Friday, March 2, 2018

Gems of Divine Mysteries - Study, paragraphs 0 - 5

Wow. How to begin looking at a book like this? Well, I'm fairly simple. I like to do this one paragraph at a time and see what happens.

The essence of the divine mysteries in the journeys of ascent set forth for those who long to draw nigh unto God, the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving—blessed be the righteous that quaff from these crystal streams!

Paragraph 0, that little introduction just before the invocation. Hmm. I'm immediately reminded of the Four Valleys, where Baha'u'llah says that there are four types of people who actually make progress in their spiritual search. It also reminds me of the introduction to the Hidden Words, "We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity..." It's really quite amazing that Baha'u'llah is repeatedly taking the divine teachings of the past and distilling the essence for us.

O THOU WHO treadest the path of justice and beholdest the countenance of mercy! Thine epistle was received, thy question was noted, and the sweet accents of thy soul were heard from the inmost chambers of thy heart. Whereupon the clouds of the Divine Will were raised to rain upon thee the outpourings of heavenly wisdom, to divest thee of all that thou hadst acquired aforetime, to draw thee from the realms of contradiction unto the retreats of oneness, and to lead thee to the sacred streams of His Law. Perchance thou mayest quaff therefrom, repose therein, quench thy thirst, refresh thy soul, and be numbered with those whom the light of God hath guided aright in this day. 1
Interesting progression there. The letter was received. The question in it was recognized. Then the real question that lay within the heart of the individual was heard. There is a progression of increasing depth there.

And then, if that wasn't enough, God's divine wisdom rains upon him. But what does that wisdom do? It helps the individual get rid of any false teachings that he may have acquired before now. If we look around us and see contradictions, presumably in regards to the prophecies of old and the reality of today, then we have missed the essential oneness that underlies all religions, and even all of creation. This oneness, though, leads us to the Law. Recognition and obedience, those twin pillars found at the very beginning of the Kitab-i-Aqdas.

Encompassed as I am at this time by the dogs of the earth and the beasts of every land, concealed as I remain in the hidden habitation of Mine inner Being, forbidden as I may be from divulging that which God hath bestowed upon Me of the wonders of His knowledge, the gems of His wisdom, and the tokens of His power, yet am I loath to frustrate the hopes of one who hath approached the sanctuary of grandeur, sought to enter within the precincts of eternity, and aspired to soar in the immensity of this creation at the dawning of the divine decree. I shall therefore relate unto thee certain truths from among those which God hath vouchsafed unto Me, this only to the extent that souls can bear and minds endure, lest the malicious raise a clamour or the dissemblers hoist their banners. I implore God to graciously aid Me in this, for unto such as beseech Him, He is the All-Bounteous, and of those who show mercy, He is the Most Merciful. 2

Here Baha'u'llah really seems to be laying it all on the line, what is happening in His life at this moment, as well as His Station, although He doesn't actually specify it. We only see it clearly in retrospect.

He is suffering, as you know from your knowledge of history, at the hands of his half-brother and other faithless Babis. He has received His revelation a number of years earlier, but is still not allowed to divulge it yet. He can't reveal His knowledge, wisdom or power yet. But still, if someone is seeking truth, He is ready to share. Of course, this knowledge is not from Him, but from God, and therefore He implores God to help Him in this.

Know then that it behoveth thine eminence to ponder from the outset these questions in thy heart: What hath prompted the divers peoples and kindreds of the earth to reject the Apostles whom God hath sent unto them in His might and power, whom He hath raised up to exalt His Cause and ordained to be the Lamps of eternity within the Niche of His oneness? For what reason have the people turned aside from them, disputed about them, risen against and contended with them? On what grounds have they refused to acknowledge their apostleship and authority, nay, denied their truth and reviled their persons, even slaying or banishing them? 3
I don't actually know what the questions are that the man asked Baha'u'llah, but they were probably of a similar nature to those that the uncle of the Bab asked, which resulted in the revelation of the Kitab-i-Iqan. He probably asked about the prophecies of old and how the Bab fulfilled them, or something of that nature. Here Baha'u'llah gently steers him away from those particular things and to the more appropriate question: Why were the Messengers of the past denied?

O thou who hast set foot in the wilderness of knowledge and taken abode within the ark of wisdom! Not until thou hast grasped the mysteries concealed in that which We shall relate unto thee canst thou hope to attain to the stations of faith and certitude in the Cause of God and in those who are the Manifestations of His Cause, the Daysprings of His Command, the Treasuries of His revelation, and the Repositories of His knowledge. Shouldst thou fail in this, thou wouldst be numbered with them that have not striven for the Cause of God, nor inhaled the fragrance of faith from the raiment of certitude, nor scaled the heights of the divine unity, nor yet recognized the stations of divine singleness within the Embodiments of praise and the Essences of sanctity. 4
I find it interesting that knowledge is a wilderness, and wisdom is an ark. When I think of wilderness, I think of both natural beauty as well as inherent danger. The ark connotes a peaceful haven amidst a storm. Perhaps He is emphasizing that our knowledge can be misleading. It is beautiful and wonderful, but fallible. Wisdom, though, can help steer us safely through any dangers that may lie in wait in the wilderness.

At this point He begins to explain the importance of what He is saying. If we really want to achieve faith and certainty, then we need to deeply understand what He is saying. And here, again, He offers us another interesting path. We have to work hard for this Cause of God. If we truly work hard, then we can achieve faith, which He seems to imply comes from certainty. From this we may begin to get an understanding of the oneness, the essential singularity, of God. When we begin to understand the true meaning of this profound oneness of God then we can begin to get a better appreciation of the unity of all the Manifestations.

Strive then, O My brother, to apprehend this matter, that the veils may be lifted from the face of thy heart and that thou mayest be reckoned among them whom God hath graced with such penetrating vision as to behold the most subtle realities of His dominion, to fathom the mysteries of His kingdom, to perceive the signs of His transcendent Essence in this mortal world, and to attain a station wherein one seeth no distinction amongst His creatures and findeth no flaw in the creation of the heavens and the earth. 5
So what does He tell us to do? "Strive". Work hard that the veils before us may be lifted from our heart. And isn't that interesting? We normally think of a veil as being before the face, but here it is the face of the heart that is veiled. And if it is lifted? Well, just look at those rewards.

Well, for a first read after a long time, and in the middle of the day while fasting, that was difficult. I'm certain there is so much more in here, but I kind of have to stop for now. If there is anything you would like to add, dear Reader, I would be most grateful.

No comments:

Post a Comment