Mrs. Hearst Visits a Prisoner in ‘Akká 1
IN 1898 IT WASN’T easy to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He was still a political prisoner after thirty years, and Ottoman government spies reported on his activities. It was a dangerous prospect for him to be seen welcoming one of America’s wealthiest and most famous women into the prison city of ‘Akká in the bright light of day. Therefore, Phoebe Hearst stole into ‘Akká under cover of night.
Not long after she had first heard of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and his father, Bahá’u’lláh, Mrs. Hearst had planned a trip to Egypt and Palestine, and had invited some younger members of her family and a few friends. The pilgrims arrived in small groups so as to avoid raising the suspicions of the authorities; Mrs. Hearst, her maid, and her British friend, Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper, reached Palestine on or around Tuesday, December 20, 1898. “Mrs. Hearst and I arrived in Cairo, Egypt, after a terrible storm at sea,” her friend later wrote, “and remained there for a few days until all had been explained to us regarding our actual journey into the prison city.”
After a storm-tossed trip to Haifa in “a small, miserable boat,” the ladies checked into a hotel to wait for the sun to retire. Once darkness descended they mounted a carriage for the five-mile trip around the bay to ‘Akká along the hard beach sand. The carriage entered the prison city’s wooden gates, and turned left toward the house of ‘Abdu’lláh Páshá, a residence originally built about 1817 by the governor of the city, but which was now a run-down complex of apartments whose stucco suffered from an advanced stage of decay. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had rented rooms for his family there in 1896.
The next morning [October 15], in general conversation, the Presidential election was mentioned. ”’The president,’” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá noted, “‘must be a man who is not hankering for the presidency. He should be a person free from all thoughts of name and fame; he must think himself unworthy of the rank; and should say that he thinks himself unfit for the place and unable to bear this burdensome duty. … If the public good is the object, the president must be a person sensitive to the public weal and not a selfish and self-seeking one.’” During the day ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Persian friends toured the gardens.
The hearts of children are extremely pure and simple. A person’s heart must be like a child’s, pure and free from all contamination. 3
Early in the morning Mrs Phoebe Hearst presented the Master with flowers of various hues and perfumes. She suggested that, if He wished, He could stroll through the surrounding gardens and nursery. He first toured the house and then went to the nursery which had many beautiful flowers. A few rare specimens attracted His particular attention. He said that the seeds of those flowers should be sent to the Holy Land for cultivation in the gardens adjoining the Shrines of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh. Continuing, He said: ‘The real flowers are those in the garden of the hearts. The flowers of the love of God which are grown with the warmth of the Sun of Truth perfume the peoples of the world and never wither.’
At the table during lunch His discourse concerned the greatness of this time, the dignity of the world of humanity and the importance of acquiring eternal virtues and perfections. Turning to the grandchildren of Mrs Hearst He said:
In reality, children are the ornaments at the table, especially these children, who are very sweet! The hearts of children are extremely pure and simple. A person’s heart must be like a child’s, pure and free from all contamination.
His prayer at the dinner table was this:
He is God! How can we render Thee thanks, O Lord? Thy bounties are endless and our gratitude cannot equal them. How can the finite utter praise of the Infinite? Unable are we to voice our thanks for Thy favors and in utter powerlessness we turn wholly to Thy Kingdom beseeching the increase of Thy bestowals and bounties. Thou are the Giver, the Bestower, the Almighty.
He then gave an account of the history of the kings of the world and concluded with remarks about the death of Alexander.
When in the city of Zor the lamp of his life was extinguished and the last morn had dawned upon him, the wise men assembled by his corpse. One of them said, ‘Gracious God! The whole world could not contain this ambitious man yesterday but today a small plot of earth is sufficient to hold him.’ Another remarked, ‘With all his greatness, glory and eloquence of speech, Alexander never advised us in such a manner as he is instructing us today with this silence.’ Another said, ‘A few hours ago this man considered himself the sovereign of the whole world but now it has become evident that he was a servant and a subject.’
After dinner, He went into the salon. Mrs Hearst and her guests were so attracted by His words and actions that although she had not spoken openly to her relatives about the Faith and had been cautious about it, without hesitation she invited the Master to speak about the teachings of the Cause of God. He spoke of devotion to the Cause, the appearance of the lights of the Kingdom, universal peace and the oneness of humanity. After an exposition of the teachings, He spoke briefly on the variety and diversity in human capacities, adding: ‘Christ likened divine words to seeds, and the hearts and capacities of his listeners to soil of different kinds.’ Mrs Hearst related her experiences of her days in ‘Akká and told of her joy on hearing a prayer chanted in the Holy Land. At her request the Master, in a melodious voice, read a prayer in eloquent Arabic. Although the listeners did not understand Arabic, most of them said that the beauty of the Tablet and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s voice caused them to draw nearer to God. Some of those present this evening expressed their desire to accept the Faith. They said that although they had been aware of the Cause and had associated with the believers, by listening to the Master they now understood more.
12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4
When a movement fundamentally religious makes a weak nation strong, changes a nondescript tribal people into a mighty and powerful civilization, rescues them from captivity and elevates them to sovereignty, transforms their ignorance into knowledge and endows them with an impetus of advancement in all degrees of development (this is not theory, but historical fact), it becomes evident that religion is the cause of man’s attainment to honor and sublimity.
But when we speak of religion, we mean the essential foundation or reality of religion, not the dogmas and blind imitations which have gradually encrusted it and which are the cause of the decline and effacement of a nation. These are inevitably destructive and a menace and hindrance to a nation’s life—even as it is recorded in the Torah and confirmed in history that when the Jews became fettered by empty forms and imitations, the wrath of God became manifest. When they forsook the foundations of the law of God, Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered the Holy Land. He killed and made captive the people of Israel, laid waste the country and populous cities and burned the villages. Seventy thousand Jews were carried away captive to Babylon. He destroyed Jerusalem, despoiled the great Temple, desecrated the Holy of Holies and burned the Torah, the heavenly book of Scriptures. Therefore, we learn that allegiance to the essential foundation of the divine religions is ever the cause of development and progress, whereas the abandonment and beclouding of that essential reality through blind imitations and adherence to dogmatic beliefs are the causes of a nation’s debasement and degradation. After their conquest by the Babylonians the Jews were successively subjugated by the Greeks and Romans. Under the Roman general Titus in A.D. 70 the Holy Land was stripped and pillaged, Jerusalem razed to its foundations and the Israelites scattered broadcast throughout the world. So complete was their dispersion that they have continued without a country and government of their own to the present day.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda, and Jonathan Menon. “Mrs. Hearst Visits a Prisoner in ‘Akká.” 239 Days in America, 15 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/15/phoebe-hearst-visits-a-prisoner-in-akka/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168. [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#section206 [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, 363-364. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#272161810 [return]
October 14, 1912: The Week Ahead 1
THE PAST SEVEN DAYS stand out as some of the most eventful of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s entire trip to America. He argued for a novel, scientific basis for peace in front of two thousand at Stanford University in Palo Alto, tackled the subject of evolution at the Open Forum in San Francisco, and engaged Rabbi Martin A. Meyer’s Reform Jewish congregation at the Temple Emanu-El by delivering his longest address in America. Over this weekend he is spending three nights in the countryside, at the palatial estate of Phoebe Hearst in nearby Pleasanton.
In the week ahead we will hear Americans’ earliest impressions of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, during the 1898 pilgrimage to ‘Akká that Mrs. Hearst organized, and we will follow ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Los Angeles as he pays his respects to one of the first Americans ever to reach out to him across the ocean, the late Thornton Chase.
On Monday afternoon [October 14] He went with the Persian friends to the estate of Phoebe Hearst, at her invitation, and remained for two nights. Mahmúd observed, “Some of the relatives of the lady were also present. As there were people of different dispositions, the discourses of the Beloved were brief and full of wisdom according to the exigencies of the occasion. Many important ideas were couched in condensed sentences so that they made the maximum of effect with the minimum of words.”
O Lord! Send down upon us Thy heavenly food and confer upon us Thy blessing. 3
In the morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the election of the president of the republic. He said:
The president must be a man who does not insistently seek the presidency. He should be a person free from all thoughts of name and rank; rather, he should say, ‘I am unworthy and incapable of this position and cannot bear this great burden.’ Such persons deserve the presidency. If the object is to promote the public good, then the president must be a well-wisher of all and not a self-seeking person. If the object, however, is to promote personal interests, then such a position will be injurious to humanity and not beneficial to the public.
He then went to lunch. At the request of those present at the table the Master chanted the following prayer:
He is God! Thou seest us, O my God, gathered around this table, praising Thy bounty, with our gaze set upon Thy Kingdom. O Lord! Send down upon us Thy heavenly food and confer upon us Thy blessing. Thou art verily the Bestower, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
The Master then spoke extensively on the history of some famous people.
In the afternoon He went for an automobile ride through valleys, hills and meadows as far as the breakwater. When He returned to the house, the Master rested in the garden on special chairs brought for Him and the others and gave a detailed history of the life and teachings of the Blessed Beauty.
At the dinner table He spoke of His gratitude for the blessings of God and the importance of assisting the weak and poor. He was asked, ‘How is it that the desires of some people are achieved while others are not?’ The gist of the Master’s response was:
What conforms with divine decree will be realized. In addition, good intentions and sound thoughts attract confirmations. The desires of human beings are endless. No matter what level a human being reaches, he can still attain higher ones, so he is always making effort and desiring more. He can never find peace but through effort and resignation, so that, notwithstanding all efforts in worldly affairs, the human heart remains free and happy. He neither becomes proud on attaining wealth and position nor becomes dejected on losing them. This station can be attained only through the power of faith.
Such explanations and exhortations repeated at every meeting were warnings and reminders for these prominent people. Day by day their humility and sincerity increased owing to His presence.
12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4
There is another and more significant aspect to this religious impulse and impetus. The children of Israel were in bondage and captivity in the land of Egypt four hundred years. They were in an extreme state of degradation and slavery under the tyranny and oppression of the Egyptians. While they were in the condition of abject poverty, in the lowest degree of abasement, ignorance and servility, Moses suddenly appeared among them. Although He was but a shepherd, such majesty, grandeur and efficiency became manifest in Him through the power of religion that His influence continues to this day. His Prophethood was established throughout the land, and the law of His Word became the foundation of the laws of the nations. This unique Personage, single and alone, rescued the children of Israel from bondage through the power of religious training and discipline. He led them to the Holy Land and founded there a great civilization which has become permanent and renowned and under which these people attained the highest degree of honor and glory. He freed them from bondage and captivity. He imbued them with qualities of progressiveness and capability. They proved to be a civilizing people with instincts toward education and scholastic attainment. Their philosophy became renowned; their industries were celebrated throughout the nations. In all lines of advancement which characterize a progressive people they achieved distinction. In the splendor of the reign of Solomon their sciences and arts advanced to such a degree that even the Greek philosophers journeyed to Jerusalem to sit at the feet of the Hebrew sages and acquire the basis of Israelitish law. According to eastern history this is an established fact. Even Socrates visited the Jewish doctors in the Holy Land, consorting with them and discussing the principles and basis of their religious belief. After his return to Greece he formulated his philosophical teaching of divine unity and advanced his belief in the immortality of the spirit beyond the dissolution of the body. Without doubt, Socrates absorbed these verities from the wise men of the Jews with whom he came in contact. Hippocrates and other philosophers of the Greeks likewise visited Palestine and acquired wisdom from the Jewish prophets, studying the basis of ethics and morality, returning to their country with contributions which have made Greece famous.
- Sockett, Robert. “October 14, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 14 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/14/october-14-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 168. [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#section205 [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, 362-363. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#004021410 [return]
Phoebe Apperson Hearst 1
PHOEBE APPERSON HEARST HELD her dress above her shoes to step from the limousine parked in front of 1815 California Street, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had been staying. It was October 13, 1912. She was a small woman and kept her hair pulled tight on top of her head except for several short curls that hung loose to frame her face. After her husband died in 1891, she took over what was then the largest private mining company in the United States. The University of California at Berkeley had risen on her dollars. Today she had arrived to escort ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to her nineteen-hundred-acre estate in nearby Pleasanton for a three-night stay in the countryside.
It was a sunny day, and they drew the blinds in Mrs. Hearst’s limousine, then sped off down California Street toward the ferry terminal at the end of Market Street. After disembarking from the ferry across the bay in Oakland, the journey to Phoebe Hearst’s estate took them thirty-five miles through the redwoods of California.
On Sunday, October 13, He spoke at the reading room for the blind.
Every universal matter is from God; and limitations are from man. 3
In the morning one of the Japanese friends came together with a group of people to visit the Master. This Japanese friend said that he had studied most religions but found none as useful and effective in bringing tranquillity to the people as this Faith. The Master replied:
I hope that you will become heavenly and not just be a Japanese, an Arab, an Englishman or a Persian, Turk or American; that you will become divine and bring your life into accord with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Observe: I am one of the servants of Bahá’u’lláh, helpless and weak but as I am under the shadow of His teachings you see what confirmations descend upon me.
The fame, grandeur and beauty of the Master were such that many civic, educational and social leaders of the area visited Him, considering it an honor to be in His presence. His noble mission and talks about the Cause of God, together with the enthusiasm of the people, seemed to fulfill the verse from the Qur’án: ‘The day when the people shall stand before the Lord of creation.’ Mrs [Phoebe] Hearst, a wealthy and prominent person who had visited the Master a few years ago in the Holy Land but who had become distant because of her association with worldly people, suddenly requested permission to visit Him. Realizing the privilege of His presence, she invited Him and His companions to her home. Because her invitation was sincere, it was accepted. In the afternoon, the Master and His servants went with Mrs Hearst to her home. After traveling inland, through the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, the automobile passed through verdant hills, green valleys and lovely towns and villages until it reached Mrs Hearst’s large, regal mansion. It is situated on a beautiful hillside on the outskirts of Pleasanton, surrounded by luxuriant gardens, green lawns and pathways overflowing with flowers. Some of Mrs Hearst’s relatives were also present among her guests.
In keeping with the circumstances of the occasion, for there were people of different backgrounds present, the Master’s talks were brief yet full of wisdom. Many important ideas were couched in short sentences, giving the maximum effect with a minimum of words. The guests asked questions of each other about the Cause.
After dinner, the Master went into the outer hall and spoke briefly:
Every universal matter is from God; and limitations are from man. Therefore, if people’s services and efforts are undertaken for the benefit of all, they are acceptable to God and leave lasting traces. Otherwise, every other effort is limited and transitory.
After obtaining the Master’s permission to have music, the guests sang songs accompanied by the piano. The meeting ended with great joy and happiness.
12 October 1912, Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4
How shall we determine whether religion has been the cause of human advancement or retrogression?
We will first consider the Founders of the religions—the Prophets—review the story of Their lives, compare the conditions preceding Their appearance with those subsequent to Their departure, following historical records and irrefutable facts instead of relying upon traditionary statements which are open to both acceptance and denial.
Among the great Prophets was Abraham, Who, being an iconoclast and a Herald of the oneness of God, was banished from His native land. He founded a family upon which the blessing of God descended, and it was owing to this religious basis and ordination that the Abrahamic house progressed and advanced. Through the divine benediction noteworthy and luminous prophets issued from His lineage. There appeared Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, David and Solomon. The Holy Land was conquered by the power of the Covenant of God with Abraham, and the glory of the Solomonic wisdom and sovereignty dawned. All this was due to the religion of God which this blessed lineage established and upheld. It is evident that throughout the history of Abraham and His posterity this was the source of their honor, advancement and civilization. Even today the descendants of His household and lineage are found throughout the world.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Phoebe Apperson Hearst.” 239 Days in America, 13 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/13/phoebe-apperson-hearst/. [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#section204 [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, 361-362. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#018297801 [return]
Rabbi Martin Meyer Hosts ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Temple 1
THE LATE MORNING SUNLIGHT filtered down through opalescent windows and settled on the soft features of Rabbi Martin A. Meyer. At 10:45 a.m. on the cool morning of Saturday, October 12, 1912, he stood upon his pulpit, hand-carved from weathered oak, and looked out over two thousand members of his congregation. They filled the majestic sanctuary of San Francisco’s Temple Emanu-El.
The massive Gothic Revival synagogue, built in the 1860s, was one of the largest vaulted chambers ever constructed in the state of California. Two octagonal towers shot up at the temple’s front corners on Sutter Street, supporting bronze-plated Russian domes that impressed themselves on the city’s skyline. The vaults and the domes had come crashing down on the fateful morning of April 18, 1906, and the temple had burned to its skeleton in the fires. But just sixteen months later Temple Emanu-El rose again from the ashes: squat towers now stood where the domes had been, a ceiling of Oregon pine replaced the vaults, and chandeliers hung down in the shape of six-pointed stars.
“It is a privilege, and a very high privilege indeed,” Rabbi Meyer said, “to welcome in our midst this morning Abdul Baha, a great teacher of our age and generation… . Abdul Baha is the representative of one of the religious systems of life, and it appeals to us Jews, because we Jews feel that we have fathered that ideal throughout the centuries of men.”
On Saturday, October 12, He presented His memorable address to an audience of 2,000 in the Temple Emmanu-El, emphasizing “the truth of His Holiness Christ, the reality of Islam, the oneness of humanity and universal peace.”
The Fundamental Unity of Religious Thought 3
The Master’s address at the Jewish Temple was unique and magnificent.313 His talk, which was delivered to some two thousand Jews, concerned the truth of Christ, the reality of Islam, the oneness of humanity and universal peace. This gathering was clear evidence of the power and majesty of the Center of the Covenant. Indeed, it can be counted as a miracle. The proofs supporting the truth of the reality of Christ and Muhammad, the Messengers of God, flowed from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s lips with such majesty and authority that all were dumbfounded. After His talk, many humbly came to see Him to express their gratitude, except for a very few diehards who left in dismay. The chairman of the meeting, considered to be an eminent and learned Jew, introduced the Master:
It is our privilege to welcome in our midst ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, a great teacher of our age and generation. The heart of the Orient seems to be essentially religious, and now and then, out of the heart of the Orient, the fundamental religious message for the world is stated and restated. This century is very great and this age is the age of the maturity of the world. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the representative of one of the religious systems which appeals to us Jews, because we feel that we have fathered that idea throughout the centuries. This morning He will speak to us, the followers and the children of Israel, in His native tongue through an interpreter, on ‘The Fundamental Unity of Religious Thought’. I am certain that whatever He says will be of great significance to us. …
‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave this address in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper:
Today we spoke in the Jewish temple. You saw how it was proven that Christ was the Word of God and Muhammad the Messenger of God. From the beginning of Christianity and Islam up to the present day, no one has spoken thus, proving the validity of Christ and Muhammad in a Jewish temple and in a manner to which no one took exception. Rather, most were appreciative and content. This is none other than the assistance of Bahá’u’lláh.
The effect and influence of the address were such that from then on there was evidence of unity and communication between the Christians and Jews. They even made plans to visit each other’s places of worship to give talks about the unity of peoples and religions. Whenever they met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá or attended Bahá’í gatherings, they expressed their gratitude from the depths of their hearts for this great Cause and its new teachings.
Talk at Temple Emmanu-El, 450 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California 4
The greatest bestowal of God in the world of humanity is religion, for assuredly the divine teachings of religion are above all other sources of instruction and development to man. Religion confers upon man eternal life and guides his footsteps in the world of morality. It opens the doors of unending happiness and bestows everlasting honor upon the human kingdom. It has been the basis of all civilization and progress in the history of mankind.
We will, therefore, investigate religion, seeking from an unprejudiced standpoint to discover whether it is the source of illumination, the cause of development and the animating impulse of all human advancement. We will investigate independently, free from the restrictions of dogmatic beliefs, blind imitations of ancestral forms and the influence of mere human opinion; for as we enter this question, we will find some who declare that religion is a cause of uplift and betterment in the world, while others assert just as positively that it is a detriment and a source of degradation to mankind. We must give these questions thorough and impartial consideration so that no doubt or uncertainty may linger in our minds regarding them.
- Menon, Jonathan. “Rabbi Martin Meyer Hosts ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Temple Emanu-El.” 239 Days in America, 12 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/12/rabbi-martin-a-meyer-hosts-abdul-baha-longest-address-in-america/. [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#section203 [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, 361. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#592795487 [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Darwin, and the Evolution of All Things 1
On the evening of October 10, 1912, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the Open Forum in San Francisco — a group devoted to the discussion of economic and philosophical ideas — and he tackled the issue of evolution head on. He argued in favor of evolution, albeit with critical differences from the physical mechanics of Darwin’s theory, and he drew an entirely different set of metaphysical conclusions. …
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk at the Open Forum was one of the longest and most intricate he delivered during his time in America. But its underlying logic rested on two principles. First, while human beings have developed biologically through many stages of evolution, we were always destined to be human, realizing a latent potential over time. Second, the qualities that distinguish us — reason, abstract thought, scientific advancement, and so on — are not merely minor differentiators, but characteristics that separate us fundamentally from animals.
Every matter that is contrary to sound reason and science and is opposed to the fundamental principles of the divine religions is an obstacle to progress and a cause of people avoiding and rejecting the laws of God. 2
Some physicians were in His presence today. The Master spoke with them about the use of diet to heal diseases. He then dealt with the spiritual remedy for the intellectual diseases of the people and nations:
Today, the greatest and speediest remedy and the sole effective antidote that the Divine Physician has prescribed for the world’s ills is the oneness of humanity, universal peace, the explanation of the principles of the divine religions and the removal of dogmatic imitations and customs which are contrary to science and reason. Indeed, one of the chief reasons for irreligion among people is that the leaders of religion, such as the Catholic priests, take a little bread and wine, blow a breath over it and then say that the bread is the flesh of Christ and the wine is the blood of Christ. Of course, a man of understanding would not accept these dogmas and would say that if this bread and wine is turned into the flesh and blood of Christ by the breath of a priest, then the priest must be superior to Christ. Thus Bahá’u’lláh has said, ‘Every matter that is contrary to sound reason and science and is opposed to the fundamental principles of the divine religions is an obstacle to progress and a cause of people avoiding and rejecting the laws of God.’
A Bahá’í children’s meeting was held in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper. When the Master saw the children, He remarked: ‘Praise be to God! What radiant children they are!’ He spoke briefly, encouraging and praising them for their courtesy and upbringing. Kissing them one by one, He greeted each child in short English sentences and each received from Him some flowers and sweets.
He then went upstairs to meet with some Hindus who had come to visit Him. His conversation with them was this:
Man must irrigate the Blessed Tree which has eternal fruits and is the cause of life for all on earth. This goodly Tree, though hidden at first, will erelong envelop the whole world, and its leaves and branches will reach the heavens. It is like the Tree which Buddha planted: although at first it was a small sapling, it eventually enveloped the countries of Asia.
The Master left Mrs Goodall’s home to go for a walk. He stopped at a neighbor’s door. The lady of the house brought a chair for Him. He sat for awhile, pleased with the woman’s reverence and thoughtfulness, and bestowed His loving kindness upon her.
In the evening the Master spoke before a joyful gathering of the Theosophical Society. The president of the society introduced ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in glowing terms, referring to the appearance of perfect souls and divine manifestations, saying:
Each of those teachers was an educator of the world of humanity and each brought a Book for the training of the souls. This evening we have the exalted honor to have one of these educators among us. He has brought a new Message for the evolution of humanity and will speak to us this evening. I have the utmost honor to introduce to you His Holiness ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whom you know well.
The Master then spoke about the rising of the Sun of Reality from different signs of the zodiac, the immortality of the spirit and the universality of the new Revelation. The audience was very interested and requested His permission to ask questions. Their enthusiasm and admiration was heightened when they heard His persuasive answers.
10 October 1912, Talk at Open Forum, San Francisco, California 3
Virtue, or perfection, belongs to man, who possesses both the capacity of the senses and ideal perception. For instance, astronomical discoveries are man’s accomplishments. He has not gained this knowledge through his senses. The greater part of it has been attained through intellect, through the ideal senses. Man’s inventions have appeared through the avenue of his reasonable faculties. All his scientific attainments have come through the faculty of reason. Briefly, the evidences of intellect or reason are manifest in man. By them he is differentiated from the animal. Therefore, the animal kingdom is distinct and inferior to the human kingdom. Notwithstanding this, the philosophers of the West have certain syllogisms, or demonstrations, whereby they endeavor to prove that man had his origin in the animal kingdom; that although he is now a vertebrate, he originally lived in the sea; from thence he was transferred to the land and became vertebrate; that gradually his feet and hands appeared in his anatomical development; then he began to walk upon all fours, after which he attained to human stature, walking erect. They find that his anatomy has undergone successive changes, finally assuming human form, and that these intermediate forms or changes are like links connected. Between man and the ape, however, there is one link missing, and to the present time scientists have not been able to discover it. Therefore, the greatest proof of this western theory of human evolution is anatomical, reasoning that there are certain vestiges of organs found in man which are peculiar to the ape and lower animals, and setting forth the conclusion that man at some time in his upward progression has possessed these organs which are no longer functioning but appear now as mere rudiments and vestiges.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Darwin, and the Evolution of All Things.” 239 Days in America, 11 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/11/abdul-baha-darwin-and-the-evolution-of-all-things/. [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#section202 [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, 357-358. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#962400967 [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Six 1
WE HAVE REACHED THE end of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sixth month in North America. Let’s look back at some of the highlights of the past thirty day. …
On October 10, He addressed the open Forum in San Francisco and the next day spoke to the Theosophical Society.
If philosophers believed that the highest perfection was not to believe in abstract and spiritual truth, it would be preferable to go to the cow 3
In addition to the gatherings of the friends at the Master’s residence, there were also meetings outside, which demonstrates the grandeur and power of the Centre of the Covenant. One took place at a high school in Berkeley where the Master spoke on the reality of God and the proofs of the revelation of the Manifestations and their teachings. Many from the area were enthused with His talk and came afterwards to receive illumination from Him.
Another meeting was held at the Open Forum in San Francisco. Although the audience was composed mostly of philosophers and professors, they were all humbled by the talk. The Master’s profound words contrasted the philosophy of the East with that of the West, elucidated the power beyond nature and explained the inherent distinction between mankind and other creatures. He concluded with the assertion that if philosophers believed that the highest perfection was not to believe in abstract and spiritual truth, it would be preferable to go to the cow, who, without any formal training, already had this attribute. When the Master uttered these words, everyone burst into laughter. This kind of humor, delivered in such a light-hearted manner, is popular and accepted by the Americans and so brought smiles and joy to the audience. At the conclusion of the Master’s talk, when a philosopher stood up, several were heard to say to one another that the cow takes the lead in not believing in intellectual thought. The result was that everyone, even the philosophers, bore witness to the might of the divine teachings and influence of the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Indeed, the Master’s address provided a perfect and decisive proof for such people.
Talk at Open Forum, San Francisco, California 4
Man is distinguished above the animals through his reason. The perceptions of man are of two kinds: tangible, or sensible, and reasonable, whereas the animal perceptions are limited to the senses, the tangible only. The tangible perceptions may be likened to this candle, the reasonable perceptions to the light. Calculations of mathematical problems and determining the spherical form of the earth are through the reasonable perceptions. The center of gravity is a hypothesis of reason. Reason itself is not tangible, perceptible to the senses. Reason is an intellectual verity or reality. All qualities are ideal realities, not tangible realities. For instance, we say this man is a scholarly man. Knowledge is an ideal attainment not perceptible to the senses. When you see this scholarly man, your eye does not see his knowledge, your ear cannot hear his science, nor can you sense it by taste. It is not a tangible verity. Science itself is an ideal verity. It is evident, therefore, that the perceptions of man are twofold: the reasonable and the tangible, or sensible.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey So Far: Month Six.” 239 Days in America, 10 Oct. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/10/10/abdul-bahas-journey-so-far-month-six/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 167-168. [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#section201 [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, 357. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#551373545 [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Speaks at Stanford University 1
“THE HIGHEST PRAISE is due to men who devote their energies to science,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “and the noblest center is a center wherein the sciences and arts are taught and studied.” He wouldn’t have heard many complaints from the audience he was addressing on the morning of Tuesday, October 8, 1912 — two thousand students and faculty of Stanford University.
They had filled the Assembly Hall just before 10 a.m. and now, at about 10:25, they looked up at the stage from the rows of wooden seats arcing across the floor of the auditorium, and down upon it from behind the filigreed balustrade of the balcony that ringed the space in a semicircle. They awaited the “venerable prophet, with his long gray beard and Persian cloak and turban,” the Palo Altan, a local newspaper, observed.
On Wednesday, October 9, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke to a large gathering at a high school auditorium in Berkeley.
If two persons differ in a matter and that difference ends in discord, then both are wrong and their position unacceptable 3
Before He left Palo Alto several people gathered around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He spoke of the differences in various religions, with special reference to Christianity, saying:
Some called Christ God, some the Word of God, some others the Prophet of God, and through these differences disputes arose so that instead of spirituality there was hatred and amity was replaced by enmity. But Bahá’u’lláh has closed all the doors to such differences by appointing the interpreter of the Book and by establishing the Universal House of Justice – that is, the People’s Parliament. And by commanding an end to interference in people’s beliefs and consciences, He has barred the way to these divisions. He has even said that if two persons differ in a matter and that difference ends in discord, then both are wrong and their position unacceptable.
After many similar talks, the Master returned to San Francisco. A meeting was especially called in the evening at the Japanese Club to hear Him speak. As the meeting began, a Japanese scholar stood up, and after obtaining permission from the Master, recited in English an ode about the attributes of the Cause of God and praising ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The chairman then introduced the Master with great respect.
The Master then gave a fascinating talk on the dangers of prejudice, the validity and proofs of the Prophets and the truth of Islam and Christianity. He also spoke on the spread of the Cause of God, the influence of the divine teachings and spiritual education, as well as explaining the teachings and writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Even though the talk was first translated from Persian into English and then from English into Japanese, the audience was awed and excited to hear His powerful reasoning and was anxious to hear the translation of the talk.
From this day forward multitudes came every day in great humility to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and to offer praise and thanks for the teachings.
Talk to Japanese Young Men’s Christian Association, Japanese Independent Church, Oakland, California 4
Religion must be the cause of love. Religion must be the cause of justice, for the wisdom of the Manifestations of God is directed toward the establishing of the bond of a love which is indissoluble. The bonds which hold together the body politic are not sufficient. These bonds may be mentioned—for instance, the bond of patriotism. This is evidently not a sufficient bond, for how often it happens that people of the same nation wage civil war amongst themselves. The bond of fellowship may be racial, but history proves this is not sufficiently strong, for tremendous wars have broken out between peoples of the same racial lineage. Again, the bond holding men together may be political. How often it happens that the diplomacy of nations makes a treaty of peace one day and on the morrow a declaration of war! It is historically evident and manifest that these bonds are not self-sufficient.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Speaks at Stanford University.” 239 Days in America, 9 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/09/abdul-bahas-landmark-address-at-stanford-university/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 167. [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#section200 [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, 344. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#206325873 [return]
A Most Extraordinary Day 1
DR. DAVID STARR JORDAN, the President of Stanford University, arrived at the train station in Palo Alto, California, to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá not long after 9 a.m. on Tuesday, October 8, 1912. Last Thursday, just a few hours after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had arrived in San Francisco, Jordan had been one of the first to call on him. He invited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to address his student body at 10:15 this morning.
Dr. Jordan, now sixty-two years old, had served as the university’s president since 1891 when the institution opened. Leland Stanford, Jr., an only child, had died of typhoid fever two months shy of his sixteenth birthday while on a trip to Europe in 1884. His parents — the tycoon, Senator, and former Governor Leland Stanford and his wife Jane Elizabeth Lathrop — founded the university in his memory. “The children of California shall be our children,” Leland Stanford said.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá left San Francisco early. He usually traveled with secretaries and a few other companions, but today an entourage of twenty-nine persons crowded into the train cabins for the commute south along the western shore of San Francisco Bay, through the lands that would later become known as Silicon Valley. From the Palo Alto station, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rode in Jordan’s car up the long driveways to the Mission Revival buildings of Stanford’s Main Quad, which appeared on approach as a long low row of orange and red, stretched out above a lawn of green.
The large auditorium was filled to capacity with 1,800 students and 180 faculty and staff. Jordan mounted the stage with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and began his words of introduction.
He spoke at Leland Stanford Junior University in Palo Alto on Tuesday, October 8, and lunched with President Jordan at his home afterward. That evening He spoke at the Palo Alto Unitarian Church. An entire edition of the Palo Altan was devoted to articles concerning His visit and transcriptions of His addresses. The main headline of the November 1 edition read, “ABDUL BAHA, THE BAHA’I PROPHET, SPEAKS AT Stanford University.”
Unity of all phenomena, man’s predominance over nature, universal peace and divine civilization 3
Today was one of the most significant days. At the invitation of Dr David Starr Jordan, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Leland Stanford Junior University in Palo Alto. The teachings of the Cause of God were given to a large, illustrious audience at this important educational center. Apart from some 1,800 students and 180 professors from the university, many civic leaders and prominent people from the area were also assembled in the auditorium; its satellite rooms and hallways were full and many people were standing outside the entrance as well.
The president stood and made his introductory remarks:
It is our privilege to have with us, through the kindness and courtesy of our Persian friends, one of the great religious teachers of the world, one of the natural successors of the old Hebrew prophets. He is said sometimes to be the founder of a new religion. He has upward of three millions of people following along the lines in which He leads. It is not exactly a new religion, however. The religion of brotherhood, of good will, of friendship between men and nations is as old as good thinking and good living may be. It may be said in some sense to be the oldest of religions … I have now the pleasure, the great honor of presenting to you ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
The Master then spoke about the unity of all phenomena, man’s predominance over nature, universal peace and divine civilization in such a way that the entire audience was overcome with admiration. The applause shook the building to its very foundation. The president closed this memorable occasion with these remarks:
We are all under very great obligation to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for this illuminating expression of the brotherhood of man and the value of international peace. I think we can best show our appreciation by simply a rising vote of thanks.
The audience immediately rose and showed their respect by clapping and stomping their feet.
The Master had lunch with Dr Jordan at his home. Later that evening the Master spoke at the Unitarian Church of Palo Alto. His theme was the reality of divinity. The people were told the mysteries of the Kingdom and learned of spiritual matters. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then went to the home of Mrs Isabel Merriman for dinner. The group present at the table was honored to be in His presence and were enchanted by His words.
Talk at Leland Stanford Junior University, Palo Alto, California 4
The greatest attainment in the world of humanity has ever been scientific in nature. It is the discovery of the realities of things. Inasmuch as I find myself in the home of science—for this is one of the great universities of the country and well known abroad—I feel a keen sense of joy.
The highest praise is due to men who devote their energies to science, and the noblest center is a center wherein the sciences and arts are taught and studied. Science ever tends to the illumination of the world of humanity. It is the cause of eternal honor to man, and its sovereignty is far greater than the sovereignty of kings. The dominion of kings has an ending; the king himself may be dethroned; but the sovereignty of science is everlasting and without end. Consider the philosophers of former times. Their rule and dominion is still manifest in the world. The Greek and Roman kingdoms with all their grandeur passed away; the ancient sovereignties of the Orient are but memories, whereas the power and influence of Plato and Aristotle still continue. Even now in schools and universities of the world their names are revered and commemorated, but where do we hear the names of bygone kings extolled? They are forgotten and rest in the valley of oblivion. It is evident that the sovereignty of science is greater than the dominion of rulers. Kings have invaded countries and achieved conquest through the shedding of blood, but the scientist through his beneficent achievements invades the regions of ignorance, conquering the realm of minds and hearts. Therefore, his conquests are everlasting. May you attain extraordinary progress in this center of education. May you become radiant lights flooding the dark regions and recesses of ignorance with illumination.
- Menon, Jonathan. “A Most Extraordinary Day.” 239 Days in America, 8 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/08/a-most-extraordinary-day/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 166-167. [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#section199 [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, 348-349. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/27#039242980 [return]
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]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Ayn Rand, and the Poor 1
When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was a young man, his father wrote a series of letters to the world’s political and religious leaders. He called them to account for their treatment of the powerless. “Fear the sighs of the poor,” he wrote to Sultan ‘Abdu’l-‘Azíz, ruler of the Ottoman Empire, “and of the upright in heart who, at every break of day, bewail their plight.” The poor, Bahá’u’lláh stated, “are thy treasures on earth. It behoveth thee, therefore, to safeguard thy treasures from the assaults of them who wish to rob thee. Inquire into their affairs, and ascertain, every year, nay every month, their condition, and be not of them that are careless of their duty.”
In America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke regularly of the means of alleviating poverty. Legislation must protect the poor, he said, and work to limit extremes of poverty and wealth. But more essential, he argued, was a change in people’s hearts — something that would demonstrate itself through material generosity and sacrifice. Moreover, he called on people to associate with the poor. It was something he had spent a great portion of his life doing.
On His first Sunday in San Francisco, October 6, Abdu’l-Bahá addressed the congregation of the First Unitarian Church in the morning and of the First Congregational Church of Oakland in the evening.
The reality of divinity is holy beyond descent and incarnation but the divine Manifestations are expressive of the attributes and perfections of God, the All-Praised, the Exalted. 3
The Master was invited to deliver an address at the First Unitarian Church of San Francisco. The moment He entered the church the audience stood respectfully. When the music ended, the Master was introduced by the pastor of the church, who dwelt on His 40 years of imprisonment, the martyrdom of the Eastern Bahá’ís, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s release from prison and His journey to spread the teachings of the Ancient Beauty. He also mentioned the teachings of universal peace and the unity of nations and peoples under the shadow of the Greatest Name. The pastor then read a translated passage from the Hidden Words.
The Master stood and delivered a comprehensive talk on the degrees of love, amity, peace and the oneness of mankind; the universality of the Manifestations of God; the truth of Islam; and the news of the appearance of Bahá’u’lláh. He concluded by chanting an inspiring prayer in Persian. Again the pastor stood, praised the Master’s talk and thanked Him for His address. At the conclusion of the meeting, a crowd of people came to the Master to shake His hand, expressing their sincerity and heartfelt appreciation. Those who had not yet had the honor of visiting Him took His address so they might meet Him at His home.
In the afternoon a number of Bahá’ís and non-Bahá’ís gathered to meet Him. In answer to a question from an Indian regarding Sufism and the Trinity, He stated:
The reality of divinity is holy beyond descent and incarnation but the divine Manifestations are expressive of the attributes and perfections of God, the All-Praised, the Exalted. They are like mirrors placed before the Sun of Truth, so if they claim that the Sun of Truth is in them, they speak the truth. However, they mean that the signs and light of the Sun of Truth are in them, and not the Sun itself.
In the evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the First Congregational Church in Oakland. The influence of the Cause and the majesty of the Covenant made such an impression and was so widespread that during his introduction the pastor of the church said: ‘Tonight the messenger of God will speak in the church of God and you will hear with your own ears.’
The Master spoke magnificently on the fundamental oneness of the principles of religions and the truth of Islam. His words moved and deeply affected everyone, increasing their joy and eagerness and raising the status of the Cause of God.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 4
My highest hope and desire is that the strongest and most indissoluble bond shall be established between the American nation and the people of the Orient. This is my prayer to God. May the day come when through divine and spiritual activity in the human world the religions shall be reconciled and all races of mankind come together in unity and love. Fifty years ago Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed the peace of the nations and oneness of the divine religions, addressing His words to all the kings and rulers of the world in specific Tablets. Therefore, my supreme desire is the unity of the East and West, universal peace and the oneness of the world of humanity.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Ayn Rand, and the Poor.” 239 Days in America, 6 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/06/reflections-on-poverty-and-the-example-of-abdul-baha/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 166. [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#section197 [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, 342. [https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#685192122] [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Addresses a Persecuted Minority 1
THREE LANGUAGES, FROM THREE corners of the Earth, reverberated in rapid succession off the walls shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday, October 7, 1912. The sonorous Persian of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá started the rhythm. Fluid English followed from the tongue of Dr. Ameen Fareed, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s interpreter. As each string of Fareed’s words fell silent, the Reverend Kunio Kodahira intoned the same sentence in Japanese for his congregation’s ears at the Japanese Independent Church at 552 Sycamore Street in Oakland, California. …
Five years later at the Japanese Independent Church, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to speak to an audience comprised of a persecuted minority, something he had, by now, done many times in the United States. “I feel a keen sense of joy being present among you this evening,” he began, summoning almost exactly the same words as he had used back on April 23, in front of the black audience at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. “It is for some time that I have entertained a special desire to meet some of the friends from Japan, for, as I have often observed, the Japanese nation has achieved extraordinary progress in a short space of time — such progress, such achievements, have astonished the world.”
A spiritless body is a dead one. Indeed, its perfection depends on the acquisition of spiritual capacity and divine civilization. 2
Some clergymen and professors came to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the morning in His second-floor room. Some of the Master’s words to the pastor of the First Congregational Church in Oakland were these: ‘If a man is not a clergyman and is unprejudiced, it is not a cause for wonder. But if a man is a clergyman and is not prejudiced, he certainly deserves praise and glory.’
At the public meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke about the material progress of the world:
These countries have reached the apex of material progress. They are like bodies in the utmost health and form which are, however, devoid of spirit. A spiritless body is a dead one. Indeed, its perfection depends on the acquisition of spiritual capacity and divine civilization.
The Master remarked repeatedly:
The people of America have a great capacity for the acquisition of spiritual qualities but they are immersed in material affairs. They are like machines which move uncontrollably; they move but are devoid of spirit. They will attain perfection when the spirit of divine civilization is breathed into them and this material civilization becomes infused with spiritual refinement.
The Master went to the public park in the afternoon, which He appreciated very much, especially when He went near the lake and saw the remnants of a few marble pillars left over from the destruction caused by the great earthquake of 1906. He remarked, ‘The world and its condition will change to such a degree and the Bahá’í Cause will prevail to such an extent that nothing but a remnant – like these pillars – will remain of the previous order.’ Sitting on a bench, the Master spoke about the sensitivity of the vegetable kingdom:
Although sensitivity in plants is slight as compared with that manifested in animals, within their own kingdom they have sensitivity and vegetable spirit. Cut across a conical shape, sprinkle a little sulphate of copper on it, add a little water and then observe it with a magnifier. You will find its components rushing toward the center. Their sensitivity is apparent in their effort to reach the center until they form a cylinder.
In the evening the Master spoke to the assembled friends at His residence about the ascendancy of spiritual power and the divine life of humanity. The friends, both new and old, were deeply impressed and attracted to Him. At the end of each meeting the friends, one by one, came into His presence to beg His assistance and blessings. Their state was such that it cannot be described.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 3
… Today in Persia and the Orient you will find the followers of Bahá’u’lláh united in the closest ties of fellowship and love. They have abandoned religious prejudices and have become as one family. When you enter their meetings, you will find Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jews and representatives of other beliefs present, all conjoined in a wonderful unity without a trace of bigotry or fanaticism, and the light of the oneness of the world of humanity reflected in their faces. Day by day they are advancing, manifesting greater and still greater love for each other. Their faith is fixed upon the unification of mankind, and their highest purpose is the oneness of religious belief. They proclaim to all humanity the sheltering mercy and infinite grace of God. They teach the reconciliation of religion with science and reason. They show forth in words and deeds the reality of love for all mankind as the servants of one God and the recipients of His universal bounty. These are their thoughts, their beliefs, their guiding principles, their religion. No trace of religious, racial, patriotic or political prejudice can be found among them, for they are real servants of God and obedient to His will and command.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Addresses a Persecuted Minority.” 239 Days in America, 5 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/05/oaklands-japanese-independent-church-welcomes-abdul-baha/. [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#section196 [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, 341-342. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#685192122 [return]
America’s Unique Geopolitical Position 1
“MY GREATEST HAPPINESS THIS morning is this,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told a reporter from the San Francisco Chronicle on October 3, 1912, “That I have come to such a modern and progressive city. Praise be to God everything is beautiful and there seems to be much joy here.” …
On the other hand, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá asserted, “The American democracy is not founded upon warlike doctrines. Hence it becomes this democracy to uphold international peace and spread it throughout the world.” But he was advocating more than diplomatic niceties. America, he said, had the ability to use its moral suasion and industrial power to forge an international court of arbitration backed by a binding global collective security agreement that could banish international war. “In case any Government or nation should prove rebellious concerning any decision of the court,” he told the Chronicle, “the other nations should coalesce to force it into obedience.”
“A more fervent hope and a fonder desire concerning the American people,” he concluded, “is that their instrumentality shall be such as to enlarge the scope of this scheme and that earnest concerted action from the nations of the world will result therefrom.”
On October 4, after an afternoon visit to Golden Gate Park, Abdu’l-Bahá sent one of His frequent telegrams to the Persian friends, informing them of the events of His historic journey. This time He reported, “‘We are in utmost joy among the friends of San Francisco. The confirmations are really overwhelming and the happiness overflowing.’”
In reality, the world of being has become a new world. Thus, the principles of religion also must be renewed. 3
After morning prayers, two Japanese Bahá’ís came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master expressed His happiness on seeing their faith and sincerity in the Cause, saying:
This is an historic event. It is out of the ordinary that an Iranian should meet Japanese people in San Francisco with such love and harmony. This is through the power of Bahá’u’lláh and calls for our thankfulness and happiness. If it be said that Bahá’u’lláh brought a man from heaven and another from earth and caused them to meet midway between the earth and heaven, do not be surprised. The power of Bahá’u’lláh makes all difficulties simple. I like the Japanese greatly because they are audacious and intelligent. Whatever they turn their attention to, it becomes a success.
The visitors invited the Master to come to Japan to promote the potential of the Japanese people and asked His permission to contribute articles on the Faith to the Japanese newspapers. He readily granted their request and showed them great kindness.
In the afternoon a representative from the [San Francisco] Post came to interview the Master, who said to him:
In this enlightened age everything has been renewed – sciences have been renewed, new arts have come into being, new skills have appeared, new thoughts have been expressed, new inventions have come to light and new discoveries have been made. In reality, the world of being has become a new world. Thus, the principles of religion also must be renewed.
To a journalist from the [San Francisco] Bulletin He said:
God created man after His own image and likeness … but now, behaving contrarily, man has become more merciless and fearless than rapacious beasts. A beast kills only one animal each day for his food, while merciless man tears apart a hundred thousand people in a day merely for fame and dominion. Should a wolf tear a sheep apart, they would kill it; but if a man massacres a hundred thousand men in blood and dust, he is given an ovation and is pronounced a marshall or a general. If a man kills another or sets fire to a house, he is condemned as a murderer; but if he annihilates an army and overturns a country, he is called a conqueror and is admired. If a man steals a dollar he is thrown into prison but if he plunders the homes of people and lays waste a city he is called a commander and is praised.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 4
In the early part of the nineteenth century the horizon of Persia was shrouded in great darkness and ignorance. The people of that country were in a condition of barbarism. Hatred and bigotry prevailed among the various religions; bloodshed and hostility were frequent among sects and denominations of belief. There were no evidences of affiliation and unity; violent prejudice and antagonism ruled the hearts of men. At such a time as this Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed the first principle of His mission and teaching—the oneness of the world of humanity. His second announcement was the investigation of reality; the third was the oneness of the foundations of the divine religions. Through spiritual education He led the people out of darkness and ignorance into the clear light of truth, illuminated their hearts with the splendor of knowledge, laid a true and universal basis for religious teachings, cultivated the virtues of humanity, conferred spiritual susceptibilities, awakened inner perceptions and changed the dishonor of prejudiced souls to the highest degree of honor and capacity. Today in Persia and the Orient you will find the followers of Bahá’u’lláh united in the closest ties of fellowship and love. They have abandoned religious prejudices and have become as one family. When you enter their meetings, you will find Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Jews and representatives of other beliefs present, all conjoined in a wonderful unity without a trace of bigotry or fanaticism, and the light of the oneness of the world of humanity reflected in their faces. Day by day they are advancing, manifesting greater and still greater love for each other. Their faith is fixed upon the unification of mankind, and their highest purpose is the oneness of religious belief. They proclaim to all humanity the sheltering mercy and infinite grace of God. They teach the reconciliation of religion with science and reason. They show forth in words and deeds the reality of love for all mankind as the servants of one God and the recipients of His universal bounty. These are their thoughts, their beliefs, their guiding principles, their religion. No trace of religious, racial, patriotic or political prejudice can be found among them, for they are real servants of God and obedient to His will and command.
- Menon, Jonathan. “America’s Unique Geopolitical Position.” 239 Days in America, 4 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/04/abdul-baha-assesses-americas-unique-geopolitical-position/ [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#section195 [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, 341. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#685192122 [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Reaches the City by the Bay 1
NOT UNTIL 1930 WOULD they build bridges to span the gulf between the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay and the resurrected city that gave it its name. The iron ribbons therefore terminated in Oakland, emptying passengers who had chugged west across the continent into ferry boats for the final ply across the water to their docks. From there they would walk along the wharf, and down a long corridor, and step out onto The Embarcadero to be met.
“Slowly the hours seemed to pass,” Dr. Frederick D’Evelyn wrote many years later. “Eventide came, and with it, disconcerting reports of delay… . Telegrams to railway headquarters brought the discomforting news that [the] schedule time had been abandoned, and no time of arrival was hazarded.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had departed Salt Lake City at 2:50 p.m. on October 1. After crossing Great Salt Lake he and his party had missed their train connection in Montello, Nevada, causing a delay of many hours. Now it was the middle of the night on October 2. In San Francisco, at 1815 California Street, near Lafayette Park, Dr. D’Evelyn waited impatiently for the visitors to arrive. Just after midnight he received a telegram, telling the friends who were with him not to wait. “Send only one friend to depot,” it read. …
As there are four seasons in this material world, so it is in the spiritual world. 2
Many friends, both old and new, had the honor of visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and receiving enlightenment from Him. Some of His words to the gathering of the friends were these:
As there are four seasons in this material world, so it is in the spiritual world. When the divine spring is over and the heavenly bounty ceases, the trees of being lie dormant. Lifelessness and stillness prevail over the world of man. People become spiritless and withered. Autumn and winter set in. There exists no flower or greenery, no cheerfulness or mirth, no happiness or joy. Then the spiritual spring spreads its tent once more. The gardens of the hearts regain their freshness, charm and verdure. The buds of knowledge open and the anemones of reality appear. The world of man becomes another world. This is the divine law and is a requirement of the world of creation. This is the cause of the appearance of the many Manifestations of God.
In the afternoon, after seeing many visitors and answering questions from some reporters, at the invitation of Mrs Goodall the Master went to see the beautiful and tranquil Golden Gate Park located outside of the city. In the automobile on the way to the park the Master spoke about the grandeur of the Revelation of the Blessed Beauty:
No one was a denier of His virtues. All the wise men of the East considered Him the greatest person in the world. But they said, ‘Alas, that He has claimed divinity for Himself.’ Many of the people of the East said and wrote about me, too, ‘all agree that he excels in knowledge, learning, speech and explanation, but, alas! he is the propagator of a new law’. They expected us to be servants and propagators of their old dogmas and customs, not knowing that we are obliged to serve humanity and spread universal love and harmony.
He concluded, ‘If all others have a few daughters and sons, I have thousands of spiritual offspring and heavenly children like you.’
When He returned, and after seeing the friends and bestowing His favors upon them, He sent telegrams to the assemblies in the East. Among them was this: ‘Rejoicing among friends of God in San Francisco. Truly confirmations are overwhelming and happiness complete. ‘Abbás.’
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 3
The proof of the validity of a Manifestation of God is the penetration and potency of His Word, the cultivation of heavenly attributes in the hearts and lives of His followers and the bestowal of divine education upon the world of humanity. This is absolute proof. The world is a school in which there must be Teachers of the Word of God. The evidence of the ability of these Teachers is efficient education of the graduating classes.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Reaches the City by the Bay.” 239 Days in America, 3 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/03/abdul-baha-reaches-the-city-by-the-bay/. [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#section194 [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, 341. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#248628269 [return]
Economics Begins with the Farmer 1
IN 1912 AMERICA, THE long process of twentieth-century urbanization was just beginning. In spite of the rapid growth of urban industries — the garment factories of the East Coast, the automobile manufacturing plants in Detroit, the steelworks of Pennsylvania and Indiana — most Americans still lived and worked on farms. Such rural vitality was on dazzling display during the National Irrigation Congress in Salt Lake City.
After spending the day on September 30, 1912, attending the opening convention at the Mormon Tabernacle in Temple Square, visiting the State Fair, and watching the bright lights of the electrical parade that evening, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá departed Salt Lake City on October 1 at 2:50 p.m. for the final leg of his long train journey to San Francisco. The train steamed forty miles north to stop in Ogden, Utah, then headed due west over the briny waters of Great Salt Lake on the Lucin Cutoff Railroad Trestle, a fifty-one-mile long shortcut built across the middle of the lake in 1904.
Throughout his trip in America, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had spoken in general terms about the economic issues that plagued the nation’s growing industrial society: widespread poverty, industrial slavery, the need to avoid coerced equality, and the missing moral principles — such as generosity and service — that were required to balance competing interests. But in Montreal on September 3, to a meeting of Socialists, he had laid out economic prescriptions in more detail. As the train sped toward San Francisco on October 2 and 3, he wrote to clarify his position to Agnes Parsons. “My explanation,” he told her, “has been mis-reported in the papers.” …
The people who were attracted to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in San Francisco were as varied as ever. Each day the people in neighboring houses watched His comings and goings in the two automobiles sent by Mrs. [Helen] Goodall, Mrs. [Ella Goodall] Cooper, and the [William and Georgia] Ralstons for His drives. Newspaper reporters came, and a cross section of people, some returning to bring their children. Kanichi Yamamoto, the first Japanese Bahá’í, asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to give Persian names to his three children, David Starr Jordan, the president of Leland Stanford Junior University, came; and the mayor of Berkeley [Frank K. Mott] asked questions concerning economics.
We aspire to find true human beings in this world. 3
Among some of the prominent people visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was the president of Stanford University at Palo Alto. He was so attracted to the teachings that he begged the Master to come to his university and speak. Some newspaper reporters also visited the Master and were permitted to record His words about the teachings and history of the Cause. They too were showered with His special bestowals.
The Master gave a short address at a public meeting on the subject of spiritual life:
We aspire to find true human beings in this world. Man becomes human only through spiritual life, and the foundation of such a life is made up of heavenly perfections, divine attributes, service to humanity, eagerness to receive eternal bounties, praiseworthy morals, unity, love of God, wisdom and knowledge of God. If the aim were this physical life only, then this creation would be in vain and men would not have more honor or be nobler than other creatures. The greatest of sensual pleasures, beauty of appearance and freedom are found among the animals. Birds excel all in sensual pleasures, for they build nests on the loftiest branches and breathe the purest air. All seeds and fruit are their property. Limpid streams, charming plains, beautiful fields, verdant hills, green valleys, exquisite gardens and lovely flowers are all for their pleasure and happiness. They have no grief, regrets, aspirations, ambitions, quarrels, contentions, wars or massacres. If the purpose of existence is sensual life and pleasures, then animal and man are equal. Happiness and pleasure are rather the possession of the bird and not those of distressed and sorrowful men.
There was a gathering in the afternoon at the home of Mrs Goodall and Mrs Cooper in Oakland. The friends of Oakland and San Francisco rejoiced at meeting Him and the seekers were grateful and appreciative of His guidance. A large crowd filled the spacious house. Both before and after the meeting, those who had not had the honor of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came in groups to the second floor and were honored to receive His bounty. The Oakland friends brought their children to be blessed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. His talk to the gathering was on the power of the Word of God, the influence of the Supreme Cause and the union of the people of the East and the West. The audience became increasingly humble as the people listened to the Master.
There is a bay between San Francisco and Oakland which can be crossed in 15 minutes by boat. The Master’s automobile was being ferried across the channel at night. When it reached midway, we saw a magnificent sight: lighted boats traveling back and forth against the shimmering lights of San Francisco. The splendid buildings and towers adorned with brilliant lights seemed to be golden palaces set with colored jewels. Lights from the homes crowning the high hills appeared like a string of pearls. The Master enjoyed the scene and whenever He went that way He praised it highly.
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 4
After we have proved the validity of the Manifestations of the Word of God by investigating the divine teachings, we must discover for a certainty whether They have been real Educators of mankind. Among the revelators of the law of God was Moses. When He appeared, all the contemporaneous nations rejected Him. Notwithstanding this, single and alone He promulgated the divine teachings and liberated a nation from the lowest condition of degradation and bondage. The people of Israel were ignorant, lowly, debased in morals—a race of slaves under burdensome oppression. Moses led them out of captivity and brought them to the Holy Land. He educated and disciplined them, established among them the foundations of material and divine civilization. Through the education of Moses these ignorant people attained an advanced degree of power and prestige, culminating in the glory of the reign of Solomon. From the abyss of bereavement and slavery they were uplifted to the highest plane of progress and civilized nationhood. It is evident, therefore, that Moses was an Educator and Teacher. The purpose and mission of the holy, divine Messengers is the training and advancement of humanity, the cultivation of divine fruits in the gardens of human hearts, the reflection of heavenly effulgence in the mirrors of human souls, the quickening of mental capacity and the increase of spiritual susceptibilities. When these results and outcomes are witnessed in mankind, the function and mission of the Manifestations are unmistakable. Christ, single and alone, without schooling or outward education and trained to labor in the shop of a carpenter, appeared in the world at the time when the Jewish nation was in the greatest abasement. This radiant Youth, without wealth, power of armies or prestige, rescued the Jews who believed on Him from tyranny and degradation and lifted them to the highest plane of development and glory. Peter, His disciple, was a fisherman. Through the power of Christ he shed light upon all the horizons of the world. Furthermore, various people of the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Assyrian nations were brought together in unity and agreement; where warfare and bloodshed had existed, humility and love were manifest, and the foundations of divine religion were established, never to be destroyed. This proves that Christ was a heavenly Teacher and Educator of the world of humanity, for such evidences are historical and irrefutable, not based upon tradition and circumstantial report. The power of His Word in cementing these nations together is as clear and evident as the sun at midday. There is no need of further demonstration.
- Menon, Jonathan. “Economics Begins with the Farmer.” 239 Days in America, 2 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/02/abdul-baha-argues-the-importance-of-the-rural-economy/. [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#section193 [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, 340-341. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#185593022 [return]
The Biggest Week in the History of Salt Lake City 1
A FLICKERING SWARM OF bees circled the hive many stories above ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s head. They were fashioned from light bulbs whose filaments blinked as if to suggest busyness. The illuminated hive formed the heart of the blazing Star of Utah — symbols of a state that had boldly reduced its motto to a single word: “Industry.” It was the centerpiece of a massive pipe organ, draped in American flags, which bellowed forth the Grand March from Verdi’s opera, Aida.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá gazed out at 12,000 spectators as Lucile Francke, dressed as the Queen of Irrigation and Empress of the Valley, climbed the stage of the Mormon Tabernacle and mounted her throne on the uppermost tier of the platform. At 10 a.m. on September 30, 1912, she gave the order for the proceedings of the twentieth annual convention of the National Irrigation Congress to begin.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had arrived in the city the day before. The streets were decked with patriotic regalia, and overflowed with visitors. The annual state fair was also occurring that week, side by side with the convention of the Irrigation Congress. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had planned a short stopover in Salt Lake City on his way to California, but decided to extend his stay. Shortly after his arrival he received an invitation to sit on the stage as an honorary guest the following morning.
Abdu’l-Bahá arrived in San Francisco on Tuesday, October 1, and remained there, with side trips to Oakland, Palo Alto, and Los Angeles, until Friday, October 25. Outwardly, many of the scenes familiar in other cities repeated themselves, as crowds hovered about Him like moths attracted to a light. Inwardly, each individual experienced a satisfying of personal needs that, in one sense, could never be shared, and that, in another, needed to be shared. For in dealing with each individual Abdu’l-Bahá demonstrated a facet of what each person must become in his dealings with others. He raised every act to a universal level by showing that people must become spiritual beings, reacting spontaneously to their environment, as He did, because thoroughly imbued with Bahá’u’lláh’s divine Teachings.
It was the ultimate example of a joyful reunion among the lovers of God.
Tonight the train carrying the beloved Master reached the shores of the Pacific Ocean. Dr [Frederick] D’Evelyn, a devoted Bahá’í, came running as soon as he saw the Master and prostrated himself at His feet. On the way to the city Dr D’Evelyn described for about 15 minutes the yearning of the friends and how they longed to see the Center of the Covenant. When we reached the house especially prepared for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the waiting friends came out to welcome Him. Mr and Mrs Ralston, Mrs Goodall, Mrs Cooper and the other friends were ecstatically happy to have the honor and bounty of being in His presence and to have supper with Him. 3
From early morning the enthusiasm, eagerness, excitement, joy and singing of the believers surrounded ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, just as in the stories of the iguana and the sun and the moth and the candle. It was the ultimate example of a joyful reunion among the lovers of God. These ecstatic friends offered thanks for the bounty of attaining His presence and being near to Him.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá continuously gave thanks for the confirmations of the Abhá Kingdom and for the power and influence of the Cause of God and encouraged the believers to proclaim the Cause of God. At noon He went for a walk and then took a little rest.
I will describe ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s residence, as He saw it, because it is unique among all the homes in America which have been graced by Him. It is situated on an elevated plot of land on a wide street surrounded by a spacious garden. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá would approach the house, climb a few steps and stand on the porch where He would see fragrant flowers and plants set in pots around the veranda and porch. When the Master entered the house, He would see on His right three large rooms, decorated with fine furniture and many varieties of flowers. Each room opens on the other by means of wide doors covered with velvet curtains, which, when drawn, create one large hall.
Every morning and afternoon the hall is filled with so many friends and seekers that there is standing room only. Many who seek private interviews meet Him on the second floor. On this second floor, accessible by a carpeted staircase, there is a large room occupied by some of His servants and to the left a small tea room. Across the hall is another room occupied by the Master. Attached to this room is a tea room and a bathroom. Situated in a corner of the house, the room commands a view of a large part of the city. At night the lights of the city appear like twinkling stars. Here many Americans, Japanese and Hindus come into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence one after another. Each one has a question or statement to make. Many of the friends bring their children, supplicating His blessings and requesting Persian names for them. One of the Japanese friends at Mrs Goodall’s home in Oakland asked the Master for Persian names for his two sons and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave them the names Hasan and Husayn.
The third floor, where we have our rooms, is identical to the second floor. We each have our own room and are able to be close to the Master. The kitchen and dining room are on the first floor where some of the friends have the honor of dining with the Master at His table.
At each dawn, after offering prayers of gratitude, the Master calls His servants and serves us tea with His own hands. Using stories and narratives, He explains issues relating to the blessings of God and expresses gratitude for His divine confirmations. Later the friends arrive to experience the bounty of being with Him and to give praise. Whenever a group assembles, the Master comes downstairs to speak to them about great and lofty matters.
Before both lunch and dinner the Master takes a walk or goes for a ride. Mrs Goodall, Mrs Cooper and Mr and Mrs Ralston send two automobiles every day for His use. Whenever He goes out, the friends watch Him from the doors and windows of their houses. Even among the seekers there is much excitement.
’ Abdu’l-Bahá is reverently received at the churches by the clergymen. Each respectfully accompanies Him to the pulpit and introduces Him to their congregations with glowing praise. They speak of Him as the Prophet of the East, the messenger of peace and tranquillity and attest to His great station and the importance of the teachings. Following His addresses at the meetings, crowds of people continually surround Him, begging for blessings and confirmations. When He returns to His home afterwards He offers praise and gratitude for the confirmations of the Abhá Beauty. 4
25 September 1912, Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 5
The purpose of all the divine religions is the establishment of the bonds of love and fellowship among men, and the heavenly phenomena of the revealed Word of God are intended to be a source of knowledge and illumination to humanity. So long as man persists in his adherence to ancestral forms and imitation of obsolete ceremonials, denying higher revelations of the divine light in the world, strife and contention will destroy the purpose of religion and make love and fellowship impossible. Each of the holy Manifestations announced the glad tidings of His successor, and each One confirmed the message of His predecessor. Therefore, inasmuch as They were agreed and united in purpose and teaching, it is incumbent upon Their followers to be likewise unified in love and spiritual fellowship. In no other way will discord and alienation disappear and the oneness of the world of humanity be established.
- Sockett, Robert. “The Biggest Week in the History of Salt Lake City.” 239 Days in America, 1 Oct. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/10/01/biggest-week-history-salt-lake-city/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 165. [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#section191 [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#section192 [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, 339-340. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#922132408 [return]
September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead 1
DURING THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent three days in Denver, Colorado, before continuing his train ride westward. After spending the night at the Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs, amidst the spectacular mountain scenery and natural hot springs, he arrived in Salt Lake City at 2 p.m. yesterday. Today, he is attending the National Irrigation Congress at the Mormon Tabernacle, where he has been invited to sit on the speakers’ platform.
In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá travels to San Francisco. During the train ride, he writes an extensive letter to Agnes Parsons, addressing a wide range of economic issues. We’ll take a close look at the contents of this letter. We’ll also paint a portrait of San Francisco in 1912, and cover ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s meeting with the Mayor of Berkeley.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
On Monday morning, September 30, 1912, the Salt Lake City Tribune printed an article headed, “COMES TO LECTURE ON BAHAI RELIGION: Leader of Movement Will Explain Tenets to People of Salt Lake”:
Abdul Baha Abbas, leader of the Bahai movement, which he says has 10,000,000 followers in the world, is in Salt Lake City. He is making a tour of the United States and plans to lecture on his religion here.
The principal tenets of the Bahai doctrines are the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God; the establishment of universal peace, the creation of a universal language and the establishment of a tribunal to which all the nations in the world would come to settle arguments. Its followers must seek out the truth in all matters of religion and conduct for themselves. They must have no pre-conceptions, handed down from their fathers, but must search and decide the truth for themselves.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá rode all day on Monday, September 30, traveling to California. Among the many things He spoke of to His companions, Mahmúd recalled His saying, “‘The Cause of God is penetrating and ere long it will surround the whole world. I see the expanse of America full of Bahais. Formerly when we asserted in the East that international peace was a necessity the people laughted at us. Now behold the congresses of peace that have come into existence. The law of God is the panacea for all ills. …’”
Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God! 3
Today the Master was in the best of health and happiness. In spite of all the hardships of the long journey, He was as charmingly fresh as a flower. With unmitigated joy He mentioned the Blessed Beauty, Bahá’u’lláh.
In the afternoon He spoke about spiritual education and intellectual training:
Peter was devoid of all schooling and so untrained that he could not remember the days of the week. He would tie up seven loaves of bread and open one each day. When he opened the seventh parcel he would know that it was the seventh day and that he had to go to the synagogue. However, under Christ his spiritual education was such that he became the cause of the enlightenment of the world. Indeed, what holy beings are raised up under the shadow of the Word of God!
I remember once in Tihrán when I was a child, I was sitting by Áqá Siyyid Yahyá Vahíd when Mírzá ‘Alíy-i-Sayyáh came in wearing the táj and carrying the rod of a dervish and with his bare feet covered with mud. Someone asked him where he was coming from. He replied that he had come from the fortress of Máh-Kú, from the august presence of the Báb. Vahíd arose immediately and threw himself at the feet of Sayyáh, and with tears streaming down his face he rubbed his beard on Sayyáh’s feet saying, ‘He has come from the court of the Beloved.’ Although Vahíd was a renowned and illustrious person, still he was humble before the servants of the Threshold of God.
Among the interesting things we saw along the way were the wooden covers over the railroad tracks. For a distance of some 50 miles deep passes are snow bound during the entire winter and become impassable for the trains. Now, owing to these covers, the difficulties are removed and the train can pass easily through the area. In English, these covers are called snow sheds. The history of California records that in olden times many people became snowbound and perished in these parts. One example is the the Donner party, the story of whose demise is very sad.
Each one of the divine religions has established two kinds of ordinances: the essential and the accidental. The essential ordinances rest upon the firm, unchanging, eternal foundations of the Word itself. They concern spiritualities, seek to stabilize morals, awaken intuitive susceptibilities, reveal the knowledge of God and inculcate the love of all mankind. The accidental laws concern the administration of outer human actions and relations, establishing rules and regulations requisite for the world of bodies and their control. These are ever subject to change and supersedure according to exigencies of time, place and condition. For example, during the time of Moses, ten commandments concerning the punishment of murder were revealed in His Book. Divorce was sanctioned and polygamy allowable to a certain extent. If a man committed theft, his hand was cut off. This was drastic law and severe punishment applicable to the time of Moses. But when the time of Christ came, minds had developed, realizations were keener and spiritual perceptions had advanced so that certain laws concerning murder, plurality of wives and divorce were abrogated. But the essential ordinances of the Mosaic dispensation remained unchanged. These were the fundamental realities of the knowledge of God and the holy Manifestations, the purification of morals, the awakening of spiritual susceptibilities—eternal principles in which there is no change or transformation. Briefly, the foundation of the divine religions is one eternal foundation, but the laws for temporary conditions and exigencies are subject to change. Therefore, by adherence to these temporary laws, blindly following and imitating ancestral forms, difference and divergence have arisen among followers of the various religions, resulting in disunion, strife and hatred. Blind imitations and dogmatic observances are conducive to alienation and disagreement; they lead to bloodshed and destruction of the foundations of humanity. Therefore, the religionists of the world must lay aside these imitations and investigate the essential foundation or reality itself, which is not subject to change or transformation. This is the divine means of agreement and unification.
- Sockett, Robert. “September 30, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 30 Sept. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/09/30/september-30-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 163-164. [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#section190 [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, 338-339. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#987408459 [return]
“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]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Crosses the Continental Divide 1
‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ, AS WAS HIS usual practice, arose from his bed before dawn at the Shirley Hotel, Broadway and 17th Street, Denver, on Friday, September 27, 1912. He said goodbye to a number of early visitors and then took an automobile — perhaps a carriage — fourteen blocks northwest to the train station.
A wall of rock still separated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from the Golden State. In 1912 the advanced technologies of the century of motion had not yet fully subdued the Rocky Mountains; the cliffs due west of Denver were still too steep for the railway to climb. The train that departed Union Station at 9 a.m. that morning, therefore, headed due south, skirted the treed foothills of the eastern edge of the Front Range, and completed the first leg of its long and winding route to Salt Lake City when it reached Colorado Springs, seventy miles from Denver.
The snow-capped summit of Pikes Peak receded into the distance as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s train continued south across the desert toward Pueblo. The town of Pueblo, Colorado, which produced both steel and saddles, bridged not only the Arkansas River, but also the changing transportation technologies of the era. From there the railroad jackknifed right, pulled west around the southern tip of the Front Range, and began to make a slow, 640-foot ascent to Canon City, nestled among the low mountains.
The route of the Denver and Rio Grande Railway snaked northwest along the Arkansas River, threaded the needle of Royal Gorge, and then climbed a full mile straight upward toward Leadville, Colorado, the highest incorporated city in the United States, at 10,152 feet. …
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
‘Abdu’l-Bahá left Glenwood Springs on the train about midnight and arrived in Salt Lake City the next afternoon, September 28, where an agricultural convention was in progress. Newspaper reporters, learning that He was unexpectedly in the city, sought Him out the following morning and interviewed Him. Then He visited the agricultural exposition, looking at the equipment for ploughing and irrigation, asking about their uses and prices, and surveying the displays of vegetables, grains, and fruits. He bought some seeds to send to the Holy Land.
See how His aid and favor descend upon us. This trip fills us with wonder! Offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty that He has bestowed such confirmations upon us. 3
The train passed through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Some of these rose precipitously like walls from the railway bed, formidable and immense. Gazing at their summits one felt as if the mountains would fall down. There were some special roofless observation cars on the train so that passengers might have a full view of the majestic mountains. In these observation cars the passengers could see the mountains on the right and the serene river on the left. As the train passed through these beautiful scenes, the Master said:
Dear friends, the waves of the bounties of the Blessed Beauty are surging. As I look I see the ocean of His favor swelling and saying, ‘I am with you.’ Truly, were it not for these glad tidings and His assistance, what could I have done? Just one person alone in the east and west of America, in the mountains and wilderness –it is no light matter. It is easy to say these things but it was unimaginable that they would let us into these churches. See how His aid and favor descend upon us. This trip fills us with wonder! Offer thanks to the Blessed Beauty that He has bestowed such confirmations upon us.
Later, the Master told stories about the time of Muhammad, the Messenger of God, and mentioned the cave and His words, ‘God is indeed with us’.
The train reached Salt Lake City in the afternoon. The Master decided to stay in the city for one night. By chance, even as the city was being blessed by His footsteps, a large national agricultural convention was being held and the entire city was festively decorated.
24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts, Denver, Colorado 4
This evening we were speaking of the fellowship and unity of the Persian Bahá’ís. They can truly be called lovers. For example, if one of the friends of God arrived in their city, all the friends would rejoice and assemble together in a meeting with him. If he were ill, they would care for him; if sad, they would comfort him. They would care for him in every way and give unmistakable evidence that there is a spiritual relationship amongst them.
Strangers and outsiders are astonished at this love and radiant affection existing among the Bahá’ís. They inquire about it. They observe the unity and agreement manifest among them. They say, “What a beautiful spirit shines in their faces!” All envy it and wish that such a bond of love might be witnessed everywhere. Therefore, to you my first admonition is this: Associate most kindly with all; be as one family; pursue this same pathway. Let your intentions be one that your love may permeate and affect the hearts of others so that they may grow to love each other and all attain to this condition of oneness.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Crosses the Continental Divide.” 239 Days in America, 28 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/28/abdul-baha-crosses-the-continental-divide/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 158-159. [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#section188 [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, 336-337. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#961584862 [return]
A Forbidden Marriage 1
IT WAS A FALL day in New York. A light rain blurred the windows of the parsonage where the wedding was about to take place. Christians, Jews, Bahá’ís, as well as whites and blacks from both England and America were represented in the small group. For the duration of the ceremony, the divides of the world were held at bay.
The groom was Louis Gregory, a prominent African-American lawyer; the bride, Louise Mathew, a white, educated woman born in England. Their marriage was illegal in twenty-five of America’s forty-eight states, and by popular opinion, unacceptable everywhere. The wedding was kept quiet; the guest list few. As the groom put it, “We do not wish any sensational newspaper articles written.”
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
After morning prayers and tea Abdu’l-Bahá and His companions strolled around the beautiful grounds, surrounded by towering mountains. Then they went to the bath houses and bathed in the hot springs water. Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘We have been in many places during this journey but we had no time to see the sights. We had not even a moment’s rest. Today, however, we have had a little respite.’” As they came out and looked at the river and mountains, Abdu’l-Bahá said, “‘May God have mercy on the tyrants who kept the Blessed Beauty in prison for forty years. Such scenes were loved by Him.’”
He indicated that it would be well to have lunch in the central garden of the U-shaped hotel. The manager came just then and, without being asked, ordered the waiters to set up tables and serve lunch to them in the garden. As they ate, they could be seen from all areas. People began to speak to them and recognize them from the pictures and articles that had appeared in the Denver newspapers.
They started coming to Him by groups to talk with Him.
To turn to the Covenant is to obey the Blessed Beauty which is a cause of gathering together the people of Bahá. 3
When He returned to the hotel He stood outside in the garden and said, ‘It would be good to eat here.’ The garden was adjacent to a large pond with fish of various colors and was enclosed on three sides by the hotel structure. Having seen the Denver newspapers, the hotel manager recognized the Master and us from photographs. Without waiting for the Master’s request, the manager instructed the waiters to serve lunch in the garden. A large table was spread with beautiful chairs. The Master sat down and instructed His companions to do the same. Both before and after lunch the Master generously tipped the waiters. When the residents of the hotel saw the majesty and glory of the Master they told others. Groups of people approached Him. Others watched from their rooms and balconies. Many were heard to say, ‘How nice to dine this way. It is evident that this is a very prominent person.’ Gradually the purpose of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s mission dawned upon the hotel guests as they were informed of the Cause of God.
In the afternoon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took a walk in the garden and to some shops. While we were crossing a bridge, a messenger approached with some telegrams for us. One of them informed the Master that Mr [Thornton] Chase was seriously ill in a Los Angeles hospital. This made the Master and us very sad. He repeatedly mentioned the faithfulness of Mr Chase. Later He said:
To turn to the Covenant is to obey the Blessed Beauty which is a cause of gathering together the people of Bahá. Let me explain clearly. The command to the people of Islam to prostrate before the black stone was simply a command to obey the Prophet of God and to prove the influence of the Cause of God. Now, were it not for the Word of the Blessed Beauty, we would be like everyone else and not different in the least.
The Master and His party left Glenwood Springs at about midnight.
24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts, Denver, Colorado 4
What are the fruits of the human world? They are the spiritual attributes which appear in man. If man is bereft of those attributes, he is like a fruitless tree. One whose aspiration is lofty and who has developed self-reliance will not be content with a mere animal existence. He will seek the divine Kingdom; he will long to be in heaven although he still walks the earth in his material body, and though his outer visage be physical, his face of inner reflection will become spiritual and heavenly. Until this station is attained by man, his life will be utterly devoid of real outcomes. The span of his existence will pass away in eating, drinking and sleeping, without eternal fruits, heavenly traces or illumination—without spiritual potency, everlasting life or the lofty attainments intended for him during his pilgrimage through the human world. You must thank God that your efforts are high and noble, that your endeavors are worthy, that your intentions are centered upon the Kingdom of God and that your supreme desire is the acquisition of eternal virtues. You must act in accordance with these requirements. A man may be a Bahá’í in name only. If he is a Bahá’í in reality, his deeds and actions will be decisive proofs of it. What are the requirements? Love for mankind, sincerity toward all, reflecting the oneness of the world of humanity, philanthropy, becoming enkindled with the fire of the love of God, attainment to the knowledge of God and that which is conducive to human welfare.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “A Forbidden Marriage.” 239 Days in America, 27 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/27/a-forbidden-marriage/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 158-159. [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#section187 [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, 336. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#332670787 [return]
Drinking Tea with “The Girl from Kansas” 1
“THE CONVERSATION OF ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ did not stop,” the newswoman noted, “even as we drank our Persian tea together.” The pair sat near the window of his room at the Shirley Hotel in Denver, Colorado. He looked out at the “rain flecked leaves of a swaying tree,” she wrote, “and occasionally closed his eyes as though looking into the future for the realization of the message which he believes is finding material ground for fruitage in America.”
Those who encountered ‘Abdu’l-Bahá on America’s Western frontier were still grappling with their first impressions of him. Among them was Alice Rohe, a thirty-six-year-old reporter from Lawrence, Kansas. Her interview with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took place on September 24, 1912, and was published the next day in the Daily News: Denver, Colorado.
Alice Rohe had met with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for an hour at the Shirley Hotel. She described him as a “patriarch of old — his gray beard falling upon his breast, his white locks surmounted by a white turban, his erect figure draped in the flowing garments of Persia … .” Yet, she added, “this statement refers only to the first fleeting impression.” When he speaks, she noted, “the keen dark eyes become afire with the words he utters — the first impression of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá becomes a superficial one.”
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
The next day, September 26, the train left Denver heading west. At 2:00 A.M. [September 27] He got off at Glenwood Springs and took rooms at the Hotel Colorado.
I hope that you will be under the protection of God, will succeed in rendering service to humanity and will always be a source of happiness to every heart. 3
As He intended to leave Denver, His talks with the believers became exhortations. He said:
I hope that you will be under the protection of God, will succeed in rendering service to humanity and will always be a source of happiness to every heart. The best person is he who wins all hearts and is not the cause of grief to anyone. The worst of souls is he who causes hearts to be agitated and who becomes the cause of sadness. Always endeavor to make people happy and their hearts joyful so that you may become the cause of guidance to mankind. Proclaim the Word of God and diffuse the divine fragrances.
Someone asked Him about eating meat. He replied:
God has appointed provision for every living creature. To birds He has given beaks so that they pick up seeds. To animals such as cows and goats He has given teeth like scythes in order that they may eat grass. To carnivores He has given claws like forks and canine teeth so that they may prey because they cannot eat grass. Their food is meat. But man’s food is not meat for he has not been created with means to eat flesh. God has given him beauty of form and has created him blessed and not rapacious and bloodthirsty.
The Master’s train left Denver at 9:00 a.m. Some of the articles that had been published in the Denver newspapers were translated for Him. They made His heart very happy as they described the spread of the teachings of God in that city and contained translations of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words. Among them was the translation of these words:
The contingent world is like the human body that has grown from the embryonic state and reached maturity and perfection. It may be said that the development of the human being from the beginning of life to the age of maturity is but a preparation for the appearance of the power of reason. This is the age of maturity and the time of the manifestation of the Most Great Intellect and the Most Ancient Bounty so that divine and material civilizations may be joined and the perfection of the human world may dawn.
24 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts, Denver, Colorado 4
The honor of man is through the attainment of the knowledge of God; his happiness is from the love of God; his joy is in the glad tidings of God; his greatness is dependent upon his servitude to God. The highest development of man is his entrance into the divine Kingdom, and the outcome of this human existence is the nucleus and essence of eternal life. If man is bereft of the divine bestowals and if his enjoyment and happiness are restricted to his material inclinations, what distinction or difference is there between the animal and himself? In fact, the animal’s happiness is greater, for its wants are fewer and its means of livelihood easier to acquire. Although it is necessary for man to strive for material needs and comforts, his real need is the acquisition of the bounties of God. If he is bereft of divine bounties, spiritual susceptibilities and heavenly glad tidings, the life of man in this world has not yielded any worthy fruit. While possessing physical life, he should lay hold of the life spiritual, and together with bodily comforts and happiness, he should enjoy divine pleasures and content. Then is man worthy of the title man; then will he be after the image and likeness of God, for the image of the Merciful consists of the attributes of the heavenly Kingdom. If no fruits of the Kingdom appear in the garden of his soul, man is not in the image and likeness of God, but if those fruits are forthcoming, he becomes the recipient of ideal bestowals and is enkindled with the fire of the love of God. If his morals become spiritual in character, his aspirations heavenly and his actions conformable to the will of God, man has attained the image and likeness of his Creator; otherwise, he is the image and likeness of Satan. Therefore, Christ hath said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Drinking Tea with ‘The Girl from Kansas.’” 239 Days in America, 26 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/26/drinking-tea-with-the-girl-from-kansas/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 158. [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#section186 [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, 335-336. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#568183350 [return]
“The World is a School” 1
“WHEN I ARRIVED IN this country,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told the congregation at the Divine Science Church in Denver, Colorado, “I realized that American ideals are indeed most praiseworthy… .” The nations of Europe were on the verge of war, he noted, driven by prejudice and fanaticism. “You are free from such prejudice,” he added, “for you believe in the oneness and solidarity of the world of humanity.”
The church that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke in on the evening of September 25, 1912, had a distinctive history. Its founder, Nona Lovell Brooks, was one of the first female pastors in America. She was also an early proponent of the New Thought movement. While the movement held beliefs that were considered unorthodox by mainstream Christianity — among them spiritual healing and the non-existence of evil — it was more mainstream than some of the groups ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had encountered in America, such as the Theosophists or the Free Religionists. The congregation in Denver believed that truth came through the Bible, and that Jesus was a guide for human behavior.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at 8 p.m. in an automobile put at his disposal by the editor of the Denver Post. He delivered what was perhaps his most expansive exposition yet on the common foundation of the world’s religions, and the barriers to religious unity.
“The world is a school,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told his audience, “in which there must be Teachers of the Word of God.” It was a deceptively simple metaphor — one that implied not only that humankind was a single body functioning within a single structure of guidance, but that it progressed over time under the direction of successive teachers.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah
On September 25 there appeared an article in the [Denver] Post entitled, “ABDUL BA-HA ABBAS—PERSIAN TEACHER—TO CONVERT DENVER.” The reporter, Frances Wayne, wrote:
A Man of God has come to town.
With the arrival yesterday of Abdul Ba-ha Abbas, a quicker spirit of tolerance, of brotherly love, of sincerer charity, of all those virtues which lift man above the beast was given wing and must, before his departure, have its effect upon every man and woman who comes within the radius of this wise man of the East.
Abdul Ba-ha entered the city without any of the glitter or pomp which is the attribute of nobility. He came … companioned by five devoted servants of the faith he preaches and by a reputation for sanity and holiness which makes of the most hardened cynic a respectful spectator. 2
After a meeting the next day, September 25, He took a walk, and then spoke with the crowds who had gathered. To one person He said, “‘Man is like a bird which is in the cage. A bird cannot get freedom by merely knowing that there are pure breezes, spacious firmament, beautiful gardens, pleasant parks and fountains outside. It must get a power to break the cage and to fly into the pleasant firmament.’” That afternoon He spoke at the home of Mrs. Roberts and that night at a public meeting at the Hotel Shirley. 3
A person must first be happy and attracted himself to be in a position to transform others. He himself must be impressed in order to impress others. 4
Most of the people coming today to see the Master were prominent and well-known. Because they so were attracted and transformed by His talks on the divine teachings of the oneness of humanity, universal peace and the principles of the religions, today I wrote to the friends in the East inviting them to come and see how people who had previously had no appreciation for those from the East, especially the Persians, now come in groups to the threshold of the Master and stand waiting their turn to become the recipients of His favor. They consider an interview with Him a source of pride and glory. Many philosophers, professors, clergymen and lecturers come with bowed heads to show their sincere humility. The people from churches and other organizations are also attracted and fascinated, happy to see His life-giving countenance. The Center of the Covenant has caused the Persians to be renowned for their respectability and has crowned the peoples of the East with eternal honor and glory. And how the newspapers of this region praise the Master and the learned and literary people of the West emphasize the importance of these teachings! Notwithstanding this, most of the Persians are asleep and do not understand the cause of their greatness and honor. They are asleep on the bed of negligence and resting in the lap of pride.
After the meeting the Master took a walk. His heart was filled with joy as He said:
Did you see what a fire was set aglow in the hearts? A person must first be happy and attracted himself to be in a position to transform others. He himself must be impressed in order to impress others. You must act in a way that will make me happy, then you will see what will happen.
To one who visited Him at the hotel, He remarked:
I have come to your city and found tall buildings and advancement in material civilization. Now I will lead you to my own city which is the world above. Its administration is the oneness of humanity, its law is international peace, its palaces are ever shining with the lights of the Kingdom, its season is always spring, its trees are ever green, its fruits are fresh and sweet, its sun is ever ascending, its moon is always full, its stars are ever brilliant and its planets are ever circling. That is our city and the Founder is Bahá’u’lláh. We have enjoyed the pleasures of this city and now I invite you to that city. I hope that you will accept this invitation.
Talk at Second Divine Science Church, 3929 West Thirty-eighth Avenue, Denver, Colorado 5
One of the forms of prejudice which afflict the world of mankind is religious bigotry and fanaticism. When this hatred burns in human hearts, it becomes the cause of revolution, destruction, abasement of humankind and deprivation of the mercy of God. For the holy Manifestations and divine Founders of religion Themselves were completely unified in love and agreement, whereas Their followers are characterized by bitter antagonism and attitudes of hostility toward each other. God has desired for mankind the effulgence of love, but through blindness and misapprehension man has enveloped himself in veils of discord, strife and hatred. The supreme need of humanity is cooperation and reciprocity. The stronger the ties of fellowship and solidarity amongst men, the greater will be the power of constructiveness and accomplishment in all the planes of human activity. Without cooperation and reciprocal attitude the individual member of human society remains self-centered, uninspired by altruistic purposes, limited and solitary in development like the animal and plant organisms of the lower kingdoms. The lower creatures are not in need of cooperation and reciprocity. A tree can live solitary and alone, but this is impossible for man without retrogression. Therefore, every cooperative attitude and activity of human life is praiseworthy and foreintended by the will of God. The first expression of cooperation is family relationship, which is unreliable and uncertain in its potency, for it is subject to separation and does not permanently cement together the individual members of humanity. There is also a cooperation and oneness in nativity or race which is likewise not efficient, for although its members may agree in general, they differ radically in personal and particular points of view. Racial association, therefore, will not ensure the requirements of divine relationship. There are other means in the human world by which physical association is established, but these fail to weld together the hearts and spirits of men and are correspondingly inefficient. Therefore, it is evident that God has destined and intended religion to be the cause and means of cooperative effort and accomplishment among mankind. To this end He has sent the Prophets of God, the holy Manifestations of the Word, in order that the fundamental reality and religion of God may prove to be the bond of human unity, for the divine religions revealed by these holy Messengers have one and the same foundation. All will admit, therefore, that the divine religions are intended to be the means of true human cooperation, that they are united in the purpose of making humanity one family, for they rest upon the universal foundation of love, and love is the first effulgence of Divinity.
- Sockett, Robert. “‘The World Is a School.’” 239 Days in America, 25 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/25/deceptively-simple-metaphor-new-thought/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 154. [return]
- Ibid, 158. [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#section185 [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, 337-338. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#322101001 [return]
The World Is Thinking of War 1
“THE PEOPLE OF THIS world are thinking of warfare,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told an audience in Denver, Colorado, on September 24, 1912, “you must be peacemakers.” Two days earlier, in Omaha, Nebraska, news reached ‘Abdu’l-Bahá of the impending conflict in the Balkan Peninsula. By the time he arrived in Colorado, the front pages of every newspaper in the country were trumpeting that the tensions in the Balkans were about to escalate.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had lamented Italy’s invasion of Tripoli on April 12, 1912, his second day in America. In 1911, Italian troops had landed on the shores of the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica, in what is now western Libya. Italy’s victory emboldened the Balkan states in their own military aspirations against the Muslims. During the summer months of 1912, the Christian Balkan states -— Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Bulgaria -— created the Balkan League, whose mandate was to rid the area of the Ottomans.
On September 22, in Omaha, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had described how a general European war could be averted. North and South American republics should put pressure on European nations, financiers should refuse to give military loans, railroads should refuse to transport arms. When he arrived in Denver on September 24, he raised the issue of war and peace immediately.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
After the morning sessions on September 24 He walked through the park. Many people stopped and looked, and some took photographs as He passed by. One of the friends remarked that, with their diversity of Easter and Western clothes, people were looking upon the sight as a comedy. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laughed, “‘Yea, it is heavenly fun, a performance of the Kingdom and a wonderful theater.’”
When He went by train to the suburban home of Mrs. Clark in the afternoon, again some observers were whispering about them. Abdu’l-Bahá told the friends to tell them, “‘We are neither Turks nor Arabs; neither of the East nor of the West; but we are of heaven and of God.’”
I have brought the message of Bahá’u’lláh to this country in order to teach people to investigate truth, to render service to humanity, to endeavor to bring about international peace, to exert every effort to guide humanity, to show kindness to all creatures and to raise the Call of the Kingdom. 3
When the Master arrived at Mrs Clark’s home, several of the friends had already gathered to see Him. He spoke to them about the confirmations of the Abhá Beauty and the power and influence of the Word of God. ‘See how He has made the Easterner and the Westerner friends’, He said, ‘and has bestowed sincere love and true friendship. Otherwise, what connection would there be between us and Americans, between this Japanese youth and Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání? Mrs Clark said: ‘I have frequently dreamt that my home would become honored with the footsteps of the Beloved Master. I am extremely thankful and grateful that my dreams have come true. My heart is now freed from ego, whereas before I used to consider myself better than anyone else.’ The Master said:
Thank God, because the first self-conceited one was Satan. A man must never consider himself greater than others. Rather, he must always be humble and self-effacing. The bird, as long as it sees itself at a low level, is given impetus to soar and progress; but the moment it fancies itself high in the air, it begins to descend.
Someone in the audience asked, ‘What shall I do to become a true servant?’ He replied:
Act in accordance with the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Do not only read His teachings but put into practice in your lives the Hidden Words and the other holy writings. Whatever I say is not even a drop from the ocean of the Supreme Pen and the treasure-filled sea of the bounty and favor of the Abhá Beauty.
I have brought the message of Bahá’u’lláh to this country in order to teach people to investigate truth, to render service to humanity, to endeavor to bring about international peace, to exert every effort to guide humanity, to show kindness to all creatures and to raise the Call of the Kingdom. Man must be endowed with divine attributes and must enter the concourse of the exalted ones. These teachings are only a drop from the sea concealed in the Hidden Words. We must pray for each other. If we act according to the divine teachings, by God besides Whom there is none other God, we shall shine like lamps. But woe betide those people who are aware of the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh and know them to be the cause of eternal salvation and divine nearness but still do not bring their actions into conformity with them. Such is a source of great distress. Thus it is incumbent upon us to endeavor day and night to follow the teachings of God. This is the cause of eternal esteem, this is divine favor, this is the honor of mankind and this is everlasting life.
Another person asked about telepathy or communication from mind to mind. He replied:
It is evident. If a lover holds the hand of a beloved, it is obvious what feelings ensue. They communicate face to face and speak heart to heart, as this light is communicating now with human eyes, the sun with the earth, the cloud with the land and the breeze with the tree. This process is found in all things.
The Master was asked about His health and comfort, to which He replied:
I have not come for rest and diversion. I have come to raise the call of the Abhá Kingdom in order to diffuse the divine fragrances. Had I desired rest, I would have secured it more easily in the East. Now I must journey to various cities and countries and call people to the divine Kingdom. Suppose I had rested for a few years, what results would it have had?
Talk at Home of Mrs. Sidney E. Roberts, Denver, Colorado 4
Praise be to God! We are living in a century of light. Praise be to God! We are upon earth in the day of divine effulgence. Praise be to God! We are alive in this time of the manifestation of divine love. Praise be to God that we live in the day of the outpouring of heavenly bounty. Praise be to God! This is a day wherein the lights and splendors have awakened progress throughout the East and the West. Many holy souls in former times longed to witness this century, lamenting night and day, yearning to be upon the earth in this cycle; but our presence and privilege is the beneficent gift of the Lord. In His divine mercy and absolute virtue He has bestowed this upon us, even as Christ declared, “Many are called but few are chosen.” Verily, God has chosen you for His love and knowledge; God has chosen you for the worthy service of unifying mankind; God has chosen you for the purpose of investigating reality and promulgating international peace; God has chosen you for the progress and development of humanity, for spreading and proclaiming true education, for the expression of love toward your fellow creatures and the removal of prejudice; God has chosen you to blend together human hearts and give light to the human world. The doors of His generosity are wide, wide open to us; but we must be attentive, alert and mindful, occupied with service to all mankind, appreciating the bestowals of God and ever conforming to His will.
- Sockett, Robert. “The World Is Thinking of War.” 239 Days in America, 24 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/24/the-world-is-thinking-of-war/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 152-153. [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#section184 [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, 334-335. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/26#063559568 [return]
September 23, 1912: The Week Ahead 1
DURING THE PAST WEEK, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá traveled from Chicago to Minneapolis, then continued westward to Omaha, Nebraska, and finally to nearby Lincoln, where he visited the family of William Jennings Bryan.
In the week ahead: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrives in Denver, Colorado, where he addresses the congregation at the Divine Science Church, a center of the New Thought Movement. While in Denver, news reaches him of a much-anticipated marriage that has taken place in New York City. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then continues his trip west, making stops in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
At 2:00 P.M. on Monday, September 23, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá arrived at the Denver station, He was greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Ashton and other friends and went to the Shirley Hotel. He asked reports who came to His third floor room to return a short time later, which they did, at 5:00 P.M.
At 8:00 P.M. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the home of Mrs. Sidney Roberts and spoke with the friends. He also accepted an invitation to speak in a church and asked the others who wished interviews to visit the hotel the next morning.
Besides spiritual nearness and communications between the cities of the hearts and friendships between diverse people in the promised Day, how physically close have the cities and countries also become. 3
At eight in the evening He went to the home of Mrs [Sidney] Roberts where friends both old and new had gathered. There were so many people that they were seen standing as far the front entrance. He spoke to them about the power of the Abhá Kingdom which had enabled Him to travel far in spite of His weak constitution and which had gathered the friends in the assemblies of the love of God. After His talk He bestowed His special blessing on each person. As the Master was leaving the meeting, the pastor of the Church of Divine Science approached Him with the utmost humility and invited Him to speak at his church. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá accepted. Since so many people wished to have an interview with Him, He announced that during the few days He would be in Denver, He would see anyone who would call upon Him at the hotel between nine and twelve in the morning.
Regarding His health, He said:
In the early stages of our long journey to California my health was affected. But as the journey was made for God and to diffuse the divine fragrances, my longstanding indisposition has been cured without any medicine. The confirmations of Abhá are descending from all sides.
It is written in the Hadíth [Islamic traditions] that cities shall draw nearer to each other. Besides spiritual nearness and communications between the cities of the hearts and friendships between diverse people in the promised Day, how physically close have the cities and countries also become. Truly, if not for railroads and the power of steam, how could these long distances be traversed with such ease? This is one of the miracles of this promised century of our current age.
20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Dr. and Mrs. Clement Woolson, 870 Laurel Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 4
It is clearly evident that while man possesses powers in common with the animal, he is distinguished from the animal by intellectual attainment, spiritual perception, the acquisition of virtues, capacity to receive the bestowals of Divinity, lordly bounty and emanations of heavenly mercy. This is the adornment of man, his honor and sublimity. Humanity must strive toward this supreme station. Christ has interpreted this station as the second birth. Man is first born from a world of darkness, the matrix of the mother, into this physical world of light. In the dark world from whence he came he had no knowledge of the virtues of this existence. He has been liberated from a condition of darkness and brought into a new and spacious realm where there is sunlight, the stars are shining, the moon sheds its radiance, there are beautiful views, gardens of roses, fruits and all the blessings of the present world. How did he attain these blessings? Through the agency of birth from the mother. Just as man has been physically born into this world, he may be reborn from the realm and matrix of nature, for the realm of nature is a condition of animalism, darkness and defect. In this second birth he attains the world of the Kingdom. There he witnesses and realizes that the world of nature is a world of gloom, whereas the Kingdom is a world of radiance; the world of nature is a world of defects, the Kingdom is a realm of perfection; the world of nature is a world without enlightenment, the Kingdom of spiritual humanity is a heaven of illumination. Great discoveries and revelations are now possible for him; he has attained the reality of perception; his circle of understanding is illimitably widened; he views the realities of creation, comprehends the divine bounties and unseals the mystery of phenomena. This is the station which Christ has interpreted as the second birth. He says that just as ye were physically born from the mother into this world, ye must be born again from the mother world of nature into the life of the divine Kingdom. May you all attain this second, spiritual birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
I pray that the confirmation of God may descend upon you. May you all be born again from this mortal world into the realm of the Kingdom. May you clearly witness the signs of God, sense the virtues of the divine, attain the eternal bounties and perceive the reality of everlasting life.
- Sockett, Robert. “September 23, 1912: The Week Ahead.” 239 Days in America, 23 Sept. 2012, http://stagingtwo39.wpengine.com/2012/09/23/september-23-1912-the-week-ahead/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 152. [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#section183 [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, 332-333. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/25#356886008 [return]
150 Years of the Emancipation 1
ABRAHAM LINCOLN SIGNED THE Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. When it came into effect on January 1, 1863, more than three million of the four million slaves in the United States of America were freed. Fifty years later, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá entered the capital city of the state of Nebraska, which had been named after the Great Emancipator in 1867, celebrations were breaking out in African American communities across the country.
They began at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, where ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had challenged racial imagery on April 23. A “song jubilee” preceded an address by the new president of Howard University, Dr. Stephen Newman, on “Fifty Years of Freedom.” The observance, the Chicago Defender wrote, “shall stand as a model of a dignified, constructive and inspiring recognition of a day that means everything to the 12,000,000 Negroes on this continent.”
Ten days earlier, readers of the Independent had seen ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s assessment of the moral courage that it had taken for white Americans to go to war to free the slaves. “Never in all the annals of the world do we find such an instance of national self-sacrifice as was displayed here during the Civil War,” he said. “Americans who had never seen a weapon used in anger left their homes and peaceful pursuits, took up arms, bore utmost hardships, braved utmost dangers, gave up all they held dear, and finally their lives, in order that slaves might be free.” In his interview, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called attention to the talk he had given at Howard University, America’s leading black university. “I told them that they must be very good to the white race of America,” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “that they must never forget to be grateful and thankful.” Likewise, “The white people must treat those whom they have freed with justness and firmness, but also with perfect love.”
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
Returning to a hotel in Lincoln, He sat in the lobby. Many people who had read the articles in the newspaper came and introduced themselves and asked questions until His train departed at 11:00 P.M. On board, the friends tried to persuade Him to take pullman accommodations; but He said, “‘We must all be in one place. The only purpose of this journey is to serve the Cause of God. We will all sleep on our seats.’” They spent the night in the chair car, riding toward Denver.
God will assuredly send down one who will deal mercilessly with him. 3
In the morning the Master spoke about the animosity of the enemies and their evil intentions towards the Blessed Beauty. Then the conversation turned to the corruption and iniquity of the Covenant-breakers. He said:
Shu’á of darkness wrote to his father quite openly that his purpose was to amass wealth and worldly property. With reference to me he stated that he was waiting for the fulfillment of the promise in the verse, ‘God will assuredly send down one who will deal mercilessly with him.‘
Two newspaper reporters came to interview Him and recorded the interview with the utmost courtesy and respect. The Master instructed us to telephone and inquire about Mr Bryan and his wife. Expressing regret that Mr Bryan was not at home, Mrs Bryan said she and her daughter would be pleased to receive ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in their home. The Master and His entourage hired a large automobile and drove a long distance outside of the city until they reached a large estate which is located in one of the finest places in the region. Mrs Bryan hurried towards the automobile to greet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. She and her daughter expressed their joy and happiness for His blessings. After they had had tea and listened to Him, they begged Him to visit some of the rooms of the house, particularly the library and Mr Bryan’s study. They showed Him a book compiled by Mr Bryan and asked Him to pray for the success of his endeavors. Mr Bryan was currently on a campaign tour on behalf of [the future] President Wilson and was to lecture in many cities. In honor of the occasion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took a notebook and in His own hand wrote a prayer for assistance. He then said a few words which increased their happiness, devotion, assurance and honor. With that He departed.
Among those visiting the Master at the hotel in the afternoon were some Arabs. They had read about His arrival and His speeches in the newspapers and wished to see Him. The newspaper articles about His arrival and the Manifestations of God were translated and read to Him. It made Him happy to know that a stay in the city of only 12 hours had become the cause of spreading the teachings of God.
20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Dr. and Mrs. Clement Woolson, 870 Laurel Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota 4
This same difference is noticeable among animals; some have been domesticated, educated, others left wild. The proof is clear that the world of nature is imperfect, the world of education perfect. That is to say, man is rescued from the exigencies of nature by training and culture; consequently, education is necessary, obligatory. But education is of various kinds. There is a training and development of the physical body which ensures strength and growth. There is intellectual education or mental training for which schools and colleges are founded. The third kind of education is that of the spirit. Through the breaths of the Holy Spirit man is uplifted into the world of moralities and illumined by the lights of divine bestowals. The moral world is only attained through the effulgence of the Sun of Reality and the quickening life of the divine spirit. For this reason the holy Manifestations of God appear in the human world. They come to educate and illuminate mankind, to bestow spiritual susceptibilities, to quicken inner perceptions and thereby adorn the reality of man—the human temple—with divine graces. Through Them man may become the point of the emanations of God and the recipient of heavenly bounties. Under the influence of Their teachings he may become the manifestation of the effulgences of God and a magnet attracting the lights of the supreme world. For this reason the holy, divine Manifestations are the first Teachers and Educators of humanity; Their traces are the highest evidences, and Their spiritual tuition is universal in its application to the world of mankind. Their influence and power are immeasurable and unlimited. One heavenly Personage has developed many nations. For example, Jesus Christ, single and unassisted, educated the Roman, Greek and Assyrian nations and all of Europe. It is evident, therefore, that the greatest education is that of the Spirit.
The spirit of man must acquire its bounties from the Kingdom of God in order that it may become the mirror and manifestation of lights and the dawning point of divine traces, because the human reality is like the soil. If no bounty of rain descends from heaven upon the soil, if no heat of the sun penetrates, it will remain black, forbidding, unproductive; but when the moistening shower and the effulgent glow of the sun’s rays fall upon it, beautiful and redolent flowers grow from its bosom. Similarly, the human spirit or reality of man, unless it becomes the recipient of the lights of the Kingdom, develops divine susceptibilities and consciously reflects the effulgence of God, will not be the manifestation of ideal bounties, for only the reality of man can become the mirror wherein the lights of God are revealed. The reality of man will then be as the spirit of this world, for just as the animus of life quickens the physical human body, so the body of the world will receive its vivification through the animating virtue of the sanctified spirit of man.
- Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “150 Years of the Emancipation Proclamation.” 239 Days in America, 22 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/22/150-years-of-the-emancipation-proclamation/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 152. [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#section182 [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, 330-331. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/25#691219964 [return]
‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner” 1
THE GRITTY CRUNCH OF the dirt road gave way to a rhythmic humming from the smooth bricks that paved the long driveway. Their tiny vibrations traveled along the axles of the rented automobile, through its iron chassis, and into the seat cushion on which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sat. Trees lined the drive on either side, and at the top of the hill a mansion made of soft-toned red brick looked down across rolling countryside to the thickly wooded valley of nearby Antelope Creek. Fairview, the home of Mr. and Mrs. William Jennings Bryan, stood three miles south of Lincoln, Nebraska. It was the afternoon of Monday, September 23, 1912.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá had taken the train from Omaha to Lincoln, the capital of the state, to return the courtesy of Bryan’s visit to ‘Akká six and a half years earlier. “We called on Abbas Effendi as we were leaving Palestine,” Bryan had written from Vienna on June 5, 1906, in an article for the Chicago Daily News. He was traveling the lands of the Ottoman Empire and had stopped to visit ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who was still a prisoner in ‘Akká.
“The Great Commoner,” as William Jennings Bryan was known at home in America, had not been impressed with Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Hamíd II and the bureaucracy he ran. “The government of the sultan is the worst on earth,” he wrote. “It is more despotic than the Russian government ever was and adds corruption to despotism… . The sultan still rules by his arbitrary will, taking life or granting favor according to his pleasure. He lives in constant fear of assassination and yet he does not seem to have learned that his own happiness, as well as justice to the people, demands that the government shall rest upon the will of the governed.”
He found ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, whose teachings he likened to Tolstoy’s minus the strict pacifism, to be a welcome voice of reform. “How much he may be able to do in the way of eliminating the objectionable features of Mohammedanism no one can say,” Bryan thought, “but it is a hopeful sign that there is … an organized effort to raise the plane of discussion from brute force to an appeal to intelligence.”
Minnesota, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah 2
The next morning, September 21, as they were having tea in the room, they read the news of the first Balkan War. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá observed, “‘Our war is the best of all. We conquer all. At the time a crown of thorns was placed on the head of the Christ, He saw the crowns of kings under His feet. Now I see all the powers and nations vanquished and lost in the desert while the Cause of God is victorious over all. The divine Manifestations see with their eyes all the coming events of the world.’”
The validity of the divine teachings regarding universal peace, the unity of religions and the oneness of mankind 3
The translation of an article regarding universal peace was read to the Master. He said:
If the republics of the Americas assembled and agreed on the question of peace, and if all of them would turn to the [Peace] Assembly at the Hague, most of the powers of Europe would follow suit. But looking at it from another point of view, if an international war breaks out in Europe, international peace will be established more quickly. Also, if these ideas regarding peace spread among the public, the financiers will refuse to give loans for wars and the manufacture of armaments, the railway companies will abstain from transporting instruments of destruction and the armed forces will not engage in carnage and the spilling of blood. Also the boundaries should be established.
Later the Master was interviewed by two journalists and spoke to them about the pernicious attitudes of politicians, the destructiveness of war, the validity of the divine teachings regarding universal peace, the unity of religions and the oneness of mankind.
In one of the Tablets revealed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in honor of a friend in Mázindarán, these words were recorded:
The light of Bahá’u’lláh has shone to such a degree on the continent of America that in every city where a number of believers reside, the call of ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’ has been raised. In great churches and meetings ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cries out and proves the truth of the Prophet of God [Muhammad] and of the Báb and of the rising sun of Bahá’u’lláh. Most of the newspapers express praise in glowing articles. Where are the Persians, that they may behold the splendors of the Luminary of the World [Bahá’u’lláh] Whose light has shone forth from the horizon of Mount Awrang and now illumines the mountains and plains of America? In spite of all this, the people of Núr are still asleep and do not know what an honor has been showered upon that region.
20 September 1912, Talk at Home of Mr. Albert L. Hall, 2030 Queen Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 4
The great question appertaining to humanity is religion. The first condition is that man must intelligently investigate its foundations. The second condition is that he must admit and acknowledge the oneness of the world of humanity. By this means the attainment of true fellowship among mankind is assured, and the alienation of races and individuals is prevented. All must be considered the servants of God; all must recognize God as the one kind Protector and Creator. In proportion to the acknowledgment of the oneness and solidarity of mankind, fellowship is possible, misunderstandings will be removed and reality become apparent. Then will the light of reality shine forth, and when reality illumines the world, the happiness of humankind will become a verity. Man must spiritually perceive that religion has been intended by God to be the means of grace, the source of life and cause of agreement. If it becomes the cause of discord, enmity and hatred, it is better that man should be without it. For in its teachings we seek the spirit of charity and love to bind the hearts of men together. If, on the contrary, we find it alienates and embitters human hearts, we are justified in casting it aside. Therefore, when man through sincere investigation discovers the fundamental reality of religion, his former prejudices disappear, and his new condition of enlightenment is conducive to the development of the world of humanity.
The purport of our subject is that, just as man is in need of outward education, he is likewise in need of ideal refinement; just as the outer sense of sight is necessary to him, he should also possess insight and conscious perception; as he needs hearing, at the same time memory is essential; as a body is indispensable to him, likewise a mind is requisite; one is a material virtue, the other is ideal. As human creatures fitted and qualified with this dual endowment, we must endeavor through the assistance and grace of God and by the exercise of our ideal power of intellect to attain all lofty virtues, that we may witness the effulgence of the Sun of Reality, reflect the spirit of the Kingdom, behold the manifest evidences of the reality of Divinity, comprehend irrefutable proofs of the immortality of the soul, live in conscious atonement with the eternal world and become quickened and awake with the life and love of God.
- Menon, Jonathan. “‘Abdu’l-Bahá Calls On the “Great Commoner”.” 239 Days in America, 21 Sept. 2012, https://239days.com/2012/09/21/abdul-baha-calls-on-the-great-commoner/. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 151. [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#section181 [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, 327-328. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/24#927538974 [return]
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