“The Supreme Psychiatrist” 1
‘THE COCKROACHES SCUTTLED AS she approached, fleeing the sugary drops that had hardened on the countertop under the soda fountain. Feny E. Paulson had traveled to Salt Lake City all the way from Missoula, Montana — an approximately twenty-four hour journey. She lodged at the Young Women’s Christian Association. Feny noted that she found a dead fly in her German fries, and the chicken wings she ate still wore most of their feathers. But she was not there to be entertained; she had come to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
Meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had its own logistical complications. A telegram had been sent to Ms. Paulson, informing her of the date of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival. But it failed to mention what railroad he would be arriving on. “Hence I spent most of my second day making the streetcar circuit,” Feny wrote in her diary, “station to station, reading schedules of train arrivals.”
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá finally arrived in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. on September 29, 1912, on the Grand Central R.R., Feny was there to greet him. “It was an oriental picture in an occidental setting,” she wrote of the scene. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had arrived with his retinue of companions, including a young Japanese man, Saichiro Fujita.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
At the end of the interview the Master took a Bahá’í stone, pressed it to His forehead, then placed it on each of my eyes, His lips moving silently in a prayer or blessing he also gave me a locket-sized likeness of Himself as a father gives a treasure to one of His children.
… Although the details of each person in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá are individually different, they are the means to the same end—spiritual progress. Incidents forgotten and hidden in the recesses of one’s being, in His presence, are in a flash perceived and unobtrusively aired, alchemized as it were, removing veils that inhibit necessary spiritual development. The problems and burdens that were but stepping stones in the past become non-essentials in the light of His divine love. 3
I became extremely glad and prayed that God may bless your farming and bestow upon you spiritual strength and capacity for life everlasting 4
In the morning several newspaper reporters who had heard of His arrival came to see the Master. They were fascinated with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words concerning the history and teachings of the Cause of God. To one of them He said:
When I entered this city, I saw there was quite a stir. I asked the reason and was told that an agricultural convention was being held. I remarked that Bahá’u’lláh, too, organized a convention in Persia. The difference is that your congress is of this world but Bahá’u’lláh’s is divine. Great persons have come to the congress but their motive is earthly as they have assembled to consider questions concerning agriculture. But in that other congress holy ones have gathered who irrigate the field of hearts with the water of eternal life, as their motive is heavenly. This congress is decorated with earthly lamps while that is embellished with heavenly lights. The music of this is terrestrial while the strains of that are celestial. This convention meets in a private hall while that gathering is held under the tent of the unity of mankind and international peace. The queen of this congress is a lady bedecked with ornaments and embellishments of this mortal world but the king of that congress is the King of the Throne of Eternity, Whose sovereignty is divine. When I compared these two congresses I became extremely glad and prayed that God may bless your farming and bestow upon you spiritual strength and capacity for life everlasting.
Today many were attracted by the Master’s visit with us to the State Fair.297 He had been invited to the hotel by some delegates while others pleaded with Him to prolong His stay. Because of the shortness of time, He could not accept their invitation. ‘If we had time,’ He said, ‘some seeds would have been sown in this city, too. But the people are enjoying the celebration and we have no time at our disposal.’
This city is called the City of the Mormons because the majority of its inhabitants are of the Mormon denomination which allows polygamy and divorce.
In the afternoon the Master went to the place specifically set out and decorated for the agricultural exhibition. Alighting from the tram, He went to the exhibit of agricultural machines for plowing, planting and harvesting. He asked about their usage and cost. He then went to the vegetable and grain section and the fruit section. The Master praised the agricultural progress of America. The fruits and vegetables exhibited were among the finest specimens of grapes, apples, pears, pomegranates, cabbages and very large pumpkins, all of many colors and of varieties that we had not seen before.
The section manager saw the Master among the visitors and came towards us and the interpreter, asking to be introduced to Him. He accompanied the Master, offering Him samples of many fruits (even though the purchase, sale and consumption of these items was strictly prohibited). He described to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the various methods of agriculture and then concluded the tour at the grain and mineral display. The Master told us to purchase seeds of some of the fruits and flowers so they could be sent to the Holy Land to be planted at the Most Holy Shrine.
As He was returning to the hotel, the Master saw a Cardinal walking proudly with people on his way to dedicate a church. This Cardinal had heard about the Master and had spoken about the false Christ, thus he was often mentioned by the Master in His meetings.
24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts , Denver, Colorado 5
The world of humanity is filled with darkness; you are its radiant candles. It is very poor; you must be the treasury of the Kingdom. It is exceedingly debased; you must be the cause of its exaltation. It is bereft of divine graces; you must give it impetus and spiritual quickening. According to the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh you must love and cherish each individual member of humanity.
The first sign of faith is love. The message of the holy, divine Manifestations is love; the phenomena of creation are based upon love; the radiance of the world is due to love; the well-being and happiness of the world depend upon it. Therefore, I admonish you that you must strive throughout the human world to diffuse the light of love. The people of this world are thinking of warfare; you must be peacemakers. The nations are self-centered; you must be thoughtful of others rather than yourselves. They are neglectful; you must be mindful. They are asleep; you should be awake and alert. May each one of you be as a shining star in the horizon of eternal glory. This is my wish for you and my highest hope. I have come long distances that you may attain these attributes and divine favors. Praise be to God! I have attended this meeting which has for its purpose the commemoration of God.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “‘The Supreme Psychiatrist.’” -239 Days in America-, 29 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/29/the-supreme-psychiatrist/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 162. [return]
- Notes of Feny E. Paulson, National Bahá’í Archives, Wilmette, Ill. [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=7#section189 [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, 337. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#790816564 [return]