Wednesday, April 4, 2018

That Blessed King

Baha'u'llah, in the Kitab-i-Aqdas, writes, "How great the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark—the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance."

I ran across this quote again last night, and it got me thinking. Why, I wondered, is there such an exalted and high station for such a king? I mean, I can think of lots of reasons, but most of them came down to me thinking, "Well, gee, that's nice of him." I figured there had to be more than just that. And so I find myself sitting at the keyboard, typing away, pondering on this issue.

To start, I note the difference between the "Cause" and the "Faith". It has long seemed to me that the "Cause" refers to something larger than the singular faith that we call the Baha'i Faith. The Cause of God, to me, and this really is just my own opinion, somehow seems to refer more to all the various Faiths constituting what we love to refer to as progressive revelation. When I read Shoghi Effendi's writings, this distinction somehow becomes clearer to me, but I would be at a loss as to explain why here. And so I note that this station of the king is more exalted when he arises to "aid My Cause".

The next part specifies that this king will aid His Cause "in My kingdom". So, where is this kingdom of God? Or perhaps the more accurate question is what is this kingdom of God? 'Abdu'l-Baha says, "O ye beloved of the Lord! The Kingdom of God is founded upon equity and justice, and also upon mercy, compassion, and kindness to every living soul. Strive ye then with all your heart to treat compassionately all humankind..."

In other words, what I think it means to me is whoever arises, as a ruler, to help promote the eternal Cause of God, and all the various forms that takes, and rules with equity, justice, mercy, compassion and kindness, will accrue these various benefits that Baha'u'llah mentions.

All right. That seems reasonable.

But let's look a little deeper into this.

Why would this be? Is it some sort of magical formula? If you do these things then the angels on high will bop down with their little magic wands, boop you over the head, and presto, you get these wonderful gifts? Somehow that just doesn't seem right to me. I mean, sure, Shoghi Effendi said, "The Bahá'í Faith, like all other Divine Religions, is thus fundamentally mystic in character." But is this what that means?
To better explain my thoughts on this, I want to share a bit of a story with you. Do you mind? Thanks.

A few years ago I was tutoring a Ruhi Book 1 study circle and we ran across that Hidden Word which says, "How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others? Whoso doeth this is accursed of Me." Half the group jumped at the word "accursed". They were really rattled by it. From their perspective, this was basically God saying, "If you do this, you're damned to Hell for all eternity." It was real hellfire and brimstone stuff to them. Naturally, I didn't want to tell them to "take a chill pill, folks", so instead I asked them to explore it.

"What", I asked them, "would it look like to be under a curse?" They came up with all sorts of things. "Your friends would leave you." "You would lose your job." "Your health would go downhill fast." "People wouldn't want to be around you." "You'd feel miserable." All sorts of good things there. I mean, all sorts of good answers.

Then we looked at the quote again.

He doesn't just say "If you happen to notice other people's faults", or "If you occasionally mention the faults of others". No. He says if you busy yourself with those things, then this curse will fall on you. Stress on the word "busy". In other words, if you constantly dwell on this.

All right. What would happen if you did this? What if you always talked about other people's faults, all the while ignoring your own? What do you think would happen? "Well, your friends wouldn't want to be around you." 'Your co-workers would complain to your boss about this." "You would probably feel horrible always seeing the bad in others, and probably worry about it." "Hey, that could literally make you ill." 'Yeah, you'd be really miserable."

In other words, all those things that were mentioned as the result of being under a curse would naturally occur as a result of this bad habit. Hmmm. You would be, in a sense, cursed by God as a natural result of your actions, sort of like having your hand burned by touching a hot stove. It's not an imposed punishment, but a natural effect.

This is how I see most of the effects mentioned in the Faith. "You do this, and you will suffer that." Why? Because that is how nature works. Similarly, "You do this other thing, and these wonderful benefits will happen." Hooray for us.

Now, looking at this quote in the Kitab-i-Aqdas again, what would be the results of defending the rights of a religious minority, for if we are honest with ourselves, the Baha'i Faith is still a minority pretty much everywhere? What if a king were to rule with equity, justice, mercy, compassion and kindness?

Can we not see how this king would be blessed? Wouldn't their kingdom prosper? Wouldn't all the people glorify such a king? Oh yes, a ruler such as this would be "the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world."

And yes, I would be very willing to offer up my substance, my wealth, and my very life to aid such a ruler in so noble a task.