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


Friday, August 31, 2012

August 31, 1912 Montreal whirlwind


Montreal; no time for rest! 
Mahmud writes: "In the morning, the pastor of the Unitarian Church came with several others to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master discussed with them the elimination of religious superstitions and prejudices, which are contrary to science and common sense and which are obstacles to the attainment of the foundation of truth of the divine religions.
A newspaper reporter was then announced. He had come to interview the Master about His life and the history of the Cause. `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a detailed account, which was recorded by the reporter.
The Master went to the dinner table. Mr Maxwell had come from the customs house and said that when the inspector opened the first suitcase and saw a picture of the Master, he asked, `Is this the picture of the prophet of Persia?' When he received an affirmative reply, the inspector said, `There is no need to inspect these goods' and released all the luggage.
Some of the newspapers accounts about the visit of the Master are full of reverence and praise.
In the afternoon, at the invitation of Mr Maxwell, the Master went for ride in the town. While in the carriage He remarked:
Every city in which the remembrance of God is raised is a divine city. `Akká was a despised city but when it became the center of the mention of God and the dawning place of His Light, it illumined the world.
When He saw some of the college buildings, `Abdu'l-Bahá said:
As only material education is imparted and only natural philosophy is taught, these universities do not produce highly talented scholars. When both the natural and the divine philosophies are expounded, they will bring forth outstanding souls and evince great advancement. The reason for the success of the Greek schools was that they combined both natural and divine philosophies.
As His carriage passed by the Unitarian Church, He said, `Tomorrow we will raise the Call of God in this place.'
The carriage reached the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame. Everything was quiet and no one was in sight. The Master alighted and went in to see the huge building. With rapt attention, He gazed at the vast cathedral, its ornamentation and numerous statues and spoke of its grandeur and embellishments. Standing in an open space at the entrance, He addressed us saying:
Behold what eleven disciples of Christ have accomplished, how they sacrificed themselves! I exhort you to walk in their footsteps. When a person is detached, he is capable of revolutionizing the whole world. The disciples of Christ met together in consultation on top of a mountain. They pledged themselves to undergo all manner of hardships, to accept every affliction as a bounty and to consider all difficulties easy to overcome. `He who is tied to a family, let him arrange to leave it; he who is not should remain single. He should forgo his comfort and his life.' Consulting thus, they descended from the mountain and each one went a different way and never returned. It is for this reason that they were able to leave behind such achievements. After Christ, the disciples truly forgot themselves, and not merely in word. Hence, the Blessed Beauty cited:
     Either be like women and indulge in adornment and pleasure
     Or like men, come out and throw down the gauntlet. [from Persian poet Saná'í]
`Abdu'l-Bahá took His seat in the carriage again and told us:
On our way to Baghdád we had to put up with unbearable hardships. At one time a Turkish soldier of the Ottoman army appeared before us. Mírzá Yahyá, on seeing the soldier sitting on the horse with majesty and dignity, cried out with great grief and despair, `Oh! Where were we? Where are we now going? They say that all heads will bow. When shall it be?' I said to him in reply, `When the divine bounty attains perfection, persons greater than this soldier will bow their heads under the shadow of the Word of God.' Where is Mírzá Yahyá now? Let him come and see how the power of Bahá'u'lláh has so inspired humility in these Americans, who consider the Turks as nothing, that a person like Mr Maxwell, an American, is with deference serving Mírzá Ahmad [Sohrab], a Persian.
In the evening there was a well-attended meeting at `Abdu'l-Bahá's residence. He spoke, with good effect, about spiritual progress and the manifestation of divine virtues in human realities. Afterwards many requested private interviews. On receiving satisfactory answers to their questions, they expressed their heartfelt gratitude. Among them was the president of a socialist organization who invited the Master to his group. His request was granted. As it grew late in the evening and other people were waiting for private interviews, we suggested that since the Master might be weary, it would be better if the rest of those waiting came back in the morning. He replied, `No, this is the time to work. We must not think of our fatigue. Everyone is to be met.'"

I like the luggage story. Also, the exciting pace of the days in Montreal.

I have read parts of Violette Nakhjavani's book, The Maxwells of Montreal. It brings forth so much of the personal story of May and William Sutherland Maxwell.

May was present during a number of occasions in New York when 'Abdu'l-Bahá was there; her husband was in Montreal--it was around that time his own father died.  On June 13 (see blog entry) there is a marvelous story of  'Abdu'l-Bahá's description of the three hearts--May's, Lua's, and Juliet's.  This shows what a personal connection those three had (have) with Him.

May and Sutherland both were, no doubt, ecstatic about the Master's coming to Montreal. Violette quotes a letter from May, written August 22, 1912: "We have been so wonderfully happy by the glad tidings that  'Abdu'l-Bahá will visit Montreal, and we are all in the utmost joy and expectation! As soon as we hear from Thee the date of thy coming we will announce it in the paper--and prepare a public meeting--and many, many people are already in joy and hope.
     Mr. Thomas, the colored Bahá'í from Washington, has spoken here in the colored people's church--through him I also met them and gave them the Message, and Mr. Gantt, the Minister of the Church has offered his church to address the colored people. We shall do all in our power to enable the people of Montreal to receive the utmost bounty and benefit from the incomparable blessing of Thy adored Presence--and we beg for Thy help and confirmation." (p. 278–79)
Paris 1901 or 02; May Maxwell (then Bolles) sits next to Thomas Breakwell, wearing head scarf

On the 28th  'Abdu'l-Bahá cabled her from Malden: "YOUR LETTER RECEIVED. IN REALITY THOU ART ILLUMINED. WE LEAVE FOR MONTREAL FRIDAY MORNING.  'Abdu'l-Bahá."

"Investigating Reality" was a major theme of  'Abdu'l-Bahá's message to America, and I find it interesting that He describes the "Reality" of May as "Illumined." Her enkindlement was no doubt enhanced during His days in Montreal--I can "feel" it--from 100 years and some miles away. . . . 

It was helpful to GO to Montreal, just a few weeks ago, to see some of the places and breathe the Canadian air and capture the flag flying. . . . What a great blessing that Montreal was a site on the journey!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30, 1912 Oh, Canada! O Canada!



May Maxwell
Departure from Malden -- arrival in Montreal! 
Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá left today for Montreal. The only servants He took with Him were Mírzá Ahmad Sohrab and myself. Because He had decided to travel to the Western part of America at the pressing invitation of the friends in California, He said, `We have a long distance to go and must therefore leave as soon as possible.' For this reason, He instructed Mírzá Valíyu'lláh Khán-i-Varqá, Áqá Mírzá `Alí-Akbar Nakhjávání, Áqá Sa`íd Asad'u'lláh and Dr Getsinger to remain until His return.
As soon as the friends and a group of Arabs saw `Abdu'l-Bahá at the railway station in Boston, they surrounded Him, their faces beaming with joy and enthusiasm. At 9:00 a.m. the train left Boston and reached Montreal at 8:00 p.m. On the way, a Canadian was privileged to speak with `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master pointed out to him the straight path of truth, and even though this individual had known nothing about `Abdu'l-Bahá before this encounter, he was attracted to Him. 
William Sutherland Maxwell
When we arrived at the station, we saw Mr [Sutherland] Maxwell hurrying forward to greet the Master. He had two carriages to convey the Master and His companions to his home. [1548 Pine Avenue West, Montreal] There a group of friends and a newspaper publisher [John Lewis, editor of the Montreal Daily Star] were waiting to see the Master. At the table, Mrs [May] Maxwell said, `So many people have telephoned and sent letters about your arrival and I have replied to all. I have become very tired but I consider this fatigue the greatest comfort of my life.' A pastor had telephoned to ask the Master to address his congregation the day after tomorrow. The editor of the newspaper said that he would publish the announcement the next day. When Mrs Maxwell informed `Abdu'l-Bahá of this, He said, `Very well. You were tired, having undergone such trouble today. You must rest for the time being.'"

ah, the Canadian sojourn has begun!  This will shed imperishable glory upon Canada. The visit of nine days will net more amazing publicity than in anywhere else.  Hearts will be stirred. . . . I'm excited about this part of the Master's travels!  And we were just there--shooting footage and presenting at ABS.  This journey cycles back for us--then thrusts us forward--across time and space! 

A note about the history of the Canadian Bahá'í community, from www.ca.bahai.org:

May & William Sutherland Maxwell, c. 1935.
"The Bahá'í Community of Canada dates from 1898 when Edith Magee, a youth from London, Ontario, became the first Canadian member of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1902 the first Bahá'í group was formed by May and William Sutherland Maxwell in Montreal.
William Sutherland Maxwell was a well-known Canadian architect. He designed such Canadian landmarks as the Château Frontenac Tower in Quebec City, the Legislative Assembly Building in Regina, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, the Church of the Messiah, and many fine residences in Montreal. His wife, May Maxwell, was one of the early Western Bahá'ís when William Sutherland Maxwell met her in Paris in the 1890s.
In 1912, the small band of believers that formed around the Maxwells had the honor of receiving 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son and appointed successor of the Founder of the Faith, Bahá'u'lláh, during his tour of North America. 'Abdu'l-Bahá's addresses at the Church of the Messiah and St. James Methodist Church, at the Trades Union headquarters on St. Lawrence Street, and at the Maxwell's home on Pine Avenue attracted widespread attention from both the press and the public. His talks touched on subjects of economic justice, world peace, and social cohesion. The Maxwell home where 'Abdu'l-Bahá stayed is today the only Bahá'í Shrine in the western hemisphere."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

August 29, 1912 Heavenly rewards


Malden, MA: Receiving visitors every minute; last day
Mahmud writes: "Today was the last day of the Master's stay in Malden. In addition to receiving visitors every minute to bid them farewell, He was busy correcting letters to be posted.
In the evening a joyful meeting was held at His residence. The friends were encouraged as He exhorted them to exert their utmost to promulgate the Word of God. At the end of the meeting He said to Mrs Wilson, `Since my arrival in America I have stayed in but two homes, Mrs Parsons's and yours. God be praised that the divine confirmations have descended on you and that you are assisted in serving the Cause of the Blessed Beauty. You must appreciate the value of this blessing.' Then turning to Miss Englehorn, He said: `I am very pleased with your services. Were you worldly, you would have received your wages but as you are heavenly and divine, your reward is with Bahá'u'lláh.'"
______

This last is probably not a line we should use with employees--even though, of course, the latter reward is undoubtedly a greater benefit--ultimately--than wages! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

August 28, 1912 A new fire of love


Malden, MA: hearts exhilarated, souls grateful, heads bowed
Mahmud writes, "The president of the Theosophical Society begged the Master that at least one of the friends of the Cause be asked to present these new teachings and principles to his society again. The Master replied, `I will appoint a person who will talk to you at several meetings.'
When the enthusiasm of the people at yesterday evening's meeting was mentioned to `Abdu'l-Bahá, He said: `Yes, it was a good meeting. The souls were stirred. The Blessed Beauty sent His confirmations and strong assistance.'
Today a new group of people came to see the Master and to be refreshed. On seeing the spirit which filled the air, their hearts were exhilarated, their souls grateful and heads bowed in respect.
This evening a meeting filled with joy and enthusiasm was held in the home of Mrs Morey in Malden. [34 Hillside Avenue, Malden] `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke about the divine teachings and kindly admonished the audience, setting aglow a new fire of love in their hearts. When He had finished speaking, a woman asked about the purpose and value of the creation of the world. He spoke first of the virtues of the world of humanity and then about nearness to God, which uplifted the audience. But the questioner was preoccupied, she said that she did not understand His explanation. Therefore the Master spoke in parables, explaining that the greatest result of any perfect creation is the love of the Creator for His creation and that the essential nature of the life-giving God is to create and to spread His bounties and in doing so, God enjoys His creation."

Allan Ward notes that Mme. Beale Morey was a musician and that there were nearly 100 guests present, for whom Mme. Morey played at the piano an introductory musical program, after which the Master spoke. (see Ward, 132)

It's a curious description: "On seeing the spirit which filled the air . . . "  Do we "see" this today? Or even "feel" it? 

Last year I noted at Green Acre that no one fainted when I or my fellow teacher Kathy were speaking, as one woman had when Abdu'l-Bahá spoke--then again, no one was wearing a corset!  But the question remains, were people more "spiritual" back then--or did the Master simply evoke a much greater response than anyone we could imagine today?  

Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27, 1912 A Flame from the Kingdom

Malden, MA: `Abdu'l-Bahá as a flame from the Kingdom 

Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá returned to Malden in the morning. He was occupied chiefly in writing letters to the American friends. Believers and seekers came by ones and twos and He lovingly received them.
In the evening there was a well-attended meeting at the Theosophical Society. The gathering became the dawning place of the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom. The chairman of the meeting introduced the Master to an audience of some five hundred saying:
Several months ago I attended a convention on the emancipation of religions in this city. Many people of different religions and sects spoke, each one praising the beliefs of his own sect. But a very august personage then stood. By His bearing and by the first few words of His address, everyone felt that this person was spiritual and divinely inspired; that His explanations were heavenly; that He was speaking from God; that He could transform the souls; that He was with God and was the herald of peace and love; that what He said was first practiced by Himself; and that He was a flame from the Kingdom which brightened and illuminated the minds and hearts of all. That august person was `Abdu'l-Bahá. I am not worthy to introduce His Holiness to you. You will yourselves know Him better than I.
`Abdu'l-Bahá then stood and gave a stirring address concerning the movement of atoms and the infinite forms that compose this contingent world and gave an explanation of the new teachings of the Cause. During the address, every heart and soul was enthralled. After the meeting everyone spoke of feeling the bounties of the Holy Spirit and of the need for these teachings of love and unity."
Isn't that a beautiful introduction of the Master? Most worthy.  I once had a dream that I was at Green Acre, and the evening program would be `Abdu'l-Bahá and the Greatest Holy Leaf. I was to introduce them!  I didn't get to that part in the dream, but I remember sitting with the two of them in the lobby of the Inn and discussing what they might want in introduction.  Can you imagine?

Even without the dream state, we can try to imagine what it was like to know the Master through following His journey. . . . 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

August 26, 1912 Love and faithfulness

Malden, MA: love and faithfulness

Mahmud writes, "At the invitation of Mrs [Alice] Breed [the mother of Florence Breed, who married Ali Kuli Khan], the Master went for an automobile ride along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean through a wide thoroughfare about nine miles long and guarded on the ocean side with iron rails. It is a recreation spot, very green and clean, and `Abdu'l-Bahá praised it highly.
Some of the firm believers came to visit the Master. He spoke to them about love and faithfulness:
This visit is a proof of faithfulness, proof that we have not forgotten one another. In the world of existence nothing is greater than faithfulness, for it allows love to remain unimpaired in spite of the length of time. Behold how faithful were those blessed souls in Persia who, when under the sword, praised the Blessed Beauty. No affliction or persecution could turn them from faithfulness. On the altar of sacrifice they raised cries of `Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá' from their hearts and souls. This is real faithfulness.
In the evening at the girls' school He spoke about the rights and education of women. At the conclusion, everyone came to shake His hand with sincerity and gratitude.
Because `Abdu'l-Bahá was tired and it was too far to go back to Malden, He stayed at a hotel in Boston and went to sleep without supper."

________

The girls' school was at the Franklin Square House, 11 East Newton, which is now used as a residence.  I am not sure which hotel He stayed at.  This is the only photo of Alive Ives Breed that I have found. She is the one who had the birthday cake for Abdu'l-Baha back in May.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

August 25, 1912 Captivating souls


Malden, MA: Captivating the Souls; unusual excitement and happiness . . . 
Mahmud writes: "The superintendent of a girls' school in Boston came with several people to invite the Master to speak to their students. `Abdu'l-Bahá invited another group of friends from Boston and Green Acre who had come to visit Him to stay for lunch.
In the afternoon He went to the New Thought Forum. On the way He stopped by the home of one of the friends whose wife was ill with consumption [tuberculosis]. After comforting and consoling her, He proceeded to the meeting of the society mentioned above. When He entered, the entire audience stood in His honor. After a cordial introduction of welcome, the president of the society announced, without the Master's prior consent, that `Abdu'l-Bahá would speak on the subject of `Captivating the Souls'. Not to embarrass the president, `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke first about the conquest of the cities and towns of the physical world by the kings and then described the conquest of the dominion of the hearts and souls of men by the Manifestations of God. He concluded His talk on the influence and expansion of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh in this contingent world. He then chanted a prayer in His sweet, melodious voice.
As the Master went to the automobile, crowds of excited and joyful people lined the outside of the hall to express their gratitude, entreating Him to come the next day to speak to them again. The automobile drove through Boston and two other towns and passed several historic landmarks on the way back to Malden.
There was unusual excitement and happiness among the friends who came to `Abdu'l-Bahá's home that evening. The Master spoke about 21 of the teachings of this Great Manifestation of God which are needed by the people of the world."
_________

Unusual excitement indeed!  Can you imagine being there?  

Friday, August 24, 2012

August 24, 1912 The Power of the Greatest Name


Maria Wilson's house (now)
 Malden, MA: A stream of new inquirers
Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá was engaged in writing letters to the new Bahá'ís in Dublin and bestowing His favors on them. He also wrote to the friends in the Western states. Later, several visitors arrived from Malden and Dublin to see Him. One was the president of the New Thought Forum who had come from Boston to invite the Master to speak to his society. Two people from Tihrán, Persia, who had come to America on business, also came to see Him. He told them:
The Persians destroyed their home with their own hands in the hope of building another one; but now they are left in the desert without a home or shelter. We wrote and exhorted them, pointing out that the union of government and the people is like combining milk and honey; otherwise, the neighboring governments will encroach upon the country. In spite of all this they malevolently made false accusations against us. But God protected us because we were not involved in shedding the blood of even one Persian.
Inside the Malden house
The newspaper `Fikr' [Thought] was mentioned, and He continued:
In this newspaper our letter speaks for itself. We are far from taking part in any seditious movement and we hold fast to the will of the Lord.
In the afternoon another group came to visit `Abdu'l-Bahá. One was a minister from Chicago, who asked about the sins of men and the forgiveness of the Manifestations of the Merciful One. `Abdu'l-Bahá gave a detailed explanation, which fascinated the minister. The Master stated that forgiveness depends upon our obedience to the admonitions of the Prophets of God and not on the mere verbal statement of belief or on following the words of the ministers of religion.
That evening the friends and seekers of Malden were treated to a talk about the power of the Greatest Name and the unity of nations and peoples. Each day and night witnesses a stream of new inquirers wishing to come into His holy presence."

_____

Our trip to Malden was quite wonderful; Tim spent the night in the home owned by Maria Wilson, now a special Baha'i-owned property. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August 22 & 23, 1912 Home visits, harvests, departure . . .


August 22:  [How did I miss a day?]  Green Acre; harvests reaped from seed sowing; heavenly blessings

Mahmud writes: "So many assembled this morning in the Master's home that there was no room to stand. The Master said that it was not possible to speak to each individually, therefore He stood in front of the group and spoke about the teachings and divine exhortations. At one point He said, `I hope that harvests will be reaped from the seed-sowing and that it will receive heavenly blessings.'
After the meeting the Master gave permission to some earnest seekers to see Him privately. Afterwards, He went to visit the homes of some of the friends.
Today a lady who had survived the Titanic disaster came to see Him. `I am told,' she said, `that you advised not to travel by that ship.'
The Master replied in the affirmative. She questioned, `Did you know that this would happen?' The Master said, `God inspires man's heart.'
When He returned to the Inn, some prominent people came to see Him. In the course of the conversation they said, `We have always understood that religion is opposed to science but we are now indebted to your discourses and teachings for throwing a new light on our thinking.'
The Master gave another talk on these issues for their enlightenment. Another group of people came to visit Him, expressing their heartfelt sorrow that He intended to leave Green Acre. They begged Him to write them a few words in His own handwriting and He wrote brief prayers for them in His exquisite script.
In the afternoon He paid farewell visits to some of the friends at their homes. At each gathering He offered life-giving words and in each home He was as the beloved one who steals hearts. He then returned home extremely exhausted, to the point that He could not even sit down. `Our condition', He said, `is like that of the exhausted iron worker's apprentice whose master said to him, "Die, but pump."'
After a brief rest He went to the hall at Eirenion and gave a talk on unity among the races, the elimination of prejudice amongst the peoples and nations, and the necessity for the oneness of the world of humanity in this enlightened age. At the end He chanted a prayer in such melodious and sweet tones that every heart was attracted to the divine kingdom and every soul turned to the Beauty of the Beloved."

August 23: Green Acre; the last day! Seed sowing; visiting Miss Farmer

Mahmud writes: "In the morning, while the Master was preparing to leave, He said:
We have finished our work here. We have sown a seed. Many souls have been attracted and transformed. Every day we have seen gifts such as fruit, flowers, honey and sweets which have been placed here anonymously and without show. This is a proof of the sincerity of their hearts.
     `Abdu'l-Bahá was delighted to witness the influence of the Word of God on Green Acre. Indeed, it has become a second paradise on earth and had been transformed into verdancy and freshness.
At His instructions, the suitcases were packed and the carriage readied. The believers and seekers were burning with the fire of love, lamenting and shedding tears. `Abdu'l-Bahá sat in the carriage while the friends lined both sides of the road. For as long as the carriage remained in sight, they continued to wave their hats and handkerchiefs in farewell. On the way He stopped to visit Miss Farmer, who fell at His feet weeping and received from the Master His infinite favor and utmost kindness.
     `Abdu'l-Bahá left Green Acre at 10:00 a.m. and reached Malden, Massachusetts, at 1:00 p.m. He arrived at the home of Miss [Marie P.] Wilson, whose invitation to stay at her house He had accepted. A new spirit was breathed into the bodies and a divine happiness was shed upon the hearts.
      As He was tired, `Abdu'l-Bahá did not eat but instead rested for awhile. In the afternoon and evening many friends were honored with meeting Him."

[Don't you wish you had been there?]

From Juliet Thompson's Diary (written 1947):
 "If only I had written of Green Acre day by day while we were there with Him! There are unforgettable things, but so many details - precious details - have slipped away. . . . When we arrived at the Green Acre Inn the Master met us at the door with His loving Marhaba; then He drew me into the dining-room. "She does not want?" He asked in English. I couldn't tell the truth then - but of course He knew.
       Pictures come back to me. Mamma and I following Him down a path to the Eirenion, where He was to speak to the believers. He was all in white in the dark. Mamma whispering to me:  "It is like following a Spirit."
      A tussle day after day to keep Mamma in Green Acre, in which dear Carrie Kinney helped me.
      A night when a horrifying young man came to a meeting at the Kinney's house. From head to foot he was covered with soot. His blue eyes stared out from a dark gray face. This was Fred Mortenson. He had spent half his boyhood and young manhood in a prison in Minneapolis. Our beloved Albert Hall, who was interested in prison work, had found him and taken him out on parole and given him the Baha'i Message.  But Albert Hall was dead when the Master came to America.
      Fred Mortenson, hearing that 'Abdu'l-Baha was in Green Acre, and having no money to make the trip, had ridden the bumpers to His Presence.
      He came into the meeting and sat down and was very unhappy when the Master, pacing back and forth as He talked, took no notice of him. "It must be that He knows I stole a ride" thought Fred (who told me all about it afterward.) But no sooner was the meeting over and the Master upstairs in His room than He sent for Fred.
      Fred had said nothing to anyone about his trip on the bumpers--but minute he entered that upstairs room the Master asked smiling and with twinkling eyes : "How did you enjoy your ride?"  Then He took from Fred's hand his soot-covered cap  and kissed it.
      Years later, during the first world-war, when the American believers sent ten thousand dollars for the relief of the starving Arabs, the messenger they chose to carry the money through the warring countries was--Fred Mortenson.
      The Master declined the ten thousand dollars, relieving the Arabs Himself by His own hard labor. He went to His estate near Tiberius and Himself ploughed the fields there; then stored all the grain in the Shrine of the Bab. For this He was knighted by Great Britain when British rule replaced Turkish in Palestine. . . .
      But to return to Green Acre.  One day the Master, speaking from the porch of somebody's cottage, while the believers sat on the grass below, made this fascinating statement:  "We are in affinity now because in pre-existence we were in affinity."  "Let's ask Him what He means by that" whispered Carrie to me.  So, in the evening, while the Master was in our room—Mamma's and mine—and Carrie was sitting there with us, I put the question to Him.    "I will answer you later" He said.  But He never did—outwardly.
      In a minute or so Mamma, with that funny boldness of hers which would sometimes burst through her timidity, said: "Master, I would like to see You without Your turban."  He smiled. "It is not our custom, Mrs. Thompson, to take off our turbans before ladies, but for your sake I will do it."  And oh the beauty we saw then! There was something in the silver hair flowing back from His high forehead, something in the shape of the head, which, in spite of His age, made me think of Christ.
      There was another night—when Carrie, Mamma and I and a few other believers were sitting in the second-floor hall. Suddenly, on the white wall of the floor above, at the head of the staircase the Master's great shadow loomed. Mamma slipped over to the foot of the stairs and looking up with adoring eyes, called: "Master!"
       And still another night. This was our third in Green Acre. Again we were sitting in the second-floor hall, but now the Master was in our midst.  "We must say goodbye tomorrow" Mamma said to Him.  "Oh no, Mrs. Thompson" He laughed, "You are not going tomorrow. One more day" and He laughed again. "You see, I am leaving for Boston day after tomorrow and you are of My own family. Therefore you must travel with Me."  And Mamma submitted now with a satisfaction wonderful to see. She was proud as a peacock. "He said I was of His own Family" she kept repeating to me.
       Once He called Mamma and me into His room and among other things He said was this:  "There are correspondences, Mrs. Thompson, between Heaven and earth and Juliet's correspondence in Heaven is Mary of Magdala."

 Copied from Louise Thompson's diary at Eliot, Maine 7/28/1962  "'Abdu'l-Baha spoke under the Pines (Lysekloster) on Non Essentials, Nature as contrasted with Phenomenal beings. He drew a great distinction between the activities by which man satisfies a want or alleviates a discomfort and those activities which bring enjoyment to themselves.
       He pointed out the satisfaction of animal needs has no enduring and eternal quality about it. He said when a man is thirsty he drinks water, when he is hungry he eats food but if a man be not thirsty drinking water gives him no pleasure and if his hunger is already satisfied food is distasteful to him. He said, this is not so with spiritual enjoyment. Spiritual enjoyments always bring maximum joy. The love of God brings endless happiness. These are joys in themselves and not elevations. The life of the animal is more simple than that of man. Animals have all their needs satisfied for them. All the grains of the meadow are free to them. The birds build their nests in the branches of trees and the palaces of Kings are not so beautiful. If earthly needs were all then the animals are better supplied than man. Man has another food, the heavenly manna of the Knowledge of God. All the Divine Prophets and Manifestations appeared in this world that this heavenly manna might be given to man. This is the food which fosters spiritual growth and strength and causes pure illumination in the souls of men. They become filled with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. They receive knowledge of God in those virtues which belong to the world of humanity. They attain to the very image of God. What greater joy is there than this? When they invoke God's favor at the Divine Threshold their minds become open' they enter into spiritual fullness and make discoveries. By this he enjoys ecstasies of the spirit and sees the world illumined. They are endowed with insight; they become in full tune with the bounties of God and see them face to face acquiring in themselves the virtues of the Manifestations. Thus it is that man shall attain to the uttermost of the Holy Ones and the saints.
      If man could not attain to this illumination and these bounties the animal world would be better than he, for it is not deficient in anything. When man is deprived of the illumination of God he feels a lack and a shortcoming on his part.
      God created in us a divine holy spirit, the human spirit with its intellectual powers which are above the powers of nature. By this he enjoys ecstasies of the spirit and sees the world illumined. The tree and the stone have not this power. They have no mind or soul, therefore they are excused. This power gives man effectual control over nature. He is enabled to discover reality and bring invisible things into the visible enabling him to render effective the Will of God and give it material station. This is what was meant by His Holiness Baha'u'llah when he said:
         "Verily WE have created thee rich, why have ye made yourselves poor." And Christ, when he said, "The Father is in Me and I in you." It was this power that through Baha'u'llah said, "Noble have I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself." This power distinguished you above all other creatures, why do you devote it only to your material condition. This great gift should be used for the acquisition and manifestation of the bounties of God, that you may be established in the Kingdom of God among men and attain to happiness in both worlds, the visible and invisible."    Abdu'l-Bahá

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

August 21, 1912 Renewed enthusiasm, ardor, and love


Green Acre; an auspicious day!

Mahmud wrote: "During the visit of a group of Bahá'ís with the Master, a young girl came in and said, `I have come to ask for your assistance. Please tell me what I am fitted to do so that I may occupy myself with it.' The Master asked, `Do you have trust in me?' She replied, `Yes.' He then said to her, `Be a perfect Bahá'í. Associate with Bahá'ís. Study the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Then you will be assisted in whatever you undertake to do.' She then said, `I am a good Jewess.' The Master then said:
A good Jew can also become a Bahá'í. The truth of the religion of Moses and of Bahá'u'lláh is one. Turn toward Bahá'u'lláh and you will acquire peace and tranquillity, you will hear the melody of the Kingdom, you will stir people's souls and you will attain the highest degree of perfection. Be assured of this.
When she heard the Master's words she was so impressed that she threw herself at His feet and wept.
`Abdu'l-Bahá explained some aspects of the divine philosophy and teachings to the pastor of the Portsmouth church. The pastor said that he had included some of these teachings in his pamphlets and some people had taken offence. The Master said, `Constancy in all things brings forth fruitful results.'
Mrs Tatum said, `I feel so dejected today. I am unhappy with myself.' The Master replied:
This is a sign of progress. The person who is satisfied with himself is the manifestation of Satan and the one who is not satisfied is the manifestation of the Merciful One. An egotist does not progress but the one who thinks himself imperfect will seek perfection for himself and will progress. If a man has a thousand good qualities, he must not look at them. He must search always for his shortcomings. For example, if a man has a building which is well-constructed and fully decorated but which has a small crack in one of its walls, he will, no doubt, forget the rest and turn his whole attention to repairing that crack. Furthermore, the attainment of absolute perfection for a human being is impossible; thus, however much he may progress he is still imperfect and has above him a point higher than himself. And the instant he sees this point he will not be satisfied with himself. It is for this reason that when someone called Christ `Good Master', He replied that there is only One who is good and that is God.
Another lady told `Abdu'l-Bahá that she had lectured in America on universal brotherhood and unity. She was pleased to see the Master in America promulgating these high ideals and that she was going to continue to spread these teachings in the Western states of America. The Master said to her:
We must endeavor as much as we can to exterminate spite and perversity so that people may be delivered from the shackles of superstition. You must serve in this way and become the cause of the unity of the world of men.
He spoke in the same vein with everyone. There were two people, Dr and Mrs Moore, who had been antagonistic towards the Cause of God from the very beginning. However, they had become so attracted and transformed that they came into the Master's presence with great humility and pledged themselves to the service of the truth. The transformation of such people is a momentous task which will produce great results.
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá went by automobile to the home of Mrs [Kate] Ives and sat next to the driver, which is where members of His entourage usually sit. He sat there until the party arrived. When a number of the friends had gathered, He went with them to the hill of Monsalvat. As soon as He arrived about four hundred people sang songs of praise to Him in unison. He addressed this gathering on the necessity of founding the school for the investigation of religions which Miss Farmer wished to establish on that mountain. A moving picture of this gathering was taken.  [See below, in 3 sections. It's published in the Baha'i World. Abdu'l-Baha is in the third section.]

 
The gathering was also characterized by a renewed enthusiasm, ardor and love, which seemed to draw all hearts. It was an auspicious day.
He then went to Mrs [Esther Annie] Magee's home where He dined with a group of friends. He spoke to them about the proofs and evidences of the existence of God and the composition of elements according to the will of the Almighty."

Oh, for a walk with the Master on Monsalvat!  What a glorious day! 

Monday, August 20, 2012

August 20, 1912 Riding the rails to see 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Green Acre; a new people; infinite love; Sarah in a state of rapture; Fred Mortensen . . . the Feast                  
Fred Mortensen is next to his lawyer, 
Albert Hall (right) Minneapolis

Fred Mortensen
Mahmud writes: "Among the friends visiting the Master was Fred Mortensen, a youth who, prior to embracing the Cause, had been a fugitive from justice but was now very humble and tranquil. Despairing of seeing the Master, who had not made known His plans to visit the West, he traveled from Minneapolis to visit Him. Because he could not afford to pay the price of a ticket from Minneapolis to Green Acre, he had ridden the rods under the train and in this way reached Chicago and Green Acre. He explained everything about his journey to the Master, who then told him, `You are my guest.' Each day the Master bestowed kindness upon him and a few days later He gave him money to pay for his journey home. Unknown to anyone, the Master paid for many such expenses. Twice He sent a speaker from New York to Chicago and adjacent cities and on each occasion, although the person was rich, `Abdu'l-Bahá gave him more than enough money to defray the expenses of his journey. In addition, He liberally contributed to the poor and to the churches [in which He spoke] in every city. [See also Fred's own account.]
 After speaking with the friends, He went to Miss Farmer's temporary residence [in Portsmouth]. When she saw `Abdu'l-Bahá, she fell into such a state of rapture that every heart was moved. After comforting her and the others, at Dr LeRoy's request He went to see places of historic interest, including a yard where battleships were being built [the Navy Yard in Kittery]. This activity did not please the Master. On His return He said:
While the Manifestations of God are still alive, the people do not appreciate their value, they curse and execrate them; but after their ascension they worship them. Such is the case with these tent-dwellers who live outside Green Acre. Even Columbus and some ancient philosophers like Socrates were made to suffer but after a time the people took pride in praising them.
This afternoon, under the Persian pines and cypresses of that lovely plain, three hundred people heard `Abdu'l-Bahá draw a picture of the vista of everlasting life, its spiritual stations and eternal blessings. He then went to the `Bahá'í House' where we were all His guests. Following His walk after supper, the Master stood at the front hall of the house and spoke. People were even standing in the street to listen to Him. He spoke so beautifully about the relationship of the East and the West that passersby stopped to hear what He had to say.
People on porch of Staples, where the Feast was held. Note Japanese lanterns
(used to decorate the road when Abdu'l-Baha arrived). 
In the evening there was musical entertainment and dancing in the hall of the Inn. `Abdu'l-Bahá said, `Such gatherings and practices are the cause of the corruption of morals.' He also said this evening, `My thoughts are wholly absorbed by this journey. I can think of nothing else because the outcome of this journey is so great. Up to now in the Cause of the Blessed Beauty a development as great as this has not occurred.'"

The OUTCOME of the journey!  How we are living part of that now!  Blessings upon blessings! 


I am reminded of a special reference to Green Acre On July 1, from a talk in New York:
"I desire to make manifest among the friends in America a new light that they may become a new people, that a new foundation may be established and complete harmony be realized; for the foundation of Baha'u'llah is love.  When you go to Green Acre, you must have infinite love for each other, each preferring the other before himself.  The people must be so attracted to you that they will exclaim, "What happiness exists among you!" and will see in your faces the lights of the Kingdom; then in wonderment they will turn to you and seek the cause of your happiness.  You must give the message through action and deed, not alone by word.  Word must be conjoined with deed.  You must love your friend better than yourself; yes, be willing to sacrifice yourself.  The Cause of Baha'u'llah has not yet appeared in this country.  I desire that you be ready to sacrifice everything for each other, even life itself; then I will know that the Cause of Baha'u'llah has been established.  I will pray for you that you may become the cause of upraising the lights of God.  May everyone point to you and ask, "Why are these people so happy?"  I want you to be happy in Green Acre, to laugh, smile and rejoice in order that others may be made happy by you.  I will pray for you.  (`Abdu'l-Bahá,  The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 218)



Sunday, August 19, 2012

August 19, 1912 A delight of its own


Date unknown
Green Acre: Spiritual and Material Education


Mahmud writes: "Among the friends was a lady who had come from Brooklyn to ask `Abdu'l-Bahá's permission to go to Utica. He kindly said to her:
     Put your trust in the Blessed Beauty. Every momentous work that one undertakes has difficulties in the beginning. One should withstand such difficulties with the utmost steadfastness. We who wish to raise this magnificent edifice must be as brave as the soldiers who are intent on conquering strong fortresses.
     Later He walked to Mrs Taylor's home. Resting in the foyer, He praised the climate and beauty of the surroundings, saying:
     Here on a moonlit night, when the moon is in its full brilliance, when the stars are shining and the air      is pure and a sweet breeze is wafting, at such a time to pray and weep before the Court of God has a delight of its own.
As He left there He encountered some women who were fortune tellers. Some read palms and others interpreted dreams. They all voiced their opinion that `Abdu'l-Bahá possessed divine spirit and heavenly power. He showered kindness on all of them then returned to the Inn and gave a talk about superstitious beliefs and the severe discipline and asceticism of the Hindus.
He also visited a residence known as the Bahá'í House. He praised it, saying, `It would have been good if we had stayed here.' The Master then gave instructions for the Nineteen Day Feast to be held the following day, saying: `Tomorrow I will host the festivity.'
In the afternoon He was invited to a summer school for girls held on the Green Acre common. Mrs Tatum drove Him in her automobile. There He sat on the grass near the bank of the river as the students pitched their tents and began their exercises. The principal and a teacher gave Him information about the school. A group had assembled under the trees to hear the Master's address. With great reverence, the superintendent of the school introduced the Master. He then gave an eloquent talk on both spiritual and material education which drew much admiration from the audience. Afterwards the chairman and school mistress thanked the Master and expressed everyone's appreciation for His talk. The students then stood and sang in praise of `Abdu'l-Bahá in such sweet tones that everyone was enchanted. When the Master left everyone went to the automobile to shake His hand and to express their gratitude.
In the evening `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on the everlasting dominion of God and His Holy Manifestations. After the talk He answered questions."

I am there in spirit, reliving these days, but too tired to write more. . . . 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

August 18, 1912 A wonderful impression . . .


Green Acre: a wonderful impression . . . 
'Abdu'l-Bahá at Green Acre

Mahmud writes: "It was a rainy day. The Master was occupied until noon counseling the friends to devote their time in teaching the Cause of God and advising them not to interfere in the affairs of the Green Acre Fellowship. Lunch was prepared by Mrs Kinney. `Abdu'l-Bahá said: `A little soup would have sufficed me. A variety of foods makes me ill.'
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá gave an impressive talk to a gathering of liberal-minded visitors concerning the renewal of religious laws and the oneness of the Manifestations of God. A wonderful impression was produced on the whole audience as His melodious voice rang with majestic tones, moving the chairman of the conference to tears. As the Master was offering a prayer, one lady stood up and then fainted. When she regained consciousness she said that the power of the meeting overwhelmed her. It seemed to her that everyone in the audience was flying in heaven.
When the Master left this gathering, He met some people who were singing. He said to them, `We listen always to your terrestrial music, now it would be well for you to give ear to our celestial songs.' After seeing to things in the kitchen, He came out to meet a number of the friends who had come to seek His advice on personal matters. He gave each His special attention. When Miss Edna McKinney, who had transcribed His addresses in English, came into His presence, He said to her, `Thou art a maidservant who in the Kingdom of God is among the near ones. I desire the confirmation and protection of the Abhá Kingdom for you.' He also expressed extraordinary kindness for Mrs Parsons, Mrs Goodall, Mrs Cooper, Mrs Krug and Miss Juliet Thompson, who were not present. He advised Mrs Kinney not to wish for too rapid progress at once in the emancipation of women."

He must have infused the women especially with such hope for change--and then was kind enough to advise them not to expect too much at once. 

See the Master's talks herehttp://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/PUP/ 

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 17, 1912 Clearing the cobwebs


Green Acre: ah! paradise

Mahmud writes: The beloved Master's health was better and He was happy. He spoke of the pleasant climate of Green Acre and visited with friends and seekers until He left for a walk. On the way to Mr [Charles Mason] Remey's house the Master was accompanied by a group to whom He spoke about many spiritual truths. When He arrived, Mr Remey offered Him a cup of water, saying that he had longed for many years to invite the Master and that he thanked God for being given the honor to offer Him a cup of water. The Master said:
Your home is simple and furnished plainly. People are captivated by the superfluities of the present generation. It is impossible for a man to furnish his house in utmost perfection. The more he tries the more he finds it lacking because every day new products are manufactured. People have filled their lives with difficulties.
Later the Master went to the home of Mrs [Carrie] Kinney. There He spoke about material progress and the philosophers' lack of feeling for the spiritual kingdom, saying that `This is befitting of animals. Truth must be sought and laid bare. No one should endeavor to force upon people what he conceives. The brilliant reality, which is the spirit of the world today, is one. It can never be multiple.' He uttered such statements on numerous occasions and in various ways. Because Green Acre is known as a center for religious freedom and advanced liberal views, many fortune-tellers, spiritualists and ascetics come here every year to spread their superstitious views. The discourse of the Center of the Covenant completely swept away the cobwebs of their superstitions. They were checked to such a degree that some of the impostors, who in previous years had delivered lectures contrary to the Cause of God, now came to see Him, bowing before Him and repenting. Some of them begged Him to heal them, saying, `You have healed many.' The Master replied:
We pray but God bestows healing. We do not make claims for ourselves. We are only the expounders of the Word. We are all promulgating the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. I am `Abdu'l-Bahá. Bahá'u'lláh is the Dawning Place of Holiness. Address your needs to Him. I am only the expounder and promulgator of the Word. Bahá'u'lláh is the Source, the One Who has illumined this dark world, made corporeal into spiritual, quickened the dormant minds, changed the earthly souls into heavenly ones and given life to the dead and sight to the blind.
That night He delivered an address on the unity of mankind in the east hall of the Eirenian. On His return to the Inn He spoke with the audience in jests which nevertheless touched on many important subjects. He offered sweets to some visitors who, following the superstitious ideas of the ascetics, did not eat certain foods. He dispelled their beliefs by saying, `Food has nothing to do with faith. Rather, you should eat things to gain strength and you should acquire spirituality.'"

 17 August 1912  Talk at Green Acre  Eliot, Maine  Notes by Edna McKinney

     The physical beauty of this place is very wonderful.  We hope that a spiritual charm 
may surround and halo it; then its beauty will be perfect.  There is a spiritual atmosphere 
manifest here particularly at sunset. . . . (follow link below to continue to all of the talks He 
gave on the 17th. But I seem to have a margin problem--maybe it's easier to go to Mahmúd's Diary
--see resources. )