Monday, December 25, 2017


One of my favorite things to do, as you may know, dear Reader, is to look at a single word throughout the Writings and see what I can glean from that. So imagine my surprise when I saw someone on-line doing just this with the word "sweetness" the other day. To be fair, they just copied and pasted a series of quotes with the word, and no analysis, so I thought I'd fill that gap.

And what word was it? I'm glad you asked.

It was sweet.

No, I mean, it was the word "sweet". Well, actually, "sweetness", but close enough.

Anyways, before I begin to look at that, I want to share a bit of a thought about sweetness itself.

What is sweet? It is the taste sensation we get when tasting something that has sugars in it.

Now, some people freak out when they hear the word sugar, thinking that anything with sugar is bad. The problem is, even if you are diabetic, you need sugars to live. This is what gives energy to your body's cells. Without sugars, you die. Plain and simple.

On the other hand, refined sugars are not good for you.

But what are refined sugars? Well, they are sugars that have been taken out of context. Beets, for example, are good for you, especially in borscht. Mmm. I love borscht. Hey, maybe I'll make some borscht for lunch today. I have a few beets in the fridge that need eating. And I can add in a nice vegetable stock, along with a few.... Oh, sorry.

Where was I?

Refined sugars. Yeah. Thanks.

Beets are good for you, but when you mush them and mash them, liquefy them, and separate out all the sugars from the rest of the beet, those sugars are no longer good for your body unless you're a hummingbird. And when you consider how fast a hummingbird's heart has to beat, that just makes sense. But hummingbirds, alas, we are not. Instead, these refined sugars, white sugars, give us a sudden buzzing boost and then are quickly used up, dropping us as fast as they let us up. They are not satisfying in the long run, and can even damage us if we subject ourselves to too much of them.

But what, I hear you saying, does this have to do with Baha'u'llah's quotes, all quoted at the bottom of this article, with the word "sweetness" in them? I'm glad you asked, dear Reader. It's one of the things that makes writings these articles so much easier, your questions.

Well, let's look at one: "Pleasant is the utterance of the Friend: Where is the soul who will taste its sweetness..."

Obviously "sweetness" is referring to the Word of God here, and in many of the quotes. In others He uses it to refer to His "remembrance and praise" and also to the liberty that is found in "complete servitude to God", but mostly to His Words.

So, looking at the sugar metaphor, we can see that it is through these words that we get life. After all, without simple sugars, our cells have no energy and we die. So, too, without the simple truths in these words, we die in spirit. Oh, and that refers to all sacred Text, as far as I'm aware. It is these simple truths that we find throughout cultures all over the world, and even in the heart of the sciences, but that's surely for another article.

However, and this is a big however, if we take these things out of context, refine them to extract just the white sugar out of it, so to speak, then we find that they are actually bad for us.

What do I mean? Well, remember all the horrors in history that have occurred due to people taking religious things out of context. To me, that's a perfect example.

Another example is the phrase "turn the other cheek". I've written about this before, but let me just say it again. If you look in the Bible, you won't find that phrase in there. After all, what does it mean? Basically, it means if someone slugs you, let him slug you again. What does anyone learn? Well, for me, I'd learn pain, but I think I'd rather pass on that. Oh, and the aggressor learns that they can just beat up whoever they want. Again, I think I'll pass. If you go back to the source, though, Matthew 5:39 and the surrounding story, it specifies "If a man strikes you on the right cheek". That's pretty specific. So, by acting it out, you quickly realize that the person striking you on your right cheek is either left-handed, which is rare, or they are backhanding you. They are slapping you, as if in insult. And if you offer them your other cheek, your left one, then if they strike again, in the same manner, they will strike you square in the face. This raises the level of aggression beyond what is considered reasonable. After all, slapping someone in insult is considered reasonable by many, although it used to lead to duels. But striking someone in the face goes beyond an unspoken limit. And that's where the lesson is. By simply turning your other cheek to them, they will either back down, having learned shame, a  good spiritual lesson, or strike again, earning the condemnation of those around, which teaches the lesson of collective security, another good spiritual lesson. But by extracting that little bit of refined sugar, "turn the other cheek", it's no longer a useful lesson. It no longer provides the life that is so needed.

So, what do I get out of all this? Well, it's like food. Eat the whole food, not just the refined sugars. Read the whole of a quote, not just a small portion. Take things in context, for out of context that can be very damaging. They may look good in the short term, but can have devastating long-term consequences.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Were any man to taste the sweetness of the words which the lips of the All-Merciful have willed to utter, he would, though the treasures of the earth be in his possession, renounce them one and all, that he might vindicate the truth of even one of His commandments, shining above the day spring of His bountiful care and loving-kindness.
(Baha'u'llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 20, paragraph 3)

O servants! Pleasant is the utterance of the Friend: Where is the soul who will taste its sweetness, and where is the ear that will hearken unto it? Well is it with him who, in this day, communeth with the Friend and in His path renounceth and forsaketh all save Him, that he may behold a new world and gain admittance to the everlasting paradise.
(Baha'u'llah, Tabernacle of Unity, p. 70, paragraph 4.10)

Were ye to taste of the sweetness of the sayings of the All-Merciful, ye would unhesitatingly forsake your selves, and would lay down your lives for the Well-Beloved.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 84)

The liberty that profiteth you is to be found nowhere except in complete servitude unto God, the Eternal Truth. Whoso hath tasted of its sweetness will refuse to barter it for all the dominion of earth and heaven.
(Baha'u'llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 64, paragraph 125)

Were any man to ponder in his heart that which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed and to taste of its sweetness, he would, of a certainty, find himself emptied and delivered from his own desires, and utterly subservient to the Will of the Almighty. Happy is the man that hath attained so high a station, and hath not deprived himself of so bountiful a grace.
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 343)

Cause me to taste, O my Lord, the divine sweetness of Thy remembrance and praise. I swear by Thy might! Whosoever tasteth of its sweetness will rid himself of all attachment to the world and all that is therein, and will set his face towards Thee, cleansed from the remembrance of any one except Thee.
(Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah LVI, p. 82)

Blessed is he that hath tasted of the sweetness of Thy remembrance and praise. Nothing, not even the arising of all the peoples of the whole world to assail him, can hinder such a man from directing his steps towards the paths of Thy pleasure and the ways of Thy Cause.
(Prayers and Meditations by Baha'u'llah CXX, p. 205)

1 comment:

  1. Hidden Words Persian No. 33

    "O My Brother!
    Hearken to the delightsome words of My honeyed tongue, and quaff the stream of mystic holiness from My sugar-shedding lips. Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of thy heart, and water them with the water of certitude, that the hyacinths of My knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the sacred city of thy heart."