Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Where did the idea of unity in diversity come from?

p02 Where did the idea of unity in diversity come from?

Feb 14, 2024

Where did the idea of unity in diversity come from?

I’m trying out the new Gemini AI today. I was wondering about the idea of unity in diversity came from. Is it unique to the Baha’i teachings? Surely not. Philosophically, any group has to have some stance on what they agree upon, its unity, and what can be allowed to branch out, its diversity. Wherever you find unity there must be diversity. And conversely, wherever you find diversity the commonalities must oriented to some sort of unity. In view of that, here was my first question for the AI:

Where did the idea of unity in diversity come from? Is it a Hindu teaching?

While the idea of "unity in diversity" can be found across various cultures and throughout history, its origins are somewhat complex and can't be attributed to a single source. There are multiple contenders claiming its birthplace, including:

1. Hinduism: The concept is often associated with Hinduism, particularly through the motto "Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti", meaning "Truth is one, the wise call it by many names." This reflects the diverse paths within Hinduism that ultimately lead to the same Brahman, the ultimate reality. However, it's important to note that Hinduism emphasizes both unity and diversity, not just unity alone.

2. Sufi Philosophy: Another strong contender is the 13th-century Sufi scholar Ibn al-ʿArabī, who proposed the concept of "wahdat al-wujud" (oneness of being). This emphasized the underlying unity of all existence, with individual beings seen as expressions of the one divine reality. His ideas likely influenced later thinkers and contributed to the concept's development.

3. Other Sources: Similar themes can be found in various cultures and periods. The ancient Javanese poem Kakawin Sutasoma (14th century) uses the phrase "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" (Unity in Diversity) to promote religious tolerance between Hindus and Buddhists. Additionally, philosophers like Leibniz in the 17th century used related concepts, suggesting there were diverse influences.

Therefore, while Hinduism has a strong connection to the idea of unity in diversity, it's not exclusive to them. It's a multifaceted concept with roots in various philosophical and cultural traditions, evolving and adapting throughout history.

My next question was: Is it an indigenous teaching?

While the specific phrase "unity in diversity" may not be directly traceable to one specific Indigenous tradition, concepts reflecting harmony amidst diverse perspectives and interconnectedness within diverse communities are deeply woven into many Indigenous worldviews.

Here are some examples:

North America:

The Anishnaabe Four Colours of Humanity teaching recognizes four distinct groups with unique contributions, emphasizing their interconnectedness and importance to the whole.

Iroquois Confederacy's motto "Strength in Unity" embodies the power of diverse nations joining forces for a common good.

South America:

The Qolla Suyo (Inca Empire) incorporated diverse ethnicities and languages, valuing each for its unique cultural contributions.

The Mapuche concept of "Mapuche Kimün" emphasizes interconnectedness of humans, nature, and spirits, valuing differences within their unified world view.


Dreamtime stories often depict diverse landscapes and beings interconnected through complex relationships.

The Yolngu concept of "Yirritja" speaks of interconnectedness and mutual responsibility within diverse clans.

It's important to note that Indigenous cultures are immensely diverse, and generalizations can be misleading. However, recognizing and respecting diversity while fostering connections and interdependence is a common thread observed across many Indigenous traditions. This aligns with the broader theme of "unity in diversity" even if the exact phrase originated elsewhere.

Next time, a revised essay I wrote originally in 2010 about the idea of unity in diversity.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Questions about Baha'i Symbols on Reddit

Questions about Baha'i Symbols on Reddit


Illustration, my non-artistic depiction of the Haykal pentagram. Maybe some artist can supply me with a better one.

jet nov 2023 response to this question in reddit:

I am a post-graduate student who is studying about Baha'i. There are so many questions arise in my mind when studying about the symbols of Baha'i Faith, which from what I know of, including the Ringstone symbol, The Greatest Name and the nine-pointed star. Could you recommend any academic study that related to these symbols (and may add in any other symbols if I'm missing) or anything I should read to know more about the faith? Also (do) these symbols have any spiritual or sacred meaning to Baháʼís' life or faith?

We've been studying the Tablet of the Temple, or haykal, and the Lawh-i-Maqsud, etc., and this is what I have learned about this over the past year.

The symbology of Sufism is taken directly from the Qur'an, and the symbols of Baha'u'llah are taken directly from Sufism, not unaltered, but at least nominally. The entire early Writing career of Baha'u'llah both roots into and separates itself off from Sufi thought. Thus the official or exoteric symbol of the Faith is the nine-point star, which simply means unity, the main goal of this religion. However, the "real" or esoteric symbol of the Faith is the five point star, or pentagon, or haykal, temple, or the Greatest Name. Taken all in all, this is a symbol of God as reflected in the heart. In material form, it is instantiated in the Mashriqu'l Adhkar or "Dawning Place of the mention of God," which we are building in communities around the world. The latest one to step out of planning to construction is here in Canada, in part of Toronto. "Adhkar" is the superlative form of Dhikr, or remembrance, or devotion, or worship of God. Baha'is repeat our Dhikr 95 times daily.

So yes, the haykal is extremely sacred and utterly central to the devotional life and service of every Baha'i. Ideally and eventually, every believer will say dawn prayers in the local Mashriq and then, often, serve the community through the several benevolent institutions that will one day surround it. So these are symbols and more than symbols, they lead through thought to active service in the most holistic way. It all starts and ends in the "master key" or symbol of the haykal star, which is a symbol of the knowledge of God.

When we "Grok" God -- the meaning of Heinlein's word "grok" is almost identical with the Baha'i (and other faiths') concept of knowledge of God, knowing God by becoming His image in the mirror of the heart. Baha'u'llah uses in several places the symbol of three "words" of God, creating us, bringing us to recognition of Him, and protecting the purity of that gift. Entranced by that knowledge of the divine and holding to His values utterly with passionate, self-sacrificing love, we pass it into a career of service to all humanity. 

The pentagon reflects the five Sufi realms of God, the top point being Hahut, or "himness", for the Godhead, the originator of all, the One universal, inaccessible ruler. He, through His holy spirit and Manifestation, rules over creation with the same "sovereignty" that the brain rules over the body. This is symbolized in the next level down, the highest level possible for any but God, the realm of Láhút.

You can read all about this on the "Baha'i symbols" Wikipedia page that has already been pointed to, as well as here:

This is the realm of the Manifestation of God. Down under that, from our viewpoint, the left "leg" of the haykal, is the realm of nature, Nasut meaning humankind, or Ensan (humanity) in Arabic. We are children of the half light, the light of nature and the light of the Divine. If we are wise, we reflect the latter, and rule wisely over the natural realm, as Gen 1:26 says,

"Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over..." (NIV) basically the entire natural world. As Baha'u'llah says in several important places, God leaves all that external sort of rule up to us and our leaders. God's desire is only to rule over the Haykal, the heart, which is the best thing anyway. Hence the first Arabic Hidden Word, which tells us to "posses a pure, kindly and radiant heart" in order to gain the eternal and imperishable dominion bequeathed to mankind in Genesis 1:26. So, again, referring to your question,

"Also (do) these symbols have any spiritual or sacred meaning to Baháʼís' life or faith?"

There is a footnote in the article I pointed to that should not be ignored as most footnotes tend to be,

"Moojan Momen states that the "last four realms appear to be addressing the first realm in the Long Obligatory Prayer (salát-i kabír): "I testify unto that whereunto have testified all created things (násút), and the Concourse on high (malakút), and the inmates of the all-highest Paradise (jabarút), and beyond them the Tongue of Grandeur itself from the all-glorious Horizon (láhút), that Thou art God... " Bahá'u'lláh, Prayers and Meditations, No. CLXXXIII, (the terms in between brackets do not occur in the original text. The terms used are: ashyáʼ, al-maláʼ al-aʻlá, jannat al-ʻulyá, and al-ufuq al-abhá.)"

In mulling over this startling footnote over the past year, I have come to the entirely personal opinion that it is impossible to fairly "try out" the Baha'i Faith without correctly saying this long obligatory prayer over a given period. You can read a thousand books, but (I'm paraphrasing something Baha'u'llah said) saying that prayer right, even once, is enough.

Wednesday, November 08, 2023

p39bwri On the new online version of the search engine Ocean, with sample on two Great Being statements

 The new online version of the search engine Ocean, specifically version 2.0, gives an unprecedented glimpse into secondary Baha'i literature, that is, books about the Faith. Since we have been studying the "Great Being" statements in the Tablet to Maqsud, I include the following example, from Nader Saiedi, "The Birth of the Human Being: Beyond Religious Traditionalism and Materialist Modernity." The full text (which Ocean 2.0 includes in its results) is available online at:

Specifically Saiedi is discussing Great Being statements numbers six and seven, "Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth... It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." Saiedi proposes that this statement has the following consequences for the baseline from which human ethics will, as a result of this Revelation, operate:

"In this statement Bahá’u’lláh identifies the human being as one who is characterized not by the will to domination but by dedication to the universal interests of the entire human race. Universalistic orientation of service is the defining feature of the human being. In this statement, a social and political interpretation of Darwinism which finds human society a jungle of struggle for existence is replaced by a consciousness of the oneness of humanity, an attitude of service to all human beings, and a morality that is not based upon naturalistic ties of kinship, blood, or habit. That is why Bahá’u’lláh immediately identifies a new sense of morality.

"According to Durkheim, the boundary of morality is the boundary of the social group. Human beings identify themselves collectively in terms of their own group and follow a moral double standard in their behavior towards insiders and outsiders. People outside the group become strangers, objects, and enemies whose domination, enslavement, plunder, and murder are perceived as heroic moral acts. In fact, the premodern definition of human beings was primarily based upon such a conception of humans as members of specific communities and their sense of natural belongingness to the group. However, this “social belongingness” was based upon naturalistic feelings, ties of kinship, and habits of everyday interaction. 

"Such a naturalistic morality was a pact of collective violence against other groups. Rejecting that premodern definition of the human being, Bahá’u’lláh proposes a new sense of morality and honor based upon the universal and rational concept of humanity. We now leave the realm of natural feelings and enter the realm of spirit. Honor is not for the one who loves his own country but rather for the one who loves the entire human race. Such a novel framework requires a new conception of identity, in which human beings are not defined in terms of opposition to others but instead by their mutual interdependence and symbiosis. 

The entire planet Earth becomes the home and neighborhood of a person: the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens." 

(The Birth of the Human Being: Beyond Religious Traditionalism and Materialist Modernity, by Nader Saiedi, published in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 21:1-4, pages 1-28, Ottawa: Association for Bahá'í Studies North America, 2011)

Thursday, November 02, 2023

p39bwri Notes on Talismans

 jet essay on talismans 2002

jet November 2023; I stumbled upon this old essay I wrote 21 years ago on Talismans. Here also are some more recent notes on Talismans.


Of Temples and Talismans

28 December, 2002

"... I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple." (Isa 6:1)

someone asked,

>>>> what does Haykal mean? Does it mean Temple, or Talisman or both?

The article on that site with the tablets of the Báb written as five pointed stars quotes Peter Smith as saying that,

"the idea that a physical object can provide the wearer with some form of supernatural protection is common in religions around the world. The Báb instructed his followers to make and wear talismans, and there are numerous references to these in his writings."

This is a partial quote from Smith's excellent "Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith," which has a very short article on "talismans." In this article Smith goes on to say that the Bahá'í Faith de-emphasized the mystical use of talismans that was prominent in Bábísm in order to exalt reason and science. He closes the article by mentioning at least two remaining talismanic promises of protection in the writings. One is the last part of the long healing prayer, "protect the bearer of this blessed Tablet ... and whoso passeth around the house wherein it is..." 

The other is the Master's promise (Lights of Guidance, 520) that anyone will be protected who hangs His portrait, a copy of the Greatest Name, and wears the ring stone symbol. I would note that the House cites that tablet in a way that seems to interpret the specific evil being fended off in this context as that of covenant breaking. Here is how they cite the same tablet,

"Bahá'ís recognize that evil is negative and has no existence in its own right, but that does not mean that there is no power in evil. Do not Bahá'u'lláh and Abdul-Baha warn us repeatedly of the spiritual infection of Covenant-breaking? In one of His Tablets, Abdul-Baha wrote:"

"...if you seek immunity from the sway of the forces of the contingent world, hang the Most Great Name in your dwelling, wear the ring of the Most Great Name on your finger, place the picture of Abdul-Baha in your home and always recite the prayers that I have written. Then you will behold the marvellous effect they produce. Those so-called forces will prove but illusions and will be wiped out and exterminated." (Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1998, Dec 16, Traditional practices in Africa)

I think this gives a good insight into the talismanic use intended for the Haykal tablet. It is meant to bolster our understanding and thus defend against false imaginings that degrade the station of mankind. This is entirely in consonance with science and reason. Remember, corporations spend billions of dollars on pollsters and advertising to protect and manipulate their image in the public mind. Few doubt that this is money well spent. The truth has to have a good "image" if it is to win over damaging errors and contagious prejudice.

Dr. Smith may have been rather too concise for his own good when he conflated voodoo and sympathetic magic with the use of talismans in religions of the book. There is a huge gap between the two, in spite of some superficial resemblances. In order to understand that, let us look deeper into the word, "Talisman," and its Judaic equivalent, "phylactery."

In spite of the analogy to the human body, the English "man" is not part of the Greek word "talisman." The plural is "talismans" and saying "talismen" would be false etymology. The word comes from the Greek, Telesma, which means consecration, which is related to Telein, to initiate into mysteries, or to complete. Both are tied to Telos, ultimate end, and Tellein, to accomplish. A talisman is a sign of a body of knowledge that accomplishes something, and is a precursor of "formula" in mathematics and "algorithm" in computer science. My dictionary defines talisman as, "a stone, ring, or other object engraved with figures supposed to have magic power, a "charm ... worn as an amulet to avert evil."

The one ring that rules the rest in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings is a good example of a talisman that turns good ends to evil. This ring makes the bearer invisible. Tolkein was a pious catholic and he had in mind the empty allure that evil can have, what Bahá'ís term the "spiritual disease" of covenant breaking. Tolkien may have been thinking of the ring of Gyges that begins the entire moral and political enquiry of Plato's Republic.

Invisibility is the mark of complete imperviousness to punishment. Every criminal, from Hitler on down, acts unjustly mostly because he believes he can get away with it; he sees himself beyond accountability. This magic ring of Gyges epitomizes that attitude because by making the bearer invisible he knows he can commit any crime he wants without fear of being seen or punished. Clearly, a perfectly good man would wear the ring of Gyges without the slightest alteration in his behavior; if there is only a hint of evil in him the impunity this talisman confers would ruin his innocence and elicit unjust acts. The ring or talisman is a metaphor for power, of course, since those with power can even do evil openly and nobody dares say boo; it is the same as being invisible. Since nobody can expect that every citizen would be so perfect all the time as to resist such temptation, the ideal Republic that Plato envisions uses the only possible compromise, placing at its head a philosopher king. He would be that rare bird, a man so perfect he can hold power without being corrupted by it. In Bahá'í terms this is the Manifestation of God. Bahá'u'lláh makes it clear in the tablet of Hikmat that such Greek insights were born from the Judaic prophets.

While the Greek "talisman" has a general meaning of anything that acts as a magic token or charm, as whatever seems to produce extraordinary results, the Judaic equivalent is more specifically tied to the word of God. 

"Phylactery" comes from roots meaning "amulet" or "guard," and is a leather case containing slips of paper with passages of Holy Scripture written on them. These objects Jewish men traditionally wear on the head (literally, on the temple) and left arm during weekday morning prayers, as a reminder to keep the law. Needless to say, keeping the law is our greatest protection, and the symbolism of this sort of talisman is hard to miss. The word phylactery also has taken on overtones of the sort of pharisaical or ostentatious display of piety that gives religion a bad name.

I would note that while Bahá'ís don't literally wear boxes on arm and temple, we are still required by law to pray and chant the Holy Words, preferably in the temple or Mashriq each dawn. In this context we can better understand how the Báb combines talisman with the reciprocal symbols of words, of Man, body and temple in the Qayyúmu'l-Asmá (which also starts off by addressing itself to the "kings and sons of kings"),

"'Unto every people We have sent down the Book in their own language.' [Q14:4] This Book We have, verily, revealed in the language of Our Remembrance and it is in truth a wondrous language. He is, verily, the eternal Truth come from God, and according to the divine judgement given in the Mother Book, He is the most distinguished among the writers of Arabic and most eloquent in His utterance. He is in truth the Supreme Talisman and is endowed with supernatural powers, as set forth in the Mother Book..." (The Báb, Selections from the Writings of the Báb, p. 45)

Similarly, Bahá'u'lláh talks about the power of God's word and law as talismans,

"these holy verses are the most potent elixir, the greatest and mightiest talisman. So potent is their influence that the hearer will have no cause for vacillation." (Bahá'u'lláh, Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 200)

end of jet essay

Some more recent notes

A sigil (/ˈsɪdʒəl/; pl. sigilla or sigils; from Latin sigillum "seal") is a symbol used in magic. The term has usually referred to a type of pictorial signature of a demon or other entity; in modern usage, especially in the context of chaos magic, it refers to a symbolic representation of the magician's desired outcome. The term sigil derives from the Latin sigillum, meaning "seal", though it may also be related to the Hebrew סגולה (segula meaning "word, action, or item of spiritual effect, talisman"). The current use of the term is derived from Renaissance magic, which was in turn inspired by the magical traditions of antiquity.

oct 2023 jet:

Baha'u'llah calls the human station a talisman in the Maqsud. A youtuber has made a few videos on how talismans are used in Muslim societies. Here is a short one:

Here is another,

And this longer one:

Talismanic Magic in the Islamicate World

As one commenter points out, talismans are not necessarily superstition if they are used to focus our thoughts in prayer and mediation. This would seem to be the Baha'i way of looking at it.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Moses and the Green Knight, Julio Savi's explanation of Baha'u'llah's Interpretation

John Taylor, 23 December, 2022

Moses and the Green Knight, Julio Savi's explanation of Baha'u'llah's Interpretation

John Taylor, 23 December, 2022

We discussed the Green Knight, or Khidr, mentioned in the Qur'an in our study class on Baha'u'llah's Tablet of Haykal. Here are some passages from Julio Savi's book on the Seven Valleys of Baha'u'llah, "Towards the Summit of Reality; An Introduction to the Study of the Seven Valleys and Four Valleys of Baha'u'llah," pp. 184-190


The story of Moses is related in Sura 28, the Sura of the Story, as well as in many others. Lambden observes ('Sinaitic Mysteries' 74) that 'Moses is more frequently mentioned in the Qur'an (196 times) than any one of the other messengers or prophets of God'. The Qur'an refers to the same episodes which are mentioned in the Bible (see Exod. 2-14). Commentators and mystics perused these verses and worked out several allegorical explanations, well-known to Sufi readers. While reading them and their interpretations, we should remember that in the Muslim world Moses is much more than the patriarch who rescued the Jews from their Egyptian captivity. He is a Perfect Man, a Manifestation of God's Names and Attributes, a Revealer of the Divine Word, a Messenger of God upon earth.

Sufis refer to a number of fundamental recurrent themes from the story of Moses. Some of these may also be found in the two epistles by Bahá'u'lláh: the white hand, the rod, the announcement 'Thou shalt not see Me' (7:139). Bahá'u'lláh also refers to Moses' Sinaitic experience as spiritual transformation and submission to God.

Moses' white hand (yad-i-bayḍá)

"He stretcheth out the hand of truth (dast-i-haqq) from the sleeve of the Absolute (jayb-i-mutlaq). (SV18; HV109)
“the wayfarer who journeyeth unto God, unto the Crimson Pillar in the snow-white path (manhaju'l-bayda).” (FV58, CV150)
“Wherefore, put thy hand (yad) into thy bosom (jayb), then stretch it forth with power, and behold, thou shalt find it a light unto all the world.” (Qur'an 20:23 and Tradition, quoted in FV62, CV153)

These sentences and metaphors can be more easily understood in the light of the Qur'anic episode to which they refer. As in the Bible (Exod. 4:2-9), the Qur'an relates that, when God assigned to Moses the mission of rescuing the Jews from their Egyptian captivity, He vouchsafed upon Him a thaumaturgic power as a proof of His divine mission.

"... Now, what is that in thy right hand, O Moses?'
Said he, 'It is my staff on which I lean, and with which I beat down leaves for my sheep, and I have other uses for it.'
He said, 'Cast it down, O Moses!'
So he cast it down, and lo! it became a serpent that ran along.

Savi, p. 185

He said, 'Lay hold on it, and fear not: to its former state will we restore it.' Now place thy right hand (yad) to thy arm-pit: it shall come forth white (bayḍá), but unhurt:- another sign! -
That We may shew thee the greatest of our signs
Go to Pharaoh, for he hath burst all bounds.' (20:17-24)

Rúmí writes of this episode:

“The hand of Moses was spreading from his bosom a radiance that surpassed the moon in the sky, Saying (implicitly),
'That which thou wert seeking from the terrible celestial sphere hath uprisen, O Moses, from thy own bosom,
In order that thou mayst know that the lofty heavens are the reflection of the perceptive (rational) faculties of Man.'” (M6:1933-35)

In other words, the hand of Moses became white and shining because His heart (or bosom) had been cleansed and thus could reflect, as a perfect mirror, the light of God.

(note 6: This episode is commented upon by Bausani (Religion in Iran 278): 'The "white hand" is always mentioned in Arabic - the sacred Qur'anic language - and is one of the typical stock images in this lyric poetry that partly substitute our mythological images, just as the great posters in the mosques (on which sacred Arabic names and words are written) replace our figurative icons.)

In the Kitáb-i-ĺqán Bahá'u'lláh describes Moses thus:

“Armed with the rod of celestial dominion, adorned with the white hand of divine knowledge, and proceeding from the Párán of the love of God, and wielding the serpent of power and everlasting majesty, He shone forth from the Sinai of light upon the world.” (KI 11, para. 12)

Bahá'u'lláh refers to Himself the symbols of Moses' white hand and rod. He writes: ... This is Mine hand which God hath turned white for all the worlds to behold. This is My staff; were We to cast it down, it would, of a truth, swallow up all created things" (quoted in GPB 169).

The meaning ascribed to this theme in the Bahá'í Writings seems quite similar to the meaning ascribed to it by the Sufis. The white hand of Moses is His divine knowledge, often defined by Sufis as white magic, which is bound to prevail over the black magic of Sámirí, the sorcerer who instigated the Jews to forge the golden calf. ("Straightness is the quality of Moses' staff; the kinks are the staves of the sorcerers" -Rumi, Signs, p. 9) The former is, in a sense, the capacity of preserving the integrity of intellect so that the spiritual truth of Revelation may be understood through its instrumentality; the latter is the enslavement of the intellect to the concupiscible soul, through which the Revelation is rejected. Nevertheless, as Moses prevailed over Sámirí, so a wholesome intellect will also prevail over an enslaved one.

p. 186

According to Lambden, Moses' 'snow-white "hand" symbolizes the Divine Power which he manifested from the interior "fold" or "bosom" [jayb] of the "cloak" of his nobility' ('Sinaitic Mysteries' 112). He observes that the same symbol is used in the Hidden Words (Arabic 60):

"O Son of Man! Put thy hand into My bosom, that I may rise above thee, radiant and resplendent."

And he remarks (120):

"Bahá'u'lláh exhorts the 'Son of Man' (human beings collectively) to mystically repeat the miracle of Moses' snow-white hand. By putting his 'hand' into the divine 'bosom' (jayb), man may experience the radiant epiphany of God from his own bosom.

'Thou shalt not see Me'
"Veiled from this was Moses
Though all strength and light;
Then thou who hast no wings at all
Attempt not flight." (M1:237, quoted in SV17)

(note 8: Nicholson gives the following translation: 'The imagination of Moses, notwithstanding his (spiritual) illumination and excellence, was screened from (the comprehension of) that (act of Khadir). Do not thou fly without wings.' The preceding verse is quoted in SV26: 'If Khidr did wreck the vessel on the sea, Yet in this wrong there are a thousand rights.")

These verses are inspired by an episode described in the Qur'an (7:139-40):

"And when Moses came at our set time and his Lord spake with him, he said, 'O Lord, shew thyself to me, that I may look upon thee.' He said, 'Thou shalt not see Me; but look towards the mount, and if it abide firm in its place, then shalt thou see Me.' And when God manifested Himself to the mountain he turned it to dust! and Moses fell in a swoon.

And when he came to himself, he said, 'Glory be to thee! To thee do I turn in penitence, and I am the first of them that believe.'"

Bausani remarks: 'This beautiful passage has been often cited by mystics as an example of the Saint who yearns to behold God and by theologians as a proof that the efforts of mystics are vain' ('Introduzione e commento' 552n143). Elsewhere he observes that 'the whole of Persian mystic lyrical poetry is a rebellion against the Qur'anic lan tarānī ("Thou shalt not see me . . ."), an aesthetic realization of the enjoyment of the vision of God in the Idol-Friend' ('Letteratura' 214). Austin says (250) that Ibn al-'Arabí describes Moses as representing 'human commitment and conformity to divine Law, but without the personal power to enforce it'.

Savi, p. 187

In the Seven Valleys, Bahá'u'lláh is seemingly inviting His correspondent to seek the guidance of the Manifestation of God so that he may achieve his long- cherished spiritual goal. If Moses, from His highest station, could not behold God, how can a mere man such as he behold Him! Once again the concept is here emphasized that God in His Essence is absolutely transcendent and unknowable and that human beings must follow the guidance of His Manifestation, the only way open to them in attaining unto such a knowledge of their Creator as is suited to their capacities.

The Sinaitic experience: Spiritual transformation

"When the qualities of the Ancient of Days stood revealed,
The qualities of earthly things did Moses burn away. (M3:1391, quoted in SV36)
(note 9: Nicholson gives the following translation: "When the Attributes of the Eternal have shone forth, then the mantle of temporality is burned.")

This couplet refers to Qur'án 7:139, which Lambden explains in the light of the ideas of Suhravardí. Moses is considered in the Muslim world as 'being archetypal of the advanced mystic'. His Sinaitic experience is thus seen as the prototype of God's revelation (tajalli) to the mystic. Moses' swoon on the occasion of that revelation

“is related to the complete nullification or annihilation (fana') of the qualities of existence, and the attaining of that abiding permanency (baqa') at which th e spiritual being beholds the essence (dhat) of the Eternal God through His Light.”

Mount Sinai is in its turn the symbol of 'the human aspect (nafs) of his existence" (Lambden, "Sinaitic Mysteries' 84).

Bahá'u'lláh may be alluding in this verse to that spiritual condition which all mystics call 'second birth (valádat)' ('Abdu'l-Bahá, SAQ 224, ch.60; Mufávadát 158; see above, pp.70-71, and below, pp. 368, 418).

(note 10: Interestingly, the Persian-Arabic word valádat used by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to denote the 'second birth' comes from walada, "she... brought forth a child, or young one... He begot a child, a young one' (Lane: wid), from which also comes walad, 'a child, son, daughter, youngling, or young one' (Lane: wld, walad). And walad is almost synonymous of tifl, "young one of tender age' (Lane: tfi, fourth stem), the word used by al-Jilání to define his 'babe [tiflu l-ma'ání, lit. child of the spiritual concepts]' (al-Jilání, Secret 11).

A man is born for the first time in the world of nature at the time of his physical birth. He is born for the second time, from the physical to the spiritual world, when he learns how to express the virtues of his soul, which are qualities of the divine world, through his body born in the world of nature. At that time the 'qualities of earthly things' are so to say burnt away and the qualities of the Ancient of Days', i.e. virtues, stand revealed in their stead.

In these words He may also be alluding to the dual station – divine and human — of the Manifestation of God, which He also explains in later Writings as follows:


"The first station, which is related to His innermost reality, representeth Him as One Whose voice is the voice of God Himself. To this testifieth the tradition: 'Manifold station, exemplified by the following verses: 'I am but a man like you' (Qur'an 41:5). except that I am that I am, and He is that He is'.... The second station is the human 'Say, praise be to my Lord! Am I more than a man, an apostle?' (Qur'an 17:95). (Gleanings 66-7, XXVII, para.4)

The Sinaitic experience: Submission to God

"Glory be to Thee! To Thee do I turn in penitence, and I am the first of them that believe." (Qur'an 7:140, quoted in FV64)

These are the words reported by the Qur'an as having been said by Moses after He fainted on Mount Sinai when God showed Himself to him at His request. In the Four Valleys there is an implicit parallel between the words 'When I entrusted this message of love to My pen, it refused the burden, and it swooned away (munşa'igan)' (FV64, CV156) and the Qur'anic words to which the quoted verse refers: 'And when God manifested Himself to the mountain he turned it to dust! And Moses fell in a swoon (şa'igan)' (7:139). This parallel makes the quotation, used to convey the idea of Bahá'u'lláh's deep love for the Shaykh, more pertinent and elegant.


The story of Khidr, also called Khadir, is part of the story of Moses in the Qur'an. The Qur'an says that while Moses was trying to reach 'the confluence of the two seas' (18:59) He met a youth described as 'one of our servants to whom we had vouchsafed our mercy, and whom We had instructed with our knowledge' (18:64).

Moses wanted to learn from him, and asked permission to follow him. The youth agreed, on condition that Moses would be patient and ask no questions, whatever he might do. But during their long journey the youth performed a number of actions which seemed so absurd that Moses could not restrain himself from questioning the reasons. The youth made a hole in the ship they were sailing in, so that it sank; then he killed a lad, with no obvious motive, and finally he repaired 'a wall that was about to fall' without requiring any reward (18:65, 70, 73, 76). Each time Moses asked him the reason for his action but received no answer until the third time. Now the youth demonstrated the hidden knowledge that explained his actions, resulting in beneficial outcomes in the long run (see Qur'an 18:79-81). He then abandoned Moses to himself.

Many legends flourished upon this primal Qur'anic nucleus. The mysterious youth was called Khidr or Khadir (lit. green or glaucous), because he always wore something green, or because he became green when he immersed himself in the

Savi, pp. 189

Water of Life. According to the legends, he succeeded in reaching the inaccessible Water of Life, a green fountain in the Land of Darkness near the meeting place of the two oceans (see Qur'an 18:60-1), and drank it, thus becoming immortal and conquering the role of guardian of that priceless liquid. The legend of Khidr as a green man may have an antecedent in the giant Humbaba, guardian of the cedar forests of Lebanon in the Mesopotamian myth of Gilgamesh (early second millennium BC). It may have epigones in the legend of the Green Knight defeated by the brothers Orson and Valentine at the court of King Peppin in France. Initially the Green Knight of this legend is an evil figure and worships a god named Muhammad, but after his defeat he converts to Christianity and becomes a benevolent figure. After the 11th century the Green Man became a familiar figure in the sculpture of churches. Last but not least, a Green Knight is the most important feature of the Arthurian 14th-century legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Those legends were afterward given esoteric meanings by mystics. Khidr was considered to be a fifth-generation descendant of Noah. He was interpreted either as 'Moses' prophet-initiator' (Corbin, History 101), or as 'the prophet possessing an unusually long life who can initiate men into the Divine Mysteries and corresponds in many ways to Enoch in the Judaeo-Christian tradition (Gen. 5:8-24)' (Nasr, Sufi Essays 58). Khidr has been 'often referred to as "the Jew" and he has been equated in legend with such figures as St George and Elijah' (Shah, The Way 161). Since in this legend, although Moses is a great prophet Himself, He plays the part of the 'disciple' of an even greater Master' (Bausani, Islam 81), some orthodox interpreters maintained this Moses to be 'a Manaxes, a descendant of Jacob, and thus a different person from Moses, the Prophet' (Bausani, 'Introduzione e commento' 588n60). A number of mystics thought that Khidr 'is not someone distinct from "the seeker of the Truth; but that seeker's second self'"' ... Man's "inner voice", a pure voice unsullied by mundane and carnal passions' (Stepaniants, Sufi Wisdom 52, 5). Austin says (250) that in Ibn al-'Arabi's Bezels of Wisdom the relation between Moses and al-Khidr is

"an illustration of the perennial tension between the Sacred Law, represented by Moses and expressing the divine Wish, and the mystic or esoteric knowledge of the gnosis that perceives not only the necessity for and validity of the Law, but also the inescapable validity and necessity of those aspects of cosmic becoming that elude the Law, as also the synthesis of both in the Oneness of Being.”

According to the mystics, the whole story aims at teaching patience and trust in the inscrutable designs of God, whose meaning is often wholly unknown to us and beyond the reach of our limited minds.

In the Bahá'í Writings, Khidr is not intended as a real person but as a metaphor for the spiritual reality of Moses (see 'Abdu'l-Bahá, Tablet to Núshabádí 42). Bahá'u'lláh explains in one of His Tablets that Moses was taught by the divine effulgences of the world of Revelation (tajalliyyát amriyyah) and that these Effulgences are called in the Book of God (Kitáb-i-Ilahi) by the name of Khidr

Savi, p. 190

(see Amr va Khalq 2:201). Bahá'u'lláh also mentions Khidr in His Mathnaviy-i-Mubarak, the longest poem He composed. In this poem He writes:

You are, and your corrupted soul... darkness
God's revelation is your Water of Life
Just pass beyond the darkness of your self;
you'll quaff, always refreshed, the wine of life
Then step into the shade of Soul's own Khezr
that from the realms of darkness you'll be freed
The Khezr of old drank deep, was freed from death
while this new Khezr grants countless founts of life
To all He has bestowed the water of life
To the Sole King, he's sacrificed his soul!
That Khezr through striving finally arrived;
This Khezr at once made fountains flow with life
That Khezr ran after traces of the fount
This Khezr is chased each step by flowing founts.
(quoted in Lewis, 'Bahá'u'lláh's Mathnaviy-i Mubarak' 131-2)

Franklin D. Lewis, the author of this provisional translation of Bahá'u'lláh's Mathnavi, remarks that 'Bahá'u'lláh here calls himself the new Khedr (ibid. 148n50). Many poets have written mystical verses alluding to the Qur'anic episode of Moses and Khidr. Among them, Rúmí expatiates upon it in his Mathnavi, whence the following verse is taken:

"If Khidr did wreck the vessel on the sea,
Yet in this wrong there are a thousand rights.”
(M1:236, quoted in SV26; see above, p.186n8 and below, p.226)

Saturday, November 19, 2022

thap Gems on the Scintillating Crown of Human Happiness

`Abdu'l-Baha's Encomium on Happiness

Saturday, November 19, 2022

thap Gems on the Scintillating Crown of Human Happiness

`Abdu'l-Baha's Encomium on Happiness

Star of the West, Vol. 13, p. 150-153

"Happiness is the scintillating crown of humanity the shining gems of which are the teachings of the past prophets and the principles of his holiness Baha'u'llah."

Although it is not scripture, this quote is significant to me because it points to the fact that the Baha'i principles, my life's work, are meant for our happiness. This prompted me to reproduce the entire thing here, including the following stories about Esmail the Persian Jew was published in the early Baha'i publication, Star of the West, here: 

Since for some reason this diary is not available online now, I will reproduce it all here. It mentions asphodels, so here is the definition of the word:

asphodel ăs′fə-dĕl″ noun. Any of several chiefly Mediterranean plants of the genera Asphodeline and Asphodelus, having linear leaves and elongate clusters of white, pink, or yellow flowers.

Any of several other plants, such as the bog asphodel.

In Greek poetry and mythology, the flowers of Hades and the dead, sacred to Persephone. 


During his sojourn in Palestine with the Center of the Covenant, Abdul Baha, while the Great War was raging all over the world.


The carriage was waiting for us at the foot of the mountain. We entered it and started on our way. The road was so muddy and slushy that the wheels sank up to their spokes. In the carriage there was a Persian Jew by the name of Esmael who had been a friend of the Master's for forty years. He is an orthodox Jew with a strong faith in prophecy, believing firmly that the Messiah will appear in two years. He knows a great deal about the Baha'i Revelation and has met Baha Ollah. Several times he promised the Master that if the Messiah did not appear at such and such a date he would leave Jewish traditions. But on the grounds that his reckonings were wrong each time he changed the date. Now he swears that this will be the last date and in two years his promised Messiah will appear and will make all the people Jews.

Since our arrival in the Holy Land the Master has seen him many times and helps him always. He is an old man with a thin, white beard and he has been in Acca and Haifa for forty two years. Yesterday he came to Abou Senan and this morning the Beloved took him back.

"Now tell me, Esmael," the Master said, "while patting him gently on back and cheeks, art thou sure that the Messiah will appear in two years? If he does not appear at that time wilt thou continue to believe in the Talmud and the Rabbinical lore? Several times thou hast covenanted with me, and every time thou hast broken the compact. This must be the very last time; otherwise I will punish thee." Esmael pledged his word that this would be the last time and that he was sure, very sure, that the Promised One would appear in 1916. Then the Master spoke about the Mohammedan and Christian calendars, the prophetic dates mentioned in the Book of Daniel, the scattering of the Jews at the time of Titus, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Then he asked me to read aloud, for the benefit of Esmael, the articles published in "Servati Founun," especially the translation of his address in the Jewish Synagogue in San Francisco.

As we neared Acca he related some funny stories of his experiences in Tiberias in former years.

"Esmael" he said at last, "through the power of God I have been able to prove the divine station of Christ to thousands of Jews in America. What can I do with thee? They are the real Israel. They are free from prejudice. But thou art different."

When we reached Acca we were glad to find ourselves once more under the sheltering roof of the home of Baha' Ollah. When `Abdul Baha entered his room he sat quietly on his divan and said: 

"Ah! We escaped from Abou Senan, did we not? Although the weather there was dry and delightful, I did not feel at home. In His room, the room of the Blessed Perfection, I feel happy and composed. Nowhere else do I feel so joyous and happy as in this room. Here, here I realize the peace of the spirit!"

Luncheon was served and Esmael and I found ourselves at the table. The Master said: "Hast thou read Vahye Kouchek' (the little revelation)? It contains many prophesies concerning events in Acca. It is a wonderful book. Mirza Yagoub, who was a good Jewish Baha'i brought it to me. If you can get this hook you will enjoy its contents."

Esmael did not eat the food cooked by the Baha'is so the Master with his supreme attention to all details had ordered a dish suitable to his taste. "We let everyone enjoy freedom of conscience." He said. "We have no prejudice."



The Master often tells us stories abort the misers of different countries. Here is one of them:

Once upon a time there was a merchant in the city of Balsora. His name was Reza Although he was very wealthy he was the most closefisted, narrow-hearted man that ever lived in his town. For avarice and penuriousness he had become a proverb among his countrymen. Through his stinginess he made his family suffer hunger and starvation.

In his office he had a clerk to whom he paid a very small salary. This clerk had a large family and though he practised the greatest economy he could not make both ends meet. Often he dreamed of a raise in salary, but in vain. At last an idea flashed into his mind and gave him hope that surely there would be a raise soon. There was but one more week before New Year's day and the poor clerk thought that if he gave a present to his master he would undoubtedly reciprocate and increase his salary.

Hence, on that very day he went to the market, bought the head of a sheep, cooked it in his oven and carried it on a tray to the house of his master. The week passed without any sign and finally, on New Year's day he called at the house of the merchant to wish him happiness. He was most hopeful, and anticipated a bright future.

When he entered the room the merchant greeted him effusively. This made him more hopeful still,

"I thank you very heartily," the master said to his clerk. "for the gift you sent to our house. It saved us a great deal of expense, I assure you. We have been feasting on it for the past week. The first day we ate the ears; the second day, the eyes; the third day, the skin of the head; the fourth day, the tongue; the fifth day, the meat; the sixth day we cleaned the bones and on the seventh day we ate the brains.

The clerk was so disgusted with this exhibition of stinginess that he left him, and left the town, and sought his fortune elsewhere. After traveling for several years and acquiring experience as well as riches he returned to his native city and opened a business of his own. One day as he was walking through the main street his attention was attracted by a most palatial residence. He peeped through the gate and beheld a most beautiful garden. He finally inquired from one of the many servants lounging about whose house this was.

Art thou a stranger?" they asked.

Not exactly."

Well, how is it that thou dost not know that this is the house of Kareem, the son of Reza?"

"Oh," gasped the former clerk, "what the father hoarded the son is spending!" and disappeared through the crowd.



This morning Abdul Baha called us into his room. Esmael, the Jew, was also present. The Master was in a jovial mood and asked Esmael whether bread, tea and olives were "Kosher." He replied, "They are Kosher."

"Art then thyself Kosher or Taref?" `Abdul Baha asked him pleasantly.

"I hope I am Kosher. I wish good to everyone. I am not seeking to harm any soul. If a man curse me or beat me I still like him. I am living according to the religion of my father. If these things constitute the condition of being Kosher, then I am Kosher."

Well said. replied the Master, "I know thou art sincere in the profession of thy religion and that is the reason why I love thee so much."

Esmael replied: "I know one thing. Any moment I am ready to sacrifice my life for the Master. For the last forty two years you have ever been kind to me and on several occasions have saved my life. This has nothing to do with faith. This is love. I declare by Jehovah, if you ask me at this very moment I will die for you gladly, knowing well that I have won the good pleasure of Abraham, Jacob and Moses."

Then the Master asked Esmael: "How old was Moses?''

"One hundred and twenty years," he replied. "But the patriarchs, such as Noah and others lived many hundreds of years."

The Master said: "The age of those ancient prophets as recorded in the Old Testament is symbolic. It has a spiritual interpretation. Wert thou informed of the science of anatomy thou wouldst realize that this human mechanism and these material organs cannot last more than one hundred and twenty years."

Esmael inquired: "Where is the seat of thought?

The Master replied: "It is generally understood that the seat of thought, consciousness and volition is in the brain. The brain is the organ of the intellect and understanding. The heart also plays a part through the central nervous system. Thus the activities of the brain and the heart by means of afferent and efferent nerve fibers are linked together. Figuratively speaking, the brain is like a mirror. When it is turned toward any object, whether in the east or in the west, that object will immediately be reflected on its surface and consciousness is realized. In the world of dreams consciousness is awake and works uninterruptedly."

Come, come, friends, the Master said, as we waited at the threshold. "Let us talk tonight of the old times." He asked me what news I had. I told him I had heard that Badi Effendi's school in Abou Senan had increased in numbers and that it was no more my room but a Baha'i school. He laughed and said: "What dost thou want with a room of stone and clay? I have prepared for thee glorious rooms the walls, the roofs, the floors, and the furniture of which are of pure deeds and immortal virtues." Therein thou shalt abide forever. Badi Effendi is a capable, efficient teacher and loves the children. He is striving in service and wishes to perfect the work which he undertakes. Perfection of work is man's greatest reward. When a man sees his work perfected and this perfection is the result of incessant labor and application he is the happiest man in the world. Work is the source of human happiness.

About two hours before sunrise I was called from my bed by one of the two Baha'is who spent the night here in the house. The Master was up; the samovar was boiling and tea was prepared for our delectation. It was thirst for the spiritual tea which awakened me and I dressed hurriedly and made my way through the darkness to the other house.

I opened the door of the blessed room and entered unannounced. The Master was sitting in his accustomed place on the divan in the corner next to the window.

Only a candle was burning on the opposite table which was strewn over with books. There was a pause and a stillness and the dim light added to the mystery and the magic of those sacred moments.

`Abdul Baha's eyes were closed, his white beard shone; over his countenance was spread the calm of the deep. His spotless white turban towered above his head and as I looked I beheld his silvery locks flowing beautifully over his broad shoulders.

Out of the unutterable stillness the voice of the Beloved of the hearts was heard.

Happiness is the ambrosia of the spirit and the nectar of the souls. It confers on man the boon of immortality and the gift of spiritual vision. Happiness is the morning star guiding the wandering to the perennial abode of the blessed. Happiness is the crystalline river flowing from the heavenly mountains through the paradise of the mind and causing to grow upon its banks the imperishable ideals of humanity. Happiness is the cherubim of the Almighty which inspires mankind to perform feats of self -sacrifice and deeds of disinterested philanthropy. Happiness is the melodiously singing nightingale which transforms the darkened world of sorrow into the gleaming realm of celestial beatitude. Happiness is the surging ocean in the depths of which the diver finds the pearls of resignation and the corals of renunciation. Happiness is the Elysium wherein grow the asphodels of goodwill and the amaranths of forgiveness. Happiness is the heaven of God, the blue fields of which are studded with the bright rolling orbs of satisfaction and the fixed stars of contentment. Happiness is the scintillating crown of humanity the shining gems of which are the teachings of the past prophets and the principles of his holiness Baha'u'llah.

“The happiness of man is not dependent upon outward things such as riches, ornaments and clothes. It is, however dependent upon the susceptibilities of the heart and the attitude of the mind.''

Monday, October 18, 2021

Talk given by Abdu'l-Baha to Theosophists at Marseille

Talk given by Abdu'l-Baha to Theosophists at Marseille,

from: Abdu'l-Baha in France, 1911-1913, by Jan Jasion, pp. 247-254

p. 247

6 December, 1911: Wednesday

'Abdu'l-Bahá gave a talk at the theosophist meeting. It is possible that this took place at 25, boulevard Baille in Marseille. A short note appeared in Le Lotus bleu: revue théosophique française. It stated that He spoke at the central theosophist centre on materialism. It further added 'that as was His style He spoke in a manner clear, simple and just'. Another article appeared in the Christian paper Le Chrétien which made further laudatory comments on the translations by Hippolyte Dreyfus and Henri Leblais.

He said:

The greatest of the blessings offered to humanity is divine Wisdom, and this Wisdom consists in knowing and analysing all that exists. The science that consists of discerning Truth has no reason for existence without this divine Wisdom. But there are two kinds of science: that which consists in knowing and that which consists in research. For example, we know that water exists, but the day in which we have tasted water, we have analyzed it and we have understood what it is. It is because of this that we say that complete science is not a question of imagination, but a question of experience.

Thus when a man is aware that a thing exists, this does not suffice, he must go beyond this even to the mystery of this thing, he must know the essence of it; we are aware for example that there is honey, but until we have analyzed and tasted it, we cannot say that we know it.
We have said that true science, divine Wisdom consists in knowing things, and it is for this that God has made of man the gathering together of the perfection of all the inferior existences. Thus in the world, we see that there are mineral, vegetable, animal kingdoms, and that man was created with the perfections of all of these kingdoms which permits him to attain the knowledge of all the things that they contain. For example, the mineral world is the perfection of corporal things, [and] in man there is a material body.

We see in the vegetable [kingdom] the force of growth, [and] it exists also in man.

The perfection of the animal kingdom consists in the sense faculties, which also exist in man. There is thus in man the reunion of all these mineral, vegetable and animal qualities. But in addition this reunion of qualities is favoured with a special power: the Spirit that renders man superior to all other creatures.

Hence man is the gathering, the synthesis of all existing perfections, and through the divine Spirit he is at the same time the possessor of divine perfections. All the qualities we attribute to God, we find them in man: we say, for example, that God sees, and the sign of this is found in the eyes of man. If we did not have eyes we could not comprehend what is vision.
Another of the perfections that we attribute to God, that is, that He hears, then we say that He lives, that He has a will, that He is powerful - these are divine perfections and all of them have their sign in man. Hence these perfections are the divine blessings and man is the veritable gathering of these perfections of the Creator and furthermore he receives the divine blessings by the Spirit.
This is what permits man to have dominion over all that exists. All creatures are prisoners of nature; for example, the sun, notwithstanding its greatness, is the prisoner of the laws of nature; the sea with all of its extent is prisoner of the laws of nature; it is thus for all that exists and nothing can escape the laws of nature, even to the thickness of a hair.
The sun will never quit its orbit, and the earth will never quit the path that was traced for it, but man can command nature.
The exigencies of nature cause that man is said to walk upon the earth, inasmuch as he can breathe only upon the earth. But man knows how to adapt the laws of nature. He builds aeroplanes and he flies in the air, he voyages on the sea, he even constructs submarines, even though this is outside of the exigencies imposed upon human nature.
Electricity, this force which is found widely in nature, man knows how to capture it, how to guide it and make it serve as his light in the lamp This is a force that no other being is able to control. Yet, according to the laws of nature, electricity is free, it is found everywhere, and man has known how to domesticate it contrary to natural exigencies. Thus he is not the slave of nature; he is superior to all the other beings and this derives from their being reunited in him the perfections of all that exists and [also] the special blessings of God.
How strange it is that the materialists do not understand this. They continually say that all beings are prisoners of nature and that no being can escape its laws. They do not see that man dominates nature and notwithstanding all of his marvellous inventions they continue to call him a prisoner.
Man is upon the earth and he makes discoveries in the sky. He displays in broad daylight the most hidden things among the mysteries of nature. Photography, wireless telegraphy and other inventions existed in potential but had remained undiscovered; man discovered them, and notwithstanding that the exigencies of nature would have caused these discoveries to remain forever unknown. The intelligence of man, which is the divine blessing, has
forced nature to yield its secrets and it has transformed the world.
Hence, one cannot say that man is in the same condition as the other beings, which are prisoners of the laws of nature.

p. 249

Even though the materialists see that nature is not intelligent and that it does not have the power of man, they revere it and consider it as God.
They say as their opening argument that all that exists emerges from the composition of the elements, and that the non-existence or death derive from the decomposition of these elements.
For example they say that a certain composition of elements produces a man, and that when these elements are disassociated the man dies. Then they say, as existence is in reality a composition of elements and death is a decomposition or a disassociation what is the need of having God intervene?
But their rationale is without foundation for, based on reasoning itself, the composition of elements cannot be due but to one of these three causes:
Either it is due to a simple chance.
Either it is due to the necessity in the life of atoms,
Or it is due to an exterior will and we arrive at God.
It is impossible for there to be a fourth cause.
If we say that it is due to chance, [we imply] that there exists a fact without cause, which is not admissible.
If we claim the second cause, the atoms combine in this or that fashion, in accordance with their necessity, then if there exists a necessity there should be no disassociation; for example, heat is a necessity of fire; humidity is a
necessity of water; but we cannot disassociate heat from fire, humidity from water. If then the combinations were due to an an essential necessity, there would never be disassociation, for an essential necessity does not disassociate.
Hence this second cause is also erroneous.
It remains then that this combination of atoms is due to an exterior will and here we have arrived at God.
It is thus evident that things have a Creator and it is clear by means of these proofs derived from reason that the materialist theory is false. Human reason, even upon their own ground can convince them, this is as evident as the Sun, for human reason envelops all creatures.

p. 250

The spirit of man contains all that exists which permits him to comprehend everything.
But this human power, which is that of the soul with the gift of reason, even though it is universal, has nonetheless its limits. See all the great philosophers of the past who have made discoveries through the power of reason, their influence has been very limited.
While the influence of the Holy Spirit is unlimited. Whatever may be the capacities that a man may possess in philosophy, whatever may be the degree of his reason, he always has need of the Divine Spirit. Consider Plato, Pythagoras, Euclid, all these great philosophers of Greek antiquity, their influence has been very restricted. Notwithstanding all of their knowledge, their philosophical capacities, they could not effect the inspiration of a single being with the spirit of sacrifice.

While other beings, ignorant ones, simple people, inspired by the Divine Spirit have conducted individuals to sacrifice their lives.

Consider a man like Peter, the Apostle; a simple ignorant fisherman, who did not even know how to count numbers: who was obliged to divide the catch from his fishing in seven in order to recall the Sabbath day; such a being, so simple, inspired by the Holy Spirit, see what influence he had upon the world.
I want to say that whatever may be the progress that a man has made in science, whatever may be his intellectual progress, he cannot dispense with turning towards the Holy Spirit; whatever may be his power, it is limited, it cannot arrive at being universal, whereas the prophets of God have set in motion the universal world, they have manifested an extraordinary power.
Consider Abraham, the son of a simple stonecutter, what influence He exercised in the world.
Moses was a simple shepherd; consider nonetheless what revolution He brought into the world.

p. 251

Jesus was born of a poor family and witness His influence upon the thoughts, He manifested a very great power, His influence invaded the entire world.
Muhammad was but an ignorant one set in motion the world of thoughts, He transformed the Arabs to the highest extent.
In the same way the Báb had a considerable influence and see how Bahá'u'lláh knew how to transform thoughts.
You thus see that the real influence, in the world, appertains alone to those individuals who are assisted by the Holy Spirit. They renew the world. They give eternal life. They illumine the Orient and the Occident. Their influence is
The world of spiritual thoughts was as if asleep; there remained, so to speak, no spirituality in the world; then Bahá'u'lláh appeared in Persia, and His presence alone, His mission set all thoughts in movement. He began by giving the Persians the feelings of spirituality. He enabled them to understand what divine Wisdom is and their thoughts, their words, their actions were transformed.
Hitherto in Persia, they were all prisoners of their dogmas and their rituals, and we see that all religions are at the same place. They have forgotten the reality in the divine religions, they no longer think of obeying the Spirit, they follow nothing but the letter.
A Jew whose father is a Jew, is Jewish simply by birth. If his father had been Christian or Buddhist he would have been Christian or Buddhist or even Zoroastrian. Thus without understanding what religion is, they follow only the rituals, they only follow the practices of the ancestors.
Bahá'u'lláh has come and said: “Do not follow traditions, follow your reason"559 and He has informed men that religion and science are one and that there is no reason to oppose the one to the other. A religion that would be contrary to science and to reason would not be a religion, it would be but a superstition, for science is the truth and religion cannot be opposed to science.
If religion was contrary to science, it could not be anything but error.
Religion must be a cause of love and union between men, it must unite the hearts and the souls. If religion was a cause of enmity, non-religion would be preferable to religion. Religion must result in unifying the human world and not in creating divisions. All true religion has the effect of immediately uniting all the sects. If a religion does not result in unification, it would be better if it did not exist. Religion must also be the means for the eradication of superstitions.
Otherwise it is not a religion. It must obey only Truth.
And as God has created all men with the same affection, and He is at peace with the whole world, that He is merciful towards everyone, we must follow God and no longer have superstitions. We must love all the beings upon the entire earth, we must be merciful towards all, we must abandon all our prejudices - religious, patriotic, racial, sectarian - for these prejudices are the cause of all the divisions that have caused blood to flow. It is these prejudices, which have caused women to weep at the death of their children, which have rendered so many children orphans, that have taken from elderly fathers their children.
It is these prejudices which have destroyed the kingdoms, which make of the world a hell. And if there were not all of these prejudices of homeland, of religion, of sect, of politics, humanity reconciled could live in the greatest happiness.
We must live by the example of God and we must follow the divine politics. For all of His creatures, God is light! Why are we in shadow? God loves all His servants! Why do we not love them?
He protects all of them! Why do we act differently?
If we want to follow the precepts of the Holy Spirit, we would be a cause of life for all. If we receive the blessings of the Sun of Reality, we will be light for all. If we receive the blessings from their true source, we will be merciful to all.
But this evening I am happy to be amongst you, and to have had the pleasure of meeting you; by the grace of God, your souls are brilliant, your hearts are pure and you understand the joyous news of God and you are the seekers of Truth. I ask of God that He aid and secure you; that in this centre you will become, bit by bit, beams that illumine the world, that disseminate the divine Wisdom, which will permit new discoveries. That you may be enveloped by the blessings of God and that France may become soon a celestial paradise.
That is my wish for you.

Dreyfus then commented:

"All the Theosophists applauded these words (so) full of life and of spirituality.”