239 Days in America, Day 78: June 27, 1912 | New Jersey
Militarizing Human Ingenuity 1
The invention of flight was an example of the ingenuity and aspiration that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá found so compelling in Americans. What surprised many was his eager embrace of technology. When speaking to Americans about the spiritual nature of humankind — in essence, what sets us apart from animals — ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned to technological examples.
“A human being can soar in the skies or speed in submarine depths,” 2 he told an audience in New York [Boston] on April 15 [May 25]. “All the sciences, arts and discoveries were mysteries of nature, and according to natural law these mysteries should remain latent, hidden; but man has proceeded to break this law, free himself from this rule and bring them forth into the realm of the visible.” … 3 [New York on April 15]
“The greatest intelligence of man is being expended in the direction of killing his fellow man,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said in his interview with the munitions maker Hudson Maxim in New York. “The discovery of high explosives, perfecting of death-dealing weapons of war, the science of military attack, all this is a wonderful manifestation of human intelligence, but it is in the wrong direction.”
During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s time in the West, he spoke often about the dangers of material progress unhinged from spiritual and moral development. In New York he offered an aeronautical metaphor to define a dilemma central to modern progress: “Two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible … no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization.” 4
New Jersey: The Unity Feast 5
In Newark, on Thursday [June 27], as they walked through the park, the Persian friends were aware of passersby staring at the unusual scene of the American friends following in reverence after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The life of the spirit and its effect on the world of humanity 6
To some people visiting the Master for the first time, He spoke about Christ’s words to His disciples:
Whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven’ Matthew. 16:19. The Christians have not understood its meaning. They imagine that it means the redemption of sins through the Christian leaders. The intention of Christ was to permit His disciples to elaborate or abrogate the laws of the Torah, as He had altered only two, those of the Sabbath and divorce. But, alas! The spiritual leaders of the Christians did not grasp His meaning, so that when the Greeks and Romans became Christians, some of the idolatrous customs were incorporated into Christianity. For example, the adornment of churches with images, self-mortification, abstinence, monks’ habits, the lighting of candles in church, the ringing of the bell in the steeple and others. These are all from idolaters.
Another group came into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence asking about the mysteries of Sufism and reincarnation. Receiving satisfactory answers, they left happy and pleased.
In the afternoon in Newark, near Montclair, both new and old friends gathered at the home of Mrs Kerry. The Master spoke to them on the life of the spirit and its effect on the world of humanity and set aglow the fire of the love of God in their hearts. He then went to the Military Park and Gardens, which is the best public place in the town. His walk with His companions presented a magnificent sight. Attired in our Persian kuláhs and Eastern dress, and accompanying the Master and the several American men and women who followed Him with great reverence and humility, we formed a unique scene. All eyes turned towards the dignity, beauty and glory of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and to that gathering of the East and West.
The Master then went to Mr [Hooper] Harris’s home where the friends had gathered before dinner. The Master urged and encouraged the friends to associate with love and unity with all the peoples and nations of the world. After dinner, because it was late and the distance was great, He rested there for the night.
- Sockett, Robert. “Militarizing Human Ingenuity.” 239 Days in America, 27 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/27/militarizing-human-ingenuity/. [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, 144. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#975098386 [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, 17. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/2#123097438 [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, 12. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/15#557843750] [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 100. [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=4#section94 [return]