Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Gems of Divine Mysteries - Study, paragraphs 26 - 30

One paragraph at a time. That's what I need to remember. Sometimes the ocean of Baha'u'llah's Revelation can seem overwhelming, especially when trying to write down ones thoughts about any particular work. But, as the Master would say, "Little. Little. Day by day."

Just one paragraph.
Alas, alas, for that which befell Him Who was the Manifestation of the Self of God, and for that which He and His loved ones were made to suffer! The people inflicted upon them what no soul hath ever inflicted upon another, and what no infidel hath wrought against a believer or suffered at his hand. Alas, alas! That immortal Being sat upon the darksome dust, the Holy Spirit lamented in the retreats of glory, the pillars of the Throne crumbled in the exalted dominion, the joy of the world was changed into sorrow in the crimson land, and the voice of the Nightingale was silenced in the golden realm. Woe betide them for what their hands have wrought and for what they have committed! 26
Ok. Who is He talking about? Muhammad, right? I mean, that's Who is quoted in the previous paragraph when He says they "failed to attain unto His beauty". So I think it's a safe bet that He's talking about Muhammad.

When I read this, it occurs to me that the Manifestations have All suffered this persecution. And while many may feel that these Messengers are so strong and powerful that They don't feel these pains inflicted upon Them, as if They have some sort of super divinity armour, I suspect that the truth is more tragic than that. I suspect that They are actually so much more aware of both Themselves and the world around Them that They feel it even more acutely than we would. I mean, just read that second to last sentence again. That  speaks of such suffering and sorrow.  Truly, "Woe betide them" who caused such suffering.

Hearken then unto that which the Bird of Heaven uttered, in the sweetest and most wondrous accents, and in the most perfect and exalted melodies, concerning them—an utterance that shall fill them with remorse from now unto “the day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of the worlds”: “Although they had before prayed for victory over those who believed not, yet when there came unto them He of Whom they had knowledge, they disbelieved in Him. The curse of God on the infidels!” Such indeed are their condition and attainments in their vain and empty life. Erelong shall they be cast into the fire of affliction and find none to help or succour them. 27
Even though He suffered so much at their hands, He still warned them of what was to come. He, in effect, is warning us. This is the day when all of mankind is standing "before the Lord of the worlds", and Baha'u'llah is reminding us that we are faced with the exact same question that those people of Muhammad's day faced: Do we accept, or do we turn away? They prayed for the Promised One to come, as so many people today pray for the return of Christ. They long to be proven right, to feel that they are of the chosen ones, as does anyone who says "We're right and everyone else is wrong." But in the end, it all depends on how we respond to the summons of God.

We know Who is coming, or Who came. All the Books of the past have told us. It doesn't matter what we accomplish in the eyes of men, here on this world. What mattes is how we act, whether or not we accept the new Messenger. And don't forget, recognition and obedience are those twin pillars in that first  paragraph of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Nobody can help us in this endeavour, this recognition and obedience. It is all up to us.
Be not veiled by aught that hath been revealed in the Qur’án, or by what thou hast learned from the works of those Suns of immaculacy and Moons of majesty, regarding the perversion of the Texts by the fanatical or their alteration by their corruptors. By these statements only certain specific and clearly indicated passages are intended. In spite of My weakness and poverty, I would assuredly be able, should I so desire, to expound these passages unto thine eminence. But this would divert us from our purpose and lead us astray from the outstretched path. It would immerse us in limited allusions and distract us from that which is beloved in the court of the All-Praised. 28
As we strive to recognize, though, we should let nothing become a veil between us and the Manifestation. If something we have read in our holy Book becomes a veil, then we have misunderstood it. If some action performed by the saints of our Faith leads us astray, then we have misunderstood this action.

As for the often cited "perversion of the texts", which I have had told to me, this only refers to a particular set of passages that is clearly indicated. And either way, it is a distraction from the real heart of the argument. When discussing this important topic, that of recognition, we should not allow ourselves to distracted by trivialities.
O thou who art mentioned in this outspread roll and who, amidst the gloomy darkness that now prevaileth, hast been illumined by the splendours of the sacred Mount in the Sinai of divine Revelation! Cleanse thy heart from every blasphemous whispering and evil allusion thou hast heard in the past, that thou mayest inhale the sweet savours of eternity from the Joseph of faithfulness, gain admittance into the celestial Egypt, and perceive the fragrances of enlightenment from this resplendent and luminous Tablet, a Tablet wherein the Pen hath inscribed the ancient mysteries of the names of His Lord, the Exalted, the Most High. Perchance thou mayest be recorded in the holy Tablets among them that are well assured. 29
And here is the promise, again. The man who received this Tablet was, in reality, mentioned by Baha'u'llah. What an incredible bounty this is. Now, he has to show himself worthy of such a bounty. We have read over and over in so many of Baha'u'llah's writings to cleanse our heart, to sanctify ourselves, to strive to make ourselves pure, and here He gives us some clues as to how we can do this: Forget this "blasphemous whispering and evil allusion". Ignore it. Drive it out of our heart. Only then will be able to recognize. It reminds me of perfumery. You may have a rotten scent in your nose, and only when you cleanse it, say with the cleansing scent of coffee, will you be able to smell and appreciate the beauty of the attar of rose. Or perhaps it is like a good meal. You may eat something spicy and very flavorful, and this will bar you from truly appreciating the subtlety of flavour in the next course. You have to cleanse your palate with a sorbet.

Also, this reference to Joseph is, to me, another interesting one. When I think of that story, I approach it from the Jewish perspective, having grown up in that culture. What, I have to ask myself, happened to those people who did not attain the presence of Joseph in Egypt? They suffered. They starved. They died. The worst drought in living memory was going on at the time. So, to me, if we do not seek refuge within the faith of Baha'u'llah, then we are stuck outside in the wilderness around Egypt at that time of the drought. Not a good place to be.
O thou who art standing before My Throne and yet remain unaware thereof! Know thou that whoso seeketh to scale the summits of the divine mysteries must needs strive to the utmost of his power and capacity for his Faith, that the pathway of guidance may be made clear unto him. And should he encounter One Who layeth claim to a Cause from God, and Who holdeth from His Lord a testimony beyond the power of men to produce, he must needs follow Him in all that He pleaseth to proclaim, command and ordain, even were He to decree the sea to be land, or to pronounce earth to be heaven, or that the former lieth above the latter or below it, or to ordain any change or transformation, for He, verily, is aware of the celestial mysteries, the unseen subtleties, and the ordinances of God. 30
Ah, once again, He alludes to His Station. We are standing at the very Throne of God, and yet we are unaware.

We may desire to understand what He is referring to, but it is not just going to be handed to us. We have to work for it. We have to work hard, strive for it. And this is not the same for all of us. My striving will be different from yours, for we each "strive to the utmost of (our own) power and capacity". This is one of those times where I am so grateful for my own low capacity. I look at the struggle of some of those around me and thank God that I am unable to do that much, for then I would have to.

Another point that catches my attention here is that part about what He can claim. He can "decree the sea to be land, or... pronounce the earth to be heaven, or that the former lieth above the latter or below it". When I think about what we can do on the sea today, it seems to me that it is like the land, in many ways. We farm it, live on it, and do all sorts of amazing  things with it, even if not too wisely at times. And isn't part of the purpose of Baha'u'llah's Revelation to transform this earth into a heaven? It really is an interesting choice of phrases He used here.
Were the peoples of every nation to observe that which hath been mentioned, the matter would be made simple unto them, and such words and allusions would not withhold them from the Ocean of the names and attributes of God. And had the people known this truth, they would not have denied God’s favours, nor would they have risen against, contended with, and rejected His Prophets. Similar passages are also to be found in the Qur’án, should the matter be carefully examined. 31
In the end, if we were to really look at what has happened in the past with previous Manifestations, and judge fairly, then it would be relatively simple for us to recognize the next Manifestation. We would not allow the poetical prophecies of the past nor the words of the foolish leaders to veil us from His presence.

It all seems so simple, in retrospect, but still, even today there are so many that deny.

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