We are off to visit family in the ‘City of Angels’ for the next few weeks..I’ll be back to blogging on our return…
Almost every morning and evening for the last twenty-four years I have read a verse or two from the ‘Hidden Words’ of Bahá’u’lláh. It is a mine of spiritual gems ( and also provides the title of this blog). Bahá’u’lláh wrote in His preamble to the ‘Hidden Words’ that
‘…This is that which hath descended from the realm of glory, uttered by the tongue of power and might, and revealed unto the Prophets of old. We have taken the inner essence thereof and clothed it in the garment of brevity, as a token of grace unto the righteous, that they may stand faithful unto the Covenant of God, may fulfill in their lives His trust, and in the realm of spirit obtain the gem of Divine virtue’.
I would recommend anyone who feels the need for spiritual inspiration to read the beautiful verses of the ‘Hidden Words.’
The longer I strive to live by the precepts of this great book the more I appreciate the wisdom it contains. In the pages of the ‘Kitáb-i-Aqdas’ (The Most Holy Book) Bahá’u’lláh offers a moral framework for life in the new millenium.
“In its affirmation of the validity of the great religions of the past, the Kitáb-i-Aqdas reiterates those eternal truths enunciated by all the Divine Messengers: the unity of God, love of one’s neighbour, and the moral purpose of earthly life. At the same time it removes those elements of past religious codes that now constitute obstacles to the emerging unification of the world and the reconstruction of human society.The Law of God for this Dispensation addresses the needs of the entire human family. There are laws in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas which are directed primarily to the members of a specific section of humanity and can be immediately understood by them but which, at first reading, may be obscure to people of a different culture. Such, for example, is the law prohibiting the confession of sins to a fellow human being which, though understandable by those of Christian background, may puzzle others. Many laws relate to those of past Dispensations, especially the two most recent ones, those of Muḥammad and the Báb embodied in the Qur’án and the Bayán. Nevertheless, although certain ordinances of the Aqdas have such a focused reference, they also have universal implications. Through His Law, Bahá’u’lláh gradually unveils the significance of the new levels of knowledge and behaviour to which the peoples of the world are being called. He embeds His precepts in a setting of spiritual commentary, keeping ever before the mind of the reader the principle that these laws, no matter the subject with which they deal, serve the manifold purposes of bringing tranquillity to human society, raising the standard of human behaviour, increasing the range of human understanding, and spiritualizing the life of each and all. Throughout, it is the relationship of the individual soul to God and the fulfilment of its spiritual destiny that is the ultimate aim of the laws of religion. “Think not”, is Bahá’u’lláh’s own assertion, “that We have revealed unto you a mere code of laws. Nay, rather, We have unsealed the choice Wine with the fingers of might and power.” His Book of Laws is His “weightiest testimony unto all people, and the proof of the All-Merciful unto all who are in heaven and all who are on earth” From the introduction to ‘The Kitáb-i-Aqdas’ by Bahá’u’lláh: Bahá’í World Centre, 1992 Edition
I have a ring which I bought in Tehran engraved with an emblem Bahá’ís call the ‘ringstone’ symbol. It is from a design created by `Abdu’l-Bahá and comprises two stars and a calligraphic rendition of the Arabic word ‘Bahá’ or ‘Glory’. The lower line symbolises the world of Humanity, the upper line represents God, and the middle line symbolises the ‘Manifestation of God’. The vertical line can be seen as the Divine Will (or ‘Holy Spirit’) issuing from God via the Manifestation of God to Humanity. Thus the Manifestation of God is the vital link between the divine and mortal worlds.`Abdu’l-Bahá wrote
‘The Divine Reality is Unthinkable, Limitless, Eternal, Immortal and Invisible. The world of creation is bound by natural law, finite and mortal. The Infinite Reality cannot be said to ascend or descend. It is beyond the understanding of man, and cannot be described in terms which apply to the phenomenal sphere of the created world. Man, then, is in extreme need of the only Power by which he is able to receive help from the Divine Reality, that Power alone bringing him into contact with the Source of all life. An intermediary is needed to bring two extremes into relation with each other. Riches and poverty, plenty and need: without an intermediary power there could be no relation between these pairs of opposites. So we can say there must be a Mediator between God and Man, and this is none other than the Holy Spirit, which brings the created earth into relation with the ‘Unthinkable One’, the Divine Reality. The Divine Reality may be likened to the sun and the Holy Spirit to the rays of the sun. As the rays of the sun bring the light and warmth of the sun to the earth, giving life to all created beings, so do the ‘Manifestations’ bring the power of the Holy Spirit from the Divine Sun of Reality to give light and life to the souls of men’.
The use of the number 9 (and variations such as 19 and 99) is an interesting aspect of the Bahá’í Faith. (For example the Bahá’í Calendar consists of nineteen months of nineteen days). As I understand it there are two main reasons for the use of these numbers. Firstly there is the (symbolic) numerological association of the number 9 with unity and perfection. Secondly there is a system in Arabic called ‘Abjad’ which associates numerical values with words and letters. In this system the Arabic Word ‘Bahá” (meaning ‘Glory’) has a numerical value of 9. Shoghi Effendi wrote
“Concerning the number nine: the Bahá’ís reverence this for two reasons, first because it is considered by those who are interested in numbers as the sign of perfection. The second consideration, which is the more important one, is that it is the numerical value of the word “Bahá”…Besides these two significances the number nine has no other meaning. It is, however, enough to make the Bahá’ís use it when an arbitrary number is to be chosen.”
‘O Lord! Unto Thee I repair for refuge, and toward all Thy signs I set my heart.
O Lord! Whether travelling or at home, and in my occupation or in my work, I place my whole trust in Thee.
Grant me then Thy sufficing help so as to make me independent of all things, O Thou Who art unsurpassed in Thy mercy!
Bestow upon me my portion, O Lord, as Thou pleasest, and cause me to be satisfied with whatsoever Thou hast ordained for me.
Thine is the absolute authority to command’. —The Báb
‘…it is clear that the honor and exaltation of man must be something more than material riches. Material comforts are only a branch, but the root of the exaltation of man is the good attributes and virtues which are the adornments of his reality. These are the divine appearances, the heavenly bounties, the sublime emotions, the love and knowledge of God; universal wisdom, intellectual perception, scientific discoveries, justice, equity, truthfulness, benevolence, natural courage and innate fortitude; the respect for rights and the keeping of agreements and covenants; rectitude in all circumstances; serving the truth under all conditions; the sacrifice of one’s life for the good of all people; kindness and esteem for all nations; obedience to the teachings of God; service in the Divine Kingdom; the guidance of the people, and the education of the nations and races. This is the prosperity of the human world! This is the exaltation of man in the world! This is eternal life and heavenly honor’! `Abdu’l-Bahá
O SON OF BEING! Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee. Know this, O servant. Bahá’u’lláh
‘The utterance of God is a lamp, whose light is these words: Ye are the fruits of one tree, and the leaves of one branch. Deal ye one with another with the utmost love and harmony, with friendliness and fellowship. He Who is the Day Star of Truth beareth Me witness! So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The one true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words’. Bahá’u’lláh
O SON OF MAN! Wert thou to speed through the immensity of space and traverse the expanse of heaven, yet thou wouldst find no rest save in submission to Our command and humbleness before Our Face. Bahá’u’lláh
O SON OF MAN! I loved thy creation, hence I created thee. Wherefore, do thou love Me, that I may name thy name and fill thy soul with the spirit of life. –Bahá’u’lláh
I am delighted to hear of the recent decision by UNESCO that the resting places of Bahá’u’lláh and the Báb should be considered as part of the cultural heritage of humanity. It is a tribute to the influence of these Divine Messengers that the two places of Bahá’í pilgrimage are to be added to a list which includes the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Egypt. They are the first holy places of a religious tradition revealed in modern times to be given such a status. I find this very poignant given the injustice meted out to these two noble souls in their lifetime. The Báb was martyred in 1850 in the city of Tabriz and Bahá’u’lláh spent much of His adult life unjustly imprisoned by the Ottomans in the prison-city of Akka in Palestine. From such suffering has emerged the ‘Divine Springtime’ of a new revelation.
O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting. –Bahá’u’lláh
Bahá’u’lláh teaches that there is one God who has revealed His will through progressive revelation by his Divine Messengers. The common objective of these Divine Messengers is to promote the spiritual and social development of the human race. Humanity has reached such a stage of development that it’s unification in one peaceful world community is now possible. In order to promote this peaceful world community Bahá’u’lláh teaches-
- That humankind is one family
- That the religions have one common divine source
- That true religion is consistent with reason and the quest for scientific understanding
- That extremes of poverty and wealth should be avoided
- That universal education should be made available to all-an education both spiritual and material in character
- That all forms of prejudice should be left behind
- That the sexes are equal, ‘the wings of a single bird’
- That a world commonwealth of nations should be created, founded on principles of peace and justice
Thy name is my healing, O my God, and remembrance of Thee is my remedy. Nearness to Thee is my hope, and love for Thee is my companion. Thy mercy to me is my healing and my succor in both this world and the world to come. Thou, verily, art the All-Bountiful, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. —Bahá’u’lláh
A report from National Geographic News suggests that prehistoric peoples chose caves with naturally good acoustics in which to create their cave paintings. This is according to research conducted by Iegor Reznikoff, an acoustics expert at the University of Paris. The suggestion being that music may have been used in the religious ceremonies of our ancestors. I find this to be a fascinating confirmation of the Bahá’í view of the spiritual nature of humanity. It brings to mind these words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
‘The art of music is divine and effective. It is the food of the soul and spirit. Through the power and charm of music the spirit of man is uplifted’.
‘Dolmeh’ or stuffed vine leaves is another popular Iranian recipe prepared by Minoo (a.k.a. Mrs Beech). It can be eaten as a main meal with bread, or as an accompaniment to other dishes. In the amounts indicated this dish serves about 5-6 people.
4 cloves garlic, crushed
20 medium to large fresh vine leaves
1 pound minced lamb
1 and a half cups basmati rice
half cup split peas
2 finely chopped medium onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons lemon Juice
- Fry minced lamb with onions, garlic, and coriander adding pepper, salt and cumin
- Par boil rice and split peas
- Mix lamb and rice/split peas together to make stuffing
- Dip vine leaves in boiling water to soften
- Fill vine leaves with about a tablespoon of stuffing (depending on size) roll leaves tightly, continue until all leaves are stuffed
- Place ‘dolmeh’ in layers in a pan, adding sugar, lemon juice and one or two cups of water. Boil on low heat for c. 45 minutes. Can be served hot or cold
O SON OF SPIRIT! My first counsel is this: Possess a pure, kindly and radiant heart, that thine may be a sovereignty ancient, imperishable and everlasting. –Bahá’u’lláh