Chapter 14   Chapter 16

Chapter Fifteen

By Their Fruits Shall Ye Know Them. Four Tablets.

"If ye believe in Me I will make you the friends of My soul in the Realm of My Greatness and the companions of My Perfection in the Kingdom of My Might forever."


It was about two or three months after Abdu'l-Bahá had left America that I came into the realization, a conviction which has never since wavered for an instant, of the respective stations of the BabBáb, as the "First Point" of Light on the horizon of the New Day; of Bahá'u'lláh, "The Glory of God," as the "Manifestation of the Lights of the Essence in the Mirror of Names and At-tributes," and of His Son, Abdu'l-Bahá as the Center of His Covenant, the divinely appointed exemplar, the perfect Man, whose mission it was to manifest the beauty of holiness in the station of perfect servitude to God and man--"I am the servant of the servants of God."

Strangely enough this conviction was the direct out-come of spiritual service. It became overwhelmingly apparent that for the first time in my ministry I was able, in a deeply transforming manner, to assist souls struggling in the grasp of temptation, sorrow, perplexity of mind and confused with all the intricate problems of life and death.

A spiritual intuition seemed to have been born--undoubtedly derived from the sublime Words upon which my spirit had been feeding for many months, and still more from the personal teachings and example of Abdu'l-Bahá, that gave to those words that poignancy--which attracted and melted hearts. I suppose the old terminology might have used the term: "the gift of the Holy Spirit" to describe this marvelous happening. All that I know is that it was an entirely new and very humbling experience.

The teachings and example of Abdu'l-Bahá colored and influenced all relations with my kind. I saw even my weak attempts to adapt the teachings I had received to the needs of individual souls result so effectually that I was filled with a sensation of mingled awe and joy so new, so overwhelming, that I was carried as if on a torrent of absolute conviction into such an atmosphere of certitude that every vestige of my former doubts and uncertainties vanished as if they had never been. A Voice whispered across the ages in my deepest soul: "Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs from thistles." When one sees with his own eyes human souls awakened, hearts touched with a divine afflatus, lives deeply affected, sorrow transformed into content, inward strife and turbulence calmed, by the Words taken from the prayers and explanations of these Divine Ones, and applied like a soothing ointment to the wounds of the soul, to doubt the Spirit from which" they emanated would have been to doubt all the prophets of the past; would have been to cast discredit on the Sermon on the Mount and on all Christian tradi-tiontradition. "If this is not of God," I said to myself, "then there is no foundation for faith in God. I would rather be wrong with this great Faith than seemingly right with all the doubters and cavilers in the world." From the very depths of my being there came the cry as uttered by the firm believers of old: "My Lord and my God!"

Moreover, in my own life such a new orientation occurred that all events and circumstances; all thoughts and expressions; all people and conversations acquired a new significance and a new purport. It seemed as though there gradually took shape, underlying the smallest as well as the more important events of daily life, a something solid, an assurance of it all being well in spite of outward seeming, which transformed the world. "He had set my feet upon a rock and established my going."

I remember that one of the members of my family greeted me one morning, as I entered the room, with the surprised ejaculation: "Well, what's the good news?" I suppose my face and bearing was that of one who had just received the announcement of exceeding good fortune.

The meaning of the Words which I had so often quoted in the more or less perfunctory manner of the theologian came to me with a novel and striking significance: "Behold I bring you glad tidings of great joy!" And the words of Bahá'u'lláh expressing this same source of supreme happiness: "This is that which is the spring of all the gladness of the world."

But it was undoubtedly the receipt of a third Tablet from the Master which completed my subjugation. I quote it simply with the prefatory remark that all communications from Abdu'l-Bahá are universal and may be read by any soul and applied to himself if he fulfills the conditions of the sincere seeker.

"O thou my heavenly son:

Thy letter was received. It was a rose-garden from which the sweet fragrances of the love of God were inhaled. It indicated that you have held a meeting with the utmost joy and fragrance.

Your aim is the diffusion of the light of guidance; the resurrection of the oeaddead hearts, the promotion of the oneness of the world of humanity and the elucidation of Truth. Unquestionably you will become confirmed therein and assisted by the invisible powers.

I have prayed on thy behalf that thou mayest become the minister of the Temple of the Kingdom and the herald of the Lord of Hosts; that thou mayest build a monastery in heaven and lay the foundation of a convent in the Universe of the Placeless; in all thy affairs that thou mayest become inspired by the Breaths of the Holy Spirit, and that thou mayest become so illumined that the eyes of all the ministers be dazzled by thy brilliancy, and may long to attain to thy station.

Thou an always in my memory. I shall never forget the days of our meeting.

Endeavor as much as thou canst that thou mayest master the Principles of Bahá'u'lláh, promulgate them all over that continent, create love and unity between the believers, guiding the people, awakening the heedless ones and resurrecting the dead.

Convey on my behalf the utmost longing to all the friends of God.

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious."

(Signed) Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas.

Aside from the apparent fact that this letter was a call, a summons, a Trumpet-peal from a higher realm to advance--to "come along up" the meaning, the inner significance, of some of the phrases used eluded me completely at the time and still remain only dimly apprehended.

"Assisted by the Invisible Powers"--"Minister of the Temple of the Kingdom"--"A monastery in heaven"--and a "convent in the Universe of the Placeless"--what could such strange phrases mean?

As the years have passed and more and more thoroughly I have become impregnated with the Divine Utterances of Bahá'u'lláh and Abdu'l-BaháaBahá meaning has emerged, elusive yet definite; vague yet alluring beyond words in its appeal to the spirit. What if the orchestra is veiled behind its screen of divine roses, is the music less entrancing, or the certainty that there is an orchestra there less convincing because of that?

In order that the reader may inhale the perfume from those roses and, perchance, hear with the inner ear the strains from that hidden orchestra, let me quote two passages from the Words of Abdu'l-Bahá'.

On April 30th, 1912, He spoke in Chicago, at a meeting of the Bahá'í Temple Unity Convention. From this I quote:

"Among the institutes of the Holy Books is that of the foundation of the Divine Temple. This is conducive to unity and fellowship among men. The real Temple is the very Law of God, for to that all humanity must resort, and that is the Point of Unity for all mankind. That is the Collective Center. That is the cause of accord and unity of the hearts. That is the cause of the solidarity of the human race. That is the source of eternal Life. Temples are the symbols of that uniting force, in order that when people gather there in a given edifice of God, in the House and Temple of God, they may recall the fact that the Law has been revealed for them and that the Law is to unite them. That just as this edifice was founded for the unification of mankind, the Law preceding and creating this Temple was issued therefortherefore."[70]

Again: Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to an American believer who had asked regarding her membership in a Christian church:

"Know thou: in the day of the Manifestation of Christ many souls became portionless and deprived because they were members of the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem. Because of that membership (standing for exclusiveness and prejudice) they became veiled from His Brilliant Beauty. Therefore turn thy face to the Church of God, which consists of divine instructions and merciful exhortations.71 For what similarity is there between the church of stone and cement, and the Celestial Holy of Holies? Endeavor that thou mayest enter this Church of God. Although thou hast given oath to attend the (material) church, yet thy spirit is under the Covenant and Testament of the spiritual, divine Temple. Thou shouldest protect this. The reality of Christ is the Words of the Holy Spirit. If thou art able, take a portion thereof."[72]

Does not a new significance attend the words of John the divine, as he attempted to portray in symbolic words the coming of the Kingdom upon earth? "And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty is the Temple of it." "And the CiryCity had no need of the sun for the Glory of God did lighten it."

(Let it be remembered that the literal translation of the title "Bahá'u'lláh" is "the Glory of God.")

To be a "minister" of the Temple of this Kingdom, then, is simply to be an adherent and promulgator of the Law of Unity and Love laid down as compulsory upon all sincere believers in the One God; to be assisted by the "Invisible Powers" is to be surrounded by those eternal forces which ever support the courageous warriors for Truth; to build a "Monastery in Heaven" and a "Convent in the Universe of the Placeless" is to build such spiritual fortresses of detachment and severance for the souls of men that "while living upon the earth they may truly be in heaven."

To be such a minister is the prerogative of every believer in the Words of God and the sincere follower of His Light. What a glorious world this "mound of earth" will be when all men attain even to a glimmer of this Light!

Two months later a fourth Tablet was received which again opened Portals to Freedom into a world of increasing Light and Beauty.

"O thou my respected son:

The letter that thou hast written with the utmost love became the cause of perfect happiness. Truly, I say, thou art striving with heart and soul, to obtain the good pleasure of God. It is assured that this blessed intention will have great effect. The good intention is like an ignited candle whose rays are cast to all parts. Now, praise be to God, that thou hast manifested the utmost effort so that thou mayest light a candle of guidance in that region, plant a tree of the utmost freshness and delicacy in the garden of the world of humanity; call the people to the divine Kingdom; become the means of the progress of intellects and souls; gather the lost sheep under the protection of the Real Shepherd; cause the awakening of the sleepy ones; bestow health upon those who are spiritually sick; enlarge the sphere of human minds; refine the moral fiber of the people and direct the wandering birds to the rose-garden of Reality.

Rest thou assured that the Eternal Outpouring shalldescendshall descend upon thee, and the Confirmations of His Holiness Bahá'u'lláh shall encircle thee.

Convey to all the believers the wonderful `Abhá greetings.

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious."

(Signed) Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas
Mt. Carmel,
Haifa, Syria,
March 31st, 1914

Again a Call! Again a summons to dwell and work in a higher world!

There are three of these Commands--for as such I have always understood and accepted them--which particularly impressed me at the time, and which ever since have been a subconscious influence upon my meditations and activities. They are these: "Become the means of the progress of intellects and souls." "Enlarge the sphere of human minds." "Refine the moral fiber of the people."

It needs but the most cursory observation of average humanity to realize the static nature of its mind, its cumbrousness, its inability to move out of its chosen or enforced rut. The mental and spiritual "Sphere" in which most of us function is a very narrow one. Our horizon is limited by our personal interests. True, the student and philosopher go beyond this and pigeonhole their knowledge and pride themselves upon their "liberality" of view, but when it comes to action their horizon also is limited by personal considerations. I do not forget the saints and heroes of all time who have placed Truth above self, family and life. But neither do I forget that the portion of such has ever been the stake, the dungeon and the Cross. And, alas, it would seem that neither do "the simple ones whom men call savants" (as Bahá'u'lláh so trenchantly observes) forget it either. They follow Truth just so far as "her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace," but hesitate when the finger of scorn points or possessions are threatened, or family deserts.

Far be it from me to criticize or cavil at this fundamental quality of a nature common to us all. I simply point out this incontrovertible fact and that this attitude, according to the dictum of all the great and holy ones of the ages, is due to ignorance. Ignorance of the true nature of Life; ignorance of its infinite horizons; ignorance of its origins in the unimaginably distant past as well as of its equally unimaginable glorious future in "all the worlds of God."

It is this to which Abdu'l-Bahá refers when He calls one to "Become the means of the progress of intellects and souls," and "to enlarge the sphere of human minds."

As to His summons to "refine the moral fiber of the people": surely none may doubt the average flaccidity of that fiber. Our estimates of any moral issue are almost invariably decided by its personal reaction. If we test our sense of justice, for instance, by Bahá'u'lláh's definition: "Wert thou to observe justice choose for others that which thou choosest for thyself,"[73] how many of us would measure up? From the automobile driver in an accident whose first instinct is to blame the other party, to the judge on the bench whose decisions are apt to be colored by its political results, all are tarred by the same brush. And again the reason is to be found in the limited sphere of the mind. Those who do so are simply shortsighted. Their horizon is too narrow, too limited by immediate considerations, to see clearly the inevitable results. It is these results which have plainly been written on the pages of all history, the cumulative effects of which have now thrown the world into disastrous confusion and misery.

Surely if ever there were a greater need than this, that the moral fiber of the people be refined to a point where it shall be cleansed from those elements foreign to man's higher and divine nature, and He "stand forth pure and unsullied by the dross of selfishness" it would be difficult to find.

The most impressive of the Tablets received from Abdu'l-Bahá came to me just about the time of the outbreak of the World War, early in August of 1914. It is as follows:

"O thou respected personage:

Thy letter was received. Its perusal imparted to me great hopefulness, for from its contents it became manifest that through the ejects of thy entrance into the Divine Kingdom thou art progressing day by day.

When this progress shall become perpetual and continual, then thou shall find the Most Great Center in the Universe of God, and shall clearly behold the Confirmations of the Holy Spirit. Thou shalt be baptized in the Fountain of Life and shalt be freed from all the laws of the world of nature.

Thou shalt become illumined, merciful, heavenly--a radiant candle in the world of humanity.

Endeavor as much as possible to liberate thyself wholly from human susceptibilities--so that the powers of the Kingdom may gain control over thy heart and thy spirit--to such a degree that although thou art living on the face of the earth, yet thou mayest truly be in heaven; that although outwardly thou an composed of material elements, yet spiritually thou mayest become composed of heavenly elements.

This is the everlasting glory of man! This is the eternal sublimity in the world of existence! This is the never-ending Life! This is the Spirit incarnated in the heart of humanity!

Upon thee be the Glory of the Most Glorious."

(Signed) Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas
Home of Abdu'l-Bahá,
Haifa, Syria,
July 16th, 1914.

It seems impossible to imagine a higher mandate, a more provocative appeal, a more stimulating and suggestive contrast to ordinary ideals or modes of thought. There is a galvanic quality to such phrases as "Find the Most Great Center in the Universe of God," "Be freed from all the laws of the world of nature," and "Liberate thyself wholly from human susceptibilities." And what shall be said regarding the hope emphatically proffered that under certain conditions it is possible that the "Powers of the Kingdom," those higher Laws and their active exponents of a Celestial World, may so "gain control" of one's being that he may actually become composed of different and holy elements, and may walk this world outwardly its denizen but inwardly guided and motivated by influences and powers emanating from a far higher and more real world.

It is possible that the reader may consider such ideas as fantastic. Nor should that be an incomprehensible attitude unless he has some knowledge of the lives and teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and His Son, and--I may emphatically add--the lives and martyrdoms of thousands of their followers and lovers.

As for myself: I have seen with my own eyes a Life so far above the sort of life lived by the ordinary man that any comparison based on its activation by ordinary motives is incredible. Abdu'l-Bahá certainly revolved around a "Center" vastly different from the ego-centeredness of mankind. He, while outwardly clothed in man's habiliments, inwardly was palpably clothed with the "characteristics of God." So plainly was He free from "all the laws of the world of nature" and liberated from captivity to "human susceptibilities" that one could not be in the same room with Him and not feel the atmosphere of a higher, calmer, nobler world radiating from Him.

What, then, shall be our reaction when He calls us to join Him in that World of the Spirit? One of only three attitudes seems to be possible: (a) He was a visionary, an impractical idealist and not to be taken seriously. (b) He was unique in type and capabilities and spoke and acted from a background of wisdom and capacity unattainable by other men. (c) He was a Herald of a World of Reality of which this phenomenal world is like an upside-down reflection; a Summoner to all men to leave the seeming and live on the plane of the Real; an Exemplar to humanity that such an utter alteration of orientation is not only possible but imperative if any measure of happiness, tranquility, wisdom and prosperity is to be attained.

Let us examine each of these possibilities, for there are no others and we must decide on one of them, unless we are willing to dodge the issue entirely and refuse to think.

(a) Abdu'l-Bahá's whole life contradicted this assumption that He was a visionary, an impractical idealist. When He addressed the student body at LeiandLeland Stanford University He was introduced by its president, David Starr Jordan, in these words: " Abdu'l-Bahá will surely unite the East and the West for He treads the mystical "way with practical feet." He was a successful businessman and was often consulted by other men, not believers by the way, as to the conduct of their businesses. One of His outstanding characteristics was a calm judgment in all material affairs; a poise in dealing with men and occasions of all kinds unrivaled by the most astute of captains of industry. He has been known to go into the kitchen and prepare a meal for His guests. He never failed in such small attentions as seeing that the room where His visitors were entertained contained every possible comfort, though He paid no attention to His own comfort.

In short, the slightest investigation into the facts will force the conclusion that our first hypothesis is untenable.

(b) That He was possessed of powers more than human and therefore we could not be expected to be like Him. This is the easy explanation. It is the "alibi" so often used by those who demand an excuse for the discrepancy between their ideals and actions. The modem term for this kind of thing is "rationalizing."

The difficulty of accepting it is that by its acceptance we automatically reject the teachings and example of all the great souls of the past and present. To those bred in the Christian tradition it means the placing of the Christ in the category of an unapproachable perfection and pay no regard to His constant reiteration of the necessity for "walking in His way," "loving one another as I have loved you," "taking up one's cross daily and following Me." It is also to disregard the philosophies of the noblest of mankind who make no claims to divine authority. Such men as Socrates, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, Emerson, and countless others whose lives have proven the possibility of approximating deeds to words.

And worst of all results from such a decision, or so it seems to the writer at least, is the degrading corollary that man's progress has ceased; that the present condition of the world, which is due to man's disregard of, and unbelief in, any such world as Abdu'l-Bahá intimates in the above Tablet, is the normal and unchangeable condition. It means that the "laws of the world of nature" are irrevocable' that is man's proper state for him "to be red in tooth and claw with ravin"; that there is no destiny beyond the grave and consequently no higher world of activity for which to prepare.

No! To me this is an unthinkable, a monstrous conclusion.

Let us examine without prejudice the third hypothesis, namely, that Bahá'u'lláh came into the world as the latest of the long line of Revelators of the Divine Will oft the express purpose of opening to men the world of Reality; to focus the attention of men upon a type of life, a sphere of activity which hereto fore has remained more of less in the background of men's effective energies, an that His Son, Abdu'l-Bahá, is the living proof of man's ability to live and move and work in that World of Reality and thus build in actuality that Kingdom on earth which Jesus told us to expect and for which He commanded us to petition.

To this writer such a hypothesis is not only satisfying but supremely rational and understandable. That there is such a sphere of action (Which is what is meant by the term "World") is abundantly demonstrated not only by the peaks of humanity but in varying degrees by every human soul. Man's selfishness ("that strange disease," as Abdu'l-Bahá designates it) has heretofore clouded that World, but within the last half-century more and more Its Light has shone. Our Red Cross society, our International Peace organizations, The League of Nations, even our Community Chests, are demonstrating its existence and influential power.

Bahá'u'lláh has simply called all men to make that sphere of action the realm in which they shall constantly and consciously move, speak and act. In effect he says to us: "You have tried it in a small degree, why not extend it to embrace every detail of life?"

In order that this may be accomplished, is it not plain that guidance is necessary? This complex world is very sick. It is dying from lack of a skilled physician. Its disease is so complicated, so affecting every part and organ, and the attending physicians--the statesmen, moralists and idealists--so ignorant of the underlying causes, that imminent dissolution is impending. Shall we come to the despairing conclusion that there is no wise Physician? Shall we supinely acquiesce that this dissolution is assured, and stand with watch in hand at the bedside of the dying patient awaiting the inevitable hour? Or shall we, possibly as a last desperate resort, if our faithless should so wish to call it, turn to One who at least lays claim to ability to diagnose and prescribe? One who declares over and over again in Words of matchless power and eloquence His Divine Power to heal? From many such I quote:

"That which the Lord hath ordained as the sovereign remedy and mightiest instrument for the healing of all the world is the union of all its peoples in one universal Cause, one common Faith. This can in no wise be achieved except through the power of a skilled, an all-powerful and inspired Physician. This, verily, is the truth, and all else naught but error." Bahá'u'lláh 74

And Abdu'l-Bahá says:

"The body of the human world is sick. Its remedy and healing will be the oneness of the kingdom of humanity. Its life is The Most Great Peace. Its illumination and quickening is love. Its happiness is the attainment of spiritual perfections. It is my hope that through the bounties and favors of the Blessed Perfection (one of the titles of Bahá'u'lláh) we may find a new life, acquire a new power and attain to a wonderful and supreme source of energy so that the `Most Great Peace' of divine intention shall be established upon the foundation of the unity of the world of men with God."

And not only does Bahá'u'lláh claim the ability to diagnose and heal, but also the Supreme Authority to command, to lead, to conquer.

O kings of the earth! The Most Great Law hath been revealed in this Spot, this scene of transcendent splendor. Every hidden thing hath been brought to light, by virtue of the Will of the Supreme Ordainer, He Who hath ushered in the Last Hour, through Whom the Moon hath been cleft, and every irrevocable decree expounded.

Ye are but vassals, O kings of the earth! He Who is the King of Kings hath appeared, arrayed in His most wondrous glory, and is summoning you unto Himself, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.

Bahá'u'lláh to the rulers.
Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 211.

Never in all the history of the Prophets of the past have such tremendous affirmations been made, such Divine Authority been claimed, such power demonstrated. And let us not forget that for forty years this sublime One bore the persecutions and tortures of cruel kings and priests; that He lived to see thousands of His devoted believers suffer the same fate, even unto death; that throughout all of this long period never did He cease proclaiming His Divine Mission with an inflexible determination and an unconquerable Majesty which humbled in the end even His worst enemies. Let those who have shed one drop of blood in upholding their ideal of Truth be the first doubters!

To those who see "with the eye of God," who possess that spiritual vision without which we are as "those who having eyes see not," is revealed that World of Reality whose "Most Great Center" is the Manifestation of God in this great Day of His Revelation.

We have been revolving around such limited centers, such petty interests, that our horizons have been circumscribed to such an extent that it is all but impossible for us to conceive a "Most Great Center" attaining to which we view the "Universe of God" spread before our wondering eyes, and scan a "Supreme Horizon" including all the sons of men; in the Light of which, the Glory of which, all problems are solved, all flames of strife extinguished in that unity and love which is the basis of the Laws of the universe.

Nevertheless, the Christs of the ages, the Guides and Leaders of mankind, have ever insisted on the reality, the supremacy of this Divine World. Let such as are men of courage and action obey and follow them!

In September of 1916, when the World War was at its height, and communication between the Orient and Occident was difficult, I received a postal-card from the secretary of Abdu'l-Bahá, containing His final Tablet to me. It was not signed by Him and the original has not yet come to my hand, so I transcribe the postal-card as I received it so that the record may be complete.

Haifa, Syria,
June 22nd, 1916.

"My dear brother in the Cause of humanity:

The reports of your services, your travels and lectures are most stimulating to the friends in the Holy Land and conducive to the happiness of the heart of Abdu'l-Bahá. He loves you and prays for your spiritual success and prosperity. He has revealed a wonderful Tablet in your name, the translation of which is the following:

O thou speaker in the Temple of the Kingdom!

Praise be to God that most of the time thou art traveling, going from city to city raising the melody of the Kingdom in meetings and churches, and announcing the glad-tidings of Heaven.

It is recorded in the Gospel that John the Baptist was crying in the wilderness: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His Paths straight, for the Kingdom of God is at hand."

He was crying in the wilderness, but thou art crying m populous cities. Although the ministers have brilliant crowns on their heads, yet it is my hope that thou mayest crown thy head with the diadem of the Kingdom--such a diadem whose brilliant jewels may illuminate the dark passages of future centuries and cycles.

God says in His great Book, Qur'án, "He especializes with His Mercy whomsoever He willeth." That is, God distinguisheth with His favor and bestowal a number of souls and marks them with His own seal of approval. A similar statement is revealed in the Gospel: "Many are called but few are chosen." Now, praise be to God that thou art one of those "few."

Appreciate thou the value of this bounty, and occupy thy time as much as thou canst in the diffusion of the fragrances of God."

Upon thee be greetings and praise.

(Signed) Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas.

Chapter 14   Chapter 16

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