Chapter 13   Chapter 15

Chapter Fourteen

The Departure. Abdul-Bahás Last Words In America. Seven Distinctive Characteristics Of The Teachings. Evidences Of The New World Order.

Every Christ came to the world of mankind. Therefore, we must investigate the foundation of divine religion, discover its reality, reestablish it and spread its message throughout the world so that it may become the source of illumination and enlightenment to mankind, the spiritually dead become alive, the spiritually blind receive sight and those who are inattentive to God become awakened.

Abdu'l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 444-445

The morning of December 5, 1912, witnessed a remarkable scene in one of the saloon cabins of the S. S. Celtic as she lay in the slip in New York harbor, yet how few realized its significance.

Here was a great modem steamship about to leave for Naples. As I went up the gang-plank I found myself in the midst of that indeterminate, indescribable rushing about; the bustling confusion of a departing liner. Friends saying a last good-bye; laughter with wet eyes; petty-officers bellowing orders; whistles from passing ferryboats; uniforms, business suits, rumbling baggage trunks, women, children--and the wintry sun bright over all.

I caught sight of several of my friends and joined them on their way to the large saloon cabin which seemed to have been given over to the farewell scene. Here the atmosphere was very different. True, the noises of the world without penetrated but were silenced by the serenity of another world. Here was Abdu'l-Bahá, His face a mosaic of beauty. His cream-colored robe fell to His feet. His fez slightly tipped, as I had grown accustomed to seeing it at times. In fact the position of that head-dress seemed to me often indicative of His mood--humorous, slightly tipped; welcoming, a backward slant; grave and serious, firmly on His crown of silvery hair; authoritative and commanding, slightly over His dome-like brow. These may be fanciful differentiations but much of my time during my many meetings with Him had been spent in silent watchfulness of that compelling figure, and many must have noted, as had I, that one of His most characteristic movements was the involuntarily lifted hand adjusting the fez to a new angle.

My memory recalls the scene as though yesterday my eyes beheld it. The large, low-ceiled saloon was crowded. At least one hundred, possibly more of the friends were there. The Persians who had accompanied Him to this country surrounded Him--more correctly speaking, were grouped behind Him. Indicative of the Oriental attitude toward the Master was the noticeable fact that never, under any circumstances, would one of them dream of standing in front of Him, or even beside Him, unless summoned or delivering a message. When walking always were they in the rear. Even when accompanied by only one, and conversing with Him, that one always walked an appreciable few inches behind Him. When speaking with Him they rarely raised their eyes to His face. In His presence they stood as before a king. How different the Western believer's attitude! Our boasted democracy has its windy aspects under any circumstances, but when in the presence of spiritual majesty humility is freedom.

Few of us found seats. The chairs and lounges were limited and we were many. The interpreter, who had long been His secretary and was now returning with Him, stood a pace behind Him. And then He spoke. For the last time, in this world, that beloved voice resounded in my ears. I have often mentioned the quality of that voice. Never shall it be forgotten by those who truly heard it. It had a bell-like resonance unapproached by any other. It seemed to carry with it the music of another world. Almost one could imagine an accompaniment of unseen choirs.

"This is my last meeting with you. These are my final words of exhortation. I have repeatedly summoned you to the cause of the unity of the world of humanity, announcing that all mankind arc the servants of the same God. Therefore you must manifest the greatest kindness and love towards the nations of the world, setting aside fanaticism, abandoning religious, national and racial prejudice.... Therefore if anyone offends another he offends God. God loves all equally. As this is true should the sheep quarrel amongst themselves? They should manifest gratitude and thankfulness to God, and the best way to thank God is to love one another.

Beware lest ye offend any heart, lest ye speak against anyone in his absence, lest ye estrange yourselves from the servants of God. Direct your whole effort towards the happiness of those who are despondent, bestow food upon the hungry, clothe the needy and glorify the humble. Be a helper to every helpless one and manifest kindness to your fellow-creatures in order that ye may attain the good-pleasure of God. This is conducive to the illumination of the world of humanity and eternal felicity for yourselves. I seek from God everlasting glory on your behalf; therefore this is my prayer and exhortation."[64]

After a reference to the war then being carried on in the Balkans, and the arresting sentence; in the light of what occurred two years later: "A world-enkindling fire is astir in the Balkans," He continued:--

"As to you: your efforts must be lofty. Exert yourselves with heart and soul so that through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine; that all men may become as one family; that the East may assist the West and the West give help to the East.

Consider how the Prophets who have been sent, the great souls who have appeared and the sages who have arisen among men, have exhorted mankind to unity and love. This has been the goal of their guidance and message. Consider the heedlessness of the world, for, notwithstanding the efforts and sufferings of the prophets of God, the nations are still engaged in hostility and fighting. How heedless and ignorant are the people of the world! How gross the darkness which envelops them! Although they are the children of a compassionate God, they continue to act in opposition to His will and pleasure. God blesses and protects their homes; they rage, sack and destroy each other's homes. Consider their ignorance and heedlessness!

Your duties are of another kind. for you are informed of the mysteries of God. Your eyes arc illumined, your ears are quickened with hearing. You must look towards each other and then towards mankind with the utmost love and kindness. You have no excuse to bring before God if you fail to live according to His command, for you are informed of that which constitutes the good-pleasure of God. You have heard His commandments and precepts. You must, therefore, be kind to all men; you muse even treat your enemies as your friends. You must consider your evil-wishers as your well-wishers. Those who are not agreeable towards you must be regarded as those who are congenial and pleasant; so that, perchance, this darkness of disagreement and conflict may disappear from amongst men and the light of the divine may shine forth; so that the Orient may be illumined and the Occident be filled with fragrance; nay, so that the Ease and the West may embrace each other in love and deal with each other in sympathy and affection.

Until man reaches this high station the world of humanity shall not find rest, and eternal felicity shall not be attained. But if man lives up to these divine Commandments, this world of earth shall be transformed into the world of heaven and this material sphere shall be convened into a Paradise of Glory.

It is my hope that you may become successful in this high calling, so that like brilliant lamps you may cast light upon this world of humanity and quicken and stir the body of existence like unto a spirit of life.

This is eternal glory. This is everlasting felicity. This is immortal Life. This is heavenly attainment. This is being created in the image and likeness of God.

And unto this I call you, praying God to strengthen and bless you."[65]

Such ideas and ideals have been expressed by all the noble ones of the past and present but at this great crisis in the history of mankind their implications are entirely different.

(1) They are not only exhortations; they are Commands. Note the recurrence of the word "must."

(2) They are characterized by their completeness (I here refer to the full and exhaustive revelations of Bahá'u'lláh and their practical exemplification by Abdu'l-Bahá) and their definite application to the needs of the hour.

(3) Never in the history of mankind has the mind of the average man been so matured and prepared to listen to, and to act upon them, nor so generally aware of the pressing, immediate need of their application.

(4) For at least 1300 years such ideals and commands have not found utterance through human lips by One Who not only spoke them but lived them.

(5) These Commands are addressed not to a select group, not to one nation or race, but to all peoples and individuals throughout the world, and the call is to form an entirely new WORLD order, a new type of International Civilization founded upon these Divine Revelations--for such is the unequivocal claim.--This World Order having been explicitly outlined, and directions given for its practical working, in the voluminous writings and detailed explanations of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá.

In order that the reader may have before him a picture of what this New World Order envisages, I quote a few words from The Goal of the New World Order written by Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, in 1931. He quotes from Bahá'u'lláh's Tablet to Queen Victoria, written about 1866, as follows:

"O kings of the earth! We see you adding every year unto your expenditures and laying the burden thereof on the people whom ye rule; verily this is naught but grievous injustice. Fear the sighs and tears of this Wronged One, and burden not your peoples beyond that which they can endure ... Be reconciled among yourselves, that ye may need armaments no more save in a measure to safeguard your territories and domains. Be united, O concourse of the sovereigns of the world, for thereby will the tempest of discord be stilled amongst you and your peoples find rest. Should anyone among you take up arms against another, rise ye all against him, for this is naught but manifest justice."[66]

And Shoghi Effendi comments as follows:

What else could these weighty words signify if they did not point to the inevitable curtailment of unfettered national sovereignty as an indispensable preliminary to the formation of the future Commonwealth of all the nations of the world? Some form of a world super-state must needs be evolved, in whose favor all the nations of the world will have willingly ceded every claim to make war, certain rights to impose taxation and all rights to maintain armaments, except for purposes of maintaining internal order within their respective dominions. Such a state will have to include within its orbit an international executive adequate to enforce supreme and unchallengeable authority on every recalcitrant member of the commonwealth; a world parliament whose members shall be elected by the people in their respective countries and whose election shall be confirmed by their respective governments; and a supreme tribunal whose judgment will have a binding effect even in such cases where the parties concerned did not voluntarily agree to submit their case to its consideration. A world community in which all economic barriers will have been permanently demolished and the interdependence of Capital and Labor definitely recognized; in which the clamor of religious fanaticism and strife will have been forever stilled; in which the flame of racial animosity will have been finally extinguished; in which a single code of international law - the product of the considered judgment of the world's federated representatives - shall have as its sanction the instant and coercive intervention of the combined forces of the federated units; and finally a world community in which the fury of a capricious and militant nationalism will have been transmuted into an abiding consciousness of world citizenship - such indeed, appears, in its broadest outline, the Order anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh, an Order that shall come to be regarded as the fairest fruit of a slowly maturing age.[67]

(6) During the 93 years since the Message was announced by the Báb, and in the 74 years since the public announcement of His Mission and station by Bahá'u'lláh, and--more noticeably--during the sixteen years since the establishment of the function of Guardianship and the inauguration by Shoghi Effendi of the administrative framework of the New World Order, the several millions of enrolled believers in all the countries of the world have been organized into a coherent, steadfast, self-sacrificing army which unreservedly accepts these commands as of divine origin and is prepared to obey them unquestioningly.

The attention of the thoughtful ones amongst statesmen, scientists and laymen has been noticeably aroused by this unprecedented phenomenon. Year by year this accelerated motion is increasing. There is therefore plainly to be seen growing up in the midst of a world of unrest, confusion and strife; a world of uncertainties and planless effort, the actual appearance of a new type of manhood; a new conception of government and citizenship; a new vision of the practical possibilities of human life upon this planet.

(7) To whatever cause it may be ascribed it is becoming increasingly apparent that many, if not all, of the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh are being accepted by the broader minds, the wiser statesmen of the world, irrespective of their knowledge of the life, or the acceptance of the station of their Originator.

The reader may desire, and is entitled to, a proof of the last assertion. Any complete quotations from men universally accepted as more or less qualified to speak intelligently of world affairs would require a large volume. The quotations given are only meant to be indicative of a trend of modem thought which any wide reading will substantiate.

"Cooperation muse be the leading thought. Not one country only but the world must be organized into one commonwealth. National armaments must disappear and only a sufficient police force remain to keep order. Those countries in which women are most active in public affairs are democratic and peace-loving."

Arthur Henderson, President of the Disarmament Conference
at a dinner given by the Women's Organizations of the Consultative Group.

Here two of the commands of Bahá'u'lláh are supported. Almost the exact wording of Bahá'u'lláh's command is used regarding the method to be followed in disarming. Also Bahá'u'lláh's Words regarding the station of Women in this Day are acknowledged as wise.

"The liberal scientific research--man's eternal search for truth in its vase, ever-changing forms--cannot be too highly encouraged and praised."

Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden.
From his address at the Spring Festival, Uppsala University.

This may seem a commonplace to the reader: but when it is remembered that when Bahá'u'lláh first voiced the Command that the "Independent investigation of Truth" is the first requisite in a divine civilization, such an idea was generally unacceptable. When I was a boy an energetic controversy waged for some years over whether Darwin's theory of the Origin of Species could possibly be accepted since it seemed to contradict the story of man's origin as given in Genesis. And I seem to remember that even today a certain State in this enlightened country of ours still has a statute quite rigidity enforced, which is based not upon whether the theory of evolution has an element of truth, but upon whether it can be justified by a prejudiced and ignorant interpretation of words written some thousands of years ago. Galileo, Roger Bacon, Copernicus lived not so long ago and we still have with us the Index Expurgatorius.

It is an unquestioned fact that prior to the middle of the 19th Century the final decision as to what constituted Truth was almost exclusively in the hands of ecclesiastics, and the pursuit of science untrammeled was difficulty to say the least. Not until Bahá'u'lláh issued His Commands relative to the oneness of science and religion did the freedom of the mind attain its birth. Coincidence if you like, but there it is.

"The present time is not an economic revolution but a spiritual revolution. We, the people of today, are passing through the most momentous and far-reaching changes that have taken place since the beginning of recorded history. Science has made us the undisputed masters of all the forces of Nature. There is enough grain to feed everybody. There is enough wool to clothe everybody. There is enough stone and mortar to house everybody. And yet the picture all around us is one of vast hopelessness and despair.

Something therefore must be wrong with the picture! That is what we say. Would it not perhaps be a little fairer to confess: "Something is wrong with ourselves?"

`To have or to be!' I shall submit that terrific sentence to all who have eyes to see and ears to hear and that true spiritual courage that is the basis of all permanent progress."

Hendricks Van Loon. "To Have or to Be."

"It may be that, without freedom from one's self, all other freedom is vain. . . Perhaps in the deeper realization of our inevitable brotherhood, perhaps in our increased awareness of values other than material, there may be the germs of a lasting faith by means of which the diverse peoples of this nation may be united in a common purpose. . . .We need a unifying faith by means of which some part of the responsibilities that we are now carrying may be lifted from us, in the light of which our way may be made clearer before us."

Margaret Cary Madeira. Atlantic Monthly.

"No system of human relationships can succeed if operated in the attitude and with the intention of mutual exploitation.

Any system will succeed if operated in the spirit of mutual service; indeed, in this spirit the need of systems would disappear."

Jas. H. Cousins. The Young Builder.

"In all these spheres--the economic, the racial, the international, which in many places overlap--there are signs that the golden age is dawning. It will not come automatically. It will come, as reforms have always come, because some heroic souls count not their lives dear in order that they may translate from the ideal to the actual those truths by which Jesus Christ lived and for which He died."

D. G. W. Stafford, of University Temple, Seattle,
at the Institute of World Affairs.

"Not only in relation to our physical needs but in relation also to our mental needs does our new interrelated civilization play a vital part. Spiritually we cannot go back to the water-tight divisions, to the narrow loyalties, to the little sectarianisms which characterized the old way of life.

A new and wider trail has been blazed; and while there will undoubtedly be an occasional loss of direction, as there is at the present moment, the trend toward a world economy and a planetary consciousness is too definitely under way to be permanently reversed.

Raymond B. Fosdick. Scientific American.

It would be possible to continue such quotations almost indefinitely, and to cap each one with the definite command of Bahá'u'lláh; but surely any unprejudiced mind, after even a cursory study of the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-Bahá, will find innumerable examples of the fulfillment of their commands in the daily press, current magazines, the announcements from laboratory, national council chambers, the work rooms of inventor, and mechanic; "Whether we look or whether we listen" we see and hear on every hand the fulfillment of Their Words, the obedience to Their Commands.

While Abdu'l-Bahá was in this country He said to one who mourned the conditions prevailing throughout the world, then in far less distress than now, that we should not be disturbed, that whatever may occur in the future we must know always that nothing happens that does not forward the Kingdom of Bahá'u'lláh. His Will is supreme.

Speaking in Montclair, N.J., June 23, 1912, Abdu'l-Bahá said:

None of the Prophets of God were famous men, but They were unique in spiritual power. Love is the eternal sovereignty. Love is the divine power. By it all the kings of earth are overthrown and conquered. What evidence of this could be greater than the accomplishment of Bahá'u'lláh? He appeared in the East and was exiled. He was sent to the prison of Akká in Palestine. Two powerful despotic kings arose against Him. During His exile and imprisonment He wrote Tablets of authority to the kings and rulers of the world, announcing His spiritual sovereignty, establishing the religion of God, upraising the heavenly banners of the Cause of God.[68]

Again speaking at a dinner in Washington, D.C., April 22, 1912, only ten days after His arrival in this country, He said:

Today in this meeting we have an evidence of how Bahá'u'lláh through the power of the love of God has exercised a wonderful spiritual influence throughout the world. From the remotest parts of Persia and the Orient He has caused men to come to this table to meet with the people of the West in the utmost love and affection, union and harmony. Behold how the power of Bahá'u'lláh has brought the East and West together. And Abdu'l-Bahá is standing, serving you. There is neither rod nor blow, whip nor sword; but the power of the love of God has accomplished this.[69]

The point I am endeavoring to make is this: That Bahá'u'lláh lays claim to a Divine Power which overrules men and nations; that this Power is the power of the Love of God; that everything that is happening in this world today is evidence of that overruling Power; that investigation of the Commands and foresight of Bahá'u'lláh and His Exemplar compared with the events transpiring in the world since 1853 will bear testimony to the effectiveness of that Power, and finally, that there is unmistakable evidence on every hand; in every quarter of the globe; amongst every type of mind and every activity, that world opinion is moving with accelerated motion into line with a world order exactly corresponding to the plan outlined by Bahá'u'lláh, promulgated and exemplified by Abdu'l-Bahá, and now, at this very moment, being organized, administrated and operated by His grandson, Shoghi Effendi, from the international center at Haifa, Palestine.

What, then, is the complete picture of the situation? It is beyond the bounds of the human mind to give this picture in its fullness, and beyond the limits of this book even to portray so much of it as is within these bounds. But enough has been pointed out to allow for a brief and graphic picture of its essential elements.

We see a small group numbering several millions of souls, scattered in all parts of the world, composed of every nation, race and creed, without reservation accepting Bahá'u'lláh as the Supreme Law-giver for the world organization of a new order of civilization, and ready to sacrifice all, even to life itself in His service. Balancing this, and working in complete harmony with it, we see the League of Nations gradually coming into line with these Laws; we see world opinion coming to a realization that such laws are indispensable if any true civilization is to exist, and we see the framework of that new order actually growing rapidly before our very eyes under the administration of Shoghi Effendi. Let him who reads investigate with open mind and ask himself whether such a movement may with wisdom be neglected.

To return to the scene on the S. S. Celtic. When Abdu'l-Bahá had finished His brief talk He requested all present to come to Him that He might take their hands in a parting expression of His love. How impressive that scene, how filled with a significance beyond words to express, how fragrant with an atmosphere of a world far removed from the sordid world around us, may only be intimated.

We slowly passed in front of Him. To each He gave a handful of the flowers massed near Him--of which, by the way, none remained when He had finished--and to each He spoke a few words of love and encouragement. When my own turn came I again forgot all but His nearness and the overwhelming fact that never again in this world would I see Him, or hear that beloved voice. I impulsively dropped to a knee, raised His hand with mine and placed it upon my head. Never shall I forget the relaxation of that arm and hand. It made no move of itself. It was a dead weight in my clasp. But His face was illumined with transcendent light.

Here was my final, indelible impression of that supreme humility, evanescence, servitude and love which ever characterized His slightest act, and which never failed.

The friends gathered on the wharf looked up at the figure of their Master as the ship slowly moved into the river. Abdu'l-Bahá stood at the rail. His white hair and beard moved by the breeze. His erect, majestic figure outlined clearly. In His hand I noticed the rosary which was His constant companion. His lips were moving. I could easily read those lips. "Alláh'u'Abhá!" "Alláh'u'Abhá!" "God the Most Glorious!" "God the Most Glorious!"

Chapter 13   Chapter 15

Home ][ Sacred Writings ][ Bulletin board
Primary sources ][ Secondary sources ][ Resources
Links ][ Personal pages ][ Other sites

Google distinguishes accents, e.g. "Babi" and "Bábí"
return different results. See more search tips.