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


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October 31, 1912 Transported with joy


En route from Denver to Chicago: a pleasant journey; friends transported with joy

Mahmud writes: "At daybreak the train was only one station from Chicago. Here, one of the most sincere Bahá'ís, Mr [Albert] Windust, who is the editor of the Star of the West, boarded the train to welcome the Master and became the recipient of His kindness and favors. The Master remarked this morning:
It is now more than two years that I have been far from the Holy Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh. Now I must return. If God wills it, I shall make another journey in another direction according to a special program which I have already thought out, so that I can proclaim the Word of God in another way. Let us see what is the will of God. Now we are traveling from California to Chicago. Praise be to God that  this journey has passed most pleasantly. At the time of leaving Haifa, I had several ailments and did not expect to cross oceans and plains with such ease and comfort and to make such a long journey.
When the train reached the station in Chicago, the friends were transported with joy on seeing the Master's face." 
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This is another interlude between cities--and we can sense the great joy His arrival creates. 

The journey of this blog has been pleasant, too, though hard at times.  I am not looking forward to the farewells--and yet, another year will unfold, of refining details and enjoying the actual centenary.  So much to discover--to figure out--to marvel at! 

Our film evolves.  One day, it will be done--perhaps in time for the Day of the Covenant or for the final farewell. . . . 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October 30, 1912 Clustering around Him . . .


En route from Denver to Chicago: passengers clustered around Him; conversation with a Sufi; sharing equally

Mahmud writes: "While having tea in the morning, the Master said: This journey has passed pleasantly. The three days from California to Denver were comfortable and delightful. I did not believe that my weak constitution could bear the hardships and length of this journey.
At my request, `Abdu'l-Bahá wrote an account of His travels in America to the friends in the East. . . . 
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá conversed with passengers seated near Him, and after a few introductory remarks, spoke to them about the teachings. As the call was raised in the train, others clustered around Him and were delighted to hear His discourse on the unity of mankind, universal peace and divine civilization. Most of the passengers were interested and wanted to know more.
A man of Sufi inclinations saw the others listening with rapt attention, and spellbound by the words of the Master, asked to come near. The Master had him sit close by. After a few words, the man said, `All are from God.' The Master replied:
Yes, this is true, but one man is so exalted that others bow down before Him and He is adored by them like Christ or Moses, who called people to the oneness of divinity and who became the cause of the education of a nation, while another is so degraded that he bows down before dust and worships ants and serpents. Are these two one and the same? No, certainly not! Divine Manifestations are a different creation. All humanity is created by God but how they differ in intelligence. One is the wisest of the wise and the founder of the laws of happiness and prosperity, while the other is the most ignorant of the ignorant and a destroyer of the edifice of peace and honor.
Prophets, therefore, have a station of their own. Many people crossed the desert of Sinai but it was Moses who heard the voice of God because the divine Manifestations have a spiritual power peculiar to themselves. Mighty nations existed at the time of the appearance of the divine Manifestations but they were degraded and became obliterated. But observe what a banner of unique being Christ unfurled without friend or helper. All are from God but all have different stations. Both men and animals are from God but what a difference there is between them.
A minister visited Him. The Master advised him to abstain from dogmatic imitation and described to him the real meaning of baptism. Everyone was impressed by the Master's explanations and asked for addresses of the friends from whom they could learn more about the Bahá'í teachings.
In the evening He said, `Let us reserve sleepers for all of us. We slept in our seats last night and that is enough. Let us not suffer any more hardship.' We suggested that we would just get a sleeper for Him but He replied, `No, we must share equally.' Therefore, six sleepers were reserved for the night." 
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We love the passages about the people being drawn to the Master on the trains.  It reminds me of some of my own potent teaching experiences--one recently--during travel. But how often we simply get on a plane or train and just rest / read / work, without being open to others. 'Abdu'l-Bahá must have continuously been open to others, regardless of His energy level or other circumstances.  Hence, a plethora of stories that serve as reminders. . . . "Look at Me, Follow Me. . . . "  

Well, I'll work on being open to others while traveling!  The movement from place to place must itself bring possibilities. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

October 29, 1912 Heading toward the East


Denver: newspaper reporters; Christ and the cardinal; two public talks; heading again toward the east; as soldiers of truth
 Mahmud writes: "When the friends were informed of the Master's arrival, they eagerly hastened to Him to gaze once more on His face. He spoke to several newspaper reporters who had come to interview Him about the Cause and who recorded His statements for publication.
At a meeting He again spoke about the cardinal in California, saying:
One day in California I saw a cardinal walking with pomp and ceremony in front of a procession. Inquiring about the occasion, I was told that a new church had been built and the cardinal was to officially open its doors to the public. I said, `This show and ceremony of the cardinal is like that of Christ. However, there is a slight difference. Christ opened the gate of heaven; this cardinal is going to open that of a church. Christ had a crowd following Him but they were there to hurl contempt and abuse at Him. This cardinal had a crowd with him but they are there to help. Christ had a crown but it was made of thorns, while this cardinal wears a crown set with lustrous jewels. Christ had clothes but they were made of old, coarse cloth, while this man's robe is made of the finest brocade of the day. Christ spent His days in sorrow, while this cardinal's days are spent in security and comfort. Christ's home was a desert, while this cardinal's home is a splendid building, like that of a king. Christ's throne was upon a cross, while this man's place of rest is a throne of ease and comfort. The adornment of Christ's banquet was the blood of that beloved countenance, while the ornament of this man's
court is the goblet of colored wine. So, this cardinal's display is similar to that of Christ, with only the slightest differences.'
 Although the Master told this story humorously in several gatherings in different words, it was always a warning to the people and the cause of their awakening.
Despite the Master's exhaustion, He gave two public talks: one in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Roberts and the other in the evening at the Church of the Messiah. In both gatherings He spoke of the similarity of the principles of all religions as well as the revision of certain social laws to meet the needs of the time. His explanations were delivered so impressively that the audience was enlightened as well as extremely interested.
 As He was leaving the church, `Abdu'l-Bahá said farewell to all those who had gathered around Him. They pleaded with Him to stay a little longer but He said, `I must return soon to the East.'
Returning to the hotel, He instructed us to pack. We hastened to obey His orders and caught the first train. With a happy face, the Master said: `Now we are going again toward the East. We have no more work to do in America.' He did not take a sleeper on the train this evening, saying:
Union Station
It is not a matter of our reluctance to pay one dollar but of our unwillingness to be dependent on bodily comfort. We must be equal to the hardships of traveling like a soldier in the path of truth and not be slaves to bodily ease and comfort. American trains especially are very clean and comfortable and there isn't great distinction between the trains except for having sleepers."

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The home of Mrs. Sidney Roberts, 1751 Sherman Street, is no longer there. We looked for it! 

The Church of the Messiah, which Rob Stockman defines as the Universalist Church of the Messiah, may have been the church that is now a hitch store--see photo. I would have to check on this--as it may have been the other church He spoke at on the September visit. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

October 28, 1912 Raising the call . . . on the train!


En route to Denver: heading east; passengers gathering around Him; raising the call of Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá

Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá took tea in the dining car. Áqá `Alí-Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that it seemed the Master was happier because He was going towards the East. The Master replied, `Yes, my greatest happiness is to be near the Holy Shrine.' Looking out of the window, He continued: `I love this plain because it is so much like the plain of `Akká.'
The Master then dictated replies to His letters. In the afternoon, a vendor came by with various items for sale. The Master looked at some ore specimens from the mines when a few children drew close, looking at Him with curiosity. He beckoned to them and asked, `What shall I buy you?' He spoke to them with more love and kindness than the most benevolent father and bought each child various items costing about a dollar. More children ran to Him. He said, `They, too, look poor' and also bought them a dollar's worth of items.
When they saw this, the people were interested, curious to know who this great personage was. When someone asked the Master about His aims, He gave a detailed explanation of the divine teachings. For a long period of time the passengers gathered around His seat, some standing and some sitting, listening to His sweet voice and sublime words. We had never before seen or heard the Cause taught in such a manner. It was characteristic of this journey that the Master raised the call of Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá as the train passed through the mountains, valleys, plains and rivers.
Some Turks came to see Him in the afternoon. They said that there were more than 50 of them on their way to Constantinople in response to a call to assist their government and people. They were impressed to hear the Master's explanation of universal peace and the unity of mankind. The Master asked that tea and water be brought from the train's kitchen to another compartment where He served them tea. They thanked Him for His kindness and became attracted to His noble qualities and conduct.
`Abdu'l-Bahá reached Denver at about midnight. As the Master was very tired, He went to a hotel near the station to rest."
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This is the Oxford Hotel, which is still there.  It's right near the train station.  Lovely and elegant, it still has many of the same features it had in 1912. We spent time filming some of the beautiful details inside. ah, if only we had been there in 1912! 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October 27, 1912 Eternal honor


En route to Salt Lake City: confirmations; raising the standard of universal peace. . . . 
Mahmud writes: "When the Master emerged from the Pullman section of the train to take tea, the Jewish lady returned, saying that she was convinced of the truth of this Cause and that she had accepted the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.
Today the Master spoke beautifully about the existence of God and other subjects. During a conversation, an individual questioned Him about His purpose in traveling to America. The Master replied:
I have come to America to raise the standard of universal peace and to promote the unity of mankind. My aim is to create love and harmony among the religions. But some people ask me, `Is your country developed? Is it prosperous and has it good trees, sweet fruits, beautiful animals and swift Arabian horses?' But I speak to them of the trees of the world of existence, of the fruits of human virtues and of heavenly morals and traits and call people to the Kingdom of God.
Such explanations transformed the minds of the hearers and created love and sincerity in their hearts.
In the afternoon we changed trains for Salt Lake City. The Jewish lady was so attracted to the Cause that she tried to change her ticket so that she could accompany the Master from Denver to Chicago. However, she was unable to do so, which made her unhappy as she was to be separated from the Master. The Master then gave her the addresses of some Bahá'ís she could contact.
The Master occupied Himself for about an hour reading many letters from the friends. He later spoke about the days of Baghdád and the apathy and ignorance of the populace. He said:
How they reproached us, but they were ignorant of the future of the Cause. They did not know that the Cause of God can make an atom a brilliant sun, bestow the magnificence of Solomon on an ant, give eternal honor to debased ones and endow the ignorant ones with divine knowledge.
We suggested that He obtain a Pullman berth but He would not permit this, saying, `The seats are comfortable. We can lean back and sleep.'"
_________________
I wonder who the Jewish lady was and whether she met some Baha'is.  
We have to make peacemaking as exciting as warmongering!  'Abdu'l-Bahá certainly did so! 

Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26, 1912 Boundless happiness

Sacramento: Farewell luncheon; friends astir with spiritual yearning; departure for Denver; 
Mahmud writes: "`Abdu'l-Bahá's address this morning concerned the influence of the Divine Manifestations, together with a brief history of the Cause and its teachings, which clearly had a powerful effect on the audience. After the talk the people came to Him in groups to express their sincere interest. Journalists wrote several complimentary articles about His exposition and the divine teachings.
The friends arranged a farewell luncheon in His honor in the hotel's dining room. The table was exquisitely decorated. More than 50 friends were there, each grateful to be present. This glorious meeting of the friends from the East and the West in the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá, so full of love and harmony, astonished all who witnessed it and hastened the spread of the Word of God. The manager of the hotel came with the utmost respect and courtesy to see `Abdu'l-Bahá and was given a seat. Later he said, `What I have seen of the majesty of this holy being is that although no one knew him in this city, yet in the course of one day and one night he has created a stir in the city and a spiritual yearning in the hearts of its people.'
Thus did the power of the Covenant of God and the grandeur of the Cause shine resplendently in the eyes of the people.
After lunch `Abdu'l-Bahá bestowed kindness upon each of the friends, exhorting and admonishing them. Every soul offered praise and glory to the Lord of the Kingdom until after midday, when the train left for Denver. When it was time for Him to leave Sacramento, `Abdu'l-Bahá was heard to say: `A spiritual commotion has for the time being been created in this city. Let us see what God desires.'
The Master passed the afternoon with His companions in the train in a delightful manner. At times He told humorous stories and at others praised the scenery of the countryside, the pleasant air and the beauty and verdancy of the surroundings. Some railway employees came to Him saying that the Master had been on the same train with them when they had traveled to California earlier. The Master replied, `Yes, it was so destined that I should see you once more on this trip. On this train there are many Greek passengers. Do you know where they are going?' They informed the Master that they were going to their country in response to a call to fight against Turkey. The Master said:
God does not want war. These wars are against the divine will. He desires peace and love for His servants. I pray that this darkness may be dispelled and the light of the Kingdom may envelop the world. God is kind to all. We, too, should be kind to one another. We should not fight for a handful of dust. The earth is our endless tomb. Is it worthy of us to wage war and shed blood for this tomb while God has destined that we win the cities of men's hearts and bestowed upon us an eternal Kingdom? Is it worthy of us to shut our eyes to such an everlasting honor and instead make war over dust?
salesman was selling pennants from different schools. The Master said, `Tell him to bring the banner of universal peace if he has it. We want such a flag under which the whole world may find rest and peace.'
Several passengers who heard His discourses left their seats and drew near Him. Among those who were moved and impressed was a Jewish lady, who was very enthusiastic and interested. The Master said to her:
It is obvious that you have a pure character, so I want you to become aware of the truth of divine matters. At the time of each Manifestation of God the people were heedless and ignorant of the truth except for a few who investigated and understood the divine words. The same is true today. So thank God that you have been endowed with capacity and desire to investigate the truth. Know this much: that the treasury of God is replete; He will shower the same bounties and gifts on those of this day as He showered on those of previous generations. We must endeavor to gain heavenly enlightenment, to understand the mysteries of the holy books, to become the cause of guidance to others and to illumine hearts. I pray that you may strive until you are blessed with these favors.
During this conversation people were surrounding the Master, eagerly and attentively listening to His words, which they considered to be both weighty and the truth.
The same woman came to Him again in the evening, saying that she wished to be educated so as to be able to convey the teachings to others. As her words and spiritual capacity were accepted by the Master, He gave her an account of Bahá'u'lláh, explaining the reasons for the opposition to His teachings and unfolding before her the teachings of the Supreme Pen. Meanwhile, two people with socialist views requested permission to be admitted into His presence. He spoke with them on matters concerning economics, universal peace, the unity of religions and the common weal. Their happiness was boundless. As they approached the railway station they asked `Abdu'l-Bahá to give them His address and those of the Bahá'ís so they could write to them. Their request was granted."

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I love thinking about all of this activity on the train. People were always drawn to the Master--and Mahmud must have had quite a time noticing and recording it all. One pictures a lot of motion on the train--people drawing near, listening to stories and talks, and then later telling tales about it to others.

So now the Master has left the far western shores of America--never to return. And with this, the end hastens. . . . It must have been hard for those whose hearts had been touched by His presence. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October 25, 1912 We shall always be together


San Francisco -- Sacramento: Power, Influence, Ardor overwhelming . . . the Master speechless
Mahmud writes: "Today we were to depart from San Francisco. The Master's residence was full to capacity with a multitude of friends. The power of the Cause, the influence of the Covenant of God and the ardor of the friends were overwhelming. What warmth and affection this gathering of true lovers generated in the early hours of the morning! When they heard the Master coming downstairs, everyone rose reverently. When they saw His feet on the stairs they raised the cry of Alláh-u-Abhá, their eyes fixed intently on His face, like sun-loving iguanas. Seeing the ardor and attraction of the friends, the Master was deeply moved, His face transformed. He anointed all with attar of rose and said to them:
Here I want to bid you farewell. This meeting and assemblage are very moving. This is the last draught in the goblet! How thankful we must be to the Blessed Perfection that He has brought the hearts so near to each other. This attar that I give you is but a token of the fragrance of the Abhá Paradise -- the best of all fragrances. I am very sad to be separated from you and I do not know how to express it. It is not possible to give tongue to the feelings of the heart. I am greatly moved because I saw the love of Bahá'u'lláh in you, I witnessed the light of Bahá'u'lláh in your beings. I am so moved that I cannot speak. I leave it to your hearts to feel what I feel. Although I am going away from you, you have your place in my heart. I will never forget you. When I reach the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh, I shall lay my head on the Sacred Threshold and beseech confirmation for every one of the friends. These days of our meeting were blissful days. They cannot be bettered. I met you every day and I always found the hearts attracted, the eyes turned unto the Abhá Kingdom. There cannot be better days. Do you not forget them and I shall not. I beg of God that the results of this amity shall become evident, that it shall lead to spirituality in the world, to impart guidance to all who dwell on this earth. I hope for such results from this gathering that it will not be like other gatherings of people who forget each other as soon as they disperse. It is certain that because this gathering has been a divine assemblage, it will never be forgotten and whenever recollected it will produce fresh delight. This is my wish.
He was sad as He left the house. Some of the friends begged His permission to accompany Him to Sacramento, the capital of California. Among them were Mrs Goodall, Mrs Cooper and other wonderful handmaidens of God such as Mrs Ralston, who are serving the Cause with heart and soul.
As the train passed two or three stations beyond San Francisco, it reached a bay where there are ferries on whose decks are two railroad tracks that can be joined to the tracks on the banks. `Abdu'l-Bahá spent His time visiting with the friends and completing an article about the history of Bahá'u'lláh's time and His teachings. The train arrived in Sacramento at noon.
An elegant woman, who had previously received a promise from the Master, was at the station. [Christine Fraser, who operated a "Home of Truth" (based on New Thought movement) in Sacramento. With her was Carrie Yoerk, also associated with the Home of Truth. See note 334 in Mahmud for more to the story.] She begged Him to grace her home with His presence. He accepted and we rode in her automobile to her home. Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper enthusiastically assisted the other friends accompanying the Master. En route the Master remarked to us, `Let us consult together about staying at this lady's house.' When we arrived at her home, the Master requested that Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper be telephoned and asked to come. When they arrived we could see that they too did not wish Him to stay at the house. The Master then said, `We must act according to the consultation with the friends.'
After the Master bestowed His kindness on the hostess, He said:
You desired greatly that we should come to your house. We have come. We shall also take luncheon here. But at night we will stay in the hotel, for in each city we have stayed at hotels. Notwithstanding the supplications of the friends to stay in their homes, we have not accepted these invitations. But today we have come to your house.
The Master spoke in this vein until the woman finally agreed. He then went to the Hotel Sacramento. On the way He spoke and said, `I desire to act always according to the counsel and wishes of the friends unless it is a very important matter which is not good for the Cause of God, then I do hold tenaciously to whatever is advantageous to the Cause.' Continuing, He said: `The value of my conduct and fellowship is not known yet, but it shall be known later.'
A meeting was held in the evening in the salon of the hotel.  A large number of friends and seekers were attracted to the teachings and discourses of the Master. Since it was evident that there were much interest among the audience, the friends announced there would be a public meeting the following morning in the same hall. [More in Lua's description in Metelmann, Lua Getsinger, 177–78]
----------------------

A year ago (1911) when the Master was in Paris, He said this:


"Let us spread the Cause of God, for which I suffered persecution.
What a privilege it is for us to meet here in freedom. How happy for us that God has so decided that we may work together for the coming of the Kingdom!
Are you pleased to receive such a guest, freed from his prison to bring the glorious Message to you? He who never could have thought such a meeting possible! Now by the Grace of God, by His wonderful Power, I, who was condemned to perpetual imprisonment in a far off town of the East, am here in Paris talking with you!
Henceforward we shall always be together, heart and soul and spirit, pressing forward in the work till all men are gathered together under the tent of the Kingdom, singing the songs of peace."

A marvelous thought, that we shall always be together! 



Helen Goodall and Ella Cooper

Goodall home, Oakland

Before we leave California, I wanted specially to mention the two famous Goodall women--Helen and daughter Ella. Last year I wrote: "Yesterday I was in the Baha'i National Archives. Exhausted from working on the film in Chicago and Wilmette for two days, I sat in a daze, wondering what I could do in a half hour in the Archives. Kind Lewis Walker brought me the box of Goodall papers, and as I looked into three or four folders, I was astonished at the notes--mostly typewritten on thin sheets of yellowed paper--penciled with additions and corrections.

"The night before Charleen Maghzi (coincidentally at the House of Worship) had marveled to me about the details Ella had preserved--which helped, of course, with Mahmud's inaccuracies."

The Goodall's Daily Lessons Recieved at Akka, January 1908 can now be accessed: http://bahai-library.com/goodall_cooper_daily_lessons

Baha'is in Oakland California
at the home of Helen S. Goodall
and of course, Ramona Allen Brown's Memories of 'Abdu'l-Bahá: Recollections of the Early Days of the Baha'i Faith in California is an excellent source. . . .

I feel as if I have only touched lightly on the soil of the Master's visit to California and know little about the two courageous, generous, and extraordinary Goodall women. So many others, especially Charleen, are aware of the details and nuances of the California days. Perhaps they will offer comments and additions to the blog postings!  Below, a story, found on-line.

from http://bahaistories.blogspot.com/2010/02/mystical-spiritual-bond-between-master.html: 

The Mystical Spiritual Bond Between the Master and Shoghi Effendi

Ella Goodall Cooper, an early American Baha’i who along with her mother, Helen Goodall, 
went to Akka as pilgrims in 1899 and 1908, wrote the following touching account:

One day...I had joined the ladies of the Family in the room of the Greatest Holy Leaf for early 
morning tea, the beloved Master was sitting in His favorite corner of the divan where, through the 
window on His right, He could look over the ramparts and see the blue Mediterranean beyond. He 
was busy writing Tablets, and the quiet peace of the room was broken only by the bubble of the 
samovar, where one of the young maidservants, sitting on the floor before it, was brewing the tea.

Presently the Master looked up from His writing with a smile, and requested Ziyyih Khanum to 
chant a prayer. As she finished, a small figure appeared in the open doorway, directly opposite 
'Abdu'l-Bahá. Having dropped off his shoes he stepped into the room, with his eyes focused on 
the Master's face. 'Abdu'l-Bahá returned his gaze with such a look of loving welcome it seemed 
to beckon the small one to approach Him. Shoghi, that beautiful little boy, with his cameo face 
and his soulful appealing, dark eyes, walked slowly toward the divan, the Master drawing him 
as by an invisible thread, until he stood quite close in front of Him. As he paused there a moment
 'Abdu'l-Bahá did not offer to embrace him but sat perfectly still, only nodding His head two or 
three times, slowly and impressively, as it to say - "You see? This tie connecting us is not just 
that of a physical grandfather but something far deeper and more significant." While we 
breathlessly watched to see what he would do, the little boy reached down and picking up the hem
 of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's robe he touched it reverently to his forehead, and kissed it, then gently replaced
 it, while never taking his eyes from the adored Master's face. The next moment he turned away, 
and scampered off to play, like any normal child...At that time he was 'Abdu'l-Bahá's only 
grandchild... and, naturally, he was of immense interest to the pilgrims. (Memoir of Ella Goodall Cooper 
quoted by Ruhiyyih Khanum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 5)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

October 24, 1912 Every hour has a purpose . . .


San Francisco; confirmations, detachment, departure . . . 
Mahmud writes: "A group of believers from Oakland and the vicinity arrived. Some brought their children, supplicating the Master to give them His blessings and protection and requesting Persian names for them. All were honored and delighted to have seen the One around whom all names revolve and their eyes overflowed with tears of joy. He encouraged them to make every effort to bring about universal peace and the unity of mankind. He also spoke about His address at the Jewish temple.
On the way back to San Francisco He spoke to a group of young Bahá'ís who were teaching the Cause of God and were dedicated to diffusing the divine fragrances:
Thank God that the divine bounty has reached you, that the Sun of Truth is shining upon you and that the water of everlasting life has been provided for you. If a man drinks from a sweet spring, he ought to guide others to the same sweet water.
You have asked me to speak about how to teach the Cause of God. I have spoken at length on this but I repeat that the teacher himself must be detached and devoted so that his breath may affect others. Whoever has taken a step in this field has succeeded. The doors of knowledge are opened before him, his eyes become seeing and he is assisted with the breaths of the Holy Spirit. He is guided himself and becomes the cause of guidance of others. Of course, a person sings a joyous song only when he himself is delighted and rapturous. Thus when one begins to guide others and adduces proofs, then his taste becomes sweeter and his heart more joyful.
Moreover, everything is limited except the bounty of God and this bounty descends upon man through teaching the Cause of God; then divine inspiration will assist him. It is for this reason that Christ said that whenever you wish to talk do not think about it, the Holy Spirit will inspire you. If you desire eternal honor, everlasting life and heavenly exaltation, then teach the Cause. Divine confirmations shall attend you; this has been experienced. But it calls for firmness and steadfastness. Consider the disciples of Christ and observe with what firmness they arose until the Cause of God advanced. They even sacrificed their lives for this.
In response to a question about purchasing land for a Mashriqu'l-Adhkár, He said: `It is very good but for the present it is better to help with the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Chicago.'
The Master went to visit some schools and interesting places. Among them was a technical school, whose students stood respectfully in His presence. He was pleased with them and bestowed kindness upon them. He then went to see a purpose-built auditorium constructed in a circular shape with stairs and seating on three sides. Overlooking the stage one could see the entire audience. At the other end was a large podium with a platform designed in such a way that when a lecturer spoke, his voice could reach the audience without an echo. The building was very large and had been built for special occasions and public events; it had no roof. It was much admired by the Master.
In the afternoon `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke at a gathering of the believers on the importance of teaching the Cause:
Every day confirmations surround some specific pursuit and every hour has a purpose decreed for it. Today, teaching the Cause of God and spreading the divine teachings are what attract heavenly assistance. It is the season of seed-sowing and of propagating the Word of God.
In the evening He spoke about the imprisonment and persecution of the Blessed Beauty and of the power and influence of the Greatest Name. As He bade farewell to the friends, His words were powerful and impressive. The hearts of the believers were in turmoil and their eyes brimming over with tears. They were saddened because it was the end of the Master's stay among them and His lovers were feeling the pain of separation from Him."
________

Another painful separation!  But so much guidance and inspiration here. . . .

The part about the other potential Temple reminds me of what the Master said about the one to be built at Green Acre. He confirmed it--and even pointed out where the buildings will be, but said, "a little patience is needed."  Well--a lot, for some of us!

But the sweet mystery of yearning to teach and then opportunities and confirmations--well, we forget the joy and amazing things that can occur--think of the trouble or the fear or just don't think about it--and we are cut off! So, an endless lesson--with so much potential benefit!

Even this story of the Master in America--reading about it, caring about it--can bring such openness of dialogue.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 1912 An outpouring of grief


San Francisco -- Oakland; the grief of the Master
Mahmud writes: "Today there was a public meeting in Oakland at the home of Mrs Cooper and Mrs Goodall. The Master spoke kindly about the devotion and steadfastness of His hostesses and praised the firmness and enthusiasm of the California Bahá'ís. As these were the last days of His stay, the friends' hearts were moved and their enthusiasm and affection increased. He had lunch and dinner there.
In the evening the Master spoke of the retirement of the Blessed Beauty and the distress of the believers, speaking at length of Áqá Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání.  `From the circumstances, as reported,' `Abdu'l-Bahá continued,
we surmised that because Áqá Abu'l-Qásim-i-Hamadání had previously been with Bahá'u'lláh and had also set out on a journey when the Blessed Beauty disappeared, then Darvish Muhammad was really the Blessed Beauty and must be in the vicinity of Sulaymáníyyih. Thus it was that we sent the friends to petition Him, implore and supplicate Him to return to Baghdád.
After the meeting the Master went to His room but the friends implored His presence among them. He then returned to the gathering, saying, among other things:
I have now been for some time in these regions. In any city I have entered I have met with the friends and other people. In all the gatherings and most of the churches I have called out to the Abhá Kingdom and invited people to the Cause of the Blessed Beauty. At night I have implored and supplicated and prayed and asked for assistance, so that the rays of the Sun of Reality may shine on this country, illumine all the regions of America, bestow everlasting life; that its citizens may acquire heavenly civilization and that they may be bountifully favored through the teachings of the Blessed Beauty.
Praise be to God! This has come to pass through the grace of the Blessed Beauty and the assistance of the Abhá Kingdom. The call of God has been raised in all the cities of America. Accounts of the greatness of the Cause have been published even in the newspapers.
He also spoke with joy and happiness about the establishment of the Cause in the countries of the East and the firmness and steadfastness of the Persian friends.
One day, as He was strolling, He called to remembrance the days of the Blessed Beauty, referring with sadness to His sojourn in Sulaymáníyyih, to His loneliness and to the wrongs inflicted upon Him. Though He had often recounted that episode, that day He was so overcome with emotion that He sobbed aloud in His grief . . . All His attendants wept with Him, and were plunged into sorrow as they heard the tale of the woeful trials endured by the Ancient Beauty, and witnessed the tenderness of heart manifested by His Son.
The Master remained in Oakland for the night."

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How sad!  The heavy grief of the Master tugs at our hearts. So--what can we do to make Him happy?

Monday, October 22, 2012

October 22, 1912 The coming era of peace


San Francisco: Foreshadowings . . . 
Mahmud writes: "In the morning the Master remarked, `I did not sleep at all last night but was deep in thought.' When the train arrived at the station a group of friends greeted the Master with joy and happiness. The Master spoke repeatedly today about the steadfastness and enthusiasm of the friends in Los Angeles. His had been elated to witness their constancy in the Cause.
The believers from San Francisco and surrounding areas gathered group by group at the Master's residence, where He received them in His room. He strongly encouraged them to spread the divine fragrances and teach the Cause of God. To the seekers He gave the glad tidings of the dawning of the Morn of Guidance and the coming of the era of peace, tranquillity, amity and unity among the nations of the world.
His address in the morning at the public meeting centered around the days of the Blessed Beauty, the exaltation of the Word of the God and the vain imaginings of the followers of Yahyá. In the afternoon He spoke particularly on the duty of teaching the Cause of God and gave a detailed account of the Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh revealed to the kings and rulers of the world.
After an evening stroll, `Abdu'l-Bahá showed special kindness to the friends from Portland and Seattle, who had arrived today to visit their beloved Master. He spoke with them on several subjects, saying, among other things: said:
Until now it never happened that someone from the East, impelled by the promptings of his conscience, should come to the West to see the friends of God and to associate with respected individuals with such sincere love and friendship and without any political or commercial motive or the desire of sightseeing. It is without precedent and is not recorded in any history. If others have come, it has been to sightsee or for commercial or other reasons.
In response to some questions, He said:
A great war and commotion shall inevitably take place in the world. Things will come to such a pass that the generality of mankind will rise against the statesmen of the world and say, `You sit in your palaces in perfect comfort; you eat and drink sumptuously; you sleep blissfully; you eat delicious food and relax in gardens with beautiful views. But for the sake of your name and worldly fame, you throw us, your subjects, into war, shed our blood and tear our bodies to pieces. But no thorn ever pricks your hands and not for a moment do you leave your rest and comfort.'"

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So many changes in leadership are occurring today. The Master was so wise in His foreshadowings of the great changes.

But what should we focus on?  "the coming of the era of peace, tranquillity, amity and unity among the nations of the world."  What a great mandate! 
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Only 45 days remain of the travels in the U.S.  For our part, we strive mightily to finish our film. Every day brings something new. . . . 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21, 1912 Blessed with seeing eyes


Los Angeles: a sweet departure
Mahmud reports: "From morning until noon all the rooms in the Master's suite were filled with people. Even the corridor was filled. The Master moved among the crowd, sometimes in the rooms and sometimes in the corridor, instructing the assemblage in the divine teachings, persuading them to serve the cause of universal peace and encouraging them to develop divine virtues and heavenly perfections in themselves.
When the people were told the Master was leaving, they became saddened and expressed their deep sorrow. Some churches and clubs sent messages inviting the Master to prolong His stay and to speak before their audiences. He was unable to accept their invitations and responded: `I have no time, as I must return soon to the East. Nonetheless, I have great love and attachment for each one of you.'
With great eagerness, friends both old and new brought their children to meet `Abdu'l-Bahá and to receive His blessings and protection.
As the time of departure grew near, the friends in Los Angeles were in a spiritual and prayerful mood. The Master spoke to them:
Thank the Lord that you have attained His eternal favors and have been blessed with seeing eyes. All are blind but you are endowed with sight. All are earthly but you are heavenly. Although you live on earth, you soar high in heaven. It is my hope that day by day you will seek assistance and will rise to promote the Word of God. Go every year to visit the grave of Mr Chase on my behalf, for he was a sanctified soul; his station will be known later.
I have come a long distance to see you; I have traveled 12,000 miles. Praise be to God that I have found you in spiritual joy and happiness. I pray that you may live under the care and protection of God and be assisted by Him in rendering greater service to His mighty Cause, so that each of you may become a fruit-bearing tree in the garden of His favor, full of freshness and life. May you acquire more bounties of the Kingdom and engage yourselves in guiding souls, so that Los Angeles may become a divine city and a center of the lights of the Kingdom. If the friends of God act according to the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh, they will succeed in guiding the people, will promote the unity of mankind and will strive for universal peace. Heavenly confirmations will descend upon them and they shall attain that station which is the desire of the holy ones and near ones.
When the Master reached the railway station, it was learned that Mrs Goodall, without telling us, had secured pullman reservations for everyone. Although the Master had a comfortable berth in the train, He was so tired He could not sleep."
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What a sweet gesture of Mrs. Goodall.  And a sweet departure scene, full of inspiration! 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

October 20, 1912 A call to harmony!


Los Angeles: warnings to people of insight; reserving unity and harmony
Mahmud writes: "Today more than the usual number of friends and seekers, from all strata of society, came to see Him. There were so many that it was impossible to see them individually, except for a very few who were granted private interviews. Therefore, a public meeting was arranged and one of the many topics, which was a warning to people of insight, was the disgrace and ignominy of the son of the arch Covenant-breaker, the lightless Shu`á`u'lláh.
This man, who is wholly severed from God, is engaged in pursuing worldly desires and deception. When the fame of the Center of the Covenant spread through the city, Shu`á`u'lláh spoke about Bahá'u'lláh and his blood relationship with Him. He persuaded a newspaper editor to write two misleading articles in which he tried to show that because of his biological relationship, he was bound to inherit the station of the Prophets. The Master paid no attention to such nonsensical writings and attached no importance to Shu`á's pretensions. When a newspaper editor asked the Master about this man's relationship, He said:
I will tell you one thing and it will suffice once and for all. Beyond this neither question me nor will I reply. And that is the words of Christ when told that `your brothers have come to see you'. He said, `They are not my brethren but you are my brethren and kindred.  Christ attached no importance to the original relationship with His brethren. Notwithstanding this, my house is open to all. He who wishes may enter and he who wishes to go out may leave.
The editor published the Master's exact words in his newspaper.
The son of the arch Covenant-breaker, who had boasted that he would speak out `in the court of the King of the Covenant' and make his wishes known, was from that time on not heard from again. He had wanted to introduce himself around and to raise himself in the estimation of those who did not know the story but he failed like Kheiralla, who, in Chicago, had sent a message asking to be summoned to see `Abdu'l-Bahá. The Master had answered him in similar terms: `Since my arrival in this city,' He said, `I have not requested to see anybody. But should anyone come to me, I will meet him with utmost kindness and regard.'
Despite this, these unjust people have spread various false rumors. They have gone so far in their careers of untruth to say that although the Master had given His word that He would see them, He had broken His promise. God protect us from the wickedness of the envious! All their impostures and connivings have been shattered, for their only hope was to create doubt and disbelief in the hearts of the people; instead they have become the means of warning them.
The Master repeatedly said: `These two persons have disgraced themselves once again. Otherwise, I would not have mentioned their names but it is not good for the Cause nor are they worthy of mention or attention.' He also said:
If they have good intentions for the Cause of God, they must render some service and they must go out to teach the Cause. If they are able, they should raise the cry of `Yá Bahá'u'l-Abhá' in churches and gatherings. What will they reap by sowing doubt and disbelief? They will get nothing but manifest loss in this world and the next. The Blessed Beauty has promised explicitly that the servants and sincere ones who devote themselves to the Cause of God after His ascension shall achieve success and be made victorious. Now see which of the servants are firm and serving and which ones hinder and damage the Cause. One of their misgivings is that the true One has always been oppressed and wronged. What has this to do with the matter? Yes, initially the Cause of God has always been denied but with utmost divine aid and assistance the Lord has ever been the protector and savior of the righteous. The reward of eternity will belong to the God-fearing and honor will belong to the sincere servants of God. Thus He says in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, `Let not your hearts be perturbed, O people, when the glory of My presence is withdrawn, and the ocean of My utterance is stilled. In My presence amongst you there is a wisdom, and in My absence there is yet another, inscrutable to all but God, the Incomparable, the All-Knowing. Verily, We behold you from Our realm of glory, and shall aid whosoever will arise for the triumph of Our Cause with the hosts of the Concourse on high and a company of our favored angels.'
This evening in a large auditorium the Master gave a detailed address to a group of the friends about many issues pertaining to the Cause. He spoke about the tribulations and afflictions of the Blessed Beauty and encouraged the friends to be obedient to the verses of the Supreme Pen, to be firm in the Covenant of God and to live in harmony with one another. He spoke in such explicit terms that those present were made firmly aware of their duties. He also told them about those things which are the means of preserving unity and harmony among the Bahá'ís."
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It is sad that 'Abdu'l-Bahá had to think about such things and engage His listeners with these themes.  

Surely the world needs to focus on the means of creating and preserving unity and harmony! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Poem (special post--please send critiques!)

I was inspired by the Feast letter to write the following poem. It's still a draft--please send critiques to: unity9@sbcglobal.net so I can make it better!  Anne   
(PS Why don't we all try writing poems before the end of the journey?)


            The Journey that Does Not End

                        “I am always a traveller to America.” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

Hibiscus blooms turn and fold up only a day after they open.
Our dog came to us as a tiny pup and died at barely nine.
A thought emerges, then leaves without a trail.

Winter will come, killing off all of the grass, and
the birds will have to search hard for water.
Dead leaves get stuck in the French drain.
Dreams are forgotten before they appear.

Our skin will soon sag, our energy dissipate.
Words will be hard to hear, our vision will give way—
until it will be simpler not to breathe at all.

Life, after all, is transitory
            ephemeral
                        evanescent.

But there is a mystery—something ever green,
a cycle occurring again and again.

He traveled, in 1912, and travels again each year,
April to December—three seasons, then a dormancy.
(No doubt He is packing for the next trip, preparing
to greet another round of swooning admirers and curious onlookers.)

But what if it was never just a physical journey, what if the lesson
is not in the where and when and who and why
but in a mystery folded and unfolded
like a linen napkin at an elegant dinner party
where there is always a new bottle of sparking elixer,
fresh grapes upon pyramids of luscious fruits—

            But I have fallen into tangibles
            When I am TRYING to describe the eternal.

“I am always a traveller to America,” He said,
“and am assuredly associating with spiritual and illumined friends.”

There’s the rub.
            How to be spiritual
            How to be illumined
            How to be a constant friend.

When His ship arrives or is always arriving
When the train pulls into the station in D.C., Boston, or Philadelphia
When the motorcar creeps between Dublin and Eliot
When a young Mohawk boy falls off a fence in surprise,
catching a glimpse of a wave and a turban,
When an illiterate miner hears His words in Persian and understands them in English
When a determined poor man rides under and above the trains to meet Him
When a wealthy woman fetes him at her country estate
When a portrait painter depicts His servitude to God
and a disciple begs to be recreated
When He heals the maladies of those who seek Him
and dispels the cobwebs of superstition
When He meets men of science
and women intent on getting the right to vote
When children encircle Him, fascinated
When the black, brown, yellow, red, and white races
are all embraced in His flower garden
When gingko leaves flourish and fall
When the moon of His life reflects the sun of his Father’s
When stars dance with delight—

I want to be there:
            standing with Him at Niagara,
            dining in the garden at Glenwood Springs,
            envisioning the future on Monsalvat . . .

And all we have to do to entice Him to come again and again into the journey of ourselves:
            Be spiritual
            Be illumined
            Be a constant friend.
                                                                                                Anne Gordon Perry

Whole passage that is referenced:

O thou who hast sought illumination from the light of guidance! Praise thou God that He hath directed thee to the light of truth and hath invited thee to enter the Kingdom of Abha. Thy sight hath been illumined and thy heart hath been turned into a rose garden. I pray for thee that thou mayest ever grow in faith and assurance, shine like unto a torch in the assemblies and bestow upon them the light of guidance.

Whenever an illumined assembly of the friends of God is gathered, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, although bodily absent, is yet present in spirit and in soul. I am always a traveller to America and am assuredly associating with spiritual and illumined friends. Distance is annihilated and prevents not the close and intimate association of two souls that are closely attached in heart even though they may be in two different countries. I am therefore thy close companion, attuned and in harmony with thy soul.
                (Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, 102)