Consider how with this one verse which hath descended from the heaven of the Will of God, the world and all that is therein have been brought to a reckoning with Him. Whosoever acknowledged His truth and turned unto Him, his good works outweighed his misdeeds, and all his sins were remitted and forgiven. Thereby is the truth of these words concerning Him made manifest: “Swift is He in reckoning.” Thus God turneth iniquity into righteousness, were ye to explore the realms of divine knowledge, and fathom the mysteries of His wisdom. In like manner, whosoever partook of the cup of love, obtained his portion of the ocean of eternal grace and of the showers of everlasting mercy, and entered into the life of faith—the heavenly and everlasting life. But he that turned away from that cup was condemned to eternal death. By the terms “life” and “death,” spoken of in the scriptures, is intended the life of faith and the death of unbelief. The generality of the people, owing to their failure to grasp the meaning of these words, rejected and despised the person of the Manifestation, deprived themselves of the light of His divine guidance, and refused to follow the example of that immortal Beauty.
You may notice the similarity between this and the previous paragraphs. In the last few, He talked about how, with a single word, Muhammad separated all these things from all these other things, such as "light from darkness, the righteous from the ungodly, and the believing from the infidel". He also mentioned the problem with taking some of these verses literally, such as the lamb and the wolf enjoying a good meal together.
Here, as in many instances in Part 1, He points out that life and death, when mentioned in the scriptures, in this manner, means "the life of faith and the death of unbelief". In other words, it is not meant to be taken literally.
We could talk about this a lot, really, but it seems that anything we say would be merely repeating what Baha'u'llah has already said, and we would do it in a more lengthy, and less interesting, manner.
Instead, we noticed the word "consider". This is a point where we can consider so many things, and this time we want to use this paragraph to do something a little different. Look at the word "ocean". It is used here in a similar manner to how He uses it elsewhere in this book, so we would see how it is used throughout.
The first instance, as you will no doubt recall, is in the very first sentence: No man shall attain the shores of the ocean of true understanding... (1)
He also refers, in subsequent paragraphs, to:
- the ocean of the divine presence (2)
- ocean of truths treasured in these holy words (3)
- the ocean of true understanding (4)
- the ocean of His bountiful grace (5)
- the ocean of divine knowledge (6)
- the billowing ocean of God's grace (7)
- the ocean of His tender mercies (8)
- the oceans of wisdom (9)
- the ocean of eternal grace (10)
- the ocean of faith (11)
- the ocean of divine mercy (12)
- the ocean of the inner meaning of these words (13)
- the Ocean of everlasting bounty (14)
- the ocean of eternal grace (15)
- the ocean of acceptance (16)
- the ocean of His knowledge (17)
- the oceans of ancient and everlasting holiness (18)
- the ocean of ancient Knowledge (19)
- that Ocean of divine wisdom (20)
As we noticed, fairly quickly, many of them refer to some form of knowledge.
But is there a path here? Well, let's find out.
It begins with the ocean of true understanding (1) and our search to reach its shores. Let's suppose that this desire comes from our understanding of the previous scriptures. We begin with sincere search, and attain, in the Day of our Lord, the divine presence(2). Once we have attained His presence, we truly begin to see the deep truths treasured in these holy words (3), as we are discovering in this very book. This leads us on to a true understanding (4), and helps us unravel the mysteries in those very texts.
When we reach this higher understanding, based on the Writings of Baha'u'llah, we begin to receive His bountiful grace (5), which carries us forward to divine knowledge (6). Previously, it may have been our own deficient knowledge, based on our sincere understanding, but now it is closer to Baha'u'llah's, and yet we are still only at the very beginning of this path. We must continue to study and reflect on His Words. We must act on them, moving them off the page and into our daily lives. We have to reflect on our actions and, in light of the guidance from His mighty Pen, strive to make every day an improvement over yesterday. This is when we will get a far greater sense of the billowing ocean of God's grace (7). This is when we can truly see His tender mercies (8).
Sometimes, though, we will encounter tests and difficulties. This isn't just a possibility. It is a guarantee. As we move forward, we know that we are making progress because the road is getting more difficult. If it wasn't getting more difficult, we wouldn't be able to grow. It is like when we exercise our body. If we do not push ourselves, we will not gain any benefit. When we look past our own comfort to the end of things, then we can begin to sense God's wisdom (9). When we reconcile ourselves to God's will, and strive to maintain that radiant acquiescence in the face of tests and trials, then we can begin to get a sense of His eternal grace (10). Again, it may seem like step seven, but it is, in truth, a spiral. We see this grace at a higher level. We understand more thoroughly that He is always bestowing upon us His ever-loving favours. We see the wisdom of the struggle, and the benefits that arise from it. and while we may not actively enjoy it, we accept it gracefully and radiantly.
This is when we have truly started on that path of faith (11) that Baha'u'llah describes, that path in which we are willing to give up everything. When we do this, all those tests and trials seem to fade in His light, and we sense that continual divine mercy (12) in our life. It is not a temporary thing, that we only sense when things are going well, but even recognize when those difficult times are before us.
It is only then that we can truly start to appreciate the inner meaning of these words (13), and not just their surface meaning. We see many layers of meaning in all His Words. We see truths in the former scriptures that we never sensed before, things that were hidden to our eyes, but are now evident in light of historical experience. Now we begin to sense His everlasting bounty (14) in a whole new way, and can get an even higher sense of that eternal grace (15). As we read the Iqan, we recognize that this eternal grace is far more profound than we had imagined. This is when we are better able to enter into that state of acceptance (16) with whatsoever He has ordained. We see more clearly that cycle He has described of crisis and victory. We see the various twistings and turnings of history as nothing more than curves on that eternal road of history, leading us ever forward to that promised Kingdom.
When we see this, when we truly begin to accept whatever He has ordained for us, then we find ourselves at a whole new level of His knowledge (17). This is when we begin to get an even grander sense of His ancient and everlasting holiness (18). This is when we can clearly see the truths in all faiths and recognize His overwhelming presence in all of history. We see ourselves not as some random, final pinnacle of history, but as another step in that eternal path God has laid out for us. We see ourselves and our Faith as another pearl on that divine strand. We see the ancient Knowledge (19) intermingled, and identical to, that present Knowledge, which has been restated for today.
This, dear Reader, is when we truly begin to get a greater sense of the divine wisdom (20) that pervades all aspects of our life.
Even with all of this, we can still recall that this incredible book was written before Baha'u'llah declared His mission. And that, dear Reader, fills us with even more awe and wonder.