Tuesday, November 16, 2010


The other day, I was listening to Marielle pray, and she was reciting a passage from Gleanings: "Be as resigned and submissive as the earth, that from the soil of your being there may blossom the fragrant, the holy and multicolored hyacinths of My knowledge."

Now, I know what a hyacinth is, but I got to wondering why does Baha'u'llah refer to that particular flower? There are many times in the Writings when He refers to different flowers, such as the rose or the tulip, but He seems to use the hyacinth in a particular way, and I wonder why.

Here is a photo of some hyacinths, and as you can tell, they are a very beautiful flower, with many dense flowers on a single stalk. They are also smell amazing, and their scent is quite strong. Oh, and yes, they really are mutli-coloured, just like He said.

But why a hyacinth?

And thus my search for the day began.

Upon googling it, my first stop was Wikipedia, in which I learned that the hyacinth is native to western Iran. Who knew? It is used on the Haftseen table, that table that Persians put out for Naw Ruz, and it is symbolic of the rebirth that occurs every Spring Equinox.

The hyacinth, interestingly enough, is named after a Greek youth (whose name, coincidentally, was Hyacinth), who was greatly loved by Apollo. In the story, they were throwing the discus when Zephyr, the god of the West Wind, blew the discus off course and it struck Hyacinth, killing him. Apollo, grieving for his friend, refused to allow Hades to take him to the Underworld and, instead, grew the flower from the drops of his blood that were on the ground.

And why, you may ask, do I mention this?

Because Apollo is seen as the god of light and the sun, truth and prophecy, music, poetry, and the arts. Do you see a connection in all of this? To my eye, these are all elements of the same thing. And when you connect them to the Knowledge of God, as in the above quote, you can see how they all relate. When looking up the "meaning of flowers", the hyacinth is said to symbolize knowledge, which is reflected in all of the above. I find it appropriate that the god of truth and the arts would love the symbol of knowledge.

But I wasn't satisfied. I wanted to learn more about what Baha'u'llah says about this flower.

In the Persian Hidden Words, Baha'u'llah says, almost identically twice (in numbers 33 and 78), "Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of thy heart, and water them with the water of certitude, that the hyacinths of My knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the sacred city of thy heart." And again, in that same Book, He writes, "Wherefore sow the seeds of wisdom and knowledge in the pure soil of the heart, and keep them hidden, till the hyacinths of divine wisdom spring from the heart and not from mire and clay."

Once again, we have that connection to knowledge and wisdom, but this time it is combined with the "seeds of (God's) wisdom", and those seeds are sown in our heart. They don't just grow on their own, but need to be planted in the fertile soil of our heart. Oh, and this metaphor can also spawn many articles all by itself, but I won't digress here.

In the Kitab-i-Iqan, Baha'u'llah says that those who "labour in quest of God's will, when once they have renounced all else but Him," "will hearken unto infallible proofs from the Hyacinth of that assembly". So here, the hyacinth is the bearer of the proofs of God.

And you may note, especially in connection with the first quote, that resignation to the Will of God is another theme that runs throught these quotes.

So what have I found in all this?

I think it begins with resignation to God's will, which helps us grow spirituality. By submitting to the various tests and trials that we encounter in life, and accepting them for what they are, we till the soil of our heart. As 'Abdu'l-Baha says, "The mind and spirit of man advance when he is tried by suffering. The more the ground is ploughed the better the seed will grow, the better the harvest will be. Just as the plough furrows the earth deeply, purifying it of weeds and thistles, so suffering and tribulation free man from the petty affairs of this worldly life until he arrives at a state of complete detachment."

When the soil of the heart is well prepared, then we can "Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom", with the hope that those seeds will take root. If we regularly water that soil with "the living waters of Thy knowledge", and illumine it "with the light of the fear of God," then it is fairly certain that these flowers will grow.

But how will we know they are growing? Because our words will become more fragrant, attracting those around us, as we strive to speak with the knowledge of God. But this knowledge is not uniform. It is multicoloured, shining in many different ways. For some, this knowledge will express itself in public talks on economy, for others it will manifest itself as a poem. There are some who show it as a beautiful building, and others as music. This knowledge will find expression through all the ways that people communicate with the world, especially in the arts. But one thing remains constant: all of these flowers are attractive.



  2. Presently I am researching on "Plants" in the Holy Writings and your article is just a beautiful start in that endeavour. Thank you so much :-) Greetings from Germany, Sascha