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


Sunday, September 30, 2012

September 30, 1912 The panacea for all ills

Salt Lake City, en route to California; visualization; divine law; spiritual education

Mahmud writes: "The Master left the Keynon Hotel in Salt Lake City to continue His journey to California. He spoke on various subjects. The following are some of His words:
The Cause of God is penetrating. It will encompass the whole world. Now as I observe the wilderness of America, I see it full of Bahá'ís. Formerly, when we asserted in the East that international peace and unity of nations was a necessity, the people laughed at us. Now behold the congresses of peace that have come into existence. The law of God is the panacea for all ills because it is in accordance with the needs of the realities of creation. Legislators have devoted considerable discussion to this point. The most distinguished of them concluded that the laws must be derived from the necessary relations inherent in the reality of things. But the divine Manifestation asserted that to institute such laws is beyond human capacity, for human intelligence cannot encompass the realities of things, nor can it comprehend the essential relationships of such realities. Therefore, divine law is necessary, as it embraces the realities and penetrates all things.
Today the Master was in the best of health and happiness. In spite of all the hardships of the long journey, He was as charmingly fresh as a flower. With unmitigated joy He mentioned the Blessed Beauty, Bahá'u'lláh.
In the afternoon He spoke about spiritual education and intellectual training:
Peter was devoid of all schooling and so untrained that he could not remember the days of the week. He would tie up seven loaves of bread and open one each day. When he opened the seventh parcel he would know that it was the seventh day and that he had to go to the synagogue. However, under Christ his spiritual education was such that he became the cause of the enlightenment of the world. Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God!
I remember once in Tihrán when I was a child, I was sitting by Áqá Siyyid Yahyá Vahíd when Mírzá `Alíy-i-Sayyáh came in wearing the táj and carrying the rod of a dervish and with his bare feet covered with mud. Someone asked him where he was coming from. He replied that he had come from the fortress of Máh-Kú, from the august presence of the Báb. Vahíd arose immediately and threw himself at the feet of Sayyáh, and with tears streaming down his face he rubbed his beard on Sayyáh's feet saying, `He has come from the court of the Beloved.' Although Vahíd was a renowned and illustrious person, still he was humble before the servants of the Threshold of God.
Among the interesting things we saw along the way were the wooden covers over the railroad tracks. For a distance of some 50 miles deep passes are snow bound during the entire winter and become impassable for the trains. Now, owing to these covers, the difficulties are removed and the train can pass easily through the area. In English, these covers are called snow sheds. The history of California records that in olden times many people became snowbound and perished in these parts. One example is the the Donner party, the story of whose demise is very sad."
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It is great to think of the Master as full of joy and optimism.  That He could visualize the future should come as no surprise--but that He sees and expresses it in the "wilderness" (instead of populated areas) is interesting, indeed. It's as if the travel led to the expansion of His thoughts, the freeing of His mind.  The train trip continues westward--no doubt those who await Him are increasingly excited!  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

September 29, 1912 Irrigating the field of hearts


Salt Lake City; irrigating the field of hearts; visit to the State Fair; no time to sow seeds; purchasing literal seeds
Kenyon Hotel, 1909 (The Master chose to stay here
rather than the more opulent Salt Lake City Hotel)
Mahmud writes: "In the morning several newspaper reporters who had heard of His arrival came to see the Master. They were fascinated with `Abdu'l-Bahá's words concerning the history and teachings of the Cause of God. To one of them He said:
When I entered this city, I saw there was quite a stir. I asked the reason and was told that an agricultural convention was being held. I remarked that Bahá'u'lláh, too, organized a convention in Persia. The difference is that your congress is of this world but Bahá'u'lláh's is divine. Great persons have come to the congress but their motive is earthly as they have assembled to consider questions concerning agriculture. But in that other congress holy ones have gathered who irrigate the field of hearts with the water of eternal life, as their motive is heavenly. This congress is decorated with earthly lamps while that is embellished with heavenly lights. The music of this is terrestrial while the strains of that are celestial. This convention meets in a private hall while that gathering is held under the tent of the unity of mankind and international peace. The queen of this congress is a lady bedecked with ornaments and embellishments of this mortal world but the king of that congress is the King of the Throne of Eternity, Whose sovereignty is divine. When I compared these two congresses I became extremely glad and prayed that God may bless your farming and bestow upon you spiritual strength and capacity for life everlasting.
Today many were attracted by the Master's visit with us to the State Fair. [See account of Feny E. Paulson, 239 Days, 159–63.] He had been invited to the hotel by some delegates while others pleaded with Him to prolong His stay. Because of the shortness of time, He could not accept their invitation. `If we had time,' He said, `some seeds would have been sown in this city, too. But the people are enjoying the celebration and we have no time at our disposal.'
This city is called the City of the Mormons because the majority of its inhabitants are of the Mormon denomination which allows polygamy and divorce.
In the afternoon the Master went to the place specifically set out and decorated for the agricultural exhibition. Alighting from the tram, He went to the exhibit of agricultural machines for plowing, planting and harvesting. He asked about their usage and cost. He then went to the vegetable and grain section and the fruit section. The Master praised the agricultural progress of America. The fruits and vegetables exhibited were among the finest specimens of grapes, apples, pears, pomegranates, cabbages and very large pumpkins, all of many colors and of varieties that we had not seen before.
The section manager saw the Master among the visitors and came towards us and the interpreter, asking to be introduced to Him. He accompanied the Master, offering Him samples of many fruits (even though the purchase, sale and consumption of these items was strictly prohibited). He described to `Abdu'l-Bahá the various methods of agriculture and then concluded the tour at the grain and mineral display. The Master told us to purchase seeds of some of the fruits and flowers so they could be sent to the Holy Land to be planted at the Most Holy Shrine.
As He was returning to the hotel, the Master saw a Cardinal walking proudly with people on his way to dedicate a church. This Cardinal had heard about the Master and had spoken about the false Christ, thus he was often mentioned by the Master in His meetings."

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Interesting how the Master takes such interest in the agricultural progress of America--and gets to taste some of the specimens.  And buys seeds!

One wonders if it was because of so many Mormons He did not feel inclined to stay there long.

Feny Paulson's account of going to Salt Lake City, where she attended the State Fair with the Master, describes the spectacle of seeing His "flowing-robed figure . . . with majestic bearing" followed by His oriental companions--which was reported in the paper the next day. But her description of her own interview with Him is most interesting.  To preface it, she describes the degree of filth in the YWCA, where she stayed, "a dead fly in the German fries, a chicken wing with all the feathers (so it seemed), roaches at the soda fountain. . . ."

They met at the Kenyon Hotel, where 'Abdu'l-Bahá was staying. "Luxury and comfort are not the all-important things in this life," He told her.  Then,
"The Master served tea, saying, 'This is the Lord's Supper you are having with Me.' . . .
He also said, "I am your Father." That was to take the place of the father I had never remembered, and whom I had so often tried to recall.
'Abdu'l-Bahá was the Supreme Psychiatrist.
At the end of the interview the Master took a Baha'i stone, pressed it to His forehead, then placed it on each of my eyes, His lips moving silently in a prayer or blessing. He also gave me a locket-sized likeness of Himself as a father gives a treasure to one of His children.
. . . Although the details of each person in the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bahá are individually different, they are the means to the same end--spiritual progress. Incidents forgotten and hidden in the recesses of one's being, in His presence, are in a flash perceived and unobtrusively aired, alchemized as it were, removing veils that inhibit necessary spiritual development. The problems and burdens that were but stepping stones in the past become non-essentials in the light of His divine love. . . ." (Ward, 162)

Wouldn't you love to have a private interview? What would He say to engender spiritual development in each of us?  Would He play the role of Father, comforter, admonisher, friend, servant? 

We are in Glenwood Springs, to celebrate the commemoration here! What joy!

Friday, September 28, 2012

September 28, 1912 Filled with wonder



En route to Salt Lake City; the Master expresses wonder at the trip 
Mahmud writes: "The train passed through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Some of these rose precipitously like walls from the railway bed, formidable and immense. Gazing at their summits one felt as if the mountains would fall down. There were some special roofless observation cars on the train so that passengers might have a full view of the majestic mountains. In these observation cars the passengers could see the mountains on the right and the serene river on the left. As the train passed through these beautiful scenes, the Master said:
Dear friends, the waves of the bounties of the Blessed Beauty are surging. As I look I see the ocean of His favor swelling and saying, `I am with you.' Truly, were it not for these glad tidings and His assistance, what could I have done? Just one person alone in the east and west of America, in the mountains and wilderness --it is no light matter. It is easy to say these things but it was unimaginable that they would let us into these churches. See how His aid and favor descend upon us. This trip fills us with wonder! Offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty that He has bestowed such confirmations upon us.

Later, the Master told stories about the time of Muhammad, the Messenger of God, and mentioned the cave and His words, `God is indeed with us'.
The train reached Salt Lake City in the afternoon. The Master decided to stay in the city for one night. By chance, even as the city was being blessed by His footsteps, a large national agricultural convention was being held and the entire city was festively decorated."
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The trip is, indeed, wondrous, and once we get absorbed by it, we get closer to God's bounties. 

It is mysterious, this tie between the past and present, between the East and West, between souls here and souls there in the next world. . . . 

The great expanse of the western states, with the mountains and large sky, must have tremendously inspired the Master and His entourage. . . . 

And we are heading west tomorrow--but still have sections of the film to edit and are so tired!  May God sustain us! 


Thursday, September 27, 2012

September 27, 1912 A respite


Hotel Colorado
Glenwood Springs, Colorado; respite; baths; lunch on lawn; illness of Thornton Chase

Mahmud writes: "After morning tea, the Master left the hotel for a walk. Three magnificent mountains stood in the distance on three sides, each crowned with trees and adorned with flowers of many hues. They were like peacock feathers and had a unique beauty from every viewpoint. `Abdu'l-Bahá strolled in the spacious garden and boulevard adjacent to the hotel until He reached the river where there were bath houses and hot springs. On the other side of the river, spanned by a two-story bridge, the tall buildings of the city could be seen rising high on the horizon. 
Vapor caves (baths)


Train depot, Glenwood Springs
At the insistence of His companions the Master went to the baths with the entire party, thus bestowing upon us everlasting honor. The rooms and bathing facilities were magnificent. In a special room hot water gushed from a natural cave. It was so hot that a person could not stay more than 15 minutes. Coming out of the bath, the Master said:
Today I am relieved of fatigue. We have been to many lovely places during this journey but because of our work we had no time to look at the scenery. We did not even think of a moment's rest. Today, however, we have had a little respite.
Plaque commemorating visit
As the Master viewed the clear, transparent waters of the river shining like pure pearls and the majestic mountains and parks, He said, `May God not have mercy on the tyrants who kept the Blessed Beauty imprisoned between four walls in `Akká. How such scenes were loved by Him! Once He said that He had not seen greenery for several years.'
When He returned to the hotel He stood outside in the garden and said, `It would be good to eat here.' The garden was adjacent to a large pond with fish of various colors and was enclosed on three sides by the hotel structure. Having seen the Denver newspapers, the hotel manager recognized the Master and us from photographs. Without waiting for the Master's request, the manager instructed the waiters to serve lunch in the garden. A large table was spread with beautiful chairs. The Master sat down and instructed His companions to do the same. Both before and after lunch the Master generously tipped the waiters. When the residents of the hotel saw the majesty and glory of the Master they told others. Groups of people approached Him. Others watched from their rooms and balconies. Many were heard to say, `How nice to dine this way. It is evident that this is a very prominent person.' Gradually the purpose of `Abdu'l-Bahá's mission dawned upon the hotel guests as they were informed of the Cause of God.
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá took a walk in the garden and to some shops. While we were crossing a bridge, a messenger approached with some telegrams for us. One of them informed the Master that Mr [Thornton] Chase was seriously ill in a Los Angeles hospital. This made the Master and us very sad. He repeatedly mentioned the faithfulness of Mr Chase. Later He said: 
To turn to the Covenant is to obey the Blessed Beauty which is a cause of gathering together the people of Bahá. Let me explain clearly. The command to the people of Islam to prostrate before the black stone was simply a command to obey the Prophet of God and to prove the influence of the Cause of God. Now, were it not for the Word of the Blessed Beauty, we would be like everyone else and not different in the least.
The Master and His party left Glenwood Springs at about midnight."
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He arrived around 2 am and left only 22 hours later--but what  marvelous place to have a respite! 
We discovered the baths He went to--not the large pool across from the hotel, but the Yampah Vapor Caves, just down the road from the Hotel.

The fish are still in the pond; the hotel still stands. No one knows which room (suite) He stayed in with His entourage--but they think it is one on the third or fourth floor, facing the courtyard.  The hotel is a charming place--still beautiful and historic. The trees are much taller now!  We took a lot of footage there and had fun with the costumed recreations. 

And now--we are returning on Friday, to celebrate their commemoration there! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

September 26, 1912

Denver; best and worst of souls; meat-eating; publicity; maturity; train travel
Mahmud writes: "As He intended to leave Denver, His talks with the believers became exhortations. He said:
I hope that you will be under the protection of God, will succeed in rendering service to humanity and will always be a source of happiness to every heart. The best person is he who wins all hearts and is not the cause of grief to anyone. The worst of souls is he who causes hearts to be agitated and who becomes the cause of sadness. Always endeavor to make people happy and their hearts joyful so that you may become the cause of guidance to mankind. Proclaim the Word of God and diffuse the divine fragrances.
Someone asked Him about eating meat. He replied:
God has appointed provision for every living creature. To birds He has given beaks so that they pick up seeds. To animals such as cows and goats He has given teeth like scythes in order that they may eat grass. To carnivores He has given claws like forks and canine teeth so that they may prey because they cannot eat grass. Their food is meat. But man's food is not meat for he has not been created with means to eat flesh. God has given him beauty of form and has created him blessed and not rapacious and bloodthirsty.
The Master's train left Denver at 9:00 a.m. Some of the articles that had been published in the Denver newspapers were translated for Him. They made His heart very happy as they described the spread of the teachings of God in that city and contained translations of `Abdu'l-Bahá's words. Among them was the translation of these words:
The contingent world is like the human body that has grown from the embryonic state and reached maturity and perfection. It may be said that the development of the human being from the beginning of life to the age of maturity is but a preparation for the appearance of the power of reason. This is the age of maturity and the time of the manifestation of the Most Great Intellect and the Most Ancient Bounty so that divine and material civilizations may be joined and the perfection of the human world may dawn.
Around midnight `Abdu'l-Bahá became fatigued owing to the speed and motion of the train. We proposed that because California was still some distance away, if He would consent, it might be a good idea to stop for two or three days. At 2:00 a.m. the train reached Glenwood Springs, beautifully situated near many hot springs. We stayed at the Hotel Colorado, which is a fine hotel overlooking the river, nestled among green parks and wooded mountains."
Rob Stockman specifies: "There being no train line running due west—the Rockies at Denver were too steep and high for the trains of the day—the train first went south to Pueblo, then northwest around the Front Range, past the spectacular Royal Gorge, through the 'Two Mile High' city of Leadville, then downhill and westward along the Colorado River."

The mountains are high and the route may have been rugged--no wonder He was a bit ill.  Coming up, we are going to Glenwood Springs again!  A place of such beauty and delight!
Tonight I am in Little Rock, having read a story I wrote at the Starving Artist Cafe, which was recorded for NPR, and then going to see an incredible documentary on Harry Belafonte, "Sing Your Song," so I am so tired. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 25, 1912 A fire aglow in the hearts


Denver; Giving their hearts to `Abdu'l-Bahá 
Mahmud writes: "Most of the people coming today to see the Master were prominent and well-known. Because they so were attracted and transformed by His talks on the divine teachings of the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the principles of the religions, today I wrote to the friends in the East inviting them to come and see how people who had previously had no appreciation for those from the East, especially the Persians, now come in groups to the threshold of the Master and stand waiting their turn to become the recipients of His favor. They consider an interview with Him a source of pride and glory. Many philosophers, professors, clergymen and lecturers come with bowed heads to show their sincere humility. The people from churches and other organizations are also attracted and fascinated, happy to see His life-giving countenance. The Center of the Covenant has caused the Persians to be renowned for their respectability and has crowned the peoples of the East with eternal honor and glory. And how the newspapers of this region praise the Master and the learned and literary people of the West emphasize the importance of these teachings! Notwithstanding this, most of the Persians are asleep and do not understand the cause of their greatness and honor. They are asleep on the bed of negligence and resting in the lap of pride.
After the meeting the Master took a walk. His heart was filled with joy as He said:
Did you see what a fire was set aglow in the hearts? A person must first be happy and attracted himself to be in a position to transform others. He himself must be impressed in order to impress others. You must act in a way that will make me happy, then you will see what will happen.
To one who visited Him at the hotel, He remarked:
I have come to your city and found tall buildings and advancement in material civilization. Now I will lead you to my own city which is the world above. Its administration is the oneness of humanity, its law is international peace, its palaces are ever shining with the lights of the Kingdom, its season is always spring, its trees are ever green, its fruits are fresh and sweet, its sun is ever ascending, its moon is always full, its stars are ever brilliant and its planets are ever circling. That is our city and the Founder is Bahá'u'lláh. We have enjoyed the pleasures of this city and now I invite you to that city. I hope that you will accept this invitation.
To another He said:
Man must take flight from the cage of the body and become pure spirit, for the body is a cage which causes difficulties for man and makes him the captive of nature and involves him in all types of misfortunes. But when a person discards all his physical habits, he is freed from all fetters. As physical powers attract the world of nature, so spiritual powers must break these chains. This condition is not realized by thought alone. The powers of nature are ever alert to allure man. The eye is fascinated by beautiful scenery; the ear is entranced by music; the heart is attracted by delights and human passions. A man may be rich but still he wants more because he is attracted by the world of nature; he has means of livelihood yet he desires more. Therefore, the spiritual powers must dominate so that he may be freed from these fetters and attain salvation. Man is like a bird in a cage. A bird cannot attain freedom merely by knowing that in the free world there are pure breezes, spacious skies, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains; rather, the bird must find a power to break the cage and soar into the wide firmament.
He then narrated a story about detachment:
The Persian friends travel mostly on foot. They sleep whenever they get tired. They rest wherever they see a shady tree. Once a person came to an Amír. The Amír wished to present him with a gift and with insistence gave him a robe. Later, when he became tired, he lay down under a tree in the forest with the robe folded under his head. But he could not sleep as he repeatedly imagined that a thief was crouching nearby to take away the robe. At last he rose, threw the robe away and said, `As long as this robe is with me, I shall not find rest. To find rest I must give it up.' How long will you desire a robe for your body? Release your body that you may have no need for a robe.
A public meeting was held in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Roberts. `Abdu'l-Bahá walked awhile in the garden outside the house. Although most of the friends watched Him respectfully from a distance, when several ladies from Washington DC saw Him, they ran towards Him, expressing their faith and happiness in the divine teachings which they had heard from His own lips in Washington.
In brief, the Master's talk that afternoon was to say farewell to the friends, to encourage them in their endeavors to diffuse the fragrances of God and to explain issues related to teaching. They were all set ablaze by His words.
In the evening the proprietor of the Hotel Shirley and the publisher of a newspaper announced that there would be a public meeting in the large hall of the hotel. The spacious room was filled to capacity. I will never forget the joy and excitement of the audience. At times the audience was plunged into a state of sadness and wonder and then into a state of such happiness and joy that peals of laughter could be heard outside the building. It is not possible to describe the excitement and attraction of the people. They all expressed their sadness that the Master was leaving the city. Those men and women staying at the hotel who because of their wealth and pride had previously not deigned to look at us, now sought us out. Everyone was fascinated by the majesty and grandeur of `Abdu'l-Bahá and gave their hearts to Him."

Joy and excitement!  We experienced these days back in July of last year when filming our sections for Colorado. We looked for the home of Mrs. Roberts, but it was no longer there. Neither is the Hotel Shirley. But the Denver train station, the Clark house, and the Oxford Hotel (where He will stay on the way back) are still there.

Last year on this day we were in Dublin, NH filming the church, Dublin Inn, Agnes Parson's boat house, the lake, the train station where the Master (and others) arrived from Boston. . . . Miraculously, an antique car from 1914 pulled into the general store--and since we only had a car from 1930 yesterday in Eliot, we were most excited to see if the couple who owned this older car would agree to have it pose for us in front of the Dublin Inn. Indeed, they were, and it's owner drove and even consented to be in a costume and in our film, as he drove multiple times down the driveway to the front of the Inn. Two of us got to ride in the car (in costume) and two of us stood on the porch. I would count that as one of the best days of my life! Now I need to think about going to Denver on Friday. . . . 

PS Don't you love the statement: "You must act in a way that will make me happy, then you will see what will happen." Why not try it? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

September 24, 1912 A rush of visitors


Denver: a rush of people; all eyes  attracted to `Abdu'l-Bahá; pastors and pulpits; the Clark home
Mahmud writes: "There was a rush of people from early morning until noon. Friends, seekers, professors, clergymen and philosophers all came to see Him. They each raised questions and were filled with joy on hearing the Master's words.
     He was invited by some clergymen to speak in their churches. He tendered His regrets, saying, `My stay here is brief.'
Today the newspapers published `Abdu'l-Bahá's picture along with those of His companions, as well as articles describing His talks.
After the meeting He went for a walk and strolled through parks and boulevards. As the Master passed by the government buildings, monuments and statutes of American heroes, He remarked: `Their victories are trifling in comparison with the first victories of Islam, yet they are famous and a source of honor to all who know them. But these great victories have been completely forgotten.' All eyes were attracted to `Abdu'l-Bahá, to His glory, dignity and grandeur, as He walked with His companions dressed in their kuláhs and Persian clothes. One of the Master's companions remarked that the people viewed this picturesque sight as an amusing comedy. He replied, `Yes, it is a heavenly act, a performance of the Kingdom, a wonderful pageant.'
Clark House, today
Those who had read the newspapers about the arrival of the Master were heard saying to each other, `He is the Prophet of the East, the Messenger of Peace. Those who had cameras took the Master's photograph as He walked by.
In the afternoon He was invited to the suburban home of Mrs Clark. As we rode on the train some passengers were seen to be whispering about us. He said, `Tell them we are neither Turks nor Arabs, neither of the East nor of the West, rather we are of heaven and of God.' One of the companions said, `Being of that is good but being of God is better.'
"Early" Believers--er, us, at
Clark House. John Hicks on right
When the Master arrived at Mrs Clark's home, several of the friends had already gathered to see Him. He spoke to them about the confirmations of the Abhá Beauty and the power and influence of the Word of God. `See how He has made the Easterner and the Westerner friends', He said, `and has bestowed sincere love and true friendship. Otherwise, what connection would there be between us and Americans, between this Japanese youth [Fugita] and Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání? Mrs Clark said: `I have frequently dreamt that my home would become honored with the footsteps of the Beloved Master. I am extremely thankful and grateful that my dreams have come true. My heart is now freed from ego, whereas before I used to consider myself better than anyone else.' The Master said:
Thank God, because the first self-conceited one was Satan. A man must never consider himself greater than others. Rather, he must always be humble and self-effacing. The bird, as long as it sees itself at a low level, is given impetus to soar and progress; but the moment it fancies itself high in the air, it begins to descend.
Someone in the audience asked, `What shall I do to become a true servant?' He replied:
Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. Do not only read His teachings but put into practice in your lives the Hidden Words and the other holy writings. Whatever I say is not even a drop from the ocean of the Supreme Pen and the treasure-filled sea of the bounty and favor of the Abhá Beauty.
I have brought the message of Bahá'u'lláh to this country in order to teach people to investigate truth, to render service to humanity, to endeavor to bring about international peace, to exert every effort to guide humanity, to show kindness to all creatures and to raise the Call of the Kingdom. Man must be endowed with divine attributes and must enter the concourse of the exalted ones. These teachings are only a drop from the sea concealed in the Hidden Words. We must pray for each other. If we act according to the divine teachings, by God besides Whom there is none other God, we shall shine like lamps. But woe betide those people who are aware of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and know them to be the cause of eternal salvation and divine nearness but still do not bring their actions into conformity with them. Such is a source of great distress. Thus it is incumbent upon us to endeavor day and night to follow the teachings of God. This is the cause of eternal esteem, this is divine favor, this is the honor of mankind and this is everlasting life.
Another person asked about telepathy or communication from mind to mind. He replied:
It is evident. If a lover holds the hand of a beloved, it is obvious what feelings ensue. They communicate face to face and speak heart to heart, as this light is communicating now with human eyes, the sun with the earth, the cloud with the land and the breeze with the tree. This process is found in all things.
The Master was asked about His health and comfort, to which He replied:
I have not come for rest and diversion. I have come to raise the call of the Abhá Kingdom in order to diffuse the divine fragrances. Had I desired rest, I would have secured it more easily in the East. Now I must journey to various cities and countries and call people to the divine Kingdom. Suppose I had rested for a few years, what results would it have had?
Early in the evening when He returned to the hotel the Master discovered that the editor of The Post had placed an automobile at His disposal. On the way to the Church of Divine Science, He remarked:
Behold the power and confirmation of the Blessed Beauty: The pastor comes in person with all humility to invite us and the proprietor of a leading journal sends his automobile for our use, so that we may raise the call of God in the church. Truly, such confirmations have never been seen in other dispensations and in no age have the Manifestations of the Cause of God met with such reverence and honor. But these things should be the cause of humility and self-effacement. We must not consider that they are due to our addresses or our eloquence. These shining lights which you see will instantly darken if the origin of their bounty is severed from them.
When the Master's automobile reached the church, a crowd of people was seen standing outside. Immediately the pastor came forward, and taking the Master's arm, led Him to the pulpit. The pastor reverently introduced the Master to the audience. Then `Abdu'l-Bahá stood and delivered an address on the reality and condition of the Manifestations of God. After His talk, the people came to the pulpit to see Him and shake His hand, surrounding Him like moths. Another clergyman, with the utmost humility, asked the Master to speak at his church. He was so persuasive that every tongue was forced to say, `All heads are bowed before Him.' With great courtesy, the Master tendered His apologies because of His limited time but promised to return.
As the Master left the church He was perspiring so much that His companions were concerned about His health and tried to keep Him warm with His `abá, shawl and blanket. Indeed, the guidance and protection of the Abhá Beauty prevailed and His assistance bestowed. Everything relating to this journey has been the cause of joy and a sign of the power of the King of Manifestations."
There's a story about the Clark house that is funny. Mrs. Clark cleaned everything but the kitchen sink before He came--hoping He wouldn't see it. But He immediately strode into the kitchen and got Himself a drink of water from a pump near the sink--then smiled at her as if to say that nothing could be hidden from the Master. 

The Clark house is now owned by the Faith, with lovely caretakers. Will write more about this later! 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23, 1912 Miracles of this promised century


Denver; Hotel Shirley; Roberts home; Church of Divine Science; miracles of this promised century 
Mahmud writes: "The Master reached Denver around two o'clock in the afternoon. Mr and Mrs Ashton and some friends came to the station to meet Him. The moment they saw Him they became excited and full of joy. They took Him to the Hotel Shirley where we had made reservations on the third floor of this lovely building. He said to some newspaper reporters who had come for an interview: `I had no rest last night and am very tired. Give me a little time.' They returned at 5:00 p.m. and were permitted to take His photograph and to ask questions. At eight in the evening He went to the home of Mrs [Sidney] Roberts where friends both old and new had gathered. There were so many people that they were seen standing as far the front entrance. He spoke to them about the power of the Abhá Kingdom which had enabled Him to travel far in spite of His weak constitution and which had gathered the friends in the assemblies of the love of God. After His talk He bestowed His special blessing on each person. As the Master was leaving the meeting, the pastor of the Church of Divine Science approached Him with the utmost humility and invited Him to speak at his church. `Abdu'l-Bahá accepted. Since so many people wished to have an interview with Him, He announced that during the few days He would be in Denver, He would see anyone who would call upon Him at the hotel between nine and twelve in the morning.
Regarding His health, He said:
In the early stages of our long journey to California my health was affected. But as the journey was made for God and to diffuse the divine fragrances, my longstanding indisposition has been cured without any medicine. The confirmations of Abhá are descending from all sides.
He added:
It is written in the Hadíth [Islamic traditions] that cities shall draw nearer to each other. Besides spiritual nearness and communications between the cities of the hearts and friendships between diverse people in the promised Day, how physically close have the cities and countries also become. Truly, if not for railroads and the power of steam, how could these long distances be traversed with such ease? This is one of the miracles of this promised century of our current age."
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I have an affinity with this part of the journey, partly because we've been to Denver, shooting video of the train station and of the other hotel where He stayed, the Oxford.  (The Shirley is no longer there.) And--this coming Friday, we'll be going back to Glenwood Springs, for that commemoration!

September 22, 1912 Travels West


Lincoln: Darkness of Covenant Breakers; Interview; Visit with Mrs. [William Jennings] Bryan and her daughter; democracy in sleeping arrangements
Mahmud writes: "In the morning the Master spoke about the animosity of the enemies and their evil intentions towards the Blessed Beauty. Then the conversation turned to the corruption and iniquity of the Covenant-breakers. He said:
Shu`á of darkness wrote to his father quite openly that his purpose was to amass wealth and worldly property. With reference to me he stated that he was waiting for the fulfillment of the promise in the verse, `God will assuredly send down one who will deal mercilessly with him.'
Two newspaper reporters came to interview Him and recorded the interview with the utmost courtesy and respect. The Master instructed us to telephone and inquire about Mr Bryan and his wife. Expressing regret that Mr Bryan was not at home, Mrs Bryan said she and her daughter would be pleased to receive `Abdu'l-Bahá in their home. The Master and His entourage hired a large automobile and drove a long distance outside of the city until they reached a large estate which is located in one of the finest places in the region. Mrs Bryan hurried towards the automobile to greet `Abdu'l-Bahá. She and her daughter expressed their joy and happiness for His blessings. After they had had tea and listened to Him, they begged Him to visit some of the rooms of the house, particularly the library and Mr Bryan's study. They showed Him a book compiled by Mr Bryan and asked Him to pray for the success of his endeavors. Mr Bryan was currently on a campaign tour on behalf of [the future] President Wilson and was to lecture in many cities. In honor of the occasion, `Abdu'l-Bahá took a notebook and in His own hand wrote a prayer for assistance. He then said a few words which increased their happiness, devotion, assurance and honor. With that He departed.
Among those visiting the Master at the hotel in the afternoon were some Arabs. They had read about His arrival and His speeches in the newspapers and wished to see Him. The newspaper articles about His arrival and the Manifestations of God were translated and read to Him. It made Him happy to know that a stay in the city of only 12 hours had become the cause of spreading the teachings of God.
At 8:00 p.m., just before leaving the city, the Master came and sat in the lobby of the hotel. A number of people who had read about the new teachings in the newspapers approached and were introduced to Him. They all listened carefully to His explanations and expressed their pleasure. At 11:00 p.m. the train left Lincoln. His companions tried to persuade Him to take Pullman accommodation for Himself but He would not allow it, saying:
We must all be together. The only purpose of this journey is to serve the Cause of God. We have no other aim. We will all sleep in our coach seats.
He spent the night in the chair car with the rest of us, sometimes sleeping and sometimes awake. And in this way His time passed."
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It is actually inspiring how `Abdu'l-Bahá followed up on visiting Mrs. Bryan and daughter. He had met William Jennings Bryan in Haifa/Akka--and went out of the way to go to their home (renting a car to do so).  I wish we had a videotape of that meeting--and all such meetings! He must have been attuned to Bryan's inclinations toward peace and faith in humanity. 
William Jennings Bryan (March 19, 1860 – July 26, 1925) was an American politician in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. He was a dominant force in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, standing three times as its candidate for President of the United States (1896, 1900 and 1908). He served in theUnited States Congress briefly as a Representative from Nebraska and was the 41st United States Secretary of State under President Woodrow Wilson, 1913–1916. Bryan was a devout Presbyterian, a supporter of popular democracy, an enemy of gold, banks and railroads, a leader of the silveritemovement in the 1890s, a peace advocate, a prohibitionist, and an opponent of Darwinism on religious grounds. With his deep, commanding voice and wide travels, he was one of the best known orators and lecturers of the era. Because of his faith in the goodness and rightness of the common people, he was called "The Great Commoner."(Wikipedia)
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So now the journey is heading west! Can you imagine the Master's response to the grand vistas of America, after such a constrained life? And sitting up through the night!

(Sorry I was late with this post. I was at the Texas Baha'i School--so busy with the artistic & devotional elements of the program that I forgot to do my blog!  But internet access was a bit erratic, so I may have been thwarted, anyway.  Our theme was Abdu'l-Baha in America, and I was completely engaged there--performing drama, showing film excerpts, and so forth.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

September 21, 1912 Victories in store


Omaha--Lincoln;  destructiveness of war; future events evident; William Jennings Bryan; another transportation synchronicity
Mahmud writes: "In the morning, as we were having tea served by `Abdu'l-Bahá, the latest news from the Balkan war was relayed to Him. He commented, in part:
Our own `war' is good because it conquers all. When a crown of thorns was placed on the head of Christ, He saw with His own eyes the crowns of kings under His feet. Now, when I look, I see all the powers and nations defeated, scattered and lost in the wilderness while the Cause of God is victorious over all and subdues all. All future events are evident and visible to the eyes of the holy Manifestations.
He illustrated this by narrating . . . historical events. . . .
The translation of an article regarding universal peace was read to the Master. He said:
If the republics of the Americas assembled and agreed on the question of peace, and if all of them would turn to the [Peace] Assembly at the Hague, most of the powers of Europe would follow suit. But looking at it from another point of view, if an international war breaks out in Europe, international peace will be established more quickly. Also, if these ideas regarding peace spread among the public, the financiers will refuse to give loans for wars and the manufacture of armaments, the railway companies will abstain from transporting instruments of destruction and the armed forces will not engage in carnage and the spilling of blood. Also the boundaries should be established.
Later the Master was interviewed by two journalists and spoke to them about the pernicious attitudes of politicians, the destructiveness of war, the validity of the divine teachings regarding universal peace, the unity of religions and the oneness of mankind.
In one of the Tablets revealed by `Abdu'l-Bahá in honor of a friend in Mázindarán, these words were recorded:
The light of Bahá'u'lláh has shone to such a degree on the continent of America that in every city where a number of believers reside, the call of `Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá' has been raised. In great churches and meetings `Abdu'l-Bahá cries out and proves the truth of the Prophet of God [Muhammad] and of the Báb and of the rising sun of Bahá'u'lláh. Most of the newspapers express praise in glowing articles. Where are the Persians, that they may behold the splendors of the Luminary of the World [Bahá'u'lláh] Whose light has shone forth from the horizon of Mount Awrang and now illumines the mountains and plains of America? In spite of all this, the people of Núr are still asleep and do not know what an honor has been showered upon that region.
`Abdu'l-Bahá had soup prepared especially for Him for lunch. The Master instructed us to have lunch at the hotel. In the afternoon after tea, the Master left for Lincoln to visit Mr [William Jennings] Bryan, the [future] Secretary of State of the United States, and said: During Mr and Mrs Bryan's last visit to Haifa, we were, while in `Akká, in great danger, and the enemies were rebellious and increasingly perverse in those last days, thus he was unable to see us. So now we are going to see him.
The train had left just as the Master reached the station. He decided to wait for the next train. A few minutes later, a man who had seen our Persian dress and kuláhs came to us and said, `We received a telegram from the friends in Minneapolis and have been looking for `Abdu'l-Bahá.' He immediately ran to give the news to the other friends and brought them to Him. They were extremely grateful that He had not left by the first train. The Master spoke to them about the major calamities that had befallen the Cause of God, saying:
Up to now, whatever has occurred has had the effect of spreading the Cause of God. When the Blessed Beauty left Tihrán and when He departed from Baghdád for the Holy Land, it was so devastating that the friends shed tears of blood. Now it has become evident what mysteries were concealed in that event and what victories lay in store; even the prophecies of the holy books regarding the Holy Land and the promised Manifestation were fulfilled through that banishment.
A professor who had heard of some of the principles of the Bahá'í Cause was very happy and grateful to have visited the Master. At midnight the Master left Omaha and three hours later arrived in Lincoln."

I wonder if `Abdu'l-Bahá related to the Manifestations in terms of being able to see future events or if He  perceived he had a lesser gift of clairvoyance. Certainly, all of the mishaps in timing and then confirmation the right thing had happened were not accidental.

Wonder if we know who the professor was, who visited the Master today, in 1912. . . .

Sobering to think that wars could have been averted--and still could be. When will the tide turn?  When women become strong enough collectively to voice resistance? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

September 20, 1912 Sanctified breaths


Minneapolis -- Omaha; another departure; exhortations and words of love; helping the poor

Mahmud writes: "Today we departed from Minneapolis. In the morning friends and seekers surrounded `Abdu'l-Bahá like moths. He spoke to them in these words:
You must have deep love for one another. Go to see each other and be consoling friends to all. If a friend lives a little distance from the town, go to see him. Do not content yourselves with words only but act according to the commandments of God. Hold weekly meetings and give feasts. Put forth your efforts to acquire spiritual perfections and to spread the knowledge of God. These are the attributes of the Bahá'ís. Otherwise, what use is there in being a Bahá'í in word alone.
At 8:00 a.m., after packing the parcels to be sent to the East, the Master left the hotel for the train station. The assembled friends were sad and dejected owing to His departure from their midst. He consoled them until the train left the station, saying:
I shall never forget you. You are always in my mind. Convey to all the friends my kind regards. I love all. I exhort you to be kind to the poor and love them. Help them, for the poor are broken-hearted. If you sacrifice yourself for the rich, they think you do it because you are obliged to. But if you love the poor, they feel joy and are sincerely grateful. To help the poor is essential. May you be under the protection of God.
When the train reached St Paul station, Dr Woolson came to say goodbye and received the Master's blessing. He was showered with bounty.
On the way `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke about teaching the Cause of God in America and remarked:
In this country it is essential to have teachers who are attracted, wholly severed and learned like some of the self-sacrificing Persian teachers. The Cause of God must become firmly established in these regions. The teachers must move continually, one after another, from one place to another to raise the divine call. Then will the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom envelop these nations and wonders will be achieved. This desire of mine has not yet come about. It depends on the confirmations of the all-glorious Kingdom and on the sanctified breaths of the friends. The one true God is my witness! If a person draws only one pure breath in a state of severance, it will be effective for a thousand years.
Later He related many stores about the days in Baghdád. In the afternoon He spoke about Mr [Edward Granville] Browne and said:
I wrote to him, saying, `You are the first European teacher and author to have attained His Blessed Presence. Do not lose this distinction.' He did not understand me and his loss will be known when the lights of guidance shine in England with supreme brilliancy.
Two hours after midnight the train reached Omaha. As the Master was extremely tired, as soon as He arrived at the hotel He retired immediately, without eating."
Along with encouraging home visits, 'Abdu'l-Bahá speaks so clearly about our task of being severed and in motion. He has such a yearning for us! 
Saturday morning, at 8 am on a weekend, we got a call from a poor woman looking for financial help. She was calling the Baha'i "church" to see if her state of homelessness and poverty could be addressed by us. I couldn't help but think what a different world it is now--it seems we are so far from having a workable social outreach. We said we couldn't help her. But what would 'Abdu'l-Bahá have done? Or one of the early believers?  Probably arrange to meet the woman and help her and teach her the Cause. 
Sometimes balancing His advice with the current reality is darn hard!  

And taking sanctified breaths--what a worthy goal--and mystery! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September 19, 1912 Announcing the Cause of God


Minneapolis -- St Paul; publicity; museum visit; philosophers and clergymen; gatherings at homes
Mahmud writes: "It was reported to `Abdu'l-Bahá that the proceedings of the Bahá'í meeting the night before had been published in today's newspapers. He said:
Notwithstanding this, the Muslims and the Christians alike are not satisfied with us. They are engaged in pleasurable diversions and enjoyable pastimes in their homes while we are laboring to prove the truths of the divine Manifestations in these great temples. So it is with the mischief-makers and Covenant-breakers. Behold how they are preoccupied with themselves and with the satisfaction of their selfish desires, while I am so wholly occupied with spreading the Cause of God in America that I have not had a moment's rest.
After a visit with friends and seekers, the Master went to a museum. [The Walker Art Gallery--still there in same location, though building is rebuilt.] Among its many antique objects were some small tear vials from ancient Phoenicia in which people had preserved their tears at the time of the death of their loved ones and then buried with the dead bodies. `Abdu'l-Bahá said, `See how these bottles have outlasted the bodies of men under the earth.' He continued:
When people of the West become wealthy, they begin to collect antique objects in order to render a service to the world of art. But when Persians become wealthy, they keep one hundred horses in their stables, give themselves up to pomp and show, engage themselves in satiating their selfish desires. But in comparison with service to the Cause, both attitudes are barren, producing no result. For example, if the effort these people put into gathering these objects, and the millions of dollars spent acquiring them, were employed for the Cause of God, their stars of happiness and prosperity would shine evermore from the horizon of both worlds. If in this city they brought ten persons into the Cause of God, it would gain momentum and would become the cause of eternal honor and happiness as well as the source of everlasting life.
After returning to the hotel, telegrams reporting the good news were prepared and dispatched to the Assemblies of the East.
Among the friends assembled to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá were several philosophers and clergymen. The Master spoke about the oneness of mankind, universal brotherhood and the teachings of God. Everyone expressed their admiration and sincere appreciation. The friends were delighted to see `Abdu'l-Bahá's influence and power and pleaded with Him to prolong His stay. He replied, `We have little time. We must go everywhere to announce the Cause of God. We have called the people here and now we must hasten to other places until we reach California.'
Albert Hall at end on right
There was a splendid meeting in the afternoon at the home of Mr Hall. [2030 Queen Avenue South.] Several people were there, including some philosophers, professors, clergymen and women, all of whom listened to the Master's words with great pleasure. The Master spoke about the oneness and unity of mankind and the increased capacity of this enlightened century. After He spoke, a number of the guests requested the privilege of having a private interview with Him.
Dr [Clement] Woolson brought his automobile to take the Master to a meeting in St Paul, some 15 miles from Minneapolis. The distance was covered in comfort and at a good speed. The Master praised the cleanliness and beauty of the Mississippi River and the greenness of the hills, plains and gardens along the way. He arrived at Dr Woolson's home and there addressed the assembled friends who were very taken with His words. His explanation of nature's lack of perfection and its recreation through divine education gave the audience a new perspective. [870 Laurel Avenue, St. Paul.]
The Master took a walk in the garden. Several children approached Him and politely asked Him about His country and the purpose of His visit. He spoke with them kindly.They then followed Him in respectful silence and when He approached the house, they asked permission to come inside. To each He gave some coins and showered them with kindness. One tiny child slipped off his father's lap and ran to the Master, saying. `I love you first and then my father.'
When it was time to leave two automobiles were at the door. One belonged to some enthusiastic women who were new to the Cause. The Master sat in their automobile. Then Dr Woolson came out to say that the automobile meant for the Master was the other one. The Master then went to that automobile and they drove to Minneapolis at full speed to attend the meeting being held in the evening at Mr Hall's home. The other automobile did not reach its destination and it was later learned than it had broken down on the way and that the women had had to make other arrangements. Because they arrived late, they had the honor of having dinner with the Master."

Another interesting case of transportation working out in favor of 'Abdu'l-Bahá!  But those poor women! 

I wish I knew whether Gayle Woolson, a departed Knight of Baha'u'llah,  had been related to the Woolson couple referenced above.

And what has happened to Fred Mortensen?  I need to listen to the CD about him again and recount his days following his time at Green Acre and then Malden.