Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Paragraph 104


To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent and descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. “No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; He is the Subtile, the All-Perceiving.” No tie of direct intercourse can possibly bind Him to His creatures. He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.
Thus begins our incredible journey into Part 2 of this remarkable Book. For nine paragraphs Baha'u'llah will talk about the concept of how we are unable to know God directly, and can only begin to know Him through His Manifestations. Two paragraphs earlier, the introductory paragraph to Part 2 begins, as you recall, "Verily He Who is the Day-star of Truth and Revealer of the Supreme Being...", and here He begins showing us that aspect of His station as the "Revealer of the Supreme Being".

But what is He saying, exactly?

He begins by recognizing that if our heart is able to distinguish subtle and hard-to-recognize differences, which is the definition of "discerning", as well as illumined, which we like to think of as radiant through various attributes such as humility and detachment, then we understand that God is so much more than ourselves. Remember, detachment was such an important quality in Part 1, and here it seems to play an equally strong part, too. Many people like to think of God as just a big person. Somehow this seems to make them think that we, as a species, are somehow bigger or more important, but all it really does is shrink their perception of God. Here Baha'u'llah is really telling us that any human attributes that we want to try to place upon our understanding of God are bound to fall far, far short. Not only do these attributes fall short, God is "immensely exalted beyond" all of them. In Prayers and Meditations LXXV, He goes on to explain this further, saying, "I know not how to sing Thy praise, how to describe Thy glory, how to call upon Thy Name. If I call upon Thee by Thy Name, the All-Possessing, I am compelled to recognize that He Who holdeth in His hand the immediate destinies of all created things is but a vassal dependent upon Thee, and is the creation of but a word proceeding from Thy mouth. And if I proclaim Thee by the name of Him Who is the All-Compelling, I readily discover that He is but a suppliant fallen upon the dust, awe-stricken by Thy dreadful might, Thy sovereignty and power." However we attempt to describe God, our description must fall short.

We should not think, however, that this means we cannot praise God, for as anyone who has prayed knows, we can. But rather we should be aware of His caveat: we cannot "adequately recount His praise". Any praise we attempt to use to try to praise God will, also, fall short.

This whole paragraph seems to drive this point home: God is so much more than we think.

Although we can have indirect contact with God, through His Manifestations, we cannot know God directly.

To be clear, though, this does not mean that we, as a species, are any less worthy or smaller than we thought, but rather that God is so much greater than we had previously believed.

Saying it, though, doesn't really do it justice. Let's use an example instead.

Imagine yourself, for a moment, sitting in your room, where you are right now. Picture yourself, from above, looking down on yourself, sitting there. It's easy, right? Now try to imagine yourself sitting there, in that room, inside the building in which you are, whether it is a house, or an apartment block, or even a local coffee shop. Imagine yourself sitting there, in that building. Picture the building around you, with you sitting there comfortably reading these words.

Again, not too difficult.

Now try to see yourself, from further above, still sitting there in the room in the building in your city or town. Visualize the whole town, and try to see yourself sitting there in your room.

Not as easy, is it?

Now move further away. Try to visualize yourself, where you are, in your whole country. Look down at the entire country. Can you still see yourself?

How about from the perspective of the entire planet? Or solar system? Or galaxy? Or galactic cluster? And remember, this is just one of many millions of galactic clusters in the universe.

None of this, however, means that you are any smaller or less than when you first imagined yourself sitting in your room. You are still the same. Unchanged. It's just that now we have a far grander vision of the reality of the universe than we did, say, a hundred years ago.

Remember, in almost every sacred Book there is a line somewhere that says that the "fear of God is the beginning of wisdom". "Fear", you may recall, is actually "a mild discomfort", not the terror that we often associate with the term. "Terror" is a "paralyzing fear", but fear itself is just a mild discomfort. And this exercise of seeing where we actually are in the immensity of the universe often makes us a little bit uncomfortable as we begin to contemplate just how minuscule we are in the immensity of the universe around us.

We have not gotten any smaller. We have just allowed ourselves to begin to understand how incredibly big this universe actually is.

Here, in this paragraph, Baha'u'llah is beginning to do the same thing with our understanding of God.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Paragraph 103

The significance and essential purpose underlying these words is to reveal and demonstrate unto the pure in heart and the sanctified in spirit that they Who are the Luminaries of truth and the Mirrors reflecting the light of divine Unity, in whatever age and cycle they are sent down from their invisible habitations of ancient glory unto this world, to educate the souls of men and endue with grace all created things, are invariably endowed with an all-compelling power, and invested with invincible sovereignty. For these hidden Gems, these concealed and invisible Treasures, in themselves manifest and vindicate the reality of these holy words: “Verily God doeth whatsoever He willeth, and ordaineth whatsoever He pleaseth.”

Once again, we can be very grateful to Baha'u'llah for explaining to us what it is that He has just said. This paragraph, like paragraph 2, offers us His own explanation of the paragraph just before it. Like paragraph 2, since it is already a summary, it is difficult for us to further sum it up. And so, as before, we will just do a bit of analysis of it.

To start, "significance" means "important quality" and the "essential purpose" is "the necessary intention and objective". So, the most important thing we can get out of the previous paragraph is that these Messengers have "an all-compelling power" and "invincible sovereignty". However, we should also remember that "no man be found on earth to obey Him".

Why would this be? And why is it so important that He state it here, at the very beginning of Part 2? Well, of course, we're not really sure, but we think that it may be because by this point in the book the uncle of the Bab has already recognized his Nephew. And yet, he still has some very important questions. For example, if the Bab is a divine Messenger, of which there is no doubt, then why aren't people obeying His commands? Well, "God doeth whatsoever He willeth". People will obey, but not just yet.

Most of the time, they do not obey because they can't. Take, for example, the idea that women and men are equal. The early Babis, and the early Baha'is for that matter, likely accepted this as true, but given their cultural milieu, they were not able to act upon it. And many of the laws in the Kitab-i-Aqdas are also reliant upon a whole social structure being put into place for them to work. That social network just isn't there yet. Most of the time, we want to obey, but are unable to. Pilgrimage, as another example, is supposed to include the House of the Bab in Shiraz, as well as the House of Baha'u'llah in Baghdad, but given the current circumstances, we cannot do this.

In short, He is correct: nobody can be found to obey Him.

Everything Baha'u'llah says here is basically just fact: "they are sent down... to educate the souls of men". They are endowed with this power, and invested with this sovereignty, even though we, at this time, may not see it.

At this point, though, we are left wondering about all of this, and what we can do to further look at this paragraph. Is it just a simple statement of fact? That hardly seems worthy.

If we look back at part 1, after Baha'u'llah talks about the importance of detachment, He goes right into the idea of "consider the past". What if we apply that here?

Well, the first thing we notice is that we can readily see the manifest sovereignty of Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Buddha, and all the other great Teachers that have been sent down throughout history. Perhaps Baha'u'llah is reminding us not to look at the current state of His religion, or that of the Bab, but remember that all Religions started off without any seeming power or authority.

From here, as we can see from our outline, Baha'u'llah will begin this part of the book by looking at how the Manifestations reveal what we understand about God, and then move into explaining more about this concept of sovereignty.

Here, He uses the phrase "in whatever age and cycle they are sent down", reminding us of what He told us way back in Part 1, when He went through the story of a number of different Manifestations. This has always been the way of God, He seems to be saying remember the other stories, and see how similar it is to what we are witnessing today.

In fact, if we keep our eyes open and really look at what was happening at that time, then we can readily see how much more potency there was in the Bab's Revelation by the very stories that this uncle would undoubtedly know. Those stories that we read in the Dawn-Breakers were stories of people he actually knew. When he would look at it through the lens of what Baha'u'llah is saying here, then he would get a better idea of the incredible station of his Nephew.

And this touches upon us today.

When we look at how far the Faith has come in such a short time, and compare it to where the other Faiths were less than two centuries after their founding, then we get a far better appreciation of the potency of this Faith of ours.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Paragraph 102

Verily He Who is the Day-star of Truth and Revealer of the Supreme Being holdeth, for all time, undisputed sovereignty over all that is in heaven and on earth, though no man be found on earth to obey Him. He verily is independent of all earthly dominion, though He be utterly destitute. Thus We reveal unto thee the mysteries of the Cause of God, and bestow upon thee the gems of divine wisdom, that haply thou mayest soar on the wings of renunciation to those heights that are veiled from the eyes of men.

Thus begins Part 2 of this remarkable book.

Evidently this paragraph, like paragraph 1, is written in pure Arabic. The rest of the Book, as we're sure you are aware, is written mostly in Persian. (Not that it makes a difference to us. We can't read either one. We just thought it was interesting.)

This paragraph, though, we find intriguing in that it is filled with these seeming contradictions. He has sovereignty, "though no man be found... to obey Him"; He is independent of all things, but appears destitute. These seem like they would be incompatible, but they state a basic reality of the Manifestations of God.

In some ways this reminds us of the apparent contradictions between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, in which there are some notable differences in the stories of creation. While some might try to cite this as somehow being a flaw, we think of it, instead, as reminding us of the fundamentally mystical nature of religion. He is, after all, revealing to us "the mysteries of the Cause of God". In other words, there is far more here than meets the eye.

In other ways, it reminds us of paragraph 1 of this very book. While paragraph 1 begins with the importance of detachment, this one begins with the sovereignty that is the Manifestation's, contrasting His utter independence with His "utterly destitute" state.

In yet another way, it also reminds us of the very beginning of the Kitab-i-Aqdas. We can easily see Part 1 of this book as being about recognition, and Part 2 being about obedience. The very first paragraph of the Kitab-i-Aqdas reads:
The first duty prescribed by God for His servants is the recognition of Him Who is the Dayspring of His Revelation and the Fountain of His laws, Who representeth the Godhead in both the Kingdom of His Cause and the world of creation. Whoso achieveth this duty hath attained unto all good; and whoso is deprived thereof hath gone astray, though he be the author of every righteous deed. It behoveth every one who reacheth this most sublime station, this summit of transcendent glory, to observe every ordinance of Him Who is the Desire of the world. These twin duties are inseparable. Neither is acceptable without the other. Thus hath it been decreed by Him Who is the Source of Divine inspiration.
In many ways it seems as if He is foreshadowing the entirety of His Most Holy Book with this one, which the Guardian referred to as being of "unsurpassed pre-eminence", which you may recall from way back in the very first article of this blog. In fact, this passage from the Aqdas also reminds us that it does us no good to recognize Baha'u'llah if we don't act on it. It is like Mark Twain said: "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read." Here, the man who is not changed by recognition of the Manifestation has no advantage over the man who does not recognize. "These twin duties", as Baha'u'llah says, "are inseparable." And Part 2 of this book is inseparable from Part 1.

It is also worth noting that both paragraphs 1 and 102 have that pivotal word "haply". In paragraph 1, as you recall, you have to sanctify your soul that "haply" you might attain that station God wants for you, and go into that divine Tabernacle that was "raised in the firmament of the Bayan". By the end of Part 1, if you have been able to maintain that level of detachment He recommends, then you have likely recognized the new Manifestation. Now, in Part 2, He is offering us His writings and teachings. After all, the first proof of the Manifestation is His own Self. His second proof is His teachings. Here He has offered us this second proof that, with luck, or haply, we might "soar on the wings of renunciation" and accomplish that which He desires us to do.

This seems to be one of the overarching themes of Part 2: Now that we have recognized, what are we going to do about it? He gives us incredible examples of the great heroes of the Babi Dispensation, whom the Uncle of the Bab would have likely known, or at least heard of. (Remember the Uncle of the Bab? He's the one to whom this whole Book was written.) These are the exemplars of what we can do when we demonstrate that renunciation which they exemplified. If Part 1 is about recognizing, then we feel that Part 2 is about what to do after we have recognized.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Outline of the Paragraphs, Part 2

This is our preliminary outline for Part 2 of the Kitab-i-Iqan. We are fairly certain that it will change a bit as we go through this part paragraph by paragraph. But for now, this is our working outline. Any comments are most welcome.

Samuel and Mead


Part 2


Introduction
  • 102-3 Manifestations reveal God and have sovereignty
Revealer of the Supreme Being
  • 104-5 No direct knowledge of God
    • 106 We know God through His Manifestations
  • 107-8 Everything shows a sign of God, but humanity shows all the signs
    • 109 Manifestations show these signs to the highest degree
    • 110 All the Manifestations embody all the attributes of God
    • 111 - 112  People have strayed from the Manifestations
Sovereignty
  • 113 - 132 True Sovereignty
    • 113 Sovereignty of the Qa'im real, but not as we imagine
    • 114 Sovereignty is Their spiritual influence
    • 115 Remember Muhammad's sufferings
    • 116 No escaping these attacks
    • 117 Time proves Their sovereignty
    • 118-120 Passing judgement
      • 121 Resurrection and judgement, life and death
      • 122-9 All the Manifestations demonstrate this
    • 130 Ponder (difficult concept just shared)
    • 131 Spiritual sovereignty superior to earthly sovereignty
    • 132 This is just one meaning
  • 133 - 145 Spiritual versus Earthly
    • 133 Spiritual Sovereignty vs earthly sovereignty
    • 134 Qur'anic verification
    • 135 Husayn, as an example
      • 136 Manifestations as another example
      • 137 Dust associated with Husayn as an example
      • 138 - 139 Husayn - From martyrdom to majesty
    • 140 Summary
    • 141 Jesus - True riches
    • 142 Sadiq's example
    • 143 Poverty and Riches
    • 144 - 145 Jesus' examples of spiritual versus earthly
  • 146 - The Presence of God
    • 146 Repeated history of cavilings
    • 147 "No more Messengers"
    • 148 God can always raise another Messenger
    • 149 - 152   Attainment to the Divine Presence
      • 149 A universal revelation? No. Already happened
      • 150 Attaining the inner-most reality of God? Impossible
      • 151 - 152 Attaining the presence of the Manifestation? Yes.
    • 153 Strive to understand this
    • 154 - 155 True learning - Recognizing the Manifestation in His day
  • 156 - 174 Return of phenotypes
    • 156 History repeated
    • 157 - 158 Manifestation answers ? but people think it's irrelevant
    • 159 - 160 "Return" explicated
    • 161 - Oneness of Messenger
    • 162 - 163 Oneness of Their chosen ones
    • 164 - 167 Transmutation
    • 168 - 169 "Return" continued - attributes
    • 170 - Return of Companions - Muhammad to the Bab
    • 171 - 174 - The "First" and the "Last"
  • 175 - 210 - Some "Veils of Glory"
    • 175 - 177 - Hypocritical leaders
    • 178 - 184 - Traditional terms, such as "Seal of the Prophets"
    • 185 - 187 - Examples of some veiled people
    • 187 - 197 -  Describing the Station of Him Whom God Shall Make Manifest
      • 187 - 190 - References to His own Station
      • 191 - 195 - Their Two-fold Station
      • 196 - Many aspects of Their Spiritual Station
      • 197 Reference to Himself
    • 198 - More aspects of Their Spiritual Station
    • 199 - 202 - Seek knowledge from the knowing
    • 203 -206 - Knowledge as a veil
    • 207 - 210 - People flock to the ignorant
  • 211 - 219 The True Seeker
    • 211 - 212 - Seek guidance from the pure in heart
    • 213 - 214 Criteria for a true seeker
    • 215 - 217 The results of truly seeking
    • 218 - 219 Renewal of religion
  • 220 - 225 Truth of Muhammad and the Qur'an
    • 226 - 227 Supreme station of the Qur'an
    • 228 - 231 The ignorant reject the Qur'an
    • 232 - 233 The Qur'an is for everyone, not dependent on human learning
    • 234 - 235 Denied that Muhammad brought something new
    • 236 - 237 The deniers said "No Prophet shall come after..."
  • 238 - 245 Paralleling Muhammad and the Bab
    • 238 - 241 Some declared the Messenger a calumniator
      • 238 - 239 Muhammad
      • 240 - 241 The Bab
    • 242 - 243 Persecution of followers who honour the old Messenger
      • 242 Muhammad
      • 243 The Bab
    • 244 - 245 They deny newly revealed verses
      • 244 Muhammad
      • 245 The Bab
  • 246 - 255 The Followers
    • 246 Some always seek Him out, usually unknown and unlearned
    • 247 Today, they are the learned who follow
      • 248 Names of some of them
      • 249 - 250 The proof of what they endured
      • 251 Comparison to the Imam Husayn
    • 252 - 255 The Divine Touchstone, separating the true from the false
  • 256 - 285 Proofs of the Bab's Mission
    • 256 - The Bab outlines the denials He faced
    • 257 - 261 Proof - The Bab's steadfastness
    • 262 - The Bab's life
    • 263 - 264 - His followers suffer persecution similar to previous Messengers
    • 265 Consider their sufferings and become firmer in the Faith (cf paragraph 6)
    • 266 - 275 Traditions
    • 276 - Caution to the Babi leaders
    • 277 - 279 Baha'u'llah's recent experiences
    • 280 The pure will understand, the covetous will not
    • 281 - 283 More traditions
    • 284 - 285 Interpreting traditions
  • 286 - 290 Conclusion
    • 286 Caution
    • 287-290 References to Baha'u'llah's Station


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Paragraph 101

And now, We beseech the people of the Bayán, all the learned, the sages, the divines, and witnesses amongst them, not to forget the wishes and admonitions revealed in their Book. Let them, at all times, fix their gaze upon the essentials of His Cause, lest when He, Who is the Quintessence of truth, the inmost Reality of all things, the Source of all light, is made manifest, they cling unto certain passages of the Book, and inflict upon Him that which was inflicted in the Dispensation of the Qur’án. For, verily, powerful is He, the King of divine might, to extinguish with one letter of His wondrous words, the breath of life in the whole of the Bayán and the people thereof, and with one letter bestow upon them a new and everlasting life, and cause them to arise and speed out of the sepulchres of their vain and selfish desires. Take heed, and be watchful; and remember that all things have their consummation in belief in Him, in attainment unto His day, and in the realization of His divine presence. “There is no piety in turning your faces toward the east or toward the west, but he is pious who believeth in God and the Last Day.” Give ear, O people of the Bayán, unto the truth whereunto We have admonished you, that haply ye may seek the shelter of the shadow extended, in the Day of God, upon all mankind.


Well, dear Reader, here we are: the last paragraph of Part 1. What a journey.

Now, to be honest, looking back at the previous paragraph, we would have ended it there. It sure seems like a nice conclusion. We would have been very satisfied with it. But then, we're not Manifestations of God. (See paragraphs 1 - 100 for more details.)

Not only does Baha'u'llah give us the basic parameters for truly searching for truth (see paragraphs 1 - 6), some examples of previous Manifestations that the reader already recognizes (see paragraphs 7 - 23), and expound upon a single verse of that holy Person, Jesus, (see paragraphs 24 - 98), He also places the feet of the reader upon that path that will surely lead to the recognition of that Manifestation of God for this Day, the Bab (see paragraphs 99 and 100). Beyond that, He also lays the foundation for the recognition of Him Whom God shall make Manifest, helping us understand that the criteria for recognizing the Bab will be the same as those criteria for recognizing His own Station.

Surely that must be enough.

But really, one of those amazing things about Manifestations is that They see vistas we can't even dream about. Here, in paragraph 101, He lifts us up to that greater vista.

Now that it is fairly certain that the uncle to whom this book is addressed will recognize that high station of his Nephew and become a Babi, Baha'u'llah takes a moment to address all the Babis, those "people of the Bayan".

And what does He say? It is not enough to recognize the Bab.

We must be supremely heedful of that most important message the Bab gave. When the Pivot of the Bab's teachings declares His Mission, when Him Whom God shall make Manifest appears, we must not fall into those same old errors. We should not cling to certain verses and deny Him due to our own limited understanding, and inflict great harm to Him. For He is supreme. Baha'u'llah, after all this time helping raise our vision of Jesus, Muhammad and the Bab, helping us get a better vision of Their greatness, reminds us that the One to come is far greater.

Now, that being said, this, too, would make a great ending point. But remember, we're not Manifestations. (See above.)

Now that we can recognize the Bab, and have the tools to recognize Baha'u'llah, the question remains, "So what?" How does that change our life? What do we do about it?

That, dear Reader, is Part 2.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Paragraph 100

O affectionate seeker! Shouldst thou soar in the holy realm of the spirit, thou wouldst recognize God manifest and exalted above all things, in such wise that thine eyes would behold none else but Him. “God was alone; there was none else besides Him.” So lofty is this station that no testimony can bear it witness, neither evidence do justice to its truth. Wert thou to explore the sacred domain of truth, thou wilt find that all things are known only by the light of His recognition, that He hath ever been, and will continue for ever to be, known through Himself. And if thou dwellest in the land of testimony, content thyself with that which He, Himself, hath revealed: “Is it not enough for them that We have sent down unto Thee the Book?” This is the testimony which He, Himself, hath ordained; greater proof than this there is none, nor ever will be: “This proof is His Word; His own Self, the testimony of His truth.”


To start our look at this paragraph, we would like to look again at the last sentence of paragraph 99. "It is incumbent upon thee, by the permission of God, to cleanse the eye of thine heart from the things of the world, that thou mayest realize the infinitude of divine knowledge, and mayest behold Truth so clearly that thou wilt need no proof to demonstrate His reality, nor any evidence to bear witness unto His testimony." Our goal is to be so certain that we need no proof. But really, we just ain't there. Here, in recognition of this truth of our own state, He addresses us as an "affectionate seeker". We are still seeking. We are still looking for proof. Perhaps it is proof of the claim of the Bab, or maybe even proof of our own faith. Time and again throughout this book, Baha'u'llah has talked about the various proofs that people are seeking.

Everyone asks for proofs, but really, is there any greater proof than His own life? The Messenger's own Words? What more can we offer? Nothing.

Isn't that what faith in Them has always been based on? Their life and their words?

As we pause and consider this, we notice that Baha'u'llah has given us, yet again, another path which we can walk. We notice that this paragraph describes three states in which we can find ourselves.

First, if we are to "soar in the holy realm of the spirit", then we would recognize that God is above all things.

Second, if we are to "explore the sacred domain of truth", then we will discover that everything is only recognizable in light of the recognition of God.

Third, if we are to dwell "in the land of testimony", then we should be content with what God has revealed.

As we have said, over and over, all of Part 1 seems to be about recognizing a Manifestation of God. The questions that the Uncle of the Bab, which led to the revelation of this incredible work, were all about various proofs that he was trying to understand. But Baha'u'llah doesn't seem to be content with this. It is as if He is saying, "Great. You've recognized. Now what? What are you going to do about it?"

How many countless people throughout history have recognized a Messenger but not done anything about it? In a very real sense, this reminds us of the beginning of Ruhi Book 1. "The betterment of the world can be accomplished through pure and goodly deeds..." "Let deeds, not words, be your adorning."

This paragraph, in one sense, is the ultimate point of Part 1. It is the culmination of recognition. We have recognized. Good for us. What are we going to do about it? And that, dear Reader, is Part 2.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Paragraph 99

Dear friend! Now when the light of God’s everlasting Morn is breaking; when the radiance of His holy words: “God is the light of the heavens and of the earth” is shedding illumination upon all mankind; when the inviolability of His tabernacle is being proclaimed by His sacred utterance: “God hath willed to perfect His light;” and the Hand of omnipotence, bearing His testimony: “In His grasp He holdeth the kingdom of all things,” is being outstretched unto all the peoples and kindreds of the earth; it behooveth us to gird up the loins of endeavour, that haply, by the grace and bounty of God, we may enter the celestial City: “Verily, we are God’s,” and abide within the exalted habitation: “And unto Him we do return.” It is incumbent upon thee, by the permission of God, to cleanse the eye of thine heart from the things of the world, that thou mayest realize the infinitude of divine knowledge, and mayest behold Truth so clearly that thou wilt need no proof to demonstrate His reality, nor any evidence to bear witness unto His testimony.


Wow. Here we are. After more than six dozen paragraphs devoted to looking at one passage from Matthew 24, we are at the tail-end of Part 1. This whole section, from the very beginning to this point, has all been about how we can begin to recognize a Manifestation of the Divine Spirit.

It all began with cleansing our heart, and looking again at some of the Messengers we already recognize. Once we see some of the things They have in common, Baha'u'llah turned our attention to that beautiful passage, that promise from Jesus Himself, and how it applied to Muhammad, and hence, how it applies to all Messengers. He showed us how much more there was in these lines than we ever imagined. There truly are more things in heaven and hell, Horatio, then we ever dreamed of.

Here, with this first paragraph of the conclusion of Part 1, He is suddenly very intimate with us again. "Dear Friend." This is someone who is close to us, We are close to Him. If we have made it this far, we must be an intimate of His, and He is helping us see how to become even closer.

There are two paths that we notice within this paragraph. Likely there are more, but we will concern ourselves with only two of them.

First, looking at the active parts within this paragraph, we can see that morning has arrived. "The light of God's everlasting Morn is breaking." We can easily see ourselves lost in the desert, like the Jewish peoples at the time of Moses, and the warm light of the sun is beginning to shed its splendor over the horizon.

Second, it is specifically the light of God's Word that is causing this light to appear, and it is appearing to everyone.

Third, we have that reference to the tabernacle again. We are reminded of its sacredness, and the fact that nothing can break or corrupt it. We were just reminded of the sacred nature of the holy Bible in the previous few paragraphs, and can apply this to all sacred Texts.

Fourth, while the Tabernacle is a specific reference to the Jewish peoples, Baha'u'llah is telling us that this time, God is reaching out to all the peoples and kindreds of the earth. He is talking to all. Nobody is excluded.

Finally, it is in our best interest to not sit back and merely look at or study the sacred Texts, important as study is, but to endeavour. We are to get up and work. We are to strive and labour, to do our utmost to reach this station. And if we are lucky, then we might be blessed enough to "enter the celestial City". Furthermore, not only are trying to get into that city, but our actual goal is "the exalted habitation". And with luck, we may be allowed to abide within it.

Of course, this adds another dimension of struggle. Abide, as you know, means to remain with in times of great trouble.

So here we are, in the wilderness of the desert, watching the sun come up. We are aware of the importance of the sacred tent behind us, and we are moving towards the Promised Land, that great city. We enter it, and with great difficulty, seek out the holy household. At the same time, we are also learning about the importance of remaining in this house even when it is difficult.

By the way, we don't feel that this is all merely in relation to Muhammad, even though it has all been about how the uncle of the Bab has come to recognize the Prophet of God. We don't feel that this is even solely about the Bab, Whom Baha'u'llah is helping this uncle to recognize. Nor do we feel that this is directly or indirectly about Baha'u'llah, Himself. We feel that all of this, from the very beginning up to this point of the book, has been about how we can recognize any Manifestation of the Divine Spirit. We feel that this has been about all of Them.

Anyways, on to that second path.

We get the feeling that there is another path hidden within these beautiful Words, namely through the quotes that He uses. In order, they read:

  • God is the light of the heavens and of the earth
  • God hath willed to perfect His light
  • In His grasp He holdeth the kingdom of all things
  • Verily, we are God’s
  • And unto Him we do return

The light is breaking, and that light is God. He is the true light of both the heavens and the earth. But let's face it, that light is blinding. It is difficult for us to see. In order for the light to be more effective, to be more "perfect", He is helping us acclimatize to it. He is giving us the means by which we can better see it. After all, if the light is out there, but we cannot bear it, what good is it to us?

No. God wants us to be able to see it, and this is one of the reasons He has sent us the Messengers.

But let's not forget, everything is within His grasp, and that includes us. It includes both the heavens and the earth. It even includes the Messengers Themselves.

Everything is God's. And to Him do we all, eventually, return.