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Title: Some Answered Questions
Author: `Abdu'l-Bahá, 1844-1921
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Some Answered Questions


by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá



Edition 1, (September 2006)



                           BAHA’I TERMS OF USE


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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
Part One: ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE PROPHETS IN THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANITY
   1: NATURE IS GOVERNED BY ONE UNIVERSAL LAW
   2: PROOFS AND EVIDENCES OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
   3: THE NEED OF AN EDUCATOR
   4: ABRAHAM
   5: MOSES
   6: CHRIST
   7: MUHAMMAD
   8: THE BÁB
   9: BAHÁ’U’LLÁH
   10: TRADITIONAL PROOFS EXEMPLIFIED FROM THE BOOK OF DANIEL
   11: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN
   12: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH
   13: COMMENTARY ON THE TWELFTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN
   14: SPIRITUAL PROOFS
   15: TRUE WEALTH
Part Two: SOME CHRISTIAN SUBJECTS
   16: OUTWARD FORMS AND SYMBOLS MUST BE USED TO CONVEY INTELLECTUAL
   CONCEPTIONS
   17: THE BIRTH OF CHRIST
   18: THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST IS DUE TO HIS PERFECTIONS
   19: THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST
   20: THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM
   21: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BREAD AND THE WINE
   22: MIRACLES
   23: THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
   24: THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE APOSTLES
   25: THE HOLY SPIRIT
   26: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
   27: THE TRINITY
   28: EXPLANATION OF VERSE FIVE, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, OF THE GOSPEL OF ST.
   JOHN
   29: EXPLANATION OF VERSE TWENTY-TWO, CHAPTER FIFTEEN, OF THE FIRST
   EPISTLE OF ST. PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS
   30: ADAM AND EVE
   31: EXPLANATION OF BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT
   32: EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE “FOR MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN”
   33: THE “RETURN” SPOKEN OF BY THE PROPHETS
   34: PETER’S CONFESSION OF FAITH
   35: PREDESTINATION
Part Three: ON THE POWERS AND CONDITIONS OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD
   36: THE FIVE ASPECTS OF SPIRIT
   37: THE DIVINITY CAN ONLY BE COMPREHENDED THROUGH THE DIVINE
   MANIFESTATIONS
   38: THE THREE STATIONS OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
   39: THE HUMAN CONDITION AND THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE DIVINE
   MANIFESTATIONS
   40: THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
   41: THE UNIVERSAL CYCLES
   42: THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS
   43: THE TWO CLASSES OF PROPHETS
   44: EXPLANATION OF THE REBUKES ADDRESSED BY GOD TO THE PROPHETS
   45: EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE OF THE KITÁB-I-AQDAS, “THERE IS NO PARTNER
   FOR HIM WHO IS THE DAYSPRING OF REVELATION IN HIS MOST GREAT
   INFALLIBILITY”
Part Four: ON THE ORIGIN, POWERS AND CONDITIONS OF MAN
   46: MODIFICATION OF SPECIES
   47: THE UNIVERSE IS WITHOUT BEGINNING; THE ORIGIN OF MAN
   48: THE DIFFERENCE EXISTING BETWEEN MAN AND ANIMAL
   49: THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMAN RACE
   50: SPIRITUAL PROOFS OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN
   51: THE SPIRIT AND MIND OF MAN HAVE EXISTED FROM THE BEGINNING
   52: THE APPEARING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BODY
   53: THE RELATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE CREATURE
   54: ON THE PROCEEDING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT FROM GOD
   55: SOUL, SPIRIT AND MIND
   56: THE PHYSICAL POWERS AND THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS
   57: THE CAUSES OF THE DIFFERENCES IN THE CHARACTERS OF MEN
   58: THE DEGREE OF KNOWLEDGE POSSESSED BY MAN AND THE DIVINE
   MANIFESTATIONS
   59: MAN’S KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
   60: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (1)
   61: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (2)
   62: PERFECTIONS ARE WITHOUT LIMIT
   63: THE PROGRESS OF MAN IN THE OTHER WORLD
   64: THE STATE OF MAN AND HIS PROGRESS AFTER DEATH
   65: EXPLANATION OF A VERSE IN THE KITÁB-I-AQDAS
   66: THE EXISTENCE OF THE RATIONAL SOUL AFTER THE DEATH OF THE BODY
   THE IMMORTALITY OF CHILDREN
   67: ETERNAL LIFE AND ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD
   68: FATE
   69: THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS
   70: FREE WILL
   71: VISIONS AND COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS
   72: HEALING BY SPIRITUAL MEANS
   73: HEALING BY MATERIAL MEANS
Part Five: MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS
   74: THE NONEXISTENCE OF EVIL
   75: TWO KINDS OF TORMENT
   76: THE JUSTICE AND MERCY OF GOD
   77: THE RIGHT METHOD OF TREATING CRIMINALS
   78: STRIKES
   79: THE REALITY OF THE EXTERIOR WORLD
   80: REAL PREEXISTENCE
   81: REINCARNATION
   82: PANTHEISM
   83: THE FOUR METHODS OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE
   84: THE NECESSITY OF FOLLOWING THE TEACHINGS OF THE DIVINE
   MANIFESTATIONS



PART ONE: ON THE INFLUENCE OF THE PROPHETS IN THE EVOLUTION OF HUMANITY



1: NATURE IS GOVERNED BY ONE UNIVERSAL LAW


Nature is that condition, that reality, which in appearance consists in
life and death, or, in other words, in the composition and decomposition
of all things.

This Nature is subjected to an absolute organization, to determined laws,
to a complete order and a finished design, from which it will never
depart—to such a degree, indeed, that if you look carefully and with keen
sight, from the smallest invisible atom up to such large bodies of the
world of existence as the globe of the sun or the other great stars and
luminous spheres, whether you regard their arrangement, their composition,
their form or their movement, you will find that all are in the highest
degree of organization and are under one law from which they will never
depart.

But when you look at Nature itself, you see that it has no intelligence,
no will. For instance, the nature of fire is to burn; it burns without
will or intelligence. The nature of water is fluidity; it flows without
will or intelligence. The nature of the sun is radiance; it shines without
will or intelligence. The nature of vapor is to ascend; it ascends without
will or intelligence. Thus it is clear that the natural movements of all
things are compelled; there are no voluntary movements except those of
animals and, above all, those of man. Man is able to resist and to oppose
Nature because he discovers the constitution of things, and through this
he commands the forces of Nature; all the inventions he has made are due
to his discovery of the constitution of things. For example, he invented
the telegraph, which is the means of communication between the East and
the West. It is evident, then, that man rules over Nature.

Now, when you behold in existence such organizations, arrangements and
laws, can you say that all these are the effect of Nature, though Nature
has neither intelligence nor perception? If not, it becomes evident that
this Nature, which has neither perception nor intelligence, is in the
grasp of Almighty God, Who is the Ruler of the world of Nature; whatever
He wishes, He causes Nature to manifest.

One of the things which has appeared in the world of existence, and which
is one of the requirements of Nature, is human life. Considered from this
point of view man is the branch; nature is the root. Then can the will and
the intelligence, and the perfections which exist in the branch, be absent
in the root?

It is said that Nature in its own essence is in the grasp of the power of
God, Who is the Eternal Almighty One: He holds Nature within accurate
regulations and laws, and rules over it.(1)



2: PROOFS AND EVIDENCES OF THE EXISTENCE OF GOD


One of the proofs and demonstrations of the existence of God is the fact
that man did not create himself: nay, his creator and designer is another
than himself.

It is certain and indisputable that the creator of man is not like man
because a powerless creature cannot create another being. The maker, the
creator, has to possess all perfections in order that he may create.

Can the creation be perfect and the creator imperfect? Can a picture be a
masterpiece and the painter imperfect in his art? For it is his art and
his creation. Moreover, the picture cannot be like the painter; otherwise,
the painting would have created itself. However perfect the picture may
be, in comparison with the painter it is in the utmost degree of
imperfection.

The contingent world is the source of imperfections: God is the origin of
perfections. The imperfections of the contingent world are in themselves a
proof of the perfections of God.

For example, when you look at man, you see that he is weak. This very
weakness of the creature is a proof of the power of the Eternal Almighty
One, because, if there were no power, weakness could not be imagined. Then
the weakness of the creature is a proof of the power of God; for if there
were no power, there could be no weakness; so from this weakness it
becomes evident that there is power in the world. Again, in the contingent
world there is poverty; then necessarily wealth exists, since poverty is
apparent in the world. In the contingent world there is ignorance;
necessarily knowledge exists, because ignorance is found; for if there
were no knowledge, neither would there be ignorance. Ignorance is the
nonexistence of knowledge, and if there were no existence, nonexistence
could not be realized.

It is certain that the whole contingent world is subjected to a law and
rule which it can never disobey; even man is forced to submit to death, to
sleep and to other conditions—that is to say, man in certain particulars
is governed, and necessarily this state of being governed implies the
existence of a governor. Because a characteristic of contingent beings is
dependency, and this dependency is an essential necessity, therefore,
there must be an independent being whose independence is essential.

In the same way it is understood from the man who is sick that there must
be one who is in health; for if there were no health, his sickness could
not be proved.

Therefore, it becomes evident that there is an Eternal Almighty One, Who
is the possessor of all perfections, because unless He possessed all
perfections He would be like His creation.

Throughout the world of existence it is the same; the smallest created
thing proves that there is a creator. For instance, this piece of bread
proves that it has a maker.

Praise be to God! the least change produced in the form of the smallest
thing proves the existence of a creator: then can this great universe,
which is endless, be self-created and come into existence from the action
of matter and the elements? How self-evidently wrong is such a
supposition!

These obvious arguments are adduced for weak souls; but if the inner
perception be open, a hundred thousand clear proofs become visible. Thus,
when man feels the indwelling spirit, he is in no need of arguments for
its existence; but for those who are deprived of the bounty of the spirit,
it is necessary to establish external arguments.



3: THE NEED OF AN EDUCATOR


When we consider existence, we see that the mineral, vegetable, animal and
human worlds are all in need of an educator.

If the earth is not cultivated, it becomes a jungle where useless weeds
grow; but if a cultivator comes and tills the ground, it produces crops
which nourish living creatures. It is evident, therefore, that the soil
needs the cultivation of the farmer. Consider the trees: if they remain
without a cultivator, they will be fruitless, and without fruit they are
useless; but if they receive the care of a gardener, these same barren
trees become fruitful, and through cultivation, fertilization and
engrafting the trees which had bitter fruits yield sweet fruits. These are
rational proofs; in this age the peoples of the world need the arguments
of reason.

The same is true with respect to animals: notice that when the animal is
trained it becomes domestic, and also that man, if he is left without
education, becomes bestial, and, moreover, if left under the rule of
nature, becomes lower than an animal, whereas if he is educated he becomes
an angel. For the greater number of animals do not devour their own kind,
but men, in the Sudan, in the central regions of Africa, kill and eat each
other.

Now reflect that it is education that brings the East and the West under
the authority of man; it is education that produces wonderful industries;
it is education that spreads great sciences and arts; it is education that
makes manifest new discoveries and institutions. If there were no
educator, there would be no such things as comforts, civilization or
humanity. If a man be left alone in a wilderness where he sees none of his
own kind, he will undoubtedly become a mere brute; it is then clear that
an educator is needed.

But education is of three kinds: material, human and spiritual. Material
education is concerned with the progress and development of the body,
through gaining its sustenance, its material comfort and ease. This
education is common to animals and man.

Human education signifies civilization and progress—that is to say,
government, administration, charitable works, trades, arts and
handicrafts, sciences, great inventions and discoveries and elaborate
institutions, which are the activities essential to man as distinguished
from the animal.

Divine education is that of the Kingdom of God: it consists in acquiring
divine perfections, and this is true education; for in this state man
becomes the focus of divine blessings, the manifestation of the words,
“Let Us make man in Our image, and after Our likeness.”(2) This is the
goal of the world of humanity.

Now we need an educator who will be at the same time a material, human and
spiritual educator, and whose authority will be effective in all
conditions. So if anyone should say, “I possess perfect comprehension and
intelligence, and I have no need of such an educator,” he would be denying
that which is clear and evident, as though a child should say, “I have no
need of education; I will act according to my reason and intelligence, and
so I shall attain the perfections of existence”; or as though the blind
should say, “I am in no need of sight, because many other blind people
exist without difficulty.”

Then it is plain and evident that man needs an educator, and this educator
must be unquestionably and indubitably perfect in all respects and
distinguished above all men. Otherwise, if he should be like the rest of
humanity, he could not be their educator, more particularly because he
must be at the same time their material and human as well as their
spiritual educator—that is to say, he must teach men to organize and carry
out physical matters, and to form a social order in order to establish
cooperation and mutual aid in living so that material affairs may be
organized and regulated for any circumstances that may occur. In the same
way he must establish human education—that is to say, he must educate
intelligence and thought in such a way that they may attain complete
development, so that knowledge and science may increase, and the reality
of things, the mysteries of beings and the properties of existence may be
discovered; that, day by day, instructions, inventions and institutions
may be improved; and from things perceptible to the senses conclusions as
to intellectual things may be deduced.

He must also impart spiritual education, so that intelligence and
comprehension may penetrate the metaphysical world, and may receive
benefit from the sanctifying breeze of the Holy Spirit, and may enter into
relationship with the Supreme Concourse. He must so educate the human
reality that it may become the center of the divine appearance, to such a
degree that the attributes and the names of God shall be resplendent in
the mirror of the reality of man, and the holy verse “We will make man in
Our image and likeness” shall be realized.(3)

It is clear that human power is not able to fill such a great office, and
that reason alone could not undertake the responsibility of so great a
mission. How can one solitary person without help and without support lay
the foundations of such a noble construction? He must depend on the help
of the spiritual and divine power to be able to undertake this mission.
One Holy Soul gives life to the world of humanity, changes the aspect of
the terrestrial globe, causes intelligence to progress, vivifies souls,
lays the basis of a new life, establishes new foundations, organizes the
world, brings nations and religions under the shadow of one standard,
delivers man from the world of imperfections and vices, and inspires him
with the desire and need of natural and acquired perfections. Certainly
nothing short of a divine power could accomplish so great a work. We ought
to consider this with justice, for this is the office of justice.

A Cause which all the governments and peoples of the world, with all their
powers and armies, cannot promulgate and spread, one Holy Soul can promote
without help or support! Can this be done by human power? No, in the name
of God! For example, Christ, alone and solitary, upraised the standard of
peace and righteousness, a work which all the victorious governments with
all their hosts are unable to accomplish. Consider what was the fate of so
many and diverse empires and peoples: the Roman Empire, France, Germany,
Russia, England, etc.; all were gathered together under the same tent—that
is to say, the appearance of Christ brought about a union among these
diverse nations, some of whom, under the influence of Christianity, became
so united that they sacrificed their lives and property for one another.
After the time of Constantine, who was the protagonist of Christianity,
divisions broke out among them. The point is this, that Christ united
these nations but after a while governments became the cause of discord.
What I mean is that Christ sustained a Cause that all the kings of the
earth could not establish! He united the various religions and modified
ancient customs. Consider what great differences existed between Romans,
Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Phoenicians, Israelites and other peoples of
Europe. Christ removed these differences and became the cause of love
between these communities. Although after some time governments destroyed
this union, the work of Christ was accomplished.

Therefore, the Universal Educator must be at the same time a physical,
human and spiritual educator; and He must possess a supernatural power, so
that He may hold the position of a divine teacher. If He does not show
forth such a holy power, He will not be able to educate, for if He be
imperfect, how can He give a perfect education? If He be ignorant, how can
He make others wise? If He be unjust, how can He make others just? If He
be earthly, how can He make others heavenly?

Now we must consider justly: did these Divine Manifestations Who have
appeared possess all these qualifications or not?(4) If They had not these
qualifications and these perfections, They were not real Educators.

Therefore, it must be our task to prove to the thoughtful by reasonable
arguments the prophethood of Moses, of Christ and of the other Divine
Manifestations. And the proofs and evidences which we give are not based
on traditional but on rational arguments.

It has now been proved by rational arguments that the world of existence
is in the utmost need of an educator, and that its education must be
achieved by divine power. There is no doubt that this holy power is
revelation, and that the world must be educated through this power which
is above human power.



4: ABRAHAM


One of those Who possessed this power and was assisted by it was Abraham.
And the proof of it was that He was born in Mesopotamia, and of a family
who were ignorant of the Oneness of God. He opposed His own nation and
people, and even His own family, by rejecting all their gods. Alone and
without help He resisted a powerful tribe, a task which is neither simple
nor easy. It is as if in this day someone were to go to a Christian people
who are attached to the Bible, and deny Christ; or in the Papal Court—God
forbid!—if such a one were in the most powerful manner to blaspheme
against Christ and oppose the people.

These people believed not in one God but in many gods, to whom they
ascribed miracles; therefore, they all arose against Him, and no one
supported Him except Lot, His brother’s son, and one or two other people
of no importance. At last, reduced to the utmost distress by the
opposition of His enemies, He was obliged to leave His native land. In
reality they banished Him in order that He might be crushed and destroyed,
and that no trace of Him might be left.

Abraham then came into the region of the Holy Land. His enemies considered
that His exile would lead to His destruction and ruin, as it seemed
impossible that a man banished from His native land, deprived of His
rights and oppressed on all sides—even though He were a king—could escape
extermination. But Abraham stood fast and showed forth extraordinary
firmness—and God made this exile to be to His eternal honor—until He
established the Unity of God in the midst of a polytheistic generation.
This exile became the cause of the progress of the descendants of Abraham,
and the Holy Land was given to them. As a result the teachings of Abraham
were spread abroad, a Jacob appeared among His posterity, and a Joseph who
became ruler in Egypt. In consequence of His exile a Moses and a being
like Christ were manifested from His posterity, and Hagar was found from
whom Ishmael was born, one of whose descendants was Muḥammad. In
consequence of His exile the Báb appeared from His posterity,(5) and the
Prophets of Israel were numbered among the descendants of Abraham. And so
it will continue for ever and ever. Finally, in consequence of His exile
the whole of Europe and most of Asia came under the protecting shadow of
the God of Israel. See what a power it is that enabled a Man Who was a
fugitive from His country to found such a family, to establish such a
faith, and to promulgate such teachings. Can anyone say that all this
occurred accidentally? We must be just: was this Man an Educator or not?

Since the exile of Abraham from Ur to Aleppo in Syria produced this
result, we must consider what will be the effect of the exile of
Bahá’u’lláh in His several removes from Ṭihrán to Ba_gh_dád, from thence
to Constantinople, to Rumelia and to the Holy Land.

See what a perfect Educator Abraham was!



5: MOSES


Moses was for a long time a shepherd in the wilderness. Regarded
outwardly, He was a Man brought up in a tyrannical household, and was
known among men as One Who had committed a murder and become a shepherd.
By the government and the people of Pharaoh He was much hated and
detested.

It was such a Man as this that freed a great nation from the chains of
captivity, made them contented, brought them out from Egypt, and led them
to the Holy Land.

This people from the depths of degradation were lifted up to the height of
glory. They were captive; they became free. They were the most ignorant of
peoples; they became the most wise. As the result of the institutions that
Moses gave them, they attained a position which entitled them to honor
among all nations, and their fame spread to all lands, to such a degree
indeed that among surrounding nations if one wished to praise a man one
said, “Surely he is an Israelite.” Moses established laws and ordinances;
these gave life to the people of Israel, and led them to the highest
possible degree of civilization at that period.

To such a development did they attain that the philosophers of Greece
would come and acquire knowledge from the learned men of Israel. Such an
one was Socrates, who visited Syria, and took from the children of Israel
the teachings of the Unity of God and of the immortality of the soul.
After his return to Greece, he promulgated these teachings. Later the
people of Greece rose in opposition to him, accused him of impiety,
arraigned him before the Areopagus, and condemned him to death by poison.

Now, how could a Man Who was a stammerer, Who had been brought up in the
house of Pharaoh, Who was known among men as a murderer, Who through fear
had for a long time remained in concealment, and Who had become a
shepherd, establish so great a Cause, when the wisest philosophers on
earth have not displayed one thousandth part of this influence? This is
indeed a prodigy.

A Man Who had a stammering tongue, Who could not even converse correctly,
succeeded in sustaining this great Cause! If He had not been assisted by
divine power, He would never have been able to carry out this great work.
These facts are undeniable. Materialist philosophers, Greek thinkers, the
great men of Rome became famous in the world, each one of them having
specialized in one branch of learning only. Thus Galen and Hippocrates
became celebrated in medicine, Aristotle in logic and reasoning, and Plato
in ethics and theology. How is it that a shepherd could acquire all of
this knowledge? It is beyond doubt that He must have been assisted by an
omnipotent power.

Consider also what trials and difficulties arise for people. To prevent an
act of cruelty, Moses struck down an Egyptian and afterward became known
among men as a murderer, more notably because the man He had killed was of
the ruling nation. Then He fled, and it was after that that He was raised
to the rank of a Prophet!

In spite of His evil repute, how wonderfully He was guided by a
supernatural power in establishing His great institutions and laws!



6: CHRIST


Afterward Christ came, saying, “I am born of the Holy Spirit.” Though it
is now easy for the Christians to believe this assertion, at that time it
was very difficult. According to the text of the Gospel the Pharisees
said, “Is not this the son of Joseph of Nazareth Whom we know? How can He
say, therefore, I came down from heaven?”(6)

Briefly, this Man, Who, apparently, and in the eyes of all, was lowly,
arose with such great power that He abolished a religion that had lasted
fifteen hundred years, at a time when the slightest deviation from it
exposed the offender to danger or to death. Moreover, in the days of
Christ the morals of the whole world and the condition of the Israelites
had become completely confused and corrupted, and Israel had fallen into a
state of the utmost degradation, misery and bondage. At one time they had
been taken captive by the Chaldeans and Persians; at another time they
were reduced to slavery to the Assyrians; then they became the subjects
and vassals of the Greeks; and finally they were ruled over and despised
by the Romans.

This young Man, Christ, by the help of a supernatural power, abrogated the
ancient Mosaic Law, reformed the general morals, and once again laid the
foundation of eternal glory for the Israelites. Moreover, He brought to
humanity the glad tidings of universal peace, and spread abroad teachings
which were not for Israel alone but were for the general happiness of the
whole human race.

Those who first strove to do away with Him were the Israelites, His own
kindred. To all outward appearances they overcame Him and brought Him into
direst distress. At last they crowned Him with the crown of thorns and
crucified Him. But Christ, while apparently in the deepest misery and
affliction, proclaimed, “This Sun will be resplendent, this Light will
shine, My grace will surround the world, and all My enemies will be
brought low.” And as He said, so it was; for all the kings of the earth
have not been able to withstand Him. Nay, all their standards have been
overthrown, while the banner of that Oppressed One has been raised to the
zenith.

But this is opposed to all the rules of human reason. Then it becomes
clear and evident that this Glorious Being was a true Educator of the
world of humanity, and that He was helped and confirmed by divine power.



7: MUḤAMMAD


Now we come to Muḥammad. Americans and Europeans have heard a number of
stories about the Prophet which they have thought to be true, although the
narrators were either ignorant or antagonistic: most of them were clergy;
others were ignorant Muslims who repeated unfounded traditions about
Muḥammad which they ignorantly believed to be to His praise.

Thus some benighted Muslims made His polygamy the pivot of their praises
and held it to be a wonder, regarding it as a miracle; and European
historians, for the most part, rely on the tales of these ignorant people.

For example, a foolish man said to a clergyman that the true proof of
greatness is bravery and the shedding of blood, and that in one day on the
field of battle a follower of Muḥammad had cut off the heads of one
hundred men! This misled the clergyman to infer that killing is considered
the way to prove one’s faith to Muḥammad, while this is merely imaginary.
The military expeditions of Muḥammad, on the contrary, were always
defensive actions: a proof of this is that during thirteen years, in
Mecca, He and His followers endured the most violent persecutions. At this
period they were the target for the arrows of hatred: some of His
companions were killed and their property confiscated; others fled to
foreign lands. Muḥammad Himself, after the most extreme persecutions by
the Quray_sh_ites, who finally resolved to kill Him, fled to Medina in the
middle of the night. Yet even then His enemies did not cease their
persecutions, but pursued Him to Medina, and His disciples even to
Abyssinia.

These Arab tribes were in the lowest depths of savagery and barbarism, and
in comparison with them the savages of Africa and wild Indians of America
were as advanced as a Plato. The savages of America do not bury their
children alive as these Arabs did their daughters, glorying in it as being
an honorable thing to do.(7) Thus many of the men would threaten their
wives, saying, “If a daughter is born to you, I will kill you.” Even down
to the present time the Arabs dread having daughters. Further, a man was
permitted to take a thousand women, and most husbands had more than ten
wives in their household. When these tribes made war, the one which was
victorious would take the women and children of the vanquished tribe
captive and treat them as slaves.

When a man who had ten wives died, the sons of these women rushed at each
other’s mothers; and if one of the sons threw his mantle over the head of
his father’s wife and cried out, “This woman is my lawful property,” at
once the unfortunate woman became his prisoner and slave. He could do
whatever he wished with her. He could kill her, imprison her in a well, or
beat, curse and torture her until death released her. According to the
Arab habits and customs, he was her master. It is evident that malignity,
jealousy, hatred and enmity must have existed between the wives and
children of a household, and it is, therefore, needless to enlarge upon
the subject. Again, consider what was the condition and life of these
oppressed women! Moreover, the means by which these Arab tribes lived
consisted in pillage and robbery, so that they were perpetually engaged in
fighting and war, killing one another, plundering and devastating each
other’s property, and capturing women and children, whom they would sell
to strangers. How often it happened that the daughters and sons of a
prince, who spent their day in comfort and luxury, found themselves, when
night fell, reduced to shame, poverty and captivity. Yesterday they were
princes, today they are captives; yesterday they were great ladies, today
they are slaves.

Muḥammad received the Divine Revelation among these tribes, and after
enduring thirteen years of persecution from them, He fled.(8) But this
people did not cease to oppress; they united to exterminate Him and all
His followers. It was under such circumstances that Muḥammad was forced to
take up arms. This is the truth: we are not bigoted and do not wish to
defend Him, but we are just, and we say what is just. Look at it with
justice. If Christ Himself had been placed in such circumstances among
such tyrannical and barbarous tribes, and if for thirteen years He with
His disciples had endured all these trials with patience, culminating in
flight from His native land—if in spite of this these lawless tribes
continued to pursue Him, to slaughter the men, to pillage their property,
and to capture their women and children—what would have been Christ’s
conduct with regard to them? If this oppression had fallen only upon
Himself, He would have forgiven them, and such an act of forgiveness would
have been most praiseworthy; but if He had seen that these cruel and
bloodthirsty murderers wished to kill, to pillage and to injure all these
oppressed ones, and to take captive the women and children, it is certain
that He would have protected them and would have resisted the tyrants.
What objection, then, can be taken to Muḥammad’s action? Is it this, that
He did not, with His followers, and their women and children, submit to
these savage tribes? To free these tribes from their bloodthirstiness was
the greatest kindness, and to coerce and restrain them was a true mercy.
They were like a man holding in his hand a cup of poison, which, when
about to drink, a friend breaks and thus saves him. If Christ had been
placed in similar circumstances, it is certain that with a conquering
power He would have delivered the men, women and children from the claws
of these bloodthirsty wolves.

Muḥammad never fought against the Christians; on the contrary, He treated
them kindly and gave them perfect freedom. A community of Christian people
lived at Najrán and were under His care and protection. Muḥammad said, “If
anyone infringes their rights, I Myself will be his enemy, and in the
presence of God I will bring a charge against him.” In the edicts which He
promulgated it is clearly stated that the lives, properties and honor of
the Christians and Jews are under the protection of God; and that if a
Muḥammadan married a Christian woman, the husband must not prevent her
from going to church, nor oblige her to veil herself; and that if she
died, he must place her remains in the care of the Christian clergy.
Should the Christians desire to build a church, Islám ought to help them.
In case of war between Islám and her enemies, the Christians should be
exempted from the obligation of fighting, unless they desired of their own
free will to do so in defense of Islám, because they were under its
protection. But as a compensation for this immunity, they should pay
yearly a small sum of money. In short, there are seven detailed edicts on
these subjects, some copies of which are still extant at Jerusalem. This
is an established fact and is not dependent on my affirmation. The edict
of the second Caliph(9) still exists in the custody of the orthodox
Patriarch of Jerusalem, and of this there is no doubt.(10)

Nevertheless, after a certain time, and through the transgression of both
the Muḥammadans and the Christians, hatred and enmity arose between them.
Beyond this fact, all the narrations of the Muslims, Christians and others
are simply fabrications, which have their origin in fanaticism, or
ignorance, or emanate from intense hostility.

For example, the Muslims say that Muḥammad cleft the moon, and that it
fell on the mountain of Mecca: they think that the moon is a small body
which Muḥammad divided into two parts and threw one part on this mountain,
and the other part on another mountain.

Such stories are pure fanaticism. Also the traditions which the clergy
quote, and the incidents with which they find fault, are all exaggerated,
if not entirely without foundation.

Briefly, Muḥammad appeared in the desert of Ḥijáz in the Arabian
Peninsula, which was a desolate, sterile wilderness, sandy and
uninhabited. Some parts, like Mecca and Medina, are extremely hot; the
people are nomads with the manners and customs of the dwellers in the
desert, and are entirely destitute of education and science. Muḥammad
Himself was illiterate, and the Qur’án was originally written upon the
bladebones of sheep, or on palm leaves. These details indicate the
condition of the people to whom Muḥammad was sent. The first question
which He put to them was, “Why do you not accept the Pentateuch and the
Gospel, and why do you not believe in Christ and in Moses?” This saying
presented difficulties to them, and they argued, “Our forefathers did not
believe in the Pentateuch and the Gospel; tell us, why was this?” He
answered, “They were misled; you ought to reject those who do not believe
in the Pentateuch and the Gospel, even though they are your fathers and
your ancestors.”

In such a country, and amidst such barbarous tribes, an illiterate Man
produced a book in which, in a perfect and eloquent style, He explained
the divine attributes and perfections, the prophethood of the Messengers
of God, the divine laws, and some scientific facts.

Thus, you know that before the observations of modern times—that is to
say, during the first centuries and down to the fifteenth century of the
Christian era—all the mathematicians of the world agreed that the earth
was the center of the universe, and that the sun moved. The famous
astronomer who was the protagonist of the new theory discovered the
movement of the earth and the immobility of the sun.(11) Until his time
all the astronomers and philosophers of the world followed the Ptolemaic
system, and whoever said anything against it was considered ignorant.
Though Pythagoras, and Plato during the latter part of his life, adopted
the theory that the annual movement of the sun around the zodiac does not
proceed from the sun, but rather from the movement of the earth around the
sun, this theory had been entirely forgotten, and the Ptolemaic system was
accepted by all mathematicians. But there are some verses revealed in the
Qur’án contrary to the theory of the Ptolemaic system. One of them is “The
sun moves in a fixed place,” which shows the fixity of the sun, and its
movement around an axis.(12) Again, in another verse, “And each star moves
in its own heaven.”(13) Thus is explained the movement of the sun, of the
moon, of the earth, and of other bodies. When the Qur’án appeared, all the
mathematicians ridiculed these statements and attributed the theory to
ignorance. Even the doctors of Islám, when they saw that these verses were
contrary to the accepted Ptolemaic system, were obliged to explain them
away.

It was not until after the fifteenth century of the Christian era, nearly
nine hundred years after Muḥammad, that a famous astronomer made new
observations and important discoveries by the aid of the telescope, which
he had invented.(14) The rotation of the earth, the fixity of the sun, and
also its movement around an axis, were discovered. It became evident that
the verses of the Qur’án agreed with existing facts, and that the
Ptolemaic system was imaginary.

In short, many Oriental peoples have been reared for thirteen centuries
under the shadow of the religion of Muḥammad. During the Middle Ages,
while Europe was in the lowest depths of barbarism, the Arab peoples were
superior to the other nations of the earth in learning, in the arts,
mathematics, civilization, government and other sciences. The Enlightener
and Educator of these Arab tribes, and the Founder of the civilization and
perfections of humanity among these different races, was an illiterate
Man, Muḥammad. Was this illustrious Man a thorough Educator or not? A just
judgment is necessary.



8: THE BÁB


As for the Báb—may my soul be His sacrifice!—at a youthful age, that is to
say, when He had reached the twenty-fifth year of His blessed life, He
stood forth to proclaim His Cause.(15) It was universally admitted by the
_Sh_í’is that He had never studied in any school and had not acquired
knowledge from any teacher; all the people of _Sh_íráz bear witness to
this. Nevertheless, He suddenly appeared before the people, endowed with
the most complete erudition. Although He was but a merchant, He confounded
all the ‘ulamá of Persia.(16) All alone, in a way which is beyond
imagination, He upheld the Cause among the Persians, who are renowned for
their religious fanaticism. This illustrious Soul arose with such power
that He shook the supports of the religion, of the morals, the conditions,
the habits and the customs of Persia, and instituted new rules, new laws
and a new religion. Though the great personages of the State, nearly all
the clergy, and the public men arose to destroy and annihilate Him, He
alone withstood them and moved the whole of Persia.

Many ‘ulamá and public men, as well as other people, joyfully sacrificed
their lives in His Cause, and hastened to the plain of martyrdom.

The government, the nation, the doctors of divinity and the great
personages desired to extinguish His light, but they could not do so. At
last His moon arose, His star shone forth, His foundations became firmly
established, and His dawning-place became brilliant. He imparted divine
education to an unenlightened multitude and produced marvelous results on
the thoughts, morals, customs and conditions of the Persians. He announced
the glad tidings of the manifestation of the Sun of Bahá to His followers
and prepared them to believe.

The appearance of such wonderful signs and great results; the effects
produced upon the minds of the people, and upon the prevailing ideas; the
establishment of the foundations of progress; and the organization of the
principles of success and prosperity by a young merchant, constitute the
greatest proof that He was a perfect Educator. A just person will never
hesitate to believe this.



9: BAHÁ’U’LLÁH


Bahá’u’lláh(17) appeared at a time when the Persian Empire was immersed in
profound obscurantism and ignorance and lost in the blindest fanaticism.

In the European histories, no doubt, you have read detailed accounts of
the morals, customs and ideas of the Persians during the last centuries.
It is useless to repeat them. Briefly, we will say that Persia had fallen
so low that to all foreign travelers it was a matter of regret that this
country, which in former times had been so glorious and highly civilized,
had now become so decayed, ruined and upset, and that its population had
lost its dignity.

It was at this time that Bahá’u’lláh appeared. His father was one of the
viziers, not one of the ‘ulamá. As all the people of Persia know, He had
never studied in any school, nor had He associated with the ‘ulamá or the
men of learning. The early part of His life was passed in the greatest
happiness. His companions and associates were Persians of the highest
rank, but not learned men.

As soon as the Báb became manifested, Bahá’u’lláh said, “This great Man is
the Lord of the righteous, and faith in Him is incumbent upon all.” And He
arose to assist the Báb and gave many proofs and positive evidences of His
truth, in spite of the fact that the ‘ulamá of the state religion had
constrained the Persian government to oppose and resist Him and had
further issued decrees ordering the massacre, pillage, persecution and
expulsion of His followers. In all the provinces they began to kill, to
burn, to pillage the converts and even to assault the women and children.
Regardless of this, Bahá’u’lláh arose to proclaim the word of the Báb with
the greatest firmness and energy. Not for one moment was He in
concealment; He mixed openly with His enemies. He was occupied in showing
forth evidences and proofs and was recognized as the Herald of the Word of
God. In many changes and chances He endured the greatest misfortunes, and
at every moment He ran the risk of being martyred.

He was put into chains and confined in an underground prison. His vast
property and inheritance were pillaged and confiscated. He was exiled four
times from land to land and found rest only in the “Greatest Prison.”(18)

In spite of all this He never ceased for one instant His proclamation of
the greatness of the Cause of God. He manifested such virtue, knowledge
and perfections that He became a wonder to all the people of Persia. So
much so that in Ṭihrán, Ba_gh_dád, Constantinople, Rumelia, and even in
Akká, every one of the learned and scientific men who entered His
presence, whether friend or enemy, never failed to receive the most
sufficient and convincing answer to whatever question was propounded. All
frequently acknowledged that He was alone and unique in all perfections.

It often happened that in Ba_gh_dád certain Muḥammadan ‘ulamá, Jewish
rabbis and Christians met together with some European scholars, in a
blessed reunion: each one had some question to propose, and although they
were possessed of varying degrees of culture, they each heard a sufficient
and convincing reply, and retired satisfied. Even the Persian ‘ulamá who
were at Karbilá and Najaf chose a wise man whom they sent on a mission to
Him; his name was Mullá Ḥasan ‘Amú. He came into the Holy Presence, and
proposed a number of questions on behalf of the ‘ulamá, to which
Bahá’u’lláh replied. Then Ḥasan ‘Amú said, “The ‘ulamá recognize without
hesitation and confess the knowledge and virtue of Bahá’u’lláh, and they
are unanimously convinced that in all learning he has no peer or equal;
and it is also evident that he has never studied or acquired this
learning; but still the ‘ulamá say, ‘We are not contented with this; we do
not acknowledge the reality of his mission by virtue of his wisdom and
righteousness. Therefore, we ask him to show us a miracle in order to
satisfy and tranquilize our hearts.’”

Bahá’u’lláh replied, “Although you have no right to ask this, for God
should test His creatures, and they should not test God, still I allow and
accept this request. But the Cause of God is not a theatrical display that
is presented every hour, of which some new diversion may be asked for
every day. If it were thus, the Cause of God would become mere child’s
play.

“The ‘ulamás must, therefore, assemble, and, with one accord, choose one
miracle, and write that, after the performance of this miracle they will
no longer entertain doubts about Me, and that all will acknowledge and
confess the truth of My Cause. Let them seal this paper, and bring it to
Me. This must be the accepted criterion: if the miracle is performed, no
doubt will remain for them; and if not, We shall be convicted of
imposture.” The learned man, Ḥasan ‘Amú, rose and replied, “There is no
more to be said”; he then kissed the knee of the Blessed One although he
was not a believer, and went. He gathered the ‘ulamá and gave them the
sacred message. They consulted together and said, “This man is an
enchanter; perhaps he will perform an enchantment, and then we shall have
nothing more to say.” Acting on this belief, they did not dare to push the
matter further.(19)

This man, Ḥasan ‘Amú, mentioned this fact at many meetings. After leaving
Karbilá he went to Kirman_sh_áh and Ṭihrán and spread a detailed account
of it everywhere, laying emphasis on the fear and the withdrawal of the
‘ulamá.

Briefly, all His adversaries in the Orient acknowledged His greatness,
grandeur, knowledge and virtue; and though they were His enemies, they
always spoke of Him as “the renowned Bahá’u’lláh.”

At the time when this great Light suddenly arose upon the horizon of
Persia, all the people, the ministers, the ‘ulamá and men of other classes
rose against Him, pursuing Him with the greatest animosity, and
proclaiming “that this man wishes to suppress and destroy the religion,
the law, the nation and the empire.” The same was said of Christ. But
Bahá’u’lláh alone and without support resisted them all, without ever
showing the least weakness. At last they said, “As long as this man is in
Persia, there will be no peace and tranquillity; we must banish him, so
that Persia may return to a state of quietude.”

They proceeded to use violence toward Him to oblige Him to ask for
permission to leave Persia, thinking that by this means the light of His
truth would be extinguished, but the result was quite the contrary. The
Cause became magnified, and its flame more intense. At first it spread
throughout Persia only, but the exile of Bahá’u’lláh caused the diffusion
of the Cause throughout other countries. Afterward His enemies said,
“‘Iráq-i-‘Arab(20) is not far enough from Persia; we must send him to a
more distant kingdom.” This is why the Persian government determined to
send Bahá’u’lláh from ‘Iráq to Constantinople. Again the event proved that
the Cause was not in the least weakened. Once more they said,
“Constantinople is a place of passage and of sojourn for various races and
peoples; among them are many Persians.” For this reason the Persians had
Him further exiled to Rumelia; but, when there, the flame became more
powerful, and the Cause more exalted. At last the Persians said, “Not one
of these places is safe from his influence; we must send him to some place
where he will be reduced to powerlessness, and where his family and
followers will have to submit to the direst afflictions.” So they chose
the prison of Akká, which is reserved especially for murderers, thieves
and highway robbers, and in truth they classed Him with such people. But
the power of God became manifested: His word was promulgated, and the
greatness of Bahá’u’lláh then became evident, for it was from this prison
and under such humiliating circumstances that He caused Persia to advance
from one state into another state. He overcame all His enemies and proved
to them that they could not resist the Cause. His holy teachings
penetrated all regions, and His Cause was established.

Indeed, in all parts of Persia His enemies arose against Him with the
greatest hatred, imprisoning, killing and beating His converts, and
burning and razing to the ground thousands of dwellings, striving by every
means to exterminate and crush the Cause. In spite of all this, from the
prison of murderers, highway robbers and thieves, it became exalted. His
teachings were spread abroad, and His exhortations affected many of those
who had been the most full of hatred, and made them firm believers. Even
the Persian government itself became awakened and regretted that which had
arisen through the fault of the ‘ulamá.

When Bahá’u’lláh came to this prison in the Holy Land, the wise men
realized that the glad tidings which God gave through the tongue of the
Prophets two or three thousand years before were again manifested, and
that God was faithful to His promise; for to some of the Prophets He had
revealed and given the good news that “the Lord of Hosts should be
manifested in the Holy Land.” All these promises were fulfilled; and it is
difficult to understand how Bahá’u’lláh could have been obliged to leave
Persia, and to pitch His tent in this Holy Land, but for the persecution
of His enemies, His banishment and exile. His enemies intended that His
imprisonment should completely destroy and annihilate the blessed Cause,
but this prison was in reality of the greatest assistance and became the
means of its development. The divine renown of Bahá’u’lláh reached the
East and the West, and the rays of the Sun of Truth illuminated all the
world. Praise be to God! though He was a prisoner, His tent was raised on
Mount Carmel, and He moved abroad with the greatest majesty. Every person,
friend or stranger, who came into His presence used to say, “This is a
prince, not a captive.”

Upon His arrival in prison(21) He addressed an epistle to Napoleon,(22)
which He sent through the French ambassador. The gist of it was, “Ask what
is Our crime, and why We are confined in this prison and this dungeon.”
Napoleon made no reply. Then a second epistle was issued, which is
contained in the Súriy-i-Haykal.(23) The epitome of it is: “Oh Napoleon,
as thou hast not listened to My proclamation, and as thou hast not
answered it, thy dominion will before long be taken away from thee, and
thou wilt be utterly destroyed.” This epistle was sent to Napoleon by
post, through the care of Cesar Ketaphakou,(24) as was known to all the
companions of His exile. The text of this warning reached the whole of
Persia, for it was at that time that the Kitáb-i-Haykal was spread in
Persia, and this epistle was among the contents of this book. This
happened in A.D. 1869, and as this Súriy-i-Haykal was circulated in Persia
and India and was in the hands of all believers, they were waiting to see
what would come to pass. Not long after, in A.D. 1870, the war between
Germany and France broke out; and though no one at that time expected the
victory of Germany, Napoleon was defeated and dishonored; he surrendered
to his enemies, and his glory was changed into deep abasement.

Tablets(25) were also sent to other kings, and among them was the letter
to H. M. Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh. In that epistle Bahá’u’lláh said, “Have Me
summoned, gather the ‘ulamá, and ask for proofs and arguments, so that the
truth and falsehood may become known.” H. M. Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh sent the
blessed epistle to the ‘ulamá and proposed to them that they should
undertake this mission, but they dared not do so. Then he asked seven of
the most celebrated among them to write an answer to the challenge. After
some time they returned the blessed letter, saying, “This man is the
opposer of religion and the enemy of the _Sh_áh.” His majesty the _Sh_áh
of Persia was much vexed, and said, “This is a question for proofs and
arguments, and of truth or falsehood: what has it to do with enmity to the
government? Alas! how much we respected these ‘ulamá, who cannot even
reply to this epistle.”

Briefly, all that was recorded in the Tablets to the Kings is being
fulfilled: if from the year A.D. 1870 we compare the events that have
occurred, we will find everything that has happened has appeared as
predicted; only a few remain which will afterward become manifested.

So also foreign peoples, and other sects who were not believers,
attributed many wonderful things to Bahá’u’lláh. Some believed that He was
a saint,(26) and some even wrote treatises about Him. One of them, Siyyid
Dávúdí, a Sunnite savant of Ba_gh_dád, wrote a short treatise in which he
related certain supernatural acts of Bahá’u’lláh. Even now, in all parts
of the East, there are some people who, though they do not believe in His
manifestation, nevertheless believe Him to be a saint and relate miracles
attributed to Him.

To sum up, both His antagonists and His partisans, as well as all those
who were received in the sacred spot, acknowledged and bore witness to the
greatness of Bahá’u’lláh. Though they did not believe in Him, still they
acknowledged His grandeur, and as soon as they entered the sacred spot,
the presence of Bahá’u’lláh produced such an effect on most of them that
they could not utter a word. How many times it happened that one of His
most bitter enemies would resolve within himself, “I will say such and
such things when I reach His presence, and I will dispute and argue thus
with Him,” but when he entered the Holy Presence, he would become amazed
and confounded, and remain speechless.

Bahá’u’lláh had never studied Arabic; He had not had a tutor or teacher,
nor had He entered a school. Nevertheless, the eloquence and elegance of
His blessed expositions in Arabic, as well as His Arabic writings, caused
astonishment and stupefaction to the most accomplished Arabic scholars,
and all recognized and declared that He was incomparable and unequaled.

If we carefully examine the text of the Torah, we see that the Divine
Manifestation never said to those who denied Him, “Whatever miracle you
desire, I am ready to perform, and I will submit to whatever test you
propose.” But in the Epistle to the _Sh_áh, Bahá’u’lláh said clearly,
“Gather the ‘ulamá, and summon Me, that the evidences and proofs may be
established.”(27)

For fifty years Bahá’u’lláh faced His enemies like a mountain: all wished
to annihilate Him and sought His destruction. A thousand times they
planned to crucify and destroy Him, and during these fifty years He was in
constant danger.

In this day Persia is in such a state of decadence and ruin that all
intelligent men, whether Persians or foreigners, who realize the true
state of affairs, recognize that its progress, its civilization and its
reconstruction depend upon the promulgation of the teachings and the
development of the principles of this great Personage.

Christ, in His blessed day, in reality only educated eleven men: the
greatest of them was Peter, who, nevertheless, when he was tested, thrice
denied Christ. In spite of this, the Cause of Christ subsequently
permeated the world. At the present day Bahá’u’lláh has educated thousands
of souls who, while under the menace of the sword, raised to the highest
heaven the cry of “Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá”;(28) and in the fire of tests, their
faces became illuminated like gold. Then reflect what will take place in
the future.

Finally, we must be just and acknowledge what an Educator this Glorious
Being was, what marvelous signs were manifested by Him, and what power and
might have been realized in the world through Him.



10: TRADITIONAL PROOFS EXEMPLIFIED FROM THE BOOK OF DANIEL


Today, at table, let us speak for a little of proofs. If you had come to
this blessed place in the days of the manifestation of the evident
Light,(29) if you had attained to the court of His presence, and had
witnessed His luminous beauty, you would have understood that His
teachings and perfection were not in need of further evidence.

Only through the honor of entering His presence, many souls became
confirmed believers; they had no need of other proofs. Even those people
who rejected and hated Him bitterly, when they had met Him, would testify
to the grandeur of Bahá’u’lláh, saying, “This is a magnificent man, but
what a pity that he makes such a claim! Otherwise, all that he says is
acceptable.”

But now, as that Light of Reality has set, all are in need of proofs; so
we have undertaken to demonstrate rational proofs of the truth of His
claim. We will cite another which alone is sufficient for all who are
just, and which no one can deny. It is that this illustrious Being
uplifted His Cause in the “Greatest Prison”;(30) from this Prison His
light was shed abroad, His fame conquered the world, and the proclamation
of His glory reached the East and West. Until our time no such thing has
ever occurred.

If there be justice, this will be acknowledged; but there are some people
who, even if all the proofs in the world be adduced before them, still
will not judge justly!

Thus nations and states with all their strength could not resist Him.
Verily, single and alone, imprisoned and oppressed, He accomplished
whatever He desired.

I do not wish to mention the miracles of Bahá’u’lláh, for it may perhaps
be said that these are traditions, liable both to truth and to error, like
the accounts of the miracles of Christ in the Gospel, which come to us
from the apostles, and not from anyone else, and are denied by the Jews.
Though if I wish to mention the supernatural acts of Bahá’u’lláh, they are
numerous; they are acknowledged in the Orient, and even by some
non-Bahá’ís. But these narratives are not decisive proofs and evidences to
all; the hearer might perhaps say that this account may not be in
accordance with what occurred, for it is known that other sects recount
miracles performed by their founders. For instance, the followers of
Brahmanism relate miracles. From what evidence may we know that those are
false and that these are true? If these are fables, the others also are
fables; if these are generally accepted, so also the others are generally
accepted. Consequently, these accounts are not satisfactory proofs. Yes,
miracles are proofs for the eyewitness only, and even he may regard them
not as a miracle but as an enchantment. Extraordinary feats have also been
related of some conjurors.

Briefly, my meaning is that many wonderful things were done by
Bahá’u’lláh, but we do not recount them, as they do not constitute proofs
and evidences for all the peoples of the earth, and they are not decisive
proofs even for those who see them: they may think that they are merely
enchantments.

Also, most of the miracles of the Prophets which are mentioned have an
inner significance. For instance, in the Gospel it is written that at the
martyrdom of Christ darkness prevailed, and the earth quaked, and the veil
of the Temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the dead
came forth from their graves. If these events had happened, they would
indeed have been awesome, and would certainly have been recorded in the
history of the times. They would have become the cause of much troublings
of heart. Either the soldiers would have taken down Christ from the cross,
or they would have fled. These events are not related in any history;
therefore, it is evident they ought not to be taken literally, but as
having an inner significance.(31)

Our purpose is not to deny such miracles; our only meaning is that they do
not constitute decisive proofs, and that they have an inner significance.

Accordingly, today, at table, we will refer to the explanation of the
traditional proofs which are in the Holy Books. Until now, all that we
have spoken of are rational proofs.

The state in which one should be to seriously search for the truth is the
condition of the thirsty, burning soul desiring the water of life, of the
fish struggling to reach the sea, of the sufferer seeking for the true
doctor to obtain the divine cure, of the lost caravan endeavoring to find
the right road, of the lost and wandering ship striving to reach the shore
of salvation.

Therefore, the seeker must be endowed with certain qualities. First of
all, he must be just and severed from all else save God; his heart must be
entirely turned to the supreme horizon; he must be free from the bondage
of self and passion, for all these are obstacles. Furthermore, he must be
able to endure all hardships. He must be absolutely pure and sanctified,
and free from the love or the hatred of the inhabitants of the world. Why?
because the fact of his love for any person or thing might prevent him
from recognizing the truth in another, and, in the same way, hatred for
anything might be a hindrance in discerning truth. This is the condition
of seeking, and the seeker must have these qualities and attributes. Until
he reaches this condition, it is not possible for him to attain to the Sun
of Reality.

Let us now return to our subject.

All the peoples of the world are awaiting two Manifestations, Who must be
contemporaneous; all wait for the fulfillment of this promise. In the
Bible the Jews have the promise of the Lord of Hosts and the Messiah; in
the Gospel the return of Christ and Elijah is promised.

In the religion of Muḥammad there is the promise of the Mihdí and the
Messiah, and it is the same with the Zoroastrian and the other religions,
but if we relate these matters in detail, it would take too long. The
essential fact is that all are promised two Manifestations, Who will come,
one following on the other. It has been prophesied that in the time of
these two Manifestations the earth will be transformed, the world of
existence will be renewed, and beings will be clothed in new garments.
Justice and truth will encompass the world; enmity and hatred will
disappear; all causes of division among peoples, races and nations will
vanish; and the cause of union, harmony and concord will appear. The
negligent will awake, the blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dumb
will speak, the sick will be cured, the dead will arise. War will give
place to peace, enmity will be conquered by love, the causes of dispute
and wrangling will be entirely removed, and true felicity will be
attained. The world will become the mirror of the Heavenly Kingdom;
humanity will be the Throne of Divinity. All nations will become one; all
religions will be unified; all individual men will become of one family
and of one kindred. All the regions of the earth will become one; the
superstitions caused by races, countries, individuals, languages and
politics will disappear; and all men will attain to life eternal, under
the shadow of the Lord of Hosts.

Now we must prove from the Holy Books that these two Manifestations have
come, and we must divine the meaning of the words of the Prophets, for we
wish for proofs drawn from the Holy Books.

A few days ago, at table, we put forth rational proofs establishing the
truth of these two Manifestations.

To conclude: in the Book of Daniel, from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to
the martyrdom of Christ, seventy weeks are appointed; for by the martyrdom
of Christ the sacrifice is accomplished and the altar destroyed.(32) This
is a prophecy of the manifestation of Christ. These seventy weeks begin
with the restoration and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, concerning which
four edicts were issued by three kings.

The first was issued by Cyrus in the year 536 B.C.; this is recorded in
the first chapter of the Book of Ezra. The second edict, with reference to
the rebuilding of Jerusalem, is that of Darius of Persia in the year 519
B.C.; this is recorded in the sixth chapter of Ezra. The third is that of
Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign—that is, in 457 B.C.; this is
recorded in the seventh chapter of Ezra. The fourth is that of Artaxerxes
in the year 444 B.C.; this is recorded in the second chapter of Nehemiah.

But Daniel refers especially to the third edict which was issued in the
year 457 B.C. Seventy weeks make four hundred and ninety days. Each day,
according to the text of the Holy Book, is a year. For in the Bible it is
said: “The day of the Lord is one year.”(33) Therefore, four hundred and
ninety days are four hundred and ninety years. The third edict of
Artaxerxes was issued four hundred and fifty-seven years before the birth
of Christ, and Christ when He was martyred and ascended was thirty-three
years of age. When you add thirty-three to four hundred and fifty-seven,
the result is four hundred and ninety, which is the time announced by
Daniel for the manifestation of Christ.

But in the twenty-fifth verse of the ninth chapter of the Book of Daniel
this is expressed in another manner, as seven weeks and sixty-two weeks;
and apparently this differs from the first saying. Many have remained
perplexed at these differences, trying to reconcile these two statements.
How can seventy weeks be right in one place, and sixty-two weeks and seven
weeks in another? These two sayings do not accord.

But Daniel mentions two dates. One of these dates begins with the command
of Artaxerxes to Ezra to rebuild Jerusalem: this is the seventy weeks
which came to an end with the ascension of Christ, when by His martyrdom
the sacrifice and oblation ceased.

The second period, which is found in the twenty-sixth verse, means that
after the termination of the rebuilding of Jerusalem until the ascension
of Christ, there will be sixty-two weeks: the seven weeks are the duration
of the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which took forty-nine years. When you add
these seven weeks to the sixty-two weeks, it makes sixty-nine weeks, and
in the last week (69–70) the ascension of Christ took place. These seventy
weeks are thus completed, and there is no contradiction.

Now that the manifestation of Christ has been proved by the prophecies of
Daniel, let us prove the manifestations of Bahá’u’lláh and of the Báb. Up
to the present we have only mentioned rational proofs; now we shall speak
of traditional proofs.

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel, verse thirteen, it is said:
“Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain
saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily
sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary
and the host to be trodden under foot?” Then he answered (v. 14): “Unto
two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be
cleansed”; (v. 17) “But he said unto me ... at the time of the end shall
be the vision.” That is to say, how long will this misfortune, this ruin,
this abasement and degradation last? meaning, when will be the dawn of the
Manifestation? Then he answered, “Two thousand and three hundred days;
then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Briefly, the purport of this
passage is that he appoints two thousand three hundred years, for in the
text of the Bible each day is a year. Then from the date of the issuing of
the edict of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem until the day of the birth of
Christ there are 456 years, and from the birth of Christ until the day of
the manifestation of the Báb there are 1844 years. When you add 456 years
to this number it makes 2300 years. That is to say, the fulfillment of the
vision of Daniel took place in the year A.D. 1844, and this is the year of
the Báb’s manifestation according to the actual text of the Book of
Daniel. Consider how clearly he determines the year of manifestation;
there could be no clearer prophecy for a manifestation than this.

In Matthew, chapter 24, verse 3, Christ clearly says that what Daniel
meant by this prophecy was the date of the manifestation, and this is the
verse: “As He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him
privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be
the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” One of the
explanations He gave them in reply was this (v. 15): “When ye therefore
shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet,
stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand).” In this
answer He referred them to the eighth chapter of the Book of Daniel,
saying that everyone who reads it will understand that it is this time
that is spoken of. Consider how clearly the manifestation of the Báb is
spoken of in the Old Testament and in the Gospel.

To conclude, let us now explain the date of the manifestation of
Bahá’u’lláh from the Bible. The date of Bahá’u’lláh is calculated
according to lunar years from the mission and the Hejira of Muḥammad; for
in the religion of Muḥammad the lunar year is in use, as also it is the
lunar year which is employed concerning all commands of worship.

In Daniel, chapter 12, verse 6, it is said: “And one said to the man
clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, How long shall
it be to the end of these wonders? And I heard the man clothed in linen,
which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and
his left hand unto heaven, and sware by Him that liveth for ever that it
shall be for a time, times, and a half; and that when He shall have
accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things
shall be finished.”(34)

As I have already explained the signification of one day, it is not
necessary to explain it further; but we will say briefly that each day of
the Father counts as a year, and in each year there are twelve months.
Thus three years and a half make forty-two months, and forty-two months
are twelve hundred and sixty days. The Báb, the precursor of Bahá’u’lláh,
appeared in the year 1260 from the Hejira of Muḥammad, by the reckoning of
Islám.

Afterward, in verse 11, it is said: “And from the time that the daily
sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolation
be set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed
is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and
thirty days.”(35)

The beginning of this lunar reckoning is from the day of the proclamation
of the prophethood of Muḥammad in the country of Ḥijáz; and that was three
years after His mission, because in the beginning the prophethood of
Muḥammad was kept secret, and no one knew it save _Kh_adíjah and Ibn
Nawfal.(36) After three years it was announced. And Bahá’u’lláh, in the
year 1290 from the proclamation of the mission of Muḥammad, caused His
manifestation to be known.(37)



11: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN


In the beginning of the eleventh chapter of the Revelation of St. John it
is said:

“And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood,
saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that
worship therein.

“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not;
for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread
under foot forty and two months.”

This reed is a Perfect Man Who is likened to a reed, and the manner of its
likeness is this: when the interior of a reed is empty and free from all
matter, it will produce beautiful melodies; and as the sound and melodies
do not come from the reed, but from the flute player who blows upon it, so
the sanctified heart of that blessed Being is free and emptied from all
save God, pure and exempt from the attachments of all human conditions,
and is the companion of the Divine Spirit. Whatever He utters is not from
Himself, but from the real flute player, and it is a divine inspiration.
That is why He is likened to a reed; and that reed is like a rod—that is
to say, it is the helper of every impotent one, and the support of human
beings. It is the rod of the Divine Shepherd by which He guards His flock
and leads them about the pastures of the Kingdom.

Then it is said: “The angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of
God, and the altar, and them that worship therein”—that is to say, compare
and measure: measuring is the discovery of proportion. Thus the angel
said: compare the temple of God and the altar and them that are praying
therein—that is to say, investigate what is their true condition and
discover in what degree and state they are, and what conditions,
perfections, behavior and attributes they possess; and make yourself
cognizant of the mysteries of those holy souls who dwell in the Holy of
Holies in purity and sanctity.

“But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not;
for it is given unto the Gentiles.”

In the beginning of the seventh century after Christ, when Jerusalem was
conquered, the Holy of Holies was outwardly preserved—that is to say, the
house which Solomon built; but outside the Holy of Holies the outer court
was taken and given to the Gentiles. “And the holy city shall they tread
under foot forty and two months”—that is to say, the Gentiles shall govern
and control Jerusalem forty and two months, signifying twelve hundred and
sixty days; and as each day signifies a year, by this reckoning it becomes
twelve hundred and sixty years, which is the duration of the cycle of the
Qur’án. For in the texts of the Holy Book, each day is a year; as it is
said in the fourth chapter of Ezekiel, verse 6: “Thou shalt bear the
iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day
for a year.”

This prophesies the duration of the Dispensation of Islám when Jerusalem
was trodden under foot, which means that it lost its glory—but the Holy of
Holies was preserved, guarded and respected—until the year 1260. This
twelve hundred and sixty years is a prophecy of the manifestation of the
Báb, the “Gate” of Bahá’u’lláh, which took place in the year 1260 of the
Hejira of Muḥammad, and as the period of twelve hundred and sixty years
has expired, Jerusalem, the Holy City, is now beginning to become
prosperous, populous and flourishing. Anyone who saw Jerusalem sixty years
ago, and who sees it now, will recognize how populous and flourishing it
has become, and how it is again honored.

This is the outward meaning of these verses of the Revelation of St. John;
but they have another explanation and a symbolic sense, which is as
follows: the Law of God is divided into two parts. One is the fundamental
basis which comprises all spiritual things—that is to say, it refers to
the spiritual virtues and divine qualities; this does not change nor
alter: it is the Holy of Holies, which is the essence of the Law of Adam,
Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muḥammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh, and
which lasts and is established in all the prophetic cycles. It will never
be abrogated, for it is spiritual and not material truth; it is faith,
knowledge, certitude, justice, piety, righteousness, trustworthiness, love
of God, benevolence, purity, detachment, humility, meekness, patience and
constancy. It shows mercy to the poor, defends the oppressed, gives to the
wretched and uplifts the fallen.

These divine qualities, these eternal commandments, will never be
abolished; nay, they will last and remain established for ever and ever.
These virtues of humanity will be renewed in each of the different cycles;
for at the end of every cycle the spiritual Law of God—that is to say, the
human virtues—disappears, and only the form subsists.

Thus among the Jews, at the end of the cycle of Moses, which coincides
with the Christian manifestation, the Law of God disappeared, only a form
without spirit remaining. The Holy of Holies departed from among them, but
the outer court of Jerusalem—which is the expression used for the form of
the religion—fell into the hands of the Gentiles. In the same way, the
fundamental principles of the religion of Christ, which are the greatest
virtues of humanity, have disappeared; and its form has remained in the
hands of the clergy and the priests. Likewise, the foundation of the
religion of Muḥammad has disappeared, but its form remains in the hands of
the official ‘ulamá.

These foundations of the Religion of God, which are spiritual and which
are the virtues of humanity, cannot be abrogated; they are irremovable and
eternal, and are renewed in the cycle of every Prophet.

The second part of the Religion of God, which refers to the material
world, and which comprises fasting, prayer, forms of worship, marriage and
divorce, the abolition of slavery, legal processes, transactions,
indemnities for murder, violence, theft and injuries—this part of the Law
of God, which refers to material things, is modified and altered in each
prophetic cycle in accordance with the necessities of the times.

Briefly, what is meant by the term Holy of Holies is that spiritual Law
which will never be modified, altered or abrogated; and the Holy City
means the material Law which may be abrogated; and this material Law,
which is described as the Holy City, was to be trodden under foot for
twelve hundred and sixty years.

“And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a
thousand two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth.”(38)
These two witnesses are Muḥammad the Messenger of God, and ‘Alí, son of
Abú Tálib.

In the Qur’án it is said that God addressed Muḥammad, the Messenger of
God, saying: “We made You a Witness, a Herald of good news, and a
Warner”—that is to say, We have established Thee as the witness, the giver
of good tidings, and as One bringing the wrath of God.(39) The meaning of
“a witness” is one by whose testimony things may be verified. The commands
of these two witnesses were to be performed for twelve hundred and sixty
days, each day signifying a year. Now, Muḥammad was the root, and ‘Alí the
branch, like Moses and Joshua. It is said they “are clothed in sackcloth,”
meaning that they, apparently, were to be clothed in old raiment, not in
new raiment; in other words, in the beginning they would possess no
splendor in the eyes of the people, nor would their Cause appear new; for
Muḥammad’s spiritual Law corresponds to that of Christ in the Gospel, and
most of His laws relating to material things correspond to those of the
Pentateuch. This is the meaning of the old raiment.

Then it is said: “These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks
standing before the God of the earth.”(40) These two souls are likened to
olive trees because at that time all lamps were lighted by olive oil. The
meaning is two persons from whom that spirit of the wisdom of God, which
is the cause of the illumination of the world, appears. These lights of
God were to radiate and shine; therefore, they are likened to two
candlesticks: the candlestick is the abode of the light, and from it the
light shines forth. In the same way the light of guidance would shine and
radiate from these illumined souls.

Then it is said: “They are standing before God,” meaning that they are
standing in the service of God, and educating the creatures of God, such
as the barbarous nomad Arab tribes of the Arabian peninsula, whom they
educated in such a way that in those days they reached the highest degree
of civilization, and their fame and renown became worldwide.

“And if any man would hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and
devoureth their enemies.”(41) That is to say, that no one would be able to
withstand them, that if a person wished to belittle their teachings and
their law, he would be surrounded and exterminated by this same law which
proceedeth out of their mouth; and everyone who attempted to injure, to
antagonize and to hate them would be destroyed by a command which would
come out of their mouth. And thus it happened: all their enemies were
vanquished, put to flight and annihilated. In this most evident way God
assisted them.

Afterward it is said: “These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not
in the days of their prophecy,”(42) meaning that in that cycle they would
be like kings. The law and teachings of Muḥammad, and the explanations and
commentaries of ‘Alí, are a heavenly bounty; if they wish to give this
bounty, they have power to do so. If they do not wish it, the rain will
not fall: in this connection rain stands for bounty.

Then it is said: “They have power over water to turn it to blood,”(43)
meaning that the prophethood of Muḥammad was the same as that of Moses,
and that the power of ‘Alí was the same as that of Joshua: if they wished,
they could turn the water of the Nile into blood, so far as the Egyptians
and those who denied them were concerned—that is to say, that that which
was the cause of their life, through their ignorance and pride, became the
cause of their death. So the kingdom, wealth and power of Pharaoh and his
people, which were the causes of the life of the nation, became, through
their opposition, denial and pride, the cause of death, destruction,
dispersion, degradation and poverty. Hence these two witnesses have power
to destroy the nations.

Then it is said: “And smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they
will,”(44) meaning that they also would have the power and the material
force necessary to educate the wicked and those who are oppressors and
tyrants, for to these two witnesses God granted both outward and inward
power, that they might educate and correct the ferocious, bloodthirsty,
tyrannical nomad Arabs, who were like beasts of prey.

“And when they shall have finished their testimony”(45) means when they
should have performed that which they are commanded, and should have
delivered the divine message, promoting the Law of God and propagating the
heavenly teachings, to the intent that the signs of spiritual life might
be manifest in souls, and the light of the virtues of the world of
humanity might shine forth, until complete development should be brought
about among the nomad tribes.

“The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall war against
them, and shall overcome them, and kill them”:(46) this beast means the
Umayyads who attacked them from the pit of error, and who rose against the
religion of Muḥammad and against the reality of ‘Alí—in other words, the
love of God.

It is said, “The beast made war against these two witnesses”(47)—that is
to say, a spiritual war, meaning that the beast would act in entire
opposition to the teachings, customs and institutions of these two
witnesses, to such an extent that the virtues and perfections which were
diffused by the power of those two witnesses among the peoples and tribes
would be entirely dispelled, and the animal nature and carnal desires
would conquer. Therefore, this beast making war against them would gain
the victory—meaning that the darkness of error coming from this beast was
to have ascendency over the horizons of the world, and kill those two
witnesses—in other words, that it would destroy the spiritual life which
they spread abroad in the midst of the nation, and entirely remove the
divine laws and teachings, treading under foot the Religion of God.
Nothing would thereafter remain but a lifeless body without spirit.

“And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which
spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was
crucified.”(48) “Their bodies” means the Religion of God, and “the street”
means in public view. The meaning of “Sodom and Egypt,” the place “where
also our Lord was crucified,” is this region of Syria, and especially
Jerusalem, where the Umayyads then had their dominions; and it was here
that the Religion of God and the divine teachings first disappeared, and a
body without spirit remained. “Their bodies” represents the Religion of
God, which remained like a dead body without spirit.

“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see
their dead bodies three days and a half, and shall not suffer their dead
bodies to be put in graves.”(49)

As it was before explained, in the terminology of the Holy Books three
days and a half signify three years and a half, and three years and a half
are forty and two months, and forty and two months twelve hundred and
sixty days; and as each day by the text of the Holy Book signifies one
year, the meaning is that for twelve hundred and sixty years, which is the
cycle of the Qur’án, the nations, tribes and peoples would look at their
bodies—that is to say, that they would make a spectacle of the Religion of
God: though they would not act in accordance with it, still, they would
not suffer their bodies—meaning the Religion of God—to be put in the
grave. That is to say, that in appearance they would cling to the Religion
of God and not allow it to completely disappear from their midst, nor the
body of it to be entirely destroyed and annihilated. Nay, in reality they
would leave it, while outwardly preserving its name and remembrance.

Those “kindreds, people and nations” signify those who are gathered under
the shadow of the Qur’án, not permitting the Cause and Law of God to be,
in outward appearance, entirely destroyed and annihilated—for there are
prayer and fasting among them—but the fundamental principles of the
Religion of God, which are morals and conduct, with the knowledge of
divine mysteries, have disappeared; the light of the virtues of the world
of humanity, which is the result of the love and knowledge of God, is
extinguished; and the darkness of tyranny, oppression, satanic passions
and desires has become victorious. The body of the Law of God, like a
corpse, has been exposed to public view for twelve hundred and sixty days,
each day being counted as a year, and this period is the cycle of
Muḥammad.

The people forfeited all that these two persons had established, which was
the foundation of the Law of God, and destroyed the virtues of the world
of humanity, which are the divine gifts and the spirit of this religion,
to such a degree that truthfulness, justice, love, union, purity,
sanctity, detachment and all the divine qualities departed from among
them. In the religion only prayers and fasting persisted; this condition
lasted for twelve hundred and sixty years, which is the duration of the
cycle of the Furqán.(50) It was as if these two persons were dead, and
their bodies were remaining without spirit.

“And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make
merry, and shall send gifts to one another, because these two prophets
tormented them that dwelt on the earth.”(51) “Those who dwelt upon the
earth” means the other nations and races, such as the peoples of Europe
and distant Asia, who, when they saw that the character of Islám was
entirely changed, the Law of God forsaken—that virtues, zeal and honor had
departed from among them, and that their qualities were changed—became
happy, and rejoiced that corruption of morals had infected the people of
Islám, and that they would in consequence be overcome by other nations. So
this thing has come to pass. Witness this people which had attained the
summit of power, how degraded and downtrodden it is now.

The other nations “shall send gifts to one another,” meaning that they
should help each other, for “these two prophets tormented them that dwelt
upon the earth”—that is, they overcame the other nations and peoples of
the world and conquered them.

“And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into
them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them that
saw them.”(52) Three days and a half, as we before explained, is twelve
hundred and sixty years. Those two persons whose bodies were lying
spiritless are the teachings and the law that Muḥammad established and
‘Alí promoted, from which, however, the reality had departed and only the
form remained. The spirit came again into them means that those
foundations and teachings were again established. In other words, the
spirituality of the Religion of God had been changed into materiality, and
virtues into vices; the love of God had been changed into hatred,
enlightenment into darkness, divine qualities into satanic ones, justice
into tyranny, mercy into enmity, sincerity into hypocrisy, guidance into
error, and purity into sensuality. Then after three days and a half, which
by the terminology of the Holy Books is twelve hundred and sixty years,
these divine teachings, heavenly virtues, perfections and spiritual
bounties were again renewed by the appearance of the Báb and the devotion
of Jináb-i-Quddús.(53)

The holy breezes were diffused, the light of truth shone forth, the season
of the life-giving spring came, and the morn of guidance dawned. These two
lifeless bodies again became living, and these two great ones—one the
Founder and the other the promoter—arose and were like two candlesticks,
for they illumined the world with the light of truth.

“And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up
hither. And they ascended up to heaven,”(54) meaning that from the
invisible heaven they heard the voice of God, saying: You have performed
all that was proper and fitting in delivering the teachings and glad
tidings; you have given My message to the people and raised the call of
God, and have accomplished your duty. Now, like Christ, you must sacrifice
your life for the Well-Beloved, and be martyrs. And that Sun of Reality,
and that Moon of Guidance,(55) both, like Christ, set on the horizon of
the greatest martyrdom and ascended to the Kingdom of God.

“And their enemies beheld them,”(56) meaning that many of their enemies,
after witnessing their martyrdom, realized the sublimity of their station
and the exaltation of their virtue, and testified to their greatness and
perfection.

“And the same hour there was a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the
city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand.”(57)

This earthquake occurred in _Sh_íráz after the martyrdom of the Báb. The
city was in a turmoil, and many people were destroyed. Great agitation
also took place through diseases, cholera, dearth, scarcity, famine and
afflictions, the like of which had never been known.

“And the remnant was affrighted and gave glory to the God of heaven.”(58)

When the earthquake took place in Fárs, all the remnant lamented and cried
day and night, and were occupied in glorifying and praying to God. They
were so troubled and affrighted that they had no sleep nor rest at night.

“The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.”(59)
The first woe is the appearance of the Prophet, Muḥammad, the son of
‘Abdu’lláh—peace be upon Him! The second woe is that of the Báb—to Him be
glory and praise! The third woe is the great day of the manifestation of
the Lord of Hosts and the radiance of the Beauty of the Promised One. The
explanation of this subject, woe, is mentioned in the thirtieth chapter of
Ezekiel, where it is said: “The word of the Lord came again unto me,
saying, Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Howl ye,
Woe worth the day! For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is
near.”(60)

Therefore, it is certain that the day of woe is the day of the Lord; for
in that day woe is for the neglectful, woe is for the sinners, woe is for
the ignorant. That is why it is said, “The second woe is past; behold the
third woe cometh quickly!” This third woe is the day of the manifestation
of Bahá’u’lláh, the day of God; and it is near to the day of the
appearance of the Báb.

“And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord,
and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.”(61)

The seventh angel is a man qualified with heavenly attributes, who will
arise with heavenly qualities and character. Voices will be raised, so
that the appearance of the Divine Manifestation will be proclaimed and
diffused. In the day of the manifestation of the Lord of Hosts, and at the
epoch of the divine cycle of the Omnipotent which is promised and
mentioned in all the books and writings of the Prophets—in that day of
God, the Spiritual and Divine Kingdom will be established, and the world
will be renewed; a new spirit will be breathed into the body of creation;
the season of the divine spring will come; the clouds of mercy will rain;
the sun of reality will shine; the life-giving breeze will blow; the world
of humanity will wear a new garment; the surface of the earth will be a
sublime paradise; mankind will be educated; wars, disputes, quarrels and
malignity will disappear; and truthfulness, righteousness, peace and the
worship of God will appear; union, love and brotherhood will surround the
world; and God will rule for evermore—meaning that the Spiritual and
Everlasting Kingdom will be established. Such is the day of God. For all
the days which have come and gone were the days of Abraham, Moses and
Christ, or of the other Prophets; but this day is the day of God, for the
Sun of Reality will arise in it with the utmost warmth and splendor.

“And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell
upon their faces, and worshipped God.

“Saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, Which art, and wast,
and art to come; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast
reigned.”(62) In each cycle the guardians and holy souls have been twelve.
So Jacob had twelve sons; in the time of Moses there were twelve heads or
chiefs of the tribes; in the time of Christ there were twelve Apostles;
and in the time of Muḥammad there were twelve Imáms. But in this glorious
manifestation there are twenty-four, double the number of all the others,
for the greatness of this manifestation requires it. These holy souls are
in the presence of God seated on their own thrones, meaning that they
reign eternally.

These twenty-four great persons, though they are seated on the thrones of
everlasting rule, yet are worshipers of the appearance of the universal
Manifestation, and they are humble and submissive, saying, “We give thanks
to Thee, O Lord God Almighty, Which art, and wast, and art to come,
because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power and hast reigned”—that is
to say, Thou wilt issue all Thy teachings, Thou wilt gather all the people
of the earth under Thy shadow, and Thou wilt bring all men under the
shadow of one tent. Although it is the Eternal Kingdom of God, and He
always had, and has, a Kingdom, the Kingdom here means the manifestation
of Himself;(63) and He will issue all the laws and teachings which are the
spirit of the world of humanity and everlasting life. And that universal
Manifestation will subdue the world by spiritual power, not by war and
combat; He will do it with peace and tranquillity, not by the sword and
arms; He will establish this Heavenly Kingdom by true love, and not by the
power of war. He will promote these divine teachings by kindness and
righteousness, and not by weapons and harshness. He will so educate the
nations and people that, notwithstanding their various conditions, their
different customs and characters, and their diverse religions and races,
they will, as it is said in the Bible, like the wolf and the lamb, the
leopard, the kid, the sucking child and the serpent, become comrades,
friends and companions. The contentions of races, the differences of
religions, and the barriers between nations will be completely removed,
and all will attain perfect union and reconciliation under the shadow of
the Blessed Tree.

“And the nations were angry,” for Thy teachings opposed the passions of
the other peoples; “and Thy wrath is come”(64)—that is to say, all will be
afflicted by evident loss; because they do not follow Thy precepts,
counsels and teachings, they will be deprived of Thy everlasting bounty,
and veiled from the light of the Sun of Reality.

“And the time of the dead, that they should be judged” means that the time
has come that the dead(65)—that is to say, those who are deprived of the
spirit of the love of God and have not a share of the sanctified eternal
life—will be judged with justice, meaning they will arise to receive that
which they deserve. He will make the reality of their secrets evident,
showing what a low degree they occupy in the world of existence, and that
in reality they are under the rule of death.

“That Thou shouldst give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and the
saints, and them that fear Thy name, small and great”(66)—that is to say,
He will distinguish the righteous by endless bounty, making them shine on
the horizon of eternal honor, like the stars of heaven. He will assist
them by endowing them with behavior and actions which are the light of the
world of humanity, the cause of guidance, and the means of everlasting
life in the Divine Kingdom.

“And shouldst destroy them which destroy the earth”(67) means that He will
entirely deprive the neglectful; for the blindness of the blind will be
manifest, and the vision of the seers will be evident; the ignorance and
want of knowledge of the people of error will be recognized, and the
knowledge and wisdom of the people under guidance will be apparent;
consequently, the destroyers will be destroyed.

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven”(68) means that the divine
Jerusalem is found, and the Holy of Holies has become visible. The Holy of
Holies, according to the terminology of the people of wisdom, is the
essence of the Divine Law, and the heavenly and true teachings of the
Lord, which have not been changed in the cycle of any Prophet, as it was
before explained. The sanctuary of Jerusalem is likened to the reality of
the Law of God, which is the Holy of Holies; and all the laws,
conventions, rites and material regulations are the city of Jerusalem—this
is why it is called the heavenly Jerusalem. Briefly, as in this cycle the
Sun of Reality will make the light of God shine with the utmost splendor,
therefore, the essence of the teachings of God will be realized in the
world of existence, and the darkness of ignorance and want of knowledge
will be dispelled. The world will become a new world, and enlightenment
will prevail. So the Holy of Holies will appear.

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven”(69) means also that by the
diffusion of the divine teachings, the appearance of these heavenly
mysteries, and the rising of the Sun of Reality, the doors of success and
prosperity will be opened in all directions, and the signs of goodness and
heavenly benedictions will be made plain.

“And there was seen in His temple the ark of His Testament”(70)—that is to
say, the Book of His Testament will appear in His Jerusalem, the Epistle
of the Covenant(71) will be established, and the meaning of the Testament
and of the Covenant will become evident. The renown of God will overspread
the East and West, and the proclamation of the Cause of God will fill the
world. The violators of the Covenant will be degraded and dispersed, and
the faithful cherished and glorified, for they cling to the Book of the
Testament and are firm and steadfast in the Covenant.

“And there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an
earthquake, and great hail,”(72) meaning that after the appearance of the
Book of the Testament there will be a great storm, and the lightnings of
the anger and the wrath of God will flash, the noise of the thunder of the
violation of the Covenant will resound, the earthquake of doubts will take
place, the hail of torments will beat upon the violators of the Covenant,
and even those who profess belief will fall into trials and temptations.



12: COMMENTARY ON THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER OF ISAIAH


In Isaiah, chapter 11, verses 1 to 10, it is said: “And there shall come
forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his
roots: And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of
wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of
knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; And shall make him of quick
understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the
sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with
righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the
meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And
righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the
girdle of his reins. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the
leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and
the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and
the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the
lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the
hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the
cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain:
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters
cover the sea.”

This rod out of the stem of Jesse might be correctly applied to Christ,
for Joseph was of the descendants of Jesse, the father of David; but as
Christ found existence through the Spirit of God, He called Himself the
Son of God. If He had not done so, this description would refer to Him.
Besides this, the events which he indicated as coming to pass in the days
of that rod, if interpreted symbolically, were in part fulfilled in the
day of Christ, but not all; and if not interpreted, then decidedly none of
these signs happened. For example, the leopard and the lamb, the lion and
the calf, the child and the asp, are metaphors and symbols for various
nations, peoples, antagonistic sects and hostile races, who are as
opposite and inimical as the wolf and lamb. We say that by the breath of
the spirit of Christ they found concord and harmony, they were vivified,
and they associated together.

But “they shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain: for the
earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the
sea.” These conditions did not prevail in the time of the manifestation of
Christ; for until today various and antagonistic nations exist in the
world: very few acknowledge the God of Israel, and the greater number are
without the knowledge of God. In the same way, universal peace did not
come into existence in the time of Christ—that is to say, between the
antagonistic and hostile nations there was neither peace nor concord,
disputes and disagreements did not cease, and reconciliation and sincerity
did not appear. So, even at this day, among the Christian sects and
nations themselves, enmity, hatred and the most violent hostility are met
with.

But these verses apply word for word to Bahá’u’lláh. Likewise in this
marvelous cycle the earth will be transformed, and the world of humanity
arrayed in tranquillity and beauty. Disputes, quarrels and murders will be
replaced by peace, truth and concord; among the nations, peoples, races
and countries, love and amity will appear. Cooperation and union will be
established, and finally war will be entirely suppressed. When the laws of
the Most Holy Book are enforced, contentions and disputes will find a
final sentence of absolute justice before a general tribunal of the
nations and kingdoms, and the difficulties that appear will be solved. The
five continents of the world will form but one, the numerous nations will
become one, the surface of the earth will become one land, and mankind
will be a single community. The relations between the countries—the
mingling, union and friendship of the peoples and communities—will reach
to such a degree that the human race will be like one family and kindred.
The light of heavenly love will shine, and the darkness of enmity and
hatred will be dispelled from the world. Universal peace will raise its
tent in the center of the earth, and the blessed Tree of Life will grow
and spread to such an extent that it will overshadow the East and the
West. Strong and weak, rich and poor, antagonistic sects and hostile
nations—which are like the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and kid, the
lion and the calf—will act toward each other with the most complete love,
friendship, justice and equity. The world will be filled with science,
with the knowledge of the reality of the mysteries of beings, and with the
knowledge of God.

Now consider, in this great century which is the cycle of Bahá’u’lláh,
what progress science and knowledge have made, how many secrets of
existence have been discovered, how many great inventions have been
brought to light and are day by day multiplying in number. Before long,
material science and learning, as well as the knowledge of God, will make
such progress and will show forth such wonders that the beholders will be
amazed. Then the mystery of this verse in Isaiah, “For the earth shall be
full of the knowledge of the Lord,” will be completely evident.

Reflect also that in the short time since Bahá’u’lláh has appeared, people
from all countries, nations and races have entered under the shadow of
this Cause. Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus and Persians
all associate together with the greatest friendship and love, as if indeed
these people had been related and connected together, they and theirs, for
a thousand years; for they are like father and child, mother and daughter,
sister and brother. This is one of the meanings of the companionship of
the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, and the lion and the calf.

One of the great events which is to occur in the Day of the manifestation
of that Incomparable Branch (Bahá’u’lláh) is the hoisting of the Standard
of God among all nations. By this is meant that all nations and kindreds
will be gathered together under the shadow of this Divine Banner, which is
no other than the Lordly Branch itself, and will become a single nation.
Religious and sectarian antagonism, the hostility of races and peoples,
and differences among nations, will be eliminated. All men will adhere to
one religion, will have one common faith, will be blended into one race,
and become a single people. All will dwell in one common fatherland, which
is the planet itself. Universal peace and concord will be realized between
all the nations, and that Incomparable Branch will gather together all
Israel, signifying that in this cycle Israel will be gathered in the Holy
Land, and that the Jewish people who are scattered to the East and West,
South and North, will be assembled together.

Now see: these events did not take place in the Christian cycle, for the
nations did not come under the One Standard which is the Divine Branch.
But in this cycle of the Lord of Hosts all the nations and peoples will
enter under the shadow of this Flag. In the same way, Israel, scattered
all over the world, was not reassembled in the Holy Land in the Christian
cycle; but in the beginning of the cycle of Bahá’u’lláh this divine
promise, as is clearly stated in all the Books of the Prophets, has begun
to be manifest. You can see that from all the parts of the world tribes of
Jews are coming to the Holy Land; they live in villages and lands which
they make their own, and day by day they are increasing to such an extent
that all Palestine will become their home.



13: COMMENTARY ON THE TWELFTH CHAPTER OF THE REVELATION OF ST. JOHN


We have before explained that what is most frequently meant by the Holy
City, the Jerusalem of God, which is mentioned in the Holy Book, is the
Law of God. It is compared sometimes to a bride, and sometimes to
Jerusalem, and again to the new heaven and earth. So in chapter 21, verses
1, 2 and 3 of the Revelation of St. John, it is said: “And I saw a new
heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were
passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new
Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned
for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold,
the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they
shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their
God.”

Notice how clear and evident it is that the first heaven and earth signify
the former Law. For it is said that the first heaven and earth have passed
away and there is no more sea—that is to say, that the earth is the place
of judgment, and on this earth of judgment there is no sea, meaning that
the teachings and the Law of God will entirely spread over the earth, and
all men will enter the Cause of God, and the earth will be completely
inhabited by believers; therefore, there will be no more sea, for the
dwelling place and abode of man is the dry land. In other words, at that
epoch the field of that Law will become the pleasure-ground of man. Such
earth is solid; the feet do not slip upon it.

The Law of God is also described as the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. It
is evident that the New Jerusalem which descends from heaven is not a city
of stone, mortar, bricks, earth and wood. It is the Law of God which
descends from heaven and is called new, for it is clear that the Jerusalem
which is of stone and earth does not descend from heaven, and that it is
not renewed; but that which is renewed is the Law of God.

The Law of God is also compared to an adorned bride who appears with most
beautiful ornaments, as it has been said in chapter 21 of the Revelation
of St. John: “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down
from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”(73)
And in chapter 12, verse 1, it is said: “And there appeared a great wonder
in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and
upon her head a crown of twelve stars.” This woman is that bride, the Law
of God that descended upon Muḥammad. The sun with which she was clothed,
and the moon which was under her feet, are the two nations which are under
the shadow of that Law, the Persian and Ottoman kingdoms; for the emblem
of Persia is the sun, and that of the Ottoman Empire is the crescent moon.
Thus the sun and moon are the emblems of two kingdoms which are under the
power of the Law of God. Afterward it is said: “upon her head is a crown
of twelve stars.” These twelve stars are the twelve Imáms, who were the
promoters of the Law of Muḥammad and the educators of the people, shining
like stars in the heaven of guidance.

Then it is said in the second verse: “and she being with child cried,”
meaning that this Law fell into the greatest difficulties and endured
great troubles and afflictions until a perfect offspring was produced—that
is, the coming Manifestation, the Promised One, Who is the perfect
offspring, and Who was reared in the bosom of this Law, which is as its
mother. The child Who is referred to is the Báb, the Primal Point, Who was
in truth born from the Law of Muḥammad—that is to say, the Holy Reality,
Who is the child and outcome of the Law of God, His mother, and Who is
promised by that religion, finds a reality in the kingdom of that Law; but
because of the despotism of the dragon the child was carried up to God.
After twelve hundred and sixty days the dragon was destroyed, and the
child of the Law of God, the Promised One, became manifest.

Verses 3 and 4. “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; and behold a
great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon
his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and
did cast them to the earth.”(74) These signs are an allusion to the
dynasty of the Umayyads who dominated the Muḥammadan religion. Seven heads
and seven crowns mean seven countries and dominions over which the
Umayyads had power: they were the Roman dominion around Damascus; and the
Persian, Arabian and Egyptian dominions, together with the dominion of
Africa—that is to say, Tunis, Morocco and Algeria; the dominion of
Andalusia, which is now Spain; and the dominion of the Turks of
Transoxania. The Umayyads had power over these countries. The ten horns
mean the names of the Umayyad rulers—that is, without repetition, there
were ten names of rulers, meaning ten names of commanders and chiefs—the
first is Abú Súfyán and the last Marván—but several of them bear the same
name. So there are two Muáviyá, three Yazíd, two Valíd, and two Marván;
but if the names were counted without repetition there would be ten. The
Umayyads, of whom the first was Abú Súfyán, Amír of Mecca and chief of the
dynasty of the Umayyads, and the last was Marván, destroyed the third part
of the holy and saintly people of the lineage of Muḥammad who were like
the stars of heaven.

Verse 4. “And the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be
delivered, for to devour the child as soon as it was born.”(75) As we have
before explained, this woman is the Law of God. The dragon was standing
near the woman to devour her child, and this child was the promised
Manifestation, the offspring of the Law of Muḥammad. The Umayyads were
always waiting to get possession of the Promised One, Who was to come from
the line of Muḥammad, to destroy and annihilate Him; for they much feared
the appearance of the promised Manifestation, and they sought to kill any
of Muḥammad’s descendants who might be highly esteemed.

Verse 5. “And she brought forth a man child, Who was to rule all nations
with a rod of iron.” This great son is the promised Manifestation Who was
born of the Law of God and reared in the bosom of the divine teachings.
The iron rod is a symbol of power and might—it is not a sword—and means
that with divine power and might He will shepherd all the nations of the
earth. This son is the Báb.

Verse 5. “And her child was caught up unto God, and to His throne.” This
is a prophecy of the Báb, Who ascended to the heavenly realm, to the
Throne of God, and to the center of His Kingdom. Consider how all this
corresponds to what happened.

Verse 6. “And the woman fled into the wilderness”—that is to say, the Law
of God fled to the wilderness, meaning the vast desert of Ḥijáz, and the
Arabian Peninsula.

Verse 6. “Where she had a place prepared of God.”(76) The Arabian
Peninsula became the abode and dwelling place, and the center of the Law
of God.

Verse 6. “That they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and
threescore days.” In the terminology of the Holy Book these twelve hundred
and sixty days mean the twelve hundred and sixty years that the Law of God
was set up in the wilderness of Arabia, the great desert: from it the
Promised One has come. After twelve hundred and sixty years that Law will
have no more influence, for the fruit of that tree will have appeared, and
the result will have been produced.

Consider how the prophecies correspond to one another. In the Apocalypse,
the appearance of the Promised One is appointed after forty-two months,
and Daniel expresses it as three times and a half, which is also forty-two
months, which are twelve hundred and sixty days. In another passage of
John’s Revelation it is clearly spoken of as twelve hundred and sixty
days, and in the Holy Book it is said that each day signifies one year.
Nothing could be clearer than this agreement of the prophecies with one
another. The Báb appeared in the year 1260 of the Hejira of Muḥammad,
which is the beginning of the universal era-reckoning of all Islám. There
are no clearer proofs than this in the Holy Books for any Manifestation.
For him who is just, the agreement of the times indicated by the tongues
of the Great Ones is the most conclusive proof. There is no other possible
explanation of these prophecies. Blessed are the just souls who seek the
truth. But failing justice, the people attack, dispute and openly deny the
evidence, like the Pharisees who, at the manifestation of Christ, denied
with the greatest obstinacy the explanations of Christ and of His
disciples. They obscured Christ’s Cause before the ignorant people,
saying, “These prophecies are not of Jesus, but of the Promised One Who
shall come later, according to the conditions mentioned in the Bible.”
Some of these conditions were that He must have a kingdom, be seated on
the throne of David, enforce the Law of the Bible, and manifest such
justice that the wolf and the lamb shall gather at the same spring.

And thus they prevented the people from knowing Christ.

Note.—In these last conversations ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wishes to reconcile in a
new interpretation the apocalyptic prophecies of the Jews, the Christians
and the Muslims, rather than to show their supernatural character. On the
powers of the Prophets, cf. “The Knowledge of the Divine Manifestations,”
p. 157; and “Visions and Communication with Spirits,” p. 251.



14: SPIRITUAL PROOFS


In this material world time has cycles; places change through alternating
seasons, and for souls there are progress, retrogression and education.

At one time it is the season of spring; at another it is the season of
autumn; and again it is the season of summer or the season of winter.

In the spring there are the clouds which send down the precious rain, the
musk-scented breezes and life-giving zephyrs; the air is perfectly
temperate, the rain falls, the sun shines, the fecundating wind wafts the
clouds, the world is renewed, and the breath of life appears in plants, in
animals and in men. Earthly beings pass from one condition to another. All
things are clothed in new garments, and the black earth is covered with
herbage; mountains and plains are adorned with verdure; trees bear leaves
and blossoms; gardens bring forth flowers and fragrant herbs. The world
becomes another world, and it attains to a life-giving spirit. The earth
was a lifeless body; it finds a new spirit, and produces endless beauty,
grace and freshness. Thus the spring is the cause of new life and infuses
a new spirit.

Afterward comes the summer, when the heat increases, and growth and
development attain their greatest power. The energy of life in the
vegetable kingdom reaches to the degree of perfection, the fruit appears,
and the time of harvest ripens; a seed has become a sheaf, and the food is
stored for winter. Afterward comes tumultuous autumn when unwholesome and
sterile winds blow; it is the season of sickness, when all things are
withered, and the balmy air is vitiated. The breezes of spring are changed
to autumn winds; the fertile green trees have become withered and bare;
flowers and fragrant herbs fade away; the beautiful garden becomes a
dustheap. Following this comes the season of winter, with cold and
tempests. It snows, rains, hails, storms, thunders and lightens, freezes
and congeals; all plants die, and animals languish and are wretched.

When this state is reached, again a new life-giving spring returns, and
the cycle is renewed. The season of spring with its hosts of freshness and
beauty spreads its tent on the plains and mountains with great pomp and
magnificence. A second time the form of the creatures is renewed, and the
creation of beings begins afresh; bodies grow and develop, the plains and
wildernesses become green and fertile, trees bring forth blossoms, and the
spring of last year returns in the utmost fullness and glory. Such is, and
such ought to be, the cycle and succession of existence. Such is the cycle
and revolution of the material world.

It is the same with the spiritual cycles of the Prophets—that is to say,
the day of the appearance of the Holy Manifestations is the spiritual
springtime; it is the divine splendor; it is the heavenly bounty, the
breeze of life, the rising of the Sun of Reality. Spirits are quickened;
hearts are refreshed and invigorated; souls become good; existence is set
in motion; human realities are gladdened, and grow and develop in good
qualities and perfections. General progress is achieved and revival takes
place, for it is the day of resurrection, the time of excitement and
ferment, and the season of bliss, of joy and of intense rapture.

Afterward the life-giving spring ends in fruitful summer. The word of God
is exalted, the Law of God is promulgated; all things reach perfection.
The heavenly table is spread, the holy breezes perfume the East and the
West, the teachings of God conquer the world, men become educated,
praiseworthy results are produced, universal progress appears in the world
of humanity, and the divine bounties surround all things. The Sun of
Reality rises from the horizon of the Kingdom with the greatest power and
heat. When it reaches the meridian, it will begin to decline and descend,
and the spiritual summer will be followed by autumn, when growth and
development are arrested. Breezes change into blighting winds, and the
unwholesome season dissipates the beauty and freshness of the gardens,
plains and bowers—that is to say, attraction and goodwill do not remain,
divine qualities are changed, the radiance of hearts is dimmed, the
spirituality of souls is altered, virtues are replaced by vices, and
holiness and purity disappear. Only the name of the Religion of God
remains, and the exoteric forms of the divine teachings. The foundations
of the Religion of God are destroyed and annihilated, and nothing but
forms and customs exist. Divisions appear, firmness is changed into
instability, and spirits become dead; hearts languish, souls become inert,
and winter arrives—that is to say, the coldness of ignorance envelops the
world, and the darkness of human error prevails. After this come
indifference, disobedience, inconsiderateness, indolence, baseness, animal
instincts and the coldness and insensibility of stones. It is like the
season of winter when the terrestrial globe, deprived of the effect of the
heat of the sun, becomes desolate and dreary. When the world of
intelligence and thought has reached to this state, there remain only
continual death and perpetual nonexistence.

When the season of winter has had its effect, again the spiritual
springtime returns, and a new cycle appears. Spiritual breezes blow, the
luminous dawn gleams, the divine clouds give rain, the rays of the Sun of
Reality shine forth, the contingent world attains unto a new life and is
clad in a wonderful garment. All the signs and the gifts of the past
springtime reappear, with perhaps even greater splendor in this new
season.

The spiritual cycles of the Sun of Reality are like the cycles of the
material sun: they are always revolving and being renewed. The Sun of
Reality, like the material sun, has numerous rising and dawning places:
one day it rises from the zodiacal sign of Cancer, another day from the
sign of Libra or Aquarius; another time it is from the sign of Aries that
it diffuses its rays. But the sun is one sun and one reality; the people
of knowledge are lovers of the sun, and are not fascinated by the places
of its rising and dawning. The people of perception are the seekers of the
truth, and not of the places of its appearance, nor of its dawning points;
therefore, they will adore the Sun from whatever point in the zodiac it
may appear, and they will seek the Reality in every Sanctified Soul Who
manifests it. Such people always attain to the truth and are not veiled
from the Sun of the Divine World. So the lover of the sun and the seeker
of the light will always turn toward the sun, whether it shines from the
sign of Aries or gives its bounty from the sign of Cancer, or radiates
from Gemini; but the ignorant and uninstructed are lovers of the signs of
the zodiac, and enamored and fascinated by the rising-places, and not by
the sun. When it was in the sign of Cancer, they turned toward it, though
afterward the sun changed to the sign of Libra; as they were lovers of the
sign, they turned toward it and attached themselves to it, and were
deprived of the influences of the sun merely because it had changed its
place. For example, once the Sun of Reality poured forth its rays from the
sign of Abraham, and then it dawned from the sign of Moses and illuminated
the horizon. Afterward it rose with the greatest power and brilliancy from
the sign of Christ. Those who were the seekers of Reality worshiped that
Reality wherever they saw it, but those who were attached to Abraham were
deprived of its influences when it shone upon Sinai and illuminated the
reality of Moses. Those who held fast to Moses, when the Sun of Reality
shone from Christ with the utmost radiance and lordly splendor, were also
veiled; and so forth.

Therefore, man must be the seeker after the Reality, and he will find that
Reality in each of the Sanctified Souls. He must be fascinated and
enraptured, and attracted to the divine bounty; he must be like the
butterfly who is the lover of the light from whatever lamp it may shine,
and like the nightingale who is the lover of the rose in whatever garden
it may grow.

If the sun were to rise in the West, it would still be the sun; one must
not withdraw from it on account of its rising-place, nor consider the West
to be always the place of sunset. In the same way, one must look for the
heavenly bounties and seek for the Divine Aurora. In every place where it
appears, one must become its distracted lover. Consider that if the Jews
had not kept turning to the horizon of Moses, and had only regarded the
Sun of Reality, without any doubt they would have recognized the Sun in
the dawning-place of the reality of Christ, in the greatest divine
splendor. But, alas! a thousand times alas! attaching themselves to the
outward words of Moses, they were deprived of the divine bounties and the
lordly splendors!



15: TRUE WEALTH


The honor and exaltation of every existing being depends upon causes and
circumstances.

The excellency, the adornment and the perfection of the earth is to be
verdant and fertile through the bounty of the clouds of springtime. Plants
grow; flowers and fragrant herbs spring up; fruit-bearing trees become
full of blossoms and bring forth fresh and new fruit. Gardens become
beautiful, and meadows adorned; mountains and plains are clad in a green
robe, and gardens, fields, villages and cities are decorated. This is the
prosperity of the mineral world.

The height of exaltation and the perfection of the vegetable world is that
a tree should grow on the bank of a stream of fresh water, that a gentle
breeze should blow on it, that the warmth of the sun should shine on it,
that a gardener should attend to its cultivation, and that day by day it
should develop and yield fruit. But its real prosperity is to progress
into the animal and human world, and replace that which has been exhausted
in the bodies of animals and men.

The exaltation of the animal world is to possess perfect members, organs
and powers, and to have all its needs supplied. This is its chief glory,
its honor and exaltation. So the supreme happiness of an animal is to have
possession of a green and fertile meadow, perfectly pure flowing water,
and a lovely, verdant forest. If these things are provided for it, no
greater prosperity can be imagined. For example, if a bird builds its nest
in a green and fruitful forest, in a beautiful high place, upon a strong
tree, and at the top of a lofty branch, and if it finds all it needs of
seeds and water, this is its perfect prosperity.

But real prosperity for the animal consists in passing from the animal
world to the human world, like the microscopic beings that, through the
water and air, enter into man and are assimilated, and replace that which
has been consumed in his body. This is the great honor and prosperity for
the animal world; no greater honor can be conceived for it.

Therefore, it is evident and clear that this wealth, this comfort and this
material abundance form the complete prosperity of minerals, vegetables
and animals. No riches, wealth, comfort or ease of the material world is
equal to the wealth of a bird; all the areas of these plains and mountains
are its dwelling, and all the seeds and harvests are its food and wealth,
and all the lands, villages, meadows, pastures, forests and wildernesses
are its possessions. Now, which is the richer, this bird, or the most
wealthy man? for no matter how many seeds it may take or bestow, its
wealth does not decrease.

Then it is clear that the honor and exaltation of man must be something
more than material riches. Material comforts are only a branch, but the
root of the exaltation of man is the good attributes and virtues which are
the adornments of his reality. These are the divine appearances, the
heavenly bounties, the sublime emotions, the love and knowledge of God;
universal wisdom, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries,
justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, natural courage and innate
fortitude; the respect for rights and the keeping of agreements and
covenants; rectitude in all circumstances; serving the truth under all
conditions; the sacrifice of one’s life for the good of all people;
kindness and esteem for all nations; obedience to the teachings of God;
service in the Divine Kingdom; the guidance of the people, and the
education of the nations and races. This is the prosperity of the human
world! This is the exaltation of man in the world! This is eternal life
and heavenly honor!

These virtues do not appear from the reality of man except through the
power of God and the divine teachings, for they need supernatural power
for their manifestation. It may be that in the world of nature a trace of
these perfections may appear, but they are unstable and ephemeral; they
are like the rays of the sun upon the wall.

As the compassionate God has placed such a wonderful crown upon the head
of man, man should strive that its brilliant jewels may become visible in
the world.



PART TWO: SOME CHRISTIAN SUBJECTS



16: OUTWARD FORMS AND SYMBOLS MUST BE USED TO CONVEY INTELLECTUAL
CONCEPTIONS


A subject that is essential(77) for the comprehension of the questions
that we have mentioned, and of others of which we are about to speak, so
that the essence of the problems may be understood, is this: that human
knowledge is of two kinds. One is the knowledge of things perceptible to
the senses—that is to say, things which the eye, or ear, or smell, or
taste, or touch can perceive, which are called objective or sensible. So
the sun, because it can be seen, is said to be objective; and in the same
way sounds are sensible because the ear hears them; perfumes are sensible
because they can be inhaled and the sense of smell perceives them; foods
are sensible because the palate perceives their sweetness, sourness or
saltness; heat and cold are sensible because the feelings perceive them.
These are said to be sensible realities.

The other kind of human knowledge is intellectual—that is to say, it is a
reality of the intellect; it has no outward form and no place and is not
perceptible to the senses. For example, the power of intellect is not
sensible; none of the inner qualities of man is a sensible thing; on the
contrary, they are intellectual realities. So love is a mental reality and
not sensible; for this reality the ear does not hear, the eye does not
see, the smell does not perceive, the taste does not discern, the touch
does not feel. Even ethereal matter, the forces of which are said in
physics to be heat, light, electricity and magnetism, is an intellectual
reality, and is not sensible. In the same way, nature, also, in its
essence is an intellectual reality and is not sensible; the human spirit
is an intellectual, not sensible reality. In explaining these intellectual
realities, one is obliged to express them by sensible figures because in
exterior existence there is nothing that is not material. Therefore, to
explain the reality of the spirit—its condition, its station—one is
obliged to give explanations under the forms of sensible things because in
the external world all that exists is sensible. For example, grief and
happiness are intellectual things; when you wish to express those
spiritual qualities you say: “My heart is oppressed; my heart is dilated,”
though the heart of man is neither oppressed nor dilated. This is an
intellectual or spiritual state, to explain which you are obliged to have
recourse to sensible figures. Another example: you say, “such an
individual made great progress,” though he is remaining in the same place;
or again, “such a one’s position was exalted,” although, like everyone
else, he walks upon the earth. This exaltation and this progress are
spiritual states and intellectual realities, but to explain them you are
obliged to have recourse to sensible figures because in the exterior world
there is nothing that is not sensible.

So the symbol of knowledge is light, and of ignorance, darkness; but
reflect, is knowledge sensible light, or ignorance sensible darkness? No,
they are merely symbols. These are only intellectual states, but when you
desire to express them outwardly, you call knowledge light, and ignorance
darkness. You say: “My heart was gloomy, and it became enlightened.” Now,
that light of knowledge, and that darkness of ignorance, are intellectual
realities, not sensible ones; but when we seek for explanations in the
external world, we are obliged to give them a sensible form.

Then it is evident that the dove which descended upon Christ was not a
material dove, but it was a spiritual state, which, that it might be
comprehensible, was expressed by a sensible figure. Thus in the Old
Testament it is said that God appeared as a pillar of fire: this does not
signify the material form; it is an intellectual reality which is
expressed by a sensible image.

Christ says, “The Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father.” Was
Christ within God, or God within Christ? No, in the name of God! On the
contrary, this is an intellectual state which is expressed in a sensible
figure.

We come to the explanation of the words of Bahá’u’lláh when He says: “O
king! I was but a man like others, asleep upon My couch, when lo, the
breezes of the All-Glorious were wafted over Me, and taught Me the
knowledge of all that hath been. This thing is not from Me, but from One
Who is Almighty and All-Knowing.”(78) This is the state of manifestation:
it is not sensible; it is an intellectual reality, exempt and freed from
time, from past, present and future; it is an explanation, a simile, a
metaphor and is not to be accepted literally; it is not a state that can
be comprehended by man. Sleeping and waking is passing from one state to
another. Sleeping is the condition of repose, and wakefulness is the
condition of movement. Sleeping is the state of silence; wakefulness is
the state of speech. Sleeping is the state of mystery; wakefulness is the
state of manifestation.

For example, it is a Persian and Arabic expression to say that the earth
was asleep, and the spring came, and it awoke; or the earth was dead, and
the spring came, and it revived. These expressions are metaphors,
allegories, mystic explanations in the world of signification.

Briefly, the Holy Manifestations have ever been, and ever will be,
Luminous Realities; no change or variation takes place in Their essence.
Before declaring Their manifestation, They are silent and quiet like a
sleeper, and after Their manifestation, They speak and are illuminated,
like one who is awake.



17: THE BIRTH OF CHRIST


Question.—How was Christ born of the Holy Spirit?

Answer.—In regard to this question, theologians and materialists disagree.
The theologians believe that Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, but the
materialists think this is impossible and inadmissible, and that without
doubt He had a human father.

In the Qur’án it is said: “And We sent Our Spirit unto her, and He
appeared unto her in the shape of a perfect man,”(79) meaning that the
Holy Spirit took the likeness of the human form, as an image is produced
in a mirror, and he addressed Mary.

The materialists believe that there must be marriage, and say that a
living body cannot be created from a lifeless body, and without male and
female there cannot be fecundation. And they think that not only with man,
but also with animals and plants, it is impossible. For this union of the
male and female exists in all living beings and plants. This pairing of
things is even shown forth in the Qur’án: “Glory be to Him Who has created
all the pairs: of such things as the earth produceth, and of themselves;
and of things which they know not”(80)—that is to say, men, animals and
plants are all in pairs—“and of everything have We created two kinds”—that
is to say, We have created all the beings through pairing.

Briefly, they say a man without a human father cannot be imagined. In
answer, the theologians say: “This thing is not impossible and
unachievable, but it has not been seen; and there is a great difference
between a thing which is impossible and one which is unknown. For example,
in former times the telegraph, which causes the East and the West to
communicate, was unknown but not impossible; photography and phonography
were unknown but not impossible.”

The materialists insist upon this belief, and the theologians reply: “Is
this globe eternal or phenomenal?” The materialists answer that, according
to science and important discoveries, it is established that it is
phenomenal; in the beginning it was a flaming globe, and gradually it
became temperate; a crust was formed around it, and upon this crust plants
came into existence, then animals, and finally man.

The theologians say: “Then from your statement it has become evident and
clear that mankind is phenomenal upon the globe, and not eternal. Then
surely the first man had neither father nor mother, for the existence of
man is phenomenal. Is not the creation of man without father and mother,
even though gradually, more difficult than if he had simply come into
existence without a father? As you admit that the first man came into
existence without father or mother—whether it be gradually or at
once—there can remain no doubt that a man without a human father is also
possible and admissible; you cannot consider this impossible; otherwise,
you are illogical. For example, if you say that this lamp has once been
lighted without wick and oil, and then say that it is impossible to light
it without the wick, this is illogical.” Christ had a mother; the first
man, as the materialists believe, had neither father nor mother.(81)



18: THE GREATNESS OF CHRIST IS DUE TO HIS PERFECTIONS


A great man is a great man, whether born of a human father or not. If
being without a father is a virtue, Adam is greater and more excellent
than all the Prophets and Messengers, for He had neither father nor
mother. That which causes honor and greatness is the splendor and bounty
of the divine perfections. The sun is born from substance and form, which
can be compared to father and mother, and it is absolute perfection; but
the darkness has neither substance nor form, neither father nor mother,
and it is absolute imperfection. The substance of Adam’s physical life was
earth, but the substance of Abraham was pure sperm; it is certain that the
pure and chaste sperm is superior to earth.

Furthermore, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, verses 12 and 13,
it is said: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become
the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name:

“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the
will of man, but of God.”(82)

From these verses it is obvious that the being of a disciple also is not
created by physical power, but by the spiritual reality. The honor and
greatness of Christ is not due to the fact that He did not have a human
father, but to His perfections, bounties and divine glory. If the
greatness of Christ is His being fatherless, then Adam is greater than
Christ, for He had neither father nor mother. It is said in the Old
Testament, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living
soul.”(83) Observe that it is said that Adam came into existence from the
Spirit of life. Moreover, the expression which John uses in regard to the
disciples proves that they also are from the Heavenly Father. Hence it is
evident that the holy reality, meaning the real existence of every great
man, comes from God and owes its being to the breath of the Holy Spirit.

The purport is that, if to be without a father is the greatest human
glory, then Adam is greater than all, for He had neither father nor
mother. Is it better for a man to be created from a living substance or
from earth? Certainly it is better if he be created from a living
substance. But Christ was born and came into existence from the Holy
Spirit.

To conclude: the splendor and honor of the holy souls and the Divine
Manifestations come from Their heavenly perfections, bounties and glory,
and from nothing else.



19: THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST


Question.—It is said in the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 3, verses 13,
14, 15: “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be
baptized of him. But John forbade Him, saying, I have need to be baptized
of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer
it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then
he suffered Him.”

What is the wisdom of this: since Christ possessed all essential
perfection, why did He need baptism?

Answer.—The principle of baptism is purification by repentance. John
admonished and exhorted the people, and caused them to repent; then he
baptized them. Therefore, it is apparent that this baptism is a symbol of
repentance from all sin: its meaning is expressed in these words: “O God!
as my body has become purified and cleansed from physical impurities, in
the same way purify and sanctify my spirit from the impurities of the
world of nature, which are not worthy of the Threshold of Thy Unity!”
Repentance is the return from disobedience to obedience. Man, after
remoteness and deprivation from God, repents and undergoes purification:
and this is a symbol signifying “O God! make my heart good and pure, freed
and sanctified from all save Thy love.”

As Christ desired that this institution of John should be used at that
time by all, He Himself conformed to it in order to awaken the people and
to complete the law of the former religion. Although the ablution of
repentance was the institution of John, it was in reality formerly
practiced in the religion of God.

Christ was not in need of baptism; but as at that time it was an
acceptable and praiseworthy action, and a sign of the glad tidings of the
Kingdom, therefore, He confirmed it. However, afterward He said the true
baptism is not with material water, but it must be with spirit and with
water. In this case water does not signify material water, for elsewhere
it is explicitly said baptism is with spirit and with fire, from which it
is clear that the reference is not to material fire and material water,
for baptism with fire is impossible.

Therefore, the spirit is the bounty of God, the water is knowledge and
life, and the fire is the love of God. For material water does not purify
the heart of man; no, it cleanses his body. But the heavenly water and
spirit, which are knowledge and life, make the human heart good and pure;
the heart which receives a portion of the bounty of the Spirit becomes
sanctified, good and pure—that is to say, the reality of man becomes
purified and sanctified from the impurities of the world of nature. These
natural impurities are evil qualities: anger, lust, worldliness, pride,
lying, hypocrisy, fraud, self-love, etc.

Man cannot free himself from the rage of the carnal passions except by the
help of the Holy Spirit. That is why He says baptism with the spirit, with
water and with fire is necessary, and that it is essential—that is to say,
the spirit of divine bounty, the water of knowledge and life, and the fire
of the love of God. Man must be baptized with this spirit, this water and
this fire so as to become filled with the eternal bounty. Otherwise, what
is the use of baptizing with material water? No, this baptism with water
was a symbol of repentance, and of seeking forgiveness of sins.

But in the cycle of Bahá’u’lláh there is no longer need of this symbol;
for its reality, which is to be baptized with the spirit and love of God,
is understood and established.



20: THE NECESSITY OF BAPTISM


Question.—Is the ablution of baptism useful and necessary, or is it
useless and unnecessary? In the first case, if it is useful, why was it
abrogated? And in the second case, if it is useless, why did John practice
it?

Answer.—The change in conditions, alterations and transformations are
necessities of the essence of beings, and essential necessities cannot be
separated from the reality of things. So it is absolutely impossible to
separate heat from fire, humidity from water, or light from the sun, for
they are essential necessities. As the change and alteration of conditions
are necessities for beings, so laws also are changed and altered in
accordance with the changes and alterations of the times. For example, in
the time of Moses, His Law was conformed and adapted to the conditions of
the time; but in the days of Christ these conditions had changed and
altered to such an extent that the Mosaic Law was no longer suited and
adapted to the needs of mankind; and it was, therefore, abrogated. Thus it
was that Christ broke the Sabbath and forbade divorce. After Christ four
disciples, among whom were Peter and Paul, permitted the use of animal
food forbidden by the Bible, except the eating of those animals which had
been strangled, or which were sacrificed to idols, and of blood.(84) They
also forbade fornication. They maintained these four commandments.
Afterward, Paul permitted even the eating of strangled animals, those
sacrificed to idols, and blood, and only maintained the prohibition of
fornication. So in chapter 14, verse 14 of his Epistle to the Romans, Paul
writes: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing
unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to
him it is unclean.”

Also in the Epistle of Paul to Titus, chapter 1, verse 15: “Unto the pure
all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is
nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

Now this change, these alterations and this abrogation are due to the
impossibility of comparing the time of Christ with that of Moses. The
conditions and requirements in the later period were entirely changed and
altered. The former laws were, therefore, abrogated.

The existence of the world may be compared to that of a man, and the
Prophets and Messengers of God to skillful doctors. The human being cannot
remain in one condition: different maladies occur which have each a
special remedy. The skillful physician does not give the same medicine to
cure each disease and each malady, but he changes remedies and medicines
according to the different necessities of the diseases and constitutions.
One person may have a severe illness caused by fever, and the skilled
doctor will give him cooling remedies; and when at some other time the
condition of this person has changed, and fever is replaced by chills,
without doubt the skilled doctor will discard cooling medicine and permit
the use of heating drugs. This change and alteration is required by the
condition of the patient and is an evident proof of the skill of the
physician.

Consider, could the Law of the Old Testament be enforced at this epoch and
time? No, in the name of God! it would be impossible and impracticable;
therefore, most certainly God abrogated the laws of the Old Testament at
the time of Christ. Reflect, also, that baptism in the days of John the
Baptist was used to awaken and admonish the people to repent from all sin,
and to watch for the appearance of the Kingdom of Christ. But at present
in Asia, the Catholics and the Orthodox Church plunge newly born children
into water mixed with olive oil, and many of them become ill from the
shock; at the time of baptism they struggle and become agitated. In other
places, the clergy sprinkle the water of baptism on the forehead. But
neither from the first form nor from the second do the children derive any
spiritual benefit. Then what result is obtained from this form? Other
peoples are amazed and wonder why the infant is plunged into the water,
since this is neither the cause of the spiritual awakening of the child,
nor of its faith or conversion, but it is only a custom which is followed.
In the time of John the Baptist it was not so; no, at first John used to
exhort the people, and to guide them to repentance from sin, and to fill
them with the desire to await the manifestation of Christ. Whoever
received the ablution of baptism, and repented of sins in absolute
humility and meekness, would also purify and cleanse his body from outward
impurities. With perfect yearning, night and day, he would constantly wait
for the manifestation of Christ, and the entrance to the Kingdom of the
Spirit of God.(85)

To recapitulate: our meaning is that the change and modification of
conditions, and the altered requirements of different centuries and times,
are the cause of the abrogation of laws. For a time comes when these laws
are no longer suitably adapted to conditions. Consider how very different
are the requirements of the first centuries, of the Middle Ages, and of
modern times. Is it possible that the laws of the first centuries could be
enforced at present? It is evident that it would be impossible and
impracticable. In the same manner, after the lapse of a few centuries, the
requirements of the present time will not be the same as those of the
future, and certainly there will be change and alteration. In Europe the
laws are unceasingly altered and modified; in bygone years, how many laws
existed in the organizations and systems of Europe, which are now
abrogated! These changes and alterations are due to the variation and
mutation of thought, conditions and customs. If it were not so, the
prosperity of the world of humanity would be wrecked.

For example, there is in the Pentateuch a law that if anyone break the
Sabbath, he shall be put to death. Moreover, there are ten sentences of
death in the Pentateuch. Would it be possible to keep these laws in our
time? It is clear that it would be absolutely impossible. Consequently,
there are changes and modifications in the laws, and these are a
sufficient proof of the supreme wisdom of God.

This subject needs deep thought. Then the cause of these changes will be
evident and apparent.

Blessed are those who reflect!



21: THE SYMBOLISM OF THE BREAD AND THE WINE


Question.—The Christ said: “I am the living bread which came down from
heaven, that a man may eat thereof and not die.”(86) What is the meaning
of this utterance?

Answer.—This bread signifies the heavenly food and divine perfections. So,
“If any man eateth of this bread” means if any man acquires heavenly
bounty, receives the divine light, or partakes of Christ’s perfections, he
thereby gains everlasting life. The blood also signifies the spirit of
life and the divine perfections, the lordly splendor and eternal bounty.
For all the members of the body gain vital substance from the circulation
of the blood.

In the Gospel of St. John, chapter 6, verse 26, it is written: “Ye seek
Me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves,
and were filled.”

It is evident that the bread of which the disciples ate and were filled
was the heavenly bounty; for in verse 33 of the same chapter it is said:
“For the bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life
unto the world.” It is clear that the body of Christ did not descend from
heaven, but it came from the womb of Mary; and that which descended from
the heaven of God was the spirit of Christ. As the Jews thought that
Christ spoke of His body, they made objections, for it is said in the 42nd
verse of the same chapter: “And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of
Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I
came down from heaven?”

Reflect how clear it is that what Christ meant by the heavenly bread was
His spirit, His bounties, His perfections and His teachings; for it is
said in the 63rd verse: “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh
profiteth nothing.”

Therefore, it is evident that the spirit of Christ is a heavenly grace
which descends from heaven; whosoever receives light from that spirit in
abundance—that is to say, the heavenly teachings—finds everlasting life.
That is why it is said in the 35th verse: “And Jesus said unto them, I am
the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that
believeth on Me shall never thirst.”

Notice that “coming to Him” He expresses as eating, and “belief in Him” as
drinking. Then it is evident and established that the celestial food is
the divine bounties, the spiritual splendors, the heavenly teachings, the
universal meaning of Christ. To eat is to draw near to Him, and to drink
is to believe in Him. For Christ had an elemental body and a celestial
form. The elemental body was crucified, but the heavenly form is living
and eternal, and the cause of everlasting life; the first was the human
nature, and the second is the divine nature. It is thought by some that
the Eucharist is the reality of Christ, and that the Divinity and the Holy
Spirit descend into and exist in it. Now when once the Eucharist is taken,
after a few moments it is simply disintegrated and entirely transformed.
Therefore, how can such a thought be conceived? God forbid! certainly it
is an absolute fantasy.

To conclude: through the manifestation of Christ, the divine teachings,
which are an eternal bounty, were spread abroad, the light of guidance
shone forth, and the spirit of life was conferred on man. Whoever found
guidance became living; whoever remained lost was seized by enduring
death. This bread which came down from heaven was the divine body of
Christ, His spiritual elements, which the disciples ate, and through which
they gained eternal life.

The disciples had taken many meals from the hand of Christ; why was the
last supper distinguished from the others? It is evident that the heavenly
bread did not signify this material bread, but rather the divine
nourishment of the spiritual body of Christ, the divine graces and
heavenly perfections of which His disciples partook, and with which they
became filled.

In the same way, reflect that when Christ blessed the bread and gave it to
His disciples, saying, “This is My body,”(87) and gave grace to them, He
was with them in person, in presence, and form. He was not transformed
into bread and wine; if He had been turned into bread and wine, He could
not have remained with the disciples in body, in person and in presence.

Then it is clear that the bread and wine were symbols which signified: I
have given you My bounties and perfections, and when you have received
this bounty, you have gained eternal life and have partaken of your share
and your portion of the heavenly nourishment.



22: MIRACLES


Question.—It is recorded that miracles were performed by Christ. Are the
reports of these miracles really to be accepted literally, or have they
another meaning? It has been proved by exact science that the essence of
things does not change, and that all beings are under one universal law
and organization from which they cannot deviate; and, therefore, that
which is contrary to universal law is impossible.

Answer.—The Holy Manifestations are the sources of miracles and the
originators of wonderful signs. For Them, any difficult and impracticable
thing is possible and easy. For through a supernatural power wonders
appear from Them; and by this power, which is beyond nature, They
influence the world of nature. From all the Manifestations marvelous
things have appeared.

But in the Holy Books an especial terminology is employed, and for the
Manifestations these miracles and wonderful signs have no importance. They
do not even wish to mention them. For if we consider miracles a great
proof, they are still only proofs and arguments for those who are present
when they are performed, and not for those who are absent.

For example, if we relate to a seeker, a stranger to Moses and Christ,
marvelous signs, he will deny them and will say: “Wonderful signs are also
continually related of false gods by the testimony of many people, and
they are affirmed in the Books. The Brahmans have written a book about
wonderful prodigies from Brahma.” He will also say: “How can we know that
the Jews and the Christians speak the truth, and that the Brahmans tell a
lie? For both are generally admitted traditions, which are collected in
books, and may be supposed to be true or false.” The same may be said of
other religions: if one is true, all are true; if one is accepted, all
must be accepted. Therefore, miracles are not a proof. For if they are
proofs for those who are present, they fail as proofs to those who are
absent.

But in the day of the Manifestation the people with insight see that all
the conditions of the Manifestation are miracles, for They are superior to
all others, and this alone is an absolute miracle. Recollect that Christ,
solitary and alone, without a helper or protector, without armies and
legions, and under the greatest oppression, uplifted the standard of God
before all the people of the world, and withstood them, and finally
conquered all, although outwardly He was crucified. Now this is a
veritable miracle which can never be denied. There is no need of any other
proof of the truth of Christ.

The outward miracles have no importance for the people of Reality. If a
blind man receives sight, for example, he will finally again become
sightless, for he will die and be deprived of all his senses and powers.
Therefore, causing the blind man to see is comparatively of little
importance, for this faculty of sight will at last disappear. If the body
of a dead person be resuscitated, of what use is it since the body will
die again? But it is important to give perception and eternal life—that
is, the spiritual and divine life. For this physical life is not immortal,
and its existence is equivalent to nonexistence. So it is that Christ said
to one of His disciples: “Let the dead bury their dead;” for “That which
is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is
spirit.”(88)

Observe: those who in appearance were physically alive, Christ considered
dead; for life is the eternal life, and existence is the real existence.
Wherever in the Holy Books they speak of raising the dead, the meaning is
that the dead were blessed by eternal life; where it is said that the
blind received sight, the signification is that he obtained the true
perception; where it is said a deaf man received hearing, the meaning is
that he acquired spiritual and heavenly hearing. This is ascertained from
the text of the Gospel where Christ said: “These are like those of whom
Isaiah said, They have eyes and see not, they have ears and hear not; and
I healed them.”(89)

The meaning is not that the Manifestations are unable to perform miracles,
for They have all power. But for Them inner sight, spiritual healing and
eternal life are the valuable and important things. Consequently, whenever
it is recorded in the Holy Books that such a one was blind and recovered
his sight, the meaning is that he was inwardly blind, and that he obtained
spiritual vision, or that he was ignorant and became wise, or that he was
negligent and became heedful, or that he was worldly and became heavenly.

As this inner sight, hearing, life and healing are eternal, they are of
importance. What, comparatively, is the importance, the value and the
worth of this animal life with its powers? In a few days it will cease
like fleeting thoughts. For example, if one relights an extinguished lamp,
it will again become extinguished; but the light of the sun is always
luminous. This is of importance.



23: THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST


Question.—What is the meaning of Christ’s resurrection after three days?

Answer.—The resurrections of the Divine Manifestations are not of the
body. All Their states, Their conditions, Their acts, the things They have
established, Their teachings, Their expressions, Their parables and Their
instructions have a spiritual and divine signification, and have no
connection with material things. For example, there is the subject of
Christ’s coming from heaven: it is clearly stated in many places in the
Gospel that the Son of man came from heaven, He is in heaven, and He will
go to heaven. So in chapter 6, verse 38, of the Gospel of John it is
written: “For I came down from heaven”; and also in verse 42 we find: “And
they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother
we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?” Also in
John, chapter 3, verse 13: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He
that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”

Observe that it is said, “The Son of man is in heaven,” while at that time
Christ was on earth. Notice also that it is said that Christ came from
heaven, though He came from the womb of Mary, and His body was born of
Mary. It is clear, then, that when it is said that the Son of man is come
from heaven, this has not an outward but an inward signification; it is a
spiritual, not a material, fact. The meaning is that though, apparently,
Christ was born from the womb of Mary, in reality He came from heaven,
from the center of the Sun of Reality, from the Divine World, and the
Spiritual Kingdom. And as it has become evident that Christ came from the
spiritual heaven of the Divine Kingdom, therefore, His disappearance under
the earth for three days has an inner signification and is not an outward
fact. In the same way, His resurrection from the interior of the earth is
also symbolical; it is a spiritual and divine fact, and not material; and
likewise His ascension to heaven is a spiritual and not material
ascension.

Beside these explanations, it has been established and proved by science
that the visible heaven is a limitless area, void and empty, where
innumerable stars and planets revolve.

Therefore, we say that the meaning of Christ’s resurrection is as follows:
the disciples were troubled and agitated after the martyrdom of Christ.
The Reality of Christ, which signifies His teachings, His bounties, His
perfections and His spiritual power, was hidden and concealed for two or
three days after His martyrdom, and was not resplendent and manifest. No,
rather it was lost, for the believers were few in number and were troubled
and agitated. The Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body; and when after
three days the disciples became assured and steadfast, and began to serve
the Cause of Christ, and resolved to spread the divine teachings, putting
His counsels into practice, and arising to serve Him, the Reality of
Christ became resplendent and His bounty appeared; His religion found
life; His teachings and His admonitions became evident and visible. In
other words, the Cause of Christ was like a lifeless body until the life
and the bounty of the Holy Spirit surrounded it.

Such is the meaning of the resurrection of Christ, and this was a true
resurrection. But as the clergy have neither understood the meaning of the
Gospels nor comprehended the symbols, therefore, it has been said that
religion is in contradiction to science, and science in opposition to
religion, as, for example, this subject of the ascension of Christ with an
elemental body to the visible heaven is contrary to the science of
mathematics. But when the truth of this subject becomes clear, and the
symbol is explained, science in no way contradicts it; but, on the
contrary, science and the intelligence affirm it.



24: THE DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON THE APOSTLES


Question.—What is the manner, and what is the meaning, of the descent of
the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, as described in the Gospel?

Answer.—The descent of the Holy Spirit is not like the entrance of air
into man; it is an expression and a simile, rather than an exact or a
literal image. No, rather it is like the entrance of the image of the sun
into the mirror—that is to say, its splendor becomes apparent in it.

After the death of Christ the disciples were troubled, and their ideas and
thoughts were discordant and contradictory; later they became firm and
united, and at the feast of Pentecost they gathered together and detached
themselves from the things of this world. Disregarding themselves, they
renounced their comfort and worldly happiness, sacrificing their body and
soul to the Beloved, abandoning their houses, and becoming wanderers and
homeless, even forgetting their own existence. Then they received the help
of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit became manifested; the
spirituality of Christ triumphed, and the love of God reigned. They were
given help at that time and dispersed in different directions, teaching
the Cause of God, and giving forth proofs and evidences.

So the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles means their attraction
by the Christ Spirit, whereby they acquired stability and firmness.
Through the spirit of the love of God they gained a new life, and they saw
Christ living, helping and protecting them. They were like drops, and they
became seas; they were like feeble insects, and they became majestic
eagles; they were weak and became powerful. They were like mirrors facing
the sun; verily, some of the light became manifest in them.



25: THE HOLY SPIRIT


Question.—What is the Holy Spirit?

Answer.—The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God and the luminous rays which
emanate from the Manifestations; for the focus of the rays of the Sun of
Reality was Christ, and from this glorious focus, which is the Reality of
Christ, the Bounty of God reflected upon the other mirrors which were the
reality of the Apostles. The descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
signifies that the glorious divine bounties reflected and appeared in
their reality. Moreover, entrance and exit, descent and ascent, are
characteristics of bodies and not of spirits—that is to say, sensible
realities enter and come forth, but intellectual subtleties and mental
realities, such as intelligence, love, knowledge, imagination and thought,
do not enter, nor come forth, nor descend, but rather they have direct
connection.

For example, knowledge, which is a state attained to by the intelligence,
is an intellectual condition; and entering and coming out of the mind are
imaginary conditions; but the mind is connected with the acquisition of
knowledge, like images reflected in a mirror.

Therefore, as it is evident and clear that the intellectual realities do
not enter and descend, and it is absolutely impossible that the Holy
Spirit should ascend and descend, enter, come out or penetrate, it can
only be that the Holy Spirit appears in splendor, as the sun appears in
the mirror.

In some passages in the Holy Books the Spirit is spoken of, signifying a
certain person, as it is currently said in speech and conversation that
such a person is an embodied spirit, or he is a personification of mercy
and generosity. In this case, it is the light we look at, and not the
glass.

In the Gospel of John, in speaking of the Promised One Who was to come
after Christ, it is said in chapter 16, verses 12, 13: “I have yet many
things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the
Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall
not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak.”

Now consider carefully that from these words, “for He shall not speak of
Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,” it is clear
that the Spirit of truth is embodied in a Man Who has individuality, Who
has ears to hear and a tongue to speak. In the same way the name “Spirit
of God” is used in relation to Christ, as you speak of a light, meaning
both the light and the lamp.



26: THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE DAY OF JUDGMENT


It is said in the Holy Books that Christ will come again, and that His
coming depends upon the fulfillment of certain signs: when He comes, it
will be with these signs. For example, “The sun will be darkened, and the
moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven....
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall
all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man
coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”(90)
Bahá’u’lláh has explained these verses in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.(91) There is
no need of repetition; refer to it, and you will understand these sayings.

But I have something further to say upon this subject. At His first coming
Christ also came from heaven, as it is explicitly stated in the Gospel.
Christ Himself says: “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that
came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.”(92)

It is clear to all that Christ came from heaven, although apparently He
came from the womb of Mary. At the first coming He came from heaven,
though apparently from the womb; in the same way, also, at His second
coming He will come from heaven, though apparently from the womb. The
conditions that are indicated in the Gospel for the second coming of
Christ are the same as those that were mentioned for the first coming, as
we said before.

The Book of Isaiah announces that the Messiah will conquer the East and
the West, and all nations of the world will come under His shadow, that
His Kingdom will be established, that He will come from an unknown place,
that the sinners will be judged, and that justice will prevail to such a
degree that the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the sucking
child and the asp, shall all gather at one spring, and in one meadow, and
one dwelling.(93) The first coming was also under these conditions, though
outwardly none of them came to pass. Therefore, the Jews rejected Christ,
and, God forbid! called the Messiah masí_kh_,(94) considered Him to be the
destroyer of the edifice of God, regarded Him as the breaker of the
Sabbath and the Law, and sentenced Him to death. Nevertheless, each one of
these conditions had a signification that the Jews did not understand;
therefore, they were debarred from perceiving the truth of Christ.

The second coming of Christ also will be in like manner: the signs and
conditions which have been spoken of all have meanings, and are not to be
taken literally. Among other things it is said that the stars will fall
upon the earth. The stars are endless and innumerable, and modern
mathematicians have established and proved scientifically that the globe
of the sun is estimated to be about one million and a half times greater
than the earth, and each of the fixed stars to be a thousand times larger
than the sun. If these stars were to fall upon the surface of the earth,
how could they find place there? It would be as though a thousand million
of Himalaya mountains were to fall upon a grain of mustard seed. According
to reason and science this thing is quite impossible. What is even more
strange is that Christ said: “Perhaps I shall come when you are yet
asleep, for the coming of the Son of man is like the coming of a
thief.”(95) Perhaps the thief will be in the house, and the owner will not
know it.

It is clear and evident that these signs have symbolic signification, and
that they are not literal. They are fully explained in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.
Refer to it.



27: THE TRINITY


Question.—What is the meaning of the Trinity, of the Three Persons in One?

Answer.—The Divine Reality, which is purified and sanctified from the
understanding of human beings and which can never be imagined by the
people of wisdom and of intelligence, is exempt from all conception. That
Lordly Reality admits of no division; for division and multiplicity are
properties of creatures which are contingent existences, and not accidents
which happen to the self-existent.

The Divine Reality is sanctified from singleness, then how much more from
plurality. The descent of that Lordly Reality into conditions and degrees
would be equivalent to imperfection and contrary to perfection, and is,
therefore, absolutely impossible. It perpetually has been, and is, in the
exaltation of holiness and sanctity. All that is mentioned of the
Manifestations and Dawning-places of God signifies the divine reflection,
and not a descent into the conditions of existence.(96)

God is pure perfection, and creatures are but imperfections. For God to
descend into the conditions of existence would be the greatest of
imperfections; on the contrary, His manifestation, His appearance, His
rising are like the reflection of the sun in a clear, pure, polished
mirror. All the creatures are evident signs of God, like the earthly
beings upon all of which the rays of the sun shine. But upon the plains,
the mountains, the trees and fruits, only a portion of the light shines,
through which they become visible, and are reared, and attain to the
object of their existence, while the Perfect Man(97) is in the condition
of a clear mirror in which the Sun of Reality becomes visible and manifest
with all its qualities and perfections. So the Reality of Christ was a
clear and polished mirror of the greatest purity and fineness. The Sun of
Reality, the Essence of Divinity, reflected itself in this mirror and
manifested its light and heat in it; but from the exaltation of its
holiness, and the heaven of its sanctity, the Sun did not descend to dwell
and abide in the mirror. No, it continues to subsist in its exaltation and
sublimity, while appearing and becoming manifest in the mirror in beauty
and perfection.

Now if we say that we have seen the Sun in two mirrors—one the Christ and
one the Holy Spirit—that is to say, that we have seen three Suns, one in
heaven and the two others on the earth, we speak truly. And if we say that
there is one Sun, and it is pure singleness, and has no partner and equal,
we again speak truly.

The epitome of the discourse is that the Reality of Christ was a clear
mirror, and the Sun of Reality—that is to say, the Essence of Oneness,
with its infinite perfections and attributes—became visible in the mirror.
The meaning is not that the Sun, which is the Essence of the Divinity,
became divided and multiplied—for the Sun is one—but it appeared in the
mirror. This is why Christ said, “The Father is in the Son,” meaning that
the Sun is visible and manifest in this mirror.

The Holy Spirit is the Bounty of God which becomes visible and evident in
the Reality of Christ. The Sonship station is the heart of Christ, and the
Holy Spirit is the station of the spirit of Christ. Hence it has become
certain and proved that the Essence of Divinity is absolutely unique and
has no equal, no likeness, no equivalent.

This is the signification of the Three Persons of the Trinity. If it were
otherwise, the foundations of the Religion of God would rest upon an
illogical proposition which the mind could never conceive, and how can the
mind be forced to believe a thing which it cannot conceive? A thing cannot
be grasped by the intelligence except when it is clothed in an
intelligible form; otherwise, it is but an effort of the imagination.

It has now become clear, from this explanation, what is the meaning of the
Three Persons of the Trinity. The Oneness of God is also proved.



28: EXPLANATION OF VERSE FIVE, CHAPTER SEVENTEEN, OF THE GOSPEL OF ST.
JOHN


“And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory
which I had with Thee before the world was.”(98)

There are two kinds of priorities: one is essential and is not preceded by
a cause, but its existence is in itself, as, for example, the sun has
light in itself, for its shining is not dependent on the light of other
stars. This is called an essential light. But the light of the moon is
received from the sun, for the moon is dependent on the sun for its light;
therefore, the sun, with regard to light, is the cause, and the moon
becomes the effect. The former is the ancient, the precedent, the
antecedent, while the latter is the preceded and the last.

The second sort of preexistence is the preexistence of time, and that has
no beginning. The Word of God is sanctified from time.(99) The past, the
present, the future, all, in relation to God, are equal. Yesterday, today,
tomorrow do not exist in the sun.

In the same way there is a priority with regard to glory—that is to say,
the most glorious precedes the glorious. Therefore, the Reality of Christ,
Who is the Word of God, with regard to essence, attributes and glory,
certainly precedes the creatures. Before appearing in the human form, the
Word of God was in the utmost sanctity and glory, existing in perfect
beauty and splendor in the height of its magnificence. When through the
wisdom of God the Most High it shone from the heights of glory in the
world of the body, the Word of God, through this body, became oppressed,
so that it fell into the hands of the Jews, and became the captive of the
tyrannical and ignorant, and at last was crucified. That is why He
addressed God, saying: “Free Me from the bonds of the world of the body,
and liberate Me from this cage, so that I may ascend to the heights of
honor and glory, and attain unto the former grandeur and might which
existed before the bodily world, that I may rejoice in the eternal world
and may ascend to the original abode, the placeless world, the invisible
kingdom.”

It is thus that you see even in the kingdom of this world—that is to say,
in the realm of souls and countries—that the glory and the grandeur of
Christ appeared in this earth after His ascension. When in the world of
the body He was subject to the contempt and jeers of the weakest nation of
the world, the Jews, who thought it fitting to set a crown of thorns upon
His sacred head. But after His ascension the bejeweled crowns of all the
kings were humbled and bowed before the crown of thorns.

Behold the glory that the Word of God attained even in this world!



29: EXPLANATION OF VERSE TWENTY-TWO, CHAPTER FIFTEEN, OF THE FIRST EPISTLE
OF ST. PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS


Question.—In verse 22 of chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians it is written: “For
as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” What is
the meaning of these words?

Answer.—Know that there are two natures in man: the physical nature and
the spiritual nature. The physical nature is inherited from Adam, and the
spiritual nature is inherited from the Reality of the Word of God, which
is the spirituality of Christ. The physical nature is born of Adam, but
the spiritual nature is born from the bounty of the Holy Spirit. The first
is the source of all imperfection; the second is the source of all
perfection.

The Christ sacrificed Himself so that men might be freed from the
imperfections of the physical nature and might become possessed of the
virtues of the spiritual nature. This spiritual nature, which came into
existence through the bounty of the Divine Reality, is the union of all
perfections and appears through the breath of the Holy Spirit. It is the
divine perfections; it is light, spirituality, guidance, exaltation, high
aspiration, justice, love, grace, kindness to all, philanthropy, the
essence of life. It is the reflection of the splendor of the Sun of
Reality.

The Christ is the central point of the Holy Spirit: He is born of the Holy
Spirit; He is raised up by the Holy Spirit; He is the descendant of the
Holy Spirit—that is to say, that the Reality of Christ does not descend
from Adam; no, it is born of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this verse in
Corinthians, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made
alive,” means, according to this terminology, that Adam(100) is the father
of man—that is to say, He is the cause of the physical life of mankind;
His was the physical fatherhood. He is a living soul, but He is not the
giver of spiritual life, whereas Christ is the cause of the spiritual life
of man, and with regard to the spirit, His was the spiritual fatherhood.
Adam is a living soul; Christ is a quickening spirit.

This physical world of man is subject to the power of the lusts, and sin
is the consequence of this power of the lusts, for it is not subject to
the laws of justice and holiness. The body of man is a captive of nature;
it will act in accordance with whatever nature orders. It is, therefore,
certain that sins such as anger, jealousy, dispute, covetousness, avarice,
ignorance, prejudice, hatred, pride and tyranny exist in the physical
world. All these brutal qualities exist in the nature of man. A man who
has not had a spiritual education is a brute. Like the savages of Africa,
whose actions, habits and morals are purely sensual, they act according to
the demands of nature to such a degree that they rend and eat one another.
Thus it is evident that the physical world of man is a world of sin. In
this physical world man is not distinguished from the animal.

All sin comes from the demands of nature, and these demands, which arise
from the physical qualities, are not sins with respect to the animals,
while for man they are sin. The animal is the source of imperfections,
such as anger, sensuality, jealousy, avarice, cruelty, pride: all these
defects are found in animals but do not constitute sins. But in man they
are sins.

Adam is the cause of man’s physical life; but the Reality of Christ—that
is to say, the Word of God—is the cause of spiritual life. It is “a
quickening spirit,” meaning that all the imperfections which come from the
requirements of the physical life of man are transformed into human
perfections by the teachings and education of that spirit. Therefore,
Christ was a quickening spirit, and the cause of life in all mankind.

Adam was the cause of physical life, and as the physical world of man is
the world of imperfections, and imperfections are the equivalent of death,
Paul compared the physical imperfections to death.

But the mass of the Christians believe that, as Adam ate of the forbidden
tree, He sinned in that He disobeyed, and that the disastrous consequences
of this disobedience have been transmitted as a heritage and have remained
among His descendants. Hence Adam became the cause of the death of
humanity. This explanation is unreasonable and evidently wrong, for it
means that all men, even the Prophets and the Messengers of God, without
committing any sin or fault, but simply because they are the posterity of
Adam, have become without reason guilty sinners, and until the day of the
sacrifice of Christ were held captive in hell in painful torment. This is
far from the justice of God. If Adam was a sinner, what is the sin of
Abraham? What is the fault of Isaac, or of Joseph? Of what is Moses
guilty?

But Christ, Who is the Word of God, sacrificed Himself. This has two
meanings, an apparent and an esoteric meaning. The outward meaning is
this: Christ’s intention was to represent and promote a Cause which was to
educate the human world, to quicken the children of Adam, and to enlighten
all mankind; and since to represent such a great Cause—a Cause which was
antagonistic to all the people of the world and all the nations and
kingdoms—meant that He would be killed and crucified, so Christ in
proclaiming His mission sacrificed His life. He regarded the cross as a
throne, the wound as a balm, the poison as honey and sugar. He arose to
teach and educate men, and so He sacrificed Himself to give the spirit of
life. He perished in body so as to quicken others by the spirit.

The second meaning of sacrifice is this: Christ was like a seed, and this
seed sacrificed its own form so that the tree might grow and develop.
Although the form of the seed was destroyed, its reality became apparent
in perfect majesty and beauty in the form of a tree.

The position of Christ was that of absolute perfection; He made His divine
perfections shine like the sun upon all believing souls, and the bounties
of the light shone and radiated in the reality of men. This is why He
says: “I am the bread which descended from heaven; whosoever shall eat of
this bread will not die”(101)—that is to say, that whosoever shall partake
of this divine food will attain unto eternal life: that is, every one who
partakes of this bounty and receives these perfections will find eternal
life, will obtain preexistent favors, will be freed from the darkness of
error, and will be illuminated by the light of His guidance.

The form of the seed was sacrificed for the tree, but its perfections,
because of this sacrifice, became evident and apparent—the tree, the
branches, the leaves and the blossoms being concealed in the seed. When
the form of the seed was sacrificed, its perfections appeared in the
perfect form of leaves, blossoms and fruits.



30: ADAM AND EVE


Question.—What is the truth of the story of Adam, and His eating of the
fruit of the tree?

Answer.—In the Bible it is written that God put Adam in the garden of
Eden, to cultivate and take care of it, and said to Him: “Eat of every
tree of the garden except the tree of good and evil, for if You eat of
that, You will die.”(102) Then it is said that God caused Adam to sleep,
and He took one of His ribs and created woman in order that she might be
His companion. After that it is said the serpent induced the woman to eat
of the tree, saying: “God has forbidden you to eat of the tree in order
that your eyes may not be opened, and that you may not know good from
evil.”(103) Then Eve ate from the tree and gave unto Adam, Who also ate;
their eyes were opened, they found themselves naked, and they hid their
bodies with leaves. In consequence of this act they received the
reproaches of God. God said to Adam: “Hast Thou eaten of the forbidden
tree?” Adam answered: “Eve tempted Me, and I did eat.” God then reproved
Eve; Eve said: “The serpent tempted me, and I did eat.” For this the
serpent was cursed, and enmity was put between the serpent and Eve, and
between their descendants. And God said: “The man is become like unto Us,
knowing good and evil, and perhaps He will eat of the tree of life and
live forever.” So God guarded the tree of life.(104)

If we take this story in its apparent meaning, according to the
interpretation of the masses, it is indeed extraordinary. The intelligence
cannot accept it, affirm it, or imagine it; for such arrangements, such
details, such speeches and reproaches are far from being those of an
intelligent man, how much less of the Divinity—that Divinity Who has
organized this infinite universe in the most perfect form, and its
innumerable inhabitants with absolute system, strength and perfection.

We must reflect a little: if the literal meaning of this story were
attributed to a wise man, certainly all would logically deny that this
arrangement, this invention, could have emanated from an intelligent
being. Therefore, this story of Adam and Eve who ate from the tree, and
their expulsion from Paradise, must be thought of simply as a symbol. It
contains divine mysteries and universal meanings, and it is capable of
marvelous explanations. Only those who are initiated into mysteries, and
those who are near the Court of the All-Powerful, are aware of these
secrets. Hence these verses of the Bible have numerous meanings.

We will explain one of them, and we will say: Adam signifies the heavenly
spirit of Adam, and Eve His human soul. For in some passages in the Holy
Books where women are mentioned, they represent the soul of man. The tree
of good and evil signifies the human world; for the spiritual and divine
world is purely good and absolutely luminous, but in the human world light
and darkness, good and evil, exist as opposite conditions.

The meaning of the serpent is attachment to the human world. This
attachment of the spirit to the human world led the soul and spirit of
Adam from the world of freedom to the world of bondage and caused Him to
turn from the Kingdom of Unity to the human world. When the soul and
spirit of Adam entered the human world, He came out from the paradise of
freedom and fell into the world of bondage. From the height of purity and
absolute goodness, He entered into the world of good and evil.

The tree of life is the highest degree of the world of existence: the
position of the Word of God, and the supreme Manifestation. Therefore,
that position has been preserved; and, at the appearance of the most noble
supreme Manifestation, it became apparent and clear. For the position of
Adam, with regard to the appearance and manifestation of the divine
perfections, was in the embryonic condition; the position of Christ was
the condition of maturity and the age of reason; and the rising of the
Greatest Luminary(105) was the condition of the perfection of the essence
and of the qualities. This is why in the supreme Paradise the tree of life
is the expression for the center of absolutely pure sanctity—that is to
say, of the divine supreme Manifestation. From the days of Adam until the
days of Christ, They spoke little of eternal life and the heavenly
universal perfections. This tree of life was the position of the Reality
of Christ; through His manifestation it was planted and adorned with
everlasting fruits.

Now consider how far this meaning conforms to the reality. For the spirit
and the soul of Adam, when they were attached to the human world, passed
from the world of freedom into the world of bondage, and His descendants
continued in bondage. This attachment of the soul and spirit to the human
world, which is sin, was inherited by the descendants of Adam, and is the
serpent which is always in the midst of, and at enmity with, the spirits
and the descendants of Adam. That enmity continues and endures. For
attachment to the world has become the cause of the bondage of spirits,
and this bondage is identical with sin, which has been transmitted from
Adam to His posterity. It is because of this attachment that men have been
deprived of essential spirituality and exalted position.

When the sanctified breezes of Christ and the holy light of the Greatest
Luminary(106) were spread abroad, the human realities—that is to say,
those who turned toward the Word of God and received the profusion of His
bounties—were saved from this attachment and sin, obtained everlasting
life, were delivered from the chains of bondage, and attained to the world
of liberty. They were freed from the vices of the human world, and were
blessed by the virtues of the Kingdom. This is the meaning of the words of
Christ, “I gave My blood for the life of the world”(107)—that is to say, I
have chosen all these troubles, these sufferings, calamities, and even the
greatest martyrdom, to attain this object, the remission of sins (that is,
the detachment of spirits from the human world, and their attraction to
the divine world) in order that souls may arise who will be the very
essence of the guidance of mankind, and the manifestations of the
perfections of the Supreme Kingdom.

Observe that if, according to the suppositions of the People of the
Book,(108) the meaning were taken in its exoteric sense, it would be
absolute injustice and complete predestination. If Adam sinned by going
near the forbidden tree, what was the sin of the glorious Abraham, and
what was the error of Moses the Interlocutor? What was the crime of Noah
the Prophet? What was the transgression of Joseph the Truthful? What was
the iniquity of the Prophets of God, and what was the trespass of John the
Chaste? Would the justice of God have allowed these enlightened
Manifestations, on account of the sin of Adam, to find torment in hell
until Christ came and by the sacrifice of Himself saved them from
excruciating tortures? Such an idea is beyond every law and rule and
cannot be accepted by any intelligent person.

No; it means what has already been said: Adam is the spirit of Adam, and
Eve is His soul; the tree is the human world, and the serpent is that
attachment to this world which constitutes sin, and which has infected the
descendants of Adam. Christ by His holy breezes saved men from this
attachment and freed them from this sin. The sin in Adam is relative to
His position. Although from this attachment there proceed results,
nevertheless, attachment to the earthly world, in relation to attachment
to the spiritual world, is considered as a sin. The good deeds of the
righteous are the sins of the Near Ones. This is established. So bodily
power is not only defective in relation to spiritual power; it is weakness
in comparison. In the same way, physical life, in comparison with eternal
life in the Kingdom, is considered as death. So Christ called the physical
life death, and said: “Let the dead bury their dead.”(109) Though those
souls possessed physical life, yet in His eyes that life was death.

This is one of the meanings of the biblical story of Adam. Reflect until
you discover the others.

Salutations be upon you.



31: EXPLANATION OF BLASPHEMY AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT


Question.—“Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall
be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not
be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of
man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy
Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the
world to come.”—(Matt. 12:31–32)

Answer.—The holy realities of the Manifestations of God have two spiritual
positions. One is the place of manifestation, which can be compared to the
position of the globe of the sun, and the other is the resplendency of the
manifestation, which is like its light and radiance; these are the
perfections of God—in other words, the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit is
the divine bounties and lordly perfections, and these divine perfections
are as the rays and heat of the sun. The brilliant rays of the sun
constitute its being, and without them it would not be the sun. If the
manifestation and the reflection of the divine perfections were not in
Christ, Jesus would not be the Messiah. He is a Manifestation because He
reflects in Himself the divine perfections. The Prophets of God are
manifestations for the lordly perfections—that is, the Holy Spirit is
apparent in Them.

If a soul remains far from the manifestation, he may yet be awakened; for
he did not recognize the manifestation of the divine perfections. But if
he loathe the divine perfections themselves—in other words, the Holy
Spirit—it is evident that he is like a bat which hates the light.

This detestation of the light has no remedy and cannot be forgiven—that is
to say, it is impossible for him to come near unto God. This lamp is a
lamp because of its light; without the light it would not be a lamp. Now
if a soul has an aversion for the light of the lamp, he is, as it were,
blind, and cannot comprehend the light; and blindness is the cause of
everlasting banishment from God.

It is evident that the souls receive grace from the bounty of the Holy
Spirit which appears in the Manifestations of God, and not from the
personality of the Manifestation. Therefore, if a soul does not receive
grace from the bounties of the Holy Spirit, he remains deprived of the
divine gift, and the banishment itself puts the soul beyond the reach of
pardon.

This is why many people who were the enemies of the Manifestations, and
who did not recognize Them, when once they had known Them became Their
friends. So enmity toward the Manifestation did not become the cause of
perpetual banishment, for they who indulged in it were the enemies of the
light-holders, not knowing that They were the shining lights of God. They
were not the enemies of the light, and when once they understood that the
light-holder was the place of manifestation of the light, they became
sincere friends of it.

The meaning is this: to remain far from the light-holder does not entail
everlasting banishment, for one may become awakened and vigilant; but
enmity toward the light is the cause of everlasting banishment, and for
this there is no remedy.



32: EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE “FOR MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN”


Question.—In the Gospel Christ said: “Many are called, but few are
chosen,”(110) and in the Qur’án it is written: “He will confer particular
mercy on whom He pleaseth.” What is the wisdom of this?

Answer.—Know that the order and the perfection of the whole universe
require that existence should appear in numberless forms. For existing
beings could not be embodied in only one degree, one station, one kind,
one species and one class; undoubtedly, the difference of degrees and
distinction of forms, and the variety of genus and species, are
necessary—that is to say, the degree of mineral, vegetable, animal
substances, and of man, are inevitable; for the world could not be
arranged, adorned, organized and perfected with man alone. In the same
way, with only animals, only plants or only minerals, this world could not
show forth beautiful scenery, exact organization and exquisite adornment.
Without doubt it is because of the varieties of degrees, stations, species
and classes that existence becomes resplendent with utmost perfection.

For example, if this tree were entirely fruit, the vegetable perfections
could not be attained; for leaves, blossoms and fruits are all necessary
so that the tree may be adorned with utmost beauty and perfection.

In the same way consider the body of man. It must be composed of different
organs, parts and members. Human beauty and perfection require the
existence of the ear, the eye, the brain and even that of the nails and
hair; if man were all brain, eyes or ears, it would be equivalent to
imperfection. So the absence of hair, eyelashes, teeth and nails would be
an absolute defect, though in comparison with the eye they are without
feeling, and in this resemble the mineral and plant; but their absence in
the body of man is necessarily faulty and displeasing.

As the degrees of existence are different and various, some beings are
higher in the scale than others. Therefore, it is by the will and wish of
God that some creatures are chosen for the highest degree, as man, and
some others are placed in the middle degree, as the vegetable, and some
are left in the lowest degree, like the mineral.

It is from the bounty of God that man is selected for the highest degree;
and the differences which exist between men in regard to spiritual
progress and heavenly perfections are also due to the choice of the
Compassionate One. For faith, which is life eternal, is the sign of
bounty, and not the result of justice. The flame of the fire of love, in
this world of earth and water, comes through the power of attraction and
not by effort and striving. Nevertheless, by effort and perseverance,
knowledge, science and other perfections can be acquired; but only the
light of the Divine Beauty can transport and move the spirits through the
force of attraction. Therefore, it is said: “Many are called, but few are
chosen.”(111)

But the material beings are not despised, judged and held responsible for
their own degree and station. For example, mineral, vegetable and animal
in their various degrees are acceptable; but if in their own degree they
remain imperfect, they are blamable, the degree itself being purely
perfect.

The differences among mankind are of two sorts: one is a difference of
station, and this difference is not blameworthy. The other is a difference
of faith and assurance; the loss of these is blameworthy, for then the
soul is overwhelmed by his desires and passions, which deprive him of
these blessings and prevent him from feeling the power of attraction of
the love of God. Though that man is praiseworthy and acceptable in his
station, yet as he is deprived of the perfections of that degree, he will
become a source of imperfections, for which he is held responsible.(112)



33: THE “RETURN” SPOKEN OF BY THE PROPHETS


Question.—Will you explain the subject of Return?

Answer.—Bahá’u’lláh has explained this question fully and clearly in the
Íqán.(113) Read it, and the truth of this subject will become apparent.
But since you have asked about it, I will explain it briefly. We will
begin to elucidate it from the Gospel, for there it is plainly said that
when John, the son of Zacharias, appeared and gave to men the glad tidings
of the Kingdom of God, they asked him, “Who art thou? Art thou the
promised Messiah?” He replied, “I am not the Messiah.” Then they asked
him, “Art thou Elijah?” He said, “I am not.”(114) These words prove and
show that John, the son of Zacharias, was not the promised Elias. But on
the day of the transfiguration on Mount Tabor Christ said plainly that
John, the son of Zacharias, was the promised Elias.

In chapter 9, verses 11–13, of the Gospel of Mark, it is said: “And they
asked Him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And He
answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all
things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that He must suffer many
things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed
come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written
of him.”

In chapter 17, verse 13, of Matthew, it is said: “Then the disciples
understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist.”

They asked John the Baptist, “Are you Elias?” He answered, “No, I am not,”
although it is said in the Gospel that John was the promised Elias, and
Christ also said so clearly.(115) Then if John was Elias, why did he say,
“I am not”? And if he was not Elias, why did Christ say that he was?

The explanation is this: not the personality, but the reality of the
perfections, is meant—that is to say, the same perfections that were in
Elias existed in John the Baptist and were exactly realized in him.
Therefore, John the Baptist was the promised Elias. In this case not the
essence,(116) but the qualities, are regarded. For example, there was a
flower last year, and this year there is also a flower; I say the flower
of last year has returned. Now, I do not mean that same flower in its
exact individuality has come back; but as this flower has the same
qualities as that of last year—as it has the same perfume, delicacy, color
and form—I say the flower of last year has returned, and this flower is
the former flower. When spring comes, we say last year’s spring has come
back because all that was found in last year’s spring exists in this
spring. That is why Christ said, “You will see all that happened in the
days of the former Prophets.”

We will give another illustration. The seed of last year is sown, branches
and leaves grow forth, blossoms and fruits appear, and all has again
returned to seed. When this second seed is planted, a tree will grow from
it, and once more those branches, leaves, blossoms and fruits will return,
and that tree will appear in perfection. As the beginning was a seed and
the end is a seed, we say that the seed has returned. When we look at the
substance of the tree, it is another substance, but when we look at the
blossoms, leaves and fruits, the same fragrance, delicacy and taste are
produced. Therefore, the perfection of the tree has returned a second
time.

In the same way, if we regard the return of the individual, it is another
individual; but if we regard the qualities and perfections, the same have
returned. Therefore, when Christ said, “This is Elias,” He meant: this
person is a manifestation of the bounty, the perfections, the character,
the qualities and the virtues of Elias. John the Baptist said, “I am not
Elias.” Christ considered the qualities, the perfections, the character
and the virtues of both, and John regarded his substance and
individuality. It is like this lamp: it was here last night, and tonight
it is also lighted, and tomorrow night it will also shine. We say that the
lamp of this night is the same light as that of last night, and that it
has returned. It refers to the light, and not to the oil, the wick or the
holder.

This subject is fully and clearly explained in the Kitáb-i-Íqán.



34: PETER’S CONFESSION OF FAITH


Question.—In the Gospel of St. Matthew it is said: “Thou art Peter, and
upon this rock I will build My church.”(117) What is the meaning of this
verse?

Answer.—This utterance of Christ is a confirmation of the statement of
Peter, when Christ asked: Whom do you believe Me to be? and Peter
answered: I believe that “Thou art the Son of the living God.” Then Christ
said to him: “Thou art Peter”(118)—for Cephas in Aramaic means rock—“and
upon this rock I will build My church.” For the others in answer to Christ
said that He was Elias, and some said John the Baptist, and some others
Jeremias or one of the Prophets.(119)

Christ wished by suggestion, or an allusion, to confirm the words of
Peter; so on account of the suitability of his name, Peter, He said: “and
upon this rock I will build My church,” meaning, thy belief that Christ is
the Son of the living God will be the foundation of the Religion of God,
and upon this belief the foundation of the church of God—which is the Law
of God—shall be established.

The existence of the tomb of Peter in Rome is doubtful; it is not
authenticated. Some say it is in Antioch.

Moreover, let us compare the lives of some of the Popes with the religion
of Christ. Christ, hungry and without shelter, ate herbs in the
wilderness, and was unwilling to hurt the feelings of anyone. The Pope
sits in a carriage covered with gold and passes his time in the utmost
splendor, amidst such pleasures and luxuries, such riches and adoration,
as kings have never had.

Christ hurt no one, but some of the Popes killed innocent people: refer to
history. How much blood the Popes have shed merely to retain temporal
power! For mere differences of opinion they arrested, imprisoned and slew
thousands of the servants of the world of humanity and learned men who had
discovered the secrets of nature. To what a degree they opposed the truth!

Reflect upon the instructions of Christ, and investigate the habits and
customs of the Popes. Consider: is there any resemblance between the
instructions of Christ and the manner of government of the Popes? We do
not like to criticize, but the history of the Vatican is very
extraordinary. The purport of our argument is this, that the instructions
of Christ are one thing, and the manner of the Papal government is quite
another; they do not agree. See how many Protestants have been killed by
the order of the Popes, how many tyrannies and oppressions have been
countenanced, and how many punishments and tortures have been inflicted!
Can any of the sweet fragrances of Christ be detected in these actions?
No! in the name of God! These people did not obey Christ, while Saint
Barbara, whose picture is before us, did obey Christ, and followed in His
footsteps, and put His commands into practice. Among the Popes there are
also some blessed souls who followed in the footsteps of Christ,
particularly in the first centuries of the Christian era when temporal
things were lacking and the tests of God were severe. But when they came
into possession of governmental power, and worldly honor and prosperity
were gained, the Papal government entirely forgot Christ and was occupied
with temporal power, grandeur, comfort and luxuries. It killed people,
opposed the diffusion of learning, tormented the men of science,
obstructed the light of knowledge, and gave the order to slay and to
pillage. Thousands of souls, men of science and learning, and sinless
ones, perished in the prisons of Rome. With all these proceedings and
actions, how can the Vicarship of Christ be believed in?

The Papal See has constantly opposed knowledge; even in Europe it is
admitted that religion is the opponent of science, and that science is the
destroyer of the foundations of religion. While the religion of God is the
promoter of truth, the founder of science and knowledge, it is full of
goodwill for learned men; it is the civilizer of mankind, the discoverer
of the secrets of nature, and the enlightener of the horizons of the
world. Consequently, how can it be said to oppose knowledge? God forbid!
Nay, for God, knowledge is the most glorious gift of man and the most
noble of human perfections. To oppose knowledge is ignorant, and he who
detests knowledge and science is not a man, but rather an animal without
intelligence. For knowledge is light, life, felicity, perfection, beauty
and the means of approaching the Threshold of Unity. It is the honor and
glory of the world of humanity, and the greatest bounty of God. Knowledge
is identical with guidance, and ignorance is real error.

Happy are those who spend their days in gaining knowledge, in discovering
the secrets of nature, and in penetrating the subtleties of pure truth!
Woe to those who are contented with ignorance, whose hearts are gladdened
by thoughtless imitation, who have fallen into the lowest depths of
ignorance and foolishness, and who have wasted their lives!



35: PREDESTINATION


Question.—If God has knowledge of an action which will be performed by
someone, and it has been written on the Tablet of Fate, is it possible to
resist it?

Answer.—The foreknowledge of a thing is not the cause of its realization;
for the essential knowledge of God surrounds, in the same way, the
realities of things, before as well as after their existence, and it does
not become the cause of their existence. It is a perfection of God. But
that which was prophesied by the inspiration of God through the tongues of
the Prophets, concerning the appearance of the Promised One of the Bible,
was not the cause of the manifestation of Christ.

The hidden secrets of the future were revealed to the Prophets, and They
thus became acquainted with the future events which They announced. This
knowledge and these prophecies were not the cause of the occurrences. For
example, tonight everyone knows that after seven hours the sun will rise,
but this general foreknowledge does not cause the rising and appearance of
the sun.

Therefore, the knowledge of God in the realm of contingency does not
produce the forms of the things. On the contrary, it is purified from the
past, present and future. It is identical with the reality of the things;
it is not the cause of their occurrence.

In the same way, the record and the mention of a thing in the Book does
not become the cause of its existence. The Prophets, through the divine
inspiration, knew what would come to pass. For instance, through the
divine inspiration They knew that Christ would be martyred, and They
announced it. Now, was Their knowledge and information the cause of the
martyrdom of Christ? No; this knowledge is a perfection of the Prophets
and did not cause the martyrdom.

The mathematicians by astronomical calculations know that at a certain
time an eclipse of the moon or the sun will occur. Surely this discovery
does not cause the eclipse to take place. This is, of course, only an
analogy and not an exact image.



PART THREE: ON THE POWERS AND CONDITIONS OF THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD



36: THE FIVE ASPECTS OF SPIRIT


Know that, speaking generally, there are five divisions of the spirit.
First the vegetable spirit: this is a power which results from the
combination of elements and the mingling of substances by the decree of
the Supreme God, and from the influence, the effect and connection of
other existences. When these substances and elements are separated from
each other, the power of growth also ceases to exist. So, to use another
figure, electricity results from the combination of elements, and when
these elements are separated, the electric force is dispersed and lost.
Such is the vegetable spirit.

After this is the animal spirit, which also results from the mingling and
combination of elements. But this combination is more complete, and
through the decree of the Almighty Lord a perfect mingling is obtained,
and the animal spirit—in other words, the power of the senses—is produced.
It will perceive the reality of things from that which is seen and
visible, audible, edible, tangible, and that which can be smelled. After
the dissociation and decomposition of the combined elements this spirit
also will naturally disappear. It is like this lamp which you see: when
the oil and wick and fire are brought together, light is the result; but
when the oil is finished and the wick consumed, the light will also vanish
and be lost.

The human spirit may be likened to the bounty of the sun shining on a
mirror. The body of man, which is composed from the elements, is combined
and mingled in the most perfect form; it is the most solid construction,
the noblest combination, the most perfect existence. It grows and develops
through the animal spirit. This perfected body can be compared to a
mirror, and the human spirit to the sun. Nevertheless, if the mirror
breaks, the bounty of the sun continues; and if the mirror is destroyed or
ceases to exist, no harm will happen to the bounty of the sun, which is
everlasting. This spirit has the power of discovery; it encompasses all
things. All these wonderful signs, these scientific discoveries, great
enterprises and important historical events which you know are due to it.
From the realm of the invisible and hidden, through spiritual power, it
brought them to the plane of the visible. So man is upon the earth, yet he
makes discoveries in the heavens. From known realities—that is to say,
from the things which are known and visible—he discovers unknown things.
For example, man is in this hemisphere; but, like Columbus, through the
power of his reason he discovers another hemisphere—that is, America—which
was until then unknown. His body is heavy, but through the help of
vehicles which he invents, he is able to fly. He is slow of movement, but
by vehicles which he invents he travels to the East and West with extreme
rapidity. Briefly, this power embraces all things.

But the spirit of man has two aspects: one divine, one satanic—that is to
say, it is capable of the utmost perfection, or it is capable of the
utmost imperfection. If it acquires virtues, it is the most noble of the
existing beings; and if it acquires vices, it becomes the most degraded
existence.

The fourth degree of spirit is the heavenly spirit; it is the spirit of
faith and the bounty of God; it comes from the breath of the Holy Spirit,
and by the divine power it becomes the cause of eternal life. It is the
power which makes the earthly man heavenly, and the imperfect man perfect.
It makes the impure to be pure, the silent eloquent; it purifies and
sanctifies those made captive by carnal desires; it makes the ignorant
wise.

The fifth spirit is the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit is the mediator
between God and His creatures. It is like a mirror facing the sun. As the
pure mirror receives light from the sun and transmits this bounty to
others, so the Holy Spirit is the mediator of the Holy Light from the Sun
of Reality, which it gives to the sanctified realities. It is adorned with
all the divine perfections. Every time it appears, the world is renewed,
and a new cycle is founded. The body of the world of humanity puts on a
new garment. It can be compared to the spring; whenever it comes, the
world passes from one condition to another. Through the advent of the
season of spring the black earth and the fields and wildernesses will
become verdant and blooming, and all sorts of flowers and sweet-scented
herbs will grow; the trees will have new life, and new fruits will appear,
and a new cycle is founded. The appearance of the Holy Spirit is like
this. Whenever it appears, it renews the world of humanity and gives a new
spirit to the human realities: it arrays the world of existence in a
praiseworthy garment, dispels the darkness of ignorance, and causes the
radiation of the light of perfections. Christ with this power has renewed
this cycle; the heavenly spring with the utmost freshness and sweetness
spread its tent in the world of humanity, and the life-giving breeze
perfumed the nostrils of the enlightened ones.

In the same way, the appearance of Bahá’u’lláh was like a new springtime
which appeared with holy breezes, with the hosts of everlasting life, and
with heavenly power. It established the Throne of the Divine Kingdom in
the center of the world and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, revived
souls and established a new cycle.



37: THE DIVINITY CAN ONLY BE COMPREHENDED THROUGH THE DIVINE
MANIFESTATIONS


Question.—What connection has the Reality of Divinity with the Lordly
Rising-places and the Divine Dawning-points?

Answer.—Know that the Reality of Divinity or the substance of the Essence
of Oneness is pure sanctity and absolute holiness—that is to say, it is
sanctified and exempt from all praise. The whole of the supreme attributes
of the degrees of existence, in reference to this plane, are only
imaginations. It is invisible, incomprehensible, inaccessible, a pure
essence which cannot be described, for the Divine Essence surrounds all
things. Verily, that which surrounds is greater than the surrounded, and
the surrounded cannot contain that by which it is surrounded, nor
comprehend its reality. However far mind may progress, though it may reach
to the final degree of comprehension, the limit of understanding, it
beholds the divine signs and attributes in the world of creation and not
in the world of God. For the essence and the attributes of the Lord of
Unity are in the heights of sanctity, and for the minds and understandings
there is no way to approach that position. “The way is closed, and seeking
is forbidden.”

It is evident that the human understanding is a quality of the existence
of man, and that man is a sign of God: how can the quality of the sign
surround the creator of the sign?—that is to say, how can the
understanding, which is a quality of the existence of man, comprehend God?
Therefore, the Reality of the Divinity is hidden from all comprehension,
and concealed from the minds of all men. It is absolutely impossible to
ascend to that plane. We see that everything which is lower is powerless
to comprehend the reality of that which is higher. So the stone, the
earth, the tree, however much they may evolve, cannot comprehend the
reality of man and cannot imagine the powers of sight, of hearing, and of
the other senses, although they are all alike created. Therefore, how can
man, the created, understand the reality of the pure Essence of the
Creator? This plane is unapproachable by the understanding; no explanation
is sufficient for its comprehension, and there is no power to indicate it.
What has an atom of dust to do with the pure world, and what relation is
there between the limited mind and the infinite world? Minds are powerless
to comprehend God, and the souls become bewildered in explaining Him. “The
eyes see Him not, but He seeth the eyes. He is the Omniscient, the
Knower.”(120)

Consequently, with reference to this plane of existence, every statement
and elucidation is defective, all praise and all description are unworthy,
every conception is vain, and every meditation is futile. But for this
Essence of the essences, this Truth of truths, this Mystery of mysteries,
there are reflections, auroras, appearances and resplendencies in the
world of existence. The dawning-place of these splendors, the place of
these reflections, and the appearance of these manifestations are the Holy
Dawning-places, the Universal Realities and the Divine Beings, Who are the
true mirrors of the sanctified Essence of God. All the perfections, the
bounties, the splendors which come from God are visible and evident in the
Reality of the Holy Manifestations, like the sun which is resplendent in a
clear polished mirror with all its perfections and bounties. If it be said
that the mirrors are the manifestations of the sun and the dawning-places
of the rising star, this does not mean that the sun has descended from the
height of its sanctity and become incorporated in the mirror, nor that the
Unlimited Reality is limited to this place of appearance. God forbid! This
is the belief of the adherents of anthropomorphism. No; all the praises,
the descriptions and exaltations refer to the Holy Manifestations—that is
to say, all the descriptions, the qualities, the names and the attributes
which we mention return to the Divine Manifestations; but as no one has
attained to the reality of the Essence of Divinity, so no one is able to
describe, explain, praise or glorify it. Therefore, all that the human
reality knows, discovers and understands of the names, the attributes and
the perfections of God refer to these Holy Manifestations. There is no
access to anything else: “the way is closed, and seeking is forbidden.”

Nevertheless, we speak of the names and attributes of the Divine Reality,
and we praise Him by attributing to Him sight, hearing, power, life and
knowledge. We affirm these names and attributes, not to prove the
perfections of God, but to deny that He is capable of imperfections. When
we look at the existing world, we see that ignorance is imperfection and
knowledge is perfection; therefore, we say that the sanctified Essence of
God is wisdom. Weakness is imperfection, and power is perfection;
consequently, we say that the sanctified Essence of God is the acme of
power. It is not that we can comprehend His knowledge, His sight, His
power and life, for it is beyond our comprehension; for the essential
names and attributes of God are identical with His Essence, and His
Essence is above all comprehension. If the attributes are not identical
with the Essence, there must also be a multiplicity of preexistences, and
differences between the attributes and the Essence must also exist; and as
Preexistence is necessary, therefore, the sequence of preexistences would
become infinite. This is an evident error.

Accordingly all these attributes, names, praises and eulogies apply to the
Places of Manifestation; and all that we imagine and suppose beside them
is mere imagination, for we have no means of comprehending that which is
invisible and inaccessible. This is why it is said: “All that you have
distinguished through the illusion of your imagination in your subtle
mental images is but a creation like unto yourself, and returns to
you.”(121) It is clear that if we wish to imagine the Reality of Divinity,
this imagination is the surrounded, and we are the surrounding one; and it
is sure that the one who surrounds is greater than the surrounded. From
this it is certain and evident that if we imagine a Divine Reality outside
of the Holy Manifestations, it is pure imagination, for there is no way to
approach the Reality of Divinity which is not cut off to us, and all that
we imagine is mere supposition.

Therefore, reflect that different peoples of the world are revolving
around imaginations and are worshipers of the idols of thoughts and
conjectures. They are not aware of this; they consider their imaginations
to be the Reality which is withdrawn from all comprehension and purified
from all descriptions. They regard themselves as the people of Unity, and
the others as worshipers of idols; but idols at least have a mineral
existence, while the idols of thoughts and the imaginations of man are but
fancies; they have not even mineral existence. “Take heed ye who are
endued with discernment.”(122)

Know that the attributes of perfection, the splendor of the divine
bounties, and the lights of inspiration are visible and evident in all the
Holy Manifestations; but the glorious Word of God, Christ, and the
Greatest Name, Bahá’u’lláh, are manifestations and evidences which are
beyond imagination, for They possess all the perfections of the former
Manifestations; and more than that, They possess some perfections which
make the other Manifestations dependent upon Them. So all the Prophets of
Israel were centers of inspiration; Christ also was a receiver of
inspiration, but what a difference between the inspiration of the Word of
God and the revelations of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Elijah!

Reflect that light is the expression of the vibrations of the etheric
matter: the nerves of the eye are affected by these vibrations, and sight
is produced. The light of the lamp exists through the vibration of the
etheric matter; so also does that of the sun, but what a difference
between the light of the sun and that of the stars or the lamp!

The spirit of man appears and is manifest in the embryonic condition, and
also in that of childhood and of maturity, and it is resplendent and
evident in the condition of perfection. The spirit is one, but in the
embryonic condition the power of sight and of hearing is lacking. In the
state of maturity and perfection it appears in the utmost splendor and
brilliance. In the same way the seed in the beginning becomes leaves and
is the place where the vegetable spirit appears; in the condition of fruit
it manifests the same spirit—that is to say, the power of growth appears
in the utmost perfection; but what a difference between the condition of
the leaves and that of the fruit! For from the fruit a hundred thousand
leaves appear, though they all grow and develop through the same vegetable
spirit. Notice the difference between the virtues and perfections of
Christ, the splendors and brilliance of Bahá’u’lláh, and the virtues of
the Prophets of Israel, such as Ezekiel or Samuel. All were the
manifestations of inspiration, but between them there is an infinite
difference. Salutations!



38: THE THREE STATIONS OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS


Know that the Holy Manifestations, though They have the degrees of endless
perfections, yet, speaking generally, have only three stations. The first
station is the physical; the second station is the human, which is that of
the rational soul; the third is that of the divine appearance and the
heavenly splendor.

The physical station is phenomenal; it is composed of elements, and
necessarily everything that is composed is subject to decomposition. It is
not possible that a composition should not be disintegrated.

The second is the station of the rational soul, which is the human
reality. This also is phenomenal, and the Holy Manifestations share it
with all mankind.

Know that, although the human soul has existed on the earth for prolonged
times and ages, yet it is phenomenal. As it is a divine sign, when once it
has come into existence, it is eternal. The spirit of man has a beginning,
but it has no end; it continues eternally. In the same way the species
existing on this earth are phenomenal, for it is established that there
was a time when these species did not exist on the surface of the earth.
Moreover, the earth has not always existed, but the world of existence has
always been, for the universe is not limited to this terrestrial globe.
The meaning of this is that, although human souls are phenomenal, they are
nevertheless immortal, everlasting and perpetual; for the world of things
is the world of imperfection in comparison with that of man, and the world
of man is the world of perfection in comparison with that of things. When
imperfections reach the station of perfection, they become eternal.(123)
This is an example of which you must comprehend the meaning.

The third station is that of the divine appearance and heavenly splendor:
it is the Word of God, the Eternal Bounty, the Holy Spirit. It has neither
beginning nor end, for these things are related to the world of
contingencies and not to the divine world. For God the end is the same
thing as the beginning. So the reckoning of days, weeks, months and years,
of yesterday and today, is connected with the terrestrial globe; but in
the sun there is no such thing—there is neither yesterday, today nor
tomorrow, neither months nor years: all are equal. In the same way the
Word of God is purified from all these conditions and is exempt from the
boundaries, the laws and the limits of the world of contingency.
Therefore, the reality of prophethood, which is the Word of God and the
perfect state of manifestation, did not have any beginning and will not
have any end; its rising is different from all others and is like that of
the sun. For example, its dawning in the sign of Christ was with the
utmost splendor and radiance, and this is eternal and everlasting. See how
many conquering kings there have been, how many statesmen and princes,
powerful organizers, all of whom have disappeared, whereas the breezes of
Christ are still blowing; His light is still shining; His melody is still
resounding; His standard is still waving; His armies are still fighting;
His heavenly voice is still sweetly melodious; His clouds are still
showering gems; His lightning is still flashing; His reflection is still
clear and brilliant; His splendor is still radiating and luminous; and it
is the same with those souls who are under His protection and are shining
with His light.

Then it is evident that the Manifestations possess three conditions: the
physical condition, the condition of the rational soul, and the condition
of the divine appearance and heavenly splendor. The physical condition
will certainly become decomposed, but the condition of the rational soul,
though it has a beginning, has no end: nay, it is endowed with everlasting
life. But the Holy Reality, of which Christ says, “The Father is in the
Son,”(124) has neither beginning nor end. When beginning is spoken of, it
signifies the state of manifesting; and, symbolically, the condition of
silence is compared to sleep. For example, a man is sleeping—when he
begins to speak, he is awake—but it is always the same individual, whether
he be asleep or awake; no difference has occurred in his station, his
elevation, his glory, his reality or his nature. The state of silence is
compared to sleep, and that of manifestation to wakefulness. A man
sleeping or waking is the same man; sleep is one state, and wakefulness is
another. The time of silence is compared to sleep, and manifestation and
guidance are compared to wakefulness.

In the Gospel it is said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God.”(125) Then it is evident and clear that Christ did not reach to
the station of Messiahship and its perfections at the time of baptism,
when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the likeness of a dove. Nay,
the Word of God from all eternity has always been, and will be, in the
exaltation of sanctification.



39: THE HUMAN CONDITION AND THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE DIVINE
MANIFESTATIONS


We said that the Manifestations have three planes. First, the physical
reality, which depends upon the body; second, the individual reality, that
is to say, the rational soul; third, the divine appearance, which is the
divine perfections, the cause of the life of existence, of the education
of souls, of the guidance of people, and of the enlightenment of the
contingent world.

The physical state is the human state which perishes because it is
composed of elements, and all that is composed of elements will
necessarily be decomposed and dispersed.

But the individual reality of the Manifestations of God is a holy reality,
and for that reason it is sanctified and, in that which concerns its
nature and quality, is distinguished from all other things. It is like the
sun, which by its essential nature produces light and cannot be compared
to the moon, just as the particles that compose the globe of the sun
cannot be compared with those which compose the moon. The particles and
organization of the former produce rays, but the particles of which the
moon is composed do not produce rays but need to borrow light. So other
human realities are those souls who, like the moon, take light from the
sun; but that Holy Reality is luminous in Himself.

The third plane of that Being(126) is the Divine Bounty, the splendor of
the Preexistent Beauty, and the radiance of the light of the Almighty. The
individual realities of the Divine Manifestations have no separation from
the Bounty of God and the Lordly Splendor. In the same way, the orb of the
sun has no separation from the light. Therefore, it may be said that the
ascension of the Holy Manifestation is simply the leaving of this
elemental form. For example, if a lamp illumines this niche, and if its
light ceases to illuminate it because the niche is destroyed, the bounty
of the lamp is not cut off. Briefly, in the Holy Manifestations the
Preexistent Bounty is like the light, the individuality is represented by
the glass globe, and the human body is like the niche: if the niche is
destroyed, the lamp continues to burn. The Divine Manifestations are so
many different mirrors because They have a special individuality, but that
which is reflected in the mirrors is one sun. It is clear that the reality
of Christ is different from that of Moses.

Verily, from the beginning that Holy Reality(127) is conscious of the
secret of existence, and from the age of childhood signs of greatness
appear and are visible in Him. Therefore, how can it be that with all
these bounties and perfections He should have no consciousness?

We have mentioned that the Holy Manifestations have three planes. The
physical condition, the individual reality, and the center of the
appearance of perfection: it is like the sun, its heat and its light.
Other individuals have the physical plane, the plane of the rational
soul—the spirit and mind.(128) So the saying, “I was asleep, and the
divine breezes passed over Me, and I awoke,” is like Christ’s saying, “The
body is sad, and the spirit is happy,” or again, “I am afflicted,” or “I
am at ease,” or “I am troubled”—these refer to the physical condition and
have no reference to the individual reality nor to the manifestation of
the Divine Reality. Thus consider what thousands of vicissitudes can
happen to the body of man, but the spirit is not affected by them; it may
even be that some members of the body are entirely crippled, but the
essence of the mind remains and is everlasting. A thousand accidents may
happen to a garment, but for the wearer of it there is no danger. These
words which Bahá’u’lláh said, “I was asleep, and the breeze passed over
Me, and awakened Me,” refer to the body.

In the world of God there is no past, no future and no present; all are
one. So when Christ said, “In the beginning was the Word”(129)—that means
it was, is and shall be; for in the world of God there is no time. Time
has sway over creatures but not over God. For example, in the prayer He
says, “Hallowed be Thy name”; the meaning is that Thy name was, is and
shall be hallowed.(130) Morning, noon and evening are related to this
earth, but in the sun there is neither morning, noon nor evening.



40: THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS


Question.—One of the powers possessed by the Divine Manifestations is
knowledge. To what extent is it limited?

Answer.—Knowledge is of two kinds. One is subjective and the other
objective knowledge—that is to say, an intuitive knowledge and a knowledge
derived from perception.

The knowledge of things which men universally have is gained by reflection
or by evidence—that is to say, either by the power of the mind the
conception of an object is formed, or from beholding an object the form is
produced in the mirror of the heart. The circle of this knowledge is very
limited because it depends upon effort and attainment.

But the second sort of knowledge, which is the knowledge of being, is
intuitive; it is like the cognizance and consciousness that man has of
himself.

For example, the mind and the spirit of man are cognizant of the
conditions and states of the members and component parts of the body, and
are aware of all the physical sensations; in the same way, they are aware
of their power, of their feelings, and of their spiritual conditions. This
is the knowledge of being which man realizes and perceives, for the spirit
surrounds the body and is aware of its sensations and powers. This
knowledge is not the outcome of effort and study. It is an existing thing;
it is an absolute gift.

Since the Sanctified Realities, the supreme Manifestations of God,
surround the essence and qualities of the creatures, transcend and contain
existing realities and understand all things, therefore, Their knowledge
is divine knowledge, and not acquired—that is to say, it is a holy bounty;
it is a divine revelation.

We will mention an example expressly for the purpose of comprehending this
subject. The most noble being on the earth is man. He embraces the animal,
vegetable and mineral kingdoms—that is to say, these conditions are
contained in him to such an extent that he is the possessor of these
conditions and states; he is aware of their mysteries and of the secrets
of their existence. This is simply an example and not an analogy. Briefly,
the supreme Manifestations of God are aware of the reality of the
mysteries of beings. Therefore, They establish laws which are suitable and
adapted to the state of the world of man, for religion is the essential
connection which proceeds from the realities of things. The
Manifestation—that is, the Holy Lawgiver—unless He is aware of the
realities of beings, will not comprehend the essential connection which
proceeds from the realities of things, and He will certainly not be able
to establish a religion conformable to the facts and suited to the
conditions. The Prophets of God, the supreme Manifestations, are like
skilled physicians, and the contingent world is like the body of man: the
divine laws are the remedy and treatment. Consequently, the doctor must be
aware of, and know, all the members and parts, as well as the constitution
and state of the patient, so that he can prescribe a medicine which will
be beneficial against the violent poison of the disease. In reality the
doctor deduces from the disease itself the treatment which is suited to
the patient, for he diagnoses the malady, and afterward prescribes the
remedy for the illness. Until the malady be discovered, how can the remedy
and treatment be prescribed? The doctor then must have a thorough
knowledge of the constitution, members, organs and state of the patient,
and be acquainted with all diseases and all remedies, in order to
prescribe a fitting medicine.

Religion, then, is the necessary connection which emanates from the
reality of things; and as the supreme Manifestations of God are aware of
the mysteries of beings, therefore, They understand this essential
connection, and by this knowledge establish the Law of God.



41: THE UNIVERSAL CYCLES


Question.—What is the real explanation of the cycles which occur in the
world of existence?

Answer.—Each one of the luminous bodies in this limitless firmament has a
cycle of revolution which is of a different duration, and every one
revolves in its own orbit, and again begins a new cycle. So the earth,
every three hundred and sixty-five days, five hours, forty-eight minutes
and a fraction, completes a revolution; and then it begins a new
cycle—that is to say, the first cycle is again renewed. In the same way,
for the whole universe, whether for the heavens or for men, there are
cycles of great events, of important facts and occurrences. When a cycle
is ended, a new cycle begins; and the old one, on account of the great
events which take place, is completely forgotten, and not a trace or
record of it will remain. As you see, we have no records of twenty
thousand years ago, although we have before proved by argument that life
on this earth is very ancient. It is not one hundred thousand, or two
hundred thousand, or one million or two million years old; it is very
ancient, and the ancient records and traces are entirely obliterated.

Each of the Divine Manifestations has likewise a cycle, and during the
cycle His laws and commandments prevail and are performed. When His cycle
is completed by the appearance of a new Manifestation, a new cycle begins.
In this way cycles begin, end and are renewed, until a universal cycle is
completed in the world, when important events and great occurrences will
take place which entirely efface every trace and every record of the past;
then a new universal cycle begins in the world, for this universe has no
beginning. We have before stated proofs and evidences concerning this
subject; there is no need of repetition.

Briefly, we say a universal cycle in the world of existence signifies a
long duration of time, and innumerable and incalculable periods and
epochs. In such a cycle the Manifestations appear with splendor in the
realm of the visible until a great and supreme Manifestation makes the
world the center of His radiance. His appearance causes the world to
attain to maturity, and the extension of His cycle is very great.
Afterward, other Manifestations will arise under His shadow, Who according
to the needs of the time will renew certain commandments relating to
material questions and affairs, while remaining under His shadow.

We are in the cycle which began with Adam, and its supreme Manifestation
is Bahá’u’lláh.



42: THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS


Question.—What is the degree of the power and the perfections of the
Thrones of Reality, the Manifestations of God, and what is the limit of
Their influence?

Answer.—Consider the world of existence—that is to say, the world of
material things. The solar system is dark and obscure, and in it the sun
is the center of light, and all the planets of the system revolve around
its might and are partakers of its bounty. The sun is the cause of life
and illumination, and the means of the growth and development of all the
beings of the solar system; for without the bounty of the sun no living
being could exist: all would be dark and destroyed. Therefore, it is
evident and clear that the sun is the center of light and the cause of the
life of the beings of the solar system.

In like manner, the Holy Manifestations of God are the centers of the
light of reality, of the source of mysteries, and of the bounties of love.
They are resplendent in the world of hearts and thoughts, and shower
eternal graces upon the world of spirits; They give spiritual life and are
shining with the light of realities and meanings. The enlightenment of the
world of thought comes from these centers of light and sources of
mysteries. Without the bounty of the splendor and the instructions of
these Holy Beings the world of souls and thoughts would be opaque
darkness. Without the irrefutable teachings of those sources of mysteries
the human world would become the pasture of animal appetites and
qualities, the existence of everything would be unreal, and there would be
no true life. That is why it is said in the Gospel: “In the beginning was
the Word,” meaning that it became the cause of all life.(131)

Now consider the influence of the sun upon the earthly beings, what signs
and results become evident and clear from its nearness and remoteness,
from its rising or its setting. At one time it is autumn, at another time
spring; or again it is summer or winter. When the sun passes the line of
the equator, the life-giving spring will become manifest in splendor, and
when it is in the summer solstice, the fruits will attain to the acme of
perfection, grains and plants will yield their produce, and earthly beings
will attain their most complete development and growth.

In like manner, when the Holy Manifestation of God, Who is the sun of the
world of His creation, shines upon the worlds of spirits, of thoughts and
of hearts, then the spiritual spring and new life appear, the power of the
wonderful springtime becomes visible, and marvelous benefits are apparent.
As you have observed, at the time of the appearance of each Manifestation
of God extraordinary progress has occurred in the world of minds, thoughts
and spirits. For example, in this divine age see what development has been
attained in the world of minds and thoughts, and it is now only the
beginning of its dawn. Before long you will see that new bounties and
divine teachings will illuminate this dark world and will transform these
sad regions into the paradise of Eden.

If we were to explain the signs and bounties of each of the Holy
Manifestations, it would take too long. Think and reflect upon it
yourself, and then you will attain to the truth of this subject.



43: THE TWO CLASSES OF PROPHETS


Question.—How many kinds of Prophets are there?

Answer.—Universally, the Prophets are of two kinds. One are the
independent Prophets Who are followed; the other kind are not independent
and are themselves followers.

The independent Prophets are the lawgivers and the founders of a new
cycle. Through Their appearance the world puts on a new garment, the
foundations of religion are established, and a new book is revealed.
Without an intermediary They receive bounty from the Reality of the
Divinity, and Their illumination is an essential illumination. They are
like the sun which is luminous in itself: the light is its essential
necessity; it does not receive light from any other star. These
Dawning-places of the morn of Unity are the sources of bounty and the
mirrors of the Essence of Reality.

The other Prophets are followers and promoters, for they are branches and
not independent; they receive the bounty of the independent Prophets, and
they profit by the light of the Guidance of the universal Prophets. They
are like the moon, which is not luminous and radiant in itself, but
receives its light from the sun.

The Manifestations of universal Prophethood Who appeared independently
are, for example, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Muḥammad, the Báb and
Bahá’u’lláh. But the others who are followers and promoters are like
Solomon, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. For the independent Prophets
are founders; They establish a new religion and make new creatures of men;
They change the general morals, promote new customs and rules, renew the
cycle and the Law. Their appearance is like the season of spring, which
arrays all earthly beings in a new garment, and gives them a new life.

With regard to the second sort of Prophets who are followers, these also
promote the Law of God, make known the Religion of God, and proclaim His
word. Of themselves they have no power and might, except what they receive
from the independent Prophets.

Question.—To which category do Buddha and Confucius belong?

Answer.—Buddha also established a new religion, and Confucius renewed
morals and ancient virtues, but their institutions have been entirely
destroyed. The beliefs and rites of the Buddhists and Confucianists have
not continued in accordance with their fundamental teachings. The founder
of Buddhism was a wonderful soul. He established the Oneness of God, but
later the original principles of His doctrines gradually disappeared, and
ignorant customs and ceremonials arose and increased until they finally
ended in the worship of statues and images.

Now, consider: Christ frequently repeated that the Ten Commandments in the
Pentateuch were to be followed, and He insisted that they should be
maintained. Among the Ten Commandments is one which says: “Do not worship
any picture or image.”(132) At present in some of the Christian churches
many pictures and images exist. It is, therefore, clear and evident that
the Religion of God does not maintain its original principles among the
people, but that it has gradually changed and altered until it has been
entirely destroyed and annihilated. Because of this the manifestation is
renewed, and a new religion established. But if religions did not change
and alter, there would be no need of renewal.

In the beginning the tree was in all its beauty, and full of blossoms and
fruits, but at last it became old and entirely fruitless, and it withered
and decayed. This is why the True Gardener plants again an incomparable
young tree of the same kind and species, which grows and develops day by
day, and spreads a wide shadow in the divine garden, and yields admirable
fruit. So it is with religions; through the passing of time they change
from their original foundation, the truth of the Religion of God entirely
departs, and the spirit of it does not stay; heresies appear, and it
becomes a body without a soul. That is why it is renewed.

The meaning is that the Buddhists and Confucianists now worship images and
statues. They are entirely heedless of the Oneness of God and believe in
imaginary gods like the ancient Greeks. But in the beginning it was not
so; there were different principles and other ordinances.

Again, consider how much the principles of the religion of Christ have
been forgotten, and how many heresies have appeared. For example, Christ
forbade revenge and transgression; furthermore, He commanded benevolence
and mercy in return for injury and evil. Now reflect: among the Christian
nations themselves how many sanguinary wars have taken place, and how much
oppression, cruelty, rapacity and bloodthirstiness have occurred! Many of
these wars were carried on by command of the Popes. It is then clear and
evident that in the passage of time religions become entirely changed and
altered. Therefore, they are renewed.



44: EXPLANATION OF THE REBUKES ADDRESSED BY GOD TO THE PROPHETS


Question.—In the Holy Books there are some addresses of reproach and
rebuke directed to the Prophets. Who is addressed, and for whom is the
rebuke?

Answer.—All the divine discourses containing reproof, though apparently
addressed to the Prophets, in reality are directed to the people, through
a wisdom which is absolute mercy, in order that the people may not be
discouraged and disheartened. They, therefore, appear to be addressed to
the Prophets; but though outwardly for the Prophets, they are in truth for
the people and not for the Prophets.

Moreover, the powerful and independent king represents his country: that
which he says is the word of all, and every agreement that he makes is the
agreement of all, for the wishes and desires of all his subjects are
included in his wishes and desires. In the same way, every Prophet is the
expression of the whole of the people. So the promise and speech of God
addressed to Him is addressed to all. Generally the speech of reproach and
rebuke is rather too severe for the people and would be heartbreaking to
them. So the Perfect Wisdom makes use of this form of address, as is
clearly shown in the Bible itself, as, for example, when the children of
Israel rebelled and said to Moses: “We cannot fight with the Amalekites,
for they are powerful, mighty and courageous.” God then rebuked Moses and
Aaron, though Moses was in complete obedience and not in rebellion. Surely
such a great Man, Who is the mediator of the Divine Bounty and the
deliverer of the Law, must necessarily obey the commands of God. These
Holy Souls are like the leaves of a tree which are put in motion by the
blowing of the wind, and not by Their own desire; for They are attracted
by the breeze of the love of God, and Their will is absolutely submissive.
Their word is the word of God; Their commandment is the commandment of
God; Their prohibition is the prohibition of God. They are like the glass
globe which receives light from the lamp. Although the light appears to
emanate from the glass, in reality it is shining from the lamp. In the
same way for the Prophets of God, the centers of manifestation, Their
movement and repose come from divine inspiration, not from human passions.
If it were not so, how could the Prophet be worthy of trust, and how could
He be the Messenger of God, delivering the commands and the prohibitions
of God? All the defects that are mentioned in the Holy Books with
reference to the Manifestations refer to questions of this kind.

Praise be to God that you have come here and have met the servants of God!
Have you perceived in them anything except the fragrance of the pleasure
of God? Indeed, no. You have seen with your own eyes that day and night
they endeavor and strive, and that they have no aim except the exaltation
of the word of God, the education of men, the improvement of the masses,
spiritual progress, the promulgation of universal peace, goodwill to all
mankind, and kindness toward all nations. Sacrificing themselves for the
good of humanity, they are detached from material advantages, and labor to
give virtues to mankind.

But let us return to our subject. For example, in the Old Testament it is
said in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 48, verse 12: “Hearken unto Me, O
Jacob and Israel, My called; I am He; I am the first, I also am the last.”
It is evident that it does not mean Jacob who was Israel, but the people
of Israel. Also in the Book of Isaiah, chapter 43, verse 1, it is said:
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that
formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called
thee by thy name; thou art Mine.”

Furthermore, in Numbers, chapter 20, verse 23: “And the Lord spake unto
Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
Aaron shall be gathered unto his people: for he shall not enter into the
land which I have given unto the children of Israel, because ye rebelled
against My word at the water of Meribah”;(133) and in verse 13: “This is
the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord,
and He was sanctified in them.”

Observe: the people of Israel rebelled, but apparently the reproach was
for Moses and Aaron. As it is said in the Book of Deuteronomy, chapter 3,
verse 26: “But the Lord was wroth with Me for your sakes, and would not
hear Me: and the Lord said unto Me, Let it suffice Thee; speak no more
unto Me of this matter.”

Now this discourse and reproach really refer to the children of Israel,
who, for having rebelled against the command of God, were held captive a
long time in the arid desert, on the other side of Jordan, until the time
of Joshua—upon him be salutations. This address and reproach appeared to
be for Moses and Aaron, but in reality they were for the people of Israel.

In the same way in the Qur’án it is said to Muḥammad: “We have granted
Thee a manifest victory, so that God may forgive Thee Thy preceding and
subsequent sin.”(134) This address, although apparently directed to
Muḥammad, was in reality for all the people. This mode of address, as
before said, was used by the perfect wisdom of God, so that the hearts of
the people might not be troubled, anxious and tormented.

How often the Prophets of God and His supreme Manifestations in Their
prayers confess Their sins and faults! This is only to teach other men, to
encourage and incite them to humility and meekness, and to induce them to
confess their sins and faults. For these Holy Souls are pure from every
sin and sanctified from faults. In the Gospel it is said that a man came
to Christ and called Him “Good Master.” Christ answered, “Why callest thou
Me good? there is none good but One, that is, God.”(135) This did not
mean—God forbid!—that Christ was a sinner; but the intention was to teach
submission, humility, meekness and modesty to the man to whom He spoke.
These Holy Beings are lights, and light does not unite itself with
darkness. They are life, and life and death are not confounded. They are
for guidance, and guidance and error cannot be together. They are the
essence of obedience, and obedience cannot exist with rebellion.

To conclude, the addresses in the form of reproach which are in the Holy
Books, though apparently directed to the Prophets—that is to say, to the
Manifestations of God—in reality are intended for the people. This will
become evident and clear to you when you have diligently examined the Holy
Books.

Salutations be upon you.



45: EXPLANATION OF THE VERSE OF THE KITÁB-I-AQDAS, “THERE IS NO PARTNER
FOR HIM WHO IS THE DAYSPRING OF REVELATION IN HIS MOST GREAT
INFALLIBILITY”


It is said in the holy verse: “There is no partner for Him Who is the
Dayspring of Revelation(136) in His Most Great Infallibility. He is, in
truth, the exponent of ‘God doeth whatsoever He willeth’ in the kingdom of
creation. Indeed the Almighty hath exclusively reserved this station for
Himself and to none is given a share in this sublime and highly exalted
distinction.”(137)

Know that infallibility is of two kinds: essential infallibility and
acquired infallibility. In like manner there is essential knowledge and
acquired knowledge; and so it is with other names and attributes.
Essential infallibility is peculiar to the supreme Manifestation, for it
is His essential requirement, and an essential requirement cannot be
separated from the thing itself. The rays are the essential necessity of
the sun and are inseparable from it. Knowledge is an essential necessity
of God and is inseparable from Him. Power is an essential necessity of God
and is inseparable from Him. If it could be separated from Him, He would
not be God. If the rays could be separated from the sun, it would not be
the sun. Therefore, if one imagines separation of the Most Great
Infallibility from the supreme Manifestation, He would not be the supreme
Manifestation, and He would lack the essential perfections.

But acquired infallibility is not a natural necessity; on the contrary, it
is a ray of the bounty of infallibility which shines from the Sun of
Reality upon hearts, and grants a share and portion of itself to souls.
Although these souls have not essential infallibility, still they are
under the protection of God—that is to say, God preserves them from error.
Thus many of the holy beings who were not dawning-points of the Most Great
Infallibility, were yet kept and preserved from error under the shadow of
the protection and guardianship of God, for they were the mediators of
grace between God and men. If God did not protect them from error, their
error would cause believing souls to fall into error, and thus the
foundation of the Religion of God would be overturned, which would not be
fitting nor worthy of God.

To epitomize: essential infallibility belongs especially to the supreme
Manifestations, and acquired infallibility is granted to every holy soul.
For instance, the Universal House of Justice,(138) if it be established
under the necessary conditions—with members elected from all the
people—that House of Justice will be under the protection and the unerring
guidance of God. If that House of Justice shall decide unanimously, or by
a majority, upon any question not mentioned in the Book, that decision and
command will be guarded from mistake. Now the members of the House of
Justice have not, individually, essential infallibility; but the body of
the House of Justice is under the protection and unerring guidance of God:
this is called conferred infallibility.

Briefly, it is said that the “Dayspring of Revelation” is the
manifestation of these words, “He doeth whatsoever He willeth”; this
condition is peculiar to that Holy Being, and others have no share of this
essential perfection. That is to say, that as the supreme Manifestations
certainly possess essential infallibility, therefore whatever emanates
from Them is identical with the truth, and conformable to reality. They
are not under the shadow of the former laws. Whatever They say is the word
of God, and whatever They perform is an upright action. No believer has
any right to criticize; his condition must be one of absolute submission,
for the Manifestation arises with perfect wisdom—so that whatever the
supreme Manifestation says and does is absolute wisdom, and is in
accordance with reality.

If some people do not understand the hidden secret of one of His commands
and actions, they ought not to oppose it, for the supreme Manifestation
does what He wishes. How often it has occurred, when an act has been
performed by a wise, perfect, intelligent man, that others incapable of
comprehending its wisdom have objected to it and been amazed that this
wise man could say or do such a thing. This opposition comes from their
ignorance, and the wisdom of the sage is pure and exempt from error. In
the same way, the skilled doctor in treating the patient does what he
wishes, and the patient has no right to object; whatever the doctor says
and does is right; all ought to consider him the manifestation of these
words, “He doeth whatsoever He willeth, and commandeth whatever He
desireth.” It is certain that the doctor will use some medicine contrary
to the ideas of other people; now opposition is not permitted to those who
have not the advantage of science and the medical art. No, in the name of
God! on the contrary, all ought to be submissive and to perform whatever
the skilled doctor says. Therefore, the skilled doctor does what he
wishes, and the patients have no share in this right. The skill of the
doctor must be first ascertained; but when the skill of the doctor is once
established, he does what he wishes.

So also, when the head of the army is unrivaled in the art of war, in what
he says and commands he does what he wishes. When the captain of a ship is
proficient in the art of navigation, in whatever he says and commands he
does what he wishes. And as the real educator is the Perfect Man, in
whatever He says and commands He does what He wishes.

In short, the meaning of “He doeth whatsoever He willeth” is that if the
Manifestation says something, or gives a command, or performs an action,
and believers do not understand its wisdom, they still ought not to oppose
it by a single thought, seeking to know why He spoke so, or why He did
such a thing. The other souls who are under the shadow of the supreme
Manifestations are submissive to the commandments of the Law of God, and
are not to deviate as much as a hairsbreadth from it; they must conform
their acts and words to the Law of God. If they do deviate from it, they
will be held responsible and reproved in the presence of God. It is
certain that they have no share in the permission “He doeth whatsoever He
willeth,” for this condition is peculiar to the supreme Manifestations.

So Christ—may my spirit be sacrificed to Him!—was the manifestation of
these words, “He doeth whatsoever He willeth,” but the disciples were not
partakers of this condition; for as they were under the shadow of Christ,
they could not deviate from His command and will.



PART FOUR: ON THE ORIGIN, POWERS AND CONDITIONS OF MAN



46: MODIFICATION OF SPECIES


We have now come to the question of the modification of species and of
organic development—that is to say, to the point of inquiring whether
man’s descent is from the animal.

This theory has found credence in the minds of some European philosophers,
and it is now very difficult to make its falseness understood, but in the
future it will become evident and clear, and the European philosophers
will themselves realize its untruth. For, verily, it is an evident error.
When man looks at the beings with a penetrating regard, and attentively
examines the condition of existences, and when he sees the state, the
organization and the perfection of the world, he will be convinced that in
the possible world there is nothing more wonderful than that which already
exists. For all existing beings, terrestrial and celestial, as well as
this limitless space and all that is in it, have been created and
organized, composed, arranged and perfected as they ought to be; the
universe has no imperfection, so that if all beings became pure
intelligence and reflected for ever and ever, it is impossible that they
could imagine anything better than that which exists.

If, however, the creation in the past had not been adorned with utmost
perfection, then existence would have been imperfect and meaningless, and
in this case creation would have been incomplete. This question needs to
be considered with the greatest attention and thought. For example,
imagine that the contingent world resembles in a general way the body of
man. If this composition, organization, perfection, beauty and
completeness which now exist in the human body were different, it would be
absolute imperfection. Now, if we imagine a time when man belonged to the
animal world, or when he was merely an animal, we shall find that
existence would have been imperfect—that is to say, there would have been
no man, and this chief member, which in the body of the world is like the
brain and mind in man, would have been missing. The world would then have
been quite imperfect. It is thus proved that if there had been a time when
man was in the animal kingdom, the perfection of existence would have been
destroyed; for man is the greatest member of this world, and if the body
was without this chief member, surely it would be imperfect. We consider
man as the greatest member because, among the creatures, he is the sum of
all existing perfections. When we speak of man, we mean the perfect one,
the foremost individual in the world, who is the sum of spiritual and
apparent perfections, and who is like the sun among the beings. Then
imagine that at one time the sun did not exist, but that it was a planet;
surely at such a time the relations of existence would be disordered. How
can such a thing be imagined? To a man who examines the world of existence
what we have said is sufficient.

There is another more subtle proof: all these endless beings which inhabit
the world, whether man, animal, vegetable, mineral—whatever they may
be—are surely, each one of them, composed of elements. There is no doubt
that this perfection which is in all beings is caused by the creation of
God from the composing elements, by their appropriate mingling and
proportionate quantities, the mode of their composition, and the influence
of other beings. For all beings are connected together like a chain; and
reciprocal help, assistance and interaction belonging to the properties of
things are the causes of the existence, development and growth of created
beings. It is confirmed through evidences and proofs that every being
universally acts upon other beings, either absolutely or through
association. Finally, the perfection of each individual being—that is to
say, the perfection which you now see in man or apart from him, with
regard to their atoms, members or powers—is due to the composition of the
elements, to their measure, to their balance, to the mode of their
combination, and to mutual influence. When all these are gathered
together, then man exists.

As the perfection of man is entirely due to the composition of the atoms
of the elements, to their measure, to the method of their combination, and
to the mutual influence and action of the different beings—then, since man
was produced ten or a hundred thousand years ago from these earthly
elements with the same measure and balance, the same method of combination
and mingling, and the same influence of the other beings, exactly the same
man existed then as now. This is evident and not worth debating. A
thousand million years hence, if these elements of man are gathered
together and arranged in this special proportion, and if the elements are
combined according to the same method, and if they are affected by the
same influence of other beings, exactly the same man will exist. For
example, if after a hundred thousand years there is oil, fire, a wick, a
lamp and the lighter of the lamp—briefly, if there are all the necessaries
which now exist, exactly the same lamp will be obtained.

These are conclusive and evident facts. But the arguments which these
European philosophers have used raise doubtful proofs and are not
conclusive.



47: THE UNIVERSE IS WITHOUT BEGINNING; THE ORIGIN OF MAN


Know that it is one of the most abstruse spiritual truths that the world
of existence—that is to say, this endless universe—has no beginning.

We have already explained that the names and attributes of the Divinity
themselves require the existence of beings. Although this subject has been
explained in detail, we will speak of it again briefly. Know that an
educator without pupils cannot be imagined; a monarch without subjects
could not exist; a master without scholars cannot be appointed; a creator
without a creature is impossible; a provider without those provided for
cannot be conceived; for all the divine names and attributes demand the
existence of beings. If we could imagine a time when no beings existed,
this imagination would be the denial of the Divinity of God. Moreover,
absolute nonexistence cannot become existence. If the beings were
absolutely nonexistent, existence would not have come into being.
Therefore, as the Essence of Unity (that is, the existence of God) is
everlasting and eternal—that is to say, it has neither beginning nor
end—it is certain that this world of existence, this endless universe, has
neither beginning nor end. Yes, it may be that one of the parts of the
universe, one of the globes, for example, may come into existence, or may
be disintegrated, but the other endless globes are still existing; the
universe would not be disordered nor destroyed. On the contrary, existence
is eternal and perpetual. As each globe has a beginning, necessarily it
has an end because every composition, collective or particular, must of
necessity be decomposed. The only difference is that some are quickly
decomposed, and others more slowly, but it is impossible that a composed
thing should not eventually be decomposed.

It is necessary, therefore, that we should know what each of the important
existences was in the beginning—for there is no doubt that in the
beginning the origin was one: the origin of all numbers is one and not
two. Then it is evident that in the beginning matter was one, and that one
matter appeared in different aspects in each element. Thus various forms
were produced, and these various aspects as they were produced became
permanent, and each element was specialized. But this permanence was not
definite, and did not attain realization and perfect existence until after
a very long time. Then these elements became composed, and organized and
combined in infinite forms; or rather from the composition and combination
of these elements innumerable beings appeared.

This composition and arrangement, through the wisdom of God and His
preexistent might, were produced from one natural organization, which was
composed and combined with the greatest strength, conformable to wisdom,
and according to a universal law. From this it is evident that it is the
creation of God, and is not a fortuitous composition and arrangement. This
is why from every natural composition a being can come into existence, but
from an accidental composition no being can come into existence. For
example, if a man of his own mind and intelligence collects some elements
and combines them, a living being will not be brought into existence since
the system is unnatural. This is the answer to the implied question that,
since beings are made by the composition and the combination of elements,
why is it not possible for us to gather elements and mingle them together,
and so create a living being. This is a false supposition, for the origin
of this composition is from God; it is God Who makes the combination, and
as it is done according to the natural system, from each composition one
being is produced, and an existence is realized. A composition made by man
produces nothing because man cannot create.

Briefly, we have said that from the composition and combination of
elements, from their decomposition, from their measure, and from the
effect of other beings upon them, resulted forms, endless realities and
innumerable beings. But it is clear that this terrestrial globe in its
present form did not come into existence all at once, but that this
universal existence gradually passed through different phases until it
became adorned with its present perfection. Universal beings resemble and
can be compared to particular beings, for both are subjected to one
natural system, one universal law and divine organization. So you will
find the smallest atoms in the universal system are similar to the
greatest beings of the universe. It is clear that they come into existence
from one laboratory of might under one natural system and one universal
law; therefore, they may be compared to one another. Thus the embryo of
man in the womb of the mother gradually grows and develops, and appears in
different forms and conditions, until in the degree of perfect beauty it
reaches maturity and appears in a perfect form with the utmost grace. And
in the same way, the seed of this flower which you see was in the
beginning an insignificant thing, and very small; and it grew and
developed in the womb of the earth and, after appearing in various forms,
came forth in this condition with perfect freshness and grace. In the same
manner, it is evident that this terrestrial globe, having once found
existence, grew and developed in the matrix of the universe, and came
forth in different forms and conditions, until gradually it attained this
present perfection, and became adorned with innumerable beings, and
appeared as a finished organization.

Then it is clear that original matter, which is in the embryonic state,
and the mingled and composed elements which were its earliest forms,
gradually grew and developed during many ages and cycles, passing from one
shape and form to another, until they appeared in this perfection, this
system, this organization and this establishment, through the supreme
wisdom of God.

Let us return to our subject that man, in the beginning of his existence
and in the womb of the earth, like the embryo in the womb of the mother,
gradually grew and developed, and passed from one form to another, from
one shape to another, until he appeared with this beauty and perfection,
this force and this power. It is certain that in the beginning he had not
this loveliness and grace and elegance, and that he only by degrees
attained this shape, this form, this beauty and this grace. There is no
doubt that the human embryo did not at once appear in this form; neither
did it then become the manifestation of the words “Blessed, therefore, be
God, the most excellent of Makers.”(139) Gradually it passed through
various conditions and different shapes, until it attained this form and
beauty, this perfection, grace and loveliness. Thus it is evident and
confirmed that the development and growth of man on this earth, until he
reached his present perfection, resembled the growth and development of
the embryo in the womb of the mother: by degrees it passed from condition
to condition, from form to form, from one shape to another, for this is
according to the requirement of the universal system and Divine Law.

That is to say, the embryo passes through different states and traverses
numerous degrees, until it reaches the form in which it manifests the
words “Praise be to God, the best of Creators,” and until the signs of
reason and maturity appear. And in the same way, man’s existence on this
earth, from the beginning until it reaches this state, form and condition,
necessarily lasts a long time, and goes through many degrees until it
reaches this condition. But from the beginning of man’s existence he is a
distinct species. In the same way, the embryo of man in the womb of the
mother was at first in a strange form; then this body passes from shape to
shape, from state to state, from form to form, until it appears in utmost
beauty and perfection. But even when in the womb of the mother and in this
strange form, entirely different from his present form and figure, he is
the embryo of the superior species, and not of the animal; his species and
essence undergo no change. Now, admitting that the traces of organs which
have disappeared actually exist, this is not a proof of the impermanence
and the nonoriginality of the species. At the most it proves that the
form, and fashion, and the organs of man have progressed. Man was always a
distinct species, a man, not an animal. So, if the embryo of man in the
womb of the mother passes from one form to another so that the second form
in no way resembles the first, is this a proof that the species has
changed? that it was at first an animal, and that its organs progressed
and developed until it became a man? No, indeed! How puerile and unfounded
is this idea and this thought! For the proof of the originality of the
human species, and of the permanency of the nature of man, is clear and
evident.



48: THE DIFFERENCE EXISTING BETWEEN MAN AND ANIMAL


Already we have talked once or twice on the subject of the spirit, but our
words have not been written down.

Know that people belong to two categories—that is to say, they constitute
two parties. One party deny the spirit and say that man also is a species
of animal; for they say: Do we not see that animals and men share the same
powers and senses? These simple, single elements which fill space are
endlessly combined, and from each of these combinations one of the beings
is produced. Among these beings is the possessor of spirit,(140) of the
powers and of the senses. The more perfect the combination, the nobler is
the being. The combination of the elements in the body of man is more
perfect than the composition of any other being; it is mingled in absolute
equilibrium; therefore, it is more noble and more perfect. “It is not,”
they say, “that he has a special power and spirit which the other animals
lack: animals possess sensitive bodies, but man in some powers has more
sensation, although, in what concerns the outer senses, such as hearing,
sight, taste, smell, touch and even in some interior powers like memory,
the animal is more richly endowed than man.” “The animal, too,” they say,
“has intelligence and perception.” All that they concede is that man’s
intelligence is greater.

This is what the philosophers of the present state; this is their saying,
this is their supposition, and thus their imagination decrees. So with
powerful arguments and proofs they make the descent of man go back to the
animal, and say that there was once a time when man was an animal, that
then the species changed and progressed little by little until it reached
the present status of man.

But the theologians say: No, this is not so. Though man has powers and
outer senses in common with the animal, yet an extraordinary power exists
in him of which the animal is bereft. The sciences, arts, inventions,
trades and discoveries of realities are the results of this spiritual
power. This is a power which encompasses all things, comprehends their
realities, discovers all the hidden mysteries of beings, and through this
knowledge controls them. It even perceives things which do not exist
outwardly—that is to say, intellectual realities which are not sensible,
and which have no outward existence because they are invisible; so it
comprehends the mind, the spirit, the qualities, the characters, the love
and sorrow of man, which are intellectual realities. Moreover, these
existing sciences, arts, laws and endless inventions of man at one time
were invisible, mysterious and hidden secrets; it is only the
all-encompassing human power which has discovered and brought them out
from the plane of the invisible to the plane of the visible. So
telegraphy, photography, phonography and all such inventions and wonderful
arts were at one time hidden mysteries. The human reality discovered and
brought them out from the plane of the invisible to the plane of the
visible. There was even a time when the qualities of this iron which you
see—indeed of all the minerals—were hidden mysteries; men discovered this
mineral, and wrought it in this industrial form. It is the same with all
the other discoveries and inventions of man, which are innumerable.

This we cannot deny. If we say that these are effects of powers which
animals also have, and of the powers of the bodily senses, we see clearly
and evidently that the animals are, in regard to these powers, superior to
man. For example, the sight of animals is much more keen than the sight of
man; so also is their power of smell and taste. Briefly, in the powers
which animals and men have in common, the animal is often the more
powerful. For example, let us take the power of memory. If you carry a
pigeon from here to a distant country, and there set it free, it will
return, for it remembers the way. Take a dog from here to the center of
Asia, set him free, and he will come back here and never once lose the
road. So it is with the other powers such as hearing, sight, smell, taste
and touch.

Thus it is clear that if there were not in man a power different from any
of those of the animals, the latter would be superior to man in inventions
and the comprehension of realities. Therefore, it is evident that man has
a gift which the animal does not possess. Now, the animal perceives
sensible things but does not perceive intellectual realities. For example,
that which is within the range of its vision the animal sees, but that
which is beyond the range of sight it is not possible for it to perceive,
and it cannot imagine it. So it is not possible for the animal to
understand that the earth has the form of a globe. But man from known
things proves unknown things and discovers unknown truths. For example,
man sees the curve of the horizon, and from this he infers the roundness
of the earth. The Pole Star at Akká, for instance, is at 33—that is to
say, it is 33 above the horizon. When a man goes toward the North Pole,
the Pole Star rises one degree above the horizon for each degree of
distance that he travels—that is to say, the altitude of the Pole Star
will be 34, then 40, then 50, then 60, then 70. If he reaches the North
Pole the altitude of the Pole Star will be 90 or have attained the
zenith—that is to say, will be directly overhead. This Pole Star and its
ascension are sensible things. The further one goes toward the Pole, the
higher the Pole Star rises; from these two known truths an unknown thing
has been discovered—that is, that the horizon is curved, meaning that the
horizon of each degree of the earth is a different horizon from that of
another degree. Man perceives this and proves from it an invisible thing
which is the roundness of the earth. This it is impossible for the animal
to perceive. In the same way, it cannot understand that the sun is the
center and that the earth revolves around it. The animal is the captive of
the senses and bound by them; all that is beyond the senses, the things
that they do not control, the animal can never understand, although in the
outer senses it is greater than man. Hence it is proved and verified that
in man there is a power of discovery by which he is distinguished from the
animals, and this is the spirit of man.

Praise be to God! man is always turned toward the heights, and his
aspiration is lofty; he always desires to reach a greater world than the
world in which he is, and to mount to a higher sphere than that in which
he is. The love of exaltation is one of the characteristics of man. I am
astonished that certain philosophers of America and Europe are content to
gradually approach the animal world and so to go backward; for the
tendency of existence must be toward exaltation. Nevertheless, if you said
to one of them, “You are an animal,” he would be extremely hurt and angry.

What a difference between the human world and the world of the animal,
between the elevation of man and the abasement of the animal, between the
perfections of man and the ignorance of the animal, between the light of
man and the darkness of the animal, between the glory of man and the
degradation of the animal! An Arab child of ten years can manage two or
three hundred camels in the desert, and with his voice can lead them
forward or turn them back. A weak Hindu can so control a huge elephant
that the elephant becomes the most obedient of servants. All things are
subdued by the hand of man; he can resist nature while all other creatures
are captives of nature: none can depart from her requirements. Man alone
can resist nature. Nature attracts bodies to the center of the earth; man
through mechanical means goes far from it and soars in the air. Nature
prevents man from crossing the seas; man builds a ship, and he travels and
voyages across the great ocean, and so on; the subject is endless. For
example, man drives engines over the mountains and through the
wildernesses, and gathers in one spot the news of the events of the East
and West. All this is contrary to nature. The sea with its grandeur cannot
deviate by an atom from the laws of nature; the sun in all its
magnificence cannot deviate as much as a needle’s point from the laws of
nature, and can never comprehend the conditions, the state, the qualities,
the movements and the nature of man.

What, then, is the power in this small body of man which encompasses all
this? What is this ruling power by which he subdues all things?

One more point remains. Modern philosophers say: “We have never seen the
spirit in man, and in spite of our researches into the secrets of the
human body, we do not perceive a spiritual power. How can we imagine a
power which is not sensible?” The theologians reply: “The spirit of the
animal also is not sensible, and through its bodily powers it cannot be
perceived. By what do you prove the existence of the spirit of the animal?
There is no doubt that from its effects you prove that in the animal there
is a power which is not in the plant, and this is the power of the
senses—that is to say, sight, hearing and also other powers; from these
you infer that there is an animal spirit. In the same way, from the proofs
and signs we have mentioned, we argue that there is a human spirit. Since
in the animal there are signs which are not in the plant, you say this
power of sensation is a property of the animal spirit; you also see in man
signs, powers and perfections which do not exist in the animal; therefore,
you infer that there is a power in him which the animal is without.”

If we wish to deny everything that is not sensible, then we must deny the
realities which unquestionably exist. For example, ethereal matter is not
sensible, though it has an undoubted existence. The power of attraction is
not sensible, though it certainly exists. From what do we affirm these
existences? From their signs. Thus this light is the vibration of that
ethereal matter, and from this vibration we infer the existence of ether.



49: THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE HUMAN RACE


Question.—What do you say with regard to the theories held by some
European philosophers on the growth and development of beings?

Answer.—This subject was spoken of the other day, but we will speak of it
again. Briefly, this question will be decided by determining whether
species are original or not—that is to say, has the species of man been
established from its origin, or was it afterward derived from the animals?

Certain European philosophers agree that the species grows and develops,
and that even change and alteration are also possible. One of the proofs
that they give for this theory is that through the attentive study and
verification of the science of geology it has become clear that the
existence of the vegetable preceded that of the animal, and that of the
animal preceded that of man. They admit that both the vegetable and the
animal species have changed, for in some of the strata of the earth they
have discovered plants which existed in the past and are now extinct; they
have progressed, grown in strength, their form and appearance have
changed, and so the species have altered. In the same way, in the strata
of the earth there are some species of animals which have changed and are
transformed. One of these animals is the serpent. There are indications
that the serpent once had feet, but through the lapse of time those
members have disappeared. In the same way, in the vertebral column of man
there is an indication which amounts to a proof that, like other animals,
he once had a tail. At one time that member was useful, but when man
developed, it was no longer of use; and, therefore, it gradually
disappeared. As the serpent took refuge under the ground and became a
creeping animal, it was no longer in need of feet, so they disappeared;
but their traces survive. The principal argument is this: that the
existence of traces of members proves that they once existed, and as now
they are no longer of service, they have gradually disappeared. Therefore,
while the perfect and necessary members have remained, those which are
unnecessary have gradually disappeared by the modification of the species,
but the traces of them continue.

The first answer to this argument is the fact that the animal having
preceded man is not a proof of the evolution, change and alteration of the
species, nor that man was raised from the animal world to the human world.
For while the individual appearance of these different beings is certain,
it is possible that man came into existence after the animal. So when we
examine the vegetable kingdom, we see that the fruits of the different
trees do not arrive at maturity at one time; on the contrary, some come
first and others afterward. This priority does not prove that the later
fruit of one tree was produced from the earlier fruit of another tree.

Second, these slight signs and traces of members have perhaps a great
reason of which the mind is not yet cognizant. How many things exist of
which we do not yet know the reason! So the science of physiology—that is
to say, the knowledge of the composition of the members—records that the
reason and cause of the difference in the colors of animals, and of the
hair of men, of the redness of the lips, and of the variety of the colors
of birds, is still unknown; it is secret and hidden. But it is known that
the pupil of the eye is black so as to attract the rays of the sun, for if
it were another color—that is, uniformly white—it would not attract the
rays of the sun. Therefore, as the reason of the things we have mentioned
is unknown, it is possible that the reason and the wisdom of these traces
of members, whether they be in the animal or man, are equally unknown.
Certainly there is a reason, even though it is not known.

Third, let us suppose that there was a time when some animals, or even
man, possessed some members which have now disappeared; this is not a
sufficient proof of the change and evolution of the species. For man, from
the beginning of the embryonic period till he reaches the degree of
maturity, goes through different forms and appearances. His aspect, his
form, his appearance and color change; he passes from one form to another,
and from one appearance to another. Nevertheless, from the beginning of
the embryonic period he is of the species of man—that is to say, an embryo
of a man and not of an animal; but this is not at first apparent, but
later it becomes visible and evident. For example, let us suppose that man
once resembled the animal, and that now he has progressed and changed.
Supposing this to be true, it is still not a proof of the change of
species. No, as before mentioned, it is merely like the change and
alteration of the embryo of man until it reaches the degree of reason and
perfection. We will state it more clearly. Let us suppose that there was a
time when man walked on his hands and feet, or had a tail; this change and
alteration is like that of the fetus in the womb of the mother. Although
it changes in all ways, and grows and develops until it reaches the
perfect form, from the beginning it is a special species. We also see in
the vegetable kingdom that the original species of the genus do not change
and alter, but the form, color and bulk will change and alter, or even
progress.

To recapitulate: as man in the womb of the mother passes from form to
form, from shape to shape, changes and develops, and is still the human
species from the beginning of the embryonic period—in the same way man,
from the beginning of his existence in the matrix of the world, is also a
distinct species—that is, man—and has gradually evolved from one form to
another. Therefore, this change of appearance, this evolution of members,
this development and growth, even though we admit the reality of growth
and progress,(141) does not prevent the species from being original. Man
from the beginning was in this perfect form and composition, and possessed
capacity and aptitude for acquiring material and spiritual perfections,
and was the manifestation of these words, “We will make man in Our image
and likeness.”(142) He has only become more pleasing, more beautiful and
more graceful. Civilization has brought him out of his wild state, just as
the wild fruits which are cultivated by a gardener become finer, sweeter
and acquire more freshness and delicacy.

The gardeners of the world of humanity are the Prophets of God.



50: SPIRITUAL PROOFS OF THE ORIGIN OF MAN


The proofs which we have adduced relative to the origin of the human
species were logical proofs. Now we will give the spiritual proofs, which
are essential. For, as we have proved Divinity by logical arguments, and
have also proved logically that man exists from his origin and foundation
as man, and that his species has existed from all eternity, now we will
establish spiritual proofs that human existence—that is, the species of
man—is a necessary existence, and that without man the perfections of
Divinity would not appear. But these are spiritual proofs, not logical
proofs.

We have many times demonstrated and established that man is the noblest of
beings, the sum of all perfections, and that all beings and all existences
are the centers from which the glory of God is reflected—that is to say,
the signs of the Divinity of God are apparent in the realities of things
and of creatures. Just as the terrestrial globe is the place where the
rays of the sun are reflected—as its light, its heat and its influence are
apparent and visible in all the atoms of the earth—so, in the same way,
the atoms of beings, in this infinite space, proclaim and prove one of the
divine perfections. Nothing is deprived of this benefit; either it is a
sign of the mercy of God, or it is a sign of His power, His greatness, His
justice, His nurturing providence; or it is a sign of the generosity of
God, His vision, His hearing, His knowledge, His grace and so on.

Without doubt each being is the center of the shining forth of the glory
of God—that is to say, the perfections of God appear from it and are
resplendent in it. It is like the sun, which is resplendent in the desert,
upon the sea, in the trees, in the fruits and blossoms, and in all earthly
things. The world, indeed each existing being, proclaims to us one of the
names of God, but the reality of man is the collective reality, the
general reality, and is the center where the glory of all the perfections
of God shine forth—that is to say, for each name, each attribute, each
perfection which we affirm of God there exists a sign in man. If it were
otherwise, man could not imagine these perfections and could not
understand them. So we say that God is the seer, and the eye is the sign
of His vision; if this sight were not in man, how could we imagine the
vision of God? For the blind (that is, one born blind) cannot imagine
sight; and the deaf (that is, one deaf from birth) cannot imagine hearing;
and the dead cannot realize life. Consequently, the Divinity of God, which
is the sum of all perfections, reflects itself in the reality of man—that
is to say, the Essence of Oneness is the gathering of all perfections, and
from this unity He casts a reflection upon the human reality. Man, then,
is the perfect mirror facing the Sun of Truth and is the center of
radiation: the Sun of Truth shines in this mirror. The reflection of the
divine perfections appears in the reality of man, so he is the
representative of God, the messenger of God. If man did not exist, the
universe would be without result, for the object of existence is the
appearance of the perfections of God.

Therefore, it cannot be said there was a time when man was not. All that
we can say is that this terrestrial globe at one time did not exist, and
at its beginning man did not appear upon it. But from the beginning which
has no beginning, to the end which has no end, a Perfect Manifestation
always exists. This Man of Whom we speak is not every man; we mean the
Perfect Man. For the noblest part of the tree is the fruit, which is the
reason of its existence. If the tree had no fruit, it would have no
meaning. Therefore, it cannot be imagined that the worlds of existence,
whether the stars or this earth, were once inhabited by the donkey, cow,
mouse and cat, and that they were without man! This supposition is false
and meaningless. The word of God is clear as the sun. This is a spiritual
proof, but one which we cannot at the beginning put forth for the benefit
of the materialists. First we must speak of the logical proofs, afterward
the spiritual proofs.



51: THE SPIRIT AND MIND OF MAN HAVE EXISTED FROM THE BEGINNING


Question.—Does man in the beginning possess mind and spirit, or are they
an outcome of his evolution?

Answer.—The beginning of the existence of man on the terrestrial globe
resembles his formation in the womb of the mother. The embryo in the womb
of the mother gradually grows and develops until birth, after which it
continues to grow and develop until it reaches the age of discretion and
maturity. Though in infancy the signs of the mind and spirit appear in
man, they do not reach the degree of perfection; they are imperfect. Only
when man attains maturity do the mind and the spirit appear and become
evident in utmost perfection.

So also the formation of man in the matrix of the world was in the
beginning like the embryo; then gradually he made progress in perfectness,
and grew and developed until he reached the state of maturity, when the
mind and spirit became visible in the greatest power. In the beginning of
his formation the mind and spirit also existed, but they were hidden;
later they were manifested. In the womb of the world mind and spirit also
existed in the embryo, but they were concealed; afterward they appeared.
So it is that in the seed the tree exists, but it is hidden and concealed;
when it develops and grows, the complete tree appears. In the same way the
growth and development of all beings is gradual; this is the universal
divine organization and the natural system. The seed does not at once
become a tree; the embryo does not at once become a man; the mineral does
not suddenly become a stone. No, they grow and develop gradually and
attain the limit of perfection.

All beings, whether large or small, were created perfect and complete from
the first, but their perfections appear in them by degrees. The
organization of God is one; the evolution of existence is one; the divine
system is one. Whether they be small or great beings, all are subject to
one law and system. Each seed has in it from the first all the vegetable
perfections. For example, in the seed all the vegetable perfections exist
from the beginning, but not visibly; afterward little by little they
appear. So it is first the shoot which appears from the seed, then the
branches, leaves, blossoms and fruits; but from the beginning of its
existence all these things are in the seed, potentially, though not
apparently.

In the same way, the embryo possesses from the first all perfections, such
as the spirit, the mind, the sight, the smell, the taste—in one word, all
the powers—but they are not visible and become so only by degrees.

Similarly, the terrestrial globe from the beginning was created with all
its elements, substances, minerals, atoms and organisms; but these only
appeared by degrees: first the mineral, then the plant, afterward the
animal, and finally man. But from the first these kinds and species
existed, but were undeveloped in the terrestrial globe, and then appeared
only gradually. For the supreme organization of God, and the universal
natural system, surround all beings, and all are subject to this rule.
When you consider this universal system, you see that there is not one of
the beings which at its coming into existence has reached the limit of
perfection. No, they gradually grow and develop, and then attain the
degree of perfection.



52: THE APPEARING OF THE SPIRIT IN THE BODY


Question.—What is the wisdom of the spirit’s appearing in the body?

Answer.—The wisdom of the appearance of the spirit in the body is this:
the human spirit is a Divine Trust, and it must traverse all conditions,
for its passage and movement through the conditions of existence will be
the means of its acquiring perfections. So when a man travels and passes
through different regions and numerous countries with system and method,
it is certainly a means of his acquiring perfection, for he will see
places, scenes and countries, from which he will discover the conditions
and states of other nations. He will thus become acquainted with the
geography of countries and their wonders and arts; he will familiarize
himself with the habits, customs and usages of peoples; he will see the
civilization and progress of the epoch; he will become aware of the policy
of governments and the power and capacity of each country. It is the same
when the human spirit passes through the conditions of existence: it will
become the possessor of each degree and station. Even in the condition of
the body it will surely acquire perfections.

Besides this, it is necessary that the signs of the perfection of the
spirit should be apparent in this world, so that the world of creation may
bring forth endless results, and this body may receive life and manifest
the divine bounties. So, for example, the rays of the sun must shine upon
the earth, and the solar heat develop the earthly beings; if the rays and
heat of the sun did not shine upon the earth, the earth would be
uninhabited, without meaning; and its development would be retarded. In
the same way, if the perfections of the spirit did not appear in this
world, this world would be unenlightened and absolutely brutal. By the
appearance of the spirit in the physical form, this world is enlightened.
As the spirit of man is the cause of the life of the body, so the world is
in the condition of the body, and man is in the condition of the spirit.
If there were no man, the perfections of the spirit would not appear, and
the light of the mind would not be resplendent in this world. This world
would be like a body without a soul.

This world is also in the condition of a fruit tree, and man is like the
fruit; without fruit the tree would be useless.

Moreover, these members, these elements, this composition, which are found
in the organism of man, are an attraction and magnet for the spirit; it is
certain that the spirit will appear in it. So a mirror which is clear will
certainly attract the rays of the sun. It will become luminous, and
wonderful images will appear in it—that is to say, when these existing
elements are gathered together according to the natural order, and with
perfect strength, they become a magnet for the spirit, and the spirit will
become manifest in them with all its perfections.

Under these conditions it cannot be said, “What is the necessity for the
rays of the sun to descend upon the mirror?”—for the connection which
exists between the reality of things, whether they be spiritual or
material, requires that when the mirror is clear and faces the sun, the
light of the sun must become apparent in it. In the same way, when the
elements are arranged and combined in the most glorious system,
organization and manner, the human spirit will appear and be manifest in
them. This is the decree of the Powerful, the Wise.



53: THE RELATION BETWEEN GOD AND THE CREATURE


Question.—What is the nature of the connection between God and the
creature—that is to say, between the Independent, the Most High, and the
other beings?

Answer.—The connection between God and the creatures is that of the
creator to the creation; it is like the connection between the sun and the
dark bodies of contingent beings, and is the connection between the maker
and the things that he has made. The sun in its own essence is independent
of the bodies which it lights, for its light is in itself and is free and
independent of the terrestrial globe; so the earth is under the influence
of the sun and receives its light, whereas the sun and its rays are
entirely independent of the earth. But if there were no sun, the earth and
all earthly beings could not exist.

The dependence of the creatures upon God is a dependence of emanation—that
is to say, creatures emanate from God; they do not manifest Him.(143) The
relation is that of emanation and not that of manifestation. The light of
the sun emanates from the sun; it does not manifest it. The appearance
through emanation is like the appearance of the rays from the luminary of
the horizons of the world—that is to say, the holy essence of the Sun of
Truth is not divided and does not descend to the condition of the
creatures. In the same way, the globe of the sun does not become divided
and does not descend to the earth. No, the rays of the sun, which are its
bounty, emanate from it and illumine the dark bodies.

But the appearance through manifestation is the manifestation of the
branches, leaves, blossoms and fruit from the seed; for the seed in its
own essence becomes branches and fruits, and its reality enters into the
branches, the leaves and fruits. This appearance through manifestation
would be for God, the Most High, simple imperfection; and this is quite
impossible, for the implication would be that the Absolute Preexistent is
qualified with phenomenal attributes. But if this were so, pure
independence would become mere poverty, and true existence would become
nonexistence, and this is impossible.

Therefore, all creatures emanate from God—that is to say, it is by God
that all things are realized, and by Him that all beings have attained to
existence. The first thing which emanated from God is that universal
reality, which the ancient philosophers termed the “First Mind,” and which
the people of Bahá call the “First Will.” This emanation, in that which
concerns its action in the world of God, is not limited by time or place;
it is without beginning or end—beginning and end in relation to God are
one. The preexistence of God is the preexistence of essence, and also
preexistence of time, and the phenomenality of contingency is essential
and not temporal, as we have already explained one day at table.(144)

Though the “First Mind” is without beginning, it does not become a sharer
in the preexistence of God, for the existence of the universal reality in
relation to the existence of God is nothingness, and it has not the power
to become an associate of God and like unto Him in preexistence. This
subject has been before explained.

The existence of living things signifies composition, and their death,
decomposition. But universal matter and the elements do not become
absolutely annihilated and destroyed. No, their nonexistence is simply
transformation. For instance, when man is annihilated, he becomes dust;
but he does not become absolutely nonexistent. He still exists in the
shape of dust, but transformation has taken place, and this composition is
accidentally decomposed. The annihilation of the other beings is the same,
for existence does not become absolute nonexistence, and absolute
nonexistence does not become existence.



54: ON THE PROCEEDING OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT FROM GOD


Question.—In the Bible it is said that God breathed the spirit into the
body of man. What is the meaning of this verse?

Answer.—Know that proceeding is of two kinds: the proceeding and
appearance through emanation, and the proceeding and appearance through
manifestation. The proceeding through emanation is like the coming forth
of the action from the actor, of the writing from the writer. Now the
writing emanates from the writer, and the discourse emanates from the
speaker, and in the same way the human spirit emanates from God. It is not
that it manifests God—that is to say, no part has been detached from the
Divine Reality to enter the body of man. No, as the discourse emanates
from the speaker, the spirit appears in the body of man.

But the proceeding through manifestation is the manifestation of the
reality of a thing in other forms, like the coming forth of this tree from
the seed of the tree, or the coming forth of the flower from the seed of
the flower, for it is the seed itself which appears in the form of the
branches, leaves and flowers. This is called the proceeding through
manifestation. The spirits of men, with reference to God, have dependence
through emanation, just as the discourse proceeds from the speaker and the
writing from the writer—that is to say, the speaker himself does not
become the discourse, nor does the writer himself become the writing; no,
rather they have the proceeding of emanation. The speaker has perfect
ability and power, and the discourse emanates from him, as the action does
from the actor. The Real Speaker, the Essence of Unity, has always been in
one condition, which neither changes nor alters, has neither
transformation nor vicissitude. He is the Eternal, the Immortal.
Therefore, the proceeding of the human spirits from God is through
emanation. When it is said in the Bible that God breathed His spirit into
man, this spirit is that which, like the discourse, emanates from the Real
Speaker, taking effect in the reality of man.

But the proceeding through manifestation (if by this is meant the divine
appearance, and not division into parts), we have said, is the proceeding
and the appearance of the Holy Spirit and the Word, which is from God. As
it is said in the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God”;(145) then the Holy Spirit and the Word are the
appearance of God. The Spirit and the Word mean the divine perfections
that appeared in the Reality of Christ, and these perfections were with
God; so the sun manifests all its glory in the mirror. For the Word does
not signify the body of Christ, no, but the divine perfections manifested
in Him. For Christ was like a clear mirror which was facing the Sun of
Reality; and the perfections of the Sun of Reality—that is to say, its
light and heat—were visible and apparent in this mirror. If we look into
the mirror, we see the sun, and we say, “It is the sun.” Therefore, the
Word and the Holy Spirit, which signify the perfections of God, are the
divine appearance. This is the meaning of the verse in the Gospel which
says: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God”;(146) for the divine
perfections are not different from the Essence of Oneness. The perfections
of Christ are called the Word because all the beings are in the condition
of letters, and one letter has not a complete meaning, while the
perfections of Christ have the power of the word because a complete
meaning can be inferred from a word. As the Reality of Christ was the
manifestation of the divine perfections, therefore, it was like the word.
Why? because He is the sum of perfect meanings. This is why He is called
the Word.

And know that the proceeding of the Word and the Holy Spirit from God,
which is the proceeding and appearance of manifestation, must not be
understood to mean that the Reality of Divinity had been divided into
parts, or multiplied, or that it had descended from the exaltation of
holiness and purity. God forbid! If a pure, fine mirror faces the sun, the
light and heat, the form and the image of the sun will be resplendent in
it with such manifestation that if a beholder says of the sun, which is
brilliant and visible in the mirror, “This is the sun,” it is true.
Nevertheless, the mirror is the mirror, and the sun is the sun. The One
Sun, even if it appears in numerous mirrors, is one. This state is neither
abiding nor entering, neither commingling nor descending; for entering,
abiding, descending, issuing forth and commingling are the necessities and
characteristics of bodies, not of spirits; then how much less do they
belong to the sanctified and pure Reality of God. God is exempt from all
that is not in accordance with His purity and His exalted and sublime
sanctity.

The Sun of Reality, as we have said, has always been in one condition; it
has no change, no alteration, no transformation and no vicissitude. It is
eternal and everlasting. But the Holy Reality of the Word of God is in the
condition of the pure, fine and shining mirror; the heat, the light, the
image and likeness—that is to say, the perfections of the Sun of
Reality—appear in it. That is why Christ says in the Gospel, “The Father
is in the Son”—that is to say, the Sun of Reality appears in the
mirror.(147) Praise be to the One Who shone upon this Holy Reality, Who is
sanctified among the beings!



55: SOUL, SPIRIT AND MIND


Question.—What is the difference between the mind, spirit and soul?

Answer.—It has been before explained that spirit is universally divided
into five categories: the vegetable spirit, the animal spirit, the human
spirit, the spirit of faith, and the Holy Spirit.

The vegetable spirit is the power of growth which is brought about in the
seed through the influence of other existences.

The animal spirit is the power of all the senses, which is realized from
the composition and mingling of elements; when this composition
decomposes, the power also perishes and becomes annihilated. It may be
likened to this lamp: when the oil, wick and fire are combined, it is
lighted; and when this combination is dissolved—that is to say, when the
combined parts are separated from one another—the lamp also is
extinguished.

The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational
soul, and these two names—the human spirit and the rational soul—designate
one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is
the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability
permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their
peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings.
But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not
become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It
is like a mirror which, although clear, polished and brilliant, is still
in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot
discover the heavenly secrets.

But the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is
the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is
the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit and is its essential
quality, as the sun’s rays are the essential necessity of the sun.

This explanation, though short, is complete; therefore, reflect upon it,
and if God wills, you may become acquainted with the details.



56: THE PHYSICAL POWERS AND THE INTELLECTUAL POWERS


In man five outer powers exist, which are the agents of perception—that is
to say, through these five powers man perceives material beings. These are
sight, which perceives visible forms; hearing, which perceives audible
sounds; smell, which perceives odors; taste, which perceives foods; and
feeling, which is in all parts of the body and perceives tangible things.
These five powers perceive outward existences.

Man has also spiritual powers: imagination, which conceives things;
thought, which reflects upon realities; comprehension, which comprehends
realities; memory, which retains whatever man imagines, thinks and
comprehends. The intermediary between the five outward powers and the
inward powers is the sense which they possess in common—that is to say,
the sense which acts between the outer and inner powers, conveys to the
inward powers whatever the outer powers discern. It is termed the common
faculty, because it communicates between the outward and inward powers and
thus is common to the outward and inward powers.

For instance, sight is one of the outer powers; it sees and perceives this
flower, and conveys this perception to the inner power—the common
faculty—which transmits this perception to the power of imagination, which
in its turn conceives and forms this image and transmits it to the power
of thought; the power of thought reflects and, having grasped the reality,
conveys it to the power of comprehension; the comprehension, when it has
comprehended it, delivers the image of the object perceived to the memory,
and the memory keeps it in its repository.

The outward powers are five: the power of sight, of hearing, of taste, of
smell and of feeling.

The inner powers are also five: the common faculty, and the powers of
imagination, thought, comprehension and memory.



57: THE CAUSES OF THE DIFFERENCES IN THE CHARACTERS OF MEN


Question.—How many kinds of character has man, and what is the cause of
the differences and varieties in men?

Answer.—He has the innate character, the inherited character, and the
acquired character which is gained by education.

With regard to the innate character, although the divine creation is
purely good, yet the varieties of natural qualities in man come from the
difference of degree; all are excellent, but they are more or less so,
according to the degree. So all mankind possess intelligence and
capacities, but the intelligence, the capacity and the worthiness of men
differ. This is evident.

For example, take a number of children of one family, of one place, of one
school, instructed by one teacher, reared on the same food, in the same
climate, with the same clothing, and studying the same lessons—it is
certain that among these children some will be clever in the sciences,
some will be of average ability, and some dull. Hence it is clear that in
the original nature there exists a difference of degree and varieties of
worthiness and capacity. This difference does not imply good or evil but
is simply a difference of degree. One has the highest degree, another the
medium degree, and another the lowest degree. So man exists; the animal,
the plant and the mineral exist also—but the degrees of these four
existences vary. What a difference between the existence of man and of the
animal! Yet both are existences. It is evident that in existence there are
differences of degrees.

The variety of inherited qualities comes from strength and weakness of
constitution—that is to say, when the two parents are weak, the children
will be weak; if they are strong, the children will be robust. In the same
way, purity of blood has a great effect; for the pure germ is like the
superior stock which exists in plants and animals. For example, you see
that children born from a weak and feeble father and mother will naturally
have a feeble constitution and weak nerves; they will be afflicted and
will have neither patience, nor endurance, nor resolution, nor
perseverance, and will be hasty; for the children inherit the weakness and
debility of their parents.

Besides this, an especial blessing is conferred on some families and some
generations. Thus it is an especial blessing that from among the
descendants of Abraham should have come all the Prophets of the children
of Israel. This is a blessing that God has granted to this descent: to
Moses from His father and mother, to Christ from His mother’s line; also
to Muḥammad and the Báb, and to all the Prophets and the Holy
Manifestations of Israel. The Blessed Beauty(148) is also a lineal
descendant of Abraham, for Abraham had other sons besides Ishmael and
Isaac who in those days migrated to the lands of Persia and Afghanistan,
and the Blessed Beauty is one of their descendants.

Hence it is evident that inherited character also exists, and to such a
degree that if the characters are not in conformity with their origin,
although they belong physically to that lineage, spiritually they are not
considered members of the family, like Canaan,(149) who is not reckoned as
being of the race of Noah.

But the difference of the qualities with regard to culture is very great,
for education has great influence. Through education the ignorant become
learned; the cowardly become valiant. Through cultivation the crooked
branch becomes straight; the acid, bitter fruit of the mountains and woods
becomes sweet and delicious; and the five-petaled flower becomes hundred
petaled. Through education savage nations become civilized, and even the
animals become domesticated. Education must be considered as most
important, for as diseases in the world of bodies are extremely
contagious, so, in the same way, qualities of spirit and heart are
extremely contagious. Education has a universal influence, and the
differences caused by it are very great.

Perhaps someone will say that, since the capacity and worthiness of men
differ, therefore, the difference of capacity certainly causes the
difference of characters.(150)

But this is not so, for capacity is of two kinds: natural capacity and
acquired capacity. The first, which is the creation of God, is purely
good—in the creation of God there is no evil; but the acquired capacity
has become the cause of the appearance of evil. For example, God has
created all men in such a manner and has given them such a constitution
and such capacities that they are benefited by sugar and honey and harmed
and destroyed by poison. This nature and constitution is innate, and God
has given it equally to all mankind. But man begins little by little to
accustom himself to poison by taking a small quantity each day, and
gradually increasing it, until he reaches such a point that he cannot live
without a gram of opium every day. The natural capacities are thus
completely perverted. Observe how much the natural capacity and
constitution can be changed, until by different habits and training they
become entirely perverted. One does not criticize vicious people because
of their innate capacities and nature, but rather for their acquired
capacities and nature.

In creation there is no evil; all is good. Certain qualities and natures
innate in some men and apparently blameworthy are not so in reality. For
example, from the beginning of his life you can see in a nursing child the
signs of greed, of anger and of temper. Then, it may be said, good and
evil are innate in the reality of man, and this is contrary to the pure
goodness of nature and creation. The answer to this is that greed, which
is to ask for something more, is a praiseworthy quality provided that it
is used suitably. So if a man is greedy to acquire science and knowledge,
or to become compassionate, generous and just, it is most praiseworthy. If
he exercises his anger and wrath against the bloodthirsty tyrants who are
like ferocious beasts, it is very praiseworthy; but if he does not use
these qualities in a right way, they are blameworthy.

Then it is evident that in creation and nature evil does not exist at all;
but when the natural qualities of man are used in an unlawful way, they
are blameworthy. So if a rich and generous person gives a sum of money to
a poor man for his own necessities, and if the poor man spends that sum of
money on unlawful things, that will be blameworthy. It is the same with
all the natural qualities of man, which constitute the capital of life; if
they be used and displayed in an unlawful way, they become blameworthy.
Therefore, it is clear that creation is purely good. Consider that the
worst of qualities and most odious of attributes, which is the foundation
of all evil, is lying. No worse or more blameworthy quality than this can
be imagined to exist; it is the destroyer of all human perfections and the
cause of innumerable vices. There is no worse characteristic than this; it
is the foundation of all evils. Notwithstanding all this, if a doctor
consoles a sick man by saying, “Thank God you are better, and there is
hope of your recovery,” though these words are contrary to the truth, yet
they may become the consolation of the patient and the turning point of
the illness. This is not blameworthy.

This question is now clearly elucidated. Salutations!



58: THE DEGREE OF KNOWLEDGE POSSESSED BY MAN AND THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS


Question.—Of what degree is the perception of the human world, and what
are its limitations?

Answer.—Know that perception varies. The lowest degree of perception is
that of the animals—that is to say, the natural feeling which appears
through the powers of the senses, and which is called sensation. In this,
men and animals are sharers; moreover, some animals with regard to the
senses are more powerful than man. But in humanity, perception differs and
varies in accordance with the different conditions of man.

The first condition of perception in the world of nature is the perception
of the rational soul. In this perception and in this power all men are
sharers, whether they be neglectful or vigilant, believers or deniers.
This human rational soul is God’s creation; it encompasses and excels
other creatures; as it is more noble and distinguished, it encompasses
things. The power of the rational soul can discover the realities of
things, comprehend the peculiarities of beings, and penetrate the
mysteries of existence. All sciences, knowledge, arts, wonders,
institutions, discoveries and enterprises come from the exercised
intelligence of the rational soul. There was a time when they were
unknown, preserved mysteries and hidden secrets; the rational soul
gradually discovered them and brought them out from the plane of the
invisible and the hidden into the realm of the visible. This is the
greatest power of perception in the world of nature, which in its highest
flight and soaring comprehends the realities, the properties and the
effects of the contingent beings.

But the universal divine mind, which is beyond nature, is the bounty of
the Preexistent Power. This universal mind is divine; it embraces existing
realities, and it receives the light of the mysteries of God. It is a
conscious power, not a power of investigation and of research. The
intellectual power of the world of nature is a power of investigation, and
by its researches it discovers the realities of beings and the properties
of existences; but the heavenly intellectual power, which is beyond
nature, embraces things and is cognizant of things, knows them,
understands them, is aware of mysteries, realities and divine
significations, and is the discoverer of the concealed verities of the
Kingdom. This divine intellectual power is the special attribute of the
Holy Manifestations and the Dawning-places of prophethood; a ray of this
light falls upon the mirrors of the hearts of the righteous, and a portion
and a share of this power comes to them through the Holy Manifestations.

The Holy Manifestations have three conditions: one, the physical
condition; one, that of the rational soul; and one, that of the
manifestation of perfection and of the lordly splendor. The body
comprehends things according to the degree of its ability in the physical
world; therefore, in certain cases it shows physical weakness. For
example: “I was sleeping and unconscious; the breeze of God passed over Me
and awoke Me, and commanded Me to proclaim the Word”; or when Christ in
His thirtieth year was baptized, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him;
before this the Holy Spirit did not manifest itself in Him. All these
things refer to the bodily condition of the Manifestations; but Their
heavenly condition embraces all things, knows all mysteries, discovers all
signs, and rules over all things; before as well as after Their mission,
it is the same. That is why Christ has said: “I am Alpha and Omega, the
first and the last”(151)—that is to say, there has never been and never
shall be any change and alteration in Me.



59: MAN’S KNOWLEDGE OF GOD


Question.—To what extent can the understanding of man comprehend God?

Answer.—This subject requires ample time, and to explain it thus at table
is not easy; nevertheless, we will speak of it briefly.

Know that there are two kinds of knowledge: the knowledge of the essence
of a thing and the knowledge of its qualities. The essence of a thing is
known through its qualities; otherwise, it is unknown and hidden.

As our knowledge of things, even of created and limited things, is
knowledge of their qualities and not of their essence, how is it possible
to comprehend in its essence the Divine Reality, which is unlimited? For
the inner essence of anything is not comprehended, but only its qualities.
For example, the inner essence of the sun is unknown, but is understood by
its qualities, which are heat and light. The inner essence of man is
unknown and not evident, but by its qualities it is characterized and
known. Thus everything is known by its qualities and not by its essence.
Although the mind encompasses all things, and the outward beings are
comprehended by it, nevertheless these beings with regard to their essence
are unknown; they are only known with regard to their qualities.

Then how can the eternal everlasting Lord, Who is held sanctified from
comprehension and conception, be known by His essence? That is to say, as
things can only be known by their qualities and not by their essence, it
is certain that the Divine Reality is unknown with regard to its essence
and is known with regard to its attributes. Besides, how can the
phenomenal reality embrace the Preexistent Reality? For comprehension is
the result of encompassing—embracing must be, so that comprehension may
be—and the Essence of Unity surrounds all and is not surrounded.

Also the difference of conditions in the world of beings is an obstacle to
comprehension. For example, this mineral belongs to the mineral kingdom;
however far it may rise, it can never comprehend the power of growth. The
plants, the trees, whatever progress they may make, cannot conceive of the
power of sight or the powers of the other senses; and the animal cannot
imagine the condition of man—that is to say, his spiritual powers.
Difference of condition is an obstacle to knowledge; the inferior degree
cannot comprehend the superior degree. How then can the phenomenal reality
comprehend the Preexistent Reality? Knowing God, therefore, means the
comprehension and the knowledge of His attributes, and not of His Reality.
This knowledge of the attributes is also proportioned to the capacity and
power of man; it is not absolute. Philosophy consists in comprehending the
reality of things as they exist, according to the capacity and the power
of man. For the phenomenal reality can comprehend the Preexistent
attributes only to the extent of the human capacity. The mystery of
Divinity is sanctified and purified from the comprehension of the beings,
for all that comes to the imagination is that which man understands, and
the power of the understanding of man does not embrace the Reality of the
Divine Essence. All that man is able to understand are the attributes of
Divinity, the radiance of which appears and is visible in the world and
within men’s souls.

When we look at the world and within men’s souls, we see wonderful signs
of the divine perfections, which are clear and apparent; for the reality
of things proves the Universal Reality. The Reality of Divinity may be
compared to the sun, which from the height of its magnificence shines upon
all the horizons; and each horizon, and each soul, receives a share of its
radiance. If this light and these rays did not exist, beings would not
exist; all beings express something and partake of some ray and portion of
this light. The splendors of the perfections, bounties and attributes of
God shine forth and radiate from the reality of the Perfect Man—that is to
say, the Unique One, the supreme Manifestation of God. Other beings
receive only one ray, but the supreme Manifestation is the mirror for this
Sun, which appears and becomes manifest in it, with all its perfections,
attributes, signs and wonders.

The knowledge of the Reality of the Divinity is impossible and
unattainable, but the knowledge of the Manifestations of God is the
knowledge of God, for the bounties, splendors and divine attributes are
apparent in Them. Therefore, if man attains to the knowledge of the
Manifestations of God, he will attain to the knowledge of God; and if he
be neglectful of the knowledge of the Holy Manifestations, he will be
bereft of the knowledge of God. It is then ascertained and proved that the
Holy Manifestations are the center of the bounty, signs and perfections of
God. Blessed are those who receive the light of the divine bounties from
the enlightened Dawning-points!

We hope that the Friends of God, like an attractive force, will draw these
bounties from the source itself, and that they will arise with such
illumination and signs that they will be evident proofs of the Sun of
Reality.



60: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (1)


Having shown that the spirit of man exists,(152) we must prove its
immortality.

The immortality of the spirit is mentioned in the Holy Books; it is the
fundamental basis of the divine religions. Now punishments and rewards are
said to be of two kinds: first, the rewards and punishments of this life;
second, those of the other world. But the paradise and hell of existence
are found in all the worlds of God, whether in this world or in the
spiritual heavenly worlds. Gaining these rewards is the gaining of eternal
life. That is why Christ said, “Act in such a way that you may find
eternal life, and that you may be born of water and the spirit, so that
you may enter into the Kingdom.”(153)

The rewards of this life are the virtues and perfections which adorn the
reality of man. For example, he was dark and becomes luminous; he was
ignorant and becomes wise; he was neglectful and becomes vigilant; he was
asleep and becomes awakened; he was dead and becomes living; he was blind
and becomes a seer; he was deaf and becomes a hearer; he was earthly and
becomes heavenly; he was material and becomes spiritual. Through these
rewards he gains spiritual birth and becomes a new creature. He becomes
the manifestation of the verse in the Gospel where it is said of the
disciples that they “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”(154)—that is to say, they were
delivered from the animal characteristics and qualities which are the
characteristics of human nature, and they became qualified with the divine
characteristics, which are the bounty of God. This is the meaning of the
second birth. For such people there is no greater torture than being
veiled from God, and no more severe punishment than sensual vices, dark
qualities, lowness of nature, engrossment in carnal desires. When they are
delivered through the light of faith from the darkness of these vices, and
become illuminated with the radiance of the sun of reality, and ennobled
with all the virtues, they esteem this the greatest reward, and they know
it to be the true paradise. In the same way they consider that the
spiritual punishment—that is to say, the torture and punishment of
existence—is to be subjected to the world of nature; to be veiled from
God; to be brutal and ignorant; to fall into carnal lusts; to be absorbed
in animal frailties; to be characterized with dark qualities, such as
falsehood, tyranny, cruelty, attachment to the affairs of the world, and
being immersed in satanic ideas. For them, these are the greatest
punishments and tortures.

Likewise, the rewards of the other world are the eternal life which is
clearly mentioned in all the Holy Books, the divine perfections, the
eternal bounties and everlasting felicity. The rewards of the other world
are the perfections and the peace obtained in the spiritual worlds after
leaving this world, while the rewards of this life are the real luminous
perfections which are realized in this world, and which are the cause of
eternal life, for they are the very progress of existence. It is like the
man who passes from the embryonic world to the state of maturity and
becomes the manifestation of these words: “Blessed, therefore, be God, the
most excellent of Makers.”(155) The rewards of the other world are peace,
the spiritual graces, the various spiritual gifts in the Kingdom of God,
the gaining of the desires of the heart and the soul, and the meeting of
God in the world of eternity. In the same way the punishments of the other
world—that is to say, the torments of the other world—consist in being
deprived of the special divine blessings and the absolute bounties, and
falling into the lowest degrees of existence. He who is deprived of these
divine favors, although he continues after death, is considered as dead by
the people of truth.

The logical proof of the immortality of the spirit is this, that no sign
can come from a nonexisting thing—that is to say, it is impossible that
from absolute nonexistence signs should appear—for the signs are the
consequence of an existence, and the consequence depends upon the
existence of the principle. So from a nonexisting sun no light can
radiate; from a nonexisting sea no waves appear; from a nonexisting cloud
no rain falls; a nonexisting tree yields no fruit; a nonexisting man
neither manifests nor produces anything. Therefore, as long as signs of
existence appear, they are a proof that the possessor of the sign is
existent.

Consider that today the Kingdom of Christ exists. From a nonexisting king
how could such a great kingdom be manifested? How, from a nonexisting sea,
can the waves mount so high? From a nonexisting garden, how can such
fragrant breezes be wafted? Reflect that no effect, no trace, no influence
remains of any being after its members are dispersed and its elements are
decomposed, whether it be a mineral, a vegetable or an animal. There is
only the human reality and the spirit of man which, after the
disintegration of the members, dispersing of the particles, and the
destruction of the composition, persists and continues to act and to have
power.

This question is extremely subtle: consider it attentively. This is a
rational proof which we are giving, so that the wise may weigh it in the
balance of reason and justice. But if the human spirit will rejoice and be
attracted to the Kingdom of God, if the inner sight becomes opened, and
the spiritual hearing strengthened, and the spiritual feelings
predominant, he will see the immortality of the spirit as clearly as he
sees the sun, and the glad tidings and signs of God will encompass him.

Tomorrow we will give other proofs.



61: THE IMMORTALITY OF THE SPIRIT (2)


Yesterday we were occupied in discussing the immortality of the spirit.
Know that the power and the comprehension of the human spirit are of two
kinds—that is to say, they perceive and act in two different modes. One
way is through instruments and organs: thus with this eye it sees; with
this ear it hears; with this tongue it talks. Such is the action of the
spirit, and the perception of the reality of man, by means of organs—that
is to say, that the spirit is the seer, through the eyes; the spirit is
the hearer, through the ear; the spirit is the speaker, through the
tongue.

The other manifestation of the powers and actions of the spirit is without
instruments and organs. For example, in the state of sleep without eyes it
sees; without an ear it hears; without a tongue it speaks; without feet it
runs. Briefly, these actions are beyond the means of instruments and
organs. How often it happens that it sees a dream in the world of sleep,
and its signification becomes apparent two years afterward in
corresponding events. In the same way, how many times it happens that a
question which one cannot solve in the world of wakefulness is solved in
the world of dreams. In wakefulness the eye sees only for a short
distance, but in dreams he who is in the East sees the West. Awake he sees
the present; in sleep he sees the future. In wakefulness, by means of
rapid transit, at the most he can travel only twenty farsakhs(156) an
hour; in sleep, in the twinkling of an eye, he traverses the East and
West. For the spirit travels in two different ways: without means, which
is spiritual traveling; and with means, which is material traveling: as
birds which fly, and those which are carried.

In the time of sleep this body is as though dead; it does not see nor
hear; it does not feel; it has no consciousness, no perception—that is to
say, the powers of man have become inactive, but the spirit lives and
subsists. Nay, its penetration is increased, its flight is higher, and its
intelligence is greater. To consider that after the death of the body the
spirit perishes is like imagining that a bird in a cage will be destroyed
if the cage is broken, though the bird has nothing to fear from the
destruction of the cage. Our body is like the cage, and the spirit is like
the bird. We see that without the cage this bird flies in the world of
sleep; therefore, if the cage becomes broken, the bird will continue and
exist. Its feelings will be even more powerful, its perceptions greater,
and its happiness increased. In truth, from hell it reaches a paradise of
delights because for the thankful birds there is no paradise greater than
freedom from the cage. That is why with utmost joy and happiness the
martyrs hasten to the plain of sacrifice.

In wakefulness the eye of man sees at the utmost as far as one hour of
distance(157) because through the instrumentality of the body the power of
the spirit is thus determined; but with the inner sight and the mental eye
it sees America, and it can perceive that which is there, and discover the
conditions of things and organize affairs. If, then, the spirit were the
same as the body, it would be necessary that the power of the inner sight
should also be in the same proportion. Therefore, it is evident that this
spirit is different from the body, and that the bird is different from the
cage, and that the power and penetration of the spirit is stronger without
the intermediary of the body. Now, if the instrument is abandoned, the
possessor of the instrument continues to act. For example, if the pen is
abandoned or broken, the writer remains living and present; if a house is
ruined, the owner is alive and existing. This is one of the logical
evidences for the immortality of the soul.

There is another: this body becomes weak or heavy or sick, or it finds
health; it becomes tired or rested; sometimes the hand or leg is
amputated, or its physical power is crippled; it becomes blind or deaf or
dumb; its limbs may become paralyzed; briefly, the body may have all the
imperfections. Nevertheless, the spirit in its original state, in its own
spiritual perception, will be eternal and perpetual; it neither finds any
imperfection, nor will it become crippled. But when the body is wholly
subjected to disease and misfortune, it is deprived of the bounty of the
spirit, like a mirror which, when it becomes broken or dirty or dusty,
cannot reflect the rays of the sun nor any longer show its bounties.

We have already explained that the spirit of man is not in the body
because it is freed and sanctified from entrance and exit, which are
bodily conditions. The connection of the spirit with the body is like that
of the sun with the mirror. Briefly, the human spirit is in one condition.
It neither becomes ill from the diseases of the body nor cured by its
health; it does not become sick, nor weak, nor miserable, nor poor, nor
light, nor small—that is to say, it will not be injured because of the
infirmities of the body, and no effect will be visible even if the body
becomes weak, or if the hands and feet and tongue be cut off, or if it
loses the power of hearing or sight. Therefore, it is evident and certain
that the spirit is different from the body, and that its duration is
independent of that of the body; on the contrary, the spirit with the
utmost greatness rules in the world of the body; and its power and
influence, like the bounty of the sun in the mirror, are apparent and
visible. But when the mirror becomes dusty or breaks, it will cease to
reflect the rays of the sun.



62: PERFECTIONS ARE WITHOUT LIMIT


Know that the conditions of existence are limited to the conditions of
servitude, of prophethood and of Deity, but the divine and the contingent
perfections are unlimited. When you reflect deeply, you discover that also
outwardly the perfections of existence are also unlimited, for you cannot
find a being so perfect that you cannot imagine a superior one. For
example, you cannot see a ruby in the mineral kingdom, a rose in the
vegetable kingdom, or a nightingale in the animal kingdom, without
imagining that there might be better specimens. As the divine bounties are
endless, so human perfections are endless. If it were possible to reach a
limit of perfection, then one of the realities of the beings might reach
the condition of being independent of God, and the contingent might attain
to the condition of the absolute. But for every being there is a point
which it cannot overpass—that is to say, he who is in the condition of
servitude, however far he may progress in gaining limitless perfections,
will never reach the condition of Deity. It is the same with the other
beings. A mineral, however far it may progress in the mineral kingdom,
cannot gain the vegetable power. Also in a flower, however far it may
progress in the vegetable kingdom, no power of the senses will appear. So
this silver mineral cannot gain hearing or sight; it can only improve in
its own condition and become a perfect mineral, but it cannot acquire the
power of growth, or the power of sensation, or attain to life; it can only
progress in its own condition.

For example, Peter cannot become Christ. All that he can do is, in the
condition of servitude, to attain endless perfections; for every existing
reality is capable of making progress. As the spirit of man after putting
off this material form has an everlasting life, certainly any existing
being is capable of making progress; therefore, it is permitted to ask for
advancement, forgiveness, mercy, beneficence and blessings for a man after
his death because existence is capable of progression. That is why in the
prayers of Bahá’u’lláh forgiveness and remission of sins are asked for
those who have died. Moreover, as people in this world are in need of God,
they will also need Him in the other world. The creatures are always in
need, and God is absolutely independent, whether in this world or in the
world to come.

The wealth of the other world is nearness to God. Consequently, it is
certain that those who are near the Divine Court are allowed to intercede,
and this intercession is approved by God. But intercession in the other
world is not like intercession in this world. It is another thing, another
reality, which cannot be expressed in words.

If a wealthy man at the time of his death bequeaths a gift to the poor and
miserable, and gives a part of his wealth to be spent for them, perhaps
this action may be the cause of his pardon and forgiveness, and of his
progress in the Divine Kingdom.

Also a father and mother endure the greatest troubles and hardships for
their children; and often when the children have reached the age of
maturity, the parents pass on to the other world. Rarely does it happen
that a father and mother in this world see the reward of the care and
trouble they have undergone for their children. Therefore, children, in
return for this care and trouble, must show forth charity and beneficence,
and must implore pardon and forgiveness for their parents. So you ought,
in return for the love and kindness shown you by your father, to give to
the poor for his sake, with greatest submission and humility implore
pardon and remission of sins, and ask for the supreme mercy.

It is even possible that the condition of those who have died in sin and
unbelief may become changed—that is to say, they may become the object of
pardon through the bounty of God, not through His justice—for bounty is
giving without desert, and justice is giving what is deserved. As we have
power to pray for these souls here, so likewise we shall possess the same
power in the other world, which is the Kingdom of God. Are not all the
people in that world the creatures of God? Therefore, in that world also
they can make progress. As here they can receive light by their
supplications, there also they can plead for forgiveness and receive light
through entreaties and supplications. Thus as souls in this world, through
the help of the supplications, the entreaties and the prayers of the holy
ones, can acquire development, so is it the same after death. Through
their own prayers and supplications they can also progress, more
especially when they are the object of the intercession of the Holy
Manifestations.



63: THE PROGRESS OF MAN IN THE OTHER WORLD


Know that nothing which exists remains in a state of repose—that is to
say, all things are in motion. Everything is either growing or declining;
all things are either coming from nonexistence into being, or going from
existence into nonexistence. So this flower, this hyacinth, during a
certain period of time was coming from the world of nonexistence into
being, and now it is going from being into nonexistence. This state of
motion is said to be essential—that is, natural; it cannot be separated
from beings because it is their essential requirement, as it is the
essential requirement of fire to burn.

Thus it is established that this movement is necessary to existence, which
is either growing or declining. Now, as the spirit continues to exist
after death, it necessarily progresses or declines; and in the other world
to cease to progress is the same as to decline; but it never leaves its
own condition, in which it continues to develop. For example, the reality
of the spirit of Peter, however far it may progress, will not reach to the
condition of the Reality of Christ; it progresses only in its own
environment.

Look at this mineral. However far it may evolve, it only evolves in its
own condition; you cannot bring the crystal to a state where it can attain
to sight. This is impossible. So the moon which is in the heavens, however
far it might evolve, could never become a luminous sun, but in its own
condition it has apogee and perigee. However far the disciples might
progress, they could never become Christ. It is true that coal could
become a diamond, but both are in the mineral condition, and their
component elements are the same.



64: THE STATE OF MAN AND HIS PROGRESS AFTER DEATH


When we consider beings with the seeing eye, we observe that they are
limited to three sorts—that is to say, as a whole they are either mineral,
vegetable or animal, each of these three classes containing species. Man
is the highest species because he is the possessor of the perfections of
all the classes—that is, he has a body which grows and which feels. As
well as having the perfections of the mineral, of the vegetable and of the
animal, he also possesses an especial excellence which the other beings
are without—that is, the intellectual perfections. Therefore, man is the
most noble of beings.

Man is in the highest degree of materiality, and at the beginning of
spirituality—that is to say, he is the end of imperfection and the
beginning of perfection. He is at the last degree of darkness, and at the
beginning of light; that is why it has been said that the condition of man
is the end of the night and the beginning of day, meaning that he is the
sum of all the degrees of imperfection, and that he possesses the degrees
of perfection. He has the animal side as well as the angelic side, and the
aim of an educator is to so train human souls that their angelic aspect
may overcome their animal side. Then if the divine power in man, which is
his essential perfection, overcomes the satanic power, which is absolute
imperfection, he becomes the most excellent among the creatures; but if
the satanic power overcomes the divine power, he becomes the lowest of the
creatures. That is why he is the end of imperfection and the beginning of
perfection. Not in any other of the species in the world of existence is
there such a difference, contrast, contradiction and opposition as in the
species of man. Thus the reflection of the Divine Light was in man, as in
Christ, and see how loved and honored He is! At the same time we see man
worshiping a stone, a clod of earth or a tree. How vile he is, in that his
object of worship should be the lowest existence—that is, a stone or clay,
without spirit; a mountain, a forest or a tree. What shame is greater for
man than to worship the lowest existences? In the same way, knowledge is a
quality of man, and so is ignorance; truthfulness is a quality of man; so
is falsehood; trustworthiness and treachery, justice and injustice, are
qualities of man, and so forth. Briefly, all the perfections and virtues,
and all the vices, are qualities of man.

Consider equally the differences between individual men. The Christ was in
the form of man, and Caiaphas was in the form of man; Moses and Pharaoh,
Abel and Cain, Bahá’u’lláh and Yaḥyá,(158) were men.

Man is said to be the greatest representative of God, and he is the Book
of Creation because all the mysteries of beings exist in him. If he comes
under the shadow of the True Educator and is rightly trained, he becomes
the essence of essences, the light of lights, the spirit of spirits; he
becomes the center of the divine appearances, the source of spiritual
qualities, the rising-place of heavenly lights, and the receptacle of
divine inspirations. If he is deprived of this education, he becomes the
manifestation of satanic qualities, the sum of animal vices, and the
source of all dark conditions.

The reason of the mission of the Prophets is to educate men, so that this
piece of coal may become a diamond, and this fruitless tree may be
engrafted and yield the sweetest, most delicious fruits. When man reaches
the noblest state in the world of humanity, then he can make further
progress in the conditions of perfection, but not in state; for such
states are limited, but the divine perfections are endless.

Both before and after putting off this material form, there is progress in
perfection but not in state. So beings are consummated in perfect man.
There is no other being higher than a perfect man. But man when he has
reached this state can still make progress in perfections but not in state
because there is no state higher than that of a perfect man to which he
can transfer himself. He only progresses in the state of humanity, for the
human perfections are infinite. Thus, however learned a man may be, we can
imagine one more learned.

Hence, as the perfections of humanity are endless, man can also make
progress in perfections after leaving this world.



65: EXPLANATION OF A VERSE IN THE KITÁB-I-AQDAS


Question.—It is said in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas “...whoso is deprived thereof,
hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed.” What
is the meaning of this verse?

Answer.—This blessed verse means that the foundation of success and
salvation is the knowledge of God, and that the results of the knowledge
of God are the good actions which are the fruits of faith.

If man has not this knowledge, he will be separated from God, and when
this separation exists, good actions have not complete effect. This verse
does not mean that the souls separated from God are equal, whether they
perform good or bad actions. It signifies only that the foundation is to
know God, and the good actions result from this knowledge. Nevertheless,
it is certain that between the good, the sinners and the wicked who are
veiled from God there is a difference. For the veiled one who has good
principles and character deserves the pardon of God, while he who is a
sinner, and has bad qualities and character, is deprived of the bounties
and blessings of God. Herein lies the difference.

Therefore, the blessed verse means that good actions alone, without the
knowledge of God, cannot be the cause of eternal salvation, everlasting
success, and prosperity, and entrance into the Kingdom of God.



66: THE EXISTENCE OF THE RATIONAL SOUL AFTER THE DEATH OF THE BODY


Question.—After the body is put aside and the spirit has obtained freedom,
in what way will the rational soul exist? Let us suppose that the souls
who are assisted by the bounty of the Holy Spirit attain to true existence
and eternal life. But what becomes of the rational souls—that is to say,
the veiled spirits?(159)

Answer.—Some think that the body is the substance and exists by itself,
and that the spirit is accidental and depends upon the substance of the
body, although, on the contrary, the rational soul is the substance, and
the body depends upon it. If the accident—that is to say, the body—be
destroyed, the substance, the spirit, remains.

Second, the rational soul, meaning the human spirit, does not descend into
the body—that is to say, it does not enter it, for descent and entrance
are characteristics of bodies, and the rational soul is exempt from this.
The spirit never entered this body, so in quitting it, it will not be in
need of an abiding-place: no, the spirit is connected with the body, as
this light is with this mirror. When the mirror is clear and perfect, the
light of the lamp will be apparent in it, and when the mirror becomes
covered with dust or breaks, the light will disappear.

The rational soul—that is to say, the human spirit—has neither entered
this body nor existed through it; so after the disintegration of the
composition of the body, how should it be in need of a substance through
which it may exist? On the contrary, the rational soul is the substance
through which the body exists. The personality of the rational soul is
from its beginning; it is not due to the instrumentality of the body, but
the state and the personality of the rational soul may be strengthened in
this world; it will make progress and will attain to the degrees of
perfection, or it will remain in the lowest abyss of ignorance, veiled and
deprived from beholding the signs of God.

Question.—Through what means will the spirit of man—that is to say, the
rational soul—after departing from this mortal world, make progress?

Answer.—The progress of man’s spirit in the divine world, after the
severance of its connection with the body of dust, is through the bounty
and grace of the Lord alone, or through the intercession and the sincere
prayers of other human souls, or through the charities and important good
works which are performed in its name.



THE IMMORTALITY OF CHILDREN


Question.—What is the condition of children who die before attaining the
age of discretion or before the appointed time of birth?

Answer.—These infants are under the shadow of the favor of God; and as
they have not committed any sin and are not soiled with the impurities of
the world of nature, they are the centers of the manifestation of bounty,
and the Eye of Compassion will be turned upon them.



67: ETERNAL LIFE AND ENTRANCE INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD


You question about eternal life and the entrance into the Kingdom. The
outer expression used for the Kingdom is heaven; but this is a comparison
and similitude, not a reality or fact, for the Kingdom is not a material
place; it is sanctified from time and place. It is a spiritual world, a
divine world, and the center of the Sovereignty of God; it is freed from
body and that which is corporeal, and it is purified and sanctified from
the imaginations of the human world. To be limited to place is a property
of bodies and not of spirits. Place and time surround the body, not the
mind and spirit. Observe that the body of man is confined to a small
place; it covers only two spans of earth. But the spirit and mind of man
travel to all countries and regions—even through the limitless space of
the heavens—surround all that exists, and make discoveries in the exalted
spheres and infinite distances. This is because the spirit has no place;
it is placeless; and for the spirit the earth and the heaven are as one
since it makes discoveries in both. But the body is limited to a place and
does not know that which is beyond it.

For life is of two kinds: that of the body and that of the spirit. The
life of the body is material life, but the life of the spirit expresses
the existence of the Kingdom, which consists in receiving the Spirit of
God and becoming vivified by the breath of the Holy Spirit. Although the
material life has existence, it is pure nonexistence and absolute death
for the holy saints. So man exists, and this stone also exists, but what a
difference between the existence of man and that of the stone! Though the
stone exists, in relation to the existence of man it is nonexistent.

The meaning of eternal life is the gift of the Holy Spirit, as the flower
receives the gift of the season, the air, and the breezes of spring.
Consider: this flower had life in the beginning like the life of the
mineral; but by the coming of the season of spring, of the bounty of the
clouds of the springtime, and of the heat of the glowing sun, it attained
to another life of the utmost freshness, delicacy and fragrance. The first
life of the flower, in comparison to the second life, is death.

The meaning is that the life of the Kingdom is the life of the spirit, the
eternal life, and that it is purified from place, like the spirit of man
which has no place. For if you examine the human body, you will not find a
special spot or locality for the spirit, for it has never had a place; it
is immaterial. It has a connection with the body like that of the sun with
this mirror. The sun is not within the mirror, but it has a connection
with the mirror.

In the same way the world of the Kingdom is sanctified from everything
that can be perceived by the eye or by the other senses—hearing, smell,
taste or touch. The mind which is in man, the existence of which is
recognized—where is it in him? If you examine the body with the eye, the
ear or the other senses, you will not find it; nevertheless, it exists.
Therefore, the mind has no place, but it is connected with the brain. The
Kingdom is also like this. In the same way love has no place, but it is
connected with the heart; so the Kingdom has no place, but is connected
with man.

Entrance into the Kingdom is through the love of God, through detachment,
through holiness and chastity, through truthfulness, purity,
steadfastness, faithfulness and the sacrifice of life.

These explanations show that man is immortal and lives eternally. For
those who believe in God, who have love of God, and faith, life is
excellent—that is, it is eternal; but to those souls who are veiled from
God, although they have life, it is dark, and in comparison with the life
of believers it is nonexistence.

For example, the eye and the nail are living; but the life of the nail in
relation to the life of the eye is nonexistent. This stone and this man
both exist; but the stone in relation to the existence of man is
nonexistent; it has no being; for when man dies, and his body is destroyed
and annihilated, it becomes like stone and earth. Therefore, it is clear
that although the mineral exists, in relation to man it is nonexistent.

In the same way, the souls who are veiled from God, although they exist in
this world and in the world after death, are, in comparison with the holy
existence of the children of the Kingdom of God, nonexisting and separated
from God.



68: FATE


Question.—Is the predestination which is mentioned in the Holy Books a
decreed thing? If so, is not the effort to avoid it useless?

Answer.—Fate is of two kinds: one is decreed, and the other is conditional
or impending. The decreed fate is that which cannot change or be altered,
and conditional fate is that which may occur. So, for this lamp, the
decreed fate is that the oil burns and will be consumed; therefore, its
eventual extinction is a decree which it is impossible to alter or to
change because it is a decreed fate. In the same way, in the body of man a
power of life has been created, and as soon as it is destroyed and ended,
the body will certainly be decomposed, so when the oil in this lamp is
burnt and finished, the lamp will undoubtedly become extinguished.

But conditional fate may be likened to this: while there is still oil, a
violent wind blows on the lamp, which extinguishes it. This is a
conditional fate. It is wise to avoid it, to protect oneself from it, to
be cautious and circumspect. But the decreed fate, which is like the
finishing of the oil in the lamp, cannot be altered, changed nor delayed.
It must happen; it is inevitable that the lamp will become extinguished.



69: THE INFLUENCE OF THE STARS


Question.—Have the stars of the heavens any influence upon the human soul,
or have they not?

Answer.—Some of the celestial stars have a clear and apparent material
effect upon the terrestrial globe and the earthly beings, which needs no
explanation. Consider the sun, which through the aid and the providence of
God develops the earth and all earthly beings. Without the light and heat
of the sun, all the earthly creatures would be entirely nonexistent.

With regard to the spiritual influence of stars, though this influence of
stars in the human world may appear strange, still, if you reflect deeply
upon this subject, you will not be so much surprised at it. My meaning is
not, however, that the decrees which the astrologers of former times
inferred from the movements of the stars corresponded to occurrences; for
the decrees of those former astrologers were forms of imagination which
were originated by Egyptian, Assyrian and Chaldean priests; nay, rather,
they were due to the fancies of Hindus, to the myths of the Greeks, Romans
and other star worshipers. But I mean that this limitless universe is like
the human body, all the members of which are connected and linked with one
another with the greatest strength. How much the organs, the members and
the parts of the body of man are intermingled and connected for mutual aid
and help, and how much they influence one another! In the same way, the
parts of this infinite universe have their members and elements connected
with one another, and influence one another spiritually and materially.

For example, the eye sees, and all the body is affected; the ear hears,
and all the members of the body are moved. Of this there is no doubt; and
the universe is like a living person. Moreover, the connection which
exists between the members of beings must necessarily have an effect and
impression, whether it be material or spiritual.

For those who deny spiritual influence upon material things we mention
this brief example: wonderful sounds and tones, melodies and charming
voices, are accidents which affect the air—for sound is the term for
vibrations of the air—and by these vibrations the nerves of the tympanum
of the ear are affected, and hearing results. Now reflect that the
vibration of the air, which is an accident of no importance, attracts and
exhilarates the spirit of man and has great effect upon him: it makes him
weep or laugh; perhaps it will influence him to such a degree that he will
throw himself into danger. Therefore, see the connection which exists
between the spirit of man and the atmospheric vibration, so that the
movement of the air becomes the cause of transporting him from one state
to another, and of entirely overpowering him; it will deprive him of
patience and tranquillity. Consider how strange this is, for nothing comes
forth from the singer which enters into the listener; nevertheless, a
great spiritual effect is produced. Therefore, surely so great a
connection between beings must have spiritual effect and influence.

It has been mentioned that the members and parts of man affect and
influence one another. For example, the eye sees; the heart is affected.
The ear hears; and the spirit is influenced. The heart is at rest; the
thoughts become serene, and for all the members of man’s body a pleasant
condition is realized. What a connection and what an agreement is this!
Since this connection, this spiritual effect and this influence, exists
between the members of the body of man, who is only one of many finite
beings, certainly between these universal and infinite beings there will
also be a spiritual and material connection. Although by existing rules
and actual science these connections cannot be discovered, nevertheless,
their existence between all beings is certain and absolute.

To conclude: the beings, whether great or small, are connected with one
another by the perfect wisdom of God, and affect and influence one
another. If it were not so, in the universal system and the general
arrangement of existence, there would be disorder and imperfection. But as
beings are connected one with another with the greatest strength, they are
in order in their places and perfect.

This subject is worthy of examination.



70: FREE WILL


Question.—Is man a free agent in all his actions, or is he compelled and
constrained?

Answer.—This question is one of the most important and abstruse of divine
problems. If God wills, another day, at the beginning of dinner, we will
undertake the explanation of this subject in detail; now we will explain
it briefly, in a few words, as follows. Some things are subject to the
free will of man, such as justice, equity, tyranny and injustice, in other
words, good and evil actions; it is evident and clear that these actions
are, for the most part, left to the will of man. But there are certain
things to which man is forced and compelled, such as sleep, death,
sickness, decline of power, injuries and misfortunes; these are not
subject to the will of man, and he is not responsible for them, for he is
compelled to endure them. But in the choice of good and bad actions he is
free, and he commits them according to his own will.

For example, if he wishes, he can pass his time in praising God, or he can
be occupied with other thoughts. He can be an enkindled light through the
fire of the love of God, and a philanthropist loving the world, or he can
be a hater of mankind, and engrossed with material things. He can be just
or cruel. These actions and these deeds are subject to the control of the
will of man himself; consequently, he is responsible for them.

Now another question arises. Man is absolutely helpless and dependent,
since might and power belong especially to God. Both exaltation and
humiliation depend upon the good pleasure and the will of the Most High.

It is said in the New Testament that God is like a potter who makes “one
vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour.”(160) Now the dishonored
vessel has no right to find fault with the potter saying, “Why did you not
make me a precious cup, which is passed from hand to hand?” The meaning of
this verse is that the states of beings are different. That which is in
the lowest state of existence, like the mineral, has no right to complain,
saying, “O God, why have You not given me the vegetable perfections?” In
the same way, the plant has no right to complain that it has been deprived
of the perfections of the animal world. Also it is not befitting for the
animal to complain of the want of the human perfections. No, all these
things are perfect in their own degree, and they must strive after the
perfections of their own degree. The inferior beings, as we have said,
have neither the right to, nor the fitness for, the states of the superior
perfections. No, their progress must be in their own state.

Also the inaction or the movement of man depend upon the assistance of
God. If he is not aided, he is not able to do either good or evil. But
when the help of existence comes from the Generous Lord, he is able to do
both good and evil; but if the help is cut off, he remains absolutely
helpless. This is why in the Holy Books they speak of the help and
assistance of God. So this condition is like that of a ship which is moved
by the power of the wind or steam; if this power ceases, the ship cannot
move at all. Nevertheless, the rudder of the ship turns it to either side,
and the power of the steam moves it in the desired direction. If it is
directed to the east, it goes to the east; or if it is directed to the
west, it goes to the west. This motion does not come from the ship; no, it
comes from the wind or the steam.

In the same way, in all the action or inaction of man, he receives power
from the help of God; but the choice of good or evil belongs to the man
himself. So if a king should appoint someone to be the governor of a city,
and should grant him the power of authority, and should show him the paths
of justice and injustice according to the laws—if then this governor
should commit injustice, although he should act by the authority and power
of the king, the latter would be absolved from injustice. But if he should
act with justice, he would do it also through the authority of the king,
who would be pleased and satisfied.

That is to say, though the choice of good and evil belongs to man, under
all circumstances he is dependent upon the sustaining help of life, which
comes from the Omnipotent. The Kingdom of God is very great, and all are
captives in the grasp of His Power. The servant cannot do anything by his
own will; God is powerful, omnipotent, and the Helper of all beings.

This question has become clearly explained. Salutations!



71: VISIONS AND COMMUNICATION WITH SPIRITS


Question.—Some people believe that they achieve spiritual discoveries—that
is to say, that they converse with spirits. What kind of communion is
this?

Answer.—Spiritual discoveries are of two kinds: one kind is of the
imagination and is only the assertion of a few people; the other kind
resembles inspiration, and this is real—such are the revelations of
Isaiah, of Jeremiah and of St. John, which are real.

Reflect that man’s power of thought consists of two kinds. One kind is
true, when it agrees with a determined truth. Such conceptions find
realization in the exterior world; such are accurate opinions, correct
theories, scientific discoveries and inventions.

The other kind of conceptions is made up of vain thoughts and useless
ideas which yield neither fruit nor result, and which have no reality. No,
they surge like the waves of the sea of imaginations, and they pass away
like idle dreams.

In the same way, there are two sorts of spiritual discoveries. One is the
revelations of the Prophets, and the spiritual discoveries of the elect.
The visions of the Prophets are not dreams; no, they are spiritual
discoveries and have reality. They say, for example, “I saw a person in a
certain form, and I said such a thing, and he gave such an answer.” This
vision is in the world of wakefulness, and not in that of sleep. Nay, it
is a spiritual discovery which is expressed as if it were the appearance
of a vision.

The other kind of spiritual discoveries is made up of pure imaginations,
but these imaginations become embodied in such a way that many
simple-hearted people believe that they have a reality. That which proves
it clearly is that from this controlling of spirits no result or fruit has
ever been produced. No, they are but narratives and stories.

Know that the reality of man embraces the realities of things, and
discovers the verities, properties and secrets of things. So all these
arts, wonders, sciences and knowledge have been discovered by the human
reality. At one time these sciences, knowledge, wonders and arts were
hidden and concealed secrets; then gradually the human reality discovered
them and brought them from the realm of the invisible to the plane of the
visible. Therefore, it is evident that the reality of man embraces things.
Thus it is in Europe and discovers America; it is on the earth, and it
makes discoveries in the heavens. It is the revealer of the secrets of
things, and it is the knower of the realities of that which exists. These
discoveries corresponding to the reality are similar to revelation, which
is spiritual comprehension, divine inspiration and the association of
human spirits. For instance, the Prophet says, “I saw, I said, I heard
such a thing.” It is, therefore, evident that the spirit has great
perception without the intermediary of any of the five senses, such as the
eyes or ears. Among spiritual souls there are spiritual understandings,
discoveries, a communion which is purified from imagination and fancy, an
association which is sanctified from time and place. So it is written in
the Gospel that, on Mount Tabor, Moses and Elias came to Christ, and it is
evident that this was not a material meeting. It was a spiritual condition
which is expressed as a physical meeting.

The other sort of converse, presence and communications of spirits is but
imagination and fancy, which only appears to have reality.

The mind and the thought of man sometimes discover truths, and from this
thought and discovery signs and results are produced. This thought has a
foundation. But many things come to the mind of man which are like the
waves of the sea of imaginations; they have no fruit, and no result comes
from them. In the same way, man sees in the world of sleep a vision which
becomes exactly realized; at another time, he sees a dream which has
absolutely no result.

What we mean is that this state, which we call the converse and
communications of spirits, is of two kinds: one is simply imaginary, and
the other is like the visions which are mentioned in the Holy Book, such
as the revelations of St. John and Isaiah and the meeting of Christ with
Moses and Elias. These are real, and produce wonderful effects in the
minds and thoughts of men, and cause their hearts to be attracted.



72: HEALING BY SPIRITUAL MEANS


Question.—Some people heal the sick by spiritual means—that is to say,
without medicine. How is this?

Answer.—Know that there are four kinds of curing and healing without
medicine. Two are due to material causes, and two to spiritual causes.

Of the two kinds of material healing, one is due to the fact that in man
both health and sickness are contagious. The contagion of disease is
violent and rapid, while that of health is extremely weak and slow. If two
bodies are brought into contact with each other, it is certain that
microbic particles will pass from one to the other. In the same way that
disease is transferred from one body to another with rapid and strong
contagion, it may be that the strong health of a healthy man will
alleviate a very slight malady in a sick person. That is to say, the
contagion of disease is violent and has a rapid effect, while that of
health is very slow and has a small effect, and it is only in very slight
diseases that it has even this small effect. The strong power of a healthy
body can overcome a slight weakness of a sick body, and health results.
This is one kind of healing.

The other kind of healing without medicine is through the magnetic force
which acts from one body on another and becomes the cause of cure. This
force also has only a slight effect. Sometimes one can benefit a sick
person by placing one’s hand upon his head or upon his heart. Why? Because
of the effect of the magnetism, and of the mental impression made upon the
sick person, which causes the disease to vanish. But this effect is also
very slight and weak.

Of the two other kinds of healing which are spiritual—that is to say,
where the means of cure is a spiritual power—one results from the entire
concentration of the mind of a strong person upon a sick person, when the
latter expects with all his concentrated faith that a cure will be
effected from the spiritual power of the strong person, to such an extent
that there will be a cordial connection between the strong person and the
invalid. The strong person makes every effort to cure the sick patient,
and the sick patient is then sure of receiving a cure. From the effect of
these mental impressions an excitement of the nerves is produced, and this
impression and this excitement of the nerves will become the cause of the
recovery of the sick person. So when a sick person has a strong desire and
intense hope for something and hears suddenly the tidings of its
realization, a nervous excitement is produced which will make the malady
entirely disappear. In the same way, if a cause of terror suddenly occurs,
perhaps an excitement may be produced in the nerves of a strong person
which will immediately cause a malady. The cause of the sickness will be
no material thing, for that person has not eaten anything, and nothing
harmful has touched him; the excitement of the nerves is then the only
cause of the illness. In the same way the sudden realization of a chief
desire will give such joy that the nerves will be excited by it, and this
excitement may produce health.

To conclude, the complete and perfect connection between the spiritual
doctor and the sick person—that is, a connection of such a kind that the
spiritual doctor entirely concentrates himself, and all the attention of
the sick person is given to the spiritual doctor from whom he expects to
realize health—causes an excitement of the nerves, and health is produced.
But all this has effect only to a certain extent, and that not always. For
if someone is afflicted with a very violent disease, or is wounded, these
means will not remove the disease nor close and heal the wound—that is to
say, these means have no power in severe maladies, unless the constitution
helps, because a strong constitution often overcomes disease. This is the
third kind of healing.

But the fourth kind of healing is produced through the power of the Holy
Spirit. This does not depend on contact, nor on sight, nor upon presence;
it is not dependent upon any condition. Whether the disease be light or
severe, whether there be a contact of bodies or not, whether a personal
connection be established between the sick person and the healer or not,
this healing takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit.



73: HEALING BY MATERIAL MEANS


Yesterday at table we spoke of curative treatment and spiritual healing,
which consists in treating maladies through the spiritual powers.

Now let us speak of material healing. The science of medicine is still in
a condition of infancy; it has not reached maturity. But when it has
reached this point, cures will be performed by things which are not
repulsive to the smell and taste of man—that is to say, by aliments,
fruits and vegetables which are agreeable to the taste and have an
agreeable smell. For the provoking cause of disease—that is to say, the
cause of the entrance of disease into the human body—is either a physical
one or is the effect of excitement of the nerves.

But the principal causes of disease are physical, for the human body is
composed of numerous elements, but in the measure of an especial
equilibrium. As long as this equilibrium is maintained, man is preserved
from disease; but if this essential balance, which is the pivot of the
constitution, is disturbed, the constitution is disordered, and disease
will supervene.

For instance, there is a decrease in one of the constituent ingredients of
the body of man, and in another there is an increase; so the proportion of
the equilibrium is disturbed, and disease occurs. For example, one
ingredient must be one thousand grams in weight, and another five grams,
in order that the equilibrium be maintained. The part which is one
thousand grams diminishes to seven hundred grams, and that which is five
grams augments until the measure of the equilibrium is disturbed; then
disease occurs. When by remedies and treatments the equilibrium is
reestablished, the disease is banished. So if the sugar constituent
increases, the health is impaired; and when the doctor forbids sweet and
starchy foods, the sugar constituent diminishes, the equilibrium is
reestablished, and the disease is driven off. Now the readjustment of
these constituents of the human body is obtained by two means—either by
medicines or by aliments; and when the constitution has recovered its
equilibrium, disease is banished. All the elements that are combined in
man exist also in vegetables; therefore, if one of the constituents which
compose the body of man diminishes, and he partakes of foods in which
there is much of that diminished constituent, then the equilibrium will be
established, and a cure will be obtained. So long as the aim is the
readjustment of the constituents of the body, it can be effected either by
medicine or by food.

The majority of the diseases which overtake man also overtake the animal,
but the animal is not cured by drugs. In the mountains, as in the
wilderness, the animal’s physician is the power of taste and smell. The
sick animal smells the plants that grow in the wilderness; he eats those
that are sweet and fragrant to his smell and taste, and is cured. The
cause of his healing is this. When the sugar ingredient has become
diminished in his constitution, he begins to long for sweet things;
therefore, he eats an herb with a sweet taste, for nature urges and guides
him; its smell and taste please him, and he eats it. The sugar ingredient
in his nature will be increased, and health will be restored.

It is, therefore, evident that it is possible to cure by foods, aliments
and fruits; but as today the science of medicine is imperfect, this fact
is not yet fully grasped. When the science of medicine reaches perfection,
treatment will be given by foods, aliments, fragrant fruits and
vegetables, and by various waters, hot and cold in temperature.

This discourse is brief; but, if God wills, at another time, when the
occasion is suitable, this question will be more fully explained.



PART FIVE: MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS



74: THE NONEXISTENCE OF EVIL


The true explanation of this subject is very difficult. Know that beings
are of two kinds: material and spiritual, those perceptible to the senses
and those intellectual.

Things which are sensible are those which are perceived by the five
exterior senses; thus those outward existences which the eyes see are
called sensible. Intellectual things are those which have no outward
existence but are conceptions of the mind. For example, mind itself is an
intellectual thing which has no outward existence. All man’s
characteristics and qualities form an intellectual existence and are not
sensible.

Briefly, the intellectual realities, such as all the qualities and
admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply
their nonexistence. So ignorance is the want of knowledge; error is the
want of guidance; forgetfulness is the want of memory; stupidity is the
want of good sense. All these things have no real existence.

In the same way, the sensible realities are absolutely good, and evil is
due to their nonexistence—that is to say, blindness is the want of sight,
deafness is the want of hearing, poverty is the want of wealth, illness is
the want of health, death is the want of life, and weakness is the want of
strength.

Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind—that is, scorpions and serpents
are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a
scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man;
but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is their
weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of
their poison do not agree with our elements—that is to say, as there is
antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is
evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good.

The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in
relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of
its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no
evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is
nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives
life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light,
there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is
nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting.

Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence. Good exists;
evil is nonexistent.



75: TWO KINDS OF TORMENT


Know that there are two kinds of torment: subtile and gross. For example,
ignorance itself is a torment, but it is a subtile torment; indifference
to God is itself a torment; so also are falsehood, cruelty and treachery.
All the imperfections are torments, but they are subtile torments.
Certainly for an intelligent man death is better than sin, and a cut
tongue is better than lying or calumny.

The other kind of torment is gross—such as penalties, imprisonment,
beating, expulsion and banishment. But for the people of God separation
from God is the greatest torment of all.



76: THE JUSTICE AND MERCY OF GOD


Know that to do justice is to give to everyone according to his deserts.
For example, when a workman labors from morning until evening, justice
requires that he shall be paid his wages; but when he has done no work and
taken no trouble, he is given a gift: this is bounty. If you give alms and
gifts to a poor man although he has taken no trouble for you, nor done
anything to deserve it, this is bounty. So Christ besought forgiveness for
his murderers: this is called bounty.

Now the question of the good or evil of things is determined by reason or
by law. Some believe that it is determined by law; such are the Jews, who,
believing all the commandments of the Pentateuch to be absolutely
obligatory, regard them as matters of law, not of reason. Thus they say
that one of the commandments of the Pentateuch is that it is unlawful to
partake of meat and butter together because it is taref, and taref in
Hebrew means unclean, as kosher means clean. This, they say, is a question
of law and not of reason.

But the theologians think that the good and evil of things depend upon
both reason and law. The chief foundation of the prohibition of murder,
theft, treachery, falsehood, hypocrisy and cruelty, is reason. Every
intelligent man comprehends that murder, theft, treachery, falsehood,
hypocrisy and cruelty are evil and reprehensible; for if you prick a man
with a thorn, he will cry out, complain and groan; so it is evident that
he will understand that murder according to reason is evil and
reprehensible. If he commits a murder, he will be responsible, whether the
renown of the Prophet has reached him or not; for it is reason that
formulates the reprehensible character of the action. When a man commits
this bad action, he will surely be responsible.

But in a place where the commands of a Prophet are not known, and where
the people do not act in conformity with the divine instructions, such as
the command of Christ to return good for evil, but act according to the
desires of nature—that is, if they torment those who torment them—from the
point of view of religion they are excused because the divine command has
not been delivered to them. Though they do not deserve mercy and
beneficence, nevertheless, God treats them with mercy and forgives them.

Now vengeance, according to reason, is also blameworthy, because through
vengeance no good result is gained by the avenger. So if a man strikes
another, and he who is struck takes revenge by returning the blow, what
advantage will he gain? Will this be a balm for his wound or a remedy for
his pain? No, God forbid! In truth the two actions are the same: both are
injuries; the only difference is that one occurred first, and the other
afterward. Therefore, if he who is struck forgives, nay, if he acts in a
manner contrary to that which has been used toward him, this is laudable.
The law of the community will punish the aggressor but will not take
revenge. This punishment has for its end to warn, to protect and to oppose
cruelty and transgression so that other men may not be tyrannical.

But if he who has been struck pardons and forgives, he shows the greatest
mercy. This is worthy of admiration.



77: THE RIGHT METHOD OF TREATING CRIMINALS


Question.—Should a criminal be punished, or forgiven and his crime
overlooked?

Answer.—There are two sorts of retributory punishments. One is vengeance,
the other, chastisement. Man has not the right to take vengeance, but the
community has the right to punish the criminal; and this punishment is
intended to warn and to prevent so that no other person will dare to
commit a like crime. This punishment is for the protection of man’s
rights, but it is not vengeance; vengeance appeases the anger of the heart
by opposing one evil to another. This is not allowable, for man has not
the right to take vengeance. But if criminals were entirely forgiven, the
order of the world would be upset. So punishment is one of the essential
necessities for the safety of communities, but he who is oppressed by a
transgressor has not the right to take vengeance. On the contrary, he
should forgive and pardon, for this is worthy of the world of man.

The communities must punish the oppressor, the murderer, the malefactor,
so as to warn and restrain others from committing like crimes. But the
most essential thing is that the people must be educated in such a way
that no crimes will be committed; for it is possible to educate the masses
so effectively that they will avoid and shrink from perpetrating crimes,
so that the crime itself will appear to them as the greatest chastisement,
the utmost condemnation and torment. Therefore, no crimes which require
punishment will be committed.

We must speak of things that are possible of performance in this world.
There are many theories and high ideas on this subject, but they are not
practicable; consequently, we must speak of things that are feasible.

For example, if someone oppresses, injures and wrongs another, and the
wronged man retaliates, this is vengeance and is censurable. If the son of
‘Amr kills the son of Zayd, Zayd has not the right to kill the son of
‘Amr; if he does so, this is vengeance. If ‘Amr dishonors Zayd, the latter
has not the right to dishonor ‘Amr; if he does so, this is vengeance, and
it is very reprehensible. No, rather he must return good for evil, and not
only forgive, but also, if possible, be of service to his oppressor. This
conduct is worthy of man: for what advantage does he gain by vengeance?
The two actions are equivalent; if one action is reprehensible, both are
reprehensible. The only difference is that one was committed first, the
other later.

But the community has the right of defense and of self-protection;
moreover, the community has no hatred nor animosity for the murderer: it
imprisons or punishes him merely for the protection and security of
others. It is not for the purpose of taking vengeance upon the murderer,
but for the purpose of inflicting a punishment by which the community will
be protected. If the community and the inheritors of the murdered one were
to forgive and return good for evil, the cruel would be continually
ill-treating others, and assassinations would continually occur. Vicious
people, like wolves, would destroy the sheep of God. The community has no
ill-will and rancor in the infliction of punishment, and it does not
desire to appease the anger of the heart; its purpose is by punishment to
protect others so that no atrocious actions may be committed.

Thus when Christ said: “Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek,
turn to him the left one also,”(161) it was for the purpose of teaching
men not to take personal revenge. He did not mean that, if a wolf should
fall upon a flock of sheep and wish to destroy it, the wolf should be
encouraged to do so. No, if Christ had known that a wolf had entered the
fold and was about to destroy the sheep, most certainly He would have
prevented it.

As forgiveness is one of the attributes of the Merciful One, so also
justice is one of the attributes of the Lord. The tent of existence is
upheld upon the pillar of justice and not upon forgiveness. The
continuance of mankind depends upon justice and not upon forgiveness. So
if, at present, the law of pardon were practiced in all countries, in a
short time the world would be disordered, and the foundations of human
life would crumble. For example, if the governments of Europe had not
withstood the notorious Attila, he would not have left a single living
man.

Some people are like bloodthirsty wolves: if they see no punishment
forthcoming, they will kill men merely for pleasure and diversion. One of
the tyrants of Persia killed his tutor merely for the sake of making
merry, for mere fun and sport. The famous Mutavakkil, the Abbasid, having
summoned his ministers, councillors and functionaries to his presence, let
loose a box full of scorpions in the assembly and forbade anyone to move.
When the scorpions stung those present, he burst forth into boisterous
laughter.

To recapitulate: the constitution of the communities depends upon justice,
not upon forgiveness. Then what Christ meant by forgiveness and pardon is
not that, when nations attack you, burn your homes, plunder your goods,
assault your wives, children and relatives, and violate your honor, you
should be submissive in the presence of these tyrannical foes and allow
them to perform all their cruelties and oppressions. No, the words of
Christ refer to the conduct of two individuals toward each other: if one
person assaults another, the injured one should forgive him. But the
communities must protect the rights of man. So if someone assaults,
injures, oppresses and wounds me, I will offer no resistance, and I will
forgive him. But if a person wishes to assault Siyyid Man_sh_adí,(162)
certainly I will prevent him. Although for the malefactor noninterference
is apparently a kindness, it would be an oppression to Man_sh_adí. If at
this moment a wild Arab were to enter this place with a drawn sword,
wishing to assault, wound and kill you, most assuredly I would prevent
him. If I abandoned you to the Arab, that would not be justice but
injustice. But if he injure me personally, I would forgive him.

One thing remains to be said: it is that the communities are day and night
occupied in making penal laws, and in preparing and organizing instruments
and means of punishment. They build prisons, make chains and fetters,
arrange places of exile and banishment, and different kinds of hardships
and tortures, and think by these means to discipline criminals, whereas,
in reality, they are causing destruction of morals and perversion of
characters. The community, on the contrary, ought day and night to strive
and endeavor with the utmost zeal and effort to accomplish the education
of men, to cause them day by day to progress and to increase in science
and knowledge, to acquire virtues, to gain good morals and to avoid vices,
so that crimes may not occur. At the present time the contrary prevails;
the community is always thinking of enforcing the penal laws, and of
preparing means of punishment, instruments of death and chastisement,
places for imprisonment and banishment; and they expect crimes to be
committed. This has a demoralizing effect.

But if the community would endeavor to educate the masses, day by day
knowledge and sciences would increase, the understanding would be
broadened, the sensibilities developed, customs would become good, and
morals normal; in one word, in all these classes of perfections there
would be progress, and there would be fewer crimes.

It has been ascertained that among civilized peoples crime is less
frequent than among uncivilized—that is to say, among those who have
acquired the true civilization, which is divine civilization—the
civilization of those who unite all the spiritual and material
perfections. As ignorance is the cause of crimes, the more knowledge and
science increases, the more crimes will diminish. Consider how often
murder occurs among the barbarians of Africa; they even kill one another
in order to eat each other’s flesh and blood! Why do not such savageries
occur in Switzerland? The reason is evident: it is because education and
virtues prevent them.

Therefore, the communities must think of preventing crimes, rather than of
rigorously punishing them.



78: STRIKES


You have questioned me about strikes. This question is and will be for a
long time the subject of great difficulties. Strikes are due to two
causes. One is the extreme greed and rapacity of the manufacturers and
industrialists; the other, the excesses, the avidity and intransigence of
the workmen and artisans. It is, therefore, necessary to remedy these two
causes.

But the principal cause of these difficulties lies in the laws of the
present civilization; for they lead to a small number of individuals
accumulating incomparable fortunes, beyond their needs, while the greater
number remain destitute, stripped and in the greatest misery. This is
contrary to justice, to humanity, to equity; it is the height of iniquity,
the opposite to what causes divine satisfaction.

This contrast is peculiar to the world of man: with other creatures—that
is to say, with nearly all animals—there is a kind of justice and
equality. Thus equality exists in a shepherd’s flock and in a herd of deer
in the country. Likewise, among the birds of the prairie, of the plain, of
the hills or of the orchard, and among every kind of animal some kind of
equality prevails. With them such a difference in the means of existence
is not to be found; so they live in the most complete peace and joy.

It is quite otherwise with the human species, which persists in the
greatest error, and in absolute iniquity. Consider an individual who has
amassed treasures by colonizing a country for his profit: he has obtained
an incomparable fortune and has secured profits and incomes which flow
like a river, while a hundred thousand unfortunate people, weak and
powerless, are in need of a mouthful of bread. There is neither equality
nor benevolence. So you see that general peace and joy are destroyed, and
the welfare of humanity is negated to such an extent as to make fruitless
the lives of many. For fortune, honors, commerce, industry are in the
hands of some industrialists, while other people are submitted to quite a
series of difficulties and to limitless troubles: they have neither
advantages, nor profits, nor comforts, nor peace.

Then rules and laws should be established to regulate the excessive
fortunes of certain private individuals and meet the needs of millions of
the poor masses; thus a certain moderation would be obtained. However,
absolute equality is just as impossible, for absolute equality in
fortunes, honors, commerce, agriculture, industry would end in
disorderliness, in chaos, in disorganization of the means of existence,
and in universal disappointment: the order of the community would be quite
destroyed. Thus difficulties will also arise when unjustified equality is
imposed. It is, therefore, preferable for moderation to be established by
means of laws and regulations to hinder the constitution of the excessive
fortunes of certain individuals, and to protect the essential needs of the
masses. For instance, the manufacturers and the industrialists heap up a
treasure each day, and the poor artisans do not gain their daily
sustenance: that is the height of iniquity, and no just man can accept it.
Therefore, laws and regulations should be established which would permit
the workmen to receive from the factory owner their wages and a share in
the fourth or the fifth part of the profits, according to the capacity of
the factory; or in some other way the body of workmen and the
manufacturers should share equitably the profits and advantages. Indeed,
the capital and management come from the owner of the factory, and the
work and labor, from the body of the workmen. Either the workmen should
receive wages which assure them an adequate support and, when they cease
work, becoming feeble or helpless, they should have sufficient benefits
from the income of the industry; or the wages should be high enough to
satisfy the workmen with the amount they receive so that they may
themselves be able to put a little aside for days of want and
helplessness.

When matters will be thus fixed, the owner of the factory will no longer
put aside daily a treasure which he has absolutely no need of (for, if the
fortune is disproportionate, the capitalist succumbs under a formidable
burden and gets into the greatest difficulties and troubles; the
administration of an excessive fortune is very difficult and exhausts
man’s natural strength). And the workmen and artisans will no longer be in
the greatest misery and want; they will no longer be submitted to the
worst privations at the end of their life.

It is, then, clear and evident that the repartition of excessive fortunes
among a small number of individuals, while the masses are in need, is an
iniquity and an injustice. In the same way, absolute equality would be an
obstacle to life, to welfare, to order and to the peace of humanity. In
such a question moderation is preferable. It lies in the capitalists’
being moderate in the acquisition of their profits, and in their having a
consideration for the welfare of the poor and needy—that is to say, that
the workmen and artisans receive a fixed and established daily wage—and
have a share in the general profits of the factory.

It would be well, with regard to the common rights of manufacturers,
workmen and artisans, that laws be established, giving moderate profits to
manufacturers, and to workmen the necessary means of existence and
security for the future. Thus when they become feeble and cease working,
get old and helpless, or leave behind children under age, they and their
children will not be annihilated by excess of poverty. And it is from the
income of the factory itself, to which they have a right, that they will
derive a share, however small, toward their livelihood.

In the same way, the workmen should no longer make excessive claims and
revolt, nor demand beyond their rights; they should no longer go out on
strike; they should be obedient and submissive and not ask for exorbitant
wages. But the mutual and reasonable rights of both associated parties
will be legally fixed and established according to custom by just and
impartial laws. In case one of the two parties should transgress, the
court of justice should condemn the transgressor, and the executive branch
should enforce the verdict; thus order will be reestablished, and the
difficulties, settled. The interference of courts of justice and of the
government in difficulties pending between manufacturers and workmen is
legal, for the reason that current affairs between workmen and
manufacturers cannot be compared with ordinary affairs between private
persons, which do not concern the public, and with which the government
should not occupy itself. In reality, although they appear to be private
matters, these difficulties between the two parties produce a detriment to
the public; for commerce, industry, agriculture and the general affairs of
the country are all intimately linked together. If one of these suffers an
abuse, the detriment affects the mass. Thus the difficulties between
workmen and manufacturers become a cause of general detriment.

The court of justice and the government have, therefore, the right of
interference. When a difficulty occurs between two individuals with
reference to private rights, it is necessary for a third to settle the
question. This is the part of the government. Then the problem of
strikes—which cause troubles in the country and are often connected with
the excessive vexations of the workmen, as well as with the rapacity of
manufacturers—how could it remain neglected?

Good God! Is it possible that, seeing one of his fellow-creatures
starving, destitute of everything, a man can rest and live comfortably in
his luxurious mansion? He who meets another in the greatest misery, can he
enjoy his fortune? That is why, in the Religion of God, it is prescribed
and established that wealthy men each year give over a certain part of
their fortune for the maintenance of the poor and unfortunate. That is the
foundation of the Religion of God and is binding upon all.

And as man in this way is not forced nor obliged by the government, but is
by the natural tendency of his good heart voluntarily and radiantly
showing benevolence toward the poor, such a deed is much praised, approved
and pleasing.

Such is the meaning of the good works in the Divine Books and Tablets.



79: THE REALITY OF THE EXTERIOR WORLD


Certain sophists think that existence is an illusion, that each being is
an absolute illusion which has no existence—in other words, that the
existence of beings is like a mirage, or like the reflection of an image
in water or in a mirror, which is only an appearance having in itself no
principle, foundation or reality.

This theory is erroneous; for though the existence of beings in relation
to the existence of God is an illusion, nevertheless, in the condition of
being it has a real and certain existence. It is futile to deny this. For
example, the existence of the mineral in comparison with that of man is
nonexistence, for when man is apparently annihilated, his body becomes
mineral; but the mineral has existence in the mineral world. Therefore, it
is evident that earth, in relation to the existence of man, is
nonexistent, and its existence is illusory; but in relation to the mineral
it exists.

In the same manner the existence of beings in comparison with the
existence of God is but illusion and nothingness; it is an appearance,
like the image reflected in a mirror. But though an image which is seen in
a mirror is an illusion, the source and the reality of that illusory image
is the person reflected, whose face appears in the mirror. Briefly, the
reflection in relation to the person reflected is an illusion.

Then it is evident that although beings in relation to the existence of
God have no existence, but are like the mirage or the reflections in the
mirror, yet in their own degree they exist.

That is why those who were heedless and denied God were said by Christ to
be dead, although they were apparently living; in relation to the people
of faith they were dead, blind, deaf and dumb. This is what Christ meant
when He said, “Let the dead bury their dead.”(163)



80: REAL PREEXISTENCE


Question.—How many kinds of preexistence and of phenomena are there?

Answer.—Some sages and philosophers believe that there are two kinds of
preexistence: essential preexistence and preexistence of time. Phenomena
are also of two kinds, essential phenomena and that of time.

Essential preexistence is an existence which is not preceded by a cause,
but essential phenomena are preceded by causes. Preexistence of time is
without beginning, but the phenomena of time have beginnings and endings;
for the existence of everything depends upon four causes—the efficient
cause, the matter, the form and the final cause. For example, this chair
has a maker who is a carpenter, a substance which is wood, a form which is
that of a chair, and a purpose which is that it is to be used as a seat.
Therefore, this chair is essentially phenomenal, for it is preceded by a
cause, and its existence depends upon causes. This is called the essential
and really phenomenal.

Now this world of existence in relation to its maker is a real phenomenon.
As the body is sustained by the spirit, it is in relation to the spirit an
essential phenomenon. The spirit is independent of the body, and in
relation to it the spirit is an essential preexistence. Though the rays
are always inseparable from the sun, nevertheless, the sun is preexistent
and the rays are phenomenal, for the existence of the rays depends upon
that of the sun. But the existence of the sun does not depend upon that of
the rays, for the sun is the giver and the rays are the gift.

The second proposition is that existence and nonexistence are both
relative. If it be said that such a thing came into existence from
nonexistence, this does not refer to absolute nonexistence, but means that
its former condition in relation to its actual condition was nothingness.
For absolute nothingness cannot find existence, as it has not the capacity
of existence. Man, like the mineral, is existing; but the existence of the
mineral in relation to that of man is nothingness, for when the body of
man is annihilated it becomes dust and mineral. But when dust progresses
into the human world, and this dead body becomes living, man becomes
existing. Though the dust—that is to say, the mineral—has existence in its
own condition, in relation to man it is nothingness. Both exist, but the
existence of dust and mineral, in relation to man, is nonexistence and
nothingness; for when man becomes nonexistent, he returns to dust and
mineral.

Therefore, though the world of contingency exists, in relation to the
existence of God it is nonexistent and nothingness. Man and dust both
exist, but how great the difference between the existence of the mineral
and that of man! The one in relation to the other is nonexistence. In the
same way, the existence of creation in relation to the existence of God is
nonexistence. Thus it is evident and clear that although the beings exist,
in relation to God and to the Word of God they are nonexistent. This is
the beginning and the end of the Word of God, Who says: “I am Alpha and
Omega”; for He is the beginning and the end of Bounty. The Creator always
had a creation; the rays have always shone and gleamed from the reality of
the sun, for without the rays the sun would be opaque darkness. The names
and attributes of God require the existence of beings, and the Eternal
Bounty does not cease. If it were to, it would be contrary to the
perfections of God.



81: REINCARNATION


Question.—What is the truth of the question of reincarnation, which is
believed by some people?

Answer.—The object of what we are about to say is to explain the
reality—not to deride the beliefs of other people; it is only to explain
the facts; that is all. We do not oppose anyone’s ideas, nor do we approve
of criticism.

Know, then, that those who believe in reincarnation are of two classes:
one class does not believe in the spiritual punishments and rewards of the
other world, and they suppose that man by reincarnation and return to this
world gains rewards and recompenses; they consider heaven and hell to be
restricted to this world and do not speak of the existence of the other
world. Among these there are two further divisions. One division thinks
that man sometimes returns to this world in the form of an animal in order
to undergo severe punishment and that, after enduring this painful
torment, he will be released from the animal world and will come again
into the human world; this is called transmigration. The other division
thinks that from the human world one again returns to the human world, and
that by this return rewards and punishments for a former life are
obtained; this is called reincarnation. Neither of these classes speak of
any other world besides this one.

The second sort of believers in reincarnation affirm the existence of the
other world, and they consider reincarnation the means of becoming
perfect—that is, they think that man, by going from and coming again to
this world, will gradually acquire perfections, until he reaches the
inmost perfection. In other words, that men are composed of matter and
force: matter in the beginning—that is to say, in the first cycle—is
imperfect, but on coming repeatedly to this world it progresses and
acquires refinement and delicacy, until it becomes like a polished mirror;
and force, which is no other than spirit, is realized in it with all the
perfections.

This is the presentation of the subject by those who believe in
reincarnation and transmigration. We have condensed it; if we entered into
the details, it would take much time. This summary is sufficient. No
logical arguments and proofs of this question are brought forward; they
are only suppositions and inferences from conjectures, and not conclusive
arguments. Proofs must be asked for from the believers in reincarnation,
and not conjectures, suppositions and imaginations.

But you have asked for arguments of the impossibility of reincarnation.
This is what we must now explain. The first argument for its impossibility
is that the outward is the expression of the inward; the earth is the
mirror of the Kingdom; the material world corresponds to the spiritual
world. Now observe that in the sensible world appearances are not
repeated, for no being in any respect is identical with, nor the same as,
another being. The sign of singleness is visible and apparent in all
things. If all the granaries of the world were full of grain, you would
not find two grains absolutely alike, the same and identical without any
distinction. It is certain that there will be differences and distinctions
between them. As the proof of uniqueness exists in all things, and the
Oneness and Unity of God is apparent in the reality of all things, the
repetition of the same appearance is absolutely impossible. Therefore,
reincarnation, which is the repeated appearance of the same spirit with
its former essence and condition in this same world of appearance, is
impossible and unrealizable. As the repetition of the same appearance is
impossible and interdicted for each of the material beings, so for
spiritual beings also, a return to the same condition, whether in the arc
of descent or in the arc of ascent, is interdicted and impossible, for the
material corresponds to the spiritual.

Nevertheless, the return of material beings with regard to species is
evident; so the trees which during former years brought forth leaves,
blossoms and fruits in the coming years will bring forth exactly the same
leaves, blossoms and fruits. This is called the repetition of species. If
anyone makes an objection saying that the leaf, the blossom and the fruit
have been decomposed, and have descended from the vegetable world to the
mineral world, and again have come back from the mineral world to the
vegetable world, and, therefore, there has been a repetition—the answer is
that the blossom, the leaf and the fruit of last year were decomposed, and
these combined elements were disintegrated and were dispersed in space,
and that the particles of the leaf and fruit of last year, after
decomposition, have not again become combined, and have not returned. On
the contrary, by the composition of new elements, the species has
returned. It is the same with the human body, which after decomposition
becomes disintegrated, and the elements which composed it are dispersed.
If, in like manner, this body should again return from the mineral or
vegetable world, it would not have exactly the same composition of
elements as the former man. Those elements have been decomposed and
dispersed; they are dissipated in this vast space. Afterward, other
particles of elements have been combined, and a second body has been
formed; it may be that one of the particles of the former individual has
entered into the composition of the succeeding individual, but these
particles have not been conserved and kept, exactly and completely,
without addition or diminution, so that they may be combined again, and
from that composition and mingling another individual may come into
existence. So it cannot be proved that this body with all its particles
has returned; that the former man has become the latter; and that,
consequently, there has been repetition; that the spirit also, like the
body, has returned; and that after death its essence has come back to this
world.

If we say that this reincarnation is for acquiring perfections so that
matter may become refined and delicate, and that the light of the spirit
may be manifest in it with the greatest perfection, this also is mere
imagination. For, even supposing we believe in this argument, still change
of nature is impossible through renewal and return. The essence of
imperfection, by returning, does not become the reality of perfection;
complete darkness, by returning, does not become the source of light; the
essence of weakness is not transformed into power and might by returning,
and an earthly nature does not become a heavenly reality. The tree of
Zaqqúm,(164) no matter how frequently it may come back, will not bring
forth sweet fruit, and the good tree, no matter how often it may return,
will not bear a bitter fruit. Therefore, it is evident that returning and
coming back to the material world does not become the cause of perfection.
This theory has no proofs nor evidences; it is simply an idea. No, in
reality the cause of acquiring perfections is the bounty of God.

The Theosophists believe that man on the arc of ascent(165) will return
many times until he reaches the Supreme Center; in that condition matter
becomes a clear mirror, the light of the spirit will shine upon it with
its full power, and essential perfection will be acquired. Now, this is an
established and deep theological proposition, that the material worlds are
terminated at the end of the arc of descent, and that the condition of man
is at the end of the arc of descent, and at the beginning of the arc of
ascent, which is opposite to the Supreme Center. Also, from the beginning
to the end of the arc of ascent, there are numerous spiritual degrees. The
arc of descent is called beginning,(166) and that of ascent is called
progress.(167) The arc of descent ends in materialities, and the arc of
ascent ends in spiritualities. The point of the compass in describing a
circle makes no retrograde motion, for this would be contrary to the
natural movement and the divine order; otherwise, the symmetry of the
circle would be spoiled.

Moreover, this material world has not such value or such excellence that
man, after having escaped from this cage, will desire a second time to
fall into this snare. No, through the Eternal Bounty the worth and true
ability of man becomes apparent and visible by traversing the degrees of
existence, and not by returning. When the shell is once opened, it will be
apparent and evident whether it contains a pearl or worthless matter. When
once the plant has grown it will bring forth either thorns or flowers;
there is no need for it to grow up again. Besides, advancing and moving in
the worlds in a direct order according to the natural law is the cause of
existence, and a movement contrary to the system and law of nature is the
cause of nonexistence. The return of the soul after death is contrary to
the natural movement, and opposed to the divine system.

Therefore, by returning, it is absolutely impossible to obtain existence;
it is as if man, after being freed from the womb, should return to it a
second time. Consider what a puerile imagination this is which is implied
by the belief in reincarnation and transmigration. Believers in it
consider the body as a vessel in which the spirit is contained, as water
is contained in a cup; this water has been taken from one cup and poured
into another. This is child’s play. They do not realize that the spirit is
an incorporeal being, and does not enter and come forth, but is only
connected with the body as the sun is with the mirror. If it were thus,
and the spirit by returning to this material world could pass through the
degrees and attain to essential perfection, it would be better if God
prolonged the life of the spirit in the material world until it had
acquired perfections and graces; it then would not be necessary for it to
taste of the cup of death, or to acquire a second life.

The idea that existence is restricted to this perishable world, and the
denial of the existence of divine worlds, originally proceeded from the
imaginations of certain believers in reincarnation; but the divine worlds
are infinite. If the divine worlds culminated in this material world,
creation would be futile: nay, existence would be pure child’s play. The
result of these endless beings, which is the noble existence of man, would
come and go for a few days in this perishable dwelling, and after
receiving punishments and rewards, at last all would become perfect. The
divine creation and the infinite existing beings would be perfected and
completed, and then the Divinity of the Lord, and the names and qualities
of God, on behalf of these spiritual beings, would, as regards their
effect, result in laziness and inaction! “Glory to thy Lord, the Lord Who
is sanctified from all their descriptions.”(168)

Such were the limited minds of the former philosophers, like Ptolemy and
the others who believed and imagined that the world, life and existence
were restricted to this terrestrial globe, and that this boundless space
was confined within the nine spheres of heaven, and that all were empty
and void. Consider how greatly their thoughts were limited and how weak
their minds. Those who believe in reincarnation think that the spiritual
worlds are restricted to the worlds of human imagination. Moreover, some
of them, like the Druzes and the Nusayris, think that existence is
restricted to this physical world. What an ignorant supposition! For in
this universe of God, which appears in the most complete perfection,
beauty and grandeur, the luminous stars of the material universe are
innumerable! Then we must reflect how limitless and infinite are the
spiritual worlds, which are the essential foundation. “Take heed ye who
are endued with discernment.”(169)

But let us return to our subject. In the Divine Scriptures and Holy Books
“return” is spoken of, but the ignorant have not understood the meaning,
and those who believed in reincarnation have made conjectures on the
subject. For what the divine Prophets meant by “return” is not the return
of the essence, but that of the qualities; it is not the return of the
Manifestation, but that of the perfections. In the Gospel it says that
John, the son of Zacharias, is Elias. These words do not mean the return
of the rational soul and personality of Elias in the body of John, but
rather that the perfections and qualities of Elias were manifested and
appeared in John.

A lamp shone in this room last night, and when tonight another lamp
shines, we say the light of last night is again shining. Water flows from
a fountain; then it ceases; and when it begins to flow a second time, we
say this water is the same water flowing again; or we say this light is
identical with the former light. It is the same with the spring of last
year, when blossoms, flowers and sweet-scented herbs bloomed, and
delicious fruits were brought forth; next year we say that those delicious
fruits have come back, and those blossoms, flowers and blooms have
returned and come again. This does not mean that exactly the same
particles composing the flowers of last year have, after decomposition,
been again combined and have then come back and returned. On the contrary,
the meaning is that the delicacy, freshness, delicious perfume and
wonderful color of the flowers of last year are visible and apparent in
exactly the same manner in the flowers of this year. Briefly, this
expression refers only to the resemblance and likeness which exist between
the former and latter flowers. The “return” which is mentioned in the
Divine Scriptures is this: it is fully explained by the Supreme Pen(170)
in the Kitáb-i-Íqán. Refer to it, so that you may be informed of the truth
of the divine mysteries.

Upon you be greetings and praise.



82: PANTHEISM


Question.—How do the Theosophists and the Súfís understand the question of
pantheism?(171) What does it mean, and how nearly does it approximate to
the truth?

Answer.—Know that the subject of pantheism is ancient. It is a belief not
restricted to the Theosophists and the Súfís; on the contrary, some of the
sages of Greece believed in it, like Aristotle, who said, “The simple
truth is all things, but it is not any one of them.” In this case,
“simple” is the opposite of “composed”; it is the isolated Reality, which
is purified and sanctified from composition and division, and which
resolves Itself into innumerable forms. Therefore, Real Existence is all
things, but It is not one of the things.

Briefly, the believers in pantheism think that Real Existence can be
compared to the sea, and that beings are like the waves of the sea. These
waves, which signify the beings, are innumerable forms of that Real
Existence; therefore, the Holy Reality is the Sea of Preexistence,(172)
and the innumerable forms of the creatures are the waves which appear.

Likewise, they compare this theory to real unity and the infinitude of
numbers; the real unity reflects itself in the degrees of infinite
numbers, for numbers are the repetition of the real unity. So the number
two is the repetition of one, and it is the same with the other numbers.

One of their proofs is this: all beings are things known of God; and
knowledge without things known does not exist, for knowledge is related to
that which exists, and not to nothingness. Pure nonexistence can have no
specification or individualization in the degrees of knowledge. Therefore,
the realities of beings, which are the things known of God the Most High,
have the existence which knowledge has,(173) since they have the form of
the Divine Knowledge, and they are preexistent, as the Divine Knowledge is
preexistent. As knowledge is preexistent, the things known are equally so,
and the individualizations and the specifications of beings, which are the
preexistent knowledges of the Essence of Unity, are the Divine Knowledge
itself. For the realities of the Essence of Unity, knowledge, and the
things known, have an absolute unity which is real and established.
Otherwise, the Essence of Unity would become the place of multiple
phenomena, and the multiplicity of preexistences(174) would become
necessary, which is absurd.

So it is proved that the things known constitute knowledge itself, and
knowledge the Essence itself—that is to say, that the Knower, the
knowledge and the things known are one single reality. And if one imagines
anything outside of this, it necessitates coming back to the multiplicity
of preexistences and to enchainment;(175) and preexistences end by
becoming innumerable. As the individualization and the specification of
beings in the knowledge of God were the Essence of Unity itself, and as
there was not any difference between them, there was but one veritable
Unity, and all the things known were diffused and included in the reality
of the one Essence—that is to say, that, according to the mode of
simplicity and of unity, they constitute the knowledge of God the Most
High, and the Essence of the Reality. When God manifested His glory, these
individualizations and these specifications of beings which had a virtual
existence—that is to say, which were a form of the Divine Knowledge—found
their existence substantiated in the external world; and this Real
Existence resolved Itself into infinite forms. Such is the foundation of
their argument.

The Theosophists and the Súfís are divided into two branches: one,
comprising the mass, who, simply in the spirit of imitation, believe
pantheism without comprehending the meaning of their renowned savants; for
the mass of the Súfís believe that the signification of Being is general
existence, taken substantively, which is comprehended by the reason and
the intelligence—that is to say, that man comprehends it. Instead of that,
this general existence is one of the accidents which penetrate the reality
of beings, and the qualities of beings are the essence. This accidental
existence, which is dependent on beings, is like other properties of
things which depend on them. It is an accident among accidents, and
certainly that which is the essence is superior to that which is the
accident. For the essence is the origin, and the accident is the
consequence; the essence is dependent on itself, and the accident is
dependent on something else—that is to say, it needs an essence upon which
to depend. In this case, God would be the consequence of the creature. He
would have need of it, and it would be independent of Him.

For example, each time that the isolated elements combine conformably to
the divine universal system, one being among beings comes into the world.
That is to say, that when certain elements combine, a vegetable existence
is produced; when others combine, it is an animal; again others combine,
and they produce different creatures. In this case, the existence of
things is the consequence of their reality: how could it be that this
existence, which is an accident among accidents, and necessitates another
essence upon which it depends, should be the Preexistent Essence, the
Author of all things?

But the initiated savants of the Theosophists and Súfís, who have studied
this question, think there are two categories of existence. One is general
existence, which is understood by the human intelligence; this is a
phenomenon, an accident among accidents, and the reality of the things is
the essence. But pantheism does not apply to this general and imaginary
existence, but only to the Veritable Existence, freed and sanctified from
all other interpretation; through It all things exist, and It is the Unity
through which all things have come into the world, such as matter, energy
and this general existence which is comprehended by the human mind. Such
is the truth of this question according to the Theosophists and the Súfís.

Briefly, with regard to this theory that all things exist by the Unity,
all are agreed—that is to say, the philosophers and the Prophets. But
there is a difference between them. The Prophets say, The Knowledge of God
has no need of the existence of beings, but the knowledge of the creature
needs the existence of things known; if the Knowledge of God had need of
any other thing, then it would be the knowledge of the creature, and not
that of God. For the Preexistent is different from the phenomenal, and the
phenomenal is opposed to the Preexistent; that which we attribute to the
creature—that is, the necessities of the contingent beings—we deny for
God; for purification, or sanctification from imperfections, is one of His
necessary properties. So in the phenomenal we see ignorance; in the
Preexistent we recognize knowledge. In the phenomenal we see weakness; in
the Preexistent we recognize power. In the phenomenal we see poverty; in
the Preexistent we recognize wealth. So the phenomenal is the source of
imperfections, and the Preexistent is the sum of perfections. The
phenomenal knowledge has need of things known; the Preexistent Knowledge
is independent of their existence. So the preexistence of the
specification and of the individualization of beings which are the things
known of God the Most High does not exist; and these divine and perfect
attributes are not so understood by the intelligence that we can decide if
the Divine Knowledge has need of things known or not.

Briefly, this is the principal argument of the Súfís; and if we wished to
mention all their proofs and explain their answers, it would take a very
long time. This is their decisive proof and their plain argument—at least,
of the savants of the Súfís and the Theosophists.

But the question of the Real Existence by which all things exist—that is
to say, the reality of the Essence of Unity through which all creatures
have come into the world—is admitted by everyone. The difference resides
in that which the Súfís say, “The reality of the things is the
manifestation of the Real Unity.” But the Prophets say, “it emanates from
the Real Unity”; and great is the difference between manifestation and
emanation. The appearance in manifestation means that a single thing
appears in infinite forms. For example, the seed, which is a single thing
possessing the vegetative perfections, which it manifests in infinite
forms, resolving itself into branches, leaves, flowers and fruits: this is
called appearance in manifestation; whereas in the appearance through
emanation this Real Unity remains and continues in the exaltation of Its
sanctity, but the existence of creatures emanates from It and is not
manifested by It. It can be compared to the sun from which emanates the
light which pours forth on all the creatures; but the sun remains in the
exaltation of its sanctity. It does not descend, and it does not resolve
itself into luminous forms; it does not appear in the substance of things
through the specification and the individualization of things; the
Preexistent does not become the phenomenal; independent wealth does not
become enchained poverty; pure perfection does not become absolute
imperfection.

To recapitulate: the Súfís admit God and the creature, and say that God
resolves Himself into the infinite forms of the creatures, and manifests
like the sea, which appears in the infinite forms of the waves. These
phenomenal and imperfect waves are the same thing as the Preexistent Sea,
which is the sum of all the divine perfections. The Prophets, on the
contrary, believe that there is the world of God, the world of the
Kingdom, and the world of Creation: three things. The first emanation from
God is the bounty of the Kingdom, which emanates and is reflected in the
reality of the creatures, like the light which emanates from the sun and
is resplendent in creatures; and this bounty, which is the light, is
reflected in infinite forms in the reality of all things, and specifies
and individualizes itself according to the capacity, the worthiness and
the intrinsic value of things. But the affirmation of the Súfís requires
that the Independent Wealth should descend to the degree of poverty, that
the Preexistent should confine itself to phenomenal forms, and that Pure
Power should be restricted to the state of weakness, according to the
limitations of contingent beings. And this is an evident error. Observe
that the reality of man, who is the most noble of creatures, does not
descend to the reality of the animal, that the essence of the animal,
which is endowed with the powers of sensation, does not abase itself to
the degree of the vegetable, and that the reality of the vegetable, which
is the power of growth, does not descend to the reality of the mineral.

Briefly, the superior reality does not descend nor abase itself to
inferior states; then how could it be that the Universal Reality of God,
which is freed from all descriptions and qualifications, notwithstanding
Its absolute sanctity and purity, should resolve Itself into the forms of
the realities of the creatures, which are the source of imperfections?
This is a pure imagination which one cannot conceive.

On the contrary, this Holy Essence is the sum of the divine perfections;
and all creatures are favored by the bounty of resplendency through
emanation, and receive the lights, the perfection and the beauty of Its
Kingdom, in the same way that all earthly creatures obtain the bounty of
the light of the rays of the sun, but the sun does not descend and does
not abase itself to the favored realities of earthly beings.

After dinner, and considering the lateness of the hour, there is no time
to explain further.

Salutations.



83: THE FOUR METHODS OF ACQUIRING KNOWLEDGE


There are only four accepted methods of comprehension—that is to say, the
realities of things are understood by these four methods.

The first method is by the senses—that is to say, all that the eye, the
ear, the taste, the smell, the touch perceive is understood by this
method. Today this method is considered the most perfect by all the
European philosophers: they say that the principal method of gaining
knowledge is through the senses; they consider it supreme, although it is
imperfect, for it commits errors. For example, the greatest of the senses
is the power of sight. The sight sees the mirage as water, and it sees
images reflected in mirrors as real and existent; large bodies which are
distant appear to be small, and a whirling point appears as a circle. The
sight believes the earth to be motionless and sees the sun in motion, and
in many similar cases it makes mistakes. Therefore, we cannot trust it.

The second is the method of reason, which was that of the ancient
philosophers, the pillars of wisdom; this is the method of the
understanding. They proved things by reason and held firmly to logical
proofs; all their arguments are arguments of reason. Notwithstanding this,
they differed greatly, and their opinions were contradictory. They even
changed their views—that is to say, during twenty years they would prove
the existence of a thing by logical arguments, and afterward they would
deny it by logical arguments—so much so that Plato at first logically
proved the immobility of the earth and the movement of the sun; later by
logical arguments he proved that the sun was the stationary center, and
that the earth was moving. Afterward the Ptolemaic theory was spread
abroad, and the idea of Plato was entirely forgotten, until at last a new
observer again called it to life. Thus all the mathematicians disagreed,
although they relied upon arguments of reason. In the same way, by logical
arguments, they would prove a problem at a certain time, then afterward by
arguments of the same nature they would deny it. So one of the
philosophers would firmly uphold a theory for a time with strong arguments
and proofs to support it, which afterward he would retract and contradict
by arguments of reason. Therefore, it is evident that the method of reason
is not perfect, for the differences of the ancient philosophers, the want
of stability and the variations of their opinions, prove this. For if it
were perfect, all ought to be united in their ideas and agreed in their
opinions.

The third method of understanding is by tradition—that is, through the
text of the Holy Scriptures—for people say, “In the Old and New
Testaments, God spoke thus.” This method equally is not perfect, because
the traditions are understood by the reason. As the reason itself is
liable to err, how can it be said that in interpreting the meaning of the
traditions it will not err, for it is possible for it to make mistakes,
and certainty cannot be attained. This is the method of the religious
leaders; whatever they understand and comprehend from the text of the
books is that which their reason understands from the text, and not
necessarily the real truth; for the reason is like a balance, and the
meanings contained in the text of the Holy Books are like the thing which
is weighed. If the balance is untrue, how can the weight be ascertained?

Know then: that which is in the hands of people, that which they believe,
is liable to error. For, in proving or disproving a thing, if a proof is
brought forward which is taken from the evidence of our senses, this
method, as has become evident, is not perfect; if the proofs are
intellectual, the same is true; or if they are traditional, such proofs
also are not perfect. Therefore, there is no standard in the hands of
people upon which we can rely.

But the bounty of the Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension
which is infallible and indubitable. This is through the help of the Holy
Spirit which comes to man, and this is the condition in which certainty
can alone be attained.



84: THE NECESSITY OF FOLLOWING THE TEACHINGS OF THE DIVINE MANIFESTATIONS


Question.—Those who are blessed with good actions and universal
benevolence, who have praiseworthy characteristics, who act with love and
kindness toward all creatures, who care for the poor, and who strive to
establish universal peace—what need have they of the divine teachings, of
which they think indeed that they are independent? What is the condition
of these people?

Answer.—Know that such actions, such efforts and such words are
praiseworthy and approved, and are the glory of humanity. But these
actions alone are not sufficient; they are a body of the greatest
loveliness, but without spirit. No, that which is the cause of everlasting
life, eternal honor, universal enlightenment, real salvation and
prosperity is, first of all, the knowledge of God. It is known that the
knowledge of God is beyond all knowledge, and it is the greatest glory of
the human world. For in the existing knowledge of the reality of things
there is material advantage, and through it outward civilization
progresses; but the knowledge of God is the cause of spiritual progress
and attraction, and through it the perception of truth, the exaltation of
humanity, divine civilization, rightness of morals and illumination are
obtained.

Second, comes the love of God, the light of which shines in the lamp of
the hearts of those who know God; its brilliant rays illuminate the
horizon and give to man the life of the Kingdom. In truth, the fruit of
human existence is the love of God, for this love is the spirit of life,
and the eternal bounty. If the love of God did not exist, the contingent
world would be in darkness; if the love of God did not exist, the hearts
of men would be dead, and deprived of the sensations of existence; if the
love of God did not exist, spiritual union would be lost; if the love of
God did not exist, the light of unity would not illuminate humanity; if
the love of God did not exist, the East and West, like two lovers, would
not embrace each other; if the love of God did not exist, division and
disunion would not be changed into fraternity; if the love of God did not
exist, indifference would not end in affection; if the love of God did not
exist, the stranger would not become the friend. The love of the human
world has shone forth from the love of God and has appeared by the bounty
and grace of God.

It is clear that the reality of mankind is diverse, that opinions are
various and sentiments different; and this difference of opinions, of
thoughts, of intelligence, of sentiments among the human species arises
from essential necessity; for the differences in the degrees of existence
of creatures is one of the necessities of existence, which unfolds itself
in infinite forms. Therefore, we have need of a general power which may
dominate the sentiments, the opinions and the thoughts of all, thanks to
which these divisions may no longer have effect, and all individuals may
be brought under the influence of the unity of the world of humanity. It
is clear and evident that this greatest power in the human world is the
love of God. It brings the different peoples under the shadow of the tent
of affection; it gives to the antagonistic and hostile nations and
families the greatest love and union.

See, after the time of Christ, through the power of the love of God, how
many nations, races, families and tribes came under the shadow of the Word
of God. The divisions and differences of a thousand years were entirely
destroyed and annihilated. The thoughts of race and of fatherland
completely disappeared. The union of souls and of existences took place;
all became true spiritual Christians.

The third virtue of humanity is the goodwill which is the basis of good
actions. Certain philosophers have considered intention superior to
action, for the goodwill is absolute light; it is purified and sanctified
from the impurities of selfishness, of enmity, of deception. Now it may be
that a man performs an action which in appearance is righteous, but which
is dictated by covetousness. For example, a butcher rears a sheep and
protects it; but this righteous action of the butcher is dictated by
desire to derive profit, and the result of this care is the slaughter of
the poor sheep. How many righteous actions are dictated by covetousness!
But the goodwill is sanctified from such impurities.

Briefly, if to the knowledge of God is joined the love of God, and
attraction, ecstasy and goodwill, a righteous action is then perfect and
complete. Otherwise, though a good action is praiseworthy, yet if it is
not sustained by the knowledge of God, the love of God, and a sincere
intention, it is imperfect. For example, the being of man must unite all
perfections to be perfect. Sight is extremely precious and appreciated,
but it must be aided by hearing; the hearing is much appreciated, but it
must be aided by the power of speech; the faculty of speech is very
acceptable, but it must be aided by the power of reason, and so forth. The
same is true of the other powers, organs and members of man; when all
these powers, these senses, these organs, these members exist together, he
is perfect.

Now, today, we meet with people in the world who, in truth, desire the
universal good, and who according to their power occupy themselves in
protecting the oppressed and in aiding the poor: they are enthusiastic for
peace and the universal well-being. Although from this point of view they
may be perfect, if they are deprived of the knowledge and love of God,
they are imperfect.

Galen, the physician, in his book in which he comments on the treatise of
Plato on the art of government,(176) says that the fundamental principles
of religion have a great influence upon a perfect civilization because
“the multitude cannot understand the connection of explanatory words; so
it has need of symbolical words announcing the rewards and punishments of
the other world; and that which proves the truth of this affirmation,” he
says, “is that today we see a people called Christians who believe in
rewards and punishments; and this sect show forth beautiful actions like
those which a true philosopher performs. So we all see clearly that they
do not fear death, that they expect and desire nothing from the multitude
but justice and equity, and they are considered as true philosophers.”

Now observe what was the degree of the sincerity, the zeal, the spiritual
feeling, the obligation of friendship, and the good actions of a believer
in Christ, so that Galen, the philosophical physician, although he was not
of the Christian religion, should yet bear witness to the good morals and
the perfections of these people, to the point of saying that they were
true philosophers. These virtues, these morals, were obtained not only
through good actions, for if virtue were only a matter of obtaining and
giving forth good, as this lamp is lighted and illuminates the
house—without doubt this illumination is a benefit—then why do we not
praise the lamp? The sun causes all the beings of the earth to increase,
and by its heat and light gives growth and development: is there a greater
benefit than that? Nevertheless, as this good does not come from goodwill
and from the love and knowledge of God, it is imperfect.

When, on the contrary, a man gives to another a cup of water, the latter
is grateful and thanks him. A man, without reflecting, will say, “This sun
which gives light to the world, this supreme bounty which is apparent in
it, must be adored and praised. Why should we not be grateful and thankful
to the sun for its bounty, when we praise a man who performs a simple act
of kindness?” But if we look for the truth, we see that this insignificant
kindness of the man is due to conscious feelings which exist; therefore,
it is worthy of praise, whereas the light and heat of the sun are not due
to the feelings and consciousness; therefore, they are not worthy of
eulogy or of praise and do not deserve gratitude or thanks.

In the same way, when a person performs a good action, although it is
praiseworthy, if it is not caused by the love and knowledge of God, it is
imperfect. Moreover, if you reflect justly, you will see that these good
actions of other men who do not know God are also fundamentally caused by
the teachings of God—that is to say, that the former Prophets led men to
perform these actions, explained their beauty to them, and declared their
splendid effects; then these teachings were diffused among men and reached
them successively, one after the other, and turned their hearts toward
these perfections. When men saw that these actions were considered
beautiful, and became the cause of joy and happiness for mankind, they
conformed to them.

Wherefore these actions also come from the teachings of God. But justice
is needed to see this, and not controversy and discussion. Praise be to
God, you have been to Persia, and you have seen how the Persians, through
the holy breezes of Bahá’u’lláh, have become benevolent toward humanity.
Formerly, if they met anyone of another race, they tormented him and were
filled with the utmost enmity, hatred and malevolence; they went so far as
to throw dirt at him. They burned the Gospel and the Old Testament, and if
their hands were polluted by touching these books, they washed them. Today
the greater number of them recite and chant, as is suitable, the contents
of these two Books in their reunions and assemblies, and they expound
their esoteric teaching. They show hospitality to their enemies. They
treat the bloodthirsty wolves with gentleness, like gazelles in the plains
of the love of God. You have seen their customs and habits, and you have
heard of the manners of former Persians. This transformation of morals,
this improvement of conduct and of words, are they possible otherwise than
through the love of God? No, in the name of God. If, by the help of
science and knowledge, we wished to introduce these morals and customs,
truly it would take a thousand years, and then they would not be spread
throughout the masses.

Today, thanks to the love of God, they are arrived at with the greatest
facility.

Be admonished, O possessors of intelligence!



FOOTNOTES


    1 On the idea of God, cf. “The Divinity Can Only Be Comprehended
      through the Divine Manifestations,” p. 146; and “Man’s Knowledge of
      God,” p. 220.

      The reader will there see that the Bahá’í Faith has not an
      anthropomorphic conception of God, and that if it employs a
      customary terminology, it is careful to explain its symbolic
      meaning.

    2 Cf. Gen. 1:26.

    3 Cf. Gen. 1:26.

    4 Divine Manifestations are the founders of religions. Cf. “Two
      Classes of Prophets,” p. 164.

    5 The Báb’s descent was from Muḥammad.

    6 Cf. John 6:42.

    7 The Banú-Tamím, one of the most barbarous Arab tribes, practiced
      this odious custom.

    8 To Medina.

    9 Of ‘Umar.

   10 Cf. Jurjí Zaydán’s Umayyads and Abbasids, trans. D. S. Margoliouth.

   11 Copernicus.

   12 Cf. Qur’án 36:37.

   13 Cf. Qur’án 36:38.

   14 Galileo.

   15 The Báb is here designated by His title Ḥaḍrat-i-A‘lá, His Supreme
      Highness; but for the convenience of the reader we shall continue to
      designate Him by the name under which He is known throughout
      Europe—i.e., the Báb.

   16 Doctors of the religion of Islám.

   17 Jamál-i-Mubárak, the Blessed Beauty, the title which is here given
      to Bahá’u’lláh. He is also called Jamál-i-Qidám, the Preexistent, or
      Ancient Beauty. But we shall designate Him as Bahá’u’lláh, the title
      by which He is known in the West.

   18 Exiled first to Ba_gh_dád, then to Constantinople, then to
      Adrianople, He was imprisoned in Akká (Acre), “the Greatest Prison,”
      in 1868.

   19 The penetrating judgment of Bahá’u’lláh upon this occasion overcame
      the malignity of His enemies, who, it was certain, would never agree
      in choosing what miracle to ask for.

   20 ‘Iráq; as opposed to that district of Írán known then as
      ‘Iráq-i-‘Aẓam and now called Arák.

   21 Adrianople.

   22 Napoleon III.

   23 One of Bahá’u’lláh’s works written after His declaration.

   24 Son of a French Consul in Syria with whom Bahá’u’lláh had friendly
      relations.

   25 Name given to the epistles of Bahá’u’lláh.

   26 Valí.

   27 Cf. p. 30, n. 1. In giving such importance to this example of the
      good sense of Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá means to emphasize the
      uselessness of miracles as a proof of the truth of the
      Manifestations of God. Cf. “Miracles,” p. 100.

   28 A cry used as a declaration of faith by the Bahá’ís, literally, “Oh
      Thou the Glory of Glories!”

   29 Bahá’u’lláh.

   30 Akká.

   31 Cf. “Miracles,” p. 100.

   32 See Dan. 9:24.

   33 Cf. Num. 14:34.

   34 Cf. Dan. 12:6–7.

   35 The reference appears in verses 11 and 12.

   36 Varaqat-Ibn-Nawfal, _Kh_adíjah’s cousin.

   37 The year 1290 from the proclamation of the mission of Muḥammad was
      the year 1280 of the Hejira, or 1863–64 of our era. It was at this
      epoch (April 1863) that Bahá’u’lláh, on leaving Ba_gh_dád for
      Constantinople, declared to those who surrounded Him that He was the
      Manifestation announced by the Báb.

      It is this declaration which the Bahá’ís celebrate by the Feast of
      Ridván, this name being that of the garden at the entrance of the
      city, where Bahá’u’lláh stayed during twelve days, and where He made
      the declaration.

   38 Rev. 11:3.

   39 This sentence is the Persian translation of the Arabic text of the
      Qur’án which has been quoted.

   40 Rev. 11:4.

   41 Cf. Rev. 11:5.

   42 Rev. 11:6.

   43 Cf. Rev. 11:6.

   44 Cf. Rev. 11:6.

   45 Rev. 11:7.

   46 Cf. Rev. 11:7.

   47 Cf. Rev. 11:7.

   48 Rev. 11:8.

   49 Rev. 11:9.

   50 Another name for the Qur’án, signifying the Distinction.

   51 Cf. Rev. 11:10.

   52 Cf. Rev. 11:11.

   53 Ḥájí Mullá Muḥammad-Alíy-i-Barfúrú_sh_í, one of the chief disciples
      of the Báb and one of the nineteen Letters of the Living.

   54 Rev. 11:12.

   55 The Báb and Jináb-i-Quddús.

   56 Rev. 11:12.

   57 Cf. Rev. 11:13.

   58 Cf. Rev. 11:13.

   59 Rev. 11:14.

   60 Ez. 30:1–3.

   61 Rev. 11:15.

   62 Rev. 11:16–17.

   63 i.e., His most complete manifestation.

   64 Rev. 11:18.

   65 Rev. 11:18.

   66 Cf. Rev. 11:18.

   67 Cf. Rev. 11:18.

   68 Rev. 11:19.

   69 Rev. 11:19.

   70 Rev. 11:19.

   71 One of the works of Bahá’u’lláh, in which He expressly points to
      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as being the One to Whom all must turn after His death.

   72 One of the works of Bahá’u’lláh, in which He expressly points to
      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as being the One to Whom all must turn after His death.

   73 Rev. 21:2.

   74 Cf. Rev. 12:3–4.

   75 Cf. Rev. 12:4.

   76 Cf. Rev. 12:6.

   77 Lit., the pivot.

   78 Extract from the letter to Náṣiri’d-Dín _Sh_áh.

   79 Cf. Qur’án 19:17.

   80 Qur’án 36:35.

   81 This conversation shows the uselessness of discussions upon such
      questions; the teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá upon the birth of Christ
      will be found in the following chapter.

   82 Cf. John 1:12–13.

   83 Gen. 2:7.

   84 Acts 15:20.

   85 i.e., of Christ, Whom the Muslims frequently designate by the title
      of Rúhu’lláh, the Spirit of God.

   86 Cf. John 6:51, 50.

   87 Matt. 26:26.

   88 Matt. 8:22; John 3:6.

   89 Cf. Matt. 13:14 and John 12:40–41.

   90 Cf. Matt. 24:29–30.

   91 Kitáb-i-Íqán, one of the first works of Bahá’u’lláh, written at
      Ba_gh_dád, before the declaration of His manifestation.

   92 John 3:13.

   93 In these conversations, as the reader will have already observed,
      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá desires rather to indicate the meaning of certain
      passages of the Scriptures than to quote the exact text.

   94 Masí_kh_—i.e., the monster. In Arabic there is a play upon the words
      Masíh, the Messiah, and masí_kh_, the monster.

   95 Cf. 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Pet. 3:10.

   96 Cf. “Pantheism,” p. 290.

   97 The Divine Manifestation.

   98 John 17:5.

   99 i.e., the Reality of Christ.

  100 Abu’l-ba_sh_ar, i.e., the father of man, is one of the titles given
      by the Muslims to Adam.

  101 Cf. John 6:41, 50, 58.

  102 Cf. Gen. 2:16–17.

  103 Cf. Gen. 3:5.

  104 Cf. Gen. 3:11–15,22

  105 Bahá’u’lláh.

  106 Bahá’u’lláh.

  107 Cf. John 6:51.

  108 Jews and Christians.

  109 Matt. 8:22.

  110 Matt. 22:14.

  111 Matt. 22:14.

  112 Cf. “The Causes of Differences in the Characters of Men,” p. 212.

  113 Cf. p. 110, n. 2.

  114 Cf. John 1:19–21.

  115 Cf. John 1:21.

  116 i.e., the individuality.

  117 Matt. 16:18.

  118 It is well known that Peter’s real name was Simon, but Christ called
      him Cephas, which corresponds to the Greek word petras, which means
      rock.

  119 Cf. Matt. 16:14–18.

  120 Cf. Qur’án 6:104.

  121 From a hadí_th_.

  122 Qur’án 59:2.

  123 i.e., in the kingdom of man, where alone the Spirit manifests
      immortality. Cf. “Five Aspects of Spirit,” p. 143; “The State of Man
      and His Progress after Death,” p. 235, etc.

  124 Cf. John 14:11; 17:21

  125 John 1:1.

  126 The Manifestation.

  127 The Manifestation.

  128 Cf. “Soul, Spirit and Mind,” p. 208.

  129 Cf. John 1:1.

  130 Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:2.

  131 John 1:1.

  132 Cf. Exod. 20:4–5; Deut. 5:8–9.

  133 Num. 20:23–24.

  134 Cf. Qur’án 48:1–2.

  135 Matt. 19:16, 17.

  136 The Manifestation of God.

  137 Kitáb-i-Aqdas: i.e., The Most Holy Book. The principal work of
      Bahá’u’lláh, which contains the greater part of the commandments. It
      is the basis of the principles of the Bahá’í Faith.

  138 The House of Justice (Baytu’l-Adl) is an institution created by
      Bahá’u’lláh. He refers to two levels of this institution: the Local
      Houses of Justice, responsible for each town or village, and the
      Universal House of Justice. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, in His Will and Testament,
      added an intermediate level, the Secondary Houses of Justice. It is
      only on the Universal House of Justice that infallibility has been
      conferred. At the present time, to stress their purely spiritual
      functions, the Local and Secondary Houses of Justice are designated
      Local and National Spiritual Assemblies.

  139 Qur’án 23:14.

  140 Man.

  141 i.e., if we admit, for example, that man had formerly been a
      quadruped, or had had a tail.

  142 Cf. Gen. 1:26.

  143 This subject, of emanation and manifestation, is more fully
      explained in the following chapter.

  144 Cf. “Real Preexistence,” p. 280.

  145 John 1:1.

  146 John 1:1.

  147 Cf. John 14:11; 17:21.

  148 Bahá’u’lláh.

  149 Cf. Gen. 9:25.

  150 i.e., therefore people cannot be blamed for their character.

  151 Cf. Rev. 22:13.

  152 Cf. “The Difference between Man and the Animal,” p. 185.

  153 Cf. John 3:5.

  154 John 1:13.

  155 Qur’án 23:14.

  156 One farsa_kh_ is equivalent to about four miles.

  157 It is a Persian custom to reckon distance by time.

  158 Mírzá Yaḥyá Subh-i-Azal, half-brother of Bahá’u’lláh, and His
      irreconcilable enemy.

  159 “Veiled spirits” here signify rational souls, souls not possessing
      the spirit of faith. Cf. “Soul, Spirit and Mind,” p. 208.

  160 Rom. 9:21.

  161 Cf. Matt. 5:39.

  162 A Bahá’í sitting with us at table.

  163 Matt. 8:22.

  164 The infernal tree mentioned in the Qur’án.

  165 i.e., of the Circle of Existence.

  166 Lit., bringing forth.

  167 Lit., producing something new.

  168 Cf. Qur’án 37:180.

  169 Qur’án 59:2.

  170 Bahá’u’lláh.

  171 Lit., the unity of existence.

  172 God.

  173 i.e., an intellectual existence.

  174 gods.

  175 i.e., infinite continuation of causes and effects.

  176 Cf. Ibn Ábí Usaybíá, Üyün al-anbá fí tabaqát al-átibbá (Cairo: 1882)
      tom. i., pp. 76–77.





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