Spiritual Springtime

Of all Bahá’í holy days Naw-Rúz on the 21st of March is the one I love the most. The historical roots of Naw-Rúz (or ‘New Day’ in Persian) are in the ancient Iranian New Year festival, which apart from being celebrated in Iran itself is also marked within the broader sphere of Persian cultural influence. This includes parts of the Middle East, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Western China and the Caucasus. As well as being sacred to Baha’is Naw-Rúz is also a holy day for Alawites, Alevis, Ismaili Muslims and Zoroastrians. I also note with interest that the Vernal Equinox is also marked by Pagans- for example as the ‘High Feast of Ostara’ sacred to the Norse Pantheon. Occurring as it does on the Vernal Equinox I associate the festival of Naw-Rúz with both spiritual and physical renewal. Indeed `Abdu’l-Bahá describes the revelation of God as the ‘Sun of Reality’ bringing life to a spiritually dead world.

Furthermore, just as the solar cycle has its four seasons, the cycle of the Sun of Reality has its distinct and successive periods. Each brings its vernal season or springtime. When the Sun of Reality returns to quicken the world of mankind a divine bounty descends from the heaven of generosity. The realm of thoughts and ideals is set in motion and blessed with new life. Minds are developed, hopes brighten, aspirations become spiritual, the virtues of the human world appear with freshened power of growth and the image and likeness of God become visible in man. It is the springtime of the inner world. After the spring, summer comes with its fullness and fruitage spiritual; autumn follows with its withering winds which chill the soul; the Sun seems to be going away until at last the mantle of winter overspreads and only faint traces of the effulgence of that divine Sun remain. Just as the surface of the material world becomes dark and dreary, the soil dormant, the trees naked and bare and no beauty or freshness remain to cheer the darkness and desolation, so the winter of the spiritual cycle witnesses the death and disappearance of divine growth and extinction of the light and love of God. But again the cycle begins and a new springtime appears. In it the former springtime has returned, the world is resuscitated, illumined and attains spirituality; religion is renewed and reorganized, hearts are turned to God, the summons of God is heard and life is again bestowed upon man. For a long time the religious world had been weakened and materialism had advanced; the spiritual forces of life were waning, moralities were becoming degraded, composure and peace had vanished from souls and satanic qualities were dominating hearts; strife and hatred overshadowed humanity, bloodshed and violence prevailed. God was neglected; the Sun of Reality seemed to have gone completely; deprivation of the bounties of heaven was a fact; and so the season of winter fell upon mankind. But in the generosity of God a new springtime dawned, the lights of God shone forth, the effulgent Sun of Reality returned and became manifest, the realm of thoughts and kingdom of hearts became exhilarated, a new spirit of life breathed into the body of the world and continuous advancement became apparent.

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