Listening to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Unitarian Church 1
THE UNITARIAN CHURCH IN Dublin is packed. It is Sunday, August 11, 1912. During the past three weeks the varied inhabitants of Dublin have become accustomed to this Persian in their midst, as he rode in his carriage or motor car to invitations for lunch or dinner. Today in the church many of them are present in one gathering: the black servants are here; the storekeepers and innkeepers; the artists and wealthy mansion owners all wait for the talk to begin. This is the last chance for many of them to see and hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá before he leaves.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá delivers each sentence with deliberate intensity. He speaks a line, then stops — perhaps smiles — looks toward his interpreter, waits for the translation, listens to it carefully. He nods when a particular point is made. Only then does he turn back to the congregation and continue with his next sentence. One interviewer wrote that his words, “even repeated by an Interpreter, are so fraught with the Baha’s wonderful personality that they seem never to have been uttered before.”
Today ‘Abdu’l-Bahá speaks about the need for education, how it lifts man up from being an animal, just as cultivating a wild and unproductive forest can make it a fruitful garden. He points out that the philosophers were material educators whereas the divine messengers of God are the spiritual educators. …
An explanation of the science of music 2
Because some of the people who met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá today were musicians, He gave an explanation of the science of music:
Music is produced by vibrations of air which affect the tympanum of the ear. Although music or an ordinary pleasing voice is of the physical realm, yet it has an effect upon the spirit. In the same manner, freshness and purity of the air, the atmosphere, the scenery and sweet fragrances impart joy, spirituality and comfort to the heart. Even though these are physical phenomena they have a great spiritual influence.
The Júy-i-Múliyán we call to mind
We long for those dear friends long left behind.
The sands of Oxus, toilsome though they be,
Beneath my feet were soft as silk to me.
The Master ended His explanations with beautiful songs and these verses:
From whence comes this minstrel
Who sings the name of my Beloved,
That I lay down this life and soul
For a message from my Loved One?
To hear the message from the City of the Beloved
Resuscitates the heart.
The soul dances
On hearing the Word of the Beloved.
In the afternoon the Master spoke on the immortality of the soul and the teachings of the new Manifestation. Afterwards, many were eager to see Him alone. He said to them:
My desire is greater than yours. Some of the disciples went to Rumelia and said, ‘We had a desire to see you so we have come from Jerusalem to this place.’ Now, behold what a desire I had to see you, that I traveled from the East to the West!
- Menon, Morella. “Listening to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the Unitarian Church.” 239 Days in America, 13 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/13/listening-to-abdul-baha-at-the-unitarian-church/. [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=6#section142 [return]