Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Tablet of Wisdom, part 1

Just the other day, I saw a facebook post from my friend Kurt. He was looking at the quote, "Let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday." Then he noticed the context of that quote, and it struck him that this particular line is possibly taken out of context on a regular basis.

Well, it's not that we misunderstand it, but just, perhaps, that we don't look deep enough into it.

As you can imagine, dear Reader, this got me thinking.

Aside - While this particular quote is found in the Tablet of Wisdom, in Tablets of Baha'u'llah, it did make me wonder about the word "glean", as in "Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah". To glean is to gather slowly and laboriously bit by bit, as in gleaning the fields after the reapers. It also mean to discover or learn slowly, bit by bit. I had long thought it meant something like "glistening", which is actually "gleaming". The reason I had thought this, aside from sheer ignorance, is that I often think of those passages in Gleanings as being tiny gems found within the long context of the Tablets Baha'u'llah wrote. My mistake, but still a useful analogy.

Back to this quote at hand, though. What, I wondered, is the full context of that particular line?

My friend looked at the next line in the Tablet, and it shifted his thinking about it, which in turn shifted mine.

I was going to write an article on just that singular line, and try to place it within some sort of a grander context, but then I got thinking. Dangerous, I know, but I did. I thought that it might be interesting to look at the whole Tablet.

As you know, I am of the belief that everything within the Sacred Writings is precisely where it needs to be, and that every word, phrase and sentence conveys a far greater meaning within the whole. And so, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at this remarkable Tablet in its entirety.

Now, as you know, I am no expert on this. I am merely an individual Baha'i who loves to dive into this vast ocean that is His Writings. If you have any thoughts or insights on these same passages, I would very much love to read your thoughts. (Disclaimer and request done for now.)

This particular Tablet was revealed for Nabil-i-Akbar, an incredible early believer who was elevated to the station of Hand of the Cause posthumously by 'Abdu'l-Baha. A little bit about him can be found here, as well as in Memorials of the Faithful, and The Revelation Baha'u'llah volume 1.

The Tablet begins:

This is an Epistle which the All-Merciful hath sent down from the Kingdom of Utterance. It is truly a breath of life unto those who dwell in the realm of creation. Glorified be the Lord of all worlds! In this Epistle mention is made of him who magnifieth the Name of God, his Lord, and who is named Nabil in a weighty Tablet.

Now, it may just be me, but it seems to me that by calling this Epistle a "breath of life" for all of us "who dwell in the realm of creation", He is giving us the overall vision of this particular Tablet. Much of what follows is as a breath of fresh air. This is the perspective that I will take for this Tablet. I will be presuming that everything within this is meant to be like that refreshing cool breeze on a hot summer day. Given that, let's look at the second paragraph.

O Muhammad! Hearken unto the Voice proceeding out of the Realm of Glory, calling aloud from the celestial Tree which hath risen above the land of Za'faran: Verily, no God is there but Me, the Omniscient, the Wise. Be thou as the breezes of the All-Merciful for the trees of the realm of existence and foster their growth through the potency of the Name of thy Lord, the Just, the All-Informed. We desire to acquaint thee with that which will serve as a reminder unto the people, that they may put away the things current amongst them and set their faces towards God, the Lord of the sincere.

While I am not going to go into any historio-linguistic analysis of this piece, I will let you know, dear Reader, that Baha'u'llah does not appear to be referring to Muhammad, the Prophet of God, here. Nabil-i-Akbar's given name was Muhammad, and both of these names have the same numerical value in the Abjad system. (Look it up if you don't know.) But it is possible, in some obscure way that He is referring to both. Just don't ask me to make a case for it.

I will, however, mention that this is the second time in this tablet that He is referring to wind, in some way. This Tablet is a "breath of life", as stated in paragraph 1, and now we are being told to be like a breeze "of the All-Merciful for the trees of the realm of existence and foster their growth..." The wind, interestingly enough, is what causes the roots of a tree to become strong. It is through the battering of the wind that the roots naturally learn to cling more tightly to the earth, digging deeper and becoming stronger. There is the story of the trees that were planted in a biome, given all that they needed, but there was no wind. one day, for no apparent reason, they all fell over. It took the wisdom of an elder to point out that the lack of wind gave the roots no reason to be strong. Perhaps that is why the attribute of "potency" is used in this context.

Then, in the last sentence, Baha'u'llah states more clearly His intention. He desires to acquaint us with those things that will serve as a reminder to all people to "put away the things current amongst them and set their faces towards God, the Lord of the sincere."

Sincerity, by the way, is often found at the very beginning of so much in the Writings. You can see it in the very beginning of the Tablet of Ahmad, and in so many other areas in which the search for Truth is the goal.

I could write more today, but I think this is a good beginning. The next few paragraphs talk about the state of the world, and give some good bite-sized pieces of guidance about what to do to better the place in which we live.

Besides, I have to go conduct a meditation workshop now.

Talk you all tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed your post and your comments on wind & breeze. My reaction:

    Breeze is soothing. But wind is the movement that not only strengthens the roots it cleans the dust from leaves which enables the tree to inhale and exhale. Breezes play melodies. Wind plays music with the branches and leaves which loudly broadcast we are all connected and not alone.