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

Friday, February 8, 2013

Paris, continued; Spirit must be invited

Earl Redman writes: 

At one of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talks, Doris Pascal (later Holley) was in the audience and it was an eye-opening experience for her:

I was spiritually asleep at the time, but while I was listening to the Master’s talk I felt as if Jesus were speaking and I thought that the Master was saying what Jesus would have said. When the meeting was over, instead of following the Master out of the room as the others in the audience had done, I remained in my chair. The Master soon returned. To my natural astonishment He walked straight up to me and kissed me on the forehead.

Stanwood Cobb was also in Paris in the spring of 1913:

I was one of the staff at Porter Sargent’s Travel School for Boys. On my first visit He inquired about the school and asked me what I taught. I told Him I taught English, Latin, algebra and geometry. He gazed intently at me with His luminous eyes and said, ‘Do you teach the spiritual things?’
The question embarrassed me. I did not know how to explain to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá that the necessity of preparing the boys for college-entrance exams dominated the nature of the curriculum. So I simply answered: ‘No, there is not time for that’.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá made no comment on this answer, But He did not need to. Out of my own mouth I had condemned myself and modern education . . . But ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s question and His silent response indicated that from His viewpoint spiritual things should come first . . .
‘Abdu’l-Bahá kindly invited me to bring Porter Sargent and the pupils to see Him. Mr Sargent gladly accepted the invitation, and four of the boys did. The others had excuses, like those people in the Bible who were invited to the wedding feast but did not go. One boy had to buy a pair of shoes; another had planned to take afternoon tea at a restaurant where a gypsy orchestra furnished music, et cetera. How many of life’s important opportunities thus pass us by, through our own unperceptiveness or neglect!
I was deeply interested and concerned to see what impression ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would make on the owner of the school. Porter Sargent . . . was a confirmed and positive atheist . . . In one intimate discussion with me on the nature of existence . . . he had outlined to me his concept of life and the universe. ‘What do you think of it?’ he asked me . . .
  ‘It is splendid!’ I said. ‘But it only covers half of existence’.
‘What is the other half?’
But this other half did not exist for Porter Sargent . . . So when the golden opportunity came of an interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I had great hopes . . .
And so, when we came out . . . after a half-hour conference with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, I eagerly asked, ‘Well, what do you think of Him?’
I have never forgotten my shattering disappointment at the answer: ‘He’s a dear, kind, tired old man’.
 I was chagrined. But this experience taught me two spiritual lessons. The first was that skeptism must solve its own problems, in it’s own way. The second truth . . . was that Spirit never forces itself upon the individual. It must be invited.

Two interesting stories.  Don't you WISH you were in Paris right now, in 1913?  And where are Mahmud's accounts?  We need them to be translated and published! 

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