Monday, February 11, 2013

The Tablet of Wisdom, part 5

I remembered the "The" this time in the title. Hooray for me.

An intro, a downer, a solution for all, specific advice for us: Now what? Well, He's given the advice for what we should be doing, so now how about a bit about our attitude? How about our goal?

By My life! Thy grievances have plunged Me into sorrow. Regard not the children of the world and all their doings but fix thy gaze upon God and His never-ending dominion. Verily, He calleth to thy remembrance that which is the source of delight for all mankind. Drink thou the life-giving water of blissful joy from the chalice of utterance proffered by the Fountainhead of divine Revelation -- He Who hath made mention of thee in this mighty stronghold. Endeavour to the utmost of thy powers to establish the word of truth with eloquence and wisdom and to dispel falsehood from the face of the earth. Thus directeth thee the Dayspring of divine knowledge from this luminous horizon.

I may be mistaken, but it seems to me as if He is addressing someone specifically, and through them, all of us. It reads as though this person, great as he may have been, was sharing some grievances with Baha'u'llah. Perhaps he was complaining about someone, or maybe he was just sharing a bit of the trials that he was suffering in His path. As we all know, this Tablet was written for Nabil-i-Akbar, and this poor but eminent man suffered greatly for the Faith. He was also a very well-known scholar. There are many things he could have complained about, ranging from the treatment he suffered at the hands of the enemies, to the bozoid things that his fellow believers were doing. The fact is, though, we don't know. All we know is what Baha'u'llah has written here. The grievances of Nabil-i-Akbar plunged Baha'u'llah into sorrow.

Well, that should be enough.

Can you imagine saying anything that would plunge Baha'u'llah into sorrow? Whoa. That would give me pause for thought.

Now, again, I might be going out on a limb here, but hey, that's what I do. These are only my own thoughts, so why not?

The very next sentence seems to imply that it is something of what I just said. Whether it is the enemies of the Faith, or the bozos within it, Baha'u'llah tells him, as through him us, to disregard the "children of the world" and instead look to God. The enemies may strive to hurt us or even extinguish the light of the Faith, but we know they will not succeed. Well, I mean they may hurt us individually, either through being annoying, or torture or even martyrdom, but they won't hurt the Faith. And as for the bozos within the Faith? We can rely on the fact that the Faith is truly marching forward. Today, if someone writes a silly article about the Faith without getting it reviewed by an Assembly, there is enough valid stuff out there that it probably won't do much harm. There are even some Assemblies that, through their maturing, may make some silly decisions. But you know what? It's ok. It's part of the learning process.

This is a very important thing. In the letter from the Universal House of Justice to the US NSA, dated 19 May 1994, they build upon this theme. "As to your worry about over-controlling the friends: by appreciating the nature of the power of action which they possess, you will be able to gauge how best to guide and direct them. A wide latitude for action must be allowed them, which means that a large margin for mistakes must also be allowed. Your National Assembly and the Local Assemblies must not react automatically to every mistake, but distinguish between those that are self-correcting with the passage of time and do no particular harm to the community and those which require Assembly intervention. Related to this is the tendency of the friends to criticize each other at the slightest provocation, whereas the Teachings call upon them to encourage each other. Such tendencies are of course motivated by a deep love for the Faith, a desire to see it free of any flaw. But human beings are not perfect. The Local Assemblies and the friends must be helped through your example and through loving counsel to refrain from such a pattern of criticism, which stunts the growth and development of the community. You should also be fearful of laying down too many rules and regulations. The Cause is not so fragile that a degree of mistakes cannot be tolerated. When you feel that certain actions may become trends with harmful consequences, you may, instead of making a new rule, discuss the matter with the Counsellors, enlisting their support in educating the friends in a manner that will improve their understanding and their conduct."

So I may be drawing an incorrect conclusion, but I don't think so. I believe that Baha'u'llah is introducing this theme here.

It is so easy to get side-tracked, or even depressed, if we dwell on the things we are doing wrong. And, friends, let me tell you, it's even more depressing if you are like me and are the source of many of those wrongs.

In this paragraph, Baha'u'llah is reminding us to look to God. Don't get upset by the small obstacles that always get in our way. Keep your vision on the goal. That's what this says to me.

It begins with sorrow, but then He goes on to talk about "the source of delight" and "blissful joy". He lifts us up, out of sorrow, beyond the pettiness of our grievances.

He reminds us to strive with all our might to to teach the Faith. We need to teach with eloquence and wisdom, and do all we can to get rid of falsehood.

And you know what? There is a profound wisdom to this.

I remember one community where there was a lot of backbiting. It was a huge problem and was causing lots of issues. In this same community, there was a couple who were getting divorced. There was lots of strife and contention, and it was, by all accounts, just not a nice place to live. The Assembly was not sure what to do about it. And so they consulted the Writings. Not having served on that particular Assembly I have no clue what Writings they consulted, but I would sure love to know. All I know is that they continually found references like this. Don't grumble; teach. Don't complain about others; teach. Don't worry; just teach.

And that"s what they did.

They began a teaching campaign, finding ways to involve everyone. They even had a particular task that they asked of the couple.

In the end, the backbiting was gone, and even the couple stayed together.

And you know what? This makes me think twice about complaining. I mean, I sure would hate to be responsible for bringing sorrow to the heart of Baha'u'llah, much less plunging Him into it.

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