‘The Gem of Divine Virtue’

I am struck by the way Bahá’u’lláh describes the signs of God as being apparent to the seeker in the manner in which the value of a precious stone is revealed to a jeweller.

‘I swear by God! Were he that treadeth the path of guidance and seeketh to scale the heights of righteousness to attain unto this glorious and supreme station, he would inhale at a distance of a thousand leagues the fragrance of God, and would perceive the resplendent morn of a divine Guidance rising above the dayspring of all things. Each and every thing, however small, would be to him a revelation, leading him to his Beloved, the Object of his quest. So great shall be the discernment of this seeker that he will discriminate between truth and falsehood even as he doth distinguish the sun from shadow. If in the uttermost corners of the East the sweet savours of God be wafted, he will assuredly recognize and inhale their fragrance, even though he be dwelling in the uttermost ends of the West. He will likewise clearly distinguish all the signs of God—His wondrous utterances, His great works, and mighty deeds—from the doings, words and ways of men, even as the jeweller who knoweth the gem from the stone…’

The Kitáb-i-Íqán Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1989 pocket-size edition

‘Say: He it is Who is the Manifestation of Him Who is the Unknowable, the Invisible of the Invisibles, could ye but perceive it. He it is Who hath laid bare before you the hidden and treasured Gem, were ye to seek it. He it is Who is the one Beloved of all things, whether of the past or of the future. Would that ye might set your hearts and hopes upon Him‘!

Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition

‘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’.

The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh  US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1985 reprint

Bahá’u’lláh also refers to the soul as being ‘a heavenly gem’-

‘Thou hast asked Me concerning the nature of the soul. Know, verily, that the soul is a sign of God, a heavenly gem whose reality the most learned of men hath failed to grasp, and whose mystery no mind, however acute, can ever hope to unravel. It is the first among all created things to declare the excellence of its Creator, the first to recognize His glory, to cleave to His truth, and to bow down in adoration before Him. If it be faithful to God, it will reflect His light, and will, eventually, return unto Him. If it fail, however, in its allegiance to its Creator, it will become a victim to self and passion, and will, in the end, sink in their depths‘.

Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh Source: US Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1990 pocket-size edition

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‘All are the Inhabitants of One Planet’

Monica Stewart ‘Unity’

In this age where politicians seem determined to divide the peoples of the East and the West through the promotion of fruitless conflict in places such as Afghanistan. Iraq and Libya I find it moving to read the words of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá  on the union of East and West.

‘Exert yourselves with heart and soul so that, perchance, through your efforts the light of universal peace may shine and this darkness of estrangement and enmity may be dispelled from amongst men, that all men may become as one family and consort together in love and kindness, that the East may assist the West and the West give help to the East, for all are the inhabitants of one planet, the people of one original native land and the flocks of one Shepherd’.

5 December 1912 Talk on Day of Departure On Board Steamship Celtic, New York

'The Coughing Gutturals of Ghasts…'

Mortal enemy of the Somewhat Freudian Gug ghasts haunt the subterranean caverns of Lovecraft’s Dreamworld..

‘Presently three other ghasts hopped out to join their fellow…It was very unpleasant to see those filthy and disproportioned animals which soon numbered about fifteen, grubbing about and making their kangaroo leaps in the grey twilight where titan towers and monoliths arose, but it was still more unpleasant when they spoke among themselves in the coughing gutturals of ghasts’.

‘The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath’

‘Abdu’l-Bahá On the Non-Existence of Evil

‘Abdu’l-Bahá

In popular culture particularly in the fantasy and horror genres ‘evil‘ is often portrayed as a kind of supernatural force. I think this imparts a glamour and power to wrong-doing which the sad and sordid reality does not possess. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá taught that in a metaphysical sense there is no such thing as evil- evil is merely the absence of good.

‘The true explanation of this subject is very difficult. Know that beings are of two kinds: material and spiritual, those perceptible to the senses and those intellectual.Things which are sensible are those which are perceived by the five exterior senses; thus those outward existences which the eyes see are called sensible. Intellectual things are those which have no outward existence but are conceptions of the mind. For example, mind itself is an intellectual thing which has no outward existence. All man’s characteristics and qualities form an intellectual existence and are not sensible. Briefly, the intellectual realities, such as all the qualities and admirable perfections of man, are purely good, and exist. Evil is simply their nonexistence. So ignorance is the want of knowledge; error is the want of guidance; forgetfulness is the want of memory; stupidity is the want of good sense. All these things have no real existence. In the same way, the sensible realities are absolutely good, and evil is due to their nonexistence—that is to say, blindness is the want of sight, deafness is the want of hearing, poverty is the want of wealth, illness is the want of health, death is the want of life, and weakness is the want of strength. Nevertheless a doubt occurs to the mind—that is, scorpions and serpents are poisonous. Are they good or evil, for they are existing beings? Yes, a scorpion is evil in relation to man; a serpent is evil in relation to man; but in relation to themselves they are not evil, for their poison is  their weapon, and by their sting they defend themselves. But as the elements of their poison do not agree with our elements—that is to say, as there is antagonism between these different elements, therefore, this antagonism is evil; but in reality as regards themselves they are good. The epitome of this discourse is that it is possible that one thing in relation to another may be evil, and at the same time within the limits of its proper being it may not be evil. Then it is proved that there is no evil in existence; all that God created He created good. This evil is nothingness; so death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness. Light is an existing thing, but darkness is nonexistent. Wealth is an existing thing, but poverty is nonexisting. Then it is evident that all evils return to nonexistence. Good exists; evil is nonexistent‘.

Some Answered Questions