Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Hidden Love

The most difficult part about writing a blog like this is the time. Amidst all the stuff that has to be done, and all the things I want to do, and all the things I hope to do, it has become a challenge to write as often as I would prefer. But today is a rainy, gloomy day and even though we received a notice telling us to cut the grass, I don't think that's feasible today. Besides, it's one of the shorter lawns on the block, so I'm not sure why we received this silly notice, but that's neither here nor there. I'll cut it as soon as it's dry enough.

The next most difficult thing is to figure out what, amongst all the incredible gems contained within the Writings, to write about.

When nothing in particular leaps out at me, that's when I grab a random book off the shelf and turn to a fairly random passage.

Today I have returned to the Kitab-i-Aqdas, that Most Holy Book, that "Charter of the future world civilization", and began to read. I have already written about the first five paragraphs a number of times (twice) (two is a number), and how they can be given to anyone and they will apply it for themselves, in their own faith context. (I still think it's really cool how Baha'u'llah doesn't mention Himself in those paragraphs, and we just infer it. It gives people the freedom to infer the Messenger that they follow.)

Aside - Sorry about this, but I'll be right back. I just realized that I'm quite hungry. I think I'll go make myself a sandwich. (Peanut butter, blended with pumpkin seed butter and maple syrup. Mmmm.) (And I also added some cinnamon and carob powder.) (I hate it when people try to pretend carob powder is a substitute for cocoa. It isn't. But it's great as it is.)

Ok. I'm back. Sandwich and all.

Where was I? Oh yes, the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

After those opening paragraphs in which He defines our duty, He then goes on to the next most important thing: prayer. Paragraphs 6 through 14 are all, basically, about prayer. (Fasting, too, but it's referred to as "prayer and fasting".)

Oh, and paragraph 7, which may not seem quite related, appears, to my limited vision, as a reminder that our goals and desires are not the highest and most desirable things. A child may desire to eat candy all the time, but it is up to the parent to say "no". When we pray for something, and the answer comes back as a "no", that's ok. This paragraph is also a reminder to me (my own opinion, remember) that our job is to follow these laws that we have accepted in our life. We may not always feel like saying our Obligatory Prayer, but we should still do it, for we recognize Baha'u'llah's authority as followers of His Faith. (If you are not a member of the Baha'i community, that's ok. You are not bound by these laws, but can still follow them if you wish.)

Paragraphs 16 through 18 are also about prayer and fasting.

But what about paragraph 15? I'm so glad you asked, dear Reader, because this one stumps me. (Fortunately they have a long note in the back about it, so I can use that to help guide my thoughts about this one.)

Here it is:
Say: God hath made My hidden love the key to the Treasure; would that ye might perceive it! But for the key, the Treasure would to all eternity have remained concealed; would that ye might believe it! Say: This is the Source of Revelation, the Dawning-place of Splendour, Whose brightness hath illumined the horizons of the world. Would that ye might understand! This is, verily, that fixed Decree through which every irrevocable decree hath been established.
For myself, I am going to try and remember that this is in the midst of all those paragraphs about prayer and fasting. What that has to do with anything, I have no idea. I only hope that it'll make a bit more sense as I think about it.

To start, as it says in the notes, there is that old tradition, "I was a Hidden Treasure. I wished to be made known, and thus I called creation into being in order that I might be known."

From there, this calls to mind that prayer that begins:
Lauded be Thy name, O Lord my God! I testify that Thou wast a hidden Treasure wrapped within Thine immemorial Being and an impenetrable Mystery enshrined in Thine own Essence. Wishing to reveal Thyself, Thou didst call into being the Greater and the Lesser Worlds, and didst choose Man above all Thy creatures, and didst make Him a sign of both of these worlds, O Thou Who art our Lord, the Most Compassionate!
Thou didst raise Him up to occupy Thy throne before all the people of Thy creation. Thou didst enable Him to unravel Thy mysteries, and to shine with the lights of Thine inspiration and Thy Revelation, and to manifest Thy names and Thine attributes. Through Him Thou didst adorn the preamble of the book of Thy creation, O Thou Who art the Ruler of the universe Thou hast fashioned!
This obviously seems to be referring to the Manifestation, what with the capitalization and the unraveling of the mysteries and stuff.

But here, God is that hidden Treasure, and He created lots of stuff in order to reveal Himself, presumably through the Manifestations, as that is the only way we can really know anything about God.

This also ties in nicely with that Hidden Word, "O Son of Man! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee.
Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life." It gives us an intimation of the purpose of creation, as well as an idea of the purpose of our own life.

The Universal House of Justice also cites a passage from 'Abdu'l-Baha in the notes:
O wayfarer in the path of the Beloved! Know thou that the main purpose of this holy tradition is to make mention of the stages of God's concealment and manifestation within the Embodiments of Truth, They who are the Dawning-places of His All-Glorious Being. For example, before the flame of the undying Fire is lit and manifest, it existeth by itself within itself in the hidden identity of the universal Manifestations, and this is the stage of the "Hidden Treasure". And when the blessed Tree is kindled by itself within itself, and that Divine Fire burneth by its essence within its essence, this is the stage of "I wished to be made known". And when it shineth forth from the Horizon of the universe with infinite Divine Names and Attributes upon the contingent and placeless worlds, this constituteth the emergence of a new and wondrous creation which correspondeth to the stage of "Thus I called creation into being". And when the sanctified souls rend asunder the veils of all earthly attachments and worldly conditions, and hasten to the stage of gazing on the beauty of the Divine Presence and are honoured by recognizing the Manifestation and are able to witness the splendour of God's Most Great Sign in their hearts, then will the purpose of creation, which is the knowledge of Him Who is the Eternal Truth, become manifest.

What, pray tell, does all this have to do with prayer, and how does this paragraph from the Aqdas affect my life? I'm still not sure.

Perhaps it is a reminder of where this Book comes from, and just how important it is to be aware of the spiritual dimension of my own life. After all, prayer is the first thing Baha'u'llah talks about in this "Most Holy Book", so maybe, just maybe, I need to pay more attention to it. And then, perhaps, this attitude of prayer will help me in realizing the purpose of my life, how to live, how to live well, and how to be happy. (Not to mention how to be a source of joy to others.)

Baha'u'llah's hidden love is the key to finding that Treasure, which is God. Without the assistance of the Messengers, we would have no direct way of knowing our Creator, much as a chair can never know the carpenter that made it. But through Baha'u'llah we know that God loves us, and that's why we were created. Now we just have to rise to be worthy of that love, and we can best do that by being loving and compassionate people, striving to follow not only the letter of the Law, but the spirit behind it.

I still don't feel like I have a handle on this paragraph, but I'm not sure what else to write right now. Perhaps I'll leave it be and come back to it later.

How about you? What does this paragraph mean to you?

No comments:

Post a Comment