October 28, 1912: The Week Ahead 1

IN THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá departed the San Francisco Bay area and spent two days in Sacramento, where he talked with a New Thought group, The Home of Truth, about the practical implications of modern religion. Today, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train is traversing the cold and treacherous mountain passes of Colorado, on its way back to Denver.

In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá compares events in the life of Jesus to the pageantry he saw surrounding a Cardinal of the Catholic Church in California, then heads northeast across the plains of Nebraska toward Chicago. While there he will meet the Indian poet and activist Rabindranath Tagore, whose book of poems, Gitanjali, will bring Tagore the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

The Journey East: Teaching on the Train 2

The next day, October 28, after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had revealed Tablets in response to various communications, a salesman came through the car with little ore samples. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá looked at these, some children came up. He talked lovingly with them, and then bought each one of them a dollar’s worth. Other children, seeing this, came running; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said jokingly, “‘The, too, have come with beggars’ looks!’” as He bought the same amount for each of them.

Observing His kindness, the parents and others came and began to ask Him questions, until again there was a crowd standing in the aisle and sitting on chair arms, as He taught them of Bahá’u’lláh’s Revelation. Mahmúd noted, “We had never seen or heard the Cause taught in such a manner.”

Yes, my greatest happiness is to be near the Holy Shrine 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá took tea in the dining car. Áqá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjavání remarked that it seemed the Master was happier because He was going towards the East. The Master replied, ‘Yes, my greatest happiness is to be near the Holy Shrine.’ Looking out of the window, He continued: ‘I love this plain because it is so much like the plain of ‘Akká.’

The Master then dictated replies to His letters. In the afternoon, a vendor came by with various items for sale. The Master looked at some ore specimens from the mines when a few children drew close, looking at Him with curiosity. He beckoned to them and asked, ‘What shall I buy you?’ He spoke to them with more love and kindness than the most benevolent father and bought each child various items costing about a dollar. More children ran to Him. He said, ‘They, too, look poor’ and also bought them a dollar’s worth of items.

When they saw this, the people were interested, curious to know who this great personage was. When someone asked the Master about His aims, He gave a detailed explanation of the divine teachings. For a long period of time the passengers gathered around His seat, some standing and some sitting, listening to His sweet voice and sublime words. We had never before seen or heard the Cause taught in such a manner. It was characteristic of this journey that the Master raised the call of Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá as the train passed through the mountains, valleys, plains and rivers.

Some Turks came to see Him in the afternoon. They said that there were more than 50 of them on their way to Constantinople in response to a call to assist their government and people. They were impressed to hear the Master’s explanation of universal peace and the unity of mankind. The Master asked that tea and water be brought from the train’s kitchen to another compartment where He served them tea. They thanked Him for His kindness and became attracted to His noble qualities and conduct.

’Abdu’l-Bahá reached Denver at about midnight. As the Master was very tired, He went to a hotel near the station to rest.

 26 October 1912, Talk at Assembly Hall, Hotel Sacramento, Sacramento, California 4

Among the bounties of God is revelation. Hence revelation is progressive and continuous. It never ceases. It is necessary that the reality of Divinity with all its perfections and attributes should become resplendent in the human world. The reality of Divinity is like an endless ocean. Revelation may be likened to the rain. Can you imagine the cessation of rain? Ever on the face of the earth somewhere rain is pouring down. Briefly, the world of existence is progressive. It is subject to development and growth. Consider how great has been the progress in this radiant century. Civilization has unfolded. Nations have developed. Industrialism and jurisprudence have expanded. Sciences, inventions and discoveries have increased. All of these show that the world of existence is continuously progressing and developing; and therefore, assuredly, the virtues characterizing the maturity of man must, likewise, expand and grow.

The greatest bestowal of God to man is the capacity to attain human virtues. Therefore, the teachings of religion must be reformed and renewed because past teachings are not suitable for the present time. For example, the sciences of bygone centuries are not adequate for the present because sciences have undergone reform. The industrialism of the past will not ensure present efficiency because industrialism has advanced. The laws of the past are being superseded because they are not applicable to this time. All material conditions pertaining to the world of humanity have undergone reform, have achieved development, and the institutes of the past are not to be compared with those of this age. The laws and institutes of former governments cannot be current today, for legislation must be in conformity with the needs and requirements of the body politic at this time.

This has been the case also with the religious teachings so long set forth in the temples and churches, because they were not based upon the fundamental principles of the religions of God. In other words, the foundation of the divine religions had become obscured and nonessentials of form and ceremony were adhered to—that is, the kernel of religion had apparently disappeared, and only the shell remained. Consequently, it was necessary that the fundamental basis of all religious teaching should be restored, that the Sun of Reality which had set should rise again, that the springtime which had refreshed the arena of life in ages gone by should appear anew, that the rain which had ceased should descend, that the breezes which had become stilled should blow once more.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “October 28, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 28 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/28/october-28-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 174-175. [return]
  3. ’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#section219 [return]
  4. 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, 378-379. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#528333013 [return]