“Free” Religion? 1
‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ LOOKED OUT upon an audience of 1,000 Unitarian ministers and 2,000 guests on the evening of May 22, 1912, in the largest church in the New England region. Religion, he told them, was fundamentally dead. “The essential realities, which the Prophets labored so hard to establish in human hearts and minds, while undergoing ordeals and suffering tortures of persecution, have now well nigh vanished.”
It was the eighty-seventh anniversary celebration of the American Unitarian Association, a week-long event held at Tremont Temple in Boston.
New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2
Great numbers of people flocked to see Him in Boston on Thursday, May 23. In the early afternoon He visited the Greek-Syrian Relief Society, where a reception featuring Eastern dishes was held. Before leaving He made a contribution to the agency. From there He drove with a university professor to Worcester. From there He drove with a university professor to Worcester. Along the way He commented on the greenness of the region and mentioned how much Bahá’u’lláh had enjoyed such scenes. Several times He asked the driver to stop, and the rest of the party stood and waited as He viewed the area.
At the University in Worcester He spoke to a special assembly including a thousand students and faculty members. The President provided Him with a car for traveling on to Cambridge to the one of Mrs. Francis W. Breed, where a large number of friends had gathered to celebrate ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sixty-eight birthday.
Serving the world of humanity 3
After tea ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the meeting at the university (most likely Clark University), which had been arranged especially for His visit. More than one thousand students and faculty had assembled. Professor (President?) [Granville Stanley?] Hall thanked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for coming to the meeting.
The Master spoke on the value and importance of science. The hearts of those present were attracted and their souls enkindled with the fire of love to such a degree that they soared in the heaven of knowledge, their minds indelibly engraved with the words of the Master.
After His address, some distinguished individuals and seekers were invited to a magnificent reception prepared for the Master. As the chancellor (president?) of the university had himself invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, he himself served the Master. A number of Japanese, Chinese and Turkish students came into His presence and greatly appreciated His words.
When it was time to leave, the Master took both the president’s hands in His and said:
I am very pleased with you and delighted to see your university. You are, indeed, serving the world of humanity and expending your life for mankind. Above all, I wish for you the blessings of the Kingdom and desire that you will be a cause of the spread of sciences and arts. I will pray on your behalf that God may make you a standard of guidance and that the love of God may shine upon your heart. I have seen a great love and affection in you, as well as in the professors and scholars. I shall never forget this meeting, and I shall always remember and mention your services.
Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Francis W. Breed , 367 Harvard Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 4
Scientific knowledge is the highest attainment upon the human plane, for science is the discoverer of realities. It is of two kinds: material and spiritual. Material science is the investigation of natural phenomena; divine science is the discovery and realization of spiritual verities. The world of humanity must acquire both. A bird has two wings; it cannot fly with one. Material and spiritual science are the two wings of human uplift and attainment. Both are necessary—one the natural, the other supernatural; one material, the other divine. By the divine we mean the discovery of the mysteries of God, the comprehension of spiritual realities, the wisdom of God, inner significances of the heavenly religions and foundation of the law.
This is 23 May, the anniversary of the message and Declaration of the Báb. It is a blessed day and the dawn of manifestation, for the appearance of the Báb was the early light of the true morn, whereas the manifestation of the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh, was the shining forth of the sun. Therefore, it is a blessed day, the inception of the heavenly bounty, the beginning of the divine effulgence. On this day in 1844 the Báb was sent forth heralding and proclaiming the Kingdom of God, announcing the glad tidings of the coming of Bahá’u’lláh and withstanding the opposition of the whole Persian nation.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Free’ Religion?” 239 Days in America, 23 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/23/free-religion/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 71-72. [return]
- ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=3#section59. [return]
- ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 138. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#939611165. [return]