Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thoughts on Family

I am sure that Abdu'l-Baha thought of his family countless times, while he was traveling across the United States. He certainly thought about his family on April 29, 1912. That was the 9th day of the 12 day long Ridvan festival.

Abdu'l-Baha would have remembered what happened on the 9th day of that first Ridvan. That was the day when Abdu'l-Baha and the rest of his family joined his father, a man who had been living in a garden. The family moved out of their house, in order to prepare for their trip. The family set out on their trip on the 12th day of Ridvan.

The first, 9th and 12th days of Ridvan are now celebrated by Baha'is throughout the world.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thoughts Stirred by a Traveler

On April 27, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha was traveling to his next destination. I will have more information on his mode of travel in my blog for May 9, 2009, Today, I thought I would post some comments that Abdu'l-Baha made while he was in Washington D.C. Those people who heard the following statement probably continued to consider its meaning on April 27, 1912.

Here is the statement that they heard on April 25, 1912:

"In the world of existence the greatest bestowals of God are His teachings. The other bounties of God are limited as regards their benefits and provision. Human existence itself is a divine bestowal, but it is circumscribed with limitations. Sight and hearing are bounties of God; both are limited. And so it is with all the other bestowals; the circle of their operation is confined, restricted, whereas the sphere of the divine teachings is boundless. Centuries and ages pass away, but their efficacy continues like the spirit of life which animates the world of existence. Without the teachings of God the world of humanity is like the animal kingdom. What difference is there between the animal and man? The difference is this: that the animal is not capable of apprehending the divine teachings, whereas man is worthy of them and possesses the capacity to understand. In the animal kingdom there is no such bestowal; therefore, there is limited progression. At most, evolution in that kingdom is a development of the organism. In the beginning it is small, undeveloped; it develops, becomes larger; but its sphere of intellectual growth is limited. Therefore, the teachings of God are the bestowals specialized for man. "

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thoughts on Unity

Yesterday, one group of world leaders walked out in the middle of a conference, because they could not see the speaker's comments as being a beacon for better world unity. On April 21, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha made a statement about unity. He was speaking at the Universalist Church in Washington D.C. Here is what he said:

"The doctrines and creed of this church, so capably expressed by its revered minister, are truly commendable, sanctified and worthy of praise and glorification, for these precepts are opposed to the deep-rooted religious prejudices of the day. It is evident that prejudices arising from adherence to religious forms and imitation of ancestral beliefs have hindered the progress of humanity thousands of years. How many wars and battles have been fought, how much division, discord and hatred have been caused by this form of prejudice! But inasmuch as this century is a century of the revelation of reality—praise be to God!—the thoughts of men are being directed toward the welfare and unity of humanity. Daily the mirage of imitations is passing away, and the ocean of truth is surging more tumultuously. All the existing nations had a divine foundation of truth or reality originally, which was intended to be conducive to the unity and accord of mankind, but the light of that reality gradually became obscured. The darkness of superstitions and imitations came and took its place, binding the world of humanity in the chains and fetters of ignorance. Enmity arose among men, increasing to such an extent that nation strove against nation in hatred and violence. War has been a religious and political human heritage.
Now it is enough! We must investigate reality. We must put away these superstitions. It is a self-evident truth that all humanity is the creation of God. All are His servants and under His protection. All are recipients of His bestowals. God is kind to all His servants. At most it is this: that some are ignorant; they must be educated in order that they may become intelligent. Some are immature as children; they must be aided and assisted in order that they may become mature. Some are sick and ailing; they must be healed. But the suffering patient must not be tested by false treatment. The child must not be warped and hindered in its development. The ignorant must not be restricted by censure and criticism. We must look for the real, true remedy. "

The above statement was included i the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thoughts on Ridvan

In yesterday's blog entry, I mentioned the Ridvan Festival. Today I am going to post statements about that Festival, statements made by Abdu'l-Baha.

"Thou seest, O my Lord, the assemblage of Thy loved ones, the company of Thy friends, gathered by the precincts of Thine all-sufficing Shrine, and in the neighborhood of Thine exalted garden, on a day among the days of Thy Ridvan Feast -- that blessed time when Thou didst dawn upon the world, shedding thereon the lights of Thy holiness, spreading abroad the bright rays of Thy oneness, and didst issue forth from Baghdad, with a majesty and might that encompassed all mankind; with a glory that made all to fall prostrate before Thee, all heads to bow, every neck to bend low, and the gaze of every man to be cast down. " (Abdu'l-Baha, Memorials of the Faithful, p. 175)

During the first Ridvan, Abdu'l-Baha was a small boy. He was with his family in Bagdad (a city that was part of Persia in 1863). After leaving that garden, Abdu'l-Baha accompanied his father, Baha'u'llah, and the other members of his family. They were banished to Constantinople, then Adrianople and then to the prison city of Akka.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Joyous Thoughts

On the night of April 19, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha must have had joyous thoughts. He was only 24 hours away from the start of Ridvan, an important Baha'i festival. Readers of this blog can gain an apprciation for the sincerity with which Abdu'l-Baha would say, "Happy Ridvan." Readers of this blog can meditate on the joyous statements found at this link:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thoughts for the Season

On April 17, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha again spoke at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Kinney. He used the changes taking place outside to illustrate the point that he wanted to make. Here are two paragraphs from his talk:

"The world has become a new world. The darkness of night which has enveloped humanity is passing. A new day has dawned. Divine susceptibilities and heavenly capacities are developing in human souls under the training of the Sun of Truth. The capacities of souls are different. Their conditions are various. For example, certain minerals come from the stony regions of the earth. All are minerals, all are produced by the same sun, but one remains a stone while another develops the capacity of a glittering gem or jewel. From one plot of land tulips and hyacinths grow; from another, thorns and thistles. Each plot receives the bounty of the sunshine, but the capacity to receive it is not the same. Therefore, it is requisite that we must develop capacity and divine susceptibility in order that the merciful bounty of the Sun of Truth intended for this 24 age and time in which we are living may reflect from us as light from pure crystals.
The bounties of the Blessed Perfection are infinite. We must endeavor to increase our capacity daily, to strengthen and enlarge our capabilities for receiving them, to become as perfect mirrors. The more polished and clean the mirror, the more effulgent is its reflection of the lights of the Sun of Truth. Be like a well-cultivated garden wherein the roses and variegated flowers of heaven are growing in fragrance and beauty. It is my hope that your hearts may become as ready ground, carefully tilled and prepared, upon which the divine showers of the bounties of the Blessed Perfection may descend and the zephyrs of this divine springtime may blow with quickening breath. Then will the garden of your hearts bring forth its flowers of delightful fragrance to refresh the nostril of the heavenly Gardener. Let your hearts reflect the glories of the Sun of Truth in their many colors to gladden the eye of the divine Cultivator Who has nourished them. Day by day become more closely attracted in order that the love of God may illumine all those with whom you come in contact. Be as one spirit, one soul, leaves of one tree, flowers of one garden, waves of one ocean. "

The above paragraphs can be found in the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thoughts Shared with Guests

On April 16, 1912, a group of Baha'is from New Jersey journeyed to New York City. There they listened to a talk, one that was presented by Abdu'l-Baha. Here is one paragraph from that talk:

"The body of the human world is sick. Its remedy and healing will be the oneness of the kingdom of humanity. Its life is the Most Great Peace. Its illumination and quickening is love. Its happiness is the attainment of spiritual perfections. It is my wish and hope that in the bounties and favors of the Blessed Perfection we may find a new life, acquire a new power and attain to a wonderful and supreme source of energy so that the Most Great Peace of divine intention shall be established upon the foundations of the unity of the world of men with God. May the love of God be spread from this city, from this meeting to all the surrounding countries. Nay, may America become the distributing center of spiritual enlightenment, and all the world receive this heavenly blessing! For America has developed powers and capacities greater and more wonderful than other nations. While it is true that its people have 20 attained a marvelous material civilization, I hope that spiritual forces may animate this great body and a corresponding spiritual civilization be established. May the inhabitants of this country become like angels of heaven with faces turned continually toward God. May all of them become the servants of the Omnipotent One. May they rise from present material attainments to such a height that heavenly illumination may stream from this center to all the peoples of the world. "

The above paragraph can be found in the book The Promulgation of Universal Peace.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thoughts to Comtemplate

Today we are a week away from Earth Day. One paragraph from a talk that Abdu'l-Baha gave on April 15, 1912 offers some thoughts that readers might want to contemplate during the coming week.

Here is that one paragraph:

"The phenomenal world is entirely subject to the rule and control of natural law. These myriad suns, satellites and heavenly bodies throughout endless space are all captives of nature. They cannot transgress in a single point or particular the fixed laws which govern the physical universe. The sun in its immensity, the ocean in its vastness are incapable of violating these universal laws. All phenomenal beings—the plants in their kingdom, even the animals with their intelligence—are nature’s subjects and captives. All live within the bounds of natural law, and nature is the ruler of all except man. Man is not the captive of nature, for although according to natural law he is a being of the earth, yet he guides ships over the ocean, flies through the air in airplanes, descends in submarines; therefore, he has overcome natural law and made it subservient to his wishes. For instance, he imprisons in an incandescent lamp the illimitable natural energy called electricity—a material force which can cleave mountains—and bids it give him light. He takes the human voice and confines it in the phonograph for his benefit and amusement. According to his natural power man should be able to communicate a limited distance, but by overcoming the restrictions of nature he can annihilate space and send telephone messages thousands of miles. All the sciences, arts and discoveries were mysteries of nature, and according to natural law these mysteries should remain latent, hidden; but man has proceeded to break this law, free himself from this rule and bring them forth into the realm of the visible. Therefore, he is the ruler and commander of nature. Man has intelligence; nature has not. Man has volition; nature has none. Man has memory; nature is without it. Man has the reasoning faculty; nature is deprived. Man has the perceptive faculty; nature cannot perceive. It is therefore proved and evident that man is nobler than nature.
If we accept the supposition that man is but a part of nature"

The above paragraph can be found in The Promulgation for Universal Peace.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Thoughts that Are not Time Sensitive

Today, April 14, 2009, the world faces some of the same challenges that faced society back in April of 1912. Abdu'l-Baha anticipated man's need for guidance in the 21st Century. He provided modern day man with that guidance. That guidance can be found in a portion of the talk that Abdu'l-Baha gave on April 14, 1912.

Here are a few paragraphs from that talk:

"Today the world of humanity is in need of international unity 12 and conciliation. To establish these great fundamental principles a propelling power is needed. It is self-evident that the unity of the human world and the Most Great Peace cannot be accomplished through material means. They cannot be established through political power, for the political interests of nations are various and the policies of peoples are divergent and conflicting. They cannot be founded through racial or patriotic power, for these are human powers, selfish and weak. The very nature of racial differences and patriotic prejudices prevents the realization of this unity and agreement. Therefore, it is evidenced that the promotion of the oneness of the kingdom of humanity, which is the essence of the teachings of all the Manifestations of God, is impossible except through the divine power and breaths of the Holy Spirit. Other powers are too weak and are incapable of accomplishing this.
For man two wings are necessary. One wing is physical power and material civilization; the other is spiritual power and divine civilization. With one wing only, flight is impossible. Two wings are essential. Therefore, no matter how much material civilization advances, it cannot attain to perfection except through the uplift of spiritual civilization.
All the Prophets have come to promote divine bestowals, to found the spiritual civilization and teach the principles of morality. Therefore, we must strive with all our powers so that spiritual influences may gain the victory. For material forces have attacked mankind. The world of humanity is submerged in a sea of materialism. The rays of the Sun of Reality are seen but dimly and darkly through opaque glasses. The penetrative power of the divine bounty is not fully manifest. "

The above passage is taken from The Promulgation for Universal Peace.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thoughts for Easter Monday

On April 13, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha presented a talk at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Morten. That couple lived at 141 East Twenty first Street in New York City. Two of the paragraphs from that talk seem appropriate for inclusion in a blog that will be posted on the day after Easter. Here are those two paragraphs:

The spiritual world is like unto the phenomenal world. They are the exact counterpart of each other. Whatever objects appear in this world of existence are the outer pictures of the world of heaven. When we look upon the phenomenal world, we perceive that it is divided into four seasons; one is the season of spring, another the season of summer, another autumn and then these three seasons are followed by winter. When the season of spring appears in the arena of existence, the whole world is rejuvenated and finds new life. The soul-refreshing breeze is wafted from every direction; the soul-quickening bounty is everywhere; the cloud of mercy showers down its rain, and the sun shines upon everything. Day by day we perceive that the signs of vegetation are all about us. Wonderful flowers, hyacinths and roses perfume the nostrils. The trees are full of leaves and blossoms, and the blossoms are followed by fruit. The spring and summer are followed by autumn and winter. The flowers wither and are no more; the leaves turn gray and life has gone. Then comes another springtime; the former springtime is renewed; again a new life stirs within everything. "

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Thoughts for Easter Sunday

When Abdu'l-Baha spoke to Americans, he often mentioned Jesus Christ, since Abdu'l-Baha knew that many of the people in his audience were membars of a Chtristian Church. Read a passage that Abdu'l-Baha shared at the end of one talk, a talk that he gave on April 12, 1912:

"let your faces be more radiant with hope and heavenly determination to serve the Cause of God, to spread the pure fragrances of the divine rose garden of unity, to awaken spiritual susceptibilities in the hearts of mankind, to kindle anew the spirit of humanity with divine fires and to reflect the glory of heaven to this gloomy world of materialism. When you possess these divine susceptibilities, you will be able to awaken and develop them in others. We cannot give of our wealth to the poor unless we possess it. How can the poor give to the poor? How can the soul that is deprived of the heavenly bounties develop in other souls capacity to receive those bounties?
Array yourselves in the perfection of divine virtues. I hope you may be quickened and vivified by the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Then shall ye indeed become the angels of heaven whom Christ promised would appear in this Day to gather the harvest of divine planting. This is my hope. This is my prayer for you. "

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thoughts upon Arrival

On April 11, 1912, Abdu'l-Baha spoke these words to a small crowd at the home of the Kinney's:

"How are you? Welcome! Welcome!
After arriving today, although weary with travel, I had the utmost longing and yearning to see you and could not resist this meeting. Now that I have met you, all my weariness has vanished, for your meeting is the cause of spiritual happiness.
I was in Egypt and was not feeling well, but I wished to come to you in America. My friends said, “This is a long journey; the sea is wide; you should remain here.” But the more they advised and insisted, the greater became my longing to take this trip, and now I have come to America to meet the friends of God. This long voyage will prove how great is my love for you. There were many troubles and vicissitudes, but, in the thought of meeting you, all these things vanished and were forgotten.
I am greatly pleased with the city of New York. Its harbor entrance, its piers, buildings and broad avenues are magnificent and beautiful. Truly, it is a wonderful city. As New York has made such progress in material civilization, I hope that it may also advance spiritually in the Kingdom and Covenant of God so that the friends here may become the cause of the illumination of America, that this city may become the city of love and that the fragrances of God may be spread from this place to all parts of the world. I have come for this. I pray that you may be manifestations of the love of Bahá’u’lláh, that each one of you may become like a clear lamp of crystal from which the rays of the bounties of the Blessed Perfection may shine forth to all nations and peoples. This is my highest aspiration.
It was a long, long trip. The more we traveled, the greater seemed the expanse of the sea. The weather was brilliant and fine throughout; there was no storm and no end to the sea.
I am very happy to meet you all here today. Praise be to God that your faces are shining with the love of Bahá’u’lláh. To behold them is the cause of great spiritual happiness. We have arranged to meet you every day at the homes of the friends.
In the East people were asking me, “Why do you undertake this 4 long voyage? Your body cannot endure such hardships of travel.” When it is necessary, my body can endure everything. It has withstood forty years of imprisonment and can still undergo the utmost trials.
I will see you again. Now I will greet each one of you personally. It is my hope that you will all be happy and that we may meet again and again. "

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thoughts on Anticipation

On April 10, 1912, Mr and Mrs. Edward Kinney were quite busy. They needed to prepare their home for a special guest. Abdu'l-Baha would be arriving the following day, and he would be presenting a talk at their home.

Tomorrow, I will post the talk given by Abdu'l-Baha on April 11, 1912. Then the readers of this blog will get a glimpse of his thoughts, as he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, and as he anticpated his journey through the United States.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Thoughts on Justice

Yesterday I received an email from a campaigner for social justice. His comments brought home the power of the words of Abdu'l-Baha. He has put on his website,, a quote from the Baha'i book The Promise of World Peace.

Here is the quote that he is using:

"A candid acknowledgement that prejudice, war and exploitation have been the expression of immature stages in a vast historical process and that the human race is today experiencing the unavoidable tumult which marks its collective coming of age is not a reason for despair but a prerequisite to undertaking the stupendous enterprise of building a peaceful world. That such an enterprise is possible, that the necessary constructive forces do exist, that unifying social structures can be erected, is the theme we urge you to examine."

I will be writing blog articles for that website. You can read my thoughts on justice by visiting that website.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Diverging Thoughts

Today I want to post two different personal observations. One relates to an article that recently appeared on the Internet. It was an article about the "World's Ten Most Religious Cities." Haifa was one of the those cities. Haifa did not exist when Abdu'l-Baha purchased the land on a Palestinian hill. Today, that beautiful city is on the "must see" lists of many of the tourists in Israel.

Today marks 13 days since the arrival of spring. According to Persian culture, families should leave the house on that day, to avoid any bad luck that might take place at the home. Persian families like to picnic on the 13th day after the arrival of spring. In 1912, Abdu'l-Baha could not think about enjoying a picnic. He was on a boat, headed for the United States.