Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Paragraph 77

The heart must needs therefore be cleansed from the idle sayings of men, and sanctified from every earthly affection, so that it may discover the hidden meaning of divine inspiration, and become the treasury of the mysteries of divine knowledge. Thus hath it been said: "He that treadeth the snow-white Path, and followeth in the footsteps of the Crimson Pillar, shall never attain unto his abode unless his hands are empty of those worldly things cherished by men." This is the prime requisite of whosoever treadeth this path. Ponder thereon, that, with eyes unveiled, thou mayest perceive the truth of these words.

This is the fourth of those twelve paragraphs that look at the phrase "And then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." And in this paragraph, He brings us right back to the beginning: detachment and sanctifying ourselves. We must "cleanse ourselves from all that is earthly": our "ears from idle talk", our "minds from vain imaginings" and our "hearts from worldly affections".

Over and over, throughout this entire book, He continually reminds us of this starting point.

His use of the word "therefore" brings us back to the previous paragraph. If our hearts are not cleansed, then we will fall prey to the Satanic knowledge instead of rising up to the heavenly knowledge. When we do cleans ourselves of all these things, then we have the chance of discovering the hidden meanings.

This purification, He says, is the prime requisite for all of this.

Looking at the phrase "the idle sayings of men" reminds us of how so many people take little catch-phrases from their faith or their traditions, instead of looking at the far deeper meanings latent within them. For example, we use the phrase "turn the other cheek" to basically mean if someone slaps you, let him slap you again. Of course, nobody learns anything from this. But when we go back to the actual phrase in the Bible, Jesus specifically says, "If a man strikes you on the right cheek, offer him your left." For someone to strike you on the right cheek means that they are using their left hand. It is an act of insult, more than an act of aggressive violence. By simply turning your right cheek to them, you are offering them the opportunity to do exactly the same motion again, but if they do, they will strike you square in the face. This is a higher order of aggression, and one that many would not be willing to take. Or if they do, then everyone around would arise to your defense, saying "Hey, he didn't do anything. Leave him alone." The aggressor either learns shame and humility by not striking a second blow, or they learn about collective security if they do strike. No matter which direction they turn, they have learned a spiritual lesson. Isn't that far more worthy a lesson from Jesus than the simple "let him strike you again"?

He also reminds to "ponder". Take the time. Think about what He is saying, and try to understand the depth of the truth of His words.

Just this morning, we, the writers of this blog, were talking about this. We were commenting on how in Western civilization we have been trained to see ourselves as consumers, and not as spiritual beings. Our whole society is all about gaining and growing your material possessions. Not only has this led to catastrophic results with the environment, it has inhibited our relationships with other people. We have substituted shallow entertainment for meaningful discourse. We have come to see each other as opportunities for financial gain instead of dear friends living in the same community.

Baha'u'llah, and all the religious teachers, is continually reminding us to put away these material things and seek the underlying spiritual essence. In fact, when we were saying our prayers before writing this today, we read the following quote: "If ye be seekers after this life and the vanities thereof, ye should have sought them while ye were still enclosed in your mothers' wombs, for at that time ye were continually approaching them, could ye but perceive it. Ye have, on the other hand, ever since ye were born and attained maturity, been all the while receding from the world and drawing closer to dust. Why, then, exhibit such greed in amassing the treasures of the earth, when your days are numbered and your chance is well-nigh lost? Will ye not, then, O heedless ones, shake off your slumber?"

We could easily go on and on about this very theme, but when we sneak a peek at the next paragraph, Baha'u'llah Himself says "We have digressed from the purpose of Our argument". And so we will leave it here, and move on for now.