Monday, March 5, 2018

Gems of Divine Mysteries - Study, paragraphs 17 - 20

A proper study of any text, as you know dear Reader, requires numerous reads of said text. It requires analysis of the overall structure of the piece, a look at the outline, and a review of each part in terms of the overall goal.

This is not such a study.

It is just my own first read-through, mixed with my immediate impressions. I mean, I've read this before, but it has been so long that I really don't remember much, if anything.

Besides, this is also the Fast, so any ridiculous thoughts that find their way into this blog I can blame on lack of food, as opposed to any other ridiculous thoughts that find their way here during other times of the year. I'm not sure what I'll blame those on.

Anyways where were we? Oh, yes. Paragraph 17.

O thou who hast soared to the realm of guidance and ascended to the kingdom of virtue! Shouldst thou desire to apprehend these celestial allusions, to witness the mysteries of divine knowledge, and to become acquainted with His all-encompassing Word, then it behoveth thine eminence to inquire into these and other questions pertaining to thine origin and ultimate goal from those whom God hath made to be the Wellspring of His knowledge, the Heaven of His wisdom, and the Ark of His mysteries. For were it not for those effulgent Lights that shine above the horizon of His Essence, the people would know not their left hand from their right, how much less could they scale the heights of the inner realities or probe the depths of their subtleties! We beseech God therefore to immerse us in these surging seas, to grace us with the presence of these life-bearing breezes, and to cause us to abide in these divine and lofty precincts. Perchance we may divest ourselves of all that we have taken from each other and strip ourselves of such borrowed garments as we have stolen from our fellow men, that He may attire us instead with the robe of His mercy and the raiment of His guidance, and admit us into the city of knowledge. 17
It seems to me that Baha'u'llah is alluding to the fact that He is "the realm of guidance". Even though this was revealed before He announced His Station, He often says that only a Manifestation of God can unravel these mysteries, and then says He will do so. Isn't He tacitly admitting His Station?

But here, which questions is He referring to? I would presume the questions that He told this man to ponder in the previous paragraph. Where can you turn for guidance? What will happen to you when you die? If it weren't for the Manifestations of God, He is saying, people would be completely ignorant, so turn towards Them.

Then He reiterates a statement that He often makes: Don't be satisfied with the standard set forth by other people. Scholars, as any academe knows, often boost their own egos by how they can quote and manipulate the writings of other men to prove some point or other. They build themselves up by taking little thoughts from others and repackaging it as if it were their own. Don't waste your time, He seems to be saying. Go to the Source of all guidance.

Whosoever entereth this city will comprehend every science before probing into its mysteries and will acquire from the leaves of its trees a knowledge and wisdom encompassing such mysteries of divine lordship as are enshrined within the treasuries of creation. Glorified be God, its Creator and Fashioner, above all that He hath brought forth and ordained therein! By God, the Sovereign Protector, the Self-Subsisting, the Almighty! Were I to unveil to thine eyes the gates of this city, which have been fashioned by the right hand of might and power, thou wouldst behold that which none before thee hath ever beheld, and wouldst witness that which no other soul hath ever witnessed. Thou wouldst apprehend the most obscure signs and the most abstruse allusions, and wouldst clearly behold the mysteries of the beginning in the point of the end. All matters would be made easy unto thee, fire would be turned into light, knowledge and blessings, and thou wouldst abide in safety within the court of holiness. 18
When we enter "the city of knowledge" we will see the connections between all the pieces of knowledge that scientists struggle hard to uncover. It was likely no surprise to those who understood the unity of God, for example, when the scientists recognized that magnetism and electricity were the results of the same force. You see, there is only one creation. Everything within that creation is related to everything else. This doesn't mean that we understand how they are related, for it is the sciences that uncover that mystery, but from religion, we know that they are. It is these religious truths that help the scientists know where to look to make even more amazing discoveries.

It's also interesting to me that He talks about "acquiring from the leaves of its tree a knowledge and wisdom". Leaves, as you know, draw down the energy from the sun and convert it to food for the plant. It is also an odd fact that a tree that has no leaves is dead, and will not return to bloom the next spring. An Aboriginal elder told me this many years ago, and every year it has proven true. In another passage, Baha'u'llah alludes to the leaves of faith being akin to truthfulness. He says, "Regard thou faith as a tree. Its fruits, leaves, boughs and branches are, and have ever been, trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness and forbearance." If you compare the two parts, then you see that the leaves line up with truthfulness, being the second in each list. So, if your tree of faith does not have the leaves of truthfulness, I presume, than it cannot draw down the power from the light of God, and will die. It will only be fit for the fire, so to speak.

To me, if we acquire these leaves of truth, learn from the sciences and deeply investigate reality, then we will acquire "a knowledge and wisdom encompassing such mysteries of divine lordship as are enshrined within the treasuries of creation". And when I see the wonders that have been created through our investigations into science and creation, the truth of this statement becomes even more profound to me.

Bereft, however, of the essence of the mysteries of His wisdom, which We have imparted unto thee beneath the veils of these blessed and soul-stirring words, thou wouldst fail to attain unto even a sprinkling of the oceans of divine knowledge or the crystal streams of divine power, and wouldst be recorded in the Mother Book, through the Pen of oneness and by the Finger of God, amongst the ignorant. Nor wouldst thou be able to grasp a single word of the Book or a single utterance of the Kindred of God concerning the mysteries of the beginning and the end. 19
But if we don't investigate the spiritual reality along with the physical one, than it is all worth nothing. If we don't see the underlying harmony and unity within all of creation, then we are missing the larger picture. We are stuck seeing only the pieces of the puzzle and not the overall image.

Baha'u'llah, in all His writings, is continually steering us to a greater understanding of the concept of unity. The paths He outlines for individuals are the same paths He outlines for all humanity as a body. In the Seven Valleys, He describes the path of search for a single person, but we can also see it as the larger path that humanity is taking. We can see, in a sense, Judaism as a search for the concept of a singular God. Christianity is, obviously, all about love. Muhammad enjoined upon His followers to seek out knowledge, even to the ends of the earth. Baha'u'llah, as well as the Bab, have brought us to the Valley of Unity.

Everywhere we turn in the Writings we can see these paths before us. And when we walk these paths with conscious knowledge, wonders open up before our eyes.

But if we turn aside from this larger vision, then we are merely wandering lost in a darkened wilderness.

O thou whom We have outwardly never met, yet whom We inwardly cherish in Our heart! Be fair in thy judgement and present thyself before Him Who seeth and knoweth thee, even if thou seest and knowest Him not: Can any soul be found to elucidate these words with such convincing arguments, clear testimonies, and unmistakable allusions as to appease the heart of the seeker and relieve the soul of the listener? Nay, by the One in Whose hand is My soul! Unto none is given to quaff even a dewdrop thereof unless he entereth within this city, a city whose foundations rest upon mountains of crimson-coloured ruby, whose walls are hewn of the chrysolite of divine unity, whose gates are made of the diamonds of immortality, and whose earth sheddeth the fragrance of divine bounty. 20
Baha'u'llah has never met this man. And yet He cherishes him in His heart. Why? Perhaps it is because of his ardent desire to seek the truth. If that's the case, then this applies to all of us who are truly seeking to uncover these mysteries and learn from His writings.

He just cautioned us about how the people of the past failed to recognize the Manifestations of their day, and is now telling us to be "fair in thy judgement". Look carefully. If Baha'u'llah's answers satisfy our longing, then doesn't that mean that He is He Whom God shall make Manifest? For only a Manifestation can answer these questions, satisfy these longings. He sees and knows us, even if we don't recognize Him.

From here, we can look at the various mystical attributes of the stones He mentions, if we want. For example, the foundation is cite as being of ruby, which is reputed to be for the heart. In other words, the heart is the foundation. the walls are chrysolite, which is reputed to help give clearer vision to the eyes. The gates are diamond, the hardest of all, seemingly eternal. Nobody can force their way in here. It is only when the gates are open that you can enter.

Layer upon layer, the meanings of each and every word or phrase is so unbelievably rich. He draws upon so much in these texts, and we can get as much out of it as we desire, if we only put in the effort.

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