A Trip Down Market Street, April 14, 1906 1
IN THE WEEK AHEAD, the coming days stand out as some of the most eventful of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entire trip to America. He addresses 2,000 at Leland Stanford Junior University in Palo Alto, speaks on evolution at the Open Forum in San Francisco, and is welcomed to Temple Emanu-El by its chief Rabbi, Dr. Martin Meyer, where he delivers his longest talk in America. He then prepares to visit Phoebe Hearst’s 1,900 acre estate, the Hacienda del Pozo de Verona, just outside of San Francisco in Pleasanton.
On Monday [October 7], at a meeting arranged by Mr. Yamamoto, He addressed the Japanese YMCA at the Japanese Independent Church in Oakland, the talk being translated first into English, and then into Japanese. 3 From that time on some of the Japanese inquirers were present in almost every gathering.
Relief must be brought to the toiling masses. Otherwise, if these ills are allowed to become chronic, their cure will be difficult and they will precipitate a great revolution. 4
While tea was being served in the morning, the Master recalled the events of last night, saying:
The pastor said: ‘The messenger of God will speak in the church of God.’ No one will believe it unless they see it themselves. No matter to whom you may write these words, they will think it an exaggeration and will not believe it to be true.
Among those visiting the Master today was the Mayor of Berkeley. He questioned the Master about economic issues and received useful answers. In conclusion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:
We must strive until mankind achieves everlasting felicity. Laws are needed which can both preserve the ranks of individuals and secure peace and stability for them because society is like an army, which needs a general, captains, lieutenants and privates. Not all can be captains nor can all be soldiers. The grades of responsibility are essential and the differences of rank a necessity. Just as a family needs old and young, master and mistress, servants and attendants, likewise society needs organization and structure. However, all must be part of an order which will ensure that each lives in complete comfort within his own station. It should not be that the master lives in comfort while the servant is in pain; that is injustice. Similarly, it is impossible that all be either servants or masters; then there would be no order.
The mayor asked, ‘Will these things be realized soon?’ The Master replied:
As these laws are in conformity with the demands of the time, they will unfailingly prevail, although they will be implemented gradually. Everything can be prevented or resisted except the demands of the time. The time is ripe for the governments to remedy these ills. Relief must be brought to the toiling masses. Otherwise, if these ills are allowed to become chronic, their cure will be difficult and they will precipitate a great revolution.
The Master then gave an account of the unity and self-sacrifice of the friends of the East and expounded on various aspects of the true economic laws, which He had written while in Dublin. The mayor was so impressed that he could not help expressing his sincere admiration. He then invited the Master to an important meeting to be held in the city that evening. Because this meeting had political aims as its objective, the Master tendered His apologies.
This evening the Master spoke to a Bahá’í gathering at a hall on the subjects of divine civilization, spiritual capacity and heavenly power. The fragrances of the bounties of God subdued every heart, particularly those of the friends visiting from Honolulu and those from the vicinity. After the meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá remarked: ‘I love the friends of Honolulu very much. I wish that I could go to that area and to Japan to see how much capacity for the Cause of God they possess.’
At the request of a Jewish friend, the Master spoke to some Jews who had come, saying:
The day and age promised by the divine Prophets has appeared. This is the day in which Zion dances with joy. The day has come in which Carmel is revived and is rejoicing. That day has come for you to return to Palestine and see how it is flourishing.
Talk to Japanese Young Men’s Christian Association, Japanese Independent Church, Oakland, California 5
It is a great happiness to be here this evening, especially for the reason that the members of this Association have come from the region of the Orient. For a long time I have entertained a desire to meet some of the Japanese friends. That nation has achieved extraordinary progress in a short space of time—a progress and development which have astonished the world. Inasmuch as they have advanced in material civilization, they must assuredly possess the capacity for spiritual development. For this reason, I have an excessive longing to meet them. Praise be to God! This pleasure is now afforded me, for here in this city I am face to face with a revered group of the Japanese. According to report the people of the Japanese nation are not prejudiced. They investigate reality. Wherever they find truth, they prove to be its lovers. They are not attached tenaciously to blind imitations of ancient beliefs and dogmas. Therefore, it is my great desire to discourse with them upon a subject in order that the unity and blending together of the nations of the East and the nations of the West may be furthered and accomplished. In this way religious, racial and political prejudice, partisan bias and sectarianism will be dispelled amongst men. Any kind of prejudice is destructive to the body politic.
- Menon, Jonathan. “October 7, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 7 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/07/october-7-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 166. [return]
- Mr. Shinji Yamamoto, in a telephone conversation on January 23, 1979, confirmed that his father, Kanichi Yamamoto, arranged the meeting. [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=8#section198 [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, 343. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#831412130 [return]