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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October 16, 1912 An incredible day!

Pleasanton--San Francisco--Oakland; visit with Phoebe's servants; trip to SF; Feast . . . 
Mahmud writes: " Although some of Mrs Hearst's relatives had previously been narrow-minded and aloof, they were now humbled and transformed. This was most notable when it came time for the Master to depart and He was bidding them farewell. The Master called all of the servants and attendants of the house and the maids, orderlies, cooks and butler stood in a line before Him. He encouraged them to be truthful, honest and devoted to their work. Thanking them for their services, He said: `As I am like a father to you, I wish to leave a memento with you.' He gave each two guineas [equivalent of about $10 in 1912] and left. The grand and illustrious guests stood by humbly, astonished and impressed with `Abdu'l-Bahá's generosity, grandeur and majesty.
Mrs Hearst begged `Abdu'l-Bahá to allow her to accompany Him to San Francisco. Her wish was granted and she traveled with the Master. Some of His words to her were these:
The Cause of God is sanctified from all political power and worldly affairs. Among the divine teachings are trustworthiness, detachment and sanctity. So if you should see a man coveting property and evincing greed toward the wealth of others, know that he is not of the people of Bahá. The people of Bahá are they who, should they happen to come upon a valley of gold and silver, would pass by it like lightning in utter disregard.
The Master encouraged her especially to protect and train her youngest grandchild. `This child', He said, `has a well-proportioned forehead and an open, pleasant face and if given heavenly instruction will be the cause of the eternal happiness of this family.'
When the eminent men of America and the liberal-minded people of its cities see such behavior, wisdom, majesty and power exemplified by the Master, even though they are prominent themselves, they are fascinated by His unique character and fall in love with Him.
This afternoon the Master gave an address at the Century Club in San Francisco on the rights and education of women before an audience of women and their husbands. They were captivated and so overcome with joy that they begged to be introduced to Him and to attain His presence. This was a gathering of wealthy people and there was an abundance of food and refreshments. The Master had some tea and sweets and then left. When He was outside the building, crowds of people surrounded Him, demonstrating their joy, love and respect.
After the meeting, the Master remarked: I speak according to the demands of the time and the capacity of my listeners. `The father makes gurgling sounds for the newborn infant, although his wisdom be capable of measuring the universe.' [from Rumi]
Later in the evening the Master and some of the friends and His servants went to Oakland to attend the Nineteen Day Feast. On the way He spoke of the sadness of the friends in Seattle, saying:
They are upset that I am not going there. However, in spite of the great distance, they have come to see us, notwithstanding the effort involved. Had it been but a one- or two-day trip, I would have gone to Portland and Seattle but the distance is great. I would not visit Los Angeles were it not for the purpose of visiting the tomb of Mr Chase [who had died on September 30]. The friends all have expectations but if I should want to go to all these places, the journey would become too long and that is impossible. However, in my heart there is such love for the heavenly friends that I do not wish even a speck of dust to touch them. God forbid! If I see harm coming to one of you, I will throw myself in its path to shield you.
When the Master reached the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper He took a walk before the Feast on the shores of the lake. [There is a note that M. is probably referring to the SF-Oakland Bay.  But see my note below.] He returned for the meeting and spoke to the friends and seekers, saying:
On the way here we were saying that it never occurred to us that we would come to California and meet with the friends in this manner or that we would proclaim the Cause of God in great assemblies. How Bahá'u'lláh suffered, what persecutions and hardships He endured! He saw His property plundered and carried off. He was chained and imprisoned so that hearts would be connected, that the East and the West would find harmony, that the oneness of humanity would come about and that universal peace may reign.

The friends had gathered to play the piano and sing songs of praise while awaiting the arrival of the Master. When their melodious voices reached His ears from the lower hall, He wrote a letter to Hájí Mírzá Haydar-`Alí (the `Angel of Carmel'), beginning:
O thou who art partner and co-sharer with `Abdu'l-Bahá in servitude to the Threshold of Bahá! It is evening and these wandering birds are nestled in the home of the maidservant of God, Mrs Helen Goodall, in Oakland, California. It is the Nineteen Day Feast. A number of the faithful friends and the pure and illumined leaves of God are supplicating the all-glorious Kingdom. All the delicacies are spread and ready and the table is exquisitely arranged. Oh, how thou art missed! Severed from all else, they sing a new song and with a new voice repeat spiritual notes. They are in a state of absolute love and supplication. Oh, how thou art missed! Oh, how thou art missed!
`Abdu'l-Bahá joined the gathering, invited the friends to sit at the table and began to serve them, anointing each with perfume and serving delicacies while circulating amongst them, saying:
Praise be to God! We are assembled in the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper in utmost love and affection. Every delicacy is provided. All hearts are in utmost love and serenity. All eyes are turned to the Abhá Kingdom. It is a good gathering, it cannot be surpassed. The Supreme Concourse is now beholding this assemblage and crying out, `Blessed are ye! Blessed are ye! O ye servants of the Blessed Beauty! Blessed are ye; blessed are ye with your radiant countenances! Blessed are ye; blessed are ye with hearts like unto rose gardens! Observe, what a favor is conferred upon you, what a bounty is bestowed upon you that `Abdu'l-Bahá is in your midst, makes mention of you and congratulates and compliments you.' He then said, `Go on with your supper. I shall go upstairs and then come back.'
After supper `Abdu'l-Bahá returned and spoke engagingly about spiritual susceptibilities, spiritual relationships, brotherhood and the heavenly supper of the friends. The meeting concluded after a prayer in Persian chanted by the Master. The friends, full of enthusiasm and joy, came one by one to shake His hand and to beg His blessings and assistance.
There was such heavenly joy and happiness among the friends that this meeting shall never be forgotten and shall bring forth wonderful results. The Master stayed there for the night."

Isn't it marvelous to contemplate the Supreme Concourse being aware of our gatherings?  Strange, to feel conjoined with Oakland of 1912. . . . Are we among the "Blessed" now? There is no Master alive to confirm this, yet we can feel it, here and there. . . .

Frances Orr Allen writes about the Feast--the tables filled with yellow chrysanthemums and pyramids of fruit, 110 present, from the Bay area but also Portland and Seattle.  She says, "All seemed to feel the evening to be one set apart from all other evenings. . . . 

Re. the "lake" He walked around: there is a small lake in Oakland, and when I was at Mills College the Baha'is told me He had walked around that lake. One semester I took a sailing course--and every week launched my little boat and contemplated being on the very lake He walked around. . . . 

A note about Phoebe Hearst: some people, apparently, tried to take advantage of her, including one of the Master's entourage members, Dr. Fareed.  The conversation above must have given her confirmation about true Baha'is and how they would not take advantage. . . . May her heart be at peace in the Abha realm! 

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