What Can the Hypocrite Know? 1
WHILE IN AMERICA ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ spoke to a wide variety of public audiences, including peace societies, church congregations, women’s groups, and social justice organizations. But he also spoke directly to groups of Bahá’ís — followers of his father’s religion — and often when he did so, his tone changed.
“I am expecting results from this visit,” he told them on July 25, 1912, at the Hotel Victoria in Boston, “and hope that my coming may not be fruitless. The results I expect are these: that the individual soul shall be released from self and desire and freed from the bondage of satanic suggestions.” By “satanic” he meant “the natural inclinations of the lower nature,” and not some independent evil spirit.
“Man possesses two kinds of susceptibilities,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “the natural emotions, which are like dust upon the mirror, and spiritual susceptibilities, which are merciful and heavenly characteristics.” It was an analogy he had used many times before — the soul as a mirror reflecting divine qualities and virtues, and the constant struggle to keep it pure.
New Hampshire 2
The next day, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke with more visitors until the late afternoon when He departed for Dublin, where He arrived at 7:00 P.M. and took up residence at one of Mrs Arthur J. [Agnes] Parsons’ two homes. Until August 16 He remained in Dublin, surrounded by green hills, flowering gardens, and flowing streams.
We must render service to the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty and must make such servitude the cause of our solace and the joy of our souls 3
As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had said He intended to leave Boston for Dublin, the friends and seekers gathered at the hotel. He encouraged them to lead fruitful lives and to overcome self and desire.
Consenting to a request of Mr Kinney, the Master paid a visit to Green Acre. When He got there, two Arab seekers fell at His feet crying, ’O Thou the Prophet of God’. He lifted them with His own hand, saying: ‘I am ‘Abdu’l-Bahá [the Servant of Bahá].’
At 4:00 p.m. in the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Boston and by 7:00 p.m. He was gracing the gardens of Dublin. The Master took up residence in one of the two houses Mrs Parsons had especially prepared for Him, which was furnished with every comfort; however, the Master said that we must bear our own expenses. Mrs Parsons had hoped that the arrival of the Master would remain private so that He might rest a little. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá learned of this He said:
We have come for work and service and not for leisure. We must render service to the Threshold of the Blessed Beauty and must make such servitude the cause of our solace and the joy of our souls. As this place is a summer resort and many prominent people are present, therefore, unless they should themselves ask, the friends should not teach openly. They must deal with them with perfect dignity and honor.
Continuing, He said:
Consider where we came from and where we are now in Dublin here in America. We must offer thanks for the assistance and protection of the Abhá Beauty that we may breathe a breath in the path of servitude.
He then gave an account of the life of Hájí Abu’l-Qásim, an indigo merchant, and the restoration of his grave. ‘He was’, He said, ‘one of the servants of the Blessed Beauty. My first thought on my arrival in Egypt was to repair his tomb.’ Similarly, He spoke of the good intentions and sincerity of Áqá Muhammad Taqí Isfahání, who is residing in Egypt. In the evening he enjoyed His dinner and ate in good health and happiness.
Talk at Hotel Victoria, Boston, Massachusetts 4
I am very happy to greet you here today. This is the second time the breeze of God has wafted over Boston. I am expecting results from this visit and hope that my coming may not be fruitless. The results I expect are these: that the individual soul shall be released from self and desire and freed from the bondage of satanic suggestions. May the mirrors of hearts be cleansed from dust in order that the Sun of Truth may be reflected therein.
Man possesses two kinds of susceptibilities: the natural emotions, which are like dust upon the mirror, and spiritual susceptibilities, which are merciful and heavenly characteristics.
There is a power which purifies the mirror from dust and transforms its reflection into intense brilliancy and radiance so that spiritual susceptibilities may chasten the hearts and heavenly bestowals sanctify them. What is the dust which obscures the mirror? It is attachment to the world, avarice, envy, love of luxury and comfort, haughtiness and self-desire; this is the dust which prevents reflection of the rays of the Sun of Reality in the mirror. The natural emotions are blameworthy and are like rust which deprives the heart of the bounties of God. But sincerity, justice, humility, severance, and love for the believers of God will purify the mirror and make it radiant with reflected rays from the Sun of Truth.
It is my hope that you may consider this matter, that you may search out your own imperfections and not think of the imperfections of anybody else. Strive with all your power to be free from imperfections. Heedless souls are always seeking faults in others. What can the hypocrite know of others’ faults when he is blind to his own? This is the meaning of the words in the Seven Valleys. It is a guide for human conduct. As long as a man does not find his own faults, he can never become perfect. Nothing is more fruitful for man than the knowledge of his own shortcomings. The Blessed Perfection says, “I wonder at the man who does not find his own imperfections.”
- Sockett, Robert. “What Can the Hypocrite Know?” 239 Days in America, 25 July 2012, https://239days.com/2012/07/25/what-can-the-hypocrite-know/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 117. [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=5#section123 [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, 244. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/17#026795839 [return]