Monday, March 12, 2018

Gems of Divine Mysteries - Study, paragraphs 51 - 55

Last night my wife asked me how this little blog project was going. "It's a little frustrating," I replied.


"Well, I have 19 days to the whole book, and I was hoping to do 6 paragraphs a day. That would about cover it. But Baha'u'llah switches to a different topic every 5 paragraphs. I'm falling behind."

"Why", she asked, "do you think He does that?"

"Perhaps He was writing this book and said to Himself, 'Oh, I better switch topics again, just so that Mead has difficulty writing his blog later in the future.' I don't know."

I then proceeded to read aloud to her what I was going to write about today. I started at paragraph 51, because that was where I left off. And lo and behold, 5 paragraphs later, "Now that this evanescent One hath reached this exalted point..." Another new topic. I give up. This will likely take me beyond the Fast. Sorry about that.

For now, though, let get into it.
It is Our wish at this to digress from Our theme to recount that which befell the Point of the Qur’án, and to extol His remembrance, that perchance thou mayest gain into all things an insight born of Him Who is the Almighty, the Incomparable. 51
I have to admit, I was caught a bit off-guard here. At first I thought the "Point of the Qur'an" was referring to the Bab. I mean, how often do we see Him referred to as the Point? The Primal Point? And wasn't the whole point of the Qur'an to prepare us for His coming? Well, I was mistaken. This phrase evidently refers to Muhammad. It didn't really come as much of a surprise, but I thought that should be mentioned.

Oh, and when I continued to read on, it seemed more and more like the Bab. But still, it wasn't. It is Muhammad. Then again, considering the relationship between the two, it does make sense that I would be confused.

Either way, at this point, Baha'u'llah is switching topics here. he's now going to talk a bit more particularly about Muhammad and His life.
Consider and reflect upon His days, when God raised Him up to promote His Cause and to stand as the representative of His own Self. Witness how He was assailed, denied, and denounced by all; how, when He set foot in the streets and marketplaces, the people derided Him, wagged their heads at Him, and laughed Him to scorn; how at every moment they sought to slay Him. Such were their doings that the earth in all its vastness was straitened for Him, the Concourse on High bewailed His plight, the foundations of existence were reduced to nothingness, and the eyes of the well-favoured denizens of His Kingdom wept sore over Him. Indeed, so grievous were the afflictions which the infidels and the wicked showered upon Him that no faithful soul can bear to hear them. 52
"Consider". "Reflect". Remember those terms? Those, and all their synonyms, come up regularly in His early writings. And they are not just flippant words tossed in for fun. He is serious, as one would expect. He really is advising to consider and reflect upon the life of Muhammad, that divine Being Who is known so well to the recipient of this book.

It really is not a coincidence that I should be confused as to Whom Baha'u'llah is referring here. That, I believe, is the point He is trying to make. Well, one of them, at least.

If we were told to read this as a Christian, we could easily imagine the scenario where Jesus is walking towards His trial with Pilate, and the streets are lined with people vilifying Him. Siyyid Yusuf-i-Sihdihi Isfahani, to whom this was written, was no doubt just as easily able to picture Muhammad in a similar circumstance. Having been raised Jewish, I can easily see Moses being cursed by the Jews after Pharaoh double their workload. We can all see the Bab being vilified, or Baha'u'llah having the stones thrown at Him by the old women on His way to the Siyah-Chal. This is a common thread to all their stories.

There is also, as I love to point out, a little path here. He was assailed. He was denied. He was denounced. To be assailed means to be strongly criticized. To be denied means to have Their claim flat out refused. It is a stronger term, as far as this path goes, than assailed. Finally, They were denounced, which means that They were publicly declared evil. You can easily imagine this escalation.

Everything else in this paragraph follows. We can see the continual escalation of effect, and how it must have pained Him. I could go into detail on how each step leads further and further, but the point has been amply made by Baha'u'llah, Himself, here.
If these wayward souls had indeed paused to reflect upon their conduct, recognized the sweet melodies of that Mystic Dove singing upon the twigs of this snow-white Tree, embraced that which God had revealed unto and bestowed upon them, and discovered the fruits of the Tree of God upon its branches, wherefore then did they reject and denounce Him? Had they not lifted their heads to the heavens to implore His appearance? Had they not besought God at every moment to honour them with His Beauty and sustain them through His presence? 53
Now Baha'u'llah switches perspective, moving from the trials faced by the Messenger to the plight of those who committed these evil deeds. If only they had paused and reflected, as we are pausing and reflecting right here in this very paragraph, they might have recognized. They may have embraced, which you can see is a deeper position of understanding than just recognizing. They might have actually been able to understand, which goes further still.

Baha'u'llah is placing us in the same position that those souls were in at the time of Muhammad. We are left wondering how they failed to recognize Him, Whom we see so clearly. Will the future wonder the same about us?

And what is He asking of us? It seems to me that this all begins with that reflection and meditation. Recognition comes from that. Once we recognize the Bab, or Baha'u'llah, then we can embrace Their Cause. It is only upon truly embracing the Cause that we will begin to discover some of the fruits on that divine Tree.
But as they failed to recognize the accents of God and the divine mysteries and holy allusions enshrined in that which flowed from the tongue of Muḥammad, and as they neglected to examine the matter in their own hearts, and followed instead those priests of error who have hindered the progress of the people in past dispensations and who will continue to do so in future cycles, they were thus veiled from the divine purpose, failed to quaff from the celestial streams, and deprived themselves of the presence of God, the Manifestation of His Essence, and the Dayspring of His eternity. Thus did they wander in the paths of delusion and the ways of heedlessness, and return to their abode in that fire which feedeth on their own souls. These, verily, are numbered with the infidels whose names have been inscribed by the Pen of God in His holy Book. Nor have they ever found, or will ever find, a friend or helper. 54
But, alas, as we well know, the people of that time failed to recognize Muhammad. Why? Because they didn't examine His message themselves. Instead, they made the error of listening to the priests. And look at what they missed? Look at how they suffered? Do we want the same?

Of course not.

The solution, then, is clear. Examine this Message for ourselves. See for ourselves if it makes sense. Don't just listen to the clergy, but study for ourselves.
Had these souls but clung steadfastly to the Handle of God manifested in the Person of Muḥammad, had they turned wholly unto God and cast aside all that they had learned from their divines, He would assuredly have guided them through His grace and acquainted them with the sacred truths that are enshrined within His imperishable utterances. For far be it from His greatness and His glory that He should turn away a seeker at His door, cast aside from His Threshold one who hath set his hopes on Him, reject one who hath sought the shelter of His shade, deprive one who hath held fast to the hem of His mercy, or condemn to remoteness the poor one who hath found the river of His riches. But as these people failed to turn wholly unto God, and to hold fast to the hem of His all-pervading mercy at the appearance of the Daystar of Truth, they passed out from under the shadow of guidance and entered the city of error. Thus did they become corrupt and corrupt the people. Thus did they err and lead the people into error. And thus were they recorded among the oppressors in the books of heaven. 55
And if we do accept it, then just look at what wonders come our way.

God will never turn us away. If we approach His door, He will open it for us. There are no gatekeepers, except for the Manifestations, at Whose door we really wait. The clergy do not have some privileged access to God that we are denied. It is as He says in the Hidden Words "Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other."

But so many people do not cling to "the hem of His mercy", clinging instead to the robes of their leaders. They have placed their religious leaders in the position of God, which is not a good thing to do at all. And as they encourage others to do this, too, condemning those who don't, they lead others into the same error, thinking all the while that they are somehow doing good.

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