Sunday, March 11, 2018

Gems of Divine Mysteries - Study, paragraphs 46 - 50

I shall restate here My theme, that perchance this may assist thee in recognizing thy Creator. Know thou that God—exalted and glorified be He—doth in no wise manifest His inmost Essence and Reality. From time immemorial He hath been veiled in the eternity of His Essence and concealed in the infinitude of His own Being. And when He purposed to manifest His beauty in the kingdom of names and to reveal His glory in the realm of attributes, He brought forth His Prophets from the invisible plane to the visible, that His name “the Manifest” might be distinguished from “the Hidden” and His name “the Last” might be discerned from “the First”, and that there may be fulfilled the words: “He is the First and the Last; the Seen and the Hidden; and He knoweth all things!” Thus hath He revealed these most excellent names and most exalted words in the Manifestations of His Self and the Mirrors of His Being. 46
I am so grateful to Baha'u'llah. Oh, and I don't mean my general sense of overwhelming gratitude for all that He has done, but more particularly here. I am so thankful that He is restating His theme, for without doing that, I am sure that I would have even less of a clue as to what is going on than I do.

What is this theme that He is continually restating? I mean, He began by talking about "this exalted and intractable theme" in paragraph 6, which I presume was the theme of why the people denied the Messengers of the past. Then, in paragraph 35, He talked about reaching "this most excellent theme", which seemed to refer to the importance of detachment, as well as the facing of tests. I can see how those two tie together as they seem to be the same point, just seen from two different sides. But what about here?

The theme here seems to be that God is quintessentially unknowable, and that anything we do know of Him is actually what we know of the Manifestations. In other words, if we want to know God, we need to recognize the Manifestations. But this isn't enough. We need to recognize the latest, the most recent Manifestation, for to deny Them, we are in effect denying that we have recognized any Manifestation in the past. They are so synonymous with each Other that to recognize one, in His essence, is to recognize Them all. To deny one is to deny all.

This is the great test. How we can we so love the Manifestation we follow, and yet still be detached enough to recognize the next one? How can we love the stories of one of Them, and still be open to the next chapter of Their divine story? This also comes to that wonderful question of how we can be passionate about something and strive towards it, while remaining detached from it.
It is therefore established that all names and attributes return unto these sublime and sanctified Luminaries. Indeed, all names are to be found in their names, and all attributes can be seen in their attributes. Viewed in this light, if thou wert to call them by all the names of God, this would be true, as all these names are one and the same as their own Being. Comprehend then the intent of these words, and guard it within the tabernacle of thy heart, that thou mayest recognize the implications of thine inquiry, fulfil them according to that which God hath ordained for thee, and thus be numbered with those who have attained unto His purpose. 47
Here is one of the most profound themes in all of Baha'u'llah's Writings stated so simply. Whatever refers to one of Them refers to Them all. And because They are the closest we can get to knowing our divine Creator, if we refer to Them by the various names of God, we are, in a sense, correct. They are the perfect Mirrors mirroring forth all the attributes of God so that we can begin to see them.

When we think of God, the All-Merciful, there is a bit of a conundrum there. God is sanctified above and beyond all creation, so, really, how can He show mercy? This would imply a direct connection with creation that we know is impossible. If God is the All-Powerful, then this implies another direct connection, for power is the amount of energy expended to perform a task over a stated unit of time. Without the task being accomplished, energy is latent, not actual. Power implies a transformation. And so if God is beyond all reality, then how can that connection be there? The answer is, in a sense, through His Manifestations.
All that thou hast heard regarding Muḥammad the son of Ḥasan — may the souls of all that are immersed in the oceans of the spirit be offered up for His sake—is true beyond the shadow of a doubt, and we all verily bear allegiance unto Him. But the imáms of the Faith have fixed His abode in the city of Jábulqá, which they have depicted in strange and marvellous signs. To interpret this city according to the literal meaning of the tradition would indeed prove impossible, nor can such a city ever be found. Wert thou to search the uttermost corners of the earth, nay probe its length and breadth for as long as God’s eternity hath lasted and His sovereignty will endure, thou wouldst never find a city such as they have described, for the entirety of the earth could neither contain nor encompass it. If thou wouldst lead Me unto this city, I could assuredly lead thee unto this holy Being, Whom the people have conceived according to what they possess and not to that which pertaineth unto Him! Since this is not in thy power, thou hast no recourse but to interpret symbolically the accounts and traditions that have been reported from these luminous souls. And, as such an interpretation is needed for the traditions pertaining to the aforementioned city, so too is it required for this holy Being. When thou hast understood this interpretation, thou shalt no longer stand in need of “transformation” or aught else. 48
Ok. Now this may seem like a tangent, and perhaps it is, but I'm not sure. I suspect not. Every time I think Baha'u'llah has gone on a tangent, it later proves to be the most logical and direct connection to make His point.

So, Muhammad. Son of Hasan. He was the Twelfth Imam, the one who disappeared as a kid and was in hiding. He was the one who had the Gates to intercede for him, after which the Bab is named. Or maybe vice versa, but since we're dealing with Manifestations and time, it's kind of hard to tell. He was the one of Whom the Bab was supposed to be the return.

But why bring him up?

Well, there were a lot of myths surrounding him, and it was just these sort of stories that became a great barrier between the people and the Bab. Here, after pointing out why the people missed the previous Manifestations due to their attachment to myths, He is pointing out the same absurd stories that people want to see today. Do we really expect Jesus to come down from the clouds, falling through those vaporous bodies of fluff in the sky? Or can we finally see that this was a metaphor for the clouds that block the light of the sun?

Do we really expect to see this mythological city that was built up around the myth of the Twelfth Imam? Baha'u'llah Himself says, "All right, if you can show Me this city, then I'll show you your Twelfth Imam." But we know it's impossible. And yet, we also know that the Twelfth Imam is a reality. So what do we do? The only reasonable thing is to understand that the story is a metaphor surrounding the reality, just as the stories of the past, previously mentioned here, are also metaphors. If we accept the metaphors of the Bible as referring to Muhammad, or the metaphors of the Tanakh as referring to Jesus, then we can use the same logic to recognize the metaphors of Islam to refer to the Bab.
Know then that, inasmuch as all the Prophets are but one and the same soul, spirit, name, and attribute, thou must likewise see them all as bearing the name Muḥammad and as being the son of Ḥasan, as having appeared from the Jábulqá of God’s power and from the Jábulṣá of His mercy. For by Jábulqá is meant none other than the treasure-houses of eternity in the all-highest heaven and the cities of the unseen in the supernal realm. We bear witness that Muḥammad, the son of Ḥasan, was indeed in Jábulqá and appeared therefrom. Likewise, He Whom God shall make manifest abideth in that city until such time as God will have established Him upon the seat of His sovereignty. We, verily, acknowledge this truth and bear allegiance unto each and every one of them. We have chosen here to be brief in our elucidation of the meanings of Jábulqá, but if thou be of them that truly believe, thou shalt indeed comprehend all the true meanings of the mysteries enshrined within these Tablets. 49
And there He goes, breaking down the metaphor for us so that we can clearly see it. The two cities in which the Twelfth Imam are said to be hiding are, in fact, the attributes of power and mercy. Again, if power is the amount of energy needed to effect change, then the Twelfth Imam is hidden, if you will, if all the change that has occurred in the world since that time. His power is evident in all that world has undergone. These holy Beings are the source of all movement in the world, whether or not we see it. They are the ultimate Source of inspiration for the arts, the sciences and all other learning.

But there is also the mercy of God. If we ever truly got what we deserved, if true justice was ever meted out, then all would cease to exist. It is only by God's mercy that the world continues.

Then we also have an allusion to Baha'u'llah, Himself. He, too, lives in this hidden city, until such time as He is allowed to declare His Mission. He is still, at this point, hidden.
But as to Him Who appeared in the year sixty, He standeth in need of neither transformation nor interpretation, for His name was Muḥammad, and He was a descendent of the Imáms of the Faith. Thus it can be truly said of Him that He was the son of Ḥasan, as is undoubtedly clear and evident unto thine eminence. Nay, He it is Who fashioned that name and created it for Himself, were ye to observe with the eye of God. 50
As regards the Bab, "Him Who appeared in the year sixty", He is not hidden. You want to know where this hidden Muhammad is, Baha'u'llah seems to ask. He's standing right there. Muhammad. Siyyid Ali-Muhammad, the Bab. Even His name points to this truth.

Once again, I was hoping to continue forward, and do a few more paragraphs, but the next begins "It is Our wish at this juncture to digress from Our theme", and so it seems like a good stopping point here. See you tomorrow.

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