Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Mashiyyat, Or, Education in the Fear Factor

By John Taylor; 27 September, 2005

Tonight is the Feast of Mashiyyat, Will, so let us talk about will and
free will, what they are, how they work. When the Master was in
America He was asked how this universal peace that He was always
talking about was supposed to come about. He answered that, "Its
realization is through the attraction and support of world public
opinion. Today universal peace is the panacea for all human life."
(Mahmud, 35) In others words, we get utopia if we will it; as a
society we must want peace. We forge a paradise together with common
will focused upon the right way to peace. Such a united public opinion
is the only realistic hope for peace.

Surely among the greatest contributions of the Master to the history
of ideas was His teaching that the only way to true progress is
through education. This may seem obvious today but the societies He
visited in both East and West were steeped in the bigoted belief that
I am good because I come from this culture or this class or that
nation. We are good, they are bad, and not because we humbly learned
truth in the school of reality but just because we are inherently
better. A truly evil question was never far from people's minds:
wouldn't we all be better off if we just got rid of the inferior
elements of society?

The Master refuted this presumption by pointing out that all are
equally in need of education, all depend just the same on God's mercy
so the only conceivable solution is education; and not the education
of some but of all, universal education. So in terms of this month's
virtue, the Master might have said that will is only good when it is
universally educated; the only truly free will is one that submits to
the universal Reality. Otherwise wills inevitably clash with other
wills and the faculty of will becomes our downfall.

But the question is, how do you educate the will? What is the
difference between a rude, naked, recalcitrant will and an educated
will? A hint is to be found in the order of the autumn months in our
Badi' calendar. Just as autumn in nature is a harvest of the bounteous
fruits of summer in preparation for winter's deprivation so in the
human world autumn is a golden age when the aged reap the fruits of
their middle age and prepare for passage into the next life. Part of
this involves passing the torch from a personal career to broader
concerns of the social fact. This is the broadest fruit of an educated

To accomplish this education every learner follows a series of
progressive steps in the order of the fall Badi' months, from Izzat to
Mashiyyat to Ilm and finally Qudrat; that is, from Might to Will to
Knowledge and finally to Power. The virtues of fall direct personal
might ('Izzat) onto free will (Mashiyyat) whose harvest is submission
to higher things. Then one procedes to spiritual knowledge ('Ilm),
knowing the spirit intimately. Complete identification with 'Ilm leads
to what the Writings term "arising," moving the will in the attainment
of true human power, Qudrat. Qudrat is the ability of all to act as
one, in concert, without a hint of disharmony. Power is educated
action of all for all, in all. On the other hand might is direct,
naked action by the individual. Education is the link, it makes both
personal and social into divine, holy reflections of God.

The ideal is a society where every will is so educated and in such
total common agreement with all other wills that there is no need even
to imagine opposition or disagreement. Nobody has to be forced to obey
the law because acceptance of law is the highest desire of each and
all. There would be tremendous advantages to such a state of affairs.
Think of the prodigious expense that friction and disagreement cause
in our free will but divergent-will-obsessed world. Michael Creighton
makes an interesting observation in his latest novel about
environmental conflicts. He points out that if you calculate the
billions of dollars wasted in court challenges and counter-challenges
over whether to exploit a natural resource, even one of the more minor
disputes burns up enough money to pay for an end to poverty among the
poorest thirty or forty nations of the world. Truly, harmony and
agreement without squabbling would be of infinite value, worth not
only the trillions of dollars saved annually, but also priceless
psychologically, reduction of the stress caused by billions of people
being threatened by imminent homelessness, disease and starvation.

A complete melding of wills into one has been understood to be the
ideal form of government from the very beginning. And by beginning I
mean of course Plato's Republic, the work that launched philosophy on
the course that it still follows. Plato holds up here a society of
philosophers led by a philosopher king, all of whom agree
wholeheartedly to submit their will into a single force of
enlightenment, that of education. The leadership of a philosopher king
never need force compliance because all agree with and consciously
assert their wills in whatever he seeks. For Baha'is, that philosopher
king is the Manifestation of God. The Bab was One such King, and He
wrote in the Persian Bayan (V, 19) that,

"There is no paradise, in the estimation of the believers in the
Divine Unity, more exalted than to obey God's commandments, and there
is no fire in the eyes of those who have known God and His signs,
fiercer than to transgress His laws and to oppress another soul, even
to the extent of a mustard seed. On the Day of Resurrection God will,
in truth, judge all men, and we all verily plead for His grace." (The
Bab, Selections, 79)

So if you believe in the unity of God, the Bab asserts, your will must
uphold His law; that is your heaven and the slightest injustice is
your hell. To believe is to buy into a single social consensus, a
wholeness and oneness of will upholding the philosopher king.

Now many moderns whose belief in God and whose understanding of His
theocracy is atrophied, have failed to understand what Plato and
admirers of the Republic like Rousseau were getting at by proposing
this system of government. The republic is a democracy of wills united
in one, submitting so utterly and completely that they regard their
highest desire as the single law of a benign Educator. These false
philosophers unjustly accuse Plato and Rousseau of being
proto-fascists, of supporting what inevitably leads to absolutism and
totalitarian government. Quite the reverse, this is the only
conceivable free democracy of the will.

I say to them: government by philosopher king is our best and only
hope, so make an effort to understand what it is and what it is not.
For one thing, take what the Bab says at the end of the above
quotation: that all plead for God's grace and all must submit to His
judgment. That means all wills freely and by nature recognize their
dependence upon what is Above. The philosopher king does not instill
fear, the truth in all its awesome glory inspires the fear. And what
recognition is behind that attitude to truth? Fear. Fear of God. Fear
of God is the Most Great Fear Factor. How so? Let me tell you an
anecdote explaining the shocking way that I learned this truth.

Lately I was accosted by a reader of the Badi' list who could not
contain her enthusiasm for the "fear factor" birthday party that I and
the kids attended lately and which I laid out in a recent essay. Let
us call her B--. B-- said that we should have fear factor Holy Days,
fear factor firesides, fear factor everything. I was quite surprised
by this. What is your reasoning for this startling conclusion?, I
asked. Well, said B--, Baha'u'llah Himself said that,

"The fear of God hath ever been the prime factor in the education of
His creatures. Well is it with them that have attained thereunto!"
(Epistle, 27)

So therefore, B-- concluded, we should do all we can to stir up the
fear of God among all we meet. The fear factor is the prime factor, so
we have to start by understanding what we fear so we can work the fear
factor for common education. I still have not figured out if B-- was
serious about this or not. Now I do not want to give away more
personal details about B-- than I have to, lest anybody guess her
identity, but let me say that B-- is a writer like myself. You may
think it is a big coincidence that such a small community should hold
two writers, but actually until a year or two ago there was a third
Baha'i writer, Jay Howden, in Haldimand. By all reports he is very
successful, writing the speeches for the Governor General of Canada,
the latest news being that he had supper with the Premier of China. I
happened to run across Jay's website, so for those who want to learn
more about him, go to:


John Taylor


Monday, September 26, 2005

Diehards in an Open World

Inoculation, Mounds and Diehards in an Open World

By John Taylor; 25 September, 2005

My neurons are a weird pain weather vane and although since I have
changed my diet and increased exercise the migraines are fewer, a
major weather event like Hurricane Katrina invisibly blows me away,
even from such a distance and with its force blown. A week after
Katrina died out a friend pointed out that its backwash in Ontario was
all that rain, the flooding of her basement, etc...

"Ah," thought I, "that must be why I was suffering that slow burning
migraine just around then!"

Thus I learned that even with somewhat improved health that I still
must watch carefully the weather reports, even if it means breaking my
no network television rule. And now it is Rita educating me in
vulnerability. I must say, for me Rita is no slow burn like Katrina,
she is scraping out my skull with a razor edged scoop. Hard as this
is, my prime thoughts and prayers go for those in the front line of
this weather battle, especially the residents of Houston and New
Orleans. God save us, our only salvation. Baha'u'llah wrote in a

"The winds of tests are powerless to hold back them that enjoy near
access to Thee from setting their faces towards the horizon of Thy
glory, and the tempests of trials must fail to draw away and hinder
such as are wholly devoted to Thy will from approaching Thy court."

My plan for this month has been to write a quickie book on how to
speed our response to disasters like the Southeast Asian tsunami of
Boxing Day, and now these last two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico. I
still might fulfill the goal, given a miracle. Preparing this project,
I've gone over my "open year" essays, a tedious task that I normally
avoid because it feels so wrong, narcissistic, autophagic, whatever.
My reluctance to read my own writing is bred in the bone -- to produce
new material I must live a myth that all my past writing was garbage;
only today's essay matters. Reading over the open year essays for that
reason is humbling and discouraging, the output of that year -- from
the summer of 2003 to the summer of 2004 -- was prolific and
impressive, my hour of creative glory. Unfortunately for me it was
like fireworks, temporary, spreading in all directions and flaring
out. It was not planned, directed or focused. Due to constant
migraines, the writing was perforce scattered, personal, all over the
place. But for all that, it was my one Annus Mirabilis. I know in my
heart that I will probably never do better. I laid then the
philosophical groundwork for what I hope will be my first finished
book, working title: Open World.

Thinking over what I was trying to get at I realize now that I left
out the core idea. Only now is an unearthly apparition taking
corporeal form. The distinctive mark of the plan of Open World has to
be "mound architecture," elongated earthworks or berms with buildings
dug into the side. That is what I am working out now, and it is not
easy or quick, especially with Rita working me over. I am reading
Jared Diamond's Collapse, and trying to get a hold of a new book
called "Wisdom of Crowds," which I think will be important for
understanding the consultative challenges involved in this initiative.

An interesting sidelight to the present emergencies is a phenomenon I
wrote about in the open year, one that the House in the early 1980's
called "inoculation." In spite of modern communications and sometimes
well organized emergency response mechanisms, at first many lives in
New Orleans were needlessly lost because of inoculation, what you
could call the "boy who called wolf" syndrome. People hear a warning
repeatedly -- be it words like "God" or "Baha'i," or in this case
emergency evacuation orders -- and conclude that since the hubbub came
to nothing so often before there is no threat.

"I know this danger well and I can safely ignore what I am being told.
I will stay put."

This strange diehard response was reduced in Houston threatened by
Rita for several reasons, one being simply because people had just
seen what happened to New Orleans diehards under Katrina. This is not
an issue only for specialists in governance and public health, it is a
general problem of communications, which depend upon love. Suicidal
refusals are a spiritual issue as much as a practical one. Taken all
in all, loss of life from both terror and disaster is not primarily a
result of breakdowns of support or communication so much as lack of
trust between individual and society, and ultimately between humans
and God. Pump up the love and the trust, and the system responds

John Taylor


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tramp in the Garden

The Tramp in the Garden

By John Taylor; 20 September, 2005

Our animator missed our Ruhi session last night, having a birthday
celebration to attend (his own). I temporarily took over his job but
messed up terribly. What happened was that we going over the story
describing Baha'u'llah's period of two years of self-imposed exile in
the mountains, as described in Lesson 22 of Ruhi Book 5, "Teaching
Children's Classes, Grade 2," and I got the date of the time in the
mountains of Kurdistan wrong. Worse, I criticized the Ruhi text
unfairly. Seeking a proper combination of comfort and admonition, I
found it in the first few verses of Alexander Pope's "Essay on

"'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense:
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss..."

Still, I cannot help myself, there is something about Ruhi that brings
out the critic in me. There seems to be an unspoken rule that if
material is for kids it must be dumbed down. Only the very best
children's literature manages to be simple without being simplistic,
fun without being childish. Unfortunately the Ruhi courses tip towards
the patronizing even when dealing with adults, so it is to be expected
that it will be worse with children's lessons. But even so, I do not
know how even the least patronizing historian could tell the story of
Baha'u'llah's exile to the mountains without speculating upon His
motives for doing so. It was a voluntary exile, so He had to have a
reason. Unfortunately, there is little or no first hand or for that
matter second hand material to explain the specific problems that made
Him take that dire course. We have only the testimony of the Master,
His sister, and Baha'u'llah Himself, told much later, to go by;
nothing as far as historical data. Peter Smith in his article in the
Baha'i Encyclopedia does the only thing possible; he admits the lack
of raw material:

"Accompanied by his family ... Baha'u'llah made the difficult winter
journey over the mountains to Ottoman Iraq, arriving in BAGHDAD on 8
April 1853. Here they were later joined by Azal, who had gone into
hiding following the attempt on the life of the shah. What happened
next is difficult to establish in detail, and is coloured by the later
partisan accounts of Baha'is and AZALlS, but in essence it would seem
that Baha'u'llah began to eclipse Azal as a leader (e.g. see Tablet of
'ALL FOOD'), a development increasingly resented by the latter, who
yet insisted on maintaining a hidden existence from most of the Babis
for his own protection. The tensions were such that Baha'u'llah
finally decided to abandon the city to pursue the life of a solitary
mystic in the mountains of Kurdistan, leaving his family in the care
of Mirza Musa. He left Baghdad on 10 April 1854, accompanied by a
single servant, later writing that his 'withdrawal contemplated no
return' (KI 160). Initially living as a hermit in a cave in the
mountains at Sar Galli, he 'communed with [his] spirit' oblivious of
the world." (Smith, Baha'i Encyclopedia, "Baha'u'llah," p. 74)

The Guardian, in answer to a query by a British believer, also admits
the impossibility of saying for sure what the Ruhi author is very sure
of, the exact motives of Baha'u'llah in withdrawing, to the extent
that he goes on and on endlessly about it.

"We cannot, not knowing the factors Baha'u'llah weighed in His own
mind, judge of the wisdom of His withdrawal to Kurdistan. But,
studying His life and teachings, we should see in it an act of wisdom,
and not superficially measure Him by our standards." (Shoghi Effendi,
Unfolding Destiny, p. 406)

In spite of this quibble, I see the curriculum laid out and the pious
stories told in this book as a very good thing. I would love to turn
all the lessons here into illustrated PowerPoint presentations; this
would if nothing else benefit our children, whose education is far too
material right now. The only thing that holds me back is the question
of whether I should start writing for profit instead of pure love, now
that my health is starting to improve.

I started off this month dead set determined, thinking and planning to
write a quicky exploitation book about how to solve the vulnerability
of our built environment to tsunamis and hurricanes, cashing in on the
New Orleans disaster. No mention of Baha'i, no long delay for review,
just a plan, short and simple. Maybe that would gain me something like
financial independence if people interested by these fiascos took
interest in and bought such a book. But for the life of me I just
cannot get away from the Faith no matter how hard I try. I feel like

Back when my father and I lived in a shack on the corner of Mohawk and
Upper Paradise, we never bothered cut our lawn. Sometimes when I rose
in the morning of a Sunday I would notice that one or more drunks had
flopped out in the high grass behind our house. I would wander into
the kitchen, bang a few pots and make my breakfast before calling the
police. But when I looked out the window to see if the bum was still
there, he would always be gone.

Now that I look over my life, I realize that I am just such a tramp. I
do not study the life of Baha'u'llah for legitimate reasons, for
career or academic advance or whatever, I do it on my own and then
leave without a trace. Think of that beautiful passage in the Writings
where Baha'u'llah talks about the Cause as a rose garden where some
come to sniff the flowers but others stay permanently to tend the
garden; but He does not mention the bum who wanders in at night when
nobody is around, roots around, and then leaves as soon as the legit
owners and visitors show their faces. That person not mentioned is the
likes of me.

If anyone is interested in May Maxwell's pilgrim's notes, they are
available online at:


Ella Goodall's Daily Lessons I was about to scan in when I noticed
that it is already available at:


I have also been reading Tarazullah Samandari's inspiring account of
his pilgrimage to Baha'u'llah in Akka and Bahji, called "Moments with
Baha'u'llah." This is not available online (Kalimat Press does not
seem to be as liberal sharing copyright as George Ronald) so I will
see if I have time to scan that in for you, dear reader. I would also
like to share his astonishing talk at the world congress, 1963, and I
will as soon as I get a hold of it.

John Taylor


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Maiden Speech; Gabby and Bea Save Puppy

The Master's Maiden Speech, Part II; Gabby and Bea Save a Puppy

By John Taylor; 20 September, 2005

An anonymous writer defined religion this way: "Nobody is anything
except as he joins himself to something. You cannot be a whole unless
you join the whole. This I believe is religion." I agree with this
wholeheartedly, and for that reason I almost burst when people claim
to adhere to spirituality but not organized religion. If the spirit
cannot organize, what good is it? What kind of a whole can move one
heart all alone but not build from that group structures, social good?
Such a whole would be impotent, a mere superstition, an illusion not
worth the time it takes to picture it.

The true whole is the unifying factor, One holism that is not to be
confused with "everything." When May Maxwell went on pilgrimage she
dragged along her cynical atheist husband, W. Sutherland. The Master
asked W. what God is, and he said, "God is everything, everywhere, I
suppose." Wrong, the Master told him, if you say that something is
everything, that is the same as saying it is nothing; if you say
something is everywhere, that is the same as saying that it is
nowhere. To join yourself to everything is really to join with
nothing. The One stands behind everything seen and it is One, a
unifying whole. If that is not so, then there is no God. If there is a
Singularity behind all things, then there is a God. Sutherland thought
long and hard about what he had been told and eventually saw that He
was right. He eventually converted to belief in God, the One behind
the whole, and became an exemplary Baha'i.

A couple of years later, `Abdu'l-Baha in His first public address in
London's City Temple, laid out the other two Oneness that proceed
directly from the primary oneness, the Oneness of God.

"The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the
oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion. War
shall cease between nations, and by the will of God the Most Great
Peace shall come; the world will be seen as a new world, and all men
will live as brothers." (`Abdul-Baha in London, pp. 19-20)

Peace then, and the principles of peace, are the result of joining One
God to the other two Onenesses, One religion, a single underlying
Divine Teaching, and one human race to learn from It. Peace cannot be
bound and confined to one heart, that would be just one more division
among the billions of divisions already conflicting our world. Only
tension and war come of everyone turning to everything. The only
reality is the One in its three expressions of wholeness, working
Itself out as a harmonious One, in other words, peace.

Peace is the thesis of our time, its antithesis ignorance, imitation,
division, conflict. They clash in apocalyptic battle. The Master
warned us to strengthen our spiritual consensus, form a common
synthesis based upon One. This only should be our focus, it is our
only way to defeat the error and wrong threatening us.

"You are loosed from ancient superstitions which have kept men
ignorant, destroying the foundation of true humanity... In the days of
old an instinct for warfare was developed in the struggle with wild
animals; this is no longer necessary; nay, rather, co-operation and
mutual understanding are seen to produce the greatest welfare of
mankind." (Id.)

This is a startlingly brilliant historical thesis, one of those simple
ideas that seems obvious as soon as you grasp it. Civilization started
with the invention of agriculture a few thousand years ago, but before
that for thousands and millions of years humans in small groups must
have been in perpetual struggle with large beasts of prey. Now we can
bring down a bear or a lion with a single bullet and we pity the poor,
helpless beasts, threatened as they are with imminent extinction. It
is easy to forget that they threatened us for so long. Killing them
easily was an impossible dream. Fighting them took all the courage,
physical prowess and usually the coordinated efforts of an entire
village to kill, dress and consume an animal like the mammoth.

Solitary travelers through the ages until very recently were in
constant danger of being killed and eaten by large predators. Even
when the threat of cruel beasts receded, savage tribes imitated their
predatory ways by raiding, conquering, and otherwise preying upon
undefended villages and towns. Aggression brought great booty, and
aggressive thoughts and words were valued above gentle ones. With such
standing threats hanging above our heads it would be surprising if
society had not come to admire and value the opponent, the militant
and the ruthless more than the gentle, the cooperative and the kind.

Next time we will consider the Master's following, perhaps even more
startling statement: "Enmity is now the result of prejudice only."

Gabby, Bea and the De-population of New Guinea

In Michael Creighton's latest novel I read that in certain parts of
the world crocodiles have learned a new way to get a free lunch. That
called for a Gabby and Bea story.

It happened during their world tour that Gabby and Bea stopped in for
a visit to the island nation of New Guinea. They swam ashore and
walked into a village smiling at the people, who were even more
overjoyed to meet the famous pair. They called them and said, "Please
help us save our puppy." The wolf and fox agreed and were shown a
little puppy in an open field, held back by a heavy chain. Gabby and
Bea touched noses with the puppy and asked what was wrong with it. The
puppy looked just fine. Nothing, they answered, only he is the last
dog left in our village. He is in great danger. The crocodiles have
learned to make a sound that sounds like the barking of a dog. When a
dog hears it he goes to investigate and is eaten. The more dogs
disappeared the more lonely our dogs became until now this puppy is
our last one. He is extremely lonely now, he longs to see one of his
own kind. And do you hear the barking down by the river? Bea said yes,
she understood what the barking meant in dog language, albeit
imitation dog language, the barks were saying,

"Help me. I have fallen in the water. I want to be your friend but
first you have to save me here."

Just then the puppy escaped from his collar and ran hell bent for
leather down towards the river. Nobody noticed. Gabby did not notice.
Gabby objected that he was a native speaker of dog language and what
business did Bea, a fox, claim that she understood dog language when
there was an expert standing right here.

It was then that my audience took the story into its own power. A
giant hand burst through the paper and as it were grabbed me by the
throat, reminding me forcefully that if I did not save that puppy
right away there would be shouts, tears and protests to Mama -- more
than enough annoyances to counterbalance the pleasure I had been
hoping to gain from a description of an ingenious croc's honest,
hard-won meal.

Suddenly a child villager noticed that the puppy was missing. Gabby
knew where the puppy must have gone and as Bea leaped on his back, he
flew after the puppy at top speed. Speaking perfect dog language,
Gabby and Bea explained the ruse to the puppy, who stopped just in
time to see the croc leap out and snap at the air where it had been
about to move.

Gabby and Bea saw that the only way for the little puppy to be
completely safe would be to leave the island completely. But it
transpired that he was the last dog in New Guinea and the people loved
their dogs; what would they do? Silvie would entertain only one
possibility, they had to leave New Guinea en masse and stay with the
puppy. I protested, "Would that not mean that the crocodiles will have
won out?" She agreed but did not care, the land had to be depopulated
and left to nature. There was nothing more to be said, so that is
where I ended it. And that was the end of the story...

John Taylor


Monday, September 19, 2005

Men in the House

Men in the House, Revisited

By John Taylor; 19 September, 2005

In the course of this summer ending now my thoughts have revolved
around the question of why, why are only men allowed on the Universal
House of Justice? Why, why, are only men obliged to go on pilgrimage
in the Baha'i Faith? What is the wisdom of this apparent skew towards
the male element?

A climax of sorts to my ruminations came in August when I read an
article in Time Magazine about a Christian minister in the States who
has taken upon himself a personal "mission to the men." He pointed out
that over sixty percent of the membership rolls of Protestant
churches, and something like eighty or ninety percent of their active
membership, are female. In those conservative sects where women clergy
were suddenly allowed, the number of female leaders shot up from zero
to, again, ninety percent or more in only a few years. He said that
male church members who do turn up complain about the artsy-fartsy
services, full of singing, dancing and lovey-dovey sentiment.
Damnation and brimstone are a thing of the past. To my surprise, he
negatively compared his female dominated Christianity to Islam, the
world's fastest growing religion, which gives a bigger place -- to say
the least --to men.

I cannot say that I found this man of God's approach to attracting
males to religion all that interesting. Taken to an extreme, he would
be hiring wrestling announcers as preachers and staging mini-football
games behind the pulpit to keep the interest of male congregants from
flagging. But nonetheless, he has a point about men in religion
generally, one that is driven home to me every time I attend Feast
here in Haldimand. While we have one or two others who turn up
sporadically (depending, I suppose, upon the NHL hockey schedule),
usually in a roomful of women the only males are myself, Ron, and my
six-year old son, Tomaso. This imbalance is not obvious in communities
with a Persian element, since they resemble Muslims in that men tend
to be more active than women. This problem is characteristically

So to me, in setting up ground rules for male involvement in religion
Baha'u'llah was not trying to maintain the last bastions of a rotten,
patriarchic, male dominated old order. Rather He was looking to the
new Order, pointing a divine finger at the face of men Eastern and
Western, saying: do your duty to God. You have a responsibility in
this age of broader freedoms not to enjoy wine, women and sports but
to work, not to blow your energy indulging yourselves but to take a
positive role in society, and particularly in family life. Yours must
be a partnership role but also a leadership role in the family. That
is why you are the nominal head, so that you will keep that family
name going through the generations, at whatever cost to you
personally. Men are selfish and altruism is harder for you. You must
fight your inclination in family life not because you are forced to do
so or as a way to work personal power or will (quite the reverse) but
because restrained, consultative initiatives are best for all. Male
involvement is the best impetus for spiritual progress and, yes, the
virility of family as an institution, and hence politics and democracy

And what exemplar do you have, men? Well, there is the Master for one.
One novel thing for me came of reading Myron Phelp's book, the first
ever written in English about `Abdu'l-Baha, called The Master in Akka.
It has a mini-history of the Faith not in `Abdu'l-Baha's words but in
His sister's words, from Bahiyyih Khanum's female perspective. Men
especially should read her eyewitness account in its entirety (I would
like to make a video of it, with my daughter Silvie as narrator) but
here is what she says about `Abdu'l-Baha as paterfamilias in capsule

For one thing, His initiatives in giving prodigious amounts of money
to the poor and indigent at times when the family was by no means
prosperous did not go unnoticed in family circles, especially by
mother, daughters and sisters. I had imagined this might be so, but it
was the first time I had heard it mentioned. What does this mean? Our
Exemplar was unstinting, even at the price of family prosperity, on
behalf of the poor. His leadership was unrelenting, tough, but not --
God forbid! -- in the sense of male oppression. Quite the reverse,
this was the hard path of relieving the world of poverty and
oppression. Men, if you want to do your duty, turn all your money and
energy to ending poverty and indigence locally and in the world. Turn
off the Stupid Bowl and the Sadley Cup for a while, and act, plan, for
an end to oppression and tyranny. When they are stamped out, then you
can think about a pick up game, but not before. I will return to this
presently, it has big consequences; it is the theme behind the themes
of most of my essays recently and in the near future.

Bahiyyih Khanum also tells the story of the Master as father. Like
most parents in an age before antibiotics, He and the Holy Mother
Munirih Khanum underwent the unimaginable trauma of losing five of
nine children, most at a young age. Only four offspring survived, all
girls. Long story short, tremendous pressure by the believers was
brought to bear upon Father and Son to bear a male heir. The Covenant,
the Prophetic succession, the future of the Faith itself seemed to
hang upon primogeniture, the eldest boy taking over leadership. And
only girls were making it through childhood.

Surprisingly for many (for me, at least), Baha'u'llah did not stand in
the way of a second spouse for His Son; that would have meant more
chances for a male heir, and the Kitab-i-Aqdas did allow a second
wife. But according to Bahiyyih Khanum, Baha'u'llah stood back. He
intentionally did not forbid `Abdu'l-Baha from marrying again, saying
in effect, "If He wishes to do so, He may. Nothing stands in His way."
The Master, having the decision left to Himself alone, interpreted the
clause in the Aqdas allowing two wives max as effectively enjoining
monogamy since it said that the second marriage was conditional upon
peace and harmony.

Why all this sidestepping? Why was polygamy not just directly
forbidden in the Book? Clearly, there is a lesson, one especially
aimed at men, at men as fathers and heads of families. Our exemplar
had His chance, a decision was laid on His shoulders alone, and He
made it. He could have taken a second spouse legally and answered
expediency with a chance at a male heir. He freely elected not to and
was no doubt upbraided by some of those concerned.

So, now that the legal system in the West has swung around to give men
a similar choice, we all know for most men most of the time this is
not a real choice at all. Pick the ball and chain behind curtain
number one, or free sex without a hint of moral strings behind curtain
number two. Given that freedom, who can be surprised when pews empty
out and bleachers and porn sites are packed to the brim? Not
surprising that indicators of men shirking all unpleasant duties are
everywhere, top to bottom. One example on top is especially hard to
ignore, how a certain leader started his administration paying lip
service to a "culture of responsibility" (several decades after Shoghi
Effendi called this the "age of responsibility"), yet ignored cheap
and simple preventive measures that would have averted the flooding of
New Orleans. A city poor and largely Black, an unpleasant burden
ignored by the slacker father of the world's wealthiest nation, the
reverse of the virility and manliness shown by the Exemplar.

John Taylor


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Crime of Millennium

Solving the Crime of the Millennium

By John Taylor; 18 September, 2005

In the slightly more than three decades since I became a Baha'i in the
spring of 1973 the crime of the millennium took place. We have all
read the shocking statistics. We hear them over and over. For example,
the difference between the lowest to the highest paid worker in the
average American corporation went from a ratio of about thirty to one
to hundreds to one, and now it must be over a thousand to one. Nobody
literally put a gun to anyone else's head or even broke any laws but
this transferal of wealth surely dwarfs all violent crimes by all
criminals for all time.

How could such an injustice happen? How did we go from inequity that
is merely obscene to injustice that is truly exponential, astronomic,
out of the realm of conception? How did it come about so quickly, in
less than a single generation, and so easily, without a sign of
struggle or violent upheaval? And most of all, how could this economic
humping occur in an age when legal and moral equality were the
universal concern? The word "equality" was on everybody's lips, it was
laid out on every op-ed page in every newspaper ever since I can
remember. There was endless discussion of equality between men and
women, between the races, between this and that, but all the while in
economics equality squirted up like an ornamental fountain. Real
wealth and power bled out of the middle, out of the bottom, up, up and
away, and now literally billions of people are dirt poor, so indigent
that they must leave their babies to die off by the dozens every
second from easily preventable diseases while a tiny few swim in
funds, pulling the strings of more concentrated wealth than past
generations could have imagined existing even in their wildest dreams.
How did this happen?

I think that the solution to the crime of the millennium is right
before our eyes. It is to be found in the very nature of equality
itself. The quack cure prescribed in our time is not a cure, it is the
disease itself. The fundamental contagion of equality is the balance
of nature. How is nature the problem? Well, John Lock, among others,
held that it is man's nature to desire equality as our natural state.
We all want one equal right with all other human beings -- the right
to be left alone. He said that equality is for one and all,

"a state of perfect freedom to order their actions ... without asking
leave or depending upon the will of any other man." (Locke, Second
Treatise, p. 4)

What is wrong with that, you ask? Does not Baha'u'llah define justice
as seeing with your own eyes, knowing with your own knowledge? Is not
equality and independence from others a big part of the Baha'i
principle of search for truth?

Actually, there is a crucial difference here.

Lock's equality is one of action, Baha'u'llah's equality is of
thought. `Abdu'l-Baha taught that the reality (not the nature but the
reality) of man is his thought. It is not outer actions that matter
but the inner life, the heart. As long as we confine equality to the
freedom to order thoughts, not outer actions but invisible, spiritual
desires and thoughts -- then not having to "ask leave or depend upon
the will of any other man" will be a very good thing, our salvation,
complete paradise.

But think about it. What happens when equality extends outwards, into
action? What if everybody left everybody else alone, as natural,
Lockean equality dictates? What happens when one stops "asking leave
or depending upon the will of any other man?" Why, death, sudden
collapse. Unlike animals, humans depend wholly upon one another for
all of our goods and benefits. This is obvious.

While the generality sink in the mud of their own equality, a few are
propelled upwards to extreme profit. Without consciously planning it,
a policy of divide and rule comes into being, created by our concern
for equal rights itself. The Master pictured the result:

"A financier with colossal wealth should not exist whilst near him is
a poor man in dire necessity. When we see poverty allowed to reach a
condition of starvation it is a sure sign that somewhere we shall find
tyranny." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, 153)

Again, compare Baha'u'llah's words: "The heaven of divine wisdom is
illumined by the twin luminaries of consultation and compassion," with
Lock's definition: "perfect freedom to order their actions ... without
asking leave [consultation] or depending upon the will [compassion, or
feeling as one] of any other man." Here is where the theft, the crime
of the millennium, was conceived and nurtured. Equality was carried to
its natural consequences in outward things, inner energy and vitality
evaporated and wealth, the sign among us of God's ability to serve,
act and benefit creation, dissipated, squirted upwards and away.
Hearts and thoughts concerned only with material equality grabbed at
the forbidden fruit but held only powerlessness. We were cast out of
the garden.

The Master, like Sherlock Holmes, uncovered the perpetrator of the
crime of the millenium in 1913, while it was in its early stages. He
prescribed a perfect structural solution, one both personal and
scientific, one born of both luminaries of wisdom, consultation and
compassion. The few must feel compassion and act for true, inner
equality by coming together to consult and find permanent ways of
ending structural economic injustice. The Master said in Paris:

"Men must bestir themselves in this matter, and no longer delay in
altering conditions which bring the misery of grinding poverty to a
very large number of the people. The rich must give of their
abundance, they must soften their hearts and cultivate a compassionate
intelligence, taking thought for those sad ones who are suffering from
lack of the very necessities of life." (Abdu'l-Baha, Paris Talks, 153)

John Taylor


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Fear Factor

Bailey, Coincidence and Fear Factor

By John Taylor; 17 September, 2005

The Master said that we should be ready to begin our education again
at the drop of a hat, and I try to abide by that. Sometimes it seems
very hard to be so open minded when you are tripped up so often in
basic worldviews. For instance, I just read Michael Creighton's
potboiler -- his are the kind of novels that are ideal for me; they
could be summed up as "Plato's Socrates meets James Bond." It trashes
a number of the most cherished presuppositions held by
environmentalists, and by just about anybody else who opens their
mouth about environmental issues.

According to Creighton, and he documents his points with ample
scientific studies, there is little reason to accept the received idea
that global warming is fast upon us. In fact, the scientific evidence
is pretty strong that the world's climate is getting cooler. Be that
as it may, Creighton's main point is one that I agree with heartily,
that we have a long way to go before we could call this a scientific

Our science is badly corrupted, and to purify it we must take radical
measures so that scientific funding will be "double blind," in the
same way that scientific experiments are only considered valid when
they are controlled and blind. That is, scientists should not be aware
of who is paying for their studies. As soon as you know who is paying
the piper, it biases your vision and skews your results. We all want
to be responsible in managing our environment but we have a huge leap
to arrive anywhere near true integrity, both on the part of
specialists and by the general public.

What is happening instead of genuine inquiry is fear mongering on a
huge scale. While it is obvious that we need restraint and wisdom in
dealing with the natural world, too often environmental advocates rely
upon faulty evidence, "projections" of current trends that are,
objectively speaking, ridiculously unreliable. This does not help
their argument; it only weakens their own side and intensifies an
already badly politicized arena of discussion. Of course, Creighton
himself could be accused of fear mongering, since his previous novel
was full of dire warnings about the potential dangers of
nano-engineering. I guess, like Socrates, his service is to act as a
goad or gad-fly, a bug that challenges our imitation and vain
illusions; he pushes out of stale presuppositions and prompts us to
rethink things, to investigate reality with new eyes.

Another upset and change of thinking for me came with something
new-for-me that the Master said about the nature of coincidence and
chance occurrences. It is in an early Baha'i book that I had not until
now read from cover to cover, though parts are often cited in
secondary sources. This is "Daily Lessons" by Helen Goodall. I'll cite
the passage that threw me for a loop in full at the end of this essay,
so that you can judge for yourself. It is "pilgrim's notes" rather
than scriptural but seems to jibe with other things He said. It is
challenging to my day to day presuppositions, more perhaps than what
Creighton says in his novel.

I read this passage for the first time last night, not long after
taking the kids to the Youth Center for an evening's entertainment.
The Center had advertised a "fear factor" birthday party on their
window, and though our attendance has been irregular of late, both
Silvie (11) and Thomas (6) were interested in trying out this novel
kind of celebration. I had forgotten to bring my camera and stood
around without much to do as the large bunch of children and three or
four youths went through the trials.

First Bruce, the coordinator, broke them up into four teams and set
the four trials. The first went like this: each team threw two dice
twice, the first determined the number of gummy bears and the second
the number of gummy worms. The second throw decided which of the four
sauces would go with their repast: ketchup, vinegar or mustard. One
team representative had to eat what was on their team's plate, hands
behind the back. Silvie and Thomas stood well in back and were not

The second trial was for a girl team member to reach into a can of dew
worms and pull one out and put it on the table tennis table, the
longest worm being the winner. Silvie still hung back, and Thomas was
nowhere to be seen. Part two of this was for another member to hold a
worm on their nose, the one whose worm stays there the longest being
the winner. To my surprise, Silvie took the worm on her nose for this,
and kept it there until it was clear that hers and one other boy's
worm was there for the long term, so it was declared a tie between
them. Her comment was, "Well, it was better than having to eat the

Fear factor challenge number three was to eat soggy, water soaked
white bread. I personally find this act so disgusting that I did not
even want to watch what was going on. So I sat down by the big pool
table to rest my tired legs. A player there challenged me to a game of
billiards, but I said I do not play. Then a chatty 17 year old girl in
a wheelchair by the name of Bailey started a conversation with me.

"How many days do you get the kids this weekend?" she asked.

"Um, I get them every day, I am not divorced."
Lucky me. Bailey then shared the fact that she had been trying to get
a hold of her boyfriend on her cell all evening, leaving 17 messages
for him.

"Somebody might think that I am obsessed."

I really did not want to know but I did anyway. It transpired that
this boyfriend was Steve, a guy in a scooter I have seen around the
Youth Center quite a bit. The difference between a wheelchair and a
scooter seems to be in size and power; both are run by electric
motors. Steve seems more paralyzed than Bailey. He is a born-againer
but Bailey is as yet undecided about what her faith will be. I told
her I am a Baha'i but I had to repeat the word several times over the
noise of a room full of fear factoring kids. As often happens to me,
she did not seem to grasp what I was talking about, whether I was
naming a religion or a kind of disease. Since that was the direction
she wanted to go, I mentioned that I am disabled by migraine.

"Migraine and what else?" she asked.

"It is enough," I replied.

I did not want to get into more detail about my condition, lest I
sound even crazier than I already did. Lately, for example, I have
been staving off migraine attacks by filling my belly with water. Not
that I am complaining, it works, and you cannot say that it is too
expensive a therapy. It is just that it sounds strange if you mention
it to a stranger. A big electric wheelchair is simpler and more
eloquent to the uninitiated.

By then the kids were performing a relay race where they had to push
another team member's shoe across the floor with their nose. That did
not seem so bad to me. I'd do that, no problem. I just cannot abide
soggy bread. Bailey was the opposite, soggy bread she'd do, but none
of the others. She kept repeating, "That is morally wrong." It seemed
to me that the trials were chosen specifically not to be morally wrong
or dangerous, just as tasteless and repulsive; but I did not want to
get into that kind of hairsplitting discussion. I tried to invite her
to our monthly Baha'i meetings at the library, but she did not
understand, or hear, or both. I then said goodbye, rounded up the kids
and went home.

When I read what the Master said about "there are no coincidences," I
wondered about my meeting with Bailey. Was that a coincidence? Was
there a meaning? Would there be consequences from that meeting or was
it just another fruitless meeting and yet another name I will forget
in a week's time? I realized that even if I had the chutzpah to do so,
I could not invite her for a fireside in our home because our house is
not wheelchair accessible. The only way would be to hold a fireside in
the garage; not out of the question, we could have a movie night in
with a video projected on the inside of the garage door.

from: Daily Lessons Received at Akka, January 1908, Helen S. Goodall
and Ella Goodall Cooper, Bahai Publishing Trust, Wilmette, Illinois
60091, Rev. Ed., 1979


Question: Are there accidental happenings, or do all events occur
according to Divine plan?

Answer: God's creation is perfect. Every part of the universe has its
connection with every other part, according to a Divine system.

We compare the body of the universe with the body of man. The members
of the body of man are closely connected; so, also, are the parts of
the great universe. The great events which happen are due to this
connection. There is day, there is night; sometimes there are
eclipses, etc.-all according to the requirements of this Divine
system. All the created beings are connected with each other, and all
occurrences and events are indicative of the requirements of this
connection and interrelation.

In the body of man, all the members and parts are interdependent; for
example, the heart feels the things seen by the eye; the ear hears,
and the soul is thereby moved; the nostrils inhale a sweet odor, and
the whole body is delighted. This is a proof that all the parts of the
body of man are interrelated. This is according to a Divine plan, and
it is also evident that there is a great wisdom therein.

Even unpleasant things, such as a chill in the feet which is felt in
the head, a disagreeable odor which affects the whole system, or
trifles (which are endless,


and seem to be accidental) such as a small hair appearing in an
unusual place on a man's face, should also be considered as having a
place or part in this general system. Therefore, what we call an
accident is the effect of the connection of all the parts, and no
events transpire in vain.

Referring to the Tablet sent to Mr. Dealy previous to the flood and
hurricane at Fair Oaks, Alabama: "Be not grieved if the clouds of the
Violation of the Covenant are condensed in those regions."

Question: Are great calamities like this flood, the San Francisco
earthquake, etc., caused by the wickedness of the people?

Answer: It belongs to the lesson of yesterday.

Events like these happen because of the connection between the parts
of the universe, for every small part has connection with every great
part, and what affects one affects the other or all the others.

On account of this connection, the actions of man have effect.
Whenever a promise is broken, it causes a commotion. For instance,
suppose two nations have a disagreement. It is a difference in ideas
only, and not a physical thing, not anything we can touch or see; yet
this disagreement has a physical effect. It causes war, and thousands
of men are cut in pieces. So, when man breaks his promise to God, in
other words when he "violates the Covenant," the effect is physical,
and calamities appear.

A man may be condemned to death because he is a


murderer, another because he is a thief, another may be punished for
many different kinds of crimes, but Jesus Christ was put to death
because He wished to become a sacrifice, so there are other causes of

John Taylor


Friday, September 16, 2005

More on the Master's First Talk

Deeper Meanings Under the Floorboards of the Master's First Talk

By John Taylor; 16 September, 2005

The best public talks I have ever heard have one thing in common, the
speaker seems assiduously to be consulting not mind or memory but
their own spirit during the discussion -- in the same way that another
might look up and down from a page of partially memorized notes. In
the Master's first talk in London He describes what goes on during
such communication:

"The sea of the unity of mankind is lifting up its waves with joy, for
there is real communication between the hearts and minds of men. The
banner of the Holy Spirit is uplifted, and men see it, and are assured
with the knowledge that this is a new day." (ABL, 19)

This assurance of oneness is what you feel when such an inspired
speaker reaches out and touches the heart. This is what the Master did
before all the imitators: He started spirits communicating on a deeper
level than words normally plumb. Older musicians speak of this
happening, rarely, during the most memorable live performances that
took place in the course of their lives. It comes without warning,
they say, in front of an audience that is small and not only
knowledgeable but somehow perfectly receptive to the message in the
music. I had an experience like this a few weeks ago listening to a
taped performance of -- who else? -- Johann Sebastian Bach. I dropped
off into an interstitial state; suddenly the notes seemed to step
aside and there between each of them loomed a universe, an entire
dimension of spiritual potential. I saw what the Master spoke of when
He said:

"This is a new cycle of human power. All the horizons of the world are
luminous, and the world will become indeed as a garden and a
paradise." (Id.)

It is easy to forget the tremendous power that is placed in our hands,
qua human beings. That is, not as individuals, not as groups but as
humans, as mirror images of the One. The power we get in this "cycle
of power" is from the reflection, not from ourselves. Our brilliance
and luminosity comes of God, and the only way that we will turn the
world into a "garden and a paradise" is for the pure and just to
reflect the light direct from the source, the sun.

One of the inspired speeches that I am thinking of when I talk of
spirit speeches is recorded on video by Renee Pasaro. This Californian
woman as an adolescent had a near-death experience while in the early
stages of investigating the Baha'i Faith. Our community showed it for
our monthly public fireside this week and -- following a suggestion
distributed on the Net -- the chair of the meeting invited anyone
interested to Ruhi Book One, which deals with life, death and
afterlife in its third section. We had several Baha'is attend and they
seemed appreciative, though none bit the hook.

Pasaro's experience in the next life included meeting up with a Being
Who called Himself the "Blessed Beauty," who spoke of a people called
"the just," a people who are, He said, the hope of the world. Her
brush with death gave her new values, a holistic perspective on the
meaning of life. Years later on pilgrimage she saw a new building
being erected. This was the very one that she had glimpsed in the next
world, the seat of the Universal House of Justice. Here was where "the
just" were centered.

I was moved to go over Plato's Phaedo once more with the lessons that
Pasaro shares in this video in mind. For example, she testifies that
the means of propulsion, as it were, in the next world is love. If you
do not have love for God in you, you stay still. You are like an
astronaut on an EVA whose jet pack runs out of fuel. If you love God,
you progress, if not you are stranded, crippled, done. Also, she was
told a simple but essential truth: the pain and suffering that seemly
blight our lives is, from the perspective of the next life, to be
regarded as a great opportunity. It is not sad or tragic but cause for

This is what enables the eye to see: if all before us were brightness
and light, Pasaro was told, the eye would be blinded. Conversely, if
all were dark and blackness, the eye would, just the same, see
nothing. In order to function the eye needs both. We need bright and
shadow, white and black, to discern all the degrees and colors between
the extremes. In the same way, spiritual vision requires joy and
suffering, right and wrong, both extremes and all the degrees between
in order for truth and reality to be visible to heart and mind. If all
were joy, or all were pain, spiritual faculties would not work. Hence
the Manifestation experiences the greatest suffering --not the least
suffering -- because He is bringing the greatest joy, the light of the
divine. Great light casts the darkest shadows.

Socrates in the Phaedo discusses the consequences of this insight at
length, explaining why he and all philosophers are seeking death all
their lives and yet shy away from suicide or other direct means of
wasting one's life. He accepted death at the hands of the state not as
a shallow political protest but as a spiritual act, a sacrificial
oblation, literally. The hemlock he drank then allowed him to pause on
the way out and give us a message that is essential, even today. It
seems meant by God to ready us for understanding Jesus and the more
abstruse and complex messages of the Manifestations that followed

What was most unique and difficult about Jesus? I lately read that His
method of teaching by means of parables is unique to Him; there is no
record of any rabbi using this teaching method until Jesus neither in
the Torah nor any other commentary. In a parable, the point of the
story is missing. It sacrifices itself by vacating, fleeing. In a
parable the specific moral is gone and the hearer must supply her own
according to her own spirit. In other words, only the just, who sees
with his or her own eyes and thinks with his or her own mind will ever
get it right. It is as if the meaning of Jesus along with His body
were put up on the cross and sacrificed. Only the just, those going in
His direction, can grasp His meaning. `Abdu'l-Baha in the City Temple

"The gift of God to this enlightened age is the knowledge of the
oneness of mankind and of the fundamental oneness of religion."

One human reality, one faith in that One. So, the only way to be just
is to perceive and act upon this gift and sacrifice self so that all
will reach this goal, as Others did before us. This mutual sacrifice
with its meaning hiding its head in the next world is the basis of the
"real communication" that He talks of.

What the Master lays out in the rest of His maiden speech we will
discuss next time. Blessings and peace be upon you.

John Taylor


Monday, September 12, 2005

Off the Wall

Off the Wall; The Kenosis of Jesus and the Bab

By John Taylor; 12 September, 2005

I had the task -- distressing to every book lover -- of disposing of
four boxes of Hungarian books lately. My Magyar is too rusty for them
to offer any prospective benefit but one I hung onto, a translation of
a work left over from the 1970's originally entitled "Your Graffiti
Handbook." Since the original wall scrawling is reproduced as found,
with a Magyar translation below, I was able to benefit from the often
strikingly original street philosophy within. One I like because I
thought just that very often as a student, as I am sure every student
does during the decades of excruciating, ghastly inefficient
preparation for life that we call schooling:

"Man was born to live, not to prepare for life."

The following graffito made me laugh long and hard, starting off as it
does seemingly straight from a situation actually described in the
Gospel of St. John,

"Jesus said to them: `Who do you say that I am?' and they replied,
`You are the psychological manifestation of the ground of our being,
the kenygma of which we find the ultimate meaning in our interpersonal
relationships.' And Jesus said, `What?'"

Again, a student's protest against pompous teachers who imagine
themselves greater than the Source of knowledge that they have been
honored with the service of passing on to the next generation. Now
that I think of it, since Jesus did not speak Greek but Aramaic He
might well have reacted that way had John or Peter given him that
answer. Swallowing my pride at looking up a word taken off a toilet
stall wall, I found the definition of Kenosis in my trusty Shorter
Oxford Dictionary,

"(theology) The self-limitation of the divine power and attributes by
the Son of God in the Incarnation."

The dictionary points to its origin in a Greek phrase translated by
"emptied himself" in the following letter of Paul:

"Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing
in the form of God, didn't consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the
likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God
also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every
name; that at the name of Jesus every knee would bow, of those in
heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every
tongue would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God,
the Father." (Ph 2:5-11, World English Bible)

Evidently what Paul had in mind by "emptying himself" was the
contemporary scientific axiom that "nature abhors a vacuum." Air,
seeing a vacuum, rushes in to fill the empty space as soon as it
occurs. Nor is this as simplistic a concept as it seems at first
blush. Galen a few centuries after Paul quotes Erasistratus as saying:
"there cannot be a perceptible space which is entirely empty." In view
of what Twentieth Century science discovered about black holes, this
is a surprisingly astute observation. Even now we cannot detect black
holes directly since they suck in all light and EM radiation. We do
observe their gravitational effects on stars and other interstellar
matter around them, so we know that they exist.

The older and usually less accurate King James Version of the Bible
translates Kenosis not by "emptying himself" but "made himself of no
reputation." This, it seems to me, hits the nail on the head, being
much closer to the psychological reality of Kenosis. The KJV has Paul

"Jesus Who, being in the form of God ... made himself of no
reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..." (1 Philippians
2:4-8, KJV)

Kenosis, emptying oneself, means entering into the power born of
sacrifice, giving up all that people value most, life, self,
self-esteem, fame, good repute. Jesus Christ attained victory by
emptying himself, taking all suffering upon his head, defeat, hatred,
all the marks of powerlessness and failure in worldly eyes. This
sacrifice became a sort of black hole, a vacuum from which nothing
meaningful leaves. So in the end His name and life attained the summit
of reputation, they are remembered while the whole Roman Empire and
all its dominions are now a dead letter. He thus emptied Himself into
the most attractive, self-effacing, power in the universe, the Holy
Spirit. The essence of Spirit is the fact that it constantly renews
itself. A king is not a king without a kingdom; God has un-eclipsed
dominion, just as the sun never extinguishes itself.

The Bab seems to offer commentary upon Paul's understanding of Kenosis
at the start of a tablet He wrote to a Muslim divine. He points out
that the idea that all divine revelation ended with the sealing of the
revelation of Muhammad is what is obscuring his vision, since that
very belief contradicts the grounds of spirit, renewal. The power of
the words of Jesus, of Muhammad, of the Bab, is that they came from
unlearned, unqualified minds, yet they won out over the most learned
of their age. These illiterates started real, lasting revolutions.
"For who else but God can reveal to a man such clear and manifest
verses as overpower all the learned?" The Bab then sums up the full
implication of Kenosis, that emptying out is of all but God, so as not
to stand empty handed before God on the Day of Judgment:

"The essence of these words is this: Were We to bring thee to a
reckoning, thou wouldst prove thyself empty-handed; We in truth know
all things..." (The Bab, Selections, 31)

John Taylor


Saturday, September 10, 2005

Early Pilgrimage

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\fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\fs41\charscalex86\insrsid3430779\charrsid1002524 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE
\par }{\f2\fs29\charscalex66\insrsid3430779 by }{\charscalex87\insrsid3430779 MAY MAXWELL}{\charscalex87\insrsid7218198 , }{\f1\fs19\insrsid11041274 GEORGE RONALD, }{\fs20\insrsid11041274 Oxford, }{\f1\fs19\insrsid11041274 1917}{\f1\fs19\insrsid3430779
\par }{\charscalex87\insrsid1794854\charrsid7218198
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\par }{\fs23\insrsid11938672 We sailed from Marseilles on February 9}{\fs23\super\insrsid11938672 th}{\fs23\insrsid11938672 , }{\insrsid11955836\charrsid11955836 1898}{\fs23\insrsid11938672 , on board the }{\fs18\charscalex136\insrsid11041274 S}{
\fs18\charscalex136\insrsid11938672 .}{\fs18\charscalex136\insrsid11041274 S}{\fs18\charscalex136\insrsid11938672 . }{\i\fs23\insrsid11938672 Carthage }{\fs23\insrsid11938672 bound for Bombay and arrived in Port Said on February 13}{
\fs23\super\insrsid11938672 th}{\fs23\insrsid11938672 . We were met on board by Ahmad Yazdi and Nurullah Effendi. They did everything
for us, got us rooms at the hotel, attended to our baggage, and during the time we were there came to us almost every hour of the day and evening, inviting us to their homes, taking us to drive, and indeed showing us a love and kindness such as we had nev
er seen before. At the time we could not understand the spirit which ani\-
mated them, but afterwards we knew that we were dead and they were living and were quickened with the love of God. On the afternoon of our arrival Nurullah Effendi called for us and dr
ove us to his house, where we met his dear wife and daughters with the same radiant faces and wonderful love that we had seen in our two brothers, and there for the first time we beheld the face of our beloved Master. I could not remove my eyes from this
picture, and these friends gave us each a copy and a lock of hair of the Blessed Perfection. Then we were
\par }{\fs23\insrsid1794854
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\par }{\insrsid1794854\charrsid1794854
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entertained with tea and many sweet cakes, and when we left, although not a word had been spoken except through an occasional inter\-
pretation of our brother, we were united in an indissoluble bond of love, and we felt that no language could have been more eloquent than that silence in which our hearts alone had spoken.
\par We were obliged to wait two days for the little boat running along the coast of Beirut, and we went on board about seven o'clock on the even\-
ing of the 15th accompanied by our faithful brothers: With what deep feeling they entrusted to us messages of love for their Master and with what longing eyes they watched us as we sailed away. Ah! soon I was to understand! I remem\-
ber how calm the sea was under the noonday sun when we stopped at Jaffa the next day, and we spoke of the little house of Simon the tanner and the wonderful vision S1. Peter had on that housetop. We v
isited this historic spot on our return trip; now every hour that separated us from our Beloved seemed all too long. So we continued on our journey, sitting quietly on deck until the twilight fell about us, the shadows deepened, and with the gathering dar
kness the stars shone out one by one, large and effulgent in that clear atmosphere. We
\par }{\fs16\insrsid11938672 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 12}{\fs16\insrsid11938672
\par }{\fs23\insrsid11938672 arose and went forward and saw looming up through the darkness, dimly at first, but grow\-ing ever more distinct and grand, the noble outline of Mo
unt Carmel, then the twinkling lights along the shore, and the breath of the Holy Land was wafted to us laden with the perfume of roses and orange blossoms.
\par There were two Russian pilgrims on board who for hours had been standing motionless at the ship's
rail facing the east, and now their steadfast gaze was on 'Akka, and thus we all stood in prayer and worship as the ship slowly entered the bay of Haifa and cast anchor. Then followed a confusion of boats, lights and voices which we heeded not until we we
e rowed ashore and saw the faces of our American brothers beaming upon us. They greeted us cordially as they helped us out, and said, 'Our Master is in Haifa.' We were driven to the house which the Master had taken for the American pilgrims and cordially
greeted by sister Maryam and others, and we retired to spend our first night in the Holy Land, between waking and sleeping, waiting for the sunrise of that glorious day.
\par On the following morning, Friday the }{\charscalex88\insrsid11938672 17}{\super\charscalex88\insrsid11938672 th}{\charscalex88\insrsid11938672 , at about seven o'clock, sister Maryam hurried into our room and announced that 'Abdu'l-Baha
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs17\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs17\insrsid13652283 13}{\fs17\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 would arrive in a few moments. We had barely time to dress when a sudden stir without set all our beings in commotion. We went out into a large central hall from which opened all the
rooms in the house and opposite the door of one of these we saw the shoes of the believers; thus we knew that the blessed Master was within.
\par The others preceded me. In a moment I stood on the threshold and dimly saw a room full of people sitting quietly a
bout the walls, and then I beheld my Beloved. I found myself at His feet, and He gently raised me and seated me beside Him, all the while saying some loving words in Persian in a voice that shook my heart. Of that first meeting I can remember neither joy
or pain nor anything that I can name. I had been carried suddenly to too great a height; my soul had come in contact with the Divine Spirit; and this force so pure, so holy, so mighty, had overwhelmed me. He' spoke to each one of us in turn of ourselves a
nd our lives and those whom we loved, and although His Words were so few and so simple they breathed the Spirit of Life to our souls. To me He said among other things:
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid2578016 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 You are like the rain which }{\fs22\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 o}{
\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 ured upon the earth making it bud and blossom and }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\tx1354\tx4680\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs17\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs17\insrsid2578016 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 13
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 become fruitful,' so shall the Spirit of God descend upon you, filling you with fruitful\-ness and you shall go forth and water His }{
\i\fs23\insrsid1002524 v}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 ineyard. Now your troubles are ended and you must wi}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 e away your tears, for you kno}{\i\fs23\insrsid13586296 w}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 the parable that
Christ spoke of the sower and the seed; and so as in nature the good ground is made ready by rain and storm and ploughing and sunshine for the good seed to be sown, so }{\fs22\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441
it in life, and the heart }{\fs22\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 made ready by all experience for the seed of life.'
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 The
Russian Jews who had been on the boat the night before now arrived, their faces shining with a great light as they entered His Presence. We could not remove our eyes' from His glorious face: we heard all He said; we drank tea with Him at His bidding; but
exist\-ence seemed suspended, and when He arose and suddenly left us we came back with a start to life: but never again, thank God, to the same life on this earth }{\fs23\charscalex90\insrsid8135441 ! }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
We had 'beheld the King in His beauty. We had seen the land which is very far off.'
\par Our beloved Master returned at noon to lunch with us and again at supper-time, and whenever He arrived many of the believers followed. They always knew just where He
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs19\insrsid8135441
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\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid8135441 was day and n}{\fs23\insrsid2578016 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 ght and seemed to surround Him by their watchful l
ove ; yet wholly unobtrusive, never approaching Him in public, always humble and submissive, waiting for His least command, seeking to render the humblest ser\-
vice. That evening He invited us all to meet Him on Sunday morning under the cedar trees on Mount
Carmel where He had been in the habit of sitting with Baha'u'llah. We were all most happy in this hope, and great was my disappointment next morning when I found myself quite ill. As soon as the Master arrived for breakfast He came directly to my room an
d walking over to my bedside took both my hands in His, passed His hand over my brow, and gazed upon me with such gentleness and mercy that I forgot everything but the love and goodness of God, and my whole soul was healed and comforted. I looked up }{
\fs23\insrsid5725927 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 nto Hi
s face and said: 'I am well now, Mawlana.' But He smiled and shook His head and bade me remain there quietly, until He should return at noon. Although I had been suffering during the night, all pain and distress were gone, and I slept quietly. That night
we were sitting together with some members of the Master's family; the room was d}{\fs23\insrsid5725927 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 mly lighted by candles which cast strange shadows on the walls and
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY. PILGRIMAGE }{\charscalex91\insrsid8135441 15
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 low ceiling; the 'latticed windows opened on to the narrow street flooded with moonlight and as we sat thus in silence wa}{\fs23\insrsid9661338 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
ting for our Master we heard His voice in the hall, and all arose to greet Him as He appeared on the threshold, and the light of His beautiful countenance was. shed upon us.
\par On Sunday morning we awakened with the }{\fs23\charscalex69\insrsid2578016 joy}{\fs23\charscalex69\insrsid8135441 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 and hope of}{\fs23\insrsid2578016 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
the meeting on Mount Carmel. The Master arrived quite early and after look\-ing at me, touching my head and counting my pulse, still holding my hand He said to the believers present: }{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid8135441
'There will be no meeting on Mount Carmel to-day. We shall meet else\-where, lnsha'all}{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid5725927 a}{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid8135441 h, in a few days, but we could not go and lea}{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid2578016 v}{
\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid8135441 e one of the beloved of God alone and sick.}{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid2578016 }{\i\fs22\charscalex107\insrsid8135441 We could none of us be happy unless all the beloved were happy.' }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
We were astonished. That anything so important as this meeting in that blessed spot should be can\-
celled because one person was ill and could not go seemed incredible. It was so contrary to all ordinary habits of thought and action, so different from the life of the world where daily events and material c}{\fs23\insrsid2578016 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
rcumstances are supreme in importance that it gave us a genuine shock of surprise, and in that shock the foundations of the old order began to totter and fall. The
\par }{\i\fs15\insrsid2578016 A}{\i\fs15\insrsid8135441 N }{\fs16\insrsid8135441 EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid2578016 16}{\fs16\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
Master's words had opened wide the door of God's Kingdom and given us a vision of that infinite world whose only law js love. This was but one of many times that we saw 'Abdu'l-Baha place above every other consideration the love and kindness, the sympathy

and compassion due to every soul. Indeed, as we look back upon that blessed time spent in His presence we understand that the object of our pilgrimage was to learn for the first time on earth what love is, to witness its light in every face, to feel its b
urning heat in every heart and to become our\-se}{\fs23\insrsid5725927 l}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
ves enkindled with this divine flame from the Sun of Truth, the Essence of whose being is love. So on that Sunday morning He sat' with us for awhile and we thought no more of the meeting on Mount Carmel, for i
n the joy and infinite rest of His presence all else was swallowed up.
\par Next day, Monday, others of our party, who had been up the Nile, arrived, and later our Beloved told us that He would be obliged to go to 'Akka that day as important government matters made His immediate presence there in\-
dispensable. Then He told us all to be happy and cheerful for soon we should be in the home of our Heavenly Father, and He bade us be ready to leave for 'Akka on Wednesday morn-
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\tx1344\tx4670\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid5794197 }{\charscalex87\insrsid8135441 17
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid8135441 ing at about 6 o'clock, and then bade each one a loving farewell. On Tuesday His daughters and my spiritual mother, Lua, arrived from 'Akk}{
\fs23\insrsid5725927 a,}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 and on that same afternoon we received visits from several cousins and other members of the holy family who lived in Haifa. On Tu
esday night I told my spiritual mother that the Master evidently did not realize how ill and weak I was or He would never have expected me to leave with the others on Wednesday morning. Oh! We of little faith! No wonder she smiled and shook her head, sayi
ng, 'You will soon realize something of the power of 'Abdu'l-Baha.'
\par It was about dawn when I awoke, feeling myself stirred by a breeze. I cannot describe what followed, but through my soul was flow\-ing an essence; a mighty, unseen force was penetrating all
my being, expanding it with boundless life and love and happiness, lifting and enfolding me in }{\fs23\insrsid9661338 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
ts mighty strength and peace. I knew then it was the Holy Spirit of God and that our Lord was praying for His servants in that blessed dawn, and I arose and prayed and was quite well. At an early hour we all met and set out i}{\fs23\insrsid9661338 n}{
\fs23\insrsid8135441 carriages for the holy city and the merciful spirit of God never left us as we drove along the shore, dra}{\fs23\insrsid5794197 w}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 ing ever nearer
\par }{\fs16\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid5253949 18}{\fs16\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 to the earthly abode of Him who was the Glory of God, His bounty descending like rain upon our souls. Our hearts were too full for w}{\fs23\insrsid14163619 o}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
rds and in reverent silence we gazed upon the walled city as it lay white and clear and beauti\-ful in the still morning light, with the deep, blue Mediterranean at its feet and the dome of the luminous sky above. We crossed two streams }{
\fs23\insrsid5253949 w}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 hich flowed from the land into the sea, the horses wading up to their sides, }{\fs23\insrsid5253949 an}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 d reached at last the stone gates of 'Akk}{\fs23\insrsid14163619 a}{
\fs23\insrsid8135441 , drove through the narrow, picturesque streets where the early-rising oriental world was up and stirring, and arrived at the house of}{\fs23\insrsid14163619 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 '}{\fs23\insrsid14163619 Abdu\rquote l-Baha}{
\fs23\insrsid8135441 .
\par We passed through a large stone doorway opening on to a square court and ascended a flight of steps which led to the apartments above. There, standing beside the window
of a small room, overlooking the azure sea, we found our Beloved. We came to His feet and poured out our overwhelming love and thankfulness, while He laid His hands on our heads and spoke low and tenderly to His poor ser\-vants. The Greatest Holy Leaf }{
\insrsid5253949\charrsid6968995 (1)}{\fs10\charscalex171\insrsid8135441 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 now entered, with the Holy Mother}{\fs23\insrsid6968995 (}{\insrsid8135441\charrsid6968995 2}{\insrsid6968995 )}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 and her daughters, and

\par }\pard\plain \ql \li0\ri0\widctlpar\aspalpha\aspnum\faauto\adjustright\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid6968995 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\insrsid6968995\charrsid6968995 (1)}{\fs10\charscalex171\insrsid6968995 }{
\insrsid8135441\charrsid6968995 'Abdu'}{\insrsid5253949\charrsid6968995 l}{\insrsid8135441\charrsid6968995 -Baha's sister. }{\fs23\insrsid9661338 (}{\insrsid9661338\charrsid6968995 2}{\insrsid9661338 )}{\fs23\insrsid9661338 }{
\insrsid8135441\charrsid6968995 'Abdu'}{\insrsid5253949\charrsid6968995 l}{\insrsid8135441\charrsid6968995 -Baha's wife.
\par }\pard\plain \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\fs18\insrsid8135441
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\tx1267\tx4594\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid5253949 }{\fs22\insrsid8135441 19
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid8135441
they welcomed us with love and tears of joy as though we had been parted for awhile but had returned at last to our heavenly home, as indeed we had! They took us to our rooms which, alas!, they had vacated for our sakes; they gave us every comfort, antici
pated every need and surrounded us 'with care and }{\fs23\insrsid14163619 attention}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 ; yet through it all shone the light of wonderful spirituality, through these k}{\fs23\insrsid5253949 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 ndly human chan\-
nels their divine love was poured forth and their own lives, their own comfort, were as a handful of dust; they themselves were utterly sacrificed and forgotten in love and servitude to the divine threshold.
\par During the three wonderful days and nights we spent in that sacred spot we heard naught but the mention of God; His Holy Name was on every tongue; His beauty' and good\-
ness were the theme of all conversation; His Glorious Cause the only aim of every life. Whenever we gathered together in one of the rooms they spoke unceasingly of the Blessed Perfection, relating incidents }{\fs23\insrsid5253949 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
n the life of the Beloved, mentioning His words, telling of His deeds and the passionate love and devotion of His followers until our hearts ached with love and longing. There were some women in the household who were clad all in white and we
\par }{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid5253949 20}{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 learned that they were the wives of martyrs, and we heard the tragic and glorious histories of many' of our Persian brethren.
\par Onl}{\fs23\insrsid5253949 y}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 the morning of our arrival, after we had refreshed ourselves, the Master summoned us all to Him in a long room overlooking the Mediterranean.
He sat in silence gazing out of the window, then looking up He asked if all were present. Seeing that one of the believers was absent, he said, ' }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 Where is Robert?' }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
This was a coloured servant, whom one of the pil\-grims in our party, in her generosity, had sent to 'Akka. In a moment Robert's radiant face appeared in the doorway and the Master rose to greet him, bidding him be seated, and said,}{\fs23\insrsid5253949
\'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 Robert, your Lord loves you. God gave you a black skin, }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 b}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 ut a heart white as snow.}{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 \'94}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 Then our Master spoke and said:
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid5253949 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 We can all serve in the Cause of God no matter what our occupation is}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 . }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441
No occupation can prevent the soul coming to God. Peter 'was a fisherman, yet he accomplished most wonderful things; }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 b}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 ut the heart must be turned always toward God, no matter what }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949
our occupation }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 is; this is the important thing; and then the power of Go.d will work in us. }{\i\fs22\charscalex66\insrsid8135441 T1/ }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 e are like a piece of iron in the midst of the }{\fs23\insrsid8135441

\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\f2\fs17\insrsid8135441 21
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 fire which becomes heated to such a degree that it partakes of the nature of the fire and gives out the same effect to all it touches- , so is the soul that is always turned toward God, and filled with the spirit;'
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 One of the believers asked how we could cut our hearts from the world, and 'Abdu'l-Ba}{\fs23\insrsid15601575 h}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 a }{\fs23\insrsid1794854 answered:}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 If your hearts are turned always toward God, and filled with the love of God, that love will separate them from all other things, that love will be the wall that will come between them and every
other desire. You must all be joined one to another in heart and soul, then you will be prospered in your work and gain ever greater gifts, and the Cause of God will be spread through all the countries by your means. Remember what Christ }{
\i\fs23\insrsid728704 sa}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 id,}{\i\fs23\insrsid728704 }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 you have taken the gifts of God without money and without price}{\i\fs23\insrsid728704 ;}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441
so also you must freely give. This command shows too that all these gifts are sent to you by the free generosity of your God and not on account o}{\i\fs23\insrsid728704 f}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 any merit on you}{\i\fs23\insrsid728704 r}{
\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 part, and you must rejoice greatly in the loving mercy of your God upon you and all. For all will taste of these free gifts before long. They will come
\par }{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\f2\fs17\charscalex110\insrsid5253949 22}{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 from the East and from the West to the Kingdom of God; and even as Christ has foretold this also has come to pass, that some of those who are nearest are cut off, whilst those from a far distance receive these great gifts}{
\fs23\insrsid8135441 .}{\fs23\insrsid728704 \'94}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid8135441 We all met again at table for dinner, and as we sat down to our first meal in the holy house\-hold a great light shone upon us, and the Master said: }{
\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 'Blessed }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 he who shall eat bread in the Kingdom of God.' }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
Then He told us that the prophecy of Christ was now fulfilled and that we should thank God unceasingly and with all our hearts for' this great blessing which it was beyond our power at present to re
alize. He told us that the meal was composed of two parts, spiritual and material. That the material food was of no importance, and its effects only lasted twenty-four hours, but the spiritual food was the life of the soul, and that the effects of this me
l which we were enjoying would last for ever and ever. During the dinner our Master talked to us and taught us, referring to Christ, quoting His utterances and prophecies, and always speaking with a clearness and simplicity which any child could comprehen
d; yet His symbols and metaphors, drawn always
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid15601575 23}{\fs16\charscalex105\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 from nature, embodied that essence of wisdom and truth which baffles the learned and great. Our Master always answered all questions, however trivial, with the utmost courtesy and responded genially to every subject of conver\-
sation; yet we noticed that He gave the most commonplace subject a higher, significance, and transformed material things into spiritual realities. For instance, if anyone mentioned that the food was delicious, He smiled lovingly on the speaker and said:

\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 That is because your heart }{\fs22\charscalex108\insrsid8135441 is f}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441 ull of love; when the heart is filled with love everything seems b}{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949
eautiful and delightful to us.\'94}{\i\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 Then He told us the story of the hermit; how once when the Blessed Perfection was trave
lling from one place to another with His followers He passed through a lonely country where, at some little distance from the highway, a hermit lived alone in a cave. He was a holy man, and having heard that Our Lord, Baha'u'llah, would pass that way, he
watched eagerly for His approach. When the Manifestation arrived at that spot the hermit knelt down and kissed the dust before His feet, and said to Him: 'Oh, my Lord, I am a poor man living alone in a cave nearby;}{\fs23\insrsid5253949
but henceforth I shall account}{\i\fs35\charscalex50\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs16\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid15601575 24}{\fs16\insrsid8135441
\par }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 myself the happiest of mortals}{\fs23\insrsid5253949 . I}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 f Thou wilt but come for a moment to my cave and }{\fs23\insrsid15601575 b}{\fs23\insrsid8135441 less it by Thy Presence.'}{\fs23\insrsid5253949
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs23\insrsid8135441 Then Baha'u'llah told the man that He would come, not for a moment but for three days, and He bade His followers cast their
tents, and await His return. The poor man was so overcome with joy and gratitude that he was speechless, and led the way in humble silence to his lowly dwelling }{\fs23\insrsid5253949 i}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
n a rock. There the Glorious One sat with hjm, talking to him and teaching him, and toward evening the man bethought himself that he had nothing to offer his great Guest but some dry meat and some dark bread, and water from a spring near\-
by. Not knowing what to do he threw himself at the feet of his Lord and confessed his dilemma. Baha'u'llah comfo
rted him and by a word bade him fetch the meat and bread and water; then the Lord of the universe partook of this frugal repast with joy and fragrance as though it had been a banquet, and during the three days of His visit they ate only of this food which
seemed to the poor hermit the most delicious he had ever eaten. Baha'u'llah de\-clared that He had never been more nobly entertained nor received greater hospitality and love. }{\i\fs23\charscalex115\insrsid8135441 'This,' }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
exclaimed the Master, when He had finished the story, }{\i\fs22\insrsid8135441 'shows us how little man}{\fs23\insrsid8135441
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid8135441 {\fs16\insrsid8135441 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid15601575 25}{\fs16\insrsid8135441
\par }{\i\fs22\insrsid8135441 requires when he is }{\i\fs22\insrsid677978 n}{\i\fs22\insrsid8135441 ourished }{\i\fs21\charscalex89\insrsid8135441 by }{\i\fs22\insrsid8135441 the sweetest of all foods }{\fs22\insrsid8135441 - }{\i\fs22\insrsid8135441
the love of God.' }{\fs23\insrsid8135441 At the end of the dinner one of the Indian boys who served at table brought in a basket full of flowers sent by Abul-Qasim, the gardener of the Ridv
an. The Master received them with pleasure, and held the fragrant bunches to His face, then gave one to each of the believers. Often 'He would hand to one of us, in passing, a bunch of blue hyacinths, these pure symbols of the hyacinths of wisdom and know
ledge growing in the garden of EI-'Abha.
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs23\insrsid8135441
We had learned that to be with 'Abdu'l-Baha was all life, joy and blessedness. We were to learn also that His Presence is a purifying fire. The pilgrimage to the Holy City is naught but a crucible in which the souls
are tried; where the gold is purified and the dross is consumed. I t did not seem possible that anything but love could ever again animate,}{\fs23\insrsid4993196 }{\fs23\insrsid8135441
our words and actions. Yet that very afternoon, in my room with two of the believers, I spoke against a brother in the truth, finding fault with him, and giving vent to the evil in my own heart by my words. While we were still\'b7
sitting together our Master who had been visiting the poor and sick, returned, and immediately sent for my spiritual mother, Lua, who was with us. He told her that during }{\fs112\charscalex50\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE
\par }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 His absence one of His servants had spoken unkindly of another, and that it grieved Hi~ heart that the believers should not love one another or that they should speak against any soul. Then He charged her n
ot to speak of it but to pray. A little later we all went to supper, and my hard heart was unconscious of its error, until, as my eyes sought the beloved face of my Master, I met His gaze, so full of gentleness and compassion that I was smitten to the hea
t. For in some marvellous way His eyes spoke to me; in that pure and perfect mirror I saw my wretched self and burst into tears. He took no notice of me for a while and everyone kindly continued with the supper while I sat in His dear Presence washing awa
some of my sins in tears. After a few moments He turned and smiled on me and spoke my name several times as though He were calling me to Him. In an instant such sweet happiness pervaded my soul, my heart was comforted with such infinite hope, that I knew
He would cleanse me of all my sins.
\par The next morning we assembled as before to hear His words, and when we were all present He said:
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\i\fs23\insrsid15601575 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 All the sufferings you pass through in gaining the Kingdom of God will be obliter\-ated when you attain its perfect happi
ness. It }{\fs23\insrsid13652283
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\f2\fs25\charscalex77\insrsid13652283 27
\par }{\i\fs22\charscalex108\insrsid13652283\charrsid9787777 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 as a }{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 m}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
an who has been ill and helpless for two or three years and afterwards becomes well and strong, then all remembrance of his pain 'vanishes. The happiness of the King\-dom }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
a perfect one unlike the imperfection of our best earthly conditions and }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
never again to be clouded by any vestige of sorrow. Whatever troubles we have on our way to the Kingdom are a test to the soul. When man enters this world it }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 in troubles and hard\-
ships, but he comes fro}{\i\fs23\insrsid15601575 m}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the invisible to the visible to gain great things for himself. As the material birth }{\fs22\charscalex108\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
a time of trouble, so also }{\fs22\charscalex108\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the spiritual. The way to God }{\fs22\charscalex108\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
strewn with troubles and difficulties, but remember always what Christ said: }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 "}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 Though the body is weak the spirit is powerful." }{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 Many}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
great men and women have desired, century after century, to live in this wonderful Age of God, and you ought to thank God 'with all your heart that you have been chosen to be here at this time. Christ s
aid that the stone the builders rejected became the headstone of the corner. This means that the s}{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 iritually great men and women of the world have been rejected and des}{\i\fs23\insrsid5253949 p}{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ised in all times by the builders of the world; but that now in this, the time of the Kingdom, these spiritual ones }{\i\fs38\charscalex64\insrsid13652283 }{\i\fs38\charscalex64\insrsid5253949
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\f2\fs23\charscalex85\insrsid5253949 28}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 will become the chief stones in the building. The wise man works not for the present moment but for the good results of the future. See in the winter how bare and}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
lifeless the trees and plants seem, without leaves a}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 nd}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 without fruit. Suppose one should pass by at this time who knew nothing of the condition of the earth and saw a man ploughing it up and}{
\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 c}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 asting grain in the furrow. }{\i\insrsid9787777\charrsid12344722 W}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ould }{\i\fs23\insrsid12344722 h}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 e not say, }{\fs23\insrsid12344722 \'93}{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 How foolish this man is. He is troubling himself for no result, working for no purpose and }{\i\fs23\insrsid12344722 w}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 asting that which would g}{\i\fs23\insrsid12344722 iv}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
e him food".}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 But in due time the showers descend upon the earth, the sun shines, the breezes blow and we see the result in a great beauty and production.}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 }{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 So is the work of the }{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 H}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 oly Spirit in your hearts. The earthly sun is like the Sun of Truth}{\i\fs23\insrsid12344722 ;}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the rain }{\fs22\insrsid13652283
is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the shower of the mercy of God; the seed is the }{\i\fs22\charscalex79\insrsid12344722 W}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ord of God}{\i\fs23\insrsid12344722 ;}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
the air the fragrant waves of His Holy Spirit and the soil }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the hearts of the peo}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
le. Now the spiritual seeds are being scattered throughout the world, and the heat of the Sun of Truth is penetrating power\-fully through all souls, and the breeze of the Spirit is blowing through the world and the sho}{\i\fs23\insrsid9787777 w}{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ers of the mercy of God are falling on the hearts of the people. The result will be
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid5253949 29}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid5253949 {\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 a great and wonderful harvest and every tree and branch and shrub will bear fruit, and you will see it.'
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs25\charscalex92\insrsid13652283\charrsid1002524 In }{\fs22\insrsid13652283
a large hall where we dined, were hanging two parrots in cages, and these, besides all the sparrows that flew in at the windows, twittering in the rafters overhead, made a great noise, so the Master bade one of the Indian boys remove the cages; and then t
e conversation turned on the treatment of animals. 'Abdu'l-Bahi said we should always be kind and merciful to every creature; that cruelty was sin and that the human race should never injure any of God's creatures, but ought to be always careful to do not
hing to diminish or exterminate any order of living thing; that human beings ought to use the animals, fishes and birds when necessary for food, or any just service, but never for pleasure or vanity and that it wa}{\fs22\insrsid5253949
s most wrong and cruel to hunt.}{\fs22\insrsid13652283
\par Then Mrs. Th
ornburgh asked permission to tell a story of a little boy who had stolen a bird's nest full of eggs, and a lady meeting him on the road stopped him and rebuked him: ' Don't you know that it is very cruel to steal that nest? What will the poor mother bird
do when she comes to the tree and finds her eggs all gone?' And the little boy looked up at the lady and }{\fs22\insrsid5253949
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid5253949 30}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 said: 'Maybe that is the mother you have got on your hat.' How the Master laughed, and He, said: }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 'That is a good story and a clever little boy.'
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 The above incident is only one of many show\-ing with what a universal spirit of joyousness, sweetness and sympathy the Master touches on all the concerns of our daily life, so that }{\insrsid12872597\charrsid12872597 I }{
\fs23\insrsid13652283 have never seen such happiness nor heard such laughter as at 'Akk}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 a}{\fs23\insrsid13652283 . The Master seems to, sound all the chords of our human nature and set them vibrating to heavenly music.
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs23\insrsid13652283
How wonderful to be able to see our beloved Master at any hour, to hear His divine voice, to lie down beneath the same roof which sheltered His blessed person! But indeed every hour spent in His presence has no place in time and no part in the life of thi
s world. Those days are unfading, eternal. They were the goal for which all life before was but a preparation, and the source from which all life since has flowed. When, in the tw}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 i}{\fs23\insrsid13652283
light, all in the household had gathered together, and spoke in quiet tones of the Blessed Perfection and our Master, sud\-
denly the glorious light of His presence would shine upon us, and all would rise to meet Him as He entered; then He would sit silently in our midst, while H}{\fs23\insrsid5253949 i}{\fs23\insrsid13652283 s daughter Ruha chanted a
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid14377454 31}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 Tablet, and there would be about Him such heavenly}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 beauty, from His Blessed Being}{\fs23\insrsid13652283 would emanate such supreme mildness, gentle\-
ness, and humility as wrung our hearts with shame and sorrow for our sins, yet lifted them on, mighty wings of hope and aspiration. He
always bade us all good-night, telling us to rest well in our Father's home and to dream beautiful dreams; and in the morning He would greet us early and enquire of each one con\-
cerning their spiritual health and happiness, showing the most loving solicitude for those who were not well.
\par On one occasion one of the American believers said to the Holy Mother that she was now an orphan since her parents did not believe. The wife of our Master took the girl in her arms, laid her head on her breast and told her
that she was now her mother; therefore she should be comforted. Then she took her into the presence of the Master and sitting on the floor before Him in the most natural manner, sti}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 ll}{\fs23\insrsid13652283
holding the girl close to her loving heart, she told Him all. 'Abdu'l-Baha said: }{\fs23\insrsid6968995
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid12872597 \'94M}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 aterial relationship is nothing, it bears no eternal fruits. You are the child of}{\i\fs23\insrsid12872597 God and of the Kingdom and the }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ties of}{\i\fs23\insrsid6968995
}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 the flesh are nothing, but the ties of the s}{\i\fs23\insrsid12872597 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 irit are all. I am your father, these are }{\i\fs40\charscalex56\insrsid13652283 I
\par }{\fs17\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs17\insrsid14377454 32}{\fs17\insrsid13652283
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 your brothers and sisters, and you must be glad and rejoice, for}{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 I love you exceedingly.'
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 On Friday morning the Master told us that we would, that day, visit the Holy Tomb \'b7of Baha'u'llah. Accordingly, that afternoon, we all set out in carriages and drove through
the narrow streets, out through the stone gates into the beautiful surrounding country in the direc\-
tion of the Bahji and the garden of the Ridvan. It was a beautiful day, the sky was blue and clear, the sun shone with eastern warmth and splendour, a light breeze stirred and the air was perfumed with roses.
\par After driving for about half an hour we reached the garden where Baha'u'llah spent much of His time during His long years of exile in 'Akka. Although this garden is small it is one of the loveliest spot
s we had ever seen. Baha'u'llah frequently said to His gardener, Abul-Qasim, }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 'This is the most beautiful garden in the world.' }{\fs23\insrsid13652283
With its tall trees, its wealth of flowers, and its fountains, it lies like a peerless gem surrounded by two limpid streams of water just as it is described in the Qu'ran; and the atmosphere which per\-
vades it is so fraught with sacred memories, with divine significance, with heavenly peace and calm that one no longer marvels to hear of
\par }{\fs17\insrsid14377454 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 33
\par the traveller who, passing one day before its gates, paused and gazing in saw Baha'u'l}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 la}{\fs23\insrsid13652283 h seated beneath the shade of the mulberry trees, 'that canopy not made with hands,' and re\-
membering the prophecy in the Qu'ran, he recognized his Lord and hastened to prostrate himself at His feet.
\par We visited the little house at the end of the garden and stood on the threshold of that room where Baha'u'llah was wont to sit in hot weather, and one by one we knelt down, and with tears of love and longing kissed the ground where His blessed
feet had rested. We re\-turned to the garden, where Abul-Qasim made tea for us, and there he told us the story of the locusts. How that during one hot summer there had been a pest of locusts and they had con\-
sumed most of the foliage in the surrounding coun
try. One day Abul-Qasim saw a thick cloud coming swiftly towards the garden, and in a moment thousands of locusts were covering the tall trees beneath which Baha'u'llah so often sat. Abul-Qasim hastened to the house at the end of the garden and coming bef
ore his Lord besought Him, saying: 'My Lord, the locusts have come, and are eating away the shade from above Thy blessed head. I beg of Thee to cause them to depart.' The Manifestation smiled, and
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs23\insrsid14377454 34}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 said: }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 'The locusts must be fed; let them be.' }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 Much chagrined, Abul-Qasim returned to the garden and for some time watched ,the destruc\-
tive work in silence; but presently, unable to bear it, he ventured to return again to Baha\-'u'llah and humbly entreat Him to send away the locusts. The Blessed Perfection arose and went into the garden and stood beneath the\'b7
trees covered with the insects. Then He said: }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 'Abul-Qasim does not want you, God protect you.' }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 And lifting up the hem of His robe He shook jt, and immediately all the locusts arose in a
body and flew away.
\par When Abul-Qasim concluded this story he exclaimed with strong emotion as he touched his eyes: 'Oh, blessed are these eyes to have seen such things; oh, blessed are these ears to have heard such things.' In parting he gave }{\fs14\insrsid13652283 I:lS }{
\fs23\insrsid13652283 flowers, and seemed, like all the oriental be\-lievers, unable to do enough to show his love. We then entered once more our carriages, and still gazing back at that lovely spot, we drove towards the Holy Tomb.
\par 'Abdu'l-Baha met us opposite the group of buildings comprising Bahji, the terrace, the little tea-house and the Holy Tomb. When we alighted we found a group of more than one hundred oriental believers waiting for us. }{\fs23\insrsid14377454
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid14377454 35}{\f2\fs27\charscalex73\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283
Knowing that we were among the first American pilgrims to that Holy Spot they had come from all directions to behold our faces, and their own shone with a love and joy which amazed us, and which we can never forget. We mounted the steps leading to the ter
race above and entered the tea-house, and there we found our Beloved seated by an open window. He arose to wel\-
come us, and greeting us with infinite love, He bade us be seated and to partake of some tea which was being prepared on a little table by His faithful servant, 'Ali Muhammad. Then with a}{\fs23\insrsid12872597 }{\fs23\insrsid13652283
word of excuse He left us. He stepped out on to the terrace and with His hands clasped behind Him and gazing upward He walked to and fro. As not the least action or word of the Master's is without a purpose and a m
eaning, we soon saw that He was walking on the terrace so that all His servants might behold Him; and we saw our oriental brothers stand\-
ing in a group on the grass below, perfectly motionless and silent, gazing in rapt love and devotion on the Blessed One
. Who, indeed, could remove their gaze from His face, so luminous, so calm and so glorious! Never was our Beloved more beautiful than on that day, when we were about to enter with Him into the hallowed precincts of the Holy Tomb. As we }{
\par }{\fs17\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs17\insrsid14377454 36}{\fs17\insrsid13652283
\par }{\i\fs25\charscalex90\insrsid13652283 gazed }{\insrsid13652283
on Him, we could only love Him, follow Him, obey Him, and thereby draw nearer to His beauty. I understood that we could not fathom the mystery of His being; we could only hope to be engulfed therein }{\insrsid14377454 \'85}{\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs31\charscalex75\insrsid13652283 By }{\insrsid13652283 and by He came to the door of the tea\-room, and the lightning of His glance fell on us and He said in a quiet, low tone: ' }{\i\insrsid13652283 We}{\i\insrsid12872597 }{\i\insrsid13652283
are now going to visit the Holy Tomb. When you are praying in that di}{\i\insrsid14377454 v}{\i\insrsid13652283 ine spot remember the promise of Bah}{\i\insrsid14377454 a}{\i\insrsid13652283 'u'll}{\i\insrsid14377454 a}{\i\insrsid13652283
h, that those who attain this pilgrimage shall receive an answer to their prayers, and their wishes shall be granted.' }{\fs26\insrsid13652283 He }{\insrsid13652283
then bade us follow Him and descended the steps, followed by the American pilgrims, then: all the other believers in a body behind us, and in this order, the Master walking a few yards in a
dvance, we proceeded slowly toward the Tomb of Baha'u'llah. When we reached the outer door 'Abdu'l-Baha removed His shoes and motioned us to do likewise. We followed him through a passage-way into a square court' with a glass roof, and in the centre a plo
t of earth where flowering bushes and mandarin trees were growing. As we entered, a door }{\charscalex110\insrsid13652283 i}{\charscalex110\insrsid12872597 n}{\charscalex110\insrsid13652283 }{\insrsid13652283
the opposite corner opened and the ladies of the holy family arrived, thickly veiled; they came forward and greeted us tenderly. At the
\par }{\fs17\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs22\charscalex86\insrsid13652283 37
\par }{\insrsid13652283 further end of the court is a door at one side, and within is the Holy Tomb. As we gazed upon this veiled door our souls stirred within us as though seeking release}{\insrsid12872597 ,}{\insrsid13652283
and had we not been upheld by the mercy of God we could not have endured the poignancy of joy and sorrow an}{\insrsid12872597 d}{\insrsid13652283
love and yearning that shook the foundations of our beings. The blessed Master was calm and radiant and led us to the open space at the end of the
court beside the Tomb, where, in the mellow light of a stained glass window, we all stood in silence until He bade one of our group to sing }{\i\fs23\charscalex115\insrsid13652283 The }{\i\insrsid13652283 Holy City. }{\insrsid13652283
No pen could describe the solemn beauty of that moment, as, in a broken voice, this young girl sang
the praise and glory of God, while all were immersed in the ocean of the Divine Presence. The tears of the pilgrims flowed and strong men wept aloud. Then 'Abdu'l-Baha led us to the door of the Tomb where we knelt for a moment, then He opened the door and
led us in. Those who have passed that threshold have been for a brief moment in the presence of God, their Creator}{\insrsid12872597 ,}{\insrsid13652283
and no thoughts can follow them. The Tablet of the ,Holy Tomb was chanted by a young Persian, and when we left that blessed spot the oriental pilgrims entered slowly, until all had been within; then
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid14377454 38}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 our Beloved closed the door, and after singing }{\fs22\insrsid14377454 N}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 earer, my God, to Thee }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 at His}{\fs22\insrsid14377454 }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 request, we quietly withdrew.

\par Outside we found the carriages waiting at a little distance, and 'Abdu'l-Baha, leaving us to follow slowly, walked to a slight rise in the rolling green fields before us and there stood against the so}{\fs22\insrsid13641169 ft}{\fs22\insrsid13652283
background of the evening sky. Oh, most glorious form! Standing there }{\fs22\insrsid13641169 i}{\fs22\insrsid13652283 n the gathering twilight with the sunset fadin
g in mild ' tints from the western sky and the full moon rising above His divine head. We returned to our home in 'Akka in the cool of the evening through that perfumed land which is forever blest and holy above all places, 'the joy of the whole earth.'

\par From that time a great peace descended upon us, and in the heavenly calm and beauty of that last night in 'Akka, we were girded w}{\fs22\insrsid13641169 i}{\fs22\insrsid13652283
th strength for the future. We were to leave next morning for Haifa, and in the afternoon we would be again on the sea, every hour taking us further from the presence of 'Abdu'l-Bah}{\fs22\insrsid13641169 a}{\fs22\insrsid13652283
. When we awoke on Saturday morning it seemed that the full realization of this separation descended like a great darkness upon us, and we were utterly alone in the wide world, save only for Him. He called us to Him at an early hour, and as }{
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 39
\par we gazed upon His merciful face we saw that He knew all and that He would uphold us and give us strength; that verily He was sufficient for the whole world. In the might and majesty of His pr
esence our fear was turned to perfect faith, our weakness into strength, our sorrow into hope and ourselves forgotten in our love for Him. As we sat before Him waiting to hear' His words, some of the believers wept bitterly. He asked them for His sake not
to weep, nor would He talk to us or teach us until}{\fs22\insrsid13641169 all tears w}{\fs22\insrsid13652283 ere banished and we were quite calm. Then He said:
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 'Pray that\'b7 your hearts may be cut from you}{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 r}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 selves and from the world, that you may }{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 be confirmed by the H}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
oly Spirit and filled }{\i\fs23\insrsid13641169 w}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ith the fire o
f the love of God. The nearer you are to the light, the further you are from the darkness; the nearer you are to heaven, the further you are from the earth; the nearer you are to God, the }{\i\fs23\insrsid13641169 f}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
urther you are from the world. You have come here among the first and your reward }{\fs22\charscalex105\insrsid13652283 is }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 great. There arc two, visits; the first is }{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 f}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
or a blessing; then ye come and are blest and are sent forth to work in God's 'vineyard,' the second ye co}{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 m}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 e with music and the banners flying, like soldi}{\i\fs23\insrsid14377454 er}{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 s, in
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\tx1\tx1268\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\fs23\insrsid13652283 \tab }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs23\insrsid14377454 40}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }\pard \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 {\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 gladness and trium}{\i\fs23\insrsid11041274 p}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 h to receive your reward. }{\i\fs22\insrsid13652283 If }{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 in times past those who have risen up and' gone forth in the Cause of God have be}{\i\fs23\insrsid13641169 en}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
helped and confirmed by His spirit, even to' , suffering death for Him, how much greater is the flood of life with which ye shall}{\i\fs23\insrsid11041274 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
be: flooded now! For this is the end and the full revelation, and I say unto you that anyone who will rise up in the Cause of God at this time s}{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 hall be filled with the spirit of}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
God, and that He will send His hosts from heaven to help you, and that nothing shall be im\-possible to you if you have faith. And now I give you a commandment which shall be for a covenant between you and Me }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 - }{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 that ye have faith}{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 ; }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 that your faith be steadfast as a rock that no storms }{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 can}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 m}{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 ov}{
\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 e, that nothing can disturb, and that it endure}{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 thro}{\i\fs23\insrsid11209952 u}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
gh all things even to the end,' even should ye hear that your Lord has been crucified, be not shaken in your faith,' for I am with you always, whether living or dead, I am with you to the end. As ye have faith so shall your powers and bless
ings be. This is the balance }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 - }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 this is the balance }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 -- }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 this is the balance.'
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 Then He arose and bade us follow Him. He led us into the next room, and there resting on }{\fs22\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs16\insrsid11041274 41}{\fs16\insrsid13652283
\par }{\fs23\insrsid13652283 a divan against the wall was the portrait of Baha'u'llah. We fell
on our knees before it, and the tears that flowed were of pure love and adoration. We could have remained thus for ever with our eyes fastened on that wonderful face, but the Master touched us on the shoulder, that we might see also the picture of His Hig
h\-ness the Bab. His was a beautiful y}{\fs23\insrsid11041274 o}{\fs23\insrsid13652283 ung face, but I could not keep my eyes from the eyes of Baha'u'llah, until 'Abdu'l-Baha turned sud\-
denly to us, and raising His voice in a tone so poignant that it pierced every heart, He stretched His hands above us and said:
\par }{\i\fs23\insrsid11041274 \'93}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 Now the time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies, in spirit we are united. Ye are the lights }{\i\fs23\insrsid16000075 wh}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283
ich shall be diffused}{\i\fs23\insrsid16000075 ;}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ye are the waves }{\i\fs23\insrsid16000075 of}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 that sea which shall spread and overflow the world. Each wave is precious t
o Me and My nostrils shall be gladdened by }{\i\insrsid16000075\charrsid16000075 your}{\i\fs13\charscalex110\insrsid16000075 }{\i\fs13\charscalex110\insrsid13652283 }{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 frag\-
rance. Another commandment I give unto you, that ye love one an}{\i\fs23\insrsid16000075 o}{\i\fs23\insrsid13652283 ther even as I love you. Great mercy and blessings are promised to the people of your land, but on one condi\-
tion: that their hearts are filled with the fire of love, that they live in perfect kindness and harmony like one soul in different bodies. If
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE 42
\par }\pard\plain \ql \li0\ri0\widctlpar\aspalpha\aspnum\faauto\adjustright\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid16000075 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075
they fail in this condition the great blessings will be deferred. Never forget this}{\i\insrsid16000075\charrsid16000075 ;}{\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075 look at one another with the eye of perfection}{\i\insrsid16000075\charrsid16000075 ; look}{
\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075 at Me, follow }{\i\insrsid16000075\charrsid16000075 m}{\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075
e, be as I am; take no thought for yourselves or your lives, whether ye eat or whether ye sleep, whether ye are comfortable, whether ye are well, or ill, whether ye are with friends or foes, whether ye receive praise or blame}{\i\insrsid16000075 ;}{
\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075 for all of these things ye must care not at all.' Look at Me and be as I am}{\i\insrsid16000075 ;}{\i\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075
ye must die to yourselves and to the world, so shall ye be born again and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Behold a candle how it gives its light. It weeps its life away drop by drop in order to give forth its flame of light.'
\par }\pard\plain \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\fs22\insrsid13652283
When He had finished speaking we were led gently away by the members of the Holy Family, and for a moment it seemed that we were dying; but our Master never removed His compas
sionate gaze from our faces, until we could see Him no longer, for our tears. Then we were clasped one after the other in the arms of the Holy Family, and the hearts were wrung, and it seemed as if all the cords of life were breaking; until, as we drove'
away from the home of our Heavenly Father, suddenly His
\par }{\fs16\insrsid13652283 AN EARLY PILGRIMAGE }{\fs22\insrsid13652283 43
\par }\pard\plain \ql \li0\ri0\widctlpar\aspalpha\aspnum\faauto\adjustright\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid16000075 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\insrsid13652283\charrsid16000075 spirit came to us, a great strength and tran\-
quillity filled our souls, the grief of the bodily separation was turned into the joy of spiritual union.
\par }\pard\plain \s15\ql \li0\ri0\sbauto1\saauto1\nowidctlpar\faauto\rin0\lin0\itap0\pararsid13652283 \fs24\lang1033\langfe1033\cgrid\langnp1033\langfenp1033 {\fs22\insrsid13652283 We had left our Beloved
in His glorious prison that we might go forth and serve Him; that we might spread His Cause and deliver His Truth to the world; and already His words were fulfilled:
\par }{\i\fs22\insrsid13652283 \'93The time has come when we must part, but the separation is only of our bodies,' in spirit we are united forever.\'94
\par }}

I have scanned in May Maxwell's short masterwork, An Early Pilgrimage.
It is not in Ocean so you may want to add it. This is the original
source not only for "look at me, be as I am" but also the often quoted
"as ye have faith so shall your powers and blessings be..." I highly
recommend reading this tiny book as inspiring reading for your down
times, when you feel discouraged. If anybody ever makes up one of
those tour guide recordings, they could not do better than to just
read from this text.

Why am I scanning this in now? Because of the commemoration of the
Master's visit to Montreal, for the publicity He got there, better
than almost anywhere else in His Western tours, was the result of the
sweat and tears of May Maxwell, a superstar Baha'i if ever there was
one, one the guardian raised to the station of martyr. Enjoy this
wonderful, wonderful text. By the way the title is an example of her
humility, it is not the story of an early pilgrimage but of the first
one by Western believers.

By the way, if you are in this area, I will be giving a slideshow of
the Master's trip at the Caledonia library, tomorrow, Sunday, at 2 PM.

John Taylor