Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Paragraph 108

I swear by God, O esteemed and honored friend! Shouldst thou ponder these words in thine heart, thou wilt of a certainty find the doors of divine wisdom and infinite knowledge flung open before thy face.

We can only know God through His Manifestations. We know this. Here, in the fifth of nine paragraphs on this theme, Baha'u'llah encourages us, once again, to "ponder".

But what is it that He is asking us to ponder? "These words"? Which words? We are thinking that it may be that last quote from the previous paragraph, "He hath known God who hath known himself.”

Ponder it? Alright. Let's do that.

If we examine the context of this quote, then perhaps we can begin to see a bit about what He means. We already know from the previous paragraphs that we can never have a direct connection to God. We do know, however, that "within every atom are enshrined the signs" of God. We also know that "To a supreme degree is this true of man". Within each and every one of us "are potentially revealed all the attributes and names of God".

And then, after this train of thought, Baha'u'llah offers us these words to consider: "He hath known God who hath known himself."

Now, it is interesting to consider what He doesn't say. At no point does He imply that we will receive infinite knowledge, but merely that the door to this infinite knowledge will be opened before us. We won't necessarily receive this divine wisdom, but that the door to this wisdom will be accessible to us.

In order for this happen, though, we have to know our true self. Part of that is understanding our spiritual nature, but another part of it is understanding our position in the grand scheme of things. Remember way back at the beginning of the Book, we talked a lot about the humility that would be needed to begin to understand what Baha'u'llah is saying? This detachment from our own ideas, and being open to new ways of seeing? Well, isn't that true here, too? Isn't this humility part of taking the step through these open doors? We may have a bit of knowledge, but when we understand that this knowledge is as nothing compared to that divine Knowledge of which ours is but a shadow, then we step onto that path of wisdom. When we turn to the divine Messenger for better understanding of our role and purpose in the world, then we take the step towards an infinite knowledge, a knowledge that is just hinted at in the Writings.

But if we never understand our true self, then we can never know God. If we do not recognize our spiritual nature, and our position in the universe, then we will never begin to know God, for we will blind ourselves to His greatness by placing ourselves in His position.

Once again, we find ourselves referring back to the opening paragraph of Part 2, in which we are told of the remoteness of God, and how the Messenger is revealing to us "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."

If Part 1 is all about this recognition of the Manifestation for today, then Part 2 seems to be, as we have said before, primarily about obedience. By helping us understand the supreme station of the Manifestation, a station that is so far beyond what we have previously imagined, then we will be a in a far greater position to be obedient to His counsels out of our love for Him. So much of Part 2 revolves around this obedience, and is just filled with stories of the great heights to which the heroes of the faith have found themselves through their obedience that we cannot help but be inspired to strive to follow in their footsteps.

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