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.