Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some More Ahd Thoughts

Sorry about the delay in writing these days. I had to get an annual report out for my work at the university. And Shoghi's teachers are on strike, so he's been home with me for the past few days. It just seems that my time for writing is flying out the window. But isn't that always just the case?

And it's the Fast.

Aside: Don't you just hate it when, at the end of the day during the Fast, you say a prayer and take that unbelievably refreshing first sip of water, and then realize that you haven't said your second Medium Obligatory Prayer? You know, the one that you're supposed to say between noon and sunset? So now you realize that you can't complete your Medium prayer for the day. And then you realize that you also can't do the Short one, which is also to be said between noon (true noon, not daylight savings time, but that's another rant altogether) and sunset. Thank God for the Long Obligatory Prayer, which is still my personal favorite.

Anyways. I tried looking at this Tablet a paragraph at a time, but it just wasn't working for me. I want to look at the first part as a whole.

"First part? I thought it was all one piece."

Yes, dear Reader, it is. But let me explain. This Tablet is considered His final Will and Testament. Personally, I think of it as His final Testament and Will. (And this is just my own opinion. Nothing official. Insert usual disclaimer here, if you will.) The first part reads as a testimony, to me. Then, after the part quoted below, He continues "The Will of the divine Testator is this..." So I don't think I'm too far off in my reading of it. Anyways, here's the first part for your reading pleasure:
Although the Realm of Glory hath none of the vanities of the world, yet within the treasury of trust and resignation We have bequeathed to Our heirs an excellent and priceless heritage. Earthly treasures We have not bequeathed, nor have We added such cares as they entail. By God! In earthly riches fear is hidden and peril is concealed. Consider ye and call to mind that which the All-Merciful hath revealed in the Qur'án: 'Woe betide every slanderer and defamer, him that layeth up riches and counteth them.'(Qur'án 104:1-2) Fleeting are the riches of the world; all that perisheth and changeth is not, and hath never been, worthy of attention, except to a recognized measure.
The aim of this Wronged One in sustaining woes and tribulations, in revealing the Holy Verses and in demonstrating proofs hath been naught but to quench the flame of hate and enmity, that the horizon of the hearts of men may be illumined with the light of concord and attain real peace and tranquillity. From the dawning-place of the divine Tablet the day-star of this utterance shineth resplendent, and it behoveth everyone to fix his gaze upon it: We exhort you, O peoples of the world, to observe that which will elevate your station. Hold fast to the fear of God and firmly adhere to what is right. Verily I say, the tongue is for mentioning what is good, defile it not with unseemly talk. God hath forgiven what is past. Henceforward everyone should utter that which is meet and seemly, and should refrain from slander, abuse and whatever causeth sadness in men. Lofty is the station of man! Not long ago this exalted Word streamed forth from the treasury of Our Pen of Glory: Great and blessed is this Day -- the Day in which all that lay latent in man hath been and will be made manifest. Lofty is the station of man, were he to hold fast to righteousness and truth and to remain firm and steadfast in the Cause. In the eyes of the All-Merciful a true man appeareth even as a firmament; its sun and moon are his sight and hearing, and his shining and resplendent character its stars. His is the loftiest station, and his influence educateth the world of being.
Every receptive soul who hath in this Day inhaled the fragrance of His garment and hath, with a pure heart, set his face towards the all-glorious Horizon is reckoned among the people of Baha in the Crimson Book. Grasp ye, in My Name, the chalice of My loving-kindness, drink then your fill in My glorious and wondrous remembrance.
O ye that dwell on earth! The religion of God is for love and unity; make it not the cause of enmity or dissension. In the eyes of men of insight and the beholders of the Most Sublime Vision, whatsoever are the effective means for safeguarding and promoting the happiness and welfare of the children of men have already been revealed by the Pen of Glory. But the foolish ones of the earth, being nurtured in evil passions and desires, have remained heedless of the consummate wisdom of Him Who is, in truth, the All-Wise, while their words and deeds are prompted by idle fancies and vain imaginings.
O ye the loved ones and the trustees of God! Kings are the manifestations of the power, and the daysprings of the might and riches, of God. Pray ye on their behalf. He hath invested them with the rulership of the earth and hath singled out the hearts of men as His Own domain.
Conflict and contention are categorically forbidden in His Book. This is a decree of God in this Most Great Revelation. It is divinely preserved from annulment and is invested by Him with the splendour of His confirmation. Verily He is the All-Knowing, the All-Wise.
It is incumbent upon everyone to aid those daysprings of authority and sources of command who are adorned with the ornament of equity and justice. Blessed are the rulers and the learned among the people of Baha. They are My trustees among My servants and the manifestations of My commandments amidst My people. Upon them rest My glory, My blessings and My grace which have pervaded the world of being. In this connection the utterances revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas are such that from the horizon of their words the light of divine grace shineth luminous and resplendent.
O ye My Branches! A mighty force, a consummate power lieth concealed in the world of being. Fix your gaze upon it and upon its unifying influence, and not upon the differences which appear from it.

There is so much in here that it is difficult to know where to begin.

I already said that He begins by reminding us that He has given us something spiritual, not physical.

After this reminder, which in many ways distinguishes this from most Wills and Testaments, He goes on to tell why He lived his life the way He did. He didn't do it for fame or glory, as may have been obvious by what He suffered, and how he reacted to those sufferings. No. He did what He did in order to get rid of hatred and enmity, and to help us attain real peace and tranquility.

Then He draws our attention to a special passage in this Tablet which, since He feels it is important enough to do at the very end of His life, we should really take note of. He exhorts us to observe that which will elevate our station. (Remember this. It comes up again later.) Then He gives us something of a recipe list:

  • Fear God
  • Hold fast to that which is right
  • Mention what is good
  • Don't slander or abuse or do anything that causes sadness

This caught my attention, for I remember the fear of God being mentioned in the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. "Indeed, there existeth in man a faculty which deterreth him from, and guardeth him against, whatever is unworthy and unseemly, and which is known as his sense of shame. This, however, is confined to but a few; all have not possessed, and do not possess, it. It is incumbent upon the kings and the spiritual leaders of the world to lay fast hold on religion, inasmuch as through it the fear of God is instilled in all else but Him."

Here, once again, we are being reminded of the importance of religion in the cultivation of the fear of God, which, as you may recall, is a very healthy thing. It is not the terror of God, but a mild discomfort. (You can read more on that here.)

In the second, we are reminded to do what is right. How often have we encountered a time in our life where we can benefit ourselves materially, or socially, by doing something that is not quite right? Me? More often than I care to count. It is good to be reminded not to fall for anything like that.

Then He tells us that God has forgiven what is in the past. We should, too. We shouldn't talk about those things in the past that troubled us, or bothered us, or even merely annoyed us. (Wow. I've got a long way to go.) God has forgiven, and we need to learn from that example.

Don't slander or abuse? Well, we all know that backbiting is considered the most-grievous sin, and here He is, at the very end of His life, reminding us, yet again, to stop doing it.

And we are to avoid doing anything that causes sadness to another. Now that's mighty difficult. I'm still not sure how to even begin going about that. Remember, though, that there was a penalty for that in the Bayan, but in the Kitab-i-Aqdas Baha'u'llah absolved us of this penalty. Even though we no longer have to pay a hefty fine for making someone sad, it is still against the law.

"Lofty is the station of man!" What a statement. It is nothing short of a reminder that we were created noble. But just a few lines later He qualifies this. He reminds us that all that lay latent within us has been made manifest, and then says that our station is lofty if, and presumably only if, we are:

  • righteous
  • holding to the truth
  • firm in the Cause
  • steadfast in the Cause

We have to be virtuous. If not, how can we claim to be in that lofty station? We have to hold to the truth, for if not, the foundation of all our virtues is gone. "Truthfulness", He has said, "is the foundation of all human virtues." "Without truthfulness," said 'Abdu'l-Baha, "progress and success in all of the worlds of God are impossible for a soul." Then we have to be firm and steadfast in the Cause. Later, in this very Tablet, we will learn more about just how it is that we are to be firm and steadfast, namely by following 'Abdu'l-Baha.

If we follow all of these, then our station truly will be lofty. In fact, ours will be "the loftiest station".


Yeah, I really do have a long way to go.

More on this in the next article. (The Tablet, not my shortcomings.)

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