February 10, 2015

“In the beginning there was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) – ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s explanation

….it is recorded in the Gospel of St. John, that in the beginning there was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Now the majority of Christians accept this principle as a matter of belief, but we give an explanation and exposition which is accepted by reason, and in such a way that no one may find occasion to reject it.

The Christians have made this statement the foundation of the Trinity -- but philosophizers deny it as mere superstition, stating that Trinity as regards the identity of the Divinity is impossible and in turn the Christians do not give a satisfactory explanation and interpretation to be accepted by philosophers.

As the former base their whole exposition of this subject upon the authority of the Holy Scriptures the latter do not accept it, saying, "Is it possible to have three in one, and one in three?”

We explain this subject as follows: The eternity of the Word is not an eternity of time, for if this were an eternity of time, the Word would have been accidental, and not eternal. By the Word we mean that this creation with its infinite forms is like unto letters, and the individual members of humanity are likewise like unto letters. A letter individually has no meaning, no independent significance, but the station of Christ is the station of the Word. Complete and independent significance is implied in a word. That is why we say Christ is the Word. By complete significance we mean that the universal bestowals of the perfection of Divinity are manifest in Christ. It is obvious that the perfections of other souls are particular, or only a part, but the perfections of the Christ are universal or the whole. The Reality of Christ possesses complete and self-sufficient perfections.

October 25, 2014

“Mary the Magdalene, that lioness of God”

At the time His Holiness Jesus Christ was crucified, there were eleven disciples and even they were doubting -- Peter heading them -- until Mary the Magdalene, that lioness of God, strengthened them and was the cause of confirming them. Then consider how great were the results! 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (From a talk, San Francisco, October 5, 1912; Star of the West, vol. 10, no. 13, November 4, 1919) (To read the entire talk please visit: Talks of ‘Abdu’l-Baha)

April 20, 2012

Interpretation of a verse in the Bible: "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that he hath.” (Matthew 13:12, 25:29, Mark 4: 25, and Luke 8:18 and 19:26)

On Wednesday, June 13, 1906, while at luncheon, my wife [Florence] asked 'Abdu'l-Baha concerning the interpretation of the following verse of the Gospel: "To him that hath shall be given, and from him that hath not shall be taken away even that he hath.” [Matthew 13:12, 25:29, Mark 4: 25, and Luke 8:18 and 19:26]

In answer 'Abdu'l-Baha said in part:

"This is the exposition of one of the great questions of Divine Wisdom which Christ has couched in this brief and simple utterance. The great question is this: In the world of existence, pause (or discontinuation of progress) marks the beginning of fall and decadence. For instance, as long as the bird soars or moves upward in the air, it is in progress. But no sooner it pauses than it begins to descend. Or, as long as a merchant lives on the interest or income produced by his capital his business is successful and in progress. But no sooner he begins to consume his capital then the beginning of his decadence is reached and he inclines toward bankruptcy. Hence it is customary amongst men of trade and business to say of one who draws on his capital for self-sustenance, 'It is all over with him.' Now by the word of Christ, ‘To him that hath shall be given,' is meant briefly: To him that hath the capital of Truth and Faith shall be given an increase of such when he employs this capital by living up to the requirements of Faith, and by communicating them to others in word and deed. Thus he who is endowed with any degree of capacity and ability must constantly exert himself in order to increase them, or he will see the beginning of failure and decadence. For this pause is like unto consuming ones capital, or allowing his capacity to decrease and thus fulfilling in himself the verdict, 'And from him that hath not shall be taken away even that he hath.'" 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (from a talk in Holy Land, 1906, recorded by ‘Ali-Kuli Khan in 'Pilgrim Notes')

March 15, 2012

The meaning of ‘God created heaven and earth in six days'

The verse ‘God created heaven and earth in six days' has reference to the Day of God and the spiritual creation, for there was no day or night before the creation of this heaven and earth. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, New York, December 4, 1912, Mahmud’s Diary’)

February 23, 2012

‘Abdu’l-Baha responds to a question: Does the Baha’i Faith accept the Bible?

[While aboard the ship to America, an American asked whether the Bahá'í Faith accepted the Bible. `Abdu'l-Bahá replied:]

This Cause acknowledges the truth of all the Books and all the Manifestations of God. The heavenly teachings are composed of two kinds of commandments. One kind is concerned with spiritual verities, with the perfections and virtues of the world of humanity. These commandments never change or alter. Each of the Books and the Prophets was the promulgator of these principles upon which all the religions are based, hence the foundation of all the divine religions is one. The second category of commandments is concerned with material principles and social issues. These are altered according to the exigencies of the age. For example, at the time of Christ the social laws of the Torah were changed. 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Words of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, aboard Cedric, on the way to America, March 27, 1912; Mahmud’s Diary)

January 8, 2012

Comparing Teachings of Jesus and Baha’u’llah

While in London, a friend asked ‘Abdu’l-Baha how the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh contrasted with the teachings of Jesus Christ. ‘Abdu’l-Baha responded:

"The teachings are the same. It is the same foundation and the same temple. Truth is one, and without division. The teachings of Jesus are in a concentrated form. Men do not agree to this day as to the meaning of many of His sayings. His teachings are as a flower in the bud. Today, the bud is unfolding into a flower! Bahá'u'lláh has expanded and fulfilled the teachings, and has applied them in detail to the whole world." 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Abdu'l-Baha in London)

December 5, 2011

The bounty and power of God is limitless for each human soul – example of Mary Magdalene

A friend asked 'Abdu'l-Bahá how far the individual could attain to that Christ consciousness in himself of which St. Paul speaks as our hope of Glory.

'Abdu'l-Bahá turned with a look of great joy and said with an impressive gesture: "The bounty and power of God is limitless for each human soul. Consider what was the quickening power of the Christ when He was on earth. Look at His disciples! They were poor and uncultured men. Out of the rough fisherman He made the great Peter, and out of the poor village girl of Magdala He made one who is a power in all the world today. Many queens have reigned who are remembered by their dates in history, and nothing more is known of them. But Mary the Magdalene is greater than them all. It was she whose love strengthened the disciples when their faith was failing. What she did for the world cannot be measured. See what a divine power was enkindled in her by the power of God!" 
- 'Abdu'l-Baha  (Abdu'l-Baha in London)

December 3, 2011

A “spiritual consultation” among the Disciples of Christ

The most memorable instance of spiritual consultation was the meeting of the disciples of Jesus Christ upon the mount after His ascension. They said, "Jesus Christ has been crucified, and we have no longer association and intercourse with Him in His physical body; therefore, we must be loyal and faithful to Him, we must be grateful and appreciate Him, for He has raised us from the dead, He made us wise, He has given us eternal life. What shall we do to be faithful to Him?" And so they held council. One of them said, "We must detach ourselves from the chains and fetters of the world; otherwise, we cannot be faithful." The others replied, "That is so." Another said, "Either we must be married and faithful to our wives and children or serve our Lord free from these ties. We cannot be occupied with the care and provision for families and at the same time herald the Kingdom in the wilderness. Therefore, let those who are unmarried remain so, and those who have married provide means of sustenance and comfort for their families and then go forth to spread the message of glad-tidings." There were no dissenting voices; all agreed, saying, "That is right." A third disciple said, "To perform worthy deeds in the Kingdom we must be further self-sacrificing. From now on we should forego ease and bodily comfort, accept every difficulty, forget self and teach the Cause of God." This found acceptance and approval by all the others. Finally a fourth disciple said, "There is still another aspect to our faith and unity. For Jesus' sake we shall be beaten, imprisoned and exiled. They may kill us. Let us receive this lesson now. Let us realize and resolve that though we are beaten, banished, cursed, spat upon and led forth to be killed, we shall accept all this joyfully, loving those who hate and wound us." All the disciples replied, "Surely we will — it is agreed; this is right." Then they descended from the summit of the mountain, and each went forth in a different direction upon his divine mission. This was true consultation. This was spiritual consultation and not the mere voicing of personal views … 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912’; The Compilation of Compilations, vol. I, Consultation)

October 29, 2011

The Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is the same as the Cause of Christ

The Cause of Bahá'u'lláh is the same as the Cause of Christ. It is the same Temple and the same Foundation. Both of these are Spiritual Springs, the seasons of the soul-refreshing awakening and the cause of the renovation of the life of mankind. The spring of this year is the same as the spring of last year. The origin and end are the same. The sun of today is the sun of yesterday. In the coming of Christ, the divine teachings were given in accordance with the infancy of the human race. The teachings of Bahá'u'lláh have the same basic principles, but are according to the stage of the maturity of the world and the requirements of this illumined age 
- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (Star of the West, vol. 19, no. 1, April 1928)

October 23, 2011

The ramification of two statements of Christ in the Bible: "Let the dead bury their dead”, and "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

The world of humanity cannot advance through mere physical powers and intellectual attainments; nay, rather, the Holy Spirit is essential. The divine Father must assist the human world to attain maturity. The body of man is in need of physical and mental energy, but his spirit requires the life and fortification of the Holy Spirit. Without its protection and quickening the human world would be extinguished. Jesus Christ declared, "Let the dead bury their dead." He also said, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." It is evident, therefore, according to Christ that the human spirit which is not fortified by the presence of the Holy Spirit is dead and in need of resurrection by that divine power; otherwise, though materially advanced to high degrees, man cannot attain full and complete progress. 
- ‘Abdu'l-Baha  (‘The Promulgation of Universal Peace)

September 9, 2011

Proofs that Moses was a divine Manifestation of God

Among the holy, divine Manifestations of God was His Holiness Moses. The sending of prophets has ever been for the training of humanity. They are the first educators and trainers. If Moses has developed the body-politic, there is no doubt that he was a true teacher and educator. This will be proof and evidence that he was a prophet. We shall consider how His Holiness was sent to despair, in the lowest degree of ignorance, and heedlessness, degraded and under conditions of bondage. His Holiness Moses rescued these degraded people of Israel from that state of bondage. He raised them from that condition of ignorance, saved them from barbarism and led them into the Holy Land. He educated them, endowed them with sagacious instincts, made them worthy and honorable. He civilized them, raised them to a higher plane of existence until they were enabled to establish a national sovereignty, the great kingdom of Solomon. This proves that His Holiness Moses was a teacher and an educator. He had neither army nor dominion, neither did he possess wealth. It was only through an idealistic power that he cemented them together proving that he was a prophet of God, an educator and trainer. 
- ‘Abdu’l-Baha  (The Promulgation of Universal Peace, Talks Delivered by 'Abdu'l-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912)

September 5, 2011

Question: What are the characteristics of the New Era according to the Bible?

Answer: by George Townshend, Hand of the Cause and former Canon of Anglican St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.

a) Justice, government and law for all nations

"Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." (Isa. 9:7)

"For the kingdom is the Lord's: and He is the governor among the nations." (Ps. 22:28)

"Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." (Ps. 85:l0) (See also: II Samuel 7:12-16; I Chronicles 16:33; Psalms 50:6; 72: 1-19; 82:8; Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:6; 32:1-3; 43:9; Jeremiah 31:33; 33:15; Obadiah 21)

August 14, 2011

References in the Bible to "Mt. Paran" and "Paraclete"

References in the Bible to "Mt. Paran" and "Paraclete" refer to Muhammad's Revelation. Deuteronomy 33.2; Genesis 21.21.; Numbers 12.16; Numbers 13.3; Genesis 17.20 refers to the twelve Imams and in the Revelation of St. John, Chap. 11.; where it mentions two witnesses, it refers to Muhammad and Ali. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, ‘Letters from the Guardian to Australia and New Zealand’)

August 11, 2011

The soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world

The Prophets, unlike us, are pre-existent. The soul of Christ existed in the spiritual world before His birth in this world. We cannot imagine what that world is like, so words are inadequate to picture His state of being. (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 'High Endeavours - Messages to Alaska’)

July 13, 2011

When asked by a passenger aboard the ship to America whether the Bahá'í Faith accepts the Bible, ‘Abdu’l-Baha replied:

This Cause acknowledges the truth of all the Books and all the Manifestations of God. The heavenly teachings are composed of two kinds of commandments. One kind is concerned with spiritual verities, with the perfections and virtues of the world of humanity. These commandments never change or alter. Each of the Books and the Prophets was the promulgator of these principles upon which all the religions are based, hence the foundation of all the divine religions is one. The second category of commandments is concerned with material principles and social issues. These are altered according to the exigencies of the age. For example, at the time of Christ the social laws of the Torah were changed. (‘Abdu’l-Baha, quoted in ‘Mahmud’s Diary, The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling `Abdu'l-Bahá's Journey to America’, p. 19)