Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Even More on that Fourth Valley

As you may know, dear Reader, my wife and I have been studying The Four Valleys for a little while now. We use the time that our son, who just turned 13 today, is at his junior youth spiritual empowerment group to study. After all, it is a good way to put the time to use. We've noticed a number of other families using the time to go grocery shopping, or other such things, but we feel it is far more important to spend our time in a similar study to what he is doing. That's just us.

Anyways, The Four Valleys.

We're coming to the end of our little study of this slender volume, just finishing up a look at the fourth valley.

To recap, the book begins with a customary berating of the recipient, "You never write. You never phone. Your mother and I have been so worried." Or something like that. But Baha'u'llah doesn't leave it at the level of the trivial, of course not. He makes it very relevant. When I read it from the perspective of God writing humanity, it makes so much more sense. "Have I ever abandoned you? So why have you abandoned Me?" He says that He understands that the recipient is heading off to go teaching. And He ends this introduction with a very telling statement: "Those who progress in mystic wayfaring are of four kinds." As I've mentioned before, He is not referring to all people, just those that actually make progress in this journey.

From there, He describes these four types fairly briefly, describing the highest form of each type. The first makes progress by examining the self, the second through reason, and the third through love. And it is worth repeating: He doesn't describe the limitations inherent in each of these three paths, but describes the highest form of each one. And by doing so, we can recognize the way in which an individual learns, which path they will resonate with, which in turn means we can then be more effective as a teacher.

But what about the fourth type? This is the path that unites the other three. Now, this is not how He describes it. He talks about Messenger of God, the Manifestation. He describes that soul that wields "divine authority in the court of rapture with utter gladness", "they who issue their commands, and they send down gifts according to each mans deserving."

He says that this is "the realm of full awareness, of utter self-effacement", and that "love is no pathway to this region". In other words, as far as I can tell, He is saying that the limitations of the other three valleys become a barrier to this one. Full awareness? When you have full awareness, you have no need for reason, for all becomes obvious. Utter self-effacement? There is no place for the self here. And even love cannot lead you to this realm. So while it unites the previous three valleys in one way, it is also sanctified above each of them, when looking at it from the highest ideal.

The very beginning of this valley is also interesting, for He reminds us that "He doth what He willeth". Why is this so crucial? Well, and this is just my personal opinion, it reminds us of the importance of being detached from our own preconceptions. If we understand the prophecies of old, for example, to mean one thing, but they are fulfilled in another way, then our preconception becomes a barrier to recognition. Baha'u'llah spends almost the entirety of Part 1 of the Kitab-i-Iqan on this very theme. This idea is so important that it really cannot be overestimated. It reminds us that the position of the Manifestation is so profound that we cannot attach anything to it from our own perspective.

To get a better understanding of this, Marielle and I talked about our own love for each other. I could love her because of her physical beauty, but then when she gets old, she may lose some of that beauty, It's hard to believe, I know, but it is possible. And if that were the basis of my love, then I would no longer love her.

Or suppose I loved Jesus because He rose from the dead. If that were the case, then I would not love Muhammad, because this does not apply to Him.

No. I love Marielle because of the virtues she shows. The more she reflects these attributes of her Creator, the more I love her. And the same with Jesus. I love the Light He shines forth, which is why I also love Muhammad, as well as all the other Manifestations.

Recognizing the absolute authority of the Manifestations means being detached from any of the reasons I may think are the cause of my love. It doesn't mean not having these reasons, just not being attached to them to the point where they may be a barrier to any of the other Manifestations. But this seems impossible to me. I mean I can strive for that, but I sense in the very core of my being that I will always be attached to some aspect of the Messenger I follow. Perhaps this is why He refers to it as "a bottomless sea which none shall ever fathom".

It is also important to recognize that this view flies in the face of "authority". Those leaders of society, of religions, all have their views. They defend those views, which are completely enmeshed with their egos, literally to the death. This is, perhaps, why He says "were he to reveal but its faintest trace, they would assuredly nail him to the cross".

But if someone were to appear who really was seeking, with that true sense of detachment, then Baha'u'llah would without any hesitation share this. No fear would ever stop the true teacher.

In fact, if someone were to appear who was ready to listen with an open heart, then Baha'u'llah would even speak in Persian, if necessary, for the true lover can communicate their love in any language. Oh, and this little couplet here, see the Fourth Valley for details, confused Marielle for a moment. What is this about language? Well, look at Catholicism. They thought for centuries that you could only truly communicate spiritual ideals through Latin. In Islam, they thought the same with Arabic. But Baha'u'llah is tossing this aside. You can communicate in any language you want, even though some may say otherwise.

He is willing to be fully exposed to these attacks, if necessary, like an open oyster. "See, our hearts come open like shells, when He raineth grace like pearls". Just imagine how exposed an oyster is when its shell is fully open.

So ready is He to accept persecution for God's sake that He would even reward His persecutors, if it were allowed. (As you can see, I'm basically following the verses in the book next to me.)

Oh, this is such a rich Valley. There is so much in here, if we take the time to really explore it. With such beautiful poetical phrases He gives us just a glimpse of the realm of the Manifestations, luring us forward in our own spiritual development, trying to get us to reach beyond our own limitations and strive to become something more.

And don't forget, it isn't that we are barred from this Valley. We aren't. We can still reach God through it, but just at a lower level than the Manifestations. Baha'u'llah, in each of these valleys, is giving us the highest ideal in each of them, and here, in this fourth valley, that highest ideal is the path of the Manifestation. They use awareness of the self, reason and love, but are not limited by any of them. And we, too, can do the same.

This fourth valley is but another path to walk on our way to try and reach an understanding of our Creator. It is the fourth path we can walk as we "progress in mystic wayfaring". And when we use all three faculties together, self-awareness, reason and love, our path will likely be far more effective. We will likely travel a greater distance in our search for the Beloved.

As He says at the end there, "Obey Me and I shall make thee like unto Myself". "Seek fellowship with none until thou hast found Me, and whenever thou shalt long for Me, thou shalt find Me close to thee."

No comments:

Post a Comment