The Responsibilities of Oneness 1
“UPON THE FACES OF those present,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said as he looked out at the crowd, “I behold the expression of thoughtfulness and wisdom.” It was August 27, 1912, and he was speaking to the Metaphysical Club of Boston. The organization, which had been meeting for about seventeen years, devoted itself to an exploration of the relationship between the physical matter and abstract realities. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a talk that gracefully united the two.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá began by discussing the interconnectedness of matter at the atomic level. It was an extremely timely illustration, since British physicist Ernest Rutherford had discovered the atomic nucleus the year before. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted that the smallest of particles are in a state of “perpetual motion, undergoing continuous degrees of progression.” A single atom, he said, can progress through the mineral world, into the vegetable world, the animal world, and even the human world. As atoms progress, he stated, they become “imbued with the powers and virtues,” as well as “the attributes and qualities,” of whatever category they embody.
“It is evident,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá concluded, “that each elemental atom of the universe is possessed of a capacity to express all the virtues of the universe.” He was claiming the essential oneness of everything in existence. He then argued that God is the power that underlies and animates these transformations. “The origin and outcome of phenomena,” he said, “is the omnipresent God; for the reality of all phenomenal existence is through Him.”
26 August 1912, Talk at Franklin Square House, Boston, Massachusetts 2
The realities of things have been revealed in this radiant century, and that which is true must come to the surface. Among these realities is the principle of the equality of man and woman—equal rights and prerogatives in all things appertaining to humanity. Bahá’u’lláh declared this reality over fifty years ago. But while this principle of equality is true, it is likewise true that woman must prove her capacity and aptitude, must show forth the evidences of equality. She must become proficient in the arts and sciences and prove by her accomplishments that her abilities and powers have merely been latent. Demonstrations of force, such as are now taking place in England, are neither becoming nor effective in the cause of womanhood and equality. Woman must especially devote her energies and abilities toward the industrial and agricultural sciences, seeking to assist mankind in that which is most needful. By this means she will demonstrate capability and ensure recognition of equality in the social and economic equation. Undoubtedly God will confirm her in her efforts and endeavors, for in this century of radiance Bahá’u’lláh has proclaimed the reality of the oneness of the world of humanity and announced that all nations, peoples and races are one. He has shown that although individuals may differ in development and capacity, they are essentially and intrinsically equal as human beings, just as the waves of the sea are innumerable and different, but the reality of the sea is one. The plurality of humanity may be likened to the waves, but the reality of humankind is like the sea itself. All the waves are of the same water; all are waves of one ocean.
Therefore, strive to show in the human world that women are most capable and efficient, that their hearts are more tender and susceptible than the hearts of men, that they are more philanthropic and responsive toward the needy and suffering, that they are inflexibly opposed to war and are lovers of peace. Strive that the ideal of international peace may become realized through the efforts of womankind, for man is more inclined to war than woman, and a real evidence of woman’s superiority will be her service and efficiency in the establishment of universal peace.
The greatest result of any perfect creation is the love of the Creator for His creation and that the essential nature of the life-giving God is to create and to spread His bounties and in doing so, God enjoys His creation 3
The president of the Theosophical Society begged the Master that at least one of the friends of the Cause be asked to present these new teachings and principles to his society again. The Master replied, ‘I will appoint a person who will talk to you at several meetings.’
When the enthusiasm of the people at yesterday evening’s meeting was mentioned to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, He said: ‘Yes, it was a good meeting. The souls were stirred. The Blessed Beauty sent His confirmations and strong assistance.’
Today a new group of people came to see the Master and to be refreshed. On seeing the spirit which filled the air, their hearts were exhilarated, their souls grateful and heads bowed in respect.
This evening a meeting filled with joy and enthusiasm was held in the home of Mrs Morey in Malden. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the divine teachings and kindly admonished the audience, setting aglow a new fire of love in their hearts. When He had finished speaking, a woman asked about the purpose and value of the creation of the world. He spoke first of the virtues of the world of humanity and then about nearness to God, which uplifted the audience. But the questioner was preoccupied, she said that she did not understand His explanation. Therefore the Master spoke in parables, explaining that the greatest result of any perfect creation is the love of the Creator for His creation and that the essential nature of the life-giving God is to create and to spread His bounties and in doing so, God enjoys His creation.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “The Responsibilities of Oneness.” 239 Days in America, 28 Aug. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/08/28/the-responsibilities-of-oneness/. [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, 283-284. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/20#050371704 [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#section157 [return]