Monday, July 29, 2019

p18wri My Review of the Movie "Yesterday"

p18wri My Review of the Movie "Yesterday"

by John Taylor; 2019 Jul 15

Our neighbour's prolific mulberry tree overhangs our back yard, raining down a shower of mulberries on the back part of our lawn. The standard way of harvesting mulberries is to lay down a sheet and shake the berries out of the tree. There were some old fibreglass sheets lying by our house that I had never found a use for, so I laid them under the tree and forgot about them until finally I collected the mulberries that had fallen on them all up in a 5 gallon bucket. More mulberries than I could handle all at once. They filled the sink but they stank because some lain long enough to ferment. So, having no use for mulberry wine, I had to mulch the whole lot.

By that time I was exhausted from this and other garden puttering, so I decided that this week I would pass on the weed and feed, where you work as a volunteer farm hand at Shared Harvest Farm for three hours for a vegetarian meal in exchange. The alternative for me was "welfare night" (Tuesdays are half price) at the Welland Cineplex. As always, it features two kid's movies, two teen comic book films, two teen horrors and one film for adults, and by adult I mean that I was the youngest person there. Everybody was either a senior, like me, or a senior senior, all old enough to remember when the Beatles were in their prime.

That, the Beatles, was the subject of the film in question, "Yesterday." It asked the question, "What would it be like if you, a failed, unpopular musician, entered a time warp where the Beatles never got together and only you and a couple of others, non-musicians, remembered their songs?" The musician tries to remember the Beatles opus, and the Beatles songs he purports to write are met with the adoration they deserve. The story goes on as you might expect a romantic story to play out.

The male lead does a creditable job of reproducing the all but universally forgotten songs of the Beatles, but he is almost too convincingly impervious to the charms of the female lead. It is one of the most difficult challenges in acting, I think, to play her role, because you have to make the whole audience fall in love with you in only a few minutes. Many, if not most, actresses in that demanding role fail miserably, or succeed with only part of the audience. In this case, she succeeds brilliantly and for that reason the whole movie works, its lesser flaws you want to forgive and forget.

The climax of the movie comes when the male lead, guided by the research of the two others who remember the Beatles, seeks out and meets the "troubled Beatle," who, he finds, has lived a long and fulfilled life. For that reason, the Beatles apparently never got together. Art demands blood and pain from its servants. From his point of view, he was much better off without the Fab Four ever coming about.

After the movie was over, I got into the car and turned on the radio, which was still tuned to the station to which I always gravitate, CBC French. They were playing a lovely violin concerto and I fell to wondering what would happen if that piece had never been written. We would get along, I guess, but the world is definitely richer for having it on the airwaves. I am no music fan and I disliked most popular songs, even many Beatles songs, when they first came out, and I still dislike most of it. That is why I prefer CBC French, because I am a neophile and given a choice prefer to hear music that I have never encountered before. The English music that dominates the radio dial is narrow in scope, packed with old music that, as I say, may be nostalgic but I did not particularly like it, even when it was new. But CBC French rarely disappoints with its old and new material.

My thoughts turned to my own writing career, such as it may have been. As an artist, maybe I am like that Beatle who never found the Beatles, and was better off for it.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

p24og, p10, p17 The Bab's Chiasm of King Philosopher, Philosopher King

by John Taylor
2019 July 13

"Speak truth to power," you often hear. This comes, perhaps, from Plato, who held that there is a natural affinity between the learned and the powerful. Plato himself attempted to personally act as counselor to a young king, and he failed spectacularly, at great personal cost. Nonetheless, the ideal utopia, he held, would be when it would be possible for the most learned, philosophers that is, to gain power. That would be the best kind of rule, rule of those who know, or philosopher kings. Or conversely, the powerful could learn to become philosophers, king philosophers, as it were.

This crossover between truth and power, then, was understood to be symbolized in the Greek letter chi (pronounced like the "ch" in loch), which looks like an "X". From that we get the word "chiasm," like the philosopher king, king philosopher, that we just discussed. One side is reflected in the other, which is highly attractive. God loves Himself more than anything else, since nothing else is worthy or capable of withstanding such intense adoration. This, God's self-love, is the uber-love, from which all other loves are mere derivations. Christianity latched on to this phenomenon in their symbolism of the cross, correctly divining that the affinity between the power and the love of God, omnipotence and munificence, met and commingled in the Person of His Manifestation.

The longing for linkage between love and power permeates all of nature. For example, it shows itself in the phenomenon of polarity in magnetism. An attraction is set up between opposite poles, negative and positive, while repulsion takes place whenever the polarities are the same, negative to negative, or positive to positive. Truth and power's crossover point always induces a field of attraction and repulsion, attraction of the opposite, repulsion from whatever is, or aspires to be, or purports to be, the same as it.

The Bab introduced the very word "Manifestation," or direct showing, of God. Before, the role of God's Messengers was to prophesy the coming of that sometime in the future. The Bab's title is Arabic for "gate." This Gate opens up a new chiasm, a world of spiritual revelation where the polarity opens up into twin Manifestations, whose love for one another was of an intensity not yet seen on this planet. The sign of this intensification of divine love will be a new liberality coming out of the confluence of those who know and those who act, philosopher kings and king philosophers. That may be why Baha'u'llah in the Suriy-i-Muluk, which was itself the ultimate "truth to power" statement, this section being addressed to Sultan Aziz, the proximate oppressor of the Manifestation, advised that all kings must, like God, be both just and liberal in compassionate action.

"It behoveth every king to be as bountiful as the sun, which fostereth the growth of all beings, and giveth to each its due, whose benefits are not inherent in itself, but are ordained by Him Who is the Most Powerful, the Almighty. The King should be as generous, as liberal in his mercy as the clouds, the outpourings of whose bounty are showered upon every land, by the behest of Him Who is the Supreme Ordainer, the All-Knowing." (Summons, 5.70, p. 213,

Sunday, July 07, 2019

p24 Crosses, a 2002 essay about the Baha'i principles, in which I discovered Google

Crosses; 10 December 2002

Dear Friends,

I ran across the word "chiasma" (also, "chiasm," or "chiastic") lately in a review of a book called "The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture." This was a word I didn't remember seeing. My high priced reference CD ROM dictionaries didn't have it. So I googled it. Google is a free, amazing service that uses gazillions of supercomputers to search the entire Internet. It is frustrating to pay for something and find out that is not as good as something that is free. 

The meaning of this word impressed me. The definition Google came up with is in a list somewhere of rhetorical devices.

"A type of rhetoric in which the second part is syntactically balanced against the first. For example, "There's a bridge to cross the great divide," and, "There's a cross to bridge the great divide."

It cites another chiasma by Coleridge: "Flowers are lovely, love is flowerlike." The word comes from chi, apparently the Greek letter that is shaped like an X or a cross. Recall that the Master explained that the cross is not only a religious symbol of Christianity but it is also an aspect of nature, a universal symbol of crossing over and sacrifice.

"Meditate upon these words and pay attention to the tissue in all existing substances, either plant, animal or man, and thou wilt see that they all are formed of the cross figure or two crosswise lines. Consider this intently with true meditation. Then thou wilt be taught by the Holy Ghost that it is for this reason that God hath chosen this symbol to be displayed as the token of sacrifice in all periods of ages. I will explain to thee, in future time, the mystery of sacrifice." (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets, v3, 598)

But this use of interstices in a rhetorical device hints at another meaning. Is the cross also a symbol of chirality, or handedness, of the bilateral symmetry that exists deep down in reality? 

If so, the word can summarize how I organize the Baha'i principles.

Each principle, I found after long and bitter experience, is best approached as a sort of hologram. Cut off a piece of hologram and you don't have a piece of the picture cut off, you have the whole picture, only dimmer. The Badi calendar works like this, and I guess it was sufficient reason after researching the principles so long for me a couple of years ago to be distracted and go through the days of the month and month of the year virtues of the Badi calendar first, before I felt ready to take on the principles. I organized it all as a chiasm, though I knew it not at the time.

Principle is a set of chiasms, each principle recapitulating all the others within itself. So for example for the principle of search for truth, I go through all the other principles from the point of view of search for truth. My upcoming, planned series on proofs of deity will use this chiasmic approach, in which I will try to bridge the cross and cross the bridge over the great divide of belief in deity. The final title in book form of all these essays might well be chiastic too, something like, "The Principles of Peace and Pieces of the Principles." Or maybe not.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

thea My Abdu'l-Baha-inspired approach to diet and purity

Here is a summary of my recent discoveries in diet, spirituality and the law of the Bab

by John Taylor
May 14, 2019

The distinctive feature of my whole food plant based diet (wfpb) is that it excludes SOS, salt, oil and sugar. "Why avoid salt?", somebody recently asked. Here is the summary of the research by Dr. Gregor:

How do you avoid salt? Here is what I wrote recently:

"We have a bi-weekly health class here in Dunnville, ON, run by a wfpb physician, and this is an issue we have discussed lately. There are dozens of herb mixes specially designed to replace salt. All you do is google "salt replacement spice mix" and you will get a plethora of mixes that you can make up on your own using the herbs and spices you have at home. Failing that, there are commercial mixes, like "Mrs. Dash," but they have msg in them, which some avoid (let us please not get into msg! The FUD on that is incredible, and Dr. Gregor has dealt with it). I had a bottle of herbs for this purpose, but I intentially used them up in a veggie roast lately, so that our group can make up our own mixes together. My plan is to make a large batch and hand out small bottles of it next meeting, so that the other members will have a baseline to work with. Next fall, we can use this summer's crop at Shared Harvest Farm to make a large batch of herbs tailored more exactly to our own palates."

All this begs the question, why is virtually everything you pick up in any store packed with salt? Why else? Profit. Someone on my FB wfpb group expressed the strategy succinctly:

"Salt, sugar and oil are extensively used by the food industry (food chemists) to engineer foods to be addictive. (ie Lays potato chips slogan, bet you can’t eat just one). If you are overweight, there is a good chance that food addictions are part of your story. Avoiding salt helps steer you away from getting caught in this “pleasure trap”, plus once you get used to tasting whole, unprocessed foods your tastebuds become more sensitive and you really don’t crave salt. Try celery if you are looking for a salty taste."

That "pleasure trap" is so effective, I think, because processed foods contain very little bulk, leaving you hungry no matter how much you eat of it. Then you crave to eat more, and more, until you are obese, inflamed and sickly. Kaching. You feel bad, and crave even more ersatz food. Kaching.

Abdu'l-Baha pointed out the best strategy to counteract such vicious cycles. "When you encounter a thought of war, counteract it with a stronger thought of peace." "When you find a thought of hate, oppose it with a stronger thought of love." (paraphrased from: Same thing with diet, when you feel a craving, counteract it with a salad and veggies. The bulk will feed the good bugs and starve the bad ones in your lower intestine, strengthening mind and body -- it actually increases intelligence! I have been having a big Kale and Arugala salad for the past few days and I find that I can string more complex thoughts together into longer sentences without the memory lapses that normally break up my speech. If you doubt my anecdotal experience, there is plenty of empirical, statistical backing for this:

There is also evidence that a veggie filled diet helps against depression, one of the most endemic afflictions in the world today.

Anyway, now that my intelligence is supercharged by my dietary choices, I can think more clearly about this approach of Abdu'l-Baha of opposing hate with stronger love. In diet, as I said, this approach is filling up our stomachs with real foods, ending that vicious cycle of cravings intentionally provoked by processed, non-plant based foods. In psychology, it is the same. Fill the mind with good thoughts, the kind that well fed good bugs promote in our brains. There is a tendency of our thoughts to take us down into a vicious cycle of warlike thinking called the negativity bias. Wikipedia defines it thus,

"The negativity bias, also known as the negativity effect, is the notion that, even when of equal intensity, things of a more negative nature (e.g. unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or social interactions; harmful/traumatic events) have a greater effect on one's psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things. In other words, something very positive will generally have less of an impact on a person's behavior and cognition than something equally emotional but negative. The negativity bias has been investigated within many different domains, including the formation of impressions and general evaluations; attention, learning, and memory; and decision-making and risk considerations."

This bias is even mentioned by Abdu'l-Baha at one point:

"Souls are inclined toward estrangement. Steps should first be taken to do away with this estrangement, for only then will the Word take effect." (

My mind has been blown lately by the realization that this vicious circle of negativity is worsened and weaponized by air pollution. This article produced by an investigative journalist working for the BBC shows how exposure to air pollution actually causes crime:

She sums up her findings in a short video called "How dirty air is polluting our minds," here:

This finding actually has helped me understand why such horrible crimes take place at all. Every day for the past six months I've been watching Law and Order, SVU, which is about the investigation of sex crimes. So, every day I see horrors that probably would never have taken place if we just kept our air and water pure, and ate a proper diet. Purity, spiritual and physical, was the special concern of the law of the Bab.

“The Báb emphasizes the cleaning and beautification of one’s clothing, and affirms that nothing abhorrent or distasteful should be seen in His kingdom. In gate 7 of the ninth unity the Báb prohibits the smoking of tobacco, and in the next gate He prohibits the use of opium and intoxicants. Gate 10 of the ninth unity ordains the purification of all things, including the purification of one’s heart, spirit, soul, and body.” (Nader Saiedi, Gate of the Heart, p. 318).

“Nothing is more dearly beloved in the Bayán than purity, refinement, and cleanliness…and in the Dispensation of the Bayán, God wisheth not to witness amongst humans that which is other than joy and radiance, and He desireth that all appear in the utmost spiritual and physical purity, that their own souls be not repulsed, how much less the souls of others.” (Persian Bayán, 5:14)

In the Arabic Bayán, the Bab prohibits the commodification of the natural elements of earth, air, fire and water. He requires that water be kept in a state of the utmost purity, a principle that clearly implies protection of the environment, just as His comments about adopting the scientific achievements of the West also point to the modernization of Iran." (Summarized from Saeidi, Gate of the Heart, pp. 315-317; special thanks to Jack and Steve Maclean for researching this and presenting it in a talk I attended last night).

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

p25, p08 The bridge from words to condition

"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Corinthians, 4:18, KJV)

"... Of particular importance for the mystic wayfarer is the distinction between the two Sufi notions of hál, spiritual state, and qál (speech). Hál refers to inner and authentic spiritual state of the wayfarer, whereas qál is what one utters by mouth. The former is a genuine spiritual and internal phenomenon, whereas the latter is an external one."

Rumi has God tell Moses in the Mathnavi,

"We look not at the exterior and the speech (qál),We behold the inner and the state (hál)."

Baha'u'llah in His most important doctrinal work, the Kitabi Iqan, speaks of this opposition between state and speech,

"Great God! When the stream of utterance reached this stage, We beheld, and lo! the sweet savours of God were being wafted from the dayspring of Revelation, and the morning breeze was blowing out of the Sheba of the Eternal. Its tidings rejoiced anew the heart, and imparted immeasurable gladness to the soul. ... Without word It unfoldeth the inner mysteries, and without speech It revealeth the secrets of the divine sayings." (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 58)

The way God teaches faith is how trainers teach parrots to talk:
"The method is to place a mirror between the parrot and the trainer. The trainer, hidden by the mirror, utters the words, and the parrot, seeing his own reflection in the mirror, fancies another parrot is speaking, and imitates all that is said by the trainer behind the mirror. So God uses prophets and saints as mirrors whereby to instruct men, being Himself all the time hidden behind these mirrors, viz., the bodies of these saints and prophets; and men, when they hear the words proceeding from these mirrors, are utterly ignorant that they are really being spoken by `Universal Reason' or the `Word of God' behind the mirrors of the saints." (Mathnavi of Rumi, E.H. Whinfield, tr.)

Rumi brings this, and I believe his entire Mathnavi, to a fitting consummation in a story of how a parrot wordlessly communicated the way to freedom to another parrot in captivity. What better metaphor can there be than this, to design a bridge from qal to hal?

The Merchant and his Clever Parrot.

"There was a certain merchant who kept a parrot in a cage. Being about to travel to Hindustan on business, he asked the parrot if he had any message to send to his kinsmen in that country, and the parrot desired him to tell them that he was kept confined in a cage. The merchant promised to deliver this message, and on reaching Hindustan, duly delivered it to the first flock of parrots he saw. On hearing it one of them at once fell down dead. The merchant was annoyed with his own parrot for having sent such a fatal message, and on his return home sharply rebuked his parrot for doing so. But the parrot no sooner heard the merchant's tale than ho too fell down dead in his cage. The merchant, after lamenting his death, took his corpse out of the cage and threw it away; but, to his surprise, the corpse immediately recovered life, and flew away, explaining that the Hindustani parrot had only feigned death to suggest this way of escaping from confinement in a cage."

Saturday, March 09, 2019

p14 two 2006 essays on the days of the Badi' Week

Friday, July 14, 2006

Seven Days and Seven Valleys, Part I

By John Taylor; 2006 July 14

Every day I try to be as physically active as I can, often struggling against waves of turpitude that strike with the overwhelming force of an ocean surf. My cornerstone exercise is practicing table tennis by hitting the ball against a wall and trying to return it. 

The harder I smash it the harder it is to return. This is the least boring of exercises, but it is still tedious, so I relieve the boredom of the repetition by listening to books on tape on a stereo that I hooked for our garage. The latest acquisition is a compilation of inspiring essays about spirituality by self-help gurus that I picked up at the Haldimand Library's annual summer book sale. 

The best of the essays is by the author of "Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," Kushner I think his name is.

Kushner describes in loving detail his ideal daily routine, a set of slow, relaxing rituals such as reading scripture morning and evening, holding hands with his wife and telling her that he loves her before they sit down to break bread, ending his day with reading something funny, that kind of thing. These he tries to work into his week at least four out of the seven days of the week. Most inspiring is to hear how taking the Sabbath seriously revives his soul. He takes his Sundays off work completely and does only soul-refreshing activities; since he is no longer a minister, he attends worship services at a variety of local church denominations, including the Greek Orthodox, whose rituals in a foreign language liturgy he finds relaxing. I was impressed by how his observance salves his week. I have decided, therefore, if I ever get over this anemia, that I will observe the Baha'i Sabbath, which of course is Friday, or Istiqlal (Independence).

In the meantime my compromise will be to spend Fridays writing about the Badi' calendar, starting today. As I went over my collected material on the Baha'i week this morning a strange speculation popped into my mind. How do the seven days compare with Baha'u'llah's Haft Wadi, or Seven Valleys? Let us juxtapose them:

1. Jalal - Glory (Saturday)  Valley one: search
2. Jamal - Beauty (Sunday)  Valley two: love
3. Kamal - Perfection (Monday)  Valley three: knowledge
4. Fidal - Grace (Tuesday)  Valley four: unity
5. 'Idal - Justice (Wednesday)  Valley five: contentment
6. Istijlal - Majesty (Thursday)  Valley six: wonderment
7. Istiqlal - Independence (Friday)  Valley seven: true poverty and absolute nothingness

The questions then arises, are there any scriptural connections between these virtues? Can states of the soul be connected with the virtues of the week by any kind of natural logic? Let us give her, as one of my teachers used to say, the "old college try."

The first day of the Baha'i week is Saturday, Jalal, or Glory, and the first valley is search. One rides through this valley on a "steed" of patience, we are told in the Haft Vadi. Certainly the quest for glory is never one of ease and relaxation. Nobody puts up statues for generals who won easy battles, and even the most skillful artists who live lives of ease never seem to be able to produce paintings worth more than a pittance. Patience in adversity seems by some iron law of the universe to be the prime requisite for success for every seeker after truth. Consider how Baha'u'llah Himself connects His own suffering and patience with the antipathy of those who are "the manifestations of My glory":

"Hearken unto My voice that calleth from My prison, that it may acquaint thee with the things that have befallen My Beauty, at the hands of them that are the manifestations of My glory, and that thou mayest perceive how great hath been My patience, notwithstanding My might..." (Baha'u'llah, Summons, 84, Epistle, 58,

Sunday is beauty day, Jamal, and the above citation from Baha'u'llah illuminates this tie as well. The connection between beauty and the valley of love could not be any more natural. If I love a woman, even should she appear to the world a snake-haired hag who transforms all beholders into stone statues, still my loving eyes will find beauty in her face. As in the ancient Greek myth, such a lover would say, 

"Your face transfixes everybody, my love, they are paralyzed by admiration. I would be too, except that I look into your reflection in my shield." And so it is with God, He is a sun that blinds all who behold directly His Godhead, for finite beings are not constructed for direct linkage with the Supreme Love. All that we can bear of the divine must be virtual, indirect, reflected love. Even at a hint of the direct Face we cry in the words of the Kaddosh, "He is other, other, other!" and are turned to stone. Consider the imagery in the first paragraph of the Haft Vadi's love valley,

"In this city the heaven of ecstasy is upraised and the world-illuming sun of yearning shineth, and the fire of love is ablaze; and when the fire of love is ablaze, it burneth to ashes the harvest of reason." (SVFV, 7)

This is why I get all riled up when people talk about "Baha'i theology," which I consider an oxymoron. Theology is the practice of theologians, theoreticians serving a professional clergy. There is no professional Baha'i clergy precisely for this reason: divine knowledge is not knowledge in the sense of any other knowledge. 

It knows us, we do not, we can not know it. It cannot be professionalized or exclusivized or be said to be here rather than there. Baha'i theology is an oxymoron, and the word "theology" is a paradox, at least it is as soon as you accept that God is an unknowable essence. In that sense Baha'is are much closer in their beliefs to atheists than to theologians, for arrogant ignorance is built into the very word "theology." Divine knowledge is for none and it is for all, but never for some rather than others. The shame of professional theology is that it is first, rather than last, to persecute the prophets and Manifestations. History demonstrates this, if we look at her victims, men turned to statues arrayed around Medusa, theologians are always in the first rank. So says Baha'u'llah, in almost as many words:

"From time immemorial the clay clods of the world have, wholly by reason of their love of leadership, perpetrated such acts as have caused men to err." (Epistle, 87)

Immanuel Kant, with uncanny prescience foresaw the division in Baha'u'llah's Order between administrators and the learned. In his peace sketch he added that while theology (I would say "knowledge of God," as opposed to professionalized theology) always leads and conditions lower forms of knowledge, it is not clear exactly how its primacy operates:

"The philosophical faculty occupies a very low rank against this allied power. Thus it is said of philosophy, for example, that she is the handmaiden to theology, and the other faculties claim as much. But one does not see distinctly whether she precedes her mistress with a flambeau or follows bearing her train." (Kant, Sketch of Perpetual Peace)

Next Friday I will turn from day two's love and beauty to day three, Monday, the day of perfection and knowledge.

Friday Essay on the Days of the Badi' Week

By John Taylor; 2006 October 13

"Each day He is upon some task." (Qu'ran 55:29)

Today is Friday the 13th, an unlucky day according to old superstitions. This day motorcycle clubs, in their contrarian, outlaw spirit, have taken for their own. They regularly congregate at this time at Port Dover, several dozen clicks down the road from Dunnville. 

In summer months whenever a Friday falls on the thirteenth of the month, the roaring of motorcycles travelling in packs towards Port Dover is heard all day long. So Friday the 13th is the day of periodic roaring around here.

Friday, the thirteenth or otherwise, we are told will someday be the day of rest for Baha'is, as it already is for Muslims. In preparation for that, I have taken on the project on Fridays (Fridays when I remember and have leisure to do so) of discussing the Badi' calendar virtues assigned to each of the days of the week.

The first question that springs to mind is, why is Friday our day of rest? Most often the explanation is that given in Genesis, where God created the world in six days and took a break on the seventh. Less often do we hear this explication, given in Exodus:

"And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud." (Ex 24:16)

Thus the first day of our Badi' week is just that, Baha, Glory, which like a cloud covers over the mount where the Law of God, the Ten Commandments, are about to to be revealed. Clouds behave strangely over mountains, forming wierd and beautiful plumes that have been photographed by cloud fanciers clubs. Their shots of these unusual formations have been given broad media attention lately. Thus veiled by mist on the mountain top, Moses waits six days until before on the seventh day the cloud of Glory passes and the revelation of the Law, the meeting with Yahweh unveiled, takes place -- from this brief meeting with the unveiled Godhead, Moses seated, Yahweh walking away, we get the expression "God Passes By."

Parallels and allusions to this primal revelatory event are common in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. For example the Tablet "Tajalliyat," translated "Effulgences," uses a root, Tajalli, which means "self-disclosure," or "God's unveiling Himself to His creatures." 

The allusion seems to be to the traditional Jewish marriage ceremony, where the bride after the ancient ceremony used to hand over her veil (in the Muslim version she is completely veiled beforehand, even to the husband-to-be), symbolizing their entry into a new household.

The revelation of the law of God, then, is no ordinary lifting of the fog, it is a marriage ceremony entailing a complete change of lifestyle for the creature, who must show eternal love, a lifelong commitment extending through this life and all the worlds of God. This may be why in the fourth and last Tajalli, about "Divinity, Godhead and the like," Baha'u'llah promises that turning to the Lote tree there would so enrich the "man of insight" as to make him "independent of aught else and to acknowledge his belief in that which the Speaker on Sinai hath uttered from the throne of Revelation." Hence the last day's virtue, Istiqlal, Independence. One is the condition of being totally married to the Law and instituting a new household independent of the ideas, culture, family and history that engendered that creature.

This outlines some of the meaning of the first and last days of the Badi week, but what about the days in between? How do their virtues fit in between Glory and Independence? Are they completely veiled? We could try using the Seven Valleys as crib notes, in which case Friday, Independence Day, would fit with valley seven, that of true poverty and absolute nothingness. This certainly underlines the fact that marriage with God is not anything like the equal arrangement that is marriage between a man and a woman. God is everything and the soul nothing, absolutely nothing.

This combination of the Seven Valleys with the image of Moses veiled in clouds awaiting a revelation of the Law on Mount Sinai above can fit with each day and its virtue. Each day is a descent into the valley of conscious life, rounded by sleep in the unknowable mists above. Here is how such a virtue week would look, combined with its corresponding valley:

1. Jalal - Glory (Saturday); search
2. Jamal - Beauty (Sunday); love
3. Kamal - Perfection (Monday); knowledge
4. Fidal - Grace (Tuesday); unity
5. 'Idal - Justice (Wednesday); contentment
6. Istijlal - Majesty (Thursday); wonderment
7. Istiqlal - Independence (Friday); true poverty and absolute nothingness

As the Qu'ran notes at the beginning, God reveals something new each day, and each week. A week is seven days of new revelation, sitting in a valley looking up to see what the Law reveals from its mystic cloud. Each day is a virtue, and each virtue has an opposite, a vice to avoid. Consider the seven virtues and seven deadly sins, as laid out by Cameron:

"Man can acquire the `seven virtues' of faith, hope, charity, justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance or he can fall into the grip of the "seven deadly" or "capital sins" of pride, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, avarice and sloth." (Cameron - Disconnected Letters of the Qur'an, p. 40,

Accordingly, with minor changes in order could you chart these virtues and vices together, and juxtapose them with the days of the week and the seven valleys mentioned above? Here is the best I can do with that idea. Let me know if it makes any sense.

1. Glory (Saturday); valley of search, faith vs. pride
2. Jamal - Beauty (Sunday); valley of love, charity vs. wrath
3. Kamal - Perfection (Monday); valley of knowledge, prudence vs. lust
4. Fidal - Grace (Tuesday); valley of unity, fortitude vs. sloth
5. 'Idal - Justice (Wednesday); valley of contentment, justice vs. avarice
6. Istijlal - Majesty (Thursday); valley of wonderment, hope vs. envy
7. Istiqlal - Independence (Friday); valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness, temperance vs. gluttony

Note: 12 March, 2019

The new translation of the Seven Valleys is here:

It is even preceded by a Tablet named Rashh-i-'Ama, or The Clouds of the Realms Above.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

p01 Investigation of Reality; Tablet of the Hague

One of my favourite statements of the principle of search for truth is this, which Abdu'l-Baha wrote to the post-Great War peace conference at The Hague.

"Among these teachings was the independent investigation of reality so that the world of humanity may be saved from the darkness of imitation and attain to the truth; may tear off and cast away this ragged and outgrown garment of a thousand years ago and may put on the robe woven in the utmost purity and holiness in the loom of reality. As reality is one and cannot admit of multiplicity, therefore different opinions must ultimately become fused into one." (SWA 298; Hague 2 of 14)

Why do I like it so much? For one thing, He uses the word "investigation" here, rather than search, indicating that this principle involves a lifelong devotion. Investigation is a search that never ends, never ceases to advance, more like what a detective or prosecutor does than, say, a casual glance or a single session in the library or at a search engine.

Most crucially, this phrasing of the principle avoids the casual and insidious presupposition that humans are permanently mired in the mud of dissension. Never having encountered the power of faith and true religion, most think that we will always be irreconcilably mired in multiple, contradictory opinions, and there is nothing we can do about it. 


If there is such a thing as truth, we must believe that it is far stronger than human weakness and ignorance, great as they admittedly often are. If we hold true to the universal duty to investigate reality, separately and together, with all due rigour and persistence, the entire spectrum of diverse viewpoints can instantly be fused into one. Just as a prism can divide the spectrum of light, it can unite multicoloured light passing through it just as well. If we live up to the investigation that God created us to undertake, everone of all backgrounds can unite in one, divine enlightenment.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

p03 The Principle that Religion's Goal is Benefit and Unity; Non-Baha'i Sources

2018 July, 31

The Principle that Religion is for Benefit, Love and Unity; Non-Baha'i Sources

Here is a brief, quick compilation that I just drew up in answer to a question on facebook about interfaith harmony and its basis in non-Baha'i sources. The Baha'i Writings often assert that all religions in their pure form aim at love and unity, but this is not delved into in detail. For that reason I have collected these quotes, which can be taken as skeletal evidence for the principle that "religion is for unity," or at least for benefit, is a more or less universal goal. I have put the quotes inchronological order, under the following categories: Philosophy (Plato), India and China, Judaism, Christianity and the Qur'an.

Philosophy (Plato)

"...what is most beneficial will be deemed sacred. (Plato Rep V p. 179)

"Can there be any greater evil than discord and distraction and plurality where unity ought to reign? Or any greater good than the bond of unity? [-he goes on to define unity as wherever sorrows and joys are the same] (Plato, Republic, Book V, p. 184)

India and China

"When a feudal lord endangers the alters to the gods of earth and grain, he should be replaced. When the sacrificial animals are sleek, the offerings are clean and the sacrifices are observed at due times, and yet floods and droughts come, then the alters should be replaced." (Mencius VII, B. 14, also cf. Mencius, Intro 37)

"He who knows My glory and power, he has the oneness of unwavering harmony. This is My truth." (Bhagavad Gita 10:7)


"For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased." (Prov 9:11)

"Better is a dry morsel, and quietness therewith, than an house full of sacrifices with strife." (Prov 17:1)

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." (Isa 11:9)

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee." [ie city of peace] (Ps 122:6)


"...whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Rom 15:4)

Addressing followers who wanted to call down fire...

"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of, for the son of Man is not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." (Luke 9:55-6)

The teacher of God proves expertise by going to wherever the need is greatest:

"The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said,

"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Matthew 9:11-13)
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal." (I Cor 12:7)

"...the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." (John 6:63)

An example of the principle that the purpose of religion is to build unity, and that therefore if there is disputation both sides are wrong.

"Every kingdom divided against itself goes to ruin." (Matt 12:25)

The Qur'an

"Turn to Allah and fear Him. Be steadfast in prayer and serve no other god besides Him. Do not split up your religion into sects, each exulting in its own beliefs." (Q30:29)

"(This is) a Scripture which We have revealed unto thee (Muhammad) that thereby thou mayst bring forth mankind from darkness unto light, by the permission of their Lord, unto the path of the Mighty, the Owner of Praise." (Quran 14:1,