The True Melting Pot
By John Taylor; 2006 November 23
Friends, here are some more selections from material I have collected on
the Master in America, especially around the time of the Mohonk Peace
Conference. I include two fairly well known personal recollections of
the conference, as well as the Master's talk not long afterwards at the
church of Howard Colby Ives, who soon after became a Baha'i. The talk
itself is in the collection of His talks, Promulgation of Universal
Peace, and is hardly obscure. But what you do not find very often is the
talk placed alongside the introduction to His talk given by Ives
himself. What a finish! Ives all but calls on his congregation to become
Baha'is! Later on, Zia Baghdadi casually remarked that that declaration
must have taken a lot of courage. No, Ives said, it is the truth, you do
not need courage to affirm what is right before you. Baghdadi went over
and whispered in the ear of the Master, who was talking to somebody
else. `Abdu'l-Baha turned and said, "Yes, it takes great courage."
Anecdote of the Master at the Mohonk Peace Conference, from Portals to
When He was at Lake Mohonk, where He spoke to the members of the
Inter-National Peace Conference, 'Abdu'l-Baha was walking with a group
of the friends one morning when they came upon a party of young people.
After a few words of greeting He said: that He would tell them an
oriental story: Once the rats and mice held an important conference the
subject of which was how to make peace with the cat. After a long and
heated discussion it was decided that the best thing to do would be to
tie a bell around the neck of the cat so that the rats and mice would be
warned of his movements and have time to get out of his way.
This seemed an excellent plan until the question arose as to who should
undertake the dangerous job of belling the cat. None of the rats liked
the idea and the mice thought they were altogether too weak. So the
conference broke up in confusion. Everyone laughed, 'Abdu'l-Baha with
them. After a short pause He added that that is much like these Peace
Conferences. Many words, but no one is likely to approach the question
of who will bell the Czar of Russia, the Emperor of Germany, the
President of France and the Emperor of Japan.
Faces were now more grave. 'Abdu'l-Baha laughed again: There is a Divine
Club, He said, which shall break their power in pieces. In the light of
world events during the twenty-five years since 'Abdu'l-Baha told that
story to a youthful, happy group fresh from listening to the eloquent
appeals for world peace voiced by well-meaning but impotent ones; the
distractedly weak discussing how to bell the war-cat. His keen
penetration into the very heart of the difficulty, and His laughing
summing up of the situation in a little ancient fable, the
characteristic of which I spoke is demonstrated but only to a slight
degree. Two years later the world war broke. Some of those very
youngsters who laughed with Him so lightheartedly doubtless left their
bodies in Flanders; the German war-lord fled his empire, his dreams
become a nightmare; the torrent flooding the world carried thrones to
ruin like disintegrating dwellings in a spring freshet. The Divine Club,
Zia Baghdadi's recollections of the Mohonk Peace Conference
From: Star of the West, Vol. 19, pp. 180-182
On May 14, 1912, the International Peace Society held its Conference at
Lake Mohonk, N. Y. and was invited to address the members. Here He
remained three days.
After delivering His address, He said to the interpreters, "Once I wrote
to the friends in Persia in regard to peace congresses and conferences,
that if the members of the conferences for peace do not succeed in
practicing what they say, they may be compared to those who hold a
meeting to discuss and form firm resolutions about the sinfulness and
harmfulness of liquors. But after leaving the meeting, they occupy
themselves in selling liquors, and just as before they become engaged in
their business. Now we must not only think and talk peace but we must
develop the power to practice peace, so that like unto the spirit in the
body of the world, peace may permeate the whole world."
The members and speakers who attended this conference were from all
parts of the world, most of them did well in presenting their papers.
But one of the speakers was very much excited, he kept pounding and
hammering the table with his fists, kicking the chair with his feet,
shouting and screaming at the top of his voice.
Later, 'Abdu'l-Baha remarked, "There are times when a speaker should
raise his voice in order to emphasize his point. There are times when he
should speak low, and at times he should smile. Gestures must harmonize
with the character of words."
On the following day, May 15, 1912 'Abdu'l-Baha went out to take a walk
and a crowd of young men and girls followed Him. On reaching a large
tree, the blossoms of which were in full bloom, he stopped and faced the
crowd with His wonderful smile. It was a real spring afternoon. The sky
was clear and the sun flooding the green hills with its warm rays.
Everything was quiet except for the melodies of song birds and the
gentle breeze that whispered to the leaves.
Then suddenly the silence was broken by 'Abdu'l-Baha Who undoubtedly
knew the youthful crowd was anxious to hear Him tell an amusing story.
He did tell them a peculiarly significant story, which fixed clearly in
their minds the importance of deeds.
And then He said, "It is very easy to come here, camp near this
beautiful lake, on these charming hills, far away from everybody and
deliver speeches on Universal Peace. These ideals should be spread and
put in action over there, (Europe) not here in the world's most peaceful
On the following evening, May 16, 1912, about nine o'clock, 'Abdu'l-Baha
said, "We have to leave this place tomorrow and I wish that I might have
one of my Persian rugs here, that I might give it as a present to our
host, Mr. Smiley, President of the International Peace Society." Those
who were in His company told Him that it would be impossible for anyone
to go to New York and return in one night, as all have to leave about
ten o'clock in the morning. Then He looked at this servant and asked,
"Well, what do you say?" I said, "I am not afraid to try anything for
you, my Lord." He handed me His key and said, "Take this and go to my
room and bring a rug. May God bless you."
From Lake Mohonk I hired a carriage to take me to the railroad station.
To my disappointment, I learned on arriving there that there was no
passenger train at that hour for New York, but a freight train was just
leaving. I jumped the tracks and made a wild dash as fast as I could
run. Finally I caught the rear end of that speeding train and succeeded
in climbing up without mishap. Then while I was trying to catch my
breath, the conductor came and protested my action and ordered me to get
off at the next station. I showed him my professional card and told him
that I was going on a very urgent mission. "0 you are a doctor! That is
all right." Fortunately, the kind conductor did not ask what the nature
of the urgent call was.
About two o'clock in the morning I reached 'Abdu'l-Baha's apartment and
had to awaken Mrs. Grace Ober and her sister, Miss Ella Roberts, to let
me in. They were very kind and asked me to have something to eat and to
rest a while, but I thanked them and told them that I was in a great
hurry. Then I selected one of the most precious rugs from 'Abdul-Baha's
room and hastened to the railroad station. I took the first early
morning train. It was about nine o'clock when I landed at Lake Mohonk
station. From the station it would take one hour to reach Lake Mohonk by
carriage, and I had to be there at ten o'clock. I looked around and
there was no vehicle of any kind in sight. But finally, the mail carrier
appeared with his little wagon and got off at once to receive the mail.
I got on the little wagon and awaited his return.
When he came and saw me, well! was I nervous? It was certainly one of
the embarrassing moments of my life. However, I explained my position to
him, namely, that I was in the service of 'Abdu'l-Baha, whom we regarded
as our spiritual king, and I showed him the rug that had to be delivered
right away to Mr. Smiley, President of the International Peace Society.
Then as a last resort, I suggested that in case it was against the law
to let me go with him, he could at least let me relieve him that morning
because I knew how to drive a horse, and if it was necessary, he might
consult with the post office or the police.
O what a relief came when he said, "It's alright I guess, I am going up
We arrived at our destiny just at the time when 'Abdu'l-Baha was shaking
hands with Mr. Smiley and preparing to leave. He took the rug with a
smile and presented it to Mr. Smiley to keep as a souvenir.
"Why this is just what I have been seeking for many years Mr. Smiley
exclaimed. "You see we had a Persian rug just like this one, but it was
burned in a fire and ever since my wife has been broken hearted over it.
This will surely make her very happy."
Afterward the Secretary of the International Peace Society, who was the
last one to leave, came and said to Abdu'l-Baha, "We all appreciate your
blessed visit and we believe what you said is the truth. But we are
sorry we cannot include religion in our organization. Our members are
composed of all kinds of religions and sects the Protestant, Catholic,
Jew, etc; naturally everyone prefers his own belief and will protest if
any religion besides his own is favored."
To this Abdu'l-Baha said, "Your members may be compared to beams of
different metals and you are trying to unite them as you would tie these
fingers together with a string." Here 'Abdu'l-Baha brought His own five
fingers close together to illustrate His point. "See, no matter how you
tie them, still they shall remain separate. But the only way to make
these metals into one alloy, is to put them into a crucible and apply
intense heat to melt them all. For our melting pot, we use the fire of
the love of God."
Address by `Abdu'l-Baha at Brotherhood Church (REV. HOWARD COLBY IVES,
BERGEN AND FAIRVIEW AVENUES, JERSEY CITY,
Stenographic Notes by Miss Esther Foster.
Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 9, p. 5
INTRODUCTION BY REV. HOWARD IVES.
Reading from Hidden Words.
MY FRIENDS, this is a most wonderful age -- the most wonderful age in
human history. This is the age of which poets have dreamed and prophets
have spoken since the dawn of time. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Do
you realize how short a time ago it is that such a scene as this would
be absolutely impossible? Do you realize that now, this is the first
decade, I might say, certainly the first quarter of a century when not
only free speech is heard from the pulpit, but in every pulpit in the
land it is possible to welcome people of other sects, nay of other
creeds, nay of other nations? The Scotch Covenanter, Richard Cameron,
not so many years ago, on the last Sunday before his death, preached
from his pulpit that he hoped that blood and fire could be used against
the Church of Rome; that he would be in favor of war against all
Catholicism, and he hoped it would break out in Scotland first.
Now we have with us tonight a representative of the Orient, a part of
the country almost within gunshot of Nazareth, a man who comes to us
with a great and wonderful message. He hardly set foot within this
country before he was asked by Percy Stickney Grant Pastor of the Church
of the Ascension, to occupy his pulpit on the next Sunday morning. Percy
Stickney Grant, one of God's heroes, exposed himself to criticism and no
slight annoyance to express publicly his belief in true religion. And
since then, where has this brother of ours been? I would almost say
everywhere. He has been asked to speak to the most diverse people. He
has gone from Columbia University to the Bowery Mission. He has gone
from the African Church to speak at a meeting of the New Thought
Society. Wherever he has gone he has brought the great leveler of the
Spirit of God. He has in truth come here to teach us the lesson of
humanity, and I pray God with all my heart that this night may be to us
-- this Brotherhood Church -- a wonderful blessing; that we may get his
Spirit, the Spirit of Self-sacrifice.
You know something of his life probably, but let me tell you as I may
briefly, that he has spent over forty years in prison for this Truth.
His Father died in prison, a Great Teacher of the human race. He comes
out of this prison and steps into the great societies of Paris, London
and America. He finds the world open to receive him. He comes with
nothing to back him. He has no great letters of credit he has no great
introductions; he does not even speak our language. Ah, but he speaks
the language of the heart and the heart understands!
I hope I may be allowed to make one personal allusion, which may be
pardoned if it is not exactly what our brother here would wish: There
have come to this country vast numbers of so-called prophets, -- people
who came with a newism -- something a little different with the twang of
the Orient about it, and flocks of people go to them and pour out their
money and enthusiasm. These Orientals line their pockets with our money
and go away. This is an insult to humanity.
Lest you may think it is possible to believe such a thing of
Abdu'l-Baha, let me tell you that his friends here provided a beautiful
apartment for him in the Ansonia. They wanted to express their love and
veneration in the only way they could by providing a comfortable place
in which he could meet the many friends and be comfortable. He accepted
it with thanks, but paid for it all himself. Never since he has been in
this country has he accepted one cent from anybody. On the contrary, the
generosity of this noble soul is beyond any comparison. The first Sunday
he spoke in Grant's church, the contribution was passed, and he made his
offering. When he was asked to speak to the Bowery Mission, he went
there with a big bag of one thousand francs changed into twenty-five
cent pieces of our money, and stood at the door giving them to those
poor ragged brothers of ours.
My friends, the Kingdom of God is at hand, and I call upon you to
recognize it! I call upon you to spread the news on every side! No
longer is there room in God's world for sect or creed. He knows no sect.
There is no creed or sect in God's sight.
AB's Talk at Brotherhood Church
19 May 1912 6
Bergen and Fairview Avenues, Jersey City, New Jersey
Notes by Esther Foster
from Abdu'l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 129
Because this is called the Church of Brotherhood, I wish to speak upon
the brotherhood of mankind. There is perfect brotherhood underlying
humanity, for all are servants of one God and belong to one family under
the protection of divine providence. The bond of fraternity exists in
humanity because all are intelligent beings created in the realm of
evolutionary growth. There is brotherhood potential in humanity because
all inhabit this earthly globe under the one canopy of heaven. There is
brotherhood natal in mankind because all are elements of one human
society subject to the necessity of agreement and cooperation. There is
brotherhood intended in humanity because all are waves of one sea,
leaves and fruit of one tree. This is physical fellowship which ensures
material happiness in the human world. The stronger it becomes, the more
will mankind advance and the circle of materiality be enlarged.
The real brotherhood is spiritual, for physical brotherhood is subject
to separation. The wars of the outer world of existence separate
humankind, but in the eternal world of spiritual brotherhood separation
is unknown. Material or physical association is based upon earthly
interests, but divine fellowship owes its existence to the breaths of
the Holy Spirit. Spiritual brotherhood may be likened to the light,
while the souls of humankind are as lanterns. The incandescent lamps
here are many, yet the light is one.
At a time in the Orient when even physical brotherhood was not in
existence Baha'u'llah appeared. At first He set forth the principles of
physical brotherhood and afterward founded the spiritual brotherhood. He
breathed such a spirit into the countries of the Orient that various
peoples and warring tribes were blended in unity. Their bestowals and
susceptibilities became one, their purposes one purpose, their desires
one desire to such a degree that they sacrificed themselves for each
other, forfeiting name, possessions and comfort. Their fellowship became
indissoluble. This is eternal, spiritual fellowship, heavenly and divine
brotherhood, which defies dissolution. Material civilization advances
through the physical association of mankind. The progress you observe in
the outer world is founded mainly upon the fraternity of material
interests. Were it not for this physical and mental association,
civilization would not have progressed. Now -- praise be to God! -- the
indissoluble spiritual association is evident; therefore, it is certain
that divine civilization has been founded, and the world will progress
and advance spiritually. In this radiant century divine knowledge,
merciful attributes and spiritual virtues will attain the highest degree
of advancement. The traces have become manifest in Persia. Souls have
advanced to such a degree as to forfeit life and possessions for each
other. Their spiritual perceptions have developed; their intelligence
has quickened; their souls are awakened. The utmost love has been
manifested. Therefore, it is my hope that spiritual fraternity shall
unite the East and the West and bring about the complete abolition of
warfare among mankind. May it bind together individuals and members of
the human family and be the cause of advancing minds, illuminating
hearts and allowing divine bestowals to encompass us from all
directions. May spiritual susceptibilities set hearts aglow with the
message of glad tidings. May spiritual brotherhood cause rebirth and
regeneration, for its creative quickening emanates from the breaths of
the Holy Spirit and is founded by the power of God. Surely that which is
founded through the divine power of the Holy Spirit is permanent in its
potency and lasting in its effect.
Material brotherhood does not prevent nor remove warfare; it does not
dispel differences among mankind. But spiritual alliance destroys the
very foundation of war, effaces differences entirely, promulgates the
oneness of humanity, revivifies mankind, causes hearts to turn to the
Kingdom of God and baptizes souls with the Holy Spirit. Through this
divine brotherhood the material world will become resplendent with the
lights of Divinity, the mirror of materiality will acquire its lights
from heaven, and justice will be established in the world so that no
trace of darkness, hatred and enmity shall be visible. Humanity shall
come within the bounds of security, the Prophethood of all the
Messengers of God shall be established, Zion shall leap and dance,
Jerusalem shall rejoice, the Mosaic flame shall ignite, the Messianic
light shall shine, the world will become another world, and humanity
shall put on another power. This is the greatest divine bestowal; this
is the effulgence of the Kingdom of God; this is the day of
illumination; this is the merciful century. We must appreciate these
things and strive in order that the utmost desire of the Prophets may
now be realized and all the glad tidings be fulfilled. Trust in the
favor of God. Look not at your own capacities, for the divine bestowal
can transform a drop into an ocean; it can make a tiny seed a lofty
tree. Verily, divine bestowals are like the sea, and we are the fishes
of that sea. The fishes must not look at themselves; they must behold
the ocean, which is vast and wonderful. Provision for the sustenance of
all is in this ocean; therefore, the divine bounties encompass all, and
love eternal shines upon all.
The question has been asked: Will the spiritual progress of the world
equal and keep pace with material progress in the future? In a living
organism the full measure of its development is not known or realized at
the time of its inception or birth. Development and progression imply
gradual stages or degrees. For example, spiritual advancement may be
likened to the light of the early dawn. Although this dawn light is dim
and pale, a wise man who views the march of the sunrise at its very
beginning can foretell the ascendancy of the sun in its full glory and
effulgence. He knows for a certainty that it is the beginning of its
manifestation and that later it will assume great power and potency.
Again, for example, if he takes a seed and observes that it is
sprouting, he will know assuredly that it will ultimately become a tree.
Now is the beginning of the manifestation of the spiritual power, and
inevitably the potency of its life forces will assume greater and
greater proportions. Therefore, this twentieth century is the dawn, or
beginning, of spiritual illumination, and it is evident that day by day
it will advance. It will reach such a degree that spiritual effulgences
will overcome the physical, so that divine susceptibilities will
overpower material intelligence and the heavenly light dispel and banish
earthly darkness. Divine healing shall purify all ills, and the cloud of
mercy will pour down its rain. The Sun of Reality will shine, and all
the earth shall put on its beautiful green carpet.
Among the results of the manifestation of spiritual forces will be that
the human world will adapt itself to a new social form, the justice of
God will become manifest throughout human affairs, and human equality
will be universally established. The poor will receive a great bestowal,
and the rich attain eternal happiness. For although at the present time
the rich enjoy the greatest luxury and comfort, they are nevertheless
deprived of eternal happiness; for eternal happiness is contingent upon
giving, and the poor are everywhere in the state of abject need. Through
the manifestation of God's great equity the poor of the world will be
rewarded and assisted fully, and there will be a readjustment in the
economic conditions of mankind so that in the future there will not be
the abnormally rich nor the abject poor. The rich will enjoy the
privilege of this new economic condition as well as the poor, for owing
to certain provisions and restrictions they will not be able to
accumulate so much as to be burdened by its management, while the poor
will be relieved from the stress of want and misery. The rich will enjoy
his palace, and the poor will have his comfortable cottage.
The essence of the matter is that divine justice will become manifest in
human conditions and affairs, and all mankind will find comfort and
enjoyment in life. It is not meant that all will be equal, for
inequality in degree and capacity is a property of nature. Necessarily
there will be rich people and also those who will be in want of their
livelihood, but in the aggregate community there will be equalization
and readjustment of values and interests. In the future there will be no
very rich nor extremely poor. There will be an equilibrium of interests,
and a condition will be established which will make both rich and poor
comfortable and content. This will be an eternal and blessed outcome of
the glorious twentieth century which will be realized universally. The
significance of it is that the glad tidings of great joy revealed in the
promises of the Holy Books will be fulfilled. Await ye this consummation.