blessed Beauty. Otherwise, what have we Persians in common with the Americans on top of this mountain and valley in Dublin?
A likeness of Táhirih which had been published by one of the Germans was presented to `Abdu'l-Bahá, who said, `This picture is not at all authentic.' He then spoke of the life of Táhirih.
At the invitation of Mrs Parsons, `Abdu'l-Bahá went to her home for lunch. In the afternoon, several of Mrs Parsons's friends came by and were deeply impressed by the Master's talk. From this day forward, visitors began to come in great numbers. In the afternoon Mr Parsons brought his carriage to take the Master for a ride. They drove to Lake Dublin where `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke to the members of the club about spirituality and the progress of this new age. When He returned He instructed that cables be sent to the Assemblies of the East.
In the evening Mr Harmon, a leader of the Theosophists, came from Boston to see the Master, who spoke to him about divine civilization, the influence of the Word of God and about this great Bahá'í Dispensation:
One of the martyrs of this Cause, at the time of his martyrdom exclaimed, `Christ said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak; but I say that my flesh is as happy as my spirit.'
He spoke of the spread of civilization from the East to the West, saying:
What a blessing God bestowed upon the Persians but they could not appreciate it! Had they not been ungrateful, the government of Persia would have ranked first in the world. I wrote to Muhammad `Alí Mírzá [ruler of Persia from 1907 to 1909] that if he would compensate for the spilled blood of the Bahá'ís and govern with justice, he would receive confirmation; otherwise, God doeth what He pleaseth. He did not listen to me. Again I wrote to Persia that so long as the nation and the government do not combine like milk and honey, prosperity and happiness are impossible. Persia will become desolate and the end result will be intervention by neighboring powers."

What a diverse day!  Agnes Parsons writes that she walked toward His house in the morning, "thinking I might meet Him and that He might care to see the baseball game between Dublin & the Camp." Instead, she met various people who called upon Him, and there was various conversation. She writes, "If I could only remember the interesting subjects He talked of!  My red shawl was there and I asked the significance of that color. He said that red expressed activity. Carried to extremes it would stimulate to warfare--that green expresses joy, yellow love, blue thought black sorrow. . . ."  Mahmud doesn't mention any of this!

Agnes says later that they drove up to a beautiful "Seaward" view, and she said, "Mashrak El Askar" (implying a future house of worship) and He replied, "Insha'llah."

In Dublin
They drove around the lake, then to the boat house, and Agnes stopped at "the Club" to visit a few people at the "usual" Saturday meeting. Then they drove home through the village, reaching `Abdu'l-Bahá's home first. He spoke to her earnestly about the bills coming to Him. "He insisted that they must be sent to Him."

It's good that we have multiple perspectives to round out the picture of His time there. But what else might we be missing?

See Phillip Tussing's document about Dublin.  And the newsreel story on Dublin!  Both are linked to this blog, under "Resources."
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Today is the last day of our Kickstarter!  It's been amazing. See our behind-the-scenes updates there. (Link on top right.) 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26, 1912 A blessed day . . .


'Abdu'l-Baha in Dublin, New Hampshire,
walking in front of the Parson's home with some of the friends
Dublin, NH: "a blessed day" passed "in the utmost joy and happiness"
Early in the morning, while having tea, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke about the Tablet of the Báb to Násiri'd-Dín Sháh when he was the Crown Prince and the answer of the `ulamá [Muslim clergymen]. `It must be compared', He said, `with the Lawh-i-Sultán [Baha'u'llah's Tablet to the Shah of Persia, whose bearer, Badi, was put to death] which issued from the Supreme Pen so that the injustices of the followers of Mírzá Yahyá might be exposed.'
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke of Hájí Muhammad-Taqí Vakíl'ud Dawlih, the Afnán. He also showed great kindness to some of the American Bahá'ís. About one of them, He said:
Write this in the margin of the book: The time will come when her whole family will be proud of Mrs Krug and her faith. Her husband is still distant and heedless; the time will come when he will feel himself exalted on account of Mrs Krug's faith. I see what they do not see. Ere long the whole of her family will consider the faith of that lady as the crown of honor on their heads.
That evening `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke of the days of the Blessed Beauty and of His kindness towards Shaykh Salmán. He praised the sincerity and constancy of that messenger of the Merciful and described some of the events in his life.
This day was also a blessed day and passed in the utmost joy and happiness."

Re. Mrs. Krug: Rob Stockman writes: Mrs. Grace Krug was a Bahá'í. Her husband, Dr. Florian Krug, was opposed to the Faith until He met `Abdu'l-Bahá in New York. He eventually became a Bahá'í. When they were on pilgrimage in November 1921, Dr. Krug was called to `Abdu'l-Bahá’s bed when He died, and closed the Master’s eyes. `Abdu'l-Bahá often spoke at the Krug house in New York.

Agnes Parsons' entry for today is so different from that of Mahmud's.  She says that in the morning she found Abdu'l-Baha and Ahmad Sohrab in the "bird cage"--her nickname for an open, wooded area near her house, where birds would gather to feed. "Abdu'l-Baha spoke on most interesting and vital subjects--mainly on social and economic lines."  Later, He sat down on the grass near some trees. She refers to her younger son, named Royall, and He comments on the boy.  Later, she stopped to see Abdu'l-Baha and "He talked most delightfully and then had Dr. Fareed translate for me a story which Mirza Ali Akbar had told Him that afternoon."

Don't you wish we could hear the story?  Better yet, don't you wish we could be there with Him, in that lovey spot?

 Note: the Master stayed 23 days in Dublin.  This is day 2 of that sojourn. 

See Phillip Tussing's document about Dublin.  And the newsreel story on Dublin!  Both are linked to this blog, under "Resources."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25, 1912 Dublin! Drinking in His Presence


Boston to Dublin, NH

Mahmúd writes: "As `Abdu'l-Bahá had said He intended to leave Boston for Dublin, the friends and seekers gathered at the hotel. He encouraged them to lead fruitful lives and to overcome self and desire. [This brief address can be found in PUP p. 244.]
Consenting to a request of Mr Kinney, the Master paid a visit to Green Acre. When He got there, two Arab seekers fell at His feet crying, `O Thou the Prophet of God.' He lifted them with His own hand, saying: `I am `Abdu'l-Bahá [the Servant of Bahá].' [This is a misconception by Mahmúd. The Master's arrival at Green Acre occurred on August 16, when 500 people lined up to greet Him. AP]
At 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá left Boston and by 7:00 p.m. He was gracing the gardens of Dublin. Master took up residence in one of the two houses Mrs Parsons had especially prepared for Him, which was furnished with every comfort; however, the Master said that we must bear our own expenses. Mrs Parsons had hoped that the arrival of the Master would remain private so that He might rest a little. When `Abdu'l-Bahá learned of this He said:
We have come for work and service and not for leisure. We must render service to the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty and must make such servitude the cause of our solace and the joy of our souls. As this place is a summer resort and many prominent people are present, therefore, unless they should themselves ask, the friends should not teach openly. They must deal with them with perfect dignity and honor.
Continuing, He said: Consider where we came from and where we are now in Dublin here in America. We must offer thanks for the assistance and protection of the Abhá Beauty that we may breathe a breath in the path of servitude.
He then gave an account of the life of Hájí Abu'l-Qásim, an indigo merchant, and the restoration of his grave. `He was', He said, `one of the servants of the Blessed Beauty. My first thought on my arrival in Egypt was to repair his tomb.' Similarly, He spoke of the good intentions and sincerity of Áqá Muhammad Taqí Isfahání, who is residing in Egypt. In the evening he enjoyed His dinner and ate in good health and happiness."
Agnes Parsons
with the Master
________

Meanwhile, in Dublin, Agnes Parsons had made all sorts of arrangements to receive the Master. Two Persian men of the entourage had arrived two days earlier. She writes: "At 3:00 Mirza V and I drove to Miss Flint's musical, and later, to the station to meet  `Abdu'l-Bahá. The train was on time, and I soon had  `Abdu'l-Bahá and Dr. Fareed in the carriage for the drive home.  Jeffrey man [her husband, not to be confused with their son Jeffrey] was at the lower house to greet  `Abdu'l-Bahá, and after a little visit we and Mrs. Meredith . . . returned home. Before I left, I took  `Abdu'l-Bahá to His own room, and I took Him on the 2nd story veranda to see the view.  He seemed pleased with everything. I saw that the little room next to mine had been arranged for a work room--3 desks and two tables being there.  This seems a good arrangement. Mirza Admad [Sohrab] also arrived last night, and he and Mirza V[ali] O[llah] came home in the stage."

Perhaps Mahmud's memory of the two Arab seekers is actually from the week Abdu'l-Baha spent at Green Acre in August. At any rate, the Master stayed 23 days in Dublin.  It must have been a welcome relief from the cities.

See Phillip Tussing's document about Dublin.  And the newsreel story on Dublin!  Both are linked, under "Resources."

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In NY, Juliet has an interesting entry for today, poignant and sweet:

"The Master is gone. Gone to Dublin, New Hampshire.
     I shall never forget the day He left, day before yesterday. I went up early to His house--but oh, too late! On the street I met Mrs Hutchinson.
     "The Master has gone!" she said, her eyes full of tears, her lips quivering.
     "When?"
     "Twenty minutes ago."
     "I will go to the station."
     I jumped on a subway train and reached the station in a few minutes. But nowhere did I see the Master and the Persians. I stopped a porter.
    "Did a party of foreigners pass through here just now?"
    "Egyptians?"
    "Yes!" There wasn't a minute to explain.
     "Yes. Go to track 19."
     But track 19 was deserted except for the gateman.
     "Has a party of foreigners passed this way?" I asked him.
     "Turks?"
     "Yes."
     "They are on the train."
     "I supposed I couldn't go through?"
     "Yes, go through, but come right back."
      Smiling my thanks, I dashed down the platform. At one of the windows in the train I saw a white turban.
     "Could I get on the car?" I asked the conductor.
     "Yes, get on. It's all right."

__________
     "Ah-h, Juliet!"
     "Goodbye, my Lord."
     "Goodbye." He drew me down beside Him. "You should not have troubled to come here," He said.
     "My heart wouldn't let me do otherwise."
     "I will see you in a month.[126] Give My greetings to your mother, to all the friends; to Mrs Krug, Miss Boylan."
     Closely, closely He pressed my hand, pouring the attar of rose of His Love upon me. Then once more He said goodbye and I left.
     It had been too bold, yet even against the rules every door had opened to me.
__________

The last time I talked with the Master was the day before He left. Sure that He was to leave that morning, the twenty-second, I went very early to His house, with eight palm-leaf fans in my hands. Mamma had sent them for the Master and the Persians to use on the hot journey.
     The master was sitting in the English basement at the window. He called me to a chair opposite Him. "What are all those for?" He asked, laughing, waving His hand toward the fans.
     I laughed too, for they did look funny. I explained their purpose and that they were from Mamma.
     For a while I sat in silence before Him. Then suddenly I realized that He was about to leave us, that in just a few minutes He would be gone. I began to cry quietly.
     "Tell Juliet," laughed the Master, "that I am not going today."
     At this the sun came out! But soon by tears were flowing again, this time because His love was melting me.
    "Why are you crying, Juliet? I am not going today!"

__________

In the afternoon He called me to Him and I had twenty minutes alone with Him and Valíyu'lláh Khán. I sat with over-brimming eyes, drinking in the Glory of His Presence.
     "Oh Valíyu'lláh Khán," I said, "say to the Master for me that I know He is the Sun and I pray He will always encircle me with His rays."

"You are very near Me," He answered, "and while you speak the truth you will always be with Me. I pray that you may become the candle of New York, spreading the Light of Love all around you."
     After this we sat silent in His Presence, silent for a long time.
     Once again He saw me when Marjorie came. He told her she was my child, my "little chicken" and said we must comfort each other after He has gone."


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

July 24, 1912 Enchanted and in ecstasy


Boston: Beauty of Perfection; Universal Language; East and West; Immortality; Spiritual Ecstasy
Mahmud writes: "From 8:00 a.m. until noon, the Master spoke to friends and seekers who came to visit. Newspapers carrying accounts of the previous day's meeting were brought to Him. Both His talk and the questions and answers were published.
In the afternoon He gave a public address about those deeds which bring about the beauty of perfection in this contingent world.
He was invited later to the Golden Links Club where He was asked whether Arabic might become the universal language. He said that it would not. He was then asked about Esperanto. He replied:
A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter from New York to one of the promoters of Esperanto telling him that this language could become universal if a council of delegates chosen from among the nations and rulers were established which would discuss Esperanto and consider the means to promote it.
He gave a public address on the subject of the relationship between the East and the West. The president of the club and its members were enchanted and reverently and humbly bid Him farewell. Some even continued to listen to His explanations in the automobile as it traveled for one and a half hours through parks, gardens and green fields, all beautifully landscaped. When He reached the hotel, He found another group waiting. After greeting the members of the Bahá'í Assembly, He spoke with the group at length.
Later that day the president of the Boston Theosophical Society invited the Master to speak to his association that evening. Although He was tired, seeing that the meeting place was not too far away, He accepted and gave a detailed and comprehensive talk on the immortality of the spirit of man. When the meeting ended, the people ran to the door to shake hands with the Master and to express their joy and devotion. Some were in ecstasy."

It seems that we need more spiritual ecstasy in our lives now!  Oh, to shake hands with the Master and feel that divine current!

Today (in 1912) was a day of great talks--and I am re-realizing the importance of studying the talks. 

I did a search for the "Golden Links Club" but couldn't find anything definitive about it. Apparently it still exists in various places (?) and is sometimes associated with senior groups--but I really don't have a clue about its focus. Sounds interesting, though!

Boston still has a Theosophical Society--see http://www.tsboston.org/

A Boston map from 1912 can be obtained at: http://www.historicmapworks.com/Atlas/US/6707/Boston%201912%20Charlestown%20and%20East%20Boston/

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23, 1912 Moths around a candle


New York -- Boston: Moths around a candle; at the home of Alice Ives Breed 
Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá left New York at 8:00 a.m. for Boston and Dublin, reaching Boston at 3:30 p.m. A number of friends were at the train station to receive Him. As soon as they saw Him, they hovered around Him like moths around a candle, anxious to sacrifice themselves before Him. As He did not plan to stay in Boston for more than two nights, He instructed everyone in His entourage except an interpreter and a secretary to go directly to Dublin.
He then went to the Hotel Victoria where the public meeting was held at 6:00 p.m. There were both Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís present as well as some journalists who questioned Him about His purpose in coming to America. The Master replied:
I came for the peace gatherings in America. They are good. But their efforts must not end in words alone. I pray that they may receive confirmation so that this country may become the center of efforts for peace.
His address was on economic problems.
In the evening He was invited to dine at the home of Mrs [Alice Ives] Breed. As the Master left the hotel, crowds of people stood in rows as He passed through them. That evening He spoke about the persecutions and tribulations of the Manifestations of God, the reconciliation of the hearts and the victory of this blessed Cause of God. After dinner He made the long and tedious journey back to the hotel."

Alice Ives Breed is the mother of Florence Breed, who married Ali Kuli Khan.  I feel as if we would have had great affinity--or perhaps do, despite the difference in time or place.  Below I will put an excerpt from Marzieh Gail's book, Arches of the Years. (Marzieh was the daughter of Florence and Ali Kuli Khan--an articulate speaker and writer I was privileged to meet several times.)  It was at Alice's home, on May 23, that there was a birthday cake with 68 candles for 'Abdu'l-Bahá, bedecked with flags of the US, UK, and Persia! 

Marzieh Gail

"It was on his return from that first European trip that he, the young Francis Breed, met Alice Ives and fell in love. She returned to Illinois but not before they had become engaged. He then wrote a letter to her father—not asking for her hand, but simply informing Dr Ives that he was coming West on a business trip, and planned to marry his daughter and take her back East.
The marriage must have worked; they had seven children, five of which lived, and they themselves were still together beyond their golden wedding day. Belying the clichí that the two never exchanged a cross word, in the course of a spat Francis cried indignantly, 'What do you mean I've never done anything for you? I've given you seven children, haven't I?'
He also provided wealth and status, and he was patient during her continual comings and goings, and put up with her, which must have been something like putting up with an avalanche.
One journalist, avoiding the usual 'active in club affairs and traveled extensively in Europe and the Far East', summed things up thus: 'Mrs Breed has been to the theatre in Venice in a gondola, to church in Hong Kong in a sedan chair and to address a club in Yokohama in a jinrickshaw...'
Alice Ives Breed made her home a salon where she entertained what was (in that parochial age) a wide variety of guests. For example, when in Japan she sent pleas to the Empress that Japanese women be allowed to attend the convention of the General Federation of Women's Clubs which would meet in Denver in 1898, and the Empress, not without arousing opposition, appointed two Court ladies to attend. These two progressive women were later guests in Alice's home. Another personality sponsored by Alice, whom she met at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago, was Swami Vivekananda, and he too became her house guest. When Khan was translating for Mírzá Abu’l-Fa dl at Green Acre (Maine), Mary Hanford Ford introduced him to Alice and it was quite natural for her to listen to and accept the Bahá’í Faith from this young Persian. Besides Florence, her daughters Alice and Ruby and son Ralph all became Bahá’ís. Only Francis held back, saying he was 'not good enough'. As for Grandfather Breed, he was, so far as one can tell, a de facto believer.
Long a distinguished clubwoman, in that era when the women's clubs were a growing force for progress, and as the song says 'brought culture to Buffalo', Alice Breed, Vice-President of the General Federation, was widely expected to win the presidency at the Denver Convention. But the ladies of the Western delegations envied and disliked the 'effete East'. Being on their home ground, and thus having the support of the local press, they succeeded through skullduggery worthy of male politicians in defeating her.
Alice, however, remained unbeatable (just as she remained some years later when her husband lost his fortune). She never recognized defeat.
Marzieh had always thought that a financial panic ruined her grandfather, but years later her Uncle Francis told her that F. W. Breed—like so many manufacturers of the day—was too autocratic, refusing to give in to the workers' demands, and it was this fact combined with a series of panics following in quick succession which brought him down.
Even in reduced circumstances, wherever Alice and the family lived was beautiful, enriched with some of their old treasures. Her dress was still elegant. She still had many friends. She was never defeated—her view was that 'failure kills only the coward'. Years afterward she remarked to Marzieh, who had not known her in her days of social glory: 'There comes a time in life when you either do or do not give up. Your grandfather gave up—but I, never.'
Today of what they owned a silver spoon is left. Inside, the bowl is engraved with their large and handsome home, 'Deer Cove', with the trees about it, and the tennis court. It was one of many spoons Grandmother had ordered, souvenirs of a tennis party, as favors for her guests. . . ." (from Arches of the Years, chap. 9)

I wish I could see this spoon and participate in some of the salons in Alice's home!  Having seen the film "Midnight in Paris," I can just imagine being transported back night after night to 1912 (and earlier) to attend such gatherings. 

Meanwhile, Agnes Parsons is preparing to receive Abdu'l-Baha at her summer "cottage" in Dublin, NH. I am very excited about this part of His journey!  AND I will be going to Dublin during this time! 
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PS  Only 4 days left of our kickstarter!  Under "Updates" #3--see the video we just uploaded from our behind-the-scenes shooting yesterday: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/9432662/luminous-journey-abdul-baha-in-america-1912

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 22, 1912 Extraordinary Sagacity and Infinite Intelligence




Today is the anniversary of Sarah Farmer's birthday.  She enjoyed such a close connection to `Abdu'l-Bahá--and He inspired and confirmed her vision for Green Acre.  In August He will go to Green Acre (in 1912). 

In the meantime, a salute to Sarah!



New York: `Abdu'l-Bahá's "extraordinary sagacity and infinite intelligence" "effectiveness" and "vigor"
Mahmud writes: "At the morning gathering of the friends one asked about the longevity of life in ancient times. The Master replied: Some think that is a third motion of the earth which is the cause of the length or shortness of life. This motion, they say, is different from the diurnal and annual motions and is the cause of change in the condition of the globe. But the long lives mentioned in certain books and narratives have a different basis. For instance, it was a custom in former times to mention a dynasty or family by the name of one person only. However, the people in the following ages thought that the length of time that a family survived was the length of the life of that family's founder.
`Abdu'l-Bahá had planned to leave for Boston and Dublin today but because of the arrival of the brother of the Khedive of Egypt, the great Amír, Prince Muhammad-`Alí Páshá, the Master's departure was delayed. The Master paid him a visit which was returned by the prince. On each visit this eminent, enlightened man received the utmost love and showed great interest. When the prince returned to Egypt he published an account of his journey, describing his visit with the Master, which is available everywhere in Egypt and elsewhere. He describes his visit with `Abdu'l-Bahá:
Monday morning, July 22. I was informed that His excellency, the venerable oriental sage, `Abbás Effendi, the head of the Bahá'í Movement, wished to see me. I therefore set 3:00 p.m. today for a conversation with him. `Abbás Effendi arrived at the appointed hour. I received him with respect and regard for his reverence and honor.
Age has not altered his extraordinary sagacity and infinite intelligence. He stayed with me for an hour and conversed on diverse subjects of great importance and usefulness, which amply testified to his vast knowledge and wide experience. Truly, he is a man of science and knowledge and is one of the exalted personages of the East. We paid `Abbás Effendi a return visit. He was living in a small but well-furnished house. Everything to insure his comfort was available. He had a suite of ten persons with him wearing Persian kuláhs on their heads. From this orderly and well-organized reception, I understood that this revered personage, because of the weakness of the Americans, had brought such a large number of Persians with him so that he might draw attention to himself. I do not mean this to lower the dignity of this great man, nay, on the other hand, it shows his great intelligence and indicates his vast knowledge of the way by which he may impress the minds of the people so they may turn towards him. His numerous, most impressive speeches have found a wide circulation in America. Indeed, the newspapers and periodicals are still publishing them with commentaries by the learned men of their religion. His influence has reached to such a prominence that bigoted and jealous people are protesting vigorously against him. I stayed with him for a long time and we talked with each other on various subjects. He made me happy by his delightful talks. I departed from his presence with his love and reverence preserved in my heart.
From such writings those with perception can see that although the Khedive's brother was not a Bahá'í, he was drawn to and affected by the Master. His words are a brilliant testimony to the effectiveness of the Master's talks, the impressiveness of His addresses and the vigour with which `Abdu'l-Bahá promulgates the teachings of God."

Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21, 1912 Visit with Consul General of Turkey

New York -- New Jersey: Visit with Consul General of Turkey


'Abdu'l-Baha with the Persian Consul-General for New York 
and his household, Morristown, New Jersey, 1912 
(Not sure when this visit occurred but it gives us an idea 
of the Master with other Consul-Generals)

Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá received an invitation from the Consul General of Turkey. After meeting with the friends and expressing His happiness at their devotion and unity, He left for the Consul's home. He took the ferry across the water, then a tram and arrived at the Consul General's house. The Consul himself had gone to meet the Master by another route but his wife and relatives received Him with the utmost respect and reverence until the Consul General returned.
A number of prominent men and statesmen, as well as the Consul General, were present. The Master rested for a short time in one of the rooms. Then the Consul General, praising `Abdu'l-Bahá, introduced Him to the audience. The Master came to the table and spoke on the danger of wine and alcohol. He then considered some philosophical subjects and answered questions from the Consul's wife about misconduct and its harmful consequences. She was pleased and when He was about to depart expressed her gratitude by kissing His hand. Everyone begged His pardon for any lack in their service to Him. [Customary in the East.]
The Consul General's brother-in-law requested and obtained permission to take the Master's photograph. The Consul General then accompanied the Master to the railway station to see Him off, even though `Abdu'l-Bahá had asked him not to do so.
At a gathering of Armenians in the evening the Master gave a stirring and impressive talk concerning the attributes of the world of humanity, spiritual courage and valor. His talk was not recorded because we arrived at the meeting late." [One presumes by "we" Mahmud means the Persian entourage, not the Master.]

New York (more) 
Hippolyte Dreyfus
Portrait of H. Dreyfus by
Alice Pike Barney
Mahmud also writes on July 21: "The esteemed Bahá'í Monsieur Dreyfus of Paris came to visit the Master. One of the Master's talks at the meeting of the friends was about services beneficial to the world of humanity. `Universality is of God,' He said, `while every limitation is human.' Continuing, He said, `The Sun of Truth has risen always in the East and yet it has shone with greater luster in the West.' Mr Kaufman remarked that he had read in the newspapers about the Master's journey to the West and understood that the purpose of His journey was for the upliftment and education of the West as well as of the East. Mr Kaufman then asked, `Will the East regain its former glory?' The Master replied, `It will be greater than before.' The Master then spoke about eternal life and everlasting honor and said:  How many great men have come into the world! What wealth they have owned! What kings have sat on the thrones of glory and riches! What beautiful and comely people have adorned the world of man! But what has been the outcome? Honor, life, luxury and pleasure have all perished. But the fame of the beauty of Joseph is still universal and the honor of the disciples of Christ still endures; their sufferings are the cause of life everlasting.
Corrinne True 

At dinner a number of the Eastern and Western friends were at the Master's table. Mrs True and some other friends asked His permission to serve the guests, which He gave."

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Today we have our last large shoot for the film, at an historic house in Dallas. About 7 crew members and 22 extras are coming. Our power went out--it was very hot and dark last night as we worked by lantern to prepare everything. We spent hours packing gear and costumes. . . . Hoping to get some special footage depicting the first day meeting at the Kinney home!  (And the first shall be last.)