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Title: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London
Author: `Abdu'l-Bahá, 1844-1921
Language: English
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‘Abdu’l-Bahá in London


by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá



Edition 1, (September 2006)



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                                 CONTENTS


Baha’i Terms of Use
The City Temple: Introduction
Address given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the City Temple
Discourse of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at St. John’s, Westminster.
Discourse of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá given at the Theosophical Head Quarters.
Farewell Reception: Introduction
Meeting of Farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.
10 Cheniston Gardens London W.
A Message from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
Discourse given at Miss E. J. Rosenberg’s Unity Meeting.
Discourse at Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper’s
Discourse by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá given at the Unity Meeting of Misses Jack and
Herrick.
Notes of Conversations
Discourse to an assembly of Theosophists. London
Ideals of East and West
Science and Faith
Converse with Departed Persons
Are Superstitions Useful
The Life After Death
Spiritual Relationship
A Bahá’í Wedding
The Visit to Bristol
At Byfleet.
The Captivity of Man
The Power of God
Inspired Messengers
Education
The Change of Heart
Christ and Bahá’u’lláh
Art
Symbols
Esperanto
Tolstoy
Healing
Death
A True Bahá’í
Spreading the Teaching
At Brooklands
Days in London
Woman’s Work
Zenobia
The True Bahá’í
The Coming of Peace
The Pure Heart
True Spirituality
Knowledge Must Result in Action
Visit to the Lord Mayor
Some Personal Characteristics
The Farewell
From an Interview given by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the Weekly Budget.
A Loving Farewell Greeting.
Greetings by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from Paris to London.
Message to the London Bahá’ís for the Day of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Specially given
to Mrs. Enthoven.



‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ IN LONDON



THE CITY TEMPLE: INTRODUCTION


On September 10th, the first Sunday after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s arrival in
England, he spoke from the City Temple pulpit to the evening congregation
at the special desire of the Pastor, the Reverend R. J. Campbell.

Though ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s coming had not been advertised the Church was filled
to its utmost capacity. Few that were there will ever forget the sight of
that venerable figure clad in his Eastern garb, ascending the pulpit
stairs to address a public gathering for the first time in his life. That
this should be at a Christian place of worship in the West has its own
deep significance. Mr. Campbell introduced the visitor with a few simple
words in the course of which he said: “We, as the followers of the Lord
Jesus Christ, who is to us and will always be the Light of the World, view
with sympathy and respect every movement of the Spirit of God in the
experience of mankind, and therefore we give greeting to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in
the name of all who share the spirit of our Master, and are trying to live
their lives in that Spirit. The Bahá’í Movement is very closely akin to, I
think I might say is identical with, the spiritual purpose of
Christianity.”

Before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the Church, he wrote in the old Bible used by
generations of preachers, the following words in his own native Persian,
the translation being added as follows:

Inscription in the Old Bible Written by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Persian


    This book is the Holy Book of God, of celestial Inspiration. It is
    the Bible of Salvation, the Noble Gospel. It is the mystery of the
    Kingdom and its light. It is the Divine Bounty, the sign of the
    guidance of God.

                                                   ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás.



ADDRESS GIVEN BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ AT THE CITY TEMPLE


                       Sunday, September 10th, 1911


O noble friends; seekers after God! Praise be to God! Today the light of
Truth is shining upon the world in its abundance; the breezes of the
heavenly garden are blowing throughout all regions; the call of the
Kingdom is heard in all lands, and the breath of the Holy Spirit is felt
in all hearts that are faithful. The Spirit of God is giving eternal life.
In this wonderful age the East is enlightened, the West is fragrant, and
everywhere the soul inhales the holy perfume. The sea of the unity of
mankind is lifting up its waves with joy, for there is real communication
between the hearts and minds of men. The banner of the Holy Spirit is
uplifted, and men see it, and are assured with the knowledge that this is
a new day.

This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are
luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a paradise. It
is the hour of unity of the sons of men and of the drawing together of all
races and all classes. You are loosed from ancient superstitions which
have kept men ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity.

The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the oneness of
mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War shall cease
between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great Peace shall come;
the world will be seen as a new world, and all men will live as brothers.

In the days of old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle
with wild animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation
and mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of
mankind. Enmity is now the result of prejudice only.

In the Hidden Words Bahá’u’lláh says, “Justice is to be loved above all.”
Praise be to God, in this country the standard of justice has been raised;
a great effort is being made to give all souls an equal and a true place.
This is the desire of all noble natures; this is today the teaching for
the East and for the West; therefore the East and the West will understand
each other and reverence each other, and embrace like long-parted lovers
who have found each other.

There is one God; mankind is one; the foundations of religion are one. Let
us worship Him, and give praise for all His great Prophets and Messengers
who have manifested His brightness and glory.

The blessing of the Eternal One be with you in all its richness, that each
soul according to his measure may take freely of Him. Amen.


    This Address is printed by kind permission, from The Christian
    Commonwealth of September 13th, 1911. Spoken by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in
    Persian from the city Temple pulpit, the above translation was
    then read to the congregation by Mr. W. Tudor-Pole.



ST. JOHN’S WESTMINSTER: INTRODUCTION


On September 17th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at the request of the venerable Archdeacon
of Westminster addressed the congregation of Saint John the Divine after
evening service. With a few warm words characteristic of his whole
attitude Archdeacon Wilberforce introduced the revered Messenger from the
East, who had crossed seas and countries on his Mission of Peace and Unity
for which he had suffered forty years of captivity and persecution. The
Archdeacon had the Bishop’s chair placed for his Guest on the Chancel
steps, and standing beside him read the translation of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s
address himself. The Congregation was profoundly moved, and following the
Archdeacon’s example knelt to receive the blessing of the Servant of
God—who stood with extended arms—his wonderful voice rising and falling in
the silence with the power of his invocation. As the Archdeacon said:
“Truly the East and the West have met in this sacred place tonight.” The
hymn “O God our help in ages past” was sung by the entire assembly
standing, as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the Archdeacon passed down the aisle to the
vestry hand in hand.

Outside the Church, Salvationists were holding their meeting and
‘Abdu’l-Bahá was deeply impressed and touched at the sight of the men,
women and children gathered together in the night, at the street corner,
praying and singing.



DISCOURSE OF ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ AT ST. JOHN’S, WESTMINSTER.


                          September 17th, 1911.


O Noble Friends! O Seekers for the Kingdom of God! Man all over the world
is seeking for God. All that exists is God; but the Reality of Divinity is
holy above all understanding.

The pictures of Divinity that come to our mind are the product of our
fancy; they exist in the realm of our imagination. They are not adequate
to the Truth; truth in its essence cannot be put into words.

Divinity cannot by comprehended because it is comprehending.

Man, who has also a real existence, is comprehended by God; therefore, the
Divinity which man can understand is partial; it is not complete. Divinity
is actual Truth and real existence, and not any representation of it.
Divinity itself contains All, and is not contained.

Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man all have actual being, yet
the mineral has no knowledge of the vegetable. It cannot apprehend it. It
cannot imagine nor understand it.

It is the same with the vegetable. Any progress it may make, however
highly it may become developed, it will never apprehend the animal, nor
understand it. It is, so to speak, without news of it. It has no ears, no
sight, no understanding.

It is the same with the animal. However much it may progress in its own
kingdom, however refined its feelings may become, it will have no real
notion of the world of man or of his special intellectual faculties.

The animal cannot understand the roundness of the earth, nor its motion in
space, nor the central position of the sun, nor can it imagine such a
thing as the all-pervading ether.

Although the mineral, vegetable, animal and man himself are actual beings,
the difference between their kingdoms prevents members of the lower degree
from comprehending the essence and nature of those of the superior degree.
This being so, how can the temporal and phenomenal comprehend the Lord of
Hosts?

It is clear that this is impossible!

But the Essence of Divinity, the Sun of Truth, shines forth upon all
horizons and is spreading its rays upon all things. Each creature is the
recipient of some portion of that power, and man, who contains the
perfection of the mineral, the vegetable and animal, as well as his own
distinctive qualities, has become the noblest of created beings. It stands
written that he is made in the Image of God. Mysteries that were hidden he
discovers; and secrets that were concealed he brings into the light. By
Science and by Art he brings hidden powers into the region of the visible
world. Man perceives the hidden law in created things and co-operates with
it.

Lastly the perfect man, the Prophet, is one who is transfigured, one who
has the purity and clearness of a perfect mirror—one who reflects the Sun
of Truth. Of such a one—of such a Prophet and Messenger—we can say that
the Light of Divinity with the heavenly Perfections dwells in him.

If we claim that the sun is seen in the mirror, we do not mean that the
sun itself has descended from the holy heights of his heaven and entered
into the mirror! This is impossible. The Divine Nature is seen in the
Manifestations and its Light and Splendor are visible in extreme glory.

Therefore, men have always been taught and led by the Prophets of God. The
Prophets of God are the Mediators of God. All the Prophets and Messengers
have come from One Holy Spirit and bear the Message of God, fitted to the
age in which they appear. The One Light is in them and they are One with
each other. But the Eternal does not become phenomenal; neither can the
phenomenal become Eternal.

Saint Paul, the great Apostle, said: “We all, with open face beholding as
in a mirror the glory of God, are changed into the same image from glory
to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

O GOD the Forgiver! O Heavenly Educator! This assembly is adorned with the
mention of thy holy Name. Thy children turn their face towards thy
Kingdom, hearts are made happy and souls are comforted.

Merciful God! cause us to repent of our shortcomings! Accept us in thy
heavenly Kingdom and give unto us an abode where there shall be no error.
Give us peace; give us knowledge, and open unto us the gates of thy
heaven.

Thou art the Giver of all! Thou art the Forgiver! Thou art the Merciful!
Amen.



THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: INTRODUCTION


On September 30th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá met the Theosophical society at their new
Headquarters at the express request of their president Mrs. Annie Besant.
After a general history of the movement and sympathetic words of welcome
by Mr. A. P. Sinnett, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose and delivered to the crowded
assembly an address upon the distinctive notes of the Bahá’í teaching,
warmly commending the eagerness of the Society in its search for Truth.



DISCOURSE OF ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ GIVEN AT THE THEOSOPHICAL HEAD QUARTERS.


                          September 30th, 1911.


O Respected Assembly! O friends of Truth! The inherent nature of fire is
to burn, the inherent nature of electricity is to give light, the inherent
nature of the sun is to shine, and the inherent nature of the organic
earth is the power of growth.

There is no separation between a thing and its inherent qualities.

It is the inherent nature of things on this earth to change, thus we see
around us the change of the seasons. Every spring is followed by a summer
and every autumn brings a winter—every day a night and every evening a
morning. There is a sequence in all things.

Thus when hatred and animosity, fighting, slaughtering, and great coldness
of heart were governing this world, and darkness had overcome the nations,
Bahá’u’lláh, like a bright star, rose from the horizon of Persia and shone
with the great Light of Guidance, giving heavenly radiance and
establishing the new Teaching.

He declared the most human virtues; He manifested the Spiritual powers,
and put them into practice in the world around Him.

Firstly: He lays stress on the search for Truth. This is most important,
because the people are too easily led by tradition. It is because of this
that they are often antagonistic to each other, and dispute with one
another.

But the manifesting of Truth discovers the darkness and becomes the cause
of Oneness of faith and belief: because Truth cannot be two! That is not
possible.

Secondly: Bahá’u’lláh taught the Oneness of humanity; that is to say, all
the children of men are under the mercy of the Great God. They are the
sons of one God; they are trained by God. He has placed the crown of
humanity on the head of every one of the servants of God. Therefore all
nations and peoples must consider themselves brethren. They are all
descendants from Adam. They are the branches, leaves, flowers and fruits
of One Tree. They are pearls from one shell. But the children of men are
in need of education and civilization, and they require to be polished,
till they become bright and shining.

Man and woman both should be educated equally and equally regarded.

It is racial, patriotic, religious and class prejudice, that has been the
cause of the destruction of Humanity.

Thirdly: Bahá’u’lláh taught, that Religion is the chief foundation of Love
and Unity and the cause of Oneness. If a religion become the cause of
hatred and disharmony, it would be better that it should not exist. To be
without such a religion is better than to be with it.

Fourthly: Religion and Science are inter-twined with each other and cannot
be separated. These are the two wings with which humanity must fly. One
wing is not enough. Every religion which does not concern itself with
Science is mere tradition, and that is not the essential. Therefore
science, education and civilization are most important necessities for the
full religious life.

Fifthly: The Reality of the divine Religions is one, because the Reality
is one and cannot be two. All the prophets are united in their message,
and unshaken. They are like the sun; in different seasons they ascend from
different rising points on the horizon. Therefore every ancient prophet
gave the glad tidings of the future, and every future has accepted the
past.

Sixthly: Equality and Brotherhood must be established among all members of
mankind. This is according to Justice. The general rights of mankind must
be guarded and preserved.

All men must be treated equally. This is inherent in the very nature of
humanity.

Seventhly: The arrangements of the circumstances of the people must be
such that poverty shall disappear, and that every one as far as possible,
according to his position and rank, shall be comfortable. Whilst the
nobles and others in high rank are in easy circumstances, the poor also
should be able to get their daily food and not be brought to the
extremities of hunger.

Eighthly: Bahá’u’lláh declared the coming of the Most Great Peace. All the
nations and peoples will come under the shadow of the Tent of the Great
Peace and Harmony—that is to say, by general election a Great Board of
Arbitration shall be established, to settle all differences and quarrels
between the Powers; so that disputes shall not end in war.

Ninthly: Bahá’u’lláh taught that hearts must receive the Bounty of the
Holy Spirit, so that Spiritual civilization may be established. For
material civilization is not adequate for the needs of mankind and cannot
be the cause of its happiness. Material civilization is like the body and
spiritual civilization is like the soul. Body without soul cannot live.

This is a short summary of the Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. To establish this
Bahá’u’lláh underwent great difficulties and hardships. He was in constant
confinement and He suffered great persecution. But in the fortress (Akká)
He reared a spiritual palace and from the darkness of His prison He sent
out a great light to the world.

It is the ardent desire of the Bahá’ís to put these teachings into common
practice: and they will strive with soul and heart to give up their lives
for this purpose, until the heavenly light brightens the whole world of
humanity.

I am very happy that I have been able to talk with you in this gathering:
and hope that this deep consciousness of mine is acceptable to you.

I pray for you, that you may succeed in your aspirations and that the
bounties of the Kingdom may be yours.



FAREWELL RECEPTION: INTRODUCTION


On the evening of St. Michael’s day, a large farewell reception was given
to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in the hall of the Passmore Edwards’ Settlement, which was
filled to its utmost capacity with representative people of every
profession, some coming from great distances.

On the platform surrounding ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were men of different shades of
thought, met to express their sympathy with the work and mission of their
great visitor. Professor Michael E. Sadler was in the chair.

The meeting began with the Lord’s Prayer spoken by the entire assembly;
this was followed by the prayer for Unity of Bahá’u’lláh and a prayer of
the fifth Century, ascribed to Pope Gelasius. Professor Sadler then spoke
in words that will never be forgotten by those who heard them; and in his
address used a quotation from a Universal Prayer, which had been submitted
by an earnest Bahá’í to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the year before in Egypt and which
had been completed by him and commended as one that could be used by
peoples of all faiths in the East and West.

The Chairman was followed by Sir Richard Stapley, Mr. Eric Hammond, Mr.
Claude Montefiore, Mrs. Stannard from Egypt, and others. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
left the hall, the poor people of the neighbourhood, crowded on the
pavement to see him and an eager-faced little lame girl on crutches was
specially brought to him.



MEETING OF FAREWELL TO ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ.


                          September 29th, 1911.


    Reprinted by kind permission, from the Christian Commonwealth of
    Oct. 4th.


At the invitation of Mrs. Thornburgh-Cropper about four hundred and sixty
representative people met in the hall of the Passmore Edwards’ Settlement,
Tavistock Place, last Friday evening to bid farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás
on the eve of his departure for Paris. Arriving in London on Monday
evening, September the fourth, he has spent a happy and busy four weeks in
our midst. Except for a brief visit to Bristol last week he remained at
97, Cadogan Gardens. His time was mainly occupied in interviews with
people who wish to meet him. These included not a few whose names are
household words in this country, and some travelled long distances to see
him.

A beautiful spirit prevailed on Friday evening. The atmosphere was very
different from that of an ordinary meeting or religious gathering.
Everyone present was enriched by the lofty spiritual tone of the
proceedings; the notes struck were all in the direction of Brotherhood,
Unity, and Peace. While a report of the speeches would give a very
inadequate idea of the effect produced, yet they were so well-conceived,
so sincere, so exquisitely phrased as to be all worthy of reproduction.
Among others Amír Ali Siyyid wrote regretting his inability to be present,
and Archdeacon Wilberforce sent affectionate greetings.

After the Lord’s Prayer and prayers for Unity of Bahá’u’lláh and Gelasius
(fifth Century), Professor Michael Sadler spoke as follows:—



Speech of Professor Michael Sadler


We have met together to bid farewell to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and to thank God for
his example and teaching, and for the power of his prayers to bring Light
into confused thought, Hope into the place of dread, Faith where doubt
was, and into troubled hearts, the Love which overmasters self-seeking and
fear.

Though we all, among ourselves, in our devotional allegiance have our own
individual loyalties, to all of us ‘Abdu’l-Bahá brings, and has brought, a
message of Unity, of sympathy and of Peace. He bids us all be real and
true in what we profess to believe; and to treasure above everything the
Spirit behind the form. With him we bow before the Hidden Name, before
that which is of every life the Inner Life! He bids us worship in fearless
loyalty to our own faith, but with ever stronger yearning after Union,
Brotherhood, and Love; so turning ourselves in Spirit, and with our whole
heart, that we may enter more into the mind of God, which is above class,
above race, and beyond time.

Professor Sadler concluded with a beautiful prayer of James Martineau.

Mr. Eric Hammond said the Bahá’í movement stood for unity; one God, one
people; a myriad souls manifesting the divine unity, a unity so complete
that no difference of colour or creed could possibly differentiate between
one Manifestation of God and another, and a sympathy so all-embracing as
to include the very lowest, meanest, shabbiest of men; unity, sympathy,
brotherhood, leading up to a concord universal. He concluded with a saying
of Bahá’u’lláh, that the divine cause of universal good could not be
limited to either East or West.

Miss Alice Buckton said we were standing at one of the springtimes of the
world, and from that assembly of representatives of thought and work and
love, would go out all over the world influences making for unity and
brotherhood The complete equality of men and women was one of the chief
notes of Bahá’í teaching.

Sir Richard Stapley pointed out that unity must not be sought in the forms
and externals of religion, but in the inner spirit. In Persia there had
been such an impulse towards real unity as was a rebuke to this so-called
Christian country.

Mr. Claude Montefiore, as a Jew, rejoiced in the growth of the spirit of
unity, and regarded that meeting as prophetic of the better time to come,
and in some sense a fulfillment of the idea expressed by one who fell as a
martyr to the Roman Catholic faith, Sir Thomas More, who wrote of the
great Church of the Utopians, in which all varieties of creeds gathered
together, having a service and liturgy that expressed the higher unity,
while admitting special loyalties.

Mrs. Stannard dwelt on what that meeting and the sentiments expressed
meant to the East, especially to the women, whose condition it was
difficult for the West to understand.

Tammaddun’ul-Mulk testified to the unifying effect the Bahá’í movement had
had in Persia, and of the wonderful way in which it had spread to America
and other countries.

Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to give his farewell address. An impressive figure,
the face rather worn but the eyes full of animation, he stood for about
fifteen minutes, speaking in soft musical Persian. With hands extended,
palms upwards, he closed with a prayer.



Farewell words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá


O Noble friends and seekers for the Kingdom of God! About sixty years ago
in the time when the fire of war was blazing among the nations of the
world, and bloodshed was considered an honour to mankind; in a time when
the carnage of thousands stained the earth; when children were rendered
fatherless; when fathers were without sons and mothers were spent with
weeping; when the darkness of inter-racial hatred and animosity seemed to
envelope mankind and blot out the divine light; when the wafting of the
holy breath of God seemed to be cut off—in that time Bahá’u’lláh rose like
a shining star from the horizon of Persia, inspired with the message of
Peace and of Brotherhood among men.

He brought the light of guidance to the world; He kindled the fire of love
and revealed the great reality of the True Beloved. He sought to destroy
the foundations of religious and racial prejudice and of political
rivalry.

He likened the world of humanity to a tree, and all the nations to its
branches and the people to its leaves, buds and fruits.

His mission was to change ignorant fanaticism into Universal love, to
establish in the minds of His followers the basis of the unity of humanity
and to bring about in practice the equality of mankind. He declared that
all men were equal under the mercy and bounty of God.

Then was the door of the Kingdom set wide and the light of a new heaven on
earth revealed unto seeing eyes.

Yet the whole Bahá’u’lláh’s life was spent in the midst of great trial and
cruel tyranny. In Persia He was thrown into prison, put into chains, and
lived constantly under the menace of the sword. He was scorned and
scourged.

When He was about thirty years old He was exiled to Ba_gh_dád, and from
Ba_gh_dád to Constantinople, and from there to Adrianople and lastly to
the prison of Akká.

Yet under chains and from His cell He succeeded in spreading His cause,
and uplifting the banner of the oneness of humanity.

Now, God be praised, we see the light of Love shining in the East and in
the West; and the tent of fellowship is raised in the midst of all the
peoples for the drawing together of all hearts and souls.

The call of the Kingdom has been sounded, and the annunciation of the
world’s need for Universal Peace has enlightened the world’s conscience.

My hope is that through the zeal and ardour of the pure of heart, the
darkness of hatred and difference will be entirely abolished, and the
light of love and unity shall shine; this world shall become a new world;
things material shall become the mirror of the divine; human hearts shall
meet and embrace each other; the whole world become as a man’s native
country and the different races be counted as one race.

Then disputes and differences will vanish, and the Divine Beloved be
revealed on this earth.

As the East and the West are illumined by one sun, so all races, nations,
and creeds shall be seen as the servants of the One God. The whole earth
is one home, and all peoples, did they but know it, are bathed in the
oneness of God’s mercy. God created all. He gives sustenance to all. He
guides and trains all under the shadow of his bounty. We must follow the
example God Himself gives us, and do away with all disputations and
quarrels.

Praise be to God! the signs of friendship are appearing, and as a proof of
this I, today, coming from the East, have met in this London of the West
with extreme kindness, regard and love, and I am deeply thankful and
happy. I shall never forget this time I am spending with you.

Forty years I endured in a Turkish prison. Then in 1908 the Young Turks
“Committee of Union and Progress” shook the gates of despotism and set all
prisoners free, myself among them. I pray that blessing may be upon all
who work for Union and Progress.

In the future untrue reports will be spread regarding Bahá’u’lláh in order
to hinder the spread of Truth. I tell you this, that you may be awake and
prepared.

I leave you with prayer that all the beauty of the Kingdom may be yours.
In deep regret at our separation, I bid you good-bye.

                                * * * * *

The translation of the valedictory having been read by Professor Sadler,
‘Abdu’l-Bahá closed the meeting by giving his blessing in undulating
rhythmic tones.

By the time these lines appear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá Abbás will have left our
shores, but the memory of his gracious personality is a permanent
possession. His influence will be felt for many days to come, and has
already done much to promote that union of East and West for which many
have long yearned.



10 CHENISTON GARDENS LONDON W.


    The subjoined notes are taken from “The Quarterly Record of
    ‘Higher Thought’ Work,” November 1911.


One of the most interesting and significant events which have taken place,
has been the visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to London. The Persian Mage whose life,
passed in prison, has been spent in promoting peace and unity by the one
certain method of aiding individual spiritual development, must in a very
real sense have “tasted of the travail of his soul and been satisfied”.
Not only was he visited privately by nearly every earnest truth-seeker and
leader of high thought in London, but his message was made known to
thousands who had but dimly heard his name before.

The Higher Thought Centre was well known to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as the place
where the Bahá’ís held their weekly meetings under the direction of Miss
Rosenberg, and an invitation to the Centre was accepted by him just two
days before his departure. Through his interpreter ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a
kindly greeting and a short impressive address, dwelling on the
blessedness of such an assembly gathered in a spirit of unity and
spiritual aspiration. He concluded with a lowly uttered fervent prayer in
his own tongue, and a benediction which all present felt to be very real.

On the following day a message was conveyed to the Centre from
‘Abdu’l-Bahá signifying the fullest appreciation of all kindness shown to
the Bahá’ís, and concluding with these words; “it matters not what name
each calls himself—The Great Work is One.”

“Christ is ever in the world of existence. He has never disappeared out of
it.... Rest assured that Christ is present. The Spiritual beauty we see
around us today is from the breathings of Christ.”



A MESSAGE FROM ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ


Written for The Christian Commonwealth and published September 29th, 1911.


God sends Prophets for the education of the people and the progress of
mankind. Each such Manifestation of God has raised humanity. They serve
the whole world by the bounty of God. The sure proof that they are the
Manifestations of God is in the education and progress of the people. The
Jews were in the lowest condition of ignorance, and captives under Pharaoh
when Moses appeared and raised them to a high state of civilization. Thus
was the reign of Solomon brought about and science and art were made known
to mankind. Even Greek philosophers became students of Solomon’s teaching.
Thus was Moses proved to be a Prophet.

After the lapse of time the Israelites deteriorated, and became subject to
the Romans and the Greeks. Then the brilliant Star of Jesus rose from the
horizon upon the Israelites, brightening the world, until all sects and
creeds and nations were taught the beauty of unity. There cannot be any
better proof than this that Jesus was the Word of God.

So it was with the Arabian nations who, being uncivilized, were oppressed
by the Persian and Greek governments. When the Light of Muḥammad shone
forth all Arabia was brightened. These oppressed and degraded peoples
became enlightened and cultured; so much so, indeed, that other nations
imbibed Arabian civilization from Arabia. This was the proof of Muḥammad’s
divine mission.

All the teaching of the Prophets is one; one faith; one Divine light
shining throughout the world. Now, under the banner of the oneness of
humanity all people of all creeds should turn away from prejudice and
become friends and believers in all the Prophets. As Christians believe in
Moses, so the Jews should believe in Jesus. As the Muḥammadans believe in
Christ and Moses, so likewise the Jews and the Christians should believe
in Muḥammad. Then all disputes would disappear, all then would be united.
Bahá’u’lláh came for this purpose. He has made the three religions one. He
has uplifted the standard of the oneness of faith and the honour of
humanity in the centre of the world. Today we must gather round it, and
try with heart and soul to bring about the union of mankind.



DISCOURSE GIVEN AT MISS E. J. ROSENBERG’S UNITY MEETING.


                           September 8th, 1911.


Praise be to God, that such a meeting of purity and steadfastness is being
held in London. The hearts of those present are pure, and are turned
towards the Kingdom of God. I hope that all that is contained and
established in the Holy books of God may be realized in you. The
Messengers of God are the principal and the first teachers. Whenever this
world becomes dark, and divided in its opinions and indifferent, God will
send one of His Holy Messengers.

Moses came during a time of darkness, when ignorance and childishness
prevailed amongst the people, and they were waverers. Moses was the
teacher of God; He gave the teachings of holiness and educated the
Israelites. He raised up the people from their degradation and caused them
to be highly honoured. He taught them Sciences and Arts, trained them in
civilization and increased their human virtues. After a while, that which
they had thus received from God was lost; the way was prepared for the
return of evil qualities, and the world was oppressed by tyranny.

Then again the rumour of the Light of Reality and the breathing of the
Holy Spirit became known. The cloud of Bounty showered, the Light of
Guidance shone upon the earth. The world put on a new garment, the people
became a new people, the oneness of humanity was proclaimed. The great
unity of thought transformed humanity and created a new world. Again,
after a time, all this was forgotten by the people. The teachings of God
no longer influenced their lives. His prophecies and commandments became
fainter and were finally obliterated from their hearts, and tyranny and
thoughtlessness once more prevailed.

Bahá’u’lláh then came and once more renewed the foundation of Faith. He
brought back the teachings of God, and the humane practices of the time of
Christ. He quenched the thirst of the thirsty, He awakened the careless
and called the attention of the heedless to the Divine secrets. He
declared the unity of humanity, and spread abroad the teaching of the
equality of all men.

Therefore, all of you ought with your hearts and minds to endeavour to win
the people with kindness, so that this great Unity may be established,
that childish superstitions may pass away, and all may become one.



DISCOURSE AT MRS. THORNBURGH-CROPPER’S


                          September 13th, 1911.


‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:—Thanks be to God, this is a good meeting. It is very
enlightened, it is spiritual.

As a Persian Poet has written:—“The Celestial Universe is so formed that
the under world reflects the upper world.” That is to say whatever exists
in heaven is reflected in this phenomenal world. Now, praise be to God,
this meeting of ours is a reflection of the heavenly concourse; it is as
though we had taken a mirror and had gazed into it. This reflection from
the heavenly concourse we know as love.

As heavenly love exists in the supreme concourse even so it is reflected
here. The supreme concourse is filled with the desire for God—thank God,
this desire is also here.

Therefore if we say that this meeting is heavenly, it is true. Why?
Because we have no other desire except for that which comes from God. We
have no other object save the commemoration of God.

Some of the people of the earth desire conquest over others: some of them
are longing for rest and ease; others desire a high position; some desire
to become famous:—thank God our desire is for spirituality and for union
with God.

Now that we are gathered here our wish is to raise the banner of the Unity
of God, to spread the Light of God, to make the hearts of the people turn
to the Kingdom. Therefore I thank God that He is causing us to do this
great work.

I pray for all of you, that you may become celestial warriors, that you
may everywhere spread the Unity of God and enlighten the East and West,
and that you may give to all hearts the love of God. This is my utmost
desire, and I pray to God that your desire may be the same.

I am very happy to be with you all. I am pleased with the English King and
Government, and with the people.

You may thank God that in this land you are so free. You do not know what
lack of freedom there is in the East. When anyone comes to this country he
is content.

I wish God’s protection for you all. Goodbye to you all.



DISCOURSE BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ GIVEN AT THE UNITY MEETING OF MISSES JACK AND
HERRICK.


                          September 22nd, 1911.


It is a cold and miserable day but as I was anxious to see you I came
here. For a man who has love, effort is a rest. He will travel any
distance to visit his friends.

Thank God I see you spiritual and at rest; I give you this message from
God; that you must be turned toward Him. Praise God that you are near Him!
The unworthy things of this world have not deterred you from seeking the
world of Spirit. When in harmony with that world, you care not for the
things that perish; your desire is for that which never dies and the
Kingdom lies open before you. I hope that the teaching of God will spread
throughout the world, and will cause all to be united.

In the time of Jesus Christ there was an outpouring of the Light from East
to West that brought the people under a heavenly banner and illumined them
with divine insight. Western lands have been kindled by the Light of the
Christ. I pray earnestly that the Light in this advanced age will so
illumine the world that all may rally under the banner of Unity and
receive Spiritual education.

Then those problems which cause difference among the peoples of the earth
will be seen no more, for verily they are not. You are all waves of one
sea, mirrors of one reflection.

This day the countries of Europe are at rest; Education has become
widespread. The light of liberty is the light of the West, and the
intention of government is to work for truth and justice in Western
countries. But ever the light of spirituality shines from out of the East.
In this age that light has become dimmed; religion has become a matter of
form and ceremony and the desire for God’s love has been lost.

In very age of great spiritual darkness, a light is kindled in the East.
So once again the light of the teachings of God has come unto you. Even as
education and progress travel from West to East, so does the spiritual
fire travel from East to West.

I hope that the people of the West may be illumined by the light of God;
that the Kingdom may come to them, that they may find eternal Life, that
the Spirit of God may spread like a fire among them, that they may be
baptized with the Water of Life and may find a new birth.

This is my desire; I hope by the will of God, He will cause you to receive
it, and will make you happy.

In the same way that you have education and material progress so may the
light of God be your portion.

God keep all of you in safety.



NOTES OF CONVERSATIONS


                          The Arrival in London


The evening of his arrival in London, Monday, September 4th, 1911,
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: Heaven has blessed this day. It was said that London
should be a place for a great proclamation of the Faith. I was tired when
I went on board the steamer, but when I reached London and beheld the
faces of the friends my fatigue left me. Your great love refreshes me. I
am very pleased with the English friends.

The feeling that existed between the East and the West is changing in the
Light of Bahá’u’lláh’s teaching. It used to be such that if an Occidental
drank from the cup of an Oriental the cup would be considered polluted and
would be broken. Now when a Western Bahá’í dines with an Eastern Bahá’í
the vessels and the plates that he has used are kept apart and reverenced
in his memory. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá then gave this historic instance of wonderful
brotherly love:

One day some soldiers came to the house of a Bahá’í and demanded that one
of the guests should be given up for execution, according to their
warrant. The host took his guest’s place and died in his stead.



London


The magnet of your love brought me to this country. My hope is that the
Divine Light may shine here, and that the Heavenly Star of Bahá’u’lláh may
strengthen you, so that you may be the cause of the oneness of humanity,
that you may help to make the darkness of superstition and prejudice
disappear and unite all creeds and nations.

This is a brilliant century. Eyes are now open to the beauty of the
oneness of humanity, of love and of brotherhood. The darkness of
suppression will disappear and the light of unity will shine. We cannot
bring love and unity to pass merely by talking of it. Knowledge is not
enough. Wealth, science, education are good, we know: but we must also
work and study to bring to maturity the fruit of knowledge.

Knowledge is the first step; resolve, the second step; action, its
fulfillment, is the third step. To construct a building one must first of
all make a plan, then one must have the power (money), then one can build.
A society of Unity is formed, that is good—but meetings and discussions
are not enough. In Egypt these meetings take place but there is only talk
and no result. These meetings here in London are good, the knowledge and
the intention are good, but how can there be a result without action?
Today the force for Unity is the Holy Spirit of Bahá’u’lláh. He manifested
this spirit of Unity. Bahá’u’lláh brings East and West together. Go back,
search history, you will not find a precedent for this.



Differences


God has created the world as one—the boundaries are marked out by man. God
has not divided the lands, but each man has his house and meadow; horses
and dogs do not divide the fields into parts. That is why Bahá’u’lláh
says: “Let not a man glory in that he loves his country, but that he loves
his kind.” All are of one family, one race; all are human beings.
Differences as to the partition of lands should not be the cause of
separation among the people.

One of the great reasons of separation is colour. Look how this prejudice
has power in America, for instance. See how they hate one another! Animals
do not quarrel because of their colour! Surely man who is so much higher
in creation, should not be lower than the animals. Think over this. What
ignorance exists! White doves do not quarrel with blue doves because of
their colour, but white men fight with dark-coloured men. This racial
prejudice is the worst of all.

The Old Testament says that God created man like unto His own image; in
the Qur’an it says: “There is no difference in the Creation of God!” Think
well, God has created all, cares for all, and all are under His
protection. The policy of God is better than our policy. We are not as
wise as God!



Religion


To most men who have not heard the message of this teaching, religion
seems an outward form, a pretence, merely a seal of respectability. Some
priests are in holy office for no other reason than to gain their living.
They themselves do not believe in the religion they pretend to teach.
Would these men lay down their lives for their faith? Ask a Christian of
this kind to deny Christ in order to save his life, and he will do it.

Ask a Bahá’í to deny any of the great Prophets, to deny his faith or to
deny Moses, Muḥammad or Christ, and he will say: I would rather die. So a
Muḥammadan Bahá’í is a better Christian than many so called Christians.

A Bahá’í denies no religion; he accepts the Truth in all, and would die to
uphold it. He loves all men as his brothers, of whatever class, of
whatever race or nationality, of whatever creed or colour, whether good or
bad, rich or poor, beautiful or hideous. He commits no violence; if he is
struck he does not return the blow. He calls nothing bad, following the
example of the Lord Bahá’u’lláh. As a safeguard against intemperance he
does not drink wine or spirits. Bahá’u’lláh has said it is not good for a
sane man to take that which will destroy his health and sense.

The religion of God has two aspects in this world. The spiritual (the
real) and the formal (the outward). The formal side changes, as man
changes from age to age. The spiritual side which is the Truth, never
changes. The Prophets and Manifestations of God bring always the same
teaching; at first men cling to the Truth but after a time they disfigure
it. The Truth is distorted by man-made outward forms and material laws.
The veil of substance and worldliness is drawn across the reality of
Truth.

As Moses and Jesus brought their Message to the people, so Bahá’u’lláh
brings the same Message.

Each time God sends a Great One to us we are given new life, but the Truth
each Manifestation brings is the same. The Truth never changes but man’s
vision changes. It is dulled and confused by the complication of outward
forms.

The Truth is easy to understand although the outward forms in which it is
expressed bewilder the intelligence. As men grow they see the futility of
man-made forms and despise them. Therefore many leave the churches,
because the latter often emphasize the external only.



DISCOURSE TO AN ASSEMBLY OF THEOSOPHISTS. LONDON


                             September, 1911.


These are wonderful days! We see an Eastern guest received with love and
courtesy in the West. I have been drawn here, in spite of indisposition,
by the magnet of your love and sympathy.

Some years ago an Ambassador was sent from Persia to London where he
stayed five years. (His name was ‘Abdu’l Ḥasan _Kh_án). When he returned
to Persia they asked him to tell them about the English people. He
answered: “I do not know the English people, although I have been in
London for years I have only met the people of the Court.” This man was a
great man in Persia, and was sent to England by princes, and yet he did
not know the people, although he had lived among them five years. Now,
I—long a prisoner, come to England for the first time, and although my
visit is so short, I have already met many dear friends, and I can say I
know the people. Those I have met are true souls working for peace and
unity.—Think what a difference there is between this time we are living in
now, and seventy years ago! Think of the progress! the progress towards
unity and peace.

It is God’s will that the differences between nations should disappear.
Those who help on the cause of unity are doing God’s work. Unity is the
Divine Bounty for this luminous century. Praise be to God, there are today
many societies and many meetings held for Unity. Enmity is not so much the
cause of separation as it used to be; the cause of disunion now is mostly
prejudice. For instance, years ago when Europeans visited the East they
were considered unclean and were hated. Now it is different: when people
of the West visit those in the East who are followers of the New Light,
they are received with love and courtesy.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá holding a little child close to him said, the true Bahá’í
loves the children, because Jesus says they are of the Kingdom of heaven.
A simple pure heart is near to God; a child has no worldly ambitions.



Prejudices


The Universal Races Congress was good, for it was intended for the
furtherance and progress of unity among all nations and a better
international understanding. The purpose was good. The causes of dispute
among different nations are always due to one of the following classes of
prejudice: racial, lingual, theological, personal, and prejudices of
custom and tradition. It requires a universal active force to overcome
these differences. A small disease needs a small remedy, but a disease
which pervades the whole body needs a very strong remedy. A small lamp may
light a room, a larger would light a house, a larger still might shine
through the city, but the sun is needed to light the whole world.

The differences in language cause disunion between nations. There must be
one universal language. The diversity in Faiths is also a cause of
separation. The true foundation of all faiths must be established, the
outer differences abolished. There must be a Oneness of Faith. To end all
these differences is a very hard task. The whole world is sick, and needs
the power of the Great Healer.

These meetings teach us that Unity is good, and that suppression (slavery
under the yoke of tradition and prejudice) is the cause of disunion. To
know this is not enough. All knowledge is good, but it can bear no fruit
except by action. It is well to know that riches are good, but that
knowledge will not make a man rich; he must work, he must put his
knowledge into practice. We hope the people realize and know that unity is
good, and we also hope that they will not be content to stand still in
that knowledge. Do not only say that Unity, Love and Brotherhood are good;
you must work for their realization.

The Czar of Russia suggested the Hague Peace Conference and proposed a
decrease in armament for all nations. In this Conference it was proved
that Peace was beneficial to all countries, and that war destroyed trade,
etc. The Czar’s words were admirable though after the conference was over
he himself was the first to declare war (against Japan).

Knowledge is not enough; we hope by the Love of God we shall put it into
practice. A spiritual universal Force is needed for this. Meetings are
good for engendering spiritual force. To know that it is possible to reach
a state of perfection, is good; to march forward on the path is better. We
know that to help the poor and to be merciful is good and pleases God, but
knowledge alone does not feed the starving man, nor can the poor be warmed
by knowledge or words in the bitter winter; we must give the practical
help of Loving-kindness.



What of the Peace Congress?


It resembles many drunkards gathered together to protest against the
drinking of alcohol. They say drink is horrible and they straightway go
out from the house to drink again.



Theosophy


When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was asked if he recognized the good which the
Theosophical Society has done. He replied:

I know it; I think a great deal of it. I know that their desire is to
serve mankind. I thank this noble Society in the name of all Bahá’ís and
for myself. I hope that by God’s help these friends will succeed in
bringing about love and unity. It is a great work and needs the effort of
all the servants of God!



Peace


During the last six thousand years nations have hated one another, it is
now time to stop. War must cease. Let us be united and love one another
and await the result. We know the effects of war are bad. So let us try,
as an experiment, peace, and if the results of peace are bad, then we can
choose if it would be better to go back to the old state of war! Let us in
any case make the experiment. If we see that unity brings Light we shall
continue it. For six thousand years we have been walking on the left-hand
path; let us walk on the right-hand path now. We have passed many
centuries in darkness, let us advance towards the light.

Question.—(It was remarked, Theosophy teaches that truth in all the
religions is the same): Does the task of unifying all religions have
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s sympathy?

Answer.—Surely.

Question.—Can ‘Abdu’l-Bahá suggest any lines on which it could best be
worked out?

Answer.—Search for truth. Seek the realities in all religions. Put aside
all superstitions. Many of us do not realize the Reality of all Religions.



Divine Manifestations


Question.—What is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s teaching concerning the different Divine
manifestations?

Answer.—The Reality of all is One. Truth is one. Religions are like the
branches of one Tree. One branch is high, one is low and one in the
centre, yet all draw their life from the one stem. One branch bears fruit
and others are not laden so abundantly. All the Prophets are lights, they
only differ in degree; they shine like brilliant heavenly bodies, each
have their appointed place and time of ascension. Some are like lamps,
some like the moon, some like distant stars, and a few are like the sun,
shining from one end of the earth to the other. All have the same Light to
give, yet they are different in degree.



Buddhism


Some referred to the teaching of Buddha. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: The real
teaching of Buddha is the same as the teaching of Jesus Christ. The
teachings of all the Prophets are the same in character. Now men have
changed the teaching. If you look at the present practice of the Buddhist
religion, you will see that there is little of the Reality left. Many
worship idols although their teaching forbids it.

Buddha had disciples and he wished to send them out into the world to
teach, so he asked them questions to see if they were prepared as he would
have them be. “When you go to the East and to the West,” said the Buddha,
“and the people shut their doors to you and refuse to speak to you, what
will you do?”—The disciples answered and said: “We shall be very thankful
that they do us no harm.”—“Then if they do you harm and mock, what will
you do?”—“We shall be very thankful that they do not give us worse
treatment.”—“If they throw you into prison?”—“We shall still be grateful
that they do not kill us.”—“What if they were to kill you?” the Master
asked for the last time. “Still,” answered the disciples, “we will be
thankful, for they cause us to be martyrs. What more glorious fate is
there than this, to die for the glory of God?” And the Buddha said: “Well
done!”

The teaching of Buddha was like a young and beautiful child, and now it
has become as an old and decrepit man. Like the aged man it cannot see, it
cannot hear, it cannot remember anything. Why go so far back? Consider the
laws of the Old Testament: the Jews do not follow Moses as their example
nor keep his commands. So it is with many other religions.

How can we get the power to follow the right path?

By putting the teaching into practice power will be given. You know which
path to follow: you cannot be mistaken, for there’s a great distinction
between God and evil, between Light and darkness, Truth and falsehood,
Love and hatred, Generosity and meanness, Education and ignorance, Faith
in God and superstition, good Laws and unjust laws.



Faith


How can one increase in faith?

You must strive. A child does not know, in learning he obtains knowledge.
search for Truth.

There are three kinds of Faith: first, that which is from tradition and
birth. For example: a child is born of Muḥammadan parents, he is a
Muḥammadan. This faith is weak traditional faith: second, that which comes
from Knowledge, and is the faith of understanding. This is good, but there
is a better, the faith of practice. This is real faith.

We hear there is an invention, we believe it is good; then we come and see
it. We hear that there is wealth, we see it; we work hard for it, and
become rich ourselves and so help others. We know and we see the Light, we
go close to it, are warmed by it, and reflect its rays on others; this is
real faith, and thus we receive power to become the eternal sons of God.



Healing


‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: Disease is of two kinds: material and spiritual.

Take for instance, a cut hand; if you pray for the cut to be healed and do
not stop its bleeding, you will not do much good; a material remedy is
needed.

Sometimes if the nervous system is paralyzed through fear, a spiritual
remedy is necessary. Madness, incurable otherwise, can be cured through
prayer. It often happens that sorrow makes one ill, this can be cured by
spiritual means.



Philanthropic Societies


Someone asked if the Humanitarian Society was good.—Yes all societies, all
organizations, working for the betterment of the human race are good, very
good. All who work for their brothers and sisters have Bahá’u’lláh’s
blessing. They will surely succeed.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: It makes me happy to see all the believers in London.
You are all, of every race and creed, members of one family. The teaching
of Bahá’u’lláh constrains you to realize your brotherhood to one another.



Man’s Comprehension of God and of Higher Worlds


To man, the Essence of God is incomprehensible, so also are the worlds
beyond this, and their condition. It is given to man to obtain knowledge,
to attain to great spiritual perfection, to discover hidden truths and to
manifest even the attributes of God; but still man cannot comprehend the
Essence of God. Where the ever-widening circle of man’s knowledge meets
the spiritual world a Manifestation of God is sent to mirror forth His
splendour.



Divine Manifestations


Is the Divine Manifestation, God?

Yes, and yet not in Essence. A Divine Manifestation is as a mirror
reflecting the light of the Sun. The light is the same and yet the mirror
is not the Sun. All the Manifestations of God bring the same Light; they
only differ in degree, not in reality. The Truth is one. The light is the
same though the lamps may be different; we must look at the Light not at
the Lamp. If we accept the Light in one, we must accept the Light in all;
all agree, because all are the same. The teaching is ever the same, it is
only the outward forms that change.

The Manifestations of God are as the heavenly bodies. All have their
appointed place and time of ascension, but the Light they give is the
same. If one wishes to look for the sun rising, one does not look always
at the same point because that point changes with the seasons. When one
sees the sun rise further in the north one recognizes it, though it has
risen at a different point.



NOTES OF A CONVERSATION WITH ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ


A Coloured man from South Africa who was visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, said that
even now no white people really cared very much for the black man.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá replies: Compare the present time and the feeling towards the
coloured people now, with the state of feeling two or three hundred years
ago, and see how much better it is at present. In a short time the
relationship between the coloured and white people will still further
improve, and bye and bye no difference will be felt between them. White
doves and purple doves exist, but both kinds are doves.

Bahá’u’lláh once compared the coloured people to the black pupil of the
eye surrounded by the white. In this black pupil you see the reflection of
that which is before it, and through it the light of the Spirit shines
forth.

In the sight of God colour makes no difference at all, He looks at the
hearts of men. That which God desires from men is the heart. A black man
with a good character is far superior to a white man with a character that
is less good.



IDEALS OF EAST AND WEST


One of the organizers of the Races Congress present spoke of the Western
ideals of Bahá’u’lláh as differing from those of former prophets which
were tinged with the ideas and civilization of the East. He then asked
whether Bahá’u’lláh had made a special study of Western writings, and
founded his teachings in accordance with them.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá laughed heartily, and said that the books of Bahá’u’lláh,
written and printed sixty years ago, contained the ideals now so familiar
to the West, but, at that time, they had not been printed or thought of in
the West. Besides, he continued, supposing that a very advanced thinker
from the West had gone to visit Bahá’u’lláh and to teach Him, would the
name of such a great man and the fact of his visit have been unknown and
unrecorded? No! In former days, in the time of the Buddha and Zoroaster,
civilization in Asia and in the East was very much higher than in the West
and ideas and thoughts of the Eastern peoples were much in advance of, and
nearer to the thoughts of God than those of the West. But since that time
superstitions had crept into the religion and ideals of the East, and from
many differing causes the ideals and characters of the Eastern peoples had
gone down and down, lower and lower, while the Western peoples had been
constantly advancing and struggling towards the Light. Consequently, in
these days, the civilization of the West was much higher than that of the
East, and the ideas and thoughts of the people of the West were much
nearer to the thought of God than those of the East. Therefore, the ideals
of Bahá’u’lláh had been more quickly realized in the West.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá showed further how Bahá’u’lláh had exactly described in one
of his books what has since been carried out in the International Council
of Arbitration, describing its various functions, some of which have not
yet been realized and he (‘Abdu’l-Bahá) would describe them to us now, so
that when they were fulfilled, as they would be in the near future, we
might know that they had been prophesied by Bahá’u’lláh.

War was the greatest calamity that could overtake the nations, because the
people usually employed in agriculture, trades, commerce, and other useful
arts, were taken away from their various occupations and turned into
soldiers, so that there was great waste and loss, in addition to the
destruction and carnage of war.

Bahá’u’lláh had said that the functions of the International Court would
be to settle disputes that arose from time to time between the nations; to
define the exact boundaries of the different countries, and to decide what
number of soldiers and guns should be maintained by each nation, according
to its population, in order to preserve internal order. For instance, one
country might have ten thousand soldiers, another twenty thousand, another
fifteen thousand, and so on, in accordance with the size and population of
the nation; also if any people rebelled against the decision of the Court
and rejected it, the Court would empower the others to join their forces
and to endorse their decision, if need be, by united action.

We had not seen any of these things actualized as yet, but we should do so
in the future.



SCIENCE AND FAITH


The gentleman then put a question which he said he considered of very
great importance in connection with a religious movement, claiming to be
universal. What position he asked, if any, did Bahá’u’lláh given to the
modern ideas and conceptions of Science in his teachings. The whole
structure of modern civilization is based upon the results and the
knowledge obtained through laborious and patient observation of facts
collected by men of Science: in some cases through hundreds of years of
painstaking investigation. To make his meaning clearer, he instanced the
ethic, and the moral teachings of the Chinese philosophers, than which he
could conceive nothing higher. However, these teachings had very little
effect outside of China, for the reason he considered, that they were not
primarily based on the teachings of Science.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that a very great importance was given to Science and
knowledge in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, who wrote that, if a man
educated the children of the poor, who could not themselves afford to do
so, it was, in the sight of God, as if he had educated the Son of God.

If any religion rejected Science and knowledge, that religion was false.
Science and Religion should go forward together; indeed, they should be
like two fingers of one hand.

Bahá’u’lláh had also in His writings given a most important place to Art,
and the practice of skilled trades. He had stated that the practice of an
Art or Trade in the true spirit of service was identical with the worship
of God.

A gentleman connected with the work of a Settlement then asked what was
the best method of raising up and civilizing the very lowest and most
degraded and ignorant of the people and would their education come about
gradually through the enlightenment of the Spirit, or was there any
special means we could adopt to further this end?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that the best way was to give them spiritual
teachings and enlightenment. He also remarked that the way to broaden the
outlook of the very narrow-hearted and prejudiced, and to make them listen
to a wider teaching, was by showing towards them the greatest kindness and
love. The example of our lives was of more value than words.



CONVERSE WITH DEPARTED PERSONS


The question was asked if it were possible to establish communication with
the dead, and whether it was wise or advisable to attend séances or to
engage in table-turning, spirit-rapping, etc.

The Master said these rappings, etc., were all material things, and of the
body. What is needed is to rise above the material to the realms of the
purely Spiritual. Table-turning and such like were material, a natural
result, and not spiritual.

But it was possible to communicate with the dead through the condition of
the character and the heart.



ARE SUPERSTITIONS USEFUL


A lady enquired whether some superstitions might not be good for ignorant
people, who, if they were without them might perhaps be without beliefs of
any kind?

‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that superstitions were of two kinds; those that were
harmful and dangerous, and those that were harmless and produced certain
good effects.

For example, there were some poor people who believed that misfortunes and
punishments were caused by a Great Angel with a sword in his hand, who
struck down those who stole, and committed murder and crimes.

They thought the flashes of lightning were the weapons of this angel, and
that if they did wrong they would be struck by lightning. This belief
caused them to refrain from evil actions.

The Chinese held a superstition that if they burn certain pieces of paper
this will drive the devils away; they sometimes burnt these pieces of
paper on board ships when they were travelling in order to drive away
devils, and by so doing they set fire to the ships and destroyed many
lives. This was a type of dangerous and harmful superstition.



THE LIFE AFTER DEATH


Mrs. S. asked some questions with reference to the conditions of existence
in the next world, and the life after death; she said that having recently
lost a very near relative, she had given much thought to this subject.
Many thought that re-union with those we had loved, and who had passed on
to the future life, would only take place after a long period of time had
elapsed. She wished to know whether one would be re-united with those who
had gone before immediately after death.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered that this would depend upon the respective stations
of the two. If both had the same degree of development, they would be
re-united immediately after death. The questioner then said, how could
this state of development be acquired? ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied, by unceasing
effort, striving to do right, and to attain spiritual qualities.

The questioner remarked that many differing opinions were held as to the
conditions of the future life. Some thought that all would have exactly
the same perfections and virtues; that all would be equal and alike.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said there would be variety, and differing degrees of
attainment, as in this world.

The question was then asked as to how it would be possible with no
material bodies or environment to recognize different entities and
characters, when all would be in the same conditions and on the same plane
of existence.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said if several people look into a mirror at the same moment,
they behold all the different personalities, their characteristics and
movements; the glass of the mirror into which they look is one. In your
mind you have a variety of thoughts, but all these thoughts are separate
and distinct. Also you may perhaps have hundreds of friends; but when you
call them before your memory you do not confuse them one with another:
each one is separate and distinct, having their own individualities and
characteristics.

Replying to another questioner, he said that when two people, husband and
wife for instance, have been completely united in this life their souls
being as one soul, then after one of them has passed away, this union of
heart and soul would remain unbroken.



SPIRITUAL RELATIONSHIP


In the evening of September 28th, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was with a number of
assembled guests.

He said all of you here are sisters. Bodily relationships may pass; even
two sisters may be inimical to each other, but the spiritual relationship
is eternal, and brings about mutual love and service.

Be always kind to everyone and a refuge for those who are without shelter.

Be daughters to those who are older than you.

Be sisters to those who are of your own age.

Be mothers to those who are younger than yourselves.

Be nurses to the sick, treasurers for the poor, and supply heavenly food
to the hungry.

A Persian doctor from Qazvín said this was a great work of God that the
East and the West had become so united, and we must always thank God that
the Bahá’í cause had produced such great harmony and union between us. The
result of this visit of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to the West would be very great.



A BAHÁ’Í WEDDING


Quite an oriental note was struck toward the end of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s London
visit, by the marriage of a young Persian couple who had sought his
presence for the ceremony, the bride journeying from Baghdad accompanied
by her uncle in order to meet her fiance here and be married before
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s departure. The bride’s father and grandfather had been
followers of Bahá’u’lláh during the time of his banishment.

We hesitate to alter the bridegroom’s description of the service and
therefore print it in his own simple and beautiful language. It will serve
to show a side not touched on elsewhere, and without which no idea of his
visit is complete. We refer to the attitude of reverence with which people
from the East who came to see ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regard their great teacher.
They invariably rise and stand with bowed heads whenever he enters the
room.

Mírzá Dáwúd writes:—

On Sunday morning, the 1st of October, 1911, A.D., equal to the 9th Tishi
5972 (Hebrew Era), Regina Núr Mahal _Kh_ánum, and Mírzá Yuhanna Dáwúd were
admitted into the holy presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: may my life be a
sacrifice to Him!

After receiving us, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “You are very welcome and it makes
me happy to see you here in London.”

Looking at me he said, “Never have I united anyone in marriage before,
except my own daughters, but as I love you much, and you have rendered a
great service to the Kingdom of Abhá, both in this country and in other
lands, I will perform your marriage ceremony today. It is my hope that you
may both continue in the blessed path of service.”

Then, first, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took Núr Mahal _Kh_ánum into the next room and
said to her, “Do you love Mírzá Yuhanna Dáwúd with all your heart and
soul?” She answered, “Yes, I do.”

Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá called me to him and put a similar question, that is to
say, “Do you love Núr Mahal _Kh_ánum with all your heart and soul?” I
answered “Yes, I do.” We re-entered the room together and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
took the right hand of the bride and gave it into that of the bridegroom
and asked us to say after him, “We do all to please God.”

We all sat down and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá continued; “Marriage is a holy
institution and much encouraged in this blessed cause. Now you two are no
longer two, but one. Bahá’u’lláh’s wish is that all men be of one mind and
consider themselves of one great household, that the mind of mankind be
not divided against itself.

“It is my wish and hope that you may be blessed in your life. May God help
you to render great service to the kingdom of Abhá and may you become a
means of its advancement.

“May joy be increased to you as the years go by, and may you become
thriving trees bearing delicious and fragrant fruits which are the
blessings in the path of service.”

When we came out, all the assembled friends both of Persia and London
congratulated us on the great honour that had been bestowed upon us, and
we were invited to dine by the kind hostess.

After a little while we gathered around the table with him. During the
meal one of the friends asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá how he enjoyed his stay in
London, and what he thought of the English people. I acted as interpreter.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “I have enjoyed London very much and the bright
faces of the friends have delighted my heart. I was drawn here by their
unity and love. In the world of existence there is no more powerful magnet
than the magnet of love. These few days will pass away, but their import
shall be remembered by God’s friends in all ages and in all lands.

“There are living nations and dead nations. Syria lost its civilization
through lethargy of spirit. The English nation is a living one, and when
in this spiritual springtime the divine truth come forth with renewed
vitality, the English will be like fruitful trees, and the Holy Spirit
will enable them to flourish in abundance. Then will they gain not only
materially, but in that which is far more important, spiritual progress,
which will enable them to render a greater service to the world of
humanity.”

Another asked why the teachings of all religions are expressed largely by
parables and metaphors and not in the plain language of the people.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied:—“Divine things are too deep to be expressed by
common words. The heavenly teachings are expressed in parable in order to
be understood and preserved for ages to come. When the spiritually minded
dive deeply into the ocean of their meaning they bring to the surface the
pearls of their inner significance. There is no greater pleasure than to
study God’s Word with a spiritual mind.”

“The object of God’s teaching to man is that man may know himself in order
to comprehend the greatness of God. The Word of God is for agreement and
concord. If you go to Persia where the friends of Abhá are many, you will
at once realize the unifying force of God’s work. They are doing their
utmost to strengthen this bond of amity. There, people of different
nationalities gather in one meeting and chant the divine tablets with one
accord. It might be supposed that they were all brethren. We do not
consider anyone a stranger, for it is said by Bahá’u’lláh ‘Ye are all the
rays of one sun; the fruits of one tree; and the leaves of one branch.’ We
desire the true brotherhood of humanity. This shall be so, and it has
already begun. Praise to be God, the Helper, the Pardoner!”



THE VISIT TO BRISTOL


‘Abdu’l-Bahá spent the week end of September 23rd to 25th, at the Clifton
Guest House at Clifton, Bristol.

On the first afternoon, while driving, he expressed much interest in rural
England, marvelling at the century-old trees, and the vivid green of the
woods and downs, so unlike the arid East. “Though it is autumn it seems
like spring,” he said. The houses with their little plots of ground,
suggested a quotation which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave from Bahá’u’lláh’s writings
in which the latter alludes to each family having a house with a piece of
land. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá likened the country to the soul and the city to the
body of man, saying, “The body without the soul cannot live. It is good,”
he remarked, “to live under the sky, in the sunshine and fresh air.”
Observing a young woman who rode by on horseback with her hair flying free
and several who bicycled past on their bicycles unattended, he said, “This
is the age of woman. She should receive the same education as her brother
and enjoy the same privilege; for all souls are equal before God. Sex, in
its relation to the exigencies of the physical plane, has no connection
with the Spirit. In this age of spiritual awakening, the world has entered
upon the path of progress into the arena of development, where the power
of the spirit surpasses that of the body. Soon the spirit will have
dominion over the world of humanity.”

In the evening greetings were cabled to the Bahá’ís of Ṭihrán informing
them of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence in Bristol. He sent his love and wished
them to know that he was well and happy with the Clifton friends. This was
sent in reply to a cablegram previously received from Ṭihrán
congratulating the people of the Guest House on his prospective visit.

Later on a general reception was held, ninety people coming to meet
‘Abdu’l-Bahá who spoke to them with impressive earnestness.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “You are very welcome. I have come far to see you. I
praise God that after forty years of waiting I am permitted at last to
come and bring my message. This is an assembly full of spirituality. Those
who are present have turned their hearts towards God. They are looking and
longing for glad tidings. We have gathered here by the power of the
Spirit, therefore our hearts are stirred with thanksgiving. ‘Send out Thy
Light and Thy Truth O God: Let them lead us to the Holy Mountains!’ May we
be refreshed by the holy springs that are renewing the life of the world!
As day follows night, and after sunset comes the dawn, so Jesus Christ
appeared on the horizon of this world like a Sun of Truth; even so when
the people—after forgetting the teachings of Christ and His example of
love to all humanity—had again grown tired of material things, a heavenly
Star shone once more in Persia, a new illumination appeared and now a
great light is spreading throughout all lands.

“Men keep their possessions for their own enjoyment and do not share
sufficiently with others the bounty received from God. Spring is thus
changed into the winter of selfishness and egotism. Jesus Christ said ‘Ye
must be born again’ so that divine Life may spring anew within you. Be
kind to all around and serve one another; love to be just and true in all
your dealings; pray always and so live your life that sorrow cannot touch
you. Look upon the people of your own race and those of other races as
members of one organism; sons of the same Father; let it be known by your
behaviour that you are indeed the people of God. Then wars and disputes
shall cease and over the world will spread the Most Great Peace.”

After ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had retired Tamaddun’ul-Mulk and Mr. W. Tudor Pole gave
short addresses in which references were made to the martyrdom of the
faithful in Persia, special mention being made of the eminent poetess
Qurratu’l-‘Ayn.

The next day was a bright Sunday and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went out with his
friends driving and walking on the downs. Afterwards he gathered the
servants of the house together, spoke of the dignity of labour and thanked
them for their service, giving to each some remembrance of his visit. He
went over the Guest house and blessed it as a centre for pilgrims from
every part of the world, and said it would become indeed a House of Rest.

On the morning of the third day, a Canon of the Anglican Church met him at
breakfast. The conversation turned on the reluctance of the rich to part
with their possessions, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, quoting the saying of Jesus, “How
hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” He
remarked that only when the true seeker finds that attachments to the
material are keeping him from his spiritual heritage, will he gladly enter
the way of renunciation. Then will the rich man joyfully share his worldly
possessions with the needy. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá contrasted the unpretentious
hospitality before him with the costly banquets of the wealthy, who too
often sit at their feasts forgetting the hungry multitudes.

He urged his hearers to spread the light in their own homes so that
finally it would illuminate the whole community.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then returned to London. It was the earnest wish of those who
had the privilege of meeting him that his followers in other lands should
know how much the Clifton people appreciated his visit and realized his
spiritual power and love.

Thomas Pole.



AT BYFLEET.


On the afternoon of September 9th, a number of working women of the
Passmore Edwards’ Settlement, who were spending their holidays with Miss
Schepel and Miss Buckton at Vanners, in Byfleet, a village some twenty
miles out of London, had the great privilege of meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. They
wrote a short record of his sayings to keep for themselves. The following
is an extract:—

We gathered round him in a circle, and he made us sit beside him in the
window seat. One of the members, who was ill, had a specially beautiful
greeting from him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began by saying, as he seated himself:
“Are you happy?” and our faces must have shown him that we were. He then
said: “I love you all, you are the children of the Kingdom, and you are
accepted of God. Though you may be poor here, you are rich in the
treasures of the Kingdom. I am the Servant of the poor. Remember how His
Holiness Jesus said: ‘Blessed are the poor!’ If all the queens of the
earth were gathered here, I could not be more glad!”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá knew that we had a treasury box from which we try to help
people less fortunate than ourselves. Presently he rose, and said: “You
are dear to me. I want to do something for you! I cannot cook for you (he
had previously seen us busy in the kitchen) but here is something for your
fund.” He went round the circle to each, with a beautiful smile, shaking
hands with all, and giving the Bahá’í greeting: “Alláh’u’Abhá!”

Later on he walked in the village, and many poor children came to him, and
mothers with sick babies and men out of work. He spoke to them all,
through an interpreter. At tea-time other friends joined us. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
liked the cottage garden at Vanners, the little orchard and the roses. He
said: “This is like a Persian garden. The air is very pure.”

On leaving for London he presented every one with a purple heartsease from
the garden, and said again and again: “Good-bye” in English.

On the 28th September, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá again visited Vanners, the little farm
house on the old royal manor that dates back to the time of Edward II. He
motored down from London and stayed over night, returning on the evening
of the second day.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá was much struck during the drive by two detachments of Boy
Scouts tramping the road. When told of the Scouts’ motto, “Be Prepared,”
and that an act of kindness each day is one of their laws and that some of
these boys had put out a fire and assisted at a recent railway accident,
he said. “This makes me very happy.”

Arriving at Vanners, he found a large, strangely mixed crowd, assembled
about the gate to welcome him, from the quite poor to the wealthy who had
motored over from their country places. A great number followed him and as
many as could do so pressed into the garden and sat down around him. The
silence was most impressive. The same attention and eagerness to hear was
noticed among the people each time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared in the village.

After expressing his joy at being with them, he began to speak to the
little group in answer to a question about the elaborate civilization of
the West.



THE CAPTIVITY OF MAN


‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:—“Luxuries cut off the freedom of communication. One who
is imprisoned by desires is always unhappy; the children of the Kingdom
have unchained themselves from their desires. Break all fetters and seek
for spiritual joy and enlightenment; then, though you walk on this earth,
you will perceive yourselves to be within the divine horizon. To man alone
is this possible. When we look about us we see every other creature
captive to his environment.

“The bird is a captive in the air and the fish a captive in the sea. Man
alone stands apart and says to the elements, I will make you my servants!
I can govern you! He takes electricity, and through his ingenuity
imprisons it and makes of it a wonderful power for lighting, and a means
of communication to a distance of thousands of miles. But man himself may
become a captive to the things he has invented. His true second birth
occurs when he is freed from all material things: for he only is free who
is not a captive to his desires. He has then as Jesus has said, become
captive to the Holy Spirit.”



THE POWER OF GOD


A friend asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá how far the individual could attain to that
Christ consciousness in himself of which St. Paul speaks as our hope of
Glory.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned with a look of great joy and said with an impressive
gesture: “The bounty and power of God is limitless for each human soul.
Consider what was the quickening power of the Christ when He was on earth.
Look at His disciples! They were poor and uncultured men. Out of the rough
fisherman He made the great Peter, and out of the poor village girl of
Magdala He made one who is a power in all the world today. Many queens
have reigned who are remembered by their dates in history, and nothing
more is known of them. But Mary the Magdalene is greater than them all. It
was she whose love strengthened the disciples when their faith was
failing. What she did for the world cannot be measured. See what a divine
power was enkindled in her by the power of God!”



INSPIRED MESSENGERS


When asked if it would be always necessary for prophets to come from time
to time—“would not the world in the course of events through progress
reach to a full realization of God?”—‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied: “Mankind needs
a universal motive power to quicken it. The inspired messenger who is
directly assisted by the power of God brings about universal results.
Bahá’u’lláh rose as a light in Persia and now that light is going out to
the whole world.”

“Is this what is meant by the Second Coming of Christ?” “Christ is an
Expression of the Divine Reality, the Single Essence and Heavenly Entity,
which hath no beginning or ending. It has appearance, arising, and
manifestation and setting in each one of the Cycles.”

Those who have been with ‘Abdu’l-Bahá notice how, often, after speaking
earnestly with people, he will suddenly turn and walk away to be alone. At
such times no one follows him. On this occasion, when he finished speaking
and went out through the orchard gate into the village, all were struck
with his free and wonderful walk which has been described by one of our
American friends as that of a shepherd or a king.

As he passed along the ragged children clustered about him by dozens, the
boys saluting him as they had been taught in school, showing how
instinctively they felt the greatness of his presence. Most noticeable was
the silence of even the roughest men when ‘Abdu’l-Bahá appeared. One poor
tramp exclaimed “He is a good man,” and added, “Ay, he’s suffered!”

He took particular interest in the sick, crippled and poorly nourished
children. Mothers carrying their little ones followed him, and a friend
explained that this great visitor had come over the seas from the Holy
Land where Jesus was born.

All day long people of every condition gathered about the gate for a
chance of seeing him, and more than sixty drove or cycled to Vanners to
see him, many wishing to question him on some special subject. Among them
were the clergy of several denominations, a head master of a boys’ public
school, a member of Parliament, a doctor, a famous political writer, the
vice-chancellor of a University, several journalists, a well known poet,
and a magistrate from London.

He will long be remembered as he sat in the bow window in the afternoon
sunshine, his arm round a very ragged but very happy little boy, who had
come to ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá for sixpence for his money box and for his
invalid mother, whilst round him in the room were gathered men and women
discussing Education, Socialism, the first Reform Bill, and the relation
of submarines and wireless telegraphy to the new era on which man is
entering.

During the evening a young betrothed couple in the village, who had read
some of the Bahá’í books, begged permission to come to him. They entered
shyly, the man, led by the girl. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá rose to greet them, and made
them take a place in the circle. He talked earnestly to them upon the
sacredness of marriage, the beauty of a real union, and the importance of
the little child and its education. Before they left he blessed them, and
touched their hair and foreheads with a Persian perfume.



EDUCATION


‘Abdu’l-Bahá laid great stress on Education. He said “The girl’s education
is of more importance today than the boy’s, for she is the mother of the
future race. It is the duty of all to look after the children. Those
without children should, if possible, make themselves responsible for the
education of a child.”

The condition of the destitute in the country villages as well as in
London impressed ‘Abdu’l-Bahá greatly. In an earnest talk with the Rector
of a Parish, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “I find England awake; there is spiritual
life here. But your poor are so very poor! This should not be. On the one
hand you have wealth, and great luxury; on the other hand men and women
are living in the extremities of hunger and want. This great contrast of
life is one of the blots on the civilization of this enlightened age.

“You must turn attention more earnestly to the betterment of the
conditions of the poor. Do not be satisfied until each one with whom you
are concerned is to you as a member of your family. Regard each one either
as a father, or as a brother, or as a sister, or as a mother, or as a
child. If you can attain to this, your difficulties will vanish, you will
know what to do. This is the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh.”



THE CHANGE OF HEART


To one who spoke of the people’s desire to possess the land, and of the
strong under-current of rebellion on the part of the labouring classes,
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Fighting, and the employment of force, even for the
right cause, will not bring about good results. The oppressed who have
right on their side, must not take that right by force; the evil would
continue. Hearts must be changed. The rich must wish to give! Life in man
should be like a flame, warming all with whom it comes into contact. The
spiritually awakened are like to bright torches in the sight of God, they
give light and comfort to their fellows.”

When asked if he did not find the manners of the English rude and awkward,
compared with those of the East, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said he had not felt this.
As a nation increases in spirituality, the the manners become different.



CHRIST AND BAHÁ’U’LLÁH


A friend asked how the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh contrasted with the
teachings of Jesus Christ. “The teachings are the same.” declared
‘Abdu’l-Bahá; “It is the same foundation and the same temple. Truth is
one, and without division. The teachings of Jesus are in a concentrated
form. Men do not agree to this day as to the meaning of many of His
sayings. His teachings are as a flower in the bud. Today, the bud is
unfolding into a flower! Bahá’u’lláh has expanded and fulfilled the
teachings, and has applied them in detail to the whole world.

“There are no solitaries and no hermits among the Bahá’ís. Man must work
with his fellows. Everyone should have some trade, or art or profession,
be he rich or poor, and with this he must serve humanity. This service is
acceptable as the highest form of worship.”



ART


A painter asked: “Is art a worthy vocation?” ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turning to her
impressively, said: “Art is worship.”

An actor mentioned the drama, and its influence. “The drama is of the
utmost importance.” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “It has been a great educational
power in the past; it will be so again.” He described how as a young boy
he witnessed the Mystery Play of ‘Alí’s Betrayal and Passion, and how it
affected him so deeply that he wept and could not sleep for many nights.



SYMBOLS


Someone wished to know if it were a good custom to wear a symbol, as, for
instance, a cross. He said: “You wear the cross for remembrance, it
concentrates your thoughts; it has no magical power. Bahá’ís often wear a
stone with the greatest name engraved on it: there is no magical influence
in the stone; it is a reminder, and companion. If you are about to do some
selfish or hasty action, and your glance falls on the ring on your hand,
you will remember and change your intention.”



ESPERANTO


A friend enquired concerning Bahá’u’lláh’s prophecy in the Words of
Paradise, that a universal language would be formed, and desired to know
if Esperanto would be the language chosen.

“The love and effort put into Esperanto will not be lost,” he answered,
“but no one person can construct a Universal Language. It must be made by
a Council representing all countries, and must contain words from
different languages. It will be governed by the simplest rules, and there
will be no exceptions; neither will there be gender, nor extra and silent
letters. Everything indicated will have but one name. In Arabic there are
hundreds of names for the camel! In the schools of each nation the mother
tongue will be taught, as well as the revised Universal Language.”



TOLSTOY


The same questioner said: “I have read much of Tolstoy and I see a
parallel between his teachings and yours. In one of his books he speaks of
the Enigma of Life, and describes how life is wasted in our endeavour to
find the Key. But Tolstoy goes on to say: ‘There is a man in Persia who
holds the secret.’”

“Yes,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “I received a letter from Tolstoy, and in it he
said that he wished to write a book upon Bahá’u’lláh.”



HEALING


A friend interested in healing quoted the words of Bahá’u’lláh: “If one is
sick, let him go to the greatest physician.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “There is but one power which heals—that is God. The
state or condition through which the healing takes place is the confidence
of the heart. By some this state is reached through pills, powders, and
physicians. By others through hygiene, fasting, and prayer. By others
through direct perception.”

On another occasion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said with regard to the same subject,
“All that we see around us is the work of mind. It is mind in the herb and
in the mineral that acts on the human body, and changes its condition.”
The talk developed into a learned dissertation on the Philosophy of
Aristotle.



DEATH


A friend asked: “How should one look forward to death?”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “How does one look forward to the goal of any
journey? With hope and with expectation. It is even so with the end of
this earthly journey. In the next world, man will find himself freed from
many of the disabilities under which he now suffers. Those who have passed
on through death, have a sphere of their own. It is not removed from ours;
their work, the work of the Kingdom, is ours; but it is sanctified from
what we call ‘time and place.’ Time with us is measured by the sun. When
there is no more sunrise, and no more sunset, that kind of time does not
exist for man. Those who have ascended have different attributes from
those who are still on earth, yet there is no real separation.

“In prayer there is a mingling of station, a mingling of condition. Pray
for them as they pray for you! When you do not know it, and are in a
receptive attitude, they are able to make suggestions to you, if you are
in difficulty. This sometimes happens in sleep, but there is no phenomenal
intercourse! That which seems like phenomenal intercourse has another
explanation.” The questioner exclaimed; “But I have heard a voice!”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Yes, that is possible; we hear voices clearly in
dreams. It is not with the physical ear that you heard; the spirit of
those that have passed on are freed from sense-life, and do not use
physical means. It is not possible to put these great matters into human
words; the language of man is the language of children, and man’s
explanation often leads astray.”

Someone present asked how it was that in prayer and meditation the heart
often turns with instinctive appeal to some friend who has passed into the
next life.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “It is a law of God’s creation that the weak should
lean upon the strong. Those to whom you turn may be the mediators of God’s
power to you, even as when on earth. But it is the One Holy Spirit that
strengthens all men.” Hereupon another friend referred to the communing of
Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Moses and Elijah; and
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “The faithful are ever sustained by the presence of the
Supreme Concourse. In the Supreme Concourse are Jesus, and Moses, and
Elijah, and Bahá’u’lláh, and other supreme Souls: there, also, are the
martyrs.”

When asked about the individual persistence of the animal’s personality
after death, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said: “Even the most developed dog has not the
immortal soul of the man; yet the dog is perfect in its own place. You do
not quarrel with a rose-tree because it cannot sing!”



A TRUE BAHÁ’Í


A student of the modern methods of the higher criticism asked ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
if he would do well to continue in the church with which he had been
associated all his life, and whose language was full of meaning to him.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá answered: “You must not dissociate yourself from it. Know
this; the Kingdom of God is not in any Society; some seekers go through
many Societies as a traveller goes through many cities till he reach his
destination. If you belong to a Society already do not forsake your
brothers. You can be a Bahá’í-Christian, a Bahá’í-Freemason, a Bahá’í-Jew,
a Bahá’í-Muḥammadán. The number nine contains eight, and seven, and all
the other numbers, and does not deny any of them. Do not distress or deny
anyone by saying ‘He is not a Bahá’í!’ He will be known by his deeds.
There are no secrets among Bahá’ís; a Bahá’í does not hide anything.”



SPREADING THE TEACHING


When asked by an American friend: “Which is the best way to spread the
teaching?” he said: “By deeds. This way is open to all, and deeds are
understood by all. Join yourselves to those who work for the poor, the
weak and the unfortunate; this is greatly to be commended. To teach by
words requires the skill of a wise physician. He does not offer help to
those who do not want treatment. Do not press help on those who do not
need your help. The work of teaching is not for all.”

The following incident shows how ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s attention is given to the
smallest details where others are involved. On hearing that some of his
friends had come down from London, and had planned to stop the night in
the village so as to be near him ‘Abdu’l-Bahá immediately made them his
guests at the Inn, and being concerned for their comfort, went over
personally to inspect the rooms, as the nights were getting cold.



AT BROOKLANDS


The morning of the second day, a neighbour sent over her car asking if
‘Abdu’l-Bahá would not like to take his guests to the Brooklands aviation
ground. Though it was windy, an aviator was on the track, when he heard
who the visitor was offered to fly for him. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left his friends
and walked out into the middle of the course, where he stood alone
watching the biplane making wide circles above him.

A Hindu who was learning to fly at the school joined ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s
friends and asked: “Who is the man in Eastern dress?”

When told, he exclaimed, “Oh I know him very well through his teachings,
which I have studied,” and immediately he went to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

They talked together for some time in Arabic, the young man showing great
joy at being in his presence. He afterwards said that for many years he
had longed for this moment.

While having tea out of doors, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and the young Hindu, sitting
at the head of the long benches that has been arranged, talked merrily to
everyone.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá noticed two of the airmen who were wrestling on the grounds,
and when they stopped, he went to them clapping his hands and crying in
English, “Bravo! Bravo! that is good exercise.”

Since his return to Egypt, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has sent a kind message of
remembrance to the people of Byfleet, saying that he will never forget
them.



DAYS IN LONDON


During ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay in Cadogan Gardens people arrived all day and
every day, from early morning to nightfall, hoping for the privilege of
seeing him and of hearing him talk. Many were the gatherings round the
board of that hospitable house and hundreds of people were made welcome.
Many came without introduction and no one was refused. Among them were
clergy of various denominations, members of Parliament, magistrates, and
literary men.

The visitors were not only English; numerous Persians had journeyed from
Ṭihrán and other Eastern cities to meet freely one who had so long been
withheld from them by his captivity.

The editor of a journal printed in Japan, altered his return route to
Tokyo in order that he might spend the night near ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and a late
visit was paid by a Zoroastrian physician of Bombay, on the eve of his
return to India.



WOMAN’S WORK


‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s interest in women’s work and progress is well known, and
among the notable leaders who came to see him, may be mentioned Mrs. Annie
Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, the organizers of various
suffrage bodies, civic and philanthropic workers, the principals of
several woman’s colleges and lady doctors.

A spirited conversation due to the visit of an ardent suffragist will be
long remembered by those who had the privilege of being present. The room
was full of men and women, many Persians being seated in their familiar
respectful attitude on the floor.

After contrasting the general position of the Eastern and the Western
women, and then describing how in many respects the Eastern woman has the
advantage of her Western sister, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá turned and said to the
visitor: “Give me your reasons for believing that woman today should have
the vote?”

Answer: “I believe that humanity is a divine humanity and that it must
rise higher and higher; but it cannot soar with only one wing.”
‘Abdu’l-Bahá expressed his pleasure at this answer, and smiling, replied:
“But what will you do if one wing is stronger than the other?” Answer:
“Then we must strengthen the weaker wing, otherwise the flight will always
be hampered.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá smiled and asked: “What will you say if I prove to you that
the woman is the stronger wing?”

The answer came in the same bright vein: “You will earn my eternal
gratitude!” at which all the company made merry.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then continued more seriously: “The woman is indeed of the
greater importance to the race. She has the greater burden and the greater
work. Look at the vegetable and the animal worlds. The palm which carries
the fruit is the tree most prized by the date grower. The Arab knows that
for a long journey the mare has the longest wind. For her greater strength
and fierceness, the lioness is more feared by the hunter than the lion.

“The mere size of the brain has been proved to be no measure of
superiority. The woman has greater moral courage than the man; she has
also special gifts which enable her to govern in moments of danger and
crisis. If necessary she can become a warrior.”



ZENOBIA


‘Abdu’l-Bahá asked the company if they remembered the story of Zenobia and
of the fall of Palmyra. He then continued as follows, using his hands in
the grave and simple gesticulations characteristic of him:

“There was once a Governor in Ancient Syria, who had a beautiful and
clever wife. She was so capable that when the Governor died, she was made
ruler in his stead. The land prospered under her sway, and men
acknowledged that she was a better ruler than her husband. After a time
the legions of Rome invaded the country, but again and again she drove
them out with great confusion. She let down her beautiful hair, and
herself rode at the head of her army, clad in a scarlet cloak, wearing a
crown of gold, and wielding a two-edged sword in her hand. The Roman
Caesar then withdrew his strength from five other provinces in order to
subdue her. After a long and brave fight Zenobia retired into the city of
Palmyra, which she strengthened with wonderful fortifications, and there
she endured a siege of four months, Caesar being unable to dislodge her.
The food she had stored within the walls at last was gone, and the misery
of her starving and plague-stricken people compelled her to surrender.

“Caesar was full of admiration for this great woman, because of her
courage and endurance, and he asked her to become his wife. But she
refused, saying that she would never consent to take as her husband the
enemy of her people. Thereupon, Caesar was enraged, and determined to
humble her. He took her back with him in his ships to Rome. For his
triumphal entry a great procession was prepared, and the streets were
filled with people. In the procession came first elephants, after the
elephants came the camels, after the camels came the tigers and the
leopards, after the leopards came the monkeys, and lastly, after the
monkeys, walked Zenobia with a gold chain round her neck. Still she
carried her head high, and was firm in her determination. Nothing could
break her spirit! She refused to become the Empress of Caesar, so she was
thrown into a dungeon, and eventually she died.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá ceased. Silence fell upon the room, and it was some time
before it was broken.

Upon another occasion ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said to a group of friends around him:
“Taken in general, women today have a stronger sense of religion than men.
The woman’s intuition is more correct; she is more receptive and her
intelligence is quicker. The day is coming when woman will claim her
superiority to man.

“Woman has everywhere been commended for her faithfulness. After the Lord
Christ suffered, the disciples wept, and gave way to their grief. They
thought that their hopes were shattered, and that the Cause was utterly
lost, till Mary Magdalene came to them and strengthened them saying: ‘Do
you mourn the body of Our Lord or His Spirit? If you mourn His Spirit, you
are mistaken, for Jesus lives! His Spirit will never leave us!’ Thus
through her wisdom and encouragement the Cause of Christ was upheld for
all the days to come. Her intuition enabled her to grasp the spiritual
fact.”

‘Abdu’l-Bahá then added: “But in the sight of God sex makes no difference.
He or she is greatest who is nearest to God.”

One morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, on entering the room looked about and said: “It
is just like a miracle, our being here together. There is no racial,
political or patriotic tie. We are drawn together by the words of
Bahá’u’lláh, and in like manner will all the races of the earth be drawn
together. Of this, rest assured!”



THE TRUE BAHÁ’Í


“I have never heard of Bahá’u’lláh,” said a young man. I have only
recently read about this movement, but I recognize the mission of
‘Abdu’l-Bahá and desire to be a disciple. I have always believed in the
brotherhood of man as the ultimate solvent of all our national and
international difficulties.”

“It makes no difference whether you have ever heard of Bahá’u’lláh or
not,” was the answer, “the man who lives the life according to the
teachings of Bahá’u’lláh is already a Bahá’í. On the other hand a man may
call himself a Bahá’í for fifty years and if he does not live the life he
is not a Bahá’í. An ugly man may call himself handsome, but he deceives no
one, and a black man may call himself white yet he deceives no one: not
even himself!”



THE COMING OF PEACE


“By what process” continued the questioner, “will this peace on earth be
established? Will it come at once after a universal declaration of the
Truth?”

“No, it will come about gradually,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “A plant that grows
too quickly lasts but a short time. You are my family” and he looked about
with a smile, “my new children! if a family lives in unison, great results
are obtained. Widen the circle; when a city lives in intimate accord
greater results will follow, and a continent that is fully united will
likewise unite all other continents. Then will be the time of the greatest
results, for all the inhabitants of the earth belong to one native land.”



THE PURE HEART


When asked for a definition of a pure heart, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said, “The pure
heart is one that is entirely cut away from self. To be selfless is to be
pure.”



TRUE SPIRITUALITY


Another morning ‘Abdu’l-Bahá began at once to speak as he joined the group
of seekers. He said: “Praise be to God, this century is a glorious
century; may love increase every day; may it strike fire to light the
candle in the darkness, like a gift and mercy of God.

“Know, O thou possessors of insight, that true spirituality is like unto a
lake of clear water which reflects the divine. Of such was the
spirituality of Jesus Christ. There is another kind which is like a
mirage, seeming to be spiritual when it is not. That which is truly
spiritual must light the path to God, and must result in deeds. We cannot
believe the call to be spiritual when there is no result. Spirit is
reality, and when the spirit in each of us seeks to join itself with the
Great Reality, it must in turn give life. The Jews in the time of Christ
were dead, having no real life, and Jesus actually wafted a new breath
into their bodies. Behold what has been accomplished since!”



KNOWLEDGE MUST RESULT IN ACTION


A representative from a well known society made reference to its meetings
for the purpose of a search into the reality of truth, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
said “I know of your work. I think a great deal of it. I know your desire
is to serve mankind, and to draw together Humanity under the banner of
Oneness; but its members must beware less it become only a discussion.
Look about you. How many committees have been formed, and living for a
little while, have died! Committees and Societies can not create or give
life.

“People get together and talk, but it is God’s Word alone that is powerful
in its results. Consider for a moment: you would not trade together if you
had no income from it and derived no benefit! Look at the followers of
Christ. Their power was due to their ardour and their deeds. Every effort
must have its result, else it is not a true effort. You must become the
means of lighting the world of humanity. This is the infallible proof and
sign. Every progress depends on two things, knowledge and practice. First
acquire knowledge, and, when conviction is reached, put it into practice.

“Once a learned man journeyed to see me to receive my blessing, saying he
knew and comprehended the Bahá’í teachings. When I told him that he could
receive the blessings of the Holy Spirit at any time when he put himself
in a receptive attitude to accept them, he said he was always in a
receptive attitude.

“‘What would you do,’ I asked ‘if I were to suddenly turn and strike you?’
He instantly flared with indignation and strode angrily about the room.

“After a little I went over and took his arm, saying, ‘But you must return
good for evil. Whether I honoured you or despised you, you should follow
the teachings; now you merely read them. Remember the words of Jesus who
said, ‘The first shall be last, and the last first.’ The man turned, shook
my hand and departed, and I have since heard of many kind acts he has
done.”

When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was addressed by the name of prophet, he answered, “My
name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, the Servant of God” [literally, the Slave of
Glory.](1)



VISIT TO THE LORD MAYOR


At the express wish of the Lord Mayor, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá paid him a visit early
one morning at the Mansion House. The talk turned chiefly upon the social
conditions of great cities, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said that London was the best
regulated city he had seen.

He said: “Every man walking in the street is free as if he were in his own
kingdom. There is a great spiritual light in London. The effort made for
justice is real and in this country the law is the same for the poor as
for the rich.” He took great interest in hearing of the care that is taken
of prisoners as they leave jail, and spoke of the land being happy where
the magistrates are as fathers to the people.

Before ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left London, he went to an East-end hospital to visit
there a young writer lying seriously ill, who was very anxious to see him.



SOME PERSONAL CHARACTERISTICS


There is a note in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s character that has not been emphasized,
and with which no idea of him is complete. The impressive dignity which
distinguishes his presence and bearing is occasionally lighted by a
delicate and tactful humour, which is as unaffected as it is infectious
and delightful.

On his last afternoon in London, a reporter called to ask him of his
future plans, finding him surrounded by a number of friends who had called
to bid him good-bye. When, in answer to this query, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá told in
perfect English of his intention to visit Paris and go from there to
Alexandria, the press representative evinced surprise at his faultless
pronunciation. Thereupon ‘Abdu’l-Bahá proceeded to march with a free
stride up and down the flower-scented drawing room, his Oriental garb
contrasting strangely with his modern surroundings; and, to the amusement
of the assembly, uttered a string of elaborate English words, laughingly
ending, “Very difficult English words I speak!” Then, a moment later, with
the swift transition of one who knows both how to be grave and gay, he
showed himself terribly in earnest.

He had left orders that none were to be turned away, but one who had twice
vainly sought his presence, and was, through some oversight, prevented
from seeing him, wrote a heartbreaking letter showing that he thought
himself rebuffed. It was translated by the Persian interpreter.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá at once put on his coat, and, turning towards the door, said,
with an expression of unspeakable sadness, “A friend of mine has been
martyred, and I am very grieved. I go out alone.” and he swept down the
steps. One could then see how well the title of “Master” became him.

Another phase of his character which none who saw him could ever forget
was his attitude towards children who were brought to him. Many of his
talks were given as he sat with his arm encircling one of them.

He invariably admonished the parents thus: “Give this child a good
education; make every effort that it may have the best you can afford, so
that it may be enabled to enjoy the advantage of this glorious age. Do all
you can to encourage spirituality in them.”

One who sought the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá realized the father-like
sympathy which is his. Speaking of his and others’ love for ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
the reply was: “I know that you love me, I can see that it is so. I will
pray for you that you may be firm and serve in the Cause, becoming a true
servant to Bahá’u’lláh. Though I go away I will always be present with you
all.” These words were spoken with the greatest loving sympathy and
understanding of difficulties; during the moments of this little talk
‘Abdu’l-Bahá held and stroked the speaker’s hands, and at the end took his
head and with a gentle touch drew it to him kissing the forehead of the
young man, who felt that he had found a father and a friend.



THE FAREWELL


On the last morning of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s stay in London many friends gathered
both at Cadogan Gardens and at the station to bid him farewell. An
impressive and interesting ceremony was performed at the house by a
Zoroastrian (a physician), who sent an elaborate telegram to some Parsis
in Bombay, saying: “The Torch of Truth has been lighted again in the East
and the West by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.” Instructed by his brethren, this follower
of one of the most ancient religions in the world had brought with him a
sacred oil of a rare perfume, with which he anointed the head and breast
of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, afterwards touching the hands of all present. He then
placed around ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s neck and shoulders an exquisite garland of
rose-buds and lilies.

The last glimpse which the friends had at Victoria Station was that of the
venerable face and form standing at the window, gazing out with a look of
benevolence and wonderful tenderness on those he was leaving.



FROM AN INTERVIEW GIVEN BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ TO THE WEEKLY BUDGET.


                          September 23rd, 1911.



SOME OF THE EXPERIENCES OF HIS FORTY YEARS IMPRISONMENT


In an apartment in Cadogan Gardens sits a spiritually illumined Oriental,
whose recent advent in London marks the latest junction of the East and
West.

The teaching of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has already brought about the commingling of
thousands of Englishmen and Englishwomen with Orientals from every quarter
of the East. Upon the basis of mutual help and friendship and the worship
of God, regardless of creed and denomination, they have joined hands with
an earnestness and brotherly love contrary to the theories of certain
cynical poets and philosophers.

Most of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life has been spent in an Eastern prison, which he
gladly endured rather than abjure his faith, one of the tenets of which is
the absolute equality of souls regardless of physical differences, such as
sex and colour. He recognizes no class distinctions except those conferred
by service and the spirit of brotherly love. For this and other like
doctrines he was held prisoner for forty years in the fortress city of
Akká, in Palestine. When I requested to talk with him, I was told to come
early, and called, according, at nine o’clock, for an interview. It was
already mid-day to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who rises at four, and who had seen
eighteen people before his breakfast at half-past six.

Representatives of many languages and nationalities awaited him in the
drawing room.

We sat in a circle facing ‘Abdu’l-Bahá who inquired if there were any
questions we would like to ask. I said my editor had sent me to ascertain
something of his prison life, and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at once related in a simple
impersonal way one of the most remarkable stories conceivable.

“At nine years of age, I accompanied my father, Bahá’u’lláh, in his
journey of exile to Ba_gh_dád, seventy of his disciples going with us.
This decree of exile, after persistent persecution, was intended to
effectively stamp out of Persia what the authorities considered a
dangerous religion. Bahá’u’lláh, with his family and followers, was
banished, and travelled from one place to another. When I was about
twenty-five years old, we were moved from Constantinople to Adrianople,
and from there went with a guard of soldiers to the fortressed city of
Akká, where we were imprisoned and closely guarded.”



The First Summer


“We had no communication whatever with the out-side world. Each loaf of
bread was cut open by the guard to see that it contained no message. All
who believed in the Bahá’í manifestation, children, men and women, were
imprisoned with us. There were one-hundred and fifty of us together in two
rooms and no one was allowed to leave the place with the exceptions of
four persons, who went to the bazaar to market each morning, under guard.
The first summer was dreadful. Akká is a fever-ridden town. It was said
that a bird attempting to fly over it would drop dead. The food was poor
and insufficient, the water was drawn from a fever-infected well and the
climate and conditions were such, that even the natives of the town fell
ill. Many soldiers succumbed and eight out of ten of our guard died.
During the intense heat, malaria, typhoid and dysentery attacked the
prisoners, so that all, men, women and children, were sick at one time.
There were no doctors, no medicines, no proper food, and no treatment of
any kind.

“I used to make broth for the people, and as I had much practice, I make
good broth,” said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá laughingly.

At this point one of the Persians explained to me that it was on account
of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s wonderful patience, helpfulness, and endurance that he
was always called “The Master.” One could easily feel his mastership in
his complete severance from time and place, and absolute detachment from
all that even a Turkish prison could inflict.



Better Conditions


“After two years of the strictest confinement permission was granted me to
find a house so that we could live outside the prison walls but still
within the fortifications. Many believers came from Persia to join us but
they were not allowed to do so. Nine years passed. Sometimes we were
better off and sometimes very much worse. It depended on the governor,
who, if he happened to be a kind and lenient ruler, would grant us
permission to leave the fortification, and would allow the believers free
access to visit the house; but when the governor was more rigorous, extra
guards were placed around us, and often pilgrims who had come from afar
were turned away.”

I learned, afterwards, from a Persian, who, during these troublous times,
was a member of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s household, that the Turkish government
could not credit the fact that the interest of the English and American
visitors was purely spiritual and not political. Often these pilgrims were
refused permission to see him, and, many times, the whole trip from
America would be rewarded merely by a glimpse of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá from his
prison window.

The Government thought that the tomb of the Báb, an imposing building on
Mount Carmel, was a fortification erected with the aid of American money,
and that it was being armed and garrisoned secretly. Suspicion grew with
each new arrival, resulting in extra spies and guards.



‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd’s Committee


“One year before ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd was dethroned, he sent an extremely
overbearing, treacherous and insulting committee of investigation. The
chairman was one of the governor’s staff, Árif Bey, and with him were
three army commanders varying in rank.

“Immediately upon his arrival, Árif Bey proceeded to denounce me and tried
to get proof strong enough to warrant sending me to Fizán, or throwing me
into the sea. Fizán is a caravan station on the boundary of Tripoli where
there are no houses and no water. It is a month’s journey by camel route
from Akká.

“The committee twice sent for me to hear what I had to say in my own
defence and twice I sent back word: ‘I know your purpose, I have nothing
to say.’

“This so infuriated Árif Bey that he declared he would return to
Constantinople and bring back an order from the Sulṭán to have me hanged
at the gate of Akká. He and his committee set sail with their report
containing the following accusations:—‘Abdu’l-Bahá is establishing a new
nation of which he is to be the king; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is uplifting the banner
of a new religion; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has built or caused to be built
fortifications in Haifa, a neighbouring village, and is buying up all the
surrounding lands.’

“About this time an Italian ship appeared in the harbour sent by order of
the Italian Consul. It had been planned that I was to escape on it by
night. The Bahá’ís in Akká implored me to go but I sent this message to
the captain: ‘The Báb did not run away: Bahá’u’lláh did not run away; I
shall not run away, so the ship sailed away after waiting three days and
three nights.

“It was while the Sulṭán’s committee of investigation was homeward bound
that the first shell was dropped into ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd’s camp and the first
gun of freedom was fired into the home of despotism. That was God’s gun,”
said ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, with one of his wonderful smiles.

“When the committee reached the Turkish capital, they had more urgent
things to think of. The city was in a state of uproar and rebellion, and
the committee, as members of the government staff, were delegated to
investigate the insurrection. Meanwhile the people were establishing a
constitutional government and ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd was given no chance to act.”



The Release


“With the advent of the Young Turks’ supremacy, realized through the
Society of Union and Progress, all the political prisoners of the Ottoman
Empire were set free. Events took the chains from my neck and placed them
about Hamíd’s; ‘Abdu’l-Bahá came out of prison and ‘Abdu’l-Ḥamíd went in!”

“What became of the committee?” asked someone, breaking the deep silence
that followed the recital of this thrilling page of history. “Árif Bey,”
continued ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, “was shot with three bullets, the general was
exiled, the next in rank died, and the third ran away to Cairo, where he
sought and received help from the Bahá’ís.”

“Will you tell us how you felt while in prison and how you regard your
freedom?” I asked. “We are glad that you are free.”

“Thank you,” he said graciously, and continuing—

“Freedom is not a matter of place. It is a condition. I was thankful for
the prison, and the lack of liberty was very pleasing to me, for those
days were passed in the path of service, under the utmost difficulties and
trials, bearing fruits and results.

“Unless one accepts dire vicissitudes, he will not attain. To me prison is
freedom, troubles rest me, death is life, and to be despised is honour.
Therefore, I was happy all that time in prison. When one is released from
the prison of self, that is indeed release, for that is the greater
prison. When this release takes place, then one cannot be outwardly
imprisoned. When they put my feet in stocks, I would say to the guard,
‘You cannot imprison me, for here I have light and air and bread and
water. There will come a time when my body will be in the ground, and I
shall have neither light nor air nor food nor water, but even then I shall
not be imprisoned.’ The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend
to centre the consciousness upon the limitations, and this is a veritable
prison. Release comes by making of the will a Door through which the
confirmations of the Spirit come.”

This sounded so like the old theology that the modern in me rose doubting
if the discipline could be compensated for by the effort. “What do you
mean by the confirmations of the Spirit?”

“The confirmations of the Spirit are all those powers and gifts which some
are born with (and which men sometimes call genius), but for which others
have to strive with infinite pains. They come to that man or woman who
accepts his life with radiant acquiescence.”

Radiant acquiescence—that was the quality with which we all suddenly
seemed inspired as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá bade us good-bye.

It was a remarkable experience, hearing one who had passed along the
prison path for forty years declare “There is no prison but the prison
self;” and it drove conviction to one’s mind as this white-robed messenger
from the East pointed the way out,—not by the path called “Renunciation,”
but “Unattachment;” Radiant Acquiescence—the Shining Pathway out of the
“greater prison of self” as ‘Abdu’l-Bahá so beautifully terms those bars
that keep us from our fulfillment.

Isabel Fraser.



A LOVING FAREWELL GREETING.


After leaving London and during his two months stay in Paris, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
frequently sent back messages to his English friends, some of whom
journeyed over to take advantage of the conferences there. On the eve of
his departure for Alexandria, he gave the following admonitory farewell to
the people of England and France.

“Work,” he said unceasingly, “for the day of Universal Peace. Strive
always that you may be united. Kindness and love in the path of service
must be your means.

“I bid a loving farewell to the people of France and England. I am very
much pleased with them. I counsel them that they may day by day strengthen
the bond of love and amity to this end,—that they may become the
sympathetic embodiment of one nation.—That they may extend themselves to a
Universal Brotherhood to guard and protect the interests and rights of all
the nations of the East,—that they may unfurl the Divine Banner of
justice,—that they may treat each nation as a family composed of the
individual children of God and may know that before the sight of God the
rights of all are equal. For all of us are the children of one Father. God
is at peace with all his children; why should they engage in strife and
warfare among themselves? God is showering down kindness; why should the
inhabitants of this world exchange unkindness and cruelty?”

“I will pray for you that you may be illumined with the Light of the
Eternal.”



GREETINGS BY ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ FROM PARIS TO LONDON.


                              October 1911.


Spoken to Mrs. Enthoven for conveyance to all the friends, and now written
from memory.

‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent his greetings to all, begging all to go on acquiring
strength in their belief and courage in its proclamation.

He spoke much of the pleasure he had felt in the atmosphere of England. He
said there was a strength of purpose in the English people and a firmness
which he liked and admired, There was honesty and uprightness. They were
slow in starting a new idea, but, when they did, it was only because their
minds and common-sense had told them that the idea was sound.

The English as a nation had pleased him greatly.

Believers, he added, must show their belief in their daily lives, so that
the world might see the light shining in their faces. A bright and happy
face cheers people on their way. If you are sad, and pass a child who is
laughing, the child, seeing your sad face, will cease to laugh, not
knowing why. If the day be dark, how much a gleam of sunshine is prized;
so let believers wear smiling happy faces, gleaming like sunshine in the
darkness. Let the Light of Truth and Honesty shine from them, so that all
who behold them may know that their word in business or pleasure will be a
word to trust and depend upon.

Forget self and work for the whole race. Remember always that one is
working for the world, not for a town or even for a country; because, as
all are brethren, so every country is, as it were, one’s own.

Remember, above all, the teaching of Bahá’u’lláh concerning gossip and
unseemly talk about others. Stories repeated about others are seldom good.
A silent tongue is the safest. Even good may be harmful, if spoken at the
wrong time, or to the wrong person.

Finally ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sent his greetings and blessings to all, and assured
me he was constantly thinking and praying for all.

To a gentleman who was questioning him, he remarked “The beginnings of all
great religions were pure; but priests, taking possession of the minds of
the people, filled them with dogmas and superstitions, so that religion
became gradually corrupt. I come to teach no new religion. ‘My only desire
is, through the blessing of God, to show the road to the Great Light.”
Touching the gentleman gently on his shoulder, as a loving father might
touch a son, he went on to say, “I am no Prophet, only a man like
yourself.”



MESSAGE TO THE LONDON BAHÁ’ÍS FOR THE DAY OF ‘ABDU’L-BAHÁ. SPECIALLY GIVEN
TO MRS. ENTHOVEN.


                           November 26th, 1911.


GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The doors of the Kingdom of God are open!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

Armies of Angels are descending from Heaven!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The Sun of Truth is rising!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

Heavenly food is being sent from above!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The Trumpet is sounding!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The Banner of the Great Peace is floating far and wide!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The Light of the Lamp of the Oneness of Humanity is shining bright!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The fire of the Love of God is blazing!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

The Holy Spirit is being outpoured!

GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!

For Everlasting Life is here!

O Ye that sleep, Awake!
O ye heedless ones, Learn wisdom!
O Blind, receive your sight!
O Deaf, Hear!
O Dumb, Speak!
O Dead, Arise!

Be Happy!
Be Happy!
Be full of Joy!

This is the day of the Proclamation of the Báb!

It is the Festival of the Forerunner of the Blessed Beauty (Bahá’u’lláh).

It is the day of the dawning of the Morning of Guidance.



FOOTNOTES


    1 Compare:—“My Name is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. My Reality is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá: and
      Service to all the human race is my perpetual Religion....
      ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the Banner of the Most Great Peace ...The Herald of
      the Kingdom is he, so that he may awaken the people of the East and
      the West. The Voice of Friendship, of Truth, and of Reconciliation
      is he, quickening all regions. No name, no title will he ever have,
      except ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This is my longing. This is my Supreme height.
      O ye friends of God! ‘Abdu’l-Bahá is the manifestation of Service,
      and not Christ. The Servant of humanity is he, and not a chief.
      Summon ye the people to the station of Service of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and
      not his Christhood.” (From a letter sent to the friends in New York,
      January 1st, 1907.)





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