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

Friday, July 13, 2012

July 13, 1912 Opening vistas of the spiritual world

New York: An overview statement by Allan Ward

This is an unusual day, as Mahmud does not have a diary entry for today, though he had two for yesterday (see yesterday's posts), and Juliet does not have another entry until the 16th.

Allan Ward notes: "During the sweltering July days Abdu'l-Baha continued to receive the friends from morning until night, working with the Baha'is to deepen them, and to raise them up into a divine army that might spiritually conquer the world. He often prepared meals for them, prayed with them, walked with them in the garden near His house, notified the Eastern friends of the victories, introduced newcomers to the Faith, spoke before large audiences--giving of Himself in ways that would drain away ordinary physical energy, and with the giving, demonstrating the example of never-ending sacrifice. He urged the unity of the friends and deepened them in the history and the Teachings of the Faith, using many hours for explanations and illustrations. At all times He reflected, like a many-faceted divine diamond, the various attributes which were part of the single light of God, descending on Him through the Blessed Perfection, Baha'u'llah. . . .

"Abdu'l-Baha searched every face and every heart, encouraging the beginners, urging the learners, directing the more advanced, opening vistas of the spiritual world and examples, to enter this world, and while walking on the earth, to react to the divine realities instead of the material facade that covered the true spiritual environment.

"While He had already proclaimed the Faith in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and other places, it was in New York that He stayed day after day, deepening those who came to Him, preparing them to develop new inner eyes, ears, hearts, and minds, bringing together interracial gatherings, trying to get the friends to see the spiritual qualities of each other as a reality.  By Tuesday, July 16, Mahmud observed, 'His extended stay in New York had brought wonderful results among the friends.'

"Each individual's experience with Him was a thread weaving in and out of the experiences each of the others was having.  It was this balance, this whole, that gave the completeness of Abdu'l-Baha's example.  He possessed an unparalleled ability for weaving together in a fabric of love and harmony the inner private development of the mass of individuals who surged to see Him, for making them part of the new World Order.  He taught them so that the new community of believers would grow and develop and become self-perpetuating after His departure. . . ." (239 Days, 109–10)

I think this is one of the clearest and most descriptive and reflective passages in Ward's book. We today cannot imagine the impact the Master had on all who came into His presence, though we can get a glimmer reading such things. And, I think, we can use the centenary year to reflect on the Master's presence in our midst, today.

Allan Ward was my Baha'i teacher, along with his wife and good friend Albert Porter. I so clearly remember the Feasts when Allan would get up to share a bit about the journey of Abdu'l-Baha and how it impacted my formative years in the Faith--and gave me a zeal for its history. May Allan be blessed eternally for his contribution to our understanding. . . .  Surely his book has continued to be a useful resource, especially during this year!

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