Bahá'í Library Online
. . . .
>>   Essays and short articles
TAGS: Christianity; Interfaith dialogue
> add tags

Facilitating Spiritual Joy:
Workshop on Christianity

by Ted Brownstein

previous chapter chapter 2 start page single page

Chapter 3

Facilitating Spiritual Joy
A Biblical Introduction
To The Writings of Bahá'u'lláh

Part III

As our world becomes a global village, there is a striking need for a vision of unity that transcends the barriers of nationalism, racism, sexism and other forms of elitism. Human attempts to change society without personal spiritual transformation are doomed to fail. The spiritual teaching of the sovereignty of God and the brotherhood of man are essential to our eternal salvation and improving the quality of life on our planet. Love, peace and unity must be built from the bottom up, starting with personal transformation and then radiating outward into family, community, nation and ultimately the entire planet. (Romans 12:2)

The inspirational ideas presented here are by and large a compilation and distillation of the thought of spiritual teachers who have appeared on earth throughout human history. Our western heritage is Judeo-Christian, built on the teachings of Moses and the Prophets, and centered in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Accordingly, this course relies on the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments along with Bahá'í Scripture for its inspiration. In order to convey, as much as possible, the power of expression of the words of the Prophets, this course contains numerous references, both quotations from and paraphrases of the Holy Writings. The use of paraphrase is a response to modern tastes for simple and concise language.

Bible quotations are from the New King James Version. (NKJV)

This Biblical introduction to the Bahá'í Faith, of course, can only be, just that, an introduction. Spiritual growth is a life long process. To all those who long after the Spirit, it is hoped that your search will be successful. May you find peace, happiness and great joy.

The Author

Group Study
These materials may, of course, be read individually, but they are primarily intended to used be used for pair study. For larger classes, divide the group up into small groups of two or three and assign several sections to each group. They should read the paragraphs aloud and discuss the underlined questions. It is generally best to finish a chapter before discussing any additional questions that come to mind. If the group is so inclined, they may opt to look up the cited Bible verses. Controversy should be strictly avoided. A loving and warm spirit should be maintained during all such discussions.
The Search For Spiritual Joy

Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice. Let them ever shout for joy... Let them who love Thy name be joyful in Thee.
-- Psalms 5:11

A wise man once said, "Life is bittersweet." Good times are the sweet ones, filled with happiness, joy and peace. On the other hand, a measure of bitterness, sadness, anxiety and difficulty have always been part of the human experience. In recent years, life's problems seem to have multiplied. Many people feel overwhelmed by the stresses and pace of modern life.

What do you think? How can real happiness be found?

Spirituality paves the path to peace and happiness. It helps us to be thankful for the gift of life. It aids us to be at peace with ourselves, even under the most stressful circumstances. It is an anchor for the soul. (Hebrews 6:19) Without it we bob around like a toy boat on a stormy sea.

Have you ever felt like that?

The need is very great, everywhere in the world, for a true spiritual education. Spiritual education assists us to deal calmly and lovingly with economic, personal and family problems. But spirituality means more than being calm in the midst of the hurry and scurry of daily activities. It means having a good conscience; feeling good about ourselves with nothing to be ashamed of. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." (Matthew 5:6)

When a person responds to the blessings of God, the heart is happy, the spirit is exhilarated. These are the spiritual responses which express themselves in the deeds and actions when his heart is filled with gratitude. Spirituality means appreciating the bounties of God and the beauties of nature; with its lofty mountain tops, azure seas, starry night skies, deep green forests and delightful animals. It means being filled with the delicious taste of being alive.

What is your personal experience? Which of these things make you feel closer to God? A calm attitude? Having a good conscience? Feeling thankful? Being in nature?

Most importantly, spirituality ennobles the human spirit and develops higher human capacities. Faith opens the door to eternal life and shows us the way to live in joy and love.

Prayer and Communion with God
There is nothing sweeter in the world of existence than prayer. Prayer is communion with God; a source of great joy and training for the heart. Through devotional prayers and meditations the heart is strengthened in the love God and gains capacity to deal compassionately with fellowmen. Millions of people have found that taking a few moments each day for prayer helps to focus their thoughts on the things of the Spirit and creates a tranquillity that makes it easier to deal with the cares of the day.

Consider the following prayer for inner peace:
"O God! Refresh and gladden my spirit. Purify my heart. Illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hand. Thou art my Guide and my Refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God! I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God! Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord." (Abdu'l-Bahá)

Over time, such prayers for joy and freedom from anxiety will transform your soul. When combined with daily study of the Word of God, each of us can acquire true wisdom. Such wisdom when put into practice in daily life builds a personal foundation for a happy life.

What do you think? What is the value of prayer and how can it contribute to your spiritual growth? What has been your personal experience with prayer?

Love is the Purpose of Religion

Jesus Christ identified the two most important commandments. First is the love of our Creator, who is our Heavenly Father and the source of our being. Second, but absolutely essential, is love for our fellowmen, who are made in the image of God. (Matthew 22:37-40)

Genuine spirituality is the only solution to the prejudice, hatreds and wars that divide the human family. The Apostle John wrote: "Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love, does not know God, for God is love." (1 John 4:8) It simply is not possible to love God and hate our neighbor.

Why is love for fellowman essential for spirituality? How does hating other people interfere with our love for God?

What is the purpose of religion? Bahá'u'lláh, the Persian founder of the Bahá'í Faith wrote: "The purpose of religion as revealed from the heaven of God's Holy Will is to establish unity and concord amongst the peoples of the world; make it not the cause of dissension and strife. The religion of God and His divine law are the most potent instruments and the surest of all means for the dawning of the light of unity amongst men." (Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 129)

What do you think? What would the world be like if mankind recognized its unity before God?

If the purpose of religion is unity, why does religion always seem to stir up controversy? Why were the Prophets of God persecuted? Why was Moses exiled? Why was Bahá'u'lláh imprisoned? Why was Jesus opposed and put to death? Why do we sometimes experience opposition when we investigate religion? The answer can strengthen the soul and teach the heart wisdom. Often opposers are sincere and do not appreciate the spiritual value of God's Word. It takes kindness and patience on our part to reassure them. For the believers, tests of faith serve to refine the heart and to build up spiritual virtues. There is great reward for sticking up for what is right despite opposition.

Have you seen people persecuted for their religion? Why does this happen?

Jesus promised, "Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12) Similarly, Bahá'u'lláh promised, "Blessed is he who hath lain down his life in My path and hath borne manifold hardships for the sake of My name." (Tablet to the Christians, XXIV) If our friends or family oppose the cause of unity, we can take comfort and find joy in the knowledge of God's ultimate blessing.

What do you think? How is the heart trained by opposition? What are the spiritual benefits?

We Are Leaves of One Tree, Flowers of One Garden
'Abdu'l-Bahá, one of the central figures of the Bahá'í Faith, often compared our spiritual training to the growth of a garden. God is the gardener and humanity is the soil under divine cultivation. He wrote: "Then will the garden of your hearts bring forth its flowers of delightful fragrance to refresh the nostril of (God) the heavenly Gardener. Let your hearts reflect the glories of the Sun of Truth in their many colors to gladden the eye of (God) the divine Cultivator Who has nourished them. Day by day become more closely attracted in order that the love of God may illumine all those with whom you come in contact. Be as one spirit, one soul, leaves of one tree, flowers of one garden, waves of one ocean." (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 24)

In what ways is mankind like God's garden?
Educators of Mankind

"Thus saith the LORD...'I am the LORD thy God the one who teacheth thee to benefit thyself so that thy peace may be as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea.'" -- Isaiah 48:17-18

Nature teaches that the world is in need of an educator. If the earth is not cultivated, it becomes a jungle where useless weeds grow; but if a cultivator comes and tills the ground, it produces crops which nourish living creatures. It is evident, therefore, that the soil needs the cultivation of the farmer.

If a man is left alone in the wilderness, he will take on the ways of the animal. If he is educated, he can reach the greatest heights of accomplishment. Were it not for educators, there would be no civilization.

What do you think? What is the value of education?

Divine education is of the Kingdom of God. It promotes honesty, righteousness, justice, wisdom and love. It leads humanity to improvement of character. Since mankind is made in the image of God, man has the potential to acquire godly qualities, divine perfections. But in order to develop that potential, a qualified teacher must show the way.

What do you think? Are people capable of educating themselves without divine teachers?

One such educator was Abraham. He was born into a society that worshipped nature as the sun god, the storm god and so forth. Alone and without help Abraham instructed the people in the worship of the True God.

Moses freed the nation of Israel from the chains of slavery, brought them out of Egypt and into the Holy Land. He taught them to worship the One God, reject idols and obey the Ten Commandments. Throughout his life, Moses faced opposition from Egyptians and fellow Israelites, but nothing could stop him. He was guided by a supernatural power to educate the people for the challenges of those days.

It is clear that human power cannot accomplish so great a mission. How could one solitary man without help and without support overcome mighty nations and teach with such marvelous wisdom? He must depend on the help of the spiritual and divine power. One Holy Soul can change the world through the power of revelation.

What do you think? What did Abraham and Moses teach mankind?
Jesus Christ, the Son of God

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." -- John 13:34

Jesus was surely a Divine Educator. He was born of Holy Spirit. He was the Son of God. He came with lessons of love and forgiveness. He showed compassion for the weak and the sick. He taught us a lesson in God's love by shedding His blood on the cross in order to open the way to everlasting life. (John 3:16)

What do you think? What was the significance of the life of Jesus Christ? His teachings? His crucifixion?

Jesus' teaching released new creative energies. New hopes and new spiritual ideals were brought into being. As a result, the world was uplifted. He opened the way to the Kingdom of God. Historians record that Christ did more to advance human civilization than all the legislators and philosophers of past ages combined.

What were some of the lessons that Jesus Christ brought?

The early Christians spread Jesus' message of love. They taught the sacredness of life and the dignity of humanity. As soon as they could, they stopped the human sacrifice and the violence of the gladiatorial games that were common in the Roman Empire. Later they promoted education, built hospitals for the treatment of the poor, established charitable institutions and introduced juster laws into the Roman legal system. Such changes came about because of Christ's law was written on their hearts.

A new Christian civilization arose, one that was the best and most enlightened in the world at that time. Thus the transformative power of Jesus Christ as an Educator of Mankind can be clearly seen. (See Christ and Bahá'u'lláh, George Townshend, 21)

What effects do spiritual teachings effect have on society?

Jesus, like Abraham and Moses, had to deal with violent opposition. Eventually Jesus' opposers succeeded in crucifying Him. But God raised Him from the dead and His spirit is with us to this day. In life and in death, the Lord Jesus Christ was the Greatest Teacher and set an example for us to follow.

What do you think? Why was Jesus persecuted? How did He treat His enemies?

When Bahá'u'lláh was on earth, He glorified Jesus in the most poetic terms and encouraged the people to be awake to Christ's voice. The Bahá'í Writings make clear the unsurpassed station of Jesus in the unfolding of God's plan of salvation:

As to the position of Christianity, let it be stated without any hesitation or equivocation that its divine origin is unconditionally acknowledged, that the Sonship and Divinity of Jesus Christ are fearlessly asserted, that the divine inspiration of the Gospel is fully recognized...

"Know thou," Bahá'u'lláh has moreover testified, "that when the Son of Man yielded up His breath to God, the whole creation wept with a great weeping. By sacrificing Himself, however, a fresh capacity was infused into all created things. Its evidences, as witnessed in all the peoples of the earth, are now manifest before thee.

The deepest wisdom which the sages have uttered, the profoundest learning which any mind hath unfolded, the arts which the ablest hands have produced, the influence exerted by the most potent of rulers, are but manifestations of the quickening power released by His transcendent, His all-pervasive and resplendent Spirit.

We testify that when He came into the world, He shed the splendor of His glory upon all created things. Through Him the leper recovered from the leprosy of perversity and ignorance. Through Him the unchaste and wayward were healed. Through His power, born of Almighty God, the eyes of the blind were opened and the soul of the sinner sanctified.... He it is Who purified the world. Blessed is the man who, with a face beaming with light, hath turned towards Him." (The Promised Day is Come, p. 109-110)

What do the Bahá'í Writings say about Christ?

Bahá'u'lláh, the Glory of God

"The wilderness... shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God." -- Isaiah 35:1-2

Bahá'u'lláh a spiritual teacher who lived about 150 years ago. He was the Founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He brought the same message as Jesus Christ and taught how it should be applied to modern times. He proclaimed the nearness of an age of worldwide peace and brotherhood between all peoples. As a result He was severely persecuted and spent His life in prison and in exile.

His message emphasized three eternal truths. The Oneness of God, the Oneness of Humanity and the Oneness of Religion. During the past two thousands years, verbal battles have raged over religious differences. Often such conflicts lead to bloody wars. Each sect and denomination claimed to be the only path to God. Religious wars do not honor God but rather cause people to doubt the value of religion. Bahá'u'lláh called upon the religious leaders of the world to give up their claims to supremacy and to work together. By following in the footsteps of the Divine Educators, they could glorify God and benefit of all the people.

Are you familiar with the name of Bahá'u'lláh? What have you heard about him?

Bahá'u'lláh was an extraordinary individual who radiated love and warmth to all people. He spent His life teaching the love of God and His name means the glory of God in Arabic.

"Those who beheld Him were assured of His great happiness, for no trace of sadness or sorrow was ever visible upon His face. Even in prison He was like a king enthroned in majesty and greatness, and He ever bore Himself with supreme confidence and dignity." (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 383)

Bahá'u'lláh was born in 1817, the son of a Persian nobleman. He brought a divine message of love and righteousness to a nation that had lost its way. The original teachings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam had been abandoned over the centuries. Their governmental and religious institutions were corrupted. All elements of society were at odds. Yet even at that low point of history, a new age began. Bahá'u'lláh would instill life into a spiritually dead people and bring them back to life. He writes:

"This is the Day in which God's most excellent favors have been poured out upon men, the Day in which His most mighty grace hath been infused into all created things. It is incumbent upon all the peoples of the world to reconcile their differences, and, with perfect unity and peace, abide beneath the shadow of the Tree of His care and loving-kindness...Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead. Verily, thy Lord speaketh the truth, and is the Knower of things unseen. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 6-7)

What do you think? Has present day society lost sight of the spiritual values? Are we in need of a modern day renewal? What sort of a renewal would you like to see?

The Claims of Bahá'u'lláh
and Independent Investigation of Truth

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak. He shall show you things to come. (John 16:12-13)

When He was on the earth, Bahá'u'lláh made some extraordinary claims. He said that came to fulfill Christ's promise about the coming of the Spirit of Truth. He claimed to bring the divine teachings that the early disciples could not bear to hear, namely that all the major religions of the world have a divine origin. He claimed to have a new Revelation from God that could unite all mankind.

How can you determine if these claims are true? How can you determine if Bahá'u'lláh is the Divine Educator for this day?

The first principle of Bahá'u'lláh is independent investigation of truth. It is up to each individual to examine the facts for themselves with a prayerful heart and an open mind. Blind imitation of the past must be replaced by a willingness to follow the teachings of God into a new way of life. Only in this way can the divisions and hatreds of the past be overcome. Only in this way can unity and love reign supreme among all peoples regardless of race, religion or nationality.

How can you determine if Bahá'u'lláh's teachings are really from God and if he is the divine messenger that he claimed to be? How can you decide if His writings are the Word of God? One important step is to read His writings and experience the love and beauty they contain. Jesus said that His sheep would know his voice. In the spirit of love and devotion found in Bahá'u'lláh's writings we can hear the voice of the Shepherd. (John 10:27)

Another step that can be taken is to review the evidence that Jesus Christ fulfilled the promises of the Old Testament. For a Jewish person, living at the time of Christ, accustomed to the law of Moses, Temple worship and Jewish festivals, it would have been an incredibly large change to accept Christ. However, becoming a Christian did not mean abandoning Moses or giving up Judaism. Rather it meant investigating the claims of Christ to be the promised one that Moses foretold. Perhaps you were raised to believe in Christ, but what if you had not been? How would you know if Jesus the Nazarene was the Messiah?

This same pattern applies to investigating Bahá'u'lláh's claims to be the promised one that Christ foretold.

What promise did Jesus make? How is that promise similar to the one that Moses made? If you had been alive at the time of Christ how could you have determined if those claims were true. What claims did Bahá'u'lláh make? How can we determine if those claims are true?
Proofs of Christ

"And (Jesus) said unto them...'All things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.'" -- Luke 24:44

1) The prophet Micah foretold that the future king would be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2)

2) The prophet Hosea foretold that God's son would be called out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

3) The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Jesus would be rejected. Many would not believe on him. Others would hate and persecute him. Finally, he would be put to death as a sacrifice for the sins of the people. (Isaiah 53:1-12)

4) The prophet Malachi foretold that Elijah, who had been dead for many centuries, would return before the day of the Lord. (Malachi 4: 5) Elijah returned in a symbolic sense in the form of John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:13-14)

5) The Prophet Daniel foretold the time that Messiah would appear and die as 70 weeks of years or 490 years after the word went out to restore the Jerusalem Temple. (Daniel 9:25-27) The time count started with the edict of Artaxerxes in 457 BC and ended with Jesus' death in 33 AD.

Many more proof, in fact hundreds of proofs of this same sort, can be given that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God and the Divine Educator for his day. Now, let's turn our attention to the proofs of Bahá'u'lláh.

What do you think? What reasons were there to believe that Jesus was who He said He was? Which do you think are the strongest proofs?
Proofs of Bahá'u'lláh

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." -- Isaiah 55:8-9

Several wonderful books have been written that go into great detail on the subject of proofs of Bahá'u'lláh's mission. Christ and Bahá'u'lláh by George Townshend and The Prophecies of Jesus by Michael Sours contain a wealth of evidence. In order to confirm Bahá'u'lláh's divine mission to your own satisfaction, you are encouraged to prayerfully study all the available evidence and make a fully informed decision. Only a few, brief examples of proofs of Bahá'u'lláh's claims are given here.

1) Jeremiah foretold that God's throne would be established in the last days in Elam, that is, in Persia. (Jeremiah 49:38, 39) Bahá'u'lláh was born and began his ministry in Tehran, Persia. His kingdom was, like Christ's kingdom, a kingdom over the hearts of men.

2) Ezekiel foretold that the glory of God would appear from the East, coming to the house of God by way of the gate. (Ezekiel 43:4) Persia lies due east of Jerusalem.

3) Isaiah prophesied that the glory of God would appear in the northern part of Israel, around Mount Carmel (Isaiah 35:1-2). After a series of exiles, Bahá'u'lláh was imprisoned in 'Akka, now part of Haifa, Israel in the region of Carmel The Bahá'í World Center is located on Mount Carmel.

The prophet Isaiah also foretold that God would raise up a conquering king from the direction of the sunrise, the east. (Isaiah 41:2) The king would give his enemies to the sword (the word of God). He would do no harm but would pursue his enemies in peace. (41:3) Like Jesus, Bahá'u'lláh conquered his enemies with the sword of the Word of God (John 16:33, Romans 12:21, Hebrew 4:12) and renounced the use of physical weapons. (Matthew 26:52)

Bahá'u'lláh's conquests have been great. Despite forty years of persecution, imprisonment, exile and trials, he never showed any hatred to his enemies. He kept conquering evil with good. As a result, many victories have been won over the hearts of men. Now there are over 5 million followers of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh living in 300 nations, islands and territories.

4) The returned king would have a new, strange name, one that God would give him. (Revelation 3:12, Isaiah 62:2-3) The name of Bahá'u'lláh certainly sounds strange to many people and this strangeness has been like a cloud that blocks the vision of the beauty of the sun.

5) The Gospels speak of Bahá'u'lláh in a symbolic way. Because Bahá'u'lláh was so Christ-like in his teaching and suffering, his ministry could be called the return of the spirit of Christ. The Bible contains many examples of symbolic returns of past prophets. For example, John the Baptist was the return of Elijah. (Matthew 11:13-14) And Jesus was like the return of Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15) In a similar way, prophecies that speak of the return of Christ find their fulfillment in Bahá'u'lláh.

6) The prophet Daniel foretold 2,300 years which would include defilement of the "sanctuary." The 2,300 years would end with the victory of a spiritual king, "the Prince of Princes" (Daniel 8:13-14, 25-26). Once again the sanctuary is the congregation of believers who were "defiled" and in darkness by the lack of divine education and the Prince is Bahá'u'lláh. The time counted started in 457BC and ended in 1844.

The parallels between the life of Christ and the life of Bahá'u'lláh are truly amazing. The fulfillment of so many details of so many prophecies, of which we have mentioned only a few, provide sound evidence that God was backing the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh. Perhaps you are already convinced that Bahá'u'lláh is the Promised One of God for this day. If so, you are a Bahá'í in your heart and are invited to join the Bahá'í community for worship, study and fellowship. If you still have questions or these things sound strange to you, recall that Christianity sounded very strange when it was first preached. (Acts 17:19-10) You are invited to investigate further through personal reading and discussion with local Bahá'ís. It is vital to study these things for yourself that you too may be personally convinced of the glories of God's latest messenger. The spiritual benefits and joys of doing so are well expressed in Bahá'u'lláh's own words.

"Immerse yourselves in the ocean of My words, that ye may unravel its secrets, and discover all the pearls of wisdom that lie hid in its depths. Take heed that ye do not vacillate in your determination to embrace the truth of this Cause--a Cause through which the potentialities of the might of God have been revealed, and His sovereignty established. With faces beaming with joy, hasten ye unto Him. This is the changeless Faith of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Let him that seeketh, attain it; and as to him that hath refused to seek it--verily, God is Self-Sufficient, above any need of His creatures. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 136)

What do you think? How similar are the proofs of Christ with the proofs of Bahá'u'lláh? Which do you feel are the strongest proofs? What books can you read to further investigate Bahá'u'lláh?

The Bahá'í Writings

"By their fruits you will know them." -- Matthew 7:20

The best evidence for the new Divine Educator can be seen by the fruits of His teachings. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that every good tree produces good fruit and every bad tree produces worthless fruit. A rotten tree cannot produce good fruit. (Matthew 7:15-20) This is the true scriptural test of the divine origin of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh.

The beauty and spiritual wisdom of Bahá'u'lláh's Writings make them a joy to read. By studying them and observing the effects they have on ourselves and other readers, the fruits of righteousness can clearly be seen. Bahá'u'lláh wrote tens of thousands of books and letters. Two good books to begin with are the Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh and the Book of Certitude. You can obtain these either at the public library or from the local Bahá'is.

Below find short selections from these and other Bahá'í works that will give you a taste of their inspirational style and ethical content. You may like to use these quotations to create your own mini worship service." Set a reverent mood, by lighting a candle or playing background music. Then read the Words of Bahá'u'lláh aloud..

"O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. (The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 7)

"But, O my brother, when a true seeker determineth to take the step of search in the path leading to the knowledge of the Ancient of Days, he must, before all else, cleanse and purify his heart, which is the seat of the revelation of the inner mysteries of God, from the obscuring dust of all acquired knowledge, and the allusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy. He must purge his breast, which is the sanctuary of the abiding love of the Beloved, of every defilement, and sanctify his soul from all that pertaineth to water and clay, from all shadowy and ephemeral attachments." (Book of Certitude, p. 192)

"Religion, moreover, is not a series of beliefs, a set of customs; religion is the teachings of the Lord God, teachings which constitute the very life of humankind, which urge high thoughts upon the mind, refine the character, and lay the groundwork for man's everlasting honour.

"Note thou: could these fevers in the world of the mind, these fires of war and hate, of resentment and malice among the nations, this aggression of peoples against peoples, which have destroyed the tranquillity of the whole world ever be made to abate, except through the living waters of the teachings of God? No, never!

"And this is clear: a power above and beyond the powers of nature must needs be brought to bear, to change this black darkness into light, and these hatreds and resentments, grudges and spites, these endless wrangles and wars, into fellowship and love amongst all the peoples of the earth. This power is none other than the breathings of the Holy Spirit and the mighty inflow of the Word of God. (Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Bahá, p. 53)

"Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity. Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face. Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge. Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech. Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men. Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression. Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts. Be a home for the stranger, a balm to the suffering, a tower of strength for the fugitive. Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring. Be an ornament to the countenance of truth, a crown to the brow of fidelity, a pillar of the temple of righteousness, a breath of life to the body of mankind, an ensign of the hosts of justice, a luminary above the horizon of virtue, a dew to the soil of the human heart, an ark on the ocean of knowledge, a sun in the heaven of bounty, a gem on the diadem of wisdom, a shining light in the firmament of thy generation, a fruit upon the tree of humility. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh CXXX)

"Release yourselves, O nightingales of God, from the thorns and brambles of wretchedness and misery, and wing your flight to the rose-garden of unfading splendor. O My friends that dwell upon the dust! Haste forth unto your celestial habitation. Announce unto yourselves the joyful tidings: "He Who is the Best-Beloved is come! He hath crowned Himself with the glory of God's Revelation, and hath unlocked to the face of men the doors of His ancient Paradise." Let all eyes rejoice, and let every ear be gladdened, for now is the time to gaze on His beauty, now is the fit time to hearken to His voice. Proclaim unto every longing lover: "Behold, your Well-Beloved hath come among men!" and to the messengers of the Monarch of love impart the tidings: "Lo, the Adored One hath appeared arrayed in the fullness of His glory!" O lovers of His beauty! Turn the anguish of your separation from Him into the joy of an everlasting reunion, and let the sweetness of His presence dissolve the bitterness of your remoteness from His court. (Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 319-320)
previous chapter chapter 2 start page single page
Back to:   Essays and short articles
Home Site Map Forum Links Copyright About Contact
. .